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5651  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq - The War is Over on: November 24, 2008, 11:28:35 PM
November 24, 2008, BAGHDAD

THE Iraq War is over.

Flames still burst from various sources and wild cards remain, such as the potential that Muqtada al-Sadr might stomp his feet and encourage his diminished militias to attack us. Yet support for Sadr among Shia is hardly monolithic. In fact, many Shia view him as a simpleton whose influence derives strictly from respect for his father. Others cite the threat from Iran, but the Iranian participation in the fighting here remains overstated.

Nobody knows what the future will bring, but the civil war has completely ended.

The Iraqi army and police grow stronger by the month, and even the National Police (NP) are gaining a degree of respect and credibility.

As recently as last year, the NPs were considered nothing more than militia members in uniform who murdered with impunity. To go on patrol with NPs was to invite attack. But the Americans worked to help alleviate the disdain.

On one occasion, US soldiers peacefully disarmed a local militia that was apparently about to ambush NPs who had harassed it the same morning, and the soldiers sent the NPs to their station and later gave the locals back their guns. The next day, we were at the NP station as the US commander, Lt-Col. James Crider, gave professional instruction to the NP commanders.

Over time, the extremely frustrating process of mentoring the NPs worked. Last week, I went on foot patrol with US forces and NPs in the same Baghdad neighborhood. Kids were coming up to say hello. And the same people who used to tell me they hated the NPs were actually greeting them.

Similar dynamics have occurred in places like Anbar, Diyala and Nineveh. Tour after tour of US soldiers carried the ball successively, further down the field.

Through time, trust and bonds have been built between the US and Iraqi soldiers, police and citizens. The United States has a new ally in Iraq. And if both sides continue to nurture this bond, it will create a permanent partnership of mutual benefit.

Surely, one could pick up a brush and approach a blank canvas using colors from the palette of truth, and, with a cursory glance, smear Iraq to look like a Third World swamp. But Iraq is a complicated tapestry with great depth and subtle beauty. This land and its people have great potential to become a regional learning center of monumental importance.

Iraqis are tired of war and ready to get back to school, to business and to living life as it should be.

Last week, I shed my helmet and body armor and walked in south Baghdad as evening fell. The US soldiers who took me along were from the battle-hardened 10th Mountain Division; about half the platoon were combat veterans from Afghanistan and/or Iraq. Though most were in their 20s, they seemed like older men. None had even fired a weapon during this entire tour, which so far has lasted more than eight months, in what previously was one of the most dangerous areas of Iraq.

Americans and Iraqis had, in those earlier times, been killed or injured on the very streets we patrolled that day. Patched bullet holes pocked nearly every structure as if concrete-eating termites had infested, and there was resonance of car bombs once detonated on these avenues.

Now, the SOI (Sons of Iraq; what pessimists used to scathingly call "America's Militias") are monitoring checkpoints. I talked with an SOI boss and found that he was getting along side-by-side with the neighborhood NP commander, and in fact they were laughing together. Those who derisively called the SOI "America's Militias" have lost much credibility, while the commanders who supported the movement have earned that same credibility.

Though we are still losing American soldiers in Iraq, the casualties are roughly a tenth of previous highs. Attacks in general are down to about the same.

I asked some Iraqis, "Why are the terrorists attacking mostly Iraqis instead of Americans?" One man explained that the terrorists see the Iraqi army getting stronger and unifying with police, and the terrorists fear the Iraqi government.

Focusing on a few "Iraqi trees," one could make the argument that the war is ongoing and perilous. But to step back and look at "the forest," one cannot escape the fact that Iraq's long winter is over, and the branches are budding.

Iraqis and Americans aren't natural enemies. We have no reason to fight each other, and we understand each other far better than we did back in 2003. True bonds have been formed. Iraq and America realize that we have every reason to cooperate as allies.

But the greater, much more important, milestone will be the day when American, British and Polish students are studying in Iraq, while Iraqi students are studying in our countries. Cementing these ties takes time and patience. But we can do it.

Michael Yon has been reporting on the War on Terror since December 2004 at His latest book is "Moment of Truth in Iraq."
5652  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Vote Fraud (ACORN et al) - Minneapolis recount on: November 24, 2008, 10:25:21 AM
Speaking of pirates, Horn of Africa, Sharia Law, Islam in America and which thread to put things in, I think I'll put this one straight into voter fraud...  Somalis form the largest bloc of African immigrants to the United States and the Twin Cities is home to the largest population of Somali immigrants in the United States. Links in the original to this story report widespread false family tie immigration in the Somali community.  Rather than call in the feds, our congressman Kieth Ellison calls in the real Somali leaders(aka al qaida?) to campaign for Al Franken and get out the vote for the filibuster proof majority for an Obama and Pelosi friendly senate.  One in 5 who voted in Minneapolis registered same day and it is illegal to ask for ID???

 From Mogadishu to Minneapolis
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November 24, 2008 Posted by Scott at 5:57 AM

The Twin Cities is home to the largest population of Somali immigrants in the United States. In her latest Washington Times column, Diana West reports the discovery of immigration fraud involving the P-3 family designation in the current United States Refugee Admissions Program:

    Within the last week...the State Department confirmed that massive immigration fraud has been perpetrated overwhelmingly by Africans claimed as close kin (parent, spouse, minor child) by legal residents in the United States. (According to a report in the City Pages in Minneapolis, this scam has been netting some unknowns along the food chain up to $10,000 per head.) Given that Somalis form the largest bloc of African immigrants to the United States, this becomes another story with Somalis playing a starring role.

West's column cites this City Pages article and this State Department fact sheet on the fraud. West concludes her column with a look at the ramifications on Minnesota politics:

    Rep. Keith Ellison, Minnesota Democrat, who famously swore his 2007 oath of office on the Koran as the first Muslim elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, routinely declares that his 7,000-vote margin of victory came from Somali Muslims. Last month, Mr. Ellison was campaigning for that same Somali Muslim vote on behalf of Mr. Franken.

    And what's newsworthy about that? In this case, the point is not that Mr. Ellison was campaigning for the Somali vote, but rather with whom he was campaigning. According to, after Mr. Ellison made a standard, if Somalii-oriented campaign pitch on behalf of Mr. Franken before a gathering of Minnesota Somalis, another speaker appeared before the crowd.

    Described in the report as a "highly regarded prominent Somali traditional leader" -- i.e., a Somali leader from Somalia, not Minnesota -- Abdullahi Ugas Farah spoke on behalf of the Ellison-Franken cause. "In order for Keith to be helpful to the situation in Somalia, you must also elect Al Franken to the Senate," he said.

    Now, there's something new on the American hustings: a "Somali traditional" leader. Curious, I Googled Mr. Farah and came up with one news story, a 2003 brief from the Asia Africa Intelligence Wire headlined, "New Islamic court opens in Mogadishu." The story reported that Mr. Farah was one of two speakers who presided over the opening ceremony for a new Sharia court in Mogadishu's Shirkole area. From Sharia courts in Mogadishu to an Al Franken rally in Minnesota.

    Only in ... America?

West notes that the State Department is punting the question of what to do with fradulently admitted Somalis over to the Department of Homeland Security. And what is DHS doing with it? My guess is that the fraudulently admitted Somalis have about as much to fear from DHS as does President-elect Obama's deportable auntie Zeutuni. Help is on the way!
5653  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: November 24, 2008, 10:10:01 AM
"physicians and hospitals will be compensated for outcomes -- rather than volume of visits and procedures"..."There is ongoing research on this model now by many groups.  Many different interests from providers, insurers, government, vendors, pharma, pharmacies, patients, cottege industries. Its premature to say how this is going to work.  In theory there are pros and cons, but I like the idea..."

My daughter's orthodontia (braces) is set up this way.  One lump sum / payment plan all specified up front, includes the full program.  Excludes certain things especially any service needed from others such as the dentist or oral surgeon.  No additional charge for minor follow up visits scheduled or unscheduled.  Somehow they cover it out of the first six grand.  You don't ever have to second guess motives on how often to come in.  And they don't get started in a service that isn't financed to completion - like a house.

For all my whining about the cost I have my (14yo)daughter considering orthodontics as a profession.

5654  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Piracy on: November 23, 2008, 12:39:55 PM
Seems to me that Somalia is one place where we fought al Qaida and surrendered.  Like Saddam's Iraq who attacked 4 of his neighbors prior to the current war, if Somalia gives safe haven and docking rights to whoever is doing this, they have no sovereignty and are fair game for military action anytime the free world decides that is a course worth pursuing. 

I would apply a corollary of the Powell Doctrine, if it is broken before we get there, we will NOT be staying to fix it. 

Obama, I suppose, will want to arrange a summit with their leaders and explore mutual areas of interest.
5655  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics - mis-measuring poverty on: November 22, 2008, 10:13:48 PM
Thanks BBG for a great post.  I agree with their analysis and learned some details I didn't know.   I've complained here and elsewhere about the taxpayer-billed farce of the Census Bureau mis-measuring poverty.  This study shows that the poor are  spending double what we measure for their income which means we are NOT measuring their income, just paying for the studies and basing policies and politics on false information.

My beef is that the Census Bureau does not count non-cash subsidies as income.  They don't count the food stamp debit card, the free clothing, free health care and they don't count Section 8  voucher paid housing.  We pay it by the trillion.  They receive it.  And none of it counts.  Then the 'experts' just keep telling us the disparity keeps getting worse, we aren't doing enough and they point to 'unimpeachable' sources like the Census Bureau.

FWIW  I don't think the non-counting of non-cash subsidies explains the 100% error the study found in comparing income with consumption.  I think it is an additional defect making the total error perhaps 200% or more.  All about something I think is none of our business, how much money other people make.

5656  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: November 21, 2008, 06:36:55 PM
"I wasn't necessarily suggesting the government had to come up with *government* solutions." - I know and I don't mean to imply I support total laissez faire.  I think that you can get away with a carrying a small anchor on business such as paying about to 17-19% of income in taxes and reasonable regulation.  But when government starts to micromanage businesses or place disproportionate burdens, I think creativity and innovation get quashed.

I especially oppose unequal treatment under the law (everyone should oppose it; it's in the constitution) and these bailouts are great examples.  We help one business and not another.  Same with nearly all types of public private partnerships.

The credit bailout gives me a rotten feeling too, but at least there we are talking about part of the public infrastructure, like bridges and airports.

Back to wealth disparity. I know that plenty of people share your concern.  I think it is 5% that pay >50% of the taxes.  I don't begrudge them for that.  More important IMO is to look at the gains of any individual, family or class of taxpayer and see how they are improving their lives rather to compare with others in other circumstances.  If the middle class is not showing enough upward mobility, that is more of a concern to me than who or how many make more or have more.

5657  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics - Pat Buchanon on the auto bailout on: November 21, 2008, 11:34:30 AM
"I am not inclined to bailout the Big three."  - Me neither.

"The one thing that does bother me is the loss of manufacturing industry." - Yes, but do we want government picking winners and losers.

"Could Detroit be consolidated and converted into a manufacturing force that will lead the world into making only fuel efficient cars akin to there being used to make tanks during WW2?"  - And there is the beauty of business failure and bankruptcy, allowing assets from failed firms to flow to their most productive and valuable use.  (Why do the basic tenets of free enterprise sound like a foreign language in this political environment?)

"We are an economy of fast food and government employees." - NO.  Architecture, engineering and open heart surgery are service industry jobs as well.  As we became more prosperous and automated, manufacturing jobs dropped in importance.  Conversely, as we lost manufacturing jobs, we gained in total jobs and prosperity.  Interestingly, China has lost more manufacturing jobs than the US.

Pat kind of strikes me as more finger pointing by the right.  - PB is often not on the right with his views; I think he has opposed all free trade agreements as he implies in this piece. 

"We don't hear anything about solutions going forward."  - Letting failing enterprises fail just doesn't sound pretty.  If it is government's job to rescue these manufacturers, we should first do a full admission of how it was government's FAULT that they are failing, Pat points out most of those.  The other impediment to ever outgrowing their problems is the big, fat hold of the union.  If we do nothing right now, that problem corrects itself.  Why are we so desperate to prevent a much needed correction?

"Until we start hearing about ideas to help us get out of our messes the Republicans will remain where they rightly find themselves." - There isn't a government 'solution' for every problem especially when a large part of the problem in the first place was too many government solutions.
5658  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Energy Politics & Science, power use down on: November 21, 2008, 10:51:02 AM
"Xcel Energy...saw home-energy use drop 3% in the period from August through September, "the first time in 40 years I've seen a decline in sales" to homes... doesn't think foreclosures are responsible for the trend."

I wonder why not.  50% of home sales are 'bank mediated'.  Aren't most foreclosure homes empty?

Nonetheless, we need real increases in power and grid capabilities if we are thinking of plugging in a major part of the transportation sector within a couple of years.  Doesn't a nuclear plant take 10 years to build?  (Obama thinks we should "look into it...") I don't see how anyone can make strategic plans with all this uncertainty and with the direction of the economy dependent on government indecision.
5659  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: November 20, 2008, 11:09:57 PM
I agree, nice read.  The professor correctly points out the problem with definitions and words.  Words like liberal, conservative and capitalism have a wide range of meanings.  The one who defines the issue early tends to win it.  Watch how our reproductive issue advocate won't call her opponents pro-life, they are only anti-choice or anti women's rights.

A selection I appreciated from the piece: "...libertarians defend “our free-market health-care system” against the alternative of socialized medicine, as though the health care system that prevails in the United States were the product of free competition rather than of systematic government intervention on behalf of insurance companies and the medical establishment at the expense of ordinary people."

He articulates a point I keep attempting to make - when we hear how free markets have failed, critics always point to the sectors that are the furthest from free, bungled up with endless, incompetent government meddling.  They keep winning the argument that the 'market' is messed up, the result is then another left turn toward even greater government bungling, and the cycle continues.

It is very hard to articulate a positive, free market position when the key terms have been flipped upside down.

There are endless other examples, another is affordable housing which refers to housing in need of public subsidy, i.e. NOT affordable.  Or the fairness doctrine which means losing your freedom of speech and having your rights handed over to a government oversight board.  What's fair about that?  And 'spreading the wealth'.  Since when does receiving welfare make you wealthy???

Hard to win the argument if you first have to convince people that the words we use have no meaning.
5660  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics, Scott Grannis - a different bailout proposal on: November 19, 2008, 10:32:14 AM
Of course he is right, but given that this electorate has chosen the furthest left liberal and Pelosi-Reid supermajorities over the furthest center of conservatives by a clear margin, right in the face of stagnation/collapse, perhaps this serious proposal for pro-growth policies should be moved to the good humor thread.  sad angry cry
5661  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Way Forward for Reps/Conservatives on: November 19, 2008, 10:21:51 AM
Crafty wrote: "not so many years ago, the incumbency re-election rate was well above 95%!"

Here is a link for your stat:  In the years 1998, 2000 and 2004 the reelection rate was 98%!  2002 was 96% and during the changeover of congress in 2006 it was still 94%.  This year was also extremely high even though the approval rate for congress was 17% or so.  I have seen statistics claiming that 92% of election money spent is by the incumbents.

If not for the fun and sport of earmarks, pork, over-regulation and corruption, maybe these brave public servants wouldn't want to stay in Washington so long.  On the flip side, if your industry (free enterprise for example) exists only on the whim of some congressional committee, making heavy donations to both sides is extremely rational.

Limbaugh and Hannity are not leaders of anything.  Hannity show is relevant because of his guests.  Rush often has spot-on political commentary but he is REACTING to the stories of the day, not setting an agenda.  Not as extreme as Coulter, but these guys have the job of holding/pleasing an audience, not solving problems or setting the agenda.  I think Rush offends CCP by his tone and attitude more so than by his positions and I highly doubt that the Economists editors listen consistently to the radio shows.  Both of these  conservatives failed to give any verbal backing to a candidate, then whined about the result.  Oprah did better than that.

SB's question about 'intelligentsia' remains unanswered and I am still pondering it.  If the college educated favored Bush 04 by a couple of points and Obama 08 by a couple of points then they appear to be caught up in the same excitement of the moment as the less educated, whether that is excitement for Obama or excitement to be rid of a bad bunch of Republicans.  Meanwhile they sell off their assets in anticipation of the new confiscatory regime.

Every issue presents an opportunity look for some intelligence-based book learning wisdom; today it is the auto bailout.  Any first look at the issue is - 'big three are failing, Oh that's bad.  Many will be hurt.  How can we stop it.'

Any thoughtful, intelligence based look at capitalism such as Thomas Sowell's book 'Basic Economics' would tell you in a longer sound bite that things like foreclosure, bankruptcy and being fired from a job that you are lousy at are all very GOOD things for the economy.  Immobility of resources is a terrible thing.  The fact that all these people have no clue about any other way to make a living except to show up 9 to 5 and have a union shakedown a losing business for 3 times the industry value only to have your congressman lobby the feds for a stopgap measure that won't change the underlying fundamentals is pathetic, from an intelligence-based analytical perspective.

But what happens in the knee jerk media and with the emotions based electorate when a conservative supports allowing failing businesses to fail?  He/she will be destroyed and some spineless, mushy, 'compassionate' new politician will be found to take the seat and the nationalizations and bailouts will continue until no industry is untouched or self sufficient.  JMHO.

5662  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Environmental issues - solar panel manufacturing causes global warming on: November 18, 2008, 10:40:55 AM
BBG, I saw that report also of the false temp data, thanks for posting here.  All these scientific posts could just as well go into media issues for the lack of coverage elsewhere.  Here's another one: The manufacture of solar panels releases a deadly greenhouse gas and causes global warming!

Electronics Industry Changes the Climate with New Greenhouse Gas
An effort to be more environmentally friendly when making semiconductors may have real climate-changing consequences

By Prachi Patel-Predd

MISSING GREENHOUSE GAS: The manufacture of LCD panels like those pictured here is contributing an unknown amount of a greenhouse gas 17,000 times better than carbon dioxide at trapping heat.

Emissions of a greenhouse gas that has 17,000 times the planet-warming capacity of carbon dioxide are at least four times higher than had been previously estimated. Nitrogen trifluoride (NF3) is used mainly by the semiconductor industry to clean the chambers in which silicon chips are made. The industry had in the past estimated that most of the gas was expended during the cleaning process and only about 2 percent escaped into the air. But the first-ever measurements of nitrogen trifluoride levels in the atmosphere, published recently in the journal Geophysical Research Letters show that emissions could be as high as 16 percent.

The results might not have immediate repercussions—nitrogen trifluoride currently adds 0.04 percent of the global warming effect created by carbon dioxide emitted from sources such as coal-burning power plants and cars. More and more gas will be needed, however, as flat-panel LCD televisions become standard in American living rooms and the fledgling thin-film solar cell industry takes off; nitrogen trifluoride is used as a cleaning agent in the manufacture of both.

The production of the gas is nearly doubling every year, says Michael Prather, atmospheric chemist at University of California, Irvine, who had predicted earlier this year that emissions would likely exceed the industry's claim that only 2 percent of the gas is released into the atmosphere.

Despite its potential consequences, the gas is not regulated and electronics companies are not required to keep a record of how much they use or emit. "Nobody really knows how much [nitrogen trifluoride] is used…we don't know how much is being produced and also don't [know if the emissions rate] is correct," says Ray Weiss, a geochemist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego, who led the new work.

Emissions numbers conflict depending on whom you ask. The semiconductor industry started to use nitrogen trifluoride as a greener alternative for cleaning chipmaking equipment in the late 1980s. Making integrated circuits involves depositing layers of materials such as semiconductors and metals on a silicon wafer. These materials also stick to chamber walls. So after each layer is deposited, nitrogen fluoride is pumped into the chamber and is split to release highly reactive fluorine atoms that clean the walls. Air Products and Chemicals, Inc., based in Allentown, Pa., which manufactures a third of the world's nitrogen trifluoride, claims that most of the gas is utilized during the process and what is leftover is trapped and destroyed in a special waste system.

But conditions in a silicon chip–fabrication facility are anyone's guess due to the lack of regulation or regulatory oversight, Prather says. The waste systems might be designed to destroy 97 percent of the gas, but that is under perfect conditions. "Most [semiconductor manufacturers] don't achieve that because they're hurrying in production," he says. The gas tanks themselves might leak or be mishandled during transport and disposal. Besides, manufacturers might not even be using control measures. "There is a whole chain of events, so I don’t think two to three percent [emission] is real."

Weiss's study lends proof to Prather's worries. The concentration of nitrogen trifluoride in the atmosphere is about 0.5 part per trillion, making it very hard to measure. Weiss had to distill, heat and pass the air samples over adsorbents to remove gases such as carbon dioxide and krypton that could foul the extremely sensitive detector. He found that about 563 metric tons of nitrogen trifluoride was emitted in 2006. From his measurements, he calculates that the emissions have already increased to 620 metric tons in 2008, which is about 16 percent of the 4,000 metric tons that Prather estimates will be produced and used this year.

The emissions will escalate as nitrogen trifluoride's use increases. Although a chipmaking chamber is about the size of a refrigerator, those used to make LCD panels are the size of a van, says Steve Pilgrim, global marketing manager at Munich, Germany–based The Linde Group, a nitrogen trifluoride producer. Meanwhile, thousands of megawatts worth of thin-film solar cells are in the manufacturing pipeline. "For every megawatt of solar panel capacity, you'll need a ton of NF3 for cleaning the equipment," Pilgrim says.

Air Products claims that worldwide production of nitrogen trifluoride has reached 7,300 metric tons. The company is now building a 500-metric ton plant that will take the company's capacity to about 2,400 tons next year.

Some companies are solving the problem by adopting alternatives to nitrogen trifluoride. Toshiba Matsushita Display, Samsung and LG have installed systems that generate fluorine on-site at some of their LCD and semiconductor facilities. The system, made by Linde, splits hydrogen fluoride into fluorine. That takes less energy than splitting nitrogen fluoride and there is no global warming risk, Pilgrim says. However, the system does need upfront costs that smaller LCD manufacturers might not want to bear. Any accidental release of fluorine could also be an issue: Fluorine is a toxic and corrosive gas and, at high concentrations, can retard plant growth and damage teeth and bones.

Prather says we should now be following nitrogen trifluoride concentrations in the atmosphere closely. There needs to be pressure on the electronics industry to report emissions, he says. A good start would be including nitrogen trifluoride in the list of greenhouse gases being regulated by the Kyoto Protocol, which aims to reduce discharges of carbon dioxide and six other greenhouse gases by assigning emission limits to countries that have ratified it. "The real issue is we're missing international reporting," he says. "We should start reporting it immediately and measuring it, and then we'll find out how important it is."

5663  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Obama Phenomena on: November 18, 2008, 10:28:27 AM
CCP wrote: "I don't see what all this talk of her being such a great SOS is all about anyway.  Again the Clinton spin.  What are her credentials oversees that makes her so great?"

As First Lady she traveled to China and spoke out against women's rights abuses.  Then she agreed to have all mention of that removed from her book for the Chinese translation in order to sell it a few million more books.  How's that for backbone?
5664  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Way Forward for Reps/Conservatives on: November 18, 2008, 10:21:22 AM
"DMcG, your solution of fair and balanced education looks suspiciously like a 'fairness doctrine' type of equation. Let each subject that is taught be examined equally from both sides, right? So who decides the equal balance? A government entity? The school board? The parents? I find a ton of problems with the state of education across the board, and d*mn if I can think of a solution."

SB, I agree with you and did NOT mean to imply a government solution.  Institutions filled with indoctrination will face the wrath of me whining on this board, not a federal balance enforcement board.  School choice is one solution.  but often the choices look a lot alike.  Entrepreneurs and capitalists don't generally go into teaching.  K-12 is largely a creature of the teacher's unions unless parents, voters, school boards or legislators speak out and they rarely do.

Schools were loaded with bias in the 1970s too but many kids grew up and voted for Reagan.  Kids eventually can smell BS it just takes some time to sort things out.  When I was in Jr. High we were told that the world would run out of natural gas in 1982.  Either we were lied to or their theory just had some holes.  I see many of these new Obama voters as conservatives of the future, just give them time to experience a few of life's real-world experiences.
5665  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Way Forward for Reps/Conservatives on: November 17, 2008, 06:50:47 PM
(Butting in here), if I understand the conversation correctly, there was a request for examples  of "leftist indoctrination mills" in higher education.  Maybe the most obvious example IMO would be the presentation of the anthropogenic global warming theory without also presenting obvious holes and flaws in the theory.  Millions and millions of children I believe have been either shown directly the Al Gore movie, from elementary school to PhD, while few have been taught about the revisions and corrections to the selected data presented.  Almost none of the children are taught about the plethora of other interest facts (Arctic ocean level falling, for example) that would lead one to at least partially doubt the alarmist conclusions implied by the warminig view - that a major portion of the United States will be lost to the ocean levels in this century, for example, and that temperatures can only accelerate upward and man is the cause even though temps haven't gone up in ten years.

Besides Al Gore's movie, examples of unbalanced reporting comes from sources as trusted as Weekly Reader, Scientific American and of course the NY Times.

After consistently teaching 'an inconvenient hypothesis' as truth and fact and testing on the fundamentals of human caused warming, then we poll young voters on the topic and are surprised and impressed by the degree of  'consensus'.

Another area would be the widespread focus in higher education on flaws in the free enterprise-based, capitalistic  system without the context of also teaching the amazing mechanics and merits of the system.

Would you agree and can others add more examples...

Obvious solution to climate change indoctrination is to have all who are taught the theory to be also taught the view of the most prominent skeptics, that anthropogenic causes are likely a minor part, that the data is inconsistent and that many other factors are still largely not well understood.

Solution for economic teaching is to require the teaching of our economic system to all children with all its successes before teaching its flaws, shortcomings and the alternative systems with their own strengths and weaknesses.
5666  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race - surfers and sneers on: November 12, 2008, 11:21:49 PM
Thanks BBG for that post.  I disagree slightly on the Ayers perspective.  The attack on Obama regarding Ayers was bungled in my opinion because it put the focus on terrorism instead of politics.  The implication became that maybe this Obama guy is secretly a terrorist too and that was a non-starter.  Terrorism was a symptom that Ayer's political views were not within any mainstream-acceptable spectrum, not the goal.  The questions should have been - what are Ayers political views and which of those does Barack Obama share?  If Ayers view was to reintroduce inheritance taxes at 50% instead of 45%, then I doubt that he would be blowing things up to achieve it.  But if his political view was to dismantle the free market based capitalist system as we know it then maybe he would want to blow things up.  We know Obama never shared Ayer's explosive view of how to get there, the question was  - what part of the end-of-capitalism ideal does he share?  I don't the president-elect yet knows the answer to that.
5667  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: November 12, 2008, 10:48:17 PM
Bringing an economic question over from 'The Way Forward" for discussion here:

Crafty wrote: "I think one of the key variables is how the Fed has printed too much money and has kept interest rates too low (ROI should be greater than inflation + taxes).  Too much money at too low a price has been sloshing around the global system."   

"Ok, why is this bad?" - Excellent question.

My 2 cents:  Too much money chasing too few goods is inflation.  When money grows faster than real goods and services, prices rise.  That effect was clear in tech stocks and then in real estate. 

For too long, IMO, the geniuses at the Fed have been thinking they can cushion us from the downside of every business cycle when in fact their miscalculations are largely the cause of the cycle.

Federal Reserve interest rates are just one of the tools they have to affect money supply. We live in an electronic time when the Fed does NOT have complete control over money nor do we even have an accurate way of measuring money supply.  But when they see signs of a slowdown, down go the rates.

Interest rates need to be right-sized, not manipulated for short term effects.  When they are too low, it distorts choices and it is eventually followed by corrective rates that are too high.  Who saves money when the rates approach zero and how do you resist excessive borrowing? My only borrowing is an equity line now at 3.5%.  As a real estate investor it is hard not to use the cheap money to overbuy at today's fire-sale prices.  (okay, I bought 2 foreclosures this past summer). As we head into something like Jimmy Carter's second term (the Obama Presidency) it is possible that short term rates will be up by 10 or 20% in 4 years.  Then what? More defaults for the over-leveraged among us seems very likely.  What did that solve?

Monetary policy is supposed to be about protecting the value of our currency, making it stable and predictable.  Long forgotten is another goal that interest rates also should be reasonable, stable and predictable as well.

This Fed is trying right now to solve problems unrelated to interest rates by lowering interest rates.  Do ya think that might backfire (again)?  I do.
5668  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: The First Amendment - 'Fairness' Doctrine on: November 12, 2008, 09:40:36 PM
The expression 'putting the toothpaste back into the tube' applies mostly to the difficulty of ending liberal programs (IMO) but I think it applies perfectly to reimposing 'the fairness doctrine'.  I can't imagine that the most liberal of voters would now think they need to curtail the expression of dissenting views after such a big political win.  Besides, it wouldn't work unless the internet was regulated as well.  I think it would only raise their public importance if voices like Rush L. were banned from the airwaves to make room for elevator music and breaking news on the home and garden front.
5669  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Environmental issues - Arctic Sea Ice Expanding at Record Pace on: November 07, 2008, 10:57:51 PM

Sea Ice Growing at Fastest Pace on Record
Michael Asher ) - November 7, 2008 6:32 PM

30 years of sea ice data. The red line indicates deviation from the seasonally-adjusted mean. (Source: Arctic Research Center, University of Illinois)
Rapid Rebound Brings Ice Back to Levels from the 1980s.

An abnormally cool Arctic is seeing dramatic changes to ice levels. In sharp contrast to the rapid melting seen last year, the amount of global sea ice has rebounded sharply and is now growing rapidly. The total amount of ice, which set a record low value last year, grew in October at the fastest pace since record-keeping began in 1979.

The actual amount of ice area varies seasonally from about 16 to 23 million square kilometers. However, the mean anomaly-- defined as the difference between the current area and the seasonally-adjusted average-- changes much slower, and generally varies by only 2-3 million square kilometers.

That anomaly had been negative, indicating ice loss, for most of the current decade and reached a historic low in 2007. The current value is again zero, indicating an amount of ice exactly equal to the global average from 1979-2000.

Dr. Patrick Michaels, Professor of Environmental Science at the University of Virginia, says he sees some "very odd" things occurring in recent years. Michaels, who is also a Senior Fellow with the Cato Institute, tells DailyTech that, while the behavior of the Arctic seems to agree with climate models predictions, the Southern Hemisphere can't be explained by current theory. "The models predict a warming ocean around Antarctica, so why would we see more sea ice?" Michaels adds that large areas of the Southern Pacific are showing cooling trends, an occurrence not anticipated by any current climate model.

On average, ice covers roughly 7% of the ocean surface of the planet. Sea ice is floating and therefore doesn't affect sea level like the ice anchored on bedrock in Antarctica or Greenland. However, research has indicated that the Antarctic continent -- which is on a long-term cooling trend -- has also been gaining ice in recent years.

The primary instrument for measuring sea ice today is the AMSR-E microwave radiometer, an instrument package aboard NASA's AQUA satellite. AQUA was launched in 2002, as part of NASA's Earth Observing System (EOS).
5670  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Way Forward for Reps/Conservatives on: November 07, 2008, 08:49:16 PM
Thanks for comments back.  GM: I agree about requiring victory before peace.  Also our strength is not just our arsenal but our will.  My recollection of the Iraq war is that 80-90% supported the effort when the Americans appeared to be winning easily and that nearly flipflopped when the war seemed to be going badly.  Now it is back to about 50-50 depending on how you ask the question.  I don't know why we poll the popularity of war while troops are in harm's way but the results reveal a lack of strength in our resolve that our enemies were happy to expose. 

CCP: I don't know to what extent securing borders offends how many Hispanics.  You covered the other factors that would have been my reply in the next paragraph.  I think the 2/3 that supported Obama related to the class envy / pro-working class message of the campaign.  From my point of view that means I think they were sold a false bill of goods since punishing employers doesn't grow jobs or expand middle class wealth.  Should we match their proposals or come up with a better false bill of goods.  I hope not.

Newt was on the right track earlier this cycle coming up with innovative proposals for the issues of the day.  Yhanks for those posts. I disagreed with him on cap and trade but liked most of the ideas and loved the approach.  Also, I liked the positive proposal from the recent round table post that indicated we should evaluate our needs and recruit immigrants from around the world.  Like Obama did, over the next couple of years we need to change the game, not just re-fight the same battles. (The adventure continues.)
5671  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Coming Clusterfcuk - The Obama Presidency on: November 07, 2008, 01:46:19 PM
I agree with the sentiment that we are screwed if and when Democrats take over all branches of government.  Still I respectfully request a clearer title for this thread a) in the recognition that the forum already lacks quantity and quality of opposing views and b) in wishing for the discussion to be something I can share with a teenage daughter as prepares for citizenship.
5672  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US-Russia on: November 07, 2008, 01:38:14 PM
Russia locating new missile launchers near a missile defense site?  Sounds like a problem already solved. Also sounds like George Bush proved right at least this once by history and events.  Obama (version 1.0) opposed missile defense (and favored tax increases).  Somehow he figured out to 'delay' tax increases in a challenged economy.  Maybe he will also 'delay' unilateral disarmament, especially the defensive systems, until the Soviet resurgent, KGB-run, nuclear warhead missile threat subsides. 

My solution would be to match Russia's recognition of South Ossetia with our recognition of Kaliningrad.  If they declare independence, join the EU and NATO, maybe they can keep the missiles aim them a different direction.
5673  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Palin phenomenon on: November 07, 2008, 01:30:32 PM
I agree with CCP and Krauthammer that Palin was the wrong choice for McCain this year because it undercut his biggest argument that Obama lacked sufficient experience. 

That said I now declare my support for Palin and the Plumber in 2012.

She is an intuitive conservative, not one who has read all the arguments from all the pundits.  We need someone who is intuitive AND informed, experienced and prepared.

Regarding the Palin for the Stevens senate seat, we had a similar situation in the land of 10,000 taxes.  When Walter Mondale moved to the vice presidency, our Governor was the most popular politician around - young, handsome, charismatic, an olympic hockey star, and was just on the cover of Time magazine promoting the good life here. Everyone thought it obvious for the Governor to appoint himself, so he resigned and his Lt. Gov. put him to the senate.  In the next election, Republicans swept this Democrat state  taking both senates seats and kicking out the appointing Governor.

5674  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Way Forward for Reps/Conservatives on: November 07, 2008, 01:04:26 PM
We should leave Ann Coulter out of this.  Like certain leftists her job is to strike a nerve, not rebuild a party.  I suggest leaving Reagan out of this too.  Admirers like me refer to Reaganomics to selectively cover only the things we liked about Reagan.  He was wrong occasionally as CCP points out.  I sincerely doubt Reagan would favor porous borders in a post-911 world.  McCain favored a form of amnesty.  Should he have bucked the right wing and reached further to the Hispanics? Politically it was a no-win either way for McCain in the campaign, not a major issue or distinction from Obama who just wants hope and change. Instead it was a symptom of the fact that he was a maverick not a leader in congress.  If his earlier proposals had been better structured, more persuasively argued and better received, maybe we would have these new residents documented and our fences built by now. CCP, aren't you on the (far) right-wing side of this one?

Deregulation hurt S&L's.  More specifically you could say that S&Ls existed only because they were propped up by government policies.  Would they exist today (No) if they were still prohibited from offering demand deposit accounts (checking, electronic transfers etc.), just updating passbooks and moving stable savings money into 30 year mortgages in the neighborhood?  S&Ls had been granted a half point interest advantage over commercial banks by federal law in exchange for staying out of the checking and payments business.  Would we have been better off in the 80s if the banks had failed instead of the S&Ls?  I don't know, but we didn't deregulate, we changed the regulations.  Back to today, did Fannie Mae / Freddie Mac fail due to deregulation?  The videos of the congressional regulation oversight committees have been posted here and they say otherwise.  All the right questions were asked by the oversight committees and all the wrong answers were given, mostly by those with their hand in the cookie jar.  Faulty regulation is not deregulation.

Deregulation and the failure of free markets keeps getting blamed for failure only in our most regulated and least free industries.  Nobody is calling for deregulation of federally insured and federally supported institutions. 

Now the first appointee from the party not blamed for the crisis comes from the board of Freddie Mac.  That is the audacity of hope.  Who can compete with that?

Moving forward, I agree with conservative principles laid down by GM, would add peace through strength, but they need to all be specifically applied to the major issues of the day.  They also need a spokesman, a podium and an enormous power of persuasion to get heard and considered in an era where nearly all the main media along with their viewers are looking the other direction.  The round table style post recently had many interesting ideas.

Conservatives and center-right people need to debate positions and issues BEFORE the election contests and find solutions and consensus.  Crafty can offer to host, lol.
5675  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants on: November 05, 2008, 09:19:25 AM
First I concede a point CCP made earlier that McCain would do better (and did better) in this environment than a more conservative Republican.  It was a number of people who brought down the Republican party as we knew it.  McCain, yes, but mostly Bush.  Not just for his mistakes but for his inability to communicate when he did things right.  How pathetic that a sitting President had to run and hide for months during the election.

On the other side of communication is Obama who even in his gracious 'unifying' speech still contends this is the worst economy of the last 100 years, but employment is down less than one percent.

Unfortunately from my point of view the terms elected-Republican and conservative are mutually exclusive.  Fannie Mae wasn't governed conservatively.  Federal spending wasn't run conservatively.  Even a pro-war decision wasn't executed conservatively from a pro-war taxpayer's point of view.

Back to McCain.  I didn't want to write negatively before the polls close, but  now take a look at the recent political career of McCain prior to the campaign.  My question, did McCain fight Republicans when they were right or did he fight them when they were wrong? 

His biggest fights were: Campaign finance reform - a HORRIBLE law that led to his own demise.  Opposing Bush tax cuts - wrong by his own admission.  Opposing drilling in ANWR - political fodder, had nothing to do with the environment or the caribou and just conceded a huge symbolic point to the opposition.  Immigration - caved on principle and lawfulness just to pander to a totally unappreciative audience.  Supported cap and trade - don't get me started, the best explanation was Obama's saying he looked forward to bankrupting the clean coal industry and McCain did not and could not draw a distinction!  My outlets are connected to coal and no one is building nuclear or anything else to replace it.  McCain conceded the issue before the general election began.  Torture - McCain has credibility here, but drew blurry lines impugning the Americans and hurting the war effort.  Spending - I know he opposes earmarks, a minor item, but why didn't he scream bloody murder as Republicans poured more and more money into ALL spending.  If he did I didn't hear it.  And for all his fighting with his own party, he failed to pin blame for the subprime industry or any other else on his opponents.  He's just too nice of a guy, so he let's Bush and the republicans take full blame with his silence.  (Skipping over some things he did right - this is a rant)

McCain fought Republicans hard but if he had won he helped in leaving fewer Republicans around to support him.  Zero coattails even in losing.  Of course a McCain presidency would also have been a failure with the Pelosi-Reid congress setting most of the agenda.

One example I posted previously of McCain hurting Republicans was our other senator from MN, Amy Klobuchar, a political clone of Hillary without all the charisma.  Every time her opponent tried to paint her as too liberal for MN she managed to point out that she had John McCain on her side of a vote or issue, opposing tax cuts, drilling, etc.

The party now in ruins has always had competing factions among the right wingers and centrists.  The conventional wisdom is still that the R's need to move away from conservatism to win.  McCain should have been a perfect centrist to win states like ours, after all a McCain clone and ally Tim Pawlenty is our twice elected governor.  But McCain lost MN by 10 points and did even worse in neighboring Wisconsin, also of mixed politics.  When people want a Democrat, they don't choose Democrat-lite.  When people want Republicans out, they don't put a maverick Republican in. 

The alleged wisdom is that R's can strategically reach to the center and the right wing has no choice but to support the centrist, the maverick.  If we choose a conservative, we may energize 'the base' but the center goes Democrat.  Two problems with that wisdom.  It doesn't match the election reults we have had.  Wishy washy republicans have done lousy (Bob Dole, GHW Bush reelection for examples), what kind of support do they get, luke warm? While candidates at least running as conservatives have generally fared well, at least since Goldwater.  This was a Goldwater style year.  It took us 16 years of meandering, incompetent government from both sides that nearly took down the republic to snap out of that.  I hate to think how old I will be the new socialism and surrender fad passes.

Meanwhile, I stand by my belief that big tents are for circuses.  I am here to seek out which policies are best and support them regardless of winning or losing elections. 

I supported McCain and voted for McCain without regrets, but never gave a penny and as a precinct chair never held a meeting or organized a rally.  He wasn't the choice of Republicans out of principle IMO, he was a marketing choice that Republican primary voters were hoping that others would like.  It didn't work.

5676  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Gender issues thread/Michelle Malkin on: November 02, 2008, 08:28:15 PM
JDN, You made a few points and I don't mean to oversimplify by quoting back:

"Seems a bit inconsistent to me." re. her immigration opnion...

"saying it was great to put thousands upon thousands of innocent and loyal Japanese/Americans in these prison camps." - doesn't sound like a direct quote...

And some guilt by association, some bad people link to her column. Are we holding Barack to that standard?

I have only read some of her columns.  I know she is highly respected by thoughtful conservatives that I respect such as John Hinderacker and Hugh Hewitt.  I know you said you were done with her and I hate to pile on but could you please take one more shot by linking one column of hers with an excerpt at the top that illustrates the point you are alleging - racist, sensationalist, no substance, white supremist, etc.  TIA.  Are these conservatives I mentioned haters of no substance as well??

5677  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: October 29, 2008, 12:01:28 PM
Crafty, The quote I attributed to God actually came through  They link to this anglicized version:
I was trying to one-up Obama's impressive endorsement of Gen. Powell by finding someone with even more gravitas for my side of the argument, lol.  He basically covers the car, the house the employees, even the wife.  We aren't supposed to be looking over our neighbor's stuff except maybe in the interest of friendly conversation, but not for theft or public takings.

If we buy into the concept that disparity politics is valid and relevant, then what is the right amount of disparity?  The former Mpls congressman Martin Sabo (Keith Ellison's predecessor) proposed that companies could not pay it's highest paid employee more than 20 times what it pays its lowest paid worker.  If you buy fully into the unfairness concept and right to a remedy, why stop at 20-fold?  What is the right amount of disparity?  If unequal pay is unfair, why not mandate outcomes to be equal?  The answer of course is that that system would be even more unfair not to mention extremely inefficient.  Some have more invested in training, skills and resources.  Some people work harder, smarter or longer hours.  Some build products demanded in the marketplace and some build GM cars. How do you explain to an Obamist or Naderite that Tiger Woods deserves high pay for his golf and I don't... 

When we focus on disparity we lose out to policies that move in the direction of Marxism, public ownership, and mandated outcomes that don't make economic sense. Inherent in that is that to achieve lower disparity we have to remove or reduce the incentives and rewards to produce especially for the most productive among us and the result is less production, less income, less wealth throughout the economy. But if we can change the argument to whether or not to open pro-growth opportunities, to remove barriers to success, to give all taxpayers a piece of the responsibility for public spending and to recognize that the burden of achievement rests on the individual, then I think we move toward a more free and prosperous society. 

Who would want that?
5678  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Disparity Politics on: October 29, 2008, 12:05:03 AM
From CCP: "there is a growing wealth disparity in the US and if the Republicans do not address this in some fashion they will continue to swim against the demographic currents and may never recover. I don't want to punish successful people... There has to be some other answer to this. Ignoring this has resulted in the Democrat tsunami in my opinion."

"There must be another way to raise the living standards of the majority of Americans who are running in place and indeed slowly slipping behind while that has not been true for the rich.. They can ignore it at their own peril."

"People I think are tired of Reagan's mantra, philosophy and ideals.  They want action.  They want results."

It's true that too many Americans feel like they are running in place economically.  I think the reason is because of certain runaway costs rather than low income, an important distinction IMO.  Incomes are high and growing at least until recently. Americans have a median household income of over $50,000. That might be enough to get by if not for runaway costs in certain market segments have been escalated by meddling.  Sectors like energy, housing, healthcare, college tuition and overall tax burden come to mind.  Also I notice a wealth and debt mentality - we have so much access to money we say no to almost nothing.  So we find ourselves strapped.

The point about income and wealth disparity has flaws IMO.

Most obvious is that the Census Bureau pretends to measure poverty but doesn't count non-cash subsidies which can the the bulk of the income for people in programs like section 8, food debit cards, taxpayer health care, subsidized transportation etc etc. So they constantly understate the 'wealth' of the have-nots.

Secondly, there is significant income mobility - it isn't always the same people that are rich and getting richer. Also there is a difference between wealth and income.  Some with low income have wealth and some with high incomes lack accumulations of wealth.

Another flaw is wealth disparity increases when wealth increases and we've just come through about a 24 year boom. Wealth disparity certainly DECREASED during the current collapse of real estate and other investment values.  Disparity is a contrary indicator to wealth creation. 

If Reagan mantras have been worn out lately it's from false use not because they are no longer true.  Even Reagan expanded government in compromise, like a centrist or a pragmatist.

The desire to move up economically and to achieve more personal and family financial security should push people toward pro-growth policies, not leftism, but conservatism has suffered IMO from a leadership and salesmanship gap for a long time. 

McCain keeps trying to fight redistributionism but the clearest words against class envy came from this wise author:

"You shall not covet your neighbour’s house; you shall not covet your neighbour’s wife, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbour." - God
5679  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: October 28, 2008, 11:04:14 PM
Regarding Palin's clothes, I agree it's a PR gaffe, but in context - she had already been ridiculed by the east coast critics for lacking good fashions, not to mention that 2 wars are going on and the world economy is in panic. GM, interesting comparison, will greek-column-gate get 35 times the scrutiny?  I guess not.

SBMig, nice post.  We agree on a lot of it.  I agree the politico piece was a nice addition to the discussion which can get one sided here, especially in the bias thread  smiley.  It's very true that there are plenty of outlets for conservatives - Rush, Hannity, Hugh Hewitt, blogs like Powerline.  The conservative sites have huge followings and fill a void but I wish people would get at least a summary of another view from the mainstream.
5680  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: October 28, 2008, 01:06:38 PM
SB post from Politico?: "...for most journalists, professional obligations trump personal preferences. Most political reporters (investigative journalists tend to have a different psychological makeup) are temperamentally inclined to see multiple sides of a story, and being detached from their own opinions comes relatively easy.

Joking, right??? The main media MISSED nearly all the negative stories and contradictions within the Obama campaign and picked up just a few of them belatedly.  How do they know the polls tell the story if the polls are based on what people read and see through biased coverage.  Was it published ANYWHERE in the mainstream media how much of the drivel from Biden in his debate was false - off by 2000% on his repeated Iraq-Afghanistan cost comparison. "Let me repeat that" Off By 2000%!  Or do we mostly hear that someone spent too much on new clothes for Palin. Where is Obama pounded now for LYING about campaign spending limits, a 3/4 of a BILLION DOLLAR mistake that buys the White House - mostly silence, but the NY Times ran hit piece on Mrs. McCain and another time on some alleged Sen. McCain sex scandal that never turned into anything.  Meanwhile they missed by a year what others carried on the "GOD DAMN AMERICA" pastor disaster.  Was Obama or Biden EVER called on the carpet for use of the false stat that America only has 3% of the world's oil reserves when they only count as reserves the areas where congress already allows drilling? Or that tax increases must be delayed because they will admittedly choke out growth?  If they choke out growth why are they good for us later?  There's a question not likely to be asked by Katie Couric or Charles Gibson. 

I don't know a msm-only reading liberal who even knows that Tony Rezko (convicted felon) owns the Obama's side yard or that ACORN is a leftist political group that was channeled hundreds of thousands of foundation and taxpayer funds through Obama.   I've heard maybe a hundred times, even from McCain himself, of his low finish in school, but never that the Magna Cum Laude candidate picked the bumbling Joe Biden from the bottom 11% of his class. 

Did you see Gibson's interview with Obama June 4 after clinching the nomination: "I'm curious about your feelings last night. It was an historic moment. Has it sunk in yet?" :What did she say?"  "do you say to yourself: Son of a gun, I've done this?"  "did you truly, in your gut, think that a black man could win the nomination of a major party to be president of the United States?" "Is the hardest part of all this behind you or ahead of you?" "Has the joyfulness of this hit home yet? Do you take joy from it?"...   Compare the tone with the grilling of Palin.  Maybe I just don't understand professional detachment.
5681  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: October 27, 2008, 12:59:18 PM
CCP: "The fastest way to reduce the costs of health care is to transfer costs to patients."

VERY well put, yet the more we see a cost problem the more we move in the opposite direction.

Same goes for college tuition. 
5682  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: October 26, 2008, 03:53:07 PM
Guiness: "the problem with most redistributionist schemes is that most "wealth" is based on symbols in some account somewhere."

I find that theme more helpful in understanding the mortgage meltdown than for redistribution.  In the mortgage fiasco,  a deed to a property (a piece of paper) or a claim on a deed (a line item on a piece of paper) was packaged with similar and dissimilar items. The new product at each level introduced new risk of uncertainty of product, risk, value and information that worsened the collapse.

Back to redistribution: I think redistribution has 3 main two problems:

1) Redistribution transfers take what would be investment assets away from their most productive use and gives to a consuming class not likely invest at all.  Less invested in capital assets means a lower productivity of labor, lower output and fewer new jobs created.

2) Redistribution  involves raising marginal tax rates on those most able to rearrange their economic activities - incentive to produce and reportnless income; redistribution creates a disincentive to put the resources not yet confiscated to their most productive use  -maybe you will choose to buy a south pacific island instead of investing to build a new plant requiring new jobs.

3) The free lunch mentality injures the recipient.  Look at families with multi-generational welfare and program dependency.  Everything in their lives and neighborhoods can get ripped apart including the moral structure of the family.  The importance of the father and husband - two functional parents - is replaced by (false) security from the state.  Nonproductive activities get encouraged and rewarded, expanded and prolonged for the dependent class.  JMHO.
5683  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Obama Phenomena on: October 24, 2008, 09:49:40 AM
I agree with the Obama concernsfrom Scott Grannis and the additions from Crafty.  Picking out one quote from Scott G: "I acknowledge his depth of (Barack Obama's) intellect..."

Definitely true.  However that means that the sloppy, vague, deceitful and unexplained changes and omissions from the campaign are intentional, not just the fog of war.  For example, 'we will look into offshore drilling and look into nuclear' instead of we will authorize new drilling and authorize new nuclear power plants, 'we will need to look for new sources of revenues' instead of here are the new taxes and fees we will impose, 'we will commit to public financing and limits on campaign spending' followed by 'we will will bury you with money and media', 'tax cuts for 95%' instead of acknowledging only 60-some percent pay anything in the first place and the a tax cut just means we exempt you from the first round of increases, 'capital gains tax increases versions 1, 2, 3 and now 4 depending on results from the latest focus group survey, 'personally pro-life' yet wishing an abortion for his first grandchild so his daughter wouldn't be 'punished with a baby, and of course the television ads that show Obama's national health plan as just a sensible, centrist compromise when his previous words make it clear he wants the full socialist system in place as soon as the public will swallow it.
5684  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Obama Phenomena - Obamanomics on: October 21, 2008, 09:12:46 AM
As the economy heads downward and we look at the ending of this campaign of confusion, let's take a moment to look deeper into the 3-letter word Joe Biden calls 'j-o-b-s'.

Start by looking at the players in our economy. Most Americans don't file a federal tax return of any kind - that includes of course most children, some elderly, disabled along with people who just don't earn or only participate in the underground economy.  Of those who do file a return, more than 30% pay NO federal income tax.  Some other time let's discuss why that happened, but what a travesty.

At the 'rich' end of the spectrum we have people who make over 250,000, might someday make 250,000, plan on saving and investing 250,000 at sometime in their life, or ever plan to own or sell a capital asset.  These people are ugly, filthy, rich and should be stopped, punished and demagogued.  Not my view and I hope I didn't overstate their view - that of Obama, Biden and your favorite local class warfare baiting Democratic congressional member.

From a moral perspective, please tell me why is it okay to forcibly take extra from these people, because you can, to pay your own basic basic living expenses.  It of course isn't.

From an equal rights, equal protection and constitutional perspective, why is it ever okay for the majority to shift their share of the public expense burden over to a minority, no matter how many voters in the majority or how few they can victimize in the minority?  Does that pass YOUR test for consent of the governed???  Not for me, not even close!

What about from an efficiency standpoint in taxation or economic growth, do we really raise more money by putting higher marginal tax rates on those most able to scale down their productive activities?  Of course not.

We have learned over and over and over again that the opposite approach is what grows the economy and grows federal revenues most efficiently.  From the Kennedy tax rate cuts to the Reagan tax rate cuts to the Clinton-Gingrich capital gains tax rate cuts to the Bush tax rates cuts, what happened each time?  Federal revenues surged! (Same for state revenues.)

Now back to the current downturn, this election, the groups of Americans described above and Joe Biden's now-famous 3-letter word called jobs. Who creates jobs? Americans who don't file a return? No. The 30+% that file but pay nothing in federal income taxes? Never.  The majority of hard working, taxpaying Americans who work hard, pay their taxes and eek out a living?  Not Likely.

The new jobs come from people trying to head into that area we call rich.  Those who see a larger opportunity to grow their plumbing business, bakery or blacksmith shop to a higher revenue and income level and see a distinct possibility that the AFTER TAX likely returns are economically worth the enormous hassle, expense and unknown risks associated with adding each new employee.

This economy needs consistent new job creation in the millions.  Do we get there by spreading wealth away from the people who earned it and over to the less productive or is it more effective to allow people some fruit from their labor and to invest more of what they earned back into their own business?

The right answer is obvious from my point of view, but I truly wonder which taxpayers the Obama voters and ACORN members think are going to create new jobs that this economy so desperately needs.


Besides raising personal tax rates on the highest producers in the economy, Obama and the Democrats oppose and demagogue McCain's proposal to lower slightly the corporate tax rate which is now the highest in the western, developed world.  In America, successful corporations are taxed at 35%, in Taiwan it is 25%, in Hong Kong it's 16.5% and in Ireland it's 12.5%.  Even 'communist' China lowered its corpate tax rate from 33% to 25% effective just this year.  Why is it such a stretch for the Democratic mind to see that companies that have choices can and will move jobs and operations to a friendlier business climate?

If taxes weren't enough, then look at trade.  While Obama is offering to move economically backward and unilaterally re-write NAFTA (how do you unilaterally change an 'agreement'?), Canada is negotiating it's own new free trade agreement with the European Union.  Trade raises income levels and job prospects on both sides.  Bill Clinton knew that when he partnered with Gingrich and the Republicans to implement the beginning of Reagan's vision of a hemisphere-wide free trading zone, allowing economic freedom, opportunity and prosperity to flourish across borders.  But not Obama.  He comes from and caters to the protectionist, anti growth, furthest left wing of his own party.

The way I see it, it is economically unwise to follow the leadership void of the Bush administration and the excesses and incompetence of both the Republican and Reid-Pelosi-Obama congresses with an economic left turn backwards in time to anti-growth policies while our competitors across the globe have turned pro-growth.  It just doesn't make sense.  - Doug
5685  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Russia - G7 on: October 14, 2008, 10:52:20 PM
Just wanted to note that in this financial crisis we are back to referring to the meeting of the most important economies of the world as "G-7", not G8 (with Russia), even though the Russian stock market has lost 2/3 of its value since May.  A result of the war this August in Georgia?
5686  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: October 12, 2008, 12:34:04 PM
CCP: "I just don't think simply saying we need to cut taxes is enough with BO out there preaching his lies for months with "I am cutting taxes for 90% of the folks in this country". ...The BO campaign has done a MUCH better job of responding to and countering the Repubs arguments than the other way around."

 - Very true.  Barack in his campaign is slick and slippery.  His rhetoric doesn't at all match his record.  If I were a centrist watching this only through mainstream sources I would probably join Obama and fight for hope and change.  McCain should have set up a Bill Clinton style war room from the start and he should have gone ballistic immediately over Democrats blocking reforms on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.  Instead voters think McCain and deregulation brought down the house.  Remarkably, most voters think they will face lower tax rates if Democrats take full control all branches of government.  The way things are going, I wish that were true sad.
CCP:"McCain either better have a great case to squash the "I am going to cut taxes for 90%", and "what has been done for the last eight years is not working" arguments in this last debate or it is definitely over."

True, he just can't undo later what was allowed to stand for so long as unchallenged fact. 

This week allegedly McCain will unveil a 'new' economic plan.  Even if he gets it perfectly right economically, he can only be perceived as a) pandering, b) desperate, c) unsteady in his leadership and d) irresponsible to the deficit and future generations.

My wish was to have an honest and consistent liberal run against an honest and consistent conservative and have them each strenuously argue their case to the people.  Instead we have confusion-economics on both sides selling to a confused electorate.
CCP: "Are there more small business owners than government employees, union people, and immigrants who come in a jump on the dole bandwagon (of course not all of them - but enough)?  I doubt it.  McCain is preaching to the minority.  BO is preaching to the majority.   End of story."

 - You are obviously right in terms of numbers of voters.  The counterpoint is that hurting your employer or taking down ANY major sector of our economy will hurt you and your family no matter who you are. Workers and even welfare recipients share the economy with investment capital, investors and business owners. My union friends who worked for Northwest airlines, like the GM workers in Michael Moore's movie, always had an 'us versus them', worker versus ownership attitude.  Bringing down those businesses and damaging those investments wasn't helpful to those jobs. Same goes for the current market collapse.  Someone needs to articulate win-win choices to counter the us versus them, class envy politics.  McCain hasn't done that.

There is no narrative that runs through the McCain campaign.   The economy should be America's biggest strength and whoever is the Republican nominee should be out front leading the charge.  Instead, McCain is that hoping unknown events in the next 23 days will change the subject.
5687  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: October 11, 2008, 12:00:10 AM
We have the credit crunch and we have the stock (and real estate) sell-offs.  Therefore one caused the other??? Not necessarily.  I would add in the other development of the day, that Democrats are about to take over the House, Senate - perhaps the magic 60 vote senate, the Presidency (and of course the Supreme Court).

Obama isn't going to lower marginal tax rates for anyone as near as I can tell. He just going to 'let' some keep their Bush tax cut, but not for the people he thinks are "rich" enough already.

Obama IS going to dramatically raise the capital gains tax rate, so you are now RICH if you have investments you ever want to sell.

Obama is also hellbent on keeping our tax rate on employers at the second highest rate of the developed world. For a basketball player, you would think he would shy away from having his team compete with heavy ankle weights.

Soaking the rich sounds great unless you happen to share an economy with them.

Let's say you are 'rich' and you know that Democrats are taking over government next year. You know they will double or at least increase significantly the tax rate on capital gains next year depending on which version of the Obama tax plan you think is the real one. What would you do? What should you do???

First thought would be to to sell off your assets on the last day before the rate increase goes into effect. But that isn't good enough because everyone else will sell off their assets first - as soon as they smell an electoral victory for the party who wants to punish wealth and achievement. So if you want to sell off your assets - real estate, stocks, whatever, you need to get to the front of the line and sell faster, harder and sooner than the other investors, before the values plummet from the rush to sell.

So, how is your 401k looking as regime change in America starts to take shape?

Blame it all on Bush if you want but investment decisions are based on the outlook for future, AFTER-TAX returns, not on the past. As Obama's election goes from possible to certain, all I see is a mad rush of investors to the exit. And they all got ahead of me! The only real question is - why are we all so surprised???
5688  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Girl Fight on: October 07, 2008, 10:18:49 AM
I thought some here might enjoy this article, current cover story of City Pages the free weekly entertainment publication of Minneapolis.  Normally they cover things more like metrosexual interests and how far to the right congressman Kieth Ellison has drifted.
5689  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues, moderator bias on: October 06, 2008, 09:31:41 AM
I mentioned Gwen Ifill's bias annoying in the VP debate  Thanks to the American Thinker for taking the time to go ack over the questions and analyze what we all witnessed:

Gwen Ifill's VP Debate Bias
By Lee Cary
A careful reading of the questions Gwen Ifill asked during the VP debate reveals several that displayed her bias.

The revelation that PBS's Gwen Ifill plans to release a book on Barack Obama on Inauguration Day raised the suspicion that her moderator role at the VP debate might be other than objective. It was. The evidence of her bias is evident in several of her questions to the candidates. Below are a few examples.

The Forced-Choice Question

The forced-choice question aims to force an answer from a choice of options defined by the interviewer. For example, in the early stages of the Afghanistan War, the late Peter Jennings asked Pervez Musharraf, then President of Pakistan, if the United States in Afghanistan was "bombing too much or too little."

It was a classic forced-choice question designed to create one of two headlines: "Musharraf Criticizes American for Bombing Too Much," or "...Too Little."  Mr. Jennings intended to create controversy because controversy sells. Musharraf wisely dodged the question.

During the VP debate, Ifill used forced-choice questions to further her biases. Here's one:

    "As America watches these things [Congress struggling with the bailout bill] happen on Capital Hill, Senator Biden, was this the worse of Washington or the best of Washington that we saw play out?"

Honestly now, how many sane, reasonable people see the bailout ordeal as representing the "best" of Washington?

It was a tee-up question for Biden. He said, "neither the best nor worse," but it was, he said, a reflection of the bad economic policies of "the last eight years." In other words, it was the worse of Washington on the Bush-Republican side.

What would an un-bias question in this venue sound like? How about this: As America watches theses things happen on Capital Hill, what should they reasonably expect to be the outcome, and its impact on their lives?

Here's another example of an Ifill forced-choice question:

    "Who do you think was at fault? I start with you, Governor Palin. Was it the greedy lenders?  Was it the risky home-buyers who shouldn't have been buying a home in the first place? And what should you be doing about it?"

Notice the choice not on the list -- Congressionally driven Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac policies that forced banks to make loans to people who had no ability to repay them.

Governor Palin accepted the Ifill choices and blamed ‘predator lenders" and Wall Street "greed" and "corruption." 

The Bias-Premised Question

Ifill asked,

    "Senator Biden, how, as vice president, would you work to shrink this gap of polarization which has sprung up in Washington, which you both have spoken about here tonight."

The key twin concepts in that question are "polarization" and "sprung up." The implied bias is that during the Bush administration polarization "sprung up."

Ifill is a smart, educated women. She knows that partisan polarization has been part of Washington since the death of the man the city's named after. She also knows that when the House voted on the first version of the bailout bill, many Democrats voted against it.  The "polarization" over the bailout wasn't based on political parties. It was based on economic free-market philosophy. 

Here's another Ifill bias-premised question:

    "Governor and Senator, I want you both to respond to this. Secretaries of State Baker, Kissinger, Powell, they have all advocated some level of engagement with enemies. Do you think these former secretaries of state are wrong on that?"

This was a back-door effort to support Barak Obama's "no preconditions" statement made during his nomination campaign. Ifill's bias is that there's nothing wrong with what Obama said.

Ifill knows that, diplomatically, "some level of engagement with enemies" goes on all the time, often through back channels using third parties. The idea that we don't communicate with our enemies is a Beltway media myth.

Hers was a cleverly formed question, since a "no" answer to the closed-ended query (a "yes" or "no" type question) with which it ends (Do you think...?) would sustain the notion that what Obama said is consistent with, and analogous to, what the former Secretaries of State say. Ifill uses the question to establish conceptual parity without the opportunity to challenge the premise.

(Peter Jennings tied this tactic once with General Tommy Franks, and Franks made Jennings, unaccustomed to being challenged, sit up straight in his chair by saying, "Peter, I don't accept the premise of your question.")

Here's another example of a biased question.

    "Governor, you mentioned a moment ago the Constitution might give the vice president more power than it has in the past.  Do you believe as Vice President Cheney does, that the Executive Branch does not hold complete sway over the office of the vice presidency, that it is also a member of the Legislative Branch?"

Out of left field, Ifill interjects the man Democrats love to hate, Dick Cheney, into the debate. She attributes an unexplained and unsubstantiated interpretation of the Constitution to Cheney, and then asks Palin to defend or attack that interpretation.  (What interpretation?)

It was a question designed to trap Palin, akin to Charlie Gibson's "Bush Doctrine" question.  Palin gave a one sentence non-committal answer, and then moved away from the topic. The question gave Biden another chance to demonize Cheney, and display his strikingly faulty understanding of when the VP presides over the Senate.  He said,

    "The only authority the vice president has from the legislative standpoint is the vote, only when there is a tie vote. He has no authority relative to the Congress."

Say what? This notion when unchallenged by Ifill. Article II, Section 3 of the Constitution reads:

    "The Vice President of the United States shall be President of the Senate, but shall have no Vote, unless they be equally divided.

    "The Senate shall choose their other Officers, and also a President pro tempore, in the absence of the Vice President, or when he shall exercise the Office of President of the United States."

Cheney, and other Vice Presidents, could sit up on the platform and preside over the Senate every time it's in session, but they've other things to do.  This is Biden's "no authority" interpretation.

Here's another example of a bias-premised question from Ifill.

    "Let's come full circle. You both want to bring both sides together. You both talk about bipartisanship. Once again, we saw what happened this week in Washington. How do you change the tone, as vice president, as number two?"

Surely Ifill noticed that both support and opposition to the bailout bill was "bipartisan" in that members of both parties voted both for and against it. And surely she noticed that the most inflammatory language of that week was voiced by Speaker Pelosi when she called Republicans "unpatriotic" (but had no public name-calling for her initial 95 Democrat "no" votes). 

One last example under this category of bias-premised questions:

    "[To Biden] Do you support, as they do in Alaska, granting same-sex benefits to couples."

This question was designed to get the attention of the conservative Republican base in order to erode Palin's favor there.  Palin noticed that and made a point of saying,

    "But I will tell Americans straight up that I don't support defining marriage as anything but between one man and one woman, and I think through nuances we can go around and round about what that actually means."

Ask yourself this question: What influence does the Vice President have on individual state marriage policies that would warrant this question in a VP debate? The answer is - none. It was all about attempting to embarrass Palin before the GOP base.

The Contrived Dichotomy Question

Listen for the contrived dichotomy buried in this convoluted question from Ifill.

    "Senator Biden, we want to talk about taxes, let's talk about taxes. You proposed raising taxes on people who earn over $250,000 a year. The question for you is, why is that not class warfare and the same question for you, Governor Palin, is you have proposed a tax employer health benefits which some studies say would actually throw five million more people onto the roles of the uninsured. I want to know why that isn't taking things out on the poor, starting with you, Senator Biden."

Nevermind Ifill's specious citation of an unnamed, uncertified source as "some studies." (What studies?)  Note the dichotomy she creates within her question: Biden wants to tax the rich versus Palin wants to take health insurance away from the poor.   

Another tee-up for Biden. He begins his answer with,

    "Well Gwen, where I come from, it's called fairness, just simple fairness."


To conclude that Gwen Ifill's moderating efforts displayed through her questions were without bias requires a willing suspension of disbelief.

Her moderator performance represents another sad day for America's entrenched, and ever less objective, television journalism.
5690  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: ACORN on: October 06, 2008, 12:14:12 AM
My original point in starting this thread was just to expose what an extreme leftwing group they are, how amazingly powerful they are, how anti-capitalism, freedom and market economy they are, along with the corruption and voter fraud issue.  The timing hit the forefront with the Obama candidacy as his career and political views are intertwined with ACORN.  The issue of ACORN is separate from Obama just in the sense that ACORN precedes him and will live on and regardless of how this one disciple fairs in this year's election.

The heart of my beef is just that they represent a political view opposite to my own.  God Bless their right to organize and espouse Marxist views.

Then I see a Michelle Malkin column alleging that 40% of their funding comes from taxpayers.  Now I'm mad.  Looking at Michelle's achive, I see that she has been all over this group and Obama's shady involvement with them.
The ACORN Obama knows
By Michelle Malkin

My syndicated column today spotlights the whistleblower report on ACORN, which I’ve been blogging about (here) and which deserves more attention in the media and in Washington–especially in light of the radical activist group’s embrace of Barack Obama. The Consumer Rights League e-mailed to let me know that three GOP congressmen (Hensarling, Feeney, and Royce) have called on Barney Frank (D-Housing Boondoggle) to investigate ACORN’s taxpayer abuses. Snowball’s chance, I know, but conservatives ought to be turning up the heat and using every ounce of energy they have to, well, act like conservatives and push to de-fund the Left.

For excellent background on Obama and ACORN, see Stanley Kurtz’s NR piece here, plus City Journal pieces here and here. Also here and here.

If you don’t know what ACORN (the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) is all about, you better bone up. This left-wing group takes in 40 percent of its revenues from American taxpayers — you and me — and has leveraged nearly four decades of government subsidies to fund affiliates that promote the welfare state and undermine capitalism and self-reliance, some of which have been implicated in perpetuating illegal immigration and encouraging voter fraud. A new whistleblower report from the Consumer Rights League documents how Chicago-based ACORN has commingled public tax dollars with political projects.

Who in Washington will fight to ensure that your money isn’t being spent on these radical activities?

Don’t bother asking Barack Obama. He cut his ideological teeth working with ACORN as a “community organizer” and legal representative. Naturally, ACORN’s political action committee has warmly endorsed his presidential candidacy. According to ACORN, Obama trained its Chicago members in leadership seminars; in turn, ACORN volunteers worked on his campaigns. Obama also sat on the boards of the Woods Fund and Joyce Foundation, both of which poured money into ACORN’s coffers. ACORN head Maude Hurd gushes that Obama is the candidate who “best understands and can affect change on the issues ACORN cares about” — like ensuring their massive pipeline to your hard-earned money.

Let’s take a closer look at the ACORN Obama knows.

Last July, ACORN settled the largest case of voter fraud in the history of Washington State. Seven ACORN workers had submitted nearly 2,000 bogus voter registration forms. According to case records, they flipped through phone books for names to use on the forms, including “Leon Spinks,” “Frekkie Magoal” and “Fruto Boy Crispila.” Three ACORN election hoaxers pleaded guilty in October. A King County prosecutor called ACORN’s criminal sabotage “an act of vandalism upon the voter rolls.”

The group’s vandalism on electoral integrity is systemic. ACORN has been implicated in similar voter fraud schemes in Missouri, Ohio and at least 12 other states. The Wall Street Journal noted: “In Ohio in 2004, a worker for one affiliate was given crack cocaine in exchange for fraudulent registrations that included underage voters, dead voters and pillars of the community named Mary Poppins, Dick Tracy and Jive Turkey. During a congressional hearing in Ohio in the aftermath of the 2004 election, officials from several counties in the state explained ACORN’s practice of dumping thousands of registration forms in their lap on the submission deadline, even though the forms had been collected months earlier.”

In March, Philadelphia elections officials accused the nonprofit advocacy group of filing fraudulent voter registrations in advance of the April 22nd Pennsylvania primary. The charges have been forwarded to the city district attorney’s office.

Under the guise of “consumer advocacy,” ACORN has lined its pockets. The Department of Housing and Urban Development funds hundreds, if not thousands, of left-wing “anti-poverty” groups across the country led by ACORN. Last October, HUD announced more than $44 million in new housing counseling grants to over 400 state and local efforts. The White House has increased funding for housing counseling by 150 percent since taking office in 2001, despite the role most of these recipients play as activist satellites of the Democratic Party. The AARP scored nearly $400,000 for training; the National Council of La Raza (”The Race”) scooped up more than $1.3 million; the National Urban League raked in nearly $1 million; and the ACORN Housing Corporation received more than $1.6 million.

As the Consumer Rights League points out in its new expose, the ACORN Housing Corporation has worked to obtain mortgages for illegal aliens in partnership with Citibank. It relies on undocumented income, “under the table” money, which may not be reported to the Internal Revenue Service. Moreover, the group’s “financial justice” operations attack lenders for “exotic” loans, while recommending 10-year interest-only loans (which deny equity to the buyer) and risky reverse mortgages. Whistleblower documents reveal internal discussions among the group that blur the lines between its tax-exempt housing work and its aggressive electioneering activities. The group appears to shake down corporate interests with relentless PR attacks, and then enters “no lobby” agreements with targeted corporations after receiving payment.

Republicans have largely looked the other way as ACORN has expanded its government-funded empire. But finally, a few conservative voices in Congress have called for investigation of the group’s apparent extortion schemes. This week, GOP Reps. Tom Feeney, Jeb Hensarling and Ed Royce called on Democrat Barney Frank, chair of the House Financial Services Committee, to convene a hearing to probe potential illegalities and abuse of taxpayer funds by ACORN’s management and minions alike.

Where does the candidate of Hope and Change — the candidate of Reform and New Politics — stand on the issue? Barack Obama, ACORN’s senator, is for more of the same old, same old subsidizing of far-left politics in the name of fighting for the poor while enriching ideological cronies. It’s the Chicago way.

    * Location: By Michelle Malkin
5691  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: October 05, 2008, 11:24:37 PM
"Does everyone deserve the same level of healthcare?"

Of course that could mean does everyone deserve mediocre care or does everyone deserve the health care of royalty, free back massages, tummy tucks, costly experimental meds, you name it.  And do they deserve it to be free or paid by someone else.

To make the answer - yes - I would ask it differently, does everyone in this country deserve the right to choose and purchase health care from the same menu of choices and costs?

Does everyone deserve to live in the largest mansion?  Does everyone deserve oceanfront property? Does everyone deserve to dine in the same restaurant? Every night of the week?  No, you have to earn, save and choose the best. Or you can make other choices.  Some would rather live a block from the ocean and put the rest of the money toward something else.   Does everyone deserve admittance to the best college?  Does every golfer deserve Tiger's winnings? Does every man deserve to sleep with the planet's most beautiful woman?

We guarantee 'same' level of health care only by banning above average care. How does that make us better off?

Health Care is more equal in Europe but survival rates for the most likely ailments you could face are far worse:
"Survival was significantly higher in the United States (than Europe) for all solid tumors, except testicular, stomach, and soft-tissue cancer, the authors report. The greatest differences were seen in the major cancer sites: colon and rectum (56.2% in Europe vs 65.5% in the United States), breast (79.0% vs 90.1%), and prostate cancer (77.5% vs 99.3%),
5692  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Environmental issues on: October 05, 2008, 10:52:44 PM
"Natural oil seeps put more oil into water sources than anything humans do."

I was going to post the same in the form of a question.  The context of these spills requires knowing about spills and seepage that occur in nature without the help of man.

I agree that no one has a stronger desire to avoid the spill more than the owner of the oil.  Like airlines and crashes, oil spills are bad for business.

You can punish an oil company for spilling and you can punish a toddler for putting his hand on a hot stove, but the direct consequence is probably more effective.
5693  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Palin phenomenon - debate comments on: October 04, 2008, 02:35:44 PM
I disagree with the good comments about Gwen Ifill. She did as well as most and as well as Tom Brokaw will do, but she annoyed me at times.  No one of recent memory matches the neutrality that Jim Lehrer projects IMO.

The comments about Palin going on without directly addressing the question are true and she explained early that she would do that.  Normally that bothers me.  Given her awareness of the bias of the moderator, the limitations of time etc. I found that to be a nicer way of handling the situation instead wasting time explaining what she didn't like about a question or answering every petty attack from the opponent. The moderator is a form of filter steering the conversation just as ABC and CBS filter by choosing which clips to play from long interviews.  90 minutes in a debate sounds like enough but the candidates had a limited time to say what they wanted to say to the voters.  Palin covered her views on tax policy, energy, health care, Russia, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Israel etc. very well. Also she presented a compelling case for her top of the ticket, made important distinctions between  McCain and Obama and even made telling distinctions between Biden and Obama.

In the first Pres. debate question, the most complicated economic issue of our time was brought up, then Jim Lehrer said 'you have 2 minutes'.  What a joke! If they can't adjust rules for candidates to address the crisis and bailout of the century, then the preparations and strategies for debates have to be adjusted to the format which is a time slot barely longer than a commercial.

At the end Palin hinted to 'Joe' that she would be up for more of this, presumably meaning without Gwen Ifill and the timer.  There is no way in hell that Obama will allow Biden to do that, especially since they lead at this point in the race.  For all the complaints about not enough time, not enough answers and not enough back and forth, it's too bad that political considerations trump the public's right to know.
5694  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: October 04, 2008, 09:13:37 AM
"Lets say I don't have health care because I can't afford it. Would socialized health care be better or worse for me?"
Free lunch may taste good, but in the long view, I think you are worse off.  Just my opinion.  It really depends on how you feel about mandating someone else to pay your basic living expenses.

'Can't afford it' has two components, income and the (artificially) high cost of health care.  Poor people in America already have free health care.  It's amazing to see how they use the money they save on other things.

Why are health care expenses artificially high?  Third party pay.  There is a disconnect between the user of the service and the payer of the service that removes market spending discipline. Price is the most efficient way of allocating a scarce resource.  Unfortunately, the more important the resource the more we turn to less efficient methods.
5695  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Palin phenomenon on: October 03, 2008, 08:25:30 PM
Replying to the Biden mis-speaks in the Palin-Biden debate, thanks for the short list.  May I add something else scary he said.  Bankruptcy court should write down the interest AND THE PRINCIPLE on mortgages.  Do liberals no longer believe in binding contracts between consenting adults? In his miserable legal training did they not teach him about choice of remedies.  They are supposed to get the house back or get the money.  Why else would you call it a secured loan? Personal loans that are not secured against real estate are not tax deductible.  Did everyone just lose their home interest deduction?
5696  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race, moderator bias: "The Age of Obama"? on: October 01, 2008, 12:14:43 AM
Thursday's VP debate will be moderated by Gwen Ifill who according to Michelle Malkin is a bit invested in an Obama victory.

The title of Ifill’s book “Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama.”Release date: Inauguration Day.  Nonpartisan my foot.

Ifill’s publisher, Random House, is already busy hyping the book with YouTube clips of Ifill heaping praise on her subjects, including Obama and Obama-endorsing Mass. Governor Deval Patrick. The official promo for the book gushes:

    “In The Breakthrough, veteran journalist Gwen Ifill surveys the American political landscape, shedding new light on the impact of Barack Obama’s stunning presidential campaign and introducing the emerging young African American politicians forging a bold new path to political power…Drawing on interviews with power brokers like Senator Obama, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, Vernon Jordan, the Reverend Jesse Jackson, and many others, as well as her own razor-sharp observations and analysis of such issues as generational conflict and the ‘black enough’ conundrum, Ifill shows why this is a pivotal moment in American history.”

Ifill and her publisher are banking on an Obama/Biden win to buoy her book sales. The moderator expected to treat both sides fairly has grandiosely declared this the “Age of Obama.” Can you imagine a right-leaning journalist writing a book about the “stunning” McCain campaign and its “bold” path to reform timed for release on Inauguration Day – and then expecting a slot as a moderator for the nation’s sole vice presidential debate?
5697  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The electoral process, vote fraud, SEIU/ACORN et al, etc. on: September 30, 2008, 12:19:15 PM
ACORN was mentioned by Crafty in the voter fraud discussion, but not normally named by Obama as the group where he built his career community-organizing.  This group deserves its own DB topic IMO beyond its connection to the 'Obama phenomenon'.

My awareness of ACORN started with reading the fliers they give to tenants in inner city neighborhoods espousing a philosophy let's say that is different than mine, or of freedom, property rights, or individual responsibility.

On election 2004 in south Minneapolis, I had a personal run-in with them.  They tried all but physically to drag me off a roof to register and vote (in a precinct where I don't live).  They just couldn't take no for an answer.  I was refusing to tell them whether or not I had already voted asserting that it was a private matter and they kept trying to clarify that the question was whether or not I had voted, not who I would vote for.  I kept replying that I understood the question perfectly and still considered it very much a private matter.  At the point where I should have demanded they leave, I realized I was keeping them for the rest of their blockwork for as long as they cared to obsess on me.  It became quite a scene.  Quite clearly you could tell that their organization assignment was to not take no for an answer.  They wanted 100% turnout - or better...

ACORN is also tied to the mortgage meltdown as forced 'community reinvestment' anti-capitalism is part of their mission.


September 29, 2008

WHAT exactly does a "community organizer" do? Barack Obama's rise has left many Americans asking themselves that question. Here's a big part of the answer: Community organizers intimidate banks into making high-risk loans to customers with poor credit.

In the name of fairness to minorities, community organizers occupy private offices, chant inside bank lobbies, and confront executives at their homes - and thereby force financial institutions to direct hundreds of millions of dollars in mortgages to low-credit customers.

In other words, community organizers help to undermine the US economy by pushing the banking system into a sinkhole of bad loans. And Obama has spent years training and funding the organizers who do it.

THE seeds of today's financial meltdown lie in the Community Reinvestment Act - a law passed in 1977 and made riskier by unwise amendments and regulatory rulings in later decades.

CRA was meant to encourage banks to make loans to high-risk borrowers, often minorities living in unstable neighborhoods. That has provided an opening to radical groups like ACORN (the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) to abuse the law by forcing banks to make hundreds of millions of dollars in "subprime" loans to often uncreditworthy poor and minority customers.

Any bank that wants to expand or merge with another has to show it has complied with CRA - and approval can be held up by complaints filed by groups like ACORN.

In fact, intimidation tactics, public charges of racism and threats to use CRA to block business expansion have enabled ACORN to extract hundreds of millions of dollars in loans and contributions from America's financial institutions.

Banks already overexposed by these shaky loans were pushed still further in the wrong direction when government-sponsored Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac began buying up their bad loans and offering them for sale on world markets.

Fannie and Freddie acted in response to Clinton administration pressure to boost homeownership rates among minorities and the poor. However compassionate the motive, the result of this systematic disregard for normal credit standards has been financial disaster.

ONE key pioneer of ACORN's subprime-loan shakedown racket was Madeline Talbott - an activist with extensive ties to Barack Obama. She was also in on the ground floor of the disastrous turn in Fannie Mae's mortgage policies.

Long the director of Chicago ACORN, Talbott is a specialist in "direct action" - organizers' term for their militant tactics of intimidation and disruption. Perhaps her most famous stunt was leading a group of ACORN protesters breaking into a meeting of the Chicago City Council to push for a "living wage" law, shouting in defiance as she was arrested for mob action and disorderly conduct. But her real legacy may be her drive to push banks into making risky mortgage loans.

In February 1990, Illinois regulators held what was believed to be the first-ever state hearing to consider blocking a thrift merger for lack of compliance with CRA. The challenge was filed by ACORN, led by Talbott. Officials of Bell Federal Savings and Loan Association, her target, complained that ACORN pressure was undermining its ability to meet strict financial requirements it was obligated to uphold and protested being boxed into an "affirmative-action lending policy." The following years saw Talbott featured in dozens of news stories about pressuring banks into higher-risk minority loans.

IN April 1992, Talbott filed an other precedent-setting com plaint using the "community support requirements" of the 1989 savings-and-loan bailout, this time against Avondale Federal Bank for Savings. Within a month, Chicago ACORN had organized its first "bank fair" at Malcolm X College and found 16 Chicago-area financial institutions willing to participate.

Two months later, aided by ACORN organizer Sandra Maxwell, Talbott announced plans to conduct demonstrations in the lobbies of area banks that refused to attend an ACORN-sponsored national bank "summit" in New York. She insisted that banks show a commitment to minority lending by lowering their standards on downpayments and underwriting - for example, by overlooking bad credit histories.

By September 1992, The Chicago Tribune was describing Talbott's program as "affirmative-action lending" and ACORN was issuing fact sheets bragging about relaxations of credit standards that it had won on behalf of minorities.

And Talbott continued her effort to, as she put it, drag banks "kicking and screaming" into high-risk loans. A September 1993 story in The Chicago Sun-Times presents her as the leader of an initiative in which five area financial institutions (including two of her former targets, now plainly cowed - Bell Federal Savings and Avondale Federal Savings) were "participating in a $55 million national pilot program with affordable-housing group ACORN to make mortgages for low- and moderate-income people with troubled credit histories."

What made this program different from others, the paper added, was the participation of Fannie Mae - which had agreed to buy up the loans. "If this pilot program works," crowed Talbott, "it will send a message to the lending community that it's OK to make these kind of loans."

Well, the pilot program "worked," and Fannie Mae's message that risky loans to minorities were "OK" was sent. The rest is financial-meltdown history.

IT would be tough to find an "on the ground" community organizer more closely tied to the subprime-mortgage fiasco than Madeline Talbott. And no one has been more supportive of Madeline Talbott than Barack Obama.

When Obama was just a budding community organizer in Chicago, Talbott was so impressed that she asked him to train her personal staff.

He returned to Chicago in the early '90s, just as Talbott was starting her pressure campaign on local banks. Chicago ACORN sought out Obama's legal services for a "motor voter" case and partnered with him on his 1992 "Project VOTE" registration drive.

In those years, he also conducted leadership-training seminars for ACORN's up-and-coming organizers. That is, Obama was training the army of ACORN organizers who participated in Madeline Talbott's drive against Chicago's banks.

More than that, Obama was funding them. As he rose to a leadership role at Chicago's Woods Fund, he became the most powerful voice on the foundation's board for supporting ACORN and other community organizers. In 1995, the Woods Fund substantially expanded its funding of community organizers - and Obama chaired the committee that urged and managed the shift.

That committee's report on strategies for funding groups like ACORN features all the key names in Obama's organizer network. The report quotes Talbott more than any other figure; Sandra Maxwell, Talbott's ACORN ally in the bank battle, was also among the organizers consulted.

MORE, the Obama-supervised Woods Fund report ac knowledges the problem of getting donors and foundations to contribute to radical groups like ACORN - whose confrontational tactics often scare off even liberal donors and foundations.

Indeed, the report brags about pulling the wool over the public's eye. The Woods Fund's claim to be "nonideological," it says, has "enabled the Trustees to make grants to organizations that use confrontational tactics against the business and government 'establishments' without undue risk of being criticized for partisanship."

Hmm. Radicalism disguised by a claim to be postideological. Sound familiar?

The Woods Fund report makes it clear Obama was fully aware of the intimidation tactics used by ACORN's Madeline Talbott in her pioneering efforts to force banks to suspend their usual credit standards. Yet he supported Talbott in every conceivable way. He trained her personal staff and other aspiring ACORN leaders, he consulted with her extensively, and he arranged a major boost in foundation funding for her efforts.

And, as the leader of another charity, the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, Obama channeled more funding Talbott's way - ostensibly for education projects but surely supportive of ACORN's overall efforts.

In return, Talbott proudly announced her support of Obama's first campaign for state Senate, saying, "We accept and respect him as a kindred spirit, a fellow organizer."

IN short, to understand the roots of the subprime-mort gage crisis, look to ACORN's Madeline Talbott. And to see how Talbott was able to work her mischief, look to Barack Obama.

Then you'll truly know what community organizers do.
5698  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants, government's failed meddling in housing markets on: September 30, 2008, 10:52:45 AM
Fannie Mae bragged to Dems through the Black Congressional Caucus about (bad) loans made into the community that were based on race and location rather than credit worthiness and the value of the asset. That's my read on the statement in this video as the meddlers and the buffoons are caught congratulating each other about bad lending practices:

It's amazing that Republicans and objective media (an unfortunate oxymoron) can't identify the policies and the people that got us to collapse BEFORE they ask us to pay our way out.  Bush, McCain et al all put a higher priority on making nice and forging deals instead of straight talk and consequences.  Result: Bush takes the blame and the McCain candidacy is punished by association while the Obama political philosophy is a perfect match with the programs that already failed.  So we learn nothing and move on.

The "Community Reinvestment Act" should have been a welfare program subject to their own 'pay as you go rules' and transparency to the public and the taxpayer instead of fraudulently hidden and bundled with pretend private market investments.

It isn't 'affordable housing' when you put people into housing they can't afford. 

The direct result of these phony and fraudulent investments is to artificially drive up 'values' making the community that already lacks sufficient income and work ethic even LESS affordable to those not receiving the phony subsidy, like an honest homeowner who plans to pay the entire 30 year loan.

So who were these heroic politicians and what were their arguments as the congressional committees faced off with the regulators as the writing started to become visible on the wall in 2004-2005?

Maxine Waters D-Calif.: Through nearly a dozen hearings, we were frankly trying to fix something that wasn’t broke. Mr. Chairman, we do not have a crisis at Freddie Mac, and particularly at Fannie Mae, under the outstanding leadership of Franklin Raines (Obama adviser who barely avoided prosecution for fraud.)

Gregory Meeks D-NY: … I’m just pissed off at OFHEO [the regulators trying to warn Congress of insolvency at the GSEs], because if it wasn’t for you, I don’t think we’d be here in the first place. … There’s been nothing that indicated that’s wrong with Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac has come up on its own … The question that then comes up is the competence that your agency has with reference to deciding and regulating these GSEs.

Lacy Clay D-MO: This hearing is about the political lynching of Franklin Raines. (White House budget director under President Bill Clinton received 91.1 million from the corrupt GSE)

Barney Frank: I don’t see anything in this report that raises safety and soundness problems. (Now blames Bush and Republicans for "deregulation"!)

If I have to watch political commercials this autumn, I would like to see these sleazy characters on screen across the fruited plain in their own words, not just letting a few videos stay hidden on right wing internet sites.

PMI - Private Mortgage Insurance - is where you charge people extra for making a loan they can already ill-afford.  As a landlord I know extremely well that charging extra to high risk applicants with lousy finances does NOT cause you to collect more money.  The AIG failure was based on this phony scheme that lenders mandated on borrowers to compensate for their own bad lending practices.  Now we own it.  Good grief.

Whenever you hear terms like GSE's Government Supported Enterprises, and Public-Private Partnerships, please holler, scream, protest, vomit and consult your own copy of the constitution to see how far we have gone astray. Which article in the constitution (not the equal protection clause) establishes the proper role of government to partner up with selected businesses to make extraordinary amounts money and pay friends and contributors bonuses before fall belly up due to the lack any semblance of profit and loss market discipline or requirement to compete to succeed.

Opponents of markets and freedom (see above) always pick out failures in the LEAST free of markets - healthcare, housing, college tuition, energy - to show that market capitalism can't be trusted and must be 'overseen' by jackasses like we see in the committee meeting video linked above.

Foreclosure, the right of the lender to take back the property, the process that politicians like Hillary, Obama, and the congress want to stop is the cornerstone of home ownership.  Without it, ordinary people could not 'own' their own home and pay for it over their income producing years.  A mortgage is a claim against the property - the right to foreclose and take back.  That right is almost non-existent with the statutory delays and restrictions from the wisdom of our 'regulators'.  The period of time a lender is forced to wait under smart regulations should be at least partly dependent on the amount of equity ownership that the borrower paid or accumulated.  In cases where the borrower has NO money at stake and the lender is carrying all the risk, the grace period for missing a payment should be measured in minutes.  Then out they go.  JMHO.
5699  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: September 24, 2008, 10:59:55 AM
"The Republican Party ...mass voter-registration challenges and thereby offers a powerful opportunity to suppress the vote in Democrat-leaning districts."

A challenge to my voter registration would be met swiftly with proof of identity, eligibility and residency to vote.  I don't know Macomb County, but the story also refers to Wisconsin which has been victim of massive voter fraud operations and razor thin Democratic victories.  What is cynical about attacking known fraud.  Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Inquiry finds evidence of fraud in election
Cast ballots outnumber voters by 4,609

Investigators said Tuesday they found clear evidence of fraud in the Nov. 2 election in Milwaukee, including more than 200 cases of felons voting illegally and more than 100 people who voted twice, used fake names or false addresses or voted in the name of a dead person.

Officials said charges will be filed in coming weeks, as individual cases are reviewed and more evidence is gathered.

Nonetheless, it is likely that many - perhaps most - of those who committed fraud won't face prosecution because city records are so sloppy that it will be difficult to establish cases that will stand up in court.

And even now, three months after the investigation, officials have not been able to close a gap of 7,000 votes, with more ballots cast than voters listed. Officials said the gap remains at 4,609.

5700  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Obama Phenomena on: September 18, 2008, 09:32:11 AM
Thanks for posting links to Michelle's thesis.  They did a nice job of getting this out without fanfare; this has been available since March? I read it along with the commentary. Overall, it is a very boring read.  It is mostly a math study trying to find relationships among a number of variables she created.  The main impression I get is that the student had to make up a study about something so a lot of tedious writing is just the course requirement.  If all this was out of genuine curiosity I would scared about how race obsessed it is.  I don't know anything about race at Princeton at that time but it strikes me as odd that everything is black or white, not Asian, Arab or Hispanic for example.  Of course that would have made the study more complex but it seems everyone non-black is called white.

When blacks assimilate and join whites in society, she would still call it white culture, not mixed.

One main curiosity in the study is how a variety of variables affect the motivation of Princeton educated blacks to go back and help lower class blacks in black neighborhoods.  Not much is concluded. The political question would be how you would help lower class blacks but that is not part of the study.

In getting to know the Obamas, the next thing I would like to study is Barack's teachings of constitutional law.  I know Crafty studied law under a supreme court justice and I studied economics under the chief economic adviser to Presidents Kennedy and Johnson, it is fascinating to hear people of history or of the future first hand.  I would like to learn about the content of the lectures of Prof. Obama.  I have heard they were not controversial but still I would like to look for clues in his teachings about how he would find Chief Justice Roberts unsuitable for example.
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