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5501  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Energy Politics & Science on: March 02, 2009, 08:07:25 PM
It crosses my mind as I fill up at 1.80 per gallon that no one (not just here) points out the role that unaffordable energy played in collapsing the global economy.  I remember that gas used to be the example of inelastic demand.  As a country, we refused to drill, build or refine more product, but as consumers, our usage is a little bit inelastic in the short run and within certain ranges.  For example, when gas went from 50 cents to 60 cents or from 1.19 to 1.29 per gallon, people still lived the same distance from work, from church, from Grandma's house, from the store etc. so we bought the same amount of gas.  When we replaced our vehicle we still needed the same number of seats and hauled the same cargo. 

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

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

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

Instead of addressing the energy shortage, the far-left machine is hellbent on crippling supplies for the future.  Somewhere in that debacle is an opportunity for an out of power party to gain traction and bring forward a positive agenda.
5502  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Environmental issues - Human caused warming .00003 degrees C per decade? on: March 02, 2009, 04:22:22 PM
Guinness,  Thanks for your attention to this topic. 

"Natural causes of "greenhouse gas" emissions dwarf manmade, but that often escapes the notice of the environmental apocalypse mongers."

Toward the end of page one of this thread (Feb. 07) I posted some crude math that I entitled 'global warming math', (no replies).  The alarmists it seems will always tell us that man's role in warming is large, significant, even fatal, but they never tell us just how much, so I did my own math.  I'm interested in your view and others.  How much warming was caused my man?
" I give it my first shot. I recognize that all components of my math are inexact (wrong) and controversial, but they are based on the best estimates I have found, and I already disclosed my bias above.  Please re-do the math with the data you trust better and post your answer to the question - at what rate is mankind warming the planet?

Estimate of total warming over the last 50 years:  0.5 degrees Celsius  (Doesn't count recent cooling back to starting point)

Proportion of atmosphere CO2 attributable to humans:  3% (0.03)

Proportion of greenhouse effect attributable to CO2: less than 2% (0.02)

Negative feedback factor estimate: 50% (0.5)

Conversion factor of 50 year warming to per decade warming: 1/5 (0.2)

Total warming attributable to humans: 0.5 x 0.03 x 0.02 x 0.5 x 0.2 =0.00003 degrees C per decade.

This is not in contradiction to the wording of scientists that it is very likely, with 90% certainty, that human activity is contributing to global warming."

The reason I'm not alarmed is not just because the number is infinitessimally small, but also because the system has automatic corrective forces and because I believe the period of time that man will depend heavily on fossil fuels is a blip in time in terms of the history and life of the planet.  I expect we burn gasoline for maybe 50-70 more years maximum out of more than 4.5 billion years.

5503  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Way Forward for Reps/Conservatives/the American Creed on: March 02, 2009, 12:34:11 PM
Interesting piece on Newt.  Of course the person who can electrify the room at CPAC is not likely same one who can connect with the other demographics that need to stop seeing a massive government in control of everything as the American dream.  Far more urgent than the Presidential election of 2012 is the congressional election cycle of 2010.  For certain, the Republicans / conservatives need to nationalize these contests the way Newt did in 1994.  Even then, very few Democratic Senate seats are vulnerable (maybe Harry Reid in Nevada?) while several Republican ones are.

5504  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tax Policy, Fair Tax on: March 02, 2009, 12:01:33 PM
Freki, I very much like the way you are thinking in terms of simplifying and changing the current system and abolishing the IRS, but I oppose this proposal.  I wrote an opinion in 2007 explaining why I think it is unworkable.  I will summarize here, this time with fair tax in the title so it can be found again. I look forward to your comments and others.  I think it is extremely important that like-minded people debate the policies now and get on the same page before the next election cycle or face yet another trouncing.

My top ten reasons that the 'FairTax' is a non-starter.  IMHO you can stop reading after the first sentence of point 1) below which constitutes a total and complete show-stopper.

1) Changing over to the 'FairTax' requires the repeal of the 16th amendment. You will not see 2/3rds of Nancy Pelosi's House, 2/3rds of Harry Reid's Senate and 3/4ths of the legislatures, including states like Senator Amy Klobuchar's Minnesota and Senator Hillary clinton's New York, voting to 'permanently' cancel the authority of the federal government to tax income at all while their careers are fully focused on "raising taxes on the wealthiest among us" to pay for health care and more government of all kinds.

2)  A 23% "inclusive" tax is a 30% sales tax.  When you buy a $1 item you pay $1.30.  The inclusive version is fine for comparing with income tax rates but this is a sales tax and you add 30% (best case) to the price.

3) Unless you live in South Dakota or another location without a state income tax you will still need to file a complete income tax return including all of the schedules with the government every year.  (Who really thinks the states will soon quit taxing income.)

4) Somewhere approaching 40% of the economy are the government purchases.  You can make them FairTax-exempt and then adjust the 30% tax WAY upward for the rest of us.  If we make them not-exempt, then adjust our public spending 'needs' up by 30% to cover the tax.

5)  The so-called "prebates" that remove the harshness of sales tax regressivity also remove the simplicity which was the primary strength, purpose and justification for the 'Fair Tax'.

6)  New items are taxed and used items are not taxed again because they already were, yet 'used' homes will be taxed!  Again, there goes the simplicity and the lobbying as it means the rules are negotiable.

7)  Fairness? For whom? Those who worked hard, paid taxes and saved for the future and now want to enjoy it will be openly double taxed.  So much for fairness.  Again, if we adjust for fairness, out goes the simplicity.

8.) What kind of real and restructuring tax reform is revenue neutral?  Those who want reform generally want lower tax burdens.  Those who preach the populist 'tax the rich' message of today oppose efforts to lower or remove the burdensome taxes on production.

9)  The false promise (IMO) of ending taxation on income has split and damaged the already feeble movement to truly reform our massive, incomprehensible tax system.  Case in point, look at the GOP contest in Iowa (2008) that will spread from there.  The already thin minority of Iowans who are inclined to be a) caucus-goers, b) fiscal conservatives and c) have a tax reform orientation are now split candidates with income tax reform proposals and one who just recently co-opted the 'FairTax ' banner.  IMO that means certain defeat for the larger cause of simplifying and lessening the burden.

10)  I take issue with the nomenclatures and slogans of "FairTax"  and "revenue neutral".  They remind me of telling us that taxes are mere "contributions".  Changing to consumption-based taxation is not fairer, it is just different.  It is not revenue-neutral to the individual taxpayers.  It would shift burdens around and half the people would certainly cry out 'unfair!'.

Bonus, 11)  A national 30% sales tax would compete and worden the state and local sales taxes that are as high as 7% and higher.  States and localities would then shift taxation heavier toward the income side, potentially removing most or all gains after adding an enormous new layer of taxation.  Imagine your local public schools looking at all that new revenue potential.  Nothing in the federal constitution or future amendments removes the ability of the state, county, local, school, or waste, stadium or transit commissions to go after any revenues that the feds leave on the table.

5505  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: February 27, 2009, 01:43:10 PM
[the Obama plan] "will no doubt result in less benefits, more costs to patients, and much more controlled care."

Costs paid directly by the consumer and prices yielded directly to the producer comprise the mechanism that allocates resources the most efficiently.  But the more crucial the market, the more we try to use inferior mechanisms to allocate the resources.  In the 1990's the WSJ published an unbelievably complicated flow diagram of how healthcare decisions would be made, almost cartoon-like, taken from the literal text of the Hillary-care proposal.  Congressional staffers and mid-level bureaucrats will be making very important decisions for people they never met.
Scott G wrote this week:  "we could probably solve 80-90% of the healthcare problem by simply changing the tax code so that anyone, not just employers, could deduct the cost of healthcare insurance. This would reintroduce basic market dynamics to the healthcare market, and that is the only thing that can make healthcare cost-effective and widely available."
5506  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: February 27, 2009, 01:07:35 PM
"Why are they blasting Hillary? The anger should be directed at the source - BO."  - More convenient and less controversial to attack HRC.  They want to influence the Pres. not damage or destroy him, or even being seen undermining him.

"Jews and Blacks are not as aligned..."  - It's a strange coalition that makes up the Democrat power base.  Blacks and Jews are aligned by a common political enemy - Republicans.  Far left extremists are the most anti-Israel of any voters in the country, yet share a party with most Jewish voters.  Non-Jewish far-righters are the strongest defenders of Israel in this country, for not for religious reasons.  Meanwhile Blacks love school vouchers and school choice, directly at odds with another huge money and power base of the party - the education unions.  But no matter how much they all hate or disagree with each other, they will not jump parties. 

Correct me if I'm wrong, but liberal American Jews would rather stand quiet while Israel is destroyed before they would ever support a moose hunting, peace through strength, conservative for Commander in Chief, just as Catholics pull the lever for for abortionist supporting candidates at the same rate as the rest of the country because of other liberal priorities. 
5507  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Europe - Davis Cup without Spectators on: February 24, 2009, 02:45:06 PM
I had the opportunity to see a Davis Cup semifinal years ago featuring USA v. Sweden in Minneapolis.  There were no riots in the streets or car burnings.  This story in Malmo is amazing, they are host to Israel v. Sweden and the show just won't go on.  I would be very interested in hearing from people who have witnessed the unrest in places like France and Sweden.
 Anyone for tennis in Malmo?
February 24, 2009

The AP reports that spectators will be barred from the Sweden-Israel Davis Cup match next month in Malmo. There appears to be a vague concern about controlling Swedish youth in Malmo:

    The Davis Cup matches between Sweden and Israel will be played without spectators in Malmo next month. Attempts to move the venue to Stockholm fell through.

    Officials have cited security concerns for the World Group series, which will be played March 6-8. Several anti-Israeli demonstrations have been planned in Malmo.

    Stockholm had offered to host the matches, saying it was better prepared to guarantee security arrangements. But that possibility ended when Stockholm officials said they couldn't get organized in time for Sunday's arrival of the Israeli team.

What's the problem in Malmo? Interested readers are left to fill in the blanks for themselves.   
5508  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics, re Ron Paul opposition to Federal Reserve on: February 24, 2009, 09:54:03 AM
I don't like to see misguided policies confused with criminality.  Of course there should be oversight and any criminals jailed but I disagree with the idea that we would be better off if the politicians had even more direct control over the supply of money.  I also think it is unrealistic to think that printed dollars will ever again have a direct redemption in gold.  Most money and transaction value never sees a printed dollar.

The Fed is about as private as the Supreme Court.  The President appoints the Directors, the senate confirms, and the profits all revert to the U.S.Treasury. 
5509  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: February 24, 2009, 09:27:25 AM
"I disagree with "stimulus" in general." - Crafty

This wisdom from Scott G's site sums up the rationale opposing govt stimulus superbly:

“The usual effect of attempts of government to encourage consumption, is merely to prevent savings; that is, to promote unproductive consumption at the expense of reproductive, and to diminish the national wealth by the very means which were intended to increase it.” - J.S. Mill

"Want to turn things around in a flash?  Abolish the capital gains tax" - CD

Yes, but zero chance with the social justice crowd in power. But we should stop taxing the inflation component of the gains and, at the minimum, lock in current rates for today's investors to rely on.  Even then you can't undo the panic that was caused by the transfer of power starting in Nov 2006 that promised to punish investors who don't rush to dispose of their assets.

"Put the auto companies through Chapter 7... Let bankrupt banks go bankrupt."

I would add, let foreclosed homes be foreclosed.  How can resources flow to their most valuable and productive use when we constantly put up roadblocks to block the flow.

"Cut the corporate tax rate down to the level of other major economies (from 34% to low 20s) , or LESS!"

Amazing how the same politicians that are furious about corporations moving operations elsewhere keep coming up with proposals and policies to punish them if they stay here. 
5510  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants - Housing prices on: February 20, 2009, 03:13:58 PM
What is the 'right' price level for housing?

It was propped up artificially by government policies.  The unrealistically high prices were unsustainable and led to the eventual and unavoidable collapse in home prices along with the end of residential construction, the layoffs of the workers, the rise of unemployment, the collapse of the securities markets, the fall of the banks and the economic depression world-wide - to put it lightly.

The Obama-Pelosi response:  We need to artificially re-prop up home prices.

Median price home in America is/was around 200k.  Should it be higher?  Should it be lower?  Which branch and departments of government should set housing price levels?  Maybe we could call Nixon's Price-Wage board back in...

Speaking of generational theft, who does this help?  I own homes but it doesn't help me either way.  My primary residence isn't for sale, so the eight-fold increase I've earned on paper just leads to eight-plus-fold increases in property taxes.  My rental properties can't be cashed out because of impending capital gains increases at the federal level and confiscatory taxes on the inflationary gains at the state level as well.  I can't even move out of state to avoid capturing that income in this state.

Do artificially high home prices help the young people who hope to branch off on their own and buy and live in at least as nice a place as they grew up in?  - NO!

Sorry I'm having so much trouble adapting to our new fascist-socialist system and they haven't even finished working on healthcare.  Soon you will have your heart stints specified by the people who picked our bridge gusset plates.  Good luck.
5511  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Way Forward for Reps/Conservatives on: February 19, 2009, 09:40:34 AM
CCP,  Thanks as always for the thoughtful reply.  I appreciate Colin Powell for all the things he did for this country - past tense.  For my money, he is worthless now to the party.  'We' nominated the least conservative, most centrist candidate for the purposes of winning in a Republican-unfriendly environment - and he ran against the Senate's most liberal and least experienced member.  Gen. Powell couldn't contain himself with the excitement of voting for a half-black man and the media attention of finally distancing himself with the administration he once served proudly.

For sake of argument, let's just stipulate that Rush is another negative that R's have to deal with while 'reaching out' to minorities, young people or other potential new supporters.

Obama gave away to me in his pork, massive government-enlargement bill signing ceremony the key to the message for Republicans moving forward:

"We have begun the essential work of keeping the American dream alive in our time."

The party and the candidate of the opposition better learn to articulate a different view of the American dream.  $5 billion to ACORN, picking and choosing which homeowners to help, federal takeovers of banking, housing, healthcare, transportation, education... Is socialism unevenly applied by lobyists and staffers who write bills that representatives can't read the American dream.  I thought that term was coined to describe something like the viewpoints you read here: rugged individualism, self-discipline, work hard, retain a right to self-defense, look back regularly at statements about individual liberties in the actual words of the founding fathers, the right to personal freedoms and self-determination and maybe even the right to choose which charities you support with your excess income instead of having it rammed down your throat by Washington.

We need someone to paint that picture.  Reagan was 1980s and our next leader runs in 2012 so he is no longer relevant, and we can pick at his errors or inconsistencies, but what he did overall was project the bigger picture of the American dream for all, over the hodgepiodge of federal programs for the unlucky who qualify.
5512  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: February 17, 2009, 03:17:14 PM
Just pointing out the most obvious in media bias and failings,  I was struck during the 'stimulus' press conference last week by the fact that no one asked the President where the money was coming from.  McCain has called it generational theft.  If this were a business proposal from a company president, the board of directors' first question would be where is the money going to come from.  Same if it was a proposal for a case study project at any reputable school of government.  The professor's first question would be, where is the money you propose to spend going to come from?  But no curiosity whatsoever from the White House puppet press corps.  That is the sad state of the fourth estate.

Any chance that wouldn't be Helen Thomas' first question if this were 'W' or even McCain?
5513  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Way Forward for Reps/Conservatives on: February 17, 2009, 03:01:45 PM
"Colin Powell is right.  If we don't change our message we are destined to continue losing market share."

    - I am curious what you think would be a good summary of Colin Powell's positions on the issues of the day.  I don't know what they are and I don't think Republicans will ever win by running with Clinton or Obama style ambiguity.  I also think he can get away with flip-flopping (supporting Bush, then supporting Obama) only because he is a war hero and a NON-candidate.

"Limbaugh IS wrong." 

   - Wrong on style to run for office, but like Colin Powell, Rush will not be the candidate.  He is intentionally too rough on people who hold different views (as if Obama is tolerant of other views, lol).  So aside from style or temperament, what positions do you think Rush holds on the issues of the day that are too conservative?
5514  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security on: February 13, 2009, 09:39:23 AM
Speaking of agencies not speaking to each other, we have the INS (immigration enforcement) which I think has changed names and changed departments (are they still in business?) and we have the Census Bureau which periodically tracks every little private detail about every living person hidden anywhere in the country, for political purposes.  One reason Judd Gregg stepped down from becoming Commerce Secretary was because the Glibness Group wants control of the Census moved from Commerce to the White House.  The reason the WHite House wants greater control is to make a more aggressive count of the 'new people' in the country.

It ocurrs to me that while we are spending federal dollars and sending federal agents to comb all neighborhoods, finding out every private detail about their life for political purposes... maybe we could also use that opportunity to ask them for documentation for citizen or visitor status.  Just a thought.
5515  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues - Stephanopolous on: February 04, 2009, 10:37:39 PM
My recollection is that he was a young ambitious staff worker working the strategy and rapid response war room with James Carville.  They had to answer a number of things that came up other than policy, "I didn't inhale", Gennifer Flowers, letter to draft board, etc. but they just keep saying Carville's line: "it's the economy, stupid."

Tim Russert worked for Mario Cuomo.  As a reporter and analyst it would be normal that the analysts and anchors stay in touch as best they can with both sides getting the latest word before they go on the air.  But this story says Stephanopolous was too close to one side - a major media outlet perhaps favoring Barack Obama and hope and change over those ugly Republicans.  Please say it isn't so. sad
5516  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Libertarian Issues - THC on: February 04, 2009, 10:26:28 PM
GM is right that it is fat soluble, therefore lingers in your system.  People say it takes 30 days abstention to pass a zero tolerance test, but tests don't have a zero threshold.  The biggest other problem is that there is no portion control or active ingredients strength labeling, like an ibuprofen measuring 200 mg. 

Granted it takes away from the attention span and short term memory.  Let's say usage in moderation takes 10 points off your intelligence during the effects.  That would explain Crafty's friend still able to tackle complex legal issues while a person with 85 cents on the dollar intelligence-wise is lowered to near retarded levels.

I would not accept Crafty's old acquaintance representing me high in front of the Supreme Court, but I have no objection to an average Joe enjoying a few breaths while enjoying a Friday evening sunset on his private deck in the mountains.

Pot harms plenty of people.  In most cases I think they over-use, cause other problems in their life and then eventually quit.  People with mental health issues also tend to self-medicate and cause themselves deeper problems, and alcohol pot are the most accessible crutches.

The pilot who landed the jet in the Hudson could do a normal day's work flying on auto pilot and calling the tower a couple of times with a small residue of THC in his blood.  But his job is not to fly on auto-pilot on a calm, clear day, it is to take charge of the safety of hundreds in every possible unforeseen circumstance.  I want my pilot, my surgeon and my Fannie Mae oversight chairman to be drug-free.
5517  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants on: February 04, 2009, 03:19:11 PM
"The next time posters here get annoyed when I mention the system is rigged in favor of those with money and there does need to be better oversight and a leveler playing field you may want to read this."

 - FWIW, I don't know any conservative who opposes having the federal government govern.  We pay for an SEC, anti-trust enforcement, an FCC, an FTC, an EPA, an ATF, an FBI, an IRS and the worthless agencies that 'watched over' the corrupt, government-sponsored, mortgage giants.  We deserved oversight, bought and paid for.  Instead we passed laws telling them to make MORE bad loans and to package, hide and disguise them. 

90% of the budget is transfer payments.  Opposing some of that does not mean  looking away from anti-competitive or fraudulent practices in the marketplace.

I would add that we lack a watchdog media for oversight in business (Enron? Music Industry?) and to expose failure in government programs.  Why didn't one investigative reporter at any mainstream outlet smell a rat with Madoff or Enron or Freddie Mac and sink their teeth in?  As long as we care more about Michael Phelps than our economic system, I guess we get what we deserve.
5518  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics - Class Warfare Agitators on: February 04, 2009, 12:37:25 AM
Finally getting to the post recently from BBG - Daniel J. Mitchell is spot-on.  He provides the data that demonstrates that the plight of the poor and the plight of the middle class and the plight of the rich are infinitely and irreversibly intertwined.  The mantra that the 'rich are getting richer' is a meaningless, selective judgment.  More accurate would be to notice that 'these are good economic times, all groups are prospering'.

Look at the chart.  Who gets hurt the most when that rich aren't getting richer?  The line consistently shows that the lower incomes earners gets hurt later, deeper and longer during downturns than the higher income earners.  Pro-growth policies help the poor the most, assuming the goal is to avoid being poor!

The criticism was whether the data was up to date.  IT WAS A HALF CENTURY STUDY.  Do we need more recent data for the Law of Gravity?

Meanwhile, the Bloomberg piece twists a good story upside down.  The rich got richer during good economic times.  Really!? Do you know anyone who thought the second million was not easier and faster than their first - especially during good economic times.  Maybe the kids finished college and they had more to invest, maybe they learned something with the earlier business or investment success.  Maybe because of past success they had more to invest. WHY IS IT BAD that they made more money?

And why is it any of our business?  Which article in the constitution says spread the wealth and limit people's upside?Huh?

Specifically, Bloomberg wrote:  "Rich got richer as their tax rates fell in Bush years, data show"

 - That is 100% media spin.  Fact is that the "America got Wealthier Because Punitive Marginal Tax Rates Were Eased - Across the Board!"  It wasn't just the rich that got richer.  Who are they trying to fool?

Next we hear about the richest Americans.  The increased income and increased revenue to the Treasury is a HUGE success story.  The revenues were beating forecasts by more than $100 Billion per year, growing at as much as 15% per year!  How do you spin that into BAD NEWS???

Bloomberg tells you the change in income for "the richest 400", but they don't tell you that the people who make up the richest 400 changes very quickly, as do the magic quintiles.  They hate telling you that it isn't the same people just a few years later.  The new rich make more money, more quickly than in the past because they inventing for, or selling into, a more prosperous world.  Why is that a bad thing?

Capital Gains reductions accounted for most of the economic surge, according to Bloomberg.  No worry:
Candidate Obama promised to restore the punitive rates.
5519  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics - Channel Harding not FDR on: February 03, 2009, 05:55:16 PM
Obama Should Channel Harding, Not FDR
By Matt Kibbe

In the first half of last century two presidents inherited recessionary economies from their predecessors. Both campaigned on smaller government, and both blamed the profligate ways of the previous president for their economic problems. One ended the recession in less than three years; the other lengthened it by seven. One responded with laissez-faire capitalism; the other with unprecedented government expansion. Scholars rank one among the worst presidents ever; the other they rank as one of the best. These two men are Warren Harding and Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Warren Harding was elected president in 1920 at the end of World War I, directly following the popular Woodrow Wilson. Harding inherited an economy transitioning away from wartime production as well as decreasing international demand for many American goods that had driven economic growth during the war. American factories were retooling and soldiers were coming home looking for work. The nation's output, by some measures, fell as much as 24 percent and unemployment more than doubled between 1920 and 1921. Between 1919 and 1921, farm income had dropped by 40 percent. The country was falling deep into recession.

Instead of bailing out failing businesses, expanding government, and redistributing taxpayer money with a "stimulus" plan, Harding responded by cutting spending and removing burdensome regulations and taxes. During his campaign, he argued, "We need vastly more freedom than we do regulation." In stark contrast with the Bush-Obama response of ever-more government spending and debt, Harding had federal spending cut in half between 1920 and 1922 and ultimately ran a surplus.

As a result, the recession that started in 1920 ended before 1923. Lower taxes and reduced regulation helped America's economy quickly adjust after the war as entrepreneurs and capital were freed to create jobs and push the economy to recover. Harding's free market policies lead to the Roaring Twenties, known for technological advances, women's rights, the explosion of the middle class, and some of the most rapid economic growth in American history. Still, he is ranked as one of the worst presidents by many in academia's ivory tower.

Franklin D. Roosevelt became president in 1933, following Herbert Hoover. Hoover raised taxes, increased government spending, regulated industry, and increased tariffs as the country went into recession. Despite this long list of big government, anti-market policies, Hoover is often mistakenly thought of as a laissez-faire capitalist. Government spending skyrocketed during Hoover's term in office from just 11 percent of GDP in 1928 to over 20 percent before he was done. FDR simply followed in Hoover's anti-market pro-spending footsteps and maintained the size of government around 19 percent of GDP until World War II, when it went much higher.

A recent study by UCLA economists Harold L. Cole and Lee E. Ohanian show that FDR lengthened the Great Depression by seven years with his anti-market "stimulus" policies. They write that prior to FDR's interventions, "The economy was poised for a beautiful recovery, but that recovery was stalled by these misguided policies." Somehow, though, FDR is considered one of the best presidents in the history of the country, despite the millions of people out of work and in the breadlines. Hoover is rightfully considered one of the worst, but perhaps FDR should be, too. As Rexford Guy Tugwell, one of Roosevelt's top advisors commented, "We didn't admit it at the time, but practically the whole New Deal was extrapolated from programs that Hoover started."

President Obama has taken office as our country stands at a crossroads where the laws enacted in the next few weeks could lead our country to prosperity or to ruin. Whose steps will he follow? Warren Harding got government out of the way of business in 1920 to unleash the market economy and launch the Roaring Twenties. FDR tripled taxes, regulated business, and massively expanded the role of government in our lives resulting in the longest and deepest recession this country has ever experienced.

President Obama has mentioned his fondness for FDR. Let's hope he soon comes to prefer Harding.
Matt Kibbe is president of the FreedomWorks Foundation.
5520  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: February 03, 2009, 10:29:37 AM
GM: "At least the dems that love to raise and spend taxes are very diligent about paying them, right?"

 - I wonder if anyone other than his opponents has noticed what a pattern of disaster his appointments have been.
5521  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Food Chain and Food Politics on: February 03, 2009, 10:17:49 AM
Rachel,  Thank you for sourcing your view on soil neglect. I will look into it further before commenting other than this, I find it counter-intuitive and it doesn't match my experience that others care more about preserving the quality and value of a resource than the resource owner.
5522  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: February 03, 2009, 10:13:14 AM
With reference to Rachel's bill signing photos, I see your point regarding political skill.  I also see a group of white conservative men more concerned about those most needing our protection than the most powerful liberal women in the country.

Obama's pay equity concern is empirically false.  His campaign payroll had the exact same percentage disparity as the nation.  I prefer if people clean up their own act before mandating 'change' on others.

The fitting crowd to assemble for the partial birth abortion ban photo should have been a visiting classroom of smiling black school children since abortion hits black children at THREE TIMES the rate of white children.  Yet we celebrate this Auschwitz style tradition in the cloak of "Reproductive Rights".
5523  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Bush Presidency on: January 25, 2009, 02:08:56 PM
"unchecked private sector without regulation certainly can't be trusted either...If the SEC simply enforced laws already on the books, if we simply enforced our immigration laws and include those of us who hire them for example, we would not have the mess we are in."

I agree with the second part.  The banking mess in particular was caused by feds not doing their job, or in the case of an activist Fed and a redistributive banking oversight 'industry', being assigned the wrong job. 

I think 'unchecked private sector without regulation' is an unintentional straw man argument.  I don't know anyone who favors free markets and free enterprise but opposes a proper role for government to govern.  I recently elaborated on the success for example of the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service that actually helps the industry it regulates by creating trust in the system.  Certainly the same goes for the regulators that perform safety inspections at nuclear power plants.  Nobody (that I know) wants new drugs without approvals, we just want them faster and better.  YOur examples, SEC and INS are also great examples.  I would add anti-trust regulation that is protective, not political.

As Scott Grannis points out 90% of the budget, over 2 trillion and growing, could best be described as transfer payments, not governing.  Without trying to run every private industry from housing to health to energy to transportation to education, at the FEDERAL level, maybe they could perform their proper roles of governance and protecting the people a little more effectively.
5524  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan - Taliban radio on: January 25, 2009, 01:38:09 PM
"Using a portable radio transmitter, a local Taliban leader, Shah Doran, on most nights outlines newly proscribed “un-Islamic” activities in Swat, like selling DVDs, watching cable television, singing and dancing, criticizing the Taliban, shaving beards and allowing girls to attend school. He also reveals names of people the Taliban have recently killed for violating their decrees — and those they plan to kill."

 - If true, I can't imagine anyone still thinking this movement is less dangerous than Hitler-Nazi-ism was.
5525  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants on: January 25, 2009, 01:07:07 PM
Since weather is now political, I offer my comments on Minnesota winters as a political rant.  Like a hurricane victim in a hurricane zone, I know the reaction is - why do you live there, you fools.  I'll leave the positive aspects of changing seasons to another post with hopefully deeper thoughts.  Before food stamps on a credit card and free health care, we used to say that MN winters keep the riff-raff out.  It's pretty hard to live under a bridge with the weather we've been having.

One of Paul Wellstone's failings was to continue the lobby for 'cold weather assistance' to cold places.  And that was before the global warming scare.  How can we hope to pay less for others, the risks they take and the mistakes they make - to re-build in flood zones, storm zones, wild fire zones etc. - if we keep telling people in Mississippi, Alabama and Arkansas that one of the nation's most prosperous states needs national help with our utility bills...

Last week was cold by our standards.  The week before was below zero from Monday through Friday, and yes, that includes the highs!  Last night I overheard a weather head speaking of a gradual warm up starting with a wake up temp of 9 below tomorrow.  We had a cold December also.  One point is that any Minnesotan who anecdotally says it isn't as cold these days as it used to be is probably wintering in Arizona.

Yesterday (Saturday) at 8am my daughter and I drove across the Twin Cities to her ski race along the Wisconsin border which was again plagued with weather advisories.  As we drove along the cities' southern freeway, both of us suddenly became aware of an amazingly brilliant rainbow we were driving toward.  I took off my sunglasses to see if that was part of the illusion but it was only more beautiful and brilliant without them.  The strangest part was that the sky was 100% blue - no clouds, no rain (hopefully that is obvious) and no snow.  All I can gather was that the moisture content of the air was so cold that it was no longer gaseous but containing microscopic crystals of ice instead, playing reflective games with the flow of sunshine to the earth.  I don't recall that happening so dramatically before.

Twice during the coldest week I lost control of my car momentarily on scraped roads with no recent precipitation of any kind, at 30 mph in a 40 zone  one evening and going 20 mph in a 30 zone the following morning.  Mind you, I am an experienced and expert winter driver, just ask me, lol.  The causes I think were: a) car exhaust contains moisture which instantly freezes to the road at these temps, b) road salt doesn't melt ice below -20 F and sand doesn't stick, and c) letting off the gas  with a front wheel drive car is a form of braking with the front tires, like downshifting.  The only way to re-gain control was to lightly re-touch the accelerator to again pull forward before it went into a spin.  In my case both times I was lucky there was no one in front of me!  I was amazed during the coldest week how many cars I saw off the road that appeared to be 'victims' of one car accidents, also with how many cars looked like they pulled over without a mishap along the sides of the freeways, either spooked by the conditions or maybe with a mechanical problem on cars that looked very new.  Belts, hoses and lubricants don't like the extremes any more than mammals do.

One major school district shut down because their politically correct biodiesel buses had their fuel supplies turn to jello which doesn't flow through the fuel lines and into injectors at these temps.  Live and learn.

On the coldest of all the cold mornings, I went out to start a car.  Like predicting who will win a fight by just looking at them, it is not always obvious which car will start at the coldest temp.  In my case it was a tiny Honda that out matched the stronger minivan and even the car that had been resting in the cold garage.  For the first few miles I noticed a new problem - the turn signals didn't work.  Later they did, so I realized it had something to do with extreme cold on the electrical contacts. Presumably moisture from ambient air was on the contacts, was unmelted by the low amperage attempting to flow across and failing to make a connection.  I wonder if Pelosi and the gang figured that in as they social engineer us our next millivolt powered transportation system with hampster-wheel generators. Can you imagine what size battery a Chevy volt will need to heat the passenger compartment of a comfortable sized car at 30 below zero and defrost the windshield if we remove the gas power from the heat system?

My political point is that will you of all please make sure that politicians from San Francisco or Hawaii or anywhere else do not decide which ride is right for you, for your family, for your climate, for your profession, for your activities, ski races, hockey games, camping trips etc. etc. etc.  There are considerations and decisions that people make in their lives about what is best for them regarding where they live, what they drive and everything else, that are not best handled at your state capital, in Washington DC or at some global conference of corrupt kleptocrats.  Even if you forget some of the reasons why these people don't know what is best for you, please cling to what individual liberties and choices you have left with every vote you make.   - Doug
5526  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: January 25, 2009, 11:48:36 AM
Obama last week: "I won" [we'll do it my way!]   Bush in 2004: "Let me put it to you this way: I earned capital in the campaign, political capital, ... I've earned capital in this election -- and I'm going to spend it ..."
CCP regarding Rush, Hannity, Coulter: "[I am] a moderate Republican...I don't necessarily disagree with their philosophy but more their strategy."  - I agree, and I'm not a moderate Republican.  But these people are not R. strategists.  They are entertainers and pundits.  They are selling viewership and listenership, not hope, change or electoral success.
The argument that the rich keep getting richer I think is moot after this present downturn.  The rich get richer in an up economy because they are invested.  The rich get poorer in a collapse because they are invested.  Look at the famous quote from JFK about rising tides lift all boats.  For the rich it lifts a bigger boat.  We simply don't have a way to lift all but the rich though we keep trying to concoct schemes.
I was moved by a post about 'Soviet Britain' where in some areas the government is 70% of the economy.  The move towards socialism by both parties, but in this case, Obama-Pelosi, is not rhetoric or scaremongering.  It is the elephant in the room.
"...conservative George Will to me look like fools to have met with BO.  He is used them hook line and sinker.  I thought they were smarter than that.  I guess they fall for fanfare and celebritism like most everyone else."   - No, they aren't smarter than that and they aren't smarter than Obama.  And me neither.  My first reaction was that he is reaching out... A day later I think I read it more accurately, that he had a pro-life evangelist at a ceremony, that he broke bread with a few conservatives, etc. These are attempts to inoculate himself against the inevitable repeat of affiliations and liaisons with people like Jememiah Wright, Ahkmad 'dinejad etc.
While I rant about 'His Glibness', I am constantly reminded that Sarah Palin didn't answer a question about what she reads, but Barack Obama to my knowledge has never been asked what book he has EVER read about the free-enterprise system that is not anti-free-enterprise.
5527  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: January 23, 2009, 12:45:11 PM
"coherent strategy in Afg-Pak...fellow armchair generals, what should President Obama, what should America do?"

No small question - you have 32 million people in Afghan and 172 million in Pakistan, the 6th largest country in the world, almost all with nothing going on from a civilized-world point of view.

Afghan:  I favor the Guinness "low intensity conflict", conducted by NATO or whoever defines the allies of the fight, with American special forces overlaying the conflict to take out major security threats.  The circumstances are different from the insurgency of Iraq but many of the lessons learned should apply.  One difference is that I think there is no hurry to succeed or to get out.  Afghan is not a country but a territory waiting for the next bad actors to step in.  Two of the things accomplished upon the original liberation were giving people including women the right to vote and also the right including women to be educated.  Forget 10-20 years, I would say 20-50 years to turn this into something other than a wasteland and breeding ground for drugs or terror.

I don't have an answer for the opium trade.  I don't think legalization is realistic and prosecuting a war on drugs while we partner with the cultivators makes no sense.  Just like the third world of America's inner city streets, drug lording is the easiest and quickest path that they see, but no real wealth is created.

Pakistan:  Looks to me like the cat and mouse game of crossing the border with special ops should continue or else we allow the terror organizations to win.  I was hopeful with reports of raids last Sept. the symbolic prize of OBL's head would be ours.  No such luck.  OBL remains only in occasional media release.  Maybe Obama's people can outsmart him and track him through this channel. More important is to track and destroy all groups as they form and before they act.  I am not optimistic. 

We certainly do not want to be in the business of nation building or trying to govern Pakistan.  That would make Iraq look like schoolyard play.  Maybe Obama's Indonesia is a model for Pakistan.  A little more stable but not much to aspire to.

One reason terror organizations fester and have success recruiting is because nothing else is going on economically.  As one looks at the Pak map with borders to Iran and Aghan, it is hard to imagine economic progress in Pakistan in a global economy that doesn't involve peace, trade and commerce with India.
5528  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Bush Presidency on: January 23, 2009, 11:41:03 AM
I rarely find memoirs from outgoing administrations interesting or helpful, however I have been curious about the thoughts of Condaleeza Rice during the second term especially about the threats we face and what our actions should be. 

The Sec. of State traditionally favors talk while Defense prepares for war.  During the Bush second term, key enemies and rivals were well aware that the US was in no position to start a new war, whether in N.K., Iran or South Ossetia. 

As Iraq winds down or had it wound down earlier I wonder how the availability of American military muscle could have affecting negotiations elsewhere. 

Rice's record at State would have been perfect for an Obama administration (Can we talk?) but I wonder if she would have advocated a more active and physical foreign policy if our hands were not tied. 
5529  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Bush Presidency - A supply-sider rips the Bush record on: January 21, 2009, 10:59:14 AM
I give Bush credit for lowering marginal tax rates and achieving amazing results.  Unfortunately the cuts were temporary and the results were squandered with spending and government expansion that is nearly always permanent.  My biggest complaint was Bush's inability to communicate positions and policies even when he was in the right.

This author/economist is a little harsher on the Bush Presidency "...bringing discredit to economic theories that he sadly never implemented."  He blasts Bush for TARP and he correctly points out what Crafty has stated previously, that government spending is a tax on the economy in itself.  Bush leaned toward free trade but his results were the opposite, new tariffs were imposed while new trade agreements failed. 

Supply Siders Should Eagerly Bid Bush Adieu
By John Tamny

Ever since the rebirth of classical economic theory as "supply-side" economics in the late '70s, the mainstream media have perverted its meaning as having solely to do with lower tax rates leading to higher federal revenues. And while empirical evidence shows the latter to be true, the real meaning of supply-side economics is actually quite expansive.

Measures passed by governments that reduce the barriers to work effort are what constitute true supply-side, or classical economic policy. Simplified, governments in a broad sense can negatively increase the barriers to work in four ways: through more regulation, tariffs on trade, higher penalties (taxes) on work, and currency devaluation. If they do, economic stagnation is frequently the result, while supply-side policies meant to enhance growth once again involve reductions in those wedges placed between work and reward.

And with President George W. Bush set to depart the White House today, it’s perhaps useful to look at his policies through a supply-side prism. Sadly, for a president who ran as an economic conservative, the economic policies forwarded by the Bush administration had very little to do with supply-side economics. Indeed, if his policies are to be viewed objectively, it should be said that adherents of the classical model should be eager to see Bush go.

With regard to regulations, they first and foremost inhibit natural economic activity that might otherwise be different absent rules set by the government. In one sense, Bush didn’t do too badly. When it came to the growth of the federal registry, pages under Bush rose 11 percent versus 21 percent during the presidency of Bill Clinton. On the other hand, the pages in the registry actually declined 12 percent under Ronald Reagan, and as Bush ran as Reagan’s heir, it’s fair to say he failed in this area.

Worse, not all regulations are the same in terms of how they deaden economic spirits. In that sense, Bush failed for eagerly signing Sarbanes-Oxley, a law that was successful only insofar as it expanded the need for legal and accounting services. Far from an economy enhancer, SarBox to a high degree turned otherwise entrepreneurial CEOs into slaves of accountants and lawyers. Failure was criminalized, and as such, the very risks that need to be taken by companies in order to grow were subsumed by draconian new rules that elevated economic facilitators over producers.

The Bush administration also foisted on the economy the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), a program billed as capitalism’s savior. Given the collapsed shares of its alleged beneficiaries, it would be more true to say that government investment is always and everywhere an economic retardant given the basic truth that government money never comes without strings attached. In short, with the government now an owner of our banking system due to irrational fears suggesting the system was on the verge of collapse, our financial system will be weakened for the foreseeable future based on past and future certainty that its investment won’t be passive. In time, TARP will make the Community Reinvestment Act and other unfortunate regulations seem miniscule by comparison.

On the trade front, the departing head of one of Washington’s most prominent think tanks recently said despite Bush's many mistakes, he was strong when it came to free trade. Apparently this person missed the imposition of steel and soft-wood lumber tariffs early in Bush’s tenure, shrimp tariffs later on, and the administration's frequent jawboning of China for its allegedly weak yuan. Some might point to Bush’s aggressive efforts to pass a trade agreement with Columbia, along with positive rhetoric with regard to the latest (and failed) GATT round, but through the imposition of earlier tariffs the U.S. lost a lot of credibility that made future trade agreements less doable.

Perhaps worst of all, Bush caved when GM and Chrysler threatened bankruptcy absent a federal bailout. Suffice it to say, taxpayer subsidization of our ailing carmakers is but a tariff by a different name, and it might foretell a negative response from foreign governments. In the end, tariffs are a tax like any other, and as we work in order to consume freely, tariffs are a tax on work that Bush did too little to reduce.

When GOP partisans draw an economic line in the sand to defend Bush, they usually do so by noting the 2003 reductions in taxes on income and capital gains. There they have a point in that ’03 cuts were a certain positive for reducing the penalties on work and investment success.

But it should also be said that many of those same defenders miss the point. While almost to a man they would decry the explosion in spending under Bush not seen since the days of LBJ, they frequently fail to see the main reason why government spending is such a huge weight on the economy.

Spending is problematic because at its core, it too is taxation. When governments tax or borrow in order to spend, they are by definition reducing the amount of capital available in the private sector. Government spending is a tax, because spending by the government is money taken directly from our wages.

Worse with regard to Bush, his administration foisted no less than two “stimulus” packages on the economy; spending that once again withdrew capital from the private sector. And if that wasn’t bad enough, stimulus can only be an economic retardant for the wealth redistribution that it entails causing its alleged beneficiaries to work even less.

Lastly, when the government is not taxing or spending, it can tax us another way, and that is with inflation. Regardless of relatively low government measures of inflation wrought by productivity overseas, Americans were handsomely fleeced during the Bush years.

While the dollar bought 1/250th of an ounce of gold in 2001, as of this writing it buys 1/819th of an ounce. The aforementioned tariffs were a strong signal from the Bush administration that it desired a weaker dollar, and the aforementioned jawboning of China with regard to the value of the yuan was yet more confirmation.

Bush’s Treasury Secretaries of course paid lip service to a strong dollar being in our interest, but their frequent admonition that “markets” should set the price of the dollar concept revealed that a collapsing unit of account would be countenanced. And when we consider the strong correlation between weak dollars and failed presidents, the greenbacks’s decline on Bush’s watch is the largely untold explanation for his unpopularity. Put simply, voters will put up with a lot, but if the money they earn is being devalued, they become angry. Bush and the Republican majority ignored this truth all the way to minority status.

So while Bush got taxes right in 2003, his other economic policies largely taxed real work, and the direction of the S&P 500 during his tenure confirms as much. Indeed, while many would tie the lowering of tax rates to rising markets, the policies pursued under Bush undermined the good and the S&P fell 34 percent during his time in office. Even if we measure the S&P post 9/11, we find that it still fell 8 percent. To show readers how poor this performance was, the S&P even gained under Jimmy Carter - in his case 24 percent.

What’s comforting in all this is that the basic rules with regard to economic growth still hold. If we reduce the regulatory, tariff, tax and currency barriers to growth, the economy performs well. Unfortunately, none of this was done under Bush. At best we can say that his policies were anti-supply side.

So while his being the only 21st century president means George W. Bush can presently claim to be both the best and worst of the century so far, it seems not much of a reach to assume that the man who said his administration had to intervene in markets in order to save them will go down as the worst economic president of the 21st century. Whatever history's judgement, supply-side thinkers should eagerly bid Bush goodbye for bringing discredit to economic theories that he sadly never implemented.
John Tamny is editor of RealClearMarkets, a senior economist with H.C. Wainwright Economics
5530  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics - Keynesian Stimulus? Keynes is Dead. on: January 20, 2009, 10:43:48 AM
Besides last year's 'stimulus', we already had a $400 billion dollar stimulus from the reduction in energy costs.  That boost could have occurred much sooner or we could have avoided the energy crunch altogether if government could have reduced its stranglehold on American energy production.

Everything today (Obama-Pelosi et al) is Keynesian.  Pass a stimulus, the larger the better, what we spend it on isn't as important as how much...  When you fund a government project for 12-18 months, what do you get at the end of the project?  Let me guess, continued government funding or construction worker layoffs - AGAIN.

Wikipedia re. Keynes: "He advocated interventionist government policy, by which the government would use fiscal and monetary measures to mitigate the adverse effects of economic recessions, depressions and booms."

Keynesian interventions were applied to the so called 'Phillips curve' that stated basically that there is an inverse relationship between inflation and unemployment.  Use inflationary policies for example to curb unemployment.

By the end of the 1970's, because of failed interventionist government policies, both inflation and unemployment were spiking, not offsetting each other.  The activist government ran out of Keynesian interventionist tricks.

Then in the early 1980's both evils were contained with a non-Keynsian, two pronged approach, tight money to control inflation and lower marginal tax rates to restore the incentive to produce.

Now we head back to Keynes hayday, the prosperity of the 1930s.  embarassed

In the late 70s or early 80s the WSJ published an editorial called  "Keynes is Dead."  I would like to find that and see if any of that wisdom might help our new leaders today.
5531  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: The American Creed: Our Founding Fathers: on: January 16, 2009, 09:35:05 PM
Not a founding father, but one of my favorite quotes defending them:

JUDGE JOHN ROBERTS: I had someone ask me in this process, I don't remember who it was, but somebody asked me: are you going to be on the side of the little guy? You obviously want to give an immediate answer, but as you reflect on it, if the Constitution says that the little guy should win, the little guy is going to win in court before me. But if the Constitution says that the big guy should win, well, then the big guy is going to win, because my obligation is to the Constitution.
5532  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics- Never let a serious crisis to go to waste on: January 16, 2009, 08:43:38 PM
Crafty, thanks for posting the piece by Wehner and Ryan.  'Paul Ryan, congressman from Wisconsin, member of the Budget Committee and the Ways and Means Committee' - is one of the potential up and coming voices IMO for electable conservatism - beyond Wisconsin.  Also thanks for posting the Soviet plan from the current powers of the country.  In my view, if we want growth, we just lean a little toward pro-growth policies, not rip up the best economic system in the history of the planet and replace it with what you aptly describe as a copy of the failed Soviet, centrally planned economy.  As we contemplate further bailouts and phony 'stimuli', these contrasting views need to be studied side by side.  I recommend re-reading the Wehner/Ryan piece point by point after the soviet plan and also I recommend the following piece of common sense from Victor Davis Hanson.  He is not as pretty as the governor of our largest state but McCain would also have shocked the world by nominating VDH as running mate.  The MSM would have imploded trying knock down his wisdom:

January 15, 2009
Don't Waste a Crisis?
By Victor Davis Hanson

Euphemism comes from the Greek word euphemia , which means "using the good word" -- usually in place of the accurate bad one. Recently we've become experts at it.

Printing trillions more dollars and growing government to cover new debts isn't so bad if we call it "stimulus." That is far smarter than saying something honest like, "I propose a new $1 trillion debt program."

The old-fashioned spendthrift policies we used to ridicule as congressional pork and "earmarks" are now justified under that ubiquitous nice word "stimulus." If funding another questionable museum in your district was once congressional pork barreling, it will now be a patriotic act to get the national economy moving again.

Yet much of what is driving this national hysteria in our reaction to the current economic downturn is psychological. After all, no plagues, wars or earthquakes have killed our workforce, destroyed our infrastructure or wiped out our computer banks.

Instead, for years now we have overspent and over-borrowed -- and must naturally pay up. And like any chastised debtor, panicked Americans logically have temporarily clammed up and are holding on to what money they have left.

In response, the government apparently doesn't only want to free up credit to get us back to our profligate habits of borrowing what we don't have so we can buy what we don't need. It also would like to create new programs to build infrastructure; guarantee new loans; and offer additional credits, bailouts and entitlements.

Or in the words of incoming White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, "You never want a serious crisis to go to waste."

Traditional conservative custodians of the budget can't say much. They are largely discredited on matters of finance. During the last eight years of Republican prominence in Congress and the White House, the government borrowed as never before.

Liberals in turn have suddenly rewritten their own economic history. They used to claim the great surge in government under President Franklin Delano Roosevelt got us out of the Great Depression with deficit spending and federal jobs programs.

But many historians have argued instead that unemployment and slow growth remained high throughout Roosevelt's first two terms -- until the Second World War scared us all into a fit of national mobilization that alone ended the ongoing 13-year depression between 1929 and 1941.

Now here's the irony: Liberals suddenly agree that only the Second World War stopped the Depression, after all! So they now argue that we need a new New Deal far greater than the old New Deal. In other words, they want to re-create the urgency of World War II to get government to grow and spend big-time.

Their argument is that if FDR failed to stop the Depression, it wasn't, as conservatives insist, because he turned to unworkable government solutions, but rather because he didn't try big enough ones.

The government-affiliated, under-regulated and corrupt Fannie Mae may have collapsed. And it may have helped to cause the sub-prime mortgage meltdown. No matter -- the proposed "don't waste a crisis" cure seems to use that model of government-guaranteed corporations to absorb as much of the economy as possible.

Still, no one knows whether the present borrowing and printing of money to give short-term credits, cash grants and jobs to Americans will get the economy moving again -- or simply reinforce the bad habits that got us here in the first place.

But consider a few facts: Even in the current mess, recent unemployment figures are around 7 percent -- not the 10 percent of the recession of the early 1980s, much less the 25 percent rate that peaked in the Great Depression.

Meanwhile, energy prices have plunged, saving consumers and the country hundreds of billions of dollars. The existing pre-stimulus annual budget was already set to run about a half-trillion-dollar deficit. The present government debt, much of it to Asia and Europe, was nearing $13 trillion even before the latest borrowing plans.

We are going to have to pay these debts back by cutting federal spending and entitlements or raising taxes -- or both. Or we can convince panicky debt holders abroad to loan us even more money for years at near-zero interest rates. Or we can try simply printing trillions of new dollars to inflate the economy while hoping that creditors don't mind being paid with funny money.

What got us in this debacle was the lack of self-control on the part of consumers who borrowed to spend more than they could pay back, rapid growth in government debt, and Wall Street speculators who wanted obscene returns they had not earned.

It would be a pity if the government now trumped these bad examples and turned some helpful federal loan guarantees of troubled banks into a permanent state-run economy with crushing debt for generations to come.

Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and author.
5533  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues, bankrupt liberal media on: January 16, 2009, 08:39:28 PM
Speaking of media bias, could we please have a moment of silence for the (Minneapolis) StarTribune that filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy yesterday.  Known affectionately as the 'Red Star' or the 'Star and Sickle', this paper is as liberal as they come and their their bias runs from page one to the editorials to the weather and yes, through the sports section.  I know the financial crisis in the newspaper business is about advertising revenue and competition from free internet sources, but it doesn't help that your product is designed to alienate nearly 50% of your potential readers.

MN is perhaps the most liberal state in the union, the only state Reagan never won and the home to names like Walter Mondale, Hubert Humphrey, Eugene McCarthy, Paul Wellstone and (NY'er) Al Franken.  Still, that tells only half the story.  Minnesota has elected only one new Democrat governor since 1970, so there is another view here and no newspaper to cover it.

I had the honor embarassed of writing the opposing view published in counterpoint to their predictable endorsement of Bill Clinton in Nov. 1992.  After being gutted by people who didn't understand the point I was making,  I started including 'no edit without permission' with my contributions and never got published again.

In chapter 11 they don't go away, they just quit paying their bills.  Maybe a savvy bankruptcy judge should require them to aim the product at more than half the market.
5534  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Legal Issues created by the War with Islamic Fascism on: January 12, 2009, 04:39:35 PM
"So, what our military faces in training is torture when applied to al qaeda terrorists? Give me your interrogation methods that will work while meeting your standard."

Jumping in (the question was aimed at Crafty), I had a toothache over the holiday which is unpleasant while it is happening.  The thought crossed my mind that morally IMO we perhaps could inflict pain up to the level of the common toothache, no worse than what a terrorist might experience naturally in the course of his life, to someone who is already guilty and captured in the interest of preventing a mass murder.  I'm not suggesting it's a good idea, just saying it's okay with me to leave it on the table for those responsible for our security.

Waterboarding as I understand it is more a matter of tricking them than inflicting harm or pain.

To understand torture better, look closely at the facilities and evidence uncovered from Saddam's regime.  Let's resolve to not be like them.
5535  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Food Chain and Food Politics on: January 12, 2009, 11:45:35 AM
"Doug,  Here is a start to answering your question."  - No, I think you came across something very interesting while looking for an answer to my question. 

For the most part, my view of nutrition is the same as yours.  I would change point 1 from 'eat food' to 'buy (real) food'.  I take some pride in getting to the grocery counter with only fresh meats, whole grains, fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, fresh dairy, etc.  I can eat a box of pop-tarts as fast as anyone so I have to control that it doesn't get purchased or carried into my home.  I don't even walk down those aisles.

Another point was 'cook'.  I would change it to 'eat at home or carry a lunch/dinner' as many good foods do not require cooking. 

Fields fortified with human feces are organic while worm ridden apples and arsenic in water are examples of 'all-natural' products.  What is best I think is just to get good information in order to make your own choices.

"Not everyone can afford to eat well in America, which is shameful..."  - bs IMO - blind allegation, all judgment with no attempt to back it up - and completely away from science, human behavior or economics.  I shop in the same stores as so-called poor people and as an inner city landlord, I clean out their kitchens when they move.  Exotic, diverse species flown in daily from the amazon might be expensive but carrots and oranges and bananas and black beans and spinach leaves etc. etc. are not when compared to the soda and junk food and fried chicken and cigarettes and video games and malt liquor and cd's/ dvd's, cable tv, cell phones, etc. that they spend their money on.  Potato chips are not cheaper than potatoes.  It's about choices people make and as you correctly indicate, the number one nutritional problem for the so-called 'poor in America' is obesity, not famine.

If this search was about my question, nothing I read indicates that farmers don't care about topsoil quality due to availability of fertilizers.  With hydroponics you can grow without topsoil, but the nutrients wash off and must be re-pumped over and over and over.  Nothing about that process is cheaper or more productive that growing in America's heartland with rich, black topsoil.  Growing in clay or sand or depleted, unrotated topsoil requires higher costs to get inferior results to my knowledge.  I will be interested in learning otherwise.

My neighbors do not grow processed corn, beached wheat or over salted soy.  Those are choices made further down the line.  Nor do I ever see them fail to rotate crops or to allow noticable topsoil erosion. 

It is my opinion that the flavorless, nutritionless tomatoes are bred for durability in shipment and longevity for the transport and for presentation at the store.  When we stop buying them, they will stop growing them.  When fresh tomatoes seem like plastic, I buy canned.  The farmers market idea is not always practical for those of us who live where the ground is frozen 6 months of the year.
5536  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Bush Presidency on: January 11, 2009, 11:47:25 AM
Marc,  Thanks for the kind words.  Feel free to revise or delete as we drift back to the abortion 'discussion'. 
5537  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Reproductive issues on: January 11, 2009, 11:43:28 AM
Quoting Rachel's post from 'the Jewish woman': "Conceiving a child is like conceiving an idea." - Oops, bad idea - stab, stab, stab.  No. Conceiving a child is NOT like conceiving an idea.

"Apparently the men in Rome are having trouble understanding some nuances ..." - "the men in Rome" - Is that the level of respect you would like to see posted about your faith?

"I need to bring down my period, ...She was handed a packet of pills...Ms. Dominguez, two or three months pregnant...swallowed the pills one by one... passed a lifeless fetus, which she flushed..." - Curious how we know the fetus was lifeless before or after 'passing'.  How would a live 2 month fetus look different before flushing.  I assume the same pills wrongly administered in wrong dosage to a newborn would have the same affect, just harder to flush.
5538  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Food Chain and Food Politics on: January 11, 2009, 11:26:51 AM
Quoting Rachel: "If you using a lot of fertilizer the quality of your top soil  does not matter  as much."

Please source and quantify.  That's twice I've seen you trivialize the importance farmers put on top soil, but never have I heard a farmer (or homeowner with a garden) trivialize the importance of top soil.
5539  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Coming Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: January 11, 2009, 11:18:34 AM
Rachel wrote:  "GM-- This is the third or fourth time you have posted a poorly sourced smear regarding  Obama and Israel . "

From my observations so far, even quoting Barack Obama from the campaign, the debates or positions posted on his campaign website would also not be reliable sources for predicting what Obama would do as President.

Why would he meet freely with the leaders of Iran but not have 'low level contacts' with Hamas.
5540  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Bush Presidency on: January 09, 2009, 08:45:09 PM
I think it was Jay Leno who said Bush's big accomplishment was bringing an end to the drought in New Orleans...

The points that Karl Rove made about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are true.  But he did not see what was coming and HOLLAR AND SCREAM and use the bully pulpit or call members of his own party on the carpet until he got it done.  So he gets no credit for making a few comments on the correct side of the issue.  He was not elected pundit; he was Commander in Chief and leader of the free world.

Crafty wrote: "Virtually no one likes President Bush very much these days."  - I don't find the 'do you approve, yes or no' polling to be helpful.  It mixes people like me who may disapprove for one set of reasons with people like Ralph Nader for example who may disapprove just as strongly for opposite reasons.  Instead I prefer to choose whether he was on the right or wrong side of each issue, in my judgment, one by one.

On the positive side: 1) very controversial but I think the Iraq and Afghan efforts were amazing accomplishments that included vision and resolve.  Even if Iraq eventually fails, it was a heroic feat by the American soldiers to depose this thug and give millions of people a shot at peace and freedom.  Certainly could not and would not have been done without Bush.

2) Same goes for bold uses of technology and executive powers used to put in place the surveillance methods that have kept us safe for this long.  Very controversial, but IMO he got it right.

3) The tax rate cuts were successful beyond all predictions, discussed elsewhere on the forum recently.

4) Samuel Alito and especially Chief Justice John Roberts.

Biggest failures, time and space permitting:

1) Failure or inability to communicate even when he was doing things right.  Allowing his own popularity to tank crippled the presidency in the later years.

2) Spending and his failure to ever stand up to his own party.  There is an intentional division of powers between branches of government and he was wrong to go along with spending that was excessive - understatement.

3) Within spending was the expansion of federal powers and the unfunded liabilities.  Examples: prescription drugs medicare benefits.  Assuming the constitution puts the feds in charge of meds, then maybe it was a good program, but it doesn't.  If the constitution granted the federal government the responsibility to run the schools, then maybe 'No Child Left Behind' was a good program - but it doesn't.

4) Immigration reform - This was bungled.  Wrong program done in the wrong order - and never got it done.  My idea would be to cover the closing of illegal crossings with an expansion of immigration in the legal type, recruiting workers in skilled and educated fields where we need help, not just from one culture and not just mindless labor beneath the dignity of our local workforce.
5541  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: India and India-Pak on: January 09, 2009, 07:34:12 PM
I went to post India's evidence against Pakistan and saw that GM already got to it 2 days ago.  Again:

Here are a few excerpts from intercepted telephone conversations between the terrorists and their handlers in Pakistan that gives a good feel for the outside coordination of the terrorists - from  Highly recommended reading if you want a glimpse inside their warped minds.

    Caller [to the terrorists in the Taj Majal Hotel]: Greetings! There are three Ministers and one Secretary of the Cabinet in your hotel. We don't know in which room.

    Receiver: Oh! That is good news! It is the icing on the cake.

    Caller: Find those 3-4 persons and then get whatever you want from India.

    Receiver: Pray that we find them.

    Caller: Do one thing. Throw one or two grenades on the Navy and police teams, which are outside.

This one is between a Pakistani controller and one of the terrorists who attacked Chabad House:

    Caller: Greetings. What did the Major General say?

    Receiver: Greetings. The Major General directed us to do what we like. We should not worry. The operation has to be concluded tomorrow morning. Pray to God. Keep two magazines and three grenades aside, and expend the rest of your ammunition.

This one is between a terrorist at the Oberoi Hotel and a Pakistani handler:

    Caller: Brother Abdul. The media is comparing your action to 9/11. One senior police officer has been killed.

    Abdul Rehman: We are on the 10th/11th floor. We have five hostages.

    Caller 2 (Kafa): Everything is being recorded by the media. Inflict the maximum damage. Keep fighting. Don't be taken alive.

    Caller: Kill all hostages, except the two Muslims. Keep your phone switched on so that we can hear the gunfire.

    Fahadullah: We have three foreigners including women. From Singapore and China.

    Caller: Kill them.

    (Voices of Fahadullah and Abdul Rehman directing hostages to stand in a line, and telling two Muslims to stand aside. Sound of gunfire. Cheering voices heard in background.)

From the Taj Mahal Hotel:

    Caller: How many hostages do you have?

    Receiver: We have one from Belgium. We have killed him. There was one chap from Bangalore. He could be controlled only with a lot of effort.

    Caller: I hope there is no Muslim amongst them?

    Receiver: No, none.

Finally, this conversation between a terrorist at Chabad House and his superior in Pakistan:

    Wassi: Keep in mind that the hostages are of use only as long as you do not come under fire because of their safety. If you are still threatened, then don't saddle yourself with the burden of the hostages, immediately kill them.

    Receiver: Yes, we shall do accordingly, God willing.

    Wassi: The Army claims to have done the work without any hostage being harmed. Another thing; Israel has made a request through diplomatic channels to save the hostages. If the hostages are killed, it will spoil relations between India and Israel.

    Receiver: So be it, God willing.

I'm sure there must be some good reason why the evil incarnate that was revealed in the Mumbai attack, and the information that has emerged subsequently about Pakistan's role in it, did not give rise to world-wide protests and demonstrations. Offhand, though, I can't think what it might be.  - John Hinderacker, Powerline
5542  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: January 09, 2009, 12:08:02 PM
CCP: Thank you for your opposition to government run health care!

One note on the Daschle appointment with Bob Dole introducing, I thought Obama was promising a lobbyist-free administration:

"Daschle ... advised the lobbying firm Alston & Bird...Dole introduced Daschle...He now works with Daschle at Alston & Bird."

Daschle's wife was/is also a HUGE lobbyist so maybe 99% of the family income comes from lobbying?  Makes Obama look a lot like Bill Clinton - say anything you want to any audience at any time and have enough charm to pull it off.  It's not the lobbying; it's the obvious deception that disgusts me.

Not mentioned, Daschle was the ringleader of the blocking of appointments to the judiciary by the minority in the senate, so he went from winning re-election by 30 points to losing in his own state.
5543  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Russia-- Europe on: January 09, 2009, 10:14:24 AM
The behavior of Russia is very strange.  This is certainly a reminder that no one should rely on enemies or even unreliable friends for things that are life-sustaining or in this case sovereignty-sustaining.

I've long had a theory that Saudi will not cut off oil supply because that also necessarily means closing their cash register, and China will not destroy our currency because they the are heavily invested.  Yet at a time when Russia's asset values and cash flows have imploded, they cut off their own arm in what is obviously some form of warfare that goes beyond economic.  As in the case of strange behavior before the Georgia invasion, I assume that something dramatic from Russia follows this, I think regardless of whether their demands are met.

They said the Georgia aggression was timed with the distraction of the Olympics and this perhaps timed maybe to the transition distraction in the U.S. but mostly to winter and unrest at home in Russia.

I don't see how an act of war draws now-sovereign nations to want to re-join them.  Living in a cold climate, we have survived price spikes with heating gas and very short outages with electricity but I can't remember a natural gas interruption in my lifetime.  The pipeline has constant pressure.

Too bad that we are in no position to help those countries with energy... or security.  I suppose it is too far to ship coal and our leftist electorate won't let us produce more energy anyway.  Still I wonder what a U.S. or world response should be.  At the very least this rogue nation should be removed immediately from the security council and wishfully from the UN.  If the charter does not allow removal of a 'permanent' member then it is a good time IMO to form a new group - and be a little more selective this time.
5544  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors, Hamas' Congressman on: January 09, 2009, 09:33:04 AM
Denny had a recent post titled 'Two Great Videos'.  I agree with Michael Bloomberg.

At the other end of the spectrum, here is the congressman from CAIR, Minneapolis Representative Kieth Ellison on al Jazeera, trying to be persuasive the other way.  For Americans who believe there is moral equivalence between one side who wants to protect its own citizens and the other who intentionally endangers their own while they bomb and terrorize the innocent people that they hate, you can have our congressman.
5545  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: January 08, 2009, 07:53:25 PM
Crafty wrote: "Marginal tax rates IMHO are a matter of the deepest import."

 - Absolutely true and people like Bush, McCain, even Palin forget or don't understand the other key words besides tax - 'marginal' and 'rate'.  It isn't (just) taxes - the money - they take, it's the incentive to produce that gets badly eroded.

I wrote that the coming revolt should be based on limits on spending and limits on government based on my view of where the electorate might be.  The bailouts and slush funds going into the trillions aren't wearing well on the people IMO.  I still agree that marginal tax rates are extremely important.  But marginal rates today are not where Reagan found them so the opportunity to cut further and the political opportunity to get a groundswell of support for that is smaller.  OTOH, opposing increases in marginal tax rates is hugely important.  I believe that just Obama's INTENT to raise investment taxes was one big factor in the asset selloff that collapsed values of everything from real estate to stocks, to bonds, to commodities, to money.

Cheney once said something like 'deficits don't matter'...

 - I take that to be a partial sentence or partial thought, like getting Osama bin Laden is not important, meaning that it is not the only thing, the main thing or the first thing.  It is still important!

Cheney was alleged to say in a policy argument that "Reagan proved that deficits don't matter".  That was a quote comes from the writer who took it from an interview from the recollection of the person who was arguing tax cut proposals with Cheney, who also admitted they were interrupting each other, Paul O'Neill the former Treasury Secretary and a book about his service by Ron Suskind.  The quote is also suspiciously provocative, as if to sell books, even if it might be exact or close to what was actually said.  In fact, revenues again surged at double digit rates when the marginal tax rates were cut, surpassing CBO projections by hundreds of billions of dollars, and again th deficits were caused by excess spending.  There is no indication that growth ended before the first phase-out of the 'temporary' cuts started Jan. 1 2008.  Also growth did not end until investors and producers could see that the likelihood of tax cuts expiring was imminent and inevitable.

What Cheney should have said and I believe has said on explanation was that deficits in the 1980s did NOT have ANY of the effects on the economy that were predicted.  In fact, interest rates and inflation both fell during that time.  It did not crowd out private borrowing because we had a simultaneous explosion of growth.  The cutting of marginal tax rates did NOT cause the deficits.  Across the board tax cuts in the early 1980s resulted in revenues to the Treasury DOUBLING in the 1980s.  The deficits were caused by excess spending in the form of a) compromises that Reagan had to make with a Democratic congress on domestic spending and caused by b) increased defense spending that was needed to bring down the Soviet empire, a worthwhile endeavor.

Deficits do matter.  As CCP correctly points out they put a burden on the budget for interest costs and a burden on taxpayers of future years that carry the debt forward.  

But deficits aren't the first thing in economic importance.  As Crafty correctly points out, public spending takes resources away from the private sector and creates a burden whether you tax to pay for it or you borrow or you print the money.  Bloated public sector spending is a burden holding back growth whether you tax, borrow or inflate.  What people like Cheney or Gilder might point out is that a public sector taking half the resources of the economy using pay as you go and a zero deficit is a much larger burden on the economy than having the public sector take 20% of the resources but running a deficit at 1% of GDP.  Gilder has made that point saying you could have a zero tax rate, but that IMO is for illustration and absurd in practice.  I think all sides at least say we want to minimize borrowing and avoid runaway inflation.

'Debt is Good'.  It means that you can do more and go further if you are not totally restrained by the timing of income and outflows of funds.  That doesn't mean more debt is better or that what you invest in doesn't matter.  Most families take on debt to live in a home while they pay for it.  Alternatively, they could wait until accumulating 200k for a median home and then buy it.  By then most families won't need the yard or the swingset because the kids will be turning 50.  Same goes for a bridge over the Mississippi River and all the other public sector infrastructure projects that we need.  We could tax now, put away the money and build the bridges later when we have all the money.  Meanwhile, no one can reasonably commute across the river.  Goods don't move and goods don't get sold across the river, etc.  If we waited to pay for defense spending we might be speaking a Soviet language by now.  Debt, properly used and structured, can be good.
5546  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics - re. WSJ PD on: January 08, 2009, 05:51:32 PM
First, thanks for posting.  The WSJ editorialists are generally spot-on. Now the criticism...

'Burris outsmarted Harry Reid' - Okay..... If I had any pets I would say my dog could do that, lol.  Burris was appointed by the sitting gov. The gov is accused, not convicted.  Obama and Reid were fools to think they could block anything.  They could intimidate with the threat of impeachment but the impeach is already scheduled so there is no threat.  Dems in March 2010 will do whatever the Chicago/Obama machine wants - maybe there will be an endorsement fight. No big deal IMO.  'He will be 73'.  That makes him roughly one generation younger than their oldest member.  After endorsement he (or the new guy) will have the full backing of the sitting President and the political machine unless a world war breaks out in the party and IL is a Dem state by 16 pts.

My point is that Republicans and Conservatives better start thinking about Democrats and Liberals serving in Red States and districts and recruit, train and prepare a winning battle plan starting yesterday or they will fail and fail and fail again.  IL politics and Democrat scandals are a side show.  They have the media on their side and will never be held to the same standard.

Blagojevich is winning(?)... [Howard Dean] "could not help but admire the brilliance of the Blagojevich ploy." - NO.  Blagojevich is going to prison unless the charges are false or unprovable.  Winning this fight means nothing since he can't get paid for it.
5547  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants on: January 08, 2009, 12:41:04 PM
Corruption and cronyism in Chicago probably deserves its own topic but I'll just throw this in rants.,CST-NWS-inspect07.article

 Chicago Public Schools' cappuccino bill: $67,000
'A WASTE OF MONEY' | Report says staffers skirted rules to buy 30 coffeemakers, changed athletes' grades, falsified addresses

January 7, 2009

BY ART GOLAB Staff Reporter

Chicago public school bureaucrats skirted competitive bidding rules to buy 30 cappuccino/espresso machines for $67,000, with most of the machines going unused because the schools they were ordered for had not asked for them, according to a report by the CPS Office of Inspector General.

That was just one example of questionable CPS actions detailed in the inspector general's 2008 annual report. Others included high school staffers changing grades to pump up transcripts of student athletes and workers at a restricted-enrollment grade school falsifying addresses to get relatives admitted.

In the case of the cappuccino machines, central office administrators split the order among 21 vocational schools to avoid competitive bidding required for purchases over $10,000. As a result CPS paid about $12,000 too much, according to Inspector General James Sullivan. "We were able to find the same machines cheaper online," he said.

"We also look at it as a waste of money because the schools didn't even know they were getting the equipment, schools didn't know how to use the machines and weren't prepared to implement them into the curriculum," Sullivan said.

CPS spokesman Michael Vaughn said CPS plans to change its purchasing policy so that competitive bidding kicks in when a vendor accumulates $10,000 worth of orders, no matter how many schools are involved. One person was fired and disciplinary action is pending against three others, he said.

The grade-changing took place at an unidentified high school, where student athletes grades were boosted, then, after transcripts were issued for college admission offices, the grades were changed back. The culprits could not be identified because passwords allowing entry to the grading system were shared by a number of people, Sullivan said. A new record system has tighter security, he said.

At Carson Elementary, an overcrowded school in Gage Park where even neighborhood kids were restricted from enrolling, five lower- level employees got six relatives into the school by falsifying addresses. Sixty-nine students from outside the attendance area got in, but they didn't even bother to lie about their addresses. CPS had to spend as much as $252,000 to bus kids who live in the neighborhood to other schools, Sullivan said.

Vaughn said the employees involved have resigned, been fired or will be fired.
5548  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The electoral process, vote fraud (ACORN et al) and more on: January 08, 2009, 12:37:22 PM
Joe Soucheray, columnist for the St. Paul Pioneer Press on the bizarre, selective recount below.  I said order a re-vote because the errors exceed the margin.  He says flip a coin - a far more fair and even process than the current one.  Now the legal process goes to the MN Supreme Court, former NFL MVP and Democrat activist Alan Page presiding.  We don't just elect wrestlers here, lol.

Soucheray: Recount stew cooked down to a horribly tainted end
By Joe Soucheray

The recount process didn't work or, more accurately, could not reasonably determine a winner. Al Franken no more won the U.S. Senate race than your pet cat, Zuba, who somebody probably voted for as a write-in candidate.

It would have been more plausible had Norm Coleman won the recount, having won on Election Night but by such a slim margin that it was mathematically unacceptable and thus triggered a recount.

In Minnesota, a victory margin of less than one-half of 1 percent triggers a recount. That's ridiculous, because the process that followed resulted in even less than a one-half of 1 percent margin for the victor.

The recount cannot determine a winner because the recount process we just witnessed quite likely produced corruption, however carefully it was massaged. It is difficult to believe, for example, that Franken benefited each time the canvassing board, under the eagle-eyed glare of Mark Ritchie, a secretary of state who it seems was tailor-made for this particular victory by another Democrat, applied different standards to different problems.

A precinct in Minneapolis "lost'' 133 ballots? Well, let's ignore that and just revert to the election night tallies from that precinct. A precinct in Maplewood had 171 more ballots to count than their total from the election? Hmm, we better count those. Not to mention quite probably double-counted votes and the generosity that was shown to many of the absentee voters whose errors in following instructions
were thought to be only "minor.''

The corruption we just witnessed is ideological in nature, a corruption of privilege and responsibility. Secretaries of state, like Ritchie, have become powerful players in elections. By encouraging more voting and making it sound virtuous and noble to do so, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, for example, brought into the fold more and more uninterested and disengaged bodies, cheapening the votes of the legitimate lot of us who vote correctly and responsibly. Joe Mansky, the chief election officer in Ramsey County, said the other day that when he asked the long line of absentee voters who were outside his offices the Monday before the election why they were there, he heard from many, "The Obama campaign sent us.''

Now, of course, the Obama campaign can obviously encourage the strongest possible voter turnout, but when voting activists drag a net through the state and dump every possible human being who can fog a mirror and don't need much identification at the polling places or have them fill out absentee ballots, you are simply providing all the ingredients necessary to cook a recount stew that resulted in, well, the way it was supposed to result this time.

The result is horribly tainted. It will probably hold, despite impending court proceedings, but it will be no less tainted. And yes, the same would be true had Coleman emerged with a 225-vote victory. The margin for error is too glaring to be ignored by the other side.

What we need is a margin of victory that is mathematically bulletproof, not one-half of 1 percent. I don't know what that margin is, but a mathematician could come up with it based on vote totals. Out of 2.9 million votes cast, there would have to be a margin of victory that could not be automatically challenged as questionable. One vote below that number would call for the coin flip — yes, a coin flip.

A coin flip would have been more honest and contained more dignity than this slop we just endured. It takes all mischief off the table. Ceremonial coins could have been minted with Norm's face on one side and Al's face on the other. The coin would be showed to the television cameras before the toss. The candidates wouldn't even have to call it. If their face survives the flip, they win.

Then, they shake hands, and the state sells off the 10,000 or so minted special coins and dedicates the proceeds to the arts or wetland restoration or, the way we are going, to providing more buses to bring numskulls to the polls. You just can't make a good recount stew without those questionable ballots.
5549  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Pathological Science on: January 08, 2009, 11:51:26 AM
While we wait for Al Gore's apology and while my email fills with cold weather warnings for my daughter's ski race this weekend- must take note that the dog sled races are canceled due to too much snow, lol. Not just that it's too much snow, but it has been so cold that the snow is too cold, too light, and too fluffy to pack on the trails.  I don't remember that prediction in the movie...
How's this for odd? Minnesota sled dog race canceled because of too much snow
Patrick Springer, Forum Communications, Bemidji Pioneer
Published Tuesday, January 06, 2009
Here’s another entry for the annals of noteworthy winter weather: The dogsled race near Frazee, Minn., has been canceled because there’s too much snow.

Too much fluffy snow that keeps drifting and therefore made it impossible to maintain a groomed trail.

That poses a safety risk to the dogs, supercharged canines whose mushers need a groomed trail to drop a hook to stop when necessary.

“We can’t pack it,” race organizer Eddy Streeper said Monday. “We just can’t get it packed. We had to speak up on behalf of the dogs.”

The Third Crossing Sled Dog Rendezvous, slated for Jan. 23-24, would have been the ninth annual running of the sprint races, which twice were canceled for lack of snow.

This winter, as anyone with a driveway knows, has been a season of prodigious snows.

The Frazee area has received about 3 feet of snow, but winds keep creating drifts of 4 feet or more over the course, which was to host races of four to 14 miles.

“The drifting aspect is just unbelievable,” said Streeper, a native of Canada who has been involved with dogsled racing for 25 years. “I’ve never seen anything like it.”

The National Weather Service doesn’t tally snow accumulations and moisture content for Frazee. But snowfalls in Fargo, 54 miles to the northwest, have totaled 39.3 inches since October, with 2.37 liquid inches.  That translates into a moisture content of 6 percent – snow is considered wet at around 30 percent to 35 percent. That dry, fluffy snow is just too deep.

Cancellation of the dog races is a blow to Frazee, population 1,374. Last year’s two-day event drew 2,000 to 3,000 spectators, and contestants come from as far as Alaska, five Canadian provinces and five or six states.  “This is the NASCAR of sled-dogging, the sprint ones,” said Gale Kaas, Frazee Sled Dog Club secretary.
5550  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics - tax revolts on: January 07, 2009, 11:33:28 PM
Interesting article BBG.  Where are those people now who pushed Prop 13 to the forefront?  On my local front (Twin Cities, MN) in the past year we had 1) a tax increase handed to us by our county board to build a new MN Twins stadium.  Strangely, it is a county tax for a state resource - actually a private business - and I live further from the stadium site than 100% of the residents of St. Paul where the tax does not apply.  If you buy items outside the county and use them inside the county you are to file and send in the usage tax!!! We had 2) a gas tax hike from the state Dem. legislature, and worst of all 3) we had a statewide sales tax increase passed by the voters!  If you opposed the tax increase then you are opposing clean water and wanting our lakes to become filth (even though we already pay a state agency to ensure water purity.  Not exactly a tax revolt when a tax increase passes statewide by I think 8 points.  My property taxes on my home in Minnesota are 20 times higher than on my home in Colorado.

(Meanwhile, 'Communist China' cut business tax rates in 2008 from less than ours to way less than ours...)

In the case of Obama, I know he said he would cut taxes on 95% of the people.  I personally don't think his voters relied much on that as their reason for choosing him.  I think he was pre-empting the promises that would come from his R. opponent. But in the case of tax increases on the rich he had to actually promise tax hikes to get elected and then back off from a governing perspective at least temporarily to keep from continuing to crash the economy.  Unbelievable.  My point is that I unfortunately don't see a tax revolt environment. 

I frankly see more of a chance for revolt based on reckless use of public funds or play money from the Treasury - see SB Mig's post just preceding that characterizes Bush use of TARP funds as "lawlessness".  Apart from the allegation of unlawfulness in process, what about the constitutionality (equal protection?) of government helping individual businesses, punishing others and the economic system ignorance of not letting failing enterprises fail.  I think the revolt should be based this time on public spending and a turn back toward limits on government.  Once we decide to contain spending - at ALL levels, we can look at funding.
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