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5251  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Coming Clusterfcuk - The Obama Presidency on: November 07, 2008, 01:46:19 PM
I agree with the sentiment that we are screwed if and when Democrats take over all branches of government.  Still I respectfully request a clearer title for this thread a) in the recognition that the forum already lacks quantity and quality of opposing views and b) in wishing for the discussion to be something I can share with a teenage daughter as prepares for citizenship.
5252  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US-Russia on: November 07, 2008, 01:38:14 PM
Russia locating new missile launchers near a missile defense site?  Sounds like a problem already solved. Also sounds like George Bush proved right at least this once by history and events.  Obama (version 1.0) opposed missile defense (and favored tax increases).  Somehow he figured out to 'delay' tax increases in a challenged economy.  Maybe he will also 'delay' unilateral disarmament, especially the defensive systems, until the Soviet resurgent, KGB-run, nuclear warhead missile threat subsides. 

My solution would be to match Russia's recognition of South Ossetia with our recognition of Kaliningrad.  If they declare independence, join the EU and NATO, maybe they can keep the missiles aim them a different direction.
5253  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Palin phenomenon on: November 07, 2008, 01:30:32 PM
I agree with CCP and Krauthammer that Palin was the wrong choice for McCain this year because it undercut his biggest argument that Obama lacked sufficient experience. 

That said I now declare my support for Palin and the Plumber in 2012.

She is an intuitive conservative, not one who has read all the arguments from all the pundits.  We need someone who is intuitive AND informed, experienced and prepared.

Regarding the Palin for the Stevens senate seat, we had a similar situation in the land of 10,000 taxes.  When Walter Mondale moved to the vice presidency, our Governor was the most popular politician around - young, handsome, charismatic, an olympic hockey star, and was just on the cover of Time magazine promoting the good life here. Everyone thought it obvious for the Governor to appoint himself, so he resigned and his Lt. Gov. put him to the senate.  In the next election, Republicans swept this Democrat state  taking both senates seats and kicking out the appointing Governor.


5254  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Way Forward for Reps/Conservatives on: November 07, 2008, 01:04:26 PM
We should leave Ann Coulter out of this.  Like certain leftists her job is to strike a nerve, not rebuild a party.  I suggest leaving Reagan out of this too.  Admirers like me refer to Reaganomics to selectively cover only the things we liked about Reagan.  He was wrong occasionally as CCP points out.  I sincerely doubt Reagan would favor porous borders in a post-911 world.  McCain favored a form of amnesty.  Should he have bucked the right wing and reached further to the Hispanics? Politically it was a no-win either way for McCain in the campaign, not a major issue or distinction from Obama who just wants hope and change. Instead it was a symptom of the fact that he was a maverick not a leader in congress.  If his earlier proposals had been better structured, more persuasively argued and better received, maybe we would have these new residents documented and our fences built by now. CCP, aren't you on the (far) right-wing side of this one?

Deregulation hurt S&L's.  More specifically you could say that S&Ls existed only because they were propped up by government policies.  Would they exist today (No) if they were still prohibited from offering demand deposit accounts (checking, electronic transfers etc.), just updating passbooks and moving stable savings money into 30 year mortgages in the neighborhood?  S&Ls had been granted a half point interest advantage over commercial banks by federal law in exchange for staying out of the checking and payments business.  Would we have been better off in the 80s if the banks had failed instead of the S&Ls?  I don't know, but we didn't deregulate, we changed the regulations.  Back to today, did Fannie Mae / Freddie Mac fail due to deregulation?  The videos of the congressional regulation oversight committees have been posted here and they say otherwise.  All the right questions were asked by the oversight committees and all the wrong answers were given, mostly by those with their hand in the cookie jar.  Faulty regulation is not deregulation.

Deregulation and the failure of free markets keeps getting blamed for failure only in our most regulated and least free industries.  Nobody is calling for deregulation of federally insured and federally supported institutions. 

Now the first appointee from the party not blamed for the crisis comes from the board of Freddie Mac.  That is the audacity of hope.  Who can compete with that?

Moving forward, I agree with conservative principles laid down by GM, would add peace through strength, but they need to all be specifically applied to the major issues of the day.  They also need a spokesman, a podium and an enormous power of persuasion to get heard and considered in an era where nearly all the main media along with their viewers are looking the other direction.  The round table style post recently had many interesting ideas.

Conservatives and center-right people need to debate positions and issues BEFORE the election contests and find solutions and consensus.  Crafty can offer to host, lol.
5255  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants on: November 05, 2008, 09:19:25 AM
First I concede a point CCP made earlier that McCain would do better (and did better) in this environment than a more conservative Republican.  It was a number of people who brought down the Republican party as we knew it.  McCain, yes, but mostly Bush.  Not just for his mistakes but for his inability to communicate when he did things right.  How pathetic that a sitting President had to run and hide for months during the election.

On the other side of communication is Obama who even in his gracious 'unifying' speech still contends this is the worst economy of the last 100 years, but employment is down less than one percent.

Unfortunately from my point of view the terms elected-Republican and conservative are mutually exclusive.  Fannie Mae wasn't governed conservatively.  Federal spending wasn't run conservatively.  Even a pro-war decision wasn't executed conservatively from a pro-war taxpayer's point of view.

Back to McCain.  I didn't want to write negatively before the polls close, but  now take a look at the recent political career of McCain prior to the campaign.  My question, did McCain fight Republicans when they were right or did he fight them when they were wrong? 

His biggest fights were: Campaign finance reform - a HORRIBLE law that led to his own demise.  Opposing Bush tax cuts - wrong by his own admission.  Opposing drilling in ANWR - political fodder, had nothing to do with the environment or the caribou and just conceded a huge symbolic point to the opposition.  Immigration - caved on principle and lawfulness just to pander to a totally unappreciative audience.  Supported cap and trade - don't get me started, the best explanation was Obama's saying he looked forward to bankrupting the clean coal industry and McCain did not and could not draw a distinction!  My outlets are connected to coal and no one is building nuclear or anything else to replace it.  McCain conceded the issue before the general election began.  Torture - McCain has credibility here, but drew blurry lines impugning the Americans and hurting the war effort.  Spending - I know he opposes earmarks, a minor item, but why didn't he scream bloody murder as Republicans poured more and more money into ALL spending.  If he did I didn't hear it.  And for all his fighting with his own party, he failed to pin blame for the subprime industry or any other else on his opponents.  He's just too nice of a guy, so he let's Bush and the republicans take full blame with his silence.  (Skipping over some things he did right - this is a rant)

McCain fought Republicans hard but if he had won he helped in leaving fewer Republicans around to support him.  Zero coattails even in losing.  Of course a McCain presidency would also have been a failure with the Pelosi-Reid congress setting most of the agenda.

One example I posted previously of McCain hurting Republicans was our other senator from MN, Amy Klobuchar, a political clone of Hillary without all the charisma.  Every time her opponent tried to paint her as too liberal for MN she managed to point out that she had John McCain on her side of a vote or issue, opposing tax cuts, drilling, etc.

The party now in ruins has always had competing factions among the right wingers and centrists.  The conventional wisdom is still that the R's need to move away from conservatism to win.  McCain should have been a perfect centrist to win states like ours, after all a McCain clone and ally Tim Pawlenty is our twice elected governor.  But McCain lost MN by 10 points and did even worse in neighboring Wisconsin, also of mixed politics.  When people want a Democrat, they don't choose Democrat-lite.  When people want Republicans out, they don't put a maverick Republican in. 

The alleged wisdom is that R's can strategically reach to the center and the right wing has no choice but to support the centrist, the maverick.  If we choose a conservative, we may energize 'the base' but the center goes Democrat.  Two problems with that wisdom.  It doesn't match the election reults we have had.  Wishy washy republicans have done lousy (Bob Dole, GHW Bush reelection for examples), what kind of support do they get, luke warm? While candidates at least running as conservatives have generally fared well, at least since Goldwater.  This was a Goldwater style year.  It took us 16 years of meandering, incompetent government from both sides that nearly took down the republic to snap out of that.  I hate to think how old I will be the new socialism and surrender fad passes.

Meanwhile, I stand by my belief that big tents are for circuses.  I am here to seek out which policies are best and support them regardless of winning or losing elections. 

I supported McCain and voted for McCain without regrets, but never gave a penny and as a precinct chair never held a meeting or organized a rally.  He wasn't the choice of Republicans out of principle IMO, he was a marketing choice that Republican primary voters were hoping that others would like.  It didn't work.


5256  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Gender issues thread/Michelle Malkin on: November 02, 2008, 08:28:15 PM
JDN, You made a few points and I don't mean to oversimplify by quoting back:

"Seems a bit inconsistent to me." re. her immigration opnion...

"saying it was great to put thousands upon thousands of innocent and loyal Japanese/Americans in these prison camps." - doesn't sound like a direct quote...

And some guilt by association, some bad people link to her column. Are we holding Barack to that standard?

I have only read some of her columns.  I know she is highly respected by thoughtful conservatives that I respect such as John Hinderacker and Hugh Hewitt.  I know you said you were done with her and I hate to pile on but could you please take one more shot by linking one column of hers with an excerpt at the top that illustrates the point you are alleging - racist, sensationalist, no substance, white supremist, etc.  TIA.  Are these conservatives I mentioned haters of no substance as well??

5257  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: October 29, 2008, 12:01:28 PM
Crafty, The quote I attributed to God actually came through http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ten_Commandments.  They link to this anglicized version: http://bible.oremus.org/?passage=exodus+20:2-20:17&version=nrsvae
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I was trying to one-up Obama's impressive endorsement of Gen. Powell by finding someone with even more gravitas for my side of the argument, lol.  He basically covers the car, the house the employees, even the wife.  We aren't supposed to be looking over our neighbor's stuff except maybe in the interest of friendly conversation, but not for theft or public takings.

If we buy into the concept that disparity politics is valid and relevant, then what is the right amount of disparity?  The former Mpls congressman Martin Sabo (Keith Ellison's predecessor) proposed that companies could not pay it's highest paid employee more than 20 times what it pays its lowest paid worker.  If you buy fully into the unfairness concept and right to a remedy, why stop at 20-fold?  What is the right amount of disparity?  If unequal pay is unfair, why not mandate outcomes to be equal?  The answer of course is that that system would be even more unfair not to mention extremely inefficient.  Some have more invested in training, skills and resources.  Some people work harder, smarter or longer hours.  Some build products demanded in the marketplace and some build GM cars. How do you explain to an Obamist or Naderite that Tiger Woods deserves high pay for his golf and I don't... 

When we focus on disparity we lose out to policies that move in the direction of Marxism, public ownership, and mandated outcomes that don't make economic sense. Inherent in that is that to achieve lower disparity we have to remove or reduce the incentives and rewards to produce especially for the most productive among us and the result is less production, less income, less wealth throughout the economy. But if we can change the argument to whether or not to open pro-growth opportunities, to remove barriers to success, to give all taxpayers a piece of the responsibility for public spending and to recognize that the burden of achievement rests on the individual, then I think we move toward a more free and prosperous society. 

Who would want that?
5258  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Disparity Politics on: October 29, 2008, 12:05:03 AM
From CCP: "there is a growing wealth disparity in the US and if the Republicans do not address this in some fashion they will continue to swim against the demographic currents and may never recover. I don't want to punish successful people... There has to be some other answer to this. Ignoring this has resulted in the Democrat tsunami in my opinion."

"There must be another way to raise the living standards of the majority of Americans who are running in place and indeed slowly slipping behind while that has not been true for the rich.. They can ignore it at their own peril."

"People I think are tired of Reagan's mantra, philosophy and ideals.  They want action.  They want results."
---

It's true that too many Americans feel like they are running in place economically.  I think the reason is because of certain runaway costs rather than low income, an important distinction IMO.  Incomes are high and growing at least until recently. Americans have a median household income of over $50,000. That might be enough to get by if not for runaway costs in certain market segments have been escalated by meddling.  Sectors like energy, housing, healthcare, college tuition and overall tax burden come to mind.  Also I notice a wealth and debt mentality - we have so much access to money we say no to almost nothing.  So we find ourselves strapped.

The point about income and wealth disparity has flaws IMO.

Most obvious is that the Census Bureau pretends to measure poverty but doesn't count non-cash subsidies which can the the bulk of the income for people in programs like section 8, food debit cards, taxpayer health care, subsidized transportation etc etc. So they constantly understate the 'wealth' of the have-nots.

Secondly, there is significant income mobility - it isn't always the same people that are rich and getting richer. Also there is a difference between wealth and income.  Some with low income have wealth and some with high incomes lack accumulations of wealth.

Another flaw is wealth disparity increases when wealth increases and we've just come through about a 24 year boom. Wealth disparity certainly DECREASED during the current collapse of real estate and other investment values.  Disparity is a contrary indicator to wealth creation. 

If Reagan mantras have been worn out lately it's from false use not because they are no longer true.  Even Reagan expanded government in compromise, like a centrist or a pragmatist.

The desire to move up economically and to achieve more personal and family financial security should push people toward pro-growth policies, not leftism, but conservatism has suffered IMO from a leadership and salesmanship gap for a long time. 

McCain keeps trying to fight redistributionism but the clearest words against class envy came from this wise author:

"You shall not covet your neighbour’s house; you shall not covet your neighbour’s wife, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbour." - God
5259  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: October 28, 2008, 11:04:14 PM
Regarding Palin's clothes, I agree it's a PR gaffe, but in context - she had already been ridiculed by the east coast critics for lacking good fashions, not to mention that 2 wars are going on and the world economy is in panic. GM, interesting comparison, will greek-column-gate get 35 times the scrutiny?  I guess not.

SBMig, nice post.  We agree on a lot of it.  I agree the politico piece was a nice addition to the discussion which can get one sided here, especially in the bias thread  smiley.  It's very true that there are plenty of outlets for conservatives - Rush, Hannity, Hugh Hewitt, blogs like Powerline.  The conservative sites have huge followings and fill a void but I wish people would get at least a summary of another view from the mainstream.
5260  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: October 28, 2008, 01:06:38 PM
SB post from Politico?: "...for most journalists, professional obligations trump personal preferences. Most political reporters (investigative journalists tend to have a different psychological makeup) are temperamentally inclined to see multiple sides of a story, and being detached from their own opinions comes relatively easy.

Joking, right??? The main media MISSED nearly all the negative stories and contradictions within the Obama campaign and picked up just a few of them belatedly.  How do they know the polls tell the story if the polls are based on what people read and see through biased coverage.  Was it published ANYWHERE in the mainstream media how much of the drivel from Biden in his debate was false - off by 2000% on his repeated Iraq-Afghanistan cost comparison. "Let me repeat that" Off By 2000%!  Or do we mostly hear that someone spent too much on new clothes for Palin. Where is Obama pounded now for LYING about campaign spending limits, a 3/4 of a BILLION DOLLAR mistake that buys the White House - mostly silence, but the NY Times ran hit piece on Mrs. McCain and another time on some alleged Sen. McCain sex scandal that never turned into anything.  Meanwhile they missed by a year what others carried on the "GOD DAMN AMERICA" pastor disaster.  Was Obama or Biden EVER called on the carpet for use of the false stat that America only has 3% of the world's oil reserves when they only count as reserves the areas where congress already allows drilling? Or that tax increases must be delayed because they will admittedly choke out growth?  If they choke out growth why are they good for us later?  There's a question not likely to be asked by Katie Couric or Charles Gibson. 

I don't know a msm-only reading liberal who even knows that Tony Rezko (convicted felon) owns the Obama's side yard or that ACORN is a leftist political group that was channeled hundreds of thousands of foundation and taxpayer funds through Obama.   I've heard maybe a hundred times, even from McCain himself, of his low finish in school, but never that the Magna Cum Laude candidate picked the bumbling Joe Biden from the bottom 11% of his class. 

Did you see Gibson's interview with Obama June 4 after clinching the nomination: http://abcnews.go.com/WN/story?id=5000184&page=1 "I'm curious about your feelings last night. It was an historic moment. Has it sunk in yet?" :What did she say?"  "do you say to yourself: Son of a gun, I've done this?"  "did you truly, in your gut, think that a black man could win the nomination of a major party to be president of the United States?" "Is the hardest part of all this behind you or ahead of you?" "Has the joyfulness of this hit home yet? Do you take joy from it?"...   Compare the tone with the grilling of Palin.  Maybe I just don't understand professional detachment.
5261  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: October 27, 2008, 12:59:18 PM
CCP: "The fastest way to reduce the costs of health care is to transfer costs to patients."

VERY well put, yet the more we see a cost problem the more we move in the opposite direction.

Same goes for college tuition. 
5262  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: October 26, 2008, 03:53:07 PM
Guiness: "the problem with most redistributionist schemes is that most "wealth" is based on symbols in some account somewhere."

I find that theme more helpful in understanding the mortgage meltdown than for redistribution.  In the mortgage fiasco,  a deed to a property (a piece of paper) or a claim on a deed (a line item on a piece of paper) was packaged with similar and dissimilar items. The new product at each level introduced new risk of uncertainty of product, risk, value and information that worsened the collapse.

Back to redistribution: I think redistribution has 3 main two problems:

1) Redistribution transfers take what would be investment assets away from their most productive use and gives to a consuming class not likely invest at all.  Less invested in capital assets means a lower productivity of labor, lower output and fewer new jobs created.

2) Redistribution  involves raising marginal tax rates on those most able to rearrange their economic activities - incentive to produce and reportnless income; redistribution creates a disincentive to put the resources not yet confiscated to their most productive use  -maybe you will choose to buy a south pacific island instead of investing to build a new plant requiring new jobs.

3) The free lunch mentality injures the recipient.  Look at families with multi-generational welfare and program dependency.  Everything in their lives and neighborhoods can get ripped apart including the moral structure of the family.  The importance of the father and husband - two functional parents - is replaced by (false) security from the state.  Nonproductive activities get encouraged and rewarded, expanded and prolonged for the dependent class.  JMHO.
5263  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Obama Phenomena on: October 24, 2008, 09:49:40 AM
I agree with the Obama concernsfrom Scott Grannis and the additions from Crafty.  Picking out one quote from Scott G: "I acknowledge his depth of (Barack Obama's) intellect..."

Definitely true.  However that means that the sloppy, vague, deceitful and unexplained changes and omissions from the campaign are intentional, not just the fog of war.  For example, 'we will look into offshore drilling and look into nuclear' instead of we will authorize new drilling and authorize new nuclear power plants, 'we will need to look for new sources of revenues' instead of here are the new taxes and fees we will impose, 'we will commit to public financing and limits on campaign spending' followed by 'we will will bury you with money and media', 'tax cuts for 95%' instead of acknowledging only 60-some percent pay anything in the first place and the a tax cut just means we exempt you from the first round of increases, 'capital gains tax increases versions 1, 2, 3 and now 4 depending on results from the latest focus group survey, 'personally pro-life' yet wishing an abortion for his first grandchild so his daughter wouldn't be 'punished with a baby, and of course the television ads that show Obama's national health plan as just a sensible, centrist compromise when his previous words make it clear he wants the full socialist system in place as soon as the public will swallow it.
5264  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Obama Phenomena - Obamanomics on: October 21, 2008, 09:12:46 AM
As the economy heads downward and we look at the ending of this campaign of confusion, let's take a moment to look deeper into the 3-letter word Joe Biden calls 'j-o-b-s'.

Start by looking at the players in our economy. Most Americans don't file a federal tax return of any kind - that includes of course most children, some elderly, disabled along with people who just don't earn or only participate in the underground economy.  Of those who do file a return, more than 30% pay NO federal income tax.  Some other time let's discuss why that happened, but what a travesty.

At the 'rich' end of the spectrum we have people who make over 250,000, might someday make 250,000, plan on saving and investing 250,000 at sometime in their life, or ever plan to own or sell a capital asset.  These people are ugly, filthy, rich and should be stopped, punished and demagogued.  Not my view and I hope I didn't overstate their view - that of Obama, Biden and your favorite local class warfare baiting Democratic congressional member.

From a moral perspective, please tell me why is it okay to forcibly take extra from these people, because you can, to pay your own basic basic living expenses.  It of course isn't.

From an equal rights, equal protection and constitutional perspective, why is it ever okay for the majority to shift their share of the public expense burden over to a minority, no matter how many voters in the majority or how few they can victimize in the minority?  Does that pass YOUR test for consent of the governed???  Not for me, not even close!

What about from an efficiency standpoint in taxation or economic growth, do we really raise more money by putting higher marginal tax rates on those most able to scale down their productive activities?  Of course not.

We have learned over and over and over again that the opposite approach is what grows the economy and grows federal revenues most efficiently.  From the Kennedy tax rate cuts to the Reagan tax rate cuts to the Clinton-Gingrich capital gains tax rate cuts to the Bush tax rates cuts, what happened each time?  Federal revenues surged! (Same for state revenues.)

Now back to the current downturn, this election, the groups of Americans described above and Joe Biden's now-famous 3-letter word called jobs. Who creates jobs? Americans who don't file a return? No. The 30+% that file but pay nothing in federal income taxes? Never.  The majority of hard working, taxpaying Americans who work hard, pay their taxes and eek out a living?  Not Likely.

The new jobs come from people trying to head into that area we call rich.  Those who see a larger opportunity to grow their plumbing business, bakery or blacksmith shop to a higher revenue and income level and see a distinct possibility that the AFTER TAX likely returns are economically worth the enormous hassle, expense and unknown risks associated with adding each new employee.

This economy needs consistent new job creation in the millions.  Do we get there by spreading wealth away from the people who earned it and over to the less productive or is it more effective to allow people some fruit from their labor and to invest more of what they earned back into their own business?

The right answer is obvious from my point of view, but I truly wonder which taxpayers the Obama voters and ACORN members think are going to create new jobs that this economy so desperately needs.

--

Besides raising personal tax rates on the highest producers in the economy, Obama and the Democrats oppose and demagogue McCain's proposal to lower slightly the corporate tax rate which is now the highest in the western, developed world.  In America, successful corporations are taxed at 35%, in Taiwan it is 25%, in Hong Kong it's 16.5% and in Ireland it's 12.5%.  Even 'communist' China lowered its corpate tax rate from 33% to 25% effective just this year.  Why is it such a stretch for the Democratic mind to see that companies that have choices can and will move jobs and operations to a friendlier business climate?

If taxes weren't enough, then look at trade.  While Obama is offering to move economically backward and unilaterally re-write NAFTA (how do you unilaterally change an 'agreement'?), Canada is negotiating it's own new free trade agreement with the European Union.  Trade raises income levels and job prospects on both sides.  Bill Clinton knew that when he partnered with Gingrich and the Republicans to implement the beginning of Reagan's vision of a hemisphere-wide free trading zone, allowing economic freedom, opportunity and prosperity to flourish across borders.  But not Obama.  He comes from and caters to the protectionist, anti growth, furthest left wing of his own party.

The way I see it, it is economically unwise to follow the leadership void of the Bush administration and the excesses and incompetence of both the Republican and Reid-Pelosi-Obama congresses with an economic left turn backwards in time to anti-growth policies while our competitors across the globe have turned pro-growth.  It just doesn't make sense.  - Doug
5265  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Russia - G7 on: October 14, 2008, 10:52:20 PM
Just wanted to note that in this financial crisis we are back to referring to the meeting of the most important economies of the world as "G-7", not G8 (with Russia), even though the Russian stock market has lost 2/3 of its value since May.  A result of the war this August in Georgia?
5266  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: October 12, 2008, 12:34:04 PM
CCP: "I just don't think simply saying we need to cut taxes is enough with BO out there preaching his lies for months with "I am cutting taxes for 90% of the folks in this country". ...The BO campaign has done a MUCH better job of responding to and countering the Repubs arguments than the other way around."

 - Very true.  Barack in his campaign is slick and slippery.  His rhetoric doesn't at all match his record.  If I were a centrist watching this only through mainstream sources I would probably join Obama and fight for hope and change.  McCain should have set up a Bill Clinton style war room from the start and he should have gone ballistic immediately over Democrats blocking reforms on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.  Instead voters think McCain and deregulation brought down the house.  Remarkably, most voters think they will face lower tax rates if Democrats take full control all branches of government.  The way things are going, I wish that were true sad.
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CCP:"McCain either better have a great case to squash the "I am going to cut taxes for 90%", and "what has been done for the last eight years is not working" arguments in this last debate or it is definitely over."

True, he just can't undo later what was allowed to stand for so long as unchallenged fact. 

This week allegedly McCain will unveil a 'new' economic plan.  Even if he gets it perfectly right economically, he can only be perceived as a) pandering, b) desperate, c) unsteady in his leadership and d) irresponsible to the deficit and future generations.

My wish was to have an honest and consistent liberal run against an honest and consistent conservative and have them each strenuously argue their case to the people.  Instead we have confusion-economics on both sides selling to a confused electorate.
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CCP: "Are there more small business owners than government employees, union people, and immigrants who come in a jump on the dole bandwagon (of course not all of them - but enough)?  I doubt it.  McCain is preaching to the minority.  BO is preaching to the majority.   End of story."

 - You are obviously right in terms of numbers of voters.  The counterpoint is that hurting your employer or taking down ANY major sector of our economy will hurt you and your family no matter who you are. Workers and even welfare recipients share the economy with investment capital, investors and business owners. My union friends who worked for Northwest airlines, like the GM workers in Michael Moore's movie, always had an 'us versus them', worker versus ownership attitude.  Bringing down those businesses and damaging those investments wasn't helpful to those jobs. Same goes for the current market collapse.  Someone needs to articulate win-win choices to counter the us versus them, class envy politics.  McCain hasn't done that.

There is no narrative that runs through the McCain campaign.   The economy should be America's biggest strength and whoever is the Republican nominee should be out front leading the charge.  Instead, McCain is that hoping unknown events in the next 23 days will change the subject.
5267  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: October 11, 2008, 12:00:10 AM
We have the credit crunch and we have the stock (and real estate) sell-offs.  Therefore one caused the other??? Not necessarily.  I would add in the other development of the day, that Democrats are about to take over the House, Senate - perhaps the magic 60 vote senate, the Presidency (and of course the Supreme Court).

Obama isn't going to lower marginal tax rates for anyone as near as I can tell. He just going to 'let' some keep their Bush tax cut, but not for the people he thinks are "rich" enough already.

Obama IS going to dramatically raise the capital gains tax rate, so you are now RICH if you have investments you ever want to sell.

Obama is also hellbent on keeping our tax rate on employers at the second highest rate of the developed world. For a basketball player, you would think he would shy away from having his team compete with heavy ankle weights.

Soaking the rich sounds great unless you happen to share an economy with them.

Let's say you are 'rich' and you know that Democrats are taking over government next year. You know they will double or at least increase significantly the tax rate on capital gains next year depending on which version of the Obama tax plan you think is the real one. What would you do? What should you do???

First thought would be to to sell off your assets on the last day before the rate increase goes into effect. But that isn't good enough because everyone else will sell off their assets first - as soon as they smell an electoral victory for the party who wants to punish wealth and achievement. So if you want to sell off your assets - real estate, stocks, whatever, you need to get to the front of the line and sell faster, harder and sooner than the other investors, before the values plummet from the rush to sell.

So, how is your 401k looking as regime change in America starts to take shape?

Blame it all on Bush if you want but investment decisions are based on the outlook for future, AFTER-TAX returns, not on the past. As Obama's election goes from possible to certain, all I see is a mad rush of investors to the exit. And they all got ahead of me! The only real question is - why are we all so surprised???
5268  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Girl Fight on: October 07, 2008, 10:18:49 AM
I thought some here might enjoy this article, current cover story of City Pages the free weekly entertainment publication of Minneapolis.  Normally they cover things more like metrosexual interests and how far to the right congressman Kieth Ellison has drifted.

http://www.citypages.com/2008-10-01/news/gina-carano-kelly-kobald-and-kaitlin-young-fight-for-mainstream-acceptance
5269  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues, moderator bias on: October 06, 2008, 09:31:41 AM
I mentioned Gwen Ifill's bias annoying in the VP debate  Thanks to the American Thinker for taking the time to go ack over the questions and analyze what we all witnessed:

http://www.americanthinker.com/2008/10/gwen_ifills_vp_debate_bias.html

Gwen Ifill's VP Debate Bias
By Lee Cary
A careful reading of the questions Gwen Ifill asked during the VP debate reveals several that displayed her bias.

The revelation that PBS's Gwen Ifill plans to release a book on Barack Obama on Inauguration Day raised the suspicion that her moderator role at the VP debate might be other than objective. It was. The evidence of her bias is evident in several of her questions to the candidates. Below are a few examples.

The Forced-Choice Question

The forced-choice question aims to force an answer from a choice of options defined by the interviewer. For example, in the early stages of the Afghanistan War, the late Peter Jennings asked Pervez Musharraf, then President of Pakistan, if the United States in Afghanistan was "bombing too much or too little."

It was a classic forced-choice question designed to create one of two headlines: "Musharraf Criticizes American for Bombing Too Much," or "...Too Little."  Mr. Jennings intended to create controversy because controversy sells. Musharraf wisely dodged the question.

During the VP debate, Ifill used forced-choice questions to further her biases. Here's one:

    "As America watches these things [Congress struggling with the bailout bill] happen on Capital Hill, Senator Biden, was this the worse of Washington or the best of Washington that we saw play out?"

Honestly now, how many sane, reasonable people see the bailout ordeal as representing the "best" of Washington?

It was a tee-up question for Biden. He said, "neither the best nor worse," but it was, he said, a reflection of the bad economic policies of "the last eight years." In other words, it was the worse of Washington on the Bush-Republican side.

What would an un-bias question in this venue sound like? How about this: As America watches theses things happen on Capital Hill, what should they reasonably expect to be the outcome, and its impact on their lives?

Here's another example of an Ifill forced-choice question:

    "Who do you think was at fault? I start with you, Governor Palin. Was it the greedy lenders?  Was it the risky home-buyers who shouldn't have been buying a home in the first place? And what should you be doing about it?"

Notice the choice not on the list -- Congressionally driven Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac policies that forced banks to make loans to people who had no ability to repay them.

Governor Palin accepted the Ifill choices and blamed ‘predator lenders" and Wall Street "greed" and "corruption." 

The Bias-Premised Question

Ifill asked,

    "Senator Biden, how, as vice president, would you work to shrink this gap of polarization which has sprung up in Washington, which you both have spoken about here tonight."

The key twin concepts in that question are "polarization" and "sprung up." The implied bias is that during the Bush administration polarization "sprung up."

Ifill is a smart, educated women. She knows that partisan polarization has been part of Washington since the death of the man the city's named after. She also knows that when the House voted on the first version of the bailout bill, many Democrats voted against it.  The "polarization" over the bailout wasn't based on political parties. It was based on economic free-market philosophy. 

Here's another Ifill bias-premised question:

    "Governor and Senator, I want you both to respond to this. Secretaries of State Baker, Kissinger, Powell, they have all advocated some level of engagement with enemies. Do you think these former secretaries of state are wrong on that?"

This was a back-door effort to support Barak Obama's "no preconditions" statement made during his nomination campaign. Ifill's bias is that there's nothing wrong with what Obama said.

Ifill knows that, diplomatically, "some level of engagement with enemies" goes on all the time, often through back channels using third parties. The idea that we don't communicate with our enemies is a Beltway media myth.

Hers was a cleverly formed question, since a "no" answer to the closed-ended query (a "yes" or "no" type question) with which it ends (Do you think...?) would sustain the notion that what Obama said is consistent with, and analogous to, what the former Secretaries of State say. Ifill uses the question to establish conceptual parity without the opportunity to challenge the premise.

(Peter Jennings tied this tactic once with General Tommy Franks, and Franks made Jennings, unaccustomed to being challenged, sit up straight in his chair by saying, "Peter, I don't accept the premise of your question.")

Here's another example of a biased question.

    "Governor, you mentioned a moment ago the Constitution might give the vice president more power than it has in the past.  Do you believe as Vice President Cheney does, that the Executive Branch does not hold complete sway over the office of the vice presidency, that it is also a member of the Legislative Branch?"

Out of left field, Ifill interjects the man Democrats love to hate, Dick Cheney, into the debate. She attributes an unexplained and unsubstantiated interpretation of the Constitution to Cheney, and then asks Palin to defend or attack that interpretation.  (What interpretation?)

It was a question designed to trap Palin, akin to Charlie Gibson's "Bush Doctrine" question.  Palin gave a one sentence non-committal answer, and then moved away from the topic. The question gave Biden another chance to demonize Cheney, and display his strikingly faulty understanding of when the VP presides over the Senate.  He said,

    "The only authority the vice president has from the legislative standpoint is the vote, only when there is a tie vote. He has no authority relative to the Congress."

Say what? This notion when unchallenged by Ifill. Article II, Section 3 of the Constitution reads:

    "The Vice President of the United States shall be President of the Senate, but shall have no Vote, unless they be equally divided.

    "The Senate shall choose their other Officers, and also a President pro tempore, in the absence of the Vice President, or when he shall exercise the Office of President of the United States."

Cheney, and other Vice Presidents, could sit up on the platform and preside over the Senate every time it's in session, but they've other things to do.  This is Biden's "no authority" interpretation.

Here's another example of a bias-premised question from Ifill.

    "Let's come full circle. You both want to bring both sides together. You both talk about bipartisanship. Once again, we saw what happened this week in Washington. How do you change the tone, as vice president, as number two?"

Surely Ifill noticed that both support and opposition to the bailout bill was "bipartisan" in that members of both parties voted both for and against it. And surely she noticed that the most inflammatory language of that week was voiced by Speaker Pelosi when she called Republicans "unpatriotic" (but had no public name-calling for her initial 95 Democrat "no" votes). 

One last example under this category of bias-premised questions:

    "[To Biden] Do you support, as they do in Alaska, granting same-sex benefits to couples."

This question was designed to get the attention of the conservative Republican base in order to erode Palin's favor there.  Palin noticed that and made a point of saying,

    "But I will tell Americans straight up that I don't support defining marriage as anything but between one man and one woman, and I think through nuances we can go around and round about what that actually means."

Ask yourself this question: What influence does the Vice President have on individual state marriage policies that would warrant this question in a VP debate? The answer is - none. It was all about attempting to embarrass Palin before the GOP base.

The Contrived Dichotomy Question

Listen for the contrived dichotomy buried in this convoluted question from Ifill.

    "Senator Biden, we want to talk about taxes, let's talk about taxes. You proposed raising taxes on people who earn over $250,000 a year. The question for you is, why is that not class warfare and the same question for you, Governor Palin, is you have proposed a tax employer health benefits which some studies say would actually throw five million more people onto the roles of the uninsured. I want to know why that isn't taking things out on the poor, starting with you, Senator Biden."

Nevermind Ifill's specious citation of an unnamed, uncertified source as "some studies." (What studies?)  Note the dichotomy she creates within her question: Biden wants to tax the rich versus Palin wants to take health insurance away from the poor.   

Another tee-up for Biden. He begins his answer with,

    "Well Gwen, where I come from, it's called fairness, just simple fairness."

Conclusion

To conclude that Gwen Ifill's moderating efforts displayed through her questions were without bias requires a willing suspension of disbelief.

Her moderator performance represents another sad day for America's entrenched, and ever less objective, television journalism.
5270  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: ACORN on: October 06, 2008, 12:14:12 AM
My original point in starting this thread was just to expose what an extreme leftwing group they are, how amazingly powerful they are, how anti-capitalism, freedom and market economy they are, along with the corruption and voter fraud issue.  The timing hit the forefront with the Obama candidacy as his career and political views are intertwined with ACORN.  The issue of ACORN is separate from Obama just in the sense that ACORN precedes him and will live on and regardless of how this one disciple fairs in this year's election.

The heart of my beef is just that they represent a political view opposite to my own.  God Bless their right to organize and espouse Marxist views.

Then I see a Michelle Malkin column alleging that 40% of their funding comes from taxpayers.  Now I'm mad.  Looking at Michelle's achive, I see that she has been all over this group and Obama's shady involvement with them.
-------------
http://michellemalkin.com/2008/06/25/the-acorn-obama-knows/
The ACORN Obama knows
By Michelle Malkin

My syndicated column today spotlights the whistleblower report on ACORN, which I’ve been blogging about (here) and which deserves more attention in the media and in Washington–especially in light of the radical activist group’s embrace of Barack Obama. The Consumer Rights League e-mailed to let me know that three GOP congressmen (Hensarling, Feeney, and Royce) have called on Barney Frank (D-Housing Boondoggle) to investigate ACORN’s taxpayer abuses. Snowball’s chance, I know, but conservatives ought to be turning up the heat and using every ounce of energy they have to, well, act like conservatives and push to de-fund the Left.

For excellent background on Obama and ACORN, see Stanley Kurtz’s NR piece here, plus City Journal pieces here and here. Also here and here.

If you don’t know what ACORN (the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) is all about, you better bone up. This left-wing group takes in 40 percent of its revenues from American taxpayers — you and me — and has leveraged nearly four decades of government subsidies to fund affiliates that promote the welfare state and undermine capitalism and self-reliance, some of which have been implicated in perpetuating illegal immigration and encouraging voter fraud. A new whistleblower report from the Consumer Rights League documents how Chicago-based ACORN has commingled public tax dollars with political projects.

Who in Washington will fight to ensure that your money isn’t being spent on these radical activities?

Don’t bother asking Barack Obama. He cut his ideological teeth working with ACORN as a “community organizer” and legal representative. Naturally, ACORN’s political action committee has warmly endorsed his presidential candidacy. According to ACORN, Obama trained its Chicago members in leadership seminars; in turn, ACORN volunteers worked on his campaigns. Obama also sat on the boards of the Woods Fund and Joyce Foundation, both of which poured money into ACORN’s coffers. ACORN head Maude Hurd gushes that Obama is the candidate who “best understands and can affect change on the issues ACORN cares about” — like ensuring their massive pipeline to your hard-earned money.

Let’s take a closer look at the ACORN Obama knows.

Last July, ACORN settled the largest case of voter fraud in the history of Washington State. Seven ACORN workers had submitted nearly 2,000 bogus voter registration forms. According to case records, they flipped through phone books for names to use on the forms, including “Leon Spinks,” “Frekkie Magoal” and “Fruto Boy Crispila.” Three ACORN election hoaxers pleaded guilty in October. A King County prosecutor called ACORN’s criminal sabotage “an act of vandalism upon the voter rolls.”

The group’s vandalism on electoral integrity is systemic. ACORN has been implicated in similar voter fraud schemes in Missouri, Ohio and at least 12 other states. The Wall Street Journal noted: “In Ohio in 2004, a worker for one affiliate was given crack cocaine in exchange for fraudulent registrations that included underage voters, dead voters and pillars of the community named Mary Poppins, Dick Tracy and Jive Turkey. During a congressional hearing in Ohio in the aftermath of the 2004 election, officials from several counties in the state explained ACORN’s practice of dumping thousands of registration forms in their lap on the submission deadline, even though the forms had been collected months earlier.”

In March, Philadelphia elections officials accused the nonprofit advocacy group of filing fraudulent voter registrations in advance of the April 22nd Pennsylvania primary. The charges have been forwarded to the city district attorney’s office.

Under the guise of “consumer advocacy,” ACORN has lined its pockets. The Department of Housing and Urban Development funds hundreds, if not thousands, of left-wing “anti-poverty” groups across the country led by ACORN. Last October, HUD announced more than $44 million in new housing counseling grants to over 400 state and local efforts. The White House has increased funding for housing counseling by 150 percent since taking office in 2001, despite the role most of these recipients play as activist satellites of the Democratic Party. The AARP scored nearly $400,000 for training; the National Council of La Raza (”The Race”) scooped up more than $1.3 million; the National Urban League raked in nearly $1 million; and the ACORN Housing Corporation received more than $1.6 million.

As the Consumer Rights League points out in its new expose, the ACORN Housing Corporation has worked to obtain mortgages for illegal aliens in partnership with Citibank. It relies on undocumented income, “under the table” money, which may not be reported to the Internal Revenue Service. Moreover, the group’s “financial justice” operations attack lenders for “exotic” loans, while recommending 10-year interest-only loans (which deny equity to the buyer) and risky reverse mortgages. Whistleblower documents reveal internal discussions among the group that blur the lines between its tax-exempt housing work and its aggressive electioneering activities. The group appears to shake down corporate interests with relentless PR attacks, and then enters “no lobby” agreements with targeted corporations after receiving payment.

Republicans have largely looked the other way as ACORN has expanded its government-funded empire. But finally, a few conservative voices in Congress have called for investigation of the group’s apparent extortion schemes. This week, GOP Reps. Tom Feeney, Jeb Hensarling and Ed Royce called on Democrat Barney Frank, chair of the House Financial Services Committee, to convene a hearing to probe potential illegalities and abuse of taxpayer funds by ACORN’s management and minions alike.

Where does the candidate of Hope and Change — the candidate of Reform and New Politics — stand on the issue? Barack Obama, ACORN’s senator, is for more of the same old, same old subsidizing of far-left politics in the name of fighting for the poor while enriching ideological cronies. It’s the Chicago way.
   
   


    * Location: By Michelle Malkin
5271  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: October 05, 2008, 11:24:37 PM
"Does everyone deserve the same level of healthcare?"

Of course that could mean does everyone deserve mediocre care or does everyone deserve the health care of royalty, free back massages, tummy tucks, costly experimental meds, you name it.  And do they deserve it to be free or paid by someone else.

To make the answer - yes - I would ask it differently, does everyone in this country deserve the right to choose and purchase health care from the same menu of choices and costs?

Does everyone deserve to live in the largest mansion?  Does everyone deserve oceanfront property? Does everyone deserve to dine in the same restaurant? Every night of the week?  No, you have to earn, save and choose the best. Or you can make other choices.  Some would rather live a block from the ocean and put the rest of the money toward something else.   Does everyone deserve admittance to the best college?  Does every golfer deserve Tiger's winnings? Does every man deserve to sleep with the planet's most beautiful woman?

We guarantee 'same' level of health care only by banning above average care. How does that make us better off?

Health Care is more equal in Europe but survival rates for the most likely ailments you could face are far worse:
http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/561737
"Survival was significantly higher in the United States (than Europe) for all solid tumors, except testicular, stomach, and soft-tissue cancer, the authors report. The greatest differences were seen in the major cancer sites: colon and rectum (56.2% in Europe vs 65.5% in the United States), breast (79.0% vs 90.1%), and prostate cancer (77.5% vs 99.3%),
5272  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Environmental issues on: October 05, 2008, 10:52:44 PM
"Natural oil seeps put more oil into water sources than anything humans do."

I was going to post the same in the form of a question.  The context of these spills requires knowing about spills and seepage that occur in nature without the help of man.

I agree that no one has a stronger desire to avoid the spill more than the owner of the oil.  Like airlines and crashes, oil spills are bad for business.

You can punish an oil company for spilling and you can punish a toddler for putting his hand on a hot stove, but the direct consequence is probably more effective.
5273  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Palin phenomenon - debate comments on: October 04, 2008, 02:35:44 PM
I disagree with the good comments about Gwen Ifill. She did as well as most and as well as Tom Brokaw will do, but she annoyed me at times.  No one of recent memory matches the neutrality that Jim Lehrer projects IMO.

The comments about Palin going on without directly addressing the question are true and she explained early that she would do that.  Normally that bothers me.  Given her awareness of the bias of the moderator, the limitations of time etc. I found that to be a nicer way of handling the situation instead wasting time explaining what she didn't like about a question or answering every petty attack from the opponent. The moderator is a form of filter steering the conversation just as ABC and CBS filter by choosing which clips to play from long interviews.  90 minutes in a debate sounds like enough but the candidates had a limited time to say what they wanted to say to the voters.  Palin covered her views on tax policy, energy, health care, Russia, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Israel etc. very well. Also she presented a compelling case for her top of the ticket, made important distinctions between  McCain and Obama and even made telling distinctions between Biden and Obama.

In the first Pres. debate question, the most complicated economic issue of our time was brought up, then Jim Lehrer said 'you have 2 minutes'.  What a joke! If they can't adjust rules for candidates to address the crisis and bailout of the century, then the preparations and strategies for debates have to be adjusted to the format which is a time slot barely longer than a commercial.

At the end Palin hinted to 'Joe' that she would be up for more of this, presumably meaning without Gwen Ifill and the timer.  There is no way in hell that Obama will allow Biden to do that, especially since they lead at this point in the race.  For all the complaints about not enough time, not enough answers and not enough back and forth, it's too bad that political considerations trump the public's right to know.
5274  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: October 04, 2008, 09:13:37 AM
"Lets say I don't have health care because I can't afford it. Would socialized health care be better or worse for me?"
---------
Free lunch may taste good, but in the long view, I think you are worse off.  Just my opinion.  It really depends on how you feel about mandating someone else to pay your basic living expenses.

'Can't afford it' has two components, income and the (artificially) high cost of health care.  Poor people in America already have free health care.  It's amazing to see how they use the money they save on other things.

Why are health care expenses artificially high?  Third party pay.  There is a disconnect between the user of the service and the payer of the service that removes market spending discipline. Price is the most efficient way of allocating a scarce resource.  Unfortunately, the more important the resource the more we turn to less efficient methods.
5275  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Palin phenomenon on: October 03, 2008, 08:25:30 PM
Replying to the Biden mis-speaks in the Palin-Biden debate, thanks for the short list.  May I add something else scary he said.  Bankruptcy court should write down the interest AND THE PRINCIPLE on mortgages.  Do liberals no longer believe in binding contracts between consenting adults? In his miserable legal training did they not teach him about choice of remedies.  They are supposed to get the house back or get the money.  Why else would you call it a secured loan? Personal loans that are not secured against real estate are not tax deductible.  Did everyone just lose their home interest deduction?
5276  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race, moderator bias: "The Age of Obama"? on: October 01, 2008, 12:14:43 AM
Thursday's VP debate will be moderated by Gwen Ifill who according to Michelle Malkin is a bit invested in an Obama victory.  http://michellemalkin.com/

The title of Ifill’s book “Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama.”Release date: Inauguration Day.  Nonpartisan my foot.

Ifill’s publisher, Random House, is already busy hyping the book with YouTube clips of Ifill heaping praise on her subjects, including Obama and Obama-endorsing Mass. Governor Deval Patrick. The official promo for the book gushes:

    “In The Breakthrough, veteran journalist Gwen Ifill surveys the American political landscape, shedding new light on the impact of Barack Obama’s stunning presidential campaign and introducing the emerging young African American politicians forging a bold new path to political power…Drawing on interviews with power brokers like Senator Obama, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, Vernon Jordan, the Reverend Jesse Jackson, and many others, as well as her own razor-sharp observations and analysis of such issues as generational conflict and the ‘black enough’ conundrum, Ifill shows why this is a pivotal moment in American history.”

Ifill and her publisher are banking on an Obama/Biden win to buoy her book sales. The moderator expected to treat both sides fairly has grandiosely declared this the “Age of Obama.” Can you imagine a right-leaning journalist writing a book about the “stunning” McCain campaign and its “bold” path to reform timed for release on Inauguration Day – and then expecting a slot as a moderator for the nation’s sole vice presidential debate?
5277  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The electoral process, vote fraud, SEIU/ACORN et al, corruption etc. on: September 30, 2008, 12:19:15 PM
ACORN was mentioned by Crafty in the voter fraud discussion, but not normally named by Obama as the group where he built his career community-organizing.  This group deserves its own DB topic IMO beyond its connection to the 'Obama phenomenon'.

My awareness of ACORN started with reading the fliers they give to tenants in inner city neighborhoods espousing a philosophy let's say that is different than mine, or of freedom, property rights, or individual responsibility.

On election 2004 in south Minneapolis, I had a personal run-in with them.  They tried all but physically to drag me off a roof to register and vote (in a precinct where I don't live).  They just couldn't take no for an answer.  I was refusing to tell them whether or not I had already voted asserting that it was a private matter and they kept trying to clarify that the question was whether or not I had voted, not who I would vote for.  I kept replying that I understood the question perfectly and still considered it very much a private matter.  At the point where I should have demanded they leave, I realized I was keeping them for the rest of their blockwork for as long as they cared to obsess on me.  It became quite a scene.  Quite clearly you could tell that their organization assignment was to not take no for an answer.  They wanted 100% turnout - or better...

ACORN is also tied to the mortgage meltdown as forced 'community reinvestment' anti-capitalism is part of their mission.
---
Relevant NY Post story yesterday: "BARACK'S 'ORGANIZER' BUDS PUSHED FOR BAD MORTGAGES"

http://www.nypost.com/seven/09292008/postopinion/opedcolumnists/os_dangerous_pals_131216.htm?page=0

By STANLEY KURTZ

September 29, 2008

WHAT exactly does a "community organizer" do? Barack Obama's rise has left many Americans asking themselves that question. Here's a big part of the answer: Community organizers intimidate banks into making high-risk loans to customers with poor credit.

In the name of fairness to minorities, community organizers occupy private offices, chant inside bank lobbies, and confront executives at their homes - and thereby force financial institutions to direct hundreds of millions of dollars in mortgages to low-credit customers.

In other words, community organizers help to undermine the US economy by pushing the banking system into a sinkhole of bad loans. And Obama has spent years training and funding the organizers who do it.

THE seeds of today's financial meltdown lie in the Community Reinvestment Act - a law passed in 1977 and made riskier by unwise amendments and regulatory rulings in later decades.

CRA was meant to encourage banks to make loans to high-risk borrowers, often minorities living in unstable neighborhoods. That has provided an opening to radical groups like ACORN (the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) to abuse the law by forcing banks to make hundreds of millions of dollars in "subprime" loans to often uncreditworthy poor and minority customers.

Any bank that wants to expand or merge with another has to show it has complied with CRA - and approval can be held up by complaints filed by groups like ACORN.

In fact, intimidation tactics, public charges of racism and threats to use CRA to block business expansion have enabled ACORN to extract hundreds of millions of dollars in loans and contributions from America's financial institutions.

Banks already overexposed by these shaky loans were pushed still further in the wrong direction when government-sponsored Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac began buying up their bad loans and offering them for sale on world markets.

Fannie and Freddie acted in response to Clinton administration pressure to boost homeownership rates among minorities and the poor. However compassionate the motive, the result of this systematic disregard for normal credit standards has been financial disaster.

ONE key pioneer of ACORN's subprime-loan shakedown racket was Madeline Talbott - an activist with extensive ties to Barack Obama. She was also in on the ground floor of the disastrous turn in Fannie Mae's mortgage policies.

Long the director of Chicago ACORN, Talbott is a specialist in "direct action" - organizers' term for their militant tactics of intimidation and disruption. Perhaps her most famous stunt was leading a group of ACORN protesters breaking into a meeting of the Chicago City Council to push for a "living wage" law, shouting in defiance as she was arrested for mob action and disorderly conduct. But her real legacy may be her drive to push banks into making risky mortgage loans.

In February 1990, Illinois regulators held what was believed to be the first-ever state hearing to consider blocking a thrift merger for lack of compliance with CRA. The challenge was filed by ACORN, led by Talbott. Officials of Bell Federal Savings and Loan Association, her target, complained that ACORN pressure was undermining its ability to meet strict financial requirements it was obligated to uphold and protested being boxed into an "affirmative-action lending policy." The following years saw Talbott featured in dozens of news stories about pressuring banks into higher-risk minority loans.

IN April 1992, Talbott filed an other precedent-setting com plaint using the "community support requirements" of the 1989 savings-and-loan bailout, this time against Avondale Federal Bank for Savings. Within a month, Chicago ACORN had organized its first "bank fair" at Malcolm X College and found 16 Chicago-area financial institutions willing to participate.

Two months later, aided by ACORN organizer Sandra Maxwell, Talbott announced plans to conduct demonstrations in the lobbies of area banks that refused to attend an ACORN-sponsored national bank "summit" in New York. She insisted that banks show a commitment to minority lending by lowering their standards on downpayments and underwriting - for example, by overlooking bad credit histories.

By September 1992, The Chicago Tribune was describing Talbott's program as "affirmative-action lending" and ACORN was issuing fact sheets bragging about relaxations of credit standards that it had won on behalf of minorities.

And Talbott continued her effort to, as she put it, drag banks "kicking and screaming" into high-risk loans. A September 1993 story in The Chicago Sun-Times presents her as the leader of an initiative in which five area financial institutions (including two of her former targets, now plainly cowed - Bell Federal Savings and Avondale Federal Savings) were "participating in a $55 million national pilot program with affordable-housing group ACORN to make mortgages for low- and moderate-income people with troubled credit histories."

What made this program different from others, the paper added, was the participation of Fannie Mae - which had agreed to buy up the loans. "If this pilot program works," crowed Talbott, "it will send a message to the lending community that it's OK to make these kind of loans."

Well, the pilot program "worked," and Fannie Mae's message that risky loans to minorities were "OK" was sent. The rest is financial-meltdown history.

IT would be tough to find an "on the ground" community organizer more closely tied to the subprime-mortgage fiasco than Madeline Talbott. And no one has been more supportive of Madeline Talbott than Barack Obama.

When Obama was just a budding community organizer in Chicago, Talbott was so impressed that she asked him to train her personal staff.

He returned to Chicago in the early '90s, just as Talbott was starting her pressure campaign on local banks. Chicago ACORN sought out Obama's legal services for a "motor voter" case and partnered with him on his 1992 "Project VOTE" registration drive.

In those years, he also conducted leadership-training seminars for ACORN's up-and-coming organizers. That is, Obama was training the army of ACORN organizers who participated in Madeline Talbott's drive against Chicago's banks.

More than that, Obama was funding them. As he rose to a leadership role at Chicago's Woods Fund, he became the most powerful voice on the foundation's board for supporting ACORN and other community organizers. In 1995, the Woods Fund substantially expanded its funding of community organizers - and Obama chaired the committee that urged and managed the shift.

That committee's report on strategies for funding groups like ACORN features all the key names in Obama's organizer network. The report quotes Talbott more than any other figure; Sandra Maxwell, Talbott's ACORN ally in the bank battle, was also among the organizers consulted.

MORE, the Obama-supervised Woods Fund report ac knowledges the problem of getting donors and foundations to contribute to radical groups like ACORN - whose confrontational tactics often scare off even liberal donors and foundations.

Indeed, the report brags about pulling the wool over the public's eye. The Woods Fund's claim to be "nonideological," it says, has "enabled the Trustees to make grants to organizations that use confrontational tactics against the business and government 'establishments' without undue risk of being criticized for partisanship."

Hmm. Radicalism disguised by a claim to be postideological. Sound familiar?

The Woods Fund report makes it clear Obama was fully aware of the intimidation tactics used by ACORN's Madeline Talbott in her pioneering efforts to force banks to suspend their usual credit standards. Yet he supported Talbott in every conceivable way. He trained her personal staff and other aspiring ACORN leaders, he consulted with her extensively, and he arranged a major boost in foundation funding for her efforts.

And, as the leader of another charity, the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, Obama channeled more funding Talbott's way - ostensibly for education projects but surely supportive of ACORN's overall efforts.

In return, Talbott proudly announced her support of Obama's first campaign for state Senate, saying, "We accept and respect him as a kindred spirit, a fellow organizer."

IN short, to understand the roots of the subprime-mort gage crisis, look to ACORN's Madeline Talbott. And to see how Talbott was able to work her mischief, look to Barack Obama.

Then you'll truly know what community organizers do.
5278  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants, government's failed meddling in housing markets on: September 30, 2008, 10:52:45 AM
Fannie Mae bragged to Dems through the Black Congressional Caucus about (bad) loans made into the community that were based on race and location rather than credit worthiness and the value of the asset. That's my read on the statement in this video as the meddlers and the buffoons are caught congratulating each other about bad lending practices:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=usvG-s_Ssb0

It's amazing that Republicans and objective media (an unfortunate oxymoron) can't identify the policies and the people that got us to collapse BEFORE they ask us to pay our way out.  Bush, McCain et al all put a higher priority on making nice and forging deals instead of straight talk and consequences.  Result: Bush takes the blame and the McCain candidacy is punished by association while the Obama political philosophy is a perfect match with the programs that already failed.  So we learn nothing and move on.

The "Community Reinvestment Act" should have been a welfare program subject to their own 'pay as you go rules' and transparency to the public and the taxpayer instead of fraudulently hidden and bundled with pretend private market investments.

It isn't 'affordable housing' when you put people into housing they can't afford. 

The direct result of these phony and fraudulent investments is to artificially drive up 'values' making the community that already lacks sufficient income and work ethic even LESS affordable to those not receiving the phony subsidy, like an honest homeowner who plans to pay the entire 30 year loan.

So who were these heroic politicians and what were their arguments as the congressional committees faced off with the regulators as the writing started to become visible on the wall in 2004-2005?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_MGT_cSi7Rs&eurl=http://www.redstate.com/

Maxine Waters D-Calif.: Through nearly a dozen hearings, we were frankly trying to fix something that wasn’t broke. Mr. Chairman, we do not have a crisis at Freddie Mac, and particularly at Fannie Mae, under the outstanding leadership of Franklin Raines (Obama adviser who barely avoided prosecution for fraud.)

Gregory Meeks D-NY: … I’m just pissed off at OFHEO [the regulators trying to warn Congress of insolvency at the GSEs], because if it wasn’t for you, I don’t think we’d be here in the first place. … There’s been nothing that indicated that’s wrong with Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac has come up on its own … The question that then comes up is the competence that your agency has with reference to deciding and regulating these GSEs.

Lacy Clay D-MO: This hearing is about the political lynching of Franklin Raines. (White House budget director under President Bill Clinton received 91.1 million from the corrupt GSE)

Barney Frank: I don’t see anything in this report that raises safety and soundness problems. (Now blames Bush and Republicans for "deregulation"!)
--

If I have to watch political commercials this autumn, I would like to see these sleazy characters on screen across the fruited plain in their own words, not just letting a few videos stay hidden on right wing internet sites.

PMI - Private Mortgage Insurance - is where you charge people extra for making a loan they can already ill-afford.  As a landlord I know extremely well that charging extra to high risk applicants with lousy finances does NOT cause you to collect more money.  The AIG failure was based on this phony scheme that lenders mandated on borrowers to compensate for their own bad lending practices.  Now we own it.  Good grief.

Whenever you hear terms like GSE's Government Supported Enterprises, and Public-Private Partnerships, please holler, scream, protest, vomit and consult your own copy of the constitution to see how far we have gone astray. Which article in the constitution (not the equal protection clause) establishes the proper role of government to partner up with selected businesses to make extraordinary amounts money and pay friends and contributors bonuses before fall belly up due to the lack any semblance of profit and loss market discipline or requirement to compete to succeed.

Opponents of markets and freedom (see above) always pick out failures in the LEAST free of markets - healthcare, housing, college tuition, energy - to show that market capitalism can't be trusted and must be 'overseen' by jackasses like we see in the committee meeting video linked above.

Foreclosure, the right of the lender to take back the property, the process that politicians like Hillary, Obama, and the congress want to stop is the cornerstone of home ownership.  Without it, ordinary people could not 'own' their own home and pay for it over their income producing years.  A mortgage is a claim against the property - the right to foreclose and take back.  That right is almost non-existent with the statutory delays and restrictions from the wisdom of our 'regulators'.  The period of time a lender is forced to wait under smart regulations should be at least partly dependent on the amount of equity ownership that the borrower paid or accumulated.  In cases where the borrower has NO money at stake and the lender is carrying all the risk, the grace period for missing a payment should be measured in minutes.  Then out they go.  JMHO.
5279  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: September 24, 2008, 10:59:55 AM
"The Republican Party ...mass voter-registration challenges and thereby offers a powerful opportunity to suppress the vote in Democrat-leaning districts."

A challenge to my voter registration would be met swiftly with proof of identity, eligibility and residency to vote.  I don't know Macomb County, but the story also refers to Wisconsin which has been victim of massive voter fraud operations and razor thin Democratic victories.  What is cynical about attacking known fraud.

http://www.jsonline.com/story/index.aspx?id=324933  Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Inquiry finds evidence of fraud in election
Cast ballots outnumber voters by 4,609

Investigators said Tuesday they found clear evidence of fraud in the Nov. 2 election in Milwaukee, including more than 200 cases of felons voting illegally and more than 100 people who voted twice, used fake names or false addresses or voted in the name of a dead person.

Officials said charges will be filed in coming weeks, as individual cases are reviewed and more evidence is gathered.

Nonetheless, it is likely that many - perhaps most - of those who committed fraud won't face prosecution because city records are so sloppy that it will be difficult to establish cases that will stand up in court.

And even now, three months after the investigation, officials have not been able to close a gap of 7,000 votes, with more ballots cast than voters listed. Officials said the gap remains at 4,609.


5280  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Obama Phenomena on: September 18, 2008, 09:32:11 AM
Thanks for posting links to Michelle's thesis.  They did a nice job of getting this out without fanfare; this has been available since March? I read it along with the commentary. Overall, it is a very boring read.  It is mostly a math study trying to find relationships among a number of variables she created.  The main impression I get is that the student had to make up a study about something so a lot of tedious writing is just the course requirement.  If all this was out of genuine curiosity I would scared about how race obsessed it is.  I don't know anything about race at Princeton at that time but it strikes me as odd that everything is black or white, not Asian, Arab or Hispanic for example.  Of course that would have made the study more complex but it seems everyone non-black is called white.

When blacks assimilate and join whites in society, she would still call it white culture, not mixed.

One main curiosity in the study is how a variety of variables affect the motivation of Princeton educated blacks to go back and help lower class blacks in black neighborhoods.  Not much is concluded. The political question would be how you would help lower class blacks but that is not part of the study.

In getting to know the Obamas, the next thing I would like to study is Barack's teachings of constitutional law.  I know Crafty studied law under a supreme court justice and I studied economics under the chief economic adviser to Presidents Kennedy and Johnson, it is fascinating to hear people of history or of the future first hand.  I would like to learn about the content of the lectures of Prof. Obama.  I have heard they were not controversial but still I would like to look for clues in his teachings about how he would find Chief Justice Roberts unsuitable for example.
5281  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Food Chain and Food Politics on: September 17, 2008, 10:39:27 PM
I agree with Rachel regarding country of origin labeling.  From my point of view, instead of banning trade or taxing trade, content and origin in labeling either required by industry groups or government would cause informed trade which is better than restricted trade.  Even state origin or more specific yet would be helpful.  Besides food poisoning scares I know that people wanting to lessen their energy footprint prefer to buy things from closer to home.

5282  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: September 17, 2008, 09:04:13 AM
Excerpting from analysis published at politco:

"What makes me laugh – ruefully, I assure you – is when our office seekers trot around the country promising “accountability” for Wall Street. Lehman just went bankrupt – in a market economy, things don’t get more “accountable” than that."

http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0908/13486.html
With Washington looking to point fingers in regards to the fall of Lehman, it’s worth recounting the chain of events that led us to today (or rather Sunday):

1) Alan Greenspan’s Fed made loads of cheap money available.

2) Money will be put to use. It does not wind up in enormous mattresses gathering dust. After all the smart uses were exhausted, Wall Street began looking to dumbers uses, or riskier uses if you will. Foremost among these riskier uses was issuing subprime mortgages.

3) The availability of subprime mortgages had two immediate effects. First, it created a whole new class of potential homeowners. As this new class of homeowners drove demand through the roof, the value of your house (and mine) increased dramatically.

4) Unfortunately for everyone involved, a lot of these people defaulted on their subprime loans. Thus, the subprime mortgage market disappeared while foreclosed homes glutted the housing market. That meant a sharp decline in demand and a sharp increase in supply hit the housing market simultaneously, making the value of your house (and mine) decrease dramatically. In terms of where this crisis hits the typical American, this item is the bogey. The typical American lost a huge chunk of his net worth thanks to the housing crisis, and it won't fully bounce back until…well, nobody knows when.

5) The erstwhile homeowners who took out loans they couldn’t afford lost their homes and faced financial ruin. The firms who issued subprime loans and the firms who purchased subprime mortgage backed securities that the erstwhile homeowners couldn’t make good on also faced financial ruin.

So what can the government and its various agencies do in such a situation? Fannie and Freddie had to be saved – “too big to fail” was right, and that’s what made the shenanigans of those quasi-governmental agencies so scandalous. But Lehman? Life and the economy will go one.

Fed Governors will study for years the original Greenspan sins that set this course of events in motion. Meanwhile, Greenpsan will probably be taking to the airwaves to defend his tattered legacy. As far as the subprime lending industry that proximately triggered the crisis, theoretically the government in the future could set up a regulatory regime that puts mortgages out of reach for certain risky home buyers. Happily, I bet that idea sounds as noxious to liberals as it does to conservatives.

So government and politicians can only do what they do best – blindly cast blame on a matter that they don’t fully understand. Let’s not forget we have two presidential candidates who have spent a combined fifteen minutes in the private sector. I would love to see Charlie Gibson have a few minutes on camera with Barack Obama and ask in his impatient schoolmarm way, “Exactly what did Lehman Brothers do on a day in/day out basis?” I would expect an irrelevant homily on the virtues of “Main Street” as opposed to “Wall Street” in response.

In a free market, good decisions will be rewarded and poor decisions will be punished. That happens at the individual level when a person takes a mortgage that they can’t afford. And it happens at a bigger level when a company like Lehman pursues an “aggressive” strategy that ultimately proves imprudent.

What makes me laugh – ruefully, I assure you – is when our office seekers trot around the country promising “accountability” for Wall Street. Lehman just went bankrupt – in a market economy, things don’t get more “accountable” than that.

What everyone wants to know is how serious the current situation is. Step back from the ledge, and for goodness sakes ignore Senator Obama’s ignorant hysterics. What we have now is a market correction. Firms that made poor decisions are being devoured by the market’s unforgiving nature. Today the Dow is steady, the American economy having easily withstood the shock of the weekend’s events. Most salubriously, the moral hazard that the government sponsored with past bailouts and craven enabling (see Fannie and Freddie) is now a memory. In evaluating future risks, finance houses will no longer consider the moving target of federal intervention if/when things don’t work out.

The weekend’s events were terrible news for Lehman’s employees not to mention the countless vendors who depended on the firm. The bad news also extends to New York City, which will have the burden of a moribund financial sector to lug around for the foreseeable future. It stinks that things work out this way sometimes. But so it goes in a free market economy.
5283  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care - case against socialized medicine on: September 16, 2008, 10:25:10 PM
"According to an August 2008 study published in Lancet Oncology, the renowned British medical journal, Americans have a better than five-year survival rate for 13 of the 16 most prominent cancers when compared with their European and Canadian counterparts.

With breast cancer, for instance, the survival rate among American women is 83.9 percent. For women in Britain, it’s just 69.7 percent. For men with prostate cancer, the survival rate is 91.9 percent here but just 73.7 percent in France and 51.1 percent in Britain.

American men and women are more than 35 percent more likely to survive colon cancer than their British counterparts."

http://www.dcexaminer.com/opinion/columns/guestcolumnists/Is_the_grass_greener_with_socialized_medicine.html
Is the grass greener with socialized medicine?

By Sally C. Pipes
Special to the Examiner | 8/23/08 7:35 PM With Democrats convinced 2008 is their year, the campaign trail is awash with promises to make universal health care a reality by the end of the next president’s first term.

The basic argument of those who support a government takeover of the health care system is familiar. As New York Times columnist Paul Krugman once put it, “America’s health care system spends more, for worse results, than that of any other advanced country.”

Krugman’s line has been repeated so often it’s considered gospel truth in most public debates — people rarely check to see if it matches the facts. As the American humorist Josh Billings quipped, “the problem with the world ain’t ignorance, it’s the things people know that just ain’t so.”

If they did, they’d probably be surprised. Socialized health care isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Take the much-vaunted Canadian system. More than 825,000 Canadian citizens are currently on waiting lists for surgery and other necessary treatments. Fifteen years ago, the average wait between a referral from a primary-care doctor to treatment by a specialist was around nine weeks. Today, that wait is over 16 weeks.

That’s almost double what doctors consider clinically reasonable. As Canadian physician Brian Day explained to The New York Times, Canada “is a country in which dogs can get a hip replacement in under a week and in which humans can wait two to three years.”
In part, these waits are due to a doctor shortage. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, Canada ranks 24th out of 28 countries in doctors per thousand people.

Why so few doctors? Over the past decade, about 11 percent of physicians trained in Canadian medical schools have moved to the United States. That’s because doctors’ salaries in Canada are negotiated, set and paid for by provincial governments and held down by cost-conscious budget analysts. Today, in fact, the average Canadian doctor earns only 42 percent of what a doctor earns in the United States.

Canada also limits access to common medical technologies. When compared with other OECD countries, Canada is 13th out of 24 in access to magnetic resonance imagings, 18th of 24 in access to computed tomography scanners, and seventh of 17 in access to mammograms.

The problems plaguing Canada are characteristic of all universal health care systems.

In Britain, more than 1 million sick citizens are currently waiting for hospital admission. Another 200,000 are waiting just to get on a waiting list. Each year, Britain’s National Health Service cancels around 100,000 operations.

Britain even has a government agency explicitly tasked with limiting people’s access to prescription drugs. Euphemistically called the National Institute for Health and Clinical Effectiveness, the agency determines which treatments the British health care system covers. More often than not, saving money takes priority over saving lives.

In 2008, for instance, NICE refused to approve the lung cancer drug Tarceva. Despite numerous studies showing that the drug significantly prolongs the life of cancer patients — and the unanimous endorsement of lung cancer specialists throughout the United Kingdom — NICE determined that the drug was too expensive to cover relative to its effectiveness. As of August 2008, England is one of only three countries in Western Europe that denies citizens access to Tarceva.

Britain’s behavior is typical — every European government rations drugs to save money. Eighty-five new drugs hit the U.S. market between 1998 and 2002. During that same time period, only 44 of those drugs became available in Europe.

The evidence clearly indicates that patients under socialized medicine are suffering. Why, then, do countries with government-run health care consistently outrank the United States on international quality surveys?

It’s not because the American health care system is inferior. It’s because these surveys use deeply flawed metrics that don’t reflect health care quality.

Case in point: The World Health Organization rankings of overall health system performance placed the United States 37th out of 191 countries. That’s behind not only Canada, Britain and France, but even countries like Costa Rica, Morocco and Cyprus.

Life expectancy accounted for 25 percent of a nation’s WHO ranking. But life expectancy is the function of a variety of factors. Medical care is just one of them. Just as important are a nation’s homicide rate, the number of accidents, diet trends, ethnic diversity and much more.

Another factor accounting for 25 percent of a nation’s ranking was “distribution of health,” or fairness. By this logic, treating everyone exactly the same is more important than treating people well. So long as everyone is equal — even if they’re equally miserable — a nation will do quite well in the WHO rankings.

In measuring the quality of a health care system, what really matters is how well it serves those who are sick. And it’s here that America really excels.

According to an August 2008 study published in Lancet Oncology, the renowned British medical journal, Americans have a better than five-year survival rate for 13 of the 16 most prominent cancers when compared with their European and Canadian counterparts.

With breast cancer, for instance, the survival rate among American women is 83.9 percent. For women in Britain, it’s just 69.7 percent. For men with prostate cancer, the survival rate is 91.9 percent here but just 73.7 percent in France and 51.1 percent in Britain.

American men and women are more than 35 percent more likely to survive colon cancer than their British counterparts.

It’s no wonder then that foreign dignitaries living in countries with socialized health care systems routinely come to this country when they need top-flight medical treatment.

When Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi needed heart surgery in 2006, he traveled to the Cleveland Clinic — often considered America’s best hospital for cardiac care. When Canadian Member of Parliament Belinda Stronach, who had denounced a two-tier health care system for Canadians, needed breast cancer surgery herself in 2007, she headed to a California hospital and paid out of pocket.

So much for the “free” health care they could have received at home.

As for the supposed cost advantages of socialized medicine? Those are illusory, too. True, other developed nations may spend less on health care as a percentage of gross domestic product than the United States does — but so does Sudan. Without considering value, such statistical evaluations are worthless.

And one of the primary reasons health care costs more in America is that we are a wealthy country that demands the best. And, we’re investing a lot more in medical research.

The United States produces over half of the $175 billion in health care technology products purchased globally. In 2004, the federal government funded medical research to the tune of $18.4 billion. By contrast, the European Union — which has a significantly larger population than the United States — allocated funds equal to just $3.7 billion for medical research.

Between 1999 and 2005, the United States was responsible for 71 percent of the sales of new pharmaceutical drugs. The next two largest pharmaceutical markets — Japan and Germany — account for just 4 percent each.

While no one can deny that there are significant problems in the American health care system, overall it provides exceptional value. The ideologues who claim we’d be better off under socialized medicine are massively wrong. Government-run health care has proven to be heartless and uncaring — and the inferior treatments it provides come with a very steep price tag.
5284  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Obama Phenomena, 10 worst Obama ideas on: September 16, 2008, 10:16:11 PM
I would have to add that raising the capital gains tax rate would be in my top ten right behind surrendering our national security.
5285  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Abortion on: September 15, 2008, 09:44:06 PM
Rachel already started a topic that I didn't see because a keyword search of the word abortion didn't find it.  I seems we are caught up in word games.  I explained favoring choices especially better ones in most situations and I certainly support the right to reproduce assuming you have consenting parties. 

I agree with Crafty on the legal issues. After it is returned to the states we still have an abortion rights debate. I was just writing one person's opinion about right and wrong.  The legal issues and political process follow.

I didn't notice that Rachel addressed any point in my post, but fired back questions at me that I already addressed, so I guess we are working on two different topics.  I found the questions to be condescending and diversionary which is your right and your choice. I already posted that nearly all pro-life proposals offer exceptions and that 98% of abortions in America are for convenience reasons and back comes a story about an 11 year old girl in a foreign land who actually did find her way to get abortion services. 

If you are comfortable with a system where men have zero rights, where it is women not couples or humans or families that reproduce, where killing 49 million isn't one of your top ten concerns, where the fact that 48 million of those were for convenience reasons doesn't merit a mention even in reply, then I give up on looking for common ground or a beneficial exchange.
----
Quoting BBG: "...as an off brand libertarian, I'm loathe to tell women that they are bound by law to let a creature grow inside of them" and similarly Rachel wrote: "Do I have control over my body or does someone else?"

I see your points and offer this reasonable and pragmatic compromise solution:

Recognize the woman's right to remove the unwanted tissue but not the right to have it killed.  Leave viability issue in the hands of God, the survival strength of the fetus, the medics and the people who would adopt and love it.

Fair enough?
5286  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Abortion on: September 15, 2008, 12:20:28 AM
Respectfully answering a post that opposed Palin on issues and listed "choice" first, I thought it was time to open the unmentionable topic of abortion.

We avoid the issue IMO by just calling it "choice".  I'm for choice... I favor choice in schools. trade, social security, health care, drilling, disaster relief, bridges to nowhere and putting men on the moon. Just not about respecting innocent human life.

Former President Clinton called abortion a constitutional right that should be safe, legal and rare.  What other constitutional rights should be rare? Freedom of speech? Right to assemble? Freedom of religion? Freedom from unreasonable search and seizure?  The right to vote? I can't think of another individual right that should be rare.

Sen. Kerry and others covered it by saying they are personally opposed to abortion but favor abortion rights.  Again, what other great right would they be personally opposed to?  I can't think of one.

Sen. Biden said a week ago on Meet the Press that he believes that life begins at conception, but that isn't relevant to public policy because it comes from his faith.

But it doesn't come only from faith.  We know through science that that life begins at conception.

President Reagan said in the 1980s we know 3 things about a fetus:

1) The fetus (little one) is alive

2) It is of the human species, and

3) It has separate and distinct genetic code from the mother or father.

Are not all three of these true???

The discussion often comes back to incest, rape and the life of the mother, but most anti-abortion proposals include exceptions.  I recall reading abortion reason statistics published by planned parenthood and concluding that about 98% of the abortions are for reasons I see as for convenience. 

Like it or not, Americans are using abortion as a form of birth control.

What about men?  They have a huge stake and have absolutely no say in the process. Equal protection?  I don't think so.

To me it's also personal - my daughter is a survivor of abortion.  By luck or miracle, she missed her appointment.  Now 14, she is making her little impact on the world and the people she touches.  When I look back I just can't see that she was only a potential human life.

5287  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Palin phenomenon on: September 14, 2008, 03:22:18 PM
Of course Palin is minimally qualified. Obama opened the door on that.  The difference is that Obama earned where he is with 18 million votes or so and Palin started as the choice of one, but that's how that works.  I agree with Rachel that the debate of Palin should be on issues and stands that she takes and opponents should quit underestimating or trashing her. 

Exact reverse of Rachel, I want her elected because of her positions and hope that the mini-scandals and airlifted investigators don't bring her down first.  We should hammer out those issue discussions one by one on their merits  not just the stand of a VP candidate.

I stayed out of a previous debate or two like the gay marriage discussion in trying to avoid making me-too posts of comments already made, but I certainly agree with Crafty that I greatly appreciate the presence of opposing views on both sides here. 
5288  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Obama Phenomena on: September 10, 2008, 06:44:45 PM
Pig comment sexist?  I wrote that because I find the term to be a visual put-down.  How do I say nicely - we aren't talking about farm animals and we aren't talking about supermodels - millions and millions of women not comfortable with their looks put on billions of dollars of makeup/lipstick with millions of hours in front of the mirror and they attain mixed results, to put it lightly.  The phrase in question doesn't make me visualize a painted farm animal; it makes me visualize the unpleasant sight of one of these unsuccessful makeover experiments, like one of the male actors in an SNL parody all lipsticked up and in a dress with a false front and a pretend high voice, not pulling off the beauty of an attractive woman. 

Guys my age mostly think Palin is hot.  But the hate blogs were all over her hair during the speech from another decade and though trimmer than Hillary, she wasn't the exact figure (months after childbirth) as her beauty queen photos. More importantly, feminists think she is a pig or other creature for being a woman and holding non-liberal-feminist views.  Obama was NOT directly talking about her but he had VERY recently been talking about her and the crowd instantly got the unintended double-triple meaning, slamming Palin while he was slamming 'failed' policies and apparently pigs.  JMHO.
5289  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Obama Phenomena on: September 10, 2008, 12:09:25 PM
The lipstick - hockey mom - pitbull joke is old and funny because there's truth in it.  It's derogatory to the pitbull but only self deprecating to the hockey mom.  Parents who commit to kid hockey programs spend thousands a year on ice time, coaching and equipment, drive their SUV's daily at all hours through all weather to the arenas and away games forsaking whatever they would be doing without kids or hockey.  When they get there they don't just sit there and clap politely for the nice plays like it's a senior golf event or a slide show at the library.  They holler and scream and scold and tell their kids they don't hustle enough while they demand to the coaches their kid deserves more ice time. Same goes for the parents in plenty of other sports.  The joke was a headsup to the fact that she was not going to sit pretty next to McCain and stay out of the mix.  And she didn't.

Lipstick on a pig is also an old phrase, it's sexist, and both candidates have used it. 

The difference was the timing and the crowd instantly got it.  McCain's crowd doesn't roar if he calls socialized  heathcare a pig or a turkey.  Obama's turn of phrase was roll on the floor funny ONLY IF he intended to get moveon.org nasty with his new opponent who recently tweaked him in front of $40 million.  Obama didn't intend to do that or have it read that way IMO.  It was a gaffe.

Liberals went into a feeding frenzy over George Allen's "Mucaca".  He was just trying to put some kind of name on his stalker, but the guy's look was ethnic and the made up name sounded ethnic and the instant news cycle spin turned it into a condescending slur. Sen. Allen was supposed to be the next Reagan.  He's out and his replacement is a Dem.

Obama should know that phrase at this time will be taken wrong, he should apologize and find a new cliche. (Doesn't he carry the unabridged cliche collection with him?)  Instead this will haunt him.
5290  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: September 09, 2008, 11:48:36 PM
The original political point about Justice Thomas was that he received bad treatment from the judiciary committee under Sen. Biden's watch.  The allegation wasn't 'vetted'. This was pre-Lewinski when they brought 'pubic hair on a coke can' and 'Long Dong Silver' into our living rooms with our children and into our congressional record based on one person saying it was so.  No incident before.  No incident after.  No pattern.  No evidence.  No second 'victim', no witness, no contemporaneous complaint.  The point at the time IMO was that Thomas like Bork didn't find an unenumerated right of privacy unwritten into the constitution that trumped life so they believed the adjudicated right to an abortion would become in jeopardy.  That may be enough reason for certain senators to vote against him, but not a license to smear.

Obama dove in there lately by singling out Thomas as unworthy of the court, then like I said previously, failed to back up his harsh judgment with anything unique to this Justice, such as at least one badly reasoned opinion.  Two recent posts at powerlineblog.com take this story from there:
---------------------
August 19, 2008
A strange singling out

During the forum at Saddleback, Barack Obama said he would not have nominated Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court because Thomas lacked relevant experience at the time. I (Paul Mirengoff at powerline) suggested that this statement was disingenuous because Obama clearly wouldn't have selected Thomas, a powerful spokesman against the "liberal" view of civil rights, regardless of how much judicial experience Thomas had possessed. I agreed, though, that Thomas lacked substantial experience as a judge, adding that in this respect (and this respect alone) Thomas could be viewed as the Barack Obama of the Supreme Court.

A reader reminded me, however, that when Thomas joined the Court, it was not unusual for Justices to have little or no prior judging experience. Two of the sitting Justices at that time, White and Rehnquist, had never been judges. Two others, O'Connor and Brennan had never been federal judges. Lewis Powell, who retired four years before Thomas joined the Court, likewise had never been a judge before he joined the Supreme Court. Neither had former Chief Justice Earl Warren.

Obama isn't the only person who has singled out Justice Thomas for his lack of prior judging experience. It makes for interesting speculation to ponder the reasons for this singling out.
-------------------------
August 24, 2008
A strange singling out explained

Barack Obama's recent comment about Justice Thomas -- that he would not have nominated Thomas for the Supreme Court due to Thomas' "inexperience" -- coupled with Obama's selection of Joe Biden as his running mate, provide a painful reminder of the judicial confirmation wars of the past 20 plus years. I wrote about Biden's central (and disgraceful) role in these wars here. I wondered why Thomas is singled out for having been inexperienced at the time of his nomination here.

The latter post brought this response from a reader:

    The answer is this: liberals like Mr. Obama simply cannot fathom how a black person could hold seriously thought-out views about jurisprudence like those of Clarence Thomas. And there is something too crass about attacking Justice Thomas' jurisprudence on the merits, as well as too time-consuming.

    Liberals deem it too crass because they like to pretend that their objections are unrelated to politics, perhaps out of a concern that conservatives will apply the same approach to liberal judicial nominees when the tables are turned. So they find other reasons: Bork is too smart and doesn't understand the "common man;" and Thomas is too dumb. But the Thomas-as-too-dumb view is too crass also, so the easy thing to do is say he was "unqualified" or too inexperienced.

    Substantive critiques of Justice Thomas' jurisprudence are too time-consuming because people like Mr. Obama don't want to read, much less engage, his opinions. Note that criticisms of Justice Thomas never cite any examples of actual opinions he's written. Obama certainly failed to do so at the Saddleback forum.

    Ultimately, the theme continues for liberals: "self-hating" minorities who deviate from liberal orthodoxy are attacked because liberals view them as turn-coats. For more recent examples, see the treatment Miguel Estrada and Janice Rogers Brown received when the president nominated them to the D.C. Circuit, while the white guy, John Rodgers, sailed through to confirmation. And, recall Justice Thomas' words:

    "This is not an opportunity to talk about difficult matters privately or in a closed environment. This is a circus. It's a national disgrace. And from my standpoint, as a black American, it is a high-tech lynching for uppity blacks who in any way deign to think for themselves, to do for themselves, to have different ideas, and it is a message that unless you kowtow to an old order, this is what will happen to you. You will be lynched, destroyed, caricatured by a committee of the U.S. Senate rather than hung from a tree."

    The "old order" is liberalism. Mr. Obama's cheap shot against Justice Thomas, which would be applauded in Cambridge and Hyde Park, is the most recent example of the stereotypical left-wing effort to keep minorities on the plantation.
5291  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Legal issues on: September 09, 2008, 12:00:14 PM
The question was the depth of Thomas' intellect.  My example was the opinion posted.  He is no lightweight.  That Scalia or others find themselves on the same side does not mean Thomas followed them. He VERY often writes a separate opinion concurring or dissent. If the majority didn't sign on with this opinion, from my point of view, shame on them. 

Jan Crawford Greenburg covers the court for the PBS Jim Lehrer News Hour, ABC News, and Chicago Tribune.  I find her to be informed and objective.  She wrote this for the Wall Street Journal in 2007: (this was posted previously)

AT LAW
The Truth About Clarence Thomas
He's an independent voice, not a Scalia lackey.
by JAN CRAWFORD GREENBURG
January 28, 2007 http://www.opinionjournal.com/extra/?id=110009590

Clarence Thomas has borne some of the most vitriolic personal attacks in Supreme Court history. But the persistent stereotypes about his views on the law and subordinate role on the court are equally offensive--and demonstrably false. An extensive documentary record shows that Justice Thomas has been a significant force in shaping the direction and decisions of the court for the past 15 years.

That's not the standard storyline. Immediately upon his arrival at the court, Justice Thomas was savaged by court-watchers as Antonin Scalia's dutiful apprentice, blindly following his mentor's lead. It's a grossly inaccurate portrayal, imbued with politically incorrect innuendo, as documents and notes from Justice Thomas's very first days on the court conclusively show. Far from being a Scalia lackey, the rookie jurist made clear to the other justices that he was willing to be the solo dissenter, sending a strong signal that he would not moderate his opinions for the sake of comity. By his second week on the bench, he was staking out bold positions in the private conferences where justices vote on cases. If either justice changed his mind to side with the other that year, it was Justice Scalia joining Justice Thomas, not the other way around.

Much of the documentary evidence for this comes from the papers of Justice Harry Blackmun, who recorded the justices' votes and took detailed notes explaining their views. I came across vivid proof while reading the papers as part of my research for a book about how the Rehnquist Court--a court with seven justices appointed by Republican presidents--evolved into an ideological and legal disappointment for conservatives.

Justice Thomas's first term was especially interesting. He replaced legendary liberal icon Thurgood Marshall, and joined the court just a year after David Souter took William Brennan's seat. There appeared to be a solid conservative majority, with the court poised to finally dismember the liberal legacy of the Warren Court. But that year it instead lurched inexplicably to the left--even putting Roe v. Wade on more solid ground.

Justice Thomas's first year on the job brought to life the adage that a new justice makes a new court. His entry didn't merely change the vote of the liberal justice he replaced. It turned the chessboard around entirely, rearranging ideological alliances. Justice Thomas acted as a catalyst in different ways, shoring up conservative positions in some cases and spurring others--the moderate Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, in particular--to realign themselves into new voting blocs.

Consider a criminal case argued during Justice Thomas's first week. It concerned a thief's effort to get out of a Louisiana mental institution and the state's desire to keep him there. Eight justices voted to side with the thief. Justice Thomas dissented, arguing that although it "may make eminent sense as a policy matter" to let the criminal out of the mental institution, nothing in the Constitution required "the states to conform to the policy preferences of federal judges."

After he sent his dissenting opinion to the other justices, as is custom, Justices Rehnquist, Scalia and Kennedy changed their votes. The case ended up 5-4.

Justice Thomas's dissents persuaded Justice Scalia to change his mind several times that year. Even in Hudson v. McMillan, the case that prompted the New York Times to infamously label Justice Thomas the "youngest, cruelest justice," he was again, initially, the lone dissenter. Justice Scalia changed his vote after he read Justice Thomas's dissent, which said a prison inmate beaten by guards had several options for redress--but not under the Eighth Amendment's prohibition of "cruel and unusual punishment."

From the beginning, Justice Thomas was an independent voice. His brutal confirmation hearings only enforced his autonomy, making him impervious to criticism from the media and liberal law professors. He'd told his story, and no one listened. From then on, he did not care what they said about him.

Clarence Thomas, for example, is the only justice who rarely asks questions at oral arguments. One reason is that he thinks his colleagues talk too much from the bench, and he prefers to let the lawyers explain their case with fewer interruptions. But his silence is sometimes interpreted as a lack of interest, and friends have begged him to ask a few questions to dispel those suggestions. He refuses to do it. "They have no credibility," he says of critics. "I am free to live up to my oath."

But the forcefulness and clarity of Justice Thomas's views, coupled with wrongheaded depictions of him doing Justice Scalia's bidding, created an internal dynamic that caused the court to make an unexpected turn in his first year. Justice O'Connor--who sought ideological balance--moved to the left. With the addition of Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justice Samuel Alito, the court now is poised to finally fulfill the hopes of the conservative movement. As George W. Bush told his legal advisers early in his presidency, he wanted justices in "the mold of Thomas and Scalia." Interestingly, on President Bush's marquee, Justice Thomas got top billing.
5292  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Legal issues on: September 08, 2008, 09:56:15 PM
(Kelo v. New London, Justice Thomas dissenting continued)

III

    Our current Public Use Clause jurisprudence, as the Court notes, has rejected this natural reading of the Clause. Ante, at 8—10. The Court adopted its modern reading blindly, with little discussion of the Clause’s history and original meaning, in two distinct lines of cases: first, in cases adopting the “public purpose” interpretation of the Clause, and second, in cases deferring to legislatures’ judgments regarding what constitutes a valid public purpose. Those questionable cases converged in the boundlessly broad and deferential conception of “public use” adopted by this Court in Berman v. Parker, 348 U.S. 26 (1954), and Hawaii Housing Authority v. Midkiff, 467 U.S. 229 (1984), cases that take center stage in the Court’s opinion. See ante, 10—12. The weakness of those two lines of cases, and consequently Berman and Midkiff, fatally undermines the doctrinal foundations of the Court’s decision. Today’s questionable application of these cases is further proof that the “public purpose” standard is not susceptible of principled application. This Court’s reliance by rote on this standard is ill advised and should be reconsidered.

A

    As the Court notes, the “public purpose” interpretation of the Public Use Clause stems from Fallbrook Irrigation Dist. v. Bradley, 164 U.S. 112, 161—162 (1896). Ante, at 11. The issue in Bradley was whether a condemnation for purposes of constructing an irrigation ditch was for a public use. 164 U.S., at 161. This was a public use, Justice Peckham declared for the Court, because “[t]o irrigate and thus to bring into possible cultivation these large masses of otherwise worthless lands would seem to be a public purpose and a matter of public interest, not confined to landowners, or even to any one section of the State.” Ibid. That broad statement was dictum, for the law under review also provided that “[a]ll landowners in the district have the right to a proportionate share of the water.” Id., at 162. Thus, the “public” did have the right to use the irrigation ditch because all similarly situated members of the public–those who owned lands irrigated by the ditch—had a right to use it. The Court cited no authority for its dictum, and did not discuss either the Public Use Clause’s original meaning or the numerous authorities that had adopted the “actual use” test (though it at least acknowledged the conflict of authority in state courts, see id., at 158; supra, at 9, and n. 2). Instead, the Court reasoned that “[t]he use must be regarded as a public use, or else it would seem to follow that no general scheme of irrigation can be formed or carried into effect.” Bradley, supra, at 160—161. This is no statement of constitutional principle: Whatever the utility of irrigation districts or the merits of the Court’s view that another rule would be “impractical given the diverse and always evolving needs of society,” ante, at 8, the Constitution does not embody those policy preferences any more than it “enacts Mr. Herbert Spencer’s Social Statics.” Lochner v. New York, 198 U.S. 45, 75 (1905) (Holmes, J., dissenting); but see id., at 58—62 (Peckham, J., for the Court).

    This Court’s cases followed Bradley’s test with little analysis. In Clark v. Nash, 198 U.S. 361 (1905) (Peckham, J., for the Court), this Court relied on little more than a citation to Bradley in upholding another condemnation for the purpose of laying an irrigation ditch. 198 U.S., at 369—370. As in Bradley, use of the “public purpose” test was unnecessary to the result the Court reached. The government condemned the irrigation ditch for the purpose of ensuring access to water in which “other land owners adjoining the defendant in error … might share,” 198 U.S., at 370, and therefore Clark also involved a condemnation for the purpose of ensuring access to a resource to which similarly situated members of the public had a legal right of access. Likewise, in Strickley v. Highland Boy Gold Mining Co., 200 U.S. 527 (1906), the Court upheld a condemnation establishing an aerial right-of-way for a bucket line operated by a mining company, relying on little more than Clark, see Strickley, supra, at 531. This case, too, could have been disposed of on the narrower ground that “the plaintiff [was] a carrier for itself and others,” 200 U.S., at 531—532, and therefore that the bucket line was legally open to the public. Instead, the Court unnecessarily rested its decision on the “inadequacy of use by the general public as a universal test.” Id., at 531. This Court’s cases quickly incorporated the public purpose standard set forth in Clark and Strickley by barren citation. See, e.g., Rindge Co. v. County of Los Angeles, 262 U.S. 700, 707 (1923); Block v. Hirsh, 256 U.S. 135, 155 (1921); Mt. Vernon-Woodberry Cotton Duck Co. v. Alabama Interstate Power Co., 240 U.S. 30, 32 (1916); O’Neill v. Leamer, 239 U.S. 244, 253 (1915).

B

    A second line of this Court’s cases also deviated from the Public Use Clause’s original meaning by allowing legislatures to define the scope of valid “public uses.” United States v. Gettysburg Electric R. Co., 160 U.S. 668 (1896), involved the question whether Congress’ decision to condemn certain private land for the purpose of building battlefield memorials at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, was for a public use. Id., at 679—680. Since the Federal Government was to use the lands in question, id., at 682, there is no doubt that it was a public use under any reasonable standard. Nonetheless, the Court, speaking through Justice Peckham, declared that “when the legislature has declared the use or purpose to be a public one, its judgment will be respected by the courts, unless the use be palpably without reasonable foundation.” Id., at 680. As it had with the “public purpose” dictum in Bradley, supra, the Court quickly incorporated this dictum into its Public Use Clause cases with little discussion. See, e.g., United States ex rel. TVA v. Welch, 327 U.S. 546, 552 (1946); Old Dominion Land Co. v. United States, 269 U.S. 55, 66 (1925).

    There is no justification, however, for affording almost insurmountable deference to legislative conclusions that a use serves a “public use.” To begin with, a court owes no deference to a legislature’s judgment concerning the quintessentially legal question of whether the government owns, or the public has a legal right to use, the taken property. Even under the “public purpose” interpretation, moreover, it is most implausible that the Framers intended to defer to legislatures as to what satisfies the Public Use Clause, uniquely among all the express provisions of the Bill of Rights. We would not defer to a legislature’s determination of the various circumstances that establish, for example, when a search of a home would be reasonable, see, e.g., Payton v. New York, 445 U.S. 573, 589—590 (1980), or when a convicted double-murderer may be shackled during a sentencing proceeding without on-the-record findings, see Deck v. Missouri, 544 U.S. ___ (2005), or when state law creates a property interest protected by the Due Process Clause, see, e.g., Castle Rock v. Gonzales, post, at __; Board of Regents of State Colleges v. Roth, 408 U.S. 564, 576 (1972); Goldberg v. Kelly, 397 U.S. 254, 262—263 (1970).

    Still worse, it is backwards to adopt a searching standard of constitutional review for nontraditional property interests, such as welfare benefits, see, e.g., Goldberg, supra, while deferring to the legislature’s determination as to what constitutes a public use when it exercises the power of eminent domain, and thereby invades individuals’ traditional rights in real property. The Court has elsewhere recognized “the overriding respect for the sanctity of the home that has been embedded in our traditions since the origins of the Republic,” Payton, supra, at 601, when the issue is only whether the government may search a home. Yet today the Court tells us that we are not to “second-guess the City’s considered judgments,” ante, at 18, when the issue is, instead, whether the government may take the infinitely more intrusive step of tearing down petitioners’ homes. Something has gone seriously awry with this Court’s interpretation of the Constitution. Though citizens are safe from the government in their homes, the homes themselves are not. Once one accepts, as the Court at least nominally does, ante, at 6, that the Public Use Clause is a limit on the eminent domain power of the Federal Government and the States, there is no justification for the almost complete deference it grants to legislatures as to what satisfies it.

C

    These two misguided lines of precedent converged in Berman v. Parker, 348 U.S. 26 (1954), and Hawaii Housing Authority v. Midkiff, 467 U.S. 229 (1984). Relying on those lines of cases, the Court in Berman and Midkiff upheld condemnations for the purposes of slum clearance and land redistribution, respectively. “Subject to specific constitutional limitations,” Berman proclaimed, “when the legislature has spoken, the public interest has been declared in terms well-nigh conclusive. In such cases the legislature, not the judiciary, is the main guardian of the public needs to be served by social legislation.” 348 U.S., at 32. That reasoning was question begging, since the question to be decided was whether the “specific constitutional limitation” of the Public Use Clause prevented the taking of the appellant’s (concededly “nonblighted”) department store. Id., at 31, 34. Berman also appeared to reason that any exercise by Congress of an enumerated power (in this case, its plenary power over the District of Columbia) was per se a “public use” under the Fifth Amendment. Id., at 33. But the very point of the Public Use Clause is to limit that power. See supra, at 3—4.

    More fundamentally, Berman and Midkiff erred by equating the eminent domain power with the police power of States. See Midkiff, 467 U.S., at 240 (“The ‘public use’ requirement is … coterminous with the scope of a sovereign’s police powers”); Berman, 348 U.S., at 32. Traditional uses of that regulatory power, such as the power to abate a nuisance, required no compensation whatsoever, see Mugler v. Kansas, 123 U.S. 623, 668—669 (1887), in sharp contrast to the takings power, which has always required compensation, see supra, at 3, and n. 1. The question whether the State can take property using the power of eminent domain is therefore distinct from the question whether it can regulate property pursuant to the police power. See, e.g., Lucas v. South Carolina Coastal Council, 505 U.S. 1003, 1014 (1992); Mugler, supra, at 668—669. In Berman, for example, if the slums at issue were truly “blighted,” then state nuisance law, see, e.g., supra, at 5—6; Lucas, supra, at 1029, not the power of eminent domain, would provide the appropriate remedy. To construe the Public Use Clause to overlap with the States’ police power conflates these two categories.3

    The “public purpose” test applied by Berman and Midkiff also cannot be applied in principled manner. “When we depart from the natural import of the term ‘public use,’ and substitute for the simple idea of a public possession and occupation, that of public utility, public interest, common benefit, general advantage or convenience … we are afloat without any certain principle to guide us.” Bloodgood v. Mohawk & Hudson R. Co., 18 Wend. 9, 60—61 (NY 1837) (opinion of Tracy, Sen.). Once one permits takings for public purposes in addition to public uses, no coherent principle limits what could constitute a valid public use—at least, none beyond Justice O’Connor’s (entirely proper) appeal to the text of the Constitution itself. See ante, at 1—2, 8—13 (dissenting opinion). I share the Court’s skepticism about a public use standard that requires courts to second-guess the policy wisdom of public works projects. Ante, at 16—19. The “public purpose” standard this Court has adopted, however, demands the use of such judgment, for the Court concedes that the Public Use Clause would forbid a purely private taking. Ante, at 7—8. It is difficult to imagine how a court could find that a taking was purely private except by determining that the taking did not, in fact, rationally advance the public interest. Cf. ante, at 9—10 (O’Connor, J., dissenting) (noting the complicated inquiry the Court’s test requires). The Court is therefore wrong to criticize the “actual use” test as “difficult to administer.” Ante, at 8. It is far easier to analyze whether the government owns or the public has a legal right to use the taken property than to ask whether the taking has a “purely private purpose”—unless the Court means to eliminate public use scrutiny of takings entirely. Ante, at 7—8, 16—17. Obliterating a provision of the Constitution, of course, guarantees that it will not be misapplied.

    For all these reasons, I would revisit our Public Use Clause cases and consider returning to the original meaning of the Public Use Clause: that the government may take property only if it actually uses or gives the public a legal right to use the property.

IV

    The consequences of today’s decision are not difficult to predict, and promise to be harmful. So-called “urban renewal” programs provide some compensation for the properties they take, but no compensation is possible for the subjective value of these lands to the individuals displaced and the indignity inflicted by uprooting them from their homes. Allowing the government to take property solely for public purposes is bad enough, but extending the concept of public purpose to encompass any economically beneficial goal guarantees that these losses will fall disproportionately on poor communities. Those communities are not only systematically less likely to put their lands to the highest and best social use, but are also the least politically powerful. If ever there were justification for intrusive judicial review of constitutional provisions that protect “discrete and insular minorities,” United States v. Carolene Products Co., 304 U.S. 144, 152, n. 4 (1938), surely that principle would apply with great force to the powerless groups and individuals the Public Use Clause protects. The deferential standard this Court has adopted for the Public Use Clause is therefore deeply perverse. It encourages “those citizens with dis-
proportionate influence and power in the political pro-
cess, including large corporations and development
firms” to victimize the weak. Ante, at 11 (O’Connor, J., dissenting).

    Those incentives have made the legacy of this Court’s “public purpose” test an unhappy one. In the 1950’s, no doubt emboldened in part by the expansive understanding of “public use” this Court adopted in Berman, cities “rushed to draw plans” for downtown development. B. Frieden & L. Sagalayn, Downtown, Inc. How America Rebuilds Cities 17 (1989). “Of all the families displaced by urban renewal from 1949 through 1963, 63 percent of those whose race was known were nonwhite, and of these families, 56 percent of nonwhites and 38 percent of whites had incomes low enough to qualify for public housing, which, however, was seldom available to them.” Id., at 28. Public works projects in the 1950’s and 1960’s destroyed predominantly minority communities in St. Paul, Minnesota, and Baltimore, Maryland. Id., at 28—29. In 1981, urban planners in Detroit, Michigan, uprooted the largely “lower-income and elderly” Poletown neighborhood for the benefit of the General Motors Corporation. J. Wylie, Poletown: Community Betrayed 58 (1989). Urban renewal projects have long been associated with the displacement of blacks; “n cities across the country, urban renewal came to be known as ‘Negro removal.’ ” Pritchett, The “Public Menace” of Blight: Urban Renewal and the Private Uses of Eminent Domain, 21 Yale L. & Pol’y Rev. 1, 47 (2003). Over 97 percent of the individuals forcibly removed from their homes by the “slum-clearance” project upheld by this Court in Berman were black. 348 U.S., at 30. Regrettably, the predictable consequence of the Court’s decision will be to exacerbate these effects.
***
    The Court relies almost exclusively on this Court’s prior cases to derive today’s far-reaching, and dangerous, result. See ante, at 8—12. But the principles this Court should employ to dispose of this case are found in the Public Use Clause itself, not in Justice Peckham’s high opinion of reclamation laws, see supra, at 11. When faced with a clash of constitutional principle and a line of unreasoned cases wholly divorced from the text, history, and structure of our founding document, we should not hesitate to resolve the tension in favor of the Constitution’s original meaning. For the reasons I have given, and for the reasons given in Justice O’Connor’s dissent, the conflict of principle raised by this boundless use of the eminent domain power should be resolved in petitioners’ favor. I would reverse the judgment of the Connecticut Supreme Court.

Notes

1.  Some state constitutions at the time of the founding lacked just compensation clauses and took property even without providing compensation. See Lucas v. South Carolina Coastal Council, 505 U.S. 1003, 1056—1057 (1992) (Blackmun, J., dissenting). The Framers of the Fifth Amendment apparently disagreed, for they expressly prohibited uncompensated takings, and the Fifth Amendment was not incorporated against the States until much later. See id., at 1028, n. 15.

2.  Compare ante, at 8, and n. 8 (majority opinion) (noting that some state courts upheld the validity of applying the Mill Acts to private purposes and arguing that the “ ‘use by the public’ test” “eroded over time”), with, e.g., Ryerson v. Brown, 35 Mich. 333, 338—339 (1877) (holding it “essential” to the constitutionality of a Mill Act “that the statute should require the use to be public in fact; in other words, that it should contain provisions entitling the public to accommodations”); Gaylord v. Sanitary Dist. of Chicago, 204 Ill. 576, 581—584, 68 N. E. 522, 524 (1903) (same); Tyler v. Beacher, 44 Vt. 648, 652—656 (1871) (same); Sadler v. Langham, 34 Ala. 311, 332—334 (1859) (striking down taking for purely private road and grist mill); Varner v. Martin, 21 W. Va. 534, 546—548, 556—557, 566—567 (1883) (grist mill and private road had to be open to public for them to constitute public use); Harding v. Goodlett, 3 Yerg. 41, 53 (1832); Jacobs v. Clearview Water Supply Co., 220 Pa. 388, 393—395, 69 A. 870, 872 (1908) (endorsing actual public use standard); Minnesota Canal & Power Co. v. Koochiching Co., 97 Minn. 429, 449—451, 107 N. W. 405, 413 (1906) (same); Chesapeake Stone Co. v. Moreland, 126 Ky. 656, 663—667, 104 S. W. 762, 765 (Ct. App. 1907) (same); Note, Public Use in Eminent Domain, 21 N. Y. U. L. Q. Rev. 285, 286, and n. 11 (1946) (calling the actual public use standard the “majority view” and citing other cases).

3.  Some States also promoted the alienability of property by abolishing the feudal “quit rent” system, i.e., long-term leases under which the proprietor reserved to himself the right to perpetual payment of rents from his tenant. See Vance, The Quest for Tenure in the United States, 33 Yale L. J. 248, 256—257, 260—263 (1923). In Hawaii Housing Authority v. Midkiff, 467 U.S. 229 (1984), the Court cited those state policies favoring the alienability of land as evidence that the government’s eminent domain power was similarly expansive, see id., at 241—242, and n. 5. But they were uses of the States’ regulatory power, not the takings power, and therefore were irrelevant to the issue in Midkiff. This mismatch underscores the error of conflating a State’s regulatory power with its taking power.
5293  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Legal issues on: September 08, 2008, 09:49:55 PM
JDN: "As for Justices, perhaps I was too harsh on Thomas, but I do not think he has the intellect of the others".

Still no examples.  I strongly disagree and challenge you / others again to illustrate this often stated assertion.  He doesn't ask questions of the lawyers who appear but he reads the briefs and writes opinions with wisdom and constitutional discipline like almost no one else IMO.

EXAMPLE: Kelo v. New London.  The worst decision in recent memory destroying private property rights by allowing local governments to take private property for what THEY deem to be better private property purposes.  Thomas wrote the strongest opinion opposing it.

Thomas' opinion follows. He goes beyond the dissent of Sandra Day O'Connor and argues very persuasively the original meaning of the public use in the takings restrictions clause.  I watched his confirmation hearings and his intellect held up very well especially as compared to the Senators in the room.  - Doug

(aside: JDN, I didn't know you play squash. Maybe we have another way of settling this...)
-----------------------------
Thomas, J., dissenting

SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES

No. 04—108
SUSETTE KELO, et al., PETITIONERS v. CITY OF
NEW LONDON, CONNECTICUT, et al.
ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE SUPREME COURT OF CONNECTICUT

[June 23, 2005]

    Justice Thomas, dissenting.

    Long ago, William Blackstone wrote that “the law of the land … postpones even public necessity to the sacred and inviolable rights of private property.” 1 Commentaries on the Laws of England 134—135 (1765) (hereinafter Blackstone). The Framers embodied that principle in the Constitution, allowing the government to take property not for “public necessity,” but instead for “public use.” Amdt. 5. Defying this understanding, the Court replaces the Public Use Clause with a “ ‘[P]ublic [P]urpose’ ” Clause, ante, at 9—10 (or perhaps the “Diverse and Always Evolving Needs of Society” Clause, ante, at 8 (capitalization added)), a restriction that is satisfied, the Court instructs, so long as the purpose is “legitimate” and the means “not irrational,” ante, at 17 (internal quotation marks omitted). This deferential shift in phraseology enables the Court to hold, against all common sense, that a costly urban-renewal project whose stated purpose is a vague promise of new jobs and increased tax revenue, but which is also suspiciously agreeable to the Pfizer Corporation, is for a “public use.”

    I cannot agree. If such “economic development” takings are for a “public use,” any taking is, and the Court has erased the Public Use Clause from our Constitution, as Justice O’Connor powerfully argues in dissent. Ante, at 1—2, 8—13. I do not believe that this Court can eliminate liberties expressly enumerated in the Constitution and therefore join her dissenting opinion. Regrettably, however, the Court’s error runs deeper than this. Today’s decision is simply the latest in a string of our cases construing the Public Use Clause to be a virtual nullity, without the slightest nod to its original meaning. In my view, the Public Use Clause, originally understood, is a meaningful limit on the government’s eminent domain power. Our cases have strayed from the Clause’s original meaning, and I would reconsider them.
I.     The Fifth Amendment provides:

“No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb, nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process, of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.” (Emphasis added.)

It is the last of these liberties, the Takings Clause, that is at issue in this case. In my view, it is “imperative that the Court maintain absolute fidelity to” the Clause’s express limit on the power of the government over the individual, no less than with every other liberty expressly enumerated in the Fifth Amendment or the Bill of Rights more generally. Shepard v. United States, 544 U.S. ___, ___ (2005) (slip op., at 2) (Thomas, J., concurring in part and concurring in judgment) (internal quotation marks omitted).

    Though one component of the protection provided by the Takings Clause is that the government can take private property only if it provides “just compensation” for the taking, the Takings Clause also prohibits the government from taking property except “for public use.” Were it otherwise, the Takings Clause would either be meaningless or empty. If the Public Use Clause served no function other than to state that the government may take property through its eminent domain power–for public or private uses–then it would be surplusage. See ante, at 3—4 (O’Connor, J., dissenting); see also Marbury v. Madison, 1 Cranch 137, 174 (1803) (“It cannot be presumed that any clause in the constitution is intended to be without effect”); Myers v. United States, 272 U.S. 52, 151 (1926). Alternatively, the Clause could distinguish those takings that require compensation from those that do not. That interpretation, however, “would permit private property to be taken or appropriated for private use without any compensation whatever.” Cole v. La Grange, 113 U.S. 1, 8 (1885) (interpreting same language in the Missouri Public Use Clause). In other words, the Clause would require the government to compensate for takings done “for public use,” leaving it free to take property for purely private uses without the payment of compensation. This would contradict a bedrock principle well established by the time of the founding: that all takings required the payment of compensation. 1 Blackstone 135; 2 J. Kent, Commentaries on American Law 275 (1827) (hereinafter Kent); J. Madison, for the National Property Gazette, (Mar. 27, 1792), in 14 Papers of James Madison 266, 267 (R. Rutland et al. eds. 1983) (arguing that no property “shall be taken directly even for public use without indemnification to the owner”).1 The Public Use Clause, like the Just Compensation Clause, is therefore an express limit on the government’s power of eminent domain.

    The most natural reading of the Clause is that it allows the government to take property only if the government owns, or the public has a legal right to use, the property, as opposed to taking it for any public purpose or necessity whatsoever. At the time of the founding, dictionaries primarily defined the noun “use” as “[t]he act of employing any thing to any purpose.” 2 S. Johnson, A Dictionary of the English Language 2194 (4th ed. 1773) (hereinafter Johnson). The term “use,” moreover, “is from the Latin utor, which means ‘to use, make use of, avail one’s self of, employ, apply, enjoy, etc.” J. Lewis, Law of Eminent Domain §165, p. 224, n. 4 (1888) (hereinafter Lewis). When the government takes property and gives it to a private individual, and the public has no right to use the property, it strains language to say that the public is “employing” the property, regardless of the incidental benefits that might accrue to the public from the private use. The term “public use,” then, means that either the government or its citizens as a whole must actually “employ” the taken property. See id., at 223 (reviewing founding-era dictionaries).

    Granted, another sense of the word “use” was broader in meaning, extending to “[c]onvenience” or “help,” or “[q]ualities that make a thing proper for any purpose.” 2 Johnson 2194. Nevertheless, read in context, the term “public use” possesses the narrower meaning. Elsewhere, the Constitution twice employs the word “use,” both times in its narrower sense. Claeys, Public-Use Limitations and Natural Property Rights, 2004 Mich. St. L. Rev. 877, 897 (hereinafter Public Use Limitations). Article 1, §10 provides that “the net Produce of all Duties and Imposts, laid by any State on Imports or Exports, shall be for the Use of the Treasury of the United States,” meaning the Treasury itself will control the taxes, not use it to any beneficial end. And Article I, §8 grants Congress power “[t]o raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years.” Here again, “use” means “employed to raise and support Armies,” not anything directed to achieving any military end. The same word in the Public Use Clause should be interpreted to have the same meaning.

    Tellingly, the phrase “public use” contrasts with the very different phrase “general Welfare” used elsewhere in the Constitution. See ibid. (“Congress shall have Power To … provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States”); preamble (Constitution established “to promote the general Welfare”). The Framers would have used some such broader term if they had meant the Public Use Clause to have a similarly sweeping scope. Other founding-era documents made the contrast between these two usages still more explicit. See Sales, Classical Republicanism and the Fifth Amendment’s “Public Use” Requirement, 49 Duke L. J. 339, 368 (2000) (hereinafter Sales) (noting contrast between, on the one hand, the term “public use” used by 6 of the first 13 States and, on the other, the terms “public exigencies” employed in the Massachusetts Bill of Rights and the Northwest Ordinance, and the term “public necessity” used in the Vermont Constitution of 1786). The Constitution’s text, in short, suggests that the Takings Clause authorizes the taking of property only if the public has a right to employ it, not if the public realizes any conceivable benefit from the taking.

    The Constitution’s common-law background reinforces this understanding. The common law provided an express method of eliminating uses of land that adversely impacted the public welfare: nuisance law. Blackstone and Kent, for instance, both carefully distinguished the law of nuisance from the power of eminent domain. Compare 1 Blackstone 135 (noting government’s power to take private property with compensation), with 3 id., at 216 (noting action to remedy “public …nuisances, which affect the public and are an annoyance to all the king’s subjects”); see also 2 Kent 274—276 (distinguishing the two). Blackstone rejected the idea that private property could be taken solely for purposes of any public benefit. “So great … is the regard of the law for private property,” he explained, “that it will not authorize the least violation of it; no, not even for the general good of the whole community.” 1 Blackstone 135. He continued: “If a new road … were to be made through the grounds of a private person, it might perhaps be extensively beneficial to the public; but the law permits no man, or set of men, to do this without the consent of the owner of the land.” Ibid. Only “by giving [the landowner] full indemnification” could the government take property, and even then “[t]he public [was] now considered as an individual, treating with an individual for an exchange.” Ibid. When the public took property, in other words, it took it as an individual buying property from another typically would: for one’s own use. The Public Use Clause, in short, embodied the Framers’ understanding that property is a natural, fundamental right, prohibiting the government from “tak[ing] property from A. and giv[ing] it to B.” Calder v. Bull, 3 Dall. 386, 388 (1798); see also Wilkinson v. Leland, 2 Pet. 627, 658 (1829); Vanhorne’s Lessee v. Dorrance, 2 Dall. 304, 311 (CC Pa. 1795).

    The public purpose interpretation of the Public Use Clause also unnecessarily duplicates a similar inquiry required by the Necessary and Proper Clause. The Takings Clause is a prohibition, not a grant of power: The Constitution does not expressly grant the Federal Government the power to take property for any public purpose whatsoever. Instead, the Government may take property only when necessary and proper to the exercise of an expressly enumerated power. See Kohl v. United States, 91 U.S. 367, 371—372 (1876) (noting Federal Government’s power under the Necessary and Proper Clause to take property “needed for forts, armories, and arsenals, for navy-yards and light-houses, for custom-houses, post-offices, and court-houses, and for other public uses”). For a law to be within the Necessary and Proper Clause, as I have elsewhere explained, it must bear an “obvious, simple, and direct relation” to an exercise of Congress’ enumerated powers, Sabri v. United States, 541 U.S. 600, 613 (2004) (Thomas, J., concurring in judgment), and it must not “subvert basic principles of” constitutional design, Gonzales v. Raich, ante, at __ (Thomas, J., dissenting). In other words, a taking is permissible under the Necessary and Proper Clause only if it serves a valid public purpose. Interpreting the Public Use Clause likewise to limit the government to take property only for sufficiently public purposes replicates this inquiry. If this is all the Clause means, it is, once again, surplusage. See supra, at 3. The Clause is thus most naturally read to concern whether the property is used by the public or the government, not whether the purpose of the taking is legitimately public.

II  

Early American eminent domain practice largely bears out this understanding of the Public Use Clause. This practice concerns state limits on eminent domain power, not the Fifth Amendment, since it was not until the late 19th century that the Federal Government began to use the power of eminent domain, and since the Takings Clause did not even arguably limit state power until after the passage of the Fourteenth Amendment. See Note, The Public Use Limitation on Eminent Domain: An Advance Requiem, 58 Yale L. J. 599, 599—600, and nn. 3—4 (1949); Barron ex rel. Tiernan v. Mayor of Baltimore, 7 Pet. 243, 250—251 (1833) (holding the Takings Clause inapplicable to the States of its own force). Nevertheless, several early state constitutions at the time of the founding likewise limited the power of eminent domain to “public uses.” See Sales 367—369, and n. 137 (emphasis deleted). Their practices therefore shed light on the original meaning of the same words contained in the Public Use Clause.

    States employed the eminent domain power to provide quintessentially public goods, such as public roads, toll roads, ferries, canals, railroads, and public parks. Lewis §§166, 168—171, 175, at 227—228, 234—241, 243. Though use of the eminent domain power was sparse at the time of the founding, many States did have so-called Mill Acts, which authorized the owners of grist mills operated by water power to flood upstream lands with the payment of compensation to the upstream landowner. See, e.g., id., §178, at 245—246; Head v. Amoskeag Mfg. Co., 113 U.S. 9, 16—19, and n. (1885). Those early grist mills “were regulated by law and compelled to serve the public for a stipulated toll and in regular order,” and therefore were actually used by the public. Lewis §178, at 246, and n. 3; see also Head, supra, at 18—19. They were common carriers–quasi-public entities. These were “public uses” in the fullest sense of the word, because the public could legally use and benefit from them equally. See Public Use Limitations 903 (common-carrier status traditionally afforded to “private beneficiaries of a state franchise or another form of state monopoly, or to companies that operated in conditions of natural monopoly”).

    To be sure, some early state legislatures tested the limits of their state-law eminent domain power. Some States enacted statutes allowing the taking of property for the purpose of building private roads. See Lewis §167, at 230. These statutes were mixed; some required the private landowner to keep the road open to the public, and others did not. See id., §167, at 230—234. Later in the 19th century, moreover, the Mill Acts were employed to grant rights to private manufacturing plants, in addition to grist mills that had common-carrier duties. See, e.g., M. Horwitz, The Transformation of American Law 1780—1860, pp. 51—52 (1977).

    These early uses of the eminent domain power are often cited as evidence for the broad “public purpose” interpretation of the Public Use Clause, see, e.g., ante, at 8, n. 8 (majority opinion); Brief for Respondents 30; Brief for American Planning Assn. et al. as Amici Curiae at 6—7, but in fact the constitutionality of these exercises of eminent domain power under state public use restrictions was a hotly contested question in state courts throughout the 19th and into the 20th century. Some courts construed those clauses to authorize takings for public purposes, but others adhered to the natural meaning of “public use.”2 As noted above, the earliest Mill Acts were applied to entities with duties to remain open to the public, and their later extension is not deeply probative of whether that subsequent practice is consistent with the original meaning of the Public Use Clause. See McIntyre v. Ohio Elections Comm’n, 514 U.S. 334, 370 (1995) (Thomas, J., concurring in judgment). At the time of the founding, “business corporations were only beginning to upset the old corporate model, in which the raison d’ętre of chartered associations was their service to the public,” Horwitz, supra, at 49—50, so it was natural to those who framed the first Public Use Clauses to think of mills as inherently public entities. The disagreement among state courts, and state legislatures’ attempts to circumvent public use limits on their eminent domain power, cannot obscure that the Public Use Clause is most naturally read to authorize takings for public use only if the government or the public actually uses the taken property.

(opinion didn't fit, continued in next post)
5294  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Palin phenomenon on: September 08, 2008, 11:01:17 AM
Even if she fails miserably and becomes a trivia question in history, I think she has already earned her own DB topic.  smiley

One network host is up in arms that Palin isn't doing interviews her first minute on the ticket while another ABC is sending Charlie Gibson to Alaska this week for an interview.  I agree with protecting her a little at first from the wolves as she will get plenty of exposure including the VP debate.  My free advice is that they should offer her for an extra debate, Palin v. Barack Obama, one on one, anytime/any place, and find out quickly which side is more afraid of their next gaffe. 

If you want to preview for the VP debate you can see a Gubernatorial debate from 2006 on C-Span at http://cspanjunkie.org/?p=407  Unlike her current opponent, she makes her point clearly and then stops talking. The woman has talent.
5295  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Pathological Science on: September 08, 2008, 10:22:26 AM
Great post BBG. Dr. Hansen may be a scientist, but mainly serves as a politician and a bureaucrat. He represents the Bush administration and abhors it.  He should have been fired for his politics.  Problem was that the administration could not have removed him without looking like they are the ones being political.  So instead we let warming over-hype run its course at taxpayer expense.  These scientists can't remove agenda and funding from data IMO.

I'm curious, what does he mean specifically by: "I think that we also need to look at next-generation nuclear power".  His wording indicates that he prefers wait over build.  If he needs "to look" there, why hasn't he been looking there and reporting his conclusions - today!  The sooner we expand our power grid, the sooner other uses can be plugged in, such as transportation or heating.

Nuclear is fairly unique for having zero CO2 emissions and such a large scale capacityl.  No new plants approved since 1978?  That's before Al Gore's first book.  From what I can find, next generation nuclear means building smaller, safer, lower power intensity, gas cooled reactors.  That's fine with me.  Let's go.  But what does it have to do with opposing clean coal?
5296  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: September 07, 2008, 01:32:53 PM
responding to JDN's points but writing to all ( or none?):  I challenge you or anyone to post and rebut ANY written opinion on the supreme court from Justice Thomas that makes you think he is not up to the job.  Without an example or a pattern, that sounded too much like an Obama talking point and Obama also did not provide one example.  My point was not just the vote on an opposing party's appointment, it was that the conduct of the hearings was a disgrace (IMO) and that the leadership lacking came from the chair. Regarding votes on nominees, I would point out that Obama was one of the 22 furthest to the left in opposing confirmation Chief Justice John Roberts, a very competent opposing party appointment IMO.  Is Roberts also not "up to the job"?

Age discrimination: I very rarely support ANY rule where government tells private companies how to run their business, but certainly there is a difference between retirement according to a consensual contract with a fat golden compensation package and the issue of not hiring a qualified applicant.  Our personal experiences are obviously VERY different on age.  Some of the people I admire most in the world right now are a decade older than McCain.  I would more likely question Obama as too young and too new.  The Palin situation is slightly different because she MIGHT serve suddenly as President, but she  is running for 2nd position.  Assuming, and I don't, that McCain dies or retires later in his term or more likely declines to run for a second term, she will have new experience gained because of her selection, just as Obama would have more experience running for a second term that he doesn't have now.

JDN, thanks for your honest, candid views.  FWIW, if you read deeper in these threads you will see that I didn't support McCain and I didn't favor the Palin appointment before it was made.  I just prefer this ticket at this time presented with these choices. 
5297  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: September 07, 2008, 12:53:19 PM
Crafty: "What do we make of the following?" - The first part seems like terrible news, a border crossing closed that is essential for NATO supply lines.  Reminds me of Turkey blocking us late in the planning of operation Iraqi freedom. Also a threat of retaliation for any American attack.

Far more importantly, the piece ends with this mention in passing:

"The US has conducted an unprecedented air campaign over the past week in North and South Waziristan. The US has conducted five cross-border attacks inside Pakistan since Aug 31. Three of the strikes occurred in North Waziristan, and two in South Waziristan.  The US has stepped up its attacks against al Qaeda and the Taliban's networks inside Pakistan over the past year. There have been 13 confirmed cross-border attacks by the US in Pakistan this year. Five safe houses have been hit in North Waziristan, six have been hit in South Waziristan, and two have been targeted in Bajaur this year. The most controversial strike involved special operations teams inserted by helicopters in a village in South Waziristan just one mile from the Afghan border on Sept. 3."

From a 'war on terror' standpoint, this is GREAT news.  This administration can't communicate or articulate (on anything) and likely has limitations on what can or should be said while a serious operation is in progress, but this information would indicate that a) we are getting specific intelligence, b) we are acting militarily on it, not limited by the border or politics, and c) we are taking these risks in hot pursuit of a successful outcome.

Killing or capturing bin Laden and his top liutenants would not be the end of our security problems, but it would be another important milestone, sending a signal to potential enemies and to our so-called allies about who is winning and who is losing in this costly effort.
5298  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: September 06, 2008, 10:45:25 PM
JDN, I appreciate having different views posted.  From my viewpoint, Biden presided over the Bork and Clarence Thomas, two of the worst chapters of phoniness and character assassination in our history and was wrong twice on Iraq - by his own judgment.  Not the new harmony or leadership Obama claimed he would bring.

Since it is an opinion board I must say that I have a hard time holding against McCain the years he wasted in N. Vietnam while I frolicked in freedom.  Maybe he should have run 5 1/2 years sooner, but he was detained.

Curious, would you repeal other laws about age discrimination or just make this exception? smiley  - Doug
5299  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race - Biden on: September 06, 2008, 09:23:43 PM
The Biden pick:  Before the pick and before the final short list I tried hard to think of a Democrat with perceived 'gravitas' and perhaps foreign policy experience that could fill his ticket.  Shallow bench.  They really had to have served in the Clinton administration or settle for one of the second-guessers from the foreign relations committee.  I thought of Madeline Halfbright but I don't think she is eligible.  Sandy Burglar, but the docs in the boxers was for sure a deal-killer.  Not exactly foreign policy experience, but I recalled that Clinton had a pretty well respected Treasury Secretary from the private sector.  Came up with the name Robert Rubin, looked him up on Wikipedia to find out he was older than McCain [correction: similar in age to McCain].  That wouldn't work.  I still couldn't take seriously the idea that the dream--hope-change ticket would have Joe Biden on it.  I assume that he was the neutral choice for Obama, not to enhance his ticket but for the party faithful across the board to accept without revolt.

Questioning Biden's experience, I LOVE this piece by Thomas Sowell from last week:

"The difference between being a spectator and being a participant, with responsibility for the consequences of what you say and do, is fundamental."

Foreign Policy "Experience"
by Thomas Sowell, Sept. 3, 2008

Now that the Democrats have recovered from the shock of Governor Sarah Palin's nomination as the Republican's candidate for vice president, they have suddenly discovered that her lack of experience in general-- and foreign policy experience in particular-- is a terrible danger in someone just a heartbeat away from being President of the United States.

For those who are satisfied with talking points, there is no need to go any further. But, for those who still consider substance relevant, this is an incredible argument coming from those whose presidential candidate has even less experience in public office than Sarah Palin, and none in foreign policy.

Moreover, if Senator Barack Obama is elected, he will not be a heartbeat away from the presidency, his would be the heartbeat of the president-- and he would be the one making foreign policy.

But the big talking point is that the Democrats' vice-presidential nominee, Senator Joe Biden, has years of foreign policy experience as a member, and now chairman, of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

That all depends on what the definition of "experience" is.

Before getting into that, however, a plain fact should be noted: No governor ever had foreign policy experience before becoming president-- not Ronald Reagan, not Franklin D. Roosevelt, nor any other governor.

It is hard to know how many people could possibly have had foreign policy experience before reaching the White House besides a Secretary of State or a Secretary of Defense.

The last Secretary of War (the old title of Secretaries of Defense) to later become President of the United States was William Howard Taft, a hundred years ago. The last Secretary of State to become President of the United States was James Buchanan, a century and a half ago.

The first President Bush had been head of the C.I.A., which certainly gave him a lot of knowledge of what was happening around the world, though still not experience in making the country's foreign policy.

Senator Joe Biden's years of service on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is even further removed from foreign policy experience. He has had a front-row seat as an observer of foreign policy. But Senator Biden has never had any real experience of making foreign policy and taking the consequences of the results.

The difference between being a spectator and being a participant, with responsibility for the consequences of what you say and do, is fundamental.

You can read books about crime or attend lectures by criminologists, but you have no real experience or expertise about crime unless you have been a criminal or a policeman.

Although I served in the Marine Corps, I have no military experience in any meaningful sense. The closest I ever came to combat was being assigned to photograph the maneuvers of the Second Marine Division at Camp Lejeune, N.C.

That was photographic experience, not military experience. If someone gave me a policy-making job in the Pentagon, I wouldn't have a clue.

The fact that Senator Joe Biden has for years listened to all sorts of people testify on all sorts of foreign policy issues tells us nothing about how well he understood the issues.

Out of the four presidential and vice-presidential candidates this year, only Governor Palin has had to make executive decisions and live with the consequences.

As for Senator Obama, his various pronouncements on foreign policy have been as immature as they have been presumptuous.

He talked publicly about taking military action against Pakistan, one of our few Islamic allies and a nation with nuclear weapons.

Barack Obama's first response to the Russian invasion of Georgia was to urge "all sides" to negotiate a cease-fire and take their issues to the United Nations. That is standard liberal talk, which even Obama had second thoughts about, after Senator John McCain gave a more grown-up response.

We should all have second thoughts about what is, and is not, foreign policy "experience."
5300  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Pathological Science on: September 06, 2008, 05:46:19 PM
Guinness,  Thanks for the excellent post from Wm Briggs. I wasn't aware of his work. Just looking at the graph it is easy to see how any (crooked) statistician could measure temperature from a trough in the late 1800s or a peak in the early 1600s and (falsely) declare significant amounts of warming or cooling over an extended period.  They not only filter the data statistically, but they also tweak the actual temp data collected with secret algorithms that are written and changed by mortals with biases. 
---
By my calculation, the sea level at the beach in Florida or southern California goes up and down more in a day than it does in a century.  I'm glad that scientists study it all and offer their judgments, but not on my dime.
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