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5751  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Libertarian Issues: Snooping on the Palins on: May 26, 2010, 10:48:34 PM
CCP,  Maybe people who hear the story of the Palins' stalker can feel a small part of the pain you have described here about having family privacy violated.  Too bad anyone would do business with such a scoundrel.
Palin said the news of the investigative reporter renting out the house next to her has put her family on edge and has left her more concerned about the privacy of her children.  AP

5752  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Energy Politics & Science on: May 26, 2010, 02:16:02 PM
"I feel sick in my stomach at the ever growing disaster. Is BP doing all that it can? Should the Feds be doing more?"

We will know more later.  Maybe they will plug the hole today and then we can reflect on what went wrong.  The filth depresses me too, yet I heard an LSU professor of environmental sciences say that nature leaks this much anyway through the gulf floor but not concentrated in one location like this.  He hated to say aloud that the magical formula for dispersion would be a severe tropical storm (probably coming soon).

Interesting insight from a radio host today (not an energy expert):  We drill sooooo deep and sooooo far from shore because of the past 'success' of environmental extremism.  This spill would be more manageable and solvable if it was more reachable.  I wonder if that is true.

Politically, I would like to know what day (somewhere between day 6 and day 8 ) it was that the Obama defenders began using the phrase "since day one".  When we finally plug it we can ask ourselves why that solution was not ready before the spill or airlifted across the world if necessary on 'day one'.  And why the blowout protectors don't protect against blowouts, while the federal regulators have time for this and money for that - fill in your own wasteful examples - studying the sex habits of female college freshmen, 4 hour erection warnings etc.

I recall that Obama offered to open more offshore drilling about two months prior to this but predicated it on more studies, (a fake, like his effort to send 3 troops to the border).  Alright, valuable time went by even if it was only a couple of months, and millions were spent by these agencies, where are those studies or why were we lied to and who will be fired?  I think you will find that the environmental regulators were viewing porn like the SEC regulators on taxpayer internet connections and corresponding with their friends in the global warming farce crowd and the political lobbies instead of doing the science and regulatory functions they were assigned like reviewing the testing procedures of blowout protectors. 
5753  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics - Carville rips Obama Administration on: May 26, 2010, 01:39:26 PM
As a large radio host used to say, nothing with the Clintons happens by accident.  James Carville hapens to choose the Stephanopoulos show to rip the Obama administration for "ineptness" and for being "lackadaisical", "It just looks like he's not involved in this," an angry Carville said. "Man, you got to get down here and take control of this, put somebody in charge of this thing and get this moving. We're about to die down here." These guys were always known for floating trial balloons.  This is a first.  For Carville there is no downside as he is a Louisiana native, a known loose cannon and I'm sure not an Obama insider.

If this trial balloon gains traction within his own party, more will split with him for plenty of other reasons as they face survival vs. extinction in this year's mid-terms and the next round.  One problem that grew against Bush was that the right didn't like him very well either.

I stand by my prediction that Obama won't be the D-nominee in 2012.

Separately, Jonathon Alder of Newsweek in his book about the first year about the Obama administration wrote that Biden and H.R.Clinton would switch places in the second term.  That assumes a relatively successful, uneventful first term, IMO, which does not appear to be the case.
5754  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Way Forward: Reject the Keynesian 'stimulus' on: May 26, 2010, 10:07:28 AM
From other threads: Next year's budget is to spend $4 trillion and take in just 2.5 while private employment is at the lowest percentage of the economy in history and public employment at its highest.

We can't all agree on all issues.  Could we all at least agree that the government is not the economy, that we do not stimulate the economy by growing the government and we certainly do not alleviate the debt crisis by exploding the debt.

If everyone knows you can't raise taxes in a weak economy, then get the tax increases scheduled for the end of this year off the table NOW.  The opposition party should make that point every morning on the steps of congress until the ruling party agrees or until the voters have their say.

The double tax on business is out of line competitively - the corporate rate should be lowered to the average of the OECD.  Then the rest of the tax cutting wish list needs to be put on hold while we Cut Spending First. 

At four trillion of federal spending and growing, the answer to which program to cut is yes - all of them will be fully scrutinized, cut and frozen until the private economy can catch up with the  funding.  JMHO.
5755  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Venezuela on: May 26, 2010, 09:20:32 AM
Rarick, "welcome to a more dangerous world"  - I agree.  What a shame for world peace and prosperity to not have a free and functional friend and ally in the space occupied by Chavez and his forces.

"this oil addiction thing is crippling our ability to act internationally according to our founding principles"

  - But this oil addiction thing to me is synonymous with freedom.  Freedom requires mobility and mobility uses oil.  A gallon of gas is the most safe, compact, stable, efficient, and still affordable form of transportable energy that we have.  Our refusal to produce our own that creates the import addiction and the current oil spill will set that even further back indefinitely.  You could drive a short distance in a form of an electric golf cart and I am fascinated by the transportation capabilities of homegrown compressed natural gas, but nothing else so far matches the performance of a gallon of gas.

"someone took their eyes off the ball during the Clinton years"

  - I have seen no indication that South Americans want U.S. intervention no matter how bad things get.  The low point I observed (from my secure midwest location) was under Bush and then Sec. State Colin Powell in August 2004.  The American diplomats did not know how to tell self-appointed observer Jimmy Carter to take a hike and send in real election observers (and Chavez would not have accepted real observers).  The polls were 40-60 against Chavez while he won 60-40, a 40 point swing.  Carter quickly signed on to the result, putting the Bush administration in a bad situation of either recognizing the result or rejecting it based on no evidence.  The appeasement did us no good as the anti-Bush anti-US rhetoric and relations from Chavez only increased.  Had we rejected the referendum result, we would have the same reality - an illegitimate leader running Venezuela.  Personally I am more taken aback by the 40% who favor this type of rule (same in the U.S.) than I am by the electoral cheating.
REVIEW & OUTLOOK  Wall Street Journal (from 2004)
Conned in Caracas
New evidence that Jimmy Carter got fooled in Venezuela.

Thursday, September 9, 2004 12:01 A.M. EDT

Both the Bush Administration and former President Jimmy Carter were quick to bless the results of last month's Venezuelan recall vote, but it now looks like they were had. A statistical analysis by a pair of economists suggests that the random-sample "audit" results that the Americans trusted weren't random at all.

This is no small matter. The imprimatur of Mr. Carter and his Carter Center election observers is being used by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to claim a mandate. The anti-American strongman has been steering his country toward dictatorship and is stirring up trouble throughout Latin America. If the recall election wasn't fair, why would Americans want to endorse it?

The new study was released this week by economists Ricardo Hausmann of Harvard and Roberto Rigobon of MIT. They zeroed in on a key problem with the August 18 vote audit that was run by the government's electoral council (CNE): In choosing which polling stations would be audited, the CNE refused to use the random number generator recommended by the Carter Center. Instead, the CNE insisted on its own program, run on its own computer. Mr. Carter's team acquiesced, and Messrs. Hausmann and Rigobon conclude that, in controlling this software, the government had the means to cheat.

"This result opens the possibility that the fraud was committed only in a subset of the 4,580 automated centers, say 3,000, and that the audit was successful because it directed the search to the 1,580 unaltered centers. That is why it was so important not to use the Carter Center number generator. If this was the case, Carter could never have figured it out."

Mr. Hausmann told us that he and Mr. Rigoban also "found very clear trails of fraud in the statistical record" and a probability of less than 1% that the anomalies observed could be pure chance. To put it another way, they think the chance is 99% that there was electoral fraud.

The authors also suggest that the fraud was centralized. Voting machines were supposed to print tallies before communicating by Internet with the CNE center. But the CNE changed that rule, arranging to have totals sent to the center first and only later printing tally sheets. This increases the potential for fraud because the Smartmatic voting machines suddenly had two-way communication capacity that they weren't supposed to have. The economists say this means the CNE center could have sent messages back to polling stations to alter the totals.

None of this would matter if the auditing process had been open to scrutiny by the Carter observers. But as the economists point out: "After an arduous negotiation, the Electoral Council allowed the OAS [Organization of American States] and the Carter Center to observe all aspects of the election process except for the central computer hub, a place where they also prohibited the presence of any witnesses from the opposition. At the time, this appeared to be an insignificant detail. Now it looks much more meaningful."

Yes, it does. It would seem that Colin Powell and the Carter Center have some explaining to do. The last thing either would want is for Latins to think that the U.S. is now apologizing for governments that steal elections. Back when he was President, Mr. Carter once famously noted that the Afghanistan invasion had finally caused him to see the truth about Leonid Brezhnev. A similar revelation would seem to be in order toward Mr. Chavez.
5756  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / U.S. Budget: $4 Trillion spending with 2.5 in revenues on: May 25, 2010, 11:45:35 AM
I wonder what the blowback would be if a Bush or Reagan had submitted this budget.  33% of all spending is pretend money we admit we will never have, but agree to pay with interest.

Submitted    February, 2010
Submitted by    Barack Obama
Submitted to    111th Congress
Total revenue    $2.57 trillion (estimated)
Total expenditures    $3.83 trillion (estimated)
Deficit    $1.267 trillion (estimated)

For revenues at that level, 'baseline' spending should be at 2005-2006 levels, no more.
5757  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government Programs, spending, budget process on: May 25, 2010, 10:14:35 AM
"If someone can find a good definition/explanation of Baseline Budgeting and post it here it would be appreciated."
I don't welcome the task of going inside the liberal, big government mind to explain its inner workings.  What if I never make it back out?

Take last year's budget for any one of the thousands of federal social spending programs (like that amount was a commandment from God) and add some artificial multiplier for inflation and for population increase.  Then any amount for the following year that is less than this 'required' increase is a 'cut' in a program.

So if your budget was $100 billion last year and we say inflation was 4% and population increase was 1% and then spend $102 Billion the next year, that is a 3% cut, in Washington-speak, typically hitting women and children the hardest.

A few small flaws in the logic:

a) If the $100 billion was spent to solve something, then presumably only $50 billion or ideally nothing would be required the following year.  But in fact, if you pay for homelessness or hunger, for example, you will get more of it.

b) Budgets in a rational world come out of money available, not need or wish.  So if the budget was in balance last year and tax revenues contract by 5%, then the baseline for each worthwhile program would be -5%, holding its share of the public money available.  Not in Washington.

The real solution is Zero-Based-Budgeting, every two years.  No congress has any right to obligate or presume that the following congress will choose to tax or spend on any of the same programs before the people have had their say.  That is a level of arrogance and unconstitutionality I will never understand.
5758  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: May 25, 2010, 12:56:19 AM
 "Paul will win in Kentucky even if caught with a dead woman or live boy..."

Forget the dead woman or live boy, I find your optimism and confidence encouraging.  Wish I could say that about any of our candidates.  It's true they won't be ale to control him but that too is a good thing.  But the 'they' we are calling the the national Republican leadership is changing - I think.  For example Bennett in Utah, Specter gone, several others turning over, newcomers in and the rest nervous. The status quo will change visibly or they won't be trusted by the people.

Let's assume for a second that Republicans make big gains this year.  Then we head into the Presidential year with a little momentum and no obvious front runner.  When Bush began, he vetoed nothing.  The next leader, if he/she want to win, will not be wishy-washy, go along to get along.  Even Reagan caved on domestic spending to win in two other areas.  That won't work this time.  If a conservative wins in 2012, the mandate will be to control spending, reform entitlements, balance the budget - at a lower level of GDP and secure the country.  A Republican will not win by talking out of both sides of his mouth with no meaning. A candidate who is soft on spending will not pull together independents who are anti-deficit along with so-called tea-partiers who want the size of government scaled back and limited.

CCP wrote: "...Republicans were simply trying to compete with the Dems for votes..."

  - I agree.  Ribbon cutting ceremonies for new earmark projects were fun and rewarding.  Beefing up gusset plates on interstate bridges, making New Orleans Cat 5 proof , better testing on blow out Protectors and entitlement reforms - not quite as glamorous.  Question is whether or not we have evolved since the 2000s when people were still impressed with new programs and new spending and in fear of anything cut.
5759  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: May 24, 2010, 04:46:54 PM
"Doug, I hope you are right and there is some sort of "Contract with America" again. "

In 1994 that was done very late in the campaign and these were all very highly poll tested proposals.  It stole the oxygen away from their opponents and it answered the main complaint of the opponents - we know what you are against, but you never tell us how you would govern.  The Contract did that.

2006 was the opposite.  As Democrats were coasting to a negative victory - people were going to elect Bush's opposition.  Pelosi went into hiding, either to heal her plastic surgery or to keep her San Francisco Liberal mug out of the local news or the moderate Dems running contested races across the heartland.  The strategy of 2008-2008 was to downplay the leftist agenda because it doesn't stand up to scrutiny.

I don't know if Republicans need a Contract with America to win this year, but they need the experience and discipline of hammering one out in order to govern and to set the table for 2012.   For 2012 we will need leaders that will agree to the principles, not Pied Piper types that will make some other song sound appealing.
5760  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: May 24, 2010, 04:23:04 PM
"The Party isn't supporting Paul in this media shark fest because they want him damaged."

P.C:  I disagree.  I think the party wants to win the Kentucky seat very badly, even with Paul, but is worried about collateral damage.  Paul's remarks were not racist, but the implications of them may sound that way.  They just weren't disciplined enough for the national limelight.  But if he is a surgeon and a serious senate candidate he should be able to put a tight and clear message together right now for the general election. 

Michele Bachmann R-MN has also stepped in it a few times and still wins in a conservative district.  One of hers was also the unAmerican comment.  The media is just dying to get them to say something extreme sounding in a sound byte and then paint the whole movement or party to be extreme. 

Paul could turn this into a positive.  He has drawn an inordinate amount of attention to himself.  Now we will see how he uses it.  McConnell won by only 53-47% even as leader.  Paul will bring in some new voters that use to sit out but he will need the McConnell voters to win.  McConnell will need the Paul voters on his next try, but he for sure needs to win this one in Kentucky to ever reach 50 or 51 R-senators.  As the party in opposition, the main problems will remain on the left side with the Susan Collins and former Arlen Specter types, not on the right.

BTW, the Rand Paul proposal to require a constitutional justification for every federal authority is brilliant.  You can argue the details of the authority, but how can you deny that you even have to find and justify the authority.  My proposal was a little different.  I think they require themselves to pass an Unintended Consequences Report prior to the budget authorization for every federal program, just like developers may be required to publish an environmental impact statement.  In other words, what are the downsides of this legislation.  Can you imagine Democrats arguing either one of those on ObamaCare? Take both of these proposals together and you might slow the legislation and funds authorization process by adding a little sobriety.
5761  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Politics of Health Care - Repeal popularity hits 63% on: May 24, 2010, 01:37:53 PM
Rasmussen reports that "Sixty-three percent (63%) of voters nationwide favor repeal of the health care law. That’s the highest level of support for repeal yet measured." 
5762  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cognitive Dissonance - Daniel Pearl wasn't "lost", he was beheaded on: May 24, 2010, 01:31:51 PM
Mark Steyn (May 22, 2010) has the outrage that President Obama lacks.
One of Those Moments
The president has become the latest Western liberal to try to hammer Daniel Pearl’s box into a round hole.

Barack Obama’s remarkable powers of oratory are well known: In support of Chicago’s Olympic bid, he flew into Copenhagen to give a heartwarming speech about himself, and they gave the games to Rio. He flew into Boston to support Martha Coakley’s bid for the U.S. Senate, and Massachusetts voters gave Ted Kennedy’s seat to a Republican. In the first year of his presidency, he gave a gazillion speeches on health-care “reform” and drove support for his proposals to basement level, leaving Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid to ram it down the throats of the American people through sheer parliamentary muscle.

Like a lot of guys who’ve been told they’re brilliant one time too often, President Obama gets a little lazy, and doesn’t always choose his words with care. And so it was that he came to say a few words about Daniel Pearl, upon signing the “Daniel Pearl Press Freedom Act.”

Pearl was decapitated on video by jihadist Muslims in Karachi on Feb. 1, 2002. That’s how I’d put it.

This is what the president of the United States said: “Obviously, the loss of Daniel Pearl was one of those moments that captured the world’s imagination because it reminded us of how valuable a free press is.”

Now Obama’s off the prompter, when his silver-tongued rhetoric invariably turns to sludge. But he’s talking about a dead man here, a guy murdered in public for all the world to see. Furthermore, the deceased’s family is standing all around him. And, even for a busy president, it’s the work of moments to come up with a sentence that would be respectful, moving, and true. Indeed, for Obama, it’s the work of seconds, because he has a taxpayer-funded staff sitting around all day with nothing to do but provide him with that sentence.

Instead, he delivered the one above. Which, in its clumsiness and insipidness, is most revealing. First of all, note the passivity: “The loss of Daniel Pearl.” He wasn’t “lost.” He was kidnapped and beheaded. He was murdered on a snuff video. He was specifically targeted, seized as a trophy, a high-value scalp. And the circumstances of his “loss” merit some vigor in the prose. Yet Obama can muster none.

Even if Americans don’t get the message, the rest of the world does. This week’s pictures of the leaders of Brazil and Turkey clasping hands with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad are also monuments to American passivity.

But what did the “loss” of Daniel Pearl mean? Well, says the president, it was “one of those moments that captured the world’s imagination.” Really? Evidently it never captured Obama’s imagination, because, if it had, he could never have uttered anything so fatuous. He seems literally unable to imagine Pearl’s fate, and so, cruising on autopilot, he reaches for the all-purpose bromides of therapeutic sedation: “one of those moments” — you know, like Princess Di’s wedding, Janet Jackson’s wardrobe malfunction, whatever — “that captured the world’s imagination.”

Notice how reflexively Obama lapses into sentimental one-worldism: Despite our many zip codes, we are one people, with a single imagination. In fact, the murder of Daniel Pearl teaches just the opposite — that we are many worlds, and worlds within worlds. Some of them don’t even need an “imagination.” Across the planet, the video of an American getting his head sawed off did brisk business in the bazaars and madrassas and Internet downloads. Excited young men e-mailed it to friends, from cell phone to cell phone, from Karachi to Jakarta to Khartoum to London to Toronto to Falls Church, Va. In the old days, you needed an “imagination” to conjure the juicy bits of a distant victory over the Great Satan. But in an age of high-tech barbarism, the sight of Pearl’s severed head is a mere click away.

And the rest of “the world”? Most gave a shrug of indifference. And far too many found the reality of Pearl’s death too uncomfortable and chose to take refuge in the same kind of delusional pap as Obama. The president is only the latest Western liberal to try to hammer Daniel Pearl’s box into a round hole. Before him, it was Michael Winterbottom in his film A Mighty Heart: As Pearl’s longtime colleague Asra Nomani wrote, “Danny himself had been cut from his own story.” Or, as Paramount’s promotional department put it, “Nominate the most inspiring ordinary hero. Win a trip to the Bahamas!” Where you’re highly unlikely to be kidnapped and beheaded! (Although, in the event that you are, please check the liability-waiver box at the foot of the entry form.)

The latest appropriation is that his “loss” “reminded us of how valuable a free press is.” It was nothing to do with “freedom of the press.” By the standards of the Muslim world, Pakistan has a free-ish and very lively press. The problem is that some 80 percent of its people wish to live under the most extreme form of Sharia, and many of its youth are exported around the world in advance of that aim. The man convicted of Pearl’s murder was Omar Sheikh, a British subject, a London School of Economics student, and, like many jihadists from Osama to the Pantybomber, a monument to the peculiar burdens of a non-deprived childhood in the Muslim world. The man who actually did the deed was Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who confessed in March 2007: “I decapitated with my blessed right hand the head of the American Jew Daniel Pearl, in the city of Karachi.” But Obama’s not the kind to take “guilty” for an answer, so he’s arranging a hugely expensive trial for KSM amid the bright lights of Broadway.

Listen to his killer’s words: “The American Jew Daniel Pearl.” We hit the jackpot! And then we cut his head off. Before the body was found, The Independent’s Robert Fisk offered a familiar argument to Pearl’s kidnappers: Killing him would be “a major blunder . . . the best way of ensuring that the suffering” — of Kashmiris, Afghans, Palestinians — “goes unrecorded.” Other journalists peddled a similar line: If you release Danny, he’ll be able to tell your story, get your message out, “bridge the misconceptions.” But the story did get out; the severed head is the message; the only misconception is that that’s a misconception.

Daniel Pearl was the prototype for a new kind of terror. In his wake came other victims from Kenneth Bigley, whose last words were that “Tony Blair has not done enough for me,” to Fabrizzio Quattrocchi, who yanked off his hood, yelled “I will show you how an Italian dies!” and ruined the movie for his jihadist videographers. By that time, both men understood what it meant to be in a windowless room with a camera and a man holding a scimitar. But Daniel Pearl was the first, and in his calm, coherent final words understood why he was there:

“My name is Daniel Pearl. I am a Jewish American from Encino, California, U.S.A.”

He didn’t have a prompter. But he spoke the truth. That’s all President Obama owed him — to do the same.

I mentioned last week the attorney general’s peculiar insistence that “radical Islam” was nothing to do with the Times Square bomber, the Pantybomber, the Fort Hood killer. Just a lot of moments “capturing the world’s imagination.” For now, the jihadists seem to have ceased cutting our heads off. Listening to Obama and Eric Holder, perhaps they’ve figured out there’s nothing much up there anyway.
5763  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government Programs, spending, budget process on: May 24, 2010, 01:21:30 PM
States face same/similar spending and deficit problems.  New Jersey may now be the best example, but Minnesota of all places is another example over the last 8 years.  Gov. Tim Pawlenty claims to have cut real spending levels by an average of 2% per year over his two 4-year terms.  Hostile liberal CBS affiliate television station ran a mixed fact check reply but concluded the main claim is True.

Pawlenty presided over the implementation of the tax cuts enacted by his predecessor (a wrestler) to take Minnesota  out of the top ten worst tax states.  Coincidentally, the unemployment rate just dropped to 7.2%.

(Maybe this should be posted in the way forward for California.)

Minnesota loves its 'great liberals' Hubert Humphrey, Eugene McCarthy, Walter Mondale, Paul Wellstone, Garrison Keillor etc. but doesn't trust them to govern.  The last time Dems won the Gov. race was 1982/1988, a dentist from the iron range who ran against the party establishment and pioneered school choice.
5764  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: May 24, 2010, 12:47:54 PM
Also might be time to open a thread for the 2010 individual senate and congressional races going on across the country.  Something big is going on.

Rasmussen: Gov. John Hoeven, R, leads his Democratic opponent for Senate in North Dakota, 72 to 23 percent. 

Republicans have not won a senate seat in North Dakota since 1980. 
5765  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Fed, Monetary Policy, & the US Dollar on: May 23, 2010, 06:04:33 PM
Thank you GM for quantifying an argument I was trying to make.  Besides the amazingly large number of dollars, we don't even have any way of truly measuring them and certainly no way of promising to redeem them, on demand, in gold.  Yes we could peg the dollar to the current price of gold, and that ratio would never change - except in an emergency - but as mentioned recently, everything is an emergency - a crisis.  Bankruptcy of our largest state (Calif.)is an emergency.  Continuous war is an emergency.  Collapse of our financial sector is an emergency, 9/11 was obviously an emergency etc.

So you would still have a Board (called the Fed) but you would just issue them a stronger directive to uphold the value of the dollar, which is already their mandate.  But the value of the dollar with a new mandate would still only rely on the promise of the United States government (as it does now) and in the context of a government that already moved twice in its past to decouple further from gold.  

In 1971 when Bretton Woods collapsed, it wasn't by choice.  It was a no-choice situation brought on by previous policies, deficits and trade imbalances.  If I were a Fed Governor, I would take the new mandate and then throw it back on congress: If you want the currency in balance then you will eliminate the budget imbalance NOW and legalize industry and manufacturing up the point where trade deficits are rounding errors, not rivers of currency flow.

My main point in bringing this up is that like-minded people, conservative and/or libertarian need to get on the same page, (like CCP says) and get our collective act together, give our leaders clear direction, (or keep losing).  If ending the Fed is not an immediate possibility, priority or solution, like revisiting civil rights legislation is not, then we need to move the focus to only what we CAN achieve right now in the next election cycle, in the next congress and in the next Presidential contest. (IMHO)

5766  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Fed, Monetary Policy, & the US Dollar on: May 22, 2010, 12:09:44 AM
Nice post Freki.  This is a difficult subject.  That I see it a little differently doesn't mean there is a hole in your understanding. smiley  The main point I was making is that I think we are past the point of being capable of reverting back to a true gold standard where all the new dollars are convertible back to gold.  For one thing I don't think most dollars are even paper much less gold.  Dollars today are largely electronic entries transferred around between banks and institutions, credit card companies, employers, consumers, governments, etc.

I have also read the 95% figure.  From the chart here it looks like they are getting that by going back to 1913:

By looking past the peaks and troughs on the chart it also looks like the rate of decline in purchasing power was similar in all the periods - before we went off true convertibility in 1933, from 1933 through 1971 when we were forced to go off the Bretton Woods link to gold, and from 1971 to the present. 

The criticism that it is a semi governmental organization which we have no real oversight is valid.  Congress has 'oversight' but not operational control when they haul the Fed chair in for regular questioning.  But IMO that is far better than letting the politicians (spenders) have more direct control. 

If true convertibility to gold isn't possible anymore, they talk instead about tracking the dollar's purchasing power with a basket of goods where the price of gold would be a strong component because of its strong reputation for holding its value.  The actual tracking of purchasing power is tricky because the mix of goods and services we buy changes over time.  If there was a formula instead of a Fed, I think we would still need a board (The Fed)to tweak that formula over time.

"what is the upside of the fed"(?)

It seems to me that there needs to be a human hand able to make an adjustment, a pressure relief, emergency assistance or human judgment to avoid a run, a panic or a collapse, especially in these times.  We faced a deflation scare recently and we always seem to face an inflation threat.  We had a country go under.  We have states going under.  We've had market crashes.  We had one allegedly triggered by a computer glitch.  I remember a near-cornering of the silver market by two brothers.  We have droughts, trade imbalances and we have budget shortfalls in the trillions.  We've had foreign wars and we had attacks on the homeland with our own planes that shut down entire industries. With a little discipline we could avoid some of these catastrophes, but not all of them.

Let's look at it politically.  End the Fed means going back to pre-1913 policies (?) A lot has changed since then and we certainly have a lot of needs for the contingencies partly listed above.  Even if that were great policy I think the idea would scare the hell out of the electorate. 

More realistically, we need to give the existing Fed and the new governors appointed and confirmed the mandate or guideline that they need to minimize inflation and the loss of purchasing power and to track as close as possible to the stability of gold and other core commodities, products and services.  I think that is what the Fed's mandate is already.

Problem is that, as discussed previously, we give this mandate mixed in with the reality that we are spending with no correlation to our means, we are creating future liabilities in amounts that are unfathomable, we are destroying our manufacturing sector and choosing to not produce our own energy - right as our demand for consumption increases - and so the dollars leave our economy and must find their way back in some other way.  There is no way to achieve perfect balance among forces that are so far out of balance.  In light of all these complexities, I actually think the Fed does a pretty good job.
5767  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Monetary Policy, End the Fed? on: May 21, 2010, 11:29:00 AM
"Said with love, but I think you have been distracted by matters that are essentially irrelevant.  Fed announcements about interest rate policy and all the rest of it ultimately are not the point.  The point is this:  We are living beyond our means.  Government spending is out of control, and it is already in the entitlement pipeline that it will be more out of control.    If we cut it back, then all will be well.  If we don't, it won't."

I agree, but those are matters of fiscal policy.

Moving on, the Rand Paul matter brings up again the 'End the Fed' question, coincidentally a book title by Ron Paul and a proposal I just heard Glen Beck make a similar proposal on the radio.  Beck then backed off slightly by saying 'not just end the Fed and that's it, but I'm talking about a total transformation'.

My opinion could come right out of the Crafty quote above.  The corrections we need are fiscal, the excess spending and unfunded entitlements.  I would NOT end the Fed.  I don't think that is realistic operationally, and I don't think proposals that won't happen are helpful politically.

What do others think about ending the Fed?
5768  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / America's Inner City - Detroit on: May 21, 2010, 10:23:08 AM
8 minutes of a camcorder going through a third world country called Detroit.  Many factors caused this, but suffice it to say that free markets were not allowed to flourish, the war on poverty became a war against families and individual responsibility, private employment was supposed to be an entitlement no matter how uncompetitive your work and your product have become.  Visualize from these pictures how the middle class can succeed while we punish investors, employers and wealth creation.
5769  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: May 21, 2010, 10:13:08 AM
The law of the land should be - color blind.  Unfortunately the government, the census, the supreme court and private institutions like Harvard are not there yet.  James Taranto of WSJ had a pretty good take on the Rand Paul matter, below.  It might be philosophically interesting to ponder issues of the last century like how to move to a post-racial society without using the heavy hand of the federal government.  But if Paul and others, libertarians or conservatives, want to win this year they better get focused quickly and stay focused on maybe 10 concrete steps forward we can take today.  Paul is an opthamologist.  Now he is a politician running for serious office, a 6 year term, and he needs to use the discipline of his first profession to succeed in his new one. He and the others need to figure out HOW to move us gently in a libertarian direction, not to some utopia, but just a little less reliant on the government for the solutions for our every problem, and they need to bring the conservatives and the majority of independents along with them to win.  When they figure out what that realistic agenda is for the next 2, 4 or 6 years, they need to stick to the agenda, the details, the mindset, the benefits, and the persuasion required to get us there, not just wander around with every gotcha journalist or political opponent.
Rand Paul and Civil Rights
A rookie mistake feeds a left-wing smear.

Rand Paul was 1 when Congress enacted the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Now 47, he is the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate from Kentucky, his first ever foray into politics. To his evident surprise, the hypothetical question of how he would have voted in 1964 has been drawing a lot of attention.

Politico's Ben Smith characterizes as "evasive" this response Paul gave when asked the question by National Public Radio (we've corrected Smith's transcription errors):

    "What I've always said is, I'm opposed to institutional racism, and I would have--if I was alive at the time, I think--had the courage to march with Martin Luther King to overturn institutional racism, and I see no place in our society for institutional racism," he said in response to a first question about the act.

    "You would have marched with Martin Luther King but voted with Barry Goldwater?" asked an interviewer.

    "I think it's confusing in a lot of cases in what's actually in the Civil Rights Case (sic)," Paul replied. "A lot of things that were actually in the bill I'm actually in favor of. I'm in favor of--everything with regards to ending institutional racism. So I think there's a lot to be desired in the Civil Rights--and indeed the truth is, I haven't read all through it, because it was passed 40 years ago and hadn't been a real pressing issue on the campaign on whether I'm going to vote for the Civil Rights Act."

In an update to his post, Smith notes that it wasn't the first time Paul was asked the question:

    Paul articulated his view on the Civil Rights Act in an interview with the editorial board of the Louisville Courier-Journal. . . .

    Paul explained that he backed the portion of the Civil Rights Act banning discrimination in public places and institutions, but that he thinks private businesses should be permitted to discriminate by race.

    "I like the Civil Rights Act in the sense that it ended discrimination in all public domains, and I'm all in favor of that," he said. "I don't like the idea of telling private business owners. . . ."

Smith is not the only commentator to accuse Paul of being "evasive" or refusing to give a "straight answer." This criticism is absurd. The politically wise answer would have been "yes"--a straight answer in form, but an evasive one in substance. Answering the way he did was a rookie mistake--or, to put it more charitably, a demonstration that Paul is not a professional politician.

Taken at face value, the question itself--How would you have voted if you had been in the Senate as an infant?--is silly. It is a reasonable question only if it is understood more broadly, as an inquiry into Paul's political philosophy. The question within the question is: How uncompromising are you in your adherence to small-government principles?

Paul gave his answer: Pretty darn uncompromising--uncompromising enough to take a position that is not only politically embarrassing but morally dubious by his own lights, as evidenced by this transcript from the Courier-Journal interview, provided by the left-wing site

    Interviewer: But under your philosophy, it would be OK for Dr. King not to be served at the counter at Woolworths?

    Paul: I would not go to that Woolworths, and I would stand up in my community and say that it is abhorrent, um, but, the hard part--and this is the hard part about believing in freedom--is, if you believe in the First Amendment, for example--you have too, for example, most good defenders of the First Amendment will believe in abhorrent groups standing up and saying awful things. . . . It's the same way with other behaviors. In a free society, we will tolerate boorish people, who have abhorrent behavior.

Again, Paul could have given a "straight" answer to the question--a flat "no"--that made clear his personal disapproval of discrimination while evading what was really a question about his political philosophy. Far from being evasive, Paul has shown himself to be both candid and principled to a fault.

We do mean to a fault. In this matter, Paul seems to us to be overly ideological and insufficiently mindful of the contingencies of history. Although we are in accord with his general view that government involvement in private business should be kept to a minimum, in our view the Civil Rights Act's restrictions on private discrimination were necessary in order to break down a culture of inequality that was only partly a matter of oppressive state laws. On the other hand, he seeks merely to be one vote of 100 in the Senate. An ideologically hardheaded libertarian in the Senate surely would do the country more good than harm.

It's possible, though, that Paul's eccentric views on civil rights will harm the Republican Party by feeding the left's claims that America is a racist country and the GOP is a racist party. Certainly that's what Salon's Joan Walsh is hoping. Here are her comments on a Rand interview with MSNBC's Rachel Maddow:

    You've got to watch the whole interview. At the end, Paul seemed to understand that he's going to be explaining his benighted civil rights views for a long, long time--but he seemed to blame Maddow. "You bring up something that is really not an issue . . . a red herring, it's a political ploy . . . and that's the way it will be used," he complained at the end of the interview. Whether the Civil Rights Act should have applied to private businesses--"not really an issue," says Tea Party hero Rand Paul.

    It's going to become increasingly clear that the Tea Party movement wants to revoke the Great Society, the New Deal and the laws that were the result of the civil rights movement. Paul may be right that his views are "not really an issue" with his Tea Party supporters, although I have to think some of them won't enjoy watching him look like a slippery politician as he fails, over and over, to answer Maddow's questions directly.

When Paul says this "is really not an issue," he is speaking in the present tense. It is quite clear that he means that the Civil Rights Act, which has been the law for nearly 46 years, is politically settled; there is no movement to revoke it. In this, he is correct. Walsh's assertion that this is what the tea-party movement seeks is either a fantasy or a lie.

It's a curious role reversal: Rand Paul is a politician; Joan Walsh is a journalist. He is honest, perhaps too honest for his own good. She is playing the part of the dishonest demagogue.
5770  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Criminalizing Migration?? on: May 20, 2010, 09:58:38 AM
Did I hear the Mexican President correctly?  I know there were some problems with translation.  The problem is with the laws against trespassing, not with trespassing.  Maybe this is a libertarian issue.

"In Mexico, we are and continue to be respectful to the policies of the United States...but we will retain our firm rejection to criminalizing migration so that people that work and provide things to this nation will be treated as criminals, and we oppose firmly the SB1070 Arizona law, given in fair principle that are partial and discriminatory..."

If you can't check citizenship when you already have other cause to make contact and when you have reason to believe there may be a problem, then when can you check it?

A less discriminatory way of checking would have been to use the census process as we are constitutionally required anyway to find out every 10 years who lives here.

Regarding Calderon, when a politician from anywhere is caught up in that bad of a gaffe, his own laws are far stronger, why is he ever taken seriously again, much less wined and dined?

I heard Mark Levin say last night: Take the Mexican Immigration Law, word for translated word, put an HR number on it and vote it up and down in Washington.
5771  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Political Rant on: May 18, 2010, 12:03:06 PM
Short rant regarding gays in the military, higher education, Kagan and the Supreme Court, the Solomon amendment, free speech, the autonomy of a private institution in this country and the ridiculous imbalance of makers vs. takers in this country:

Kagan was prevented from standing on her principles and opposing the way the American military discriminates because of the addiction of Harvard University to federal money.  Excuse me, but why in the hell is one of the world's richest, most expensive, elitist institutions receiving federal subsidy?  With a billion in the bank are they unable or unwilling to perform research for the public good at their own expense and give something back to society?  The result is that a plumber in flyover country who works all day with no college degree, who makes a good wage, gets 2 weeks a year off and supports a family of four must pay taxes that subsidize Harvard University, its elitist professors with all their tenure, time off, idealism and excesses.  Unbelievable.
5772  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: May 18, 2010, 11:45:47 AM
JDN: "I am against ILLEGAL Immigration period."  - Right and that was the only point of the analogy, THEY have the right to control who enters the event even if I think Sarah Palin or Glen Beck should be free to walk in and liven up the event.  Having rules and enforcement is necessary for security and to keep some sort of control.  They won't be checking docs for Michelle Obama or Hillary Clinton because they look familiar, but if either were to run a red light in AZ they would be asked for their driver's license and proof of insurance, and if something indicates they may be a foreign national then whatever other documents legally required would be needed.  Plenty of blond/slightly graying people are non-US citizens.  Jose can not lawfully be pulled over for looking Hispanic but Wolfgang or Lars, if caught speeding, may be detained for carrying a false ID or expired visa.  True?
5773  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Fed, Monetary Policy, & the US Dollar on: May 18, 2010, 11:00:27 AM
"...I dunno about those prescriptions."  - I'm not fully on board the prescriptions but the idea is to pre-announce to the markets that interest rates will not be staying at the 0% emergency levels indefinitely.

"Volcker's actions...  - It is not clear to me that our current situation tracks that situation closely."  - Very true, but he is talking about trying to rates up to 2% where Volcker had them up near 20%(?)

"...we have Federal deficits of some 10% of GDP...national debt will be 100% of GDP"  - THAT is the heart of the matter.  There is no perfect monetary policy for a fiscal policy that out of whack.  Why should the deck chairs be straight as the ship sinks.  This is worse than an accident at sea.  We aimed for the rock that broke the hull.

Going back to Volcker, the damage there was done because the tightness of money was supposed to be coupled with the stimulus of tax cuts.  In this situation, we need spending control and fiscal sanity.  We need success with the political movement that says expanding government and printing play money is no way to stabilize, survive or prosper.  But then the Fed needs to right-size its rates before we head back to Jimmy Carter levels of inflation.
5774  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: May 18, 2010, 10:38:54 AM
Large radio host posed an interesting question yesterday... Is it also a Human Rights Violation that the Obama Administration will secure borders, check documents and refuse entry to the White House for the undocumented during the upcoming State Dinner with the Mexican President?  Why would they do that?  How is that different than Arizona's concerns?
5775  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Libertarian Robin Hood? on: May 18, 2010, 12:14:56 AM
Did the legend of Robin Hood steal from the rich and give to the poor as some say or did he fight for liberty and against tyrannical authority?  Interesting commentary in the context of the new Robin Hood film by Cathy Young, contributing editor at Reason magazine.
5776  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Monetary Proposal on: May 18, 2010, 12:02:36 AM
Opinion piece from Financial Times, just food for thought, and for discussion.
New battle plan needed for a crisis-prone world
By Stephen Roach

Published: May 17 2010 16:40 | Last updated: May 17 2010 16:40

The pace and severity of financial crises has taken an ominous turn for the worse. Over the past 30 years, a crisis has occurred, on average, every three years. Yet, now, only 18 months after the meltdown of late 2008, Europe’s sovereign debt crisis has hit with full force. With one crisis seemingly begetting another, and the fuse between crises now getting shorter and shorter, the world economy is on a very treacherous course.

In the aftermath of the Asian financial crisis of the late 1990s, über monetary accommodation fed the equity bubble. Once that bubble burst in 2000, another dose of extraordinary monetary ease set the stage for massive property and credit bubbles. The aftershocks of that post-bubble carnage have now brought Europe to the brink.

Sadly, central banks are doing it again – policy rates near the zero bound in nominal terms and negative in real terms. And in the parlance of the Federal Reserve, this destabilizing condition is likely to persist for an “extended” period. As day follows night, this is a recipe for the next crisis. Whether that crisis is spawned by another asset bubble, a credit binge, or CPI inflation is impossible to say. But any – or all – of these options are conceivable in yet another undisciplined post-crisis climate.

Breaking this daisy chain won’t be easy. But a new approach is desperately needed. History gives us a guide as to how and where to find the answer. Think back to the late 1970s. At the time, there was a deep-rooted sense of despair and hopelessness over the seemingly intractable Great Inflation. Politicians and policy makers were convinced that the system was unwilling – or perhaps unable – to accept the pain of the cure. Sound familiar?

Paul Volcker dispelled that notion – breaking the back of inflation by pushing the federal funds rate up to 19 per cent in 1981. Just as monetary discipline was the answer nearly 30 years ago, I suspect it is the only way out today. For a world in the depths of crisis and despair, another “Volcker moment” may well be at hand.

No, I am not suggesting that central banks tighten monetary policy in the midst of a crisis. But it is high time to banish the moral hazard of macro policy – the false sense of security provided by open-ended fiscal and monetary accommodation as the world lurches from crisis to crisis. Central banks need to lead the way in regaining policy traction by laying out credible and transparent exit strategies from the unprecedented stimulus now in place.

Three things are required here: an explicit target for a “normal” policy rate; a macro forecast that would identify the conditions under which this normalization would occur; and a specific timetable of adjustments in the policy rate that would achieve this result.

As an example of how this approach might work, consider the task of the Federal Reserve.

Step One: Announce a target of restoring the real federal funds rate back to its long-term average of 2 per cent.

Step Two: Lay out a three-year macro forecast of the US economy. For the sake of argument, plug in average real GDP growth and inflation of 2.5 per cent and an unemployment rate that falls back to 6 per cent by the end of 2013.

Step Three: Conditional on that forecast coming to pass, announce a normalization plan of nine moves of 50 basis points in the federal funds rate – spread out over 18 months and commencing as soon as the dust settles on the euro crisis.

This is a hypothetical example of how a new approach might work. Admittedly, it is predicated on an imperfect forecast, and hostage to forces that might render that forecast wide or short of the mark.

But it has the advantage of identifying the parameters of a restoration of monetary discipline – something that has been sorely missing over the past 15 years. And it avoids the perils of the “asymmetrical reaction function” – the aggressive monetary easing in a crisis followed by the baby steps of post-crisis normalization that have allowed the “cure” of one crisis to sow the seeds of the next one.

Central banks are imperfect institutions – and more so in recent years as they have abdicated their political independence. They were outstanding in waging the battle against inflation. They have failed in managing the post-inflation peace. The only hope for a crisis-prone world is a new battle plan.

Stephen Roach is the Chairman of Morgan Stanley Asia and author of The Next Asia (Wiley 2009).
5777  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Hong Kong challenges the non-electoral dictates of Beijing on: May 17, 2010, 11:45:52 PM
Hong Kong by-elections a test for democracy camp AFP
by Peter Brieger  – Sun May 16

HONG KONG (AFP) – Hong Kong on Sunday held by-elections triggered by pro-democracy lawmakers seeking to pressure Beijing into speeding up the pace of electoral reform in the territory.

The election, which has angered Beijing and divided the city's democracy movement, comes after five lawmakers from the Legislative Council quit in January in a bid to force a de facto referendum on reform.

Frustrated by what they say is China's intransigence, the lawmakers had hoped that the move -- which will likely see them all re-elected -- would send the strongest message yet to Beijing since Hong Kong returned to Chinese rule in 1997.

However, the outcome of the vote is seen as academic since all pro-Beijing political parties have boycotted the process.

Under the current electoral system, only half of Hong Kong's 60-seat legislature is directly elected while the rest is selected by the pro-China business elite. Campaigners want the entire parliament to be directly elected.

They also want voters to be able to choose the city's chief executive, who is currently appointed by a Beijing-friendly election committee.

Beijing has said that, at the earliest, Hong Kong's chief executive can be directly elected by 2017 and the legislature by 2020.

Chinese officials have openly denounced the "referendum", calling it a "blatant challenge" to Hong Kong's Basic Law, the city's mini-constitution that guarantees certain civil liberties for citizens of the former British colony.

Democracy figurehead Martin Lee condemned a decision by Donald Tsang, Hong Kong's chief executive, not to cast a ballot. "This is absolutely ridiculous," the founder of Hong Kong's Democratic Party told AFP on Sunday.

"It is a total act of kow-towing to Beijing. This is the problem -- Tsang is not elected by the people."

Tsang said his decision was "purely personal".

"In view of the unique nature of this by-election and after careful consideration, I have decided not to vote," he said in a statement.

"All members of my political team share this view and, of their own accord, have also decided not to vote."

In response, "Long Hair" Leung Kwok-hung, one of the five who resigned his seat, protested outside Tsang's residence on Sunday, calling on the city's leader to cast his ballot.

The radical political activist is famous for wearing Che Guevara T-shirts and throwing bananas at government officials during meetings.

Critics said the poll was unlikely to resolve a deadlock between the government and democrats over the pace of political reform, while surveys indicated turnout was only expected to be around 20 percent.

As of 0745 GMT, about 8.5 percent of Hong Kong's 3.7 million registered voters had cast a ballot, according to government statistics, with polling stations due to close at 1430 GMT.

The government introduced a reform proposal in April to increase the size of the election bodies for chief executive and the legislature in 2012. But opposition parties said they would not accept the proposal.

"It is very clear this government is not accountable to the people of Hong Kong," Tanya Chan, another of the five candidates, told AFP on Sunday.

"We hope the government will give a clear road map (on political reform)."
5778  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Venezuela, road to ruin on: May 17, 2010, 11:38:54 PM
Denny,  That's quite a photo and a story.  It must be fun to steal other people's wealth and destroy it but like the story says, it is a "road to ruin".  Why would anyone ever invest and create wealth again?  For some reason the socialists think wealth destruction is a good thing.
5779  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Kagan, her record is thin but dangerously consistent on: May 17, 2010, 07:58:23 PM
"...while her record is thin, it is dangerously consistent.

In United States v Stevens, which Kagan argued and lost on behalf of a law passed by Congress which criminalized “the commercial creation, sale, or possession of certain depictions of animal cruelty," she suggested in a written brief that "Whether a given category of speech enjoys 1st Amendment protection depends upon a categorical balancing of the value of the speech against its societal costs."

In his 8-1 majority opinion, Chief Justice Roberts reaction to Kagan's assertion was as fierce a statement as I've seen from his pen:

“As a free-floating test for 1st Amendment coverage, that sentence is startling and dangerous. The 1st Amendment's guarantee of free speech does not extend only to categories of speech that survive an ad hoc balancing of relative social costs and benefits. The 1st Amendment itself reflects a judgment by the American people that the benefits of its restrictions on the government outweigh the costs. Our Constitution forecloses any attempt to revise that judgment simply on the basis that some speech is not worth it. The Constitution is not a document ‘prescribing limits, and declaring that those limits may be passed at pleasure.’"

Does anybody wonder who Kagan believes would be the arbiter of such a test? The federal bureaucracy, no doubt. But the details of the test aren't as important as Kagan's assault on Americans' most fundamental right—freedom of speech.

Less than a year earlier, in Citizens United v Federal Election Commission, Kagan and her office argued that the "McCain-Feingold" Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act would theoretically allow the government to ban electioneering communication or publication 30 or 60 days before an election.

As in Stevens, Kagan ran into the buzzsaw of John Roberts who, in a concurring opinion in the 5-4 decision overturning some of McCain-Feingold's key provisions, gave Kagan this slap-down:

“The government urges us in this case to uphold a direct prohibition on political speech. It asks us to embrace a theory of the 1st Amendment that would allow censorship not only of television and radio broadcasts, but of pamphlets, posters, the Internet, and virtually any other medium that corporations and unions might find useful in expressing their views on matters of public concern. Its theory, if accepted, would empower the government to prohibit newspapers from running editorials or opinion pieces supporting or opposing candidates for office, so long as the newspapers were owned by corporations—as the major ones are. 1st Amendment rights could be confined to individuals, subverting the vibrant public discourse that is at the foundation of our democracy.

“The court properly rejects that theory, and I join its opinion in full. The 1st Amendment protects more than just the individual on a soapbox and the lonely pamphleteer.”

Roberts' reference to pamphlets was not accidental: During oral argument in September, 2009, there was this telling back and forth between the chief justice and the out-of-her-depth Kagan, following Kagan's response to Justice Scalia about banning books (which Kagan said the government wouldn't do):

Chief Justice Roberts: But...we don't put our 1st Amendment rights in the hands of FEC bureaucrats; and if you say that you are not going to apply it to a book, what about a pamphlet?

Solicitor General Kagan: I think a—a pamphlet would be different. A pamphlet is pretty classic electioneering, so there is no attempt to say that [the law] only applies to video and not to print.

Got that? Kagan argued that McCain-Feingold means the government could ban the next Common Sense, the next Thomas Paine or Daniel DeFoe, because they might have the temerity to care and opine about who gets elected to political power in the United States. And we're just taking her word for it that, had she not lost that case as well, government wouldn't determine that there's basically no difference between a book and a pamphlet, so why draw the line at banning pamphlets?

Kagan's hostility toward the plain meaning of the 1st Amendment is nothing new. In a 1996 paper (PDF) for the University of Chicago Law Review (she was a professor at the University of Chicago at the same time that Barack Obama was a lecturer there), Kagan suggested that the government's motives in restricting speech should be important factors in whether those restrictions are upheld by a court. She wonders aloud, in eye-opening Socialist language "what view of the 1st Amendment accounts for the court's refusal to allow, by means of restrictions, the redistribution of expression?"

You read that right; she said "redistribution of expression."

She continues: "The question remains, however, why the court should treat as especially suspicious content-neutral regulations of speech—such as the regulations in Buckley—that are justified in terms of achieving diversity." You can already hear her ruling in a sure-to-come challenge to the re-imposition of the Fairness Doctrine meant to muzzle talk-radio conservatives in the guise of increasing "diversity of opinion".

Similar to her argument in Stevens which implies a government arbiter of speech, Kagan makes this remarkable statement in her paper: "If there is an ‘overabundance’ of an idea in the absence of direct governmental action—which there well might be when compared with some ideal state of public debate—then action disfavoring that idea might ‘unskew,’ rather than skew, public discourse."

5780  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: May 17, 2010, 06:19:11 PM
"YOU will be on O'Reilly?  shocked  How very cool!  cool  We would love an AAR! grin

No, No, No...  I was quoting John Hinderacker of Powerline.  I must be more careful with my punctuation!  I will update the post with QUOTATION MARKS.
5781  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Media Issues, Coverage of the China Apology on: May 17, 2010, 11:52:50 AM
Following up on GM's post from that the US has apologized to China for the Arizona law and other 'human rights abuses', John Hinderacker of Powerline reports that:

"Bill O'Reilly plans to lead off his show tonight with the Obama administration's apology to China for Arizona's new immigration law and other supposed American "human rights violations." I will be on the show at the top of the first hour, at around 5:00 Eastern time."

"UPDATE: Even as the State Department trashes Arizona to other countries, Rasmussen reports that 55 percent of voters favor a law like Arizona's for their state. Could the Obama administration possibly be more out of touch?"

Further update at the link.
5782  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Obama Phenomena on: May 17, 2010, 11:40:00 AM
CCP,  Good point, 48% is a pretty high rating for this level of failure.  The popularity of some of the policies have dropped below the personal approvals and that is encouraging.  Among the 48% there some we need to persuade and the rest that we need to defeat politically (from my point of view).  

I posted the VDH piece but I think it is a mistake to go too far down the road of exposing and defeating this person Obama.  It is the mindset that needs defeating, as you put it: "freebies at others expense" or as Congressman Paul Ryan put it: "more takers than makers".

I recall obsessing over Whitewater and all the lies of the Clinton insiders, but it was the attempt at over-expansion of government, not personal failings, that brought in the Gringrich congress, welfare reform, capital gains tax rate cuts and a balanced budget.

A serious move in the direction of reforming "freebies at others expense" today could alleviate the border crisis, election fraud, the deficit, the debt, the monetary problems, the unemployment rate, the state bankruptcies, the housing crisis, education costs and the healthcare spiral IMHO.  
5783  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: May 17, 2010, 10:53:58 AM
Everyone should read the law and be 10 pages ahead of Eric Holder the chief law enforcement officer of the United States, and the President who lies about the law.

It is NOT immigration law as I read it. Immigration status is 100% established by the federal government.  It merely creates new state penalties and enforcement procedures for what is already unlawful under federal law.

An apology to the Chinese for Arizona??  The departments of immigration and homeland security should be apologizing to Arizona.

This situation has the potential for exploding into something much larger.
5784  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Libertarian Issues on: May 17, 2010, 10:03:28 AM
BBG: "We need to start with the "war" metaphor as that headset justifies all the excesses that follow."  - agree

"We need to acknowledge that abject failure is all the hundreds of billions of dollars spent on the WOD has bought us."   - agree

"We need to consider if the pursuit of altered mental states is somehow hardwired into the human psyche and, if so, let that understanding guide our response."   - Yes with limits.  I see this under the area of the privacy of your own home and your own time but am not interested in bus drivers, air traffic controllers or eye surgeons pursuing altered states on the job, for examples.

The comparison with prohibition I can follow; the comparisons to smallpox and slavery I cannot.

My questions remain, do you see any value in political incrementalism here such as my suggestion of decriminalizing over legalizing or distinguishing between softer recreational drugs and harder narcotics?

In spite of the failure and unintended consequences of the WOD, do you see any unintended consequences or potential failures of instant and full legalization?

Do you welcome the barrage of advertising the new legalized industry would bring, especially in the context of those of us who have a teenager at home, or would then be a prohibition on that form of free speech?

Do you suggest putting full legalization front and center in the 2010 and 2012 campaigns despite polling data GM posted and the fact that parties that have already done that typically receive 1% of the vote or less?
5785  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / America 101 (The Obama Phenomena) on: May 16, 2010, 12:03:14 AM
I prefer to focus on the way forward, but a big part of it is to recognize exactly where we are right now.  The governing mistakes as we see them is what is uniting and energizing a new movement.  I would challenge any supporter to point out anything in this or the previous, Crafty's Procter & Gamble post, that is untrue or unfair criticism.
America 101 With Dean Obama,  (Victor Davis Hanson, Works and Days)

America is now a campus, and Obama is our Dean

This is the strangest presidency I have seen in my lifetime. President Obama gives soaring lectures on civility, but still continues his old campaign invective (“get in their face,” “bring a gun to a knife fight,” etc.) with new attacks  on particular senators, Rush Limbaugh, and entire classes of people—surgeons, insurers, Wall Street, those at Fox News, tea-partiers, etc.

And like the campaign, he still talks of bipartisanship (remember, he was the most partisan politician in the Senate), but has rammed through health care without a single Republican vote. His entire agenda—federal take-overs of businesses, near two-trillion-dollar deficits, health care, amnesty, and cap and trade—does not earn a majority in the polls. Indeed, the same surveys reveal him to be the most polarizing president in memory.

His base was hyper-critical of deficit spending under Bush, the war on terror, Iraq and Afghanistan, and government involvement with Wall Street. But suddenly even the most vocal of the left have gone silent as Obama’s felonies have trumped Bush’s misdemeanors on every count.

All this reminds me of the LaLa land of academia. Let me explain.

That Was Then, This is Now

Last week, Obama was at it again. He blasted the oil companies and his own government for lax regulation in the Gulf, apparently convinced that no one in the media would consider his last 16 months of governance in any way responsible for, well, federal governance. (I don’t have strong views on the degree of culpability a president has for lax federal agencies amid disasters, only that I learned from the media between 2004-8 that a president must accept a great deal blame after most catastrophes [at least Katrina was nature- rather than human- induced].)

Obama also trashed, inter alia, Halliburton for the spill, as he had done on other matters ritually in the campaign (“I will finally end the abuse of no-bid contracts once and for all,” “The days of sweetheart deals for Halliburton will be over when I’m in the White House”). Obama seemed to assume that few cared that his administration just gave Halliburton a $568 million no-bid contract.

Standards for Thee, But Not …

When a Senator Obama a while back weighed in on the ill-fated Harriet Miers, he quite logically predicated his skepticism on a dearth of publications (though I found that embarrassing at the time since Senator/Law Professor Obama was essentially without a record of scholarly work), and an absence of judicial experience—both legitimate concerns. So, of course, are we now to expect Obama to talk up his recent Supreme Court nominee Ms. Kagan, and ignore her relative lack of scholarly experience without a judicial past (sort of like being secretary of education without having taught anything)? Does the president, who as a senator voted to deny a court seat to Alito and Roberts, think Kagan is better qualified than either, and, if so, on what grounds—more scholarship, more judicial experience, a more diverse upbringing, intangible criteria like once recruiting Barack Obama?

I once wondered during the campaign whether such serial contradictions in the Obama narrative ever mattered. During his denials of ever hearing Rev. Wright engage in the pastor’s trademark hate speech, I recalled Obama’s 2004 interview with the Sun-Times when he was running for the Senate and wanted to boast of his religious fides. When asked, “Do you still attend Trinity?” Obama snapped right back, “Yep. Every week. 11 o’clock service.” Every week, but mysteriously not those in which Wright did his customary race-bashing?

When for the first time since 1976 a presidential candidate reneged on promises to participate in pubic financing in the general relations, I remembered Obama’s early promise to do the opposite. The press slept on that.

The list of his blatant contradictions could be multiplied. I’ve written here about the past demagoguing on tribunals, Predators, Guantanamo, renditions, Afghanistan, Iraq, wiretaps, intercepts, and the Patriot Act, and the subsequent Obama embrace of all of them, in some cases even trumping Bush in his exuberance.

The Never-ending Story

We could play this game with the entire health care debate—all on C-SPAN, will save billions, not cost billions as the CBO now attests, etc.—the pledge not to hire lobbyists or allow earmarks, to pledge to post legislation for a specified time on the government website, the pledge to prohibit his team from returning within 2 years to the private lobbying revolving door, and so on.

The blatant hypocrisy and untruths are superimposed on a constant (it has not yet begun to let up in his second year) refrain of either “Bush did it” or “the opposition won’t let me be bipartisan.”

Where does this disregard for the truth arise? On the most superficial level, of course, Obama realizes that the media is obsequious and sanctions almost anything he does.  He knows that his base was always interested in power, not principle (has anyone seen any war protests the last few weeks against Afghanistan or Iraq, or Guantanamo, or the quadrupling of Predator attacks? Or for that matter, are there anti-Obama Hispanic protests over the increased crackdown on employers and greater deportations than during the Bush era?).

America 101

Yet again, neither the press nor his chameleon followers quite explain what is going on. Instead, I think we, the American people, are seen by Obama as a sort of Ivy League campus, with him as an untouchable dean. So we get the multicultural bromides, the constant groupthink, and the reinvention of the self that we see so often among a professional class of administrator in universities (we used to get their memos daily and they read like an Obama teleprompted speech).  Given his name, pedigree, charisma, and eloquence, Obama could say or do almost anything—in the way race/class/gender adjudicate reality on campus, or perhaps in the manner the old gentleman C, pedigreed rich students at prewar Princeton sleepwalked through their bachelor’s degrees, almost as a birthright. (I am willing to apologize for this crude analogy when the Obama Columbia undergraduate transcript is released and explains his next rung Harvard.) In other words, the public does not grasp to what degree supposedly elite universities simply wave their own rules when they find it convenient.

In academia, there are few consequences for much of anything; but in Obama’s case his legal career at Chicago seems inexplicable without publications (and even more surreal when Law Dean Kagan laments on tape her difficulties in recruiting him to the law school—but how would that be possible when a five- or six-book law professor from a Texas or UC Irvine would never get such an offer from a Chicago or Harvard?).

What You Say You Are

On an elite university campus what you have constructed yourself into always matters more than what you have done. An accent mark here, a hyphenated name there is always worth a book or two. There is no bipartisanship or indeed any political opposition on campuses; if the Academic Senate weighs in on national issues to “voice concern,” the ensuing margin of vote is usually along the lines of Saddam’s old lopsided referenda.

In other words, Obama assumed as dean he would talk one way, do another, and was confident he could “contextualize” and “construct” a differing narrative—to anyone foolish enough who questioned the inconsistency. As we have seen with Climategate, or the Gore fraud, intent always trumps empiricism in contemporary intellectual circles. Obama simply cannot be held to the same standard we apply to most other politicians—given his heritage, noble intention, and landmark efforts to transform America into something far fairer.

Like so many academics, Obama becomes petulant when crossed, and like them as well, he “deigns” to know very little out of his field (from Cinco de Mayo to the liberation of Auschwitz), and only a little more in it. Obama voiced the two main gospels of the elite campus: support for redistributive mechanisms with other people’s wealth; and while abroad, a sort of affirmative action for less successful nations: those who are failing and criticized the U.S. under Bush proved insightful and worthy of outreach ( a Russia or Syria); but those who allied themselves with us (an Israel or Colombia) are now suspect.

The Intrusions of the Real World

How does our tenure with Obama as dean end?

I have no idea other than I think at some point Obama’s untruths, hypocrisies, and contradictions will, in their totality, finally remind the voter he is not a student.

After all, America is not a campus. It has real jobs that are not lifelong sinecures. Americans work summers. There are consequences when rhetoric does not match reality. Outside of Harvard or Columbia, debt has to be paid back and is not called stimulus. We worry about jobs lost, not those in theory created or saved. We don’t blame predecessors for our own ongoing failures. Those who try to kill us are enemies, whose particular grievances we don’t care much to know about. Diversity is lived rather than professed; temporizing is not seen as reflection, but weakness.

And something not true is not a mere competing narrative, but a flat-out lie.
5786  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Libertarian Issues on: May 15, 2010, 01:58:14 PM
I would rather move toward decriminalization than legalization.  What you self-grow and self-consume on your own property would already be legal if the constitution was interpreted with any meaning or consistency.  As much as I want to move with you in a libertarian direction, I already don't appreciate Viagra/Cialis commercials during prime-time family television much less want to see the beginning of ad agencies glamorizing pot.  I am not anti-pot but don't have any desire to see it more out in the open nor to have government expanded to take over the control and distribution, and don't kid yourself - they would. (IMHO)

I assume you would look at cocaine, crack, meth, the date rape drug and hard narcotics differently, but also I have seen pot over-use mess up plenty of people's lives.  It comes down to what is government's role when some  can enjoy it for relaxation and for others it becomes an obsession if not an addiction.

I remember the story about the lab mouse given one dispenser of cocaine and one of food, then he starved to death based on his choices.  Also the story of the pot addicts who held up the bakery but forgot to empty the register - but i digress.

If we wanted to move this large ship in a gradually more libertarian direction there are a lot of other less controversial steps we could take first before drug legalization.  Legalizing the lemonade stand would be a start; it violates literally dozens of ordinances in most municipalities.  Minneapolis shut down a church-based clothing shelf right before Christmas one cold winter for license and zoning violations. A landlord with a PhD in EE can't change his own smoke detector without a contractor license and an informed patient can't authorize their own pain remedy.

The bulk of street drug abuse in my observation is tied to our welfare system.  Generalizing a bit about the inner city, but the breadwinner of the family is the woman who can have children and qualify for increasing amounts of assistance leaving the male not needed for support and free to pursue other interests.  If we cleaned up the free lunch / free ride from within our public system and forced the able minded and able bodied to self-support, they might traffic less and indulge more responsiblibly with their own hard earned money and their own need to get up and be sharp the next morning.

The war on drugs was a failure, okay, so we go back to more traditional methods like re-evaluating penalties and arresting and prosecuting only after evidence of a crime has come to the attention of law enforcement.
5787  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: May 14, 2010, 12:14:34 PM
CCP, You are 100% right on the national issue being all about politics.  Obama wants and needs the new people legalized based on projected voting and he wants the R's portrayed as opposing it based on ethnicity.  It seems to me though that the property owners of AZ are at wits end because of trespassing, kidnapping etc. not ethnicity.  I agree that the marketing of that message must be done very carefully and precisely.

5788  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Political Economics, Scott Grannis and the best economists on: May 14, 2010, 11:45:59 AM
I agree with Crafty that Scott's site is a wonderful read for economic analysis.  He has very timely and telling charts analysis from a very wide range of great sources with his own excellent insights.   I also agree with Crafty that I am not as optimistic going forward as the some of the best supply side economists.

Asking economists to tell us the future is not fair.  I am perfectly happy to judge them by their ability to analyze what has already happened which is hard enough.  In economics, hindsight is NOT always 20/20.  I have found Scott to be among the very best in the profession, along with IMO Brian Wesbury, David Malpass and others.  I have benefited greatly from Scott's insights at Gilder and OP as well as currently at the Calafia Beach Pundit site.

What we have right now is an unknown impending storm of negative public policy forces attacking the most successful private market system in history.  It is impossible IMO to say right now who will win. 

Some form of socialized medicine already passed but no one knows the impact on the economy because of the delay to implement and the possible change of power in congress later this year.

We have cap and trade policies coming to destroy our industries or we don't. 

We have a massive tax hike on investors and employers ("ending the Bush tax cuts on the rich") at the end of this year or we don't. 

We have a domino effect coming from collapsing countries and states or it will be somewhat isolated and we mostly survive it. 

Our trillion and a half dollar annual deficit will either be financeable until we can get it under control or it won't.

And our currency... either we have already set ourselves on a course where we have borrowed, expanded and printed it to the point of it becoming worthless and meaningless or we haven't.  Depends on some other factors partly unknown.

The very best golf (or fight) analyst can tell you the all about the players in the game, past performance, swing dynamics, training techniques, equipment changes, confidence levels, etc. but none will tell you accurately what their scores of the Masters will be before the tournament.  That's why they play the game.
5789  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Political Economics, Community organizing in bankrupt Illinois on: May 14, 2010, 11:04:50 AM
Prentice, Your illustration of Illinois going bankrupt is right on the money.  The "community organizing" was always in the direction of anti-capitalism.  Lobbying the government to take from those who earned it and give to those who didn't.  They fought the rights of property owners to evict, the rights of mortgage holders to foreclose and the right of lenders to discriminate based on creditworthyness. The assumption is that the rich are so rich, America is so rich that no effort at 'social justice', welfare 'rights', expansion of government, bloated public employees payrolls and pensions, increase of tax rates, destruction of incentives etc etc will have any negative affect on the economy or jobs whatsoever. 

They were wrong.

What they should have been doing is establishing free market zones starting with the legalization of lemonade stands in the worst neighborhoods of Chicago and show the youth early how to build earned wealth.
5790  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: May 14, 2010, 10:47:44 AM
"why do we tolerate 50K illegal Irish in NYC?  Why is this not as outrageous as the Latinos coming here illegally?  What is the difference?"

Your point on principle is valid, but the issue of the moment is the Arizona law and that would most certainly apply to illegals from Ireland.  Most supporters nationwide of the Arizona law would like to see it duplicated elsewhere.

I think we already agreed Hannity is not the brightest light nor a leader in the movement nor running for anything.  I assume he was blindsided by that statistic, if true. 

My primary justification for border control and document checking comes from learning about the 19 hijackers who lived among us for the wrong reasons so I should not sneeze at 50,000 as a small number.  But 50k is not 20 million, when you ask what is the difference. Another difference is that we don't share a border with Ireland so checking the entry is a possible. Like with the hijackers, I imagine they overstay their visas, live and hide among us while law enforcement turns a blind eye even when discovered in a traffic stop for example.  NYC (and the rest)should end its own safe haven for illegals status if it wants people to have respect for the law.
5791  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government Programs, spending, budget process on: May 06, 2010, 11:17:17 AM
Spoof of GM CEO explaining how they re-paid the loan.  Sounds about right.
5792  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Way Forward for the American Creed on: May 06, 2010, 12:37:09 AM
Thank you CCP! More Black Republicans are running for congress than ever before.  Allen West sounds very good to me.  I listened to him here on a Laura Ingraham archive following your post:

Of course there is a shortage of people of color in the Republican Party when 19 out of 20 African-Americans voted for Obama.  West spells it out.  We don't compete based on selling Democrat-Lite.  We stand for a set of principles and ask people to join with us with those principles.

He says that if the tea party is only for white people maybe he just has a very good tan.

Florida 22 is the East coast from Palm Beach down to Fort Lauderdale. Allen West lost in 2008 by 9.5%, very possibly winnable this year.

5793  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants on: May 05, 2010, 12:35:14 PM
Pres. Bush paid a political price over Katrina because big government is lousy at delivering goods and services.  Obama may or may not pay a political price over the abysmal federal response in the gulf - failure to even execute its own emergency response plan.  In the mortgage crisis, the oversight committee actually made things worse instead of preventing or alleviating the crisis.  The SEC administrators it turns out were addicted to porn and happy to have free internet at work.  Most of what is wrong with healthcare originates from government's already heavy involvement in it.  Every government subsidy to make higher education affordable drives up the cost of higher education.  Government measures poverty by not counting any of the subsidies we already pay to alleviate poverty and measure homelessness by not counting the money we spend to house the homeless.

This week in the housing business I dug out a green area to replace it with pavement to comply with City of Minneapolis inspection orders that have the power to fine, assess and take my property if I don't comply while other departments of the City Government meet with their highly paid staffs in their prime real estate downtown offices to figure out where we can put in more green area in place of pavement.

Beware when politicians of any and all stripes tell you that we need to 'do something' or that 'we can do more'.  Maybe we should consider doing less.
5794  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Obama Should Heed His Own Advice on: May 05, 2010, 12:20:07 PM
Peter Wehner - 05.04.2010 - Commentary Magazine

This weekend President Obama delivered the University of Michigan commencement address and returned to a favorite theme of his: the need for civility and respect in public discourse. In the president’s words:

    The… way to keep our democracy healthy is to maintain a basic level of civility in our public debate…. we cannot expect to solve our problems if all we do is tear each other down. You can disagree with a certain policy without demonizing the person who espouses it. You can question someone’s views and their judgment without questioning their motives or their patriotism. Throwing around phrases like “socialist” and “Soviet-style takeover;” “fascist” and “right-wing nut” may grab headlines, but it also has the effect of comparing our government, or our political opponents, to authoritarian, and even murderous regimes.

    … The problem is that this kind of vilification and over-the-top rhetoric closes the door to the possibility of compromise. It undermines democratic deliberation. It prevents learning — since after all, why should we listen to a “fascist” or “socialist” or “right-wing nut?” It makes it nearly impossible for people who have legitimate but bridgeable differences to sit down at the same table and hash things out. It robs us of a rational and serious debate that we need to have about the very real and very big challenges facing this nation. It coarsens our culture, and at its worst, it can send signals to the most extreme elements of our society that perhaps violence is a justifiable response.

    So what can we do about this?

    As I’ve found out after a year in the White House, changing this type of slash and burn politics isn’t easy. And part of what civility requires is that we recall the simple lesson most of us learned from our parents: treat others as you would like to be treated, with courtesy and respect.

These are wise words that should be taken seriously. Especially by the president himself.

I say that because President Obama’s party and his chief defenders — including the DNC, Speaker Pelosi, and Majority Reid — have routinely engaged in the kind of vilification the president condemns. Think of the assault on the Tea Party Movement and those who attended town-hall meetings last summer; they were accused of being racists and bigots, “an angry mob,” practitioners of “un-American tactics,” “astroturfers” and Nazi-like, and potential Timothy McVeighs. Harry Reid referred to people who showed up at town-hall meetings as “evil-mongers.” Representative Alay Grayson, in characterizing the GOP health-care plans, said that “the Republicans want you to die quickly if you get sick…. This is what the Republicans want you to do.”

On and on it goes, issue after issue, slander after slander. Yet President Obama has done nothing to call off the attack dogs in his own party, despite his enormous influence with them.

In fact, Obama himself has engaged in ad hominem attacks to a degree that is unusual for a president. He constantly impugns the motives of those who have policy disagreements with him. His critics are greedy, venal, irresponsible, demagogic, cynical, bought and paid for, spreaders of misinformation, distorters of truth. “More than any President in memory,” the Wall Street Journal recently editorialized, “Mr. Obama has a tendency to vilify his opponents in personal terms and assail their arguments as dishonest, illegitimate or motivated by bad faith.”

So President Obama lacerates his critics for engaging in the very activity he denounces. And he does so in the haughtiest way imaginable, always attempting to portray himself as hovering above us mere mortals, exasperated at the childish and petty quality of the political debate, weary of the name-calling. How hard it must be to be the embodiment of Socratic discourse, Solomonic wisdom, and Niebuhrian nuance in this fallen and broken world.

Here is the rather unpleasant reality, though: our president fancies himself a public intellectual of the highest order — think Walter Lippmann as chief executive — even as he and his team are accomplished practitioners of the Chicago Way. They relish targeting those on their enemies list. The president himself pretends to engage his critics’ arguments even as his words are used like a flamethrower in a field of straw men. It’s hard to tell if we’re watching a man engaged in an elaborate political shell game or a victim of an extraordinary, and nearly clinical, case of self-delusion. Perhaps there is some of both at play. Regardless, President Obama’s act became tiresome long ago.

I am reminded of the line from Emerson: “The louder he talked of his honor, the faster we counted our spoons.”
5795  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Gov. Haley Barbour on the BP Oil Spill on: May 05, 2010, 12:16:49 PM

BLITZER: How worried should the folks in Mississippi be right now about the beautiful coastline along the Gulf of Mexico?

BARBOUR: Well, we need to be prepared. My view of this is when you pray for the best, prepare for the worst. But a lot of people are assuming that this is going to be catastrophic, and that is not a safe assumption.

Right now, there's no oil within 50 miles of the Mississippi. Eighty percent of the oil slick, as it's called and appropriately -- 80 percent is literally just sheen or film right on top of -- on top of the water. That is not toxic. It's not particularly damaging.

I mean, we don't want it to come ashore in Mississippi, but it's manageable. It's a manageable problem. Our people on the coast are getting ready.

And I do think a lot of people in the country are being led to believe that this is already some gigantic catastrophe. Well, that's not the case and we're going it try to keep it from ever being the case.

BLITZER: I think what some of those who are really worried hear most, if it isn't contained within the next, you know, few weeks, if it goes on two or three months, it will be a much worse problem for the Gulf of Mexico, for the folks in Louisiana and Mississippi, Alabama and Florida, than the Exxon Valdez spill was in Alaska.

BARBOUR: Well, people say that. And that is certainly a possibility. If the well were to break back open and be flowing and at maximum potential, if it did that for 90 days -- yes, then it could be a terrible catastrophe. That hasn't happened yet, may not happen.

You mentioned the containment dome. There's been great work done in the last 72 hours putting dispersant into the oil right above the wellhead, and it looks like that is breaking up the oil and greatly reducing what comes to the surface.

Look, we're not happy with what's going on by a long shot. But we haven't come to the conclusion that this is a have-to-be catastrophe because it doesn't have to be.

BLITZER: I was just reading a story. The governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger, says it's time now to stop drilling or at least stop expanding oil drilling off the California coast until they get to the bottom of what happened in the Gulf of Mexico. Would that be wise right now to stop offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico?

BARBOUR: Well, it certainly wouldn't be wise to stop the Gulf of Mexico. We've drilled thousands and thousands and thousands of oil wells in the Gulf of Mexico. And this -- this collapse and this spill is very, very, very fierce, but it is also one out of thousands of wells that have been drilled. We produce about 30 percent of the nation's oil in the Gulf of Mexico. We produce -- we used to produce about 25 percent of the natural gas. That percentage is declining, but oil drilling in our gulf has been safe 40 years, even through Katrina. Now we've had a terrible accident and incident. We need to get to the bottom of it, but we don't need to shut it down.
5796  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Factchecking ObamaCare on: May 05, 2010, 12:08:13 PM
Source: Indy Star

NEW ORLEANS -- Just five weeks since the president of the United States signed Obamacare into law, it already resembles an overweight airplane lumbering down the tarmac, poised to crash and burn soon after takeoff. Obamacare's excess cargo of broken promises threatens such a catastrophe.

"The plan I'm announcing tonight," President Barack Obama promised a joint session of Congress last Sept. 9, "will slow the growth of health-care costs for our families, our businesses, and our government."

Not so fast, warns Medicare's Office of the Actuary. In a devastating, independent, 38-page analysis released on April 22, Chief Actuary Richard Foster forecast, "The growth rate reductions from productivity adjustments are unlikely to be sustainable on a permanent annual basis . . . We show a negligible financial impact over the next 10 years for the other provisions intended to help control future health-care cost growth."

"This is an objective report by administration actuaries that shows this sweeping legislation has serious, serious problems," says health-policy analyst Grace-Marie Turner of the Galen Institute. Foster's study delineates the canyon between Obama's warm words and the chilly disappointment that awaits those who expect Obamacare to do good.

"We will have a health-care plan that actually works for you, reduces spending and costs over the long term," Obama promised at the Oct. 7, 2008 presidential debate, among other appearances.

In fact, Foster calculates, the plan will boost U.S. health spending by $311 billion through 2019, while federal medical outlays will grow "by a net total of $251 billion."

"If you like your health-care plan, you will be able to keep your health-care plan. Period. No one will take it away. No matter what," Obama promised the American Medical Association last June 15, and on numerous other occasions.

This guarantee will turn to dust, Foster predicts. "Some smaller employers would be inclined to terminate their existing coverage," he explains. Elsewhere, "the penalties would not be a substantial deterrent to dropping or foregoing coverage." Thanks to these and similar factors, "We estimate that such actions would collectively reduce the number of people with employer-sponsored health coverage by about 14 million," Foster writes.

NEW ORLEANS -- Just five weeks since the president of the United States signed Obamacare into law, it already resembles an overweight airplane lumbering down the tarmac, poised to crash and burn soon after takeoff. Obamacare's excess cargo of broken promises threatens such a catastrophe.

"The plan I'm announcing tonight," President Barack Obama promised a joint session of Congress last Sept. 9, "will slow the growth of health-care costs for our families, our businesses, and our government."

Not so fast, warns Medicare's Office of the Actuary. In a devastating, independent, 38-page analysis released on April 22, Chief Actuary Richard Foster forecast, "The growth rate reductions from productivity adjustments are unlikely to be sustainable on a permanent annual basis . . . We show a negligible financial impact over the next 10 years for the other provisions intended to help control future health-care cost growth."

"This is an objective report by administration actuaries that shows this sweeping legislation has serious, serious problems," says health-policy analyst Grace-Marie Turner of the Galen Institute. Foster's study delineates the canyon between Obama's warm words and the chilly disappointment that awaits those who expect Obamacare to do good.

"We will have a health-care plan that actually works for you, reduces spending and costs over the long term," Obama promised at the Oct. 7, 2008 presidential debate, among other appearances.

In fact, Foster calculates, the plan will boost U.S. health spending by $311 billion through 2019, while federal medical outlays will grow "by a net total of $251 billion."

"If you like your health-care plan, you will be able to keep your health-care plan. Period. No one will take it away. No matter what," Obama promised the American Medical Association last June 15, and on numerous other occasions.

This guarantee will turn to dust, Foster predicts. "Some smaller employers would be inclined to terminate their existing coverage," he explains. Elsewhere, "the penalties would not be a substantial deterrent to dropping or foregoing coverage." Thanks to these and similar factors, "We estimate that such actions would collectively reduce the number of people with employer-sponsored health coverage by about 14 million," Foster writes.
(2 of 2)

"I can make a firm pledge," Obama told Dover, New Hampshire voters on Sept. 12, 2008. "Under my plan, no family making less than $250,000 a year will see any form of tax increase. Not your income tax, not your payroll tax, not your capital gains taxes, not any of your taxes."

Obamacare's first 10 years of operations would cost $2.5 trillion. This massive new expenditure, plus Washington's other spendaholic commitments, explains Obama's eagerness to jettison his oft-repeated commitment not to raise taxes on Americans who earn less than $250,000 annually.

To finance Obamacare and their other pricey projects, many Washington Democrats crave a national sales tax. Obamacare already features $569 billion in new taxes on -- among other things -- prescription drugs, medical devices, health insurance plans, and even tanning salons. These levies will trickle down to couples with annual incomes below $250,000, and individuals under $200,000. Rather than keep his promise, Obama triumphantly signed these health-related tax hikes.

Regarding a national sales levy -- atop the income tax and countless tributes that tread on Americans as if with cleated boots -- Obama refuses to reject it. In fact, Americans for Tax Reform noted Obama's remarks as he introduced his deficit commission on Tuesday: "It's important that we not restrict the review or the recommendations that this commission comes up with in any way. Everything has to be on the table."

Unveiled in 2008, "Barack Obama's Plan for a Healthy America" was designed for "Making health insurance universal."

After all this hassle and expense, Richard Foster concludes, "an estimated 23 million people{$326} would remain uninsured in 2019."

Before Obamacare gets airborne, only to plow swiftly into a nearby cornfield, this Congress -- or a clean one elected next November -- urgently must cancel this flight, disembark its enraged passengers and replace this rusty bucket with a viable aircraft.
5797  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Energy Politics: government bungling - not a single fire boom on hand on: May 04, 2010, 10:53:11 AM
EPA has a discretionary budget of over $10 Billion, Dept of Interior -even more.  Off-shore drilling was on the agenda, announced months ago.  A fire boom could have contained 95% of this spill, costs a few hundred thousand.  Not a one anywhere near the gulf.  Feds didn't even know if they owned one; found one in storage.  [Soon this storyline will be your healthcare.]

Despite plan, not a single fire boom on hand on Gulf Coast at time of oil spill
By Ben Raines  May 03, 2010  Source: Alabama Press-Register

(See photo at link) An image provided by Carmi, Ill.-based Elastec/American Marine shows an oil burn being conducted in one of its patented Hydro-Fire Boom systems. The inflatable, fire-resistant, water-cooled boom was developed to contain surface oil and burn it offshore, helping prevent destruction of critical environmentally sensitive shoreline habitats, company officials said.

If U.S. officials had followed up on a 1994 response plan for a major Gulf oil spill, it is possible that the spill could have been kept under control and far from land.

The problem: The federal government did not have a single fire boom on hand.

April 28, 2010 image made from video released by the Deepwater Horizon Response Unified Command, shows an in situ burn in the Gulf of Mexico, in response to the oil spill after the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon. The "In-Situ Burn" plan produced by federal agencies in 1994 calls for responding to a major oil spill in the Gulf with the immediate use of fire booms.

But in order to conduct a successful test burn eight days after the Deepwater Horizon well began releasing massive amounts of oil into the Gulf, officials had to purchase one from a company in Illinois.

When federal officials called, Elastec/American Marine, shipped the only boom it had in stock, Jeff Bohleber, chief financial officer for Elastec, said today.

At federal officials' behest, the company began calling customers in other countries and asking if the U.S. government could borrow their fire booms for a few days, he said.

A single fire boom being towed by two boats can burn up to 1,800 barrels of oil an hour, Bohleber said. That translates to 75,000 gallons an hour, raising the possibility that the spill could have been contained at the accident scene 100 miles from shore.

"They said this was the tool of last resort. No, this is absolutely the asset of first use. Get in there and start burning oil before the spill gets out of hand," Bohleber said. "If they had six or seven of these systems in place when this happened and got out there and started burning, it would have significantly lessened the amount of oil that got loose."

In the days after the rig sank, U.S Coast Guard Rear Admiral Mary Landry said the government had all the assets it needed. She did not discuss why officials waited more than a week to conduct a test burn. (Watch video footage of the test burn.)

At the time, former National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration oil spill response coordinator Ron Gouguet -- who helped craft the 1994 plan -- told the Press-Register that officials had pre-approval for burning. "The whole reason the plan was created was so we could pull the trigger right away."

Gouguet speculated that burning could have captured 95 percent of the oil as it spilled from the well.

Bohleber said that his company was bringing several fire booms from South America, and he believed the National Response Center discovered that it had one in storage.

Each boom costs a few hundred thousand dollars, Bohleber said, declining to give a specific price.

Made of flame-retardant fabric, each boom has two pumps that push water through its 500-foot length. Two boats tow the U-shaped boom through an oil slick, gathering up about 75,000 gallons of oil at a time. That oil is dragged away from the larger spill, ignited and burns within an hour, he said.

The boom can be used as long as waves are below 3 feet, Bohleber said.

"Because of the complexity of the system and the obvious longer production time to build them, the emphasis is on obtaining and gathering the systems," he said.

Bohleber said his company has conducted numerous tests with the Coast Guard since 1993, and it is now training crews on the use of the boom so workers will be ready when they arrive.

"We're arranging for six to be shipped in. We keep running into delays. Hopefully, they will be here by Wednesday to be available for use on Thursday. Bear in mind, two days ago, we thought they would be here today."
5798  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re. Healthcare Recision on: May 03, 2010, 11:33:26 PM
The good parts of healthcare could have been done with bipartisanmaybe unanimous majority. It makes a lie (IMO)of the promise to unite, not divide.  I can't imagine a Republican opposing this.  I can't imagine an informed consumer paying for a policy while healthy that does not continue to cover you later when you are not.

The leftists in charge would not give us basic, obvious protections that people wanted without mixing them with the unpopular provisions of socialism, mandates, and new taxes in order to get the end result that they wanted.
5799  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government Programs on: May 03, 2010, 02:41:20 PM
Could put this under Energy or What the ..., but this story is about a federal program to award private companies.  Scratch my back and I'll scratch yours...

Source: CNN

In ironic twist, BP finalist for pollution prevention award

BP, now under federal scrutiny because of its role in the deadly Gulf of Mexico explosion and oil spill, is one of three finalists for a federal award honoring offshore oil companies for "outstanding safety and pollution prevention."
By the way the story reads, I suspect BP was in fact the winner to be announced.
5800  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Energy Politics & Science on: May 03, 2010, 02:19:40 PM
"Most of us here are of the "Drill, baby, drill!" school of thought.  What do we have to say about events in the Gulf of Mexico?"

Random thoughts:

When Obama falsely stated he wanted to expand off-shore drilling, everything to do with preventing, curing and containing spills should have been put on fast forward if we are serious about drilling offshore.  We are paying for an 'Environmental Protection Agency' already.  Instead they are working on exhale restriction justifications.

Obama's reaction was to send a team of lawyers to the gulf.  I think he underestimated the seriousness and will regret not making a larger emergency response.  They seem more interested in pinning blame than stopping further damage.

We all drive, Obama flies large jets.  Obama and Biden fly separate jets.  I think Pelosi has a formation of passenger jets with liquor supply jets for commuting.  Everything has costs and risks.  We need to contain those risks and costs, but we can't end supply without ending usage and we aren't ending usage.

ANWAR is not off-shore. Has less risk or different risks but yet we passed on it based on phony wildlife risks.  Middle East involves tanker ships with risk and much of the money goes toward harming our interests.  All sources have their own risk.

As others mentioned, hard to know what to learn from this before we know the cause or the cure.  Looks like the fix will be to drill a new well.  Maybe we should have been geared up to do that in days instead of months.  Why aren't we 12 days into that project right now and near completion (if this is a crisis)?

Nature has oil spills.  A decade for nature to cleanse itself may be an eternity to us, to those who enjoy the beaches etc. but a blip in time for the planet.

We don't stop flying after a plane crash.  We don't stop driving for each fatal crash.  We kill 37,000 per year and keep right on driving.  This catastrophe will need to be repaired and studied.  Presumably oil rigs will be even safer and repairs swifter in the future because of this.

Nuclear has the cleanest, safest track record for energy production yet we can't agree on it here whether to move forward with more.  If commuting energy can move someday to plug in vehicles, we will need more energy on the grid to replace the amount of oil we quit using.
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