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5501  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The congnitive dissonance of the left on: November 22, 2011, 12:26:26 PM
CCP's answer make sense.  If they block your business and you report it to authorities you would expect them to be removed at some through a series of negotiations and/or increasingly stronger actions taken by LE.

GM:  "Unlike CN or CS gas, OC is actually legally classified as a food additive. It's the same compound that makes salsa or curry hot."

Like a waiter, they could just say they got their order wrong. ) 

Waterboarding is done only with a healthy, all-natural product as well.   wink

5502  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Government programs and budget process - Balanced Budget Amendment on: November 22, 2011, 12:18:35 PM
I understand the BBA voted on that received a majority but failed to get the 2/3rd threshold did not include the cap on spending, did not include the super majority requirement to raise taxes and among the opponenets was Rep. Paul Ryan.

Ryan said:  “I’m concerned that this version will lead to a much bigger government fueled by more taxes,” Ryan said in a statement following the vote. “Spending is the problem, yet this version of the BBA makes it more likely taxes will be raised, government will grow, and economic freedom will be diminished. Without a limit on government spending, I cannot support this Amendment.”

I agree with Paul Ryan.  What a strange 'solution' that we can spend all we want if it is combined with a tax increase on someone else. 
5503  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 2012 Presidential - We need a Democrat nominee too! on: November 22, 2011, 12:06:26 PM
I had some fun back when his approval rating was about 70% predicting that Barack Obama would not be the nominee of his own party.  Names like Evan Bayh and Jim Webb came up.  I would oppose these too but for the party of JFK these choices are not as anti-capitalism, anti-freedom and anti-growth as the incumbent today. 

Instead those who see his political weakness think the perfect answer to their cause is his ideological clone Hillary Clinton.   sad  That is not what I meant! 
I saw my first Obama 2012 bumper sticker this weekend in the city of Liberal Lakes.  The new sticker doesn't say Obama-Biden; no running mate is mentioned.  It didn't say Obama either - that name isn't polling well either.   It only says 2012 with the Pepsi-like logo for the Obama hope change marketing concept in the place of the zero.  Very concise, but is President Zero really the marketing image he will spend a billion dollars to reinforce?

He wishes he had results at zero to run on...
5504  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: November 22, 2011, 11:20:40 AM
Yes, G. Will is very tough on Romney.  Ethanol subsidies probably aren't the best test for purity on principles.  Pawlenty, author of Courage to Stand, said in his announcement speech (in Iowa) that he would end subsidies to ethanol.  Later he said he didn't get an applause for that line - how's he doing now?  Perry says no federal subsidies for any of the energies.  Also not surging, each for different reasons.

People think conservatives have a purity test.  What a joke.  We are look for candidates with views we agree with, just like centrists and liberals do.  We would like to find one candidate who shares our principles AND can stand at least even with the incumbent on competence, moral integrity and communications skills.  That should not be too much to ask.

The polls opening in a little over a month, and it will come down to electability.  Romney may seem like a wishy washy, poll watching, principle lacking mish mash of positions held, a 'recidivist reviser of his principles', but he is still in the strongest position.

Will's point that Romney is becoming less and less electable is interesting.  The reason we searched through all these others is that a clear contrast in direction would make for a better chance at governing and solving our problems.  Technocratic competency questions bring it back to the person, not the direction.  Obama will save the day though by making even Romney look like a sharp turn toward conservatism.  With all I find lacking in Romney, he is not really another Dukakis. 
Looking again at those already written off, Glen Beck had Michele Bachmann on a radio interview for 45 minutes yesterday and said he agreed with every word she said.  She is probably the most connected of any of them on foreign policy - she at least receives intelligence from her committee assignments - but she has no executive experience and this propensity to go running off on wrong, small things. 
The always interesting Dennis Miller was on Leno last night.  He liked Cain a while back but didn't find him ready enough, now leaning toward Romney, and he likes Gingrich.  He said of Gingrich that people should see the video of his daughter - the story about the hospital room was not true, but that piece does not remove Newt's baggage, political and personal. 
Rich Perry on a Fox panel, link below, is worth a watch.  He starts with his deer in the headlights smile but follows with pretty good substance.  Krauthammer asks him an excellent question on his tax proposal, why not put a sunset provision on the old code.  Instead of fake some answer, he said that is a pretty good idea and would consider it, and went on to show how they used a sunset provision elsewhere to repatriate American assets back into the economy.  I think he might be next to get a second look and make a mini-comeback.  That doesn't make his flaws and earlier flops go away either.

One of these folks will soon be the nominee.
5505  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cognitive dissonance of the left: OWS needs more Cowbell !! on: November 21, 2011, 11:22:09 PM
Forget about finding a message.  We need more Cowbell.
5506  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive dissonance of the left on: November 21, 2011, 08:02:53 PM
"This is why I am done with working patrol. Perhaps with law enforcement altogether."

Their loss, our gain.  )
5507  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: November 21, 2011, 09:43:19 AM
Credit and blame are sides of the same coin; it is 3 years out.

"What do you do if "free" Iraq has stated very clearly and unequivocally that they simply don't want us there?"

Things like negotiations, leverage, leadership and diplomacy come to mind.  None of those were needed if your only goal was to read polls at home and exit no matter the conditions or ramifications.
5508  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: November 21, 2011, 08:56:05 AM
It's still Bush's fault.  I know he gets the pension and secret service attention, I hope he is still getting boots on the ground updates before he makes his final determination - 3 years gone by and counting.

The Bush 'agreement', FYI, was "subject to possible further negotiations".  The negotiations to maintain a base, a fortress over the horizon as Democrats used to call it, a readiness to quickly address future threats, apparently never happened... because first and foremost this is about American political considerations now ahead of future American or global security interests, IMHO.
5509  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: November 21, 2011, 08:40:16 AM
George Will was very tough on Newt yesterday:

"Gingrich's is an amazingly efficient candidacy in that it embodies everything that is disagreeable about modern Washington. He's the classic rental politician," George Will said on "This Week" today.

"People think that his problem is his colorful personal life. He'll hope that people concentrate on that rather than on, for example, ethanol. Al Gore has recanted ethanol. Not Newt Gingrich who served the ethanol lobby, Industrial policy of the sort that got us Solyndra, he's all for it. Freddie Mac, he says, hired him as a historian. He's not a historian."

(He prefaced this with his weekly disclosure that Mrs. Will is advising the Perry campaign.)
5510  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / European matters: Spain election: Conservatives set to win landslide victory on: November 21, 2011, 08:28:24 AM

Who knows what this means now; they should have thought of that when they chose socialist leadership since 2004.
5511  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The cognitive dissonance of the left on: November 21, 2011, 07:48:10 AM
"That would clash with the actual intent behind OWS."

Yes but his situation calls the question perfectly.  Are you against the special treatment and bailouts of wallstreeters or are you against the freedoms inherent in capitalistic wealth?  Without the freedoms of capitalism, the $700 room would never have been built, cleaned or available to him.  The right to charge more, to make more money and to pay more for quality are all part of the capitalistic principle of allocating scarce resources based on price. Those shivering outside should take notice. 
5512  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The cognitive dissonance of the left on: November 20, 2011, 09:29:54 PM
The park bench sounds good but the guy prefers the honeymoon suite with the Jacuzzi for the occupation.  I'm waiting for Occupy Vail, and the powder in the trees at Steamboat.  What can you really protest when the cameras aren't running anyway.  The rich guy has every right to sympathize with the movement, oppose special treatment for the connected.  Jump right in.  It should not be an us vs. them question, it is right vs wrong.  Is money legitimately earned? Is it treated the same as everyone else?  Let's quit the blind attacks on wealth, let's quit the religious attacks on wealth, let's get off the equal outcomes fantasy, end the favors trading business and focus on equal treatment under the law. 
5513  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Media Issues: NPR Slandering the Red States on: November 20, 2011, 11:49:01 AM
In the balancing process of new media challenging old, one person has taken up a strong challenge on the hack jobs of a few of the Goliaths such as the NY Times and Dan Rather.  John Hinderacker at Powerline (biased blogger alert) is now on Part VI of 'NPR Slandering the Red States': where the NPR hit piece author is just starting to answer back.  As in the case of his exposure of the hit jobs on the conservative Koch brothers, it is best to read these in their entirety to get the full picture.  Just like the reaction of Dan Rather on the false but true fake documents, this author sounds like she has never been questioned before, putting out a story that children from Indian Reservations are being kidnapped by the State of South Dakota.

I feel bad for MSM customers who can follow the news from so many of the same sources everyday and have no idea they only read or heard one side of it.  Also I resent having to go to alternative sites to get facts, not just differing opinions.
5514  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Pathological Science: Is global warming good or bad, new or old? on: November 20, 2011, 11:02:13 AM

You can be forgiven if you didn’t know that we’re in the middle of an ice age right now, what with all the talk about global warming. But it’s true. We’re in what geologists call “the Quaternary glaciation,” an ice age that’s lasted for the past 2.5 million years.

Ice ages last a very long time, with periods of extreme cold punctuated by warmer periods, or interglacials. We’re in such an interglacial right now: The Holocene epoch began about 12,000 years ago. It’s best thought of as a brief respite from the most severe ravages of Quaternary ice.

So global warming actually began around 10,000 BC, when the ice sheets that had covered large portions of North America and Eurasia retreated to the poles. And what has happened since this (entirely natural) warming began? The Neolithic Revolution, the dawn of civilization and the expansion of human populations like never before.
Civilization rose during a respite from the cold: Diego, Manfred, Sid and the lost child in the animated film “Ice Age.”
Civilization rose during a respite from the cold: Diego, Manfred, Sid and the lost child in the animated film “Ice Age.”

In other words, homo sapiens, which existed in its more or less anatomically modern form for 100,000 to 200,000 years, began to flourish and thrive as a result of this most fortuitous warmth.

In short: Global warming is good for people.

If you don’t believe me, look at the temperature variations within the Holocene: The so-called Roman Warming coincided with the heights of classical civilization; then came a period of cooling which coincided with the social collapse of the Dark Ages.

Then there was the Medieval Warm Period, which coincided with the rise of monumental cathedrals in Europe and the settlement by Vikings in a lush Greenland, followed by the Little Ice Age (from roughly the 14th to the 19th centuries) — which saw widespread political upheavals, famine and disease.

Finally, there is the current warming trend of the last century and a half or so.

In each instance, the result is broadly the same: The warmer the Earth, the better it has been for people.

So let’s be thankful for the Holocene — civilization could never have arisen without it. And let’s be thankful we live in this especially warm period within the Holocene, which has seen human populations achieve measures of health and wealth unparalleled in all of history.

But let us also not be fooled — this blessed respite will someday end. The ice will return. It always has, it always will. And when it does, it will threaten all we have built, and indeed, our very existence.
5515  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Issues in the American Creed (Constitutional Law and related matters) on: November 20, 2011, 10:55:10 AM
All the US constitution says about bankruptcy is: [As a power of congress]  'To establish...uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies throughout the United States'.  Article 1, Section 8, Clause 4

Most of the bankruptcy law was written back when states were sovereign, a very long time ago.  That needs to be updated with a provision for bankruptcy for state government as we have for municipalities.  Someone might contact Sens. Feinstein and Boxer about getting this done.  The laws governing these state bankruptcies across the nation need to be uniform.

5516  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: california on: November 18, 2011, 09:33:52 PM
"let's say I sold your State a building and I carried back the paper for 30 years"

Many differences there, if payments quit the title stays with the seller on a contract for deed.  Put the other way you have to make all the payments to complete the transfer of the sale.   Payment over time makes perfect sense because the usage is over time.  It just has to be reauthorized every budget cycle until the government is the owner.

Pensions are payments for work done back then.  They should have been funded with money collected back then, for the schools, police, fire, etc. Instead we were funding ... ... ... . I have no idea how to fix now what we all know was irresponsible back then.
5517  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: california on: November 18, 2011, 02:50:29 PM
I didn't know states cannot declare bankruptcy.  Of course not, under federal law the 'states are sovereign'.  Try saying that aloud without laughing or crying - the states are sovereign - I know about 9 people I would like to forward that to!  These states and these pensions, however, have been highly involved in interstate commerce...

When I sold products and services to a similar state, all long term funding contracts required a "funding out clause".  One legislature cannot in law bind future legislatures; it fails the most basic tenet:  consent of the governed.  We are not governed by the people who were elected 20 years ago by different people in a different time.  What right and what power did they think they had to decide what our budget will be today. The only money the state can disburse it what the legislature with the Governor say can be spent.  Obviously they will choose to pay the interest on the bonds and reauthorize everything else reasonable and prudent,  but is there a legal requirement to do so?  I don't know and my experience was not in Calif.

The California constitution will be the key.  It will define the process of what monies go out.  Requiring pension obligations be paid would seem contradictory.  The constitution hopefully spells out how that gets resolved, but it sounds like it that was set in precedent, not necessarily in specific constitutional language.  Something this large should be done with a supermajority anyway, so you might as well do that through the amendment process to the Calif. constitution, and write exactly what is needed.

I don't see how you can make people pay when you can't make them stay.

When the tax rate becomes 100% and pensions are taxed, pensioners aren't receive anything anyway.   sad

5518  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: November 18, 2011, 01:23:06 PM
Some additional thoughts on the debate:

*Major division between Huntsman and Romney on China.  Romney got the better of it I thought.

*Though the conversation about Afpakia was serious, I don't think anyone really came to grips with the idea that we are on a trajectory to leave Afg (with pretense at continuing to train) and that the place on the planet where AQ is closest to acquiring nukes is by snatching the ones the Paks are driving down the street.

Not saying I have any better ideas, just saying , , ,

As I understand it, Romney is talking tough on the Chinese, currency manipulation (as if we don't) and other things.  Huntsman says Romney is just pandering to the tea party.  Huntsman would do nothing about these problems, therefore avoid a trade war, and he is saying I think that Romney won't do anything about it either (same policy).  Hard to land a punch with that.
Over to AfghPakia... It is Huntsman who supports leave now.  His reason is that it has been long enough - in other words no reason.  Cain is more articulate here - Admits he doesn't know and would have to talk to the commanders.  The crucial issue is what to do about Pakistan, home of nukes and AQ.  It is the prolonged nature of our Afghan presence that has brought us actionable intelligence in Pakistan.  It has been our relatively small foreign aid bribery that has given us the limited good side of the two-faced treatment we get from the government of Pakistan.  There has been surprisingly little uproar over there to the continuing U.S. drone attacks and to the OBL kill operation.  As a YA post described, we have a game hunting relationship with them.

The question remains: if and when the known bad situation in Pak becomes a crisis, are we better of to be stationed with forces and equipment next door or 12,000 miles away?  I think the rest other than Huntsman and Paul get that, but fail to articulate it?  After all we put into Iraq, how do we leave without keeping at least a base?  Seems like a post WWII presence in Europe and Asia had a stabilizing effect.

5519  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tax Policy on: November 18, 2011, 12:36:31 PM
Regarding the 5 lessons above, really 6... Excellent Post!  If you already read it, read it again and pass it along.

Important point regarding the 2% tax idea on top of all other taxes and on top of all crippling regulations is to note that this is an anti-growth strategy.  For whatever other objectives motivate the advocates have, it is the exact opposite of a pro-growth strategy for the individual and for the country - even if you think it applies only to everyone but you.

A tax on anyone is a tax on the economy and we all share an economy.  Every tax hits everyone at least indirectly.  Taxes are necessary but being overly clever and targeting (that fellow behind the tree) isn't.

Crafty put it extremely well here IMO: "I am still quite opposed to such increases because indirectly I think such increases would be bad for everyone."

In the 5 lesson post and throughout history we learn that this or any other new tax will not close the deficit, only kill growth and increase spending.

The idea that you can't move or change business activities because it is a federal and not a state law has been proven false over and over and over and over and over.  Individuals and businesses change their behavior based on changing circumstances.  The ones that don't perish.  It only takes a 2% change in activities to offset the 'benefit' of a 2% tax.  What retail business, when they desperately need more customers and more cash coming into the cash register, will raise prices by 2%?  None. 

No one has more flexibility to change their economic behavior than the rich.  From a tax efficiency perspective, soaking the rich doesn't work.  From a moral perspective, IMO it doesn't work.  From a fiscal perspective, it doesn't work.  The point of tax policy is to raise the money to pay for the legitimate functions of governing.  Nothing grows revenues like growing the economy.  You can get more money from the rich a number of ways, but not by simply raising the highest marginal rate.  There is nothing the government does that grows the private economy other than loosening the handcuffs.

We need (IMHO) to identify the people and the policies that would move us further in the wrong direction, toward further stagnation and decline, and defeat them.
5520  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness: The Imaginarium of Barack Obama, VDH on: November 18, 2011, 11:57:51 AM
The piece by Peggy Noonan makes a strong case about why Herman Cain is not a serious candidate with his lack of attention to important foreign matters.  I was corresponding with a centrist friend and reminded that in other circles, just saying the name Palin, Bachmann, Cain and others - these are one word punch lines in their world.  In most cases they forgot to tell us why the joke is funny.  On the conservative side, same goes for Pelosi, Reid and especially Pres, Obama.  Maybe Newt can do it but he carries his own contradictions, but the candidate and certainly the VP candidate will need to be able to articulate persuasively the case that this incumbent is not a serious candidate for President in 2012.  VDH does it quite well IMO right here:

The Imaginarium of Barack Obama
November 16, 2011 - by Victor Davis Hanson

The presidency of Barack Obama is full of funny things that need not follow any sort of logic. Images and ideas just pop in and out, without worry of inconsistency, contradiction, or hypocrisy. It’s a fascinating mish-mash of strange heroes and bogeymen, this imaginarium of our president.

In the imaginarium there are no revolving doors, earmarks, or lobbyists. So Peter Orszag did not go from being OMB director to a Citigroup fat-cat. Once chief-of-staff Rahm Emanuel did not make $16 million for his well-known banking expertise. The more you damn the pernicious role of lobbyists and the polluting role of big money, the more you must hire and seek out both. Public financing of campaigns is wonderful for everyone else who lacks the integrity of Barack Obama who understandably must renounce such unfair impositions.

Those who now vote against raising the large Obama debt ceiling are political hucksters and opportunists; those who not long ago voted against raising the smaller Bush debt ceiling were principled statesmen. “Unpatriotic” presidents borrow $4 trillion in eight years; patriotic ones we’ve been waiting for can trump that in three.

Catching known terrorists and putting them in Guantanamo is very bad; killing suspected ones by drone assassinations — and anyone unlucky enough to be in their general vicinity — is exceptionally good. Tribunals, renditions, preventative detention, and all that were bad ideas under Bush-Cheney, but could become good ideas under Barack Obama, the law professor who often sees no need to follow the law when an immigration or marriage statute is deemed regressive.

A million Iranians protesting a soon-to-be-nuclear theocracy is false revolutionary consciousness and to be left alone; a few thousand Israelis wanting to buy apartments in the Jerusalem suburbs is subversive and worthy of presidential condemnation. And when atoning for supposed American lapses, what better place to begin apologizing than in Turkey, the incubator of the Armenian, Greek, and Kurdish mass killings? We need to deny history to make the case that America is not exceptional, and to invent it to persuade us that the Muslim world is extraordinary.

Twenty-four months of a Democratic Congress, and over $4 trillion in spending, resulted in 9.1% unemployment and near nonexistent growth. Yet the culprit for the current situation is ten months of a Republican-controlled House that has yet to approve another $500 billion of borrowing. In the imaginarium, just a little more of the massive amount that has failed will not fail. But if the Republicans are to be blamed for not wanting to waste the last half-trillion, are the Democrats to be praised for borrowing the first wasted $4 trillion?

In the imaginarium, all sorts of demons and devils can unite to derail the brilliance of Barack Obama’s economic recovery plan. ATMs have for the first time after 2009 begun to eliminate jobs. But then so did the Japanese tsunami and the EU meltdown. The DC earthquake did its part, but then so did climbing oil prices and the Arab Spring. Of course, the ghost of George Bush floats over all the present mess. Economic gurus like Austan Goolsbee, Peter Orszag, Christina Romer, and Larry Summers used to write brilliant essays of what would work if they were to be in charge, and now write brilliant essays about why it did not work when they were in charge.

There are lots of ways to bring Americans together across class and racial lines. One in the imaginarium is to focus on the “teabag, anti-government people.” Another is to encourage Hispanics to “punish our enemies” — or have the attorney general lambaste Americans as racial “cowards” and to defend “my people.” Joining foreign governments to sue a fellow American state is no more red/no more blue state unity. Still another is to divide up the people between the suspect who make over $200,000 and the noble who make less, or yet again target the dubious “1%” at “the very top” who do not pay “their fair share,” a mere 40% of the aggregate income tax.

Inside the imaginarium, the way to demonize the “1%” is to vacation among them — whether at Martha’s Vineyard or Costa del Sol. Buying a corporate jet is a waste of the people’s money — unlike daily flying on a much bigger private jet paid by the people.

To encourage energy self-sufficiency, the administration lent a half-billion dollars to campaign donor insiders and got unsellable solar panels in return — as it prevents a huge pipeline from Canada that will bring “shovel-ready” jobs and fuel to the United States far more cheaply than from the volatile Middle East. We have a brilliantly obtuse energy secretary who is a Nobel laureate but who thinks California farms — a record $15 billion in exports this year — will soon blow away and that gas should climb to European levels of about $9 a gallon. In the imaginarium, the purpose of Dr. Chu’s Department of Energy is not to encourage energy production and lower prices, but to find ways to prevent its development in search of raising its cost. The attorney general must be entirely conversant in small matters like a Black Panther voting intimidation case, but was completely ignorant of large ones like Fast and Furious that saw his subordinates sell automatic weapons to Mexican drug cartels.

The president regrets that we are not innovative any more, and have gone “soft” and “lazy.” You see, his efforts at ensuring cradle-to-grave health care entitlements, of granting 99 weeks of unemployment insurance, and of extending food stamps to nearly 50 million are apparently incentives that should have led to a “hard” and “industrious” populace that was more self-reliant and willing to take risks on their own. “Spread the wealth” is a time-honored way of galvanizing people to become more self-disciplined and sufficient.

Business has failed us as well. And the way to get Las Vegas and Super Bowl junketeering CEOs profitable enough again to fund the growing redistributive state, is for them to take risks that result in the sort of massive projects that used to be an American trademark — things like the Hoover Dam, which changed the environmental landscape far more than would the apparently cancelled gargantuan pipeline from Canada to Texas. Business can be encouraged not to be lazy by a prod now and then — either by trying to shut down a big aircraft plant or a small guitar factory. And in the imaginarium, the way to gently chide the private sector is with words of encouragement like “millionaires and billionaires,” and “corporate jet owners,” along with grandfatherly advice to clueless capitalists about realizing the point at which they should cease making money.

In the imaginarium of Barack Obama there is no contradiction between smearing and shaking down Wall Street, a bunch that needs both to be told when and when not to profit, and to whom and to whom not to give tens of millions of dollars in campaign contributions. Barney Frank, who helped pressure Wall Street and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to issue billions in unsound loans, and Chris Dodd, who shook down fat cats for below-market interest rates for his vacation home, logically are the eponymous heroes of the Dodd-Frank fiscal reform act to ensure others do not do as did they. Former liberal governor, senator, and Goldman Sachs CEO Jon Corzine, who both wrecked MF Global and can’t account for $600 million in lost investments, is, in George Soros-like fashion, the best emblem of the contradictory desire to be the worst pirate on Wall Street in order to make the most money in order to be its most liberal critic. In the imaginarium we receive advice about the need for higher income taxes from multibillionaires Warren Buffett and Bill Gates who have always sought to avoid them. Big government and big inheritance taxes, both magnates swear are good, and therefore the administration of their own postmortem fortunes will forever avoid both.

In the imaginarium, community organizer Barack Obama never lived in a small mansion. John “two Americas” Edwards never lived in a big one. “Earth in the balance” Al Gore never lived in a few of them, and yacht owning John Kerry never lived in lots of them. You see in the imaginarium of Barack Obama you can be whatever you wish to be. Just wishing and saying something can wonderfully make it so.

5521  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: california on: November 18, 2011, 11:27:09 AM
"Isn't it over for California?
The numbers are STAGGERING!"

CCP,  Nothing wipes out debt and unfunded liabilities like a good bankruptcy.  Bankruptcy, like a forest fire once it stops burning, is a new beginning not just an ending.  Little plants can sprout on the forest floor where before they could find no sunlight.

The previous Governor Ahnold is a lesson for conservatives in the age old struggle of centrism vs. principles.  In this case, what possible good did it do for conservatism to have an R next to his results of escalating spending, taxing and regulating to the point of economic collapse.  On the flip side, reforms like a massive change of retirement age would be barbaric if proposed by a conservative, are now courageous.

The numbers are staggering and one element of reform won't solve it.  But if that one reform got done, I would agree - a good start.
5522  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Tax Policy: A new 2% tax on TOP of everything else wouldn't hurt anything... on: November 17, 2011, 12:36:38 PM
"The point I am not making very well and I thought the quoted individual made better is that
regardless of tax incentives I am still going to make that film." ... "Heck, if I even raised your taxes 2% would you teach less?  I doubt it.  I suggest it wouldn't affect your business plan at all."  - He already said he would move the business out of the bankrupt overtaxed state, people change their behavior based on incentives and disincentive.  You don't measure that with a poll or a microphone.

A certain percentage quit, leave, relocate, hide income etc.  Even if the majority stay and pay more the results at some point turn downward.  That you go back to the infinitesimal argument is sad.  These taxes and regulations at all levels accumulate!  Your idea is not a 2% tax, it would be 2 more percent in a state collapsing from the asphyxiation that comes from prolonged incrementalism like this.  If it is the last 2% of oxygen in the room, you die.  In the real world like the USA or Greece, you just choose the safety hammock for a while.

Adding a regulation, and another and another, and adding a small tax and a small increase and another and another and another is how we got here.  Family leave law alone didn't end hiring.  A small tax on electricity alone didn't end manufacturing. Plant closing notice laws didn't end all production.  The 60% tax on home telephone service made up of a bunch of 2% this and 2% that fees alone did not end all home telephone service. But how many taxes and regulations are there now?  Have you looked at the economy lately?  Economic behavior turned radically downward with the impending expiration of the Bush tax cuts even without that expiration actually occurring.  Obama's own advisers said you don't raise taxes in a recession?  Why not ? ? ? ? ?  They kill of business investment and hiring AT THE MARGIN.

The discussion here in a short time has included why not go back to the 90% tax rates on the rich and the 9% Cain plan.  That is quite a difference in thinking even if you do it 2% at a time.  Ask the frog in the boiling water.
5523  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: November 17, 2011, 12:02:28 PM
The point of 'Social Security and Medicare being only a "promise" not an obligation' had to do with the constitutionality question relating to the health care issue not the desirability of social security or a prediction of what future congresses might do.  It is constitutional because in law it is merely another tax and another social spending program as legal as all the others.  The 'social contract' is like the lockbox.  It doesn't exist in law.

"...attack Obama Care because it allows private choice..."  It restricts private choice.  My previous coverage is already gone.  In the name of reducing costs it makes it unlawful to simply choose fee for service, the way we pay for almost everything else and the best way known to control costs.  Central to economics, supply and demand, is that suppliers can only charge what the consumers can afford and choose to pay.  Turn over the payment system to an apparatus willing to spend without limit a trillion a year more than they take in eliminates all freedom based forms of price constraint.

"if Obama had simply proposed covering all American's through Medicare and taxed then accordingly that would be constitutionally ok"

Pres. Obama already said he preferred that and considered this a step along the way to getting there.  But if he stuck to that in his campaign he would not have been elected by his own calculation.  He also needed the votes in congress; even among Democrats the votes were not there.  Constitutionally based on precedent, you are on the right track.  Taxes to no end, unevenly applied, and government not regulating but participating in the health care services industry follows the  precedent of what some consider to be wrongly decided cases. 

"From an actuarial standpoint...the more individual "choice" you have, the more adverse selection comes into play. "

There were some far reaching Republican proposals on the table addressing pre-existing conditions etc. when Obamacare was passed.  Water over the dam now, unless we get to start this debate again.  These might have been considered regulating interstate commerce.

"I think there are valid points on both sides of the argument."

Thank you, that is quite a step forward from denying that a constitutional question even exists.

Case law has set the precedent implying that incremental increases in federal government power can expand forever without limit because of pronouncements like you quoted: "Congress can intervene in local, individual decisions when necessary to support a legitimate regulatory regime for interstate commerce".  That thinking will win at least 4 votes from this court.  Some of the others I expect will recognize this as a new power and they will have to decide what to do about that.  What govt powers don't somehow relate to regulating interstate commerce in a global economy?

Pretty obvious to me though that it is not a "legitimate regulatory regime" to make it unlawful for an individual to choose fee for service over insurance products in a free society.  It is a wholly different  question from whether they can tax and/or provide social services.  As I wrote 2 years ago, the vote will be 4-4 and the future direction of our republic will come down to the mood of one Justice Kennedy.

As we await the decision, one question remains for the power already exists crowd, what power then would NOT be legitimate for the federal government in your view?  My view is that this if found to be constitutional, this could be their final case.  We will no longer need to review federal powers. 
5524  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 2012 Presidential: URL for the most recent debate on: November 17, 2011, 12:38:59 AM
5525  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tax Policy on: November 17, 2011, 12:16:45 AM
Hard to have a serious discussion about tax policy or anything in economics if you deny that incentives and disincentives have an effect on economic behavior.  Why not petition the state government to close all economics departments in public universities.  What is there to study if inputs to a decision do not affect the decision. 

Some opposing opinions stimulate amazing discussion.  Others just bring down the discussion.  The adventure just took two steps backwards.
5526  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: November 16, 2011, 11:57:48 PM
First, if we are going to get along how about a little forum etiquette.  To whoever wrote: "Doug - you ignored [my second point]..."  after I answered your first point while you answered none of my points in two substantive posts on the subject... don't write things like that.  You don't know if I was done writing or had other matters to attend to.

There is a logic string that I call 'and another thing', where the implication is made that a second point builds on the strength of the first point before establishing any validity in the first point. If you want your second point considered first, put it first.  I deny the charge that I don't answer enough points made on this forum.
I know less about Medicare than social security (one reason to wait until I got home to look things up and post) but it looks to me like it operates EXACTLY the same way as the Social Security Tax.  If you think it is a "contribution" or an insurance policy and not a tax, try declaring income and not paying it!  Had you answered points already made we would have a starting point to discuss that.  Medicare is another component of the payroll tax package we used to call FICA.  Medicare is a 2.9% tax on income/wages and it brings no direct benefit to the one paying it.  It pays out to people 65 and older in the form of health care benefits.  They don't ask the recipient how much they paid in, and if you are under 65 they don't give you Medicare health care benefits, except for the exceptions.  The 'promise' that it will be there when you are 65 or older is non-binding on the government, just like Social Security.  As with social security, that is because each new congress elected every two years has the power to end or change every program.  If they did not have that power, it fails a test we used to call 'consent of the governed'.
Schedule SE calculates the self employment tax which includes the Social Security and Medicare tax. It is based on Schedule C - Business Income: Also Schedule F - Farm Income.  The tax is .9235 x 15.3%, temporarily reduced to 13.3%.  In other words the self employed pay double - BOTH the employee and employer halves of FICA tax.  There is no FICA / SE tax on schedule B income (dividends), Schedule D income (Capital Gains) or Schedule E income (rental real estate).
I did not say I never paid S.S. taxes, just that I don't currently receive wages or business income that applies to Schedules 'C' or 'SE'.  Take my situation as hypothetical, it is not a mandate on all citizens so it is not at all the same as the health care mandate.  (Repeating what was ignored) Medicare just like Social Security is a direct tax on income that is specifically authorized in the 16th amendment to the constitution: "Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes".  Where (repeating the ignored question) does the constitution expressly authorize the power of congress to impose in ObamaCare a mandate to buy a private product??  If it is "not delegated to the United States by the Constitution" then it is "reserved to the states and to the people" - meaning it is NOT A FEDERAL POWER.

A better analogy would have been auto liability insurance except that it is not imposed on everyone and this has been extensively argued in courts.  It is a choice to drive, and that mandate for drivers on public streets is a power reserved to the states and to the people.  In the Obamacare case, it is 26 states suing the federal government for usurping their power.  The majority of states say it is a power reserved to states, yet you deny there is a question, not just disagree with the answer.   sad

Repeating my other question, when did we quit acknowledging the need to AMEND the constitution in order to create a new federal power.  If you can't point to the authority for a power granted in the constitution, then just tell us you no longer live in a constitutionally based, limited government Republic.  Maybe you are right.

5527  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: November 16, 2011, 03:08:32 PM
Soc. security is a tax made legal by the 16th. The 'contract' to pay you later is non-binding on the goverment.  Your s.s. statement always says estimate with an asterisk.  It is not a mandate.  I don't pay any.  Just choose no income.  What in that did you think in that is comparable to mandating that every citizen purchase of a private product from a private company?

Constitution haters today should do what income tax advocates did back then - pass a new amendment if you want to authorize a new power previously left to the states or to the people.
5528  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: November 16, 2011, 12:45:13 PM
It will be interesting to see what Bigdog says.  The facts are different but my understanding was that Clarence Thomas was not unduly influenced by people he knows including his wife, nor would he recuse himself.  Kagan I think was personally involved with this legislation, but I believe they are their own judge of conflict of interest and the decision to recuse.  These questions remind us of why Presidential and Senatorial elections matter greatly.

Clearly the constitution authorizes all power with no limits (sarc.), it will be argued.  They never really meant that 'the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people', did they?

It will be argued in court that the mandate is really a tax even though it was argued explicitly on the congressional floor of debate and to the people that it is NOT a tax.  I'm wondering if anyone who makes that duplicitous argument in front of the Supreme Court will be charged with Contempt, handcuffed and hauled out of there.
5529  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness: Hawaii is in Asia? on: November 16, 2011, 08:44:55 AM
From Media Issues:

Similar disorientations destroyed the futures of people like Palin, Bachmann, Cain and Perry.  Do you think he still has a shot at his nomination?  Why are slips like this okay, asked and answered in the post: he is a Democrat.  My question, why is the double standard so widely accepted?

My take, innocent slip with no attempt at correction - just a glimpse into his mind. He is not new to Hawaii nor was he confused about where he was standing and speaking.  He just never thought of himself as being from America.  Like Superman, he is from somewhere else.  Not Kenyan, Indonesian, Honolulan, Chicagoan or anywhere that specific, certainly not from Kansas, just somewhere else.
5530  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Way Forward: To Increase Jobs, Increase Economic Freedom on: November 16, 2011, 12:38:38 AM

To Increase Jobs, Increase Economic Freedom
Business is not a zero-sum game struggling over a fixed pie. Instead it grows and makes the total pie larger, creating value for all of its major stakeholders, including employees and communities.


Is the United States exceptional? Of course we are! Two hundred years ago we were one of the poorest countries in the world. We accounted for less than 1% of the world's total GDP. Today our GDP is 23% of the world's total and more than twice as large as the No. 2 country's, China.

America became the wealthiest country because for most of our history we have followed the basic principles of economic freedom: property rights, freedom to trade internationally, minimal governmental regulation of business, sound money, relatively low taxes, the rule of law, entrepreneurship, freedom to fail, and voluntary exchange.

The success of economic freedom in increasing human prosperity, extending our life spans and improving the quality of our lives in countless ways is the most extraordinary global story of the past 200 years. Gross domestic product per capita has increased by a factor of 1,000% across the world and almost 2,000% in the U.S. during these last two centuries. In 1800, 85% of everyone alive lived on less than $1 per day (in 2000 dollars). Today only 17% do. If current long-term trend lines of economic growth continue, we will see abject poverty almost completely eradicated in the 21st century. Business is not a zero-sum game struggling over a fixed pie. Instead it grows and makes the total pie larger, creating value for all of its major stakeholders—customers, employees, suppliers, investors and communities.

So why is our economy barely growing and unemployment stuck at over 9%? I believe the answer is very simple: Economic freedom is declining in the U.S. In 2000, the U.S. was ranked third in the world behind only Hong Kong and Singapore in the Index of Economic Freedom, published annually by this newspaper and the Heritage Foundation. In 2011, we fell to ninth behind such countries as Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Ireland.

The reforms we need to make are extensive. I want to make a few suggestions that, as an independent, I hope will stimulate thinking and constructive discussion among concerned Americans no matter what their politics are.

Most importantly, we need to radically cut the size and cost of government. One hundred years ago the total cost of government at all levels in the U.S.—local, state and federal—was only 8% of our GDP. In 2010, it was 40%. Government is gobbling up trillions of dollars from our economy to feed itself through high taxes and unprecedented deficit spending—money that could instead be used by individuals to improve their lives and by entrepreneurs to create jobs. Government debt is growing at such a rapid rate that the Congressional Budget Office projects that in the next 70 years public money spent on interest annually will grow to almost 41.4% of GDP ($27.2 trillion) from 1.4% of GDP ($204 billion) in 2010. Today interest on our debt represents about a third of the cost of Social Security; in only 20 years it is estimated that it will exceed the cost of that program.

Only if we focus on cutting costs in the four most expensive government programs—Defense, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, which together with interest account for about two-thirds of the overall budget—can we make a significant positive impact.

Our defense budget now accounts for 43% of all military spending in the entire world—more than the next 14 largest defense budgets combined. It is time for us to scale back our military commitments and reduce our spending to something more in line with our percentage of the world GDP, or 23%. Doing this would save more than $300 billion every year.

Social Security and Medicare need serious reforms to be sustainable over the long term. The demographic crisis for these entitlement programs has now arrived as 10,000 baby boomers are projected to retire every day for the next 19 years. Retirement ages need to be steadily raised to reflect our increased longevity. These programs should also be means-tested. Countries such as Chile and Singapore successfully privatized their retirement programs, making them sustainable. We should move in a similar direction by giving everyone the option to voluntarily opt out of the governmental system into private alternatives, phasing this in over time to help keep the current system solvent.

In addition, tax reform is essential to jobs and prosperity. Most tax deductions and loopholes should be eliminated, combined with significant tax rate reductions. A top tax rate of 15% to 20% with no deductions would be fairer, greatly stimulate economic growth and job creation, and would reduce deficits by increasing total taxes paid to the federal government.

Why would taxes collected go up if rates go down? Two reasons—first, tax shelters such as the mortgage interest deduction used primarily by more affluent taxpayers would be eliminated; and secondly, the taxable base would increase considerably as entrepreneurs create new businesses and new jobs, and as people earn more money. Many Eastern European countries implemented low flat tax rates in the past decade, including Russia in 2001 (13%) and Ukraine in 2004 (15%), and experienced strong economic growth and increased tax revenues.

Corporate taxes also need to be reformed. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the U.S.'s combined state and federal corporate tax rate of 39.2% became the highest in the world after Japan cut its rates this April. A reduction to 26% would equal the average corporate tax rate in the 15 largest industrialized countries. That would help our companies to use their capital more productively to grow and create jobs in the U.S

Government regulations definitely need to be reformed. According to the Small Business Administration, total regulatory costs amount to about $1.75 trillion annually, nearly twice as much as all individual income taxes collected last year. While some regulations create important safeguards for public health and the environment, far too many simply protect existing business interests and discourage entrepreneurship. Specifically, many government regulations in education, health care and energy prevent entrepreneurship and innovation from revolutionizing and re-energizing these very important parts of our economy.

A simple reform that would make a monumental difference would be to require all federal regulations to have a sunset provision. All regulations should automatically expire after 10 years unless a mandatory cost-benefit analysis has been completed that proves the regulations have created significantly more societal benefit than harm. Currently thousands of new regulations are added each year and virtually none ever disappear.

According to a recent poll, more than two-thirds of Americans now believe that America is in "decline." While we are certainly going through difficult times our decline is not inevitable—it can and must be reversed. The U.S. is still an extraordinary country by almost any measure. If we once again embrace the principles of individual and economic freedom that made us both prosperous and exceptional, we can help lead the world towards a better future for all.

Mr. Mackey, co-founder and co-CEO of Whole Foods Market, is a member of the Job Creators Alliance, a nonprofit devoted to preserving free enterprise.
5531  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Energy Politics: Glibness fails the Keystone test on: November 16, 2011, 12:33:15 AM

    NOVEMBER 16, 2011

The Keystone Debacle
Was Obama's decision to delay the Canadian oil pipeline shrewd politics? Maybe not.


The U.S. decision to allow the Keystone XL pipeline to go forward should have been easy.

The pipeline would mean at least 20,000 new construction jobs. It would provide lower cost and reliable shipping opportunities for surging North Dakota oil production. Shipping petroleum from Canada's oil sands to the Gulf of Mexico means refiners there would gain a ready replacement for declining supplies of Mexican and Venezuelan crude. Most importantly, it would reinforce expectations that massive and long-term North American infrastructure investments could proceed free of political risk.

And yet the Obama administration's decision to delay the project, despite already extensive and positive environmental review, puts all this in jeopardy.

Both Canada and the United States benefit from highly integrated energy and investment flows. Keystone XL's owner, TransCanada, has already spent more than $2 billion for steel and related facilities. All previous cross-border pipeline requests have been granted, and the U.S. imports over 2.5 million barrels per day of Canadian crude oil and petroleum products. U.S. refiners also ship large volumes of petroleum products to Eastern Canada, taking advantage of geographic transportation efficiencies.

Under the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta), no permits are required for shipment of Canadian crude to U.S. destinations by either rail, ocean tanker, or even incremental volumes through existing cross-border pipelines. The creation of a stable investment regime was central to the treaty, and U.S. negotiators successfully argued against reluctant Canadian negotiators that U.S. companies be given full national treatment when investing in Canada.

For Canadians, it was unthinkable that a U.S. president would pull the plug after extensive reviews and 57 project-specific requirements exceeding all U.S. pipeline safety standards, including satellite-linked, computerized leak-detection systems and puncture-resistant steel pipe. Even one of TransCanada's competitors, Enbridge, which ships Canadian crude through existing cross-border pipelines, supported the Keystone permit: Any interruption in the historic bilateral energy trade relationship was a more serious threat to its business than crude shipments by competitors.

The decision to delay the project is such a shift in expectations on the future of U.S.-Canadian energy trade that perhaps the only surprising outcome is that Prime Minister Stephen Harper has not recalled his ambassador. He did announce that shipping the crude to Asia will now receive the highest priority.

A decision to proceed with the pipeline would have sent a strong signal to the world petroleum market (including OPEC) that North America is putting into place a long-term and sustained strategy for expanding domestic oil supplies. True, the administration has stated that it is not denying the cross-border permit, but merely addressing the concerns of Nebraska Republicans who seek an alternative route. Nevertheless, the heavy pressure exerted on the administration by its environmentalist followers was obvious and very public. And in the best of circumstances, federal environmental review of a new route may take over a year.

We are in the early stages of sustained and large increases in domestic crude oil output from the same hydraulic fracturing technology that brought us the shale gas revolution. New crude supplies, combined with the current surge in natural gas production, offer the promise of a renaissance in long-moribund petrochemical processing and petroleum refining industries. The capital now sitting on the sidelines is ready to come off the bench and fund profitable projects. But it will not be deployed if there's a political risk that cannot be contained.

Should we then at least give Mr. Obama credit for a shrewd political strategy? The decision to punt on the project may indeed energize the president's environmental base for the November 2012 presidential election. But that's not the only political effect it could have.

Consider the crucial swing state of Ohio. The Buckeye State's vast Utica oil shale deposit, which now has well over one million acres under lease to companies such as Chesapeake, Hess and Devon, is likely to see some positive results in crude oil production over the next 12 months. On the eve of the presidential election, we may very well be in the early stages of an Ohio oil boom and the promise of coming prosperity.

Which candidate can make the promise that this opportunity will not be brought to a halt by the vast array of job-killing federal agencies? The one who visibly shut down the Keystone XL pipeline and remains engaged in promoting federal initiatives to curtail domestic oil and gas production, or his Republican opponent?

Mr. Pugliaresi is president of the Energy Policy Research Foundation.
5532  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 2012 Presidential: Romney attacks Obama on 'Lazy Americans' comment on: November 16, 2011, 12:28:46 AM
Romney does two things right here.  Goes after Obama on another one of these revealing deep thoughts, and in the piece he is photographed in an American factory with his hair mussed.

According to the piece he may not have the Obama quote perfect and to that I would say to the President welcome to the club.  You Mr. President and NYT distort for a living. (IMHO)

“We’ve been a little bit lazy over the last couple of decades,” Mr. Obama said. “We’ve kind of taken for granted — ‘Well, people would want to come here’ — and we aren’t out there hungry, selling America and trying to attract new businesses into America.”

Mr. Romney’s critique sounded a familiar theme in the Republican primary contest — that the president is out of touch with the ordinary American worker.

Mr. Romney, in an attempt to paint the president as out of touch, focused much of his speech here on reciting a litany of statements by Mr. Obama that he disagrees with.

“Before that, I think it was in October, he was saying that we have lost our inventiveness and our ambition, and before that, he was saying other disparaging things about America, and he was saying that we just weren’t working hard enough,” Mr. Romney said.

“I don’t think he gets what’s happening in this country, because the people in America are just as imaginative, just as ambitious and just as hard-working as ever,” Mr. Romney said. “In fact, we are the most productive nation in the world. The things we make per person in America exceeds that of any other country in the world. Our problem is not that the private sector isn’t productive enough. The problem is the government sector is too heavy and too burdensome, and is keeping the private sector from growing and thriving like it should.”
5533  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / The Power of the Word: Capitalism is good. Very good. on: November 15, 2011, 12:00:13 PM
I like this post of Rachel's very much.  Working hard, creating value, providing well for your family and putting yourself in a position where you can be voluntarily helping others instead of needing help, these are strong, positive, moral, religious qualities.  I wish they were more widely accepted and practiced.

Legitimate commercial activities of hard work, save and invest should never be confused with cheating, buying favors or trying to change the rules to advance your position. 
Quoting the piece: "Capitalism has been a—if not the—major force in diminishing war between nations and creating tolerance between peoples. It has allowed literally billions more people to share the planet and—percentage-wise—at a much greater standard of living. Today, thanks to capitalism, each year 70 million people leave hand-to-mouth living to become consumers-by-choice—and poverty rates are expected to continue their sharp decline. Without capitalism, democracy would never have proven successful, medicine could never have advanced, worldwide humanitarian efforts would be absurd and I would never have been able to compose this editorial and get it out to you so fast."
5534  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 2012 Presidential: Cain's woman problem on: November 14, 2011, 01:25:43 PM
Sorry no link until she admits it but it has come to my attention that Herman Cain's wife is an Obama Democrat.  I posted my view on that regarding the lost years of Ahnold in the Calif thread.  If he slept with the restaurant gals, had govt officials arrange it, and if occupied the other party he could have been the 42nd President.

The truth test of allegations is measured in a poll?  "50% of all Americans say..."  Not all Americans have looked carefully into this and not all Americans vote at all much less in Republican primaries in early key states.  For one thing it is called push polling and is scientifically tainted to run (Google search) "about 67,700,000 results for Cain allegations" and then ask people for their response and get a 50/50 split.  For anyone out there believing the ONE accusation known, please answer convincingly: when did YOU quit beating your wife?

Newt does not deny a 6 year relationship during marriage 2 and his numbers are surging. 

Cain has a two edged problem.  While his support is softening, his cash donations are surging.  Usually quitting the race has to do with running out of money as you run low on support.

It was THE story of the last 2 weeks, but the thigh touching allegation is not the only dynamic in the Cain candidacy or the Republican contest.  There are foreign policy questions and there are voters with doubts on economic plans and there are people who do believe him but worry about electability.
5535  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cognitive dissonance of the Left on: November 14, 2011, 11:02:37 AM
Keeping up with the leftists in the spirit of balance on the board.  If any real leftist can come forward with better political and economic analysis, please do so.

1) A commenter at Politico with a view into their mindset: "The OWS are the younger, smarter, unemployed version of the Tea Party with the same grievances except the OWS know the evils dwells on Wall Street and the TeaParty wrongly believe that the evil is in Washington."

2) Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman (biased blogger at the NY Times) says the failure of welfare states did not cause Europe’s problems nor is fiscal austerity here any way to avoid their mess.  Oh really?  

3) Complete that 3 legged stool of liberalism with intellectual giant Robert Reich who says: "Don’t even think about cutting the deficit...budget reduction shouldn't be part of the conversation"

4) Over at The Nation they still think the battle is on between capitalism and climate.  No recognition from the last few decades that the anti-capitalist nations were always the filthiest.

Meanwhile over on the right, all 8 candidates have been clear on how to grow the economy of of this malaise.  The one with the least bold plan, Romney,  the one most vague and cautious that would grow us out of this at the very slowest rate is the one (surprisingly) most acceptable and comfortable to the establishment.
5536  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in America on: November 11, 2011, 10:46:39 PM
"As it happens, Norquist worked to help get Ellison elected."

That doesn't make any sense to me but I am all ears if you have something on that. For one thing, with 70% of the vote and about a 3 to 1 advantage over his nearest opponent, Ellison didn't need much outside help. 

Here is a story from July 6th (2011) speeches at the Campus Progress national conference where Jobs Czar Van Jones and Rep. Keith Ellison were trashing a statement made by Norquist:
Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota also jumped on the anti-Norquist bandwagon at the conference. Referencing Jones' speech, Ellison charged, "These same people who want to shrink government 'till you can drown it in a bathtub also get back in the kitchen and take her shoes off and get pregnant..."

5537  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: November 11, 2011, 02:33:49 PM
"Disagree completely.   The MSM needs "product"!"

My 2cents, Reagan began the technique of putting out the story for the evening news and staying with that one story all day so the networks had to cover it.  He had a gift of simplicity and staying on message.  Newt doesn't, but he could push his challenge until it gets covered.  And then what?

Debates in this situation always elevate the challenger to be on the same stage at the same level as the Commander in Chief, leader of the free world. That alone is a victory for the challenger. The incumbent with all the advantages of incumbency always tries to avoid that, then agrees only to only what is necessary or customary.  Obama will laugh off the demands of a challenger dictating terms, while throwing mud back at him.  Then he will settle (my best guess) with having one of the traditional debates be in the format Newt is demanding.  From that, the evening news will still pick just one 10 second sound bite out of that exchange and their story will not be that Newt ate the President's lunch.  People will have to watch to get that.
5538  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Tax Policy, Prof. Epstein: Three Cheers for Income Inequality on: November 11, 2011, 01:58:53 PM
First, I must say 2 thumbs up for the 2 part answer from Crafty about why things aren't better with high tax rates.  This explanation needs to be copied and saved over to the economic highlights film hall of fame thread.  grin

I would add that beside screwing up the allocation of money and investment, the tax avoidance industry steers too many of our very best and brightest people into the standing still industries of dealing with these complexities instead of inventing, innovating, building, hiring, marketing and selling real goods and services.  The loss to our economy is immeasurable.

Justice Pitney in Coppage v. Kansas, “it is from the nature of things impossible to uphold freedom of contract and the right of private property without at the same time recognizing as legitimate those inequalities of fortune that are the necessary result of the exercise of those rights.”

I find this piece below on income inequality to be a nice follow up to Crafty's post; Prof. Epstein is answering against the call for using the tax code to make up for income inequalities, also a good example of the economic coverage asked of Newt that is missing or inaccurate today.  I don't know why it is so hard to explain that income inequality is a good thing.  It is a natural and necessary phenomenon that happens when people live in a free society and make free choices.  We are so lucky to live in a time and a place where most people can and do move freely between all or at least 3 or 4 of the income quintiles in their lifetime.  Income inequality is the ladder.  If all incomes were the same (which means low), how would you climb up?  "inequalities in wealth pay for themselves by the vast increases in wealth" 

Throughout this piece Epstein makes the distinction of income legitimately earned.  Accepting inequality is not an arguement for theft or unfair advantage in our laws or enforcement.  In a free society people will make choices and produce amounts different in value from others and different from what they will make at other points in their own life.  It is a fact, not an issue.

Who makes more, Derek Jeeter or his batboy? Jeeter. Which one is living the American dream?  Both, I hope.

Interesting to note that the Occupy movement began in a down period where income share of the top 1% has actually fallen, and the loss to the public treasury is disproportionately large because of the higher tax rates that apply to that income no longer earned.

Epstein makes many good points but one is that we might not accept the idea of a flat tax, but why does that mean that the exact level of progressivity in the tax code of a failing economy is the right one and must be preserved.  I highly recommend that you read carefully all the way through this.

Taxing the top one percent even more means less wealth and fewer jobs for the rest of us.

The 2008 election was supposed to bring to the United States a higher level of civil discourse. Fast-forward three years and exactly the opposite has happened. A stalled economy brings forth harsh recriminations. As recent polling data reveals, the American public is driven by two irreconcilable emotions. The first is a deep distrust of government, which has driven the approval rate for Congress below ten percent. The second is a strong egalitarian impulse that directs its fury to the top one percent of income earners. Thus the same people who want government to get out of their lives also want government to increase taxes on the rich and corporations.  They cannot have it both ways.

I voiced some of my objections to these two points in an interview on PBS, which sparked much controversy. The topic merits much more attention.

What are the origins of inequality? Start with a simple world in which all individuals own their labor. Acting in their self-interest (which includes that of family and friends), they seek to improve their lot in life. They cannot use force to advance their own position. Thus, they are left with two alternatives: individual labor and cooperative voluntary ventures.

Voluntary ventures will normally emerge only when all parties to them entertain expectations of gain from entering into these transactions. In some cases, to be sure, these expectations will be dashed. All risky ventures do not pan out. But on average and over time, the few failures cannot derail the many successes. People will make themselves better off.

The rub is that they need not do so at even rates. The legitimate origin of the inequality of wealth lies in the simple observation that successful actors outperform unsuccessful ones, without violating their rights. As was said long ago by Justice Pitney in Coppage v. Kansas, “it is from the nature of things impossible to uphold freedom of contract and the right of private property without at the same time recognizing as legitimate those inequalities of fortune that are the necessary result of the exercise of those rights.”

So why uphold this combination of property and contract rights? Not because of atavistic fascination for venerable legal institutions. Rather, it is because voluntary exchanges improve overall social welfare. This works in three stages.

First, these transactions, on average, will make all parties to them better off. The only way the rich succeed is by helping their trading partners along the way.

Second, the successes of the rich afford increased opportunities for gain to other people in the form of new technologies and businesses for others to exploit.

Voluntary exchanges improve overall social welfare.

Third, the initial success of the rich businessman paves the way for competitors to enter the marketplace. This, in turn, spurs the original businessman to make further improvements to his own goods and services.

In this system, the inequalities in wealth pay for themselves by the vast increases in wealth.

Any defense of wealth inequalities through voluntary means is, however, subject to a powerful caveat: The wealth must be acquired by legitimate means, which do not include aid in the form of state subsidies, state protection, or any other special gimmick. The rich who prosper from these policies do not deserve their wealth. Neither does anyone else who resorts to the same tactics.

As an empirical matter, large businesses, labor unions, and agricultural interests that have profited from government protections have drained huge amounts of wealth from the system. Undoing these protections may or may not change the various indices of inequality. But it will increase the overall size of the pie by improving the overall level of system efficiency.

The hard question that remains is this: To what extent will the United States, or any other nation, profit by a concerted effort to redress inequalities of wealth?

Again the answer depends on the choice of means. Voluntary forms of redistribution through major charitable foundations pose no threat to the accumulation of wealth. Indeed, they spur its creation by affording additional reasons to acquire levels of wealth that no rational agent could possibly consume.

Forced transfers of wealth through taxation will have the opposite effect. They will destroy the pools of wealth that are needed to generate new ventures, and they will dull the system-wide incentives to create wealth in the first place. There are many reasons for this system-wide failure.

First, the use of state coercion to remedy inequalities of wealth is not easily done. The most obvious method for doing so is by creating subsidies for people at the bottom, which are offset by high rates of taxation for people at the top. The hope is that high taxes will do little to blunt economic activity at the high end, while the payments will do little to dull initiative at the low end.

But this program is much more difficult to implement than is commonly supposed. The process of income redistribution opens up opportunities for powerful groups to secure transfers of wealth to themselves. This does nothing to redress inequalities of wealth. Even if these political players are constrained, there is still no costless way to transfer wealth up and down the income scale.

The administrative costs of running a progressive income tax system are legion. Unfortunately, that point was missed in a recent op-ed. Writing in the New York Times, Cornell economist Robert H. Frank plumped hard for steeper progressive income tax rates as a way to amend income inequality.

There is no costless way to transfer wealth up and down the income scale.

Yet matters are not nearly as simple as he supposes. In his view, the source of complexity in the current income tax code lies in the plethora of special interest provisions that make it difficult to calculate income by recognized standard economic measures. Thus, he thinks that it is “flatly wrong” to think that the flat tax will result in tax simplification. After all, it is just as easy to read a tax schedule that has progressive rates as one that has a uniform flat rate.

But more than reading tax schedules is at stake. First, one reason why the internal revenue code contains such complexity is its desire to combat the private strategies that people, especially those in the top one percent, use to avoid high levels of taxation. Anyone who has spent time in dealing with family trusts and partnerships, with income averaging, with the use of real estate shelters, and with foreign investments, knows just how hard it is to protect the progressive rate schedule against manipulation.

Second, the creation of these large tax loopholes is not some act of nature. Frank, like so many defenders of progressive taxation, fails to realize that progressive rates generate huge pressures to create new tax shelters. Lower the overall tax rates and the pressure to create tax gimmicks with real economic costs diminishes. Overall social output is higher with a flat tax than it is with a progressive one.

Third, the dangers posed by the use of progressive taxation are not confined to these serious administrative issues. There are also larger questions of political economy at stake. The initial question is just how steep the progressive tax ought to be.

Keep it too shallow, and it does little to generate additional public revenues to justify the added cost of administration. Make it too steep, and it will reduce the incentives to create wealth that are always unambiguously stronger under a flat tax system. But since no one knows the optimal level of progressivity, vast quantities of wealth are dissipated in fighting over these levels. The flat tax removes that dimension of political intrigue.

Fourth, sooner or later—and probably sooner—high tax rates will kill growth. Progressives like Frank operate on the assumption that high taxation rates have little effect on investment by asking whether anyone would quit a cushy job just to save a few tax dollars. But the situation is in reality far more complex. One key to success in the United States lies in its ability to attract foreign labor and foreign capital to our shores. In this we are in competition with other nations whose tax policies are far more favorable to new investment than ours. The loss of foreign people and foreign capital is not easy to observe because we cannot identify with certainty most of the individuals who decide to go elsewhere. But we should at the very least note that there is the risk of a brain drain as the best and brightest foreign workers who came to the United States in search of economic opportunity ultimately may return home. They will likely not want to brave the hostile business climate that they see in the United States.

Fifth, sophisticated forms of tax avoidance are not limited to foreign laborers. Rich people have a choice of tax-free and taxable investments. They can increase transfers to family members in order to reduce the incidence of high progressive taxation. They can retire a year sooner, or go part-time to reduce their tax burdens. And of course, they can fight the incidence of higher taxation by using their not inconsiderable influence in the tax arenas.

The incentives to create wealth are stronger under a flat tax system.

Sixth, the inefficiencies created by a wide range of tax and business initiatives reduces the wealth earned by people in that top one percent, and thus the tax base on which the entire redistributive state depends. Defenders of progressive taxation, like Frank, cite the recent report of the Congressional Budget Office, which shows huge increases of wealth in the top one percent from 1979 to 2007. The top one percent increased its wealth by 275 percent in those years. The rest of the income distribution lagged far behind.

Unfortunately, the CBO report was out of date the day it was published. We now have tax data available that runs through 2009, which shows the folly of seeking to rely on heavier rates of taxation on the top one percent. The Tax Foundation’s October 24, 2011 report, contains this solemn reminder of the risks of soaking the rich in bad times:

    In 2009, the top 1 percent of tax returns paid 36.7 percent of all federal individual income taxes and earned 16.9 percent of adjusted gross income (AGI), compared to 2008 when those figures were 38.0 percent and 20.0 percent, respectively. Both of those figures—share of income and share of taxes paid—were their lowest since 2003 when the top 1 percent earned 16.7 percent of adjusted gross income and paid 34.3 percent of federal individual income taxes.

It is worth adding that the income of the top one percent also dropped 20 percent between 2007 and 2008, with a concomitant loss in tax revenues.

There are several disturbing implications that flow from this report. The first is that these figures explain the vulnerability in bad times of our strong dependence on high-income people to fund the transfer system. The current contraction in wealth at the top took place with only few new taxes. The decline in taxable income at the top will only shrink further if tax rates are raised.  A mistake, therefore, in setting tax rate increases could easily wreck the entire system. Indeed, the worst possible outcome would be for high taxation to lower top incomes drastically. Right now, for better or worse, the entire transfer system of the United States is dependent on the continued success of high-income earners whom the egalitarians would like to punish.

Put otherwise, if a person at the middle of the income distribution loses a dollar in income, the federal government loses nothing in income tax revenues. Let a rich person suffer that decline and the revenue loss at the federal level is close to 40 percent, with more losses at the state level. The slow growth policies of the last three years have cost far more in revenue from the top one percent than any increase in progressive taxation could possibly hope to achieve. The more we move toward an equal income policy, the more we shall need tax increases on the middle class to offset the huge revenue losses at the top. Our current political economy makes the bottom 99 percent hostage to the continued success of the rich.

The dangers of the current obsession with income inequality should be clear. The rhetorical excesses of people like Robert Frank make it ever easier to champion a combination of high taxation schemes coupled with ever more stringent regulations of labor and capital markets. Together, these schemes spell the end of the huge paydays of the top one percent. Those earners depend heavily on a growth in asset value, which is just not happening today.

But what about the flat tax? Frank and others are right to note that a return to the flat tax will result in an enormous redistribution of income to the top one percent from everyone else. But why assume that the current level of progressivity sets the legitimate baseline, especially in light of the current anemic levels of economic growth? What theory justifies progressive taxation in the first place? The current system presupposes that this nation can continue to fund the aspirations of 99 percent out of the wealth of the one percent. That will prove to be unsustainable. A return to a flatter tax (ideally a flat) tax will have just the short-term consequences that Frank fears.   It will undo today’s massively redistributivist policies. But it will also go a long way toward unleashing growth in our heavily regulated and taxed economy.   

The United States is now in the midst of killing the goose that lays the golden eggs. That current strategy is failing in the face of economic stagnation, even with no increase in tax rates. It will quickly crumble if tax increases are used to feed the current coalition of unions and farmers who will receive much of the revenue, while the employment prospects of ordinary people languish for want of the major capital investments that often depend on the wealth of the privileged one percent of the population.

The clarion call for more income equality puts short-term transfers ahead of long-term growth. Notwithstanding the temper of the times, that siren call should be stoutly resisted. Enterprise and growth, not envy and stagnation, are the keys to economic revival.

Richard A. Epstein, the Peter and Kirsten Bedford Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, is the Laurence A. Tisch Professor of Law, New York University Law School, and a senior lecturer at the University of Chicago. His areas of expertise include constitutional law, intellectual property, and property rights. His most recent books are The Case against the Employee Free Choice Act (Hoover Press, 2009) and Supreme Neglect: How to Revive the Constitutional Protection for Private Property (Oxford Press, 2008).
5539  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The cognitive dissonance of the left on: November 11, 2011, 12:55:06 PM
No blacks, but how many welders out of Flint Michigan have a piece of lakeshore like that?  Maybe none, but they all helped to pay for it.  I find the footprint to be different than the view and both different from what value should be.  I would say he is still building and adding on.  Like Gore and Edwards, quite a bit of forest clear cutting is going on there. 

I will regret suggesting this, but how about Occupy Torch Lake?  How about tying up some some rotten pontoons and house boats to fill the public space in front all summer and then demanding access to the private restrooms - like they do at his protests.  Interest in private property rights begins with having something to protect.

There is no doubt that Michael Moore is a wealthy man.  How did he get his start: 'Moore sued for wrongful dismissal (from 4 months as editor of Mother Jones magazine), and settled out of court for $58,000, providing him with seed money for his first film, Roger & Me.  Capitalism is a beautiful thing.
5540  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: November 10, 2011, 11:13:32 AM
Interesting followup points on the debate from Crafty.  Gingrich for sure is emerging as the alternative with the best timed surge to challenge Romney, but I think Romney will be the nominee.  We will see.  Gingrich's best moments may have been when his peers picked him for VP.  That makes him look Presidential though it still is the male vote.  The line about humor disguised as a question was excellent.  When did the media get its economic coverage wrong, you must be joking, when have they ever gotten it right?

Who knows what to make of the Perry oops moment, radio news versions leave out the awkward struggling, but comedy shows won't.  It exposed an inability to think on his feet and work around it.  Should I suppose have quickly shifted to insisting on using his time to expand on the first two points.  On follow up then insisted there will be plenty of federal programs facing the chopping block.  I would prefer a discussion only of what federal functions we will keep.  His stand on energy was already well-known.  Other than that my reaction to Perry is somewhat neutral, not as negative as Crafty.  For Perry, this was another great opportunity to gain momentum and he didn't.

AP has a story today, Romney stronger than ever:

I think the truth on Romney is in between that assessment and the Morris take, is the glass 1/4 full or 3/4 empty?  Tea Party types want better than Romney because it is still early and are still searching. They want electability, but they also want true conservatism and they want the power or persuasion to get it all done.  

But the early part of the process is going to wrap up quickly.  Iowa is Jan3.  New Hampshire Jan. 10.  South Carolina Jan. 21, Florida Jan. 31 and 4 more the week of Feb and done with super Tuesday on March 6. That means the one on one part of the general election campaign will likely be at least 7,  8 or perhaps 9 months long!  Voters will pick the lowest risk candidate to hold up and prevail through all that.  Who right now is that lowest risk candidate?

If Romney is the nominee, he will have promised a hundred thousand times to end Obamacare on his first day and have espoused endlessly his mostly conservative economic principles as contrasted with the incumbent.  Whatever he thinks states should do, he won't suddenly spring Massachusetts Romneycare on the nation.  He is smart enough to know, even if just poll savvy, that he can't win without nearly 100% of conservatives and more than half of the center.  Obama will still be defending Obamacare, will never agree to end it, and will be inciting envy and division, whining about the need more failed artificial stimuli, and about how it is all other people's fault.  

The vanilla candidate (no racial slur intended) unfortunately has the greatest ability to keep the focus on the failed opponent.
5541  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in America on: November 09, 2011, 01:53:42 PM
Funny that an unelected low tax advocate citizen who discusses tax issues with some conservatives is married to a Muslim and has alleged ties to CAIR is a threat to the Republic:

"If by now Republicans can’t smell a rat — a Pied Piper of rats, no less — they have failed miserably in their constitutional duty to “defend the constitution from all enemies foreign and domestic.” "

But from where I post, it was the elected representative of the people in Congress who was the keynote speaker for CAIR.  He is in Washington voting on every issue, not just a voter with suspicious connections talking with candidates about tax concerns. 
5542  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Where has all the zero base-line budgeting gone? Deficit spending = child abuse on: November 09, 2011, 12:28:52 PM
"Deficit spending is an unconscionable form of fiscal child abuse."  - Stephen Moore, 1996

Contract with America
On the first day of their majority in the House, the Republicans promised to pass eight major reforms:
"8. guarantee an honest accounting of the Federal Budget by implementing zero base-line budgeting."

I assume that Newt kept his promise on that first day, held that vote and passed that item.  Then it died in the Senate??  No followup?  Focus and staying power were weaknesses of that leadership.  We needed that one reform and successfully posed and passed the question with the American people for it to become law and stay law.  A Google search of when it was repealed yields nothing!  It was swept under the carpet, allowed to quietly die even while we achieved a TEMPORARY balance of the budget.

Here is Stephen Moore in 1996, then of Cato, calling for the exact same reforms, zero baseline budgeting, dynamic scoring of tax reforms etc 2 years AFTER the Contract with America! Imagine that, they thought spending growth was out of control in 1996 at 1.5 trillion, now we approach $4 trillion.  They were right!

Cato Policy Report, July/August 1996
Seven Reforms to Balance the Budget

by Stephen Moore

Stephen Moore is director of fiscal policy studies at the Cato Institute and author Government: America's #1 Growth Industry (1995). This article is based on testimony he delivered before the House Committee on Government Reform and Oversight on March 27, 1996.

Over the past 50 years Congress has lost all control over federal spending. As Table 1 shows, even after adjusting for inflation, the federal government spends almost four times more today than it did 40 years ago. Entitlement spending has seen the largest growth. My overall conclusion from the data is that government today is America's number-one growth industry.

A top priority for this Congress should be passage of a new budget act. The 1974 Budget Reform and Impoundment Control Act has been a monumental failure. One of the purposes of that act was to eliminate deficit spending, but this is the actual legacy of that legislation: in the 20 years before the act, the federal deficit averaged just 1 percent of gross domestic product, or $30 billion 1994 dollars. In the 20 years since the 1974 act, the average budget deficit has been $170 billion per year, or 3.5 percent of GDP. We have accumulated more than $4 trillion in debt since 1976. By any objective standard, the budget process has not worked better under the 1974 act--it has worked much worse.

Figure 1 (go to the link) shows how the budget deficit has grown since Harry S. Truman was president. Despite recent progress in reducing the deficit, the long-term prognosis remains grim. In fact, the Congressional Budget Office predicts that if we stick with the Clinton budget plan, the deficit will begin rising after 1996 and reach a record high of $350 billion within 10 years.

The 1974 Budget Act cannot be fixed. Tinkering won't do the trick. Congress ought to repeal the act before it does more damage to our national economy.

The centerpiece of any budget reform quite clearly should be an amendment to the Constitution outlawing deficit spending. Most members of this committee are keenly aware of the need for a balanced-budget requirement, so I will not dwell on it.

Deficit spending is an unconscionable form of fiscal child abuse. There are hundreds of groups in Washington that pretend to speak for the interests of children. But who in Washington, among the thousands of powerful special-interest lobbyists and self-proclaimed do-gooders, speaks for the children who are going to have to pay off our irresponsible debts? The single most pro-child policy that any of us can pursue in Washington today is to reduce the crushing burden of debt our government is now preparing to place on the next generation's backs.

I sincerely wish that we did not need a constitutional amendment to cure Washington's addiction to red ink. Unfortunately, the destruction of our nation's once firmly held moral rule against deficit spending--what James Buchanan called "the collapse of the constitutional consensus"--requires us to amend our Constitution and command Congress to do what it used to feel honor bound to do--balance the budget.

Tax-and-spend opponents of a balanced-budget amendment argue that a constitutional requirement is just "a gimmick." No one really believes that. If the amendment were a gimmick, Congress would have approved it long ago. Defense contractors, corporate lobbyists, federal workers, teachers' unions, the welfare industry, and other powerful special-interest groups ferociously attack the amendment, not because they think it won't work, but because they shudder at the thought that it will. What frightens the predator economy in Washington is that gift-bearing politicians may have the federal credit card taken away from them.

The U.S. House of Representatives last year wisely approved a balanced-budget amendment, but it was defeated in the Senate. The matter is now out of your hands. The real issue is, What can be done in the meantime to make the budget process work better and to end deficit spending?

Last year the House passed a courageous budget, crafted by Budget Committee chairman John Kasich, that promised a balanced budget by 2002. But one thing is a virtual certainty: no matter how sincere your intentions of balancing the budget, the deficit will not be eliminated by 2002 unless new budget enforcement rules are implemented to ensure that this admirable, though minimal, goal is honored.

I would urge that a new budget act contain the following seven provisions, which are discussed in order of priority.

1.) An Enforceable Legislative Balanced-Budget Requirement

Don't wait for a balanced-budget amendment. Act now. The most urgent reform for this Congress to undertake is passage of a balanced-budget law that enforces the deficit targets established in the House budget resolution.

What I have in mind is a new Gramm-Rudman-Hollings formula that establishes iron-clad enforceable deficit targets. One of the great myths in Washington is that Gramm-Rudman was repealed because it wasn't working. Gramm-Rudman was repealed by the pro-spending constituencies in Congress precisely because it was working too well.

Gramm-Rudman was enacted in 1985, when Congress was under intense public pressure to immediately reform the budget and reduce the $200 billion budget deficit. The controversial law required Congress to balance the budget by 1991 by meeting a series of annual deficit reduction targets. If Congress missed those targets, the law would trigger automatic spending cuts--a process called "sequestration"--to reduce the deficit to the mandated level.

Critics charge that the act was a dismal failure because Congress continually veered off the balanced-budget track. It is true that Congress routinely missed the deficit targets. Actual deficits under Gramm-Rudman were, on average, about $30 billion per year above maximum deficit targets.

Still, Gramm-Rudman had a positive effect on the federal budget. The best way to measure its impact is to compare the actual deficits recorded during the five years the act was in effect with what the deficit was projected to be by the Congressional Budget Office without Gramm-Rudman. The 1989 deficit was about $100 billion lower than had been expected in 1985 without Gramm-Rudman. The deficit fell from 6 to 3 percent of GDP under Gramm-Rudman.

The most dramatic effect of Gramm-Rudman was to curb government expenditures. Government spending in the five years before the act grew at a rate of 8.7 percent, but it slowed to only 3.2 percent in the five years Gramm-Rudman was in effect. Even entitlement spending was curtailed under Gramm-Rudman to a 5 percent growth rate, because Congress realized that if it allowed programs like Medicare and Medicaid to rise uncontrollably, that would eat up the rest of the budget and cause painful automatic cuts in discretionary spending.

Sen. Phil Gramm (R-Tex.) and House Majority Leader Dick Armey have introduced legislation to restore many of the features of Gramm-Rudman. The most vital reform is a series of deficit reduction targets that, if missed, would trigger automatic across-the-board spending cuts--a sequester. I would urge that any new sequester process include all federal outlays except interest payments and Social Security benefits. That would impose a much-needed dose of discipline on the budget process.

2.) A Supermajority Requirement to Raise Taxes

Americans have been hit with 12 tax hikes in the past 20 years; each one has succeeded in further expanding the size of government rather than reducing the debt. Requiring a three-fifths or two-thirds majority in both the House and the Senate to pass a tax increase would allow Congress to pass tax hikes in cases of national emergency but would make it very difficult for Uncle Sam to continue the annual ritual of peacetime tax hikes. Several states, including Arizona, California, and Oklahoma, have enacted such measures; they have stopped tax increases dead in their tracks. As one Arizona taxpayer advocate of the supermajority requirement recently told me, "Now the legislature doesn't even bother to propose new taxes."

Congress passed the part of the "Contract with America" that promised new rules requiring a 60 percent vote to raise income taxes. That was a good start. But now that hurdle should be made to apply to all revenue-raising bills.

3.) National Referendum on All Tax Increases

Another populist budget reform that is sweeping the states is the requirement that any tax increase be ratified by a popular vote of the people in the next election. That gives the taxpayers veto power over the state legislature's efforts to raise taxes. Congress, too, should be forced to take its case to the people when it wants to take more dollars out of our paychecks. It is a virtual certainty that George Bush and Bill Clinton's wildly unpopular record tax increases would have been blocked if such a rule had been in effect.

Minority Leader Dick Gephardt deserves hearty congratulations for suggesting this reform as part of his 10 percent tax plan. Perhaps a bipartisan consensus could emerge on the issue.

4.) Dynamic Scoring of Tax Law Changes

The 1986 capital gains tax rate increase has raised roughly $100 billion less revenue than the Joint Tax Committee estimated when the law was passed. Capital gains realizations are less than half the level expected, as shown in Figure 2. Why such gigantic forecasting errors? Congress still uses static analysis to score tax rate changes--that is, it assumes little change in behavior in response to tax changes and thus almost no overall economic impact of new tax laws. The assumptions have been shown time and again to be wrong. We know the procedures are wrong, but we still use them.

The capital gains tax cut promised in the "Contract with America" will almost certainly raise revenues for the government--and it might raise substantial new revenues. The rich will actually pay more taxes with the rate cut. But the Joint Tax Committee refuses to score those dynamic effects. Scholars at the Cato Institute have long endorsed a zero capital gains tax. But the static revenue estimators say that will reduce revenues by $150 billion over five years. Dynamic estimates indicate that a zero capital gains tax would so energize our economy that total tax revenues might actually increase. But as long as we are slaves to static scoring, pro-growth tax initiatives will be torpedoed by faulty computer models.

Dynamic scoring will yield more accurate tax revenue estimates and thus encourage better policy.

5.) An End to Baseline Budgeting

A 4.5 percent increase in spending on the School Lunch Program is a budget increase, not a budget "cut." Baseline budgeting is a fraud. Lee Iacocca once stated that if business used baseline budgeting the way Congress does, "they'd throw us in jail."

It's time to end the false and misleading advertising in the budget. Congress should be required to use this year's actual spending total as the baseline for the next year's budget. If Congress spends more next year than it did in the current year, it is increasing the budget; if it spends less, it is cutting it.

6.) A Statute of Limitation on All Spending Programs

It has been said that the closest thing to immortality on this earth is a government program. Congress doesn't know how to end programs--even years and years after their missions have been accomplished. A five-year sunset provision should apply to every spending program in the budget--both entitlements and discretionary programs. That would require the true "reinvention" of programs by forcing the reexamination of every program, including entitlements, every five years.

7.) Debt Buy-Down Provision

This is Rep. Bob Walker's idea that would allow taxpayers to dedicate up to 10 percent of their income tax payments to retirement of the national debt. Politicians earmark spending all the time. Taxpayers should have the same right.

Rules Matter

Those budget process reforms are vitally important to the balanced-budget exercise because the rules of the game matter. The rules dictate outcomes. For more than 20 years, forces that favor spending have consistently prevailed over forces that favor fiscal restraint. That pro-spending bias in Washington threatens to cripple our nation's economic future.

Let me conclude by retelling a story about the late great Washington Redskins football coach George Allen. Allen lived by the motto "the future is now." He traded all the Redskins draft picks for over-the-hill veterans. He spent millions of dollars of owner Jack Kent Cooke's money to purchase expensive free agents. After several years of that, Cooke finally fired Allen. When asked why, Cooke responded, "When George Allen came to Washington I gave him an unlimited budget. But George managed to exceed it." That's the way taxpayers now feel about our politicians in Washington.

This article originally appeared in the July/August 1996 edition of Cato Policy Report.
5543  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: November 09, 2011, 12:03:27 PM
Ending the EPA doesn't seem politically feasible, won't play well beyond the base.  Redefining its scope is long overdue.  We have pollution control agencies in 50 states.  The focus of the Feds, like interstate commerce, should be limited to just those areas and issues between states where emissions in one is contaminating another and the two are unable to work it out between themselves. 

One good point of Newt's attack is that Bush was afraid to fire obvious hack-zealots for fear of making himself look political.  Newt is addressing it head-on. 
5544  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Newt Gingrich on: November 09, 2011, 11:55:12 AM
Two more positive pieces with references to the 3rd that Crafty just posted.  All three make the case he can win by discussing his strengths and mostly skipping over weaknesses.

Steven Hayward regarding the Newt interview Crafty posted: "...Newt at his best, reminding us that then he is on his game there is no one better.  (Hayward is author of two volume series 'Age of Reagan'.)  He likes very much Newt admitting the mistake of sitting on the park bench with Pelosi (“That was the dumbest single thing I’ve done. . . simply inexplicable), but still... what was that?!  I know what it was, Republicans were going to sit down with Democrats in government and figure out how America can learn to produce less and consume less, and they did!

Posted on November 9, 2011 by Steven Hayward in GOP Presidential Race 2012
The Case for Newt

I’ve been meaning for a while now to circle around to Newt Gingrich’s quiet rise from the ranks of the also-also-rans of this campaign.  I’ve been pretty hard on Newt here on Power Line over the last few months, most notably back in May after he got tangled in labeling Paul Ryan’s fiscal design “social engineering from the right.”

I noted here last month that with each debate “Newt Gingrich’s ‘it’s-so-crazy-it-just-might-work’ strategy for this race is looking a little less crazy,” but the right analogy might be that Newt’s tortoise and hare strategy is paying off.  We know Newt didn’t run in 2008 partly because he thought it would be difficult to compete with Romney’s ability to self-fund a campaign if need be, though Newt might also have perceived, as Nixon did about GOP prospects for 1964, that 2012 would be a more favorable year for both him and the GOP.  The same problem—Romney’s money advantage—is here this year, too, so Newt’s live-off-the-land strategy was a long shot, requiring one thing that Newt has often struggled with: discipline and focus.  Newt has always had the worst case of political Attention-Deficit-Hyperactivity-Disorder since the beginning of clinical politics.

But lately Newt seems to have hit his stride.  Did you happen to catch him on the “Center Seat” segment of Fox News’s “Special Report” last night?  It was Newt at his best, and reminding us that then he is on his game there is no one better.  Maybe the best part was when Steve Hayes played the infamous TV ad Newt cut with Nancy Pelosi three years ago about the “climate crisis” (about the 6:50 mark of the video).  Newt didn’t finesse it: he straight out said, “That was the dumbest single thing I’ve done. . . simply inexplicable. . . it was just dumb.”  Not often a politician admits a mistake that straightforwardly.  And then he went on to give a concise account of the issue of climate and energy that tracks pretty closely with what I said on this site way back in the spring after Romney botched the issue.

So enter as witnesses Byron York in the Washington Examiner a couple days ago[I will post below], and this morning Dorothy Rabinowitz in the Wall Street Journal (“Why Gingrich Could Win”), making the case for Newt even more strongly:

    Whoever his competitors are in Iowa and beyond, Mr. Gingrich faces a hard fight for the nomination. His greatest asset lies in his capacity to speak to Americans as he has done, with such potency, during the Republican debates. No candidate in the field comes close to his talent for connection. There’s no underestimating the importance of such a power in the presidential election ahead, or any other one.

    His rise in the polls suggests that more and more Republicans are absorbing that fact, along with the possibility that Mr. Gingrich’s qualifications all ’round could well make him the most formidable contender for the contest with Barack Obama.

So as Cain fades from the scene (I like Cain, but I’m sorry, he’s not ready for prime time presidential politics) and Perry continues to perform erratically, there’s a decent chance Newt will emerge as the not-Romney candidate.  And then there will be a test to see whether the GOP “establishment,” such as it is, can put Romney over the top, and whether the Tea Party and other conservative grass roots Republicans will put aside their well-founded suspicions of Newt.

But beyond handicapping the primary campaign dynamics, Newt is doing something interesting and maybe profound: he is trying to run for president according to an older model that stresses substance over sound bytes and gimmicky, targeted campaign strategy.  (Hence the emphasis on Lincoln-Douglas style debates that de-emphasize the place of the media questioners, among other things.)  It is a bid to see whether presidential politics can still be conducted along the line of the old republic that would be more familiar to the Founders, to the style of public argument more akin to what Hamilton had in mind in talking about “refining and enlarging the public view” through “reflection and choice” in Federalist #1.

Footnote: Keep in mind one other thing from one of my previous comments here on Newt:

    Whenever I think he is off his rocker, I remind myself that Newt was practically alone in thinking, from the first moment he arrived in Congress in 1979, that Republicans could take a majority in the House if it was sufficiently aggressive. Even as late as the eve of the 1994 election the conventional wisdom among political scientists and most journalists was that Democrats had a permanent majority in the House that the GOP could never break.

Gingrich's wonkish, unconventional campaign
byByron York Chief Political Correspondent

DES MOINES - Last Friday, at precisely the moment Herman Cain was basking in applause at a conservative activists' gathering in Washington, Newt Gingrich was in a small conference room at the Marriott Hotel here, discussing cognitive illness with three brain scientists.

"What I am trying to do is initiate the idea that solving health problems is the best way to reduce costs," Gingrich begins. Look at polio, he says. What if it had not been cured? What if one took the high cost of treating polio in 1950 and simply projected it through 2011? The numbers would be enormous. Without even considering the human benefits, curing polio was far, far cheaper than treating it over decades.

Now Gingrich wants to approach Alzheimer's and other brain disorders the same way. "The scale of brain-related problems is so large and so unreported," he tells the scientists, "that if you think of the supercommittee right now, for example -- they're trying to find $1.5 trillion [in savings] over ten years -- the projection the Alzheimer's Foundation gave me was that Alzheimer's alone could cost $20 trillion in public and private funds between now and 2050." Spending billions on curing Alzheimer's -- sums Congress would never approve in today's political atmosphere -- could save astonishing amounts of money in the long run.

It's the kind of wide-ranging and wonkish discussion Gingrich is known for. Indeed, the former Speaker, whose mother spent the last years of her life in a long-term care facility, has devoted a lot of time over the years working on Alzheimer's issues. But now he is in the middle of a presidential campaign. He's in Iowa, with 60 days to go before the caucuses that could decide his future. He is hours away from a crucial speech to the Iowa Republican Party's annual Reagan dinner. And he is spending nearly two hours of his day, behind closed doors, with three doctors, a couple of aides, and one reporter, talking about brain research. The topic of the approaching caucuses does not come up.

Gingrich often says he is running an unconventional campaign. Republicans here in Iowa would probably agree, since they don't see him all that much at traditional stump events. But most have no idea just how unconventional the Gingrich campaign really is.

On this day, Gingrich's plan is to integrate his longtime interest in health issues, and in particular brain research, into his appeal to voters. In an interview after the session, Gingrich says he wants to reach "everybody who's worried about Alzheimer's -- and over 55 years of age, it is a more common fear than cancer." Here in Iowa, the organization Iowa Against Alzheimer's estimates there are 69,000 people over the age of 65 with the disease. Take their spouses and children and relatives and friends, and add other people so far unaffected by the disease but worried about it -- take all of them, and you've got a very large group. They vote, and Gingrich wants to reach them.

Gingrich has test-run the idea in a few recent public forums here and in other early-voting states. "In South Carolina, a Tea Party leader walked up and said, 'My dad died three years ago with Alzheimer's, and I understand exactly what you are trying to accomplish,'" Gingrich says. "People can have a checklist in their head that says on these things, Newt Gingrich understands my world and is trying to make it better." Gingrich plans to work the message into his speeches and discussions with voters more often as voting approaches.

Whatever Gingrich is doing these days, it's working. Thanks in part to impressive performances in several GOP debates, he is moving up in the polls, both nationally and in key early states. He's raising money again after a meltdown -- a massive staff defection and damaging stories about big-spending habits at Tiffany -- that nearly killed his campaign a few months ago. And voters appear to appreciate his sticking with it. In discussions across Iowa in the last week, it is striking how many voters volunteer Gingrich's name as someone they're finding more and more appealing. If either of the current frontrunners, Herman Cain or Mitt Romney, were to falter, Gingrich is in a position to benefit greatly.

And he's doing it his own way. What other candidate would take a large part of a critical day to talk science when the campaign trail beckons, with local officials to meet and hands to shake? "We'll see if it works," Gingrich says with a laugh. "It's a great experiment."

Byron York, The Examiner's chief political correspondent
5545  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness, Daley downgraded on: November 09, 2011, 01:17:33 AM
Staff changes show direction.  Chief of Staff Bill Daley was the bipartisan big tent attempt. That is done.  Daley was a Fannie Mae Director for years, also JP Morgan - a Wall Street Bank.  Now the administration is anti-Wall Street, pro-Occupy Wall Street.  Daley downgraded, no longer in charge of day to day affairs.  In other words - out of that job.

Meanwhile Giuliani says OWS will be Obama's ending.
5546  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: November 09, 2011, 12:30:02 AM
Let's see if I have this right. Cain Accuser no. 4 is not convincing, has already accused and sued everyone, accusers 1, 2 and 3 are anonymous and not coming forward.  The opportunistic liberal attorneys brought forward accuser no. 4, who is a registered Republican and nothing is even alleged to have happened on 5 who never got the message or attended the imagined romantic dinner.  That figures. Friend of Anonymous 1 corroborates something contemporaneous was said, would come forward but stays anonymous to protect the anonymity of Anonymous Accuser 1.  Is that about it?  The Caper about the Copper Clappers with Jack Webb and Johnny Carson is easier than this one:
Newt has one remaining episode to explain and then he is good to go.  When did he start seeing Callista (1993?) and when did he quit starting every sentence with Marianne and I? (1999)   The overlap was roughly during the time of the contract with America, the takeover of Congress, the government shutdown and the Clinton impeachment until Newt gave up his Speakership and resigned from his seat in Congress.  Newt converted Catholic, but maybe should have gone with the Mormon defense.
5547  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cognitive dissonance of the left: Obama’s Flunking Economy: The Real Cause on: November 08, 2011, 12:28:18 PM
Long story at the link.  Short answers from the left: the stimulus was too small - and Bernancke was too cautious.

In my attempt to add balance to economic coverage on the forum, I try to link some deep thoughts from the left.  This is the young superstar left blogger/columnist for the Washington Post reviewing and critiquing the Ron Suskind Book on Obama and Wall Street, offering both his own views and those of the author.  It makes no sense to me, but have a try at it if you want:  Excerpts:

Suskind’s story goes something like this: in 2008, Obama was presented with an economic crisis of astonishing severity and complexity. In the beginning, he showed himself to be unexpectedly prepared to deal with it, both intellectually and temperamentally. His self-assurance and personal magnetism attracted a variety of impressive and able advisers, including former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, billionaire investor Warren Buffett, UBS America chief Robert Wolf, former Labor Secretary Robert Reich, and former SEC Chairman William Donaldson.

But as “the severity of the crisis bore down on him,” Obama found himself leaning toward a different sort of adviser—safer, more predictable. He wanted people who knew Washington, and knew how to get things done. The “bold visions of the campaign season had meanwhile resolved into the serious, often risk-averse business of actually governing,” writes Suskind. “In the midst of a battering economic storm, it no longer seemed like the right time to be making waves.”

And no single adviser better encapsulates Suskind’s criticisms, and the contradictions in his argument, than Larry Summers. Even more than Geithner, Summers is the villain of the book. Suskind describes him as “brilliant at cultivating the sense of control, even as events spun far beyond what could be managed with any certainty.” He calls that talent “an illusionist’s trick calling for a certain true genius.”

It’s that trick that gives the book its title. Merriam-Webster defines a “confidence man” as “a swindler who exploits the confidence of his victim.” Suskind’s definition is more subtle. “Confidence is the public face of competence,” Suskind writes. “Separating the two—gaining the trust without earning it—is the age-old work of confidence men.” To Suskind, Summers was the ultimate confidence man, and Obama the ultimate mark. Summers offered what Obama wanted—certainty—and Obama was just terrified enough to take it. But the certainties Summers offered were not, in Suskind’s view, the certainties the moment required.
The great counterfactual of Suskind’s book is “What if Obama had chosen a different team of advisers?” But by the end of his book, the counterfactual was coming true. Emanuel was out. Summers, too. Romer had left, and so had Orszag. Even David Axelrod, Obama’s longtime political adviser, was decamping back to Chicago. Only Geithner remains.
“Everyone shut the fuck up,” Suskind quotes the profane chief of staff [Rahm] as saying. “Let me be clear—taking down the banking system in a program that could cost $700 billion is a fantasy. With all the money that already went to TARP, no one is getting that kind of money through Congress.”

The same goes for stimulus. When Obama angrily dismisses Romer’s umpteenth argument for more stimulus, it’s not because he disagrees. It’s because he can’t get it passed. “Enough!” Suskind quotes him as shouting. “I said it before, I’ll say it again. It’s not going to happen. We can’t go back to Congress again. We just can’t!”

The truth of the matter is this: every member of the White House’s economic and political team was closer to every other member than any of them were to the swing votes in the Senate. Tim Geithner and Christina Romer have their differences, but they’re mostly talking the same language. Put them in a room with Senators Ben Nelson, Scott Brown, and Susan Collins—all of whom would have rejected a strong new stimulus—and they may as well be Martians.
The reality is more troubling. The initial stimulus was too small, but there’s no plausible case that Congress would have been willing to make it much bigger just because the Obama administration had a theory that the financial crisis would lead to a worse recession than most forecasters expected. The trouble was that attacking a financial crisis with a too-small stimulus was a bit like attacking pneumonia with too-few antibiotics: you feel better for awhile, and then it comes back. And this time, it’s harder to kill.
the greatest confidence man of the last few years, at least going by Suskind’s definition, was not Larry Summers or Timothy Geithner, but Barack Obama. Being a confidence man is almost in the job description of the insurgent presidential candidate. Having not been president before, you must, by definition, ask the American people for a trust you have not earned.

And Obama was better at this than most. He gave America hope. He made America believe he could deliver change. And, by the standards of Washington, he has probably done more than anyone could rightly have expected. Stimulus, health care reform, the end of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, the payroll tax cut, new tobacco regulation—this is much more than your average first-term president achieves. But by the standards of the speeches and spirit that animated Obama’s campaign, he has not done nearly enough.
5548  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government programs & regulations, spending, deficit, and budget process on: November 08, 2011, 12:07:37 PM
"That's because you evil capitalists don't pay enough taxes to provide a driver for this hard working civil servant. Shame!"

All I ask in my equal protection zealotry is that if one American gets a free new Audi from the taxpayer to drive drunk backwards, then we all get one.  That is a bad joke here because the public cost of light rail was higher than the cost to lease each car-less rider a new Lexus.
5549  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Pathological Science: The 48 states are cooling on: November 08, 2011, 11:58:04 AM
GM: "China is not going to cut it's "greenhouse gas emissions"."

But if they do, they first have spent decades maximizing those levels in order to to set the benchmark plenty high.  I think they might be burning all that coal just for the CO2 to make their crops grow faster.  

Short term cooling on a small slice of the earth means nothing of course except to show us what we don't know: that warming is not everywhere, it is not continuous, it is not accelerating, and we don't know if it will continue.

NCDC data shows that the contiguous USA has not warmed in the past decade, summers are cooler, winters are getting colder
5550  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Glibness re Netanyahu: I have to deal with him every day! on: November 08, 2011, 11:41:58 AM,7340,L-4145266,00.html

According to a Monday report in the French website “Arret sur Images,” after facing reporters for a G20 press conference on Thursday, the two presidents retired to a private room, to further discuss the matters of the day.

The conversation apparently began with President Obama criticizing Sarkozy for not having warned him that France would be voting in favor of the Palestinian membership bid in UNESCO despite Washington’s strong objection to the move.

The conversation then drifted to Netanyahu, at which time Sarkozy declared: “I cannot stand him. He is a liar.” According to the report, Obama replied: “You’re fed up with him, but I have to deal with him every day!”

FYI to the C in C: The microphones are NEVER off.
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