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5451  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: April 28, 2009, 06:24:19 PM
""Barack Obama is the second most reviled newbie president of the last forty years."

I also love numbers but took that headline to mean the second highest strong-disapprovals in 40 years which the approval numbers posted do not refute.
5452  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Interrogation methods on: April 24, 2009, 04:04:34 PM
Quoting GM:  "3. Terrorists that operate outside the laws of war get no protections of any kind. We teach them fear."

Even under the GM doctrine, we are still limited by our own sense of decency and by the context of the situation.  With the beheading videos of Daniel Pearl in mind, the images of people jumping from the towers, and airline passengers crashing into the Pentagon and the struggle above Pennsylvania that ended all dead in the ground, I would like to see if these photos show more than inmates in underwear or water tricks.  I'll bet no one lost an ear, much less got beheaded, dropped from the sky or burnt to death.

For comparison, I would like to see a complete list of all punishments and lost appendages due to criminal sanctions from Islamic governments during the same time frame, such as stoned to death for fraternizing with your rapist.  Let's see who is barbaric and who is trying to protect peace and freedom.  And let's see if Obama prefaces his remarks by saying this isn't nearly as brutal as what is already happening everyday in these terrorists' own home countries.
5453  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Interrogation methods on: April 22, 2009, 08:26:20 AM
I don't like picking on Strat, but...

"Former Vice President Dick Cheney has claimed that their use helped prevent a terrorist attack, though details and evidence of that are scarce."

According to Cheney, the details are not scarce, they are still classified and he called for that information to be declassified so that methods can be seen in that context.
5454  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: April 22, 2009, 08:09:53 AM
"The are way less capital intensive options than fiber optic cable and  there is a lot of work being done currently  that is not based  on fiber optic cables"

Your post came through over fiber cables (and that required a huge capital investment).  All google searches and facebook postings run over fiber optic cable as well.  I'm not sure what you refer to.
 
"Capital investments are certainly important and I would not like to see it shrink..."  Yet we elected people committed to punishing investment returns and demonizing capitalists - the rich aren't paying their share, aren't doing their patriotic duty, we can tax just the 2% - not us and get free health care, etc.

"...but there is a lot of future growth that does not require a lot of capital investments. Our world  is increasing digitized which usually means lower capital costs.  Creating Aps for smart phones is being called the next gold rush. It requires very little capital investment."

I think many apps written free by users will likely end up as freeware/shareware, not economic growth.  Software engineering is extremely capital intensive.  I would put time available of software engineers ahead of copper as the truly scarce resource of this economy.  Iphone apps are of no value without the enormous sunken investment of the 3G networks and enormous capital investment still required for the so-called 4G. 

"Google and Facebook did not start with large amount of capital investments.  Cloud Computing (  Computer technology becoming a Utility )   is reducing costs for starting new businesses."

Maybe you refer to Google as an idea or as a search patent, but google as a money making enterprise requires hundreds of thousands of servers using enormous amounts of electricity.  In spite of their 'going green' campaign, the energy they consume is mostly from fossil fuels.

Cloud computing like using salesforce.com is extremely expensive IMO.  It is like lease versus purchase of your information systems.  Startups still need the capital to pay these services and all their other expenses until their own revenues begin to cover.  Punishing capital lessens the likelihood of more success stories like the ones you cite.

The political argument is not for or against new innovations, it is IMO about central planning and control versus a more free economy. 
5455  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Energy Politics, Peter Huber - Part 2 on: April 20, 2009, 11:06:36 AM
Sorry it didn't fit in one post.  This is very important information.  Please read the previous post first although the first paragraph here will tell you why cap and trade won't work.  (Crafty, please explain your objection to nuclear power when you have time.)
------------------

By pouring money into anything-but-carbon fuels, we will lower demand for carbon, making it even cheaper for the rest of the world to buy and burn. The rest will use cheaper energy to accelerate their own economic growth. Jobs will go where energy is cheap, just as they go where labor is cheap. Manufacturing and heavy industry require a great deal of energy, and in a global economy, no competitor can survive while paying substantially more for an essential input. The carbon police acknowledge the problem and talk vaguely of using tariffs and such to address it. But carbon is far too deeply embedded in the global economy, and materials, goods, and services move and intermingle far too freely, for the customs agents to track.

Consider your next Google search. As noted in a recent article in Harper’s, “Google . . . and its rivals now head abroad for cheaper, often dirtier power.” Google itself (the “don’t be evil” company) is looking to set up one of its electrically voracious server farms at a site in Lithuania, “disingenuously described as being near a hydroelectric dam.” But Lithuania’s grid is 0.5 percent hydroelectric and 78 percent nuclear. Perhaps the company’s next huge farm will be “near” the Three Gorges Dam in China, built to generate over three times as much power as our own Grand Coulee Dam in Washington State. China will be happy to play along, while it quietly plugs another coal plant into its grid a few pylons down the line. All the while, of course, Google will maintain its low-energy headquarters in California, a state that often boasts of the wise regulatory policies—centered, one is told, on efficiency and conservation—that have made it such a frugal energy user. But in fact, sky-high prices have played the key role, curbing internal demand and propelling the flight from California of power plants, heavy industries, chip fabs, server farms, and much else (see “California’s Potemkin Environmentalism,” Spring 2008).

So the suggestion that we can lift ourselves out of the economic doldrums by spending lavishly on exceptionally expensive new sources of energy is absurd. “Green jobs” means Americans paying other Americans to chase carbon while the rest of the world builds new power plants and factories. And the environmental consequences of outsourcing jobs, industries, and carbon to developing countries are beyond dispute. They use energy far less efficiently than we do, and they remain almost completely oblivious to environmental impacts, just as we were in our own first century of industrialization. A massive transfer of carbon, industry, and jobs from us to them will raise carbon emissions, not lower them.

The grand theory for how the developed world can unilaterally save the planet seems to run like this. We buy time for the planet by rapidly slashing our own emissions. We do so by developing carbon-free alternatives even cheaper than carbon. The rest of the world will then quickly adopt these alternatives, leaving most of its trillion barrels of oil and trillion tons of coal safely buried, most of the rain forests standing, and most of the planet’s carbon-rich soil undisturbed. From end to end, however, this vision strains credulity.

Perhaps it’s the recognition of that inconvenient truth that has made the anti-carbon rhetoric increasingly apocalyptic. Coal trains have been analogized to boxcars headed for Auschwitz. There is talk of the extinction of all humanity. But then, we have heard such things before. It is indeed quite routine, in environmental discourse, to frame choices as involving potentially infinite costs on the green side of the ledger. If they really are infinite, no reasonable person can quibble about spending mere billions, or even trillions, on the dollar side, to dodge the apocalyptic bullet.

Thirty years ago, the case against nuclear power was framed as the “Zero-Infinity Dilemma.” The risks of a meltdown might be vanishingly small, but if it happened, the costs would be infinitely large, so we should forget about uranium. Computer models demonstrated that meltdowns were highly unlikely and that the costs of a meltdown, should one occur, would be manageable—but greens scoffed: huge computer models couldn’t be trusted. So we ended up burning much more coal. The software shoe is on the other foot now; the machines that said nukes wouldn’t melt now say that the ice caps will. Warming skeptics scoff in turn, and can quite plausibly argue that a planet is harder to model than a nuclear reactor. But that’s a detail. From a rhetorical perspective, any claim that the infinite, the apocalypse, or the Almighty supports your side of the argument shuts down all further discussion.

To judge by actions rather than words, however, few people and almost no national governments actually believe in the infinite rewards of exorcising carbon from economic life. Kyoto has hurt the anti-carbon mission far more than carbon zealots seem to grasp. It has proved only that with carbon, governments will say and sign anything—and then do less than nothing. The United States should steer well clear of such treaties because they are unenforceable, routinely ignored, and therefore worthless.

If we’re truly worried about carbon, we must instead approach it as if the emissions originated in an annual eruption of Mount Krakatoa. Don’t try to persuade the volcano to sign a treaty promising to stop. Focus instead on what might be done to protect and promote the planet’s carbon sinks—the systems that suck carbon back out of the air and bury it. Green plants currently pump 15 to 20 times as much carbon out of the atmosphere as humanity releases into it—that’s the pump that put all that carbon underground in the first place, millions of years ago. At present, almost all of that plant-captured carbon is released back into the atmosphere within a year or so by animal consumers. North America, however, is currently sinking almost two-thirds of its carbon emissions back into prairies and forests that were originally leveled in the 1800s but are now recovering. For the next 50 years or so, we should focus on promoting better land use and reforestation worldwide. Beyond that, weather and the oceans naturally sink about one-fifth of total fossil-fuel emissions. We should also investigate large-scale options for accelerating the process of ocean sequestration.

Carbon zealots despise carbon-sinking schemes because, they insist, nobody can be sure that the sunk carbon will stay sunk. Yet everything they propose hinges on the assumption that carbon already sunk by nature in what are now hugely valuable deposits of oil and coal can be kept sunk by treaty and imaginary cheaper-than-carbon alternatives. This, yet again, gets things backward. We certainly know how to improve agriculture to protect soil, and how to grow new trees, and how to maintain existing forests, and we can almost certainly learn how to mummify carbon and bury it back in the earth or the depths of the oceans, in ways that neither man nor nature will disturb. It’s keeping nature’s black gold sequestered from humanity that’s impossible.

If we do need to do something serious about carbon, the sequestration of carbon after it’s burned is the one approach that accepts the growth of carbon emissions as an inescapable fact of the twenty-first century. And it’s the one approach that the rest of the world can embrace, too, here and now, because it begins with improving land use, which can lead directly and quickly to greater prosperity. If, on the other hand, we persist in building green bridges to nowhere, we will make things worse, not better. Good intentions aren’t enough. Turned into ineffectual action, they can cost the earth and accelerate its ruin at the same time.

 - Peter Huber is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute
5456  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cap and Trade - the green bridge to nowhere on: April 20, 2009, 10:49:15 AM
Peter W. Huber
Bound to Burn, http://city-journal.org/2009/19_2_carbon.html

Like medieval priests, today’s carbon brokers will sell you an indulgence that forgives your carbon sins. It will run you about $500 for 5 tons of forgiveness—about how much the typical American needs every year. Or about $2,000 a year for a typical four-person household. Your broker will spend the money on such things as reducing methane emissions from hog farms in Brazil.

But if you really want to make a difference, you must send a check large enough to forgive the carbon emitted by four poor Brazilian households, too—because they’re not going to do it themselves. To cover all five households, then, send $4,000. And you probably forgot to send in a check last year, and you might forget again in the future, so you’d best make it an even $40,000, to take care of a decade right now. If you decline to write your own check while insisting that to save the world we must ditch the carbon, you are just burdening your already sooty soul with another ton of self-righteous hypocrisy. And you can’t possibly afford what it will cost to forgive that.

If making carbon this personal seems rude, then think globally instead. During the presidential race, Barack Obama was heard to remark that he would bankrupt the coal industry. No one can doubt Washington’s power to bankrupt almost anything—in the United States. But China is adding 100 gigawatts of coal-fired electrical capacity a year. That’s another whole United States’ worth of coal consumption added every three years, with no stopping point in sight. Much of the rest of the developing world is on a similar path.

Cut to the chase. We rich people can’t stop the world’s 5 billion poor people from burning the couple of trillion tons of cheap carbon that they have within easy reach. We can’t even make any durable dent in global emissions—because emissions from the developing world are growing too fast, because the other 80 percent of humanity desperately needs cheap energy, and because we and they are now part of the same global economy. What we can do, if we’re foolish enough, is let carbon worries send our jobs and industries to their shores, making them grow even faster, and their carbon emissions faster still.

We don’t control the global supply of carbon.

Ten countries ruled by nasty people control 80 percent of the planet’s oil reserves—about 1 trillion barrels, currently worth about $40 trillion. If $40 trillion worth of gold were located where most of the oil is, one could only scoff at any suggestion that we might somehow persuade the nasty people to leave the wealth buried. They can lift most of their oil at a cost well under $10 a barrel. They will drill. They will pump. And they will find buyers. Oil is all they’ve got.

Poor countries all around the planet are sitting on a second, even bigger source of carbon—almost a trillion tons of cheap, easily accessible coal. They also control most of the planet’s third great carbon reservoir—the rain forests and soil. They will keep squeezing the carbon out of cheap coal, and cheap forest, and cheap soil, because that’s all they’ve got. Unless they can find something even cheaper. But they won’t—not any time in the foreseeable future.

We no longer control the demand for carbon, either. The 5 billion poor—the other 80 percent—are already the main problem, not us. Collectively, they emit 20 percent more greenhouse gas than we do. We burn a lot more carbon individually, but they have a lot more children. Their fecundity has eclipsed our gluttony, and the gap is now widening fast. China, not the United States, is now the planet’s largest emitter. Brazil, India, Indonesia, South Africa, and others are in hot pursuit. And these countries have all made it clear that they aren’t interested in spending what money they have on low-carb diets. It is idle to argue, as some have done, that global warming can be solved—decades hence—at a cost of 1 to 2 percent of the global economy. Eighty percent of the global population hasn’t signed on to pay more than 0 percent.

Accepting this last, self-evident fact, the Kyoto Protocol divides the world into two groups. The roughly 1.2 billion citizens of industrialized countries are expected to reduce their emissions. The other 5 billion—including both China and India, each of which is about as populous as the entire Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development—aren’t. These numbers alone guarantee that humanity isn’t going to reduce global emissions at any point in the foreseeable future—unless it does it the old-fashioned way, by getting poorer. But the current recession won’t last forever, and the long-term trend is clear. Their populations and per-capita emissions are rising far faster than ours could fall under any remotely plausible carbon-reduction scheme.

Might we simply buy their cooperation? Various plans have circulated for having the rich pay the poor to stop burning down rain forests and to lower greenhouse-gas emissions from primitive agricultural practices. But taking control of what belongs to someone else ultimately means buying it. Over the long term, we would in effect have to buy up a large fraction of all the world’s forests, soil, coal, and oil—and then post guards to make sure that poor people didn’t sneak in and grab all the carbon anyway. Buying off people just doesn’t fly when they outnumber you four to one.

Might we instead manage to give the world something cheaper than carbon? The moon-shot law of economics says yes, of course we can. If we just put our minds to it, it will happen. Atom bomb, moon landing, ultracheap energy—all it takes is a triumph of political will.

Really? For the very poorest, this would mean beating the price of the free rain forest that they burn down to clear land to plant a subsistence crop. For the slightly less poor, it would mean beating the price of coal used to generate electricity at under 3 cents per kilowatt-hour.

And with one important exception, which we will return to shortly, no carbon-free fuel or technology comes remotely close to being able to do that. Fossil fuels are extremely cheap because geological forces happen to have created large deposits of these dense forms of energy in accessible places. Find a mountain of coal, and you can just shovel gargantuan amounts of energy into the boxcars.

Shoveling wind and sun is much, much harder. Windmills are now 50-story skyscrapers. Yet one windmill generates a piddling 2 to 3 megawatts. A jumbo jet needs 100 megawatts to get off the ground; Google is building 100-megawatt server farms. Meeting New York City’s total energy demand would require 13,000 of those skyscrapers spinning at top speed, which would require scattering about 50,000 of them across the state, to make sure that you always hit enough windy spots. To answer the howls of green protest that inevitably greet realistic engineering estimates like these, note that real-world systems must be able to meet peak, not average, demand; that reserve margins are essential; and that converting electric power into liquid or gaseous fuels to power the existing transportation and heating systems would entail substantial losses. What was Mayor Bloomberg thinking when he suggested that he might just tuck windmills into Manhattan? Such thoughts betray a deep ignorance about how difficult it is to get a lot of energy out of sources as thin and dilute as wind and sun.

It’s often suggested that technology improvements and mass production will sharply lower the cost of wind and solar. But engineers have pursued these technologies for decades, and while costs of some components have fallen, there is no serious prospect of costs plummeting and performance soaring as they have in our laptops and cell phones. When you replace conventional with renewable energy, everything gets bigger, not smaller—and bigger costs more, not less. Even if solar cells themselves were free, solar power would remain very expensive because of the huge structures and support systems required to extract large amounts of electricity from a source so weak that it takes hours to deliver a tan.

This is why the (few) greens ready to accept engineering and economic reality have suddenly emerged as avid proponents of nuclear power. In the aftermath of the Three Mile Island accident—which didn’t harm anyone, and wouldn’t even have damaged the reactor core if the operators had simply kept their hands off the switches and let the automatic safety systems do their job—ostensibly green antinuclear activists unwittingly boosted U.S. coal consumption by about 400 million tons per year. The United States would be in compliance with the Kyoto Protocol today if we could simply undo their handiwork and conjure back into existence the nuclear plants that were in the pipeline in nuclear power’s heyday. Nuclear power is fantastically compact, and—as America’s nuclear navy, several commercial U.S. operators, France, Japan, and a handful of other countries have convincingly established—it’s both safe and cheap wherever engineers are allowed to get on with it.

But getting on with it briskly is essential, because costs hinge on the huge, up-front capital investment in the power plant. Years of delay between the capital investment and when it starts earning a return are ruinous. Most of the developed world has made nuclear power unaffordable by surrounding it with a regulatory process so sluggish and unpredictable that no one will pour a couple of billion dollars into a new plant, for the good reason that no one knows when (or even if) the investment will be allowed to start making money.

And countries that don’t trust nuclear power on their own soil must hesitate to share the technology with countries where you never know who will be in charge next year, or what he might decide to do with his nuclear toys. So much for the possibility that cheap nuclear power might replace carbon-spewing sources of energy in the developing world. Moreover, even India and China, which have mastered nuclear technologies, are deploying far more new coal capacity.

Remember, finally, that most of the cost of carbon-based energy resides not in the fuels but in the gigantic infrastructure of furnaces, turbines, and engines. Those costs are sunk, which means that carbon-free alternatives—with their own huge, attendant, front-end capital costs—must be cheap enough to beat carbon fuels that already have their infrastructure in place. That won’t happen in our lifetimes.

Another argument commonly advanced is that getting over carbon will, nevertheless, be comparatively cheap, because it will get us over oil, too—which will impoverish our enemies and save us a bundle at the Pentagon and the Department of Homeland Security. But uranium aside, the most economical substitute for oil is, in fact, electricity generated with coal. Cheap coal-fired electricity has been, is, and will continue to be a substitute for oil, or a substitute for natural gas, which can in turn substitute for oil. By sharply boosting the cost of coal electricity, the war on carbon will make us more dependent on oil, not less.

The first place where coal displaces oil is in the electric power plant itself. When oil prices spiked in the early 1980s, U.S. utilities quickly switched to other fuels, with coal leading the pack; the coal-fired plants now being built in China, India, and other developing countries are displacing diesel generators. More power plants burning coal to produce cheap electricity can also mean less natural gas used to generate electricity. And less used for industrial, commercial, and residential heating, welding, and chemical processing, as these users switch to electrically powered alternatives. The gas that’s freed up this way can then substitute for diesel fuel in heavy trucks, delivery vehicles, and buses. And coal-fired electricity will eventually begin displacing gasoline, too, as soon as plug-in hybrid cars start recharging their batteries directly from the grid.

To top it all, using electricity generated in large part by coal to power our passenger cars would lower carbon emissions—even in Indiana, which generates 75 percent of its electricity with coal. Big power plants are so much more efficient than the gasoline engines in our cars that a plug-in hybrid car running on electricity supplied by Indiana’s current grid still ends up more carbon-frugal than comparable cars burning gasoline in a conventional engine under the hood. Old-guard energy types have been saying this for decades. In a major report released last March, the World Wildlife Fund finally concluded that they were right all along.

But true carbon zealots won’t settle for modest reductions in carbon emissions when fat targets beckon. They see coal-fired electricity as the dragon to slay first. Huge, stationary sources can’t run or hide, and the cost of doing without them doesn’t get rung up in plain view at the gas pump. California, Pennsylvania, and other greener-than-thou states have made flatlining electricity consumption the linchpin of their war on carbon. That is the one certain way to halt the displacement of foreign oil by cheap, domestic electricity.

The oil-coal economics come down to this. Per unit of energy delivered, coal costs about one-fifth as much as oil—but contains one-third more carbon. High carbon taxes (or tradable permits, or any other economic equivalent) sharply narrow the price gap between oil and the one fuel that can displace it worldwide, here and now. The oil nasties will celebrate the green war on carbon as enthusiastically as the coal industry celebrated the green war on uranium 30 years ago.

The other 5 billion are too poor to deny these economic realities. For them, the price to beat is 3-cent coal-fired electricity. China and India won’t trade 3-cent coal for 15-cent wind or 30-cent solar. As for us, if we embrace those economically frivolous alternatives on our own, we will certainly end up doing more harm than good.

5457  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics, productivity growth on: April 20, 2009, 09:51:06 AM
"I also think one of greatest causes of increased wealth in the US is increased productivity of US workers. ... Increased productivity is usually causes [caused?] by better technology and  I think  recent technological advances are just at the beginning stages."


Yes, but technology growth comes from friendly policies toward the gains from capital investment.  Productivity growth in simple terms comes from power tools.  When the carpenter goes from a hand saw and hammer to a power saw, nailing gun and laser level, productivity increases.  You might get shovelers to shovel a little faster with a bonus program but not on a magnitude like you will if they put them at the controls of a diesel powered Bobcat.  I had the opportunity to sell microprocessor emulation tools to supercomputer companies, logic analyzers to avionics firms and optical time domain reflectometers to under-the-ocean fiber optic cable operators.  Productivity growth is all about capital investment.  In the Lawrence Summers video he seems to confirm that with his observation that the highest growth in productivity started in the mid-nineties.  That is precisely when Clinton accepted the Gingrich rate cuts in capital gains taxation.  You don't increase the productivity or value of labor or the pay for labor by promising to punish the gains from capital investments.  The first phase of canceling the gains of the Bush tax cuts began Jan. 1 2008 when the Pelosi congress ended favorable rules on depreciation of capital equipment, along with their promise of serious increases in investment tax rates to follow.  Maybe Summers has had some success persuading President Obama of the ill-advised wisdom of punishing returns from investment to help labor but a great deal of damage has already been done - just by promising that future rates will be higher.
5458  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cognitive Dissonance, Kids v. Teachers' Union: Guess Who Wins on: April 15, 2009, 12:02:10 PM
Obama picked a pretend fight with the union over 'merit pay'.  We have that already here in MN.  As my friend describes the extra check his wife gets from the state each year, it's free money - for a middle school teacher in a nice suburban district where the teachers do their job and the kids show up ready and do the work assigned.  It doesn't come out of the pocket of the mediocre teachers, who still get full pay, benefits, summers off, winter break, spring break, afternoons off, weekends off, retirement guarantees, did I mention family medical?  The bonus comes from the already strapped taxpayers, and is above and beyond the above-market union contract pay.  In the case of a federal bonus program, the money comes out of thin air, on top of the other 7 trillion unfunded forecast, devaluing every other dollar in the economy.

Vouchers OTOH cost nothing, just paying the per kid rate the taxpayer is already obligated to pay.

Obama faced an easy choice between putting his cute and smart daughters in the best private school available or in the public schools run by the teachers' unions - and he paid no political price for his decision.  We were all supposed to be excited because of his race, but DC public schools are also largely black, isn't that exciting!

But the DC graduation rate is barely over 50%.  In my daughter's public school it is over 98%.  I contend that it is not the color of your skin but the prevalence of welfare dependency dollars in your district screwing up the families and priorities in the homes, neighborhoods and the schools that correlates best with academic deficiency.

Merit pay should go to the parents of the kids who show up ready and willing to learn across most of America.  Shame on Obama and almost all Democrats for abandoning the kids in the neighborhoods and not letting them at least take the dollars the taxpayer is already spending on them and use it in the accredited educational institution of their choice.

I guess the BS term 'pro-choice' has some other meaning to them.
5459  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Reproductive issues, questioning pro-choice choices on: April 13, 2009, 10:01:47 AM
GM,  Your post about gender selection in China raises pro-choice questions that can't be answered rationally by the pro-choice crowd.  It keeps coming back to black and white choices of life and death.  The gray areas just don't fit well with the right or choice to selectively kill your offspring.  If you should be able to kill safely, properly and legally for timing, for convenience, for money reasons, and to kill the runt of the litter (e.g. down syndrome) etc. etc. then what moral line have you crossed by killing for gender selection.  Either IMO you concede you don't have a moral line to cross or protect in the law or you falsely believe abortion by choice is not killing off one of God's creatures. 

What other protected 'rights', I ask again, do we want to be safe, legal and RARE?  If abortion is safe and legal and at times a good thing for society, then why the outrage at the next step when other places, fully populated, make it mandatory?
5460  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance, Community of Nations? on: April 13, 2009, 09:20:21 AM
The What Of Nations?

A pandering Obama praised Europe's 'leading role in the world.' Actually, Europe exercises almost no leadership, even in Europe.
Published Apr 11, 2009  George Will, Newsweek

"He's a man way out there in the blue, riding on a smile and a shoeshine. And when they start not smiling back—that's an earthquake."
—Arthur Miller, "Death of a Salesman"

President William Howard Taft understood how political cant can bewitch the speaker's mind. Listening to an aide natter on about "the machinery of government," Taft murmured, "The young man really thinks it's a machine." The current president's U.N. ambassador, Susan Rice, was on Sunday television recently explaining why she thinks Iran, now several decades into its pursuit of nuclear weapons and close to consummation, might succumb to the siren song of sweet reason and retreat from success. Doing so, she said, would enable Iran "to be a responsible member of the international community"—perhaps not the highest priority for a regime that denies the Holocaust happened, and vows to complete it—and "enter the community of nations." Otherwise Iran will face "the full force of the international community."

Rice really thinks there is a community out there. To believe that is to believe, as liberals do, that harmony is humanity's natural condition, so discord is a remediable defect in arrangements.
Click here to find out more!

Regarding North Korea's missile launch, Rice was very stern. She said the U.N. Security Council would "meet," and there would be "consultation with our partners," who "all need to come together" and "add to" the 2006 U.N. resolution that North Korea had just disregarded, the one that demanded a halt to future missile-related activity, including launches. The Security Council met. It could not even bring itself to say North Korea's launch had violated the resolution against launches.

In the 1950s, conservatives vowed to "roll back" the Iron Curtain. Rice spoke of "ensuring that we roll back" North Korea's nuclear program. She took heart from what she called "some serious dismantlement" of North Korea's principal reactor. Actually, the reactor was not dismantled but disabled, an easily reversible act. Fuel rods were removed and the cooling tower was destroyed. The rods can be reinserted. The reactor can operate without the cooling tower—warm water would be released, which might kill lots of wildlife, but, then, the regime kills lots of North Koreans, even though that supposedly causes frowns to crease the faces of the supposed community of nations.

Perhaps Rice thinks the mere existence of the U.N. proves the existence of an international community. If so, she should spend some communitarian time with our allies the Saudis. The Obama administration has decided to join them as members of the U.N. Human Rights Council, which the Bush administration boycotted because it includes despotic regimes that are ludicrous auditors of other nations' respect for human rights.

An unmarried 23-year-old Saudi woman became pregnant when abducted and gang-raped. She was convicted of adultery and sentenced to a year in prison—and to a perhaps fatal 100 lashes after her child is born. Another woman was visited by two men—one had been breast-fed by her; the other was bringing her bread. Convicted of the crime of being in the presence of men who are not family members, she was sentenced to 40 lashes, which is perhaps a death sentence for a 75-year-old. The "community of nations" that liberals like Rice believe in certainly has what liberals celebrate: diversity.

If there is a "community of nations," then "Yes, we can" do this and that. But if not?

During Barack Obama's trip abroad, during which he praised himself by disparaging his predecessor and deploring America's shortcomings, he took pandering to a comic peak, combining criticism of America with flattery of Europe, when he deplored America's "failure to appreciate Europe's leading role in the world." Actually, as the crisis of aggression and ethnic cleansing in the Balkans demonstrated a decade ago, Europe plays almost no leadership role, even in Europe, which remains a geographical rather than a political denotation.
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Europe's collective existence through NATO might be ending. Afghanistan, the supposed "graveyard of empires," might be the burial ground of NATO, which is 60 years old and showing signs of advanced senescence. Officially, NATO says the Afghanistan campaign is vital; actually, it promises a mere 5,000 more troops, none of them for combat. Most of the NATO nations that grudgingly send dribs and drabs of troops to Afghanistan send them enveloped in caveats that virtually vitiate their usefulness, including the stipulation that they shall not be put in harm's way. Tom Korologos, who was U.S. ambassador to Belgium from 2004 to 2007, recalls that when Belgium finally agreed to send a few hundred troops from its unionized "army"—average age: 40—other caveats concerned bottled water, a certain ratio of psychiatrists to troops and a requirement that dust be kept to a minimum.

In Europe, during his first star turn on the world stage, the president learned, or should have, that charm and two euros will almost get him a copy of the International Herald Tribune. Out there in the blue, flying high, selling himself, he found out how far he can go on a smile and a shoeshine.

America's enemies are not smiling back. Those are smirks, not smiles.
5461  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Way Forward: Borrow less and keep spending within bounds on: April 13, 2009, 09:03:23 AM
A worthy House Republican plan
Borrows less and would keep spending within bounds

By Donald Lambro (Washington Times) | Monday, April 13, 2009

When President Obama delivered his record-breaking $3.6 trillion budget to Congress, it was Page One news and led all the TV broadcasts - with little or no critical analysis.

But when the Republicans brought forth their alternative budget, it was relegated to the back pages and received only a cursory mention on the nightly news shows, usually accompanied by a Democratic talking head who dismissed the GOP plan as coldhearted and a penny-pinching approach that turned its back on people in need during these hard economic times.

Actually, the House Republican plan does a number of things to grow the economy that the Democrats do not, like provide tax incentives for business investment, economic growth and job creation; borrow a lot less than the Democrats would and create less debt; and not raise taxes, when to do so would be job-killer in a recession.

In short, House Republicans took up Mr. Obama's challenge to offer their own budget, and it turns out to be pretty good. It deserves a lot more attention than it got from the news media, says Brian M. Riedl, chief budget analyst at the Heritage Foundation. Among its provisions:

• It borrows $3.6 trillion less than Mr. Obama's budget. That works out to $23,000 less debt per household.

• It keeps total federal spending slightly above 20 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP), roughly the same rate of spending we had before the recession.

• It contains no tax increases and would shorten and simplify the federal tax code.

• It places a moratorium on wasteful earmarks and tackles needed Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid reforms.

Mr. Obama's budget and the barely trimmed-down version the House and Senate Democrats taped together would slap more than $9 trillion in new debt on our children and grandchildren. "This is more debt than has been accumulated by all previous presidents in American history from George Washington to George W. Bush - combined," Mr. Riedl says.

The Republicans would freeze nondefense, nonveterans discretionary spending for five years at present levels, and stop the stimulus spending planned in 2010 and beyond when the economy is expected to be in recovery.

Unlike Mr. Obama's budget and the Democrats' proposals, the GOP plan would raise no one's taxes. Instead, it would make the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts permanent, along with the alternative minimum tax reduction. But it would give beleaguered taxpayers a further tax break by giving anyone a choice between a 10 percent marginal tax rate for those making less than $100,000, and a 25 percent rate for those making more than $100,000.

And they would offer needed pro-growth incentives that include cutting the 35 percent corporate tax rate to 25 percent and suspending the capital-gains taxes through the end of 2010 to spur capital investment.

"Even with all those benefits, the House Republican budget proposal would bring in revenues averaging just below 18 percent of GDP, which is near the historical average," Mr. Riedl says.

The Obama budget and the versions hatched by Democrats on Capitol Hill would push federal spending as a share of GDP from 23.6 percent in 2011 to 24.5 percent in 2019 - "significantly above the past 40-year average of 20.7 percent," says Americans for Tax Reform.

The Democrats respond to all of this by saying it is just a repeat of the policies offered by former President George W. Bush.

In fact, as Mr. Riedl points out, the Obama and Democratic budgets would "actually accelerate" Mr. Bush's fiscal policies, producing "more runaway spending, more bailouts and even bigger deficits. The president is not repudiating Bushism - he's doubling down on it."

Is he ever. Increasing government spending by $1 trillion during the next 10 years; raising taxes on millions of Americans and businesses by $1.4 trillion during the next decade; and doubling the publicly held federal debt to more than $15 trillion.

In a few days, millions of taxpayers will send hundreds of billions of dollars to the U.S. Treasury to pay for the costs of Mr. Obama's voraciously growing government - in many cases, this is money Americans desperately need to make ends meet.

This is not a time - now or next year - to take more money out of a recessionary, cash-strapped economy with an unemployment rate that is fast approaching 10 percent.

This is a time when the government's policy should be to let the businesses and their workers keep more of what they earn. Mr. Obama's minuscule $7 a week for most workers provides little if any real relief.

Taking less money out of an anemic economy is a message that still resonates with taxpayers, who are beginning to doubt that the Democrats' dubious, snake-oil, tax-and-spend remedies will strengthen the economy.

It didn't make sense when Franklin D. Roosevelt did it in the 1930s, and it doesn't make any sense now.
5462  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Legal Issues created by the War with Islamic Fascism on: April 08, 2009, 12:39:29 AM
JDN,  I also made clear in the second post that I was only posting my opinion, which should have clear to you on the first.  I'll expand on my opinion, but it is only "wrong" if you prove it is not my opinion, lol.

In my opinion, about 99% of America's service men and women are good people and they by and large enlist for the right reasons and serve honorable.  Along the way, some are provoked into or choose bad behaviors at times, but most of those stories turn out to be stories.  What did John Kerry say, tearing ears off and burning villages.  I look at all those stories skeptically although once in a while one turns out to be true.

On the 'other side', you have terrorists who are on a mission to terrorize the western world, spread jihad and kill infidels.  Among the detainees, you may have an innocent bystander, that happens in war.  In my opinion, I doubt that more than 1% of the detainees did not have some affiliation with the mission of terror I just described.  We didn't detain some lady from the grocery store for looking Arab or Muslim ; these were people captured in combat and are held for national security reasons.

Once captured, the detainees are still on a mission and discrediting the United States is part of it, whether to bait a guard into unsavory behavior or just to invent the story for the international inquisitors and journalists.

"Doug's reference" was the quote I took from a general telling how frequent these abhorrent abuses against the guards are.  The link was provided so the reader could trace the quote.  That you found something else interesting in that report is fine with me, but it is now 'your reference'.  I have no idea how something else later in the report would change the General's quote unless he later retracted what he said so clearly previously.  He didn't.

I've disclosed my bias ad nauseum on this - I'm pulling for western civilization and safe neighborhoods - and I have no curiosity whatsoever why you or others see some kind of moral equivalence between American servicemen and captured terrorists, as if this is USA playing Jihad in a quiddich contest rather than America fighting off suicide bombers and planners to disrupt their agenda of carnage in what used to be called the global war on terror.
5463  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US-Russia on: April 07, 2009, 08:53:48 AM
In this particular case and it's an important one, standing up to the Russians over deploying missile defense and partnering with former Soviet republics that are among the most pro-American places in the world, it would appear that Obama is doing the right things for the right reasons. 

(In the case of failing to get help in Afghanistan, Obama is learning that unilateralism is a case of having allies we can't count on, which is an American problem, not a Republican one.)
5464  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Legal Issues created by the War with Islamic Fascism on: April 05, 2009, 09:30:58 AM
"Guantanamo: 99% of the abuse is of the prisoners against the guards ..."

I think I was low on that estimate.  It is based on my opinion from all that I have read and heard from first hand accounts.  Here is one report,  though I was unable to find the most recent author that prompted me to post that comment.  Jdn, please also take into account my bias in not believing most allegations the captured terrorists make against American serviceman.

http://law.shu.edu/news/guantanamo_third_report_7_11_06.pdf
General Hood: It is not unusual for guards to have feces, and urine hurled at them.  Spitting is the most common.  Threats to their families back home may be the most serious.

I'm happy to look at other views.  Please post any reports you know indicating the detainees are respectful and well-behaved, lol.

5465  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Replying Robert Reich, Obamanomics just like Reagan except the opposite on: April 03, 2009, 09:36:48 AM
Crafty: "I disagree quite a bit with this piece (Robert Reich compares obamanomics to Reagan's success)...how do we respond?"
  - It took me a few days to find the time, but I will answer him point by point.  Reich's arguments are the same as Hillary's, same as Obama's, same as our Democrat Senators and probably the same as your local Democrats.  It is worth taking the time to go through this slowly and learn their points whether you want to join them or refute them.

Reich uses a mixture of scattered truths, straw man arguments, deceptive statistics and then draws conclusions from them that don't logically follow. Take a look.

For some reason, liberals like to start a serious piece with a false first sentence:

"By ROBERT B. REICH
Twenty-eight years ago, Ronald Reagan used the severe economic downturn of 1980-82 to implement an economic philosophy that not only gave force and meaning to a wide range of initiatives but also offered a way back to sustained economic growth. Is there a similarly powerful animating idea behind Obamanomics?"

  - Reagan did not 'use' the economic downturn of 80-82 to implement his philosophy.  The downturn was caused by congress approving but delaying and phasing in the tax cuts while the Fed did not correspondingly delay the tightening of money.  The monetary and fiscal changes were intended to be simultaneous, not to squeeze the life out of the economy with tight money before stimulating new activity with across the board rate cuts.  As far as timing was concerned, Reagan was ready to go in 1976; he was not dependent on a recession that was largely avoidable.

Reich: "it's [Obamanomics] not a return to big government ...President Barack Obama's 10-year budget ...presents a remarkably conservative picture. In 10 years, taxes are expected to fall to around 19% of GDP, a lower level than the late 1990s. Spending is expected to drop to around 22.5% of GDP, about where it was under Ronald Reagan..."

  - Yes it is a return to big government.  Big government programs are scheduled to increase and accelerate forever if they can find a way to do it.  He downplays the growth in government by stating it only as a percentage of a false GDP projection.  GDP will grow more like a damaged speedboat pulling a larger and larger anchor - national health, federalized K-12, free college, national pre-K, mandatory universal civil service, limiting and taxing energy use, removing the ability to pass on a business, etc. etc.  These things don't accelerate growth.

Reich with the standard Democrat focus group tested, straw man argument:
"The real distinction between Obamanomics and Reaganomics involves government's role in achieving growth and broad-based prosperity. The animating idea of Reaganomics was that the economy grows best from the top down. Lower taxes on the wealthy prompts them to work harder and invest more. When they do so, everyone benefits. Neither Reagan nor the apostles of supply-side economics explicitly promised that such benefits would "trickle down" to everyone else but this was broadly understood to be the justification."

  - Only an opponent of supply side incentives says the strategy is "trickle down".  For one thing, there is no up-down to the economy; it is a complex, ever-changing jigsaw puzzle of interconnected parts.  Rate cuts unleash energy and creativity across the board.  The owner of an airline or bank or boat builder does not benefit from a tax cut unless someone else flies, makes a deposit or buys a boat.  You don't raise taxes on the rich, you raise taxes on the economy, hurting all its participants.  

Reich follows with deceptive statistics to find fault in a remarkable 26 year economic expansion:
"Reaganomics surely marked the beginning of one of the longest bull markets in American history and generated enormous gains at the top. But its benefits were not widely shared.  After the Reagan tax cuts, growth in the median wage slowed, adjusted for inflation. After George W. Bush's tax cuts in 2001 and 2003, the median wage dropped.

  - When you add 20 million jobs, even if every earner increases their earnings, statistically 'the median wage falls.  How can that be?  A university doesn't hire many more Deans and Department Heads when it grows.  More likely it adds teaching assistants and research assistants.  The company doesn't hire more CEOs but it might hire more entry level people in every department.  Conversely, if we laid off all our lowest seniority, lowest skill, entry level workers - chopped off the lowest rung of the ladder (as Reich's minimum wage proposals are designed to do) - the median wage increases with every job lost.  That is a very deceptive statistic.  A better measure is total receipts to the Treasury.  That is the financial interest that the feds have in the private sector anyway.  

Reich continues with deceptive statistics, all the negative ones they could find:
"Meanwhile, an increasing share of total income went to the top 1% of income earners. In 1980, before Reagan took office, the highest-paid 1% took home 9% of total national income. By 2007, before the economy melted down, the richest 1% was taking home 22%."

Like median statistics, top 1% stats are bait and switch also.  You are not measuring the same people.  Yesterday's rich could all hold and increase their wealth while the new rich achieve even more as they invent, innovate, produce and sell into a much larger and richer and more globalized economy.  Comparing the best in the world 27 years apart is interesting but not telling.  Disparity is a contrary indicator: it increases in times of rapid growth because the rich are more invested.  And disparity fell during the collapse.  Is that what we want more of or less of?

Another false characterization and invalid conclusion, Reich continues:
"Obamanomics, by contrast, holds that an economy grows best from the bottom up. The president proposes to increase taxes on the highest 2% of income earners starting in 2011. Those tax increases will fund more Pell grants allowing lower-income children to attend college, better pay for teachers that show they're worth it, broader access to health care, improved infrastructure, and more basic research. These and related expenditures are designed to help Americans become more productive. You might think of it as "trickle up" economics."

  - First, he is not lessening the power of the top, he is transferring it over to smarter and nicer people at the government.  Second, taking from the 2% doesn't pay for what they said it would pay for - witness the $600-700 billion rosy scenario out-year deficit projections.  When Hillary was frontrunner (same message) she was going to repeal George Bush's tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans (a sleight of hand because the cuts were across the board with the percentage cut getting larger as you go down the income spectrum) and she was going to 'use the money' to pay for health care, and then use it for education, and then use it again to buy down the deficit, depending on who she was talking to.  The dirty little secret is that there is actually more money collected from the rich at the lower rates.
 
Deception continued: "The key is public investment. Reaganomics did not view any public spending as an investment in the future except when it came to spending on the military. Hence, since 1980, federal spending on education, job training, infrastructure and basic research and development (apart from defense-related R&D) have all shrunk as a proportion of GDP..."

Again he minimizes the social benefit of defeating the Soviet Union and minimizes the increases in social spending by only citing it as a percentage of rapidly moving target, GDP growth under Reagan.  Why doesn't he cite social spending as a percentage of a fixed number like 1980 GDP.  Then the chart would show phenomenal growth, if that's what we even want, more grow in out-of-control social spending.

To summarize his view, we can have policies that are exactly the opposite of pro-growth policies, experience all of the growth anyway, and somehow in fairy tale fashion the gains will be beautifully distributed across the interest groups and electoral base of the Democrat party.
5466  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tax Policy on: April 03, 2009, 09:04:48 AM
Laffer makes a good point that the estate tax is one of the least efficient.  Two other problems: death tax double taxation on after tax assets is designed to discourage the creation of wealth by those who are best at it.  That presumes a false, zero-sum game, i.e. that the wealth they would have created will now go to someone else.  It's just not true.

The worst aspect though is to buy into the idea that it is okay for a majority to think of taxes to pass that will only apply to others. There is something important missing there (consent of the governed).
5467  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Legal Issues created by the War with Islamic Fascism on: April 03, 2009, 08:55:10 AM
Guantanamo: 99% of the abuse is of the prisoners against the guards while  99% of the stories are about alleged abuse against the prisoners.  Seems to me our concerns are misplaced.
5468  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Way Forward for Reps/Conservatives/the American Creed on: March 28, 2009, 12:05:27 AM
"...the Big Lie that "the free market caused it" is becoming accepted fact." - the markets that are the most screwed up are the ones that experienced the most government intervention, and vice versa.  Besides housing finance with Fannie Mae and the Community Reinvestment Act Program (CRAP), health care is very close to the top of that list.

Whatever and whoever 'our side' is, we always seem to lack a war room with a rapid response team and a clear message back refuting falsehoods.  Maybe that is Michael Steele's job.  Conservatives answer this kind of bs but they are only heard and read by conservatives.

Luckily, some truths are so true and so obvious that even unspoken they can become known truths.  For example, the fact that the policies of the current left machine embody tyrannical socialism. 

People have learned hate Nancy Pelosi and the politics she represents even though we are only fed glowing fluff reports about her everywhere we turn.  'Rasmussen Reports has the latest numbers:  Sixty percent (60%) of U.S. voters now have an unfavorable opinion of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, including 42% Very Unfavorable, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey.  Even Democrats are now bailing on Pelosi.'

Reelection rates in congress are typically 98-99%, but every seat goes up for campaign and reelection next year.  The way forward - step one - is to retake the house or at least retake the momentum in the country in the next congressional election.  I'm sure the Republicans are already working on the next 'contract with America'.  It will feature a number of positive agenda items but the underlying message is that 'we' offer a vision a little closer to the pursuit of happiness that Jefferson, Madison or Lincoln might have called the American Dream and a little further from the rationed benefits and downsized equality handed out by central planners and central enforcers like Stalin and Pelosi.

Right now the only check/balance on the American Left machine is 'Communist China'.  If they stop buying our debt, we will have to cut spending by most of the $10 trillion (and eat the rest as inflation) even without the participation in the process of Republicans.
5469  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues - Press Conference, no questions on either war on: March 25, 2009, 12:58:47 PM
Not one single question on either war even though Obama last month ordered 17,000 more Americans into Afghanistan. Wonder if a Republican president could escalate a war and then hold a economic press conference?
5470  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Legal issues on: March 25, 2009, 12:11:29 PM
Under what provision in the constitution does it grant authority to the Obama Administration or to Congress to give the Treasury Secretary the authority to take over non-bank financial companies, such as large insurers, investment firms and hedge funds?

Please watch conservative representative Michele Bachmann, a private tax attorney, ask about constitutional authority and watch Treasury Sec. Geithner dodge and squirm.  He is not familiar with the document.  Fed Chair Bernancke also receives tough questions and handles them better.  Committee chair Barney Frank cuts off the time without allowing an answer to the last question asked, how would taxpayers be paid back for their investment in the private companies.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C69h5PEsDrE&feature=player_embedded
5471  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Legal issues on: March 24, 2009, 12:15:04 PM
If what powers are not granted to the feds are left to the states - by constitutional mandate, is there no legal issue regarding feds bailing states out of their budget errors? 

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/lists/biggest_state_deficits/introduction1.html?utm_source=rcp&utm_medium=link&utm_campaign=will

At least 7 of the top 10 bankrupt states are 'blue states' and are among the largest and richest states needing bailouts from working people across the fruited plain.  Besides the obvious legal issue of granted powers,  does not their own state constitution require a balanced budget?  Crying like a baby for a bailout is easier than spending, subsidizing and governing less, but is it constitutional for feds to pay for state powers?
5472  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Toxic Assets We Elected on: March 24, 2009, 11:56:53 AM
George Will does a nice job today of exposing the glibness and his troubled policies. We are now to the left of Sweden on government meddling in private sector affairs.
-----
The Toxic Assets We Elected
By George Will

WASHINGTON -- With the braying of 328 yahoos -- members of the House of Representatives who voted for retroactive and punitive use of the tax code to confiscate legal earnings of a small unpopular group -- still reverberating, the Obama administration Monday invited private-sector investors to become business partners with the capricious and increasingly anti-constitutional government. This latest plan to unfreeze the financial system came almost half a year after Congress shoveled $700 billion into the Troubled Asset Relief Program, $325 billion of which has been spent without purchasing any toxic assets.

TARP funds have, however, semi-purchased, among many other things, two automobile companies (and, last week, some of their parts suppliers), which must amaze Sweden. That unlikely tutor of America regarding capitalist common sense has said, through a Cabinet minister, that the ailing Saab automobile company is on its own: "The Swedish state is not prepared to own car factories."

More From RCP: 10 States in the Biggest Budget Trouble

Another embarrassing auditor of American misgovernment is China, whose premier has rightly noted the unsustainable trajectory of America's high-consumption, low-savings economy. He has also decorously but clearly expressed sensible fears that his country's $1 trillion-plus of dollar-denominated assets might be devalued by America choosing, as banana republics have done, to use inflation for partial repudiation of improvidently incurred debts.

From Mexico, America is receiving needed instruction about fundamental rights and the rule of law. A leading Democrat trying to abolish the right of workers to secret ballots in unionization elections is California's Rep. George Miller who, with 15 other Democrats, in 2001 admonished Mexico: "The secret ballot is absolutely necessary in order to ensure that workers are not intimidated into voting for a union they might not otherwise choose." Last year, Mexico's highest court unanimously affirmed for Mexicans the right that Democrats want to strip from Americans.

Congress, with the approval of a president who has waxed censorious about his predecessor's imperious unilateralism in dealing with other nations, has shredded the North American Free Trade Agreement. Congress used the omnibus spending bill to abolish a program that was created as part of a protracted U.S. stall regarding compliance with its obligation to allow Mexican long-haul trucks on U.S roads. The program, testing the safety of Mexican trucking, became an embarrassment because it found Mexican trucking at least as safe as U.S. trucking. Mexico has resorted to protectionism -- tariffs on many U.S. goods -- in retaliation for Democrats' protection of the Teamsters union.

NAFTA, like all treaties, is the "supreme law of the land." So says the Constitution. It is, however, a cobweb constraint on a Congress that, ignoring the document's unambiguous stipulations that the House shall be composed of members chosen "by the people of the several states," is voting to pretend that the District of Columbia is a state. Hence it supposedly can have a Democratic member of the House and, down the descending road, two Democratic senators. Congress rationalizes this anti-constitutional willfulness by citing the Constitution's language that each house shall be the judge of the "qualifications" of its members and Congress can "exercise exclusive legislation" over the District. What, then, prevents Congress from giving House and Senate seats to Yellowstone National Park, over which Congress exercises exclusive legislation? Only Congress' capacity for embarrassment. So, not much.

The Federal Reserve, by long practice rather than law, has been insulated from politics in performing its fundamental function of preserving the currency as a store of value -- preventing inflation. Now, however, by undertaking hitherto uncontemplated functions, it has become an appendage of the executive branch. The coming costs, in political manipulation of the money supply, of this forfeiture of independence could be steep.

Jefferson warned that "great innovations should not be forced on slender majorities." But Democrats, who trace their party's pedigree to Jefferson, are contemplating using "reconciliation" -- a legislative maneuver abused by both parties to severely truncate debate and limit the minority's right to resist -- to impose vast and controversial changes on the 17 percent of the economy that is health care. When the Congressional Budget Office announced that the president's budget underestimates by $2.3 trillion the likely deficits over the next decade, his budget director, Peter Orszag, said: All long-range budget forecasts are notoriously unreliable -- so rely on ours.

This is but a partial list of recent lawlessness, situational constitutionalism and institutional derangement. Such political malfeasance is pertinent to the financial meltdown as the administration, desperately seeking confidence, tries to stabilize the economy by vastly enlarging government's role in it.
5473  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Legal issues - targeting individuals on: March 24, 2009, 11:37:44 AM
Thanks Crafty for raising the legal/constitutional issues of the targeted tax hike.  I clipped this from the pajama medias post from Obama on 60 minutes:

"...Kroft’s question about the constitutionality of the attempt to tax away the bonuses of the AIG executives and Obama’s answer:

Kroft: I mean, you’re a constitutional law professor. Do you think this bill is constitutional?

Obama: Well, I think that as a general proposition, you don’t want to be passing laws that are just targeting a handful of individuals."
---
So we don't want to be doing exactly what we are doing.  It was a VERY nonchalant response for a professor of constitutional law.  Reminds me that who picks nominees for the courts is one of the top reasons to stay involved in elections even when it feels like choosing the lesser of two evils.

I've called Kelo the worst decision of recent memory.  They took private property for private purposes - because they could.  One logical reaction was a proposal to 'take' the David Souter place in New Hampshire and build a hotel: "This is not a prank" said Clements, "The Towne of Weare has five people on the Board of Selectmen. If three of them vote to use the power of eminent domain to take this land from Mr. Souter we can begin our hotel development." http://www.freestarmedia.com/hotellostliberty2.html

Of course it was quickly pointed out that you can't pass laws that target or punish individuals.  Hmmm.....

It occurs to me that Obama is a worker under public subsidy who at 400k makes more than 250k at his day job.  Seems to me any constitutional interpretation of the 90% over 250k tax would apply it to him as well. 
5474  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics - Peter Schiff and the collapse on: March 22, 2009, 01:30:58 PM
Schiff hit the nail on the head regarding real estate bubble and gives an excellent explanation of why attention to the supply side of the economy comes first and demand follows.  I disagree with him on the importance of some other points.  You must certainly give credit to someone who wrote a book about collapse in such a timely manner but also be aware that books and warnings like these were available throughout the last 25 year expansion.  The key is in the details of the analysis.

Schiff (from GM's interview link): "I saw this guy from Freddie Mac (and you know no one talks about this – it’s amazing this isn’t a front page story) – just recently last week(March 2007), they announced they were going to tighten their standards with respect to subprime mortgages that they buy. Going forward (it’s starting in a few months), they are not going to buy mortgages where there is a strong likelihood that the person can’t make the payment and it’s going to end in default. Now, that’s an amazing statement because it means up until that point they were buying those mortgages.

I like this quote, Schiff: "The problem is modern day (demand side) economists measure an economy just based on these GDP numbers, and if it is all consumption based on borrowing they don’t differentiate that. They don’t take a look at where the consumption is coming from, and they’ve confused the cart with the horse. The horse is savings and production; the cart is the consumption. You don’t drive an economy by consuming – the consumer is not the engine, the consumer is the caboose – but we’re acting like we’ve got this great economy simply because we consume, and the whole world owes because we’re doing it like we’re doing everybody a favor. It’s just nonsense."

OTOH, putting the focus on 'profiting' from the coming collapse instead of anticipating it, avoiding it, or surviving it reminds me a bit or Gilder picking stocks instead of just explaining trends.  'Profiting' sells better than just expanding your knowledge.  My question would be how much better off are you to hold gold with $500 taken out of a strong economy and then own $1000 worth that you can convert back to a worthless currency for a collapsed economy.  Seems to me you are screwed either way.

I don't agree that impending inflation was the trigger or the force that brought this down nor the trade deficit nor do I agree that it was the US bringing down the world; most measures indicate the downward force hit elsewhere first and hardest.

I still look for the best explanation of the collapse.  The US economy is an amazing, dynamic machine that can withstand an amazing number of shocks and bad policies up to a point, but you can't forever keep chopping its roots and arms and legs off and still see it grow.  A number of negative factors kept accumulating.  The biggest 3 I see were real estate, energy and anti-growth tax and spend policies.

Like Schiff says in his book, "bubbles burst, don't they".  Real estate values haven't made any sense for a long time.  Zero equity with 100% borrowing, full deductability, teaser front end payments that expire with wildly exaggerated purchase prices led to a collapse accelerated by mark to market rules that combine good loans in with the defaulted ones.

Energy demand grew with the global economy.  Supply here and elsewhere was curtailed.  Prices rose until the weakest links in demand chain broke, crippling the economies.

Pelosi and the gang came with their promise of punishing all capitalist activity while opinion polls showed that they were here to stay and would be soon joined by an administration to her left, eager to crush capitalism.  Eventually the rational and awake investors ran for cover while the rest of us watched our values implode.

The way out isn't complicated IMO: a) pro-growth fiscal policies (lower, simpler, flatter tax rates coupled with spending within our near-term means), b) commit to allow the private sector to produce as much energy as we expect to consume (at the forecasted 4% economic growth level), and c) real estate lending practices based on a meaningful down payment and a reasonable likelihood of paying back the loans.
5475  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Nuclear Power on: March 20, 2009, 10:55:05 AM
Judging nuclear power IMO must be done in the context of all the alternatives.  In the case of supplying the electric grid today, the choice I think is coal or nuclear.  The others offer some minor supplement, such as hydro, wind, solar.  Traditionally the energy loss on the transmission lines has been about 2/3 (that's why we heat northern homes with natural gas) so the non-cost-effective clean sources become even further from cost-effective on the grid.

The environmental issue of the day is CO2.  Carbon dioxide is released in the mining of coal and in the burning of coal or any fossil fuel.  I am with the skeptics here on the magnitude of the problem; I have posted that I think our use of fossil fuels adds only 0.00003 degrees C per decade of warming.  I'm not alarmed because the number is small and the reliance on fossil fuels is temporary, a blip in earth's history.  Still, I think it is better to not emit, and less emission is preferable to more.

Nuclear is the only large source of power that has zero emissions.

Risk is serious but calculated.  Look at the safety record.  Again must compare with others.  Chernobyl I believe doesn't count when evaluating new or existing plants here because we aren't building to their lack of safety standards.  Golf carts probably kill more people than nuclear plants.  I know the 19mph light rail here has killed more.

The size of the waste problem is of our own making.  What we call waste is still a large energy source.   France and elsewhere reprocesses the waste down to much smaller amount with a much lower energy level remaining.  Our system is based on reprocessing rules from the cold war era, not energy efficiency engineering.

"I remember that the Diablo Canyon Reactor was built on an earthquake fault here in CA.  Have you ever lived through any earthquakes?  I have and that experts would build a reactor on a fault destroys my faith in them and their process."

I haven't ever lived through an earthquake at all.  We suffer with winter here, in exchange for that we are free from hurricanes, earthquakes, drought, wildfires or even the need for air conditioning.  Curious what scale earthquakes you have lived through.  I think it would be one of the most frightening things possible.  Building a power plant on it seems stupid and unnecessary, but living on or near a known fault seems unimaginable to me but we all live with risk and make choices.

Looking up Diablo I find: 'Diablo Canyon is designed to withstand an earthquake of 7.5 on the Richter scale'   - I don't know what that means about the remaining risk level.

I see your point about losing trust but the safety record for producing huge amounts of electricity without pollution is unsurpassed.

France uses nuclear to produce about 79% of its electricity, for the US it is about 19%.  Looking into the reasons, I found that France lacked oil, gas, coal etc. and got scared during the oil shock of 1973 when they committed to producing energy domestically.

Last night, I heard the glibness tout his visit to a plug-in hybrid car and state (falsely) that they would get up to 150 mpg and then imply that you would come home and sell your leftover energy back to the grid and make some money.  Besides that he needs a teleprompter to get his energy facts straight (the 150 assumes energy on the grid is magical and free), I actually like the idea of plug-in hybrids.  I wouldn't waste my money on being partly electric until I could plug in.  But imagine as he does that we move a major amount of the transportation sector over to the grid.  We will need more power plants and they will be coal with emissions or nuclear or else some taxpayer boondoggle because the other sources are not cost effective.

With everything we know now, which energy source(s) should we expand to power our lives and our economy?

5476  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Alignment - leg shortened by impact on: March 19, 2009, 01:54:47 AM
Thanks for all the contributions here - what a wealth of information. The alignment  topic has been central to my life for about 35 years.   When I was 17, I was hit hard as a pedestrian by a car going roughly 50. I was hit on the lower left leg.  There was swelling like a basketball and about 50% overlap on the tibia and fibula. They decided that the set was good enough to heal and fill in, and I was plastered from hip to toe. 

On the first follow up the swelling had gone down and the alignment was checked by x-ray and modified by cutting and shimming the cast at the break with a cork and re-plastered over it.  Still the inside of the cast was loose and the resulting alignment was better but still off. 

I had doctor reports about alignment.  If I recall, the lower half of the lower leg is angled forward and out by 11-14 degrees, the foot is angled a little inward and the knees are fairly loose and slightly knock-kneed on both sides.  Amazingly, only one doctor thought to measure length and discovered that I lost 7/8 of an inch.  If I didn't notice almost an inch, there are people out there unaware of a 1/16 that foxmarten says should be addressed.

When I exercised and trained and built muscles around the knee I felt pretty good.  When I didn't play sports I would also lose the strength to stand or walk much.  My senior year in college I went on a mission to decide what to do about the alignment .  At each stop the first orthopedic surgeon would call in a colleague and then the department head.  It was amazing to me that I could sway their recommendation by whether I complained or downplayed my symptoms.  It seemed like there was little science to it.  I saw the head of the orthopedic department at the Mayo Clinic.  He wouldn't say he recommended re-breaking to correct the alignment, but said he would do it if that is what I wanted and we set an appointment for an osteotomy.  They would re-break higher on the bone than the original break and take out a notch for alignment.  I would actually have lost even more length.

I saw another specialist who recommended against it, wouldn't take on the risks of non-union, non-healing etc.  I canceled the procedure, got on with my life and have rarely looked back.

I tried to find out about a lift for the shortened leg.  Heal lifts were no good because they change the ankle position which is instant pain for me. I walked into medical supply places, asked questions and finally got a referral to a custom orthopedic shoe provider.  They build a 7/8 inch full length lift on a leather shoe, high topped to prevent ankle rollover and I wear it for everything, even golf. I felt better instantly and could feel years of damage go from 'hurt to heal to harmonize'. 

Now I'm 52 and doing well.  It's hard to tell which aches and pains are from sports, which are from aging and which are from this battle.

Some comments and observations:  Kids often notice the unmatched shoe heights instantly while many adults I've known for decades have no idea.

As I think Richard wrote, the alignment and function at the hips is the key to the back and spine.  Sitting and standing too long are strangely harder for me that playing up to 10 sets a day of tennis. 

Maija: "Everything is connected to something or how does that go?" - Lol.  When I tell people that their knees are connected they think I'm crazy, but the knees are only separated by a couple of hips, and the alignment on one side directly affects the other.  Limping to favor one side hurts the other. 

Paul (Foxmarten): the joke about being careful when you talk to someone who carries a knife is prophetic for me.  I've already got more good years without surgery than they would have predicted with it.  They were not selling a fast, certain or complete recovery.

Interesting point about the knee hurting with a shim.  In the ski boot business they do something called canting.  My racing boots have allen screws that allow you to set the sideways tilt of the boot to the footbed so that the ski will sit flat on the snow as you stand naturally. 

5477  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: March 18, 2009, 12:32:37 AM
CCP:" I wonder where drugs would be on the list of imports from Mexico if records were kept."

  - Good point.  Also it is said that if China paid full price royalties for the software, music and movies that it takes, that would entirely close the trade gap.
 
"One wonders how we export so much oil rather than use it all here?  It must not be that simple."

  - I don't know the mechanics either - shipping lanes or refined versus crude etc.  We have a large geography.  Reuters: "The biggest share of U.S. oil products exported went to Mexico, Canada, Chile, Singapore and Brazil",
http://uk.reuters.com/article/oilRpt/idUKN0325640920080703?pageNumber=2&virtualBrandChannel=0
Looks to me like refined product gets shipped out the west coast (no doubt that some of it originated in Canada, hence both import and export).  I looks like the US east coast is a large importer, remember the Katrina refinery shutdowns in New Orleans (south coast?).  I know Iran for example has no refining so they export oil but have to import all their gasoline. When Venezuela was threatening to cut off oil to the U.S, one analyst wrote that they would then have tankers going both directions through the Panama canal.  It is a global market.  Wouldn't it be easier to just switch the shipping labels.
5478  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics - Trade Deficit Down on: March 17, 2009, 02:03:37 PM
Thanks for the feedback that my link did not light up correctly.  I use this bookmark for the economic posts of Brian Wesbury: http://www.ftportfolios.com/Common/Rss/CommentaryFeed.aspx   All of the posts marked commentary or analysis are well worth the read IMO.

For the latest trade deficit link, scroll down to: "The trade deficit in goods and services fell to $36.0 billion".  I'll try to hot-link again:
http://www.ftportfolios.com/Commentary/EconomicResearch/2009/3/13/the_trade_deficit_in_goods_and_services_fell_to_$36.0_billion_in_january

My point was that if imports declined by 23% and exports declined by 16%, both are bad news even though the 'trade deficit' is now smaller.

(Wesbury should have been Bush's Fed chair pick instead of failed Fed insider Ben Bernancke.)
5479  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / World's 10 most dangerous cities on: March 16, 2009, 12:08:42 PM
http://www.realclearworld.com/lists/most_dangerous_cities/most_dangerous_cities_intro.html

10.London - knife related violence
9. Saskatoon - aggravated assault and robbery
8. Norilsk - pollution, life expectancy 40, no living tree within 30 miles
7. Johannesburg - theft, robbery and violence
6. Rio de Janeiro - violent gun crime, assassinations and drug-trafficking
5. Detroit - violent crime, property crime, most notably rampant arson and car theft
4. Caracas - homicide rate doubled under Chavez, 'Murder Capital of the World'
3. Linfen - dirtiest air in the world
2. Ciudad Juarez - epicenter of rival drug cartels, smugglers, kidnappers and criminals
1. Mogadishu - gun battles between rival militias and tribal factions
5480  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: March 15, 2009, 11:32:44 PM
"The biggest exporter is Germany"

Impressive statistic for Germany but not a fair comparison with the US economy IMO for the following reason:  When Germany ships to any other country in European Union it is counted as an export, when someone in Florida, Texas, California, New York, Massachusetts or 45 other states ships across state lines it does not.

"I am trying to find out what our biggest exports are; autos? gas? oil? technology?"

Here are some trade stats to sift through, imports: http://www.intracen.org/tradstat/sitc3-3d/ir842.htm,  exports:  http://www.intracen.org/tradstat/sitc3-3d/er842.htm, Other countries: http://www.intracen.org/tradstat/sitc3-3d/indexri.htm.

What you see there might surprise you.

5481  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics - Trade Deficit Down on: March 13, 2009, 09:11:38 PM
Addressing a strain of political economics that considers imports and trade deficits to be symptoms of economic weakness or failure, it is interesting to note that in this bad economy our trade deficit is 'improving', down to its lowest level since our last bad economy.  (We also had a trade 'surplus' during the great depression.)  http://www.ftportfolios.com/Commentary/EconomicResearch/2009/3/13/the_trade_deficit_in_goods_and_services_fell_to_$36.0_billion_in_january

I'll try to explain my view better... commerce is good (except for warheads to tyrants etc.), each transaction involves productive behavior between consenting adults and EACH transaction is a win-win situation for BOTH parties or they wouldn't make the deal.  So each import is good and each export is good.  More is better. To make a judgment about how they are going you should ADD them together for the trade figure instead of subtracting one from the other.  You don't see growing imports in a contracting domestic economy or growing exports in a contracting global economy.  In this bad economy, both imports and exports are way down.  That is a more meaningful observation than comparing one with the other IMO.
5482  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Results of Universal Healthcare and Free Everything in Sweden on: March 13, 2009, 06:17:10 PM
Riot/protest video edited out of this topic per moderator directive. I stand by my observation that this unrest is now in Sweden because these people moved there, not for the weather, not for the jobs with 70% unemployed, but for the world's most lavish welfare benefits including universal healthcare. - Doug
5483  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Way Forward for Reps/Conservatives/the American Creed on: March 13, 2009, 11:03:27 AM
CCP, The way forward IMO involves building the coalition between the factions you allude to, not to abandon EITHER core group in favor of another.  There is nothing 'Christian' about being pro-life or else at least half of Christians aren't Christian.  The second strongest defense of pro-life views I ever heard came from radio host Dr. Laura Schlesinger who is Jewish, and the strongest argument I've seen comes from science and ultrasound photography.

The point you make about the platform is correct.  The platform tradition should be ended instead of ignored by the elected candidates.  It is used only by opponents to demonstrate the extremism of their opponent.  The pro-life wording in the platform you cite would trump abortion for even the areas where all serious elected conservatives politicians would draw an exception.  The platform process is dominated the small minority of the involved and should be replaced by a Newt-style contract, agreed to and promoted in public, finding core principles that overlap realistic, electable plans for governing. 
5484  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: China on: March 13, 2009, 10:44:32 AM
Crafty: "I find the question about the likely dramatic decline of Chinese exports and the domestic consequences thereof to be an interesting one."

I have long believed that the Chinese rulers would not survive a serous downturn in their economy, but I also have learned over time that I am more offended by the oppressive regime there than the Chinese people are.  I don't know how an uprising would happen nor do I understand how such a small ruling class could contain a billion people over these years as they watched most of the globe move to consensual government.  In any case, they haven't been tested with real economic troubles.  The words of Rahm come to mind - you hate let a good crisis go to waste.

The leaders know to pre-empt upheaval by flexing their military strength and commitment.  As they try to energize nationalism, maybe Obama is of some advantage in this situation.  When they try to play the U.S. as the reason to pull together, maybe the evil, pre-emptive warmonger George W. Bush was a more convincing bogeyman for the masses than the affable, green behind the ears, can-we-talk, Barack.  As they see the disarm, talk and surrender foreign policy of this administration it will be hard try to convince your people that your nation is under a serious threat from afar.
5485  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: We the Well-armed People, shooting sprees on: March 12, 2009, 09:49:13 AM
Interesting take Prentice.  "They didn't say anything about the lack of mental heathcare or look at the pressures of family life and at work or school." 

I haven't looked into these cases at all but in general would add that the tools to force treatment or confinement for the suicidal have been dropped in our society.  Their freedom comes with these risks. 

Just like the terrorists, fear of administrative penalty on equipment violations isn't a motivator for those intent on ending their own life.  Only a giant government magnet can make certain that criminals and wackos comply with each new law change.

I hope that I am with one of my concealed carry friends if ever caught up in one of these rampages.
5486  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Legal issues - Obama eligibility on: March 11, 2009, 11:14:24 AM
It seems to me a matter of timeliness that has elapsed.  The accusers needed to challenge this when he went on the ballot, not when he started winning or after he won and was sworn in.  This case was tried by the voters who knew he had a foreign father and spent overseas time as a child.

Let's say for sake of argument there is something fishy about the original birth certificate on file in Hawaii.  The accusers still would need more than a hunch and multiple theories to get a judge to force a look.  And what if they now find a sloppy or reconstituted document?  Then what? Put the document on trial.  Prove it's not original. And then what?  Even a right-wing congress or conservative court would still not remove him now from office IMO.  If the story of the sources in the WND piece are true, which is doubtful because Justices don't speak candidly on open matters to their spouses, much less at book signings, it sounds like you would have 3 votes maximum out of 9 at most AFTER proving the President ineligible to serve.  I think no Justice and no congress would reopen this under any circumstance

I watched the hysteria on liberal boards about non-stop Bush impeachment talk that made it all the way to the fringe members of congress.  The answer then was that the President will leave at the end of his term and in this case after being defeated or serving two terms. Trite but true: elections have consequences.  There is a way forward and this isn't it.
5487  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Way Forward Michael Steele on: March 09, 2009, 05:58:14 PM
Chad, Thanks for posting.  Steele will be fine IMO if he can now hit the ground running.  If not for the mis-steps (all publicity is good publicity?) no one would have noticed or cared that a black man is now running the Republican Party.  Repubs had a black man and black woman at the highest cabinet posts and a black man to the highest court in the land without black voters noticing or caring.  If/when Michael Steele has accomplishments as RNC Chair, maybe then he will become a national voice and begin to influence a voter or two.  There is plenty of room for Steele to make a huge difference, but this defense of Steele came from his own PR person. We will see.  We will see what he can do with top down leadership for a deflated structure that needs to be re-built from the bottom up.

One public improvement that comes to mind is to stop having the equal-time opposition speaker talk to an empty room.  These should be done with enthusiasm that spills from the live audience to the television, radio and internet audience - either with stadium sized support or in a staged, Letterman/Leno type setting.  A citizens version of a joint session of congress is what they need IMO.  The future political leaders need to speak to a crowd and the party had better go find and train the candidates that can do it.  They also need clarity of message...
5488  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: March 09, 2009, 01:11:42 PM
Mark to Market is one valuable tool to analyze the value of an asset.  The rigid accounting of nothing but mark to market on all loans ignores the reality that most families will stay in their home and make the payments un der most circumstances. 

We have a long tradition of incompetent regulation.  That is not an argument for no regulation nor is it an argument to increase the size or budget of the failed regulators.  To me it is an argument to define the role of the federal government down to a manageable, constitutional size and hold regulators to efficiency and performance standards in line with their responsibilities.
5489  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Daily Expression of Gratitude - Rachel on: March 08, 2009, 03:57:32 PM
I am grateful for intelligent dissent on this board, especially from Rachel.

"Every time I go to post all I seem capable of writing is snarky comments or a harangue. I deleted these kind of  comments before they were posted.  I'm sure you all could handle my negatively but that is not the person I want to be."

Likewise, I have seen other boards digress that way and wish for my own postings and thoughts to not stoop that way.  I regret when my replies to you have crossed that line without being cleaned in the proofread.  My intent was always to challenge you politically, intellectually and morally on the issues, such as pro-life vs. reproductive freedom, not to put you down or myself as superior.  And to be challenged back which is often lacking, especially in your absence.
5490  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics - George Gilder on: March 07, 2009, 10:37:07 PM
There has been a lack of clarity about what got us into this mess and what should have been the way out now. 
Gilder is at his best on economics IMO, not stock picking...

GEORGE GILDER, Featured in "The
Claremont Review": In the current financial and political circus, with
Fabian fantasists and climate cranks in control of economic policy, the
mainstream media join Ivy League sages in condemning Adam Smith’s
invisible hand. Free market ideology has blinded conservatives, say many
sophisticates, to a crime wave on Wall Street, as Adam Smith gives way to
Bernie Madoff as the epitome of capitalism.

For perspective on what is going on, however, we should contemplate the
view of Richard Armey, the crusty cowboy who long served as Republican
majority leader and economic guru in the House, who pointed out to me more
years ago than I want to recall, that economics has more hands and feet,
visible and invisible, than the media imagines. Confounding the market’s
invisible hand during the past decade’s financial follies were the
government’s very visible handouts. These outlays massively and
conspicuously supported popular causes and constituents: low income
mortgage seekers, affirmative action litigators, failed farmers, US
automakers, ethanol junkies, sugar beet shysters, hustlers of solar power
and windmills, socialist educators, climate cranks, and other altruistic
but addled government dependents, plus all the interventionist CRAP
(Community Reinvestment Act programs) that mandated the suspension of
credit rules for politically favored home buyers. With much of this murky
activity guaranteed by the government, it prompted orgies of overreach,
with the “assets” of Fanny Mae and Freddy Mac rising from a few hundred
million to five trillion in a decade or so. Democrats fervently celebrated
all these visible handouts and wish to expand them hugely.

Meanwhile (in perhaps Armey’s best trope), the invisible foot of
government went to work. This millipedal regulatory force covertly kicks
at the underpinnings of private economy activity by capriciously
debauching the dollar; imposing onerously progressive tax rates on
successful economic ventures but making investors eat the losses;
fostering anti-business law suits and class action rackets; restricting
access to energy resources; snarling international trade; and enacting
ever more intricate mazes of contradictory laws and regulations with ever
more acute moral hazard, which assures that the results of the
intervention will be the opposite of its goals. The effect of these
relatively inconspicuous activities is to unleash the visible foot of the
market—all those bankruptcies and foreclosures—and increase demand for the
visible hand of government largesse.

In general, to rectify the situation, the invisible foot of government
must be removed—regulations retrenched, tax rates reduced, tariffs
eliminated, the value of the dollar restored. But instead conservatives
focus most of their energies attacking Leviathan at its strongest and most
popular point: the visible handouts of government spending—earmarks,
subsidies, and such—which matter relatively little if the invisible
assaults are suppressed. Since the visible handouts cannot be reduced in a
recession, the only spending cuts that actually happen as a result of the
Republican complaints are in defense.

A few decades ago, supply side economists, such as Arthur Laffer and
Robert Mundell and inspired journalists such as Jude Wanniski and Steve
Forbes pointed out the politically feasible remedy. Lower tax rates and
retrenched regulations result in more revenues for the government and less
need for visible handouts. Because this footloose outcome allows the
expansion of government and the defense of the country while the private
sector grows even more rapidly, it was extremely popular for a few years.
Its truth, demonstrated globally (look it up), is incontrovertible. Supply
side policies enable the otherwise impossible combination of guns and
butter: large defense efforts with low tax rates and rapid economic
growth. Countries with low or declining tax rates can increase their
government spending three times faster than countries with high or rising
tax rates, because the low tax countries grow six times faster than the
high taxers.

Why then is this truth controverted today by all reputable economists?
Even the disreputable supply siders seem to concede to the Democrats that
it is possible to increase revenues by increasing tax rates from current
levels or to sustain social security and medicare without reducing the
payroll tax. The reason is that all economists have been tied to the
procrustean bed of existing national models which exclude all the
factors—economic growth, tax shelters, entrepreneurial innovations,
transnational and interstate investment flows and demographic
migrations—that register the supply side effects.

Meanwhile, the profession upholds the phantasmagorical models of demand
side economics. Because these models find no confirmation in reality—as
Jean Baptiste Say proved centuries ago, demand is always and only a side
effect of real supply—established economic theories are extremely
difficult to learn and remember. You get Nobel prizes for minor and
obvious insights in economic geography. Thus the exponents of the standard
model are deeply threatened by any reality-based economics.

These experts are now completely in control of Washington, attempting to
spend their way to political dominance, while taking well over half the
voters off the federal tax rolls and giving actual taxpayers a greater
incentive to hide and shuffle existing wealth than to earn or create new
wealth. These measure will retard recovery from the recession and reduce
revenues. But globalization means that entrepreneurial creativity—in which
the United States is increasing it lead—can survive by adopting foreign
locales and resources. Countries such as Israel (a global center of
innovation) and Ireland (a low tax haven), China (a manufacturing dervish)
and India (ascendant in software), are taking the lead and will help
capitalism survive the Lilliputians currently trying to ruin it in the
United States. What will matter, after all, is not whether President Obama
approves of markets but whether markets approve of President Obama, who
may think he has protected his future by buying off the middle class with
tax rebates but will soon discover that his future will be decided by
global markets for currencies and stocks.

To any socialist revival, the invisible hand will still deliver the final
finger.
5491  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants - It Ain't Your Money to Spend on: March 07, 2009, 09:53:30 PM
This belongs in music but it is political so I will enter it as a rant - a beautiful, beautiful rant.  The Obama-resistance movement now has a tune...

Hey Washington, It Ain't Your Money to Spend

http://www.4shared.com/get/90054955/bfbba3c/It_Aint_Your_Money_to_Spend.html

If the link doesn't work try the artist's website: http://kathleensings.com/

  Hey Washington ...

   IT AIN'T YOUR MONEY TO SPEND! ©

2009, Words by Steve Jones, Music by Kathleen Stewart

Don't spend my grandson's paycheck.
He's only two years old.
With Obama in the White House,
His future's bought and sold.
Stop this immoral spending spree.
Stop assaulting our liberty.
Let me help you comprehend:
It ain't your money to spend.

Born and bred for freedom.
Got me a lot of rights.
They're all but disappearing
Before your fiscal appetites.
You're taking the fruit of my labor
To give your next-door neighbor.
I'll say it from beginning to end:
It ain't your money to spend.

It ain't your money to spend.
You're acting like a bunch of jerks.
I'm the one who earned it.
I'm the one who works.
Your income redistribution
Doesn't jibe with the Constitution.
So I got a little message to send:
It ain't your money to spend.

You started a spending orgy and then,
You made me long for Georgie again.

You gave some cash to ACORN.
Those folks are so corrupt.
All the pork and all payoffs,
It makes me want to erupt.
Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi,
The scariest folks since Bela Lugosi.
Let me help you comprehend.
It ain't your money to spend.

It ain't your money to spend.
You're acting like a bunch of jerks.
I'm the one who earned it.
I'm the one who works.
Your income redistribution
Doesn't jibe with the Constitution.
So I got a little message to send:
It ain't your money to spend.
5492  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Venezuela Pol?tica on: March 07, 2009, 09:15:02 PM
I jump in on this Spanish language discussion of oppression in Venezuela with a rough attempt at translation.  Please correct me if wrong...

Photos show celebration and demonstration by Chavez who 'won' a right of permanent reelection and is consolidating military power with new appointments to the highest positions.

Crafty thanked Denny for informing us with his first hand look from Venezuela:  'Thanks for your reports. I see that for every post that there are almost two hundred persons reading it. Impressive!'

Denny: On the contrary, I am the one who should give you the thanks in name of my compatriots by yielding us the space and the readers in this fight for liberty and decency.  There are many forums where they have prohibited me to publish news of Venezuela.  I wish that people never have to fight against [this kind of] oppression. 

There is no reason that a tyrant [should be able to take from us] our right to [freedom and pursuit of happiness].

With a grand fraternal hug I give you the thanks.  - Denny
----

God Bless you Denny.  Be safe and keep up the good fight.
5493  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues, NY Times didn't know illegal immigration was ... illegal on: March 05, 2009, 09:09:16 PM
Powerline does a nice job of bias and accuracy watch over a place that Crafty calls the NY Slimes. 

The Times Clears Up a Misunderstanding

The New York Times has long been an advocate for illegal immigration. Today we got some insight, perhaps, into what has motivated the Times' editors, via the paper's corrections section:

    An editorial on Feb. 22 stated incorrectly that unlawfully entering the country is not a criminal offense. It is a misdemeanor for a first-time offender.

It's quite remarkable: until today, the Times' editors believed that illegal immigration was legal!
5494  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Cognitive Dissonance, Does he do it on purpose? on: March 05, 2009, 08:45:03 PM
Is He Doing It On Purpose?

There's a school of thought that the Obama administration is deliberately damaging the economy and gutting the stock market, on the theory that doing so will make more people dependent on the government and pave the way for a far-left regime. Doug Ross makes the argument:

Consider that, in the teeth of a devastating recession, Obama has:

• Raised taxes on small businesses, the engines of entrepreneurship and job growth

• Raised the capital gains tax

• Lied about "tax cuts for 95% of Americans", offering instead $13 a week, achieved not through tax cuts, but by changing the federal withholding tables!

• Destroyed charitable giving by axing the tax breaks for 26% of all giving (or $81 billion in 2006)

• Proposed a carbon cap-and-trading scheme designed to punish oil companies and further tax consumers

Why would Obama inflict these destructive policies while the economy is collapsing? Simple. Each step strengthens the role of government in people's lives.

• Squelching the stock market kills its attractiveness as a parking lot for private capital. Combined with an increase in the capital gains tax, investors will swarm to bonds -- tax-free vehicles like municipal bonds, which benefit the growth of state and local government. And unions, of course.

• Carbon cap-and-tax will raise taxes on all Americans as the cost of goods and services will increase to address a non-existent threat.

• True tax cuts would grow the economy, which is why, of course, Obama shuns them. The last major recession was Jimmy Carter's malaise. It consisted of of double-digit inflation and unemployment. It was finally licked by across-the-board tax cuts for everyone (even the despised rich), which touched off a twenty-plus year run of prosperity.

• Charities reduce the role of government assistance for those in need. That, in Obama's world, can not be tolerated. That is why charities must be choked off and allowed to die. Especially faith-based institutions.

The only plausible explanation is that Obama's destruction of the economy is intentional.

It is based on a failed ideology that has never -- and can never -- succeed.

It is, I admit, an intriguing theory, but I don't buy it. Obama can't possibly want to be a one-term failure. That's what happened to Jimmy Carter, and Obama must know that it will happen to him, too, if his policies are perceived as dragging down the economy.

More likely the explanation is that Obama is an economic illiterate, and subscribes to the idea--which I think is rather common among Democrats--that what the government does has little impact on the economy. Obama likely believes that the economy will recover on its own, and in the meantime--in Rahm Emanuel's immortal words--he shouldn't let the crisis go to waste. So he enacts every left-wing measure that he wanted to do anyway, expecting that when the economy eventually recovers he can take credit for it, even though his policies, if anything, retarded and weakened the recovery.

That's a cynical strategy, although not quite as cynical as destroying the economy on purpose; the difference is that it may well work. - John Hinderacker Powerlineblog.com
5495  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants - America copying western Europe on: March 05, 2009, 12:57:12 PM
I posted recently in "Islam in Europe" that Sweden will host the Davis Cup tennis this weekend versus Israel in Sweden's third largest city Malmo and allow no spectators due to Sweden's inability to provide security.  Imagine if you will the Super Bowl, World Series or the Masters golf at Augusta played without spectators.  What a sad state of affairs that would be.

Curious, I looked a bit into the history and demographics of Malmo which is on the southern tip of Sweden, just a bridge away from Copenhagen, Denmark - home of the Islamic prophet cartoon controversy.  From Wikipedia:

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"By 1985, Malmö had lost 35,000 inhabitants and was down to 229,000. However, the toughest difficulties were yet to emerge. Between 1990-95, Malmö lost about 27,000 jobs, and its economy was seriously strained.

However, thanks to several government-funded projects, Malmö started to emerge as its current modern incarnation by 1995. Malmö has the highest proportion of individuals of non-Scandinavian extraction of any Swedish city. It remains a city of sharp social divide and high unemployment."
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Reviewing this Swedish 'border' experience, they built an economy on government funded projects (stimulus bill), they offer free health care to anyone, whether you work or not, whether you paid in or not, whether you are a citizen or not, and now they have a massive population of non-Swedish speaking, non-Scandinavian people with high unemployment, high crime and total lack of security - so bad that they are unable to host a tennis match.

And we want to copy them.

As we Americans head full-force toward becoming a United socialist State in the western European tradition of powerful central government with free-everything guaranteed it is interesting to note that Sweden, Canada and France have since elected right-leaning governments that are unable to put the socialist-welfare toothpaste back in the tube.   - Doug

5496  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics - The Way Forward for Democrats on: March 05, 2009, 12:14:39 PM
As Newt has pointed out, we need some common sense conservatism to emerge among Democrats and independents as well.  Looking to 2010, the entire House is up for election, but the recidivism rate is around 98-99% due to the advantages of incumbency.  The senate is even tougher to turn over because only about a third are up for election each cycle and of those, there are very few vulnerable, red-state Democrats.  Running the same calculations are those red-state Democrats who are up for reelection and wanting not to be vulnerable.  First to triangulate away from Pelosi-Obama is Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana.  Watch for North Dakota's Byron Dorgan to follow and for Harry Reid of Nevada to just continue to look confused. - Doug

Update: Russ Feingold (D-WI) also plans to vote no, not because he is centrist but because he is running for reelection in a state with mixed politics, where welfare reform began.
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http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123612545277023901.html

Deficits and Fiscal Credibility
A Democratic senator says no to a huge federal spending bill.

By EVAN BAYH

This week, the United States Senate will vote on a spending package to fund the federal government for the remainder of this fiscal year. The Omnibus Appropriations Act of 2009 is a sprawling, $410 billion compilation of nine spending measures that lacks the slightest hint of austerity from the federal government or the recipients of its largess.

The Senate should reject this bill. If we do not, President Barack Obama should veto it.

The omnibus increases discretionary spending by 8% over last fiscal year's levels, dwarfing the rate of inflation across a broad swath of issues including agriculture, financial services, foreign relations, energy and water programs, and legislative branch operations. Such increases might be appropriate for a nation flush with cash or unconcerned with fiscal prudence, but America is neither.

Drafted last year, the bill did not pass due to Congress's long-standing budgetary dysfunction and the frustrating delays it yields in our appropriations work. Since then, economic and fiscal circumstances have changed dramatically, which is why the Senate should go back to the drawing board. The economic downturn requires new policies, not more of the same.

Our nation's current fiscal imbalance is unprecedented, unsustainable and, if unaddressed, a major threat to our currency and our economic vitality. The national debt now exceeds $10 trillion. This is almost double what it was just eight years ago, and the debt is growing at a rate of about $1 million a minute.

Washington borrows from foreign creditors to fund its profligacy. The amount of U.S. debt held by countries such as China and Japan is at a historic high, with foreign investors holding half of America's publicly held debt. This dependence raises the specter that other nations will be able to influence our policies in ways antithetical to American interests. The more of our debt that foreign governments control, the more leverage they have on issues like trade, currency and national security. Massive debts owed to foreign creditors weaken our global influence, and threaten high inflation and steep tax increases for our children and grandchildren.

The solution going forward is to stop wasteful spending before it starts. Families and businesses are tightening their belts to make ends meet -- and Washington should too.

The omnibus debate is not merely a battle over last year's unfinished business, but the first indication of how we will shape our fiscal future. Spending should be held in check before taxes are raised, even on the wealthy. Most people are willing to do their duty by paying taxes, but they want to know that their money is going toward important priorities and won't be wasted.

Last week I was pleased to attend the president's White House Fiscal Responsibility Summit. It's about time we had a leader committed to addressing the deficit, and Mr. Obama deserves great credit for doing so. But what ultimately matters are not meetings or words, but actions. Those who vote for the omnibus this week -- after standing with the president and pledging to slice our deficit in half last week -- jeopardize their credibility.

As Indiana's governor, I balanced eight budgets, never raised taxes, and left the largest surplus in state history. It wasn't always easy. Cuts had to be made and some initiatives deferred. Occasionally I had to say "no."

But the bloated omnibus requires sacrifice from no one, least of all the government. It only exacerbates the problem and hastens the day of reckoning. Voters rightly demanded change in November's election, but this approach to spending represents business as usual in Washington, not the voters' mandate.

Now is the time to win back the confidence and trust of the American people. Congress should vote "no" on this omnibus and show working families across the country that we are as committed to living within our means as they are.

Mr. Bayh, a Democratic senator from Indiana, served as governor of Indiana from 1989 to 1997.
5497  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tax Policy - Consumption based tax, no income tax on: March 05, 2009, 10:13:51 AM
Coming back to Freki's points and enthusiasm toward the Fair Tax... I will answer and clarify some key points but I think we both made strong points already and neither was persuasive to the other.

Amending the constitution and REPEALING the authority for a federal income tax:  "Granted this is a real problem and the main obstacle to the fair tax, but you can not win a fight by standing idle."  - In rough terms, it would require around 75% popularity where we can't even win 50% approval to stop the current expansion of government and taxation complexity.  Ronald Reagan only won his first time with 51%.  With current demographics they say that total would only make 46%... 

Inclusive v. exclusive:  "...it is just in how you chose to do the math."  Yes, but the burden is on the proponents to blow the opponents argument out of the water.  When you calculate as an add-on sales tax, it is a 30% tax, which becomes a 37% sales tax in my state and I think as high as 39.5% in the highest sales tax locations.

"It is my understanding that even the government would pay the fair tax.  It was stated in the fair tax book and on their web page."  - But of course the government can't pay, we do.  The public sector, including counties, schools, roads, military and on and on comprises close to 40% of the economy, but let's say 30% of purchases.  While you strive to be 'revenue-neutral', it is implied that we will fund the same sized government.  Therefore, to be 'spending neutral' we need to raise and spend enough  additional to cover government's share of the tax.  By my math, the 30% sales tax becomes 40% which becomes 47% with state tax here and over 49% in the highest tax areas.

State Income Taxes, I wrote: "Unless you live in South Dakota or another location without a state income tax you will still need to file a complete income tax return including all of the schedules with the government every year. (Who really thinks the states will soon quit taxing income.)  Freki replied:  "These states with state income taxes I believe will fall into line once the people see how easy it is to do their taxes.  They will demand their states change.  The power of goverment lies with the people.  If this is no longer the case then our civilization is on the downward slope.  I still have hope we can fix it."

I chose South Dakota as the example because it is the nearest state to me (in MN) that has no income tax and because it sounds so remote.  In fact, seven states have no state income tax: Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington and Wyoming.   We come at this from different perspectives because I am in an oppressive, high tax state and I think you are in one with no state income tax.  I envy that, but keep in mind that most of the other 43 states are totally and completely addicted to the complicated and progressive taxation of income.  Imagine California today canceling it's income tax.  Is that realistic?

Freki wrote:  "What system do you prefer?  Where is your support going and why"

This is a great question which slowed down my response to think about this.

I think we should evaluate tax choices on many different levels, efficiency first - that is to raise the money while doing the least harm to the incentives that make the economy work.  Morality - I think there is a case to be made for right and wrong in the way that taxes are applied and debated, and of course trying to be politically realistic. 

If we were starting from scratch and creating a LOW tax, simple system to finance the basics of constitutional government, I think I would be with you and favor a small tax rate against consumption instead of income.  The founders had a tariff on imports which I would oppose,  but would accept an across the board tax applied to everything evenly at a very low rate.  In hindsight, it would have been far easier to defeat the income tax amendendment then than to repeal it now.

From where we are today, I think the outrage, the battle and the uprising has to be first aimed at spending.  We must tax enough to pay our bills, but our bills are out of control.  I just can't get excited enough to work decades and dedicate a part of my life to such a large cause as defeating almost everyone in the House and Senate to move this forward and take this movement across the land to pass it in 3/4th of the legislatures if the reward at the end is to have a revenue-neutral change in tax systems that funds all of the crazy programs, cradle to grave, that we currently demand.

I would like to see the current income tax simplified and applied more widely at much lower rates.  I actually think all income should be taxed at exactly the same rate no matter who earns it or how.  As a political matter I know that isn't going too happen, but we need everyone to have 'skin in the game'.  I would settle for a mildly progressive system with continuously variable rates that start with a very low rate on your first dollar of income and cap at something lower than what we have today, perhaps 24% with VERY FEW or no deductions.   If we could apply a tax rate more evenly across the electorate, then maybe we could lessen the demand for wasteful programs and spending.
5498  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: March 05, 2009, 09:04:11 AM
"...[Obama's] speech was formal, so that is the reason the Marines seem so stiff."

Yes, but the leaders and handlers in the front applaud and try to get some excitement going while the room of Marines remain stiff and silent.
5499  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tax Policy on: March 04, 2009, 02:53:17 PM
Seems diversionary to me to refer to (false IMO) numbers about an effective or average tax rate when it is the marginal tax rate that sets the disincentive to invest, expand, hire or build further.

Please document one major oil company that posted a record profit while paying next to nothing in taxes.
5500  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Energy Politics & Science on: March 02, 2009, 08:07:25 PM
It crosses my mind as I fill up at 1.80 per gallon that no one (not just here) points out the role that unaffordable energy played in collapsing the global economy.  I remember that gas used to be the example of inelastic demand.  As a country, we refused to drill, build or refine more product, but as consumers, our usage is a little bit inelastic in the short run and within certain ranges.  For example, when gas went from 50 cents to 60 cents or from 1.19 to 1.29 per gallon, people still lived the same distance from work, from church, from Grandma's house, from the store etc. so we bought the same amount of gas.  When we replaced our vehicle we still needed the same number of seats and hauled the same cargo. 

When gas prices double and triple, we started combining some trips and thinking about sharing rides with family, friends and co-workers.  At $4 per gallon and $80 per tank or at some higher number, we gradually change our usage but we keep buying the product until bankruptcy because we still need to get places to live our lives.  As consumers, gas was still a relatively small piece of the family budget. 

But as oil hit $120-$150 per barrel, there were places around the globe less prosperous than the US that cried uncle first.  All the data seems to indicate that the current downturn hit the rest of the world first and hardest.  Factories shut down and workers were laid off.  That leaves me to believe that energy prices around the world, not just Fannie, Freddie and other US shenanigans, played a major role in the global meltdown.

Today we don't talk about energy shortage because gas prices are artificially low.  But they are low because of financial ruin.  If/when the economy rebounds around the world, we still have the same energy shortage or worse that we had.

Instead of addressing the energy shortage, the far-left machine is hellbent on crippling supplies for the future.  Somewhere in that debacle is an opportunity for an out of power party to gain traction and bring forward a positive agenda.
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