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5351  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Political Economics: It is the Policy Mix, Stupid on: April 30, 2011, 04:07:20 PM
There isn't one thing that turns this mess around.  It is the whole gamut.  A weaker dollar that people wanted for the China imbalance, or a corporate tax rate lowered to 25% when no one is making a profit or paying the tax does nothing to change the fact that manufacturers have to pay four times what should for natural gas required in manufacturing or fuel required to deliver product and services or the investors face excess uncertainty and employers face growing burdens.

We are punting right now on one of the best opportunities ever to grow our economy.  This recession ended in June 2009 (2 years ago!) and recoveries typically have twice the growth rate of ordinary times.  Investment and job growth these last 2 years would have been an amazing help for the foreclosure situation not to mention the budget deficit.  Yet we sputter.

One does not need to understand economic terms like Keynesianism to see that we currently have the wrong policy mix for what is so badly needed right now, private sector growth.  Please read this Wall Street Journal editorial:

The Keynesian Growth Discount
The results of our three-year economic experiment are in.

For three long years, the U.S. has been undertaking an experiment in economic policy. Could record levels of government spending, waves of new regulation and political credit allocation, and unprecedented monetary stimulus re-ignite growth? The results have been rolling in, and they represent what increasingly looks like an historic mistake that deserves to be called the Keynesian growth discount.

The latest evidence is yesterday's disappointing report of 1.8% in first quarter GDP. At this stage of recovery after a deep recession, the economy is typically growing by 4% or more as consumer confidence returns and businesses accelerate investment as their profits revive. Yet in this recovery consumers are still cautious and business investment remains weak.

Some of the first quarter's growth slump is due to seasonal factors such as bad weather and weaker defense spending. In the silver lining department, the private economy grew faster than the overall GDP figure because government spending declined. But even maintaining the 2.9% growth rate of 2010 would mark an historic underachievement for a recovery after a recession that was as deep as the one from late 2007 to mid-2009.

The most recent recession of comparable depth and job loss was in 1981-1982, when unemployment hit 10.8%. Huge chunks of industrial America shut down and never re-opened. Yet once the recovery began in earnest in the first quarter of 1983, the economy boomed. As the nearby table shows, growth exceeded 7.1% for five consecutive quarters, and it kept growing at nearly a 4% pace for another two years. Growth didn't dip below 2% in any quarter until the second three months of 1986. This was the Reagan boom.

Now look at the first seven quarters of the current recovery. Only briefly has growth hit 5%, in the fourth quarter of 2009 as businesses rebuilt inventories that had been pared to the bone. Growth has been mediocre ever since, sputtering to a near-stall in the middle of last year, accelerating modestly late last year, and now slowing again. This recovery is as weak as the much-maligned "jobless recovery" of the last decade, which followed a mild recession and at least gained speed after the tax cut of 2003.

Most striking is that this weak growth follows everything that the Keynesian playbook said politicians should throw at the economy. First came $168 billion in one-time tax rebates in February 2008 under George W. Bush, then $814 billion more in spending spread over 2009-2010, cash for clunkers, the $8,000 home buyer tax credit, Hamp to prevent home foreclosures, the Detroit auto bailouts, billions for green jobs, a payroll tax cut for 2011, and of course near-zero interest rates for 28 months buttressed by quantitative easing I and II. We're probably forgetting something.

Imagine if President Obama had introduced his original stimulus in February 2009 with the vow that, 26 months later, GDP would be growing by 1.8% and the jobless rate would be 8.8%. Does anyone think it would have passed?

Liberal economists will blame this latest slowdown on spending cuts across all levels of government, and government spending did fall in the first quarter. But those modest declines follow the biggest government spending binge since World War II that was supposed to kick start the economy and then stop. Remember former White House chief economist Larry Summers's mantra that stimulus spending should be timely, targeted and temporary?

With deficits this year estimated to hit $1.65 trillion, are we really supposed to believe that more deficit spending will produce faster growth? Would $2 trillion do the trick, or how about $3 trillion? Two years after the stimulus debate began, the critics who said all of this spending would provide at most a temporary lift to GDP while saddling the economy with record deficits have been proven right.

The good news is that the private economy seems to have enough momentum to avoid a recession in the near term, but the danger is that growth will continue to be subpar. The evidence is that the combination of spendthrift fiscal policy and a wave of new regulatory costs and mandates are restraining business expansion and hiring.

Then there's the threat of higher tax rates on investment and business that we dodged for two years after the GOP won Congress but that President Obama has now promised for 2013 if he is re-elected. This too deters the animal spirits necessary for robust growth. The great risk is stagflation, a la the 1970s, when easy money tried to compensate for bad fiscal and regulatory policy, which led to sluggish growth, rising prices and declines in real wages.

The contrast in results between the current recovery and the Reagan years is instructive because the policy mix was so different. In the 1980s, the policy goals were to cut tax rates, reduce regulatory costs and uncertainty, let the private economy allocate capital free of political direction, and focus monetary policy on price stability rather than on reducing unemployment. This is the policy mix we need to rediscover if we are going to escape our current malaise and stop suffering from the Keynesian discount.
5352  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 2012 Presidential: Huntsman and Obama on: April 30, 2011, 03:44:52 PM
The Huntsman letters are interesting.  I give him the 'remarkable leader' part if you are his appointee, Obama did run a remarkable campaign and that letter was early in the Presidency. A 'great honor getting to know you' as well, it is a level of respect anyone should have for a new President - before you get to know him.

But Hillary is 'charismatic'?  embarassed  And for Obama: “experience,” what experience? And “brilliant analysis of world events” - who knew?  I'm sure he will have the opportunity explain and clarify.  Maybe something was going on behind the scenes that we missed.  smiley   I take these to mean that Huntsman's skill is all about schmoozing and BSing, which is maybe or maybe not the same skill set that one would use to solve the Palestinian question or balance the budget.  Personally I don't think next year will be the year of the schmoozer.

Huntsman would fit pretty well on the short list for taking Biden's place whether he runs in the Republican primaries or not.  It would be one more way for Obama to appear more centrist without moving an inch.

Developments in my prediction that Obama will not be nominee of his own party... two polls have him at 40% approval  (; Gallup and Zogby have him at 41%.  (That means 30s by the end of the summer IMO.)  Quinnipiac has him 10 points upside down in Pennsylvania, a state he won by 11 points!  Try to chart a path to victory for him that involves losing Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

I am not saying it is over; I am saying that by the end of a summer of high unemployment and higher gas prices, Dems will need to at least explore their options. 

Today Dems seem lost and just hoping for a weak opponent. They keep hoping he will get his magic back, but the Greek columns were fake.  Dems have lost the independents who thought he didn't mean what he said and they lost the energy of the base who thought he did mean what he said.  They lost the 2010 elections.  They are losing the budget fight. (  They are losing crucial states and have no idea which direction to turn. 

Right now Obama has all party insiders and donors locked up and on board with nowhere else to turn - just like Hillary did 4 years ago.
5353  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: April 30, 2011, 02:00:29 PM
Remember that it was also at a San Francisco fundraiser where Obama was surprised to hear his own quote hit the news: "...they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment..."

The lesson he should have taken from that was that everything he says everywhere has the potential of making news.

Instead, the lesson he took from it is be militant about who gets in the room.  Biden's staff was more careful; they locked the reporter in the broom closet for the speech.  The berating of the Austin TX reporter was also telling.  Obama was basically telling him he will never get this kind of access again.  That comment should have gone only to his own staff.  He didn't have the self-discipline to hold the comment when he thought the camera was off.  Let's see if that Texas reporter gets another one on one Oval Office interview, lol. 

Yes the reporters have a bias, but they also need to get quotes and break news to stay employed and sell newspapers.  Because of the bias, the reporter who broke the 'clinging' clip very likely did not know it would viral.  Condescending talk about people from across the heartland is what they do at breakfast, lunch and at the water cooler everyday, it made perfect sense.

This story has deteriorated down to two sides calling each other a liar.

Sometimes the small slip-ups (ask Clinton about spilling on the pretty dress) hurt a President more politically than choosing the wrong war or tax rate.  The small things that you think no one will see are the ones that can tell us who you really are.  In this case, a manipulative, deceitful phony.
5354  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Fed, Monetary Policy, Inflation, US Dollar, & Gold/Silver on: April 30, 2011, 01:25:33 PM
Isn't that what everyone wanted, the stronger yuan?  Adjusting the currency without fixing our problems leaves us with ... the same problems along with new ones.  Imports, cost of living and inflation worsens while nothing significant is gained on the export side because our currency exchange rate wasn't the problem.

Just more sign of failed policies, mis-managing what was recently the greatest economy on the planet.
5355  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Sharia 101 on: April 30, 2011, 01:18:27 PM
"The man had every right to leave the money to whomever he wants;"

JDN,  With that kind of thinking you will never be part of the leftist movement that believes all money really belongs to the state.   I agree with you, but in estate law as I know it - you have to spell it out.

To write: "divided according to Islamic Law" is a blank, unrecognized note on a page in a U.S. court with no authority to discern the meaning. 

His money should be divided exactly as it would have been without a will.

Like Crafty said, the appeal decision will be interesting.

Amazing that the same people who accept this BS accuse the right of trying to bring religion into politics and public affairs.

His right to learn all about Islam and practice and honor his religion is matched by my right to learn none of it if I am the judge or opposing attorney.
5356  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Humor/WTF, pet or companion on: April 29, 2011, 12:44:46 PM
Sorry JDN, but I believe that piece was serious.  I see people treat their pet the way the wish they could treat their spouse, endless commands, scolding, even obedience school!  It is a companion not a pet and as a living thing, it is your equal. (That is what I think they are saying.)  National pet (whoops companion) health insurance is next.  (We already have pet protections that far exceed those for a certain class of human life.)
5357  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cognitive dissonance of the left: Obama is "integratively complex" on: April 29, 2011, 12:36:07 PM
Give me a break, pure drivel IMO, but I post this for what passes for journalism and serious analysis.  He is too smart and honest for this job, according to experts.   

He is a political hack exposed by his tactless assault on the Supreme Court at the SOTU and the same on Paul Ryan at his budget hawk debut.  To locate the bias in the writing, just notice they refer the senate's purist liberal as 'center-left'. He is complex only in that he single-mindedly wants to destroy capitalism from within (starve it of energy and burden it with costs) and move us to socialist utopia but needs to hold onto power in a center-right nation in order to do that.  He isn't complex, he is deceitful and duplicitous.  But that isn't the story going at the top of Washington media and academia.

If he is so smart, show me the grades and test scores.  Show me original writings.  Show me solutions to problems that come uniquely from him that others hadn't thought of.
Dana Milbank, Washington Post: Obama, lost in thought

“What distinguishes Obama particularly is the depth and carefulness of his thinking...” said Jonathan Haidt, a professor of social psychology at the University of Virginia. “He is a brilliant social and political analyst, which makes it harder for him to play hardball or to bluff.”  Obama’s strengths and weaknesses come from his high degree of “integrative complexity” — his ability to keep multiple variables and trade-offs in mind simultaneously.  (read it all if you want)
5358  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: April 29, 2011, 12:15:06 PM
"It's nice to see that my guy Huntsman is one of the four."

  - I enjoyed the previous piece on Huntsman with his self reporting to wikipedia on what a deep and serious guy he is.  Once he decides what he stands for, please share...   smiley

Does he support the Ryan plan?  Action in Libya, Syria?  The EPA ruling on CO2? Entitlement reform? Healthcare repeal?  What federal functions would he turn back to the states?  What is his constitutional philosophy on judicial appointments?  Moderate interpretation??

Where is he on that debate between Keynes and Hayek?

Would he open drilling? ANWR? Offshore?  Deepwater??  Does he favor or oppose higher gas prices?

Did he differ with Obama on China and stand up to him? I think he did but I don't have any details.  Did he question Obama on foreign policy before joining his team?  What is our China policy if he is Pres.? What about North Korea?

I actually think a moderate Republican President serving with a conservative House and Senate could accomplish a great deal.  Pawlenty is certainly more centrist than me. Daniels worked for Bush as budget director while spending escalated.  Romney has questionable conservative credentials. 

A lot is left to shake out.
5359  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 2012 Presidential: Democrats Should Worry about the GOP Field on: April 29, 2011, 11:37:57 AM
Crafty wrote: "I saw Pawlenty interviewed last night on Bret Baier Report.  Good job."

  - With Churchill and Reagan unavailable, we need to check these candidates out and see who will step up, win and preside over a real reform of government.  Jay Cost narrows it down to the Governors.
Jay Cost has given good political analysis at real clear politics, now at weekly standard.  His take on the field is definitely against the grain:  (Excerpted)

The conventional wisdom is that the emerging Republican field for 2012 is a very weak one. However, like so much else in the topsy-turvy age of Obama, the conventional wisdom on this one is completely upside down. The idea of a weak GOP field is almost as ridiculous as a debate about a fifty-year-old birth certificate just as the economic recovery comes grinding to a halt. Almost.

In fact, Obama and the Democrats have good reason to worry about the emerging Republican field. Here are four big reasons why.

1. ...there are at least four serious contenders either in the field or looking likely to enter it: Mitch Daniels, Jon Huntsman, Tim Pawlenty, and Mitt Romney all bring a few qualities to the table that would serve them well in the general election. For starters, they’re all governors, meaning their résumés involve running state governments rather than getting bogged down in the ideological divisiveness of Congress. Daniels, Pawlenty, and Romney have all demonstrated crossover appeal – with Pawlenty and Romney winning in historically Democratic states, and Daniels winning reelection in 2008 in Indiana even as Obama carried the state. As for Huntsman’s appeal, Obama was worried enough about it to ship him off to China in 2009.

Republicans should be pleased about this. Evaluating candidates is a subjective process, of course, but a cycle in which the party can point to four serious contenders who would be formidable in a general election battle is a good one.

2. ...The GOP has no such class-based divisions, dominated as it is by the married, white, churchgoing middle class. Really, the major dividing line in the Republican party is between moderately and very conservative voters. This means that the nominee is usually the one who can convince Republicans that he’s conservative, but not so much so that he can’t win a general election.

3. A “fringe” nominee is unlikely... In all likelihood, the nominee in 2012 will be similar to the ones we’ve seen over the last 30 years.

4. An “enthusiasm gap” should not be a problem. Suppose that the GOP does nominate another candidate in line with the Bush-Dole-Bush-McCain tradition. Won’t enthusiasm be a trouble spot for the party base in 2012? Probably not. The conservative base's intense dissatisfaction with the Obama tenure should be more than enough to make up for the fact that the party is not in love with the nominee (and it is possible, by the way, that the party could fall in love with somebody). On top of that, there are enough very serious figures out there who make the base swoon – perfect for the vice presidential nomination. Marco Rubio is the first that comes to mind. Team the junior senator from Florida up with one of those serious would-be presidential nominees, set that ticket against Obama-Biden next year, and you’ll have a great recipe for the most enthusiastic GOP base in decades.

Bottom line: Democrats who are counting on the GOP giving this election away with a weak nominee need to find something else to pin their hopes on. In all likelihood, it isn’t going to happen, and Barack Obama will have to stand for reelection against a serious Republican ticket next year.
5360  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: April 29, 2011, 11:04:56 AM
I agree with CCP.  The Economist generally has good coverage of other regions of the world that US publications ignore.

I started my subscription to 'The Economist' when Bill Gates said it was his favorite read - back when he was interesting.  I thought it might be insightful and it was.   I canceled during coverage of HillaryCare, 1993?  They did a piece questioning whether this or that should be in the package, (bandaids and birth control?) without questioning whatsoever the desirability of a government takeover.  Even if you favor the takeover, any responsible analysis would at least question it. This was during 40 years of Dem congresses and before the idea that a major political ground shift was about to take place.

A worthwhile read at times with its 'centrist' bias, along with my two favorite short books, 'The Core, Uncompromising Principles of Moderates' and 'The Great Moderates of History'   smiley
5361  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Fukushima Daiichi radiation levels 1/100th of what it was earlier this month on: April 29, 2011, 09:58:34 AM
Now that the nuclear news out of Japan is better, and covered nowhere, we may have to move the topic over to media issues.  I waited two days to post, Google News has this story picked up by no one.

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Japanese newspaper - largest circulation in the world) reports:

Radioactive material 'down to 1/100'

The Yomiuri Shimbun

The amount of radioactive material emitted from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant has decreased to about one-hundredth of the level recorded earlier this month, the Cabinet Office's Nuclear Safety Commission has said.

The commission also said Monday the concentration of iodine-131 in seawater sampled near the plant had dropped to below the government-set limit for the first time since surveys started on March 21. However, the panel said high amounts of radioactive material were still being emitted by the plant run by Tokyo Electric Power Co., at about 10 billion becquerels per hour.

"We shouldn't take the figures for granted. We must continue to carefully observe the situation," a commission spokesperson said.

The commission calculates the volume of radioactive material discharged based on radiation measurements taken at several places around the plant. Radioactive emissions on April 5 were estimated at 1 trillion becquerels per hour.

"Radiation dosages around the plant are on a downward trend. Emissions of radioactive material have diminished to about one-hundredth [of levels earlier this month]," the commission told reporters Monday.
(Apr. 27, 2011)
5362  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Economics on: April 29, 2011, 09:34:52 AM
Crafty, very impressive.  The Keynes character is very persuasive, except for the fact that he is proven wrong at every turn.  Glen Beck was just talking on radio yesterday about working on a project to reach out to young people.  Do we really have to put it to music to get them to pay attention?  Same type of video  could be done with depictions of the two main candidates and their arguments in 2012, not much different than the economic argument.

GM, refreshing to see people across the heartland know Krugman is a political hack and Nobel has lost some of its shine.  I would someday like to read the serious work Krugman did before becoming a cartoon character at the NY Times.

He literally was calling for a doubling of the stimulus (deficit) at the time that all the trillions so far were proven to be failed policy, both economically and politically.

We are borrowing $188 million per hour (plus future interest costs), fact checked at Huff Post:  Out of 300 million people and the 50% rule (only 50% will be contributing/producing), that is a dollar an hour per person round the clock. 

Can't we make a case to any young person that while they were out playing, while they were at prom, while they were in math class, while they were on spring break, while they were burning a joint or playing a video game, while they were at soccer practice, while they were hanging with friends and while they were sleeping in ...  the advocates of our current policies were and still are piling up another dollar of debt, every hour, in their name, for everyone,  accumulating interest.

Why isn't that reason enough to advance the idea of smaller government?  What part of generational theft don't they get??
5363  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Anti-semitism & Jews on: April 27, 2011, 12:56:47 PM
I am enjoying the back and forth of others with Andrew.  No intent to pile on, but from my (American-centric) point of view I would add the small details that a) it was also a largely Christian nation ENDED slavery here and action from largely Christian countries that eventually ENDED the Bosnian atrocities.  Jews and Christians elsewhere were not applauding and supporting any of that violence to my knowledge.

Meanwhile both Iran and more recently Egypt have issued maps with Israel removed, while more moderate and 'peaceful' Arab-Muslim nations still call for the destruction of Israel in their charter.  The state press of Saddam's Iraq applauded bin Laden's attacks on America.  

The NATO/American intervention in Bosnia and other examples of America  and the west (with Jews, Christians, Muslims) helping Muslims are always conveniently absent from the rhetoric of bin Laden, militant Islamists and the propagandists.  Historians would never make those omissions.   smiley
The inference that at least at this point in time we are morally equivalent (or worse?) to those who call for our destruction I find preposterous but I am open to reading all that you can post to support that.
Sorry for the 'echo' effect, but this passage from GM sums up very well what I also see (and don't see) here and what also I see from here as happening in Europe, the London subway, Madrid, riots in Paris and Malmo, the Danish free speech attacks, etc.:

"A more accurate evaluation would be to compare the violence from Muslims globally vs. the violence from Christians. You see many honor killings in the Bible Belt? I know the Baptists are famous for suicide bombings. Everyone has of course seen where Lutherans flew planes into the WTC. Remember when Catholics butchered those kids in Beslan? So why are so many horrific acts done by those motivated by christian theology and so few by Muslim theology?

Or is it the other way around?"
There are nuts and psychos everywhere, whether we look at Timothy McVeigh or Hitler, but where in the teachings of the church does it call for what they did.  The current fight as far as I know is from one particular intolerant theology.

"Muslims will never associate this (atrocities committed by 'Christians') with the teachings of Jesus, peace be on him."

  - If they did, again, where in the teachings or life of Jesus would they point to justify the Bosnian atrocities?

Only in the churches that Obama has chosen have I seen hatred taught and disseminated and it is not from the teachings of Christ and it is not directed toward other religions or non-believers.  

I have been to quite a variety of churches and heard the expression 'Peace be with you' and a lot of praying for peace all across the world.  I have never heard the Judeo-Christian teaching: 'Peace only to those who follow the chosen path'.  
5364  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: April 27, 2011, 10:30:29 AM
"I am satisfied with the birth certificate."

What a bizarre chapter in American history this was.  What is the significance of keeping the long form in the vault if not to answer a question like eligibility to serve as President?  Turns out that for ten bucks he can just order a copy.

I guess The Unifier's handlers wanted this story to fester and divide us by exposing 'racists' who would doubt him - until it approached 70% of Americans doubting his eligibility to serve as President.

I never doubted his eligibility to serve; I oppose the direction he is taking us.
5365  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: April 26, 2011, 03:02:49 PM
He keeps defining cognitive dissonance:

Obama wants us to be out of oil/gas for our cars, nudged and forced into making other choices.  He wants the price to go up - gradually over time - which is to foster scarcity, limit physical supplies so they fail to keep up with economic demand.

He wants us on the edge starving for enegy, vulnerable to even the smallest faraway disruption, unable to handle for example the 'oil shock' of something as small as the war in Libya.  Then he started the war.
5366  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: April 26, 2011, 02:51:14 PM
God Bless John McCain and all the things he has done right in his career, but...  He has been cover for many many policies, many of them wrong headed.  Two things come to mind right now.  He was the spearhead of the Libya mission.  Besides the advocates in his own administration, having a senior statesman out front in the opposition party inoculated Obama against partisanship and certainly moved the decision forward.  So tied to that now is our unavailability to do anything in Syria.
5367  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Energy Politics & Science on: April 26, 2011, 02:43:55 PM
For stocks the margin limit is now 50% I believe.  For oil I do not know.  Even at 50%, the volatility is doubled. Margin, which is borrowing, is no free lunch.  If your gains are double, so are your losses. Like gold, the people betting against the economy and the currency happen to be right.  These bets need to be flushed out with a strategy change - something like this: Monday open up drilling on the east coast. Tuesday, open the gulf.  Wednesday, open up west coast drilling and one new nuclear site, Thursday open ANWR.  Friday open up the Rocky Mountain region for wide expansion of natural gas production and announce 2 new pipelines.  Then see what the speculators are speculating on.  smiley
5368  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: April 25, 2011, 02:27:33 PM
(from Media Issues - coverage of birth certificate)

"Doug, you're too nice"   - CCP, don't believe everything you read on the internet.  smiley

His personal likability is higher than the support for his policies.  Hard to say how that translates into votes in Nov 2012.  If things are still bad,  people may equate his personal shortcomings with his performance as President.  Or still like him but vote for someone else.

"...we do need the politics of personal destruction (if we 'pardon' this phrase made famous by BJ bill jefferson Clinton), as well as beating him on the issues."

He deserves what he gets but it could easily backfire.  Let's say he was covering up a big secret of his mother. I'm sure his damage control people are working full force, ready to spin it all by the time it comes out to make him the victim.  Meanwhile unemployment is 12% in Calif, gas unaffordable, drilling outlawed, states bankrupt, debt downgraded, dollar imploding, economy stagnated, health care costs worse than ever with choices disappearing and waivers exploding, wars breaking out, etc.

"We need to dig and dig and dig.  The more this guy gets exposed as a serial liar the better."  - Yes, but there is plenty of material there based on policy alone.  Again he deserve all the scrutiny.  OTOH if it looks like that is the main strategy, it cheapens the political-economic-freedom arguments and could give him a way out.  Best for the personal stuff to be done by fringe kooks- thank you Trump!

"illegals will be pardoned on January 19th!!!"

 - Pardon is not a grant of citizenship.  I think that has to go through the congress first for his signature.  But your larger point is well-taken.  Pardons, executive orders, recess appointments, agency and czar directives like the EPA action against fossil fuels and Dept. of Commerce against a free internet, plenty is being done outside of congressional approval.

Even if half or all of our current mess was George Bush's fault, we should know by now that a sharp left turn with Obama was not the right answer.  As IMF points out, we will be overtaken by China on our current path during Obama's second term.  OTOH, during the 50 consecutive months of job growth following the bush tax cuts, the growth in our economy was greater than the entire economy of China.  The US economy is still capable of this kind of surge, greater than we have ever seen.

I would add that 'we' need to also carry the House and make serious gain in the Senate and achieve a mandate for policy change which will come mainly from tying Obama and those Dems to failed policies, not ineligibility claims.
5369  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Political Economics - Giving something back, Walter Williams on: April 25, 2011, 01:52:36 PM
" 'giving something back' should be the admonition to thieves and social parasites: people who have taken and given nothing in return."

Walter E. Williams
Ideas on Liberty, January 2000
5370  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Monetary Policy, Inflation, Dollar: Gas Prices and the Dollar on: April 25, 2011, 01:00:11 PM
One obvious explanation on high gas prices is the laws against domestic production, but another is the deterioration of our currency.  Gas prices, it turns out, have not increased  - if you are paying with silver.

Of course these two problems are related.  Our shipment of dollars overseas for energy (along with our horrendous deficits) is a contributing problem for our deteriorating currency (and to our security problems).
5371  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: california on: April 25, 2011, 12:51:16 PM
"We are bombarded with polls every single day."

I would like to see one that shows when Californians began to understand why they still have 12% unemployment.  Seems they have not yet discovered the law of holes - when you find you're in one, stop digging.
5372  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Politics of Health Care: WSJ coverage of ObamaCare 2010 on: April 25, 2011, 12:45:59 PM
I posted on Media Issues that WSJ editorial writer Joseph Rago won the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Writing today. Here are the stories for which he won the award: Hot links for all at the link:

1) Back to the ObamaCare Future, March 1, 2010

2) The ObamaCare Crossroads, March 20, 2010

3) ObamaCare and the Constitution, April 2, 2010

4) Farewell, Medicare Advantage, June 11, 2010

5) The Avastin Mugging, August 18, 2010

6) ObamaCare 'Amnesia,' Sept. 10, 2010

7) Big Insurance, Big Medicine, Oct. 26, 2010

8.) Breast Cancer and the FDA, Dec. 17, 2010

9) Sebelius's Price Controls, Dec. 22, 2010

10) PolitiFiction, Dec. 23, 2010

5373  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Media Issues - Pulitzser Prize to WSJ for anti-Obamacare series on: April 25, 2011, 12:37:47 PM
On a more positive note (from my perspective) on the media, last week a WSJ editorialist won a Pulitzer for "against the grain" anti-Obamacare coverage.  The consistent downward movement of support for Obamacare since it passed would tend to show these concerns to be right.

"EDITORIAL WRITING: Joseph Rago of The Wall Street Journal.

Rago was honored for his editorials challenging the health care changes advocated by President Barack Obama.

In his "Review & Outlook" columns for the Journal, he deconstructed the results of similar policy in Massachusetts and its implications for Washington, warning that the changes would fail and do Democrats great political harm.

With a degree in American history from Dartmouth, Rago joined the Journal editorial page in 2005 as an intern."

(Looks and sounds like this guy is in his 20s.  You may hear from him again.)
5374  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: April 25, 2011, 12:20:10 PM
"He is obviously hiding something?"

The secret if there is one (just conjecture) is that Barack Sr. was not the father and wasn't the husband, which means the President is not really Barack Jr, though it would appear they used the name with permission.  Also maybe things were tampered or changed to allow for Indonesian citizenship later. 

Nothing that happened with him as a newborn is his fault (obviously), but it is his story and his knowledge of it all would make his best selling autobiographies into a pack of lies, instead of just racist-Marxist drivel.

"Do you think the Republican party can win chasing the "birther" issue?"

No.  He needs to be defeated straight on for his record and for the direction he still wants to lead the nation.  But the media lack of curiosity and lack of follow up is deplorable.  (Imagine if Palin's birth location with a foreign parent and records missing!) Besides his college record I never saw anything controversial dug up from his constitutional law lectures or law review writings while we now see results from his two disastrous high court appointees.

The constitution does not say 'long form' nor does it lay out a burden of proof, it just says 'natural born citizen'.  Arnold Schwartznegger and Madeleine Albright are examples that were passed over for not being born here. 
5375  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Humor/WTF, A Clapper Caper, Jack Web, Johnny Carson on: April 25, 2011, 11:47:31 AM
BBG, Amazing life saving device, but don't get over-confident up there! 

Switching subjects with no smooth transition...

With Clapper (our limited intelligence director) and Kloppenburg (Wisc supreme court candidate) in the news, it may be time to revisit the Clapper Caper with Jack Webb and Johnny Carson.
5376  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Decline, Fall, (and Resurrection?) of America on: April 25, 2011, 10:27:29 AM
"According to the latest IMF official forecasts, China’s economy will surpass that of America in real terms in 2016 — just five years from now. "

  - I will bet that it doesn't.  smiley
5377  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Fed, Monetary Policy, Inflation, & the US Dollar on: April 22, 2011, 11:41:51 AM
"The dollar, less almighty: Big investors see possible long-term currency weakness"

 - Another theory I was reading yesterday is that at the end of QE2 interest rates will rise and the dollar will rise.  We'll see.  I see it all as flawed measurement.  The weakness and strength of the dollar is measured against other flawed currencies from other flawed flawed places like Europe and China.  I wouldn't  bet in either direction, on the current direction of our country or on the others to do better. 

Bernanke is AWOL to not be out-front, obnoxiously outspoken against the excessive spending in the economy.  And congress has done nothing to remove the 'dual purpose' of his job.
5378  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential - Mike Huckabee on: April 22, 2011, 10:56:41 AM
Quite a feud going on between Mike Huckabee and Glen Beck, Beck was addressing it on the radio this morning.  I was going to put it on the Beck thread but Huck is presumably a candidate.

Seemed to begin over Beck criticizing Huck's support for Michelle Obama's campaign against child obesity, a worthy cause, and expanded to calling out Huck's record as progressive.  Huck says he has thus called him a cancer and a Nazi because Beck has used those terms to describe progressive tactics.

Beck explained and responding back with Huck's record as a progressive / non-conservative, this is a fight within the right that for sure Huckabee does not need.  Both have radio shows with unlimited opportunity to respond to each other.

Beck exposes Huck's claim of cutting taxes as Governor.  One of those was to exclude private lawn mowing from the sales tax and another was to exclude symphony tickets from the sales tax.  Overall Huck raised taxes in Arkansas 47% according to Beck.  Then he exposed Huck's illegal immigration stands and then the pardons.

Huck is a Christian and a pastor and giving people a second chance is what they do.  But releasing one criminal every 4 days as Governor didn't work out for him; it led to the slaughter of 4 police officers, as GM has posted here.  He should not have interfered with the justice system in that respect.

Picking a fight with Beck especially while he is down shows bad judgment  for Huckabee IMO if he is a candidate.  Support for the obesity program could have been easily defended and he could have drawn a distinction with Michelle Obama's position which calls for a complete federal takeover of all school nutrition including vending machines - if other means are unsuccessful.

Huckabee, attacking the Beck progressive conspiracy theory, should read Crafty's post today about spending drifting recently from 18% of GDP to 24.4% just or take a closer look at the advisers and czars that Beck has been attacking and exposing and point out where he is wrong.
5379  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: April 21, 2011, 10:42:27 PM
That's right and he used his long shot status as a strength.  That was from the opposing party, but still, how do you love your country, believe you have what it takes to be President, watch what is happening across the country and around the world right now, and conclude that this is not the time?
Besides my endorsement of Tim Pawlenty who with about 4% support keeps getting mentioned with the serious contenders, I like the idea of Herman Cain and Allen West as a ticket, one served at the Fed, one in Afghanistan and in congress, one a business man and one a military man.  With the older at the top of the ticket, I am looking for the potential of 16 years of continuity leading the country and the free world.  Looking for articulation of unapologetic liberty and conservatism and looking for skill and confidence that will hold up through the campaign and shine through in the debates.  They won't have to fake their tea party or outsider status.  And enough clarity with the agenda that if they win they will know what to do.

I recall that Reagan in 1976 picked his running mate for balance while still contesting the nomination.
5380  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 2012 Presidential: The purpose of obama re-elction fund raising on: April 21, 2011, 07:53:54 PM
The purpose of Obama re-election fundraising is to scare away other Democrats, not Republicans.  It is having no effect on Republicans, another one, Gary Johnson R-NM, jumped in today.

The early fund raising focus is designed as a war chest message to intimidate any/all challenges from within his own party.

Without listing out his problems again for re-election (unemployment? gas prices? debt?), would anyone like to predict if, who and when Dems will see a challenger from within his own party?

I say the first serious challenger in will change the dynamic of the race.  Many thought leaders on the left have already spoken up against aspects of the Obama Presidency.  Why wouldn't one serious potential candidate step up in defiance to the odds and throw his/her hat into the ring?

Obama could be out with his next big blunder and may very well lose the general election for what he has already done.  Whoever is in the race with a credible candidacy could have a significant chance to be the next President of the United States when this one falls completely off the track.

Recall the audacity of Obama entering the race in 2007 against 'the incumbent' Hillary Clinton.  It worked for him.
5381  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Foreign Policy on: April 21, 2011, 02:27:19 PM
"If we are not going to go in and stop them all (and I suspect no one here is calling for boots on the ground in Yemen!) then what is the point of going into just one (Afpakia)?

Our strategy is utterly incoherent."

I suppose the answer is that we pick our battles to isolate and defeat enemies on our choice of time and location.  All-out war simultaneous in all locations may not fit our strengths and capabilities very well much less fit with our limited attention span.  Problem is a) we are doing the opposite, responding to nuisances in the least strategic areas (Libya), and completely out of the most crucial areas, and b) we have lost confidence in those who make the choices and set the strategies for us.

If we are forcing them to move, our intelligence at some point should be picking up some of those moves.  But that matters only if we take action on the intelligence.

What is strangest about our AfPak strategy is that what is working (allegedly), the tripling of manpower, is what we have pre-decided and declared we won't continue.  What we might need most in the long run is at least a small permanent presence to shut down bases as they pop up.  That is something we gave up completely in Iraq. (see links below)

My central strategy (broken record, and GM just hit this same point) is that we better get our economic house in order and in full gear if we expect to be able to respond later to what is brewing in the world right now.  

Yemen looks like one of those backyard situations for Saudi, just like the Caucasus for Russia, but I have no idea whether Saudi escalation would help or hurt the situation.

A nice review(a must read?) at the links below of all our wars and where they stand now, part 1 and part 2:
5382  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tax Policy on: April 21, 2011, 01:37:26 PM
CCP, I am with you 100% in the proposal to remove all tax credits and all deductions that are direct, legitimate business expenses incurred to produce the revenue, and we should reduce the rates accordingly - personal and corporate.  There should be no social engineering whatsoever in the tax code.  In this time of deficits, debts, dollar crisis and 3 wars, not counting a potential world war with China or Russia, our system raising federal revenues shouldn't look like a grocery store coupon book.  Limit spending to the amount we collect and them let the people argue within a constitutional framework what programs and projects to fund at what level.

I hear you when you complain about rich having disproportionate power with certain things.  The only solution I know is to simply move the system away from being for sale and negotiable toward dispensing special favors, and toward a system of equal protection where all private enterprises in all industries are treated evenly by a limited government.  We aren't exactly headed in that direction.

Where I don't follow you and where you don't follow the left and won't vote with them is that there is no way prevent obscene amounts of income and obscene uses of wealth at the top without messing up the system, the incentives and mechanisms for producing wealth.  Instead  am willing to concede that what they make is none of my business as long as it is all legally earned and taxed the same as mine and I see you as still struggling to find a harmless way of 'solving' that.

I understand that my descriptions of the mechanisms of a free market are difficult to write and clumsy to read. Very few have the ability to articulate economic freedom with a broad brush.  Reagan had that ability and Marco Rubio seems to have it.  Whether we follow it completely or are not able to articulate it, there is a central denial on the other side that individual freedom is not preferable to central planning and control, even though it works every time and every place that it is tried.  When we hear from the bully pulpit that we need to do something, people need to remember where in our system things get done.  The great advances don't come from congressional staffers or the bowels of the bureaucracies.

Another attempt at an example: Let's say you are a family physician in a private market (I know, it's purely hypothetical!).  Maybe you make more in income than many of your patients or maybe you don't, but let's say we implement a set of policies that benefits all of your patients financially.  My point is that  helps your business, by far more than just the change to your own tax rate. You will be better able to sell your services, more people can afford you and your collection rate should improve etc.  From the boost in business and income and take home earnings, you buy better equipment etc. for the office and invest and spend more on your own, energizing back the population that energized your practice - the great, interconnected circle of economic life.  That is not trickle down; it is more like trickle up and back and all the way through in every direction touching everyone whose economic activities touch yours.  The lying left contend that only the rich benefit from across the board improvements, but increased activity and prosperity benefits everyone who is participating.  I don't know how to explain it any better, but will keep trying.

You aren't worth a fixed value as a service provider, it depends on the economic health of the people who need and procure your services.  If your patients are average typical in the Republic of the Congo (the worst business climate and poorest country), your income for servicing that market with the same training, skills and hard work would likely be 1/1000th of what it is where you are now based on their ability to pay, and your tax contribution to the Treasury would be roughly a thousand times lower as well, no matter the rate.

It is not tax rates alone, it is the whole package of unleashing the freedom to conduct and expand a business and to pursue and keep a reward for doing that.
5383  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Yemen on: April 21, 2011, 12:30:13 PM
Thanks to Strat - and Crafty - for keeping watch on the turmoil in Yemen, a key location for al Qaida on the Arabian Peninsula.  See if this map comes through, but Yemen shares a 'sea border' with Somalia / the horn of Africa, a home al Qaida, Blackhawk down, and base for the ruthless pirate sea war operation that is stealing, killing and taking over anything everything up to the size of oil tankers that tries to pass through.
5384  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 2012 Presidential: re. Crossing Trump off the list on: April 21, 2011, 11:50:08 AM
Thanks to GM for Trumps view on Kelo, the 'right' to have your property taken for preferred private uses.

a) It means he shares no respect for founding or limiting principles on government, as I see them,

b) unscrupulous past business practices

c) Could not trust him to appoint Supreme Court Justices, in fact the opposite.  I would trust him to appoint justices opposed to my own view of the constitution

d) and in keeping with nearly all liberal argument, he rests his rationalization on a false premise:

"...wants to build a tremendous economic development, where a lot of people are going to be put to work and make area that’s not good into a good area, and move the person that’s living there into a better place..."

'area that's not good'  - Kelo was specifically NOT about removing blight which is already recognized as public purpose.

'move the person that’s living there into a better place'  - NO!  It is the opposite.  A consensual, private purchase of the property is what moves a person into a better place.  The Kelo decision along with a willing city council removes that requirement.  Valuation law in taking prohibits putting a person in a better place.  It puts you only in the same circumstance and worse because it takes away the real value of what you had which was ownership of a demanded location.  Trump says he is smart so I say he knows this.  As one who has been a victim of a private taking, I say as politely as I know how, he is a G*d d*amned f*cking liar and I will sit out  or cast a third party vote rather than vote for a leading advocate of big, all-knowing government taking away private properties for their donors and constituents' preferred private purposes.  What limits on government would you recognize if you couldn't see this one in front of your face?
5385  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tax Policy on: April 21, 2011, 11:06:18 AM
JDN: "It's a zero sum game."

Of course that is not true. From the example it assumes a producer would produce the same amount in the high tax state as he would under lower disincentive conditions.  Simply not true.

One consideration you might add to your thinking also is velocity of money and the affect increasing it has on GDP, employment, revenues, etc.  Right now is the model for an economy producing at a standstill.  Companies already laid off everyone they can do without and look at uncertainty in every direction and just freeze on the idea of new expansions.  Change that to an environment where optimism and confidence In the case of capital gains, lower taxation per gain or per transaction allows capital to move more freely to its most valuable use.  That makes labor more productive, not just capital.  It also increases tax revenues.

For CCP and JDN, I would replace 'trickle down' visualization of the economy with a vision or model of 'interconnectness'.  Not quite as catchy for a straw man, but far more accurate.  Let's say we are a small business selling a piece of productivity enhancing business equipment and have identified 5000 customers and prospects in my area where we are trying to make inroads.  Now let's say pro-growth business conditions improve as greater optimism, incentive and confidence sets in  for all the companies buying from us or that we are trying to sell to, the rising tide.  How does that affect our business?  The answer is that it helps us far more than just the minor change in our own tax rate, and that is because of the interconnectedness with all the other players now performing better.  It isn't trickle down, which is a mockery for the false idea that money will just fall on your head in a better economy.  You still have to hustle and innovate, persuade and produce and win sales and keep delivery promises etc, but the point is that if we will be selling to a more active and prosperous customer population.  There is a multiplier effect that goes far beyond our own tax rate.

Or take the opposite direction.  We promise all investors that any gains made in the future will be taxed at a higher rate tomorrow and we won't tell you what that rate is so that you can't make plans or best/worst case analysis with any confidence.  We ban production of energy etc, over-regulate, and watch everything from manufacturing to tourism to beer prices suffer.  If the policies hurt our customer base, they hurt us.  Disincentives and uncertainty slow the movement of money, hurt sales and diminish the  revenues to the Treasury.

Looking forward to those examples of pro-growth policies failing to grow the economy.  

I think you have the tax rate vs. revenue argument exactly upside down.  What economists have said is that we seem to take in the same percentage of revenues to the Treasury (something like 18% of GDP) no matter what the marginal rates are.  If that is true, why shouldn't we choose the lowest marginal rates that can still get us to that same percentage, and maximize GDP and revenues to the Treasury?  Meanwhile, we could pass a constitutional amendment limiting all federal spending to the known limitations of the taxation people will pay and end the deficits, if that was what anybody wanted.

Crafty,  Japan lowered its corporate tax rate on April 1, 2011 to 36%, and corporations in the US also get taxed at the state level for a combined average of 40%.  If the argument is that everyone gets around the high rate, why the mindset of keeping the highest rate, forcing businesses to dodge and dance instead of produce full speed ahead and pay a reasonable and certain tax.

I wonder what portion of the smartest brainpower in GE much less America as a whole are dedicated to weaving a business plan through our ever-changing and worsening tax and regulatory schemes?  The defensive strategies are a huge cost on the economy not measured in the actual tax collected.  I wonder what amazing things would be accomplished if those resources were turned toward innovative and productive purposes.
5386  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: April 20, 2011, 04:36:50 PM
"That's voodoo economics that no one really believes anymore....."

What are your examples of significant rate cuts that didn't grow revenues? 

The voodoo line BTW was abandoned by its author, revenues to the Treasury doubled in the 1980s.  US Budget History, see page 26:

GM gave the 2003 example.  Look also at the Clinton capital gains cuts of 1995 or the Kennedy cuts, 'rising tide lifts all boats'.

Let's take a look at the opposing examples...
5387  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: April 20, 2011, 02:52:16 PM
CCP: " I don't see most Republicans saying anything but the same misleading message... Selling trickle down economics alone will not win over the middle."

 - Trickle down is a label put on the policies by the people who oppose them.  I don't know what part of across the board they never understand. The main effect of supply side or 'pro-growth' policies is on the people who potentially want to go forth and achieve rather than to those who already have.  Simpler, more evenly applied policies with slightly lower disincentives for all productive activities regardless of who does them, that's all it is.  Not what Bush did for example.  That involved lower rates, but moving everything else in the wrong direction in terms of the burden imposed by a growing public sector.

You are correct that we need better messaging, but constantly denying a negative is not how to stay on message.  Repeatedly answering the charge, 'when did you quit beating your wife,' doesn't make for the best press conference.  For the whole disparity thing, ask yourself which disparity study you've ever read that adjusted for things like what you did to get where you are, a 4 year degree, medical school, residency, sleepless weeks in training, giving up a good part of a decade in training, taking/passing boards, risk taking, possibility of being sued or losing license or small judgments made every day, carrying the pager, carrying the malpractice policy, paying the student loans back, accepting delayed benefits, etc etc.  Other people didn't do all that and many did none of it.  Which study adjusts for that? Nothing I've ever seen.  Shouldn't we have that freedom and that choice - to jump all in, or part way in with more leisure, less responsibility - especially at different points in our lives?? Outcomes are going to differ; that is a fact, not an issue.  Maybe the super rich of the moment are doing something right economically in terms of providing something that a large global market needs and maybe the middle class is sitting on its laurels, doing things the same year after year.  As you say with messaging, the bully pulpit needs to join with the policies and inspire more people to go out and achieve. 

Where we are now is the opposite, we oppose producing energy, propose higher disincentives and tell everyone to leave the car in the garage and be a blockworker agent for redistributive justice.  How is that working out, is what I would ask.
"...the rich are 399% richer since around 1980 and the rest of us around 15%."

Each year they measure a different group.  The top 400 for example changes every year. It isn't the same people in what they call the rich.  These measures are highly misleading.  Still, what should the disparity outcome be between one person who is all in, in terms of pursuing wealth through productive enterprise, and someone else who is not?  How much of the reward for all that wealth creation can we take away and still get the same amount of it to tax at all? GM already answered it but the answer is no, disincentives matter.  There isn't some clever way to target this and tweak that and have it all work out without screwing up our badly needed economic growth.
"...when they see 400 top earners in the US pay 16% income tax?"

They take the SS as a tax but defend it as an insurance policy.  Then they take the taxation of long term gains earned with after-tax dollars,including the inflation component (not a gain at all) and compare it with taxes on earned income.  I have 2 solutions for that. One is re-define SS as general welfare since that is what that comparison infers.  The other is to remove the inflation component of gains before you tax them as ordinary income. States BTW already tax capital gains as ordinary income, even inflationary gains - a small point always left out of all the disparity hysteria, all state and local plus the corporate tax was already taxed before the distribution gets to the owner.  They include the SS, which is capped on BOTH paying in and paying out, and exclude things like state taxes, property taxes and corporate taxes, then point to how unfair the difference is.  I know you don't put up with that level of analysis in a medical study, but I agree it is hard to keep going back to answer every charge.

We need to remove loopholes, these were the genius, social engineering ideas of the previous congresses and administrations.  Just like spending programs, each has a constituency, but the theme is that everything is negotiable.  As Clinton used to say, "we can do more...' or the other CLinton said, 'you can't afford all of my ideas'. How many of the working poor went out and took thousands in the cash for clunkers 'tax credit', to get a $45000 car and 'save money' on gas.  That's one loophole, also wind and solar. How many homeless got the insulation credit?  Electric vehicle credits went to golf cart purchases, how many of the recently foreclosed got the tax credit for one of those.  The same jerks who did all of that who now point to the loopholes.  End them, fine, an lower the rates.  But a loophole is not to take actual costs that oil companies incurred to produce oil and disallow the expense in the year it was incurred.  I wasn't a conservative policy of taxing all income equally that caused GE (with the CEO on the Obama board) to hit the zero mark.

This really shouldn't be that hard to build a persuasive case against Obama's policies and to put forth a better alternative.
5388  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 2012 Presidential: Mr. President, The huge deficits were intentional on: April 20, 2011, 12:57:08 PM
Economics, President Barack Obama: "If we keep spending more than we take in, we are going to do some damage to our economy."

  - He acts like the excess spending was an accident, an act of God - like a tsunami - that hit the nation and his budget.  (Same goes for gas prices, an global phenomenon that really he had nothing to do with.)

Everyone including the President, please re-read every Krugman column since before his election and review every Obama speech he has made and every policy they have put out including his most recent budget proposal.  THE DEFICIT SPENDING WAS INTENTIONAL (sorry for the shouting); it is the heart of the failed Keynesian philosophy they were ramming down our throat with our own dollars and some new ones that look like ours, with Krugman, the economic spiritual leader still calling on him to double the ante.  Excess public spending IS the stimulus, in their mind, and we are lucky to have 1% nominal growth and U6 at 16%?  Deficits are what supposedly saved millions of jobs, ('created or saved').  And when they said temporary, they meant permanent.  Like those great magic shows - what they tell us changes right in front of our eyes and know one can see it happen.  They are so used to playing with words and labeling things the opposite of what they are, they didn't even notice themselves telling a patent falsehood.  We know how to start a spending program, but we don't know how to end one.  Everybody knew that.  Nothing was put in to make things temporary.  The exact opposite is true - they made it so it is a cut to end things that were 'temporary'. 

How are you supposed to know when you are wrong if you are Obama, Jarrett, Krugman, Biden, Reich et al, and when are you supposed to know? How are you supposed to gracefully turn 180 degrees, save face, and start undoing what you did and start doing things that really work, and bring along all the people with you that you recently and repeatedly told the opposite - as recently as last Wednesday.  In sports (or in war with generals), you don't change the coach's mind; they get fired for results like these.   You hire someone else to run the organization in a better direction. 
5389  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: April 18, 2011, 11:52:34 AM
The Republican nominee MUST win the base AND reach to the middle.  McCain (for example) was the exact opposite.  He appealed during his career to the middle and then reached during the final stretch to the base, which is backwards.  2008 was a known Dem year.  2012 will either lean R or best case for the Dems will be fought on equal footing IMO.

These early head to head polls ask the judges to score before they see the contest. 

The seven point win of Obama is not going to happen again. He has lost independents and is no longer a blank slate.  He has also done several things to undermine the energy from his base.  The Republican candidates look weak now but one will rise and win by showing political and persuasive strength across different parts of the country.

Trump's 35% now could work in a 3 way contest but probably only as spoiler, like Perot.  I doubt in the end that he will run.
Political contributions are pretty easy to verify (see BD post).  The second link has a list compiled over a long period, including: Schumer, Rangel, Gillebrand, Anthony Weiner, Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, Erskine Bowles, John Kerry, Frank Lautenberg, Torricelli, Ted Kennedy, Patrick Kennedy, Harry Reid, Arlen Specter, Dick Durbin, Rahm, Harry Reid, Chris Dodd, Charlie Crist, Bill Nelson (FL) etc. JIMMY CARTER 1979, and also Republicans to a lesser degree: Tom Coburn, McCain, George Allen, Giuliani, RNC...
5390  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Budget process- Put a Cap on Spending, Not a Balanced Budget Amentment on: April 17, 2011, 04:35:43 PM
On a Sunday show I heard another tea party type, Sen. Mike Lee from Utah, call for a balanced budget amendment.

I want a balanced budget, but a proportionally smaller public sector spending burden is more important than the exact balance.  I would support one of these proposals to cap spending at 20% of GDP, 19%, or if government were defined closer to its constitutional role maybe about half of that rate.

It is Obama's side who want automatic adjustments (tax increases) to kick in if spending restraints do not realize.  That is NOT budgeting.  A budget would be to say here is GDP, you can spend no more than 20% of it, or here is $2.6 trillion, you can only argue over how to spend it, not how much to spend, until the economy grows further.
5391  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Tax Policy: Walter Mondale tells how to raise taxes without losing votes on: April 17, 2011, 04:21:52 PM
He is a friend of a friend and a true blue great American, so how do I say this nicely... Walter Mondale became the only human in earth's history to lose a statewide contest in all 50 states when he lost the senate race in his home state, the only state he carried against Reagan.  Ironically he has never lost though in the District of Columbia.  Mondale economically has learned nothing since serving with Jimmy Carter and then running to his left.  Government is too small; taxes are too low.  There is never a bad time to raise them back up, at least on the rich:

BTW, I disagree with him.
5392  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Fukushima: Likelihood of widespread health effects remains low. - The Economist on: April 17, 2011, 03:58:21 PM
"likelihood of widespread health effects remains low... in terms of becquerels (radioactivity) things are already a lot better than they were."

"does not seem, in public health terms, to have turned out too bad."
The news cycle moved on and the facts aren't all in.  I'm trying to keep following this; there is a lot to be learned.  Here are a couple more excerpts from what seems to be a balanced and objective piece in The Economist April 12, 2011 (read it all):
[The release at Fukushima]"does not seem, in public health terms, to have turned out too bad."

"Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency  estimates that the emission of radioactive iodine and caesium from the Fukushima plant totals, to date, something equivalent to 370 petabecquerels." (one becquerel represents one nuclear decay per second)

"...because of those countermeasures the likelihood of widespread health effects remains low. (It is also worth remembering that in terms of becquerels things are already a lot better than they were, as iodine-131 has a half-life of only eight days. This means that iodine emitted thirty two days ago has by now lost fifteen-sixteenths of its radioactivity.)

"The contaminants that fell on to the land did so mostly but not entirely in nearby places that had already been evacuated."

"the cumulative releases from Fukushima add up to a major release”

"None of this makes Fukushima trivial; it is a grave crisis."
5393  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Big Mike and Big Bird on: April 17, 2011, 11:19:19 AM
Triple digit flaws  wink recognized in Big Mike youtube on Presidential 2012:

Programs that are popular on PBS will survive fine without subsidy.  Also for Planned Parenthood, if its cause is so noble and it needs only a thousandth of what tax rates 'cost' it could easily solicit left wing, free will support from just the leftist rich keeping too much of their own money.  What kind of religion are we establishing BTW by forcing the support of these practices, killing the unborn by the millions, onto the half of the populace who abhor that practice?

The '$70 billion cost' of tax cuts coincided with revenue SURGES that closed the deficits to one tenth of what they are now.  (That is the opposite of a 'cost'.)  Growth stopped when the opposing agenda took power in Washington.

By the end of his little chalk talk, he had it down to the 'cuts that the GOP are trying to make'.  FYI, the GOP people are not trying to make cuts,  they are trying to balance things and make our government and society healthy and sustainable which cannot happen without economic growth.  The status quo he advocates (higher taxes) precludes growth and thus precludes sustainability.
5394  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential - not Trump on: April 17, 2011, 10:31:56 AM
CCP: "Marc Levin states Trump is not the real deal or a serious candidate."

I was listening to that same show.  It wasn't Levin's opinion but the evidence he presented that was persuasive.  I enjoy what Trump is saying now; it fits with the tea party message.  2 years ago Obama supporters loved what he was saying.

He explains his Dem/leftist contributions as giving to both sides is a cost of doing business.  Yet his contributions were 80% to the left so any reaching across would be the rare occasions he supported conservatives.  Plenty of business people have taken a principled position in politics.  He hasn't.  What he calls a cost of doing business is now baggage for pursuing public office.  He had every right to promote Chuck Schumer's agenda, but he doesn't have the power or charisma to make that go away.

Along with no electoral experience, from a conservative point of view he would seem to also have no principled voting experience either or pattern of showing conviction.

Earlier in my real estate investing career and earlier in Trump's career, I bought his book 'Art of the Deal', sold as a how-to book and quickly learned that it was an egotist writing  'aren't I great' and 'don't I hang around with important and famous people' with nothing of value for the reader.  The message was that if you're him, don't bother.  People who run for President need a healthy ego but I prefer the outlook that this is about we the people not he the leader.
5395  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: April 16, 2011, 09:50:06 PM
Speaking of the legal issues of war - in Iraq, I was wondering if anyone is able to obtain a copy or link to the Saddam surrender agreement of 1991: 3 March 1991—Iraq accepted the conditions of the UN resolutions in exchange for a cease fire.  Assuming he did not live up to his agreement, what were supposed to be the consequences in 'international law'?  Resume firing?
5396  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: April 16, 2011, 01:19:15 PM
These special privileges need to be treated or ended in a package: ethanol in Iowa, charitable giving over at the churches (etc) and the mortgage deduction everywhere.  Each agrees to give up your own to lock in the package - or it can't happen.  The Iowa farmer loses his ethanol subsidy for example but the policy package will bring diesel costs down by a third along with inheritance tax reform.  Deductions phase out but rates come down.  There has to be a bright side - besides saving the republic!

Sometimes the compromise can be right down the middle (not so much for abortion).  With business meals they start allowing half the expense.  Ending the deduction entirely and you kill restaurants and lose those jobs.  Allow 50% of charitable to be deducted would seem like a fairer outcome.  Or end all deductions for the lower rate, both are okay with me. But we don't save money by killing off cancer research and turning all charitable work into functions of government.  In general I prefer that social functions handled more by charities, versus more to government.

From JDN: "You can't eliminate the mortgage deduction for everyone the first year. Or all charitable contributions. It is political suicide.  That gets back to my point earlier about principles and electability.  Step by step."

I agree.  Find the right policy and phase it in.  If the end point is 50% of mortgage interest and 50% of charitable giving is to be deductible, then phase it in with a 10% change per year until you hit the new policy.

Phasing in tax rate cuts however doesn't work because of the incentive to delay the gains for the lowest rate.  The corporate tax rate should be cut instantly to the average of OECD, taking away part of the incentive to capture income offshore.  That will not cost us revenue.  Capital gains tax rates should be either lowered or locked in where they are without expiration.  How can anyone advise for or against a major investment decision with detailed analysis without knowing the tax rate? They can't and most major expansions are either on hold or built elsewhere.
5397  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: April 16, 2011, 12:44:27 AM
Continuing the coverage and criticism of the incumbent:

1) For his budget speech this week (where Biden snoozed) touted to be serious and news making (turns out it was a speech, not a plan), he invited and Paul Ryan among others came and sat in the front row, only to be personally trashed by the President in a Presidential address, in a partisan rant, without getting his facts correct. 

2) Recall that he did that to the Supreme Court Justices at a State of the Union, got them all invited in and seated and then trashed them in front of the nation, their colleagues and the other branches of government, without getting his facts right.

3) Already covered, but his insensitivity to the questioner about gas prices means he is out of touch to the declining standard of living under his watch and flippant about it.  He says buy a hybrid (he used to say inflate your tires).  They need more vehicle so he says buy an SUV hybrid.  He has no idea how old their car is or what they drive or what their income or employment status is, but if they had bought a hybrid at the start of his Presidency based on the gas cost savings, with or without a subsidy, that savings was already swallowed up by the price increases from failed energy policies under his watch.  Specifically, this ignorant jerk's refusal to allow real domestic energy production commensurate with our consumption.  JMHO.
5398  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics, Wesbury, Alan Reynolds on: April 16, 2011, 12:22:00 AM
I listened to Brian Wesbury on the radio this evening; he has been ripped pretty hard here lately for his positive forecasts.  His politics are diametrically opposite to Obama's, similar to mine.  Given that, his optimism under Obama's policies is puzzling.  I picked up a couple of points he made.  Our total assets are 155 Trillion, he says, not counting infrastructure.  Our income (GDP) is 15 T.  Our deficit is 1.5T/yr, presumably shrinking.  Debt is 14T going to 16, etc.  He asks in simple terms: If you had the opportunity to inherit 155 million (or thousand or hundred) but it had liabilities of 16 million, would you take it?  He basically thinks we face the same debt doom and gloom that GM and others warn; he just thinks we are a few years further from the precipice and more likely to break out and solve this.  He thinks equity investors should be long (invested) because stocks are undervalued and you will miss the takeoff if you are out.  I take the last part with a grain a salt a) because he works for an investment company and b) because it relates to the future which is a known unknown.  Personally I am 100% neutral on the question of whether other people should have their money in or out of the market. 
Economist Alan Reynolds has perhaps been reading the forum: "Both individual income taxes and overall federal taxes have long been a surprisingly constant percentage of GDP—8% and 18%, respectively— regardless of top tax rates on salaries, small business and investors. It follows that the only reliable way to raise real federal revenues over time is to raise real GDP."

"Mr. Obama's hope that raising only the highest tax rates could keep individual tax receipts well above 9% of GDP has been repeatedly tested for more than six decades. It has always failed."

Obama's Soak-the-Rich Tax Hikes Won't Work
Income tax revenues have been remarkably stable at 8% of GDP, regardless of tax rates. The way to increase revenue is to grow the economy.


President Obama's response to congressional efforts to curb runaway federal spending is to emphasize, once again, his resolve to greatly increase tax rates on married couples whose joint incomes are above $250,000. This insistent desire to raise taxes—which he repeated in a speech yesterday while complaining about "trillions of dollars in . . . tax cuts that went to every millionaire and billionaire in the country"—is a distraction. It won't solve our nation's fiscal problem.

Preliminary estimates from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) project that federal spending under the president's 2012 budget plan would average 23.3% over the coming decade—up from 19.7% in 2007 and 18.2% in 2001.

Even if the president could persuade Congress to enact all of his proposed tax increases, in addition to surtaxes already included in ObamaCare, the CBO finds we would still face endless budget deficits averaging 4.8% of GDP.
The Deficit Speech

"Federal debt held by the public would double under the President's budget," says the CBO, "growing from $10.4 trillion (69% of GDP) at the end of 2011 to $20.8 trillion (87% of GDP) at the end of 2021, adding $9.5 trillion to the nation's debt from 2012 to 2021."

And yet, enormous as they are, these deficit and debt estimates assume that the higher tax rates called for under the president's 2012 budget plan do no harm to the economy, that interest rates stay unusually low, and that the economy avoids recession for a dozen years. Those assumptions require taxpayers to behave much differently than they ever have before.

The revenue estimates are even more unbelievable. According to the Office of Management and Budget, total revenues would supposedly exceed 19% of GDP after 2015, rising to 20% by 2021—a level briefly reached only at the height of World War II (1944-45) and the pinnacle of the tech-stock boom (2000). Moreover, these unprecedented revenues would supposedly come from the individual income tax, which is even less plausible.

It is not as though we have never tried high tax rates before. From 1951 to 1963, the lowest tax rate was 20% to 22% and the highest was 91% to 92%. The top capital gains tax rate approached 40% in 1976-77. Aside from cyclical swings, however, the ratio of individual income tax receipts to GDP has always remained about 8% of GDP.

The individual income tax brought in 7.8% of GDP from 1952 to 1979 when the top tax rate ranged from 70% to 92%, 8% of GDP from 1993 to 1996 when the top tax rate was 39.6%, and 8.1% from 1988 to 1990 when the highest individual income tax rate was 28%. Mr. Obama's hope that raising only the highest tax rates could keep individual tax receipts well above 9% of GDP has been repeatedly tested for more than six decades. It has always failed.

Federal revenue from the individual income tax exceeded 9% of GDP only eight times in U.S. history—during World War II (9.4% in 1944), the recessions of 1969-70, 1981-82 and 1991-92, and the tech-stock boom-bust of 1998-2001. Revenues were a high share of GDP during the three recessions because GDP fell.

The situation of 1997-2000 was unique. Individual income tax revenues reached an unprecedented 9.6% of GDP from 1997 to 2000 for reasons quite unlikely to be repeated. An astonishing quintupling of Nasdaq stock prices coincided with an extraordinary proliferation of stock options, which the Federal Reserve's Survey of Consumer Finances found were granted to 11% of U.S. families by 2001, and with a reduction in the capital gains tax to 20% from 28%, which encouraged much greater realization of taxable gains through stock sales. Revenues from the capital gains tax rose to 10.8% of all individual income tax receipts in 1997 and 13% by 2000. The unexpected revenue windfalls in President Bill Clinton's second term were largely a consequence of lower tax rates on capital gains.

Using IRS data, Thomas Piketty of the Paris School of Economics and Emmanuel Saez of the University of California at Berkeley have estimated that realized capital gains accounted for just 13%-22% of reported income among the top 1% of taxpayers from 1988 to 2006, when gains were taxed at 28%—but that fraction swiftly reached 29%-32% in 1998-2000, when the capital gains tax fell to 20%.

The average tax rate of such top taxpayers was mechanically diluted by the greatly increased realizations of capital gains after 1997 and 2003, since a larger share of reported income consisted of capital gains. Yet the amount of taxes paid by top taxpayers reached record highs for the same reason—there was more revenue to be had from taxing many gains at a low rate than from taxing fewer gains a high rate. Nobody can be forced to sell assets in taxable accounts. To complain that a low tax on realized capital gains is "unfair" is to suggest it would be fairer for affluent investors to sit on unrealized gains, as though an unpaid tax is morally superior to one that collects billions.

As a result of the conventional confusion between tax rates and revenues, some stories in the media have abetted the delusion that the huge gap between spending and likely revenues could be narrowed by simply increasing the highest tax rates on capital gains and/or dividends.

A recent cover story in Bloomberg Businessweek by Jesse Drucker, "The More You Make, the Less You Pay," reported that, "For the well-off, this could be the best tax day since the early 1930s. . . . For the 400 U.S. taxpayers with the highest adjusted gross income, the effective federal income tax rate—what they actually pay—fell from almost 30% in 1995 to just under 17% in 2007, according to the IRS."

Among the top 400 taxpayers (rarely the same people from one year to the next), the average tax rate fell to 22.3% in 2000, when the capital gains tax was 20%, from 29.9% in 1995 when the capital gains tax was 28%. But that same IRS report also shows that real tax revenues from the top 400 more than doubled after the capital gains tax fell, rising to $11.8 billion in 2000 from $5.2 billion in 1995, measured in 1990 dollars.

The same thing happened after 2003, when the capital gains tax was further reduced to 15%. The average tax rate of the top 400 fell to 16.6% in 2007 from 22.9% in 2002. Even though there was no stock market boom as in 1997-2000, real revenues of the top 400 nevertheless doubled again—to $14.5 billion in 2007 from $6.9 billion in 2002. Instead of paying less when the capital gains tax rate went down in 1997 and 2003, the top 400 instead paid much, much more.

The trendy talking point of blaming projected deficits on "tax cuts for the rich" is flatly absurd.

Both individual income taxes and overall federal taxes have long been a surprisingly constant percentage of GDP—8% and 18%, respectively— regardless of top tax rates on salaries, small business and investors. It follows that the only reliable way to raise real federal revenues over time is to raise real GDP.

Mr. Reynolds is a senior fellow with the Cato Institute and the author of "Income and Wealth" (Greenwood Press 2006).
5399  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Internet regulation - Net Neutrality, WSJ on: April 15, 2011, 10:37:29 PM

Net Neutrality Override
The House votes to stop the FCC's Internet power grab.

The Obama Administration continues to ignore court decisions on Internet regulation and use agencies like the Federal Communications Commission to circumvent Congress. We're happy to see House Republicans vote to overrule this behavior.

Two days before Christmas, the FCC issued "net neutrality" rules on a partisan 3-2 vote that restrict how Internet service providers like Comcast and Verizon can manage their network traffic and serve customers. The regulation is a favorite of big Web content companies and Naderite consumerists who want more political sway over the Internet.

James Gattuso of the Heritage Foundation on White House efforts to regulate the Web.

Congress has never given the FCC authority to regulate the Internet, which is why the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against the agency last year when it tried to enforce net neutrality rules against Comcast. FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski nonetheless pressed ahead, despite the absence of any market failure or consumer harm that might justify new rules.

Last week the House voted 240 to 179 to reverse the rule-making. Representative Greg Walden of Oregon introduced the measure under the Congressional Review Act, which allows Congress to overturn agency rules with a simple majority in the House and Senate.

On the House floor, Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton said the FCC had "overstepped its authority and is attempting to seize control of one of the nation's greatest technological success stories." He's right. By the FCC's own reckoning, 95% of the country has access to broadband, and inside of a decade the number of Internet users has grown to 200 million from eight million. Meanwhile, prices are falling and choices are expanding. Almost no mobile applications were available to consumers in 2007. Today there are more than a half-million, and they're growing at an annual rate of 92%.

The resolution now moves to the Senate, where only 51 votes are needed. But President Obama has promised to veto the measure if it reaches his desk, and 67 Senate votes would be needed to override the veto. Whether enough Democrats would vote with the GOP to do that is an open question, though we wouldn't dismiss the possibility of some bipartisan support given the number of Senate Democrats up for re-election next year.

The exercise is still useful in reminding the White House that the Constitution delegates lawmaking to Congress, not political appointees at the FCC. It also might have a chastening effect on the Administration, which has turned to rule-making agencies like the FCC and the Environmental Protection Agency to push an agenda that it can't get through Congress.

Mr. Obama insists that he's focused on economic growth and innovation. He could do that goal a favor by letting Congress override his politically-driven FCC.
5400  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: April 15, 2011, 04:27:42 PM
"As for the rich, nothing wrong with being rich, but get rid of the special "rich" loopholes and deductions.  I suggest taxing all mortgages
above 1million.  And eliminate second home deductions. The middle class doesn't live in million dollar homes or have second homes.  And if you are rich enough to own one, why should you get a deduction, when the middle class guy living in an apartment gets nothing.  And scale back charitable
contribution deductions; I donate my appreciated art collection or stocks to my alma mater and never pay tax; is that right?  The middle class
doesn't have that option."

Another set of new laws targeting this and targeting that so it applies to one group and not to another.  I am fighting for the opposite - one set of rules.  If you want, lower the rates and eliminate the deductions for everyone IMO.  Eliminating the charitable deduction at these rates will eliminate plenty of charities, making government even more in charge of our every need, just what they want.

You are right IMO on this: reforming Social Security IS touchable.  I say adjust FDR's ratios to today's realities (1% tax?).  The alternative for those who want to remove the income cap is to: lower the rate, apply it to ALL earned income evenly, make it transparent - consolidate the employer hidden half so people see what is taken, raise the retirement age way up to the point of unable to work, means test every benefit, and let it become the smaller welfare net that people seem to want instead of the insurance enhancement product that it once was.

SS has been solvent up until now but at 15+% it is eating up the taxable income potential from the rest of our needs.  It is a brutal tax on the middle class and the thriving self-employed.  Let's downsize it. 
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