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4951  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Government spending & Obama's Aunt Zeituni:'System Took Advantage Of Me' on: September 21, 2010, 08:23:31 AM
This story of course would go unnoticed if not for her famous nephew, leader of the free world.
Taxpayer funds were paying her to live here illegally long before he became famous.  Do you wonder how many million others?

I agree with her on one point, it is the voters fault for the programs, not the recipient for taking it.

http://wbztv.com/local/obama.aunt.zeituni.2.1921954.html
Aunt Zeituni: 'The System Took Advantage Of Me'
President Obama's Aunt Speaks Exclusively With WBZ-TV

"If I come as an immigrant, you have the obligation to make me a citizen." Those are the words from 58-year-old Zeituni Onyango of Kenya in a recent exclusive interview with WBZ-TV.

Onyango is the aunt of President Barack Obama. She has been living in the United States illegally for years, receiving public assistance in Boston.

Aunt Zeituni, as she has come to be known, first surfaced in the public light in 2008, in the final days of the Presidential election. Then-candidate Obama said that he was not against the possible deportation of his aunt. "If she has violated laws, then those laws have to be obeyed," he told CBS's Katie Couric. "We are a nation of laws."

Onyango had violated the law, and she knew it.

"I knew I had overstayed" she told WBZ-TV's Jonathan Elias when the two sat down one-on-one.

Zeituni Onyango said she came to the United States in 2000 and had every intention of leaving. Then, however, she says she got deathly ill and was hospitalized. When she recovered, she said she was broke and couldn't afford to leave.

For two years Onyango said she lived in a homeless shelter, before she was moved into public housing. "I didn't take advantage of the system. The system took advantage of me."

"I didn't ask for it; they gave it to me. Ask your system. I didn't create it or vote for it. Go and ask your system," she said unapologetically.

And she's right. The system provided her assistance despite her status as an illegal immigrant.

In 2004 a judge ordered Zeituni Onyango out of the country, but she never left. She stayed, hiding in plain site. In 2005 she attended her nephew's swearing in as the junior Senator of Illinois. In 2008 she traveled to D.C. for President Obama's inauguration.

Onyango hired a top immigration lawyer from Cleveland to help fight her case. We asked how she afforded that lawyer, when she claimed poverty.

"When you believe in Jesus Christ and almighty God, my help comes from heaven," she responded.

When asked about cutting in line ahead of those who have paid into the system she answered plainly, "I don't mind. You can take that house. I will be on the street with the homeless."

In May 2010, Onyango's case went back before the same judge who ordered her out of the country in 2004. This time she was granted asylum in the United States. The ruling said a return to Kenya might put Onyango in danger.

So she is now here legally, still living on public assistance and hoping that the spotlight on her will dim.



http://wbztv.com/local/obama.aunt.zeituni.2.1921954.html
4952  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Glibness/ What D'Souza doesn't get quite right (about Obama) on: September 20, 2010, 10:36:01 AM
Just wanted to re-visit a Forbes piece by Dinesh D'Souzaa I posted recently with a contrary opinion.  These authors have competing books coming out.  I think both are partly right but this author seems to have his facts better documented.

Jack Cashill (link below from American Thinker) thinks D'Souza takes too much from Obama's book without acknowledging that it was largely written by Bill Ayers with Obama's notes and memoirs.  So Obama Sr. was an anti-colonialist and our Obama picked up some of that but really never knew his abandoning father from Kenya, likely didn't meet him the first 10 years, never grew up with him and skipped his funeral.  More likely Obama took his foundations of American leftism from his abandoning mother from Kansas and the characters like Ayers he would meet along the way.

Cashill takes several examples of overlap between Obama's book 'Dreams' and Ayers other writings to conclude that the storyline of the father he never knew growing up wasn't the writing of young Barack's in the first place.  Barack the future President set out to write a book about race relations, it stalled out as his bills mounted and then he asked Ayers for help (handed the project over to him).

http://www.americanthinker.com/2010/09/what_dsouza_doesnt_get_quite_r.html
4953  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: September 17, 2010, 09:08:05 AM
P.C.:"I would refer them to the 10th Amendment: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."

Crafty: "I would also add a reminder of the 9th Amendment as well as the 10th."
9th Amendment: "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people."
-----

Yes, the 10th would be the basis for the Massachusetts system and fewer people are being hurt by that and easier to dismantle than a federal program.

9th amendment is where they found the right to privacy (IIRC), an unenumerated right  that the Roe v. Wade rests on.  ObamaCare is an gigantic invasion of privacy.  How can you participate in the system without the compulsory taking of very very personal information?  
----
Don't forget the 1st amendment and I believe there is a religious out-clause in Obama-Care.  What I don't get in terms of a right of privacy and freedom of religion is why anyone would have to disclose their religion to qualify and then have the validity of the objection scrutinized by big government.  That is not freedom of religion.

My religion, home churched, has opposition to big government and socialized medicine right in the core beliefs derived from the ancient biblical principles of thou shalt not steal and thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's health coverage (or his wife or his ass).  God endowed and entrusted each one us with the capability to negotiate our own coverages and contracts in a free society and every infringement on that is a punishable sin.
----
Crafty, Perhaps a constitutional amendment could be constructed to overturn Wickard v. Filburn, the case where growing 'wheat' on private property for personal consumption only was deemed to be a form of interstate congress.  We shouldn't need one, but that could give the liberal justices something new to study rather than dream up new expansions to the commerce clause.  Might get the support of another generation that wants to grow more than wheat.
----
P.C.'s distinction between regulating and participating in commerce is brilliant! ... if not something that should be obvious to all of us.  Without drifting subjects here but this is all tied to things like removing General Motors' CEO, restructuring Chrysler's debt, arbitrary market interventions like cash for clunkers, choosing which investment houses get merged and bailed and which get closed and sold, etc.  The health care bill is all part of that runaway process of government meddling and participating, not regulating.
4954  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2010 Elections; 2012 Presidential on: September 17, 2010, 08:19:33 AM
"There goes one possible seat change?"

From a national point of view, it is the Gov. race that is screwed up, not the Senate race though trouble could certainly spill over.
4955  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Constitutional Law, Prop 8 Calif: Equal Protection, if similarly circumstanced? on: September 15, 2010, 03:06:07 PM
Another hot issue I would love to hear Bigdog's take on is Prop. 8 Gay marriage in California.  In that case the judge did strike down the will of the people so I would think the Court will step in or else it becomes settled law by one lower judge.

The 'fundamental right' at stake is marriage, but marriage has always been recognized as one man and one woman becoming husband and wife so some new combination of that  a new right and a new recognized relationship(IMO).

The legal concept at stake is Equal Protection, that is, equal protection if similarly circumstanced.

Progressive taxation allows one taxpayer to be taxed on their last or next dollar of income at very different rates and in some cases to be taxed not at all.  This passes constitutional muster in terms of equal protection under the law because it is 'equal protection, but different circumstances.

Jumping to gay marriage,  a law (state constitutional amendment) that allows a citizen to marry only only person of the opposite gender fits that exact mold in my view.  Gay people coupled and single people without a partner are not denied the right to marry one person of the opposite gender, they are just in a different circumstance.

I don't see how the Supreme Court can reject the equal protection - different circumstance argument without undermining our uneven taxation system and a host of other unequally distributed programs.   But it does sounds like a pretty good trade to me.
4956  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: September 15, 2010, 02:42:12 PM
"As a loved, but errant minor child dependent upon his parent for substance"

JDN, Not so dependent anymore.  I think roughly 1% their GDP comes from US aid; this is not like Soviets propping up Cuba.  I would assume intelligence for security in the region flows both ways.  I'm no history expert, but I think the 'parent' was the U.N.  Either way you might say the kid grew up pretty well in spite of living in a bad neighborhood and having an absent, dysfunctional parent, if that is the metaphor.

"Israel should understand, respect and carefully listen to our wishes."  - respectfully, bullsh*t IMHO.  What other ally does that?  I see more a relationship of peers or equals.  We have recently spit on them. They can listen to us and ALL the signals around them and then do what makes sense for security and survival.

There is no way today they realistically count on unwavering or timely support from the U.S. and probably not since our first lady now Sec. State played kissy-face with Mrs. Arafat or even before that.  Obama will be President for 2 more years and annihilation of Israel, the stated goal of their enemies, can take place in minutes.
----
Regarding the posts while I typed, the GM translation is the Muslim claim on the Iberian Penninsula (Spain) and extremists have already bombed Madrid.  It IS in the best interests of the U.S. that we help prevent the annihilation of Israel or any other ally and most any other country or civilization.  The difference with Israel is that threat is stated, published, promised and repeated by some pretty bad and well-armed actors. Not some wild hypothetical.  The cultural, family, political and trade connections to the US are very real also JDN and should not be discarded or discounted.
4957  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: September 15, 2010, 11:13:35 AM
Thank you Bigdog for a very helpful analysis.  I think you have it right in the sense that this court will be unlikely to jump in as it sits and for the reasons you stated, mainly that the legislation can still be scrapped, rewritten, confirmed or expanded in the political process without court intervention.

I agree that since no judge or lower court has not struck down any part of it so far, it puts no real pressure on the Supreme Court to select the case.

There was a post by Marc from the WSJ further up this thread that I thought gave very reasonable advice to a potential new congress on what to do in terms of opposition to ObamaCare.  In a nutshell, de-fund it, delay implementation, dismantle key portions and delegate powers to the states, etc.   Options are still available for derailing this without a court intervention.  

On the legal issue, Bigdog introduced Article I, section 8, clause 18 of the constitution.  Let me please quote the clause here in its entirety for those of us not as recently familiar with it:

Article 1, Section 8, Clause 18

"To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Power, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof."

I take that to mean that the power of congress in the larger sense needs to be granted elsewhere in the constitution and then the laws necessary and proper to carry it out are granted here.  So where in the constitution is the larger power of the congress granted to run the nation's and the individual's healthcare?  

That power to regulate is arguably derived from the Commerce Clause, but the choice or fact alone of no insurance is a non-economic activity.

The Commerce Clause reads: [The Congress shall have Power]"To regulate Commerce ... among the several States..." - Article 1, Section 8, Clause 3

Healthcare I'm sure meets current standard for constituting interstate commerce. This legislation though goes further in my opinion than regulation of private companies providing services in the sense that it eliminates individual choices that millions choose today.  A strong argument can be constructed either direction about whether this is not a necessary and proper way of regulating that commerce in a limited government context.  As BD pointed out, neither side of this divided court should be confident enough that their side would prevail to unnecessarily risk establishing a new precedent against their own view.

For me, the Commerce Clause has already been used far too expansively.  I can see a constitutional power for reasonable regulations of the firms who provide interstate healthcare, like requiring an MD for certain procedures or requiring surgeons to cut with clean knives, but I have no idea where they were given the power to even ask me about my non-coverage, health history or personal data beyond my name and address for census and income for taxes.
-----

Easy to find opinions on either side of this.  Here's one by authors who worked in the Reagan and HW Bush Justice Departments, written before the final bill was negotiated, with key paragraphs excerpted:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/08/21/AR2009082103033.html

The otherwise uninsured would be required to buy coverage, not because they were even tangentially engaged in the "production, distribution or consumption of commodities," but for no other reason than that people without health insurance exist. The federal government does not have the power to regulate Americans simply because they are there. Significantly, in two key cases, United States v. Lopez (1995) and United States v. Morrison (2000), the Supreme Court specifically rejected the proposition that the commerce clause allowed Congress to regulate noneconomic activities merely because, through a chain of causal effects, they might have an economic impact. These decisions reflect judicial recognition that the commerce clause is not infinitely elastic and that, by enumerating its powers, the framers denied Congress the type of general police power that is freely exercised by the states.  ...

The other obvious alternative is to use Congress's power to tax and spend. In an effort, perhaps, to anchor this mandate in that power, the Senate version of the individual mandate envisions that failure to comply would be met with a penalty, to be collected by the IRS. This arrangement, however, is not constitutional either.

Like the commerce power, the power to tax gives the federal government vast authority over the public, and it is well settled that Congress can impose a tax for regulatory rather than purely revenue-raising purposes. Yet Congress cannot use its power to tax solely as a means of controlling conduct that it could not otherwise reach through the commerce clause or any other constitutional provision. In the 1922 case Bailey v. Drexel Furniture, the Supreme Court ruled that Congress could not impose a "tax" to penalize conduct (the utilization of child labor) it could not also regulate under the commerce clause. Although the court's interpretation of the commerce power's breadth has changed since that time, it has not repudiated the fundamental principle that Congress cannot use a tax to regulate conduct that is otherwise indisputably beyond its regulatory power.
4958  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: September 14, 2010, 02:18:32 PM
CCP, I lean that way too, but...  All we can do is elect better leaders to see the best information and make the best decisions.  We also need to get better intelligence.  If not Bush, then Cheney would have been strong on this, but there was no word that any hawk in that administration was pushing for a full attack on Iran.  Like you said, even Bolton is not saying strike now.

Netanyahu is a strong leader and he isn't doing it. You and I might not trust Obama, but if he saw a low risk opportunity to end a rogue nuclear weapons program, who knows.  I think it was Strat that wrote about the aftermath of a strike in the gulf with the Straits mined and closed, a shutdown to the global economy that we are not ready for in addition to whatever battles or war would break out. 

Maybe the strategy has to be wait, gather intelligence and counterpunch.  If/when Iran strikes somewhere, then strike back instantly with devastation to their programs.  Can't be labeled the aggressors, you know.  Perhaps a discovery and capture of bin Laden in Iran planning more attacks would justify a dismantling by force of their weapons program.

I assume we sell rather than give arms to Saudi and have done that for decades. Saudi unfortunately is the balancing power in the region and other than Israel and Iraq the place most threatened by Iran. Their system fosters evil but I don't think their monarchy is our enemy or would threaten our interests.  Like Crafty said about Pakistan, the risk will be with who later gets control of those weapons.  In one part we don't want to be the world's policeman and in another we don't want these fair weathered friends like Saudi, China, Russia, India, Brazil, you name it, to be fully armed and ready to do the work in place of us.  We learned though that help won't come from Europe when we need reliable allies with defense capabilities.

I'm glad we don't also have Saddam to worry about in that neighborhood.  I remember learning that he wasn't an immediate threat because he was really 5-7 years away from nuclear weapons when the decision to go in was made; that was 9 years ago.

Ahmadinejad is a loud mouth provocateur with his holocaust denial talk for example but to the extent that they support war against our interests outside their borders through Hezbollah, Hamas and surrogates in Iraq, they should be met with war inside their borders, it seems to me.

Also too bad we are committed to a policy of worsening our dependence on foreign oil at a time when a responsible defense action can't be taken because it could lead to a closing the shipping lanes of oil out of the gulf.
4959  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Economics: Income Mobility on: September 14, 2010, 09:20:30 AM
A report from 2007 that I came across today looking up this subject:

http://www.ustreas.gov/press/releases/hp673.htm
50% move up and out of the lower quintile in just 10 years.  Please watch for misleading quintile analyses that don't chart the improvement and movement of individuals in the economy.  This Treasury data refutes the claim that only the rich got richer.

November 13, 2007

Treasury Releases Income Mobility Study

Washington DC--The Treasury Department today released a study on income mobility of U.S. taxpayers from 1996 through 2005.

The study showed that, just as in the previous 10-year period, a majority of American taxpayers move from one income group to another over time.  The study also recognizes that the dynamism of the U.S. economy significantly contributes to income mobility.

The key findings of the study included:

    * Income mobility of individuals was considerable in the U.S. economy during the 1996 through 2005 period with roughly half of taxpayers who began in the bottom quintile moving up to a higher income group within 10 years.
    * About 55 percent of taxpayers moved to a different income quintile within 10 years.
    * Among those with the very highest incomes in 1996--the top 1/100 of one percent--only 25 percent remained in the group in 2005.  Moreover, the median real income of these taxpayers declined over the study period.
    * The degree of mobility among income groups is unchanged from the prior decade (1987 through 1996).
    * Economic growth resulted in rising incomes for most taxpayers over the study period:
    *
       Median real incomes of all taxpayers increased by 24 percent after adjusting for inflation;
    *
      Real incomes of two-thirds of all taxpayers increased over this period; and
    *
      Median incomes of those initially in the lower income groups increased more than the median incomes of those initially in the high income groups. 
4960  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Clunkerconomics on: September 14, 2010, 08:38:16 AM
A George Will piece posted from Sunday was excellent. link follows.

A well intended piecemeal program of targeted leftism that mostly benefited Honda and Toyota with new car sales, got a few people with plenty of cash in their pocket into new wheels with taxpayer help and left ordinary working or poor people with an 11% higher price to pay for the remaining stock of used cars in the government tampered market.

I wonder if even one left-leaning moderate can read a true and recent story of another command economy experiment failing for the people like that and learn something about how freedom to make our own choices, good or bad within reason, is a better way to run the private economy.

Let government focus on core issues of governing, not try to run the private sector for us too.
------------------------
http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/editorial/outlook/7199488.html

The clunker school of economics
By GEORGE F. WILL
WASHINGTON POST
Sept. 13, 2010

Looking back with pride, the British are commemorating the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain, when Churchill said of the pilots fighting the Luftwaffe: Never "was so much owed by so many to so few." Looking ahead with trepidation, Americas are thinking: Never have so many of us owed so much.

Actually, they owed slightly more when the recession began, when household consumer debt was $2.6 trillion. The painful but necessary process of deleveraging is proceeding slowly: Such debt has been reduced only to $2.4 trillion. Add to that the facts that the recession has reduced household wealth by $10 trillion, and that only 25 percent of Americans expect their incomes to improve next year. So they are not spending, and companies are worried. Hence, rather than hiring, companies are sitting on cash reserves much larger than the size of last year's $862 billion stimulus.

Democrats who say another stimulus is necessary for job creation, but who dare not utter the word "stimulus," are sending three depressing messages: The $862 billion stimulus did not work; the public so loathes the word that another stimulus will not happen; therefore prosperity is not "just around the corner," as Herbert Hoover supposedly said (but did not). Consumers and businesses are responding to those messages by heeding Polonius' advice in Hamlet: "Neither a borrower nor a lender be."

Hoover — against whom Democrats, those fountains of fresh ideas, have been campaigning for 78 years — is again being invoked as a terrible warning about the wages of sin. Sin is understood by liberals as government austerity, which is understood as existing levels of government spending, whatever they are, whenever. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner recently said that Germans favoring reduced rather than increased state spending sounded "a little bit like Hoover." Well.

Real per capita federal expenditures almost doubled between 1929, Hoover's first year as president, and 1932, his last. David Kennedy, in Freedom from Fear, writes of Hoover:

"He nearly doubled federal public works expenditures in three years. Thanks to his prodding, the net stimulating effect of federal, state and local fiscal policy was larger in 1931 than in any subsequent year of the decade."

Barack Obama has self-nullifying plans for stimulating the small-business sector that creates most new jobs. He has just endorsed tax relief for such businesses but opposes extension of the Bush tax cuts for high-income filers, who include small businesses with 48 percent of that sector's earnings. The stance of other Democrats seems to be that the Bush cuts were wicked in conception, reckless in execution — and should be largely, and perhaps entirely, extended.

Does this increase anyone's confidence? About as much as noting the one-year anniversary of the end of another of the administration's brainstorms.

The used car market is an important mechanism for redistributing wealth to low-income persons: The price of a car drops when it is driven out of the dealership, but much of its transportation value remains when it enters the used car market. Unfortunately for low-income people, the average price of a three-year-old automobile has increased more than 10 percent since last summer. This is largely because the Car Allowance Rebate System, aka "cash for clunkers," which ended in late August 2009, cut the supply of used cars.

Cash for clunkers provided up to $4,500 to persons who traded in a car in order to purchase a new car with better gas mileage, but stipulated that the used car had to be scrapped. A study by Edmunds.com shows that all but 125,000 of the 700,000 cars sold during the clunkers program would have been bought even if no subsidy had been available. If this is so, each incremental sale cost taxpayers $24,000.

Obama is desperately urging consumers and investors to have confidence in his understanding of economics. They may, however, remember his characteristic certitude that "cash for clunkers" was "successful beyond anybody's imagination."
4961  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: September 13, 2010, 11:11:44 PM
"Virginia is asserting that if it prevails on its substantive claims, the whole law is unconstitutional."

 - I can't answer that technical point legally but I can address it logically.  The votes for that package were carefully sought out and chosen based on the bill's entirety.  Recall the cornhusker kickback, the hospital in Connecticut, 10 years of taxes to pay for 6 years of benefits because of such delicate budget issues etc.  If the Court strikes down anything that changes the financial substance of the bill, and the purchase mandate is the largest piece of that puzzle, then you can not assume that all the pretend budget hawks in those narrow vote margins would have still voted 'yea' for the new court-broken, budget breaking package.  It seems to me any Supreme Court decision that would hold up the remaining parts of a bill that obviously would not have passed without including the unconstiututional portions would be flawed logic and wrongly decided IMHO.

Maybe Bigdog wants to jump in on this.
4962  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: The Power of Word on: September 13, 2010, 10:11:03 AM
Posted in the context of the important issues of the day facing our society, including forced redistribution and the idea of raising taxes punitively only on the rich:

THE 10th COMMANDMENT  (Exodus 20:17)

Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbor's.

(http://www.apostolic.edu/biblestudy/files/10th-com.htm)

A very strong argument (Commandment) in support of private property rights.  I am very interested in arguments of how that could be interpreted otherwise.
4963  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Prayer and Daily Expression of Gratitude on: September 11, 2010, 11:26:50 AM
Grateful for a glorious summer, in a place that has extremely distinct seasons.
4964  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Science vs. God on: September 11, 2010, 11:20:52 AM
Rarick wrote: "I do not see the need for a vs. in there."

Agree.  Science is (IMHO) only our puny and primitive understanding of a creation we cannot begin to fathom.  Sort of a journalistic tool to write and talk about things.  Take gravity or the speed of light for examples.  We can observe and measure and ponder and predict things, maybe even find better ways to make use of forces already occurring in nature, but we have no clue how it really happens or how to make it happen.  Because we don't really understand how things work we keep finding we were wrong about assumptions and conclusions and keep updating the 'science'.

Beware anytime you hear the words: 'the science is settled'.  I doubt the best intergalactic scientist alive today knows 1/10th of a percent of how it all works, same for the best in medical science truly understanding human physiology.

The science is the study of..., not ever the full knowledge of it.  It really is the system of trying to acquire knowledge.  When we are honest about it we call our best practitioners specialists, not experts.
4965  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Way Forward for the American Creed on: September 10, 2010, 09:42:08 PM
I like the message of this candidate, Ryan Frasier running for congress in the Denver north metro, Colorado's 7th district.  He is currently one point up in a Dem. district.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sVWxbVvIc8A&NR=1
4966  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Pathological Science on: September 09, 2010, 08:49:28 PM
Mark me down as vindictive but the people that perpetrated this fraud on the public and on our policy making should have a price to pay for their role in it.  Science has been set back 50 years and so has our economy.
4967  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cognitive Dissonance/Glibness: The Way Obama Thinks on: September 09, 2010, 10:22:53 AM
This Forbes piece today by Dinesh D'Souza that was helpful to me in understand the guy.  My own leftist/Marxist view of him doesn't explain all of his bizarre thoughts and decisions.  This piece does that the best I have read.  5 internet pages, too long to post so just a link and an excerpt here.  2 strikes against piece when I started, I remember not liking this author on something else and I hate pieces about how conservatives think written by non-conservatives.  Usually no insight is gained.

Key points, his father was tribesman, a polygamist, a drunk and a socialist, but he was also a Harvard educated economist.  Barack Jr. spent his formative years off of the mainland of the US in Hawaii but also Indonesia, Pakistan with roots from Kenya.  The main theme is anti-colonialism.  (This gets diluted in policy and speech I think because Obama's advisers are mostly run-of-the-mill-leftists.)  We see anti-Americanism, but he sees the world a better place if America had less exceptionalism.  US funding of off-shore drilling for Brazil to keep oil in Brazil while banning it here makes sense for example with this view.

He named his book 'Dreams from my Father', not dreams of my father.  Excerpt quoting D'Souza:

"Obama Sr. was an economist, and in 1965 he published an important article in the East Africa Journal called "Problems Facing Our Socialism." Obama Sr. wasn't a doctrinaire socialist; rather, he saw state appropriation of wealth as a necessary means to achieve the anticolonial objective of taking resources away from the foreign looters and restoring them to the people of Africa. For Obama Sr. this was an issue of national autonomy. "Is it the African who owns this country? If he does, then why should he not control the economic means of growth in this country?"

As he put it, "We need to eliminate power structures that have been built through excessive accumulation so that not only a few individuals shall control a vast magnitude of resources as is the case now." The senior Obama proposed that the state confiscate private land and raise taxes with no upper limit. In fact, he insisted that "theoretically there is nothing that can stop the government from taxing 100% of income so long as the people get benefits from the government commensurate with their income which is taxed."

Remarkably, President Obama, who knows his father's history very well, has never mentioned his father's article. Even more remarkably, there has been virtually no reporting on a document that seems directly relevant to what the junior Obama is doing in the White House."

http://www.forbes.com/forbes/2010/0927/politics-socialism-capitalism-private-enterprises-obama-business-problem.html
4968  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Gender issues thread on: September 08, 2010, 01:23:48 PM
JDN: "I guess my question is whether being raised by two loving successful intelligent lesbians for example is that much worse (or better) than being raised by a single parent?  I find it
a bit odd that a successful single man or single woman can adopt and/or have a child and be commended and applauded yet a successful lesbian couple adopting or having a child is frowned upon."

GM: "I don't applaud single mothers who are single by choice."
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I agree with GM and lost a dear friend with that advice.  I disclosed in my post "...as a single father raising a daughter the best I can I don't say that from some lofty perch of perfection."  One of the keys to success that has worked for me taking custody virtually at birth was to make sure at least 6 loving adults to bond closely in her life, people she would see and spend time with at least every week of the year in the formative years, in particular having her experience the loving and nurturing hetero-marriage household of her maternal grandparents.  I knew she needed a positive female role model to be close like a mother and needed also to witness and experience the relationship they have with each other.  With some braggart I can say she is better off with me than aborted or abandoned, but I would never say this situation is preferable to having your one loving mother married to your one loving father married and with you in one loving household.

JDN, Your comparison of gay or lesbian adoption to single parenting or adoption is interesting.  I would not want to judge one against the other -  but will.  Certainly having two is an advantage in some ways and there typically is some degree of femininity and masculinity distinction between the two.  OTOH, with only one I can say that when times are difficult there no question in the mind of the parent or the child or anyone else who is the father (singular), not Daddy-Tom and/or  Daddy-Bill, or who is the mother singular.  With two of this or two of that; no one can stand up and say I am the father, or I am the mother (singular).  I also don't like the first name familiarity required with the duplication.

I am not against gay parenting or gay adoption.  I am simply against putting that concept alongside of hetero-marriage and hetero-parenting (a lot of hyphens are required) and saying that any combination is fine or equal.  I don't believe God was wrong to make it so structured: "Honor your father and your mother".

Some kids are troubled, disadvantaged or otherwise not in demand for adoption.  Similar to what I said for my situation, I would rather see a kid adopted by a gay or lesbian couple (or a single person) who sincerely want to take that on than have the kid aborted, abandoned or left without family.
4969  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Gender issues thread on: September 07, 2010, 10:41:40 PM
Crafty, I think you have nailed the direction of the gay rights issue of today with the Australia story.  A short time ago gays were coming out with a plea that said: accept us, we are different from you.  We are different but we still have a right to happiness, employment, housing, education, etc.  So far, so good.  Somewhere along the road it changed to a demand: accept us we are the same as you.

No one is a perfect father or mother and no married couple with children are perfect parents.  Some hetero-marriages are not for the purpose of procreation such as when my grandpa re-married at age 80.  But marriage is mostly I think about building a home and a family and married heteros in one bed commonly leads to having and raising children.

Children have the best chance at the good things in life if they are raised in a loving home with one mother and one father married to each other and complementing each other's traits and strengths and weaknesses.  If you don't see that principle coming from God's creation and intelligent design, maybe you can observe it or measure it empirically. 

Recently there was a study concluding that children of gay parents were just as happy or happier than children of hetero-parents.  That story line ran for about one day until critics of the study pointed out that the data all came from self-reporting by the parents about the happiness of their children and was funded by a gay adoption advocacy group. The study was part of an agenda (IMHO) to lead toward no distinction between genders with parenting being the end they seek. (Gay parenting by definition involves adoption.) 

Separate from gayness, does anyone think children in general would do better with 2 fathers in their household instead of one father and a mother in a loving marriage with each bringing different qualities in terms of toughness, nurturing, different sensitivities and different role models to the household?  Would two women with two hyphenated mommy-someone names competing to out nurture each other give, in general, the full balance that children might receive with one mother and one father - each one the only mother and the only father, not one of two?  I don't think so and as a single father raising a daughter the best I can I don't say that from some lofty perch of perfection.

The end of gender distinctions after we eliminate the terms like bride, groom, husband, wife, father, mother, will be to update our religious books to command us to: Honor your gender-neutral parent-one and honor your other parent-one.

4970  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: VIDEO CLIPS OF INTEREST on: September 03, 2010, 01:49:55 PM
Besides nosebleed section, you can see the top of the stadium, this is a very early round in the tournament, but still an expensive sports ticket and people deserve a little peace and quiet to try to experience it from so far away.  The view of the match is far better in your living room.  Looked to me like the younger guy was admittedly disruptive and totally to blame, up until the physical stuff started.  Even when she slapped him he only laughed at her.  He said something else provocative as he sat down but it looked like the older guy was already planning to step in on him.  

Crowd asked a good question, 'where is security?'  They were also saying throw the bum out meaning for sure the young guy.  

I was guessing the young guy gets a disorderly conduct, the woman a 3rd or 5th degree assault - a slap charge, and the older guy a serious charge for going in to hurt him.  NY Post coverage says otherwise: "“It’s a hot night in New York. Things happen,” Chris Widmaier,a US Tennis Association spokesman said of the tussle, which resulted in no arrests.
http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/queens/fight_night_at_the_open_QlwSKhd4YInp9hGBdZ7m0K

I should add that if they are still looking at film maybe they will still issue a citation or 2.
-----
Djokovic went on to beat Petzschner 7-5, 6-3, 7-6 (8-6).
4971  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants & interesting thought pieces on: September 03, 2010, 10:39:40 AM
Very well put CCP, the Truman center in Hiroshima.  We didn't build that and we can't put a church or synagogue anywhere in a Muslim land. This is a fascinating and emotionally charged upside-down issue.  True free market thinking says this site goes to the high bidder - strip club, pot shop, shooting range, what ever.  NY of course is a heavily zoned and regulated town, what gets built is what they want to get built.  Do developers survive without political contributions? I don't think so and why, because jobs don't get approved by just showing up with permit fees.

The whole issue is about bad taste.  A mosque is a monument to honor Islam and there are 100 of them operating freely in New York.  This isn't near ground zero; this is where blood stained plane parts landed. I think people forget the hundred in the planes died too, not just in the building. Blood of mass murder is sacred ground, if you believe in that sort of thing.  The city could 'take' the property for public purposes and under Kelo the city could 'take' the property for any private purposes that it sees fit. I didn't see Obama slamming that Supreme Court decision that gives local government complete control over what goes where.

The strangest part of it is to see no objection because it is not our place to say what can be built or cannot be built on sacred ground in New York City because of unbending principle and tolerance and meanwhile with a straight face tell Israel what religions of people can build in what areas of their land.  Go figure.
4972  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2010 Elections; 2012 Presidential on: September 03, 2010, 10:12:51 AM
Roughly Labor Day, if the election were held today - and it isn't - the Republicans would take the House.  Discussed elsewhere are some things they could do, but they could pass nothing that would be veto proof. 

The senate today is still in question.  Real Clear Politics has it at 48 Dems, 45 R's (already a nice gain) and 7 highly contested, 6 of those 7 were Dem seats.  The vice President breaks the tie so 50 means nothing.  R's need 6 of those 7 for a majority and still would be nowhere near 60 to force any vote and nowhere near veto-proof.

Here are the seven most contested: 
CA: Boxer (D)
CO: Bennet (D)
FL: Open (R)
IL: Open (D)
NV: Reid (D)
WA: Murray (D)
WI: Feingold (D)

All would seem impossible for Republicans a short time ago, even Florida with 2 (alleged) Republicans running.  Logic might assume even races break randomly.  History might give the close race to the incumbent for that advantage.  The energy and movement this year may say the opposite - that they all break against the failed and unpopular ruling regime.

As a partisan, I will take any win I can get, but Republicans might be better positioned into 2012 for congress and President to still be fighting as the outsiders.  For the good of the nation IMHO they must take at least one chamber to at least slow this train wreck.

If that many blue states swung against Obama and his big government 'spread the wealth' economic policies were still failing, it would be interesting to see if he would still hunker down on ideology or read the message, adapt and try to survive as Clinton did by partially working with the other side in the direction of economic growth.  At this point, I think everyone sees Obama as unbendable and every key issue would be an unsolvable stalemate.
4973  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Clinton prepares to jump from the SS Obamatanic on: September 02, 2010, 10:35:54 PM
CCP:  She looks more dignified there (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/09/02/netanyahu-abbas-begin-dir_n_703419.html) than when she was kissing Mrs. Arafat as they celebrated her anti-Israel tirade.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suha_Arafat
4974  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Clinton prepares to jump from the SS Obamatanic on: September 02, 2010, 10:12:42 PM
If we are talking about Dem challengers in 2012, Evan Bayh separated himself from Obama way sooner and with some substance.  Credit GM for this observation:  on May 30, 2010, "Agreed. I see Evan Bayh setting up a primary challenge for 2012."

Mentioned today in Time magazine under "How Barack Obama Became Mr. Unpopular"
(already linked) http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,2015629-3,00.html
Bayh:  "A lot of this was really inevitable, or at least pretty predictable," says Indiana Senator and former governor Evan Bayh, a Democratic expert at getting elected in the Rust Belt. "We have a lot of government activism at a time when skepticism of government efficiency is at an all-time high."

There has never been any policy difference between Obama and Hillary and people hate Obama's policies while they like him personally.  Bayh put his finger exactly on the pulse in that brief comment.  Doesn't sound like he is biting his tongue now.  How he would ever get support from Dem activists, I have no idea, but easily a third of Obama voters are ready to move rightward or to the center and other Dems might start thinking about winning again after experiencing what is about to happen to them in '010.
4975  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Palin phenomenon - Glen Beck rally on: September 02, 2010, 12:31:29 PM
Without taking anything away from Glen Beck's amazing success with the rally of 300,000 in Washington with many speakers, just wanted to put a historical marker here that when they want to 'fill the stadium' Sarah Palin is still the one they call.

Thanks Crafty for the pageant video.  She was also I believe, point guard for a state championship basketball team.  I don't know of any video but that story might give a better look at her other qualities, passion, leadership, determination etc.
4976  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cognitive Dissonance on: September 02, 2010, 12:24:34 PM
I expected the Iraq speech to contain the big gaffe. but it was more of a 'one the one hand - on the other hand' type of hypocrisy (http://www.slate.com/id/2265656/) where he really just did a clumsy job of trying to be a little bit diplomatic in an impossible situation. 

The big gaffe of the moment is our self reporting of the U.S to the U.N. Human Rights commission where it is presumed they are the good guys and we are the perps.  Fellow members of the commission include Castro and Mau - or Hu-ever has his job right now.  Nice part of that gaffe is that Hillary's fingerprints are all over it, so opponents can point back at both of them as they start to split.

Continuing dissonance, Christina Romer in her administration exit offers the economic wisdom that we need to spend more and tax less. http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100901/ap_on_bi_ge/us_obama_economist_1   Unbleeping believable.  Is that not precisely the Bush economic plan??  Ed Morrissey at Hotair called it before she said it: "How can Dems extend Bush tax cuts while running against Bush?"  http://hotair.com/archives/2010/08/30/how-can-dems-extend-bush-tax-cuts-while-running-against-bush/

So if they don't extend tax cuts the economy will tank or at least continue stagnation with permanent equilibrium at European levels of unemployment *. They need to make tax cuts permanent - all the way up the income chart.

  * That is of course partly unfair to Europe where German unemployment has dropped below ours to 7.6%:  http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/2010/09/02/stories/2010090254110400.htm
4977  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: No Trespassing on: September 02, 2010, 11:31:45 AM
The point about solar lights too dim is true.  The cheap ones will barely light a walkway and don't give the look of someone home.  You need more juice than that.  For anyone who wants to make the effort for an unwired outbuilding or driveway entrance, you can build a more powerful system pretty cheaply.  You can buy a small 12v 3 watt or 5 watt solar panel on ebay fairly cheap and make night power off of a deep cycle or older car battery with some charge left in it.  incandescent bulbs will drain the battery.  For 12v the ones with multiple LED are bright and efficient, or with a small inverter you can use 110v products like a timer or motion detector connected to more efficient CFL bulbs.  I like to leave a radio with talk on in a vacant rental house.  Along with some timers and lighting it makes it seem from outside the window or door very much like someone is in there-  even during the day.  I'm amazed at how often I fool myself with that when I come back in.  I haven't done this yet, but what I would like to hook up is motion detector activation to a recording of a fiercely barking dog to come on with the lights.  The motion detector lights typically come with 2 light sockets.  Put a bulb in one and a socket adapter outlet in the other and run a cord a little further to trigger something else, maybe another light and radio further away, up by the house.

At home, besides living in a crime free area with watchful neighbors, most effective for me is having multiple vehicles that I split usage with and move around quite a bit for various reasons along with varying schedules that was mentioned. The affect is that you never look in our driveway and assume no one is home.  Most people I'm sure don't have extra cars but maybe you know someone who wants one stored or maybe you keep the extra one in the garage to protect the vehicle when having it by the sidewalk or doorstep would better help to protect the house.   A stored car should be started and moved around regularly anyway which is perfect for this purpose.

The extra car trick backfired for me at one of my inner city houses.  They punched a hole through the bottom of the gas tank.  The next time I left a nice note on the dash saying that the gas tank was empty, and made sure it was.  Strategies in a war zone are different than strategies in a neighborhood.

Beyond the fake video camera idea I would like to go to a cheap real video camera saving onto the hard disk of an old computer and activated by the motion lights.  Maybe you could capture a license plate or mug shot of the offenders.

The first hand account from Costa Rica scares me.  No one should have to face a gun in their face unless you are the perp.  A friends young daughter finishing college is traveling there a lot and wanting to move there.

Knowing your premises was invaded is not a property crime to me.  Someone could have been home or come home during the invasion and startled them.  I would never assume someone with that kind of nerve is not likely to be violent.
4978  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Way Forward for the American Creed on: August 30, 2010, 01:50:27 PM
CCP: I see that O'Donnell has tea party backing. Hard to say it will be the same old party with all the new faces and commitment this time to positive change. 

Sometimes the house races in states that have only one house seat are interesting.  Powerline has done some coverage on the South Dakota race this year.  Both are attractive women saying they are conservative.  Problem for one is that in her first vote she would choose Nancy Pelosi for Speaker and Democrats to run all the committees and control the agenda.
http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2010/08/027096.php
http://www.kristiforcongress.com/meet-kristi/

Rand Paul's opponent has that same problem in Kentucky.  He is articulate and reasonably conservative on the issues but will align with Reid, Durbin, Schumer etc. if he wins.

Dems have a big problem coming - most of the reasonable and moderate ones from center-right districts are going to lose and all the far left ones from untouchable districts will win, leaving a party even further from the American people than it is today.
4979  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Pathological Science: Banning lead in bullets on: August 29, 2010, 11:43:39 PM
EPA rejects attempt to regulate lead in bullets after NRA protests
http://politics.usnews.com/news/washington-whispers/articles/2010/08/27/epa-surrenders-to-nra-on-gun-control-issue-epa-rejects-attempt-to-regulate-lead-in-bullets-after-nra-protests.html

What? A health hazard to be shot with a lead bullet? Absolutely.  I wonder if they would also require the guy who stabbed me to sterilize his knife between uses.  Really, it's in everyone's best interest.  We don't want anyone to get hurt.

Same/similar movement as those who want to ban all light bulbs that DON'T contain Mercury.
4980  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tea Party, Glen Beck and related matters on: August 29, 2010, 04:48:20 PM
Likewise, WOW! 

Obama's historic victory speech was before 'tens of thousands', according to CBS.

CCP: Does anyone think TIME magazine will place Beck on the cover with admiration like they did with Sharpton recently? wink

Yes on the cover with obligatory coverage of a phenomenon that they cannot stop, but not with admiration.  This is a story.

After 2004, the last Republican victory (it has been a while now), there were NY Times reporters who said they didn't even know anyone who voted for Bush.  Rush L. predicted they would have to send foreign correspondents out into regions like Kansas to find out more about these people who don't think like they do.  That victory was subtle and somewhat hollow.  This one is energized.  People did not wait for the pollsters and the correspondents to come out and ask their opinion.
4981  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / China trade and currency on: August 29, 2010, 04:20:57 PM
[Flesh this out please]

Some underlying fundamentals in no particular order:

The US imports from China: $300-330 billion
China imports form US: $70 billion, less than 1/4th.
 = China is importing $230+ dollars.  Must spend or invest these US dollars somewhere.

(EU goods exports to China 2009: €81.7 billion
 EU goods imports from China 2009: €214.7 billion - similar situation)

We also have a trade deficit with Europe, peaked at about $140-150 billion/yr. which floods dollars, not Euros into the global market.

The total US trade deficit peaked at about $700-750 in the healthy economy of 2005-2008. (That number is down in this recession) We are running a trade deficit with the rest of the world outside of China and Europe of roughly $250 billion/yr. That is net of what they spend with us so they must buy elsewhere using dollars or invest/lend back to the US in dollars.

The US imports 66% of its oil, buys primarily in US$, $400 billion/yr,

The US restricts domestic oil production.  Those restrictions cause much of the import requirement which causes dollars to leave the US.

China for the most part does not need US manufactured goods (and steals our technology anyway).

China consumers use perhaps a few hundred billion dollars/yr worth of US software, music, movies, patent infringements, etc. that they don't pay for (which would otherwise create some balance in trade).

The US zones, restricts, regulates, taxes, creates work rules, has pending energy use legislation, health care mandates, etc. that make US goods largely non-competitive in an economically freer country like China (it hurts to say that).  US auto manufacturing pays more for healthcare than steel.

China imports oil at $150-200 billion /yr.

US budget deficit is currently at 1500-1600 billion.

Of our public debt, 25% is owned by foreign governments, 22% of that is owned by China.  Those percentages will need to be updated after we see who is buying all our new debt.  At those percentages that would be $88 Billion per year bought by the China.  In other words, a part of their trade surplus comes back in there and a part of those dollars go into the global economy via their oil suppliers.
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These imbalances combine to make bidirectional and circular flows of funds that find a balance.  Each piece of the imbalance above either enables or causes something else to occur or exist, depending on how you look at it.  Floating or changing exchange rates also play a role in finding balance, as we see between the dollar and the Euro, but did not have with China.
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Changing fundamentals:  

If China had a middle class demanding and purchasing goods from around the world up to near the amount of Chinese exports - it would not find itself holding dollars and using them for other purchases like oil and buying T-bills.

If the US produced all of its own oil that it could - fewer dollars would flood the world markets.

If the US moved toward rough balance in its federal budget - we would need fewer dollars to come back in to lend us our public debts.

If China enforced US/World copyright/patent/trademark laws - we would have some chance at approaching trade parity.  

If the US committed itself to being a competitive place to locate, manufacture, produce and export from instead of a place actively looking for ways to hinder production and punish profits - US goods would be more competitive, we would export more, employ more people in manufacturing and send fewer net dollars out.

As economies elsewhere develop, prosper, grow a middle class and their own industries, and develop legal systems to enforce global patents copyrights etc., they become viable markets for US export sales for technologies, intellectual property products, services, etc.  China has economic growth but does not seem to grow its middle class or bring its legal/political system up intot he 19th century or beyond.
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Very true that we certainly don't want to be borrowing our excesses in foreign currency but also true that we shouldn't want to be borrowing our excesses from anyone.

If you leave these fundamentals in place, the current cycle is hard to break.  China needs to sell to America to get a significant part of its money and growth and that money is in dollars. Then China needs to spend or invest those dollars somewhere.  They can require foreign sales in Yuan (Renminbi) but the customer cannot pay with them if they don't have them and unless they are an oil exporter, China is not buying their products with any proportionality.

If you break any or all of these cycles and co-dependencies, you could break the global reliance on the US$.  But if that happens, such as China buying more from the US, putting the US budget more in balance, seeing foreign trade between other countries made in currencies other than US dollars, if developing markets increase purchasing power, or if US manufacturers gain competitiveness and increase exports - I fail to see how any of those developments would be harmful to us.
----------------
Sources:
http://www.uschina.org/statistics/tradetable.html
http://www.census.gov/foreign-trade/statistics/historical/gands.txt
http://ec.europa.eu/trade/creating-opportunities/bilateral-relations/countries/china/
http://www.eia.doe.gov/cabs/China/Oil.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_public_debt
http://coham.osu.edu/
http://www.census.gov/foreign-trade/balance/c0012.html
4982  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Way Forward for the American Creed on: August 28, 2010, 10:55:13 PM
Two practical thoughts for 2010:

House) If conservative Republicans take the House, a number of new and pending big government  initiatives can be stopped or slowed in their tracks including ObamaCare, see Crafty's post regarding delay, de-fund etc. and cap and tax the energy and manufacturing destruction legislation pending.

Senate) If constitution-respecting conservative Republicans take the Senate, Obama may not be able to put another liberal activist onto the Supreme Court for the ages.  If Dems keep the senate, look for Ginsburg 75 now and possibly Breyer who will be 71 in 2012 to retire in the next 2 years so that Obama can pack the court with more young liberal women hoping to live to a hundred and finish dismantling the founding principles.
4983  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government Programs, spending, budget process on: August 28, 2010, 10:37:51 PM
"A piece that speaks to Doug's point: Higher Tax Rates on the Rich Will Backfire"
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Thank you BBG.  If you don't believe me, see Christina Romer's last published piece before being fired as chief economic adviser: the tax hikes coming will be highly contractionary.

We hear about tax cuts and deficits from the 1980s but seldom hear that revenues doubled in that decade, same link from my previous post: Revenues 1980: $517 Billion.  Revenues 1990: 1.032 Trillion, almost exactly doubling in 10 years, in spite of one recession waiting for the tax cuts to kick in and while inflation was defeated in its tracks.  As always, the deficits came from excess spending.
http://www.gpoaccess.gov/usbudget/fy11/pdf/hist.pdf  p.26
4984  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government Programs, spending, budget process on: August 28, 2010, 09:16:32 PM
Wash.Post: "They did not know two major tax cuts representing trillions in lost revenue would be passed."

Crafty: "Exactly when were these tax rate cuts passed?"
------------------

I think they are referring to 2001 and 2003.  Strangely even in hindsight they are confusing "trillions in lost revenue" with actual results which were the two largest years of dollar increases to a Treasury anywhere on earth at any time in history ending with the Pelosi-Obama takeover of congress.  

http://www.gpoaccess.gov/usbudget/fy11/pdf/hist.pdf  Long pdf, see p.26: Half trillion actual increase in revenues in 2 years, exactly when Wash Post says "trillions in lost revenue".

How can anyone report that wrongly and stay in business?
4985  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: China on: August 28, 2010, 09:05:48 PM
"an important strand of China's strategy is to use those dollars to buy assets, raw materials, etc world-wide."

Yes.  So the 2 largest energy importers buy oil in dollars hence oil is sold in dollars, oil suppliers take in dollars, buy or invest back into what they need, all over the world - in dollars.  I'm not able to see how that cycle breaks in favor of the Chinese currency without a change in underlying fundamentals.
4986  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government Programs, spending, budget process on: August 28, 2010, 01:16:12 PM
Thanks BBG for that.  CBO models are wrong just like the climate models.  CBO still ignores almost all affects caused by changing incentives and disincentives.  In the heyday of the previous tax cut and growth cycle, CBO was wrong about revenues by 12 digits in a year - roughly $100,000,000,000.  As they say in Washington: good enough for government work.  No one was fired and no changes to the flawed model were requested or forced on this BS agency.

That said, I think there is too much going on in that graph, measuring everything as a % of GDP which is not constant or on a straight line headed anywhere.  Again like climate data, I say look at the actual numbers.  At the end of the analysis, then some perspective is gained by seeing the results as a percentage of GDP or as a comparison to anything else.  That graph hides much of the revenue growth during the highest growth years.  In 2005 and 2006, we grew revenues by roughly a half a trillion dollars in two years to the Feds alone (highest dollar growth in history) not counting the windfalls states and local governments were taking in.  At least the Wash. Post graph accurately shows that the hard inflection point is Jan. 2007 where it all started to go to hell, coinciding with Pelosi taking the Speakership, Obama-Hillary-Biden-Schumer taking majority power in the Senate, all promising to "end tax cuts for the rich", and new Congressman Keith Ellison symbolically putting his hand on the Koran and promising to dismantle piece by piece what we once knew as a great nation.
4987  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: China on: August 28, 2010, 12:48:13 PM
JDN: "I have little faith in 7-10 year economic projections."

True, they are based on some rosy scenario numbers such as that health care is net-free and that the economy will grow robustly while we continue to raise taxes during recession or stagnation.  Without policy corrections, these forecasts will be WAY off the mark and reality will be far worse IMHO.

When Greece imploded, some thought it would bring down the Euro, the EU, the world financial system etc.  It did not all come true but when the U.S. fails, only that one guy in the Amazon will be unaffected.

JDN, the original point was that we are loaded in debt and loading up more with no end in sight.  Current (deemed but not passed) budget is roughly $4T revenues, $2.5T revenues resulting in $1.5T in new debt or monetized deficit.  Totally irresponsible and was enabled but not caused by China.  Crafty is right that whatever that true debt burden is now we have not felt the main impact yet with interest rates artificially held close to zero.  When interest rates skyrocket beyond our control, we are screwed and so are our creditors.

Crafty's wrote:  "...we get to pay it (international debt) with dollars we print."

 - What that means to me is that unlike third world countries, we (unfortunately) can inflate our way part way out of that burden, creating other/worse burdens.

"When folks stop taking our dollars we will be in the same shape as Greece.  Folks have been taking our dollars for lack of alternative.  Now they begin to have one.  Should the trend continue, and we can no longer finance our deficits with the printing press, interest rates will shoot up-- quite possibly quite quickly as everyone heads for the exits at the same time."

 - China's economy is built largely on export sales and its trade imbalance with the US (and elsewhere).  If they sell to Americans who have only dollars while not buying our products they will have excess dollars.  World trade if you include the investment and financial side offsetting the imbalanced flow of goods and services is a closed system.  I don't see how they quit buying dollar based investments without first correcting the trade imbalance.  If they sell off their dollars or dollar based investments, then someone else is holding them. 

If the currency change is successful from the Chinese point of view, I think it would force both countries to behave more responsibly. (ex: Greek lawmakers approved sweeping pension reforms July 10 2010  http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE6674K320100708)  China needs to allow domestic consumption and personal wealth to start catching up with its production side and America needs to stop punishing our own manufacturers with the myriad of increasing rules, mandates, prohibitions, taxes, and start moving our federal budget back toward balance.

More likely this currency experiment will fail IMO for the same reasons that they were unable to do it previously.

The good news is that deficits and GDP are inversely related, not proportional.  Most of current spending is not going to go away.  The boldest proposal out there only rolls it back to 2008 levels.  We can only grow revenues and thus shrink deficits by growing GDP so pro-growth policies if we could find some would improve both measures simultaneously.   If we grow the private economy, deficits will shrink IF we find sane people to watch over public spending while we do this. And if we continue to steal the resources of our economy for the public sector, the GDP will not grow. The burden of the accumulated debt shrinks during times of high growth as a percentage of the total economy, but again only if public spending is controlled and contained.

I remember one of the pundits lamenting last year that China was the last check or balance left on our irresponsibility once Peloi-Reid-Obama gained their 60th vote in the senate.  This news seems to illustrate that.
4988  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: China on: August 28, 2010, 01:31:01 AM
I have read that this is a good development and long overdue.  For one thing the Americans have been complaining for quite some time that the fixed exchange rate was artificially low.  If there is a market for their currency and a floating exchange rate, perhaps it will be right-sized.

"China is moving forward as we decline." 

At this moment, yes/maybe. Given that famous traffic jam, I would say not very fast and not without bumps in the road.  They are doing a couple of things right.  Underlying that you will also find crony capitalism, mis-allocated resources, bad loans, overvalued assets, an unprecedented demographic scheme, inability to take on immigrants and a structural inability to make political change.

If they are moving past us they will need their own currency.  But why did they not do it sooner?  Certainly they were not trading in dollars as a favor to us.  The dollar gave them something third world countries don't have - a stable currency.  If the pendulum of forward progress swings backward a couple of times, the currency could get pounded.  A floating and marketable currency will expose weakness.  I hope they don't have any.  smiley

"“We’re now capable of doing renminbi settlement in many parts of the world,”"

Maybe they can and maybe you can't.  But we don't have any yuan and we will be buying products from China in large quantities overnight, tomorrow morning and the next day.  Those transactions will happen in dollars.  If we must buy Yuan / Renminbi first, who do we buy them from?  The Chinese who print it.  What do we buy them with?  Dollars.  It's what we have.  Then they have dollars to spend elsewhere in the world, like on oil/energy. Or they can invest it back in our economy, our T-bills or dollar based investments - same as they do now.  They don't buy products from us for the most part so the trade / investment equation has to balance out somewhere.  Looks to me like change won't be easy for them.

We have had some heated exchanges here over monetary policy.  Second guessing the Fed from the armchair is easy and costs nothing.  Managing your own real currency in a major lopsided economy is not.  If I were the Fed advising the new currency board of the PRC my advice would be - don't try this at home.
4989  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Way Forward: Avoiding Townhall Meetings on: August 26, 2010, 11:12:12 AM
hypothetical Democratic congressman's story starring Ron Howard's younger brother Clint Howard.

4990  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Killing Fields of Caracas and a brave, silent protest of Chavez on: August 26, 2010, 10:59:34 AM
Maybe this brave and articulate young Venezuelan could carry the flag forward in the next election...



IBD Editorial

 The Killing Fields Of Caracas
 08/25/2010

Socialism: Quick, what's the murder capital of the world: Kabul? Juarez? Try Caracas, Venezuela, a city whose dictator, Hugo Chavez, has made murder a means of extending his control.

The silent protest at Monday night's Miss Universe Pageant in Las Vegas was invisible to nearly everyone — except Venezuelans. On her final catwalk, the ranking Miss Universe, Stefania Fernandez, suddenly whipped out a Venezuelan flag in a patriotic but protocol-breaking gesture.

Fernandez waved her flag for the same reason Americans waved theirs after 9/11 — to convey resolution amid distress. Her flag had seven stars, significant because Chavez had arbitrarily added an eighth, making any use of a difficult-to-find seven-star banner an act of defiance.

Fernandez's countrymen went wild with joy on bulletin boards and Facebook, showing just how worried they are about their country. Their greatest fear is violent crime.

Ever since Chavez became president in 1999, Venezuelan cities have become hellholes in which murder rates have more than quadrupled. At 233 per 100,000, or one murder every 90 minutes, the rate in Caracas now tops that of every war zone in the world, according to an official National Statistics Institute study released Wednesday.

In fact, crime is the defining fact of life in today's Venezuela. About 96% of all murder victims are poor and lower-middle class, the very people Chavez claims to represent. "Don't venture into barrios at any time of the day, let alone at night," warns the Lonely Planet guide to Venezuela to hardy adventure travelers.

By contrast, the murder rate in cartel-haunted Juarez, Mexico, is 133 per 100,000, with Mexico's overall rate 8 per 100,000, about the same as Wichita, Kan. Colombia, fighting a narcoterror war since 1964, has an overall rate of 37 per 100,000, slightly higher than Baltimore at 36.9. The overall U.S. rate is 5.4.

Make no mistake, a murder rate like Caracas' is a crime against humanity. The absence of personal security renders all other human rights moot. By coincidence, that's just what Chavez seeks to eliminate as he turns his country into a Cuba-style socialist state. Instead of Castroite firing squads or Stalinesque gulags, Chavez outsources the dirty work of socialism to criminals while throwing dissidents in jail and threatening to censor newspapers.

He may try to suppress the Dante-like photos of corpses piled high at the Caracas morgue from the El Nacional newspaper, but the hard fact is that Chavez is responsible for what's going on.
4991  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Way Forward for the American Creed on: August 26, 2010, 10:31:06 AM
I hesitate to criticize another Obama vacation - when he could have been nationalizing another industry.

Letterman doesn't rip anything about leftism, only a break from it.  Always nice to hear the term 'one term President'.
4992  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Humor/WTF: Roger Federer trick shot - Don't try this at home on: August 25, 2010, 10:43:20 PM
Stick handling, accuracy, balance, concentration, and consistency, this should be in martial arts but I offer it as... WTF?

http://straightsets.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/08/19/federer-coy-on-trick-shot-video/

"Don’t try this at home."

“I don’t do it that much, but, yeah, it was shot in one piece... the guy took a chance,”  “It worked out. I’m happy.”

4993  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government Programs, spending, budget process on: August 25, 2010, 10:28:39 PM
"We'll have to cut police/fire/EMS" was just a threat to protect pork. Now, lots of agencies are really getting cut, and at some levels, the money just isn't there."

Agree, it went from a threat, to a tactic to a reality.  When everything is top priority, nothing is.  Most LE is local.  One of our county commissioners likes to say 'don't tell me we don't have enough money' every time he sees one of these other crazy projects that go through.  Not the obvious ones like the billion dollar ballpark that went through last year with a tax increase where the commissioners  voted to waive the legal requirement to let the voters vote on it.  Just couldn't trust the voters to do the right thing.

He finds the more obscure ones for his local golden fire hydrant award, like 14 million extra on a bridge re-build to make it look a little fancier in a recession (how many sheriff's deputies would that fund?),  $600,000 to teach urban kids how to garden (the state and the school districts are charged with education, not the county), $700,000 on Landscaping at the Garbage Burner, $35,000 county funds for alcoholic wet houses where alcoholics can continue drinking, and on it goes. 
http://www.taxpayerwatchdog.org/golden-hydrant/county-spends-extra-14-million-to-make-bridge-look-really-cool-526/ 
http://www.taxpayerwatchdog.org/general/county-requests-600000-to-teach-kids-how-to-garden-611/ 
http://www.taxpayerwatchdog.org/golden-hydrant/garbage-burner-beautification-240/ 
http://www.taxpayerwatchdog.org/golden-hydrant/home-sweet-wet-home-438/
4994  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Politics of Health Care on: August 25, 2010, 01:10:31 PM
CCP, Choice "1- We can have a doctor and their patient decide what care to give/receive." - sounds kind of American to me, at least the America that I once knew.
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Crafty,  Over in The Way Forward I agreed whole-heartedly with this piece (GRACE-MARIE TURNER) and wanted to add that here.  She is right on the money.  Obama will not see new light and sign anything to do with repeal.  These are some practical steps a new congress can do for roughly the same affect. De-fund, dismantle, delay, direct oversight and delegate to the states.  ObamaPelosiCare is a choice that should be rejected at the state level and never was a power of the federal government. 

IIRC the neutral budget required collecting taxes 4 years before providing services so that the 10 year plan falsely breaks even saying 10 years pays for 6.  Instead of repealing, the new congress should set forward with a clean budget to their own priorities and just omit BS like that.  There will be a Newt-like showdown coming and I hope they are ready to hold ground win that war of opinion.
4995  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Way Forward: George Gilder, Ron Paul on: August 25, 2010, 12:56:37 PM
The way forward includes inspirational leading, not in-fighting.  I want to comment on the Gilder interview on interesting thought pieces here in terms of going forward.  Gilder is brilliant yet I think we all learned to take him in with a grain of salt.  As the analysis put it, I think he was a bit guarded and simplifying where he also can be loquacious.

I would include Gilder and Ron Paul, and VDH, Thomas Sowell, Karl Rove and plenty of others on my short list for input on how to lead, how to come together, and where to take this movement during this great opportunity, as it is still very vague in meaning and direction.

I agree with his criticism of Ron Paul' foreign policy views.  I agree with him on tax rates.  I think his insights about shifting the discussion to fostering human creativity is brilliant.

I also think a coalition between existing Republicans, conservatives, libertarians and center right moderates will come together politically only if we commit to cut and contain spending first.  Within that framework I think we can also cut military costs without surrendering or disarming.  I think we can reform entitlements if there is a will without starving the poor or pulling the plug on granny.  I think we can refuse to allow raising tax rates in a recession or any other time since that isn't working.  I think if we took congress we could reform the tax policy scoring mechanism at CBO, where I think Newt tried and failed, the model that always underscore pro-growth policies and disregards the contractionary effects of rate increases and regulation overload. I think we can put corporate tax rates at the median level of OECD instead of at the highest in western civilization.  I think we can do ALL the things proposed in Crafty's piece today regarding ObamaCare, namely de-fund it and send it back to the drawing board.  I doubt if we can do it but I would run with Paul Ryan's proposal that we put discretionary spending not to the stone age but back to the 2008 levels of the Pelosi congress and freeze it there until reforms of all the programs can be instituted.  I think we could truly end earmarks and could win on that issue alone if anyone believe us.  I think we can effectively contrast the last 4 supreme court picks and make a strong case to move all of our governing focus toward respecting constitutional limits on government.

Within that framework, we need to invite Ron Paul and all the people he has inspired to join and influence this movement, not to fight it.  I also think Ron Paul needs to fade back a bit especially on things and trust the work he has already accomplished while his son is front and center asking to be trusted for an extremely important seat.  You can't sweep swing states with any meaning if you can't win Kentucky.

I think Gilder's positive vision forward needs to overlay all of the root-canal work that need to be done first to make the full package a positive one.  But I don't think you can inherit a situation that has spending at $4 trillion, revenues at 2.5 trillion and a deficit that is greater than half of revenues, in a debt crisis environment, and not attack spending head-on.
4996  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government Programs, spending, budget process on: August 25, 2010, 12:12:26 PM
Speaking of affirmative action, I hear that DEA is hiring Ebonics translators to help with cases.  I wonder if well-qualified whites and Asians will get their proportional share of the hirings (joking):
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100823/ap_on_re_us/us_ebonics_dea
It actually sounds like a good and necessary idea.  LE needs to know what potentially criminal conversations captured with legal warrants mean, be able to explain translations to investigators and juries and they should be free to hire whoever does that best.  The key will be to find the Ebonics experts who also knows English well enough to do that.

Reminds me of Hillary's start at State.  She couldn't find anyone in the entire Dept. of civil servants and diplomats or from all her other contacts that knew enough Russian to get the word 'reset' translated correctly, besides that it was a stupid idea.  I don't think Russians are having the same trouble translating from English the military secrets that they steal.  A predecessor of hers humbly spoke fluent Russian all at the same cost to the taxpayer.
4997  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government Programs, spending, budget process on: August 24, 2010, 04:12:16 PM
CCP,  That gives me a nice understanding of how that works from your side and I'm sure you are as tough on them as anyone.  Half of it being fraud or exaggeration, even if anecdotal is shocking, but lower than my estimate.  The doctor's report should be the beginning of an application process.  It should be descriptive not judgmental for the next step.  He wouldn't conclude unfit to work, but he might say medium inflammation on the left ankle or the 7th vertebrae.  For some the issue is mental health. The patient should not be asking the doctor for a work conclusion just a medical report.  Screening and enforcement should in proportion to the resources we put into IRS.  Then there should active followup to move people from unable to work to providing something back to society of value based on their capabilities.

Speaking of government spending, I have a true story from yesterday:

County emergency assistance approved and confirmed with me on the phone a thousand dollars of emergency money to be paid on behalf of my new tenants on the exact same day that the satellite dish installer confirmed with me on the phone the location of the new dish and the placement of the large screens throughout the house. Meanwhile I don't take paid TV because of the cost and because I am too busy to watch. The story is true.  I have the address names and phone numbers.  And it is not unique.  Sorry for the generalization, but they all take cable or direct tv and the time that gets set up is on move-in, the same time that emergency assistance generally kicks in - every 6 months!

Instead of restricting things, we are advertising to get more clients into the programs.
4998  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government Programs, spending, budget process on: August 24, 2010, 11:35:40 AM
Sidetracked by contract micro-details of local governments paying for REAL work, maybe we should next take a look at the myriad of transfer programs federal state and local that pay people to NOT work.  One of the most abused that I see with my work in the inner city is SSI.  There are times when I am studying rental applications for income and start to believe that everybody by me is getting a check.

It is hard to oppose paying small amounts, maybe 450 per month per adult, to the disabled, except when you find out that nearly everyone in certain neighborhoods is disabled, physically, mentally or otherwise.  It makes sense from a distance until you see them carrying in some very large and heavy entertainment systems and expensive furniture for them to relax all day.

One way that they are able to get a note from their doctor is that they already getting free taxpayer paid healthcare so a doctor is only a taxpayer paid cab ride and waiting room visit away whenever you need one.

The cash payment goes ostensibly to pay for food, shelter and clothing except the same people here are also receiving food stamps, free clothing and often housing programs in addition to free unlimited healthcare.  I would also observe that because of the cash and other basics free, and time on their hands because they are banned from working so these people tend to have larger budgets available for beer, pot and cigarettes than most of the rest of us might have.

CCP (and others), how is it that these doctors determine these able bodied looking adults unable to participate in 'substantial gainful activity' (while the real disabled such as those returning from foreign wars with missing limbs are not exactly floating in cash)?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supplemental_Security_Income
---
Another example I am finding is where people are paid by the government to take care of their own family member.  It is a huge, huge scandal IMO.  I will post more when I find out more like whether it is state, federal or county that is paying.

4999  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government Programs, spending, budget process on: August 23, 2010, 06:03:46 PM
I think he thought I was joining the chorus who complain that civil servants have it cushy and make a boatload of money with time off etc. while he is out risking it all in tough situations sometimes like war and sometimes worse and barely breaking even.  If Crafty had thought my words were offensive I don't think he would have passed them on.  I never questioned our moderator's good faith on that or on posting the reply.  He made the effort to get firsthand input and he made the effort coming back to add a fair warning label.  My frustration was that thoughts so clear in my mind don't come out clearly after typed or received, because what he read was not at all what I was trying to say.  Participating here for one thing is an attempt to work on that.

The friend at NYPD might also have thought the true numbers in total compensation are false because his own past and current paychecks don't look at all like that, especially if he has a spouse working and earning.  I imagine he has an astonishing percentage of total pay taken from him before he sees it, good parts of that distributed to people like he runs across including the crackheads for example while his own bills remain challenging.  
As I re-posted from the earlier thought, I have no idea how to value things like climbing into a burning building (fire dept.), military or police work except to elect and trust representatives that can do what's right and attract and retain the best people they can within the fiscal constraints they face.

Unions like to negotiate salary, benefits and work rules as separate items.  We should IMO negotiate the total compensation, then let the worker designate for him/herself how they would like it distributed.
5000  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Asian Geopolitics: India and China on: August 22, 2010, 01:29:21 PM
From 'The Economist', which is not exactly my political cup of tea but good with international coverage, some insights and perspective on China and India which I don't wholly support but find to be a very worthwhile read.

http://www.economist.com/node/16846256

A HUNDRED years ago it was perhaps already possible to discern the rising powers whose interaction and competition would shape the 20th century. The sun that shone on the British empire had passed midday. Vigorous new forces were flexing their muscles on the global stage, notably America, Japan and Germany. Their emergence brought undreamed-of prosperity; but also carnage on a scale hitherto unimaginable.

Now digest the main historical event of this week: China has officially become the world’s second-biggest economy, overtaking Japan. In the West this has prompted concerns about China overtaking the United States sooner than previously thought. But stand back a little farther, apply a more Asian perspective, and China’s longer-term contest is with that other recovering economic behemoth: India. These two Asian giants, which until 1800 used to make up half the world economy, are not, like Japan and Germany, mere nation states. In terms of size and population, each is a continent—and for all the glittering growth rates, a poor one.

This is uncharted territory that should be seen in terms of decades, not years. Demography is not destiny. Nor for that matter are long-range economic forecasts from investment banks. Two decades ago Japan was seen as the main rival to America. Countries as huge and complicated as China can underachieve or collapse under their own contradictions. In the short term its other foreign relationships may matter more, even in Asia: there may, for instance, be a greater risk of conflict between rising China and an ageing but still powerful Japan. Western powers still wield considerable influence.

So caveats abound. Yet as the years roll forward, the chances are that it will increasingly come down once again to the two Asian giants facing each other over a disputed border (see article). How China and India manage their own relationship will determine whether similar mistakes to those that scarred the 20th century disfigure this one.

Neither is exactly comfortable in its skin. China’s leaders like to portray Western hype about their country’s rise as a conspiracy—a pretext either to offload expensive global burdens onto the Middle Kingdom or to encircle it. Witness America’s alliances with Japan and South Korea, its legal obligation to help Taiwan defend itself and its burgeoning friendships with China’s rivals, notably India but also now Vietnam.

This paranoia is overdone. Why shouldn’t more be asked from a place that, as well as being the world’s most-populous country, is already its biggest exporter, its biggest car market, its biggest carbon-emitter and its biggest consumer of energy (a rank China itself, typically, contests)? As for changing the balance of power, the People’s Liberation Army’s steady upgrading of its technological capacity, its building of a blue-water navy and its fast-developing skills in outer space and cyberspace do not yet threaten American supremacy, despite alarm expressed this week about the opacity of the PLA’s plans in a Pentagon report. But China’s military advances do unnerve neighbours and regional rivals. Recent weeks have seen China fall out with South Korea (as well as the West) over how to respond to the sinking in March, apparently by a North Korean torpedo, of a South Korean navy ship. And the Beijing regime has been at odds with South-East Asian countries over its greedy claim to almost all of the South China Sea.

India, too, is unnerved. Its humiliation at Chinese hands in a brief war nearly 50 years ago still rankles. A tradition of strategic mistrust of China is deeply ingrained. India sees China as working to undermine it at every level: by pre-empting it in securing supplies of the energy both must import; through manoeuvres to block a permanent seat for India on the United Nations Security Council; and, above all, through friendships with its smaller South Asian neighbours, notably Pakistan. India also notes that China, after decades of setting their border quarrels to one side in the interests of the broader relationship, has in recent years hardened its position on the disputes in Tibet and Kashmir that in 1962 led to war. This unease has pushed India strategically closer to America—most notably in a controversial deal on nuclear co-operation.

Autocrats in Beijing are contemptuous of India for its messy, indecisive democracy. But they must see it as a serious long-term rival—especially if it continues to tilt towards America. As recently as the early 1990s, India was as rich, in terms of national income per head. China then hurtled so far ahead that it seemed India could never catch up. But India’s long-term prospects now look stronger. While China is about to see its working-age population shrink (see article), India is enjoying the sort of bulge in manpower which brought sustained booms elsewhere in Asia. It is no longer inconceivable that its growth could outpace China’s for a considerable time. It has the advantage of democracy—at least as a pressure valve for discontent. And India’s army is, in numbers, second only to China’s and America’s: it has 100,000 soldiers in disputed Arunachal Pradesh (twice as many as America will soon have in Iraq). And because India does not threaten the West, it has powerful friends both on its own merits and as a counterweight to China.


A settlement in time

The prospect of renewed war between India and China is, for now, something that disturbs the sleep only of virulent nationalists in the Chinese press and retired colonels in Indian think-tanks. Optimists prefer to hail the $60 billion in trade the two are expected to do with each other this year (230 times the total in 1990). But the 20th century taught the world that blatantly foreseeable conflicts of interest can become increasingly foreseeable wars with unforeseeably dreadful consequences. Relying on prosperity and more democracy in China to sort things out thus seems unwise. Two things need to be done.

First, the slow progress towards a border settlement needs to resume. The main onus here is on China. It has the territory it really wants and has maintained its claim to Arunachal Pradesh only as a bargaining chip. It has, after all, solved intractable boundary quarrels with Russia, Mongolia, Myanmar and Vietnam. Surely it cannot be so difficult to treat with India?

That points to a second, deeper need, one that it took Europe two world wars to come close to solving: emerging Asia’s lack of serious institutions to bolster such deals. A regional forum run by the Association of South-East Asian Nations is rendered toothless by China’s aversion to multilateral diplomacy. Like any bully, it prefers to pick off its antagonists one by one. It would be better if China and India—and Japan—could start building regional forums to channel their inevitable rivalries into collaboration and healthy competition.

Globally, the rules-based system that the West set up in the second half of the 20th century brought huge benefits to emerging powers. But it reflects an out-of-date world order, not the current global balance, let alone a future one. China and India should be playing a bigger role in shaping the rules that will govern the 21st century. That requires concessions from the West. But it also requires commitment to a rules-based international order from China and India. A serious effort to solve their own disagreements is a good place to start.
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