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5151  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Political Econ - Milton Freidman on productivity, capital investment and jobs on: July 23, 2010, 11:45:02 AM
(Should be under Founding Fathers)
Milton Freidman as re-told by Scott Grannis as he views at the great pyramids:
http://scottgrannis.blogspot.com/

A politician and a union boss are walking by a construction site. They see two giant machines excavating the ground in preparation for the foundation of a large building. Each machine is operated by a single person. The union boss laments that if it weren't for the machines, there could be hundreds of workers digging the foundation with shovels, creating so many more jobs and (presumably) so much more prosperity. The politician sneers, and says, "just think how many thousands of people could be employed here if it weren't for shovels, and they had to dig the foundation with their hands!"
5152  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Fed, Monetary Policy, & the US Dollar: Bernancke on: July 23, 2010, 11:39:51 AM
Asleep at the wheel.  If Bernancke's job on monetary policy was at all was to advise on fiscal policy, this advice should have been giver more than a year ago.  Most of the damage of the higher rates coming has already been done IMO.  Yet a little like Bush, he wants the so-called tax cuts for the wrong reasons, it seems to me. 
------
Bernanke Says Extending Some of Bush's Tax Cuts Would Maintain Stimulus
By Scott Lanman and Ryan J. Donmoyer - Jul 23, 2010
   
Ben S. Bernanke, chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve, listens to opening statements during his semiannual monetary policy report to the House Financial Services Committee in Washington. Photographer: Joshua Roberts/Bloomberg

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said extending at least some of the tax cuts set to expire this year would help strengthen a U.S. economy still in need of stimulus and urged offsetting the move with increased revenue or lower spending.

“In the short term I would believe that we ought to maintain a reasonable degree of fiscal support, stimulus for the economy,” Bernanke said yesterday under questioning from the House Financial Services Committee’s senior Republican. “There are many ways to do that. This is one way.”

While Democrats want to keep the 2001 and 2003 tax reductions passed during former President George W. Bush’s administration for families earning as much as $250,000, Republicans aim to continue the cuts for high-income people as well. Bernanke didn’t endorse either party’s position or recommend a time period for an extension.

“In the longer term, I think we need to be taking steps to reassure the American people and the markets that our fiscal situation is going to be well controlled,” Bernanke said under questioning from Representative Spencer Bachus of Alabama, the committee’s senior Republican. “That means that if you extend the tax cuts, you need to find other ways to offset them.”
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-07-23/bernanke-says-extending-bush-tax-cuts-would-maintain-stimulus-to-economy.html
5153  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Environmental issues on: July 22, 2010, 10:46:23 AM
Crafty: "What makes sense to me is to tax external diseconomies [pollution emissions for example] instead of good things like profit, savings, inheritance, captial gains, etc."


I like the way you are thinking, but...

Taking the Mekong River example, we don't want a filthy waterway with cash distributed downstream for their troubles, we want a cleaner river.  If the pollution tax is the disincentive to pollute and the incentive to clean it up, then it is a declining/unreliable source of revenue.  A tax could though be a part of the regulatory scheme to fix it.

BBG wrote: "producing the infrastructure that allows regulators to operate efficiently in third world countries is a pretty daunting task."

Very true.  So we take the question in armchair fashion, if they could get their act together, what should they do?
Nature has it's own impurities, and its own filtering and cleansing mechanisms.  The fish excrete in the water, for example.  But discharging human waste untreated from millions that even don't live on the water just as a way to move it out of your neighborhood is wrong, once you know it is harming others. 

Nothing is fixed overnight.  I would think you need to set something like a straight line regulation path over a reasonable period of time, require that emissions drop consistently until they reach some reasonable level over 5, 10 or 20 years, whatever is economically possible.  I don't think any amount of money makes it okay to dump lead, mercury or the untreated waste of tens of millions into a natural resource.  I would rather require them to invest the money in treatment facilities than hand it to the cleptocrats for redistribution.

The tax policy we can discuss elsewhere, but income and consumption transactions are where the money is to tax.  The key is a) minimize the impact with rates low enough to not stop the productive activity (you keep most of what you earn), and b) apply the same tax rate to every dollar earned, for every person, every product, every industry, etc.  - all the same - for consent of the governed, equal protection and so that every voter faces the same impact of their choice.  Only then we can rationally decide how big we want government to be.
5154  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Kagan on: July 20, 2010, 03:43:33 PM
"BO voted for a remarkably extreme partial birth abortion law.  Anyone have details at hand?"
--------------
Just to the left of NARAL and Barbara Boxer, he voted against protecting the surviving babies of botched abortions.  His reasons to oppose do not match the facts told by the people on his committee in IL.

The Born-Alive Infants Protection Act (BAIPA) both in the Illinois and Federal legislatures was meant to make illegal death by neglect of born but unwanted infants.  Or as Obama called it: Restrictive Choice legislation.

At the end of the hearing (IL Senate Health and Human Services Committee, 2003, Barack Obama, Chairman), according to the official records of the Illinois State senate, Obama thanked Stanek (video of RN Stanek below) for being “very clear and forthright,” but said his concern was that Stanek had suggested “doctors really don’t care about children who are being born with a reasonable prospect of life because they are so locked into their pro-abortion views that they would watch an infant that is viable die.” He told her, “That may be your assessment, and I don’t see any evidence of that. What we are doing here is to create one more burden on a woman and I can’t support that.”
http://www.humanevents.com/article.php?id=18647

Video of the testifying nurse:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BYRpIf2F9NA

One mainstream reference from when Hillary was the frontrunner:
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2007/01/17/politics/main2369157.shtml
 SPRINGFIELD, Ill., Jan. 17, 2007
Obama Record May Be Gold Mine For Critics
(AP)  Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama may have a lot of explaining to do.
He voted against requiring medical care for aborted fetuses who survive.

Barbara Boxer voted for it when it passed unanimously in the U.S. Senate 98-0 and unanimously in the US House.  She said:  "(H)is amendment [Rick Santorum introducing BAIPA] certainly does not attack Roe in any way," said Boxer. "His amendment makes it very clear that nothing in this amendment gives any rights that are not yet afforded to a fetus. Therefore, I, as being a pro-choice senator on this side, representing my colleagues here, have no problem whatsoever with this amendment." - Barbara Boxer on the floor of the senate, 2001.
5155  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Abortion on: July 20, 2010, 10:53:44 AM
JDN, I took your statement away the legal context intentionally because our personal views on the issue are interesting but not relevant to the legal and procedural questions of that thread.  No intent to attack just trying to entice others to acknowledge some living value in the little one, to the point as you suggest that the unborn/almost born/partially born preemie is really one and the same today in science and medical terms as a born preemie.  It HAS to be removed from the mother, one way or another.  It doesn't HAVE to be killed.  That is a choice.

We make the line call there like we do with a sports replay of the ball or puck crossing the goal line.  Sometimes that call can cost you the game.  If we kill it before it gets completely out and the cord is still intact, it is a beautiful free expression of a constitutional right - like to speak, meet, publish or be free from oppressive search and seizure.  If we kill it a millisecond after it crosses that line it is murder in the first degree of the most innocent life among us, punishable by death in some jurisdictions.  Yet the two acts are one and the same functionally and morally I would argue and ask others to recognize.

Like I said It has to be removed from the mother, one way or another.  I'm no expert either but cesarean seems to be what the same group would recommend with acceptable risk ("cesarean birth involves risks. These problems occur in a small number of women and usually are easily treated") for circumstances where vaginal delivery poses unusual risk. http://www.acog.org/publications/patient_education/bp006.cfm  Perhaps by killing it, deflating the head, crushing the shoulders if necessary and pulling it through carefully would be even lower impact, physically, on the "mother", but that assumes a fully developed preemie like yourself has not living value and I don't buy that.  You may be grateful for your rescue now but at that crucial moment you had no say.
-----
You can look through Rachel posts but I doubt with her comparisons of fetus to sperm and embryo that she has written in support of partial birth killing and she made it extremely clear that she had no plans to jump back into the conversation.
----
Looking through ACOG pamphlet on Cesarean, I see the same mis-speak as Justice Breyer and Rachel have made:

"Fetal Monitoring: A procedure in which instruments are used to check the heartbeat of the fetus and contractions of the mother's uterus during labor."

This should be corrected.  A woman in labor without prior children is not a mother.  She would be the mother of what?
-----
JDN rescued as a preemie and my daughter who didn't show up for her abortion appointment - turning sweet sixteen tomorrow - are both examples of what we already know through the magic of time travel, the fetus (Latin for little one) is the same person that we know later but at a less developed, rapidly developing stage.  Killing it unnecessarily when you know that is not a morally neutral act.
5156  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Environmental issues: Mekong River pollution on: July 20, 2010, 09:10:00 AM
"OK my free marketeer brethren, how do we analyze this?"

From my point of view, reasonable regulations on real emissions of real pollutants that do real harm to others based on real science is no violation on freedom.  To the contrary, my liberty to dump for example that removes your liberty downstream to live, drink or eat safely is a violation of freedom and free markets.

From the point of view of Pathological Science, what I think we oppose is false science aimed at curtailing activities that cause no measurable harm.  That would apparently not be the case here assuming measurable science backs up the claims in the documentary.
5157  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Kagan - Clinonesque lawyering for a lifetime appointment on: July 20, 2010, 08:40:56 AM
"if it would save my wife's life, I would definitely consider it"

Keyword is 'if'. I just posted a statement from an 8 year Surgeon General who like the organization in question wrote in definitive terms there is no instance known in all medicine or science where that is true.

'Suggested Wording': You wrote earlier about spin.  I say the two sentences have completely different meanings.  You have your right to your opinion, and me to mine, but if you can't see the difference in meaning between the two sentences, then you are another person I would not vote to confirm to the court.

That is not to "vilify" you.  That is to write my honest and heartfelt opinion in the forum.  I would still like to play squash with you, but I would not want someone with that view of twisted meanings to write what will become court precedent and the law of the land on any issue.

Kagan knew the difference in meaning between the two sentences; she wrote that the original one was a "disaster" for her cause and inserted a Clintonesque statement from the groups principles in it's place, that that decisions about medical treatment must be made by the doctor, in consultation with the patient, based on the woman’s particular circumstances.  But it was the original conclusion that answered definitively the question before the court, there never has been an instance...

Her client was not Billl Clinton the person with ties and debts to pro-abortion interest groups or a person accused of rape deserving his rights - in this case.  Her boss is the office of the Presidency, the interests of justice, and her paycheck was drawn on the U.S. Treasury. She was not to my knowledge ever hired or paid by the medical group in question.  The judge in this case deserves to know where the line between expert testimony ends and where the lawyering and spinning begins.  In this case that was manipulated and withheld.

Her suggestion was two-fold.  An attempt to withhold from the court the conclusion that NEVER has this procedure been necessary, a lie by omission and a disservice to justice. In fact, they left that in but not as the conclusion.  Second, to add in a false MAY BE NECESSARY insinuation to create confusion and obstruct clear thinking from those who will rely on it as an expert finding.  See citations below.

I don't know what it would take to offend you with a false 'may have' statement.  I may have caused your wife's illness. I may have fathered your children while you were away at work.  But I didn't. 

You are correct that the responsibility for the changes intended to mislead the court lies with the group who agreed to them with falsely claimed authorship, and shame on them, but as an officer of the court she was more than aware of that and now is caught steering away from truth and justice, and the court relied on it. 

Ginsburg wrote later: "a procedure found necessary and proper in certain cases": Huh  No it wasn't!!! That was Kagan's false inference. 
[Justice  Ginsburg’s dissent in Gonzales v. Carhart cited ACOG more than half a dozen times. The first citation, in the introduction to her opinion, decried the majority for disregarding ACOG’s opinion: “Today’s decision is alarming. It refuses to take Casey and Stenberg seriously. It tolerates, indeed applauds, federal intervention to ban nationwide a procedure found necessary and proper in certain cases by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG).” http://corner.nationalreview.com/post/?q=NDk3YjRlZjYzMDczOWExMWQ4M2ZlNDhjODdhMThjMDI= ]

I might agree that the lie by omission from the real conclusion, buried instead elsewhere in the report, and the lie by irresponsible false inference, even taken together, are too vague and Clintonesque to prosecute for suborning perjury, but that doesn't mean I would want her confirmed to a lifetime appointment to the highest court in the land.
5158  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Partial Birth Abortion on: July 20, 2010, 07:21:41 AM
From the Kagan thread, JDN wrote: "I personally am against partial birth abortion"

Sounds like something you have given good thought to.  I ask you, if you don't mind, to expand on that.  What is the procedure and why are you against it?
5159  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Koop opposes Kagan: unethical and disgraceful on: July 19, 2010, 03:49:07 PM
I assume this former surgeon general's motives will be impugned as mine were on this blatant manipulation of science and justice.

Excerpts from USA Today Letter:

"Ms. Kagan's political language, a direct result of the amendment she [wrote for] ACOG's
Policy Statement, made its way into American jurisprudence and misled federal courts
for the next decade."

"Ms. Kagan's amendment to the ACOG Policy Statement--that partial-birth abortion "may
be the best or most appropriate procedure in a particular circumstance to save the life
or preserve the health of a woman"--had no basis in published medical studies or data.
No published medical data supported her amendment in 1997, and none supports it
today."

"I urge the Senate to reject the politization of medical science and vote no
on the Kagan nomination."

C. Everett Koop, M.D., Sc.D.
Surgeon General of the United States Public Health Service, 1981-89

http://i.usatoday.net/news/pdf/koop.pdf
5160  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Environmental issues: 'Oil' spill is 40% natural gas on: July 19, 2010, 02:28:10 PM
Oil and water easily separate.  Oil breaks down quickly in saltwater.  But it was the high methane levels that caused the explosion.  40% of this leak may be methane.  The methane is not rising to the surface.  Causes oxygen depletion zones, kills ocean life  Could also I would suppose cause another explosion either in the cap or the relief wells.  I don't think we have heard the last of this.  What was the 'risk assessment' of the new, rushed drillings and what is the next backup plan?

If a blowout protector is going to fail, use two of them.  If one relief well might fail, drill two.  Government solves problems the way a hammer sees every problem as a nail, it seems to me.

http://www.shreveporttimes.com/article/20100718/NEWS01/7180340/1060

http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/business/deepwaterhorizon/7083251.html

http://geosciences.tamu.edu/kessler/
5161  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: July 19, 2010, 01:56:49 PM
"He certainly pursues an active social life."  - True but the golf thing seems the opposite.  He doesn't entertain equals or dignitaries; it is all about him.  Nice golf courses are usually lined with private homes.  Imagine the planning of the secret service during the week, 41 times, even if he only golfs on the weekend.  The video was obviously unknowingly shot from the deck of someone's home along a course.  The scope of an assassin's rifle would easily find the same range.  Are the homes all searched and are the guests of all the homes screened and monitored along all 18 holes, every round, as they would be for a campaign event or Presidential address?
5162  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants & interesting thought pieces on: July 19, 2010, 01:44:32 PM
"On the whole I hold Dowd in utter contempt, but it seems to me that here she makes many telling points."

Crafty,  I see you did not necessarily endorse all of her points.

Dowd mixes in a point about letting women be priests, and Rachel here has poked fun on the board at 'the men at the Vatican' regarding women's so called 'reproductive rights',  but Dowd omits the key point that approximately 100% of the offending male priests are gay.  How can there can be serious analysis of what happened without addressing the elephant in the room,  gay men were the pedophiles perpetrating these crimes against children.

I would take more than one lesson here from the Boy Scouts who fought hard to keep out homosexual leaders.  Don't put gay men in a position of power over young boys, sorry - it doesn't work, and it is the right of these groups to chose their leaders.  It is the duty of the jurisdictions to prosecute the crimes, not to re-order the private group.  If the whole order of the Catholic Church was a scam to promote this crime, then they should and would be shut down, but it isn't.

The size and scope of this is unbelievable.  Those who committed the crimes should be hanged IMO, if that was the statutory punishment.  For those who KNEW and merely re-assigned the perps to continue their ways - same. 

Still that does not give outsiders standing to re-order principles within the church like gender inequity or sameness.  If it was, we could go further and requirer Bibles to be printed with the gender order in the Commandments reversed or random: Honor your mother and your father, your father and your mother, in some cases your mother and your mother, as we do not distinguish between the genders.  It doesn't work that way.  I would shy away from calling for change in religions other than stopping the abuse and punishing the guilty.

In the same vein as NCAA penalties on USC long after both the coach and player are gone, the costs of these lawsuits will be paid by the unknowing parishioners, not the perpetrators who abused the children and the broke the trust.
5163  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Media Issues: Face the Nation, Bob Schieffer and Eric Holder on: July 19, 2010, 12:37:42 PM
Apparently host and show prep staff take same week off for vacations over at CBS Face the Nation or just no concern over Obama DOJ's unequal enforcement of our basic laws.

Bizarre also how Schieffer in his business confuses the terms 'news' and 'coverage'.  "There hasn't been a lot of news about it ..."?? A senior Justice whistle blower resigned over it -  I think he meant not much mainstream coverage. Looking for this video, even though it is CNN, the first page of google results were all from blog coverage.  Media has changed and the story is out.

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2010/07/18/cbs_schieffer_says_he_didnt_ask_holder_about_black_panther_case_because_he_didnt_know.html
5164  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Political Economics: Fed paints weaker picture of growth and employment on: July 19, 2010, 12:11:52 PM
We were warned earlier in the year by economic optimists even with supply side credentials not to count politically on the economy staying weak through the mid-terms.  Even if the real multiplier for the false stimulus is 0.5 or 0.8 instead of 1.5 as advertised, there still should be some temporary boost in the economy from the massive infusion.

But there are other factors: These hit and miss, piecemeal, drive-by 'stimulus' programs - cash for clunkers, homeowner credit, a bridge here and a building there - don't build any confidence as we know they are short-lived.  Meanwhile a host of other issues put a cloud over the future on risk-taking, hiring and expansion: the coming tax hikes, the coming cap-trade penalties, the coming healthcare trainwreck, the debt crisis, the unfunded entitlement crisis, etc. etc.  These new, lowered forecasts leave plenty of room to underperform as well as we continue to NOT address any of the challenges we face.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100714/ap_on_bi_ge/us_fed_forecast

Fed paints weaker picture of growth and employment
AP

WASHINGTON – Federal Reserve officials have a slightly dimmer view of the economy than they did in April, reflecting worries about how the European debt crisis could affect U.S. growth and job prospects.

Fed officials said Wednesday in an updated economic forecast that they think the economy, as measured by the gross domestic product, will grow between 3 percent and 3.5 percent this year. That's a downward revision from a growth range in their April forecast of 3.2 percent to 3.7 percent.

The Fed's latest forecast sees the unemployment rate, now at 9.5 percent, possibly staying at that figure or in the best case falling to 9.2 percent. In the April forecast, the Fed had a slightly lower bottom number of 9.1 percent.

The Fed said in the minutes of its June 22-23 meeting that its lower economic projections reflected "economic developments abroad" — a reference to the debt crisis that began in Greece and threatened to spread to other European countries.

While reducing the forecast for growth and employment, the Fed also saw less of a threat from inflation.

The Fed predicted that a key inflation gauge that's tied to consumer spending would show prices rising 1 percent to 1.1 percent this year. That's down from an April forecast that consumer prices would increase by 1.2 percent to 1.5 percent.

The absence of inflationary pressures gives the Fed leeway to keep interest rates low to try to bolster growth as the economy recovers from the deepest recession since the 1930s.

The new forecast was compiled at the last meeting of the Fed's interest rate-setting Federal Open Market Committee on June 22-23. At that meeting, the FOMC, which is composed of Fed board members and the 12 Fed regional bank presidents, kept a key rate at a record low of 0 to 0.25 percent, where it's been since December 2008.

The Fed's new forecast made only minor changes to its outlook for growth, unemployment and inflation. But those changes underscored a view that economic prospects were slightly weaker.

The factors the Fed cited were household and business uncertainty, weak real estate markets, a tough job market, waning fiscal stimulus and still-tight lending by banks.

The Fed in April had said only a minority of Fed officials thought it would take more than five or six years to reach the Fed's goals for maximum employment with low inflation. But in the new minutes, the Fed changed that to say that "most" expected it to take "no more than five or six years."

Beyond this year, the Fed forecast growth in 2011 to be in a range between 3.5 percent to 4.2 percent. The upper limit of that range was reduced from 4.5 percent in the April forecast.

The expectation for the unemployment rate next year was also nudged higher to a range of 8.3 percent to 8.7 percent. That was up from a range of 8.1 percent to 8.5 percent in April.
5165  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Massachusetts Health-Care 'Train Wreck' on: July 19, 2010, 11:51:48 AM
Posted in healthcare but also intended to reinforce points made in the way forward questioning the suitability of Romney to lead conservatives. 
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704324304575306861120760580.html

By JOSEPH RAGO

President Obama said earlier this year that the health-care bill that Congress passed three months ago is "essentially identical" to the Massachusetts universal coverage plan that then-Gov. Mitt Romney signed into law in 2006. No one but Mr. Romney disagrees.

As events are now unfolding, the Massachusetts plan couldn't be a more damning indictment of ObamaCare. The state's universal health-care prototype is growing more dysfunctional by the day, which is the inevitable result of a health system dominated by politics.

In the first good news in months, a state appeals board has reversed some of the price controls on the insurance industry that Gov. Deval Patrick imposed earlier this year. Late last month, the panel ruled that the action had no legal basis and ignored "economic realties."

Senior Editorial Page Writer Joe Rago on why Obama is using a recess appointment to install the new head of Medicare and Medicaid.

In April, Mr. Patrick's insurance commissioner had rejected 235 of 274 premium increases state insurers had submitted for approval for individuals and small businesses. The carriers said these increases were necessary to cover their expected claims over the coming year, as underlying state health costs continue to rise at 8% annually. By inventing an arbitrary rate cap, the administration was in effect ordering the carriers to sell their products at a loss.

Mr. Patrick has promised to appeal the panel's decision and find some other reason to cap rates. Yet a raft of internal documents recently leaked to the press shows this squeeze play was opposed even within his own administration.

In an April message to his staff, Robert Dynan, a career insurance commissioner responsible for ensuring the solvency of state carriers, wrote that his superiors "implemented artificial price caps on HMO rates. The rates, by design, have no actuarial support. This action was taken against my objections and without including me in the conversation."

Mr. Dynan added that "The current course . . . has the potential for catastrophic consequences including irreversible damage to our non-profit health care system" and that "there most likely will be a train wreck (or perhaps several train wrecks)."

Sure enough, the five major state insurers have so far collectively lost $116 million due to the rate cap. Three of them are now under administrative oversight because of concerns about their financial viability. Perhaps Mr. Patrick felt he could be so reckless because health-care demagoguery is the strategy for his fall re-election bid against a former insurance CEO.

The deeper problem is that price controls seem to be the only way the political class can salvage a program that was supposed to reduce spending and manifestly has not. Massachusetts now has the highest average premiums in the nation.

In a new paper, Stanford economists John Cogan and Dan Kessler and Glenn Hubbard of Columbia find that the Massachusetts plan increased private employer-sponsored premiums by about 6%. Another study released last week by the state found that the number of people gaming the "individual mandate"—buying insurance only when they are about to incur major medical costs, then dumping coverage—has quadrupled since 2006. State regulators estimate that this amounts to a de facto 1% tax on insurance premiums for everyone else in the individual market and recommend a limited enrollment period to discourage such abuses. (This will be illegal under ObamaCare.)

Liberals write off such consequences as unimportant under the revisionist history that the plan was never meant to reduce costs but only to cover the uninsured. Yet Mr. Romney wrote in these pages shortly after his plan became law that every resident "will soon have affordable health insurance and the costs of health care will be reduced."

One junior senator from Illinois agreed. In a February 2006 interview on NBC, Mr. Obama praised the "bold initiative" in Massachusetts, arguing that it would "reduce costs and expand coverage." A Romney spokesman said at the time that "It's gratifying that national figures from both sides of the aisle recognize the potential of this plan to transform our health-care system."

An entitlement sold as a way to reduce costs was bound to fundamentally change the system. The larger question—for Massachusetts, and now for the nation—is whether that was really the plan all along.

"If you're going to do health-care cost containment, it has to be stealth," said Jon Kingsdale, speaking at a conference sponsored by the New Republic magazine last October. "It has to be unsuspected by any of the key players to actually have an effect." Mr. Kingsdale is the former director of the Massachusetts "connector," the beta version of ObamaCare's insurance "exchanges," and is now widely expected to serve as an ObamaCare regulator.

He went on to explain that universal coverage was "fundamentally a political strategy question"—a way of finding a "significant systematic way of pushing back on the health-care system and saying, 'No, you have to do with less.' And that's the challenge, how to do it. It's like we're waiting for a chain reaction but there's no catalyst, there's nothing to start it."

In other words, health reform was a classic bait and switch: Sell a virtually unrepealable entitlement on utterly unrealistic premises and then the political class will eventually be forced to control spending. The likes of Mr. Kingsdale would say cost control is only a matter of technocratic judgement, but the raw dirigisme of Mr. Patrick's price controls is a better indicator of what happens when health care is in the custody of elected officials rather than a market.

Naturally, Mr. Patrick wants to export the rate review beyond the insurers to hospitals, physician groups and specialty providers—presumably to set medical prices as well as insurance prices. Last month, his administration also announced it would use the existing state "determination of need" process to restrict the diffusion of expensive medical technologies like MRI machines and linear accelerator radiation therapy.

Meanwhile, Richard Moore, a state senator from Uxbridge and an architect of the 2006 plan, has introduced a new bill that will make physician participation in government health programs a condition of medical licensure. This would essentially convert all Massachusetts doctors into public employees.

All of this is merely a prelude to far more aggressive restructuring of the state's health-care markets—and a preview of what awaits the rest of the country.
5166  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Way Forward for the American Creed - Paul Ryan on: July 19, 2010, 11:42:17 AM
Sorry I didn't catch that Paul Ryan had already ruled out in Feb a run for President in 2012, convincingly:
"There’s no way I am running for president in 2012," the Wisconsin Republican told the New York Times Magazine in a Q&A feature. "My head is not that big, and my kids are too small."

Too bad.  He is one who already proved he could win a debate with the President - on health care.  Did not rule out VP.  In the meantime he would provide an excellent contrast to Obama as U.S. Speaker of the House for Obama's last 2, lame duck years.

5167  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cognitive Dissonance of the Glibness: Obama's Golf Game on: July 19, 2010, 12:53:25 AM
I believe strongly in the right of the Commander in Chief to have a little R&R, but something in this story is weird. There were a couple of posts in the last month speculating about what is wrong with this guy.  In this case, there is nothing wrong with being lousy at golf, what is weird is 41 rounds so far!  During your Presidency.  On Father's day with the wife and kids at home.  While the gulf blackens, etc. In light of all they know and all they do just for appearances sake, out he goes for another round. Each is typically a 5-hour outing.  And never a score reported, which is very strange since he is obsessed with playing the full 18, every time, not just hitting balls or sneaking out over a lunch hour for 4 or 5 holes.  Games like golf can reveal character such as by whether you count all of your mistakes and penalties and report an accurate score - or take Billigans as they were called under the last Democratic President.  Here are the leaders of the free world on the White House putting green:

Here is a video of his swing, called Potus Shankapotomus, with some unflattering amateur commentary:




Unfair comparison (Tiger Woods' swing), but the link below shows what a good swing looks like .  The arms and the club rotate through the ball together on a smooth plane while the head stays still.  
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PzZy2AQUP6w
----------------
http://www.whitehousedossier.com/2010/07/16/obama-played-41-rounds-golf-president/

Obama Has Shot 41 Rounds of Golf as President

by Keith Koffler on July 16, 2010, 3:30 pm

President Barack Obama has played a remarkable 41 rounds of golf since becoming president, easily outpacing his predecessor and possibly damaging his ability to portray himself in 2012 as a populist advocate of average folks.

With the excursions lasting on average at least five hours, the president has devoted a total of more than 200 hours to golf, not counting time spent on the White House putting green. That’s the equivalent of twenty five eight-hour work days, or five work weeks spent smacking golf balls.

The former community organizer’s 41 trips around the links – a standard of recreational activity well beyond the budgets of most Americans – compares to only 24 total outings for former President George W. Bush, according to statistics compiled by White House chronicler Mark Knoller of CBS News. Bush, whose golf outings were used to help deride him as a callow, lazy, rich boy, played his 24th and last round on Oct. 13, 2003, saying he was ending the practice out of respect for the families of Americans killed in Iraq.

Since the April 20 explosion that killed 11 rig workers and started the Gulf oil spill, Obama has teed up seven times, according to White House Dossier’s count. This includes back to back sessions April 23 and 24 while on vacation at the Grove Park Resort & Spa in Asheville, NC, just days after the crisis began.

Obama’s focus on golf borders on obsession. Startled reporters follow him out to the course in the motorcade in the broiling Washington heat and then wait in the air conditioning while he puts in 18 holes. Rarely does he play any less.

On June 19, he dragged the 67 year old Vice President Biden onto the course for a sweltering 18 holes, calling into question whether he was trying to commit murder-by-golf in order to free the 2012 VP slot up for Hillary.

From a period stretching from April 3 to May 22 of this year, the president went golfing eight of nine weekends. WOULD YOUR WIFE LET YOU DO THAT?? WOULD YOU LET YOUR HUSBAND? Michelle, what gives?

He went out only once in June when, with the Gulf of Mexico slowly becoming the new U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve and accusations of presidential inattention at their height, White House image counselors appeared to think the golf needed scaling back. But he’s back with a vengeance, having made his way out on the course both weekends so far this month.

Since he’s officially on vacation this weekend in Bar Harbor Maine, there appears to be little holding him back from heading out to the greens at least once.

Obama golf While on the course, Obama for the most part likes to keep it nice and light, often playing with a youngish crowd. No deep discussions of policy on the links.

One of his companions on nearly every outing is Marvin Nicholson, the affable, White House trip director. Nicholson, a former  “body man” to Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), is the perfect guy for getting away from it all, having worked as a golf caddy, a bartender, and in a windsurfing shop – where he met Kerry.

Also generally on hand is David Katz, a former Obama campaign photographer.

Emphatically not invited for the most part are members of Congress or senior White House aides.

The White House is of course sensitive to the awkward look of the whole thing. A search of of the word “golf” on the White House page or the photo sharing site Flickr brings back only nine official White House photo results, three of which are neither of Obama nor golf. A search for “basketball,” the everyman’s game, brings back 39 photos.
5168  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Way Forward for the American Creed on: July 16, 2010, 12:19:00 PM
Crafty wrote: "The Pawlenty piece is pretty good.   The one time I caught him for a substantial piece of air time he struck me as , , , OK, lacking in fire-in-the-belly as so many Republicans are.  Still, the construction of this piece suggests that he is getting "the storyline" for his campaign in order."

That is about right and P.C. thanks for the nice words about him.  I know Pawlenty a little.  He does not have knock you off your chair charisma or seem Presidential, but none of them do.  He is positioning himself fairly well and getting good experience with the national shows for when the bigger names falter.  I post not to endorse but just so we start to get familiar with the people who will likely run.  A bit moderate for my taste but about as conservative as we can get and not be painted as a scary extremist.  I would just say don't underestimate him.  I think he would do pretty well in a long general election as a contrast to Obama, but maybe not at setting the base on fire early and maybe not the ability to separate himself from the packin a crowded primary.

Crafty is right on with Romney IMO.  He can draw a distinction between failed healthcare in Massachusetts and Obamacare - that it is what his liberal state wanted to do, but to an energized base it is still what we don't want, government run healthcare.  He presents himself very well but became a little too skilled at explaining his changes in views that kept coinciding with changes in his target market.

I like Newt. Newt doesn't have anyone but himself to blame.   Fred hardly stole the air in the room.  I don't care for Huckabee - I think he is the one that fractured or won the conservative vote, yet like P.C. I don't see him as conservative or electable.  I don't know when the time is right but Newt needs to step in early this election cycle and stop being coy about it if he wants to be President.  That was one thing Obama did right.  He made it clear early that he was running.

Palin is one who may benefit by waiting.  She is getting stronger and doing good work for the cause IMO.

Michele Bachmann has the most conservative district in MN and will win again but she won't ever be President.  Congress needs strong leaders with principles too.  She was a tax attorney.  A good firebrand partisan full of positive energy for the base, but not much reach across appeal. Very intelligent but a little gaffe prone.  This is a good video of her questioning Geithner and Bernancke:
5169  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Way Forward: MN Gov. Tim Pawlenty on: July 15, 2010, 11:37:06 PM
CCP: I was trying to figure out the E.  Jeb's real name is John Ellis Bush.  Yes, he would be a serious contender or frontrunner if not for the family name affiliation.  Seems like a showstopper yet we keep seeing those patterns.  Maybe he will run against Michelle O or Chelsea Clinton in 2016.  Seriously he would have been a better pick in any of the last several cycles.

MN Gov. Pawlenty has a piece published by Politico this week.  He seems to be picking up on the Paul Ryan themes and some of Gov. Christie's toughness on spending. 
-----
http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0710/39674.html

Time for Obama to make sacrifices

By GOV. TIM PAWLENTY | 7/14/10

Later this week, the White House budget office is due to produce its midyear report on the nation’s fiscal health.

If history is any guide, the administration will try to paint a rosy picture, but the truth is already obvious: Washington under President Barack Obama is not just broken — it’s broke.

When Obama entered office, he inherited a budget deficit that reflected the toxic combination of recession, bailouts and runaway entitlement programs. But rather than getting the government’s finances under control, Obama and his allies in Congress poured gasoline on the fire with trillion-dollar boondoggles.

To put the recent spending binge in context, consider this: At the end of 2008, just before Obama took office, the federal debt was about 40 percent of our nation’s total economy. Now, according to a recent Congressional Budget Office report, the debt will explode to 62 percent of our economy by the end of this year.

If we consider off-budget liabilities like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, underfunded entitlement promises and the budget effects embedded in the Democrats’ new health care bill, the fiscal picture gets even worse.

In a bizarre development, the Democratic-controlled House won’t even pass a budget for the first time in decades. Any family or business knows you can’t live within your means without a budget. Congressional Democrats have now announced they won’t even try.

As the governor of a state that, like most others, has been facing recession-driven budget shortfalls recently, I understand the challenges in front of the president. What I don’t understand is his refusal to do anything about it.

During my two terms in Minnesota, we balanced every biennial budget without raising taxes. We set priorities and cut spending. As the economy continues to struggle, more challenges lie ahead for both federal and state governments.

We should remember President Ronald Reagan’s advice that solutions may not be easy, but they are often simple. Obama and Congress should:

1. Set clear priorities but cut almost everything else. Not everything government does is equally important. When faced with a budget shortfall in Minnesota, we considered the importance of programs. We decided to protect funding for the most important ones: the National Guard, veterans’ support programs, public safety and K-12 schools.

Nearly everything else has been cut. Last year, we cut overall spending in real terms for the first time in the state’s 150-year history.

2. Reform out-of-control entitlements. By far, the biggest long-term driver of the federal debt is entitlement spending, including Social Security and Medicare. These programs are going to have to be changed. And despite Beltway rhetoric, it can be done.

For example, in Minnesota, our bus drivers in the Twin Cities had benefits that were completely unsustainable. The premise of our reform was simple:

The status quo must change. We kept our commitment to current employees but changed the rules for new hires.

Reforming that entitlement program and others wasn’t easy. The reforms for our bus drivers led to one of the longest transit strikes in recent history. But we did it. So must Washington.

3. Sacrifice. Americans have sacrificed enough; it’s time for government to sacrifice for a change. When Washington Democrats talk about balancing the budget, they speak gravely about painful choices and sacrifice — but what they mean is tax increases. In other words, we sacrifice so they can spend.

Before we ask taxpayers to make “painful choices,” we need to ask the politicians and bureaucrats to make a few first. In Minnesota, we rejected tax increases every year I was governor, and even cut taxes overall, to make our state more competitive. Washington can — and should — do the same.

The White House’s midyear review will very likely try to present the case for tax hikes as inevitable. But they are not.

Washington politicians may say you can’t solve the problem by simply cutting spending, protecting crucial priorities and balancing the budget without raising taxes.

But in Minnesota, we’ve proven: Yes, you can.

Tim Pawlenty is the Republican governor of Minnesota.

(Gov. Pawlenty won reelection in 2006 when almost no Republicans were winning - in a state where Dems now have a 65% majority in the state house and a 68% majority in the state senate.)
5170  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: July 15, 2010, 04:53:37 PM
“All the problems we face in the United States today can be traced to an unenlightened immigration policy on the part of the American Indian”  - Pat Paulsen for President, 1968
5171  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / re. Obamanomics and my Seven Steamy Nights on: July 15, 2010, 04:51:00 PM
"President Obama’s chief economist announced that the plan had “created or saved” between 2.5 million and 3.6 million jobs … the U.S. economy has lost a net 2.35 million jobs."

"I started with an assumption of spending -7 nights with the supermodels. And since I actually spent zero nights with them, that means a net of +7"
------
Excellent!  It's unbelievable what they keep trying to pull over us with a straight face.  I wonder what the conversation is before the spokesman goes to the podium:  Are we really going to keep running with this worthless drivel?

Red is gray and
Yellow white
But we decide
Which is right
And
Which is an Illusion
  - From the Moody Blues
5172  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: July 15, 2010, 03:44:29 PM
"One over-demanded service is prevention: annual physicals, screening tests, and other measures that supposedly help catch diseases early."

Can't we just call him the Death Panel Czar?

Speaking of tax consequences, soon we will see our czars proposing to ease the burdensome cost of healthcare by waiving the carbon tax on cremation for those who decline the surgery.
5173  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Libertarian Issues on: July 15, 2010, 03:31:24 PM
G M: "can we change the title of this thread to "Unhinged paranoia" or something else more accurate?"

BBG; How 'bout "Authoritarian Chew Toys?"
-----

Very Funny!  Hey - both of you - this debate is healthy, and important.

I remember conservative fund raising letters of decades ago that were loaded with tin foil.  You will lose this freedom and that one, if you don't contribute now.  Government will take over everything from healthcare to auto manufacturing, from energy to housing.  Liberals will teach sex ed to kindergardners, gays will marry and men's rooms will require diaper changing stations.  Big brother will decide what you will drive, where you will live, whether you can water your lawn, and how much salt you can put on your french fries.  The government will take your house on a whim.  Tens of millions will cross our border illegally - and for it receive citizenship.  Enemy combatants will be caught just to be released back to re-join the fight against us.  Freedom isn't free - send money - based on these ridiculous, exaggerated scare tactics.

Unfortunately most of it already came true.
5174  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants & interesting thought pieces on: July 15, 2010, 02:55:19 PM
Freki: "When you have to pay rent to the government (property taxes) to keep your property, Liberty is at stake!!!!"

Crafty: "Freki is dead on."
-----

Agree! If I don't pay the property taxes which are slightly more than 100% of my take home income, I lose the properties.  If I sell the properties I have to pay tax on a 20-30 year gain in one year boosting all other income into soak-the-rich rates.  There is no income averaging anymore.  I would have to pay federal tax on the inflation component of the gain - that might be all of it in some cases.  I would have to pay state tax at the highest rate because states tax capital gains including the inflation component gain (which is no gain at all) as ordinary income.  I can't sell this year because of depressed markets flooded with foreclosures.  Next year the tax rates go up.  Not exactly efficient or low impact taxation.

If your nest egg were all put in gold bullion all of your life, you would be in the similar situation of being taxed heavily on an inflationary gain.  And it's all inflationary gain because it is the exact same gold that you bought in the first place.

So much for hard, non-financial assets for prosperity, to remove risk and to simplify your life.
5175  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Issues in the American Creed (Constitutional Law and related matters) on: July 15, 2010, 02:30:03 PM
Backtracking in the thread a bit, I want to comment on some points gone by:

Bigdog wrote: "there may be a self selection problem.  Professors don't make much money, despite the arguments to the contrary.  If may be that conservatives largely take their talents to the private sector, where the pay is better."

I agree with this point.  Not for money alone, but there is an attraction for conservatives to the private sector and for liberals to academia.

"just because a professor is "liberal" (or "conservative") does not mean that they bring politics into the classroom"

In other disciplines such as climate science and economics they certainly seem to. I wonder how Nobel Laureates such as Obama or Krugman could describe the virtues of supply side economics in a classroom while they falsely characterize it publicly. I challenge anyone to find so much as a paragraph written by either of them that describes those arguments accurately or honestly.  Very few of the best political moderators can question without exposing their own view. One firsthand classroom example I experienced was studying economics under the former chief economic adviser to Presidents Kennedy and Johnson.  At the time he was positioning himself to be chief adviser to Ted Kennedy as well, advocating gas rationing and national healthcare in 1980.  He taught and tested only on his view.  He passed out reprints of his WSJ contributions, never opposing views which was the rest of the editorial page.  That may not happen as egregiously in Law but I question how many teachers with very strongly held views can be fair to the other side of an argument.

I wonder how well lecturer Obama presented opposing views on contested constitutional issues.  I question how well someone like Ruth Bader Ginsburg as a lecturer could present the arguments of Thomas on Kelo for example - or vice versa.  Suppose the other side were in attendance, I wonder how they would rate the opponent's explanation of their argument.

As a sample, I wonder how BigDog (or anyone) might frame the pro-DOMA argument (federal defense of marriage act), assuming his personal view is opposite, to give us an idea of how he would frame the argument that the federal government has full constitutional authority to define the meaning of marriage, superseding any states' rights argument...
5176  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: July 14, 2010, 06:41:31 PM
None of my business but now that the question is understood perhaps it could be answered rather than quibbling over the difference between 60 and 150 years.  Did core principles change in that time?

"while we clearly could have demanded/taken territory/assets, to the best of my recollection, we NEVER did."

I wonder if George Bush will get an apology from his critics.  "Iraq invaded for oil": one million Google hits on that.
5177  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Way Forward: Paul Ryan on: July 14, 2010, 04:33:34 PM
"Ryan is a bright guy who seems to have character and intellectual integrity."

I didn't realize he is only 40 and ranking member of the house budget committee.  Assuming no executive experience he might be perfectly qualified for President...  Better, I would like to see him as the next speaker.

The issue Barnes addresses is whether the party should adopt a comprehensive plan that fixes this mess, include necessarily the controversial entitlement changes and a mandate to reform or I suppose just take 3 or 4 bullet points on the weaknesses of the Dems just to win.
------

Paul Ryan:  "I for one tried to get us out of this rut by offering my own plan. I call it “A Roadmap for America’s Future.”  The motivation in putting this plan out there is twofold:

One: show us that we can do it.  Put out a plan with real numbers, certified by the actuaries of Social Security and Medicaid, certified by the CBO that shows us we can get off of this debt path that we’re on, that we can actually turn this thing around.  It’s a plan that does three things: pay of our national debt; fulfill the mission of health and retirement security; and get the engine of American prosperity back up and running. Get us on a pathway to growth; get us on a pathway to higher standards of living; get us on a pathway to creating jobs, instead of the path we are currently on.

The second reason why I did the Roadmap was to try and actually encourage other people to come up with their own plans.  I’m not suggesting that I have all of the answers to fix all of these problems.  This is how I would fix these problems.  What I’m trying to do is to get people who don’t agree with the way we choose to fix these problems to come up with their own plans.  Unfortunately, we’ve had nothing."
-------

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703808904575025080017959478.html
WSJ (JANUARY 26, 2010)

A GOP Road Map for America's Future
There's still time to rejuvenate our market economy and avoid a European-style welfare state.

By PAUL D. RYAN

In tonight's State of the Union address, President Obama will declare a new found commitment to "fiscal responsibility" to cover the huge spending and debt he and congressional Democrats have run up in his first year in office. But next Monday, when he submits his actual budget, I fear it will rely on gimmickry, commissions, luke-warm spending "freezes," and paper-tiger controls to create the illusion of budget discipline. Meanwhile, he and the Democratic congressional leadership will continue pursuing a relentless expansion of government and a new culture of dependency.

America needs an alternative. For that reason, I have reintroduced my plan to tackle our nation's most pressing domestic challenges—updated to reflect the dramatic decline in our economic and fiscal condition. The plan, called A Road Map for America's Future and first introduced in 2008, is a comprehensive proposal to ensure health and retirement security for all Americans, to lift the debt burdens that are mounting every day because of Washington's reckless spending, and to promote jobs and competitiveness in the 21st century global economy.

The difference between the Road Map and the Democrats' approach could not be more clear. From the enactment of a $1 trillion "stimulus" last February to the current pass-at-all costs government takeover of health care, the Democratic leadership has followed a "progressive" strategy that will take us closer to a tipping point past which most Americans receive more in government benefits than they pay in taxes—a European-style welfare state where double-digit unemployment becomes a way of life.

Americans don't have to settle for this path of decline. There's still time to choose a different future. That is what the Road Map offers. It is based on a fundamentally different vision from the one now prevailing in Washington. It focuses the government on its proper role. It restrains government spending, and hence limits the size of government itself. It rejuvenates the vibrant market economy that made America the envy of the world. And it restores an American character rooted in individual initiative, entrepreneurship and opportunity.

Here are the principal elements:

• Health Care. The plan ensures universal access to affordable health insurance by restructuring the tax code, allowing all Americans to secure an affordable health plan that best suits their needs, and shifting the control and ownership of health coverage away from the government and employers to individuals.

It provides a refundable tax credit—$2,300 for individuals and $5,700 for families—to purchase coverage (from another state if they so choose) and keep it with them if they move or change jobs. It establishes transparency in health-care price and quality data, so this critical information is readily available before someone needs health services.

State-based high risk pools will make affordable care available to those with pre-existing conditions. In addition to the tax credit, Medicaid will provide supplemental payments to low-income recipients so they too can obtain the health coverage of their choice and no longer be consigned to the stigmatized, sclerotic care that Medicaid has come to represent.

• Medicare. The Road Map secures Medicare for current beneficiaries, while making common-sense reforms to save this critical program. It preserves the existing Medicare program for Americans currently 55 or older so they can receive the benefits they planned for throughout their working lives.

For those under 55—as they become Medicare-eligible—it creates a Medicare payment, initially averaging $11,000, to be used to purchase a Medicare certified plan. The payment is adjusted to reflect medical inflation, and pegged to income, with low-income individuals receiving greater support. The plan also provides risk adjustment, so those with greater medical needs receive a higher payment.

The proposal also fully funds Medical Savings Accounts (MSAs) for low-income beneficiaries, while continuing to allow all beneficiaries, regardless of income, to set up tax-free MSAs. Enacted together, these reforms will help keep Medicare solvent for generations to come.

• Social Security. The Road Map preserves the existing Social Security program for those 55 or older. For those under 55, the plan offers the option of investing over one-third of their current Social Security taxes into personal retirement accounts, similar to the Thrift Savings Plan available to federal employees. This proposal includes a property right, so those who own these accounts can pass on the assets to their heirs. The plan also guarantees that individuals will not lose a dollar they contribute to their accounts, even after inflation.

The plan also makes the program permanently solvent by combining a modest adjustment in the growth of initial Social Security's benefits for higher-income individuals, with a gradual, modest increase in the retirement age.

• Tax Reform. The Road Map offers an alternative to today's needlessly complex and unfair tax code, providing the option of a simplified system that promotes work, saving and investment.

This highly simplified code fits on a postcard. It has just two rates: 10% on income up to $100,000 for joint filers and $50,000 for single filers, and 25% on taxable income above these amounts. It also includes a generous standard deduction and personal exemption (totaling $39,000 for a family of four), and no tax loopholes, deductions, credits or exclusions (except the health-care tax credit).

The proposal eliminates the alternative minimum tax. It promotes saving by eliminating taxes on interest, capital gains, and dividends. It eliminates the death tax. It replaces the corporate income tax—currently the second highest in the industrialized world—with a business consumption tax of 8.5%. This new rate is roughly half the average in the industrialized world and will put American companies and workers in a stronger position to compete in a global economy.

Even without the Democratic spending spree, our fiscal outlook is deteriorating. They are only hastening the crisis. It is not too late to take control of our fiscal and economic future. But the longer we wait, the bigger the problem becomes and the more difficult our options for solving it.

The Road Map promotes our national prosperity by limiting government's burden of spending, mandates and regulation. It ensures the opportunity for individuals to fulfill their human potential and enjoy the satisfaction of their own achievements—and it secures the distinctly American legacy of leaving the next generation better off.

Mr. Ryan, a Republican congressman from Wisconsin, is the ranking member of the Budget Committee.
5178  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cognitive Dissonance: DIck Morris - Triangulation? on: July 14, 2010, 04:02:32 PM
"I hope he keeps up the lefitst agenda till he gets booted out."

Nothing in his character tells me 2012 will be a contest between a Republican and an honest liberal named Obama.  I'm sure they have the confusion all planned just like the announcement 20 days before the explosion to expand offshore drilling:
http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/remarks-president-energy-security-andrews-air-force-base-3312010

There are damaging policies (IMO) in place right now such as automatic tax increases and healthcare legislation that can not be undone for a very long time, if ever, unless we see the Democrat party turn quickly away from far-leftism.  Even if Republicans take the House this year and the Presidency and the Senate in 2012, they will not have 60 votes in the senate (ever?) necessary to enact or repeal much of anything without Dem. support.  OTOH, I would think a Republican House could fail to fund any program, any year, and at least cause negotiation.
5179  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: July 14, 2010, 12:09:39 PM
BD,  I agree.  There are so many untold stories out there all the time.  Amazing how there was absolutely no investigative journalism pre-exposing the Enron, Madoff, Fannie Mae, Lehman Bros. or almost any other meltdown in the making.

"...there is a long history of noncompliance, incompetence, and abuses by this company."

Instead they were finalists to win the safety award prior to the accident. 
http://www.nytimes.com/gwire/2010/07/07/07greenwire-bp-was-finalist-for-federal-safety-award-at-ti-72712.html

Also unreported, except by The Rolling Stone of all places, is that there is no possible chance that the federal bureaucrats even read the false, BP risk assessment study before the Obama administration granted this license to this campaign contributor.  http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/17390/111965?RS_show_page=0  Yet no one in the absent, government protection agencies lost a job over this as far as I know.
5180  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants & interesting thought pieces on: July 14, 2010, 11:44:38 AM
Quoting: "Citizens should not depend on financial assets as a repository of value and rely on fallible "expert" advice for their retirement: Economic life should be definancialised. We should learn not to use markets as warehouses of value." -  Crafty: "I'm confused, what form does he think savings should take?"

In my case, and after the tech debacle, my retirement is entirely in real estate(hard assets/non-financial).  What could possibly go wrong with that?  sad   shocked  angry  Besides the crash of values, I will need increasing amounts of financial assets just to pay the property taxes or lose (again) all I have saved and invested.

Still his piece is enlightening and I was not previously familiar with his work.  I would like to see someone take and run with the best aspects of it.
5181  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Electoral process, voter fraud: Al Franken's election count on: July 14, 2010, 11:35:16 AM
BBG,  Thanks for a great followup on that story.  People may forget that Norm Coleman won that contest prior to the false and uneven recount and some may not realize that the tampered result changed the governing power in Washington, not just changed the occupant of that seat.

Bringing forward a link from a previous page, I think this documentary by the Twin Cities ABC affiliate was the definitive record of that re-count, especially the part where the ACORN and Move-on-dot-org endorsed secretary of state said he couldn't comment on their findings because he didn't bring his reading glasses to the interview!  This story was buried even by that station after it aired.

http://kstp.com/article/stories/S1222327.shtml?cat=5

Back to BBG's post, how is it that we can find known fraud greater than the margin of so-called victory and, if not overturn the result, at least PROSECUTE THE CRIMES.  Knowingly tampering with our electoral process at the ballot box seems to me to be a form of treason.
5182  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Media Issues: Coal accident coverage on: July 14, 2010, 11:19:29 AM
Big Dog,  I read that story and had the opposite reaction (surprisingly  smiley).  Always hard to compare loss of any life in any number without sounding callous, but it sounded to me like a small number at risk or lost and a large story relative to the fact pointed out in the story that over half of our electricity comes from coal.  Parallel to the oil spill story as you mentioned, it seemed to me that the loss of eleven in the explosion and collapse was presented only later as a mere detail to the main story - oil gushing.

Meanwhile the perfect safety record of the western, carbon-free nuclear industry is almost a complete, non-story, unpublished secret.  I think you would need a far right blog to discover that truth.

Coal stories also remind me of just how few of us do real work in a physical, dirty and risky sort of way, as compared with some other time like a hundred years ago.  When we retire our public employees from our classrooms and and air conditioned government centers in their fifties, with pay, pension and healthcare, you would think we were finally allowing them to escape from the inhumane drudgery of coal mining.

Meanwhile we still kill 34,000 a year on our highways which means that the delivery system for  potato chips and soda pop is possibly more deadly in this country than the production of half our total electrical needs with coal. 

(Not to mention a million a year plus of unreported elective loss of human life in the abortion industry.  Where is that headline?)
5183  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / interesting thought piece: re. Black Swans on: July 14, 2010, 10:50:04 AM
I agree strongly (in part) with the creative thought process in this piece.  Ever since studying human physiology in medical school (as an undergrad elective; NOT a med student) I have long believed that business and economic designers should study the intelligent design within human subsystems and found in nature's ecosystems for ideas inspiration to improve business and public services systems performance.  This author makes that point extremely well.

OTOH it seems he carries it too far with his presumption that we can design our economy out further with even greater central control (if I read him correctly) rather than erring on the side of economic freedoms allowing us to make personal choices and errors as individuals, businesses and nations.

For example he criticizes the concept of comparative advantage in globalization.  I agree with his point only to the point that public policies certain should not be made to exaggerate that phenomenon, but would warn that the loss of economic freedom required to prevent over-specialization would be worse than the problem or risk IMHO.
5184  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Way Forward for the American Creed on: July 13, 2010, 10:17:36 AM
This opinion addresses I think a point CCP just made in 'Politics'.

http://weeklystandard.com/articles/think-big

Think Big
Republicans should embrace Paul Ryan's Road Map.
BY Fred Barnes
July 19, 2010

For Republicans, the Road Map authored by congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin is the most important proposal in domestic policy since Ronald Reagan embraced supply side economics in the 1980 presidential campaign. It’s not only the freshest, boldest, and most comprehensive Republican thinking, it’s also the most relevant. If Republicans adopt the Road Map as their basic ideological blueprint, it offers them the prospect of a landslide in the midterm election this year, followed by victory in the presidential election in 2012.

For sure, that’s a lot of weight for a policy statement drafted by a 40-year-old House member to bear. But the Road Map is perfectly timed to deal with the crises of the moment: economic stagnation, uncontrolled spending, the deficit and long-term debt, soaring tax rates, health care, the housing problem, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid.

Yet Republican leaders are wary of endorsing it, and for understandable reasons. The Road Map is sweeping and politically risky. It would overhaul popular programs like Medicare, relying on individuals to make decisions now made by government. Democrats are already attacking it. When Ryan delivered the weekly Republican radio address in late June, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi put out a press release under the heading, “Republicans Make Key Advocate of Privatizing Social Security and Ending Medicare Their Spokesman on Budget.”

Democrats insist focus groups have rejected Ryan’s reform of Medicare. When swing voters learn Medicare would become “a voucher system .  .  . it has a massive impact,” Democratic strategist Robert Creamer wrote in the Huffington Post. “People like the Democratic program of Medicare.”

Republican leaders fear the Road Map might jeopardize, or at least minimize, what is expected to be a decisive Republican victory in the November midterm election. Their advantage in the congressional generic poll is at an all-time high, and President Obama’s approval rating has dropped to the mid-40s. Given these usually reliable indicators, why give Democrats a target to shoot at?

There are three reasons Republicans should ignore their jitters about the Road Map. The first is that the nation’s disenchantment with Obama and Democrats will take Republicans only so far. There’s a residue of bad feelings toward Republicans from the years the party ruled Congress, spent too much, and produced scandals.

Voters have memories. To overcome their qualms, Republicans need to provide more than a litany of Democratic faults. Voters are frightened about the future of the country. They’re looking for a serious solution to the mess we’re in. The Road Map offers exactly that, plus the opportunity to win more seats than Republicans are likely to capture solely by zinging Democrats.

The second reason should be obvious after the ignominious Republican defeat in May in the race for John Murtha’s old House seat in Pennsylvania. Democrat Mark Critz won by running to the right—against Washington, Obama, spending, the deficit —and Democratic candidates across the country are taking the same tack.

Republican candidates need to put some daylight between themselves and their Democratic opponents. The Road Map will do that. Democrats can’t endorse it for fear of alienating their liberal base, which loathes anything that reduces the size of government. The Road Map stamps Republican candidates as the real conservatives, which is what voters happen to be looking for in 2010.

The third reason is the Republican message (or the absence of one). In Pennsylvania, it was “send a message to Nancy Pelosi.” Voters declined. I like the Republican slogan that worked so well in 1946—“Had enough?” But a slogan is not a message. The Road Map is a message. The country is falling apart, we’re going broke, government is on a takeover binge, the economy is wobbling. The Road Map is the solution. That’s a pretty good message.

Those who tremble at the thought of pushing a big idea should remember the campaign of 1980. Reagan, who for years had warned of the evils of government spending and overreach, suddenly became the champion of an across the board, 30 percent cut in tax rates for individuals and business.

That was very risky. The elder George Bush called it “voodoo economics.” Democrats were certain the whopping tax cut would turn the country against Reagan. Quite the opposite occurred. Reagan would have defeated Jimmy Carter without it, but not by the 10 percentage points he actually won by. The tax cut showed Reagan was serious about reviving the economy and not at all a weakling like Carter.

In 1994, the Contract With America wasn’t as risky. It wasn’t a big idea either, but a collection of smaller ones. Democrats, however, believed it would doom Republican chances of a substantial victory. It didn’t. It can’t be proved, but I think the Contract enlarged the Republican landslide.

For now, the Road Map has a relatively small but growing cheering section. A dozen House members have endorsed it. Senator Jim DeMint praised it in his book Saving Freedom. Jeb Bush likes it. On CNN last week, economic historian Niall Ferguson called Ryan “a serious thinker on the Republican right who’s prepared to grapple with these issues of fiscal sustainability and come up with a plan.”

Ferguson sees the Road Map as “radical fiscal reform,” which it is, and said Washington should recognize it as the alternative to “the Keynesian option,” which Washington doesn’t. “I’m depressed how few people in Washington are prepared to talk about” the Road Map option, he said.

Ryan isn’t depressed. “As soon as people become informed and know the details, the more they like it,” he told me. He says the Road Map is “based on a fundamentally different vision” from the “government-centered ideology now prevailing in Washington .  .  . and restores an American character rooted in individual initiative, entrepreneurship, and opportunity.”

The full plan—“A Road Map for America’s Future”—is outlined in a formidable, 87-page document. It would give everyone a refundable tax credit to buy health insurance, allow individual investment accounts to be carved out of Social Security, reduce the six income tax rates to two (10 and 25 percent), and replace the corporate tax (35 percent) with a business consumption tax (8.5 percent). And that’s not the half of it.

As ranking Republican on the House Budget Committee, Ryan was able to get the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) to run the numbers in his plan. CBO concluded the plan would “make the Social Security and Medicare programs permanently solvent [and] lift the growing debt burden on future generations, and hold federal taxes to no higher than 19 percent of GDP.” Pretty impressive results, I’d say.

The Road Map does one more thing. It would give Republicans an agenda if they gain control of the House or Senate in the midterm election—or a mandate if they win both. “What’s the point of winning an election if you don’t have a mandate?” Ryan asks.

He doesn’t expect a mandate in 2010. “I need to make sure these ideas survive this election,” he says, and set the stage for “the most ideological, sea-changing election in our lifetime” in 2012. Merely survive in 2010? The Road Map can do better than that. How about thrive?
5185  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / False correlation between deficit spending and reducing unemployment illustrated on: July 11, 2010, 02:10:44 PM
Since Pelosi-Obama took control of congress and the federal government in Jan. 2007 deficit spending increased tenfold and unemployment went from 5% to 10%. 

Seems like just numbers on a page?  Watch it happen month by month, county by county in full color across the fruited plain:

http://cohort11.americanobserver.net/latoyaegwuekwe/multimediafinal.html
5186  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Government Spending: Ineffectiveness of Pork on: July 11, 2010, 02:04:37 PM
"... despite the $4 billion in pork that Byrd served his constituents over the past 19 years alone—not to mention the untold billions before observers started keeping tabs—West Virginia remains the third poorest state in the country. Government spending does not prosperity make.

When Byrd became senator in 1959, West Virginia ranked No. 39 in median family income, and No. 42 in per capita income. Today, it's No. 48 in both categories."

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704111704575354870221777334.html
5187  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cognitive Dissonance: Obama and the G20 on: July 11, 2010, 01:42:27 PM
I didn't want to let the occasion of the G20 go by without pointing out this glaring, unreported irony:

It was not just that Obama was wrong with his economic advice that all nations should print borrow or steal to 'stimulate' their economies... it is that he ran against that kind of arrogance - presuming that we always know what is best for other nations.

I wonder how many perfectly good Muslim teenagers around the world will now become terrorists due to that kind of American arrogance...
5188  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Keynesianism Addiction on: July 11, 2010, 11:16:50 AM
WSJ editorialized a while back - that 'Keynes is Dead', the way of thinking, not the man.
Scott Grannis says Supply Side is the key.
Yet we still run our policies through the failed Demand Side model,
from Krugman to Obama, to all of the committees in congress.
Keynesian in a nutshell says: you can "stimulate' the economy
with deficit spending, dropping oodles of money on people, and you will alleviate the downturns.
It must be true, both Obama and Krugman are Nobel Laureates. (So is Yassir Arafat)

It must be true, even though...
In the time of the Great Depression - we had a stock market crash,
like we did in 1987, and at other times,
but for the Great Depression we had the New Deal.
We opened the spout and poured money around.
Money we didn't even have.
And unemployment grew. And it grew and it grew.
So more we spent... and unemployment went to 20...and stayed there.

But this time is different,
or is it so different???
We had the crash - this time it was housing.
We had the panic with the banks, and we had the bank failures.
So we spent and we spent.
The deficit exploded, from 160B to 1.6T, a tenfold expansion.

So what is the result?
Unemployment more than double, from under 5, to just over 10.
What next? you might ask...
Double again.
5189  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: States Rights on: July 10, 2010, 10:44:05 AM
The mishmash and contention in law enforcement is interesting and probably very healthy both here and in the jurisdictions.  I see the L.E. issue differently than say schools, roads, libraries where the locals deserve full responsibility.  Some of the worst crime in Minneapolis for example may come out of gangs (or mob) from Chicago, LA, Mexico or Russia.  If the crime or terrorism is organized and planned elsewhere it may never be possible for the locals to catch up with.  That said, I think most people understand when you cross state lines you face different laws. different enforcement and different penalties (except of course for partial birth murders where the states are not to be trusted). 

The feds were instrumental in taking out some local corruption at the city level here recently, yet I strongly oppose any move from where we are now toward anything that resembles a federal police force.

Our county's population has grown to well over a million people, larger than 8 states, where the entire republic in 1789 was less than 4 million.  Power in the hands of the county sheriff here is not exactly local control either although he is elected and removable.

Federal involvement in cross-state crime should not be confused with the other federal activities where there is no legitimate constitutional justification.

On the other side of it, the idea that local officers in 'sanctuary cities' can be instructed to oppose federal law and not report federal violations that they observe to federal authority also seems to me like a dereliction.
5190  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: July 08, 2010, 04:47:32 PM
    President Obama said that the US and Israel share an "unbreakable" bond.

    Obama should know. He's been trying to break it for months.

           - Fred Thompson
5191  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: NASA, Space programs on: July 08, 2010, 04:44:26 PM
NASA to Put Muslim on Moon Using Muslim Technology
by Scott Ott for ScrappleFace · Comments (21) · ShareThis · Print This Story

(2010-07-08) — The White House today announced a bold new program consistent with NASA’s top priority to help Muslims “feel good about their historic contribution in science and math and engineering,” as the space agency’s chief, Charles Bolden, recently told al Jazeera TV.

http://www.scrappleface.com/?p=4718
5192  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Tax Policy: Different states on: July 08, 2010, 03:57:23 PM
I risk posting this before Lebron James decision is announced.  I think they pay state taxes around the country for every away game.  Where would you want to play your home games?

Top state income tax

Ohio:  6%

New York:  9%

Florida: "No state income tax"

You do the math.

("LeBron James expected to join Miami Heat, league executive says")
5193  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: July 08, 2010, 03:08:24 PM
Interesting debate Crafty.  All sides make good points though I find Scott's supply side conclusion compelling.  Leveraging and de-leveraging will change consumption patterns somewhat - like we saw with the artificial 'wealth effect' of people borrowing back paper gains from the equity in their homes.  But real wealth is created on the production side by investing, risk taking, producing and selling the goods and services across the globe. 

A perfect example of why Keynesian, demand side domestic policies fail is the cash for clunkers program.  We put free money into the program to re-energize Ford, GM and Chrysler. The administrative costs were as high as the credit. The main beneficiaries turned out to be Toyota and Honda.  Some of the money from Japanese companies stays in the U.S. but the program is inefficient (understatement) when it is working and the after-affect is zero - or negative.

(I also find targeted programs of tax credit or public spending initiatives to be a violation of equal protection principles.)

Meanwhile, while we are allowing our successful tax rate cuts to expire - the opposite of stimulus - Taiwan is lowering its corporate tax rate again to stay competitive with Singapore.  China lowered its rate in Jan. 2008, right when our recession was beginning.  When a liberal tells you that after raising taxes on the rich the rates won't be that much worse than those under Reagan, remember this:  We aren't competing in a 1983 world.

Regarding double dip vs slow growth vs crash etc...  we will see.  I really don't know how far we can go in the wrong direction on the policy front before it all comes crashing down.  And if we take the root canal approach, chopping public spending while leaving nothing but pain and uncertainty for the private sector investor/employer, it could be a long hard grind out of this mess.
5194  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cognitive Dissonance: Meet Donald Berwick, Wealth Redistribution Appointee on: July 08, 2010, 02:33:09 PM
Berwick is a recess appointee not because Republicans won't allow a vote.  Just the opposite, Republicans were dying to hold hearings with this ideologue.  

America does NOT have the best health care system.  He favors central planning, opposes free markets... "in the darkness of private enterprise".  In his own words: "Britain, you chose well"
5195  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Politics: Election 2010 on: July 08, 2010, 02:16:57 PM
Republicans have had the momentum since last year when they picked up governorships in New Jersey and Virginia. The Scott Brown election was huge.  Yet Obama trudged on with the agenda and popularity for the policies and for the Dems continued to fall, but everyone knew the November elections were miles away and so much can happen in between.  Polls like Rasmussen showed an energy difference with a major gulf between strongly disapprove over strongly approve, while the other polls watched Obama hold at about 50% approval and a little under.

Now it's the summer doldrums, the economy is sputtering, the oil is reaching the shores - still gushing, the red ink is drowning us and the big new programs haven't even started yet.

In the last 2 days Real Clear Politics average shows Obama going into the net-negative for the first time.  Rasmussen polling likely voters is the most accurate at -9% but Gallup measuring the general public still has him falling to -4 (44 approve to 48 disapprove).

Meanwhile approval for congress is 21% approve, with 71% disapprove, yet Republicans holding only a point advantage on the generic ballot. 

For the seats in the house if the election were held today, they (RCP) have R's at 199, D's at 200 with 36 tossup, meaning tied with less than 3+ months to go.  (Tie is pretty good when you come from 77 seats down.)

Senate today shows R's would pick up 7, a big gain but far (3) short of majority. Of those 3, they would need Boxer's seat and Feingold and Murray.  Possible but only in a landslide on a national scale equal to Scott Brown winning Massachusetts.

If Republicans took the house and took the senate (unlikely), they would still be unable to govern, only able to stall out some of Obama's agenda.  They could not extend the tax cuts or cut corporate rates.  They couldn't repeal Obamacare or pass anything new.  A better scenario strategically than taking majority without power might be to fall just short in both houses, expose Democratic governance just a little longer and hope to continue the momentum into 2012 for the presidency, house and senate, but still no chance of 60 votes to get things done.

From my point of view we are screwed on the public policy front until the popularity and electoral success of pro-growth and pro-freedom candidates causes a change of thinking inside the Democrat party, away from socializing, taking state control and redistributing.  Since there was no shift of policy after the Scott Brown election it is hard at this point to see Dems changing ever.
5196  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / The Economist - IPCC systematic tendencies to accentuate the negative on: July 07, 2010, 12:44:26 PM
http://www.economist.com/blogs/newsbook/2010/07/bias_and_ipcc_report?source=features_box_main

 Accentuate the negative

Jul 5th 2010, 10:11 by The Economist online

FOR everyone else it was the glaciers: for the Dutch it was the flooding. Last January errors in the work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) hit the headlines. The chapter on Asia in the report by the IPCC’s second working group, charged with looking at the impact of climate change and adapting to it, mistakenly claimed that the Himalayan glaciers would be gone by 2035. This contradicted some reasonably basic physics, had not been predicted by the glacier specialists in the first working group (which deals with the natural science of past and future climate change) and was unsupported by any evidence. There was a report from the 1990s which said something similar about all the world’s non-polar glaciers, but it gave the date as 2350. Then there was a crucial typo and some shoddy referencing. Nevertheless the IPCC’s chair, Rajendra Pachauri, had lashed out at people bringing the criticism up, accusing them of “voodoo science”. He then had to eat his words, and set up, with Ban Ki-moon, a panel to look into ways the IPCC might be improved.

Inspired by this to look for other errors, a journalist for a Dutch newspaper spotted that the chapter on Europe gave a figure for the area of the Netherlands below sea level that was much too large. The area at risk of flooding by the sea had been conflated with that at risk of flooding by the Rhine and the Meuse rivers. That the careful Dutch should have provided faulty information and not spotted it in the review process was an embarrassment to the then environment minister, Jacqueline Cramer; following a debate in parliament she called on the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL), an independent body, to look at all the regional chapters in the working group II report and make sure they were up to snuff. This the PBL has now done; its report was published on July 5th.

The authors try hard to make clear that their findings do not undermine the IPCC's conclusions on climate change. And there is nothing in their report as egregious as the glaciers or as embarrassing as the Dutch sea level. But they did find a number of things to take issue with, most of which they thought minor but eight of which they classed as major; and their work seems to bring out a systemic tendency to stress negative effects over positive ones. This tendency can be defended. But a reading of the report suggests there may also be broader and potentialy more misleading bias. The PBL report chose as its main focus a table in the “Summary for Policy Makers” of the IPCC’s 2007 “Synthesis Report”, which brings together the results of working groups one, two and three (which deals with responses to climate change). Where did these bullet points actually come from, the PBL team asked, and how well supported were they?

The auditors found one new error which they deemed major: a statement about the frequency of turbulence in South African fishing waters which had been translated directly into a statement about the productivity of the fisheries. The IPCC has indicated it will produce an erratum for this, and for a number of other errors all concerned deemed minor. But the PBL also identified seven statements, which, while not errors, it thought were deserving of comment (for which read criticism).

Perhaps the most striking relates to Africa. The table in the summary for policy makers reads: “By 2020, in some countries, yields from rain-fed agriculture could be reduced by up to 50%.” The evidence on which this is based says only that yields during years in which there are droughts could be reduced by 50%. Furthermore, the relevant reference applies only for Morocco—and it cites as its source an earlier paper that the PBL says no one, including the IPCC authors, now seems able to find.

Other criticisms turn on a tendency to generalise. Research showing decreased yields of millet, groundnuts and cowpeas in Niger becomes a claim that crop yields are decreasing in the Sahel, the strip that separates the Sahara from the savannah in Africa, rather than that the yields of some crops are decreasing in some parts of the Sahel. The results of research on cattle in Argentina are applied to livestock (which would include pigs, chickens, llamas and the rest) throughout South America. The expert authors do not provide a compelling reason for their claim that fresh water availability will decline overall in south, east and southeast Asia, or that the balance of climate-related effects on the health of Europeans will be negative.

With the exception of the South African fisheries it is not clear that any of this is wrong, which is why, on these matters, the PBL does not speak of error. Martin Parry, a specialist in agriculture who was the co-chair of the second working group's report, defends his colleagues’ work. Agriculture in other parts of North Africa is very like that in Morocco, and during droughts the crop yields there already drop by more than 50%. To say that yields decline in the Sahel does not mean all crop yields in all of the Sahel. Cattle make up most of Latin America’s livestock, and much of the rest of it can be expected to do worse. The IPCC does not just assemble evidence, Parry stresses: it assesses it. When its expert authors weigh their words on things like water in Asia and health effects in Europe they do so in the context of a wide range of knowledge. And they do so in ways that cannot be reduced to ticks in the boxes of Dutch assessors going through things line by line four years later.

The authors might better document the extra insight brought to bear, and be more transparent about the application of their judgment. But at 1000 pages the Working Group II report alone is already a challenge to the book-binder’s art. Does it really need to be longer?

Another problem identified by the PBL analysis is that, in general, negative impacts are stressed over positive ones. The table in the summary for policymakers is almost unremittingly bad news; the conclusions in the chapters that fed into it, while far from cheery, were more mixed. In a similar way, when there is a range of possible impacts, the top end of the range tends to get more play in the summaries for policy makers than the bottom end does. The PBL says that this is a reasonable way to proceed in a document that is explicitly aimed at policy makers thinking about adaptation, but it is not clear how transparent this approach is to readers.

This may reflect a larger issue. Work on the impacts of climate change—the literature Working Group II assesses—tends to focus on vulnerabilities and damage for much the same reason the IPCC authors do. They seem more important, more urgent and quite possibly more fundable. The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change requires countries to assess their vulnerabilities, and these assessments are fodder for Working Group II (one of them was the source for the 50% drop in rain fed agriculture yields). Thus the evidence base from which an assessment of impacts has to start is to some extent skewed.

Perhaps the most worrying thing about the PBL report, though, is a rather obvious one about which its authors say little. In all ten of the issues that the PBL categorised as major (the original errors on glaciers and Dutch sea level, and the eight others identified in the report), the impression that the reader gets from the IPCC is more strikingly negative than the impression which would have been received if the underlying evidence base had been reflected as the PBL would have wished, with more precise referencing, more narrow interpretation and less authorial judgment. A large rise in heat related deaths in Australia is mentioned without noting that most of the effect is due to population rather than climate change. A claim about forest fires in northern Asia seems to go further than the evidence referred to—in this case a speech by a politician—would warrant.

The Netherlands look more floodable, Asian glaciers more fragile. A suspicion thus gains ground that the way in which the IPCC sythesises, generalises snd checks its findings may systematically favour adverse outcomes in a way that goes beyond just serving the needs of policy makers. Anecdotally, authors bemoan fights to keep caveats in place as chapters are edited, refined and summarised. The PBL report does not prove or indeed suggest systematic bias, and it stresses that it has found nothing that should lead the parliament of the Netherlands, or anyone else, to reject the IPCC’s findings. But the panel set up to look at the IPCC’s workings by Dr Pachauri and Mr Ban should ask some hard questions about systematic tendencies to accentuate the negative.
5197  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government Programs, spending, budget process on: July 07, 2010, 09:43:47 AM
I don't always follow other people's logic pattern.  When you need to draw an absurdly false hypothetical (an actively practicing MD below the poverty line) in order to draw the opposite conclusion, does that mean you actually agree with me?   smiley   He pays in and doesn't receive those perks.  They (in general) don't pay and do receive the perks.  Why not just welcome that widely held frustration to be expressed here on the board and move on with whatever is your view or proposal for the problem.

California without illegals is also an absurdly false hypothetical as well.  California today comes with the illegals no matter what we do in the future with the border.  The flow of illegals into California probably has more to do with the generosity of the public benefits and the sanctuary status of the cities than it does with the height of the fence.
5198  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Kagan on: July 07, 2010, 09:30:15 AM
It was the phony 'scientific' political advocacy group that altered the document. She, as an officer of the court, did not in good faith disclose to the court her role in writing their phony, altered conclusion.  Their original conclusion was a "DISASTER" for the legal argument she was making - that was HER description of it - and she kept the court from seeing it.

"Agree or disagree with the issue of abortion"

This isn't the issue of abortion. This isn't the blob that poster Rachel compared with sperm or embryos.  This is the most extreme fringe way out their at the end of the least protected trimester of the Court's bizarre and splintered previous ruling.  Late term 'little ones' are developed and ready to go, easier to deliver and rescue than to perform this murderous procedure which is abhorrent to any conscience-based moral being unless you lie as she did to the court about the reasons to say it is necessary.  The procedure was ILLEGAL in Nebraska.  That was the point of the case, using phony non-conclusions of non-scientific, misrepresentations, written by counsel but entered as expert scientific testimony, a fraud on the court, to try to keep Nebraskans from setting their own state law protecting innocent, developed, viable human life.

These memos were unavailable until now so whether she should just apologize or be jailed or disbarred is an issue that has not yet begun consideration or due process.

What we do know is that she shares the morals of her former boss Clinton, his national security adviser with the documents in 'the briefs' and has offended no one in the current administration with this smoking-gun revelation.  Makes me wonder what memos and emails were not yet disclosed.  I'm sure they didn't intend to let this one slip through in the document dump to the committee.

I wouldn't want anyone with her zero integrity view of our justice system on MY side of the arguments much less as lifetime appointment to advance political liberalism via the judiciary.  
5199  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government Programs, spending, budget process on: July 06, 2010, 03:51:38 PM
I'm not CCP  smiley but I can imagine that he has no right to free legal, free health care, free food stamps etc while many of them do.
5200  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government Programs, spending, budget process on: July 06, 2010, 01:36:41 PM
"Yet the market is strongly up this morning.   huh "

That housing start headline was a couple of weeks old, sorry that didn't come through with my excerpting.  I guess the market is over the concern about worst housing since 1963...
------
"what Obama is (really) saying is I inherited a deficit that I voted for and then I voted to expand that deficit four-fold since January 20th."   - Exactly true.  That is the line they should run on - and be proud!
------
"Budgets do not come from the White House. They come from Congress"

Surrounded by liberals over the holiday at one point they all agreed that our deficits really came from Reagan.  Points already covered here but a) Reagan never had a Republican house, b) tax cuts caused revenues to double in the 1980s, c) the deficits came from spending over, above and ahead of the doubling, and d) the delay from congress to enact Reagan's tax cuts caused initial downturn, delaying the growth.
------

Back to Crafty's point about 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, etc: 

The two largest tax revenue increase years in history in terms of dollars collected by the Treasury were the two years that ended with the election of the Pelosi-Obama congress.  If they had taken that opportunity to lock in the successful tax rates (remove expiration) and committed to spending within those means, the economic results that followed would be enormously different.  Unfortunately that was not the path chosen.

This current group of Democrats has been in charge since Jan. 2007 when the deficit headed upward.  They were also on board during all of the emergency measures passed during the Presidential transition.  They want power but don't seem to like taking responsibility.
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