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5251  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness -Gay Rights and the Hagel nomination on: January 09, 2013, 05:28:22 PM
Omaha World Herald July 3 1998:

Openly gay nominee won't get Hagel vote

By Jake Thompson for The World-Herald   July 3, 1998

One day last month, Bob Kerrey asked his Senate colleague and fellow Nebraskan, Chuck Hagel, a favor: Could Kerrey stop by with a controversial ambassadorial nominee who wanted to make a personal pitch to Hagel?

Sure, Hagel said, bring him over.

The meeting didn't turn out as Kerrey wished.

As a courtesy to Kerrey, Hagel said, he would listen to the man - James C. Hormel, 64, a Democratic donor, lawyer and philanthropist - whose nomination to become ambassador to Luxembourg has been blocked in the Senate, his backers say, simply because he is gay.

Perhaps Kerrey had hoped Hormel's Nebraska tie might help. The nominee's grandfather, George A. Hormel, founded the giant Hormel Foods, which opened a meatpacking plant in Fremont in 1947.

Perhaps Kerrey had hoped Hormel's philanthropic record would impress. The National Society of Fundraising Executives named him its outstanding philanthropist for 1996.

"We would love to have somebody like James Hormel as part of the Omaha community," Kerrey said recently. "He's actively involved, he gives generously to very important civic efforts."

Hormel, trying to move his nomination forward, had contacted Kerrey, who turned to Hagel. On June 3 Kerrey escorted Hormel and a State Department official to a meeting in Hagel's office. As a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, which is overseeing the nomination, Hagel could play a helpful role.

"We had a good conversation," Hagel, a Republican, recalled last week. "He's a nice fellow."

Kerrey, a Democrat, called Hormel "as well - qualified a nominee as I've seen" and said the meeting led him to think Hagel would support Hormel for the job.

Not so.

Ambassadorial posts are sensitive, Hagel explained.

"They are representing America," he said. "They are representing our lifestyle, our values, our standards. And I think it is an inhibiting factor to be gay - openly aggressively gay like Mr. Hormel - to do an effective job."

Hagel noted a documentary, filmed with money Hormel donated, that showed teachers how they could teach children about homosexuality. He said he had seen another video clip that showed Hormel at what Hagel called an anti - Catholic event in San Francisco, featuring the "Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence," a group of male drag queens.

"It is very clear on this tape that he's laughing and enjoying the antics of an anti - Catholic gay group in this gay parade," Hagel said. "I think it's wise for the president not to go forward with this nomination."

Luxembourg, he noted, is about 95 percent Roman Catholic.

Hagel thus became the latest of a group of Senate conservatives to come out against Hormel's nomination. Critics say the group is discriminating against a qualified nominee.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D - Calif., has defended Hormel, saying he opposes all forms of discrimination.

Over the years Hormel, a former dean of the Chicago Law School, has given money to civil - rights groups, colleges, symphonies, and to groups fighting autism, breast cancer and AIDS. Hormel listed the contributions in a letter to a supporter, Sen. Gordon Smith, R - Ore. In the letter, Hormel said he provided "minor" support for the teacher documentary and had no control over its content.

The Log Cabin Republicans, a gay group, says the videotape from the San Francisco event resulted when men dressed as nuns walked past a broadcast booth where Hormel, a well - known civic leader in the city, was giving an interview to a local reporter.

Hormel's homosexuality is not the problem, say Hagel and other opponents of the nomination. It's his openness about being gay and his advocacy of some causes, they say.

The Senate's majority leader, Trent Lott, R - Miss., heated the issue recently when he said homosexuality was a problem that should be treated "just like alcohol or sex addiction or kleptomania."

Fellow Republican Sen. Alfonse D'Amato of New York took him to task: "On a personal level, I am embarrassed that our Republican Party, the party of Lincoln, is seen to be the force behind this injustice," D'Amato wrote to Lott, calling for the nomination to be brought to a vote.

Then Sen. Jesse Helms, R - N.C., weighed in against D'Amato, accusing the New Yorker of using the issue to boost his re - election bid.

Helms, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, has vowed to continue blocking a vote on Hormel. The committee on a voice vote last October recommended Hormel's nomination to the full Senate. It has been held up since.

Hormel's supporters say they have the 60 votes needed to break the hold on the nomination - if Lott will allow it to come to the floor.

Hagel, meanwhile, said a homosexual should not necessarily be disqualified from all ambassadorships.

His approach to nominees, he said, has been to examine the person's qualifications first. The United States has had gay ambassadors in the past and gays in the military, who have done well by quietly adopting the Pentagon's current "don't ask, don't tell" attitude.

Hormel, however, has gone beyond that, Hagel said.

He "very aggressively told the world of his gayness and the funding and all the things he's been involved in. I think you do go beyond common sense there, and reason and a certain amount of decorum," Hagel said.

"If you send an ambassador abroad with a cloud of controversy hanging over him, then I think it's unfair to our country, it's unfair to the host country and it's unfair to the ambassador because the effectiveness of that individual is going to be seriously curtailed. That's just a fact of life. And I believe Hormel's situation is one of those."
5252  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: We the Well-armed People (Gun rights stuff ) on: January 09, 2013, 05:15:08 PM
I wonder if Biden is referring to the most common thread running through these violent episodes, these shootings are by people either taking psychiatric medications or who recently stopped taking them without sufficient monitoring by our failed mental health system.

More like he is talking about "infringing" further on the right of responsible, law abiding citizens to keep and bear arms.
5253  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Newt Gingrich on: January 09, 2013, 05:02:48 PM
Gingrich is mostly right.  Of course there are probably only 4 people in the country who could accurately tell you the difference between the debt ceiling, the sequester and the continuing resolution.  The accusation will be the same if they only hold out on the last two, and no default has to occur with the first; it's just that everyone knows they are totally unserious about cutting spending by the full 1.1 trillion up front.

How much SHOULD spending be when we are taking in at the rate of $2.9 trillion per year?

One key fact with all the spending, deficit and debt:  Republicans controlled the House during 14 of the last 18 years.  During the Gingrich-Clinton years, as Newt describes, they negotiated democratic and baseline increases down pretty aggressively.  During the first 6 years of Bush it was a blank check; they mostly deferred to the president of their own party who equated "compassion" with spending.  Then were four enormously costly years of the Pelosi-Reid-Obama disaster.  Then the takeback of Nov 2010.   Then Republicans only fought again to slow the future increases, never to reverse the trillion a year in additional "temporary, emergency" spending.  That is where we are now:  making a trillion a year gap permanent - best case.

One important thing we learned this week: the Speaker of the House does not have to be a member of the House.

Boehner, who "needs this job like a hole in the head', missed an opportunity to really shake things up.  He could have made Newt the new Speaker.  He could have done it expressly for the purpose of closing the deficit trajectory, the unfunded liabilities and restoring our credit.  It would have been President Obama's worst nightmare - at first, only for him to take credit later like Clinton did.  Put the President on notice there is a new (old) Sheriff is in town.  Let the hearings begin on every aspect of spending, waste and unintended consequences of programs.  As Newt says, bring in the Republican governors and start passing reforms that give major functions of government back to the states.  Let the reckless statements like we don't have spending problem get answered in real time.  Interrupt proceedings on the floor of the House and answer him.  We would get the debates some of us wanted and it would be focused only on policy outcomes, not on popularity, swing states or electoral votes. 
5254  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Govt spending, deficit, budget process: Balanced Budget Amendment on: January 09, 2013, 11:03:46 AM
Thanks Crafty.  I wonder if anyone will address it.
I opposed balanced budget amendment proposals for decades because balancing the budget with high spending and high taxes was potentially worse IMO than the smaller imbalances we had back then.  I still oppose all versions of it that have no limits on spending and taxation.

Previous Republican proposals limit federal spending to 18% of GDP and require a super majority to raise taxes.

I would go as high as 20% for the spending limit and require supermajorities to raise taxes or raise the debt ceiling.

Passage with 2/3rds in both chambers of a balanced budget, spending limit amendment should be a requirement for Republican consent for any major debt ceiling increase.  We need an endgame to the madness.

Obama and the Dems in Washington DC have nothing to worry about because after passage in Washington because it still would require ratification by 3/4ths of the state legislatures.  Taking a reasonable and realistic proposal to the states and to the peole would be a very positive step.

Senator Barack Obama, in all his years in the Senate, never voted for a debt ceiling increase.  He called the deficits and debt during the Bush economic boom "unpatriotic".  His characterization is far more true now than it was then.  Increasing borrowing that is maxed out already without a plan to increase income is beyond unpatriotic, more like treason - if escalating the rhetoric is the game being played.
5255  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Govt spending, deficit, and budget process: Krugman and the Trillion Dollar Coin on: January 09, 2013, 10:09:18 AM
Is anyone/everyone following the uproar over the Paul Krugman proposal that we mint the trillion dollar coin, by executive order to get around congressional aversion to raising the debt ceiling?

Krugman's proposal points to the elephant in the room:  If we aren't really borrowing to pay for our unprecedented spending deficits, if we are in fact buying 70-90% of our own debt which is not really borrowing at all, is it really debt restricted by a debt ceiling?  If QE is what it is, inflation and devaluation of our currency instead of debt, why are we calling it debt?  People like Bernancke and Geithner are well aware of this question IMHO and keeping their mouths shut about it. 
5256  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / We the Well-armed People (Gun rights) - David Gregory referred for prosecution on: January 09, 2013, 09:47:02 AM
Alex Jones: That video was my first awareness of him.  Glenn Beck is distancing himself even further from him today on the radio.  Glenn refuses to accept rudeness.  In this video, Jones' mistake was to go rude first.  As Obj I think suggests, that type of strong response is what some of these hosts deserve after they refuse to let the guest talk.  Even then it doesn't advance the cause of drawing more people to your viewpoint. 

The decision on whether anyone should be prosecuted after “Meet the Press” host David Gregory appeared to hold a high-capacity ammunition magazine on national television now belongs to the District’s Office of the Attorney General, authorities said Tuesday.

In an e-mail, a spokeswoman for D.C. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier said her department has “completed the investigation into this matter, and the case has been presented to the OAG for a determination of the prosecutorial merit of the case.”

The NRA as well as WSJ editorial board and some otherson the right  think prosecution is a bad idea because it is a silly law.  The reaction on the left is mostly silence - what can you say to stupidity.  The President's reaction was to be Gregory's star guest on the very next show, while the 'investigation' was proceeding.

What it really illustrates is what a worthless argument Gregory was putting forward, that we might reduce shootings by disarming law-abiding citizens - while demonstrating on national television how easy it is for everyone not concerned with the carefully legislated details of the laws to get any gun, ammo or magazine that they want.

5257  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Bureaucracy and Regulations in action: Steven Hayward - Politicize the EPA! on: January 09, 2013, 09:25:52 AM
Seems like a strange idea until you admit it is all political already.  Replace a sole administrator with a commission that argues policy, rulings and regulations openly and registers the minority dissent publicly.  I love the ending, if you think this is a small change, try proposing it and watch the uproar.

In today's WSJ, excerpt from Powerline:

    There is a reason Congress has adopted the commission model. While a bipartisan consensus exists for regulating some parts of the economy by independent agencies that harness specialized expertise, there remains an underlying partisan disagreement about the means and ends of policy. The commission model recognizes and accommodates these disagreements, with a process that emphasizes public debate and is more transparent and accountable.

    The EPA’s single-administrator model, on the other hand, is based on what amounts to a conceit that some policy matters are beyond politics or meaningful controversy. This is the apotheosis of the Progressive Era ideal, or rather myth, of enlightened administration by neutral experts. It is also a tactic to deny that what are deeply political administrative decisions are in fact political. The single-administrator model makes it much easier for an ideologue like Ms. Jackson to use the regulatory process as a steamroller to achieve policy goals.

    A bipartisan commission would change this dynamic. The president would, as is customary, still appoint a majority of the commissioners, including the chairman. But the minority would have their dissent on policy matters on the record.
    If you think reforming the EPA into a five-member commission is a modest reform of little consequence, here’s a suggestion. Have House Republicans introduce a bill to do this, and watch how ferociously the environmental establishment fights it.
5258  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / California: Living the Turquoise (Yellow/Red) Dream - by Walter Russell Mead on: January 09, 2013, 08:51:20 AM
My favorite alleged Democrat pundit and at least one-time Obama voter has been critical of the blue social model (red/yellow/orange - we don't accept the msm red-blue designations here).

"California is a few years ahead of America as a whole; those who think it is on the wrong road need to think very hard about what is happening and why, because unless something changes, this is where we could all be headed in the not so distant future."
California: Living the Turquoise (Yellow/Red) Dream - by Walter Russell Mead

We’ve been hearing a lot lately about California’s return to fiscal solvency thanks to a round of tax hikes; the ‘one percent’ of Californians are, we have been told, happy to pay their fair share and to participate in the rescue of the Golden State.

That’s what the politicians say; some of the actual taxpayers dissent. As Robert Cristiano laments over at the New Geography website, when the new taxes, the old taxes and the ever-increasing regulatory barrage all come together, life in California loses its charm:

    "What is my fair share? Under existing Federal and State income tax rates, I will pay 50% of my income in taxes. In California alone, my “fair share” on a million dollars of income is $133,000 each year. In exchange for my taxes, I receive little from the state. In addition, I pay gasoline taxes that pay for the upkeep of the highways. I pay airline taxes that maintain the airports I use. I pay among the highest in the nation sales tax on what I consume. I pay property taxes for the schools my grown children no longer use (they have already left California). I pay utility taxes for the upgrade of infrastructure. I pay higher health insurance rates. I already pay more than my own way.

    I used to develop new homes in California and paid development fees, school fees, park fees, bridge & thoroughfare fees, endangered species fees, utility hook up fees, and processing fees to employ the city workers who reviewed my plans. Such fees totaled $40,000 to $75,000 for each new home built in California. I more than paid my own way. Such new homes are no longer feasible in California considering that home prices have fallen between 20-40% since 2008. And with the new regulations to be imposed in 2013 with the passage of the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, housing and energy will cost even more making new houses even less attractive than they are now."

Mr. Cristiano’s problem is that he is a target for all three pillars of California’s progressive coalition. To the Democrats who represent lower income people and to those who represent state and city workers, he is a source of revenue to be milked. To the anti-development greens, he is an enemy to be destroyed—the human equivalent of crabgrass. People who become rich by developing suburban housing tracts were the heroes of post World War Two California; for progressives they have become villains who get rich by destroying the earth.

If he made movies or computer software, Mr. Cristiano would only be sheared; that is, California’s blue coalition would treat him like a sheep, stripping him of wool but otherwise leaving him to go about his business. But because he makes real stuff, they treat him like a mink: they want the whole pelt. In the same way they go after construction, California’s greens heavily tax and regulate manufacturing—again, a mainstay of the post World War Two boom in the state.

The conceptual one percenters in California (Hollywood and Silicon Valley) may well stick around. They can—and do—outsource increasing amounts of their production to escape the state’s cost structure, but an increase in state income taxes is more like a mosquito bite than a visit from Count Dracula for information tycoons in both places.  But for one percenters whose wealth is based on production and construction in the state itself, the picture is much darker. As Cristiano puts it:

 “So many of the 1% are quietly leaving. The exodus has already begun. Spectrum Location Solutions reported that 254 companies left California in 2011. Despite claims of an upturn, a press release by the State Controller’s office last week revealed tax revenues from both personal income taxes and corporate taxes fell during the month of this November. Revenue from personal income dropped 19 percent below projections while corporate tax revenue was down a whopping 213.4 percent. Such declines will continue unabated for years to come as the California brain drain proceeds.”

It’s unclear what Governor Jerry Brown and his fellow policy-makers are thinking. California is the sixth most expensive state to live in, with a top individual tax rate that is the second highest in the nation. One would think that with all this incoming revenue the state’s public services would be sparkling with quality, yet the opposite is true. California public schools rate as some of the most expensive and poorest performing in the country.  In 2011 the Supreme Court ordered that California release 30,000 inmates, deeming the prisons so overcrowded that their conditions qualify as “cruel and unusual punishment.” This shocking move reflects two vital points. First, that with all its wealth, California doesn’t have the funds necessary to build more prisons. Second, that the state is producing too many prisoners—another failure of California civil institutions. Even with its enormous taxes and public institutions that show no sign of benefiting from them, the Golden State still boasts one of the largest budget deficits in the nation.

As regular readers know, Via Meadia doesn’t have a lot of confidence in California’s political and economic management. The confluence of union power with a green hatred of construction forces the state into such cockamamie boondoggles as a $60 billion plus high speed rail. (Unions want jobs, but greens block any kind of construction that doesn’t fit their vision of a low carbon economy.) Call it a turquoise governing philosophy: the mix of green and blue that wants to carry forward 20th century policies like a large civil service and a mass welfare state even as it manages the shift to a post-industrial, low carbon economy.

This strategic vision blends the priorities of three constituencies that are essential for the contemporary Democratic Party in California: rich greens (strong in Hollywood and Silicon Valley), public sector unions (vital statewide political organizations that Democratic candidates can’t win without), and low income Californians (a growing number) who depend on public services.

This is the coalition that nationally the Democratic Party is increasingly coming to resemble as well. The danger to the state and the country is that while this can be a short term majority coalition, it leads to incoherent policy that in the end frustrates at least one of the groups and crimps growth overall.

In California, the bulk of the sacrifices are falling on the low income people who need state and local government services. First, because the green-driven opposition to everything from real estate development to manufacturing kills the blue collar jobs that would facilitate the rise of immigrants and other low income Californians into the middle class. Second, because in order to preserve the position of union workers and retirees, the public sector is so expensive and unwieldy that the interests of consumers of government services are systematically sacrificed in the interests of the producers. Bad schools, tenured teachers. Crowded prisons, happy guards. Cities and counties cutting back on necessary services from trash collection to law enforcement; civil servants doing well.

Via Meadia‘s quarrel with California isn’t really about the goal.  We are as turquoise as Jerry Brown in our own way: we think that a low carbon, post-industrial economy can ultimately provide an abundance that will help everyone. When the turquoise tide rolls in, it really will lift all the boats in the harbor.

But how do you get from Point A to Point B? The California path seems unrealistic in two ways. In the first place, it insists on trying to do all this with the methods and cost structure of the Prussian bureaucratic government model. A big, low-productivity, life-tenured civil service workforce cannot meet the needs of the 21st century, and the more you want this kind of government to do, the less will it will do it and the more it will cost.

Then, partly to raise the revenue for this outsized and unwieldy behemoth, California is both crushing the old economy before the new one is really ready to take its place and it is inhibiting the growth of the new service oriented businesses that could provide jobs for its army of unemployed and unskilled workers. The transition between a manufacturing economy and an information one is going to be tough, especially on blue collar and unskilled workers. California hasn’t really thought through the problem of transitional employment and in California’s case the high local population of unskilled immigrants makes the issue more urgent. California needs to be encouraging manufacturing and real estate development rather than squashing them, and it needs to develop tax, regulatory and zoning policies that favor small business start ups rather than entangling them in red tape.

California and its governor are right to be hopeful about the future. They are right to believe that the 21st century can offer people at all income levels a richer, more dignified life than was ever seen in the past. But the interlocking requirements of their governing coalition lock them into a set of policies that doom them to frustration.

It’s easy for those who worry about the future of America’s most important state (the biggest population, the largest economy, the leader in both the information and entertainment industries) to blame a bunch of misguided Democrats for the state’s predicament. There is some truth to that, but it would be very wrong to let the GOP off the hook. If the governing party is making such a mess, why hasn’t the opposition been able to come up with a coherent and popular counter-plan?

California’s failure is the result of failures of leadership on both sides of the aisle. The GOP needs to study its long running decline and current collapse in California if it is to have any hope of being relevant long term across the country. California is a few years ahead of America as a whole; those who think it is on the wrong road need to think very hard about what is happening and why, because unless something changes, this is where we could all be headed in the not so distant future.

5259  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness - Diversity? on: January 08, 2013, 09:04:48 PM
Obama actually passed up a qualified candidate to be the first woman Sec of Defense in history.  Hagel was more convincingly anti-Israel.

The Republican debates had more diversity than this:

Dems made big fun of Romney's successful search for competent women to fill his top posts as Governor.

Ignoring race and gender and picking competence is the Obama story line.  Two thoughts on that:  1) We could have done that at the top of the ticket, and 2) what large agency has Chuck Hagel run where he demonstrated competence beyond that of all American blacks, Hispanics, gays and women?
5260  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Venezuela on: January 08, 2013, 08:40:05 PM
Denny S. post already states this but CNN also reporting Chavez will not be coming to inauguration.

Looks to me like it is all over midnight Thursday and the 30 day campaign begins.

IBD opins, among others regarding Chavez and the Cuban cancer treatments, that "it didn't have to happen this way."  The cancer may have been treatable at the Sirio-Libanese Hospital in Sao Paulo in Brazil.  (Chavez could have swallowed his socialist, anti-American pride and visited the Mayo clinic where other world leaders go.)
Hugo Chavez Hit By Cuba's Surgical Strike
5261  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Welfare recipients using cash for booze and strippers in NYC on: January 07, 2013, 01:24:40 PM
True and perfectly legal within our misguided programs.  They send buses to the neighborhoods around welfare payday with free transportation to the casinos.  Also the drug trade and weapons to support it as well expressed recently.  In-kind payments like food stamps are converted to cash everyday in places like North Minneapolis and Southside Chicago for 50 cents on the dollar for things like booze, cigarettes and lottery or gambling.  The loser is the American taxpayer.  Everyone else is a willing participant.

Money should only be given out within the confines of a written and monitored plan - for all spending and getting off of assistance if possible.
5262  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Government spending, deficit, budget: Boehner, McConnell, Sequester, Ceiling on: January 07, 2013, 01:13:16 PM
McConnell was on the Sunday shows yesterday saying:  "The Tax Issue Is Finished, Over, Completed".

Boehner was re-elected Speaker.  Boehner says I need this job like a hole in the head.  Chosen for what members hope he has learned in the previous deals, not for the results.  Boehner is interviewed here today:    Boehner says the President denies there is any spending problem,  just a healthcare problem all solved by Obamacare.  Boehner explains the context of saying go f*** yourself to Harry Reid.  Boehner who never loses his temper probably showed members that his heart is in the right place with that outburst.  

Failure to raise the Debt Ceiling does not (necessarily mean default on the debt.  Those who say it does contend that you cannot replace existing debt as it comes due without additional borrowing authority.  Not true according to others, such as incoming Senator Ted Cruz.  Upon a failure to raise the debt ceiling, the federal government still has the tax revenues  cash register open collecting money at the rate of $2.9T/yr.  Interest on the debt is currently just under $0.4T/yr.  The spending budget is $3.8T/yr. including the interest on the debt.  No additional borrowing ever would empower the President to allocate the 2.9T across our most critical expenses of  approved spending and cut the rest.  That is actually quite logical.  We raised "emergency spending" "temporarily" by a trillion dollars.  We chose this economy and growth rate as the new normal.  Mr. President, you got the tax deal you wanted, now spend it any way that you want - and not a penny more.  

Higher debt requires higher income to pay for it.  At the very least, Republicans should require significant pro-growth initiatives passed, not just spending cuts, in exchange for more borrowing.

The Sequester is now the real lever.  With Obama in office for another 4 years and Hagel or other anti-war,  type coming to the Pentagon, there is no need for Republicans to fear defense cuts; they are coming anyway.  Dems thought the Republicans would force the sequester fix into the last deal and they didn't.  We get total cuts of '$1.2T over 10 years' (in CBOspeak) through the sequester and that far more anyone can through 'negotiations' with the President who has no ability, experience or inclination to do that.

5263  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Economics, the market - Scott Grannis at Real Clear Markets on: January 07, 2013, 11:43:29 AM
'Our own' Scott Grannis is one of the top links over at Real Clear Markets "Off the Street" today, Jan 7 2013. 
Give him a click.

10 things growing rapidly

10 charts that show growth in spite of the Obama assault on the economy.  Much of it has already been posted on the board.  Give credit to Scott who takes the time to explain how much better things would be with pro-growth policies.  His charts are more honest than most in that they show current growth within the context of greater growth in earlier years.
5264  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: January 06, 2013, 11:18:04 PM
Laws are for the little people. Ask David Gregory.

David Gregory is a gun criminal.  How will he ever look Eric Holder in the eye again?
5265  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Most open administration in history, hiding official business behind psuedonyms on: January 06, 2013, 05:38:59 PM
All government employees are required by federal law to use official email accounts to conduct government business.  You wouldn't want any Freedom of Information Requests to miss any correspondence/.  Or would you?

Lisa Jackson, aka Richard Windsor, abruptly resigned from EPA last week.  Another scandal brewing?
5266  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Kevin Williamson, What conservatives must know about progressivism to defeat it on: January 06, 2013, 04:35:34 PM
reposted here by request:

I was listening to the Hinderacker Ward virtual radio show and heard Kevin Williamson interviewed about his quite interesting article at National Review.
We must understand the successful attraction of the liberal/Democrat message better than they do to defeat it.

1. In general, people who vote with the progressives are economically more risk-averse compared with conservatives.  "The Democratic party is in fact a coalition of financially risk-averse groups: Women, blacks, and Hispanics all exhibit a high degree of financial risk-aversion when compared with whites and men."

2.  "economic inequality matters much more to Americans than conservatives like to admit."  In poorer countries, people look see things in more absolute terms.  As we get richer and basic needs are met, people look more at how are they doing compared to someone else.

3. "Conservatives see people as assets, and progressives see people as liabilities."  This is a huge difference.  He gives the GM bailout as example.  Liberals see the bailout as keeping those people from all being unemployed and on assistance.  Conservatives see the bailout as keeping them from moving to far more productive activities elsewhere.  Same for abortion.  Liberals see the 'unwanted' as just more mouths to feed, conservatives see the loss of tremendous human talent.

Williamson closes with the conservative turnaround in Sweden.  "Sweden’s reform-oriented conservatives have been able to achieve a great deal not because they are moderate — they are quite radical by Swedish standards — but in part because they took the time to really understand their rivals’ motives and, unlike unsuccessful conservatives before them, did not treat their opponents’ concerns as illegitimate. Conservative reformers took into account Sweden’s egalitarian culture and its consensus-oriented politics rather than wage a Newt Gingrich–style armored assault."

December 31, 2012 4:00 A.M.
Risk, Relativism, and Resources
Three things conservatives must know about progressivism in order to defeat it
By Kevin D. Williamson, National Review

(5 internet pages long at the link.)
5267  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Politics: Kevin Williamson - Risk, Relativism and Resources on: January 06, 2013, 02:31:31 PM
I reposted this with a better description in: 'The Way Forward'.  As a political matter, I would just say it is a great description of the difference between the way liberals and conservatives look at things.

Risk, Relativism, and Resources
Three things conservatives must know about progressivism in order to defeat it
By Kevin D. Williamson, National Review

(5 internet pages long at the link.)
5268  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Pathological Science: China Experiencing Coldest Winter in Decades on: January 06, 2013, 12:23:21 PM
Brrr! China's coldest winter in decades at new low

BEIJING (AP) Jan. 5 2013 -- China is experiencing unusual chills this winter with its national average temperature hitting the lowest in 28 years, and snow and ice have closed highways, canceled flights, stranded tourists and knocked out power in several provinces.

China Meteorological Administration on Friday said the national average was -3.8 degrees Celsius (25 degrees Fahrenheit) since late November, the coldest in nearly three decades.

The average temperature in northeast China dipped to -15.3 degrees C (4.5 degrees F), the coldest in 43 years
5269  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Path Science: New Study Finds No Significant Human-Induced Warming on: January 06, 2013, 12:06:12 PM
"there is no relationship between temperature and the anthropogenic anomaly, once the warming effect of solar irradiance is taken into consideration"

"greenhouse gas forcing, aerosols, solar irradiance and global temperature are not polynomially cointegrated, and the perceived relationship between these variables is a spurious regression phenomenon"

New Study Finds No Significant Human-Induced Warming

At the journal Earth System Dynamics, M. Beenstock, Y. Reingewertz, and N. Paldor have published a paper titled “Polynomial cointegration tests of anthropogenic impact on global warming” which Anthony Watts describes as a potential bombshell. The authors conducted an exhaustive statistical analysis of data from 1850 through 2007, applying the technique of cointegration, which the authors describe as follows:

    Cointegration theory is based on the simple notion that time series might be highly correlated even though there is no causal relation between them. For the relation to be genuine, the residuals from a regression between these time series must be stationary, in which case the time series are “cointegrated”. Since stationary residuals mean-revert to zero, there must be a genuine long-term relationship between the series, which move together over time because they share a common trend. If on the other hand, the residuals are nonstationary, the residuals do not mean-revert to zero, the time series do not share a common trend, and the relationship between them is spurious because the time series are not cointegrated.

You can follow the link for the statistical details, but here is the authors’ conclusion:

    We have shown that anthropogenic forcings do not polynomially cointegrate with global temperature and solar irradiance. Therefore, data for 1880–2007 do not support the anthropogenic interpretation of global warming during this period. This key result is shown graphically in Fig. 3 where the vertical axis measures the component of global temperature that is unexplained by solar irradiance according to our estimates. In panel a the horizontal axis measures the anomaly in the anthropogenic trend when the latter is derived from forcings of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide. In panel b the horizontal axis measures this anthropogenic anomaly when apart from these greenhouse gas forcings, it includes tropospheric aerosols and black carbon. Panels a and b both show that there is no relationship between temperature and the anthropogenic anomaly, once the warming effect of solar irradiance is taken into consideration.

This is Fig. 3a:

Interestingly, the authors also conclude that the data admit the possibility that CO2 and other “greenhouse gases” could contribute to to a temporary increase in global temperatures:

    However, we find that greenhouse gas forcings might have a temporary effect on global temperature. This result is illustrated in panel c of Fig. 3 in which the horizontal axis measures the change in the estimated anthropogenic trend. Panel c clearly shows that there is a positive relationship between temperature and the change in the anthropogenic anomaly once the warming effect of solar irradiance is taken into consideration.

Other scientists will weigh in on these findings, as the debate over climate continues to rage. Still, it is increasingly clear that the most reliable and sophisticated scientific work tends to show that the anthropogenic global warming hypothesis is wrong. In that sense, it is fair to say that a consensus is emerging.
5270  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Issues American Creed (Constitutional Law): Right of Privacy on: January 06, 2013, 11:53:04 AM
The publishing of the names and addresses of the gun owners makes me come back to this question, what is the right of privacy?

Confirming what Crafty posted about Robert Bork is this: "Many originalists, including most famously Judge Robert Bork in his ill-fated Supreme Court confirmation hearings, have argued that no such general right of privacy exists."

Bork was extreme in this view and was not confirmed.  My question to any and all: put to words the best we can, what is our right of privacy? 

Answered two ways, what right of privacy is protected now by at least 5 and maybe 9 Justices.  Reaching further, how should it be defined for those of us inclined to support an even greater protection of our privacy?

Is there a right to not tell the government about your gun purchases and holdings?  Is there a right that if you do tell them that the information can only be used for law enforcement investigations, and beyond that is protected as private?  Is there a right to not tell the government about your healthcare finance choices?  (Guess not.)  Is there a right to tell the U.S. Census Bureau nothing more than how many live in your household?  Is there right to not carry and show ID on the street if you are not buying liquor or doing anything wrong?  Is there a right to not be filmed or if filmed to not have your image used for anything more than the security purposes of the filming either in private establishment or public place?  The questions go on and on with no definition.

Seems to me that the 'right of privacy' is something we all step on quite freely whenever it doesn't fit with our other objectives.
5271  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Venezuela on: January 05, 2013, 12:28:18 PM
Chavez cronies addressing the inauguration question make the coma rumor look true.  I know nothing but it seems to me that cancer in the very late stages is a one way street.  The one saying otherwise is VP Maduro, as his one big shot at the Presidency may be slipping away.  "Chavez was conscious and fighting to recover", said Maduro.  If so, then what is the question about inauguration on schedule as required?

I would hope the opposition start right in with their campaign on Jan. 11 no matter what 'ruling' comes down.
5272  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Venezuela - new election by Feb. 10? on: January 04, 2013, 12:01:57 PM
If coma reports reports are true, then?

The constitution says Chávez, who in October won re-election to a new six-year term, is supposed to be sworn in a week from today, on Jan. 10. But his condition would appear to preclude that happening. So here’s what Article 233 says:

"When an elected President becomes permanently unavailable to serve prior to his inauguration, a new election … shall be held within 30 consecutive days.”
5273  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness: Fiscal Cliff Worries on: January 04, 2013, 11:39:14 AM
I wish the President all the time with his family he can muster, and a little time out of the office.  Commuting to and from and to and from Hawaii for a false crisis he created however seems wasteful.  The cost of flying Air Force One from Andrews AFB, Washington DC to Hawaii is $1,800,000 - one way - slightly more than four years salary of being Commander in Chief.  He took four of those flights, ($7.2 million?) hopefully 'carpooling' with family on two of them, unlike the trips to Martha's Vineyard where they flew separately.  That money could have bought a lot of free birth control for the homeless.

Some complain of the cost.  Not me, my worry is with the CO2 emissions.  While he is playing little gotcha games with political opponents for a deal tht still leaves trillion dollar deficits, the Arctic is melting.

With fiscal issues still burning we can expect a fossil fuel excise tax soon that applies to ... the rest of us.

Washington Post photo, the President drains an expensive putt while the east coast Sandy victims wait for relief
5274  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / George Will: Our Decadent Democracy on: January 04, 2013, 11:03:24 AM
George Will sums it up well our current, destructive course:

Our decadent democracy

By George F. Will, Published: January 2

Connoisseurs of democratic decadence can savor a variety of contemporary dystopias. Because familiarity breeds banality, Greece has become a boring horror. Japan, however, in its second generation of stagnation is fascinating. Once, Japan bestrode the world, jauntily buying Rockefeller Center and Pebble Beach. Now Japanese buy more adult diapers than those for infants.

George Will

Deficit spending once was largely for investments — building infrastructure, winning wars — which benefited future generations, so government borrowing appropriately shared the burden with those generations. Now, however, continuous borrowing burdens future generations in order to finance current consumption. Today’s policy, says DeMuth, erases “the distinction between investing for the future and borrowing from the future.”

It is now as clear as it is unsurprising that most Americans will be spared the educational experience of “fiscal cliff”-related tax increases and spending cuts, which would have been a small but instructive taste of the real costs of the entitlement state.

Still, December’s maneuverings taught three lessons.

First, there will be no significant spending restraint. Democrats — you know: the people respectful of evidence and science — even rejected a more accurate measurement of the cost of living that would slightly slow increases in myriad government benefits. Accuracy will be sacrificed to liberalism’s agenda of government growth.

Second, Barack Obama has (as Winston Churchill said of an adversary) “the gift of compressing the largest amount of words into the smallest amount of thought.” His incessant talking swaddles one wee idea — raising taxes on “millionaires and billionaires,” including people earning less than half a million. He has nothing pertinent to say about the steadily worsening fiscal imbalance that will make sluggish growth — less than 3 percent — normal.

Third, one December winner was George W. Bush because a large majority of Democrats favored making permanent a large majority of his tax cuts. December’s rancor disguised bipartisan agreement: Both parties flinch from cliff-related tax increases and spending decreases. But neither the increases nor decreases would have tamed the current $1 trillion-plus budget deficit nor made a discernible dent in the 87-times-larger unfunded liabilities of the entitlement state.

This state cannot be funded by taxing “the rich.” Or even by higher income taxes on the middle class. Income taxes cannot fund the government liberals want, and they dare not seek the consumption and energy taxes their entitlement architecture requires. Hence, although Republicans are complicit, Democrats are ardent in embracing decadent democracy. This consists not just of infantilism — refusing to will the means for the ends one has willed — but also of willing an immoral means: conscripting the wealth of future generations.

As economists Glenn Hubbard and Tim Kane explain in National Affairs quarterly, the U.S. political system “cannot govern the entitlement state” that “exists largely to provide material benefits to individuals.” Piling up unsustainable entitlement promises — particularly, enactment of Medicare in 1965 and the enrichment of Social Security benefits in 1972 — has been improvident for the nation but rational for the political class. The promised expenditures, far in excess of revenue, would come due “beyond the horizon of political consequences.”

“Our politicians,” say Hubbard and Kane, “are acting rationally” but “politically rational behavior is now fiscally perverse.” Both parties are responding to powerful electoral incentives to neither raise taxes nor cut spending. Hence, “the clash over raising the debt limit that gripped Washington during the summer of 2011 was just the beginning, not the end, of our fiscal woes.”

But the perils of the entitlement state are no longer (in Hubbard’s and Kane’s words) “safely beyond the politicians’ career horizons.” Furthermore, a critical mass of Republicans reject the careerists’ understanding of “politically rational” behavior. These Republicans have a different rationale for being in politics.

The media, which often are the last to know things because their wishes father their thoughts, say the tea party impulse is exhausted. Scores of House Republicans and seven first-term Republican senators (Rand Paul, Mike Lee, Pat Toomey, Ted Cruz, Ron Johnson, Marco Rubio and Tim Scott) will soon — hello, debt ceiling — prove otherwise.
5275  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: We the Well-armed People (Gun rights stuff ) on: January 04, 2013, 10:54:48 AM
Nice post sgtmac.  Valid points for sure on the effects of the failed war on drugs.  Your final point though is what I think is the key to it all: "...the destruction of the black family is the root of the violence..." 

It is hard to establish cause and effect relationships.  My view is that destruction of the inner-city family, too often black, was accelerated by our welfare state that often required removal of the father in order to qualify for the 'assistance'.  Mothers had babies that guaranteed subsistence checks.  'Fathers' had idle time on their hands in place of the responsibility of supporting family.  Able bodied men didn't get the assistance that we pay a single woman with children.  The quickest and easiest appearing money in the neighborhood is in drugs, and illegal trafficking is enforced with violence.
5276  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: January 04, 2013, 10:23:34 AM
"POTH gets gold, silver and bronze!"

Thomas Friedman, Maureen Dowd and David Brooks.  Good choices, my list might have been all-Krugman.

They link to a piece at Rolling Stone ridiculing Friedman, the Friedman challenge metaphor contest.  I didn't know people ridiculed Friedman.  Very funny.  "A metaphor is supposed to make things clearer, but it's actually easier to understand Mesopotamian politics than some of these columns."  The contest could be to tell which is Friedman's column and which is the parody:

"[Nobody's] willing to fall on the Syrian grenade and midwife a new order. So the fire rages uncontrolled ... and the Shiite-Sunni venom unleashed by the Syrian conflict" strains relations regionwide. Will venom-grenades give way to chainsaw-nails? It's a "breathtaking" performance that really makes your head pound."
5277  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Rise of DIY Abortions; legal challenges on: January 03, 2013, 09:02:23 PM

Powerful piece BD!  On the one hand, prosecuting mothers doesn't win anyone over to the movement.  On the other hand, she sure showed signs of knowing she was killing someone:

"Following the instructions, she took the first pill right away and the others some hours later. That night, she started having cramps. The next morning, Christmas Eve, she delivered a dead fetus alone in her bathroom, along with the placenta and a great deal of blood.

The fetus was much bigger than she had expected. It was about a foot long, clearly female, with identifiable features and hair. McCormack wrapped the remains in a bag with the placenta. Then she put it in a box and hid it under her bed. That evening, she attended Christmas Eve dinner at her father’s place and dropped her daughter off with her ex-husband for an overnight visit. She wrapped the children’s presents, including new clothes she’d bought on layaway for her fashion-conscious daughter, and put them under the tree. She told no one about the abortion apart from her sister.

After about a week, the box began to emit an odor. McCormack wrapped it up in more bags and put it out on the back porch, on the shelf of a covered barbecue. It didn’t feel right to her to throw it away."... "what she wants most is a proper burial. “Just because of the circumstances doesn’t mean I’m heartless”

A five year felony seems so extreme.  With facts just slightly different, born alive, killed, plotting trips, expenses, ordering supplies, across state lines, hiding the body etc, would look a lot like 1st degree murder.  This one wasn't born alive, but it was a live little girl before she killed it. Having 2 kids already, she knew what it was.
5278  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Roe’s Pro-Life Legacy on: January 03, 2013, 08:14:15 PM

Some valid points in there, but the progress is pretty pathetic, and tragic.  The pro-life movement is not about having a movement, it is about changing outcomes.  40 million slaughtered isn't what anyone in the movement would point to as making progress.

I think the imaging processes and ability to detect heartbeats etc. make the biggest difference.  That information would get right to the people through science and mainstream professional journalism anyway, with or without a pro-life movement.  (Just kidding.)

Removing a divisive issue from the electorate may sound good but isn't that mostly what oppressive governments do?

We had a Chinese student with us for Christmas break.  People asked her about life back home near Shanghai, things like do you have brothers and sisters?  A little cultural ignorance was exposed there.  If siblings were conceived, their outcomes were "removed from the political process".

From the title I thought it was about the real Roe - Norma McCorvey - and her conversion and advocacy for  pro-life.
5279  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Surprise: Obamacare-wary employers not hiring, cutting hours on: January 03, 2013, 07:24:42 PM
Surprise: Obamacare-wary employers not hiring, cutting hours
 ...”It will have a negative impact on job creation”   ...The health care law will particularly affect companies with 40 to 45 workers that plan to expand and hire. Many are holding off so they don’t cross the 50-employee threshold...

Whether it is taxes or regulations or the piling on of both, we follow the path of France: (posted previously) "Why France Has So Many 49-Employee Companies

Maybe the oaths of office for President, Congress or IRS agent should include swearing to "do no harm".
5280  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Greatest Companies started in the Obama era: on: January 03, 2013, 03:38:00 PM
Great American Companies started in the Obama era:

Could be a thread in itself, trying to track this.  Henninger at WSJ writes:

"the number is about zero (Facebook emerged in 2004; Twitter in 2007)"


Feel free to add to the list...
5281  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Boehner re-elected as Speaker; Nine Republicans defect in vote on: January 03, 2013, 03:31:18 PM

2 votes for for outgoing member Allen West.  I did not know that the Speaker of the House does not have to be a member of the House.  We have been foolishly limiting our choices!
5282  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: January 03, 2013, 03:26:15 PM
Pres. Obama "held onto 95% of the people who supported him in 2008" - Karl Rove today:

That is amazing.  Still it should have been enough lost support to defeat him.

Knowing that minds are really hard to change, I would have guessed 5% of his 2008 voters would have stayed home because the hope change hype made no improvement but they still aren't Republicans, and 5% would switch sides and vote the other way.  That would have been enough to change the result and would have changed our policies already, even before inauguration.
5283  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Media Issues- Tie McConnell, Boehner to back of Chevy pickup truck and drag them on: January 03, 2013, 03:12:37 PM
Civility continued:

This could go in cog diss of the left or into the gun rights thread if it was an attempt at a coherent argument but really it is a death by torture threat to gun rights people and Republican leadership sent out via the Des Moines Register.

"• Declare the NRA a terrorist organization and make membership illegal. Hey! We did it to the Communist Party, and the NRA has led to the deaths of more of us than American Commies ever did. (I would also raze the organization’s headquarters, clear the rubble and salt the earth, but that’s optional.) Make ownership of unlicensed assault rifles a felony. If some people refused to give up their guns, that “prying the guns from their cold, dead hands” thing works for me.

• Then I would tie Mitch McConnell and John Boehner, our esteemed Republican leaders, to the back of a Chevy pickup truck and drag them around a parking lot until they saw the light on gun control."
5284  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: January 03, 2013, 03:03:30 PM
Trivia:  The Dick Harman who bought Newspeak for $1 (!!!) is the May-December husband of now former Congresswoman Jane Harman of the 32d of CA and the CEO/founder of Harman Electronics.  Jane was one of my opponents when I ran for the Libertarian Party in 1992.   Dick came up after the first debate and introduced himself and rather angrily took exception to my calling her economic policies "economic fascism".  I sincerely did my best to explain that my intended meaning was not to impute anti-semitism--he comes from a generation where that was part of the understanding of the term for many and he, like me, is Jewish.  In conclusion I sincerely said that he must be very proud of his daughter.  With more than a little warmth he informed me that she was his wife.

I would add that Jane "lent" some $900,000 to her campaign-- which was then legally repaid to her by donations after she won to retire her campaign debts.  In other words, donors were giving her money that went straight into her own pocket.

I love the line 'you must be very proud of your daughter' whether you knew it was his wife or not.  )

Re-paying after the election also is a way to non-disclose the donors to the voters.

Buying Newsweek for $1 reminds me of my old bragging line of making more money last year than the top 3 airlines combined (even if is only $1 or a small loss).
5285  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Tax Policy: Malpass - Nothing is certain but more debt and more taxes on: January 02, 2013, 04:28:15 PM
[Overtaxing the rich] "hurts aspiring Americans more than it hurts those who have already made it."

This is a very important point that I wish had been made persuasively by Romney, House Republicans, and those who will follow.

This deal is almost all about taxes.  The Republicans will have another chance to cut spending, if they even want to, at the edge of the debt ceiling.  Malpass is right, after we don't cut spending or reform entitlements, it is just more debt and more taxes forever.

One important piece of the deal that may never have been otherwise corrected is the estate tax.  When we surrender all we ever earned and saved, even at death, we have lost.

The highest federal tax rate including surcharges is now 44-46%.  In a high tax state that means approaching 60%.  Combine the cost of regulations and you might as well round it to 100.
David Malpass: Nothing Is Certain Except More Debt and Taxes
The Senate fiscal-cliff bill still means higher taxes on every working American. So much for just going after 'the rich.'


Whatever ultimately emerges from the fiscal-cliff negotiations over the past 48 hours, the country will survive. But the damage can't be undone. Taxes are going up for all working Americans. And so is the size of government.

Businesses have been waiting to see whether a second Obama administration will encourage the economy. During the fiscal-cliff negotiations, however, the president made clear that his goal isn't to get business going again but instead to expand government and redistribute income. He offered no real spending cuts and instead used the year-end deadline to divide America into classes—to the point of campaigning on New Year's Eve against higher earners. Though the president talks about fairness, his policies penalize profit and investment. This hurts aspiring Americans more than it hurts those who have already made it.

The deal that emerged from the Senate early Tuesday morning is being sold as a tax cut for the middle class, but the expiration of the two-percentage-point payroll tax holiday means that working Americans' take-home pay will drop. The bill reduces the value of tax deductions for upper incomes and, with the new open-ended 3.8% Medicare tax that was enacted under ObamaCare, income-tax rates on families and small business owners earning over $450,000 have been pushed above 44%.

The Senate bill makes the tax code more complex, provides for no spending cuts and creates four deadlines—for the debt-limit increase within weeks, the March 1 automatic spending cuts known as the sequester, a second sequester on March 27 (to make up for overspending since the first sequester) and the March 30 expiration of government spending authority. These deadlines will keep Washington negotiations on the front page for months but with little likelihood that government will cut programs, sell assets or downsize the 1,300 federal agencies and commissions.

No wonder many House Republicans balked at what was presented. The New Year's Day legislation is breathtaking in its largess. The Senate bill extends 52 tax credits, mostly for one year, ensuring huge annual lobbying fees and political contributions. Section 206 provides a juicy capital-gains tax exemption for contributions of property for conservation, meaning wealthy environmentalists with extra acreage will be able to take a tax deduction for the appreciated property and have the environmental organization preserve it, adding to the value of the primary property. Section 312 provides faster tax deductions for "motorsports entertainment complexes." Section 317 allows expensing of film and television productions, meaning lower taxes for Hollywood.

The bill devotes much space to tax credits for government-approved energy schemes, providing taxpayer subsidies for energy-efficient new homes, existing homes, appliances, cellulosic biofuel and "Indian coal facilities." Underscoring the complexity of the tax code, the bill takes seven pages to index the alternative minimum tax for inflation because it takes side trips to curry favor with the owners of plug-in electric vehicles and with first-time home-buyers in the District of Columbia.

The pattern across the developed world is for politicians to negotiate with each other and, after much drama, make the brave decision to downsize jobs through taxes and mandates rather than downsizing government. This country is no different: Whatever tax and spending decisions Washington makes over the next few months, the likelihood is that government will be bigger in 2013 and the fiscal problems even more urgent.

There has emerged from the budget negotiations no process to cut government programs, limit the debt or reform the tax code. Many tax rates have now gone up and almost no spending restraint has been implemented, hurting 2013 investment and hiring. Even if the spending sequester is allowed to proceed on March 1 or substitutes are found, the cuts will be a small fraction of the spending binge in recent years that left a string of $1 trillion deficits.

The Congressional Budget Office scores the Senate bill as adding $4 trillion to the national debt by 2022. That assumes the sequester or equivalent spending cuts are fully implemented in March, which seems unlikely. Some are hoping that during the coming confrontation over the debt-limit increase fiscal conservatives will be able to recover lost ground on spending. That won't work, because the debt limit doesn't provide much leverage.

The debt-limit statute was written specifically to make it easier to increase the debt, not as a way to limit the debt. It should be repealed and replaced with a law that cuts spending when there is too much debt. While Republicans rightly want to stop the unending growth in debt, the current debt-limit statute gives most of the power to the president, allowing him to shut down parts of the government and blame holdouts until he gets enough votes for more debt.

Rather than rejecting an increase in the debt limit, fiscal conservatives should offer a lasting remedy. This would be a debt-to-GDP limit that, when exceeded, would give the president the power to underspend congressional appropriations and to propose fast-track reductions in entitlements—but would also require him to make monthly reports to the public on excess spending and prohibit raises for government employees making over $100,000.

Fighting under the current rules isn't working and leaves government inexorably bigger. The country can't afford this approach. Demographics are making it harder each year to restrain spending or win elections on the platform of limited government. The rules pit fiscal conservatives against themselves, leading to bigger government.

Regardless of how the current crisis is ultimately resolved, there is sure to be another. Republicans and fiscally conservative Democrats should use every opportunity to strengthen the framework for limited government, in order to restrain federal spending and allow the private economy to grow.

Mr. Malpass, a deputy assistant Treasury secretary and legislative manager for the 1986 Tax Reform Act in the Reagan administration, is president of Encima Global LLC.
5286  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Who Killed Newsweek? on: January 02, 2013, 03:49:52 PM

Interesting piece.  They cite other news magazines still doing well, but print in general is having problems.  I don't have to pick up a magazine or newspaper to read news.  If it is a day old or a week old it had better be loaded with insights.  Newsweek had 70 years to build a better reputation and didn't.  George Will is great but not a unique asset of Newsweek or part of a theme in their content.  Zakaria, brilliant?  Wow! To the extent that Time leans left with mainstream redundancy, Newsweek could have carved out a different slice instead of competing for the same dollar - and losing.  The Economist is far more interesting and global.  At the least, it is different from the others.
5287  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tax Policy on: January 02, 2013, 03:17:36 PM
"To take from one, because it is thought his own industry and that of his fathers has acquired too much, in order to spare to others, who, or whose fathers, have not exercised equal industry and skill, is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association, the guarantee to everyone the free exercise of his industry and the fruits acquired by it." --Thomas Jefferson

Can you imagine a leader today with a thought that deep?  Now we have the Choom gang setting the course.
5288  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: More twaddle from a Georgetown Law Prof on: January 02, 2013, 03:08:04 PM
Yes. Twaddle.  (Who Pays for the Right to Bear Arms? By DAVID COLE)

"...the broader tragedy of gun violence is felt mostly not in leafy suburbs, but in America’s inner cities."

 - The 'planners' want us out of x-urbs and into high density.  But collisions increase with the square of density.

"The right to bear arms typically invokes the romantic image of a cowboy toting a rifle on the plains. In modern-day America, though, the more realistic picture is that of a young black man gunned down in his prime in a dark alley. When we celebrate gun rights, we all too often ignore their disproportionate racial burdens. Any effort to address gun violence must focus on the inner city. "

  - No. The right to bear arms brings to me the image of the Bill of Rights, all of which are amendable.  Substitute "constitutional rights" for "gun rights".  Why do these anti-rights zealots want to teach constitutional law; yet ignore Article V, the amendment process?

"Last year Chicago had some 500 homicides, 87 percent of them gun-related...African-Americans are 33 percent of the Chicago population, but about 70 percent of the murder victims."

  - Chicago has among the strictest gun laws in the country, and the highest gun crime rate.  WHY?

"Could it be that the laxity of the nation’s gun laws is tolerated because its deadly costs are borne by the segregated black and Latino populations of North Philadelphia and Chicago’s South Side?"

  - Where did that come from, is he a law professor or an MSNBC host?  I would love to see his writings that plea us to shut down abortion 'rights' that hit blacks with similar disproportionality.  Those deaths are FAR more preventable.

"Gun rights defenders argue that gun laws don’t reduce violence, noting that many cities with high gun violence already have strict gun laws. But this ignores the ease with which urban residents can evade local laws by obtaining guns from dealers outside their cities or states. Effective gun regulation requires a nationally coordinated response."

  - Good point - if you believe the borders are sealed and the war on drugs was a success.

To tweak the National Rifle Association’s refrain, “guns don’t kill people; indifference to poverty kills people.”

  - Liberal incoherence.  We don't have poverty in these communities.  We have dependency. We have hugely expensive programs that don't even look at unintended consequences.  Poverty is the lack of wealth.  We have widespread failure of an underclass to pursue the productive activities that lead to wealth creation.  Indifference to poverty is when you support paying people to stay out of productive work, away from personal responsibility while selectively stomping out other rights like personal security, property rights and keeping the fruits of your labor.
5289  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The lottery of life on: January 02, 2013, 09:14:39 AM
"Warren Buffett, probably the world’s most successful investor, has said that anything good that happened to him could be traced back to the fact that he was born in the right country, the United States, at the right time (1930). A quarter of a century ago, when The World in 1988 light-heartedly ranked 50 countries according to where would be the best place to be born in 1988, America indeed came top. But which country will be the best for a baby born in 2013?"

USA no. 16, right behind Europe and Asia - with the power IMO to move back up to no. 1 if only we wanted to.
5290  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Hillbillary Clintons long, sordid, and often criminal history on: December 31, 2012, 11:16:41 PM
Previously on Benghazi:  "The injury/illness seems like either BS or hiding something more serious (Daily Mail says it is not brain cancer...)"

My heart goes out to Hillary with her health challenges.  My disagreement is over policy and tactics, not her well being. 

The fable about crying wolf led to the question: how will we know when you are telling the truth?  I have no idea what is true or false about Hillary.  Press reports are of little help. 

Get well, and then come testify.  We have questions for you.
5291  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: If go after guns better go after the freakin media on: December 31, 2012, 10:53:30 PM
...given the statistical anamoly of these events, one should not throw them on to the multitudes of those with Aspergers who are violent to no one...

Cherry picking my excerpt for agreement. )  Disorders and syndromes like Asperger's are defined so vaguely or broadly (MHO) that drawing a connection to mass shooting I agree is a "statistical anomaly".  I find the so called personality disorders to be more in the direction of Psychopath, but only extreme cases.

Much unknown and much to be learned about mental health.  Far more helpful than studying guns.
5292  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / We the Well-armed People: Gallup Poll: NRA Way More Popular Than the Media on: December 28, 2012, 08:23:19 PM
Gallup Poll: NRA Way More Popular Than the Media (2 threads this could go in.)

5293  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Housing/Mortgage/Real Estate on: December 28, 2012, 08:08:18 PM
A chart from Scott Grannis' website yesterday tells the same story in context:

Your real estate investment, if you were able to hold it, had no appreciation over the last 13 years.  Yet for every million you had invested at the start of the year 2000, you owe up to $162,000 (capital gains tax on inflationary gain) if you sell next year (New federal rate+state tax +surcharge) - on NO real gain or income!  Worse than that by more than double if held by a taxable C-corp.

5294  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / US Economics, stock and other investment strategies: NY Times on Bond Pessimism on: December 28, 2012, 07:55:52 PM
This eery piece follows the mortgage discussion, only larger and wider.  Bonds are investments that gamble on both inflation and interest rates.  Interest rates today are a quasi-government (Fed) manufactured product, not the result of aggregate savers and lenders finding an equilibrium.  Inflation of our currency is happening today in front of our eyes; the price consequences, as of now, are not.  A liberal friend forwarded this to me earlier.  I responded to him: "Who is the buyer of this foolish investment?  We are." (I gave him 3 links showing the Fed is buying 70% to 90% of our debt.)  "When no one (else) buys these worthless bonds, it means we all just did.  If balancing the budget is hard now, try doing it in 2017! "  He responded, "That's right. Pretty extreme times."

Scary stuff when opposite sides see the same freight train headed straight towards us.

Reading Pessimism in the Market for Bonds
Published: December 27, 2012                        

“Certificates of Confiscation.”

In September 1981, during a lengthy bond bear market, Wall Street was telling The New York Times that bonds were a bad investment. A bull market soon followed.

Three decades ago, that was what some people said bonds really were. The interest the bond paid would not be enough, they said, to offset the declining value of dollars as inflation added up. The “real” — after-inflation — bond yield would be negative.

That was just as the great bull market in bonds began. Bonds were great investments, and the bond bears turned out to have been dead wrong.

Now we have come full circle. The government is selling bonds that are absolutely, positively guaranteed to not pay enough to offset inflation over the coming years. It is even possible that someone who bought a new Treasury security that will be issued on Monday will end up getting fewer dollars back than he or she invested — interest and principal combined — between now and when the bond matures in 2017.

The securities are inflation-protected Treasury notes. If inflation ticks up significantly over the coming years, investors will get back more dollars than originally invested. But not enough to come close to keeping up with inflation. If there is no inflation, they will get back less than they invested.

When those securities were auctioned last week, buyers agreed to accept a real yield of negative 1.496 percent. It takes a lot of pessimism — about the economy and the future of the United States — to think an investment certain to lose money is an investment worth making.

The great bear market in bonds, both corporates and governments, lasted 35 years, from 1946 to 1981. The bull market lasted about 30 years. A new bear market almost certainly has begun.

If that is true, those seeking a little income now by going out the yield curve will come to rue the decision. They will get the promised interest, but as market interest rates rise, the price of those bonds will decline and decline and decline.

On Oct. 26, 1981, which can be dated as the bottom of the great bond bear market, the yield on 30-year Treasury bonds rose to 15.21 percent. On that date, a Treasury bond issued in 1970 and scheduled to mature in 2000 was quoted at less than 56 percent of face value. It had a coupon of 7.875 percent, but that was not deemed enough to compensate investors for the risk.

At market extremes, it is often worth analyzing what has to be true for a given investment to be a good, or bad, value. Back in 1981, you had to assume that inflation would not only remain in double digits for decades, but that it would also continue to rise, for a newly issued Treasury bond to turn out to be a bad investment. Yet many investors assumed it would be. After all, a lot of people on Wall Street in 1981 could not remember a time when bonds were good investments.

A few weeks before rates peaked, Seth Glickenhaus, an experienced bond trader and head of Glickenhaus & Company, an investment advisory firm, spoke the conventional wisdom when he said, “Anyone who buys a bond today to hold for more than five years is out of his mind.”

Michael Gavin, the head of United States asset allocation for Barclays, pointed out this month that over the past 30 years an investor who stayed invested in American, or British, 10-year government bonds would have earned more than 5 percent a year over inflation.

“It does not require advanced market math to understand that returns like these are no longer remotely plausible,” he wrote. “But they say that fish don’t know that they live in water — until they are removed from it — and we wonder if some of the many market participants whose entire professional experience has been conditioned by the financial backdrop created by the bond market rally might underestimate some consequences of its termination.”

Even if rates stay where they are for the next five years, and investors collect the interest coupons, he said, “bonds will be transformed from wealth creators into wealth destroyers.”

Or at least they will be unless there is severe deflation. For that is the only situation that will allow today’s new long-term bonds to turn into good investments.

Is that possible? To think it is likely, you pretty much have to assume that economic growth is a thing of the past in both the United States and Europe. It is not an optimistic outlook.
5295  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Housing/Mortgage/Real Estate on: December 28, 2012, 07:46:04 PM
"Why is the tax payer assuming all the risk on privately held mortgages?... doing nothing more than trying to eliminate the Private Housing Market."

Yes, a Big Deal.  Wrong on constitutional powers and limits, and as GM says, leading to a crash bigger than we have see.

If the people only knew the government was plotting a complete takeover of housing and healthcare and energy and transportation and agriculture and education, the vote would be... roughly 51-48 in favor.

Where in the constitution did the federal government get the power to do this?  The Commerce Clause??  A house moves across state lines because money does?

Instead of asking what are the limits of this federal power, the supporters of big government ask the question backwards:  Since we have all this power, control over mortgages in this case, how can we grow it further and use it to 'benefit' more people?

There is no S (savings) in S&L anymore.  The top savings account pays 1/10th of one percent interest.  Try illustrating the magical power of compound interest to your kid using that multiplier.  There aren't people out there with combined, insured savings of $100,000 backing up every loan of $100,000.  There is nothing there.  Money is just printed, in bizarre amounts - billions and trillions, no exaggeration.  There are technocrats making social engineering decisions using an increasingly diluted currency backed only with fiction and faith in technocrats and their ability to extend the fiction for another day.  There isn't a private market for mortgages and there isn't a market interest rate anymore.  It is all subsidized and manipulated.  

"It's only temporary until the crash."  And when it all fails, we blame the "free" market and intervene all the more.

5296  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Housing/Mortgage/Real Estate on: December 28, 2012, 07:08:45 PM
You couldn't be suggesting our revered professional journalists might be distorting the facts, could you? Huh

Worse yet, they are reporting accurately without informing you whatsoever.  Giving the right answer to the wrong question.
5297  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Housing/Mortgage/Real Estate on: December 28, 2012, 06:14:08 PM
PP: "2012 will be the 3rd Worst Year since the stats began............only 2011 and 2010 were worse. "

The omission of this elephant in the room is what is wrong with nearly all current reporting on housing. 

"expectations for prices to rise 3.1 percent in 2013"
"Sales were up in the South and Northeast"
"Sales are up 15.3% from a year ago"
"median price of new homes sold was $246,200 in November, up 14.9% from a year ago"

5298  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: December 28, 2012, 02:30:10 PM
Wrapping up the old year's politics with two different looks with hindsight, Peggy Noonan and Michael Barone below.

Peggy Noonan today:  "...the most wrongheaded criticism of the year. The thing I denigrated not only turned out to be important—it was probably the most important single element in the entire 2012 campaign.

In writing about what struck as the president's essential aloofness, I said there were echoes of it even in his organization. I referred to a recent hiring notice from the Obama 2012 campaign. "It read like politics as done by Martians. The 'Analytics Department' is looking for 'predictive Modeling/Data Mining' specialists to join the campaign's 'multi-disciplinary team of statisticians,' which will use 'predictive modeling' to anticipate the behavior of the electorate. 'We will analyze millions of interactions a day, learning from terabytes of historical data, running thousands of experiments, to inform campaign strategy and critical decisions.' "

This struck me as "high tech and bloodless." ... It was unlike any politics I'd ever seen. And it won the 2012 campaign. They didn't just write a new political chapter with their Internet outreach, vote-tracking data-mining and voter engagement, especially in the battleground states. They wrote a whole new book. And it was a masterpiece.

Michael Barone sees it differently:

"Barack Obama got 6 percent fewer popular votes than he had gotten in 2008. And Mitt Romney got only 1 percent more popular votes than John McCain had four years before."

"[Obama carried Florida by 1 percent, Ohio by 3 percent, Virginia by 4 percent, and Colorado and Pennsylvania by 5 percent." 

Yes, there was an amazing turnout operation for Obama to not slide even worse.  But the bottom line is that Romney failed to inspire more people to switch or to just come vote for him.  Failure to bump up the Republican vote by a mere 5 or 6% over McCain's disaster in 2008 cost Romney those 5 battlegrounds and the election.
5299  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: POTH: Irish carbon tax on: December 28, 2012, 12:08:40 PM
As frequently noted in the Tax thread, what you tax more you get less of.   So why not tax what you don't want (e.g. pollution) and don't tax what you do want (income, profit, savings, jobs, etc.)?   By so doing the pricing mechanism of it all will inform us as to how much pollution we are willing to have.   Very, very unfortunately, this concept seems to embraced by the Left without the part about cutting taxes on good things in equal measure.

I follow you in concept and agree this is interesting and important coverage. 

That said, there is a difference between CO2 in normal activities and real pollution, like dumping mercury into the water supply or sulfur into the air.  CO2 is associated with productive activities that are easily moved elsewhere.  Punitive taxation can force those activities out.  For a system like that to work, we still need to keep public sector costs competitive and keep that tax rate low enough to maximize revenue, not just chase away activities like production, transportation and the heating/cooling of homes and schools.

If CO2 reduction is paramount, why aren't we all over nuclear with zero CO2 emissions?  Zero emissions would also mean zero tax revenue, giving the government a perverse incentive.  Nuclear has other risks, how do we price that?

Pointed out in the premise, one HUGE problem with giving another tax the left is that this is in addition to all the other taxes, not in lieu of them.  Like capital gains rates at 15%, they don't even mention there are at least 4 other taxes levied on the same 'gain', just that 15% is a low rate, lower than Warren Buffet's 150k/yr secretary pays. The left is raising taxes on incomes of the wealthy explicitly because they want to lower the incomes of the wealthy, not to raise revenues.  The piling on of new taxes without eliminating old ones was the deal breaker for the consumption tax.  This is both a consumption tax and a production tax.  I strongly oppose adding new tax sources in this political environment, especially those that apply arbitrarily and unevenly.
5300  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: December 27, 2012, 02:13:51 PM
On that Inouye eulogy (previous post in the thread) the final count was “my” 21 times, “me” 12 times and “I” an incredible 30 times for total first person pronouns of 63.

In the Glibness cabinet, we have:

Lawless Holder at Justice,

Tax cheat Geithner at Treasury

The silent lady in hiding - Hillary - as chief diplomat

Replacing her with Sandinista supporter and admitted war criminal John Kerry.

Rumored for Defense is the most anti-Israel Senator of modern time - Chuck Hagel.

Some protest that Hagel is a bad choice, but he looks to me like a pretty good fit.

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