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5201  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / MN R's pick Libertarian Kurt Bills for Amy Klobuchar's Senate seat on: May 21, 2012, 11:31:32 AM
One term state representative Kurt Bills, a high school economics teacher, beat the party favorites easily on the second ballot with 64% of the vote at the state convention over the weekend.

Dem Incumbent Amy Klobuchar, an ideological clone of Hillary and Obama, is a considered a 100% bet to win reelection, so not much is risked in choosing the unknown.  I had no awareness of him before hearing this surprise result and viewing the speech linked below.  I did not attend but can tell that to go up from 53% on the first ballot to well over the 60% required for endorsement on the second ballot in a 3 way contest means that he spoke very persuasively from the podium and won votes from across the (far right) spectrum.  He instantly won the endorsement of his rivals.  "Whatever our differences are, they pale in comparison to what we have in common."

Even if he loses, it will still be interesting to see what he can do to advance limited government principles in one of the bluest states.  In his issues statements he is more clear than other libertarians about supporting the Reagan principle of Peace through Strength, but also has a Ron Paul skepticism for nation building operations.  Not exactly my view but perhaps more in tune with independent voters at the moment.  With fewer interventions, the US could fund a very strong, well-equipped military within reasonable budget constraints.

I predict he will start this race trailing by more than 20%, making victory in Nov. all the more impressive!

Watch a local convention speech.  I don't see a teleprompter or see him even glance at notes or a hesitation about what he wants to say. This is worth 7 minutes of your time!

He makes a great delivery; could make Newt look like a timid debater, lol.  A great point he makes is that with teaching high school kids you've got 30 seconds at most to get their attention, so he has been preparing for this contest for 15 years.

Or go to about 6:45 of his acceptance speech:
"These are not extreme views.  They are views that win. We believe in liberty.  We believe in limited government.  We believe in free enterprise.  We believe in family values and the sanctity of human life.  And we believe that Washington needs a good dose of Econ 101."

Give money at or give it to your own candidate, but now is the time to do something.  Find your candidates and get behind them.

People like Kurt Bills from MN and the newcomers from Nebraska and Indiana joining people like Marco Rubio  and Ron Johnson from Wisc can help keep President Romney.
5202  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Time machine issues with the current President: gay marriage on: May 21, 2012, 10:03:38 AM
"Using this thread for time machine issues with Baraq":  

Many people evolve on issues, McCain on tax cuts, Reagan and Romney on life, etc.  Politicians sometimes pay a price for that, but it beats total close mindedness or being stone deaf to what the people you wish to represent are wanting.

The oddest part of Pres. Obama giving his sudden historic support for gay marriage, being ahead of the curve, is that he held that position also in 1996-2004, renounced it for seeking high office, invoked God as a reason for his new, temporary view, now is back in favor of gender free marriage for any spouse one and spouse two.  It is Biden who voted for the Defense of Marriage Act who has 'evolved'.  The President has only weaseled.  For him, this was always about focus groups, fund raising and the desire to gain and hold political power.

Final Answer: President Obama Did Fill Out 1996 Questionnaire Supporting Gay Marriage
by Tommy Christopher | 5:58 pm, June 20th, 2011

White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer resurrected a longstanding controversy Friday when he said that President Obama had not personally filled out a 1996 questionnaire that indicated support for gay marriage. At today’s White House briefing, The Washington Blade‘s Chris Johnson was finally able to get confirmation that the President did, indeed, fill out the questionnaire. Despite Jay Carney‘s protests to the contrary, the White House has not been at all forthcoming in answering that question.

During a Q&A this past Friday at the Netroots Nation conference, Pfeiffer was asked about the questionnaire, and in his response, made the same mistake that Robert Gibbs did when Johnson asked about it in January, confusing it with two other 1996 questionnaires about gun control. The gun control questionnaires were filled out by Obama’s then-campaign manager Carol Harwell.

“If you actually go back and look,” Pfeiffer said, “that questionnaire was actually filled out by someone else, not the President.”

Following Pfeiffer’s remarks, the White House issued a statement explaining the confusion, but still did not confirm that Mr. Obama had filled out the document in question:

    “Dan was not familiar with the history of the questionnaire that was brought up today, but the president’s views are clear,” (White House spokesman Shin) Inouye said. “He has long supported equal rights and benefits for gay and lesbian couples and since taking office he has signed into law the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,’ signed into law the hate crimes bill, made the decision not to defend Section 3 of DOMA and expanded federal benefits for same sex partners of federal employees.”

This statement is all too familiar to me. Following Gibbs’ January response, I explained to Gibbs that he had been thinking of the gun control surveys, and that the gay marriage questionnaire had never really been addressed, save an oblique reference by then-Senator Obama in a 2004 interview, which seemed to indicate he had filled it out.

He referred me to a deputy press secretary for followup, and after two weeks of emails, I finally received this statement, from Shin Inouye:

    The President has made his position on this issue clear – as a candidate in 2008, in his public writings, and in his on the record comments on at least three separate occasions. He’s also made it clear that he supports full civil unions and federal rights for LGBT couples, supports a repeal of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, and opposes a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage and opposes divisive measures like Proposition 8 in California. His Administration has also taken numerous steps to help secure equal rights for LGBT Americans, such as extending benefits to the same-sex domestic partners of federal employees and ensuring equal access to HUD programs, and we hope to continue making progress.

For a guy whose views are clear, President Obama’s press office sure went to a lot of trouble to avoid answering that question. Yes, confirming this would make it appear he had flipped on the issue, but he handled that very well in that 2004 interview:

    The Windy City Times, which later acquired Outlines, said it interviewed Obama in 2004, when he was a state legislator running for the U.S. Senate. In a January 2009 article recapping the interview, the newspaper quoted him as saying he no longer supported same-sex marriage “primarily just as a strategic issue,” and not because he had changed his philosophy.

    “I think that marriage, in the minds of a lot of voters, has a religious connotation,” Obama said, according to the article. “I know that’s true in the African American community, for example.” Instead, he endorsed civil unions, a designation that did not exist in 1996.

That strategy later evolved to include saying he personally didn’t believe in gay marriage, but opposed efforts to ban it. At that time, there was some resonance to the argument that in order to help gay people, Obama needed to get elected, even if that meant taking a lukewarm porridge position on gay marriage.

At Monday’s White House briefing, Johnson asked Carney about it again, and among the “we love the gays” boilerplate we have come to know and love, Carney confirmed that it was his understanding that the President had completed the questionnaire himself, and Carney acted as though this had always been common knowledge: (transcript via The Washington Blade, additional transcription by Tommy Christopher)

    Washington Blade: Jay, I just want to follow up on remarks that Dan Pfeiffer made last week on the president’s 1996 questionnaire response on marriage. The statement from the president in 1996 reads, “I favor legalizing same-sex marriages, and would fight efforts to prohibits such marriages.” Pfeiffer said someone else filled out this questionnaire for the president. Can you confirm that it’s the White House’s position that someone else filled out this questionnaire and —

    Carney: Chris, I think you know because you’ve read it multiple times since then that we’ve corrected it beginning Friday that he — that that is not the case, that he was mistaking with another questionnaire.

    The president’s position on gay marriage has been clear since ’08 — is clear, again, since he’s been president.

    Q: Jay, will you clarify whether the ’96 survey was signed by Obama?

    Carney: It’s my understanding that it was.

    Blade: But did the president, in fact, support same-sex marriage in 1996?

    Carney: Again, what I know is what his position was during the campaign and what it is now. He’s been very clear about it. He was very clear in the campaign. He was very clear about the fact that his position on the views — that’s it evolving. And I really don’t have anything to add to it.

    Blade: On Thursday, the president is attending an LGBT fundraiser in New York. This state could have same-sex marriage by the end of this week. It’s very possible. Next week, he’s hosting a Pride reception here at the White House. Isn’t the president selling this audience short by saying he supports them and wants their money for his re-election campaign, but also saying at the same time he does not support their right to marry?

    Carney: Chris, I think you know that this president is very supportive of and strong on LGBT rights. And his record is significant with regard to that. He’s been very clear about his position on gay marriage, he’s been very clear about how that position is evolving. I don’t have any new announcements to make, but I think you know his record, and he’s proud of it.

Johnson also asked Carney if the President might share his “evolution” on marriage equality at an upcoming LGBT event, to which Carney replied, “I don’t anticipate that.”

Here’s the problem: the President’s views are clear; as I told Carney a few weeks ago, any reasonable person would conclude, from his words and actions, that President Obama believes in the right of same sex couples to marry, yet he still has not said so, publicly. It’s not 2008 anymore, and while the entire 2012 GOP field (save Ron Paul and Herman Cain) hasn’t progressed, the rest of the country has. For the first time, a majority of Americans support marriage equality, and civil unions have become the 8-track tape of gay rights.

The Democrats no longer have a filibuster-proof majority, and no chance to repeal DOMA, so this is no longer a strategic fight. It is a fight for the hearts and minds of those who still don’t grasp the inequity of second class citizenship, many of whom, as Don Lemon pointed out, are part of a key Obama constituency.

It’s a fight for the hearts and minds of those Democrats who are still stuck in Clinton triangulation mode.

It’s also a fight for the hearts and minds of the tens of millions of LGBT people, and those who love them, who are encouraged by the strides that the President’s press team rattles off, but who are confused by his refusal to stand by them and say, “I believe you are equal.”

It’s a fight for the hearts and minds of all the kids who really need to hear him say that, the kids we keep telling, “It gets better.”

Nobody believes that the President is sitting around, thinking and thinking about this issue, unable to push that boulder over the hill. As Carney’s answers demonstrate, it could not be more obvious that President Obama believes in marriage equality. With so many people who need to hear it, why won’t he say it? (That was in 2011)
“What I believe is that marriage is between a man and a woman … What I believe, in my faith, is that a man and a woman, when they get married, are performing something before God, and it’s not simply the two persons who are meeting,” he said when running for the U.S. Senate in 2004.
Obama on Gay Marriage
• 1996, running for Illinois state Senate: "I favor legalizing same-sex marriage."
• 2004, running for U.S. Senate: "Marriage is between a man and a woman.
• 2010, as president: "My feelings are constantly evolving" on gay mar riage.
• 2012, as president: "I think same-sex couples should be able to get married.
5203  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government programs & regulations on: May 19, 2012, 11:16:48 AM
Jumping around threads a little, really not necessary because regulations are a tax...

JDN:  "On another subject, bureaucracy, Doug, you are in the real estate investment business.  I don't know about MN, but in CA there are so many hoops you must jump through, not to mention jump at the right time, have everything in line and I mean everything, or simply your permit is denied.  Now I'm all for safety in construction, but sometimes government is simply ridiculous.  No common sense."

Yes regulations in my business are my worst nightmare.  They either think it has no cost, that the cost can't be passed on or they don't care.  Mostly it makes me inefficient.  I have to work on what is on their radar screen because every order comes with the threat of closing my business, instead of working on what I know is most urgent or the most productive use ofmy time and resources.

Regulations at the locals can be the worst.  I noticed a headline in a small community this past week, something like, Council Might Act on Grocery Store Proposal.  Who knew that selling groceries was illegal, that only some really well connected people can do it. 

When I worked in the export business there was quite a good rule in place for the feds to act on an export license application.  We did not want to be selling weapons technologies to our enemies, but we also wanted to be the world leader in technology sales around the globe.  On certain applications for export license, if one of the federal agencies did not respond within a short, reasonable time (72 hours IIRC) and block the shipment, you were authorized to ship.  In local grocery sales, why is that different.  Inform the proper agencies that we will be selling food.  If the USDA wants to come in and see the health standards of the operation, then do that.  If we are unsafe or unhealthy, shut us down.  If the state revenue dept wants to see our payroll withholding system, then do that. If the locals want to be certain that we are not creating parking problems and traffic jams, then come check us out.  Instead you cannot even contemplate a business opening without all their blessings, and they know that and load up the rules with all kinds of unrelated crap.  In third world countries that process can take years and require bribes and maybe never happen.  In America - same thing.

A friend building an indoor tennis facility and teaching center needed approvals from 6 levels of government in order to build with charitable donations a place for introducing inner city children to a life sport that builds character and can open all kinds of doors of opportunity for them in the future.  They got it approved and built, but the regulatory hoops were far tougher than raising money or laying bricks and mortar.

In another example the city of Minneapolis shut down a church clothing shelf operation days before Christmas that was giving donated winter coats to poor people in below zero weather - due to parking and ordinance restrictions.  And they call themselves the 'regulatory services' department.
5204  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: May 19, 2012, 10:30:23 AM
"Bottom line this failed ideology will never be defeated.  Only kept at bay."

By defeated, I only mean mean to win by something like 53-46% like Obama did.  Better would be to win by some margin in almost all demographic groups and states so that we the people would mean we are all part of pulling together to solve this.

The rob Peter, pay Paul, tax the guy behind the tree thing is not my idea of equal protection, we the people or consent of the governed.

Go ahead and soak the rich - at any rate of taxation that YOU want to pay on your first and every dollar.  Go ahead and start a new program - that you can provide for EVERYONE and is paid for by getting rid of all the old failed ones.
5205  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The United Nations/ US Sovereignty/International Law on: May 19, 2012, 10:20:13 AM
"Is this the type of thing you had in mind, Doug?"

YES.  Not that I know exactly what our interests in the gulf should be, but we should be in alliances with people who share our interests.  We should not so much be giving people like Chavez and Ahmedinejad a platform for credibility or trading away our interests with regimes like China and Russia to get their approval, when their own interest peace and freedom is noticeably insincere.
5206  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tax Policy on: May 19, 2012, 10:12:35 AM
"Anyway, we agree that it is elastic.  We disagree on the curve.  I contend that a minimal tax rate increase will have a minimal impact if any on new investment.  But I concede, 2.00% this year, 2.00% next, eventually it becomes real money, eventually it will have an impact on new investment.  But IMHO we are not there."

Crafty already got on this point with some great questions.  I would just point out that in the context of Calif, they already are rated worst perhaps for business climate, obviously they compensate for some of that with their positive qualities, but every 2% added to every tax rate that is already too high just makes the decision to invest elsewhere or not at all easier.

For the US Corporate tax rate, same thing.  We are already worst.  link below.  Staying the same makes us uncompetitive.  Raising it 2% would be just stupid.

Using round numbers for Calif or MN, if the top individual tax rate is 10%, a 2% increase takes it to 10.2% not 12%.  Let's get our math straight.  Don't tell me that a 20% or 40% increase on rates that are already the worst will not cause economic carnage.  It most certainly will.

China lowered it's corporate rate in Jan 2008 that was already lower than ours, coincidentally they largely avoided the financial collapse while the USA was transitioning from a Pelosi-Reid congress with Obama in the majority committed to raising the top individual tax rates to a government where that philosophy would control all branches of government.  Then we act so shocked when the asset selloff exploded just months before the tax rate changes - that didn't even happen.  The fact that "communist" countries have lower tax rates in the first place should be our first clue of the problem.

I searched and found this in Reuters, but this story, like the cuts in China in 2008 certainly went by the American press without much notice.  How stupid and dysfunctional can we be to not know that have the highest rates of quadruple taxation in the world does NOT yield greater revenues - as we hit our what, 4th year in a row of trillion dollar deficits.  How are those high rates to punish big businesses for doing big business working out for us??  This was delayed one year by the earthquake.  We have had a long time to know it was coming.

US displacing Japan as No 1 for highest corp taxes         MARCH 30, 2012

* Japan's corporate tax rate dropping to 38.01 pct on Sunday

* Combined U.S. 39.2 pct rate will be developed world's highest

By Patrick Temple-West and Kim Dixon

WASHINGTON, March 30 (Reuters) - The United States will hold the dubious distinction starting on Sunday of having the developed world's highest corporate tax rate after Japan's drops to 38.01 percent, setting the stage for much political posturing but probably little tax reform.

Japan and the United States have been tied for the top combined, statutory corporate rate, with levies of 39.5 percent and 39.2 percent, respectively. These rates include central government, regional and local taxes.

Japan's reduction , prompted by years of pressure from Japanese politicians hoping to spur economic growth, will give that country the world's second-highest rate.

This has triggered complaints from U.S. politicians and business groups.

"This isn't an April Fool's Day joke," said Senator Orrin Hatch, the leading Republican on the Senate Finance Committee.

"Every industrialized country around the globe understands that tax rates can determine whether or not businesses succeed or fail," Hatch said in a statement.

Across most of the political spectrum there is broad agreement that the U.S. corporate tax rate is too high, though few corporations actually pay that rate because the loophole-riddled tax code gives them lower "effective" rates.

Republicans and Democrats agree that the tax code needs work. It has not been thoroughly overhauled in 25 years.

In February, President Barack Obama proposed a corporate tax reform blueprint that included a 28 percent top rate.

Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney has said he wants to cut the corporate rate to 25 percent.


The average 2012 corporate tax rate for the 34 developed countries is 25.4 percent, according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.

"As countries such as Canada and the United Kingdom have moved to reform their tax systems and lower rates to encourage economic growth, America's inaction puts American worldwide companies at a competitive disadvantage and threatens our economic recovery," said Bruce Josten, an official at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Some U.S. companies pay close to the 35 percent top corporate tax rate; some pay nowhere near that, thanks to tax breaks that let them lower their "effective" tax rates.

Of the 30 companies in the Dow Jones industrial average, 19 told shareholders their effective rate for their 2011 fiscal years, mostly ending Dec. 31, was below Obama's proposed new tax rate, according to a Reuters analysis of securities filings.

Of these companies, three - telecom company AT&T, Bank of America, and insurance company Travelers - posted a tax gain.

For the index's other 27 companies, effective rates reported ranged from 2.7 percent for telecom giant Verizon Communications to 43.3 percent for energy group Chevron Corp.

These figures are taxes for shareholder accounting but not necessarily what was paid last year because Congress lets companies defer parts of their income tax for future years.
5207  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: May 18, 2012, 04:51:51 PM
The Breitbart website has made a claim that they will vet him if no one else will.  If this was their only piece or best shot they would not be using it in May.  Born in a faraway land was what he was comfortable with saying to make himself hip, mystic or popular.  Same with changing the pronunciation of his name, same with other things.  Romney I think gets it. Concede all the hip and glib qualities to the opponent.  If you need a rock star, if you want the best delivered Greek column cliches and platitudes, the guy who hangs with the most NBA stars and hollywood types, a guy who can slow jam the news best on late night, I'm not your guy.  If you want policy change in Washington that will get the economy going again and give your kids and grandchildren a better future, then please take a look.

The problem with birth certificate type thinking is that we need to defeat Barack Obama on the issues, in the polling booth.  We need to have that argument in order to win it.  2010 was like an outlier type poll unless it can be followed up with a direct win, in a Presidential year, on the issues.

In MN we went through something like the idea that Obama could be removed by ballot ineligibility or caught in a personal failing.  Sen. Paul Wellstone was a liberal as they come, way left of even Minnesota, but popular.  He died in a plane crash, Republicans even took the seat for a term, but never defeated him on the issues.  Today Al Franken sits in that seatand didn't need a cornhusker kickback to support every new power of government.  The failed ideology did not die and never was defeated.
5208  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Taxes play a role on investors and job creators, persuading them to quit on: May 18, 2012, 04:21:15 PM
This quote is too good to just leave over on the health thread:

"I noticed that taxes do play a role in persuading people to quit.  Demand is elastic; as the price goes up, less people smoke or they smoke fewer per day. "  - JDN

JDN (or whoever stole his sign-in ID this week) refers to smoking, yet smoking is perhaps the least elastic product with a physical addiction component and still has proven price elasticity. 

Paraphrasing for something with far greater elasticity:

Taxes play a role on investors and job creators, persuading them to quit

Imagine the elasticity of someone who owns hotels to not build another hotel if the tax (and regulatory climate) is perceived as hostile. What is the elasticity of GE or 3M to not build its next facility in America or to not build it at all when threatened with higher taxes of just a failure to lower them to keep up with OECD competitor nations.  The answer is nearly 100% elasticity at some range on the curve.  There is an amount of tax or threatened future tax that will cause them to delay an investment or not make it at all, an investment or plant or facility construction project or other employment expansion they otherwise would have made.  Delayed investment is lost business in an economic sense and the effect spills over to employees, customers, suppliers and supporting businesses.

There is an old American proverb, if it doesn't move, and it should, use WD40. If it moves and it shouldn't, use duct tape.  High tax rates (and excessive regulations) are the duct tape of the economy.
5209  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Why would his agent have said this in 1991? on: May 18, 2012, 10:13:38 AM
I will stick to my story that he was not born in Kenya.  I believe there was one Kenyan relative who said he was but misspoke.  Obama Sr had other wives with other children so it can be confusing.  Her statement caused a story but proved nothing.  This story is different, and strange. 

Literary Agent now says it was a mistake. Yes it was!  But by Whom?
"This was nothing more than a fact checking error by me -- an agency assistant at the time.  There was never any information given to us by Obama in any of his correspondence or other communications suggesting in any way that he was born in Kenya and not Hawaii."

His denial on beholf of the President could be true.  He also could be covering for an Elizabeth Warren type mistake where he caused or allowed that story to run when convenient but not when it prevents hius current eligibility.  Whatever he said to the agent left the impression that he was he was not from around these parts and they billed it up as a headline.  If these were autobiographies, wouldn't the answer be in the book?

Was Obama SO BIG and so detached in 1991 that he never read what his own agent was writing on his behalf?  I don't believe that, nor that the books were non-fiction.  I am visualizing a more likely scenario that he has his promotional materials taped on his bathroom mirror for when he asks the who's the fairest question each morning.  He liked the promotion (my guess), and didn't until later see the conflict with his future aspiration.

An "agent", BTW, "is one who acts for, or in the place of, another, by authority from him".  Not a pundit, stalker or casual observer.

The leaflet with the retraction means nothing, but it it validates the request to see and judge ther birth certificate.  The birth certificate was released and created its own confusion.  I think Sheriff Joe is the most prominent person to question it, no offense to him.  It had a number of strange things about it but it certainly has not been proven to be a forgery.

In contrast, take a look at what happened with a 'real' forgery just minutes after 60 Minutes released it's National Guard letter.  Readers of Free Republic and Powerline blog ripped it to shreds and by this point in the process Dan Rather was unemployed, Powerline was Time Magazine's blog of the year and SeeBS had quite a black eye.

The 61st Minute  (The unraveling of the fake but true forgery)
5210  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: california on: May 17, 2012, 12:18:39 PM
"Why should people be driven from their homes because property values have changed?!?"

Let's start with that point.. Amen!

If 2% is not the right escalator limit then the answer is 3% or 4, not double digits compounded continuously.

Regarding the rest of the budget problem, go back to the spending arguments.  After Prop 13, it was unfair for Calif to raise property taxes so much on the others, when they can't assess them evenly.  Another example inefficient taxation.  Also, irresponsible to spend what you don't have the tax base to collect. 

The capital gains on your house is a point well taken.  Most people can get a one time exclusion on that.  Also I think one main difference is that there at least is money to pay the tax with at the time of the sale of the asset, whereas a residential property tax taxes you for existing, the money has to come and keep coming from somewhere else.  On the cap gains tax on a home, you are mostly taxing an inflationary, illusory gain.  The asset didn't change much; it was the value of the dollar received back at the tail end that has changed.  In the case of a stock sale or a dividend, the capital gains tax is generally an additional two layers (state and federal) of taxation on an after-tax distribution of income that has already been taxed twice (state and federal).

Meanwhile, while Calif contemplates more income tax rate hikes (as do other high tax rate states in trouble), they still have to compete with: Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington, Wyoming, New Hampshire and Tennessee, all with no individual income tax on ordinary income?? How do all of those do that?  North Dakota is looking at repealing their income tax too, because of oil boom revenues.  Too bad that California lacks natural resources...
5211  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: california on: May 17, 2012, 01:50:31 AM
JDN,  That is really a good answer.  On the first part, how to simplify it and get it done?  Basically you need to start paying public sector employees market based compensation - whatever it takes in the marketplace to get the right person to do a necessary job well.  In the pay plan or out of it, the employee can buy heathcare and retirement plans like everyone else.  Isn't that better than bankrupcy and financial collapse.

How you chop excessive administration in the public sector? As you say, run it like a business.  Apply careful scrutiny and pressure to every function, every job, every department, every budget line item.  In the private sector when it is failing, you cut at the top, you cut at the bottom, but you can't cut much at the level where the work gets done.  If you fire or layoff the people who do the main work, you still have to get the work done.  In education as you point out, that is the teacher in the classroom.  Not the staff diversity awareness coach or the Director of interdepartmental communications or whatever these other people do.

On the property tax question, You make a good point.  My suggestion would be a hybrid calculation, not solely based on runaway market values and not solely based on obsolete purchase price data.  Prop 13 was a great idea but it is so extreme that it locks people in place. like a welfare dependency.  At the other extreme, we have no protection like that.  Before the current correction I had the bad luck of seeing my value go up 8-fold.  Same house, same location, a couple of decades more worn out and the taxes go up roughly 8-fold - for the privilege of being able to see new construction for the wealthy.  That isn't right either.  My ability to pay doesn't change with my new neighbors income.  I shouldn't get a free pass on my value increase but I also shouldn't be forced out because of it.  'Fairness' is some balance in between.

On taxes in general:
"I have no problem with lowering taxes, but take off the deductions that usually favor the rich."
"Take away the numerous deductions. And yes, then lower income taxes."

Not to be anal on this, but please train yourself to distinguish always between taxes and tax rates.  Calif for sure needs revenues to go up, question is how to get there.  No ones knows exactly where, but there is a point where the higher rates bring in no additional revenue.  If a lower rate can bring in nearly the same revenue, that means income, especially take home.  More take home pay has a multiplier effect; everyone connected gets a potential bump up too from the contact, a restaurant, a waitress,  the martial arts school, your motorcycle mechanic, etc.  It is not trickle down, it is interconnectedness.

Another way to think of it is in terms of velocity of money.  If you tax capital less, if you tax each transaction less, if you tax labor less, etc. money is free to move around better, easier, faster.  At lower rates of taxation - and regulation, transactions happen that otherwise wouldn't, and things get done faster. Money gets paid and spent again sooner.   The same money at the end of the year has generated more income.  Revenues to the US or Calif treasury won't ever go up without rising incomes.

Cut spending first, you can cut out deductions that have no justification as you say, better yet cut regulations, but it is the marginal rate of what is kept that pushes earning, spending and Job creating investment forward, even on the left coast!  smiley

5212  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / UN, Sovereignty/Intl Law: Defeat Law of the Sea Treaty (LOST) -- Again on: May 16, 2012, 11:31:39 AM
"I do not see the need for a UN treaty."  [International Children's rights]

Agree!  For many reasons.  The desire of some to give up our sovereignty is not tied to one or two individual issues.  I don't see the need for the UN at all except as a speakers forum and a place where representatives can make contacts for voluntary  cooperation. I would keep the UN, move it out of NY, scale down our contribution, and form other organizations that address specific global needs that are in our best interest.

LOST, Law of the Sea Treaty
Moving on, my first Phyllis Schlafly post on the forum.  Same argument to some extent, we don't need decision making bodies that give Cuba for example an equal say as the US.

There's no need for a 18-nation organization to regulate offshore and deep-sea production everywhere in the world, mostly financed by American capital, and then allow it to be taxed for the benefit of foreign freeloaders. The riches of the Arctic, for example, can be resolved by negotiation among the five nations that border the Arctic.

Environmentalists, the third leg of the unholy coalition to ratify LOST, are salivating over its legal system of dispute resolution, which culminates in a 21-member international tribunal based in Hamburg, Germany. The tribunal's judgments could be enforced against Americans and cannot be appealed to any U.S. court.

This tribunal, known as ITLOS, International Tribunal of LOST, has jurisdiction over "maritime disputes," which suggests it will merely deal with ships accidentally bumping each other in the night. But radical environmental lawyers have big plans to make that sleepy tribunal the engine of all disputes about global warming, with power to issue binding rules on climate change, in effect superseding the discredited Kyoto Protocol, which the U.S. properly declined to ratify.

A paper just published by Steven Groves of the Heritage Foundation lays out the roadmap for how the radical environmentalist lawyers can use LOST to file lawsuits against the U.S. to advance their climate-change agenda.

Former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton warns us that the Law of the Sea Treaty is even more dangerous now than when President Ronald Reagan rejected it: "With China emerging as a major power, ratifying the treaty now would encourage Sino-American strife, constrain U.S. naval activities, and do nothing to resolve China's expansive maritime territorial claims." Bolton warns that LOST will give China the excuse to deny U.S. access to what China claims is its "Exclusive Economic Zone" extending 200 miles out into international waters.

The whole concept of putting the United States in the noose of another global organization, in which the U.S. has only the same one vote as Cuba, is offensive to Americans. LOST must be defeated.
5213  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: california on: May 16, 2012, 11:13:40 AM
From the deficit crisis and the Christy Brown comparison and comments that Calif is different on 'Decline, Fall, and Resurrection of America' and discussions that we should be having about Scott Walker's reforms in Wisconsin, the question I would pose to JDN and all California centrists is: what should Calif be doing to fix itself?

What spending should be cut if any, what spending should be off the table.  What rates should your property be taxed at.  What income tax changes would actually bring in more money instead of chasing it away.  Which regulations are excessive and ripe for repeal?  What reforms should voters support and their representatives enact?
It's an easy question for conservatives (spend less, make the taxes and rules friendly again to business and wealth creation), but Calif is not populated with conservatives.  To me it all comes down to basic principles of governance.  You cannot control spending while you operate in an environment where most voters think that costs will be borne by someone else.

Passing it all on to the next generation only works if you close the exits.
5214  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: May 15, 2012, 07:05:47 PM
"Should you wish to continue, I invite the two of you to carry on on some other thread e.g. Govt. Programs"

I was wondering if the fight should go to a political thread or over to Martial Arts.   wink
5215  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential - The food stamp President on: May 15, 2012, 11:09:32 AM
Bigdog,  Okay it was a radio ad; I stand corrected on that.  For the rest, I strenuously disagree.  

"Food stamps is meant to be a temporary helping mechanism.  Nothing the FOX "report" argued otherwise."

The food stamp ad argues healthy and fun, not temporary or even for people in need.  For many, it is a way of life. The ad implies that.  "You use it too?"  "Yes I do!"  "Ha ha ha!"  "Hoo Hoo Hoo!"  

"The rules were relaxed because of the increased average unemployment and subsequent, hopefully short term, poverty rates."

This was a man-made crisis.  We didn't get hit by a flood or volcano.  Part of the cause of private sector collapse is the toll that public sector transfer payments spending puts on every aspect of the productive economy.  That burden for me is greater than the family cost of food, shelter, clothing, transportation and healthcare combined - by far.  The burden is so heavy that 47% of the people need some kind of assistance - in the richest country in earth's history.

"People bitch about Obama's job creation attempts, and then bitch about people not having jobs."

Yes, we bitch.  These were not job creation attempts in any way I can recognize.  Shovel ready job is now a laugh out loud line in any circle.  Of every way that I know to increase the rate of private sector job creation, President Obama did none of them and moved us in the opposite direction on most.  If you disagree, then what would you say was the catalyst for the financial collapse with its resulting job losses, and why is the workforce participation rate still falling after all these fiscal and monetary (pretend) stimuli?  The chart is the BLS worforce participation rate from Workforce falloff coincides almost perfectly with emergency federal dollars spent.

"Complain about healthcare and then complain about a ad designed to get people to recognize that with foodstamps they can make healthy choices in the short term that will keep them out of the ER and doctors' offices in the longterm."

I complain about who pays for healthcare because third party pay screwed up the natural forces of market based cost restraint - for everyone.

"...with foodstamps they can make healthy choices in the short term that will keep them out of the ER and doctors' offices in the longterm?"  - Looking forward to the link on that!

Here's the link for food stamps and health: The largest nutritional problem in the United States causing healthcare issues today is obesity.  Obesity is positively correlated with food stamps.  

Food for the hungry might be the best social spending program possible, but why is it federal?  Why is it government?  Would not closer to home be a better place to know the people, the needs, the  costs?  My county has a budget of $1649528239/yr. My state has a budget of $33793000000 /biennium.  What do they do that is more important than helping to feed people in the community who have no other source of food?  Charitable giving in the US is $290890000000.  What do they have that is more pressing than feeding the hungry.  If food for needy wasn't already paid at the federal level, charities would receive even more IMO.  If further away is better for funding, why not do the whole world via the UN instead of advertising for recipients who don't even know they need help.

As an inner city landlord, I interviewing families about their income and expenses.  Random observations are also telling, such as yesterday at a CVS store.  The guy in front of me had to ring up his items separately, mini-donuts for 3.25 on the card (food stamps) and 2 mini-cigars for 4.50 cash, no problem. No stigma whatsoever and ready to take on the day!

Is there is no moral hazard or 'learned helplessness' problem with food stamps? (The original point)

Besides obesity and alleviating the urgency to go back to work, the fertility rate is 3 times higher for welfare families than non-welfare families.  Pay more for more mouths to feed and there are more mouths to feed.  Who knew?  No proof of causation, but that is quite a difference.  We may need for a new program and more spending.
5216  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential - “earned success,” or slide into “learned helplessness” on: May 14, 2012, 07:42:36 PM
"“earned success,” or slide into “learned helplessness.”"

Methinks that a catchy and pithy phrase worth remembering , , ,

Yes.   That pretty much nails it.  We spend a lot of money teaching helplessness, then judge the programs by how many recipients they can attract.  Watch the ad!
5217  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Senate races: The L thing, I’m (still) proud of my Native American heritage on: May 14, 2012, 07:28:15 PM
Elizabeth Warren, keeping the scandal alive.  Ever hear of admitting wrong?

This is today??

“You know, I’m proud of my Native American heritage,” Warren said. “I’m proud of my family. It’s now the case that people have gone over my college records, my law school records, every job I’ve ever had to see that I got my work. I got my jobs because I do my work. I work hard. I’ve been a good teacher.”

Hard work, good teacher, does not make you Harvard Law Professor.  We have those at the local schools.
Wasn't there a Dem candidate in 1988 who plagiarized and lied about his background - was out of the race by this point.  Never to make tomake anything of himself again. 
Oh yeah, Joe Biden:  The Write Stuff?
Why Biden's plagiarism shouldn't be forgotten.

By David Greenberg|Updated Monday, Aug. 25, 2008, 

Slate:  "the unusually creepy kind" of plagiarist.
Biden announced his candidacy in June 1987, and was considered one of the potentially strongest candidates in the field. However, in September 1987, newspaper stories stated he had plagiarized a speech by British politician Neil Kinnock. Other allegations of past law school plagiarism and exaggerating his academic record soon followed. Biden withdrew from the race later that month.,_1988
5218  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Political Economics: Why France Has So Many 49-Employee Companies on: May 14, 2012, 04:50:00 PM
Wesbury at his best!  Cut spending first.  But also cut through excessive regulations and inefficient tax rates.

A recent piece from Bloomberg worthy of consideration as we copy their economic plan:

Why France Has So Many 49-Employee Companies

French labor code: Once a company has at least 50 employees inside France, management must create three worker councils, introduce profit sharing, and submit restructuring plans to the councils if the company decides to fire workers for economic reasons.

French businesspeople often skirt these restraints by creating new companies rather than expanding existing ones. “I can’t tell you how many times when I was Minister I’d meet an entrepreneur who would tell me about his companies,” Thierry Breton, chief executive officer of consulting firm Atos and Minister of Finance from 2005 to 2007, said at a Paris conference on April 4. “I’d ask, ‘Why companies?’ He’d say, ‘Oh, I have several so that I can keep [the workforce] under 50.’ We have to review our labor code.”

They also 'skirt' regulations by not starting businesses in the first place.
5219  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Foreign Policy - Jim Webb bill on humanitarian interventions on: May 14, 2012, 01:04:14 PM
Speaking of redundancy, Jim Webb is now saying congress should authorize the use of federal funds, declare wars, etc.

Sen. Jim Webb is wrong on certain issues, but not on this one.
By: Richmond Times-Dispatch Opinion Staff
Published: May 14, 2012

Virginia Sen. Jim Webb has introduced legislation requiring the president to obtain congressional say-so before sending American troops abroad for humanitarian interventions where U.S. interests are not directly threatened.

Few people should find any grounds to challenge such a notion. Even Barack Obama has said that "the President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation."

Of course, Obama made those comments as a candidate. Since assuming the presidency he has taken a rather different tack — especially with regard to Libya, where — Webb says — he "failed to provide Congress with a compelling rationale" based on U.S. security interests for ordering military intervention.
5220  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The US Congress; Congressional races - Warren on: May 14, 2012, 12:48:18 PM
I hate to beat the Elizabeth Warren story to death but the story keeps adding twists and turns.  My understanding now: besides that claiming minority was only 1/32nd, then that 1/32nd was false, then that the great great grandfather married to the non-Cherokee they made us go back and find actually was involved with rounding up Cherokee for removal from their homes...

Now it looks like a genealogist committed a fraud on the matter for the cause

The one document that said Cherokee does not say Cherokee.  Who knew?  More importantly, who asked them to say it said what it didn't.

"the original claim of a marriage certificate listing Warren’s great-great-great grandmother as Cherokee demonstrably was false, as is the revised claim that there was an “electronic transcript” of a marriage application reflecting Cherokee heritage."

When I joked about renaming my daughter 'running bear' for her college app, it was a JOKE not perpetrated fraud backed up by a false claim of a reputed genealogist.
5221  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in America on: May 14, 2012, 12:34:42 PM
Yes, redundancy is what I read into it also.  Those of us who believe our rights have already been taken do not take our rights for granted.  A current vote that the constitution still applies and our rights still exist is very far from the worst I see coming out of legislatures.  I am not always quick enough to catch all of BD's insight or humor; if you see more than that written into the Kansas law, please advise.

The redundant "Department of Redundancy Department"  lol

We have far worse here.  I take my orders from the Department of Oxymorons.
5222  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cognitive Dissonance of the left - The Absent Vetting of John Edwards on: May 14, 2012, 12:01:28 PM
The Edwards ordeal seemed irrelevant because it imploded right after his candidacy didn't quite make it.  Besides irrelevant, it seemed personal, sad and stupid.  But in fact, he was VERY close to being the non-Hillary who very well could have been President if Obama had not run such a flawless 2008 campaign. He also could have been VP and wanted to be attorney general.

What I forgot was that he WAS the candidate - chosen for VP in 2004, I was reminded by:

Amazing what lack of vetting occurred with this unaccomplished one term Senator, now known to be a liar and corrupt (pending more defense and a jury verdict).

Edwards’ own attorney told the trial judge this week: “No one is going to deny that Mr. Edwards lied and lied and lied and lied.”
5223  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Klaus-Eckart Puls: if CO2 were doubled, temperature would rise 1°C on: May 14, 2012, 11:33:20 AM
Last week I saw the IMAX production of "To The Arctic" with beautiful photography, music by Paul McCartney and narrated by Meryl Streep to a script of deceptive half truths of environmental agendaisms that completely destroyed the peaceful serenity of what they were showing.  The focus they chose was the plight of the polar bear whose populations, never mentioned, have dramatically increased over the last 30 and 50 years.  Every never-ending worst on record claim was referring to the last 30 years while implying billions of years.

On the other side of the coin is another acclaimed scientist, German Meteorologist Klaus-Eckart Puls, who has come out vocally against the eroding myth of manmade climate disaster.  This interview is from a Swiss magazine, with an English translation below well worth reading.  Hghlights:

The Belief That CO2 Can Regulate Climate Is “Sheer Absurdity”

"The entire CO2-debate is nonsense. Even if CO2 were doubled, the temperature would rise only 1°C."

"Ten years ago I simply parroted what the IPCC told us. One day I started checking the facts and data – first I started with a sense of doubt but then I became outraged when I discovered that much of what the IPCC and the media were telling us was sheer nonsense and was not even supported by any scientific facts and measurements. To this day I still feel shame that as a scientist I made presentations of their science without first checking it."

factum (Swiss science publication): You’ve been criticising the theory of man-made global warming for years. How did you become skeptical?

Puls: Ten years ago I simply parroted what the IPCC told us. One day I started checking the facts and data – first I started with a sense of doubt but then I became outraged when I discovered that much of what the IPCC and the media were telling us was sheer nonsense and was not even supported by any scientific facts and measurements. To this day I still feel shame that as a scientist I made presentations of their science without first checking it. The CO2-climate hysteria in Germany is propagated by people who are in it for lots of money, attention and power.

factum: Is there really climate change?

Puls: Climate change is normal. There have always been phases of climate warming, many that even far exceeded the extent we see today. But there hasn’t been any warming since 1998. In fact the IPCC suppliers of data even show a slight cooling.

factum: The IPCC is projecting 0.2°C warming per decade, i.e. 2 to 4°C by the year 2100. What’s your view?

Puls: These are speculative model projections, so-called scenarios – and not prognoses. Because of climate’s high complexity, reliable prognoses just aren’t possible. Nature does what it wants, and not what the models present as prophesy. The entire CO2-debate is nonsense. Even if CO2 were doubled, the temperature would rise only 1°C. The remainder of the IPCC’s assumed warming is based purely on speculative amplification mechanisms. Even though CO2 has risen, there has been no warming in 13 years.

factum: How does sea level rise look?

Puls: Sea level rise has slowed down. Moreover, it has dropped a half centimeter over the last 2 years. It’s important to remember that mean sea level is a calculated magnitude, and not a measured one.  There are a great number of factors that influence sea level, e.g. tectonic processes, continental shifting, wind currents, passats, volcanoes. Climate change is only one of ten factors.

factum: What have we measured at the North Sea?

Puls: In the last 400 years, sea level at the North Sea coast has risen about 1.40 meters. That’s about 35 centimeters per century. In the last 100 years, the North Sea has risen only 25 centimeters.

factum: Does the sea level rise have anything to do with the melting North Pole?

Puls: That’s a misleading conclusion. Even if the entire North Pole melted, there would be no sea level rise because of the principles of buoyancy.

factum: Is the melting of the glaciers in the Alps caused by global warming?

Puls: There are many factors at play. As one climbs a mountain, the temperature drops about 0.65°C per 100 meters. Over the last 100 years it has gotten about 0.75°C warmer and so the temperature boundary has shifted up about 100 meters. But observations tell us that also ice 1000 meters up and higher has melted. Clearly there are other reasons for this, namely soot and dust. But soot and dust do not only have anthropogenic origins; they are also caused by nature via volcanoes, dust storms and wildfires. Advancing and retreating of glaciers have always taken place throughout the Earth’s history. Glaciology studies clearly show that glaciers over the last 10,0000 years were smaller on average than today.

factum: In your view, melting Antarctic sea ice and the fracture of a huge iceberg 3 years ago are nothing to worry about?

Puls: To the contrary, the Antarctic ice cap has grown both in area and volume over the last 30 years, and temperature has declined. This 30-year trend is clear to see. The Amundsen Scott Station of the USA shows that temperature has been declining there since 1957. 90% of the Earth’s ice is stored in Antarctica, which is one and half times larger than Europe.

factum: Then why do we always read it is getting warmer down there?

Puls: Here they are only talking about the West Antarctic peninsula, which is where the big chunk of ice broke off in 2008 – from the Wilkins-Shelf. This area is hardly 1% of the entire area of Antarctica, but it is exposed to Southern Hemisphere west wind drift and some of the strongest storms on the planet.

factum: What causes such massive chunks of ice to break off?

Puls: There are lots of factors, among them the intensity of the west wind fluctuations. These west winds have intensified over the last 20 years as part of natural ocean and atmospheric cycles, and so it has gotten warmer on the west coast of the Antarctic peninsula. A second factor are the larger waves associated with the stronger storms. The waves are more powerful and so they break off more ice. All these causes are meteorological and physical, and have nothing to do with a climate catastrophe.

factum: Then such ice breaks had to have occurred in the past too?

Puls: This has been going on for thousands of years, also in the 1970s, back when all the talk was about “global cooling”. Back then there were breaks with ice chunks hundreds of square kilometres in area. People were even discussing the possibilities of towing these huge ice chunks to dry countries like South Africa or Namibia in order to use them as a drinking water supply.

factum: What about all the media photos of polar bears losing their ice?

Puls: That is one of the worst myths used for generating climate hysteria. Polar bears don’t eat ice, they eat seals. Polar bears go hungry if we shoot their food supply of seals. The polar bear population has increased with moderately rising temperatures, from 5000 50 years ago to 25,000 today.

factum: But it is true that unlike Antarctica, the Arctic is melting?

Puls: It has been melting for 30 years. That also happened twice already in the last 150 years. The low point was reached in 2007 and the ice has since begun to recover. There have always been phases of Arctic melting. Between 900 and 1300 Greenland was green on the edges and the Vikings settled there.

factum: And what do you say about the alleged expanding deserts?

Puls: That doesn”t exist. For example the Sahara is shrinking and has lost in the north an area as large as Germany over the last 20 years. The same is true in the South Sahara. The famine that struck Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia was mainly caused by the leasing of large swaths of land to large international corporations so that they could grow crops for biofuels for Europe, and by war. But it is much easier for prosperous Europe to blame the world’s political failures on a fictional climate catastrophe instead.

factum: So we don’t need to do anything against climate change?

Puls: There’s nothing we can do to stop it. Scientifically it is sheer absurdity to think we can get a nice climate by turning a CO2 adjustment knob. Many confuse environmental protection with climate protection. it’s impossible to protect the climate, but we can protect the environment and our drinking water. On the debate concerning alternative energies, which is sensible, it is often driven by the irrational climate debate. One has nothing to do with the other.
5224  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in America on: May 14, 2012, 09:41:02 AM
America is a melting pot.  If you come here Muslim or convert to Islam you have the same rights to participate in making our laws and to be governed by our laws as everyone else.  The Kansas law quoted below really is saying what is already the law, you cannot contract away your constitutional rights and liberties.

Already well-answered, but the "simply don't like Muslims" comment was way out of line for people who truly believe in freedom of religion. That freedom ends at some of those extreme acts, already illegal here.  I've read a lot of posts here and never found someone who opposed peaceful prayer because a person worships a different religion. The part of Islam we don't like is when and where they teach hatred, vow to destroy others and recruit their young to come kill us, forcing our response.  That is NOT what this issue is about.  (P.S. CINO: Catholic in name only, there is nothing Catholic or Christian about abusing children or covering it up, though most certainly it happened.  They also are not entitled to be judged by a separate set of laws, prohibited in the Kansas law.)

Kansas House Bill (Substitute for SENATE BILL No. 79)

AN ACT concerning the protection of rights and privileges granted under
the United States or Kansas constitutions.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of the State of Kansas:
Section 1. While the legislature fully recognizes the right to contract
freely under the laws of this state, it also recognizes that this right may be
reasonably and rationally circumscribed pursuant to the state’s interest to
protect and promote rights and privileges granted under the United States
or Kansas constitution.
Sec. 2. As used in this act, "foreign law," "legal code" or "system"
means any law, legal code or system of a jurisdiction outside of any state
or territory of the United States, including, but not limited to, international
organizations and tribunals and applied by that jurisdiction’s courts,
administrative bodies or other formal or informal tribunals.
Sec. 3. Any court, arbitration, tribunal or administrative agency ruling
or decision shall violate the public policy of this state and be void and
unenforceable if the court, arbitration, tribunal or administrative agency
bases its rulings or decisions in the matter at issue in whole or in part on
any foreign law, legal code or system that would not grant the parties
affected by the ruling or decision the same fundamental liberties, rights
and privileges granted under the United States and Kansas constitutions.
Sec. 4. A contract or contractual provision, if capable of segregation,
which provides for the choice of a foreign law, legal code or system to
govern some or all of the disputes between the parties adjudicated by a
court of law or by an arbitration panel arising from the contract mutually
agreed upon shall violate the public policy of this state and be void and
unenforceable if the foreign law, legal code or system chosen includes or
incorporates any substantive or procedural law, as applied to the dispute at
issue, that would not grant the parties the same fundamental liberties,
rights and privileges granted under the United States and Kansas
Sec. 5. (a) A contract or contractual provision, if capable of
segregation, which provides for a jurisdiction for purposes of granting the
courts or arbitration panels in personam jurisdiction over the parties to
adjudicate any disputes between parties arising from the contract mutually
agreed upon shall violate the public policy of this state and be void and
unenforceable if the jurisdiction chosen includes any foreign law, legal
code or system, as applied to the dispute at issue, that would not grant the
parties the same fundamental liberties, rights and privileges granted under
the United States and Kansas constitutions.
(b) If a resident of this state, subject to personal jurisdiction in this
state, seeks to maintain litigation, arbitration, agency or similarly binding
proceedings in this state and if the courts of this state find that granting a
claim of forum non conveniens or a related claim violates or would likely
violate the fundamental liberties, rights and privileges granted under the
United States and Kansas constitutions of the nonclaimant in the foreign
forum with respect to the matter in dispute, then it is the public policy of
this state that the claim shall be denied.
Sec. 6. Nothing in this act shall be construed to disapprove of or
abrogate any appellate decision previously rendered by the supreme court
of Kansas.
Sec. 7. Nothing in this act shall be construed to allow a court to: (a)
Adjudicate or prohibit any religious organization from deciding upon
ecclesiastical matters of a religious organization, including, but not limited
to, the selection, appointment, calling, discipline, dismissal, removal or
excommunication of a member, member of the clergy, or other person who
performs ministerial functions; or (b) determine or interpret the doctrine of
a religious organization, including, but not limited to, where adjudication
by a court would violate the prohibitions of the religion clauses of the first
amendment to the constitution of the United States, or violate the
constitution of the state of Kansas.
5225  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Mitt Romney the Community Organizer on: May 14, 2012, 08:22:11 AM
The silver spoon argument of course had to do with how you grew up and how you lived your life, not the metal used in your utensils or the bonus checks your dad cashed after you grew up.  The bully story had traction for about a minute but didn't march the guy we know now.  Successful people who have their own act together it turns out are actually in a better position to help others than poor people generally are.  The WashPost could have uncovered a couple of stories like these that follow, except these don't advance the agenda.

Mitt Romney, community organizer

Was Mitt Romney a jerk in high school? Maybe. But what is the adult Romney like?

From The Real Romney, by Michael Kranish and Scott Helman (pages 120-121):

    One Saturday, Grant Bennett got up on a ladder outside his two-story [house] intent on dislodging a hornets’ nest, which had formed between an air-conditioning unit and a second floor window. . . .The hornets went right at him, and he fell off the ladder, breaking his foot. . . .Romney learned what had happened and went over that afternoon to see if there was anything he could do. He and Bennett chatted for a few minutes, and then Romney left.

    About nine thirty that Sunday night, Romney reappeared. Only this time, it was dark out. Romney was in jeans and a polo shirt instead of his suit, and he was carrying a bucket, a piece of hose, and a couple of screwdrivers. “He said, ‘I noticed you hadn’t gotten rid of the hornets,” Bennett recalled. “I said, ‘Mitt you don’t need to do that.’ He said, I’m here, and I’m going to do it. . .You demonstrated that doing it on a ladder is not a good idea.’” Romney went at it from inside the house, opening a window enough to dislodge it. Soon the hornets were gone.

    Everyone who knows Romney in the church community seems to have a story like this, about him and his family pitching in to help in ways big and small. They took chicken and asparagus soup to sick parishioners. They invited unsettled Mormon transplants in their home for lasagna.

    Helen Claire Stevens and her husband once loaned a friend from church a six-figure sum and weren’t getting paid back. Suddenly, they couldn’t to pay their daughter’s Harvard College tuition. Romney who was [a local Mormon] leader at the time, not only worked closely with the Stevens family and the loan recipient to try to resolve the problem, he offered to give Stevens and her husband money and tried to help her find a job. “He spent an infinite amount of time with, all the time we needed,” Stevens said. “It was way above and beyond what he had to do”. . . .

    On Super Bowl Sunday 1989, Douglas Anderson was at home in Belmont with his four children when a fire broke out. The blaze spread quickly, and all Anderson could think of was racing his family to safety. “There was no thought in my mind other than ‘Get my kids out,’” he said. “I was not thinking about saving anything.” He doesn’t remember when Romney, who lived nearby, showed up. But he got there quickly. Immediately, Romney organized the gathered neighbors, and they began dashing into the house to rescue what could: a desk, couches, books. . . . “They saved some important things for us, and Mitt was the general in charge of that.” This went on until firefighters ordered them to stop. “Literally,” Anderson said, “they were finally kicked out by the firemen as they were bringing hoses and stuff.”

    After the fire was finally out, Anderson, Romney, and other church members shared a spiritual moment on the front steps of the charred home. . . .Anderson recalled, “we talked about how even in a case like this, if we tried to be true to our faith, it could turn out to be a positive thing.” Over the many years since, Anderson said, the family has seen that come true.

    Romney’s acts of charity extended beyond just the church community. After his friend and neighbor Joseph O’Donnell lost a son, Joey, to cystic fibrosis. . .Romney helped lead a community effort to build Joey’s park, a playground. . .in Belmont. “There he was with a hammer in his belt, the Mitt nobody sees,” O’Donnell said.

    Romney didn’t stop there. About a year later, it became apparent that the park would need regular maintenance and repairs. “The next thing I know, my wife calls me up and says, ‘You’re not going to believe this, but Mitt Romney is down with a bunch of Boy Scouts and kids and they’re working on the park,’” said O’Donnell. . . .”He did it for like the next five years, without ever calling to say, ‘We’re doing this,’ without a reporter in tow, not looking for any credit.”

Perhaps these sorts of actions signify what it meant to be a community organizer before the left politicized the concept.
5226  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in America on: May 13, 2012, 12:06:26 PM
Crafty's point is crucial IMO, Oklahoma's law referenced singled out a particular religion and was struck down.  The Kansas law does not.

JDN says freedom you should have a freedom to freely draw up contracts; great idea, but that is not true in any other area of law. In housing, I cannot write provisions such as a longer term to return a deposit than is specified in state law if both parties agree, or set a faster, easier reversion process for default in mortgage in exchange for a lower interest rate if all parties agree.  Loan sharks and usury are another example or prostitution and narcotics; you simply cannot do these deals.

If you want more freedom to make enforceable, consensual, private contracts, the starting point should be smaller government.  Get active to oppose these laws but don't expect a court to strike them all down. MHO.
5227  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential - polls, 'Julia' - life without aspiratition on: May 13, 2012, 11:48:02 AM
A comment on polling, polls list what they call their 'margin of error' which is the statistical error of projecting the results of a limited random sample onto the entire population.  IMO, that is only one of the categories of errors contained in the various polls.  For example, gay marriage consistently polls better than it votes.  People tell a pollster what they think sounds better or more tolerant and then vote on a harder line.  That same phenomenon may or may not be true for whether they say they still support or approve our very likable first President of color versus how harshly they will judge him in the privacy of the polling booth.

Another areas of potential error is whether or not it is completely random as to who the pollsters can't reach or who, like me, refuse to talk to them.

It only takes 1 or 2 out of a hundred difference (or less) to swing a national election.

A swing state, conservative columnist answers to the cradle to grave 'Julia' campaign piece symbolizing the government centric philosophy of the Obama administration.  He references Iowahawk facetious parady on Julia ( but makes serious points to follow:

"Up to now we’ve put a high value on self-sufficiency, while acknowledging the need for a safety net for support in old age or temporarily, when life deals a bad hand. Julia, by contrast, is supported at virtually every step with subsidies of various sorts...[Obama’s] larger goal [is] to fundamentally change the relationship between Americans and their government."

The ‘Life of Julia,’ or life without aspiration
The Kansas City Star
The right-wing blogosphere has been having a fine time with the “The Life of Julia,” the Obama campaign’s attempt to show, through a series of USA Today-style illustrations, how the policies of President Obama come to the aid of women at every important moment in their lives.

At 3, we see little Julia enrolled in a Head Start program. At 17, she’s in a Race to the Top high school. Later she has surgery and receives free birth control, thanks to Obamacare.

The story goes on: She has a career as a web designer, gets a Small Business Administration loan, then “decides” to have a child and names him Zachary. Zachary is apparently begotten by immaculate conception, since Julia never marries and no one else appears in the story.

“The Life of Julia” details the cradle-to-grave attention this supposed Everywoman receives from the caring people in the government. Thanks to Obama, she enjoys a comfortable retirement. Because of that, she can volunteer at a community garden.

The illustrations also show how Republican Mitt Romney would blight this story of placid contentment. Forget Head Start. Under Romney, that program would be cratered by budget cuts. Race to the Top? Ditto. And on and on, until the nation’s crops are burned by Republicans, the fields sown with salt and all the small furry animals are eaten by free-market fanatics.

I couldn’t resist. “The Life of Julia” has spawned parodies everywhere, but the topper is the sendoff at A sample: At age 3 under President Obama, “Julia is enrolled in a Great Leap program where she will learn critical community organizing and obedience skills....”

Under Mitt Romney, poor little Julia “will be marched to a Mormon polygamy camp in Utah where Paul Ryan will torture her with boring Republican math mumbo jumbo.” And so on.

Parody aside, I’m at a loss to understand how this drab story could galvanize support for Obama’s re-election. Who could identify with Julia? She never finds love. Until Zachary arrives, she’s alone in the world. She claims no real accomplishments. Throughout, she remains passive. She stays within the channel laid down for her by the government. I wondered if they left out the story of her lobotomy.

“The Life of Julia” reveals much about its originators and the man on whose behalf it was created. Here we see the sterile vision of a certain kind of hard-left liberal, who apparently views the American citizen as a submissive, isolated entity — docile and disconnected from extended family or the web of groups and associations that make up a healthy civil society.

Omitted is any mention of the cost of Julia’s benefits, how they will be financed or, more to the point, how this vision, translated into policy, will change our notion of who we are as Americans.

Up to now we’ve put a high value on self-sufficiency, while acknowledging the need for a safety net for support in old age or temporarily, when life deals a bad hand. Julia, by contrast, is supported at virtually every step with subsidies of various sorts.

In Obama’s first address to Congress, he outlined a radically ambitious legislative program that made it clear his larger goal was to fundamentally change the relationship between Americans and their government.

One of the major underlying issues in this year’s election is to what extent we will, as Arthur Brooks of the American Enterprise Institute put it, continue to value “earned success,” or slide into “learned helplessness.”
5228  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / US-Russia, NY Times: Romney's view of Russia Stirs Debate on: May 13, 2012, 11:01:24 AM
While no one's political attention seems to be on questions like how to deal with Russia, it is an area where the candidates could not disagree more.  A few excerpts of a NY Times piece below.  Question is presented as to whether Romney will be a better negotiator in America's interests by starting with a stronger stance (while Obama already signaled his desire to make greater concessions after his reelection).
"Mr. Obama, who came to office promising to “reset” relations with Moscow, only to find that Russia can be a difficult partner."
"Mr. Romney signaled his stance toward Russia two years ago, when he argued that the New Start missile treaty with Russia should be rejected, putting him at odds with a long line of former Republican secretaries of state and defense."
"Mr. Romney felt the missile treaty was a bad deal partly because it would impede American defenses..."
"Mr. Romney also criticized a White House decision scrapping a proposed antiballistic missile shield in Eastern Europe..."
5229  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tea Party, Glen Beck and related matters on: May 12, 2012, 06:11:59 PM
"Wapo conveniently has shady Romney hit piece ready to go:"

As if they knew...

Well looky here:

"I'm Out for Obama"

This site, the official campaign site, has LGBT for Obama attire up and ready to go by Sat when the announcement was just this week.  Who knew?

What was the announcement anyway in terms of policy changes?
5230  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Education on: May 12, 2012, 04:39:49 PM
Thank you JDN.  It is quite a beautiful campus with green grass and majestic trees, up on a hill overlooking the river valley and the metro area to the north and southern MN to the south.

Small colleges are quite competitive.  St. Olaf's claim is being the only school in the nation whose fight song is in 3/4 time - a waltz, Um Ya Ya at 3:30 and 3:45 in the video after a blonde MN college girl gives her homecoming commentary in Swedish:

"while I was quite good at tennis, I was not good enough to play varsity while I was at USC"

You will need to remove the past tense attached to 'quite good at tennis' before we meet halfway for the match to decide all differences.  )
5231  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Education on: May 11, 2012, 10:55:56 PM
Thanks JDN.   St. Olaf College.  They are strong academically and she was recruited for sports.  They are especially famous for their choir but have great orchestras, beautiful campus, nice people, religious atmosphere even though it is Lutheran and she is Catholic, alcohol and drug free atmosphere, top notch food, an hour from home and mostly paid for.  A 4 year residential liberal arts college, they are also very good in the sciences.

The last one she passed on was a great business school at a major university, almost all scholarship including a semester abroad scholarship, but no chance to compete for the school team (because of Div 1 and title 9), large urban campus (scary for a protected suburbanite), and she isn't sure business is her major to enter such a focused program.  Could possibly make that switch after one year, or for grad school.  We'll see... (some info)
According to the most recent National Science Foundation's Survey of Earned Doctorates, St. Olaf ranks 11th overall among the nation's 262 baccalaureate colleges in the number of graduates who go on to earn doctoral degrees.  St. Olaf earned top 10 rankings in the following fields: religion/theology and social service professions (2nd); arts/music, education, and medical sciences (4th); life sciences (5th); mathematics/statistics, chemistry, and engineering (8th); foreign languages and biological sciences (9th); and physical sciences (10th).
5232  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / "Too brainy to be president?" on: May 11, 2012, 10:52:36 AM
Too smart but he can't release a grade or test score.  Too smart but wrong on everything economic.  Too smart but no clue on how to solve a crises in Syria, Egypt, the Chinese embassy or anywhere else.  Can't balance a budget - ever.   He is perhaps the only person on earth to have moved from pro gay marriage 1990s to against it in the 2000s back to for it again in 2012.  Too smart or spineless or have gay people 'evolved' that much in such a short time.

This is lousy journalism to me reflecting on the paper that pays for it and publishes it, but it is opinion so into the cognitive dissonance of the left thread it goes.,0,2453306.column

Obama's intellect doesn't have much currency in the political climate of extreme partisanship and pandering to a very low common denominator.
5233  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: May 11, 2012, 10:15:35 AM
Republicans including Romney on the gay question need to articulate how life, liberty and pursuit of happiness is a guarantee fully open to all.  That to me does not lead to where women sue women over paternity in a gender-free society.
5234  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: May 11, 2012, 10:01:00 AM
JDN, Don't worry, in Purple Rain, Prince didn't know his Minneapolis lakes either.  Just the point that Minneapolis has sent good teams to LA for the larger market before.  The economic tenet is that these athletes (and owners) deserve the large fruits of their labor (and investment risk taking) IF those dollars flow based on a free economic exchange.  If you can bring entertainment and enjoyment to millions of people based on talent and hard work then you are entitled to your share of the money rightfully generated.  Unfortunately pro sports has a false model with a hole in it where the already humungous money is inflated by the taxpayers in the communities.  Their money comes partly from a threat of taking my home or imprisoning me if I don't pay.  Nice.

"although I don't necessarily buy it, supposedly pro teams bring in revenue to the city."

Of course they do and that is more visible and measurable than the money taken from all the other businesses to artificially support them.  Meanwhile, they build homes a lot like Mitt Romney's. (Click where it says 'view larger map' to see what a Minneapolis metro lake look like.)

Taxpayer support of pro sports is from the same argument as special treatment for auto makers or anyone else.  Of course we don't want to lose them, but not at the cost of undermining the principles that make the whole system work.  Like paying ransom for hostages, we'll do it just this once thinking big pay with no risk won't encourage more hostage situations.  Too-big-to-fail thinking ironically makes the too-big get bigger and bigger, literally at the expense of the small.  That is what we want?

It is hard to articulate, but the possibility of failure in capitalism is part of the dynamism and constant rejuvenation of freely flowing assets, resources and innovation that all centrally run, state directed economies by definition lack.
5235  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The US Congress; Congressional races: The Cherokee Professor on: May 11, 2012, 08:54:56 AM
The lies (She joined minority groups to make friends?) keep the story relevant and the search for its basis.  Certainly she now uses her status as Harvard law Professor to gain credibility, so any funny business about how she got there has relevance.  There is the hypocrisy of supporting affirmative action while undermining it.  In theory, some real native American woman should have had that job.  In racism is her unspoken rationalization that there is no real Cherokee that could do her job as well as she can, an argument against affirmative action in the first place.

A second institution says she used it for advancement.  She should admit being a dishonest cheater and get back to the business of advancing more great programs like affirmative action.

Instead of being Cherokee because one great great grandparent was one (actually a Swede), the search for that led to the finding that her great great grandfather was rounding up Cherokee people for removal from their homes and forced relocation, sometimes fatal, in the infamous Trail of Tears.  No worries.  She has denied that.
Our own local gaffe machine, Republican Michele Bachmann is renouncing her Swiss citizenship.  Her dual citizenship became known because she told a Swiss audience about it, while running for reelection in the north suburbs of Minneapolis.  Exhibiting focus she learned from Newt?
5236  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential, Morris: Romney Landslide? on: May 11, 2012, 12:15:50 AM
Going back to the Dick Morris post of yesterday:

"If the election were held today, Obama would lose by at least 10 points and would carry only about a dozen states with fewer than 150 electoral votes."

He is partly on to something and partly overplaying the hand IMO. 

Most of the other analysts starts with the perfect storm electoral map of 2008.  When every factor was perfectly in his favor (in 2008) he won by only 7 points.  This will be nothing like 2008; the issues and circumstances today and likely in November are more like 2010 when Republicans won by the same margin of about 7 points.  That was a mid-term and this is a Presidential election,so  my best guess is that Romney can win by half that margin, 3-4 points nationwide, assuming conditions like today, which would sweep enough swing states for the electoral margin to be quite convincing and bring the house and a narrow win in the senate as well.

This will be a national election on  the candidates, the issues and the record.  President Obama at some point is going to run out of shiny objects like gay marriage and Romney's wild teenage years to spotlight and it will all come back to the record and that age-old question:

Are you better off now than you were six trillion dollars ago?

If Romney wins by 1-2%, he takes the electoral college with maybe no states to spare and perhaps a 50-50 senate.  If the margin is less than a point for either one of them, then the electoral count is a crapshoot with our future hanging in the balance. 

If Obama wins  a squeaker which I think is his only possibility, then the tiebreaker for a 50-50 senate goes to the Dem VP.  Every issue in that scenario will go just as smoothly as last summer's debt ceiling negotiations.   (
5237  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics: Stadium subsidies on: May 10, 2012, 01:21:51 PM
"Doug, since you are in MN, what is your take on this?"

Thanks JDN.  Yes the issue is perhaps the same everywhere at different times.  

Your opinion from LA is relevant too because that their threat - to move the Vikings to LA.  Does anyone even know what lakes your  Lakers are named for?

I hate public private partnerships as a violation of about a dozen principles, equal protection comes to mind, extortion being illegal is another.  It should either be a public asset that they rent to a team or a private football business investment. The road and highway changes and other infrastructure expenses should be enough for the taxpayer portion. This is subsidy to help billionaires hire more millionaires - (so that largely white people can watch black people hurt each other).  What they forget is that it is zero-sum because they take from all other businesses to subsidize one.

Locally they call it the "cold Omaha" argument, meaning that one of the world's greatest cities and region's population and cultural center will be as irrelevant as Omaha (quite insulting!), and colder (farther north), if not for pro sports.  Missing in that argument is that except that good teams like the Packers come visit, we already lost the pro-level quality of all our teams a few years back.

Also missing in the local argument is that this really was a two stadium question, Twins and Vikings, and really more stadiums than that over the last few years.  Former Governor Tim Pawlenty got the Twins stadium done by allowing Hennepin County to foot the taxpayer portion.  Henn Co got the tax approved with rule by 4 commissioners and never put it on the ballot.  Hennepin County not even counting the Minneapolis part has an economy larger than about 8 states.  The Vikings deal then should have been put on all counties except Hennepin for MN to retain the last vulnerable pro franchise.  Not so.  We get to double pay.  Ironically those of us in the outskirts of Hennepin live further from t he stadiums than all of Ramsey County(St. Paul) and parts of 4 other  counties, but get the double tax.

Also missed in the SI story is that we also built a new football stadium on the Univ. of MN campus, one of the nation's 5 largest public university campuses, in the same city, in the same time frame, for the same sport, for 6 home games/yr, but there is "no way" that pro football could be played in that stadium, for 'economic' reasons.  Building two stadiums at the same time for the same sport in the same is economical?  Only with government approval of taxpayer money.

U of M also broke ground on a new baseball Stadium this week.  Don't tell me we don't have enough money.

Like Sweden, the Minnesota blue state economic plan only worked back when people had a Scandinavian (and German) work ethic that didn't allow anyone to quit work unnecessarily and soak up public resources.  Those ethics are long gone while the spending programs keep growing.

What did Milton Friedman say about public subsidies...  Investments that don't pay for themselves  - aren't worth making.
5238  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential - Biden in the 2008 debate on: May 10, 2012, 12:35:47 PM
A great catch by Crafty: 
..."one of his most flagrantly-ignored-by-the-pravdas gaffes occurred during the debate with Palin"...

"When we kicked -- along with France, we kicked Hezbollah out of Lebanon, I said and Barack said, "Move NATO forces in there. Fill the vacuum, because if you don't know -- if you don't, Hezbollah will control it."

  - Yes, and it seems it was mostly right wing sites pointing out the 'mother of all gaffes' out of this  foreign policy expert. skipped it entirely (shocked).  Details below some other issues from that debate

All eyes were looking for Palin to display ignorance in that debate.  She survived but came across mostly as repetitive with her handler scripted talking points.  Joe had a near endless supply of false facts as I saw it, mostly regarding economic matters. My observation was that every time that Biden slowed down and repeated himself for emphasis, which happened several times, he was wrong on his facts.

From other sites that covered the debate:

Biden said five times that McCain’s tax plan would give oil companies a "$4 billion tax cut."  - He was referring to McCain’s plan to cut the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 25 percent — for ALL corporations, not just oil companies.  (Extremely misleading!  And a corp tax rate cut would have helped the recovery.  Still not done.)

Biden said: McCain voted on the same way on the budget resolution as Obama did.

Biden said: Under Obama people will not pay more taxes than they did under Reagan.

Biden said: It would take at least ten years to get any oil from new production.

Biden said: The “Use of Force” resolution was NOT a war resolution / authorization for war.

Biden said: McCain voted the same way Obama did with funding the troops.

Biden said: The United States spends more in three weeks in Iraq as we have in the past seven years in Afghanistan.

Biden said: That Article I of the Constitution refers to the Executive branch.

Biden said there is a windfall profits tax in Alaska.

Biden said: McCain opposed President Clinton on Bosnia.

“We don’t call it redistribution we call that ‘fairness’.” – Joe Biden  (True, that's what you call redistribution.)

    Of course, no one “threw Hezb’allah out of Lebanon.” They have been there all along as the expert above notes. The Lebanese people threw the Syrians out of Lebanon, with no help from liberal Democrats like Biden and Obama, but with a great big behind the scenes lift from France and the US. It was we who put the bug in King Abdullah’s ear to lobby the Syrians to get while the going was good as the French worked directly on Baby Assad. The combination worked wonderfully and the Syrians left in a hurry – after a couple of million Lebanese took to the streets in a breathtaking show of defiance to tyranny and love of freedom.

    Joe Biden – or any rational human being on this planet anyway – never recommended that NATO be dispatched to “fill the vacuum.” It is a lie. If it had been proposed. Colin Powell would have been laughed out of the room – something we should do to Biden at this point because he compounded his gaffe by evidently believing that not having NATO as a buffer between Israel and Hezb’allah – an absolute impossibility mind you – led to the ascension of Hezb’allah in Lebanon as a political power.

    Where has Biden been for the last 20 years – at least since the Taif Accords were signed in 1989 which gave Hezb’allah a free hand in the southern part of the country and then pressuring the Lebanese government to formally designate them as “the resistance” to Israel? Hezb’allah’s rise is directly related to Iran’s funding of their proxy to the tune of around $250 million a year.

I cannot recall anyone seriously suggesting that NATO occupy the sub-Litani region of Lebanon.  NATO already found itself stretched to meet its commitments in Afghanistan, although Germany and Italy did find troops to contribute to the beefed-up presence in UNIFIL, the same multinational force that had sat idle while Hezbollah armed itself after the Israeli withdrawal from the region a few years ago — and then turned around and did the same thing after the Israeli withdrawal in 2006.

Some people assumed that Biden meant that the US and France kicked Syria out of Lebanon, but Michael Totten — who has spent considerable time in Lebanon — doesn’t buy that explanation, either:

    And did Biden and Senator Barack Obama really say NATO troops should be sent into Lebanon? When did they say that? Why would they say that? They certainly didn’t say it because NATO needed to prevent Hezbollah from returning–since Hezbollah never went anywhere.

    I tried to chalk this one up as just the latest of Biden’s colorful gaffes. Did he mean to say “we kicked Syria out of Lebanon?” But that wouldn’t make any more sense. First of all, the Lebanese kicked Syria out of Lebanon. Not the United States, and not France. But he clearly meant to say Hezbollah, not Syria, because he correctly notes just a few sentences later that Hezbollah is part of Lebanon’s government. He wasn’t talking about Syria. He was talking about Hezbollah all the way through, at the beginning, in the middle, and at the end of his outlandish assertion.
5239  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Martha's Vineyard anyone? on: May 10, 2012, 09:32:10 AM
Boston Herald reporting there will be no annual island luxuriating with the elites this year.  Okay to golf while troops are in harm's way but not if it jeopardizes job one, holding onto power.  Off the coast of Mass. is not a swing state.
5240  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: May 10, 2012, 09:17:43 AM
I will grant that some of his slips are intentional and on some he jumps the gun to make himself relevant, like getting out front on gay marriage.  Experts say the VP makes about a 1% difference, if that.  Biden with Obama is perhaps a 0% factor for the reason posted, Obama is the vital player.  But Biden will be out there with cameras on him everyday of this campaign with all the risks that poses.

'Dumb like a fox' is generous.  Take this answer: 'Part of what a leader demonstrate he or she knows what their talkin' about...when the stock market crashed, Franklin Roosevelt got on television...'  FDR wasn't President until 3 years later, there wasn't any television and the lessons of the Great Depression are crucially relevant today. So Katie Couric, famous for bringing down Sarah Palin, let this pass without comment. (I wonder what she reads?) His soft treatment by the main press might end suddenly and it might not.  A person that high up willing to talk on camera about what they don't know is a risk you would think this campaign machine would fear more than anything, even a jobs report.

Yes he plays key roles behind the scenes (scary), but as I see it, Joe Biden as VP was front and center the first indicator that the new administration would not be governing from above the clouds.

The braintrust of the campaign keeps Biden out of the planning meetings, but keeping Joe out of the loop has its own risks.  They send him handlers I'm sure but he doesn't let himself be held to a script.  He is especially open and loose when things feel like they are going well.

For Republicans, there is an unfairness to it all that with the knowledge that their own next gaffe (Sarah Palin afraid to say she mostly reads hunting magazines?) will bring down their whole public existence, while this guy knows less, puts his foot all the way in and people laugh and say that's just old Joe.

He is a heartbeat away and he was this President's first 'Presidential' decision.  Biden is not the problem; he is a symptom of the problem.   This administration hires, tolerates and governs with incompetence. (JMHO, it is only what independent voters think that counts.) The second term offered up will be the same players(?) doing the same things, getting different results.

Under the Biden-isn't-vital theory they also leave themselves with no new leader groomed to follow Pres. Obama, win or lose in 2012.
5241  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 2012 Presidential, Joe Biden - The problem in Iran on: May 09, 2012, 01:14:22 PM
"WE were the problem" in Iran.

The elevator in Joe Biden's brain does not go to all the floors.
5242  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The US Congress; Congressional races: Lugar on: May 09, 2012, 11:51:51 AM
I think the roll call piece sums it up pretty well.  He was a pretty good Senator who had his moments. He was fairly conservative when he wanted to be.  Not an Olympia Snowe at all, but Indiana is not Maine.  Reaching across the aisle to him meant leftward to 'get things done', but not to his constituents on his right who are mostly up in arms about the things that got done.

The last 6 years have been a disaster that incumbents even in opposition need to answer for:  Did you do everything you could do to stop this?  I have been mostly blaming Barack Obama as Senator and President and the Pelosi-Reid congress for the current situation.  Crafty has often put some blame on people like Speaker Boehner and asked where the Republican congressional leadership is on issues of urgency and survival.  Lugar was one of those senior statesman who either failed to speak out or failed to be persuasive in doing so.  Where was he when the Republicans were in power as the voice of reason to stop the runaway growth of government and spending? Where was he before the crash blowing the whistle on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac for both the corruption and the abandonment of market principles that would bring down our prosperity?  Where in the aftermath of the 2010 tea party revolution, when the Dems lost 63 seats and control of the House, was he when the parties fought to the death over spending and then locked in emergency spending as permanent and raised spending another 5%?  Even if he was ostensibly on the 'right' of these issues, where was the passion to get bad policies stopped?  Missing.  A 20 point loss says that at least the primary voters in Indiana are looking for more.  Give someone else a try.

President Obama's praise for Lugar reaching across the aisle looks like a back stab considering Lugar's reach gave them R votes for Justices Ginsburg, Sotomayer and Kagen when Sen./ Obama the uniter couldn't even bring himself to vote for Chief Justice John Roberts.  

People say statesman.  He is calm with wisdom on some areas of foreign policy but largely silent on crucial economic issues IMO. I post speeches on the Senate floor of Marco Rubio and show a statesman.  There aren't many Marco Rubios for charisma, so I offer exhibit B, Ron Johnson junior Senator of Wisconsin of ordinary talent but far more active and persuasive IMO.  I realize Lugar is 80 and maybe his reticence to speak out is age related but I don't recall much previous passion either.  He wasn't outraged when HW Bush broke his no new taxes pledge and hasn't been outraged at very much since.

The following is taken from the websites of his opponents articulating their gripes.  As Crafty intimates, they lead with guns, but I don't think that is the core of it.

Top Twenty Reasons to retire Lugar in 2012
The Tea party wants you to know that we are not “inarticulate”, that Hoosiers who oppose Lugar are not “dupes”, and that we are ready to “get real” working to defeat Lugar in 2012.
While there are hundreds to choose from the Jay County Tea Party selected these as the top twenty worst Lugar Votes.
1. 1993 – Lugar voted to unconstitutionally ban semi-automatic handguns and rifles.
2. 2004 - Lugar voted to unconstitutionally ban semi-automatic handguns and rifles.
3. 2002 – Lugar voted to ban political speech during an election in the unconstitutional McCain Campaign Finance Reform.
4. 1993 – Lugar voted to confirm extreme left wing judge Ruth Bader Ginsberg to the Supreme Court.
5. 2009 - Lugar voted to confirm extreme left wing judge Sonya Sodomayor to the Supreme Court.
6. 2010 - Lugar voted to confirm extreme left wing judge Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court.
7. 2003 – Lugar voted for the Climate Stewardship Act, a cap and trade bill that would have at least doubled Indiana electric Rates.
8. 2005 - Lugar voted for another democrat cap and trade bill that would have at least doubled Indiana electric Rates.
9. 2006 – Lugar voted to give amnesty to illegal aliens in the McCain comprehensive amnesty bill.
10. 1982 – Lugar voted for a tax increase that, when it was passed, was the largest tax increase in history.
11. 1990 - Lugar voted for a tax increase that, when it was passed, was the largest tax increase in history.
12. 2007 – Lugar voted to give Social Security benefits to illegal aliens.
13. 2010 – Lugar voted against auditing the Federal Reserve.
14. 2008 – Lugar voted to bail out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
15. 2008 – Lugar voted for TARP
16. 2008 – Lugar voted against ending earmarks.
17. 2009 – Lugar voted to bail out the car companies.
18. 2009 – Voted against returning 350 billion in unused TARP money to the Treasury.
19. 2010 – Lugar Voted for the Dream Act illegal alien amnesty bill.
20. 2010 – Voted for the START unilateral disarmament Treaty.
Honorable Mention
In 1993 Lugar sponsored a universal health care bill with an unconstitutional individual mandate.
In 2009 he was one of the deciding votes against concealed carry reciprocity for Indiana license holders.
Also in 2009 he voted to continue the total ban on handguns in Washington DC.
Lugar voted for over three trillion dollars in deficit spending under Bush
5243  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Tax Policy: Alan Reynolds - Rasising Tax Rates Excessively is Counterproductive on: May 08, 2012, 06:45:26 PM
Oops, posted a tax policy piece today on political economics. Maybe it was an excuse to get it out there twice.  Maybe hard to follow, but it is VERY IMPORTANT to know the answer to this question ifyou plan toraise taxes on the rich: How much will they adjust their income to the new circumstance? Does revenue go up? By how much?

Where he points out the other economists are misguided on elasticity, they are wrong in his estimation by up to a factor of 10.  From as low as 0.2 versus as high as 1.99!  If we cannot narrow it closer than that or agree one side is wrong, Economics is hardly a science.
Alan Reynolds: Rasising Tax Rates Excessively is Counterproductive

Economist Alan Reynolds is always worth the read IMO, challenging politicians, and economists who ignore elasticity.  It reminds me of the arguments made to raise minimum wage a dollar. It there is no ill effect, why not raise it $20 or $50.  If 50% or 70% tax rates have no ill effect, why not go to 100%?  Those who project no revenue loss are using the wrong elasticity multiplier, Reynolds argues.

Of Course 70% Tax Rates Are Counterproductive
Some scholars argue that top rates can be raised drastically with no loss of revenue. Their arguments are flawed.


President Obama and others are demanding that we raise taxes on the "rich," and two recent academic papers that have gotten a lot of attention claim to show that there will be no ill effects if we do.

The first paper, by Peter Diamond of MIT and Emmanuel Saez of the University of California, Berkeley, appeared in the Journal of Economic Perspectives last August. The second, by Mr. Saez, along with Thomas Piketty of the Paris School of Economics and Stefanie Stantcheva of MIT, was published by the National Bureau of Economic Research three months later. Both suggested that federal tax revenues would not decline even if the rate on the top 1% of earners were raised to 73%-83%.

Can the apex of the Laffer Curve—which shows that the revenue-maximizing tax rate is not the highest possible tax rate—really be that high?

The authors arrive at their conclusion through an unusual calculation of the "elasticity" (responsiveness) of taxable income to changes in marginal tax rates. According to a formula devised by Mr. Saez, if the elasticity is 1.0, the revenue-maximizing top tax rate would be 40% including state and Medicare taxes. That means the elasticity of taxable income (ETI) would have to be an unbelievably low 0.2 to 0.25 if the revenue-maximizing top tax rates were 73%-83% for the top 1%. The authors of both papers reach this conclusion with creative, if wholly unpersuasive, statistical arguments.

Most of the older elasticity estimates are for all taxpayers, regardless of income. Thus a recent survey of 30 studies by the Canadian Department of Finance found that "The central ETI estimate in the international empirical literature is about 0.40."

But the ETI for all taxpayers is going to be lower than for higher-income earners, simply because people with modest incomes and modest taxes are not willing or able to vary their income much in response to small tax changes. So the real question is the ETI of the top 1%.

Harvard's Raj Chetty observed in 2009 that "The empirical literature on the taxable income elasticity has generally found that elasticities are large (0.5 to 1.5) for individuals in the top percentile of the income distribution." In that same year, Treasury Department economist Bradley Heim estimated that the ETI is 1.2 for incomes above $500,000 (the top 1% today starts around $350,000).

A 2010 study by Anthony Atkinson (Oxford) and Andrew Leigh (Australian National University) about changes in tax rates on the top 1% in five Anglo-Saxon countries came up with an ETI of 1.2 to 1.6. In a 2000 book edited by University of Michigan economist Joel Slemrod ("Does Atlas Shrug?"), Robert A. Moffitt (Johns Hopkins) and Mark Wilhelm (Indiana) estimated an elasticity of 1.76 to 1.99 for gross income. And at the bottom of the range, Mr. Saez in 2004 estimated an elasticity of 0.62 for gross income for the top 1%.

A midpoint between the estimates would be an elasticity for gross income of 1.3 for the top 1%, and presumably an even higher elasticity for taxable income (since taxpayers can claim larger deductions if tax rates go up.)

But let's stick with an ETI of 1.3 for the top 1%. This implies that the revenue-maximizing top marginal rate would be 33.9% for all taxes, and below 27% for the federal income tax.

To avoid reaching that conclusion, Messrs. Diamond and Saez's 2011 paper ignores all studies of elasticity among the top 1%, and instead chooses a midpoint of 0.25 between one uniquely low estimate of 0.12 for gross income among all taxpayers (from a 2004 study by Mr. Saez and Jonathan Gruber of MIT) and the 0.40 ETI norm from 30 other studies.

That made-up estimate of 0.25 is the sole basis for the claim by Messrs. Diamond and Saez in their 2011 paper that tax rates could reach 73% without losing revenue.

The Saez-Piketty-Stantcheva paper does not confound a lowball estimate for all taxpayers with a midpoint estimate for the top 1%. On the contrary, the authors say that "the long-run total elasticity of top incomes with respect to the net-of-tax rate is large."

Nevertheless, to cut this "large" elasticity down, the authors begin by combining the U.S. with 17 other affluent economies, telling us that elasticity estimates for top incomes are lower for Europe and Japan. The resulting mélange—an 18-country "overall elasticity of around 0.5"—has zero relevance to U.S. tax policy.

Still, it is twice as large as the ETI of Messrs. Diamond and Saez, so the three authors appear compelled to further pare their 0.5 estimate down to 0.2 in order to predict a "socially optimal" top tax rate of 83%. Using "admittedly only suggestive" evidence, they assert that only 0.2 of their 0.5 ETI can be attributed to real supply-side responses to changes in tax rates.

The other three-fifths of ETI can just be ignored, according to Messrs. Saez and Piketty, and Ms. Stantcheva, because it is the result of, among other factors, easily-plugged tax loopholes resulting from lower rates on corporations and capital gains.

Plugging these so-called loopholes, they say, requires "aligning the tax rates on realized capital gains with those on ordinary income" and enacting "neutrality in the effective tax rates across organizational forms." In plain English: Tax rates on U.S. corporate profits, dividends and capital gains must also be 83%.

This raises another question: At that level, would there be any profits, capital gains or top incomes left to tax?

"The optimal top tax," the three authors also say, "actually goes to 100% if the real supply-side elasticity is very small." If anyone still imagines the proposed "socially optimal" tax rates of 73%-83% on the top 1% would raise revenues and have no effect on economic growth, what about that 100% rate?

Mr. Reynolds is a senior fellow with the Cato Institute and the author of "Income and Wealth" (Greenwood Press, 2006).
5244  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Bin Laden dead - The Panetta Memo on: May 08, 2012, 06:34:17 PM
Time magazine broke this without fanfare in late April; I can't find it on their site.  The Blaze is all over it.  Holder's predecessor Mukasey calls it a highly lawyered document designed to put blame back on the Navy Admiral if the mission failed:

The White House denies that.  Anyone here have an opinion?

5245  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Bin Laden dead on: May 08, 2012, 05:30:32 PM
CCP: "
There is no rational logic to the concept that water boarding three people with no permanent harm is some such incredible crime against humanity yet sending robots (drones) out to assasinate alleged combatants/enemies and kill them like that is humane and ethically ok.  Don't get me wrong - I am not against either - just the illogic of one is so totallly outrageous and immoral and the other is morrally justified and within international law."..."I wonder what the outrage would be if W was still ordering all these drones ..."

This is really well put.  I'm not for torture but torture to the guy who beheaded WSJ reporter Daniel Pearl in his bare hands on camera would be to gouge out his eyeballs and chop off his limbs one by one, not sleep deprivation or water tricks.  He is fully intact and ready to be belligerent in the courtroom of his fair trial.

Also as you say, can you imagine the uproar from the left if the drone hits were still Bush's!  Those drone attacks escalated under Obama.  Assuming we are acting on good intelligence, the policy of continuing those cross border hits was a far more controversial and courageous decision (IMHO) by a peace prize winning President than authorizing a one-time, high-profile hit on Osama, which appeared to be quite a no brainer.
5246  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The United Nations/ US Sovereignty/International Law on: May 08, 2012, 02:45:09 PM
Besides the Black Hills it seems to me that the UN HQ is also on 'tribal lands'.

I hope everyone has their title insurance in place as we turn over our sovereignty to a global authority for review and distribution.
5247  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re. Bin Laden dead: Did harsh interragation lead to the kill? on: May 08, 2012, 02:06:50 PM
CCP,   I agree except that I don't remember if Republicans made big on that operational failure or if people mostly just took that as having had enough with a policy of dealing with the world from a position of weakness. To me it was not that it failed, but that the failure was a symbol of our weakness. 

The alternative side (Reagan) was saying we will arm and grow in order to deal with our adversaries, including those a lot stronger than Iran, from a position of strength.

There are some people including Senators Dianne Feinstein and Carl Levin: saying we already had the courier information through other means.

Former Attorney General Michael Mukasey, Eric Holder's predecessor:  "That is a half-truth peculiarly designed to irritate anybody who knows the other half."

"Yes, the CIA knew about the name before it was disclosed by Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. However, that information lay unexploited because it came from an insignificant source. When it came from Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, after he was subjected to harsh interrogation techniques, they followed it up and found that this guy was still active. They then went back to Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who by then had his wits about him, and asked him again about this guy, and he said, "Oh, he's been out of it for some time." That was a lie. They knew it was a lie. And because he had lied about it, that enhanced even more the significance of the information. So the information didn't become significant until they learned about it from him and its significance was increased by the fact that he lied about it. They learned about it after enhanced interrogation techniques."
5248  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential - Joe Biden, the Gaffe machine on: May 08, 2012, 01:38:17 PM
They let him on Meet the Press and he calls Romney 'President Romney', Obama 'President Clinton' and opens the door on gay marriage to a media circus ahead of any announced policy change.  Meanwhile, they leave him out of the highest campaign planning meetings.

This one was an innocent slip up (or two or three), but I especially like the way he slows down and repeats for emphasis his false facts as he did several times in his debate against Sarah Palin.

In January of this year he told the San Francisco 49er fans: “the Giants are on their way to the Super Bowl.”

Anybody remember FDR reassuring us on television in 1929 after the stock market crash...

At a 'stump' speech in 2008 Biden told wheelchair bound State Senator to stand up and be honored. 
"Stand up Chuck, We wanna see ya."

Dunkin Donuts?

"The first mainstream African American who is articulate, bright and clean... that's a storybook, man." 
5249  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Bin Laden dead / Israeli Ugfandan rescue on: May 08, 2012, 11:21:18 AM
Amazing story Bigdog!  Video link:

3 hostages died in crossfire, still that is how you negotiate with terrorists.

One Commando was killed, the commander of the unit, Yonathon Netanyahu.
5250  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Europe: Austerity caused double dip recession, or austerity was not tried? on: May 08, 2012, 10:51:49 AM
The stalled economy of Europe is 50% government.  If larger and larger government could cause economic growth, European countries would be swimming in it.
"Austerity? Spending has boomed in the EU over the last decade. During the 2000s, EU member nations collectively boosted government outlays by 62%. Average government spending by EU nations today stands at about 49.2% of GDP — vs. 44.8% in 2000."

"National budgets are NOT decreasing their spending, they are increasing it," the EU says, noting that in 2011, 23 of the 27 nations in the EU increased spending. This year, 24 of 27 will do so.

Did that decade-long spending increase boost GDP growth? No. During the 2000s, average annual GDP growth in the EU fell to 1.2% from 2.2% in the 1990s.
1.2% growth for a decade!?  - Or what our President might call a model for our economy going 'forward'.
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