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5501  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / America 101 (The Obama Phenomena) on: May 16, 2010, 12:03:14 AM
I prefer to focus on the way forward, but a big part of it is to recognize exactly where we are right now.  The governing mistakes as we see them is what is uniting and energizing a new movement.  I would challenge any supporter to point out anything in this or the previous, Crafty's Procter & Gamble post, that is untrue or unfair criticism.
America 101 With Dean Obama,  (Victor Davis Hanson, Works and Days)

America is now a campus, and Obama is our Dean

This is the strangest presidency I have seen in my lifetime. President Obama gives soaring lectures on civility, but still continues his old campaign invective (“get in their face,” “bring a gun to a knife fight,” etc.) with new attacks  on particular senators, Rush Limbaugh, and entire classes of people—surgeons, insurers, Wall Street, those at Fox News, tea-partiers, etc.

And like the campaign, he still talks of bipartisanship (remember, he was the most partisan politician in the Senate), but has rammed through health care without a single Republican vote. His entire agenda—federal take-overs of businesses, near two-trillion-dollar deficits, health care, amnesty, and cap and trade—does not earn a majority in the polls. Indeed, the same surveys reveal him to be the most polarizing president in memory.

His base was hyper-critical of deficit spending under Bush, the war on terror, Iraq and Afghanistan, and government involvement with Wall Street. But suddenly even the most vocal of the left have gone silent as Obama’s felonies have trumped Bush’s misdemeanors on every count.

All this reminds me of the LaLa land of academia. Let me explain.

That Was Then, This is Now

Last week, Obama was at it again. He blasted the oil companies and his own government for lax regulation in the Gulf, apparently convinced that no one in the media would consider his last 16 months of governance in any way responsible for, well, federal governance. (I don’t have strong views on the degree of culpability a president has for lax federal agencies amid disasters, only that I learned from the media between 2004-8 that a president must accept a great deal blame after most catastrophes [at least Katrina was nature- rather than human- induced].)

Obama also trashed, inter alia, Halliburton for the spill, as he had done on other matters ritually in the campaign (“I will finally end the abuse of no-bid contracts once and for all,” “The days of sweetheart deals for Halliburton will be over when I’m in the White House”). Obama seemed to assume that few cared that his administration just gave Halliburton a $568 million no-bid contract.

Standards for Thee, But Not …

When a Senator Obama a while back weighed in on the ill-fated Harriet Miers, he quite logically predicated his skepticism on a dearth of publications (though I found that embarrassing at the time since Senator/Law Professor Obama was essentially without a record of scholarly work), and an absence of judicial experience—both legitimate concerns. So, of course, are we now to expect Obama to talk up his recent Supreme Court nominee Ms. Kagan, and ignore her relative lack of scholarly experience without a judicial past (sort of like being secretary of education without having taught anything)? Does the president, who as a senator voted to deny a court seat to Alito and Roberts, think Kagan is better qualified than either, and, if so, on what grounds—more scholarship, more judicial experience, a more diverse upbringing, intangible criteria like once recruiting Barack Obama?

I once wondered during the campaign whether such serial contradictions in the Obama narrative ever mattered. During his denials of ever hearing Rev. Wright engage in the pastor’s trademark hate speech, I recalled Obama’s 2004 interview with the Sun-Times when he was running for the Senate and wanted to boast of his religious fides. When asked, “Do you still attend Trinity?” Obama snapped right back, “Yep. Every week. 11 o’clock service.” Every week, but mysteriously not those in which Wright did his customary race-bashing?

When for the first time since 1976 a presidential candidate reneged on promises to participate in pubic financing in the general relations, I remembered Obama’s early promise to do the opposite. The press slept on that.

The list of his blatant contradictions could be multiplied. I’ve written here about the past demagoguing on tribunals, Predators, Guantanamo, renditions, Afghanistan, Iraq, wiretaps, intercepts, and the Patriot Act, and the subsequent Obama embrace of all of them, in some cases even trumping Bush in his exuberance.

The Never-ending Story

We could play this game with the entire health care debate—all on C-SPAN, will save billions, not cost billions as the CBO now attests, etc.—the pledge not to hire lobbyists or allow earmarks, to pledge to post legislation for a specified time on the government website, the pledge to prohibit his team from returning within 2 years to the private lobbying revolving door, and so on.

The blatant hypocrisy and untruths are superimposed on a constant (it has not yet begun to let up in his second year) refrain of either “Bush did it” or “the opposition won’t let me be bipartisan.”

Where does this disregard for the truth arise? On the most superficial level, of course, Obama realizes that the media is obsequious and sanctions almost anything he does.  He knows that his base was always interested in power, not principle (has anyone seen any war protests the last few weeks against Afghanistan or Iraq, or Guantanamo, or the quadrupling of Predator attacks? Or for that matter, are there anti-Obama Hispanic protests over the increased crackdown on employers and greater deportations than during the Bush era?).

America 101

Yet again, neither the press nor his chameleon followers quite explain what is going on. Instead, I think we, the American people, are seen by Obama as a sort of Ivy League campus, with him as an untouchable dean. So we get the multicultural bromides, the constant groupthink, and the reinvention of the self that we see so often among a professional class of administrator in universities (we used to get their memos daily and they read like an Obama teleprompted speech).  Given his name, pedigree, charisma, and eloquence, Obama could say or do almost anything—in the way race/class/gender adjudicate reality on campus, or perhaps in the manner the old gentleman C, pedigreed rich students at prewar Princeton sleepwalked through their bachelor’s degrees, almost as a birthright. (I am willing to apologize for this crude analogy when the Obama Columbia undergraduate transcript is released and explains his next rung Harvard.) In other words, the public does not grasp to what degree supposedly elite universities simply wave their own rules when they find it convenient.

In academia, there are few consequences for much of anything; but in Obama’s case his legal career at Chicago seems inexplicable without publications (and even more surreal when Law Dean Kagan laments on tape her difficulties in recruiting him to the law school—but how would that be possible when a five- or six-book law professor from a Texas or UC Irvine would never get such an offer from a Chicago or Harvard?).

What You Say You Are

On an elite university campus what you have constructed yourself into always matters more than what you have done. An accent mark here, a hyphenated name there is always worth a book or two. There is no bipartisanship or indeed any political opposition on campuses; if the Academic Senate weighs in on national issues to “voice concern,” the ensuing margin of vote is usually along the lines of Saddam’s old lopsided referenda.

In other words, Obama assumed as dean he would talk one way, do another, and was confident he could “contextualize” and “construct” a differing narrative—to anyone foolish enough who questioned the inconsistency. As we have seen with Climategate, or the Gore fraud, intent always trumps empiricism in contemporary intellectual circles. Obama simply cannot be held to the same standard we apply to most other politicians—given his heritage, noble intention, and landmark efforts to transform America into something far fairer.

Like so many academics, Obama becomes petulant when crossed, and like them as well, he “deigns” to know very little out of his field (from Cinco de Mayo to the liberation of Auschwitz), and only a little more in it. Obama voiced the two main gospels of the elite campus: support for redistributive mechanisms with other people’s wealth; and while abroad, a sort of affirmative action for less successful nations: those who are failing and criticized the U.S. under Bush proved insightful and worthy of outreach ( a Russia or Syria); but those who allied themselves with us (an Israel or Colombia) are now suspect.

The Intrusions of the Real World

How does our tenure with Obama as dean end?

I have no idea other than I think at some point Obama’s untruths, hypocrisies, and contradictions will, in their totality, finally remind the voter he is not a student.

After all, America is not a campus. It has real jobs that are not lifelong sinecures. Americans work summers. There are consequences when rhetoric does not match reality. Outside of Harvard or Columbia, debt has to be paid back and is not called stimulus. We worry about jobs lost, not those in theory created or saved. We don’t blame predecessors for our own ongoing failures. Those who try to kill us are enemies, whose particular grievances we don’t care much to know about. Diversity is lived rather than professed; temporizing is not seen as reflection, but weakness.

And something not true is not a mere competing narrative, but a flat-out lie.
5502  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Libertarian Issues on: May 15, 2010, 01:58:14 PM
I would rather move toward decriminalization than legalization.  What you self-grow and self-consume on your own property would already be legal if the constitution was interpreted with any meaning or consistency.  As much as I want to move with you in a libertarian direction, I already don't appreciate Viagra/Cialis commercials during prime-time family television much less want to see the beginning of ad agencies glamorizing pot.  I am not anti-pot but don't have any desire to see it more out in the open nor to have government expanded to take over the control and distribution, and don't kid yourself - they would. (IMHO)

I assume you would look at cocaine, crack, meth, the date rape drug and hard narcotics differently, but also I have seen pot over-use mess up plenty of people's lives.  It comes down to what is government's role when some  can enjoy it for relaxation and for others it becomes an obsession if not an addiction.

I remember the story about the lab mouse given one dispenser of cocaine and one of food, then he starved to death based on his choices.  Also the story of the pot addicts who held up the bakery but forgot to empty the register - but i digress.

If we wanted to move this large ship in a gradually more libertarian direction there are a lot of other less controversial steps we could take first before drug legalization.  Legalizing the lemonade stand would be a start; it violates literally dozens of ordinances in most municipalities.  Minneapolis shut down a church-based clothing shelf right before Christmas one cold winter for license and zoning violations. A landlord with a PhD in EE can't change his own smoke detector without a contractor license and an informed patient can't authorize their own pain remedy.

The bulk of street drug abuse in my observation is tied to our welfare system.  Generalizing a bit about the inner city, but the breadwinner of the family is the woman who can have children and qualify for increasing amounts of assistance leaving the male not needed for support and free to pursue other interests.  If we cleaned up the free lunch / free ride from within our public system and forced the able minded and able bodied to self-support, they might traffic less and indulge more responsiblibly with their own hard earned money and their own need to get up and be sharp the next morning.

The war on drugs was a failure, okay, so we go back to more traditional methods like re-evaluating penalties and arresting and prosecuting only after evidence of a crime has come to the attention of law enforcement.
5503  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: May 14, 2010, 12:14:34 PM
CCP, You are 100% right on the national issue being all about politics.  Obama wants and needs the new people legalized based on projected voting and he wants the R's portrayed as opposing it based on ethnicity.  It seems to me though that the property owners of AZ are at wits end because of trespassing, kidnapping etc. not ethnicity.  I agree that the marketing of that message must be done very carefully and precisely.

5504  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Political Economics, Scott Grannis and the best economists on: May 14, 2010, 11:45:59 AM
I agree with Crafty that Scott's site is a wonderful read for economic analysis.  He has very timely and telling charts analysis from a very wide range of great sources with his own excellent insights.   I also agree with Crafty that I am not as optimistic going forward as the some of the best supply side economists.

Asking economists to tell us the future is not fair.  I am perfectly happy to judge them by their ability to analyze what has already happened which is hard enough.  In economics, hindsight is NOT always 20/20.  I have found Scott to be among the very best in the profession, along with IMO Brian Wesbury, David Malpass and others.  I have benefited greatly from Scott's insights at Gilder and OP as well as currently at the Calafia Beach Pundit site.

What we have right now is an unknown impending storm of negative public policy forces attacking the most successful private market system in history.  It is impossible IMO to say right now who will win. 

Some form of socialized medicine already passed but no one knows the impact on the economy because of the delay to implement and the possible change of power in congress later this year.

We have cap and trade policies coming to destroy our industries or we don't. 

We have a massive tax hike on investors and employers ("ending the Bush tax cuts on the rich") at the end of this year or we don't. 

We have a domino effect coming from collapsing countries and states or it will be somewhat isolated and we mostly survive it. 

Our trillion and a half dollar annual deficit will either be financeable until we can get it under control or it won't.

And our currency... either we have already set ourselves on a course where we have borrowed, expanded and printed it to the point of it becoming worthless and meaningless or we haven't.  Depends on some other factors partly unknown.

The very best golf (or fight) analyst can tell you the all about the players in the game, past performance, swing dynamics, training techniques, equipment changes, confidence levels, etc. but none will tell you accurately what their scores of the Masters will be before the tournament.  That's why they play the game.
5505  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Political Economics, Community organizing in bankrupt Illinois on: May 14, 2010, 11:04:50 AM
Prentice, Your illustration of Illinois going bankrupt is right on the money.  The "community organizing" was always in the direction of anti-capitalism.  Lobbying the government to take from those who earned it and give to those who didn't.  They fought the rights of property owners to evict, the rights of mortgage holders to foreclose and the right of lenders to discriminate based on creditworthyness. The assumption is that the rich are so rich, America is so rich that no effort at 'social justice', welfare 'rights', expansion of government, bloated public employees payrolls and pensions, increase of tax rates, destruction of incentives etc etc will have any negative affect on the economy or jobs whatsoever. 

They were wrong.

What they should have been doing is establishing free market zones starting with the legalization of lemonade stands in the worst neighborhoods of Chicago and show the youth early how to build earned wealth.
5506  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: May 14, 2010, 10:47:44 AM
"why do we tolerate 50K illegal Irish in NYC?  Why is this not as outrageous as the Latinos coming here illegally?  What is the difference?"

Your point on principle is valid, but the issue of the moment is the Arizona law and that would most certainly apply to illegals from Ireland.  Most supporters nationwide of the Arizona law would like to see it duplicated elsewhere.

I think we already agreed Hannity is not the brightest light nor a leader in the movement nor running for anything.  I assume he was blindsided by that statistic, if true. 

My primary justification for border control and document checking comes from learning about the 19 hijackers who lived among us for the wrong reasons so I should not sneeze at 50,000 as a small number.  But 50k is not 20 million, when you ask what is the difference. Another difference is that we don't share a border with Ireland so checking the entry is a possible. Like with the hijackers, I imagine they overstay their visas, live and hide among us while law enforcement turns a blind eye even when discovered in a traffic stop for example.  NYC (and the rest)should end its own safe haven for illegals status if it wants people to have respect for the law.
5507  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government Programs, spending, budget process on: May 06, 2010, 11:17:17 AM
Spoof of GM CEO explaining how they re-paid the loan.  Sounds about right.
5508  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Way Forward for the American Creed on: May 06, 2010, 12:37:09 AM
Thank you CCP! More Black Republicans are running for congress than ever before.  Allen West sounds very good to me.  I listened to him here on a Laura Ingraham archive following your post:

Of course there is a shortage of people of color in the Republican Party when 19 out of 20 African-Americans voted for Obama.  West spells it out.  We don't compete based on selling Democrat-Lite.  We stand for a set of principles and ask people to join with us with those principles.

He says that if the tea party is only for white people maybe he just has a very good tan.

Florida 22 is the East coast from Palm Beach down to Fort Lauderdale. Allen West lost in 2008 by 9.5%, very possibly winnable this year.

5509  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants on: May 05, 2010, 12:35:14 PM
Pres. Bush paid a political price over Katrina because big government is lousy at delivering goods and services.  Obama may or may not pay a political price over the abysmal federal response in the gulf - failure to even execute its own emergency response plan.  In the mortgage crisis, the oversight committee actually made things worse instead of preventing or alleviating the crisis.  The SEC administrators it turns out were addicted to porn and happy to have free internet at work.  Most of what is wrong with healthcare originates from government's already heavy involvement in it.  Every government subsidy to make higher education affordable drives up the cost of higher education.  Government measures poverty by not counting any of the subsidies we already pay to alleviate poverty and measure homelessness by not counting the money we spend to house the homeless.

This week in the housing business I dug out a green area to replace it with pavement to comply with City of Minneapolis inspection orders that have the power to fine, assess and take my property if I don't comply while other departments of the City Government meet with their highly paid staffs in their prime real estate downtown offices to figure out where we can put in more green area in place of pavement.

Beware when politicians of any and all stripes tell you that we need to 'do something' or that 'we can do more'.  Maybe we should consider doing less.
5510  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Obama Should Heed His Own Advice on: May 05, 2010, 12:20:07 PM
Peter Wehner - 05.04.2010 - Commentary Magazine

This weekend President Obama delivered the University of Michigan commencement address and returned to a favorite theme of his: the need for civility and respect in public discourse. In the president’s words:

    The… way to keep our democracy healthy is to maintain a basic level of civility in our public debate…. we cannot expect to solve our problems if all we do is tear each other down. You can disagree with a certain policy without demonizing the person who espouses it. You can question someone’s views and their judgment without questioning their motives or their patriotism. Throwing around phrases like “socialist” and “Soviet-style takeover;” “fascist” and “right-wing nut” may grab headlines, but it also has the effect of comparing our government, or our political opponents, to authoritarian, and even murderous regimes.

    … The problem is that this kind of vilification and over-the-top rhetoric closes the door to the possibility of compromise. It undermines democratic deliberation. It prevents learning — since after all, why should we listen to a “fascist” or “socialist” or “right-wing nut?” It makes it nearly impossible for people who have legitimate but bridgeable differences to sit down at the same table and hash things out. It robs us of a rational and serious debate that we need to have about the very real and very big challenges facing this nation. It coarsens our culture, and at its worst, it can send signals to the most extreme elements of our society that perhaps violence is a justifiable response.

    So what can we do about this?

    As I’ve found out after a year in the White House, changing this type of slash and burn politics isn’t easy. And part of what civility requires is that we recall the simple lesson most of us learned from our parents: treat others as you would like to be treated, with courtesy and respect.

These are wise words that should be taken seriously. Especially by the president himself.

I say that because President Obama’s party and his chief defenders — including the DNC, Speaker Pelosi, and Majority Reid — have routinely engaged in the kind of vilification the president condemns. Think of the assault on the Tea Party Movement and those who attended town-hall meetings last summer; they were accused of being racists and bigots, “an angry mob,” practitioners of “un-American tactics,” “astroturfers” and Nazi-like, and potential Timothy McVeighs. Harry Reid referred to people who showed up at town-hall meetings as “evil-mongers.” Representative Alay Grayson, in characterizing the GOP health-care plans, said that “the Republicans want you to die quickly if you get sick…. This is what the Republicans want you to do.”

On and on it goes, issue after issue, slander after slander. Yet President Obama has done nothing to call off the attack dogs in his own party, despite his enormous influence with them.

In fact, Obama himself has engaged in ad hominem attacks to a degree that is unusual for a president. He constantly impugns the motives of those who have policy disagreements with him. His critics are greedy, venal, irresponsible, demagogic, cynical, bought and paid for, spreaders of misinformation, distorters of truth. “More than any President in memory,” the Wall Street Journal recently editorialized, “Mr. Obama has a tendency to vilify his opponents in personal terms and assail their arguments as dishonest, illegitimate or motivated by bad faith.”

So President Obama lacerates his critics for engaging in the very activity he denounces. And he does so in the haughtiest way imaginable, always attempting to portray himself as hovering above us mere mortals, exasperated at the childish and petty quality of the political debate, weary of the name-calling. How hard it must be to be the embodiment of Socratic discourse, Solomonic wisdom, and Niebuhrian nuance in this fallen and broken world.

Here is the rather unpleasant reality, though: our president fancies himself a public intellectual of the highest order — think Walter Lippmann as chief executive — even as he and his team are accomplished practitioners of the Chicago Way. They relish targeting those on their enemies list. The president himself pretends to engage his critics’ arguments even as his words are used like a flamethrower in a field of straw men. It’s hard to tell if we’re watching a man engaged in an elaborate political shell game or a victim of an extraordinary, and nearly clinical, case of self-delusion. Perhaps there is some of both at play. Regardless, President Obama’s act became tiresome long ago.

I am reminded of the line from Emerson: “The louder he talked of his honor, the faster we counted our spoons.”
5511  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Gov. Haley Barbour on the BP Oil Spill on: May 05, 2010, 12:16:49 PM

BLITZER: How worried should the folks in Mississippi be right now about the beautiful coastline along the Gulf of Mexico?

BARBOUR: Well, we need to be prepared. My view of this is when you pray for the best, prepare for the worst. But a lot of people are assuming that this is going to be catastrophic, and that is not a safe assumption.

Right now, there's no oil within 50 miles of the Mississippi. Eighty percent of the oil slick, as it's called and appropriately -- 80 percent is literally just sheen or film right on top of -- on top of the water. That is not toxic. It's not particularly damaging.

I mean, we don't want it to come ashore in Mississippi, but it's manageable. It's a manageable problem. Our people on the coast are getting ready.

And I do think a lot of people in the country are being led to believe that this is already some gigantic catastrophe. Well, that's not the case and we're going it try to keep it from ever being the case.

BLITZER: I think what some of those who are really worried hear most, if it isn't contained within the next, you know, few weeks, if it goes on two or three months, it will be a much worse problem for the Gulf of Mexico, for the folks in Louisiana and Mississippi, Alabama and Florida, than the Exxon Valdez spill was in Alaska.

BARBOUR: Well, people say that. And that is certainly a possibility. If the well were to break back open and be flowing and at maximum potential, if it did that for 90 days -- yes, then it could be a terrible catastrophe. That hasn't happened yet, may not happen.

You mentioned the containment dome. There's been great work done in the last 72 hours putting dispersant into the oil right above the wellhead, and it looks like that is breaking up the oil and greatly reducing what comes to the surface.

Look, we're not happy with what's going on by a long shot. But we haven't come to the conclusion that this is a have-to-be catastrophe because it doesn't have to be.

BLITZER: I was just reading a story. The governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger, says it's time now to stop drilling or at least stop expanding oil drilling off the California coast until they get to the bottom of what happened in the Gulf of Mexico. Would that be wise right now to stop offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico?

BARBOUR: Well, it certainly wouldn't be wise to stop the Gulf of Mexico. We've drilled thousands and thousands and thousands of oil wells in the Gulf of Mexico. And this -- this collapse and this spill is very, very, very fierce, but it is also one out of thousands of wells that have been drilled. We produce about 30 percent of the nation's oil in the Gulf of Mexico. We produce -- we used to produce about 25 percent of the natural gas. That percentage is declining, but oil drilling in our gulf has been safe 40 years, even through Katrina. Now we've had a terrible accident and incident. We need to get to the bottom of it, but we don't need to shut it down.
5512  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Factchecking ObamaCare on: May 05, 2010, 12:08:13 PM
Source: Indy Star

NEW ORLEANS -- Just five weeks since the president of the United States signed Obamacare into law, it already resembles an overweight airplane lumbering down the tarmac, poised to crash and burn soon after takeoff. Obamacare's excess cargo of broken promises threatens such a catastrophe.

"The plan I'm announcing tonight," President Barack Obama promised a joint session of Congress last Sept. 9, "will slow the growth of health-care costs for our families, our businesses, and our government."

Not so fast, warns Medicare's Office of the Actuary. In a devastating, independent, 38-page analysis released on April 22, Chief Actuary Richard Foster forecast, "The growth rate reductions from productivity adjustments are unlikely to be sustainable on a permanent annual basis . . . We show a negligible financial impact over the next 10 years for the other provisions intended to help control future health-care cost growth."

"This is an objective report by administration actuaries that shows this sweeping legislation has serious, serious problems," says health-policy analyst Grace-Marie Turner of the Galen Institute. Foster's study delineates the canyon between Obama's warm words and the chilly disappointment that awaits those who expect Obamacare to do good.

"We will have a health-care plan that actually works for you, reduces spending and costs over the long term," Obama promised at the Oct. 7, 2008 presidential debate, among other appearances.

In fact, Foster calculates, the plan will boost U.S. health spending by $311 billion through 2019, while federal medical outlays will grow "by a net total of $251 billion."

"If you like your health-care plan, you will be able to keep your health-care plan. Period. No one will take it away. No matter what," Obama promised the American Medical Association last June 15, and on numerous other occasions.

This guarantee will turn to dust, Foster predicts. "Some smaller employers would be inclined to terminate their existing coverage," he explains. Elsewhere, "the penalties would not be a substantial deterrent to dropping or foregoing coverage." Thanks to these and similar factors, "We estimate that such actions would collectively reduce the number of people with employer-sponsored health coverage by about 14 million," Foster writes.

NEW ORLEANS -- Just five weeks since the president of the United States signed Obamacare into law, it already resembles an overweight airplane lumbering down the tarmac, poised to crash and burn soon after takeoff. Obamacare's excess cargo of broken promises threatens such a catastrophe.

"The plan I'm announcing tonight," President Barack Obama promised a joint session of Congress last Sept. 9, "will slow the growth of health-care costs for our families, our businesses, and our government."

Not so fast, warns Medicare's Office of the Actuary. In a devastating, independent, 38-page analysis released on April 22, Chief Actuary Richard Foster forecast, "The growth rate reductions from productivity adjustments are unlikely to be sustainable on a permanent annual basis . . . We show a negligible financial impact over the next 10 years for the other provisions intended to help control future health-care cost growth."

"This is an objective report by administration actuaries that shows this sweeping legislation has serious, serious problems," says health-policy analyst Grace-Marie Turner of the Galen Institute. Foster's study delineates the canyon between Obama's warm words and the chilly disappointment that awaits those who expect Obamacare to do good.

"We will have a health-care plan that actually works for you, reduces spending and costs over the long term," Obama promised at the Oct. 7, 2008 presidential debate, among other appearances.

In fact, Foster calculates, the plan will boost U.S. health spending by $311 billion through 2019, while federal medical outlays will grow "by a net total of $251 billion."

"If you like your health-care plan, you will be able to keep your health-care plan. Period. No one will take it away. No matter what," Obama promised the American Medical Association last June 15, and on numerous other occasions.

This guarantee will turn to dust, Foster predicts. "Some smaller employers would be inclined to terminate their existing coverage," he explains. Elsewhere, "the penalties would not be a substantial deterrent to dropping or foregoing coverage." Thanks to these and similar factors, "We estimate that such actions would collectively reduce the number of people with employer-sponsored health coverage by about 14 million," Foster writes.
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"I can make a firm pledge," Obama told Dover, New Hampshire voters on Sept. 12, 2008. "Under my plan, no family making less than $250,000 a year will see any form of tax increase. Not your income tax, not your payroll tax, not your capital gains taxes, not any of your taxes."

Obamacare's first 10 years of operations would cost $2.5 trillion. This massive new expenditure, plus Washington's other spendaholic commitments, explains Obama's eagerness to jettison his oft-repeated commitment not to raise taxes on Americans who earn less than $250,000 annually.

To finance Obamacare and their other pricey projects, many Washington Democrats crave a national sales tax. Obamacare already features $569 billion in new taxes on -- among other things -- prescription drugs, medical devices, health insurance plans, and even tanning salons. These levies will trickle down to couples with annual incomes below $250,000, and individuals under $200,000. Rather than keep his promise, Obama triumphantly signed these health-related tax hikes.

Regarding a national sales levy -- atop the income tax and countless tributes that tread on Americans as if with cleated boots -- Obama refuses to reject it. In fact, Americans for Tax Reform noted Obama's remarks as he introduced his deficit commission on Tuesday: "It's important that we not restrict the review or the recommendations that this commission comes up with in any way. Everything has to be on the table."

Unveiled in 2008, "Barack Obama's Plan for a Healthy America" was designed for "Making health insurance universal."

After all this hassle and expense, Richard Foster concludes, "an estimated 23 million people{$326} would remain uninsured in 2019."

Before Obamacare gets airborne, only to plow swiftly into a nearby cornfield, this Congress -- or a clean one elected next November -- urgently must cancel this flight, disembark its enraged passengers and replace this rusty bucket with a viable aircraft.
5513  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Energy Politics: government bungling - not a single fire boom on hand on: May 04, 2010, 10:53:11 AM
EPA has a discretionary budget of over $10 Billion, Dept of Interior -even more.  Off-shore drilling was on the agenda, announced months ago.  A fire boom could have contained 95% of this spill, costs a few hundred thousand.  Not a one anywhere near the gulf.  Feds didn't even know if they owned one; found one in storage.  [Soon this storyline will be your healthcare.]

Despite plan, not a single fire boom on hand on Gulf Coast at time of oil spill
By Ben Raines  May 03, 2010  Source: Alabama Press-Register

(See photo at link) An image provided by Carmi, Ill.-based Elastec/American Marine shows an oil burn being conducted in one of its patented Hydro-Fire Boom systems. The inflatable, fire-resistant, water-cooled boom was developed to contain surface oil and burn it offshore, helping prevent destruction of critical environmentally sensitive shoreline habitats, company officials said.

If U.S. officials had followed up on a 1994 response plan for a major Gulf oil spill, it is possible that the spill could have been kept under control and far from land.

The problem: The federal government did not have a single fire boom on hand.

April 28, 2010 image made from video released by the Deepwater Horizon Response Unified Command, shows an in situ burn in the Gulf of Mexico, in response to the oil spill after the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon. The "In-Situ Burn" plan produced by federal agencies in 1994 calls for responding to a major oil spill in the Gulf with the immediate use of fire booms.

But in order to conduct a successful test burn eight days after the Deepwater Horizon well began releasing massive amounts of oil into the Gulf, officials had to purchase one from a company in Illinois.

When federal officials called, Elastec/American Marine, shipped the only boom it had in stock, Jeff Bohleber, chief financial officer for Elastec, said today.

At federal officials' behest, the company began calling customers in other countries and asking if the U.S. government could borrow their fire booms for a few days, he said.

A single fire boom being towed by two boats can burn up to 1,800 barrels of oil an hour, Bohleber said. That translates to 75,000 gallons an hour, raising the possibility that the spill could have been contained at the accident scene 100 miles from shore.

"They said this was the tool of last resort. No, this is absolutely the asset of first use. Get in there and start burning oil before the spill gets out of hand," Bohleber said. "If they had six or seven of these systems in place when this happened and got out there and started burning, it would have significantly lessened the amount of oil that got loose."

In the days after the rig sank, U.S Coast Guard Rear Admiral Mary Landry said the government had all the assets it needed. She did not discuss why officials waited more than a week to conduct a test burn. (Watch video footage of the test burn.)

At the time, former National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration oil spill response coordinator Ron Gouguet -- who helped craft the 1994 plan -- told the Press-Register that officials had pre-approval for burning. "The whole reason the plan was created was so we could pull the trigger right away."

Gouguet speculated that burning could have captured 95 percent of the oil as it spilled from the well.

Bohleber said that his company was bringing several fire booms from South America, and he believed the National Response Center discovered that it had one in storage.

Each boom costs a few hundred thousand dollars, Bohleber said, declining to give a specific price.

Made of flame-retardant fabric, each boom has two pumps that push water through its 500-foot length. Two boats tow the U-shaped boom through an oil slick, gathering up about 75,000 gallons of oil at a time. That oil is dragged away from the larger spill, ignited and burns within an hour, he said.

The boom can be used as long as waves are below 3 feet, Bohleber said.

"Because of the complexity of the system and the obvious longer production time to build them, the emphasis is on obtaining and gathering the systems," he said.

Bohleber said his company has conducted numerous tests with the Coast Guard since 1993, and it is now training crews on the use of the boom so workers will be ready when they arrive.

"We're arranging for six to be shipped in. We keep running into delays. Hopefully, they will be here by Wednesday to be available for use on Thursday. Bear in mind, two days ago, we thought they would be here today."
5514  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re. Healthcare Recision on: May 03, 2010, 11:33:26 PM
The good parts of healthcare could have been done with bipartisanmaybe unanimous majority. It makes a lie (IMO)of the promise to unite, not divide.  I can't imagine a Republican opposing this.  I can't imagine an informed consumer paying for a policy while healthy that does not continue to cover you later when you are not.

The leftists in charge would not give us basic, obvious protections that people wanted without mixing them with the unpopular provisions of socialism, mandates, and new taxes in order to get the end result that they wanted.
5515  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government Programs on: May 03, 2010, 02:41:20 PM
Could put this under Energy or What the ..., but this story is about a federal program to award private companies.  Scratch my back and I'll scratch yours...

Source: CNN

In ironic twist, BP finalist for pollution prevention award

BP, now under federal scrutiny because of its role in the deadly Gulf of Mexico explosion and oil spill, is one of three finalists for a federal award honoring offshore oil companies for "outstanding safety and pollution prevention."
By the way the story reads, I suspect BP was in fact the winner to be announced.
5516  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Energy Politics & Science on: May 03, 2010, 02:19:40 PM
"Most of us here are of the "Drill, baby, drill!" school of thought.  What do we have to say about events in the Gulf of Mexico?"

Random thoughts:

When Obama falsely stated he wanted to expand off-shore drilling, everything to do with preventing, curing and containing spills should have been put on fast forward if we are serious about drilling offshore.  We are paying for an 'Environmental Protection Agency' already.  Instead they are working on exhale restriction justifications.

Obama's reaction was to send a team of lawyers to the gulf.  I think he underestimated the seriousness and will regret not making a larger emergency response.  They seem more interested in pinning blame than stopping further damage.

We all drive, Obama flies large jets.  Obama and Biden fly separate jets.  I think Pelosi has a formation of passenger jets with liquor supply jets for commuting.  Everything has costs and risks.  We need to contain those risks and costs, but we can't end supply without ending usage and we aren't ending usage.

ANWAR is not off-shore. Has less risk or different risks but yet we passed on it based on phony wildlife risks.  Middle East involves tanker ships with risk and much of the money goes toward harming our interests.  All sources have their own risk.

As others mentioned, hard to know what to learn from this before we know the cause or the cure.  Looks like the fix will be to drill a new well.  Maybe we should have been geared up to do that in days instead of months.  Why aren't we 12 days into that project right now and near completion (if this is a crisis)?

Nature has oil spills.  A decade for nature to cleanse itself may be an eternity to us, to those who enjoy the beaches etc. but a blip in time for the planet.

We don't stop flying after a plane crash.  We don't stop driving for each fatal crash.  We kill 37,000 per year and keep right on driving.  This catastrophe will need to be repaired and studied.  Presumably oil rigs will be even safer and repairs swifter in the future because of this.

Nuclear has the cleanest, safest track record for energy production yet we can't agree on it here whether to move forward with more.  If commuting energy can move someday to plug in vehicles, we will need more energy on the grid to replace the amount of oil we quit using.
5517  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: May 03, 2010, 01:41:24 PM
"The other half of the equation is not allowing people in the US to knowingly hire illegals..."

Agree in the case of 'knowingly'.  My sister who consults in Human Resources complains of legislation putting more burdens on employers.  Immigration law is the responsibility of the US Govt.  The employer's burden should be limited to disclosing who they hire and who they intend to hire and to provide whatever information to the Feds that they require.  Then the burden goes back to the govt for enforcement.

I'm not in the business of hiring but as a landlord I wonder the same question.  Should I checking and stopping illegals from renting?  It hasn't been an issue for me yet.  I know some towns have tried to crack down on landlords for that.  Like the challenge the police will face under the Arizona law, I have to be very very careful to give people from any/all demographic groups equal and fair treatment.  If I demand proof of something from someone Hispanic or from elsewhere, then I need to demand it of everyone.
5518  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re. analysis of Mortgage regulatory issues on: May 02, 2010, 03:07:35 PM
"because of flawed risk models that ignored the individual components of the mortgage security and focused upon quantitative analyses of probable default rates.  These models underestimated the probability and the size of the eventual default rates."

I agree with what he writes and that is only part of the story.  He is not denying fraud, just saying that plenty more went wrong.  But the whole program of trying to force money into neighborhoods without sound lending fundamentals was a fraud in itself, an invitation for worse fraud in the field, and the whole ratings debacle was a fraud.  Those of in the neighborhoods watched it happen and those who watched the Fannie Mae-Freddie Mac Oversight Hearings watched it happen.  Billions or trillions in fraud, under our nose, without consequence.

Home lending is a 3-legged stool that collapses when you remove any one of the legs: a) creditworthiness of the borrower, b) income of the borrower and c) the ratio of real equity to real value in the asset. If a solid income earner with a history of paying his/her bills saves up and pays 10-20% for a down payment and borrows less than a third of his/her income for housing expense, then that loan has normal chance of default which I think is between 1 and 2% and the loss to the mortgage company is negligible.

How can it be that we chopped out the legs of the stool on lending fundamentals and then predict that default rates will remain low and constant?  That is beyond incompetence.  There should be consequence.

How could we not know in a highly leveraged, speculated and overpriced market that there would be a correction and that the higher the market went the harder it would fall?  How could we think that choosing an anti-growth agenda in November 2006 to take unemployment from 4.9 to 10.3% would not put millions of people without savings out of their house payment?  How could we not know that stricter use of 'mark to market' rules even for loans that are not in default would exaggerate the collapse in values of the portfolios?

For all we have learned, what are we doing now?  Increasing the federal role in mortgage lending from 90% to 100% and continuing to flood FREE MONEY into false housing values with the extended homebuyer credit of thousands of dollars to anyone, paying people to move instead of staying put.  Looks like a continuing recipe for self-destruction to me.

I know areas of Minneapolis where the whole block got the funny loans and the whole block went to foreclosure while none of those lenders, borrowers, originators, realtors or appraisers have been prosecuted for organized fraud crimes. This foreclosure map of one side of one relatively prosperous city, Minneapolis, is a must see IMO!

How could a financial rating service or a government oversight agency not  see this coming and still draw a salary?  
5519  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: May 01, 2010, 12:02:13 AM
I viewed her statement posted on her website:

A falsehood in the first sentence - people will be detained just for the color of their skin when in fact they won't.  Then she goes on to defend illegals to get full citizenship and zero enforcement because people are people.  Then equates it to the holocaust, "it started just like this".  Very articulate and well-spoken except all of it is BS.  Trespassers don't have a right to full ownership.  Maybe they do under the Obama doctrine where what is yours is mine.
5520  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Immigration - for jobs or for welfare, Milton Friedman on: April 30, 2010, 02:11:45 PM
When Nobel Prize-winning libertarian economist Milton Friedman was asked about unlimited immigration in 1999, he stated that "it is one thing to have free immigration to jobs. It is another thing to have free immigration to welfare. And you cannot have both."
5521  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Setting fire to the gulf? on: April 30, 2010, 12:21:37 PM
No fear of intensifying hurricanes by warming the gulf?,0,1038312.story

New Orleans —
Crews may set fires to burn off oil being spewed by a blown-out well that is dumping 42,000 gallons of crude oil a day into the Gulf of Mexico off the Louisiana coast, the Coast Guard said Tuesday.
5522  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / While the oil spilled, a new documentary by Michael Moore on: April 30, 2010, 12:16:10 PM
Joking. A documentary you will never see.

This is starting to look a lot like Katrina, but without a hostile media scrutinizing the slow reaction of the administration.

Journalist Michael Moore has come across footage of Obama and Biden taking separate jets to NY to bitch out other people for not doing their job... while the oil spilled.

Obama dispatched a climate change administrator to the region - 8 days later... while the oil spilled.

Obama wants an investigation and a report on his desk within 30 days... while the oil spilled.
5523  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Humor/WTF on: April 30, 2010, 12:03:26 AM
I saw the Taliban outsmarted by the Jewish merchant joke passed around a week or two before it was made infamous by Obama administration National Security Adviser James Jones.  I thought about posting it here and decided not to as I realized it wasn't that funny.  An armed Taliban fighter would not ask an infidel for water, he would kill and take, and that's not funny.  It didn't occur to me that it was offensive for the Jewish merchant stereotype.  I'm curious if people found it offensive?
5524  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: April 29, 2010, 12:09:47 AM
"legal and illegal issue are IMHO co-mingled all the time.  This isn't just me doing it."

  - Agreed.  Prof. Hanson co-mingled those issues in the link I offered and that GM posted.  It is true that it offers some cover for those of us who are relatively pro-immigration.  It allows you to tell these people there is a process they need to follow.

"We are all so trained to be terrified of the "bigot label" we can't even discuss the reality of the scope of the problem at hand."

  - We get to discuss it honestly here, but politicians are terrified of having a label like that stick.  I just can't think of other areas of law where we don't enforce a crucial law for fear of offending a major constituency.  For example, IRS enforcement is unpopular and unfair to the group of Americans who actually pay in, yet we do it.  We authorize, staff and fund the IRS to go after this group every year - with brutal techniques for enforcement.  And you don't have to be suspected of a different crime to get questioned or accused.  If you are alive and productive, you are a suspect and required to present paperwork.
5525  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: April 28, 2010, 12:08:53 PM
CCP,  I respect your opinion on legal immigration and we all come at this from different parts of the country with different problems.  For us it is those pesky Canadians infiltrating our hockey leagues.  smiley

 I just don't like to see legitimate issues of legal immigration co-mingled with the problem of illegals coming in, like comparing the merits for or against throwing a party at your house versus having a break-in. 

There is no good reason to keep turning a blind eye to illegal entry.
VDH wrote about the issue yesterday.  One point he make is that there is not going to be a mass deportation.  So pretty much everyone in will be staying whether they get some kind of deal or stay under the law.  That reality increases the urgency of border security and enforcement.
5526  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: April 27, 2010, 11:52:10 AM
"I didn't literally mean everyone such as Doug or Crafty."

I understood and didn't take anything personal from that.  The issue of legal immigration levels is important and we differ on it which is fine, but the issue of urgency is about the illegals and I would rather keep the focus there.

The doctor example is tricky because the shortage I think is artificial; we keep plenty of good and smart Americans out of the profession with the artificially low number of people we admit to our medical schools (IMO).  Our local University with an overall enrollment of over 50,000 takes an incoming class to the Med. School of about 200 students.  If that is all the young people that can grasp the subject material then so be it, but then we end up being seen by less trained people like physician assistants and nurse practitioners.  Barriers to entry in medicine were designed to maintain the highest quality but also drive up costs based on artificial scarcity.  Medical schools have no market incentive or oversight that I know of to catch up to the reality that we have 300 million patients needing attention.  That should be fixed here primarily, not just fill the need from elsewhere.

In other areas such as software engineering, wireless, optical communications, energy innovation etc. I think all the talented people of the world have the opportunity to be employed or else go the entrepreneurial route that is virtually unlimited. 

"Do we require one has an advanced degree?" - No, but that would be one indicator of not coming for the free perks. Bringing intellectual properties into the country is a good thing for us and bringing people likely to ride on our overloaded system is a bad thing.  "How about they are coming here to get an advanced degree? - I think we allow that very openly if it is legit, but that alone does not bring citizenship.  "How do we define the criteria besides just saying not criminals?"  - I guess I would require each application to be looked at individually and closely.  Key is that WE get to decide who comes in and it should be from a wider cross section of the globe if we want or expect assimilation.
5527  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Way Forward: Guiding Principles and Values on: April 24, 2010, 07:48:50 PM
The R party in our state has a platform so long and detailed that no ordinary delegate has read it and no candidate has ever agreed to it.  There has been an interest in coming up with something more succinct and marketable to describe what we strive for.  A year or so back I wrote my top ten list which was ignored by the party; I don't know if I posted it here.  Here is someone else's list that will be voted on by the state party next week.

I would ask every like-minded board reader here to comment on these or write their own answer to this question.  Let's say a 16 or 18 year old or new immigrant walks up to you and asks you to explain briefly what are the central, guiding principles of your political group or movement that you would ask candidates to follow in order to gain your endorsement or wear your label.

It would be especially interesting to see a serious equivalent posted also by any Dem-liberal-progressives.  Rog, Rachel, anyone willing?
Guiding Principles and Values

Individuals, businesses and the country succeed and prosper when government stays out of the way of those who lead the way with integrity, responsibility, charity, hard work, humility, courage, gratitude and hope.

Government has a role in our society – but that role is carefully enumerated in the United States Constitution. Our party believes that a good government does not eclipse roles that are best carried out by individuals, families, houses of faith, charitable organizations or businesses.

1) America is a great nation; we are the “Shining City,” an exemplar of virtues for all other nations and their people. The greatness of the American nation, the virtues of its people, and the success of the American experiment are a beacon of hope for the entire world.

2) Liberty is essential for our society to advance and prosper. The freedom to explore advances in culture, business, faith, science and government improves all of our lives; on the other hand, excessive government regulation and control hinders that development. The ability and freedom to disagree with each other and our government must also be protected; any hindrances to the free market of ideas will sap the ability of America to advance and to better herself.

3) We believe in the ability of the individual, by themselves or through families, businesses, groups and non-profit organizations, rather than the government to solve the problems of today and lead us into the future.

4) Faith is where we derive our moral compass and come to understand the eternal rules of order and rights which God himself has ordained. We believe each person needs to be free in order to explore his/her Faith.

5) Human Life is sacred; it must be protected at all stages.

6) The Family is among our society’s most important institutions. Government must not be allowed to infringe on the sanctity of the family.

7) The Pursuit of Happiness is essential to our existence; we support equal opportunities not equal results.

8 ) Charity comes best from the heart of individuals and cannot be forced or coerced via taxation and regulation.

9) The law must be applied to everyone equally; no one is above the law.

10) Law abiding citizens must be trusted to defend their life, family and property.
5528  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: April 24, 2010, 07:27:28 PM
"I notice a lot of conservatives...extolling how they are for raising the "legal" immigration levels as an excuse to say they are against illegal immigration."

CCP, Must admit I am for legal immigration and I don't think it is an excuse.  I find the questions of legal immigration, guest workers and legal visitors a completely different issue from dealing with illegals.

We should be able to allow or debate the merits of allowing people to come for good reasons as in the past, to fill needs, to assimilate, to enjoy opportunities and liberties not available elsewhere and we should be VERY selective about who we take now and call Americans. 

A timeout on new immigration from time to time might make sense while we catch our breath and find out who is here now, where and why.  But then I would like to see limited legal immigration continue.  Demographically I think we will be a dying society without some sources of newcomers.

In order to assimilate, new citizens should not all be from the same region or ethnicity to avoid getting permanent, non-assimilating enclaves like the Muslims are doing in Europe.  In order to fill a need, we must look at education, skills, age, work ethic and reason for coming. 
Dealing with the illegals already here is quite a dilemma.  a) Amnesty is a mockery of our laws and unfair to people who immigrated legally with great patience and expense.  b) Roundup and deportation of all illegals is not going to happen.  c) Round up of cross sections is not exactly equal protection or equal treatment. 

I would like to see a comprehensive program starting with securing our borders first.  Then offer some equivalent to a negotiated plea agreement to all illegals who choose to come forward within a reasonable time that would involve going home within some notice period to reapply, or to negotiate work papers to stay but preclude citizenship.

Our cowardice really showed itself during the census.  Here we have federal workers constitutionally checking each residence to see who lives there for representation purposes.  Especially after 9/11 where we had the hijackers living illegally among us and federal departments not communicating, why not have the census workers ask who is a citizen and discover at least partly who else is here.  No illegal searches but certainly an obligation to report what is in plain view and suspicions of the undocumented that they encounter.
5529  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Libertarian Issues on: April 24, 2010, 06:24:53 PM
"When towns turn into cities there seems to be a transition... "

Not just anonymity from size but also from physics we know collisions increase with the square of density.  As the density increases, 'bumping into each other' increases exponentially.

The 'smart growth' advocates want us to live closer together while libertarians often prefer a yard, a driveway and a front door that is not shared with the neighbor.
5530  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Personal Finance on: April 22, 2010, 11:27:55 AM
Mine is slightly different but I like that rule of thumb Rachel posted as an indicator of when homes are over-priced.  I don't know when we all accepted the idea that it okay to do something (pay too much) just because everyone else is doing it.

A flaw in the analysis (IMO)is the idea that it is the same house you would rent or buy in the same area.  My advice to some who can't afford it all in this time of low prices is to rent a small apartment while you buy the lot you would build on or buy a home in a lower priced area for rental and at least see some of the appreciation and accumulation of equity there that the homeowner would tend to see.

One remaining loophole in tax law is that you can still buy, live and fix up a house for 2 years and pay no gains tax on certain amounts of profit that you could then roll into the house you truly wanted.  If you rent your dream home now, you might find yourself in a tougher situation to buy it later.
5531  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Libertarian Issues on: April 22, 2010, 10:52:44 AM
The argument here makes me think of the times I have been wronged by police, once by their action and others by their inaction over a couple of decades.  In the case of the action they took, they had to deal as I did with a false accusation and the truth sorted itself out over time.  In the cases of inaction, there were limited clues to solve those crimes so indicating there is little they can do about it was probably just the unfortunate truth that I didn't want to hear at the time.

Everybody comes at this with different experiences, but I must come down on the side of GM.  The system we have works pretty well.  Where I live I can't imagine locking my home or car and our town budgets for roughly half a cop.  In the inner city, a house unattended will find its plumbing pipes stolen.  We need some presence and availability of law enforcement, but some possibility of crime is better than living under total surveillance and police control.

Municipal budget challenges are one limiting factor on police forces and the rules they operate under are another.

Many of the complaints against police are really complaints against the laws, as Rarick suggests.  You may want only deadly crimes dealt in a peaceful  area but the Giuliani experience for big cities suggests that when they started writing tickets for littering, loitering and spitting, the murder rate went down.

My main gripes against the strong arm of government are against the other departments like inspectors, regulators, taxing authorities, eminent domain and IRS for examples.  Again, the laws we pass set us up for these types of abuse.  I have twice this year paid civil fines far greater than punishment for a misdemeanor for the crime of converting vacant property into code compliant affordable housing in the city of Minneapolis.  They call it an administrative fee not a fine, but if I don't pay the 'fee' it becomes a much larger fine and ultimately a taking.
5532  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The way Forward? on: April 21, 2010, 05:52:00 PM
Thanks Freki.  I remember you are from Texas and was looking for your feedback on Perry.  As with Mark Sanford, I was hoping to hear they are great guys but will settle for hearing the truth before we head any further down the wrong road.

Anybody from further away have a first impression yet about our governor - Tim Pawlenty (R-MN)?  He is trying to run but not making much of an impact that I can see.
5533  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Warming or Cooling? on: April 21, 2010, 10:24:43 AM
Linear regression trends in temperatures (deg C per century):

US, 1880-2009:  +0.64 deg/century

US, 1997-2009:  -2.50 deg/century

Globe, 1880-2009:  +0.57 deg/century

Globe, 2002-2009:  -0.40 deg/century

Data Source:  NASA/GISS.
5534  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: April 21, 2010, 10:02:44 AM
A new report from Americans for Limited Government (ALG) clearly shows that the Democrats have destroyed our economy since they took control of our lives in January of 2007.

The most eye catching of ALG’s data items is the sad comparison of the rate of 4.6% unemployment at the start of 2007 and today’s alarming 9.7%. In real terms this means while there were about 7 million unemployed workers when the Democrats took over, today that number has more than doubled to 14.8 million out of work Americans.
5535  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Toppled Kyrgyz leader insists he is still president on: April 21, 2010, 09:56:30 AM
 I would not want to be this guy's food tester...
AFP - Kyrgyzstan's ousted president Kurmanbek Bakiyev insisted Wednesday that he was still the rightful leader of his country, breaking several days of silence after his flight into exile.
"I, Kurmanbek Bakiyev, am the legally elected president of Kyrgyzstan and recognised by the international community," he said, speaking to reporters in Belarus where he took refuge earlier this week
"I do not recognise my resignation. Nine months ago the people of Kyrgyzstan elected me their president and there is no power that can stop me. Only death can stop me," Bakiyev said in the Belarussian capital Minsk.
Bakiyev was toppled by a popular uprising in Kyrgyzstan two weeks ago that brought a new interim government to power in the former Soviet republic.
After holding out in his stronghold in southern Kyrgyzstan for about a week, Bakiyev flew to neighbouring Kazakhstan, and the interim government announced that he had submitted his resignation.
On Monday he and several family members left Kazakhstan and arrived in Belarus at the invitation of strongman Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko.
Speaking in the Minsk-based headquarters of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), a grouping of former Soviet republics, Bakiyev lashed out at the interim government which replaced him.
"Everyone must know the the bandits who try to take power are the executors of a external force and have no legitimacy," he said with steely determination.
"I call on leaders of the international community: do not set a precedent and do not recognise this gang as the legitimate authorities," he said.
"Kyrgyzstan will be nobody's colony. My people want to be free and will become free," Bakiyev added.
5536  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Rick Perry on: April 21, 2010, 09:33:36 AM
Before we narrow the list of names, we need to expand it.  Among people not running for President I added Paul Ryan recently and today mention the largest red state's longest serving governor.  Roger Simon CEO of Pajamas Media wrote:

    "Perry is a people person on a level I have not quite seen before in politics. You even worry about him, if he ever does make a White House run.

    When Rudy Giuliani was Mayor of New York, he had some of that people person thing, throwing out the ball at Yankee games and taking the role of America's Mayor after 9/11. But he doesn't have as much charisma as Perry."
5537  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government Programs, spending, budget process on: April 20, 2010, 12:55:41 PM
"prevented non-union shops from bidding"

Didn't know hope and change included steering lucrative projects to your friends for payback.  When you exclude qualified bidders on public projects, you are stealing from the taxpayers besides steering jobs to the already powerful.

Another form of elitism as unions are the high end of labor.  He risks offending the other 85-90% if they are paying attention.  Some 40% of the union vote is Republican.  Most union members are white males, a group slipping away from Democrats.  And public employees lean hard to the Dem side whether unionized or not.
5538  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Glen Beck on: April 20, 2010, 12:44:44 PM
Crafty wrote: "Like the Founding Fathers, like me, [Glen Beck] believes in a Creator."

CCP:When they speak of reaching to Christ for strength and direction, you need to translate to you own faith for meaning.  I can't remember having a President who just won't go to church except for political reasons and his lack of belief or faith finds its way into policy, like the transfer of power from the people to the bureaucrats.  Liberalism and atheism have a connection that must make liberal Jewish voters cringe.  Wearing Christianity too openly turns them off worse.

I agree in general with CCP that this is no time politically to wear a specific religion on our sleeves.  Fiscal survival - tax and spend issues, basically agreeing to a constitutionally limited definition and role for government should take center stage and difficult and divisive social issues beyond that can wait.

But commentators don't need 51% to succeed.  There is an authenticity to Beck telling his audience who he is, where that focus may need to be different if he were a candidate.
5539  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Glen Beck on: April 19, 2010, 03:44:35 PM
CCP, See what crafty says but it sounds like you are referring to radio and I think Crafty is watching his television show.  I don't see cable shows so I only know him through radio.  There can be a big difference in how they come across on the different media.  Also Crafty may be viewing with commercials cut out (?) which I imagine makes quite an improvement in the quality of the time for the viewer.
5540  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: April 17, 2010, 11:38:27 AM
"the answer to your question, "But I wonder how many of those among the 46 percent would consider voting for an actual Republican", is very few."

CCP, thanks.  I agree and I did read the previous.  The question comes from the powerline post quoted. My point is that any noticable gain with any of these groups is a big deal.  If republicans can win 25%  of Jewish vote it chips away at those historic differences. Same for winning >10% of black vote or >40% of Hispanic vote.  These could be decisive in a divided nation and shift the momentum for the future.

I find it strange that I am more pro-Israel than Jewish voters, more pro-life than Catholic voters and more protective of the right to keep wealth than the wealthy, more pro-family and pro-marriage as a single father than most intact Hispanic families, stronger on school choice than the majority of those who live in failed districts etc, but those who appear to me to be voting against their own interests offer the greatest opportunity for political change IMO even if it is small and slow.
5541  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Group politics - Jewish vote on: April 16, 2010, 09:43:01 AM
Much as I hate group politics and generalities, group identity plays some role in voting patterns.  Below is a short piece by Paul Mirengoff at Powerline, he says Obama carried the Jewish vote by a margin of 78-21 but that support is falling. (I posted at 'The Way Forward' that the Dem-Repub split is roughly 90-10 for Blacks, and 60-40 for Hispanic.)  Gay vote split is about 75-25 Dem.  Obama won 41% of white males.  Whichever political side you are on in a divided electorate, making progress in any or all of the groups swings elections.
"There's a new  poll ( according to which 42 percent of American Jewish voters say they would vote to re-elect President Obama and 46 percent say they would consider voting for someone else. But I wonder how many of those among the 46 percent would consider voting for an actual Republican. Nonetheless, the poll provides some evidence of intelligent life among my fellow American Jews. In 2008, according to exit polls, Obama carried the Jewish vote by a margin of 78-21" - Paul Mirengoff, Powerline
5542  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tax Policy 'Fair Tax' on: April 15, 2010, 01:45:51 PM
Rarick, GM, all
(please see discussion in this thread from around March 2009 on this topic)
In the hypothetical, I like the 'fair tax' as well. Closer to the theme of the founders who had only import duties then which I do not like now.  I like the Laffer proposal with 11% flat income tax plus 11% corporate income tax MUCH better, but is also not possible politically.

The transition to consumption-only taxes from where we are now is impossible at this time.  It requires FIRST a repeal of the federal government's power to tax income.  Otherwise you are creating an additional layer of taxation.  Our opponents are talking about a VAT right now as an ADDITIONAL layer of taxation.  Repeal of the 16th amendment is not going to happen in this political environment, you won't win support from independents, moderates Dems or moderate Republicans, and you need roughly 75% support to end all income taxation when we are more than a trillion a year in the red already. 

This is no time politically for long range hypotheticals.  We need to oppose new tax increases, repeal the most recent 25 new taxes signed by Obama (, make 'permanent' the expiring cuts, and then CUT SPENDING FIRST! (IMHO!)

5543  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: April 14, 2010, 11:31:40 AM
Thanks BBG, these guys had to at least once study or write about incentives and disincentives even if they deny the effects of their policies today.  Regarding the panhandlers, when they wave the cup of coins past me I always say no thanks, I have plenty.  I am acutely aware that if I throw a buck in the jar I only reinforce their view of how to get money.

In line at a Target store the other day I stood behind 3 cute little girls begging their mom for candy during the wait for checkout.  The mom said 'no' almost a dozen times and I almost congratulated her, but kept my mouth shut.  At the end she said 'yes but just this once'.  Begging insistently led to candy and the lecture after the yes is not the lesson they take from it.  
5544  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: April 14, 2010, 11:19:48 AM
"having nurse practitioners and physician assistants do what [doctors] do"

Except that with public unionization and lack of market discipline on costs and efficiencies, we will be paying the less qualified as much as we would or could have been paying the MD's IMO.

As far as I know the physician shortage is matched with a system of keeping good people out.  The extreme salaries needed to pay doctors (in the eyes of others) comes from the limits on supply and the artificially high cost of higher eduction.  Medical schools have no constraints on costs either until people quit applying and entering at those prices.

I'm waiting for my libertarian friends to call for legalization of private, unlicensed health care if we are moving toward less trained and less qualified practitioners anyway.
5545  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Unemployment extensions "cause person to remain unemployed longer" on: April 14, 2010, 10:40:20 AM
 "The second way government assistance programs contribute to long-term unemployment is by providing an incentive, and the means, not to work. Each unemployed person has a 'reservation wage'—the minimum wage he or she insists on getting before accepting a job. Unemployment insurance and other social assistance programs increase [the] reservation wage, causing an unemployed person to remain unemployed longer."

 - Lawrence H. Summers, 1999, current Obama White House economic adviser
5546  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Housing/Mortgage/Real Estate on: April 14, 2010, 10:35:41 AM
Posting about Justice Stevens elsewhere I was reminded again about the Kelo decision where the government gets to decide who owns YOUR house and I noticed that the timing of that decision coincides with the peak of the housing market.  It's not that people don't still need homes or want to own their own and make them nice, it's just that the dream of paying off your mortgages and having 100% control over your small piece of America for a lifetime (and pass it on to your heirs) has became a farce.  Your rights as what we used to call the property owner don't extend much further than having your name appear as 'taxpayer' on the next property tax assessment.

People kept putting large amounts borrowed money into homes but were less and less motivated to invest very much of their own, which happened to make the market less and less stable prior to collapse.
5547  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Good Riddance Justice Stevens! on: April 14, 2010, 10:14:44 AM
This piece by Thomas Sowell covers my view very nicely.  Win or lose it should be good for the Republic to watch new confirmation hearings this summer and have a review of the system we once called limited government.

Good Riddance!
By Thomas Sowell

When Supreme Court Justices retire, there is usually some pious talk about their "service," especially when it has been a long "service." But the careers of all too many of these retiring jurists, including currently retiring Justice John Paul Stevens, have been an enormous disservice to this country.

Justice Stevens was on the High Court for 35 years-- more's the pity, or the disgrace. Justice Stevens voted to sustain racial quotas, created "rights" out of thin air for terrorists, and took away American citizens' rights to their own homes in the infamous "Kelo" decision of 2005.

The Constitution of the United States says that the government must pay "just compensation" for seizing a citizen's private property for "public use." In other words, if the government has to build a reservoir or bridge, and your property is in the way, they can take that property, provided that they pay you its value.

What has happened over the years, however, is that judges have eroded this protection and expanded the government's power-- as they have in other issues. This trend reached its logical extreme in the Supreme Court case of Kelo v. City of New London. This case involved local government officials seizing homes and businesses-- not for "public use" as the Constitution specified, but to turn this private property over to other private parties, to build more upscale facilities that would bring in more tax revenues.

Justice John Paul Stevens wrote the Supreme Court opinion that expanded the Constitution's authorization of seizing private property for "public use" to seizing private property for a "public purpose." And who would define what a "public purpose" is? Basically, those who were doing the seizing. As Justice Stevens put it, the government authorities' assessment of a proper "public purpose" was entitled to "great respect" by the courts.

Let's go back to square one. Just who was this provision of the Constitution supposed to restrict? Answer: government officials. And to whom would Justice Stevens defer: government officials. Why would those who wrote the Constitution waste good ink putting that protection in there, if not to protect citizens from the very government officials to whom Justice Stevens deferred?

John Paul Stevens is a classic example of what has been wrong with too many Republicans' appointments to the Supreme Court. The biggest argument in favor of nominating him was that he could be confirmed by the Senate without a fight.

Democratic presidents appoint judges who will push their political agenda from the federal bench, even if that requires stretching and twisting the Constitution to reach their goals.

Republicans too often appoint judges whose confirmation will not require a big fight with the Democrats. You can always avoid a fight by surrendering, and a whole wing of the Republican party has long ago mastered the art of preemptive surrender.

The net result has been a whole string of Republican Justices of the Supreme Court carrying out the Democrats' agenda, in disregard of the Constitution. John Paul Stevens has been just one.

There may have been some excuse for President Ford's picking such a man, in order to avoid a fight, at a time when he was an unelected President who came into office in the wake of Richard Nixon's resignation in disgrace after Watergate, creating lasting damage to the public's support of the Republicans.

But there was no such excuse for the elder President Bush to appoint David Souter, much less for President Eisenhower, with back-to-back landslide victories at the polls, to inflict William J. Brennan on the country.

In light of these justices' records, and in view of how long justices remain on the court, nominating such people was close to criminal negligence.

If and when the Republicans return to power in Washington, we can only hope that they remember what got them suddenly and unceremoniously dumped out of power the last time. Basically, it was running as Republicans and then governing as if they were Democrats, running up big deficits, with lots of earmarks and interfering with the market.
But their most lasting damage to the country has been putting people like John Paul Stevens on the Supreme Court.
5548  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: How to cut government spending on: April 14, 2010, 12:48:29 AM
Great category! Where to start?!  May I suggest that no program is too small for mention.  Chopping the small ones helps to set the can-do attitude for chopping the big ones. 

There was a federal study of the sexual habits of female college freshman.  We can get people do that for free, and when did that become an enumerated power?

A moratorium on UN dues.

Send NO ONE to the next climate change conference.  Let them meet without us and see if we can get the conference notes free on the internet.

Social Security ratios should be indexed back to where it was solvent.  In other words a floating retirement age that maintains a sustainable ratio of x workers for each retiree.  Means test Social Security.

End all paid brand advertising for food stamps. 

US government out of automobile manufacturing.

End insurance company bailouts, investment bank bailouts.

End all agricultural subsidies.  (Keep the Food Safety Inspection Service.)

No retirement packages for elected officials.

End all public unions.  If you work for 'we the people', there is no evil capitalist.

Privatize the mortgage business.

Strategic changes in military and defense:  Bigger sticks, shorter wars, cut 10% off the budget.

Repeal Obamacare. Repeal Obamacare. Repeal Obamacare. That was worth repeating.

Severely limit paid congressional staff.

Shorten the Census form to its original purpose.

End earmarks.

Switch to flat tax and send home 90% of the IRS.

End federal funding of local transportation systems such as light rail.

Identify all the programs that are not the federal government's responsibility, for the ones that you can't end instantly phase them out on a 7-10 straight line cut to zero.

Sell off 10% of federal lands over 10 years and reduce land management staff by 10%.
5549  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Pathological Science on: April 13, 2010, 10:46:49 AM
I missed the discussion of 93 degrees in NJ in April.  As that was posted I was driving through a brutal winter storm with glare ice coming out of the I-70 Eisenhower tunnel in Colo.  Skied 19 inches of fresh wintery powder at Vail the next day, not the slushy stuff you normally associate with spring skiing.  This week they are closed for the season because of Forest Service rules, not because the snow is gone.  Snow depth is still around 70 to 80 inches at many of the areas.

At home (MN) it was a brutally long and cold winter (even for us and that is long and cold), followed by a warm spring so far.

My take:  If you are truly noticing an increase of about .0023 degrees warming per decade, then maybe it is human caused global warming.  But if it is 40-50 degrees warmer than usual on a particular day, then it is weather.

Head of the IPCC after climategate admitted no statistically significant warming since 1995.
5550  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / How Will the Economy Affect Midterm Elections? on: April 13, 2010, 10:22:43 AM
A couple of points and a piece continuing on the projection that the economy of this year's elections will have a mixture of statistics for both sides to point to as evidence of why they deserve your vote.  The Dems are better at finding and using obscure stats to make their point than the R's are at findinig and using obvious ones.

1. Remember 1992.  The smallest of slowdowns was spun as the biggest recession since the great depression and our unenthused Presdent, who was guilty only of signing on with a promise breaking Dem budget, took the entire hit even though the tax and spend bills all came out of a D-congress. 

2. Remember 2006. We were on a 50 consecutive months roll of job growth coming out of the crash of 2000 and the attacks and recession of 2001.  Dems found a twist or two in the statistics to make record, explosive growth look like a bad economy.

3. Dems took power Jan 2007, announced a full list of anti-growth agenda items and killed off all growth with the most inflated of all bubbles crashing first and hardest, but with unemployment from anti-growth policies becoming the lagging and enduring result.  Despite this sequence, most voters in 2008 blamed Bush and the Republican congress that has been gone since 2006 for the problems coming into the Obama Presidency and most may still blame them today.  Certainly every administration official is required to re-state that blame in almost every economic sentence.

4. There are and will be signs of growth in Nov 2010, if current projections are at all accurate.  We (if you are conservative leaning or Republican)have been losing the PR battle in all but the most obvious of situations.  So don't take this electoral shift opportunity for granted.

That said, here is a piece from the Atlantic warning Dems that recovery won't be strong enough or soon enough for them to count on:

How Will the Economy Affect Midterm Elections?

It is by now conventional wisdom that the economy is going to cost Democrats big in the midterm elections . . . so it's refreshing to see folks like James Surowiecki challenge that wisdom.  After all, the economy has started growing again, and, in what must be an astonishing coincidence, we're just about to get a big river of stimulus money sluicing through voter pockets.

Possibly.  But conventional wisdom has a lot going for it.  I agree with Surowiecki that what matters is not the headline numbers on the newspaper page, but peoples' actual felt experience with the economy, particularly real income growth.  That felt experience is maybe improving a tiny amount.  Consider the following, however:

    * At this point, there is not enough time for employment to recover significantly.  We lost a lot of jobs, and if analysts are right that this represents mostly structural change in the economy (rather than a temporary collapse in aggregate demand), employment will rebound only slowly.  It took years under the Bush administration to work off the relatively modest collapse around 9/11.
    * Most peoples' major asset will still be worth a whole lot less than it used to be.  And people who are pinched will not have the housing piggybank to cushion their anxiety.
    * Delinquencies are finally slacking of, but the backlog of foreclosures is eventually going to come on the market, further pushing down home values in many areas.
    * We can't really afford to expand the various forms of housing support much further . . . but if we stop them, housing markets will look even worse.
    * Low inflation means the cost of living doesn't go up . . . but people are now conditioned to expect nominal wage increases.  Money illusion is going to make people perceive the labor market, and income growth, as worse than they actually are.
    * Health care costs are going up due to selection effects in individual and small business markets--healthy people are cutting the expense when they lose their jobs, landing companies with a smaller, sicker pool.  That's going to further cut into any wage growth.
    * Budget deficits are almost certainly going to keep going up in the short term.  People get especially touchy about deficits when they are personally strapped.
    * Oil prices are still rising.

I'm not saying the Democrats can't pull it out.  Nothing is impossible, and they have GDP growth on their side.  On the other hand, they're facing some pretty strong headwinds--much stiffer than Bill Clinton faced when he lost the House to the Republicans in 1994.  And contra what I was assured by many Democrats, health care reform has not gotten more popular since it passed; arguably, it's gotten slightly less popular.

That base had better be very motivated.
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