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5051  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Islam in Europe: Geert Wilders free speech trial on: October 05, 2010, 11:39:23 AM
This is about free speech in Europe on trial; the underlying issue is about Islam in Europe and a tolerance that has been abused by the welcomed immigrants.  As one who was mugged and knifed in Amsterdam by 'immigrants', it seems to me that it should be legal to voice dissent to all the openness and tolerance that has been spit upon (worse) by certain new residents in a free society.
Dutch MP on trial for 'hate speech'
He risks up to a year in jail or a 7,600-euro ($10,471) fine for his comments if convicted.
Here is one of the more offensive quotes on trial, and it is no doubt offensive:
"I've had enough of Islam in the Netherlands; let not one more Muslim immigrate," he wrote in the paper. "I've had enough of the Quran in the Netherlands: Forbid that fascist book."
From personal experience, I would say it is the behavior of certain people from among the new immigrants who incited the hatred, not the free speech of those who point it out.

If you are allowed to speak in favor of something, calling Islam a religion of peace for example when we know plenty of examples of people reading and acting on those passages do not come in peace, then why should people not be be allowed to speak out against that same thing, even if what is said is offensive?

If Wilders had called for violence against the Muslims, and he didn't, that would be very different than calling for an end to additional immigration.

I wonder what Theo van Gogh thinks about the issue.
5052  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Economics on: October 05, 2010, 10:47:23 AM
"...the point that the US is not a closed economy"

Bloomberg yesterday: "International ownership of U.S. municipal bonds jumped 37 percent in the first half of the year from the end of 2009 to $83 billion, a Sept. 17 Federal Reserve report shows."

Besides the international ownership, Krugman conveniently omitted the fact that states and municipalities (and businesses and homebuyers and students) also need room left in the credit markets after the feds buy and steal all of the available funds.

Bloomberg again: "Illinois, with the lowest credit rating of any state from Moody’s Investors Service, dangled yields higher than Mexico"  shocked

Crafty: "MV=PQ".  Velocity of money is fascinating to me.  As you point out in the equation, it has equal importance with the supply of money.  I would point out in return that these are imperfectly measured measures, but extremely important concepts.  People's eyes tend to gloss over when you discuss velocity of money.  If a dollar changes hands fourteen times in a day or fourteen hundred times, is it still one dollar? lol.

It's hard to cut and paste economic discussions without the charts, but here is a little discussion on the topic from a capital advisory group that reinforces the same point that Crafty just made:

Having an understanding of the Quantity Theory of Money (QTM) will provide one with an understanding why some strategist are concerned about future inflation. The factor in the QTM that is holding back inflation at the moment is the fact the "velocity" of money has declined substantially. So what is the Quantity Theory of Money?

The QTM is based:  "directly on the changes brought about by an increase in the money supply. The quantity theory of money states that the value of money is based on the amount of money in the economy. Thus, according to the quantity theory of money, when the Fed increases the money supply, the value of money falls and the price level increases."

A great deal has been written recently about the fact that the Fed's effort to provide for more liquidity in the financial system has really not produced much growth as bank's are holding the liquidity in excess reserves (click on chart to enlarge).

The importance of this has to do with the Quantity Theory of Money (QTM) which describes the interplay of nominal GDP, money supply and velocity.

Recently though, the velocity of M2 and the YOY percentage change are showing increases. As the below charts do show (click on each to enlarge), it is not uncommon for velocity to take some time to pick up following an economic recession.

The relationship between velocity, the money supply, the price level, and output is represented by the equation:

    * M * V = P * Y where
    * M is the money supply,
    * V is the velocity,
    * P is the price level, and
    * Y is the quantity of output.
    * P * Y, the price level multiplied by the quantity of output, gives the nominal GDP.

This equation can thus be rearranged as V = (nominal GDP) / M. Conceptually, this equation means that for a given level of nominal GDP, a smaller money supply will result in money needing to change hands more quickly to facilitate the total purchases, which causes increased velocity. In the QTM, velocity is assumed to be constant in the short run since it is not easy to manipulate. If the above equation holds and output is not quickly changed, prices will rise. Additionally, a rise in prices multiplied by an unchanged output will result in higher GDP. The question is whether or not there is demand for the output.

We do believe the consumer demand side of the equation is being restrained for a number of reasons, the uncertain regulatory environment, consumer deleveraging and high unemployment to name just a few. We are cautiously optimistic that higher velocity is being realized and will lead to higher nominal GDP via an upward pressure on prices.
5053  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Government programs: charity vs. welfare on: October 04, 2010, 11:37:21 PM
I pulled this short paragraph of wisdom out of Victor Hanson's lastest post over at Works and Days / Pajamas Media:

The upper-middle-class is not greedy, but they do have three reservations about the Obama pie-slicing: they want to have a little say in the distribution; they better than Obama know how much they can afford to give; and they sense that something for nothing is not a neutral act, but a sort of evil in creating dependency and destroying initiative — all for that selfish feeling of benefaction among elites that comes from handing out someone else’s money.
5054  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: October 04, 2010, 01:26:02 AM
GM wrote: "I'll state for the record that the economy will be much worse than it is now. Think double dip with an L-shaped bottom. We have a narrow window (The next two elections) to pull out of this death spiral."

I agree with you on the time frame.  It is not the election cycles but the policies that come out of it with a 180 degree change in thinking, and I am pessimistic about it even if elections go nominally well.

I posted a Krauthammer piece a while back called "Decline is a Choice".  The title says it all for where we are now.  People say they voted for Obama because they didn't like Bush, and before that in 2006 for similar reasons, having a Republican congress didn't mean anything positive even in a growing economy.  But they also chose these policies.  As Obama told the activists in the last week, he has accomplished 70% of it so far. Now people allegedly will vote against Pelosi-Reid-Obama because of policies, a vague dislike for the expansion of government and the lack of positive results from it.  I don't buy that people can really change their thinking that radically, that quickly.  Not enough people get it economically, from my point of view, in terms of recognizing a distinction between pro-growth and anti-growth policies and choosing enough economic freedoms and incentives to get things rolling again.  On top of that there is an impending demographic trainwreck headed at us that we are totally unprepared for.

Reminds me of what they said about Japan in about 1990 IIRC, only worse.  The only thing that would avoid the stagnation and deflation coming (in Japan at that time) was bold action, and the one thing their form of government was incapable of was bold action of any kind, so the pessimistic predictions all came true.

A large grass roots movement is ready for change.  Not necessarily a majority.  What really is missing is one leader who can do it, communicate it, get it right, and win. Unfortunately I don't see one and the time frame is running short.

Imagine 1980 with no Reagan.  Reagan was a front runner but barely got himself separated from a crowded field.  People barely understood what he meant by the Kemp-Roth cuts and mostly didn't know if he was serious or if it would work.  Plenty of people still don't know it worked.  Does anyone think a quarter century economic expansion would have begun or the cold war would have ended in 8 years with eastern Europe free and the Soviet Union gone if moderate George H.W. Bush had won then, or Senate Minority Leader Howard Baker, or John Connally, or Illinois Congressmen John Anderson and Phil Crane had won the nomination or if the Incumbent President James Carter had been reelected or if his challenger Teddy Kennedy had won it all?  What were any of them going to do that would have lifted out of that hole?  That is the roughly the question I would ask this crowded field that is developing today and I am skeptical about hearing a convincing answer.
5055  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Economics, Answering Krugman's Straw Man Shell Game on: October 04, 2010, 12:12:03 AM
I wanted to answer Krugman point by point but by the 6th or 8th paragraph I realized he so far had nothing of substance.  Marc your paraphrase was much more to the point:

"what of the predictions of inflation and high interest rates from some on our side that have come to naught?   How do we explain that?"

In Krugman's words,"So, how has it turned out? The 10-year bond rate is about 2.5 percent, lower than it was when Ferguson made that prediction. Inflation keeps falling. The attacks on Keynesianism now come down to “but unemployment has stayed high!” which proves nothing — especially because if you took a Keynesian view seriously, it suggested even given what we knew in early 2009 that the stimulus was much too small to restore full employment.  The point is that recent events have actually amounted to a fairly clear test of Keynesian versus classical economics — and Keynesian economics won, hands down."

1) "So, how has it turned out?"  Is that where we are?  We have the final score from this debacle? That was the policy and here is the result?  There is no ticking time bomb left out there to decimate our economy as we know it?  What an insincere idiot.  Has he seen THIS?  Instead of arguing about timeframes, let's call this moment of looking at the results so far HALFTIME, not game over.  I will concede to him that price increases SO FAR are within normal and reasonable levels.

2) Inflation is not price increases.  Inflation is about the currency, more dollars relative to the amount of goods and services in the economy.  We have more dollars, an increasing money supply by any measure and we have stagnancy in production of goods in services.  Price increases are a lagging consequence of that, ALL OTHER THINGS BEING EQUAL, that can spiral and build for quite a while after the dollar/monetary inflation.

3) All other things being equal is the little qualifier that economists forget to put at the end of EVERY sentence because it starts to sound repetitive, not because it isn't necessary to make the sentence true.

4) As GM already put it, consumer demand is down, unemployment is up.  The stagnation in the economy and the soft demand delays the price increases.  THAT DOES NOT MEAN THAT THERE ARE NOT MORE DOLLARS / FEWER GOODS and that inflation of our currency has not already occurred.

5) Krugman hit one point right.  Supply side economists and other responsible economists have been warning about inflation for about 28 years since it eased last time, not just during the Pelosi-Obama stimulus bailout era.  Warning about inflation is what they do and we keep watch over (like guarding the border and warning about invasion). Study the WSJ editorials for that entire time, since the Carter era inflation eased and worry is what they do. I had a short, cordial argument with Scott Grannis about that which I will replay in another post, but our inflation, at a few percent per year, is pretty good IMO under the circumstances of the other factors running out of control in the mis-management of our economy and in a situation where any deflation is far more dangerous than a point or two of inflation.  

6) That Krugman is right (IMO) about that historical observation (economists warning about inflation for 28 years that didn't come) does not make him right now.  Crazy price increases may be coming.  Recall that the Carter inflation had roots back far before Carter.  It was Friday the 13th in Aug 1971 when Nixon and 15 advisers at Camp David decided a PRICE WAGE FREEZE was necessary and preferable to a free economy due to unacceptable, out of control inflation. 7% then and double that by the end of the decade.  The damage to our currency preceded that, back to the mid to late '60s and resulted in the dollar erosion of the '70s and all the economic carnage of 1981-82, so don't tell me the final chapter of this round is already written and scored!

7) Interest rates, Krugman again: "the classical theory of the interest rate, in which it’s all about supply and demand for funds, and something like a quantity theory of money, in which increases in the monetary base lead, in a fairly short time, to equal proportional rises in the price level. This led to the prediction that large fiscal deficits would lead to soaring interest rates"

Prof. K, the U.S. economy with U.S. deficits IS NOT A CLOSED SYSTEM.  We are not selling all of our borrowings within our economy and (again) it is not with all other things remaining equal.  Increases in borrowings are measured or judged against other things least of important of all is what was your previous debt level IF that level was not already dangerously high.  If a sober person has a sip of beer, he/she may be fine and live happily ever after whereas a person alreadyintoxicated slams a pitcher of margaritas and dies of alcohol poisoning.  A Nobel Peace Laureate seriously does not see that distinction??  

In the 1980s debt went up, but revenues doubled and GDP more than doubled and the world economy followed suit with economic growth.  In 2010, debt levels are already out of sight, debt is doubling but GDP and revenues have shrunk and stagnated.  Again, Prize winning Prof, YOU SEE NO DISTINCTION??  I don't believe you.

Interest rates are partly market driven and partly manipulated by the Fed.  The deficits are being partly monetized and partly borrowed.  As a government, we pay our bills first with printed money and then sell back 'treasuries' not in the exact amounts or the exact timings of the expenditures, but ease them into the (global) market.  If those were forced on the market in real time, and could only be bought with existing funds from within the stagnated US economy, the good Prof thinks the interest rates today would still be low - where they are today?? Bullshit. (Is there a nicer way of saying that?)  A smart guy like that, there is no way he believes that! Instead we have foreigners holding our debt and buying our assets, and that has no gathering negative consequence?

8.) Fact is about borrowing, it depends on a) how able you are to afford the burden of the debt and b) how productive was the use of the funds you borrowed.  If a business borrows at 5% and generates an internal rate of return at 10% with that money and can afford the cash flow burden of the payments and the interest, maybe no one is hurt and something of value is gained.  If a young family borrows within their means to buy a house with a mortgage, they may pay 3-fold with interest for the house still within their means but they have a house to live in with the kids growing up instead of buying it for cash at the end of their life (for 3 times more) and living in a swamp or cave in the meantime.  Reagan's debt bought us, for one thing, an end to the cold war and jumpstarted economic growth to the tune of a quarter century of unprecedented economic expansion.  Obama's stimulus debt is maybe 7% on infrastructure and 93% pissed away in the wind by most measures. Krugman argues only size of the stimulus, not use. (Perhaps he is compensating for something?) When it is done we are where we were, actually worse off, and owing a trillion and a half a year more, plus interest burden forever.

9) When you live beyond your means now, you will live beneath your means later.  Crafty, your kids' share of debt and mine is supposedly 121k each per taxpayer right now.  Let's assume that the more productive half of taxpayers pay double that and assume our kids end up in that more productive half, so double that.  Depending on their age now and their age when they start being productive, I would say double it again, maybe more, AND THEN ADD INTEREST FOREVER TO IT.  Let's say they marry, so for 2 productive people that is roughly a MILLION DOLLAR MORTGAGE in today's dollars BEFORE INTEREST and BEFORE THEY GET A HOUSE and another mortgage or pay a penny on a student loan.  No problem Prof. K.(??)  I notice that Krugman has no kids.

10) Krugman thought the stimulus was too small.  We have $4 T in expenses, 2.5 T in revenues, 1.5 T in new deficits/yr, new debt AND HE THINKS THE STIMULUS IS TOO SMALL!

11) That was so far was in answer to his straw man argument, NOT why supply-siders think Keynesian economics is dead.

12) Keynesian Economics has a few central threads running through it.  One is the Phillips curve, that there is a tradeoff between inflation and unemployment.  High unemployment or a soft economy brings low inflation and low unemployment brings with it a high demand and higher inflation.  That inverse relationship was proven false.  Two examples: The Jimmy Carter malaise stagflation of the late 1970s had both high inflation and high unemployment.  Then the two pronged fix for that cured both and we had low unemployment and low inflation running simultaneously for years.  I doubt Keynes if alive today would want his name on that false theory.

13) The second aspect and central theme of Keynesian thought is that an interventionist government, by adjusting the economy these so-called stimuli, larger and smaller deficits, can ease the pain of the natural business cycles when we move too far to one side or the other of the already proven false Phillips Curve.  Again proven false by Krugman's own policy, the current stimulus.  He says it didn't work because it was too small by half.  But it didn't stimulate us half way to where we want to be either!  That is because a shortage of government spending had nothing to do with what was wrong with the economy.  One of the problems was too much debt, not helped by more debt.  Another problem is/was too big a load the public sector was putting on the private economy with taxes, spending and excess regulations, also not helped by doubling the wasteful spending and cranking up other burdens like healthcare.  None of our current  problem has anything to do with natural business cycles.  So none of his prescription, doubled or not, makes any sense.  This downturn was 100% caused by failed public policies and no proposal of Krugman's seeks to redress any of them.
5056  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: October 03, 2010, 06:09:21 PM
"quite right"

I look forward to CCP's comments as well.

The entire book is accessible at the google books link.

The Pledge to America I think compels a new R. House to revisit this issue and at least vote on repeal and replace with something consistent with limited government principles.
5057  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: October 03, 2010, 05:23:25 PM
"Gas Is Going To $5 A Gallon, Consumer Spending Is Dead, And House Prices Will Fall Another 20%"

If it were based only on our failed energy supply policies gas wouldn't stop at $5 but would go to $25/gallon and beyond.  But of course it is also based on affordability so the suppliers do not maximize revenues by raising up with no limit.  High energy prices were a contributor to our recent economic downfall, but rising prices are partially a sign of global economic strength.  There is no new pipeline coming in from Alaska or from anywhere else, no new refineries (as well as no new coal plants and no new nuclear plants that need many years of lead time to get going) so short supply is also a cause of the price rise.

Consumer spending was a bubble like housing in this throw away society and a correction is not all bad. When you can't bump up your home equity loan and you are buying down your credit cards, logic starts to compete with emotion. Other than three wise men baring gifts I don't recall anything in scripture about seasonal shopping mall madness.  These are more recent phenomena.  Now I see Goodwill more crowded.

Housing markets are all intertwined but primarily regional.  Maybe they will drop further with still more foreclosures coming on line and most foreclosure buyers are thoroughly exhausted in more than one sense.  I bought another investment property for an amazingly low price last week, while other buyers sit out.  It is a little scary being a contrarian, I just figure in that next 20% drop now and assume that the people who don't jump from their office window will have to live somewhere.  As soon as the income and employment situation rebounds (we probably need a war to change those policies), housing will do just fine.  If not, I'm screwed anyway so who cares.

This is no longer a plunging economy on the brink.  Two years past Sept 2008 this economy is what it is.  We elected anti-growth, anti-production policies.  We vote for trillion and a half dollar deficits and we get stagnation with impending inflation along with energy scarcity and too many regulations for anyone to want to hire or manufacture. Still we rebound slowly because that is what Americans, the half who contribute, do.

It is always surprising to me that economists who strongly oppose PelosiObamanomics like our own Scott Grannis are still rather upbeat about the outlook.  His most recent 4 or 5 posts are fairly positive and based on real data, and that theme there has been consistent for months:
Auto sales point to ongoing economic recovery
ISM indices continue to point to moderate growth
Unemployment claims situation is slowly improving
Online job demand points to rising employment
Tech and consumer stocks have recovered nicely
The housing market has adjusted to new realities
Household financial obligations have eased considerably
Commodities reach new all-time highs
Capex continues very strong
No shortage of money
Housing market remains weak - oops, mostly positive.
5058  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: October 03, 2010, 04:32:41 PM
" That one made me slap the side of my head; good grief people we have got to seal that border..        P.C."

Not just the ordinary violent thugs, gangs and cartels of Mexican and Latin American origin but I can imagine some middle east types with 911 hijacker style motives coming across the southern border or those home grown British and northern European terror types like the London bombers, Theo van Gogh's killers or Danish cartoon protesters coming across our northern border or vice versa. 

We have about the right number of thugs of our own here already IMO.  The new people coming in need to be screened and held to a little higher standard like being crime free and trained in field where we have a shortage of workers.  Right now it seems like it is the border gang and drug cartels doing that screening for us and using the wrong criteria.
5059  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Photos from the one nation rally you won't see in the MSM on: October 03, 2010, 01:28:35 PM

Identical buses lined unloading people with matching shirts.  Signs promoting socialism, marxism, terrorism. Litter strewn.  About a 6 or 7 year old girl promoting socialism for the 21st century.

Why wouldn't the media show these?
5060  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 2010 Elections; NT Times on Christine O’Donnell on: October 03, 2010, 01:15:12 PM
My first time posting a Frank Rich opinion from the NY Times.  He makes the point that her trouble in finding jobs, paying bills, keeping a home, even writing a resume, may resonate with more people than some would expect.  (More so than others with maid problems etc.)

"The more O’Donnell is vilified, the bigger the star she becomes, and the more she can reinforce the Tea Party’s preferred narrative as “a spontaneous and quite anarchic movement” (in the recent words of the pundit Charles Krauthammer) populated only by everyday folk upset by big government and the deficit."
Rich's real point is that she is an idiot following a Palin script and the movement is phony, has links to billionaire backers etc.  (No mention of Dems like the MN Dem Gov candidate whose biggest contributor is his ex-wife, a Rockefeller big oil money.)

5061  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Progressivism: Reusable Grocery Bags Breed Bacteria on: October 03, 2010, 12:54:12 PM
I think we need a category for Unintended Consequences.  Removing meat preservatives increases botulism. Banning DDT causes Malaria outbreaks.  Raising minimum wage law increases unemployment.  Raising taxes on capital unemploys labor.  CFL light bulbs release Mercury when broken.  Smaller car means death more likely on impact.  Now reusable grocery bags breed bacteria.  Who knew?? I have long argued that every new piece of legislation should require that an Impact Statement of Unintended Consequences be debated and passed first, just like the requirement for a shopping center developer to first file an environmental impact statement.

DENVER -- They are good for the environment, but reusable grocery bags are also a breeding ground for bacteria.

Many responsible shoppers carefully choose their groceries and put them into the same cloth or plastic bags over and over again on every trip to the store.
5062  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: China on: October 03, 2010, 12:14:09 PM
"Taiwan formally declaring independence would absolutely trigger a war with China. The Taiwanese don't want a formal declaration."

GM, thank you.  My thought was purely hypothetical.  We have no leadership to stand up to China on anything.
5063  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: October 03, 2010, 12:07:32 PM
"It is a giant game of "gotcha"."

True and too bad both ways.  I assume Calif has larger problems.  I'm not following the campaign, we have our own governor's race, but the choices in general are spend more / more of the same vs. spend less / control spending and I assume both campaigns work hard to blur the choices.  From the state budget point of view, illegal immigration puts a burden on state spending.  No one will say no to  public services for illegals, especially their children.  Even bringing up that budget burden offends legal, law abiding Hispanic voters.  From the federal point of view, either we have borders or we don't.  If not, then we have no nation, no way to plan, spend, or budget services for our citizens.  Either we are a nation of laws or we are not.  The good laws we need to enforce and the bad laws we need to repeal.

JDN, thanks for the candid reply. I didn't you are a golfer, maybe I can win back the money I might lose to you in squash...  Jerry Brown' previous experience as Governor, like Reagan's, like Brown's father, was in a different time.  California was leading the nation and the nation was leading the world all in a positive sense. Now the opposite.  I doubt if either of these people can fix it but I would vote for whoever I thought would stand up stronger to the legislature.  Probably not someone in the legislature's same party with the same donors and same power groups.

5064  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Politics of Health Care: Uproot U.S. HealthCare on: October 03, 2010, 11:32:43 AM
Let's implement these ideas.
If Obamacare Is Repealed, What Then?
By Deane Waldman     October 03, 2010

(J. Deane Waldman MD MBA is the author of "Uproot U.S. Healthcare," Tenured Professor in both the Medical and Management Schools at University of New Mexico and Adjunct Scholar for the Rio Grande Foundation.  Educated and trained at Yale, Chicago Medical, Mayo Clinic, Northwestern, Harvard, and Anderson Schools, he has authored over one hundred academic citations in medicine as well as healthcare strategy and management. He has been chief of pediatric cardiology at three major medical centers.)

Most opponents of Obamacare (HR 3590), including its Republican detractors, offer nothing substantive as an alternative. If healthcare is truly "broken" and if Obamacare is so wrong, what should we do instead?

The answer is surprisingly straightforward: practice good medicine, rather than smarmy politics, on sick healthcare. That is the thesis of my book "Uproot U.S. Healthcare."

There are five steps in good medical practice, whether on a sick person or a sick system.

    * 1. Review all past and present evidence. Depending on logic alone is not acceptable.
    * 2. Diagnose the reason(s) for illness -- do root cause analysis.
    * 3. Treat cause(s), not the signs and symptoms. Avoid the ‘blame game.'
    * 4. Partner with the patient. You cannot dictate to her, him, or it.
    * 5. Adjust the treatment plan if outcomes are not those desired.

As is obvious, Congress did none of these. (In medical practice, this is called malpractice.) What would happen if the principles of good medical practice were applied to healthcare?

Evaluating past evidence proves the following.

    * 1) When any system disconnects the consumers from control of their money, they cannot economize and have no reason to do so. Therefore, with limited ‘supply' and unlimited ‘demand' for health care services, the government must ration, as is done in every country with universal health care. Check out any recent British newspaper.
    * 2) Every cost projection of every entitlement Program ever enacted by Congress has underestimated its true cost. In 1990, the GAO found that Medicare cost 854% more than Congress' original projection. Medicare is now projected to go broke by 2017. If ObamaCare is estimated to cost >$1 trillion, imagine what the actual price tag will be, that our children will have to pay.
    * 3) When government manages anything, the bureaucratic cost explodes at the expense of the public. Before HR 3590, 40% of all healthcare dollars went to the bureaucracy. With the massive bureaucratic expansion enacted by ObamaCare, that number will approach 50%. When you are talking about trillions, Congress is creating an unsustainable waste of our tax dollars.

Root Cause Analysis shows 10 reasons for increased healthcare spending.

See details in "Uproot US Healthcare."

    * 1. New value (care not possible in the past)
    * 2. More people who live longer
    * 3. Actions without evidence
    * 4. Bureaucracy, Inefficiency, Reconciliation, and Regulatory Compliance. This is called the "waste of the middle."
    * 5. Disconnecting consumers from control of their money
    * 6. Rewarding outcomes that we don't want
    * 7. Defensive medicine
    * 8. Adverse outcomes and errors (medical)
    * 9. Money taken out of healthcare legally
    * 10. Fraud, abuse, errors (financial) and embezzlement.

Curative treatment

Clearly, we want to spend money on the first two above. To stop wasteful spending permanently or using medical terms to cure the patient, we need to fix #3 through #10. If action without evidence (#3) wastes money, we should require evidence before spending. Unless a regulation and its accompanying costly Federal bureaucracy are proven to be worth the expense, show them the sunset. If defensive medicine is due to the tort system, replace the tort system. If you want insurance companies to make less or no profit (#9), change how they do business.


The American people hate (I do not use that word lightly) being dictated to by government. Our nation was founded on an act of rebellion against what we now have again: a government that ignores the wishes of the people.

The only way to develop a healthcare system that will be acceptable to the populace is by asking them what they want the system to do and what they are willing to do. If government tells people what the system will do for them and to them, Americans will rebel.

Do you want proof? First, note the lowest approval rating for Congress in the history of our country. Second, witness the success of the Tea Party, whose sole unifying concept is its opposition to excess government spending.

With Obamacare being clearly "wrong," what is "right?"

Until we practice good medicine on healthcare, it will continue to decline and we will keep paying with our money and our lives.
5065  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / re. 2012 Presidential: John Bolton on: October 03, 2010, 12:40:52 AM
GM wrote: "He'd eat captain teleprompter for lunch in a debate."

On that same vein, whoever wins the R. nomination (if not Bolton) will have to debate and defeat him.  They better start seriously preparing now.

My introduction to Bolton was the liberal uproar when he was picked for UN Ambassador.  He seems to be a consistent hawk, which is mostly good to me but with less appeal over on the RINO side of the party.

UN Ambassador I think was George Bush senior's highest job when he was thought to be so highly qualified in 1980.  He was widely respected for being a moderate but when the party and the nation needed a sharp u-turn toward security and growth, they didn't pick the moderate.  They picked a conservative clear in his convictions.  Maybe Bolton can be that, he has a clarity and confidence about him, but I don't think he will start near the front of the pack - nor does he.

He will be ridiculed for his call to bomb Iran, but that criticism may backfire by Nov. 2012.  By then the threat posed by Iran's nuclear reality could be a serious concern.
Checking in with the Bolton Campaign
September 16, 2010 11:23 A.M.
By Rich Lowry     

We mentioned our favorite dark-horse candidate for president, John Bolton, yesterday. I checked in with him about the state of his campaign.

First, on its rationale, “We just don’t have enough discussion on national security. Obama views it as a distraction. None of our candidates are talking about it on a serious, sustained basis.”

On the long odds: “I have absolutely no illusions as someone who hasn’t run for elective office before. But I have been talking to people about it to find out whether they break out laughing. I’m sometimes met with a dumbfounded look when I mention it, but most of people then say, ‘Well, why not?’”

On his foreign-policy focus when a presidential campaign will have to be more wide-ranging: “Before the Bush 43 administration and since I left, I spent all those years at AEI,  surrounded by the best economists in the country. I have absorbed a lot of that. And don’t forget: I worked in Ed Meese’s Justice Department when he was formulating the case for originalism and I was a student of Robert Bork’s and the law-and-economics school of thought.”
I will be giving Bolton a serious look.   - Doug
5066  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: October 02, 2010, 11:58:11 PM
"this has hurt Whitman"

I read but did not watch the 2nd debate so I cannot gauge the reaction.  Certainly this is a major, unwanted distraction. 

JDN, I don't get a vote in Calif. What is yours likely to be? and why.
5067  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Environmental issues on: October 02, 2010, 11:40:13 AM
BBG, That video was unbelievable without even considering that it was produced by advocates of the policy or that taxpayer funds (UK) played a major role along with major corporations.  Nice rip in the 'Telegraph' story: Be not surprised that The Guardian is their ‘media partner’.

The non apology in the story: "Many people found the resulting film extremely funny, but unfortunately some didn’t and we sincerely apologise to anybody we have offended." (Any strange individual who may be offended by young schoolchildren blown up into strewn blood, guts and body parts for not following the totalitarian state thought police guidelines gets their sincerest apology.)
5068  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: China and Taiwan on: October 02, 2010, 11:27:30 AM
Looks to me like the Taiwan Relations Act was an act of congress (signed by Jimmy Carter) rather than a treaty. Since I believe the UN is worthless, I am not saying start a war over this issue, but it is a card that any serious President should be ready to consider.  Especially when it always seems that China holds all the cards, like the game playing they do with NK and this latest spat with Japan.

The one-China concept is simply de facto false today.  Taiwan will never rule China, and Taiwan will never peacefully accept PRC rule.  They can reunite later after China is free like East and West Germany did, but right now they are 2 countries.  Taiwan is as worthy of international acceptance as any nation or territory I can think of.
5069  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: October 02, 2010, 11:14:03 AM
Whitman has a hypocrisy problem, but she is running against Jerry Brown so will see what high standard voters hold her to, lol.

What I don't get in the Whitman maid case is if the Feds KNOW she is illegal and where to find her during the day, why are they putting law enforcement responsibility on the citizen or business?  What would it accomplish for Whitman to have chased her out of their employ.  Is the thought that she would then never again find work, starve and die or walk back toward her old home through the gang controlled border crossings?  Not when every welfare agency in the state would welcome her with open arms.  Point is there is no enforcement, no consistency, no consequence. 

This discussion tells me we need to hold public services and employment to the same standard.  Why we would stop someone from working and then let them stay in the US to use public services? That doesn't make sense. 

It points back to - secure the borders first and then deal with who is here.
5070  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / China: Is Obama ready for a staredown? on: October 01, 2010, 11:50:14 PM
One peaceful way to say he is ready for a staredown with China would be for this Nobel prize winning peace artist to sponsor the nation of Taiwan to join the United Nations and to quietly with no fanfare put our own membership and financial support for the organization on hold until it is accomplished. 

(The answer is no, I don't think he is ready.)
5071  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Immigration issues, another burden on business on: October 01, 2010, 11:32:09 PM
"See my post #415 of 9/4/10."

"Employers who hire illegal immigrants can be fined, but the Obama administration warned this week that they also can be fined for asking legal immigrants to show their green cards before hiring them."
Thank you.  Unbleepingbelievable.  We find a legitimate function for the federal government and they refuse to do it, refuse to let anyone else do it and then blame us back for the problem.  Time to throw the tea into the harbor and rattle their cages electorally until we get someone's attention.

If the Feds were all over the border security function and actively finding and deporting illegals and undocumented people, then requiring the reasonable cooperation of businesses would make perfect sense.

You can't scrutinize a non-English speaking Hispanic person, airport security can't target a young Muslim male with a one way cash ticket any more than they would your grandmother, and up here are we supposed to card check or ignore it when we catch someone finishing a question with... eh?
5072  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Latin America on: October 01, 2010, 02:15:36 PM
Denny,  That is some serious gerrymandering!  That is a quite a good breakthrough here for the Washington Post to get the story straight after a previous election where the Bush administration took the word of Jimmy Carter and advice of Colin Powell and accepted a stolen election.  Still I am shocked by the fact that 48% think the Chavez path is acceptable.  Margin of victory matters.  It makes it harder to steal elections as we learned here where my newest senator is the same Al Franken that we defeated on election night.
5073  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: October 01, 2010, 02:01:09 PM
"I think many employers are profiting by the relationship."

I know that is true, but you are missing the word knowingly.  Sort of knowing it because tens of millions of them are illegal is not knowing it.

"Perhaps if you apply penalties to employers and enforce those penalties,
we will have fewer illegal aliens working here."

Penalties without again using the word " knowingly"?  I don't mean should have guessed it by how they look or speak, but knowing with certainty in individual cases.  Should not the same penalty apply to anyone else who does business with the illegal and benefits from it like the grocer?

"I don't think it's onerous for employers to require a Driver's License at time of employment and to keep a copy thereof."

Require a DL for a non-driving job? To pick fruit or for heavy lifting or to work on a roof?  Or maybe only for Hispanics with a suspicious heavy accent?

"I'm not necessarily asking the employer to turn the person in to ICE..."

Which is someone else who will do nothing about it.

What about the welfare agencies.  They are an employer of sorts.  Same penalties, same requirements?  What about the public school?  They benefit.  Using local numbers, they get about 10k per year per student, legal or illegal.  What about the emergency rooms?  They benefit financially.  They do business and bill back (us) for their services.  We (the federal government suing Arizona) don't even let police officers do the type of scrutiny that we want to asking of business.  A police officer could stumble into an identity fraud racket and make a lasting difference.

"the employer should understand that if he knowingly hires an illegal employee he will suffer financial consequences"

 smiley  Okay, you came through for me with the word knowingly, but HOW?  All the employer can do it seems to me is require of the applicant what the government requires them to require and pass it to the government for a determination of authenticity.  These employers aren't receiving documents that certify someone is illegal and then going ahead with business.  Try turning people away for ethnicity based reasons and see how busy your legal department gets.

We aren't far apart here, the point is (like CCP says) that it doesn't make any sense until the government agrees to do their part FIRST and then require the rest of us to cooperate REASONABLY and comply.   

I can't get all fussy with someone who looks different or talks different than me in my business.  I have to treat everyone exactly the same under the strict laws that prohibit discrimination based on ethnicity and a host of other things.  If I would hire my brother without an ID and a background check then I have to give a Canadian looking person the same treatment.
5074  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Fed, Monetary Policy, & the US Dollar on: October 01, 2010, 01:29:52 PM
JDN: "However, not to argue semantics, there is a potential "gain" in the value of gold.  Just like (vacant land) property (gold is gold; property is property; an acre is an acre) if property goes up in value there is a gain and if sold, there is a tax. "

You missed my point or you disagree which is fine.  I don't question that the IRS deems it a gain.  I'm saying they are wrong and it is unconscionable.  Property is different; vacant land can change by getting closer to development for example, though you are right that most of those gains are inflationary as well and I am saying that component of the gain is no gain at all.  You have no right to be taxed on the fact that they devalued our currency while you held the asset.

If you look historically at gold prices you will see it is the dollar that goes down and not gold that goes up. There is no gain when the money you bought with deteriorates and the commodity you purchased held its value.   Not semantics, that a crucial difference of opinion.

In the '70s, OPEC quadrupled the dollar price of oil yet the gold price of oil remained remarkably stable.  It is the dollar that devalues in times of inflation yet there is no mechanism in the tax code other than long term capital gains rates for accounting for that.

JDN: "That means a rate of as much as 35%. On a $100,000 gain, that's $35,000 you pay to the government"

More like as high as 50% if held less than a year. The top rate, in place now, for buying today with a sale after Jan. 1 is (I believe) 39.5% and that does not include STATE TAX which is roughly 10% where I live and has no mechanism whatsoever for income averaging, inflation adjusting or long term capital gains preference no matter how poor you were before or after you made the one time sale with a pretend gain of an inflated asset.
5075  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: October 01, 2010, 01:00:14 PM
JDN,  I did not listen to the clip but follow you on one point: how is an employer receiving forged documents supposed to know?  How did Gen. Colin Powell 'know' his contractor had illegals working in his house.  Did they look Hispanic and speak with an accent?

I have a family member who works with employers in the Human Resources field and is not in favor of putting more burdens on employers to solve this problem.  My thought is that the government can ask the employer to disclose who they hire and they could require documents or copies of identification for the new hires be faxed to them for enforcement, but not to require the business to do the federal government's job for them (when they won't even let the states do it).  If the business is in the conspiracy to produce or accept fake documents, that is another matter.

Why should a business have to be tougher than a police officer would be in a routine traffic stop?
5076  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Fed, Monetary Policy, & the US Dollar on: October 01, 2010, 12:31:59 PM
"Are you saying that the 1099 reporting requirement includes a self-employed person buying gold?  Wouldn't th requirement be limited to business expenses?  Elsewise perforce food purchases would be included too, yes?"
Crafty, I am not at all an expert on it.  Your questions hint at why these types wanted it buried in a big bill and not to stand on its own merit or popularity.  They are taking what steps they can take to track the buys and sells of gold for the purpose of increasing capital gains collections.  Also to increase tax avoidance prosecutions which is how you improve compliance with an unjust, invasive law.  As Sowell implies, they would also like to dissuade you away from gold and into dollar assets where they exert more control. The food example is also true but less likely to be purchased with the intent of making a gain.  Still they might want to track your purchases of everything to try to determine how much gold you might be hiding, buying or selling.

If they can track your gold purchases, then they can later pass an asset tax (and then increase it like my property taxes until it grows like mine to exceed the cost of food, clothing and shelter for my family) or they could demand to see your gold to prove you did not sell at a gain, or they could presume it sold, impute the gain and assess the tax until you prove otherwise, as IRS logic runs in other areas of tax policy.

I remember Obama's promise for transparency but I don't recall when this issue was debated on C-SPAN.
5077  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Fed, Monetary Policy, & the US Dollar on: October 01, 2010, 10:55:15 AM
People buy gold with after tax money like I buy distressed real estate, with the thought if and when everything else goes to hell they will at least still own the gold that they bought and held and could sell barter or trade portions of the holding to acquire the essentials in life to protect, house and feed their family.  But in that situation, you don't really own your gold because you don't own the 'gain' on your gold.  Like gun laws, the government would like to track that and track you and in the event of a 'meltdown' they will be there to find you and tax, confiscate or jail you.

There is no gain in gold.  Gold is gold.  An ounce is an ounce.  It is the most stable of all commodities, sometimes called 'the gold standard'.  If the dollar collapses to almost nothing and you lose everything you own except for your gold which is still the same quantity and quality of gold that you bought previously with after tax money and held with no return, who besides a tyrannical totalitarian leftist would categorize that experience to your family as a taxable gain??
5078  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Fed, Monetary Policy, & the US Dollar on: October 01, 2010, 10:39:54 AM
"Specifically what does the Obamacare law say about gold?"
Section 9006 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will amend the Internal Revenue Code to expand the scope of Form 1099. Currently, 1099 forms are used to track and report the miscellaneous income associated with services rendered by independent contractors or self-employed individuals.

Starting Jan. 1, 2012, Form 1099s will become a means of reporting to the Internal Revenue Service the purchases of all goods and services by small businesses and self-employed people that exceed $600 during a calendar year. Precious metals such as coins and bullion fall into this category and coin dealers have been among those most rankled by the change.

This provision, intended to mine what the IRS deems a vast reservoir of uncollected income tax, was included in the health care legislation ostensibly as a way to pay for it. The tax code tweak is expected to raise $17 billion over the next 10 years, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation.
5079  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Media Issues: Gallup mis-titles polls and big stories are lost on: October 01, 2010, 10:33:54 AM
In the August 14, 2009 poll, conservatives outnumbered liberals in virtually all of the fifty states, even in hotbeds of radicalism like Massachusetts and Vermont. What was the title of that poll? "Conservative Label Prevails in South." On February 3, 2010, Gallup repeated the poll. The results were the same (every state was more conservative than liberal), but what was the title of that poll? "Three Deep South States Are Most Conservative" (not something like "Conservatives Still Outnumber Liberals in Every State"). On August 2, 2010, Gallup tested the waters again. This time, there were more liberals than conservatives in one state, Rhode Island, leading Gallup to give this poll the reasonable title of "Wyoming, Mississippi, Utah Rank as Most Conservative States."
5080  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: October 01, 2010, 10:29:55 AM
We had quite a discussion a month or 2 ago about how impossible it will be for conservatives to win over the Hispanic vote.  Meanwhile, the Dems margin of winning that vote has shrunk from a 32 point margin to 13 in 2 months.
Barely half of Hispanics in September planned to vote Democratic

5081  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Fed, Monetary Policy, & the US Dollar on: October 01, 2010, 10:14:11 AM
A Thomas Sowell piece that covers gold and dollars.  This really is about Glibness and the ruling regime sneaking a clause into the heathcare legislation about government control of private gold ownership, but includes a good historical perspective.
Politics Versus Gold
By Thomas Sowell

One of the many slick tricks of the Obama administration was to insert a provision in the massive Obamacare legislation regulating people who sell gold. This had nothing to do with medical care but everything to do with sneaking in an extension of the government's power over gold, in a bill too big for most people to read.

Gold has long been a source of frustration for politicians who want to extend their power over the economy. First of all, the gold standard cramped their style because there is only so much money you can print when every dollar bill can be turned in to the government, to be exchanged for the equivalent amount of gold.

When the amount of money the government can print is limited by how much gold the government has, politicians cannot pay off a massive national debt by just printing more money and repaying the owners of government bonds with dollars that are cheaper than the dollars with which the bonds were bought. In other words, politicians cannot cheat people as easily.

That was just one of the ways that the gold standard cramped politicians' style-- and just one of the reasons they got rid of it. One of Franklin D. Roosevelt's first acts as president was to take the United States off the gold standard in 1933.

But, even with the gold standard gone, the ability of private individuals to buy gold reduces the ability of the government to steal the value of their money by printing more money.

Inflation is a quiet but effective way for the government to transfer resources from the people to itself, without raising taxes. A hundred dollar bill would buy less in 1998 than a $20 bill would buy in the 1960s. This means that anyone who kept his money in a safe over those years would have lost 80 percent of its value, because no safe can keep your money safe from politicians who control the printing presses.

That is why some people buy gold when they lose confidence in the government's managing of its money. Usually that is when inflation is either under way or looming on the horizon. When many people start transferring their wealth from dollars into gold, that restricts the ability of politicians to steal from them through inflation.

Even though there is currently very little inflation, purchases of gold have nevertheless skyrocketed. Ordinarily, most gold is bought for producing jewelry or for various industrial purposes, more so than as an investment. But, at times within the past two years, most gold has been bought by investors.

What that suggests is that increasing numbers of people don't trust this administration's economic policies, especially their huge and growing deficits, which add up to a record-breaking national debt.

When a national debt reaches an unsustainable amount, there is always a temptation to pay it off with inflated dollars. There is the same temptation when the Social Security system starts paying out more money to baby boom retirees than it is taking in from current workers.

Whether gold is a good investment for individuals, and whether the gold standard is the right system for a country, are much more complicated questions than can be answered here. But what is clear is that the Obama administration sees people's freedom to buy and sell gold as something that can limit what the government can do.

Indeed, freedom in general cramps the government's style. Those on the left may not be against freedom in general. But, at every turn, they find the freedoms granted by the Constitution of the United States hampering the left's agenda of imposing their superior wisdom and virtue on the rest of us.

The desire to restrain or control the buying and selling of gold is just one of the many signs of the inherent conflict between the freedom of the individual and the left's attempts to control our lives.

Sneaking a provision on gold purchases and sales into massive legislation that is supposedly about medical care is just one of the many cynical tricks used to circumvent the public's right to know how they are being governed. The Constitution begins, "We the people" but, to the left, both the people and the Constitution are just things to circumvent in order to carry out their agenda.
5082  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Nuclear Power: Fusion post on: October 01, 2010, 12:49:54 AM
Rarick posted: "The fusion process he describes does not release radiation, can put a reactor in the space of a Gas Station and make 100 Mw, if I am understanding this correctly."

My vision or prediction, consistent with that, is that something about the size of a personal backpack and probably fusion-based will someday carry all the energy one person might need for transportation, heating, air conditioning etc. anywhere/everywhere you go - making the memory of fossil fuel use look silly.

I know they have some details to work out on it.
5083  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Nanotechnology: Solar efficiency gains on: October 01, 2010, 12:45:28 AM
Freki:  Great find!  I used to have that site bookmarked several computer crashes ago.

Rarickwrote: "The article claims a 12 fold increase. solar cells are about 15-20% efficient- call it about 200watts/m2 for the 1000 watts insolation that was tested and verified in the soutwest usa."

My guess is that this technology and others  will show that the potential for energy capture is far greater than we thought.  Also we are not all in the southwest.  The sun also lights and heats the earth in places like Seattle as well where I doubt the solar efficiency of current systems is anywhere near the 15-20% range.

Except to judge the credibility of the author, it doesn't matter to me whether the gain from one breakthrough is 10% or 10-fold.  The point is that good things are coming and government should not be paying you or mandating you to make a fifty year investment in a technology that constantly improving and obsolescing the old.  Only free choices can fairly settle the questions of if, when and how to commit to an investment of that scope.
5084  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Emergency Tips: Continuous Chest Compression CPR on: September 28, 2010, 10:28:14 PM
You never know when you will wish you were prepared for inevitable emergencies.

My daughter worked her first hour of her first job ever last weekend at the desk of a small tennis club and a man dropped to the ground with a heart attack, not breathing.  Lucky for her and the man, the club manager/ my friend, was there.  He dialed 911 handed the phone to her and headed out with a defibrillator I believe, while someone else had CPR started.

Backtracking here, a Marine friend of mine emailed this video a few weeks ago saying it is the newest, best and simplest way to perform CPR. Please watch and forward/share.  (If someone here knows better, please post.) 
5085  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Emergency Tips: face mask on: September 28, 2010, 10:00:13 PM
Very funny, and practical. 

For those of us who don't have a quick release bra handy, I keep a very heavy duty ($30-40) face mask hanging within reach of the bed.  In a fire, they say it is the smoke that gets you before the flames.  If it works, I should be able to put it on in a matter of seconds of the first smoke alarm going off and maybe have a chance at rescuing a family member and/or getting myself out.  I also recommend having a baseball bat or 2x4 etc. by the escape window for every family member in case the window doesn't open easily to smash your way out the way a fireman would.

A fire in your home is slightly more likely than a nuclear meltdown, but they do make masks for biological/chemical warfare, also for carbon monoxide protection:
5086  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Venezuela vote on: September 28, 2010, 01:17:39 PM
Rough translation ( of one paragraph of Denny's last Spanish post:

Opposition wins same number of votes to Chavez party but they win 37 fewer seats.  Why is that? No answer, attack the questioner.
More than a question, was "the" question:  "The difference among the votes obtained by its party, the Socialist Party United of Venezuela (PSUV), and the ones that has achieved the Table of the Democratic Unit (MUD) is of barely 100,000.  And it is difficult to understand that having obtained almost the same number of votes, the opposition have reached 37 seats less than the PSUV [finally would be from 33 the difference].  I ask me if would be being confirmed the thesis of the opposition that maintains that the redistribution of the electoral circuits was done with the intention of favoring to the PSUV or that perhaps the vote of the PSUV is worth for two. ..”.  What responded him Chávez?  Nothing.  Did not it know that to respond him and, faithful to its style, attacked against her. 
5087  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Politics of Health Care: Richmond VA Times Editorial on: September 28, 2010, 09:10:21 AM
Obama says he doesn't explain it well enough which means of course that you unwashed out there are too stupid to understand that rule by the elite and handing your private decisions is going to be good for you...

HEALTH CARE: 'You Dummies'

Several months ago President Obama promised that Democrats would be proud to campaign on the new health care overhaul. With campaigns now peaking, the only Democrats who mention the law these days are the ones who voted against it. So supporters have decided to try a new approach: calling voters dimwits.

That's not how they're putting it, of course. Obama, for instance, says he faults himself "for not being able to make the case "more clearly to the country." Maybe if he spoke louder and used small words . . . .

Funny thing, though: The president said precisely the same thing nine months ago, during his State of the Union address, when health-care reform was still being debated: "This is a complex issue . . . .I take my share of the blame for not explaining it more clearly to the American people."

Wait a second. Received wisdom tells us Obama is the greatest orator since Ronald Reagan, if not Cicero. He's so eloquent he could talk the ticks off a dog. He's known for nine months that he needs to do a better job of selling the health care overhaul -- and he hasn't been able to do it. Did he suddenly get tongue-tied? What's the real problem here?

The problem is not that people just don't understand a complex law, or even that -- as a recent AP story spun it -- Obama "has yet to find the right wavelength for communicating information that's relatively straightforward." After all, congressional Democrats conceded they didn't understand what was in the bill, either. But that didn't keep them from voting for it.

The problem is that the law stinks. The critics' predictions -- it's going to raise health care costs, the deficit, taxes, and insurance premiums, make getting medical care more complex, and help fewer people than advertised -- are coming true already. Members of the public understand this all too well.

When someone says, "I'm sorry you took it the wrong way," the listener knows the speaker is not really apologizing -- he's calling the listener oversensitive. And when a politician says, "I'm sorry I didn't explain things clearly enough," the voters know he's not really admitting a personal failure -- he's calling them stupid.

Democrats and an often sympathetic media are trying, once again, to tell voters they would like a lousy law if only they had enough brains. No wonder the Republicans are poised on the verge of an electoral sweep.
5088  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Way Forward: A Pledge to America on: September 27, 2010, 04:21:51 PM
A document of values and direction was released last week by the Republicans trying to take Congress while I was out.  Does anyone here have any comments either on how good or effective this will be as a governing document or as to how good or effective it will be as a political tool in the election.

My impression so far is that it is mostly right on the money.  Some critics call it the same rhetoric but putting it to writing creates a record that incumbents can be held to and judged by.  Some say too long for independents or ordinary voters to choose to read, but still they will know that it is there - a series of promises and commitments have been made - in writing.

Also removes the label that the challengers are only running against someone or that voters are only voting against something.  Some of the commitments are rather specific:
5089  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Glibness: Self-evident truths, inalianable rights, endowed by our WHAT? on: September 27, 2010, 03:50:08 PM
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, endowed ?? with certain inalienable rights, Life and Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness."

FYI Mr. President, the original text went more like this:
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

Unfortunately the Declaration of Independence is inked and engrossed in parchment, not subject to amendment or line item rescission by a later executive.
5090  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Venezuela: Chavez fails to reach critical two-thirds majority on: September 27, 2010, 03:30:38 PM
Thank you Denny for firsthand accounts.  The whole Chavez story is very sad for the people.  I hope you will tell us what you think the U.S. can do to help; I assume it is nothing.  Here we seem to be headed down a similar road.  Now we have an uprising, the tea party, and maybe a shift in one body of congress.  After that I fear we will head further down the same road, what you call 21st century socialism, forced redistributionism and a dismantling of the freedoms and pillars that used to make this a great place.

Chavez fails to reach critical two-thirds majority in Venezuelan assembly
By Juan Forero
Washington Post Foreign Service
Monday, September 27, 2010; 10:51 AM

Voters in Venezuela have stopped President Hugo Chavez from obtaining the two-thirds majority the Socialist leader said he needed in the National Assembly to effortlessly pass what he calls critical reforms.

According to incomplete returns released Monday, Chavez's United Socialist Party on Sunday won at least 94 of 165 seats, while his most ardent foes took 60. The rest of the votes had either not been determined or went to a small leftist party...
5091  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Economics on: September 27, 2010, 10:57:47 AM
I should add to my previous, that if China can actually for once develop the very best technology for anything such as electric storage and propulsion, maybe we should copy and freely reproduce it here for less until they begin complying with international patent, trademark and copyright laws.
5092  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Economics: Friedman, China and electric cars on: September 27, 2010, 10:44:12 AM
"OK freemarketeers, analyze this [Tom Friedman/NY Times]:

To my thinking, Friedman is always answering the wrong question, in this case - what should we do next assuming we are also a centrally planned economy with no constitutional restriction on having the government participate in our private economy?

The electric car is an interesting idea, a partial solution at best to something.  Private transportation is only a part of oil use.  All-electric cars will address only a small part of private transportation needs.  For propulsion for small distances it has limitations, but also people look to their vehicle to supply heat and defrost capabilities, in some areas air conditioning is a requirement.  Go home, Tom Friedman, and try running your most efficient air conditioner or small furnace with a battery.

I am all for electric cars, supplied by the private sector and chosen by the consumer.  I could not possibly accomplish all my current transport needs however with one.  What Friedman of course is proposing is a mandate, not a choice, made by explicitly destroying our alternatives, namely tax the fuck out of gasoline until people will quit using it and buy into the preferred system.  Missing in his logic string besides the tromp on our freedoms is that the destruction of our current system of transport and livelihood would not likely leave us in an economic position to purchase in large numbers the overpriced, under-performing, more desirable alternative.

Comparing our security needs and decisions to a centrally planned dive into one element of technology innovation is a straw man argument.  Our technology investment is not in Afghanistan and we did not create all our security needs, our enemies helped with that.  In our economy the wars in 2 countries would be  barely more than a rounding error if those were our only wasteful and unproductive public policies.  If we want more investment in technology, our current system as I understand it provides that we get out of the way and let the private sector filled with free people making free choices do it.

Friedman has an often expressed envy of the totalitarians and rule by the elite though I'm sure he would keep our democratic system and just wish us to choose collectively more central planning and the government interventions by the elites that are obviously so preferable to him than economic freedoms and decentralized choices.

From this 3-time Pulitzer winner I ask, where is the data to support the premise that central planning with massive interventions is more efficient or that a dynamic and free economy?  Where is the data to support his contention that a free and unplanned economy cannot innovate fast enough on its own?  Absent from anything I have read by him and absent from our experience in a world of data.

FYI to Friedman, we ARE taxing gasoline - heavily.  Besides federal and state fuel taxes, the main tax on fuel is the regulation that  prevents it from being sufficiently produced domestically and competitively distributed. Meanwhile we are NOT upgrading our electrical capabilities to take on the transportation sector.  That is an area where public policy could actually have gotten ahead of the game, but didn't.  FYI further, electric cars are not necessarily the only or best alternative to gasoline and diesel fuels.  I would refer you to CNG (compressed natural gas) as a very real and plentiful domestic source, but still inferior to a gallon of gas in its energy content and transportability.

Mostly what I would say to Friedman is that a free people operating in free market will out-perform his central planned system.  We should go through every tax, regulation, employment law and spending item on the books and see what we can pare down until we unleash a level of creativity, expansion, innovation and production that will blow the lid off the Chinese, rule by the elite, system.
5093  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Issues in the American Creed (Constitutional Law and related matters) on: September 21, 2010, 10:17:22 AM
A postcard is protected by federal law if it sits in your mailbox and would require a search warrant if it sat on your kitchen counter and the authorities were not already in your kitchen, it seems to me.  Email boxes are password protected, an expectation of privacy at least at your end.  At work, the email account, the network and all the hardware may likely be the property of the employer - more like setting your postcard on someone else's counter.
5094  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.
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.
5095  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).
5096  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.
5097  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.
5098  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.
5099  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.
5100  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:

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.
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