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5751  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: October 05, 2008, 11:24:37 PM
"Does everyone deserve the same level of healthcare?"

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

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

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

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

Health Care is more equal in Europe but survival rates for the most likely ailments you could face are far worse:
"Survival was significantly higher in the United States (than Europe) for all solid tumors, except testicular, stomach, and soft-tissue cancer, the authors report. The greatest differences were seen in the major cancer sites: colon and rectum (56.2% in Europe vs 65.5% in the United States), breast (79.0% vs 90.1%), and prostate cancer (77.5% vs 99.3%),
5752  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Environmental issues on: October 05, 2008, 10:52:44 PM
"Natural oil seeps put more oil into water sources than anything humans do."

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

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

You can punish an oil company for spilling and you can punish a toddler for putting his hand on a hot stove, but the direct consequence is probably more effective.
5753  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Palin phenomenon - debate comments on: October 04, 2008, 02:35:44 PM
I disagree with the good comments about Gwen Ifill. She did as well as most and as well as Tom Brokaw will do, but she annoyed me at times.  No one of recent memory matches the neutrality that Jim Lehrer projects IMO.

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

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

At the end Palin hinted to 'Joe' that she would be up for more of this, presumably meaning without Gwen Ifill and the timer.  There is no way in hell that Obama will allow Biden to do that, especially since they lead at this point in the race.  For all the complaints about not enough time, not enough answers and not enough back and forth, it's too bad that political considerations trump the public's right to know.
5754  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: October 04, 2008, 09:13:37 AM
"Lets say I don't have health care because I can't afford it. Would socialized health care be better or worse for me?"
Free lunch may taste good, but in the long view, I think you are worse off.  Just my opinion.  It really depends on how you feel about mandating someone else to pay your basic living expenses.

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

Why are health care expenses artificially high?  Third party pay.  There is a disconnect between the user of the service and the payer of the service that removes market spending discipline. Price is the most efficient way of allocating a scarce resource.  Unfortunately, the more important the resource the more we turn to less efficient methods.
5755  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Palin phenomenon on: October 03, 2008, 08:25:30 PM
Replying to the Biden mis-speaks in the Palin-Biden debate, thanks for the short list.  May I add something else scary he said.  Bankruptcy court should write down the interest AND THE PRINCIPLE on mortgages.  Do liberals no longer believe in binding contracts between consenting adults? In his miserable legal training did they not teach him about choice of remedies.  They are supposed to get the house back or get the money.  Why else would you call it a secured loan? Personal loans that are not secured against real estate are not tax deductible.  Did everyone just lose their home interest deduction?
5756  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race, moderator bias: "The Age of Obama"? on: October 01, 2008, 12:14:43 AM
Thursday's VP debate will be moderated by Gwen Ifill who according to Michelle Malkin is a bit invested in an Obama victory.

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

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

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

Ifill and her publisher are banking on an Obama/Biden win to buoy her book sales. The moderator expected to treat both sides fairly has grandiosely declared this the “Age of Obama.” Can you imagine a right-leaning journalist writing a book about the “stunning” McCain campaign and its “bold” path to reform timed for release on Inauguration Day – and then expecting a slot as a moderator for the nation’s sole vice presidential debate?
5757  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The electoral process, vote fraud, SEIU/ACORN et al, etc. on: September 30, 2008, 12:19:15 PM
ACORN was mentioned by Crafty in the voter fraud discussion, but not normally named by Obama as the group where he built his career community-organizing.  This group deserves its own DB topic IMO beyond its connection to the 'Obama phenomenon'.

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

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

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


September 29, 2008

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Then you'll truly know what community organizers do.
5758  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants, government's failed meddling in housing markets on: September 30, 2008, 10:52:45 AM
Fannie Mae bragged to Dems through the Black Congressional Caucus about (bad) loans made into the community that were based on race and location rather than credit worthiness and the value of the asset. That's my read on the statement in this video as the meddlers and the buffoons are caught congratulating each other about bad lending practices:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Foreclosure, the right of the lender to take back the property, the process that politicians like Hillary, Obama, and the congress want to stop is the cornerstone of home ownership.  Without it, ordinary people could not 'own' their own home and pay for it over their income producing years.  A mortgage is a claim against the property - the right to foreclose and take back.  That right is almost non-existent with the statutory delays and restrictions from the wisdom of our 'regulators'.  The period of time a lender is forced to wait under smart regulations should be at least partly dependent on the amount of equity ownership that the borrower paid or accumulated.  In cases where the borrower has NO money at stake and the lender is carrying all the risk, the grace period for missing a payment should be measured in minutes.  Then out they go.  JMHO.
5759  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: September 24, 2008, 10:59:55 AM
"The Republican Party ...mass voter-registration challenges and thereby offers a powerful opportunity to suppress the vote in Democrat-leaning districts."

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

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

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

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

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

5760  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Obama Phenomena on: September 18, 2008, 09:32:11 AM
Thanks for posting links to Michelle's thesis.  They did a nice job of getting this out without fanfare; this has been available since March? I read it along with the commentary. Overall, it is a very boring read.  It is mostly a math study trying to find relationships among a number of variables she created.  The main impression I get is that the student had to make up a study about something so a lot of tedious writing is just the course requirement.  If all this was out of genuine curiosity I would scared about how race obsessed it is.  I don't know anything about race at Princeton at that time but it strikes me as odd that everything is black or white, not Asian, Arab or Hispanic for example.  Of course that would have made the study more complex but it seems everyone non-black is called white.

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

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

In getting to know the Obamas, the next thing I would like to study is Barack's teachings of constitutional law.  I know Crafty studied law under a supreme court justice and I studied economics under the chief economic adviser to Presidents Kennedy and Johnson, it is fascinating to hear people of history or of the future first hand.  I would like to learn about the content of the lectures of Prof. Obama.  I have heard they were not controversial but still I would like to look for clues in his teachings about how he would find Chief Justice Roberts unsuitable for example.
5761  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Food Chain and Food Politics on: September 17, 2008, 10:39:27 PM
I agree with Rachel regarding country of origin labeling.  From my point of view, instead of banning trade or taxing trade, content and origin in labeling either required by industry groups or government would cause informed trade which is better than restricted trade.  Even state origin or more specific yet would be helpful.  Besides food poisoning scares I know that people wanting to lessen their energy footprint prefer to buy things from closer to home.

5762  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: September 17, 2008, 09:04:13 AM
Excerpting from analysis published at politco:

"What makes me laugh – ruefully, I assure you – is when our office seekers trot around the country promising “accountability” for Wall Street. Lehman just went bankrupt – in a market economy, things don’t get more “accountable” than that."
With Washington looking to point fingers in regards to the fall of Lehman, it’s worth recounting the chain of events that led us to today (or rather Sunday):

1) Alan Greenspan’s Fed made loads of cheap money available.

2) Money will be put to use. It does not wind up in enormous mattresses gathering dust. After all the smart uses were exhausted, Wall Street began looking to dumbers uses, or riskier uses if you will. Foremost among these riskier uses was issuing subprime mortgages.

3) The availability of subprime mortgages had two immediate effects. First, it created a whole new class of potential homeowners. As this new class of homeowners drove demand through the roof, the value of your house (and mine) increased dramatically.

4) Unfortunately for everyone involved, a lot of these people defaulted on their subprime loans. Thus, the subprime mortgage market disappeared while foreclosed homes glutted the housing market. That meant a sharp decline in demand and a sharp increase in supply hit the housing market simultaneously, making the value of your house (and mine) decrease dramatically. In terms of where this crisis hits the typical American, this item is the bogey. The typical American lost a huge chunk of his net worth thanks to the housing crisis, and it won't fully bounce back until…well, nobody knows when.

5) The erstwhile homeowners who took out loans they couldn’t afford lost their homes and faced financial ruin. The firms who issued subprime loans and the firms who purchased subprime mortgage backed securities that the erstwhile homeowners couldn’t make good on also faced financial ruin.

So what can the government and its various agencies do in such a situation? Fannie and Freddie had to be saved – “too big to fail” was right, and that’s what made the shenanigans of those quasi-governmental agencies so scandalous. But Lehman? Life and the economy will go one.

Fed Governors will study for years the original Greenspan sins that set this course of events in motion. Meanwhile, Greenpsan will probably be taking to the airwaves to defend his tattered legacy. As far as the subprime lending industry that proximately triggered the crisis, theoretically the government in the future could set up a regulatory regime that puts mortgages out of reach for certain risky home buyers. Happily, I bet that idea sounds as noxious to liberals as it does to conservatives.

So government and politicians can only do what they do best – blindly cast blame on a matter that they don’t fully understand. Let’s not forget we have two presidential candidates who have spent a combined fifteen minutes in the private sector. I would love to see Charlie Gibson have a few minutes on camera with Barack Obama and ask in his impatient schoolmarm way, “Exactly what did Lehman Brothers do on a day in/day out basis?” I would expect an irrelevant homily on the virtues of “Main Street” as opposed to “Wall Street” in response.

In a free market, good decisions will be rewarded and poor decisions will be punished. That happens at the individual level when a person takes a mortgage that they can’t afford. And it happens at a bigger level when a company like Lehman pursues an “aggressive” strategy that ultimately proves imprudent.

What makes me laugh – ruefully, I assure you – is when our office seekers trot around the country promising “accountability” for Wall Street. Lehman just went bankrupt – in a market economy, things don’t get more “accountable” than that.

What everyone wants to know is how serious the current situation is. Step back from the ledge, and for goodness sakes ignore Senator Obama’s ignorant hysterics. What we have now is a market correction. Firms that made poor decisions are being devoured by the market’s unforgiving nature. Today the Dow is steady, the American economy having easily withstood the shock of the weekend’s events. Most salubriously, the moral hazard that the government sponsored with past bailouts and craven enabling (see Fannie and Freddie) is now a memory. In evaluating future risks, finance houses will no longer consider the moving target of federal intervention if/when things don’t work out.

The weekend’s events were terrible news for Lehman’s employees not to mention the countless vendors who depended on the firm. The bad news also extends to New York City, which will have the burden of a moribund financial sector to lug around for the foreseeable future. It stinks that things work out this way sometimes. But so it goes in a free market economy.
5763  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care - case against socialized medicine on: September 16, 2008, 10:25:10 PM
"According to an August 2008 study published in Lancet Oncology, the renowned British medical journal, Americans have a better than five-year survival rate for 13 of the 16 most prominent cancers when compared with their European and Canadian counterparts.

With breast cancer, for instance, the survival rate among American women is 83.9 percent. For women in Britain, it’s just 69.7 percent. For men with prostate cancer, the survival rate is 91.9 percent here but just 73.7 percent in France and 51.1 percent in Britain.

American men and women are more than 35 percent more likely to survive colon cancer than their British counterparts."
Is the grass greener with socialized medicine?

By Sally C. Pipes
Special to the Examiner | 8/23/08 7:35 PM With Democrats convinced 2008 is their year, the campaign trail is awash with promises to make universal health care a reality by the end of the next president’s first term.

The basic argument of those who support a government takeover of the health care system is familiar. As New York Times columnist Paul Krugman once put it, “America’s health care system spends more, for worse results, than that of any other advanced country.”

Krugman’s line has been repeated so often it’s considered gospel truth in most public debates — people rarely check to see if it matches the facts. As the American humorist Josh Billings quipped, “the problem with the world ain’t ignorance, it’s the things people know that just ain’t so.”

If they did, they’d probably be surprised. Socialized health care isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Take the much-vaunted Canadian system. More than 825,000 Canadian citizens are currently on waiting lists for surgery and other necessary treatments. Fifteen years ago, the average wait between a referral from a primary-care doctor to treatment by a specialist was around nine weeks. Today, that wait is over 16 weeks.

That’s almost double what doctors consider clinically reasonable. As Canadian physician Brian Day explained to The New York Times, Canada “is a country in which dogs can get a hip replacement in under a week and in which humans can wait two to three years.”
In part, these waits are due to a doctor shortage. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, Canada ranks 24th out of 28 countries in doctors per thousand people.

Why so few doctors? Over the past decade, about 11 percent of physicians trained in Canadian medical schools have moved to the United States. That’s because doctors’ salaries in Canada are negotiated, set and paid for by provincial governments and held down by cost-conscious budget analysts. Today, in fact, the average Canadian doctor earns only 42 percent of what a doctor earns in the United States.

Canada also limits access to common medical technologies. When compared with other OECD countries, Canada is 13th out of 24 in access to magnetic resonance imagings, 18th of 24 in access to computed tomography scanners, and seventh of 17 in access to mammograms.

The problems plaguing Canada are characteristic of all universal health care systems.

In Britain, more than 1 million sick citizens are currently waiting for hospital admission. Another 200,000 are waiting just to get on a waiting list. Each year, Britain’s National Health Service cancels around 100,000 operations.

Britain even has a government agency explicitly tasked with limiting people’s access to prescription drugs. Euphemistically called the National Institute for Health and Clinical Effectiveness, the agency determines which treatments the British health care system covers. More often than not, saving money takes priority over saving lives.

In 2008, for instance, NICE refused to approve the lung cancer drug Tarceva. Despite numerous studies showing that the drug significantly prolongs the life of cancer patients — and the unanimous endorsement of lung cancer specialists throughout the United Kingdom — NICE determined that the drug was too expensive to cover relative to its effectiveness. As of August 2008, England is one of only three countries in Western Europe that denies citizens access to Tarceva.

Britain’s behavior is typical — every European government rations drugs to save money. Eighty-five new drugs hit the U.S. market between 1998 and 2002. During that same time period, only 44 of those drugs became available in Europe.

The evidence clearly indicates that patients under socialized medicine are suffering. Why, then, do countries with government-run health care consistently outrank the United States on international quality surveys?

It’s not because the American health care system is inferior. It’s because these surveys use deeply flawed metrics that don’t reflect health care quality.

Case in point: The World Health Organization rankings of overall health system performance placed the United States 37th out of 191 countries. That’s behind not only Canada, Britain and France, but even countries like Costa Rica, Morocco and Cyprus.

Life expectancy accounted for 25 percent of a nation’s WHO ranking. But life expectancy is the function of a variety of factors. Medical care is just one of them. Just as important are a nation’s homicide rate, the number of accidents, diet trends, ethnic diversity and much more.

Another factor accounting for 25 percent of a nation’s ranking was “distribution of health,” or fairness. By this logic, treating everyone exactly the same is more important than treating people well. So long as everyone is equal — even if they’re equally miserable — a nation will do quite well in the WHO rankings.

In measuring the quality of a health care system, what really matters is how well it serves those who are sick. And it’s here that America really excels.

According to an August 2008 study published in Lancet Oncology, the renowned British medical journal, Americans have a better than five-year survival rate for 13 of the 16 most prominent cancers when compared with their European and Canadian counterparts.

With breast cancer, for instance, the survival rate among American women is 83.9 percent. For women in Britain, it’s just 69.7 percent. For men with prostate cancer, the survival rate is 91.9 percent here but just 73.7 percent in France and 51.1 percent in Britain.

American men and women are more than 35 percent more likely to survive colon cancer than their British counterparts.

It’s no wonder then that foreign dignitaries living in countries with socialized health care systems routinely come to this country when they need top-flight medical treatment.

When Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi needed heart surgery in 2006, he traveled to the Cleveland Clinic — often considered America’s best hospital for cardiac care. When Canadian Member of Parliament Belinda Stronach, who had denounced a two-tier health care system for Canadians, needed breast cancer surgery herself in 2007, she headed to a California hospital and paid out of pocket.

So much for the “free” health care they could have received at home.

As for the supposed cost advantages of socialized medicine? Those are illusory, too. True, other developed nations may spend less on health care as a percentage of gross domestic product than the United States does — but so does Sudan. Without considering value, such statistical evaluations are worthless.

And one of the primary reasons health care costs more in America is that we are a wealthy country that demands the best. And, we’re investing a lot more in medical research.

The United States produces over half of the $175 billion in health care technology products purchased globally. In 2004, the federal government funded medical research to the tune of $18.4 billion. By contrast, the European Union — which has a significantly larger population than the United States — allocated funds equal to just $3.7 billion for medical research.

Between 1999 and 2005, the United States was responsible for 71 percent of the sales of new pharmaceutical drugs. The next two largest pharmaceutical markets — Japan and Germany — account for just 4 percent each.

While no one can deny that there are significant problems in the American health care system, overall it provides exceptional value. The ideologues who claim we’d be better off under socialized medicine are massively wrong. Government-run health care has proven to be heartless and uncaring — and the inferior treatments it provides come with a very steep price tag.
5764  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Obama Phenomena, 10 worst Obama ideas on: September 16, 2008, 10:16:11 PM
I would have to add that raising the capital gains tax rate would be in my top ten right behind surrendering our national security.
5765  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Abortion on: September 15, 2008, 09:44:06 PM
Rachel already started a topic that I didn't see because a keyword search of the word abortion didn't find it.  I seems we are caught up in word games.  I explained favoring choices especially better ones in most situations and I certainly support the right to reproduce assuming you have consenting parties. 

I agree with Crafty on the legal issues. After it is returned to the states we still have an abortion rights debate. I was just writing one person's opinion about right and wrong.  The legal issues and political process follow.

I didn't notice that Rachel addressed any point in my post, but fired back questions at me that I already addressed, so I guess we are working on two different topics.  I found the questions to be condescending and diversionary which is your right and your choice. I already posted that nearly all pro-life proposals offer exceptions and that 98% of abortions in America are for convenience reasons and back comes a story about an 11 year old girl in a foreign land who actually did find her way to get abortion services. 

If you are comfortable with a system where men have zero rights, where it is women not couples or humans or families that reproduce, where killing 49 million isn't one of your top ten concerns, where the fact that 48 million of those were for convenience reasons doesn't merit a mention even in reply, then I give up on looking for common ground or a beneficial exchange.
Quoting BBG: " an off brand libertarian, I'm loathe to tell women that they are bound by law to let a creature grow inside of them" and similarly Rachel wrote: "Do I have control over my body or does someone else?"

I see your points and offer this reasonable and pragmatic compromise solution:

Recognize the woman's right to remove the unwanted tissue but not the right to have it killed.  Leave viability issue in the hands of God, the survival strength of the fetus, the medics and the people who would adopt and love it.

Fair enough?
5766  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Abortion on: September 15, 2008, 12:20:28 AM
Respectfully answering a post that opposed Palin on issues and listed "choice" first, I thought it was time to open the unmentionable topic of abortion.

We avoid the issue IMO by just calling it "choice".  I'm for choice... I favor choice in schools. trade, social security, health care, drilling, disaster relief, bridges to nowhere and putting men on the moon. Just not about respecting innocent human life.

Former President Clinton called abortion a constitutional right that should be safe, legal and rare.  What other constitutional rights should be rare? Freedom of speech? Right to assemble? Freedom of religion? Freedom from unreasonable search and seizure?  The right to vote? I can't think of another individual right that should be rare.

Sen. Kerry and others covered it by saying they are personally opposed to abortion but favor abortion rights.  Again, what other great right would they be personally opposed to?  I can't think of one.

Sen. Biden said a week ago on Meet the Press that he believes that life begins at conception, but that isn't relevant to public policy because it comes from his faith.

But it doesn't come only from faith.  We know through science that that life begins at conception.

President Reagan said in the 1980s we know 3 things about a fetus:

1) The fetus (little one) is alive

2) It is of the human species, and

3) It has separate and distinct genetic code from the mother or father.

Are not all three of these true???

The discussion often comes back to incest, rape and the life of the mother, but most anti-abortion proposals include exceptions.  I recall reading abortion reason statistics published by planned parenthood and concluding that about 98% of the abortions are for reasons I see as for convenience. 

Like it or not, Americans are using abortion as a form of birth control.

What about men?  They have a huge stake and have absolutely no say in the process. Equal protection?  I don't think so.

To me it's also personal - my daughter is a survivor of abortion.  By luck or miracle, she missed her appointment.  Now 14, she is making her little impact on the world and the people she touches.  When I look back I just can't see that she was only a potential human life.

5767  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Palin phenomenon on: September 14, 2008, 03:22:18 PM
Of course Palin is minimally qualified. Obama opened the door on that.  The difference is that Obama earned where he is with 18 million votes or so and Palin started as the choice of one, but that's how that works.  I agree with Rachel that the debate of Palin should be on issues and stands that she takes and opponents should quit underestimating or trashing her. 

Exact reverse of Rachel, I want her elected because of her positions and hope that the mini-scandals and airlifted investigators don't bring her down first.  We should hammer out those issue discussions one by one on their merits  not just the stand of a VP candidate.

I stayed out of a previous debate or two like the gay marriage discussion in trying to avoid making me-too posts of comments already made, but I certainly agree with Crafty that I greatly appreciate the presence of opposing views on both sides here. 
5768  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Obama Phenomena on: September 10, 2008, 06:44:45 PM
Pig comment sexist?  I wrote that because I find the term to be a visual put-down.  How do I say nicely - we aren't talking about farm animals and we aren't talking about supermodels - millions and millions of women not comfortable with their looks put on billions of dollars of makeup/lipstick with millions of hours in front of the mirror and they attain mixed results, to put it lightly.  The phrase in question doesn't make me visualize a painted farm animal; it makes me visualize the unpleasant sight of one of these unsuccessful makeover experiments, like one of the male actors in an SNL parody all lipsticked up and in a dress with a false front and a pretend high voice, not pulling off the beauty of an attractive woman. 

Guys my age mostly think Palin is hot.  But the hate blogs were all over her hair during the speech from another decade and though trimmer than Hillary, she wasn't the exact figure (months after childbirth) as her beauty queen photos. More importantly, feminists think she is a pig or other creature for being a woman and holding non-liberal-feminist views.  Obama was NOT directly talking about her but he had VERY recently been talking about her and the crowd instantly got the unintended double-triple meaning, slamming Palin while he was slamming 'failed' policies and apparently pigs.  JMHO.
5769  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Obama Phenomena on: September 10, 2008, 12:09:25 PM
The lipstick - hockey mom - pitbull joke is old and funny because there's truth in it.  It's derogatory to the pitbull but only self deprecating to the hockey mom.  Parents who commit to kid hockey programs spend thousands a year on ice time, coaching and equipment, drive their SUV's daily at all hours through all weather to the arenas and away games forsaking whatever they would be doing without kids or hockey.  When they get there they don't just sit there and clap politely for the nice plays like it's a senior golf event or a slide show at the library.  They holler and scream and scold and tell their kids they don't hustle enough while they demand to the coaches their kid deserves more ice time. Same goes for the parents in plenty of other sports.  The joke was a headsup to the fact that she was not going to sit pretty next to McCain and stay out of the mix.  And she didn't.

Lipstick on a pig is also an old phrase, it's sexist, and both candidates have used it. 

The difference was the timing and the crowd instantly got it.  McCain's crowd doesn't roar if he calls socialized  heathcare a pig or a turkey.  Obama's turn of phrase was roll on the floor funny ONLY IF he intended to get nasty with his new opponent who recently tweaked him in front of $40 million.  Obama didn't intend to do that or have it read that way IMO.  It was a gaffe.

Liberals went into a feeding frenzy over George Allen's "Mucaca".  He was just trying to put some kind of name on his stalker, but the guy's look was ethnic and the made up name sounded ethnic and the instant news cycle spin turned it into a condescending slur. Sen. Allen was supposed to be the next Reagan.  He's out and his replacement is a Dem.

Obama should know that phrase at this time will be taken wrong, he should apologize and find a new cliche. (Doesn't he carry the unabridged cliche collection with him?)  Instead this will haunt him.
5770  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: September 09, 2008, 11:48:36 PM
The original political point about Justice Thomas was that he received bad treatment from the judiciary committee under Sen. Biden's watch.  The allegation wasn't 'vetted'. This was pre-Lewinski when they brought 'pubic hair on a coke can' and 'Long Dong Silver' into our living rooms with our children and into our congressional record based on one person saying it was so.  No incident before.  No incident after.  No pattern.  No evidence.  No second 'victim', no witness, no contemporaneous complaint.  The point at the time IMO was that Thomas like Bork didn't find an unenumerated right of privacy unwritten into the constitution that trumped life so they believed the adjudicated right to an abortion would become in jeopardy.  That may be enough reason for certain senators to vote against him, but not a license to smear.

Obama dove in there lately by singling out Thomas as unworthy of the court, then like I said previously, failed to back up his harsh judgment with anything unique to this Justice, such as at least one badly reasoned opinion.  Two recent posts at take this story from there:
August 19, 2008
A strange singling out

During the forum at Saddleback, Barack Obama said he would not have nominated Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court because Thomas lacked relevant experience at the time. I (Paul Mirengoff at powerline) suggested that this statement was disingenuous because Obama clearly wouldn't have selected Thomas, a powerful spokesman against the "liberal" view of civil rights, regardless of how much judicial experience Thomas had possessed. I agreed, though, that Thomas lacked substantial experience as a judge, adding that in this respect (and this respect alone) Thomas could be viewed as the Barack Obama of the Supreme Court.

A reader reminded me, however, that when Thomas joined the Court, it was not unusual for Justices to have little or no prior judging experience. Two of the sitting Justices at that time, White and Rehnquist, had never been judges. Two others, O'Connor and Brennan had never been federal judges. Lewis Powell, who retired four years before Thomas joined the Court, likewise had never been a judge before he joined the Supreme Court. Neither had former Chief Justice Earl Warren.

Obama isn't the only person who has singled out Justice Thomas for his lack of prior judging experience. It makes for interesting speculation to ponder the reasons for this singling out.
August 24, 2008
A strange singling out explained

Barack Obama's recent comment about Justice Thomas -- that he would not have nominated Thomas for the Supreme Court due to Thomas' "inexperience" -- coupled with Obama's selection of Joe Biden as his running mate, provide a painful reminder of the judicial confirmation wars of the past 20 plus years. I wrote about Biden's central (and disgraceful) role in these wars here. I wondered why Thomas is singled out for having been inexperienced at the time of his nomination here.

The latter post brought this response from a reader:

    The answer is this: liberals like Mr. Obama simply cannot fathom how a black person could hold seriously thought-out views about jurisprudence like those of Clarence Thomas. And there is something too crass about attacking Justice Thomas' jurisprudence on the merits, as well as too time-consuming.

    Liberals deem it too crass because they like to pretend that their objections are unrelated to politics, perhaps out of a concern that conservatives will apply the same approach to liberal judicial nominees when the tables are turned. So they find other reasons: Bork is too smart and doesn't understand the "common man;" and Thomas is too dumb. But the Thomas-as-too-dumb view is too crass also, so the easy thing to do is say he was "unqualified" or too inexperienced.

    Substantive critiques of Justice Thomas' jurisprudence are too time-consuming because people like Mr. Obama don't want to read, much less engage, his opinions. Note that criticisms of Justice Thomas never cite any examples of actual opinions he's written. Obama certainly failed to do so at the Saddleback forum.

    Ultimately, the theme continues for liberals: "self-hating" minorities who deviate from liberal orthodoxy are attacked because liberals view them as turn-coats. For more recent examples, see the treatment Miguel Estrada and Janice Rogers Brown received when the president nominated them to the D.C. Circuit, while the white guy, John Rodgers, sailed through to confirmation. And, recall Justice Thomas' words:

    "This is not an opportunity to talk about difficult matters privately or in a closed environment. This is a circus. It's a national disgrace. And from my standpoint, as a black American, it is a high-tech lynching for uppity blacks who in any way deign to think for themselves, to do for themselves, to have different ideas, and it is a message that unless you kowtow to an old order, this is what will happen to you. You will be lynched, destroyed, caricatured by a committee of the U.S. Senate rather than hung from a tree."

    The "old order" is liberalism. Mr. Obama's cheap shot against Justice Thomas, which would be applauded in Cambridge and Hyde Park, is the most recent example of the stereotypical left-wing effort to keep minorities on the plantation.
5771  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Legal issues on: September 09, 2008, 12:00:14 PM
The question was the depth of Thomas' intellect.  My example was the opinion posted.  He is no lightweight.  That Scalia or others find themselves on the same side does not mean Thomas followed them. He VERY often writes a separate opinion concurring or dissent. If the majority didn't sign on with this opinion, from my point of view, shame on them. 

Jan Crawford Greenburg covers the court for the PBS Jim Lehrer News Hour, ABC News, and Chicago Tribune.  I find her to be informed and objective.  She wrote this for the Wall Street Journal in 2007: (this was posted previously)

The Truth About Clarence Thomas
He's an independent voice, not a Scalia lackey.
January 28, 2007

Clarence Thomas has borne some of the most vitriolic personal attacks in Supreme Court history. But the persistent stereotypes about his views on the law and subordinate role on the court are equally offensive--and demonstrably false. An extensive documentary record shows that Justice Thomas has been a significant force in shaping the direction and decisions of the court for the past 15 years.

That's not the standard storyline. Immediately upon his arrival at the court, Justice Thomas was savaged by court-watchers as Antonin Scalia's dutiful apprentice, blindly following his mentor's lead. It's a grossly inaccurate portrayal, imbued with politically incorrect innuendo, as documents and notes from Justice Thomas's very first days on the court conclusively show. Far from being a Scalia lackey, the rookie jurist made clear to the other justices that he was willing to be the solo dissenter, sending a strong signal that he would not moderate his opinions for the sake of comity. By his second week on the bench, he was staking out bold positions in the private conferences where justices vote on cases. If either justice changed his mind to side with the other that year, it was Justice Scalia joining Justice Thomas, not the other way around.

Much of the documentary evidence for this comes from the papers of Justice Harry Blackmun, who recorded the justices' votes and took detailed notes explaining their views. I came across vivid proof while reading the papers as part of my research for a book about how the Rehnquist Court--a court with seven justices appointed by Republican presidents--evolved into an ideological and legal disappointment for conservatives.

Justice Thomas's first term was especially interesting. He replaced legendary liberal icon Thurgood Marshall, and joined the court just a year after David Souter took William Brennan's seat. There appeared to be a solid conservative majority, with the court poised to finally dismember the liberal legacy of the Warren Court. But that year it instead lurched inexplicably to the left--even putting Roe v. Wade on more solid ground.

Justice Thomas's first year on the job brought to life the adage that a new justice makes a new court. His entry didn't merely change the vote of the liberal justice he replaced. It turned the chessboard around entirely, rearranging ideological alliances. Justice Thomas acted as a catalyst in different ways, shoring up conservative positions in some cases and spurring others--the moderate Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, in particular--to realign themselves into new voting blocs.

Consider a criminal case argued during Justice Thomas's first week. It concerned a thief's effort to get out of a Louisiana mental institution and the state's desire to keep him there. Eight justices voted to side with the thief. Justice Thomas dissented, arguing that although it "may make eminent sense as a policy matter" to let the criminal out of the mental institution, nothing in the Constitution required "the states to conform to the policy preferences of federal judges."

After he sent his dissenting opinion to the other justices, as is custom, Justices Rehnquist, Scalia and Kennedy changed their votes. The case ended up 5-4.

Justice Thomas's dissents persuaded Justice Scalia to change his mind several times that year. Even in Hudson v. McMillan, the case that prompted the New York Times to infamously label Justice Thomas the "youngest, cruelest justice," he was again, initially, the lone dissenter. Justice Scalia changed his vote after he read Justice Thomas's dissent, which said a prison inmate beaten by guards had several options for redress--but not under the Eighth Amendment's prohibition of "cruel and unusual punishment."

From the beginning, Justice Thomas was an independent voice. His brutal confirmation hearings only enforced his autonomy, making him impervious to criticism from the media and liberal law professors. He'd told his story, and no one listened. From then on, he did not care what they said about him.

Clarence Thomas, for example, is the only justice who rarely asks questions at oral arguments. One reason is that he thinks his colleagues talk too much from the bench, and he prefers to let the lawyers explain their case with fewer interruptions. But his silence is sometimes interpreted as a lack of interest, and friends have begged him to ask a few questions to dispel those suggestions. He refuses to do it. "They have no credibility," he says of critics. "I am free to live up to my oath."

But the forcefulness and clarity of Justice Thomas's views, coupled with wrongheaded depictions of him doing Justice Scalia's bidding, created an internal dynamic that caused the court to make an unexpected turn in his first year. Justice O'Connor--who sought ideological balance--moved to the left. With the addition of Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justice Samuel Alito, the court now is poised to finally fulfill the hopes of the conservative movement. As George W. Bush told his legal advisers early in his presidency, he wanted justices in "the mold of Thomas and Scalia." Interestingly, on President Bush's marquee, Justice Thomas got top billing.
5772  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Legal issues on: September 08, 2008, 09:56:15 PM
(Kelo v. New London, Justice Thomas dissenting continued)


    Our current Public Use Clause jurisprudence, as the Court notes, has rejected this natural reading of the Clause. Ante, at 8—10. The Court adopted its modern reading blindly, with little discussion of the Clause’s history and original meaning, in two distinct lines of cases: first, in cases adopting the “public purpose” interpretation of the Clause, and second, in cases deferring to legislatures’ judgments regarding what constitutes a valid public purpose. Those questionable cases converged in the boundlessly broad and deferential conception of “public use” adopted by this Court in Berman v. Parker, 348 U.S. 26 (1954), and Hawaii Housing Authority v. Midkiff, 467 U.S. 229 (1984), cases that take center stage in the Court’s opinion. See ante, 10—12. The weakness of those two lines of cases, and consequently Berman and Midkiff, fatally undermines the doctrinal foundations of the Court’s decision. Today’s questionable application of these cases is further proof that the “public purpose” standard is not susceptible of principled application. This Court’s reliance by rote on this standard is ill advised and should be reconsidered.


    As the Court notes, the “public purpose” interpretation of the Public Use Clause stems from Fallbrook Irrigation Dist. v. Bradley, 164 U.S. 112, 161—162 (1896). Ante, at 11. The issue in Bradley was whether a condemnation for purposes of constructing an irrigation ditch was for a public use. 164 U.S., at 161. This was a public use, Justice Peckham declared for the Court, because “[t]o irrigate and thus to bring into possible cultivation these large masses of otherwise worthless lands would seem to be a public purpose and a matter of public interest, not confined to landowners, or even to any one section of the State.” Ibid. That broad statement was dictum, for the law under review also provided that “[a]ll landowners in the district have the right to a proportionate share of the water.” Id., at 162. Thus, the “public” did have the right to use the irrigation ditch because all similarly situated members of the public–those who owned lands irrigated by the ditch—had a right to use it. The Court cited no authority for its dictum, and did not discuss either the Public Use Clause’s original meaning or the numerous authorities that had adopted the “actual use” test (though it at least acknowledged the conflict of authority in state courts, see id., at 158; supra, at 9, and n. 2). Instead, the Court reasoned that “[t]he use must be regarded as a public use, or else it would seem to follow that no general scheme of irrigation can be formed or carried into effect.” Bradley, supra, at 160—161. This is no statement of constitutional principle: Whatever the utility of irrigation districts or the merits of the Court’s view that another rule would be “impractical given the diverse and always evolving needs of society,” ante, at 8, the Constitution does not embody those policy preferences any more than it “enacts Mr. Herbert Spencer’s Social Statics.” Lochner v. New York, 198 U.S. 45, 75 (1905) (Holmes, J., dissenting); but see id., at 58—62 (Peckham, J., for the Court).

    This Court’s cases followed Bradley’s test with little analysis. In Clark v. Nash, 198 U.S. 361 (1905) (Peckham, J., for the Court), this Court relied on little more than a citation to Bradley in upholding another condemnation for the purpose of laying an irrigation ditch. 198 U.S., at 369—370. As in Bradley, use of the “public purpose” test was unnecessary to the result the Court reached. The government condemned the irrigation ditch for the purpose of ensuring access to water in which “other land owners adjoining the defendant in error … might share,” 198 U.S., at 370, and therefore Clark also involved a condemnation for the purpose of ensuring access to a resource to which similarly situated members of the public had a legal right of access. Likewise, in Strickley v. Highland Boy Gold Mining Co., 200 U.S. 527 (1906), the Court upheld a condemnation establishing an aerial right-of-way for a bucket line operated by a mining company, relying on little more than Clark, see Strickley, supra, at 531. This case, too, could have been disposed of on the narrower ground that “the plaintiff [was] a carrier for itself and others,” 200 U.S., at 531—532, and therefore that the bucket line was legally open to the public. Instead, the Court unnecessarily rested its decision on the “inadequacy of use by the general public as a universal test.” Id., at 531. This Court’s cases quickly incorporated the public purpose standard set forth in Clark and Strickley by barren citation. See, e.g., Rindge Co. v. County of Los Angeles, 262 U.S. 700, 707 (1923); Block v. Hirsh, 256 U.S. 135, 155 (1921); Mt. Vernon-Woodberry Cotton Duck Co. v. Alabama Interstate Power Co., 240 U.S. 30, 32 (1916); O’Neill v. Leamer, 239 U.S. 244, 253 (1915).


    A second line of this Court’s cases also deviated from the Public Use Clause’s original meaning by allowing legislatures to define the scope of valid “public uses.” United States v. Gettysburg Electric R. Co., 160 U.S. 668 (1896), involved the question whether Congress’ decision to condemn certain private land for the purpose of building battlefield memorials at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, was for a public use. Id., at 679—680. Since the Federal Government was to use the lands in question, id., at 682, there is no doubt that it was a public use under any reasonable standard. Nonetheless, the Court, speaking through Justice Peckham, declared that “when the legislature has declared the use or purpose to be a public one, its judgment will be respected by the courts, unless the use be palpably without reasonable foundation.” Id., at 680. As it had with the “public purpose” dictum in Bradley, supra, the Court quickly incorporated this dictum into its Public Use Clause cases with little discussion. See, e.g., United States ex rel. TVA v. Welch, 327 U.S. 546, 552 (1946); Old Dominion Land Co. v. United States, 269 U.S. 55, 66 (1925).

    There is no justification, however, for affording almost insurmountable deference to legislative conclusions that a use serves a “public use.” To begin with, a court owes no deference to a legislature’s judgment concerning the quintessentially legal question of whether the government owns, or the public has a legal right to use, the taken property. Even under the “public purpose” interpretation, moreover, it is most implausible that the Framers intended to defer to legislatures as to what satisfies the Public Use Clause, uniquely among all the express provisions of the Bill of Rights. We would not defer to a legislature’s determination of the various circumstances that establish, for example, when a search of a home would be reasonable, see, e.g., Payton v. New York, 445 U.S. 573, 589—590 (1980), or when a convicted double-murderer may be shackled during a sentencing proceeding without on-the-record findings, see Deck v. Missouri, 544 U.S. ___ (2005), or when state law creates a property interest protected by the Due Process Clause, see, e.g., Castle Rock v. Gonzales, post, at __; Board of Regents of State Colleges v. Roth, 408 U.S. 564, 576 (1972); Goldberg v. Kelly, 397 U.S. 254, 262—263 (1970).

    Still worse, it is backwards to adopt a searching standard of constitutional review for nontraditional property interests, such as welfare benefits, see, e.g., Goldberg, supra, while deferring to the legislature’s determination as to what constitutes a public use when it exercises the power of eminent domain, and thereby invades individuals’ traditional rights in real property. The Court has elsewhere recognized “the overriding respect for the sanctity of the home that has been embedded in our traditions since the origins of the Republic,” Payton, supra, at 601, when the issue is only whether the government may search a home. Yet today the Court tells us that we are not to “second-guess the City’s considered judgments,” ante, at 18, when the issue is, instead, whether the government may take the infinitely more intrusive step of tearing down petitioners’ homes. Something has gone seriously awry with this Court’s interpretation of the Constitution. Though citizens are safe from the government in their homes, the homes themselves are not. Once one accepts, as the Court at least nominally does, ante, at 6, that the Public Use Clause is a limit on the eminent domain power of the Federal Government and the States, there is no justification for the almost complete deference it grants to legislatures as to what satisfies it.


    These two misguided lines of precedent converged in Berman v. Parker, 348 U.S. 26 (1954), and Hawaii Housing Authority v. Midkiff, 467 U.S. 229 (1984). Relying on those lines of cases, the Court in Berman and Midkiff upheld condemnations for the purposes of slum clearance and land redistribution, respectively. “Subject to specific constitutional limitations,” Berman proclaimed, “when the legislature has spoken, the public interest has been declared in terms well-nigh conclusive. In such cases the legislature, not the judiciary, is the main guardian of the public needs to be served by social legislation.” 348 U.S., at 32. That reasoning was question begging, since the question to be decided was whether the “specific constitutional limitation” of the Public Use Clause prevented the taking of the appellant’s (concededly “nonblighted”) department store. Id., at 31, 34. Berman also appeared to reason that any exercise by Congress of an enumerated power (in this case, its plenary power over the District of Columbia) was per se a “public use” under the Fifth Amendment. Id., at 33. But the very point of the Public Use Clause is to limit that power. See supra, at 3—4.

    More fundamentally, Berman and Midkiff erred by equating the eminent domain power with the police power of States. See Midkiff, 467 U.S., at 240 (“The ‘public use’ requirement is … coterminous with the scope of a sovereign’s police powers”); Berman, 348 U.S., at 32. Traditional uses of that regulatory power, such as the power to abate a nuisance, required no compensation whatsoever, see Mugler v. Kansas, 123 U.S. 623, 668—669 (1887), in sharp contrast to the takings power, which has always required compensation, see supra, at 3, and n. 1. The question whether the State can take property using the power of eminent domain is therefore distinct from the question whether it can regulate property pursuant to the police power. See, e.g., Lucas v. South Carolina Coastal Council, 505 U.S. 1003, 1014 (1992); Mugler, supra, at 668—669. In Berman, for example, if the slums at issue were truly “blighted,” then state nuisance law, see, e.g., supra, at 5—6; Lucas, supra, at 1029, not the power of eminent domain, would provide the appropriate remedy. To construe the Public Use Clause to overlap with the States’ police power conflates these two categories.3

    The “public purpose” test applied by Berman and Midkiff also cannot be applied in principled manner. “When we depart from the natural import of the term ‘public use,’ and substitute for the simple idea of a public possession and occupation, that of public utility, public interest, common benefit, general advantage or convenience … we are afloat without any certain principle to guide us.” Bloodgood v. Mohawk & Hudson R. Co., 18 Wend. 9, 60—61 (NY 1837) (opinion of Tracy, Sen.). Once one permits takings for public purposes in addition to public uses, no coherent principle limits what could constitute a valid public use—at least, none beyond Justice O’Connor’s (entirely proper) appeal to the text of the Constitution itself. See ante, at 1—2, 8—13 (dissenting opinion). I share the Court’s skepticism about a public use standard that requires courts to second-guess the policy wisdom of public works projects. Ante, at 16—19. The “public purpose” standard this Court has adopted, however, demands the use of such judgment, for the Court concedes that the Public Use Clause would forbid a purely private taking. Ante, at 7—8. It is difficult to imagine how a court could find that a taking was purely private except by determining that the taking did not, in fact, rationally advance the public interest. Cf. ante, at 9—10 (O’Connor, J., dissenting) (noting the complicated inquiry the Court’s test requires). The Court is therefore wrong to criticize the “actual use” test as “difficult to administer.” Ante, at 8. It is far easier to analyze whether the government owns or the public has a legal right to use the taken property than to ask whether the taking has a “purely private purpose”—unless the Court means to eliminate public use scrutiny of takings entirely. Ante, at 7—8, 16—17. Obliterating a provision of the Constitution, of course, guarantees that it will not be misapplied.

    For all these reasons, I would revisit our Public Use Clause cases and consider returning to the original meaning of the Public Use Clause: that the government may take property only if it actually uses or gives the public a legal right to use the property.


    The consequences of today’s decision are not difficult to predict, and promise to be harmful. So-called “urban renewal” programs provide some compensation for the properties they take, but no compensation is possible for the subjective value of these lands to the individuals displaced and the indignity inflicted by uprooting them from their homes. Allowing the government to take property solely for public purposes is bad enough, but extending the concept of public purpose to encompass any economically beneficial goal guarantees that these losses will fall disproportionately on poor communities. Those communities are not only systematically less likely to put their lands to the highest and best social use, but are also the least politically powerful. If ever there were justification for intrusive judicial review of constitutional provisions that protect “discrete and insular minorities,” United States v. Carolene Products Co., 304 U.S. 144, 152, n. 4 (1938), surely that principle would apply with great force to the powerless groups and individuals the Public Use Clause protects. The deferential standard this Court has adopted for the Public Use Clause is therefore deeply perverse. It encourages “those citizens with dis-
proportionate influence and power in the political pro-
cess, including large corporations and development
firms” to victimize the weak. Ante, at 11 (O’Connor, J., dissenting).

    Those incentives have made the legacy of this Court’s “public purpose” test an unhappy one. In the 1950’s, no doubt emboldened in part by the expansive understanding of “public use” this Court adopted in Berman, cities “rushed to draw plans” for downtown development. B. Frieden & L. Sagalayn, Downtown, Inc. How America Rebuilds Cities 17 (1989). “Of all the families displaced by urban renewal from 1949 through 1963, 63 percent of those whose race was known were nonwhite, and of these families, 56 percent of nonwhites and 38 percent of whites had incomes low enough to qualify for public housing, which, however, was seldom available to them.” Id., at 28. Public works projects in the 1950’s and 1960’s destroyed predominantly minority communities in St. Paul, Minnesota, and Baltimore, Maryland. Id., at 28—29. In 1981, urban planners in Detroit, Michigan, uprooted the largely “lower-income and elderly” Poletown neighborhood for the benefit of the General Motors Corporation. J. Wylie, Poletown: Community Betrayed 58 (1989). Urban renewal projects have long been associated with the displacement of blacks; “n cities across the country, urban renewal came to be known as ‘Negro removal.’ ” Pritchett, The “Public Menace” of Blight: Urban Renewal and the Private Uses of Eminent Domain, 21 Yale L. & Pol’y Rev. 1, 47 (2003). Over 97 percent of the individuals forcibly removed from their homes by the “slum-clearance” project upheld by this Court in Berman were black. 348 U.S., at 30. Regrettably, the predictable consequence of the Court’s decision will be to exacerbate these effects.
    The Court relies almost exclusively on this Court’s prior cases to derive today’s far-reaching, and dangerous, result. See ante, at 8—12. But the principles this Court should employ to dispose of this case are found in the Public Use Clause itself, not in Justice Peckham’s high opinion of reclamation laws, see supra, at 11. When faced with a clash of constitutional principle and a line of unreasoned cases wholly divorced from the text, history, and structure of our founding document, we should not hesitate to resolve the tension in favor of the Constitution’s original meaning. For the reasons I have given, and for the reasons given in Justice O’Connor’s dissent, the conflict of principle raised by this boundless use of the eminent domain power should be resolved in petitioners’ favor. I would reverse the judgment of the Connecticut Supreme Court.


1.  Some state constitutions at the time of the founding lacked just compensation clauses and took property even without providing compensation. See Lucas v. South Carolina Coastal Council, 505 U.S. 1003, 1056—1057 (1992) (Blackmun, J., dissenting). The Framers of the Fifth Amendment apparently disagreed, for they expressly prohibited uncompensated takings, and the Fifth Amendment was not incorporated against the States until much later. See id., at 1028, n. 15.

2.  Compare ante, at 8, and n. 8 (majority opinion) (noting that some state courts upheld the validity of applying the Mill Acts to private purposes and arguing that the “ ‘use by the public’ test” “eroded over time”), with, e.g., Ryerson v. Brown, 35 Mich. 333, 338—339 (1877) (holding it “essential” to the constitutionality of a Mill Act “that the statute should require the use to be public in fact; in other words, that it should contain provisions entitling the public to accommodations”); Gaylord v. Sanitary Dist. of Chicago, 204 Ill. 576, 581—584, 68 N. E. 522, 524 (1903) (same); Tyler v. Beacher, 44 Vt. 648, 652—656 (1871) (same); Sadler v. Langham, 34 Ala. 311, 332—334 (1859) (striking down taking for purely private road and grist mill); Varner v. Martin, 21 W. Va. 534, 546—548, 556—557, 566—567 (1883) (grist mill and private road had to be open to public for them to constitute public use); Harding v. Goodlett, 3 Yerg. 41, 53 (1832); Jacobs v. Clearview Water Supply Co., 220 Pa. 388, 393—395, 69 A. 870, 872 (1908) (endorsing actual public use standard); Minnesota Canal & Power Co. v. Koochiching Co., 97 Minn. 429, 449—451, 107 N. W. 405, 413 (1906) (same); Chesapeake Stone Co. v. Moreland, 126 Ky. 656, 663—667, 104 S. W. 762, 765 (Ct. App. 1907) (same); Note, Public Use in Eminent Domain, 21 N. Y. U. L. Q. Rev. 285, 286, and n. 11 (1946) (calling the actual public use standard the “majority view” and citing other cases).

3.  Some States also promoted the alienability of property by abolishing the feudal “quit rent” system, i.e., long-term leases under which the proprietor reserved to himself the right to perpetual payment of rents from his tenant. See Vance, The Quest for Tenure in the United States, 33 Yale L. J. 248, 256—257, 260—263 (1923). In Hawaii Housing Authority v. Midkiff, 467 U.S. 229 (1984), the Court cited those state policies favoring the alienability of land as evidence that the government’s eminent domain power was similarly expansive, see id., at 241—242, and n. 5. But they were uses of the States’ regulatory power, not the takings power, and therefore were irrelevant to the issue in Midkiff. This mismatch underscores the error of conflating a State’s regulatory power with its taking power.
5773  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Legal issues on: September 08, 2008, 09:49:55 PM
JDN: "As for Justices, perhaps I was too harsh on Thomas, but I do not think he has the intellect of the others".

Still no examples.  I strongly disagree and challenge you / others again to illustrate this often stated assertion.  He doesn't ask questions of the lawyers who appear but he reads the briefs and writes opinions with wisdom and constitutional discipline like almost no one else IMO.

EXAMPLE: Kelo v. New London.  The worst decision in recent memory destroying private property rights by allowing local governments to take private property for what THEY deem to be better private property purposes.  Thomas wrote the strongest opinion opposing it.

Thomas' opinion follows. He goes beyond the dissent of Sandra Day O'Connor and argues very persuasively the original meaning of the public use in the takings restrictions clause.  I watched his confirmation hearings and his intellect held up very well especially as compared to the Senators in the room.  - Doug

(aside: JDN, I didn't know you play squash. Maybe we have another way of settling this...)
Thomas, J., dissenting


No. 04—108

[June 23, 2005]

    Justice Thomas, dissenting.

    Long ago, William Blackstone wrote that “the law of the land … postpones even public necessity to the sacred and inviolable rights of private property.” 1 Commentaries on the Laws of England 134—135 (1765) (hereinafter Blackstone). The Framers embodied that principle in the Constitution, allowing the government to take property not for “public necessity,” but instead for “public use.” Amdt. 5. Defying this understanding, the Court replaces the Public Use Clause with a “ ‘[P]ublic [P]urpose’ ” Clause, ante, at 9—10 (or perhaps the “Diverse and Always Evolving Needs of Society” Clause, ante, at 8 (capitalization added)), a restriction that is satisfied, the Court instructs, so long as the purpose is “legitimate” and the means “not irrational,” ante, at 17 (internal quotation marks omitted). This deferential shift in phraseology enables the Court to hold, against all common sense, that a costly urban-renewal project whose stated purpose is a vague promise of new jobs and increased tax revenue, but which is also suspiciously agreeable to the Pfizer Corporation, is for a “public use.”

    I cannot agree. If such “economic development” takings are for a “public use,” any taking is, and the Court has erased the Public Use Clause from our Constitution, as Justice O’Connor powerfully argues in dissent. Ante, at 1—2, 8—13. I do not believe that this Court can eliminate liberties expressly enumerated in the Constitution and therefore join her dissenting opinion. Regrettably, however, the Court’s error runs deeper than this. Today’s decision is simply the latest in a string of our cases construing the Public Use Clause to be a virtual nullity, without the slightest nod to its original meaning. In my view, the Public Use Clause, originally understood, is a meaningful limit on the government’s eminent domain power. Our cases have strayed from the Clause’s original meaning, and I would reconsider them.
I.     The Fifth Amendment provides:

“No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb, nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process, of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.” (Emphasis added.)

It is the last of these liberties, the Takings Clause, that is at issue in this case. In my view, it is “imperative that the Court maintain absolute fidelity to” the Clause’s express limit on the power of the government over the individual, no less than with every other liberty expressly enumerated in the Fifth Amendment or the Bill of Rights more generally. Shepard v. United States, 544 U.S. ___, ___ (2005) (slip op., at 2) (Thomas, J., concurring in part and concurring in judgment) (internal quotation marks omitted).

    Though one component of the protection provided by the Takings Clause is that the government can take private property only if it provides “just compensation” for the taking, the Takings Clause also prohibits the government from taking property except “for public use.” Were it otherwise, the Takings Clause would either be meaningless or empty. If the Public Use Clause served no function other than to state that the government may take property through its eminent domain power–for public or private uses–then it would be surplusage. See ante, at 3—4 (O’Connor, J., dissenting); see also Marbury v. Madison, 1 Cranch 137, 174 (1803) (“It cannot be presumed that any clause in the constitution is intended to be without effect”); Myers v. United States, 272 U.S. 52, 151 (1926). Alternatively, the Clause could distinguish those takings that require compensation from those that do not. That interpretation, however, “would permit private property to be taken or appropriated for private use without any compensation whatever.” Cole v. La Grange, 113 U.S. 1, 8 (1885) (interpreting same language in the Missouri Public Use Clause). In other words, the Clause would require the government to compensate for takings done “for public use,” leaving it free to take property for purely private uses without the payment of compensation. This would contradict a bedrock principle well established by the time of the founding: that all takings required the payment of compensation. 1 Blackstone 135; 2 J. Kent, Commentaries on American Law 275 (1827) (hereinafter Kent); J. Madison, for the National Property Gazette, (Mar. 27, 1792), in 14 Papers of James Madison 266, 267 (R. Rutland et al. eds. 1983) (arguing that no property “shall be taken directly even for public use without indemnification to the owner”).1 The Public Use Clause, like the Just Compensation Clause, is therefore an express limit on the government’s power of eminent domain.

    The most natural reading of the Clause is that it allows the government to take property only if the government owns, or the public has a legal right to use, the property, as opposed to taking it for any public purpose or necessity whatsoever. At the time of the founding, dictionaries primarily defined the noun “use” as “[t]he act of employing any thing to any purpose.” 2 S. Johnson, A Dictionary of the English Language 2194 (4th ed. 1773) (hereinafter Johnson). The term “use,” moreover, “is from the Latin utor, which means ‘to use, make use of, avail one’s self of, employ, apply, enjoy, etc.” J. Lewis, Law of Eminent Domain §165, p. 224, n. 4 (1888) (hereinafter Lewis). When the government takes property and gives it to a private individual, and the public has no right to use the property, it strains language to say that the public is “employing” the property, regardless of the incidental benefits that might accrue to the public from the private use. The term “public use,” then, means that either the government or its citizens as a whole must actually “employ” the taken property. See id., at 223 (reviewing founding-era dictionaries).

    Granted, another sense of the word “use” was broader in meaning, extending to “[c]onvenience” or “help,” or “[q]ualities that make a thing proper for any purpose.” 2 Johnson 2194. Nevertheless, read in context, the term “public use” possesses the narrower meaning. Elsewhere, the Constitution twice employs the word “use,” both times in its narrower sense. Claeys, Public-Use Limitations and Natural Property Rights, 2004 Mich. St. L. Rev. 877, 897 (hereinafter Public Use Limitations). Article 1, §10 provides that “the net Produce of all Duties and Imposts, laid by any State on Imports or Exports, shall be for the Use of the Treasury of the United States,” meaning the Treasury itself will control the taxes, not use it to any beneficial end. And Article I, §8 grants Congress power “[t]o raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years.” Here again, “use” means “employed to raise and support Armies,” not anything directed to achieving any military end. The same word in the Public Use Clause should be interpreted to have the same meaning.

    Tellingly, the phrase “public use” contrasts with the very different phrase “general Welfare” used elsewhere in the Constitution. See ibid. (“Congress shall have Power To … provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States”); preamble (Constitution established “to promote the general Welfare”). The Framers would have used some such broader term if they had meant the Public Use Clause to have a similarly sweeping scope. Other founding-era documents made the contrast between these two usages still more explicit. See Sales, Classical Republicanism and the Fifth Amendment’s “Public Use” Requirement, 49 Duke L. J. 339, 368 (2000) (hereinafter Sales) (noting contrast between, on the one hand, the term “public use” used by 6 of the first 13 States and, on the other, the terms “public exigencies” employed in the Massachusetts Bill of Rights and the Northwest Ordinance, and the term “public necessity” used in the Vermont Constitution of 1786). The Constitution’s text, in short, suggests that the Takings Clause authorizes the taking of property only if the public has a right to employ it, not if the public realizes any conceivable benefit from the taking.

    The Constitution’s common-law background reinforces this understanding. The common law provided an express method of eliminating uses of land that adversely impacted the public welfare: nuisance law. Blackstone and Kent, for instance, both carefully distinguished the law of nuisance from the power of eminent domain. Compare 1 Blackstone 135 (noting government’s power to take private property with compensation), with 3 id., at 216 (noting action to remedy “public …nuisances, which affect the public and are an annoyance to all the king’s subjects”); see also 2 Kent 274—276 (distinguishing the two). Blackstone rejected the idea that private property could be taken solely for purposes of any public benefit. “So great … is the regard of the law for private property,” he explained, “that it will not authorize the least violation of it; no, not even for the general good of the whole community.” 1 Blackstone 135. He continued: “If a new road … were to be made through the grounds of a private person, it might perhaps be extensively beneficial to the public; but the law permits no man, or set of men, to do this without the consent of the owner of the land.” Ibid. Only “by giving [the landowner] full indemnification” could the government take property, and even then “[t]he public [was] now considered as an individual, treating with an individual for an exchange.” Ibid. When the public took property, in other words, it took it as an individual buying property from another typically would: for one’s own use. The Public Use Clause, in short, embodied the Framers’ understanding that property is a natural, fundamental right, prohibiting the government from “tak[ing] property from A. and giv[ing] it to B.” Calder v. Bull, 3 Dall. 386, 388 (1798); see also Wilkinson v. Leland, 2 Pet. 627, 658 (1829); Vanhorne’s Lessee v. Dorrance, 2 Dall. 304, 311 (CC Pa. 1795).

    The public purpose interpretation of the Public Use Clause also unnecessarily duplicates a similar inquiry required by the Necessary and Proper Clause. The Takings Clause is a prohibition, not a grant of power: The Constitution does not expressly grant the Federal Government the power to take property for any public purpose whatsoever. Instead, the Government may take property only when necessary and proper to the exercise of an expressly enumerated power. See Kohl v. United States, 91 U.S. 367, 371—372 (1876) (noting Federal Government’s power under the Necessary and Proper Clause to take property “needed for forts, armories, and arsenals, for navy-yards and light-houses, for custom-houses, post-offices, and court-houses, and for other public uses”). For a law to be within the Necessary and Proper Clause, as I have elsewhere explained, it must bear an “obvious, simple, and direct relation” to an exercise of Congress’ enumerated powers, Sabri v. United States, 541 U.S. 600, 613 (2004) (Thomas, J., concurring in judgment), and it must not “subvert basic principles of” constitutional design, Gonzales v. Raich, ante, at __ (Thomas, J., dissenting). In other words, a taking is permissible under the Necessary and Proper Clause only if it serves a valid public purpose. Interpreting the Public Use Clause likewise to limit the government to take property only for sufficiently public purposes replicates this inquiry. If this is all the Clause means, it is, once again, surplusage. See supra, at 3. The Clause is thus most naturally read to concern whether the property is used by the public or the government, not whether the purpose of the taking is legitimately public.


Early American eminent domain practice largely bears out this understanding of the Public Use Clause. This practice concerns state limits on eminent domain power, not the Fifth Amendment, since it was not until the late 19th century that the Federal Government began to use the power of eminent domain, and since the Takings Clause did not even arguably limit state power until after the passage of the Fourteenth Amendment. See Note, The Public Use Limitation on Eminent Domain: An Advance Requiem, 58 Yale L. J. 599, 599—600, and nn. 3—4 (1949); Barron ex rel. Tiernan v. Mayor of Baltimore, 7 Pet. 243, 250—251 (1833) (holding the Takings Clause inapplicable to the States of its own force). Nevertheless, several early state constitutions at the time of the founding likewise limited the power of eminent domain to “public uses.” See Sales 367—369, and n. 137 (emphasis deleted). Their practices therefore shed light on the original meaning of the same words contained in the Public Use Clause.

    States employed the eminent domain power to provide quintessentially public goods, such as public roads, toll roads, ferries, canals, railroads, and public parks. Lewis §§166, 168—171, 175, at 227—228, 234—241, 243. Though use of the eminent domain power was sparse at the time of the founding, many States did have so-called Mill Acts, which authorized the owners of grist mills operated by water power to flood upstream lands with the payment of compensation to the upstream landowner. See, e.g., id., §178, at 245—246; Head v. Amoskeag Mfg. Co., 113 U.S. 9, 16—19, and n. (1885). Those early grist mills “were regulated by law and compelled to serve the public for a stipulated toll and in regular order,” and therefore were actually used by the public. Lewis §178, at 246, and n. 3; see also Head, supra, at 18—19. They were common carriers–quasi-public entities. These were “public uses” in the fullest sense of the word, because the public could legally use and benefit from them equally. See Public Use Limitations 903 (common-carrier status traditionally afforded to “private beneficiaries of a state franchise or another form of state monopoly, or to companies that operated in conditions of natural monopoly”).

    To be sure, some early state legislatures tested the limits of their state-law eminent domain power. Some States enacted statutes allowing the taking of property for the purpose of building private roads. See Lewis §167, at 230. These statutes were mixed; some required the private landowner to keep the road open to the public, and others did not. See id., §167, at 230—234. Later in the 19th century, moreover, the Mill Acts were employed to grant rights to private manufacturing plants, in addition to grist mills that had common-carrier duties. See, e.g., M. Horwitz, The Transformation of American Law 1780—1860, pp. 51—52 (1977).

    These early uses of the eminent domain power are often cited as evidence for the broad “public purpose” interpretation of the Public Use Clause, see, e.g., ante, at 8, n. 8 (majority opinion); Brief for Respondents 30; Brief for American Planning Assn. et al. as Amici Curiae at 6—7, but in fact the constitutionality of these exercises of eminent domain power under state public use restrictions was a hotly contested question in state courts throughout the 19th and into the 20th century. Some courts construed those clauses to authorize takings for public purposes, but others adhered to the natural meaning of “public use.”2 As noted above, the earliest Mill Acts were applied to entities with duties to remain open to the public, and their later extension is not deeply probative of whether that subsequent practice is consistent with the original meaning of the Public Use Clause. See McIntyre v. Ohio Elections Comm’n, 514 U.S. 334, 370 (1995) (Thomas, J., concurring in judgment). At the time of the founding, “business corporations were only beginning to upset the old corporate model, in which the raison d’ętre of chartered associations was their service to the public,” Horwitz, supra, at 49—50, so it was natural to those who framed the first Public Use Clauses to think of mills as inherently public entities. The disagreement among state courts, and state legislatures’ attempts to circumvent public use limits on their eminent domain power, cannot obscure that the Public Use Clause is most naturally read to authorize takings for public use only if the government or the public actually uses the taken property.

(opinion didn't fit, continued in next post)
5774  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Palin phenomenon on: September 08, 2008, 11:01:17 AM
Even if she fails miserably and becomes a trivia question in history, I think she has already earned her own DB topic.  smiley

One network host is up in arms that Palin isn't doing interviews her first minute on the ticket while another ABC is sending Charlie Gibson to Alaska this week for an interview.  I agree with protecting her a little at first from the wolves as she will get plenty of exposure including the VP debate.  My free advice is that they should offer her for an extra debate, Palin v. Barack Obama, one on one, anytime/any place, and find out quickly which side is more afraid of their next gaffe. 

If you want to preview for the VP debate you can see a Gubernatorial debate from 2006 on C-Span at  Unlike her current opponent, she makes her point clearly and then stops talking. The woman has talent.
5775  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Pathological Science on: September 08, 2008, 10:22:26 AM
Great post BBG. Dr. Hansen may be a scientist, but mainly serves as a politician and a bureaucrat. He represents the Bush administration and abhors it.  He should have been fired for his politics.  Problem was that the administration could not have removed him without looking like they are the ones being political.  So instead we let warming over-hype run its course at taxpayer expense.  These scientists can't remove agenda and funding from data IMO.

I'm curious, what does he mean specifically by: "I think that we also need to look at next-generation nuclear power".  His wording indicates that he prefers wait over build.  If he needs "to look" there, why hasn't he been looking there and reporting his conclusions - today!  The sooner we expand our power grid, the sooner other uses can be plugged in, such as transportation or heating.

Nuclear is fairly unique for having zero CO2 emissions and such a large scale capacityl.  No new plants approved since 1978?  That's before Al Gore's first book.  From what I can find, next generation nuclear means building smaller, safer, lower power intensity, gas cooled reactors.  That's fine with me.  Let's go.  But what does it have to do with opposing clean coal?
5776  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: September 07, 2008, 01:32:53 PM
responding to JDN's points but writing to all ( or none?):  I challenge you or anyone to post and rebut ANY written opinion on the supreme court from Justice Thomas that makes you think he is not up to the job.  Without an example or a pattern, that sounded too much like an Obama talking point and Obama also did not provide one example.  My point was not just the vote on an opposing party's appointment, it was that the conduct of the hearings was a disgrace (IMO) and that the leadership lacking came from the chair. Regarding votes on nominees, I would point out that Obama was one of the 22 furthest to the left in opposing confirmation Chief Justice John Roberts, a very competent opposing party appointment IMO.  Is Roberts also not "up to the job"?

Age discrimination: I very rarely support ANY rule where government tells private companies how to run their business, but certainly there is a difference between retirement according to a consensual contract with a fat golden compensation package and the issue of not hiring a qualified applicant.  Our personal experiences are obviously VERY different on age.  Some of the people I admire most in the world right now are a decade older than McCain.  I would more likely question Obama as too young and too new.  The Palin situation is slightly different because she MIGHT serve suddenly as President, but she  is running for 2nd position.  Assuming, and I don't, that McCain dies or retires later in his term or more likely declines to run for a second term, she will have new experience gained because of her selection, just as Obama would have more experience running for a second term that he doesn't have now.

JDN, thanks for your honest, candid views.  FWIW, if you read deeper in these threads you will see that I didn't support McCain and I didn't favor the Palin appointment before it was made.  I just prefer this ticket at this time presented with these choices. 
5777  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: September 07, 2008, 12:53:19 PM
Crafty: "What do we make of the following?" - The first part seems like terrible news, a border crossing closed that is essential for NATO supply lines.  Reminds me of Turkey blocking us late in the planning of operation Iraqi freedom. Also a threat of retaliation for any American attack.

Far more importantly, the piece ends with this mention in passing:

"The US has conducted an unprecedented air campaign over the past week in North and South Waziristan. The US has conducted five cross-border attacks inside Pakistan since Aug 31. Three of the strikes occurred in North Waziristan, and two in South Waziristan.  The US has stepped up its attacks against al Qaeda and the Taliban's networks inside Pakistan over the past year. There have been 13 confirmed cross-border attacks by the US in Pakistan this year. Five safe houses have been hit in North Waziristan, six have been hit in South Waziristan, and two have been targeted in Bajaur this year. The most controversial strike involved special operations teams inserted by helicopters in a village in South Waziristan just one mile from the Afghan border on Sept. 3."

From a 'war on terror' standpoint, this is GREAT news.  This administration can't communicate or articulate (on anything) and likely has limitations on what can or should be said while a serious operation is in progress, but this information would indicate that a) we are getting specific intelligence, b) we are acting militarily on it, not limited by the border or politics, and c) we are taking these risks in hot pursuit of a successful outcome.

Killing or capturing bin Laden and his top liutenants would not be the end of our security problems, but it would be another important milestone, sending a signal to potential enemies and to our so-called allies about who is winning and who is losing in this costly effort.
5778  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: September 06, 2008, 10:45:25 PM
JDN, I appreciate having different views posted.  From my viewpoint, Biden presided over the Bork and Clarence Thomas, two of the worst chapters of phoniness and character assassination in our history and was wrong twice on Iraq - by his own judgment.  Not the new harmony or leadership Obama claimed he would bring.

Since it is an opinion board I must say that I have a hard time holding against McCain the years he wasted in N. Vietnam while I frolicked in freedom.  Maybe he should have run 5 1/2 years sooner, but he was detained.

Curious, would you repeal other laws about age discrimination or just make this exception? smiley  - Doug
5779  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race - Biden on: September 06, 2008, 09:23:43 PM
The Biden pick:  Before the pick and before the final short list I tried hard to think of a Democrat with perceived 'gravitas' and perhaps foreign policy experience that could fill his ticket.  Shallow bench.  They really had to have served in the Clinton administration or settle for one of the second-guessers from the foreign relations committee.  I thought of Madeline Halfbright but I don't think she is eligible.  Sandy Burglar, but the docs in the boxers was for sure a deal-killer.  Not exactly foreign policy experience, but I recalled that Clinton had a pretty well respected Treasury Secretary from the private sector.  Came up with the name Robert Rubin, looked him up on Wikipedia to find out he was older than McCain [correction: similar in age to McCain].  That wouldn't work.  I still couldn't take seriously the idea that the dream--hope-change ticket would have Joe Biden on it.  I assume that he was the neutral choice for Obama, not to enhance his ticket but for the party faithful across the board to accept without revolt.

Questioning Biden's experience, I LOVE this piece by Thomas Sowell from last week:

"The difference between being a spectator and being a participant, with responsibility for the consequences of what you say and do, is fundamental."

Foreign Policy "Experience"
by Thomas Sowell, Sept. 3, 2008

Now that the Democrats have recovered from the shock of Governor Sarah Palin's nomination as the Republican's candidate for vice president, they have suddenly discovered that her lack of experience in general-- and foreign policy experience in particular-- is a terrible danger in someone just a heartbeat away from being President of the United States.

For those who are satisfied with talking points, there is no need to go any further. But, for those who still consider substance relevant, this is an incredible argument coming from those whose presidential candidate has even less experience in public office than Sarah Palin, and none in foreign policy.

Moreover, if Senator Barack Obama is elected, he will not be a heartbeat away from the presidency, his would be the heartbeat of the president-- and he would be the one making foreign policy.

But the big talking point is that the Democrats' vice-presidential nominee, Senator Joe Biden, has years of foreign policy experience as a member, and now chairman, of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

That all depends on what the definition of "experience" is.

Before getting into that, however, a plain fact should be noted: No governor ever had foreign policy experience before becoming president-- not Ronald Reagan, not Franklin D. Roosevelt, nor any other governor.

It is hard to know how many people could possibly have had foreign policy experience before reaching the White House besides a Secretary of State or a Secretary of Defense.

The last Secretary of War (the old title of Secretaries of Defense) to later become President of the United States was William Howard Taft, a hundred years ago. The last Secretary of State to become President of the United States was James Buchanan, a century and a half ago.

The first President Bush had been head of the C.I.A., which certainly gave him a lot of knowledge of what was happening around the world, though still not experience in making the country's foreign policy.

Senator Joe Biden's years of service on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is even further removed from foreign policy experience. He has had a front-row seat as an observer of foreign policy. But Senator Biden has never had any real experience of making foreign policy and taking the consequences of the results.

The difference between being a spectator and being a participant, with responsibility for the consequences of what you say and do, is fundamental.

You can read books about crime or attend lectures by criminologists, but you have no real experience or expertise about crime unless you have been a criminal or a policeman.

Although I served in the Marine Corps, I have no military experience in any meaningful sense. The closest I ever came to combat was being assigned to photograph the maneuvers of the Second Marine Division at Camp Lejeune, N.C.

That was photographic experience, not military experience. If someone gave me a policy-making job in the Pentagon, I wouldn't have a clue.

The fact that Senator Joe Biden has for years listened to all sorts of people testify on all sorts of foreign policy issues tells us nothing about how well he understood the issues.

Out of the four presidential and vice-presidential candidates this year, only Governor Palin has had to make executive decisions and live with the consequences.

As for Senator Obama, his various pronouncements on foreign policy have been as immature as they have been presumptuous.

He talked publicly about taking military action against Pakistan, one of our few Islamic allies and a nation with nuclear weapons.

Barack Obama's first response to the Russian invasion of Georgia was to urge "all sides" to negotiate a cease-fire and take their issues to the United Nations. That is standard liberal talk, which even Obama had second thoughts about, after Senator John McCain gave a more grown-up response.

We should all have second thoughts about what is, and is not, foreign policy "experience."
5780  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Pathological Science on: September 06, 2008, 05:46:19 PM
Guinness,  Thanks for the excellent post from Wm Briggs. I wasn't aware of his work. Just looking at the graph it is easy to see how any (crooked) statistician could measure temperature from a trough in the late 1800s or a peak in the early 1600s and (falsely) declare significant amounts of warming or cooling over an extended period.  They not only filter the data statistically, but they also tweak the actual temp data collected with secret algorithms that are written and changed by mortals with biases. 
By my calculation, the sea level at the beach in Florida or southern California goes up and down more in a day than it does in a century.  I'm glad that scientists study it all and offer their judgments, but not on my dime.
5781  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: September 06, 2008, 05:20:11 PM
" if BO had won [with Hillary], he would have been but one of three presidents"

Barack in his quiet wisdom may know that part of the Obama phenomenon was really anti-Hillary, anti-Clinton excitement - to win WITHOUT these weaseling triangulators.  On that theory, the combined Hillary and Obama forces are not additive, but partially canceling.  With her on the ticket he might or might not lock in Hillary voters but certainly would alienate parts of the grass roots far left.

The food taster comment is very funny but Clintonistas in the White House would always have the power of the leak to undermine Obama. 

My thought is that he would lose his entire image by having the old guard share the stage, removing the mystique of amazing new leadership and a complete break with the past.  Instead he chose Washington consummate insider Joe Biden. Lol.
5782  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rant, energy and geopolitics on: September 05, 2008, 11:07:39 AM
A political rant-  I hate to over simplify, but isn't nearly the whole Russian problem rooted in the distortions of energy prices and the Russian hold over Europe, Turkey, Ukraine, Georgia, etc.?  Same for Iran and others.  If energy was legal, affordable and plentiful, wouldn't these rogue economies have to actually produce something else to make money and then be too busy in their enterprises to blow us up or invade their neighbors?  Same for the slowness in the American economy.  Other than high taxes, over-regulation and government messing up heathcare and other markets, aren't energy prices the main drag on the economy right now?

Several people here wanted Newt leading the ticket and that didn't fly but he hit the nail on the head with "Drill here, drill now, pay less" Even that is oversimplified because we need ALL forms of energy.  We need to build nuclear plants here, now, if we plan to plug in a significant part of our transportation system soon.  Natural gas is back in the discussion. Natural gas from the ground, natural gas from coal, I don't care if it comes from the cows. It's a great fuel, let's go.  Legalize production.  Find ways.  Get government back in the business of ensuring public safety, not blocking production.

And what's up with burning food to produce energy and then the bewilderment when we discover food prices went up and hit the poorest people hardest.  What kind of 'liberal' policy is that?  I just drove through Iowa and Nebraska to get to Colorado.  The government punishes you heavily to drive your car but makes you use taxpayer money and government mandates to put destroyed food (ethanol) in your tank.  The Iowa primary is over.  Can't the adults agree soon that this policy is horrible???

Of course one of the reasons for the stall in energy production was the confusion created over global warming.  It reminds me of the Y2K scare.  Did you all survive that one? lol. Up here in 'hockey mom' country (MN) I just put away all my air conditioners, none were used at all this summer while the winter was one of the longest and coldest in recent years.  Try fact checking the oceans rising allegation and see if anything definitive jumps out.  Looks to me like 20cm in 120 years with zero acceleration.  Where the arctic ice is melting the sea level is actually falling.  Hmmm...

Speaking of hockey moms, at the hockey arenas in the parking lots you can often count 15-20 SUV's or light trucks in a row before you see a sedan, much less a tiny car.  The reason is because hockey driving involves carrying people and hockey bags with lots of equipment, often through snow and ice, and the people involved typically have other hobbies that involve liberties beyond the liberal vision of federally funded trolley car trains to government approved, clustered home developments. 

End this rant with a hope that McCain's selection of the energy governor gives him cover to flop his anti-ANWR position and the hope that she can use that distinction to circle Sen. Biden in the debate, on domestic AND foreign policy.  If she gets a word in edgewise.  JMHO.
5783  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: September 05, 2008, 10:04:33 AM
3 times during the speech I called my daughter in to 'make' her watch because she will be voting next time and 3 times I said skip it because no clarity was being given at the time to any important issue.  Seemed like an NFL coach thanking everyone who made it possible to be only 2 touchdowns (house and senate) and a field goal behind coming into halftime. 
5784  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: September 05, 2008, 12:36:12 AM
"A real snore of a speech tonight from McCain. "

He is trying to recapture the enthusiasm of Bob Dole's '96 campaign.  It looks hard for middle of the roaders to get specific or passionate about their principles. 
5785  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race, heroes and that 'VP thing' on: September 04, 2008, 12:18:35 PM
Sarah Palin knocked my socks off FWIW.  For my money she is the next Reagan.  She is an unapologetic conservative able to explain that view (my view) in simple and direct terms.  I wish McCain had that quality and wish the other side ran as unapologetic liberals instead of sneaky ones who conceal the extent of their liberalism behind centrist rhetoric.

Re. the discussion on heroes:  I gave this some thought when people said nice things about me for rescuing my daughter as a baby.  When you climb through harm's way to save yourself or save your own family, you are just a normal living thing or a normal parent with a normal survival instinct.  Not a hero.  But when you enter a burning building for example to rescue your neighbor's children, then you are a hero.  Maybe a few firefighters or fighter pilots are there for non-heroic reasons, but in my view, most anyone like a McCain who served his country, risked his own life, flew a plane into enemy air space performing a mission and held out even a shred of information for more than a second from his enemy captors through even a perceived threat of harm is without a doubt a HERO.  Same goes for people like my father who performed medical rather than combat functions in WWII, maybe not front line but close enough and part of the mission.  They are all heroes.

Back to the RNC. GM I think mentioned humor in the message.  My favorite came from Rudy telling Biden to get it in writing:

"Look at just one example in a lifetime of principled stands -- John McCain's support for the troop surge in Iraq. The Democratic Party had given up on Iraq. And I believe, ladies and gentlemen, that when they gave up on Iraq they were giving up on America. The Democratic leader in the Senate said so: "America has lost."

Well, if America lost, who won? Al Qaida? Bin Laden? In the single biggest policy decision of this election, John McCain got it right and Barack Obama got it wrong.

If Barack Obama had been President, there would have been no troop surge and our troops would have been withdrawn in defeat.

Senator McCain was the candidate most associated with the surge. And it was unpopular.

What do you think most other candidates would have done in that situation? They would have acted in their own self-interest by changing their position.

How many times have we seen Barack Obama do that?

Obama was going to take public financing for his campaign, until he didn't.

Obama was against wiretapping before he voted for it.

When speaking to a pro-Israel group, Obama favored an undivided Jerusalem. Until the very next day when he changed his mind.

I hope for his sake, Joe Biden got that VP thing in writing."
5786  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Death of NATO on: September 02, 2008, 10:15:04 PM
I would add to the thesis below, death of the UN also.

September 1, 2008
Farewell NATO
by Victor Davis Hanson

When I was growing up in the 1960s, we had a majestic Santa Rosa plum orchard on my family's farm. The trees were 40 years old and had grown to over 20 feet high. My grandfather would proudly recall how its once-bumper crops of big, sweet plums had helped him survive the Depression and a postwar fall in agricultural prices.

But by the 1960s, the towering, verdant trees were more a park than a profitable orchard. The aged limbs had grown almost too high to pick, the fruit there too few and too small to pack profitably. Yet my grandfather simply could not bring himself to bulldoze the money-losing, unproductive old orchard.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization is like that noble Santa Rosa orchard. We all remember how NATO once saved Western Europe from the onslaught of global communism. Its success led to the present European Union. The Soviets were kept at bay. The Americans were engaged, while the postwar German colossus remained peaceful. A resurgent Europe followed, secure enough to prosper while complacent enough to slash defense expenditures and expand entitlements.

After the victory of the Cold War, NATO's raison d'etre became more problematic — even as its theoretical reach now went all the way to the old borders of the Soviet Union. Yet, without the Soviet menace that had prompted the alliance, what justified the continued need for transatlantic collective defense?

We saw NATO's paralysis in the European inaction over Serbia's ethnic cleansing in the 1990s. When NATO finally acted to remove Slobodan Milosevic in 1999, the much-criticized intervention proved little more than a de facto American air campaign.

Article 5 of NATO's charter requires its members to come to the aid of any fellow nation that is attacked. But when it was evoked after Sept. 11 for the first time, NATO — other than a few European gestures such as sending surveillance planes to fly above America — didn't risk much abroad to fight Islamic terrorists.

Australia, a non-NATO member, is doing far more to fight the Taliban than either Germany or Spain. Many Western European countries have national directives that prevent aggressive offensives against the Taliban and other Afghan insurgents, overriding NATO military doctrine.

Take away Canada, the United Kingdom and the U.S. from Afghanistan and the collective NATO force would collapse in hours.

The enemy in Afghanistan knows this. The savvy and sinister Taliban just targeted the French contingent. It figured the loss of 10 French soldiers might have a greater demoralizing effect on French public opinion than Verdun did in 1916, when France suffered nearly a half-million casualties in heroically stopping the German advance. But 90 years ago, France kept on fighting to win a war. Now, the French parliament may meet to discuss withdrawal altogether.

There is much talk that had Georgia been a NATO member, Russia might not have attacked it. The truth is far worse. Even if Georgia had belonged to NATO, no European armed forces would have been willing to die for Tbilisi. Remember the furor in 2003 when some NATO countries — angry at the United States — tried to block support to member Turkey should Saddam's Iraq have retaliated against Ankara for the American invasion to remove him.

The well-intended but ossified alliance keeps offering promises to new members that are weaker, poorer and in more dangerous and distant places, but its old smug founding states are ever more unlikely to honor them.

In the last two decades, the safety of a rich Western Europe also spawned a new continental creed of secularism, socialism and anti-Americanism that embraced the untruth that the United Nations kept the peace while the United States endangered it. But if a disarmed continent counted on continued expensive American protection, then it was suicidal to mock its protector.

If NATO dissolves, Europe will at least receive a much-needed reality check. It might even re-learn to invest in its own defense. European relations with America would be more grounded in reality, and the United States could still forge individual ties with countries that wished to be true partners, not loud caricatures of allies.

That stately Santa Rosa orchard? When it finally was toppled, uprooted and cut up, we all nearly wept — but my grandfather had new varieties of plum trees planted in its place by the next spring.
5787  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Russia-Georgia, Turkey, Caucasus on: September 02, 2008, 09:51:23 PM
Denny, Thanks for your wisdom on the situation in Georgia.  A hundred or a thousand ships mean nothing if we are committed to non-intervention.  Whether we look at our failure to rescue Hungary or our difficulties liberating Iraq,  I wish we had the time, resources and resolve to topple more tyrants and give more people a shot at freedom.

What makes many battles impractical IMO is the lack of contribution and sacrifice from other nations.  They seem to feel a resentment of America that is stronger than the offense they take to oppression or aggression.

There is the unarmed, worthless UN where Russia has a permanent veto and there is American unilateralism. There isn't much in between. 
5788  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: September 02, 2008, 09:18:00 PM
The only thing not felonious IMO about Hillary's commodity trading escapades was that the records were hidden until the statute of limitations had expired. Certainly she is entitled to presumption of innocence in a criminal sense, but in a political sense she is shameless felon, one who committed felony without remorse.  That is an opinion based on public information, not a court-proven fact.

If Sen. Obama loses she will be the automatic nominee next time, nearly as certain as she was this time.
5789  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: How McCain Decided on Palin on: August 29, 2008, 08:03:11 PM
Expanding on what CCP wrote - that she was chosen because she is a woman - she was chosen to make the ticket win.  It's extremely ironic IMO to hear the Obama campaign point out her lack of foreign policy experience.

from ABC's Jan Crawford Greenburg

    It wasn't until Sunday night that John McCain, after meeting with his four top advisers, finally decided he could not tap independent Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut to be his running mate. One adviser, tasked with taking the temperature of the conservative base, had strongly made the case to McCain that it would be a disaster for the party and that the base would revolt. McCain concluded he could not go that route.

    The next day, McCain studied the three men at the top of his shortlist: Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge. All had different strengths and negatives, but McCain was not satisfied. None of them had what McCain believed he needed to do -- and would have done -- with Lieberman.

    McCain wanted to shake up the ticket.

    Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's name was in the mix as an unconventional choice for months, but she had not been considered a front-runner. So, over the next few days, with McCain continuing to believe he needed someone who had more of a maverick streak than his other choices, lawyers reviewed her vetting information. They kept their activities from even some in McCain's most senior inner circle....

    The campaign secretly flew Palin into Dayton last night. She and McCain met privately for a couple of hours. McCain concluded she would "shake up the system" and was "a maverick," qualities he believed Lieberman would have brought to the ticket. But she also would appeal to conservatives -- which Lieberman most certainly would not have done.

    After their meeting, McCain concluded he was comfortable with his choice. He notified Pawlenty this morning that he was going in a different direction.
5790  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: August 24, 2008, 04:31:55 PM
Great points made by Scott Grannis on the economic drivel from the NY Times.  Writing corrections to MSM is thankless work but someone needs to do it, and more people need to read it IMO.

There seems to be a demographic trend that family sizes are getting smaller with an aging population and more single households.  Liberals turn that around to say that family incomes are stagnant, cleverly ignoring - as Grannis points out - a 17.5% increase in real, personal, disposable income.  (If two working people marry or divorce, family income is increased by 200% or decreased by 50% but personal income didn't change. They just made different choices.)


Quoting: "As a case in point, Obama's tax proposals are designed to reduce the burden of taxes on the lower and middle class, but they would actually
make things worse for those people because his proposals will sharply
increase marginal tax rates. This will make it much harder for the
poor to get rich, a perfect example of unintended consequences to tax-
rate engineering. See this article for proof, it is really impressive. "

Marc, where he says "See THIS article for proof" I think there was a link in the original that didn't come through.  Please post if you have it.  TIA.
5791  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: McCain on: August 24, 2008, 04:04:43 PM
"Whom do others here think McC should pick?"

I'll leave aside my personal wish for leaders more conservative than the current bunch and go with what we know this election cycle.  I think the pick will be Romney because he has been vetted through the process, because he presents himself well, is extremely bright, competent and well-spoken.  He has good experience and is squeaky clean with no surprises.  He already ran hard this time so he has already pondered most likely questions that could be asked about issues across the globe and across the economy.  He is close enough to McCain on issues compared with any other recent pair.  His previous differences with McCain are nothing compared to the differences they both share with the far left philosophies of the opponents.  His evolved position on abortion etc. is not new, interesting or relevant compared to the baggage that the candidates at the top of both tickets have to deal with.

The Mormon question is a matter for those who want to discriminate to sort out. (Discrimination overall probably hurts Obama more.)  McCain is a Christian and Obama doesn't want focus turned back to the teachings in each other's place of worship.  If Mitt Romney was a recent polygamist or had writings attacking Christianity it would be a problem but that is not the case.

Our governor, Tim Pawlenty, is perhaps second choice.  In a subtle way he is a very good politician with a few accomplishments.  He was on the McCain team early when no one else was, but he is not known nationally, he will not knock your socks off, he does not guarantee McCain even Minnesota much less the region, and there isn't time for everyone to get to know him and come to like him.  The main point is that choosing a new face involves unnecessary risk. Romney has been looked at already.  Choosing him steers the arguments back to the issues and the leadership questions at the top of the tickets.

I don't think anyone on the political right or center doubts that Mitts Romney could step in quickly and competently in a national emergency and serve as President until the next election.  The arguments in the VP debates will be about the positions already set out by McCain and Obama.  Mitt should request no time limit in the debate for Joe Biden to speak.
5792  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Gender issues thread on: August 11, 2008, 10:49:11 PM
My recollection of Larry Summers in his own words is that his questions had more to do with the long term choices of women being less likely to sacrifice family and personal life for decades or an entire career to reach the very top of their technical profession more than he was questioning their aptitude, ability or academic achievement.
5793  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Gender issues thread on: August 11, 2008, 10:29:54 PM
Rachel, adding my two cents here -  My mom is a sort of anti-feminist who earned a degree in Aeronautical Engineering and I noticed very few women in her graduating class from the Institute of Technology in the 1940s.  She says it wasn't from discrimination but from lack of interest from the girls at the time. Thirty years later, my cousin's wife graduated from a technical college and she said they gave free tuition to get girls to go there.  Regarding recent test scores, I find myself pulling for the girls as father of a daughter just entering high school. 

Regarding gender differences and pay differences I don't have the answer but have these suggestions from a public policy point of view: 1) not all observed differences require a 'solution' and 2) not all solutions require government action.
5794  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: August 11, 2008, 10:03:08 PM
"So why don't we: a) Do an Osirak on their nuke capabilities, and b) burn all the opium fields in Afg c) leave them to stew in their own mess?"

I agree with the other comments. A Hail Mary is right but the idea of strikes without further occupation should certainly be on the table. Many lessons come from the Iraq effort.  For me, I question whether the obligation exists to guarantee security after a justified strike.  I would say no.  The rebuild dollars and the human sacrifice to win long term security needs to be with conditions and only where it lines up with our own best interests IMO.  In the case of Iraq, it was broken before we deposed Saddam.  Remember the pre-war the Afghan economy.  George Gilder described it as incapable of manufacturing a flashlight.  Yet they harbored the training facilities to attack us with our own assets and technology. Also, the Afghanistan choices come with the constraint of being part of a coalition. 

An occupation and security guarantee in Pakistan I assume is impossible and leaving nukes in the wrong hands after a coup or shakeup is unthinkable.  Maybe our friends the Indians have a take out plan.
5795  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: August 11, 2008, 06:32:33 PM
CCP,  I share your sentiments about slanted news coverage.  I always regret finding out important facts through right wing sources instead of from my local paper, the evening news or a show like Meet the Press.  For example, I shouldn't have to learn new, relevant facts on the opinion page of the WSJ.  Those should be on page one and not just in the WSJ.

I missed the Sunday shows and was reading transcripts this am.  Even on Fox, Chris Wallace was very hard on Treasury Secretary Paulson, trying to match the other shows.  Assuming Paulson is guilty of something and denying it, then I would understand the tone, but he is OUR (US) treasury secretary and doing his best as far as I know.  It seems that a discussion/interview tone could have worked just fine to get the facts out instead of having 100% of the questions being combative. At least he does that to both sides.
5796  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: McCain on: August 07, 2008, 10:44:20 PM
CCP, Interesting observations on McCain regarding SS taxation.  First on the tax (and this should be in rants)...If social security is an insurance program then the tax and benefit schedule should apply the same to all.  In other words, you shouldn't have to pay premiums beyond some income level if you aren't buying into additional benefits.  Clearly the benefits cap out so the 'liberals' like Obama are saying they are ready to change the system over to a welfare program - unlimited pay-ins with means-tested payouts.  But if we admit SS is a welfare program, then like McCain says, everything is on the table.  Like getting people off the system or partially off and into private accounts.  (That didn't go very well last time.)  If you tax all income eliminating the cap, then the rates could or should be much lower for all. When all people pay the same rate on all income and face an uncertainty about receiving the benefits then maybe more people will consider lowering the rate and shrinking the program, which would be fine with me.  How many productive people have social security as their retirement plan centerpiece?

When you tax to 125k, skip to 250k, then tax to infinity (Obama's SS plan), you have left all logic and ideology IMO and are just targeting a demographic for their prostituted vote.  Does anyone vote on principle anymore?

Back to McCain: "McCain Irks Republicans With Confusion Over Social Security Tax."

McCain has been irking Republicans as a career path for as long as I can remember.  Like Bush Sr., Bob Dole and even 'W', he doesn't really understand or espouse the efficiency advantages or the moral case for low tax rates.  McCain opposed the most recent tax cuts.  Like Democrats, McCain expected revenue losses while revenues in fact surged 44% in 4 years from $1.78 Trillion in 2003 to $2.57 Trillion in 2007. That was a serious miscalculation.

Republicans and conservatives are gathering around McCain with soft support for a number of reasons, such as Obama being the senate's no.1 liberal, strong credentials for the war against jihad and other factors - pro-life, better tax and spend plan than Obama and the importance of the next supreme court picks.  Another factor is that conservatives also show up to vote for other offices and questions.  Here we have a key senate race and open seats for congress, state representative or county commissioner.  Our county commissioner spends more money than 7 or 8 of the smallest states.  It's pretty hard for an opinionated conservative to not show up or to be unable to pick between McCain and Obama.

The McCain plan for conservatives and the Republican plan in picking McCain does not involve a love affair.  McCain annoying his base is an attractive quality to independent voters and working class Democrats that (allegedly) hold the key to victory.

He needs to lay out precise positions but the reality is that he will be working with a Pelosi-Reid congress and none of his good proposals (from my point of view) will become law.  His bad ideas (from my point of view) will be welcomed, celebrated and implemented.

This plays into McCain's hands however in the sense that Obama's serious proposals really will be passed into law for the most part, giving people plenty of reason to fear him and fret the details.  With all the talk about change, conventional wisdom tells us that people generally favor the status quo over the unknown and voters subconsciously choose divided government more often than not.
5797  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Energy Politics, The Drill Nothing Congress on: July 29, 2008, 10:51:35 PM
This week in Washington, House Republicans will try to produce a little political heat from rising energy prices. They will attempt to block Congress from adjourning for its summer recess if Democrats don’t allow an up or down vote on the GOP energy plan, which includes expanded drilling in the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). House procedures -- which heavily favor the majority party -- will allow the Democrats to thwart those efforts, but Republicans can claim the issue: Congress will leave town without an up or down vote on expanded OCS drilling. Republicans hope movement in public opinion in favor of offshore drilling, spurred by record gasoline prices, will produce a new and effective line of political attack.

The GOP hypothesis draws some support in at least one Senate race. Former Republican Congressman Bob Schaffer has made progress in his contest against U.S. Rep. Mark Udall in Colorado, according to the most recent polling. What accounts for the GOP’s recent improvement? It’s gasoline prices – and more specifically, the stark differences between the two candidates on drilling policies. Voters apparently now see a much clearer connection between extreme environmental policies – like banning all offshore drilling – and pain at the pump. The last two independent polls show the race moving from about a 10-point Udall advantage to a near dead heat.

The Rasmussen numbers show a particularly strong shift among swing voters: “Among unaffiliated voters, Udall leads by just four percentage points. A month ago, he held a twenty-one point lead among these voters." You can read the full Rasmussen Colorado poll report here.

This piece in today’s Washington Times underscores how Republican Schaffer has transformed his support for drilling from a political liability to an electoral asset.

Record gasoline prices linked with what House Republican leader John Boehner calls the “Drill Nothing Congress” could fuel the political engines of many Republican congressional candidates this fall.
5798  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: July 17, 2008, 06:56:55 PM
SB,  I agree that Hinderacker's closing remark might have been offered at least partly in jest.  Previous American scandals stipulated, do you have any comment on the points about Obama's Iraq and Afghanistan inconsistencies alleged in the piece?  Back to scandals, who bought and who takes care of Obama's side yard?,0,6186743.story
5799  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Obama Phenomena on: July 15, 2008, 12:43:11 PM
From Thomas Sowell, "Are Facts Obsolete?":

In an election campaign in which not only young liberals, but also some people who are neither young nor liberals, seem absolutely mesmerized by the skilled rhetoric of Barack Obama, facts have receded even further into the background than usual.

As the hypnotic mantra of "change" is repeated endlessly, few people even raise the question of whether what few specifics we hear represent any real change, much less a change for the better.

Raising taxes, increasing government spending and demonizing business? That is straight out of the New Deal of the 1930s.

The New Deal was new then but it is not new now. Moreover, increasing numbers of economists and historians have concluded that New Deal policies are what prolonged the Great Depression.

Putting new restrictions of international trade, in order to save American jobs? That was done by Herbert Hoover, when he signed the Hawley-Smoot tariff when the unemployment rate was 9 percent. The next year the unemployment rate was 16 percent and, before the Great Depression was over, unemployment hit 25 percent.

One of the most naive notions is that politicians are trying to solve the country's problems, just because they say so-- or say so loudly or inspiringly.

Politicians' top priority is to solve their own problem, which is how to get elected and then re-elected. Barack Obama is a politician through and through, even though pretending that he is not is his special strategy to get elected.

Some of his more trusting followers are belatedly discovering that, as he "refines" his position on various issues, now that he has gotten their votes in the Democratic primaries and needs the votes of others in the coming general election.

Perhaps a defining moment in showing Senator Obama's priorities was his declaring, in answer to a question from Charles Gibson, that he was for raising the capital gains tax rate. When Gibson reminded him of the well-documented fact that lower tax rates on capital gains had produced more actual revenue collected from that tax than the higher tax rates had, Obama was unmoved.

The question of how to raise more revenue may be the economic issue but the political issue is whether socking it to "the rich" in the name of "fairness" gains more votes.

Since about half the people in the United States own stocks-- either directly or because their pension funds buy stocks-- socking it to people who earn capital gains is by no means socking it just to "the rich." But, again, that is one of the many facts that don't matter politically.

What matters politically is the image of coming out on the side of "the people" against "the privileged."

If you are a nurse or mechanic who will be depending on your pension to take care of you when you retire-- as Social Security is unlikely to do-- you may not think of yourself as one of the privileged. But unless you connect the dots between capital gains tax rates and your retirement income, you may fall under the spell of the well-honed Obama rhetoric.

Obama is for higher minimum wage rates. Does anyone care what actually happens in countries with higher minimum wage rates? Of course not.

Economists may point to studies done in countries around the world, showing that higher minimum wage rates usually mean higher unemployment rates among lower skilled and less experienced workers.

That's their problem. A politician's problem is how to look like he is for "the poor" and against those who are "exploiting" them. The facts are irrelevant to maintaining that political image.

Nowhere do facts matter less than in foreign policy issues. Nothing is more popular than the notion that you can deal with dangers from other nations by talking with their leaders.

British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain became enormously popular in the 1930s by sitting down and talking with Hitler, and announcing that their agreement had produced "peace in our time"-- just one year before the most catastrophic war in history began.

Senator Obama may gain similar popularity by advocating similar policies today-- and his political popularity is what it's all about. The consequences for the country come later.
5800  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: July 15, 2008, 09:57:23 AM
I would add John Hinderacker of to CCP's list of people McCain should hire for a war-room style answer to the mixed messages coming from the Obama campaign:

In this morning's New York Times, Barack Obama published an op-ed on Iraq that presumably previews his "major speech" on the subject tomorrow. Even by Obama's standards, the piece is breathtakingly dishonest.

Obama admits that he opposed the surge, and the attendant change in strategy and tactics, that have brought us close to victory. But he somehow manages to twist his being wrong about the surge--the major foreign policy issue that has arisen during his time in Congress--into vindication:

    But the same factors that led me to oppose the surge still hold true. The strain on our military has grown, the situation in Afghanistan has deteriorated and we’ve spent nearly $200 billion more in Iraq than we had budgeted. Iraq’s leaders have failed to invest tens of billions of dollars in oil revenues in rebuilding their own country, and they have not reached the political accommodation that was the stated purpose of the surge.

Actually, however, Obama opposed the surge not because of those "factors" but because he thought it would fail. He said, on January 10, 2007, on MSNBC:

    I am not persuaded that 20,000 additional troops in Iraq is going to solve the sectarian violence there. In fact, I think it will do the reverse.

On January 14, 2007, on Face the Nation, he said:

    We cannot impose a military solution on what has effectively become a civil war. And until we acknowledge that reality -- we can send 15,000 more troops, 20,000 more troops, 30,000 more troops, I don't know any expert on the region or any military officer that I've spoken to privately that believes that that is going to make a substantial difference on the situation on the ground.

On March 19, 2007, on the Larry King show, he said:

    [E]ven those who are supporting -- but here's the thing, Larry -- even those who support the escalation have acknowledged that 20,000, 30,000, even 40,000 more troops placed temporarily in places like Baghdad are not going to make a long-term difference.

On May 25, 2007, in a speech to the Coalition Of Black Trade Unionists Convention, Obama said:

    And what I know is that what our troops deserve is not just rhetoric, they deserve a new plan. Governor Romney and Senator McCain clearly believe that the course that we're on in Iraq is working, I do not.

On July 18, 2007, on the Today show, he said:

    My assessment is that the surge has not worked and we will not see a different report eight weeks from now.

On November 11, 2007, two months after General David Petraeus told Congress that the surge was working, Obama doubled down, saying that the administration's new strategy was making the situation in Iraq worse:

    Finally, in 2006-2007, we started to see that, even after an election, George Bush continued to want to pursue a course that didn't withdraw troops from Iraq but actually doubled them and initiated a surge and at that stage I said very clearly, not only have we not seen improvements, but we're actually worsening, potentially, a situation there.

In short, Obama bet the farm on his prediction that General Petraeus and the American military would fail. He was as spectacularly wrong as John McCain was spectacularly right. But his op-ed somehow twists this history into vindication on the theory that Afghanistan has deteriorated, the Iraq war has been expensive, and Iraq's political leaders "have not reached the political accommodation that was the stated purpose of the surge."

Let's start with the last point. Obama completely fails to acknowledge the remarkable political progress that has resulted from the surge, as manifested by the fact that the country's largest Sunni bloc has rejoined the government, and the U.S. Embassy reports that 15 of the 18 benchmarks of political progress that were set by Congress are now being met. Those benchmarks were set precisely for the purpose of measuring the "political accommodation that was the stated purpose of the surge," yet Obama fails even to mention them.

Still more dishonest is Obama's failure to acknowledge what would have happened if his policy prescription, precipitate withdrawal regardless of military conditions, had been followed: chaos, sectarian violence, possibly genocide, a resurgent al Qaeda in control of part of Iraq, with Iran possibly in control of other areas of the country. This would have been a foreign policy disaster, yet Obama, with vague references to cost and Afghanistan, claims vindication!

As to al Qaeda--the elephant in the room--Obama simply dissimulates:

    Iraq is not the central front in the war on terrorism, and it never has been.

That's not what Osama bin Laden (Iraq is where the "Third World War is raging”) or Ayman al-Zawahiri (Iraq is "the place for the greatest battle of Islam in this era”) say. Al Qaeda summoned jihadists from around the Muslim world to go to Iraq to fight American troops, declaring that this effort is the central front in their war against civilization. Those jihadists have been devastated by American armed forces, who have thereby scored what may, with hindsight, turn out to have been the decisive victory in the war against Muslim extremism. Obama denies all of this in a single sentence, without citing any evidence whatsoever.

Finally, Afghanistan: Obama would have us believe that he urged defeat in Iraq because he was so firmly committed to victory in Afghanistan. Once again, he misrepresents the record.

In fact, Obama has never supported our troops in Afghanistan. On the contrary, he said on August 14, 2007--less than a year ago--that our forces there are mostly committing war crimes:

    We've got to get the job done there and that requires us to have enough troops so that we're not just air-raiding villages and killing civilians, which is causing enormous pressure over there.

Obama has been so uninterested in Afghanistan that when he went to Iraq and other countries in the Middle East with a Congressional delegation in January 2006, he skipped the opportunity to continue on to Afghanistan, which was taken by others who made the trip with him, including Kit Bond and Harold Ford. And, in an embarrassing gaffe, Obama claimed on May 13, 2008, that we don't have enough "Arabic interpreters, Arab language speakers" in Afghanistan because they are all being used in Iraq. Obama thereby demonstrated the intellectual laziness and incuriosity that characterizes his campaign: they don't speak Arabic in Afghanistan, and, anyway, interpreters are drawn from local populations, not shipped around the world.

Worst of all, far from being committed to victory in Afghanistan, Obama voted to cut off all funding for all of our military efforts in Afghanistan on May 24, 2007 (H.R. 2206, CQ Vote #181), thereby seeking to bring about defeat there as well as in Iraq. His current effort to portray himself as a wolf in sheep's clothing on Afghanistan is a complete fraud.

It is possible that at some point in American history there may have been a major politician as dishonest as Barack Obama, but I can't offhand think of such a miscreant.
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