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5751  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: June 14, 2007, 06:16:58 PM
[WSJ editorials have] "open contempt for...restraints on wealth accumulation".  Well said, me too!  Smiley
5752  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: June 14, 2007, 01:52:16 PM
The Prime Minister of Iraq wrote an op-ed published yesterday in the WSJ, posted below.  Very worthwhile read IMO.  First my comments on the previous 2 posts here.

My conclusion from the Strat piece, if they are correct, is that the Americans are now allied with the Sunni, Shia and Kurd political leaders and populations along with the Iraqi government and the Iraqi security forces, and are fighting against mainly foreign jihadists and Shia militias. Sounds like the political side is going well but violence continues because the enemy believes that continuing war is  their victory.

The Gore video is amazing.  He strongly attacks Bush I for being soft on Saddam in years prior.  It is perhaps easier to understand as a 1992 Clinton attack piece in the general campaign with the VP candidate with his 'hawk' credentials delivering the attack. Amazingly they weakened Bush for raising taxes when they would raise them more and for being soft on tyrants when they would be softer.  Masterful political selling if deception is your product.

Here is the Prime Minister of Iraq from yesterday:

Our Common Struggle
America had its civil war. Why expect freedom to come easy to Iraq?

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

BAGHDAD, Iraq--Americans keen to understand the ongoing struggle for a new Iraq can be guided by the example of their own history. In the 1860s, your country fought a great struggle of its own, a civil war that took hundreds of thousands of lives but ended in the triumph of freedom and the birth of a great power. Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation signaled the destruction of the terrible institution of slavery, and the rise of a country dedicated, more than any other in the world of nation-states then and hence, to the principle of human liberty.

Our struggle in Iraq is similar to the great American quest, and is perhaps even more complicated. As your country was fighting that great contest over its unity and future, Iraq was a province of an Ottoman empire steeped in backwardness and ignorance. A half a century later, the British began an occupation of Iraq and drew the borders of contemporary Iraq as we know them today. Independence brought no relief to the people of our land. They were not given the means of political expression, nor were they to know political arrangements that respected their varied communities.

Under the Baath tyranny, Iraqis were to endure a brutal regime the likes of which they had never known before. Countless people were put to death on the smallest measure of suspicion. Wars were waged by that regime and our national treasure was squandered without the consent of a population that was herded into costly and brutal military campaigns. Today when I hear the continuous American debate about the struggle raging in Iraq, I can only recall with great sorrow the silence which attended the former dictator's wars.

It is perhaps true that only people who are denied the gift of liberty can truly appreciate its full meaning and bounty. I look with admiration at the American debate surrounding the Iraq war, and I admire even those opinions that differ from my own. As prime minister of Iraq I have been subjected to my share of criticism in that American debate, but I harbor no resentment and fully understand that the basic concerns of Americans are the safety of their young people fighting in our country and the national interests of their society. As this American debate goes on, I am guided and consoled by the sacred place of freedom and liberty in the American creed and in America's notion of itself.

War being what it is, the images of Iraq that come America's way are of car bombs and daily explosions. Missing from the coverage are the great, subtle changes our country is undergoing, the birth of new national ideas and values which will in the end impose themselves despite the death and destruction that the terrorists have been hell-bent on inflicting on us. Those who endured the brutality of the former regime, those who saw the outside world avert its gaze from their troubles, know the magnitude of the change that has come to Iraq. A fundamental struggle is being fought on Iraqi soil between those who believe that Iraqis, after a long nightmare, can retrieve their dignity and freedom, and others who think that oppression is the order of things and that Iraqis are doomed to a political culture of terror, prisons and mass graves. Some of our neighbors have made this struggle more lethal still, they have placed their bets on the forces of terror in pursuit of their own interests.

When I became prime minister a year and a half ago, my appointment emerged out of a political process unique in our neighborhood: Some 12 million voters took part in our parliamentary elections. They gave voice to their belief in freedom and open politics and their trust imposed heavy burdens on all of us in political life. Our enemies grew determined to drown that political process in indiscriminate violence, to divert attention from the spectacle of old men and women casting their vote, for the first time, to choose those who would govern in their name. You may take this right for granted in America, but for us this was a tantalizing dream during the decades of dictatorship and repression.

Before us lies a difficult road--the imperative of national reconciliation, the drafting of a new social contract that acknowledges the diversity of our country. It was in that spirit that those who drafted our constitution made provisions for amending it. The opponents of the constitution were a minority, but we sought for our new political life the widest possible measure of consensus. From the outset, I committed myself to the principle of reconciliation, pledged myself to its success. I was determined to review and amend many provisions and laws passed in the aftermath of the fall of the old regime, among them the law governing de-Baathification. I aimed to find the proper balance between those who opposed the decrees on de-Baathification and others who had been victims of the Baath Party. This has not been easy, but we have stuck to that difficult task.

Iraq is well on its way to passing a new oil law that would divide the national treasure among our provinces and cities, based on their share of the population. This was intended to reassure those provinces without oil that they will not be left behind and consigned to poverty. The goal is to repair our oil sector, open the door for new investments and raise the standard of living of Iraqi families. Our national budget this year is the largest in Iraq's history, its bulk dedicated to our most neglected provinces and to improving the service sector in the country as a whole. Our path has been made difficult by the saboteurs and the terrorists who target our infrastructure and our people, but we have persevered, even though our progress has been obscured by the scenes of death and destruction.

Daily we still fight the battle for our security. We lose policemen and soldiers to the violence, as do the multinational forces fighting along our side. We are training and equipping a modern force, a truly national and neutral force, aided by our allies. This is against the stream of history here, where the armed forces have traditionally been drawn into political conflicts and struggles. What gives us sustenance and hope is an increase in the numbers of those who volunteer for our armed forces, which we see as proof of the devotion of our people to the stability and success of our national government.

We have entered into a war, I want it known, against militias that had preyed upon the weakness of the national government and in the absence of law and order in some of our cities, even in some of the districts in Baghdad, imposed their own private laws--laws usually driven by extremism and a spirit of vengeance. Some of these militias presented themselves as defenders of their own respective communities against other militias. We believe that the best way to defeat these militias is to build and enhance the capabilities of our government as a defender of the rights of our citizens. A stable government cannot coexist with these militias.

Our conflict, it should be emphasized time and again, has been fueled by regional powers that have reached into our affairs. Iraq itself is eager to build decent relations with its neighbors. We don't wish to enter into regional entanglements. Our principle concern is to heal our country. We have reached out to those among our neighbors who are worried about the success and example of our democratic experiment, and to others who seem interested in enhancing their regional influence.

Our message has been the same to one and all: We will not permit Iraq to be a battleground for other powers. In the contests and ambitions swirling around Iraq, we are neutral and dedicated to our country's right to prosperity and a new life, inspired by a memory of a time when Baghdad was--as Washington is today--a beacon of enlightenment on which others gazed with admiration. We have come to believe, as Americans who founded your country once believed, that freedom is a precious inheritance. It is never cheap but the price is worth paying if we are to rescue our country.

Mr. Maliki is prime minister of Iraq.
5753  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: June 13, 2007, 11:09:31 AM
Crafty, I have also been a huge fan of the Journal and for me also it is/was always because of the editorial page.  I was first referred there by my college economics professor, Walter Heller, who made us read his contributions there in the mid-1970s.  I peeked around a little further and found that he was only on their Board of Contributors only because of his dissenting view; the the main editorials made far more sense to me.  Heller was chief economist for Presidents Kennedy and Johnson and was poised to take that role for Ted Kennedy who nearly beat Jimmy Carter in the 1980 primaries with a platform of gas rationing and national health care.  (Sound like liberals 28 years later)  Meanwhile Robert Bartley and his staff at the Journal were all over the underpinnings and advancement of supply-side economics and writing editorials like the classic 'Keynes is Dead', which claimed that if inflation and unemployment can worsen simultaneously, they could also be solved simultaneously.  They were right.

I assume that Murdoch is a market, media and investment genius and wouldn't buy Dow Jones just to squander the brand names of Barrons and the WSJ. The Journal has always maintained a very real firewall between its newsroom and its editorial page so the changes in the newsroom don't alarm me.
5754  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Venezuela on: June 08, 2007, 06:38:55 PM
The key phrase to me was not the news in the news story, that the opposition was voicing opposition, it was the background information that concerns me:

"Congress, which has granted Chavez the power to rule by decree..."

I will look into the points you made and I hope others will post, especially Denny, who is there.  By his cartoon post that shows Chavez speaking on all channels, I don't think he agrees with you, but hopefully we will get a first-hand account in his own words.
5755  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Venezuela on: June 08, 2007, 12:00:56 PM
I didn't see an English language thread for Venezuela, so I hope this can be a place to exchange information and views.

It's nice to see Denny (captainccs) post.  I remember his wisdom on investing and life posted elsewhere.  I was concerned for his safety when I saw a gap between posts of Chavez dissent on his site at 

I wonder what people in Venezuela can or should do to get their country back, and I wonder what people in the U.S. and other countries can or should do to help.

Here is a Reuters (English) version of the Douglas Barrios story since I can't read the Spanish version. Click on the link to include the protest photo with the story.

Students Take TV Fight to Venezuela Congress

Reuters,     Jun 07, 2007

Thousands of students and university rectors and professors march for freedom of expression in Caracas. (Photo)

CARACAS—Students took their 11-day-old protest over President Hugo Chavez's shutdown of the last nationwide opposition television station to Venezuela's Congress on Thursday, in a rare appearance by the opposition in the legislature.

Addressing the 167-member body, where there have been no opposition lawmakers since 2005, student leader Douglas Barrios said daily demonstrations against the closure of RCTV would continue.

"Today our classes are in the street," he said in remarks that were broadcast nationally.

At one point, Barrios took off his T-shirt in the signature red of Chavez, saying Venezuelans could refuse to wear the government uniform—a reference to the opposition's charge that Chavez intimidates people into displaying support for him.

The closing has become the rallying cry for a nascent pro-democracy student movement that critics of the president hope can help fill a void left by a weak opposition in the polarized OPEC nation.

Congress, which has granted Chavez the power to rule by decree, organized a debate over the station's closure between pro- and anti-government students and the government required all Venezuelan television and radio to broadcast the session.

The anti-Chavez students—part of a mainly middle-class movement that has at times drawn tens of thousands onto the streets—walked out after the first pro-government speech, complaining the event was politicized.

They were escorted past Chavez supporters outside by security forces with anti-riot shields. Some were driven off in a troop carrier.
5756  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: June 07, 2007, 12:59:56 AM
Thanks for the Newt speech.  I would like to read it closer and offer my comments later.

Here is a new Obama speech.  Near as I can tell he is going after the Edwards' 'Two Americas' theme. He says he has new ideas, but blames American poverty on the war, and mainly supports expanding federal programs in order to 'strengthen the family'.  In the end it all comes back to what I would call socialized medicine. Also, by my read, he is saying he has God on his side, then mentions Pat Robertson in the next breath.
(Post was too long; read the speech at the link, if interested.)
5757  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Geo Political matters on: June 07, 2007, 12:34:59 AM
Brian,  I appreciate your correction on the 'October Surprise' post, but then you re-posted the unsubstantiated smear from wikipedia. At the link, wikipedia makes clear that they don't have a source to cite for its validity. They are the messenger, not the source and they are saying that they don't have a source.  Or a second source.  I stand by what I wrote that there is "no credible mark in history tying the Reagan campaign to delaying the release of the hostages". 

You posted: "
President Bush participates in Satanic rituals at a place called the Bohemian Grove.  Every year in July a group of all-male prominent business, political, media types meet for two weeks to conduct global policies, take drugs, dress like woman, and have sex among other things." 

Sorry I don't watch the videos, but I am not aware any credible information that Bush has taken drugs since being elected to anything or has ever partaken in gay male sex.  If he had, it would affect my view of him morally but not establish a conspiracy in my mind for anything beyond drug use and gay sex.

I get absolutely no red flag from knowing that George Bush and John Kerry both went to Yale.
"George W. Bush '68 [was] President of Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity ...John Kerry '66 [was] President of the Yale Political Union...Members of DKE and the YPU do not often cross paths on campus."

"Shouldn't it be a red flag when some of the most powerful people meet and there is no media converage? "  - No flag for me.  I wish they would talk. 

"Is it too far fetched to consider that our President has more allegiance to a secret society such as Skull and Bones than to the American people?"  - Yes, it's too far-fetched, and it reminds me of the cheap argument that Bush and Cheney would rather enrich a fews friends they worked with for a few years than do their very best for the American people.  I just don't equate making mistakes or choosing policies different than I would choose with having bad motives and the wrong interests in mind.

I joked for years that cold viruses are bottled and released by cold remedy companies.  I don't happen to believe that, and I certainly don't believe Don Rumsfeld favors an American Bird Flu outbreak because of a stock he owns.  Good grief, what in his behavior makes anyone think he needs the money that badly.  God Bless his right to invest in public health oriented, biotech stocks. If his ownership is a public fact, then I assume the investment was made with full disclosure. That kind of accusation should make every rational person afraid to enter public life, IMHO.

Back to the first example - if Reagan had negotiated with the Iranians to hold American hostages LONGER, wouldn't they later want to humiliate him with proof of that treason, to put it lightly.  Sorry, I just don't buy it.

In each story there just seems to be something missing.  What were Bush and Kerry conspiring to do? I don't believe Kerry was conspiring to lose. Why would he?  What other evil act did the 1980 Reagan campaign commit to make anyone believe they would risk siding with hostage takers holding Americans.  Important people have met in the wilderness setting you refer to in California, I don't see it as a cause of globalization or anything else.

I believe that you 'could go on and on' , but even if one of these loose strands turns out to be true, in my view that wouldn't validate the rest of them. They are not tightly interwoven.   - respectfully, Doug.

5758  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Geo Political matters on: June 04, 2007, 10:01:50 AM
Adding to the questions and challenges that GM posted, I disagree with the  'October surprise' part of Brian's post:

If you will recall during the Iran Hostage Crisis, Ahmedimjad was one of the captors.  The hostages were released on the 444th day after Regan’s inauguration.  This is known as the 'October Surprise.' A deal was supposedly made between the terrorists and the Regan administration (Karl Rove) to NOT release the hostages until after Regan defeated Carter in the election!"

The wikipedia statement admits it lacks a citation.  The phrase 'October surprise' was supposed to be the opposite - the incumbent would time some major event, such as the negotiated release of the hostages, with the final weeks of the campaign to steal the momentum.  There is no reference to Karl Rove at the link and no credible mark in history tying the Reagan campaign to delaying the release of the hostages. 

The hostage crisis was the captors fault.  The fact that America was incapable of solving it was a symbol of the weakness that Reagan was running against.

5759  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: June 02, 2007, 11:49:23 AM
Note: It's nice that the system warns of a new reply while typing. CCP covers the Newt story well but I'll put this in anyway FWIW.  I agree with CCP that it seems to be a run for President strategy.
"What did [Newt] say about Rove"

Marc, my comments slipped back a page on the 2008 Presidential thread, but the link is here of Newt ripping Bush and Rove in the current New Yorker.  6 pages or so of disgruntled party faithful, but worth the read.

Not in the that article, but Delay's book says Newt couldn't keep focus, kept jumping to new ideas.  I think Dick Armey said of Delay that he combined his solid conservatism with earmarks and pet spending for members' reelections.  My comment was that all those negatives seem to hold some truth, though I love all 3 of them when they stick to their principles.    - Doug
5760  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: June 01, 2007, 02:10:54 PM
This could go under humor or politics or just left alone, but I'll stick it here for the media perspective.  I saw Al Gore on the PBS News hour yesterday.  I'm no linguist, but when Gwen Ifill tried to pin Gore down on whether we were lied into war, Gore said that Bush made an "explicit implication...",  I couldn't help but wonder where that slip would have been re-broadcast if Bush had fumbled those words.  Probably all over Letterman, Leno, etc., maybe the NY Times.

I found the PBS transcript and emailed the tip to OpinionJournal, who did the following piece ripping Gore pretty badly with it yesterday, and gave me a credit at the end for the tip.

Assaulted Nuts

Is Al Gore a genuine intellectual, as he would like us to believe, or is he just pretentious à la John Kerry? He has a new book out called "The Assault on Reason," and we suppose reading it would shed some light on the question. But life is short.

Here's an excerpt from an interview Gore gave Gwen Ifill of PBS's "NewsHour":

    Ifill: You write of a "determined disinterest" in learning the truth, on the part of the Bush administration on pre-war intelligence. You accuse the White House of an "unprecedented and sustained campaign of mass deception," very strong words. And you say that President Bush "outsourced the truth." Are you suggesting that President Bush deliberately misled the American people when it comes to the Iraq war?

    Gore: Well, there was certainly a coordinated effort in the White House and in the Department of Defense simultaneously to convey the image of a mushroom cloud exploding over an American city and to link it to a specific scenario, the very strong and explicit implication that Saddam Hussein was going to develop nuclear weapons and give them to Osama bin Laden, and that would result in nuclear explosions in American cities.

"Explicit implication," huh? How do you know it wasn't an implicit explication? Such slipshod thinking leads one to think that Gore does have more in common with Kerry than with, say, Pat Moynihan.
5761  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: June 01, 2007, 01:45:18 PM
Peggy Noonan column below rips Bush for breaking the conservative coalition into pieces.  As a conservative, the truth hurts.  For her, it started in Jan 2005 with the the policy of the United States to eradicate tyranny in the world.  For me it began with the partnership with Ted Kennedy for an expanded federal takeover of schools.  By the time the Medicare prescription drug entitlement came around I was only a Republican if faced with a choice like Kerry (or Hillary), otherwise homeless.  Even when he makes the right decisions, like tax cuts or perhaps Iraq, he can't explain them, so public support flows to the opponents. Noonan makes the obvious point on immigration - do the first part first.

Too Bad
President Bush has torn the conservative coalition asunder.

Peggy Noonan, WSJ
Friday, June 1, 2007 12:00 a.m. EDT

What political conservatives and on-the-ground Republicans must understand at this point is that they are not breaking with the White House on immigration. They are not resisting, fighting and thereby setting down a historical marker--"At this point the break became final." That's not what's happening. What conservatives and Republicans must recognize is that the White House has broken with them. What President Bush is doing, and has been doing for some time, is sundering a great political coalition. This is sad, and it holds implications not only for one political party but for the American future.

The White House doesn't need its traditional supporters anymore, because its problems are way beyond being solved by the base. And the people in the administration don't even much like the base. Desperate straits have left them liberated, and they are acting out their disdain. Leading Democrats often think their base is slightly mad but at least their heart is in the right place. This White House thinks its base is stupid and that its heart is in the wrong place.

For almost three years, arguably longer, conservative Bush supporters have felt like sufferers of battered wife syndrome. You don't like endless gushing spending, the kind that assumes a high and unstoppable affluence will always exist, and the tax receipts will always flow in? Too bad! You don't like expanding governmental authority and power? Too bad. You think the war was wrong or is wrong? Too bad.

But on immigration it has changed from "Too bad" to "You're bad."

The president has taken to suggesting that opponents of his immigration bill are unpatriotic--they "don't want to do what's right for America." His ally Sen. Lindsey Graham has said, "We're gonna tell the bigots to shut up." On Fox last weekend he vowed to "push back." Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff suggested opponents would prefer illegal immigrants be killed; Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez said those who oppose the bill want "mass deportation." Former Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson said those who oppose the bill are "anti-immigrant" and suggested they suffer from "rage" and "national chauvinism."

Why would they speak so insultingly, with such hostility, of opponents who are concerned citizens? And often, though not exclusively, concerned conservatives? It is odd, but it is of a piece with, or a variation on, the "Too bad" governing style. And it is one that has, day by day for at least the past three years, been tearing apart the conservative movement.

I suspect the White House and its allies have turned to name calling because they're defensive, and they're defensive because they know they have produced a big and indecipherable mess of a bill--one that is literally bigger than the Bible, though as someone noted last week, at least we actually had a few years to read the Bible. The White House and its supporters seem to be marshalling not facts but only sentiments, and self-aggrandizing ones at that. They make a call to emotions--this is, always and on every issue, the administration's default position--but not, I think, to seriously influence the debate.

They are trying to lay down markers for history. Having lost the support of most of the country, they are looking to another horizon. The story they would like written in the future is this: Faced with the gathering forces of ethnocentric darkness, a hardy and heroic crew stood firm and held high a candle in the wind. It will make a good chapter. Would that it were true!

If they'd really wanted to help, as opposed to braying about their own wonderfulness, they would have created not one big bill but a series of smaller bills, each of which would do one big clear thing, the first being to close the border. Once that was done--actually and believably done--the country could relax in the knowledge that the situation was finally not day by day getting worse. They could feel some confidence. And in that confidence real progress could begin.

The beginning of my own sense of separation from the Bush administration came in January 2005, when the president declared that it is now the policy of the United States to eradicate tyranny in the world, and that the survival of American liberty is dependent on the liberty of every other nation. This was at once so utopian and so aggressive that it shocked me. For others the beginning of distance might have been Katrina and the incompetence it revealed, or the depth of the mishandling and misjudgments of Iraq.

What I came in time to believe is that the great shortcoming of this White House, the great thing it is missing, is simple wisdom. Just wisdom--a sense that they did not invent history, that this moment is not all there is, that man has lived a long time and there are things that are true of him, that maturity is not the same thing as cowardice, that personal loyalty is not a good enough reason to put anyone in charge of anything, that the way it works in politics is a friend becomes a loyalist becomes a hack, and actually at this point in history we don't need hacks.

One of the things I have come to think the past few years is that the Bushes, father and son, though different in many ways, are great wasters of political inheritance. They throw it away as if they'd earned it and could do with it what they liked. Bush senior inherited a vibrant country and a party at peace with itself. He won the leadership of a party that had finally, at great cost, by 1980, fought itself through to unity and come together on shared principles. Mr. Bush won in 1988 by saying he would govern as Reagan had. Yet he did not understand he'd been elected to Reagan's third term. He thought he'd been elected because they liked him. And so he raised taxes, sundered a hard-won coalition, and found himself shocked to lose his party the presidency, and for eight long and consequential years. He had many virtues, but he wasted his inheritance.

Bush the younger came forward, presented himself as a conservative, garnered all the frustrated hopes of his party, turned them into victory, and not nine months later was handed a historical trauma that left his country rallied around him, lifting him, and his party bonded to him. He was disciplined and often daring, but in time he sundered the party that rallied to him, and broke his coalition into pieces. He threw away his inheritance. I do not understand such squandering.

Now conservatives and Republicans are going to have to win back their party. They are going to have to break from those who have already broken from them. This will require courage, serious thinking and an ability to do what psychologists used to call letting go. This will be painful, but it's time. It's more than time.
5762  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: May 30, 2007, 10:33:10 PM
CCP, I see your post came through as I was writing - looks like our observations overlap...

I like David Gordon's site and I appreciate the link to maplight.  It's important to track money and watch over the people's representatives as closely as we can.  After that, I just don't follow their logic to its conclusion.  For example, if a pro-life organization gives to a pro-life congressman, or a trade group gives to a free trade supporting congressman, and they vote in the way that they already said they would vote, what have we uncovered?  It seems that this system needs to track at least one more variable, such as changing a position in correlation with timing of the money in order to support the claim that "money buys votes".

Quoting the original post: "I probably sound absurdly naive here. But truth is, I can't quite figure out why these contributions are even legal."

My answer:  Likewise, maybe I'm missing something, but let's say you have a legitimate business and the regulators are considering legislation that you think is unwise, unfair and would devastate or destroy your investment and lifework.  This kind of thing happens all the time.  Shouldn't you have the same right to vote, to speak, and to contribute to campaigns that everyone else has?

Let's take his example: "You find out that on H.R.5684, the U. S.-Oman Free Trade Agreement, special interests in favor of this bill (including pharmaceutical companies and aircraft makers) gave each senator an average of $244,000. Lobbyists opposed to the bill (such as anti-poverty groups and consumer groups) coughed up only $38,000 per senator.  Surprise! The bill passed."

I've admitted my pro-free-trade views, so forgive me but I have no idea why an anti-poverty or pro-consumer group would oppose a free trade agreement with Oman or how they would justify soliciting money from their members to oppose the sale of American, life saving medications into a friendly foreign market or even into a questionable one.  In my view, it's too bad a pharmaceutical or aircraft maker feels they need to contribute to a campaign for the right to sell American products overseas.  The fact that there is more money on one side of the issue doesn't tell me anything about whether of not money changed a vote or whether or not the greater public interest got a bum deal.

I'm not saying there is no corruption of motives, but money also plays a positive influence.  We saw recently a roomful of Republican candidates debate, share the stage and microphone and receive equal time, no matter how little support they really had.  It takes serious amounts of money to run for high office and mount a winning campaign, so contributions raised are one indicator of which candidates are connecting in the campaign. As they see they aren't connecting, some hopefully will drop out voluntarily along the way.  If anti-special interest people want campaigns to be public financed in equal amounts, then we might see a hundred or a thousand candidates share the stage and demand equal time. 

Don't we spend more money getting out the message on laundry detergent than we do on candidates and positions on public policy?

If we could get the money out of politics, we would then have the pundits, editors and news anchors controlling the message.  Some might think that would be better.  I don't.
5763  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Health Thread (nutrition, medical, longevity, etc) on: May 30, 2007, 11:25:58 AM
CCP,  Strange story.  In my narrow mind it would be the parents asking the school to watch what the kids are eating while under their watch.  The parent-child-public school relationship keeps getting twisted.  Now the school (or village) raises the child and the parents play a limited role. (?) My current perspective comes from sex ed taught in coed classes to 6th grade.  They send my daughter (now 7th grade) home with family discussion questions to fill out, where I might think the teaching should come from the family and the questions go to the school to make sure they aren't undermine what we teach. 

Your comment on the NJ Gov. is funny.  I saw him advocate seatbelt use on a national commercial last night.  Choosing more salad and less pizza is nice if it is market driven, and Orwellian if mandated.  Maybe we can have surveillance cameras over the salt shakers - ok, this isn't very funny.

The role of the 'state' in obesity is inevitable if we accept the idea that the state is responsible for our health care.  It was supposed to be a joke that after tobacco the government would go after fast food...

Back to the science, please expand on your idea that the answer to obesity will come from medicine when you get a chance.
5764  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: May 30, 2007, 10:40:31 AM
Gingrich rips the Bush Administration

(First, a poll update: Rasmussen has Romney passing McCain, just slightly,for second place of the Republicans.)

Gingrich picks a fight with the White House. If interested, read The New Yorker article "Party Unfaithful - the Republican Implosion" for context.  I understand the strategy of separate from Bush, but I don't follow him on all the details.  Basically he attacks Rove for a bad strategy in 2004, but in 2004 Bush added 25% to his 2000 vote and held the house and senate.  To me it would make more sense to criticize everything they did after successful reelection.  As we look back now at the Gingrich congress, there is plenty of open criticism between Newt, Delay and Dick Armey, among others.  Unfortunately, each point has some validity IMO.  (I see Newt as a policy and strategy expert; I don't see him as a future President.)
Excerpt from the article, regarding Newt: "...he blames not only Iraq and Hurricane Katrina but also Karl Rove’s “maniacally dumb” strategy in 2004, which left Bush with no political capital. “All he proved was that the anti-Kerry vote was bigger than the anti-Bush vote,” Gingrich said. He continued, “The Bush people deliberately could not bring themselves to wage a campaign of choice”—of ideology, of suggesting that Kerry was “to the left of Ted Kennedy”—and chose instead to attack Kerry’s war record.

The only way to keep the White House in G.O.P. hands, Gingrich said, would be to nominate someone who, in essence, runs against Bush, in the style of Nicolas Sarkozy, the center-right cabinet minister who just won the French Presidency by making his own President, Jacques Chirac, his virtual opponent."

Bush could have run on tax cut success or on getting another shot at re-making social security, but the issue of the day was war, and backbone on war was the weakness of his opponent.  Bush needed to win on that question in order to ever have any say on the rest.
5765  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Economics on: May 26, 2007, 07:18:44 PM
"Amazing how this CBO study received absolutely no coverage and amazing that the Republicans have not made use of it.
Perhaps Newt Gingrich, who certainly had a big hand in the welfare reform, will use it if he runs"

Agreed. Welfare reform and also capital gains rate cuts were the two big accomplishments of that congress, causing the great economic expansion to continue in this country.  I think most people, via our media, remember Newt for the shutdown (Clinton's fault) and his "whither on the vine" remark (which had to do with a obsoleting a bureaucracy, not cutting off our grandparents) and they remember Clinton for a great economy (where credit should go more to Newt and even Reagan).  I already read the rapid response of liberal bloggers to this study saying these numbers are skewed because the start date of 1991 was a recession year.  (You might recall - that wasn't much of a recession.)  The Democrat candidates pick stats that start at the height of the bubble to show what little progress has been made.  You just exposed which numbers the media will latch onto.

IMO, public policy has a (limited) interest in watching out for the well being of the poorest among us, but no legitimate interest in the so-called 'widening gap' which means putting limits on success. 

5766  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Libertarian themes, Dutch Drug Policy on: May 26, 2007, 06:29:29 PM
Crafty and all, My two cents of personal experience with the Dutch system.  Amsterdam had a nice reputation for being mostly free of violent crime because of so-called legalization of prostitution and drugs, but I was attacked there while walking down a city street in December 1991.  As the article suggests, hard drugs and trafficking were still illegal and so the associated crime still existed, like anywhere else.  I can only speculate on my attackers, but they were not Dutch.  People there who I told the story to believed them to be "North Africans" and most likely feeding a heroin habit or involved in trafficking.  Short story is that they did not get any money from me, but I did need my head stitched up afterward in a Dutch hospital.  Wish I had been traveling with one of you that day.
5767  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Economics on: May 24, 2007, 02:53:15 PM
The Poor in America keep getting Richer

"Among all families with children, the poorest fifth had the fastest overall earnings growth over the 15 years measured."

The poor have been getting less poor, according to a new study by the Congressional Budget Office.  On average, CBO found that low-wage households with children had incomes after inflation that were more than one-third higher in 2005 than in 1991.

The CBO results don't fit the prevailing media stereotype of the U.S. economy as a richer take all affair -- which may explain why you haven't read about them:

    * Among all families with children, the poorest fifth had the fastest overall earnings growth over the 15 years measured.
    * The poorest even had higher earnings growth than the richest 20 percent.
    * The earnings of these poor households are about 80 percent higher today than in the early 1990s.

What happened?

    * CBO says the main causes of this low-income earnings surge have been a combination of welfare reform, expansion of the earned income tax credit and wage gains from a tight labor market, especially in the late stages of the 1990s expansion.
    * Though cash welfare fell as a share of overall income (which includes government benefits), earnings from work climbed sharply as the 1996 welfare reform pushed at least one family breadwinner into the job market.

Earnings growth tapered off as the economy slowed in the early part of this decade, but earnings for low-income families have still nearly doubled in the years since welfare reform became law.  Some two million welfare mothers have left the dole for jobs since the mid-1990s.  Far from being a disaster for the poor, as most on the left claimed when it was debated, welfare reform has proven to be a boon.

Sources: NCPA, CBO, and WSJ Editorial, "The Poor Get Richer," Wall Street Journal, May 23, 2007.
5768  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: American Politics on: May 23, 2007, 01:39:11 PM
The Great Forgotten Debate
Forty years ago, Reagan taught RFK a lesson that ought to be remembered.
By Paul Kengor
National Review referred yesterday to this historic debate with excellent  commentary and context:

You can read the text of the debate here:

My take, rather than a win or a loss, was that the answers from the two main players were far more civil than we see in the arguments of today.
5769  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Proposed mex-us-can currency called Amero on: May 18, 2007, 02:06:57 AM
Brian (and anyone interested), 

First, a note of appreciation that disagreements here are discussed so respectfully, sticking strictly to persuasion and substance.  We draw different conclusions but I find a lot of agreement with your underlying points.

You are correct that the federal gov't operated in the past by taxing trade.  I grudgingly concede that point and would always prefer to be on the side of the founding fathers.  Our constitutional structure changed drastically however in 1913 with the 16th amendment giving power the feds to tax all income.  Prior to that, the federal government had very few possibilities to raise money.    In their wisdom, they saw the income tax as a box of snakes not to be opened.  Today, there is no real chance of going back andrepealing the 16th IMO.  Accepting that reality, I want the income tax to be wider in coverage and lower in rate and I oppose almost all other taxes.

China and Mexico are hugely important questions today for trade policy.  Less important, but symbolic is our relationship with Cuba.  As I see it we have limited options with trade law:  a) no trade, b) no restrictions, or c) a complex set of taxes and regulations where the governments each set rules, levy taxes and make prohibitions.  I support a version of b) no restrictions with limited exceptions, certainly those you mention of slave labor and restricting technology sales that weaken our national security.  Correct me if I'm wrong, but I see you as an advocate of small government who favors c) a complex set of taxes and regulations governing cross-border trade.  If we assumed in theory that a complex, perfect set of rules could level the field, correcting unfairness related to labor laws, pollution and other differences between the countries, I would still argue that our bumbling bureacracy could not and would not find that mix of policies.  Instead they would over-tax, over-regulate, and make things worse.  Case in point would be the income tax.  In theory it's a great way to raise the small amount of money that the federal government actually needs to carry out its constitutional functions and not place an excessive burden on anyone.  But it grew into a 13,000 page formula that puts an anchor on our economy and raises more money than all of the states and localities combined.  So now we (partially) fund a thousand and fifty separate federal social spending programs that were never envisioned by the founders, taxing us just because they can.  No, IMO the regulators, taxers and bureaucrats are not capable of taking an imperfect playing field and applying just the right mix of taxes and regulations.  It's even worse in trade policy because over-taxation and over-regulation cause retaliation from the other side and vice versa.

Slave labor exists in China and real, personal liberties are absent in China, but much of China has economic liberties and in some areas they have more economic liberty than here including lower tax rates for example.  Opening trade with China has not led to the overthrow of the oppressors, while the opposite policy with Cuba and North Korea has also not led to the overthrow of their oppressors.  So the policy choice IMO becomes based on what gives us the most influence in that direction and what benefits the people of each country the most.

Mexico is another unique example and their economy continues to be dysfunctional.  During the negotiations for NAFTA, it was debated whether they benefit more than us, but they were phasing out high tariffs and we were phasing out low tariffs.  My view is that anything that helps build wealth and industry in Mexico short of stealing from us is in our own best interest. 

If I recall correctly, NAFTA as a printed document was a foot thick.  If I wrote a free trade agreement it would fit on a cocktail napkin.  We don't have an all-other-things-held-constant economy to compare, but I think the phaseout of tariffs had a slight net-positive impact on both economies.  Mexico still lacks enough wealth to demand US goods and that hurts us as well as them.

For every example of jobs or services going to foreigners, there is a story of business won around the globe for the Americans.  Strangely, the more jobs we lose, the more jobs and income we grow in total.  Trade is all about specialization and utilizing comparative advantage.  America is the best at many things, but not at low-skill, high-labor content manufacturing.

Quoting: "Bush made a visit to India, he gave away nuclear technology to that country"... "And let us not forget the fact that just because we are allied with someone today does not mean we will be friendly with them tomorrow.  Iraq and Afghanistan come to mind."   - In the first part, I think that's true.  India has a complex relationship with key nations in the world. For example, we are cooperating with their enemy Pakistan.  They are fighting our common enemy, al Qaida.  Their consumers are competing with us to buy oil in the global market, and they have flirtations and issues with our strategic competitors of China and Russia.  I don't know why we would give them anything free, but getting more energy around the world to come from nuclear sources is good in certain ways, such as replacing the use of fossil fuels and lessening dependency and currency flow to bad places like Iran.  Our being there is a way to try to keep the nuclear technology from going toward weaponry.  Also I imagine that most nuclear energy technology relates to the safety systems.  It is certainly in everyone's interest to have their nuclear plants built to US standards and not in the mold of the Soviet's Chernobyl.  Past cooperations with Iraq and Afghanistan had to do with (IMO) a past policy of containment of the Soviet Union, which turned out to be an amazing accomplishment.

"China owns a large majority our national debt."   - True, I believe, but not all bad.  Our debt should be smaller and our deficit should be gone, but the main cause is excessive federal spending and the main solution is to stop doing that.   Tradewise, we enjoy the purchasing power benefit from low cost goods and we enjoy a capital infusion benefit while they hold our paper.  As a potential enemy, China could conceivably bring down the dollar or the US economy.  The other side of the same coin is that our paper is their largest holding.  They lack enough diversity in their investments.  Why would they collapse our dollar or our economy as that would most certainly collapse theirs.  Even a point of inflation or a devaluation of the dollar brings down the value of their investment.  In other words, their interests just keep getting more closely tied to ours because of an open trade relationship.

Yes, we see more transactions around the world turning to the Euro.  We have been spoiled for quite some time having the only real world currency.  Yes, the nations of Europe traded away some sovereignty to elevate the EU and I think many are questioning that today.  But rather than compare European integration with the US and Mexico, I would compare it with Indiana's relationship with Ohio and Minnesota's relationship with Wisconsin.  For 200+ years we have had easy trade across our internal borders, whereas in Europe, if you reach out the same distance you have crossed several borders.  The language changes, the telecom standards were different, the currencies were different, postage, you name it.  They might not even drive on the same side of the road.   Here we can hop on the interstate or send a box with UPS and not give it a thought.  IMO Europe is trying to match what we already have rather than leading the world in a new direction. The Euro has had a successful launch.  In the long run maybe it is good for the US to have a worthy competitor for currency.  The European economy, OTOH, has underperformed and their slack is hurting our exports.
5770  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Proposed mex-us-can currency called Amero on: May 14, 2007, 12:12:14 PM
Interesting post, thanks for bringing up a number of issues for discussion.  In general, I am pro-free-trade both for economic growth, but also I believe the right to buy and sell goods and services is a basic economic liberty.  Reasonable exceptions for me are fine and would include national security concerns or preventing support for slave labor, etc.

If you believe as I do that the USA is the greatest nation on earth, then by definition all trading partner nations are flawed to some extent, even worse than us.  We still should allow transactions between consenting adults unless harm is caused, like selling technology to enemies, etc.

Be careful with labels.  Globalization in terms of economics is a fact and I think beneficial.  Loss of sovereignty is another matter.  Weve lost enough control over self government to Washington from the states and local jurisdictions and should not give any conrol over our nation to international bodies.

I think the federal reserve is a system that has performed well at least since the stagflation of the 1970s.  I dislike certain players and disagree with certain moves of the Fed, but the overall record has generally been good IMO.  I favor a single currency for the nations of North America called the US Dollar. That choice belongs to the others.  Economies of the Far East have done very well tying their currency to the dollar.  Canada has its pride and Mexico is not even an ally of the US right now, so other than cross border trade and wanting them to solve their own problems, I wouldn't tie our nations together any closer.

"A world currency and a 'new economic order' are also part of the elites plans for global governance." - Again, I think a distinction can easily be made between allowing global trade and losing national sovereignty.  Yes there are elites who envision global governance and they are already starting by proposing global regulations and 'global' taxes (on the 'rich').  They should be opposed aggressively at every turn.  A better strategy is the so-called association of democracies where we could make voluntary agreements and cooperations with countries that maintain certain minimal levels of human liberty and decency.

5771  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: May 08, 2007, 11:38:42 PM
McCain is my least favorite of the leading Republicans running, but I'm posting this piece anyway written by Tim Pawlenty, Governor of Minnesota, posted at the  candidates forum.  Pawlenty is co-chair of the McCain campaign and making his attempt to explain to conservatives why he supports McCain.  The posts that follow Pawlenty at that forum seem to focus on disapproval with a) McCain Feingold, b) gang of 14, and c) immigration.  I would add that he was a huge opponent of tax rate cuts, though his view has changed somewhat since.   - DM
Conservative Case for McCain   by Gov.Tim Pawlenty (R-MN)

"The 2008 Presidential election presents the Republican Party with a new opportunity to chart its future. For the first time in decades, a sitting president or vice president will not be a candidate to lead our country.

How will Republicans respond to this challenge?  Hopefully, by selecting a strong, tested national leader of uncommon courage.

History has shown that Americans elect their president based on the times and the challenges confronting our nation.  America is being tested in momentous ways, both domestically and internationally.

The times are calling out one of the finest public leaders in the modern history of our country – John McCain.  Like Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan, he powerfully expresses conservative principles in a common sense way.  John McCain’s unwavering courage, candor, character, and demonstrated willingness to take visionary risks to do what is right are all in the tradition of these great Republicans.

The next president will need all of these attributes and more in confronting the challenges we face both at home and abroad.

The pressure from the left to give up on Iraq will be immense.  We need a president whose life is a testament to fortitude under fire and courage in the face of challenges.  John McCain is a living example of such experience and leadership.

We need John McCain to keep America safe and strong.  Under President McCain, America will never surrender to the threats of extremists.

That same toughness will be required in addressing key issues at home.  The Republican Party spent twelve years in control of Congress, yet failed to curtail run-away spending.  For more than 20 years John McCain has been an unwavering voice on behalf of hardworking, taxpaying Americans.  He has been a lonely voice for spending restraint in the nation’s capitol and the leading advocate for “earmark reform.”

We also face an impending crisis in Social Security and Medicare.  As recent history has clearly illustrated, solving these issues will require almost unending political will.  Senator McCain’s record makes it clear he’s not afraid to tackle these challenges.

And you wouldn’t know it by listening to the mainstream media, but John McCain has been rock-solid on critical moral issues.  He campaigned hard for Arizona’s amendment to protect traditional marriage and has been consistently pro-life throughout his career.

It is often said that the best sermons are lived, not preached. Newsweek once wrote, “McCain’s character has withstood tests the average politician can only imagine … He may be the last of his kind.” I hope you will join me in supporting him."
5772  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: May 08, 2007, 03:55:28 PM
I am closer to Newt than any of the others on the issues.  He loves to say "This is not about Newt Gingrich."  Once he enters the race it is about him and he has high negatives, plenty of enemies and very little crossover appeal IMO.  The 1994 Republican takeover of congress was amazing.  They had some great accomplishments in the majority such as capital gains rate cuts and  welfare reform, while constrained by an opposing president.  Other important things never got done such as reforming the budget process and rules.  Tax cuts are still limited by false forecasting methods that were never ended at CBO.

Unfair as it is, I think Giuliani or even McCain might get a pass on past marital issues where Newt will forever be punished, mostly because of the timing of his in relation to the Clinton impeachment (which wasn't even about infidelity).

CD wrote: "...stupidities of McCain-Feingold Act (Shame on McCain and the US Supreme Court!"  - Agree wholeheartedly!  The name alone is a clue, partnering with Feingold on campaign rules or Kennedy on education policy is a sign you are headed in the wrong direction from my point of view.  Shame on Bush for signing this when he already made clear that he saw everything flawed in it. 

I wish those in politics or on the court who don't like the constitution would go through the process of amending it rather than arbitrarily declaring which rights and provisions we have outgrown and are no longer operative.

5773  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Legal issues on: May 05, 2007, 12:04:19 AM
Thanks for posting.  The act is called:"Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Terrorists Act of 2007".  - I'll keep an open mind to arguments otherwise, but my first reaction is that denying firearms and explosives to dangerous terrorists is a good idea (obviously), that the word "arbitrary" would mean the denial could be done without revealing sources and methods, and that the criteria would not require legal threshholds such as preponderance of the evidence, that would also require disclosure.  The Attorney General hopefully has good motives, and some oversight: congress, the President and the next election.  I think I'm as big a liberty fanatic as anyone, but I recognize that a serious enemy wants to cause serious carnage here. 

Like the FISA/surveillance issue, in the best case a tragedy is averted.  In the worst case an innocent person has accidental contact or communication with an offshoot or a contact of an alleged terrorist organization and might find that communications looked at or in this case that someone from Washington is blocking their ability to buy a firearm or or to buy expolsives.  I strongly support the "shall issue" wording of concealed carry permit laws, but see this an exception, as you should have with a felon, a psycho or 'an arbitrary block' signed by the Attorney General of the United states.  I don't don't see that as the end of second amendment rights.
A friend of mine owns a quarry of very hard rock that is broken form the ground with explosives.  He was questioned after the Oklahoma City bombing about whether anyone had ever approached him for explosives.  Post 9/11 and in the context of suicide bombers that can't be deterred with death penalty or any other law enforcement after the fact, I would hope that preventive policies are in place and from my point of view that their hands are not tied.
Meanwhile, here in the west suburbs of Minneapolis I received from law enforcement today a registered letter threatening serious legal consequences against me because my tenant has a vehicle in his private driveway with a sticker that is no longer current.  I guess I'd rather have them hunting terrorists.

5774  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Legal issues on: May 03, 2007, 12:09:01 PM
Crafty made the following comment as part of a preface to an editorial on a current homeland security proposal:

"... but a President who chose and stands by an Attorney General who doesn't belive that habeas corpus is a Constitutional right has credibility problems of his own too."

Crafty, can you expand on what you meant.  I searched and found what you are likely referring to - the following exchange between Gonzales and Sen. Specter in a committee meeting this January:

Gonzales: There is no express grant of habeas in the Constitution. There's a prohibition against taking it away. ...

Specter: Wait a minute. Wait a minute. The Constitution says you can't take it away except in cases of rebellion or invasion. Doesn't that mean you have the right of habeas corpus unless there's an invasion or rebellion?

Gonzales: I meant by that comment, the Constitution doesn't say every individual in the United States or every citizen is hereby granted or assured the right to habeas. Doesn't say that. It simply says the right of habeas corpus shall not be suspended except...

Specter: You may be treading on your interdiction and violating common sense, Mr. Attorney General.


I'm not an attorney, but wondered if Gonzales was making a correct technical point while creating a public relations blunder, or is there a real difference in views here.

In the US Constitution under the heading of 'Limits on Congress'  I see the only reference: "The privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it."

To the untrained eye, it would seem that a) the right of habeus, to not be detained long without charges filed, is presumed in the constitution, b) the limit placed is on Congress and not on the Commander in Chief in wartime, and c) the context of the threat of terrorism against public safety at this moment in time might persuasively be argued to comprise a "Rebellion or Invasion".

Presuming a right by reading the limits placed on it in the constitution didn't cut it in the (faulty) Kelo decision allowing taking of private property to give/sell to other private concerns.   I think it was the Justice Thomas dissent that pointed out the irony and tragedy that they couldn't have even entered or searched without permission or a warrant and they couldn't have gotten a warrant without probable cause, yet the majority ruled that they could take title and demolish it.  I wouldn't want to bet my life on presumed rights under activist judges.

Look forward to reading the thoughts of others on this.

5775  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: WW3 on: May 03, 2007, 12:04:08 AM
Regarding the VDH piece just posted.  That is a great read from start to finish IMO.  Looking past the question of Baghdad, wouldn't it be nice if we tried this strategy toward world peace:

"Let Brazil export duty-free ethanol; drill in Anwar and off our coasts; build 20 or so nuclear reactors to replace natural gas and power batteries at night of small commuter cars; up the fleet average gas mileage; develop oil tar and oil shale; use alternative energies—and do all that inclusively rather than in an either/or strategy, and we can collapse the world price, and with it the strategic importance of this dangerous, dysfunctional, and ultimately irrelevant part of the world."

Considering the trillion dollars and thousands of lives going into war right now, isn't it amazing that we can't even agree on taking these simple steps to empower ourselves and depower the thugs of that region.
5776  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Virginia Tech Shooting... on: April 20, 2007, 12:43:26 AM
This personal account is from an Oakland Univ. Prof in Michigan.  I find it analogous to the advance concerns about Cho and to illustrate CCP's comment about not know which sociopaths will be dangerous and which just have strange behaviors.

Op-Ed Contributor (NY Times)
The Killer in the Lecture Hall

Published: April 19, 2007

Rochester, Mich.

THE sticky note on my door was wiggling. It was a gift from a student.

Glued to the middle of it was a cockroach.

Don’t get me wrong. It wasn’t that I was an unpopular professor. To the contrary — according to student evaluations, I might as well have had a sign on my forehead that said “Kindly.”

I was told later that the cockroach was a symbol of love from — well, let’s call him Rick. Rick had recently moved into the lab across the hall from my office, where he spent the night in a sleeping bag under one of the benches.

Rick, who had been a student for more than a decade, sometimes whiled away his time discussing guns and explosives with some of the more munitions-inclined faculty members. He admitted that he kept his basement stocked with a variety of “armaments.”

Sometimes I wished I had an armament, although, like Virginia Tech, my university does not allow firearms on campus. I wished that because, not only did Rick attach love-cockroaches to my door and live across the hall from my office and possess a small armory, but Rick watched me all the time. Sometimes he followed me out to my car — just to make sure I was safe.

When I complained about Rick to the dean of students, I was told there was nothing to be done — after all, “students have rights, too.” Only after appealing to that dean’s boss and calling a raft of fellow professors who had also come to fear Rick’s strange behavior was I able to convince the administration to take grudging action; they restricted his ability to loiter in certain areas and began nudging him toward the classes he needed to graduate.

In a strange way, I could see the administration’s point. Rick looked fairly ordinary, at least when away from his sleeping bag and pet cockroaches. It must have seemed far more likely that Rick could sue for being thrown out of school, than that I — or anyone else — could ever be hurt. The easiest path, from their perspective, was to simply get me to shut up.

Many professors have run across more than their share of Ricks. At least one Virginia Tech professor noticed that Cho Seung-Hui, who killed 32 people on campus on Monday, was potentially dangerous and did her best to warn the administration and the police. (So did at least two female students.) But there is only so much a teacher can do — “students have rights, too.”

It’s a simple fact that, for every deranged murderer like Mr. Cho there are thousands more oddballs just below the breaking point. I know one quasi-psychopathic incompetent, for example, who remained on the campus payroll for over a dozen years simply because his supervisor was afraid of being killed if he was fired.

It’s long been in fashion to believe that people are innately good, and that upbringing and environment are responsible for nasty personalities. But research is beginning to show that mean, sometimes outright evil behavior has a strong genetic component. Some of us, in other words, are truly born bad.

Researchers at King’s College London have recently determined that if one identical twin shows psychopathic traits, the other twin, who coincidentally shares precisely the same set of genes, has a very high probability of having the same psychopathic traits. But among fraternal twins, who share only half their genes, the chance that both twins will show psychopathic traits is far smaller. In other words, there is something suspiciously psychopath-inducing in some people’s genes.

What could it be? Medical images of the brain give tantalizing clues — the amygdala, the “fight or flight” decision-making center of the brain, may be smaller than usual, or some areas of the brain may glow only dimly because of low serotonin levels. We may not know precisely what set Mr. Cho off, but we are beginning to home in on the unusual differences in certain neurochemistries that can make people act in bizarre and dysfunctional ways.

Still, the Virginia Tech shootings have already led to calls for all sorts of changes: gun control, more mental health coverage, stricter behavior rules on campuses. Yes, in a perfect world, there would be no guns, no mental illness and no Cho Seung-Huis. But the world is very imperfect. Consider that Britain’s national experiment with gun-free living is proving to be a disaster, with violent and gun crime rates soaring.

In other words, most of the broad social “lessons” we are being told we must learn from the Virginia Tech shootings have little to do with what allowed the horrors to occur. This is about evil, and about how our universities are able to deal with it as a literary subject but not as a fact of life. Can administrators and deans really continue to leave professors and other college personnel to deal with deeply disturbed students on their own, with only pencils in their defense?

Barbara Oakley, a professor of engineering at Oakland University, is the author of the forthcoming “Evil Genes: Why Rome Fell, Hitler Rose, Enron Failed and My Sister Stole My Mother’s Boyfriend.”
5777  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: April 19, 2007, 11:29:02 PM
Dick Morris makes a good headsup about the potential for crossover vote to swing the primaries on one side or the other, but I wouldn't predict that the either race will be decided that early or that a crossover would be effective.  I think both sides will be contested.  I'd rank myself as very high on the dislike-Hillary scale, and I can't imagine risking a crossover and adding momentum to a Obama or Edwards campaign when both are to the left of Hillary on paper.

If the Democratic race wraps up early, moderate Dems might crossover to vote for the moderate R, but that would be a sign that they would also support him in the general election.   Extreme leftists could try to help the weaker Republican.  But all the R candidates seem to be pro-war which is not moderate in these times, and trying to pick the other side's weakest candidate is a losing proposition.

So it's independents that hold the balance as they so often do.  Except for the war issue which could change in a year, Republican candidates seem to be positioned more to the center while the Democrats seem to be in a race to the left.

For the general election there is the possibility of a third party spoiler, depending on who feels unrepresenting when the nominations get resolved.
5778  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants on: April 10, 2007, 12:00:02 PM
GM, Thanks for that. I was hoping to draw out why you felt that way and I likewise agree with your points.  I see most of the failures coming from the cumbersome nature of this huge democracy with our limits on power and multiple viewpoints trying to exert itself.  The electorate can't fully support the mission when the leaders are sloppy and inconsistent in explaining it.  Authorization of congress for the Iraq war would not have passed with bipartisan support without the promise to take it to the security council.  The approval of the security council would not have happened without framing the justification in terms of WMD and violations of the UN's previous resolutions.  The Iraq mission would not have bogged down so badly had we not given Saddam months and months and months to clean up weapons sites and prepare for an insurgency that would outlive him andif the enemy didn't know that support erodes with every American they kill.  The Syrians and Iranians cannot seriously feel militarily threatened by America when they see the quagmire in Iraq, the disapproval polls, and the anti-war momentum broadcasted continuously.  In the face of all that I guess I have even more admiration for the resolve of the leaders of this effort, though again, not their ability to communicate.  I think the above explains why Pakistan, Syria and Iran no longer feel heat from the promise that "either you are with us or you are against us".

I agree whole heatedly with your point about borders. National security is the reason IMO to support borders enforcement as tight as you so graphically describe. lol.  I am pro-free-trade, pro-legal-immigration and pro-guest-worker etc, but only in the context that America chooses and controls the numbers and needs that we fill with approvals for legal entry.  How can we possibly invest so much in security - hundreds of billions or trillions(?) of dollars, lose our right to walk from the ticket counter onto an airplane etc, and then have no idea who, why, where from, or how many people are entering our country???  Up here (MN) we joke about those pesky Canadians procuring our medical services and infiltrating our hockey games.  Other places they may complain about Mexicans.  But when we allow an illegal industry to flourish to the point of becoming organized crime, how can we not think we are also welcoming the next wave of terrorists?

Border politics, they say, is tricky.  You can't risk offending today's Hispanic-Americans or future voters who my be legalized along the way.  To me, an Hispanic American citizen is one of us,  not a minority.  I find it condescending to think people of certain origin cannot see a connection between border control and national security.  (Comments welcome)

5779  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants on: April 10, 2007, 01:21:52 AM
GM, interesting comments.

 "dems (with a few exceptions) think the global jihad is just some neocon conspiracy..."

It is true that the vocal left put more energy into blaming Bush etc. than blaming the enemy for our troubles.  They also pretend that nothing was the matter in Iraq before 'we' went in and messed it up.  There was a Hillary parody on Saturday Night Live illustrating that everyone knows and accepts that all these statements and positions on Iraq and the so-called war on terror are just what is necessary to win power.  It's is doubtful that these wroters oppose her, so I take their underlying message to be that everyone understands the silly anti-war and anti-American-power rhetoric is just saying what is necessary to get nominated and elected. The same people would expect that she or others would be thoughtful and responsible leaders AFTER being elected.  In other words, getting to power is more important than fighting the enemy only because they are out of power.  If they were in power they would fight the enemy.  That theory is tested with the changeover of power in congress.  As a party, Dems have the possibility to vote for an immediate end to all funding of the hostilities they allegedly oppose.  But as they get closer to power they back off of their own rhetoric.  Through Google news I found evidence from our favorite source - world socialist web site: "

In a declaration of support for an extended and open-ended US occupation of Iraq, two leading Democratic senators (Carl Levin, Chuck Schumer) told national television audiences Sunday that under no circumstances would the Democratic congressional majority cut off funding for the war."


Meanwhile on the other side:  "The republicans are fighting a half-assed war against the global jihad"

My first reaction:  I think the Republican problem has been more about inability to communicate rather than lack of resolve or action.  My God, they formed a coalition and took down the Taliban almost instantly after 9/11.  They killed, captured and interragated terrorists as fast and aggressively as possible up to the point of drawing heavy criticism from all directions and are still doing it.  They largely shut down the financial networks that suported terror.  They took down Saddam Hussein including the cumbersome hurdles of securing  congressional and UN security council approvals.  We have the  Patriot Act and the surveillance program and whatever other protection and enforcement programs we don't even know about. 

Saddam was cowering in a rat hole while the Americans marched freely above.  The central, former leadership of al Qaida can't so much as use a telephone to make a call, and Iran is right now isolated from its last protectors on the security council.

Critics ask the question: WHERE is Osama hding?  I see the more telling questions: Where is Saddam now and WHY is Osama hiding???

I share your frustration, but I wouldn't characterize the efforts as half assed.  JMHO.

5780  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants on: April 09, 2007, 04:39:10 PM
My opinion is that the labels ARE helpful even when exceptions are available.  Pelosi is the highest ranking Democrat.  Can't we just all talk and get along is a philosophy from her side of the aisle - primarily.  Bush, not these few congressmen, was chosen to represent his side of the aisle to run for Pres and lead foreign policy if elected.  The Bush policy for the most part seeks to avoid adding stature to thugs like Assad and Ahmedinajad and for the most part I agree.

In hindsight(IMO), the valid correction - that a few R's were included and the fact that labels don't tell the whole story - could have been added to the discussion without blame for omission.  FWIW, I have seen CCP dish out plenty of criticisms at either side of the aisle at his own choosing.
5781  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Environmental issues on: April 09, 2007, 01:31:14 PM
Prof. Richard Lindzen of MIT wrote this for the upcoming Newsweek issue.  Comments and criticisms on the science and data he references are encouraged.  I've read and posted his work previously.  My observation with this is that it seems mainstream news organizations (NY Times recently, now Newsweek) are suddenly scrambling to publish alternative views as the previous overselling is becoming more obvious.  I find it humorous that he now discloses his funding in his credentials as that has been the only previous criticism I have seen of his work.

Why So Gloomy?

By Richard S. Lindzen
Newsweek International

April 16, 2007 issue - Judging from the media in recent months, the debate over global warming is now over. There has been a net warming of the earth over the last century and a half, and our greenhouse gas emissions are contributing at some level. Both of these statements are almost certainly true. What of it? Recently many people have said that the earth is facing a crisis requiring urgent action. This statement has nothing to do with science. There is no compelling evidence that the warming trend we've seen will amount to anything close to catastrophe. What most commentators—and many scientists—seem to miss is that the only thing we can say with certainly about climate is that it changes. The earth is always warming or cooling by as much as a few tenths of a degree a year; periods of constant average temperatures are rare. Looking back on the earth's climate history, it's apparent that there's no such thing as an optimal temperature—a climate at which everything is just right. The current alarm rests on the false assumption not only that we live in a perfect world, temperaturewise, but also that our warming forecasts for the year 2040 are somehow more reliable than the weatherman's forecast for next week.
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A warmer climate could prove to be more beneficial than the one we have now. Much of the alarm over climate change is based on ignorance of what is normal for weather and climate. There is no evidence, for instance, that extreme weather events are increasing in any systematic way, according to scientists at the U.S. National Hurricane Center, the World Meteorological Organization and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (which released the second part of this year's report earlier this month). Indeed, meteorological theory holds that, outside the tropics, weather in a warming world should be less variable, which might be a good thing.

In many other respects, the ill effects of warming are overblown. Sea levels, for example, have been increasing since the end of the last ice age. When you look at recent centuries in perspective, ignoring short-term fluctuations, the rate of sea-level rise has been relatively uniform (less than a couple of millimeters a year). There's even some evidence that the rate was higher in the first half of the twentieth century than in the second half. Overall, the risk of sea-level rise from global warming is less at almost any given location than that from other causes, such as tectonic motions of the earth's surface.

Many of the most alarming studies rely on long-range predictions using inherently untrustworthy climate models, similar to those that cannot accurately forecast the weather a week from now. Interpretations of these studies rarely consider that the impact of carbon on temperature goes down—not up—the more carbon accumulates in the atmosphere. Even if emissions were the sole cause of the recent temperature rise—a dubious proposition—future increases wouldn't be as steep as the climb in emissions.

Indeed, one overlooked mystery is why temperatures are not already higher. Various models predict that a doubling of CO2 in the atmosphere will raise the world's average temperature by as little as 1.5 degrees Celsius or as much as 4.5 degrees. The important thing about doubled CO2 (or any other greenhouse gas) is its "forcing"—its contribution to warming. At present, the greenhouse forcing is already about three-quarters of what one would get from a doubling of CO2. But average temperatures rose only about 0.6 degrees since the beginning of the industrial era, and the change hasn't been uniform—warming has largely occurred during the periods from 1919 to 1940 and from 1976 to 1998, with cooling in between. Researchers have been unable to explain this discrepancy.

Modelers claim to have simulated the warming and cooling that occurred before 1976 by choosing among various guesses as to what effect poorly observed volcanoes and unmeasured output from the sun have had. These factors, they claim, don't explain the warming of about 0.4 degrees C between 1976 and 1998. Climate modelers assume the cause must be greenhouse-gas emissions because they have no other explanation. This is a poor substitute for evidence, and simulation hardly constitutes explanation. Ten years ago climate modelers also couldn't account for the warming that occurred from about 1050 to 1300. They tried to expunge the medieval warm period from the observational record—an effort that is now generally discredited. The models have also severely underestimated short-term variability El Niño and the Intraseasonal Oscillation. Such phenomena illustrate the ability of the complex and turbulent climate system to vary significantly with no external cause whatever, and to do so over many years, even centuries.

Is there any point in pretending that CO2 increases will be catastrophic? Or could they be modest and on balance beneficial? India has warmed during the second half of the 20th century, and agricultural output has increased greatly. Infectious diseases like malaria are a matter not so much of temperature as poverty and public-health policies (like eliminating DDT). Exposure to cold is generally found to be both more dangerous and less comfortable.

Moreover, actions taken thus far to reduce emissions have already had negative consequences without improving our ability to adapt to climate change. An emphasis on ethanol, for instance, has led to angry protests against corn-price increases in Mexico, and forest clearing and habitat destruction in Southeast Asia. Carbon caps are likely to lead to increased prices, as well as corruption associated with permit trading. (Enron was a leading lobbyist for Kyoto because it had hoped to capitalize on emissions trading.) The alleged solutions have more potential for catastrophe than the putative problem. The conclusion of the late climate scientist Roger Revelle—Al Gore's supposed mentor—is worth pondering: the evidence for global warming thus far doesn't warrant any action unless it is justifiable on grounds that have nothing to do with climate.

Lindzen is the Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Meteorology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His research has always been funded exclusively by the U.S. government. He receives no funding from any energy companies.
© 2007 Newsweek, Inc.

5782  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: March 29, 2007, 02:32:09 PM
Crafty, I agree with you on Rudy. Wrong to my taste on too many issues to support him in the primaries, but I will certainly join up if/when he secures the endorsement.  I also oppose gun control, but if I favored it and was President, I hope I would be principled enough to propose amending rather than stomping on the constitution.  Rudy has talked the talk on strict constructionist judicial appointments, but that contradicts his own position on gun control and on a mother's right to choose. 

Back to tax issues, in the 2000 campaign John McCain opposed candidate Bush's tax cut proposal.  Now McCain says make most of them permanent and Rudy sounds like he may go further into cutting and simplifying. And those are the moderates (RINOs). That is a step forward IMO. Still, McCain is feuding with Club for Growth (who I recently joined) over his previous anti tax cut votes.  It is not just the 'no' votes, but the rhetoric that helps gives credibility and cover to the left.  Specifically, McCain words and votes were cited often by the Dem here in our most recent senate race to demonstrate that she wasn't some extreme leftist.

Club for Growth Calls on McCain to Apologize for Tax Votes

Washington - The Club for Growth called on Senator McCain to renounce his 2001 and 2003 votes against the Bush tax cuts and apologize for his vocal class-warfare-laced opposition to them.

In 2001, Senator McCain was 1 of only 2 Republicans to oppose the Bush tax cuts (Roll Call #170, 05/26/01) and 1 of only 3 Republicans in 2003 (Roll Call #196, 05/23/03).  He even went so far as to adopt the class-warfare rhetoric of the Senate’s most liberal Democrats, arguing in a 2003 Face the Nation interview that “the reason why I opposed the last round was because the—what I felt was a disproportionate favoring of the wealthiest 1 percent, 10 percent of Americans.  If that's continued, obviously, then I wouldn't support that.”
5783  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: March 29, 2007, 01:46:10 AM
Checking in here with two items:

1) Rumor that Steve Forbes is joining the Rudy Giuliani campaign at a high level policy position, per 'Pajamasa Media'; the news story so far is just that Forbes is endorsing Giuliani:

Forbes advising Giuliani is great news from my point of view.  In previous campaigns I found Steve Forbes to be my best choice on policy positions but not charismatic enough to carry the message or win the votes.  Giuliani isn't my first choice candidate, but as things sit today, he has the best chance of winning the nomination and getting elected.  He needs the best advisors possible to help nail down the specifics of his proposals and to successfully frame the arguments.  Steve Forbes on tax policy makes sense IMO--

2) I recommend a long piece this week from the Chicago Tribune on Ill. Sen. Barack Obama:,0,445780.story,1,605874.story?coll=chi-newsnationworld-hed,1,605874.story?page=2&coll=chi-newsnationworld-hed&ctrack=1&cset=true
 They pursue the angle that his real story isn't exactly as he wrote in his books.  I would read these just from the point of just getting to know one of the key players entering the national stage.
5784  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race - Hillary Foreclosure-Timeout on: March 28, 2007, 01:32:18 AM
Hillary in the news - today's talking point was 'universal healthcare'.  I'm sure we'll get to that in the campaign.  First I want to criticize her proposal from last week for a "Foreclosure-Timeout" in response to the trouble in the housing market.  I read it first in 'The Economist' but here is a short version from NPR Morning Edition:

Democratic Hopefuls Weigh In on Subprime Loans

Morning Edition, March 16, 2007 · "With foreclosure rates at their highest level in four decades, Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York is calling for a "foreclosure timeout." Another Democratic presidential hopeful — Sen. Christopher Dodd of Connecticut, the Senate Banking Committee chairman — says he will hold hearings on the subprime crisis. In recent weeks at least 20 companies who specialize in high-risk mortgages have gone bust."

Let's walk through this.  A customer with a credit issue or low down payment, who would not qualify for the lowest risk - lowest interest rate mortgage, is able to buy a house they otherwise couldn't, by paying a premium on the interest rate to compensate the mortgage company for the higher risk.  It's a highly regulated business and the transaction is all legal.  The mortgage company pays out let's say $189,900 for the customer to buy the house in exchange for the right to receive scheduled payments and take the first position lien on the house for collateral.  Now let's say the customer with the higher risk defaults on his payments.  That happens; he did have a credit problem and/or insufficient savings. The mortgagecompany is powerless except to follow the contractual and highly regulated processs of mitigating its loss with a foreclosure and take back the property to re-sell.  During the long process they receive no further payments as the loan in in default.  The process takes some 6 months to a year(?) while the mortgage company has no right of possession, receives no money and keeps incurring costs.  Now enter new President Hillary who says they can't even do that.  She declares a 'foreclosure timeout'.  The customer stays in the house.  Payments in default don't need to be made.  The mortgage is prevented fom exercizing its right under the contract and under the law.

It reminds me of the Nixon Price Wage freeze of 1971.  So, the crisis includes lenders going broke and her answer is a foreclosure-timeout.  I don't know if these people hate capitalism or just don't understand it.  I can't say this stongly enough, but IMO, if you favor economic freedoms and the right to enter into binding, legal contracts - these policies are exactly the opposite.
5785  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Venezuela Pol?tica on: March 27, 2007, 09:52:56 AM
Quoting: "The Venezuelan government seized 16 ranches...comprising about 817,000 acres...any resistance to the expropriations will result in a forceful response from the government."

To me, that's outragious.  Taken with the previous story that Chavez passd up Iran and Pakistan as arms purchasers, it foretells danger and trouble ahead.  Like Saddam's slaughter of DuJaille or poisoning the Kurds, these takings are an act of force, not an economic policy. 

To the media and the public, this looks like a dog takes a nap story.  Takings are what they do.  How else would you have 'collective property'?  Like the politics of envy in the US, it is presented as fairness, populism and helping the poor or the workers.  Here is the AP story:

In my mind it illustrates perfectly the choices we all face.  Here it is usually just partial takings from the rich with our proclivity to accept and worsen the 'progressivity' in tax rates.  We limit marginal tax rates only based on an efficiency argument - that at some high rate, the productive will not produce and pay more tax.  We never seem to acknowlege the moral argument that coveting and taking your neighbor's riches is wrong.  Whether it is a dictator taking land by force or a majority of 51% of the people taxing the other 49% at a rate far higher than their own, IMO it completely fails to comply with a central principle of free people called consent of the governed.
5786  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Geo Political matters on: March 22, 2007, 11:57:29 PM
That was an extremely insightful analysis by Stratfor regarding Geopolitics and the U.S. Spoiling Attack.  Thanks for bringing us posts like that Crafty.  They certainly take a long view.  Agree or disagree, they offer insight and analysis that I don't find elsewhere.

I think they hit the Vietnam context right on the money.  From a US war point of view it was a failure.  From a south vietnamese view it was a failure.  There was unbelievable loss of life.  But it was a unique battle in a larger fight against global communist expansionism.  The losses hurt us but the struggles like Vietnam along the way slowed down the expansionism.  We gave up officially in the 1970s and the surrender was a failure.  Millions more died or fled.  But by the end of the 1980s China was capitalistic(somewhat) and the Soviet empire collapsed.  The efforts to oppose or slow down their expansion by the U.S. played a role.

The need to topple Saddam Hussein was intuitive and hard to put to words.  The official justifications were clumsy, such as the marketing focus on WMD and the 23 reasons contained in the congressional joint resolution authorizing use of military force in Iraq.  Those were symptoms or examples of the need, not true articulation of the problem or the solution. 

I think it was Rick Neaton on another board who explained it in simple terms I could understand.  We toppled Saddam as part of a policy aimed at of preventing something we call the next 9/11.  We were not prosecuting Iraq for their affiliation with al Qaida or retaliating for the 2001 attack which they did not plan or carry out.  We found and used justifications to stop a declared enemy from playing a part in the next attack on the US.  We were stopping, delaying or spoiling the possibility of a militant islamic superstate from getting a foothold and combining resources against their common enemy.

As I understand the Stratfor analysis, the result in Iraq, like Vietnam, might be ugly, but a few important things were accomplished.  The central enemy, a stateless force of al Qaida and miltant Islam, is not finding safety, sanctuary, financing or weapons for the next attack.  Meanwhile American forces happen to be trapped in the heart of the islamic world and the middle east, not just with our guns, but with our eyes, ears, cameras, listening devices and the miltants we capture for interrogation, calling lists etc. That is not all bad.  In the end and especially if and when America leave, a different balance of power will emerge and we will have had quite a large opportunity to impact with timing and force just how that new balance evolves.
5787  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: March 21, 2007, 11:49:47 PM
It's only 2 years until the election and I have held out long enough.  I made up my mind and Fred Thompson is my choice.  More after this comment on the last post:
GM: "I'd vote for Hillary before i'd vote for McCain."  - I don't know what to say to that except that I hope to vote for neither. 
Thompson gave his thoughts today on immigration and relations with Mexico:,pubID.25816/pub_detail.asp
Southern Exposure         
By Fred Thompson
Posted: Tuesday, March 20, 2007
National Review Online 
Publication Date: March 20, 2007

Editor's note: Click here to listen to the original radio commentary this transcript is based on.

We are all very well aware of the fact that we have an illegal-immigration problem in this country. As usual, we avoided the problem for as long as we could and when we couldn’t avoid it any longer we were told that, indeed, somewhere between 12 and 20 million people had somehow come into this country unnoticed.

It's like we went overnight from "no problem" to a problem so big that it now defies a good solution. It’s become one of those "there are no good choices only less bad choices" that Americans are becoming all too familiar with.

Hey guys, you're our friends and neighbors and we love you but it’s time you had a little dose of reality.

We know that the overwhelming majority of illegals come across the Mexican border. Fortunately, we’ve got someone who is all too willing to tell us what we should do about it--the president of Mexico Felipe Calderon.  President Calderon doesn’t think much of our border policies. He criticizes our efforts to secure the border with things such as border fencing. He says that bottle necks at U.S. checkpoints hurt Mexican commerce and force his citizens to migrate illegally in order to make a living (and of course send money back to Mexico). He apparently thinks we should do nothing except make American citizens out of his constituents. Calderon also accused U.S. officials of failing to do enough to stop the flow of drugs in to the United States. Mexican politicians gave President Bush an earful of all of this during his recent trip to Mexico.

I think its time for a little plain talk to the leaders of Mexico. Something like:

    Hey guys, you're our friends and neighbors and we love you but it’s time you had a little dose of reality. A sovereign nation loses that status if it cannot secure its own borders and we are going to do whatever is necessary to do so, although our policies won't be as harsh as yours are along your southern border. And criticizing the U.S. for alternately doing too much and too little to stop your illegal activities is not going to set too well with Americans of good will who are trying to figure a way out of the mess that your and our open borders policy has already created.

My friends, it’s also time for a little introspection. Since we all agree that improving Mexico’s economy will help with the illegal-immigration problem, you might want to consider your own left-of-center policies. For example, nationalized industries are not known for enhancing economic growth. Just a thought. But here’s something even more to the point that you might want to think about: What does it say about the leadership of a country when that country’s economy and politics are dependent upon the exportation of its own citizens?

Fred Thompson is a visiting fellow at AEI.

A couple other comments of mine on Thompson:

He was impressive handling the Chief Justice nomination of John Roberts through confirmation.  Right or wrong, he didn't hesitate or flinch when asked about pardoning Scooter Libby.

I heard him on the radio today where he called the leadership of the Justice Department "the B team" and described exacty how he would have unapologetically made the changes with the US Attorneys. 

Areas I've found so far where I disagree with him:  He favored campaign finance reform.  He opposes tort reform.  And he voted against removing Clinton from office.  I think he may have softened on campaign finance regulations.  I'm no expert on tort reform and politically he may have been right not to remove CLinton from office.  After all they were certainly known criminals before the ''92 and 96 election so maybe the voters deserved two full terms.

No one is another Reagan, but he may have exactly what it takes to stand next to Hillary in the debates and explain the merits of a conservative philosophy with 'plain talk', grace and humor.
5788  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Environmental issues on: March 18, 2007, 06:19:04 PM
From a discussion a few weeks ago:  Al Gore's 20x electric bill was revealed.  The question back (paraphrasing) - what does that have to do with the merits of the argument?  Answer: it was about hypocrisy, not the merits.

My two cents:  Yes there is hypocrisy which one could use to question character.  More importantly I think is it indicates he may not truly really believes his own story.

Let's say the US or 'Cally-fornia' for example makes a drastic, unilateral mandate to curtail economic activity, travel, production, etc.  In the big picture we are only setting an example for rest of the world, hoping they follow.  If the entire Kyoto group does it - likewise; they still exclude places like China, India, Brazil, Indonesia, etc.  If you include all countries, but still allow massive CO2 production at negotiated levels, you still only touch on real, planetary change.  In my view, the alarmists should be out front in setting the example and showing extreme sacrifices of lifestyle.  My anecdotal observation is that even hybrid owners are generally well above the median in terms of total fossil fuel use when jet travel and utilities for mantions is included.

Further, I think the so-called 'offsets' are bogus.  If they believe their own story, they should be doing both: the drastic personal sacrifices and buying and investing in all the offsets they can afford.

When leaders such as Al Gore have wasteful electrical usage and uncurtailed world jetting, when John Edwards clearcuts a forest to build a monument to himself, when John Kerry buys/owns a powerboat the size of my neighborhood, when Nancy Pelosi demands larger aircraft to carry more friends and avoid the inconvenience of refueling... yes it shows hypocrisy.  But I don't care much about their personal shortcomings.  More specifically it tells me they don't believe their own arguments and that their passion is feigned and opportunistic.  JMHO.

5789  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in America and the rest of the western hemisphere on: March 18, 2007, 03:13:01 PM
I don't know how or why the Twin Cities became the center of American Islamic issues - home of Zacarius Moussoui, Kieth Mohamed Ellison, cab drivers that won't drive customers with liquor, the Imams who undermine airport security - now we have another one, the cashiers who won't scan bacon at Target. 

Like the Imam-airport controversy, the cashiers seem to know to go after a 'Target' worth suing, not some single location locally owned corner grocery.  And Target happens to be headquartered here. 

The setup is that some Target stores now sell food. Muslims don't eat pork.  Common sense might tell you that if you don't want to be around one of the most common American meat products, don't work at a grocery store.  Target offered the cashiers who refuse to scan bacon a transfer within the store with no cut in pay.  I wonder if that ends the controversy. lol

Here is one commentator's take.  Joe Soucheray is St. Paul newspaper comumnist and local talk show personality where he is mayor of his mythical town of Garage Logic where the theme is common sense (conservatism) as compared with the alternative views in the neighboring towns of Liberal Lakes and Euphoria.

Quoting Soucheray:

"As long as the newspaper is asking for feedback, I might as well weigh in.

Actually, who might best weigh in is a spokesman for Muslims, which is part of the problem. There are many. As I understand it, there are many imams, just as there are many priests or rabbis. And while it is true that pork is forbidden in the diet, it is my understanding as well that there is no prohibition against touching pork.

That's problem No. 1. If there is no directive against touching pork, then why in the world is a Muslim cashier refusing to scan a package of bacon? And if he or she is practicing a tributary branch of the faith that prevents touching pork, then most of us have the same question we have about the cabdrivers. Why did you take a job where you might have to touch pork or be in the same car with a bottle of vacation rum?

Besides which, when you get a package of bacon home, you practically need a garden shears to open it. We spend billions of dollars a year in this country marketing and packaging products. Handle the package of bacon by the shrink-wrapped, double-sealed, triple-glazed hermetically encapsulated cardboard corner and slide it across the scanner. There. The price gets registered, and you haven't touched any pork.

Or, as ridiculous as we might wish to get, keep a pencil handy and poke or guide the bacon across the scanner.

This is America. We get inventive. And we get inventive in order to keep things moving along. That's the way we do business. Please join us.

That might touch at the heart of our shared frustration. We are basically a large blob of 300 million or so people who conduct our commerce in a secular fashion while practicing, pretty much in private, an astounding variety of religious obligations. Great. Worship grasshoppers for all I care, but when I am standing at the counter with a dollar in my hand, reach behind you and get me that O-ring I need for my lawnmower.

As wave after wave of immigrants arrived in, say, the Twin Cities, I can find no historical evidence that they demanded that America accommodate them. On the contrary, they assimilated, worked hard and benefited from America. I can find no historical evidence that other immigrant groups wished to have such a religious presence in the material marketplace, or, to put it another way, we have not previously been this expected to accommodate such a public component of one particular faith.

That's what stuck in the craws of most of us, and most of us are weary of being thought intolerant by the likes of newspapers."
--  - AP coverage of original story  - Soucheray column, St. Paul Pioneer Press  - the link and excerpt was from powerline
5790  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Environmental issues on: March 15, 2007, 11:40:44 AM
Crafty wrote: "What do you make of the global warming skeptics' assertion that Mars too is going through a warming phase?"

That observation came from NASA, not necessarily skeptics.  Hidden in my paragraph stating that we don't know humans are the whole or main cause of warming, I wrote:  "Other planets are also warming which indicates the main cause of all may be solar fluctuation."

Before the Mars data, I started noticing reports from other places, Venus, Jupiter, Pluto and Triton - Neptune's largest moon.  The conclusion I drew is that tempertures vary and planets have warming and cooling trends.  Venus has an intense greenhouse effect.  Triton may have just been in a portion of its orbit closer to the sun. Each is different. The Mars data will be very interesting to study. 

I accused the people I call alarmists of lazy science.  In Al Gore's case, he is deceitful for selectively including views and data friendly to his conclusions and excluding all others, then labeling all opposing views as fraud bought by industry.  I wouldn't want to follow that by reading a couple of headlines and simplistically concluding that all of this is about solar fluctuation.  My thought is that God's creations are far more complex than the understanding of these climate scientists and their flawed models will ever be.  (I'm not a climate scientist and know even less.)  - Jupiter  - Pluto  - Mars

5791  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security - imams on: March 15, 2007, 10:10:40 AM
An eerie development in the imams case here in Minneapolis.  The pretend terrorists trying to cripple airport security are suing the unidentified passengers for reporting the intentionally bizarre behavior.  Even if a jury gets this right, and we don't know that they will, some poor travelors are going to spend a lifetime of income into legal defense costs.

Source: Katheryn Kersten Mpls Strib column -
Excerpts and analysis from Powerline  (

March 15, 2007
Meet John Doe

Gary Cooper played John Doe in the Frank Capra's movie "Meet John Doe." It's a timely film about media manipulation driven by a sinister newspaper mogul with cynical political purposes. The media manipulation nevertheless takes on a life of its own in the flowering of the "John Doe Movement."

Many of us think that the case of the flyling imams begins with another case of media manipulation. In her Star Tribune column today, Katherine Kersten takes a look at the complaint they have filed against US Airways in Minnesota federal district court. Kathy discovers some John Doe defendants -- defendants whose identity plaintiffs do not know at present, but may later include in the lawsuit:

    the most alarming aspect of the imams' suit is buried in paragraph 21 of their complaint. It describes "John Doe" defendants whose identity the imams' attorneys are still investigating. It reads: "Defendants 'John Does' were passengers ... who contacted U.S. Airways to report the alleged 'suspicious' behavior of Plaintiffs' performing their prayer at the airport terminal."

    Paragraph 22 adds: "Plaintiffs will seek leave to amend this Complaint to allege true names, capacities, and circumstances supporting [these defendants'] liability ... at such time as Plaintiffs ascertain the same."

    In plain English, the imams plan to sue the "John Does," too.

    Who are these unnamed culprits? The complaint describes them as "an older couple who was sitting [near the imams] and purposely turn[ed] around to watch" as they prayed. "The gentleman ('John Doe') in the couple ... picked up his cellular phone and made a phone call while watching the Plaintiffs pray," then "moved to a corner" and "kept talking into his cellular phone."

    In retribution for this action, the unnamed couple probably will be dragged into court soon and face the prospect of hiring a lawyer, enduring hostile questioning and paying huge legal bills. The same fate could await other as-yet-unnamed passengers on the US Airways flight who came forward as witnesses.

    The imams' attempt to bully ordinary passengers marks an alarming new front in the war on airline security. Average folks, "John Does" like you and me, initially observed and reported the imams' suspicious behavior on Nov. 20. Such people are our "first responders" against terrorism. But the imams' suit may frighten such individuals into silence, as they seek to avoid the nightmare of being labeled bigots and named as defendants.

Unlike Frank Capra's John Doe, these John Does are the real deal. Like Capra's John Doe, however, they represent a genuine citizens' movement. If identified and added to the lawsuit, they may have a claim or two of their own to assert against the flying imams, or a movement to start.
5792  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Environmental issues on: March 14, 2007, 02:35:10 PM
Thanks for your view Marc. I agree that pollution in general is an external cost that escapes free market pricing and requires public policy action.  In some cases, the science is clear and alternatives are available, so a solution is possible.  For example, scrubbers on a clean coal electric plant are an acceptable cost and mandate, up to some reasonable point for capturing and cleaning emissions.  If dirty coal was the only way to make electricity and there are public benefits gained from the electricity, then some clever tax and cost transfer scheme might work.  But I think taxing and redistributing would be just as political and imperfect as the reasonable mandate ‘solution’.  The problem with pollution politics is the prevalence of junk science in both life sciences and economics.  If the sciece is real, and if mercury is truly harmful, and if it doesn't need to go into the stream, then the capitalist has no right to dump it in the stream.  Put me in with the regulators in that example - stop polluting or we will close you, fine you and jail you.  I wouldn't give them credits to buy and sell.  The opposite example involves the release of trace element levels of something that harms no one and has infinite costs to eliminate.  The earth has an amazing ability to filter and cleanse itself.

Global warming is different. CO2 is not a pollutant per se; it is an essential ingredient of life.  We are arguing over a vague concept of 'excess' CO2 produced by humans with no standard for what the right level is or should be.  We are also arguing over whether or not the science is settled.  Clearly it is not, IMO.  Public opinion polls might indicate otherwise depending on what has been printed in the newspaper lately.  That's why it was such a breakthrough for a balancing story to get published in the media where mainly bias is fit to print.

Some things we don't know in the science of global warming:

1) We don't know that the earth is warming at an alarming rate. Best information is that very slow warming is occurring with no acceleration in the rate.

2) We don’t know that the measured warming is wholly human caused or mainly human caused.  Fossil fuel combustion releases CO2, and measured CO2 levels have increased, but only lazy science can turn those facts into a perfect cause-effect relationship.  The alternative theory is that warmer air just holds more CO2 content and that most atmospheric CO2 originates from the oceans.  Other planets are also warming which indicates the main cause of all may be solar fluctuation.  Most puzzling to me is that if two O2 molecules are consumed for each CO2 produced in combustion and atmospheric CO2 increases are mainly attributed to combustion, why do atmospheric O2 levels show absolutely no depletion and even an insignificant increase?  That fact doesn't fit with the combustion-cause theory in my view.

3) We don’t know that human caused CO2 increases or minor human caused warming of the planet, if true, is harmful - over the blip in time of earth’s history that humans rely on fossil fuels for energy.  Certainly there would be offsetting benefits, enhanced plant growth and longer growing seasons and more parts of the globe becoming habitable, for examples.  The migration of the US population still reflects people moving from colder areas toward warmth rather than escaping the heat. 

4) I think most importantly is that we don’t know that the earth doesn’t have its own correcting forces that are far stronger than the misbehavior of humans.  Just taking examples from this thread, a rain and especially a hurricane convert the worst greenhouse offender – water vapor – out of the atmosphere into ground water, and higher CO2 levels enhance plant growth – which then consumes CO2 at an increased rate.  The history of warming and cooling cycles indicates (prooves?) that the earth possesses amazingly powerful, self-correcting forces. 

It is easy for me to conclude that the science is not settled, but OTOH impossible to prove that humans cause no warming, so the correct strategy becomes risk management, balancing and addressing the two main risks.  There is the risk that part of the alarmists’ outcomes will materialize on our current course - that man is messing dangerously with nature, and there is the risk that over-reacction and over-regulation will bring down our economy and civilization as we know it if no real harm is actually taking place. 

The answer is to take reasonable steps, mostly voluntary, while we learn and debate the science. 

The first step is to look at conservation by choice and ways to eliminate waste in energy use.  (Government's role could be to close down unnecessary government buildings, vehicles, travel and staffing.)

On the energy production side - with the technology we know today, I don’t see any alternative to being pro-nuclear if one is concerned with greenhouse gases.  What else has zero greenhouse gas emissions with an enormous energy output capability?  The main challenges are spent rod storage and being a target for terrorists.  We have safe storage techniques IMO, and today's radioactive waste is by definition a potential energy source for the future. As for the argument that nuclear plants are a target for terrorists - that is a fight that goes on and I favor getting serious and winning it.

5793  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Environmental issues on: March 13, 2007, 11:52:26 AM
Thanks Crafty for finding that story.  I have no idea why earth science is political, but it is. It's quite a breakthrough for that paper to publish a contrary view, though it took them almost a year.  I saw a headsup yesterday that a major hit piece on Al Gore's script was coming in the NY Times, then I didn't see the story. Silly me, I expected a story that changes the liklihood of survival on our planet and life as we know it to be center front page.  Turns out it was the 141st story listed on their website for 'today's paper'.   I am curious if any of my liberal friends who read the Times will notice this story and curious if you came across it while reading the paper or were referred to it by link from another source.
5794  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: March 10, 2007, 09:06:25 AM
I'm not exactly sure how the surrender resolution debate in Washington relates to Iraq, but I'll post this here anyway:

“There was the Biden resolution, then there was the Levin Resolution, then there was the Reid-Pelosi Resolution, the Murtha Plan, the Biden-Levin Resolution, the funding cut, the waiver plan, the Feingold Plan, an Obama Resolution, a Clinton Resolution, a Dodd Resolution, a Kennedy Resolution, a Feinstein Resolution, a Byrd Resolution, a Kerry Resolution, and today would make number 17."

  - Sen. Mitch McConnell in objection

Maybe the pathetic posturing of the fractured Democratic "leadership" in congress will help illustrate why the framers in their wisdom named only one person at a time to be Commander in Chief.
5795  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Environmental issues, Global Warming in Duluth on: March 04, 2007, 11:53:54 AM
Nice photos from Powerline at the link if you have never come home to find your house or car buried in a 15-20 foot snow drift.  Of course isolated weather isn't ever eveidence of anything global, though I keep seeing a replay on television of a glacier dropping ice chunks as presumably depicting something.

I came home (Lake Minnetonka, MN)  last night from an extended ski trip with constant Montana snow to find our house, cars and property covered, not quite as thoroughly as the photos at the link.  It took hours to clear out a place to put a car and to clear a door to access the house.  Then this morning began the process of clearing the roof to avoid collapse, ice dams or water damage.

I whine about winter, but of course we love it.  Most of my friends who believe the globe has warmed noticeably have coincidentally moved south or west to avoid winter.
5796  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2008 Races on: February 15, 2007, 11:49:18 AM
Not yet(!), but we will need a thread for the House and Senate races of 2008 as well.  I stick this in here because the in-state politics will affect the Presidential vote and turnout in 'purple' states. Al Franken is not guranteed the nomination, but is running to unseat MN Senator Norm coleman.  Powerline with its Minnesota roots will obviously be covering this closely (as they did with Keith Ellison).

Vox populi, vox Franken

(link for text and video) in which Al Franken made his announcement yesterday of his candidacy for the Democatic nomination to run for the Senate seat currently held by Norm Coleman. In the video Franken states that he campaigned last year for Democratic candidates "from Waseca and Wabasha up to Fergus Falls and Detroit Lakes, over to Bemidji and the Iron Range, from Duluth down to Albert Lea." He recalls what voters told him as he travelled around the state: "They told me that they’re sick of politics as usual—and they're sick of the usual politicians."

Funny thing is, that's pretty much the same statement that Al Frnaken used in announcing his satirical presidential candidacy in his 2000 book Why Not Me? There in his fictional March 24, 1999 announcement of his presidential candidacy, he envisions the creation of an electoral majority that will "let them know that politics as usual will only get you politicians as usual. (PAUSE FOR APPLAUSE.)"

Yesterday's real-life announcement of his Senate candidacy mixes recycling with shtick to kick off a campaign that promises to be even longer than the one depiicted in Why Not Me? It also promises to offer the definitive answer to the question posed in the book's title.

5797  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: February 13, 2007, 11:02:29 PM
Karl Rove picked out these four segments for Republicans to work on:

Suburbanites: "The heart of our party is married couples with children, but they are also those that are most prone to be mobile in our society and hence less linked into politics."

Younger voters: "That's where you set in motion things that come to pass not in a matter of an election or two, but a matter of a decade or two."

African-Americans: "You can't claim to be a great political party if you're getting 9 or 10 or 11 percent. One of the interesting things about the 2006 election is that we appeared to make gains in the African-American community even while we were losing a national election."

Latinos: "This group is rapidly growing. We do well among them in some elections and not well in others."

Rove has a special interest in the group that demographers call "some college" -- people who, like him, attended college but did not graduate. The concerns of this group dovetail with one of his current policy passions: income distribution and education.

"Income is increasingly correlated to more education," he said. "The challenge for our society is how do we prepare every child to be ready for college if he or she decided to go to college? Our problem today is not that we don't have enough higher education opportunities. It's that we don't have enough people who are prepared to take advantage of it."
The rest of the interview is interesting as well.
5798  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Environmental issues on: February 09, 2007, 11:37:58 PM
My understanding of the alarmist view is that once the glaciers start melting, the rate accelerates (net positive feedback) and basically can't be slowed much less stopped.  This study indicates the opposite is true.


"Greenland isn’t melting as fast as we feared."

"the melting of Greenland's glaciers can slow as rapidly as it can accelerate, making the ice's effect on rising sea levels tough to forecast, a study says."


February 8, 2007,  4:08 pm
Greenland’s Glaciers Take a Breather

By John Tierney  (NYTimes)

Tags: climate change, glaciers, Greenland, ice, sea level
Helheim Glacier, located in southeast Greenland, in May 2005Helheim Glacier in southeast Greenland, pictured in 2005, is one of the two glaciers that have slowed down in their flow to the sea. (Photo: NASA/Wallops)

Greenland isn’t melting as fast as we feared.

It was big news when the rate of melting suddenly doubled in 2004 as ice sheets began moving more quickly into the sea. That inspired predictions of the imminent demise of Greenland’s ice — and a catastrophic rise in sea level. But a paper published online this afternoon by Science reports that two of the largest glaciers have suddenly slowed, bringing the rate of melting last year down to near the previous rate. At one glacier, Kangerdlugssuaq, “average thinning over the glacier during the summer of 2006 declined to near zero, with some apparent thickening in areas on the main trunk.”

I asked the lead author of the paper, Ian Howat of the University of Washington, for some perspective. Here’s his take:

    Over the past few years there has been a major revolution in the way scientists think about ice sheet response to climate change. Previously, it was assumed that the big ice sheets react very slowly to climate, on the order of centuries to millenia. This is because surface melting and precipitation was thought to be the dominant way in which ice sheets gain and lose mass under changes in climate. However, over the past five years we have observed that the flow speed of the ice sheets, and therefore the rate at which the ice flows to ocean can change dramatically over very short time scales.

By short, he means months or less.

I also asked Dr. Howat about the argument that, since Greenland went through decades of relatively warm weather in the first half of the 20th century without catastrophic consequences, it’s unlikely that the glaciers are suddenly going to plunge into the ocean because of the current warming. His response:

    Greenland was about as warm or warmer in the 1930’s and 40’s, and many of the glaciers were smaller than they are now. This was a period of rapid glacier shrinkage world-wide, followed by at least partial re-expansion during a colder period from the 1950’s to the 1980’s. Of course, we don’t know very much about how the glacier dynamics changed then because we didn’t have satellites to observe it. However, it does suggest that large variations in ice sheet dynamics can occur from natural climate variability. The problem arises in the possibility that, due to anthropogenic warming, warm phases will become longer and more severe, so that each time the glaciers go through a period of retreat like this, they won’t fully grow back and they will retreat farther the next time.

That sounds like a reasonable concern. But for now, with the glaciers moving in fits and starts, it’s wise not to make any sweeping predictions based on a few measurements. Although the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was criticized for not incorporating the recent scary data from Greenland into its long-range projections, these new results seem to vindicate its caution. As Dr. Howat and his co-authors warn: “Special care must be taken in how these and other mass-loss estimates are evaluated, particularly when extrapolating into the future because short-term spikes could yield erroneous long-term trends.”


Simiolar story from Bloomberg at Boston Globe:

Study finds puzzle in Greenland glacier melt

By Bloomberg  |  February 9, 2007

The melting of Greenland's glaciers can slow as rapidly as it can accelerate, making the ice's effect on rising sea levels tough to forecast, a study says.

After two glaciers on Greenland's east coast exhibited "dramatic" shrinkage between 2000 and 2005, the rate slowed in 2006, said Ian Howat, a researcher at the University of Washington in Seattle and a study author. He said the size of the ice sheets were able to change in a matter of months.

The findings, published in the journal Science, may affect how researchers view the interaction between rising sea levels and global warming. A recent United Nations report on climate change acknowledged uncertainties over sea-level forecasts due to "limited" understanding of the dynamics of the ice sheets, and didn't include observations made since 2003.

"Before, we thought ice sheets tended to respond on the century- to millennial-scale," Howat said yesterday in a telephone interview. The study, involving the Kangerdlugssuaq and Helheim glaciers, showed "the ice sheets can respond more on the scale of months or even less."

"What's happened is the glaciers retreated back to a point where they could regain some of their footing and are now decreasing the rate at which they're losing mass," Howat said.

5799  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: February 09, 2007, 01:18:22 PM
Below is Peggy Noonan on Hillary v. Rudy. First my take on the players so far.  My bias is right-wing, free market, low tax, limited government, strong defense conservative with certain, limited, 'neocon' type tendencies.

I agree with the points above on Edwards indecisiveness and Hillary on war.  Obama, I think, is a good man, too far left for me, and too far left for America if people choose to consider that.  Unqualified in the sense of executive experience, but not necessarily unelectable.

The top Republicans have greater stature.  Quoting powerline: 

"John McCain is a war hero. In addition, as a U.S. Senator he's been at the forefront of nearly every major legislative battle for well over a decade. For better or worse, his footprints are all over our election laws, the judicial confirmation wars, and the war against terrorism, to cite three leading examples."

I don't support McCain and I think they don't either.  But he is qualified to be President.

Mitt Romney I just don't know.  Some conservatives are turning toward him.  To me, it seems his conservative views are too recent for me to trust.  He does comes across as presidential. 

Rudy is the front-runner.  His liberal social views, different than mine, perhaps make him more electable, yet he says he would appoint non-activist judges in the spirit of Roberts and Alito.  He has executive experience, national clout, a solid conservative record on tax and spend issues, and a strong persuasive view of taking the fight to the enemy.  He is consistent, diplomatic and unapologetic with his views.  That's better than shifting in most cases.  That said, and that Rudy personally detests abortion,  as a man and a father I have no idea what the phrase "a woman's right to choose" means, except that a legislating court made a ruling in violation of the judicial principles that Giuliani supports.

I am hoping to learn more from others here especially those who favor the other candidates.  Duncan Hunter, Sam Brownback, Mike Huckabee and Tom Tancredo have not been able to break through with measuralbe support.  I like Hunter but have concern about a tendency toward protectionism.  Brownback I believe is anti-war.  For some that is a positive quality.  Tancredo is too single issue oriented for my taste and on that issue I think he mixes an anti-immigration feeling with the important border security message. (I'm happy to be corrected on that or anything else.)

Later in the campaigns people complain about not having the best candidates to choose from. I am voicing my frustration right now.  The only other name mentioned around that matches my views better is Newt Gingrich.  I don't find him to be presidential and in his case I am not confidant he can win a general election which is more important to me than matching my views perfectly.

Maybe I am just to picky.  Anyway, the score right now is Hillary versus Rudy.  Rudy reaches better to the middle and so he wins if the election is held today and if conservatives show up.  Of course the election isn't held today.  They have nearly a couple of years to bring him down.

Here is Peggy Noonan on that particular matchup:

New York, New York
Rudy vs. Hillary in 2008?

Friday, February 9, 2007 12:01 a.m. EST

According to polls, Hillary Clinton holds an early and significant lead among Democratic voters (43%, compared with 22% for Barack Obama, according to a Fox News poll 10 days ago). She is of course the killer fund-raiser of the race, with one of her contributors crowing this week that she'll raise more money than all the other candidates combined. So let's call her the likely Democratic nominee, even though Mr. Obama hasn't even announced yet. On the Republican side it's Giuliani time, with Fox News putting him at 34% among GOP voters and John McCain coming in second with 22%. He hasn't announced yet either, but this week he filed all the papers.

So at the moment, and with keen awareness that not a vote has been cast, it is possible to say the state of New York is poised to become the home of both major-party presidential candidates. This is not unprecedented, but it is unusual. It happened in 1904, when New York, was the home of the hero of Oyster Bay, President Theodore Roosevelt, and reluctant Democratic nominee Alton Parker, a judge on New York's Court of Appeals, who carried only the solid South. It happened again in New York in 1944, when Teddy's cousin Franklin sought a fourth term against the bland and mustachioed Thomas Dewey, the New York district attorney unforgettably labeled by Teddy's daughter, the chilly and amusing Alice Roosevelt Longworth, "the little man on the wedding cake." In 1920 both the Democratic and Republican nominees were from Ohio; Sen. Warren Harding, who seemed boring but proved sprightly, landslided Democrat James Cox, a dreamy Wilsonian who thought America wished to hear more about the League of Nations. (Illinois was the first state to enjoy dual nominees when Republican Abraham Lincoln beat Stephen Douglas, the official but not the only Democratic candidate that year.)

Right now New York, our beloved, overtaxed, postindustrial state, is the red-hot center of the political map.

These are exciting times, with rival gangs roaming uptown and down looking for money and support. The styles of the two tongs are different. Hillary's people are cool and give away nothing; they're all business. They're like a captain from an army about to crush you. Why should he bother to charm you?

Rudy's people are more like old-style New Yorkers: They are pugnacious, and if you express reservations about their guy, they give you the chin. They don't make the case or try to persuade; they tilt their chins up and try to argue you into conceding he can win. As if they think it's all on them, and if they can win the conversation, he will win the nomination.

The city, as we say in the state, is full of people who've met both candidates, know them, had dealings with them. The other night I bumped into a veteran journalist who talked about Iran. The journalist said, "I wrote Hillary and gave her good advice but she didn't write back!" I went to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee speech Mrs. Clinton gave last week, and the higher geopolitical meanings of the event aside, the crowd ate dinner as she spoke and didn't seem unduly impressed. They'd seen her before and would see her again.

What a boon the race is for the tabloid press and the mainstream media: If New York's at the center, they're at the center. The tabloids had fun with the formal debut, via a Harper's Bazaar interview, of Judi Giuliani. The Post famously front-paged The Kiss, a posed and mildly creepy smooch--it was bigger story in New York than the mad astronaut--and her recent reflections that the presidential race is "a journey" they can make "together." It left one observer--that would be me--saying, "Oh no, please no." In politics, in the world of political life, the proper attitude of a third wife is modesty.

Mrs. Clinton also has an interesting spouse.

Mr. Giuliani and Mrs. Clinton seem in a way to represent two different New Yorks, two different templates of what it is to be a New Yorker. Rudy as mayor: An embattled pol bickering with reporters trying to bait him. A Western European ethnic from the outer boroughs with a slight hunch to his shoulders. He does the chin too, or did. His people probably got it from him. He was the government-prosecutor son of a Brooklyn guy, a Republican in a Democratic town, a man who had ideas--convictions!--about how to cut crime and stop the long slide, and who had to move entire establishments (and if there's one thing New York knows how to make, it's establishments) to get his way. And he pretty much did, winning progress and enmity along the way. On 9/10/01 he was a bum, on 9/11 he was a man, and on 9/12 he was a hero. Life can change, shift, upend in an instant.

Mrs. Clinton is not ethnic or outer-borough. She's suburban, middle class; she was raised in a handsome town in Illinois and lived an adulthood in Arkansas and Washington. She founded the original war room, is called "The Warrior" by some of her staff, has been fierce and combative in private, but obscures it all now under clouds of pink scarves. She literally hides the chin.

Both candidates seem now almost...jarringly happy. As if they've arrived and it's good, which they have and it is. But good fortune distances. They are both rich now, and both have spent the past six years being lauded and praised. In both it seems to have softened their edges--the easy, ready smile. We'll see if it's softened their heads.

But it is significant that in Mrs. Clinton's case, for the past 30 years, from 1978 through 2007--which is to say throughout most, almost all, of her adulthood--her view of America, and of American life, came through the tinted window of a limousine. (Now the view is, mostly, through the tinted window of an SUV.)

From first lady of Arkansas through first lady of the United States to U.S. senator, her life has been eased and cosseted by staff--by aides, drivers, cooks, Secret Service, etc. Her life has been lived within a motorcade. And so she didn't have to worry about crime, the cost of things, the culture. Status incubates. Rudy Giuliani was fighting a deterioration she didn't have to face. That's a big difference. It's the difference between the New Yorker in the subway and the Wall Street titan in the town car.
5800  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Economics on: February 07, 2007, 12:26:23 PM
Some excellent food for thought points in that post.  I learned a little because I don't follow gold.  I've always seen gold investment as a bet against productive investments.   I prefer real estate for performance and as a hedge against monetary risk.

Nitpicking the first point about copper, I would point out that glass and plastic fiber optics can replace copper for voice and data, and  plastic can replace copper for plumbing.  My plumber in the highest town in Colo. no longer stocks copper, not just because of price but also because of the freeze resilience of new plastic: Copper may still have an importance in the economy, but not exactly the same as it once was.

The Fed was criticized: "With each new dollar created, the value of each existing dollar held by savers declines in value."  - Yes, but at a very low and controlled rate.  In my study of the Bernancke Fed, I find they are (also) scared to death of deflation.  When inflation hits zero, they have no tools, so the mission is to keep inflation low but the target is never below 1% per year.  The article does some analysis back to the 1920's (also takes some perfect trough buys and perfect peak sells for illustration), but for current, managed investments, I think low, consistent inflation is no threat to otherwise good investments.

The list of Dow companies changing in nearly a century makes a point, but an index fund would make all those adjustments.  Also seems to me that the investor who was in Sears Roebuck then would be in Microsoft now, for example, with or without the updates to the Dow.

I see no threat or significance to the shift from emphasis on manufactured goods to a so-called service economy, unless there was a shortage of manufactured goods.  We may think of fast food workers as service but a service worker might also be a heart surgeon.  Value added is the key IMO.

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