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5201  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 2012 Presidential: (former) Gov. Tim Pawlenty R-MN. 2nd tier candidate series on: January 13, 2011, 05:06:12 PM
Posting about Tim Pawlenty on the assumption that all of the 1st tier candidates are defective, including Obama. Romney - Health care, Newt - personal past, Palin - being Palin, Huckabee - longer story but I don't favor him.

Also on the assumption that we need someone with executive experience of some meaning, we don't have a governor from NY or Calif available, Texas - don't know. Takes us into the middle size states for some level of relevant executive experience.  Carter was from Georgia, Clinton Arkansas, Dukakis - Mass, etc.

Tim Pawlenty won in Dem state twice, even in the storm of 2006.  Governed with good popularity without selling out conservatism too badly.  Handled a few challenges like closing budget gaps without raising taxes and catastrophe of the bridge collapse.  Was a minority leader of the state House prior to Gov.  Mentioned here for underwhelming people, but again making the rounds where he has quite a bit of experience and is gaining familiarity.  Likable, common sense guy, sticks to his principles, very non-threatening to moderates and independents. Not a Martin Luther King of orators, but his political savvy and skills are very good and easily underrated.  Kind of the opposite of the vocal right that is so hated but without a major distinction in policies. Less polarizing.  Pawlenty was probably McCain's correct choice and adviser's first choice.  May very well be VP choice in '12 if he never comes up from 2nd tier for top of the ticket.

January 12, 2011
In Book, Pawlenty Touts Achievements, Humility
By Scott Conroy and Erin McPike

Unlike the recent works published by his potential competitors for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, Tim Pawlenty's "Courage to Stand" is notable for its overt humility and avoidance of sweeping statements that might be perceived as hyperbolic.

The former Minnesota governor's attempt at a pre-presidential campaign tome is similar to those penned by former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin in that it is part biography, part vindication of his own political record, and part policy prescription for America's future. But he spills more ink describing specific examples of his leadership as chief executive of his state while taking a more humble approach.

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Scott Conroy and Erin McPike    RealClearPolitics
election 2012   President Obama
Sarah Palin   Mitt Romney
Tim Pawlenty
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It's not that Pawlenty is particularly shy about touting his accomplishments. It is instead a matter of tone. As the low-key Minnesotan puts it on page 97, "Because of human frailty, it's important that leaders avoid the temptation to be self-righteous. Confidence and strength are one thing; a false notion of personal perfection is another."

Pawlenty has been positioning himself as the "anti-Romney" in the nascent race by touting his blue-collar background as the son of a businessman in contrast to the wealth and privilege that Romney was born into, and that theme shines through in "Courage to Stand."

Although the author repeatedly touts his social and economic conservative bona fides, it is Pawlenty's accommodation and humility that permeates the book. "Today, two lightning-rod issues associated with social policy are abortion and gay marriage," Pawlenty writes. "I'm pro-life and in favor of traditional marriage, but when I talk about these issues, I watch my tone."

And in a sentence that could be perceived as a not-so-subtle jab at the tenor of Romney's book, "No Apology", Pawlenty writes, "Sometimes an apology is itself a sign of strength."

But at least as pronounced as the contrasts with Romney's work are the differences between Pawlenty's book and Palin's 2009 No. 1 bestseller, "Going Rogue."

While Palin writes about her triumphant exploits as a starting guard on her state championship high school basketball team, Pawlenty seems unashamed to note that he never made it past the junior varsity level in hockey - yet he still exudes passion for the sport.

While Palin's book portrays a take-no-prisoners approach to politics, in which the former small-town mayor takes on the old bulls to defeat an incumbent Republican for the governorship, Pawlenty writes about how his career ambition was to become a dentist when he enrolled at the University of Minnesota. Later on, he opted not to run for the Senate race he intended to pursue in 2002 after getting a phone call from Vice President Cheney asking him to defer to Norm Coleman for the good of the GOP.

"Going Rogue" is replete with rampant score settling with former staff members and political adversaries, whom Palin almost portrays as modern-day Dickensian villains, while "Courage to Stand" has scarcely a negative word about anyone and praises Democrats ranging from Bill Clinton to John Mellencamp.

It's clear that Pawlenty strives to be perceived as genuine and relatable, and he would rather accept being labeled "boring" than risk becoming polarizing or accused of political posturing.

Perhaps more important is that the 50-year-old provides dozens of specific examples from his government experience thus far to cast himself as ready for the next office - and that will be a major theme in his likely presidential campaign in contrast to some of the front-runners, like Palin and Romney.

Romney's first book, "Turnaround" - published in 2004 - is a 384-page case study about his leadership of the Salt Lake City Olympics. He presents his many challenges and how he approached them, the national security aspect of the event and the funding and budgeting associated with the Olympics. A six-page epilogue discusses his ascension to the Massachusetts governorship. His second book in 2010 is devoted mostly to his national platform and largely glosses over his record in his one term as governor, as he chooses instead to sharply critique President Obama's performance.

Pawlenty's book, by contrast, pulls out a few examples of record-setting tax cuts and how he achieved them, as well as his handling of a nine-day government shutdown over a budget battle in 2005.

He also discusses his trade missions to China, which could prove to be a critical issue in 2012 - particularly with the likes of Romney and Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels potentially in the race.

And in a three-page passage deep into the part of the book that delves into his gubernatorial record, Palwenty walks through how he navigated a $1.6 billion deal with Essar Steel, a major corporation based in India that hoped to develop a manufacturing plant in Minnesota's Iron Range. Upon learning that the company was doing business with a plant in Iran, Pawlenty forced a choice on the company, showing how he prioritizes security matters with economic development and how he may approach diplomacy.

There's also a chapter devoted to the collapse of the I-35W bridge in Minneapolis and his response to the tragedy. Pawlenty takes the time to point out that a Democrat in the state called one of his staffers during the first few hours of emergency response to say how he was going to use the disaster to denigrate the governor. Pawlenty, who refuses to name the Democrat "because what he did was so awful," calls it "one of the most disgusting examples of low politicking I've seen in my entire career."

He even exposes his doubts about running for a second term and his decision to ignore the advice of political consultants about going negative toward the end of his re-election race. And he artfully handles how his education in "Minnesota Nice" crept into his line of work.

But can Pawlenty's nice-guy Midwesterner image work in today's hot-button political culture? In an appearance on "The View" on Tuesday, Pawlenty turned to the most frequently referenced conservative president of the modern era to make his case.

"People shouldn't confuse being nice or thoughtful or civil with being strong," Pawlenty said before dropping Ronald Reagan's name. "He had strong views, but he presented himself in a civil, thoughtful, decent, kind manner. There were almost no instances where Ronald Reagan yelled, screamed, judged, condemned."
5202  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Politics: The New Congress is from the Heartland on: January 13, 2011, 04:40:52 PM
This piece makes an and powerful observation about the shift in congress.  Not just ideology, but geography of influence is changing.  The more urban group's power is diminishing, Nancy Pelosi from San Fran, Charlie Rangel from Harlem, Ellison of North Minneapolis, John Conyers of Detroit, Waxman from L.A., Barney Frank - Boston.  Coming into greater power are people from further out in America's heartland, like suburban Cincinnatti, Richmond, Bakersfield, Twin Cities' suburbs, Janesville, etc.  A Harvard ecucated lawyer from Madison out, a businessman from Osh Kosh in.

The heartland Rises
5203  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Citizens defend themselves/others. on: January 12, 2011, 12:09:35 PM
P.C. wrote: " Sounds to me like the Sheriff wasn't very proactive in heading this guy off, he could have on a number of contacts with Jared, had him held for a 72 hour mental evaluation under AZ law."

I was carefully trying to think of what in gun law could or should have stopped this pyscho's purchase without destroying everyone else's rights.  But first you would have to mark this sick man with a searchable record of what he had become.  A background check wouldn't pick anything up if his friends, family, teachers and even the sheriff all had looked the other way.

I drove a bipolar woman against her will to the emergency room during an episode.  She thought she was going to see her doctor, but he had said to take her to the emergency room.  The doctor there heard and ignored my concerns, declared her no threat, prescribed her a narcotic and she was back in the same emergency room the next day this time with the 72 hour hold followed with criminal charges for killing someone with her car.  For about 3/4 of a second I gave that same doctor an icy stare I think he will remember. 

A slippery slope but somewhere we need to look into what your rights are or are not, as people around you see your grip on reality deteriorating.
5204  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Housing/Mortgage/Real Estate on: January 11, 2011, 11:21:38 PM
"anxiety about falling home prices is based on (1) limited sample... (2) confusing home prices with homebuilding, (3) forgetting that lower prices are as beneficial to buyers as they are harmful to sellers and (4) grossly exaggerating the importance of housing."

"the $6.4 trillion of home equity in the third quarter was only 11.9% of estimated household wealth, which was $54.9 trillion. The Journal's reference to "$12.2 trillion in stocks and mutual fund shares" leaves out retirement accounts, bonds, rental property, farmland, precious metals and family-owned businesses, among other things."

-Alan Reynolds cuts through the noise nicely.  It's too bad that reported economic data are so often full of flaws.  If we fix the employment and income situation, housing will take care of itself.  Foreclosures now have to do with jobs and income, not valuations IMO.
5205  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: January 11, 2011, 03:05:20 PM
The shooter was a registered independent who didn't bother to vote in 2010 (and Giffords opponent was a tea partier!), hardly following the right wing in lock-step.  His grudge with Giffords was that she blew off his question a few years ago: 'What is government if words have no meaning?'.  His friend says he said back to him, 'Dude, no one's going to answer that,'

Inspiration for the shooting? Friend says: "I think the reason he did it was mainly to just promote chaos. He wanted the media to freak out about this whole thing. He wanted exactly what's happening. He wants all of that." Tierney (the friend) thinks that Loughner's mindset was like the Joker in the most recent Batman movie: "He wants to watch the world burn."

Blaming right wing radio or politicians is strange considering he didn't vote and more interested in drugs and video games that in Palin or Limbaugh or anyone else.  Can't speak for the psycho-blockhead but I know my anger at government and Washington is exactly the same if I listen to Rush L or CBS News, Air America or All Things Considered.  CCP nailed it, the anger inside comes from what the opposition is doing not from what the host is saying. You listen because it resonates.  My radio has been off for months and my anger is the same. The most effective parts of all those shows are when they play politicians, especially opponents, in their own words, in full context.  Horrible time to blame a victim, but another idea is stop encroaching on liberties and negligently running our country if you want less anger in the country.  Everybody who was awake last Nov. saw that anger and revulsion reached the majority, not just psychos and 'paid entertainers'.  The well meaning congresswoman knew, from her own interviews, that healthcare 'reform' was the biggest invasion of our privacy in our country's history.  

The DLC had targets on their map back when Palin was still registered as a Wasilla housewife with the FEC.  They should be accusing her of trademark infringement, not murder incitement.

Again, the CAUSE of the shooting is found inside this psycho's brain.  This was obvious when he kept shooting after hitting the target of his obsession, if not sooner.  He rode a cab to the event (Does one way cash fare sound familiar?) because (IMO) this was a suicide killing.  He expected to be shot after a few of his shots and no one showed up with a gun until after his jammed and was wrestled away.

Excellent insight of P.C.: the calm responsible decision making of the concealed carry holder (see 'armed citizen' post) was quite impressive. An innocent man who had gotten to the murder weapon could easily have been shot in the chaos of the moment.

5206  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: January 10, 2011, 03:55:23 PM
BD, Thanks for the reminder/clarification on the theater exception.  You still may get out better if the people closest to the exits would calmly whisper why they are leaving and to pass it on.  smiley  We just removed more than 63 congress people without shooting, so the violence message here is also false.  Especially false to claim validity to murdering a young girl.  

GM,  I thought of that and fear an overreaction too.  I will reconsider my proposals as this unfolds. I write with the confidence of knowing no one ever takes my advice and I assume there already are plenty of laws.  If you aim and wrongfully kill it is murder. If you advocate killing a federal judge, from a position of authority, pretending to represent God and church, then that is a crime or could be construed that way if it in fact happens(?)  But shooting into a crowd and killing any and all until you run out of ammunition is terror, and we are fighting terror on many fronts.  We decided to fight it pre-emptively because there is no effective alternative.  Cheering on a senseless acts of terror and openly and seriously encouraging more of it is not religion or protected free speech (from this armchair amateur untrained jurist).  It is not synonymous or analogous to expressing strong views on issues or using war or death analogies in sports or political competitions or in humor or casual speech.  I may not trust our government to draw the line, but there is a line.  Hiding behind a church or a Mosque is what our enemies do.  I have visited many churches and this is not what they teach or how they attained a protected status in this country.
5207  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Gender, Gay, Lesbian on: January 10, 2011, 01:32:43 PM
One of my 'moderate' friends always brings up gay marriage as the example to explain why he hates things the 'far right', the 'right wing' and 'Christian conservatives, though he is basically a conservative.  He asks, how does gay marriage hurt his marriage, which is a pretty good question. 

I have a few new friends through sports who are supposedly gay and we have thankfully not yet discussed preferences or politics. 

The Tea Party Republican Senate candidate of Colorado had some weird view that gayness doesn't really exist or that these people can be retrained.  People knew that was nonsense and it probably kept him out of a very winnable, crucial seat.

To my gay friends and  all the others out there, you deserve all the rights of liberty and pursuit of happiness of anyone else.  Westboro pretend church is wrong, God doesn't hate gays.  Ken Buck is wrong.  God created a predominantly hetero society with a minority of people with a gay orientation.  Whether atheist or Jew/Muslim/Christian, it is an observable fact of human existence. 

Procreation comes from heterosexual bonding, that is the norm and that is the survival of the species. That goes best for children,family and society when we strive for a lifelong bond.  Some of us haven't married yet.  Some never will. Some did and it didn't work out.  A few are attracted to the same sex.  If it is private and consensual, then it is your right to pursue happiness.  Not so for attraction to children, animals or corpses because of the consent issue.  We draw lines of morality and behavior hopefully for good reasons.

Everyone should be able to designate their sister, brother, neighbor or gay lover to inherit or handle their affairs if/when they are unable, if they don't have a spouse.

The problem arises when this gift or right of liberty for all or for some starts to take away something else of value and chipping away at our language, our meanings and the positive traditions of our society is a sign.  When we can't recognize that a child has its best shot at life with a married, loving mother and father (gender terms used intentionally) all living under one roof (and I say that as a single father raising a teenage daughter).  When we start muddying up or banning the terms man and woman, husband and wife, mother and father, intact family or the concepts of marriage and of parentage, then we have gone too far.
5208  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: January 10, 2011, 12:48:56 PM
Prentice, Excellent story regarding the armed tackler. Tragic that someone prepared like him wasn't standing closer when it happened. 

Bigdog: Like hollering Fire in a crowded church, that group deserves no protection for that behavior IMO.  I hope  intent to incite criminal violence and terror acts like this is a crime.  If not I would start by revoking their tax exempt property status.  Then they can spend their time, like the rest of us, having to work to pay property taxes, before they travel to celebrate brutal acts of terror and carnage.

Whatever law enforcement tools we want to come down hard on extreme Islamic organizations supporting terrorism, same should apply to these religious phonies.  They were an annoyance and an embarrassment when they celebrated the deaths of our heroes killed overseas.  But this is direct support of criminal and terror acts IMO right here at home and Guantanamo might be a better setting for their protest.

If political view is the question (it isn't), both the fake church and the screwed up activist sound more to me like the Reverend Wright's "God Damn America" and "America's Chickens...have come home to Roost!" than it sounds like anything I heard in a tea party speech or Christian sermon: 'Peace be with you'.

GM: "showing signs of serious mental illness". I too would look mostly at the 5 inches between his ears for what went wrong, not the political movement or obsession of the moment.
5209  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tax Policy on: January 10, 2011, 01:33:55 AM
"[Pres. Obama] called Gibbs' salary at 172,000 a year modest, yet he set 200,000 a year as a single filer as being "rich". Where is his line?"

Maybe 172k or 200 is not rich if the cost of living is high around DC and if that type of job requires maintaining a nice home in two places, etc. Same goes for other people and other circumstances.   If he acknowledges that regional and circumstantial differences mean that any federal progressive or punitive scheme will not fit all evenly or fairly, the only remedy with fairness is to tax every dollar of income the same no matter who legally earned it, how or where.

The serious answer to the above BTW is that you are rich after you have accumulated enough to pay for everything you and your family will ever need without having to sell off your assets.  That is an unknowable number and certainly none of anyone else's business.  Nor is it a crime or a sin or a behavior that hurts others unless you did something wrong to earn it.
5210  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / US State Dept. says: “The words in the old form were ‘mother’ and ‘father’ ” on: January 10, 2011, 12:51:41 AM

"Parent One, Parent Two to replace references to mother, father on passport forms."

  - I still don't think this will 'recognize' all the 'different types of families'.  Is anyone really ready to designate themselves as Mommy Two?  Sounds like a first alternate in case the first string mommy is not available. 

“We find that with changes in medical science and reproductive technology that we are confronting situations now that we would not have anticipated 10 or 15 years ago” - Brenda Sprague, deputy assistant Secretary of State for Passport Services.

  - No. Males are not impregnating males and females are not impregnating females. Are they?  Plumbing and electrical supply stores understand gender distinctions better than our all-knowing, all-caring government.

“Changing the term mother and father to the more global term of parent allows many different types of families to be able to go and apply for a passport for their child without feeling like the government doesn’t recognize their family,” said Jennifer Chrisler, executive director of Family Equality Council.

  - Why are we so narrow and judgmental to limit the relationship to a child with up to two parents?  Is this some outdated, animal/species tradition we are arbitrarily protecting?  What if 3 or more or an entire community want to adopt a child (it takes a village) and there is no form to accommodate them.  Not even a box to check and say 'additional parents listed on the attached pages? Discrimination!  And the child gets stigmatized for not having a place to designate Parent Seventy seven like he/she is not a parent at all.   If this is about medical possibilities, what about a designation for your up-line clone?  That is not a parent.  I try to be facetious but they probably have the rest of these possibilities already written for next year's form.

Are we still tracking gender of the applicant?  Why? With only two choices?  In 2011??  With medical 'advances' are there not more than two gender possibilities?  Aren't 'stigmatizing' in-betweeners and gender neutral people?

We have so far to go to ever become truly inclusive, but getting away from sexist terms like of mom and dad is quite a start.
5211  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: January 09, 2011, 11:41:25 AM
To the previous post here, 27 shots into the Governor? The last 26 sound like sending a message to whoever wants to try being sane and rational next.  And we ask why more moderate Muslims don't stand up and step forward.
"In Pakistan, the Zardari government is likely to fall in 2011."

This piece, Warcast 2011, could go under Geopolitics but has interesting insights on Pak-Afghan and our involvement.  I will excerpt that here and read it all if you want.  Also interesting regarding Iraq, Israel and Iran. Read it all if you if you like the excerpt.  I don't agree or disagree, just taking it in.
In Afghanistan, we will see the largest yearly number of American and coalition casualties since the war there began in 2001. Our military operations will be accelerated, bigger and more far-reaching this year because President Obama may still draw down the surge of troops into Afghanistan this summer. (the news this week of an additional 1400 combat troops being sent in will proves the acceleration). The biggest question is whether the Karzai government - increasingly uncooperative with our military operations - seeks to assert greater control over those operations.

Vice President Biden's declaration that we will be out of Afghanistan "come hell or high water" in 2014 raises the likelihood of open conflict between Karzai and Afghanistan commander Gen. David Petraeus to a near-certainty. Petraeus is frustrated at the lack of progress in establishing local government operations where military operations have temporarily cleared areas of the Taliban. Karzai - looking ahead three years - will be less cooperative as the year goes on. Karzai's 70-member "high peace council" will be meeting with Pakistani representatives in talks designed to reach an accommodation with the Taliban. Those talks will not produce a peace agreement, but pressure by Karzai on Petraeus to reduce military strikes to incent the Taliban to talk peace will result in greater tensions.

In neighboring Pakistan, the Zardari government is likely to fall in 2011. As recently as this past weekend, the second largest party in the Pakistani coalition government - the Muttahida Qaumi Movement - quit the government and joined the opposition. Corruption, rising inflation and the government's poor performance during the 2010 floods have combined to weaken the Zardari government to the point that a military coup - or a parliamentary move to "temporarily" replace Zardari with a military strongman -- is more likely than not.

Gen. Pervez Musharraf would like to return to power, but more likely is the ascendance Gen. Ashfaq Kayani. Gen. Kayani, commander of the Pakistani military, plays a closely-held poker hand. He often chooses to turn a blind eye to American military strikes at terrorists in the Pakistani northern tribal regions, but he is keeping his options open in all directions.

The black swan hovering over Southwest Asia is what Kayani would do if he were to replace Zardari. Kayani, according to Pakistani media, quietly thwarted American aid legislation designed to ensure civilian control over Pakistan's military. Kayani, like Karzai, is making his own plans based on the Obama administration's plan to withdraw from Afghanistan no later than 2014. At that point, the Taliban will be neither defeated nor sufficiently disrupted to no longer be a threat to Pakistan. If he takes power, Kayani will move to force al-Qaeda and the Taliban back into Afghanistan and attempt to contain them there. His cooperation with American military operations will be sporadic, aimed only at that containment. ...
(author Jed Babbin served as a Deputy Undersecretary of Defense under George H.W. Bush)
5212  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: How to cut government spending on: January 09, 2011, 11:01:27 AM
Great list Ragsbo, great post!  My favorite:

"Kick the UN out of the USA and use that real estate for something useful."

Personally, I would scale it back instead, pay one share not the lion's share, offer them Peoria not NY, let countries bring about 3 people each, no UN staff, let them meet and pass all the non-binding resolutions they want while we turn more to OECD or an association of democracies to work on larger issues.

The full cost of UN incompetence, over-reach and counter-productivity is hard to measure. The facade of the UN resolutions Saddam accepted in 1991 caused the war we are still fighting IMO.  Now they seek carbon regulation and world taxes.
5213  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: How to cut government spending on: January 08, 2011, 06:12:18 PM
Morris has it right.  I like the 3 month idea, if not 30 days.  Keep the heat on until something meaningful happens.  Don't need to raise the debt limit much if the budget gets balanced.

BTW, may I suggest for the category: 'Hot to gut government spending'.  It is not something superficial needed or a little trim job when we are bleeding a trillion dollars every 7 months now.  Redefine entitlements and put zero based budgeting on everything.  Justify every dollar, sunset it and start again from zero justifying again.  Increased spending on interest means decreased funds for something else.  Hold hearings on unintended consequences and negative behavioral affects of our social policies and put those on hold that have serious issues, which should be most of it.

Within the 3 months we should have a new, simple, lower, wider, flatter, fairer tax code passed through at least one house to match spending cuts as the way to stimulate the economic growth we so badly need.
5214  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: January 08, 2011, 05:55:52 PM
6 dead including a 9 year old girl, 18 injured, short range in a crowd.  Should not need DNA or expert testimony, nor should his reasons matter.  I would like to see him tried and hanged by sundown before others can copy.  Whatever his motive or message is, this should not earn him a soapbox to tell it.

We (who survive) will live our lives in and out of metal detectors and cameras with emptied water bottles because of nutjobs like this one.
5215  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government programs & regulations, spending, budget process on: January 08, 2011, 12:40:25 PM
"Property tax is a direct assault on liberty. Liberty is at stake when you have to pay rent(property tax) to the government." (Freki)

"The idea that someone cannot hunker down outside of the money economy is disconcerting" (CD)

 - Very interesting.. If there was once a right to be left alone it sure has passed us by.

The focus now I think has to be just lower spending, lower taxes can follow.  Far fewer and more effective programs.  Get back to the basics.
5216  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics: Illegals voting on: January 07, 2011, 05:42:54 PM
Prentice,  Illegals voting is outrageous.  So is having the Census count them as residents for representation.  Go one step further: The safe havens that attract and protect them but don't let them vote receive disproportionate representation for themselves.
5217  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics: Pardons on: January 07, 2011, 05:25:07 PM
BD, Nice post on pardons.  Seems unfair but I still like the concept that there is some avenue available to right a wrong.  The worst I think are the last day or lame duck pardons especially with the perception they were about selling influence rather than administering justice.  Framers did not envision a Lincoln Bedroom or that the power could be transferred to the First Lady's brother. Ford pardoning Nixon made sense that he (allegedly) believed it in the best interest of the nation, he exercised a recognized power, and then the voters  exercised theirs - out he went.

Note that the top 10 list did not include 'Reagan's grant' of conditional temporary resident status because the IRCA 1986 was an act of congress, signed by Reagan, not a Presidential pardon:  Interesting footnote was that Sen. Kennedy voted against the 1986 law because (I would guess) that the conditions were unacceptably restrictive.
5218  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government spending, budget process: Texas on: January 07, 2011, 04:34:03 PM
Please correct me if I am wrong, but lost in this discussion is that Texas has NO INCOME TAX.
And that compares HOW with California, NY or my home state??

If Texas added a 1% income tax, the top rate in Calif. would still be roughly 1000% higher.

Regarding Krugman, what a bunch of BS to compare budget struggles and leave that small fact out!

I happen to believe income tax is the best tax (if low, flat, simple and fair) because that is where the money is.  Unfortunately once you open that door, endless escalation and abuse of it is your future.

Property taxes don't come with a source of money to pay them so eventually they take your property unless you have an enduring source of - income.  Still it sounds like property taxes aren't much worse in Texas than California where by contrast they collect $54 Billion off the personal income tax alone (2008).  Calif had Prop 13, the beginning of tax revolt, but I don't know where that stands now.

"Estimated at 10.5% of income, California's state/local tax burden percentage stands at 6th highest national
"California's 2011 Business Tax Climate Ranks 49th "

Besides leaving no state income tax out of a state budget comparison, Nobel Laureate Prof. Krugman suddenly drops California (at 12%) out of his comparison when he refers to Texas' below average unemployment rate as being no big deal. 

I would not buy a used car from this man.
5219  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tax Policy on: January 07, 2011, 04:07:03 PM
Will raising taxes billionaires satisfy them?

No, it won't and satisfying opponents shouldn't be the goal.  Don't pass anything that hurts the economy, hurts employment or moves us anywhere in the wrong direction.

Tax the rich, means tax the rich first, then call the rest of us rich.  Their goal as I see it is big, intrusive government, and that will require collecting revenues from every imaginable direction.

Very funny that the President called Gibbs salary 'modest' at 3 1/2 times the median.  He means modest for someone nearly as brilliant as himself, but it is a rare acknowledgment that merit plays a valid role in compensation.
5220  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: January 07, 2011, 11:22:57 AM
I guess it is leadership and persuasion skills.  It took amazing organizational skills to even get these really long bills written by staffers well enough to be acceptable to her majority caucus and to the negotiators from the senate to pass health care, financial regulations, cap/trade, etc. etc. in such a short time.  The ability to have skilled and motivated staffers working around the clock to get these done.  The ability to know exactly what buttons to push to keep a caucus of 200+ on the same page.  We keep calling it ObamaCare but it seems like it was staffers within the Pelosi camp who got all this done.

What she did not do is bring the American people with her.  Last March I fully expected (and so did she) that the wishy washy public would gradually flow over to their side and accept another great big government monstrosity growing into our lives.  Maybe the turn of the public without any leadership against this program was the real story of last year.  If health care was the holy grail, maybe they should have gone cautious and responsible with everything else as they slid it through, rather than all-out, round-the-clock leftism.
5221  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: January 07, 2011, 11:05:40 AM
Yes, adding people to the roll can not lower costs.  CBO estimates were based on known false assumptions run various ways (including gold sales tracking for tax collections) until they kept it for a minute under a trillion.  Then they required the 'doctor fix' and other bills to continue.  Eliminating choices and competition lowers quality, not cost.  I would add in hypothetical numbers, if you tell everyone who makes between 25k to 35k that they have to make under 24k to get free health care, their share of national income is bound to decrease.

One of the socialistic theories is that if you eliminate a few percent of profit, costs drop by the same amount, hence all the non-profit hospitals.  To me that is a lack of understanding of the role of an incentive system in economics and prevents resources from flowing to their most valuable use.  The more crucial the industry, the less we utilize the strongest forces known to lower costs and increase quality and innovation. I don't know any examples of collective institutions out-performing for-profit industries.

A good friend is a cfo of a big hospital group here.  State law requires hospitals to be non-profit.  They pay themselves huge sums (IMO) to run a 'non-profit' building, then they own various 'for-profit' businesses inside the hospital such as the monopoly pharmacy on the first floor. 
5222  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Media Issues- Sports Illustrated on: January 07, 2011, 12:52:44 AM
With their more controversial issue coming soon I just wanted to compliment Sports Illustrated for getting something right last month, picking one of our little buddies from girls sports as Sportskid of the Year 2010:

Jessie has been my sports hero for about 3 years.  You have to see the photo with her family (#9) to realize how small these girls are.  If anyone of adult size had the efficiency of movement and utilization of strength she has, the power and control generated would be unimaginable.  The top men tennis pros came to town for an exhibition last year but everyone left there talking about the earlier play of the 11 year old girls. Her best friend and doubles partner was world champion at 9 and flown around the world to compete while we met Jessie at a small tournament near their hometown.  Totally humble, unaffected and into her craft, she taught herself a one-handed backhand while the others all need two. At 11 or barely 12 playing high school level she beat the top player from each of the top three schools to reach the state finals in tennis, and her best sport is hockey.  Bet on gold for team USA the first time she plays hockey in the Olympics.
5223  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: January 06, 2011, 11:25:32 PM
CCP,  If you or I agreed with her agenda I think it would be easier to see what an effective leader she was in terms of advancing and passing legislation.  I'm surprised she wanted to stay on.   Bizarre to me but I think it means she really believes in what she is doing. From my point of view the election proved they are wrong.  From her point of view, they aren't done.  She is a historic person, first woman Speaker and largely the architect of big programs that could become permanent, including national healthcare, cap and trade carbon regulation, Don'tAskDon'tTell, internet regulation, tax hikes on the wealthy, and ultimately gay marriage.  The election past was a misunderstanding.  The public is a step behind them in enlightenment and with the turnout of a Presidential election, her plane could get re-fueled so they can finish their work and lock in the programs. 

Her members support her for the shared accomplishments. They got big things done and they have no new members, tea party equivalents, to shake things up.  The returning caucus is quite a bit to the left of those of the last 4 years because the moderates from weaker Dem districts were weeded out.

From where we sit these leaders rarely seem like the brightest light.  Was Bob Dole the most influential or charismatic Republican of his time? Gerald Ford? Mitch McConnell? Denny Hastert?  For the Dems, Tip O'Neill, Jim Wright, Tom Foley?  I guess they all have behind-the-scenes-skills (see bigdog's post) and maybe they rise to the top as a compromise away from the more flamboyant and controversial personalities.
PS. Going back a couple of posts, thank you GM for the NY snow removal video.  I post some winter stories but I think readers in warmer places just think we're nuts for living here.  I needed something today from a garage that the city blocked with a wall of snow against it higher than the garage doors, now frozen as hard as rock.  I considered cutting a new doorway on the side but decided to leave it until spring.  Bloomberg is a bit of a glib one himself.  Good to see him squirm a little.  Imagine that, a snowfall of 20 inches in a northern climate - the urban leaders look so surprised.  Out in the x-urbs, people have trucks, plows, a plowing contracts or major investments in giant snowblowers.  But they also have space; you have to put the snow somewhere.
5224  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: california on: January 06, 2011, 12:39:07 PM
**California isn't broken...the state will [not default on its debt payments,is [not] addicted to spending and [does not have] a hostile business climate**

That is good news for everyone.  How did they fix it or was it all just a big misunderstanding? lol.

It seems that these expert statisticians cherry pick categories (venture capital funding, not employment, for example) and time frames (GDP rise from 1999 to 2009, not the last 2 years) to make a nice writing and present all the positive data as a percent or comparison to something else.

"...the state's unemployment rate is above the national average, but that is largely due to a bleak time for the construction industry"

Above average? That's it?? It is at 12% of the labor force!  Construction down is unique to California? Unemployment is 6.4% in Minnesota with construction stopped, 2.8% in North Dakota where energy production is legal.  I can think of other, large factors causing 'above average' unemployment in Calif.  Comparing to other states understates the problem when the nation is sick and your fever is among the worst.

Funny what words carefully chosen can do, it is also true that the Great Depression was a period of above average unemployment.
5225  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: January 06, 2011, 11:46:51 AM
"where would Iraq be today if we had not done as we did"

Nuclear armed.

They were 5-7 years away in 2002, according to ISG, not an imminent threat.

Time flies.
5226  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Privacy & Big Brother: Give me your Social Security number! on: January 05, 2011, 11:07:16 AM
If you have a speeding ticket in our state, I can already look up your birth date.  If you write me a check, I know your bank account number.  This new law could post under housing, tax policy or Glibness, but nobody cares politically about a landlord's paperwork issues, so let's turn it around the other way.  If you want to mow a lawn, shovel a walk, change a light bulb or a faucet washer for me, fine, give me your social security number.

New law effective 5 days ago (who knew?) requires a rental property owner to file a 1099 for anyone everyone that provided $600 of service in a year - that is $50/mo.  The only way to know if it will reach $600 per year is to track it from the first dollar and require a W-9 before the mower sets a wheel on the property and before the first dollar changes hands.  Part I required on the W-9: Exact name and exact matching social security number, not last 4 digits or any effort at privacy protection.

Those my age now look back and see how many people you would have your ss# by now as this new law carries over to every other area of money changing hands.

What could possibly go wrong? Besides bad landlords with info to sell, all the predator would have to do is stand in front of a vacant property, hire out small jobs, collect identity theft info and leave without paying while the work is in process.

Write to your new member of congress.
5227  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: January 04, 2011, 07:00:46 AM
BD, There was humor intended that did not come through.  My timing was lousy because of reading along without having the time to post.  I'm sorry for making things worse.  I was sincere in saying I appreciated the original post. - Doug
5228  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues, Time etc. on: January 04, 2011, 01:27:54 AM
This analogy may not work but... one of my best friends in college, scary to think he became a brain surgeon, use to say of drugs and music, I paraphrase best that I can recall: let them take the acid and the coke and the heroin, bands like the Doors, the Stones, the Dead, Pink Floyd. Then we buy the album for five bucks and enjoy the effects without risking the brain damage and overdoses of taking all those drugs ourselves.

In this case we have (figuratively) sent Bigdog to study Time magazine, the UK Guardian, and institutions of higher learning at very high risk to himself while we can sit back in our easy chairs in secure locations and read just the best of the best of what he finds there.  I, for one, appreciate it and hope that he is able to eventually get out those places unharmed.

He mentioned going there not just for news.  Besides his reasons and cross checking information, we should not lose touch with what other people are reading and thinking even if the motive is just to persuade or defeat them.  We want the diversity of opinion here so (IMO) Let it Be.  Attack or criticize based on specifics in the posts.  Here goes.

It is strange to have Time which I guess is now CNN write about something/anything being under-reported.  It should be the readers telling them what was under-reported. Still I found it interesting.  (Also I want to read the 20 predictions again more closely.)

Point 1 includes the proverb about breaking Iraq so we have to fix it. True, that was our policy but it was BS to me in this sense.  Iraq was broken before we got there, unless you can make the case that rape, torture and gassing your people into submission is normal or functional (unbroken).  GM's take was correct IMO. The fun and profit in the media of harping on Iraq left with Bush.  It made no sense with a new and enlightened Commander in Chief.  With Afghanistan I think the press is mostly blocked from knowing anything helpful.  In war that has some validity.  What the press prints, the enemy knows.

They are right-on regarding the Somali story being a huge, under-reported, also not that far away - I believe there were 24 Somali-based, al Qaida related arrests in Minneapolis this past year.  I suppose that doesn't sell until an airliner turns into fireworks.  Same with tragedies like Congo and Sudan.  People can't find an angle to relate to it or do anything about it; famine, rape and pillage is normal there. If peace or prosperity broke out that might be news.  The Iran power struggle could have been the story of the year.  Our press had nothing to report (no inside scoop) and our country did nothing to help.  I wish Rahm had said never let an uprising against a tyrannical regime go to waste. 

Bias from my point of view pops in on this one: '8. The Rise of Europe's Anti-immigrant Right'.  Seems to me the story missed was the immigrants coming in and revolting against Europe.  I have posted at least three different videos of that on this forum.  Friends elsewhere (readers of Time and Newsweek?) mostly have no clue about what is happening there, where here it was harshly argued.  One was a private grocery store ransacked for made in Israel products in a 'suburb' of Paris, home of the car fires. Another showed riots as Sweden couldn't allow spectators to watch their own national team play a home Davis Cup match because the opponent was Israel and the site was Sweden's 3rd largest city Malmo, an Islamic stronghold where a third of the city is 'foreign born', soon to be an Islamic majority city. Different video, same story: - I wonder what Time's coverage was.  Watch and imagine there would not be some political backlash.

The oil spill story I thought was the story of the year.  It played no part in the election that followed and hardly a word was written after the fix.  Either it was way overblown while it was happening or horribly neglected by the media in followup.  The lack of domestic drilling to match our consumption is still one of the worst, self-inflicted wounds in our economy and of all geopolitics. I have read nothing worthwhile yet about what we learned from this disaster.

Maybe those criticizing Time knew what they were doing.  BD followed by posting an interview of Justice Scalia.  smiley  It was short, but I love to hear people like that in their own words instead of having their minds read by punditry.
5229  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government programs & regulations, spending, budget process on: December 29, 2010, 03:29:55 PM
The cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul towed more than 1000 cars on Christmas;  it is hard to keep track not to park on the even side of the street the second day after a snow emergency when snow emergencies are declared roughly every 3 days. 

Good news is that a) we have a whole new diverse group of citizens thinking of joining the anti-government wing of the tea party, and b) we finally have achieved our goal with complete separation of church and state.

For those who did remember and moved their cars on time Christmas day for the 6th time this month, we have bad news.  They can't push the snow far enough to park there again and still let cars drive through.
More than 1,000 vehicles towed in this latest snow emergency in the cities of St. Paul and Minneapolis.
"Yeah it's not a merry Christmas at all," Jennifer said in the line at the St. Paul tow lot Sunday night.
That tow lot was packed Sunday night with people in the bitter cold standing in a single file line to pay upwards of two hundred dollars to get a vehicle back that was parked illegally in the city's snow emergency, declared Saturday.
5230  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Fascism, liberal fascism, progressivism: on: December 29, 2010, 03:02:03 PM
In a world where we are not allowed to use the word Christmas in public and especially not Hannakah, punditry happened to notice that an 'After Holiday Sale' began December 26th and comment that we finally learn what holiday they were referring to.  I wonder if Kwanzaa shoppers in the White House and across the fruited plain find the timing of such a sale offensive. 
5231  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / BEAT THE CRAP OUT OF CANCER: Lung Cancer - Lungevity on: December 29, 2010, 02:38:51 PM
$7500 raised in one event is an amazing success!
I have given all my possible donation money and then some for this year to the following research fund in honor of my good friend fighting lung cancer right now who never smoked a day in his life.  As I gave money I don't have, I explained to my daughter that charitable giving often is stronger later in life when you are more able to give something back.  Cancer research funding is different.  If you want your donation to help save your own life or a family member, you may need to do it now.

Lungevity Foundation,  (Google: 'lungevity')

Lung cancer kills twice as many women as breast cancer, three times as many men as prostate cancer.  Research funding is slowed by the stigma maybe that smokers today knew what they were getting into, but more than 60% of new diagnosis are with people who quit or never smoked.

Like all cancer, early detection is the key.  They are getting close, I am told. to a breakthrough on an effective pre-screen test that would give lung cancer patients a fighting chance for survival.  Dr. CCP, any comments on this?

Read all the way through this thread.  The previous great causes are still accepting donations too!
5232  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Political Economics: Krugman on: December 27, 2010, 10:40:59 AM
They got it right in a Krugman column?  Sounds like he is on vacation and an aide mailed this in.  smiley

"world commodity prices have risen by a quarter in the past six months"

Maybe a sign of global recovery, but not that pronounced. 

It makes sense to me that oil goes up ever day we consume without committing to any new production.  Copper is another unique commodity worthy of further analysis.  Gold is tied to inflation expectations. Crop related commodities are facing record worldwide freezes.

He notes that commodity prices were also high before the last collapse.  Time will tell what this all really means.
5233  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Genders and careers on: December 26, 2010, 09:03:56 PM
["Why are Dads given a free pass when they sacrifice family for their job?"
"Free pass" exaggerates it quite a bit, but yes the standard is, and should be, different.  It is built into both the philogeny and the ontogeny of the human species.]

Very interesting and I learned a couple of new words.

Separate from which gender does it, there is a time when a parent must leave the house to earn for the family and each family needs to figure that out how to do that and meet the needs of the children. Now there are times when two parents must leave to make a living.  As that becomes more than full time and local for both I would start to question wisdom and priorities.  As a single parent I quit full time work but I couldn't leave all work.  Besides part time contracting and consulting I made it a point to keep up certain activities and sports that I treasured.  I included my daughter as much as I could and now those activities are hers and as a teenager with colleges starting to contact her, she has no idea where she got those interests and skills from.  I believed it important not to quit doing the things we love, to not let life become a completely child-centric universe, but also to not leave often or for long periods or without the care of a consistent loving family member.  Other important people like grandparents started to also treasure my time away and their own rituals started that benefited everyone.  Hired help of the highest quality still means a very young child is bonding and experiencing their first this and first that with someone who is not in the family and not a permanent bond.  In the COO example, she is married to a CEO so I don't think they are reversing roles.  Two careers are on steroids and neither gives up part of a career for the family (hypothetically, I don't know anything about them).  Maybe that works for them but I don't hold it out as an advancement or breakthrough over more traditional, less ambitious choices.

Now I face the gender reversed career re-enty that moms more often go through.  I am a complete expert in some very old technologies; I just need to find a great leading edge company still selling 1990s technologies.  In other words my old jobs are gone and for the position I would have otherwise have attained, I am not ready or qualified.  I will be fine financially and proud of my parenting work, but my corporate career won't compare evenly with someone who did not take the time off.
5234  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Pathological Science on: December 26, 2010, 03:13:45 PM
Cold means global warming.  Drought or flood means global warming.  Correction, make all those climate change.

No one where I am since October has been dreaming of a white Christmas as we scramble to keep the roofs from collapsing.  But don't believe your lying eyes, the world is warming out of control. (sarcasm)

CO2 is not a primary determinant of temperature.
5235  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Gender, Gay, Lesbian on: December 26, 2010, 02:13:01 PM
Rachel, Thank you for expanding on that.  I am happy to know your view and I agree wholeheartedly that women deserve fair treatment and opportunity.  I would add my opinion that reaching the "c-level" in a big corporation is not the sweet spot in life or in business. I assume that term comes out of gender studies; I have never heard it in business.  The heart of the economy (IMO) and the sweet spot for movers and shakers, innovators and leaders is entrepreneurship, and I think women measure up much better there.  In that environment your abilities are judged less subjectively and rewards and accomplishments are more directly related to performance.  A c-level executive is still an employee, not an employer. At CIO, CFO, COO, even CEO you still have a boss, the Board of Directors, ask Hayworth at BP about that.  It is impossible to judge that statistic IMO because more of the best women than men work a partial career (by choice).  She seems to respect the other choice but is advocating taking her path.  But her path was not to work her way up the company; she came in the side door: (From Wikipedia)In late 2007, Mark Zuckerberg, co-founder and CEO of Facebook, met Sandberg at a Christmas party and was impressed. He had no formal search for a COO but thought of Sheryl as "a perfect person for this role." (Only at Facebook is Chief Operating Officer a marketing position. An old boys network with a gender twist, lol.)

Her mentor at Harvard was Larry Summers who might have something to say about the heart of her subject that she skipped.

The best careers I think are obviously where you do something you love, but also where you can make not the most, but a boatload of money and success and still go home at a decent hour every night in my opinion.  The next million has less utility.

I don't trust statistics on likability either. I would like to see the data on measurability first.

Your story (Rachel) of someone else being a better self-promoter is interesting as well as her advice to be a bigger self promoter.  That is a very subtle skill or assignment.  I remember how terrible I have been at that in job interviews.  I rarely have been hired by someone who didn't already know my capabilities.  I clam up and get humble while someone else with fewer or smaller accomplishments is in there telling them a great story. I am visualizing most of those successful people with the likability problem, any gender, as being excessive self promoters. 

CCP wrote: "And in any case who in the world is stopping any female from becoming a mathematician, a civil engineer..."

That was my Mom's reaction when people see only one female in her I.T. class photo from 60 years ago.  She claims no one then kept women out of aeronautical engineering, and she got hired right away after graduation without any preference program.  It just wasn't something most women wanted to do.
5236  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Tax Policy: Alan Reynolds, Tax Rates and the Top 1% Myth on: December 26, 2010, 12:47:33 PM
Assuming we have Wesbury run the Fed, I would like to have Alan Reynolds as chief economic adviser.  More from Reynolds at Cato or find his book 'Income and Wealth':

People like Krugman and others he names here lie with economic data.  Then people like Obama and Schumer and Franken and your local leftist politician and 'neutral' media outlet repeat and spread it.  Then we set policy to correct a problem that didn't exist as we make the economy worse for everyone. Our strategy through this whole downturn has been to take what is already wrong (taxes, healthcare, housing, you name it) and make things worse.  This debate did not end with the new tax deal according to Pres. Obama or to Valerie Jarrett a couple of hours ago on Meet the Press.

(You will need to see the charts to follow this.  Read it from the WSJ link.)

Taxes and the Top Percentile Myth

by Alan Reynolds

When President Obama announced a two-year stay of execution for taxpayers on Dec. 7, he made it clear that he intends to spend those two years campaigning for higher marginal tax rates on dividends, capital gains and salaries for couples earning more than $250,000. "I don't see how the Republicans win that argument," said the president.

Despite the deficit commission's call for tax reform with fewer tax credits and lower marginal tax rates, the left wing of the Democratic Party remains passionate about making the U.S. tax system more and more progressive. They claim this is all about payback—that raising the highest tax rates is the fair thing to do because top income groups supposedly received huge windfalls from the Bush tax cuts. As the headline of a Robert Creamer column in the Huffington Post put it: "The Crowd that Had the Party Should Pick up the Tab."

Arguments for these retaliatory tax penalties invariably begin with estimates by economists Thomas Piketty of the Paris School of Economics and Emmanuel Saez of U.C. Berkeley that the wealthiest 1% of U.S. households now take home more than 20% of all household income.

This estimate suffers two obvious and fatal flaws. The first is that the "more than 20%" figure does not refer to "take home" income at all. It refers to income before taxes (including capital gains) as a share of income before transfers. Such figures tell us nothing about whether the top percentile pays too much or too little in income taxes.

In The Journal of Economic Perspectives (Winter 2007), Messrs. Piketty and Saez estimated that "the upper 1% of the income distribution earned 19.6% of total income before tax [in 2004], and paid 41% of the individual federal income tax." No other major country is so dependent on so few taxpayers.

A 2008 study of 24 leading economies by the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) concludes that, "Taxation is most progressively distributed in the United States, probably reflecting the greater role played there by refundable tax credits, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit. . . . Taxes tend to be least progressive in the Nordic countries (notably, Sweden), France and Switzerland."

The OECD study—titled "Growing Unequal?"—also found that the ratio of taxes paid to income received by the top 10% was by far the highest in the U.S., at 1.35, compared to 1.1 for France, 1.07 for Germany, 1.01 for Japan and 1.0 for Sweden (i.e., the top decile's share of Swedish taxes is the same as their share of income).

A second fatal flaw is that the large share of income reported by the upper 1% is largely a consequence of lower tax rates. In a 2010 paper on top incomes co-authored with Anthony Atkinson of Nuffield College, Messrs. Piketty and Saez note that "higher top marginal tax rates can reduce top reported earnings." They say "all studies" agree that higher "top marginal tax rates do seem to negatively affect top income shares."

What appears to be an increase in top incomes reported on individual tax returns is often just a predictable taxpayer reaction to lower tax rates. That should be readily apparent from the nearby table, which uses data from Messrs. Piketty and Saez to break down the real incomes of the top 1% by source (excluding interest income and rent).

The first column ("salaries") shows average labor income among the top 1% reported on W2 forms—from salaries, bonuses and exercised stock options. A Dec. 13 New York Times article, citing Messrs. Piketty and Saez, claims, "A big reason for the huge gains at the top is the outsize pay of executives, bankers and traders." On the contrary, the table shows that average real pay among the top 1% was no higher at the 2007 peak than it had been in 1999.

In a January 2008 New York Times article, Austan Goolsbee (now chairman of the President's Council of Economic Advisers) claimed that "average real salaries (subtracting inflation) for the top 1% of earners . . . have been growing rapidly regardless of what happened to tax rates." On the contrary, the top 1% did report higher salaries after the mid-2003 reduction in top tax rates, but not by enough to offset losses of the previous three years. By examining the sources of income Mr. Goolsbee chose to ignore—dividends, capital gains and business income—a powerful taxpayer response to changing tax rates becomes quite clear.
Income chart

The second column, for example, shows real capital gains reported in taxable accounts. President Obama proposes raising the capital gains tax to 20% on top incomes after the two-year reprieve is over. Yet the chart shows that the top 1% reported fewer capital gains in the tech-stock euphoria of 1999-2000 (when the tax rate was 20%) than during the middling market of 2006-2007. It is doubtful so many gains would have been reported in 2006-2007 if the tax rate had been 20%. Lower tax rates on capital gains increase the frequency of asset sales and thus result in more taxable capital gains on tax returns.

The third column shows a near tripling of average dividend income from 2002 to 2007. That can only be explained as a behavioral response to the sharp reduction in top tax rates on dividends, to 15% from 38.6%. Raising the dividend tax to 20% could easily yield no additional revenue if it resulted in high-income investors holding fewer dividend- paying stocks and more corporations using stock buybacks rather than dividends to reward stockholders.

The last column of the table shows average business income reported on the top 1% of individual tax returns by subchapter S corporations, partnerships, proprietorships and many limited liability companies. After the individual tax rate was brought down to the level of the corporate tax rate in 2003, business income reported on individual tax returns became quite large. For the Obama team to argue that higher taxes on individual incomes would have little impact on business denies these facts.

If individual tax rates were once again pushed above corporate rates, some firms, farms and professionals would switch to reporting income on corporate tax forms to shelter retained earnings. As with dividends and capital gains, this is another reason that estimated revenues from higher tax rates are unbelievable.

The Piketty and Saez estimates are irrelevant to questions about income distribution because they exclude taxes and transfers. What those figures do show, however, is that if tax rates on high incomes, capital gains and dividends were increased in 2013, the top 1%'s reported share of before-tax income would indeed go way down. That would be partly because of reduced effort, investment and entrepreneurship. Yet simpler ways of reducing reported income can leave the after-tax income about the same (switching from dividend-paying stocks to tax-exempt bonds, or holding stocks for years).

Once higher tax rates cause the top 1% to report less income, then top taxpayers would likely pay a much smaller share of taxes, just as they do in, say, France or Sweden. That would be an ironic consequence of listening to economists and journalists who form strong opinions about tax policy on the basis of an essentially irrelevant statistic about what the top 1%'s share might be if there were not taxes or transfers.
5237  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Palins to AZ? on: December 26, 2010, 12:06:52 PM
They are sitting on some money and this is a small investment.  Bristol I assume will keep riding her own career wave to see where it leads.  Short plane ride or a 6 hour drive to LA. (What does a 4000 sq.ft. house in a nice part of L.A. cost?)  For sure they needed a landing point in the lower 48 for the family.  The Southwest makes sense, you don't dream of coming down from the tundra in winter to land in Iowa or the Dakotas and then hope for movie cameos and television appearances or whatever she has her eye on.

The house itself is a very frugal investment for big celebrities.  Nothing at all like the McCains, or Kerry or even Obama's empty million dollar shack in Chicago.  Probably a true investment of Bristol's new money with the father Todd being the main family financial adviser on it.  For the exact median price of a home in America they got 4000 square feet, recently built, recently remodeled.  Room for the whole family - I assume that is much bigger than the home in Wasilla.  Property taxes a little over a hundred a month, I don't think you can't get an association fee at a condo for that, or one night in a hotel room.

Palin running for the McCain seat rumor made sense if it was coming up but he just won a 6 year term.  He could step down and the R. Gov. could appoint Palin, but those pre-arranged deals sour quickly with voters.

Long story short, they bought a house - and it is not in an early primary state.
5238  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Prayer and Daily Expression of Gratitude on: December 25, 2010, 01:35:40 PM
I am grateful to again experience the change of seasons, the beautiful music of Christmas and the welcoming message of peace, love, gratefulness and optimism that comes with Christmas and the new year.  Joy to the world.  Let heaven and nature sing.
5239  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Gender issues: Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook on: December 24, 2010, 02:13:53 PM
I had my own reaction to some of her points, but also wondering if Rachel might expand on: "I don't agree with everything she has to say", and Crafty's rather non-applauding reaction: "What this woman doesn't know is a lot."

Two people I know that would disagree with the thrust of her remarks are my mother and my daughter, both high achievers. Nothing holds either of them back, 70 years apart.  One that might disagree that "women are not making it to the top of any profession anywhere in the world" is Margaret Thatcher.

This point is interesting: "success and likability are positively correlated for men and negatively correlated for women. And everyone's nodding, because we all know this to be true."

What is the converse of that, women who are dull plain and going nowhere are more likable than those achieving, leading and accomplishing.  I don't think so and perpetuating that stereotype doesn't seem helpful.  I see it as very individual and personal more so than a gender matter.  Certainly she sees herself as both, a 'c-level' exec and extremely likable - they invented 'friending', didn't they?  I also think she wrote the 'everyone is nodding' in agreement line before seeing the reaction.  I recall hard driving career women I've run across who seem to lack likability, but that is a choice or a personality, not something crucial or helpful to their success.  In the world of girls sports where I spent a lot of my parenting time I run across up and coming players driving to be the best at their craft, in the state, or in the world.  When they step out of the intensity of the competition, some are likable, some are not. 

Her thrust seems to be that the numbers ought to be identical to men, even though she admits that is not the priority of most women.  Her story of a tiny daughter who she 'drops off' at day care pulling on her leg and begging her not to go away on a plane makes you wonder if she is the one making the right choice and the other women putting family ahead of career at least for that part of their life, never reaching COO, made the wrong choice?
5240  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Economics, the stock market , and other investment/savings strategies on: December 24, 2010, 12:28:37 PM
"No infrastructure to gas up" [Natural gas into cars or 18 wheelers]

I love the idea of using natural gas of north American origin that burns significantly cleaner into cars and trucks in place of foreign oil.  The infrastructure is one problem, also the tanks are bulkier. The demand just isn't there right now, but natural gas is far readier to be an expanded fuel source than the other snake oil investments politicians are putting us into.  Honda made a home compressor that was taken off the market.  Utah has stations statewide.  Our state has just one - with limited hours.  If you had a compressor at home that re-fuels overnight and a certain number of stations along your drive, it would work.  Every building in our area has natural gas already connected.  It is just a matter of investing in dispensing and compressing equipment - ahead of the demand.  A battery powered car won't produce major amounts of heat or air conditioning for your drive or take a large load on the long haul.  Natural gas can. Some bus companies and fleets are switching.
5241  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness: Obama OPPOSED the individual mandate on: December 24, 2010, 12:08:15 PM
"Once upon a time, Barack Obama seemed to understand the kind of opposition a personal mandate would generate. That’s why when he ran for president, he was against it — and criticized Hillary Clinton for proposing such a thing."

That line came from a post I just made over on 'constitutional issues', by Tom McClanahan of McClatchy newspapers.

Sad and amazing that I care more about where Obama stood then than he does. I will dig out the quote because I remember watching the debate with interest, and fear.  People like that take a stand on either side of a crucial constitutional issue based on pollsters and personal political advantage.  Then change sides without acknowledging or explaining what changed.  And we reward them by trusting them with not just our healthcare, but nuclear disarmament treaties too!

Here is an example of Obama's position stated in an early Democratic debate:

"I do provide universal health care. The only difference between Clinton’s plan and mine is that she thinks the problem for people without health care is that nobody has mandated, forced them to get health care. What I see are people who would love to have health care & can’t afford it. My plan that makes sure that it is affordable to get health care as good as the health care that I have as a member of Congress. That’s what the American people are looking for & what I intend to provide as president."
Source: 2007 Democratic debate in Las Vegas, Nevada Nov 15, 2007

My question today, does anybody think he actually changed his mind, that this Harvard educated Alinsky liberal did not know then that if he ever got the shot at it, the mandate would be necessary to expect healthy people buy a government-crafted policy that they don't want, or was he (obviously) lying then for tactical, political advantage, to differentiate himself from her, and Edwards and Dodd and Richardson and Kucinich?

In other words, he burst on the national stage as a new kind of politician, looked America in the eye and lied to our face on all the major issues, healthcare, war, tax cuts, you name it.

When he appointed Hillary he said Americans should not take too seriously some of the things said during “the heat of a campaign.”

They say they want people to engage, learn the issues, watch the debates, etc.  But if and when we do engage, we keep getting snowed over with bullshit like this.  People who disengage and say all politicians are alike have it just about as right as those of us who try to tune in and pay attention.
5242  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Issues in Constitutional Law: Positive Rights vs. Negative Rights on: December 24, 2010, 11:11:05 AM
Is there a constitutional right of having someone provide services to you?  If it is a good idea that everyone have a right to free this or affordable that, is that right already in the constitution or is that a change requiring amendment?  Does congress have the power to compel you to buy a private contract?  Is it an unenumerated power?
Obamacare and the risk of ‘positive rights’
The Kansas City Star

Last week’s court decision striking down the linchpin provision of the health care bill is a reminder that what’s at stake is larger than the future of Obamacare. If this law passes constitutional muster, the question is whether the federal government can be constrained by any limits at all.

At issue is the personal mandate, the part of the law that says everyone must buy health insurance or pay a penalty. The implications were aptly captured by U.S. District Judge Henry Hudson, ruling in Virginia vs. Sebelius — one of several lawsuits challenging Obamacare.

Two other federal judges have upheld the personal mandate, but Hudson saw the law differently. He pointed out that neither the Supreme Court nor any federal court of appeals has held that Congress’ power to regulate commerce means people can be compelled to buy a product from a private company.

If that provision is upheld, the implications are deeply troubling.

Up to now, defenders of the health care law have airily dismissed such concerns. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, asked to name the constitutional provision on which the personal mandate was based, famously replied in an outraged tone: “Are you serious? Are you serious?”

During the health care debate, it was common to hear people piously assert that health care should be a right, perhaps unaware of the full implications. The ongoing strikes and riots in Europe, however, represent the long-term risks of the progressive vision, in which government-delivered social benefits are portrayed as personal rights.

No wonder they’re rioting in Europe. They believe their personal rights are being violated by budget cuts brought on by the sovereign debt crisis.

Government benefits expressed in this way are known to political scientists as positive rights, which differ from the negative rights with which we’re more familiar. Negative rights generally describe things the government cannot do — take your stuff without due process, stifle your right to express your point of view, lock you up without cause, etc.

Positive rights describe things the government says it will do for you. A good example was the Second Bill of Rights pushed by President Roosevelt. Everyone, he said, should have the right “to a useful and remunerative job … to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing … to adequate medical care … to a good education” and more.

Worthy goals, all. Who’s against such things?

Certainly a highly developed economy should not be without social welfare programs — pensions and health care for seniors, aid to the indigent and the like. The problem is that elevating benefits to the level of rights confers an unlimited grant of power to the government. In the legislative process, laudable sentiments too often emerge as programs with unconstrained costs — or, in the case of the personal mandate in Obamacare, policies that rely on coercion.

As federal lawyers told Judge Hudson, the personal insurance requirement is the “vital kinetic link that animates Congress’s overall regulatory reform of interstate health care.”

From government’s point of view, positive rights are marching orders. Heaven and earth must be moved to deliver the promises. The state grows rapidly and ultimately it outruns the capacity of the tax base to pay for it all, endangering the financial security of everyone.

Thirty years ago, Portugal’s government cost its taxpayers about 20 percent of GDP. Then a new constitution was written, chock full of positive rights — the right to housing, education, health, social security. The size of government doubled. Portugal’s borrowing costs, like that of Greece and Ireland, have ballooned.

It’s no coincidence that those who believe health care is a “right” were, like Pelosi, initially flummoxed by the notion that a serious constitutional challenge was even possible. Who could worry about legal niceties when the noble goal of universal health care is within reach?

Once upon a time, Barack Obama seemed to understand the kind of opposition a personal mandate would generate. That’s why when he ran for president, he was against it — and criticized Hillary Clinton for proposing such a thing.
5243  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Asset Protection strategies (Trusts, Family Partnerships, Charitable Trusts etc) on: December 24, 2010, 09:45:35 AM
Canis, good questions. What type of assets are you looking to protect? I looked into Living Trust rules recently to help my parents with their estate planning and realized I should have had one for myself all along.

For real estate, my strategy for limiting liability has been to set up a separate LLC for each property, the idea being to offer some personal protection and limit the damage of one lawsuit to the asset of that property, not a portfolio. The more difficult you can make it look to collect, the less likely you will be sued, at least frivolously. So far I have only done this with new purchases, not gone back and transferred titles yet for earlier holdings. I assume the same strategy would apply for assets other than real estate.  Transferring title though doesn't make all liabilities go away.  Some like environmental liability can pass through the chain of title.

The ownership of each LLC needs to be transferred to the trust.  The Living Trust set up correctly will keep the assets that are in it out of probate, but has no affect of limiting liability.  I don't know of any vehicle that offers both.

I don't know the state you are in, but most people should not need an attorney to set up a Living Trust.  Just start googling and reading; they have fairly straightforward forms.  The key is the followup.  You need to transfer the title legally of each asset to be in the name of the trust, not in the name of you or your wife.  Not just a transfer document in your file, but listed in the name of the trust at the brokerage or at the county records.  There may be reason to set up 2 trusts, one for each of you.  If you have a trust but a property or asset is not transferred to it, that asset goes to probate.  Others can tell you what a nightmare that is.  If the asset is in the trust, then whoever you designate to run it can make decisions, moves, buys, sells immediately without years of court system delays.  The ability to move money around may be necessary just to pay expenses.

I am no expert on this and hope that others jump in with good information or to correct any of mine.
5244  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Tax Policy: State with no income tax had the highest growth - Census on: December 22, 2010, 12:10:58 PM

Census: Fast growth in states with no income tax

"...growth tends to be stronger where taxes are lower. Seven of the nine states that do not levy an income tax grew faster than the national average. The other two, South Dakota and New Hampshire, had the fastest growth in their regions, the Midwest and New England.

Altogether, 35 percent of the nation's total population growth occurred in these nine non-taxing states, which accounted for just 19 percent of total population at the beginning of the decade."
5245  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Tax Policy: 10,000 new Homeless Missing in Oregon, All Millionaires on: December 22, 2010, 12:03:09 PM
One Third of the projected revenue windfall from the Oregon Millionaires Tax did not materialize! I can't believe these Alinsky technocrats LIED to us.

"...unlike...Cuba, its citizens can still easily vote with their feet"

If these were poor people affected or missing, we would have a new government program to locate, counsel and re-train them.  Maybe free housing or healthcare to get them to stay.

Minnesota's new Governor had the same proposal on his platform.  He didn't know then that he would be governing with a new Republican state House and state Senate.

The Case of The Missing Oregon Millionaires
Published: Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Like the plot line straight from an old Agatha Christie novel, about 10,000 Oregon millionaires seem to have gone missing since 2009. And no one, least of all the state, knows where they are.

However, despite the absence of Mssr. Hercule Poirot to investigate, some facts surrounding this case are known. In June 2009, the state legislature enacted Measures 66 & 67 retroactively, effectively raising the tax rate to 10.8% on joint filer income between $250K to $500K and to 11% on income over $500K per year, including capital gains. The only place in the USA with a higher tax rate is New York City.

So when the tax revenues rolled in for 2009, the state expected to collect $180 million on 38,000 high income filers. Alas, only $130 million was collected on 28,000 tax filers. Where did the missing 10,000 Oregon millionaires go with their fifty million in lost tax revenues? I'd start looking as far away as Texas, whose capital gains tax is 0%, and other low tax states.

Of course the legislators in Salem blame the bad economy with its high unemployment, conveniently overlooking the fact that Oregon is one socialist system that can fail, unlike for example Cuba, because its citizens can still easily "vote with their feet".

Kitzhaber can continue this failed socialist scheme, and end up seeing even lower tax revenues collected in 2010 and 2011, or he can wake-up, smell the coffee, and revoke Measures 66 & 67.

The only way Oregon is going to get out of this recession is by encouraging wealthy people and private businesses to move to the state...not leave it.
5246  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Congress of Glibness - leaving in a storm on: December 22, 2010, 10:38:49 AM
Does anyone remember the scramble of news as the Clintons were exiting the White House.  Besides stealing things from the walls and desks of the White House, we had the flurry of pardons. Pardons plotted for four years were all sprung at once. Everyone and their brother wanted one, literally, with Hugh Rodham selling them like magazine subscriptions.  The administration and the media were oblivious to the tanking economy and the rising terror threat beneath the headlines that would soon explode on us as they all rushed to get their last pet project pushed through with unaccountable, shameless, lame duck power.

Here we go again.  This congress exiting is the group Obama rode in with and he along with his compadres of the last 4 years, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi, are still setting the bold, leftist, activist agenda as the least popular congress in history prepares to leave town, hopefully forever.

The focus is to pass things now that can't be undone by the next congress; that is the opposite of a founding principle we used to refer to as consent of the governed.

We can discuss the issues separately and we have, but I just want to make sure this wider Alinsky strategy is pointed out right now, as it is happening.

First the tax dilemma and the tax deal was everything. They left it all to the end against the advice of ALL economists.  Republicans weren't going to discuss anything else until a tax package was set so that became the fight of our time, even though everyone presumably knew Obama wasn't going to raise tax rates on everyone coming into his last 2 years and an uphill reelection fight.

Crafty wrote about RINOs on START who cannot hold a line - shame on them, but shame should go mainly to the exiting leaders and their followers who ram all this BS right in the face of an electorate who just gave them a 3-part answer to their agenda: no, NO and Hell No!

Tax rates only got a temporary settlement continuing the exact same uncertainty problem we faced the last two years.  Then it was amnesty for illegals, barely a win for sanity and sovereignty making centrist R's look bad to a growing constituency.  With their guard down and thinking they owed Obama a favor, in comes the surrender treaty to the Russians.   Simultaneous as a diversion, we have the FCC, as if that was not an operating arm of the Obama administration, sliding through a new fatwa proclaiming federal regulatory of the internet with rules that are not made public.  The news that the DEBT went up 2 TRILLION in one year goes nearly unnoticed.

The people mostly want to wind up some business of their own, put this rotten year behind us, listen to sleigh bells, go see Christmas lights, dream of sugar plum fairies, relax spiritually or whatever others do over a winter solstice break, and pray for better (meaning less) governance in the new year.  This leftist flurry makes sure that the next two years will be all about arguing and undoing the damage of the last two years, not moving the country forward, advancing freedom, innovation or enterprise.

God Bless America.  We could use a little help here right now.
5247  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Nuclear War, WMD issues on: December 22, 2010, 09:42:03 AM
Maybe the missed translation of Hillary's Russian Reset button actually came out as 'kowtow'. (credit below) I would note that this week the Polish government has issued a deep distrust of the Russian report on the crash that killed all their leaders while the Obamaites and RINOs like Dick Lugar are saying trust this adversary in a treaty where the preamble doesn't even match the contents of the document.

Nothing should prevent missile defense.

Funny they would rush this while at least the public doesn't even know who just launched a missile off the coast of California?

New START Treaty: The Obama Administration is dancing to Moscow’s tune

By Nile Gardiner World Last updated: December 21st, 2010

Russia likes the new START treaty (Photo: Reuters)

When Hillary Clinton famously announced Washington’s new “reset” policy towards Russia, she really meant to say “kowtow”. Because whenever Moscow makes a demand the Obama Administration obediently follows. The Russians hated the Bush Administration’s plans for Third Site missile defences in Poland and the Czech Republic, and the Obama team dutifully dropped them last year in what can only be described as an appalling surrender to a major strategic adversary. Now with the New START Treaty, the Obama presidency is pushing an agreement that the increasingly repressive regime in Russia thinks is absolutely wonderful.

And Moscow has every reason to like it. As I noted in a previous post, the treaty fundamentally undercuts US national security by giving Russia a huge say over American plans for a global missile defence system:

    Simply put, the New START Treaty is a staggeringly bad deal for the United States, and an extraordinarily good one for Vladimir Putin’s increasingly hostile and authoritarian Russia. President Obama needs to respect the will of the American electorate and allow the new Senate to vote on the Treaty, and fully scrutinise and debate the details of an agreement which, if ratified in its current form, will dramatically undercut America’s global missile defences. The White House is pressing for another monumental surrender to Moscow which will only strengthen the hand of a key US adversary.

Further confirmation that the Russians are clearly in the driving seat, and can’t wait to get this agreement ratified, was provided in astonishing fashion yesterday by Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who warned the US Senate to fall in line and drop any talk of amending the treaty. The last time I checked, Lavrov wasn’t elected by the American people, but he clearly thinks he can tell them what to do. According to the BBC:

    Russia has warned US lawmakers that any change to the new nuclear arms disarmament treaty between the two countries could destroy the pact. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the New Start treaty “cannot be reopened, becoming the subject of new negotiations” according to remarks reported by Interfax news agency. Republicans in the US Senate have recently pushed to change its wording. Two-thirds of the 100 US senators must back the treaty for it to be ratified.

    “The Start agreement, which was drafted on the basis of strict parity, completely meets the national interests of both Russia and the United States,” Mr Lavrov told Interfax. “It cannot be reopened, becoming the subject of new negotiations,” he added.

The White House’s response should be to tell the Russian government to mind its own business, and be prepared to renegotiate the treaty, but unfortunately the Obama presidency is simply content to move its feet to Moscow’s tune like a dancing bear at a St. Petersburg circus. This is all deeply humiliating for the most powerful nation on earth. US lawmakers should recognise this farce for what it is: the humiliating appeasement of a deeply unpleasant and hostile regime that is actively working against US interests and security on the world stage.
5248  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Environmental issues on: December 22, 2010, 09:27:22 AM
If we were talking 380 parts per thousand I would be more concerned.  It is 380 parts per Million.  If CO2 levels this low were DECREASING I would be more concerned as all plant life relies on a continuous supply of this trace atmospheric molecule.

From the story: "The greatest question in climate science is: What will that do to the temperature of the earth?"

Also true that warmer air holds more CO2, so we don't even know cause and affect.

Sometimes best to view this steep curve increase on a graph to see where it is headed.  This only goes up to 1% of atmospheric concentration.  The y-axis would need to be 100 times taller to graphically show the proportion of CO2 in the atmosphere as it has increased over the last 50-some years.

If you assume this increase is either cyclical or fossil fuel based or both, then the likely extension of the curve would be to maybe go further up and then come gradually back down as fossil fuel use has likely already peaked and offsetting factors like plant growth also increase to absorb these fluctuations.

As the NY Times calls the above, "rising relentlessly".

5249  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Issues in the American Creed (Constitutional Law and related matters) on: December 21, 2010, 12:59:54 PM
I enjoyed the Levinson article though I see it differently.

The theme seems to be the disproportionality aka checks and balances(?).Every few election cycles there seems to be major talk (mostly out of New York and California) to end the electoral college and elect the President by direct popular vote.  There is a fear that the one who wins the popular vote (like Al Gore) may not win in the electoral college.  Like saying the football team with the best time of possession or total yards needs to win even though the rules say we only count points on the board.  Regardless of the merits I always laugh it off because all it will to take to change that is to ask more than half the states to voluntarily give up their 'disproportional' power.  Same argument would go for the senate.  Why abandon the electoral college when, until Levinson(?), I never hear a proposal to end the Senate and go to a strictly proportional (unicameral?) legislative branch.  I have never found the House to be a better governing body than the Senate and don't find the argument that a proportional body would not have confirmed to Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court to be at all helpful.  

The details of the 12th amendment and the story of 1824 are both quite interesting.  Maybe electoral tiebreakers are quirky or unfair, but then it reinforces something I have come to know since Gore-Bush Florida and the crazy Al Franken recount here: margin of victory matters.  A party or potential coalition can't run 3 candidates or be still fighting amongst themselves on election day and expect their views to prevail.  The Gore Bush contest in Florida mattered because the country was also evenly divided across the other 49 states.  Even if that had ended in a tie to be decided in the House of Representatives with each state getting just one vote, that would only happen after each candidate had every opportunity to win outright in the conventional manner.  Because margin of victory matters, every vote really matters.  I didn't use to know that.  

Levinson alleges (if I read him correctly) one sign of the constitutional stupidity is that mountain states, sparsely populated but fully represented in the Senate, take in far more federal funding than they pay in.  I assume that includes Alaska with their majestic mountains and notoriety for bridges and spending to nowhere.  

I would reply emphatically that those spending bills originate in the fully proportional House of Representatives and end with the mostly proportional chief executive.  The remedy is easily available within the current framework: STOP DOING THAT. Like the cornhusker kickback to bring us healthcare, draw up a bill we honestly support instead of buying off small state Senators. We don't want coercion by the majority or from the east or west coast anymore than we wanted it from the King.  What we want is limited government and consent of the governed.

Ideas like life, liberty and pursuit of happiness were also Jeffersonian.

There is a longer story in these states in my opinion.  The federal government owns the beautiful forests at the Top of the Rockies and a majority of the land in many regions of the west.  Like the Clinton takeover of a coal region, Grand Staircase - Escalante in Utah, I don't think these federal ownerships were the choice of the state or the people in and around the land.  The federal government after the takeover chooses to leave resources in the ground, restricts what Utah or Alaska can do for revenues, operates its own land at a loss, while keeping industrious, private sector, taxpaying Americans from building and living there.  (Then complain about the loss.) That is a choice that comes out of places like New York, Washington, California etc. IMO, not so much from the states affected.  In the Boundary Waters of Minnesota - Superior National Forest , not just non-motorized and very limited access, it is illegal to operate a sailboat on a lake or construct a canoe rest on a portage for fear of ... damage to the environment?  Separate from the merits, these are not laws that are set by the locals nor are they laws that lead to bringing in revenues or covering the federal operating costs of a million acre park, as an example.

Life tenure of Federal judges is easily amended because it doesn't a have a state against state component to it.  Supreme Court Justices or any federal judgeship could be limited to one 20 year term or any other number as easy as passing the 22nd amendment limiting the President to two terms  - if that is what people want.  It is not a structural problem in the constitution, IMO.

The 3 examples of amendments failing, balanced budget, flag burning and equal gender rights were all (well intended, but) flawed proposals IMO. There are amendments now I would support that also lack the votes.  I noted recently that proponents of granting the federal government new powers never first seek to amend the constitution.  That is not because of no constitutional need IMO; it is because they know they lack the votes, and then proceed with the legislation anyway.

Constitutional conventions: beware, IMO.  These are for those like this author/scholar who want major changes and you cannot predict the result when you call one.  These are not for those of us who 'venerate' the original document.
5250  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Humor/WTF - Rare Coincidence on: December 21, 2010, 10:30:33 AM
Both Groundhog Day and the State of the Union address will occur
on the same day. As Air America Radio has pointed out, It is an ironic
juxtaposition of events; one involves a meaningless ritual in which we look
to a creature of limited intelligence for prognostication while the other
involves a groundhog.
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