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5651  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 2012 Presidential: You Didn't Build That! on: July 18, 2012, 01:02:24 PM
Taking over from tax returns, "You didn't build that" seems to be the defining statement of the campaign.

If the Wright Brothers, Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, etc. didn't build that, then why the hell are the rest of you, the unwashed, trying to build something?

Meanwhile we advertise with taxpayer dollars for more food stamp recipients: it's easy, it's healthy and it's fun!  And we add more to permanent disability than we add to full time employment.

It was really a Freudian slip for the 11 million dollar book writing President because we can say with certainty Mr. President: You didn't write that!

Punditry caught the President's new line and their collective jaw dropped.  It took a few days for it to really sink in.

John Podhoretz, Commentary magazine:  "The Biggest Mistake of Campaign 2012 is not Mitt Romney’s handling of Bain Capital, or anything Mitt Romney has done. The biggest mistake was the one made by Barack Obama on Friday, when what you might call his now-familiar “Declaration of Interdependence” went completely off the rails. Obama’s “we’re all in this together” bit has been a feature of his speeches during the past year, as he cites the government-led activities that have made this country better—land-grant colleges and infrastructure and the social safety net. It sounds kind of uplifting, which is why he likes to say it, and it fits his general message of a country in which government plays a central role for the good of all.  But when he extended it to personal and private endeavor, the president revealed the danger of this message—to him. ...This statement is a colossal opportunity for Mitt Romney and will prove a suppurating wound for the president, who revealed a degree not only of condescension but of contempt for the very people who are going to decide this election.  And if there’s one thing people recognize, it’s when they are being viewed with contempt."

Rich Lowry, National Review:  Obama against the Self-Made Man

If Bartlett’s ever puts together a collection of insultingly deflating quotations, it should include President Barack Obama’s take on business success before a crowd in Virginia the other day: “If you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own.”

Obama was explaining — as is his wont — why the rich should pay more taxes. They might have had a great teacher. Or they drive on public roads and bridges. “If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that,” the president explained, apparently in the serene confidence that he wasn’t speaking to an audience bristling with proud business owners. “Somebody else made that happen.”

The Obama theory of entrepreneurship is that behind every successful businessman, there is a successful government. Everyone is helpless without the state, the great protector, builder, and innovator. Everything is ultimately a collective enterprise. Individual initiative is only an ingredient in the more important work when “we do things together.”

The Obama riff is a direct steal from Elizabeth Warren, the Democratic Senate candidate in Massachusetts who sent liberal hearts aflutter by throwing the same wet towel on the notion of individual success a few months ago. The Obama/Warren view is a warrant for socialization of the proceeds of success. Behind its faux sophistication is a faculty-lounge disdain for business, and all those who make more than tenured professors by excelling at it. Behind its smiley we’re-all-in-it-together façade is a frank demand: You owe us. ...

WSJ today:
The Presidential election has a long way to go, but the line of the year so far is President Obama's on Friday: "You didn't build that." Rarely do politicians so clearly reveal their core beliefs.

Speaking in Roanoke, Virginia, Mr. Obama delivered another paean to the virtues of higher taxes on the people he believes deserve to pay even more to the government. "There are a lot of wealthy, successful Americans," he observed, and many of them attribute their wealth and success to their own intelligence and hard work. But the self-made man is an illusion: "There are a lot of smart people out there," he explained. "Let me tell you something—there are a whole bunch of hard-working people out there.

"If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help," he continued. "There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you've got a business—you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen."

This burst of ideological candor is already resonating like nothing else Mr. Obama's said in years. The Internet is awash with images of the President telling the Wright Brothers, Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Steve Jobs and other innovators they didn't build that. Kevin Costner's famous line in "Field of Dreams," as adapted for Mr. Obama: "If you build it, we'll still say you didn't really build it."

Beneath the satire is the serious point that Mr. Obama's homily is the soul of his campaign message. The President who says he wants to be transformational may be succeeding—and subordinating to government the individual enterprise and risk-taking that underlies prosperity. The question is whether this is the America that most Americans want to build.

Paul Ryan:

    Every now and then, he pierces the veil. He’s usually pretty coy about his ideology, but he lets the veil slip from time to time. … His straw man argument is this ridiculous caricature where he’s trying to say if you want any security in life, you stick with me. If you go with these Republicans, they’re going to feed you to the wolves because they believe in some Hobbesian state of nature, and it’s one or the other which is complete bunk, absolutely ridiculous. But it seems to be the only way he thinks he can make his case. He’s deluded himself into thinking that his so-called enemies are these crazy individualists who believe in some dog-eat-dog society when what he’s really doing is basically attacking people like entrepreneurs and stacking up a list of scapegoats to blame for his failures.

    His comments seem to derive from a naive vision of a government-centered society and a government-directed economy. It stems from an idea that the nucleus of society and the economy is government not the people. … It is antithetical to the American idea. We believe in free communities, and this is a statist attack on free communities. … As all of his big government spending programs fail to restore jobs and growth, he seems to be retreating into a statist vision of government direction and control of a free society that looks backward to the failed ideologies of the 20th century.

    This is not a Bill Clinton Democrat. He’s got this very government-centric, old 20th century collectivist philosophy which negates the American experiment which is people living in communities, supporting one another, having government stick to its limits so it can do its job really well … Those of us who are conservative believe in government, we just believe government has limits. We want government to do what it does well and respect its limits so civil society and families can flourish on their own and do well and achieve their potential.

    How does building roads and bridge justify Obamacare? If you like the GI Bill therefore we must go along with socialized medicine. It’s a strange leap that he takes. … To me it’s the laziest form of a debate to affix views to your opponent that they do not have so you can demonize them and defeat them and win the debate by default

    I think he believes America was on the right path until Reagan came along, and Reagan got us going in the wrong direction. And and he wants to be as transformational as Reagan by undoing the entire Reagan revolution. … I think he sees himself as bringing about this wave of progressivism, and the only thing stopping him are these meddling conservatives who believe in these founding principles so he has to caricature them in the ugliest light possible to win the argument.
5652  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The US Congress; Congressional races: Charlie Rangel on: July 17, 2012, 10:56:39 PM
"whatever happened in Charlie Rangel's race?  I remember reading it was very close and that the results were not immediately available"

He won his primary with a thin margin. They didn't call the winner right away.

5653  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Decline, Fall, and Resurrection of America on: July 17, 2012, 10:07:04 PM
"it is not unreasonable for the oil/gas industry to spend a relatively small amount to monitor and study the situation rather than go in full bore"

Agreed 100%!!!

Absolutely.  Note that many who are most skeptical of shale also don't want to allow use of light, sweet crude out of Alaska either.  There isn't a plan for prosperity that doesn't include the energy to power it.  If not oil or coal, then natural gas.  If not any fossil fuel, then nuclear.  But you must legalize and produce something or get used to the idea of becoming a third world economy.

Isn't it interesting that the war against energy production that drove prices up actually caused the shale oil and fracking revolutions.

5654  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of the left, serial cheater on: July 17, 2012, 09:52:29 PM
Writes it singular again, 3 times after having the plural nature of the serial mistakes over an extended period on a multitude of problems pointed out.  I posted 3 sources detailing more than 10 major tax law compliance errors cited.  They didn't fall randomly either; all were on the side of TAX EVASION.  You and I can't get away with that, don't kid yourself.  The context was a historic financial crisis and the opposition looked the other way to give the popular new President a good start.  So they put him in charge of the guy who is in charge of tax law compliance.  In hindsight that was stupid.  He is a buffoon and we should have known.  Doesn't know Treasury, doesn't know tax law and doesn't know or care about the constitution. (
Good luck to you - it's fun having our own internet troll.
5655  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of the left on: July 17, 2012, 08:13:50 PM
A mistake? Can you STILL not grasp the errors was not SINGULAR??!??!??!
5656  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: July 17, 2012, 07:52:30 PM
Double standard etc, yes.  I jumped categories (cog diss of the left) to refresh memories.  Yes, how many Dem votes would a Republican tax cheat get on the committee? 

JDN, He didn't think he had to pay Social Security and Medicare taxes for several years (source WSJ) because ...................................... .

a) diplomatic immunity
b) he gave at the office
c) dog ate his homework
d) by taxing the rich, I meant the other guy
e) hey, look at that shiny object - over THERE!!

Besides re-filing 6 other years when he found out he was entering new scrutiny...  Employing domestics formerly known as illegals, etc.

He made "a" mistake.

For Romney, all they want is more clarity on the "filthy" part of rich.

Meanwhile, more have gone on food stamps and disability under Obama than have found new jobs, and the blind enablers keep looking every time he says hey, shiny object.

5657  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cognitive Dissonance of the left: Geithner, He made a mistake, lol. on: July 17, 2012, 07:38:48 PM
Yeah, he made a mistake (depends on what the word 'a' means) and it was a DOOZY.  Keep in mind, the Treasury Secretary is the cabinet official responsible for the IRS.  Having Geithner in that position would be like having Eric Holder at DOJ oversee the ATF.  Oh, never mind, I forgot about the double standard.
Geithner's Tax History Muddles Confirmation
Timothy Geithner didn't pay Social Security and Medicare taxes for several years
(Imagine the uproar if they find that on Romney; a leftist wet dream!)
Timothy Geithner's Tax Problems
Monday, January 19, 2009
At a time when the nation needs a reliable, respected voice on financial issues at the Treasury Department, is an admitted tax cheat the best we can do [front page, Jan. 14]
Geithner's Tax Troubles Are Serious
Brian Wingfield, 01.13.09, 07:22 PM EST
The issues surrounding Obama's choice for Treasury secretary may be worse than Democrats are letting on.     

WASHINGTON, D.C.--Timothy Geithner has just run into a potentially serious obstacle on the road to his confirmation as Barack Obama's Treasury secretary.

Tuesday, the Senate Finance Committee made public concerns about Geithner's tax obligations, which resulted in his recent payment of $42,702 in additional taxes and interest for tax years 2001 to 2004. In addition, the committee's report on the matter says that in 2005 Geithner employed a housekeeper for about three and a half months after her ability to work in the U.S. had lapsed. (Maybe we can let the states handle immigration enforcement.)

Speaking to reporters Tuesday, Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., described Geithner's errors as "serious," but he said they were "honest mistakes" that "do not rise to the level of disqualification." Baucus also said Geithner corrected the problems as soon as he learned of them. The Montana Democrat wants to have a confirmation hearing on Friday because he says it's important to have a Treasury secretary on "day one." Obama's inauguration takes place Jan. 20.

But Geithner's tax troubles are more worrisome for his confirmation than Baucus lets on--and not just because the Internal Revenue Service is part of the Treasury Department.

According to the Senate committee's report, Geithner "recently filed amended tax returns" for each tax year from 2001 through 2006. (3 strikes and you're out??  I guess not.) However, the report doesn't specify when these returns were filed, leaving open the question about how long Geithner knew about the improprieties before he fixed them.

On Dec. 5, Obama's transition team told Finance Committee staff that Geithner hadn't paid social security or self-employment taxes on income received from the International Monetary Fund from 2001 to 2004, the report says. Three years ago, the IRS audited Geithner for tax years 2003 and 2004, which resulted in him paying back taxes and interest--but no penalties--totaling $16,732.  (I guess he didn't make a mistake.  More like a series of mistakes, all in his favor.)

However, Geithner voluntarily amended his 2001 and 2002 returns only after Obama expressed interest in nominating him to the Treasury post. The total bill this time: $25,970.

Income taxes for U.S. citizens who work for the IMF can be tricky. The IMF doesn't withhold an employee's share of social security taxes, and all of the organization's employees are responsible for meeting their own tax obligations. The IMF gives its employees--Geithner included--direction on how to pay self-employment taxes. And Geithner, a former Treasury official who is now president of the New York Fed, has dealt with complicated tax issues before, the report notes.

Was Geithner previously aware of irregularities on his 2001 and 2002? Did he only correct them when it became evident that a congressional committee would likely scrub his tax records in anticipation of confirmation hearings? The report doesn't say. Officials from Obama's transition team were not immediately available to comment.

But there's another concern, related to three people who have worked for him as household help since 2004. "He did not obtain the required Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, from these persons at the time they were hired to verify their legal work status," the Finance Committee's report says.

Nonetheless, Geithner was apparently aware of their legal status--someone entered into an address book owned by the Geithners, the report says. The Geithners apparently made a record that one employee's legal work status expired in July 2005, though she "did not renew her legal work status and the Geithners did not follow up with the employee to confirm whether she had done so." The person remained on the family's payroll until October 2005.

For now at least, Obama is standing by Geithner...  Obama has pledged to make addressing the economic crisis his top priority. The timing for this couldn't be worse.
Forbes Jan 13, 2009

5658  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cognitive Dissonance His Glibness: 20 reasons it's great to be Barack Obama on: July 17, 2012, 12:15:59 PM
1) It's all the golf you can play and as many free vacations as you want. The teleprompter tells you what to say to the crowd and if anybody makes a joke about you, someone calls him a racist!

2) You get a Nobel Peace Prize just for showing up.

3) No matter how much worse black Americans do under you than George W. Bush, Kanye West is never going to say, "Barack Obama doesn't care about black people."

4) You can eat a dog and PETA will still love you.

5) No one seems to find it odd that you simultaneously repeat Harry Truman's famous line, "The buck stops here" -- as you blame George Bush, Republicans in Congress, greedy corporations, the European economy, and even ATM machines for your many, many failures.

6) The Occupy Movement still loves you despite the fact that you've shoveled billions of dollars in taxpayer dollars to Wall Street firms via bailouts and loan programs.

7) You can have a net worth of 11 million dollars, go on multiple 6 figure vacations per year, and hobnob with the wealthiest Americans at swanky 40k a plate fundraisers; yet no one bats an eye when you criticize Mitt Romney for being rich.

8 ) The press doesn't incessantly repeat the body count in Afghanistan in every article about the war, like it did when George Bush was in Iraq.

9) You get to keep Gitmo open, sign on to the Patriot Act, fight in Afghanistan and kill terrorists with drone attacks while leftists complain that you haven't tried to go after Bush for committing "war crimes" because he did the same things.

10) The mainstream press judges you not on what you've done, but on whatever you happen to be saying right this moment, even if it's different from what you were saying yesterday.

11) After creating jobs overseas with stimulus money, you can criticize Mitt Romney for having a Swiss bank account without being laughed at despite the fact you're holding fundraisers in Switzerland, Sweden, Paris and China.

12) The same press that was utterly uninterested in your background when you ran for office in 2008 considers Mitt Romney's religion, what date he left Bain Capital, and how hard his wife worked when she was taking care of their kids much more important than anything you did over the last 3 1/2 years as President.

13) You can simultaneously block the keystone pipeline and ANWR while you hold up offshore drilling in the Gulf and demonize oil companies, yet claim with a straight face that you're trying to reduce gas prices.

14) Despite the fact that you're conducting war across the globe and have never served in the military, nobody calls you a chickenhawk.

15) Even though your administration helped kill 300 people with guns, including an American citizen, gun control advocates have zero interest in getting to the bottom of it.

16) You have the single most important job on earth and yet, most people seem to be thrilled that you're spending more time campaigning for reelection than you do working.

17) The mainstream media is much more concerned with the possible racism or bad motives of anyone questioning you than it is with whether your policies actually work.

18) No matter how much of an utter failure you are, most black Americans feel compelled to pretend you're not a disaster because they're afraid everyone will judge them by how incompetent you turned out to be.

19) You have a National Debt Charge Card with a limit of "Infinity" and you're not scared to use it.

20) Your biggest accomplishments so far after killing Osama Bin Laden are ending the manned space program, having the longest string of over 8% unemployment of any President since WWII, putting more Americans for food stamps than any other President in history, killing the work requirements in welfare, giving up on stopping illegal aliens, adding more debt in three and a half years than Bush did in eight, and decimating America's health care system with the least popular entitlement program in history. Yet, you still have a chance to be reelected. It doesn't get any better than that.
5659  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Political Economics: Productivity, innovation, capital and jobs,Andy Kessler WSJ on: July 17, 2012, 12:11:15 PM
The Incredible Bain Jobs Machine


Did Mitt Romney and Bain Capital help office-supply retailer Staples create 88,000 jobs? 43,000? 252? Actually, Staples probably destroyed 100,000 jobs while creating millions of new ones.

Since 1986, Staples has opened 2,000 stores, eliminating the jobs of distributors and brokers who charged nasty markups for paper and office supplies. But it enabled hundreds of thousands of small (and not so small) businesses to stock themselves cheaply and conveniently and expand their operations.

It's the same story elsewhere. Apple employs just 47,000 people, and Google under 25,000. Like Staples, they have destroyed many old jobs, like making paper maps and pink "While You Were Out" notepads. But by lowering the cost of doing business they've enabled innumerable entrepreneurs to start new businesses and employ hundreds of thousands, even millions, of workers world-wide—all while capital gets redeployed more effectively.

This process happens during every business cycle and always, always creates jobs. Yet is ignored by policy mavens.

It is now four years after the wheels fell off our financial system. The government has tried every gimmick to revive the economy: fiscal stimulus, monetary easing, loan write-downs, foreclosure modifications—all duds. It seems like no one remembers how an economy creates jobs anymore. The right answer, in fact the only answer, for jobs and better living standards, is productivity.

Economists define productivity as output per worker hour. But ramping up the output of trolleys or 8-track tapes won't increase living standards. It is not just technical efficiency that matters, it is also effectiveness—that is, producing what the economy really needs and consumers will pay for.

And so, in a broader sense, productivity is really about doing the right things the right way. Using modern construction equipment, we could build a pyramid on the National Mall in Washington with amazing efficiency, but it would not be effective.

So how does productivity result in more employment?

Three ways. First, some new technology comes along that allows something never before possible. Cash from an ATM, stock trading from an airplane's aisle seat, ads next to Google search results.

The inventor or entrepreneur who uses the invention benefits from sales and wealth and hires people to produce the good or service. We don't hear about this. Instead we hear about the layoffs of bank tellers, stockbrokers and media salesmen. So productivity becomes the boogeyman for job losses. And many economic cranks would prefer that we just hire back the tellers and toll collectors.

This is a big mistake because new, cheaper technology becomes a platform for others to create or expand businesses that never before made economic sense. Adobe software killed typesetters, but allowed millions cheaply to get into the publishing business. Millions of individuals and micro-size businesses now reach a national, not just local, retail market thanks to eBay. Amazon allows thousands upon thousands of new vendors to thrive and hire.

Consider Uber, a 20-month-old start-up, whose smartphone app knows where you are and with a simple click arranges a private car pickup to take you where you want. It doesn't exist without iPhones or Androids. Taxi and limousine dispatchers lose. Customers win. We'll all be surprised by new tablet applications being dreamed up in garages and basements everywhere.

The third way productivity results in more employment is by attracting capital to satisfy new consumer demands. In a competitive economy, productivity—doing more with less—always lowers the cost of products or services: $5,000 computers become $500 tablets. Consumers get to spend the difference elsewhere in the economy, and entrepreneurs will be happy to sell them what they want or create new things they never heard of, but will want. And those with capital will be eager to fund these entrepreneurs. Win, win.

The mechanism to decide the most effective use for this capital is profits. The stock market bundles profits and is the divining rod of productivity, allocating capital in cycle after cycle toward the economy's most productive companies and best-compensated jobs. And it does so better than any elite economist or politician picking pork-barrel projects and relabeling them as "investments."

The productive use of capital is not an automatic process, of course. It is all about constant experimentation. And it is never permanent: Railroads were once tremendously productive, so were steamships and even Kodachrome. It takes work, year in and year out—update, test, tweak, kill off. Staples is under fire from Amazon and other productive online retailers. Its stock has halved since its 2010 peak and is almost at a 10-year low. So be it.

With all the iPads and Facebook and cloud-computing growth, why is unemployment still 8.2% and job creation stalled? My theory is that productivity is always happening but swims upstream against those that fight it. Unions, regulations and a bizarre tax code that locks in the status quo.

In good times, no one notices. But in slow-growth economies, especially in the last 10 years, regulations and hiring rules and employer mandates and environmental anchors have had a cumulative dampening effect on productivity.

How can government do the right thing to help productivity and the employment it fosters? Get out of the way. Every government-mandated low-flow toilet, phosphorous-free dishwasher detergent, CFL light bulb, and carbon-emission regulation is another obstacle on the way to a productive, job-creating economy that produces things consumers really want. 
5660  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Energy Dept Unable to Locate $500,000 in Equipment Bought With Stimulus Money on: July 17, 2012, 12:02:50 PM
I'll put this under government programs, but really the category is information I would like disclosed more relevant than another year of tax returns from Mitt Romney.

Energy Dept. 'Unable to Locate' $500,000 in Equipment Bought With Stimulus Money
By Penny Starr
July 16, 2012
Department of Energy

( – An audit conducted by the Energy Department’s Office of Inspector General was "unable to locate" $500,000 worth of equipment purchased with stimulus money by a recipient of funds distributed through the deparment's “Advanced Batteries and Hybrid Components Program,” according to an audit report published by the OIG.

The DOE said it would not be "appropriate" to release the name of stimulus-money recipient where the $500,000 worth of equipment could not be located.

The program was given nearly $2 billion in stimulus funds "to support the construction of U.S. based battery and electric drive component
manufacturing plants...   More at the links:
5661  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: July 17, 2012, 11:53:45 AM
I'm sorry that as usual you missed my point and that the points you make are unresponsive to the questions I posed.  Another approach to an exchange would be to try to answer the questions posed and in doing so you might stumble into the point made.  Yes he will probably disclose more information.  The July 17 deadline is the shiny object.  It MUST be answered NOW because 3 more people are clamoring for it.  You already called his wealth filthy and in pure moderate partisanship you posted no objection I know of to the sitting Treasury Secretary's tax evasion.  Nothing in Romney's background indicates anything other than squeaky clean and he already disclosed that he was successful and paid all the taxes that he owes.  But still we need shiny objects.  Who would want to face ISSUES?

Romney's income is interesting because he was in business you say?  Well, Obama's academics are interesting because he was in academics.  One sided clamoring won't get that information out - ever.  In spite of you repeatedly repeatedly repeatedly saying otherwise, that is relevant.

They keep the storyline going that Barack Obama is smarter than all of us, yet serving in his current position, he is stuck on stupid, reduced to looking for shiny objects from his competitor.  He hasn't even told us what involvement he had in Fast and Furious that would require an executive privilege assertion to take the scandal IN HIS ADMINISTRATION past the election.  Why hasn't he fired his attorney general yet for not prosecuting his own contempt of congress citation and where is THAT clamoring?  The Sound of Silence: Hello Darkness my old friend...

Meanwhile, we must know, where does Mitt Romney bank anyway?
5662  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential - Look at this shiny object, over HERE! on: July 17, 2012, 10:57:07 AM
"your private life becomes public"

No. Candidates pick and choose what they make public and what they don't, including FAST AND FURIOUS documents, don't they?  Why won't you post all your tax returns, what do you have to hide?

"Romney should release his returns."

He did and he will.  That's not enough.  What number of them is enough, exactly?  What number is required to run for public office?  

My understanding, please correct me if I'm wrong, is that you have to release your tax returns on a timely basis - to the IRS, and that's it.

When exactly did candidate Barack Obama release any information he didn't want to because of the clamoring?  And I don't mean 1040EZ tax returns for a guy who never ran a business.

If Romney releases all tax returns back to age 16, how will that change President Obama's job killing record?
5663  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: July 17, 2012, 10:01:47 AM
I would like to see JDN's tax returns posted here.  I know you're not running for President and not required to do so, but I would like to see them posted anyway.
5664  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cherokee Drumbeat continues against Elizabeth Warren: Stepping Stones on: July 16, 2012, 08:05:01 PM
In this case some beautiful flute music accompanies the Cherokee message to Warren:
5665  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Pathological Science: A Tornado of Misinformation on: July 16, 2012, 07:55:07 PM
John Hinderaker of Powerline covering for BBG on Pathological Sdcience: 

A Tornado of Misinformation

No matter the season, weather is highly variable. So global warming alarmists never miss an opportunity to turn the latest bad weather into an argument for taxing carbon, or whatever. When tornadoes struck this spring, the alarmists and their minions in the press were quick to blame global warming. Just a few examples:

Think Progress: “Poisoned Weather: Global Warming Helped Fuel Killer Tornadoes.”

CNN: “That’s climate change we are seeing.” “[T]ornado season doesn’t usually begin until April, leading climate scientists to link the warmer weather to earlier (and potentially longer) seasons.”

NBC News: “ANNE THOMPSON: Extreme weather blew March 2012 into the record books. It saw almost three times the average number of reported tornadoes. NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, says our the unusually warm weather created conditions favorable for twisters. And while there’s no one culprit to blame for the rising thermometer, there is a prime suspect.

TOM KARL [NOAA]: Right now, we have a climate on steroids. What we mean by that is green house gases continue to increase in the atmosphere.”

And there was even more alarmism about global warming and tornadoes last year. So, what are the facts? If someone is going to argue that atmospheric CO2 is causing an extraordinary number of tornadoes, the prerequisite is an extraordinary number of tornadoes. Unfortunately for the alarmists, there is no evidence that tornadoes are increasing in the U.S. or anywhere else. Paul Homewood at Watts Up With That has the data. This chart shows “strong to violent tornadoes” as classified by NOAA from 1950 to the present. As is immediately obvious, there is no upward trend, although 2011 happened to have a lot of major tornadoes:

How about 2012? Is there any evidence of an unusual number of tornadoes this year? No. In fact, 2012 is, so far, a below average year for tornadoes:

It would be bad enough if the alarmists merely capitalized on random increases in bad weather phenomena to support their case. But the fact that the alarmists try to blame global warming in years that are actually below average in adverse weather events illustrates why they have no credibility with the American people.
5666  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Jennifer Rubin, Washington Post on why Obama is in panic mode in July on: July 16, 2012, 07:40:21 PM
July panic for Obama — for good reason
By Jennifer Rubin

Why has the Obama team been publicly wailing about losing out to Mitt Romney in the money race? Why would the president accuse his opponent of not merely being wrong or unqualified but criminal? After all, the polls are tied, so why so much worry in Obamaland?

Like a mystery novel, the answer is in front of our noses: The candidates are still tied in the polls. Let’s go step by step with the most logical explanation of the Obama campaign’s conduct.

The Obama team knew months ago that the economy would not sufficiently improve before Election Day to justify his reelection. Its polling showed simply blaming President George W. Bush wouldn’t be sufficient. The president and his political hacks concluded that it was too late and too risky to adopt a whole new second-term agenda. (It would risk offending either the base or centrists and reveal his first-term agenda to have been entirely inadequate.) So what to do?

Extend the Republican primary by running ads hitting Romney and encouraging Democrats to vote against Romney in Michigan and elsewhere. Then, before Romney could fully get his bearings, unload a barrage of negative attacks, scare mongering and thinly disguised oppo attacks through the mainstream media, taking advantage of many political reporters’ relative ignorance about the private equity field and their inclination to accept whole-hog President Obama’s version of “facts.”

The extent of that effort is only now becoming clear. The Associated Press reports: “President Barack Obama’s campaign has spent nearly $100 million on television commercials in selected battleground states so far, unleashing a sustained early barrage designed to create lasting, negative impressions of Republican Mitt Romney before he and his allies ramp up for the fall.” Think of it like the Confederacy’s artillery barrage on the third day of Gettysburg before Pickett’s charge — you have to in essence disable the other side before the charge begins or its curtains.

Virtually all of the ads were viciously negative, and judging from the number of Pinocchios they’ve racked up, continually and materially false.

But it didn’t work. Romney and Obama are still deadlocked. (The AP quoted Republican operative Carl Forti: “I don’t think . . . [Obama’s] got a choice. He has to try to change the dynamic now, but the polling indicates it’s not working. He doesn’t appear to be making any headway in the polls.”)

Few Democratic pundits are as sharp or as honest as William Galston, who concedes:

    On the one hand, the last round of Bain attacks has clearly rattled the Romney campaign, and a smattering of survey evidence suggests that the sustained ad campaign in swing states has scored some points. On the other hand, the Pew survey found no shift since May in swing-state voter preference.

    But it’s not too early to say that Obama’s vital signs look dicey. Over the past 33 months, his job approval has been lower than George W. Bush’s at a comparable time in his presidency for all but one week. Bush averaged above 50 percent in the quarter before his successful reelection campaign, while Obama has been stuck in the 46-48 percent range for months. And the famous “wrong track” measure now stands at 63 percent, versus 55 percent in the days preceding the vote in 2004. If these two numbers don’t improve for Obama, his presidency will be in jeopardy. And they probably won’t — unless the economy perks up noticeably.

So the Obama team has shot its wad. Its opponent has more ammo and more money now. Romney hasn’t been mortally wounded. And there isn’t money from Obama to keep up the 4-to-1 spending barrage. In fact without it, Obama might well have fallen behind in the race. So the Obama team pleads for money and turns up the volume of the attacks. (After calling Romney a criminal in July, what’s left for September and October?)

Obama is now committed to a strategy that isn’t working. He’s left to unleash his attack dogs and to pray for a miracle. Maybe the economy will rebound. Perhaps Romney will implode or pick a Sarah-Palin-type for vice president.

The reason, you see, that Obama’s camp has become so frantic in July is that its ineffectiveness in the summer subjects its side to grave risks. Having to defend his record, rely on his debate prowess and be evaluated on the economy over the last three years is as risky as, well, as sending thousands across a vast, empty field as enemy fire rains down upon them.
5667  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / John Taylor continued, Monetary Policy and the Next Crisis on: July 16, 2012, 07:21:50 PM
July 5, 2012 | Wall Street Journal
news » hoover daily report  Hoover Institution Stanford University
. . . ideas defining a free society

Monetary Policy and the Next Crisis
by John B. Taylor (George P. Shultz Senior Fellow in Economics; Chair, Working Group on Economic Policy; and member of the Task Force on Energy Policy)

At its annual meeting of the world's central bankers in Switzerland last week, the Bank for International Settlements—the central bank of central banks—warned about the harmful "side effects" of current monetary policies "in the major advanced economies" where "policy rates remain very low and central bank balance sheets continue to expand." These policies "have been fueling credit and asset price booms in some emerging economies," the BIS reported, noting the "significant negative repercussions" unwinding these booms will have on advanced economies.

The BIS emphasizes the view that international capital flows stirred up by monetary policy were a primary factor leading to the preceding crisis and that these flows would lead to the next one. This is in stark contrast to the "global saving glut" hypothesis—which says that the funds pouring into the U.S. in the previous decade originated largely from the surplus of exports over imports in emerging market economies.

The BIS should be taken seriously. It warned long in advance about the monetary excesses that led to the financial crisis of 2008.

The capital-flow story starts during extended periods of low interest rates, as in the U.S. Federal Reserve's low rates from 2003 to 2005 and its current near-zero interest rate policy, which began in 2008 and is expected to last to 2014. These low interest rates cause investors to search elsewhere for yield, and they buy foreign securities—corporate as well as sovereign—for that reason. Global bond funds in the U.S. thus shift their portfolios to these higher-yielding foreign securities and investors move to funds that specialize in such securities.

Low U.S. interest rates also encourage foreign firms to borrow in dollars rather than in local currency. U.S. branch offices of foreign banks play a key part in this process: As of 2009, U.S. branches of over 150 foreign banks had raised $645 billion to make loans in their home countries, making special use of U.S. money-market funds, where about one half of these funds' assets are liabilities of foreign banks.

This increased flow of funds abroad—whether through direct securities purchases or through bank lending—puts upward pressure on the exchange rate in these countries, as the foreign firms sell their borrowed dollars and buy local currency to expand their operations and pay workers. That's when foreign central banks enter the story. Concerned about the negative impact of the appreciating currency on their country's exports or with the risky dollar borrowing of their firms, they respond in several ways.

First, they impose restrictions on their firms' overseas borrowing or on foreigners investing in their country. But the differences in yield provide strong incentives for market participants to circumvent the restrictions.

Second, central banks buy dollar assets, including mortgage-backed securities and U.S. Treasurys, to keep the value of their local currency from rising too much as against the dollar. One consequence of these purchases is a foreign government-induced bubble in U.S. securities markets, as we saw in mortgage markets leading up to the recent crisis, and as we may now be seeing in U.S. Treasurys.

The flow of loans from the U.S. to foreign borrowers is effectively matched by a flow of funds by central banks back into the U.S. There is no change in the current account, and no role for the so-called savings glut.

Third, in order to discourage the inflow of funds seeking higher yields—which would drive up the exchange rate of their own currency—foreign central banks hold their interest rates lower than would be appropriate for domestic economic stability. There is much statistical evidence for this policy response, and, when you roam the halls of the BIS and talk to central bankers, as I did last week, you get even more convincing anecdotal evidence. Call it the lemming effect: Central banks tend to follow each other's interest rates down.

This is what happened in the lead up to the 2008 financial crisis, and it has helped fuel Europe's current debt crisis. In the 2003-2005 period, low interest rates led to a flow of funds into U.S. mortgage markets as foreign central banks bought dollars, aggravating the housing boom and the subsequent bust.

Moreover, the European Central Bank's interest rate moves during 2003-2005 were influenced by the Fed's low rates. By my estimates, the interest rate set by the ECB was as much as two percentage points too low, which also had the effect of spurring housing booms in Greece, Ireland and Spain. Ironically, the European debt crisis, which originated in the booms and busts in Greece, Ireland and Spain, now has come around to threaten the U.S. economy.

The Fed's current near-zero interest rate policy, designed to stimulate the U.S. economy, has made it harder for other central banks to combat credit and asset price booms. A group of 18 emerging market central banks—including Brazil, China, India, Mexico and Turkey—held their interest rates on average as much as five percentage points below widely used policy benchmarks—and global commodity prices doubled from 2009 to 2011, a boom rivaling the excesses leading up to the 2008 financial crisis. This global, loose monetary policy was likely a big factor pushing up commodity prices. The current sharp slowdown in most emerging markets coincides with an inevitable bust of this easy-money induced boom, and the decline of foreign demand for American goods is now feeding back to the U.S. economy.

The Fed needs to pay closer attention to global capital flows and the reactions of other central banks to its decision to set interest rates very low for long periods of time. This does not mean taking one's eye off the U.S. economy, but rather preventing booms and busts abroad from slowing growth at home precisely when we need it most.

Mr. Taylor, a professor of economics at Stanford University and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, is the author of "First Principles: Five Keys to Restoring America's Prosperity (Norton, 2012).
5668  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The United Nations/ US Sovereignty/International Law on: July 16, 2012, 07:16:34 PM
Headline writers are funny.  Republicans don't threaten the treaty, they oppose it - in numbers great enough to stop it.

"...anti-treaty advocates..."   a.k.a. pro-sovereignty advocates.

"Treaty opponents claim ratification would effectively tie the hands of the U.S. Navy to conduct operations worldwide, because those missions would have to be reviewed and approved by treaty members."    - Is that a claim or a fact?
5669  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Economics - Road to Recovery by John B. Taylor, What would Hayek do? on: July 16, 2012, 07:08:30 PM
Read, learn, discuss and vote, please!   smiley

City Journal Summer 2012.
Table of Contents
A quarterly magazine of urban affairs, published by the Manhattan Institute.

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
Praise for City Journal.
John B. Taylor
The Road to Recovery
As Hayek taught, freedom and the rule of law drive prosperity.
Friedrich Hayek, second from left, at the London School of Economics in 1948
Paul Popper/Popperfoto/Getty Images
Friedrich Hayek, second from left, at the London School of Economics in 1948

Burdened by slow growth and high unemployment—especially long-term unemployment—the American economy faces an uncertain future. We have endured a painful financial crisis and recession, the recovery from which has been nearly nonexistent. Federal debt is exploding and threatening our children and grandchildren. In my view, the reason for this predicament is clear: we have deviated from the principles of economic freedom upon which America was founded.

Few thinkers of the past century understood the importance of economic freedom better than the Austrian economist Friedrich Hayek did. As we confront our current situation, Hayek’s work has much to tell us, especially about policy rules, the rule of law, and the importance of predictability—topics that he discussed in his classic The Road to Serfdom (1944) and in greater detail in The Constitution of Liberty (1960). But his work in these areas goes beyond economics into fundamental issues of freedom and the role of government. That’s why reading Hayek is more important than ever.

As Hayek would insist, we need to be careful about what we mean by economic freedom. The basic idea is that people are free to decide what to produce, what to buy, where to work, and how to help others. The American vision, as I explain in my book First Principles, held that people would make these choices within a policy framework that was predictable and based on the rule of law, with strong incentives emanating from a reliance on markets and a limited role for government. Historically, America adhered to these principles more than most countries did, a major reason why the nation prospered and so many people came to these shores.

But we haven’t always followed the principles consistently. Leading up to the Great Depression, the Federal Reserve cut money growth sharply, deviating from a predictable policy framework. The federal government then worsened the Depression by raising tax rates and tariffs and by passing the National Industrial Recovery Act, which overrode market principles and went well beyond sensible limits on government. From the mid-1960s through the 1970s, federal policy again deviated from the principles of economic freedom: the era saw unpredictable short-term stimulus packages, discretionary “go-stop” monetary policies, and wage and price controls—the antithesis of an incentive-based market system. The results: double-digit unemployment, a severe slowdown in economic growth, and the Great Inflation. Well before that time, Hayek had rightly lamented such short-term approaches: “I cannot help regarding the increasing concentration on short-run effects . . . not only as a serious and dangerous intellectual error, but as a betrayal of the main duty of the economist and a grave menace to our civilization.”

In the 1980s and 1990s, America moved back toward its first principles, a restoration that lasted until recently. Temporary stimulus programs were out; permanent tax reform was in. Steady-as-you-go monetary policy replaced go-stop monetary policy. We removed the last vestiges of price controls and reduced inappropriate regulations. The major federal welfare program devolved to the states. The results this time: declining unemployment, lower inflation, and eventually a revival of economic growth.

Now we have tragically gone off the path again. Leading up to the latest downturn, the Federal Reserve held interest rates too low for too long, deviating from the rules-based monetary policy that had worked so well in the 1980s and 1990s. Government regulators failed to enforce existing rules on banks and other financial institutions, including Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The resulting crisis prompted the Wall Street bailouts, which soon extended beyond their original mission. The auto-company bailouts resulted in arbitrary infringements on creditors’ rights and interventions into business operations. Then came the return of the failed stimulus packages of the 1970s, the Fed’s quantitative easing, and the regulatory uncertainty associated with the 2010 health-care legislation and the Dodd-Frank financial-reform law—which gives government the discretionary authority to take over any failing financial firm and rescue its creditors.

One sign of the increase in policy uncertainty is that over the past 12 years, the number of provisions of the tax code expiring annually has increased tenfold. Another is that the number of federal workers engaged in regulatory activities (excluding those in the Transportation Security Administration) has grown by 25 percent from 2007 to 2012. Most emblematic of the deviation from our basic principles is the self-inflicted fiscal cliff that we face at the end of this year, when virtually the entire tax code will change. And the Fed has effectively replaced the money market with itself, setting a zero-percent interest-rate policy through 2014.

Government policy has largely caused these problems. It follows that we can restore prosperity by changing the policy and implementing a plan based on our core economic principles. We should reduce federal spending, as a share of GDP, to what it was in 2007, which would let us balance the budget and stop the debt explosion with revenue-neutral, pro-growth tax reform. We should unwind our monetary excesses and normalize monetary policy, using a rules-based system of the kind that worked well in the 1980s and 1990s. We should halt the rapid expansion of the entitlement state, keeping entitlement spending growth close to GDP growth and doing it in a way that gives decision-making responsibility to people and states, rather than to the federal government. And we should replace most of Dodd-Frank with bankruptcy reform and simpler regulations, with the goal of ending government bailouts.

In implementing this new economic strategy, policymakers should be guided by Hayek, especially by his emphasis on the rule of law and the predictability of policy. As he wrote in The Road to Serfdom, “Nothing distinguishes more clearly conditions in a free country from those in a country under arbitrary government than the observance in the former of the great principles known as the Rule of Law. Stripped of all technicalities, this means that government in all its actions is bound by rules fixed and announced beforehand—rules which make it possible to foresee with fair certainty how the authority will use its coercive powers in given circumstances and to plan one’s individual affairs on the basis of this knowledge.”

Rules-based policies produce more stable economies and stronger economic growth. When people make decisions, they look to the future. Prices that convey information and provide incentives reflect the future. So good decisions as well as the prices that guide them depend on the predictability of future policy—and thus on clear policy rules.

But Hayek emphasized that rules for government policy do something more. The rule of law protects freedom, as the title of Hayek’s The Constitution of Liberty suggests. Hayek traced this idea through the ages—first to Aristotle, then to Cicero, about whom Hayek wrote: “No other author shows more clearly . . . that freedom is dependent upon certain attributes of the law, its generality and certainty, and the restrictions it places on the discretion of authority.” Hayek also cited John Locke, who wrote that the purpose of the law was “not to abolish or restrain, but to preserve and enlarge freedom. . . . Where there is no law, there is no freedom.” Finally, Hayek pointed to James Madison and other American statesmen who put these ideas into practice in a new nation. These thinkers distrusted government officials as protectors of freedom; the rule of law, they believed, was more reliable.

So rules have a dual purpose: encouraging economic growth and protecting freedom. The best way to understand the two advantages of rules is to examine what happens in their absence, as in the case of wage and price controls. Such controls are arbitrary: they require decisions by people at the top about virtually every price and wage; they distort economic signals and incentives; they create shortages and surpluses. These effects occur whether the price controls are imposed on the whole economy or on a particular sector, such as health care.

Many wonder how a system of rules can work in practice, with politicians and government officials continually pressured to “do something” about economic problems. Rules mean that you do nothing, say the skeptics, and that’s impossible in today’s charged political climate and hour-to-hour, even minute-to-minute, news cycle. My colleague George Shultz calls the problem “the urge to intervene.”

Hayek had an answer to that challenge. In The Road to Serfdom, he pointed out the need to clear up a “confusion about the nature of this system” of formal rules: “the belief that its characteristic attitude is inaction of the state.” Offering one example of a rules-based system, he noted that “the state controlling weights and measures (or preventing fraud or deception in any other way) is certainly acting.” By contrast, a system in which the rule of law was flouted wasn’t necessarily characterized by action: “The state permitting the use of violence, for example, by strike pickets, is inactive.” Similarly, simple rules for monetary policy don’t mean that the central bank, in response to events, takes no action at all with interest rates or the money supply. The bank might provide loans in the case of a bank run, for instance. But these actions can be taken in a predictable manner. For that matter, deviation from the rules sometimes results in inaction. A decision by government regulators not to act when financial institutions take on unreasonable risks, for example, constitutes both inaction and a violation of the rule of law.

Some argue that crises like the present one force policymakers to deviate from rules and the rule of law. But a crisis may be the worst time to do so. In a crisis, what is vital is increased strategic clarity, not increased unpredictability. That fact became clear following the first bailout of the recent crisis, the Bear Stearns intervention: few knew what to expect the next time a financial institution wanted help, since no strategy had been articulated. The crisis worsened. The sooner people can make decisions with knowledge of the rules, the sooner recovery will come about.

To get America back on track, we must choose leaders who believe in the principles of economic freedom and will implement them. But here, Hayek issued a warning. In a chapter in The Road to Serfdom called “Why the Worst Get on Top,” he suggested that people with the ambition to become leaders, either by election or by appointment, are often interventionists, since their tendency is to do whatever it takes to succeed. Further, those who benefit directly from discretionary government interventions naturally support such officials. Industries and firms that benefit from bailouts will favor officials comfortable with bailouts, for example, and even academic research on economic policy will become biased toward interventionism. Perhaps the answer to Hayek’s warning is to elect or appoint people regarded as overly committed to the principles of economic freedom. Then, after experiencing the heavy pressure pushing them toward intervention, they may emerge with a sensible balance. In the 1980s, Ronald Reagan took this tack, appointing many Ph.D.s from the University of Chicago’s free-market school of economics to positions of leadership.

John Maynard Keynes took a different view. In a famous letter to Hayek about The Road to Serfdom, Keynes expressed his preference for more interventionist appointees—but he wanted only those whom he viewed as beneficent interventionists. “What we want is not no planning, or even less planning, indeed I should say we almost certainly want more,” Keynes wrote. “But the planning should take place in a community in which as many people as possible, both leaders and followers, wholly share your own moral position.” Milton Friedman later cited this letter to illustrate Keynesianism’s defining characteristic: its focus on discretionary interventions taken by people in powerful government positions.

Even those who support the principles of economic freedom can sometimes get off track. One might argue that such deviations were needed in the fall of 2008; perhaps the actions taken then prevented a more serious panic. But that’s no reason to embrace the discretionary policies that led to the mess in the first place. Such an argument is like saying that the person who set fire to a house should be exonerated because he then put out the fire and saved a few rooms.

Is today’s departure from economic freedom any less serious than the assault on freedom that Hayek wrote about in The Road to Serfdom? Am I exaggerating when I say that the future of American prosperity—or even global prosperity—is at stake?

While central planning may not be the right term for it, consider the 2010 health-care law, which gave the federal government the power to mandate the terms of everyone’s health-insurance package and which created an Independent Payment Advisory Board to determine the price, quantity, and quality of the medical services—from number of MRIs to the necessary accuracy of CT scans—that a medical professional provides. Is that so different from the way centrally planned economies determine the price, quantity, and quality of livestock, wheat, or steel that can be produced? Or consider monetary policy. A few years ago, I coined the term “mondustrial policy” to describe the Fed’s practice of quantitative easing, which combined industrial policy (discretionary assistance to certain firms and industries) with monetary policy (printing money to finance that assistance). Since then, the Fed has purchased $1.25 trillion of mortgage-backed securities. In fiscal year 2011, it purchased 77 percent of the newly issued federal debt, long after panic conditions had subsided.

Hayek argued that inflationary monetary policy undermines economic freedom, in part because it hits the elderly and the poor particularly hard, rationalizing more discretionary interventions. Though the inflation problem is less severe now than in the 1970s—at least so far—the impact of the Fed’s multiyear, zero-percent interest-rate policy resembles that of the Great Inflation era: it significantly cuts real incomes for those who have saved over a lifetime for retirement.

By moving away from the basic principles of economic freedom, government policy has caused our recent economic malaise. It should be no consolation that some of our friends in Europe are facing worse economic struggles, often because they moved even further away from those principles. The good news is that a change in government policy will alleviate the problems and help restore economic prosperity. Understanding Hayek’s work, written during similar circumstances, will help us greatly as we undertake that difficult task.

John B. Taylor is the Mary and Robert Raymond Professor of Economics at Stanford University and the George P. Shultz Senior Fellow in Economics at the Hoover Institution. His article is adapted from the 2012 Friedrich Hayek Lecture, which he delivered on winning the Manhattan Institute’s Hayek Prize.
5670  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government programs & regulations, spending, deficit, and budget process on: July 16, 2012, 05:02:12 PM
"even Herman Cain who wrote the partisan piece..."

Democrat Obama is dismantling previous Dem Pres. Clinton's signature achievement - that Newt wrote and Bill with his zipper down took the credit.  Pointing that out is partisan?  Good grief.  Transfer payments are MOST of the federal budget.  We believe in states' rights and therefor are not entitled to comment on programs and requirements - that we are paying for??  Huh?  We lost that war FYI and we WILL comment!  Helpful might be if YOU put in YOUR post what YOU think about whether there should or should not be a federal work requirement in these pay to not work multi-trillion dollar federal programs that are destroying our country and our culture - instead of ad hominem on the others.

"All it is is a test if you will, for each state to do as it sees fit on how to handle the situation of welfare to work programs.  Sounds reasonable to me."

I agree these all should be state programs, but IS it a state program or is it a federal program?  Let's give states choices on other federal programs too, like whether or not to collect the federal income taxes, estate taxes or to allow abortions in their state as well.  Sound reasonable?  Maybe we could structure it all so that the central government had just limited powers in the first place, lol.
5671  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The US Congress; Congressional races: Wisconsin Senate on: July 12, 2012, 09:37:34 AM
Very good coverage of the Wisconsin Senate race at the link, very interesting:

Dem retiring.  Dems picked a far left lesbian activist from the state's most liberal city.  R's have establishment candidate Tommy Thompson a 3 term Governor and former Health and Human Services Secretary plus 3 tea party types competing for an August primary win.

As with each close race, control of the Senate is presumed to be at stake.
5672  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: July 12, 2012, 09:25:28 AM
The Democrats answer to illegal border intrusions was to decimate the job situation in our economy.  Got to hand it to 'em, it worked.

Illegals entering down, crime rate down.  Hmmmm.
5673  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Economics on: July 12, 2012, 09:10:09 AM
EBay reputation tracking is a public market version of what Scott G posted for bond traders' reputations, keeping their word off a phone call and a hand written note.  I wouldn't argue for no regulation but I would guess that would be more effective than what we have now.
5674  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: July 12, 2012, 09:04:46 AM
The boat is marked Texas Highway Patrol.  Don't let the facts get you off message.

Arizona doesn't blame immigrants for their problems.  What a bunch of Bullshit to intentional confuse armed robbers with invited guests.  Hard to say what the crime problems would be without Eric Holder arming them.
5675  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Immigration issues: Texas "Highway Patrol" Gunboats Patrolling the Rio Grande on: July 12, 2012, 12:49:18 AM
How long until Obama/Holder shut this operation down?  (2 minute Houston television news, must see video)

"Now, to deal with the Federal failure to secure the river and the drug and human smugglers who use it, Texas Department of Public Safety  has deployed gunboats on the river, armed with major firepower. DPS now has 4 shallow-water vessels (soon to increase to 6), each armed with six M-240, 30-caliber automatic machine guns that fire 900 rounds per minute.

Each of the boats, equipped with armor-plating, night vision equipment and a small arsenal of weaponry, costs about $580,000."
5676  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: The Cognitive Dissonance of the left on: July 11, 2012, 05:39:39 PM
Always fun to see that famous people are picking up on the themes here in the forum.  Sometimes they credit us, sometimes they don't.

The Politics of Cognitive Dissonance
Why closed-mindedness is an imperative for the left.

By JAMES TARANTO  Editor of and member of The Wall Street Journal's editorial board

"Don't repeat conservative language or ideas, even when arguing against them."

That bit of advice, No. 1 on a list titled "The 10 Most Important Things Democrats Should Know," comes from the promotional material for "The Little Blue Book: The Essential Guide to Thinking and Talking Democratic" by George Lakoff and Elisabeth Wehling. (You may remember them from our June 12 column.) In a essay, the anonymous blogger whose pen name is Zombie draws out the implications:

    Many politicians, pundits and talking heads have taken Lakoff's recommendation to heart. This is why conservatives and liberals can't seem to have the simplest conversation: liberals intentionally refuse to address or even acknowledge what conservatives say. Since (as Lakoff notes) conservatives invariably frame their own statements within their own conservative "moral frames," every time a conservative speaks, his liberal opponent will seemingly ignore what was said and instead come back with a reply literally [sic] out of left field.

    Thus, he is the progenitor of and primary advocate for the main reason why liberalism fails to win the public debate: Because it never directly confronts, disproves or negates conservative notions--it simply ignores them. . . .

By intentionally refusing to challenge, disprove, understand or even acknowledge the existence of the other side's argument, you allow that argument to grow in strength and win converts.

This is an important insight, not only into the way the left debates and otherwise communicates, but into the way the left thinks--or fails to think. The book's subtitle, after all, promises an instruction in "Thinking and Talking Democratic." Lakoff and Wehling command their readers not only to act as if opposing arguments are without merit, but to close their minds to those arguments. What comes across to conservatives as a maddening arrogance is actually willed ignorance.

Such an attitude is the product of leftist intellectuals, not political professionals--and, as Zombie notes, the latter are foolish to follow it:

    Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the Chair of the Democratic National Committee, is an exemplary Lakoffite, relentlessly hammering home her own framing of each issue, and utterly ignoring the Republican frame, except on rare occasion to mock it. How effective is this? A quick survey of conservative sites shows that she is regarded as the Queen of Buffoons, a figure meriting gleeful derision and eliciting relief that the Democrats have selected the worst possible spokesperson. She certainly hasn't changed a single conservative mind, I can assure you. But has she converted "undecided" voters to the liberal cause?

    I posit that the answer is "No," and I'll explain why. . . . Lakoff has an authoritative "scientist" persona in addition to his partisan "activist" persona, but in order to lend gravitas to his arguments he must conflate the two and pretend to be an impartial scientist while in reality enunciating transparently partisan talking points. Yet people like Debbie Wasserman Schultz don't have that option, so that when she speaks, every single listener already knows that she is a partisan spewing partisan spin. She doesn't have an "authority hat" to put on which might give her statements the veneer of impartial truth.

This is one difference between an intellectual and a politician: When an intellectual haughtily dismisses opposing arguments, he does so in part by resting on his authority as an intellectual. This authority may give him a false sense of his own intellectual strength and that of his arguments.

Recall how lefty law professors thought mockery a sufficient response to the idea that Congress's Commerce Clause authority has limits. Lefty journalists and politicians joined in the mockery, made confident by the authoritative pronouncements of the scholars. The U.S. Supreme Court has now adopted a legal principle that elite law professors refused even to comprehend.

The other difference between an intellectual and a politician is that the latter's profession entails regular reality checks. If the Democrats do badly this fall, Barack Obama and the unwieldily named Wasserman Schultz will be understood to have failed. He will lose his job, and she will likely lose her prominence. Lakoff presumably has tenure, which shields him from reality. Barring a severe financial crisis in the higher education industry, he's set for life.
5677  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Romney on: July 11, 2012, 05:25:19 PM
"What is your 2008 point?"

The winner ran on a couple of phony autobiographies and a sixth of a term as a junior senator.  We can check the record but I don't recall you or any other supporter pushing for more documents.  What a joke.

What part of your voting decision will hinge on his private tax returns?  None of it is my guess.  The Swiss known for their banking, what's the point of exposing a bank account that isn't where you and I bank?  Nothing except to embarrass him to the small minded.  Newt said it so it is an okay criticism?  Newt said quite a bit that isn't very flattering to Obama too, lol. 

"the clamor for him to do so will be become louder and louder and LOUDER"

Yes, the won't be clamoring about JOB GROWTH this election season.  Just shiny objects, over there!

5678  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Obama Phenomena, This is going to be a one-term Proposition on: July 11, 2012, 04:07:27 PM
The President in his own words says that if he can't deliver results he will be held accountable.  "If I don't have this done in 3 years, this is going to be a one term proposition."
5679  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The United Nations, Morris: UN plot to tax US on: July 11, 2012, 04:00:40 PM
Just say NO!!

That is one beauty of this forum, a place to warn people about things like this!!

Doesn't the constitution require that bills to raise revenue MUST originate in the House?

Paraphrasing the President's favorite adviser Valerie: who cares about the constitution if you can just get the policy you want.
5680  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Romney on: July 11, 2012, 03:47:27 PM
There isn't any reason to think something is wrong with his tax returns.  We have a federal agency that already went over them.  What is wrong is that people who won't vote for him anyway would love to get all the PRIVATE information they can to make more criticisms of his success and achievement.  What were the names you called him and his wealth? Filthy??

And it's a little late to get the records that candidate Obama refused.  He flunked his behind the wheel test.

If you don't need to show a birth certificate to be President, you don't need to show a tax return.  The double standard is pathetic.  If full disclosure was some kind of requirement, what happened in 2008?
5681  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / How Do You Get in to Hear Eric Holder Say That Voter ID Laws are racist? on: July 11, 2012, 09:31:28 AM
How Do You Get Into the NAACP Convention to Hear Eric Holder Say That Voter ID Laws Are Racist?

Of course: you have to present a “government-issued photo I.D. (such as a driver’s license).” You can’t make this stuff up...
July 10, 2012 — John Hinderaker,
5682  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: July 11, 2012, 09:26:53 AM
In a related development, 'Meet The Press' Hits 20-Year Low

I believe that show, with all the potential to be the most informative an television, used to be on primetime.  

They don't even ask permission to treat every Republican as a hostile witness.
5683  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Race, religion, ethnic origin, LGBT, & "discrimination" on: July 11, 2012, 09:20:00 AM
This is a nice post by Bigdog:  "Congress doesn't tell people who they must employ. Congress tells employers who they can't exclude from employment based on characteristics that have nothing to do with merit."

I think it comes closer to describing how the laws ought to be (if congress was authorized that power in the constitution) than how they are.  Also it is the agencies, more so than congress, who write the devil into the details.
5684  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Economics on: July 11, 2012, 09:13:42 AM
Thanks Crafty for the original post and the Scott Grannis reply, I was hoping someone like that would answer it.  I have not followed LIBOR but with other crises and scandals of the past, the worst situations seem to arise out of the botched regulation/ partial deregulation combinations.  S&L's in the past completely had their hands tied down to interest rates defined to the quarter of a point, then they had more discretion but still with their hands tied for failure.  The more recent banking collapse is a similar example.  Insist on lending for criteria other than creditworthiness, pass laws that disrupt investment and asset markets then watch them collapse.  Not really puzzling.

"How has it been possible for banks to grow from less than 4 per cent of the global economy to more than 12 per cent of the global economy without impoverishing others? "

I don't think it is the impoverished that pay most banking fees, but prices and fees get exorbitant when government blocks competition with all the licensing and regulations, some necessary and appropriate and some not.  I try to pay no direct fees to banks, but if you are trying to take your company public or entering into mergers and acquisitions, paying a bank a reasonable fee for competent handling of those transactions and for access to liquidity may add quite a lot of value.  Maybe you choose or require the best, a Morgan Stanley or whoever is still out there.  But if their fees are outrageous, doesn't that open the door to competition, newer smaller firms who can do the same service for less.  The question really is - why is the door closed to aggressive price competition that all real markets experience?  And the answer to that for sure is the government regulations and compliance complexities that go with them.

As Grannis suggests, the fees and scope of it all is so expensive because the regulations are so multi-layered and complex that only a few elite firms are able to handle the most complex transactions.

Note how at the end, after all that detail and expertise, the greater regulations solution is left totally vague: "...then we need some new models and some new rules."

Isn't that exactly how we got Dodd-Frank?  We needed new rules because we needed new rules so here they are, more and more layers of complexity and so what of the consequences.

What I don't exactly get in banking today is the collusion between the Fed and the private banks.  They aren't lending money that other people saved anymore.  They are lending nothing but manufactured or printed money.  Good luck putting that toothpaste back in the tube.
5685  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: July 10, 2012, 05:34:22 PM
"...but there is correlation and causation, and for Sowell to seem to understand that is problematic."

Not sure if I followed you correctly and speaking for me not Sowell.  Changing the rules and moving the goal posts to save specific union Dem constituency jobs, that may well have come back redefined, coincided with a loss of about 2 million jobs generally in the economy.  If there is correlation/causation, it is that 'saving' those jobs from renegotiation coincided for sure and maybe caused net jobs lost.  The curve is clearly downward at that time, and those were the policies.

Sowell takes President Obama to task for job gain claims that are not net jobs and he also takes critics of Obama to task for jobs lost claims that are not net jobs numbers.  I think you underestimate Sowell to see him as partisan more than principled.  As one who has read his books that I HIGHLY RECOMMEND 'Basic Economics' and 'Applied Economics', I think he is using this rhetoric of the moment as a take off point to point out underlying principles he believes are crucial to successful operation of the economy.

I think it was me more than Sowell forcing the auto industry example.  It just seems like a perfect example of the difference in views.  Sure the government can always create or save particular jobs, but at the the expense of not having the kind of system where scarce resources like manufacturing capacity and labor allowed to move freely to their most productive use.  We can move goal posts around during a soccer game to favor certain shooters or certain shots at certain times, but then what is left of the game?  Cronyism, like most third world and ash heap economies.  Crafty is right on auto jobs IMO.  Preventing a needed reorganization is not the same as saving jobs.  United Airlines and others were still flying passengers in the days, months and years after their bankruptcies. 

If you prop up every dead tree in a forest does that maximize its vitality or spur robust new growth underneath?  I think not.

Sowell continued, regarding Obamacare: "the Obama administration has made businesses reluctant to hire because of the huge uncertainties it has created for businesses as regards the cost of adding employees."

This is without a doubt true and of no fault whatsoever of the Republican House who provided zero votes to this anti-employment legislation and already voted to repeal.

A good supporting piece to that I think is a post slightly up the page called:
"Why France Has So Many 49-Employee Companies"

You can force 50 person companies do this and do that, whether it is healthcare, family leave, daycare, layoff notices, minimum benefits, maximum hours, excess profits taxes, you name it, but you can't (yet) force people to form 50 person companies.

Those legislators and regulators are blind I think to the point of Feldstein in the Morris tax piece that people change their behavior to policy changes.  In that example it was to the tune of misjudging revenues by a factor of two thirds!

Obama's policies are job creation killing.  Why shouldn't he be singled out for a two million or so net loss of American jobs?  What are the policies that Republican kept President Obama from implementing during the Obamacare passage debacle?  Passing that massive tax increase during a recession was job one while he had the House and 60 Senators.  On the other side of the coin the Pelosi-Obama congress of '07-'08 most certainly neglected to force Fannie Mae and CRA reform and prevented the Bush administration from making temporary tax cuts permanent. 

Fairness over growth has brought us neither.
5686  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: July 10, 2012, 10:56:56 AM
BD: "It is a good thing 5,000 jobs were saved. Otherwise there would have been a net loss of 31,000 jobs."

I think you either missed or disagree with his point.

Sowell: "5,000 jobs were saved in the American steel industry, 26,000 jobs were lost in American industries that produced products made of steel."

His point is that these companies had to pay more than foreign competitors did for steel. Saving steel by making US manufacturers pay more for it a) puts them at a competitive disadvantage and b) gives them reason to move their own manufacturing out.  These job losses under Sowell's logic are not additive, they are offsetting.

Saving auto jobs by changing the rules of capitalism assumes that the resource shifts and the unpredictability that causes has no other effect, negative effect, on the other participants, investors, lenders, job creators for example.  The auto industry bailout began in Dec 2008.  Net jobs saved on this BLS employment chart during the period following the auto rescue do not look very impressive, of course it is never the case that all other factors are held constant.

Economic freedom with a fairly level, predictable playing field, more than auto manufacturing, made the American economy great. There is no reason we can't have both IMHO.

Looking forward to examples of where central governments picking winners and losers outperform economic freedom.
5687  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The US Congress; Congressional races on: July 10, 2012, 10:13:30 AM

I stand corrected!  That must be just urban myth in NE.  Of course I also got the name of the stadium wrong but to me Nebraska is just drive-through country, and a place where control of the Senate in 2013 and the Supreme Court for the next three decades might be determined.

My second try at that point:  Combine the stadium attendance with the Nebraska football television audience and see how those towns compare.  
5688  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics - Thomas Sowell, Jobs vs. Net Jobs on: July 10, 2012, 09:37:43 AM
More famous people reading the forum, Thomas Sowell helps me today to answer Bigdog's tough question posed recently: "You don't recognize the connection to building cars in the US and US jobs?"

Sowell: "Creating (saving in this case) particular jobs does not mean a net increase in jobs.

Jobs Versus Net Jobs

By Thomas Sowell - July 10, 2012
One of the reasons for the popularity of political rhetoric is that everybody can be right, in terms of their own rhetoric, no matter how much the rhetoric of one side contradicts the rhetoric of the other side.

President Obama constantly repeats how many millions of jobs have been created during his administration, while his critics constantly repeat how many millions of jobs have been lost during his administration. How can both of them be right -- or, at least, how can they both get away with what they are saying?

There are jobs and there are net jobs. This is true not only today but has been true in years past.

Back during the 1980s, when there were huge losses of jobs in the steel industry, the government restricted the importation of foreign steel. It has been estimated that this saved 5,000 jobs in the American steel industry.

But of course restriction of competition from lower-priced imported steel made steel more expensive to American producers of products containing steel. Therefore the price of these products rose, making them less in demand at these higher prices, causing losses of sales at home and in the world market.

The bottom line is that, while 5,000 jobs were saved in the American steel industry, 26,000 jobs were lost in American industries that produced products made of steel. On net balance, the country lost jobs by restricting the importation of steel.

None of this was peculiar to the steel industry. Restrictions on the importation of sugar are estimated to have cost three times as many jobs in the confection industry as they saved in the sugar industry. The artificially high price of sugar in the United States led some American producers of confections to relocate to Mexico and Canada, where the price of sugar is lower.

There is no free lunch in the job market, any more than there is anywhere else. The government can always create particular jobs or save particular jobs, but that does not mean that it is a net creation of jobs or a net saving of jobs.

The government can create a million jobs tomorrow, just by hiring that many people. But where does the government get the money to pay those people? From the private economy -- which loses the money that the government gains.

With less money in the private sector, the loss of jobs there can easily exceed the million jobs created in the government or in industries subsidized by the government. The Obama administration's creation of "green jobs" has turned out to cost far more money per job than the cost of creating a job in the private sector.

In addition to reducing jobs in the private sector by taking money out of the private sector to pay for government-subsidized jobs, the Obama administration has made businesses reluctant to hire because of the huge uncertainties it has created for businesses as regards the cost of adding employees. With thousands of regulations still being written to implement ObamaCare, no one knows how much this will add to the cost of hiring new employees.

In the face of this economic uncertainty, even businesses that have an increased demand for their products can meet that demand by working their existing employees overtime, instead of adding new employees. Many employers hire temporary workers, who are not legally entitled to benefits such as health insurance, and who will therefore not be affected by the cost of ObamaCare.

When President Obama boasts of the number of jobs created during his administration, the numbers he cites may be correct, but he doesn't count the other jobs that were lost during his administration. His critics cite the latter. Both can claim to be right because they are talking about different things.

What has been the net effect? During this administration, the proportion of the working age population that has a job has fallen to the lowest level in decades. The official unemployment rate does not count the millions of people who have simply given up looking for a job.

If everybody gave up looking for a job, the official unemployment rate would fall to zero. But that would hardly mean that the problem was solved or that the "stimulus" worked. Creating particular jobs does not mean a net increase in jobs.
5689  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government programs - Rich Lowry on Food Stamps on: July 10, 2012, 09:29:44 AM
Expanding the program was easy.  Paying for it is forever.  Cutting it back is impossible.  As Bigdog wrote to me recently, "...Do you want children to starve?"

"Needless to say, there are destitute people who need help. But the goal should be to reduce dependence on food stamps to historic levels after the recession, and restore the asset test, re-establish a work requirement and implement a better system for income verification."

The Rise of Food-Stamp Nation

By Rich Lowry - July 10, 2012

Tom Vilsack is one of the most important welfare administrators in the nation. Oh, yeah — he’s also secretary of agriculture.

Two-thirds of the Agriculture Department’s budget is devoted to welfare programs. The biggest is food stamps, which is now the nation’s second-largest welfare program after Medicaid. Its inexorable growth during the past decade, through good times and bad, is a testament to government’s self-generating expansion.

Asked what labor wanted, the great 20th-century union leader Samuel Gompers answered, “More.” The modern welfare state lives by the same credo. About 17 million people received food stamps back in 2000. Some 30 million received them in 2008. Roughly 46 million people receive them today. From 1 in 50 Americans on food stamps at the program’s national inception in the 1970s, 1 in 7 Americans are on them now.

The grinding recession accounts for much of the increase the past few years, but not for its entirety. Spending on food stamps doubled between 2001 and 2006, even though unemployment was low in those years. Even when the economy is projected to improve in the future, usage of food stamps will remain elevated above historic norms. Food Stamp Nation is here to stay.

One of its pillars is so-called categorical eligibility, which means that if someone is eligible for another welfare program, he is presumptively eligible for food stamps. In 2000, the Clinton administration issued regulations saying that merely getting a non-cash welfare benefit could make someone eligible. Getting a welfare brochure or referred to an 800 number for services is enough to qualify in almost all the states.

Categorical eligibility effectively wiped out the program’s old asset test (i.e., you couldn’t have $30,000 in the bank and get food stamps), although income limits still apply. In the Obama stimulus, the work requirement was suspended, too, and hasn’t been restored. The requirement had discouraged young, able-bodied nonparents from utilizing the program; there are millions of them on food stamps. The bottom line is that government at all levels actively wants people on the program.

Newt Gingrich famously calls Barack Obama “the food-stamp president.” But the first president worthy of the moniker was George W. Bush. His administration brought a Madison Avenue element to the otherwise unreconstructed Great Society program. Not everyone who is eligible for food stamps knows it or wants to sign up. Bush began a recruitment campaign. In the same vein, the Obama administration is running radio ads hailing food stamps as a way to lose weight. At the local level, county governments spread the word and work to overcome residual cultural resistance to taking government benefits. The federal government pays $50 million in bonuses to states for signing people up.

That the food-stamps program is part of the farm bill (now up for debate in Congress) is itself a scam, an exercise in rural-urban logrolling that gives everyone an interest in seeing the bill pass.

As every level of government works to grow the program, attempts to scale it back are predictably savaged. When Jeff Sessions, a Republican senator from Alabama, advocated reforms to save $20 billion out of a $770 billion budget for food stamps during the next decade, he was portrayed as a Dickensian villain. The New York Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand accused him of not caring about kids and insisted that food stamps are an engine of economic growth, since every $1 spent on the program allegedly generates $1.71 in economic activity. There’s nothing, apparently, that food stamps can’t do.

Needless to say, there are destitute people who need help. But the goal should be to reduce dependence on food stamps to historic levels after the recession, and restore the asset test, re-establish a work requirement and implement a better system for income verification. When almost 15 percent of Americans are on food stamps, the government should reacquaint itself with two words: “too much.”
Rich Lowry is the editor of National Review.

5690  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Dems in close races buck Obama, Bob Kerrey's wife disses Nebraska on: July 10, 2012, 09:21:44 AM
Polico reports that "Embattled Dems buck President Obama on taxes".  Looks to me like they are just quibbling over details, wanting to make cuts permanent for all lower brackets instead of a one year extension and getting the soak the rich definition up higher than 250k.

Bob Kerrey's wife disses Nebraska.  They are raising a 10 year old son in Greenwich Village, NYC.  She hates football.  Probably doesn't know that the largest city in Nebraska in Cornhusker Stadium on an October Saturday afternoon.

“The Midwest is a strange land for an Easterner of my ilk,”

She is "outraged...that he would choose his country over his family”

Don't worry Mrs. Kerrey (that's not her last name), he won't be representing Nebraska in the Senate, nor ever visit Nebraska if he were to win.  This will pass.
5691  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of the left: Let's do more of the same on: July 10, 2012, 09:02:51 AM
Speaking of liberals well educated in something, art history maybe, to compensate for the shortage of liberals posting on the board I offer you the latest from the liberal media echo chamber in the Upper Midwest, today's Minneapolis StarTribune editorial taking the President to task for not turning further and sharper to the left.  What we really need right now, they argue, is more of the exact same policies that didn't work the first three and a half years in failed Barack Obama Presidency:

Editorial: Obama should call for new stimulus\

"June jobs numbers show that economy needs more juice."

They want him to do more on deficit reduction and offer a new fiscal spending stimulus.  Huh?

"Obama shouldn't wait for a full-blown recession to return. He should ask Congress for another dose of stimulus this summer..."

Read it at the link if you need a good dose of leftist confusion.  What they don't seem to get is that these results called fairness, "the June unemployment rate for 20- to 24-year-olds was 13.7 percent, back up to where it was last fall", not economic growth, are exactly what you get from their policies.
5692  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: American Creed (Constitutional Law) - Court Stakes in 2012 on: July 10, 2012, 08:46:41 AM
"...the power to control Supreme Court nominations is the grand prize in the coming presidential election. Long after Barack Obama and Mitt Romney fade in our memories, the Supreme Court justices one of them appoints will still be rendering the rulings that determine the future course of our nation."

Necessarily tied to 2012 Presidential and Senate thread, this piece includes a nice summary of some cases where the swing vote actually went conservative.  "Swing vote" to some of us means which conservative in name only takes his or her turn to vote with the totally predictable liberal bloc to continue to undermine the American Creed and feed the continuing expansion of government.

Clint Bolick: The Supreme Court Stakes in 2012
The replacement of a single conservative justice by President Obama in a second term would turn the court sharply to the left.


Many conservatives are angry with Chief Justice John Roberts, whose decisive vote in late June not only sustained a disastrous health-care law. It also interpreted the Constitution to permit Congress to penalize behavior through its taxing power that it cannot control through its power to regulate commerce.

Magnifying the harm is a CBS News report—and informed suspicions from a number of sources—that Chief Justice Roberts initially voted to strike down the law but switched in the face of veiled threats from President Barack Obama and concerns about the court's reputation and his own.

Some conservatives were also disappointed that Chief Justice Roberts joined fellow conservative Justice Anthony Kennedy and the four liberal justices earlier in June in striking down portions of Arizona's immigration law. They considered the ruling a blow against federalism.

The upshot is that Chief Justice Roberts has become a "swing" justice on the Supreme Court—along with Justice Kennedy, who has occupied the swing position held by Justice Sandra Day O'Connor until she was replaced by conservative Justice Samuel Alito in 2006. The court now is composed of three solid conservatives and four solid liberals, with Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Kennedy leaning conservative.

Even that mixture makes the current court the most conservative in nearly a century. But it also means that the replacement of a single conservative justice by President Obama in a second term would turn the court sharply to the left.

The ObamaCare ruling highlights the stakes. Chief Justice Roberts joined the liberal justices in finding that the penalty imposed on individuals who refuse to sign up for government-prescribed health insurance is a permissible tax. But he sided with his fellow conservatives in holding that the mandate to buy insurance itself exceeded Congress's power to regulate interstate commerce. Inactivity, the court held, is not commerce.

By contrast, the liberal justices argued that anything that even indirectly affects commerce (which amounts to everything) can be regulated. With the replacement of one conservative justice by a liberal, congressional power under the Constitution's Commerce Clause will be boundless.

By holding the line in June, then, the conservative majority ensured, at least for now, that the power of the national government remains limited. That portion of the health-care decision continues an important trend in which the court has set boundaries on federal regulatory power that had been erased during the New Deal.

Over the past two decades of its conservative majority, in fact, the court has reined in government power and protected important individual rights in a number of areas, almost always in 5-4 votes divided along conservative/liberal lines. Among them:

• First Amendment. In its Citizens United decision in 2010 and its ruling the next year in Free Enterprise Club v. Bennett, which struck down Arizona's scheme providing public "matching funds" to candidates, the court has protected the right to vigorously participate in political campaigns.

• Second Amendment. The court has recognized an individual right to keep and bear arms, which the four liberal justices would have extinguished, and which now hangs by the thread of a single vote.

• School choice. Last month marked the 10th anniversary of the 5-4 Zelman v. Simmons-Harris ruling upholding the constitutionality of issuing school vouchers that can be used for tuition at parochial schools, among others. This was the case that the court's liberal dissenters preposterously predicted would unleash religious strife akin to that in Bosnia and Northern Ireland.

• Property rights. The conservative majority has ruled that some excessive property regulations—such as forced dedication requirements in return for development permits—are unconstitutional. It has also ruled that regulations that destroy property value—such as ones that essentially forbid development—require compensation. But Justice Kennedy joined the liberal majority in the infamous 2005 Kelo decision upholding the use of eminent domain for private purposes.

• Racial preferences. The court has restricted the use of racial preferences and may forbid them altogether in Fisher v. University of Texas, which will be argued before the court next term. The liberal justices recognize few limits on the use of race for social-engineering purposes.

• Federalism. In several cases, the conservative majority has expanded state autonomy and limited the federal government's power to regulate states. These include Horne v. Flores, upholding Arizona's English-only law in 2009; Chamber of Commerce v. Whiting in 2011, upholding Arizona's law penalizing employers who hire illegal immigrants; and Northwest Austin Utility District v. Holder, a 2009 decision allowing a Texas utility district to opt about of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which requires many states and local entities to obtain Justice Department permission to make any changes affecting voting.

The court's conservative majority so far has endured for 21 years, since Justice Clarence Thomas replaced Thurgood Marshall. Since then, there have been six appointments to the court. None, however, has affected the court's balance, with two conservatives replacing conservatives and four liberals replacing liberals.

That may be about to change. Three justices—liberal Ruth Bader Ginsburg and conservatives Antonin Scalia and Justice Kennedy—will reach their 80s during the next presidential administration. So whoever wins in November likely will have the chance either to reinforce the conservative majority, or to alter the court's balance for the first time in nearly a generation.

The stakes never have been higher. First, because as human longevity increases, lifetime tenure has grown increasingly valuable. The average tenure of a Supreme Court justice today is 25 years—spanning more than six presidential terms. And presidents are catching on, naming ever-younger justices. If the newest justice, Elena Kagan, serves for all of her current life expectancy, she will remain on the court until 2045.

Second, the science of nominating philosophically consistent justices has grown more precise. In the past, presidents from Abraham Lincoln to Franklin Roosevelt to Richard Nixon tried to pack the court with reliable fellow-thinkers, with decidedly mixed success. Dwight Eisenhower famously remarked that his two biggest mistakes both served on the Supreme Court (Earl Warren and William Brennan). John F. Kennedy appointed Byron White, who turned conservative toward the end of his tenure, and George H.W. Bush appointed David Souter, who was liberal from day one.

These days, however, justices are carefully chosen on the basis of long philosophical track records. Indeed, most Supreme Court justices today remain more true to their principles than the presidents who appoint them.

A Republican president may spend like a drunken sailor or destroy capitalism in order to save it, and a Democrat may bail out Wall Street and fail to bring the troops home. But they will never disappoint their respective bases on Supreme Court nominations.

All of this underscores that in terms of lasting importance, the power to control Supreme Court nominations is the grand prize in the coming presidential election. Long after Barack Obama and Mitt Romney fade in our memories, the Supreme Court justices one of them appoints will still be rendering the rulings that determine the future course of our nation.

Mr. Bolick is vice president for litigation at the Goldwater Institute and author of "Two-Fer: Electing a President and a Supreme Court," published in April by the Hoover Institution.

5693  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of the left on: July 10, 2012, 08:31:30 AM
Bumper sticker seen on a parked car in a nice, liberal neighborhood yesterday;

"Am I liberal or just well educated?"
5694  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Race, religion, ethnic origin, LGBT, & "discrimination" on: July 09, 2012, 02:44:20 PM
"free choice with whom to associate"

Already asked another way, but to Crafty and to Bigdog, does that freedom of association include who you choose to work for your company and who you choose to live in your property (housing rental)? 

The President can form a group called African Americans for Obama but I cannot form a housing complex called Christian Housing.  Why and why not?
5695  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Intel Matters on: July 09, 2012, 02:25:44 PM
"Why is the Court so much better at stopping leaks than the government agencies entrusted with the country’s most critical secrets?"

Yes. I had that same thought, though not posted.  Quite impressive the secrecy of this opinion in particular. 

Jan Crawford had nice inside stories on the case buy there was no indication at all that she had them early.

"Lifetime job security?-- i.e. no need to seek political advantage to keep one's job?"

That's a pretty good guess, but the aides don't stay for a lifetime.

Besides trying to understand why it happened, the secrecy of the Court proves it is possible.  Intelligence agencies and oversight and enforcement of classified secrets personnel could stand to learn from that.

Perhaps a public beheading (or legal equivalent) would persuade officials not to leak military secrets to the NY Times.  We could at least conduct an investigation and try to enforce our laws. 

Scooter Libby went to prison for not leaking.  Now THAT was an investigation.  They had the truth in the first 15 minutes and decided to run a year or so with the investigation. The zeal for getting at the truth and enforcing federal laws sadly depends upon the political implications.
5696  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / USA Today Editorial: Food stamps expansion driven by politics on: July 09, 2012, 12:25:36 PM
Editorial: Food stamps expansion driven by politics

The United States is one of the richest countries in the world. And its economy is recovering from recession faster than those in most other industrialized nations. So why do the numbers of people on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly known as Food Stamps) keep surging?

The numbers are stark. In 1992, about 25 million Americans took part in the program. By 2000, thanks to an unusually strong economy and overly rigid restrictions on qualifying, the number had fallen to 17 million. But since then, they have been going straight up. As of April, 46 million Americans, more than one in seven, were receiving assistance. Its annual cost meanwhile has risen from $17 billion in 2000 to $78 billion as of last year.

The value of the program is not in doubt. People in need obviously should not be left without food. But numbers like these erode people's faith in the fairness of government anti-poverty programs. These numbers are not driven by a rise in hunger. Indeed they have come about at a time when Americans — particularly those on the lower-income rungs — are struggling with obesity.

Rather the growth in SNAP, as the program providing food assistance is called, is being driven by politics as usual. Rural and urban lawmakers form an odd alliance to scratch each other's back. The rural representatives support expanding SNAP in return for getting the latter's support on farm subsidies. And vice versa.

More at the link:
5697  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cognitive Dissonance of the left: Ends Justify Means, by Valerie Jarrett on: July 09, 2012, 12:22:26 PM
Who cares if its constitutional, we got healthcare:

“We will take it any way we can get it," Obama senior adviser Valerie Jarrett said about the Supreme Court calling the individual mandate a tax in the majority opinion upholding ObamaCare. "I mean we argued both ways, but we thought that it fell within the commerce clause, the Court ruled it was a tax, we really look at it as a penalty."

"But whatever they want to call it, the fact of the matter is it was a historic day for the United States. A country as wealthy as ours is now going to provide health insurance for everyone," Jarrett said to Roland Martin on the Tom Joyner Morning Show.
5698  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Political Economics: If you wanted to make 8-9% unemployment permanent... VDH on: July 09, 2012, 12:18:49 PM
First, excellent previous post by BD.  I continually impressed with his range of reading materials.  IEEE Spectrum is one of my old favorites.

A recent post of VDH on NRO The Corner:

"If one wanted to ensure permanent 8 percent to 9 percent unemployment, one might try the following:

1. Run up serial $1 trillion deficits

2. Add $5 trillion to the national debt in three and a half years

3. Impose a 2,400-page, trillion-dollar new federal takeover of health care, with layers of new taxation, much of it falling on the middle class and employers, even as favored concerns are given mass exemptions.

4. Scare employers with constant us/them class warfare rhetoric about a demonized one-percenter class and its undeserved profits; constantly talk about raising new taxes and imposing regulations, ensuring uncertainty and convincing employers of unpredictability in regulation and taxes. You cannot convince a country to go into permanent near-recession, but President Obama is doing his best to try."
5699  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Iraq says al Qaeda members crossing into Syria on: July 09, 2012, 12:08:27 PM
Iraq says al Qaeda members crossing into Syria

By Sylvia Westall

BAGHDAD | Thu Jul 5, 2012 2:09pm BST

(Reuters) - Iraq has "solid information" that al Qaeda militants are crossing from Iraq into Syria to carry out attacks and has sent reinforcements to the border, the foreign minister said on Thursday.  (More at link)
5700  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Issues in the American Creed (Constitutional Law and related matters) on: July 09, 2012, 10:47:35 AM
I was wrong about Supreme Court resignations.  I'm glad they are all feeling well though I don't think very highly of some of their opinions.
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