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5751  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Russia-- Europe on: April 12, 2010, 11:41:28 PM
Besides mass murder speculation, another thing that follows from the list of violations by Russia brought to light here is what a joke it is that we still go through the UN 'Security Council' for crucial matters of global security with Russia sitting as an equal 'partner'.

I hope that in the next generation of leaders someone has the courage to stand up to this farce a la Reagan addressing the value of the wall:  Mr. Secretary General of the UN, tear down this phony security council.  To the Ways and Means chair and the UN, we wont pay one dollar more than Uganda or Congo pays ever again or bring important issues before the security council until the council includes only countries with a sincere interest in global security.
5752  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Russia-- Europe on: April 12, 2010, 06:45:21 PM
Didn't Russia just foment the overthrow the govt of Krygyztan...invaded Georgia without consequence...uses its status as a natural gas supplier to squeeze and nudge Europe towards desired behaviors...backed down the US from anti-missile defense for Europe...?

Yes, and shame on us.  They are ruthless and on a roll. Why would they risk all that for an inefficient takedown of a Polish leader who annoys them?  There is a difference between assassination and terrorism.  Downing an airliner doesn't make sense to me. I like the other story about a powerful person thinking this can't or won't happen to them better, it fits the aviation mentality of JFK jr, Paul Wellstone, Ron Brown and maybe John Denver.  Not excusing Russians from their other crimes.
5753  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tax Policy on: April 12, 2010, 01:47:43 PM
"If everyone is paying a flat percentage, or a pay as you go fee, then everyone is paying a fair share."

I am with Rarick on this one (unfortunately that only makes two of us).  Every dollar earned should be taxed the same.  Then we all have the same stake in our nation when we vote for or against programs, taxes and expenditures.  That is the way public spending gets scrutinized and contained. Necessary assistance should be addressed only on the spending side and better yet on the private charitable side. 

Since this is politically impossible, then the compromise has to be to move only in the direction of flatter, wider and simpler taxes that reach further into the electorate, not to target or isolate any group as the party of free lunch and class warfare proposes.
5754  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Russia-- Europe on: April 12, 2010, 01:34:55 PM
"I hope the Polish investigators have the skill sets required to do a proper forensic analysis of the evidence."

Agree and they should seek assistance from whoever are the best at this.  My doubt isn't that Putin is morally incapable of this, just that I assume the Polish President is more an annoyance than a threat to him. Putin is a shrewd politician and downing an airliner full of innocent people could hurt even his reputation.
5755  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Libertarian Issues on: April 12, 2010, 01:25:33 PM
A justification for opposing meth lab next door is the unusually high risk of explosion and contamination.  Liberties tend to end when they cross over and take away someone else's liberty - (like abortion).

Over the weekend, a neighbor of a property of mine had a huge barn fire very close to my property.  My tenants were downwind and evacuated; any further spreading could have certainly taken lives.  Cause unknown so the lesson from it is unknown, point is that some regulation can be justified.  This was in a very unregulated, unenforced area, my other properties are in the highly and overly regulated city where virtually nothing is allowed.  Yet all my real damage seems to occur in the regulated area including vandalism, crime and continuous threats of closure from the regulators as I try be a law abiding citizen and eek out a living providing affordable housing.  They can't regulate reasonably and stop there. They can't send a statement or notice without a threat of closure, because that is their power. It becomes an occupation, a power and an entity all its own.

At our own home the neighbor built a tall home on a narrow lot and blocked all mid-day winter sun from our house forever.  There should a law against that. Actually 13 different ordinances prohibit what they built, so variances were approved to get the 'improvement', much like Kelo.  My pet peeve is the certain laws come with exceptions.  Real laws against real crimes like murder don't require exceptions.  For zoning and regulating people's lives and properties, the exceptions always bring us back toward third world bribe and corruption and power of the state, and away from equal protection.
5756  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Russia-- Europe on: April 11, 2010, 11:09:16 AM
I have heard no foul play.  What a tragedy for all 97 aboard.  I'm sure no tears were shed though by Putin regarding Kaczynski.  Can't help being reminded of whistle blower Alexander Litvinenko with the radioactive poisoning and Ukraine Viktor Yushchenko with dioxin poisoning.
5757  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: April 11, 2010, 10:57:11 AM
I noticed that Brian Wesbury predicts 4% GDP growth by year end.  The campaigns of both sides will have a variety of statstics to claim as their evidence of success and failure.  I would assume unemployment will stay high as long as investment taxes remain punitive.  Republicans will need to make the connection to working people that overtaxing employers does not bring in free money.
5758  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Poland on: April 11, 2010, 10:40:08 AM
Freedom lost a friend in the plane crash that killed Poland's president. 
What's Next for Poland

In the United States, all you have to do is say "Pearl Harbor," and everyone knows what you are talking about. In Poland—a country that was invaded countless times by Russians from the east and Germans from the west—there are far more names of places that everyone instantly recognizes because of their tragic symbolism. But one stands out above all others: Katyn. The fact that the plane carrying Polish President Lech Kaczynski and 95 others, including a who's who of the Polish political and military elite, crashed as it was attempting to land in the western Russian city of Smolensk near the Katyn forest, makes this national tragedy overwhelming in its emotional impact.

Kaczynski and the others on the ill-fated flight were supposed to go to the Katyn forest to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the execution of 21, 857 Polish POWs and civilians on the direct orders of Joseph Stalin and his Politburo. When I was growing up in our family's new home in the United States, my father—who had served in the Polish Army in 1939 and then fled to the West, joining Polish forces under British command—made sure that his children knew the full meaning of Katyn. Poland hadn't only been invaded by Hitler, he reminded us; it had also been invaded by Stalin's armies, and then they had attempted to wipe out any future source of opposition by executing so many of its top officers and men.

The fact that Stalin and subsequent Soviet and Polish communist regimes insisted on blaming this crime on the Nazis, who invaded Russia only much later, just magnified Katyn's potency as a symbol. When I started visiting Poland as a student and then as a journalist in communist times, people only had to whisper the word "Katyn" to signal their opposition to the government and its wholesale falsification of history. You could talk openly about the truth of Katyn only in the West, where Polish exiles like my father and grandfather, who served in the Polish government-in-exile in London during World War II, kept insisting that the cover-up was as bad as the original crime.

But things began to change after the fall of communism in 1989, triggered by Solidarity's successful battle for freedom in Poland, which included the freedom to tell the full truth about Katyn. In a goodwill gesture to Poland in 1992, Russia's new President Boris Yeltsin finally released the order from Stalin's Politburo that confirmed Soviet responsibility for the murders. While this briefly improved Polish-Russian relations, Yeltsin's successor Vladimir Putin took a harder line on history, initially encouraging a more positive view of Stalin ("the most successful Soviet leader ever," proclaimed a Russian teacher's manual in 2007) and renewed equivocation about his record of mass murder. That included new efforts by some Russians to deny the truth about Katyn.

The irony is that this year, on the 70th anniversary of those murders, there was renewed hope that the truth would really set both countries free.  Four days before the fatal crash, Putin had accompanied Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk to Katyn and admitted Stalin's responsibility for what happened—although he also tossed in a pseudo-justification by claiming the Soviet leader was avenging earlier mistreatment of Russian POWs by Poles in the two countries' war of 1920.

That was precisely the kind of statement that still infuriated Poles, and particularly someone like President Kaczynski, 60, whose experience as a Solidarity activist in the 1980s made him instinctively distrustful of Russian leaders who weren't willing to come completely clean about their history. When I interviewed Kaczynski shortly after Russia's brief war with Georgia in August 2008, he was uncompromising in his language. "There was a test of strength, and Russia showed the face it wanted to show—an imperial face," he told me. He also blasted the West for its passive response.

Yet even Kaczynski, as tough as he was on the Russians, could imagine a better day—so long, as he put it, that the world would "convince Russia that the imperial era is over." And the very fact that such high-level Polish delegations, representing so much of recent Polish history, were flying often to commemorate the Katyn massacre demonstrated how times have changed. Among those who died today was Ryszard Kaczorowski, the last Polish president-in-exile in London, who officially gave up his post when former Solidarity leader Lech Walesa was elected president of a newly free Poland in 1990. Kaczorowski's government was a largely symbolic continuation of the first Polish government-in-exile during World War II, the government my grandfather was a part of. To Poles, all these connections feel personal.

And then there was a whole new generation of parliamentarians and government officials who died today as well. Among them was Undersecretary of Defense Stanislaw Komorowski, a gifted former scientist who then embarked on a diplomatic career. I met him at a small dinner party in Warsaw in October. As he juggled urgent calls on his cell about Vice President Biden's visit to Poland to discuss missile defense plans, he was both witty and highly knowledgeable, covering a broad range of issues in a coolly analytical way that was quite different from the more impassioned style of slightly older ex-opposition activists like President Kaczynski.

But nothing can be coolly analytical about the way Poles are thinking about Katyn. Now it's not only a name that connotes a past tragedy with continuing political overtones; it will also live in the memories of today's Poles as a symbol of the loss of so many of their countrymen who experienced the full range of the country's recent history—and its battles over the meaning of the place where they, too, came to die.

Newsweek's former Warsaw bureau chief Andrew Nagorski is now vice president and director of public policy at the EastWest Institute. He is the author of  The Greatest Battle: Stalin, Hitler, and the Desperate Struggle for Moscow That Changed the Course of World War II.
5759  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Health Care, 2 questions on: April 05, 2010, 10:44:36 AM
First, remember poor people have free coverage, elderly have coverage, the rich have coverage (even if it is self insured) and the employees of most medium and large firms have plans, so we are filling a gap mostly where the cost doesn't show value to the person declining coverage.

I'll go with the easy one first: "2) What should be the rules for insurance companies when someone develops a serious condition?  Should the insurance company be allowed to drop them?"  

No.  That is what you are carrying healthy insurance for, IMO, so it will be in place when you are not healthy or eligible for affordable coverage.  The policy pays up to the policy lifetime limits if the premiums are maintained.  Otherwise, who would ever insure while they are healthy?

1)  What should be the rules concerning someone with a pre-existing condition?  What is the conceptual basis for your opinion?

Conceptually, there is no easy answer.  We can deny coverage but we don't deny treatment.  This current law will requires 'repeal and REPLACE'. You can't politically just repeal and this is the heart of it.

Generally when I see a 3-way financial dispute, in this case the taxpayer, the insurance company and the patient, I say split it 3 ways in compromise.  There should be a one-time settlement to allow all people with pre-conditions now to get in.

Going forward without an individual mandate, the incentive needs to be to take coverage now while you're healthy and a strong disincentive to wait.  All you can really do is require a spend down of people's future assets and income if they wait.  Isn't this done with nursing home costs now?
5760  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: China on: April 04, 2010, 11:35:18 AM
"Sec'y of the Treasury Geithner has recently been talking a bit about how the Chinese should revalue the renminbi.  Coincidentally we now begin to hear that the Chinese may get on board for some lesser level of sanctions against Iran." 

The Geithner report trashing China over currency manipulation was supposed to come out Apr 15.  Hu visits the 12th. Geithner 'delays' the report trashing China.  China presumably will agree not to fully block watered down sanctions which we all agree are just symbolic, not effective.  This pressures Israel not to strike because the international 'community' is 'doing something'.  And then what? We all live happily ever after?

No one can say ever again that the Obama administration doesn't have experience with this type of negotiations, not after healtcare via the Louisiana purchase, the Cornhusker kickback, the federal hospital for Connecticut and the State Bank of North Dakota.  These guys know how to put a deal together!
 April 4 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner delayed a scheduled April 15 report to Congress on exchange-rate policies, sidestepping a decision on whether to accuse China of manipulating the value of the yuan.

Geithner in a statement yesterday urged China to move toward a more flexible currency and said a series of meetings over the next three months will be “critical” to bringing policy changes that lead to a stronger, “more balanced” global economy. The delay comes as Chinese President Hu Jintao is scheduled to visit Washington for a nuclear summit April 12-13.
5761  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Way Forward for the American Creed on: April 03, 2010, 01:08:35 PM
I agree with Prentice.  Your money needs to go directly to the right candidates and the right causes and you get to decide what that is.  After the nominees are set for each race, then you may have to hold your nose and vote, but there is no reason to have your hard earned money support candidates elsewhere around the country who will later be stabbing you in the back.

For example, McCain's career of being a maverick kills conservative candidates in other states. Dem incumbents excuse their extremist votes by saying it was a bipartisan vote, that they were joined in that vote by the respected R-senator from Arizona so therefore it was a reasonable position.

CCP I agree with you about Michael Steele, but think firing him now will only make things worse.  The RNC is not the republican party, the power today is from the ground up.  Let the party succeed in spite of the so-called leaderhip.  If the RNC does not earn your dollar then just go after the candidates and causes who will.  A group of MN businessmen have put up some attention grabbing billboards, here's one in Michele Bachmann's district this year:

5762  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Fascism, liberal fascism, progressivism: on: April 02, 2010, 01:53:15 PM
If we define 'rightist' as someone who believes in a less intrusive, controlling government, pretty hard to find fascist in that definition.  Wanting the Pledge of Allegiance recited is about as far as we go, but we are asking them to pledge to keep our liberties.

With most leftists, the charges of fascism are exaggerated.  They don't really want to control ALL of your life cradle to grave.  Far more than they should but not all of it.

When you look at the kooks who commit the atrocities, I thinks the ties to their politics either way are mostly irrelevant.  Their violence does not further their agenda in any of the examples.  They are mentally ill, criminally deranged or physically missing a crucial connection in their brain, whichever political side they say they are on.  Bill Maher flipping the bird doesn't move the moral or economic arguments for or against national health care or closing Guantanamo one iota in either direction.  It just means he's a jerk.
5763  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: April 02, 2010, 01:34:54 PM
"...Israel  still existing  January 20,2013?"

Placing my bet on Israel.  In some ways better able to defend itself if they don't feel they need to clear their actions with their (former) ally.  We may gain from what they may need to do for themselves in this crisis.  Unlike most places receiving US aid over the previous decades, I don't think they squandered theirs. I imagine their intelligence, planning and strike capabilities are in pretty good shape, with high readiness.  Opponents may have warheads but I question their accuracy.

I am pleased to read that Obamas will leave after one term. smiley  At first it looked like they would stay 16 years, but I doubt Michelle will run if he is still eligible.

9% of Israeli Jews see Obama as pro-Israel.  Is that just the margin of error or what is wrong with those people?
5764  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Stratfor China - Crunch Time on: April 02, 2010, 02:26:58 AM
I finally took the time to go through this. Thanks Crafty for posting. A synopsis and a few comments:

They see the Chinese economic system as "inherently unstable.", basically a house of cards. Economy held up by exports, but exports are down 20%.  Exports won't recover until 2012 (if then), held up by subsidies until then. 

The state tripled its infusion to banks for lending. A third of GDP is from propped up loans.  A fourth of that lending is for non-productive uses (most of the rest questionable too).

The US may 'force' China to both appreciate their currency and accept more exports which, in Japan, caused a collapse and long term stagnation.

They only wonder which will bring down China first, its own internal imbalances or the U.S. decision to take a more mercantilist approach (export orientation) to international trade."
The China economy as we know it hasn't had to survive a downturn.  Downturns have a good sides, easing bubbles and clearing out dead wood to make room for new, healthier growth.  Politically, China's ruling party hasn't gone through bad times.  Their 'legitimacy' comes from the security they bring, including economic.

Real numbers are probably worse / far worse than the ruling parties published data.

From a previous Strat, the (silly) tire issue with tariff imposed in Sept. was a warning shot from the Obama administration to the Chinese of what powers are at his disposal and what his willingness is to use them. 

The US, presumably in recovery, could instead dip downward again and further.  US consumers have more disposable income than all of China's other markets combined.  If our dip is long term, chances are China can't keep pretending things are fine and subsidize their way out of it.

If China quit buying our debt, it would force fiscal discipline in the US government.  If the US either tanks or heads into protectionism or both, China could collapse economically, leading also to a political crisis IMO.

OTOH, all previous reports of their demise have been premature.
5765  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Fascism, liberal fascism, progressivism: on: April 02, 2010, 01:24:35 AM
Rog, Regarding your examples I don't know whether you refer to their politics or their tactics.  Operation Rescue wants to stop the killing of innocent life.  I wouldn't think PETA is fascist unless they want to control more aspects of our lives than protecting animals.  They don't necessarily want the government to control your lives, just want to stop what they see as an injustice. The killing of Tiller the late term abortionist was not a pro-life act and Operation Rescue condemned it in the strongest terms: "The anti-abortion group Operation Rescue, which runs a "Tiller Watch" feature on its website, released a statement condemning the shooting. "We are shocked at this morning's disturbing news that Mr. Tiller was gunned down. Operation Rescue has worked for years through peaceful, legal means, and through the proper channels to see him brought to justice. We denounce vigilantism and the cowardly act that took place this morning."

McVeigh's politics could easily be considered right wing.  He was a gun rights advocate and anti-government, both to extreme levels.  His connection to Nazis seems to be that blowing up the building was inspired by a neo-Nazi novel.  But Nazis or fascists wouldn't allow private citizen gun ownership or forming private militias to protect liberties, or limited government, so I don't see the connection between Nazi-ism and his politics at least before he fell off the deep end.

Reading around I found this trying to make a connection between the Bush and what someone calls the 14 points of Fascism:  I admit to my biases, but I don't see the connection of any of them.

I follow you in the hypothetical.  If the huts were Christian extremists and wanted the government to force all to practice Christianity, and force their way with the powers of government into your life to enforce it, then I agree.  But I doubt that was their view.  If it was, they are Fascists, not Christians or limited government advocates.

If being anti-abortion is really sexism in disguise where what they really want is more control over women, then they are fascists. But I think it is all about the unborn.  It doesn't mean people don't have compassion for the situation of the unwanting parents.  It's just that it doesn't rise to the level of death penalty for the unborn.

From the link above, if Bush, as accused, was using terrorism as just an excuse because he really wanted to wiretap more Americans, empower government and limit freedoms, then fascist he was.  But I don't buy it.  And now Obama is caught up in the same wiretaps, Guantanamo and an executive order ending federal funding of abortion.  Surprisingly, no fascism update at that website for the new administration.
5766  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Fascism, liberal fascism, progressivism: on: March 31, 2010, 04:38:25 PM
Crafty wrote: [New Health care law]"contains the seeds of destruction for the remainder of private sector health care insurance."

Obama came out of closed door sessions with supporters of single payer - one system heath care, including Dennis Kucinich,, with their vote switched from no to yes based on assurances made and a road map to the satisfaction of those representatives. 

Promised with openness and specifically with negotiations publicly broadcast.  Delivered with tricks, deals and back room buy-offs and sell-offs.  Invites the charge of ... illegitimacy. 

Obama still says you won't lose your current plan, but I will lose mine, please see HR-4872 Section 202(d)(2).  Be careful googling that.  I locked up my computer downloading and searching the various versions of the Multi-Kilo-Page 2010 Federal Simplification of Health Affordability Mandates (FED-SHAM-2010).  sad
5767  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Fascism, liberal fascism, progressivism: on: March 31, 2010, 12:21:06 PM
"If you look black, you're 100% black as far as most people are concerned, regardless of your actual percentage." - No.  The Majority leader of the senate disagrees.  Being "light skinned and with no Negro dialect" makes the difference.  smiley

Lynchings and car draggings? No. He grew up with every advantage most whites don't have, the best private schools growing up, plus Columbia University and Harvard Law School.  He was in Harvard law School and President of the Law Review either partly because of race or else it obviously didn't hurt. Now private schools for his kids. Hardly a lynching. If it was all for academic achievement, why not release college transcripts? Who paid for college and how did he get into the best ones? Harvard Law School with a 3.3 GPA?  It all reaks of special treatment, fine, but accompanied with thanklessness for it - as I see it. 

What were Barack Obama's grades in college?
In: US Presidents, Barack Obama, Nobel Prize Winners
Barack Obama has not released transcripts for his grades from Occidental College, Columbia University and Harvard Law. He has also not released his SAT and LSAT scores. No explanation has been offered for not releasing them.

Per the Wall Street Journal September 11, 2008, "Obama's Lost Years," Obama graduated from Columbia University (to which he transferred after his first two years at Occidental College in California), with a degree in Political Science without honors, so had a GPA less than a 3.3.
Washington Post  Saturday, January 3, 2009

HONOLULU -- When President-elect  Barack Obama visited the lush campus of his old high school for a game of basketball in the waning days of his vacation this week, he returned to no ordinary Hawaiian school, but one with a rich history of teaching the island's elite and an array of distinctions: the nation's No. 1-ranked athletic program, the largest U.S. independent day school and the oldest west of the Mississippi River.
The Punahou School campus covers 76 acres at the edge of lush Manoa Valley. Students occupy 44 school buildings, including three libraries and learning centers; computer areas and language labs; an impressive physical education facility (that includes a gymnasium, 50-meter pool, Mondo track, playing fields, racquetball and tennis courts, and weight and training facilities); and art facilities that include jewelry, ceramics and glassblowing.

No record of lynchings.
5768  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Way Forward for the American Creed on: March 31, 2010, 11:42:17 AM
Replying to what CCP wrote here and what Crafty wrote over on Immigration: "[Latinos] tend to vote strongly Democrat.  Groups that tend to vote Republican tend to be aging and in decline, both in absolute numbers and as a % of the population.  The Republican party is already fairly irrelevant in the northeast of the US and with demographic trends in place will become a shrinking minority.  THIS was Bush-Rove-McCain's impetus in supporting amnesty-- to remain competitive for the Latino vote."

Selling conservatism to groups that are traditionally non-conservative has two choices, support policies that violate your own principles to split their vote or articulate your own view better of an America built on founding principles and invite them in.

In 2008, African Americans went 95% to 4% for Obama and Hispanics 67% to 31% Obama.  That was an exceptional Democrat year based on many things, first person of color on the ballot, economy in the tank, Republican brand name on a par with syphilis, etc.  Besides the margin, turnout was at record levels.

In 2004, it was African Americans 88-11 Democrat and Hispanics 53-44 Democrat.

So the split today is maybe 90-10 Blacks, and 60-40 Hispanic, give or take.

Yet the country is evenly divided.  So winning one or two more percent of either or both groups is a BIG deal.  We don't need to win all or even majorities of them to win, Just need to reach more of them.

I hate generalities, but... Blacks favor school choice, tend to be more religious and are getting KILLED by abortion policies and see neighborhoods destroyed by failed policies they were taught to favor.  Hispanics are very family oriented, mostly hard working and also heavily pro-life.  Both groups  have more kids so they will take on our debt if we keep spending like we do today.

CCP wrote: "(Latinos) are in higher proportions unemployed, uneducated, single parent, and thus far more likely to love the idea of someone else paying for higher education, medical care, and to need and willing to take medicaid, food stamps and the rest."

True,  but also that means they are voting their circumstances that should be improving over time, as they join and move up our economic ladder.  As they take root they will see their children as bearing the burden of our increasing debt and unfunded future liabilities.  Maybe we can get that written into the amnesty agreement.  smiley

My words of course are colored in wishful thinking.  But in the 100% liberal northeast, Scott Brown won Ted Kennedy's seat. It is possible for liberals to go too far and lose portions of their base.  Liberals going too far also tends to clarify Conservatism and unite opposition.  The Nov. elections this year and the 2012 elections are our Olympics and what we do now to move forward is analogous to Apollo Ohno's workout regime.  Are we doing everything we can to reach these people, putting in something like his 2 hour hard sessions 4 times a day (or leaving it to others and hope it gets done).  Is the clarity of our arguments equal to 1000 pounds on the leg press.  Do we keep a journal and review it every night to see if we are doing everything we can do to reach ALL of these people.  Or are our leaders relaxing at topless bondage clubs? On election day we need to know we did everything we could do to make a difference.

Ignoring these demographic groups longer and losing ground further will be catastrophic to the future of traditional American (conservative) governing principles.  Opposing Amnesty means we have to work that much harder getting the message out on the other issues.
5769  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Fascism, liberal fascism, progressivism: on: March 31, 2010, 10:50:12 AM
"Doug, Crafty, was it reasonable or accurate, in your opinions, for Glenn Beck to say (about Obama):This president, I think, has exposed himself as a guy, over and over and over again, who has a deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture.  I'm not saying he doesn't like white people, I'm saying he has a problem. He has a -- this guy is, I believe, a racist."

 - To me, yes.  I didn't like his referral to Grandma as a typical white person and references of that sort in his books, though he is entitled to that view.  Same for clinging to God, gays and guns, not expressly race but disdainful and condescending to a group he dislikes that happen to be white.  That was prior to his election.  Now he represents all of us and hopefully has shaken that off.

I hate race identification and race politics. I oppose Obama based on his policies.  So does Rush and Beck. It is crazy to think Rush would be more tolerant if Hillary had won, or Joe Biden!  You don't believe that.(?)  Or that Beck would simmer down if it was a white Ralph Nader bring Maoists and Marxists into the White House to help on economic policy and inch toward socialized medicine.  Rush's right hand man is black, his fill-in host is black.  His song the magic negro is a parody on a piece in the LA Times that no one else criticized. Harry Reid made the negro gaffe, same for Biden, also about Indians at 7-11. No career ending uproars there. I didn't hear the boy king nickname.  If so, I see that point, but also true that his party picked the youngest candidate with the least experience and opponents think he behaves like a king - or a religious figure.  He has much more often been called 'the Messiah'. Nothing racial there.

Barack Obama is half black and half white, Kansas I think.  He identifies himself as black. Where he has expressed pride in his white heritage?  Will he lead the charge to start a white history month in Kansas?  smiley
5770  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Fascism, liberal fascism, progressivism: on: March 31, 2010, 12:33:31 AM
GM wrote: "Please cite some quotes of the "coded speech" mentioned above."

GM, As I read your post I heard liberal co-host of 'The View' (I don't know her name) on the Tonight Show say "Karl Rove was attacked today at a book signing - HA HA HA!!!" followed by several derisive comments about him.

An example of not very coded speech, but on the other side.

Rog: The thing with Beck, Limbaugh, etc. is that they fill a gap in the market, not try to cover all stories evenly (obviously).  I haven't listened during any of this, but if everyone is already condemning the wackos, there is nothing of value for them to add.  But when liberal politician x or y tells a lie or breaks a promise and few in the main stream call him on it, then they add value at least to some by filling the void.

Limbaugh has a strong set of views and he wants you to keep listening to the show. That's it.  He makes a big deal that election results don't affect the success of the show.  He plays golf, smokes cigars, looks out at the ocean.  I kind of doubt he has ever thrown a punch or shot a squirrel much less led a militia.  Tells people they can be anything they want to be.  He is an expert at timing the monologues and getting smoothly into commercial breaks. Doesn't do motivational rallies.  Inciting violence is quite a stretch from everything I've heard on the air. 

Beck I find more rambunctious and more open about asking the similar minded to get out and make a difference.  But I have many times heard him say what that doesn't mean, anything overboard especially violence and how anything like that just sets the cause back.  He prays for the health and safety of the President everyday and I find it genuine.

These guys actually love the challenge and set the example of taking on liberal ideas with words, arguments and persuasion.  Beck wants you to punch out the phone calls and be a watch dog for freedom. That is the opposite of telling people they are powerless except to plot and plan to go out and shoot up the place.
5771  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Fascism, liberal fascism, progressivism: on: March 30, 2010, 09:39:50 PM
Good to see opposing views Rog.  Answering from my point of view: Assuming what we are hearing is true, I deplore the terrorists and applaud law enforcement for stepping in preemptively. Saying so seems too obvious, like opposing wife beating, racism The rest I don't buy, that  anything I've heard on popular shows or from prominent conservatives caused this.

The piece immediately answered my first point, these people aren't Christians, though you called them the Christian right in your first sentence and they referred to themselves that way.

From the piece: "It is dismiss groups such as the Hutaree by saying that there are "crazies on both sides." This simply is not true."

 - Unibomber Ted kuzinski, St. Paul homemaker, 'Sara Jane Olson' and Obama friend Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn come to mind.  I don't know the numbers but..."there are crazies on both sides".  He dismisses these as things of the past, but that has more to do with who is in or out of power than right vs. left IMO.  Remember the violence in Seattle 1999 over trade rights, environmentalists attacking loggers etc., it goes both ways.  Today it is the right who feel powerless, that does not justify violence.  No one mainstream and prominent said it did.

Anyone following the uneven recount of the 60th senator (Franken) or the polls tanking on health care and disregard for constitutional limits could easily feel powerless to change government using convention means.  The fringe who act on that with terror plans or war can expect to find themselves arrested, and they did.  

"we should never forget that the worst act of domestic terrorism ever committed in this country was authored by a member of the government-hating right wing: Timothy McVeigh's bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City."

 - And that was RECKLESSLY blamed by President Clinton on Rush Limbaugh.  I listened to the show more than Clinton did and I never saw hint toward violence, much less cause and effect.  Are you saying, or is he saying, dissent should not be expresses because it could be taken the wrong way??  What were those inciteful words and if so where was the federal prosecution??  Clinton's reaction was political opportunism and so is this.

"The vitriolic, anti-government hate speech that is spewed on talk radio every calibrated not to inform but to incite."

 - An example or three might be fitting with a charge like THAT!

"they shouldn't be surprised if some listeners take them literally."

 - If they took them literally, they would go out and vote, lol.  Did I miss some story that these militias interrupt their training exercises at 'show' time and huddle around their radios for marching orders or words they can overreact to.  I seriously doubt these folks look to aging political analysts, entertainers or columnists to find what is wrong in Washington.

So what were those fighting words?

"government is illegitimate" - Also heard that a zillion times about Bush Cheney - not mentioned.  Hard not to notice the people in power today got there using an amazing number of false promises and are exercising and expanding powers not authorized in the constitution.  That does not equate with a declaration of war.

"that their country has been taken away" - true that many freedoms have been taken and things like the work ethic and entitled to the fruits of your labor are replaced with people taking power from the welfare rights side of the spectrum.  Even if done by the majority, mostly by proper procedure, with courts and RINOS signed on, still a part of what many of us value was 'taken'.

"that their elected officials are traitors" - I did not hear that from mainstream conservatives and I listen more than he does.  Fact is the other side is STILL calling for war crimes prosecution against the previous administration.  Those who made such sounds still frequent the oval office.

Hard to conclude 'cause' or that this goes only one way.  But good to see a post that goes too far the other way.  We need the balance.
5772  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / A Birthright? Maybe Not on: March 28, 2010, 11:44:49 AM
A Birthright? Maybe Not
By George Will  March 28, 2010  Washington Post

WASHINGTON -- A simple reform would drain some scalding steam from immigration arguments that may soon again be at a roiling boil. It would bring the interpretation of the 14th Amendment into conformity with what the authors of its text intended, and with common sense, thereby removing an incentive for illegal immigration.

To end the practice of "birthright citizenship," all that is required is to correct the misinterpretation of that amendment's first sentence: "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside." From these words has flowed the practice of conferring citizenship on children born here to illegal immigrants.

A parent from a poor country, writes professor Lino Graglia of the University of Texas law school, "can hardly do more for a child than make him or her an American citizen, entitled to all the advantages of the American welfare state." Therefore, "It is difficult to imagine a more irrational and self-defeating legal system than one which makes unauthorized entry into this country a criminal offense and simultaneously provides perhaps the greatest possible inducement to illegal entry."

Writing in the Texas Review of Law and Politics, Graglia says this irrationality is rooted in a misunderstanding of the phrase "subject to the jurisdiction thereof." What was this intended or understood to mean by those who wrote it in 1866 and ratified it in 1868? The authors and ratifiers could not have intended birthright citizenship for illegal immigrants because in 1868 there were and never had been any illegal immigrants because no law ever had restricted immigration.

If those who wrote and ratified the 14th Amendment had imagined laws restricting immigration -- and had anticipated huge waves of illegal immigration -- is it reasonable to presume they would have wanted to provide the reward of citizenship to the children of the violators of those laws? Surely not.

The Civil Rights Act of 1866 begins with language from which the 14th Amendment's Citizenship Clause is derived: "All persons born in the United States, and not subject to any foreign power, excluding Indians not taxed, are hereby declared to be citizens of the United States." (Emphasis added.) The explicit exclusion of Indians from birthright citizenship was not repeated in the 14th Amendment because it was considered unnecessary. Although Indians were at least partially subject to U.S. jurisdiction, they owed allegiance to their tribes, not the United States. This reasoning -- divided allegiance -- applies equally to exclude the children of resident aliens, legal as well as illegal, from birthright citizenship. Indeed, today's regulations issued by the departments of Homeland Security and Justice stipulate:

"A person born in the United States to a foreign diplomatic officer accredited to the United States, as a matter of international law, is not subject to the jurisdiction of the United States. That person is not a United States citizen under the 14th Amendment."

Sen. Lyman Trumbull of Illinois was, Graglia writes, one of two "principal authors of the citizenship clauses in 1866 act and the 14th Amendment." He said that "subject to the jurisdiction of the United States" meant subject to its "complete" jurisdiction, meaning "not owing allegiance to anybody else." Hence children whose Indian parents had tribal allegiances were excluded from birthright citizenship.

Appropriately, in 1884 the Supreme Court held that children born to Indian parents were not born "subject to" U.S. jurisdiction because, among other reasons, the person so born could not change his status by his "own will without the action or assent of the United States." And "no one can become a citizen of a nation without its consent." Graglia says this decision "seemed to establish" that U.S. citizenship is "a consensual relation, requiring the consent of the United States." So: "This would clearly settle the question of birthright citizenship for children of illegal aliens. There cannot be a more total or forceful denial of consent to a person's citizenship than to make the source of that person's presence in the nation illegal."

Congress has heard testimony estimating that more than two-thirds of all births in Los Angeles public hospitals, and more than half of all births in that city, and nearly 10 percent of all births in the nation in recent years, have been to illegal immigrant mothers. Graglia seems to establish that there is no constitutional impediment to Congress ending the granting of birthright citizenship to persons whose presence here is "not only without the government's consent but in violation of its law."
5773  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Way Forward: dependency and groups on: March 26, 2010, 01:54:16 PM
I have been following CCP's argument/observation that Dems are the party of giving out goodies and they will win forever (unless we can think of something fast) by making more people dependent on the government while flooding the voter pool with new people who also see the government as a provider.  True on both counts, at least that is their strategy.

The Way Forward, if there is one, I think centers around the way these concepts fit together: spending, debt and a vision of the future that young people will live in.

If you ask an immigrant worker what their income today is, you likely get a low number, well below what today is admitted to be targeted for new taxes, so all new spending is free, right?

But take a longer view.  Past income mobility data indicates that 86% of bottom quintile workers exit that group within 9 years: 

The children of today will either grow up and be primarily dependent on (a bankrupt) government or they will grow up to be productive members of society and pay the bills for our expanding older generation.  Then ask which group your immigrant children will likely be in, the ones getting a free ride or the ones paying the bills?  That is a different question.

People have a pride and optimism in the ability of their own children to grow up and achieve and succeed.

Immigrants, using the term loosely to include trespassers/illegals, might see themselves today as needing a hand up, minimum wage protection, OSHA laws, food stamp help and healthcare etc. but did not for the most part come here to have their children grow up to be dependent on a bankrupt government in the nation they risked everything to enter.  Immigrants also tend to be younger and the expenditures for health care go more heavily to the older generations.

I don't believe their vote can't be won.  The question needs to be, what kind of future do they want.  Is it a dependency-based society?  If so, not what is your income today, but do you like the idea of your kid footing the bill for the excesses we create today?

Hard to change the views of 5th generation welfare recipients and hard to win over the highly Democratic felon vote they are racing to register, but we need to fight hard for the votes of young people, immigrants and illegals who will live with the impact they make with their vote.

5774  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Issues in the American Creed (Constitutional Law and related matters) on: March 23, 2010, 10:38:18 AM
CCP,  Very much appreciate the kind words.  I've kept up reading in my posting absence and always enjoy your insights as well.  Crafty's post certainly warns us not to have false optimism, even with the Pravda disclaimer and knowing that there are plenty of 'experts' like the Yale Professor to argue for the other side.  Yet in justification he points to rulings where feds stopped a farmer from growing wheat (or pot) on his own land for his own consumption, while I pointed to where they found the constitution could prohibit the city from entering a private home, but not from bulldozing it!

Like referees in the NFL or in hockey, maybe they sometimes know when the have gone too far in one direction and the next call goes the other way, as with campaign finance restrictions versus freedom of speech.

I really hate the idea and actually going in to read this garbage that these lawmakers never read, but it seems to me these mandates are backed with fines or penalties rather than a tax and the language they used is all about mandate, not choice or taxpayer option. 

Either way, the NY Times got one part right.  They won't strike down the whole deal, only certain provisions, which can be tweaked to conform with the guidelines set by the court, if they still have the votes.

In the meantime I pray for the health of all the justices, 5 in particular.
5775  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Constitutional Law: Individual Mandate on: March 22, 2010, 12:12:45 PM
The politics will continue but for now the two branches have spoken on health care, largely forgetting there is a third branch overseeing their work.  For certain there will be a challenge to various aspects, but the big one seems to be the individual mandate.

I have no faith in the chances of 5 justices getting this right, considering Kelo etc., but offer my view of how they should rule.  

The Tenth Amendment states: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."

This power is not delegated elsewhere by the framers so it is therefore a) reserved to the states, as in RomneyCare, and b) requires a new amendment to the constitution in order to delegate this authority.

The reason the proponents did not seek a new amendment is because they do not have 2/3 of the house, 2/3 of the senate and 3/4 of the legislatures on their side.  Not because they didn't think it was necessary; they even said it was a right, which is something you would want enumerated in the constitution if you could.  Same goes for McCain Feingold campaign finance limits.  They knew people weren't going to support, at super-majority levels, a bunch of fine print bullsh*t exceptions inserted into the first amendment that otherwise prohibits congress from limiting political speech.

There is no question in my mind that 4 justices will support the political aspect of the legislation and will pretend to find this power as some unenumerated power into their imaginative readinig of a living and breathing document where it does not exist.  Roberts, Scalia, Thomas and Alito will see this as it is - a violation of the limits on federal powers(MHO).  So the whole bleepin' shooting match regarding the future of our constitutional republic sadly comes down to one spineless 'centrist', Justice Anthony Kennedy, who just 5 years ago concurred on Kelo, taking private homes for other private enterprises in the 'public interest' of allowing a city to collect more property tax on the improvements (that never happened).

Two things have changed since then. 1) two new very sharp and persuasive conservative justices were added to the court in Roberts and Alito, and Kennedy has leaned more conservative since, and 2) Kennedy wrote the corporate campaign finance decision, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, that was specifically the target of Obama's public bitch-slap of the court at the State of the Union to a thundering applause on national television.  

Wouldn't it be ironic if that one blatant act of arrogance costs this one term President his only signature accomplishment.  We will see.
5776  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 2012: Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) on: March 19, 2010, 12:47:46 PM
Win or lose on health care, one person emerged as holding his own with the leftists policy wonks, with vision and with clarity on crucial policy issues.  Paul Ryan was chosen by his colleagues to open at the bipartisan Obama health conference:

The points and questions he makes on the bill remain unanswered by his opponents.  

Today, with the new bill published he is ready, informed, articulate, correct and available.Holds his own with the President and makes a nice contrast with the current speaker.

I've previously at least thought that I didn't see him as Presidential, not the type who can shout rhythmic platitudes from in front of fake Greek columns in large stadiums with adoring fans.  I prefer the executive experience of a governor, but in fact it is Presidents like Clinton and Obama who can sit and look very comfortable all day defending the details of horrible legislation and the cost of 'doing nothing'.  We will need someone who knows the legislative issues up and down to stand next to this incumbent President and debate persuasively.

If not this guy, we better find someone just as informed and articulate, without the baggage of previous mis-steps and flip-flops, and not someone who has stepped back from fighting these fights, to offer the country a seriously different direction, message and vision from the current leftist machine.

For example, I love Sara Palin (not necessarily for President).  If she is the candidate, she will be the issue.  If Romney is the candidate, Romneycare and other past works and positions will be the issue.  Far worse yet for Huckabee.  If someone like Ryan is the candidate, I think the issues will be the issue and leftists will be forced to defend the indefensible, like calling a new national health entitlement a step toward closing the deficit. MHO.
5777  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / ACTION item, Call and write your congressman TODAY. on: March 19, 2010, 11:37:38 AM
Obama got one thing right, the time for debate is over.

The bill is out overnight with one business day to read it, digest it and spit it out.

Totally unreadable because you have to back and forth with the senate bill to add and strike provisions for "reconciliation".

CALL AND WRITE TO OPPOSE, just google your Representative.  You will need a valid address/zip code in their district to get through email screening.

Huge tax increase on investment.  Job killing and promise breaking provisions.  Health care enforcement through an expanded IRS.  Unconstitutional individual mandate.  Nauseating deem without voting procedure.  Mis-under-estimating future costs in the tens of trillions.

The number of new tax increases in the healthcare bill: 19

The number of tax increases that unquestionably violate President Obama’s “firm pledge” not to raise “any form” of taxes on families making less than $250,000:  7

The top federal tax rate on early distributions from HSAs under this bill: 59.6%

Tax rate increases kill off new jobs.  With unemployment in some areas of this country over 12%, Where is the "laser-like focus"??

As one whose small Republican town with a little more effort could have kept Al Franken out of the senate, everyone knows this vote is within a vote or 2 out of 435. Don't sit still!

Vote is scheduled for SUNDAY.  Passage is likely UNLESS everyone opposed does everything possible to communicate the damage coming.  Call, write and spread the urgency!


No vote without reading it!
No job-killing tax increases.
No unconstitutional mandates.
No Presidential level Promise Breaking.
No deem without a recorded up or down vote on something this BIG.
No re-election for abandoning our founding principles.
5778  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Income Distribution - Thomas Sowell on: January 12, 2010, 09:18:25 AM
About a year ago I tried to answer the deception of Robert Reich regarding income distribution.  I was pleased to see that Dr. Sowell reads this forum and took the time to expand on this in his latest book.  smiley

Read Thomas Sowell new book: Intellectuals and Society (and all of his books).
Investors Business Daily is running a series on it at:

Dr. Sowell is a Professor at Stanford, grew up in Harlem.  During his 20s, when he was a self-described Marxist, he graduated magna cum laude from Harvard with a B.A. in economics. He also has a master's in economics from Columbia and a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Chicago.

Read just this one section and see the lies exposed of people like Paul Krugman, Reich and the politicians like Pelosi and Obama who base their shallow, class warfare politics on the lies of the liberal economists with their simple sleight of hand.

Simply put, the lowest income workers become richer and leave the lower quintiles.  New workers enter the work force, some previously had no income, some came from far away to double their income though still low by our standards and they make up the new lowest quintile.  Middle income earners become wealthier and enter the higher quintiles.  The highest income earners and business owners retire, sell, die, scale back, whatever and the new high earners make even more than the rich of old used to make.  Then some liberal economist perform a phony quintile analysis to conclude that no one has improved their economic standing over an extended period of time.  All the liberal blogs and politicians pick up on it and take down our economy based on false information and analysis.

 How Data On Income Distribution Are Misunderstood And Misapplied

Most intellectuals outside the field of economics show remarkably little interest in learning even the basic fundamentals of economics. Yet they do not hesitate to make sweeping pronouncements about the economy in general, businesses in particular, and the many issues revolving around what is called "income distribution."

Famed novelist John Steinbeck, for example, commented on the many American fortunes which have been donated to philanthropic causes by saying:

One has only to remember some of the wolfish financiers who spent two thirds of their lives clawing a fortune out of the guts of society and the latter third pushing it back.

Despite the verbal virtuosity involved in creating a vivid vision of profits as having been clawed out of the guts of society, neither Steinbeck nor most other intellectuals have bothered to demonstrate how society has been made poorer by the activities of Carnegie, Ford or Rockefeller, for example — all three of whom (and many others) made fortunes by reducing the prices of their products below the prices of competing products.

Lower prices made these products affordable to more people, simultaneously increasing those people's standard of living and creating fortunes for sellers who greatly expanded the numbers of their customers. In short, this was a process in which wealth was created, not a process by which some could get rich only by making others poorer.

Nevertheless, negative images of market processes have been evoked with such phrases as "robber barons" and "economic royalists" — without answering such obvious questions as "Just who did the robber barons rob when they lowered their prices?" or "How is earning money, often starting from modest circumstances (or even poverty-stricken circumstances in the case of J.C. Penney and F.W. Woolworth) the same as simply inheriting wealth and power like royalty?"

The issue here is not the adequacy or inadequacy of intellectuals' answers to such questions because, in most cases, such questions are not even asked, much less answered. The vision, in effect, serves as a substitute for both facts and questions.

This is not to suggest that nobody in business ever did anything wrong. Saints have been no more common in corporate suites than in government offices or on ivy-covered campuses. However, the question here is not one of individual culpability for particular misdeeds.

The question raised by critics of business and its defenders alike has been about the merits or demerits of alternative institutional processes for serving the economic interests of society at large.

Implicit in many criticisms of market processes by intellectuals is the assumption that these are zero-sum processes, in which what is gained by some is lost by others. Seldom is this assumption spelled out but, without it, much of what is spelled out would have no basis.

Perhaps the biggest economic issue, or the one addressed most often, is that of what is called "income distribution," though the phrase itself is misleading, and the conclusions about income reached by most of the intelligentsia are still more misleading.

Variations in income can be viewed empirically, on the one hand, or in terms of moral judgments, on the other. Most of the contemporary intelligentsia do both. But, in order to assess the validity of the conclusions they reach, it is advisable to assess the empirical issues and the moral issues separately, rather than attempt to go back and forth between the two, with any expectation of rational coherence.

Given the vast amounts of statistical data on income available from the Census Bureau, the Internal Revenue Service and innumerable research institutes and projects, one might imagine that the bare facts about variations in income would be fairly well known by informed people, even though they might have differing opinions as to the desirability of those particular variations.

In reality, however, the most fundamental facts are in dispute, and variations in what are claimed to be facts seem to be at least as great as variations in incomes. Both the magnitude of income variations and the trends in these variations over time are seen in radically different terms by those with different visions as regards the current reality, even aside from what different people may regard as desirable for the future.

Perhaps the most fertile source of misunderstandings about incomes has been the widespread practice of confusing statistical categories with flesh-and-blood human beings.

Many statements have been made in the media and in academia, claiming that the rich are gaining not only larger incomes but a growing share of all incomes, widening the income gap between people at the top and those at the bottom. Almost invariably these statements are based on confusing what has been happening over time in statistical categories with what has been happening over time with actual flesh-and-blood people.

A New York Times editorial, for example, declared that "the gap between rich and poor has widened in America." Similar conclusions appeared in a 2007 Newsweek article that referred to this era as "a time when the gap is growing between the rich and the poor — and the super-rich and the merely rich," a theme common in such other well-known media outlets as the Washington Post and innumerable television programs.

"The rich have seen far greater income gains than have the poor," according to Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson. A writer in the Los Angeles Times likewise declared, "the gap between rich and poor is growing."

According to Professor Andrew Hacker in his book "Money": "While all segments of the population enjoyed an increase in income, the top fifth did 24 times better than the bottom fifth. And measured by their shares of the aggregate, not just the bottom fifth but the three above it all ended up losing ground."

Although such discussions have been phrased in terms of people, the actual empirical evidence cited has been about what has been happening over time to statistical categories — and that turns out to be the direct opposite of what has happened over time to flesh-and-blood human beings, most of whom move from one category to another over time.

In terms of statistical categories, it is indeed true that both the amount of income and the proportion of all income received by those in the top 20% bracket have risen over the years, widening the gap between the top and bottom quintiles.

But Internal Revenue Service data following specific individuals over time show that, in terms of people, the incomes of those particular taxpayers who were in the bottom 20% in income in 1996 rose 91% by 2005, while the incomes of those particular taxpayers who were in the top 20% in 1996 rose by only 10% by 2005 — and those in the top 5% and top 1% actually declined.

While it might seem as if both these radically different sets of statistics cannot be true at the same time, what makes them mutually compatible is that flesh-and-blood human beings move from one statistical category to another over time.

When those taxpayers who were initially in the lowest income bracket had their incomes nearly double in a decade, that moved many of them up and out of the bottom quintile — and when those in the top 1% had their incomes cut by about one-fourth, that may well have dropped them out of the top 1%.

Internal Revenue Service data can follow particular individuals over time from their tax returns, which have individual Social Security numbers as identification, while data from the Census Bureau and most other sources follow what happens to statistical categories over time, even though it is not the same individuals in the same categories over the years.
5779  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Federal Reserve earned... on: January 12, 2010, 08:55:54 AM
Fed conspiracists (often Libertarians, also far left anti-capitalists) seem to be able to read that headline: "Federal Reserve earned $45 billion in 2009" and not the following sentence: They returned all the profit to the U.S. Treasury.  " makes $199,700, with no bonus at all."  - About the same as your local superintendant of schools and a fraction of the typical NCAA public university basketball coach salary.

I love to criticize and second guess the Fed's work but they aren't at least directly stealing from us. 
5780  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Hillbillary Clintons long, sordid, and often criminal history on: January 11, 2010, 11:45:20 PM
What has Hillary done regarding Russia, Poland/Czech Republic, Nuclear Policy, Iran, Honduras, Afghan Pakistan etc? Nothing.  In her defense, her boss asked her not to get involved with foreign policy.

Clintons became masters of delaying the story, not answering, and then they finally confront the questioner as to why they still bring up such old stories.  Now stories will only be reported if they are more corrupt than usual(?)

The Obama administration needs to reassure us that donations raised by Bill won't affect rewards paid out by Hillary at taxpayer expense.  The template is already written and tested.  They can use what ACORN uses to keep taxpayer funds away from partisan activities - the "firewall".  Simply impenetrable, like the social security lockbox.

The year is not 2016; someone in 2012 will seriously challenge Obama from within his own party.

5781  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Way Forward for the American Creed on: January 11, 2010, 01:31:43 PM
"I think Glen Beck is leading the way here." - Look forward to hearing more on that.  I'm not seeing Fox News selected in the black non-conservative households I've been in, but they are number one and he is getting talked about.

And frankly, I think WE have to see the potential here instead of staying mired in the "patricians and demogogues" feedback loop.

That is a good point.  Our job is to make the case and get the information out.  I had trouble getting good numbers, but MN is 5% black, 3% Hispanic.  Republicans needed something like a 0.2% gain in their black vote for senate to prevent the 60th vote for govt run health care.  Or they needed to win 7/100th of a % of those who voted for the Independent and didn't want the Democrat either.  Or just 313 liberal dead people registered by ACORN to stay home and not vote.
5782  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Way Forward for the American Creed on: January 11, 2010, 11:55:21 AM
Crafty's point of a paradigm shift is logical but I don't think true at least in the short run. There are many reasons more blacks should identify more conservatively in their politics, yet we see no statistical move that I am aware of.   America proved they could elect a black man President and all black children were shown they could become anything they want, even President of the United States.  Black voters however did not transcend race.  Faced with nearly identical politics in the primaries, they almost universally identified with just the one candidate.

Following the race based excitement of the last election, I think turnout will drop in the off-year without Obama on the ballot and much of the excitement will be worn off by 2012.  By then I think the race identification fades - he is a politician serving as President with a record to judge - whatever that will be in 2012.  Are you better off...  But lower turnout is different than oining a free market paradigm for example.

I saw a list of all Presidents with their photo on a card from an inner city school.  I first thought this is great, they are learning all of the Presidents at a young age.  As I scanned through the photos to the end I realized this was all about highlighting the historic nature of the last election (43 white men followed by President Obama), and they perhaps should be proud in a predominantly black neighborhood.  But not all day every day instead of math and science.

When the excitement wears down a little, it would be nice to shift the discussion in every neighborhood back to economic policies that expand opportunities, national security issues, school choice, constitutional liberties etc. instead of who looks like what or as Harry Reid said 'speaks without a negro dialect'.
In the inner city politics they talk of welfare rights, social justice and voting to keep the programs coming.  Many very Marxist themes like taking more from those who can afford to pay more and success of groups like ACORN at opposing things like property owner rights.  Nobody seems to ask the question in the most crime ridden and welfare dependent areas, how is this all working out for you?

Elsewhere some brilliant, artculate, thoughtful black conservatives put out wonderful opinion pieces, from Thomas Sowell to Clarence Thomas, Walter Williams, JC Watts, even Michael Steele.  I am afraid they are admired mostly by white conservatives.  I see Keith Ellison's operatives taking his material from house to house in the neighborhoods regularly, knocking on every door and ready to engage in discussion.  I don't see anyone doing that for black conservatives.
5783  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Sec. Geithner Must Go on: January 11, 2010, 11:01:21 AM
I'm very excited about my first time quoting and agreeing with the Huffington Post.  Even liberals find this government behavior over the line.  I would add to list of complaints a video of his answers posted previously when asked where in the constitution he found the right to bail out non-financial institutions.  With 3 tries he just honestly could not comprehend the question.

Tim Geithner Must Go

The latest revelations about the New York Fed's actions in the AIG bailout make one thing clear: Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner must go.

Geithner must go not just because of the emails showing that his New York Fed ordered AIG to keep details of the bailout secret, but because of many other decisions and policies he has championed in the past two years.

These decisions and policies have consistently put the interests of Wall Street ahead of the interests of the taxpayer, and they have undermined the public's confidence in the government at a time when the country needs it the most.

Tim Geithner's defense of his actions continues to be, in effect, "We had to do it or the world would have ended." This isn't good enough. It is also, at the very least, debatable.

It is true that Tim Geithner made many of his decisions in the midst of a crisis, and I do not doubt that his intentions were good and that he was doing the best he could. But this does not rinse his hands of responsibility for his decisions or their ongoing ramifications.

For five reasons, Geithner must go:

    * Geithner was directly responsible for the most appalling corporate bailout in U.S. history, in which tens of billions of taxpayer dollars were secretly funneled to some of the richest corporations in the world. The terms of this bailout, and the associated cloak of secrecy under which it was conducted (the details of which continue to leak out) have hurt the public's confidence in the government.

    * Geithner's ongoing decision to save banks at any cost was predicated on the theory that this would keep the banks lending. This policy has failed: The banks have not continued to lend. What the banks HAVE done is coin billions of dollars of profits risk-free at taxpayer expense, fueling even more public outrage.

    * Geithner's policy of "too big to fail" has created a banking system whose bets are guaranteed by the US taxpayer, and it has distorted lending and market forces across the entire economy. This policy, which has now been all but written into the Constitution, is grossly unfair. Big banks can do whatever they want with no concern about the consequences; small banks have to hunker down or they'll get taken over and shut down.

    * Geithner's role in the AIG bailout, which the current administration bears no responsibility for, continues to destroy confidence in his current boss, President Barack Obama. If AIG stays in the headlines, and Geithner does not accept responsibility for what happened. Obama's agenda and influence will continue to suffer.

    * Geithner's consistent decision to put Wall Street first has helped fuel a populist rage that will make it very difficult for the government to do anything more to help the financial system. If the recovery continues, such help might never become necessary. If it falters, however, Geithner's policies will have severely curtailed the government's ability to do anything about it.

Those who know him say that Tim Geithner is a very good guy. He made the decisions above in the midst of a panic, and I have no doubt that he was trying to do the right thing.

But contrary to the revisionist history now being promulgated, these actions were not the only way out. They were grossly unfair to taxpayers, and they have undermined public confidence in the government -- and our current President -- at a time when the country needs it most.
5784  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Afghanistan-Pakistan: India Perspective on: January 10, 2010, 10:53:45 AM
"What do you think of my two-part entry of January 3?  I always find the Indian perspective worth considering."

I went back to read it more closely.  Found it to be rich with background, insight and perspective, well worth reading.  They offer what they consider to be a simple solution to world peace / regional peace.  Have the global community chop up the borders of their arch enemy Pakistan and downsize it.  What they call North Afghanistan is what we call Aghanistan.  They want it reunited with what he calls South Afghanistan which I assume is western Pakistan.  Then America and NATO could more aggressively take on its enemy without invading Pak.  I'm confused in my map reading because I thought the mountainous autonomous tribal regions in question were in the north and I'm not confident of our ability to permanently stabilize an enlarged Afghan much less what we face now.  I doubt Pakistan is prepared to give up land without war.  But who knows.

The closing is worth repeating:

"...The Obama Administration is moving ahead with slow, deliberate planning in their Af-Pak analysis, while the Taleban is moving with great speed to implement its plan. So far, the Taleban speed is killing the chances of success of the Obama Initiatives.

Soon, we fear, the Obama Administration would be faced with two alternatives:

Leave Af-Pak to its own misery and take the risk of being attacked in the American homeland OR
Get into a military confrontation with the Taleban inside Pakistan and with the Pakistani Military.
The first choice would be far worse than Vietnam and the second choice would be far worse than Iraq. "
5785  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security and American Freedom on: January 09, 2010, 09:42:17 PM
Problem with discrediting the father, rightly or wrongly, is that it doesn't take away from the accurate information he gave to the Americans about his son attending terror training seminars in Yemen.  And his was not the only warning signal we had on him before issuing valid papers to gain entry into the U.S. Heads should roll (I mean people should be fired).  We already know Nigeria is a screwed up place from top to bottom. (JMHO)
5786  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Pathological Science on: January 09, 2010, 09:25:16 PM
The first time I noticed McIntyre (likely from a BBG post) he went out and found the temperature sensors and discovered some strange circumstances, factories put up near the sensor, Pavement added by the sensors, air conditioners giving off heat installed by the sensors, etc. all destroying the integrity of any time analysis of the data, which is what the research is all about.

With just a few photos he exposed the fact that a) we don't measure global temperature; we sample it and the sampling is flawed, not done in a controlled or consistent manner,  b) it's all based on adjusted data not real, measured temps, and the adjustments are subjective, matching the whim or the agenda of the adjuster, and c) worst of all, the highly touted peer review is false.  It's just shocking to first see that no one before McIntyre caught these obviously problems that destroy all of the research.  The peers supposedly reviewing were not even curious about the integrity of the data being adjusted and analyzed to death.  They do not systematically measure or mathematically account for error throughout their phony analyses.  Looking for those photos now I find this one from climateaudit 2007, unbelievable!  This is the work of our nation's best scientists:
5787  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Homeland Security: Opening and Closing Guantanamo on: January 08, 2010, 11:57:02 PM
That Damn Guantanamo!

Obama gave a rather incredible press conference about his review of security lapses. When he evoked Guantanamo, the president  all at once (“make no mistake about it”) (a) promised to close it, (b) promised not to send any more detainees home to Yemen, and (c) claimed it was a recruiting tool for al-Qaeda (i.e., apparently Bush’s Gulag had prompted the likes of Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab to try to blow up an airliner).

This is nearly unhinged... ...Let us get this straight: for a decade in the 1990s an ascendant al-Qaeda committed serial attacks against the U.S. and its interests. All that culminated in 9/11. In reaction to the mass murder, and as part of efforts to go after al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan, Bush opened Guantanamo Bay — after which we have seen no successful major attacks on U.S. soil comparable to 9/11.

So consider the logic: before Guantanamo, al-Qaeda achieved its greatest success in damaging America; after it, it suffered some of its most grievous defeats, but somehow its existence is counter-productive and a recruiting tool? What, Pray God, was the recruiting tool on September 10, 2001?
5788  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The President's glibness showing: "road to recovery will not be a straight line" on: January 08, 2010, 10:28:46 PM
The recovery is not 100% within his control.  The economic policies of his administration are what is within his control. 

The path to pro-growth economic policies, policies that would encourage employers to invest, take on risk, hire, earn and keep more - policies that would lead us toward recovery and away from a double-dip or a jobless recovery - that path could easily be described as a straight line..... and we aren't on it.  They aren't even looking for it.  He's working on something else and stagnation, debt and high unemployment are some of the costs of economic dithering.
5789  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Way Forward for the American Creed on: January 08, 2010, 09:22:33 PM
It is so hard to put conservatism on a bumper sticker, but I think I finally got one:

America, Too Big to Fail

I'm visualizing a new national campaign platform where we propose to break this failing, drifting, expanding, authoritarian, bureaucratic enterprise into smaller pieces before it's too late - say 50 of them.  Let each one be self-governing except for just those functions that can done best by a centralized, consensual  government, like national defense, interstate commerce and a federal court system.  Put it all in writing, maybe in a constitution, requiring strict limits on federal powers, ratify it and then HONOR it.  Put in a clause making it difficult but possible to amend this constitution.  Require super-majorities of house senate and the state legislatures to make ANY change, otherwise NO crossing the line on the limits of central government power.  Then let we the people decide the other issues - closer to home.

Am I on the right track?
5790  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Humor/a WTF winter on: January 08, 2010, 05:29:33 PM
 I mentioned earlier in Pathological Science our extreme weather here and elsewhere this winter / (every winter).  Last night coming into the 9th Mpls day in a row below zero I heard the forecast last night that the coldest morning yet is next, (WTF).  As Accuweather puts it: bitterly cold.  And yes, I still see a few high school boys wearing shorts to school; must be a badge of toughness. 

For those of you in the warm climates I share this Upper Penninsula (Michigan) photo, (not Antarctica), received in the email so the that you might visualize what they mean by 'lake effect' snow, along with a cartoon.  Maybe the U.P. photo could have gone under 'water issues'.  smiley

5791  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Way Forward, yesterday's Patriot Post on: January 08, 2010, 12:25:41 PM
I appreciate the Patriot Post, but on behalf of the dearth of liberal posters here I take offense with this:

"Ideological liberals, on the other hand, no matter what the cause, tend to be motivated by pathological egocentrism, which generally correlates with the acquisition of power and the suppression of liberty."

I draw a distinction between conservative Americans who support founding principles and elected Republicans who pass trillion dollar budgets with earmarks the same as their opponents.  Same distinction goes for the liberal path.  True liberals have some foggy vision of a community utopia where everyone has a fair share of what they need and live happily ever after.  We need not insult them; we need to articulate the flaws and downsides of their ideas.  It is the elected  phony liberals who pray off them for their votes to build their power, make deals, pay back special interests and chop away at our few remaining freedoms.

The true liberal out there doesn't see minimum wage law or single payer healthcare as a federal power grab or anything else other than trying to make the world we live in a better place.  You must take that view on, head-on, and demonstrate why that does not make a better world.

Luckily the proportion of true liberals out there hovers at only about 17-21%, see below, in spite of the fact that almost no one is persuasively arguing WHY a larger nanny state is a bad idea.
5792  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Political prediction - RICH KARLGAARD at Forbes on: January 08, 2010, 11:52:01 AM
He had several interesting predictions including the iPad, a selloff before the 15% capital gains rate disappears and Lance Armstrong winning his 8th Tour.  I liked this one:

Democratic Majorities Cut to 53-47 in Senate and 219-216 in the House in 2010.
This will be the worst outcome for President Obama, as he'll have to run
for re-election in 2012 with the Speaker Pelosi albatross.

Winning congress in 2010 is a goal that would accomplish very little in this angry partisan environment.  Nothing passed would be signed.  Nothing repealed would get signed.  No vetoes would be over-ridden.  Also as Karlgaard picks up is that America likes divided government.  If Republicans steal the house, then the new speaker representing directionless Republicans becomes the ugly picture on the cover of the news magazines instead of Pelosi and Obama.

Better to gain back most of the ground and take it all with a clear agenda, a LEADER, and a mandate in 2012.
5793  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Somali civil war hits America? on: January 08, 2010, 01:55:49 AM
Possible story to watch.  Minneapolis only had 19 murders last year.  Last night 3 Somalis were gunned down in public at a neighborhood market.  The shooters are loose, armed and dangerous.  VERY unusual that police or media disclose ethnicity: "[Chief] says the killers are also believed to be Somali."  Sounded like a botched robbery, but a couple of problems with that.  If rank amateurs shoot 3 people, they probably wouldn't all die instantly.  And if pros rob a convenience store for money, they probably don't want it to escalate to mass murder. This looks like a multiple public execution, (just speculating) something to do with war back home in the land of al Qaida, Civil War, Blackhawk Down and piracy.  (Michael Yon gets detained and these thugs use the airport express lane with the revolving door!)
Police look for 2 in slaying of 3 Somalis at store

MINNEAPOLIS --  Police appealed to the public for tips Thursday about an attack at a corner market that left three Somali businessmen dead, and they backed away from describing it as an attempted robbery gone bad.

"The people in any part of this city should not only have great sympathy for the family of the victims but be outraged and stirred to actions that these people will be brought to justice," Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak said.

Investigators were searching for two people who, police said, entered Seward Market and Halal Meats Wednesday night and killed three adult men.

Police Chief Tim Dolan is calling the shooters "cold-blooded killers" and warns they are very dangerous. At a Thursday morning news conference, Dolan urged anyone with information about Wednesday night's killings at Seward Market and Halal Meats to come forward.

Police say they don't know the motive behind the killings. The initial call came in as a robbery, but on Thursday authorities backed away from saying it was an attempted robbery. Instead, they say there are looking at several scenarios.

"We have some suspected motives but we won't get into the details on that, we are just not sure," Dolan said.

Dolan says there are a large number of security cameras in the store, and that surveillance video is excellent. He also says there were a number of witnesses to the crime, and that they are cooperating. 

The three victims, all adult men, were members of the city's large community of Somali immigrants. Dolan says the killers are also believed to be Somali.

The triple homicide happend around 7:45 p.m. Wednesday night at Seward Market & Halal Meat located near 24th and Franklin Avenues.

The store is in an area south of downtown with a significant population of Somali immigrants. Although police have not confirmed the identities of the victims, leaders in the local Somali community say they are all Somali men who worked in the store, including its owner.  The men are described by a local Somali spokesman as decent members of the community who had nothing to do with gangs.

"We've never seen in Minneapolis that three Somali young guys were shot and killed at the same time on the same spot," Somali spokesman Omar Jamal said. "So there is an investigation going now. And we're asking the community to tell the police if they saw anything. Therefore those guys will be brought to justice."

Police Sgt. William Palmer said no suspects are in custody for the homicides.

Seward Market and Halal Meat, is in the city's Seward neighborhood, a middle-class area south of downtown with a significant population of Somali immigrants.   Sgt. Palmer decribes the area as "a good neighborhood."

Rybak said Thursday, "I think it's a specific tragedy to a community that has come here to escape violence now has lost three members to violence."

Rybak and Dolan had planned to toute the decline of crime in the city at a news conference Thursday.

Minnesota has the largest population of Somali immigrants of any U.S. state. 
5794  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Michael Yon in Afghanistan on: January 08, 2010, 01:06:46 AM
"He knows his fedspeak."

But he doesn't know the facts of this case ('basically this' and 'probably that'), nor do we. 

As a reporter/journalist Yon should not have missed the part where he was handed over from TSA to Customs and Immigration - if in fact he was.

Quoting: "Basically Michael Yon thinks that customs and immigration laws don't apply to him or his friends"

That was a reckless statement.  Nothing brought up indicates Yon or his companion broke a law, only reasons why they each might have raised suspicion.
Just because that question has worked for them to guage the reaction of a shady people does not mean that federal law compels him to answer it to a federal agent (Customs, Immgration or Census) or to even know the answer except for at IRS filing time. 

One reason you can not be logically compelled to answer is that self employed people often have no idea how much money they make.  It depends on when you ask and what time frame you are referring to.  Income is a calculation revenues minus expenses.  I'm guessing he doesn't know any one of those three numbers with any accuracy so how can he be compelled to answer in a situation where a wrong answer might be a crime.  Balancing that, they may have every right to delay his entry or even deny his entry for cause. 

Real businesses keep at least two or three sets of books.  One for tax purposes and state and federal could be different.  If he knew all of the revenue, expense and income numbers, he would still have to know all details of which of his expenses are deductible in which situations in order to answer the question from a tax records point of view, which is the measure that DHS presumably would verify if they are serious.  One set of business books for public accounting reports if they are subject to those regulations or for reporting back to his partners or backers, and a different set for operational management which may be more cash flow based in the short term along with longer term goals for solvency,  profitability or growth, whatever the objectives are. I would assume Michael Yon had little idea of how to answer the question if he wanted to.

My take though from his writing is that he simply didn't like his privacy invaded when he knows he has done nothing wrong.
I turned in a trespasser on a property recently.  The sheriff deputy  had him frisked and handcuffed very quickly on very little information, ultimately releasing him without pressing charges.  I suppose the handcuffs help secure the situation and also served to intimidate a bit as the officers sorted out the facts.

Under Habeas Corpus I think they have 3 days to charge or release you. I assume this was more like minutes, though apparently uncalled for.  Yon was 'arrested' only in the sense of losing his liberties for that period, but not charged with anything or denied entry.

The fedspeak guy probably had it partly right - Yon's travel location history just looked fishy to them and that's all they knew.
5795  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Housing/Mortgage/Real Estate on: January 07, 2010, 09:44:43 AM
There isn't a need to 'adjust things' in a firm contract.  You gave them the right to take back in exchange for the money to buy.  You make the payments and then they release the lien against the property.  If/when you miss they have a choice of remedies - collect the money owing or take back the asset securing the loan.  When they take back the property you are released from your obligation for the rest of the payments.  Make it more complicated, make it more costly to take back and up go the costs, fees and interest rates, making money harder to find and houses harder to buy.

You can apply for a new, longer loan to stretch out the payments from the same or a different mortgage company to replace the existing mortgage during its term.  But that is voluntary and far different than forcing a business to negotiate/take less or pay later than what was promised in the original contract. 
5796  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Pathological Science on: January 07, 2010, 09:19:45 AM
A little friendly parsing but the term 'going green' is backwards.  The green plants love the increased CO2 levels, like from a Chevy Suburban, and would gasp for a breath if a Prius or a bicycle were the only CO2 sources available. 

BBG, Old Style? From God's Country?  Fully Krausened? That beer should be sipped and savored, not pounded down by the case.   smiley

Rarick, I agree there is no reason to be wasteful or piggish with earth's resources.  I know we always turn off the waterski boat between skiers.  That is different than putting state control over recreational uses of gasoline for example. Recycle by choice is different than forcing me to pay for huge diesel trucks to come down our little dead end for recycling every week, then forcing me to pay for more diesel trucks to bring in more asphalt to repair the damage that the other trucks do.  The key is to make reasonable choices and not have them rammed down our throats or engineered socially from government elites.  Most of the tainted 'research' was aimed at justifying new legislation, restrictions, taxation and redistribution.
5797  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Latin America: Economic growth in Peru on: January 06, 2010, 11:31:54 PM
Great success story:

Latin America's surprise rising economic star: Peru

Peru's growth rate – 9.8 percent – was one of the fastest last year. It's poised to break with neighbors Bolivia, Venezuela, and Ecuador with its center-left but pro-business governments.

By Matthew Clark / January 5, 2010
Lima, Peru

Often overlooked as a player in the global economy, Peru is determined to prove that it’s more than just llamas, bowler hats, and Macchu Picchu.

Its 9.8 percent growth rate last year was one of the world’s fastest. And record commodities prices, coupled with China’s insatiable demand for raw materials, are helping the mineral-rich nation weather the financial crisis better than most other countries in the region.

Now, Peru predicts that the construction of a new road between its Pacific coast and Brazil will replace the Panama Canal as the main passage for trade between rising superpower China and the agricultural juggernaut – adding a full percentage point to Peru’s gross domestic product. Add to that new oil and gas projects worth billions of dollars, and you’ve got a country poised for a giant leap.

Not since the height of the Spanish Empire, after Francisco Pizarro subdued Incan Emperor Atahualpa during his quest for the mythical golden city of El Dorado, has Peru been better positioned to play a key role on the world stage. But the country has long been dogged by a “resource curse” – vast reserves of gold, silver, tin, iron, zinc, and copper that have sparked more turmoil than development. Now the question is whether Peru – pound for pound, one of the world’s richest countries in terms of resources – can avoid repeating mistakes that have stunted its growth in the past.

The country has experienced decades of extreme left-wing and right-wing authoritarian governments and a brutal leftist insurgency waged by the Shining Path. But Peru’s past two pro-business, yet center-left governments have steered the country toward record economic growth, greater transparency, and rapid decentralization. The result: Peru has matured politically to the point where analysts – and investors – are beginning to talk about another regional powerhouse creeping up alongside Brazil.

“South America in general, and Peru in particular, are the region and country of the future,” says Francisco Sagasti, a senior associate at FORO, a development think tank based in Lima. “We’ve tried every macroeconomic model, and we’ve learned from our mistakes. No one is pushing for nationalization here. Everyone here knows that you have to have sensible economic policies from top to bottom.”

Indeed, Peruvians of all walks of life seem to agree that the country is not likely to follow its Andean neighbors Bolivia and Ecuador toward the “21st century socialism” of Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez. They’ve been there, done that. And, although President Alan Garcia’s approval rating now hovers near 30 percent, few quibble with the fact that Peru has enjoyed an average annual economic growth rate of 7 percent since 2003 or that per capita income has doubled and poverty plummeted from 50 percent to 35 percent in roughly the same time.

Peru’s ruling classes are almost giddy with excitement. “Latin America has the opportunity to be a major player like never before,” says former center-left President Alejandro Toledo, the country’s first indigenous leader and who is widely expected to be a top candidate again when Peru votes in a little over a year. “Peru is a hub for Pacific countries and China’s coming like a bulldozer.”

Barriers to a boom

But Peru’s rapid ascent is not a given. In some of its historically neglected mountain and jungle areas, social unrest lurks just beneath the surface, ready to thwart progress if people in those regions don’t feel more a part of the economic boom.

In June, clashes between indigenous protesters and armed forces killed more than 30 in the worst political violence since the Shining Path’s campaign of terror in the 1990s.

Native groups say the confrontation, which led to the resignation of Peru’s prime minister and the exile of a top indigenous leader, took place because the government refused to consult them before opening up their ancestral lands to oil and gas exploration.

Peru’s Congress quickly repealed two decrees by President Garcia that were aimed at opening wide swaths of the Peruvian Amazon to logging, dams, and oil drilling, and Garcia admitted that his failure to properly consult with indigenous groups on these matters was a mistake. Still, Garcia remains committed to the energy exploration that he and many others believe is crucial for the development of the nation. With half of the country identifying as indigenous, such conflicts are likely to come up again.

“Peru is very geographically fragmented,” says Mr. Toledo, explaining that Peru’s Andes are difficult to access and that two-thirds of the country is road-swallowing Amazonian jungle. “That’s its beauty, but also its challenge.”

The country is now in a race to spread decisionmaking power and largess from its recent boom to long-neglected rural areas.

“One of the weak points of [Peru’s economic] growth is that the interior of the country has been left behind,” says Epifanio Baca, the coordinator of the Citizen Watch Program, which has spent more than 20 years monitoring mining in Peru.

But that’s changing.

Mr. Baca says that one of the most important developments in the past few years is that the tax on mining has increased from 7 percent to 30 percent, and that half of that tax revenue is sent to Peru’s regional governments.

The fact that 15 percent of extractive industry earnings now goes to regional governments is hailed as Exhibit A in Peru’s aggressive moves to decentralize power away from Lima.

“Decentralization is vital, because [rural Peruvians] see effective governance and improvement of life at the national level – in Lima – but they don’t see it where they are,” says Vito Verna, who monitors social conflicts at the national ombudsman’s office.

Mr. Verna’s office, which was created earlier this year, keeps an eye on nearly 300 simmering local conflicts, almost half of which are related to mining, oil, or gas activities. The office plays the role of mediator in any conflict in which all the stakeholders have asked for dialogue.

“A year ago, only 25 percent of conflicts had dialogue. Now 50 percent have dialogue,” he says. “Peruvian society is evolving. Now, people who’ve historically been discriminated against are more a part of things.”

But as the central government devolves power from Lima, where one-third of the population lives, it’s finding that many regional governmental officials don’t have needed management skills.

“Competency training for regional officials is now vital,” says Verna’s boss and head of the ombudsman’s office, Eduardo Vega Luna.

And then there’s corruption. As regional budgets have exploded, so have the number of graft allegations against local and regional officials.

Still, by most accounts, there’s been tremendous progress on government accountability.

“Corruption affects all levels of government, but Peru has moved forward,” says Baca, of the Citizen Watch Program. “Any citizen can now see how money is being spent on a month-to-month basis.”

Peru is the only country in Latin America to sign on to the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), which was started in 2002 by former British Prime Minister Tony Blair to enable citizens to more closely monitor the flows of money from energy and mining companies to the host country’s local, regional, and federal government.

The goal of the initiative is to combat the government corruption that has plagued resource-rich countries, often leading to social unrest and deadly armed conflict.

Baca has been instrumental in coordinating efforts to independently audit willing oil, gas, and mining companies and ensure that payments by companies to the different branches of government – and revenues received by government – are widely publicized for any interested party to read.
A steep learning curve

Peru is nearing the end of the two-year process to become certified as completely EITI-compliant. It would be only the third such country.

The progress on transparency and accountability is “encouraging,” says Cynthia Sanborn, director of the research center at Pacific University in Lima. “There’s more learning from mistakes.”

But is Peru learning quickly enough?

During a visit to Peru earlier in December, Brazil’s president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, signed 11 cooperation deals, mostly on trade and energy. Peru’s Garcia urged the scores of top-flight business leaders that accompanied Lula to invest his country.

“I’m deeply convinced that our peoples’ union and the road integration of our ports, flights, and trade will allow [us] to achieve both a very high level of well-being and [the] social justice we are all fighting for,” assured Garcia.

Coming months and years will reveal whether Peru’s political reforms will keep the “social justice” side of that equation on pace with its lightning-fast growth.
5798  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Latin America - Chile on: January 06, 2010, 11:25:04 PM
In another Latin America story...

 Deep secrets of economic growth
January 6, 2010 (

In an excellent editorial on December 4, Investor's Business Daily reported that Chile was expected to win entry to OECD's club of developed countries by December 15 -- "a great affirmation for a once-poor nation that pulled itself up by trusting markets." (The OECD followed up as expected on December 15.)

Chile is the first country in South America to win the honor. For Chileans, it symbolizes exit from the ranks of the Third World to the First. "For the rest of us," IBD writes, "it's a stunning example of how embracing free markets and free trade brings prosperity." It's an example that we could use in the United States right about now.
5799  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Latin America: Democracy on: January 06, 2010, 11:22:11 PM
Thanks Denny, all valid points.  The vote fraud thread here alone would probably boot the US out of the hypothetical democracies group. Maybe the members of this club for the consent of the governed should be judged by whether they are moving toward or away from these ideals rather than by the name of their system, and that could be a way of exposing or sanctioning elected leaders for shutting down democratic systems. My hopes for this type of group are small, just a small step to try to diffuse the power of the thugs and cleptocrats with no legitimacy trying to establish world government at the UN.

I recall a Chavez election where the exit polls were 40-60 against him and the 'official' results were 60-40 for him, a 40 point swing.  My reaction was that the problem lied also with the 40 percent who actually voted for corruption, as much as it was the highly expected cheat.  As a tennis competitor, I know you avoid losing by one or two errors or a bad line call only by not letting your match get that close.   40% voting for Chavez was enough to create the confusion he needed to steal that election and still have the result honored.  On a different scale, same goes for the 60th D-Senator in the US; a 0.1% cheat only worked because of the nearly 50% who chose him legitimately.
5800  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / ACTION item: Hope and Change for Ted Kennedy's seat on: January 06, 2010, 12:04:28 PM
Make a difference, change Ted Kennedy's seat.  Election is less than 2 weeks away.  Please spread this around.  Don't live in Massachusetts?  Don't worry.  $22 million of Al Franken's money didn't come from MN. (CCP, this could affect your business!)

 Support Scott Brown
January 5, 2010

Scott Brown is the GOP candidate for the open Senate seat in Massachusetts. Today comes word that he is within shouting distance of Democrat Martha Coakley.

Coakley is a liberal Democrat of the cookie cutter variety. Even in the friendly environs of Massachusetts she can do no better on the subject of health care, for example, than assuring voters that as their next "U.S. Senator, Martha will work to ensure health care reform is done effectively and responsibly." And you know what that means. On the other hand, Brown forthrightly declares: "I am opposed to the health care legislation that is under consideration in Congress and will vote against it."

On "equal rights and opportunity," Coakley is equally bold in declaring her beliefs: "Martha believes that our differences and diversity make us stronger -- and that our government must ensure equal access to opportunities and fair treatment for all."

What about the economy? "Martha believes the best way to get our economy back on the right track is to tackle the economic crisis head on and to take all necessary steps to get people back to work."

I could go on quoting the strategically bland Ms. Coakley, but suffice it to say that Scott Brown deserves our support. He too believes that the the best way to get our economy back on the right track is to tackle the economic crisis head on and to take all necessary steps to get people back to work, only more so! Brown actually supports the free enterprise system, and his victory would kill Obamacare to boot.

Massachusetts goes to the polls on January 19. Support Scott Brown with your contribution to his Senate campaign here:
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