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5051  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The congnitive dissonance of the left on: February 07, 2012, 10:17:52 AM
JDN answered the Obama question, are you better off than you would have been.  The emergency funding to avoid panic and collapse however was in the transition period with Bush, McCain, Obama, Geithner and Bernancke all in agreement. Hardly the policy direction difference that will determine the next election.
5052  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Nobel Lauriate Krugman sharply rebukes JDN: Things are NOT Okay! on: February 07, 2012, 10:08:37 AM
My first time putting Krugman in Political Economics instead of Cognitive Dissonance because he doesn't in this column get to the part of what he would do about it.  (More of the same - much more.)

Op-Ed Columnist
Things Are Not O.K.
Published: February 5, 2012

In a better world — specifically, a world with a better policy elite — a good jobs report would be cause for unalloyed celebration. In the world we actually inhabit, however, every silver lining comes with a cloud. Friday’s report was, in fact, much better than expected, and has made many people, myself included, more optimistic. But there’s a real danger that this optimism will be self-defeating, because it will encourage and empower the purge-and-liquidate crowd.

So, about that jobs report: it was genuinely good, certainly compared with the dreariness that has become the norm. Notably, for once falling unemployment was the real thing, reflecting growing availability of jobs rather than workers dropping out of the labor force, and hence out of the unemployment measure.

Furthermore, it’s not hard to see how this recovery could become self-sustaining. In particular, at this point America is seriously under-housed by historical standards, because we’ve built very few houses in the six years since the housing bubble popped. The main thing standing in the way of a housing bounce-back is a sharp fall in household formation — econospeak for lots of young adults living with their parents because they can’t afford to move out. Let enough Americans find jobs and get homes of their own, and housing, which got us into this slump, could start to power us out.

That said, our economy remains deeply depressed. As the Economic Policy Institute points out, we started 2012 with fewer workers employed than in January 2001 — zero growth after 11 years, even as the population, and therefore the number of jobs we needed, grew steadily. The institute estimates that even at January’s pace of job creation it would take us until 2019 to return to full employment.

And we should never forget that the persistence of high unemployment inflicts enormous, continuing damage on our economy and our society, even if the unemployment rate is gradually declining. Bear in mind, in particular, the fact that long-term unemployment — the percentage of workers who have been out of work for six months or more — remains at levels not seen since the Great Depression. And each month that this goes on means more Americans permanently alienated from the work force, more families exhausting their savings, and, not least, more of our fellow citizens losing hope.

So this encouraging employment report shouldn’t lead to any slackening in efforts to promote recovery. Full employment is still a distant dream — and that’s unacceptable. Policy makers should be doing everything they can to get us back to full employment as soon as possible.

Unfortunately, that’s not the way many people with influence on policy see it.

Very early in this slump — basically, as soon as the threat of complete financial collapse began to recede — a significant number of people within the policy community began demanding an early end to efforts to support the economy. Some of their demands focused on the fiscal side, with calls for immediate austerity despite low borrowing costs and high unemployment. But there have also been repeated demands that the Fed and its counterparts abroad tighten money and raise interest rates.

What’s the reasoning behind those demands? Well, it keeps changing. Sometimes it’s about the alleged risk of inflation: every uptick in consumer prices has been met with calls for tighter money now now now. And the inflation hawks at the Fed and elsewhere seem undeterred either by the way the predicted explosion of inflation keeps not happening, or by the disastrous results last April when the European Central Bank actually did raise rates, helping to set off the current European crisis.

But there’s also a sort of freestanding opposition to low interest rates, a sense that there’s something wrong with cheap money and easy credit even in a desperately weak economy. I think of this as the urge to purge, after Andrew Mellon, Herbert Hoover’s Treasury secretary, who urged him to let liquidation run its course, to “purge the rottenness” that he believed afflicted America.

And every time we get a bit of good news, the purge-and-liquidate types pop up, saying that it’s time to stop focusing on job creation.

Sure enough, no sooner were the new numbers out than James Bullard, the president of the St. Louis Fed, declared that the new numbers make further Fed action to promote growth unnecessary. And the sad truth is that the good jobs numbers have definitely made it less likely that the Fed will take the expansionary action it should.

So here’s what needs to be said about the latest numbers: yes, we’re doing a bit better, but no, things are not O.K. — not remotely O.K. This is still a terrible economy, and policy makers should be doing much more than they are to make it better.
5053  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Fairness Quiz for the President and his Policies on: February 07, 2012, 10:01:35 AM

A Fairness Quiz for the President
Is it fair that some of Mr. Obama's largest campaign contributors received federal loan guarantees?


President Obama has frequently justified his policies—and judged their outcomes—in terms of equity, justice and fairness. That raises an obvious question: How does our existing system—and his own policy record—stack up according to those criteria?

Is it fair that the richest 1% of Americans pay nearly 40% of all federal income taxes, and the richest 10% pay two-thirds of the tax?

Is it fair that the richest 10% of Americans shoulder a higher share of their country's income-tax burden than do the richest 10% in every other industrialized nation, including socialist Sweden?

Is it fair that American corporations pay the highest statutory corporate tax rate of all other industrialized nations but Japan, which cuts its rate on April 1?

Is it fair that President Obama sends his two daughters to elite private schools that are safer, better-run, and produce higher test scores than public schools in Washington, D.C.—but millions of other families across America are denied that free choice and forced to send their kids to rotten schools?

Is it fair that Americans who build a family business, hire workers, reinvest and save their money—paying a lifetime of federal, state and local taxes often climbing into the millions of dollars—must then pay an additional estate tax of 35% (and as much as 55% when the law changes next year) when they die, rather than passing that money onto their loved ones?

Is it fair that Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, former Democratic Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, former Ways and Means Chairman Charlie Rangel and other leading Democrats who preach tax fairness underpaid their own taxes?

Is it fair that after the first three years of Obamanomics, the poor are poorer, the poverty rate is rising, the middle class is losing income, and some 5.5 million fewer Americans have jobs today than in 2007?

Is it fair that roughly 88% of political contributions from supposedly impartial network television reporters, producers and other employees in 2008 went to Democrats?

Is it fair that the three counties with America's highest median family income just happen to be located in the Washington, D.C., metro area?

Is it fair that wind, solar and ethanol producers get billions of dollars of subsidies each year and pay virtually no taxes, while the oil and gas industry—which provides at least 10 times as much energy—pays tens of billions of dollars of taxes while the president complains that it is "subsidized"?

Is it fair that those who work full-time jobs (and sometimes more) to make ends meet have to pay taxes to support up to 99 weeks of unemployment benefits for those who don't work?

Is it fair that those who took out responsible mortgages and pay them each month have to see their tax dollars used to subsidize those who acted recklessly, greedily and sometimes deceitfully in taking out mortgages they now can't afford to repay?

Is it fair that thousands of workers won't have jobs because the president sided with environmentalists and blocked the shovel-ready Keystone XL oil pipeline?

Is it fair that some of Mr. Obama's largest campaign contributors received federal loan guarantees on their investments in renewable energy projects that went bust?

Is it fair that federal employees receive benefits that are nearly 50% higher than those of private-sector workers whose taxes pay their salaries, according to the Congressional Budget Office?

Is it fair that soon almost half the federal budget will take income from young working people and redistribute it to old non-working people, even though those over age 65 are already among the wealthiest Americans?

Is it fair that in 27 states workers can be compelled to join a union in order to keep their jobs?

Is it fair that nearly four out of 10 American households now pay no federal income tax at all—a number that has risen every year under Mr. Obama?

Is it fair that Boeing, a private company, was threatened by a federal agency when it sought to add jobs in a right-to-work state rather than in a forced-union state?

Is it fair that our kids and grandkids and great-grandkids—who never voted for Mr. Obama—will have to pay off the $5 trillion of debt accumulated over the past four years, without any benefits to them?
5054  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Political Economics: Thomas Sowell on Minimum Wage Law on: February 07, 2012, 09:55:23 AM
This could go also in Presidential 2012 because Thomas Sowell launches into this as a rip on candidate Romney for an escalating minimum wage statement he made.  Republicans gave up this fight because fighting against minimum wage laws doesn't poll well.  Butur economy and our society suffers and indeing it to inflation makes the damage permanent.  The question should not be how much to pay someone before they develop any skills or positive work habits.  The question should be: who should decide?  The answer is employees and employers negotiating in a free markets, not government, state or federal.

February 7, 2012
A Defining Moment
By Thomas Sowell

Governor Mitt Romney's statement about not worrying about the poor has been treated as a gaffe in much of the media, and those in the Republican establishment who have been rushing toward endorsing his coronation as the GOP's nominee for president -- with 90 percent of the delegates still not yet chosen -- have been trying to sweep his statement under the rug.

But Romney's statement about not worrying about the poor -- because they "have a very ample safety net" -- was followed by a statement that was not just a slip of the tongue, and should be a defining moment in telling us about this man's qualifications as a conservative and, more important, as a potential President of the United States.

Mitt Romney has come out in support of indexing the minimum wage law, to have it rise automatically to keep pace with inflation. To many people, that would seem like a small thing that can be left for economists or statisticians to deal with.

But to people who call themselves conservatives, and aspire to public office, there is no excuse for not being aware of what a major social disaster the minimum wage law has been for the young, the poor and especially for young and poor blacks.

It is not written in the stars that young black males must have astronomical rates of unemployment. It is written implicitly in the minimum wage laws.

We have gotten so used to seeing unemployment rates of 30 or 40 percent for black teenage males that it might come as a shock to many people to learn that the unemployment rate for sixteen- and seventeen-year-old black males was just under 10 percent back in 1948. Moreover, it was slightly lower than the unemployment rate for white males of the same age.

How could this be?

The economic reason is quite plain. The inflation of the 1940s had pushed money wages for even unskilled, entry-level labor above the level specified in the minimum wage law passed ten years earlier. In other words, there was in practical effect no national minimum wage law in the late 1940s.

My first full-time job, as a black teenage high-school dropout in 1946, was as a lowly messenger delivering telegrams. But my starting pay was more than 50 percent above the level specified in the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938.

Liberals were of course appalled that the federal minimum wage law had lagged so far behind inflation -- and, in 1950, they began a series of escalations of the minimum wage level over the years.

It was in the wake of these escalations that black teenage unemployment rose to levels that were three or four times the level in 1948. Even in the most prosperous years of later times, the unemployment rate for black teenage males was some multiple of what it was even in the recession year of 1949. And now it was often double the unemployment rate for white males of the same ages.

This was not the first or the last time that liberals did something that made them feel good about themselves, while leaving havoc in their wake, especially among the poor whom they were supposedly helping.

For those for whom "racism" is the explanation of all racial differences, let me assure them, from personal experience, that there was not less racism in the 1940s.

For those who want to check out the statistics -- and I hope that would include Mitt Romney -- they can be found detailed on pages 42 to 45 of "Race and Economics" by Walter Williams.

Nor are such consequences of minimum wage laws peculiar to blacks or to the United States. In Western European countries whose social policies liberals consider more "advanced" than our own, including more generous minimum wage laws and other employer-mandated benefits, it has been common in even prosperous years for unemployment rates among young people to be 20 percent or higher.

The economic reason is not complicated. When you set minimum wage levels higher than many inexperienced young people are worth, they don't get hired. It is not rocket science.

Milton Friedman explained all this, half a century ago, in his popular little book for non-economists, "Capitalism and Freedom." So have many other people. If a presidential candidate who calls himself "conservative" has still not heard of these facts, that simply shows that you can call yourself anything you want to.
5055  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Economics, the stock market , and other investment/savings strategies on: February 07, 2012, 09:42:40 AM
Crafty: JDN raises an interesting theoretical question of import here.

JDN: "Well it seems the financial markets are impressed. [by jobs report]...

I don't look at short term moves as matter of import.  Dow is lower now than when JDN wrote that - about where it began.  The headline sounded positive; the deeper analysis of it over the weekend wasn't.  Stocks across the global economy don't move on one reason only, contrary what headline writers say.

JDN:  Dow finishes at highest since 2008, Nasdaq at highest since 2000

Away from short term hysteria we move to peak and trough analysis.  Another way of saying this is that the Dow is still below levels of 4 years ago and the NASDAQ is still below levels of 12 years ago meaning net negative 'growth' over selected longer periods of time.

The Dow is NOT a measure of the US economy, it is an index of named companies operating globally.  NASDAQ also.  The growth rate in emerging markets is 3 times what it is in America or Europe and these companies are still free to participate in that.

When I ask friends in Dow companies like 3M how business is and they don't tell me about expanding opportunities in NYC or LA.  They are shipping safety equipment as fast as they can build it to the nuclear site in Japan and expanding their manufacturing capabilities in China.  Are you hearing something different?

The market correctly predicted 13 of the last 4 recessions.  Tell me what the market will do in the next 6 months and that is helpful information.  If you announced to the market that the government of 2009 Obamanomics will be reinstalled for the next 4+ years with Pelosi as Speaker writing more laws into healthcare and stricter CO2 bans with Al Franken casting the 60th vote in the Senate and Obama as multi-term President 'growing jobs' at this rate for as far as the eye can see, then tell me what the markets would do.   sad

Markets are up slightly since the crash because of previous over-correcting.  Is it really more complicated than that?
5056  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: February 06, 2012, 12:58:34 PM
All true, and his drivel almost makes sense (if you are Rip van Winckle), but...  Is the voter better off now than he or she was $5 trillion ago?  Can Obama run against a do-nothing congress when the do-nothing chamber is still led by his colleague Harry Reid of Pelosi-Reid-Obama fame.  Does the Obama agenda correct anything that is holding us back?  Will the local candidates even campaign with him in the vulnerable districts?

The news may say unemployment percentages are down, but millions leaving the workforce is a force that can't be ignored.  Fewer people pulling the wagon and more people riding on it is a very heavy, double-negative force that can't be papered over with words.

Romney may not be articulate in supply side economics, but he has enough specifics in his plan to actually turn things around if elected and if his proposals were to be enacted.  Also, he sounded quite persuasive to me the other day ridiculing the Obama campaign theme (I can't find the quote) -  a vision in failure reduced to telling us it would have been even worse without them. We can do better than that.

Weaknesses of Mitt or Newt aside, the contrast will be stark.  The excitement level in the black inner city where I frequent is zero.  If they show up they might pull the lever for him one more time, but not for anything historic or for any expectation of bettering themselves or their families. The white vote is admittedly lost for Barack.  The Jewish support is way down.  The Hispanic vote is conflicted.  The youth vote would have to be stupid with blinders on to think the current direction brings jobs to next year's college graduates.  He won't win the Catholic vote by 10 points again!  Best case for Obama IMO is to sound out moderate themes through November, paint his opponents as scary villains, hope for an uneventful economy and eek out some kind of close popular victory - just like Al Gore did in 2000.  wink

This is not the recovery of 1984; this is more like Jimmy Carter's 2nd or3rd term.  You and I might not be impressed with Romney, but the moderates and independents I know are drawing a collective sigh of relief to not have a fire breathing far right winger (like a Bachmann, for example) as their only real alternative to Pres. Obama.
Dick Armey, now President of Freedomworks, has it right (must be reading the forum).  If you are conservative and uninspired by the Presidential choices remaining as most conservatives are, then put your money and energies this year right now into winning the House and Senate where the bills will need to be written and passed.  Margins and victors in congress will be crucial to governing no matter who wins the Presidential race.
5057  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: February 06, 2012, 12:14:24 PM
Then I would head to the microfilm at the library before publishing a story implying that our host who had the rest of the facts correct was wrong.  If LAT was wrong in cover, then there is quite a difference between proving them right and proving they knew better.  We will see...
The NY Times has quite a history of putting out truth much later is very small print buried in a section called corrections that really could be its own major publication. Perhaps a mis-spelling should go in corrections, but correcting falsehoods should be in a size and location equal or greater to the original, unless they are content to leave a false impression in the minds of millions who read the original story.
In a different story of irresponsible reporting, our paper reported a tragic fire a few years ago killing multiple young college students in private housing at the university.  For the first few days the Red Star ran with every story they dig up to insinuate that the landlord must have had some negligence that led to the fire.  He was caught once doing his own gas piping, OMG! (Safe install of gas pipe is not rocket science for an experienced multiple building owner.)

But it turned out in investigation that the victims own friends killed their roommates through drunken passing out with cigarettes burning near flammables, but by then the story was old news and the real story was buried deep if covered at all, leaving roughly 99% of the readers with the false impression, as intended.  To inform is not their mission.  To fit the story into their agenda and to sell newspapers - that is what matters.
Back to Crafty's story:  In MN, it was the previous election where the minor party candidate for Senate rose to 15% of the vote that opened the door for one wrestler without a real party to win the Governor's office in a 3-way race the next time around.

Not covering the minor candidates leads to more of the same while polls keep showing people dissatisfied are with the choices.
5058  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Middle East: War, Peace, and SNAFU, TARFU, and FUBAR on: February 06, 2012, 11:39:38 AM
One problem with Obama's view is that is only accomplishment, killing bin Laden, would not have happened without the execution of the policies he opposed before he became President.

One problem with Ron Paul's view is that it matches the bin Laden / al Qaida view exactly.  Ron Paul's affinity to the founders never mentions Thomas Jefferson sending troops to re-open shipping lanes against the Barbary pirates.  That isn't much different than wanting the Gulf and Straits of Hormuz open for shipping.

One problem with the bin Laden view (former view?) is his use of selective clips from history.  I'm no scholar here either, but this is my understanding: The US helped Muslims resist and drive the Soviets out of Afghanistan, helped other Muslims in southern Asia out of Soviet domination, helped Arab Muslims in Kuwait get their nation back, helped defend Saudi in that same time frame - Desert Shield, helped Bosnians Muslims against the Serbs in 1990s and in Kosova.  Other examples of American projection of defensive force helping Muslims include WWI and WWII IIRC.

The war against Saddam was started by Saddam and the American forces were there to turn power back from a bloody dictator to Arab-Muslim people, not to take or rule the land.  The war against the Taliban was completely avoidable if they had chosen instead to hand over or enable the capture of the perpetrators of the attacks against us.

We were never in any of these places to kill or oppress Muslims or force them out of Islam or to take an inch of their land to call our own.  The only part they remember is the creation of modern Israel which was done by the UN.  Defending an ally against forces committed to destroy them is hardly an offensive position.  The expansion of Israeli borders was a defensive result of resisting the attacks against them, to hold the positions from where the attacks were launched, as I understand it.  Hardly imperialism by Israel either.

During all of bin Laden's adult lifetime the 'American Imperialists' could easily have toppled the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia at any moment and stolen the oil (or condo'd Mecca and built churches and synagogues) instead of being bullied and manipulated by OPEC, but we never did.  At the cost of thousands of American lives and hundreds of billions of dollars to establish consent of the governed in Iraq and Afghanistan, we still have only 50 states and pay market price for oil.

For that we apologize?  And blame ourselves??
5059  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: February 06, 2012, 10:46:11 AM
JDN,  Nice searching.  You might also try to find the first page election summary and see if that is where they had the percentages wrong.
5060  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: February 06, 2012, 01:04:08 AM
Crafty, taken from AfPak discussion: "At the moment, it looks to me that Baraq will win."

Polls will back you up on that today and the economy will likely improve slightly more by then.  Still I disagree.  For the last 7 months Republicans have b een shooting themselves more than exposing and attacking the President.  They also have been targeting the right wing, but the centrist seems to have won.  For the next 7 months the leader will mostly be targeting Obama and gradually the rest of the party will jump on board.  There is no enthusiasm on the right for Mitt over Newt or vice versa (low turnout), but there will be enthusiasm for Romney and Rubio turning out the incumbent. 
Funny line regarding Pres. Obama making the same political mistakes as Jimmy Carter:

 " I watched the “Meet the Press” roundtable this morning, and I was struck with the firestorm David Brooks set off by criticizing the Obama Administration’s moves against the Catholic Church... One of the things that turned evangelical voters against Jimmy Carter in 1980 (evangelicals had supported him strongly in 1976) were administration rules affecting the tax exempt status of private religious schools.  It got almost no attention from the New York Times, etc, but was a huge issue for religious voters in 1980, and was a lit fuse that blew up in churches across the country.  I’m amazed at how often Obama seems to imitate many of Carter’s political mistakes. It’s like he was in college or something smoking dope at the time and didn’t pay attention.  Oh, wait. . ."
 - Presidential biographer Steven Hayward writing at Powerline today.

5061  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: February 05, 2012, 10:45:52 PM
When I ran for US Congress for the 36th District of CA, the combined vote of the Libertarian Party (me) Green Party, and Peace & Freedom Party was 10%, well more than the margin between the Dem (Jane Harman) and Rec (Joan Milke Flores) yet Pravda on the Beach refused to report our votes, instead showing the Dem and Rep votes as constituting 100% of the vote.  Oh, and btw, POTB refused to mention us in its coverage of the debates during the race, even though both the Green candidate and I were very well received.

To not list at all what they consider to be minor candidates is an editorial choice - a pretty bad one if those votes were greater than the margin of victory.  To take two scores that total 90% of the vote and say it was 100% is dishonest.  Shame on them.
5062  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Middle East: War, Peace, and SNAFU, TARFU, and FUBAR on: February 05, 2012, 11:53:38 AM
"Mort thinks OBama miscalculated.  Perhaps.  I am not so sure.  Au contraire, I think Obama is quite content with  democracies controlled by Fundamentalist Islamists in the Middle East.   Indeed WHAT evidence do we have that he would be the least bit disturbed by this?"

CCP, you are thinking in terms of security risk to the US, Israel and rest of the world.  He is thinking in terms of his own approval rate on the 'Arab street'.  Completely different concerns.
5063  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Media Issues: LA Times putting lipstick on a pig economy on: February 05, 2012, 11:41:03 AM
"Doug, why criticize the LA Times? " (from Political Economics)

I carry deep seated anger toward our own local Star and Sickle and it surfaces its ugly head when I read falsehoods put out by the government and repeated without scrutiny by other sycophant, agenda driven press.

Sorry for the outburst but there weren't 200k net real jobs created, there were 200k statistically adjusted jobs listed on bureaucratic paper at taxpayer expense.  Everyone else is doing it too is not a defense;  the LA Times was the one quoted.  My wrath is aimed at them not you, but curious, JDN, did you really not know the rest of the story - posted below?

The pattern I see them use is to report a news story falsely to create a different story such as that the economy is slowly getting a little better when it isn't and then poll on that story and manufacture a new news story based on their own poll saying that the majority or some other large number think the economy is getting a little better - in this case, or the rich have too much as another example.  Like clockwork I will show you the second half of that soon.

The LA Times is not alone in it, but if they want to deceive for a living or limit their market for biased, sloppy agenda driven reporting to only half the market then I will enjoy my liberty in pointing out their own eroding market and market share.

You may be right in your 10 year figure but the WSJ did not use to be No.1 and the LA Times while staking out a slant similar to MSNBC is moving the other direction. 

I resent having to go to outside of mainstream sources to find truth, accuracy or critical thinking.  I don't mind the trouble personally, it was pretty easy to find the rest of the BLS data, but am saddened and harmed  by the fact that I share a Republic with people who are largely informed with a storyline from what Crafty so aptly calls the Pravdas.

The real Pravda.Ru probably digs deeper into its reporting than those we accuse here of being state run presses.
Beneath the headlines and not in the LA Times, not even worthy of footnoting while repeating government manufactured drivel is how they got to that number: "Between December 2011 and January 2012, the number of Americans "not in the labor force" increased by  1.2 million." That would be another steep drop below what is shown in this chart.  See if this chart shows the employment situation improving in the 6 years since Sen Barack Obama and the Democrats took over congress first and then the executive branch:

Unreported in the LA Times is a) any information from the chart and b) any analysis as to why the sharpest downward turn occurred.

If they will lie in words and lie by omission, they can take back a little criticism.  "We...suffer from a deplorable lack of curiosity' is what Capt von Trapp said back to the Nazis when everyone already knew what the other was doing and didn't need to ask.
5064  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: February 04, 2012, 12:52:24 PM
"Coumo will be the Democratic Presidential pick in 2016 (if not Hillary)."

You may be right.  If not Hickenlooper. )

I was thinking the Democrat bench was rather thin, but they will have a nominee.  If any one of them had any cojones, they would run now.
5065  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: February 04, 2012, 12:43:41 PM
"Well it seems the financial markets are impressed."

Nothing boosts productivity and profits in a stalled economy like existing companies (DOW, S&P etc) employing fewer workers. 

If the LA Times is reporting actual job lasses as adjusted job gains because of BLS scoring, that sounds more like a media issue (deplorable lack of curiosity to go deeper than a flawed government report) and a problem with another government agency program.

In better economic news, fewer people are buying that line - the revenues and subscription base of the LA Times is still declining while the WSJ is now number one in the nation.   smiley
5066  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics - This economy still has the brakes on on: February 04, 2012, 12:21:11 PM
"Implied Unemployment Rate Rises To 11.5%, Spread To Propaganda Number Surges To 30 Year High"

That number I think matches more closely with what people are experiencing.  Remember that when no one seems to be hiring, even many of the fully employed have lost the economic freedom to quit work that is unpleasant or unchallenging/unfulfilling and make a good career move to something more rewarding.

If you are willing and able and not holding a job or earning a full time income, then you are unemployed at some level no matter where you have applied or how long that has been the case.  It is very difficult to measure accurately.  Passing around resumes or turning in applications to companies either not hiring or not hiring you as an exercise to get unemployment compensation is not the only measure or best measure of economic health or sickness.

If Republicans wanted to run up the bad statistics (with this same real economy) on Pres. Obama they should have opened up and extended unemployment benefits for all at least through Nov 6 2012.  Then you would not see the exodus from the labor force.

Economic growth is a better indicator IMO of economic health than unemployment.  (Growth less than 3.1% is considered moving backwards and we are.)  People also leave the employed and unemployed rolls to become entrepreneurs.  How much you earn is more important than whether you are securely working for someone else.  Our entrepreneurial-based economy has the PAUSE button stuck on.

If you are unemployed right now, remember that the new tax on the so-called wealthy (someone other than you) is causing your next potential employer to re-consider whether to expand his or her business.  Just having the idea seriously on the table causes uncertainty, inaction and delays with business expansions. The us vs. them game is really just us trying to work in a fully integrated economy.  You can't take the profits or take the incentives out of business and still grow jobs and grow worker paychecks.  Employers will pay you more when the economy is loaded with opportunities for you to leave and be more valuable elsewhere. Insanity is to not learn that after all we've been through.
5067  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cognitive Dissonance Glibness - Jesus said to be reconsidering his endorsement on: February 04, 2012, 11:12:42 AM
A Christian President who has joined no Washington church other than his own now claims Jesus Christ to be one of his followers(?)  Taken to task by Peter Wehner at Commentary Magazine (excerpt):

In the same speech in which he quoted Lewis [‘Christianity has not, and does not profess to have a detailed political program. It is meant for all men at all times, and the particular program which suited one place or time would not suit another.’], Obama also said this:

    "And when I talk about shared responsibility, it’s because I genuinely believe that in a time when many folks are struggling, at a time when we have enormous deficits, it’s hard for me to ask seniors on a fixed income, or young people with student loans, or middle-class families who can barely pay the bills to shoulder the burden alone. And I think to myself, if I’m willing to give something up as somebody who’s been extraordinarily blessed, and give up some of the tax breaks that I enjoy, I actually think that’s going to make economic sense. But for me as a Christian, it also coincides with Jesus’s teaching that “for unto whom much is given, much shall be required.” It mirrors the Islamic belief that those who’ve been blessed have an obligation to use those blessings to help others, or the Jewish doctrine of moderation and consideration for others."

For Obama to move from the Biblical injunction that “for unto whom much is given, much shall be required” to higher marginal tax rates on those making $250,000 or more is laughable theology. Why draw the line at $250,000? Why not draw it at $125,000? Or $500,000? And why doesn’t Obama, in the name of Jesus, propose increasing the highest marginal tax rates to 90 percent? In fact, why doesn’t he endorse a plan for the government to take over people’s property and their life savings and distribute it to the poor under the banner of “for unto whom much is given, much shall be required”? Why doesn’t he propose a plan to take money from Americans making $25,000 a year in order to send it to people in Africa making a dollar a day? And why doesn’t St. Barack, in order to set an example for us all, commit that his net worth will never exceed $1 million? Or perhaps the argument being made by the president is that if we read the book of Acts carefully enough, we’ll find that God’s preferred tax rate just happens to be the one championed by Obama.

My point in this exercise is to illustrate what a ludicrous dart game Obama is playing. But it’s actually worse than that. What the president is doing is using the Scriptures to advance a transparently partisan political agenda, and he did so in a setting where past presidents have traditionally stayed away from such stunts.

To be clear: I believe, and have long argued, that people’s faith should help shape their political ethics. But I have also written that Scripture does not provide a governing blueprint and that, while whether the top marginal tax rate should be 70 percent, 40 percent, or 28 percent is a serious public policy issue, neither the New Testament nor the Hebrew Bible sheds light on the matter. The Christian ethicist Paul Ramsey put it best when he said, “Identification of Christian social ethics with specific partisan proposals that clearly are not the only ones that may be characterized as Christian and as morally acceptable comes close to the original New Testament meaning of heresy.”

In the vast majority of cases, what we are talking about are prudential judgments about competing priorities, and we need to approach them with humility and open minds. No president, even Barack Obama, should not pretend his tax policies have been chiseled on stone tablets delivered to him on Mt. Sinai.

It’s no secret that Obama, in order to win re-election, is attempting to divide us by class. But that, apparently, is too restrictive a category for Obama. Now he wants to divide us based on faith, portraying his position on taxes as consistent with the teaching and spirit of Jesus and those who oppose his agenda as being anti-Christian (as well as anti-Muslim and anti-Jewish).
5068  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness: Assault on the Catholic Faith on: February 04, 2012, 09:50:59 AM
Curious, do people think you have to be Catholic to be offended by the Obama administration assault on the religious liberty if it is not your own?  I hope not.
5069  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Forbes magazine: What If Barack Obama And Paul Krugman Ran A Business? on: February 03, 2012, 12:12:04 PM

A little bit facetious but so is the idea presented in the title that (either of) these two ideologues would ever let there ideas be tested in a competitive marketplace.

Spoiling the ending for you:

"Putting workers before profit, it turns out, leaves you with neither."
5070  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cognitive dissonance of the left: One Sane Liberal - Ed Koch on: February 03, 2012, 12:03:48 PM
Make no mistake, Ed Koch is a liberal, but I enjoyed this piece by City Journal covering his career fairly well.  I admire certain decisions he made along the way to stand on principle sometimes to his own political detriment.
5071  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential, Obama employs Jesus? on: February 03, 2012, 11:59:02 AM
So many threads this could go in... Famous people reading the forum, but the Presidents advisers are taking JDN's reading of the (Christian) Savior supporting a tax and spend agenda as Gospel.  huh

Imagine the MEDIA uproar if this was President Michele Bachmann claiming to have the higher powers on her side.  (Yes she would do that, and no should would not get a pass on it!)

What church in Washington have the Obama's joined (NONE!) so that I might double check his interpretation of scripture.

The President also shamelessly copied JDN's approach to no comment on 'Thou Shalt Not Kill', 'Thou Shalt Not Covet...' or making a distinction between giving and TAKING: 'Thou Shalt not Steal'.

Follow up to Romney's gaffes and the conservative criticism e.g. Charles Krauthammer, Marc Levin) that Gov. Romney cannot explain conservatism, note that his general election opponent will not be heading into the fall contest gaffe-free either.
Here is a link for the quote and some commentary:
5072  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Government programs, spending, deficit: Try $4 Trillion for real deficit on: February 02, 2012, 02:12:21 PM

 Rasmussen: Deficit Closer to $4 Trillion for 2012

Wednesday, 01 Feb 2012 11:33 AM

Pollster and political analyst Scott Rasmussen says the U.S. is in the middle of a worsening fiscal crisis and the federal office charged with estimating the country's debt has missed the mark by trillions.

Rasmussen, of Rasmussen Reports, released this statemen today following yesterday's Congressional Budget Office report on the nation's debt:

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) yesterday reported that the federal budget deficit is projected to reach $1.1 trillion in 2012. That number is troubling enough but the reality is much worse. The United States will actually go about $4 trillion further in debt during the year.

The difference comes from the fact that government accounting procedures simply ignores the cost of benefits being promised for future Social Security and Medicare recipients. While precise estimates vary as to how much these promises cost, they are in the range of $3 trillion annually. It is important to note that the CBO is not to blame for this accounting gimmick. That agency typically does a sound job of operating within the ground rules established by Congress. Unfortunately, the rules often make little sense.

As former CBO Director Douglas Holtz-Eakin explained to Scott Rasmussen, “The debt from the past is a problem, but the future potential debt is a crisis.”
5073  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Way Forward for the American Creed, aka Marco Rubio on: February 02, 2012, 12:22:21 PM
"As I said in a speech at the end of last year, we have never been a nation of haves and have nots. We have always been a nation of haves and soon to haves, a people who have made it and people who believe that given the chance they will make it too.  And if we lose that, we lose the essence of what’s made us great in terms of economics."
5074  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential: Romney Gaffe #2 on: February 02, 2012, 12:13:40 PM
Earlier he said clumsily, I like to be able to fire my heath care provider.  I think the correct word was 'choose'.

Yesterday he said he is not focused on the poor or on the rich.

What is missing is the full explanation of how things work.  It is an integrative economy.  We shrink the ranks of the poor with 'income mobility'.  We may not worry abut the rich but we should value the essential role they play and grow their ranks and strength with ... 'income mobility'.

Some Americans are pulling the wagon; some are riding in it  As CCP has pointed out, that ratio has become roughly 50-50.  The best way to support the needs of the truly needy is to give our best pullers reason to pull even harder while enticing those riding who should be pulling to do so.
5075  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Fascism: (Anyone wanna buy a 100w incandescant light bulb?) on: February 02, 2012, 11:00:01 AM
CCP, Andrew,  In my opinion, the Obama opponent will not need to pull against the economy nor will your inner thoughts on that do any good - or harm.  The laws of economics are somewhat predictable, like laws of gravity.

We won't have an optimized economy while we have artificially high energy prices, an amazingly over-bloated regulatory scheme (mandating mercury in light bulbs?), marginal tax rates more than double what they need to be, or with the bureaucratic sector chewing up 40-50% of our productive resources.

A song and a dance even under Greek columns won't  change the underlying fundamentals.

If the growth rate is 2.5% in November 2012, you can be sure that it should be about double that at that point in a recovery.  If the unemployment rate dips under 8% (or U6 under 15%) you can be sure that it should be about half of that. 

You will still need to execute a successful national campaign that involves persuasion in the face of obfuscation, no matter what the most recent headlines will say come November.
5076  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: The Power of Word on: January 31, 2012, 11:38:49 AM
"Where does the bible say no yachts?"

I thought the yacht was the centerpiece of one of the Bible's most famous stories.  You don't protect very many loved ones safely at sea in a dinghy.

"...but the excess.... The millions, the giant houses, yachts, material things, etc. are frowned upon..."

How can anyone devout buy a luxury classic recreational motorcycle and take a non-essential cruise through the mountains when there still are Americans in Alaska without air conditioning?

Regarding the millions, the yachts, etc:  a) There is also a clause about not coveting thy neighbor's house, and b) I am not aware of any provision in the New Testament saying the newer document shall supersedes any conflict that may arise with the 'Old Testament'.

"Millions" (plural) mean $2 million and up?  Is that alone enough to be financially secure for you and your family for the rest of your lives should something unexpected occur??  The answer is NO, not necessarily, and NO it is not determined by your judgment or the government's judgment or your neighbor's judgment as to what constitutes enough financial resources to fend off the future misfortunes and expenses that you may want to guard against.  Same goes for rightsizing our homes.

Crafty's point nicely covers the distinction between giving and taking.

All that about religion allegedly backing a political movement (when it doesn't) and no comment or excuse about the same political movement sanctioning the kill of innocent human life for convenience reasons in the name of 'personal freedom'. Scripture only used when convenient?
5077  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: The Power of Word on: January 30, 2012, 04:08:43 PM
"(Jesus) suggested giving all your money to the poor. Further Jesus says "it is very difficult for a rich man to go to heaven" implying that capitalism is NOT the way to heaven. Jesus had no respect for those who sought material things."

You will find some mixed messages on economics in the Bible if you dig deep enough. Quoting a different verse does not make the first one go away. Giving "all" seems a bit impractical as you would likely starve to death and therefore not give much.  Providing for your own family first is not IMO seeking "material things".  All Christian Bibles I have owned contained both testaments unless labeled 'New Testament' instead of 'Holy Bible'.

Beyond economics, Judeo-Christian liberals will have difficulty quoting where in the Thou Shalt Nots God distinguishes between killing off your young in the various trimesters, killing for gender selection or killing off black babies at 3 times the rate of white babies as is the effect of their policies in the U.S. today. 
5078  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Newt Gingrich on: January 30, 2012, 01:35:06 PM
Thanks CCP but I have only agreed to serve as veep for Crafty, if asked, in a brokered convention.  When they get a good look at my baggage and temperament, Newt's fidelity and focus might look very good.  wink
5079  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Pathological Science on: January 30, 2012, 01:14:12 PM
Those are some excellent posts today by BBG!  I am looking forward to going back and re-reading more closely and saving for reference material.

The earth warmed ever so slightly while CO2 levels reached 390 ppmv or 0.039% of earth's atmosphere.  Causation isn't proved, but what else could it be? The science is settled?  Not exactly.  A large number of other known, poorly understood variables have been nicely identified and posted.

Chuck answered honestly that he didn't know and neither does anyone else, but I am still waiting for the right answer from anyone to my 2-part question - what is the rate of warming and what part of that is directly attributable to the rise in CO2 from human fossil fuel use? (Show your work.) Also if ever answered, what is the margin of scientific error and what then is the change in the global warming rate for each significant political policy initiative as they come up.  For example, the Keystone pipeline was blocked for AGW reasons.  The US will instead buy and ship that oil in from further away while Canada will sell and ship that oil to Asia.  We need to recalculate the new global warming rate taking that important new victory for Robert Redford, Al Gore and 'planetary concerns' into consideration.  They fought and they fought for it and they won.  We lost jobs, we lost easy access to a reliable and abundant source of demanded energy.  We lost a cost advantage for American businesses and consumers and a corresponding enrichment to our neighbor, friend and ally to the north.  So what exactly did we gain in the reduced rate of warming?

Any honest answer to that will lead the reader to why we call it pathological science.
5080  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Newt Gingrich on: January 30, 2012, 12:48:48 PM
Thinking out loud, I wonder if the collapse of Newt in the polls after the budget stand off in the 90's led some Republicans to come up with the compassionate conservative theory which W embraced.   Perhaps some repub strategists concluded too heavy on the strict conservative path may lose the independents.

I am still not sure which way to go.  However I do get the idea that compromise cannot be an answer since there really is no compromise with liberals.  They will chip away till forever.

OTOH I am not convinced that strict ideology will win out either.  I just don't know.  I'm afraid Mitt doesn't either.

Agree.  Also Al Gore was considered a harmless centrist at that point so conservatism was thought to need tempering.  2012 allows more opportunity and more need for a clear distinction between the path we are on and some version of principled and consistent, common sense conservatism. 

Newt's problems in the 90s were complicated.  The ethics charges were largely BS but he left enough running room for his critics to make the smear effective.  On policy, he was NOT too hard line (IMO), but too unfocused.  Clinton took credit for their joint accomplishments and that lasted a decade.  Now Gingrich takes at least some credit back as he should.  Clinton's Presidency would have been nothing compared to what it was without the changeover of congress which was a national opportunity seized by one great politician - the good Newt.  Not the angry one or the unfocused one, which all come in the package.

We don't need compromise with liberals, but we need the right dosage of conservatism to be successfully sold to independents presented the choice.  We don't need a zero capital gains rate, but we need a reasonable one and a 'permanent' one.  We don't need single digit income tax rates on the richest (per Herman Cain) but we do need to show we are moving significantly away from wealth destruction policies.  We don't need pollution spewing, we need environmental gains locked in but with unnecessary and unwise regulations repealed.  We don't need to be the world's policeman, but we are the world's superpower so we need a clear explanation of what peace through strength means going forward.  We don't need to slash a trillion a year in spending (per Ron Paul) laying off government workers all at once to join the construction workers, we need a path forward that balances private sector growth, revenue growth and serious and specific spending restraint, but not the root canal type.

Newt knows all this, but lacks focus.  All those accomplishments (balanced budget, economic growth, a national election victory, etc.) but never locked in baseline budgeting or CBO reform while he moved on, but these turned out to be more crucial now than having formerly balanced budgets.

Ethics violations were largely bogus, yet he goes on to sell himself out to Freddie Mac.  He can't explain his work product or any reason a (psuedo)government employee should get a million a year for part time work undefined.  It makes him the candidate of a nationalized mortgage industry and slimey public-private-partnerships while he tries fight off others for being big government candidates or not pure in their principles.

He needed to pitch a no-hitter to overcome baggage.  He did that through scattered innings here and there but also gave up some grand slams.

The reason he took the Freddie Mac deal was because he needed the money.  They have the Tiffany's bill, then the Michelle Obama-like exotic vacation during a key point in the process.  Like the I-me Obama SOTU speech, I am seeing another it's-all-about-me candidate. 

Reagan for example never made you feel like the election was about him.  It was all about a country that he loved.
5081  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Housing/Mortgage/Real Estate on: January 29, 2012, 09:34:59 PM
"What other professions would those be? There is a serious lack of jobs out there."

Keystone pipeline.  Fracking.  Rare earth mineral mining.  Deep sea drilling.  More secretaries for Buffet? Here's an idea, repeal unnecessary and unhelpful regulations, make energy prices and property taxes globally competitive and stuff here.

Who knew that killing off all job creating investment would affect jobs?

When we get the policies right, jobs will return and so will housing. 
5082  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Outer Space issues on: January 29, 2012, 09:11:57 PM
I used to be among the few who cringed at the space program.  It is to me the epitome of public private partnerships.  It is the answer to the question we aren't supposed to ask: Since we have all this power over other people's money, what should we do with it? 

For the nation, we face a stagnant economy, fossilizing entrepreneurship, mounting deficits and debt, a constitutional, budget and political crisis over impending government heathcare, Arab Spring, Iran going nuke, Chavez offering to host, Iraq into civil war, Afpak! Burma, leadership crisis in N.K, possible war in the South China Sea...  and Newt says, as predicted here by GM: "Oh look, a shiny orbital mirror!"
5083  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Housing/Mortgage/Real Estate on: January 29, 2012, 08:52:37 PM
"there's no iron law that says that we can't have a strong economy with a weak housing sector.  We just never have had, before."

I believe that 99 weeks of unemployment slowed the jump of housing construction workers into other professions.  The car doesn't run full speed with major engine parts removed from the vehicle.
5084  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Clear-eyed deconstruction of inequality blather: James Q Wilson on: January 29, 2012, 08:42:36 PM
What country is the leader in correcting inequality unfairness??


Angry about inequality? Don’t blame the rich.

By James Q. Wilson, Published: January 26

There is no doubt that incomes are unequal in the United States — far more so than in most European nations. This fact is part of the impulse behind the Occupy Wall Street movement, whose members claim to represent the 99 percent of us against the wealthiest 1 percent. It has also sparked a major debate in the Republican presidential race, where former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney has come under fire for his tax rates and his career as the head of a private-equity firm.

And economic disparity was the recurring theme of President Obama’s State of the Union address on Tuesday. “We can either settle for a country where a shrinking number of people do really well, while a growing number of Americans barely get by,” the president warned, “or we can restore an economy where everyone gets a fair shot and everyone does their fair share.”

But the mere existence of income inequality tells us little about what, if anything, should be done about it. First, we must answer some key questions. Who constitutes the prosperous and the poor? Why has inequality increased? Does an unequal income distribution deny poor people the chance to buy what they want? And perhaps most important: How do Americans feel about inequality?

To answer these questions, it is not enough to take a snapshot of our incomes; we must instead have a motion picture of them and of how people move in and out of various income groups over time.

The “rich” in America are not a monolithic, unchanging class. A study by Thomas A. Garrett, economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, found that less than half of people in the top 1 percent in 1996 were still there in 2005. Such mobility is hardly surprising: A business school student, for instance, may have little money and high debts, but nine years later he or she could be earning a big Wall Street salary and bonus.

Mobility is not limited to the top-earning households. A study by economists at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis found that nearly half of the families in the lowest fifth of income earners in 2001 had moved up within six years. Over the same period, more than a third of those in the highest fifth of income-earners had moved down. Certainly, there are people such as Warren Buffett and Bill Gates who are ensconced in the top tier, but far more common are people who are rich for short periods.

And who are the rich? Affluent people, compared with poor ones, tend to have greater education and spouses who work full time. The past three decades have seen significant increases in real earnings for people with advanced degrees. The Bureau of Labor Statistics found that between 1979 and 2010, hourly wages for men and women with at least a college degree rose by 33 percent and 20 percent, respectively, while they fell for all people with less than a high school diploma — by 9 percent for women and 31 percent for men.

Also, households with two earners have seen their incomes rise. This trend is driven in part by women’s increasing workforce participation, which doubled from 1950 to 2005 and which began to place women in well-paid jobs by the early 1980s.

We could reduce income inequality by trying to curtail the financial returns of education and the number of women in the workforce — but who would want to do that?

The real income problem in this country is not a question of who is rich, but rather of who is poor. Among the bottom fifth of income earners, many people, especially men, stay there their whole lives. Low education and unwed motherhood only exacerbate poverty, which is particularly acute among racial minorities. Brookings Institution economist Scott Winshiphas argued that two-thirds of black children in America experience a level of poverty that only 6 percent of white children will ever see, calling it a “national tragedy.”

Making the poor more economically mobile has nothing to do with taxing the rich and everything to do with finding and implementing ways to encourage parental marriage, teach the poor marketable skills and induce them to join the legitimate workforce. It is easy to suppose that raising taxes on the rich would provide more money to help the poor. But the problem facing the poor is not too little money, but too few skills and opportunities to advance themselves.

Income inequality has increased in this country and in practically every European nation in recent decades. The best measure of that change is the Gini index, named after the Italian statistician Corrado Gini, who designed it in 1912. The index values vary between zero, when everyone has exactly the same income, and 1, when one person has all of the income and everybody else has none. In mid-1970s America, the index was 0.316, but it had reached 0.378 by the late 2000s. One of the few nations to see its Gini value fall was Greece, which went from 0.413 in the 1970s to 0.307 in the late 2000s. So Greece seems to be reducing income inequality — but with little to buy, riots in the streets and economic opportunity largely limited to those partaking in corruption, the nation is hardly a model for anyone’s economy.

Poverty in America is certainly a serious problem, but the plight of the poor has been moderated by advances in the economy. Between 1970 and 2010, the net worth of American households more than doubled, as did the number of television sets and air-conditioning units per home. In his book “The Poverty of the Poverty Rate,” Nicholas Eberstadt shows that over the past 30 or so years, the percentage of low-income children in the United States who are underweight has gone down, the share of low-income households lacking complete plumbing facilities has declined, and the area of their homes adequately heated has gone up. The fraction of poor households with a telephone, a television set and a clothes dryer has risen sharply.

In other words, the country has become more prosperous, as measured not by income but by consumption: In constant dollars, consumption by people in the lowest quintile rose by more than 40 percent over the past four decades.

Income as measured by the federal government is not a reliable indicator of well-being, but consumption is. Though poverty is a problem, it has become less of one.

Historically, Americans have had an unusual attitude toward income inequality. In 1985, political scientists Sidney Verba and Gary Orren published a book that compared how liberals in Sweden and in the United States viewed such inequality. By four or five to one, the Swedish liberals were more likely than the American ones to believe that it was important to give workers equal pay. The Swedes were three times more likely than the Americans to favor putting a top limit on incomes. (The Swedes get a lot of what they want: Their Gini index is 0.259, much lower than America’s.)

Sweden has maintained a low Gini index in part by having more progressive tax rates. If Americans wanted to follow the Swedish example, they could. But what is the morally fair way to determine tax rates — other than taxing everyone at the same rate? The case for progressive tax rates is far from settled; just read Kip Hagopian’s recent essay in Policy Review, which makes a powerful argument against progressive taxation because it fails to take into account aptitude and work effort.

American views about inequality have not changed much in the past quarter-century. In their 2009 book “Class War? What Americans Really Think About Economic Inequality,” political scientists Benjamin Page and Lawrence Jacobs report that big majorities, including poor people, agree that “it is ‘still possible’ to start out poor in this country, work hard, and become rich,” and reject the view that it is the government’s job to narrow the income gap. More recently, a December Gallup poll showed that 52 percent of Americans say inequality is “an acceptable part” of the nation’s economic system, compared with 45 percent who deemed it a “problem that needs to be fixed.” Similarly, 82 percent said economic growth is “extremely important” or “very important,” compared with 46 percent saying that reducing the gap between rich and poor is extremely or very important.

Suppose we tax the rich more heavily — who would get the money, and for what goals?

Reducing poverty, rather than inequality, is also a difficult task, but at least the end is clearer. One new strategy for helping the poor improve their condition is known as the “social impact bond,” which is being tested in Britain and has been endorsed by the Obama administration. Under this approach, private investors, including foundations, put up money to pay for a program or initiative to help low-income people get jobs, stay out of prison or remain in school, for example. A government agency evaluates the results. If the program is succeeding, the agency reimburses the investors; if not, they get no government money.

As Harvard economist Jeffrey Liebman has pointed out, for this system to work there must be careful measures of success and a reasonable chance for investors to make a profit. Massachusetts is ready to try such an effort. It may not be easy for the social impact bond model to work consistently, but it offers one big benefit: Instead of carping about who is rich, we would be trying to help people who are poor.
James Q. Wilson, a former professor at Harvard University and UCLA, is the Ronald Reagan professor of public policy at Pepperdine University.
5085  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Newt Gingrich opposed Reagan policies? The definitive response by Steven Hayward on: January 29, 2012, 08:34:25 PM
Fairly long, worthwhile read.  Steven Hayward wrote the book 'Age of Reagan'.  In a nushell, yes Newt opposed Reagan but not in a bad way.  This account gives great context.
5086  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Way Forward for the American Creed - Iron Lady on: January 27, 2012, 09:23:29 PM
My understanding from other accounts is that Thatcher is played perfectly, they just omit or downplay her politics.  But why would this woman be a famous figure or historic without her politics, such as stubborn advocacy for free enterprise and helping to bring down the Soviet Union?

I don't plan to go out of my way to see the movie though maybe would be inspired to learn more about her career and philosophy through books and other readings.
5087  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Newt Gingrich on: January 27, 2012, 09:09:11 PM
Scathing comments from Bob Dole:

I didn't like Bob Dole better than Gingrich, but these are first hand observations, more negative than necessary, that match closely what others have been saying.

Positive piece (IMO) on Newt and Supply side economics:
I love the idea of LOW capital gains tax rates, state and federal.  That said and in light of the uproar of Romney's and Buffet's tax rate on millions of 15%, does anyone still think it is/was a good POLITICAL idea for Newt and almost all other R candidates to take the capital gains rate to zero? 
5088  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: January 27, 2012, 11:09:04 AM
Regarding the WSJ editorial of Mitt muffing it, I will take (WSJ editorial page editor) Paul Gigot over either one of these guys any day.  Romney could read that column or this forum daily and save a lot of money on his overpriced Washington establishment advisers.

I did not see the debate again, but read lots of reactions.  Sounds like Santorum was strong and Mitt did well except for getting nailed to the wall on Romneycare by Santorum.  My read is that he bent his politics to fit the wishes of the most liberal state, is happy to take a more conservative line now but stuck with needing to reconcile the unreconcilable and just wishing the question would go away.  There is a difference between the state government imposing healthcare and the feds doing it, but not much.  WSJ and Crafty are right that he needs to drop the rich guilt and focus on selling economic freedom and policies that move us boldly in that direction.

Rick S. looking good probably hurts Newt whose best shot is a one on one Republican matchup against Romney.

I didn't catch what the first lady fluff question was.  It seems to me that line of thought hurts Newt.  Callista is sharp but both Marianne and Callista were 'home wreckers' before becoming Mrs. G.  I can forgive them but I don't admire them.

I have a burnout on this race because I can't fix either one of them.  More attention should start getting directed to influencing the agenda that will come out of the next congress.  It was Pelosi's gang that wrote 'Obamacare'.  Maybe it can be my conservative congressman and his allies who will write the tax and spending reform of 2013, if they win majoorities, the Presidency and can get their own thinking straight.

Santorum should play up his double digit loss in PA 2006 as a positive and a marker in time.  He offered voters a clear choice.  They went the other way.  This is what happened.  6, 7 or 8 trillion dollars of new debt later and millions of jobs lost and they get another shot at a clear choice.  This time they know more about where the other path (leftism) leads.
5089  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Newt Gingrich - Krauthammer defense? on: January 26, 2012, 12:47:59 PM
First it should be said that the ethics charges then were largely bogus.  Marc Levin was very strong on that and says he was there.

Krauthammer is saying he left in defeat instead of disgrace.  The so-called disgrace was two years earlier. 

But the defeat was at partly based on the cloud of these and other leadership issues that led to his 15% approval rate at the time.

There is both good and bad to be taken from that time.  Winning a national election (yes) in 1994, getting to a balanced budget, welfare reform, trade expansion and capital gains tax rate reductions on the large plus side.  Not bringing the public with you and not keeping the confidence and respect of the people around you were problems.  Also the end of baseline budgeting was a promise in the contract.  When was that fight and where was that focus? Winning that war then might have headed off a lot of what went wrong since.
5090  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cognitive dissonance: Chomsky on military funding, war criminals on: January 26, 2012, 12:27:15 PM
"guys, as much as I like to debate stuff, please keep this thread contained of all else, BUT formulated questions for the man."

I will copy and extend comments Chomsky quotes here and delete them out of the 'Chomsky' thread.
What hypocrisy?: Chomsky makes the argument that because he has received funding from the U.S. military, he has an even greater responsibility to criticize and resist its immoral actions.
Regarding the death of Osama bin Laden, Chomsky stated: "We might ask ourselves how we would be reacting if Iraqi commandos landed at George W. Bush's compound, assassinated him, and dumped his body in the Atlantic. Uncontroversially, his crimes vastly exceed bin Laden’s, and he is not a 'suspect' but uncontroversially the 'decider' who gave the orders to commit the 'supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole' (quoting the Nuremberg Tribunal) for which Nazi criminals were hanged: the hundreds of thousands of deaths, millions of refugees, destruction of much of the country, [and] the bitter sectarian conflict that has now spread to the rest of the region."
(Doug):Uncontroversially, Mr. Chomsky, the "deciders" to be assassinated or hanged unlike the Libyan war are many, including the current Vice President and Secretary of State as former members of the senate authorizing military destruction.  Obama could start by prosecuting his veep for authorization and then himself for continuing the war.  Guilty are not only George Bush but also 77 Senators, 296 House members and all 15 members of the UN Security Council at the time.

Not only are we are no better than bin Laden but that we are far worse, he says.  You folks go ahead and raise him to that status of visiting dignitary; I have no questions for him.  He is  an expert on linguistics employed at anesteemed university, MIT, I have no linguistic questions.  For the rest of it, I would like to see his views elevated with clarity to the ballot and DEFEATED.

War criminals around the world, by a unanimous 15-0 vote; Russia, China, France, U.S., U.K., plus Bulgaria, Cameroon, Guinea, Ireland, Mexico, Mauritius, Norway, Singapore and Syria all voted in favor of Resolution 1441, some will contend they had no idea the consequence would be a war already authorized by the US congress.

Seventy Seven War Criminals in the Senate alone: YEAs ---77
Allard (R-CO)
Allen (R-VA)
Baucus (D-MT)
Bayh (D-IN)
Bennett (R-UT)
Biden (D-DE)
Bond (R-MO)
Breaux (D-LA)
Brownback (R-KS)
Bunning (R-KY)
Burns (R-MT)
Campbell (R-CO)
Cantwell (D-WA)
Carnahan (D-MO)
Carper (D-DE)
Cleland (D-GA)
Clinton (D-NY)
Cochran (R-MS)
Collins (R-ME)
Craig (R-ID)
Crapo (R-ID)
Daschle (D-SD)
DeWine (R-OH)
Dodd (D-CT)
Domenici (R-NM)
Dorgan (D-ND)
Edwards (D-NC)
Ensign (R-NV)
Enzi (R-WY)
Feinstein (D-CA)
Fitzgerald (R-IL)
Frist (R-TN)
Gramm (R-TX)
Grassley (R-IA)
Gregg (R-NH)
Hagel (R-NE)
Harkin (D-IA)
Hatch (R-UT)
Helms (R-NC)
Hollings (D-SC)
Hutchinson (R-AR)
Hutchison (R-TX)
Inhofe (R-OK)
Johnson (D-SD)
Kerry (D-MA)
Kohl (D-WI)
Kyl (R-AZ)
Landrieu (D-LA)
Lieberman (D-CT)
Lincoln (D-AR)
Lott (R-MS)
Lugar (R-IN)
McCain (R-AZ)
McConnell (R-KY)
Miller (D-GA)
Murkowski (R-AK)
Nelson (D-FL)
Nelson (D-NE)
Nickles (R-OK)
Reid (D-NV)
Roberts (R-KS)
Rockefeller (D-WV)
Santorum (R-PA)
Schumer (D-NY)
Sessions (R-AL)
Shelby (R-AL)
Smith (R-NH)
Smith (R-OR)
Snowe (R-ME)
Specter (R-PA)
Stevens (R-AK)
Thomas (R-WY)
Thompson (R-TN)
Thurmond (R-SC)
Torricelli (D-NJ)
Voinovich (R-OH)
Warner (R-VA)

We might have to expand Guantanamo in order to criminalize our foreign policy differences.  OTOH, we would no longer be a sovereign nation with a say in it if his views had prevailed.
5091  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Way Forward for the American Creed: Mitch Daniels Response on: January 25, 2012, 09:43:27 AM
John Hinderacker describes Gov. Daniels as Tim Pawlenty without all the charisma, but he looked good on radio last night and these are good points IMO:

    "As Republicans our first concern is for those waiting tonight to begin or resume the climb up life’s ladder. We do not accept that ours will ever be a nation of haves and have nots; we must always be a nation of haves and soon to haves. …

    The extremism that stifles the development of homegrown energy, or cancels a perfectly safe pipeline that would employ tens of thousands, or jacks up consumer utility bills for no improvement in either human health or world temperature, is a pro-poverty policy. It must be replaced by a passionate pro-growth approach that breaks all ties and calls all close ones in favor of private sector jobs that restore opportunity for all and generate the public revenues to pay our bills.

    That means a dramatically simpler tax system of fewer loopholes and lower rates. A pause in the mindless piling on of expensive new regulations that devour dollars that otherwise could be used to hire somebody. It means maximizing on the new domestic energy technologies that are the best break our economy has gotten in years. …

    It’s not fair and it’s not true for the President to attack Republicans in Congress as obstacles on these questions. They and they alone have passed bills to reduce borrowing, reform entitlements, and encourage new job creation, only to be shot down nearly time and again by the President and his Democrat Senate allies. …

    No feature of the Obama Presidency has been sadder than its constant efforts to divide us, to curry favor with some Americans by castigating others. As in previous moments of national danger, we Americans are all in the same boat. If we drift, quarreling and paralyzed, over a Niagara of debt, we will all suffer, regardless of income, race, gender, or other category. If we fail to shift to a pro-jobs, pro-growth economic policy, there will never be enough public revenue to pay for our safety net, national security, or whatever size government we decide to have. …

    2012 must be the year we prove the doubters wrong. The year we strike out boldly not merely to avert national bankruptcy but to say to a new generation that America is still the world’s premier land of opportunity. Republicans will speak for those who believe in the dignity and capacity of the individual citizen; who believe that government is meant to serve the people rather than supervise them; who trust Americans enough to tell them the plain truth about the fix we are in, and to lay before them a specific, credible program of change big enough to meet the emergency we are facing."
5092  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: January 25, 2012, 09:38:41 AM
Very funny bigdog.  I 'watched' the speech and the response on the radio and tried to keep my moderate consumption rate consistent through all the ups and downs.  The hangover from this without alcohol is bad enough. 
5093  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness: State of the Union on: January 25, 2012, 09:24:22 AM
The state of the union was another laundry list of government based patchwork ideas from our Solyndra President (IMHO).  Then the canvas was cleansed with this for you to paint your own painting:

That Government should do for people only what they cannot do better by themselves, and no more.  - What huh

The federal government is in charge of teachers and K-12 education. He didn't say from which Article that came.  Last year I think it was police and firefighters are federal responsibilities.  As Bill Clinton used to say: "We can do more."  With a trillion plus a year deficit - really, we can do less.

He touted a union factory being open in Milwaukee - happens to be battleground Wisconsin, home of the Scott Walker recall contest.

He says we don't have to choose between energy and growing our economy.  Gas prices are up 83%!  I guess we did choose.  Gas prices would be far higher than that if the economy was healthy at this level of energy production.  But he says production is at record levels, meaning there is no problem there that he has to address.  And government inventing fracking so quit your whining about government being the problem.

He kept saying that congress should write and pass a bill with his agenda and he will sign it.  I suppose so. 
'This speech offered a vision of a profoundly technocratic and activist government, with its hands in every nook and cranny of the nation’s economic life—a government guiding particular business decisions and nudging individual choices through just the right mix of incentives and rules to reach just the right balance between fairness and growth while designing the perfect website for job retraining programs and producing exactly the proper number of “high-tech batteries.” The president described the government’s bailout of the Detroit automakers as a roaring success and then said “What’s happening in Detroit can happen in other industries.  It can happen in Cleveland and Pittsburgh and Raleigh.” If he thinks that all the tasks he laid out for government are things that people “cannot do better by themselves” then he must have a very high opinion of how well government can do things, or a very low opinion of how well people can do things by themselves, or (most plausibly) both.'
Two words hardly mentioned in Barack Obama’s 65-minute State of the Union address to Congress: freedom and liberty. President Obama’s fourth and possibly last State of the Union speech was long on big government proposals, but short on the principles that have made America the world’s greatest power. His lecturing tone exuded arrogance, and he failed to present a coherent vision for getting the United States back on its feet after three years of economic decline. It was heavy on class-war rhetoric, punitive taxation, and frequent references to the Left-wing mantra of “fairness”, hardly likely to instil confidence in a battered business community that is the lifeblood of the American economy.

Above all, he remains in denial over the levels of federal debt that threaten the country's long-term prosperity. This was not a speech that was serious about the biggest budget deficits since World War Two. There was no sense at all that America is a superpower on a precipice, sinking in a sea of debt that threatens to undermine America’s power to project global leadership  for generations to come. In fact, his interventionist proposals will only make matters worse.

From new federally funded infrastructure projects to increasing regulations on financial institutions, President Obama remains wedded to big government – an approach rejected by a clear majority of Americans, who view it as a millstone around their necks. As Gallup’s polling has found, nearly two thirds of Americans see big government as "the biggest threat" to their country.

This should have been a serious speech addressing the economic problems facing the United States. Instead it was a laundry list of half-baked proposals designed to appease the Left. The president should have been talking about reining in spending, lowering taxes, and fostering greater economic freedom, but he opted for policies that will speed America’s decline, not reverse it.

(Gardiner goes on with a great excerpt to compare the inspiration that Reagan offered at the same point in his Presidency - at the link.)
Text and Video State of the Union:

Text and Video of Mitch Daniels Response:
5094  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Glibness on Solyndra: Greatest Moments in Past SOTU Speeches on: January 25, 2012, 01:39:21 AM
"You can see the results of last year's investments in clean energy"..."A California company that will put a thousand people to work making solar panels."  - President Obama, State of the Union, January 27, 2010

$535 million for a thousand jobs?

Who was involved?

Are you better off now than you were five trillion dollars ago?
5095  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Newt Gingrich on: January 24, 2012, 09:21:03 PM
"So Doug are you for Newt at this point?"

I find myself wishing Mitt would get his act together rather than pulling for Newt or Rick S, even though I am probably to the right of all 3 of them.  If Newt is the nominee, I will be 100% behind him.
Latest Gallup has Obama over Romney and Gingrich by the same margin, 50-48.  That is quite a move for Newt.  I think South Carolina was Newt's peak, but we will see.
I look forward to seeing which candidate truly answers the speech going on as I write.  The President has set just tossed a slow hanging curve ball over the heart of the plate for the former Speaker to hit out of the park. (Here he is, throwing his pitch - well not quite over the plate:
5096  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Newt Gingrich on: January 24, 2012, 11:49:39 AM
"the impact he could have down ticket."

I also have expressed that fear, yet there seems to be a tendency of the voters to choose divided government.  If they are about to reelect Pres. Obama then maybe they will give him an R Senate and House as with Pres. Clinton.  The ability to stop all new big government initiatives still leaves us in a train headed off a cliff from my point of view.

If Romney wins as a weak or compromising Republican with a let's-see-how-it-goes agenda and a razor thin majority in the House and Senate, nothing bold will be enacted or repealed. 

Republicans need a clear agenda and a clear up or down vote on it.  Either the electorate will be sold or it won't.
5097  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Fed of the 2000s, asleep with its foot on the gas pedal on: January 23, 2012, 12:36:56 PM

January 23, 2012
Why the Fed Slept
By Robert Samuelson  Newsweek

WASHINGTON -- The recent release of the 2006 transcripts of the Federal Reserve's main policy-making body stimulated a small media frenzy. "Little Alarm Shown at Fed at Dawn of Housing Bust," headlined The Wall Street Journal. The Washington Post agreed: "As financial crisis brewed, Fed appeared unconcerned." The New York Times echoed: "Inside the Fed in '06: Coming Crisis, and Banter."

Comments from members of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) now seem misguided. The first 2006 meeting was the last for retiring Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan. Janet Yellen -- then president of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco and now Fed vice chair -- said "the situation you're handing off to your successor is a lot like a tennis racket with a gigantic sweet spot." Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner -- then head of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York -- called Greenspan "terrific" and suggested his already exalted reputation might grow even more. There was no sense of a gathering crisis.

All true, but it begs the central question: why? The FOMC members weren't stupid, lazy or uninformed. They could draw on a massive staff of economists for analysis. And yet, they were clueless.

It wasn't that they didn't see the housing boom or recognize that it was ending. At 2006's first meeting, a senior Fed economist noted "that we are reaching an inflection point in the housing boom. The bigger question now is whether we will experience (a) gradual cooling ... or a more pronounced downturn."

At that same meeting, Fed Governor Susan Bies warned that mortgage lending standards had become dangerously lax. She explained that monthly payments were skyrocketing on mortgages with adjustable interest rates. She worried that many borrowers couldn't make the higher payments. The flagging housing boom concerned many Fed officials.

But they -- and most private economists -- didn't draw the proper conclusions. Hardly anyone asked whether lax mortgage lending would trigger a broad financial crisis, because America had not experienced a broad financial crisis since the Great Depression. A true financial crisis differs from falling stock prices, which are common. A financial crisis involves the failure of banks or other institutions, panic in many markets and a pervasive loss of wealth and confidence.

Such a crisis was not within the personal experience of members of the FOMC -- or anyone. Nor was it part of mainstream economic thinking. Because it hadn't happened in decades, it was assumed that it couldn't happen. There had been previous real estate busts. From 1964 to 1966, new housing starts fell 24 percent; from 1972 to 1975, 51 percent; from 1979 to 1982, 39 percent; from 1988 to 1991, 32 percent. Declining home construction had fed economic slowdowns or recessions. So the natural question seemed: Would this happen now? The answer seemed "no." The overall economy was strong. This is the most obvious reason for an oblivious FOMC.

But it is not the main reason, which remains widely unrecognized. Since the 1960s, the thrust of economic policy-making has been to smooth business cycles. Democracies crave prolonged prosperity, and economists have posed as technocrats with the tools to cure the boom-and-bust cycles of pre-World War II capitalism. It turns out that they exaggerated what they knew and could do.

There's a paradox to economic policy. The more it succeeds at prolonging short-term prosperity, the more it inspires long-run destabilizing behavior by businesses, banks, consumers, investors and government. If they think basic stability is assured, they will assume greater risks -- loosen credit standards, borrow more, engage in more speculation, relax wage and price behavior -- that ultimately make the economy less stable. Long booms threaten deep busts.

Since World War II, this has happened twice. In the 1960s, the so-called "new economics" promised that, by manipulating the budget and interest rates, it could stifle business cycles. The ensuing boom spanned the 1960s; the bust extended to the early 1980s and included inflation of 13 percent, four recessions and peak monthly unemployment of 10.8 percent. The latest episode was the so-called Great Moderation, largely paralleling Greenspan's Fed tenure (1987-2006), when there were only two mild recessions (1990-91 and 2001). We are now in the bust.

The Fed slept mainly because it overlooked the possibility of boom-bust. It didn't recognize that its success at sustaining prosperity -- for which Greenspan was lionized -- might sow the seeds of a larger failure. It bought into an overblown notion of economic "progress."

The Great Moderation begat the Great Recession. One implication is that an economy less stable in the short run becomes more stable in the long run by reminding everyone of risk and uncertainty. Sacrificing long booms may muffle subsequent busts. But this notion appeals to neither economists nor politicians. Ironically, the central lesson of the financial crisis is ignored.
5098  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: January 23, 2012, 12:27:07 PM
We had a little fun with cause and effect recently over on the Path Science thread, but it seems that all has gone wrong for Mitt Romney since securing the Jon Huntsman endorsement.

McCain on stage with Romney was also symbolic of all that went wrong in recent years for the party.  Romney had better put some new people with him on stage and behind the scenes along with a better focus in his message SOON if he wants to lead the next 4-8 years.
5099  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Anniversary of Roe v. Wade observations on: January 23, 2012, 12:15:20 PM
Crafty, previous post in this thread Oct. 2011: "I have often analyzed the flaw of Roe v. Wade as being that the right to privacy does not trump the right to life.  One does not have the right to murder in the privacy of one's home.  Therefore the question becomes one of when does life begin?  In that the Constitution does not grant the power to determine that question to the Supreme Court, Roe v. Wade is intellectual gibberish."

The answer to when when life begins has been enlightened quite a bit by science over the last several decades.  Science tells us when the heart starts beating and when unique fingerprints begin forming.  More obvious evidence would be how early the prematurely born can survive under medical care outside of fetus, if you don't buy the life begins with conception theory.

Posting a piece below that hits on constitutional and moral issues. My look at Planned Parenthood data caused me to believe that of the 60 million lives intentionally ended, 98% are performed for convenience reasons.  Blurring that with what should be done about rape or life risk to the mother is obfuscation.

Our current President apparently doesn't know that one of the main criteria for fetus slaughtering elsewhere in the world is gender selection.  In the US, the main discrimination is against black babies.

President Barack Obama says the 39th anniversary of Roe v. Wade is the chance to recognize the “fundamental constitutional right” to abortion and to “continue our efforts to ensure that our daughters have the same rights, freedoms, and opportunities as our sons to fulfill their dreams.”

My daughter would not have been empowered by being aborted some 17 years ago.  What a bunch of anti-science, anti-constitution, anti-life, anti-reality BS.

January 23, 2012
The Unbearable Wrongness of Roe
By Michael Paulsen

39 years ago, the Supreme Court delivered a radical, legally untenable, immoral decision. It has forfeited its entitlement to have its decisions respected, and followed, by the other branches of government, by the states, and by the people.

Today, thousands of people at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., are commemorating the thirty-ninth anniversary of a legal and moral monstrosity, Roe v. Wade, and its companion case, Doe v. Bolton. The two cases, in combination, created an essentially unqualified constitutional right of pregnant women to abortion—the right to kill their children, gestating in their wombs, up to the point of birth. After nearly four decades, Roe’s human death toll stands at nearly sixty million human lives, a total exceeding the Nazi Holocaust, Stalin’s purges, Pol Pot’s killing fields, and the Rwandan genocide combined. Over the past forty years, one-sixth of the American population has been killed by abortion. One in four African-Americans is killed before birth. Abortion is the leading cause of (unnatural) death in America.

It is almost too much to contemplate: the prospect that we are living in the midst of, and accepting (to various degrees) one of the greatest human holocausts in history. And so we don’t contemplate it. Instead, we look for ways to deny this grim reality, minimize it, or explain away our complacency—or complicity.

It is important, however, to view reality with eyes wide open, focus clear, and gaze not averted. On this thirty-ninth anniversary of Roe and Doe, I would like simply to set forth what Roe and Doe held, in as clear-headed and straightforwardly descriptive legal terms as possible, and to lay out its human and moral consequences. My brief tour of Roe’s unbearable wrongness begins with Roe’s radicalism—its extreme holding creating a plenary right to obtain or commit abortion—proceeds with Roe’s legal untenability, and concludes with Roe’s immorality and the moral problem of our seeming passivity and quiescence in response to the greatest legal and moral wrongs of our age.

Roe’s Radicalism

Start with Roe’s radicalism, a radicalism that we may no longer grasp because it has become so familiar. Roe created a constitutional right to obtain or commit an abortion of a human life—that is, to terminate the life of a human embryo or fetus. It is important to be clear-sighted about this: abortion kills a living human embryo or fetus. What distinguishes “abortion” from (say) miscarriage is the specific intention to kill a living fetus. What was alive before has been deliberately killed. Abortion takes a life. Further, the life taken is human life. There is really no doubt about that as a matter of biology. The embryo or fetus belongs to the species homo sapiens. It is a separate, living human being that is killed by abortion.

To be sure, that human being is killed at an early stage in its life cycle, and for a substantial part of that time could not live without direct biological connection to his or her mother (the person in whom Roe vests the right to terminate that human life). But that does not make the human embryo any less alive, any less human, or any less a separate life from the mother. It just makes the unborn baby more vulnerable and dependent.

The right created by the Supreme Court in Roe is a constitutional right of some human beings to kill other human beings. I do not mean for my description to be provocative, but simply direct—blunt about facts. One need not presume that the human fetus has a right not to be killed in order to recognize that, as a descriptive matter, Roe creates a right for one class of human beings to kill other human beings.

Roe, coupled with Doe, creates a plenary right to kill the embryo or fetus for essentially any reason, at any time throughout all nine months of pregnancy. Distilled to its essence, Roe created a “trimester” framework for abortion. In roughly the first three months of pregnancy, the right of abortion is avowedly plenary: abortion may be had for any reason. In the second three months, government may regulate abortion to protect the life or health of the mother, but again the right to have an abortion remains plenary. In the final three months—after the point of “viability,” when the human fetus could live on his or her own outside the mother’s womb—Roe says that abortion can be restricted or prohibited . . . except where abortion is necessary to protect the “life or health” of the pregnant woman.

This is a big exception. And here is where Doe steps in. On its face, Roe might appear, to the unwary or uninitiated, “moderate”—its trimester-balancing framework a measured, reasonable-sounding, proportionate act of judicial legislation concerning abortion. It is Doe that does a lot of the work, through an indirect and ultimately disingenuous definition of the “health” reasons that always may justify a woman’s decision to have an abortion and trump any interest of society in protecting fetal human life, even when the child could survive outside the mother’s womb. Doe holds that relevant “health” considerations justifying late-term abortions include “all factors—physical, emotional, psychological, familial, and the woman’s age—relevant to the well-being of the patient. All these factors may relate to health.” (Doe’s understanding of “the patient” did not include the fetus; Roe held elsewhere that the human fetus has no legal rights that any person is bound to respect.)

Roe then cross-referenced Doe’s stylized definition of health and incorporated it into the main holding. The result is that an abortion may be had, under Roe and Doe, for essentially any reason, throughout all nine months of pregnancy, up to the point of birth.

Nothing in any of the Court’s later abortion cases alters this definition of “health” or the right to abortion throughout pregnancy. Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the 1992 case reaffirming Roe, tinkered slightly with the trimester framework and the point at which “viability” occurs but did not change Roe’s (and Doe’s) holding that abortion may be had for any reason, before viability, and for any “health” reason throughout pregnancy. The partial-birth abortion cases carried this understanding forward, holding that the state may not prohibit the abortion method of inducing birth and killing the fetus on the way out of the birth canal (Carhart I [2000]), unless an equally effective, equally “healthy” method of killing the fetus is available (Carhart II [2007]).

I suspect that if more people understood Roe’s and Doe’s actual holding fewer would support that constitutional regime. Roe was a truly extreme decision, creating an effectively unrestricted constitutional right to abort a living human being for any reason the mother might have, throughout pregnancy right up to the point of birth.

Roe’s Legal Untenability

This brings us to Roe’s utter indefensibility as a matter of constitutional law. If the U.S. Constitution actually protected such an extreme personal legal right to kill the human fetus, that would be troubling enough, but the trouble would be with the content of the Constitution. The further problem with Roe is that it has absolutely no basis in the text, structure, or history of the Constitution. No rule or principle of law fairly traceable to the text, discernible from its structure, or fairly derived from evidence of intention or historical understanding of an authoritative decision of the people, remotely supports the result reached in Roe. In terms of fair principles of constitutional interpretation, Roe is perhaps the least defensible major constitutional decision in the Supreme Court’s history.

Roe’s reasoning, distilled to its essentials, is that the Constitution creates a “privacy” right to abortion, on the premise that the right not “to bear” a child is protected by the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause. No serious constitutional law scholar thinks this is a plausible reading of the Due Process Clause. That clause forbids government to “deprive any person of life, liberty or property, without due process of law.” Without due process of law  are crucial words. The Due Process Clause does not say that government never may deprive a person of life, liberty or property. It only says that government may not do so “without due process of law”—that is, arbitrarily, lawlessly, not in conformity with duly enacted laws and accepted procedures for their application.

Many nonetheless support Roe’s holding as a policy matter and therefore seek to rationalize the holding some other way. Perhaps the goofiest is the suggestion advanced by a few law professors, in apparent seriousness, that abortion restrictions violate the Thirteenth Amendment’s ban on slavery. Saner, but in the end still unsound as a legal matter, is the notion that abortion laws discriminate on the basis of sex and thus deny “equal protection of the laws.” The defect in this argument is that abortion laws do not classify on the basis of sex or gender and are not disguised attempts to do so. Rather, they aim at conduct—obtaining or committing an abortion—when engaged in by persons of either sex. Abortion restrictions do not restrict acts of women because they are women; they restrict acts committed by men or women because they kill human fetuses. Further, ask a “pro-choice” “feminist” whether abortion should be permitted for reasons of sex-selection—that is, because the unborn child is a girl—and the sex discrimination argument begins to turn back on itself. All but the most blindly pro-abortion ideologues abandon the argument that abortion rights are required for gender equality, if that means abortion can be chosen for gender-selection of boys over girls.

In Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the Supreme Court rested the right to abortion back where Roe purported to find it, in the Due Process Clause. Recognizing the embarrassments created by this view, Casey added another prop: the doctrine of precedent or “stare decisis,” which is essentially all that is left to support Roe. But Casey’s invocation of the doctrine was transparently disingenuous: Because the public expects the Court to adhere (usually) to its past decisions, because the Court had staked its authority on Roe, and because the Court might be viewed unfavorably by some of the public if it reversed itself in such a case, the Court said that it had decided to adhere to Roe “whether or not mistaken.” Thus, what Roe held to be required by substantive due process Casey held to be required by stare decisis, even assuming Roe to be wrong.

If Roe was radical, Casey was craven. A majority of the Supreme Court apparently believed that Roe was wrongly decided, fully understood the moral and human consequences of the decision, and deliberately adhered to it anyway. Stare decisis has never been thought required by the Constitution, before or since. Brown v. Board of Education (1954) famously repudiated Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) on the question of whether racial segregation was consistent with “equal protection of the laws.” The Court has overruled scores of its own precedents. Indeed, it overruled two cases in Casey. Casey’s reaffirmation of Roe, in the name of stare decisis, was a sham—perhaps the most transparently dishonest major judicial decision since Dred Scott.

Roe’s Immorality

Finally, there is Roe’s immorality—the abortion holocaust it unleashed—and the problem of our response to it. Roe is a radical decision and a legally indefensible one. But what really makes Roe unbearably wrong is its consequences. The result of Roe and Doe has been the legally authorized killing of nearly sixty million Americans since 1973. Roe v. Wade authorized unrestricted private violence against human life on an almost unimaginable scale, and did so, falsely, in the name of the Constitution.

It is hard to escape this conclusion, but not impossible—and many certainly try. I will not here belabor the question of whether the intentional killing of innocent, dependent, vulnerable human children is a grave moral wrong. My concluding point concerns the lengths to which we will go to deny the reality of this holocaust, because it is almost unbearable to contemplate and still go on living life as if nothing is terribly wrong. The cognitive dissonance is simply too great. And so we have become, in effect, a nation of holocaust deniers.

Here is the problem, undressed: If human embryonic life is morally worthy of protection, we have permitted sixty million murders under our watch. Faced with this prospect, many of us—maybe even most—flee from the facts. We deny that the living human embryo is “truly” or “fully” human life, adopt a view that whether the embryo or fetus is human “depends,” or can be judged in degrees, on a sliding scale over the course of pregnancy; or we proclaim uncertainty about the facts of human biology; or we proclaim moral agnosticism about the propriety of “imposing our views on others”; or we throw up our hands and give up because moral opposition to an entrenched, pervasive social practice is not worth the effort, discomfort, and social costs. The one position not on the table—the one possibility too hard to look at—is that abortion is a grave moral wrong on a par with the greatest human moral atrocities of all time and that we passively, almost willingly, accept it as such.

All of this should tell us a few more sobering things. It should tell us that, much as we would like to believe that human beings have become more morally conscious, more sensitive to injustice and intolerant of clear evil, it remains the case that we often either fail to recognize it in our midst, or refuse to respond to it decisively, out of self-interest or cowardice. It should tell us that, much as we would like to think that we surely would have stood bravely against slavery, even if embedded in a nineteenth-century society that tolerated and accepted it as a legal right, we might have acquiesced or been tepid in our condemnation. It should tell us that, much as we would like to think we would never have put up with what transpired in Nazi Germany in the 1930s and the 1940s, the evidence of our lives in twenty-first century America is that we might have put up with quite a lot.

And it should tell us finally, that, as much as we may claim to admire our governmental and constitutional system, the decisions of the Supreme Court in the abortion cases expose the Court—at least on this matter of life, death, and law—as a lawless, rogue institution capable of the most monstrous of injustices in the name of law. The Court has, with its abortion decisions, surely forfeited its legal and moral legitimacy as an institution. It has forfeited its claimed authority to speak for the Constitution. It has forfeited its entitlement to have its decisions respected, and followed, by the other branches of government, by the states, and by the people. Yet the docility of the American people with respect to Roe and abortion rivals the pliancy of the most cowardly, servile peoples toward ruinous, brutal, anti-democratic regimes throughout world history.

The Supreme Court is empowered by the Constitution to faithfully interpret the Constitution. But it is not alone in that power, and when it exceeds it and violates it, it is the responsibility of other actors in our system to check the abuse. As James Madison wrote in The Federalist No. 49, “the several departments being perfectly co-ordinate by the terms of their common commission, neither of them, it is evident, can pretend to an exclusive or superior right of settling the boundaries between their respective powers.” Moreover, it is “the people themselves” who are “the grantors of the commission” and who “can alone declare its true meaning and enforce its observance.”

The Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade should not be accepted as law, in any sense. It should be resisted by legislatures and it should be refused enforcement by executive officials because it is not the law. It should be resisted by all citizens, with all the resources at their disposal, and perhaps even with resources not (yet) at their disposal.
5100  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential, Mark Steyn: (Mitt is) The Man Who Gave Us Newt on: January 23, 2012, 11:23:27 AM
Dick Morris had it right.  It is not momentum of Newt or organization of Mitt now, it is the message from here on out, and it better get more focused.

Newt is a known commodity and has real high negatives, a bad combination that could cost R's the lead in the House and Senate takeover as well if things went badly.  Best case is if the contest now between these two raises the eventual candidate to a level they wouldn't have attained otherwise.

Romney has not yet raised his game to deserve to win.  South Carolina should clarify his thinking and help him to streamline his staff.

Mark Steyn wrote one of the strongest rips against Newt earlier.  Here he take Romney over his knee and spanks him pretty badly:

The Man Who Gave Us Newt
By Mark Steyn
January 22, 2012 6:40 P.M.

The nature of this peculiar primary season — the reason it seems at odds with both the 2009–2010 political narrative and the seriousness of the times — was determined by Mitt Romney. Even if you don’t mind Romneycare, or the abortion flip-flop, or any of the rest, there’s a more basic problem: He’s not a natural campaigner, and on the stump he instinctively recoils from any personal connection with the voters. So, in compensation, he’s bought himself a bunch of A-list advisers and a lavish campaign. He is, as he likes to say, the only candidate with experience in the private sector. So he knows better than to throw his money away, right? But that’s just what he’s doing, in big ways and small.

Small: It’s a good idea to get that telegenic gal (daughter-in-law?) to stand behind him during the concession speech, but one of those expensive consultants ought to tell her not to look so bored and glassy-eyed as the stiff guy grinds through the same-old-same-old for the umpteenth time. To those watching on TV last night, she looked like we felt.

Big: Why is the stump speech so awful? “I believe in an America where millions of Americans believe in an America that’s the America millions of Americans believe in. That’s the America I love.” Mitt paid some guy to write this insipid pap. And he paid others to approve it. Not only is it bland and generic, it’s lethal to him in a way that it wouldn’t be to Gingrich or Perry or Bachmann or Paul because it plays to his caricature — as a synthetic, stage-managed hollow man of no fixed beliefs. And, when Ron Paul’s going on about “fiat money” and Newt’s brimming with specifics on everything (he was great on the pipeline last night), Mitt’s generalities are awfully condescending: The finely calibrated inoffensiveness is kind of offensive.

And what’s with the wind up? The “shining city on the hill”? That’s another guy’s line — a guy with whom you have had hitherto little connection other than your public repudiation of him back in the Nineties. Can’t any of his highly paid honchos write him a campaign slogan that’s his own and doesn’t sound in his mouth so cheesily anodyne, as if some guy ran a focus-group and this phrase came up with the lowest negatives?

And where, among all the dough he’s handing out, is the rapid-response team? Newt’s “spontaneous” indignation at John King was carefully crafted by Gingrich himself. By contrast, Mitt has a ton of consultants, and not one of them thought he needed a credible answer on Bain or taxes? For a guy running as a chief exec applying proven private-sector solutions, his campaign looks awfully like an unreformable government bureaucracy: big, bloated, overstaffed, burning money, slow to react, and all but impossible to change.

Mitt’s strategy for 2012 as for 2008 was to sit on his lead and run out the clock: Four years ago, that strategy died in New Hampshire; this time round it died one state later. Congratulations! Years ago, I was chit-chatting with Arthur Laurents, the writer of West Side Story and The Way We Were and much else, about some show that was in trouble on the road that he’d been called in to “fix.” “The trouble with a bad show,” he sighed, “is that you can make it better but you can never make it good.” The Romney candidacy is better than it was four years ago, but it’s not clear that it’s good. Mitt needs to get good real fast: A real speech, real plan, real responses, and real fire in the belly. Does he have it in him? 
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