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5751  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Economics, the stock market , and other investment/savings strategies on: July 14, 2011, 05:53:54 PM
Great question CCP.  Revenues are something like 2.5 trillion.  That is the start of what you have to work with if you don't raise the debt limit.  Spending was supposed to be something like $3.8 trillion. In theory we would go ahead with 'essential services' governing and sending out 'checks' up to the 2.5 trillion limit which is more than a trillion of instant cuts.  If Dems would agree to that they could more easily agree to just half that and still get their debt limit raised.  In reality, Dems like the current governor in MN end all the things first that hurt the most to turn up the heat on his opponents because the issue to him is all political, not economic.

If we are 40% unfunded, then without tax increases or borrowing we in theory would layoff very roughly 40% of federal government workers.  Those people could instantly become successful entrepreneurs... more likely they start looking like the state workers and teachers that were hanging around the state capital in Madison during the recent unrest.  Also they would flood and overload local aid offices if instantly unfunded by the feds.

No, a trillion dollar 'layoff' with no phase in and no simultaneous adoption of pro-growth private sector policies I think is a prescription for chaos and unrest.  I called it earlier all root canal and no pain killer.  Like the frog in the water on the stove top, We need to apply the heat gradually IMHO.
5752  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: July 14, 2011, 11:45:59 AM
"We should handpick our immigrants with a view to our national interests and the individual attributes that they bring to the table."

JDN, I agree.
5753  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: July 14, 2011, 11:42:49 AM
My question mark would be that I don't know his policies toward China much less Russia or influencing change in the Middle East.  I believe he snubbed the Chinese leadership a bit on his exit which endears him more to me than to them.

Of course we don't want military rule.  A Petraeus type would have to separate himself from that, and he isn't running.  A better example of foreign policy experience would be a former Sec of State or Sec of Defense, who also had governor level or comparable public executive experience and significant business experience.  No one has all that.  You make a good point that Huntsman has the best mix of that in his background, I'm just saying he wasn't setting or even seriously advising an administration on US foreign policy as far as we know. 

Huntsman faces other challenges in getting elected.  You call him centrist but his mix of views on different issues do not match up well IMO with enough other centrists to make up for his positions on important issues that will offend both the right and the left.  More maverick than moderate.

With 3 and 3/4 years incumbency in Nov 2012, it is Obama who will have the experience.  What we will be arguing is the quality of that experience and what we project forward for them.

Thanks JDN for the answer to my question, I thought so!
5754  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: July 14, 2011, 10:27:37 AM
For 51st state I was thinking Puerto Rico and hoping maybe Alberta.  South California is interesting.  Wouldn't it be great if we could mostly govern closer to home among people who have a more common interest, and have a strong central government limited to functions that require that, at the state as well as the national levels.

Over here in flyover country I can't get anyone to even consider the idea of splitting into a separate county.  The outlying part of our county with the largest city removed (Minneapolis) is just half of one county of a medium sized state, but has a population and economy larger than 6 states.  If split it would still be the state's two largest counties out of 88.  We live further from the central city where the big expenses are than all of the next county over (St. Paul) and parts of 3 other counties.  We cannot split because the failed inner city is financially dependent on the productive outlying areas.  That isn't local government.  That kind of financial support is a role for state government or federal disaster relief, not other localities, or they could fix their own problems.
5755  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: July 13, 2011, 08:55:15 PM
JDN, I disagree with you on Bolton, I think he really was part of the foreign policy team, only for a short time, and had foreign policy expertise before being ambassador to the UN.  Like you say, it doesn't matter at this moment because he isn't a candidate.  I suspect he might play a role in the next administration and then his views and experience may come back into the light.

Huntsman's experience in foreign policy and his views for the most part are a question mark.  I don't have enough information to say this yet, but it hasn't been refuted anywhere... Huntsman worked for the President, he was picked to be our ambassador to perhaps the most crucial other country in the world, the most populous nation, the world's second largest economy, the country with the largest army, the country that holds the most of our debt, the country that threatens our ally Taiwan, etc... In all that, I don't believe he has ever had a one on one discussion about China policy with the President.  And I doubt he was sent top secret info or strategic memos into an embassy inside a totalitarian regime.  Something he wrote to Obama made me think that: 'I'm sorry we didn't have time to talk about China...' so I looked up everything I could find to follow up on it.  There was a state dinner and certainly they stood and sat close and both smiled and shook a lot of communist hands.  It is more a slam on Obama who has no interest in these matters, but it appears to me that Huntsman was off, for the most part, doing PR on his own in China, and largely was kept out of the foreign policy loop IMO.  (I would be happy to be corrected with facts on that.)

Huntsman speaks Mandarin.  That is good, but I don't value it as highly as JDN does.  Sec. Rice was fluent in Russian, but Putin was Putin during her time of service.  I studied... Nihongo Wakarimasu ka? but never directly used it in my own international business dealings.  Indirectly, yes.  Huntsman lived in Taiwan from 1987 to 1988 (less than one year? where English is more widely known than in PRC).  Not questioning his skills but if his accent/dialect in Chinese is not American, then it is Taiwanese.  In a crisis with the PRC in Beijing, wouldn't that be like having an emergency meeting with General Grant during the Civil war and he discovers you have a Montgomery, Alabama accent.

Huntsman's foreign experience is more on the side of trade, also important, rather than geopolitical and military strategy.  Our strategy with China during his time on trade and everything else was status quo as far as I know.  A little jawboning by other over the fixed exchange rate but no other changes.  Huntsman has a nice background for a starting point to run for President.  My point is that he, like everyone else including Obama 2008,  comes into the campaign and the job having done nothing remotely similar to being Commander in Chief.  He may become a great one, but we don't know that.  Maybe if Petraeus was running, I would give out more credit.
5756  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government programs & regulations, spending, budget process on: July 13, 2011, 07:48:25 PM
"How long could you survive if 43 cents of every dollar you spent was borrowed?"
"Do I get to print the money with which I pay off the debts incurred?"
There is a guy on the radio (Rush L) who says there is only one Democrat who runs his business the way Democrats run the government (Ponzi scheme).  Maybe we can ask him how long you can survive (Bernie Madoff).  BTW, where are they now (in federal prison until 2139, assuming early release for good behavior).
5757  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Housing: George Will, Reckless Endangerment - Burning down the house on: July 13, 2011, 12:14:55 PM
A recent George Will column writing about a new book recapping the runup to the collapse with a focus on housing, blaming liberal Democratic policies (with willing RINOs).

George F. Will:   Burning down the house

“The louder he talked of his honor, the faster we counted our spoons.”
— Emerson

The louder they talked about the disadvantaged, the more money they made. And the more the financial system tottered.

Who were they? Most explanations of the financial calamity have been indecipherable to people not fluent in the language of “credit default swaps” and “collateralized debt obligations.” The calamity has lacked human faces. No more.

Put on asbestos mittens and pick up “Reckless Endangerment,” the scalding new book by Gretchen Morgenson, a New York Times columnist, and Joshua Rosner, a housing finance expert. They will introduce you to James A. Johnson, an emblem of the administrative state that liberals admire.

The book’s subtitle could be: “Cry ‘Compassion’ and Let Slip the Dogs of Cupidity.” Or: “How James Johnson and Others (Mostly Democrats) Made the Great Recession.” The book is another cautionary tale about government’s terrifying self-confidence. It is, the authors say, “a story of what happens when Washington decides, in its infinite wisdom, that every living, breathing citizen should own a home.”

The 1977 Community Reinvestment Act pressured banks to relax lending standards to dispense mortgages more broadly across communities. In 1992, the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston purported to identify racial discrimination in the application of traditional lending standards to those, Morgenson and Rosner write, “whose incomes, assets, or abilities to pay fell far below the traditional homeowner spectrum.”

In 1994, Bill Clinton proposed increasing homeownership through a “partnership” between government and the private sector, principally orchestrated by Fannie Mae, a “government-sponsored enterprise” (GSE). It became a perfect specimen of what such “partnerships” (e.g., General Motors) usually involve: Profits are private, losses are socialized.

There was a torrent of compassion-speak: “Special care should be taken to ensure that standards are appropriate to the economic culture of urban, lower-
income, and nontraditional consumers.” “Lack of credit history should not be seen as a negative factor.” Government having decided to dictate behavior that markets discouraged, the traditional relationship between borrowers and lenders was revised. Lenders promoted reckless borrowing, knowing they could off­load risk to purchasers of bundled loans, and especially to Fannie Mae. In 1994, subprime lending was $40 billion. In 1995, almost one in five mortgages was subprime. Four years later such lending totaled $160 billion.

As housing prices soared, many giddy owners stopped thinking of homes as retirement wealth and started using them as sources of equity loans — up to $800 billion a year. This fueled incontinent consumption.

Under Johnson, an important Democratic operative, Fannie Mae became, Morgenson and Rosner say, “the largest and most powerful financial institution in the world.” Its power derived from the unstated certainty that the government would be ultimately liable for Fannie’s obligations. This assumption and other perquisites were subsidies to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac worth an estimated $7 billion a year. They retained about a third of this.

Morgenson and Rosner report that in 1998, when Fannie Mae’s lending hit $1 trillion, its top officials began manipulating the company’s results to generate bonuses for themselves. That year Johnson’s $1.9 million bonus brought his compensation to $21 million. In nine years, Johnson received $100 million.

Fannie Mae’s political machine dispensed campaign contributions, gave jobs to friends and relatives of legislators, hired armies of lobbyists (even paying lobbyists not to lobby against it), paid academics who wrote papers validating the homeownership mania, and spread “charitable” contributions to housing advocates across the congressional map.

By 2003, the government was involved in financing almost half — $3.4 trillion — of the home-loan market. Not coincidentally, by the summer of 2005, almost 40 percent of new subprime loans were for amounts larger than the value of the properties.

Morgenson and Rosner find few heroes, but two are Marvin Phaup and June O’Neill. These “digit-heads” and “pencil brains” (a Fannie Mae spokesman’s idea of argument) with the Congressional Budget Office resisted Fannie Mae pressure to kill a report critical of the institution.

“Reckless Endangerment” is a study of contemporary Washington, where showing “compassion” with other people’s money pays off in the currency of political power, and currency. Although Johnson left Fannie Mae years before his handiwork helped produce the 2008 bonfire of wealth, he may be more responsible for the debacle and its still-mounting devastations — of families, endowments, etc. — than any other individual. If so, he may be more culpable for the peacetime destruction of more wealth than any individual in history.

Morgenson and Rosner report. You decide.
5758  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government programs & regulations, spending, budget process on: July 13, 2011, 12:02:46 PM
"Sounds familiar.  Isn't that the same reason why Clinton and Obama have been criticized?"

Yes! Obama needed political advice to take out bin Laden! How will it poll if we shoot him in the head versus the saga of capturing and holding...

Yet centrists despise ideologues with a backbone, at least on the right.  So we get deals that perpetuate the status quo, stagnation with trillions more debt, spending increases on programs that exacerbate the same problems, and all real reform on all topics tabled for another day - that never comes.  The centrists win again.
5759  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: July 13, 2011, 11:52:41 AM
I think people know foreign policy is important, they just don't know what to do about any of it.  We have a severe case of war fatigue, but also a sense that there isn't a lot we can do about a lot of these things.  For Libya, like Egypt, people don't know if the new guys are better than the old guys and are totally burned out trying to figure it out.  Is Iraq on course or will it turn backward in a minute? As a hawk I am thinking: very strong force used less often.  We proved we could go across the world and take down these two regimes, maybe three.  But we also proved we don't have much of a stomach for it, and showed that weakness.  Our central foreign policy strength long term will come from righting the economy first, without neglecting our forces, intelligence, capabilities and readiness.  What happened to John Bolton anyway?

Newt has foreign policy proposals:, and economic ones:  We need the best of his ideas no matter who is the nominee.   Baseline budgeting and dynamic scoring are two things that never got done.  The bureaucracy prevailed over the reformers.  Newt is the type who could have designed a trap like the McConnell plan for Obama, now he is first to trash it.  He lived through one of these poitical shutdowns.  What was his win-win solution.  The standoff was not solvable without also allowing Obama and Senate Dems to save face.

Pawlenty is another taking the move to Commander in Chief seriously.  He made many trips to Iraq and Afghanistan, I assume he has good advisers and has issued a serious and hawkish policy plan.  Greeted with a yawn here and elsewhere.  My reaction was perhaps too hawkish, compensating for what he is lacks, but all but Bolton lack that experience, including Huntsman and including Obama.  What is Obama's plan on Syria? Yemen? Golf this weekend? He can answer one of these.  (Romney has weekly foreign policy staff meetings and doesn't attend them.) Pawlenty and Newt are not very far apart on policies and plans. 

People aren't looking for a war President in July 2011; maybe they will be in Nov 2012 or halfway through the first or second term.  If Pawlenty, Romney, Bachmann or whoever loses because he or she appeared too hawkish, too war-eager... or too unready, then the economy and the foreign policy stays with the declinists.
5760  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Progressivism: Spokesmodel for Social Justice - Rep. Keith Ellison on: July 13, 2011, 09:57:33 AM
Short video, minute and a half exposes by Glen Beck's 'the blaze':  Keith Ellison speaking to Campus Progress Conference July 6, 2011.  Good to Keith getting his confidence back to his incite violence in Minneapolis days, 'we don't get no justice, you don't get no peace'.  A luncheon not a riot, this is a little more civil.  Who is their enemy now and the applause line? Michele Bachmann, lol.

"The hour is such, the hour is such - that that group of people who have always been afraid of change.

They didn't want to end slavery.  They wanted states' rights. They didn't want women to vote.  They didn't want people to organize on the job.  These people, they didn't want to see our country get bigger and stronger and increase who was included.

I'm tellin you, these folks, these so-called conservative have only wanted to conserve the status quo.  they have been against change for a long time.  They have ideological forebearers, do you understand what I'm trying to say to you?

These same people that want to shrink government until you can drown it in a bath tub, also want mom to get back in the kitchen, take her shoes off and get pregnant.  Do ya understand, they are offended by a strong powerful woman.  And here's the sad part.  Some of them are women themselves.  Michelle Bachmann would be an example, APPLAUSE. So let's stand up for women's rights..."
5761  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / budget process - I blame the public on: July 13, 2011, 09:26:40 AM
"grumble , , , grumble , , , grumble , , , I suppose that makes sense , , , grumble , , ,"

Yeah, it's frustrating (and this deal isn't done).  We can't force a solution against an unwilling President and Senate now because of fickle and lacking support of the public - with moderates/independents wavering from about 60/40 Dem to maybe 60/40 against the Obama-agenda, but not fully on board with any principles yet to be articulated about how this country should be driven forward out of the ditch.  If people were demanding a trillion in cuts now or a new flat tax code now or a re-write of the entire regulatory scheme including energy now, then it would be at least possible to try to ram it through the other body and the other branch.  There isn't even a full plan on the table.  Paul Ryan was trying to start a conversation, not end it.  No leaders stepped forward to expand it,  run with it or sell it.  Just caution.  (Where is Romney's plan?! He's the front runner. And Bachmann is unrealistic.  Boehner is Boehner, I don't dislike him as much as some do but he isn't the answer or the messenger.) When Dems hear the uproar now they just think tea party meaning only extremists and activists.  They have their own extremists and activists to appease.

Similar disarray at this point in Jimmy Carter's 3rd year, though there were no elected Republicans.  Reagan was one of many candidates with many messages.  No one knew what to think of Kemp-Roth or anything else, just barely starting to admit that the current direction was wrong.  We couldn't solve it without a clear message and a messenger stepping forward.  And we never did tackle spending or big government in those years, just defense and growth.
5762  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: california: Dems hold onto the Jane Harman seat on: July 13, 2011, 08:57:05 AM
Isn't this the Crafty seat?

Barack won it by 31 points. Harman won it by 37 points.  Republican Craig Huey tried for an upset.  Lost yesterday by 10 points: 55-45%:

That loss of support matches polling losses in other key groups, young people, Jewish voters, Hispanics etc of about 20 points since Nov 2008.
5763  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / budget process: WSJ supports McConnell idea on: July 12, 2011, 11:13:48 PM
Moving this over from cognitive dissonance of Republicans thread.  The ink is barely dry on our discussion and the WSJ has already taken most of it for tomorrow's lead editorial:
"The entitlement state can't be reformed by one house of Congress in one year against a determined President and Senate held by the other party. It requires more than one election."

Debt-Limit Harakiri
Mitch McConnell isn't selling out Republicans.

Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell said yesterday he's concluded that no deal to raise the debt ceiling in return for serious spending restraint is possible with President Obama, and who can blame him? We've never thought the debt ceiling was the best leverage for a showdown over the entitlement state, and now it looks like Mr. Obama is trying to use it as a way to blame the GOP for the lousy economy.

This may have been the President's strategy all along: Take the debt-limit talks behind closed doors, make major spending cuts seem possible in the early days, but then hammer Republicans publicly as the deadline nears for refusing to raise taxes on business and "the rich."

This would explain the President's newly discovered fondness for press conferences, which he has rarely held but now rolls out before negotiating sessions. It would also explain why Mr. Obama's tax demands have escalated as the August 2 deadline nears. Yesterday he played the Grandma Card, telling CBS that seniors may not get their August retirement checks. Next he'll send home the food inspectors and stop paying the troops.

The reality is that Mr. Obama is trying to present Republicans with a Hobson's choice: Either repudiate their campaign pledge by raising taxes, or take the blame for any economic turmoil and government shutdown as the U.S. nears a debt default. In the former case Mr. Obama takes the tax issue off the table and demoralizes the tea party for 2012, and in the latter he makes Republicans share the blame for 9.2% unemployment.

This is the political context in which to understand Mr. McConnell's proposal yesterday to force Mr. Obama to take ownership of any debt-limit increase. If the President still insists on a tax increase, then Republicans will walk away from the talks.

Mr. McConnell would then let the President propose three debt-limit increases adding up to $2.5 trillion over the coming months. Senate Republicans (with Majority Leader Harry Reid's cooperation) would use a convoluted procedure to vote for three resolutions of disapproval on the bills. Mr. Obama could veto the resolutions and 34 Democrats could vote to sustain. The President would get his debt-limit increase, but without Republicans serving as his political wingmen.

The hotter precincts of the blogosphere were calling this a sellout yesterday, though they might want to think before they shout. The debt ceiling is going to be increased one way or another, and the only question has been what if anything Republicans could get in return. If Mr. Obama insists on a tax increase, and Republicans won't vote for one, then what's the alternative to Mr. McConnell's maneuver?

Republicans who say they can use the debt limit to force Democrats to agree to a balanced budget amendment are dreaming. Such an amendment won't get the two-thirds vote to pass the Senate, but it would give every Democrat running for re-election next year a chance to vote for it and claim to be a fiscal conservative.

We agree with those who say that Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner can cut other federal spending before he allows a technical default on U.S. debt. No doubt that is what he will do. We'd even support a showdown over technical default if we thought it might yield some major government reforms. But Mr. Obama clearly has no such intention.

Instead he and Mr. Geithner will gradually shut down government services, the more painful the better. The polls that now find that voters oppose a debt-limit increase will turn on a dime when Americans start learning that they won't get Social Security checks. Republicans will then run like they're fleeing the Pamplona bulls, and chaotic retreats are the ugliest kind. By then they might end up having to vote for a debt-limit increase and a tax increase.

The tea party/talk-radio expectations for what Republicans can accomplish over the debt-limit showdown have always been unrealistic. As former Senator Phil Gramm once told us, never take a hostage you're not prepared to shoot. Republicans aren't prepared to stop a debt-limit increase because the political costs are unbearable. Republicans might have played this game better, but the truth is that Mr. Obama has more cards to play.

The entitlement state can't be reformed by one house of Congress in one year against a determined President and Senate held by the other party. It requires more than one election. The Obama Democrats have staged a spending blowout to 24% of GDP and rising, and now they want to find a way to finance it to make it permanent. Those are the real stakes of 2012.

Even if Mr. Obama gets his debt-limit increase without any spending cuts, he will pay a price for the privilege. He'll have reinforced his well-earned reputation as a spender with no modern peer. He'll own the record deficits and fast-rising debt. And he'll own the U.S. credit-rating downgrade to AA if Standard & Poor's so decides.

We'd far prefer a bipartisan deal to cut spending and reform entitlements without a tax increase. But if Mr. Obama won't go along, there's no reason Republicans should help him dodge the political consequences by committing debt-limit harakiri.
5764  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Pathological Science: Current temps are at the 3000 year average on: July 12, 2011, 08:49:50 PM
When the lying and data hiding stops, maybe we can move global warming updates over to environmental sciences...

Temps right now are very close to both the 30 year and 3000 year averages if I am reading the charts below correctly.  Temps are up and down year to year more than they are in 30 years.

Dr. Fred Singer, Univ of Virginia, has a 24 page analysis of all the latest information, a  must read if you care about the survival of the planet.

A few key points pulled out by John Hinderacker: (You need to read this at the source: to keep his comments and Singer's separate.  Impressively, Singer called Mann on the Hide the Decline scandal long before the lies and deception were exposed in the climategate emails!  (read it all - Doug)
(Hinderacker)Dr. Singer points out that the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the supposed authority on which pretty much all global warming alarmism relies, has changed its approach to the topic in each of its reports:

    (Singer)The IPCC has wavered on methodology. Their First Assessment Report (FAR–1990) simply pointed out that both GH gases and temperatures have increased but paid little attention to the long cooling period (from 1940 to 1975). Their Second Report (SAR–1996) tried to show that observed patterns of warming trends (“fingerprints”) agreed with calculated patterns. Their Third Report (TAR–2001) simply claimed that the 20th century was the warmest in 1000 years (as if this proves anything). The fourth report (AR4– 2007) basically said: We understand all natural forcings – so everything else must be anthropogenic.

(Hinderadker)The alarmists are consistent in only one respect. No matter what the data show, or what analyses are brought into play, the conclusion is always the same: the Earth is warming catastrophically, and the only solution is government takeover of all free economies.

Climate alarmism is based on computer models, but those models don’t correspond to observations in the real world. In the realm of science, when a computer model is contradicted by empirical observation, the model is deemed to have been refuted. Only in the field of global climate do purported scientists refuse to recognize that basic principle. The linked paper explains in summary fashion how the alarmists’ models are contradicted by observation.

Two 20th-century climate trends are undisputed: the Earth warmed from around 1910 to 1940, and cooled from around 1940 to the late 1970s. The climate alarmists base their theory on a warming that they claim took place between 1979 and 1997. Whether that latter warming actually took place is, however, highly debatable:

    (Singer)The 1910 to 1940 warming is seen in the surface thermometer record; there were no balloon or satellite observations to provide independent confirmation. However, the proxy data of tree rings, ice cores, etc, all show this warming so that we can be fairly sure of its reality. Its cause is generally believed to be due to natural factors, although Wigley and Santer have claimed it to be anthropogenic (Science, 1998).

    On the other hand, the reported 1979 to 1997 surface warming [Fig. 10] is not seen by atmospheric observations. [Fig. 11]. If one takes the near-zero atmospheric trends from radiosondes and (independent) satellite instruments [Fig. 5] seriously, then – because of “amplification” — the surface trend should be smaller – and therefore even closer to zero– especially in the tropical zone.

(Hinderacker)The fact that satellite observations do not verify the alleged surface warming from 1979 to 1997 is a huge problem for the alarmists. One might expect them to have a theory to explain the discrepancy, but they don’t. This graph shows satellite observations from 1979 to 2011:

Dr. Singer’s presentation explores possible explanations for the apparent rise in surface temperatures. Suffice it to say, for now, that the surface data are less than reliable and are biased in several respects toward warming. I was shocked when I learned that the data used by the IPCC do not even try to adjust for the urban heat island effect, which is well recognized. That fact, by itself, renders those data essentially worthless.

Beyond that, Singer talks about the frauds revealed by Climategate. The surface temperature data on which climate alarmism is based are heavily politicized. This is where the famous “hockey stick” comes into play, as well as the alarmists’ attempt to “hide the decline” through “tricks.”

    (Singer)One word about the relationship between Climategate and the “Hockey stick” temperature graph of Mann, Bradley, andHughes. When the graph was published [Nature 1998, GRL1999], public attention immediately focused on their claim that the 20th century was the warmest in the last 1000 years [Fig. 20]. It was then shown by McIntyre and McKitrick that some of the data had been fudged and that the statistical methodology used was faulty.

    They also demonstrated that feeding random data into the Michael Mann algorithms would invariably yield a hockey stick curve. (Mann [PNAS 2008] has now quietly changed the hockey stick into a graph that shows both the Medieval Warm Period (MWP) and Little Ice Age [Fig. 21].) In any case, we know that the MWP, around 1000 to 1200 AD, was warmer than today, based on many independent investigations [Fig. 22].

    But that fact (a warmer MWP) has little relevance to the question of the cause of current warming (if indeed such warming exists). Therefore, when the hockey stick was first published, my attention focused on the fact that Michael Mann’s proxy record seemed to stop in 1979 and that the continuing temperature data came entirely from the Jones analysis of surface thermometers. [I think this is the real explanation of “Mike’s Nature trick,” referred to in the Climategate e-mails that speak of “hiding the decline.”]

    I immediately sent e-mails to Mann and questioned him about this point, asking him why his proxy temperature record suddenly stopped in 1979. I received back a rather brusque reply that no suitable data were available.

    But I already knew that such data are indeed available [Figs23,24] and therefore surmised that his proxy data did not show the increase in temperature demanded by the surface thermometers. So he simply terminated his analysis in 1979 to hide this fact (his “Nature trick”) – in order to be “politically correct” and support the IPCC story of a temperature increase.

    The Climategate e-mails make it clear why Mann terminated the Hockey stick in 1979. There is a huge irony here that should be readily apparent. As I maintain above, there was in fact no increase in surface temperatures after 1979, and therefore Mann’s (never-published) proxy temperatures are correct. He simply did not have the courage to believe in his own results. To emphasize this point, I show some of the several proxy data in the published literature [Fig. 25].

This chart shows global temperatures as reconstructed from ocean sediment data:

(Hinderacker)It has become glaringly obvious to nearly everyone who pays attention that the alarmists’ alleged data are wrong, and their computer models are contradicted by observation. Rather than dealing with these fundamental issues as scientists, the alarmists have shifted into the political arena, smearing their critics and trying to jam major economic changes down our throats before more voters catch on to the fact that global warming alarmism is a fraud–an immensely profitable fraud for those who perpetrate it and for the crony industries that stand to profit by banning the efficient production of energy, but a fraud nevertheless.
5765  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of the Republicans on: July 12, 2011, 08:25:58 PM
Can't speak for JDN in ingenious but Bloomberg tries to explain it:
McConnell’s plan would let the president increase the limit in three stages unless Congress disapproves by a two-thirds majority, while Obama would also be required to propose offsetting spending cuts. The spending reductions would be advisory, and the debt-ceiling increase would occur regardless of whether lawmakers enact the cuts, McConnell said.

Don Stewart, a spokesman for McConnell, said the plan would allow Obama to raise the debt limit while putting the onus on him and congressional Democrats to cut spending.

At the same time, Republicans wouldn’t have to agree to tax increases. The proposal would force Democrats to cast multiple votes to raise the debt ceiling before the next election, while giving Republicans the chance to vote against that without risking a default.
(Doug continued) First of all there will be a lot of noise in the room while two sides position themselves for failure. The idea from McConnell is that this is not going to get done otherwise.  R's have to choose now between tax increases- unacceptable, and default - unacceptable, or making imaginary cuts unilaterally that will never happen but be used forever against them. The McConnell idea continues the deficit for Obama's term but puts it all back on Dems to raise debt without R. support.  All politics, no economics. 

So-called default really means that Aug.1 or whenever d-day is, we get a de facto balanced budget exactly as proposed for the constitution without even taking that vote or sending it to the states.  No additional borrowing means immediate zero deficit, with spending limited to revenues running at 18% of GDP exactly as written in the proposed amendment, but without the 5 year phase-in.

Too good to be true. The political and economic problems with that are that we need a balanced budget at full employment not at sputtering levels.  It has to be combined with a pro-growth agenda putting us back on track or else it is all root canal and no pain killer.

Obama can't reform entitlements at all because his party will revolt, and it has to pass in the Senate.  Republicans can't take vague spending cuts later because they don't happen.  Neither side can afford real tax increases because they doom what is left of this economy, and they won't pass in the House.

Kent Conrad, Senate Budget Chair, want to close loopholes AND raise tax rates, worst of both worlds.  Take more resources while worsening the disincentives to produce - and he is retiring in 2012.  Try to negotiate with him!

I think we agreed (some of us) that driving out of this mess was going to be a two election cycle process, 2010-2012.  We need to survive the last Obama year and make certain to win next year, House, Senate and Presidency, or live forever in decline (no intended exaggeration).  Even then R's will lack the 60 votes in the senate and struggle to implement anything.  sad  Extending the debt limit with no change in budgeting is the status quo, but deeper to dig out from.  The McConnell offer puts a requirement on Obama to propose cuts in exchange for new debt. Republicans can accept those cuts and send them back or tweak them and fight further.

Hopefully, Obama sees this as a successful PR move by McConnell covering the R asses against an unnecessary shutdown, and putting it back on him to get meaningful, immediate cuts now.

He's had enough time on the sidelines to think about it.
5766  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government programs & regulations, spending, budget process on: July 12, 2011, 04:28:20 PM
Obama: "this is not just a matter of Social Security checks. These are veterans checks, these are folks on disability and their checks. There are about 70 million checks that go out."

You don't f-in' suppose that is part of the problem?
5767  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Health Thread (nutrition, medical, longevity, etc) on: July 12, 2011, 04:12:27 PM
"...most often used by people who have some mysterious disease that allows them to snowboard 5 days a week."

The Colorado system is full of abuse including no oversight of the 'doctors' and leaving the dispensaries unregulated.  It seems like the recommending doctors could be vulnerable for the mockery of medicine and law.

GM, Those snowboarders may have a crippling disease comparable to terminal cancer called ...  'inflammation'!

For CCP: "The use of medical marijuana in Colorado patients suffering from severe chronic pain has shown in multiple studies to lift moods of depression and reduce or even sometimes completely alleviate pain symptoms without drugs."
 - THC is not a drug?

I prefer decriminalization with minor penalties for small quantities to this  scam that drags in the medical profession.  Real medical uses should of course be permitted, and exemptions from rules for the terminal should extend to whatever their doctor thinks would be helpful.  

But it's hard to know who is terminal these days after the amazing recovery of the Lockerbie bomber.
5768  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / progressivism: Nancy Pelosi - the gift that keeps on giving on: July 12, 2011, 11:51:10 AM
Time magazine: Has Nancy Pelosi Been Marginalized in the Debt Debate?
By Jay Newton-Small Friday, July 8, 2011

...Nancy Pelosi asked: Why couldn’t the debt ceiling be decoupled from deficit reduction?...

Obama politely informed the House Minority Leader, those same sources say, that that train had left the station weeks ago.
5769  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Budget process: Consent of the governed on: July 12, 2011, 11:09:42 AM
We have a shutdown currently at the state level over the exact same issues.  I don't see what is so complicated.  Obama may or may not want tax increases to kill jobs in a bad economy.  Same with our new governor.  Both had every opportunity to travel state to state (or county to county) and make certain that like minded candidates would win House and Senate elections of Nov 2010.

You don't raise taxes (or lower them) without consent of the House, Senate and executive.  1 out of 3, and 2 out of 3 is nothing when 3 out of 3 are required.  Obama should know that; it took all 3 bodies, a temporary 60th votes in the Senate, along with deeming things to be passed that weren't to get Pelosi-you have to pass it to read it-healthcare.

You don't borrow over $14.294 trillion federally under current law without consent of the House, Senate and Executive. Two of three ain't bad is a song not a clause in the constitution.

I suppose you can try to bully your way with the other parties, but why should they support new laws they fundamentally oppose, laws that will guarantee their own political defeat.

The answer to deadlock from our new Dem governor not getting his way should have been live within your means, instead it was total shutdown, the public can be damned.  Shutdown the cash registers at profitable state enterprises, shutdown the tourism department in summer, shutdown the wayside rests - motorists can pee in a bottle, and shutdown the treasured safety net for the disabled.

Obama in the model of Bill Clinton wants the same thing.  Shut it all down, why waste a crisis, blame someone else.  But he is wrong.  His view did not prevail in the last election.  A Republican House does not get to appoint Supreme Court Justices and a Democrat President (alone) does not get to raise taxes, increase debt or spend what does not go through a difficult and contentious congressional budget process.  Grow up and govern.
5770  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Abortion: Fay Voshell - A Right to Kill on: July 12, 2011, 10:38:30 AM
Trying to keep up with all the interest here on this topic (sarcasm).

"The fact of the matter is that no horrors, no matter how often they are uncovered and documented, appear to be too great for the pro-abortion crowd to give up their core belief that a woman is entitled to abort her baby at any stage of pregnancy. "

July 3, 2011
A Right to Kill
By Fay Voshell

The society that embraces the death of innocents as a solution to its problems will itself inevitably die.  It may carry on for many decades after its fatal embrace of the Grim Reaper.  But with the moral heart cut out of its body, it becomes a zombie civilization with only the appearance of life.

For death, once embraced, as Goya illustrated so well in his shockingly gruesome painting "Saturn Devouring One of his Sons," has a way of devouring even one's children, as its appetite is never satiated.

"More," Death demands. "That was delicious.  I want more.

Wholesale carnage can even be sexually titillating, as individual torturers and creators of sadistic-masochistic porn films know well, and as Goya appears to have suggested by initially painting Saturn as having an erection.  Later, it is said, shocked successors edited out the erect penis depicted on the hungry god.

Be that as it may, the sheer perverted joy of insatiable killing is a societal disorder not restricted to renegade individual serial killers.  It's well known all human history is full of pathological societies which fully embraced death as a good thing, as a means of placating the gods, whoever they might be.  For example, the blood-soaked, slippery-slidey steps of the Aztec pyramids and the racks of human skulls of the victims of sacrifice to the Sun god bore testimony to such pathology.

But blood sacrifice is not a thing of the past.  The gods of death are just as richly fed today by innocent human blood as ever, but the justificatory framework for allowing the bloodshed has radically changed.  The old gods needing placation by means of the death of innocents have largely vanished, but they have been replaced by a philosophical and abstract imperative -- a demand for an unassailable human "right" to kill.

It is a relatively new thing for Western civilization to regard death of innocents as a human right.  It is a relatively new thing for mothers-to-be to have the virtually absolute right to put their own children to death before they are born.  And it is a relatively new thing for Western jurisprudence, having at last put to end to the hideously distorted absolute "right" to own other human beings, to now consign an entire class of human beings to destruction at the sole discretion of their mothers.

Time was, some made-up infraction or some offering to the gods was deemed necessary in order to get prove the "guilt" and get rid of a person.  No matter how trivial the accusation, "guilt" had to be established.  For example, one of Goya's etchings depicts a priest about to be garroted merely for possessing a knife.

Even in ghoulish modern times, establishment of "guilt," even when guilt is established by a mere pretext, has usually been necessary for execution to occur, as was evidenced by the Stalinist show trials of the 1930's and by Mao Tze Tung's Red Guard excesses of the 70's. Enemies of the state must be killed or a vengeful god placated by human sacrifice.

Allowing the death of the voiceless and innocent as a "choice" and as an expression of personal "freedom" is a concept that is relatively new. The perverted and absolute "right" to kill unborn humans who by no stretch of the imagination have ever committed a crime was bound to warp the entire societal fabric.  It also would produce revolting horrors those espousing and establishing the abstract "right" to kill did not foresee.

But once in a while, the veil of secrecy is rent and an entire populace is given a glimpse of the true horrors of the lucrative abortion industry, much as the horrors of slavery were revealed by photos such as this one of "Gordon," taken in 1863 and published in Harper's Weekly. 

In less than a period of ten months, the US public has been afforded at least three such glimpses of the horrible realities of the abortion industry.

Case #1: On Good Friday of this year, a dog sniffing around a El Paso,Texas parking lot of Hilltop Family Planning Clinic, found the remains of a dismembered baby of about 12-15 weeks gestation.  The tiny limbs were about the length of a dime.  There is no report as to whether the dog ate some of the baby's remains, but not all the body parts were there.  The person who discovered the grisly bits put them in a garbage bag.  While the police were notified, no police action was taken because Texas law doesn't consider a fetus less than twenty weeks gestation to be human.  There is no legal protection for him or her.

Case #2: Kermit Gosnell operated an abortion clinic in Philadelphia, killing at least two women and uncounted numbers of viable infants.  Among the horrors: infanticide.  According to the Grand Jury report, one incident involved a worker who played with a premature infant while it wiggled around on a counter for 20 minutes before the baby's neck was slit with a pair of scissors in order to sever his spinal cord, a process Gosnell described as "snipping."  Grand Jury investigation photos of the horrors within the clinic included severed babies' feet in jars and trash bags of fetal remains stored in refrigerators.  The grand jury had a few words for the regulatory agencies which were supposed to oversee the clinic:

"The grand jury also had a stern rebuke for regulatory organizations that looked the other way, giving their stamp of approval on his criminal practices. These people who saw the abuses yet stood idly by, or worse, encouraged the behavior that has now shocked the nation bear some responsibility for what happened in Philadelphia. In fact, they deserve criminal prosecution just as much as Gosnell and his cohorts because their silence not only enabled the crimes, but gave tacit consent to them."

Case #3: On August 12, 2010 in Elkton, MD, an 18 year old girl who had been 21 weeks pregnant was rushed to the hospital.  Her uterus, bowel and vagina had been pierced by one Dr. Nicola Riley, who flew in from Utah every other week to do late term abortions.  Not only did Riley lacerate the girl's organs, but the abortion was incomplete.  The baby's head was detached and pushed through the uterine wall into the abdominal cavity.

The semi-conscious teen was dropped off at the hospital via rental car by Riley and fellow abortionist Steven Chase Brigham. Riley then left the bleeding patient to go perform another abortion.  The girl herself was flown to John Hopkins hospital where doctors attempted to repair the damage done by the abortionists.

When police raided Brigham's Elkton "clinic," they found 32 late term fetuses-one of which was 35-36 weeks gestation--tossed in a freezer.

A great lesson is to be gained from the revolting examples given above; namely that there is a strict adherence to a pro-abortion ideology which demands the absolute "moral" principles of abortion on demand must be adhered to, no matter what.  Rush Limbaugh has been much vilified for describing abortion as a sacrament of the deeply religious cult of the Left, but he is not far from the mark.  The fact of the matter is that no horrors, no matter how often they are uncovered and documented, appear to be too great for the pro-abortion crowd to give up their core belief that a woman is entitled to abort her baby at any stage of pregnancy.

The radical feminist coat hanger wavers of the 1960's probably did not expect to see the day girl babies would be aborted at an astonishing rate merely for the crime of being female. Nonetheless, few radical feminists have spoken out strongly against the practice.  They are committed to abortion on demand.

Nor did the advocates of granting abortions to minors anticipate the cases in which fathers; uncles and grandfathers would escort little girls they had seduced and impregnated to abortion clinics in order to get rid of condemning incestuous evidence.  Abortion on demand must remain law of the land.

And scarcely ever has the pro-abortion crowd given credence to grief stricken fathers-to-be whose girlfriends and wives abort their children against their wishes.  One such dad-to-be, consumed by grief and rage, put up a billboard announcing his anger, thus severely straining the concept of free speech, according to pro- abortionists.  He and millions of other fathers are not a consideration to the abortion crowd.

All the above is to say nothing of the embryonic stem cell research of Pepsi designed to improve the flavor and "health" of its drinks, thus causing customers to literally have death run through their very veins.  Nothing to see there, either.  Move along.

In sum, absolutely nothing will deter those committed to abortion on demand to moderate or the question their absolutism, even if it were to transpire that lampshades were being made out of fetal skin.

Because of the distorted absolute imperative of abortion on demand, in spite of the fact the United States of America's Declaration of Independence guarantees "Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness," our country has long since eclipsed the killing rate of any country with the possible exception of China.  Some 50,000,000 unborn babies have expired since the literally fatal Supreme Court decision "Roe vs. Wade" of 1973.

All of the killing has been justified by the aforementioned absolute, inalienable "moral right" of a woman's right to choose whether or not she wishes to carry her unborn child to term. No matter how gruesome the actualities of the mega-buck abortion industry are, no compromise by "pro-choice" advocates is accepted.  Abortion on demand throughout pregnancy, a woman's inalienable and moral  "right"  is adhered to steadfastly, though the means of killing the pre-born may vary according to efficiency and assurance of result; namely, a dead baby.

But unrestrained mass killing is always the result when human beings create an absolute right to destroy other members of the human race, be it Jews or the unborn.

The Left loves to posture as the truly compassionate segment of humanity, constantly tarring the Right as hopeless ideologues whose rigid morality sacrifices the common good.

But as history shows and current events prove, leftists turn out to be the ones hopelessly and willfully bemired in absolutist thinking that results in absolute carnage.

The Left has committed itself to feeding insatiable Death, who devours all in his path, belches up the bones and says,

"That was yummy, but I want more.

By the way, YOU look tasty..."
5771  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The United Nations/ US Sovereignty/International Law on: July 12, 2011, 10:22:35 AM
Very interesting Strat piece!

It raises serious questions, but it also answers questions I have had about what is their jurisdiction?  International Law may sound good but world government does not.  I recall that George Bush was unable to travel to Switzerland (allegedly) for fear of arrest.  Same could be true for Obama at some point over his handling of the bin Laden operation - shooting the unarmed in the head.  Unfortunately committees and conferences do not remove tyrannical dictators.  Wars do.

"the International Criminal Court (ICC), which became operational in 2002 in The Hague, Netherlands. The ICC has jurisdiction, under U.N. mandate, to prosecute individuals who have committed war crimes, genocide and other crimes against humanity. Its jurisdiction is limited to those places where recognized governments are unwilling or unable to carry out their own judicial processes. The ICC can exercise jurisdiction if the case is referred to the ICC prosecutor by an ICC state party signatory or the U.N. Security Council (UNSC) or if the prosecutor initiates the investigation him or herself."
5772  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Education/Parenting on: July 12, 2011, 09:28:09 AM
"The FAIR Education Act is the seventh sexual indoctrination law to teach the state’s children to regard homosexuality, transsexuality (sex-changes operations) and bisexuality as good and natural. This is another in an impressive string of legal victories by gay activists."

The funniest line was this: "...the left-leaning California State Legislature..."  - Aren't they out on a limb there?

Can't we go around the activists and get a majority of gays to agree that sex change operations are unnatural and that those people are freaks?  Bisexuality OTOH opens up so many more possibilities... sad  How about infidelity, was that popular practice inadvertently left out of the program?

Does anyone out there ever ask how they are doing at math and science.  We should be able to fire the whole education curriculum/union crowd over those results which would remove the need to argue over this.

Opt-out sex-ed is a program that did not work for our family.  For one thing a divided family means a parent does not have control and for another they will be more than happy to single out your child and make a scene regarding  removal of a kid from the classroom at the parent's request.  The problem to me isn't what my kid is exposed to as much as it is what all the others are learning / not learning about morals and values.  Pulling your own kid out does not slow the degradation of the society that your kid(s) will grow up to live in.
5773  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Political Economics: Thomas Sowell - The Unknown unknowns on: July 12, 2011, 09:04:38 AM
More famous people caught reading the forum wink, Thomas Sowell picks up on the point about damage done by uncertainty.

The fact that intelligent and informed investors have no clue what tax or regulatory scheme they would operate under if they invested in the U.S. today gives us characteristics of a 3rd world country and does more damage perhaps than the actual taxes and regulations.  That damage of what positive economic activity did not happen because of these unknowns is immeasurable.

July 12, 2011
Unknown Unknowns
By Thomas Sowell

When Donald Rumsfeld was Secretary of Defense, he coined some phrases about knowledge that apply far beyond military matters.

Secretary Rumsfeld pointed out that there are some things that we know that we know. He called those "known knowns." We may, for example, know how many aircraft carriers some other country has. We may also know that they have troops and tanks, without knowing how many. In Rumsfeld's phrase, that would be an "unknown known" -- a gap in our knowledge that we at least know exists.

Finally, there are things we don't even know exist, much less anything about them. These are "unknown unknowns" -- and they are the most dangerous. We had no clue, for example, when dawn broke on September 11, 2001, that somebody was going to fly two commercial airliners into the World Trade Center that day.

There are similar kinds of gaps in our knowledge in the economy. Unfortunately, our own government creates uncertainties that can paralyze the economy, especially when these uncertainties take the form of "unknown unknowns."

The short-run quick fixes that seem so attractive to so many politicians, and to many in the media, create many unknowns that make investors reluctant to invest and employers reluctant to employ. Politicians may only look as far ahead as the next election, but investors have to look ahead for as many years as it will take for their investments to start bringing in some money.

The net result is that both our financial institutions and our businesses have had record amounts of cash sitting idle while millions of people can't find jobs. Ordinarily these institutions make money by investing money and hiring workers. Why not now?

Because numerous and unpredictable government interventions create many unknowns, including "unknown unknowns."

The quick fix that got both Democrats and Republicans off the hook with a temporary bipartisan tax compromise, several months ago, leaves investors uncertain as to what the tax rate will be when any money they invest today starts bringing in a return in another two or three or ten years. It is known that there will be taxes but nobody knows what the tax rate will be then.

Some investors can send their investment money to foreign countries, where the tax rate is already known, is often lower than the tax rate in the United States and -- perhaps even more important -- is not some temporary, quick-fix compromise that is going to expire before their investments start earning a return.

Although more foreign investments were coming into the United States, a few years ago, than there were American investments going to foreign countries, today it is just the reverse. American investors are sending more of their money out of the country than foreign investors are sending here.

Since 2009, according to the Wall Street Journal, "the U.S. has lost more than $200 billion in investment capital." They add: "That is the equivalent of about two million jobs that don't exist on these shores and are now located in places like China, Germany and India."

President Obama's rhetoric deplores such "outsourcing," but his administration's policies make outsourcing an ever more attractive alternative to investing in the United States and creating American jobs.

Blithely piling onto American businesses both known costs like more taxes and unknowable costs -- such as the massive ObamaCare mandates that are still evolving -- provides more incentives for investors to send their money elsewhere to escape the hassles.

Hardly a month goes by without this administration coming up with a new anti-business policy -- whether directed against Boeing, banks or other private enterprises. Neither investors nor employers can know when the next one is coming or what it will be. These are unknown unknowns.

Such anti-business policies would just be business' problem, except that it is businesses that create jobs.

The biggest losers from creating an adverse business climate may not be businesses themselves -- especially not big businesses, which can readily invest more of their money overseas. The biggest losers are likely to be working people in America, who cannot just relocate to Europe or Asia to take the jobs created there by American multinational corporations.
5774  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Political Economics: Flashback - The Democrats economic starting point on: July 12, 2011, 08:43:48 AM
I tacked this story on to another post elsewhere. but it bears repeating and inclusion in the great thread of political economics.  Obama argues that he inherited a mess, but he was part of the political-economic group that took majorities in Washington by storm in Nov. 2006, not Jan. 2009.  Pelosi-Reid-Obama-Biden-and Hillary were among the group that changed by 180 degrees the economic outlook for the country. 

So what was their starting point?

4.4% unemployment! 50 months continuous job growth.  A closing deficit.  Revenues to the Treasury exceeding (static) estimates by hundreds of billions of dollars.

The most timely and succinct story I have found about the state of affairs prior to that power shift is this story from CNN Money, dated Nov 3 2006, completely oblivious to the change of direction that is 4 days away except to note that the election is not going to be about the economy.  sad
"Never bet against a fully-employed American work force,"..."With full employment and wages on the rise, you can forget any talk of recession."
Unemployment sinks to 5-year low
Rate posts unexpected drop to lowest since May 2001; job growth revised higher.
By Chris Isidore, senior writer
November 3 2006: 2:42 PM EST

NEW YORK ( -- The unemployment rate fell to the lowest level in more than five years in October, the government reported Friday, a sign of unexpected strength in the job market.

The jobless rate sank to 4.4 percent from 4.6 percent in September, the Labor Department said. It was the lowest since May 2001. Economists had forecast the rate would hold steady.

But the September reading was revised up from the originally reported 51,000, and the increase, together with a revision to the August reading as well, had employment up 139,000 above earlier estimates heading into October. Those revisions and the modest October gain mean that 1.5 million jobs have been added so far this year, which is above forecast by most private economists, and blunts the effect of the modest October gain.

The Bush administration hailed the report, but one political analyst said it wasn't likely to help Republicans facing tough elections battles on Tuesday. Polls indicate the economy isn't the top issue in the midterm elections.

The tighter job market is apparently helping to lift wages, according to the Labor Department report, which showed that average wages rose 6 cents to $16.91 an hour last month, a shade above what economists had forecast.

Average wages are now up 3.9 percent over the last 12 months while the Consumer Price Index, the government's main inflation gauge, is up 2.1 percent for the 12 months ending in September, partly due to the recent sharp decline in oil prices. The spike in gas prices in September 2005, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, also blunted the year-over-year gain in the price measure.

"All this points to a very robust labor market," said Steven Wieting, senior economist at Citigroup. "Almost all the data this week have been weak. It's possible that the cuts in production will clear the deck and set us up for strong growth in 2007."

Rich Yamarone, director of economic research at Argus Research, said he thinks the return to strong growth could come as soon as the fourth quarter.

"Never bet against a fully-employed American work force," he said. "With full employment and wages on the rise, you can forget any talk of recession."
5775  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Issues in the American Creed (Constitutional Law and related matters) on: July 12, 2011, 08:22:05 AM
"I don't like NAMBLA, I don't understand NAMBLA, I don't condone NAMBLA.  I'll never fund NAMBLA, join NAMBLA, or befriend anyone I know is a member of NAMBLA.  That does not mean that NAMBLA lacks political speech rights."
Thank you Bigdog. I like the first part of that very much and I will grudging consider the truth of the last sentence.  

I know of one situation.  The man now in jail was a very prominent local person, head of the local bar association.  The unidentified boy, friend of the man's son, is someone we knew.  Top of the class student, never returned to school after testifying at the trial.  Has gone far away to counseling and school so in effect has lost his family in addition to his friends.  Man-boy 'love' is a crime with a victim. 

Maybe a bank robbers union can lobby against armed robbery restrictions, and rapists and murderers can argue for looser laws and lighter sentences, but no one needs to take their side or help their cause.  I personally find it to be more a perversion and exploitation of the Bill of Rights than a potential erosion - to claim we are unable differentiate those examples from real political speech.
5776  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / One week later: Glen Beck re-runs still winning his time slot! on: July 11, 2011, 10:21:55 PM
5777  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Issues in the American Creed (Constitutional Law and related matters) on: July 11, 2011, 09:50:04 PM
What GM does not see is that we have been wrongfully legislating our values on these people with laws against bestiality, sex with young children, limiting marriage to a husband and a wife, and threatening to treat an identifiably distinct unborn life like its a life.  You say criminal conspiracy but they say oppression of their free spirit and desires that are morally equal to yours.

The problem I see with sex with sheep, sex with elementary aged school children and killing the unborn is establishing with certainty the consent of the other party.  How can anyone support child labor prohibitions but oppose restrictions on a child's choice of sex partners (or does ACLU oppose child labor laws as well?).  If children are capable of consent and deserving of liberty, couldn't we send them to war at 8 or 9 too.

Abhorrent speech is abhorrent speech.  The Supreme Court chooses its cases.  The ACLU could stand to choose its cases a little more carefully.  Twisting the meaning of founding principles does nothing IMO to defend the Bill of Rights.
5778  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The electoral process, vote fraud, SEIU/ACORN et al, corruption etc. on: July 11, 2011, 07:36:51 PM
 smiley Very Funny! That flew right over my head until a while after I narrowed down that it had to be aimed at my Anita Dunn post.  ("Two of my favorite political philosophers Mao (70 million dead) and Mother Theresa, two people I turn to most.") I'm sure Mao, Ghandi and Anita Dunn would all say - go for it Anita! If you can make a buck Anita from your fame and contacts at the highest levels and help the marketers of over-processed cereals sell heaping helpings of processed sugar and empty calorie neutered grains by using cartoon characters and every other means available to get children to rot their teeth and their brain every morning, what the hell do you care.  Take the money!  'Go find your own Calcutta.'  They were all Marxists until someone handed them their first million or two.  Pissing off Michelle Obama also might expose here other side.  'You fight your war [Michelle Obama], and I'll fight mine.  You figure out what's right for you... You fight your war and you let them fight theirs':

I knew I should have put it on the Glen Beck thread!
5779  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / corruption etc: The revolving door between govt and lobbying on: July 11, 2011, 11:45:52 AM
I was surprised to learn the lead industry 'lobbyist'(?) managing the campaign of a group called the Sensible Food Policy Coalition, which includes General Mills, Kellogg, PepsiCo, and Time Warner, fighting against some of the Michelle Obama food initiatives, is Anita Dunn, former White House communications Director.
5780  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Political Economics: Warren Buffet's Worst Investment on: July 11, 2011, 11:35:03 AM

Warren Buffett’s Worst Investment
July 8, 2011  Kevin D. Williamson

Barack Obama must be the worst investment Warren Buffett has ever made.

The billionaire investor famously supported Barack Obama, who in turn used Buffett as his amulet of normalcy: What, me radical? Tell it to this rich white guy from Omaha. One of the lamest things I can remember having seen in politics transpired in 2008 when Obama was challenged on his radical associations and used Buffett to change the subject. His phrasing was memorably odd: “Let me tell you who I associate with. On economic policy, I associate with Warren Buffett and former Fed chairman Paul Volcker. If I’m interested in figuring out my foreign policy, [Editorial aside: “If”?] I associate myself with my running mate, Joe Biden, or with Dick Lugar, the Republican ranking member on the Senate Foreign Relations.”

So, here’s the wisdom of Associate Buffett on the debt ceiling: “We raised the debt ceiling seven times during the Bush administration. . . . We had debt at 120 percent of the GDP, far higher than this, after World War II, and no one went around threatenin­g that we’re going to ruin the credit of the United States or something in order to get a better balance of debt to GDP.”

Saving the world from Hitler was expensive, to be sure. But in 2011, we haven’t just saved the world from Hitler — we’ve just saved a bunch of bureaucrats and layabouts from honest labor. Not exactly comparable.

But what about World War II, anyway? Coming in at 25.3 percent of GDP, federal spending is higher today than it has been in any year since 1945. What did we do at the end of World War II? We cut spending — radically. In 1944, federal spending was 43.6 percent of GDP. By 1948 it was down to 11.6 percent of GDP. It edged up after that, but from 1948–60, federal spending averaged less than 17 percent of GDP. (Those were not the worst years in the history of the republic.)

What that means is that if federal spending as a share of GDP were reduced to that postwar average from 2012–16, we could balance the budget, start paying down the national debt, and cut taxes by $1 trillion over those five years. Grover Norquist could get his tax cuts, I could get my balanced budget, and Barack Obama still would preside over a government considerably bigger than FDR’s New Deal regime. Not my ideal outcome, but a decent compromise.

Inescapable conclusion: Spending is what is out of whack.

The federal government does a lot more today than it did in 1960. Are those things worth what they’re costing us? The price difference between Eisenhower’s Washington and Obama’s Washington is about 8.4 percent of GDP in 2011, or about $1.25 trillion, roughly the annual economic output of Australia, the thirteenth-largest economy in the world, or just shy of two Switzerlands.

If Warren Buffett thinks that’s a good buy, he’s losing his edge.
5781  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Raising taxes in a struggling economy is "the last thing you want to do." on: July 11, 2011, 11:30:09 AM
Obama v. Obama
In the session, Obama rejected a Republican proposal to seek $2.5 trillion in spending cuts and reforms, and insisted on higher taxes on businesses and wealthy individuals.

It is so hard catching this guy in a contradiction. 
5782  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Issues in the American Creed (Constitutional Law and related matters) on: July 11, 2011, 11:20:40 AM
A couple of observations without jumping all the way in here.  There is a contention between what I think of liberty and what others with a more socialistic view think of justice.  I've always taken note that in the pledge liberty comes before justice.

The story that the ACLU helped Rush Limbaugh IIRC is that they were dragged in kicking and screaming.  Here we had a high profile political 'enemy' of theirs being publicly humiliated over a criminal charge that LE had no chance of proving without forceably opening his most personal and private records, violating his civil liberties.  In the early crucial days of the scandal, the story at least on one side was - where is the ACLU on this? Isn't this perhaps one of the highest profile violations ever of the types of civil liberties violations they stand so publicly for? After quite a delay (Oct to Jan?), yes they came in and put an end to that criticism.  Not on the news of the violation but (at least in perception) in response to a spreading question - where is the ACLU on this.
"It may seem odd that the ACLU has come to the defense of Rush Limbaugh," the state chapter's executive director, Howard Simon, said ..."
  - Why would that seem odd?

My question on it all is something like this, are not basic economic freedoms a part of civil liberties?  Does the ACLU ever fight against 62% taxation in MN for example or the right of a shopkeeper in Abilene to not have Washington set his minimum wage, or the right across the country to choose fee for service healthcare?
5783  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government programs, spending, budget process, Who said this? on: July 09, 2011, 01:06:10 PM
The junior senator from Illinois, I would guess...

Obama: "The U.S. total debt at this point exceeds eight trillion dollars. That’s eight trillion with a “t”."

No, Senator, that would now be fourteen trillion with an 'F'.

Mentioned previously but I strongly believe that Obama in particular and Dems in general are getting a free pass for their part in bad governance and direction in the 2 years prior to his Presidency.  Everybody knew then that power had shifted and the lame duck became totally inconsequential on all matters domestic.  Debt was 8 trillion and unemployment was 4.4%!  THAT was the mess Republicans left when Obama et al took power.  Welfare rights advocates were empowered and investors were preparing to head for the hills.  Whatever the jobs program was before these guys came in is hope and change we are looking for.
Unemployment sinks to 5-year low
Rate posts unexpected drop to lowest since May 2001; job growth revised higher.
By Chris Isidore, senior writer
November 3 2006

NEW YORK ( -- The unemployment rate fell to the lowest level in more than five years in October, the government reported Friday, a sign of unexpected strength in the job market.  The jobless rate sank to 4.4 percent from 4.6 percent in September, the Labor Department said. It was the lowest since May 2001.
5784  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Issues in the American Creed (Constitutional Law and related matters) on: July 08, 2011, 11:35:55 PM
Famous and influential people have been known to read the forum (we allege) and what I wrote was partly tongue in cheek taunting her to stay on, in the face of others telling her to move on.  Did anyone who criticized me read the Bloomberg link that caused the post?  Bloomberg, and Bloomberg quoting the AP: "the growing chorus calling for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to step down... what 'Democrats and liberals' consider a 'nightmare vision of the Supreme Court’s future'... "   

This story is about what others are telling Ginsburg, not about Ginsburg.  I am aware she is a cancer survivor, but the word 'cancer' is not in the story nor anything else about her being sick, tired, bored or wanting to spend more time with family.  She did NOT retire and so cancer is not / was not the reason (so far) for her departure... (Is there an emoticon for frustration?)  Even the subtitlers at Bloomberg called this aging court watch obsession "A Creepy Pastime"!  The justices or the morgue will tell us when they are done; it is a lifetime appointment.  Most guesses about who will DIE next are wrong BTW.

If liberals are telling her their fear that Obama is about to lose the White House and Democrats are about to lose the senate, that the American people cannot be trusted to choose either body correctly and that we are about to face "a nightmare situation" (aka consent of the governed), but that could be avoided (manipulated) if only she would give up her seat BEFORE she otherwise wants to in order to influence or control decisions beyond her own years of service... if they can say THAT, then I can step up on my soapbox and tell her the other side of the story.  That is my right and she can handle a little taunt and pull in the opposite direction: 

Ruth, if you have a couple of good years left, serve them.  Serve America.  How could some newbie have the wisdom you have gained from your experience, and they keep picking them younger and younger.  This is still YOUR term.  78 is nothing, you look great.  Being a cancer survivor is not a disqualifier and you are not responsible for decisions made after your lifetime of service.  Oliver Wendell Holmes served until 90 and women live longer on average than men.  Don't let the nattering nabobs of negativity push you out of the job you earned and are entitled to.  Do it for yourself.  Do it for America.  Trust the American people and whoever they choose for President and Senate next (could be 4 more years of the same) to do the right thing whenever YOU say you are done.  Do it for the other cancer survivors that deserve respect, dignity and all the longevity they can get in their own lives and careers.  Stay the course Ruth!  smiley
This whole thing sounds like Monty Python Holy Grail plague humor in real life:

  MORTICIAN:  Bring out your dead!
      [clang]  (repeat)
  CUSTOMER:  Here's one -- nine pence.
  DEAD PERSON:  I'm not dead!
  CUSTOMER:  Nothing -- here's your nine pence.
  DEAD PERSON:  I'm not dead!
  MORTICIAN:  Here -- he says he's not dead!
  CUSTOMER:  Yes, he is.
  DEAD PERSON:  I'm not!
  MORTICIAN:  He isn't.
  CUSTOMER:  Well, he will be soon, he's very ill.
  DEAD PERSON:  I'm getting better!
  CUSTOMER:  No, you're not -- you'll be stone dead in a moment.
  MORTICIAN:  Oh, I can't take him like that -- it's against regulations.
  DEAD PERSON:  I don't want to go in the cart!
  CUSTOMER:  Oh, don't be such a baby.
  MORTICIAN:  I can't take him...
  DEAD PERSON:  I feel fine!
  CUSTOMER:  Oh, do us a favor...
  MORTICIAN:  I can't.
  CUSTOMER:  Well, can you hang around a couple of minutes?  He won't
      be long.
  MORTICIAN:  Naaah, I got to go on to Robinson's -- they've lost nine
  CUSTOMER:  Well, when is your next round?
  MORTICIAN:  Thursday.
  DEAD PERSON:  I think I'll go for a walk.
  CUSTOMER:  You're not fooling anyone y'know.  Look, isn't there
      something you can do?
  DEAD PERSON:  I feel happy... I feel happy.
  CUSTOMER:  Ah, thanks very much.
  MORTICIAN:  Not at all.  See you on Thursday.
  CUSTOMER:  Right.
      [clop clop]
5785  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 2012 Presidential: 6 minutes of Marco Rubio on the Senate Floor on: July 08, 2011, 10:58:49 AM

Without a teleprompter, with passion, this is what clarity and vision looks like and how it ties to the details of government policies.  Rubio is every candidate's VP choice.  He makes Ronald Reagan look unsure of himself and soft on freedom.  But can he hold his own in a debate with Joe Biden?

Watch this and then click the 'Play again' button.  Play it for your family and  send it to your friends.  If you are non-political - watch this video.  Do any of these things Obama and the Democrats are proposing grow jobs or fix the deficit?  The answer is no.  Someone needs to explain it and call them on it.

Rubio: "I've never met a single job creator who's ever said to me I can't wait until government raises taxes again so I can go out and create a job.  And I'm curious to know if they say that in New Hampshire because they don't say that in Florida. And so my view on all this is I want to know how many jobs these tax increases the president proposes will create because if they're not creating jobs and they're not creating new taxpayers, they're not solving the problem."
5786  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Constitutional Law: Composition of the Court on: July 08, 2011, 10:28:33 AM
Speculation by everyone but Ruth Bader Ginsburg (78) that she may need to step down shortly or risk 4, no 8-16 years of Republican rule.  I wonder what type of Justice that a President Bachmann would pick to replace her...  grin

My view is that 78 is not that old if everything upstairs is working.  To abandon her term midway (pulling a Palin?) for political timing purposes to manipulate justice decades out would be an insult to the framers, the voters and to the republic. Stay the course Prof. Ginsburg!

5787  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: We the Well-armed People (Gun rights stuff ) on: July 08, 2011, 09:36:37 AM
"the US DOJ will go after the state of Arizona and Maricopa county sheriff for trying to protect it's citizens from the illegal alien invasion, while it runs guns into Mexico and arms those illegals in AZ."

I simply don't understand this scandal/operation.  Is there someone of authority stepping forward and explaining this is what we did and this is why we did it?  Arming cross-border militants (what could possibly go wrong?) at a time we should be attacking INSIDE Iran for doing the same thing?  Maybe it will all come out in congressional hearings:
5788  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: July 07, 2011, 09:12:13 PM
"Iowahawk is a genius!" ... continued here:

Are you in favor of gay marriage for Libyan bombing crews on Boeing planes made in South Carolina?

Would you get tougher with Iran if you knew they were working with Scott Walker?

When your economic advisers hold policy meetings, do they stuff a towel at the bottom of the door?

5789  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government programs & regulations, spending, budget process on: July 07, 2011, 06:04:43 PM
Twitter question for the President from Iowahawk.  (He did not answer this one.)

"An $8 billion high speed train leaves Chicago for Iowa City at 8:15am at 40mph. Why?"
Much more at the link!
5790  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / America's Inner City: Programs encourage dependency, diminish motivation on: July 07, 2011, 08:48:46 AM

"Well, you know, here's what I would say. I think we should acknowledge that some welfare programs in the past were not well designed and in some cases did encourage dependency. As somebody who worked in low income neighborhoods, I've seen it, where people weren't encouraged to work, weren't encouraged to upgrade their skills, were just getting a check, and, over time, their motivation started to diminish. And I think even if you're progressive you've got to acknowledge that some of these things have not been well designed."  - Pres. Barack Obama  July 6, 2011  (video at link)
5791  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 2012 Presidential - He Made it Worse on: July 07, 2011, 08:42:51 AM
These are some stats of the incumbent administration.  My approach is to go back 2 more years to when Dems truly took over Washington.  'Breakeven' growth economically in America is about 3.1%.  So-called 2% growth is actually moving the country backwards.
-------------  (excerpted)

There are 2 million fewer private-sector jobs now than when Obama was sworn in, and the unemployment rate is 1.5 percentage points higher.

• There are now more long-term unemployed than at any time since the government started keeping records.

• The U.S. dollar is more than 12% weaker.

• The number of Americans on food stamps has climbed 37%.

• The Misery Index (unemployment plus inflation) is up 62%.

• And the national debt is about 40% higher than it was in January 2009.

In fact, reporters who bother to look will discover that Obama has managed to produce the worst recovery on record.

By this point in the Reagan recovery after the 1981-82 recession, for example, unemployment had been knocked down to 7.4% from a peak of 10.8%, and quarterly GDP growth averaged a screaming 7%.
5792  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 2012 Presidential: The Alibi Incumbent, Is this the best we can do? on: July 07, 2011, 08:28:24 AM
George Will today. The ending points to Gov. Rick Perry?

‘Alibi Obama’ is ripe for takedown
Ready-made slogan: ‘Is this the best we can do?
By George F. Will- Updated 10 hours ago

“If he popped up in the pinch he should of made a base hit and the reason he didn’t was so-and-so. And if he cracked one for three bases he ought to had a home run, only the ball wasn’t lively, or the wind brought it back, or he tripped on a lump o’ dirt, roundin’ first base.”

— Ring Lardner,

“Alibi Ike” (1915)

WASHINGTON — The Republicans’ 2012 presidential nominee will run against Alibi Ike. Lardner, a Chicago sportswriter, created that character (“His right name was Frank X. Farrell, and I guess the X stood for ‘Excuse me.’ ”) who resembles Chicagoan Barack Obama. After blaming his predecessor for this and that, and after firing all the arrows in liberalism’s quiver — the stimulus, cash for clunkers, etc. — Obama seems poised to blame the recovery’s anemia on Republican resistance to simultaneously raising the debt ceiling and taxes.

So the Republican nominee’s campaign theme can already be written. In 1960, candidate John Kennedy’s theme was: “We can do better.” In 2012, the Republican candidate should say “Is this the best we can do?”

In the contest to determine who will wield those words, there have been three important recent developments: Michele Bachmann’s swift ascent into the top tier of candidates, Tim Pawlenty’s perch there becoming wobbly and Jon Huntsman’s mystifying approach to securing a place there.

Bachmann has been propelled by three strengths: Her natural aptitude, honed by considerable practice, has made her formidable at the presentational side of politics. She has perfect pitch for the nominating electorate’s passions. And she has substantive private- and public-sector experience, as a tax lawyer and as a legislator on, among others, the House Intelligence Committee.

But she also has a deficiency — indiscipline — that can, if not promptly corrected, vitiate her assets. Unprepared for the intense scrutiny presidential campaigns receive, she trustingly repeats things told to her (confusing Concord, Mass., with Concord, N.H., and John Wayne with the mass murderer John Wayne Gacy), and she plunges into peripheral and utterly optional subjects she has not mastered (e.g., the Founders and slavery). Her staff, which is not ready for prime time, is not serving as a filter to protect her from eager but misinformed supporters, and from herself.

Pawlenty, a more ardent than discerning admirer of John McCain, is suddenly echoing McCain’s unhistorical and nonsensical canard that skepticism about nation-building in Afghanistan and opposition to the intervention in Libya’s civil war constitute isolationism. “America,” Pawlenty says, astonishingly, “already has one political party devoted to decline, retrenchment and withdrawal. It does not need a second one.” The Democratic Party supporting a Democratic president’s plunge into Libya is devoted to “withdrawal”? If only.

Occasionally there are Democratic presidential candidates who appeal to people who really do not like Democrats (e.g., former Arizona Gov. Bruce Babbitt in 1988), and Republicans who appeal to people who think Republicans are among nature’s mistakes (e.g., Illinois Rep. John Anderson in 1980). Huntsman seems to be auditioning for this role, which is puzzling, because such people are not nominated.

Huntsman’s campaign manager, John Weaver, a former McCain man, believes the Republican Party is “nowhere near being a national governing party” — a view usually held by people called Democrats — and that the “simple reason” is: “No one wants to be around a bunch of cranks.” Many of the cranks are called ... the Republican nominating electorate.

Announcing his candidacy near the Statue of Liberty, where Ronald Reagan began his 1980 post-convention campaign, Huntsman promised “civility” because “I don’t think you need to run down someone’s reputation” when running for president. Actually, you do.

You must say why your opponent deserves a reputation for inadequacy. So Reagan at that spot said Jimmy Carter’s “whole sorry record” was “a litany of despair, of broken promises, of sacred trusts abandoned and forgotten.” Reagan said Carter’s “cynical” proposals had produced “human tragedy, human misery, the crushing of the human spirit.” Reagan’s forthrightness was neither uncivil nor, in the electorate’s November opinion, untrue.

Who will carry the “Is This the Best We Can Do?” banner? So far, the serene front-runner, Mitt Romney, has nothing to fear from Huntsman’s politics of high-mindedness. Bachmann’s saliency with social conservatives, and the lurchings of Pawlenty’s campaign, threaten Pawlenty’s all-in wager on Iowa. And the potential fragility of Bachmann’s campaign turns attention to the last piece of the Republican puzzle — Texas’ Gov. Rick Perry, a high-octane social and economic conservative whom nobody could confuse with Alibi Ike.
5793  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / We the Well-armed People: Illegal Gunrunner Operation on: July 07, 2011, 08:14:18 AM
Should Eric Holder (and Obama) be tried in Mexico or in America (or at The Hague) for this type of crime?
5794  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 2012 Presidential: Obama's Jewish support down 22% on: July 06, 2011, 02:40:54 PM
 56 percent of Jewish Americans said they would vote to reelect Obama over a generic Republican candidate if the elections were held today...
78 percent of Jewish voters cast a ballot for Obama in 2008
5795  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: July 06, 2011, 11:27:17 AM
JDN, My 2cents: half-right.  It is: who can carry BOTH - conservatives and independents.  Who can win the nomination AND win the general election, not just who can win independents and a general election.  People remember the McCain experience.  He headed into the general election needing to reach rightward for a base when he should have been reaching out to the rest.

Now we are in the beauty pageant phase - ideological beauty - and that choice at the moment from the activists is Bachmann over Cain, Gingrich, Paul, Santorum.  On the competence and stature side it is Romney over Pawlenty and Huntsman.

Next come all the twists and turns along the way.  Huntsman and Pawlenty aren't out of it IMO yet.  They each need to establish what they seem to be missing and they need to be in a position to benefit from someone else faltering which is bound to happen.  As Dick Morris put it, these are the quarterfinals through this year and in the earliest primaries.

My thought on Huntsman at this point is that we got the wrong one.  Jon Jr. is a great guy but it was his father who really was the achiever.
5796  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Constitutional Law: Lax Scrutiny, Correcting O'Connor's Mistakes on: July 06, 2011, 10:33:35 AM
James Taranto/WSJ Opinion: "Not only is Judge Cole's decision unlikely to withstand appeal, it could provide an opening for the Supreme Court to revisit its 2003 ruling that upheld Michigan's racial preferences."

How do you find 5 justices to uphold race discrimination without O'Connor? "Roberts wrote [in 2007] "the way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race." Scalia, Thomas and Alito joined that portion of Roberts' opinion..." and Kennedy (and Scalia and Thomas) already dissented in 2003 Gretter v Bollinger.
Justice O'Connor's Lax Scrutiny
A new ruling in favor of racial preferences could spell their doom.


"Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette said . . . he will appeal a court ruling that overturned the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative, which bans the use of race and gender preferences in college admissions," the Detroit News reported Friday. Earlier the same day, a panel of the Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals voted 2-1 to strike down the initiative, also known as Proposal 2, as unconstitutional.

If you're hearing about this for the first time, you may have the same reaction we did, which is to wonder how in the world a court could find that Michigan's racial preferences in college admissions--which barely passed constitutional muster when the Supreme Court upheld them eight years ago--are constitutionally required. Perhaps the Equal Protection Clause allows for some exceptions, but it's downright Orwellian to claim that equal protection implies mandatory discrimination.

Well, it's complicated. Judge R. Guy Cole, who wrote the ruling in the unwieldily named case of Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Integration and Immigrant Rights and Fight for Equality by Any Means Necessary v. Regents of the University of Michigan (hereinafter BAMN), was clever enough to avoid reaching a conclusion that is ridiculous on its face. Instead, taking his cue from the plaintiff organization's name, he came at it from a different angle.

His ruling concedes that the Equal Protection Clause does not require Michigan to maintain policies that discriminate in favor of minorities. It concludes, however, that the means by which the state banned such discrimination--a ballot measure amending the Michigan Constitution--violated the clause. "Proposal 2 unconstitutionally alters Michigan's political structure by impermissibly burdening racial minorities," he wrote.

That conclusion is consistent with a pair of decades-old Supreme Court precedents. But it is too clever by half. Not only is Judge Cole's decision unlikely to withstand appeal, it could provide an opening for the Supreme Court to revisit its 2003 ruling that upheld Michigan's racial preferences.

The two precedents on which Cole bases his conclusion are Hunter v. Erickson (1969) and Washington v. Seattle School Dist. No. 1 (1982). In Hunter the Supreme Court struck down an Akron, Ohio, ballot initiative that had repealed a municipal fair-housing ordinance and required that any future laws against housing discrimination be approved by a majority of voters as well as the City Council.

In a decision by Justice Byron White, the court held 8-1 that although Akron was under no obligation to enact a fair-housing law, the creation of an additional hurdle that such legislation must pass constituted an invidious distinction "between those groups who sought the law's protection against racial, religious, or ancestral discriminations in the sale and rental of real estate and those who sought to regulate real property transactions in the pursuit of other ends." Since those in the former group belonged to minorities that are protected from discrimination, the ballot measure violated equal protection.

But how could the Akron initiative, whose effect was to permit discrimination, be the equivalent for equal protection purposes of the Michigan initiative, which prohibited discrimination? That's where Seattle comes in. Washington's largest city used what was known as "forced busing" to encourage racial mixing in its public schools. Washington voters approved Initiative 350, a statewide ban on busing for racial integration. The high court struck down the measure, holding that, like the Akron one 13 years earlier, it unconstitutionally burdened minority members, who were the presumed beneficiaries of busing.

Justice Harry Blackmun's opinion took the court into Orwellian territory. He wrote "that the initiative established an impermissible racial classification in violation of Hunter v. Erickson, . . . 'because it permits busing for non-racial reasons but forbids it for racial reasons.' " By such logic, if one can even call it that, the Equal Protection Clause violates itself, because it permits discrimination for a host of nonracial reasons but forbids it for racial reasons.

There is nonetheless an important distinction between forced busing circa 1982 and racial preferences in college admissions today. The constitutionality of the former was not then in dispute. In Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education (1971), the justices had unanimously blessed judicially mandated busing as a remedy for de jure (state-imposed) segregation.

Seattle's segregation was merely de facto, and its busing program had not been imposed by a court. The justices had not expressly upheld busing in such circumstances. But Blackmun noted in a footnote that the "appellants . . . do not challenge the propriety of race-conscious student assignments for the purpose of achieving integration, even absent a finding of prior de jure segregation." (Such assignments would be successfully challenged, in Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1, in 2007.)

By contrast, the constitutionality of the University of Michigan's racial preferences had been called into question before Proposal 2 was enacted, in a pair of cases that reached the Supreme Court in 2003. In Gratz v. Bollinger, the court struck down the university's undergraduate preferences. In Grutter v. Bollinger, the court, in a 5-4 ruling written by Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, upheld the law school's supposedly somewhat looser preferences--but on very narrow grounds (citations and needless brackets omitted from all quotations of court opinions):

    As part of its goal of "assembling a class that is both exceptionally academically qualified and broadly diverse," the Law School seeks to "enroll a 'critical mass' of minority students." The Law School's interest is not simply "to assure within its student body some specified percentage of a particular group merely because of its race or ethnic origin." That would amount to outright racial balancing, which is patently unconstitutional. Rather, the Law School's concept of critical mass is defined by reference to the educational benefits that diversity is designed to produce.

Here is Judge Cole explaining why Proposal 2 resembles Washington's antibusing initiative:

    Proposal 2, like Initiative 350, has a "racial focus," because the Michigan universities' affirmative-action programs "inure primarily to the benefit of the minority, and [are] designed for that purpose," for the reasons articulated by the Court in Seattle. Just as the desegregative busing programs at issue in Seattle were designed to improve racial minorities' representation at many public schools, race-conscious admissions policies increase racial minorities' representation at institutions of higher education. Indeed, underrepresented minorities lobbied for the adoption of such policies at Michigan's universities in the first place for this reason, and, further, the unrebutted evidence in the record indicates that Proposal 2 will likely negatively impact minority representation at Michigan's institutions of higher education. Ample evidence thus grounds our conclusion that race-conscious admissions policies "inure primarily to the benefit of the minority."

How can Judge Cole's finding that Michigan's racial preferences were designed to "inure primarily to the benefit of the minority" be reconciled with binding Supreme Court precedent that such preferences can be justified only by "the educational benefits" of a "diverse student body"?

Cole's awkwardly written attempt to finesse the problem only makes it more glaring. He claims his conclusion that Proposal 2 has a "racial focus" as required by Hunter and Seattle "is not impacted by the fact that increased representation of racial minorities in higher education also benefits students of other groups and our nation as a whole." Thus he reduces the purported educational benefits of diversity--the entire basis on which the high court rested the constitutionality of Michigan's racial preferences--to an afterthought.

Unless the full Sixth Circuit overturns Judge Cole's ruling, it is a certainty that the Supreme Court will take it up, for it raises questions of the sort that only the justices can resolve. Not only does it expose a tension between two lines of the high court's jurisprudence, but there is also a split between appellate courts. The Ninth Circuit has upheld Proposition 209, a similar ballot initiative from California.

The justices could resolve BAMN in three different ways. The narrowest, because it would leave all existing precedents undisturbed, would be to hold that the Hunter and Seattle framework does not apply to Proposal 2 because the court has already held in Grutter that the constitutionality of the policies in question depends on their having not been designed to "inure primarily to the benefit of the minority." Since the four liberal justices have a strong interest in preserving the "diversity" rationale for racial preferences--especially Elena Kagan, a former elite law school dean--such a ruling could very well go 9-0.

The court could strike down the 1982 Seattle ruling and hold that ballot initiatives or similar measures that affect race are constitutional as long as the substance of the policy in question does not offend equal protection. Seattle is an anachronism anyway: a 5-4 decision in favor of an obsolete social policy by a court whose members have all since retired, died or both. So it's hard to predict how today's justices would come down on that one.

The most aggressive approach--and therefore perhaps the unlikeliest, but also the one that would be most satisfying to those of us who care about the integrity of the law--would be to use BAMN as an opportunity to revisit Grutter. Judge Cole's assertion that Michigan's racial preferences were designed to "inure primarily to the benefit of the minority" may, after all, be true. We think it is. If we are right, the "diversity" rationale that the Grutter majority accepted was a fraud.

That would mean the court was derelict in its duty, as Justice Anthony Kennedy argued in his Grutter dissent:

    The separate opinion by Justice [Lewis] Powell in Regents of Univ. of Cal. v. Bakke is based on the principle that a university admissions program may take account of race as one, nonpredominant factor in a system designed to consider each applicant as an individual, provided the program can meet the test of strict scrutiny by the judiciary. . . . If strict scrutiny is abandoned or manipulated to distort its real and accepted meaning, the Court lacks authority to approve the use of race even in this modest, limited way. The opinion by Justice Powell, in my view, states the correct rule for resolving this case. The Court, however, does not apply strict scrutiny. By trying to say otherwise, it undermines both the test and its own controlling precedents.

If the current court revisits Grutter, the result will certainly be a 5-4 ruling over bitter liberal dissent. It probably won't quite spell the end of racial preferences in university admissions, for Kennedy endorsed the "diversity" rationale in theory. His dissent was from O'Connor's travesty of a mockery of a sham of a mockery of a travesty of two mockeries of a sham of strict scrutiny.

Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, by contrast, did not accept the proposition that diversity justifies discrimination. And although Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito have not weighed in directly on the question, Roberts wrote in his 2007 Parents Involved opinion that "the way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race." Scalia, Thomas and Alito joined that portion of Roberts's opinion, but Kennedy did not.

It is unusual for the court to reconsider its own constitutional precedents when it can decide a case more narrowly. But that's just what the justices did last year in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, when a 5-4 majority led by Justice Kennedy overturned another 2003 O'Connor precedent. If BAMN reaches the high court, Kennedy will again have an opportunity to correct one of O'Connor's mistakes.
5797  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: July 06, 2011, 09:17:01 AM
8% say the economy is good?  That number seems high, are we measuring sense of humor?

87% approval among blacks? Yes, but they won't show up in anywhere near the same numbers as 2008.  The excitement is gone.  Black unemployment is way up.  Obama is the first (half)black President and that was historic, but nothing magical came to them for it.  Blacks as a group fare better like everyone else in pro-growth times like under Presidents Reagan and Clinton  than under Obama.  Obama may win 87% of blacks or more in exit polls, but far lower in number of votes than in 2008.

The comparison to Bush at 20-24% approval is in the 2006-2008 period, not 2004.  Conservatives turned against Bush after reelection while liberals at this point believe Obama is their best and only bet.

Bush approvals in 2004 were roughly where Obama is now (  2004 was about war but Bush had pro-growth policies kicking in by that time while Obama has put nothing in motion to grow the economy, is still working further on an anti-growth agenda (spread the prosperity), and recession fatigue has already set in.

Pretty hard to say 'stay the course' when no one can identify in a positive way what the course is. 

The only campaign slogan they have come up with so far is that everything was far worse than we thought when we got here (Bush's fault).

Missing from the Republican campaigns IMO is any attempt to pin some blame for the 2008 financial collapse onto the Pelosi-Reid-Obama congress that took Washington by storm in Nov 2006, promising anti-growth / anti-productive investment measures, right when unemployment was at its lowest point.
5798  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Energy Politics & Science on: July 05, 2011, 06:44:13 PM
If we wanted to squeeze the profit per gallon and power and influence out of oil companies, we would expand production, not curtail it.  Companies like Exxon-Mobil and Koch are in a business that includes owning oil at the various points of the production and transportation process.  When prices are forced up with excessive regulations, it forces out competition, forces up prices and gives a windfall to big oil companies.  I wonder if that is what the Obama policies intend.
5799  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Pathological Science, Longest Utah Ski season in Snowbiird History on: July 05, 2011, 06:12:31 PM
I love this story. Just a few years ago I remember Copper Mountain Colorado warning that snow skiing die as a sport because of global warming.

Snowbird caps longest season with Fourth of July snow skiing
Published: Monday, July 4, 2011
LITTLE COTTONWOOD CANYON (Utah) — A few thousand mostly red-and-blue-clad skiers celebrated the Fourth of July on the white slopes at Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort.  By being open for skiing Monday Snowbird set a record for the number of days it was able to stay open in a single season with 202...
Snowbird also had a record for snowfall this season, with 783 inches...
(For those of us who appreciate skiing in fresh powder, that is over 65 feet of snow in one season!)
5800  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness: Demagogic Dishonesty on: July 05, 2011, 04:41:20 PM

July 1, 2011
Corporate Jets and Tax Breaks
By Jonah Goldberg

President Obama's core message in his Wednesday press conference, his first since March, could be found in his advice to Republicans. "You go talk to your constituents and ask them, ‘Are you willing to compromise your kids' safety so some corporate-jet owner can get a tax break?'"

This was just one of six shots the president took at corporate-jet owners. A novice might be forgiven for thinking that the president really doesn't like corporate jets or that the Republicans cared so much about the darn things that they had proposed crossing out "arms" in the Second Amendment and replacing it with "corporate jets." Where's Charlton Heston to proclaim, "From my cold dead hands you can have my Learjet 85 . . . "?

A novice might also think that tax status of corporate jets is of disproportionate significance in how to move this country toward a balanced budget.

But the novice would be wrong. For starters, Obama's most recent budget calls for adding $9.5 trillion in new debt over the next decade. If you got rid of the "accelerated depreciation" of corporate jets, Reuters economics columnist James Pethokoukis calculates, it would save a whopping .03 percent of that total.

Sadly, the room was full of journalists who do not consider themselves novices but who nonetheless let Obama get away with this demagogic dishonesty. No one asked the president why he suddenly cares so much about getting rid of a tax break he himself was for before he was against it. Indeed, no one asked why, if it is such an affront to the liberal conscience, it was part of Obama's stimulus bill, which was passed without any Republican votes in the House and only three in the Senate (which means Nancy Pelosi voted for special tax breaks for corporate jets and the GOP didn't).

More broadly, no one threw a flag on his claim that "every single observer who's not an elected official, who's not a politician," agrees with him on the burning need to raise taxes as part of any budget deal. This is a good example of Obama's most grating tic, his need to claim that all reasonable and serious people agree with him and anyone who disagrees must be doing so for base or ideological motives.

No one queried why he talks about the need to raise taxes on "millionaires and billionaires" but the fine print of his proposals defines millionaires and billionaires as people who make $200,000 a year as individuals or $250,000 as joint-filing couples. Jay Duckson at Central Business Jets tells the Wall Street Journal that the starting price for a private jet is $10 million dollars. Annual upkeep and fuel is about $500,000. You do the math.

This points to what is most offensive about Obama's focus-grouped class-warfare rhetoric: the total incoherence of the underlying policies.

The day before his press conference, Obama was in Bettendorf, Iowa, at the Alcoa Davenport Works plant to highlight his economic vision for manufacturing. "Alcoa is showing us the future we can build here in eastern Iowa and across the country," he proclaimed.

"The idea is to create jobs now, and to make sure America stays on the cutting edge of manufacturing for years to come," Obama declared.

The factory Obama visited, however, isn't a generic aluminum plant. It is, according to Alcoa, the "premier aerospace supply plant and is today the hub of Alcoa's $3 billion aerospace business."

That includes the general aviation industry, which is centered in Wichita, Kan., where they make private jets "right here in America" as Obama likes to say. The upshot: Obama says that Alcoa must lose business among American customers to repeal a tax break Obama and the Democrats supported because Republicans want to balance the budget.

To be fair, Alcoa's biggest customers aren't manufacturers of private jets but the big manufacturers of commercial jets - you know, like Boeing. Well, that company is being told by Obama's union-hack-packed National Labor Relations Board that it cannot open a new manufacturing plant in South Carolina, because to do so would offend Obama's beloved unions in Washington State.

The point isn't that there's no merit to any of Obama's positions (personally, I'm all for clearing the junk out of the tax code). The point is that at this point merit simply has nothing to do with the positions Obama takes.
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