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5651  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics - Channel Harding not FDR on: February 03, 2009, 05:55:16 PM
Obama Should Channel Harding, Not FDR
By Matt Kibbe

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

President Obama has mentioned his fondness for FDR. Let's hope he soon comes to prefer Harding.
Matt Kibbe is president of the FreedomWorks Foundation.
5652  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: February 03, 2009, 10:29:37 AM
GM: "At least the dems that love to raise and spend taxes are very diligent about paying them, right?"

 - I wonder if anyone other than his opponents has noticed what a pattern of disaster his appointments have been.
5653  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Food Chain and Food Politics on: February 03, 2009, 10:17:49 AM
Rachel,  Thank you for sourcing your view on soil neglect. I will look into it further before commenting other than this, I find it counter-intuitive and it doesn't match my experience that others care more about preserving the quality and value of a resource than the resource owner.
5654  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: February 03, 2009, 10:13:14 AM
With reference to Rachel's bill signing photos, I see your point regarding political skill.  I also see a group of white conservative men more concerned about those most needing our protection than the most powerful liberal women in the country.

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

The fitting crowd to assemble for the partial birth abortion ban photo should have been a visiting classroom of smiling black school children since abortion hits black children at THREE TIMES the rate of white children.  Yet we celebrate this Auschwitz style tradition in the cloak of "Reproductive Rights".
5655  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Bush Presidency on: January 25, 2009, 02:08:56 PM
"unchecked private sector without regulation certainly can't be trusted either...If the SEC simply enforced laws already on the books, if we simply enforced our immigration laws and include those of us who hire them for example, we would not have the mess we are in."

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

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

As Scott Grannis points out http://scottgrannis.blogspot.com/2009/01/no-relief-from-obamas-speech.html 90% of the budget, over 2 trillion and growing, could best be described as transfer payments, not governing.  Without trying to run every private industry from housing to health to energy to transportation to education, at the FEDERAL level, maybe they could perform their proper roles of governance and protecting the people a little more effectively.
5656  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan - Taliban radio on: January 25, 2009, 01:38:09 PM
"Using a portable radio transmitter, a local Taliban leader, Shah Doran, on most nights outlines newly proscribed “un-Islamic” activities in Swat, like selling DVDs, watching cable television, singing and dancing, criticizing the Taliban, shaving beards and allowing girls to attend school. He also reveals names of people the Taliban have recently killed for violating their decrees — and those they plan to kill."

 - If true, I can't imagine anyone still thinking this movement is less dangerous than Hitler-Nazi-ism was.
5657  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants on: January 25, 2009, 01:07:07 PM
Since weather is now political, I offer my comments on Minnesota winters as a political rant.  Like a hurricane victim in a hurricane zone, I know the reaction is - why do you live there, you fools.  I'll leave the positive aspects of changing seasons to another post with hopefully deeper thoughts.  Before food stamps on a credit card and free health care, we used to say that MN winters keep the riff-raff out.  It's pretty hard to live under a bridge with the weather we've been having.

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

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

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

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

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

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

My political point is that will you of all please make sure that politicians from San Francisco or Hawaii or anywhere else do not decide which ride is right for you, for your family, for your climate, for your profession, for your activities, ski races, hockey games, camping trips etc. etc. etc.  There are considerations and decisions that people make in their lives about what is best for them regarding where they live, what they drive and everything else, that are not best handled at your state capital, in Washington DC or at some global conference of corrupt kleptocrats.  Even if you forget some of the reasons why these people don't know what is best for you, please cling to what individual liberties and choices you have left with every vote you make.   - Doug
5658  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: January 25, 2009, 11:48:36 AM
Obama last week: "I won" [we'll do it my way!]   Bush in 2004: "Let me put it to you this way: I earned capital in the campaign, political capital, ... I've earned capital in this election -- and I'm going to spend it ..."
---
CCP regarding Rush, Hannity, Coulter: "[I am] a moderate Republican...I don't necessarily disagree with their philosophy but more their strategy."  - I agree, and I'm not a moderate Republican.  But these people are not R. strategists.  They are entertainers and pundits.  They are selling viewership and listenership, not hope, change or electoral success.
---
The argument that the rich keep getting richer I think is moot after this present downturn.  The rich get richer in an up economy because they are invested.  The rich get poorer in a collapse because they are invested.  Look at the famous quote from JFK about rising tides lift all boats.  For the rich it lifts a bigger boat.  We simply don't have a way to lift all but the rich though we keep trying to concoct schemes.
---
I was moved by a post about 'Soviet Britain' where in some areas the government is 70% of the economy.  The move towards socialism by both parties, but in this case, Obama-Pelosi, is not rhetoric or scaremongering.  It is the elephant in the room.
---
"...conservative George Will to me look like fools to have met with BO.  He is used them hook line and sinker.  I thought they were smarter than that.  I guess they fall for fanfare and celebritism like most everyone else."   - No, they aren't smarter than that and they aren't smarter than Obama.  And me neither.  My first reaction was that he is reaching out... A day later I think I read it more accurately, that he had a pro-life evangelist at a ceremony, that he broke bread with a few conservatives, etc. These are attempts to inoculate himself against the inevitable repeat of affiliations and liaisons with people like Jememiah Wright, Ahkmad 'dinejad etc.
---
While I rant about 'His Glibness', I am constantly reminded that Sarah Palin didn't answer a question about what she reads, but Barack Obama to my knowledge has never been asked what book he has EVER read about the free-enterprise system that is not anti-free-enterprise.
5659  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: January 23, 2009, 12:45:11 PM
"coherent strategy in Afg-Pak...fellow armchair generals, what should President Obama, what should America do?"

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

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

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

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

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

One reason terror organizations fester and have success recruiting is because nothing else is going on economically.  As one looks at the Pak map with borders to Iran and Aghan, it is hard to imagine economic progress in Pakistan in a global economy that doesn't involve peace, trade and commerce with India.
5660  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Bush Presidency on: January 23, 2009, 11:41:03 AM
I rarely find memoirs from outgoing administrations interesting or helpful, however I have been curious about the thoughts of Condaleeza Rice during the second term especially about the threats we face and what our actions should be. 

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

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

Rice's record at State would have been perfect for an Obama administration (Can we talk?) but I wonder if she would have advocated a more active and physical foreign policy if our hands were not tied. 
5661  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Bush Presidency - A supply-sider rips the Bush record on: January 21, 2009, 10:59:14 AM
I give Bush credit for lowering marginal tax rates and achieving amazing results.  Unfortunately the cuts were temporary and the results were squandered with spending and government expansion that is nearly always permanent.  My biggest complaint was Bush's inability to communicate positions and policies even when he was in the right.

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

Supply Siders Should Eagerly Bid Bush Adieu
By John Tamny  http://www.realclearmarkets.com/articles/2009/01/supply_siders_should_eagerly_b.html

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So while his being the only 21st century president means George W. Bush can presently claim to be both the best and worst of the century so far, it seems not much of a reach to assume that the man who said his administration had to intervene in markets in order to save them will go down as the worst economic president of the 21st century. Whatever history's judgement, supply-side thinkers should eagerly bid Bush goodbye for bringing discredit to economic theories that he sadly never implemented.
John Tamny is editor of RealClearMarkets, a senior economist with H.C. Wainwright Economics
5662  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics - Keynesian Stimulus? Keynes is Dead. on: January 20, 2009, 10:43:48 AM
Besides last year's 'stimulus', we already had a $400 billion dollar stimulus from the reduction in energy costs.  That boost could have occurred much sooner or we could have avoided the energy crunch altogether if government could have reduced its stranglehold on American energy production.

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

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

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

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

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

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

In the late 70s or early 80s the WSJ published an editorial called  "Keynes is Dead."  I would like to find that and see if any of that wisdom might help our new leaders today.
5663  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: The American Creed: Our Founding Fathers: on: January 16, 2009, 09:35:05 PM
Not a founding father, but one of my favorite quotes defending them:

JUDGE JOHN ROBERTS: I had someone ask me in this process, I don't remember who it was, but somebody asked me: are you going to be on the side of the little guy? You obviously want to give an immediate answer, but as you reflect on it, if the Constitution says that the little guy should win, the little guy is going to win in court before me. But if the Constitution says that the big guy should win, well, then the big guy is going to win, because my obligation is to the Constitution.
5664  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics- Never let a serious crisis to go to waste on: January 16, 2009, 08:43:38 PM
Crafty, thanks for posting the piece by Wehner and Ryan.  'Paul Ryan, congressman from Wisconsin, member of the Budget Committee and the Ways and Means Committee' - is one of the potential up and coming voices IMO for electable conservatism - beyond Wisconsin.  Also thanks for posting the Soviet plan from the current powers of the country.  In my view, if we want growth, we just lean a little toward pro-growth policies, not rip up the best economic system in the history of the planet and replace it with what you aptly describe as a copy of the failed Soviet, centrally planned economy.  As we contemplate further bailouts and phony 'stimuli', these contrasting views need to be studied side by side.  I recommend re-reading the Wehner/Ryan piece point by point after the soviet plan and also I recommend the following piece of common sense from Victor Davis Hanson.  He is not as pretty as the governor of our largest state but McCain would also have shocked the world by nominating VDH as running mate.  The MSM would have imploded trying knock down his wisdom:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and author.
5665  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues, bankrupt liberal media on: January 16, 2009, 08:39:28 PM
Speaking of media bias, could we please have a moment of silence for the (Minneapolis) StarTribune that filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy yesterday.  Known affectionately as the 'Red Star' or the 'Star and Sickle', this paper is as liberal as they come and their their bias runs from page one to the editorials to the weather and yes, through the sports section.  I know the financial crisis in the newspaper business is about advertising revenue and competition from free internet sources, but it doesn't help that your product is designed to alienate nearly 50% of your potential readers.

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

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

In chapter 11 they don't go away, they just quit paying their bills.  Maybe a savvy bankruptcy judge should require them to aim the product at more than half the market.
5666  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Legal Issues created by the War with Islamic Fascism on: January 12, 2009, 04:39:35 PM
"So, what our military faces in training is torture when applied to al qaeda terrorists? Give me your interrogation methods that will work while meeting your standard."

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

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

To understand torture better, look closely at the facilities and evidence uncovered from Saddam's regime.  Let's resolve to not be like them.
5667  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Food Chain and Food Politics on: January 12, 2009, 11:45:35 AM
"Doug,  Here is a start to answering your question."  - No, I think you came across something very interesting while looking for an answer to my question. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

It is my opinion that the flavorless, nutritionless tomatoes are bred for durability in shipment and longevity for the transport and for presentation at the store.  When we stop buying them, they will stop growing them.  When fresh tomatoes seem like plastic, I buy canned.  The farmers market idea is not always practical for those of us who live where the ground is frozen 6 months of the year.
5668  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Bush Presidency on: January 11, 2009, 11:47:25 AM
Marc,  Thanks for the kind words.  Feel free to revise or delete as we drift back to the abortion 'discussion'. 
5669  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Reproductive issues on: January 11, 2009, 11:43:28 AM
Quoting Rachel's post from 'the Jewish woman': "Conceiving a child is like conceiving an idea." - Oops, bad idea - stab, stab, stab.  No. Conceiving a child is NOT like conceiving an idea.

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


"I need to bring down my period, ...She was handed a packet of pills...Ms. Dominguez, two or three months pregnant...swallowed the pills one by one... passed a lifeless fetus, which she flushed..." - Curious how we know the fetus was lifeless before or after 'passing'.  How would a live 2 month fetus look different before flushing.  I assume the same pills wrongly administered in wrong dosage to a newborn would have the same affect, just harder to flush.
5670  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Food Chain and Food Politics on: January 11, 2009, 11:26:51 AM
Quoting Rachel: "If you using a lot of fertilizer the quality of your top soil  does not matter  as much."

Please source and quantify.  That's twice I've seen you trivialize the importance farmers put on top soil, but never have I heard a farmer (or homeowner with a garden) trivialize the importance of top soil.
5671  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Coming Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: January 11, 2009, 11:18:34 AM
Rachel wrote:  "GM-- This is the third or fourth time you have posted a poorly sourced smear regarding  Obama and Israel . "

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

Why would he meet freely with the leaders of Iran but not have 'low level contacts' with Hamas.
5672  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Bush Presidency on: January 09, 2009, 08:45:09 PM
I think it was Jay Leno who said Bush's big accomplishment was bringing an end to the drought in New Orleans...

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

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

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

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

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

4) Samuel Alito and especially Chief Justice John Roberts.

Biggest failures, time and space permitting:

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

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

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

4) Immigration reform - This was bungled.  Wrong program done in the wrong order - and never got it done.  My idea would be to cover the closing of illegal crossings with an expansion of immigration in the legal type, recruiting workers in skilled and educated fields where we need help, not just from one culture and not just mindless labor beneath the dignity of our local workforce.
5673  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: India and India-Pak on: January 09, 2009, 07:34:12 PM
I went to post India's evidence against Pakistan and saw that GM already got to it 2 days ago.  Again:  http://www.hindu.com/nic/dossier.htm

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

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

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

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

    Receiver: Pray that we find them.

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

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

    Caller: Greetings. What did the Major General say?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Caller: Kill them.

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

From the Taj Mahal Hotel:

    Caller: How many hostages do you have?

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

    Caller: I hope there is no Muslim amongst them?

    Receiver: No, none.

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

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

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

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

    Receiver: So be it, God willing.

------
I'm sure there must be some good reason why the evil incarnate that was revealed in the Mumbai attack, and the information that has emerged subsequently about Pakistan's role in it, did not give rise to world-wide protests and demonstrations. Offhand, though, I can't think what it might be.  - John Hinderacker, Powerline
5674  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: January 09, 2009, 12:08:02 PM
CCP: Thank you for your opposition to government run health care!

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

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

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

Not mentioned, Daschle was the ringleader of the blocking of appointments to the judiciary by the minority in the senate, so he went from winning re-election by 30 points to losing in his own state.
5675  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Russia-- Europe on: January 09, 2009, 10:14:24 AM
The behavior of Russia is very strange.  This is certainly a reminder that no one should rely on enemies or even unreliable friends for things that are life-sustaining or in this case sovereignty-sustaining.

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

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

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

Too bad that we are in no position to help those countries with energy... or security.  I suppose it is too far to ship coal and our leftist electorate won't let us produce more energy anyway.  Still I wonder what a U.S. or world response should be.  At the very least this rogue nation should be removed immediately from the security council and wishfully from the UN.  If the charter does not allow removal of a 'permanent' member then it is a good time IMO to form a new group - and be a little more selective this time.
5676  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors, Hamas' Congressman on: January 09, 2009, 09:33:04 AM
Denny had a recent post titled 'Two Great Videos'.  I agree with Michael Bloomberg.

At the other end of the spectrum, here is the congressman from CAIR, Minneapolis Representative Kieth Ellison on al Jazeera, trying to be persuasive the other way.  For Americans who believe there is moral equivalence between one side who wants to protect its own citizens and the other who intentionally endangers their own while they bomb and terrorize the innocent people that they hate, you can have our congressman.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HWb2rnOJBOA&
5677  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: January 08, 2009, 07:53:25 PM
Crafty wrote: "Marginal tax rates IMHO are a matter of the deepest import."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

'Debt is Good'.  It means that you can do more and go further if you are not totally restrained by the timing of income and outflows of funds.  That doesn't mean more debt is better or that what you invest in doesn't matter.  Most families take on debt to live in a home while they pay for it.  Alternatively, they could wait until accumulating 200k for a median home and then buy it.  By then most families won't need the yard or the swingset because the kids will be turning 50.  Same goes for a bridge over the Mississippi River and all the other public sector infrastructure projects that we need.  We could tax now, put away the money and build the bridges later when we have all the money.  Meanwhile, no one can reasonably commute across the river.  Goods don't move and goods don't get sold across the river, etc.  If we waited to pay for defense spending we might be speaking a Soviet language by now.  Debt, properly used and structured, can be good.
5678  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics - re. WSJ PD on: January 08, 2009, 05:51:32 PM
First, thanks for posting.  The WSJ editorialists are generally spot-on. Now the criticism...

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

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

Blagojevich is winning(?)... [Howard Dean] "could not help but admire the brilliance of the Blagojevich ploy." - NO.  Blagojevich is going to prison unless the charges are false or unprovable.  Winning this fight means nothing since he can't get paid for it.
5679  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants on: January 08, 2009, 12:41:04 PM
Corruption and cronyism in Chicago probably deserves its own topic but I'll just throw this in rants.

http://www.suntimes.com/news/education/1365268,CST-NWS-inspect07.article

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

January 7, 2009

BY ART GOLAB Staff Reporter agolab@suntimes.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Vaughn said the employees involved have resigned, been fired or will be fired.
5680  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The electoral process, vote fraud (ACORN et al) and more on: January 08, 2009, 12:37:22 PM
Joe Soucheray, columnist for the St. Paul Pioneer Press on the bizarre, selective recount below.  I said order a re-vote because the errors exceed the margin.  He says flip a coin - a far more fair and even process than the current one.  Now the legal process goes to the MN Supreme Court, former NFL MVP and Democrat activist Alan Page presiding.  We don't just elect wrestlers here, lol.

Soucheray: Recount stew cooked down to a horribly tainted end
By Joe Soucheray  http://www.twincities.com/soucheray

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Then, they shake hands, and the state sells off the 10,000 or so minted special coins and dedicates the proceeds to the arts or wetland restoration or, the way we are going, to providing more buses to bring numskulls to the polls. You just can't make a good recount stew without those questionable ballots.
5681  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Pathological Science on: January 08, 2009, 11:51:26 AM
While we wait for Al Gore's apology and while my email fills with cold weather warnings for my daughter's ski race this weekend- must take note that the dog sled races are canceled due to too much snow, lol. Not just that it's too much snow, but it has been so cold that the snow is too cold, too light, and too fluffy to pack on the trails.  I don't remember that prediction in the movie...

http://www.bemidjipioneer.com/articles/index.cfm?id=20594&section=News
How's this for odd? Minnesota sled dog race canceled because of too much snow
Patrick Springer, Forum Communications, Bemidji Pioneer
Published Tuesday, January 06, 2009
Here’s another entry for the annals of noteworthy winter weather: The dogsled race near Frazee, Minn., has been canceled because there’s too much snow.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cancellation of the dog races is a blow to Frazee, population 1,374. Last year’s two-day event drew 2,000 to 3,000 spectators, and contestants come from as far as Alaska, five Canadian provinces and five or six states.  “This is the NASCAR of sled-dogging, the sprint ones,” said Gale Kaas, Frazee Sled Dog Club secretary.
5682  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics - tax revolts on: January 07, 2009, 11:33:28 PM
Interesting article BBG.  Where are those people now who pushed Prop 13 to the forefront?  On my local front (Twin Cities, MN) in the past year we had 1) a tax increase handed to us by our county board to build a new MN Twins stadium.  Strangely, it is a county tax for a state resource - actually a private business - and I live further from the stadium site than 100% of the residents of St. Paul where the tax does not apply.  If you buy items outside the county and use them inside the county you are to file and send in the usage tax!!! We had 2) a gas tax hike from the state Dem. legislature, and worst of all 3) we had a statewide sales tax increase passed by the voters!  If you opposed the tax increase then you are opposing clean water and wanting our lakes to become filth (even though we already pay a state agency to ensure water purity.  Not exactly a tax revolt when a tax increase passes statewide by I think 8 points.  My property taxes on my home in Minnesota are 20 times higher than on my home in Colorado.

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

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

I frankly see more of a chance for revolt based on reckless use of public funds or play money from the Treasury - see SB Mig's post just preceding that characterizes Bush use of TARP funds as "lawlessness".  Apart from the allegation of unlawfulness in process, what about the constitutionality (equal protection?) of government helping individual businesses, punishing others and the economic system ignorance of not letting failing enterprises fail.  I think the revolt should be based this time on public spending and a turn back toward limits on government.  Once we decide to contain spending - at ALL levels, we can look at funding.
5683  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: His Glibness picking U.S. Emissaries on: January 07, 2009, 10:49:54 PM
Done appointing moderates? Yasser Arafat was a "peace partner"Huh
---------------------------------------
Dennis Ross and diplomacy-derangement syndrome

January 7, 2009  Paul Mirengoff http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2009/01/022493.php

Marc Ambinder reports that Barack Obama will make Dennis Ross his "chief emissary" to Iran. This strikes me as bad, though hardly surprising, news.

Ross' presents himself as reasonable and moderate in his writings and television appearances. But in social settings, when the cameras are off, he can come across quite differently. In such a setting, I heard him say of Hurricane Katrina that people already think we don't care about the rest of the world and now it turns out that we don't care about our own people either. This kind of vicious, stupid remark is the stuff of left-wing bloggers, not U.S. "emissaries."

But my main objection to Ross isn't Bush-derangement syndrome, but rather diplomacy-derangement syndrome. By this I mean boundless faith in diplomacy which, when possessed by a diplomat, probably reflects boundless faith in himself.

For roughly a decade, Ross persisted against all the evidence in believing that Yasser Arafat was a "peace partner" with whom Israel and the U.S. should negotiate and to whom Israel should make concessions. If Ross could believe this, the odds aren't terribly long that he believes, or will come to believe, that negotiations with, and concessions to, Ahmadinejad (as evil as Arafat and even more dangerous) and the Iranian regime are just what the doctor ordered.

At that point, for diplomats with diplomacy-derangement syndrome, "getting to yes" can easily become an imperative, without serious regard to the cost of getting there or what (if any) the actual benefits of "yes" may be. The resulting mischief is likely to be great, as was the case for Israel the last time Ross was an "emissary."
5684  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Food Chain and Food Politics on: January 07, 2009, 10:16:57 AM
I don't see anything logical or empirical about the owners of the farm land wanting or allowing the destruction of their own top soil.  There is a role for government in regulating what they allow to runoff onto other property or water supplies, but we have another federal department for that - the EPA.

U.S. Dept. of Agriculture IMO plays a very important role in public safety.  The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service of the USDA has had a quite a successful record for a government agency in achieving and maintaining public confidence in our food supply - so far.  We'll see how it goes with mad cow, bird flu and whatever is next, but the need for public safety and industry oversight is real.

But that is where it ends.  All of the spread the wealth, control the markets, limit the supplies, boost up the prices, divert the use of the land programs are highly unconstitutional, besides wrong-headed. 

I wonder which article of the constitution enumerates the power of the federal government to concoct schemes to use massive amounts of gas and diesel fuel to convert our food supply into more gas and diesel fuel..

Also, I am personally sick and tired of 5 year, 10 year and 50 year government plans and programs.  No congress has the right to bind the next congress and it is arrogant to keep thinking we today know better than those who will follow.  Every tax, every spending program and every regulation should expire every 2 years if not re-approved by those who win the next set of elections. 
5685  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The electoral process, vote fraud (ACORN et al) and more on: January 05, 2009, 06:41:11 PM
Quoting CCP: "It's too bad they won't have another election with the two front runners and without the third party candidate to decide a contested election like this."

I don't favor automatic runoff proposals where the minor party voters can name a second choice for a second count, but in this situation you are right.  The recount panel should have declared with certainty that the errors in this process are greater than the ever-changing lead.

Still I don't agree with leaving out the 3rd guy on a re-vote.  I think his vote percentage and chance of winning only go up as Minnesotans grow tired of both of these New Yorkers.  As I see it, the Coleman vote is mostly an anti-Franken vote and the Franken vote is mostly an anti-Republican vote.  Barkley's message was to blame both parties for the tone of campaigns and the mess that we are in - a message that couldn't be better aimed or timed.  Dean Barkley served as senator in this seat for about a minute - 6 years ago, appointed by Jesse Ventura after Paul Wellstone died, Walter Mondale lost and Norm Coleman waited to be sworn in.
5686  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Coming Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: January 05, 2009, 12:30:21 PM
As we complete the appointment of Democrats to the senate in 5 states: MN, DE, CO, IL and NY - to make 59 Democrats joining however many RINO's that share no show no affinity to principles of conservatism or constitutional limits, on a positive note I wanted to point out that 'control' of the senate requires 67 votes, not 51 or 60 as commonly quoted.  Major changes require 2/3 of the senate including ratifying treaties, starting the amendment process and convicting the impeached.

Don't let them hide those types of changes, Kyoto for example or new government powers, in ordinary bills.
5687  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The electoral process, vote fraud (ACORN et al) and more on: January 05, 2009, 12:11:15 PM
"Franken [kept] demanding recounts after recounts until they can come up with a total that puts him ahead and then suddenly the process is over and the Democratic machine [declared] him the winner."

Like Florida, they always look harder for votes in the areas known to be liberal.  They found ballots in trunks of cars and they 'recounted duplicates' where no originals exist.  If they needed more they were ready to look in Sandy Berger's briefs.  All but one update I think had Franken gaining.  Amazingly with all ballots opened, found or read with a crystal ball, there were no additions to the other totals such as third party candidate who had an impressive 15% to begin with, and no corrections or updates on any other race.

Perhaps this race was lost when the voters removed a perfectly good, fair, competent and scandal-free Secretary of State, Mary Kiffmeyer, and put in the move-on-dot-org replacement in an expensive, energetic and needlessly vicious battle on an off-year.  The new Secretary of State made himself the tie-breaking vote on the balanced recount panel.  Go figure.

Now they have the total vote margin just higher than each of the shenanigans that led to the shift in the lead so that any one court ruling will not change the result.
---

My proposal is extreme, but effective.  Since elections are a form of counting heads, in the spirit of sharia law I propose that we behead those guilty of election fraud.  Then when we count again or vote again we won't mistakenly include them.
5688  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues, economist magazine on: January 05, 2009, 11:34:57 AM
Adding my comment to some positive and negative comments made regarding bias and quality at 'The Economist'.  To me, they have high quality writing and analysis.  I particularly liked the coverage and clarity in succinctly written stories from other parts of the world.  I canceled my subscription over bias that I just wasn't going to support on American politics.

The issue that lost me was 'HillaryCare'.  They wrote a short piece debating the pros and cons of some little detail healthcare proposal in the works - like the arrangement of deck chairs on the Titanic (Ibuprofen coverage or something serious like that) - with the presumption nationalized health care was both a good thing and a sure thing.  They missed the political outrage coming at the over-reach of the health care initiative which was based on Clinton's mandate from winning 43% of the vote and his need to give his wife a job. Socialized medicine in 1993 was not the direction of this country and led to the congressional revolution that held for 7 congressional terms.

Maybe just a sentence acknowledging that half the country would be up in arms about nationalizing our most important industry as we tear up the tenets of limited, constitutional government would have sufficed to hedge against perceived bias as they wrote about the secret task force negotiations.
5689  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Vehicles, driving skills, crime, related issues on: January 05, 2009, 11:05:06 AM
Following up on some excellent info GM posted in 'politics' page 5 regarding speed, driving skills and accidents.  We accept a lot of carnage for mobility.  We also trade away some liberty, such as how fast to drive on an empty freeway, in exchange for attempts at safety and conformance including speed limits that are often established from far away. 

No question speed magnifies the damage in collisions and I wholly subscribe to the cushion of air theory where you refuse to let people follow in your blind spot and refuse to allow trucks (or anyone else) to surround you in a center lane of a freeway.  I quibble slightly with a few smaller points made.  Following distance IMO depends also on visibility PAST the vehicle you are following and other factors like equipment and attentiveness.  3/4 of a second may be average but I would certainly like to think that I am faster than that to begin applying brakes.  A second sounds fast but counting them out: one-thou-sand-one-pause-one-thousand-two... an attentive, anticipative driver should not take 3/4 second to get started.

A quote regarding ABS brakes: "we strongly recommend that buyers choose a car equipped with antilock brakes (ABS)...in order to get the most out of ABS in emergency braking situations, you have to know how to use it. And really, it couldn't be easier; you just stomp on the pedal...Many new cars come with antilock brakes as standard equipment, but you must often purchase them as an option on low- to moderately priced cars.

Of the vehicles I drive, 2 have ABS, 2 don't and on 2 others I'm just not sure.  Now let's assume a child darts out on one of our snowy-salty-icy Minnesota streets.  Would you really like my reflex to be to "just stomp on the pedal" rather than the old fashioned way of trying to maximize braking without locking up? 
5690  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Pathological Science on: January 04, 2009, 08:34:18 AM
Thanks BBG.  Each study and each story that questions the myth that humans have played the central role in climate change seems like it should be categorized a media issue more than a scientific breakthrough, always begging the question: why won't NY Times etc. cover this? Now the Huffington Post actually prints it and my reaction again is to wonder about the site - are they in search of honesty and balance or did this slide through on a weekend by accident?

The reaction of course should be that this is further evidence of great news.  The planet is alive and well.  There is no warming where I live and no warming on Antarctica.  Everytime we find alarming temperature data we also find that someone with an agenda has tweaked the data.

As the author indicates, when propogandists alarm at ice melting in one place, they neglect to mention record ice masses at another.  It's refreshing to read a straight story.
5691  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Coming Cognitive Dissonance, Law of the Sea Treaty (LOST) etc. on: January 01, 2009, 04:43:22 PM
Warning: the author has conservative views on some subjects, and disclosure: I omitted the last part of the column where she went on to criticize the chance that Obama will favor free trade... one of the few things that Bill Clinton got right.

Comments about the UN came up here recently on a different subject.  Same goes for Law of the Sea Treaty - don't join organizations where countries like Cuba have an equal vote to that of the U.S.  Even if they gave us 50 votes we should stay away from treaties that lead to international taxation and-or loss of freedom and sovereignty.     - Doug
----------------

Obama's Plan to Rejoin the World Community
by Phyllis Schlafly
http://townhall.com/columnists/PhyllisSchlafly/2008/12/23/obamas_plan_to_rejoin_the_world_community?page=full&comments=true

When Candidate Barack Obama declared himself a "citizen of the world" before thousands of cheering German socialists, and later pledged to "rejoin the World Community," those weren't just his usual platitudes about "change." Those words sounded the trumpet for his specific and far-reaching globalist agenda.

Obama plans to use his presidential power to get the Democratic-majority Senate to ratify a series of treaties that would take us a long way toward global rule over our money, our laws, our military, our courts, our customs, our trade and even our use of energy. Here are the treaties he says he wants.

The U.N. Law of the Sea Treaty (LOST), which Ronald Reagan rejected in 1982, is high on Obama's list. LOST has already created the International Seabed Authority (ISA) in Jamaica and given it total regulatory jurisdiction over all the world's oceans and all the riches on the ocean floor.

Corrupt foreign dictators dominate LOST's global bureaucracy, and the United States would have the same vote as Cuba. Likewise for LOST's International Tribunal in Hamburg, Germany, which has the power to decide all disputes.

Even worse, LOST gives the ISA the power to levy international taxes. The real purpose of the taxing power is to compel the United States to spend billions of private-enterprise dollars to mine the ocean floor and then let ISA bureaucrats transfer our wealth to socialist, anti-American nations.

Next on Obama's list is the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, which was signed by Bill Clinton but rejected by the Senate in 1999. It would prohibit all nuclear explosive testing and thereby allow our nuclear arsenal to deteriorate until the American people are defenseless against rogue regimes such as Iran and North Korea.

A new Global Warming Treaty is starting to be written at the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Poland in order to replace the Kyoto Agreement, which George W. Bush and our Senate refused to ratify. The new treaty would force dramatic reductions in our use of energy -- i.e., our standard of living -- and impose the "strong international norms" that Obama seeks.

Obama is toadying to his feminist friends by pushing ratification of the U.N. Treaty on Women, known as CEDAW. It was signed by Jimmy Carter in 1980 and persistently promoted by Hillary Clinton, but the Senate has so far had the good judgment to refuse to ratify it.

This treaty would require us "to modify the social and cultural patterns of conduct of men and women," to follow U.N. dictates about "family education," to revise our textbooks to conform to feminist ideology in order to ensure "the elimination of any stereotyped concept of the roles of men and women" and to set up a federal "network of child-care facilities."

Article 16 would require us to allow women "to decide number and spacing of their children." Everyone recognizes this as feminist jargon for a U.N. obligation to allow abortion on demand.

Like all U.N. treaties, the U.N. Treaty on Women creates a monitoring commission of so-called "experts" to ensure compliance. The monitors of the Treaty on Women have already singled out Mother's Day as a stereotype that must be eliminated.

Another U.N. Treaty on the list is the U.N. Treaty on the Rights of the Child, which was signed in 1995 by Bill Clinton but wisely never ratified by our Senate. This is a pet project of the people who believe that the "village" (i.e., the government or U.N. "experts") should raise children rather than their parents.

This treaty would give children rights against their parents and society to express their own views "freely in all matters," to receive information of all kinds through "media of the child's choice," to use their "own language," and to have the right to "rest and leisure." This treaty even orders our schools to teach respect for "the Charter of the United Nations."
5692  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Environmental issues - 2008: Man-made global warming was disproved on: December 29, 2008, 03:49:48 PM
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/columnists/christopherbooker/3982101/2008-was-the-year-man-made-global-warming-was-disproved.html

2008 was the year man-made global warming was disproved

By Christopher Booker
Last Updated: 10:59AM GMT 28 Dec 2008

Looking back over my columns of the past 12 months, one of their major themes was neatly encapsulated by two recent items from The Daily Telegraph.

The first, on May 21, headed "Climate change threat to Alpine ski resorts" , reported that the entire Alpine "winter sports industry" could soon "grind to a halt for lack of snow". The second, on December 19, headed "The Alps have best snow conditions in a generation" , reported that this winter's Alpine snowfalls "look set to beat all records by New Year's Day".

Easily one of the most important stories of 2008 has been all the evidence suggesting that this may be looked back on as the year when there was a turning point in the great worldwide panic over man-made global warming. Just when politicians in Europe and America have been adopting the most costly and damaging measures politicians have ever proposed, to combat this supposed menace, the tide has turned in three significant respects.

First, all over the world, temperatures have been dropping in a way wholly unpredicted by all those computer models which have been used as the main drivers of the scare. Last winter, as temperatures plummeted, many parts of the world had snowfalls on a scale not seen for decades. This winter, with the whole of Canada and half the US under snow, looks likely to be even worse. After several years flatlining, global temperatures have dropped sharply enough to cancel out much of their net rise in the 20th century.

Ever shriller and more frantic has become the insistence of the warmists, cheered on by their army of media groupies such as the BBC, that the last 10 years have been the "hottest in history" and that the North Pole would soon be ice-free – as the poles remain defiantly icebound and those polar bears fail to drown. All those hysterical predictions that we are seeing more droughts and hurricanes than ever before have infuriatingly failed to materialise.

Even the more cautious scientific acolytes of the official orthodoxy now admit that, thanks to "natural factors" such as ocean currents, temperatures have failed to rise as predicted (although they plaintively assure us that this cooling effect is merely "masking the underlying warming trend", and that the temperature rise will resume worse than ever by the middle of the next decade).

Secondly, 2008 was the year when any pretence that there was a "scientific consensus" in favour of man-made global warming collapsed. At long last, as in the Manhattan Declaration last March, hundreds of proper scientists, including many of the world's most eminent climate experts, have been rallying to pour scorn on that "consensus" which was only a politically engineered artefact, based on ever more blatantly manipulated data and computer models programmed to produce no more than convenient fictions.

Thirdly, as banks collapsed and the global economy plunged into its worst recession for decades, harsh reality at last began to break in on those self-deluding dreams which have for so long possessed almost every politician in the western world. As we saw in this month's Poznan conference, when 10,000 politicians, officials and "environmentalists" gathered to plan next year's "son of Kyoto" treaty in Copenhagen, panicking politicians are waking up to the fact that the world can no longer afford all those quixotic schemes for "combating climate change" with which they were so happy to indulge themselves in more comfortable times.

Suddenly it has become rather less appealing that we should divert trillions of dollars, pounds and euros into the fantasy that we could reduce emissions of carbon dioxide by 80 per cent. All those grandiose projects for "emissions trading", "carbon capture", building tens of thousands more useless wind turbines, switching vast areas of farmland from producing food to "biofuels", are being exposed as no more than enormously damaging and futile gestures, costing astronomic sums we no longer possess.

As 2009 dawns, it is time we in Britain faced up to the genuine crisis now fast approaching from the fact that – unless we get on very soon with building enough proper power stations to fill our looming "energy gap" - within a few years our lights will go out and what remains of our economy will judder to a halt. After years of infantile displacement activity, it is high time our politicians – along with those of the EU and President Obama's US – were brought back with a mighty jolt into contact with the real world.
   
5693  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: December 29, 2008, 03:40:44 PM
JDN: "no one questions the right of Israel to exact retribution, but it seems to be a disproportionate reaction."

I'm no expert but I think the disproportionality you correctly notice is an intentional part of Israel's goal of deterrence.  Often we see - a) attack and no consequence.  You suggest  - b) receive attack then kill back the same number(?)  Israel it seems is saying - c) attack and you will consistently receive a disproportionate response until as one insightful analyst put it - they say uncle.

Also, if your enemy is committed to destroy you and you have provocation, justification and opportunity, taking out their ability to wage war against you - while you can - seems prudent. 
5694  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics - Caroline Kennedy's 168 'you knows' on: December 29, 2008, 02:52:11 PM
Hard to compare a Kennedy with Sarah Palin. Besides the Alaska energy commission and the nation's largest state, what had she ever run...  Palin never inspired a Neil Diamond song.  Kind of creepy though, in 1969 Neil Diamond was pushing 30 and Caroline was going on 12.

"Who'd believe you'd come along -
Hands, touching hands, reaching out
Touching me, touching you
Oh, sweet Caroline"


5695  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: The American Creed: Our Founding Fathers: on: December 29, 2008, 01:06:56 PM
I found this critique of Theodore Roosevel trelevant to the topic of the view of the founding fathers (and how we have strayed). 

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123033881006136515.html

Theodore Roosevelt Was No Conservative
There's a reason he left the GOP to lead the Progressive Party.

By RONALD J. PESTRITTO

We know that Barack Obama and his allies identify themselves as "progressives," and that they aim to implement the big-government liberalism that originated in America's Progressive Era and was consummated in the New Deal. What remains a mystery is why some conservatives want to claim this progressive identity as their own -- particularly as it was manifested by Theodore Roosevelt.

The fact that conservative politicians such as John McCain and writers like William Kristol and Karl Rove are attracted to our 26th president is strange because, if we want to understand where in the American political tradition the idea of unlimited, redistributive government came from, we need look no further than to Roosevelt and others who shared his outlook.

Progressives of both parties, including Roosevelt, were the original big-government liberals. They understood full well that the greatest obstacle to their schemes of social justice and equality of material condition was the U.S. Constitution as it was originally written and understood: as creating a national government of limited, enumerated powers that was dedicated to securing the individual natural rights of its citizens, especially liberty of contract and private property.

It was the Republican TR, who insisted in his 1910 speech on the "New Nationalism" that there was a "general right of the community to regulate" the earning of income and use of private property "to whatever degree the public welfare may require it." He was at one here with Democrat Woodrow Wilson, who had in 1885 condemned Americans' respect for their Constitution as "blind worship," and suggested that his countrymen dedicate themselves to the Declaration of Independence by leaving out its "preface" -- i.e., the part of it that establishes the protection of equal natural rights as the permanent task of government.

In his "Autobiography," Roosevelt wrote that he "declined to adopt the view that what was imperatively necessary for the nation could not be done by the President unless he could find some specific authorization to do it." The national government, in TR's view, was not one of enumerated powers but of general powers, and the purpose of the Constitution was merely to state the narrow exceptions to that rule.

This is a view of government directly opposed by Alexander Hamilton in Federalist 84. Hamilton explains there that the fundamental difference between a republican constitution and a monarchic one is that the latter reserves some liberty for the people by stating specific exceptions to the assumed general power of the crown, whereas the former assumes from the beginning that the power of the people is the general rule, and the power of the government the exception.

TR turns this on its head. In his New Nationalism speech he noted how, in aiming to use state power to bring about economic equality, the government should permit a man to earn and keep his property "only so long as the gaining represents benefit to the community." The government itself of course would determine what represented a benefit to the community, and whether society would be better off if an individual's wealth was transferred to somebody else.

We can see the triumph of this outlook in progressive income taxation, which TR trumpeted in his speech (along with progressive estate taxes). We may also see this theory in action when a government seizes private property through eminent domain, transferring it to others in order to generate higher tax revenues -- a practice blessed by the Supreme Court in its notorious Kelo v. New London decision of 2005.

Some conservatives today are misled by the battle between TR and Wilson in the 1912 presidential election. But Wilson implemented most of TR's program once he took office in 1913, including a progressive income tax and the establishment of several regulatory agencies, such as the Federal Trade Commission.
5696  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics- The Great Depression and any similarities to 2008-2009 on: December 29, 2008, 12:48:01 PM
Start this by noting Crafty's reference to Jude Wanniski's book and Guiness' Nov. post regarding 5 myths of the great depression.  I heard a television commentator, I think it was an Obama adviser, saying that the reason the great depression won't be repeated is because we don't suffer from the same economic ignorance of the 1920s-1930s...  I beg to differ.

This piece, "A tale of two pundits: Sowell v. Huffington" by Roger Kimball
http://www.pajamasmedia.com/rogerkimball/2008/12/23/a-tale-of-two-pundits-sowell-v-huffington/?print=1
takes a look at 2 sides of an important argument.  He links and quotes Ariana Huffington who perpetuates the myth that the great depression was the result of the failure of free market capitalism.  Then he contrasts that with a counter-view from Thomas Sowell that the economy could have survived the financial crash if not for the blundering of the government policies that followed, perpetuating, worsening and deepening the economic damage.

So here we are again, trying in every way possible to block the market forces that strive to correct the prices of assets and allow the flow of resources to their most productive use.
-------------------------
December 23, 2008
Another Great Depression?
By Thomas Sowell

With both Barack Obama's supporters and the media looking forward to the new administration's policies being similar to President Franklin D. Roosevelt's policies during the 1930s depression, it may be useful to look at just what those policies were and-- more important-- what their consequences were.

The prevailing view in many quarters is that the stock market crash of 1929 was a failure of the free market that led to massive unemployment in the 1930s-- and that it was intervention of Roosevelt's New Deal policies that rescued the economy.

It is such a good story that it seems a pity to spoil it with facts. Yet there is something to be said for not repeating the catastrophes of the past.

Let's start at square one, with the stock market crash in October 1929. Was this what led to massive unemployment?

Official government statistics suggest otherwise. So do new statistics on unemployment by two current scholars, Richard Vedder and Lowell Gallaway, in their book "Out of Work."

The Vedder and Gallaway statistics allow us to follow unemployment month by month. They put the unemployment rate at 5 percent in November 1929, a month after the stock market crash. It hit 9 percent in December-- but then began a generally downward trend, subsiding to 6.3 percent in June 1930.

That was when the Smoot-Hawley tariffs were passed, against the advice of economists across the country, who warned of dire consequences.

Five months after the Smoot-Hawley tariffs, the unemployment rate hit double digits for the first time in the 1930s.

This was more than a year after the stock market crash. Moreover, the unemployment rate rose to even higher levels under both Presidents Herbert Hoover and Franklin D. Roosevelt, both of whom intervened in the economy on an unprecedented scale.

Before the Great Depression, it was not considered to be the business of the federal government to try to get the economy out of a depression. But the Smoot-Hawley tariff-- designed to save American jobs by restricting imports-- was one of Hoover's interventions, followed by even bigger interventions by FDR.

The rise in unemployment after the stock market crash of 1929 was a blip on the screen compared to the soaring unemployment rates reached later, after a series of government interventions.

For nearly three consecutive years, beginning in February 1932, the unemployment rate never fell below 20 percent for any month before January 1935, when it fell to 19.3 percent, according to the Vedder and Gallaway statistics.

In other words, the evidence suggests that it was not the "problem" of the financial crisis in 1929 that caused massive unemployment but politicians' attempted "solutions." Is that the history that we seem to be ready to repeat?

The stock market crash, which has been blamed for the widespread suffering during the Great Depression of the 1930s, created no unemployment rate that was even half of what was created in the wake of the government interventions of Hoover and FDR.

Politically, however, Franklin D. Roosevelt could not have been more successful. After all, he was the only President of the United States elected four times in a row. He was a master of political rhetoric.

If Barack Obama wants political success, following in the footsteps of FDR looks like the way to go. But people who are concerned about the economy need to take a closer look at history. We deserve something better than repeating the 1930s disasters.

There is yet another factor that provides a parallel to what happened during the Great Depression. No matter how much worse things got after government intervention under Roosevelt's New Deal policies, the party line was that he had to "do something" to get us out of the disaster created by the failure of the unregulated market and Hoover's "do nothing" policies.

Today, increasing numbers of scholars recognize that FDR's own policies were a further extension of interventions begun under Hoover. Moreover, the temporary rise in unemployment after the stock market crash was nowhere near the massive and long-lasting unemployment after government interventions.

Barack Obama already has his Herbert Hoover to blame for any and all disasters that his policies create: George W. Bush.
5697  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq, new study - Gore would have gone to war in Iraq also on: December 24, 2008, 07:49:44 PM
Maybe a sign of success that there are no war posts for a couple of weeks and most posts now are reflective / looking back or about how it will be viewed from the future.

This study:
http://www.cdfai.org/PDF/President%20Al%20Gore%20and%20the%202003%20Iraq%20War%20A%20Counterfactual%20Critique%20of%20Conventional%20Wisdom.pdf
concludes that Gore would have faced the same pressures, received the same intelligence, listened to his advisers advise war, seen the same public support and made the same decision, but perhaps gone in initially with more troops.  Interesting read.
5698  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Humor on: December 22, 2008, 06:10:48 PM
This could have gone under media matters or topics on the new administration, but I'll put it under humor because it is fiction/prediction.

Following link is a good spoof of the NY Times from NEXT July 4 reporting on the Obama world that we live in.

http://www.nytimes-se.com/

A few of the stories:

Iraq War Ends
    *
      World »
          o Last to Die in Battle Remembered, American and Iraqi
          o United Nations Unanimously Passes Weapons Ban
          o Court Indicts Bush on High Treason Charge
    *
      U.S. »
          o Education Department Plans National Tax Base for Schools
          o Crumbling Infrastructure Brings Opportunities
          o National Health Insurance Act Passes
         
    *
      Business »
          o Maximum Wage Law Passes Congress
          o Harvard Will Shut Business School Doors
          o Senate Gets Tough On “Limited Liability” to Rein in, Humanize Corporations
          o Biofuels Ban Act Signed Into Law, Seeks to Ease Food Shortage
         
         *
      Opinion »
          o Fog of Peace
          o Public Health Opportunities in Cuba
         
      Health »
          o National Health Insurance Act Passes
          o Pharmaceutical Law Revised to End Corruption
    *
      Education »
          o Education Department Plans National Tax Base for Schools
          o All Public Universities To Be Free
         
5699  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues, re Friedman on Felt/Woodward/Nixon on: December 22, 2008, 05:53:43 PM
What a great post, very insightful.  True that an informant and a newspaper exposed bad conduct and brought down a presidency.  Also true was the the informant and his base of power, J. Edgar Hoover's FBI, was also a story of other government misconduct, far exceeding its authorized powers that deserved exposing, but was never pursued. 

Similar stories happened throughout the Bush administration as the NY Times for example kept exposing the processes that were keeping us safe.  It always seemed that no one looked deeper into the leakers and their own obvious violations.

The media, like the regulators, missed the failures and collapses of everything from Enron to Fannie Mae, AIG, Bear Stearns (and the Soviet Union)  etc. etc. and the ability of the ones we consider mainstream to investigate anything just keeps getting smaller and smaller.  So the news stories become selected by the call-in leakers instead the so-called editors or publishers.
5700  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Russia-Georgia, Turkey, Caucasus, Import duties in Russia on: December 22, 2008, 05:37:18 PM
The story is about unrest, but it also brings to the forefront the contest between free trade versus 'protectionism'  that applies everywhere.  A story at the link tells of a consumer who won't be able to buy his dream (Japanese) car and concludes with: "Many Russians say they have a right to buy what they want on the free market and do not want to pay to support the Russian auto industry."

The protests in Vladivstok highlight the fact that jobs are tied to the trade business as well, as we see another case of government picking winners and losers. 

If you can't secure a competitive contract with your own workers, if you can't build a product that consumers want at competitive prices or if your business is not strong enough and flexible enough to survive a downturn, then go to the government and have them put a tax on your competitors or demand operating capital from the government - from the taxes paid by the workers of successful businesses - to put into the losing enterprise.  This could never happen in America... Oops.
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