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5201  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Fed, Banking, Monetary Policy, Dollar & other currencies, Gold/Silver on: August 02, 2012, 04:38:42 PM
That was quite a scary video!

Step one is repeal the 'dual mandate'.  That would simplify their mission.


A couple of money quotes:

"Inflation is taxation without legislation."

"Only government can take perfectly good paper, cover it with perfectly good ink and make the combination worthless."

    - Milton Friedman
5202  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Economics - Milton Friedman on: August 02, 2012, 02:43:37 PM
Milton Friedman would be 100 this week, so a number of articles are circulating to honor him.

Thomas Sowell:

Stephen Moore:

Donald J. Boudreaux, professor of economics at George Mason University

'Free to Choose' television series:

Greed smackdown:

Reagan biographer and Powerline contributor Steven Hayward:

Posted on July 31, 2012 by Steven Hayward in Conservatism, Economy
Milton Friedman at 100

Today is Milton Friedman’s 100th birthday.  It is one of the great privileges of my life to have known him some, and to have spent some time with him in San Francisco back in the 1990s.  Driving with him up and down the hills of San Francisco was not for the faint of heart.  All of his rational calculations of risk seemed to go out the window when he was behind the wheel of his Lexus.  And one of my cherished possessions is the very kind note Milton sent to tell me how much he enjoyed the first volume of my Age of Reagan books, where he makes several appearances.

Thomas Sowell, a student of Milton’s at Chicago, recalls him here.  My pal Steve Moore also recalls his importance in the Wall Street Journal today, calling him “The Man Who Saved Capitalism.”

    In the 1960s, Friedman famously explained that “there’s no such thing as a free lunch.” If the government spends a dollar, that dollar has to come from producers and workers in the private economy. There is no magical “multiplier effect” by taking from productive Peter and giving to unproductive Paul. As obvious as that insight seems, it keeps being put to the test. Obamanomics may be the most expensive failed experiment in free-lunch economics in American history.

    Equally illogical is the superstition that government can create prosperity by having Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke print more dollars. In the very short term, Friedman proved, excess money fools people with an illusion of prosperity. But the market quickly catches on, and there is no boost in output, just higher prices.

I might (but might not) quarrel slightly with Steve’ second paragraph here, as it seems velocity—one of the key terms of Friedman’s basic equation of monetarism (MV=PQ) fell sharply during the recession and may still be off, though it is hard for the layman to tell.  We visited this subject once before, and it brings vividly to mind a dinner I once enjoyed with Milton and the president of a regional Fed bank in the early 1990s in San Francisco, and I was immediately in way over my head as they argued the virtues and defects of the M1, M2, and M3 measures of the money supply.  Even among monetarist economists, there are serious and honest differences in evaluating the economy and prescribing the right monetary course.  (Though one thing Milton was absolutely against was the gold standard.  I learned that in my very first conversation with him way back in the 1980s.)

Easier to grasp is Milton’s piercing of the pretentions of things like Obama’s stimulus.  My all time favorite Milton story involves the time he was motoring in Europe, and noticed a large group of men digging in a field with shovels.  Milton asked someone why they didn’t use a steam shovel or earth mover, and was told that digging with shovels was an employment measure, and if they used an earth mover it would put people out of work.  To which Milton naturally followed up: “Then why don’t you give them spoons?”

There are lots of good videos of Milton on YouTube, many of them drawn from his fabulous “Free to Choose” television series.  But my favorite for today is this very short smackdown of Phil Donahue on the subject of “greed.”  Enjoy!  (UPDATE: A faithful correspondent reminds me about the Milton Friedman Choir, singing about the corporation, so I’ve added this one, too.)
5203  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tax Policy, not humor on: August 02, 2012, 02:19:50 PM
Received in the email:

Tax his land,
Tax his bed,
Tax the table,
At which he's fed.

Tax his tractor,
Tax his mule,
Teach him taxes
Are the rule.

Tax his work,
Tax his pay,
He works for
peanuts anyway!

Tax his cow,
Tax his goat,
Tax his pants,
Tax his coat.

Tax his ties,
Tax his shirt,
Tax his work,
Tax his dirt.

Tax his tobacco,
Tax his drink,
Tax him if he
Tries to think.

Tax his cigars,
Tax his beers,
If he cries
Tax his tears.

Tax his car,
Tax his gas,
Find other ways
To tax his ass.

Tax all he has
Then let him know
That you won't be done
Till he has no dough.

When he screams and hollers;
Then tax him some more,
Tax him till
He's good and sore.

Then tax his coffin,
Tax his grave,
Tax the sod in
Which he's laid...

Put these words
Upon his tomb,
'Taxes drove me
to my doom...'

When he's gone,
Do not relax,
Its time to apply
The inheritance tax.

Accounts Receivable Tax
Building Permit Tax
CDL license Tax
Cigarette Tax
Corporate Income Tax
Dog License Tax
Excise Taxes
Federal Income Tax
Federal Unemployment Tax (FUTA)
Fishing License Tax
Food License Tax
Fuel Permit Tax
Gasoline Tax (currently 44.75 cents per gallon)
Gross Receipts Tax
Hunting License Tax
Inheritance Tax
Inventory Tax
IRS Interest Charges IRS Penalties (tax on top of tax)
Liquor Tax
Luxury Taxes
Marriage License Tax
Medicare Tax
Personal Property Tax
Property Tax
Real Estate Tax
Service Charge Tax
Social Security Tax
Road Usage Tax
Recreational Vehicle Tax
Sales Tax
School Tax
State Income Tax
State Unemployment Tax (SUTA)
Telephone Federal Excise Tax
Telephone Federal Universal Service Fee Tax
Telephone Federal, State and Local Surcharge Taxes
Telephone Minimum Usage Surcharge Tax
Telephone Recurring and Nonrecurring Charges Tax
Telephone State and Local Tax
Telephone Usage Charge Tax
Utility Taxes
Vehicle License Registration Tax
Vehicle Sales Tax
Watercraft Registration Tax
Well Permit Tax
Workers Compensation Tax

Not one of these taxes existed 100 years ago
5204  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Romney's Recovery Plan on: August 02, 2012, 12:26:40 PM
Glenn Hubbard: The Romney Plan for Economic Recovery
Tax cuts, spending restraint and repeal of Obama's regulatory excesses would mean 12 million new jobs in his first term alone.

By GLENN HUBBARD  (Romney adviser, Dean of Columbia Business School)

We are currently in the most anemic economic recovery in the memory of most Americans. Declining consumer sentiment and business concerns over policy uncertainty weigh on the minds of all of us. We must fix our economy's growth and jobs machine.

We can do this. The U.S. economy has the talent, ideas, energy and capital for the robust economic growth that has characterized much of America's experience in our lifetimes. Our standard of living and the nation's standing as a world power depend on restoring that growth.

But to do so we must have vastly different policies aimed at stopping runaway federal spending and debt, reforming our tax code and entitlement programs, and scaling back costly regulations. Those policies cannot be found in the president's proposals. They are, however, the core of Gov. Mitt Romney's plan for economic recovery and renewal.

In response to the recession, the Obama administration chose to emphasize costly, short-term fixes—ineffective stimulus programs, myriad housing programs that went nowhere, and a rush to invest in "green" companies.

As a consequence, uncertainty over policy—particularly over tax and regulatory policy—slowed the recovery and limited job creation. One recent study by Scott Baker and Nicholas Bloom of Stanford University and Steven Davis of the University of Chicago found that this uncertainty reduced GDP by 1.4% in 2011 alone, and that returning to pre-crisis levels of uncertainty would add about 2.3 million jobs in just 18 months.

The Obama administration's attempted short-term fixes, even with unprecedented monetary easing by the Federal Reserve, produced average GDP growth of just 2.2% over the past three years, and the consensus outlook appears no better for the year ahead.

Moreover, the Obama administration's large and sustained increases in debt raise the specter of another financial crisis and large future tax increases, further chilling business investment and job creation. A recent study by Ernst & Young finds that the administration's proposal to increase marginal tax rates on the wage, dividend and capital-gain income of upper-income Americans would reduce GDP by 1.3% (or $200 billion per year), kill 710,000 jobs, depress investment by 2.4%, and reduce wages and living standards by 1.8%. And according to the Congressional Budget Office, the large deficits codified in the president's budget would reduce GDP during 2018-2022 by between 0.5% and 2.2% compared to what would occur under current law.

President Obama has ignored or dismissed proposals that would address our anti-competitive tax code and unsustainable trajectory of federal debt—including his own bipartisan National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform—and submitted no plan for entitlement reform. In February, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner famously told congressional Republicans that this administration was putting forth no plan, but "we know we don't like yours."

Other needed reforms would emphasize opening global markets for U.S. goods and services—but the president has made no contribution to the global trade agenda, while being dragged to the support of individual trade agreements only recently.

The president's choices cannot be ascribed to a political tug of war with Republicans in Congress. He and Democratic congressional majorities had two years to tackle any priority they chose. They chose not growth and jobs but regulatory expansion. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act raised taxes, unleashed significant new spending, and raised hiring costs for workers. The Dodd-Frank Act missed the mark on housing and "too-big-to-fail" financial institutions but raised financing costs for households and small and mid-size businesses.

These economic errors and policy choices have consequences—record high long-term unemployment and growing ranks of discouraged workers. Sadly, at the present rate of job creation and projected labor-force growth, the nation will never return to full employment.

It doesn't have to be this way. The Romney economic plan would fundamentally change the direction of policy to increase GDP and job creation now and going forward. The governor's plan puts growth and recovery first, and it stands on four main pillars:

• Stop runaway federal spending and debt. The governor's plan would reduce federal spending as a share of GDP to 20%—its pre-crisis average—by 2016. This would dramatically reduce policy uncertainty over the need for future tax increases, thus increasing business and consumer confidence.

• Reform the nation's tax code to increase growth and job creation. The Romney plan would reduce individual marginal income tax rates across the board by 20%, while keeping current low tax rates on dividends and capital gains. The governor would also reduce the corporate income tax rate—the highest in the world—to 25%. In addition, he would broaden the tax base to ensure that tax reform is revenue-neutral.

• Reform entitlement programs to ensure their viability. The Romney plan would gradually reduce growth in Social Security and Medicare benefits for more affluent seniors and give more choice in Medicare programs and benefits to improve value in health-care spending. It would also block grant the Medicaid program to states to enable experimentation that might better serve recipients.

• Make growth and cost-benefit analysis important features of regulation. The governor's plan would remove regulatory impediments to energy production and innovation that raise costs to consumers and limit new job creation. He would also work with Congress toward repealing and replacing the costly and burdensome Dodd–Frank legislation and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The Romney alternatives will emphasize better financial regulation and market-oriented, patient-centered health-care reform.

In contrast to the sclerosis and joblessness of the past three years, the Romney plan offers an economic U-turn in ideas and choices. When bolstered by sound trade, education, energy and monetary policy, the Romney reform program is expected by the governor's economic advisers to increase GDP growth by between 0.5% and 1% per year over the next decade. It should also speed up the current recovery, enabling the private sector to create 200,000 to 300,000 jobs per month, or about 12 million new jobs in a Romney first term, and millions more after that due to the plan's long-run growth effects.

But these gains aren't just about numbers, as important as those numbers are. The Romney approach will restore confidence in America's economic future and make America once again a place to invest and grow.
5205  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Political Economics: Obama Wins The Gold For Worst Economic Recovery Ever on: August 02, 2012, 12:08:58 PM
You might recall, a claim similar to this was the centerpiece of Washington Post Dana Milbank's tirade that Mitt Romney was a liar, repeated ad nauseum by MSNBC's Rachel Maddow and the like.  The number one 'lie' in his "The Facts vs. Mitt Romney" column was this: "He blamed President Barack Obama for the "weakest economic recovery since the Great Depression."..."That Romney resorts to such gratuitous falsehoods discredits his leadership more than his opponent's."

Turns out it was true??
Forbes Magazine:  "Obama Wins The Gold For Worst Economic Recovery Ever"

If mismanaging an economic recovery were an Olympic event, President Obama would be standing on the middle platform right now, accepting the gold medal.

Deep recessions are supposed to be followed by strong recoveries, but, under Obama, the worst recession since the 1930s has been followed by the slowest economic recovery in the history of the republic.  In a very real sense, there has been no recovery at all—things are still getting worse.

To win the gold for economic mismanagement, Obama had to beat out some very tough competitors, including the previous Olympic record holder, George W. Bush.  Let’s look at how Obama pulled it off.

For those not familiar with the sport, the Olympic “Worst First Three Years of Economic Recovery” event is a pentathlon—it’s composed of five individual trials.

The trials making up this pentathlon are as follows: 1) total employment growth; 2) unemployment rate reduction; 3) per capita GDP growth; 4) change in the Real Dow; and 5) change in real produced assets.

Because the goal is economic mismanagement, in the total employment growth event, the lowest number wins.

Obama was victorious in this trial by producing an increase in jobs during the first 36 months of his economic recovery of only 1.72%.  This handily beat out Bush 43, who turned in a jobs gain of 2.93% during his recovery, and the team of Bush 41 and Bill Clinton, who delivered 3.64% more jobs during theirs.  And, Obama absolutely creamed Ronald Reagan, who produced an increase in total jobs of 8.97% during the first three years of the economic recovery that he oversaw.

Obama struggled in the “reducing the unemployment rate” event.  It was easy for Obama to do worse than Reagan, who had reduced the “headline” (U-3) unemployment rate by a massive 3.8 percentage points during the first three years of his recovery.  However, in terms of turning in a bad unemployment performance, both the Bush 41 – Clinton team and Bush 43 had started with an unfair advantage.

Obama’s recovery came out of the blocks with an unemployment rate of 9.5%, which was far higher than where either the Bush 41 – Clinton team started (6.8%) or where Bush 43 began (5.5%).  Accordingly, it was much harder for Obama to do worse than those two, because he would have to produce a smaller reduction in the unemployment rate than they did.

When the scores were first totaled, Obama (at 1.3 percentage points of reduction in the unemployment rate) was far behind both the Bush 41 – Clinton team (at 0.3 percentage points), and Bush 43 (at 0.1 percentage points).

However, Obama appealed to the judges, pointing out that, when measured by the more comprehensive “SGS Alternate Unemployment Rate” published by Shadow Government Statistics, he had actually managed to increase unemployment by 2.0 percentage points during his economic recovery.  Meanwhile, the other three competitors had reduced their jobless rates, no matter how you measured them.  The judges agreed, and they awarded first place in this event to Obama.

The officials then studied the replay tapes, and gave Obama extra credit for managing to push the U.S. 2.5 million jobs farther away from full employment during his economic recovery.  The other three contestants could not match that.

Next up was the “real per capita GDP growth” event.  Obama won this one decisively.

The total increase in real GDP per capita during the first three years of Obama’s recovery was only 4.34%.  This was worse than Bush 43 (5.98%) and the Bush 41 – Clinton team (5.61%).  Once again, Ronald Reagan brought up the rear in this important area of economic mismanagement.  He produced a stunning 15.36% gain in real per capita GDP during the first three years of his economic recovery.

The last two trials in the Olympic “Worst First Three Years of Economic Recovery” pentathlon relate to building a prosperous future for the U.S. economy.

The Real Dow is the Dow Jones Industrial Average divided by the price of gold.  It is a proxy for the driving force to invest in economic growth, rather than to park capital in “safe” investments like gold and government bonds.

In the Real Dow event, Obama had to settle for second place.  Bush 43 beat him soundly by managing to depress the Real Dow by a massive 35.6% during the first three years of the economic recovery that he oversaw.  However, in terms of economic destruction, Obama turned in a creditable performance, pushing the Real Dow down by 11.6% during his first three years of economic recovery.

In this event, the Bush 41 – Clinton team did not seem to be clear on the concept.  The Real Dow rose by 13.5% during their watch.  And, once again, Ronald Reagan came in dead last, producing a massive 89.9% increase in the Real Dow during the first three years of his powerful economic recovery.

Obama finished strong by blowing away the competition in the “change in real produced assets” trial.  Produced assets comprise the physical infrastructure of our economy, and economic progress depends upon building up our stock of produced assets.

During the first full year of Obama’s economic recovery (2010), real produced assets actually fell by 1.41%.  This is the biggest drop during the 60 years for which data is available.  It is also the only decline ever observed during an economic recovery.

Ronald Reagan finished second in this trial with a 0.16% increase in fixed assets during 1983.  The Bush 41 – Clinton team and Bush 43 tied in this event.  They both produced a 3.42% gain in real produced assets, in 1992 and 2002, respectively.

We should all be proud that Barack Obama has won the Olympic gold medal in the “Worst First Three Years of Economic Recovery” event, and reward him accordingly in November.
5206  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Foreign Policy - Cancel missile defense for active unbalancing? on: August 02, 2012, 10:49:21 AM
Interesting Strat as usual.  Missing it seems in the summary of the Obama record was the decision to cancel missile defense installations in Eastern Europe where it appeared that appeasement of the Russians trumped the commitments made to Czech, Poland, Belarus and our own security.  Isn't that active regional unbalancing?

We were left to wonder what we received back for this major turnaround in strategy.  The answer it appears was nothing.  Just that he will have more flexibility to make even deeper disarmament concessions after the election.
5207  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Volunteer "Pravda" network of "reporters" on: August 01, 2012, 02:03:11 PM
Good question Obj (corrupt media comments on Pres 2012 thread) and I'm sure there is no great answer.  I resent having to go to right wing sites to get basic news and analysis that should be more widely available.  The market is making it's own correction but it's happening too slow and not in the way we might have expected.  As you mention, the huge successes of Rush L and Fox News are examples of movement, yet the so-called mainstream seem unchanged in spite of market share they surrender..  Obviously the circulation of stories and facts, opinions and analyses through sites like this is our way of getting the information out.

A Russian immigrant observed that it is worse, in a way, here than in the old Soviet Union with the real Pravda.  They have one state run media while we have a whole near-monopoly conspiracy of them, repeating and amplifying a message the rest of us find biased and deceitful.

One of the most insightful feature of the Rush L show now copied by others is the media montage.  They aren't just telling the same story, they are using the same words.  One of the first I picked up "gravitas" with the Cheney choice for VP.  The point of course to them is that is what George Bush lacked at the top of the ticket.  That word went from never used to in almost every sentence on every media outlet covering the choice.  Since then there have been dozens and dozens more examples.  Even Fox News on the radio is a parrot of the other networks IMO.  The choice of words covering an issue can be crucial.

Places like Powerline and others take on institutions like the NY Times regularly.  They got them today on the flaws in their poll and they've exposed them big time on a host of badly covered topics.  Still their readership is small compared to the bankrupting newspaper.  They also played a big part in taking down Dan Rather on his 'fake but true' story, but they did not take down the liberal bias of SeeBS.  Microsoft pulled back from but that didn't change the bias on cable.  My thought was that these exposures of bias caused errors would lead to a shake up and a correction.  Instead they take pride in their niche while their importance is diminishing.

I used to write opposition pieces for the local paper; my counterpoint ran across from the Mpls StarTribune (star and sickle) endorsement of Bill Clinton in 92.  In their editing, they cut a key paragraph that tied in with other points I was making.  After that I wrote 'no editing without my permission' on subsequent submissions and was never published there again.

Other conservatives advise not to write for them at all.  Don't help them improve their product.  Let it die and the best way to make them go away is to ignore them completely and get news from better sources.

I like to search for stories of interest from the accumulator sites, Real Clear Politics is one of the best, also Drudge, The Blaze, Free Republic and DBMA. )  Google News allows you to choose which outlet to read a current story.  Powerlineblog keeps a running referral to about 6 picks of noteworthy stories current on the web.  WSJ's James Taranto writes a Best of the Web piece every business afternoon, no subscription required, with excellent insights and humor.  Add in the Huffington Post, might as well turn to left instead of pretend mainstream to know what they are thinking and reading.  It is important to see and read the opponents in their own words, so don't leave those out no matter your view.

Seriously this forum is an excellent antidote because the posters here all share from their own unique reading lists on a wide range of topics and issues.  
5208  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Music - Aaron Copland, Fanfare on: August 01, 2012, 12:44:57 PM
As much as I like Dick Morris, his lunch alert viewers deserve a longer version of the spectacular intro music, American composer Aaron Copland's Fanfare for the Common Man.  Enjoy:
5209  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / First Amendment Freedom of Speech, It's Chick Fil-A Appreciation Day! on: August 01, 2012, 12:19:36 PM
In celebration of the First Amendment, today is Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day

Restaurant Locator:

Enjoy a little lunch or dinner with your freedom of speech.
5210  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Foreign Policy of David Axelrod on: August 01, 2012, 12:08:11 PM
Who runs US foreign policy?  A Stanford Senior Fellow says political implications come first.

The Foreign Policy of David Axelrod
by Fouad Ajami (Senior Fellow and cochair, Working Group on Islamism and the International Order)
In the Obama administration, politics trumps grand strategy.

By latest count, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has logged 843,448 miles on the job: She is officially now the most traveled Secretary of State in U.S. history, 102 countries have seen her come and go. In one dispatch, it was breakfast in Vietnam, lunch in Laos, and dinner in Cambodia for our chief diplomat.

In the interim, campaign strategist David Axelrod has stayed close to home, Chicago and Washington, with one notable stop in Boston, where he sought to besmirch the gubernatorial record of Mitt Romney. But the foreign policy of Barack Obama is the foreign policy of David Axelrod. Gone is that hallowed past when the legendary George Marshall observed a strict separation between foreign policy and the political play at home: He had refused to cast a vote in presidential elections and he had bristled when the “political people” in President Truman’s circle of advisors intruded into the foreign policy domain.

We needn’t exalt the past—presidents always worried about the impact of foreign crises on their standing at home. Still, the subordination of foreign policy to the electoral needs of the Obama campaign stands apart in recent American history. Foreign policy has been masterfully neutralized in the Obamian world, taken off the board in this campaign.

Strategic Abdication in Afghanistan & Iraq

The meteoric rise of Barack Obama, the adoring crowds in Paris and Berlin, and the early dispatches from an Islamic world that looked upon him as a kindred spirit, concealed a political man with scant interest in foreign lands. Mr. Obama left the devotees to their own imagination; they read into him what they wished. He had come into office in the aftermath of an uncompromising American nationalist; he held aloft symbols of cosmopolitanism, and a supra-national elite took to him. But the animating drive of his foreign policy was his own quest for power.

Right from the start, he would play the foreign world safe. He had trumpeted Afghanistan as the “good war of necessity,” but he never gave the war his all. This was not Lyndon Johnson haunted by Vietnam, or George W. Bush pressing on in Iraq when all appeared lost in 2006–2007, defying the popular mood, launching a surge in the teeth of a hostile Congress, and a Republican party that had grown uncertain about Iraq.

Barack Obama came up with his own surge in Afghanistan, but he undercut the effort there by announcing a set date for American withdrawal in 2014—two safe years after his bid for reelection. There would be no “heat,” no soaring poetry about Afghanistan.

Early on, President Obama had talked of a “civilian surge” to go along with the additional military force he had dispatched—agricultural specialists, educators, engineers, and lawyers who would tackle the problems of the country from the bottom up in the provinces. By the second year of his presidency, Mr. Obama would say little if anything about the reform of Afghanistan. The early dream of “nation-building” was abandoned. It was well understood that this commander-in-chief was marking time in Afghanistan.

He had his Republican rivals on the horns of a dilemma: They could neither outflank him from the right by calling for more troops and a deeper commitment, nor urge writing off the entire venture as a doomed enterprise. Mission Accomplished, Mr. Obama had inoculated himself on Afghanistan.

The success of Mr. Obama’s (read: Axelrod’s) approach was made manifestly clear in the speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars that Governor Romney made on July 24. Hitherto, Mr. Romney had made the obligatory challenge to the Obama deadline. But he, too, now accepted 2014 as a set date for an American withdrawal. The Taliban needn’t worry: The electoral verdict in November 2012 is of no consequence to them. They could wait out the American presence. The Hamid Karzai reign of plunder and extortion would be ready for the plucking by then.

In the same vein, there were strategic gains secured in Iraq, but Mr. Obama headed for the exits. Politics clashed with strategic interests, and politics prevailed. It was well understood that the Iraqi government was eager for a residual American presence that would give it sufficient time to make its way in the region. Further, it was known that the Iraqis and the American military commanders on the scene had in mind an American force of roughly 20,000 military personnel, or close to it.

But Mr. Obama made the Iraqis an offer they were meant to refuse; a token force of less than 5,000, hardly enough to fend for itself, let alone offer the Iraqis any meaningful protection. Mr. Obama got the result he wanted. His surest applause line, in his acceptance speech this summer, will be the boast that he kept the promise to his base of bringing to an end the American campaign in Iraq.

A Fluke in Libya

Admittedly, Libya was the one exception to this foreign policy of strategic abdication. The Libyans were lucky: This was a solar-lunar eclipse. Mr. Obama had done his best to keep the struggle against Moammar Gaddafi at bay, but David Cameron and Nicolas Sarkozy had taken the plunge into Libya, and American power—decisive in the end—destroyed the Gaddafi dictatorship. Gaddafi had been particularly obtuse: He had stated for the world to hear his intention of bringing death and slaughter to the rebellious city of Benghazi.

Mr. Obama’s reputation was in the scales of history, a mini-Rwanda appeared to be in the offing. Mr. Obama did right by the Libyans. But he tipped his hand. The Obama administration steadfastly refused to celebrate or claim the victory in Libya. That country would be kept at arm’s length, even as a parliamentary election handed a defeat to the Islamists, and went the way of a big secular/tribal coalition headed by a technocrat with an American doctorate. Libya would not be repeated elsewhere, it was a fluke, not a template. No Obama doctrine at work here.

Syria: “We Miss Bush’s Audacity”

The Syrians would come to envy the luck of the Libyans. For seventeen remorseless months, the Syrian people would be subjected to all kinds of cruelties. More than two dozen “torture centers” would mete out to a suffering population unspeakable barbarisms. Over 1,200 children have perished in this pitiless war of a regime against its own population; young children would be brutalized, used as human shields by the convoys of the security forces; benign farming villages would become code names for heartlessness.

“Massacres have become like breakfast to us,” a political activist recently observed. In the face of all this, the Obama policy has been one of total abdication. The Secretary of State has carried out her president’s brief: She has been running out the clock, seeking cover behind the arcane doings of the United Nations Security Council, making it appear as though deliverance hinged on a change in the attitude of Russia at the United Nations. Any “Model UN” high school team would have foreseen the vetoes of Russia—and China—at the Security Council. Truth is that Russian diplomacy has been a convenient alibi for a quiescent American policy.

The sophistry that has gone into arguing that “Syria is not Libya” is unworthy of a great liberal power. Nor can the exquisitely tortured discussions of the “difficult” borders of Syria stand any scrutiny. If anything, those sensitive borders and the spillover of Syria’s troubles and pathologies into Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, and Turkey, should have long tipped the scales in favor of an interventionist Syria policy. There is will—and there are resources—in the region to upend the Syrian dictatorship, for Bashar al-Assad has unleashed a full-scale sectarian war that has unnerved and antagonized his neighbors.

But the world is what it is, and the regional powers await an American green light that has never come. Plainly, an American president boastful that he had quit Iraq can not stand before his “progressive” base and proclaim the assumption of a new burden in Syria.

“The tide of war is receding” is one of the favorite mantras of this administration and its leaders. But what is receding before our eyes is the American influence in the world order. Mr. Obama has narrowed the horizons of a country with historically wide vistas. In the Obamian world, that which can’t be done with drones and the daring of our SEALs is left untended. In a note of exquisite irony, Barack Obama had made much of his predecessor’s poor standing in Islamic lands. Trumpet the polls, fall to them: Mr. Obama’s standing in Egypt, Jordan, and Pakistan, according to the Pew Global Attitudes Survey, is now lower than George W. Bush’s standing. A placard carried by a group of Syrian protesters tells it all: “We miss Bush’s audacity.”  

Now it could be that the American people have been made weary by foreign engagements, and that the economic distress—our debt, our deficits, an anemic recovery, persisting high levels of unemployment—has made us reticent in the face of burdens abroad. That would be an irony all its own—a president who mismanaged the economy being rewarded for the lack of confidence his presidency itself has generated.

From the very beginning, Mr. Obama has been a herald of a “declinist” reading of America. We can’t aid the Syrians, our touch would sully them. We can’t identity ourselves with the democratic aspirations of the Iranians, for we must conciliate their rulers. We can’t defend the cause of liberty and freedom, for in that Obamian worldview, freedom is a fragile, uncertain bet the world over.

So our Secretary of State circles the globe, nine countries in thirteen days in one recent expedition. The bet of this president is that the American people will neither notice, nor care about, the erosion of the American ascendency that enabled this country to do good and to do well in the order of nations. Come November, the country will deliver its verdict on this stunted vision of its place in the world.
5211  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential - Polling for a News Story on: August 01, 2012, 12:03:29 PM
(Should be a Media Issue...)  At a time when Pres. Obama couldn't buy a good news story, he didn't need to.  The useful idiots in the biased polling business have stepped up to the plate to declare Obama with big leads in key states.  The poll becomes the news story hopefully in their mind giving the President a lift.  No .;can prove them wrong in July.  By late October they have to shape up their numbers to protect their rotten reputations.  Meanwhile these outliars will linger and figure into the most respected polling averages for some time to come.

Poll internals:

What they do in Florida for example is oversample Dems by 13 points.  In a best case year or 2008, Obama won Fla by 4.  In the most recent statewide contest wide nationwide implications, Republican Marco Rubio won Florida by a million votes and second place was a Republican.  So much for polling Dems at +13 to get a result of the Dem leading by 6.

5212  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Romney on: August 01, 2012, 11:11:44 AM
"Romney is a buffoon.  Too bad the Republicans couldn't find someone better.  Romney may still win, but it will be in spite of himself, not because of himself."

Is ad hominem - against the person - the best that you've got?  Notghing about governing philosophy or policy? Bob Shrum, a Dem operative, doesn't like him either.  And we were counting on his vote.

Gaffes that aren't gaffes and not a mention of the 2 things that did happened on the trip, the stand with Israel  speech in Jerusalem and the Reagan-like pro-freedom speech in Poland.

On the Olympics, they asked someone who ran them once and he gave an honest answer.  They'll get through it.

If you don't get the culture difference, maybe I can help you.  The GDP per capita of Israel is $32,300.  The GDP of West Bank - Gaza Strip is 1/11th of that, $2900.  One is a true Silicon Valley, they other is a third world country in the most negative ways, illiteracy, poverty, terrorism.  You don't know there is a cultural difference?  What a joke.  You ought to go read George Gilder's book 'The Israel Test'

"...Israel...a leader of human civilization, technological progress, and scientific advance. Tiny Israel stands behind only the United States in its contributions to the hi-tech economy. Israel has become the world's paramount example of the blessings of freedom."  Then he backs it up with data and examples.

To JDN and Mr. Shrum, there IS a cultural difference. 

I'll post the two excellent Romney speeches separately.

Must admit Shrum knows his losing Presidential campaigns though.  He holds the all time record for running them.  Pres. Gephart, Dukakis, Bob Kerrey, Al Gore, John Kerry, critics often point out a "curse" associated with the presidential campaigns that Shrum has worked on, since he has yet to claim victory for any of his candidates in eight presidential elections.

5213  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Venezuela - Hugo Chávez ruthlessly consolidates his power on: July 31, 2012, 06:05:51 PM

The Post’s View
Facing election, Hugo Chávez ruthlessly consolidates his power

By Editorial Board, Published: July 26  Washington Post

Having the caudillo at the top of the ticket makes a big difference: While most polls show Mr. Chávez leading opposition candidate Henrique Capriles Radonski, they also indicate that the opposition would trounce any of Mr. Chávez’s potential successors. The president’s personal popularity lingers with some Venezuelans, who do not fault him for the soaring inflation, power and food shortages and world-beating murder rate that have emerged during his 13 years in office.

Mr. Chávez, however, is leaving little to chance. He is pouring tens of billions of dollars, much of it borrowed from China, into the economy, producing a preelection boomlet. More significantly, he is employing all the leverage of a legal system and mass media that he has politicized and subordinated to his personal control. Just how far that process of corruption has advanced is illuminated in a report by Human Rights Watch, which concludes that “the accumulation of power in the executive, the removal of institutional safeguards, and the erosion of human rights guarantees have given the Chávez government free rein to intimidate, censor and prosecute Venezuelans who criticize the president or thwart his political agenda.”

5214  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Glibness: Running on Bill Clinton's Record, "Our Plan" created 23 million jobs on: July 31, 2012, 05:58:14 PM
In Oakland, California, the president said "I’m also going to ask anybody making over $250,000 a year to go back to the tax rates they were paying under Bill Clinton, back when our economy created 23 million new jobs, the biggest budget surplus in history and everybody did well.”

ABC News:  "This pitch on occasion has meant that President Obama at times sounds as if he’s claiming some ownership of the Clinton economy – referring to “our plan” "
Bill Clinton cut capital gains taxes, declared that the era of big government is over, ended welfare as we knew it, worked with Republicans co-opting much of their agenda, passed the Reagan-inspired hemisphere-wide free trade agreement, backed away from healthcare when the people rejected it, grew the economy and balanced the budget.  What part of that reminds anyone of the Obama agenda or record?

Mitt Romney is not Bush and Obama is no Bill Clinton.

5215  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: July 31, 2012, 04:02:13 PM
"Israel was the aggressor in '67?!?"

For that to be true you would have to believe that all opposing air raids must complete their missions and all bombs must land and explode before it is "legal" to defend yourself.

FYI to JDN, if you wait until you are dead to respond, you did not act in self defense.  To the contrary, you failed to act in self defense.
5216  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: July 31, 2012, 01:32:37 PM
And it wasn't hate speech for a certain chancellor if all of Germany agreed with him...  What a bizarre criteria for distinguishing between right and wrong.

While you were driveling around I think you forgot to answer the question, are they our best ally in the region?

Or are they a rogue nation ready to make more unprovoked attacks on neighbors as you suggest?

How can they be both?
5217  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 19.9% unemployment supplement on: July 31, 2012, 01:23:17 PM
Link to explanation of calculations made in the previous post:

Includes this chart:

By this measure, 'real' unemployment has doubled in the 6 years since Pelosi-Reid-Obama took control of congress and then the executive branch.

Whatever it is we are doing, ostensibly trying to help the middle class by attacking investors and businesses, it isn't working!
5218  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics - Constant Workforce U6 Unemployment Rate is 20% on: July 31, 2012, 01:04:46 PM
Crafty, I'll do my best to answer that.

When you adjust the BLS (Bureau of Labor Statistics) reported unemployment to the unemployment rate if we were to hold the workforce participation rate constant, the 9 million that left the workforce during the Obama years already includes the 3.1 million workers that left for disability pay.  

Here is the combined chart showing 20% unemployment for U6 assuming a constant workforce participation rate for the Obama years.

Definitions for U-1, U-3, U-6 and all other BLS unemployment measures can be found here:

The following chart shows around 9 million leaving the workforce during the Obama years:

Maybe more clear at this link:

It should be noted that the declining labor force participation rate is not unique to Obama.  The rate for males has been declining over a long period and the workforce participation rate for females peaked in 2000.  The important point is that we cannot continue straight line decline unless we also lighten the public sector spending load at the same rate, sharing that burden with fewer and fewer workers - which simply is not going to happen.  Instead it is logically and empirically the opposite; the higher the number of adults who don't work, the more that will receiver increasing benefits from our ever-expanding plethora of programs.

5219  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: July 31, 2012, 12:16:29 PM
Obj, your points on Obama and his background and disdain for all that made America great are well-founded.  More important though is to capture a significan number of the hearts and minds of the 69,456,897 people who voted for Barack Obama in 2008.  These people I think are more victims of a sort were experiencing disincentive denial.  They believed for the moment you can attack the rich, stomp out wealth, handcuff employers and strangle businesses without hurting the economy overall or hurting working people.  It's just not so and the evidence is all around us.  Saying that the destruction of the republic and our economy was intentional is probably not the most attractive argument for bringing them back.  There is no need to prove it was intentional, even if it was at the top, we only have to show it didn't work.
5220  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: July 31, 2012, 11:45:17 AM
"forcibly taking over Jerusalem, giving no compensation, and calling land in the occupied territory your "capital" is illegitimate." - JDN from Glibness thread

Hate speech IMO if you won't back it up.  Defense of your country is "illegal"?  Please cite the law along with a complete list of countries who have broken it.

Singling out Israel while looking the other way for all others reeks of antisemitism.  The same group that puts Assad and Khadafy on the Human Rights Commission lashes out constantly at Israel for committing acts of self defense.

The real question IMHO is this:  Has our half-hearted, wishy-washy support for our best ally in the region* Israel featuring equal respect for the terrorists who attack them been helpful or counterproductive to Middle East peace?

* In your world, who is our best ally in the region?  Which country seeks peace than Israel and more representative of our ideals?

Meanwhile we bow to unelected Arab royalty, Pres. Assad of Syria is a reformer, and Mrs. Arafat is oh so kissable.
5221  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in America on: July 31, 2012, 10:36:06 AM
Frank Gaffney has some credibility with me.  The line at the end looks a bit like a cheap shot, an avowedly gay man rooting for the wrong team, but it is quite odd and dangerous as he points out that gay activism is politically aligned in this country with Islamic extremism.  No, we aren't going to pass an Islamic law tomorrow to stone all gays to death, but that is only because we do not accept the basic tenets of Islamic law in civilized society.

Interesting that Muslim congressman Keith Ellison supports gay marriage.  That plays well in Minneapolis, but I did not hear him say that on his trip to Mecca.

You don't see that many Catholic pro-abortion activists.  Maybe Islam is more tolerant.
5222  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Romney on: July 30, 2012, 06:24:07 PM
No. I still did not catch any supported reason why you believe that, just a smear.
5223  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Obama Promised Not To Run Negative Ads In 2008 on: July 30, 2012, 06:21:15 PM
We're gonna run a different kind of campaign, we're not gonna go around doin' negative ads.  - Barack Obama - April 2008, Wilson, NC
5224  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Romney’s Remarkable Speech in Jerusalem, By Daniel Pipes on: July 30, 2012, 06:16:21 PM

The Corner

Romney’s Remarkable Speech in Jerusalem
By Daniel Pipes
July 30, 2012

Mitt Romney, the all-but-official Republican presidential nominee, delivered a stem-winder of a speech to the Jerusalem Foundation yesterday, packing emotional support with frank policy statements. The contrast with Obama could hardly be more dramatic. Indeed, one could go through the speech and note the many refutations of Obama. For example, the opening comment that “To step foot into Israel is to step foot into a nation that began with an ancient promise made in this land” directly contrasts with Obama’s crabbed statement in Cairo about “the aspiration for a Jewish homeland [being] rooted in a tragic history.”

Also, in contrast to the nonsensical Obama administration stance on Jerusalem being Israel’s capital — sneaking into change captions that mistakenly identified it as that and going through verbal gymnastics to avoid calling it that — Romney came out and plainly called Jerusalem “the capital of Israel.”

Many of his statements are paeans to the Jewish state and its extraordinary ties to the United States. Some quotations, with my italics on the key words in each quotation:

    Our two nations are separated by more than 5,000 miles. But for an American abroad, you can’t get much closer to the ideals and convictions of my own country than you do in Israel. . . .

    It is my firm conviction that the security of Israel is in the vital national security interest of the United States. . . .

    We have seen the horrors of history. We will not stand by. We will not watch them play out again. It would be foolish not to take Iran’s leaders at their word. They are, after all, the product of a radical theocracy. … We have a solemn duty and a moral imperative to deny Iran’s leaders the means to follow through on their malevolent intentions.

    . . . our alliance runs deeper than the designs of strategy or the weighing of interests. The story of how America – a nation still so new to the world by the standards of this ancient region – rose up to become the dear friend of the people of Israel is among the finest and most hopeful in our nation’s history. Different as our paths have been, we see the same qualities in one another. Israel and America are in many respects reflections of one another.

    . . . the enduring alliance between the State of Israel and the United States of America is more than a strategic alliance: it is a force for good in the world. America’s support of Israel should make every American proud. We should not allow the inevitable complexities of modern geopolitics to obscure fundamental touchstones. . . . A free and strong America will always stand with a free and strong Israel. . . .

    By history and by conviction, our two countries are bound together. No individual, no nation, no world organization, will pry us apart. And as long as we stay together and stand together, there is no threat we cannot overcome and very little that we cannot achieve.

But of the whole speech, it is the final words that most struck me: “May God bless America, and may He bless and protect the Nation of Israel.” When last did a politician ask the Lord to protect another country?

Comments: (1) Obama and Romney stand as far apart on Israel as they do on the sources of economic growth. (2) Over and over again, Romney returned to the moral bonds between the two countries; yes, there are mutual benefits from our connection, but ultimately it reflects something higher and greater than any of us. (3) If he is elected, it will be fascinating to watch to what extent the outlook expressed today will translate to the workaday policy issues. I expect it will have a substantial effect.
5225  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Romney on: July 30, 2012, 06:00:04 PM
If you already posted why my version of the facts is wrong or anything that supports your version of the facts, I missed it.  Are the other 192 nations in the United Nations all legitimate and just Israel is illegitimate?

If your story is right and they are the worst of 193 nations, why stop at denying them a capital?  Obama is bragging that he, in the first person, has given them record levels of aid.  If they are an illegal nation, why have an embassy at all?  Why not cut off trade?  Cut off aid.  Kick them out of the UN if they are illegitimate in borders and actions.  But Obama proposes none of that.  Why not? He wants it both ways.  Being deceitful is complicated.
5226  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Romney says Jerusalem is the Capital of Israel on: July 30, 2012, 03:33:28 PM
Romney says Jerusalem is the Capital of Israel

That was easy. 

In other news, Sacramento is still the capital of California, lol.
5227  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Basher Assad, a different leader, a Reformer - HRC, March 2011 on: July 30, 2012, 03:27:24 PM
Here's Mrs. Clinton's fuller quote, from March 27, 2011, answering CBS's Bob Schieffer on why the U.S. was prepared to intervene against Moammar Gadhafi but not against Assad: "There's a different leader in Syria now," she explained. "Many of the members of Congress of both parties who have gone to Syria in recent months have said they believe he is a reformer." - Hillary Clinton, current Secretary of State, advancing that viewpoint to support validate her policy.  Not surprising since she previously had quite a kiss with Mrs Arafat at the conclusion of a hate-Israel speech:

In 2007, Nancy Pelosi enthused that "the road to Damascus is a road to peace."   The lady wants to be Speaker of the House - again.

On March 16, 2011—the day after the first mass demonstration against the regime—John Kerry said Assad was a man of his word who had been "very generous with me." He added that under Assad "Syria will move; Syria will change as it embraces a legitimate relationship with the United States." This is the man who might be our next secretary of state.
5228  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics: 3.1 million added to disability rolls on: July 30, 2012, 03:14:31 PM
Bringing this info forward also:

"since June 2009, fully 3.1 million workers signed up for disability benefits."
5229  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics - Implied Unemployment Rate on: July 30, 2012, 03:09:56 PM
Bringing this GM post forward in the process of gathering info to answer Crafty's question.  "The real unemployment rate actually rose in January to 11.5%".  To this we might add the disability increase.  Posting disability numbers separately.  I will look deeper into it later.

Implied Unemployment Rate Rises To 11.5%, Spread To Propaganda Number Surges To 30 Year High
Submitted by Tyler Durden on 02/03/2012 09:35 -0500

Sick of the BLS propaganda? Then do the following calculation with us: using BLS data, the US civilian non-institutional population was 242,269 in January, an increase of 1.7 million month over month: apply the long-term average labor force participation rate of 65.8% to this number (because as chart 2 below shows, people are not retiring as the popular propaganda goes: in fact labor participation in those aged 55 and over has been soaring as more and more old people have to work overtime, forget retiring), and you get 159.4 million: that is what the real labor force should be. The BLS reported one? 154.4 million: a tiny 5 million difference. Then add these people who the BLS is purposefully ignoring yet who most certainly are in dire need of labor and/or a job to the 12.758 million reported unemployed by the BLS and you get 17.776 million in real unemployed workers. What does this mean? That using just the BLS denominator in calculating the unemployed rate of 154.4 million, the real unemployment rate actually rose in January to 11.5%. Compare that with the BLS reported decline from 8.5% to 8.3%. It also means that the spread between the reported and implied unemployment rate just soared to a fresh 30 year high of 3.2%.
5230  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Romney in Israel on: July 30, 2012, 12:36:20 AM
Another take on this trip is that Romney is shoring up support from conservative Republicans and evangelicals who have a concern or passion for Israel in numbers larger than Jewish Americans.
5231  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 109 million US adults 45.5% unempolyed, underemployed or not in the labor force on: July 29, 2012, 11:51:47 PM
Obj, I also consider George Will an independent.  His views are his own; they come out mostly conservative but not aligned with anyone or any movement.  In the context of this thread, we have been reading a lot of analysis from Brian Wesbury for one, who is a great economist but works for an investment house and I think has been trying to put lipstick on a pig in terms of this economy.  He says we are plowing forward but we really are standing still while multiplying our debt burden which means we are really moving backwards at an alarming rate.

By great economist I still mean that he is a economist who writes with the same conventions as the other economists, using misleading measures for things like growth rate, poverty rate, unemployment rate, among others, because that is the language they speak.

I tried to make a different point recently by questioning why they don't use a baseline growth rate where anything below that breakeven line would be considered a cut.  With a more honest measurement IMO it might be easier to see or admit that we are in about the 5th year of man made recession.  If we are not recovering it isn't a slow recovery or any other kind of recovery.  I think GW is making that same point in his own way.

Crafty, I don't know if I understand your question correctly but I think I would try to answer in a more simple manner:

There are how many adults in the USA?  Of that number, how many work at least full time?  How many don't.

Not in the numbers below, but more descriptive economically might be to measure how many adults work full time in the private sector, pulling the wagon, and how many do not.  The answer I believe is that less than 30% work full time or more in the private sector pulling the load and more than 70% do not.

Less than half of working age Americans work full time, here is a source:

These numbers are about a year old:

Only 47% Of Working Age Americans Have Full Time Jobs

The total non institutional civilian labor force (Americans 16 years and older who are not in a institution -criminal, mental, or other types of facilities- or an active military duty) is reported as 238.889 million. Of these, we see:

    Employed: 139.206 million people (58.3% of labor force)

    Unemployed: 14.485 million people (6.1% of labor force)

Obviously, that can't be the total picture, we're only at 64.4%. This is why:

    Part time employed for economic reasons: 8.931 million people. This concerns people who want a full-time job but can't get one.

    Part time employed for non-economic reasons: 18.184 million people. Non-economic reasons include school or training, retirement or Social Security limits on earnings, but also childcare problems and family or personal obligations.

But the by far largest category "missing" from both the Employed and Unemployed statistics is the "Not In Labor Force": 85.2 Million people.

The BLS definition states: "Not in the labor force (NILF). A person who did not work last week, was not temporarily absent from a job, did not actively look for work in the previous 4 weeks, or looked but was unavailable for work during the reference week; in other words, a person who was neither employed nor unemployed." (Clearly, this does include lot of unemployed people).

To summarize: 108.616 million people in America are either unemployed, underemployed or "Not in the labor force". This represents 45.5% of working age Americans.

If you count the "Part time employed for non-economic reasons", you get 126.8 million Americans who are unemployed, underemployed, working part time or "Not in the labor force". That represents 53% of working age Americans.

So only 47% of working age Americans have full time jobs. While the official unemployment rate is 9.4%. Something's missing somewhere.

A few more factoids on the topic:

    Today, the long term unemployed make up 42% of total unemployed. That is to say, of course, those who are actually counted as unemployed instead of "Not in the labor force".

    43.2 million Americans receive foodstamps. That's 18.1% of all working age Americans. If they all have on average 1.5 dependents, which is probably a reasonable estimate, a full one third of the US population receives at least part of their food through this system.
5232  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics - George Will Growth Recession on: July 29, 2012, 03:10:19 PM
Famous people reading the forum, this is George Will taking a stab at a point I have been trying to make.   I was saying we are below the 'baseline' for 'breakeven' growth.  It is really negative growth or a growth deficit.

George Will said today:  "We're in a growth recession.  That sounds like an oxymoron.  It isn't.  We're now in the 4th year of a recovery and we're growing but receding at the same time because we're not growing fast enough to create enough jobs to even take account of the natural growth of the workforce."

Go to about 12:20 of the This Week video:
5233  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: July 29, 2012, 02:37:55 PM
JDN, I agreed with you at the beginning, "Perhaps better to give it up". lol.

No, I don't have any best friends who broke into their neighbor's house, stole a major city, car, jewelry, whatever, and are still my best friend, and that isn't what happened, good grief.  Why have these threads if you can't or won't read them.  Enemies of Israel attacked Israel and lost land in the process.  Which part of that was ILLEGAL?  Did it happen some other way?  Israel is occasionally accused of taking a disproportionate response.  I hope so.  If you (or Carney or Obama) side with Israel's enemies, just say so.  I guess you did.

Israel to you and these others is an illegitimate nation, and the other 192 nations in the UN are fine.  Unbelievable.  We could pick dozens of examples to show how absurd that is.  Why is North Korea a legitimate nation?  Did they rightfully acquire the land under their capital?  Did the US acquire the land under Washington D.C. through war?  Why do we recognize our own country or capital.  Considering the anti-border enforcement movement, maybe you don't.  Why can't you see Israel is being singled as appeasement to the enemies of Israel, not because they are worse than all 192 others.  Why is that right, it isn't, and what did we gain through that policy, nothing.

If you and others side with the enemies of Israel, fine, but then why do we have to hear all the BS about how they are our ally and we stand by them.  They are but we don't.
5234  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: July 28, 2012, 03:37:03 PM
"I guess the question is from whose perspective."

I was asking YOU.  

cap·i·tal [kap-i-tl] noun
1. the city or town that is the official seat of government in a country, state, etc.: Tokyo is the capital of Japan.

If NK says somewhere other than Pyongyang or outside the country is the Capital of North Korea, it wouldn't be so.  

If I have one dog and one cat but then I say my cat is a dog, how many dogs do I now have?  Still just 1.  Saying a cat is a dog doesn't make it so.  

The official seat of the government of Israel is in Jerusalem.  Is it not?

You think the President's spokesman does not know that?

"As for Jay Carney, perhaps Tel Aviv isn't the capital, but then neither is Jerusalem.  So maybe he doesn't know; I don't know, but he knows and I know that the legitimate capital of Israel is not Jerusalem."

Wikipedia: "Jerusalem is the capital of Israel..."

CIA Fact book:  "Country: Israel, Capital: Jerusalem"

Israel is not a legitimate country so where they locate the official seat of their government is not the capital?  Is that what you're thinking?  193 countries in the UN, where else do we not recognize a capital?

Do you realize what an odd discussion this is?
5235  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants & interesting thought pieces on: July 28, 2012, 01:41:59 PM
Yes. Great speech!  Anyone who has had their business swallowed up or nearly so by the regulatory red tape can feel that passion.

For me, taxes cost more than food, shelter, clothing, transportation and healthcare combined, but regulations are worse.

A great line in there:

Take the heavy boot off the throat of America's job creators and LET THEM BREATHE!

We spend $1.75 trillion on red tape.  There is your deficit and then some.
5236  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Romney on: July 28, 2012, 01:25:40 PM
Deception and distraction are what they sell.  Economic disaster is what you buy if you buy it.  At their very best they can accuse opponents of exactly what they are doing in plain sight, whether it is false context or refusing full disclosure.
5237  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: July 28, 2012, 12:56:40 PM
Not following you JDN.  You didn't say what is the capital of Israel.  In what city is the Knesset?  Wouldn't that be the capital?  In what country is Jerusalem?

If the right answer is that the capital of Israel is in Tel Aviv, why didn't Jay Carney say that?
5238  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: July 27, 2012, 06:26:08 PM
The way we normally determine where the Capital is in a state of foreign land is ... ASK THEM.

The Capital of North Korea is ... Pyongyang.  How do we know that?  They said so.

Israel has declared in Israeli law that Jerusalem is the Capital.  How could the Capital be anywhere else?  Is Israel a less legitimate nation than North Korea?  Less of an ally??

Barack Obama and team don't want to say the longer story.  Israel says the Capital is Jerusalem, Israel's enemies object.  We the Obama administration side with the enemies on this one.  (Bush's fault.)

Life is complicated, foreign policy too, if you don't or can't distinguish between good and evil.
5239  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Romney on: July 27, 2012, 06:17:09 PM
There seems to b e a misconception, Romney is running for President of Bain Capital, been there done that.  Were you going to reply on what is the minimum number of years of tax returns made public required by law to be President and their exact deadlines he seems to have missed?  You've added Donna Bazille to the list of people who won't vote for him until he releases at least 4, 6 or was it 12 returns?  Funny.

If Hillary went all the way back honestly without a statute of limitation she would be an options trading felon.  And no one cares.  Not running for President?  Well she was.

"Romney could end these discussions overnight by releasing his tax returns"

That just isn't so, is it?

Romney's tax returns will tell you what tax policy was and some implications of it at the time of the returns.  You should already know that or else that information is available elswhere.  There is no reason to believe he hasn't followed all applicable laws or missed any reporting requirements to the various agencies. 

Unlike the Senator who was  the 60th vote to pass Obamacare, Al Franken, who owed taxes in 17 states amounting to over $50,000 or the Obama's Secretary of the Treasury who had filed wrong in 10 years of returns counting 4 years wrong twice.

Like the Registrar of Records for Hawaiian birth records, maybe some middle level IRS manger can certify that the former Governor is up to snuff on his returns and payments.  Would that satisfy you?  No.

He's running for POTUS.  You have to be 40 and a natural born citizen. Do you have any questions of him as to what he might do as President? 
5240  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness - What is the Capital of Israel? on: July 27, 2012, 09:59:52 AM
Jay Carney Refuses To Identify Capital Of Israel Twice In White House Press Briefing

White House Press Briefing,  July 26, 2012
5241  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Glibness source found - UC Berkley Prof. George Lakoff on: July 27, 2012, 12:14:14 AM
If you have already seen Pres. Obama's You didn't build that speech in context AND Elizabeth Warren's Someone else paid for that rant, then this video is a must see.

Obama and Warren bungled it.  Even the liberal professor, leader of progressives credits the taxpayers for what government has accomplished.!

George Lakoff - No One Got Rich On Their Own
5242  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Mark Steyn: Stimulus so far = 1567 Golden Gate Bridges on: July 26, 2012, 11:40:53 PM
Obama implies we should get the rich to pay their fair share and build some infrastructure.  But with just the stimulus money spent so far we could have built the equivalent of 1567 Golden Gate Bridges in today's dollars.  Instead it was squandered.  With just the existing spending in our federal budget 2011 we could build 6788 Golden Gate Bridges.  Instead we got what?

Steyn says: "Instead of roads and bridges, Obama-sized government funds stasis and sclerosis: The Hoover Dam of regulatory obstruction, the Golden Gateway to dependency."
"In Obama's "visions," he builds roads and bridges. In reality, the President of Dependistan has put nothing but roadblocks in the path to opportunity and growth."
5243  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Walter Russell Mead on the budget pressures facing higher education on: July 26, 2012, 03:35:15 PM
From WRM's American Interest website, selected as 'notable and quotable' in the WSJ:

[The University of Missouri] has just announced that it is closing its university press after losing its annual subsidy of $400,000. Now professors and students are up in arms over the closure, decrying the move as an attack on scholarly discourse and taking to Facebook petitions to protest the decision.

Look past the uproar, however, and it is clear that this is part of a wider trend. A number of other universities, including prestigious schools like Rice, have shuttered their presses, and six more have joined it in the past three years alone. As state budgets contract, and as private universities face higher costs, schools across the country are all finding out the same thing—the money just isn't there.

Fewer university presses with higher standards would probably serve humanity better than the current system. Some of the problem stems from the nature of the tenure system, in which every academic in the country is under pressure to publish books whether he or she has anything worth saying or not. In that sense the university press problem is a symptom rather than a cause of academia's woes. Parts of the university press system work like vanity presses, where the driving force in the system is the author's need to be published rather than the reader's need to know.

What's going on here, however, is less about quality than it is about money and the outmoded foundations of American institutions and practices built in the post World War Two era. The baroque inefficiency of the academic enterprise—and especially the research model university, which . . . has built a system that demands enormous outside resources to continue to function.

In a handful of cases, notably the best endowed private universities, there is enough money on hand to make this system work. But less affluent private universities and virtually all public universities face a harsher climate. And as state governments in particular face claims on their tight revenues from more powerful constituencies than university faculty and staff, the public universities are being systematically starved of cash.

There are two ways for the system to respond. One is by cheese paring: cutting costs on "extraneous" or "non-core" activities while trying to preserve the heart of the old model. This looks like simple common sense to most administrators, and it is often the thinking that leads to the closure of university presses as well as other activities that, in the cold light of a budget crunch, suddenly look like frills.

The second way is more difficult, but it is ultimately what the academy must do: it must reinvent itself and radically restructure. This would involve not merely closing down an expensive university press but rethinking the relationship of scholarship to teaching, and re-examining the relevance of the "publish or perish" system for the large group of disciplines and institutions where it doesn't really make sense.
5244  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / New home sales double dip on: July 26, 2012, 03:17:47 PM
"Sales of new U.S. homes unexpectedly dropped in June from a two-year high..."

"Unexpectedly", lol.

Employment is down, incomes are down, wealth is down,growth is down, confidence is down, 62% say we are on the wrong track, why wouldn't new home sales be down?

Who buys the new homes that drive home construction employment, the lowest income quintile?
5245  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tax Policy: Tax Fairness on: July 26, 2012, 03:08:24 PM
Good data presented here by Ari Fleischer in the WSJ a few days ago taken from the latest CBO study.  The top 20% make 50% and pay 70% of federal taxes, while the middle quintile pays 9% of the burden and the lowest pay essentially nothing and receive the most back. The wealthy "haven't been asked to do their fair share"??  What a crock.

Ari Fleischer: The Latest News on Tax Fairness
A new Congressional Budget Office reports shows the share of taxes paid by the top 20% has gone up over the last 30 years, while the share of taxes paid by everyone else has gone down.


If fairness in paying taxes means the amount you pay is based on the amount you make, then the only group in America paying at least a "fair share" is the top 20%—people who make more than $74,000. For everyone else, the tax code is a bargain.

You wouldn't know this from President Obama's rhetoric, but our tax system, according to a recent report by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), is incredibly progressive. Consider: The top 1% of income earners pay an average federal tax rate of 28.9%. (See the nearby table.) The average federal tax rate on the top 20% is 23.2%. The 20% of taxpayers earning between $50,100 and $73,999 pay an average 15.1%, and so on down the line. The CBO report includes payroll as well as income taxes paid.

There's also another way of looking at fairness, and that's the tax burden. Here, consider the top 20% of income earners (over $74,000). They make 50% of the nation's income but pay nearly 70% of all federal taxes.

The remaining 30% of the tax burden is borne by 80% of the taxpayers, those who make less than $74,000. In short, this group's share of taxes paid, 30%, is lower than the share of income they earn, 50%.

Yet President Obama says that "for some time now, when compared to the middle class," the wealthy "haven't been asked to do their fair share."

He's right that the system isn't fair, but not because the top 1% pay too little. It is because they pay too much.

Mr. Obama has said that some wealthy employers pay a lower tax rate than their secretaries. True, some are able to lower their effective federal tax rate by giving millions to charity. Or because they derive much of their income as capital gains or from tax-free municipal bonds.

But middle- and low-income Americans who do not invest also pay lower rates thanks to the deductions they receive, such as a $1,000 per child tax credit (which phases out for couples who make more than $110,000), or the Earned Income Tax Credit, which no one making more than $50,000 is supposed to receive.

The CBO report ("The Distribution of Household Income and Federal Taxes, 2008 and 2009") covers the years 1979-2009. It makes plain that the impression conveyed by the president about what upper-income Americans pay in taxes does not hold up to scrutiny.

First of all, the share of taxes paid by the top 20% has gone up over the last 30 years, while the share of taxes paid by everyone else has gone down. It has gone up despite the tax cuts enacted by President Clinton in 1997 and by President Bush in 2001 and 2003. But that makes no difference to the president. The only group of taxpayers he calls on to "sacrifice" are those already doing all the tax sacrificing.

The top 20% in 1979 made 44.9% of the nation's income and paid 55.3% of all federal taxes. Thirty years later, the top 20% made 50.8% of the nation's income and their share of federal taxes paid had jumped to 67.9%.

And the top 1%? In 1979, this group earned 8.9% of the nation's income and paid 14.2% of all federal taxes. In 2009, they earned 13.4% of the nation's income but their share of the federal tax burden rose to 22.3%.

Meanwhile, the federal tax burden on middle- and lower-income earners is lighter. In 1979, the bottom 20% paid barely any taxes at all, just 2.1%. Now their share of taxes is a minuscule 0.3%. The burden on the middle-income earners ($34,900 to $50,100) has dropped too. In 1979, they paid 13.6% of all federal taxes; in 2009 they paid 9.4%.

One reason our country is so divided is because the president keeps dividing us. If taxes need to be raised to fight a war or fund a cause, the president should ask everyone to pitch in. If the need is national, the solution should be national—and that includes all of us.

But that's not how Mr. Obama governs. We learned during the 2008 campaign that he believes in spreading the wealth around. And recently we learned he doesn't believe that successful people made it on their own. Without the government, the president tells us, job creators and entrepreneurs would not be able to make it in America.

It's really the other way around. Without job creators and the successful, the government wouldn't have any money. So next time Mr. Obama meets someone in the top 1% or even the top 20%, instead of saying they're not paying their fair share, he should simply say thank you.
5246  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Glibness continues on: July 26, 2012, 02:47:51 PM
Pres. Obama yesterday: "...our union may not be perfect, but it is perfectible."

Meaning:  The founders and the 43 Presidents before me were a little off the mark but my vision for the country is right.

A week ago:

"The mistake of my first term—couple of years," the president allowed, "was thinking that this job was just about getting the policy right." At times, Obama confessed, he'd forgotten that "the nature of this office is also to tell a story to the American people that gives them a sense of unity and purpose and optimism, especially during tough times."

No, Mr. President.  The mistake of your first term was policy; you got it wrong.
5247  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / VDH - Iraq Ironies on: July 26, 2012, 02:40:53 PM
Iraqi Ironies

Victor Davis Hanson

Jul 26, 2012

Amid all the stories about the ongoing violence in Syria, the most disturbing is the possibility that Syrian President Bashar Assad could either deploy the arsenal of chemical and biological weapons that his government claims it has, or provide it to terrorists.

There are suggestions that at least some of Assad's supposed stockpile may have come from Saddam Hussein's frantic, 11th-hour efforts in 2002 to hide his own weapons of mass destruction arsenals in nearby Syria. Various retired Iraqi military officers have alleged as much. Although the story was met with general neglect or scorn from the U.S. media, the present director of national intelligence, James Clapper, long ago asserted his belief in such a weapons transfer.

The Bush administration fixated on WMD in justifying the invasion of Iraq while largely ignoring more than 20 other writs to remove Saddam, as authorized by Congress in October 2002. That obsession would come back to haunt George W. Bush when stockpiles of deployable WMD failed to turn up in postwar Iraq. By 2006, "Bush lied; thousands died" was the serial charge of the antiwar left. But before long, such depots may finally turn up in Syria.

Another staple story of the last decade was the inept management of the Iraq reconstruction. Many Americans understandably questioned how civilian and military leaders allowed a brilliant three-week victory over Saddam to degenerate into a disastrous five-year insurgency before the surge finally salvaged Iraq. That fighting and reconstruction anywhere in the Middle East are difficult under any circumstances was forgotten. The press preferred instead to charge that the singular incompetence or malfeasance of Bush, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld led to the unnecessary costs in American blood and treasure.

But perhaps that scenario needs an update as well. Journalist Rajiv Chandrasekaran's new book, "Little America: The War Within the War for Afghanistan," is a blistering critique of the Obama administration's three-year conduct of the Afghanistan war and its decision to surge troops, chronicling stupid decisions, petty infighting, arrogance and naiveté. In an earlier book on Iraq, Chandrasekaran had alleged that America's Iraq dilemmas were the result of a similarly bungling Bush administration.

So was the know-it-all reporter right then about Iraq, or is he right now about Afghanistan, or neither, or both? And will the media revise their earlier criticism and concede that America's problems in conducting difficult wars in the Middle East are inherent in the vast differences between cultures -- fault lines that likewise have baffled even Barack Hussein Obama, the acclaimed internationalist and Nobel laureate who was supposed to be singularly sensitive to customs in that part of the world?

In 2008, we were told that predator drone attacks, renditions, preventative detentions, military tribunals, the Guantanamo detention center and the surging of troops into difficult wars were all emblematic of Bush's disdain for the Constitution and his overall ineptness as a commander in chief. In 2012, these same continuing protocols are no such thing, but instead valuable antiterrorism tools, and seen as such by President Obama.

For all the biases and incompetence of Nouri al-Maliki's elected government in Iraq, the Middle East's worst dictatorship now seems to have become the region's most stable constitutional government. Given Iraq's elections, the country was relatively untouched by the mass "Arab Spring" uprisings. And despite sometimes deadly Sunni-Shiite terrorist violence and the resurgence of al Qaeda, Iraq's economy, compared with some of the other nations in the Middle East, is stable and expanding.

The overthrow of Saddam was also supposed to be a blunder in terms of grand strategy, empowering our enemies Iran and Syria. True, Saddam's ouster and the subsequent violence may have done that in the short term. But how about long-term, nine years later?

The Assad dynasty seems about to go the way of Egypt's Hosni Mubarak, Tunisia's Zine El Abidine Bin Ali and Libya's Muammar Gadhafi. Syria's grand ally, Iran -- which barely put down popular demonstrations in 2009 -- has never been more isolated and beleaguered as it deals with sanctions, international ostracism and growing unpopularity at home.

Who knows whether Saddam's fall, trial and execution, coupled with the creation of an Iraqi constitutional government, triggered a slow chain reaction against similar Arab tyrannies.

The moral of the story is that history cannot be written as it unfolds. In the case of Iraq, we still don't know the full story of Saddam's WMD, the grand strategic effects of the Iraq war, the ripples from the creation of the Iraq republic, or the relative degree of incompetence of any American administration at war in the Middle East -- and we won't for many years to come.
5248  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Romney and the 2002 Olympics on: July 26, 2012, 01:55:45 PM
This is a pretty good story about Mitt's management of the SLC Olympics 2002:

Romney and the Olympics: What the SLC Games say about a Mitt Romney presidency

By Lisa Riley Roche , Deseret News    July 25 2012
"Both supporters and critics of Romney's three years as the CEO of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee say his experiences in Utah offer insights into what he would bring to the White House. "
"Romney's expertise is data-driven analysis."
"Bullock, who was Romney’s No. 2 at SLOC as chief operating officer of the Olympics, said Romney has had to tone down his personality since throwing his hat in the ring."
“I wish the rest of the world knew Mitt as we did,” Bullock said. “He’s just a blast to be around.”
“I always found him very unique because he was a leader and an executive."
“If he ever got in the White House, that would absolutely mirror what he did in the Games,” Eynon said. “When Mitt says he would cut nonessential things … I would take him at his word.” 
"Gillespie said Romney’s ability to focus on what’s important and give up what isn't, no matter how much pressure there may be not to, will win over voters." 

Former Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt, who’s heading the planning for Romney’s transition to the White House, said the results of the Olympics speak for themselves.

“Discouragement was replaced by belief. The $400 million deficit was replaced by a $100 million surplus. The 2002 Winter Olympic Games are widely respected as among the best ever put on,” Leavitt said.

Romney accomplished this, he said, by applying the principles learned at Harvard Business School and put in practice building a personal fortune estimated at $250 million: Start with tearing apart the books and bringing in experts from both the finance and Olympic world.

"I heard Mitt over and over again giving a speech talking about the need to separate 'want-to-haves' from 'need-to-haves.' He set clear priorities, made hard decisions and stuck with them." 

5249  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues: POTH would rather be in Fallujah on: July 26, 2012, 01:01:06 PM
When Bush won 'unexpectedly' in 2004, NYT reporters were reportedly telling each other they didn't even know anyone who voted for Bush.  Rush L humorously pointed out that they would have to send "foreign correspondents" out to the heartland to find out what happened.

Let the record reflect that 61 years after the oil discovery the POTH has now sent an opinion reporter out to Williston, North Dakota to file a condescending and derogatory * report on a boom that has the potential to change geo-politics.

I know it was a day trip because the hotels are booked and she certainly doesn't have any friends there.

*  "There are certain things that journalists do as a public service because you, the noble reader, are probably not going to do them for yourself — like attending charter revision meetings or reading the autobiography of Tim Pawlenty. Going to Williston is sort of in this category."  - Gail Collins, NY Times
5250  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Tax Policy: Senate votes 51-48 for a recession on: July 26, 2012, 12:47:10 PM
Raise taxes on employers and small businesses in a zero growth economy and you have a guaranteed recession, if all other factors are constant.

Senate Votes to Raise Taxes on Small Businesses

Yesterday, the Senate narrowly voted (51-48) to raise taxes on 1.2 million small businesses, which will likely kill more than 700,000 jobs at a time when nearly 13 million Americans are out of work. Senators Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and Jim Webb (D-VA) joined all Republicans in bipartisan opposition to the tax hike.

Raising taxes on "only the rich" polls well as a plurality of people still believe you can soak someone else and not yourself, your family, your neighbors in an  integratively interconnected economy.  It just doesn't happen to be true.  Labor requires capital and employment requires employers with enough funds to meet a payroll and profit incentives to drive economic growth.

The Senate is actually bluffing or positioning because they know they don't have the votes in the  House.

Two Dem Senators, Joe Lieberman and Jim Webb, crossed party lines.
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