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5101  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Selective Reading of the Law on: January 11, 2012, 10:35:12 AM
Obama’s Postmodern Vision
Will we have another four years of his selective reading of the law?

By Victor Davis Hanson    January 11, 2012    National Review

There has been for months a popular parlor game of tallying instances in which President Obama seems to have either ignored or simply bypassed federal law. But what started out as a way of exposing occasional hypocrisy is now getting a little scary.

Most recently, President Obama made several recess appointments — a tactic that as a senator he once criticized — even though Congress was not in recess. In December, the president signed a $1 billion omnibus spending bill, but notified Congress that he might not abide by some of the very provisions he had just signed into law. During the Libya war, Obama felt that bombing Qaddafi’s forces did not really constitute military operations, and therefore he had no need to notify Congress under the War Powers Act.

It is clear that Arizona is not trying to circumvent federal immigration law, but rather is desperately trying to find some way to enforce it, given that the Obama administration has selectively chosen not to do so. In response, the federal government is suing the state of Arizona, even as it assures illegal aliens that they will not be arrested if they have not committed a crime — as if Obama can by himself decide that illegally entering and residing in the United States is not a federal crime in the first place.

President Obama argued that it was constitutional to force citizens to purchase federalized health care, and that all Americans would be subject to his new health-care law — except some 2,000 businesses and organizations that were given politically driven waivers. Obama decided to reverse the legal order of creditors in the bailout of a bankrupt Chrysler Corporation in favor of more politically suitable constituencies. The administration does not like the Defense of Marriage Act, and therefore announced that it won’t enforce it. When a federal judge struck down an Obama- administration ban on new leases for gas and oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, Obama for a time ignored the injunction. When a BP oil leak in the Gulf outraged America, the president met with company executives and announced that they had agreed to set up a $20 billion “fund” to pay for imminent damage claims — as if our chief executive now meets with culpable private businesses to assess what he thinks they should pony up to avoid federal retaliation.

Every administration, of course, has constitutional disputes with Congress, the courts, and the public over the exact limits of its power. But in the case of the Obama administration there is a new sort of lawlessness unseen in recent governments. Is that predictable or surprising, given Obama’s own constant references to himself as a former constitutional scholar and community organizer?

Both as a state legislator and as a U.S. senator, Obama blasted as unconstitutional or abuses of presidential power almost all of the Bush-Cheney anti-terrorism protocols — Guantanamo, renditions, military tribunals, preventive detention, the Patriot Act — which as president he later embraced or expanded. Apparently, Obama’s own status as an out-of-power senator or an in-power president, and the degree to which such issues were or were not politically useful to his larger agenda, alone determined whether something like renditions or military tribunals was lawful.

Other than the normal explanations of abject hypocrisy and political expediency, why has the Obama administration shown such a disdain for the integrity of the law? In a word, Obama is a postmodernist. That is a trendy word for someone who leaves academia believing that there are not really absolute facts, but merely competing ideas and discourses. In this view, particular ideologies unfortunately gain credibility as establishment icons only from the relative advantage that arises from race, class, and gender biases.

In postmodern jurisprudence, “critical legal theory” postulates that law and politics are inseparable. Those with power call their self-serving rules “the law.” But “laws” are not sacrosanct. Instead, they are mere embedded reflections of wealthy, white, and male privilege — dressed up in some bogus timeless concept of “justice.”

A few critical and progressive minds among the legal technocracy have the ability to spot these fictions. And thus a Barack Obama or an Eric Holder has a duty on our behalf to use his training to make the necessary corrections, even if the rest of us don’t quite fathom what is going on. Federal voting-rights laws, for example, do not mean ensuring that no one intimidates voters. Hardly. They are instead fluid and relative, properly focusing only on those who are not now intimidating voters but whose ancestors might have, while exempting those who now are but whose ancestors might have been intimidated.

Whether Congress is, or is not, in recess, or whether wealthy bondholders should be paid back before working-class union pensioners, or whether some company should or should not be allowed to drill in the Gulf — these and others are moral and political, but not necessarily legal, issues. To the degree that he can, on any given challenge Obama assesses the politics of favoring his constituency of the “poor” and “middle class,” and then uses the necessary legal gymnastics post facto to offer the veneer of lawfulness.

If someone is breaking a federal “law” by entering Arizona illegally from Mexico, there must be a way to make the enforcer of that “law” the real suspect — given that a Sheriff Joe Arpaio is by allegiance of the privileged 1 percent and those whom he arrests most surely are not. Consumers are deemed to need federal help more than do lenders; accordingly, Congress “really” is now in recess. In other words, we are witnessing with this administration the ancient idea of the supposedly exalted ends justifying the somewhat ambiguous means — albeit dressed up in trendy Ivy League legalese and progressive moralizing.

Our postmodern president is not content with just picking and choosing which laws he will follow in advancing his social agenda. The war against the myth of disinterested Western jurisprudence extends also to free-market economics, as we see with the monotonous demonization of the so-called 1 percent and those who make over $200,000 per year. Sometime after January 2009, we learned that the “wealthy” did not gain their riches by a wide variety of what we once thought were legitimate means — luck, inheritance, work, health, intelligence, expertise, experience, education, or an overriding desire for money and status, coupled with an avoidance of classical sins like sloth, crime, and drunkenness.

Rather, we were taught that there was something else going on, something innately unfair in the manner in which we are arbitrarily compensated. In some sense, we are back to the old notion of a labor theory of value (e.g., an hour of working at Starbucks is inherently no less valuable to our society in terms of how much the worker should be paid than an hour crafting a deal at Goldman Sachs). The role, then, of government is not to ensure an equality of opportunity — which is impossible, given inherent and unending race, class, and gender exploitations — but to strive for an equality of result.

That utopian task demands that the best and the brightest in government redistribute capital, or rather use the state to make right what the private sector has distorted. (Of course, no one dares to suggest that Obama himself is cynically interested mostly in power and the delights thereof — and so as a postmodernist he simply constructs these egalitarian stage-sets as a means to enjoy the privileges of the technocratic class that he surrounds himself with.)

Tally up Obama’s early and recent unrehearsed and unguarded quips about wealth — “Spread the wealth”; his regrets that the Supreme Court has not addressed “redistributive change”; his concern that some have not realized that they already have made “enough” money; his warnings that now is not the time for “profit.” That serial message bookends the president’s slurs about millionaires and billionaires, corporate-jet owners, fat-cats, profit-driven doctors, and Vegas and Super Bowl junketeers.

All this unscripted editorializing reflects a recurring theme: Those with superior intelligence and higher moral authority must correct for warped private-sector compensation and human greed. And they can do that by deciding roughly how much each of us deserves to end up with.

In concrete terms, this pop socialism leads Obama to wish to enact more regulations, higher taxes on fewer taxpayers, and more on entitlements. Larger government can absorb health care and also many private-sector companies, as more federal and state workers likewise can even out the playing field. Near-zero interest rates, and renegotiating mortgage or student loans, along with higher deficits, more national debt, and expansionary monetary policy are likewise means to correct the inherent imbalances of the system and counter the greed of a few among us.

It does not matter that much whether, in the attempt to do all that, the better-off must be demonized with crude sloganeering. It does not matter that the poor must be caricatured as Steinbeck’s Joads, starving and poorly clothed, lacking iPhones, $200 sneakers, and big-screen TVs. It does not matter that 20th-century phenomena like National Socialism, Communism, and the European Union — and any other crackpot effort of a self-anointed elite to redistribute wealth and expand the state under the banner either of nationalism, or the global proletariat, or enlightened world citizens — have led only to poverty and chaos, at least for those outside the small exempt managerial class that implements, profits from, and often survives the ensuing disaster.

What makes Barack Obama a different president is not his racial heritage, his liberal outlook, or his mellifluous cadences, but rather the banal idea that the United States is fundamentally in need of this sort of radical change, and that only a select few like himself have the insight and skills necessary to both implement and preside over it. We simply have not seen that redistributive ideology in a president since Jimmy Carter, and then only in part. So far the biggest edge for Obama is his inability to push more of his agenda through first a friendly and now a not-so-friendly Congress — as if to say, “How could I be a redistributionist when they did not let me redistribute as planned?”

The fulfillment of that old vision of mandated equality of result is what the 2012 election is about — nothing more, nothing less.
5102  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential - Populism is anti capitalism on: January 11, 2012, 09:54:50 AM
Newt elaborated quite extensively on his anti-capitalism message yesterday and has lost me forever.  (Perry also.)
"I don't think I'm using the language of the Left. I'm using the language of classic American populism," he said on Fox and Friends. "Main Street has always been suspicious of Wall Street."

The ad targets Gingrich opponent and the front-runner Mitt Romney as a predatory capitalist who was “playing the system for a quick buck” during his time at private-equity firm Bain Capital.

The film features poignant interviews with people who lost jobs at companies bought and then later dissolved by Bain. 

“There's a big difference between people who go out to create a company, even if they fail, if they try in the right direction, if they share in the hardships, if they're out there with the workers doing it together, that's one thing,” he said on Fox. “But if somebody who is very wealthy comes in, takes over your company, takes out all the cash and leaves behind the unemployment, I think that's not a model we want to advocate."

Watch the trailer, a story of greed.
5103  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Was Forstmann Little (Bain competitor) employing Gingrich as a historian? on: January 09, 2012, 11:12:26 PM
First this: I think the Todd Palin endorsement is significant.  The conservative candidates all wanted Sarah Palin's endorsement.  I think this is her way of announcing that.  It should have been done earlier, while he was on top, instead of the other bunglings he was up to like trashing capitalism.
The attacks from the right on Romney's work at Bain are misplaced; it also turns out Newt worked in the industry:

During Saturday night’s GOP primary debate in New Hampshire, Gingrich said: ”I’m not nearly as enamored of a Wall Street model where you can flip companies, you can go in and have leveraged buyouts, you can basically take out all the money, leaving behind the workers.”

Upon leaving Congress in 1999, the former Speaker joined private equity firm Forstmann Little & Co. as a member of its advisory board.  Forstmann Little was one of the world’s original leveraged buyout firm.
5104  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / US Foreign Policy- Wash Post: Obama’s foreign initiatives have been failures on: January 09, 2012, 01:28:57 PM
Could go under Glibness or media issues.  Is the coalition between the DNC and the MSM showing some cracks? I chose 'US Foreign Policy' thread for the serious points presented.

Obama’s foreign initiatives have been failures

By Jackson Diehl (Washington Post Deputy Editorial Page Editor)

The political writers tell us that President Obama’s foreign affairs record will be one of his strengths with voters in the 2012 campaign. The logic is pretty simple; Obama himself summed it up in 11 words at the Pentagon last week: “We’ve ended our war in Iraq. We’ve decimated al-Qaeda’s leadership.”

That may well be enough in a year when foreign policy is a low priority for voters. Of course, there could be unexpected crises; a confrontation with Iran that sends U.S. gasoline prices soaring, for example. But even some foreseeable disasters might not hurt much: Will independents in Ohio or Florida really be swayed if Iraqis go back to slaughtering one another?

To those voters, Obama looks relatively good, for now, on the big problems he inherited: the wars and al-Qaeda. What could go missing is a discussion about the president’s performance on his own priorities for foreign affairs — the initiatives he chose to launch.

If so, Obama will be fortunate. As he heads into the last year of his first term, the president’s biggest failures have been his own ideas.

The easiest one to document — and the one most likely to draw Republican attention next fall — is the busted Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Obama arrived in office afire with the ambition to create a Palestinian state within two years. But his diplomacy was based on a twofold misunderstanding: that the key to successful negotiations was forcing Israel to stop all settlement construction — and that the United States had the leverage to make that happen.

Veterans of the Middle East “peace process” shook their heads in wonderment as what at first appeared to be a rookie error evolved into a two-year standoff between Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. There was only one possible explanation for this persistence in futility: The president himself was fixed on it.

Obama’s next big project was global nuclear arms control — an initiative so impressive to Norwegians that it won him the Nobel Peace Prize before he could act on it. Yet the results to date hardly seem prizeworthy. The New Start nuclear arms agreement with Russia merely ratifies warhead reductions already underway in Russia, while imposing a modest cut on the U.S. arsenal. More ambitious multilateral initiatives by Obama — to control nuclear materials, for example — have made little progress, despite an elaborate summit the president hosted in 2010.

Here again there appears to be a disconnect between Obama’s 1970s-vintage ideas and the real world of the early 21st century. There’s nothing wrong, and modest good, in extending Cold War nuclear conventions with Russia, or extracting highly enriched uranium from Ukraine and Chile. But the most dangerous proliferation threats emanate from countries that don’t attend summits or sign international treaties, such as North Korea and Iran. In terms of nuclear capability, both are ahead of where they were in 2009.

This brings us to Obama’s most distinctive — and most ill-fated — idea, and the one most identified with his 2008 campaign: the determination to “engage” with U.S. adversaries such as Iran, North Korea, Syria and Venezuela. Obama promised “direct diplomacy” — even one-to-one meetings — with the likes of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Kim Jong Il. More broadly he made the case that the United States could benefit by reaching out to autocratic regimes, while dropping the George W. Bush administration’s moralizing “freedom agenda.”

In his first year Obama dispatched two letters to Khamenei while keeping his distance from the revolutionary Green movement. He shook hands with Hugo Chavez. He launched a “reset” of relations with Russia’s Vladi­mir Putin and dispatched envoys to reason with Bashar al-Assad in Damascus. He delivered a sweeping address to the Muslim world from Cairo.

The results have been meager. Khamenei spurned the U.S. outreach. Relations with Putin warmed for a time but now have grown cold again. In Egypt and across the Middle East, the president’s popularity is lower today than when he gave the Cairo address.

That’s largely because, in pursuing “engagement,” Obama has mishandled the biggest international development of his presidency: the popular revolutions against autocracy. Detente with dictators can sometimes yield results, but Obama’s outreach turned out to be spectacularly ill-timed. Following the failure to back Iran’s Green movement, the strategy caused the administration to lag in supporting the popular uprisings in Egypt, Syria, Bahrain and elsewhere.

The consequences of all this are not yet clear. To voters and maybe even to history they may be trumped by the dismantling of al-Qaeda. Taken together, what they describe is a president who has been a good counterterrorism commander, who has ended a war he promised to end — and whose signature initiatives have flopped.

5105  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Media Issues: Keith Olberman over at Al Gore TV, not getting along on: January 09, 2012, 01:19:11 PM
... and the NY Times enjoying it:

Who could have seen this coming?
5106  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Japan's Earthquake: A dangerous lack of urgency in drawing lessons on: January 09, 2012, 01:16:22 PM
More followup from 'The Economist' on Fukushima regarding bungled pre-planning and bad information that followed the nuclear plant failure on the world's most dangerous fault line.

"Meanwhile, across Japan, 48 out of 54 nuclear reactors remain out of service, almost all because of safety fears."  (The coverup of the extent of the problem did not help instill confidence!)

The Fukushima black box
A dangerous lack of urgency in drawing lessons from Japan’s nuclear disaster

Without intending to be callous, I am still not seeing a death toll or full reporting of measurable human damage from the radiation release.

The stories say more than 10,000 dead (from tsunami) and radiation peaked at dangerous levels (worse than we were told then), but they don't finish that thought with a human toll specific to the nuclear accident.

My thought is that this horrible experience will lead to the capability of constructing nuclear plants with the ability to withstand future levels that are immeasurably unlikely to happen elsewhere, but that process seems badly delayed by a lack of good information coming out.
5107  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants & interesting thought pieces - Welfare in Maine on: January 09, 2012, 12:56:23 PM
Yes, there is almost no real poverty left to fight in America.  Like climate change, there is a theory that living in hunger causes obesity.

Even if EBT can't go directly to liquor, junk foods or prepared foods, it frees up other monies to do that.  Dollars on food stamp cards sell on the street for 50 cents on the dollar.  Not a good tradeoff for the taxpayer, but with deficits where they are, the taxpayer isn't really paying either.   sad

The 'average' person in poverty has several luxuries I live comfortably without:

As scholar James Q. Wilson has stated, “The poorest Americans today live a better life than all but the richest persons a hundred years ago.”[3] In 2005, the typical household defined as poor by the government had a car and air conditioning. For entertainment, the household had two color televisions, cable or satellite TV, a DVD player, and a VCR... and a coffee maker.

Not to mention iPhone with the unlimited data package...
5108  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants & interesting thought pieces - Public Bandwidth on: January 09, 2012, 12:46:06 PM
CCP: "Should we have government policy overseeing this?  If so one can then imagine a new Gov. agency.  Or stated another way smaller government, at least in this area is not better."

Yes, Friedman always seems fascinated by the way the trains run on time under totalitarian regimes.  He doesn't usually come out and say our government is who should do this but he frames his context by saying the people running for head of the federal government should be talking about it.

For me, no thank you to the central planners.  Sure a super high speed network linking Stanford Univ and all the engineers and labs in Silicon Valley would be nice if they don't already have one.  Then we will need to provide equal services to inner cities, suburbia and rural America, right?  We don't want anyone to be disadvantaged.

Information technology is important and dynamic, always changing and advancing.  You wouldn't put your government in charge of auto manufacturing, energy or health care would you?  Whoops! It's hard to find examples of things they wouldn't turn over to government control.   sad

The only role I see for public sector is for local government to help with the right of ways for fiber optic lines, not the 60% tax they had home telephone service as they helped to kill it off.  Or the mortgage oversight committees where they asked themselves, now that we have all this power, what shall we do next with it?

If given the choice, choose the door with the smaller, equal-protection government behind it.  That will not leave us insurmountably lagging the Chinese and the Koreans IMHO.
5109  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cognitive dissonance of the left: Wassserman-Shultz on: January 09, 2012, 12:29:11 PM
The DNC Chair won't hurry back to Fox News Sunday.  This clip only shows a little of it.  It was worse in total.  She struggles to answer the "one term proposition" he made in his own words in Feb 2009: "if I 'doesn't get it done in 3 years'...

I harped on this in another thread, but she can only refer back to the mess "he inherited":

"Without any help from the Republicans"
"The Republican Congress" - [HE HAD A DEM CONGRESS THE FIRST 2 YEARS!]
"he inherited a huge set of problems at once"
"George W Bush presided over... No one was minding the store, with almost no regulation that was appropriate over the financial services industry..."

I realize I am the only one harping on this, but he moved over to the White House, not from political obscurity, but from serving 2 YEARS IN MAJORITY CONTROL AND DE FACTO LEADERSHIP OF CONGRESS, ALMOST COMPLETELY UNRESTRAINED BY A LAME DUCK, 2ND HALF OF A 2ND TERM PRESIDENT.

Unemployment was 4.6% when the American people turned out people like Sen. Santorum by double digits in a swing state and put a San Francisco liberal in Speaker's chair leading up to the elevation of the Senate's number one rated liberal to be the nominee and then the President.  That is not exactly an inheritance - it has their fingerprints all over it.  And also it was not exactly a path to getting conservatives or Republicans on board with a reach to the middle agenda. 

"Without any help from the Republicans"  - Thank God.

Even if no one says it aloud, didn't everyone alive and paying attention see this happen?
5110  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: January 09, 2012, 11:53:37 AM
Yes, Santorum's plan is good and like George W Bush he also shows that he doesn't really get it.  Huntsman's plan is very good but it is a piece of paper.  I don't hear him selling it.  Similar for Gingrich.  Plenty of good plans but no focus.  Romney is intentionally vague trying to cleverlymake general election attacks more difficult.  Meanwhile he wonders why we don't get all excited about plans that he won't disclose.  Santorum's is perhaps the most realistic tax plan of the  bunch.  I like the idea of top rates in the 20s and capital gains lowered from 15 to 12%.  Zero tax on capital gains would be a dream to me but seems out of touch politically and leaving good government revenues on the table during times of historic deficits.  All these others starting with Pawlenty, Huntsman, Gingrich saying no tax on capital gains for anyone is a campaign promise sure to go nowhere and just gives fuel to the class envy movement.

The latest round of attacks on Romney are fair but don't reflect well on Newt in particular and others IMO.  Half the things Newt attacks on he is guilty of something similar himself and the rest often show either ignorance or deception.  Romney's experience and success at Bain was not a bad thing for the American economy.  The first of those flames thrown is what knocked Newt out of the lead in the first place.  Now it's "Predatory Capitalist"? Romney should have been a more benevolent and socialist capitalist-for-the-people? He should preside over restructuring of companies but treat the outgrown, middle managers like federal employees or tenured professors?  I just don't get what that line of attack is except to oppose or not understand competitive capitalism.  That should be left to the occupy Marxists.

The Obama people are starting to show that Gov. Romney is not the one they want to face.

Update: I agree with the WSJ criticism of Santorum treating manufacturers differently than all other businesses.  They don't need a zero tax; they need a conducive business environment.  Energy policies and impending Obamacare hurt manufacturers more than a high tax rate on no profit.
5111  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government programs & regulations, spending, deficit, and budget process on: January 08, 2012, 12:39:57 PM
Crafty thanks for great additions to that.  Going back a step, if Republicans let Obama and the Goolsbee types frame the debate, Republicans lose.   We need real answers to their straw arguments but this will be decided by something much simpler: the right direction/wrong direction question.  Is the progress expected by Nov 2012 (unemployment 7.9%?) good enough to reelect on?  And what do swing voters think of the Republican alternative?

Starting at the end, "Are we happy with how the Rep candidates are communicating this message?"

   - Obviously not.  But this is unfortunately a time of candidates bickering amongst themselves.  This part could be over very quickly, hopefully followed by many months of a more singular and coherent argument against the direction of the current administration.

Taking one key passage leading to where Crafty wrote "THIS is a VITAL point and it is a HUGE failing of the Reps that it is not part of the narrative":

[I contended this mess goes back to Nov 2006 and Pelosi-Reid-Obama taking over congress]

MARC:  I’m not sure that this answers the point as perceived by most voters— many/most of them tend to say “Obama inherited a really bad situation.”

(Doug)“...investors and employers in the economy were wide awake heading into the tax rate increases and the host of new programs and regulations impending beyond their worst nightmare of imagination when the asset selloff began and when the collapse of housing and employment ensued.

MARC:   THIS is a VITAL point and it is a HUGE failing of the Reps that it is not part of the narrative. 

Yes.  Republicans need to attack on what caused our current mess, even where that means taking responsibility, because it is tied to what solves it.

I have called it '6 years since 2006'.  Not just the Presidency but those Senate seats are up.  Obama entered the majority Jan. 2007, was a rock star by that time, and voted yes on everything he showed up for in the agenda tied to the collapse.  If he gets a free pass for his role in the 2 years preceding the Oval Office, then no one has learned anything about what went wrong so why would we expect to win their vote now.  One person who should know about the change of power in Nov. 2006 is former Sen. Rick Santorum who lost very badly that year in a key swing state.  He should take responsibility for his part in what led to the Republican defeat and power shift, then he should be all over what happened to this country aftger his opponents won and took power.  Not that all that is wrong started then, but what they didn't reform before the collapse they still haven't reformed now - this many years later - and won't fix in the next 4 years either.  Out they go!

None of the Obama/Goolsbee wild goose chase straw distractions justify the Democrats obsession with raising taxes on job creators (from 36% to 39.6% plus the Buffet-Reid surcharge, plus a 15.3% payroll tax removing the ceiling, the estate tax against wealth, and the 24 new taxes in Obamacare) when we are only collecting 14.4% taxes on income in the current setup.  The marginal rate of disincentive to produce, hire and grow doesn't need to surpass 50% when the goal is only to get back to collecting 18% of GDP in federal revenues.  We ought to be able to do that with a top rate in the mid-20s and end the counter productive class envy and class warfare mindset.  It's been 6 years of attacking ourselves and it didn't work.


1) Open up the energy production by widely approving projects that use state of the art, clean processes only - not dirtier air and dirtier water.

2) Close down the excesses in regulations especially in hiring and employment regulations.  This does not mean return to the dark ages or slave labor. 

3) Phase out federal spending on failed programs and things the federal government has no business doing in the first place.  Get entitlements in line with our ability to pay.

4) Get tax RATES on individuals, business owners and corporations down to what is efficient and competitive in a 21st century global marketplace.  Cut out the crap.  Lower the rates.  Even Goolsbee admits it, revenues only come back with economic growth and the deficit will never close with spending cuts alone.

It isn't rocket science.
5112  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re:Political Economics- comments on Wesbury social security tax cut and pipeline on: January 08, 2012, 11:12:34 AM
Good to see Wesbury to get his attention back on the political side of the economic mess, even if it is to criticize Republicans, because that is the only place where it can be solved.  Great to see him explaining the importance of marginal rates over the concept of just money changing hands or not.

Crafty noted previously how weak Speaker Boehner looked on the so-called payroll tax cut issue, amazingly leaving Dems to look like the party of tax cutting.  True.  He caved without ever saying why it was bad policy, why they were apprehensive about allowing the defunding of S.S. to become long term or permanent.  To do so he would have had to become the great defender of the of our largest entitlement, instead of hopefully its reformer.  

The Dems think they pulled a clever one here.  Wesbury nailed it.  With half the taxpayers paying nothing in income tax, this is all their side has left to play with on the tax side.  They turned it into the new minimum wage issue of politics, where all economists know it is bad policy and no one will say so politically.

But that the short term non-gain for Dems has great potential IMO for a long term loss.  They 'succeeded' in defunding Social Security in exchange for a non-existent stimulus and a trivial political gain.  Like Wesbury says, it passed the Republican House unanimously so what did Democrats really gain in bragging rights?  Nothing, just the appearance of being out front on that.  To avoid another showdown, the Republicans have already decided to cave again in 2 months.  The question becomes, what then?  In my view that removes the most powerful argument in defense of S.S. as we know it - that it is paid for and it is your money.  This actually helps open the door for serious future reforms IMO.

There will never be a good time to "raise taxes" on social security so they will never again be able to say that it pays for itself.  If you are tucking 2% less of your income away for retirement in this public fund, at some point you had better think about tucking some away privately for your retirement - a novel idea.  The left will try to raise or eliminate the income ceiling, but at some point that removes the original premise, we were pretending it is your money stored securely by great bureaucrats in a lock box to return back to you in your old age.  

If they 'succeed' in raising the tax on the rich by the same 15.3% at the margin, they a) can't grow the economy, and b) they can't argue that what they turned into a giant redistributive plan is your money stored for you in a lockbox anymore.

It seems to me that sometime in the future only the poor from among America's wealthiest demographic group will be collecting the entitlement formerly known as Social Security.  Defund it and shrink it - that's fine with me.  I don't think Democrats of the 1960s (or 1930s) would think it was Republicans who blinked on this one.
Doc Fix and a number of similar tricks in CBO scoring:

Wesbury continued: "...the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) assumes that Congress will follow through on its 1997 agreement when it scores the budget.  So, the deficit forecast for the next decade assumes a cut in doctor reimbursements that everyone knows won’t happen."

Let's see, everyone knows CBO numbers are complete BS yet are quoted and relied on constantly.  When Republicans are done fighting Republicans maybe they can address structural problems that confront us.  Baseline budgeting (often attacked here and hardly anywhere else), static scoring and now this excellent point of Wesbury's - that CBO is scoring the letter of the law instead of what everyone knows is true.  These are things a real leader will need to address, attack and win on, if and when a leader emerges.  

Gingrich already promised a fix 18 years ago: "On the first day of their majority in the House, the Republicans promise to pass eight major reforms...8. guarantee an honest accounting of the Federal Budget by implementing zero base-line budgeting." They either never got it done or the fix did not last.  At least we know he is aware of the problem.  If Romney plans to take a CEO mentality to the job, a real CEO does not put up with basing important decisions on know to be bad numbers.  He certainly has a strong enough economic team to address that.
Wesbury on the pipeline: "From an economic point of view the pipeline is a no-brainer, making this the only economically sane part of this bill."

Hey, give Speaker Boehner some credit here!  smiley

The pipeline, like drilling, like fracking and just legalizing clean energy production in general is more than symbolic in sending a message to the country and to the world that America will be to pursuing economic strength and prosperity going forward.
5113  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government programs & regulations, spending, deficit, and budget process on: January 07, 2012, 01:10:03 PM
Crafty wrote:  Alright gents, answer this...  I'm thinking Romney or Santorum would have a hard time answering this in debate-- how about each of us?

Hey, that was some 40 posts back, where are those answers?!  Put it another way, either know and be able to articulate a rebuttal to Obamanomics or settle for you, your children and your grandchildren living their lifetimes in the transformed country that Pres. Obama and his Czars and central planners are building for you.  I will go through this drivel point by point, but would rather see the deceptions answered in a coherent and persuasive 60-90 second debate narrative, as Crafty indicated.  The piece contains the central thesis of the reelection, at least the best they can manufacture.

   - FWIW, this is the editorial page publishing an opposing view and these are the slanted underpinnings for a partisan stump speech written by an insider and co-conspirator.  He is highly credentialed but this is not a serious academic economic analysis.

"The Iowa caucuses presented the full range of views of the Republican hopefuls. When it came to fiscal strategy, however, there was almost no daylight among them."

   - FALSE. A view that they are all the same can only come from an opposing partisan setting up a series of straw arguments.  Reminds me of a white guy saying all blacks or Asians look alike.  If the author isn't interested or can't see the differences, then why comment.

"Each candidate decried the rise of government spending and wants to cut taxes."

    - FALSE and its a theme here.  It's the tax RATES that they want to cut, not cut revenues.  A professor of economics at the Univ. of Chicago knows the difference.  Shame on him.

"Again and again they noted that spending under President Obama rose to 25% of the economy in 2009, the highest in decades and well over the 20%-21% norm of the last 30 years." ( - TRUE!)

"To hear the GOP candidates tell it, this fact explains the deficit, explains America's long-run fiscal problem, and explains why new taxes cannot be tolerated. Congressional Republicans have the same outlook. The deficit is up thanks to government spending, so we must cut spending right now in every form."

    - FALSE,  Everyone of them knows that the under-performance of the private economy is the central problem.  Resources taken from the private economy for the public sector are just one of the causes of that under-performance.  Taxes and especially overly burdensome regulations comprise most of the rest.

"Yet the long-run fiscal problem facing the country—which is real—has almost nothing to do with the reasons that the deficit is currently large or that spending is abnormally high. They are high for the same reason taxes are abnormally low: because of the economic downturn. We should debate the real issues, not try to pretend the recession never happened."

    - FALSE!  What Republican is pretending the recession never happened?  Prof. Goolsbee, OTOH, pretends that the economic stagnation is like weather; this recession is like a rain certain to be followed by sunshine just by waiting or doing more of the same.  This recession/stagnation was and is a GOVERNMENT CAUSED DOWNTURN and as a top adviser, former chief economic adviser, he was right there at the table where they failed to identify either the correct cause or solution to the mess.

"The Congressional Budget Office forecast a $1.2 trillion deficit before the Obama administration even came into office."

    - DECEPTIVE to say the least.  Yes the pundits and voters will look at the calendar days of the Obama Occupy the White House movement but everyone who was alive and paying attention knows that domestic power in Washington DC changed hands in the Nov 2006 election.  The CBO forecast he sites is from the Pelosi-Reid-Obama-Hillary-Biden 'non-partisan' CBO scoring the budget passed by the Pelosi-Reid-Obama-Hillary-Biden congress signed by Bush 'before the Obama administration even came into office'.   The downturn was under THEIR watch as well, including SEN. Obama always supporting or voting with the majority, and the emergency measures coming into the 2008 election and during the transition period were made in 100% consultation and agreement with the incoming Obama administration.  Spin that some other way if you would like, but the investors and employers in the economy were wide awake heading into the tax rate increases and the host of new programs and regulations impending beyond their worst nightmare of imagination when the asset selloff began and when the collapse of housing and employment ensued.

"The stimulus added only around $250 billion a year, and more than one-third of that came from tax cuts, especially the tax credit in the stimulus bill's "Making Work Pay" provision."

    - This is 4 years later! "ONLY" a quarter trillion/yr. is a TRILLION in 4 years and it wasn't a stimulus if it didn't stimulate and it doesn't count the QEx, nationalization of autos and host of other excesses.  If you didn't know that then, surely you know that now as the chief outgoing economic adviser.  And not all tax cuts are created equal.  Some stimulate economic activity and others give up revenues without improving incentives whatsoever.  Some are targeted to constituent voting groups and some apply to all, especially those inclined to hire and produce.  Guess which types the Obama administration working the first 2 years with a 100% Dem congress chose??

"Most of the increase in the deficit during a downturn doesn't come from new policies in Washington. The deficit rises because both spending and taxes automatically adjust when the economy struggles. Unemployment insurance payments rise and more people qualify for Medicaid and food stamps. Incomes fall so people pay less taxes."

    - A theoretically truth, but FALSE in this case.  Spending sold as "emergency" and "temporary" in fact became the new benchmark used by same author and the administration and its allies to assail any reduction from emergency levels an act of war against the 99% and the weakest among us in particular.  Proof: After all the budget hysterics and pretend "cuts" of the past year under bitterly divided government, spending was up another 5% for the year.  What part of that spending was emergency?  None of it.  It was the why-waste-a-crisis crowd intentionally transforming American dependency on government.  BTW, we aren't in a recession (and the downturn did come from new government policies).  We are in the new American economy operating exactly as it should be under the disincentives scheme designed by Prof. Goolsbee et al and legislated and signed by the side he is defending.

"It's completely normal that spending rises during big downturns. The government's share of the economy jumped significantly during the big recessions in the 1970s and '80s. As the economy grows back to health, the government share of the economy will fall (and many analysts forecast just that for the coming year)."

    - WHY should the economy grow back to health.  Doing more and more of the same and expecting a different result is WHAT?? (definition of insanity?)

"The same dynamic applies to tax revenues. You would think that—using the same logic they apply to the rise of government spending—the GOP candidates would be trumpeting the last three years as one of the greatest tax cutting periods of the century."

    - BLATANTLY FALSE!!  If anyone would believe this drivel then I would put it with falsely shouting fire in a crowded theater - perhaps not protected speech.  Do they need that level of LIE to run on their record?  Once again, a fully educated economist intentionally confuses tax rates with tax revenues for political deception purposes.  The frontrunners are NOT trying to lower government revenues.  Maybe Ron Paul would lower revenues AND balance the budget, but that blows the Professor's first premise that he (blindly) can't see any daylight between any of them.

"The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center's data predict that in 2011 taxes will have fallen more as a share of national income than during almost any other comparable period in U.S. history (including under Ronald Reagan) and may hit their lowest level since World War II: 14.4% of GDP, compared with the more than 18% average of the last 30 years. Individual income taxes may hit their lowest level as a share of income since 1950 and corporate income taxes the lowest since 1936.

The deficit shot up in basically equal measure from taxes falling and spending rising. Spending rose to 25% of GDP from 20.5% in the recession and soon it will fall back down. Taxes fell to 14.5% of GDP from 18.5% and will also return to more normal levels."

    - Again, he implies a bad economy was happenstance rather than admit it was a government policies caused event.  We avoided large downturns for almost a quarter century by keeping mostly in place the Reagan pro-growth agenda, even with reform in the late 80s, smaller increases under HW Bush and the early Clinton years.  But this economy IS the new normal.  What changed?  He doesn't say here but if pressed I'm sure he would say Bush's fault.

"The true fiscal challenge is 10, 20 and 30 years down the road. An aging population and rising health-care costs mean that spending will rise again and imply a larger size of government than we have ever had but with all the growth coming from entitlements—while projected federal revenues as a percentage of GDP after the rate cuts of the 2000s will likely remain below even historic levels of 18%."

    - FALSE.  The true challenge is get off the slow growth or no-growth trajectory of the current policies and to minimize the amount of debt we accumulate during this wasted 4-8 years of 'transformation' BEFORE the worsening demographics fully set in.

"To hear the Republican candidates, you would think our problems were about discretionary spending running wild."

    - FALSE.  Does anyone remember the sensation of 9-9-9? That was all about unleashing economic growth running wild.  Or Pawlenty's plan highly acclaimed by Prof Taylor of Stanford, or Rick Perry's plan endorsed by Steve Forbes, or Gingrich's plan - all about regenerating economic growth and innovation, or Huntsman's or even Romney's Plan.  The centerpiece of NONE of them is slashing spending or starving seniors, our single most prosperous demographic group.

... Iowa showed us a series of candidates trying to outdo one another with condemnation for the short-term rise in spending while simultaneously proposing tax policies that would add trillions to the long-term deficit.

    - FALSE and when will we truly be rid of the proven false doctrine of static scoring?!?!  Growth at this point in the Reagan recovery was close to 8% and revenues in the 1980s DOUBLED! Good riddance to you and your team.

Mr. Goolsbee, a professor of economics at the University of Chicago's Booth School of Business, was chairman of President Obama's Council of Economic Advisers from 2010 to 2011.

    - Can you imagine investing your family's life savings in sending your kid to one of the top schools in the country and finding out this is the level of analysis being taught?  Did the professor writing about FISCAL challenges really not know that REGULATIONS are a tax on the economy or simply run out of space?  Did he not know or just wish to not say that under his watch 77,000 pages of new regulations were issued?  Did he not know that Obamacare impending is a tax on our economic growth and perhaps the final nail in the coffin of new hiring?  Did he forget to notice the differences between these candidates and his policies prohibited energy development and blocked pipelines that are taxes on our growth?  Did he not know that the perpetual cloud of expiring Bush-Obama tax rate cuts is a huge tax on our economy that yields all the destruction and no new revenues and same for the Harry Reid surcharge proposal on millionaires, the 24 new taxes in  Obamacare:  Republican are proposing plenty of remedies starting with canceling his new programs and reversing most of their new regulations, the question is whether anyone is listening and whether people would really prefer just more of the same policies, but expecting a different result.

My two cents.
5114  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Environmental issues on: January 07, 2012, 12:28:34 PM
JDN,  Thank you.  Your link confirms much of Hayward's point, 5 cities in Calif and 6 in the southwest came in worse than Pittsburgh yet that piece was all about slamming one city.  Also confirmed is the amazing improvements not mentioned in the original piece.  Particulate is one measurement and the standards give a good benchmark, but are arbitrarily set IMO. 

The same political movements decrying dirty air the loudest as I see it also want people to live more in centrally planned density.  But the air we breathe tends to be cleaner further away from the central cities, out in those xurban sprawl communities the planners so despise. 

The air quality monitors are mostly measured at the most dangerous intersections as I understand it but for scare purposes they count the number of people in danger for living anywhere in that county no matter the proximity.  That doesn't seem right.

The current political argument over emissions is almost 100% over CO2, not the filth that everyone opposes.  No one is proposing to build 1950s era autos, buses or coal plants today.

I wonder what the soot level would be if domestically produced clean natural gas was readily available as a transportation fuel? Ironically it is the same environmental groups working to block that production as well.
5115  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Environmental issues - Missing in the WSJ Pittsburgh story... on: January 07, 2012, 09:43:02 AM
Steven Hayward, author of 'Air Quality in America' reminds us on Powerline yesterday that the WSJ is home of famous editorial page but the rest of the reporting is often right out of MSM script.  You will need to read at the link to catch the graphs:

The Journal Blows a Story

The editorial page is the glory of the Wall Street Journal, which often reports the facts better than its news pages.  Today the Journal’s news pages feature a truly pathetic example of conventional, follow-the-crowd journalism with a story entitled “Pittsburgh Tries to Clear the Air on Pollution.”  It has every trope of superficial environmental news reporting and is simply a lazy and tarted-up version of an activist group’s press release—in this case, a local enviro group called the “Breathe Project,” which upon reading between the lines of the story is simply a cat’s paw for the usual suspects such as the Sierra Club.  It is another vindication of an observation the Washington Post’s longtime media critic Howard Kurtz once acknowledged: “Some reporters say privately that it is difficult to write stories that debunk the conventional wisdom of environmental activists, whom the press treats more deferentially than industry spokesmen and other lobbyists.”

The piece is almost comical in the lengths it goes to try to persuade people that air pollution in Pittsburgh is a serious problem, which may require “more regulation,” naturally.  As the story reports,

    More than half of the residents here aren’t aware that Pittsburgh’s air ranks among the worst in the nation, according to a survey commissioned by the Heinz Endowments. Only 15% of residents feel that a “lot of work” needs to be done on it.

    “When you look back, we had problems when we had the mills,” said Richard Wilson, who said he does tai chi outside without worrying about the air. “The air in Pittsburgh is pretty good.”

    Sentiments like that prompted Breathe to launch a $500,000 media campaign that includes ads on TV, in newspapers, on billboards, on the sides of buses and at the homes of the Steelers and Penguins.

One of the real howlers in this excerpt is what I call the “reverse Lake Woebegone Effect,” namely, that Pittsburgh’s air is among “the worst in the nation.”  Turns out the American Lung Association’s annual report on air pollution—a shoddy report I’ve repeatedly called “a smoldering stogie of misinformation”—always has local versions of a press release that say each metropolitan area suffers from “some of the worst air pollution” in the nation.  I did a Nexis search for the phrase “smog” and “some of the worst” a few years ago, and discovered the phrase in press coverage in dozens of American cities.  Of course, if everyone has about the same level (which is true for just about every place except the region that actually does have the highest air pollution levels—California), then no one has air that is notably “worse” than everybody else.  But it’s always good for the harum-scarum narrative that environmentalists and regulators can’t do without.

The Journal story is entirely typical of media malpractice for its complete absence of data.  Reporters ought to ask—but never do—what the underlying trend is, and how ambient conditions measure up against Clean Air Act standards.  Air pollution in Pittsburgh, like everywhere else in America, is declining, as a check of the EPA’s data would show.  Apparently this was too much trouble for the Journal reporter, Kris Maher, to do, even though the EPA now has a very user-friendly site where you can check both ozone levels and particle pollution levels on a monitor-by-monitor basis.  Pittsburgh currently meets the Clean Air Act standard for particulates (fine particulate pollution levels have declined 22 percent over the last decade), and is only slightly above the current very tight ozone standard.

This makes all the more comical this paragraph:

    One example of Pittsburgh’s new focus as a tech hub is Google Inc.’s 200-worker office here. The employees work on online commerce and data storage, among other things, a company spokesman said. The office added 50 people in 2011, but the city’s air quality is a “big problem” when it comes to recruiting employees to work here, said Andrew Moore, a Google vice president and head of the operation.

    “If we can’t offer [clean air and clean water] to employees we need to recruit to fill the jobs of the future, then we will lose them to those cities that do,” said Mr. Moore, who backs the Breathe Project.

Hmm.  How do ozone and particulate pollution levels compare between Pittsburgh and Google’s home office in Silicon Valley?  Google also has a large office in Atlanta—are air pollution levels in Atlanta also an impediment to recruiting workers?  Let’s look first at the data for fine particles (known as “PM2.5” in the trade).

Figure 1: Fine Particulate Levels in Pittsburgh and Atlanta

The story for ozone is a little more complicated, because there isn’t complete data for Sunnyvale (the closest EPA monitor to Google’s headquarters in Mountain View), but the figure below shows that Pittsburgh not only has a lower ozone level than Atlanta, but has been flirting with attainment of the 0.75 8-hour ozone standard for the last few years.  Sunnyvale has been in attainment of the ozone standard, but as you can see from the figure Pittsburgh is not notably worse than Sunnyvale on ozone either.

Figure 2: Ozone Levels in Pittsburgh, Atlanta, and Sunnyvale

Conclusion: the Journal reporter is a dupe.  The Google manager is a fool.

P.S. As my last witness, I offer Seymour Garte, professor of public health at the University of Pittsburgh (someone the Journal ought to have called as an expert source on this story) who wrote a terrific book entitled Where We Stand: A Surprising Look at the Real State of Our Planet.  Prof. Garte relates the story of attending a professional conference in Europe, where he was struck by the data from a speaker showing steadily declining air pollution trends, being surprised by the data, and being even more surprised to hear the speaker say, “Everyone knows that air pollution levels are constantly decreasing everywhere.”  “I looked around the room,” Prof. Garte writes:

    I was not the only nonexpert there.  Most of my other colleagues were also not atmospheric or air pollution specialists.  Later I asked one of them, a close friend, if he had known that air pollution levels were constantly decreasing throughout Europe and the United States on a yearly basis.  “I had no idea,” he said.  It certainly was news to me.  Even though I was a professor of environmental health and had been actively involved in many aspects of air pollution research for many years, that simple fact had somehow escaped me. . .  I had certainly never seen it published in the media.

Well, if you’re reading the Wall Street Journal in Pittsburgh today, you still aren’t getting an accurate account of the story.

Lastly, if you want to know more about all of this generally, see my Almanac of Environmental Trends website, or track down the book I wrote on this with Joel Schwartz, Air Quality in America: A Dose of Reality on Air Pollution Levels, Trends, and Health Risks.  - Steven Hayward at Powerline
5116  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Our Troops in Action on: January 05, 2012, 02:53:07 PM
Good story. "We deserved to lose a few guys"?  What a jerk.  Ventura was part of UDT (underwater demolition team) 8 years before they merged with Seals.
He is also the most prominent of 9/11 truthers.  sad  Don't get him started on the JFK assassination.
5117  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Housing/Mortgage - Fed says expand Fannie, Freddie role to aid housing on: January 05, 2012, 12:07:03 AM
I'll try to be calm with my comment but I am thinking that after a fair trial I would hang these people for treason.

(Reuters) - The U.S. government-run mortgage finance firms Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac could play a bigger role in turning around the battered U.S. housing market, the Federal Reserve told Congress, a call that looks set to run into stiff political opposition.

The Fed, in a paper sent to lawmakers on Wednesday, outlined an array of steps that could be taken to help the housing sector, including allowing Fannie and Freddie to provide cheaper mortgages to a broader pool of homeowners.
5118  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government programs for the top 0.0005% on: January 05, 2012, 12:01:59 AM
In a country of 307,000,000, roughly 1500 people bought the US taxpayer subsidized Chevy Volt flammable electric golf cart.  You do the math.  A good number of those subsidized rich people already own at least one subsidized Prius.

The average Volt buyer makes $170,000 per year, roughly the same as a US Senator or a judge on the US Court of Appeals.

So much for the war on poverty.
5119  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential - Iowa stereotypes on: January 04, 2012, 12:50:00 PM
Great video.  Around here they say the best thing to come out of Iowa is Interstate 35.

The unemployment rate in Iowa is 5.7%, not exactly typical of the national economic problems.

US News says Des Moines is the richest metro, adjusted for a low cost of living:

On Iowans minds this morning isn't the caucus result, but the basketball team visiting MN with a chance for back to back road wins after beating no.11 Wisc. over the weekend.
5120  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: January 04, 2012, 12:18:18 PM
"Iowa is not a GOP kingmaker "

Very true.  For one thing it is a smaller, skewed sample of mostly activists attending a caucus, not simply voting.  It tells us more about who did not resonate.  A better question would be: who won the nomination after winning both Iowa and New Hampshire?

Bachmann is out.  Perry wants a try at South Carolina and Huntsman wants to try New Hampshire.  Iowa is a big loss for Newt.  It was all his to lose, so to speak, a very short time ago.  Even if Santorum had won, he is irrelevant going forward unless he can convert it into momentum elsewhere. Unlikely IMO. The more they stay in and split votes, the more states Romney that will win.

The Republican party and Ron Paul and his supporters will have to figure out to do with that love-hate relationship (mostly hate), but he is the one not likely to ever drop out.
5121  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cognitive dissonance of the left: DNC Wasserman Schultz on: January 04, 2012, 11:34:42 AM
Is she stupid (no) or does she just think we are? (maybe)  Perfect Soviet-Orwellian talking.  Romney won a close Iowa caucus that he almost didn't enter and trailed badly 10 days ago, but she says a win is a loss.  Reasoning: because of money.

The point she is trying to make is that the money and establishment advantage didn't buy that many votes.  Meanwhile her guy is the establishment with the big money advantage.

2 million jobs lost, I wouldn't want her job spinning these facts.
5122  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Newt Gingrich on: January 04, 2012, 11:16:29 AM
"Newt had a great concession speech last night.  URL anyone?"

Here he is suggesting interest in an anti-Romney alliance with Santorum, whatever on earth that means:

The only way that would work now IMO would be for Newt to put ego aside and run now on a Santorum-Gingrich ticket.  That won't happen and wouldn't win.

How about an anti-Obama, anti-left wing alliance.  Once again they are losing the focus of the mission.  Seven people think this is about them.  Wrong.  It is about us. 
5123  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Pathological Science - climate refugees on: January 04, 2012, 10:42:16 AM
BBG,  In the US, the climate refugee status is that people are still fleeing cold weather and choosing to live where it is warmer.

If warming continues at this rate, Duluth harbor of Lake Superior will soon (50,000 years?) be the new San Diego and they will all come back, but for now they are still ice fishing on the world's largest freshwater lake:
5124  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: January 03, 2012, 05:00:46 PM
People say the negative ads on Gingrich in Iowa brought him down but the collapse happened in national polls at the same. 

There is talk of Dems voting Ron Paul in Iowa to screw things up.  Going to a caucus is time consuming and public.  Most precincts in Iowa are not very anonymous; people know their neighbors and discuss issues and candidates.  Going to support someone you don't really support doesn't sound plausible in large numbers.

Dropping out was Pawlenty's second biggest mistake.  The strategies he took in the campaign were the biggest.

Romney wrapping this up early is fine with me.  I have said I think he has a 50% chance of being a great President.  He is smart enough, competent enough and conservative enough to draw a stark contrast in terms of policies, philosophy and direction with the incumbent.  The details of fixing this mess will be partly written in congress anyway.  Amazing skills of persuasion and a mandate will be needed to ever get the 60 votes in the Senate needed to do anything.  Electing a polarizing President would only make that harder.

I would still like to see Rick Perry redeem himself as the most serious alternative, if not Newt.  If both finish behind Santorum and Paul, that leaves a very muddled second string.
5125  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Economics: (going on) six years since Nov 2006 on: January 03, 2012, 04:28:40 PM
"Real GDP grew just 1.2% annualized during the first three quarters of 2011. This will climb to about 1.75% if the consensus forecast is right about Q4."

I did not realize the actual numbers were this bad. 

Forecast of 3% by BW means more of the same, as he sees it.  This is under break-even growth. Why would it turn around now?

Growth under pro-growth policies coming out of depths this deep should be at least 6-8%.  We have done nothing in terms of addressing underlying problems in the economy.  We went from moving like freight train in the wrong direction with new programs, new spending, new taxes and new regulations to gridlock.  I guess that means the problem is about half solved.

The only good news in the numbers is that in 2011 we got one wasted year closer to the possibility of ending the economic policies of decline that we have chosen since Nov. 2006.
5126  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Pathological Science on: January 03, 2012, 09:46:22 AM
Just as clear as the theory of warming tied to CO2 increases is the evidence that earth in its history of cycles has temperature correction mechanisms.  When we simplify down to warming theory without taking account of the opposing forces, we have over-simplified.

Your point about uneven warming is good.  I still live in the north country, 10 degrees F. this morning, would have been 9.5? ) and I don't believe anyone's anecdotal story here that they notice a one degree difference from their childhood.  We make a 120 degree adjustment every year with little problem.  I saw as many kids out playing on the rinks during Christmas vacation as I would normally see on the ball fields on a summer day.

I saw Copper Mountain Colo ski resort warning their customers that global warming could end mountain skiing so they were buy wind credits to offset their lift energy use a few years back and then I saw Snowbird Utah open until 4th of July last summer.  It is hard to get information that is global.  The B.E.S.T study covered only land surface temps, still only a portion of the planet.

Offered in good humor, but I will be happy to make the adjustment from Pinot to Cabernet while we sort this out.  
5127  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Pathological Science on: January 02, 2012, 08:59:00 PM
Chuck and others, I appreciate the thoughtful posts.

I understand the theory of CO2 and warming.  Also true is that warmer air holds more CO2 than cooler air.  Correct?  You swerve into the answer as to why there is not a straight line warming trend, what some call negative feedback factors, along with many other poorly understood variables at work.  The main negative feedback may be through waster vapor and clouds, but another is that plants accelerate growth with elevated CO2 levels and convert the CO2 back to O2.  True?

"I'm perfectly comfortable saying that I don't have the answer to this question." [What is the current rate of warming and what percentage of that is directly attributable to man's use of fossil fuels?]

That is the right answer IMO.  Unfortunately it doesn't get us anywhere.  I believe you started with: "I fail to see any real talk about the underlying science".  The theories and models all fail to include all aspects of all variables.  What we are left with is measurements which seem so difficult to get right.

My next question would have been: what amount of warming should we have had over the last say 50 years at this point coming out of the little ice age or wherever we happen to be in earth's cycles - as compared with actual warming. (also unanswerable?)

True skeptics I think believe in warming as a very small amount, and believe in the human contribution to that but in even much smaller amounts.  Add to that, the timeframe that humans will be heavily dependent on decayed plants as the primary energy source is likely to be only for a very small blip in earth's history, and the planet is far more resilient (IMO) than some are saying.

"If these scientists were convinced they were correct but couldn't convince other people, then to them this is no longer a science issue but rather an issue of messaging and marketing."

As GM pointed out, at that point in their career they became messagers and marketers, no longer scientists.  I believe the answer to why that happened is agenda, pressure and dollars.  There is agenda based thinking IMO that found its way into how some scientists see, choose or adjust data.  There is peer pressure that rises above or through peer review,  and there is the fact that some level of alarmism is necessary to maintain high  levels of funding, the lifeblood of the profession.  There is nothing exciting or newsworthy about running a multimillion dollar study and concluding the earth is doing just fine.  In my observation, the earth is doing just fine.

My introduction to skepticism goes back nearly 20 years IIRC to a press release of a study that came out of NCAR in Boulder where I had a personal connection.  The statement reported by the press was quite bold so I took the time to dig read through the summary and conclusions in the study and found that the press version was a very bad exaggeration that was not actually stated in the summary or conclusions of the study.  Then I dug in further to the fine print and found that the data and analysis in the study did not even support the lesser claims made in the conclusions of the various sections in the study.  The conclusion was very obviously written by different people than those who conducted the study and analyzed the data and the press release was certainly not written by scientists at all.  What the public was told was 2 levels removed from the truth, the actual data and analysis of the data by the scientists.  

Whoever wrote those press releases seems to have won the argument in the 'science' industry and now we see from emails that the 'scientists' were scrambling to find data to fit their theory.  That is not science.

There is no theory or model today that correctly predicts the past, much less the future.
5128  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Housing/Mortgage/Real Estate - home mortgage deduction continued on: January 02, 2012, 07:49:32 PM
JDN, no problem.  Just to clarify, my opinion would be different if we were designing a tax system from scratch instead of discussing what changes we can make immediately to a deduction perhaps a hundred million people count on if you include the dependents in the home. 

Crafty posted a story a short while back about high tax rates and everything people did to not pay them.  Home mortgage interest is probably first on that list.  If you are higher income and in a higher tax bracket, you can't afford to not be all consumed in home debt or you will killed with an income tax bill.  That is an upside down incentive.  What brings more financial security than the day you pay off your mortgage, instead we punish you.  People would not have supported 70% or 90% tax rates back then if people really had to pay them.  Today they wouldn't support 39.6% federal and a roughly 50% combined rate in states like yours or mine if they really had to pay all that.  Cut spending first and then cut tax rates dramatically and maybe then people will accept and survive losing their favorite loophole.

Your first quote in the 2nd paragraph is Crafty's, not mine. I also found it very well put and agree  wholeheartedly.

I did post the original piece on Canada; I like looking across the world and back through history for economic lessons.  That doesn't mean I wish to emulate them, just learn all that we can.
5129  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Anti-semitism & Jews - John Maynard Keynes on: January 02, 2012, 12:41:36 PM
"[Jews] have in them deep-rooted instincts that are antagonistic and therefore repulsive to the European, and their presence among us is a living example of the insurmountable difficulties that exist in merging race characteristics, in making cats love dogs …"

"It is not agreeable to see civilization so under the ugly thumbs of its impure Jews who have all the money and the power and brains."
5130  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Housing - Should a mortgage be deductible? on: January 02, 2012, 12:01:41 PM
(From Canada-US thread)  JDN writes: "I agree, the government has no business being in the business of encouraging home ownership.  Doug, are you therefore saying that the mortgage deduction (government intervention) should be immediately repealed?"

You don't have to guess my view (or put words in my mouth).  I have a long record here and will be happy to post again.

The point over there was that banking regulators have no business being in the business of promoting larger home ownership borrowing at the expense of creditworthiness, regardless of anyone's view on home interest deductions.  If we want a home ownership preference, it should done in plain sight - with spending or by continuing the existing deduction.  That system has worked pretty well so it isn't one of the first thousand things I would change if suddenly my view mattered.

I don't like any deductions other than those that help calculate income accurately.  The rest is social engineering.  That said, home ownership is our best social engineering project.  I would eliminate that only after eliminating every other wasted deduction and wasted spending program, when we are down to a small constitutional federal government with a low single digit tax rate - which means closer to never than immediate.

I supported the Perry plan as the closest serious political proposal to taxing all income the same no matter who earns it or how.  He lowers the rate to 20% (instead of the then more popular 9% proposal) but keeps a personal deduction until you are above poverty level and keeps the mortgage and charitable deductions.

When I buy property, I require of myself that all purchases would have to make sense even if there was no tax deduction and no appreciation - or don't buy.  I will not rely on a break from the government or an uncertain future value for a major investment to make sense.  Not true for others.  In the housing thread, Pat P. made clear that housing would go from crisis to collapse if we eliminate that deduction now.  That would not solve any current problem.  In housing people make long term decisions while government can change the rules on a whim.  That is why proposals like Gingrich and Perry's maintain the taxpayers choice of using the old system.

What we call 'encouraging home ownership' really should be called encouraging home 'borrowing'.  I have no idea what a zero equity "purchase" lent at a variable rate to people ready to walk at the first sign of trouble has to do with owning a home or bringing stability to a neighborhood.  
5131  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cognitive dissonance of the left: Krugman - We need more deficit spending! on: January 02, 2012, 10:43:17 AM
You can't make this stuff up.  I have used some of the same logic to explain how we could have survived our massive debt if we had gotten our act together a couple of years ago, grown the economy and stopped adding to the debt.  But Krugman still wants more.  At 15 trillion with deficits still over a trillion a year in 2012, he still wants more:

"We need more, not less, government spending to get us out of our unemployment trap. And the wrongheaded, ill-informed obsession with debt is standing in the way. "

Hard to point out he is wrong when he does that for you:

"Taxes must be levied to pay the interest, and you don’t have to be a right-wing ideologue to concede that taxes impose some cost on the economy, if nothing else by causing a diversion of resources away from productive activities into tax avoidance and evasion."
5132  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Canada-US on: January 02, 2012, 09:31:38 AM
"the issue is the concept by which the regulation is justified.  If the regulation is to enforce transparency in mortgage language, that is in support of free market principles and as such is fine.  If the regulation is to “encourage home ownership”, that is government intervention in the market and, as we see from the economic chaos that has ensued from such policies it is NOT fine."

Yes. The justification for bank regulation was -  don't take bad risks because we insure your deposits.  From there we jumped to encouraging home ownership above requiring creditworthiness based on a different justification for government action: 'Hey, we amassed all this power, let's do some good with it!'

"whether you blame the government or the corporations ... is there a free-market  (i.e. unregulated) solution to keep banks from doing this again?"

Looking at it the other way, 'what can the people can do to keep their government regulators from doing this again'?  

"As mentioned in the previous thread (Political Economics), the Harper government in Canada just dropped corporate taxes by 1.5% to 15%.  That will equate roughly to 33 billion annually given back to Canadian corporations."

TD, do you intend to say there will be no recovery of the lost revenues from new revenues generated?  Corporate income is a fixed number?  I disagree.  Let's see in a year.

"33 billion annually given back to Canadian corporations"

A funny way of looking at it.  Even at a lower rate, the who is giving to whom seems backwards.  Not that corporations give freely, but govt is now taking at a slightly lower rate.  When a retailers lowers their price do they assume the same amount of transactions?  If so why do they do it?  Assuming corporations are in the business of making money, why would they not use that 'gift' to make more money, build, buy, hire, expand which all lead to a host of other taxes to be paid including more corporate income tax.  If they will not use the money for those purposes, why not?

5133  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Pathological Science - The Earth has a Fever on: January 01, 2012, 11:03:37 PM
"I fail to see any real talk about the underlying science which is where I think that people should concentrate and not on a lot of extraneous noise.  The bottom line is that the law of conservation of energy hasn't changed so IN - OUT still equals ACCUMULATION.  Accordingly if you change the rate at which energy leaves the planet, then you accumulate heat which we see as a temperature rise.  Greenhouse gases do exist of which carbon dioxide is one.  The infrared absorption spectra of water vapor and carbon dioxide, while similar, do not completely overlap which means that increases in the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will lead to increased absorption of infrared light."

I'm all ears.  What is the current rate of warming and what percentage of that is directly attributable to man's use of fossil fuels?  Do you prefer nuclear?
5134  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics - Canada on: December 30, 2011, 10:46:10 PM
Thank you Crafty for getting the feedback from over the border.  To be clear, I did not assume all is good or solved in Canada. They just seem to be performing better than most places right now. The info I looked up was that individual rates were dropping to 29%.  I didn't post that because I didn't know rest of the details like what Tricky Dog comments - if deductions changed or offsetting tax increases.

The general point is that incentives are a little better overall I think, though not as good as claimed, and the economy is relatively strong.  

Certainly the energy policies improve personal income, corporate income and government revenues.
This discussion brings out an important point, there are two very different effects that come out of the tax policies:

1) The marginal rate, especially the top marginal rate, is the key indicator for incentive vs. disincentive to make an additional investment, to build, to grow, to hire, and

2) the total tax tells you how much money you transferred out of people's pockets over to the public treasury.

If you leave the tax rates the same but eliminate deductions, people lose more money to the government, all other things were held equal.  In that situation, a person might actually try to work more to replace income lost (or go broke).  Overall, the private economy is worse because people have less to spend and cut back their buying, without offsetting pro-growth policies.

In supply side policies, you typically lower the marginal tax rate for the next dollar earned.  If you end up collecting more in total it is because of the business that unleashes, not leaving people with less.  

Sounds like the Canadian plan and most proposals like that here have both of those qualities: lower the marginal rate but with other offsets like closing so-called loopholes that were yesterday's great idea to stimulate something.  On balance, it is probably a good thing anytime the marginal rate is cut significantly, but it depends on the rest of the details!
Last point: "...debt - which the corporate break will exacerbate significantly. "

If I read it correctly, the top federal corp tax rate in Canada was 19.5% 2008, 19% 2009, 18% 2010, 16.5% 2011 and 15% effective January 1, 2012. (Plus substantial provincial rates)  For one thing, that is an incentive to defer income into the out-years.

It will be interesting to see if revenues collected at the lower rates actually go down.  I predict revenues instead will grow but that debt will go up anyway, if it is like here (and like GM points out), because of spending.
5135  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Education on: December 30, 2011, 08:41:44 PM
"Let us know what you/she decide."

That's really nice.  It's certainly her decision and I will keep you posted.  She rules out engineering and most sciences for a major even though she would be good at it and her Grandma broke that ground over 60 years ago and would love to get her the institute of technology tours and introductions.  I have suggested the opportunities for high end math in business applications.  We will see.

Further complicating the decision is the negative effect that federal Title IX has on limiting her opportunities to play college varsity sports.
5136  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Education on: December 30, 2011, 04:09:53 PM
"Hey, buy a house, it's a great long term investment....... "

At about 15 cents on the dollar, I am still bullish on home purchasing.  Just worn out.  Pretty good analogy though, because if people actually did buy instead of borrow for the education or the house, they would in general be better off for owning it. 

If you can afford to not work the first 4 years of adulthood and pay the costs, a 4 year degree in personal growth and human knowledge is a wonderful foundation before learning a marketable skill like running a business, designing a bridge or diagnosing a patient.  Same degree with a quarter million in debt and no marketable skill and now you need to go work, maybe not.

I have not found an explanation on or off the board as to why it is okay that the rate charged is different for everyone.  Try pricing rent or food differently to different people.  Some colleges have so much as told us the price is negotiable.  For a kid with a great application, it looks like play money.  She got a 16k award in the mail the other day and she just laughed, knowing that was a drop in the bucket, still far from affordable.  We still don't have a financial plan.
The other theme GM had was STEM.  For others that means Science, technology, engineering, math.  Thinking of two successful relatives in business, different sides of the family, one got the PhD in Math and the other in Physics, neither doing what you would think of as directly working in that field, but the credentials proved the foundation to move forward.  My advice to my daughter is along those lines, do something that you are good at, that sounds really hard, that is relevant and needed and in scarce supply, and do it at a place that is widely respected.  Not just put in 4 years.
5137  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: December 30, 2011, 02:14:44 PM
"Each has pros AND cons."

The energy use today is a fact, not an issue.  The choice of sending the dollars and jobs out instead of producing here is a part of a larger policy of choosing economic decline, and it didn't make the planet any cleaner.
5138  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: December 30, 2011, 01:20:57 PM
Working properly, a pipeline transports the oil inside the pipe.  smiley   The issue at hand is constuent group politics versus jobs and earned dollars in the economy - an easy choice for the President.  Freighters and vessels and trucks burn oil and pollute and crash more often than a pipeline.  We already have pipelines from Canada and pipelines inside the US.  How do people think natural gas gets around?

"I don't follow the drilling arguments closely."  - Other than mistakes and catastrophes, it is a very clean process.  The caribou were all for it.  The Alaskans are for it.  The North Dakotans are for it.  The Texans are for it.  But the Feds don't want you to do it.  In some areas, they own all the land.

We drove past the largest refinery in the region recently from an 8 hour round trip drive to a college visit.  My daughter commented on the plume of steam going into the air (extremely clean steam compared to how they used to be).  I don't know if she recognized the irony even with my pointing it out, that not wanting energy produced isn't compatible with all these non-essential drives that make up her life; there are perhaps a hundred colleges closer.  Much worse for business travel.  We could let the Chinese do that.  sad

If you want homes heated now, natural gas is the best answer.  If you want mobility, oil.  If you want alternating current at the outlet, then you will need coal and nuclear at the power plants.  For hobbies, I like wind and solar.  Our economy has energy requirements.  Earning income, enjoying freedom and building prosperity all involve energy consumption.  Consumption requires production somewhere.  If you don't produce it here, you will pipe dollars and jobs out in amounts that make the cost of two wars look like childs' play, and we are. Regulation to make production as clean and safe as currently and reasonably possible are great.  Policies that stop energy production in its tracks just punishes ourselves and is one of the ways we are screwing ourselves over for decades if not generations. 

One big argument against drilling in ANWR is that it would take 10 years to get up and running!  What do we care about oil 10 years from now?  That was more than 20 years ago.  Now we fund 'ugo to buy bad things from Mahkmoud with the same money.  And then deploy forces to stop them?  Who knew?

Look back ten years.  All that bickering about who got invited to Dick Cheney's energy commission.  No plan was ever implemented.  Just worse and worse public policies.  We have far more control over how safe and how clean our energy is produced and same for the other products manufactured if we do it here.
5139  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: December 30, 2011, 12:08:13 PM
You have points of agreement in there but I must say that if you would rather the U.S. buy our needed energy from Venezuela than from America, which causes our costs go up, our dollars to leave, our jobs lost, supports the wrong causes around the world, leaves us vulnerability to supply disruptions, we lose government revenues off the lost production, deficits, debt and interest payments forever on those losses, then I would rather defeat you than persuade you to think otherwise.

Is drilling "pollution" in Alberta really further from home than drilling "pollution" in ANWR.  Besides the straw argument of drilling pollution, I would check your map on that one.

The current issue is over a pipeline.  Is transport from Venezuela cleaner? (No!)
5140  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics, Canada continued on: December 30, 2011, 11:36:59 AM
The Canadian economy is closely tied to its largest trading partner, but avoided the housing crash for one thing because the CRAp (Community Reivestment Act program) did not apply to Canadian banks or houses.  Common sense regulations are as important as minimizing tax disincentives.

The Economist magazine stated that Canada had come out the recession stronger than any other rich country in the G7.

All is not perfect in Canada either, just noting current growth there that is very easy to do here.

'The Economist' notes the looming problems there, the national healthcare system in particular.  Once in place, those monstrosities are hard if not impossible to remove:

"But there is also a large dollop of good fortune behind Canada’s resilience. If parts of eastern Canada resemble Europe in economic terms, the west looks more like Brazil. Its mines, oil and gas producers and farmers have benefited from the commodity boom brought about by China’s appetite for raw materials. This boom brings a problem: it is helping to drive up the Canadian dollar, which risks making life more difficult for manufacturers back east. And Canada’s fiscal health will soon come under strain from the treasured but expensive public health-care system and an ageing population. There is little sign that the country’s politicians are ready to deal with either."
5141  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: December 30, 2011, 11:04:01 AM
"How about Canada?"

I have always like Canada; beautiful country and nice people.  They have an excellent National Health Care plan for example.   smiley   Canada's tax rate is approximately 10% higher than ours.   smiley   Further, Canada's income tax system is more heavily biased against the highest income earners versus the U.S.  smiley    Makes sense to me...     grin
The policy arrow in Canada shifted the opposite of ours.  Investors know it is becoming a better and better place to do business.  Investors here keep getting the wait and see message out of Washington so the 'smart money' sits on the sidelines or goes elsewhere. 

For all your Calif. expertise you probably shouldn't tell someone here about Canadian heathcare.  Whether you look at Duluth, MSP or Rochester, MN, not only the medical clinics but the restaurants and hotels here benefit greatly from Canadian healthcare.  Let's leave that to the healthcare threads.

The point of economic growth in Canada is that we used to outperform them.

The top federal income tax rate in Canada (29%) is not higher than in the US (39.6% after the Bush Obama 'temporary cut' expiration) and not counting the Harry Reid surcharge:

The top corporate rate in Canada is 15% effective Jan 1 2012: 

The top federal rate in the U.S is 35%.  Besides cuts in Canada, China cut its corp rate (Jan 2008) right while the US economy began tanking and Japan tried to, delayed by an earthquake.

Canada values energy production as a booming industry.  We prefer to pay Venezuela, subsidize Brazil and block pipelines out of Canada.

Government revenues come from private sector vigor.  The question is not what kind of political economic system did Canada use to be.  The question is: What changed?
5142  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 2012 Presidential - VEEPs? and Ron Paul 3rd party? on: December 30, 2011, 10:24:03 AM
First one comment that came out of Rove's predictions I think.  Ron Paul will not run as third party spoiler because his son Rand Paul, perhaps an up and coming star in the party, will be screwed in the party for life.

Too early for VP speculation but they do run as a ticket.  One story today notices that Michele Bachmann has ripped every anti-Romney candidate ruthlessly, but not Romney, fishing for VP consideration.  She won't be the pick.  Marco Rubio said he won't.  They all say that but I believe him.

Where better to go for inside GOP scoop than MSNBC interviewing a Politico writer?
Sen. Rob Portman (Ohio) Predicted As Romney VP Pick

By Mark Finkelstein | December 30, 2011 | 07:57

With not one Republican primary vote cast yet, we're getting way ahead of ourselves by speculating about whom Mitt Romney might pick as his vice-presidential running mate.  But Willie Geist did invite Politico's Mike Allen to make his "bold predictions" for 2012.  And Allen delivered, prognosticating that Romney would pick Ohio Republican Senator Rob Portman as his ticket-mate.

Mark Halperin strongly seconded Allen's assertion.  View the video after the jump.

Watch Allen make the case that the Romney campaign figures it should carry Florida without Marco Rubio on the ticket, whereas Portman could be more of the key to victory by helping to carry his home state of Ohio.

MIKE ALLEN: One of the first big stories in 2012, assuming Mitt Romney becomes the Republican nominee, however long it takes, who will be his vice-presidential pick?  A lot of people are looking at Marco Rubio in Florida; he's definitely on the list. But I think the most likely to be chosen, at the top of Mitt Romney's list, is Senator Rob Portman, Republican of Ohio.  Brings that important state, put it with Michigan, where Mitt Romney could be strong, and you would really have President Obama sweating, there in the industrial Midwest.

WILLIE GEIST: Now, what does Portman give him, Mitt Romney, if it is Mitt Romney, what does he give him over Marco Rubio?

ALLEN: It's a two-fer.  In addition to Ohio, and if Mitt Romney doesn't already have Florida he's already in trouble, so the Romney folks are hoping they're going to have Florida  without Marco Rubio.  Ohio would be a bit tougher call. So Rob Portman would be more helpful there.  Also, it's a governing pick.  He has experience on the Hill, both in the House and the Senate, in the White House as the Budget Director, and so he would bring a lot of gravitas, experience to this administration.   

MARK HALPERIN: I think this is an easy one.  First off, Mitt Romney is going to make a governing pick. He knows from history, the first, second and third obligation, both politically and substantively, is to pick someone ready to be president.  I think Rob Portman is head and shoulders above most of the other people who Mike mentioned on that score. Both the press and the public would look at him and say, yeah, that's responsible, that's somebody who's ready to president.  I think Chris Christie will also be considered. But I think on this one, somebody's going to  have to make a compelling case for me, for someone besides Portman, for me to think it's not headed in that direction, or should be, assuming Romney's the nominee.
5143  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Political Economics: Why the boom in Canada? on: December 30, 2011, 09:57:53 AM
Escaping mention in Krugman's drivel on Ireland is a better example much closer to home.  Besides the opportunity to reign in government, cut tax rates while increasing revenues, who else is sitting on a treasure trove of energy?

IBD Editorials
Tax Cuts, Less-Intrusive Gov't Help Canada Soar

 Posted 12/29/2011

Success: Away from the low growth and high regulation of an America under Washington's thumb, our northern neighbor is economically strong. As 2011 ends, Canada has announced yet another tax cut — and will soar even more.

The Obama administration and its economic czars have flailed about for years, baffled about how to get the U.S. economy growing.

In reality, the president need look no further than our neighbor, Canada, whose solid growth is the product of tax cuts, fiscal discipline, free trade, and energy development. That's made Canada a roaring puma nation, while its supposedly more powerful southern neighbor stands on the outside looking in.

On Thursday, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced that he will slash corporate taxes again on Jan. 1 in the final stage of his Economic Action Plan, dropping the federal business tax burden to just 15%.

Along with fresh tax cuts in provinces such as Alberta, total taxes for businesses in Canada will drop to 25%, one of the lowest in the G7, and below the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development average.

"Creating jobs and growth is our top priority," said Minister Jim Flaherty. "Through our government low-tax plan ... we are continuing to send the message that Canada is open for business and the best place to invest."

It's not just that Canada's conservative government favors makers over takers. Harper's also wildly popular for shrinking government. "The Harper government has pursued a strategic objective to disembed the federal state from the lives of citizens," wrote University of Calgary Professor Barry Cooper, in the Calgary Herald.

Harper also has made signing free trade treaties his priority. Canada now has 11 free trade pacts in force, and 14 under active negotiation — including pacts with the European Union and India, among others.

"We believe in free trade in Canada, we're a free-trading nation. That's the source of our strength, our quality of life, our economic strength," Flaherty said last month.

Lastly, Canada has pursued its competitive advantage — oil. And it did so not through top-down "industrial policy," but by getting government out of the way.

Harper has enacted market-friendly regulations to accomplish big things like the Keystone Pipeline — and urged President Obama to move forward on it or else Canada would sell its oil to China.

These policies have been well-known since the Reagan era. But in a country that's been institutionally socialist since the 1950s, Harper's moves represent a dramatic affirmation for free market economics.

For Canada, they've had big benefits.

Canada's incomes are rising, its unemployment is two percentage points below the U.S. rate, its currency is strengthening and it boasts Triple-A or equivalent sovereign ratings across the board from the five top international ratings agencies, lowering its cost of credit.

Is it too much to ask Washington to start paying attention to the Canadian success story?

These sound principles work every time they are tried, and they have led to a transformation in Canada.

Imagine what they could do in the U.S.
5144  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cognitive dissonance of the left: Krugman says govt spending is too low on: December 30, 2011, 09:46:17 AM
Keynes Was Right
Published: December 29, 2011

“The boom, not the slump, is the right time for austerity at the Treasury.” So declared John Maynard Keynes in 1937, even as F.D.R. was about to prove him right by trying to balance the budget too soon, sending the United States economy — which had been steadily recovering up to that point — into a severe recession. Slashing government spending in a depressed economy depresses the economy further; austerity should wait until a strong recovery is well under way.

Someone please show where this award winning economist / far left pundit called for spending austerity during the last boom.  I missed that column.  Which programs did he want cut and by how much?  Krugman swerves into the truth.  One reason for failure of all stimulus programs today is that we already swimming in government stimuli and simply can't feel any effect anymore from another tril or two.  Krugman points to Ireland.  How about Canada?
5145  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Politics: Karl Rove - Political Predictions for 2012 on: December 29, 2011, 10:57:58 AM
It makes sense to me. 
Political Predictions for 2012

By KARL ROVE     DECEMBER 29, 2011

As New Year's approaches, here are a baker's dozen predictions for 2012.

• Republicans will keep the U.S. House, albeit with their 25-seat majority slightly reduced. In the 10 presidential re-elections since 1936, the party in control of the White House has added House seats in seven contests and lost them in three. The average gain has been 12 seats. The largest pickup was 24 seats in 1944—but President Barack Obama is no FDR, despite what he said in his recent "60 Minutes" interview.

• Republicans will take the U.S. Senate. Of the 23 Democratic seats up in 2012, there are at least five vulnerable incumbents (Florida, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Pennsylvania): The GOP takes two or three of these. With the announcement on Tuesday that Nebraska's Ben Nelson will retire, there are now seven open Democratic seats (Connecticut, Hawaii, North Dakota, New Mexico, Virginia, Wisconsin): The GOP takes three or four. Even if Republicans lose one of the 10 seats they have up, they will have a net pickup of four to six seats, for a majority of 51 to 53.

• Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Sen. Harry Reid or both will leave the Democratic leadership by the end of 2012. Speaker John Boehner and Senator Mitch McConnell will continue directing the GOP in their respective chambers.

• This will be the fourth presidential election in a row in which turnout increases. This has happened just once since 1828, from 1928 through 1940.

• In 2008, voters told the Pew Poll that they got more election information from the Internet than from daily newspapers. Next year, that advantage will grow as the Internet closes in on television as America's principal source of campaign news.

• After failing to win the GOP presidential nomination, Ron Paul will not run as a third-party candidate because that would put his son, Rand Paul, in an untenable position: Does the Republican senator from Kentucky support his father and effectively re-elect Mr. Obama, or back his party and defeat him?
More: Election 2012

• Mr. Obama's signature health-care overhaul, already deeply unpopular, will become even more so by Election Day. Women voters are particularly opposed to ObamaCare, feeling it threatens their family's health.

• Mr. Obama may propose tax reform, attempting to use it to appeal both to his liberal base (a question of fairness) and independents (a reform to spur economic growth). This will fail, but not before boosting Mr. Obama's poll numbers.

• The Obama campaign won't corral high-profile Republican endorsements—as it did in 2008 with former Secretary of State Colin Powell—with the unimportant possible exception of former Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel. It will also make a special effort to diminish the GOP's advantage among military families, veterans and evangelicals, with the last a special target if Republicans nominate Mitt Romney.

• Despite an extraordinary amount of presidential time and involvement, Team Obama will fall as much as $200 million short of its $1 billion combined fund-raising target for the campaign and Democratic National Committee. Even so, Mr. Obama and Democrats will outspend the GOP nominee and Republicans. This won't necessarily translate into victory: John Kerry and Democrats outspent President George W. Bush and Republicans in 2004 by $124 million. Groups like American Crossroads (which I helped found) will narrow the Democratic money advantage.

• Scandals surrounding the now-bankrupt Solyndra, Fannie and Freddie, MF Global and administration insider deals still to emerge will metastasize, demolishing the president's image as a political outsider. By the election, the impression will harden that Mr. Obama is a modern Chicago-style patronage politician, using taxpayer dollars to reward political allies (like unions) and contributors (like Obama fund-raiser and Solyndra investor George Kaiser).

• To intimidate critics and provoke higher black turnout, Democrats will play the race card more than in any election since 1948. Witness Attorney General Eric Holder's recent charge that criticism of him and the president was "both due to the nature of our relationship and . . . the fact that we're both African-Americans."

• The economic recovery will continue to be anemic, leaving both unemployment and concerns about whether the president is up to the job high on Election Day. Because of this, Mr. Obama will lose as his margins drop among five groups essential to his 2008 victory—independents, women, Latinos, young people and Jews. While he will win a majority from at least three of these groups, he won't win them by as much as he did last time.

Predicting the future is always dangerous but conservatives believe in accountability, so let's see how well I do a year from now.
5146  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Political Economics: Michael Barone -The people want growth, not redistribuition on: December 29, 2011, 10:49:04 AM
"They miss growth when it is absent. They don't appreciate it so much when it is happening."

Voters want growth, not income redistribution
by Michael Barone

"A 2008 election widely regarded as heralding a shift toward the more government-friendly public sentiment of the New Deal and Great Society eras seems to have yielded just the reverse."

So writes William Galston, Brookings Institution scholar and deputy domestic adviser in the Clinton White House, in the New Republic. Galston, one of the smartest political and policy analysts around, has strong evidence for this conclusion.

He cites a recent Gallup poll showing that while 82 percent of Americans think it's extremely or very important to "grow and expand the economy" and 70 percent say it's similarly important to "increase equality of opportunity for people to get ahead," only 46 percent say it's important to "reduce the income and wealth gap between the rich and the poor" and 54 percent say this is only somewhat or not important.

In addition, by a 52 to 45 percent margin, Americans see the gap between the rich and the poor as an acceptable part of the economic system rather than a problem that needs to be fixed. In 1998, during the high-tech economic boom, Americans took the opposite view by the same margin.

As Galston notes, these findings suggest that Obama's much praised speech at Osawatomie, Kansas, decrying inequality, "may well reduce his chances of prevailing in a close race." Class warfare politics, as I have noted, hasn't produced a Democratic presidential victory in a long, long time.

Where Galston misses a step, I think, is that he seems to regard the move away from redistributionist politics in this time of economic stagnation as an anomaly in need of explanation. He seems to share the Obama Democrats' assumption that economic distress would make Americans more supportive of, or amenable to, big government policies.

That, after all, is what we have all been taught by the great and widely read New Deal historians, and that lesson has been absorbed by generations of politicians and political pundits.

I believe that historians have taught the wrong lessons about the 1930s. And I believe there is a plausible and probably correct reason why economic distress has apparently moved Americans to be less rather than more supportive of big government.

To understand the lessons of the 1930s, you need to read the election returns. Franklin Roosevelt's big victory in 1932 was a massive rejection of Republicans across the board. Republicans lost huge ground in urban and rural areas, in the West and Midwest and most of the East, even in their few redoubts in the South.

In 1936 FDR won re-election by a slightly larger margin, but with a different coalition. The rural and small town North returned to its long Republican allegiance, while Democrats made further big gains among immigrants and blue collar workers in big cities and factory towns.

The New Deal historians attributed these gains to Roosevelt's economic redistribution measures -- high tax rates on high earners, the pro-union Wagner Act, Social Security. These laws, the so-called Second New Deal, were passed in 1935. They replaced the different, non-redistributionist policies of the First New Deal that stopped the deflationary downward spiral underway when Roosevelt took office.

The problem with the historians' claims is that the shifts in the electorate apparent in 1936 also are apparent in the 1934 off-year elections. Democrats won big that year, but compared to 1932 they lost ground in rural areas and small towns and gained much ground in big cities and factory towns.

The 1936 realignment happened in 1934. It could not have been caused by redistributionist Second New Deal legislation, because it hadn't been passed before November 1934.

So why should voters be leery of economic redistribution in times of economic distress?

Perhaps because they realize that they stand to gain much more from a vibrantly growing economy than from redistribution of a stagnant economic pie. A growing economy produces many unanticipated opportunities. Redistribution edges toward a zero-sum game.

They miss growth when it is absent. They don't appreciate it so much when it is happening.

Roosevelt's 1934 and 1936 victories were won in periods of growth. After the economy shifted into recession in 1937, New Deal Democrats fared much worse, and Roosevelt won his third and fourth terms as a seasoned wartime leader, not an economic redistributor.

Lesson: If you want redistribution, you better first produce growth. Which the Obama Democrats' policies have failed to do.
5147  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Economics, the stock market , and other investment/savings strategies on: December 28, 2011, 10:49:12 AM
"some good things on the horizon (e.g. the US becoming the Saudi Arabia of natural gas) seems sound"

All are opposed by the current administration.  Wesbury is arguing about what economic growth will be coming into the election, warning Republicans not to count on bad economic news at election time.  Real recovery however hinges on a change in the policy arrow coming out of the election.

We are arguing essentially about how many tenths of a percent, within the margin of measurement error, we will be above or below 'breakeven growth' this year.  Economic growth coming out of a hole this deep should be twice that, more like 6-8% of sustained growth.

Wesbury is prognosticating what to do in this environment instead of what to do about this environment, which is fine - if you are in charge of deck chairs on the Titanic.

GM's examples of what could go wrong are in addition to the general measurements posted of global stagnation.  What is the US doing or proposing to do to lead the world out of this?  Federalizing police and fire, defunding social security, queuing health care and further debasement of our currency?  That oughtta do it.
5148  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq Democracy on: December 28, 2011, 10:25:25 AM
What do they call it, 2 wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner? Or is it one wolf and 2 sheep with the wolf counting the votes - same outcome.

"if Bremer did not make the foolish decision to disband the Iraqi Army, we wouldn't be needed in Iraq to maintain the peace."

There never was some easy answer for all of this.

"I'm not against 20,000 troops remaining."

Yes, that is the concept. Pull back, but maintain some presence and some readiness.  Dems used to argue for pulling our troops to the 'horizon', not complete abandonment.

"If Iraq falls apart now - screw em."

Iraq is globally strategic.  If Iraq falls apart, we are all screwed. What we fear from Iran is twice as large and more than twice as dangerous when Iran dominates Iraq.

"I never heard a plea for us to stay"

See Crafty's Allawi post!  

"For years, we have sought a strategic partnership with America to help us build the Iraq of our dreams: a nationalist, liberal, secular country, with democratic institutions and a democratic culture. But the American withdrawal may leave us with the Iraq of our nightmares: a country in which a partisan military protects a sectarian, self-serving regime rather than the people or the Constitution; the judiciary kowtows to those in power; and the nation’s wealth is captured by a corrupt elite rather than invested in the development of the nation...Unless America acts rapidly to help create a successful unity government, Iraq is doomed."

We didn't hear?  Or we didn't listen?
5149  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Politics: Sen. Ben Nelson D-NE is out! on: December 28, 2011, 09:58:03 AM
The Cornhusker kickback has kicked back.

Pres. Obama lost Nebraska by 15 points in 2008 and isn't nearly as popular now.  Every prominent Republican in NE is vying for the Senate seat or considering the opportunity.  Against these headwinds, Ben Nelson age 70, perhaps the most moderate of the remaining Dem Senators has decided that more time with family sounds better than defending his votes in Washington for Obamacare and the rest of the agenda back in the heartland.

Wash Post says Dems are left scrambling.  The Dem reaction in Nebraska to this is irrelevant; they have lost this seat.  The party in Washington would need to change if they wanted to be competitive in states like this.  I wonder how often Reid and Schumer ask each other, how will their government-centric agenda play in Nebraska?

This was considered one of the 6 tossups that will determine the majority in the Senate.
Payoffs for states get Harry Reid to 60 votes
top prosecutors in a half-dozen other states plan to challenge the constitutionality of a health care compromise that exempts Nebraska from paying billions in Medicaid expansion costs, forcing other states to shoulder a bigger burden for the low-income insurance program.

5150  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 2012 Presidential: Hinderacker at Powerline endorses Romney on: December 28, 2011, 09:17:41 AM
For President in 2012, Mitt Romney

December 27, 2011 by John Hinderaker -

It is time for Republicans to get serious. After flirting with just about every candidate in a large presidential field, is is time to come home to the one candidate who has the demonstrated ability to run the largest organization in the United States, the Executive Branch of the federal government; who has never been touched by the slightest taint of scandal; whose success in the private sector makes him the outsider that Republicans say they are looking for; and who has by far the best chance of beating President Obama: Mitt Romney.

The “anybody but Romney” mentality that grips many Republicans is, in my view, illogical. It led them to embrace Rick Perry, who turned out to be unable to articulate a conservative thought; Newt Gingrich, whose record is far more checkered than Romney’s; Ron Paul, whose foreign policy views–indistinguishable from those of the far left–and forays into racial intolerance make him unfit to be president; and Michele Bachmann, whom I like very much, but who is more qualified to be a rabble-rouser than a chief executive.

The knock on Romney is that he is “not a real conservative.” Well, I am sure he is not as conservative as I am. But he has a solid record of conservative accomplishment as governor of Massachusetts, and if you check out his economic plan, you will find it to be entirely Reaganite, updated for the crisis we face today. The “Romney isn’t conservative” meme is, frankly, a little weird: in December 2007, National Review endorsed him for president. Has he somehow gotten more liberal since then?

In electing a president, we are choosing someone to run the Executive Branch. A leader, to be sure, but not a speechmaker, a bomb-thrower, a quipster, a television personality or an exemplar of ideological purity. At this point in our history, the United States desperately needs a leader who understands the economy, the world of business, and, more generally, how the world works. We have had more than enough of a leader who was good at giving speeches and was ideologically pure, but who had no clue how the economy works or how the federal government can be administered without resort to graft and corruption. It is time for a president who knows what he is doing.

Romney was not my first choice in this election cycle–Tim Pawlenty was. But Pawlenty’s campaign failed to catch fire, mostly because GOP voters saw him as an “establishment” candidate; that is, perhaps, someone who won tough elections and governed successfully. Around the time Pawlenty’s campaign ended, John Thune gave serious consideration to jumping into the race. If he had done so, I would have supported him, but he didn’t. [UPDATE: I perhaps should add that I know both Pawlenty and Thune personally, consider them friends and have enormous regard for them. I have met Romney and have spent a little time with him, but not much. My preference for Pawlenty and Thune was largely driven by personal acquaintance; I feel that I know them well enough to have confidence in where they would take the country, as president.] There was no real reason to think that other Republicans like Paul Ryan, Chris Christie and Marco Rubio would get into the race, and they didn’t. You can’t get elected president if you don’t run for the office, and of those who are running, Mitt Romney is the best, by a very wide margin.

If this sounds lukewarm, it isn’t meant to. Let’s itemize Romney’s virtues.

First, he is a tremendously smart, competent and hard-working person. Many people do not realize what it takes to achieve the extraordinary business success to which Romney devoted most of his adult life. We have, currently, a president who is not particularly bright, knows little of business, has no idea how to run an organization–never having done so before 2009–and would rather golf than work. Replacing this cipher with Mitt Romney, one of the most capable men of his generation, would be an almost unimaginable improvement.

Second, Romney has led an exemplary life. He is, by any ordinary measure, an exceptionally good man. Maybe you care about this, maybe you don’t. My own view is that character counts, usually in ways you can’t foresee. Moreover, to put a purely pragmatic spin on it, the Democrats have nothing on him. Sure, they can mount an anti-Mormon whispering campaign, and they will. But it is highly unlikely that bigotry alone can derail a presidential candidate, especially one as upright as Romney.

Third, Romney has exactly the expertise we need for the next four years. Our country faces an enormous economic and fiscal crisis, brought on by years of politically-motivated fecklessness. We desperately need a president who understands why economic growth occurs and how jobs are created. The Democrats know nothing but payoffs and cronyism; who gets to stay the longest aboard a sinking ship. If ever we needed a president with Mitt Romney’s skills and expertise, that time is now.

Fourth, Romney can and will, I think, beat Barack Obama. The purpose of a political party is to win elections. It would be terminally stupid for the Republican Party to nominate a candidate whose weaknesses more or less guarantee defeat when it has, readily at hand, a candidate who can win. Ideological movements are another animal entirely. The purpose of the conservative movement is to advance conservative ideals, not necessarily to win elections for a particular party. Some conservative ideologues may choose to argue for a purer candidate (although I am not sure who that would be) in service of the long-run interests of the movement. But that is not the role of the Republican Party. The goal of the Republican Party is to win in 2012.

So: I endorse Mitt Romney as the Republican nominee for president in 2012. I think he can win, and I think there is a real chance that he could be a great president. Perhaps the man and the hour will meet, as with Churchill in 1940 and Reagan in 1980. But at a bare minimum, Romney can beat Barack Obama, and will be an infinitely better president. The time has come for Republicans to coalesce behind their best candidate.
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