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5501  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cash for Clunkers: Piecemeal Lobbied Justice vs. Equal Protectection for ALL on: August 05, 2009, 06:27:09 PM
Yes it helped one failed industry hit better numbers at the end of one quarter but it violates all principles I thought we stood for.  As a manufacturer, if you are not on their preferred list, you miss out - AND you get to pay for the others' people's subsidy!  As a consumer maybe you get lucky (odds are that you don't!), but somebody else equally deserving comes in one day earlier, one day later, buys a slightly different vehicle, trades in a slightly different vehicle or does something else equally large and heroic to stimulate the economy and save the planet and THEY GET NOTHING... AND THEY PAY FOR YOUR SUBSIDY!!

Regarding the author, how do I say nicely... what kind of MORON thinks these are conservative OR AMERICAN principles???

In terms of common sense, it isn't drivers of clunkers who buy new cars.  There is a food chain.  More typically it is owners of 3-5 year old cars that buy new cars and it is the driver of the clunker who delays the need to expend the energy - roughly 65000 mega-joules or about 1.5 tons of crude oil - to manufacture a typical new vehicle.

The people who were ready to trade in the exact vehicle required in the bill and buy the exact new vehicle specified on the exact day that the taxpayer-taken, borrowed or printed money hit the street were most likely the cronies of the staffers and lobbyists who wrote the bill, it would seem to me.

Also I think the numbers will show that Honda and Toyota were the 'American' companies who benefited most...
5502  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: August 04, 2009, 11:38:00 PM
A couple of comments on recent posts: I posted Mitt Romney's view on 7/30 with my caveats, but without noticing or mentioning BBG posted 'Romney's Folly' the day before.  FWIW both are worthwhile reads.  I oppose all extra government involvement in healthcare but free markets have been lost from health care since 1945 and the politics today is very, very complicated. 
Freki posted a great question: "Why cant' a company or a group of people (like a co-op) hire their own doctor?  Pay the doc a salary and that would take care of general healthcare.  Then as a group negotiate with some other entity, insurance co. or hospital,l for catastrophic care?    Why not pay for the education of med students for their agreement to work for the group for a fixed time? This might lower cost.   Maybe the group could self insure for procedures the on staff medial personnel could not perform.  It seems to me there are ways to get what you want from the free market without the government getting involved."

You are correct.  A friend of mine, he might rather call it a multi-decade acquaintance, is a left wing union organizer / official who now manages their health group.  They have about 100,000 in the group and they self-insure.  Instead of paying an insurance company they contract they products services and rates that they need and use.  They make tough decisions like the insurance companies do or like the government will have to.  I don't know a lot of details but know he is opinionated about things like most MRI's being wasteful. For example, he says we have more MRI scanners along one corner of the Twin Cities freeway loop than in all of Canada.  Because these providers have the expensive equipment they order the unnecessary and expensive images.  I imagine there is a smidgen of truth in that, but still you have a form of bureaucrat limiting your choice of diagnosis and treatment.  In the case of these workers and their families, at least the decisions are a little closer to home and open to petition or change than if they were entrusted the federal government.

5503  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Venezuela Pol?tica, eggs to the troops on: August 04, 2009, 10:27:29 AM
Denny,  I think there is good humor in the protest photos with the national guard and I don't want it lost in translation.  Do I understand that the troops or pretend trooops are being handed eggs for the balls they lack for closing stations to hide from criticism?  Also clever is to peacefully hand over the eggs.  If thrown they would invite a reaction or just reflect badly on the themselves. 

Thanks for the updates and keep up the good fight.
5504  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Politics of Health Care: Gov't-Run Care Is A Study In Soaring Costs on: August 04, 2009, 10:00:00 AM
Thanks for previous post BBG.  These Americans advantages disappear when we emulate worse systems.

Tim Penny, was Democratic Congressman for Rochester MN, home of the Mayo clinic, and Rudy Boschwitz became a two term Republican senator of the 'blueist' state when Democrats overreached here:

Gov't-Run Care Is A Study In Soaring Costs

By RUDY BOSCHWITZ AND TIM PENNY | Posted Friday, July 31, 2009 4:20 PM PT

This article appeared in Thursday's issue. We repeat it here because of the importance of the information provided and also so it will be seen by our weekend-only readers.

In considering whether to expand the government's role in the delivery of health care or in health care insurance, it is worth looking at Medicare and Medicaid.

These two huge programs already make the government the largest player in the health care industry. The profligate nature of these two programs should raise lots of doubt about the Obama program doing anything but "busting" the budget.

In 1968 total spending by the federal government was $178.1 billion dollars. Forty years later in 2007, total spending had risen to $2,728.9 billion dollars. So the budget of the U.S. increased in dollar terms 15.3 times in that 40-year span.

But all programs did not rise in unison. Some rose more, others less.

Outlays for Social Security rose from $23.3 billion in 1968 to $581.4 billion in 2007, an increase of 25 times. So Social Security drove the budget higher at a substantially faster rate than the budget rose as a whole.

ObamaCare plans to expand the government's role in insuring the American people. The government is already the largest insurer in the health care business through Medicare. We are now told ObamaCare will save money.

What kind of impact did Medicare, the first large government health insurance plan have in budgetary terms? Medicare rose from $5.1 billion in 1968 to $436.0 billion in 2007 an astounding increase of 85.5 times over the 40-year period. Will ObamaCare be better?

Fiscally Wreckless

Beware of government estimates about the future cost of ObamaCare. When Medicare was being considered in the mid-1960s, the government projected that the outlays for the program 25 years down the road would be $10 billion. Instead, in 1990, 25 years later, the outlays were $107 billion. Government estimates were off by a factor of more than 10!

Medicaid, the other large medical program currently in effect, outdid Medicare. Medicaid outlays in 1968 were $1.8 billion. In 2007 they had risen to $190.6 billion, an increase in dollar terms of 105.9 times.

And that is only the Federal outlay number. There is a roughly equal Medicaid amount spent by the states due to federal mandates.

Without those mandates we would not be reading about the large deficits that most states endure.

The idea of expanding the federal role in the medical arena is truly fiscally irresponsible. The claim that money will be saved through government competition with the private insurance system (with government setting the rules!) is the height of fantasy.

If 45 million Americans are now uninsured, that means 265 million are insured privately, and the government should not disrupt that. If the government becomes the insurer of most Americans, the impact on the budget would be absolutely awesome. Rationing of medical care that is so often mentioned would surely result.

Rich Will Provide

If in the 40-year span from 1968 through 2007 Social Security went up 25 times, Medicare 85.5 and Medicaid 105.9, why did the total federal budget increase overall only 15.3 times? What held the budget back?

It was largely defense. Defense outlays rose from $82.2 billion in 1968 (or 46.1% of the total budget) to $547.9 billion in 2007 (20.1% of the total budget). In dollars, that is an increase of a bit less than 6.7 times.

Yet on a recent talk show Rep. Barney Frank assured us that we can pay for these new medical programs by decreases in defense outlays and additional taxes on the "rich" — those with incomes exceeding $250,000, he explained.

Medicine over our lifetime has made extraordinary progress. New discoveries and advances continue to be announced almost weekly. Most — but not all — have occurred here in the U. S. where medicine has always attracted the best and the brightest.

The government has played a most significant role by funding research through the National Institute of Health to the tune presently of $30 billion annually. It is a proper role for government and among the best and most admired of programs that receives the broadest bipartisan support.

Will the best and brightest young people be attracted to a career run by government rules, regulations and financial dictates that may well frown upon individual initiative? Our fear is that they will not, and the extraordinary progress of medicine will slow.

That alone is reason enough to oppose the government's further immersion into the field of medicine.

Boschwitz, a Republican, served in the Senate from 1978 to 1991 and was a member of the Budget Committee throughout. Penny, a Democrat, served in the House from 1983 to 1995. Both are from Minnesota.
5505  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Glibness, Why was Biden at the beer summit?? on: August 04, 2009, 09:51:05 AM
This insight came from Forbes, Biden who doesn't drink beer (really none of them did) was needed by the beer-summit planners for racial balance.  This was only a photo opp and it was looking like it would be a white cop surrounded by two black psuedo-intellectuals with a chip on their shoulder about race. With Biden they achieved balance - like a double date.  Any other white and it would have just looked like they brought in a token, but Joe Biden is the  VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES which was helpful when Obama needed to show he has white 'friends' too.  So much for post-racialism.  These men with fruit in their near-beers should become the Dukasis in a tank photo moment for future campaigns.
5506  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: July 30, 2009, 05:53:01 PM
This post is about the healthcare debate but my interest is really about keeping an eye on the players for 'the way forward for conservatives - with a big question mark. The author Mitt Romney is the presumed front runner to challenge Obama and he has a history as governor of perhaps the most liberal state and architect of a government health plan.  In his defense, his 'plan' could be argued as within 'state's rights' unlike Hillary, Barack and Pelosi who just make up constitutional federal government powers.  His plan offered no 'public option', just compulsion and meddling.  To a more moderate voter than me it could be argued that Governor Romney's experience with healthcare policy and politics is a strength and an accomplishment.

Mr. President, what's the rush?
Obama could learn a thing or two about health care reform from Massachusetts. One, time is not the enemy. Two, neither are the Republicans.

By Mitt Romney

Because of President Obama's frantic approach, health care has run off the rails. For the sake of 47 million uninsured Americans, we need to get it back on track.

(Now insured: Francisco Diaz of Boston consults with nurse practitioner Anna Hackett Peterson./Josh T. Reynolds for USA TODAY; Mitt Romney./AP)

Health care cannot be handled the same way as the stimulus and cap-and-trade bills. With those, the president stuck to the old style of lawmaking: He threw in every special favor imaginable, ground it up and crammed it through a partisan Democratic Congress. Health care is simply too important to the economy, to employment and to America's families to be larded up and rushed through on an artificial deadline. There's a better way. And the lessons we learned in Massachusetts could help Washington find it.

No other state has made as much progress in covering their uninsured as Massachusetts. The bill that made it happen wasn't a rush job. Shortly after becoming governor, I worked in a bipartisan fashion with Democrats to insure all our citizens. It took almost two years to find a solution. When we did, it passed the 200-member legislature with only two dissenting votes. It had the support of the business community, the hospital sector and insurers. For health care reform to succeed in Washington, the president must finally do what he promised during the campaign: Work with Republicans as well as Democrats.

Massachusetts also proved that you don't need government insurance. Our citizens purchase private, free-market medical insurance. There is no "public option." With more than 1,300 health insurance companies, a federal government insurance company isn't necessary. It would inevitably lead to massive taxpayer subsidies, to lobbyist-inspired coverage mandates and to the liberals' dream: a European-style single-payer system. To find common ground with skeptical Republicans and conservative Democrats, the president will have to jettison left-wing ideology for practicality and dump the public option.

The cost issue

Our experience also demonstrates that getting every citizen insured doesn't have to break the bank. First, we established incentives for those who were uninsured to buy insurance. Using tax penalties, as we did, or tax credits, as others have proposed, encourages "free riders" to take responsibility for themselves rather than pass their medical costs on to others. This doesn't cost the government a single dollar. Second, we helped pay for our new program by ending an old one — something government should do more often. The federal government sends an estimated $42 billion to hospitals that care for the poor: Use those funds instead to help the poor buy private insurance, as we did.

When our bill passed three years ago, the legislature projected that our program would cost $725 million in 2009. At $723 million, next year's forecast is pretty much on target. When you calculate all the savings, including that from the free hospital care we eliminated, the net cost to the state is approximately $350 million. The watchdog Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation concluded that our program's cost is "relatively modest" and "well within initial projections."

And if subsidies and coverages are reined in, as I've suggested, the Massachusetts program could actually break even. One thing is certain: The president must insist on a program that doesn't add to our spending burden. We simply cannot afford another trillion-dollar mistake.

The Massachusetts reform aimed at getting virtually all our citizens insured. In that, it worked: 98% of our citizens are insured, 440,000 previously uninsured are covered and almost half of those purchased insurance on their own, with no subsidy. But overall, health care inflation has continued its relentless rise. Here is where the federal government can do something we could not: Take steps to stop or slow medical inflation.

At the core of our health cost problem is an incentive problem. Patients don't care what treatments cost once they pass the deductible. And providers are paid more when they do more; they are paid for quantity, not quality. We will tame runaway costs only when we change incentives. We might do what some countries have done: Require patients to pay a portion of their bill, except for certain conditions. And providers could be paid an annual fixed fee for the primary care of an individual and a separate fixed fee for the treatment of a specific condition. These approaches have far more promise than the usual bromides of electronic medical records, transparency and pay-for-performance, helpful though they will be.

Try a business-like analysis

I spent most of my career in the private sector. When well-managed businesses considered a major change of some kind, they engaged in extensive analysis, brought in outside experts, exhaustively evaluated every alternative, built consensus among those who would be affected and then moved ahead. Health care is many times bigger than all the companies in the Dow Jones combined. And the president is rushing changes that dwarf what any business I know has faced.

Republicans are not the party of "no" when it comes to health care reform. This Republican is proud to be the first governor to insure all his state's citizens. Other Republicans such as Rep. Paul Ryan and Sens. Bob Bennett and John McCain, among others, have proposed their own plans. Republicans will join with the Democrats if the president abandons his government insurance plan, if he endeavors to craft a plan that does not burden the nation with greater debt, if he broadens his scope to reduce health costs for all Americans, and if he is willing to devote the rigorous effort, requisite time and bipartisan process that health care reform deserves.

Mitt Romney was governor of Massachusetts from 2003 to 2007.
The Massachusetts plan

• Everyone must buy health insurance or face tax penalties.

• Hundreds of millions of dollars being spent on free hospital care were converted into subsidies to help the needy buy insurance.

• A health insurance "exchange" was established to help connect the uninsured with private health plans at more affordable rates.

• Health plans can offer consumers higher deductibles and more restrictive physician and hospital networks in order to lower costs.

• Businesses with 11 or more workers that do not offer insurance must pay a $295 per employee fee.

Source: Massachusetts Health Connector Authority

5507  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants, wage legislation on: July 26, 2009, 12:04:23 PM
I must pile on to comments CCP made a couple of days ago in the health care thread:  "...Chuck Schumer made a statement that doctors should make no more than 80K a year...If that is his argument lawyers who require far less schooling should make no more than 40K per year..."

Over the years Republicans went along grudgingly in some cases with minimum wage legislation.  Then Kieth Ellison's predecessor proposed maximum wage legislation.  It was largely ignored but the premise was allowed to fester.  Entry level wage legislation is NOT about how much these people should make, it is about WHO should determine it.  The maximum wage proposal was that no one at the top should make more than 20-fold what to lowest wage worker gets paid by the same company.  Whether that sounds reasonable or should be some other factor is NOT the point.  We don't determine private compensation plans at the congressional level.  It is NOT part of their defined powers nor is it something they would be good at.

I don't know if Tiger Woods makes too much.  Nike and the PGA can figure out their pay and incentive plans and live with the consequences.  I'm busy with my own business. 

Unfortunately, we keep blurring the lines between public and private.  The more that we do that, the more that we have the government to micro-manage everything including the comp plan for Dr. CCP (and all these other workers in all these other industries) instead of leaving that in the hands of the patients he sees and the providers who want to hire him.

Look at the auto makers, banks, insurance companies, airlines, auto companies and on and on and on.  I always felt their executive pay is none of my business.  If they are inefficient in their business, they will fail.  That corrects the problem.  Now we have the mindset of don't let them fail.  So where is the correcting mechanism, a vote in congress for every paycheck for every profession in every industry?  And that is smarter than the market???  They exist only because of our subsidy, so now their intricacies are our responsibility. I can't even think of examples more facetious than reality.  Is McDonalds to big to fail?  Is a federal french fry commission next??

Only 2 of 10 members of the federal auto task force drive American cars, 2 don't own cars. 

I don't know what other people should make or what they should drive nor do they know the value of my labor or vehicle suits me best.  Chuck Schumer should re-read Article 1 and the rest of the constitution and focus on his own G*d D*mned business which should include spending the summer with his constituents, not trying to run every business in America.

For the parts of the constitution limiting federal powers that he doesn't like, he should focus in on the amendment process which should come before the enabling legislation.
5508  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Water on: July 26, 2009, 11:21:50 AM
Getting back to a couple posts on water I offer my observations:

Remember that during the hurricane 'debates' we were told that the destruction level kept increasing over time.  In fact, more and more people were locating and building in hurricane zones - which is fine except it comes at a risk and a cost.  To some degree the same goes for water.

Where I live (MN) we are up to our neck in water but have other quality of life challenges - this thing called winter. 10,000 lakes is an understatement, more like 12k.  There is the 'city of lakes', the headwater for the Mississippi River, aquifirs aplenty and an untapped source of Lake Superior where each inch of surface dept is over a half Trillion gallons. Not to mention consistent rains ans snows throughout all the seasons, no one has hardly even thought of routing their gutter system through their shower or toilet supply.  Like everywhere it costs money to treat and purify water, but the resource is available.

Quote from 2 posts back: "Water is going to be very short until you have a new source," said Carlsbad Mayor Claude Lewis. "And the only new source is desalination, I don't care what anybody says."

We have evolved past traditional instincts of locating near basic sustaining resources.  The reason I think is that we believe we can solve that need by throwing money at it.

I remember criticizing the late Sen. Paul Wellstone for lobbying the federal government to increase 'cold weather' assistance for the prosperous state of MN.  Good grief, who could have seen a cold winter coming???  My point is that my heat and your water are not federal issues.  They are just natural consequences and costs associated with the choices we made when we located our families and our communities. 
5509  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: July 26, 2009, 10:46:05 AM
One more shot at the Obama/Democrat House healthcare chart.  I found it as an image rather than a pdf this time:

5510  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: July 26, 2009, 10:42:50 AM
Let's do Question 2 first, much easier:  "Is/should an insurance company be allowed to discontinue someone who develops a problem?"

No.  That is what I was insuring against when I was healthy and bought the policy.

"Question 1: What is done and what should be done about people with pre-existing conditions looking for health care?"

Very tough question and deeply intertwined with whatever your own view is for a role for government and the role for consequences for personal choices.

I don't think any serious conservatives with political aspirations totally opposes a safety net, so if you exhaust your personal wealth, the state is going to take care of you at about the level of care that all of us would receive under Obamacare.  The bigger question then is should someone be able to NOT use their own resources to pay for their own health problem IF they previously chose not to insure against it, then arrange to have someone else pay for it and keep their own wealth or other uses.  Sounds troublesome to me.

In the real-politic world of risk pooling, an insurer or group can take in people with known problems as long as they are random proportions with people without known problems.   

Crafty, what is our view?
5511  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: July 23, 2009, 11:52:55 PM
"Mr Bernanke warned that a continued deterioration in commercial property, where prices have fallen by about 35 per cent since the market’s peak and defaults have been rising sharply, would present a “difficult” challenge for the economy."

Make sure I have this right - We announce a new commitment to punish production, employment, investment, commerce and profits and the result is double digit unemployment and collapsed demand for the rental or purchase of business space.  That makes sense and I think people here get it, but I wonder if the typical voter/constituent of Barbara Boxer or Amy Klobuchar or Chuck Schumer understands what Bernancke is trying to tell them - You don't have to be an owner of Commercial real estate to be hurt by a collapse in that market.  Just like you didn't have to be a buyer of yachts to be hurt by a tax on the purchasing of yachts.  You don't have to be an employer to be hurt by another costly and unnecessary mandate on employers.  If you are middle or lower class worker, you or your loved ones (not wealthy) will be hurt by another tax on the wealthy.  As participants in the economy, we share the economy with the other participants.  It is not an us vs. them ("Make the rich pay their fair share") economy.  It is all inter-related and intertwined.  I didn't see the movie, but when the front end of the Titanic goes under it doesn't mean more desserts will be available for those in the middle and the back. (This should have been a rant.)  What we are seeing is an avoidable, man-made disaster of self-inflicted wounds IMHO.

5512  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Oil Prices on: July 16, 2009, 01:17:12 PM
Bloomberg reports that a respected analyst sees oil prices collapsing further with the economy.  Just like artificially high prices helped trigger the downturn, collapsing prices will shut down newer and more expensive energy sources, making the next oil spike even worse if/when we ever see economic health return.

Verleger Sees $20 Oil This Year on ‘Devastating’ Glut (Update1)

By Grant Smith

July 16 (Bloomberg) -- Crude oil will collapse to $20 a barrel this year as the recession takes a deeper toll on fuel demand, according to academic and former U.S. government adviser Philip Verleger.

A crude surplus of 100 million barrels will accumulate by the end of the year, straining global storage capacity and sending prices to a seven-year low, said Verleger, who correctly predicted in 2007 that prices were set to exceed $100. Supply is outpacing demand by about 1 million barrels a day, he said.

“The economic situation is not getting better,” Verleger, 64, a professor at the University of Calgary and head of consultant PKVerleger LLC, said in a telephone interview yesterday. “Global refinery runs are going to be much lower in the fall. If the recession continues and it’s a warm winter, it’s going to be devastating.”

Crude oil last traded at $20 a barrel in February 2002. Futures were at $61.18 today in New York, having recovered 89 percent from a four-year low reached last December. The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries is implementing record supply cuts announced last year in response to plunging consumption.

“OPEC don’t realize the magnitude of the cuts they need to make,” which would total about a further 2 million barrels a day, Verleger added. “Storage is going to become tight. It’s not clear if there’s going to be enough storage available.”

China, Inflation

Oil will average $63.91 in the fourth quarter, according to the median of analyst forecasts compiled by Bloomberg. Crude for December delivery traded at $65.61 today in New York. Prices have rebounded on expectations of a demand recovery, led by China and other developing economies, and concern expansionary monetary policy would stoke inflation and weaken the dollar.

At the other end of the spectrum from Verleger, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. predicted in a report yesterday oil will rally to $85 a barrel by the end of the year, and recommended that clients buy futures contracts for delivery in December 2011.

“China is in a real desperate situation,” said Verleger, who publishes the Petroleum Economics Monthly. “We’re in a situation where U.S. consumers aren’t consuming and Chinese manufacturers get hurt. Economists are looking for growth in all the wrong places.”

Forward contracts for oil have been higher than prices for immediate delivery this year, a situation known as contango, creating incentives to buy crude now and store it. That may end as growing stockpiles make storage more expensive.

“Prices would be much lower today, but for the very large incentive to build inventories,” Verleger said. “You need forward buyers, which we had when people were fearing inflation, but as concerns turn toward deflation” that will no longer be the case.
5513  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / China - A little power struggle goiing on at the top? on: July 16, 2009, 12:45:14 PM
I found this report interesting.

 Hu Jintao Protege Li Keqiang's Two Secretaries Arrested, Cause of Hu Jintao's Emergency Return From G8
By (translation)
Jul 9, 2009 - 12:47:29 PM

Hu Jintao Protege Li Keqiang's Two Secretaries Arrested, Cause of Hu Jintao's Emergency Return From G8

Boxun reports that most people assumed Hu Jintao left the G8 meeting in Italy early to return home because of the ongoing violence in Xinjiang. In fact he rushed back because He Guoqiang--head of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection--had taken the opportunity of Hu's absence to detain Li Keqiang's two secretaries on corruption charges. In fact Li's assistants have accepted bribes to the tune of tens of millions of dollars. But this is a common phenomenon.

He Guoqiang took advantage of Hu's absence to spring his trap, having Premier Wen Jiabao sign off on the incriminating evidence and arrest warrant. Hu used the excuse of the events in Xinjiang to rush home to attend to this threat to his desired heir to the Party leadership position.
5514  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Sotomayor: not telling the truth on: July 16, 2009, 11:57:25 AM
The previous post is right on the mark.  Arbitrarily cherry-picking foreign law to support decisions is the opposite of a rigorous constitutional process.

Sotomayor seems to understand that honest liberalism isn't how you go through confirmation even in a Democrat Senate so she pretends to be something other than what her previous words and decisions define her to be.  She will be a reliable vote on the liberal side of controversial decisions, but she is not a legal scholar with compelling logic or intellectual discipline likely to sway other justices on anything.

She has problems with competence and honesty.  Today's example shows that she won't admit that all nine sitting Justices disagreed with her on Ricci even though that case is undoubtedly the most important in her preparations for the hearings:

 Senator Kyl’s Second-Round Questioning,  Roger Clegg, National review

Senator Kyl is masterful again. He points out that her earlier claim — that her hands in Ricci were bound by Supreme Court and Second Circuit precedent — is simply not true. What is the precedent, he asks, and asks.  She doesn’t answer, and doesn’t answer. Finally she cites the Bushey decision — a 1984 Second Circuit decision predating all kinds of intervening Supreme Court decisions and statutory amendments. Then Kyl points out that, even if this were binding precedent, it could have been overturned by en banc review, which she voted against (the deciding vote, as Senator Sessions pointed out yesterday). She has no answer to this, either. Nor does she have a convincing answer to Senator Kyl’s next question, regarding her panel’s back-of-the-hand rejection of a case that ultimately was important enough to command the attention of a majority-minus-one of the Second Circuit, the Supreme Court (which rejected her approach 9-0, as Senator Kyl notes), and the nation. On the question of whether the Supreme Court rejected her approach 9-0, she says it’s hard to say because “there were a lot of opinions in that case.” Ridiculous. There were four opinions, and obviously the majority and the two concurrences (by Scalia and Alito) rejected her approach. And Ginsburg does, too (see footnote 10 and page 23). She is not telling the truth.
5515  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: July 15, 2009, 11:50:39 AM
Here is a flow chart of the new, simplified 1000+ page Democrat Health Plan:
It's just as simple as that. (sarc.)
Sorry I'm not able to post the image from the pdf. I hope someone else can.
5516  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: July 05, 2009, 10:48:09 PM
Freki,  Thanks for the video of Michele Bachmann calling out this government for what it is.  I wish it was just overblown rhetoric of a far right conservative but every word of it unfortunately is true.  - Doug
5517  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The American Creed/Limited Government on: July 05, 2009, 02:41:18 PM
Update:  Forgot to mention waking on the morning of the 4th to the sound and sight of 2 bald eagles on the dock 'cleaning' a fish they caught as if they were part of the festivities, leaving behind very few parts. Wish I had that image as the 3rd photo.

We celebrate the victory of our liberties so hard fought with sacrifice by our forefathers as a day off of freely giving away most of those freedoms without even a fight.  In our neck of the woods we had the Minnesota Orchestra at lakeside performing until dusk followed by beautiful fireworks over the water.
5518  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The all-powerful government: Fuel standards killed GM on: July 05, 2009, 01:59:57 PM
We killed it, now we own it?  Some bad nightmare twist off of the Powell Doctrine? 

"Will President Barack Obama provide Detroit auto makers with even more subsidies to pay CAFE fines?"

Economist Alan Reynolds in the Wall Street Journal points out some pretty obvious realities about GM and federal regulations that Obama's Treasury Secretary - or is it Secretary of Socialized Industries - didn't notice or advise his boss.

Fuel Standards Are Killing GM


General Motors can survive bankruptcy far more easily than it can survive President Barack Obama's ambitious fuel economy standards, which mandate that all new vehicles average 35.5 miles per gallon by 2016.

The actual Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) results will depend on the mixture of fuel-thrifty and fuel-thirsty vehicles consumers choose to buy from each manufacturer -- not on what producers hope to sell. That means only those companies most successful in selling the smallest cars with the smallest engines will, in the future, be allowed to sell the more profitable larger pickups and SUVs and more powerful luxury and sports cars.

Sales of Toyota's Prius, Yaris, Corolla and Scion, for example, allow and encourage Toyota to market more Lexus 460s, Sequoia SUVs and Tundra pickups in the U.S. without incurring fines. Hyundai's success selling Accent and Elantra compacts allows it to sell 368-horsepower Genesis sedans.

Similarly, Ford has the Toyota-licensed hybrid Fusion and will soon produce the European Ford Fiesta in Mexico. Chrysler will soon have Fiats. But what does GM have?

No independent reviewer suggests that the Chevy Aveo and Cobalt are credible contenders in the small car field. Even the president's auto task force finds the electric Chevy Volt "unviable," since it will lose money unless priced above a Cadillac CTS. The Opel-engineered 2011 Chevy Cruze will face tough competition from Asian cars whose reliability is better established. Launching such new models will be even tougher in the future, now that GM has lost control of Opel.

GM accounted for about 19% of vehicle sales so far this year, but the company had a much smaller share of the market for small cars and SUVs (which accounted for 20% of total sales through May). To continue offering a Toyota-like array of larger cars and trucks under ever-tighter CAFE rules, GM would have to capture a much larger share of the market for small and/or diesel-powered vehicles. Unfortunately, European and Asian car makers have decades more experience building reliable subcompact cars and diesel engines for their local markets -- where consumers face steep taxes on gasoline and large engines.

General Motors does produce competitive cars and trucks, but not one of them is small. Consumer Reports recommends three GM cars and three GM trucks. The recommended cars are the Chevy Malibu (the unrecommended hybrid has been dropped), the large Buick Lucerne and the Cadillac DTS. Consumer Reports recommends the Chevy Avalanche and Silverado and the GMC Sierra trucks. Car enthusiast magazines insist on adding Camaro, Corvette and the 556-horsepower Cadillac CTS-V to that list.

Among those nine best GM vehicles, only the four-cylinder Malibu achieved as much as 25 mpg in Consumer Reports testing. The others get 12-17 mpg, yet they are no less fuel-efficient than comparable foreign brands. The Environmental Protection Agency rates the mileage of the Toyota Sienna van and Nissan Titan pickup as worst in their class, and comparable Chevys as best. Unlike GM, however, Japanese car companies sell enough small cars to offset the large and thus hold down the average figures.

General Motors is likely to become profitable only if it is allowed to specialize in what it does best -- namely, midsize and large sedans, sports cars, pickup trucks and SUVs. The company can't possibly afford to scrap billions of dollars of equipment used to produce its best vehicles simply to please politicians who would rather see GM start from scratch, wasting more taxpayer money on "retooling" to produce unwanted and unprofitable subcompacts and electric cars. The average mileage of GM's future cars won't matter if nobody buys them.

Politicians are addicted to CAFE standards because they create an illusion of doing something sometime in the future without voters experiencing the slightest inconvenience in the present. Tighter future CAFE rules will have no effect at all on the type of vehicles we choose to buy. Their only effect will be to compel us to buy larger and more powerful vehicles from foreign manufacturers. Americans will still buy Jaguars, but from an Indian firm, Tata, rather than Ford. They'll buy Hummers, but from a Chinese firm, Tengzhong, rather than GM. The whole game is a charade; symbolism without substance.

As a matter of practical politics, rescuing GM from strangulation by CAFE will require offering economically literate environmentalists a greener alternative, i.e., one that works. Luckily, the government has two policy tools that, with minor modifications, really could discourage people from buying the least fuel-efficient vehicles.

One is the federal excise tax on "gas guzzlers," which could take some fun out of the horsepower race except that it applies only to cars, not to SUVS, vans and trucks. Why not apply this tax to all types of gas guzzling vehicles? Owners of trucks used for business could deduct the tax in proportion to miles used for business, as they do with other vehicular expenses. Phase it in after 2011 to encourage buyers to snap up the unsold inventory of gas guzzling trucks quickly -- a timely "stimulus plan."

Second, the federal fuel tax is highest on the most efficient fuel (diesel) and below zero on the least efficient fuel (ethanol). Cars get about 30% better mileage on diesel than on gasoline, and cars running mainly on gasoline get about 30% better mileage than they would using 85% ethanol.

To stop distorting consumer choices, simply apply the same 24-cent-a-gallon federal tax to gasoline and ethanol as we do to diesel. This would add funds to the depleted federal highway trust. More importantly, it would remove an irrational tax penalty on buying diesel-powered cars -- arguably the most cost-effective way to improve mileage without reducing car size or performance.

These two proposals are a greener alternative to CAFE, because they'll work. But they'll only work if Congress totally and permanently abandons the charade of CAFE. It is arguably worthwhile to accept a modest tax increase in exchange for an end to harmful regulations, but that exchange is effective precisely because it is not painless.

Unifying fuel taxes and broadening the excise tax on gas guzzlers makes sense as an alternative to CAFE. Otherwise it's just more pain with no gain.

If politicians insist on tightening fleet average mileage standards for bankrupt auto companies, how could those rules be enforced? The only penalty for violating CAFE rules is a big fine. If consumers keep refusing to buy enough small cars from GM and Chrysler to allow them to meet the CAFE rules, how are those companies expected to pay the fines?

The government is already planning to spend about $50 billion bailing out General Motors plus $7 billion for Chrysler. Will President Barack Obama provide Detroit auto makers with even more subsidies to pay CAFE fines?

Maybe so. That would be only slightly more bizarre than current plans to bribe folks with $4,500 to sell their "clunkers," or to offer huge tax credits to those rich enough to buy a $73,000 hybrid Cadillac Escalade or an $88,000 Fisker Karma.

The bottom line is that CAFE standards are totally unenforceable and ineffective. Regardless of how much damage the rules do to GM and Chrysler, Americans can and will continue to buy big and fast vehicles from German, Japanese, Korean, Chinese and Indian car companies. CAFE standards might just be another foolhardy regulatory nuisance -- were it not for the fact that they could easily prove fatally dangerous for any auto maker overly dependent on the uniquely overregulated U.S. market.
5519  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: July 05, 2009, 01:30:17 PM
A competing Democrat operative once said of the Clintons that they lie with such ease.  Now it is the Obamas.  We are told that there is no harm to let a "public option" compete with "private" options.  "No one is going to lose their current health plan if they choose to keep it."  Of course the elephant in the room is that the public option is subsidized by the taxpayer to the tune of trillions.  That's why private options won't be able to compete.

Here is David Axelrod on Meet the Press last week saying there will be no subsidy:
"Look, we believe strongly in, in a public choice; not one that's subsidized by the government, but one that will embrace the best practices, that will reduce healthcare costs and give people the best quality care."

Someone help me out here.  If there is no subsidy and no unfair advantage, what the hell do we need the government for to create it?  It will cost the taxpayer nothing(?), it has to paid for, no taxes are going up (except on the wealthiest among us) and it won't have any unfair advantage over private choices.  (Please weigh in here if you believe them.)

Of course they are lying.  All of the above are true.  It will be subsidized.  All government programs are.  Taxes will be raised even on the brokest among us.  Private choices will be squeezed out.  Costs will go up, not down.  Quality will suffer. Waiting will be the norm.  And turning back will be next to impossible.
5520  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: July 05, 2009, 12:00:14 PM
Crafty from Russian thread: "To harp on a point I have made several times before, in the 2004 election even his weenie opponent was calling for expanding the US military by 50,000 troops-- but Bush-Rumbo, still too proud to admit that what was going on in Iraq was more than a bunch of Saddamite remnants, refused to admit that we needed to expand our military."

Not fully disagreeing but adding my comment from armchair to armchair...

Some lessons of the Iraq war are still unknown IMO.  The beginning of the war was impressive.  The execution of the surge was truly amazing.  The part in between was brutal.  The consequences of rushing our exit are unknown at this point.

Obviously we would like to have won faster with less damage.  For sure, plenty of mistakes were made, big ones.

My main thought is that I don't believe with any certainty that a surge could or would have had the same success if only it had been ordered earlier.  The strategy and success was built on information/intelligence/knowledge on the ground that we didn't necessarily have earlier.  Unfortunately we didn't know who was blowing up Mosques and setting explosives for American troops until they blow up Mosques and set off road bombs, repeatedly, and until our troops developed relationships and trust with witnesses and civilians enough to tell us what they know about the insurgents and locations.

The small footprint, 100,000 in a country of 25 million, limited our ability to get the job done, but a larger footprint might also have flailed away in the early insurgency. A larger footprint would have meant more targets early on for the enemy, possibly more loss of American life during the worst parts of the war, and perhaps more collateral Iraqi civilian damage, turning them even more against us.  In other words, to have gone stronger - earlier - with the wrong strategy would have had its own consequences.

I blame others more than I blame Bush-Rumsfeld.  I blame our so-called allies who for the most part were absent, starting with Turkey who IIRC blocked a key entry/supply route right from the beginning.  I blame our domestic opposition who while troops were in harm's way were constantly sending the message that the American commitment was fragile and temporary.  Our troops fought through the domestic political bullshit bravely, but the enemy was certainly energized by it, causing more loss of life on both sides than was otherwise necessary.   And I blame our media for the same.  They overplayed the death toll and terror accomplishments of the enemy (was a ground war in the heart of the middle east supposed to be easy?) and they missing the real story line (Michael Yon was almost the sole exception to this) of what a brave, amazing, wonderful and historic accomplishment we were actually in the process of achieving by deposing this thug and leaving behind a republic if they choose to keep it.  JMHO.
5521  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Amercian Creed / Limited Government: Government Motors continued on: July 04, 2009, 08:14:45 PM
U.S. Govt. sets out to design more efficient cars, picking winners and losers.  Whatever happened to level playing field and equal treatment under the law?  Let's see...we own GM, these contracts are to Ford, Nissan and Tesla.  Can you imagine having a financial interest in the auto interest and NOT having a lobbyist well-connected in the Obama administration? Just as the founders envisioned it all...  sad

U.S. to Start Financing Efficient Car Design

Published: June 23, 2009

After months of uncertainty, the Energy Department is beginning to lend money from a $25 billion loan program to develop fuel-efficient cars. Ford Motor Company, Nissan Motor Company and Tesla Motors are slated to get the first round of loans.

Energy Secretary Steven Chu is scheduled to make the announcement of the loans on Tuesday, according to several wire service reports that quoted unnamed sources. Absent from the loan program are General Motors and Chrysler, two companies that have asked for billions of dollars in loans, but are prevented from receiving aid under terms of the program because they do not qualify as “financially viable” companies.

Ford will receive $440 million to help convert a Michigan sports-utility factory to build small cars. The company, as recently as late last year, had sought a total of $11 billion from the program as part of a seven-year program to invest $14 billion in advance technologies.

Ford has plans to bring a battery-powered car to market in 2010, and other models by 2012. Ford had previously announced plans to seek federal loans to convert three large plants that make large trucks and S.U.V.’s into making smaller, more fuel-efficient cars.

The Energy Department program had been closely watched within the auto industry and Congress. It is one of the one of the few avenues of federal aid to build a new generation of fuel-efficient and battery-powered vehicles.

Uncertainty over the financial condition of General Motors and Chrysler slowed the program. About 75 companies, ranging from start-ups to the Big Three, had applied, asking for a total of $38 billion.

General Motors had said that the $8.3 billion it was seeking would be used for the development of the Chevy Volt, a plug-in hybrid car. Chrysler had been asking for $5 billion. Both companies had been lobbying heavily for the money.

While the program was restricted to American automakers, Nissan submitted a plan for one of its American plants. The amount received by Nissan was not disclosed. Nissan is developing an all-electric car with 100 miles of battery range for release in 2010. The car is to be made in Japan initially, but eventually it would be built in Nissan’s plant in Smyrna, Tenn.

With Korea, Japan and China making advances in battery technology, there are concerns that if the United States does not make breakthroughs in this area, it will cede the electric-car market to foreign competitors.
5522  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Energy Politics & Science on: July 04, 2009, 08:00:18 PM
Raising energy costs will boost job growth? Newt has a nice way of pointing out what to me seems obvious.  Why don't they tell us that destroying the economy as we know it is worth it to save the planet instead of telling us with a straight face that the largest tax increase in history is a jobs, jobs, jobs bill?
Newt Gingrich: Cap-and-Trade is another way of saying 2+2=5

By: Newt Gingrich
Examiner Columnist | 6/26/09 6:44 AM

The Obama White House has spent the week furiously working to convince its fellow Democrats in Congress to support the global warming bill that's before the House today. Former Vice President Al Gore has been working the phones, and there was even a luau at the White House last night.

The question that must be asked, however, is why? If the case is closed on man's role in causing climate change, as the left assure us that it is, then why the need to twist Democratic arms to do something about it?

My guess is it has something to do with 2+2=4.

This simple arithmetic - 2+2=4 - was a rallying cry during the Polish Solidarity freedom movement in the 1980s. It meant that, even though the government would try to tell the people that 2+2=5, to be free, the people had to tell the truth, that 2+2=4. Because to deny the truth was to deny reality, and to do that was to surrender freedom to the government.

Something similar is happening with the global warming bill.

The sponsors of the global warming bill, which is known as Waxman-Markey, are telling Americans that not only will the legislation save us from calamitous climate change, it will also produce new jobs and new prosperity by transitioning America to new forms of "green" energy.

In other words, under Waxman-Markey, there's no trade-off necessary to save the planet; no price to be paid. It's a win-win-win.

Right. And 2+2=5.

The reality is that the bill before the House today imposes what could be the largest tax increas
5523  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Environmental issues: Treason to be unalarmed ?? on: July 04, 2009, 07:49:34 PM
We know the earth will warm 9 degrees this century because of the 1/2 of 1 degree of warming last century. ?

We know there will be continuous acceleration of future warming because of the uninterrupted warming in the past.  Oops, it was erratic, inconsistent and unexplainable in the past.

We know all alarmism is true because all scientists say so.  Except for these 700+ or these 31,000:

Without further adieu, in the absence of two-sided heated debate here I give Paul Krugman calling for the stoning to death of all moderate skeptics who may happen to think differently than him:

Op-Ed Columnist  New York Times

Betraying the Planet

Published: June 28, 2009

So the House passed the Waxman-Markey climate-change bill. In political terms, it was a remarkable achievement.

But 212 representatives voted no. A handful of these no votes came from representatives who considered the bill too weak, but most rejected the bill because they rejected the whole notion that we have to do something about greenhouse gases.

And as I watched the deniers make their arguments, I couldn’t help thinking that I was watching a form of treason — treason against the planet.

To fully appreciate the irresponsibility and immorality of climate-change denial, you need to know about the grim turn taken by the latest climate research.

The fact is that the planet is changing faster than even pessimists expected: ice caps are shrinking, arid zones spreading, at a terrifying rate. And according to a number of recent studies, catastrophe — a rise in temperature so large as to be almost unthinkable — can no longer be considered a mere possibility. It is, instead, the most likely outcome if we continue along our present course.

Thus researchers at M.I.T., who were previously predicting a temperature rise of a little more than 4 degrees by the end of this century, are now predicting a rise of more than 9 degrees. Why? Global greenhouse gas emissions are rising faster than expected; some mitigating factors, like absorption of carbon dioxide by the oceans, are turning out to be weaker than hoped; and there’s growing evidence that climate change is self-reinforcing — that, for example, rising temperatures will cause some arctic tundra to defrost, releasing even more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

Temperature increases on the scale predicted by the M.I.T. researchers and others would create huge disruptions in our lives and our economy. As a recent authoritative U.S. government report points out, by the end of this century New Hampshire may well have the climate of North Carolina today, Illinois may have the climate of East Texas, and across the country extreme, deadly heat waves — the kind that traditionally occur only once in a generation — may become annual or biannual events.

In other words, we’re facing a clear and present danger to our way of life, perhaps even to civilization itself. How can anyone justify failing to act?

Well, sometimes even the most authoritative analyses get things wrong. And if dissenting opinion-makers and politicians based their dissent on hard work and hard thinking — if they had carefully studied the issue, consulted with experts and concluded that the overwhelming scientific consensus was misguided — they could at least claim to be acting responsibly.

But if you watched the debate on Friday, you didn’t see people who’ve thought hard about a crucial issue, and are trying to do the right thing. What you saw, instead, were people who show no sign of being interested in the truth. They don’t like the political and policy implications of climate change, so they’ve decided not to believe in it — and they’ll grab any argument, no matter how disreputable, that feeds their denial.

Indeed, if there was a defining moment in Friday’s debate, it was the declaration by Representative Paul Broun of Georgia that climate change is nothing but a “hoax” that has been “perpetrated out of the scientific community.” I’d call this a crazy conspiracy theory, but doing so would actually be unfair to crazy conspiracy theorists. After all, to believe that global warming is a hoax you have to believe in a vast cabal consisting of thousands of scientists — a cabal so powerful that it has managed to create false records on everything from global temperatures to Arctic sea ice.

Yet Mr. Broun’s declaration was met with applause.

Given this contempt for hard science, I’m almost reluctant to mention the deniers’ dishonesty on matters economic. But in addition to rejecting climate science, the opponents of the climate bill made a point of misrepresenting the results of studies of the bill’s economic impact, which all suggest that the cost will be relatively low.

Still, is it fair to call climate denial a form of treason? Isn’t it politics as usual?

Yes, it is — and that’s why it’s unforgivable.

Do you remember the days when Bush administration officials claimed that terrorism posed an “existential threat” to America, a threat in whose face normal rules no longer applied? That was hyperbole — but the existential threat from climate change is all too real.

Yet the deniers are choosing, willfully, to ignore that threat, placing future generations of Americans in grave danger, simply because it’s in their political interest to pretend that there’s nothing to worry about. If that’s not betrayal, I don’t know what is.
5524  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: July 03, 2009, 08:55:11 AM
The Washington Post escapade reminds me of the Mark Sanford tryst.  The Post 'journalists' worked so hard for so long to build their own power and contacts in the rising leftist movement and they worked so hard to achieve the mutual adoration of the hate-America crowd that now take offices as high officials in the Obama administration and they feel so unappreciated for all that they have accomplished, with so many people just reading their content on the internet for free, taking their hard work for granted, with classified money lost to craigslist and their beautiful Sunday edition sold out to the grocery coupon high bidder, who would not lust for the money, power and glamour of selling these contacts to the CEOs that could actually cash in the new multi-trillion dollar boondoggle that they worked so hard to create?  Caught up in the excitement they forgot it might look bad once exposed.

It is very telling of the bankrupt newspaper business today that within the publisher's staff after just 6 months of the Obama administration NO ONE could either remember that they were supposed to maintain at least a public facade of neutrality or no one had the nerve to point that out to the boss before the invitations went out.  Unbelievable.
5525  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Energy Politics & Science on: July 03, 2009, 08:36:41 AM
Guinness, great post regarding wind. I am not against wind energy it's just important to keep in perspective that as we increase our investment in it, hopefully private and voluntary, that it will continue to make up closer to 1-2% of thepower on the future grid.  That means 98% of our focus should be elsewhere. 

It is a tragedy that natural gas is 'wasted' on electrical generation since it is so extremely valuable for other uses.  Also a tragedy is our refusal to recognize the merits of nuclear, carbon-free, powerful and safe.  We had more deaths from a one-line 19mph light rail line here in one year than in the nationwide history of nuclear power. 

If we eventually invent the holy grail car battery and move most of the transportation sector energy to the electrical grid, where then does the additional carbon-neutral energy come from, not to mention grid capacity?

I can think of only two answers, sequestered coal and clean secure nuclear energy.

Back to wind, aside from the lengthy caveats about wind, that half the country isn't windy enough, that none is produced when the wind goes down and none is produced during shut down when the wind is too strong and that they litter, obstruct and dominate the natural landscape, there is a cost factor as well.  Best estimates I have read put the cost of wind at 5-times clean coal and solar at 15-times clean coal.  Given that disparity I think it wonderful if people choose of their free will to cover their roof with energy security and invest in their own wind tower on their own land, but not a solid payoff for public expenditure.
5526  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: June 26, 2009, 01:57:53 PM
Followup to CCP's point that the number one contributor to the Democratic party is the taxpayer: Before we turn all healthcare workers in America into public workers could we please disband all public employee unions.  In the case of public employment,  there is no evil capitalist, only the will of the people, and therefore there is no underlying justification for employees to organize.

Look at the proportion of teachers union money given to Democrats and imagine the new public unions of doctors, nurses, physicians assistants, radiology technicians, etc. etc. and their demands for more and more money, shorter hours, cushier benefits combined with their political contribution clout.  Reagan won't be there to fire them when they go on strike.

Brit/former Brit? Mark Stein said last week that after national health care starts, all elections are about waiting times for service.  In other words further diluting and obscuring your ability to reward or punish them for their votes on other issues such as war, foreign policy, taxes, spending, judicial confirmations, gun control, abortion, you name it.  It all becomes about health service.

Is that what YOU want?  Not me.
5527  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Education - Costs on: June 26, 2009, 01:40:55 PM
Deep thought inspired somewhere in my readings the past couple of days - maybe it was here.

Obama and the leftist machine contend that healthcare would be better if we spent less.  Let's apply same principle to education!
5528  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Education on: June 26, 2009, 01:26:11 PM
Taxpayers pay about 30k per student for a terrible education.  An alternative is proven far better at roughly 1/5 the cost.  And we can't win this argument??!!

Figuring an average class size of 25, we are using up taxpayer money at the rate of about $725,000 per classroom.  We should be able to get a good union teacher for that.  Can't really see any room for waste or abuse (sarc.)...  sad
5529  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Why the unrest in Iran NOW? on: June 26, 2009, 12:58:54 PM
This point was already mentioned but glossed over in Tom Frieman's NY Times piece recently and made again in the piece copied below.

The unrest, demonstrations, protests and public outcry in Iran comes directly from the fact that immediately across their borders they are acutely aware that the totalitarian regime is gone, the murderous bloody dictator was hanged, and in its place is an old fashioned (new fashioned?) electoral system out of an obscure and ridiculed  idea from George Bush and Dick Cheney where politicians must campaign and compete for voter approval and citizens receive a basic human right called 'consent of the governed'.  Who knew that such a ridiculed idea could try to spread to other oppressed people in the region??

From Powerline 6/24:

Paul Rahe is the distinguished intellectual historian and professor of history at Hillsdale College. Professor Rahe is the author, most recently, of Soft Despotism, Democracy's Drift: Montesquieu, Rousseau, Tocqueville, and the Modern Prospect. If any scholarly study in the history of political thought was ever timely, Soft Despotism is it.

Professor Rahe's new book has inspired much witty and learned commentary. Mark Steyn freely draws on the book in the lead article featured in the current issue of the New Criterion. The reviews by Professor Harvey Mansfield in the Weekly Standard and by William Voegeli in NR are must reading.

Professor Rahe has forwarded us his thoughts on the events in Iran:

    I spent the mid-1980s -- when the Iranian Revolution was young, when Hossein Mousavi was the Islamic Republic's Prime Minister, and the Iran-Iraq war underway -- in Istanbul as a fellow of the Institute of Current World Affairs, writing about Turkey primarily and also about Greece and Cyprus (which I visited with some frequency). In previous years, I had closely followed events in Iran, and I continued to do so while residing nearby. I was at the time haphazardly working on a book that would bear the title Republics Ancient and Modern: Classical Republicanism and the American Revolution, and I was fascinated by the progress of a revolution that was at the time same theocratic and republican.

    I can remember thinking that the combination was likely to be unstable. The nascent regime might be led by a Supreme Leader drawn from the Shiite clergy and respected for his understanding of the Koran, and the Council of Guardians, whom he appointed, might veto legislation and carefully vet candidates for office with an eye to protecting the clerical regime, silencing its critics, and suppressing opposition. But the fact that the voters had a choice, that the candidates had to campaign, and that they had to tailor their campaigns with an eye to popular sentiment allowed in a fashion hard to circumscribe for the more or less free formation of public opinion.

    Something of the sort had taken place in ancient Athens under the rule of Peisistratus and his sons -- when the regime had been in form a republic and in reality a tyranny -- and, after the death of its founder, form asserted itself and reshaped political reality. In such a polity, semi-free elections may be necessary for the purpose of rallying popular support, but they also have the effect of confering a measure of authority on the populace and of suggesting to ordinary citizens that they have a role to play in public deliberation and in setting the polity's course. What began as a theocratic republic might easily evolve into something else. So I thought.

    In March, 2002, while on a visit to Istanbul, I had an opportunity to question an Iranian journalist as to the validity of my hypothesis. I had not been in Turkey for some years; I wanted to get a sense of what 9/11 meant in the one Muslim country I knew well; and I had been invited by another former fellow of the Institute of Current World Affairs to a dinner to which he had also invited a number of Turkish journalists.

    Michael Ledeen had been suggesting in articles published hither and yon that Iran might be on the verge of a revolution, and I began by asking my Iranian acquaintance what he thought of the likelihood. He responded that many of the men who ran the Islamic Republic had been graduate students in eastern Europe. "They know how to control a population, but they do not know how to control their own children," he observed. "There will some day be a revolution--but not any time soon. Iran will change in the manner in which China did--when a new generation comes to power."

    As I have tracked events over the last few days, I have come back to that conversation again and again. I have no idea whether my Iranian acquaintance was accurate in describing the educational background of many of the Iranian leaders, but I have long suspected that he was correct in his estimation of their ability to keep the population in line and of their inability to control their own progeny. Five things are nonetheless clear.

    First, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad did not win anything like 63 percent of the vote in the recent election. Over the last four years, he has brought Iran to the edge of economic disaster; many Iranians are fully aware of their plight; and the authorities, fearful that he would go down to defeat, rigged the entire process from the start. Second, the ruling order in Iran is bitterly split over what amounts to a coup d'état. Third, the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has put his prestige and that of the regime itself on the line. Fourth, the people of Iran are aware that they have been hoodwinked, and the Islamic Republic is now without a shred of legitimacy. And, finally, if the police and the militia should prove unable to control the crowds in Teheran, and if the Revolutionary Guard is called out and the guardsmen refuse to fire on their fellow citizens, things really will come apart.

    If the authorities manage to restore order (as, I suspect, they will), the pot will nonetheless continue to boil -- unless they resort to severe repression and purge those within their own ranks who lent support, open or tacit, to the demonstrators. But if they do this, they will at the same time seriously narrow the base of the regime's support, and that will only hasten the day of reckoning. As Reuel Marc Gerecht argues in a trenchant piece in the Weekly Standard, we are witnessing a game-changing moment.

    From all of this, the supporters of George W. Bush's policy in Iraq should draw consolation, for the elections that took place in that country under the American aegis contributed mightily to the discontent in Iran. The people of Iran were witness to the emergence within Iraq of a secular republic sponsored by an Iranian cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, possessed of an erudition and an authority rivalling and arguably surpassing that of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran. They were witness to elections that were really free and to public debate open in ways that debate within the Islamic Republic is not. Morever, in Quom, the stronghold of the Shiite clergy, the clerics who most fully command respect have long rejected, as contrary to Shiite tradition and the interest of Islam, the path of direct clerical rule pursued by Khomeini.

    Iran today looks something like England in the wake of Oliver Cromwell's death. There has been a religious revolution; it never commanded full popular support; it is now seen, even by many of its most ardent supporters, to be a failure; and there will be a scramble to attempt to sustain the polity it produced. Ordinarily, American leverage does not amount to much. In this situation, it could nonetheless be considerable. Economically Iran is on the ropes. If we keep the pressure on, following the policy of the Bush administration, the regime may in fact collapse. If, however, in the interests of stability, in the manner of the so-called "realists," the Obama administration opts to take the pressure off and, in effect, bails out Iran's bankrupt regime, it may stumble on for some years to come.
5530  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: ACTION items on: June 26, 2009, 12:49:57 PM
Marc,  Thanks for the new thread today for this.  I had the exact same thought last night and wanted to share the same plea for others to do the same.  I wrote to Rep. Collin Peterson D-MN from an address I have in his out-state district.  He is Chair of the House Ag. Committee that allegedly 'won' concessions for ethanol producers in exchange for the votes of moderate Dems in farm districts on the carbon tax.  I wrote something like:

'Please oppose the current carbon tax legislation.  If you vote with the Speaker over the People on this issue you can't know how tirelessly I will work to help defeat you in the future.  Sincerely, Doug M....'


Even more important is to defeat socialized medicine so please stay tuned, but the light switch / exhale tax is the focus today!

When Obama says he will tax only the heavy polluters he means YOU if you happen to drive or plug things into outlets.  So much for the lie about no tax increase on people making under a quarter million.
5531  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Astronomy on: June 22, 2009, 04:37:12 PM
BBG, Amazing photo!!  Curious, do they apply for a greenhouse gas permit before eruption or, like Communist China, is God excluded from Kyoto jurisdiction?
5532  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: U.S. Census 2010, Give the Govt your information? on: June 20, 2009, 03:11:23 PM
Sadly, this topic, counting Americans for representation in congress and in the electoral college, could have been included under ACORN/Voter Fraud.

If they are counting illegals and not checking citizenship, will they get increased representation?? (yes)

Should you give them any more of their private data than they already have?  The law supposedly requires you to answer all (?) of their questions.  Seems to me they only have a right to kjnow the number of people in your household.

Bachmann says she'll withhold info on census form

Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann admits she is withholding information on her 2010 census form.

She told the Washington Times she’s worried some of the information given on the form could be abused by the Association of Community Organizers for Reform Now.

The group, known as ACORN, is a community organization which fell under fire for its voter registration efforts last year.

She says the only information she’ll list is the number of people living in her household.

In an interview with The Washington Times, the Republican said the questions have become "very intricate, very personal."

Shelly Owe, a spokeswoman for the bureau, told the Washington Times Bachmann is "misreading" the law.

She sent a portion of the U.S. legal code that says anyone older than 18 who refuses to answer "any of the questions" on the census can be fined up to $5,000.
5533  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Way Forward for Reps/Conservatives/the American Creed on: June 20, 2009, 02:48:01 PM
Must steal this Milton Friedman wisdom from BBG post in the healthcare debate and apply it to all issues:

What should we do about it? Ideally, Friedman argued, we should reverse the mistake that started all the trouble... Yet Friedman was a realist. Vested interests, he recognized, would make such a radical reform impossible. Instead he believed we should seek incremental changes, asking of each proposal simply whether it would move [the issue in question] "in the right direction."
5534  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics, Is printing money inflationary? on: June 20, 2009, 02:42:25 PM
Paul Krugman of Princeton / NY Times is the icon of current liberal economics.  His criticism that the stimulus is too small gives the print and spend crowd much needed cover.  Don't be fooled by his Nobel peace prize - terrorist Yasser Arafat and appeaser Jimmy Carter each have one too!

Krugman is arguing that the plan to borrow / print 10 trillion or so in the current forecast is not inflationary, because ... well, we need the money.  Economist Alan Reynolds takes him to task in Forbes this week on his history and logic.

Krugman's Liquidity Claptrap
Alan Reynolds, 06.19.09, 12:00 AM EDT
The laureate gets his history wrong.

In his June 15 column, "Stay the Course," Paul Krugman suggests it is simply foolish to worry that the government could possibly borrow too much, or that the Federal Reserve might buy ("monetize") too much of that debt.

In a closely related blog, claiming Art Laffer is "way off base" about future inflation, Krugman insisted "for the 1.6 trillionth time, we are in a liquidity trap." That makes 1.6 trillion times he's been wrong about that.

His column says, "A rising monetary base isn't inflationary when you're in a liquidity trap. America's monetary base doubled between 1929 and 1939; prices fell 19%. Japan's monetary base rose 85% between 1997 and 2003; deflation continued apace."

A 100% increase in the U.S. monetary over 10 years (1929-1939) amounts to just 7% a year. That is scarcely comparable to the 113% increase over the past 12 months. Besides, the 1930s do not support his "liquidity trap" argument once we examine what happened when.

To say U.S. prices fell 19% from 1929 to 1939, for example, means they fell much more than 19% from 1929 to 1933 before rising from 1934 to 1937 when the monetary base was growing.

With the exception of a brief Fed easing in the spring of 1932, the U.S. monetary base was generally falling or flat from January 1929 to early 1934. From March 1934 to July 1937, by contrast, the rate of growth of the monetary base jumped above 16% on a year-to-year basis. If we had been in a "liquidity trap" that would have had no effect. Yet real gross domestic product grew by 9.5% a year from 1934 to 1937, and consumer prices by 2.6% a year. Since the facts contradict his liquidity trap thesis, Krugman pretends the rebound after 1933 was "helped along by New Deal policies."

On the contrary, Christina Romer's research clearly demonstrates that strong rebound of 1934-37 was "helped along" by a 42% increase in the money supply. She found, "monetary developments were very important and fiscal policy was of little consequence ... Even in 1942, the year that the economy returned to its trend path, the effects of fiscal policy were small."

In his blog, Krugman argues that "a Friedman-style focus on a broad monetary aggregate gives the false impression that Fed policy wasn't very expansionary. But it was; the problem was that since banks weren't lending out their reserves and people were keeping cash in mattresses, the Fed couldn't expand M2."

In any bank crises, the public wants to hold more currency rather than bank deposits, and banks also want excess reserves as insurance against bank runs. Japan's central never adequately accommodated that demand for bank reserves and currency before 2001 (if then) nor did the Fed in 1929-33. But that does not mean (as the liquidity trap implies) that monetary policy was impotent and merely "pushing on a string."

Once monetary policy stopped pulling and started pushing after 1933, both real output and prices went up. Krugman then turns to Japan from 1997 to 2003 as his second bad analogy with current Fed policy. Although Japan's "lost decade" began in 1992, Krugman starts with 1997. Why? Because Japan's monetary base grew very slowly before then. The Bank of Japan did not try even a mild dose of "quantitative easing" until March 19, 2001, and it may have helped. Economic growth was 2.7% in both 2004 and 1996, so Krugman talks only about 1997 to 2003.

Krugman's other reason for starting with 1997 is to argue that Japan's economy slipped into recession that year because the budget deficit shrunk too much. He says, "Japan experienced a partial recovery, with the economy growing almost 3% in 1996. Policy makers responded by shifting their focus to the budget deficit, raising taxes and cutting spending. Japan proceeded to slide back into recession." This Keynesian focus on deficits is untenable: Japan's budget deficit reached 10.7% of GDP by 1998--up from 4% in 1996.

What really happened is a classic example of "intertemporal shifting" to avoid a tax hike. In 1996, Japanese consumers knew the consumption tax (VAT) was scheduled to rise from 3% to 5% in April 1997. So they rushed to stock up on big-ticket items in 2006 before the tax increase. That tax-induced shopping spree artificially boosted GDP in 1996 at the expense of 1997-1999.

Even if Krugman's two historical examples of an alleged liquidity trap were not so obviously flawed, he also never managed to tie them in any way to recent events. His only (flawed) evidence of a liquidity trap in the 1930s was that "the Fed couldn't expand M2."

Yet Krugman's claim about the Fed's inability to increase M2 during liquidity traps proves for the 1.6 trillionth time that we are NOT in a liquidity trap! M2 increased by 14.8% from August to February, thus lifting M2's year-to-year increase to 9% in May from 5.3% last August.

If Paul Krugman hopes to base his sanguine inflationary forecasts and go-go policy advice on historical analogies, he needs to (1) get the history right, and (2) show how that history is comparable to recent experience. On both counts, he failed. Again.

Alan Reynolds is a senior fellow with the Cato Institute.
5535  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: June 20, 2009, 12:28:49 PM
Thank you Freki for a great post.  Bankruptcy is only bad news if you didn't already know that the firm had failed financially. 

Those who make the argument that an airline, automaker, brokerage or insurance company is too big to fail are the same ones IMO who do not understand or favor market capitalism in the first place.  President Obama to my knowledge has not read a book about free market capitalism that does not oppose it.  Same I'm sure can be said about Pelosi, Reid, Durban, Barney Frank, Ted Kennedy and the rest of the current power structure.

Failure is the lifeblood of capitalism and new growth.  It puts a market check, price check and reality check on ideas, strategies and organizations.  Out of failure comes re-priced assets and human talent free to start new and better enterprises.  The sooner failed enterprises fail, the sooner that better, more efficient and more innovative ones can emerge.

Too big to fail is a perfect description for the old Soviet economy.  There was no dynamic movement of resources and capital to its most efficient use.  By refusing to recognize failure of the large, bureaucratic, inefficient, non-competitive enterprises, they blocked the emergence of newer and better ones.  Eventually the whole house of cards came crashing down.  Every day under this regime we look more and more like them.
5536  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: June 19, 2009, 11:59:49 AM
GM wrote: "I don't see how the economy will turn out alright after Obanomics drives us into unimaginable debt... remaining axis of evil nations are running does this portend a recovery?:

I think of it as Obama-recession-I and Obama-recession-II.  

The first was caused by unaffordable global energy, the collapse of US housing market and the scares of the financial meltdown and panic to sell assets ahead of the impending anti-investment policies of the new government.  Energy has come back down quickly as a reaction to collapsed global demand (poised to spike again and kill the next recovery). Housing - still a flood of foreclosures with collapsed values but the damage is done and the remaining stock to fail is finite.  And there has been a delay for most of the impending economy-killers:  tax rates are mostly unchanged, cap/trade doubtful, national healthcare - mostly scaled back (?).  

I've read that the new spending has a 0.7 stimulation effect meaning some short term help but not worth the investment, the cost and the debt burden that follows.  The catastrophe of the new debt is tomorrow's elephant in the room, but not preventing mild recovery now.

I agree with GM's point that anti-growth policies will kill off the new recovery, but that will be a new recession/stagnation certain to follow enactment of their agenda.

Same for inflation.  As we gear up to start measuring the Obama-Misery-Index.  the first dollar bills with the Geithner picture are already being fitted for lettering that could just as well say: 'One U.S. Fifty Cent Piece'.  

Obama-Pelosi-Leftism can be slowed.  Not just by decisive midterm elections, but as Bush proved, opinion and approval polls matter.  
5537  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Issues in the American Creed (Constitutional Law and related matters) on: June 16, 2009, 12:02:32 AM
Looks to me like 49 states derive individual rights from the Creator.  Missing from the list: Vermont, District of Columbia and one poster here who believes the right of a store in suburban Paris to sell products of their own choosing, free from disruption, is derived from LA County and the 9th Circuit, not from the Creator.
5538  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tax Policy on: June 15, 2009, 11:36:32 PM
Huss, Just getting back to you...  Huss wrote: "Doug,  We do business in Brazil, India, The Republic of Georgia and Israel on a regular basis.  Right now we are quoting Aerospace work in Brazil and for the life of me, I can not get the Brazilians to commit to a long term agreement in U.S $.  The Indians just signed a contract with us in Canadian dollars and the Georgians will only take U.S $'s as a last resort..."

The dollars slide covers about the time that I have been out of exporting unfortunately.  A so-called strong dollar was a problem also.

Seems to me that if Brazilians do not want to commit to buy(?) longer term in US$ they are expressing lack of confidence in their own currency?
5539  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Food Inc. The Movie on: June 15, 2009, 11:09:49 PM
"Food Inc."  - Name implies monopoly/conspiracy but the industry exhibits all of the opposite attributes: highly competitive, productive, falling prices, intense competition, etc.

"it's easy to know where to point the finger, since the biggest meat-processing companies and agribusiness firms profiled in the film -- Smithfield, Tyson, Perdue, Monsanto -- universally declined to provide any access or on-camera interviews."  - It would appear that this is intended to be an attack film on their business.  Declining to participate after watching the chopping of Michael Moore's films like Columbine makes perfect sense to me.

"production of food has changed more in the last 50 years than it did in the previous 10,000."  -  Yes.  For the better (?)

"With the massive application of fertilizers, pesticides and economies of scale"  - It is a massive industry.  everything is massive.  Are they being wasteful?  I don't see why they would they more fertilizer or pesticide than necessary for healthy crops with expensive materials, scarce resources and low margins?

"industry dominated by a handful of big companies who run on low-wage labor"  - No. Small operators can hire low wage labor.  It is dominated by big companies because of the high cost of the machinery necessary to operate at this level of productivity and competitive profit margins.

"In one remarkable example Pollan provides, the meat in a single fast-food burger might have come from 400 different cows."  - Okay, but are the cows different?  Same genetics raised and fed the exact same way?

"This change has had obvious benefits for consumers.[the film takes pains to notice."  - Good. The Prices would be even more affordable if we weren't stealing farmland to grow energy and if we weren't artificially driving up the cost of fuel to operate food production.

"[Organic]" represents about 3 percent of the total food market."  That is the market making a choice.  " If you surmise that that 3 percent correlates strongly with upper-middle-class, college-educated folks in coastal cities and college towns, you're probably right."  - No.  The affluent in America that can afford to eat well make up a majority, not 3% and the biggest nutritional issue of the non-affluent in America is over-consumption.  They are not faced with no choices,; they are making wrong choices IMO.

"Food, Inc. will inevitably be compared to "An Inconvenient Truth" (and there are undeniable similarities)"  - From the piece, I definitely agree.  Same logic strings are used. Examples below.

Kenner explores cases of E. coli poisoning (from tainted ground beef) - Is there a higher percentage of poisoned food now than previously?  I doubt it and he didn't say.

"...a food production system that is so destructive to human health"  - We keep dying younger and younger...  Oops, it's just the opposite.  We are living longer and longer:

"When Walmart decided to stop selling dairy products from cows treated with bovine growth hormone, the market for such hormones went south, and most farmers stopped using it."  - There's a market solution.  Did low prices end with that correction?  No.

"When McDonald's decided to phase out genetically modified potatoes"  Yet they are still on they dollar menu...

"a few million people demanding grass-fed beef at Safeway, Giant Food and Food Lion could transform the system virtually overnight"  - Offer a choice or demand a prohibition?

"This inexpensive food is coming to us at a high cost."  - Uh, we still don't know that.

"what makes it all the more powerful is that you have to eat this stuff."  - Of course that is not true.  We all still have the option to raise our own food if we are so inclined.

"It’s wonderful how little it costs, but we’re starting to see the real damage it does."  - Uh no, still not demonstrated.

"And we’re having growth in farmer’s markets, and hopefully that will empower smaller farmers as well."  - Is the implied monopoly trying to close them down or are they competing successfully on price and quality?

Do people have to get their heads around the idea that food really shouldn't be as cheap as it is now?"  - The old soften the premise with a question mark trick.

"when he was a kid, food cost about 18 percent of the average American's income. Today that food costs 9.7 percent of our income. Basically it’s been cut in half over a 40- to 50-year period. But medical costs have gone from 5 percent to 18 percent, so in aggregate, we’re spending more money for medicine and for food today than we used to."  - Wow!  That is logic right out of inconvenient truth.  He should give credit to Al Gore.  Also to Obama.  The text did not say that the increased productivity in food production caused the tripling of health costs, but the cadence and the flow pretends that it did.  Very impressive, and no unnecessary scientific studies wasted to back it up, lol.

"But it's coming at a cost, and that’s one of the things that we try to point out. They're invisible costs; you might not see them at the checkout counter. One-third of all Americans born after the year 2000 are going to have early-onset diabetes."  - Wow! That came out of nowhere.  The reader smarter than me must already know that it is caused by improved food production. My guess would have been lazy lifestyles, paying people to do nothing and a more aggressive diabetes diagnostic industry.

"That's going to bankrupt the healthcare system."  - I thought he was a 'filmmaker'.  Now he is an expert on everything?

"Environmentally, we’re going to have tremendously high costs. Ultimately a large part of our carbon footprint is due to this food system."  - Environmentally we would have had to cut down and farm every rainforest on the planet to get this kind of production 'the old way'.

"This food is grown in an unsustainable way, it's based on gasoline and it’s based on pollution."   - I think he means diesel fuel but go with it...

"When gasoline prices spike, it's going to make this food very expensive."   - Gasoline is going to spike because of public policy choices, not unsustainability.

"We can no longer drink the water in some farm states."  - When was our water supply ever better than right now?  Where I live it is cleaner now than 50 years ago.

"Our topsoil has become totally depleted."  - That argument wasn't proven last time it came up either.  His use of exaggeration makes it patently false and reason to suspect other problems with the propaganda.  I can see why business people might not want to go on-camera with him.  Totally depleted??

"And this food that we’re eating has far less nutritional value than the food we used to eat..."  - Our ability to have fresh fruits and vegetables at a reasonable cost in all seasons especially in the extreme climate that I live in is nothing short of amazing!  Tell me what fresh blueberries and oranges tasted like on the Minnesota prairie in a January blizzard during the 1800s.  Were they airlifted in from California or Cenrtral America?  I don't think so.  Our choices are far better now IMO.
5540  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Limited Government on: June 12, 2009, 03:58:05 PM
Crafty,  You decide, but...

The constitution says: "promote the general welfare", which has come to mean bridge to nowhere, high speed rail, HDTV, fast internet, universal healthcare, private takings, spread the wealth around, regulating toilet flush volume and french fry fat content, freckled frog studies, borrowing in the trillions per year, and a thousand and fifty social welfare programs BEFORE W and Obama accelerated the pace.

Like you, I love the arguments over Supreme Court decisions, constitutional interpretations and what the founding fathers would think about what we have done lately.  But voters eyes seem to gloss over when we refer to the constitution in reference to things we are already doing.  Seems to me we need to sometimes argue for the concept of limited government for its own sake separate from its meaning that has long been discarded from our founding.

For example, the feds can promote the general welfare by buying up auto companies to avoid widespread job loss.  A Bush-Clinton-Obama court could rule it constitutional.  Still across the heartland it violates people's personal value of limited government which could and should politically shift the power back away from the powerful central government. JMO.   - Doug
5541  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Order of Ascendancy on: June 12, 2009, 01:20:06 PM
Thanks for compliments but I was dead serious with my Biden comment.  In my quest for more positive things to say about our President, Barack Hussein Obama, here are the top 5 reasons I toast his good health, safety and security, hoping for a full Obama term:

Order of Presidential Succession
 The Vice President:  Joseph Biden
 Speaker of the House: Nancy Pelosi
 President pro tempore of the Senate:  Robert Byrd
 Secretary of State:  Hillary Rodham Clinton
 Secretary of the Treasury: Timothy Geithner

5542  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Glibness D-Day Speech - 147 first person references on: June 12, 2009, 12:53:05 PM
Obama's "Gift" May Have a Downside
By Tom Bevan, Real Clear Politics

Barack Obama is good at giving speeches. So good, in fact, he once referred to it as his "gift." More than any other factor, Obama's rhetorical skills are responsible for his rapid rise to the presidency, beginning with his blockbuster speech at the 2004 convention and continuing through a nearly two year primary and general election campaign. Obama's penchant for soaring oratory remains a political asset, but signs are emerging there may be a political downside to all of the President's speechifying.

The first warning sign is that Obama is already pushing the limits of exposure. It seems Obama is everywhere and always speaking. It became apparent early on that the president's combination of charisma, eloquence, and popularity made it a political imperative that he become the Salesman in Chief. No other figure inside the administration had the star power and the persuasiveness to sell the transformational policy changes sought by this White House.

That said, in the first five months of his presidency Obama has held three prime time news conferences, twelve formal Q&A sessions and has delivered a number of high profile policy addresses (in addition to other exposure like interviews and appearances), each one amplified by extensive coverage by the media. The President's willingness to step inside America's living room at every possible opportunity may help cause the early onset of Obama fatigue.

Not only does Obama speak often, but his speeches also appear to be growing longer. And here we thought Joe Biden was the loquacious one. But Obama is proving the one to be incapable of brevity. The president's answers to questions at press conferences and in interviews can sometimes run upwards of five minutes of more. His remarks at daily public events can routinely run over 1,000 words. In the past month Obama has delivered 8 speeches running at least two thousand words each, including a nearly hour long address in Cairo last week and a mammoth 6,500 word discourse on national security on May 21.

Another issue is that Obama's oratory is starting to sound very formulaic. During the campaign, Obama excelled by repeating a well-honed stump speech about hope and change at hundreds of rallies across the country. Obama has adopted a similar approach as President, and the sheer volume of speeches he's given makes the pattern quite noticeable. In almost every speech, Obama bemoans the extremes on both the left and the right, predictably employing straw man arguments to discredit his opposition and position himself in the "reasonable" middle.

Lastly, Obama's speeches are often strikingly self referential. Clearly, Obama sees unique background and his life experiences as an asset and a rhetorical tool, which helps explain why his recent speech in Cairo was peppered with 68 first person references (I, me, my, or mine). But the habit carries over to other speeches as well, leaving the impression that Obama is often interested in talking about Obama.

In his speech honoring the 65th Anniversary of D-Day, for example, Obama made 10 first person references. While not a huge number in itself, it was eight more than Gordon Brown made and nine more than Stephen Harper made in their respective speeches that day. In his aforementioned national security speech on May 21, President Obama made an astounding 147 first person references.

Most important, however, Obama's high profile speechmaking on a range of big issues from restructuring GM to solving Middle East peace has dramatically increased the pressure on him to deliver results. As the Wall Street Journal put it on Monday, Obama is finding that "his own oratory laying out an ever-more-ambitious agenda, both in foreign and domestic policy, is ratcheting up demands for concrete achievements."

Obama's "gift" propelled him to the White House. He's now relying on it heavily to sell the American people on his vision of change. But at some point the public is going to get tired of hearing speeches from Obama, no matter how eloquent or well delivered. They will expect results. If Obama can't deliver those results, his "gift" will become a handicap in the form of a reputation as the president who talked the talk but couldn't walk the walk.

Tom Bevan is the co-founder and Executive Editor of RealClearPolitics.
5543  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The American Creed/Limited Government on: June 12, 2009, 12:33:50 PM
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I didn't see a topic for 'limited government' - maybe since it hasn't been pursued by either party in our lifetimes.  Could be put as 'way forward for conservatives' but even more important to me is to get reasonable Democrats to remember the value of concepts like 'limited government'.   - Doug

June 12, 2009
New Bill Ends Government-Run Companies
By John Thune

The federal government currently holds various ownership stakes in over 500 private companies. This alarming fact, along with the events of recent days in the auto industry, should serve as a wakeup call for all those concerned about preserving the free market principles upon which our nation was founded. As we have been so rudely reminded, government ownership of private companies threatens the fairness of markets, creates coercive business conditions, and allows government bureaucrats to dictate business decisions.

Government ownership interests in private companies create an uneven playing field. Companies aided by the government are given an unfair competitive advantage that private companies do not enjoy. Because of this influence, government entities distort the competitive process and lead to inefficient market outcomes which favor the government-owned entity.

Greater government involvement in private companies also fosters coercion and government manipulation. In the last six months, the federal government has fired CEOs of major corporations, intervened in advertising and production decisions, pressured businesses to make certain decisions and take certain public policy positions, and coordinated "pre-arranged" bankruptcy filings designed to reward the government's "friends." Instead of the private hand of the market guiding market activities, the cold hand of political power is shaping business decisions.

The federal government now finds itself in the strange position of owning 60 percent of General Motors, one of the nation's oldest and largest car companies, and eight percent of Chrysler. To reach this point, creditors who thought they held positions superior to other creditors were sent to the back of the line so that government-favored creditors could receive favorable treatment. Those who opposed the government-imposed solution and the outrageous division of assets were branded as trouble-making "speculators."

Now in control of several private institutions, the federal government will have the power to make management decisions. Instead of being guided by the discipline of the market, however, government owned companies are free to pursue the social goals of government bureaucrats, whether they be certain kinds of cars, loans to preferred demographics, or the latest demands of government-favored unions. Whether these experiments are unprofitable may not matter in the same way that it would for privately-owned companies. Unlike their privately owned counterparts, these government owned companies benefit from untold billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars, without any guarantee of repayment in the future.

This state of affairs sounds so strange because it is so new. The heightened degree of government control of our economy is a major deviation from our nation's free-market philosophy. From the beginning of our republic, the economic sector has largely been dominated by privately owned firms competing with one another without the government dictating how these firms should act. But with little warning, we have entered a brave new world in which a large number of private firms are now subject to government control, an economic model perhaps familiar in Europe or South America, but not the United States.

Neither the citizens of this republic nor their elected representatives in Washington voted for this degree of government control over private businesses. Instead, what was supposed to be a short-term program to relieve financial institutions of toxic assets morphed into an uncontrolled and unauthorized bureaucracy extending its tentacles into hundreds of private businesses. With no explicit vote of Congressional approval, the federal government is now in the business of running banks, insurance companies, and car manufacturers.

To stop this dangerous course of action, I have introduced the Government Ownership Exit Plan Act. This legislation would put an immediate end to government purchases of additional direct ownership interests of private companies. It would also prohibit government officials from making or influencing business decisions when it comes to the companies in which the government already has an ownership interest.

It is equally important to set an exit strategy for this unprecedented government intrusion. The Government Ownership Exit Plan sets a hard deadline for the final termination of government ownership interests in private companies and puts our economy back on the path to competitiveness and private ownership, not governmental control. The legislation would require the Treasury to sell any ownership stake in a private entity by July 1, 2010. Revenue from the sale of these assets would be used for debt reduction.

If we do not act now, government ownership of these private entities could persist for decades. If we want to once again promote free market principles and the private ownership of business, it is time to act.

Thune is a Republican Senator from South Dakota.
5544  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants on: June 12, 2009, 12:26:35 PM
CCP: "[Obama] means a lot more than hje is saying"

Scott Johnson, Powerlineblog today:
In his Rhetoric, Aristotle teaches that a good speech necessarily draws on ethos (the speaker's power of evincing a personal character which will make his speech credible), pathos (the speaker's power of stirring the emotions of his audience) and logos (argument). Paul's analysis focuses on logos to the exclusion of ethos and pathos.

Obama's flattery of his Muslim audience with historical howlers cannot be understood apart from ethos and pathos. In part the flattery supports Obama's declaration of the uncomfortable historical truth of the Holocaust. As rhetoric, Obama's falsehoods give him the standing with his audience necessary to advance a painful truth.

One cannot understand a given passage without considering its effect upon the hearers. The topic sentences of the two paragraphs of the initial passage in issue read as follows:

    Around the world, the Jewish people were persecuted for centuries, and anti-Semitism in Europe culminated in an unprecedented Holocaust.

    On the other hand, it is also undeniable that the Palestinian people - Muslims and Christians - have suffered in pursuit of a homeland.

While Obama does not himself explicitly equate the sufferings of the Jewish people with those of "the Palestinian people," the structure of the passage does so for him. And this is of course how his intended audience would hear the words. Note as well how Obama includes Christians and excludes Jews from his definition of "the Palestinian people." It is an exclusion that conflicts with history but that serves his rhetorical purposes.
5545  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: U.S. Census 2010 on: June 11, 2009, 01:07:34 PM
I don't know why the govt is allowed to ask or keep track of 90% of what they do, and then for the important matters like verifying citizenship - they don't...  Meanwhile get ready for impostors to come by (and for ACORN/Census double agents to 'share' your info)

Be cautious answering census questions
Bureau employees won't use e-mail and won't ask for Social Security or bank numbers
Thursday, June 11, 2009
By Larry Walsh, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Cooperative, but cautious.

That's the advice the Better Business Bureau is giving to consumers when they are contacted by members of the 2010 U.S. Census.

"Most people are rightfully cautious and won't give out personal information to unsolicited phone callers or visitors," said BBB President Warren King. "However, [Census Bureau employees are] an exception to the rule."

Those employees already have begun verifying the addresses of households across the country. Next, they will collect information about every person living at those addresses, including their name, age, gender, race and other relevant data.

"It's important that people provide that information," Mr. King said.

Census data is used to allocate more than $300 billion in federal funds every year. It also is used to determine the number of members each state may send to the U.S. House of Representatives.

Households are required by law to comply with the Census Bureau's request for information. Unfortunately, that mandate has opened the door for con artists who are posing as census workers and asking people for their Social Security, bank account or credit card numbers or other sensitive financial information.

Although the Census Bureau will collect information by mail, phone or personal visits, it won't use e-mail.

Those who receive an e-mail that purports to be from the Census Bureau, and the odds of receiving one are great, delete it. No matter how "official" it looks, delete it. And no one should ever click on a link or open any attachments in an e-mail that supposedly is from the Census Bureau.

Mr. King said law enforcement officials in several states have issued warnings that scammers posing as Census Bureau employees are knocking on doors and asking for donations and Social Security numbers.

How can the public tell the difference between a Census Bureau employee seeking legitimate information and a crook trying to raid their bank accounts or steal their identity?

Mr. King said census workers will have a badge, a handheld device, a census bureau bag and a confidentiality notice. Residents should ask to see their identification and badge before answering any questions.

If a visitor purporting to be from the Census Bureau asks for a Social Security number or financial information, the resident should not give it to them, should close the door and should call the local police.

"While the Census Bureau might ask for basic financial information, such as a salary range, it will not ask for Social Security, bank account or credit card numbers [and they won't] solicit donations," Mr. King said.

He said the BBB's "cooperative but cautious" campaign is part of a partnership arrangement with the Census Bureau to help it collect the most accurate information it can. The public can do its part by cooperating with legitimate Census Bureau employees and reporting the con artists to the police.
5546  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security / hacked jet on: June 11, 2009, 12:47:23 PM
My brother who is trained in avionics used to tell me that if I thought my cell phone would interfere with the planes navigation and control systems I shouldn't be flying.  Now I check email and download dbma forums to read on my handheld right up to the last minute.
I thought airliners had replaced electrical wires with fiber optics that are far lighter, more secure and zero EMI - susceptibility to electrical interference.  As I google the topic now I find that transition is not as far along as I thought:
5547  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors, glibness vs. settlements on: June 10, 2009, 01:11:04 PM
My take (even though they all wanted someone else  smiley) on this Stratfior piece - that Obama is in a position of strength and Netanyahu of weakness:  Strat is always insightful and thought provoking.  Their points are valid, but... I don't think Netanyahu puts clinging to power above clinging to his principles and his vision Israel's best interests.  Far as I know he never has. Obama is just the opposite.  He has swayed with the wind on dozens of issues and shows no sign of extraordinary backbone on this one. 

Israel lost at least part of an ally in the last 2 American elections.  Israel's strategy now is survival with or without the full support of the U.S.  The re-emergence of Netanyahu is a sign of that.

From Statfor: "[Israel] is not facing a situation like 1973, when Israeli survival depended on aid being rushed in from the United States. The technology transfer now runs both ways, and the United States relies on Israeli intelligence quite a bit. In other words, over the past generation, Israel has moved from a dependent relationship with the United States to one of mutual dependence."

To me, that is instructive.  The debate on the board recently over who needs whom the most misses the reality that the need is mutual.  Obama may not realize this yet as he learns the names of the intelligence agencies, after basketball practice and auto company board meetings.

Strat thinks Netanyahu's political survival rests on compliance with US demands.  Maybe so but a man based in principle isn't likely to cave based on opinion polls or a cling to power.  The assumption that Obama is an eternal legend with the everlasting excitement of his victory speech in Grant Park Chicago is fading.  Power dissipates with falling opinion polls.  Bush learned that.  At the peak of the exuberance, Obama won 28 states.  Bush won 31 states just 4 years earlier before losing it all in the congressional midterms 2 years later. 

Netanyahu knows about 9.4% American unemployment and that Dems in the US are starting to poll behind R's on key issues at home.  That is before the fights on cap trade taxation, nationalized healthcare, activist confirmation hearings, full year record trillion and a half dollar deficit numbers release and double digit unemployment materializing.  His 'unity' coalition includes Jewish Americans (like Rahm) working with the world's greatest haters of Jews and Israel, and independent deficit hawks voting with the world's biggest spenders.  There is plenty on Obama's plate without this fight and Israeli settlements won't be in the top 10 or top 100 issues facing his administration or the American public as he heads into his own mid-terms, nor is Middle East tranquility about to break out suddenly either way. 

Obama makes pandering appearances and statements in his photo-ops for his own sake and Netanyahu recognizes that.  JMHO.
5548  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tax Policy on: June 08, 2009, 05:03:44 PM
Huss,  I don't buy all your pessimism on the US dollar as a world currency, but we will see.  Over the decades those types of enemies and economic competitors would have abandoned the dollar at any time if they could: Russia, CHina, Brazil, Chavez, etc.  If we really do rack up deficits in the tens to twenties of trillions of dollars in the near future, our collapse will force that move.  I don't know how but someohow I think we will still wake up.

Leaving the gold standard was forced by policies and circumstances of that time, leading up to 1973.  Going back is what I think they call putting toothpaste back in a tube...

The poster cheapshotting Ireland never did return to answer the questions I asked.  Did revenues and employment increase when they went to a low tax rate strategy.  Of course they did.  Instead he points to their current troubles, but that could be said of California, once the greatest economic 'nation' on earth, or Maryland as you point out.
5549  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tax Policy on: June 08, 2009, 04:52:34 PM
CCP: "...why is it ok for certain Americans to be targeted and discriminated against and their wealth confiscated..."

Thanks CCP for great points made.

My view is that equal protection under the law, consent of the governed, and common morality would prohibit taxing income earned from different sources or by different taxpayers differently.  I don't know the case but understand that the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld our unevene tax system based on the logic that any taxpayer IF in any particular situation would be taxed the same way.  But politicians know they are targeting and pandering when they make promises to raise taxes on the 2% and not on the 98% of voters.  Voters know which people they are talking about. How does that pass anybody's test of consent of the governed?

The estate tax is the most egregious.  If we chose a system that allowed no wealth to be passed from generation to generation whatsoever,  at least pass for equal treatment under the law.  Instead we will confiscate the majority of assets from only a small minority of the taxpayers and don't even try to conceal how it aimed at so few citizens that they are powerless to oppose or stop it.

Under previous tax cuts the estate tax was phased out for 2010 but will be brought back in for 2011 at 2002 levels with exclusions as low as one million dollars and rates as high as 55%.  And that is only the federal portion of the tax.

The Pelosi-Obama leftist machine if still in power will likely tweak the estate tax limits so that it is only targeted, as your post suggests, at certain small minorities of people and excludes critical leftist electoral groups.

Compliance with constitutional and moral principles should NOT be trusted only for the courts to sort out.  That didn't work with McCain-Feingold where the court upheld limits on first amendment political speech, second amendment infringements, Japanese-American internments, public takings limits, or hosts of other encroachments.  Constitutional principles should be front and center on every issue, in every campaign and every debate IMHO.
5550  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Islamic Countries: on: June 07, 2009, 10:02:00 PM
(from Israel thread)

I will look forward to someone explaining to me how men beating up a woman for non-Muslim dress is not discrimination against non-Muslims - in a most brutal way.

One poster says a Muslim in same circumstance would receive same treatment so the beating is non-discriminatory.  UNBELIEVABLE.  An adherant Muslim would not be in the same circumstance.  That is a distinction without any meaning, a distraction and a diversion from holding that religion accountable for inhumane practices againsty many, many groups of people including non-Muslims.

Same poster: "She should have been either not there (many don't bring their wives) or educated in the proper rules and regulations before venturing off base."

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