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5551  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Libertarian Issues on: July 15, 2010, 03:31:24 PM
G M: "can we change the title of this thread to "Unhinged paranoia" or something else more accurate?"

BBG; How 'bout "Authoritarian Chew Toys?"

Very Funny!  Hey - both of you - this debate is healthy, and important.

I remember conservative fund raising letters of decades ago that were loaded with tin foil.  You will lose this freedom and that one, if you don't contribute now.  Government will take over everything from healthcare to auto manufacturing, from energy to housing.  Liberals will teach sex ed to kindergardners, gays will marry and men's rooms will require diaper changing stations.  Big brother will decide what you will drive, where you will live, whether you can water your lawn, and how much salt you can put on your french fries.  The government will take your house on a whim.  Tens of millions will cross our border illegally - and for it receive citizenship.  Enemy combatants will be caught just to be released back to re-join the fight against us.  Freedom isn't free - send money - based on these ridiculous, exaggerated scare tactics.

Unfortunately most of it already came true.
5552  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants & interesting thought pieces on: July 15, 2010, 02:55:19 PM
Freki: "When you have to pay rent to the government (property taxes) to keep your property, Liberty is at stake!!!!"

Crafty: "Freki is dead on."

Agree! If I don't pay the property taxes which are slightly more than 100% of my take home income, I lose the properties.  If I sell the properties I have to pay tax on a 20-30 year gain in one year boosting all other income into soak-the-rich rates.  There is no income averaging anymore.  I would have to pay federal tax on the inflation component of the gain - that might be all of it in some cases.  I would have to pay state tax at the highest rate because states tax capital gains including the inflation component gain (which is no gain at all) as ordinary income.  I can't sell this year because of depressed markets flooded with foreclosures.  Next year the tax rates go up.  Not exactly efficient or low impact taxation.

If your nest egg were all put in gold bullion all of your life, you would be in the similar situation of being taxed heavily on an inflationary gain.  And it's all inflationary gain because it is the exact same gold that you bought in the first place.

So much for hard, non-financial assets for prosperity, to remove risk and to simplify your life.
5553  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Issues in the American Creed (Constitutional Law and related matters) on: July 15, 2010, 02:30:03 PM
Backtracking in the thread a bit, I want to comment on some points gone by:

Bigdog wrote: "there may be a self selection problem.  Professors don't make much money, despite the arguments to the contrary.  If may be that conservatives largely take their talents to the private sector, where the pay is better."

I agree with this point.  Not for money alone, but there is an attraction for conservatives to the private sector and for liberals to academia.

"just because a professor is "liberal" (or "conservative") does not mean that they bring politics into the classroom"

In other disciplines such as climate science and economics they certainly seem to. I wonder how Nobel Laureates such as Obama or Krugman could describe the virtues of supply side economics in a classroom while they falsely characterize it publicly. I challenge anyone to find so much as a paragraph written by either of them that describes those arguments accurately or honestly.  Very few of the best political moderators can question without exposing their own view. One firsthand classroom example I experienced was studying economics under the former chief economic adviser to Presidents Kennedy and Johnson.  At the time he was positioning himself to be chief adviser to Ted Kennedy as well, advocating gas rationing and national healthcare in 1980.  He taught and tested only on his view.  He passed out reprints of his WSJ contributions, never opposing views which was the rest of the editorial page.  That may not happen as egregiously in Law but I question how many teachers with very strongly held views can be fair to the other side of an argument.

I wonder how well lecturer Obama presented opposing views on contested constitutional issues.  I question how well someone like Ruth Bader Ginsburg as a lecturer could present the arguments of Thomas on Kelo for example - or vice versa.  Suppose the other side were in attendance, I wonder how they would rate the opponent's explanation of their argument.

As a sample, I wonder how BigDog (or anyone) might frame the pro-DOMA argument (federal defense of marriage act), assuming his personal view is opposite, to give us an idea of how he would frame the argument that the federal government has full constitutional authority to define the meaning of marriage, superseding any states' rights argument...
5554  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: July 14, 2010, 06:41:31 PM
None of my business but now that the question is understood perhaps it could be answered rather than quibbling over the difference between 60 and 150 years.  Did core principles change in that time?

"while we clearly could have demanded/taken territory/assets, to the best of my recollection, we NEVER did."

I wonder if George Bush will get an apology from his critics.  "Iraq invaded for oil": one million Google hits on that.
5555  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Way Forward: Paul Ryan on: July 14, 2010, 04:33:34 PM
"Ryan is a bright guy who seems to have character and intellectual integrity."

I didn't realize he is only 40 and ranking member of the house budget committee.  Assuming no executive experience he might be perfectly qualified for President...  Better, I would like to see him as the next speaker.

The issue Barnes addresses is whether the party should adopt a comprehensive plan that fixes this mess, include necessarily the controversial entitlement changes and a mandate to reform or I suppose just take 3 or 4 bullet points on the weaknesses of the Dems just to win.

Paul Ryan:  "I for one tried to get us out of this rut by offering my own plan. I call it “A Roadmap for America’s Future.”  The motivation in putting this plan out there is twofold:

One: show us that we can do it.  Put out a plan with real numbers, certified by the actuaries of Social Security and Medicaid, certified by the CBO that shows us we can get off of this debt path that we’re on, that we can actually turn this thing around.  It’s a plan that does three things: pay of our national debt; fulfill the mission of health and retirement security; and get the engine of American prosperity back up and running. Get us on a pathway to growth; get us on a pathway to higher standards of living; get us on a pathway to creating jobs, instead of the path we are currently on.

The second reason why I did the Roadmap was to try and actually encourage other people to come up with their own plans.  I’m not suggesting that I have all of the answers to fix all of these problems.  This is how I would fix these problems.  What I’m trying to do is to get people who don’t agree with the way we choose to fix these problems to come up with their own plans.  Unfortunately, we’ve had nothing."
WSJ (JANUARY 26, 2010)

A GOP Road Map for America's Future
There's still time to rejuvenate our market economy and avoid a European-style welfare state.


In tonight's State of the Union address, President Obama will declare a new found commitment to "fiscal responsibility" to cover the huge spending and debt he and congressional Democrats have run up in his first year in office. But next Monday, when he submits his actual budget, I fear it will rely on gimmickry, commissions, luke-warm spending "freezes," and paper-tiger controls to create the illusion of budget discipline. Meanwhile, he and the Democratic congressional leadership will continue pursuing a relentless expansion of government and a new culture of dependency.

America needs an alternative. For that reason, I have reintroduced my plan to tackle our nation's most pressing domestic challenges—updated to reflect the dramatic decline in our economic and fiscal condition. The plan, called A Road Map for America's Future and first introduced in 2008, is a comprehensive proposal to ensure health and retirement security for all Americans, to lift the debt burdens that are mounting every day because of Washington's reckless spending, and to promote jobs and competitiveness in the 21st century global economy.

The difference between the Road Map and the Democrats' approach could not be more clear. From the enactment of a $1 trillion "stimulus" last February to the current pass-at-all costs government takeover of health care, the Democratic leadership has followed a "progressive" strategy that will take us closer to a tipping point past which most Americans receive more in government benefits than they pay in taxes—a European-style welfare state where double-digit unemployment becomes a way of life.

Americans don't have to settle for this path of decline. There's still time to choose a different future. That is what the Road Map offers. It is based on a fundamentally different vision from the one now prevailing in Washington. It focuses the government on its proper role. It restrains government spending, and hence limits the size of government itself. It rejuvenates the vibrant market economy that made America the envy of the world. And it restores an American character rooted in individual initiative, entrepreneurship and opportunity.

Here are the principal elements:

• Health Care. The plan ensures universal access to affordable health insurance by restructuring the tax code, allowing all Americans to secure an affordable health plan that best suits their needs, and shifting the control and ownership of health coverage away from the government and employers to individuals.

It provides a refundable tax credit—$2,300 for individuals and $5,700 for families—to purchase coverage (from another state if they so choose) and keep it with them if they move or change jobs. It establishes transparency in health-care price and quality data, so this critical information is readily available before someone needs health services.

State-based high risk pools will make affordable care available to those with pre-existing conditions. In addition to the tax credit, Medicaid will provide supplemental payments to low-income recipients so they too can obtain the health coverage of their choice and no longer be consigned to the stigmatized, sclerotic care that Medicaid has come to represent.

• Medicare. The Road Map secures Medicare for current beneficiaries, while making common-sense reforms to save this critical program. It preserves the existing Medicare program for Americans currently 55 or older so they can receive the benefits they planned for throughout their working lives.

For those under 55—as they become Medicare-eligible—it creates a Medicare payment, initially averaging $11,000, to be used to purchase a Medicare certified plan. The payment is adjusted to reflect medical inflation, and pegged to income, with low-income individuals receiving greater support. The plan also provides risk adjustment, so those with greater medical needs receive a higher payment.

The proposal also fully funds Medical Savings Accounts (MSAs) for low-income beneficiaries, while continuing to allow all beneficiaries, regardless of income, to set up tax-free MSAs. Enacted together, these reforms will help keep Medicare solvent for generations to come.

• Social Security. The Road Map preserves the existing Social Security program for those 55 or older. For those under 55, the plan offers the option of investing over one-third of their current Social Security taxes into personal retirement accounts, similar to the Thrift Savings Plan available to federal employees. This proposal includes a property right, so those who own these accounts can pass on the assets to their heirs. The plan also guarantees that individuals will not lose a dollar they contribute to their accounts, even after inflation.

The plan also makes the program permanently solvent by combining a modest adjustment in the growth of initial Social Security's benefits for higher-income individuals, with a gradual, modest increase in the retirement age.

• Tax Reform. The Road Map offers an alternative to today's needlessly complex and unfair tax code, providing the option of a simplified system that promotes work, saving and investment.

This highly simplified code fits on a postcard. It has just two rates: 10% on income up to $100,000 for joint filers and $50,000 for single filers, and 25% on taxable income above these amounts. It also includes a generous standard deduction and personal exemption (totaling $39,000 for a family of four), and no tax loopholes, deductions, credits or exclusions (except the health-care tax credit).

The proposal eliminates the alternative minimum tax. It promotes saving by eliminating taxes on interest, capital gains, and dividends. It eliminates the death tax. It replaces the corporate income tax—currently the second highest in the industrialized world—with a business consumption tax of 8.5%. This new rate is roughly half the average in the industrialized world and will put American companies and workers in a stronger position to compete in a global economy.

Even without the Democratic spending spree, our fiscal outlook is deteriorating. They are only hastening the crisis. It is not too late to take control of our fiscal and economic future. But the longer we wait, the bigger the problem becomes and the more difficult our options for solving it.

The Road Map promotes our national prosperity by limiting government's burden of spending, mandates and regulation. It ensures the opportunity for individuals to fulfill their human potential and enjoy the satisfaction of their own achievements—and it secures the distinctly American legacy of leaving the next generation better off.

Mr. Ryan, a Republican congressman from Wisconsin, is the ranking member of the Budget Committee.
5556  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cognitive Dissonance: DIck Morris - Triangulation? on: July 14, 2010, 04:02:32 PM
"I hope he keeps up the lefitst agenda till he gets booted out."

Nothing in his character tells me 2012 will be a contest between a Republican and an honest liberal named Obama.  I'm sure they have the confusion all planned just like the announcement 20 days before the explosion to expand offshore drilling:

There are damaging policies (IMO) in place right now such as automatic tax increases and healthcare legislation that can not be undone for a very long time, if ever, unless we see the Democrat party turn quickly away from far-leftism.  Even if Republicans take the House this year and the Presidency and the Senate in 2012, they will not have 60 votes in the senate (ever?) necessary to enact or repeal much of anything without Dem. support.  OTOH, I would think a Republican House could fail to fund any program, any year, and at least cause negotiation.
5557  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: July 14, 2010, 12:09:39 PM
BD,  I agree.  There are so many untold stories out there all the time.  Amazing how there was absolutely no investigative journalism pre-exposing the Enron, Madoff, Fannie Mae, Lehman Bros. or almost any other meltdown in the making.

"...there is a long history of noncompliance, incompetence, and abuses by this company."

Instead they were finalists to win the safety award prior to the accident.

Also unreported, except by The Rolling Stone of all places, is that there is no possible chance that the federal bureaucrats even read the false, BP risk assessment study before the Obama administration granted this license to this campaign contributor.  Yet no one in the absent, government protection agencies lost a job over this as far as I know.
5558  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants & interesting thought pieces on: July 14, 2010, 11:44:38 AM
Quoting: "Citizens should not depend on financial assets as a repository of value and rely on fallible "expert" advice for their retirement: Economic life should be definancialised. We should learn not to use markets as warehouses of value." -  Crafty: "I'm confused, what form does he think savings should take?"

In my case, and after the tech debacle, my retirement is entirely in real estate(hard assets/non-financial).  What could possibly go wrong with that?  sad   shocked  angry  Besides the crash of values, I will need increasing amounts of financial assets just to pay the property taxes or lose (again) all I have saved and invested.

Still his piece is enlightening and I was not previously familiar with his work.  I would like to see someone take and run with the best aspects of it.
5559  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Electoral process, voter fraud: Al Franken's election count on: July 14, 2010, 11:35:16 AM
BBG,  Thanks for a great followup on that story.  People may forget that Norm Coleman won that contest prior to the false and uneven recount and some may not realize that the tampered result changed the governing power in Washington, not just changed the occupant of that seat.

Bringing forward a link from a previous page, I think this documentary by the Twin Cities ABC affiliate was the definitive record of that re-count, especially the part where the ACORN and Move-on-dot-org endorsed secretary of state said he couldn't comment on their findings because he didn't bring his reading glasses to the interview!  This story was buried even by that station after it aired.

Back to BBG's post, how is it that we can find known fraud greater than the margin of so-called victory and, if not overturn the result, at least PROSECUTE THE CRIMES.  Knowingly tampering with our electoral process at the ballot box seems to me to be a form of treason.
5560  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Media Issues: Coal accident coverage on: July 14, 2010, 11:19:29 AM
Big Dog,  I read that story and had the opposite reaction (surprisingly  smiley).  Always hard to compare loss of any life in any number without sounding callous, but it sounded to me like a small number at risk or lost and a large story relative to the fact pointed out in the story that over half of our electricity comes from coal.  Parallel to the oil spill story as you mentioned, it seemed to me that the loss of eleven in the explosion and collapse was presented only later as a mere detail to the main story - oil gushing.

Meanwhile the perfect safety record of the western, carbon-free nuclear industry is almost a complete, non-story, unpublished secret.  I think you would need a far right blog to discover that truth.

Coal stories also remind me of just how few of us do real work in a physical, dirty and risky sort of way, as compared with some other time like a hundred years ago.  When we retire our public employees from our classrooms and and air conditioned government centers in their fifties, with pay, pension and healthcare, you would think we were finally allowing them to escape from the inhumane drudgery of coal mining.

Meanwhile we still kill 34,000 a year on our highways which means that the delivery system for  potato chips and soda pop is possibly more deadly in this country than the production of half our total electrical needs with coal. 

(Not to mention a million a year plus of unreported elective loss of human life in the abortion industry.  Where is that headline?)
5561  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / interesting thought piece: re. Black Swans on: July 14, 2010, 10:50:04 AM
I agree strongly (in part) with the creative thought process in this piece.  Ever since studying human physiology in medical school (as an undergrad elective; NOT a med student) I have long believed that business and economic designers should study the intelligent design within human subsystems and found in nature's ecosystems for ideas inspiration to improve business and public services systems performance.  This author makes that point extremely well.

OTOH it seems he carries it too far with his presumption that we can design our economy out further with even greater central control (if I read him correctly) rather than erring on the side of economic freedoms allowing us to make personal choices and errors as individuals, businesses and nations.

For example he criticizes the concept of comparative advantage in globalization.  I agree with his point only to the point that public policies certain should not be made to exaggerate that phenomenon, but would warn that the loss of economic freedom required to prevent over-specialization would be worse than the problem or risk IMHO.
5562  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Way Forward for the American Creed on: July 13, 2010, 10:17:36 AM
This opinion addresses I think a point CCP just made in 'Politics'.

Think Big
Republicans should embrace Paul Ryan's Road Map.
BY Fred Barnes
July 19, 2010

For Republicans, the Road Map authored by congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin is the most important proposal in domestic policy since Ronald Reagan embraced supply side economics in the 1980 presidential campaign. It’s not only the freshest, boldest, and most comprehensive Republican thinking, it’s also the most relevant. If Republicans adopt the Road Map as their basic ideological blueprint, it offers them the prospect of a landslide in the midterm election this year, followed by victory in the presidential election in 2012.

For sure, that’s a lot of weight for a policy statement drafted by a 40-year-old House member to bear. But the Road Map is perfectly timed to deal with the crises of the moment: economic stagnation, uncontrolled spending, the deficit and long-term debt, soaring tax rates, health care, the housing problem, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid.

Yet Republican leaders are wary of endorsing it, and for understandable reasons. The Road Map is sweeping and politically risky. It would overhaul popular programs like Medicare, relying on individuals to make decisions now made by government. Democrats are already attacking it. When Ryan delivered the weekly Republican radio address in late June, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi put out a press release under the heading, “Republicans Make Key Advocate of Privatizing Social Security and Ending Medicare Their Spokesman on Budget.”

Democrats insist focus groups have rejected Ryan’s reform of Medicare. When swing voters learn Medicare would become “a voucher system .  .  . it has a massive impact,” Democratic strategist Robert Creamer wrote in the Huffington Post. “People like the Democratic program of Medicare.”

Republican leaders fear the Road Map might jeopardize, or at least minimize, what is expected to be a decisive Republican victory in the November midterm election. Their advantage in the congressional generic poll is at an all-time high, and President Obama’s approval rating has dropped to the mid-40s. Given these usually reliable indicators, why give Democrats a target to shoot at?

There are three reasons Republicans should ignore their jitters about the Road Map. The first is that the nation’s disenchantment with Obama and Democrats will take Republicans only so far. There’s a residue of bad feelings toward Republicans from the years the party ruled Congress, spent too much, and produced scandals.

Voters have memories. To overcome their qualms, Republicans need to provide more than a litany of Democratic faults. Voters are frightened about the future of the country. They’re looking for a serious solution to the mess we’re in. The Road Map offers exactly that, plus the opportunity to win more seats than Republicans are likely to capture solely by zinging Democrats.

The second reason should be obvious after the ignominious Republican defeat in May in the race for John Murtha’s old House seat in Pennsylvania. Democrat Mark Critz won by running to the right—against Washington, Obama, spending, the deficit —and Democratic candidates across the country are taking the same tack.

Republican candidates need to put some daylight between themselves and their Democratic opponents. The Road Map will do that. Democrats can’t endorse it for fear of alienating their liberal base, which loathes anything that reduces the size of government. The Road Map stamps Republican candidates as the real conservatives, which is what voters happen to be looking for in 2010.

The third reason is the Republican message (or the absence of one). In Pennsylvania, it was “send a message to Nancy Pelosi.” Voters declined. I like the Republican slogan that worked so well in 1946—“Had enough?” But a slogan is not a message. The Road Map is a message. The country is falling apart, we’re going broke, government is on a takeover binge, the economy is wobbling. The Road Map is the solution. That’s a pretty good message.

Those who tremble at the thought of pushing a big idea should remember the campaign of 1980. Reagan, who for years had warned of the evils of government spending and overreach, suddenly became the champion of an across the board, 30 percent cut in tax rates for individuals and business.

That was very risky. The elder George Bush called it “voodoo economics.” Democrats were certain the whopping tax cut would turn the country against Reagan. Quite the opposite occurred. Reagan would have defeated Jimmy Carter without it, but not by the 10 percentage points he actually won by. The tax cut showed Reagan was serious about reviving the economy and not at all a weakling like Carter.

In 1994, the Contract With America wasn’t as risky. It wasn’t a big idea either, but a collection of smaller ones. Democrats, however, believed it would doom Republican chances of a substantial victory. It didn’t. It can’t be proved, but I think the Contract enlarged the Republican landslide.

For now, the Road Map has a relatively small but growing cheering section. A dozen House members have endorsed it. Senator Jim DeMint praised it in his book Saving Freedom. Jeb Bush likes it. On CNN last week, economic historian Niall Ferguson called Ryan “a serious thinker on the Republican right who’s prepared to grapple with these issues of fiscal sustainability and come up with a plan.”

Ferguson sees the Road Map as “radical fiscal reform,” which it is, and said Washington should recognize it as the alternative to “the Keynesian option,” which Washington doesn’t. “I’m depressed how few people in Washington are prepared to talk about” the Road Map option, he said.

Ryan isn’t depressed. “As soon as people become informed and know the details, the more they like it,” he told me. He says the Road Map is “based on a fundamentally different vision” from the “government-centered ideology now prevailing in Washington .  .  . and restores an American character rooted in individual initiative, entrepreneurship, and opportunity.”

The full plan—“A Road Map for America’s Future”—is outlined in a formidable, 87-page document. It would give everyone a refundable tax credit to buy health insurance, allow individual investment accounts to be carved out of Social Security, reduce the six income tax rates to two (10 and 25 percent), and replace the corporate tax (35 percent) with a business consumption tax (8.5 percent). And that’s not the half of it.

As ranking Republican on the House Budget Committee, Ryan was able to get the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) to run the numbers in his plan. CBO concluded the plan would “make the Social Security and Medicare programs permanently solvent [and] lift the growing debt burden on future generations, and hold federal taxes to no higher than 19 percent of GDP.” Pretty impressive results, I’d say.

The Road Map does one more thing. It would give Republicans an agenda if they gain control of the House or Senate in the midterm election—or a mandate if they win both. “What’s the point of winning an election if you don’t have a mandate?” Ryan asks.

He doesn’t expect a mandate in 2010. “I need to make sure these ideas survive this election,” he says, and set the stage for “the most ideological, sea-changing election in our lifetime” in 2012. Merely survive in 2010? The Road Map can do better than that. How about thrive?
5563  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / False correlation between deficit spending and reducing unemployment illustrated on: July 11, 2010, 02:10:44 PM
Since Pelosi-Obama took control of congress and the federal government in Jan. 2007 deficit spending increased tenfold and unemployment went from 5% to 10%. 

Seems like just numbers on a page?  Watch it happen month by month, county by county in full color across the fruited plain:
5564  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Government Spending: Ineffectiveness of Pork on: July 11, 2010, 02:04:37 PM
"... despite the $4 billion in pork that Byrd served his constituents over the past 19 years alone—not to mention the untold billions before observers started keeping tabs—West Virginia remains the third poorest state in the country. Government spending does not prosperity make.

When Byrd became senator in 1959, West Virginia ranked No. 39 in median family income, and No. 42 in per capita income. Today, it's No. 48 in both categories."
5565  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cognitive Dissonance: Obama and the G20 on: July 11, 2010, 01:42:27 PM
I didn't want to let the occasion of the G20 go by without pointing out this glaring, unreported irony:

It was not just that Obama was wrong with his economic advice that all nations should print borrow or steal to 'stimulate' their economies... it is that he ran against that kind of arrogance - presuming that we always know what is best for other nations.

I wonder how many perfectly good Muslim teenagers around the world will now become terrorists due to that kind of American arrogance...
5566  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Keynesianism Addiction on: July 11, 2010, 11:16:50 AM
WSJ editorialized a while back - that 'Keynes is Dead', the way of thinking, not the man.
Scott Grannis says Supply Side is the key.
Yet we still run our policies through the failed Demand Side model,
from Krugman to Obama, to all of the committees in congress.
Keynesian in a nutshell says: you can "stimulate' the economy
with deficit spending, dropping oodles of money on people, and you will alleviate the downturns.
It must be true, both Obama and Krugman are Nobel Laureates. (So is Yassir Arafat)

It must be true, even though...
In the time of the Great Depression - we had a stock market crash,
like we did in 1987, and at other times,
but for the Great Depression we had the New Deal.
We opened the spout and poured money around.
Money we didn't even have.
And unemployment grew. And it grew and it grew.
So more we spent... and unemployment went to 20...and stayed there.

But this time is different,
or is it so different???
We had the crash - this time it was housing.
We had the panic with the banks, and we had the bank failures.
So we spent and we spent.
The deficit exploded, from 160B to 1.6T, a tenfold expansion.

So what is the result?
Unemployment more than double, from under 5, to just over 10.
What next? you might ask...
Double again.
5567  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: States Rights on: July 10, 2010, 10:44:05 AM
The mishmash and contention in law enforcement is interesting and probably very healthy both here and in the jurisdictions.  I see the L.E. issue differently than say schools, roads, libraries where the locals deserve full responsibility.  Some of the worst crime in Minneapolis for example may come out of gangs (or mob) from Chicago, LA, Mexico or Russia.  If the crime or terrorism is organized and planned elsewhere it may never be possible for the locals to catch up with.  That said, I think most people understand when you cross state lines you face different laws. different enforcement and different penalties (except of course for partial birth murders where the states are not to be trusted). 

The feds were instrumental in taking out some local corruption at the city level here recently, yet I strongly oppose any move from where we are now toward anything that resembles a federal police force.

Our county's population has grown to well over a million people, larger than 8 states, where the entire republic in 1789 was less than 4 million.  Power in the hands of the county sheriff here is not exactly local control either although he is elected and removable.

Federal involvement in cross-state crime should not be confused with the other federal activities where there is no legitimate constitutional justification.

On the other side of it, the idea that local officers in 'sanctuary cities' can be instructed to oppose federal law and not report federal violations that they observe to federal authority also seems to me like a dereliction.
5568  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: July 08, 2010, 04:47:32 PM
    President Obama said that the US and Israel share an "unbreakable" bond.

    Obama should know. He's been trying to break it for months.

           - Fred Thompson
5569  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: NASA, Space programs on: July 08, 2010, 04:44:26 PM
NASA to Put Muslim on Moon Using Muslim Technology
by Scott Ott for ScrappleFace · Comments (21) · ShareThis · Print This Story

(2010-07-08) — The White House today announced a bold new program consistent with NASA’s top priority to help Muslims “feel good about their historic contribution in science and math and engineering,” as the space agency’s chief, Charles Bolden, recently told al Jazeera TV.
5570  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Tax Policy: Different states on: July 08, 2010, 03:57:23 PM
I risk posting this before Lebron James decision is announced.  I think they pay state taxes around the country for every away game.  Where would you want to play your home games?

Top state income tax

Ohio:  6%

New York:  9%

Florida: "No state income tax"

You do the math.

("LeBron James expected to join Miami Heat, league executive says")
5571  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: July 08, 2010, 03:08:24 PM
Interesting debate Crafty.  All sides make good points though I find Scott's supply side conclusion compelling.  Leveraging and de-leveraging will change consumption patterns somewhat - like we saw with the artificial 'wealth effect' of people borrowing back paper gains from the equity in their homes.  But real wealth is created on the production side by investing, risk taking, producing and selling the goods and services across the globe. 

A perfect example of why Keynesian, demand side domestic policies fail is the cash for clunkers program.  We put free money into the program to re-energize Ford, GM and Chrysler. The administrative costs were as high as the credit. The main beneficiaries turned out to be Toyota and Honda.  Some of the money from Japanese companies stays in the U.S. but the program is inefficient (understatement) when it is working and the after-affect is zero - or negative.

(I also find targeted programs of tax credit or public spending initiatives to be a violation of equal protection principles.)

Meanwhile, while we are allowing our successful tax rate cuts to expire - the opposite of stimulus - Taiwan is lowering its corporate tax rate again to stay competitive with Singapore.  China lowered its rate in Jan. 2008, right when our recession was beginning.  When a liberal tells you that after raising taxes on the rich the rates won't be that much worse than those under Reagan, remember this:  We aren't competing in a 1983 world.

Regarding double dip vs slow growth vs crash etc...  we will see.  I really don't know how far we can go in the wrong direction on the policy front before it all comes crashing down.  And if we take the root canal approach, chopping public spending while leaving nothing but pain and uncertainty for the private sector investor/employer, it could be a long hard grind out of this mess.
5572  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cognitive Dissonance: Meet Donald Berwick, Wealth Redistribution Appointee on: July 08, 2010, 02:33:09 PM
Berwick is a recess appointee not because Republicans won't allow a vote.  Just the opposite, Republicans were dying to hold hearings with this ideologue.  

America does NOT have the best health care system.  He favors central planning, opposes free markets... "in the darkness of private enterprise".  In his own words: "Britain, you chose well"
5573  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Politics: Election 2010 on: July 08, 2010, 02:16:57 PM
Republicans have had the momentum since last year when they picked up governorships in New Jersey and Virginia. The Scott Brown election was huge.  Yet Obama trudged on with the agenda and popularity for the policies and for the Dems continued to fall, but everyone knew the November elections were miles away and so much can happen in between.  Polls like Rasmussen showed an energy difference with a major gulf between strongly disapprove over strongly approve, while the other polls watched Obama hold at about 50% approval and a little under.

Now it's the summer doldrums, the economy is sputtering, the oil is reaching the shores - still gushing, the red ink is drowning us and the big new programs haven't even started yet.

In the last 2 days Real Clear Politics average shows Obama going into the net-negative for the first time.  Rasmussen polling likely voters is the most accurate at -9% but Gallup measuring the general public still has him falling to -4 (44 approve to 48 disapprove).

Meanwhile approval for congress is 21% approve, with 71% disapprove, yet Republicans holding only a point advantage on the generic ballot. 

For the seats in the house if the election were held today, they (RCP) have R's at 199, D's at 200 with 36 tossup, meaning tied with less than 3+ months to go.  (Tie is pretty good when you come from 77 seats down.)

Senate today shows R's would pick up 7, a big gain but far (3) short of majority. Of those 3, they would need Boxer's seat and Feingold and Murray.  Possible but only in a landslide on a national scale equal to Scott Brown winning Massachusetts.

If Republicans took the house and took the senate (unlikely), they would still be unable to govern, only able to stall out some of Obama's agenda.  They could not extend the tax cuts or cut corporate rates.  They couldn't repeal Obamacare or pass anything new.  A better scenario strategically than taking majority without power might be to fall just short in both houses, expose Democratic governance just a little longer and hope to continue the momentum into 2012 for the presidency, house and senate, but still no chance of 60 votes to get things done.

From my point of view we are screwed on the public policy front until the popularity and electoral success of pro-growth and pro-freedom candidates causes a change of thinking inside the Democrat party, away from socializing, taking state control and redistributing.  Since there was no shift of policy after the Scott Brown election it is hard at this point to see Dems changing ever.
5574  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / The Economist - IPCC systematic tendencies to accentuate the negative on: July 07, 2010, 12:44:26 PM

 Accentuate the negative

Jul 5th 2010, 10:11 by The Economist online

FOR everyone else it was the glaciers: for the Dutch it was the flooding. Last January errors in the work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) hit the headlines. The chapter on Asia in the report by the IPCC’s second working group, charged with looking at the impact of climate change and adapting to it, mistakenly claimed that the Himalayan glaciers would be gone by 2035. This contradicted some reasonably basic physics, had not been predicted by the glacier specialists in the first working group (which deals with the natural science of past and future climate change) and was unsupported by any evidence. There was a report from the 1990s which said something similar about all the world’s non-polar glaciers, but it gave the date as 2350. Then there was a crucial typo and some shoddy referencing. Nevertheless the IPCC’s chair, Rajendra Pachauri, had lashed out at people bringing the criticism up, accusing them of “voodoo science”. He then had to eat his words, and set up, with Ban Ki-moon, a panel to look into ways the IPCC might be improved.

Inspired by this to look for other errors, a journalist for a Dutch newspaper spotted that the chapter on Europe gave a figure for the area of the Netherlands below sea level that was much too large. The area at risk of flooding by the sea had been conflated with that at risk of flooding by the Rhine and the Meuse rivers. That the careful Dutch should have provided faulty information and not spotted it in the review process was an embarrassment to the then environment minister, Jacqueline Cramer; following a debate in parliament she called on the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL), an independent body, to look at all the regional chapters in the working group II report and make sure they were up to snuff. This the PBL has now done; its report was published on July 5th.

The authors try hard to make clear that their findings do not undermine the IPCC's conclusions on climate change. And there is nothing in their report as egregious as the glaciers or as embarrassing as the Dutch sea level. But they did find a number of things to take issue with, most of which they thought minor but eight of which they classed as major; and their work seems to bring out a systemic tendency to stress negative effects over positive ones. This tendency can be defended. But a reading of the report suggests there may also be broader and potentialy more misleading bias. The PBL report chose as its main focus a table in the “Summary for Policy Makers” of the IPCC’s 2007 “Synthesis Report”, which brings together the results of working groups one, two and three (which deals with responses to climate change). Where did these bullet points actually come from, the PBL team asked, and how well supported were they?

The auditors found one new error which they deemed major: a statement about the frequency of turbulence in South African fishing waters which had been translated directly into a statement about the productivity of the fisheries. The IPCC has indicated it will produce an erratum for this, and for a number of other errors all concerned deemed minor. But the PBL also identified seven statements, which, while not errors, it thought were deserving of comment (for which read criticism).

Perhaps the most striking relates to Africa. The table in the summary for policy makers reads: “By 2020, in some countries, yields from rain-fed agriculture could be reduced by up to 50%.” The evidence on which this is based says only that yields during years in which there are droughts could be reduced by 50%. Furthermore, the relevant reference applies only for Morocco—and it cites as its source an earlier paper that the PBL says no one, including the IPCC authors, now seems able to find.

Other criticisms turn on a tendency to generalise. Research showing decreased yields of millet, groundnuts and cowpeas in Niger becomes a claim that crop yields are decreasing in the Sahel, the strip that separates the Sahara from the savannah in Africa, rather than that the yields of some crops are decreasing in some parts of the Sahel. The results of research on cattle in Argentina are applied to livestock (which would include pigs, chickens, llamas and the rest) throughout South America. The expert authors do not provide a compelling reason for their claim that fresh water availability will decline overall in south, east and southeast Asia, or that the balance of climate-related effects on the health of Europeans will be negative.

With the exception of the South African fisheries it is not clear that any of this is wrong, which is why, on these matters, the PBL does not speak of error. Martin Parry, a specialist in agriculture who was the co-chair of the second working group's report, defends his colleagues’ work. Agriculture in other parts of North Africa is very like that in Morocco, and during droughts the crop yields there already drop by more than 50%. To say that yields decline in the Sahel does not mean all crop yields in all of the Sahel. Cattle make up most of Latin America’s livestock, and much of the rest of it can be expected to do worse. The IPCC does not just assemble evidence, Parry stresses: it assesses it. When its expert authors weigh their words on things like water in Asia and health effects in Europe they do so in the context of a wide range of knowledge. And they do so in ways that cannot be reduced to ticks in the boxes of Dutch assessors going through things line by line four years later.

The authors might better document the extra insight brought to bear, and be more transparent about the application of their judgment. But at 1000 pages the Working Group II report alone is already a challenge to the book-binder’s art. Does it really need to be longer?

Another problem identified by the PBL analysis is that, in general, negative impacts are stressed over positive ones. The table in the summary for policymakers is almost unremittingly bad news; the conclusions in the chapters that fed into it, while far from cheery, were more mixed. In a similar way, when there is a range of possible impacts, the top end of the range tends to get more play in the summaries for policy makers than the bottom end does. The PBL says that this is a reasonable way to proceed in a document that is explicitly aimed at policy makers thinking about adaptation, but it is not clear how transparent this approach is to readers.

This may reflect a larger issue. Work on the impacts of climate change—the literature Working Group II assesses—tends to focus on vulnerabilities and damage for much the same reason the IPCC authors do. They seem more important, more urgent and quite possibly more fundable. The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change requires countries to assess their vulnerabilities, and these assessments are fodder for Working Group II (one of them was the source for the 50% drop in rain fed agriculture yields). Thus the evidence base from which an assessment of impacts has to start is to some extent skewed.

Perhaps the most worrying thing about the PBL report, though, is a rather obvious one about which its authors say little. In all ten of the issues that the PBL categorised as major (the original errors on glaciers and Dutch sea level, and the eight others identified in the report), the impression that the reader gets from the IPCC is more strikingly negative than the impression which would have been received if the underlying evidence base had been reflected as the PBL would have wished, with more precise referencing, more narrow interpretation and less authorial judgment. A large rise in heat related deaths in Australia is mentioned without noting that most of the effect is due to population rather than climate change. A claim about forest fires in northern Asia seems to go further than the evidence referred to—in this case a speech by a politician—would warrant.

The Netherlands look more floodable, Asian glaciers more fragile. A suspicion thus gains ground that the way in which the IPCC sythesises, generalises snd checks its findings may systematically favour adverse outcomes in a way that goes beyond just serving the needs of policy makers. Anecdotally, authors bemoan fights to keep caveats in place as chapters are edited, refined and summarised. The PBL report does not prove or indeed suggest systematic bias, and it stresses that it has found nothing that should lead the parliament of the Netherlands, or anyone else, to reject the IPCC’s findings. But the panel set up to look at the IPCC’s workings by Dr Pachauri and Mr Ban should ask some hard questions about systematic tendencies to accentuate the negative.
5575  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government Programs, spending, budget process on: July 07, 2010, 09:43:47 AM
I don't always follow other people's logic pattern.  When you need to draw an absurdly false hypothetical (an actively practicing MD below the poverty line) in order to draw the opposite conclusion, does that mean you actually agree with me?   smiley   He pays in and doesn't receive those perks.  They (in general) don't pay and do receive the perks.  Why not just welcome that widely held frustration to be expressed here on the board and move on with whatever is your view or proposal for the problem.

California without illegals is also an absurdly false hypothetical as well.  California today comes with the illegals no matter what we do in the future with the border.  The flow of illegals into California probably has more to do with the generosity of the public benefits and the sanctuary status of the cities than it does with the height of the fence.
5576  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Kagan on: July 07, 2010, 09:30:15 AM
It was the phony 'scientific' political advocacy group that altered the document. She, as an officer of the court, did not in good faith disclose to the court her role in writing their phony, altered conclusion.  Their original conclusion was a "DISASTER" for the legal argument she was making - that was HER description of it - and she kept the court from seeing it.

"Agree or disagree with the issue of abortion"

This isn't the issue of abortion. This isn't the blob that poster Rachel compared with sperm or embryos.  This is the most extreme fringe way out their at the end of the least protected trimester of the Court's bizarre and splintered previous ruling.  Late term 'little ones' are developed and ready to go, easier to deliver and rescue than to perform this murderous procedure which is abhorrent to any conscience-based moral being unless you lie as she did to the court about the reasons to say it is necessary.  The procedure was ILLEGAL in Nebraska.  That was the point of the case, using phony non-conclusions of non-scientific, misrepresentations, written by counsel but entered as expert scientific testimony, a fraud on the court, to try to keep Nebraskans from setting their own state law protecting innocent, developed, viable human life.

These memos were unavailable until now so whether she should just apologize or be jailed or disbarred is an issue that has not yet begun consideration or due process.

What we do know is that she shares the morals of her former boss Clinton, his national security adviser with the documents in 'the briefs' and has offended no one in the current administration with this smoking-gun revelation.  Makes me wonder what memos and emails were not yet disclosed.  I'm sure they didn't intend to let this one slip through in the document dump to the committee.

I wouldn't want anyone with her zero integrity view of our justice system on MY side of the arguments much less as lifetime appointment to advance political liberalism via the judiciary.  
5577  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government Programs, spending, budget process on: July 06, 2010, 03:51:38 PM
I'm not CCP  smiley but I can imagine that he has no right to free legal, free health care, free food stamps etc while many of them do.
5578  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government Programs, spending, budget process on: July 06, 2010, 01:36:41 PM
"Yet the market is strongly up this morning.   huh "

That housing start headline was a couple of weeks old, sorry that didn't come through with my excerpting.  I guess the market is over the concern about worst housing since 1963...
"what Obama is (really) saying is I inherited a deficit that I voted for and then I voted to expand that deficit four-fold since January 20th."   - Exactly true.  That is the line they should run on - and be proud!
"Budgets do not come from the White House. They come from Congress"

Surrounded by liberals over the holiday at one point they all agreed that our deficits really came from Reagan.  Points already covered here but a) Reagan never had a Republican house, b) tax cuts caused revenues to double in the 1980s, c) the deficits came from spending over, above and ahead of the doubling, and d) the delay from congress to enact Reagan's tax cuts caused initial downturn, delaying the growth.

Back to Crafty's point about 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, etc: 

The two largest tax revenue increase years in history in terms of dollars collected by the Treasury were the two years that ended with the election of the Pelosi-Obama congress.  If they had taken that opportunity to lock in the successful tax rates (remove expiration) and committed to spending within those means, the economic results that followed would be enormously different.  Unfortunately that was not the path chosen.

This current group of Democrats has been in charge since Jan. 2007 when the deficit headed upward.  They were also on board during all of the emergency measures passed during the Presidential transition.  They want power but don't seem to like taking responsibility.
5579  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Issues in the American Creed (Constitutional Law and related matters) on: July 06, 2010, 10:38:04 AM
I would like to bring over from the Kagan thread, one paragraph at a time, the 2 columns of suggested questions from George Will that nicely summarize the differences between the main schools of thought on interpreting the constitution.  Starting with the last question first, I would challenge anyone here who says they are reading only the exact words of the constitution to help us understand perhaps the most important ruling of our lifetimes, the one liberals and liberal justices (for lack of a better term) hold most dearly, the right to slaughter your young:

"In Roe v. Wade, the court held that the abortion right is different in each of the three trimesters of pregnancy. Is it odd that the meaning of the Constitution's text would be different if the number of months in the gestation of a human infant were a prime number?"
5580  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government Programs, spending, budget process, Homebuyer 'credit' on: July 06, 2010, 10:23:24 AM
This could go under housing but the economic point is to point out another failed government spending program.  Artificial stimulus does not replace market fundamentals:
New-home sales plunge 33 pct with tax credits gone
New-home sales drop to lowest level on record in May after federal homebuyer tax credits end

That was the slowest sales pace on records dating back to 1963. And it's the largest monthly drop on record. Sales have now sunk 78 percent from their peak in July 2005.

Analysts were startled by the depth of the sales drop.
5581  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Mexico-US matters on: July 06, 2010, 10:14:14 AM
Rarick: "Just throwing a what if subject (unification US/Mexico) out there to maybe help define some of the problems, get people thinking...  Another concept for a solution?"
Also just thinking aloud, but war comes to mind.  Limited strikes at limited targets of the staging areas on the other side of the border that are being used to invade our country, after we take what steps we can on our side. To the extent that this is criminal traffic that  is organized and operational on both sides of the border I would see us as wholly justified in protecting our country against invasion.
5582  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Elena Kagan: Pernicious Liar, Manipulator of Justice on: July 05, 2010, 01:46:14 PM
Analogous to the climategate fraud discovered in the leaked emails, this case of disguising political views as science in order to deceive the public and in this case the courts in order to further your own blind political objectives.  What do we do when we catch a high Democrat in this behavior?  Well offer them a lifetime appointment of course onto the highest court in the land.

Please ask your senators for or against to hold off until after the summer recess on this controversial nominee.  Let the facts of this sort out and let's see what other examples of zero integrity justice emerge.  Thank you.
(see link below for authorship)
A key event in the politics of partial-birth abortion was a report by a "select panel" of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), a supposedly nonpartisan physicians' organization. That report included this statement, which the Supreme Court found highly persuasive in striking down Nebraska's partial-birth abortion ban:

    ACOG declared that the partial-birth-abortion procedure "may be the best or most appropriate procedure in a particular circumstance to save the life or preserve the health of a woman." The Court relied on the ACOG statement as a key example of medical opinion supporting the abortion method.

Here is the shocking part: the ACOG report, as originally drafted, said almost exactly the opposite. The initial draft said that the ACOG panel "could identify no circumstances under which this procedure . . . would be the only option to save the life or preserve the health of the woman." That language horrified the rabidly pro-abortion Elena Kagan, then a deputy assistant to President Clinton for domestic policy. This is what Kagan wrote in a memo to her superiors in the Clinton White House:

    Todd Stern just discovered that the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) is thinking about issuing a statement (attached) that includes the following sentence: "[A] select panel convened by ACOG could identify no circumstances under which [the partial-birth] procedure ... would be the only option to save the life or preserve the health of the woman." This, of course, would be disaster -- not the less so (in fact, the more so) because ACOG continues to oppose the legislation. It is unclear whether ACOG will issue the statement; even if it does not, there is obviously a chance that the draft will become public.

So Kagan took matters into her own hands: incredibly, she herself appears to have written the key language that eventually appeared in the ACOG report. Coffin writes:

    So Kagan set about solving the problem. Her notes, produced by the White House to the Senate Judiciary Committee, show that she herself drafted the critical language hedging ACOG's position. On a document [PDF] captioned "Suggested Options" -- which she apparently faxed to the legislative director at ACOG -- Kagan proposed that ACOG include the following language: "An intact D&X [the medical term for the procedure], however, may be the best or most appropriate procedure in a particular circumstance to save the life or preserve the health of a woman."

    Kagan's language was copied verbatim by the ACOG executive board into its final statement, where it then became one of the greatest evidentiary hurdles faced by Justice Department lawyers (of whom I was one) in defending the federal ban. (Kagan's role was never disclosed to the courts.)

This is an image of Kagan's "suggested options" note; click to enlarge:  (also linked below)


The note does appear to be in Kagan's handwriting; you can see a sample of her writing here.

Unless there is some other interpretation of these documents that does not occur to me, it appears that Elena Kagan participated in a gigantic scientific deception. On behalf of the Clinton White House, she deliberately subverted what was supposed to be an objective scientific process. The ACOG report was certainly seen in that light by the federal courts. Federal Judge Richard Kopf was deeply impressed by the scientific integrity of the report; he wrote:

    "Before and during the task force meeting," he concluded, "neither ACOG nor the task force members conversed with other individuals or organizations, including congressmen and doctors who provided congressional testimony, concerning the topics addressed" in the ACOG statement.

This statement was obviously false. The federal courts were victimized by a gross deception and a perversion of both the scientific process and the judicial process, carried out, the evidence appears to show, by Elena Kagan.

5583  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Mexico-US matters on: July 05, 2010, 01:10:06 PM
Rarick, No I don't favor merging U.S.of A. with Mexico or any other failed third world nation.  I would favor however if New Mexico the state would vote to change its name to Not-Mexico to remove some of the confusion along our southern border.
5584  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / George Will's questions for Kagan - part 2 on: July 05, 2010, 12:38:07 PM
BBG posted the first part just a little back in this thread.  Part 2 follows.  All of these I think are worthy of discussion perhaps on the constitutional issues thread since it looks like no national discussion of the meaning of the constitution is going to break out over this vapid nominee.

More questions for nominee Elena Kagan
Pursuant to Elena Kagan's expressed enthusiasm for confirmation hearings that feature intellectual snap, crackle and pop, here are some questions the Senate Judiciary Committee can elate her by asking:

-- Regarding campaign finance "reforms": If allowing the political class to write laws regulating the quantity, content and timing of speech about the political class is the solution, what is the problem?

-- If the problem is corruption, do we not already have abundant laws proscribing that?

-- If the problem is the "appearance" of corruption, how do you square the First Amendment with Congress restricting speech to regulate how things "appear" to unspecified people?

-- Incumbent legislators are constantly tinkering with the rules regulating campaigns that could cost them their jobs. Does this present an appearance of corruption?

-- Some persons argue that our nation has a "living" Constitution; the court has spoken of "the evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society." But Justice Antonin Scalia, speaking against "changeability" and stressing "the whole antievolutionary purpose of a constitution," says "its whole purpose is to prevent change -- to embed certain rights in such a manner that future generations cannot readily take them away. A society that adopts a bill of rights is skeptical that 'evolving standards of decency' always 'mark progress,' and that societies always 'mature,' as opposed to rot." Is he wrong?

-- The Ninth Amendment says: "The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people." The 14th Amendment says no state may abridge "the privileges or immunities" of U.S. citizens. How should the court determine what are the "retained" rights and the "privileges or immunities"?

-- The 10th Amendment ("The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people") is, as former Delaware governor Pete du Pont has said, "to the Constitution what the Chicago Cubs are to the World Series: of only occasional appearance and little consequence." Were the authors of the Bill of Rights silly to include this amendment?

-- Should decisions of foreign courts, or laws enacted by foreign legislatures, have any bearing on U.S. courts' interpretations of the Constitution or federal laws (other than directly binding treaties)?

-- The Fifth Amendment says private property shall not be taken by government for public use without just compensation. But what about "regulatory takings"? To confer a supposed benefit on the public, government often restricts how persons can use their property, sometimes substantially reducing the property's value. But government offers no compensation because the property is not "taken." But when much of a property's value is taken away by government action, should owners be compensated?

-- In Bush v. Gore, which settled the 2000 election, seven justices ruled that Florida vote recounts that were being conducted in different jurisdictions under subjective and contradictory standards were incompatible with the Constitution's guarantee of "equal protection of the laws." Were they right?

-- In Bush v. Gore, five justices held that Article II of the Constitution gives state legislatures plenary power to set the rules for presidential elections. The Florida legislature fashioned election rules to produce presidential electors immune from challenge by Congress. But the legislature said that immunity depended on electors being chosen by a certain date, which could not be met if further recounts were to ensue. The court held that allowing more recounts would have contravened the intent of Florida's legislature. So the recounts were halted. Was the court's majority correct?

-- Justice Thurgood Marshall, for whom you clerked, said: "You do what you think is right and let the law catch up." Can you defend this approach to judging?

-- You have said: "There is no federal constitutional right to same-sex marriage." But that depends on what the meaning of "is" is. There was no constitutional right to abortion until the court discovered one 185 years after the Constitution was ratified, when the right was spotted lurking in emanations of penumbras of other rights. What is to prevent the court from similarly discovering a right to same-sex marriage?

-- Bonus question: In Roe v. Wade, the court held that the abortion right is different in each of the three trimesters of pregnancy. Is it odd that the meaning of the Constitution's text would be different if the number of months in the gestation of a human infant were a prime number?
5585  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Time to shut down the Fed? on: July 01, 2010, 05:11:06 PM
We've had bad Presidents too and bad policies from certain congresses yet we never ask if it is time to shut down the Presidency or the congress.  I never understand how thinking they should do a better job translates to ending that operation entirely - although I understand in journalism that authors do not write their own headlines and that headline writers are only trying to get you to pick up their paper.

I'm no fan of Greenspan from before he was appointed, during his term or since, but "Nixon speech-writer" is hardly a serious summary of his credentials when he was picked by Reagan.

The "Writers who have not taken a year of PhD coursework in a decent economics department..." remark is snobbish but came from an individual staff economist, again hardly different than the Supreme Court where Justices Alito, Sotomayor, and Thomas are Yale grads, while Scalia, Roberts, Breyer and Kennedy all went to Harvard.

"Central banks were the ultimate authors of the credit crisis since it is they who set the price of credit too low"

No.  For another opinion: the congress is the author of the credit crisis because they put the volume of credit too high.  When the cost of credit goes from 3% to 20%, what will that do to the federal budget and our ability to afford the public goods we require?

It was not the Fed was determined that the federal government would be the writer and guarantor of all mortgages or that required that mortgages be made based on criteria other than creditworthiness.  Those decisions came from the elected officials and the dysfunctional committees that they formed.

Once again I would pose the question: is there really a correct set of policies for a Fed in the situation where we are spending 50% more than we take in, have virtually outlawed manufacturing and energy production and choose instead to send dollars out to the places in the world that supply us?
5586  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Health Thread (nutrition, medical, longevity, etc) on: July 01, 2010, 04:12:43 PM
The poor (in America) are not poor in terms of food dollars.  Food is free and plentiful if you are poor.

CCP: "Some of the cheapest foods are fattening.  Like pasta, cakes, rice."

I would clarify that these food eaten to excess are fattening, like the bloated stomach you might see on photos from an impoverished country.  I honestly don't believe you will see a difference other than cultural in the diet or at least the availability of all the right food choices.  Food stamps aka SNAP works for virtually anything you can buy in a grocery store, steak salad fruits vegetables whole grains, and for the other items like candy or cigarettes they can trade food debit dollars away for cash at fifty cents on the dollar on the street and on the sidewalk in front of the store. 

The problem I was trying to point out is that our 'poor' are not poor, they just face a twisted set of life incentives: they are paid to stay inactive and have virtually unlimited time and money for eating.
5587  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: We the Well-armed People on: June 30, 2010, 06:12:05 PM
PC,  I agree it's kind of scary that the second amendment was in question and the support on the court was only 5-4.  I wonder how they feel about Article III authorizing the judiciary.
5588  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: June 29, 2010, 08:19:05 PM
A recession is not fully defined but generally looked at as a decline in GDP over a couple of quarters or more.  GDP is measured many ways but one is consumption+investment+government+net exports.

Recession or economic stagnation might also be looked at in terms of net job losses over a similar time frame while economic expansion is also noted with prolonged job growth statistics.

I would contend that only private sector 'production' or employment should count as economic growth, with government being just the parasite feeding off the host - economically. (If the gov't programs performed as promised they would be accompanied with private sector job growth.) If you include government job growth or accelerated government expenditures as economic growth it seems to me you are measuring something artificial and unsustainable without the corresponding private sector growth.  In particular you can't realistically count the $4 trillion in spending as increased economic 'results' if you only raise 2.5 trillion of it in funding, leaving the rest as accumulated debt that accumulates interest into eternity and brings down the value of the unit (dollars) that you were measuring in the first place.
5589  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Afghanistan-Pakistan, Obama with Petraus: the willing suspension of disbelief on: June 29, 2010, 07:59:29 PM
Then: "strongly implied that Petraeus was either a liar or a fool three years ago." (Harry Reid, Durbin, Move-on-dot-org etc.)

Hillary:  "The reports that you provide to us requires the willing suspension of disbelief."

Obama to Petraeus:  " We have now set the bar so low that modest improvement in what was a completely chaotic situation’s considered success, but it’s not.  This continues to be a disastrous foreign policy mistake.(surge in Iraq)”

Now:  “The commitment to Afghanistan is necessarily…an enduring one”  - Gen. Petraeus
It would take a clinical psychiatrist to explain to us what disorder allows them to trash someone so ruthlessly, never apologize or explain what has changed and then choose that same person to lead their most important mission.

Charles Krauthammer who is no Obama supporter pointed out that maybe a part of this country needed these horrible 4 years to grasp that these are not George Bush's wars, these are America's wars, this is America's security, America's wiretaps, America's detention facilities etc.  We don't do these for fun or to enrich our friends.  We are under attack and taking the fight to the enemy.

Now Obama needs to save face on his phony exit promise that prevents any real progress by saying he is simply following what the best minds of the best leaders are telling him.  The 'willing suspension of disbelief requirement' and 'bar so low that modest improvement in what was a completely chaotic situation’s considered success'  policy is no longer operative / never happened.
5590  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: No Trespassing on: June 28, 2010, 01:02:34 PM
Tony has it right IMO.  Humor is great but you may wish later that you hadn't made public postings about the pleasure you will take from harming intruders.

I think a 'beware of dog' sign is perfectly acceptable because you are taking a step to prevent harm to a potential intruding. (Where beware of reckless gun-toting homeowner for example  is more an admission of guilt.)   Beware of Dog is also a good sign instead of buying a dog.  Makes one think twice and maybe move on.  The 'no trespassing' sign helps law enforcement to take action against an unwanted person on the grounds.  (Inside the house that should go without saying!)

Besides the alarm system or security sign, lights set off by motion detectors I think are helpful.  Lights on timers help hide that you are gone, and an extra vehicle in front can create confusion.  Also a radio inside with talk can sound through the window very much like voices of people in the house.

(Personally I don't agree with the law that forced entry into a family home is merely a 'property crime'.)
5591  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Glibness and the Blago trial, filling the Obama seat on: June 25, 2010, 10:46:09 PM
Drudge ran a series of strong headlines from the trial this week that seem to have faded off.  One was the Chicago Sun Times story the Blago Chief of Staff Harris testified that Obama knew of the plot:,CST-NWS-BLAGO24.article

I'm ready to pin all this on Obama if deserving but there are a couple of problems: a) Harris didn't follow that with any info showing how he knows that, b) Obama never got his choice picked, and c) Obama never appointed Blago to the cabinet or anything else.

As I wrote from the beginning, Obama comes out of this smelling like a rose when it comes out that he was the one who blew the whistle on all that Chicago-Springfield corruption.

The funniest part is to see how surprised the governor of Illinois was to find out that ordinary corruption and backroom dealing is a crime.  Who knew?
5592  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: June 25, 2010, 10:22:10 PM
Regarding Reagan, he did his part on the compromise but the rest that was promised never happened - no closing of the border and no end to the illegal migration.  There is no way to project from that failed false compromise that he would ever support doing it again.  He did relate with the people who risked it all for a shot at building a better life through hard work.  Today is different.  We are much less an opportunity society and much more headed in the direction of a welfare state.  CCP is the one who has nailed this.  We need to become much less of a welfare state as part of the 'comprehensive' solution and then people would violate our borders in smaller numbers for better reasons.

Amnesty today IS a Democrat sinister plot to deputize more voters.  CCP has nailed that from the start as well.  Both sides admit it. A few Republicans like Karl Rove and John McCain recognized that R's need to get on board politically regardless of principle.  The momentum on this one though is shifting back with the impressive popularity of the Arizona measure - back to standing on principle and respecting a just law.

If we passed a 'comprehensive' bill today (amnesty), it would do nothing to either slow the continuing illegal migration or create any incentive to ever secure the border, which means that again it would fail.
5593  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: June 24, 2010, 09:34:59 AM
Strange times we live in.  Petraeus was the one defamed in the famous ad.  Sec. of State Hillary was the one who disrespected him the worst during questioning (lecturing) trying to prove her ANTI-war credentials.  Obama was the poster boy of move-on-dot-org that ran the ad.  Biden is still the clown.  McChrystal is the one who allegedly voted for Obama.  Petraeus is the one who saved Bush's Iraq. The right wing rags are the ones who most think we are losing the war based on the troops' limited rules of engagement.  And left wing Rolling Stone is the pub that broke the story - two huge anti-Obama stories within a couple of weeks.

A bad deal for Petraeus. Tampa, even in summer, is nicer than Kabul.  A mixed story for Obama.  The article filled with truths will now lose interest as the story has moved forward.  Obama gets a better commander for the war and gets a chance to be seen as a strong leader even though it was all about ego instead of what was best for the country.  The McChrystal quotes in the article may be ignored now, but will find their way into 2012 Presidential race if the Pres. decides to seek reelection, especially if the war is still going badly.

Going forward, I don't see Petraeus at this point in his career being shy about asking the administration for everything he needs to succeed or in answering questions honestly in front of congressional hearings.  Obama can't afford to lose another commander.  Petraeus will have McChrystal's loyal lieutenants for continuity unless they clean out the whole staff.  Yet all of the dynamics that were going wrong in Afghanistan before this move are still firmly in place and central command loses its wisest leader as the Iraq effort either ends in success or failure.

Petraeus' first move should be to end the ban on embedded reporting so the American public might have a clue what is going on there.  And his second move should be to implement the Crafty Doctrine rearranging and realigning that dangerous region.   
5594  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: June 23, 2010, 09:04:39 PM
I agree with this point JDN made: "For various reasons, including national security, we need to crack down on illegal immigrants."

Expanding or even continuing legal immigration is another issue.  I would consider expanding legal immigration if NOT for the illegal problem, but that is moot.  Border security must come first and then some form of normalcy/stability.

The situation in Fremont Nebraska will be interesting.  I am familiar with the town only from driving through.  The needs of employers for low cost workers does not trump national security.  You do not have expand citizenship to get workers but overstaying a work visa is a major part of the problem, including at least 6 of the 9/11 hijackers.  Workers overstaying visas should be the easiest to track down if anyone was tracking.

The feds could require employers to disclose who they hire and the feds could require companies to transmit copies of papers to help with the screening, especially with companies or industries with known problems, but the feds should not be making companies do the job that they won't do.

As a landlord I have been curious if I am in more trouble for renting to an illegal or for turning down someone for suspecting they are illegal or that their documents are phony.  In Fremont, you will be violating city ordinance to rent to illegals and violating federal housing law if you treat them at all differently based on anything other than proof of illegality.  If you have ever messed with federal housing law (or employment law) you will certainly err on the side of NON-discrimination.

I do not think there are many sweatshops, substandard workplaces or under-regulated businesses left in America.  The stockyards and meatpacking may be ugly places but I'm sure they are USDA inspected and the pay is relatively high for unskilled work in a small town.

We know the Census did not care if they were legal or not.  Hard to hold employers to a higher standard than the U.S. government in a constitutional mandate to count its people.

I wonder what the credit agencies know; they know almost everything about almost everybody.  The problem is that we are not really trying to find out who is here, who is illegal or do anything about it, much less close the border.
5595  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Issues in the American Creed (Constitutional Law and related matters) on: June 23, 2010, 07:22:03 PM
"The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people."
   - 9th Amendment

How can people retain other rights if they weren't already there?  Where did those rights come from?  God-given to me is an expression for pre-existing.  I'm happy to call them intrinsic rights, natural rights, moral rights, or inalienable rights.  Government can take them away like a thief, rapist or murderer can take, but you still started with those rights of freedom, I believe.

"But the US government is "by the people, for the people" so it isn't really the same proposition as the king taking rights."

 - Only if a minority takes away rights from the majority or a majority takes rights from the minority do I see a similarity.  When we rob Peter to pay Paul and only get Paul's consent, there is a similarity.  To the extent that one congress passes programs that cannot be undone by a later one, it fails the test of consent of the governed IMO.  We didn't hire the bums to take away our rights and the founders were certainly trying to make it harder to do that.

" reason for God to have created the right to participate in our governance without the creation of a government."

 - I am pro-government, up to roughly the limits set forth in the constitution.  Like BD wrote earlier, I don't think we are that far apart.
5596  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Issues in the American Creed (Constitutional Law and related matters) on: June 23, 2010, 10:17:16 AM
Freki nailed it: "if the rights come from gov't then gov't can take them away."

Is murder wrong because of an ordinance or statute or was it wrong - intrinsically - before the law was passed?  The Declaration of Independence says some truths are self-evident and certain rights are endowed by the Creator; the constitution lays out that government powers are limited and enumerated (for congress they are in Article 1 Section 8 ) while rights are pre-existing and unenumerated.

The rights of freedom and consent of the governed do not come from government in my view. Governments are more in the business of taking our freedoms away, as with the King example and his false authority over his subjects.
5597  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Guro Crafty in Tolmin, Slovenia 6/26-27 on: June 22, 2010, 11:32:01 PM
Know your Slovenians:  Besides Tito and knowing that Slovenia and the U.S. tied in World Cup Soccer last week, let me remind that Slovenian Tina Maze edged out American star Lindsey Vonn at Whistler Mountain in Vancouver this year for the silver medal in the most grueling of the Olympic Alpine events, Super Giant Slalom. She also won the silver in GS. A Tina Maze photo to make certain you recognize this famous Slovenian athlete. 
5598  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Issues in the American Creed (Constitutional Law and related matters) on: June 22, 2010, 03:19:29 PM
"However, there are many rights that do come from government.  The right to vote, for example (and one that you reference).  If it takes an amendment to fix it, then it must be government granted, yes?  Women, African-Americans, and 18 year olds all were given the right to vote via amendment."

Quibbling slightly just over perspective, but the right to participate in governing our own affairs is God-given or intrinsic (IMO) and the restrictions or barriers on that come from the mortals around us like our parents growing up and then from our government - sometimes for our own good, sometimes not.  The amendments, seems to me, were removing the government's restrictions on those people's right to participate.   smiley
5599  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Guro Crafty in Tolmin, Slovenia 6/26-27 on: June 22, 2010, 01:00:49 PM
Richest of the Slavic nations, Mediterranian coast and the Alps in a small space, looking forward to a tourist report for those of us who may never make it there.  I recall that Europe and the U.S. were on the wrong side of history opposing self-rule for Slovenians in 1991:
5600  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Degeneration of Democracy on: June 22, 2010, 12:21:23 PM
The central question here could have gone under constitutional issues, if and when we find someone who thinks his governance is constitutional.

Degeneration of Democracy (excerpted)
By Thomas Sowell  June 22, 2010

... a democracy needs informed citizens if it is to thrive, or ultimately even survive. In our times, American democracy is being dismantled, piece by piece, before our very eyes by the current administration in Washington, and few people seem to be concerned about it.

The president's poll numbers are going down because increasing numbers of people disagree with particular policies of his, but the damage being done to the fundamental structure of this nation goes far beyond particular counterproductive policies.

Just where in the Constitution of the United States does it say that a president has the authority to extract vast sums of money from a private enterprise and distribute it as he sees fit to whomever he deems worthy of compensation? Nowhere.

And yet that is precisely what is happening with a $20 billion fund to be provided by BP to compensate people harmed by their oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Many among the public and in the media may think that the issue is simply whether BP's oil spill has damaged many people, who ought to be compensated. But our government is supposed to be "a government of laws and not of men." If our laws and our institutions determine that BP ought to pay $20 billion-- or $50 billion or $100 billion-- then so be it.

But the Constitution says that private property is not to be confiscated by the government without "due process of law." Technically, it has not been confiscated by Barack Obama, but that is a distinction without a difference.

With vastly expanded powers of government available at the discretion of politicians and bureaucrats, private individuals and organizations can be forced into accepting the imposition of powers that were never granted to the government by the Constitution.

If you believe that the end justifies the means, then you don't believe in Constitutional government. And, without Constitutional government, freedom cannot endure. There will always be a "crisis"-- which, as the president's chief of staff has said, cannot be allowed to "go to waste" as an opportunity to expand the government's power.

That power will of course not be confined to BP or to the particular period of crisis that gave rise to the use of that power, much less to the particular issues.
If the agreement with BP was an isolated event, perhaps we might hope that it would not be a precedent. But there is nothing isolated about it.

The man appointed by President Obama to dispense BP's money as the administration sees fit, to whomever it sees fit, is only the latest in a long line of presidentially appointed "czars" controlling different parts of the economy, without even having to be confirmed by the Senate, as Cabinet members are.
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