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5351  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Way Forward - VDH - Change We Can Believe In on: November 30, 2009, 10:25:22 PM
Prof. Hanson writes a blog at Pajamas Media called Works and Days.   Most recent entry fits well into the discussion of the way forward and ideas for the points of the new contract with America, my personal favorite: moving the UN headquarters to Lagos!
 November 29th, 2009 9:24 am
Change We Can Believe In

So, fellow critics of Obama, what would we do instead? It is easy to harp, as Obama did in 2007-8, but hard to govern, as Obama learned in 2009. So for all the criticism, let us put up some sample proposals of our own.

Ok, try the following.

1. Pay as you go, balanced budget—whatever you wish to call a return to fiscal sanity. Conservatives need to stop talking about tolerable deficits in terms of GDP; and liberals should cease the charade that trillion-plus annual borrowing is great stimulus.

The psychological effect on the American people of paying down the debt through annual surpluses would be incalculable. “Decline” is as much psychological as real, and begins with perceptions of financial insolvency. We have a $11 trillion economy, so balancing the books is not impossible. Note how Obama intends to “address the deficit” only after he has set two budgets that will increase it by nearly four trillion dollars. Note how Bush’s sin of running up large annual deficits is used to excuse Obama’s mortal sin of doubling them. Note how Democrats, after lining up for a trillion-dollar federal take-over of health care, are worried about a multi-billion dollar expense in Afghanistan.  Cuts in defense, as the later Romans knew, are always the first reaction to profligate domestic spending and entitlement.

2. Freeze federal spending at the present rate, and let increased revenues balance the budget. The idea that we could ever cut outright the budget seems long ago impossible—given the culture of complaint and the melodramatic rants about starvation and murder if another entitlement is not granted. Still, some sort of leadership is required to remind the American people that much of what their government does is not just unnecessary, but counter-productive and they would be better off without it.

Apparently, Obama simultaneously believes (a) he can create a permanent loyal constituency of millions who either receive or disperse federal “stimulus”, in the fashion of the old Roman turba; (b )he can borrow so much money that higher taxes will be seen as vital and therefore the original intent of income redistribution accomplished; (c) that, having had little experience in the private sector, but much financial success as a community or government employee, he can assume that money comes out of thin air and is to be dispersed non-stop through public benefaction; (d) the upper-middle class, which strives to be as rich as he is, is somehow culpable. A common theme throughout history is a paradoxical hatred of the equestrian, productive class, by both the idle aristocratic and entitlement constituents, who hand in glove need each other.

3. Some sort of fair or flat tax that ends the trillion-dollar industry of tax preparation, avoidance, and fraud.  For about a quarter of the population April 15 is a spooky sort of Halloween. Instead, we need a tax system in which one can complete the necessary preparation in about 2 hours. Whose bright idea was it to excuse nearly half the American households from income tax exposure (Clinton and Bush, and now Obama?)—a fact that explains why in Pavlovian fashion recently Senators have been saying that we can add on a new war tax, a health-care surcharge, and a new high rate on “them”? The justification of a 40% income tax, 10% state income tax, 15.3% payroll tax, and new war and health care surcharge taxes can only be that one’s income was undeserved, ill-gotten, and thus better “rectified” by more enlightened federal redistributors.

4. Close the borders to illegal immigration, through completion of the fence, biometric IDs, employer sanctions, beefed up enforcement—coupled with a radical change in legal immigration law that favors education and skill, rather than simply family ties. The present mockery of existing law undermines the sanctity of every law. Those who knowingly break immigration laws, and know that they will not in the future be enforced, naturally assume that other laws likewise will not apply to them, from tax reporting to the vehicle code. We really must ask—why the national outcry over whether illegal aliens will be included in the new health care plan when $50 billion is sent back as remittances to Latin America each year? In rough math, each of the supposedly 11 million illegal aliens sends out on average around $4000-5000 per year southward. Perhaps we could tax remittances to fund their health care? Something is strange about the attitude of “I must send $400-500 a month home to support my family, but now I am broke and need someone to pay for my care at the emergency room, etc.”

5. A can-do energy plan. Offer tax incentives for development of nuclear power. Promote exploitation of gas and oil reserves in, and off, the United States, as a way to transition over 20 years to next generation fuels without enriching our enemies or going broke in the process. I never understood why nuclear power for electricity and natural gas/hybrids for transportation—we could be nearly energy independent through both—were declared environmentally incorrect when dotting pristine fields, deserts, and mountain passes with ugly wind turbines, acres of solar panels, and miles of access roads was considered “green.” Does Obama really think that the truther Van Jones knows more about power production than the head of a natural gas or oil company, or the engineer of a nuclear power plant?

Now the symbolic and randomly odd suggestions:

1. For grades 8-12, teachers could choose either the traditional credential or the MA degree in an academic subject. Few laws would have wider ramifications in curbing the power of the education lobby and its union partners, and vastly improve classroom teaching performance.

It would cost nothing and do more for educational progress than anything of the last three decades (high school students can sense who wrote a MA thesis on the Civil War and who got a teaching credential taking Bill-Ayers-like courses on race, class, and gender stereotyping). Why can PhDs and MAs in American history walk into a JC classroom, but not a high-school history class? Eliminate tenure for teachers and professors, replaced by 5-year renewable contracts, subject to completion of contracted targets on classroom performance and continuing education. The combination of a therapeutic curriculum, with an increasingly illiterate student, has resulted in a national disaster. Hint: when students arrive ill-prepared from dysfunctional families as was common in the last few decades, they need more math, grammar, and basics, not more self-esteem and “I am somebody” pep courses. Each year I taught, I was struck by the ever more common phenomenon of students ever less prepped in grammar, syntax, and “facts”, but ever more ready to expound on something—anything really—about themselves, usually with the theme of their own victimhood.

2. Transfer the UN headquarters to an African or South American capital closer to the problems of hunger, disease, and poverty. I suggest either Lagos or Lima. Global elites could not walk from five-star hotels  to the CBS studios to grandstand about US pathologies. But delegates could match their solidarity rhetoric by concretely living with the other. We would get away from the “U.S. did it”.  UN forces could ring UN headquarters when a nearby Chavez or Mugabe was rumored to be saber-rattling and crossing borders. When the Kofi Annans of the world got upset stomachs from their luncheon salads, perhaps they could address world sanitation and government corruption rather than Israel.

3. An end to affirmative action based on race. If “help” is needed, it should be based on class and income. Why should Eric Holder’s children be classed as in need while someone from the Punjab (of darker hue) or Bakersfield (with less capital) is considered ineligible? Why should a Carmel female at the corporate level be seen as progress, but not a son of Appalachian coal miners? The entire corrupt system is redolent of the 1/16 laws of the Old Confederacy, as almost every American is conning some sort of Ward-Churchill-like heritage to pull off what Ward Churchill did—get some edge over the competition for something that they otherwise might not obtain. Whether intended or not, affirmative action has become the pet project  largely of elites, who feel their own capital and insider connections will ensure their own do not suffer from the unspoken quotas they impose on others—as a sort of cheap psychological penance for their own guilt over their own privilege.

4. Return of the US Homestead Act and expand it to urban areas. Instead of redevelopment for wealthy insider grandees who tear down neighborhoods for convention complexes, state and local government should be encouraged to deed over idle properties to individuals willing to build homes and stay 10 years on the property. Shedding, not adding to, government land-owning makes more sense.  Who knows, one might find self-help recolonization projects in downtown Detroit. Maybe Californians and some of their industries might move to the empty top third of their state, rather than families paying $1 million for a 800 sq foot bungalow in congested Menlo Park.

5. Outlaw the naming of federal projects after any living politicians. Don’t laugh. Without their names on highway stretches, bridges, and “centers”, most of these projects would not be built. Once a senator or congress-person accepted that there would never, never be  “The Hon. Tadd Burris Community Center” or “Mt. Bud Jones Wilderness Area”, much of the earmarks would cease. What is the logic behind the notion that we immortalize a senator or congresswoman who uses someone else’s money to build a bridge, or lobbies for an earmark for his district, or, at best, simply does his job? Should carpenters get every fourth tract house named in their honor for their work? Should teachers have their classrooms forever emblazoned with their own names (Instead of “room 11,” we would get The “Skip Johnson English room”?)? Should doctors have surgery rooms with their own names on the door? People who give their own money have a right to eponymous monuments, but not those who do it as part of their job descriptions and with someone else’s capital. Our political class, not content with being increasingly corrupt, is now buffoonish as well. The career of the court-jester John Murtha is emblematic of the age.

There!—some modest suggestions for change we can believe in.
5352  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Energy Politics & Science - Stop Dithering on: November 30, 2009, 10:04:10 PM
Thanks CCP, I like the way you are thinking.  To me, it is not total energy independence that we need, but at the least we should be able to survive with what can be produced in partnership with a friendly Canada and stop enriching enemies and shipping crucial supplies through faraway, difficult to defend waters.

I was planning to post a plan from Victor Hanson in 'the way forward' and I still will, but here is his energy component:

VDH: "A can-do energy plan. Offer tax incentives for development of nuclear power. Promote exploitation of gas and oil reserves in, and off, the United States, as a way to transition over 20 years to next generation fuels without enriching our enemies or going broke in the process. I never understood why nuclear power for electricity and natural gas/hybrids for transportation—we could be nearly energy independent through both—were declared environmentally incorrect when dotting pristine fields, deserts, and mountain passes with ugly wind turbines, acres of solar panels, and miles of access roads was considered “green.” Does Obama really think that the truther Van Jones knows more about power production than the head of a natural gas or oil company, or the engineer of a nuclear power plant?"

The answer of course is all of the above.  We can keep expanding wind and solar and developing 'next generation fuels' but still need to power the economy in the meantime. 

Hanson writes:  "nuclear power for electricity and natural gas/hybrids for transportation".

I wrote similarly in the nuclear thread (8/11/09): "If we substitute nuclear for natural gas in electricity and American natural gas in place of foreign oil in transportation, besides solving the CO2 spiral we would also be sending fewer dollars sent to Chavez and the Mullahs.  It would be good for the currency, simplify foreign policy and ease the cost of national defense."

Instead we dither.
5353  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / NBC Meet the Press today, outrage? on: November 29, 2009, 11:48:49 AM
I was rebuked strongly (understatement) for comparing something horrific with something horrific in a post of mine in this thread in October.  

Dr. Rick Warren, author of "The Purpose Driven Life" hardly a fire-brand far right wing extremist, was a Thanksgiving weekend guest of David Gregory on NBC's 'Meet the Press' and shared his otherwise sensible views on many subjects but also used the h-word to describe the tragedy of 46 million killed since Roe v. Wade. ,
5354  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / How they got the 60th vote on: November 29, 2009, 11:20:42 AM
Al Franken couldn't hold a 14 point Obama margin against popular centrist Republican incumbent Norm Coleman, but he did hold his election to a zero point margin, and that was enough because of the victory guarantee program his party had put in place ahead the election.

The near sweep of 2006 included replacing a competent (R) Secretary of State with one that was hand-picked by and heavily supported by the left-wing activist group  At the tiime no one outside of the Bush-Gore inner fight understood the significance.  Simultaneous to state change and even preceding it was the takeover of the inner city election process by ACORN.

Twin Cities ABC affiliate KSTP-5 just ran an extensive investigative report concluding that whether or not your questionable or clearly defective ballot was accepted or rejected depended wholly on what jurisdiction you lived in.  In the outlying areas, state law was followed.  In the liberal inner cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, ballots without signatures, witnesses or addresses were commonly accepted.

They interviewed the MN Sec. of State for 90 minutes and he refused to break out his reading glasses to look at any of the material they presented, sticking to generalities that prevailed in the court challenge to the end result.
5355  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Continuing to fund the criminal enterprise that helped elect President Obama on: November 28, 2009, 09:42:17 PM

Republican blasts ACORN reprieve
Foon Rhee, deputy national political editor November 27, 2009

A top House Republican today blasted a ruling by the Justice Department that allows the Obama administration to pay ACORN for services provided under contracts signed before Congress passed a law banning the community advocacy group from receiving taxpayers money.

Republicans have been on the warpath against ACORN since its voter registration efforts came under scrutiny during the 2008 presidential campaign. After conservative activists, who posed as a prostitute and pimp, released videos appearing to show ACORN staffers advising them how to skirt the law, Democrats joined in the outrage, leading to the congressional funding ban that Obama signed on Oct. 1.

Since 1994, ACORN, which stands for the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, has received about $53 million in federal aid, much of it in grants to help poor people obtain affordable housing. The Justice Department asked whether the funding ban applied to prior contracts. In a ruling first reported by the New York Times, a department lawyer said the payments under prior contracts should continue because the language of the law did not expressly wipe them out.

But Representative Darrell Issa, the top Republican on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, said "the bipartisan intent of Congress was clear -- no more federal dollars should flow to ACORN."

"It is telling that this administration continues to look for every excuse possible to circumvent the intent of Congress," Issa said in a statement. "Taxpayers should not have to continue subsidizing a criminal enterprise that helped Barack Obama get elected president. The politicization of the Justice Department to payback one of the president’s political allies is shameful and amounts to nothing more than old-fashioned cronyism."
5356  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Pathological Science, Washington Post on the Emails on: November 27, 2009, 10:24:29 PM
This should really be in 'Media Issues' since the silence of the "Lamestream Media" on the biggest story of the decade has started to become the story and the piece has no science or substance.  The Editorial has to explain about the email leak since the news department seemed to miss it, then explain that the conclusions remain the same, obviously, even though all the supporting data is now in doubt.  That makes sense to them, I suppose.

I post this both to rip them and to cover what the 'other side' is saying in the absence of dissent on the forum.

Like most liberal pieces, it starts with a lie in the first sentence and throws in a name-call for good measure: "Stop hyperventilating, all you climate change deniers."

In fact, the hyperventilating is coming from the alarmists, 'we must act now or the planet will die of a fever' and the people he calls deniers of a normal cycle, climate change are climate change rationalists, not deniers.  The reality deniers are the ones who see a 0.5 degree rise over a century and call it 'unprecedented'.   

E-mails Don't Prove Warming is a Fraud
By Eugene Robinson,  Washington Post

WASHINGTON -- Stop hyperventilating, all you climate change deniers. The purloined e-mail correspondence published by skeptics last week -- portraying some leading climate researchers as petty, vindictive and tremendously eager to make their data fit accepted theories -- does not prove that global warming is a fraud.

If I'm wrong, somebody ought to tell the polar ice caps that they're free to stop melting.

That said, the e-mail episode is more than a major embarrassment for the scientists involved. Most Americans are convinced that climate change is real -- a necessary prerequisite for the kinds of huge economic and behavioral adjustments we would have to make to begin seriously limiting carbon emissions. But consensus on the nature and scope of the problem will dissipate, and fast, if experts try to obscure the fact that there's much about the climate they still don't know.

Here's what happened: Someone hacked into the servers at one of the leading academic centers in the field -- the Climatic Research Unit of the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England -- and filched a trove of e-mails and documents, which have been posted on numerous Web sites maintained by climate skeptics.

Phil Jones, the head of the Climatic Research Unit, released a statement Wednesday saying, "My colleagues and I accept that some of the published e-mails do not read well." That would be an example of British understatement.

In one message sent to a long list of colleagues, Jones speaks of having completed a "trick" with recent temperature data to "hide the decline." The word "trick" is hardly a smoking gun -- scientists use it to refer to clever but perfectly legitimate ways of handling data. But the "hide the decline" part refers to a real issue among climate researchers called the "divergence problem."

To plot temperatures going back hundreds or thousands of years -- long before anyone was taking measurements -- you need a set of data that can serve as an accurate proxy. The width of tree rings correlates well with observed temperature readings, and extrapolating that correlation into the past yields the familiar "hockey stick" graph -- fairly level temperatures for eons, followed by a sharp incline beginning around 1900. This is attributed to human activity, primarily the burning of fossil fuels and the resulting increase in heat-trapping atmospheric carbon dioxide.

But beginning around 1960, tree-ring data diverges from observed temperatures. Skeptics say this calls into question whether tree-ring data is valid for earlier periods on the flat portion of the hockey stick -- say, 500 or 1,000 years ago. Jones and others acknowledge they don't know what the divergence means, but they point to actual temperatures: It's warmer now than it was 100 years ago.

Another e-mail -- from Kevin Trenberth of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo. -- is even more heartening to the skeptics. Trenberth wrote last month of the unusually cool autumn that Colorado was experiencing, and went on: "The fact is that we can't account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can't."

He appears to be conceding skeptics' claim that over the past decade there has been no observed warming. In truth, though, that wouldn't be much of a concession. At issue is the long-term trend, and one would expect anomalous blips from time to time.

From my reading, the most damning e-mails are those in which scientists seem to be trying to squelch dissent from climate change orthodoxy -- threatening to withhold papers from journals if they publish the work of naysayers, vowing to keep skeptical research out of the official U.N.-sponsored report on climate change.

In his statement, Jones noted that the e-mail hack occurred just days before the climate summit in Copenhagen. "This may be a concerted attempt to put a question mark over the science of climate change," he said. There's that understatement again.

The fact is that climate science is fiendishly hard because of the enormous number of variables that interact in ways no one fully understands. Scientists should welcome contrarian views from respected colleagues, not try to squelch them. They should admit what they don't know.

It would be great if this were all a big misunderstanding. But we know carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas, and we know the planet is hotter than it was a century ago. The skeptics might have convinced each other, but so far they haven't gotten through to the vanishing polar ice.
5357  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Glen Beck on: November 27, 2009, 08:32:16 PM
I noticed that Crafty mentioned watching Glen Beck daily and the LA TImes entertainment writer didn't.  Someone told Tim Rutten that Glen Beck was overly provocative and the audience of  vulnerable adults is dangerous so he wrote a piece about it.  Rush has gone through that for 2 decades.  Haters collect quotes and clips eliminating meaning and context.  Then they post at the NY Times and left-wing sites and elites feel justified hating and ripping the program and its following.

I've listened to Glen Beck on radio plenty.  His 'conspiracy' charge is that this administration's playbook is right out of extremist Saul Alinsky's radical rules.  That happens to be true whether by design or coincidence.  Rutten is accusing Beck of correctly noticing it and pointing it out.   He suggests that Beck should be pulled off the air for doing so.

Also like Rush critics, he assumes the audience has no mind of their own and considers it dangerous for them to hear (honest) criticism of the President.

Why not take on ANY of Beck's points head-on, like that Valerie Jarret is a radical, Jeremy Wright - obviously, Van Jones and on and on and on.  The attacker declined to do that.

I have no idea of the Hitler context, just know from listening that he has it wrong and that he was mum when worse was done to Bush, when Kerry, Durban, Murtha called our own troops terrorists, when Harry Reid declared the Iraq War lost, and when Obama and his Proxies ran a full page to say our commanding General was perhaps 'Betraying us'.  

The selective outrage is sickening.

Regarding  the Anti-defamation League: I assume ADL was once a respected group looking out for Jewish interests and unfair treatment.  I regret linking them here when looking into the Pat Buchanan complaint because what I learned by looking was that besides some serious charges against PB's words, they went on and on accusing him of other bigotry that simply wasn't.  For example, castigating him for not backing the gay preferred rights agenda or equating anti-welfare stances with racism.  Those to me say something about their politics and agenda and nothing about him, and they dilute, weaken and cheapen their original point IMO assuming it had any validity in the first place.
5358  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Way Forward for conservatives: on: November 26, 2009, 10:09:54 PM

If we don't want to go down this rat hole of socialism and decline, we better get clear right now about what it is exactly that we want, why that is a better path than the one we are on, and start speaking out, and writing, showing up, etc.  Whatever it takes.

The word for Republicanism of recent past might have been fogginess.  Sometimes the principles were ignored; sometimes sold, almost always they were compromised or invisible and inaudible.  Sometimes the policies were right but the explanations were wrong, missing or mumbled. 

We need clarity as in easy to understand, distinctness, precision.  Clarity as a consequence of being explicit.  Clarity where actions and words are consistent with clear, stated principles that our great nation has already agreed on.
5359  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants on: November 26, 2009, 09:20:22 PM
Thanks BBG regarding VDH post.  My thoughts exactly, just expressed far better.  How can anyone be very optimistic economically when everything we are doing and likely to do is the opposite of what needs to be done to grow back a healthy, vibrant economy.

Gas prices are reasonable right now, only because of global recession.  Every year gone by is another year we didn't allow expansion or domestic sources, increase refining capacity, convert transportation to CNG or get started on new (carbon-free) nuclear plants.  Any new economic growth will be choked out by the resulting energy cost escalation.  Instead of action or solution, we plan the opposite - highest in history new energy taxes and regulations.  All increases in energy purchases will result in equal problems of trade, payment and currency imbalances.

Interest rates are at zero out of the Fed.   If they need to lower them further, they can't.  But they will need to raise them, and the cost of anything burdened in debt (consumers, homeowners, federal governments, states, school districts, businesses, you name it) will go up drastically with no visible, offsetting benefit.

Taxes will go up and public spending will not go down as deficits continue no matter what the election gains are in 2010.  Regulations in general aren't going to be eased in any foreseeable timeframe.

We can't go this far or this fast down a road in the wrong direction and turn it around on a dime - especially when we don't have consensus that we are headed in the wrong direction.

If this Keynesian stimulus appears to work with a short term uptick, we will follow it with what? More of what appeared too work, more public spending with more trillions in debt and more government takeovers of industries, choices and liberties.

If we add a 2 1/2 trillion dollar federal healthcare control system and find out that cost level isn't enough to do the job, we will then do what? Scrap it?  No.  We will be trapped and guilted into increasing taxes, debt and funding just like we still do with the first thousand-plus federal social spending programs.

Hard to be optimistic with these leaders facing these problems.
5360  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Environmental issues - re: Sea Levels on: November 25, 2009, 11:34:16 PM
The oceans go up and down more each day than they do in a century.  

Rotterdam is a 1000+ year old city, the dam was built in the 1260s, the sea level issues I assume pre-date CO2 escalations.

The piece can't resist blaming it all on 'climate change' and that humans caused it:
"A rise in temperatures around the world due to carbon emissions since the industrial revolution means many icecaps and glaciers are steadily melting."

But if icecaps melting is what causes sea levels to rise, how do we explain Arctic and Indian oceans levels falling:

"Europe's Space Agency's ERS-2 satellite has determined that over the last 10 years, sea level in the Arctic Ocean has been falling at an average rate of about 2 mm/year."  -

"Indian Ocean - sea levels falling
In 2003, Nils-Axel Mörner and his colleagues (see below) pub-
lished a well-documented paper showing that sea levels in the
Maldives have fallen substantially – fallen! – in the last 30 years.
I find it curious that we haven't heard about this.

"The Maldives in the central Indian Ocean consist of some 1,200
individual islands grouped in about 20 larger atolls," says Mörner.
In-as-much as the islands rise only three to seven feet above sea
level, they have been condemned by the IPCC to flooding in the
near future.

Mörner disagrees with this scenario. "In our study of the coastal
dynamics and the geomorphology of the shores," writes Mörner,
"we were unable to detect any traces of a recent sea level rise.
On the contrary, we found quite clear morphological indications
of a recent fall in sea level."

Mörner’s group found that sea levels stood about 60 cm higher
around A.D. 1150 than today, and more recently, about 30 cm
higher than today."

Besides drought and flood, warming and cooling, not surprisingly, the United Nations also says that climate change also causes prostitution:

"The effects of climate change have driven women in communities in coastal areas in poor countries like the Philippines into dangerous work, and sometimes even the flesh trade, a United Nations official said."
The Sky Isn't Falling and
the Sea Isn't Rising
By S. Fred Singer, Professor emeritus of environmental sciences at the University of Virginia and president of the Science & Environmental Policy Project in Fairfax, Va.
Back to the original piece: "Rotterdam is promoting the use of green roofs to collect rain water" - No mention of how many green roofs in Rotterdam it will take to bring the ocean down to its intended, optimum level.
If the earth did not have humans,IMHO the areas we call Rotterdam and New Orleans would still have water issues.
5361  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Pathological Science on: November 24, 2009, 03:57:36 PM
"PS he was one of Al Gores big sources for his movie."

Boyo,  You are correct; these are the lead scientists of the IPCC. These are the guys that won the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize.   I hope that doesn't diminish the accomplishments of this year's winner...

The US EPA categorized CO2 as a toxin based on their work.  Anyone committed to honest and accurate science would demand immediately that ruling be revisited.
5362  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: November 24, 2009, 01:17:28 PM
"The 'Real' Jobless Rate: 17.5% Of Workers Are Unemployed"

For young blacks that number is 35%.  Hope and change...
5363  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Pathological Science on: November 24, 2009, 01:08:37 PM
Likewise, Thanks BBG for covering this.  I have traveling, reading about it here, and wondering when the so-called mainstream will be forced to cover it.

There will be a response.   Usual is shoot the messenger, in this case the 'hacker'.

Looks more to me like a whistleblower (hero) than a hacker.

I wonder if any of this will be followed with legal action.  Against the hacker?   What about charges regarding the fraud committed on the public or on the funders of the tweaked data and faulty work, for example the 'scientist' who promised to delete the data before he would release it for McIntire's request under the Freedom of  Information Act...

Will these frauds be fired or have credentials and appointments pulled?
5364  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Common Sense Conservatism on: November 15, 2009, 01:39:24 PM
Rarick wrote: "Maybe if the Republicans moved to a more Libertarian stance, they would gain some more traction."

Not just libertarian as if that were just one possible direction to turn, but to truly make the honest reading and adherence to founding principles and constitutional limits on government that these elected officials are already sworn to uphold; that is what I would like to see.  Unfortunately, constitutional and libertarian labels remind people of candidates that tend to win about a half percent of the vote.  People see them as uncompromising on principles (a compliment in my book) but unworkable in today's society.  In other words, if you were sworn to these principles you could do nothing but dismantle most of the 'government' as we know it.  People envision disruption and riots in the streets.  The dependency we have created over the last half century or so is very real and not easy to repeal.

Another concept comes from the NY Pravda article just posted about Palin is the term 'common sense conservatism'.  One commentator during the last campaign looked at Palin's record as Governor and called it 'pragmatic conservatism' with the idea that supporters who expect her to govern with uncompromising conservatism will be sadly disappointed.

The key poiint in my mind is for the candidate or the leader to always know we need to turn, even with very small steps, in the right direction, toward limited government, founding principles, individual liberties and responsibilities and private sector solutions, not to pretend that we can dismantle huge programs overnight.

Another active non-candidate of this type is Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty who has been visiting Iowa, New Hampshire etc.  He is NOT a sweep you off your feet, charismatic candidate, but he is a level-headed, common sense conservative that opponents easily underestimate.  After plenty of ground testing efforts he hasn't broken out of the lower single digit support and probably won't until the bigger name, front runners start beating each other up.  What he has done is run, win and govern in a medium sized, blue to purple state - 2 terms. 

In terms of his home state polling, half of Minnesotans predict that he will win the nomination.  Amazing number considering most Americans haven't even heard of him, also a higher percentage than actially plan to vote for him if he is the nominee.

Picking Pawlenty wouldn't guarantee you a win in MN; his wins were against second rate candidates, not the leader of the free world with the support of the Chicago machine.  Picking Palin doesn't deliver you Alaska because that is already a red state.  Picking Mitt doesn't bring you Massachesetts (or Utah) nor does picking Huck bring you Arkansas, those are not swing states.  So this will all come down to political skill, positioning and presentation that can be effective across the heartland and in all the usual key states.
5365  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Politics of Health Care: re. Democrats Checkmate Themselves on: November 13, 2009, 02:23:54 PM
Very interesting take.  Democrat Senators in red and split states might as well vote yes on the Pelosi-Obama agenda, against their constituents, because otherwise they will be destroyed by their own parties and activists.  That doesn't bode well for defeating the bill.  Voting against health care in the Dem party would be like one of us leaving our country.  They could switch parties but I don't any of them are in a position or interest to do that.

I would not want to be in the situation of these moderates, R or D, trying to figure out what to do politically without having any backbone or principles of their own. 

5366  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Housing/Mortgage/Real Estate, Causes of the Crash on: November 13, 2009, 02:07:59 PM
Crafty,  The Pinto piece is the best I have read describing how this all went wrong.  Liberals think it was the greedy capitalists packaging and disguising bad loans in portfolios that caused the problems, but \packaging mortgages of different sizes and shapes would not have caused any new problem IF the underlying loans had been based on creditworthiness, with real valuations and down payments, with default rates at or under the historic levels of between 1 and 2%.

Unfortunately there is a segment of America not ready for home ownership and forcing them in before they are ready doesn't work.  There is a segment of our country without a consistent work history, that does not have good credit or a history of paying all their bills, much less on time.  They tend to live in America's inner cities and they are disproportionately non-white.  If you lend based on creditworthiness or opposed the bill of 1992 or the expansions upon expansions of forced and incentivized bad lending policies, you were labeled racist.

Programs made in the name of affordability are what made the product unaffordable - just like we are doing with health care and college tuition. 

If we wanted real affordability, we would: 1) use market discipline to control the price, not skew it with artificial rules and subsidies, and: 2) Affordability, meaning cost as a fraction of income, comes mostly from the denominator - INCOME, which is based on education, effort and getting people to participate positively in our economic system.  Most government intervention and spending programs do the opposite.

Handing people freebies that require negative behavior to qualify, and artificial flooding of markets with taxpayer money has exactly the opposite affect; it increases dependency and pushes costs up further and further from reach.
5367  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Homeland Security, re. political master stroke on: November 13, 2009, 01:36:07 PM
CCP, I agree.  This is a political stroke and a governing error that will likely blow up (figuratively) in their political face.

Some problems with criminalization of terror:
a) Suicide martyrs want to die anyway, love the attention, and are already incarcerated.
b) Goal of anti-terrorism is preemption / prevention; 'punishment' does nothing.
c) Discovery blows the cover of people and methods.
d) Defense will put USA, our anti-terrorism efforts and justice system on trial, while getting evidence thrown out.

Will the next Mohamed Atta or Khalid Sheikh Mohammed need to be caught exactly in the act, require probable cause to be bothered, be read his rights and consult an attorney, etc. before the US can take preventive, security actions??
5368  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Daily Expression of Gratitude on: November 13, 2009, 12:14:08 AM
I am grateful for the military police who shot the Ft. Hood killer.

Guide Dog on Veterans Day already thanked all who served and I belatedly second that, to those I don't even know, to my own father and to my grandfathers before him.  I am grateful.

I wish I could single out and thank everyone who served, but here's one great American.  I ran across this reading about the Fort Hood victims.  This could be under rest in peace, but I just want to say I am grateful for amazing courage and service:
Sgt. Amy Krueger

Krueger, 29, of Kiel, Wis., joined the Army after the 2001 terrorist attacks and had vowed to take on Usama bin Laden, her mother, Jeri Krueger said.

Amy Krueger arrived at Fort Hood on Tuesday and was scheduled to be sent to Afghanistan in December, the mother told the Herald Times Reporter of Manitowoc.

Jeri Krueger recalled telling her daughter that she could not take on bin Laden by herself.

"Watch me," her daughter replied.

Kiel High School Principal Dario Talerico told The Associated Press that Krueger graduated from the school in 1998 and had spoken at least once to local elementary school students about her career.

"I just remember that Amy was a very good kid, who like most kids in a small town are just looking for what their next step in life was going to be and she chose the military," Talerico said. "Once she got into the military, she really connected with that kind of lifestyle and was really proud to serve her country."
5369  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Legal issues: Ft. Hood, 14 Dead, Selective enforcement of federal laws on: November 12, 2009, 11:49:25 PM
14 Dead, not 13.  So many categories this could fall under... Leave it to Michelle Malkin to pick up what everyone else is ignoring, so far.

Was a crime committed (on the 14th victim)? Was a life ended?  Apart from the law and regarding the 14th, does this (in your opinion) violate Thou shalt not kill? 

"seldom mentioned is the most hidden victim — soldier Francheska Velez’s unborn baby. Velez was on maternity leave when she stopped at Ft. Hood, where she and the child she carried in her womb fell victim to Hasan’s bullet."
The Obama Justice Department will never prosecute, but raising the question provides a teachable moment:

    In the interest of true justice, Hasan should be prosecuted under the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, also known as Laci and Conner’s law, named for the pregnant woman and unborn baby who were murdered in California by Scott Peterson, the baby’s father.

    It would seem that the law applies in this case for three reasons: the act of violence was committed on federal property…the shooting was allegedly done by a member of the military…and the violence could be classified as an act of terrorism.

    …The Obama Administration has a moral obligation to press for prosecution of Hasan under the Unborn Victims of Violence Act. If such a legal path is ignored, it will demonstrate to the world that the President is caving into a pro-abortion lobby who will not recognize the legal rights of any child in the womb—even a child whose mother desperately longs to give birth.

    My father had a favorite saying which he applied to criminal and terroristic acts: “Who weeps for the victim?” Let’s hope that, in this case, the President weeps for the victim who never had a chance to see a mother’s loving face.
Here's the law:
The Unborn Victims of Violence Act of 2004 (Public Law 108-212) is a United States law which recognizes a "child in utero" as a legal victim, if he or she is injured or killed during the commission of any of over 60 listed federal crimes of violence. The law defines "child in utero" as "a member of the species Homo sapiens, at any stage of development, who is carried in the womb."[2]

The law is codified in two sections of the United States Code: Title 18, Chapter 1 (Crimes), §1841 (18 USC 1841) and Title 10, Chapter 22 (Uniform Code of Military Justice) §919a (Article 119a).

The law applies only to certain offenses over which the United States government has jurisdiction, including certain crimes committed on Federal properties, against certain Federal officials and employees, and by members of the military. In addition, it covers certain crimes that are defined by statute as federal offenses wherever they occur, no matter who commits them, such as certain crimes of terrorism.
5370  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Political Economics - Trickle Down Destruction on: November 12, 2009, 10:31:33 AM
$13 trillion of American wealth has been destroyed since San Francisco liberal congresswoman Nancy Pelosi was chosen by America to be Speaker, Minneapolis congressman Keith Ellison put his hand on the Koran to serve with her, all the committee chairmanships turned over to the likes of Barney Frank and Charlie Rangel, and young Obama moved from the minority to the majority to the White House in a successful takeover of the other branches of government.

$13 Trillion destroyed and now the U6 measure of unemployment approaches 17% and rising.

That's the good news; think where we would be without trillions in phony Keynesian stimuli and the resulting millions of jobs created or saved.  shocked sad  huh

So ... from all we have learned ... what is our political - economic policy going forward?

a) Let the 'Bush' tax cuts expire for a massive tax increase on 'the rich', the only ones capable of hiring anyone.

b) Pass a 2000 page multi-trillion dollar government expansion and control program to handcuff all Americans but especially to place more burdens and mandates on businesses, in particular those who hire and employ people.

c) Remove the cap on 'FICA' income making the tax rate on 'wealthy' go way over 50%, before state, local, double taxation, and other new taxes such as energy, and reducing social security from a supplemental insurance program to just another failed general welfare program.

d) Add $3000 per family for a new energy tax - from all that extra money you have lying around - and really go after companies that still actually do anything or produce anything in America.

e) Raise the Death Tax from zero to 55%, leaving basically no reason whatsoever for anyone who knows how to  build wealth and employ anyone to continue to do so.

f) Raise capital gains tax rates, just as our largest economic competitor is lowering tax rates.

g) Increase Government Spending at dollar and percentage levels never heard of before.

h) Instead of a 'Fair Tax' to replace the income tax, the talk now is for a federal VAT/sales tax ON TOP OF raised levels of income taxation.  Why? because they already know that the tax rate increases on the rich are just punitive and dramatic in nature and don't actually bring in more revenue, like rate decreases did.  So first you must punish the rich - who most easily can rearrange their affairs, then you still have to raise revenues.

i) Inflate the currency.  Continue to flood the market with dollars at unprecedented levels while the economy stagnates or contracts.  That is inflation, by definition.  Price increases and wealth destruction follow.  We already know that but continue to do it.

j) Generational theft.  For all talk and action about tax increases, no one even pretends they will be enough to close the gap on unfunded liabilities.  Unlike our predecessors leaving things better than ever before, the result of the above economic destruction policies, uncontrolled spending, high rates of taxation and regulation/strangulation, debt, devalued dollars and unfunded liabilities, is to leave the bills behind for our children and our children's chilren.

How is that for hope and change?   - Doug
5371  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Pathological Science on: November 11, 2009, 12:08:50 PM
"China roughly 1 billion people is installing coal plants  and doubling their capacity.  USA about 400 million people is installing solar plants and doubling their capacity at the same rate.  Look at the proportionality- the energy needs of the 400 million will be met by the solar capacity way before the same will happen with 1 billion.  Therefore there is no way that the "industrial wealthy west" will ever be able to balance off the developing countries."

The conclusion is true and exemptions make no sense, we will never 'balance off' their CO2 increases no matter our effort.  I didn't follow you on the part before that regarding solar.  I assume you are being illustrative,  but we now get roughly 0% (with rounding) of our total energy from solar.  After we double that, solar production will grow to roughly 0% of total energy requirements.

If manufacturing is made to be even more prohibitive in the west, it will continue to shift to where the restrictions don't exist.

We can dabble in solar at 15 times the cost of current electricity, we can dabble with wind at 5 times the cost of unsubsidized electricity and we can pursue other hobbyist sources.  But we still will need the energy to drive the economy unless we just accept economic failure as is the policy of the current leftist machine.

Ethanol steals farm land from our food supply.  Natural gas at the electric plant level is a complete waste because it can be piped to location eliminating the transmission loss.  Both still involve carbon release.  Also gas taken for electricity drives up the cost to heat homes and makes it less available for a transportation substitute.

New carbon-free power in any real quantity will come from nuclear, and there is about a 10 year delay to get a new plant producing.  Or it will come from some other method not yet invented, but it is more likely to get invented after we quit subsidizing known failures and crippling our economy. (MHO)
5372  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: China on: November 11, 2009, 11:36:44 AM
Between the China bulls and bears, I think the truth is somewhere in between.  There has been amazing growth but within that growth are numbers that wouldn't survive serious audit as well as a foundation built partly on a house of cards like bank loan portfolios etc.

Speaking of supply side, they actually lowered their corporate income tax rate in Jan. 2008 right while we were transitioning into Marxism.

It is actually good for the US economy to have the rest of the world strong economically.  In the case of China, my wish is for them to collapse to the point of breaking the regime, and then survive and grow as a free and strong economy that would challenge us to get our own economic house in order.  (Is that too much to ask?)
5373  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Political Economics - Stimulus failure - Must look at it both ways on: November 11, 2009, 11:27:47 AM
My initial reaction as I read the report was similar to Crafty's but not as harsh.  I couldn't think of reply lines other than sarcasm... Stimulus was poorly targeted, didn't solve the problem - no kidding...

Though it looks like a deck chair debate on a Titanic going under, I think it IS VERY important for serious studies like this one to look at the results of this nonsense and get the failed results out there for the electorate to see.

If the trillions were not targeted at the problem areas in the country, and they were not randomly dropped from an airplane - actually be a better Keynesian attempt than this one - then the funds were disbursed based on other cynical means,  political influence of the members in power and even worse, the cronyism of the unelected staffers serving the public from their extremist organizations, spreading our not-earned-yet money on the family and friends plan.

Just like Glen Beck's program to study the Czars and a trillion times more important is for investigators to follow the money trail of these people that would trivialize the term drunken sailors. 

Most closed auto dealerships had Republican ownership.  I don't know what that means or why you rebuild an industry a federal mandate to close sales and service locations, but that is a heads-up that EVERYTHING they do and every dollar they printed, borrowed and wasted needs to be scrutinized.

The corruption and cronyism might be the sword that brings this group down, but as Crafty states, the way forward is not Keynesian economic flooding and tampering, it needs to be a comprehensive system of responsible, pro-growth measures - so far not even on the table for discussion.
5374  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: American History on: November 10, 2009, 12:11:22 AM
Thank you Crafty for marking Reagan in particular for his leadership that led to the collapse of the wall.  Much as Barack and Hillary think it is all about them and others think that everyone worked toward that goal, really most didn't.  IIRC, Reagan stood up to a Democratic congress over defense spending, he stood up to massive protests in Europe for the deployment of Pershing II missiles, he stood up to the objections of both Gorbachev and his own advisers regarding SDI at Reykjavik.  And he stood up to his own speechwriters and diplomacy team regarding the command to tear down the wall.
The quote:  "There is one sign the Soviets can make that would be unmistakable, that would advance dramatically the cause of freedom and peace. General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization: Come here to this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!"

Keep in mind that the wall was in Berlin, East Germany and Mr. Gorbachev was the leader of the Soviet Union.  Reagan didn't even bother to call on East Germany to tear down the wall.   He was calling it out for what it what it was - a puppet repressive machine controlled from a distance and he was calling out his counterpart to back up his talk about openness and reform, glasnost and perestroika, with action and deed.

Here is an inside story written by the speech writer:

Watch the video again with the sad thought in mind that the current first family never found any reason to be proud of America before Barack was nominated.  sad
5375  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Government Programs, spending - We salute you, Mr. Earmarker on: November 09, 2009, 10:37:43 PM
5376  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Issues in the American Creed (Constitutional Law and related matters) on: November 09, 2009, 10:07:47 PM
Amazing and appalling that these public officials were in such a hurry to take these homes and that now, a decade later, the project will not be built.

Your home is your castle.  You are constitutionally protected against unreasonable search.  But condemnation, taking of the title and bulldozing can be done simply in the name of economic favoritism according to Anthony Kennedy siding with all the 'liberals' on the court.
5377  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Energy Politics & Science on: November 09, 2009, 09:40:10 PM
(According to a radio spoof) we really need to focus our government programs for renewable energy on areas with the best potential for large scale returns: sun, wind, perpetual motion and personal methane reclamation systems. 
5378  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security and American Freedom on: November 09, 2009, 05:38:42 PM
"Hate speech! Hate speech! Oh wait, that's Hasan and 3 of the 9/11 hijackers former imam speaking. "

13 shot and killed and dozens more shot and injured does NOT constitute a 'hate crime' under the current regime and theri new, updated thought law. Un-f*cking believable.  Think how much worse this would have been in their little minds if the victims were shot because they were black or gay, instead  because they are patriotic Americans serving their country.  It's not hate and it's not terror, because one regime can control and legislate our language.  He will not be going to Guantanamo.  Instead his free health care will be followed with free legal, endless appeals and no execution(?).  Wouldn't be surprised if a book deal and some talk shows are in the making. 
5379  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: November 09, 2009, 11:44:33 AM
"shaken to see that the house passed the Pelosi bill.  What are the prospects looking like in the Senate?"

We are at the fork in the road and the precipice of the cliff.  There are large forces pushing in at least two directions.  Dems have their own 60 possible plus an unknown number of RINOs.  If they pass anything, it goes to conference.

Whether there are any conservative Dems with a backbone remains to be seen, maybe Lieberman.  The opposing force is that we know more than 50 senators that do not represent far left states.  The polls vary greatly and they have their own polls to tell them how to survive this.

The abortion amendment was the opposite of a poison pill.  They left out increased abortion funding certain to go back in, just like they failed to address health care for illegals - sure to be provided, and they removed a few ojjections of the swing votes.  Same type of thing will happen in the senate.  The controversial aspects will be watered down just to get the vote and get the program started.

The opposition strategists need to find the wedge that kills the deal.  I'd like to see an amendment  to keep the federal government from seeing any private medical records, making government management of the system impossible, and an amendment to preclude the IRS from taking part in any enforcement mechanism.

Better than 'improving' the bill would be load it up with ALL of what the far left wants, attach a full honest price tag and then vote it up or down.  (That isn't what's going to happen.)

The worst part of having our freedoms hinge on a stand taken by L. Graham or Lieberman is that after they hold out for their demands, their demands will be met and we are headed off the cliff.
5380  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: November 08, 2009, 10:10:20 AM
"black vote was down by 20 percent; the under-30 vote by 50 percent"

Converting the vote of independents is impressive, but the no-show on an off-year of the don't-know/don't-care crowd only presents an opportunity, not a victory or even a reliable indicator IMO.
5381  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: China on: November 08, 2009, 10:01:42 AM
Rare earth and intellectual capital forge the path to 21st. century dominance."

Very interesting article, however I do not buy your conclusion.  As much as giving away precious metals didn't make sense, hoarding and keeping them from an already over-priced market does not maximize the return either IMHO.

I have looked at the quality of our economic competitors and believe the only thing stopping unimaginable prosperity in America this century is the enemy within.
5382  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Hasan: Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)? on: November 08, 2009, 09:38:04 AM
GM: "Of course, it's just second-hand PTSD."

Very funny (not massacre humor but regarding the confuddled state of media and leadership thinking).  Or as Mark Steyn put it, the first diagnosed case of Pre-Post-traumatic stress disorder.

The man is a mass murderer playing for the other team.  Only question is whether we should have known and stopped him.  At least in hindsight the answer is YES. 

Both federal and Texas laws allow execution.  Obama may be gone by then but otherwise I suspect he will pardon him or consult with jihad allies so as to not offend them and create more jihadists.  sad 
5383  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Political Rants - From 4.6% to 10.2%! Unemployment, When is enough, enough? on: November 06, 2009, 09:22:29 AM
At 10.2% unemployment as we still go full speed backwards into destruction I must say that I am sick and tired of this President and Congress blaming problems on predecessors.

The 'Age of Obama' began nationally with his speech to the Democratic Convention in 2004, after which he said privately to Harry Reid: "Harry, I have a gift".  I judge politicians by their policies, but if captivating crowds regardless of message is a gift, Adolf had it too.

Policies have consequences.

The power in Washington shifted in this week of 2006 when young Obama along with Hillary and Schumer and Barney Frank and Barbara Boxerand Pelosi and Reid were elevated to the majority.

After that time, Bush's lone effort and achievement was the surge in Iraq.  All other control of our government had shifted to congress awaiting a new liberal for the White House.

The unemployment rate when power shifted was 4.6%! while the record economic expansion finally petered out after 50 consecutive months of job growth.

(This growth was in spite of big government RINOs still holding back real private sector potential.)

Obama's team in congress has their fingerprints all over this collapse and Obama's team in campaign and transition was fully consulted and fully on board with ALL emergency measures taken between the collapse of Sept.2008 and his inauguration.

I suppose he is not really lying if he doesn't even know that it is his policies and stated agenda (screw wealth, screw the rich and dismantle free enterprise) that are causing economic under-performance and failure.
5384  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Homeland Security, Ft.Hood Massacre on: November 06, 2009, 08:48:54 AM
It is okay to be Muslim - or Jewish or Hamish or Atheist.  It is NOT okay to be pulling for the other team.  Tolerance for free speech is one thing but IMO we don't give power or paychecks to people who express that Americans deserved attack. Facts of this will sort out over time but it doesn't help the clarity in the armed forces that the Commander in Chief worshipped with a Reverend who expressed similar views and politicked with a group that called our general "Betray Us".
5385  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Venezuela on: November 05, 2009, 12:08:40 PM
Denny, that was all very helpful.  Besides the bay bridge issues, I was thinking of New Orleans and Katrina, and we had a bridge collapse here with design failure, I-35 Mpls that I drove over twice the day it fell.  For 'safety' our highway dept had an automatic spraying system of corrosive salts onto under-designed gusset plates.  (Soon they will also run health care.)  So it is very fair to say public infrastructure problems are not unique to Chavez, but also fair to note that in all his power and wealth confiscation he did not successfully address the most obvious, crucial, 380 year old problem during his time.

I live where water is plentiful, but heat required to live here year round is threatened by a government that simultaneously thwarts nuclear energy while declaring all other real sources a pollutant.

5386  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: jobs created or saved on: November 05, 2009, 11:48:20 AM
"Obama's accountants are beginning to look like a long line of mathematicians getting out of a clown car. . ."

When they cleverly invented that turn of phrase, created or saved, we were put on notice that there would be no real accounting for the results of the trillions and that they already knew there may be no net job creation whatsoever in the private sector.

If the purpose of the public investment is to jump-start the PRIVATE economy, the only job creation that count are new, real jobs in the private sector that stand on their own AFTER the stimulus is done.

At this point it will take hope, change and a conservative takeover of the government to get that number back up to ZERO.
5387  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Energy Politics & Science on: November 05, 2009, 10:32:46 AM
BBG: "Wouldn't it be amusing if our current, misguided energy policy left us on top of huge reserves we could charge high prices for down the line?"

Very possible.  Ironic is the fact that the forbidden cheap energy around us is one of the forces preventing the move to the next solution (that will save the planet).  Artificial regulations force prices up but people can still see the low hanging fruit.  Why would people freely pay 15X for solar when clean coal is abundant, for example.

When the easy to access oil gets used up and the easy to access natural gas starts getting depleted, then market innovations of necessity will happen - if you believe in all that freedom and capitalism nonsense that made us the wealthiest civilization in history.
5388  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / States Rights: Secession, Opting Out ?? on: November 05, 2009, 10:22:52 AM
"If the people of a state vote to leave the Union then so be it."

(Skipping past slavery, I think GM makes good points there, and just looking at the question for today or tomorrow.)

I don't know exactly what I think about the right to secede but what a great question it opens.  I remember that slam against Alaska politicians.  Anyone conservative in Alaska wasn't more than 1 person removed from someone who had contemplated secession.   Except for national defense, could Alaskans stand on their own?  They could adopt the same constitution - and then UPHOLD it.  Maybe they would even be rich enough to purchase adequate defense.  Texans have a movement.  I see both as mainly talk, and a reminder to federal powers in Washington that there are limits to how far people will be pushed.  Except for occasional wacko groups, we don't really see serious separatist militias forming.

Today we stomp on the constitution and founding principles, still I believe we can swing the pendulum back in the other direction with articulation, persuasion and voting.  With every day and every new entitlement and dependent American created, that becomes less and less possible.  What if we can't ever return to limited government and founding principles?.  Do we have to live in their tyranny forever or can free people 'opt out'?
A microcosm of it in a local issue, we have the same problem with our county.  Minnesota is an average sized state with 87 counties, but one county is nearly one half the state population and economy.  Our county in those terms is larger than 8 states.  Remove the City of Minneapolis from our county and it is still bigger than several states.  It is run from the central city where the richer outer suburbs pay for the problems of the otherwise bankrupt inner city - everything from free everything for illegals to a new baseball stadiums for the business class.  Under this rule, they don't need state votes for controversial issues.  For illustration, my property taxes are 20 times higher here than for my house in Colorado, equal setting and condition, same square footage.  In order to opt out, the payers would need the support of the people assessing and receiving the money which can never happen.  I have brought this up to county commissioners even in the most conservative areas and only been laughed at.  Why can't our city or region secede from our county?  Besides the problem of the feds taking all powers not theirs, I have no right to local government.
5389  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Venezuela, water rationing on: November 04, 2009, 10:49:36 PM
Amazing photos, Denny.  I wondered what part of this is natural disaster - drought - and what part is failed public leadership.  My thought is that poor countries often lack safe drinking water, but Venezuela is/was oil rich in a time of record oil prices.  If they did not build sufficient water infrastructure with their confiscated wealth, whether it should have been more reservoirs, rain capturing, purification, pipelines or desalination, then it was human failure. 

FYI for Chavez, swimming pools do not actually destroy water, nor do showers or toilets.

Al Gore has a company with waterless urinals.  Chavez could look into that.  Maybe their mutual friend Obama could hook them up. 

Obama in this situation would blame it on Bush, but Chavez with his endless term-stretching has no predecessor to blame anymore.
5390  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: November 03, 2009, 01:14:29 PM
BBG,  Interesting piece.  In the abortion debate, everything was about total privacy between woman and her doctor.  Same folks now have no qualm about opening everything else to do with your health care decisions up to the bureaucrats, policy makers and even the IRS. Third party pay means third party decision making - mandated.  This crowd isn't curious if their bill is constitutional; remaking the court and the meaning of that 'outdated' document is next on their agenda.

CCP, Thanks always for insights from the inside.  I agree that pretending to quantify frivolous lawsuits or unnecessary tests in the aggregate isn't going to give you good numbers - just like measuring jobs created or saved.  Is a one in a hundred or one in a million test worth it and at what cost?  All you really can do is judge it intuitively and anecdotally, compare it with other risks we take on like putting the car on the road in difficult conditions, or martial arts, sports, etc. and keep the decision with the person who has to live with it, both cost and consequence.   I don't want or need anyone from DMV there when I consider difficult choices with my doctor.

Seems to me that without malpractice lawsuits, you can still have doctors by the short hairs with licensing.  If their practices are not up to snuff, if their errors are excessive, if their procedures are sloppy, etc. the state can investigate and pull their license.  That I assume is a multimillion dollar penalty and then some.  I know of a situation right now that involves state licensing but not an MD - one bogus complaint in a half century of practice and everything is under review.

If there is a shortage of doctors, it is a managed or contrived shortage.  Seem to me that medical schools do everything they can to keep people who want to be doctors out.  In most cases, thank goodness, but I'm sure plenty of capable and competent applicants get turned away.  The Hillary-Obama-socialist view is that more doctors mean more pay and cost, so we need to get by with fewer.  In a market based world, more supply to keep up with demand is what keeps the cost per visit or procedure down and affordable.  If drought causes food prices to go up, and oil shortage or refinery outages shoots gas prices go up, why would an adequate supply of available doctors and specialists cause a higher cost to the patient (if there was any semblance of a market in place)? 
5391  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Venezuela - water rationing on: November 03, 2009, 10:34:29 AM
This could have gone in the water thread but looked to me like it exposes more weaknesses of the ruler and his governing competence.  I thought that under fascism-socialism you give up your freedoms but the trains run on time.  Solution is easy - ration service, blame the rich.  Sounds familiar.  Speaking of rich, I wonder if the Presidential 'Palace' has its water service rationed...

Water rationing for Venezuela's capital city
Nov 2 02:13 PM US/Eastern

Residents Face Cuts in Water Service for as Much as 48 Hours per Week

Residents of the Venezuelan capital face cuts in water service for as much as 48 hours per week, after the government imposed rationing to stem a 25 percent shortfall in the city's supply, officials said Monday.

Officials said cuts in water service were to be staggered throughout Caracas through the duration of the current dry season, which is not expected to end until May 2010.

Weather forecasters blame the "El Nino" weather phenomenon, saying the periodic weather system has markedly reduced rainfall and created drought conditions.

Others blame the shortage on poor government management of the country's water resources, while President Hugo Chavez faulted the excesses of capitalism.

"What will the rich fill their swimming pools with?" the country's leftist leader asked recently.

"With the water that is denied inhabitants in the poor neighborhoods," he said, blaming the lack of sufficient water on "capitalism -- a lack of feeling, a lack of humanity."

The government recently created a ministry of electricity to help conserve the use of power, which also is in short supply.

Officials also urged the public to employ better conservation practices, like shorter showers and the use of less water when brushing teeth.
5392  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The "Costs" of Medical Care on: November 03, 2009, 10:22:15 AM
November 3, 2009
The "Costs" of Medical Care
By Thomas Sowell

We are incessantly being told that the cost of medical care is "too high"-- either absolutely or as a growing percentage of our incomes. But nothing that is being proposed by the government is likely to lower those costs, and much that is being proposed is almost certain to increase the costs.

There is a fundamental difference between reducing costs and simply shifting costs around, like a pea in a shell game at a carnival. Costs are not reduced simply because you pay less at a doctor's office and more in taxes-- or more in insurance premiums, or more in higher prices for other goods and services that you buy, because the government has put the costs on businesses that pass those costs on to you.

Costs are not reduced simply because you don't pay them. It would undoubtedly be cheaper for me to do without the medications that keep me alive and more vigorous in my old age than people of a similar age were in generations past.

Letting old people die would undoubtedly be cheaper than keeping them alive-- but that does not mean that the costs have gone down. It just means that we refuse to pay the costs. Instead, we pay the consequences. There is no free lunch.

Providing free lunches to people who go to hospital emergency rooms is one of the reasons for the current high costs of medical care for others. Politicians mandating what insurance companies must cover is another free lunch that leads to higher premiums for medical insurance-- and fewer people who can afford it.

Despite all the demonizing of insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies or doctors for what they charge, the fundamental costs of goods and services are the costs of producing them.

If highly paid chief executives of insurance companies or pharmaceutical companies agreed to work free of charge, it would make very little difference in the cost of insurance or medications. If doctors' incomes were cut in half, that would not lower the cost of producing doctors through years of expensive training in medical schools and hospitals, nor the overhead costs of running doctors' offices.

What it would do is reduce the number of very able people who are willing to take on the high costs of a medical education when the return on that investment is greatly reduced and the aggravations of dealing with government bureaucrats are added to the burdens of the work.

Britain has had a government-run medical system for more than half a century and it has to import doctors, including some from Third World countries where the medical training may not be the best. In short, reducing doctors' income is not reducing the cost of medical care, it is refusing to pay those costs. Like other ways of refusing to pay costs, it has consequences.

Any one of us can reduce medical costs by refusing to pay them. In our own lives, we recognize the consequences. But when someone with a gift for rhetoric tells us that the government can reduce the costs without consequences, we are ready to believe in such political miracles.

There are some ways in which the real costs of medical care can be reduced but the people who are leading the charge for a government takeover of medical care are not the least bit interested in actually reducing those costs, as distinguished from shifting the costs around or just refusing to pay them.

The high costs of "defensive medicine"-- expensive tests, medications and procedures required to protect doctors and hospitals from ruinous lawsuits, rather than to help the patients-- could be reduced by not letting lawyers get away with filing frivolous lawsuits.

If a court of law determines that the claims made in such lawsuits are bogus, then those who filed those claims could be forced to reimburse those who have been sued for all their expenses, including their attorneys' fees and the lost time of people who have other things to do. But politicians who get huge campaign contributions from lawyers are not about to pass laws to do this.

Why should they, when it is so much easier just to start a political stampede with fiery rhetoric and glittering promises?
5393  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Health Care Control, word search: "Shall" = 3,424 times, is there a new G_d?? on: November 01, 2009, 01:12:39 PM
Link to the mis-named house bill 'Affordable Health Care for America Act' of October 29, 2009

Just a note to remember as you read the 2000 pages, the poor in America already have free health care, totally free.  Without any thanks, YOU are already paying for it. 

This bill is about the CONTROL of the rest of the health care system - toward COERCION and away from personal responsibility and market choices.

If you have a doubt, please word search the coercive proclamation "Shall" and you will find it 3,424 times! The framers used the word shall to organize the government, there shall be 2 senators from each state etc. and for what the government 'shall not' do, such as congress 'shall not' pass any law infringing on free speech or right to bear arms, or so it says.  This bill states what 'shall' be more than 3000 times more than does the U.S. Constitution.

From my count, God only needed the word 'Shall' 8 times in the Ten Commandments to guide our behavior as humans.

Maybe that answers the obvious question about this political machine, who do they think they are?
5394  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Palin phenomenon, an update on: November 01, 2009, 12:37:06 PM
I already posted that I thought she was the wrong choice for McCain's VP running mate mostly because it mooted the main weakness of Obama, his lack of experience and readiness for President and Commander in Chief.  She showed areas of weakness while being blindsided by the national media but also held her own both in terms of campaign excitement and in debating Washington-insider Joe Biden.

Palin is an intuitive conservative, one who knows big government isn't the answer for everything without having read every VDH column or Heritage study.  That said, in the first post of this thread I posted a C-SPAN link to the Alaska gubernatorial debate in which she was articulate, poised, principled and extremely knowledgeable on all the state issues that came up.

To move forward, as others have said, she will need to get fully up to speed on all national issues and make another first impression if that's possible with moderates and independents in the country.  Conservatives and liberals have already made up their minds about her, unchangeably.

Besides coming out with a book to tell her side of the campaign story and whatever else, she is taking stands on issues and on candidates for the direction for the party, like it or not.  Congressional District NY-23 is the hot spot of the moment.  She came out early for the cause of conservatism and against the party.  That stand is looking better all the time.

This piece contrasts her with Newt.  At the alienating those here who are fans of Newt (including me), his very successful contract with America was very poll-based, his experience is congressional not executive and his reforms were not lasting.  His support of Cap and trade (some other version), like Mitt Romney's past support for govt health care, works to blur the lines and weaken the arguments of the day IMO.  - Doug

Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich: The Visionary and the Hack
By Claude Sandroff
Two weeks after Sarah Palin's unique exit from public office, Newt Gingrich offered up some unsolicited counsel for the former governor in an interview with POLITICO. Apparently, Newt was certain that Palin's reputation needed serious burnishing, and he was all too ready to provide it by offering substantial details on the range and style of speeches that would be most appropriate for Palin to deliver to various audiences in order to sustain a public revival.  Exactly why he felt she needed his help remains a bit of a mystery, except that Gingrich, like Karl Rove, seems absolutely certain that the world is always on edge awaiting his next tactical stroke of genius.

Now that an intense internecine battle is raging over how Republicans should react to Doug Hoffman's Conservative Party bid for New York's 23rd , one thing is certain: it is Newt whose reputation is in shambles, and it is he who should seek political advice from Palin as to how he might regain his lost stature. And this will remain true whether Mr. Hoffman wins or loses.

By unconditionally supporting the Republican machine candidate Dede Scozzafava -- one of the most liberal candidates ever offered by the party in any race -- Newt has forfeited any remnant of respect he might have retained as the standard-bearer of the conservative congressional revolution of 1994.

Scozzafava supports the same extreme political positions (card-check, Obama stimulus) as any adolescent left-wing blogger. She maintains deep alliances with the most radical and odious groups (Acorn, Working Family Party) associated with the Democratic Party. By standing with her, Newt Gingrich has earned that dreaded label he once affixed to Nancy Pelosi. Newt has become a partisan and trivial politician. He has become a common hack.

In contrast, Sarah Palin just compiles conservative esteem. When she railed against the compromised Republican machine in its support of Scozzafava, it felt like a stiff, clean, purifying breeze. In her October 24th Facebook Note announcing her support for Hoffman, Palin argued with deep philosophical references to conservative ideals. Her support and conviction were not products of a focus group.  The note moved many a radio talk show host who read it aloud, from Mark Levin to Tammy Bruce. It was the reasoned stance of a visionary.

Palin evoked Ronald Reagan, mentioned the importance of establishing sharp contrasts with opponents, and stressed the primacy of principle over party. Palin continues to be the antithesis of the trivial politician.  She has that unique ability to convey the highest sense of personal honor without ever projecting any of the usual political pomposity. Perhaps the highest compliment we can pay Palin is that she is always interesting and always surprising.

This is the reason so many political junkies from the right and left have undisclosed part-time jobs as Palin observers. You can never get enough of authenticity. Near the end of her farewell speech, Palin promised that by removing the confining yoke of office she'd be able "to work even harder for you. For what is right. And for truth."

What she meant by those almost biblical cadences wasn't clear then, but now it is coming into focus. And what is most stunning is that she is attaining her goals not by speaking in front of audiences, but through her writing. We all know how mesmerizing she is on the stump. But none of us had any idea that she was a gifted prose stylist: succinct, witty, and memorable.

But she has chosen Facebook, not YouTube, as her preferred mode of communication, at least for now. And over and over again, she has proven highly effective and influential, whether discussing health care, energy, China policy, defense, or congressional elections.

It's an effectiveness gained through focus, a focus that we can only hope other politicians begin to emulate. Free markets, individual liberty, small government, strong national defense, and low taxes are the constant themes she invokes. Along with those values, she makes constant mention of the two political giants of the 20th century who embodied them, championed them, and communicated them tirelessly: Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher.

While pundit after pundit argues that we should throw Reagan over the side in pursuit of Obama-lite, Palin is bringing us back to the principled, universal roots that Reagan shared with the Founders. While many columnists anguish over immoderate candidates, Palin warns against "blurring the lines" and writes a Facebook birthday tribute to Margaret Thatcher.

A recent Gallup poll shows that in America, conservatives outnumber liberals by two to one. We know from history that conservatives can win landslide elections. But conservatives need to be confident to be resurgent. None of us knows what Sarah Palin has in mind for 2012 and beyond. But if she is the force that helped us regain the confidence of our convictions, then she will have given us a gift beyond repayment.
5395  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Liberalism, progressivism, Marxism, fascism vs. moderate Democrats on: November 01, 2009, 11:59:16 AM
I would like to see a moderate Democrat, maybe even someone who hasn't posted anything political on the board yet, start a discussion thread regarding 'the way forward for moderate Democrats'.  I am not a moderate Dem so it won't be me, but there must be people out there who are Democrats in a more conventional sense, that resent the takeover of their party from the extreme left but are not inclined to join conservatives or Republicans.  Just a thought.
5396  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Way Forward for Conservatives, comments with encouraging polling data on: November 01, 2009, 10:30:47 AM
Republican is a brand name that is supposed to be larger than its conservative base to include moderates that share some of the philosophy (and  oppose Democrats).  There is always a struggle between factions in the party of whether to choose candidates with core conservative principles or to choose more centrist, compromising candidates for electability by appealing to moderates, independents and conservative Democrats.  In spite of media hype and conventional wisdom to the contrary, the centrists generally dominate, at least once they are elected,  because they know the more conservative base has nowhere else to turn while moderates can cross over any time they choose.

Another strategy would be for the candidate to have clear principles, limited government etc, and set a contrast with the opponent, then try to persuade voters in the middle why this philosophy is a better course.  There is always a risk that the opponent will move to the middle, but in this environment, with Pelosi-Obama and the Czars, that doesn't look like the case.

Individual Democrat incumbents and candidates for congress and senate make their own cases for independence and moderation especially in conservative districts and red states but their defining vote is really the first one when they decide on the leadership and who will control the committees.

Strange that with all the negative polling of the Pelosi congress, the generic ballot of the two parties is pretty even.  Real Clear Politics average of polls gives Dems about a 5 point edge consistently, but they are averaging polls that count anyone who answers the phone with other polls that attempt to measure likely or registered voters and get very different results.

Adding confusion to it all is that no one really knows what the tarnished brand name Republican means today.  In 2006 and 2008 it probably meant something akin to how well do you like the scorned President George W. Bush who was unable to communicate and all over the map with his stands on different issues from taxes, spending, deficits, entitlements, immigration, war, security, etc. and a congress that increased spending faster than anyone imagined possible.

What it most interesting today is that the 'conservative' brand name has never been better.  Take a look at this Gallup poll:

There was only a slight surge in liberalism during the elections of the Pelosi congress and the Obama adminstration and a great surge in conservatism now.  Latest numbers have Conservatives at 40%, Moderates at 36% and Liberals at 20%. 

Rasmussen has likely voters choosing more trust in Republicans over Democrats on ALL of the top ten issues in the country (story follows). 

It should NOT be a long shot or impossible task to paint this congress and this administration as too liberal/socialist for the nation and to form a winning coalition with some kind of consensus on some other way of governing this great country.   - Doug

Trust on Issues
Voters Trust Republicans More On 10 Top Issues

For the first time in recent years, voters trust Republicans more than Democrats on all 10 key electoral issues regularly tracked by Rasmussen Reports. The GOP holds double-digit advantages on five of them.

Republicans have nearly doubled their lead over Democrats on economic issues to 49% to 35%, after leading by eight points in September.

The GOP also holds a 54% to 31% advantage on national security issues and a 50% to 31% lead on the handling of the war in Iraq.

But voters are less sure which party they trust more to handle government ethics and corruption, an issue that passed the economy in voter importance last month. Thirty-three percent (33%) trust Republicans more while 29% have more confidence in Democrats. Another 38% are undecided. Last month, the parties were virtually tied on the issue.

(Want a free daily e-mail update? If it's in the news, it's in our polls). Rasmussen Reports updates are also available on Twitter or Facebook.

A recent Rasmussen Reports video report finds that voters are more disappointed lately with Obama’s performance in dealing with corruption in Washington.

Among unaffiliated voters who see ethics as the most important issue, 26% trust the GOP more while 23% trust Democrats more. Most (51%) are not sure which party they trust.

On the highly contentious issue of health care, voters now give the edge to Republicans 46% to 40%. The parties tied on the issue last month, after Republicans took the lead on it for the first time in August.

Separate polling released today shows 49% of voters nationwide say that passing no health care reform bill this year would be better than passing the plan currently working its way through Congress. Most voters (54%) oppose the health care reform plan proposed by the president and congressional Democrats, but 42% are in favor of it.

On taxes, Republicans are now ahead of Democrats 50% to 35%, nearly doubling their September lead on the issue. Prior to July, the percentage of voters who trusted the GOP more on taxes never reached 50%. It has done so three times since then.

Thirty-eight percent (38%) of voters say cutting the federal budget deficit in half in the next four years should be the Obama administration's top priority, while 23% say health care reform is most important.

Republicans are down to a seven-point lead on immigration after enjoying a 13-point advantage last month. Recent polling shows that 56% think the policies of the federal government encourage people to enter the United States illegally.

Voters trust Republicans more on Social Security by a 45% to 37% margin, after the GOP trailed Democrats by two points on the issue in the last survey.

The president is proposing a one-time $250 payment to seniors who for the first time in years won't be getting a cost of living increase in their Social Security checks because inflation's down. While half of voters support this idea, they are more skeptical when told how much it will cost.

Republicans lead on the issue of education 43% to 38%. Last month Democrats had a five-point lead.

Voters also trust Republicans more on the handling of abortion 47% to 35%.

The GOP advantage over Democrats increased from two points to five in the latest edition of the Generic Congressional Ballot. Forty-two percent (42%) would vote for their district’s Republican congressional candidate while 37% would opt for his or her Democratic opponent.

But 73% of GOP voters nationwide think Republicans in Congress have lost touch with their voting base.
5397  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Government Programs: 10 Stimulus Projects To Remember, Where in the C. ?? on: October 31, 2009, 11:09:29 PM
Snowmaking in Duluth, and I wonder if you have to melt down your Lexus to get the golf cart credit (you don't).  My personal favorite has got to be no. 3. $219k to study the sex lives of female college freshmen.  I know people who would do that thankless work for nothing - for the good of the country.

Where in the C (Constitution) is the federal authority to build baseball training parks in 2 cities, to neuter in Wichita, to make snow in Duluth, to see if the girls are getting any?  Seriously, this stuff isn't funny.
10 Stimulus Projects To Remember
Mapping Rabbit Feces, Studying Facebook, And Building MLB Spring Training Facilities Are All Financed By The American Taxpayer

    “A Week Mapping Radioactive Rabbit Feces With Detectors Mounted On A Helicopter Flying 50 Feet Over The Desert Scrub. … $300,000 In Federal Stimulus Money.” “A government contractor at Hanford, in south-central Washington State, just spent a week mapping radioactive rabbit feces with detectors mounted on a helicopter flying 50 feet over the desert scrub. … the helicopter flights, which covered 13.7 square miles and were paid for with $300,000 in federal stimulus money, took place in an area that had never been used by the bomb makers. … Marylia Kelley, the executive director of a California group called Tri-Valley Communities Against a Radioactive Environment, said the rabbit cleanup was ‘kind of funny, in a sick way.’” (“Even Rabbit Droppings Count In Nuclear Cleanup,” The New York Times, 10/14/09)

    “President Obama’s Stimulus Plan… Is Now Paying Americans To Buy That Great Necessity Of Modern Life, The Golf Cart.” “Thanks to the federal tax credit to buy high-mileage cars that was part of President Obama's stimulus plan, Uncle Sam is now paying Americans to buy that great necessity of modern life, the golf cart. The federal credit provides from $4,200 to $5,500 for the purchase of an electric vehicle, and when it is combined with similar incentive plans in many states the tax credits can pay for nearly the entire cost of a golf cart.” (“Cash For Clubbers,” The Wall Street Journal, 10/17/09)

     “Five Hundred Syracuse University Freshmen Will Divulge The Details Of Their Sex Lives … $219,000 In Stimulus Funds For The Study.” “Five hundred Syracuse University freshmen will divulge the details of their sex lives as part of a women's health study called ‘The Women's Health Project,’ being conducted by Michael Carey, SU professor of psychology and medicine. Carey has found himself the target of nationwide criticism from conservatives since he received $219,000 in stimulus funds for the study, which looks at the sex patterns of college women.” (“SU Sex Study Raises Concern,” The [Syracuse] Daily Orange, 9/8/09)

    “Sunset Boulevard, Also Known As ‘The Sunset Strip’ And One Of The Most Famous Streets In The World, Will Be Getting A $7 Million Facelift After More Than 75 Years Of Use, With A Free Million Dollar Nose Job Coming From Uncle Sam. The City of West Hollywood Council received one million dollars in federal funds from the Federal American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA), (otherwise known as the $700 billion federal stimulus package), for the long-planned Sunset Strip Beautification Project, which is scheduled to break ground soon. The guaranteed funding will allow the City to increase the already nearly $7 million budgeted for this project by an additional $1,105,000, meaning enhancements to a project that already included the resurfacing of the roadway, sidewalk and improved landscaping.” (“Feds Stimulus Sunset Strip Beautification Project,” WeHoNews, 9/28/09)

    “$2.3 Million” “Federal Economic Stimulus Cash” For “Rearing Large Numbers Of Arthropods” Such As “Nasty Invasive Insects Like The Asian Longhorned Beetle, The Nun Moth, And The Infamous ‘Predator Of The Hemlock,’ The Woolly Adelgid.” “‘Rearing large numbers of arthropods’ probably isn't the first thing that comes to mind when you think about using Connecticut's $3 billion in federal economic stimulus cash. But the U.S. Forest Service is using part of the $2.3 million it's spending here to fix up a quarantine research facility in Ansonia. (The arthropods, by the way, are nasty invasive insects like the Asian longhorned beetle, the nun moth, and the infamous ‘predator of the hemlock,’ the woolly adelgid.)” (“Money For Nothing,” New Haven Advocate, 9/1/09)

    “The Other Third Of The Stimulus, Government Infrastructure Spending, Has Been The Most Controversial From The Start. Some Proposals Have Been Criticized As Wasteful, Such As A $6 Million Snowmaking Facility In Duluth, Minn.” (“The Challenge In Counting Stimulus Returns,” The Wall Street Journal, 10/27/09)  (Top 101 Cities With The Highest Average Snowfall In A Year (Population 50,000+))

    “A $498,000, Three-Year Grant” To Study “Social Networks Like Facebook.” “Millions of Internet users have been enjoying the fun -- and free -- services provided by advertiser-supported online social networks like Facebook. But Landon Cox, a Duke University assistant professor of computer science, worries about the possible down side -- privacy problems. … To delve deeper into these issues and begin the search for alternatives, Cox recently won a $498,000, three-year grant from the National Science Foundation. The funding is part of the federal stimulus package called the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA).” (“Seeking Privacy In The Clouds: Research Aims At Isolating Social Network Information From ‘Control Of A Central Entity,’” Science Daily, 10/15/09)

    “The City Recently Launched A $55,000 Project To Spay And Neuter Pets Owned By Low-Income Residents. Unwanted Pets Ultimately Cost $240 Apiece To Collect, Board And Euthanize, the city estimates, so the program covering 800 animals should save taxpayers money in the long run. The stimulative effect? That is harder to gauge. With the $380,000 overall Wichita has received from its share of the stimulus, the city estimates that it is directly funding 32 jobs so far. The bigger job producers, such as construction and transit projects, are due to start in the coming months.” (“The Challenge In Counting Stimulus Returns,” The Wall Street Journal, 10/27/09)

    “The Other Third Of The Stimulus, Government Infrastructure Spending, Has Been The Most Controversial From The Start. Some Proposals Have Been Criticized As Wasteful, Such As … A $3.4 Million ‘Ecopassage’ To Help Turtles Cross A Highway In Tallahassee, Fla.” (“The Challenge In Counting Stimulus Returns,” The Wall Street Journal, 10/27/09)

    “A Big Chunk Of The Money That Will Pay For A New Spring-Training Baseball Complex On Tribal Land In The East Valley Will Be Delivered Via A Financing Program That's Part Of The Federal Economic-Stimulus Plan. The Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community says it may borrow as much as $30 million of the estimated cost of the $100 million complex near Scottsdale that will become the spring home of the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Colorado Rockies.” (“Stimulus To Help Tribe Build Baseball Complex,” The Arizona Republic, 9/17/09)

5398  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants on: October 30, 2009, 10:58:51 PM
BBG,  Nice piece!  I would sell that one to their conservative competitors if they don't want it - Wash Times, DC Examiner, Townhall or even Real Clear Politics.

I don't think you would have liked having their editors cut through your work.  I wrote a counterpoint published by the Mpls paper alongside their endorsement of a young Bill Clinton in 1992.  They cut out one paragraph probably because they didn't understand the significance of it but it destroyed the meaning and originality of the entire piece from my point of view.  I had a couple of other run-ins with them and then started writing - no changes without permission - on my work.  They never published anything I wrote again.
5399  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / re. Cash for Clunkers on: October 30, 2009, 10:43:04 PM
If the average cost to the taxpayer for the credit was 24k and the average cost of the car was 24k, one would think they could have just given away the cars they want us to drive.

Of course they couldn't.  It would have cost the government over 96k to give away 24k.  It isn't as easy as it looks.  These are professionals; don't even think of trying it at home.
5400  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Do They Need the Public Option? on: October 30, 2009, 10:36:59 PM
"you can force insurance companies to "cover" preexisting conditions, but the resulting product is not insurance. You cannot insure against something that has already happened. It is merely a bill-paying mechanism."   
 Do They Need the Public Option?
October 30, 2009 John Hinderacker,

Much discussion of the House Democrats' health care bill has focused on its inclusion of the "public option," which most observers see as a Trojan Horse intended to serve, ultimately, as the vehicle for socialized medicine as private insurers are driven from the market--a process that President Obama has said may take ten to twenty years.

What strikes me as I read the House bill, however, is how closely it approximates socialized medicine even without the public option. The bill is classic national socialist legislation, in that it takes ostensibly private entities, the health insurance companies, and perverts them into instruments of the state, run top-down and barred from competing among themselves.

Under the House bill private health insurance companies will still exist, but to what end? They will be legally prohibited from competing in any meaningful sense. They will be required to issue substantially the same coverages at substantially the same rates, changes in which must be justified to the government. They will be prohibited from underwriting insurance risks in any rational way: they must pay all bills resulting from preexisting conditions, and they will be prohibited from charging lower-risk customers lower rates.

As I wrote here, you can force insurance companies to "cover" preexisting conditions, but the resulting product is not insurance. You cannot insure against something that has already happened. It is merely a bill-paying mechanism. Likewise, the House bill prohibits insurance companies from charging premiums on any rational basis. Section 213, titled "Insurance Rating Rules," provides:

    The premium rate charged for a qualified health benefits plan that is health insurance coverage may not vary except as follows:

    (1) LIMITED AGE VARIATION PERMITTED.--By age (within such age categories as the Commissioner shall specify) so long as the ratio of the highest such premium to the lowest such premium does not exceed the ratio of 2 to 1.

So young people--who, remember, will now be forced to buy health insurance--will subsidize older people.

    (2) BY AREA.--By premium rating area (as permitted by State insurance regulators or, in the case of Exchange-participating health benefits plans, as specified by the Commissioner in consultation with such regulators).

    (3) BY FAMILY ENROLLMENT.--By family enrollment (such as variations within categories and compositions of families) so long as the ratio of the premium for family enrollment (or enrollments) to the premium for individual enrollment is uniform, as specified under State law and consistent with rules of the Commissioner.

That's it. A lower premium for non-smokers or the non-obese? Forget about it. It's illegal.

Under the House bill, it is scarcely an exaggeration to say that health insurance companies are no longer in the insurance business. They can't rate and underwrite risks, which is the essence of insurance. That's illegal. They can't decide to whom they will issue policies; that's illegal, too. They can't offer novel or innovative coverages; their coverages are dictated by law. To a limited extent they can make decisions on paying claims, but under the watchful eye of government regulators. Meaningful competition among insurance companies will be, in effect, illegal. (In that context, it is a sick joke that the Pelosi bill also subjects health insurance companies to the antitrust laws, from which they had been exempted in consideration of their regulation by state, not federal, authorities.)

In the world that the House bill would create, the money we will pay to insurance companies won't really be insurance premiums. Insurance premiums are contractual payments which the parties voluntarily agree upon and which are based on a mutual assessment of risk. Rather, the checks we write to insurance companies will be taxes--legally compelled, at rates set by the federal government that are designed to punish some and subsidize others.

Isn't this socialized medicine in all but name? The only difference, perhaps, is that when things start to go badly, as they inevitably will--spiraling costs, long waits for treatment--Nancy Pelosi and her colleagues will have someone to blame: the insurance companies. Maybe old-fashioned socialized medicine would be better. Then, at least, the government would have to take responsibility for its folly.
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