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5551  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2010 Elections; 2012 Presidential on: September 03, 2010, 10:12:51 AM
Roughly Labor Day, if the election were held today - and it isn't - the Republicans would take the House.  Discussed elsewhere are some things they could do, but they could pass nothing that would be veto proof. 

The senate today is still in question.  Real Clear Politics has it at 48 Dems, 45 R's (already a nice gain) and 7 highly contested, 6 of those 7 were Dem seats.  The vice President breaks the tie so 50 means nothing.  R's need 6 of those 7 for a majority and still would be nowhere near 60 to force any vote and nowhere near veto-proof.

Here are the seven most contested: 
CA: Boxer (D)
CO: Bennet (D)
FL: Open (R)
IL: Open (D)
NV: Reid (D)
WA: Murray (D)
WI: Feingold (D)

All would seem impossible for Republicans a short time ago, even Florida with 2 (alleged) Republicans running.  Logic might assume even races break randomly.  History might give the close race to the incumbent for that advantage.  The energy and movement this year may say the opposite - that they all break against the failed and unpopular ruling regime.

As a partisan, I will take any win I can get, but Republicans might be better positioned into 2012 for congress and President to still be fighting as the outsiders.  For the good of the nation IMHO they must take at least one chamber to at least slow this train wreck.

If that many blue states swung against Obama and his big government 'spread the wealth' economic policies were still failing, it would be interesting to see if he would still hunker down on ideology or read the message, adapt and try to survive as Clinton did by partially working with the other side in the direction of economic growth.  At this point, I think everyone sees Obama as unbendable and every key issue would be an unsolvable stalemate.
5552  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Clinton prepares to jump from the SS Obamatanic on: September 02, 2010, 10:35:54 PM
CCP:  She looks more dignified there ( than when she was kissing Mrs. Arafat as they celebrated her anti-Israel tirade.
5553  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Clinton prepares to jump from the SS Obamatanic on: September 02, 2010, 10:12:42 PM
If we are talking about Dem challengers in 2012, Evan Bayh separated himself from Obama way sooner and with some substance.  Credit GM for this observation:  on May 30, 2010, "Agreed. I see Evan Bayh setting up a primary challenge for 2012."

Mentioned today in Time magazine under "How Barack Obama Became Mr. Unpopular"
(already linked),8599,2015629-3,00.html
Bayh:  "A lot of this was really inevitable, or at least pretty predictable," says Indiana Senator and former governor Evan Bayh, a Democratic expert at getting elected in the Rust Belt. "We have a lot of government activism at a time when skepticism of government efficiency is at an all-time high."

There has never been any policy difference between Obama and Hillary and people hate Obama's policies while they like him personally.  Bayh put his finger exactly on the pulse in that brief comment.  Doesn't sound like he is biting his tongue now.  How he would ever get support from Dem activists, I have no idea, but easily a third of Obama voters are ready to move rightward or to the center and other Dems might start thinking about winning again after experiencing what is about to happen to them in '010.
5554  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Palin phenomenon - Glen Beck rally on: September 02, 2010, 12:31:29 PM
Without taking anything away from Glen Beck's amazing success with the rally of 300,000 in Washington with many speakers, just wanted to put a historical marker here that when they want to 'fill the stadium' Sarah Palin is still the one they call.

Thanks Crafty for the pageant video.  She was also I believe, point guard for a state championship basketball team.  I don't know of any video but that story might give a better look at her other qualities, passion, leadership, determination etc.
5555  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cognitive Dissonance on: September 02, 2010, 12:24:34 PM
I expected the Iraq speech to contain the big gaffe. but it was more of a 'one the one hand - on the other hand' type of hypocrisy ( where he really just did a clumsy job of trying to be a little bit diplomatic in an impossible situation. 

The big gaffe of the moment is our self reporting of the U.S to the U.N. Human Rights commission where it is presumed they are the good guys and we are the perps.  Fellow members of the commission include Castro and Mau - or Hu-ever has his job right now.  Nice part of that gaffe is that Hillary's fingerprints are all over it, so opponents can point back at both of them as they start to split.

Continuing dissonance, Christina Romer in her administration exit offers the economic wisdom that we need to spend more and tax less.   Unbleeping believable.  Is that not precisely the Bush economic plan??  Ed Morrissey at Hotair called it before she said it: "How can Dems extend Bush tax cuts while running against Bush?"

So if they don't extend tax cuts the economy will tank or at least continue stagnation with permanent equilibrium at European levels of unemployment *. They need to make tax cuts permanent - all the way up the income chart.

  * That is of course partly unfair to Europe where German unemployment has dropped below ours to 7.6%:
5556  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: No Trespassing on: September 02, 2010, 11:31:45 AM
The point about solar lights too dim is true.  The cheap ones will barely light a walkway and don't give the look of someone home.  You need more juice than that.  For anyone who wants to make the effort for an unwired outbuilding or driveway entrance, you can build a more powerful system pretty cheaply.  You can buy a small 12v 3 watt or 5 watt solar panel on ebay fairly cheap and make night power off of a deep cycle or older car battery with some charge left in it.  incandescent bulbs will drain the battery.  For 12v the ones with multiple LED are bright and efficient, or with a small inverter you can use 110v products like a timer or motion detector connected to more efficient CFL bulbs.  I like to leave a radio with talk on in a vacant rental house.  Along with some timers and lighting it makes it seem from outside the window or door very much like someone is in there-  even during the day.  I'm amazed at how often I fool myself with that when I come back in.  I haven't done this yet, but what I would like to hook up is motion detector activation to a recording of a fiercely barking dog to come on with the lights.  The motion detector lights typically come with 2 light sockets.  Put a bulb in one and a socket adapter outlet in the other and run a cord a little further to trigger something else, maybe another light and radio further away, up by the house.

At home, besides living in a crime free area with watchful neighbors, most effective for me is having multiple vehicles that I split usage with and move around quite a bit for various reasons along with varying schedules that was mentioned. The affect is that you never look in our driveway and assume no one is home.  Most people I'm sure don't have extra cars but maybe you know someone who wants one stored or maybe you keep the extra one in the garage to protect the vehicle when having it by the sidewalk or doorstep would better help to protect the house.   A stored car should be started and moved around regularly anyway which is perfect for this purpose.

The extra car trick backfired for me at one of my inner city houses.  They punched a hole through the bottom of the gas tank.  The next time I left a nice note on the dash saying that the gas tank was empty, and made sure it was.  Strategies in a war zone are different than strategies in a neighborhood.

Beyond the fake video camera idea I would like to go to a cheap real video camera saving onto the hard disk of an old computer and activated by the motion lights.  Maybe you could capture a license plate or mug shot of the offenders.

The first hand account from Costa Rica scares me.  No one should have to face a gun in their face unless you are the perp.  A friends young daughter finishing college is traveling there a lot and wanting to move there.

Knowing your premises was invaded is not a property crime to me.  Someone could have been home or come home during the invasion and startled them.  I would never assume someone with that kind of nerve is not likely to be violent.
5557  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Way Forward for the American Creed on: August 30, 2010, 01:50:27 PM
CCP: I see that O'Donnell has tea party backing. Hard to say it will be the same old party with all the new faces and commitment this time to positive change. 

Sometimes the house races in states that have only one house seat are interesting.  Powerline has done some coverage on the South Dakota race this year.  Both are attractive women saying they are conservative.  Problem for one is that in her first vote she would choose Nancy Pelosi for Speaker and Democrats to run all the committees and control the agenda.

Rand Paul's opponent has that same problem in Kentucky.  He is articulate and reasonably conservative on the issues but will align with Reid, Durbin, Schumer etc. if he wins.

Dems have a big problem coming - most of the reasonable and moderate ones from center-right districts are going to lose and all the far left ones from untouchable districts will win, leaving a party even further from the American people than it is today.
5558  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Pathological Science: Banning lead in bullets on: August 29, 2010, 11:43:39 PM
EPA rejects attempt to regulate lead in bullets after NRA protests

What? A health hazard to be shot with a lead bullet? Absolutely.  I wonder if they would also require the guy who stabbed me to sterilize his knife between uses.  Really, it's in everyone's best interest.  We don't want anyone to get hurt.

Same/similar movement as those who want to ban all light bulbs that DON'T contain Mercury.
5559  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tea Party, Glen Beck and related matters on: August 29, 2010, 04:48:20 PM
Likewise, WOW! 

Obama's historic victory speech was before 'tens of thousands', according to CBS.

CCP: Does anyone think TIME magazine will place Beck on the cover with admiration like they did with Sharpton recently? wink

Yes on the cover with obligatory coverage of a phenomenon that they cannot stop, but not with admiration.  This is a story.

After 2004, the last Republican victory (it has been a while now), there were NY Times reporters who said they didn't even know anyone who voted for Bush.  Rush L. predicted they would have to send foreign correspondents out into regions like Kansas to find out more about these people who don't think like they do.  That victory was subtle and somewhat hollow.  This one is energized.  People did not wait for the pollsters and the correspondents to come out and ask their opinion.
5560  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / China trade and currency on: August 29, 2010, 04:20:57 PM
[Flesh this out please]

Some underlying fundamentals in no particular order:

The US imports from China: $300-330 billion
China imports form US: $70 billion, less than 1/4th.
 = China is importing $230+ dollars.  Must spend or invest these US dollars somewhere.

(EU goods exports to China 2009: €81.7 billion
 EU goods imports from China 2009: €214.7 billion - similar situation)

We also have a trade deficit with Europe, peaked at about $140-150 billion/yr. which floods dollars, not Euros into the global market.

The total US trade deficit peaked at about $700-750 in the healthy economy of 2005-2008. (That number is down in this recession) We are running a trade deficit with the rest of the world outside of China and Europe of roughly $250 billion/yr. That is net of what they spend with us so they must buy elsewhere using dollars or invest/lend back to the US in dollars.

The US imports 66% of its oil, buys primarily in US$, $400 billion/yr,

The US restricts domestic oil production.  Those restrictions cause much of the import requirement which causes dollars to leave the US.

China for the most part does not need US manufactured goods (and steals our technology anyway).

China consumers use perhaps a few hundred billion dollars/yr worth of US software, music, movies, patent infringements, etc. that they don't pay for (which would otherwise create some balance in trade).

The US zones, restricts, regulates, taxes, creates work rules, has pending energy use legislation, health care mandates, etc. that make US goods largely non-competitive in an economically freer country like China (it hurts to say that).  US auto manufacturing pays more for healthcare than steel.

China imports oil at $150-200 billion /yr.

US budget deficit is currently at 1500-1600 billion.

Of our public debt, 25% is owned by foreign governments, 22% of that is owned by China.  Those percentages will need to be updated after we see who is buying all our new debt.  At those percentages that would be $88 Billion per year bought by the China.  In other words, a part of their trade surplus comes back in there and a part of those dollars go into the global economy via their oil suppliers.

These imbalances combine to make bidirectional and circular flows of funds that find a balance.  Each piece of the imbalance above either enables or causes something else to occur or exist, depending on how you look at it.  Floating or changing exchange rates also play a role in finding balance, as we see between the dollar and the Euro, but did not have with China.
Changing fundamentals:  

If China had a middle class demanding and purchasing goods from around the world up to near the amount of Chinese exports - it would not find itself holding dollars and using them for other purchases like oil and buying T-bills.

If the US produced all of its own oil that it could - fewer dollars would flood the world markets.

If the US moved toward rough balance in its federal budget - we would need fewer dollars to come back in to lend us our public debts.

If China enforced US/World copyright/patent/trademark laws - we would have some chance at approaching trade parity.  

If the US committed itself to being a competitive place to locate, manufacture, produce and export from instead of a place actively looking for ways to hinder production and punish profits - US goods would be more competitive, we would export more, employ more people in manufacturing and send fewer net dollars out.

As economies elsewhere develop, prosper, grow a middle class and their own industries, and develop legal systems to enforce global patents copyrights etc., they become viable markets for US export sales for technologies, intellectual property products, services, etc.  China has economic growth but does not seem to grow its middle class or bring its legal/political system up intot he 19th century or beyond.

Very true that we certainly don't want to be borrowing our excesses in foreign currency but also true that we shouldn't want to be borrowing our excesses from anyone.

If you leave these fundamentals in place, the current cycle is hard to break.  China needs to sell to America to get a significant part of its money and growth and that money is in dollars. Then China needs to spend or invest those dollars somewhere.  They can require foreign sales in Yuan (Renminbi) but the customer cannot pay with them if they don't have them and unless they are an oil exporter, China is not buying their products with any proportionality.

If you break any or all of these cycles and co-dependencies, you could break the global reliance on the US$.  But if that happens, such as China buying more from the US, putting the US budget more in balance, seeing foreign trade between other countries made in currencies other than US dollars, if developing markets increase purchasing power, or if US manufacturers gain competitiveness and increase exports - I fail to see how any of those developments would be harmful to us.
5561  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Way Forward for the American Creed on: August 28, 2010, 10:55:13 PM
Two practical thoughts for 2010:

House) If conservative Republicans take the House, a number of new and pending big government  initiatives can be stopped or slowed in their tracks including ObamaCare, see Crafty's post regarding delay, de-fund etc. and cap and tax the energy and manufacturing destruction legislation pending.

Senate) If constitution-respecting conservative Republicans take the Senate, Obama may not be able to put another liberal activist onto the Supreme Court for the ages.  If Dems keep the senate, look for Ginsburg 75 now and possibly Breyer who will be 71 in 2012 to retire in the next 2 years so that Obama can pack the court with more young liberal women hoping to live to a hundred and finish dismantling the founding principles.
5562  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government Programs, spending, budget process on: August 28, 2010, 10:37:51 PM
"A piece that speaks to Doug's point: Higher Tax Rates on the Rich Will Backfire"
Thank you BBG.  If you don't believe me, see Christina Romer's last published piece before being fired as chief economic adviser: the tax hikes coming will be highly contractionary.

We hear about tax cuts and deficits from the 1980s but seldom hear that revenues doubled in that decade, same link from my previous post: Revenues 1980: $517 Billion.  Revenues 1990: 1.032 Trillion, almost exactly doubling in 10 years, in spite of one recession waiting for the tax cuts to kick in and while inflation was defeated in its tracks.  As always, the deficits came from excess spending.  p.26
5563  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government Programs, spending, budget process on: August 28, 2010, 09:16:32 PM
Wash.Post: "They did not know two major tax cuts representing trillions in lost revenue would be passed."

Crafty: "Exactly when were these tax rate cuts passed?"

I think they are referring to 2001 and 2003.  Strangely even in hindsight they are confusing "trillions in lost revenue" with actual results which were the two largest years of dollar increases to a Treasury anywhere on earth at any time in history ending with the Pelosi-Obama takeover of congress.  Long pdf, see p.26: Half trillion actual increase in revenues in 2 years, exactly when Wash Post says "trillions in lost revenue".

How can anyone report that wrongly and stay in business?
5564  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: China on: August 28, 2010, 09:05:48 PM
"an important strand of China's strategy is to use those dollars to buy assets, raw materials, etc world-wide."

Yes.  So the 2 largest energy importers buy oil in dollars hence oil is sold in dollars, oil suppliers take in dollars, buy or invest back into what they need, all over the world - in dollars.  I'm not able to see how that cycle breaks in favor of the Chinese currency without a change in underlying fundamentals.
5565  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government Programs, spending, budget process on: August 28, 2010, 01:16:12 PM
Thanks BBG for that.  CBO models are wrong just like the climate models.  CBO still ignores almost all affects caused by changing incentives and disincentives.  In the heyday of the previous tax cut and growth cycle, CBO was wrong about revenues by 12 digits in a year - roughly $100,000,000,000.  As they say in Washington: good enough for government work.  No one was fired and no changes to the flawed model were requested or forced on this BS agency.

That said, I think there is too much going on in that graph, measuring everything as a % of GDP which is not constant or on a straight line headed anywhere.  Again like climate data, I say look at the actual numbers.  At the end of the analysis, then some perspective is gained by seeing the results as a percentage of GDP or as a comparison to anything else.  That graph hides much of the revenue growth during the highest growth years.  In 2005 and 2006, we grew revenues by roughly a half a trillion dollars in two years to the Feds alone (highest dollar growth in history) not counting the windfalls states and local governments were taking in.  At least the Wash. Post graph accurately shows that the hard inflection point is Jan. 2007 where it all started to go to hell, coinciding with Pelosi taking the Speakership, Obama-Hillary-Biden-Schumer taking majority power in the Senate, all promising to "end tax cuts for the rich", and new Congressman Keith Ellison symbolically putting his hand on the Koran and promising to dismantle piece by piece what we once knew as a great nation.
5566  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: China on: August 28, 2010, 12:48:13 PM
JDN: "I have little faith in 7-10 year economic projections."

True, they are based on some rosy scenario numbers such as that health care is net-free and that the economy will grow robustly while we continue to raise taxes during recession or stagnation.  Without policy corrections, these forecasts will be WAY off the mark and reality will be far worse IMHO.

When Greece imploded, some thought it would bring down the Euro, the EU, the world financial system etc.  It did not all come true but when the U.S. fails, only that one guy in the Amazon will be unaffected.

JDN, the original point was that we are loaded in debt and loading up more with no end in sight.  Current (deemed but not passed) budget is roughly $4T revenues, $2.5T revenues resulting in $1.5T in new debt or monetized deficit.  Totally irresponsible and was enabled but not caused by China.  Crafty is right that whatever that true debt burden is now we have not felt the main impact yet with interest rates artificially held close to zero.  When interest rates skyrocket beyond our control, we are screwed and so are our creditors.

Crafty's wrote:  "...we get to pay it (international debt) with dollars we print."

 - What that means to me is that unlike third world countries, we (unfortunately) can inflate our way part way out of that burden, creating other/worse burdens.

"When folks stop taking our dollars we will be in the same shape as Greece.  Folks have been taking our dollars for lack of alternative.  Now they begin to have one.  Should the trend continue, and we can no longer finance our deficits with the printing press, interest rates will shoot up-- quite possibly quite quickly as everyone heads for the exits at the same time."

 - China's economy is built largely on export sales and its trade imbalance with the US (and elsewhere).  If they sell to Americans who have only dollars while not buying our products they will have excess dollars.  World trade if you include the investment and financial side offsetting the imbalanced flow of goods and services is a closed system.  I don't see how they quit buying dollar based investments without first correcting the trade imbalance.  If they sell off their dollars or dollar based investments, then someone else is holding them. 

If the currency change is successful from the Chinese point of view, I think it would force both countries to behave more responsibly. (ex: Greek lawmakers approved sweeping pension reforms July 10 2010  China needs to allow domestic consumption and personal wealth to start catching up with its production side and America needs to stop punishing our own manufacturers with the myriad of increasing rules, mandates, prohibitions, taxes, and start moving our federal budget back toward balance.

More likely this currency experiment will fail IMO for the same reasons that they were unable to do it previously.

The good news is that deficits and GDP are inversely related, not proportional.  Most of current spending is not going to go away.  The boldest proposal out there only rolls it back to 2008 levels.  We can only grow revenues and thus shrink deficits by growing GDP so pro-growth policies if we could find some would improve both measures simultaneously.   If we grow the private economy, deficits will shrink IF we find sane people to watch over public spending while we do this. And if we continue to steal the resources of our economy for the public sector, the GDP will not grow. The burden of the accumulated debt shrinks during times of high growth as a percentage of the total economy, but again only if public spending is controlled and contained.

I remember one of the pundits lamenting last year that China was the last check or balance left on our irresponsibility once Peloi-Reid-Obama gained their 60th vote in the senate.  This news seems to illustrate that.
5567  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: China on: August 28, 2010, 01:31:01 AM
I have read that this is a good development and long overdue.  For one thing the Americans have been complaining for quite some time that the fixed exchange rate was artificially low.  If there is a market for their currency and a floating exchange rate, perhaps it will be right-sized.

"China is moving forward as we decline." 

At this moment, yes/maybe. Given that famous traffic jam, I would say not very fast and not without bumps in the road.  They are doing a couple of things right.  Underlying that you will also find crony capitalism, mis-allocated resources, bad loans, overvalued assets, an unprecedented demographic scheme, inability to take on immigrants and a structural inability to make political change.

If they are moving past us they will need their own currency.  But why did they not do it sooner?  Certainly they were not trading in dollars as a favor to us.  The dollar gave them something third world countries don't have - a stable currency.  If the pendulum of forward progress swings backward a couple of times, the currency could get pounded.  A floating and marketable currency will expose weakness.  I hope they don't have any.  smiley

"“We’re now capable of doing renminbi settlement in many parts of the world,”"

Maybe they can and maybe you can't.  But we don't have any yuan and we will be buying products from China in large quantities overnight, tomorrow morning and the next day.  Those transactions will happen in dollars.  If we must buy Yuan / Renminbi first, who do we buy them from?  The Chinese who print it.  What do we buy them with?  Dollars.  It's what we have.  Then they have dollars to spend elsewhere in the world, like on oil/energy. Or they can invest it back in our economy, our T-bills or dollar based investments - same as they do now.  They don't buy products from us for the most part so the trade / investment equation has to balance out somewhere.  Looks to me like change won't be easy for them.

We have had some heated exchanges here over monetary policy.  Second guessing the Fed from the armchair is easy and costs nothing.  Managing your own real currency in a major lopsided economy is not.  If I were the Fed advising the new currency board of the PRC my advice would be - don't try this at home.
5568  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Way Forward: Avoiding Townhall Meetings on: August 26, 2010, 11:12:12 AM
hypothetical Democratic congressman's story starring Ron Howard's younger brother Clint Howard.

5569  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Killing Fields of Caracas and a brave, silent protest of Chavez on: August 26, 2010, 10:59:34 AM
Maybe this brave and articulate young Venezuelan could carry the flag forward in the next election...

IBD Editorial

 The Killing Fields Of Caracas

Socialism: Quick, what's the murder capital of the world: Kabul? Juarez? Try Caracas, Venezuela, a city whose dictator, Hugo Chavez, has made murder a means of extending his control.

The silent protest at Monday night's Miss Universe Pageant in Las Vegas was invisible to nearly everyone — except Venezuelans. On her final catwalk, the ranking Miss Universe, Stefania Fernandez, suddenly whipped out a Venezuelan flag in a patriotic but protocol-breaking gesture.

Fernandez waved her flag for the same reason Americans waved theirs after 9/11 — to convey resolution amid distress. Her flag had seven stars, significant because Chavez had arbitrarily added an eighth, making any use of a difficult-to-find seven-star banner an act of defiance.

Fernandez's countrymen went wild with joy on bulletin boards and Facebook, showing just how worried they are about their country. Their greatest fear is violent crime.

Ever since Chavez became president in 1999, Venezuelan cities have become hellholes in which murder rates have more than quadrupled. At 233 per 100,000, or one murder every 90 minutes, the rate in Caracas now tops that of every war zone in the world, according to an official National Statistics Institute study released Wednesday.

In fact, crime is the defining fact of life in today's Venezuela. About 96% of all murder victims are poor and lower-middle class, the very people Chavez claims to represent. "Don't venture into barrios at any time of the day, let alone at night," warns the Lonely Planet guide to Venezuela to hardy adventure travelers.

By contrast, the murder rate in cartel-haunted Juarez, Mexico, is 133 per 100,000, with Mexico's overall rate 8 per 100,000, about the same as Wichita, Kan. Colombia, fighting a narcoterror war since 1964, has an overall rate of 37 per 100,000, slightly higher than Baltimore at 36.9. The overall U.S. rate is 5.4.

Make no mistake, a murder rate like Caracas' is a crime against humanity. The absence of personal security renders all other human rights moot. By coincidence, that's just what Chavez seeks to eliminate as he turns his country into a Cuba-style socialist state. Instead of Castroite firing squads or Stalinesque gulags, Chavez outsources the dirty work of socialism to criminals while throwing dissidents in jail and threatening to censor newspapers.

He may try to suppress the Dante-like photos of corpses piled high at the Caracas morgue from the El Nacional newspaper, but the hard fact is that Chavez is responsible for what's going on.
5570  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Way Forward for the American Creed on: August 26, 2010, 10:31:06 AM
I hesitate to criticize another Obama vacation - when he could have been nationalizing another industry.

Letterman doesn't rip anything about leftism, only a break from it.  Always nice to hear the term 'one term President'.
5571  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Humor/WTF: Roger Federer trick shot - Don't try this at home on: August 25, 2010, 10:43:20 PM
Stick handling, accuracy, balance, concentration, and consistency, this should be in martial arts but I offer it as... WTF?

"Don’t try this at home."

“I don’t do it that much, but, yeah, it was shot in one piece... the guy took a chance,”  “It worked out. I’m happy.”

5572  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government Programs, spending, budget process on: August 25, 2010, 10:28:39 PM
"We'll have to cut police/fire/EMS" was just a threat to protect pork. Now, lots of agencies are really getting cut, and at some levels, the money just isn't there."

Agree, it went from a threat, to a tactic to a reality.  When everything is top priority, nothing is.  Most LE is local.  One of our county commissioners likes to say 'don't tell me we don't have enough money' every time he sees one of these other crazy projects that go through.  Not the obvious ones like the billion dollar ballpark that went through last year with a tax increase where the commissioners  voted to waive the legal requirement to let the voters vote on it.  Just couldn't trust the voters to do the right thing.

He finds the more obscure ones for his local golden fire hydrant award, like 14 million extra on a bridge re-build to make it look a little fancier in a recession (how many sheriff's deputies would that fund?),  $600,000 to teach urban kids how to garden (the state and the school districts are charged with education, not the county), $700,000 on Landscaping at the Garbage Burner, $35,000 county funds for alcoholic wet houses where alcoholics can continue drinking, and on it goes.
5573  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Politics of Health Care on: August 25, 2010, 01:10:31 PM
CCP, Choice "1- We can have a doctor and their patient decide what care to give/receive." - sounds kind of American to me, at least the America that I once knew.
Crafty,  Over in The Way Forward I agreed whole-heartedly with this piece (GRACE-MARIE TURNER) and wanted to add that here.  She is right on the money.  Obama will not see new light and sign anything to do with repeal.  These are some practical steps a new congress can do for roughly the same affect. De-fund, dismantle, delay, direct oversight and delegate to the states.  ObamaPelosiCare is a choice that should be rejected at the state level and never was a power of the federal government. 

IIRC the neutral budget required collecting taxes 4 years before providing services so that the 10 year plan falsely breaks even saying 10 years pays for 6.  Instead of repealing, the new congress should set forward with a clean budget to their own priorities and just omit BS like that.  There will be a Newt-like showdown coming and I hope they are ready to hold ground win that war of opinion.
5574  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Way Forward: George Gilder, Ron Paul on: August 25, 2010, 12:56:37 PM
The way forward includes inspirational leading, not in-fighting.  I want to comment on the Gilder interview on interesting thought pieces here in terms of going forward.  Gilder is brilliant yet I think we all learned to take him in with a grain of salt.  As the analysis put it, I think he was a bit guarded and simplifying where he also can be loquacious.

I would include Gilder and Ron Paul, and VDH, Thomas Sowell, Karl Rove and plenty of others on my short list for input on how to lead, how to come together, and where to take this movement during this great opportunity, as it is still very vague in meaning and direction.

I agree with his criticism of Ron Paul' foreign policy views.  I agree with him on tax rates.  I think his insights about shifting the discussion to fostering human creativity is brilliant.

I also think a coalition between existing Republicans, conservatives, libertarians and center right moderates will come together politically only if we commit to cut and contain spending first.  Within that framework I think we can also cut military costs without surrendering or disarming.  I think we can reform entitlements if there is a will without starving the poor or pulling the plug on granny.  I think we can refuse to allow raising tax rates in a recession or any other time since that isn't working.  I think if we took congress we could reform the tax policy scoring mechanism at CBO, where I think Newt tried and failed, the model that always underscore pro-growth policies and disregards the contractionary effects of rate increases and regulation overload. I think we can put corporate tax rates at the median level of OECD instead of at the highest in western civilization.  I think we can do ALL the things proposed in Crafty's piece today regarding ObamaCare, namely de-fund it and send it back to the drawing board.  I doubt if we can do it but I would run with Paul Ryan's proposal that we put discretionary spending not to the stone age but back to the 2008 levels of the Pelosi congress and freeze it there until reforms of all the programs can be instituted.  I think we could truly end earmarks and could win on that issue alone if anyone believe us.  I think we can effectively contrast the last 4 supreme court picks and make a strong case to move all of our governing focus toward respecting constitutional limits on government.

Within that framework, we need to invite Ron Paul and all the people he has inspired to join and influence this movement, not to fight it.  I also think Ron Paul needs to fade back a bit especially on things and trust the work he has already accomplished while his son is front and center asking to be trusted for an extremely important seat.  You can't sweep swing states with any meaning if you can't win Kentucky.

I think Gilder's positive vision forward needs to overlay all of the root-canal work that need to be done first to make the full package a positive one.  But I don't think you can inherit a situation that has spending at $4 trillion, revenues at 2.5 trillion and a deficit that is greater than half of revenues, in a debt crisis environment, and not attack spending head-on.
5575  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government Programs, spending, budget process on: August 25, 2010, 12:12:26 PM
Speaking of affirmative action, I hear that DEA is hiring Ebonics translators to help with cases.  I wonder if well-qualified whites and Asians will get their proportional share of the hirings (joking):
It actually sounds like a good and necessary idea.  LE needs to know what potentially criminal conversations captured with legal warrants mean, be able to explain translations to investigators and juries and they should be free to hire whoever does that best.  The key will be to find the Ebonics experts who also knows English well enough to do that.

Reminds me of Hillary's start at State.  She couldn't find anyone in the entire Dept. of civil servants and diplomats or from all her other contacts that knew enough Russian to get the word 'reset' translated correctly, besides that it was a stupid idea.  I don't think Russians are having the same trouble translating from English the military secrets that they steal.  A predecessor of hers humbly spoke fluent Russian all at the same cost to the taxpayer.
5576  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government Programs, spending, budget process on: August 24, 2010, 04:12:16 PM
CCP,  That gives me a nice understanding of how that works from your side and I'm sure you are as tough on them as anyone.  Half of it being fraud or exaggeration, even if anecdotal is shocking, but lower than my estimate.  The doctor's report should be the beginning of an application process.  It should be descriptive not judgmental for the next step.  He wouldn't conclude unfit to work, but he might say medium inflammation on the left ankle or the 7th vertebrae.  For some the issue is mental health. The patient should not be asking the doctor for a work conclusion just a medical report.  Screening and enforcement should in proportion to the resources we put into IRS.  Then there should active followup to move people from unable to work to providing something back to society of value based on their capabilities.

Speaking of government spending, I have a true story from yesterday:

County emergency assistance approved and confirmed with me on the phone a thousand dollars of emergency money to be paid on behalf of my new tenants on the exact same day that the satellite dish installer confirmed with me on the phone the location of the new dish and the placement of the large screens throughout the house. Meanwhile I don't take paid TV because of the cost and because I am too busy to watch. The story is true.  I have the address names and phone numbers.  And it is not unique.  Sorry for the generalization, but they all take cable or direct tv and the time that gets set up is on move-in, the same time that emergency assistance generally kicks in - every 6 months!

Instead of restricting things, we are advertising to get more clients into the programs.
5577  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government Programs, spending, budget process on: August 24, 2010, 11:35:40 AM
Sidetracked by contract micro-details of local governments paying for REAL work, maybe we should next take a look at the myriad of transfer programs federal state and local that pay people to NOT work.  One of the most abused that I see with my work in the inner city is SSI.  There are times when I am studying rental applications for income and start to believe that everybody by me is getting a check.

It is hard to oppose paying small amounts, maybe 450 per month per adult, to the disabled, except when you find out that nearly everyone in certain neighborhoods is disabled, physically, mentally or otherwise.  It makes sense from a distance until you see them carrying in some very large and heavy entertainment systems and expensive furniture for them to relax all day.

One way that they are able to get a note from their doctor is that they already getting free taxpayer paid healthcare so a doctor is only a taxpayer paid cab ride and waiting room visit away whenever you need one.

The cash payment goes ostensibly to pay for food, shelter and clothing except the same people here are also receiving food stamps, free clothing and often housing programs in addition to free unlimited healthcare.  I would also observe that because of the cash and other basics free, and time on their hands because they are banned from working so these people tend to have larger budgets available for beer, pot and cigarettes than most of the rest of us might have.

CCP (and others), how is it that these doctors determine these able bodied looking adults unable to participate in 'substantial gainful activity' (while the real disabled such as those returning from foreign wars with missing limbs are not exactly floating in cash)?
Another example I am finding is where people are paid by the government to take care of their own family member.  It is a huge, huge scandal IMO.  I will post more when I find out more like whether it is state, federal or county that is paying.

5578  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government Programs, spending, budget process on: August 23, 2010, 06:03:46 PM
I think he thought I was joining the chorus who complain that civil servants have it cushy and make a boatload of money with time off etc. while he is out risking it all in tough situations sometimes like war and sometimes worse and barely breaking even.  If Crafty had thought my words were offensive I don't think he would have passed them on.  I never questioned our moderator's good faith on that or on posting the reply.  He made the effort to get firsthand input and he made the effort coming back to add a fair warning label.  My frustration was that thoughts so clear in my mind don't come out clearly after typed or received, because what he read was not at all what I was trying to say.  Participating here for one thing is an attempt to work on that.

The friend at NYPD might also have thought the true numbers in total compensation are false because his own past and current paychecks don't look at all like that, especially if he has a spouse working and earning.  I imagine he has an astonishing percentage of total pay taken from him before he sees it, good parts of that distributed to people like he runs across including the crackheads for example while his own bills remain challenging.  
As I re-posted from the earlier thought, I have no idea how to value things like climbing into a burning building (fire dept.), military or police work except to elect and trust representatives that can do what's right and attract and retain the best people they can within the fiscal constraints they face.

Unions like to negotiate salary, benefits and work rules as separate items.  We should IMO negotiate the total compensation, then let the worker designate for him/herself how they would like it distributed.
5579  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Asian Geopolitics: India and China on: August 22, 2010, 01:29:21 PM
From 'The Economist', which is not exactly my political cup of tea but good with international coverage, some insights and perspective on China and India which I don't wholly support but find to be a very worthwhile read.

A HUNDRED years ago it was perhaps already possible to discern the rising powers whose interaction and competition would shape the 20th century. The sun that shone on the British empire had passed midday. Vigorous new forces were flexing their muscles on the global stage, notably America, Japan and Germany. Their emergence brought undreamed-of prosperity; but also carnage on a scale hitherto unimaginable.

Now digest the main historical event of this week: China has officially become the world’s second-biggest economy, overtaking Japan. In the West this has prompted concerns about China overtaking the United States sooner than previously thought. But stand back a little farther, apply a more Asian perspective, and China’s longer-term contest is with that other recovering economic behemoth: India. These two Asian giants, which until 1800 used to make up half the world economy, are not, like Japan and Germany, mere nation states. In terms of size and population, each is a continent—and for all the glittering growth rates, a poor one.

This is uncharted territory that should be seen in terms of decades, not years. Demography is not destiny. Nor for that matter are long-range economic forecasts from investment banks. Two decades ago Japan was seen as the main rival to America. Countries as huge and complicated as China can underachieve or collapse under their own contradictions. In the short term its other foreign relationships may matter more, even in Asia: there may, for instance, be a greater risk of conflict between rising China and an ageing but still powerful Japan. Western powers still wield considerable influence.

So caveats abound. Yet as the years roll forward, the chances are that it will increasingly come down once again to the two Asian giants facing each other over a disputed border (see article). How China and India manage their own relationship will determine whether similar mistakes to those that scarred the 20th century disfigure this one.

Neither is exactly comfortable in its skin. China’s leaders like to portray Western hype about their country’s rise as a conspiracy—a pretext either to offload expensive global burdens onto the Middle Kingdom or to encircle it. Witness America’s alliances with Japan and South Korea, its legal obligation to help Taiwan defend itself and its burgeoning friendships with China’s rivals, notably India but also now Vietnam.

This paranoia is overdone. Why shouldn’t more be asked from a place that, as well as being the world’s most-populous country, is already its biggest exporter, its biggest car market, its biggest carbon-emitter and its biggest consumer of energy (a rank China itself, typically, contests)? As for changing the balance of power, the People’s Liberation Army’s steady upgrading of its technological capacity, its building of a blue-water navy and its fast-developing skills in outer space and cyberspace do not yet threaten American supremacy, despite alarm expressed this week about the opacity of the PLA’s plans in a Pentagon report. But China’s military advances do unnerve neighbours and regional rivals. Recent weeks have seen China fall out with South Korea (as well as the West) over how to respond to the sinking in March, apparently by a North Korean torpedo, of a South Korean navy ship. And the Beijing regime has been at odds with South-East Asian countries over its greedy claim to almost all of the South China Sea.

India, too, is unnerved. Its humiliation at Chinese hands in a brief war nearly 50 years ago still rankles. A tradition of strategic mistrust of China is deeply ingrained. India sees China as working to undermine it at every level: by pre-empting it in securing supplies of the energy both must import; through manoeuvres to block a permanent seat for India on the United Nations Security Council; and, above all, through friendships with its smaller South Asian neighbours, notably Pakistan. India also notes that China, after decades of setting their border quarrels to one side in the interests of the broader relationship, has in recent years hardened its position on the disputes in Tibet and Kashmir that in 1962 led to war. This unease has pushed India strategically closer to America—most notably in a controversial deal on nuclear co-operation.

Autocrats in Beijing are contemptuous of India for its messy, indecisive democracy. But they must see it as a serious long-term rival—especially if it continues to tilt towards America. As recently as the early 1990s, India was as rich, in terms of national income per head. China then hurtled so far ahead that it seemed India could never catch up. But India’s long-term prospects now look stronger. While China is about to see its working-age population shrink (see article), India is enjoying the sort of bulge in manpower which brought sustained booms elsewhere in Asia. It is no longer inconceivable that its growth could outpace China’s for a considerable time. It has the advantage of democracy—at least as a pressure valve for discontent. And India’s army is, in numbers, second only to China’s and America’s: it has 100,000 soldiers in disputed Arunachal Pradesh (twice as many as America will soon have in Iraq). And because India does not threaten the West, it has powerful friends both on its own merits and as a counterweight to China.

A settlement in time

The prospect of renewed war between India and China is, for now, something that disturbs the sleep only of virulent nationalists in the Chinese press and retired colonels in Indian think-tanks. Optimists prefer to hail the $60 billion in trade the two are expected to do with each other this year (230 times the total in 1990). But the 20th century taught the world that blatantly foreseeable conflicts of interest can become increasingly foreseeable wars with unforeseeably dreadful consequences. Relying on prosperity and more democracy in China to sort things out thus seems unwise. Two things need to be done.

First, the slow progress towards a border settlement needs to resume. The main onus here is on China. It has the territory it really wants and has maintained its claim to Arunachal Pradesh only as a bargaining chip. It has, after all, solved intractable boundary quarrels with Russia, Mongolia, Myanmar and Vietnam. Surely it cannot be so difficult to treat with India?

That points to a second, deeper need, one that it took Europe two world wars to come close to solving: emerging Asia’s lack of serious institutions to bolster such deals. A regional forum run by the Association of South-East Asian Nations is rendered toothless by China’s aversion to multilateral diplomacy. Like any bully, it prefers to pick off its antagonists one by one. It would be better if China and India—and Japan—could start building regional forums to channel their inevitable rivalries into collaboration and healthy competition.

Globally, the rules-based system that the West set up in the second half of the 20th century brought huge benefits to emerging powers. But it reflects an out-of-date world order, not the current global balance, let alone a future one. China and India should be playing a bigger role in shaping the rules that will govern the 21st century. That requires concessions from the West. But it also requires commitment to a rules-based international order from China and India. A serious effort to solve their own disagreements is a good place to start.
5580  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Libertarian Issue: Private Sector Pay and economic liberties on: August 22, 2010, 01:05:44 PM
Coming off my fight with NYPD and what I don't know about what they do and how expensive it is to live there, which is true, may I point out that people in Washington DC have no idea about private sector work and pay across the heartland either.  Short of forced labor camps etc. they should not be concerned about what free people pay each other with legislation like minimum wage and other mandates.

GM linked a story on the Govt Spending thread that NYPD would pay $80,000 to train a police officer and then a competing department elsewhere hires them away and saves the expense.  That happens in the private sector too.  There should be no mandate that companies pay people to be trained or pay certain amounts before they are providing a positive value to the organization.  Consenting adults can work out private contracts amongst themselves.  Once the employee is of good value to the organization then seldom is there any need for protection from the government anyway.  People can vote with their feet and leave and spread the word about which companies are lousy to work for.

Employers shouldn't face minimums to pay people who make substantial tips.  At the high end we shouldn't be basing any public policies on tyrannical views like that is enough money - no one needs more money than xxx.  We shouldn't be mandating what programs people's own pay gets put into other than their paycheck.  It is a violation of their economic freedom. Unions that do that are not always doing their members a favor.  Maybe they make 3% on an investment account while they are paying 20% on a credit card or late on their mortgage.

Even with the taxes we pay the withholding should not be mandatory before a taxpayer even knows what their deductions and credits for the year will be.  It is enough for them to mandate the filing and require the payment.  They have enough power to enforce that without mandatory withholding.

Besides minimum wage laws, there are also maximum wage proposals out there, that a company for example cannot pay anyone more than 20 times what the lowest person in the organization is paid.  The concept is a violation of your economic liberties and violates common sense.  In our town and MVP like Joe Mauer might make 20 million so should there be a law that the lowest batboy make a million?  If you are in Washington and think so then you don't understand the dynamics of markets or baseball, which means you don't understand the business of any other industry either.  Yet they want caps on bank fees and anything other gripe that people want the government to intervene on.  These proposals are gaining steam with the infusion of government money into private company ownership, like the 3 CEO changes at Government Motors.  These infusions are a violation of the economic rights of the competitor to operate freely and fairly on a level playing field

Groups should not be targeted for taxation, like the top 1%, the top 2% or 'only those making over 200,000'.  Taxation to pay for public goods should be applied evenly across people and across income.  The right to keep the rest of what you earned, other than taxes at the rate  everyone is taxed at, is a basic human liberty whether you are rich or not.  When they chip away at one group and then another, they are chipping away at you.

Short of things like pouring mercury into ground water and forced labor camps, they need to start respecting people's economic liberties and allow us to run our own businesses and make our own economic decisions.  Believe it or not, we can do it better ourselves.
5581  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government Programs, spending, budget process on: August 22, 2010, 02:25:41 AM
Crafty,  I don't suppose you quoted to him what I wrote earlier this week (next two paragraphs) on the same subject which might have helped him to understand in context that I was not saying anyone is overpaid or anyone is underpaid.  Where in my post did I write that anyway?   I don't have a dog in their fight and I didn't claim to know about their organization.  I quoted exact words from their website.  I was mostly making the point that 25k posted here is not 45k and we really are talking about roughly a 100k job (Not take home, but total compensation) by the time you get 5 years up to speed and I am still not saying that 100k is a lot of money for what a good cop in NYC does.  At the 100k level they probably see well under half of that in take home pay and that is one problem but again I was not judging the value of their work. If he was offended my statement that if the spouse is a school teacher then you are approaching punishable wealth, a little good detective work would tell him quickly that was totally political tongue in cheek because if you took any context to my posts you would know that I don't think 100 million or 500 trillion is punishable wealth, much less 200k or 25k or 45k or 91k.  I think all honestly earned wealth is good and there is no question that good cops deserve serious pay. 

Aug. 16. 2010 I wrote: "I wouldn't want to judge the real value of what anyone does, the danger that military, fire or police officers face, nor would they want to pay full value for my sacrifices and dangers as an inner city landlord.  We get what the market will bear and what it will take to get the right person to come in and do the job.

What I hate is when they disguise or deny the money we pay.  Telling us a teacher makes 50 or 60k when we pay out 90k because they aren't counting the deferred money or the benefits as pay. It is all pay. If they want portions of their pay in forced savings, health benefits, pension funds, taxes or anything else, that is their business."

THAT was my point, that pay is pay.  It all counts, even if it is low and even if major parts of it go to benefits or accounts in their name and don't show in a current paycheck, and to taxes.  How can we begin to judge the money if we can't say accurately what the money is and I was miffed at the original post for putting that information out wrong in my opinion. 

For all the insults, "macdoug or whatever his name is does not know what he's talking about", "people like this make me laugh", I didn't see anyone point out a fact that I posted wrong.  I assume he did not go to the link I twice provided where all the pay figures I posted came from.

Your friend wrote: "The first 5 years I was on the job I would put my life on the line, then come home and decide what bill I was going to skip."

Sounds like his interests may not have been well served by having more than half of his money earned not be in his paycheck those early years due to inflexible union contracts, benefits and deferrals and high taxes which go more to transfer payments (including the crackheads) than toward real public services like good police work.  Unfortunately I don't think he read that far into my post.

The remark about private sector comparisons in interesting.  In return there are civil servants who might not always count deferred compensation or benefits as pay because they think everyone gets them. I will tell you, 'Trust me, we don't'.

The interesting part of this to me from a public policy point of view is the PROCESS of how compensation is set.  It is not at all about me judging the risk, danger or value of someone else's work from a thousand miles away.
5582  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government Programs, spending, budget process on: August 21, 2010, 02:02:03 PM
"NYPD loses recruits to better paying agencies."

Nothing in that story ("hundreds of city cops, many of them rookies") tells us how many of those completed the 20 years and are PAID to leave, nor does the term hundreds out of 35,000 tell us anything significant.
Still, if essential jobs go unfilled, the pay plan will be upped - and it was.  The combination of both stories tells us that the process of setting and adjusting those payscales is 'horrific'.

GM, Did you mean to quote a 'starting salary' and then refer to it as "this pay is horrific" when in fact the salary quoted ("this pay") was just over half of current total pay and only for the training period.  The pay within just 5.5 years is nearly 4 times what was quoted and likely more with some overtime.  (The story quoted without link or date was from May 20, 2008, more than 2 years ago: )

Welcome to civil service.  We hear how little they make without learning honestly or accurately hearing how much they make.  Little things like recent increases, healthcare paid and other monies put into an account with their name on it don't really count.  NYPD link:

But once again, the problem with government budgets in NYC and America is not the cost of governing like paying police what is needed to get the job done.  The problem is that the majority of government expenditures go to transfer payments for no service at all, NOT to pay for real public services like police work.
5583  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government Programs, spending, budget process on: August 21, 2010, 12:48:34 PM
"NYC has a far, far higher cost of living than elsewhere."

Agree. I was teasing GM a bit, but as I posted previously - I hate when they tell you the pay is X when the real pay is Y.  Starting salary is MISLEADING.  In government-speak, 25k for 1st year police work is really 45k to go to school - police academy:   And after 5.5 years that becomes 91k.  Add a school teacher spouse to that and it takes you into the area we now call punishably rich. I don't know about police academy attendees, but trainees in business are not particularly valuable.  But 91k in 5 years for working 11 months of the year including paid medical, unlimited full paid for sick half pay for life for working 20 years is not something to sneeze at in this economy.

Not included in the 'salary': overtime pay, plus
    * 10 Paid vacation days during first & second year
    * 13 Paid vacation days during third, fourth & fifth year
    * 27 Paid vacation days after 5 years of service
    * Unlimited sick leave with full pay
    * A choice of paid medical programs
    * Prescription, dental, and eyeglass coverage
    * Annuity fund
    * Deferred Compensation Plan, 401K and I.R.A.
    * Optional retirement at one half salary after 20 years of service
    * Annual $12,000 Variable Supplement Fund (upon retirement)
    * Annual banking of $12,000 Variable Supplement Fund after 20 years of service (if not retiring)
    * Excellent promotional opportunities
    * Educational opportunities
    * Additional benefits are available to military personnel.

Looks to me like they know how to recruit.  Unlike private business, you can't stay at the entry level.  After 5 years and with a little overtime the officer makes over 100k for working 11 months of the year.  I'm not saying that is overpaid; I'm saying it's not a 25k job, the jobs are not going unfilled and the people are paying a high cost of living by choice.

"The NYPD has been casting its net far and wide in search of recruits."

That sounds like common sense.  Still essential jobs are not going unfilled.  If they do, then pay goes up-  by public choice instead of union and labor board panels.
Speaking of cost of living, it's funny how the social extremists keep telling the happy people who moving to the x-urbs that we all need to get more urbanized, live in greater density, that it is far more efficient to live close together and too costly to run a water or sewer pipe an extra mile or two out to the edge of town.  What a bunch of B.S.
5584  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government Programs, spending, budget process on: August 21, 2010, 11:25:31 AM
GM, I did a Google search of "NYPD jobs go unfilled" and amazingly got zero hits.  That work is so fun and rewarding that people will do it without pay.   smiley  Are you counting a free gun, free uniform and squad car usage in that 25k?
5585  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Economics: Dr. Keynes and Prof. Krugman on: August 21, 2010, 09:43:55 AM
Great post / analogy Crafty!  Our economy burdened with mandates, taxes, spending and regulations is so obese that we cannot reach down to tie our own shoes.  Posted under govt. spending is the new analysis that the public sector is eating up 63.4% of the resources available in the economy.  Answer: more spending, seriously.  It does not even mischaracterize the thought process of the ruling regime and their thought leaders.  Amazingly, the same day you posted Dr. Hayek and Dr. Keynes, Paul Krugman wrote another column poking fun at "austerians" and calling for even more government largess - I kid you not.

Dr. Krugman, we are not worshipping the bond Gods, we are just noticing and frightened by the fact that the public sector is consuming all of the oxygen in the room.  If we are living beyond our needs today, we will necessarily be living BENEATH our means tomorrow.  The current budget is $4 trillion, $2.5 trillion in revenues, 1.5 trillion in new debt added per year, with accumulating interest.  To spend below $4 trillion would be "human sacrifice".  The economic growth we have acquired from this Keynesian stimulus is ZILCH, well below the 3.1% or so that the economy requires.  I think this is one of those math or word problems where the uncluttered mind of a kindergardner can answer it more accurately than a Nobel prize winning economist - with an agenda.  Note where Obama gets his straw man argument style from, if we cut back (at all) on government spending it means we are giving up on job creation!

Paul Krugman

As I look at what passes for responsible economic policy these days, there’s an analogy that keeps passing through my mind. I know it’s over the top, but here it is anyway: the policy elite — central bankers, finance ministers, politicians who pose as defenders of fiscal virtue — are acting like the priests of some ancient cult, demanding that we engage in human sacrifices to appease the anger of invisible gods.

Hey, I told you it was over the top. But bear with me for a minute.

Late last year the conventional wisdom on economic policy took a hard right turn. Even though the world’s major economies had barely begun to recover, even though unemployment remained disastrously high across much of America and Europe, creating jobs was no longer on the agenda. Instead, we were told, governments had to turn all their attention to reducing budget deficits.

Skeptics pointed out that slashing spending in a depressed economy does little to improve long-run budget prospects, and may actually make them worse by depressing economic growth. But the apostles of austerity — sometimes referred to as “austerians” — brushed aside all attempts to do the math. Never mind the numbers, they declared: immediate spending cuts were needed to ward off the “bond vigilantes,” investors who would pull the plug on spendthrift governments, driving up their borrowing costs and precipitating a crisis. Look at Greece, they said.

The skeptics countered that Greece is a special case, trapped by its use of the euro, which condemns it to years of deflation and stagnation whatever it does. The interest rates paid by major nations with their own currencies — not just the United States, but also Britain and Japan — showed no sign that the bond vigilantes were about to attack, or even that they existed.

Just you wait, said the austerians: the bond vigilantes may be invisible, but they must be feared all the same.

This was a strange argument even a few months ago, when the U.S. government could borrow for 10 years at less than 4 percent interest. We were being told that it was necessary to give up on job creation, to inflict suffering on millions of workers, in order to satisfy demands that investors were not, in fact, actually making, but which austerians claimed they would make in the future.

But the argument has become even stranger recently, as it has become clear that investors aren’t worried about deficits; they’re worried about stagnation and deflation. And they’ve been signaling that concern by driving interest rates on the debt of major economies lower, not higher. On Thursday, the rate on 10-year U.S. bonds was only 2.58 percent.

So how do austerians deal with the reality of interest rates that are plunging, not soaring? The latest fashion is to declare that there’s a bubble in the bond market: investors aren’t really concerned about economic weakness; they’re just getting carried away. It’s hard to convey the sheer audacity of this argument: first we were told that we must ignore economic fundamentals and instead obey the dictates of financial markets; now we’re being told to ignore what those markets are actually saying because they’re confused.

You see, then, why I find myself thinking in terms of strange and savage cults, demanding human sacrifices to appease unseen forces.

And, yes, we are talking about sacrifices. Anyone who doubts the suffering caused by slashing spending in a weak economy should look at the catastrophic effects of austerity programs in Greece and Ireland.

Maybe those countries had no choice in the matter — although it’s worth noting that all the suffering being imposed on their populations doesn’t seem to have done anything to improve investor confidence in their governments.

But, in America, we do have a choice. The markets aren’t demanding that we give up on job creation. On the contrary, they seem worried about the lack of action — about the fact that, as Bill Gross of the giant bond fund Pimco put it earlier this week, we’re “approaching a cul-de-sac of stimulus,” which he warns “will slow to a snail’s pace, incapable of providing sufficient job growth going forward.”

It seems almost superfluous, given all that, to mention the final insult: many of the most vocal austerians are, of course, hypocrites. Notice, in particular, how suddenly Republicans lost interest in the budget deficit when they were challenged about the cost of retaining tax cuts for the wealthy. But that won’t stop them from continuing to pose as deficit hawks whenever anyone proposes doing something to help the unemployed.

So here’s the question I find myself asking: What will it take to break the hold of this cruel cult on the minds of the policy elite? When, if ever, will we get back to the job of rebuilding the economy?
5586  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Government spending: Hey, Happy Cost of Government Day Everybody! on: August 21, 2010, 12:03:53 AM
When Happy Cost of Government Day hits so late it spills over into Ramadan we really should start noticing that we have a problem.  (Speaking of religious holidays, polls say more people are looking forward to November 2nd than December 25th this year.)

The nice thing about Happy Cost of Government Day falling on August 19 is that now you are good to go.  Everything you make from today August 20th on until the end of the year is yours to spend anyway that you like - like maybe a little food for the family, a new pair of shoes or maybe a bicycle for one of the kids.

You people calling it all socialism just because you work 8 months for the government are over-reacting.  For the next 4 months, it's all yours.  Get out and enjoy it!  For the way our nation has been voting and governing we are lucky to keep one day's earnings in a year.

Cost of Government Day Finally Arrives on August 19, 2010

Every year, the Americans for Tax Reform Foundation and the Center for Fiscal Accountability calculate Cost of Government Day. This is the day on which the average American has earned enough gross income to pay off his or her share of the spending and regulatory burdens imposed by government on the federal, state, and local levels.

In 2010, Cost of Government Day falls on August 19. That means working people must toil 231 days out of the year just to meet all costs imposed by government. In other words, the cost of government consumes 63.41 percent of national income.

“Two years ago Americans worked until July 16 to pay for the cost of government: all federal, state and local government spending and regulatory costs.  That government was too expensive and wasteful.  Two years later, we work until August 19 for the same bloated government.  We have lost an additional full month of our income to pay the cost of government in just the last two years,” said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform.
5587  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Way Forward for the American Creed: I want your money on: August 19, 2010, 06:23:47 PM
Impressive, short video 2 1/2 minutes, summarizes the political time we live in.

5588  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Political Economics: Robert Reich's lame wet noodle argument on: August 19, 2010, 04:02:37 PM

Watch for these liberal pretend economist arguments to slip into the political debate in your own congressional districts and senate races.  As Reich puts it: "supply-side economics won't create jobs. It's pushing on a wet noodle. Businesses create jobs only if consumers are pulling the noodle from the other end."  Corporations are sitting on plenty of cash but won't hire with it.  Tax cuts won't help that he argues.  In reality he means tax rate increases that are coming won't make it that much worse...

First of all, the publicly traded companies of Dow and NASDAQ are not the small businesses of America that will generate the next expansion.

Reich forgets that a good part of our existing demand is used up purchasing foreign made products and services because the climate and cost and regulatory structure are prohibitive.  And too much of the demand elsewhere in the world is directed toward also purchasing non-USA products where we once were the leaders.

Some of our hiring is held up by the uncertainty of future costs and penalties associated with new healthcare requirements, ccap and trade energy restrictions, tax increases, property tax increases, energy cost increases and who knows what else might be coming down the pike between now and when this anti-business, anti-freedom, anti-growth crowd loses their power.  Tax cuts alone do not make up a 'supply side' policy.  The regulatory maze and the flood of public spending competing for resources are big parts of the puzzle also.

You can't tell me that pro-growth policies that would bring unemployment down from 10% back to 5% would not increase consumer demand and business product and services in this country.  You cannot convince me that making it easier and less costly to hire and produce here would not shift some production to here and some consumer purchasing to American goods and away from the foreign competitor.  You cannot even convince me that even if all the sales of new production here went to overseas markets that the money coming back wouldn't provide a burst and a boost to our own economy our own demand and lead to new hiring.  You cannot tell me that lowering corporate tax rates from the highest in the world of western civilization to the median of the OECD countries would not have an affect on keeping and attracting new jobs to our economy.

What Mr. Reich needs to do is first get all the parties in power such as Obama, Pelosi, Valerie Jarret and Van Jones (is he still around?) to at least admit and declare publicly that real economic growth is a public good of value, not something to be attacked, before we can seriously argue out what is the best set of policies to achieve it.

Currently the US Dollar is within about 5% of its all-time historic low.  You cannot convince me that this would not be a perfect time to be selling Made-in-USA goods all around the globe - if only we were still producing anything.

So much for pushing on a wet noodle.
5589  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Fascism, liberal fascism, progressivism: on: August 19, 2010, 03:27:58 PM
Boyo,  I agree that an Ann Coulter event deserves the same type of protections.  Shouting her down is not any kind of free speech, just a violation of someone else's rights.  Even the John Bush affair wasn't about what he could say, it was about where.  A campus that hires 95% liberals needs to understand that outside speakers will be required to offer any kind of balance.  I frankly despise having to frequent conservative-bias sites to get the even the facts of most stories much less a conservative take, while liberals seem comfortable to build and maintain a bubble of protection around them from other views, seldom curious about why half (or more) of our society might think differently than they do. 

Private Universities can rise and fall on their own reputation.  There is no excuse for supporting the use of public funds in these public universities (or K-12) that won't end the indoctrination described in the documentary.
Update on John Bush from his own site: "Bush was held on a criminal trespass charge, a class B misdemeanor, in the Travis County jail Monday evening. He was subsequently released, and made several media appearances on Tuesday."
The pie thrower who hit Sen Carl Levin D-Mich. was arrested and charged with a felony.
To the protesters on both sides, the idea isn't to persuade or confront your opponents; the point is to organize and defeat them politically.
5590  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Middle East War on: August 19, 2010, 01:00:14 PM
"Nice find on that clip of President Clinton."

I'm glad it was appreciated.  Really just hollow words though without the followup video made possible by the policies of his successor and the American military; Saddam Hussein's hanging is at about the 1:37 mark of this clip12/30/2006:

In both cases you would think the availability of google, youtube and camcorders everywhere would begin to persuade world leaders to behave better.
5591  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: China on: August 18, 2010, 11:37:46 PM
"a strong case can be made that China is a huge bubble.  Furthermore its unique demographic profile presents deep questions."

During the last expansion here, we had more GDP growth in part of a decade than they have in total GDP. China cut a corporate tax rate (Jan.2008) that was already below ours, right as our taxes were promised to get worse and right as our economy was starting to tank and needing the same type of real production stimulus.  Their economy is more dependent on ours than ours is on theirs, IMO.  If they outperform us going forward, the fault is all our own.  They have had phenomenal growth but as Crafty hints, there is plenty wrong in China.

A healthy Chinese economy and a growing world middle class is a healthy thing for the U.S. economy, assuming we also choose to engage and compete, except for the aspect and the extent to which they are military enemies of us.
5592  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Fascism, liberal fascism, progressivism: on: August 18, 2010, 11:20:08 PM
Looks to me like the Univ. of Texas administrators were trying to balance these rights, the students, the security of a Presidential visit, accommodate but contain the protest, etc. and just got it wrong in the sense of overly restricting the protest.  The police were determined to enforce the rule but seemed like they were trying very hard not to further cause the situation to escalate.

OTOH, these campus restrictions and protest restrictions are not wholly the same thing as losing your right to free speech.  In both the example of the GOP convention that I gave and with the Obama visit, the protesters are piggybacking off of the popularity of the main event.  Yet they still have the same right to book the same convention center, bring 50,000 of their own people in, speak to their hearts' content, sell the networks on the idea of coverage or broadcast their own message out, even form a party, endorse a ticket and get their names on the ballot.  At Univ. Texas, same thing.  I assume John Bush could rent an auditorium on campus, host an event, get a park permit for an event somewhere in town, draw his own crowd and speak all day on anything short of inciting violence.  To some extent the protesters are trying to take something away from the scheduled event - the easy way out - instead of throwing their own event and taking on the burden of drawing their own crowd and putting out their own message.
5593  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: August 18, 2010, 10:54:18 PM
"service members who are in the lower 3 ranks with kids can qualify for some welfare programs"
Of course it shouldn't be that way but there are some factors to consider: a) a lot of their compensation is deferred, b) a significant part is not counted as income such as education benefits, housing, food, medical care, etc. c) our social welfare programs are screwed up so qualifying doesn't for sure mean you are poor, and d) there is some market aspect to military recruiting - they have budget constraints but they have to come up with packages sufficient to recruit the numbers needed in the ranks. 
5594  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Middle East War on: August 17, 2010, 02:24:18 PM
Very interesting Strat, as always.  Seems to me they exaggerate our goal number 3, ending with a pro-American government.  Pro-American is a little hard to arrange.  We would I think settle for anything that involves stability, self-determination and not actively planning (or harboring) attacks against American interests. 

Iran is a key player and factor but I wonder if Stratfor overestimates how much the Iraqis, even Shia, want to be controlled by Iran. 

Iran has some stability issues of its own with 70 million oppressed people.  The USA by now should have some covert destabilization contingency plan of its own ready to deploy in Iran, short of an invasion.  In Iraq it was the previous Dem administration in 1998, candidate Gore in 2000 as well as many inconsistent, antiwar Democrats of the 2000s who kept alleging that "regime change" policy did not mean all-out military invasion.  Similarly could be covert destabilization efforts could be launched or threatened within Iran.  Even if unsuccessful, they could keep the tyrannical regime busy with problems of its own.  Here is Clinton '98 discussing efforts to destabilize Iraq toward regime change:

For all the talk by Obama and his cronies about political rather than military solutions in conflicts, in Iraq it is the military effort succeeding and the political situation failing at the moment, yet he has his ace number one chief diplomat HRC assigned elsewhere.  If I were President Barack "I have a Gift" Obama, friend of all Arabs and Muslims, I would send myself to the negotiating table (the photo-opp of the century) and sit down now with all the factions, here them all out and then settle the issues, letting each side believe that they won all they could win in the negotiations for power. 

After we leave and destabilization comes back and spreads across the country, that opportunity to negotiate and settle power may never again be possible.
5595  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Political Economics: Police costs on: August 16, 2010, 03:23:12 PM
Deficits and out of control public spending are not caused by police costs.  Real governing and public service functions make up a tiny fraction of the total we pay.  Police forces are cut first to punish us for wanting to cut or even contain costs.

OTOH, real public functions like police work don't have much market discipline to control costs.  Requires wise and responsible management to look for innovation and searches for new efficiencies.  Often their hands are tied with work rules and union contracts.

Our small town contracts with other neighboring towns for police and some other services.  We can negotiate a half of a cop of coverage or we can contract with a different neighboring force for cost sharing so there is in fact some choice and competition.  But we have almost no crime.  Problem here is that in a county larger than several states we are also paying for all the third world behaviors and the welfare-destroyed culture of a major inner city with all its problems spilling over to the inner ring suburbs.
5596  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Way Forward: Karl Rove? on: August 16, 2010, 02:15:34 PM
"if... Rove is consolidating his political behind the scenes power in the party, than what does that mean for the future of the party?"

IMHO Rove was never the problem.  He is an adviser, not a politician or a leader.  Presidents need political advisers to figure out the political implications of things.  Rove made mistakes, all of them did.  This is a different time and his political advice would be different.  Rove's name is political poison to some I'm sure but I think he is a conservative with a keen insight.  Rove has value, skill, weaknesses and baggage, but I don't think he has any power or ever will other than the power of his ideas. Bush probably used him beyond his area of expertise and that was the Presdent's fault. I don't think any candidate would hand the whole campaign or agenda over to him today. A real leader has to take in all the advice in different directions and then do the right thing.

If I were a candidate, I would love to hear his advice, especially if I could get it in private without being tied publicly to advisers that brought us the failures of the past (and a number of successes).   Same with Dick Morris, though I wouldn't buddy around with him in public, but I would hear him out.  You have to win elections to govern and to prevent people like Pelosi-Obama from governing.  I would also consult and train with all the others I could find who have shown great skill at simplifying, clarifying and articulating the conservative message and define a realistic platform and agenda for this unique time in history.

I don't think Rove (or Cheney) ever controlled Bush or congress; I don't think Rahm or Axelrod control Obama, or Carville or Stephanopoulus controlled Clinton.  HW Bush caved in to his advisers but that again was his fault and his responsibility. We have just had a series of inconsistent or wrong headed leaders unfortunately.
5597  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Political Economics: Civil servant compensation and retirement on: August 16, 2010, 01:36:35 PM
It is not (IMO) the amount civil servants are paid, it is the process that is screwed up.  I don't know what amount of money it would take to hire and retain good people for key positions in any location but we all know stories of where it is all skewed.  I remember my daughter's principal saying he had one thousand applicants for each teaching position open - this was during economic boom, not recession. You could call it high pay or low pay, fair or unfair pay, but we know for certain it is above market pay. That principal went on to retire right as he entered what would have been the peak of his business executive career at age 55, left the community, draws a good check, and entered another career.  A family member retired from the federal government with full pension in his 40s, an air traffic controller. They want the controllers out of traffic control because of the stressors, but same employer also hires national park attendants or whatever.  Move the beat cop to detective if deserving or other position that fits his/her current abilities.  If still on the beat at 55-65, I would give the deserving officer a firearm with a little better range.  In Minneapolis, the police don't run down muggers or investigate the crime anyway, so here age shouldn't be an issue.  Note that I did see DBMA video of a youthful aging athlete training on hills with very heavy packs at beachside and I (similar age) still enjoy defeating college athletes at my sport (tennis), though the aches and pains do increase over time.  My parents age 85 self-employed still work, by their own choice.

I wouldn't want to judge the real value of what anyone does, the danger that military, fire or police officers face, nor would they want to pay full value for my sacrifices and dangers as an inner city landlord.  We get what the market will bear and what it will take to get the right person to come in and do the job.

What I hate is when they disguise or deny the money we pay.  Telling us a teacher makes 50 or 60k when we pay out 90k because they aren't counting the deferred money or the benefits as pay. It is all pay. If they want portions of their pay in forced savings, health benefits, pension funds, taxes or anything else, that is their business.

The concept of public employees union violates the reason I thought that workers needed to organize - the greedy capitalist has disproportionate power over the lowly worker.  How can it be that a government of the people, by the people and for the people needs it's power to negotiate curtailed? 
5598  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The State of the War in Afghanistan - NY Times on: August 15, 2010, 07:13:42 PM
3 page editorial basically favoring the war and stating that we have a long way to go.  My take on their take: There is currently a Presidential promise in place to end our commitment in less than one year.  If kept that means all we sacrificed so far and for the next year will be lost.  Gen. Petraeus seems to have the job of explaining to everyone sensible that we will stay longer.  The NY Times apparently has taken the assignment of explaining it to the liberal elites, the academics, the arts crowd and the kooks that make up the rest of the (Obama) ruling coalition. The President will follow later with some fireside chat and explain to us what we already knew from these surrogates.  As the NY Times puts it: "Americans need regular, straight talk from President Obama about what is happening in Afghanistan, for good and ill, and the plan going forward."  I'm sure it is coming - as soon as his pollsters and political advisers tell him it is time to do that.
5599  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Glibness: My Top Priority is... these 13 things on: August 15, 2010, 05:34:20 PM
The dictionary defines "top" as a singular entity: "the part of anything that is first or foremost."

August 13, 2010 3:34 PM
How Many "Top Priority" Issues Does Obama Have?
Posted by Mark Knoller

After the Senate passed that $600 million Border Security Bill yesterday, President Obama issued a statement asserting that securing the southwest border has been "a top priority" since he took office.

But if you think Mr. Obama can have but a single "top priority," you'd be wrong. He's got a load of them.

In an Address to the Nation two months ago, Mr. Obama declared "our top priority is to recover and rebuild from a recession that has touched the lives of nearly every American."

More than any other issue, he has used the phrase "top priority" about digging the economy out of the recession and creating jobs. And on this issue, he drew a distinction between "a" top priority and "the" top priority.

"Creating jobs in the United States and ensuring a return to sustainable economic growth is the top priority for my Administration," he said in an Executive Order last March on his National Export Initiative.

Early in his administration, Mr. Obama also assigned the "top priority" label to his campaign promise to overhaul America's health care system. But a check of his speeches since taking office, reflect a bevy of other "top priorities:"

FREE TRADE AGREEMENTS: "...that's something that's going to be a top priority." (4/27/10)

ENERGY SECURITY: "And that's why my energy security plan has been one of the top priorities of my Administration since the day I took office." (4/28/10)

EDUCATION REFORM: "To train our workers for the jobs of tomorrow, we've made education reform a top priority in this Administration." (2/24/10)

STUDENT LOAN REFORM: "This is something that I've made a top priority." (2/1/10)

EXPORTS BY SMALL BUSINESSES: "This is going to be a top priority." (12/3/09)

HEALTH ASSISTANCE TO 9/11 FIRST RESPONDERS: "I'm not just talking the talk, we've been budgeting this as a top priority for this Administration." (2/3/10)

END HOMELESSNESS AMONG VETERANS: "I've also directed (Veterans Affairs) Secretary Shinseki to focus on a top priority: reducing homeless among veterans." (8/17/09)

HURRICANE PREPAREDNESS: "Our top priority is ensuring the public safety. That means appropriate sheltering in place or if necessary, getting as many people as possible out of harm's way prior to landfall." (5/29/09)

H1N1 FLU VACCINATIONS: "And throughout this process, my top priority has been the health and the safety of the American people." (5/1/09)

SUPPORT FOR MILITARY FAMILIES: "These military families are heroes too. And they are a top priority of Michelle and me. And they will always have our support." (5/30/09)

STRENTHENING TIES WITH CANADA AND MEXICO: "We're going to make this a top priority..." (10/16/09)

CONSUMER PROTECTION: "During these challenging times, the needs of American consumers are a top priority of my Administration." (2/11/09)

ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION: "So this is going to be a top priority generally improving our environmental quality." (11/5/09)

The dictionary defines "top" as a singular entity: "the part of anything that is first or foremost."

By designating a multitude of "top priorities," Mr. Obama can be seen trying to score political points with the constituencies for all of these issues.

Mark Knoller is a CBS News White House correspondent.
5600  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: August 15, 2010, 01:23:00 PM
JDN, I took this quote (away from context)over to politics to answer:" Until Bush came along I was a life long Republican.  The Republican core ideals can and do apply to all ethnic groups.  I blame it on poor Republican leadership and vague or unrealistic platforms.  The core (good) story of the Republican party is just not getting out."

Not just Bush, but the R. congress of that time needs to be answered.  Some here are conservatives, some are libertarians.  I'm sure some are neither, but among those who are like-minded we need to find areas of overlap such as founding principles and apply and promote the message.

Putting an R by your name doesn't make Bush, McCain or anyone else a Republican, a conservative, a libertarian or anything else.  Looking back, I give the Nixon presidency to the Dems (of today), the JFK tax cuts to the R's of today and the Clinton and Bush Presidencies mixed reviews. What I like to do is argue out are the policies and the vision, not the people and their blemishes. 

Bush created a huge new entitlement.  At that moment he was a Democrat by my labeling.  Likewise for No child Left Behind.   Whether they got the policy details right or wrong, it was a federal expansion into a non-federal area and that was wrong.  Problem with those reachout and crossover moves was that his new friends were backstabbers while he started to lose his old friends.  Bush siding with Dems on 'amnesty'. It was realpolitik idea for Republicans, like you suggest, but not a conservative, enforce our laws and our borders direction. Other policies of Bush were economically expansive or national security based, in crude modern terms things I call conservative.  Overall spending along with the earmark political payoff spending was obscene - and that congress were punished, politically, as was our nation.

Roughly 40% of the electorate is politically conservative and 40% liberal.  When a President's approval drops below 50% approval, he is losing support from moderates.  Dropping below 40% means losing the base. 

The Pelosi-Obama fiasco has given the Republican-conservative-libertarian movement a teachable moment, and remember that power in Washington shifted in Nov. 2006, not Jan. 2009.

There is a set of ideals and policies that we need in this country.  We will argue over what those are, but we need to settle some of the basic questions as a coalition if we want a direction changing election to have any meaning or mandate. 

If we can get that roadmap, blueprint, platform right, and get that very clear message out, then I don't care so much who joins in or who opposes us. 

What we had previously was muddled policies, muddled directions, muddled leaders and muddled elections.  What we learn from that is nothing IMO.  I agreed with the sentiment of 2006/2008 of throw the bums out.  I just think what followed should have been a clear and careful turn to the right instead of a sharp blind turn to the left.  That choice was never on the ballot.

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