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5451  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Obama Must Come Clean on Libya Attacks - Des Moines Register on: November 21, 2012, 08:32:13 AM
Yesterday's Des Moines Register editorial:

Obama Must Come Clean on Libya Attacks

This nation has a long list of serious problems that it must deal with following the election of a new Congress. The last thing it needs is a protracted political fight over who knew what when surrounding the murders of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three U.S. government employees in Benghazi, Libya.

Some critics of the Obama administration, including Republicans in Congress, are determined to inflate the Benghazi attack into a full-blown scandal. President Obama’s administration seems determined to follow the standard script for Washington by sticking to the original story line, apparently in the hope it eventually will go away.

But this story is not going away.

So the first thing that should happen is the administration should lay out the events in detail and let the chips fall where they may. If someone along the line shaded or changed the facts, as they were known, to protect the administration, let that be known. If that means someone has to take the fall, so be it.

Members of Congress in both parties are asking questions about why the administration’s public statements about the origins of the attack contradicted early intelligence information that it was planned by terrorist groups, with the aid of al-Qaida, and timed for the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

Contrary to that intelligence information, administration officials initially said the attack was an outgrowth of spontaneous demonstrations in the Middle East spawned by an anti-Muslim video. The theory is that evidence of a premeditated terrorist attack would have undermined the administration’s assertion that it had crippled al-Qaida by taking out Osama bin Laden and other leaders of the terrorist organization behind the 9/11 attacks.

It’s a serious charge. Ginning up intelligence information to explain foreign policy is wrong, whether it’s to protect a president seeking re-election or whether it’s used by an earlier president to justify going to war.

If that’s what happened, the public should have all the facts. The sooner relevant information is put out, the better. Rather than hunkering down, the Obama administration should make all key State Department and CIA officials available to Congress with instructions to answer every question and turn over every document.

This could be embarrassing. It could force some officials to say they were wrong. It may cause problems for United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice’s chances at winning a nomination as secretary of state. But that is far better than the alternative.

As President Richard Nixon discovered during Watergate, a “two-bit burglary” resulted in the downfall of a president as a result of an elaborate effort to conceal of the facts. That is the lesson the Obama administration should keep in mind as it lays out the complete story of the Benghazi attack.

The nation needs to get this controversy behind us so we can focus on the pressing matter of the federal government’s financial problems.
5452  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: November 20, 2012, 11:27:26 PM
I have more questions than answers.  I don't understand what is the other side of the story.

Hamas was sending rockets with into Israeli neighborhoods.  It does not require much killing to accomplish terror and elicit a response; more would have been killed if not for Israel air defense.

Israel is known to fight back disproportionately; this is nothing new.  They intend to both disable the source of the bombings and provide a deterrence for attacks.  If the disproportionate response does not deter, why would we expect less of a response? 

Now we all go to the peace table (again) and negotiate what?  A piece of paper that again, with a straight face, says never again. 

There is something bizarre about this.  What did Hamas intend to accomplish?   Was Hamas intentionally baiting a disproportional Israeli attack to take more casualties and make Israel look bad?

Israel wants survival and peace and has strong defense and strong counter-punch.  Hamas wants the destruction of Israel.  US stands with Israel but takes no side?  We step in and say, come on guys, can't we all get along.  That ought to do it.

Why are we not siding with our ally under attack rather than taking a neutral role? 

Does say one thing but do another work effectively in foreign policy?

5453  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Housing/Mortgage/Real Estate on: November 20, 2012, 09:21:52 PM
Interesting point from Pat that median price can tell more about which homes are selling than whether values going up or down.  Median home price is not a fixed unit of measure like an ounce of gold, bushel of corn or barrel of oil.

Housing starts may help construction employment but lack of housing starts is what bolsters the value of existing homes.  The two different charts seem to confirm that.

A sustained move to multi-unit construction might mean some existing homes will never face increasing demand or recovering values.

I wonder how much of multi-unit construction is driven by public investment and 'public-private partnerships' (meddling) rather than any indicator of a private sector recovery.

An aside, my last multi-unit went the way of a Kelo-style public taking from private ownership to new, subsidized, quasi-private ownership with the non-consensual transfer performed by the big city department of fascism.  Liberals upscale the inner city by using government power and taxpayer funds to force out the working poor.  Making investments that don't even pretend to pay for themselves.  a.k.a. the housing 'market'.
5454  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Issues in the American Creed (Constitutional Law and related matters) on: November 17, 2012, 02:43:14 PM

That Scalia is a flaming liberal - like Roberts.   wink

Is there no freedom of association anymore?

The colonists, signers of the Declaration of Independence (and framers) believed they had a right of secession, judging by their actions.

Secession issue was "resolved by the Civil War" - ?

The Civil War was 'resolved' before the passage and ratification of the 19th amendment, the right of women to vote.  Women tend to be anti-war.  Women will not support civil war and America will never (I am told) support a war against women. 

I would like to see a red-blue secessional overlay jurisdictional map involving maximum consent of the governed.  Republicans can tax themselves and pay extra for national defense.  Democrats can tax themselves and pay for welfare and transfer programs.  We could have cooperative agreements (imagine that) where both sides pay for legitimate functions of government.
5455  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Allen West gets recount! on: November 17, 2012, 02:15:41 PM
Now that they have the recount, I'm not sure why this group is asking for more money...

Recounts involve (guns,) lawyers and money.  The Al Franken / Norm Coleman (Obamacare) recount was an 8 month legal battle.  Disputed ballots far outnumbered the initial and final margins of victory.,_2008

Recounting precincts that had 150% turnout, retrieving boxes of uncounted ballots from the trunks of cars takes time, verifying the permanent address of felons serving life without parole, these things aren't easy.  It's not like they just sit around and count valid ballots. 

Besides, raising money is what 'non-profits' do for a living!
5456  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Tax Policy: Why Lower Tax Rates Are Good for Everyone on: November 16, 2012, 08:43:33 AM
Is it counter-intuitive?  Why is this so hard to understand much less explain?
Stephen Moore: Why Lower Tax Rates Are Good for Everyone
If we want millionaires to pay more taxes, then we need an economy where there are more millionaires.

By STEPHEN MOORE  (WSJ) 11/15/2012

President Obama on Wednesday announced that any budget deal must include $1.6 trillion from higher taxes. "When it comes to the top 2%," he said, "what I'm not going to do is to extend further a tax cut for folks who don't need it." He argued that we are never going to get anywhere near balancing the budget without more revenue from people earning above $250,000 a year.

He's probably right about that, though not in the way he intends. The country needs an economy that will create more of the "millionaires and billionaires" that Mr. Obama loves to excoriate, not more taxes from those who already exist. Total taxes paid by millionaires fell by almost $100 billion between 2007 and 2010, the last year with statistics available from the Internal Revenue Service. The drop resulted not from too-low tax rates, but from the severe recession and an anemic recovery since 2009 that thinned the ranks of the wealthy.
Related Video

Editorial board member Steve Moore on the GOP's stand-off with President Obama over raising taxes. Photo credit: Getty Images.

If Mr. Obama wants the Warren Buffetts and Justin Biebers to shoulder more of the nation's tax burden, he would do well to pay attention to the history of tax rates. Over the past century, lower rates have shifted the tax burden onto high-income earners and away from the middle class while maintaining the tax code's progressivity.

Let's start with the 1920s. All tax rates were cut during the Calvin Coolidge administration, including the top rate, which fell to 25% from the World War I high of 73%. Between 1923 and 1928, benefited by lower tax rates, the economy surged, raising incomes and living standards for the middle class. Tax collections in real terms nearly doubled—and the share of taxes paid by those who made more than $100,000 a year (more than $1 million today) increased to 51% from 28%.

The top tax rate rose to 63% in 1932, to 79% in 1936, and to 90% during World War II. The higher rates persisted after the war, and while the economy grew as the government's economic role ebbed, high rates generally helped to hold back the pace of growth.

Enlarge Image

Tax rates weren't reduced much until the Kennedy administration. JFK cut rates by about 30% for every income group. He argued that the lower tax rates would "boost the economy, produce revenues, and achieve a future budget surplus." He even called lower rates "an investment in the future."

The Kennedy tax cut was enacted in 1964 (after JFK's assassination), lowering the highest tax rate to 70% from 91%. His prediction that the economy would surge was validated by rapid growth every year from 1965 through 1968. Tax collections grew by 8.6% per year and unemployment fell to 3.4%. "The unusual budget spectacle of sharply rising revenues following the biggest tax cut in history," announced a 1966 U.S. News and World Report article, "is beginning to astonish even those who pushed hardest for tax cuts in the first place."

Americans earning over $50,000 per year (the equivalent of about $250,000 today) increased their tax payments by nearly 40% after the rate cut, according to a report from the Joint Economic Committee of Congress. Their share of overall taxes paid rose to almost 15% in 1966 from 12% in 1963. Americans with an income of more than $1 million nearly doubled their tax payments to $603 million in 1965 from $311 million in 1962.

President Reagan cut all tax rates across the board in his first term, with the highest rate reduced to 50% from 70%. That was followed a few years later with the 1986 Tax Reform Act, which closed loopholes and lowered the top tax rate to 28%.

The economy soared in the 1980s and the unemployment rate plunged after the mini-depression of 1978-82. Tax rates fell but federal revenues rose to $1.032 trillion in 1990 from $517 billion in 1980.

Taxes paid by the wealthiest Americans facing the highest marginal tax rates increased every year during the 1980s expansion. Meanwhile, the share of total income taxes paid by the top 1% rose to 25% in 1990 from 18% in 1981. The wealthiest 5% of Americans saw their tax share rise to 44% from 35%. The surge in revenues was the result of prosperity that was largely spurred by tax-rate cuts. The increase in government deficits during that period, on the other hand, was due to higher federal spending.

In 2003, President George W. Bush signed legislation that cut the top income tax rate to 35% from 39.6% and cut taxes on capital gains, too. Federal tax revenues surged by a record $780 billion from 2003-07, when the housing bubble collapsed. And once again, the rich paid more tax, not less. The share of taxes paid by the top 1% rose to 41% in 2007 from 35% in 2003. Tax payments by millionaires doubled from 2003 to 2007 because there were more millionaires and their before-tax incomes rose rapidly.

It is also true that when Bill Clinton raised tax rates in the 1990s, the economy boomed and the share of taxes paid by the rich increased. But the otherwise depressive effect of higher tax rates was counteracted by the lighter burden of government on the private sector—federal spending declined to 18% of GDP in 2000 from 22% in 1993.

A cut in spending is the economic equivalent of a cut in taxes now, or later. This point is effectively conceded by Mr. Obama demanding that his spending and borrowing binge of the past four years must be paid for by a giant increase in taxes over the next decade.

Some liberals acknowledge these fiscal facts of life but argue that tax revenues from the wealthy increased simply because the rich got richer. And so they did. But the economic growth that was touched off by lower tax rates, particularly in the 1960s and 1980s, also benefited middle-class incomes and living standards. If Mr. Obama has his way and raises tax rates on upper-income groups, it will slow the economy, and everyone will lose.
5457  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: November 15, 2012, 08:43:05 PM
Isn't he dead?

Kemp died in 2009, Dole is 88.

Bob Dole wrote in August 2012 that Republicans need to move to the middle, away from rigid conservatism.

In '96 Dole won 19 states.  Jack Kemp had no idea how to defend Dole's centrist record - a little like Paul Ryan in 2012.
5458  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: POTB (Pravda on the Beach): GM is wrong on: November 15, 2012, 06:33:46 PM
If tax rate hikes bring prosperity, why not raise them further, and on everyone?

The forum (search function) is a time machine.  Soon enough we will know who was right, the LA Times or our poster GM.
5459  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / BO in 2006 on the meaning of a 3% win. on: November 15, 2012, 06:20:46 PM
"Maybe peace would have broken out with a different kind of White House, one less committed to waging a perpetual campaign--a White House that would see a 51-48 victory as a call to humility and compromise rather than an irrefutable mandate."

   - The junior Senator from Illinois, Audacity of Hope, 2006, p.20, regarding George W Bush's reelection in 2004
5460  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 10 ways to protect your retirement savings on: November 15, 2012, 01:20:47 PM
WSJ falls behind on its reading of the forum.  Just now catching up on the coming crash:

Summarizing this long piece:  Sell.  Take point 1 for example, "Set aside 12 months of living expenses".  A full year of expenses in cash ought to get most people out of the market.  What is the downward price momentum after every investor sells off a full year's salary worth of equities?

Point 2, "Rebalance assets" also means sell equities.  So does point 3,
"Strategic asset allocation", point 4 "Avoid dividend-paying stocks", and especially point 6, "Harvest long-term capital gains", all equal sell.  Expect a GDP decline of 5% if the fiscal cliff cuts all materialize.  Who has been saying that?  These guys (WSJ/Marketwatch) have no shame in re-publishing our material.

Current environment is more like a “storm watch” rather than a “storm alert”. Really?  Maybe today or tomorrow Obama, Pelosi, Schumer and the House Republicans will all come together with a great big, budget balancing, free enterprise expanding deal (and the Vikings might win the Super Bowl).  To their credit, the piece was written before the Pres. started launching rockets and missiles at his opposition in yesterday's press conference.

Retiring on the edge of the fiscal cliff
10 ways to protect your retirement savings

By Robert Powell, MarketWatch

One of the biggest risks that retirees and pre-retirees face is that of taxes; not just paying them but the risk that tax policy will change and throw a big wrench into one’s plans.

Well, that risk—in the form of the fiscal cliff—is now upon us and retirees and pre-retirees must now develop a plan of action for their portfolio should all, some, or none of the scheduled tax changes and spending cuts become a reality on Jan. 1.

“The ‘fiscal cliff’ may affect retirees, pre-retirees and the economy as a whole unless Congress acts,” said Thomas DiLorenzo, manager in the Employee Financial Services group at Ernst & Young LLP.

According DiLorenzo, increased taxes—higher income, higher dividend, and capital gains tax rates—are the primary personal finance concern as the Bush-era tax cuts are set to expire for all individuals. Among the changes:

    Marginal tax rates will rise from 10%, 15%, 25%, 28%, 33% and 35% in 2012 to 15%, 28%, 31%, 36% and 39.6% in 2013.

    The 15% maximum long -term capital gains rates will revert to 20% and qualified dividend rates will increase from 15% to being taxed at an individual’s marginal tax rate.

    Earned income tax credit, child tax credit, and the American Opportunity credits will all be reduced.

    Itemized deductions and personal exemptions will become subject to phaseout.

    Estate and gift tax exemption will drop from $5.12 million to $1 million and the top estate tax rate will go from 35% to 55%.

    And while not part of the Bush tax cuts, the 2% FICA tax reduction that has been in place for the past two years would also expire at the end of this year.

In addition, the lower Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) exemption that is currently in place for 2012 would result in many more individuals being subject to the AMT if the exemption amount is not increased as it has been in previous years..

While there is still time for Congress to take action and every individual’s situation will be different depending upon their facts and circumstances, experts including DiLorenzo said retirees and pre-retirees ought to consider the following given that the fiscal cliff might become a reality.

Read related story, 5 fiscal-cliff tax moves for retirement savers.

Set aside 12 months of living expenses

Things might get a little bumpy as we approach the fiscal cliff. So, Stephen Smith, a vice president at Noesis Capital Management, recommends that retirees and pre-retirees set aside 10 to 12 months of living expenses in a money-market fund. “That should provide a cushion so that their investment portfolio can be managed according to their respective time frame and circumstances, with less regard for volatility over a six-month period,” he said.

Rebalance assets

In the event that we do go over the fiscal cliff for more than just a few weeks of 2013, “the ramifications could be quite significant,” according to a UBS Wealth Management Report.

So retirees and pre-retirees might consider how they will allocate their assets given any number of scenarios that could play out as we near the fiscal cliff.

In a worst-case scenario, for instance, UBS reports that there will be severe double-digit losses for U.S. and cyclical non-U.S. equities; U.S. Treasuries and highly-rated non-U.S.-government bonds will rally and credit spreads will spike across the board; the U.S. dollar and other safe-haven currencies will rally; and there will be severe double-digit declines in the broad commodity indexes, with energy and base metals being the most affected.

In its report, UBS outlined four other possible scenarios, including a scenario where lawmakers design a best-case grand bargain that avoids the fiscal cliff. In this scenario, UBS predicts that there will be a rally in stocks, fueled by multiple expansion and stronger earnings growth; Treasury yields will rise modestly, but remain low; the U.S. dollar will rise; and commodities won’t fall.

Others, however, have a different point of view. “Although tax policy for 2013 remains highly contingent on the outcome of U.S. Presidential elections—we think that most likely scenarios continue to favor our themes of preferring large cap over small cap and dividend payers/growers over non-payers,” said Lisa Shalett, CIO and head of Investment Management and Guidance for Merrill Lynch Wealth Management.

Strategic asset allocation

While many agree that you need to develop a plan for the best- and worst-case scenarios, some suggest that you consider what’s called strategic asset allocation.

“Investors should, in my view, one, have a plan for what to do if valuation levels in the current stock market go up or go down substantially; and two, adhere to that plan—strictly,” said Ron Rhoades, assistant professor at Alfred State College and the president of ScholarFi Inc.

According to Rhoades, the current valuation level of the overall U.S. stock market is currently slightly below normal levels seen over the past 30 years, perhaps 0% to 10% below mean valuation levels. “Given the substantial rise in equities which has occurred this year, and the macroeconomic risks present, a prudent investor might desire to ‘take gains off the table’ at present,” he said. “This would be done by selling longer-duration bonds and/or equities, and reinvesting in short-term bond funds or CDs. This would serve to minimize the risk present in a downturn.”

Rhoades is not suggesting that investors time the market with tactical asset allocation. Rather, he suggests “adopting a prudent long-term strategic asset allocation and undertake tax-efficient rebalancing of the portfolio on a periodic, perhaps quarterly or semiannually, basis…This forces the investor to ‘sell high’ and ‘buy low’—to a degree.”

Tactical moves

For investors with significant equity positions in their portfolio who might not want to reduce that allocation, Jeff Witt, the director of research at Private Asset Management, recommends buying longer-term put options on the S&P 500 index as a type of “insurance” for your portfolio. “Investors could also look at buying the VIX Index (either through Futures contracts or ETFs), which has traditionally been negatively correlated with the broader market,” he said. “These investments could lessen the impact of a potential pull back in the equity market, should one occur.”

For fixed-income investors, Witt said higher taxes should make tax-exempt municipal bonds relatively more attractive. “Therefore, for taxable accounts, repositioning a portfolio toward a higher concentration of municipal bonds might make sense,” he said.

Roger Aliaga-Diaz, an economist at Vanguard said in a recent webcast that investors should not move out of fixed-income assets. “You want to hold part of your portfolio in fixed income, only because of this low correlation to equities,” he said. “Only because in the situation like a fiscal cliff you would see the bond part of your portfolio really to buffer and to push in the impact on the more risky part.” Read the transcript of Aliaga-Diaz’ webcast.

Avoid dividend-paying stocks?

Others, meanwhile, say that retirees and pre-retirees need to rebalance their portfolios for the coming fiscal cliff, but suggest avoiding dividend-paying stocks.

“Normally in a down economy, investors might want a defensive stock with a high dividend,” said Lukas Dean, an assistant professor at William Paterson University. he said. “But with dividend rates taking such a significant increase, it is doubtful that investors will be as prone to turn that traditional safe haven.”

Witt is of the same opinion. “Should the Bush tax cuts be allowed to expire, the tax rate on dividends will increase,” he said. And that would make dividend-paying stocks relatively less attractive to income investments such as master limited partnerships and high-yield bonds. “We believe the utility and telecommunication services sectors are most at risk, as these sectors traditionally have high yields and relatively low growth rates,” Witt said. “Furthermore, both appear to be trading at fairly stretched valuations.”

Asset location

Experts often recommend that you not only make sure your assets are allocated based on your investment goals, but that those assets are also located in the right types of accounts. So, DiLorenzo recommends reviewing which assets you hold in your taxable and tax-deferred accounts and shuffling things around if need be. Move, for instance, the most tax-sensitive investments—dividend-paying stocks and fixed-income securities—from taxable to tax-deferred accounts, and move investments such as growth stocks that don’t pay a dividend from tax-deferred account to a taxable account. Doing so will improve your after-tax wealth and income.

In short, you want to optimize your use of tax-deferred account such as IRAs, 401(k)s and populate them with the most tax-sensitive (ordinary income) instruments,” said Shalett.

Speaking of trying to create tax-efficient income, Shalett also suggests using more tax-efficient investments and accounts, such as single stocks, separately managed accounts, and ETFs

Harvest long-term capital gains

Shalett also recommends rebalancing your portfolio before year-end with an eye toward tax management and harvesting of losses vs. gains, especially long-term gains. Selling assets that qualify for long-term capital gain treatment in 2012 will lock in the maximum 15% long-term capital gains rate, said DiLorenzo.

According to Paul Mauro, the managing partner of Legacy Financial Advisors, Inc. what moves you make with your portfolio will depend also on your level of income, not just your assets. So for instance, taxpayers who are in the 15% tax bracket and who would qualify to pay 0% on long-term capital gains might consider selling, for instance, their second home, assuming of course they have a gain on the property.

Prepare for a recession?

To be sure, it’s wise to prepare your prepare your portfolio for the coming fiscal cliff. But it’s also wise to contemplate what might happen to the economy and prepare for that as well.

It will be up to this postelection session of Congress to address this issue, according to a recent report by Jeff Applegate, the chief investment officer of Morgan Stanley Wealth Management.

What’s more, Applegate reminds us that the Congressional Budget Office has warned that failure to reduce the fiscal drag risks recession in 2013 and that Moody’s has warned that the US credit rating is at risk for another downgrade.

“Postelection, we think an agreement will take place to significantly mitigate and delay the fiscal cliff,” he said. “We expect most or all of the tax cuts will be extended for a year, but extended jobless benefits and payroll-tax reductions will lapse. We also expect Congress to override planned defense-spending cuts that are built into the automatic sequester. In all, a fiscal drag of 1% to 2% of GDP seems most likely to us, as opposed to the estimated 5% if all the cutbacks take effect.”

And lessening the drag reduces the near-term risk of recession, he said.

Don’t make bad decisions

“People are well aware of the potential problems because of the fiscal cliff,” said Gary Thayer, the chief macro strategist at Wells Fargo Advisors. “People need to understand what’s at stake. But we can’t predict the outcome yet.”

With the election over, however, Thayer said, there will be some better guidance. “Prior to the election, there was just a lot of speculation because neither party was really putting out substantive proposals until they knew there’s a chance that they can get something enacted.”

For the record, Thayer doesn’t think the worst-case situation is going to happen. “So, we are not telling people to panic or get too defensive,” said Thayer. “If the worst-case scenario doesn’t happen, the prospects for the economy remain favorable. But we can’t say for sure what’s going to happen. Right now things are sort of in limbo.”

Thayer likens the current environment to a “storm watch” rather than a “storm alert.”

“We don’t want to say that this is going to happen, but if there’s a storm watch, you pay attention but you don’t necessarily go to the basement,” Thayer said. “You don’t want to be making decisions about something that may not happen.”
5461  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Housing/Mortgage/Real Estate on: November 15, 2012, 12:33:30 PM
Great post by PP! 

Absurd to think we live in an economy mostly based on free enterprise when you look at energy, transportation, healthcare, agriculture or housing.  Take just housing for the moment.  What would the market interest rate be for mortgages if not for federal intervention?  No one knows exactly.

Pat wrote: "3. Higher rates = less affordability = lower sales = decreasing sales values."

Illustrate that with a hypothetical example: 

Assume a house has a 200,000 selling price today with all borrowed money (for simplicity) at 3%. The same payment would only yield a 140,000 price if/when interest rates jump to 6%, 96,000 at 10%, and 76,000 at 1980-83 interest rate levels (13%).  Same house, same buyer, same payment, but 30-62% of the value is lost in some historically possible, rising interest rate scenarios. 
5462  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: real media bias on: November 15, 2012, 11:31:50 AM

Yes!  But the blame goes to the audience rather than the media outlet IMO.  In fast and furious, a dead border agent story could not buy interest in the story.  Sex with a General/former General, that's a story!  Petraeus bridges the media double standard.  Dems see him as the guy who prosecuted the Iraq war for Bush (not for America, "Betray-us", 'you must suspend belief in reality to listen to him') and R's see him as an Obama appointee, even a potential whistle blower in the Obama administration.
“This is about something else entirely, and the truth will come out,” Broadwell’s dad, Paul Krantz, told the Daily News outside his home in Bismarck, N.D.

“There is a lot more that is going to come out,” said Krantz, claiming he was not allowed to elaborate. “You wait and see. There’s a lot more here than meets the eye.”

Whatever that means...
5463  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Scalia: NFW on secession on: November 15, 2012, 11:12:43 AM
A 28th amendment specifically authorizing secession for states and/or individuals might be easier to pass and ratify than the next budget deal.

Pondering secession aloud is still legal but dangerous to one's future political prospects.

A political compromise short of secession would be for congress and legislatures to offer opt out plans to individuals, the ability to not have to pay into or receive from a myriad of controversial and inefficient government programs. 

5464  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The electoral process, vote fraud, SEIU/ACORN et al, corruption etc. on: November 13, 2012, 07:40:16 PM
In a strange set of coincidences, Pres. Obama lost in all states that require Voter ID.
5465  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government programs - Food Stamps, numbers, dollars and causes on: November 13, 2012, 06:43:34 PM
Taken from GMs decline/fall post, Washington Post - home of some of the most widely read 'fact checkers' wrote:

"Nearly 47 million Americans rely on federal food assistance benefits, a 12-year high attributed to the weak U.S. economy and high rates of unemployment over the last five years."

A '12-year high'?!?  No.  It's an ALL TIME HIGH.  12 Years ago 17.2 million people were on foods stamps.  It has almost tripled in 12 years.

The program has been growing every year, weak economy or not.  51 consecutive months of job growth and it grew the whole time. Source: Washington Post.  Who knew?  It grew and not because of a weak economy or expanding unemployment.

The number of recipients grows because we are talking about FREE FOOD!
5466  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Decline, Fall, and Resurrection of America on: November 13, 2012, 02:34:35 PM
GM, Same college students now own our debt. 
5467  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Why did AQ want to kill Amb. Stevens? on: November 13, 2012, 01:43:16 PM
Emerging from the chaos is a dim understanding that the U.S. was operating a clandestine arms operation from the CIA post that was loosely — and incorrectly — described as a “consulate.”

If so, the term 'Ambassador' was a rather loose and incorrect title for the man running the operation.
5468  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tax Policy - The Macrcoeconomic Effects of Tax Changes on: November 13, 2012, 01:37:09 PM
I get that, but perhaps the $80B number I have seen is the 1%ers tax PLUs the revenues from the other tax increases (e.g. the increase in the tax on dividends)?

That could be.  What we know for sure is that quoting the static number is to quote a known falsehood.  The reaction to a major policy change will not be static.  See Romer and Romer:

Robert Rubin had a piece today in the NY Times not worth posting.  He goes through the deduction and loophole closing possibilities and decides they aren't worth it.  Then comes back to favoring tax rate hikes on the rich that also close no gap and spur no growth.

Broken record: We increase revenues significantly only with pro-growth policies.  We rejected that in the Presidential race and in the Senate, but not in the House.
The President is the so-called leader of the free world.  He needs to find where he has common ground with the House, get something positive passed or we all live with the consequences.

I would stay as far to the sideline as possible while this plays out.  There is a lot that still can go wrong.
“Tax increases appear to have a very large, sustained, and highly significant negative impact on output.” - Former Chief Obama Economic Adviser Cristina Romer

From the Forbes link above:

A powerful analysis by  President Barack Obama’s first Chair of his Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) indicates the President’s proposed tax increases would kill the economic recovery and throw nearly 1 million Americans out of work.  Those are the extraordinary implications of academic research by Christina D. Romer, who chaired the CEA from January 28, 2009 – September 3, 2010.  In a paper entitled: “The Macrcoeconomic Effects of Tax Changes” published by the prestigious American Economic Review in June 2010 (during her tenure at the White House), she stated: “In short, tax increases appear to have a very large, sustained, and highly significant negative impact on output.”
5469  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Abortion on: November 13, 2012, 01:07:54 PM
Doug: "pro-life conservatism defeats 'unadulterated liberty' by about 50-1 in the electoral marketplace."
BBG: "I'm assuming the "50-1" is a typo as it certainly isn't reflected in any polling I've encountered."

Mitt Romney 59 million, Gary Johnson 1 million, for one example, or almost any race, any state, any year.  That's all I was saying there.

You didn't address my question, liberty for whom - meaning who protects the unborn, the most innocent among us.

Liberty to me is that freedom that runs wild through us - right up to the point where it starts to harm someone else. 

If one takes the extreme pro-choice view that the unborn is nothing, then defining liberty is simple, abortion kills nothing.  That is fine, but I doubt most Democrats or even Libertarians agree with that, much less Republicans. 

"Repubs tend to nominate folks the Dems can cast as right wing abortion zealots, and that ability costs elections."

Republicans could learn from these mistakes and nominate pro-lifers who merely declare that belief like Romney, Bush and Reagan did, show proper revulsion toward rape and all its consequences and go on to address other issues.

Similar to what I wrote about Aiken and Mourdock not advancing their own cause, only in the wildest dreams of the statists should the pro-liberty and the pro-life factions split up. 

"Isn't Planned Parenthood a private organization that receives public monies?"

Yes.  At least ACORN never killed anyone.

"The Dem. campaign seemed to purposely elevate PP to some sort of entitlement status; the Repubs had no effective response."

An axiom of this election is that a lie (or a really bad idea) not immediately refuted is scored as a debate point won.
5470  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Abortion on: November 13, 2012, 12:04:30 PM
"A two part question:
a)  WHY do most of us include incest along with rape as a valid reason for abortion?
b) Is it not that incest leads to children with birth defects?
c) Therefore should we not be restating the standard as "rape and/or birth defects" to be logically consistent?"

Crafty, I disagree; I think that was a 3-part question.   grin

a) I don't know, but to me it has something to do with that with incest like rape the pregnancy resulted from an inappropriate relationship.
b) That may be true, but my guess is what I described above.  A kid born to parents who are brother/sister, mother/son etc. enters life with a host of problems beyond birth defects.
c) "Logically consistent" is what set up these pro-life candidates for the rape abortion political trap. I am not comfortable or informed enough to comment on abortion for birth defect reasons from a law-writing perspective.  We are all defective so that would be tricky line to write in law as more and more testing is possible. 

Your probing questions stand for others to address. 

My main point over time on this thread is about the moral question ahead of the legal question.  You don't ban abortions when 50% of the people think there is nothing wrong with killing an unborn no different than you or me at the same point in the womb.  From my point of view you first try to change hearts and minds.

My main point in yesterday's post was that rape is for certain one of the exceptions that will be included if we ever do write meaningful restrictions.  Unite on that point and unite on your point that it is a state right and move the most divisive of issues off of the front burner, so that we can build a better coalition on the other political issues.
5471  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The US in a multipolar world on: November 12, 2012, 02:03:25 PM
Some great points in there and some with which I differ.  Iraq war total will be $6 trillion is quite an assertion.  Raising a tax rate is not synonymous with raising revenue.  Some parts of the title American Decline I think he doesn't address, economic decline to me is central to why our influence is on a path of decline.  I would confront it economically.

He doesn't claim to have any easy answer, but makes a good series of points that we know how to fight, not how to win or how to end wars.  He makes a strong argument for less intervention.  It is not clear to me what we should have done instead.

I should add, glad that you posted it.  BD has a reading list wider than some of the rest of us!

5472  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Abortion politics and rape on: November 12, 2012, 12:20:39 PM
Some follow up to points made elsewhere:

From the Presidential 2012 thread,

Bigdog questioned:  "What does the fact that all of the "rape" congressional candidates lost (Mourdock and Akin, the latter decisively in an election that he once had 7-9% lead in)?"

BBG Wrote:  "Will it drive unmarried women into the statist camp over abortion, or will it embrace liberty?" ...
"I entertain no illusions: most who oppose abortion will be unable to support a message of unadulterated liberty."

CCP: "What policies, stands, and attitudes are faulty? ... Because a few evangelicals made foolish political comments about abortion?"

Doug (me) from Media Issues: "What bill or constitutional amendment that might pass in the Senate would ban abortion for pregnancies resulting from rape?  There are none."  ...  "Rape abortions make up about .05% of all abortions.  The non-existent controversy makes a useful diversion from focusing on convenience abortions that comprise more than 98% of abortions"... 
What have we learned?

1) Gallup May 2012 (from further up the thread): Pro-choice 41%, Pro-life 50%.  Speaking in general terms about respect for life including the unborn is not bad politics and did not cost Republicans the election.  To BBG, pro-life conservatism defeats 'unadulterated liberty' by about 50-1 in the electoral marketplace.  The question comes back to liberty for whom?  Libertarians can choose which party generally supports more liberty.  Pro-lifers don't give up that view over budget issues or political advantage.  It is mostly hard-care liberals who fully deny any value to unborn life, while the politically successful ones utter things like personally opposed, safe, legal and RARE to satisfy their own constituents.

2) Crafty wrote in 2009, "The correct solution is to let the democratic republican principle work it out in each of the 50 states."  Blackmun may not concur, but having conservatives, libertarians, Republicans and even independents agree that it is a matter best left to the states is a political compromise that can remove it from the unresolvable front page of our federal elections.

3) The tragedy of abortion is that millions of developing human beings are killed for no good reason; 98% for convenience-related reasons of the mother is what I have drawn out of published Planned Parenthood surveys.  In the case of rape, 'no good reason' IS NOT TRUE.  This should not require further explanation(!) but we try to make a crime victim whole which does not include a forced, lifelong link of parenting with her rapist.  If a pro-life extremist does not understand or agree from a religious perspective, then understand it from a political perspective - or don't run for high office with major party endorsement. 

4) If Roe were ever overturned (this election moved us a LONG way in the other direction), if the issue were ever returned to the states, or to the extent as Bigdog points out some of that power is already at the state level, Republicans screening their candidates from now on need to make sure and make it publicly known that abortion services will continue to be available in 50 states for rape, incest and life of the mother.

5) Pro-lifers should exercise their own right of privacy when you ponder the theoretical value of a human life conceived in rape.  Doing so with reporters in a campaign is not how you advance a pro-life cause, save any unborn lives, win the women's vote or win any election in even a most conservative pro-life state.

6) Stupid things said by Republicans in one or two states are used to deflate and defeat Republicans who said no such thing in 48 or 49 other states.  Also not how you advance your own cause.  The story from the nice local reporter who caught you with your guard down will get enormous, national legs.  Posted previously:
"The New York Times and Washington Post have both run nearly 100 pieces over the last 3 months mentioning the GOP and rape." 
5473  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Mia Love lost in Utah on: November 12, 2012, 11:01:14 AM
This was one of the most disappointing results.  The 36 year old mayor of Saratoga Springs was a big hit at the 2012 RNC, close to becoming the first African-American female Republican elected to Congress.
5474  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: The Hard Fiscal Facts on: November 12, 2012, 10:35:17 AM
Start with the chart:

The Hard Fiscal Facts
Individual tax payments are up 26% in the last two years.

While the rest of America was holding an election last week, the gnomes at the Congressional Budget Office released the final budget totals for fiscal 2012. They're worth reporting because they illuminate the real fiscal choices that confront the country, as opposed to the posturing you'll be hearing over the next few weeks.

The nearby table lays out the ugly details. The feds rolled up another $1.1 trillion deficit for the year that ended September 30, which was the biggest deficit since World War II, except for each of the previous three years. President Obama can now proudly claim the four largest deficits in modern history. As a share of GDP, the deficit fell to 7% last year, which was still above any single year of the Reagan Presidency, or any other year since Truman worked in the Oval Office.

Tax revenue kept climbing, up 6.4% for the year overall, and at $2.45 trillion it is now close to the historic high it reached in fiscal 2007 before the recession hit. Mr. Obama won't want you to know this, but this revenue increase is occurring under the Bush tax rates that he so desperately wants to raise in the name of getting what he says is merely "a little more in taxes." Individual income tax payments are now up $233 billion over the last two years, or 26%.

This healthy revenue increase comes despite measly economic growth of between 1% and 2%. Imagine the gusher of revenue the feds could get if government got out of the way and let the economy grow faster.

Now let's look at outlays, which declined a bit in 2012. That small miracle was achieved thanks to a 4% fall in defense spending, a 24% fall in jobless benefits, and an 8.9% decline in Medicaid spending.

Note, however, that federal spending remains at a new plateau of about $3.54 trillion, or some $800 billion more than the last pre-recession year of 2007. One way to think about this is that most of the $830 billion stimulus of 2009 has now become part of the federal budget baseline. The "emergency" spending of the stimulus has now become permanent, as we predicted it would.

When Beltway politicians claim they want a "balanced" approach to reducing the deficit, what they really mean is raising taxes to finance this new higher spending level. And the still-higher level that is coming with ObamaCare.

The reality is that the fastest way to raise revenue is with faster economic growth. To the extent that raising tax rates will reduce the rate of growth, it will slow the flow of tax revenue and increase the deficit.

Even if Mr. Obama were to bludgeon Republicans into giving him all of the tax-rate increases he wants, the Joint Tax Committee estimates this would yield only $82 billion a year in extra revenue. But if growth is slower as a result of the higher tax rates, then the revenue will be lower too. So after Mr. Obama has humiliated House Republicans and punished the affluent for the sheer joy of it, he would still have a deficit of $1 trillion.

Most of our readers know all this, but we thought you'd like some new evidence to rebut the kids who voted for your taxes to go up when they return from college for Thanksgiving. Maybe they'll figure it out when they have a job, if they can find one.
5475  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government programs & regulations, spending, deficit, and budget process on: November 12, 2012, 10:30:08 AM
"At current interest rates IIRC we are paying about $250B a year on interest on the debt.  Do the math.  cry"

rough math:
250 billion interest expense
16 trillion debt
equals effective interest rate: 1.5%

This is nonsensical, except that Crafty's number is right:

Now do the math on interest rates returning to spiraling inflation normal levels, 6, 8, 10, 12+% after 4, 6, 8 trillion more debt.  Interest costs potentially greater than all current spending, not 50 years out, but within the 6 year term of my newly reelected Dem Senator.

5476  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tax Policy on: November 12, 2012, 10:05:23 AM
Crafty: "I have consistently been seeing the tax the rich numbers as projecting $80B, not his number of $40B, under static revenue assumptions.  Either number of course is a joke in the face of at $1.1T deficit."

Schiff wrote: "would only yield around $30 to $40 billion per year in added revenue, a drop in the federal bucket.
$80B static with $30-40B 'yield', I think we are talking about the same thing.  A drop in the bucket either way, plus 50-60% of the 'new revenue' never materializes because investors alter their behavior to the new set of rules.  Not measured in that loss is the lost benefits (job gains etc) that would come from that lost prosperity.
5477  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Tax Policy: Obama should enact ROmney's tax reform plan on: November 10, 2012, 11:36:08 AM
Bill Clinton 'triangulated' one might recall.  He reformed welfare, cut capital gains taxes, grew the economy, balanced the budget, and came off like some kind of a genius after his first two years of pathetic economic growth out of downturn.

Obama should scale back Romney's plan and take it.  Offer to the R. House 10% instead of 20% rate cuts as an offset to closing down loopholes and deductions for the wealthiest.

He can do this now, since there is essentially no shifting of seats or power coming in January.  Doing it would avoid the fiscal cliff, avoid the recession, raise the debt ceiling in the compromise and settle the uncertainty that keeps the economy from moving 'forward'.

The main point of attacking the rich was to gain and hold power.  It worked.  Now he needs to set his legacy as something other than a complete economic disaster.

Democrats want greater progressivity in the tax code.  Conservatives more even taxation like the flat tax, fair tax or 9-9-9.  Romney's plan was to keep existing progressivity constant.  This was a split election.  Instead of fighting with the Republicans, he should make them an offer they can't refuse, and then take all the credit.
WSJ yesterday makes a similar point:
Romney's Tax Reform Marches On
It's Obama's second term, but get ready for the Romney-Simpson-Bowles plan.

Lower rates would improve individual incentives; fewer loopholes would mean economic resources flowing to their most highly-valued uses. Even if tax reform were kept revenue neutral, it would spur faster growth and therefore higher revenues. And there would be less incentive for political corruption and trafficking in tax favors: a win-win-win.

Maybe Americans can benefit from the second-term "flexibility" Mr. Obama once promised Vladimir Putin.
5478  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / CBO: Fiscal cliff will mean recession, rise in unemployment on: November 10, 2012, 11:16:18 AM

CBO: Fiscal cliff will mean recession, rise in unemployment

"If Congress and the Obama administration allow scheduled tax increases and spending cuts to occur, the economy will shrink by 0.5 percent in 2013. The unemployment rate would soar to 9.1 percent — up from 7.9 percent today."

Where do they come up with this stuff?  (More famous people caught reading the forum.)
5479  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Paul Ryan on: November 10, 2012, 11:12:50 AM
From Noonan' piece on 2012 Presidential:

"As part of his role, [Paul] Ryan had wanted to talk about poverty, traveling to inner cities and giving speeches that laid out the Republican vision for individual empowerment. But Romney advisers refused his request to do so, until mid-October, when he gave a speech on civil society in Cleveland. As one adviser put it, 'The issues that we really test well on and win on are not the war on poverty."

That is the authentic sound of the Republican political operative class at work: in charge, supremely confident, essentially clueless.

This impresses me with Paul Ryan.  Give him credit for better political instincts than the campaign, and another sign of having the guts to tackle the hard jobs.  Going into the neighborhoods and reaching out with a message and facing the criticisms head-on needed and still needs to happen. 

A tour like that might have led to a swarm of protest against the ticket.  Better for the nation to have experienced that a couple of months ago instead of being blindsided in November.

Black America voted some 96%(?)for Obama's second term without a specific promise but in hope of something better to come.  Paul Ryan could have laid out that hope with specifics, but his handlers knew better.

If Ryan had succeeded in being heard but failed to change minds with his appearances, he would have at least planted a seed for the next 4 years.  Instead, Republicans remain only the caricature that their opponents draw of them.
5480  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: November 09, 2012, 11:28:06 PM
From GM's post:  "Under Obamacare, companies with 50 or more full-time employees either have to provide them with government-approved health insurance policies, or pay a per-employee fine. Further, the fine kicks in at the 31st employee, not the 51st, and it starts at $2,000 per year per employee. It goes up later. Companies, therefore, are discouraged from having full-time employees, or at least 50 or more of them."

What is a full time employee?  
The new federal definition of a full time employee is eighteen pages long.

France, here we come: Why France Has So Many 49-Employee Companies

5481  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Way Forward for the American Creed on: November 09, 2012, 10:56:47 PM
To all people being laid off today - it is day 1 of your new involuntary polysci/Econ class. Pay attention. There's a test in 4 years.

5482  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential- postmortem and pre-mortem on: November 09, 2012, 10:40:26 PM
Paraphrasing Rush L. from Wed, in a nation full of children it is hard to defeat Santa Claus.

Glenn Beck put it this way during the campaign, freedom or free-stuff, choose one.  (People did.)

VDH prescient in July: "[Pres. Obama] figures that he can by appeals to gays (gay marriage), those on entitlements (nearly fifty million are now on food stamps; 50% are paying no income tax or are on some sort of entitlement — or both), the greens (Keystone), the Latinos (de facto amnesty), feminists (“war on women”), the (fill in the blanks), etc."  ...  "to the extent someone might point to polling, he is met with “But the polls are biased!” Perhaps they are by 3-4 points.  But right now, given the power of incumbency, the changing nature of the U.S., and the no-holds-barred methods of Barack Obama, the advantage is still all Obama’s — and almost all the polls show that." ... "the fact that purple-state Democrats up for reelection don’t want to be seen with Obama is understandable, but not necessarily a barometer of what Ohio, Florida, Colorado, and Virginia will do on Election Day."
5483  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Way Forward for the American Creed on: November 09, 2012, 01:01:21 PM
Elevating Ryan or changing out Boehner is deck chair material, as GM said, not crucial like policy stands, stalemate positions and messaging.  Ryan will be out front with or without a promotion.  I don't know what his future role will be.  He did not deliver Wisconsin or any other state; VP choices rarely do.  I give Boehner (and Ryan) credit for the what the House passed the last two years and Boehner and his team credit for getting everyone reelected in the face of 10% congressional approval.  No one on the right, left or center is going to approve of the stalemate of divided government, and yet they chose at least 2 more years of it.  Boehner isn't the best face for the national party but neither was Denny Hastert - or Tip O'Neill, Jim Wright, Pelosi etc for the other side.

Republicans in the House ran on a clear record and a clear agenda and they won.  Pres. Obama ran mostly away setting an agenda except to keep his failed policies in place, and he won.  House Republicans have as much of a mandate to stand strong on policy positions than Pres. Obama.

The two part question over the past 4 years was how to win back power and then what policies we will need to turn this around if we win the election.  Now the choice is simpler, cave or honor on our core principles.

Krauthammer is right that immigration reform is an area to consider.  Take a key issue off the table before the next Presidential cycle.  Gay marriage might be another.  Rape abortion too!

But the size and scope of government is a place where voters expect Republicans to draw the line.  The size of government needs to be limited to the lowest level of what all three participants can agree, House, Senate and President.  That makes the House the crucial determinant.  

The President isn't giving up powers that are uniquely his like Supreme Court nominations; the House should not give up powers that are uniquely theirs like the origination of all bills for raising revenue:

House Republicans are more free now to exert their rightful powers than they were over the past two years.  Maybe they will get accused of refusing to let Democrats spend beyond our means.  So what.  Maybe they lose the House next.  So what, that is not worse than not performing their constitutional responsibilities now.
5484  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Govt programs, regulations, spending, deficit - U of Chicago forecast on: November 09, 2012, 12:28:22 AM
"Forecast in three parts: The sound and fury will be over big fights on taxes and spending. They will look like replays of the last four years and not end up accomplishing much. The big changes to our economy will be the metastatic expansion of regulation, led by ACA, Dodd-Frank, and EPA.  There will be no change on our long run problems: entitlements, deficits or fundamental reform of our chaotic tax system.  4 more years, $4 trillion more debt."  - John Cochrane, Professor, University of Chicago School of Business.

Much more detail at the link:
5485  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Congressional races plus state/local - 21 pieces of good news on: November 09, 2012, 12:15:08 AM
The results of the Senate races are shocking, but Michelle Malkin compiles a list of good news, depending on the side you come at this from...

1. Republicans retained control of the U.S. House of Representatives.

2. Voters in Alabama, Montana, and Wyoming all passed measures limiting Obamacare.

3. Tea Party candidate Ted Cruz, one of the conservative movement’s brightest rising stars, overcame establishment GOP opposition to clinch a U.S. Senate victory in Texas.

4. Corruptocrat Beltway barnacle Rep. Pete Stark was finally kicked out of office in California.

5. Despite entrenched teachers’ union opposition, a charter school initiative in Washington state triumphed.

6. Despite entrenched Big Labor support, a radical collective bargaining power grab in Michigan failed.

7. Oklahoma voters said no to government race-based preferences in college admissions, public contracting, and government hiring.

8. Montana voters said no to boundless benefits for illegal aliens.

9. Washington state approved taxpayer-empowering limitations on its state legislature’s ability to raise taxes.

10. For the first time since Reconstruction, the GOP won control of the Arkansas state house.

11. Voters rejected tax hike ballot measures in Arizona, South Dakota, and Missouri.

12. Louisiana voted to protect gun rights.

13. Kentucky voted to protect hunting and fishing rights.

14. Parental notification for minors’ abortion prevailed in Montana.

15. North Carolina Republicans claimed the governor’s office, congressional gains, and control of the state’s general assembly.

16. Paul Ryan will return to Congress after winning re-election and continue to carry the torch for entitlement reform and budget discipline.

17. Conservatives won big victories in the Kansas state legislature.

18. Republicans won historic supermajorities in Tennessee.

19.Across the country, Republicans reached a post-2000 record number of gubernatorial victories.

20. Conservatives who were devastated by the national election results demonstrated how to lose with dignity and grace. There will be finger-pointing and recriminations and soul-searching, but committed activists can’t and won’t lose heart. We’ll regroup, recover, and keep fighting for our country.

21. Wisconsin: GOP wins back the state Senate.
5486  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential post mortum on: November 09, 2012, 12:09:25 AM
Dick Morris was in pretty good company with his wrong election forecast.  Michael Barone is a quality professional IMO and called it the same:   Also and the Romney campaign itself:

Jan Crawford /CBS News:  They made three key miscalculations, in part because this race bucked historical trends:

1. They misread turnout. They expected it to be between 2004 and 2008 levels, with a plus-2 or plus-3 Democratic electorate, instead of plus-7 as it was in 2008. Their assumptions were wrong on both sides: The president's base turned out and Romney's did not. More African-Americans voted in Ohio, Virginia, North Carolina and Florida than in 2008. And fewer Republicans did: Romney got just over 2 million fewer votes than John McCain.

2. Independents. State polls showed Romney winning big among independents. Historically, any candidate polling that well among independents wins. But as it turned out, many of those independents were former Republicans who now self-identify as independents. The state polls weren't oversampling Democrats and undersampling Republicans - there just weren't as many Republicans this time because they were calling themselves independents.

3. Undecided voters. The perception is they always break for the challenger, since people know the incumbent and would have decided already if they were backing him. Romney was counting on that trend to continue. Instead, exit polls show Mr. Obama won among people who made up their minds on Election Day and in the few days before the election. So maybe Romney, after running for six years, was in the same position as the incumbent.
5487  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Juan Williams: BO's daunting demographic message 4 the GOP; Estimados Rep-canos on: November 08, 2012, 09:08:32 AM
Note back to Juan Williams, it isn't about the GOP, it's about the direction of the country.  Hispanics, African Americans, gays, Jews, Asian Americans and women will need to change the economic agenda inside the Democratic party or live forever poor and in debt if they are too racist, sexist or xenophobic to sit with Republicans IMHO.  The GOP already reached out.
5488  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential - Positive spin on: November 07, 2012, 12:29:05 PM
James Tarranto (WSJ) wrote yesterday: Re-election would ensure he is accountable for the mess he inherits from himself.
5489  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: November 07, 2012, 11:17:37 AM
Egg on face for someone was a certainty with all prognositcators on both sides sure of a big win.  From my viewpoint, there was no way to know in advance that the demographic groups hit the hardest by the current policies would really all show up and vote for more of the same.  I had to see it to believe it.

I agree it is foolish to ignore the preponderance of the polls, but if they are so good why are they so different from each other.  Isn't Gallup as good as any, they had Romney up 6%; final Gallup was 1% Romney, and still wrong by 3.  Was this election 8 points different a week ago?  I don't think so.

A short time ago I was feeling sorry for our friend Denny S from Venezuela election, how powerless that must feel.  Now I feel it.  We know our leaders lie to us, take from us, our economy is a disaster under their policies, they crush our freedoms and with our fellow citizens we say hey, how about 4 and 6 more years of it!

Crafty's point one sums it up for me.  Republicans took none of the credit for what went right during the economic and revenue growth of 2003-2006 and took all the blame for what went wrong after power in Washington switched to Pelosi Reid congress including the Fannie Mae Sen. Obama, 2 years before he became President.  You can't have messaging that bad and then expect to win with the people.  (George Bush's fault.)

One reason Republicans couldn't attack Democrats hard for our myriad of failed programs is that their own fingerprints are also all over them.

The other big lesson is that Romney was politically wrong to go positive.  He needed to go positive in order to govern but he needed to go hard negative early in order to win.  Obama went with hide the agenda and attack your opponent from every angle.  Attack before people even meet him.  Now Obama gets to govern, but not with my consent. 

I would be happy to admit I am wrong and Dems are right on economics.  Freedom leads to failure and the nanny state solves it all.  Someone just post the evidence.

The point CCP has been making rung true, the point that Romney botched so badly.  There are so many people, approaching a majority, who think they don't have to pay in so they don't care what it all costs.  Obamacare, free food on the card, housing, utilities, transportation, Obama phone, you name it.  Your unfunded government is your provider, not the taxpayers who used to fund it.

The same 'rational electorate' who chose Obama and a Dem senate just chose a Republican House by a wide margin.  (Will the President and Senate now honor their mandate?)  House Republican reelection makes even less sense, the approval rate for congress hit an all time low of 10% this year.    Divided government didn't provide much for checks and balances, look at the lack of discoveries coming out of the Fast and Furious hearings.  It really just makes for an unworkable partnership.

Heal?  I don't think so.  Just agreeing to be governed against my will.  For me, I will just try to step back and care a little less about the future of our country and survive personally.   As (BBG put it) the statists will run more and more of our lives.  I really feel sorry for the next generation but this is to a large extent their doing.

Now the downward spiral continues.  The R. House cannot authorize taxes or spending that they don't believe in; they also have commitments to their voters.  Without caving on one side or the other there can't be a solution to the fiscal cliff.  Dems will blame Republicans for 2 years for debt ceilings, shutdowns and stalemates and then try again to win the House, 60 in the Senate, and get complete control over us - again.  And then what?

Wesbury, how is that election-neutral forecast going?  Any chance of a downturn when the top capital gains tax rate triples, except in California where rates are going up even more.

Summer of Recovery, coming in 2015, again, after all the gridlock.  Worked so well last time.
On a more positive note: Bigdog, how did your telecast go?
5490  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: November 07, 2012, 12:07:17 AM
Life is tough.  It is tougher when we are stupid. cry cry cry cry cry cry cry cry cry

Very negative thoughts go through my mind right now about the future of our country.
5491  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: November 06, 2012, 12:30:15 PM
We are elected not only the President and the direction of the Senate, but we are also choosing the next Supreme Court!
I hate to do more predictions at this late hour when I can so quickly be proven wrong.  Before the first debate when things looked hopeless I told a friend Romney by 3.  I think he needs to win by 2 or more to be sure to get the electoral college where he needs only 269.

Rasmussen's final is Romney 49, Obama 48.  Way within the margin of sampling error in fact separated by only a few poll takers.

Soon we will find out if the polling results were systematically wrong.  If so we will see a big Romney win and only in that scenario do R's carry the Senate.  If the polls were essentially right it means a deadlock/recount scenario or a close Obama electoral win and a Dem Senate, divided congress.  God help us.

The optimism around here comes from thinking we know the facts, a proven miserable favorable is running against a guy with a real chance to turn things around if the House and Senate will let him.  All along we assumed people would see that, but so many people are invested in pointing fingers and taxing others that I don't have any idea how this plays out.

There are things I wish our side had done differently, but for now just say this:


When you get back, start calling people, the like-minded and the potentially undecided.  Let your family, friends know where you stand and let them get used to knowing that they are going to be hearing from you every election day.
5492  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Economics on: November 06, 2012, 12:08:52 PM
Crafty, That is a good discussion on all 3 sides.  Most simply, we need to end the war against starting and growing companies.

I only agree partly with Prof. Christensen's idea of making more tiers for time length held on capital gains taxation and for different reasons.  My reason would be because of the declining value of each dollar of return. 

Tweaking the system with a goal of favoring one type of innovation over another is not simplicity. 

His calls for more education focus is interesting, a topic in itself.   Mostly the solution is just changing the mindset against businesses and enterprises, addressing simple competitiveness issues that we keep getting wrong.  If we want investment, employment and innovation, why do we slap 50,000 new regulations down in the last 45 months.  Don't have the highest corporate taxes in the world with capital gains tax rates scheduled to triple.  Don't place new burdens on employers like Obamacare, new medical device taxes, war against energy/ new war against fracking coming, etc.  These are anti-growth, anti startup measures. 

Look at the criteria Heritage uses to measure economic freedom and start removing the obvious, unnecessary burdens. 
5493  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: November 05, 2012, 11:40:07 PM
"Does that make sense?"

Yes.  )
5494  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues - Meet the media biased Press with David Gregory on: November 05, 2012, 08:55:22 AM
Following the deluge here last week I watched this show in its entirety yesterday.  It certainly masquerades as being a balanced show in search of the truth.

Host David Gregory asked his administration guest a very tough question about the lack of security at Benghazi.  I'll come back and add the text in with exact quotes, but after he got his non-answer at quarter after the hour he said that's all we have time for and went on to break.

He made no point whatsoever to expose or correct the lie put forth by the Barack Obama administration through Ambassador Susan Rice on his show on Sept 16, 2012:

See the Rice interview:
Meanwhile, did CBS bury the contradictory parts of their President Obama video until too late to do damage for political or editorial reasons?  With the space available on the internet, why are we not entitled to see entire on-the-record interviews in something close to real time?  
BD, I know I lose more moderate voters with my liberal bias rants, but I lose me if I don't speak up on what I see that troubles me deeply.  It isn't that there aren't enough right wing sources; it is that I resent having to go there to get key information and it troubles me to see what others are often missing.  I agree with you 100% on your point about other types of unreported stories and under-reported stories in our media.  The China-Japan islands dispute is a great example.  American press is audience and ratings oriented with very little interest in widening our knowledge.  That is one of the great benefits of this forum where much of this does come up with referrals to good sources to read.
5495  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Tax Policy: The 'Payroll Tax' Is Not Regressive on: November 03, 2012, 11:42:55 AM
Payroll Taxes Are 'Regressive'? Time to Rethink That Idea  (WSJ 10/29/2012 excerpt)
Critics of how Medicare and Social Security are funded don't take into account benefit payouts. Suddenly, the taxes look progressive after all.


Many of those who assert that the rich don't pay their fair share of the nation's bills often point to how Social Security and Medicare are funded. For example, columnist Paul Krugman wrote on his New York Times blog in 2010 that "the payroll tax is regressive, as are most state and local taxes, which largely offsets the progressivity of the income tax." And President Clinton's secretary of labor, Robert Reich, said in an October 2007 blog post, "payroll taxes take a much bigger portion of the paychecks of lower-income Americans than of higher-income [Americans]. Viewed as a whole, the current tax system is quite regressive."

On the contrary, studies show that the Social Security and Medicare programs, viewed as a whole, are anything but regressive.
[image] Getty Images

The payroll taxes that fund these programs are collected for the express purpose of providing income supplements and medical care during retirement. In the case of Social Security, earned income is taxed proportionately at 12.4% (split evenly between employee and employer) up to a cap that is currently set at $110,100. Those who assert that the Social Security tax is regressive note that the income cap results in a decline in taxes paid as a percentage of income as income rises above the cap. But this observation omits three critical facts.

First, the amount of one's Social Security income at retirement is also capped. Second, higher-income workers receive less of a benefit as a percentage of their contributions than do lower-income workers. The payouts to retirees are, and are intended to be, redistributive. Third, Social Security income is subject to the income tax—and the income tax is progressive.

...studies suggest that both of the payroll-tax systems are progressive, not regressive. Moreover, according to a July 2012 study by the Congressional Budget Office, entitled "The Distribution of Household Income and Federal Taxes, 2008 and 2009," the entire U.S. federal tax system (including the earned-income tax, the various capital income taxes, the two types of payroll taxes, the corporate tax, and the excise tax) is also progressive.

Those who assert that "the rich" do not pay their "fair share" seem to be ignoring these other facts: A study released in 2008 by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development reported the U.S. federal income tax system is the most progressive of any of the 24 countries of its member nations. And an October 2011 report by the Tax Foundation noted that in 2009 the top 1% of U.S. earners—who earned 17% of the income—paid 37% of the taxes. The top 5% earned 32% of the income and paid 59% of the taxes. The bottom 50% paid 2.3% of taxes, and the bottom quintile received money back in the form of refundable tax credits.

Lee Ohanian is professor of economics at UCLA and a senior fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution.
5496  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential - Where the growth has been the last 4 years on: November 03, 2012, 10:54:03 AM
5497  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 2012 Presidential - Charles Krauthammer: The Choice on: November 03, 2012, 10:25:40 AM
The choice

By Charles Krauthammer, Published: November 1,  Washington Post

“Ronald Reagan changed the trajectory of America in a way that Richard Nixon did not and in a way that Bill Clinton did not.” That was Barack Obama in 2008. And he was right. Reagan was an ideological inflection point, ending a 50-year liberal ascendancy and beginning a 30-year conservative ascendancy.

It is common for one party to take control and enact its ideological agenda. Ascendancy, however, occurs only when the opposition inevitably regains power and then proceeds to accept the basic premises of the preceding revolution.

Thus, Republicans railed for 20 years against the New Deal. Yet when they regained the White House in 1953, they kept the New Deal intact.

And when Nixon followed LBJ’s Great Society — liberalism’s second wave — he didn’t repeal it. He actually expanded it. Nixon created the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), gave teeth to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and institutionalized affirmative action — major adornments of contemporary liberalism.

Until Reagan. Ten minutes into his presidency, Reagan declares that “government is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem.” Having thus rhetorically rejected the very premise of the New Deal/Great Society, he sets about attacking its foundations — with radical tax reduction, major deregulation, a frontal challenge to unionism (breaking the air traffic controllers for striking illegally) and an (only partially successful) attempt at restraining government growth.

Reaganism’s ascendancy was confirmed when the other guys came to power and their leader, Bill Clinton, declared (in his 1996 State of the Union address) that “the era of big government is over” — and then abolished welfare, the centerpiece “relief” program of modern liberalism.

In Britain, the same phenomenon: Tony Blair did to Thatcherism what Clinton did to Reaganism. He made it the norm.

Obama’s intention has always been to re-normalize, to reverse ideological course, to be the anti-Reagan — the author of a new liberal ascendancy. Nor did he hide his ambition. In his February 2009 address to Congress he declared his intention to transform America. This was no abstraction. He would do it in three areas: health care, education and energy.

Think about that. Health care is one-sixth of the economy. Education is the future. And energy is the lifeblood of any advanced country — control pricing and production, and you’ve controlled the industrial economy.

And it wasn’t just rhetoric. He enacted liberalism’s holy grail: the nationalization of health care. His $830 billion stimulus, by far the largest spending bill in U.S. history, massively injected government into the free market — lavishing immense amounts of tax dollars on favored companies and industries in a naked display of industrial policy.

And what Obama failed to pass through Congress, he enacted unilaterally by executive action. He could not pass cap-and-trade, but his EPA is killing coal. (No new coal-fired power plant would ever be built.) In 2006, liberals failed legislatively to gut welfare’s work requirement. Obama’s new Health and Human Services rule does that by fiat. Continued in a second term, it would abolish welfare reform as we know it — just as in a second term, natural gas will follow coal, as Obama’s EPA regulates fracking into noncompetitiveness.

Government grows in size and power as the individual shrinks into dependency. Until the tipping point where dependency becomes the new norm — as it is in Europe, where even minor retrenchment of the entitlement state has led to despair and, for the more energetic, rioting.

An Obama second term means that the movement toward European-style social democracy continues, in part by legislation, in part by executive decree. The American experiment — the more individualistic, energetic, innovative, risk-taking model of democratic governance — continues to recede, yielding to the supervised life of the entitlement state.

If Obama loses, however, his presidency becomes a historical parenthesis, a passing interlude of overreaching hyper-liberalism, rejected by a center-right country that is 80 percent nonliberal.

Should they summon the skill and dexterity, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan could guide the country to the restoration of a more austere and modest government with more restrained entitlements and a more equitable and efficient tax code. Those achievements alone would mark a new trajectory — a return to what Reagan started three decades ago.

Every four years we are told that the coming election is the most important of one’s life. This time it might actually be true. At stake is the relation between citizen and state, the very nature of the American social contract.
5498  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: November 03, 2012, 10:20:08 AM
Agreed too late to do anything different now, I'm just expressing deep frustration and fear.  Sure hope Morris is right , , ,God Bless America.
It is time for everyone involved to find and adopt an undecided or leaning voter between now and Tuesday.  I have one friend in mind who is a former Republican and has leaned left more recently and I am working to make sure my daughter's first ballot gets turned in on time no matter how she fills it out.

Call personally on election day and confirm with every like minded person you know that we all showed up.

The difference of Obamacare passing or not might have happened right in my mostly conservative town of 1000.  The recount from R to D to make the 60 Senator shift on just a few votes might have been people out here who were too busy or thought it wouldn't matter.  It mattered - big time.

It doesn't seem like it sometimes, but one more vote in Calif, Minn, and every other place does make a difference.  The margin of victory matters.  It matters in the close races and it matters in places not close to start to change or build any momentum to get good candidates and messages to come forward in the future.

To everyone who cares - do something!
5499  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Housing/Mortgage/Real Estate on: November 03, 2012, 09:57:37 AM
I need to go through Pat's work in more detail to understand the specifics but one of the stunning first impressions is what a waste of time and money the intervening programs were.  2009 'improved' because we were paying public subsidies into the market to prevent a full correction.  When the free money ended the program had no lasting beneficial effect.  Same for cash for clunkers.  In sum the $6 trillion or more of overspending is down the tube, with interest accruing forever, and the effects on the economy of these contrived measures were counterproductive, shielding markets from the real market forces of correction and recovery.

No lessons were learned because the people who didn't agree with market economics then for the most part still don't know about it now.

Housing corrects by allowing the market to operate as freely as it can and then growing national income so that people can pay what they choose to live where they want.  Government intervention programs are designed mostly to do the opposite.
5500  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: November 03, 2012, 09:43:14 AM
Feeling very frustrated with Mitt tonight.  The timidity of his campaign has turned what should have been a rampage through the wasteland of the record of the worst president of my lifetime into a real nail biter.

This forum would be a wonderful resource for someone looking for hundreds of specific devastating points that would have Obama off balance all day every day.  Instead, the man won't even touch Benghazi  cry

Agreed, though with the increase of stupidity and entrenchment of the leech class, it may not pay to be more aggressive now.

Yes, at this point in the campaign he is speaking to the one percent or less in the dead center of the electorate between Obama and Romney in a couple of counties of a couple of states in a language I don't expect to be able to understand.

I hope they know what they are doing.

To some extent it is the job of others to expose the opponent and his job to be the positive alternative.
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