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5651  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The all-powerful government: Fuel standards killed GM on: July 05, 2009, 01:59:57 PM
We killed it, now we own it?  Some bad nightmare twist off of the Powell Doctrine? 

"Will President Barack Obama provide Detroit auto makers with even more subsidies to pay CAFE fines?"

Economist Alan Reynolds in the Wall Street Journal points out some pretty obvious realities about GM and federal regulations that Obama's Treasury Secretary - or is it Secretary of Socialized Industries - didn't notice or advise his boss.

Fuel Standards Are Killing GM


General Motors can survive bankruptcy far more easily than it can survive President Barack Obama's ambitious fuel economy standards, which mandate that all new vehicles average 35.5 miles per gallon by 2016.

The actual Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) results will depend on the mixture of fuel-thrifty and fuel-thirsty vehicles consumers choose to buy from each manufacturer -- not on what producers hope to sell. That means only those companies most successful in selling the smallest cars with the smallest engines will, in the future, be allowed to sell the more profitable larger pickups and SUVs and more powerful luxury and sports cars.

Sales of Toyota's Prius, Yaris, Corolla and Scion, for example, allow and encourage Toyota to market more Lexus 460s, Sequoia SUVs and Tundra pickups in the U.S. without incurring fines. Hyundai's success selling Accent and Elantra compacts allows it to sell 368-horsepower Genesis sedans.

Similarly, Ford has the Toyota-licensed hybrid Fusion and will soon produce the European Ford Fiesta in Mexico. Chrysler will soon have Fiats. But what does GM have?

No independent reviewer suggests that the Chevy Aveo and Cobalt are credible contenders in the small car field. Even the president's auto task force finds the electric Chevy Volt "unviable," since it will lose money unless priced above a Cadillac CTS. The Opel-engineered 2011 Chevy Cruze will face tough competition from Asian cars whose reliability is better established. Launching such new models will be even tougher in the future, now that GM has lost control of Opel.

GM accounted for about 19% of vehicle sales so far this year, but the company had a much smaller share of the market for small cars and SUVs (which accounted for 20% of total sales through May). To continue offering a Toyota-like array of larger cars and trucks under ever-tighter CAFE rules, GM would have to capture a much larger share of the market for small and/or diesel-powered vehicles. Unfortunately, European and Asian car makers have decades more experience building reliable subcompact cars and diesel engines for their local markets -- where consumers face steep taxes on gasoline and large engines.

General Motors does produce competitive cars and trucks, but not one of them is small. Consumer Reports recommends three GM cars and three GM trucks. The recommended cars are the Chevy Malibu (the unrecommended hybrid has been dropped), the large Buick Lucerne and the Cadillac DTS. Consumer Reports recommends the Chevy Avalanche and Silverado and the GMC Sierra trucks. Car enthusiast magazines insist on adding Camaro, Corvette and the 556-horsepower Cadillac CTS-V to that list.

Among those nine best GM vehicles, only the four-cylinder Malibu achieved as much as 25 mpg in Consumer Reports testing. The others get 12-17 mpg, yet they are no less fuel-efficient than comparable foreign brands. The Environmental Protection Agency rates the mileage of the Toyota Sienna van and Nissan Titan pickup as worst in their class, and comparable Chevys as best. Unlike GM, however, Japanese car companies sell enough small cars to offset the large and thus hold down the average figures.

General Motors is likely to become profitable only if it is allowed to specialize in what it does best -- namely, midsize and large sedans, sports cars, pickup trucks and SUVs. The company can't possibly afford to scrap billions of dollars of equipment used to produce its best vehicles simply to please politicians who would rather see GM start from scratch, wasting more taxpayer money on "retooling" to produce unwanted and unprofitable subcompacts and electric cars. The average mileage of GM's future cars won't matter if nobody buys them.

Politicians are addicted to CAFE standards because they create an illusion of doing something sometime in the future without voters experiencing the slightest inconvenience in the present. Tighter future CAFE rules will have no effect at all on the type of vehicles we choose to buy. Their only effect will be to compel us to buy larger and more powerful vehicles from foreign manufacturers. Americans will still buy Jaguars, but from an Indian firm, Tata, rather than Ford. They'll buy Hummers, but from a Chinese firm, Tengzhong, rather than GM. The whole game is a charade; symbolism without substance.

As a matter of practical politics, rescuing GM from strangulation by CAFE will require offering economically literate environmentalists a greener alternative, i.e., one that works. Luckily, the government has two policy tools that, with minor modifications, really could discourage people from buying the least fuel-efficient vehicles.

One is the federal excise tax on "gas guzzlers," which could take some fun out of the horsepower race except that it applies only to cars, not to SUVS, vans and trucks. Why not apply this tax to all types of gas guzzling vehicles? Owners of trucks used for business could deduct the tax in proportion to miles used for business, as they do with other vehicular expenses. Phase it in after 2011 to encourage buyers to snap up the unsold inventory of gas guzzling trucks quickly -- a timely "stimulus plan."

Second, the federal fuel tax is highest on the most efficient fuel (diesel) and below zero on the least efficient fuel (ethanol). Cars get about 30% better mileage on diesel than on gasoline, and cars running mainly on gasoline get about 30% better mileage than they would using 85% ethanol.

To stop distorting consumer choices, simply apply the same 24-cent-a-gallon federal tax to gasoline and ethanol as we do to diesel. This would add funds to the depleted federal highway trust. More importantly, it would remove an irrational tax penalty on buying diesel-powered cars -- arguably the most cost-effective way to improve mileage without reducing car size or performance.

These two proposals are a greener alternative to CAFE, because they'll work. But they'll only work if Congress totally and permanently abandons the charade of CAFE. It is arguably worthwhile to accept a modest tax increase in exchange for an end to harmful regulations, but that exchange is effective precisely because it is not painless.

Unifying fuel taxes and broadening the excise tax on gas guzzlers makes sense as an alternative to CAFE. Otherwise it's just more pain with no gain.

If politicians insist on tightening fleet average mileage standards for bankrupt auto companies, how could those rules be enforced? The only penalty for violating CAFE rules is a big fine. If consumers keep refusing to buy enough small cars from GM and Chrysler to allow them to meet the CAFE rules, how are those companies expected to pay the fines?

The government is already planning to spend about $50 billion bailing out General Motors plus $7 billion for Chrysler. Will President Barack Obama provide Detroit auto makers with even more subsidies to pay CAFE fines?

Maybe so. That would be only slightly more bizarre than current plans to bribe folks with $4,500 to sell their "clunkers," or to offer huge tax credits to those rich enough to buy a $73,000 hybrid Cadillac Escalade or an $88,000 Fisker Karma.

The bottom line is that CAFE standards are totally unenforceable and ineffective. Regardless of how much damage the rules do to GM and Chrysler, Americans can and will continue to buy big and fast vehicles from German, Japanese, Korean, Chinese and Indian car companies. CAFE standards might just be another foolhardy regulatory nuisance -- were it not for the fact that they could easily prove fatally dangerous for any auto maker overly dependent on the uniquely overregulated U.S. market.
5652  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: July 05, 2009, 01:30:17 PM
A competing Democrat operative once said of the Clintons that they lie with such ease.  Now it is the Obamas.  We are told that there is no harm to let a "public option" compete with "private" options.  "No one is going to lose their current health plan if they choose to keep it."  Of course the elephant in the room is that the public option is subsidized by the taxpayer to the tune of trillions.  That's why private options won't be able to compete.

Here is David Axelrod on Meet the Press last week saying there will be no subsidy:
"Look, we believe strongly in, in a public choice; not one that's subsidized by the government, but one that will embrace the best practices, that will reduce healthcare costs and give people the best quality care."

Someone help me out here.  If there is no subsidy and no unfair advantage, what the hell do we need the government for to create it?  It will cost the taxpayer nothing(?), it has to paid for, no taxes are going up (except on the wealthiest among us) and it won't have any unfair advantage over private choices.  (Please weigh in here if you believe them.)

Of course they are lying.  All of the above are true.  It will be subsidized.  All government programs are.  Taxes will be raised even on the brokest among us.  Private choices will be squeezed out.  Costs will go up, not down.  Quality will suffer. Waiting will be the norm.  And turning back will be next to impossible.
5653  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: July 05, 2009, 12:00:14 PM
Crafty from Russian thread: "To harp on a point I have made several times before, in the 2004 election even his weenie opponent was calling for expanding the US military by 50,000 troops-- but Bush-Rumbo, still too proud to admit that what was going on in Iraq was more than a bunch of Saddamite remnants, refused to admit that we needed to expand our military."

Not fully disagreeing but adding my comment from armchair to armchair...

Some lessons of the Iraq war are still unknown IMO.  The beginning of the war was impressive.  The execution of the surge was truly amazing.  The part in between was brutal.  The consequences of rushing our exit are unknown at this point.

Obviously we would like to have won faster with less damage.  For sure, plenty of mistakes were made, big ones.

My main thought is that I don't believe with any certainty that a surge could or would have had the same success if only it had been ordered earlier.  The strategy and success was built on information/intelligence/knowledge on the ground that we didn't necessarily have earlier.  Unfortunately we didn't know who was blowing up Mosques and setting explosives for American troops until they blow up Mosques and set off road bombs, repeatedly, and until our troops developed relationships and trust with witnesses and civilians enough to tell us what they know about the insurgents and locations.

The small footprint, 100,000 in a country of 25 million, limited our ability to get the job done, but a larger footprint might also have flailed away in the early insurgency. A larger footprint would have meant more targets early on for the enemy, possibly more loss of American life during the worst parts of the war, and perhaps more collateral Iraqi civilian damage, turning them even more against us.  In other words, to have gone stronger - earlier - with the wrong strategy would have had its own consequences.

I blame others more than I blame Bush-Rumsfeld.  I blame our so-called allies who for the most part were absent, starting with Turkey who IIRC blocked a key entry/supply route right from the beginning.  I blame our domestic opposition who while troops were in harm's way were constantly sending the message that the American commitment was fragile and temporary.  Our troops fought through the domestic political bullshit bravely, but the enemy was certainly energized by it, causing more loss of life on both sides than was otherwise necessary.   And I blame our media for the same.  They overplayed the death toll and terror accomplishments of the enemy (was a ground war in the heart of the middle east supposed to be easy?) and they missing the real story line (Michael Yon was almost the sole exception to this) of what a brave, amazing, wonderful and historic accomplishment we were actually in the process of achieving by deposing this thug and leaving behind a republic if they choose to keep it.  JMHO.
5654  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Amercian Creed / Limited Government: Government Motors continued on: July 04, 2009, 08:14:45 PM
U.S. Govt. sets out to design more efficient cars, picking winners and losers.  Whatever happened to level playing field and equal treatment under the law?  Let's see...we own GM, these contracts are to Ford, Nissan and Tesla.  Can you imagine having a financial interest in the auto interest and NOT having a lobbyist well-connected in the Obama administration? Just as the founders envisioned it all...  sad

U.S. to Start Financing Efficient Car Design

Published: June 23, 2009

After months of uncertainty, the Energy Department is beginning to lend money from a $25 billion loan program to develop fuel-efficient cars. Ford Motor Company, Nissan Motor Company and Tesla Motors are slated to get the first round of loans.

Energy Secretary Steven Chu is scheduled to make the announcement of the loans on Tuesday, according to several wire service reports that quoted unnamed sources. Absent from the loan program are General Motors and Chrysler, two companies that have asked for billions of dollars in loans, but are prevented from receiving aid under terms of the program because they do not qualify as “financially viable” companies.

Ford will receive $440 million to help convert a Michigan sports-utility factory to build small cars. The company, as recently as late last year, had sought a total of $11 billion from the program as part of a seven-year program to invest $14 billion in advance technologies.

Ford has plans to bring a battery-powered car to market in 2010, and other models by 2012. Ford had previously announced plans to seek federal loans to convert three large plants that make large trucks and S.U.V.’s into making smaller, more fuel-efficient cars.

The Energy Department program had been closely watched within the auto industry and Congress. It is one of the one of the few avenues of federal aid to build a new generation of fuel-efficient and battery-powered vehicles.

Uncertainty over the financial condition of General Motors and Chrysler slowed the program. About 75 companies, ranging from start-ups to the Big Three, had applied, asking for a total of $38 billion.

General Motors had said that the $8.3 billion it was seeking would be used for the development of the Chevy Volt, a plug-in hybrid car. Chrysler had been asking for $5 billion. Both companies had been lobbying heavily for the money.

While the program was restricted to American automakers, Nissan submitted a plan for one of its American plants. The amount received by Nissan was not disclosed. Nissan is developing an all-electric car with 100 miles of battery range for release in 2010. The car is to be made in Japan initially, but eventually it would be built in Nissan’s plant in Smyrna, Tenn.

With Korea, Japan and China making advances in battery technology, there are concerns that if the United States does not make breakthroughs in this area, it will cede the electric-car market to foreign competitors.
5655  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Energy Politics & Science on: July 04, 2009, 08:00:18 PM
Raising energy costs will boost job growth? Newt has a nice way of pointing out what to me seems obvious.  Why don't they tell us that destroying the economy as we know it is worth it to save the planet instead of telling us with a straight face that the largest tax increase in history is a jobs, jobs, jobs bill?
Newt Gingrich: Cap-and-Trade is another way of saying 2+2=5

By: Newt Gingrich
Examiner Columnist | 6/26/09 6:44 AM

The Obama White House has spent the week furiously working to convince its fellow Democrats in Congress to support the global warming bill that's before the House today. Former Vice President Al Gore has been working the phones, and there was even a luau at the White House last night.

The question that must be asked, however, is why? If the case is closed on man's role in causing climate change, as the left assure us that it is, then why the need to twist Democratic arms to do something about it?

My guess is it has something to do with 2+2=4.

This simple arithmetic - 2+2=4 - was a rallying cry during the Polish Solidarity freedom movement in the 1980s. It meant that, even though the government would try to tell the people that 2+2=5, to be free, the people had to tell the truth, that 2+2=4. Because to deny the truth was to deny reality, and to do that was to surrender freedom to the government.

Something similar is happening with the global warming bill.

The sponsors of the global warming bill, which is known as Waxman-Markey, are telling Americans that not only will the legislation save us from calamitous climate change, it will also produce new jobs and new prosperity by transitioning America to new forms of "green" energy.

In other words, under Waxman-Markey, there's no trade-off necessary to save the planet; no price to be paid. It's a win-win-win.

Right. And 2+2=5.

The reality is that the bill before the House today imposes what could be the largest tax increas
5656  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Environmental issues: Treason to be unalarmed ?? on: July 04, 2009, 07:49:34 PM
We know the earth will warm 9 degrees this century because of the 1/2 of 1 degree of warming last century. ?

We know there will be continuous acceleration of future warming because of the uninterrupted warming in the past.  Oops, it was erratic, inconsistent and unexplainable in the past.

We know all alarmism is true because all scientists say so.  Except for these 700+ or these 31,000:

Without further adieu, in the absence of two-sided heated debate here I give Paul Krugman calling for the stoning to death of all moderate skeptics who may happen to think differently than him:

Op-Ed Columnist  New York Times

Betraying the Planet

Published: June 28, 2009

So the House passed the Waxman-Markey climate-change bill. In political terms, it was a remarkable achievement.

But 212 representatives voted no. A handful of these no votes came from representatives who considered the bill too weak, but most rejected the bill because they rejected the whole notion that we have to do something about greenhouse gases.

And as I watched the deniers make their arguments, I couldn’t help thinking that I was watching a form of treason — treason against the planet.

To fully appreciate the irresponsibility and immorality of climate-change denial, you need to know about the grim turn taken by the latest climate research.

The fact is that the planet is changing faster than even pessimists expected: ice caps are shrinking, arid zones spreading, at a terrifying rate. And according to a number of recent studies, catastrophe — a rise in temperature so large as to be almost unthinkable — can no longer be considered a mere possibility. It is, instead, the most likely outcome if we continue along our present course.

Thus researchers at M.I.T., who were previously predicting a temperature rise of a little more than 4 degrees by the end of this century, are now predicting a rise of more than 9 degrees. Why? Global greenhouse gas emissions are rising faster than expected; some mitigating factors, like absorption of carbon dioxide by the oceans, are turning out to be weaker than hoped; and there’s growing evidence that climate change is self-reinforcing — that, for example, rising temperatures will cause some arctic tundra to defrost, releasing even more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

Temperature increases on the scale predicted by the M.I.T. researchers and others would create huge disruptions in our lives and our economy. As a recent authoritative U.S. government report points out, by the end of this century New Hampshire may well have the climate of North Carolina today, Illinois may have the climate of East Texas, and across the country extreme, deadly heat waves — the kind that traditionally occur only once in a generation — may become annual or biannual events.

In other words, we’re facing a clear and present danger to our way of life, perhaps even to civilization itself. How can anyone justify failing to act?

Well, sometimes even the most authoritative analyses get things wrong. And if dissenting opinion-makers and politicians based their dissent on hard work and hard thinking — if they had carefully studied the issue, consulted with experts and concluded that the overwhelming scientific consensus was misguided — they could at least claim to be acting responsibly.

But if you watched the debate on Friday, you didn’t see people who’ve thought hard about a crucial issue, and are trying to do the right thing. What you saw, instead, were people who show no sign of being interested in the truth. They don’t like the political and policy implications of climate change, so they’ve decided not to believe in it — and they’ll grab any argument, no matter how disreputable, that feeds their denial.

Indeed, if there was a defining moment in Friday’s debate, it was the declaration by Representative Paul Broun of Georgia that climate change is nothing but a “hoax” that has been “perpetrated out of the scientific community.” I’d call this a crazy conspiracy theory, but doing so would actually be unfair to crazy conspiracy theorists. After all, to believe that global warming is a hoax you have to believe in a vast cabal consisting of thousands of scientists — a cabal so powerful that it has managed to create false records on everything from global temperatures to Arctic sea ice.

Yet Mr. Broun’s declaration was met with applause.

Given this contempt for hard science, I’m almost reluctant to mention the deniers’ dishonesty on matters economic. But in addition to rejecting climate science, the opponents of the climate bill made a point of misrepresenting the results of studies of the bill’s economic impact, which all suggest that the cost will be relatively low.

Still, is it fair to call climate denial a form of treason? Isn’t it politics as usual?

Yes, it is — and that’s why it’s unforgivable.

Do you remember the days when Bush administration officials claimed that terrorism posed an “existential threat” to America, a threat in whose face normal rules no longer applied? That was hyperbole — but the existential threat from climate change is all too real.

Yet the deniers are choosing, willfully, to ignore that threat, placing future generations of Americans in grave danger, simply because it’s in their political interest to pretend that there’s nothing to worry about. If that’s not betrayal, I don’t know what is.
5657  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: July 03, 2009, 08:55:11 AM
The Washington Post escapade reminds me of the Mark Sanford tryst.  The Post 'journalists' worked so hard for so long to build their own power and contacts in the rising leftist movement and they worked so hard to achieve the mutual adoration of the hate-America crowd that now take offices as high officials in the Obama administration and they feel so unappreciated for all that they have accomplished, with so many people just reading their content on the internet for free, taking their hard work for granted, with classified money lost to craigslist and their beautiful Sunday edition sold out to the grocery coupon high bidder, who would not lust for the money, power and glamour of selling these contacts to the CEOs that could actually cash in the new multi-trillion dollar boondoggle that they worked so hard to create?  Caught up in the excitement they forgot it might look bad once exposed.

It is very telling of the bankrupt newspaper business today that within the publisher's staff after just 6 months of the Obama administration NO ONE could either remember that they were supposed to maintain at least a public facade of neutrality or no one had the nerve to point that out to the boss before the invitations went out.  Unbelievable.
5658  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Energy Politics & Science on: July 03, 2009, 08:36:41 AM
Guinness, great post regarding wind. I am not against wind energy it's just important to keep in perspective that as we increase our investment in it, hopefully private and voluntary, that it will continue to make up closer to 1-2% of thepower on the future grid.  That means 98% of our focus should be elsewhere. 

It is a tragedy that natural gas is 'wasted' on electrical generation since it is so extremely valuable for other uses.  Also a tragedy is our refusal to recognize the merits of nuclear, carbon-free, powerful and safe.  We had more deaths from a one-line 19mph light rail line here in one year than in the nationwide history of nuclear power. 

If we eventually invent the holy grail car battery and move most of the transportation sector energy to the electrical grid, where then does the additional carbon-neutral energy come from, not to mention grid capacity?

I can think of only two answers, sequestered coal and clean secure nuclear energy.

Back to wind, aside from the lengthy caveats about wind, that half the country isn't windy enough, that none is produced when the wind goes down and none is produced during shut down when the wind is too strong and that they litter, obstruct and dominate the natural landscape, there is a cost factor as well.  Best estimates I have read put the cost of wind at 5-times clean coal and solar at 15-times clean coal.  Given that disparity I think it wonderful if people choose of their free will to cover their roof with energy security and invest in their own wind tower on their own land, but not a solid payoff for public expenditure.
5659  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: June 26, 2009, 01:57:53 PM
Followup to CCP's point that the number one contributor to the Democratic party is the taxpayer: Before we turn all healthcare workers in America into public workers could we please disband all public employee unions.  In the case of public employment,  there is no evil capitalist, only the will of the people, and therefore there is no underlying justification for employees to organize.

Look at the proportion of teachers union money given to Democrats and imagine the new public unions of doctors, nurses, physicians assistants, radiology technicians, etc. etc. and their demands for more and more money, shorter hours, cushier benefits combined with their political contribution clout.  Reagan won't be there to fire them when they go on strike.

Brit/former Brit? Mark Stein said last week that after national health care starts, all elections are about waiting times for service.  In other words further diluting and obscuring your ability to reward or punish them for their votes on other issues such as war, foreign policy, taxes, spending, judicial confirmations, gun control, abortion, you name it.  It all becomes about health service.

Is that what YOU want?  Not me.
5660  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Education - Costs on: June 26, 2009, 01:40:55 PM
Deep thought inspired somewhere in my readings the past couple of days - maybe it was here.

Obama and the leftist machine contend that healthcare would be better if we spent less.  Let's apply same principle to education!
5661  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Education on: June 26, 2009, 01:26:11 PM
Taxpayers pay about 30k per student for a terrible education.  An alternative is proven far better at roughly 1/5 the cost.  And we can't win this argument??!!

Figuring an average class size of 25, we are using up taxpayer money at the rate of about $725,000 per classroom.  We should be able to get a good union teacher for that.  Can't really see any room for waste or abuse (sarc.)...  sad
5662  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Why the unrest in Iran NOW? on: June 26, 2009, 12:58:54 PM
This point was already mentioned but glossed over in Tom Frieman's NY Times piece recently and made again in the piece copied below.

The unrest, demonstrations, protests and public outcry in Iran comes directly from the fact that immediately across their borders they are acutely aware that the totalitarian regime is gone, the murderous bloody dictator was hanged, and in its place is an old fashioned (new fashioned?) electoral system out of an obscure and ridiculed  idea from George Bush and Dick Cheney where politicians must campaign and compete for voter approval and citizens receive a basic human right called 'consent of the governed'.  Who knew that such a ridiculed idea could try to spread to other oppressed people in the region??

From Powerline 6/24:

Paul Rahe is the distinguished intellectual historian and professor of history at Hillsdale College. Professor Rahe is the author, most recently, of Soft Despotism, Democracy's Drift: Montesquieu, Rousseau, Tocqueville, and the Modern Prospect. If any scholarly study in the history of political thought was ever timely, Soft Despotism is it.

Professor Rahe's new book has inspired much witty and learned commentary. Mark Steyn freely draws on the book in the lead article featured in the current issue of the New Criterion. The reviews by Professor Harvey Mansfield in the Weekly Standard and by William Voegeli in NR are must reading.

Professor Rahe has forwarded us his thoughts on the events in Iran:

    I spent the mid-1980s -- when the Iranian Revolution was young, when Hossein Mousavi was the Islamic Republic's Prime Minister, and the Iran-Iraq war underway -- in Istanbul as a fellow of the Institute of Current World Affairs, writing about Turkey primarily and also about Greece and Cyprus (which I visited with some frequency). In previous years, I had closely followed events in Iran, and I continued to do so while residing nearby. I was at the time haphazardly working on a book that would bear the title Republics Ancient and Modern: Classical Republicanism and the American Revolution, and I was fascinated by the progress of a revolution that was at the time same theocratic and republican.

    I can remember thinking that the combination was likely to be unstable. The nascent regime might be led by a Supreme Leader drawn from the Shiite clergy and respected for his understanding of the Koran, and the Council of Guardians, whom he appointed, might veto legislation and carefully vet candidates for office with an eye to protecting the clerical regime, silencing its critics, and suppressing opposition. But the fact that the voters had a choice, that the candidates had to campaign, and that they had to tailor their campaigns with an eye to popular sentiment allowed in a fashion hard to circumscribe for the more or less free formation of public opinion.

    Something of the sort had taken place in ancient Athens under the rule of Peisistratus and his sons -- when the regime had been in form a republic and in reality a tyranny -- and, after the death of its founder, form asserted itself and reshaped political reality. In such a polity, semi-free elections may be necessary for the purpose of rallying popular support, but they also have the effect of confering a measure of authority on the populace and of suggesting to ordinary citizens that they have a role to play in public deliberation and in setting the polity's course. What began as a theocratic republic might easily evolve into something else. So I thought.

    In March, 2002, while on a visit to Istanbul, I had an opportunity to question an Iranian journalist as to the validity of my hypothesis. I had not been in Turkey for some years; I wanted to get a sense of what 9/11 meant in the one Muslim country I knew well; and I had been invited by another former fellow of the Institute of Current World Affairs to a dinner to which he had also invited a number of Turkish journalists.

    Michael Ledeen had been suggesting in articles published hither and yon that Iran might be on the verge of a revolution, and I began by asking my Iranian acquaintance what he thought of the likelihood. He responded that many of the men who ran the Islamic Republic had been graduate students in eastern Europe. "They know how to control a population, but they do not know how to control their own children," he observed. "There will some day be a revolution--but not any time soon. Iran will change in the manner in which China did--when a new generation comes to power."

    As I have tracked events over the last few days, I have come back to that conversation again and again. I have no idea whether my Iranian acquaintance was accurate in describing the educational background of many of the Iranian leaders, but I have long suspected that he was correct in his estimation of their ability to keep the population in line and of their inability to control their own progeny. Five things are nonetheless clear.

    First, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad did not win anything like 63 percent of the vote in the recent election. Over the last four years, he has brought Iran to the edge of economic disaster; many Iranians are fully aware of their plight; and the authorities, fearful that he would go down to defeat, rigged the entire process from the start. Second, the ruling order in Iran is bitterly split over what amounts to a coup d'état. Third, the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has put his prestige and that of the regime itself on the line. Fourth, the people of Iran are aware that they have been hoodwinked, and the Islamic Republic is now without a shred of legitimacy. And, finally, if the police and the militia should prove unable to control the crowds in Teheran, and if the Revolutionary Guard is called out and the guardsmen refuse to fire on their fellow citizens, things really will come apart.

    If the authorities manage to restore order (as, I suspect, they will), the pot will nonetheless continue to boil -- unless they resort to severe repression and purge those within their own ranks who lent support, open or tacit, to the demonstrators. But if they do this, they will at the same time seriously narrow the base of the regime's support, and that will only hasten the day of reckoning. As Reuel Marc Gerecht argues in a trenchant piece in the Weekly Standard, we are witnessing a game-changing moment.

    From all of this, the supporters of George W. Bush's policy in Iraq should draw consolation, for the elections that took place in that country under the American aegis contributed mightily to the discontent in Iran. The people of Iran were witness to the emergence within Iraq of a secular republic sponsored by an Iranian cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, possessed of an erudition and an authority rivalling and arguably surpassing that of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran. They were witness to elections that were really free and to public debate open in ways that debate within the Islamic Republic is not. Morever, in Quom, the stronghold of the Shiite clergy, the clerics who most fully command respect have long rejected, as contrary to Shiite tradition and the interest of Islam, the path of direct clerical rule pursued by Khomeini.

    Iran today looks something like England in the wake of Oliver Cromwell's death. There has been a religious revolution; it never commanded full popular support; it is now seen, even by many of its most ardent supporters, to be a failure; and there will be a scramble to attempt to sustain the polity it produced. Ordinarily, American leverage does not amount to much. In this situation, it could nonetheless be considerable. Economically Iran is on the ropes. If we keep the pressure on, following the policy of the Bush administration, the regime may in fact collapse. If, however, in the interests of stability, in the manner of the so-called "realists," the Obama administration opts to take the pressure off and, in effect, bails out Iran's bankrupt regime, it may stumble on for some years to come.
5663  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: ACTION items on: June 26, 2009, 12:49:57 PM
Marc,  Thanks for the new thread today for this.  I had the exact same thought last night and wanted to share the same plea for others to do the same.  I wrote to Rep. Collin Peterson D-MN from an address I have in his out-state district.  He is Chair of the House Ag. Committee that allegedly 'won' concessions for ethanol producers in exchange for the votes of moderate Dems in farm districts on the carbon tax.  I wrote something like:

'Please oppose the current carbon tax legislation.  If you vote with the Speaker over the People on this issue you can't know how tirelessly I will work to help defeat you in the future.  Sincerely, Doug M....'


Even more important is to defeat socialized medicine so please stay tuned, but the light switch / exhale tax is the focus today!

When Obama says he will tax only the heavy polluters he means YOU if you happen to drive or plug things into outlets.  So much for the lie about no tax increase on people making under a quarter million.
5664  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Astronomy on: June 22, 2009, 04:37:12 PM
BBG, Amazing photo!!  Curious, do they apply for a greenhouse gas permit before eruption or, like Communist China, is God excluded from Kyoto jurisdiction?
5665  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: U.S. Census 2010, Give the Govt your information? on: June 20, 2009, 03:11:23 PM
Sadly, this topic, counting Americans for representation in congress and in the electoral college, could have been included under ACORN/Voter Fraud.

If they are counting illegals and not checking citizenship, will they get increased representation?? (yes)

Should you give them any more of their private data than they already have?  The law supposedly requires you to answer all (?) of their questions.  Seems to me they only have a right to kjnow the number of people in your household.

Bachmann says she'll withhold info on census form

Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann admits she is withholding information on her 2010 census form.

She told the Washington Times she’s worried some of the information given on the form could be abused by the Association of Community Organizers for Reform Now.

The group, known as ACORN, is a community organization which fell under fire for its voter registration efforts last year.

She says the only information she’ll list is the number of people living in her household.

In an interview with The Washington Times, the Republican said the questions have become "very intricate, very personal."

Shelly Owe, a spokeswoman for the bureau, told the Washington Times Bachmann is "misreading" the law.

She sent a portion of the U.S. legal code that says anyone older than 18 who refuses to answer "any of the questions" on the census can be fined up to $5,000.
5666  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Way Forward for Reps/Conservatives/the American Creed on: June 20, 2009, 02:48:01 PM
Must steal this Milton Friedman wisdom from BBG post in the healthcare debate and apply it to all issues:

What should we do about it? Ideally, Friedman argued, we should reverse the mistake that started all the trouble... Yet Friedman was a realist. Vested interests, he recognized, would make such a radical reform impossible. Instead he believed we should seek incremental changes, asking of each proposal simply whether it would move [the issue in question] "in the right direction."
5667  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics, Is printing money inflationary? on: June 20, 2009, 02:42:25 PM
Paul Krugman of Princeton / NY Times is the icon of current liberal economics.  His criticism that the stimulus is too small gives the print and spend crowd much needed cover.  Don't be fooled by his Nobel peace prize - terrorist Yasser Arafat and appeaser Jimmy Carter each have one too!

Krugman is arguing that the plan to borrow / print 10 trillion or so in the current forecast is not inflationary, because ... well, we need the money.  Economist Alan Reynolds takes him to task in Forbes this week on his history and logic.

Krugman's Liquidity Claptrap
Alan Reynolds, 06.19.09, 12:00 AM EDT
The laureate gets his history wrong.

In his June 15 column, "Stay the Course," Paul Krugman suggests it is simply foolish to worry that the government could possibly borrow too much, or that the Federal Reserve might buy ("monetize") too much of that debt.

In a closely related blog, claiming Art Laffer is "way off base" about future inflation, Krugman insisted "for the 1.6 trillionth time, we are in a liquidity trap." That makes 1.6 trillion times he's been wrong about that.

His column says, "A rising monetary base isn't inflationary when you're in a liquidity trap. America's monetary base doubled between 1929 and 1939; prices fell 19%. Japan's monetary base rose 85% between 1997 and 2003; deflation continued apace."

A 100% increase in the U.S. monetary over 10 years (1929-1939) amounts to just 7% a year. That is scarcely comparable to the 113% increase over the past 12 months. Besides, the 1930s do not support his "liquidity trap" argument once we examine what happened when.

To say U.S. prices fell 19% from 1929 to 1939, for example, means they fell much more than 19% from 1929 to 1933 before rising from 1934 to 1937 when the monetary base was growing.

With the exception of a brief Fed easing in the spring of 1932, the U.S. monetary base was generally falling or flat from January 1929 to early 1934. From March 1934 to July 1937, by contrast, the rate of growth of the monetary base jumped above 16% on a year-to-year basis. If we had been in a "liquidity trap" that would have had no effect. Yet real gross domestic product grew by 9.5% a year from 1934 to 1937, and consumer prices by 2.6% a year. Since the facts contradict his liquidity trap thesis, Krugman pretends the rebound after 1933 was "helped along by New Deal policies."

On the contrary, Christina Romer's research clearly demonstrates that strong rebound of 1934-37 was "helped along" by a 42% increase in the money supply. She found, "monetary developments were very important and fiscal policy was of little consequence ... Even in 1942, the year that the economy returned to its trend path, the effects of fiscal policy were small."

In his blog, Krugman argues that "a Friedman-style focus on a broad monetary aggregate gives the false impression that Fed policy wasn't very expansionary. But it was; the problem was that since banks weren't lending out their reserves and people were keeping cash in mattresses, the Fed couldn't expand M2."

In any bank crises, the public wants to hold more currency rather than bank deposits, and banks also want excess reserves as insurance against bank runs. Japan's central never adequately accommodated that demand for bank reserves and currency before 2001 (if then) nor did the Fed in 1929-33. But that does not mean (as the liquidity trap implies) that monetary policy was impotent and merely "pushing on a string."

Once monetary policy stopped pulling and started pushing after 1933, both real output and prices went up. Krugman then turns to Japan from 1997 to 2003 as his second bad analogy with current Fed policy. Although Japan's "lost decade" began in 1992, Krugman starts with 1997. Why? Because Japan's monetary base grew very slowly before then. The Bank of Japan did not try even a mild dose of "quantitative easing" until March 19, 2001, and it may have helped. Economic growth was 2.7% in both 2004 and 1996, so Krugman talks only about 1997 to 2003.

Krugman's other reason for starting with 1997 is to argue that Japan's economy slipped into recession that year because the budget deficit shrunk too much. He says, "Japan experienced a partial recovery, with the economy growing almost 3% in 1996. Policy makers responded by shifting their focus to the budget deficit, raising taxes and cutting spending. Japan proceeded to slide back into recession." This Keynesian focus on deficits is untenable: Japan's budget deficit reached 10.7% of GDP by 1998--up from 4% in 1996.

What really happened is a classic example of "intertemporal shifting" to avoid a tax hike. In 1996, Japanese consumers knew the consumption tax (VAT) was scheduled to rise from 3% to 5% in April 1997. So they rushed to stock up on big-ticket items in 2006 before the tax increase. That tax-induced shopping spree artificially boosted GDP in 1996 at the expense of 1997-1999.

Even if Krugman's two historical examples of an alleged liquidity trap were not so obviously flawed, he also never managed to tie them in any way to recent events. His only (flawed) evidence of a liquidity trap in the 1930s was that "the Fed couldn't expand M2."

Yet Krugman's claim about the Fed's inability to increase M2 during liquidity traps proves for the 1.6 trillionth time that we are NOT in a liquidity trap! M2 increased by 14.8% from August to February, thus lifting M2's year-to-year increase to 9% in May from 5.3% last August.

If Paul Krugman hopes to base his sanguine inflationary forecasts and go-go policy advice on historical analogies, he needs to (1) get the history right, and (2) show how that history is comparable to recent experience. On both counts, he failed. Again.

Alan Reynolds is a senior fellow with the Cato Institute.
5668  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: June 20, 2009, 12:28:49 PM
Thank you Freki for a great post.  Bankruptcy is only bad news if you didn't already know that the firm had failed financially. 

Those who make the argument that an airline, automaker, brokerage or insurance company is too big to fail are the same ones IMO who do not understand or favor market capitalism in the first place.  President Obama to my knowledge has not read a book about free market capitalism that does not oppose it.  Same I'm sure can be said about Pelosi, Reid, Durban, Barney Frank, Ted Kennedy and the rest of the current power structure.

Failure is the lifeblood of capitalism and new growth.  It puts a market check, price check and reality check on ideas, strategies and organizations.  Out of failure comes re-priced assets and human talent free to start new and better enterprises.  The sooner failed enterprises fail, the sooner that better, more efficient and more innovative ones can emerge.

Too big to fail is a perfect description for the old Soviet economy.  There was no dynamic movement of resources and capital to its most efficient use.  By refusing to recognize failure of the large, bureaucratic, inefficient, non-competitive enterprises, they blocked the emergence of newer and better ones.  Eventually the whole house of cards came crashing down.  Every day under this regime we look more and more like them.
5669  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: June 19, 2009, 11:59:49 AM
GM wrote: "I don't see how the economy will turn out alright after Obanomics drives us into unimaginable debt... remaining axis of evil nations are running does this portend a recovery?:

I think of it as Obama-recession-I and Obama-recession-II.  

The first was caused by unaffordable global energy, the collapse of US housing market and the scares of the financial meltdown and panic to sell assets ahead of the impending anti-investment policies of the new government.  Energy has come back down quickly as a reaction to collapsed global demand (poised to spike again and kill the next recovery). Housing - still a flood of foreclosures with collapsed values but the damage is done and the remaining stock to fail is finite.  And there has been a delay for most of the impending economy-killers:  tax rates are mostly unchanged, cap/trade doubtful, national healthcare - mostly scaled back (?).  

I've read that the new spending has a 0.7 stimulation effect meaning some short term help but not worth the investment, the cost and the debt burden that follows.  The catastrophe of the new debt is tomorrow's elephant in the room, but not preventing mild recovery now.

I agree with GM's point that anti-growth policies will kill off the new recovery, but that will be a new recession/stagnation certain to follow enactment of their agenda.

Same for inflation.  As we gear up to start measuring the Obama-Misery-Index.  the first dollar bills with the Geithner picture are already being fitted for lettering that could just as well say: 'One U.S. Fifty Cent Piece'.  

Obama-Pelosi-Leftism can be slowed.  Not just by decisive midterm elections, but as Bush proved, opinion and approval polls matter.  
5670  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Issues in the American Creed (Constitutional Law and related matters) on: June 16, 2009, 12:02:32 AM
Looks to me like 49 states derive individual rights from the Creator.  Missing from the list: Vermont, District of Columbia and one poster here who believes the right of a store in suburban Paris to sell products of their own choosing, free from disruption, is derived from LA County and the 9th Circuit, not from the Creator.
5671  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tax Policy on: June 15, 2009, 11:36:32 PM
Huss, Just getting back to you...  Huss wrote: "Doug,  We do business in Brazil, India, The Republic of Georgia and Israel on a regular basis.  Right now we are quoting Aerospace work in Brazil and for the life of me, I can not get the Brazilians to commit to a long term agreement in U.S $.  The Indians just signed a contract with us in Canadian dollars and the Georgians will only take U.S $'s as a last resort..."

The dollars slide covers about the time that I have been out of exporting unfortunately.  A so-called strong dollar was a problem also.

Seems to me that if Brazilians do not want to commit to buy(?) longer term in US$ they are expressing lack of confidence in their own currency?
5672  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Food Inc. The Movie on: June 15, 2009, 11:09:49 PM
"Food Inc."  - Name implies monopoly/conspiracy but the industry exhibits all of the opposite attributes: highly competitive, productive, falling prices, intense competition, etc.

"it's easy to know where to point the finger, since the biggest meat-processing companies and agribusiness firms profiled in the film -- Smithfield, Tyson, Perdue, Monsanto -- universally declined to provide any access or on-camera interviews."  - It would appear that this is intended to be an attack film on their business.  Declining to participate after watching the chopping of Michael Moore's films like Columbine makes perfect sense to me.

"production of food has changed more in the last 50 years than it did in the previous 10,000."  -  Yes.  For the better (?)

"With the massive application of fertilizers, pesticides and economies of scale"  - It is a massive industry.  everything is massive.  Are they being wasteful?  I don't see why they would they more fertilizer or pesticide than necessary for healthy crops with expensive materials, scarce resources and low margins?

"industry dominated by a handful of big companies who run on low-wage labor"  - No. Small operators can hire low wage labor.  It is dominated by big companies because of the high cost of the machinery necessary to operate at this level of productivity and competitive profit margins.

"In one remarkable example Pollan provides, the meat in a single fast-food burger might have come from 400 different cows."  - Okay, but are the cows different?  Same genetics raised and fed the exact same way?

"This change has had obvious benefits for consumers.[the film takes pains to notice."  - Good. The Prices would be even more affordable if we weren't stealing farmland to grow energy and if we weren't artificially driving up the cost of fuel to operate food production.

"[Organic]" represents about 3 percent of the total food market."  That is the market making a choice.  " If you surmise that that 3 percent correlates strongly with upper-middle-class, college-educated folks in coastal cities and college towns, you're probably right."  - No.  The affluent in America that can afford to eat well make up a majority, not 3% and the biggest nutritional issue of the non-affluent in America is over-consumption.  They are not faced with no choices,; they are making wrong choices IMO.

"Food, Inc. will inevitably be compared to "An Inconvenient Truth" (and there are undeniable similarities)"  - From the piece, I definitely agree.  Same logic strings are used. Examples below.

Kenner explores cases of E. coli poisoning (from tainted ground beef) - Is there a higher percentage of poisoned food now than previously?  I doubt it and he didn't say.

"...a food production system that is so destructive to human health"  - We keep dying younger and younger...  Oops, it's just the opposite.  We are living longer and longer:

"When Walmart decided to stop selling dairy products from cows treated with bovine growth hormone, the market for such hormones went south, and most farmers stopped using it."  - There's a market solution.  Did low prices end with that correction?  No.

"When McDonald's decided to phase out genetically modified potatoes"  Yet they are still on they dollar menu...

"a few million people demanding grass-fed beef at Safeway, Giant Food and Food Lion could transform the system virtually overnight"  - Offer a choice or demand a prohibition?

"This inexpensive food is coming to us at a high cost."  - Uh, we still don't know that.

"what makes it all the more powerful is that you have to eat this stuff."  - Of course that is not true.  We all still have the option to raise our own food if we are so inclined.

"It’s wonderful how little it costs, but we’re starting to see the real damage it does."  - Uh no, still not demonstrated.

"And we’re having growth in farmer’s markets, and hopefully that will empower smaller farmers as well."  - Is the implied monopoly trying to close them down or are they competing successfully on price and quality?

Do people have to get their heads around the idea that food really shouldn't be as cheap as it is now?"  - The old soften the premise with a question mark trick.

"when he was a kid, food cost about 18 percent of the average American's income. Today that food costs 9.7 percent of our income. Basically it’s been cut in half over a 40- to 50-year period. But medical costs have gone from 5 percent to 18 percent, so in aggregate, we’re spending more money for medicine and for food today than we used to."  - Wow!  That is logic right out of inconvenient truth.  He should give credit to Al Gore.  Also to Obama.  The text did not say that the increased productivity in food production caused the tripling of health costs, but the cadence and the flow pretends that it did.  Very impressive, and no unnecessary scientific studies wasted to back it up, lol.

"But it's coming at a cost, and that’s one of the things that we try to point out. They're invisible costs; you might not see them at the checkout counter. One-third of all Americans born after the year 2000 are going to have early-onset diabetes."  - Wow! That came out of nowhere.  The reader smarter than me must already know that it is caused by improved food production. My guess would have been lazy lifestyles, paying people to do nothing and a more aggressive diabetes diagnostic industry.

"That's going to bankrupt the healthcare system."  - I thought he was a 'filmmaker'.  Now he is an expert on everything?

"Environmentally, we’re going to have tremendously high costs. Ultimately a large part of our carbon footprint is due to this food system."  - Environmentally we would have had to cut down and farm every rainforest on the planet to get this kind of production 'the old way'.

"This food is grown in an unsustainable way, it's based on gasoline and it’s based on pollution."   - I think he means diesel fuel but go with it...

"When gasoline prices spike, it's going to make this food very expensive."   - Gasoline is going to spike because of public policy choices, not unsustainability.

"We can no longer drink the water in some farm states."  - When was our water supply ever better than right now?  Where I live it is cleaner now than 50 years ago.

"Our topsoil has become totally depleted."  - That argument wasn't proven last time it came up either.  His use of exaggeration makes it patently false and reason to suspect other problems with the propaganda.  I can see why business people might not want to go on-camera with him.  Totally depleted??

"And this food that we’re eating has far less nutritional value than the food we used to eat..."  - Our ability to have fresh fruits and vegetables at a reasonable cost in all seasons especially in the extreme climate that I live in is nothing short of amazing!  Tell me what fresh blueberries and oranges tasted like on the Minnesota prairie in a January blizzard during the 1800s.  Were they airlifted in from California or Cenrtral America?  I don't think so.  Our choices are far better now IMO.
5673  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Limited Government on: June 12, 2009, 03:58:05 PM
Crafty,  You decide, but...

The constitution says: "promote the general welfare", which has come to mean bridge to nowhere, high speed rail, HDTV, fast internet, universal healthcare, private takings, spread the wealth around, regulating toilet flush volume and french fry fat content, freckled frog studies, borrowing in the trillions per year, and a thousand and fifty social welfare programs BEFORE W and Obama accelerated the pace.

Like you, I love the arguments over Supreme Court decisions, constitutional interpretations and what the founding fathers would think about what we have done lately.  But voters eyes seem to gloss over when we refer to the constitution in reference to things we are already doing.  Seems to me we need to sometimes argue for the concept of limited government for its own sake separate from its meaning that has long been discarded from our founding.

For example, the feds can promote the general welfare by buying up auto companies to avoid widespread job loss.  A Bush-Clinton-Obama court could rule it constitutional.  Still across the heartland it violates people's personal value of limited government which could and should politically shift the power back away from the powerful central government. JMO.   - Doug
5674  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Order of Ascendancy on: June 12, 2009, 01:20:06 PM
Thanks for compliments but I was dead serious with my Biden comment.  In my quest for more positive things to say about our President, Barack Hussein Obama, here are the top 5 reasons I toast his good health, safety and security, hoping for a full Obama term:

Order of Presidential Succession
 The Vice President:  Joseph Biden
 Speaker of the House: Nancy Pelosi
 President pro tempore of the Senate:  Robert Byrd
 Secretary of State:  Hillary Rodham Clinton
 Secretary of the Treasury: Timothy Geithner

5675  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Glibness D-Day Speech - 147 first person references on: June 12, 2009, 12:53:05 PM
Obama's "Gift" May Have a Downside
By Tom Bevan, Real Clear Politics

Barack Obama is good at giving speeches. So good, in fact, he once referred to it as his "gift." More than any other factor, Obama's rhetorical skills are responsible for his rapid rise to the presidency, beginning with his blockbuster speech at the 2004 convention and continuing through a nearly two year primary and general election campaign. Obama's penchant for soaring oratory remains a political asset, but signs are emerging there may be a political downside to all of the President's speechifying.

The first warning sign is that Obama is already pushing the limits of exposure. It seems Obama is everywhere and always speaking. It became apparent early on that the president's combination of charisma, eloquence, and popularity made it a political imperative that he become the Salesman in Chief. No other figure inside the administration had the star power and the persuasiveness to sell the transformational policy changes sought by this White House.

That said, in the first five months of his presidency Obama has held three prime time news conferences, twelve formal Q&A sessions and has delivered a number of high profile policy addresses (in addition to other exposure like interviews and appearances), each one amplified by extensive coverage by the media. The President's willingness to step inside America's living room at every possible opportunity may help cause the early onset of Obama fatigue.

Not only does Obama speak often, but his speeches also appear to be growing longer. And here we thought Joe Biden was the loquacious one. But Obama is proving the one to be incapable of brevity. The president's answers to questions at press conferences and in interviews can sometimes run upwards of five minutes of more. His remarks at daily public events can routinely run over 1,000 words. In the past month Obama has delivered 8 speeches running at least two thousand words each, including a nearly hour long address in Cairo last week and a mammoth 6,500 word discourse on national security on May 21.

Another issue is that Obama's oratory is starting to sound very formulaic. During the campaign, Obama excelled by repeating a well-honed stump speech about hope and change at hundreds of rallies across the country. Obama has adopted a similar approach as President, and the sheer volume of speeches he's given makes the pattern quite noticeable. In almost every speech, Obama bemoans the extremes on both the left and the right, predictably employing straw man arguments to discredit his opposition and position himself in the "reasonable" middle.

Lastly, Obama's speeches are often strikingly self referential. Clearly, Obama sees unique background and his life experiences as an asset and a rhetorical tool, which helps explain why his recent speech in Cairo was peppered with 68 first person references (I, me, my, or mine). But the habit carries over to other speeches as well, leaving the impression that Obama is often interested in talking about Obama.

In his speech honoring the 65th Anniversary of D-Day, for example, Obama made 10 first person references. While not a huge number in itself, it was eight more than Gordon Brown made and nine more than Stephen Harper made in their respective speeches that day. In his aforementioned national security speech on May 21, President Obama made an astounding 147 first person references.

Most important, however, Obama's high profile speechmaking on a range of big issues from restructuring GM to solving Middle East peace has dramatically increased the pressure on him to deliver results. As the Wall Street Journal put it on Monday, Obama is finding that "his own oratory laying out an ever-more-ambitious agenda, both in foreign and domestic policy, is ratcheting up demands for concrete achievements."

Obama's "gift" propelled him to the White House. He's now relying on it heavily to sell the American people on his vision of change. But at some point the public is going to get tired of hearing speeches from Obama, no matter how eloquent or well delivered. They will expect results. If Obama can't deliver those results, his "gift" will become a handicap in the form of a reputation as the president who talked the talk but couldn't walk the walk.

Tom Bevan is the co-founder and Executive Editor of RealClearPolitics.
5676  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The American Creed/Limited Government on: June 12, 2009, 12:33:50 PM
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I didn't see a topic for 'limited government' - maybe since it hasn't been pursued by either party in our lifetimes.  Could be put as 'way forward for conservatives' but even more important to me is to get reasonable Democrats to remember the value of concepts like 'limited government'.   - Doug

June 12, 2009
New Bill Ends Government-Run Companies
By John Thune

The federal government currently holds various ownership stakes in over 500 private companies. This alarming fact, along with the events of recent days in the auto industry, should serve as a wakeup call for all those concerned about preserving the free market principles upon which our nation was founded. As we have been so rudely reminded, government ownership of private companies threatens the fairness of markets, creates coercive business conditions, and allows government bureaucrats to dictate business decisions.

Government ownership interests in private companies create an uneven playing field. Companies aided by the government are given an unfair competitive advantage that private companies do not enjoy. Because of this influence, government entities distort the competitive process and lead to inefficient market outcomes which favor the government-owned entity.

Greater government involvement in private companies also fosters coercion and government manipulation. In the last six months, the federal government has fired CEOs of major corporations, intervened in advertising and production decisions, pressured businesses to make certain decisions and take certain public policy positions, and coordinated "pre-arranged" bankruptcy filings designed to reward the government's "friends." Instead of the private hand of the market guiding market activities, the cold hand of political power is shaping business decisions.

The federal government now finds itself in the strange position of owning 60 percent of General Motors, one of the nation's oldest and largest car companies, and eight percent of Chrysler. To reach this point, creditors who thought they held positions superior to other creditors were sent to the back of the line so that government-favored creditors could receive favorable treatment. Those who opposed the government-imposed solution and the outrageous division of assets were branded as trouble-making "speculators."

Now in control of several private institutions, the federal government will have the power to make management decisions. Instead of being guided by the discipline of the market, however, government owned companies are free to pursue the social goals of government bureaucrats, whether they be certain kinds of cars, loans to preferred demographics, or the latest demands of government-favored unions. Whether these experiments are unprofitable may not matter in the same way that it would for privately-owned companies. Unlike their privately owned counterparts, these government owned companies benefit from untold billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars, without any guarantee of repayment in the future.

This state of affairs sounds so strange because it is so new. The heightened degree of government control of our economy is a major deviation from our nation's free-market philosophy. From the beginning of our republic, the economic sector has largely been dominated by privately owned firms competing with one another without the government dictating how these firms should act. But with little warning, we have entered a brave new world in which a large number of private firms are now subject to government control, an economic model perhaps familiar in Europe or South America, but not the United States.

Neither the citizens of this republic nor their elected representatives in Washington voted for this degree of government control over private businesses. Instead, what was supposed to be a short-term program to relieve financial institutions of toxic assets morphed into an uncontrolled and unauthorized bureaucracy extending its tentacles into hundreds of private businesses. With no explicit vote of Congressional approval, the federal government is now in the business of running banks, insurance companies, and car manufacturers.

To stop this dangerous course of action, I have introduced the Government Ownership Exit Plan Act. This legislation would put an immediate end to government purchases of additional direct ownership interests of private companies. It would also prohibit government officials from making or influencing business decisions when it comes to the companies in which the government already has an ownership interest.

It is equally important to set an exit strategy for this unprecedented government intrusion. The Government Ownership Exit Plan sets a hard deadline for the final termination of government ownership interests in private companies and puts our economy back on the path to competitiveness and private ownership, not governmental control. The legislation would require the Treasury to sell any ownership stake in a private entity by July 1, 2010. Revenue from the sale of these assets would be used for debt reduction.

If we do not act now, government ownership of these private entities could persist for decades. If we want to once again promote free market principles and the private ownership of business, it is time to act.

Thune is a Republican Senator from South Dakota.
5677  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants on: June 12, 2009, 12:26:35 PM
CCP: "[Obama] means a lot more than hje is saying"

Scott Johnson, Powerlineblog today:
In his Rhetoric, Aristotle teaches that a good speech necessarily draws on ethos (the speaker's power of evincing a personal character which will make his speech credible), pathos (the speaker's power of stirring the emotions of his audience) and logos (argument). Paul's analysis focuses on logos to the exclusion of ethos and pathos.

Obama's flattery of his Muslim audience with historical howlers cannot be understood apart from ethos and pathos. In part the flattery supports Obama's declaration of the uncomfortable historical truth of the Holocaust. As rhetoric, Obama's falsehoods give him the standing with his audience necessary to advance a painful truth.

One cannot understand a given passage without considering its effect upon the hearers. The topic sentences of the two paragraphs of the initial passage in issue read as follows:

    Around the world, the Jewish people were persecuted for centuries, and anti-Semitism in Europe culminated in an unprecedented Holocaust.

    On the other hand, it is also undeniable that the Palestinian people - Muslims and Christians - have suffered in pursuit of a homeland.

While Obama does not himself explicitly equate the sufferings of the Jewish people with those of "the Palestinian people," the structure of the passage does so for him. And this is of course how his intended audience would hear the words. Note as well how Obama includes Christians and excludes Jews from his definition of "the Palestinian people." It is an exclusion that conflicts with history but that serves his rhetorical purposes.
5678  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: U.S. Census 2010 on: June 11, 2009, 01:07:34 PM
I don't know why the govt is allowed to ask or keep track of 90% of what they do, and then for the important matters like verifying citizenship - they don't...  Meanwhile get ready for impostors to come by (and for ACORN/Census double agents to 'share' your info)

Be cautious answering census questions
Bureau employees won't use e-mail and won't ask for Social Security or bank numbers
Thursday, June 11, 2009
By Larry Walsh, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Cooperative, but cautious.

That's the advice the Better Business Bureau is giving to consumers when they are contacted by members of the 2010 U.S. Census.

"Most people are rightfully cautious and won't give out personal information to unsolicited phone callers or visitors," said BBB President Warren King. "However, [Census Bureau employees are] an exception to the rule."

Those employees already have begun verifying the addresses of households across the country. Next, they will collect information about every person living at those addresses, including their name, age, gender, race and other relevant data.

"It's important that people provide that information," Mr. King said.

Census data is used to allocate more than $300 billion in federal funds every year. It also is used to determine the number of members each state may send to the U.S. House of Representatives.

Households are required by law to comply with the Census Bureau's request for information. Unfortunately, that mandate has opened the door for con artists who are posing as census workers and asking people for their Social Security, bank account or credit card numbers or other sensitive financial information.

Although the Census Bureau will collect information by mail, phone or personal visits, it won't use e-mail.

Those who receive an e-mail that purports to be from the Census Bureau, and the odds of receiving one are great, delete it. No matter how "official" it looks, delete it. And no one should ever click on a link or open any attachments in an e-mail that supposedly is from the Census Bureau.

Mr. King said law enforcement officials in several states have issued warnings that scammers posing as Census Bureau employees are knocking on doors and asking for donations and Social Security numbers.

How can the public tell the difference between a Census Bureau employee seeking legitimate information and a crook trying to raid their bank accounts or steal their identity?

Mr. King said census workers will have a badge, a handheld device, a census bureau bag and a confidentiality notice. Residents should ask to see their identification and badge before answering any questions.

If a visitor purporting to be from the Census Bureau asks for a Social Security number or financial information, the resident should not give it to them, should close the door and should call the local police.

"While the Census Bureau might ask for basic financial information, such as a salary range, it will not ask for Social Security, bank account or credit card numbers [and they won't] solicit donations," Mr. King said.

He said the BBB's "cooperative but cautious" campaign is part of a partnership arrangement with the Census Bureau to help it collect the most accurate information it can. The public can do its part by cooperating with legitimate Census Bureau employees and reporting the con artists to the police.
5679  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security / hacked jet on: June 11, 2009, 12:47:23 PM
My brother who is trained in avionics used to tell me that if I thought my cell phone would interfere with the planes navigation and control systems I shouldn't be flying.  Now I check email and download dbma forums to read on my handheld right up to the last minute.
I thought airliners had replaced electrical wires with fiber optics that are far lighter, more secure and zero EMI - susceptibility to electrical interference.  As I google the topic now I find that transition is not as far along as I thought:
5680  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors, glibness vs. settlements on: June 10, 2009, 01:11:04 PM
My take (even though they all wanted someone else  smiley) on this Stratfior piece - that Obama is in a position of strength and Netanyahu of weakness:  Strat is always insightful and thought provoking.  Their points are valid, but... I don't think Netanyahu puts clinging to power above clinging to his principles and his vision Israel's best interests.  Far as I know he never has. Obama is just the opposite.  He has swayed with the wind on dozens of issues and shows no sign of extraordinary backbone on this one. 

Israel lost at least part of an ally in the last 2 American elections.  Israel's strategy now is survival with or without the full support of the U.S.  The re-emergence of Netanyahu is a sign of that.

From Statfor: "[Israel] is not facing a situation like 1973, when Israeli survival depended on aid being rushed in from the United States. The technology transfer now runs both ways, and the United States relies on Israeli intelligence quite a bit. In other words, over the past generation, Israel has moved from a dependent relationship with the United States to one of mutual dependence."

To me, that is instructive.  The debate on the board recently over who needs whom the most misses the reality that the need is mutual.  Obama may not realize this yet as he learns the names of the intelligence agencies, after basketball practice and auto company board meetings.

Strat thinks Netanyahu's political survival rests on compliance with US demands.  Maybe so but a man based in principle isn't likely to cave based on opinion polls or a cling to power.  The assumption that Obama is an eternal legend with the everlasting excitement of his victory speech in Grant Park Chicago is fading.  Power dissipates with falling opinion polls.  Bush learned that.  At the peak of the exuberance, Obama won 28 states.  Bush won 31 states just 4 years earlier before losing it all in the congressional midterms 2 years later. 

Netanyahu knows about 9.4% American unemployment and that Dems in the US are starting to poll behind R's on key issues at home.  That is before the fights on cap trade taxation, nationalized healthcare, activist confirmation hearings, full year record trillion and a half dollar deficit numbers release and double digit unemployment materializing.  His 'unity' coalition includes Jewish Americans (like Rahm) working with the world's greatest haters of Jews and Israel, and independent deficit hawks voting with the world's biggest spenders.  There is plenty on Obama's plate without this fight and Israeli settlements won't be in the top 10 or top 100 issues facing his administration or the American public as he heads into his own mid-terms, nor is Middle East tranquility about to break out suddenly either way. 

Obama makes pandering appearances and statements in his photo-ops for his own sake and Netanyahu recognizes that.  JMHO.
5681  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tax Policy on: June 08, 2009, 05:03:44 PM
Huss,  I don't buy all your pessimism on the US dollar as a world currency, but we will see.  Over the decades those types of enemies and economic competitors would have abandoned the dollar at any time if they could: Russia, CHina, Brazil, Chavez, etc.  If we really do rack up deficits in the tens to twenties of trillions of dollars in the near future, our collapse will force that move.  I don't know how but someohow I think we will still wake up.

Leaving the gold standard was forced by policies and circumstances of that time, leading up to 1973.  Going back is what I think they call putting toothpaste back in a tube...

The poster cheapshotting Ireland never did return to answer the questions I asked.  Did revenues and employment increase when they went to a low tax rate strategy.  Of course they did.  Instead he points to their current troubles, but that could be said of California, once the greatest economic 'nation' on earth, or Maryland as you point out.
5682  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tax Policy on: June 08, 2009, 04:52:34 PM
CCP: "...why is it ok for certain Americans to be targeted and discriminated against and their wealth confiscated..."

Thanks CCP for great points made.

My view is that equal protection under the law, consent of the governed, and common morality would prohibit taxing income earned from different sources or by different taxpayers differently.  I don't know the case but understand that the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld our unevene tax system based on the logic that any taxpayer IF in any particular situation would be taxed the same way.  But politicians know they are targeting and pandering when they make promises to raise taxes on the 2% and not on the 98% of voters.  Voters know which people they are talking about. How does that pass anybody's test of consent of the governed?

The estate tax is the most egregious.  If we chose a system that allowed no wealth to be passed from generation to generation whatsoever,  at least pass for equal treatment under the law.  Instead we will confiscate the majority of assets from only a small minority of the taxpayers and don't even try to conceal how it aimed at so few citizens that they are powerless to oppose or stop it.

Under previous tax cuts the estate tax was phased out for 2010 but will be brought back in for 2011 at 2002 levels with exclusions as low as one million dollars and rates as high as 55%.  And that is only the federal portion of the tax.

The Pelosi-Obama leftist machine if still in power will likely tweak the estate tax limits so that it is only targeted, as your post suggests, at certain small minorities of people and excludes critical leftist electoral groups.

Compliance with constitutional and moral principles should NOT be trusted only for the courts to sort out.  That didn't work with McCain-Feingold where the court upheld limits on first amendment political speech, second amendment infringements, Japanese-American internments, public takings limits, or hosts of other encroachments.  Constitutional principles should be front and center on every issue, in every campaign and every debate IMHO.
5683  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Islamic Countries: on: June 07, 2009, 10:02:00 PM
(from Israel thread)

I will look forward to someone explaining to me how men beating up a woman for non-Muslim dress is not discrimination against non-Muslims - in a most brutal way.

One poster says a Muslim in same circumstance would receive same treatment so the beating is non-discriminatory.  UNBELIEVABLE.  An adherant Muslim would not be in the same circumstance.  That is a distinction without any meaning, a distraction and a diversion from holding that religion accountable for inhumane practices againsty many, many groups of people including non-Muslims.

Same poster: "She should have been either not there (many don't bring their wives) or educated in the proper rules and regulations before venturing off base."

5684  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: June 07, 2009, 09:15:07 PM
As a practical matter it would seem that no one - Republican or Democrat, enemy of the U.S or ally, marksman or biochemist - would prefer Joe Biden be President.
5685  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: June 06, 2009, 08:16:03 AM
Boyo,  I have found all your posts to be right on the mark.  Sorry if I sugar coated my criticism of the other poster so badly that it lost all its meaning.
5686  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: June 06, 2009, 01:03:43 AM
Boyo posted: "One unsuspecting wife (in Saudi) walked off the US compound in some capri pants (non-Muslim behavior) OOPS  .She was beaten by a group of men, with switches"

JDN actually wrote: "Sorry; she was stupid to walk around in capri pants. And the same punishment would have been meted out whether she was muslim or not...seems "fair" to me.  Hardly, a "mistreatment" of non muslims."

Repeat:  a western woman wore NORMAL western clothing, was beaten by a group of men, and that is hardly a mistreatment of a non-Muslim???

Crafty, you really want us to IGNORE that level of comment rather than react/over-react?  Besides offensive and not genuine (he also wrote: "they do seem seem to live in the dark ages), these posts are tiresome.  IMO he is just trying to bring down the conversation; these posts don't fit anyone's pursuit of the truth.
5687  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tax Policy on: June 03, 2009, 10:50:50 PM
"Odd you bring up Ireland"

No you brought up Ireland but perhaps you didn't read YOUR post?  Then cheapshot me and don't answer either followup question. 

"as of yesterday the EU reported an unemployment rate of 9.2%; hardly "double" that of ours"

Apparently didn't read my post either.  We are copying their failed systems and getting similar results.

Once again I regret the time invested.  Shame on me.
5688  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: June 03, 2009, 10:41:26 PM
Who is/are the biggest donors to the democratic party?" "Anyone care to guess"

Rich Limosine Liberals?  White Guilt? Second and third generation wealth? Buffet, Soros, rich movie directors like Al Gore and Spielberg?

Recently appointed interim Senators and their families?

Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae? Lehmann Brothers? LOL

The PRC, DPRK, PSUV, KGB, and the PLO??
5689  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tax Policy on: June 03, 2009, 03:39:25 PM
"Never said the tax code was "simple" "  - Oh? To this reader it read: 'Reynolds wrong, here are the correct rates'.

"it wasn't taxes and regulation that sunk them(General Motors); it was bad management and a poor product" - Likewise, never said it was, though interesting that all seemed to fail simultaneously indicating that it wasn't just a couple of flawed individuals.  Business regulations and tax compliance were among the big burdens they had to carry, even at the zero income tax level.  The 2 things that really brought them down IMO were the regs banning most new production of oil and gasoline and the bizarre relationship with labor where a company pays healthcare (among other things)for ten times as many people as it employs while the feds keep inventing new mandates (family leave?)  $4 per gallon on vehicle manufacturers that make most of their money on SUVs and trucks was a killer and prices higher than that are certain to come back.  But now they are little more than a government agency while we mandate they build vehicles they are not good at building, that consumers don't want and that don't turn a profit.  I digress but was the power granted for that in Article II - or WTF?

Yes, as we discussed federal corporate income tax rates I knew you would measure something different to prove you right (?) since that taxrate is second highest in the developed world.  So you find another study making a different measurement finding the US to be exactly average... sad

We come at this from different points of view, you from your point of view and me believing in American exceptionalism - at least up through November 2006.  I wonder what the founding fathers would think of taxation rates here on business that compare with state-run economies and stagnant social democracies at levels near 50%, before they are double, triple and quadruple taxed, and "exactly average" with the systems we tried so hard to not become.  To find just one tax rate higher than a state run, oppressive, communist(?) country is shocking and shameful.  I would hope it strikes others that way as well.

Even JDN admits he would not want to see the rate go higher for the damage it would do. Quite a change in just a couple of days: "don't know if that is too high or too low". (Am I that persuasive or ?) Does that not mean that even in your estimation we are at or near a point where lower rates would bring in greater revenues?  If so then what is the advantage of the higher rates , other than scaring evil employers out?

Curious, did Ireland bring in more or less revenue and did it bring in more or fewer employers when it decided to become a low marginal tax rate state?

And for the stagnant social democracies of western Europe that we wish to emulate, do we also strive to attain their levels of unemployment as well - that have been historically double ours? 

If so, we are making good progress.
5690  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tax Policy, adjustments and tax rates on: June 03, 2009, 10:24:01 AM
"How can you make "logical adjustments missed in the tax code" if we are discussing the marginal TAX rate?"

Reynolds is aware of nominal tax rate tables, lol. No one argues that.  The tax rates from the tables are applied to income or as you say - profits.  The table you pasted took up a paragraph of space and the tax code takes 7500 pages.  You will find if you look that there is substantial disagreement over the ever-changing government definition of business income.  I wonder how many changes have been enacted since my business school accounting taught us that corporations must always keep at least 2 sets of books...

For example, the first 'Bush tax cut' repeal from the Pelosi-Obama congress took effect in 2008 and had to do with favorable depreciation treatment in the tax code for capital equipment investments.  Like it or not, that has the effect of a change in the marginal tax rate if you compare apples with apples for the same measurements of previous years, without rewriting the tables.

America's corporate tax rate is second highest to Japan in the developed world.  While you refer back to verify that, China was lowering theirs.

We also 'tax' corporations with our plethora of regulations, some helpful and some not, but all requiring teams of lawyers, lobbyists and accountants that are not involved involved in production, marketing or innovation.

Before you tell us again how simple it all is, please post all the rules that go with the tables and all the rates, adjustments and exclusions of the 50 states along with the federal and state individual tax rates that the share owner must also pay in order to see a spendable dime in return for his or her ownership investment in a c-corp.
Not a great example, but even a one man senate candidate couldn't figure it out:
"tax experts say the accountant should have known that Franken needed to pay taxes in the 19 different states where Franken earned money in the last four years." Of course the rules, rates and adjustments are different in each one.  Same goes for Geithner and Daschle, much less GE or the former General Motors.  I wonder what tax and regulation compliance costs General Motors paid in order to make a ZERO profit these last several years.  What is the marginal tax rate on profits there??! Infinite and unmeasureable.
5691  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Politics of Health Care - the meeting was closed to reporters on: June 03, 2009, 09:37:47 AM
Huss notes the meaninglessness of Obama's positions in the campaign to his own positions now.  Unbelievable how many times on so many topics that has already happened, starting with when he joked (?) about things said in a campaign when he appointed Hillary to be Sec. of State.

I was most struck by a phrase tucked at the end of the AP story:

"... Obama said before the meeting was closed to reporters" !!!

When it was the old Hillary task force or when it is the new leftist machine, they do that to get things done for the American people.  When it was Cheney trying to develop a proposal for energy production so that the economy would not collapse in 8 years (whoops), it was black helicopters and evil conspiracies. 
5692  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Foreign Policy on: June 02, 2009, 11:20:04 PM
CCP correctly notes the berating of the US in glibness speeches.  I would add the hypocricy of acknowledging Iran's need for nuclear power generation while denying ours.
5693  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tax Policy, Alan Reynolds analysis on: June 02, 2009, 11:14:41 PM
Guinness posted and Crafty agreed that Alan Reynolds is insightful and well respected.  Our usual critic pretended to refute Reynolds analysis by posting nominal tax tables.  Believe it or not nominal tables do not tell the whole story, hence the need for a whole case of printer paper if you care to see tax tables in context.

Reynolds was clear in what he was measuring:  "Profits from current production (corporate profits with inventory valuation and capital consumption adjustments)"

Crafty wrote: "he may be taking into account other taxes e.g. state taxes, as well."

No, I believe that Reynolds is making logical adjustments missed in the tax code and saying the federal corporate taxes increase ate up 74% of new profits.  Then the rest of that gets chopped with double, triple and quadruple taxation when you figure in state corporate tax, federal individual and state individual taxes.

One confused poster wrote, regarding US corporate tax rates: ""I don't know if that's too high or too low"...

If we want to compete for production (and jobs, income, etc.) in a global economy - it's too high!

For comparison, Eastern Europe's rates are lower. Western Europe's rates are lower.  Even Communist China's rates are lower and they reduced them further in 2008.
5694  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Legal issues: Living without consent of the governed on: June 02, 2009, 01:17:49 PM
I condemn the murder of the abortionist.  May he face the full penalties of the law including death penalty if available. 

Beside the crime, he hurts his own movement, encouraging drivel like this: "anti abortion groups.  A rather cold blooded and vicious lot...Lock them all up; for a very long long time."  - Lock up whom? The ones who killed an abortion doctor (we already do that) or the ones who are trying to save lives?

"A late term abortion doctor praying in a church produces in me a deep sense of cognitive dissonance."

I've shed not a tear yet for the late term abortionist, but his life would have been saved IMO if we lived under one of our own pretend principles called 'consent of the governed'.  As posted elsewhere, no serious anti-abortion law has EVER been proposed that does not make exception for protecting the life of the mother.  Assuming the killer's objective was to save innocent life, he would not feel driven to murder, so powerless in the democratic process if there was a possibility in his state to even debate, lobby or petition the government for the right to protect innocent human life from slaughter.

Instead that issue is determined for us by the likes David Souter et al posing as royalty for life, like a third world country.  They even time their departures to allow for the continuation of their agenda with 'policy makers' that cannot be recalled by election and will not answer anything in confirmation that resembles a 'litmus test'.

Regarding the church, offering forgiveness for sins on Sunday for those who then continue their lawful killing on Monday through Friday, may I refrain from posting my view of how the late term abortionist will be judged when he meets his maker.

Sorry I didn't follow the argument about which one of these guys was a martyr.  One kills at least in his mind the guilty to stop the killing of innocent human life, and these are not gobs of goo or embryos.  These are formed, small humans with unique DNA and beating hearts but 'the law' from the liberal elites does not allow any legal means to pursue their protection.  The other was also a martyr, bless his soul, killing to protect the right of the mother to not be forced give birth to a baby, defective or unwanted by her.  The baby is killed inside the womb because a 'legal issue' is created if you remove from the womb first and then kill it.  Also the gruesome procedure allows them to shrink the killed, late term 'little one' to make the procedure easier for the doctor and 'the mother'.

As we judge a wrong and a wrong after removing the issue from legitimate debate in the political arena leaving only street 'justice', we might also take a look at the kill ratios of the 2 martyrs. One killed once wrongly, and the other M-F by occupation.

Regarding prosecution ratios, I don't believe any abortionist killers have ever walked free.  Still waiting for our followup from France regarding the prosecution of the peaceful protesters by day who lawlessly torch vehicles by night.  Even if they are not one and the same, the 'peaceful' protesters  benefit from the intimidation.  He who made the false comparison could post the prosecution rate for cars torched and other violent acts in that particularly peaceful French municipality, but that I don't expect.

Repeating, their is no legal issue over aborting to save the life of the mother.  That is true in far less than 1% of abortions according to planned parenthood statistics and not banned under any pro-life proposal.  And there is no legal issue about prosecuting the accused murderer under the full extent of the law.  His action was wrong and it was illegal.  Too bad that it is likely in his view that it was the only recourse left to him living in an undemocratic society that rejects the principle of consent of the governed for its most hotly contested life and death issue.
5695  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Sotomayor on: May 28, 2009, 01:29:56 PM
"But President Obama won, is a liberal and gets to put liberals on the court. That's the way it works. Ideology aside, is she qualified?"

No.  They are subject to confirmation (that's the way it works) and we require them to take the oath of office to uphold the constitution which involves upholding the right to bear arms and uphold equal protection under the law.  If she is honest, she will decline the oath and the search for a good liberal justice will start anew. 

Seriously, this process should become a conversation between the party competing for power and trust and the American people about the meaning of the constitution and it should become a challenge to the leftist machine's views and methods BEFORE they win another lifetime appointment. Why do they think it is okay to change (AMEND) the constitution WITHOUT going through the rigorous amendment process spelled out in the CONSTITUTION.

For example, should free health care or ANY kind of FEDERALLY subsidized health care be a right for anyone? If yes, then great, start working on getting support from 2/3 of the house, 2/3 of the senate and 3/4th of the state legislatures and make it a constitutional right. 

How about an amendment to abolish private property rights, that your right to stay put in your home depends on the whim of your city council and 5 justices supporting Kelo!  Let's get that issue on the agenda in 50 states as we consider another forced quota and distributionist for a lifetime of mockery 'upholding' the limits on government.
5696  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: May 27, 2009, 05:16:03 PM
Wealth and savings destroyed and federal revenues down 34% (?) but reassuring to know income disparity is lessening.
5697  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Reproductive issues on: May 24, 2009, 02:22:12 PM
"I am currently not interested in discussing abortion and I don't see that changing." - Rachel

During your break from this divisive issue, I offer to switch sides of the issue with you.  You would make a WONDERFUL Pro-Life advocate for the unborn life and I can personally attest to the inconveniences of having to raise a child as a single parent in difficult circumstances. 

The unplanned pregnancy with an unable mother and canceled abortion has been disruptive to me in so many way. Financially in costs and I had to sacrifice my career path.  Parenting takes up otherwise valuable time everyday as I drive my daughter to her activities constantly and look after her every need.  Did I mention braces now and college soon! OTOH, I am a little bit proud as I helped this blob of cells develop into a healthy, beautiful, outgoing, blue-eyed, smiling, red-haired girl, with a large, supportive, extended family on both sides, completing her first year of high school with straight A's, 3 sports letters, second chair viola in the top orchestra, first place ski racer, USTA tennis champion, performed at Orchestra Hall - sold out, and completed the confirmation program within her religion.  And won't clean her room.  I could go on.

Let me know if you think the switch will work.  smiley   - Doug
5698  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants on: May 19, 2009, 12:13:49 PM
"And on that gracious note, may I suggest we move on from this particular little discussion."

Like the best NHL hockey referees, they wait unitl the fighters are exhausted and then they break it up.
5699  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: May 19, 2009, 11:13:13 AM
CCP and all , thanks for health care info.  One piece said the virtual was cheaper (assuming no follow up invasion is needed) and I think another said virtual costs more (maybe because of the follow up).  I will be getting quotes soon.  I have only major medical coverage so I will be the ever so rare, cost-conscious patient.  We have family history of colon cancer - I should have done this starting at age 45.  The photo sounds a lot better to me than the snake.  Besides the cost, I think I have snake through anus phobia.  Now at 52 and change I should be a fine candidate for a free one at a medical university (wiulling to travel) - any suggestions? 

As a polical matter, liberals contend that health care is much better in western Europe than the US but then they measure it in percentage insured.  I would measure heath care systems by survival rates of the worst ailments we are most likely to face.  For men here that include prostate and colon cancer (women - breast concer etc.)and I think survival rates are much higher in the US.(?)
5700  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: May 19, 2009, 10:38:49 AM
Thanks Huss, here is a link:

After the 2003 tax rate cuts we had incredible double digit growths in revenues that ended with the inauguration of the Pelosi-Obama congress promising to reverse the cuts especially on investors and employers.

Looks like we have fiscal year to date increases of 17% growth in spending not counting trillions in new future obligations along with a 24% decline in revenues!  I guess the promise that the era of irresponsibility is over was just a bunch of BS.

"A budget is more than simply numbers on a page. It is a measure of how well we are living up to our obligations to ourselves and one another."
                                              – President Barack Obama

"when push comes to shove, the only way the government is going to come up with the money needed to meet its aggressive spending is to print it up."  - But when we print it up we don't really have more money, we are just printing the word dollar on something that is really only a fifty cent piece.  sad I doubt if that is the policy that many of the supporters were supporting.

Maybe someone can help me here, but is there not a constitutional obligation of these officials to protect the value of our currency and honor our obligations?? 

If we were done borrowing, devaluing our currency would be a very clever trick to lower our debt.  Unlike third world countries, we have borrowed at least until now in our own currency.  Conversely, the day we have to borrow trillions in yuan or euros we return to third world status asking others for debt rescheduling and forgiveness.  sad

"Im curious to see how obama is going to fund health care"  - Of course he is NOT going to fund it because tax rate increases we know are not how you grow revenues.

It was hard to find actual numbers.  Not on a search of OMB, CBO or google...  Try this:

(It would be nice if cut and paste from a pdf worked better)

Table 9. Summary of Receipts by Source, and Outlays by Function of the U.S. Government, April 2009 and Other Periods
[$ millions]
                                                                                                               This Month,  Fiscal Year to Date, Comparable Period Prior Fiscal Year

Net Receipts

Individual Income Taxes ... 136,668  566,369  747,558
Corporation Income Taxes... 14,545 70,781 171,142
Social Insurance and Retirement Receipts:
Employment and General Retirement............................................................................................ 90,985 508,833 507,153
Unemployment Insurance... 7,058 17,117 18,801
Other Retirement ... 323 2,401 2,415
Excise Taxes ... 5,642 34,343 37,130
Estate and Gift Taxes ... 3,976 16,082 18,121
Customs Duties ... 1,878 14,063 15,717
Miscellaneous Receipts ... 5,158 26,077 31,684
Total... 266,232 1,256,066 1,549,720

Net Outlays

National Defense ... 54,273 385,925 359,275
International Affairs... 4,341 21,699 16,171
General Science, Space, and Technology....................................................................................... 1,963 13,911 13,210
Energy ... -25 193 -29
Natural Resources and Environment ............................................................................................... 2,550 18,963 17,303
Agriculture ... 566 22,070 19,470
Commerce and Housing Credit... 3,520 202,359 755
Transportation ... 5,918 43,967 41,123
Community and Regional Development........................................................................................... 1,813 17,230 13,870
Education, Training, Employment and Social Services.................................................................... 7,940 53,538 52,538
Health ... 33,541 189,735 163,115
Medicare... 36,888 243,177 220,427
Income Security... 49,527 321,196 256,969
Social Security... 56,649 380,825 353,363
Veterans Benefits and Services... 8,024 54,214 48,608
Administration of Justice... 3,831 27,674 26,580
General Government ... 1,261 11,989 9,103
Net Interest... 19,223 114,047 145,301
Undistributed Offsetting Receipts ... -4,663 -64,352 -53,962

Total... 287,139 2,058,360 1,703,191

It all reminds me of a personal story from more than a dozen years ago.  I was at a friend's home for a party.  He is a conservative, his wife's politics I don't know, but they met at a liberal twin cities college and these were their friends.  A gal talking was the daughter of the Minneapolis congressman, Kieth Ellison's predecessor (name withheld) who went on tho become state senator of south mpls and a failed Dem. candidate for Lt. Governor.

She explained in the sweetest most genuine way that the difference between Democrats and Republicans is that Democrats care mostly about others while Republicans care mostly about themselves.  I waited for my chance to jump in and tried so hard not to say anything that would get me thrown out before the food was served.  I replied that 'Republicans know how to load the wagon and Democrats know how to unload the wagon so we really need BOTH!'  She looked stunned and said she never heard anything like that before.
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