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5651  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 526 economists, 5 Nobel laureates back Romney’s economic strategy on: October 09, 2012, 11:30:24 AM

More than 500 economists — including five Nobel laureates — have endorsed Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s economic plan as the right choice for jobs creation and economic growth.

The pro-Romney group “Economists for Romney” announced Monday that its statement of support for the former Massachusetts governor’s economic plan now has 526 signatories, up from 400 a week ago.

“We enthusiastically endorse Governor Mitt Romney’s economic plan to create jobs and restore economic growth while returning America to its tradition of economic freedom,” Economists for Romney’s statement of support reads, proclaiming Romney’s plan as based on “proven principles” to restrain the federal government and expand opportunities in the private sector.

The 526 economists — including Nobel laureates Gary Becker, Robert Lucas, Robert Mundell, Edward Prescott, and Myron Scholes — point to six facets of Romney’s economic approach that they see as beneficial to future economic success.

    Reduce marginal tax rates on business and wage incomes and broaden the tax base to increase investment, jobs, and living standards.
    End the exploding federal debt by controlling the growth of spending so federal spending does not exceed 20 percent of the economy.
    Restructure regulation to end “too big to fail,” improve credit availability to entrepreneurs and small businesses, and increase regulatory accountability, and ensure that all regulations pass rigorous benefit-cost tests.
    Improve our Social Security and Medicare programs by reducing their growth to sustainable levels, ensuring their viability over the long term, and protecting those in or near retirement.
    Reform our healthcare system to harness market forces and thereby reduce costs and increase quality, empowering patients and doctors, rather than the federal bureaucracy.
    Promote energy policies that increase domestic production, enlarge the use of all western hemisphere resources, encourage the use of new technologies, end wasteful subsidies, and rely more on market forces and less on government planners.

Seven of the signatories are from Harvard University and five from Columbia University — two of President Barack Obama’s alma maters.

The economists’ statement of support pillories Obama’s economic record, claiming that his expansion of the federal government has resulted in “anemic economic recovery and high unemployment,” which will continue if his future plans are implemented.

Among the Obama policies with which the 526 economists take issue include:

    Relied on short-term “stimulus” programs, which provided little sustainable lift to the economy, and enacted and proposed significant tax increases for all Americans.
    Offered no plan to reduce federal spending and stop the growth of the debt-to-GDP ratio.
    Failed to propose Social Security reform and offered a Medicare proposal that relies on a panel of bureaucrats to set prices, quantities, and qualities of healthcare services.
    Favored a large expansion of economic regulation across many sectors, with little regard for proper cost-benefit analysis and with a disturbing degree of favoritism toward special interests.
    Enacted health care legislation that centralizes health care decisions and increases the power of the federal bureaucracy to impose one-size-fits-all solutions on patients and doctors, and creates greater incentives for waste.
    Favored expansion of one-size-fits-all federal rulemaking, with an erosion of the ability of state and local governments to make decisions appropriate for their particular circumstances.
5652  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Science: Particle control in a quantum world on: October 09, 2012, 11:26:52 AM

9 October 2012

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has decided to award the Nobel Prize in Physics for 2012 to

Serge Haroche
Collège de France and Ecole Normale Supérieure, Paris, France


David J. Wineland
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and University of Colorado Boulder, CO, USA

"for ground-breaking experimental methods that enable measuring and manipulation of individual quantum systems"

Serge Haroche and David J. Wineland have independently invented and developed methods for measuring and manipulating individual particles while preserving their quantum-mechanical nature, in ways that were previously thought unattainable.

The Nobel Laureates have opened the door to a new era of experimentation with quantum physics by demonstrating the direct observation of individual quantum particles without destroying them. For single particles of light or matter the laws of classical physics cease to apply and quantum physics takes over. But single particles are not easily isolated from their surrounding environment and they lose their mysterious quantum properties as soon as they interact with the outside world. Thus many seemingly bizarre phenomena predicted by quantum physics could not be directly observed, and researchers could only carry out thought experiments that might in principle manifest these bizarre phenomena.

Through their ingenious laboratory methods Haroche and Wineland together with their research groups have managed to measure and control very fragile quantum states, which were previously thought inaccessible for direct observation. The new methods allow them to examine, control and count the particles.

Their methods have many things in common. David Wineland traps electrically charged atoms, or ions, controlling and measuring them with light, or photons.

Serge Haroche takes the opposite approach: he controls and measures trapped photons, or particles of light, by sending atoms through a trap.

Both Laureates work in the field of quantum optics studying the fundamental interaction between light and matter, a field which has seen considerable progress since the mid-1980s. Their ground-breaking methods have enabled this field of research to take the very first steps towards building a new type of super fast computer based on quantum physics. Perhaps the quantum computer will change our everyday lives in this century in the same radical way as the classical computer did in the last century. The research has also led to the construction of extremely precise clocks that could become the future basis for a new standard of time, with more than hundred-fold greater precision than present-day caesium clocks.
5653  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Venezuela on: October 09, 2012, 11:16:44 AM
So very sorry to hear that Denny.

Likewise.  This is a very bad thing for the people of the world and a really really bad thing for the people of Venezuela.

I wonder what to think of exit polls that showed Capriles leading narrowly.  I would think exit polls understate his support.  I didn't notice if we sent Jimmy Carter again to 'certify' the vote.

Interesting is the idea that if/when there is a demise of Chavez that Capriles from the opposition could be the next leader instead of some hand picked successor.
5654  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics - Adjusted Unemployment Rate 11.63% on: October 07, 2012, 12:57:20 PM
Sept. 2012 civilian labor force                                     155.063 million
Sept. 2012 – people who want a job but not looking   6.727 million
Adjusted labor force                                                    161.79 million

Employed in Sept (household survey)                        142.974 million
Employed as % of adjusted labor force:                     (142.974 / 161.79) = 88.37%
Unemployed as % of adjusted labor force                  (100.00 – 89.27) = 11.63%
5655  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 'Not in Labor Force' Grows 5 times faster than job growth over last 2 years on: October 07, 2012, 12:50:41 PM

Last 2 years, left to right:
0.88% Job Growth, 4.58% Not in Labor Force growth, 2.2% Population Growth
Data source BLS

Job growth less than population growth equals economic decline.  Right?
5656  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 'Solyndra' scandal hits China too on: October 07, 2012, 12:33:21 PM
Subsidizing products that don't make economic sense on their own, who knew that centrally planned economies make lousy investment decisions?
(Could also go in the energy and economic fascism threads.)

Glut of Solar Panels Poses a New Threat to China
NY Times October 4, 2012

BEIJING — China in recent years established global dominance in renewable energy, its solar panel and wind turbine factories forcing many foreign rivals out of business and its policy makers hailed by environmentalists around the world as visionaries.

But now China’s strategy is in disarray.  Though worldwide demand for solar panels and wind turbines has grown rapidly over the last five years, China’s manufacturing capacity has soared even faster, creating enormous oversupply and a ferocious price war.

    The result is a looming financial disaster, not only for manufacturers but for state-owned banks that financed factories with approximately $18 billion in low-rate loans and for municipal and provincial governments that provided loan guarantees and sold manufacturers valuable land at deeply discounted prices.

    China’s biggest solar panel makers are suffering losses of up to $1 for every $3 of sales this year, as panel prices have fallen by three-fourths since 2008. Even though the cost of solar power has fallen, it still remains triple the price of coal-generated power in China, requiring substantial subsidies through a tax imposed on industrial users of electricity to cover the higher cost of renewable energy.
5657  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Scott Grannis replies on: October 07, 2012, 12:16:43 PM
"There are two fundamental problems with this argument. The dollar is not the world's sole reserve currency, and the dollar is no longer pegged to [gold]. The dollar is free floating, and euros and yen and increasingly the yuan are alternatives. Consequently the Triffin dilemma no longer applies"

True.  I would add though that the original piece was filled with good background information; it just doesn't support the theory advanced.

Our problems are political, not structural.  We are using unsustainable monetary tricks like quantitative expansion to cover the gap created by fiscal irresponsibility and a fiercely anti-growth agenda.  The fact that other places are doing even worse provides temporary cover for the relatively value of our currency, but does not offset our declining prosperity. 

5658  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Stephen W. Browne, new member on: October 05, 2012, 10:18:06 AM
Welcome aboard!  Very interesting background.  Jump right in on any and all topics! 
5659  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential- the first debate continued on: October 05, 2012, 12:01:29 AM
Dick Morris has this right: "Romney took away Obama's negative campaign, his class warfare, his entitlement issue, the Medi-scare tactic, and much of the president's case." 

This wasn't a typical candidate vs candidate comparison.  Each had something very specific they needed to accomplish. 

Obama needed to convey how the next 4 years if he is reelected will be any better than the last 4 years.  He didn't even try to make the case:  In closing he said, "I’ll fight just as hard in a second term". Huh??  Obama also needed to bump up the enthusiasm gap of his base, and he took a giant step backward.

Romney needed to make a small numbers of swing voters comfortable seeing him as their President, and with a decent shot at turning things around.  That is what I think happened.

The mainstream missed a part of the story.  Romney had a great convention that softened and humanized his image and Obama had a vacuous one that bumped the polls but didn't answer the question of how things get better without changing course.

Obama and his campaign have been running against a straw man.  In the debate he faced a real man with an exceptional background, talent and turnaround skills.

Romney in Presidential demeanor described how bad things are under Obama without using the F-word.  F is for failure.

5660  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Libya: State Dept REDUCED Benghazi security leading up to 9/11/12 on: October 04, 2012, 04:25:36 PM
Despite Threats, U.S. Cut Security in Libya Before Attacks
by Eli Lake Oct 4, 2012 4:45 AM EDT
Even as American outposts in Benghazi appeared to be at risk, the State Department trimmed the number of security guards on the ground. Eli Lake reports on the latest allegations.

In the six months leading up to the assault on the United States consulate in Benghazi, the State Department reduced the number of trained Americans guarding U.S. facilities in Libya, according to a leading House Republican investigating the Sept. 11 anniversary attacks. The reduction in U.S. security personnel increased America’s reliance on local Libyan guards for the protection of its diplomats.
5661  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Factory orders down 5.2%, Durable goods down 13.2% on: October 04, 2012, 04:17:43 PM
Orders placed with U.S. factories fell in August by the most in more than three years, signaling that slowdowns in business investment and exports restrained the economic expansion.

The 5.2 percent decrease in bookings was the biggest since January 2009.  Demand for durable goods dropped 13.2 percent.
5662  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Venezuelan elections this Sunday, Time to retire Chavez on: October 04, 2012, 04:07:46 PM
I don't know how Chavez could lose if he still controls the counting of votes, but let us hope...

Looking forward to first hand reporting on the forum.
5663  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential Debate and transcript link on: October 04, 2012, 10:34:28 AM
Transcript link:

Details to follow, but I think Romney just won this election.
Bigdog: Not sure I'd go that far, but the debate? Absolutely.

Of course it's not over with a month to go, but if Romney goes on to win I think we will be point back to this first debate.

Crafty: "Dennis Miller wondered if Obama's kicked ass was covered by Obamacare"

Glenn Beck says:  MSNBC's flag is flying at half mast.  Hey Mr. President, it's October, surprise!

Mark Schields on PBS, normally a total leftist shill, said the President looked "rusty".

Award winning observation: Al Gore? says it might have been the altitude of 5000 feet that hurt Obama.  The President flew in 2 hours before the debate.  Romney did his debate prep in Denver.
Good job by Jim Lehrer.  He couldn't hold these guys to a clock but he kept the discussion steered toward substance.  No slanted questions in either direction that I noticed.

Hats off to the kids at the University of Denver.  They got to witness something historic and they kept quiet the whole time - something the adults have never been able to do.

Liberals and Obama supportede seem perplexed that Obama hardly got off any cheap shots, like repeating Romney's latest gaffe about the 47%.  Romney led with the latest Biden gaffe: "Under the president’s policies, middle-income Americans have been buried."

Romney went only part way into selling his economic plan.  His advisers must think it too wonkish to distinguish between taxes and tax rates, a big pet peeve of mine.  But he kept following up and getting at that point in different ways, that he does not accept that lowering rates is a $5 trillion cut, it will grow revenues.  Later on the deficit he nailed it with the 3 ways to close the gap: 1) raise taxes, 2) cut spending and 3) grow the economy, "because if more people work in a growing economy they’re paying taxes and you can get the job done that way".  He left room on the table for Paul Ryan to follow up on the concepts of growth economics.

You can bet the campaign is not confident in knowing the next major event coming is Biden v. Ryan with 90 more uninterrupted minutes on national television.

The Ryan/Biden debate will turn the generational storyline on its ear.  Ryan is a sharp young guy with a mastery of both policy and vision.  He goes up against an old guy with neither, who lacks a notable accomplishment in 40 years in the Senate and White House.  Richard Nixon defeated George McGovern in 1972 when Joe Biden was elected to the Senate.  

In both cases, Pres Obama and VP Biden are not accustomed to having their talking points challenged.  The President's only two real electoral victories came against Hillary with an identical ideology and McCain who refused to take off the gloves.  Both live in a political bubble where rarely in their careers have they faced a tough question or a tough opponent challenging their talking points.

President Obama's lowest points IMO:
"we’ve tried both approaches. The approach that Governor Romney’s talking about is the same sales pitch that was made in 2001 and 2003. And we ended up with the slowest job growth in 50 years."


The President continued:
"...Bill Clinton tried the approach that I’m talking about. We created 23 million new jobs. We went from deficit to surplus, and businesses did very well."


I'd like to pretend the last 4-6 years didn't happen too!

In another exchange:  On healthcare, Romney proved his ability to reach across the aisle and Pres. Obama astonishingly claimed Obamacare without a single Republican vote "was a Republican idea".

Quite persuasively covering one of his weaknesses, Romney said "what we did in Massachusetts is a model for the nation, state by state" [not for the federal government].

Romney continued: "I said that at that time. The federal government taking over health care for the entire nation and whisking aside the 10th Amendment, which gives states the rights for these kinds of things, is not the course for America to have a stronger, more vibrant economy."
5664  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential Debate on: October 03, 2012, 09:08:30 PM
Details to follow, but I think Romney just won this election.
5665  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: WSJ: Baraq blows 3AM wake up call on: October 02, 2012, 12:06:09 PM
Update: American diplomats in Libya made repeated requests for increased security for the consulate in Benghazi.  Request denied.

From Crafty's post: "...there's a U.S. air base just 450 miles away in Sicily."  (L.A. to Reno, NV roughly)

This must have been a haunting feeling in the end.  Imagine you are one of the diplomats under attack.  The nearest support is 450 miles away and the strongest country in the world who sent you there is not willing to send help for fear of offending the group that is tracking you down, attacking and killing you.  Other than that, how do you feel about your security?

Meanwhile, we are closing out in Iraq without leaving a force 'over the horizon' and preparing to do the same in Afghanistan, before we send in our future diplomats.  There is something missing in a strategy of surrender without locking in gains, providing arms without safeguards, leading from behind without establishing a base or any military presence, enemy and terrorist denial, and scaling down our military superiority as our rivals and enemies are scaling theirs up.

Stephens, WSJ continued:
"Let's review:
The U.S. ignores warnings of a parlous security situation in Benghazi. Nothing happens because nobody is really paying attention, especially in an election year, and because Libya is supposed to be a foreign-policy success. When something does happen, the administration's concerns for the safety of Americans are subordinated to considerations of Libyan "sovereignty" and the need for "permission." After the attack the administration blames a video, perhaps because it would be politically inconvenient to note that al Qaeda is far from defeated, and that we are no more popular under Mr. Obama than we were under George W. Bush. Denouncing the video also appeals to the administration's reflexive habits of blaming America first."

Voters are confused about what to do in the Middle East right now, but the approach taken by this administration is ripe for valid criticism.  If we deny American interests are at stake, why are American diplomats on the ground?  If we deny they are at risk post 9/11/01 and after all the other attacks and embassy bombings and knowing al Qaida types are part of the coalition we supported, then we are fools escalating our own danger.

I don't know the answers but the first step is to see the enemy for what it is.  This President didn't and doesn't.  Sent his underling out to 5 Sunday shows to say it was a spontaneous reaction to an unwatched video trailer.  Egypt did not get safer after the Obama Cairo speech.  The enemies are not enemies of George Bush or Republicans; they are enemies of America.

Who got fired over the lack of security in Benghazi and isn't the James Clapper referenced here the same 'intelligence' director who said the Muslim Brotherhood is secular?
5666  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential - George Will: Debate questions for the candidates on: October 02, 2012, 11:17:45 AM
A serious George Will column from a few days ago with good suggestions for the moderator.  I like that he puts questions about the judiciary first including a question about 'Kelo', the horrible public taking for private purposes ruling and a question on Citizens United.  The last question is pretty funny.

Debate questions for the candidates

By George F. Will, Published: September 28

The spectacles we persist in dignifying as presidential “debates” — two-minute regurgitations of rehearsed responses — often subtract from the nation’s understanding. But beginning Wednesday, these less-than-Lincoln-Douglas episodes might be edifying if the candidates could be inveigled into plowing fresh ground.

Concerning the judiciary

Although the average age of the Supreme Court justices (66) is less than that of the Rolling Stones (68), three justices will be in their 80s before the next presidential term ends, so the next president probably can solidify today’s conservative majority or create a liberal majority.

For Mitt Romney: Many conservatives advocate “judicial restraint.” They denounce “judicial activism” and define it as not properly deferring to decisions by government’s majoritarian branches. Other conservatives praise “judicial engagement” and define it as actively defending liberty against overbearing majorities. Do you favor “restraint” or “engagement”? Do you reject the Kelo decision, in which the Supreme Court deferred to governments’ desire to seize private property and give it to wealthier private interests who would pay higher taxes?

For Barack Obama: You deplore the court’s Citizens United decision. What is your constitutional basis for rejecting the decision’s principle that Americans do not forfeit their First Amendment rights when they come together in corporate entities (mostly nonprofit advocacy corporations such as the Sierra Club) to speak collectively? You say you would “seriously consider” amending the First Amendment to empower Congress to regulate political speech. Explain why you would choose to make the Bill of Rights less protective.

For Romney: The Republican platform endorses using “whatever legislative method is most feasible” to ban flag desecration. Can you distinguish this from the ­anti-blasphemy laws in some Islamic countries? Should we criminalize expressive acts that offend?

Concerning foreign policy

For both: On Oct. 7, we begin the 12th year of the war in Afghanistan, and 51 recent NATO fatalities have been at the hands of our supposed Afghan allies, causing U.S. commanders to indefinitely suspend many joint operations. Why are we staying there 27 more months?

For Romney: You envision “countervailing duties” to punish China for manipulating the value of its currency. Do the “quantitative easings” by Ben Bernanke’s Federal Reserve, which vastly expanded the money supply, constitute currency manipulation? Would duties increasing the prices Americans pay for Chinese imports violate your vow to not raise taxes?

For Obama: Your campaign boasts about increasing the number of unfair-trade charges against China. How would Americans’ welfare be enhanced by raising the prices they pay for consumer goods and production materials from China?

For both: You are correct that China subsidizes politically connected businesses. Does not our Export-Import Bank do this?

For Obama: Are GM and Chrysler subsidized? Are they politically connected businesses?

Concerning domestic policy

For Obama: Your opponent proposes cutting income tax rates 20 percent and implies that he would pay for this partly by means-testing some deductions (e.g., mortgage interest payments and charitable giving). Do you oppose his plan for making the income tax more progressive?

For Romney: You say “redistribution” has “never been a characteristic of America.” You’re kidding, right? Is redistribution not one purpose of progressive taxation? Is not most of what government does — from agriculture subsidies to subsidized student loans to entitlements — the redistribution of wealth from one cohort or region to another?

For Obama: You recently said that changing Washington “from the outside” is “how some of our biggest accomplishments like health care got done — mobilizing the American people.” You’re kidding, right? A majority of the American people never supported passage of Obamacare. Did you not secure passage by deals with Big Pharma and other ­inside-Washington players?

For both: Do you agree that a financial institution that is too big to fail is too big to exist? If not, why not? The biggest banks emerged from the Great Recession bigger. At the end of 2011, the five biggest (JPMorgan, Bank of America, Citigroup, Wells Fargo and Goldman Sachs) held more than $8.5 trillion in assets, which is 56 percent of the 2011 gross domestic product. Why should they not be broken up?

For Obama: Your deep-blue Illinois — like another essentially one-party Democratic state, California — is buckling under the weight of its portion of the estimated $2.5 trillion in unfunded state pension obligations. Will you promise to oppose attempts to force the taxpayers to bail out badly governed states?

For both: Do you assume that the Almighty is not paying attention whenever you say “I approve this message”?
5667  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: NYT: A speed limit for the stock market on: October 02, 2012, 10:33:17 AM
Even though this comes from Pravda on the Hudson, I must say that this makes sense to me:

I agree in concept.  Regulating the markets for both efficiency and to maintain a level playing field is the legitimate function of the SEC.
5668  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The electoral process - Early Voting on: October 01, 2012, 01:19:15 PM
When these jerks in the campaigns and in the activism organizations keep pushing states and voters to vote earlier and earlier, such as the Obama campaign, do they ever ask if the voter is ready - do they have all the information they need for the other contests, like judges, soil and water conservation board, the amentments, the city council, etc??  On October 1 have they viewed all the debates that haven't happened yet or the economic data that hasn't come in yet?  Of course not.  So why do they do it?  To advance their own candidate, not to empower the voter.

Nothing is more reliable than having each person come in, in person, to a place with election judges on site, on the same day, verify who they are, and then cast one secret ballot.

Don't let them tell you otherwise.  MHO.
5669  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Media Issues: Skewed polls are the latest shiny object on: October 01, 2012, 01:09:30 PM
I mentioned in another post that all polls for MN governor in 2010 including the final poll were off by 12 points.  In Wisconsin this year they missed by 7.  I thought the margin for sampling error was 3%, lol.  Strangely those misses are about the range that Obama was leading Romney in key swing states in some outrageous recent polls.  

One theory advanced is that the biased media and polling organizations want to effect turnout to swing the election with skewed polls.  But a wide margin could sabotage turnout on the leader more than it does on the angry opposition, so that doesn't make any sense.

My theory now is right back to GM's theory on every other strategy in the Obama campaign.  The polls results are concocted to fit the shiny object theory - HEY, look at this SHINY OBJECT, over HERE!!  Take your eyes off the unemployment rate, the debt and the 24 year old in your basement for a minute, here is a shiny object!

The false polls give the Romney campaign has taken on a new first name, the struggling Romney campaign.  Ask David Gregory, he gets it into the first sentence:

Announcer:  From NBC News in Washington, MEET THE PRESS with David Gregory.

GREGORY:  And good Sunday morning.  With both sides in full-preparation mode for Wednesday’s first presidential debate, the struggling Romney campaign is recalibrating his message...

Unmentioned:  There has been a 36 point enthusiasm swing from Democrats to Republicans since the 2008 election to today according to the latest Gallup.  Dems +20 2008, Even 2010, R's +16% now.  Everybody knows this of course because USA Today put it on page 13.

Polls all admit applying their own secret sauce to get the right samples and results. removes the skew back to best known party affiliation numbers and has Romney leading by 7.4%.

I don't believe them either.
5670  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness: Fast Furious, the buck stops nowhere on: October 01, 2012, 12:43:23 PM
Missing in the scandal is some storyline about what was supposed to go right that unfortunately went wrong in Operation Fast and Furious.  Here and on right wing radio the story is advanced that Obama's far lefties were sending guns to be used in violence to help them to ban more guns.  I actually think that is true and no other story line has been advanced to my knowledge.  Since this sounds cynical and far fetched, people don't know what to think about it, IMO.  Just a scandal of an  R House trying to shake down a Dem White House for more documents to embarrass them.

The White House first defense was that this was Bush program.  That wasn't true, but if it was, didn't they promise to end the failing programs of the Bush administration - so that is no defense even if it were true!

The Dept of Justice operates in the Executive Branch with oversight and funding from congress.  Oversight is hindered because of the stonewall but were they really authorized in law to perform such an operation?

Did they consult or inform the Mexican government?  Was permission granted?

Who was responsible for security in Benghazi?  State Dept?  Marines?  DOD?  WHO??  No one.

Who took credit for the one achievement overseas, killing Osama?  Well that one is easy.  President Obama directed the mission.  14 times in the first person, he made the tough decision, even declared as recently as yesterday through his surrogate on Meet the Press that Romney would not have done it.  Obama did it because he is the Commander in Chief and the buck stops there.  But only if the operation is successful.

One might recall that the President made the Secretary of the Navy issue a memo taking full responsibility while the troops were taking their positions, just in case the operation failed.

President Obama should be addressing the nation after this Univision piece, APOLOGIZING TO MEXICO, apologizing to America and the victims families, taking full responsibility, explaining what it was they were trying to accomplish and explaining what went wrong.  He will not do that.

What a worm we have for a President.
5671  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Wesbury begins to hedge! on: October 01, 2012, 12:20:51 PM
Recession Risk Rising
"...Right now, we are forecasting 1.5% real GDP growth for Q3. But, given the drought, a much lower number – even below zero – cannot be casually dismissed..."

This is 3rd quarter starting today, so translated that means the recession may already have started.

Brian Wesbury appears Fridays on the Hugh Hewitt radio show  On the radio I find him to be quite a bit more open about his policy opinions than he is in these First Trust articles.
5672  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness: There IS a war on terror. on: September 30, 2012, 12:46:20 PM
Quote excerpts from (Democrat) Walter Russel Mead.  (His post also praises the President's UN speech).

"...some of the administration’s (foreign policy) misjudgments have been serious. Perhaps the most fundamental and most consequential was the decision to downplay the degree to which what the administration refuses to call the global war on terror still dominates American policy and American strategic thought.  Like the characters in a Harry Potter story who don’t want to speak Lord Voldemort’s name because they are afraid that using his name makes him stronger,...
The administration sought to demobilize the American people and encouraged the nation to stand down from the war footing we assumed after the first 9/11.  Instead of providing leadership and guidance to a public baffled, weary and confused by the struggles of the last decade, this administration sought to turn the national conversation away from the radical threat. It tried to change the subject when it should have helped the country develop a serious and sophisticated view of a complicated, dangerous and continuing international threat.  9/11/12 has blown the obfuscation away. The global war on terror (or whatever we call it, and the old Bush-era name is flawed) hasn’t ended; it has evolved."
5673  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security, Border Protection, and American Freedom on: September 30, 2012, 12:35:50 PM
BD, I don't have Univision here either and I assume it will be in Spanish language.  Hoping for followup later from others.
5674  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Homeland Security, Border Protection, Operation Fast Furious on Univision on: September 30, 2012, 11:15:39 AM
Various media reporting that Univision has a powerful piece on Fast and Furious (Operation Dead Mexicans and Border Agent) airing today, Sunday at 7pm eastern time, 4pm pacific.

Univision: The untold story of what 'Fast and Furious' wrought in Mexico

Sunday evening, Univision airs an investigative report on how the botched 'Fast and Furious' program resulted in a deadly toll in Mexico when US authorities allowed guns to 'walk' across the border.

By Patrik Jonsson, Staff writer / September 29, 2012

The ATF is under fire over a Phoenix-based gun-trafficking investigation called "Fast and Furious," in which agents allowed hundreds of guns into the hands of straw purchasers in hopes of making a bigger case.

When a journalist for Univision asked President Obama last week why he hasn’t fired Attorney General Eric Holder over the “Fast and Furious” gun walking fiasco, the reporter, it turns out, had an inside scoop that added urgency to the question.

At 7 p.m. on Sunday, Univision says it’ll air a blockbuster investigation detailing the impact of the deeply flawed gunrunning investigation, which operated between Oct. 2009 and January 2011.

The Spanish-language channel says the “Aqui y Ahora” program will expose the true deadly toll of a covert program where US officials allowed over 2,000 high-powered rifles to “walk” into the hands of violent Mexican cartels. Expecting American interest, Univision will caption the program in English.

In the US, “Fast and Furious” is most noted for its ties to the death of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry and for political fallout over the extent of involvement of the Obama administration, including Attorney General Holder. But in Mexico, the program may reignite furor over how a US government that had promised to try to halt the border gun traffic instead covertly contributed to it.

“Americans have been getting a lot of information about the possible cover-up in the Justice Department, the tragedy of Brian Terry getting killed, but what about the Mexicans?” says Miami-based Gerardo Reyes, Univision’s director of investigative reporting, in an interview Saturday with the Monitor.

“The sinister part of this, and I know it sounds very hard, is that the success of this operation depended in part on the fact that the guns were used in Mexico to kill,” says Mr. Reyes. “In order to reach the target of the operation, which was identifying the drug traffickers who were using the guns, [ATF agents] were waiting for the guns to be used. And how are guns used in Mexico? Killing people. I talked to an ATF agent who said there was no other way to explain it.”

By cross referencing gun tracing data, Univision identified 57 weapons linked to murders and crimes in Mexico, and used that data to highlight “the face of the tragedy in Mexico,” says Mr. Reyes.

Reyes said the program will detail Fast and Furious ties to the massacre of 16 teenage boys and girls in Ciudad Juarez, the nation-shaking murder of Mario Gonzalez Rodriguez, the brother of the former Chihuahua attorney general, the extent to which the Mexican government knew about the program, and an interview with a drug trafficker who says he heard from colleagues that the US government was selling guns to the cartels.

The program comes two weeks after a long-awaited DOJ inspector general report was met with bipartisan approval as it chided the Justice Department and ATF for allowing Fast and Furious to ever happen, identified 14 people who should be held responsible, and suggested that the program was ultimately what Obama and Eric Holder originally said after Agent Terry’s murder: The product of an ill-advised ATF gambit in Phoenix, where employees later tried to cover up the fact that gunwalking was occurring.

The author of the report, Michael Horowitz, did note to the House Oversight Committee that a person who could have possibly connected Fast and Furious to the White House refused to be interviewed. Mr. Horowitz also faulted the Department of Justice for failing to pick up on what the program entailed, which could have been easily gleaned from wiretap applications sent for approval to the department in Washington.

Under the program, about 2,000 mostly AK-47s and some .50 caliber guns were allowed to be purchased by known straw buyers and “walk” without trace into Mexico. The gunwalking was at first denied by the Justice Department, which then had to concede that the government did indeed knowingly allow guns to cross the border.

President Obama has called the program a mistake, but it had an honorable intent: Under intense pressure to stymie tens of thousands of illegal guns flowing across the border, ATF, building on a smaller Bush-era program that cooperated with Mexican authorities, hoped agents could trace the guns beyond low-level straw buyers and to the highest levels of cartel. Some 40 people were indicted on charges brought using intelligence gleaned from Fast and Furious.

The question remains how far up in the Justice Department knowledge of the program went. Some Republicans suspect that it was a ploy brewed up at the highest levels, including Holder and President Obama, to foment support for more domestic gun restrictions.

But Michael Horowitz, the inspector general, found only blame at the lower reaches of justice, positing that it was the product of a regional taskforce not a national subterfuge intended by the administration to sway policy.

No matter how far up knowledge of Fast and Furious actually went, exposure of its true toll in Mexico will likely raise new questions about how such a fatally flawed operation could ever have happened.

In a press release for Sunday’s program, Univision says, “Univision News’ Investigative Unit was also able to identify additional guns that escaped the control of ATF agents and were used in different types of crimes throughout Mexico. Furthermore, some of these guns – none of which were reported by Congressional investigators – were put in the hands of drug traffickers in Honduras, Puerto Rico, and Colombia. A person familiar with the recent Congressional hearings called Univision’s findings ‘the holy grail’ that Congress had been searching for.”
5675  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Sec. State Hillary calls for Global Tax!!! on: September 30, 2012, 10:51:29 AM
Strengthen the world by weakening the U.S., one would hope or think it is the Americans who would oppose this.  Doesn't all foreign aid poll terribly?  Isn't this the gaffe of all gaffes of this campaign?  This is be one of several openings Romney has available to compete favorably in the foreign policy debate.
5676  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential, Webb endorsement? on: September 30, 2012, 01:40:55 AM
Romney missed the word veterans in his acceptance speech.  I'm assuming Obama's writers gave them a shout out.  I doubt the veteran unemployment problem has ever been worse.

President Obama omitted the word 'constitution' in speech defending no congress authorization for the war in Libya.  Oops.  Webb's 2011 criticism of the Libyan war forgotten in 2012?

Jim Webb, John Kerry and John McCain served in Vietnam.  Romney did not serve in Vietnam.  No President ever has.  The correlation I see is that Webb endorses Democrats, not veterans.

Jim Webb thinks Romney is thinking about veterans when he says too many people are dependent on government.  Insincere IMHO.

Word count can be telling though.  From President Obama's bin Laden operation announcement:
I:  9
me: 2
my: 3

That is 14 first person pronouns on a day he played golf to make sure the enemy didn't think anything unusual was up.

Gas prices doubled under Obama.  Obama consumed 53,300 gallons on an Earth Day trip.  His acceptance speech missed any reference to 'energy' or gas prices.  Time constraints?

Jim Webb's idea of a person who spent his young adult life preparing to be Commander in Chief is Barack Obama - of the Choomg gang?  

I understand Jim Webb is leaving politics.  Maybe endorsements like this have taken a toll on him.
5677  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Redistribution or Growth, Choose One on: September 30, 2012, 12:08:27 AM
Responding to NY Times Article: In Romney-Obama ‘Redistribution’ Debate, a Gray Area, Eduardo Porter

Redistribution or Growth, Choose One

Redistribution analysis provides answers to the wrong question in the income debate. The Gini index Eduardo Porter (NY Time) references tells us only how your income compares with others, not how well anyone is doing. The question should be - which of the alternatives on the table will result in more income to more families going forward, no matter where you sit today in the income spectrum.

The Obama economy has worked the fixed-pie economic model to death, proving its underlying assumptions false. Central to redistribution is that disincentives don't matter and growth will rebound no matter the policies. President Obama assumes that capital gains tax rates, already scheduled to go up at the end of this year by more than 50% on higher income investors, will have no detrimental effect on the job situations of middle income workers. It will actually help them, he argues. But we know that isn't true. He admits knowing the contradiction when he accuses his opponent of moving jobs overseas in response to the same employment disincentives.

Employment requires capital and capital requires after tax return on investment. When we were approaching the last fiscal cliff in 2008 with tax rate hikes imminent, the selloff became epidemic. Those rate increases never happened but the damage was done. Millions of jobs were lost and trillions in wealth was destroyed. Worse for investment decisions than high marginal tax rates is uncertainty about future, high marginal tax rates. That uncertainty has been a continuous feature of the Obama economy from the day that the Pelosi-Reid-Obama took majority in congress with unemployment at 4.6%.

The question is not how much do you make compared to your neighbor but simply how much will you make. Paying the full array of your household bills, gas in the car, college and saving for retirement has nothing to do with what your neighbor or what any rich guy across town is making.

Mr. Porter quite accurately points out the irony that inequality increased more under Clinton than it did under the first Pres. Bush, but that is because the economy, at least in the last 6 years of Clinton, was growing much faster. Pres. Clinton had 2 years of slow growth, then changed course after the midterm election and the change of congress. Pres. Clinton cut capital gains rates and backed away from national healthcare while Pres. Obama clings to his redistributive, anti-growth agenda. The pro-growth policies that Pres. Clinton adopted brought prosperity, growth and at least a temporarily balanced budget. But growth means inequality because it is tied to the freedoms and choices of working, saving, investing and participating in the economy to create that growth. Conversely, the George W Bush presidency featured 51 months of job growth but according to Porter's own chart, the time when inequality fell was when the economy was plunging disastrously.

The key measure is upward income mobility, not income inequality. How likely are you to grow your income, over the next 4 years or over your lifetime. In a class-based, redistributive economy, the answer to your growth potential is not much. It is expanding economic freedom that offers the best opportunity to improve your economic situation. Don't grow the burden of government. Ease its excessive burdens.

After 4 years on the current path we know that penalties on investment do not translate into rewards for workers. Investment will pull back, sit on the sidelines or move overseas. Not just taxes, but with 50,000 new regulations the climate for startup companies, the engine of future growth, has never been worse. This helps no one.

Under Pres. Obama we have had more months above 8% unemployment than in all presidential terms combined since Truman, when the Bureau of Labor Statistics started tracking monthly unemployment. The real unemployment rate counting underemployment and workers lost from the workforce is close to 20%. For college grads today, the percentage failing to get a job in their field is worse than that.

Robbing Peter to pay Paul has proven to be no way to grow the economy, to improve opportunities or to be in a stronger position to help the truly needy. Printing money and running deficits in the trillions only worsens the future burden.

The 25 freest economies in the world earn per capita income 7 times greater than the 25 least free economies. Freer economies provides more income for more people.  Inequality is a fact, but it is freedom that leads to national prosperity.  - Doug
5678  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / David Malpass: Economic Signals Point to a 2013 Recession on: September 29, 2012, 11:55:52 PM
More famous people caught reading the forum.

Economic Signals Point to a 2013 Recession


Data released this week by the Commerce Department waved bright red recession flags—orders for durable goods fell 13.2% in August and inflation-adjusted personal income fell 0.3%. President Obama is asking for more time to allow the lackluster recovery to pick up steam. His plan is to move the economy "forward" by keeping the current policy framework in place and adding higher tax rates on income and capital gains. But the new Commerce Department numbers, combined with his stay-the-course approach, point to recession in 2013.
5679  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Energy Politics & Science on: September 28, 2012, 12:07:20 PM
"Most geographers actually consider the southern hemisphere to be part of the globe."

Very funny line.

I watched the IMAX movie to the Arctic, a beautiful movie about Arctic life, Polar bears in particular.  It is narrated by Merly Streep with nonstop liberal extremist messages and no mention that the population of Polar bears is increasing or that the Antarctic is gaining ice.  While they fly endlessly to produce propaganda for us, we should stay home and get used to doing without energy was the message
5680  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: September 28, 2012, 11:54:54 AM
President Obama now has more months over 8% unemployment than the last 14 Presidential terms combined, all Presidents since 1948 when the Bureau of Labor Statistics began recording the monthly unemployment rate.  The score is 43 for Obama and 39 for Truman, Eisenhower 1st term, Eisenhower 2nd term, JFK, LBJ, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan 1st term, Reagan 2nd term, Bush, Clinton first term, W Bush 1st term, W Bush 2nd term.

Source:  BLS
5681  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Housing/Mortgage/Real Estate on: September 28, 2012, 11:41:04 AM
From the WSJ housing story: "Prices still stand nearly 30% below their 2006 peak"

That was my main complaint with the Wesbury analysis, it seemed to skip the context that Americans are still stinging from the loss of personal wealth, 17 trillion of dollars (?), roughly a year and a half of national income, in the housing collapse and it isn't being recouped with sales numbers and prices at these levels.  It still looks like a slow moving, sputtering market to me.

Roughly speaking, all the people who had 30% or less equity in 2006 with all those equity loans who are still in their home are still at either zero equity or underwater.  Zero equity or underwater to me means they are not really homeowners.
5682  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential, Catholics for Obama on: September 28, 2012, 11:07:59 AM
5683  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness: Leaks, continued on: September 28, 2012, 11:03:10 AM
"In March, "Foreign Policy" magazine reported that "several high-level sources" in the Obama administration had revealed Israel's secret relationship with Azerbaijan, where Israeli planes could refuel to or from an air strike against Iran's nuclear facilities."

Not really undermining an ally if they aren't really an ally.

This was last March.  Where was the investigation?  Where is the outrage?
5684  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / GDP 'growth' revised downward, First Trust offers chief economist job to GM on: September 27, 2012, 11:57:54 PM
It was Bush, then the headwinds from Europe, unfair trade practices in China, ATM machines, Republican obstructionism.  Now they say it was the drought.

It was not 50,000 new regulations in 42 months or two dozen new taxes coming online with Obamacare or any other attack on employers, investors or businesses.

U.S. 2Q GDP Growth Revised Down to 1.3%

"U.S. economic growth was much weaker than previously estimated in the second quarter as a drought cut into inventories, setting the platform for an even more sluggish performance in the current quarter against the backdrop of slowing factory activity.

Gross domestic product expanded at a 1.3 percent annual rate, the slowest pace since the third quarter of 2011 and down from last month's 1.7 percent estimate, the Commerce Department said in its final estimate on Thursday.

Output was also revised down to reflect weaker rates of consumer and business spending than previously estimated. Outlays on residential construction export growth were also not as robust as had been previously estimated."

Who knew?

For recovery comparison purposes, the 2nd qtr of 1984 growth under Reagan growing out of the Carter malaise was 9.3% (, more than 7 times greater.  They probably had more rain.  Reagan went on to win 49 states.  Obama and his puppet pollsters I think blew a ten point lead with the decline by design strategy.

5685  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Fact checking the missed intelligence briefings, Washington Post on: September 27, 2012, 07:52:12 PM
Elsewhere I have heard the opinion from those who were involved in previous administrations that the intention of the written intelligence briefing is to start the discussion on security risks, not to end it.

"one giant difference between then (Reagan's missed briefings) and now: Sept. 11, 2001"

" interestingly, since my columns appeared, Obama attended his PDB meeting seven days in a row for the first time in seven months. If live briefings are no better than paper briefings, why has Obama suddenly begun receiving briefings in-person?"

A bogus defense of Obama’s intelligence briefing record
By Marc A. Thiessen, Published: September 25

The Post’s Fact Checker, Glenn Kessler, takes issue with my report that since taking office President Obama has skipped his daily intelligence meeting more than half the time. So let’s fact check the Fact Checker.

The facts

After hearing from sources in the intelligence community that President Obama was not attending his daily intelligence meeting on a daily basis, I asked researchers at the Government Accountability Institute, a nonpartisan research group headed by Peter Schweizer (who is also my business partner in a speechwriting firm, Oval Office Writers) to examine at Obama’s official schedule. We found during his first 1,225 days in office, Obama had attended his daily meeting to discuss the Presidential Daily Brief (PDB) just 536 times — or 43.8 percent of the time. During 2011 and the first half of 2012, his attendance became even less frequent — falling to just over 38 percent. By contrast, Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush, almost never missed his daily intelligence meeting.

After Islamist radicals stormed our embassy in Cairo and terrorists killed our ambassador to Libya on Sept. 11, I further reported that Obama also skipped his daily intelligence meeting every day in the week leading up to the attacks. The day after the attack, he scheduled but then canceled his daily intelligence meeting, while finding time to go to Las Vegas for a campaign rally.

These facts are not in dispute. Indeed, before publishing both of my columns, I specifically asked National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor if there were instances where the president had, in fact, held his daily meeting on the PDB that did not appear on the official public calendar. He offered no examples, and not once did he challenge the numbers I presented. Neither has any White House official challenged them in the weeks since this controversy erupted. So, as a factual matter, Kessler offers no evidence that the information I presented on Obama’s PDB meeting attendance is wrong.

What Kessler and the Obama White House do argue is a matter not of fact but of opinion — that it does not matter if Obama attends a daily intelligence meeting because he reads his PDB every day. Kessler compares Obama to former presidents going back to Reagan and Nixon and finds that “many did not have an oral briefing” — and that this means Obama has simply “chosen to receive his information in a different manner than his predecessor.” There are several problems with this.

First, Kessler ignores one giant difference between then and now: Sept. 11, 2001.

Comparing lax presidential briefing habits before and after 9/11 is like comparing lax presidential security habits before and after the Kennedy assassination. After terrorists killed 3,000 people in our midst, everything changed — and the president’s daily intelligence meeting took on dramatically increased importance. President Bush made it a priority to sit down with his senior intelligence advisers every day to discuss overnight intelligence on threats to the country. President Obama has not.

Kessler notes that Bill Clinton’s CIA director could not get a meeting with him, and that Clinton was known to comment that his morning papers were better than the intelligence brief. This is more an indictment of Clinton than a defense of Obama. On Clinton’s watch, terrorists attacked us repeatedly without cost or consequence — from the first World Trade Center attack in 1993, to the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia in 1996, to the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998, to the USS Cole in 2000.

As for Nixon and Reagan, comparing Obama’s briefing habits to those of presidents who served 30 to 40 years ago — in an era when advanced technology consisted of electric typewriters — is irrelevant in an age of 21st-century surveillance and collection capabilities. The volume, speed and complexity of intelligence has changed dramatically in the intervening decades — and with it the need for interactive briefings.

Without criticizing Obama, former CIA director Mike Hayden recently explained the value of the in-person meeting: “With President Bush, I really saw the value of the personal interaction that we had on an almost daily basis. There was rich give-and-take, so that not only did the president get the advantage of knowing the analysts’ innermost thoughts, but they also were able to leave the room understanding what the president believed he needed in order to make the kind of decisions he had to make.”

In addition to the PDB, Hayden said, Bush also received two longer, magazine-length pieces each week, and additional in-person briefings were held on each of these. On Thursdays, Hayden also briefed Bush for a half-hour on sensitive collection programs and covert action.

The Pinocchio test

Perhaps Obama does not feel he needs such daily interaction. But the fact that he has not been having it is indisputable. (Though, interestingly, since my columns appeared, Obama attended his PDB meeting seven days in a row for the first time in seven months. If live briefings are no better than paper briefings, why has Obama suddenly begun receiving briefings in-person?)

It is a fact that for eight years before Obama took office, there was a daily meeting to discuss the PDB. And it is a fact that, on taking office, Obama stopped holding the daily intelligence meeting on a daily basis. Kessler may not think that is important, and he is entitled to his own opinion — but not his own facts.

I give Four Pinocchios to the Fact Checker.
5686  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Extended Quotes and Critical Review of Pres. Obama's speech at the UN Sept 2012 on: September 27, 2012, 07:30:55 PM
First this from the previous post:  "Earlier this month, the Census Bureau released its annual report showing that the number of people in poverty was nearly 3 million higher in 2011 than in 2009, an increase of 6%."

  - I first read that posted by GM on our cognitive dissonance thread.  Can you imagine how many times and how many places that would be running if this were 5 weeks before an election and George Bush was President!

John Hinderaker from Powerline covering Pres. Obama's speech to the UN mixing quotes and commentary, might be easier to read at the link:

Obama’s Speech at the United Nations

Barack Obama and Mitt Romney both delivered foreign policy speeches in New York today, Obama at the United Nations and Romney at the Clinton Global Initiative. The coincidence offers an opportunity for comparison. For now, let’s look at Obama’s speech, and I will try to get to Romney’s tomorrow.

The context for Obama’s speech was turmoil in the Arab world and the murder of Ambassador Stevens and other Americans in Benghazi. The speech wasn’t as bad as it might have been; for one thing, Obama offered, for the first time, a reasonably strong defense of free speech. On balance, I give it a C-.

Obama began with a tribute to Chris Stevens’s career, as was appropriate. But at the key moment, Obama characteristically slipped into the passive voice:

    Two weeks ago, he travelled to Benghazi to review plans to establish a new cultural center and modernize a hospital. That’s when America’s compound came under attack. Along with three of his colleagues, Chris was killed in the city he helped to save.

The compound “came under attack.” By whom? At least this time, Obama acknowledged that it was an attack and not a demonstration. And Stevens “was killed.” Again, while Obama was not explicit, he seemed to be backing away from the smoke inhalation theory. But who killed Stevens, and how, and when? We are not likely to learn anything more about his fate until after the election.

The next passage is dishonest:

    If we are serious about upholding these ideals, it will not be enough to put more guards in front of an Embassy; or to put out statements of regret, and wait for the outrage to pass. If we are serious about those ideals, we must speak honestly about the deeper causes of this crisis.

Why won’t it be enough to put more guards in front of an embassy? The embassy in Cairo was protected by Marine guards, and the mob didn’t sack it, although they did succeed in tearing down the stars and stripes and replacing it with al Qaeda’s flag. More guards could have prevented that. And the consulate in Benghazi apparently wasn’t guarded at all. It should have been. Here, Obama implicitly lets himself off the hook for the needless deaths of four Americans.

Obama expressed enthusiasm for the “Arab spring.” As he ticked off his administration’s actions with respect to each country, he highlighted, certainly unintentionally, the lack of any coherent policy:

    We were inspired by the Tunisian protests that toppled a dictator, because we recognized our own beliefs in the aspirations of men and women who took to the streets.
    We insisted on change in Egypt, because our support for democracy put us on the side of the people.
    We supported a transition of leadership in Yemen, because the interests of the people were not being served by a corrupt status quo.
    We intervened in Libya alongside a broad coalition, and with the mandate of the U.N. Security Council, because we had the ability to stop the slaughter of innocents; and because we believed that the aspirations of the people were more powerful than a tyrant.
    And as we meet here, we again declare that the regime of Bashar al-Assad must come to an end so that the suffering of the Syrian people can stop, and a new dawn can begin.

With hindsight, maybe we shouldn’t have “insisted” on regime change in Egypt, or led from behind on Libya.

Obama’s discussion of the “deeper causes” of Muslim unrest included the inevitable denunciation of the YouTube video that ostensibly provoked the protests:

    That is what we saw play out the last two weeks, as a crude and disgusting video sparked outrage throughout the Muslim world. I have made it clear that the United States government had nothing to do with this video, and I believe its message must be rejected by all who respect our common humanity. It is an insult not only to Muslims, but to America as well – for as the city outside these walls makes clear, we are a country that has welcomed people of every race and religion. We are home to Muslims who worship across our country. We not only respect the freedom of religion – we have laws that protect individuals from being harmed because of how they look or what they believe. We understand why people take offense to this video because millions of our citizens are among them.

This is profoundly hypocritical. Certainly the video puts Islam and Muhammad in a bad light, but no more so than countless movies, plays, books, etc. have portrayed Christianity and Judaism. Moreover, compared to much popular entertainment, it is neither crude nor disgusting. As just about everyone has pointed out, Hillary Clinton screamed with glee at “The Book of Mormon,” which is at least as disrespectful toward the Mormon church as the YouTube video is toward Islam, and considerably cruder. It is not the case that America rejects insults to religions; on the contrary, every one of its powerful cultural institutions encourages such insults. But I guess that is a little more truth than Obama thought his audience could handle.

Next, Obama went on to explain why he didn’t ban the video. (The same explanation would apply to “The Book of Mormon,” but apparently no one has suggested that he should ban that play.):

    I know there are some who ask why we don’t just ban such a video. The answer is enshrined in our laws: our Constitution protects the right to practice free speech. Here in the United States, countless publications provoke offense. Like me, the majority of Americans are Christian, and yet we do not ban blasphemy against our most sacred beliefs. Moreover, as President of our country, and Commander-in-Chief of our military, I accept that people are going to call me awful things every day, and I will always defend their right to do so. Americans have fought and died around the globe to protect the right of all people to express their views – even views that we disagree with.

Yes, that’s right–Barack Obama and Jesus, they are both subject to so much unfair abuse!

    We do so not because we support hateful speech, but because our Founders understood that without such protections, the capacity of each individual to express their own views, and practice their own faith, may be threatened. We do so because in a diverse society, efforts to restrict speech can become a tool to silence critics, or oppress minorities. We do so because given the power of faith in our lives, and the passion that religious differences can inflame, the strongest weapon against hateful speech is not repression, it is more speech – the voices of tolerance that rally against bigotry and blasphemy, and lift up the values of understanding and mutual respect.
    I know that not all countries in this body share this understanding of the protection of free speech. Yet in 2012, at a time when anyone with a cell phone can spread offensive views around the world with the click of a button, the notion that we can control the flow of information is obsolete. The question, then, is how we respond. And on this we must agree: there is no speech that justifies mindless violence.
    There are no words that excuse the killing of innocents. There is no video that justifies an attack on an Embassy. There is no slander that provides an excuse for people to burn a restaurant in Lebanon, or destroy a school in Tunis, or cause death and destruction in Pakistan. …

All true, although it assorts oddly with the administration’s hauling in the maker of the YouTube video for questioning. Obama went on to discourse on who must and must not control the future, culminating with this:

    The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam.

Really? There is a great deal to criticize in Islam, and in the life of the “prophet,” which was anything but exemplary. Peoples who now labor under the yoke of Islam will never make progress until such critiques are heard and acted upon. My own view is that the future very much belongs to those who “slander”–or criticize, anyway, which is the same thing–the “prophet of Islam.” Obama next tries to draw a parallel with other religions:

    Yet to be credible, those who condemn that slander must also condemn the hate we see when the image of Jesus Christ is desecrated, churches are destroyed, or the Holocaust is denied.

This is, of course, a false parallel; slandering the prophet is by no means on a par with burning down churches and murdering their congregants, which is what happens in the Islamic world. And the problem with Holocaust denial is that it is not an academic debate, however disingenuous; rather, the danger is that those who deny the Holocaust, like, say, Ahmadinejad and his followers, yearn to repeat it. And whom is Obama kidding? Neither he nor anyone else has any intention of defending Christians and Jews against either symbolic or real assaults. For example, don’t hold your breath waiting for Obama to denounce Bill Maher’s (that would be million-dollar Bill) slurs against Christianity.

Next, this:

    Among Israelis and Palestinians, the future must not belong to those who turn their backs on the prospect of peace. Let us leave behind those who thrive on conflict, and those who reject the right of Israel to exist.

The Israelis must wonder why Obama had to drag them into it. What do they have to do with the riots that roil various Muslim countries? Nothing. And if the Obama administration protected America’s embassies and consulates as competently as Netanyahu’s government protects Israel’s, Obama wouldn’t have to begin his speech with a tribute to a murdered ambassador.

Well, that’s enough. Obama concluded his speech with what amounted to a plea for his own re-election, which probably puzzled his listeners. Having walked through the speech once more, I think my grade may have been a bit generous. D+ is perhaps closer to the mark.
5687  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Romney, How about Consent of the Governed as a governing principle. on: September 27, 2012, 01:47:01 PM
JDN,  In the future, will you please not use my name in your posts when you are being UNRESPONSIVE to the points made or the questions posed.  You DO or you DO NOT see a distinction between state and federal legislation?  You didn't say.

One difference between a Massachusetts state plan and Obamacare is ... CONSENT of the GOVERNED.  In Mass, the people wanted the program and sent legislators there to the tune of 85% Democrats to get it done.  The most Romney could do is shape it slightly with the powers of being Governor and spin it positively the best that he could.

In Obamacare, there was no consent of the governed for the people of Texas as an example.  Who in WYOMING wanted this or voted for it?  Pres. Obama rounded up a temporary majority that already has been disbanded to force down the throat of Americans what MOST DO NOT WANT.  

Yet you see no distinction, you never acknowledge where you are wrong, just move on with more deception and blurring.

One candidate has a signature achievement of ramming this down our throats and one has promised to repeal it.  That makes for a VERY CLEAR DISTINCTION.  Why not argue the merits of the legislation or the repeal with one side for it and one side against it instead of the ad hominem attacks that you throw? 

Your example is not a flip flop, it is a distinction you choose to ignore.  Romney's past was too moderate and too compromising for many of us on the right.  So we choose between too moderate and far left - that's easy!

You say he changed a position where he did not and you said he will raise tax rates where he has said he will not.  Why can't you argue policies and positions of the candidates honestly?

Pres. Obama chose to write special deals in the bill for special Dem Senators rather than negotiate on substance to win even one Republican vote.  Did you show where that same thing happened in Masschusetts under Gov. Romney?  If so, I missed it.
5688  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Romney on: September 27, 2012, 11:18:39 AM
Do we really have a regular poster here that does not know the difference between state and federal legislation?
5689  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Libyan attack, Fool me once, fool me twice, now whose fault is it? on: September 27, 2012, 09:42:36 AM
Libya thread here but writing my 2 cents about the cognitive dissonance of our national security:

Preface all criticisms of our handling of anything to do with a terror attacks with the fact that the blame first goes to the attackers, the enemy. 

However, is an attack attempt on an embassy or consulate on the anniversary of 9/11 in a country that we helped turn over to an al Qaida coalition completely unexpected?  Really??

Al Qaida also blew up our embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998, pre-9/11.  They blew up the USS Cole, then the Twin Towers - again, hit the Pentagon, took a shot at the Capitol, White House and other America and western targets they found within their reach.

Yet the administration won't call it terrorism and won't take reasonable precautions.

The Ambassador who we held as our most valuable asset in the region and died of smoke inhalation started his September 11 2012 day in an al Qaida stronghold inside an American building without smoke mask or a fire extinguisher.

My daughter's bedroom in our unlocked, super secret, secure upper midwest location has more security than that.

Keep in mind that the UN Ambassador they put up to lie to us about the video, the spontaneity and the who knew defense is auditioning for the job of new Secretary of State.  How did she do? 

The 'who-knew?' defense and the straw man line that the President can't prevent rogue videos from reaching the internet (who said that he should have?) is the shiny object to see if we will look away from the fact that we have terrorism deniers in charge of security and that we left some of our best assets in harm's way unprotected.  MHO

If the argument is that we had protection but it turned out to not be enough (who knew?), I ask again, how many of the enemy were killed in the exchange?

Clint Eastwood nailed it, if they aren't up to the job you gotta let 'em go.
5690  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Romney on: September 27, 2012, 08:59:44 AM
Nice job by GM of answering the Tax Policy Center left wing opinion piece.  Brookings, Urban Institute and TPC are objective, unbiased?  I wonder if the original poster takes groups like Heritage and Cato as non-partisan as well.

Deductibility of municipal bonds is off-limits?  What kind of an assumption is that when Romney has said explicitly that big deductions will be closed for the wealthiest.  Isn't an end to deductibility of municipal bond interest a certainty if 2nd term Obama triples the tax rate on capital gains?  Otherwise how would ANY private money ever flow into capital investment?

Mathematical impossibility was already proven for the status quo; we don't need a TPC analysis:  “Today I’m pledging to cut the deficit we inherited in half by the end of my first term in office", he said.

What did the 'non-partisan' TPC write about THAT?

What standard are we holding the Romney to?  The choice is a competing economic plan that yields 0.0% growth and trillion dollar deficits that will quadruple when Obamacare's full costs materialize and when QE is exposed as witchcraft and interest rates on our debt jump up to market rates.
5691  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues - Pull Polling from the agenda driven media on: September 27, 2012, 08:33:08 AM
In polling, the media is the story unless you think there is some science to slop like this.  Most dramatic of the latest false polls, NY Times and See-BS are putting their names on polls that put Obama up by 10 in Ohio.  Obama is going to win in 2012 by a margin of 5 times what he had in the euphoria of 2008?  And the margin of error is what, 3%?  Ha ha.

Was there any adjustment made after all t he polls were wrong in Wisconsin by 6 points, any change to the turnout model after Obama's party lost by 7 points nationwide in 2010?  I don't think so.

Romney is leading by 10 with independents, has stronger enthusiasm from his base and will lose the election and closest states by 10 or more??

Instead of arguing the internals, let's just watch and see.  The election is soon enough.  Watch them tighten up their own results just before the election as the last one is the only one for which anyone can measure accuracy.  Meanwhile, this crap will linger as the rest of the media follows the poll averages in measurfes like the RCP average.  Readers and viewers should walk away from these failed brands, unless what they print you think is the unbiased truth. Lol.

You think the opponents of Obama's failed agenda will skip voting out of discouragement caused by false polls - good luck with that!
5692  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Romney on: September 26, 2012, 12:19:48 PM
I did say he will cut the tax rate for the upper class, and he, or the Republicans, are proposing cutting quite a few middle class programs.
i.e. "He is giving to the rich and taking from the middle class."

1. Why would anyone who is middle class need a program?

2. How is allowing people who made money legally keep a bit more of it "taking it from the middle class"?

Yes, admitting middle class dependency is the objective.  They must have worn out the take from the poor, push Granny off the cliff lines or admit those votes are already sewn up within the alleged 47% - while the middle class are starting to see they and their children will be paying for the Obama disaster if we should survive it.
5693  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Pathological Science on: September 26, 2012, 12:09:12 PM
I am pro electric car and pro-hybrid - competing in a free market.

"tax credits, which can be as much as $7,500 per vehicle"

Whether $20,0000 or 200,000, electric or hybrid, that means every taxpayer and every future taxpayer is paying a part of the transportation cost for rich people. 

And it didn't save the planet.  Who knew.  wink
5694  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Economics on: September 26, 2012, 12:01:00 PM
GM, Nice charts.  Welcome back! Ironic that the least free countries have the highest income inequality.  You would think the chart showing the 25 most free countries with 7-fold more GDP per capita that the 25 least free countries telling it all would have some effect on policy makers somewhere...

Crafty: "I remain open to the idea that beggar-thy-neighbor exchange rate policies and capital controls present a problem.   Yes?  If so, how to solve?"

Probably mentioned before but there was quite a debate between some economic legends about fixed versus floating exchange rates between Robert Bartley former WSJ editor and Milton Friedman.  We have a floating and only partially manipulated exchange rate between the US and Europe.  Rates within the Euro are fixed thanks to some work by another legend Robert Mundell who thought that rigidity would force fiscal discipline in places like Greece etc.  Oops.  China and the growth economies of Asia pegged to the US$ and that worked well for them.  By beggar thy neighbor I assume you refer to our accusation that China's rate is locked in too low.  If true, and it probably is, it skews things but in total is no great advantage for China in the long run; that is is my understanding.  So my answer to how to solve is jawbone them like Romney is doing but otherwise what is there? Devalue back?  In a sense we are with QE.  The real answer is in those charts from GM.  Pursue economic freedom, compete in a global market like we mean business and let the chips fall where they may.  If China prospers then they will start spending and consuming and caring what they have to pay for imports as part of their own standard of living.
5695  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness 9/11/2012 on: September 26, 2012, 11:40:12 AM
We knew it was al Qaida within 24 hours, America was attacked again, and they sent out UN Ambassador Susan Rice to all the Sunday talk shows, I saw 2 or 3 of them, and she dished out the known false company line about a video no one saw and spontaneous crowds etc.

Isn't that the kind of deception they were (falsely) accusing of Bush all through the Iraq war?

Begs the questions, why lie and what else are they lying about?
5696  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Economics, market collapse 2012? on: September 26, 2012, 11:33:18 AM
Thanks GM but I was fishing for someone to show where I was wrong. )

Had dinner with execs of the biggest multi-national here, picked up that they are looking at Europe for trouble, which means more trouble than what we all already know and on a scale to have repercussions here.  I mentioned my expectation of collapse-here-now and in a scary way heard no disagreement there either.

I wish no economic decline on anyone but maybe we will get a new awareness of policy bungling get and a new government out of it.  The fiscal cliff in Washington is a refusal to cut spending during a 4th straight trillion dollar deficit and an insistence on raising tax rates when we know that will make things worse.  There are mountains of new taxes and regulations coming,  Europe is on the brink, China: who knows, economic reports are coming from the failed recovery summer 3.0 just ended, and more Obamacare mandates kicking in.  There are way too many more shoes possible to drop on this eggshell economy and no positive seeds have been planted in years to cause an upward turn.

Markets down only a smidgen over the last 5 days so my prediction so far is wrong.  We will see. 
5697  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Paul Ryan on: September 26, 2012, 10:28:04 AM
Paul Ryan was on a roll yesterday.  In this debate season, Joe Biden should be running scared.

48 seconds, take a look.  

    "I got to start off on something that was really troubling that occurred last night. Did you guys watch that Packer game last night? I mean, give me a break," an exasperated Ryan said.

    "It reminds me of President Obama and the economy. If you can't get it right, it is time to get out," Ryan continued.

    "I half think these refs work part-time for the Obama administration in the Budget Office. They see the national debt clock starring them in the face, they see a debt crisis and they just ignore and pretend it didn't even happen. They are trying to pick the winners and losers and they don't even do that very well."
5698  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Shedlock: Free Trade and Fair Trade on: September 25, 2012, 02:25:22 PM

Does this analysis hold with regard to US workers in the presence of Chinese capital and currency controls?

I agree with the analysis of the author.  It is true that Romney is sounding complaints with unfair practices in China.  That is fine to negotiate tough, but not to the point of imposing tariffs or closing off trade.  A tariff would be a tax imposed on the American consumer, not the Chinese producer.  Tasking our bureaucrats to even out all production irregularities in the world before you can buy a product is no solution.  Our competitive disadvantage right now is mostly of our own making.

Posted before, globalization is both a) inevitable and b) beneficial.  If you don't agree with b) please see a).  We don't want international control over our own businesses and industries and we can't control theirs.  Pollution is another matter from trying to control their labor market.  We are also very capable of competing with and against the Chinese and everyone else.  There are levers of negotiation in the complex relationships of the countries short of stopping trade.

I like to call it freedom to trade, the freedom to buy or sell almost anything almost anywhere in the world. (Not arms to enemies etc.)  Both imports and exports are beneficial and both lead to a higher standard of living at home.  The freest economies will compete the best and benefit the most.  Hard to say if that is the US or China right now; I know they have a lower corporate tax rate.

Questions posed in the article: 
"Are bad jobs at bad wages better than no jobs at all?"  - Yes and I'm not including any kind of slave or involuntary labor as a job.

"Should the US demand third world economies pay "living wages"?"  No.
5699  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Housing/Mortgage/Real Estate on: September 25, 2012, 01:48:32 PM
I've asked our Pat to comment. He is deep in the trenches of real estate reality as usual, but if he can find a bit of time he will come share his thoughts.

These are minor points of contention I have with Wesbury.  I am really just saying that if this is strength I would hate to see weakness.  Pat can probably tell us more about what the backlog of foreclosures and underwater properties still is.

Another point is that demand I think is shifting to smaller family sizes needing smaller units (with smaller incomes).  It is not all about numbers of properties.

Grow the economy, get the real unemployment rate down from nearly 20% and  home starts and home values will take care of themselves; that's my view.  Most of what government intervention does in the housing market is to screw things up.
5700  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Romney on: September 25, 2012, 01:37:26 PM
"proposing cutting quite a few middle class programs"

No JDN. You said "take from the middle class" in a statement that YOU called "the Romney tax plan".

Here you were endorsing the Obama elegance while he was lying about Romney's tax plan which I already called you out on:

"Under my opponent's tax plan, 106 fans at the game would get an average tax cut of $250,000, and about 100,000 fans would have to pay for it,"
"Tax" and "pay for it" in terms of public finance have different meanings?? An ugly waste of my time trying to prove to you what YOU posted recently on these pages.  The adventure detoured.

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