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5751  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Environmental issues on: January 07, 2012, 12:28:34 PM
JDN,  Thank you.  Your link confirms much of Hayward's point, 5 cities in Calif and 6 in the southwest came in worse than Pittsburgh yet that piece was all about slamming one city.  Also confirmed is the amazing improvements not mentioned in the original piece.  Particulate is one measurement and the standards give a good benchmark, but are arbitrarily set IMO. 

The same political movements decrying dirty air the loudest as I see it also want people to live more in centrally planned density.  But the air we breathe tends to be cleaner further away from the central cities, out in those xurban sprawl communities the planners so despise. 

The air quality monitors are mostly measured at the most dangerous intersections as I understand it but for scare purposes they count the number of people in danger for living anywhere in that county no matter the proximity.  That doesn't seem right.

The current political argument over emissions is almost 100% over CO2, not the filth that everyone opposes.  No one is proposing to build 1950s era autos, buses or coal plants today.

I wonder what the soot level would be if domestically produced clean natural gas was readily available as a transportation fuel? Ironically it is the same environmental groups working to block that production as well.
5752  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Environmental issues - Missing in the WSJ Pittsburgh story... on: January 07, 2012, 09:43:02 AM
Steven Hayward, author of 'Air Quality in America' reminds us on Powerline yesterday that the WSJ is home of famous editorial page but the rest of the reporting is often right out of MSM script.  You will need to read at the link to catch the graphs:

The Journal Blows a Story

The editorial page is the glory of the Wall Street Journal, which often reports the facts better than its news pages.  Today the Journal’s news pages feature a truly pathetic example of conventional, follow-the-crowd journalism with a story entitled “Pittsburgh Tries to Clear the Air on Pollution.”  It has every trope of superficial environmental news reporting and is simply a lazy and tarted-up version of an activist group’s press release—in this case, a local enviro group called the “Breathe Project,” which upon reading between the lines of the story is simply a cat’s paw for the usual suspects such as the Sierra Club.  It is another vindication of an observation the Washington Post’s longtime media critic Howard Kurtz once acknowledged: “Some reporters say privately that it is difficult to write stories that debunk the conventional wisdom of environmental activists, whom the press treats more deferentially than industry spokesmen and other lobbyists.”

The piece is almost comical in the lengths it goes to try to persuade people that air pollution in Pittsburgh is a serious problem, which may require “more regulation,” naturally.  As the story reports,

    More than half of the residents here aren’t aware that Pittsburgh’s air ranks among the worst in the nation, according to a survey commissioned by the Heinz Endowments. Only 15% of residents feel that a “lot of work” needs to be done on it.

    “When you look back, we had problems when we had the mills,” said Richard Wilson, who said he does tai chi outside without worrying about the air. “The air in Pittsburgh is pretty good.”

    Sentiments like that prompted Breathe to launch a $500,000 media campaign that includes ads on TV, in newspapers, on billboards, on the sides of buses and at the homes of the Steelers and Penguins.

One of the real howlers in this excerpt is what I call the “reverse Lake Woebegone Effect,” namely, that Pittsburgh’s air is among “the worst in the nation.”  Turns out the American Lung Association’s annual report on air pollution—a shoddy report I’ve repeatedly called “a smoldering stogie of misinformation”—always has local versions of a press release that say each metropolitan area suffers from “some of the worst air pollution” in the nation.  I did a Nexis search for the phrase “smog” and “some of the worst” a few years ago, and discovered the phrase in press coverage in dozens of American cities.  Of course, if everyone has about the same level (which is true for just about every place except the region that actually does have the highest air pollution levels—California), then no one has air that is notably “worse” than everybody else.  But it’s always good for the harum-scarum narrative that environmentalists and regulators can’t do without.

The Journal story is entirely typical of media malpractice for its complete absence of data.  Reporters ought to ask—but never do—what the underlying trend is, and how ambient conditions measure up against Clean Air Act standards.  Air pollution in Pittsburgh, like everywhere else in America, is declining, as a check of the EPA’s data would show.  Apparently this was too much trouble for the Journal reporter, Kris Maher, to do, even though the EPA now has a very user-friendly site where you can check both ozone levels and particle pollution levels on a monitor-by-monitor basis.  Pittsburgh currently meets the Clean Air Act standard for particulates (fine particulate pollution levels have declined 22 percent over the last decade), and is only slightly above the current very tight ozone standard.

This makes all the more comical this paragraph:

    One example of Pittsburgh’s new focus as a tech hub is Google Inc.’s 200-worker office here. The employees work on online commerce and data storage, among other things, a company spokesman said. The office added 50 people in 2011, but the city’s air quality is a “big problem” when it comes to recruiting employees to work here, said Andrew Moore, a Google vice president and head of the operation.

    “If we can’t offer [clean air and clean water] to employees we need to recruit to fill the jobs of the future, then we will lose them to those cities that do,” said Mr. Moore, who backs the Breathe Project.

Hmm.  How do ozone and particulate pollution levels compare between Pittsburgh and Google’s home office in Silicon Valley?  Google also has a large office in Atlanta—are air pollution levels in Atlanta also an impediment to recruiting workers?  Let’s look first at the data for fine particles (known as “PM2.5” in the trade).

Figure 1: Fine Particulate Levels in Pittsburgh and Atlanta

The story for ozone is a little more complicated, because there isn’t complete data for Sunnyvale (the closest EPA monitor to Google’s headquarters in Mountain View), but the figure below shows that Pittsburgh not only has a lower ozone level than Atlanta, but has been flirting with attainment of the 0.75 8-hour ozone standard for the last few years.  Sunnyvale has been in attainment of the ozone standard, but as you can see from the figure Pittsburgh is not notably worse than Sunnyvale on ozone either.

Figure 2: Ozone Levels in Pittsburgh, Atlanta, and Sunnyvale

Conclusion: the Journal reporter is a dupe.  The Google manager is a fool.

P.S. As my last witness, I offer Seymour Garte, professor of public health at the University of Pittsburgh (someone the Journal ought to have called as an expert source on this story) who wrote a terrific book entitled Where We Stand: A Surprising Look at the Real State of Our Planet.  Prof. Garte relates the story of attending a professional conference in Europe, where he was struck by the data from a speaker showing steadily declining air pollution trends, being surprised by the data, and being even more surprised to hear the speaker say, “Everyone knows that air pollution levels are constantly decreasing everywhere.”  “I looked around the room,” Prof. Garte writes:

    I was not the only nonexpert there.  Most of my other colleagues were also not atmospheric or air pollution specialists.  Later I asked one of them, a close friend, if he had known that air pollution levels were constantly decreasing throughout Europe and the United States on a yearly basis.  “I had no idea,” he said.  It certainly was news to me.  Even though I was a professor of environmental health and had been actively involved in many aspects of air pollution research for many years, that simple fact had somehow escaped me. . .  I had certainly never seen it published in the media.

Well, if you’re reading the Wall Street Journal in Pittsburgh today, you still aren’t getting an accurate account of the story.

Lastly, if you want to know more about all of this generally, see my Almanac of Environmental Trends website, or track down the book I wrote on this with Joel Schwartz, Air Quality in America: A Dose of Reality on Air Pollution Levels, Trends, and Health Risks.  - Steven Hayward at Powerline
5753  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Our Troops in Action on: January 05, 2012, 02:53:07 PM
Good story. "We deserved to lose a few guys"?  What a jerk.  Ventura was part of UDT (underwater demolition team) 8 years before they merged with Seals.
He is also the most prominent of 9/11 truthers.  sad  Don't get him started on the JFK assassination.
5754  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Housing/Mortgage - Fed says expand Fannie, Freddie role to aid housing on: January 05, 2012, 12:07:03 AM
I'll try to be calm with my comment but I am thinking that after a fair trial I would hang these people for treason.

(Reuters) - The U.S. government-run mortgage finance firms Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac could play a bigger role in turning around the battered U.S. housing market, the Federal Reserve told Congress, a call that looks set to run into stiff political opposition.

The Fed, in a paper sent to lawmakers on Wednesday, outlined an array of steps that could be taken to help the housing sector, including allowing Fannie and Freddie to provide cheaper mortgages to a broader pool of homeowners.
5755  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government programs for the top 0.0005% on: January 05, 2012, 12:01:59 AM
In a country of 307,000,000, roughly 1500 people bought the US taxpayer subsidized Chevy Volt flammable electric golf cart.  You do the math.  A good number of those subsidized rich people already own at least one subsidized Prius.

The average Volt buyer makes $170,000 per year, roughly the same as a US Senator or a judge on the US Court of Appeals.

So much for the war on poverty.
5756  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential - Iowa stereotypes on: January 04, 2012, 12:50:00 PM
Great video.  Around here they say the best thing to come out of Iowa is Interstate 35.

The unemployment rate in Iowa is 5.7%, not exactly typical of the national economic problems.

US News says Des Moines is the richest metro, adjusted for a low cost of living:

On Iowans minds this morning isn't the caucus result, but the basketball team visiting MN with a chance for back to back road wins after beating no.11 Wisc. over the weekend.
5757  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: January 04, 2012, 12:18:18 PM
"Iowa is not a GOP kingmaker "

Very true.  For one thing it is a smaller, skewed sample of mostly activists attending a caucus, not simply voting.  It tells us more about who did not resonate.  A better question would be: who won the nomination after winning both Iowa and New Hampshire?

Bachmann is out.  Perry wants a try at South Carolina and Huntsman wants to try New Hampshire.  Iowa is a big loss for Newt.  It was all his to lose, so to speak, a very short time ago.  Even if Santorum had won, he is irrelevant going forward unless he can convert it into momentum elsewhere. Unlikely IMO. The more they stay in and split votes, the more states Romney that will win.

The Republican party and Ron Paul and his supporters will have to figure out to do with that love-hate relationship (mostly hate), but he is the one not likely to ever drop out.
5758  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cognitive dissonance of the left: DNC Wasserman Schultz on: January 04, 2012, 11:34:42 AM
Is she stupid (no) or does she just think we are? (maybe)  Perfect Soviet-Orwellian talking.  Romney won a close Iowa caucus that he almost didn't enter and trailed badly 10 days ago, but she says a win is a loss.  Reasoning: because of money.

The point she is trying to make is that the money and establishment advantage didn't buy that many votes.  Meanwhile her guy is the establishment with the big money advantage.

2 million jobs lost, I wouldn't want her job spinning these facts.
5759  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Newt Gingrich on: January 04, 2012, 11:16:29 AM
"Newt had a great concession speech last night.  URL anyone?"

Here he is suggesting interest in an anti-Romney alliance with Santorum, whatever on earth that means:

The only way that would work now IMO would be for Newt to put ego aside and run now on a Santorum-Gingrich ticket.  That won't happen and wouldn't win.

How about an anti-Obama, anti-left wing alliance.  Once again they are losing the focus of the mission.  Seven people think this is about them.  Wrong.  It is about us. 
5760  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Pathological Science - climate refugees on: January 04, 2012, 10:42:16 AM
BBG,  In the US, the climate refugee status is that people are still fleeing cold weather and choosing to live where it is warmer.

If warming continues at this rate, Duluth harbor of Lake Superior will soon (50,000 years?) be the new San Diego and they will all come back, but for now they are still ice fishing on the world's largest freshwater lake:
5761  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: January 03, 2012, 05:00:46 PM
People say the negative ads on Gingrich in Iowa brought him down but the collapse happened in national polls at the same. 

There is talk of Dems voting Ron Paul in Iowa to screw things up.  Going to a caucus is time consuming and public.  Most precincts in Iowa are not very anonymous; people know their neighbors and discuss issues and candidates.  Going to support someone you don't really support doesn't sound plausible in large numbers.

Dropping out was Pawlenty's second biggest mistake.  The strategies he took in the campaign were the biggest.

Romney wrapping this up early is fine with me.  I have said I think he has a 50% chance of being a great President.  He is smart enough, competent enough and conservative enough to draw a stark contrast in terms of policies, philosophy and direction with the incumbent.  The details of fixing this mess will be partly written in congress anyway.  Amazing skills of persuasion and a mandate will be needed to ever get the 60 votes in the Senate needed to do anything.  Electing a polarizing President would only make that harder.

I would still like to see Rick Perry redeem himself as the most serious alternative, if not Newt.  If both finish behind Santorum and Paul, that leaves a very muddled second string.
5762  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Economics: (going on) six years since Nov 2006 on: January 03, 2012, 04:28:40 PM
"Real GDP grew just 1.2% annualized during the first three quarters of 2011. This will climb to about 1.75% if the consensus forecast is right about Q4."

I did not realize the actual numbers were this bad. 

Forecast of 3% by BW means more of the same, as he sees it.  This is under break-even growth. Why would it turn around now?

Growth under pro-growth policies coming out of depths this deep should be at least 6-8%.  We have done nothing in terms of addressing underlying problems in the economy.  We went from moving like freight train in the wrong direction with new programs, new spending, new taxes and new regulations to gridlock.  I guess that means the problem is about half solved.

The only good news in the numbers is that in 2011 we got one wasted year closer to the possibility of ending the economic policies of decline that we have chosen since Nov. 2006.
5763  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Pathological Science on: January 03, 2012, 09:46:22 AM
Just as clear as the theory of warming tied to CO2 increases is the evidence that earth in its history of cycles has temperature correction mechanisms.  When we simplify down to warming theory without taking account of the opposing forces, we have over-simplified.

Your point about uneven warming is good.  I still live in the north country, 10 degrees F. this morning, would have been 9.5? ) and I don't believe anyone's anecdotal story here that they notice a one degree difference from their childhood.  We make a 120 degree adjustment every year with little problem.  I saw as many kids out playing on the rinks during Christmas vacation as I would normally see on the ball fields on a summer day.

I saw Copper Mountain Colo ski resort warning their customers that global warming could end mountain skiing so they were buy wind credits to offset their lift energy use a few years back and then I saw Snowbird Utah open until 4th of July last summer.  It is hard to get information that is global.  The B.E.S.T study covered only land surface temps, still only a portion of the planet.

Offered in good humor, but I will be happy to make the adjustment from Pinot to Cabernet while we sort this out.  
5764  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Pathological Science on: January 02, 2012, 08:59:00 PM
Chuck and others, I appreciate the thoughtful posts.

I understand the theory of CO2 and warming.  Also true is that warmer air holds more CO2 than cooler air.  Correct?  You swerve into the answer as to why there is not a straight line warming trend, what some call negative feedback factors, along with many other poorly understood variables at work.  The main negative feedback may be through waster vapor and clouds, but another is that plants accelerate growth with elevated CO2 levels and convert the CO2 back to O2.  True?

"I'm perfectly comfortable saying that I don't have the answer to this question." [What is the current rate of warming and what percentage of that is directly attributable to man's use of fossil fuels?]

That is the right answer IMO.  Unfortunately it doesn't get us anywhere.  I believe you started with: "I fail to see any real talk about the underlying science".  The theories and models all fail to include all aspects of all variables.  What we are left with is measurements which seem so difficult to get right.

My next question would have been: what amount of warming should we have had over the last say 50 years at this point coming out of the little ice age or wherever we happen to be in earth's cycles - as compared with actual warming. (also unanswerable?)

True skeptics I think believe in warming as a very small amount, and believe in the human contribution to that but in even much smaller amounts.  Add to that, the timeframe that humans will be heavily dependent on decayed plants as the primary energy source is likely to be only for a very small blip in earth's history, and the planet is far more resilient (IMO) than some are saying.

"If these scientists were convinced they were correct but couldn't convince other people, then to them this is no longer a science issue but rather an issue of messaging and marketing."

As GM pointed out, at that point in their career they became messagers and marketers, no longer scientists.  I believe the answer to why that happened is agenda, pressure and dollars.  There is agenda based thinking IMO that found its way into how some scientists see, choose or adjust data.  There is peer pressure that rises above or through peer review,  and there is the fact that some level of alarmism is necessary to maintain high  levels of funding, the lifeblood of the profession.  There is nothing exciting or newsworthy about running a multimillion dollar study and concluding the earth is doing just fine.  In my observation, the earth is doing just fine.

My introduction to skepticism goes back nearly 20 years IIRC to a press release of a study that came out of NCAR in Boulder where I had a personal connection.  The statement reported by the press was quite bold so I took the time to dig read through the summary and conclusions in the study and found that the press version was a very bad exaggeration that was not actually stated in the summary or conclusions of the study.  Then I dug in further to the fine print and found that the data and analysis in the study did not even support the lesser claims made in the conclusions of the various sections in the study.  The conclusion was very obviously written by different people than those who conducted the study and analyzed the data and the press release was certainly not written by scientists at all.  What the public was told was 2 levels removed from the truth, the actual data and analysis of the data by the scientists.  

Whoever wrote those press releases seems to have won the argument in the 'science' industry and now we see from emails that the 'scientists' were scrambling to find data to fit their theory.  That is not science.

There is no theory or model today that correctly predicts the past, much less the future.
5765  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Housing/Mortgage/Real Estate - home mortgage deduction continued on: January 02, 2012, 07:49:32 PM
JDN, no problem.  Just to clarify, my opinion would be different if we were designing a tax system from scratch instead of discussing what changes we can make immediately to a deduction perhaps a hundred million people count on if you include the dependents in the home. 

Crafty posted a story a short while back about high tax rates and everything people did to not pay them.  Home mortgage interest is probably first on that list.  If you are higher income and in a higher tax bracket, you can't afford to not be all consumed in home debt or you will killed with an income tax bill.  That is an upside down incentive.  What brings more financial security than the day you pay off your mortgage, instead we punish you.  People would not have supported 70% or 90% tax rates back then if people really had to pay them.  Today they wouldn't support 39.6% federal and a roughly 50% combined rate in states like yours or mine if they really had to pay all that.  Cut spending first and then cut tax rates dramatically and maybe then people will accept and survive losing their favorite loophole.

Your first quote in the 2nd paragraph is Crafty's, not mine. I also found it very well put and agree  wholeheartedly.

I did post the original piece on Canada; I like looking across the world and back through history for economic lessons.  That doesn't mean I wish to emulate them, just learn all that we can.
5766  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Anti-semitism & Jews - John Maynard Keynes on: January 02, 2012, 12:41:36 PM
"[Jews] have in them deep-rooted instincts that are antagonistic and therefore repulsive to the European, and their presence among us is a living example of the insurmountable difficulties that exist in merging race characteristics, in making cats love dogs …"

"It is not agreeable to see civilization so under the ugly thumbs of its impure Jews who have all the money and the power and brains."
5767  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Housing - Should a mortgage be deductible? on: January 02, 2012, 12:01:41 PM
(From Canada-US thread)  JDN writes: "I agree, the government has no business being in the business of encouraging home ownership.  Doug, are you therefore saying that the mortgage deduction (government intervention) should be immediately repealed?"

You don't have to guess my view (or put words in my mouth).  I have a long record here and will be happy to post again.

The point over there was that banking regulators have no business being in the business of promoting larger home ownership borrowing at the expense of creditworthiness, regardless of anyone's view on home interest deductions.  If we want a home ownership preference, it should done in plain sight - with spending or by continuing the existing deduction.  That system has worked pretty well so it isn't one of the first thousand things I would change if suddenly my view mattered.

I don't like any deductions other than those that help calculate income accurately.  The rest is social engineering.  That said, home ownership is our best social engineering project.  I would eliminate that only after eliminating every other wasted deduction and wasted spending program, when we are down to a small constitutional federal government with a low single digit tax rate - which means closer to never than immediate.

I supported the Perry plan as the closest serious political proposal to taxing all income the same no matter who earns it or how.  He lowers the rate to 20% (instead of the then more popular 9% proposal) but keeps a personal deduction until you are above poverty level and keeps the mortgage and charitable deductions.

When I buy property, I require of myself that all purchases would have to make sense even if there was no tax deduction and no appreciation - or don't buy.  I will not rely on a break from the government or an uncertain future value for a major investment to make sense.  Not true for others.  In the housing thread, Pat P. made clear that housing would go from crisis to collapse if we eliminate that deduction now.  That would not solve any current problem.  In housing people make long term decisions while government can change the rules on a whim.  That is why proposals like Gingrich and Perry's maintain the taxpayers choice of using the old system.

What we call 'encouraging home ownership' really should be called encouraging home 'borrowing'.  I have no idea what a zero equity "purchase" lent at a variable rate to people ready to walk at the first sign of trouble has to do with owning a home or bringing stability to a neighborhood.  
5768  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cognitive dissonance of the left: Krugman - We need more deficit spending! on: January 02, 2012, 10:43:17 AM
You can't make this stuff up.  I have used some of the same logic to explain how we could have survived our massive debt if we had gotten our act together a couple of years ago, grown the economy and stopped adding to the debt.  But Krugman still wants more.  At 15 trillion with deficits still over a trillion a year in 2012, he still wants more:

"We need more, not less, government spending to get us out of our unemployment trap. And the wrongheaded, ill-informed obsession with debt is standing in the way. "

Hard to point out he is wrong when he does that for you:

"Taxes must be levied to pay the interest, and you don’t have to be a right-wing ideologue to concede that taxes impose some cost on the economy, if nothing else by causing a diversion of resources away from productive activities into tax avoidance and evasion."
5769  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Canada-US on: January 02, 2012, 09:31:38 AM
"the issue is the concept by which the regulation is justified.  If the regulation is to enforce transparency in mortgage language, that is in support of free market principles and as such is fine.  If the regulation is to “encourage home ownership”, that is government intervention in the market and, as we see from the economic chaos that has ensued from such policies it is NOT fine."

Yes. The justification for bank regulation was -  don't take bad risks because we insure your deposits.  From there we jumped to encouraging home ownership above requiring creditworthiness based on a different justification for government action: 'Hey, we amassed all this power, let's do some good with it!'

"whether you blame the government or the corporations ... is there a free-market  (i.e. unregulated) solution to keep banks from doing this again?"

Looking at it the other way, 'what can the people can do to keep their government regulators from doing this again'?  

"As mentioned in the previous thread (Political Economics), the Harper government in Canada just dropped corporate taxes by 1.5% to 15%.  That will equate roughly to 33 billion annually given back to Canadian corporations."

TD, do you intend to say there will be no recovery of the lost revenues from new revenues generated?  Corporate income is a fixed number?  I disagree.  Let's see in a year.

"33 billion annually given back to Canadian corporations"

A funny way of looking at it.  Even at a lower rate, the who is giving to whom seems backwards.  Not that corporations give freely, but govt is now taking at a slightly lower rate.  When a retailers lowers their price do they assume the same amount of transactions?  If so why do they do it?  Assuming corporations are in the business of making money, why would they not use that 'gift' to make more money, build, buy, hire, expand which all lead to a host of other taxes to be paid including more corporate income tax.  If they will not use the money for those purposes, why not?

5770  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Pathological Science - The Earth has a Fever on: January 01, 2012, 11:03:37 PM
"I fail to see any real talk about the underlying science which is where I think that people should concentrate and not on a lot of extraneous noise.  The bottom line is that the law of conservation of energy hasn't changed so IN - OUT still equals ACCUMULATION.  Accordingly if you change the rate at which energy leaves the planet, then you accumulate heat which we see as a temperature rise.  Greenhouse gases do exist of which carbon dioxide is one.  The infrared absorption spectra of water vapor and carbon dioxide, while similar, do not completely overlap which means that increases in the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will lead to increased absorption of infrared light."

I'm all ears.  What is the current rate of warming and what percentage of that is directly attributable to man's use of fossil fuels?  Do you prefer nuclear?
5771  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics - Canada on: December 30, 2011, 10:46:10 PM
Thank you Crafty for getting the feedback from over the border.  To be clear, I did not assume all is good or solved in Canada. They just seem to be performing better than most places right now. The info I looked up was that individual rates were dropping to 29%.  I didn't post that because I didn't know rest of the details like what Tricky Dog comments - if deductions changed or offsetting tax increases.

The general point is that incentives are a little better overall I think, though not as good as claimed, and the economy is relatively strong.  

Certainly the energy policies improve personal income, corporate income and government revenues.
This discussion brings out an important point, there are two very different effects that come out of the tax policies:

1) The marginal rate, especially the top marginal rate, is the key indicator for incentive vs. disincentive to make an additional investment, to build, to grow, to hire, and

2) the total tax tells you how much money you transferred out of people's pockets over to the public treasury.

If you leave the tax rates the same but eliminate deductions, people lose more money to the government, all other things were held equal.  In that situation, a person might actually try to work more to replace income lost (or go broke).  Overall, the private economy is worse because people have less to spend and cut back their buying, without offsetting pro-growth policies.

In supply side policies, you typically lower the marginal tax rate for the next dollar earned.  If you end up collecting more in total it is because of the business that unleashes, not leaving people with less.  

Sounds like the Canadian plan and most proposals like that here have both of those qualities: lower the marginal rate but with other offsets like closing so-called loopholes that were yesterday's great idea to stimulate something.  On balance, it is probably a good thing anytime the marginal rate is cut significantly, but it depends on the rest of the details!
Last point: "...debt - which the corporate break will exacerbate significantly. "

If I read it correctly, the top federal corp tax rate in Canada was 19.5% 2008, 19% 2009, 18% 2010, 16.5% 2011 and 15% effective January 1, 2012. (Plus substantial provincial rates)  For one thing, that is an incentive to defer income into the out-years.

It will be interesting to see if revenues collected at the lower rates actually go down.  I predict revenues instead will grow but that debt will go up anyway, if it is like here (and like GM points out), because of spending.
5772  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Education on: December 30, 2011, 08:41:44 PM
"Let us know what you/she decide."

That's really nice.  It's certainly her decision and I will keep you posted.  She rules out engineering and most sciences for a major even though she would be good at it and her Grandma broke that ground over 60 years ago and would love to get her the institute of technology tours and introductions.  I have suggested the opportunities for high end math in business applications.  We will see.

Further complicating the decision is the negative effect that federal Title IX has on limiting her opportunities to play college varsity sports.
5773  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Education on: December 30, 2011, 04:09:53 PM
"Hey, buy a house, it's a great long term investment....... "

At about 15 cents on the dollar, I am still bullish on home purchasing.  Just worn out.  Pretty good analogy though, because if people actually did buy instead of borrow for the education or the house, they would in general be better off for owning it. 

If you can afford to not work the first 4 years of adulthood and pay the costs, a 4 year degree in personal growth and human knowledge is a wonderful foundation before learning a marketable skill like running a business, designing a bridge or diagnosing a patient.  Same degree with a quarter million in debt and no marketable skill and now you need to go work, maybe not.

I have not found an explanation on or off the board as to why it is okay that the rate charged is different for everyone.  Try pricing rent or food differently to different people.  Some colleges have so much as told us the price is negotiable.  For a kid with a great application, it looks like play money.  She got a 16k award in the mail the other day and she just laughed, knowing that was a drop in the bucket, still far from affordable.  We still don't have a financial plan.
The other theme GM had was STEM.  For others that means Science, technology, engineering, math.  Thinking of two successful relatives in business, different sides of the family, one got the PhD in Math and the other in Physics, neither doing what you would think of as directly working in that field, but the credentials proved the foundation to move forward.  My advice to my daughter is along those lines, do something that you are good at, that sounds really hard, that is relevant and needed and in scarce supply, and do it at a place that is widely respected.  Not just put in 4 years.
5774  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: December 30, 2011, 02:14:44 PM
"Each has pros AND cons."

The energy use today is a fact, not an issue.  The choice of sending the dollars and jobs out instead of producing here is a part of a larger policy of choosing economic decline, and it didn't make the planet any cleaner.
5775  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: December 30, 2011, 01:20:57 PM
Working properly, a pipeline transports the oil inside the pipe.  smiley   The issue at hand is constuent group politics versus jobs and earned dollars in the economy - an easy choice for the President.  Freighters and vessels and trucks burn oil and pollute and crash more often than a pipeline.  We already have pipelines from Canada and pipelines inside the US.  How do people think natural gas gets around?

"I don't follow the drilling arguments closely."  - Other than mistakes and catastrophes, it is a very clean process.  The caribou were all for it.  The Alaskans are for it.  The North Dakotans are for it.  The Texans are for it.  But the Feds don't want you to do it.  In some areas, they own all the land.

We drove past the largest refinery in the region recently from an 8 hour round trip drive to a college visit.  My daughter commented on the plume of steam going into the air (extremely clean steam compared to how they used to be).  I don't know if she recognized the irony even with my pointing it out, that not wanting energy produced isn't compatible with all these non-essential drives that make up her life; there are perhaps a hundred colleges closer.  Much worse for business travel.  We could let the Chinese do that.  sad

If you want homes heated now, natural gas is the best answer.  If you want mobility, oil.  If you want alternating current at the outlet, then you will need coal and nuclear at the power plants.  For hobbies, I like wind and solar.  Our economy has energy requirements.  Earning income, enjoying freedom and building prosperity all involve energy consumption.  Consumption requires production somewhere.  If you don't produce it here, you will pipe dollars and jobs out in amounts that make the cost of two wars look like childs' play, and we are. Regulation to make production as clean and safe as currently and reasonably possible are great.  Policies that stop energy production in its tracks just punishes ourselves and is one of the ways we are screwing ourselves over for decades if not generations. 

One big argument against drilling in ANWR is that it would take 10 years to get up and running!  What do we care about oil 10 years from now?  That was more than 20 years ago.  Now we fund 'ugo to buy bad things from Mahkmoud with the same money.  And then deploy forces to stop them?  Who knew?

Look back ten years.  All that bickering about who got invited to Dick Cheney's energy commission.  No plan was ever implemented.  Just worse and worse public policies.  We have far more control over how safe and how clean our energy is produced and same for the other products manufactured if we do it here.
5776  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: December 30, 2011, 12:08:13 PM
You have points of agreement in there but I must say that if you would rather the U.S. buy our needed energy from Venezuela than from America, which causes our costs go up, our dollars to leave, our jobs lost, supports the wrong causes around the world, leaves us vulnerability to supply disruptions, we lose government revenues off the lost production, deficits, debt and interest payments forever on those losses, then I would rather defeat you than persuade you to think otherwise.

Is drilling "pollution" in Alberta really further from home than drilling "pollution" in ANWR.  Besides the straw argument of drilling pollution, I would check your map on that one.

The current issue is over a pipeline.  Is transport from Venezuela cleaner? (No!)
5777  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics, Canada continued on: December 30, 2011, 11:36:59 AM
The Canadian economy is closely tied to its largest trading partner, but avoided the housing crash for one thing because the CRAp (Community Reivestment Act program) did not apply to Canadian banks or houses.  Common sense regulations are as important as minimizing tax disincentives.

The Economist magazine stated that Canada had come out the recession stronger than any other rich country in the G7.

All is not perfect in Canada either, just noting current growth there that is very easy to do here.

'The Economist' notes the looming problems there, the national healthcare system in particular.  Once in place, those monstrosities are hard if not impossible to remove:

"But there is also a large dollop of good fortune behind Canada’s resilience. If parts of eastern Canada resemble Europe in economic terms, the west looks more like Brazil. Its mines, oil and gas producers and farmers have benefited from the commodity boom brought about by China’s appetite for raw materials. This boom brings a problem: it is helping to drive up the Canadian dollar, which risks making life more difficult for manufacturers back east. And Canada’s fiscal health will soon come under strain from the treasured but expensive public health-care system and an ageing population. There is little sign that the country’s politicians are ready to deal with either."
5778  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: December 30, 2011, 11:04:01 AM
"How about Canada?"

I have always like Canada; beautiful country and nice people.  They have an excellent National Health Care plan for example.   smiley   Canada's tax rate is approximately 10% higher than ours.   smiley   Further, Canada's income tax system is more heavily biased against the highest income earners versus the U.S.  smiley    Makes sense to me...     grin
The policy arrow in Canada shifted the opposite of ours.  Investors know it is becoming a better and better place to do business.  Investors here keep getting the wait and see message out of Washington so the 'smart money' sits on the sidelines or goes elsewhere. 

For all your Calif. expertise you probably shouldn't tell someone here about Canadian heathcare.  Whether you look at Duluth, MSP or Rochester, MN, not only the medical clinics but the restaurants and hotels here benefit greatly from Canadian healthcare.  Let's leave that to the healthcare threads.

The point of economic growth in Canada is that we used to outperform them.

The top federal income tax rate in Canada (29%) is not higher than in the US (39.6% after the Bush Obama 'temporary cut' expiration) and not counting the Harry Reid surcharge:

The top corporate rate in Canada is 15% effective Jan 1 2012: 

The top federal rate in the U.S is 35%.  Besides cuts in Canada, China cut its corp rate (Jan 2008) right while the US economy began tanking and Japan tried to, delayed by an earthquake.

Canada values energy production as a booming industry.  We prefer to pay Venezuela, subsidize Brazil and block pipelines out of Canada.

Government revenues come from private sector vigor.  The question is not what kind of political economic system did Canada use to be.  The question is: What changed?
5779  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 2012 Presidential - VEEPs? and Ron Paul 3rd party? on: December 30, 2011, 10:24:03 AM
First one comment that came out of Rove's predictions I think.  Ron Paul will not run as third party spoiler because his son Rand Paul, perhaps an up and coming star in the party, will be screwed in the party for life.

Too early for VP speculation but they do run as a ticket.  One story today notices that Michele Bachmann has ripped every anti-Romney candidate ruthlessly, but not Romney, fishing for VP consideration.  She won't be the pick.  Marco Rubio said he won't.  They all say that but I believe him.

Where better to go for inside GOP scoop than MSNBC interviewing a Politico writer?
Sen. Rob Portman (Ohio) Predicted As Romney VP Pick

By Mark Finkelstein | December 30, 2011 | 07:57

With not one Republican primary vote cast yet, we're getting way ahead of ourselves by speculating about whom Mitt Romney might pick as his vice-presidential running mate.  But Willie Geist did invite Politico's Mike Allen to make his "bold predictions" for 2012.  And Allen delivered, prognosticating that Romney would pick Ohio Republican Senator Rob Portman as his ticket-mate.

Mark Halperin strongly seconded Allen's assertion.  View the video after the jump.

Watch Allen make the case that the Romney campaign figures it should carry Florida without Marco Rubio on the ticket, whereas Portman could be more of the key to victory by helping to carry his home state of Ohio.

MIKE ALLEN: One of the first big stories in 2012, assuming Mitt Romney becomes the Republican nominee, however long it takes, who will be his vice-presidential pick?  A lot of people are looking at Marco Rubio in Florida; he's definitely on the list. But I think the most likely to be chosen, at the top of Mitt Romney's list, is Senator Rob Portman, Republican of Ohio.  Brings that important state, put it with Michigan, where Mitt Romney could be strong, and you would really have President Obama sweating, there in the industrial Midwest.

WILLIE GEIST: Now, what does Portman give him, Mitt Romney, if it is Mitt Romney, what does he give him over Marco Rubio?

ALLEN: It's a two-fer.  In addition to Ohio, and if Mitt Romney doesn't already have Florida he's already in trouble, so the Romney folks are hoping they're going to have Florida  without Marco Rubio.  Ohio would be a bit tougher call. So Rob Portman would be more helpful there.  Also, it's a governing pick.  He has experience on the Hill, both in the House and the Senate, in the White House as the Budget Director, and so he would bring a lot of gravitas, experience to this administration.   

MARK HALPERIN: I think this is an easy one.  First off, Mitt Romney is going to make a governing pick. He knows from history, the first, second and third obligation, both politically and substantively, is to pick someone ready to be president.  I think Rob Portman is head and shoulders above most of the other people who Mike mentioned on that score. Both the press and the public would look at him and say, yeah, that's responsible, that's somebody who's ready to president.  I think Chris Christie will also be considered. But I think on this one, somebody's going to  have to make a compelling case for me, for someone besides Portman, for me to think it's not headed in that direction, or should be, assuming Romney's the nominee.
5780  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Political Economics: Why the boom in Canada? on: December 30, 2011, 09:57:53 AM
Escaping mention in Krugman's drivel on Ireland is a better example much closer to home.  Besides the opportunity to reign in government, cut tax rates while increasing revenues, who else is sitting on a treasure trove of energy?

IBD Editorials
Tax Cuts, Less-Intrusive Gov't Help Canada Soar

 Posted 12/29/2011

Success: Away from the low growth and high regulation of an America under Washington's thumb, our northern neighbor is economically strong. As 2011 ends, Canada has announced yet another tax cut — and will soar even more.

The Obama administration and its economic czars have flailed about for years, baffled about how to get the U.S. economy growing.

In reality, the president need look no further than our neighbor, Canada, whose solid growth is the product of tax cuts, fiscal discipline, free trade, and energy development. That's made Canada a roaring puma nation, while its supposedly more powerful southern neighbor stands on the outside looking in.

On Thursday, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced that he will slash corporate taxes again on Jan. 1 in the final stage of his Economic Action Plan, dropping the federal business tax burden to just 15%.

Along with fresh tax cuts in provinces such as Alberta, total taxes for businesses in Canada will drop to 25%, one of the lowest in the G7, and below the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development average.

"Creating jobs and growth is our top priority," said Minister Jim Flaherty. "Through our government low-tax plan ... we are continuing to send the message that Canada is open for business and the best place to invest."

It's not just that Canada's conservative government favors makers over takers. Harper's also wildly popular for shrinking government. "The Harper government has pursued a strategic objective to disembed the federal state from the lives of citizens," wrote University of Calgary Professor Barry Cooper, in the Calgary Herald.

Harper also has made signing free trade treaties his priority. Canada now has 11 free trade pacts in force, and 14 under active negotiation — including pacts with the European Union and India, among others.

"We believe in free trade in Canada, we're a free-trading nation. That's the source of our strength, our quality of life, our economic strength," Flaherty said last month.

Lastly, Canada has pursued its competitive advantage — oil. And it did so not through top-down "industrial policy," but by getting government out of the way.

Harper has enacted market-friendly regulations to accomplish big things like the Keystone Pipeline — and urged President Obama to move forward on it or else Canada would sell its oil to China.

These policies have been well-known since the Reagan era. But in a country that's been institutionally socialist since the 1950s, Harper's moves represent a dramatic affirmation for free market economics.

For Canada, they've had big benefits.

Canada's incomes are rising, its unemployment is two percentage points below the U.S. rate, its currency is strengthening and it boasts Triple-A or equivalent sovereign ratings across the board from the five top international ratings agencies, lowering its cost of credit.

Is it too much to ask Washington to start paying attention to the Canadian success story?

These sound principles work every time they are tried, and they have led to a transformation in Canada.

Imagine what they could do in the U.S.
5781  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cognitive dissonance of the left: Krugman says govt spending is too low on: December 30, 2011, 09:46:17 AM
Keynes Was Right
Published: December 29, 2011

“The boom, not the slump, is the right time for austerity at the Treasury.” So declared John Maynard Keynes in 1937, even as F.D.R. was about to prove him right by trying to balance the budget too soon, sending the United States economy — which had been steadily recovering up to that point — into a severe recession. Slashing government spending in a depressed economy depresses the economy further; austerity should wait until a strong recovery is well under way.

Someone please show where this award winning economist / far left pundit called for spending austerity during the last boom.  I missed that column.  Which programs did he want cut and by how much?  Krugman swerves into the truth.  One reason for failure of all stimulus programs today is that we already swimming in government stimuli and simply can't feel any effect anymore from another tril or two.  Krugman points to Ireland.  How about Canada?
5782  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Politics: Karl Rove - Political Predictions for 2012 on: December 29, 2011, 10:57:58 AM
It makes sense to me. 
Political Predictions for 2012

By KARL ROVE     DECEMBER 29, 2011

As New Year's approaches, here are a baker's dozen predictions for 2012.

• Republicans will keep the U.S. House, albeit with their 25-seat majority slightly reduced. In the 10 presidential re-elections since 1936, the party in control of the White House has added House seats in seven contests and lost them in three. The average gain has been 12 seats. The largest pickup was 24 seats in 1944—but President Barack Obama is no FDR, despite what he said in his recent "60 Minutes" interview.

• Republicans will take the U.S. Senate. Of the 23 Democratic seats up in 2012, there are at least five vulnerable incumbents (Florida, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Pennsylvania): The GOP takes two or three of these. With the announcement on Tuesday that Nebraska's Ben Nelson will retire, there are now seven open Democratic seats (Connecticut, Hawaii, North Dakota, New Mexico, Virginia, Wisconsin): The GOP takes three or four. Even if Republicans lose one of the 10 seats they have up, they will have a net pickup of four to six seats, for a majority of 51 to 53.

• Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Sen. Harry Reid or both will leave the Democratic leadership by the end of 2012. Speaker John Boehner and Senator Mitch McConnell will continue directing the GOP in their respective chambers.

• This will be the fourth presidential election in a row in which turnout increases. This has happened just once since 1828, from 1928 through 1940.

• In 2008, voters told the Pew Poll that they got more election information from the Internet than from daily newspapers. Next year, that advantage will grow as the Internet closes in on television as America's principal source of campaign news.

• After failing to win the GOP presidential nomination, Ron Paul will not run as a third-party candidate because that would put his son, Rand Paul, in an untenable position: Does the Republican senator from Kentucky support his father and effectively re-elect Mr. Obama, or back his party and defeat him?
More: Election 2012

• Mr. Obama's signature health-care overhaul, already deeply unpopular, will become even more so by Election Day. Women voters are particularly opposed to ObamaCare, feeling it threatens their family's health.

• Mr. Obama may propose tax reform, attempting to use it to appeal both to his liberal base (a question of fairness) and independents (a reform to spur economic growth). This will fail, but not before boosting Mr. Obama's poll numbers.

• The Obama campaign won't corral high-profile Republican endorsements—as it did in 2008 with former Secretary of State Colin Powell—with the unimportant possible exception of former Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel. It will also make a special effort to diminish the GOP's advantage among military families, veterans and evangelicals, with the last a special target if Republicans nominate Mitt Romney.

• Despite an extraordinary amount of presidential time and involvement, Team Obama will fall as much as $200 million short of its $1 billion combined fund-raising target for the campaign and Democratic National Committee. Even so, Mr. Obama and Democrats will outspend the GOP nominee and Republicans. This won't necessarily translate into victory: John Kerry and Democrats outspent President George W. Bush and Republicans in 2004 by $124 million. Groups like American Crossroads (which I helped found) will narrow the Democratic money advantage.

• Scandals surrounding the now-bankrupt Solyndra, Fannie and Freddie, MF Global and administration insider deals still to emerge will metastasize, demolishing the president's image as a political outsider. By the election, the impression will harden that Mr. Obama is a modern Chicago-style patronage politician, using taxpayer dollars to reward political allies (like unions) and contributors (like Obama fund-raiser and Solyndra investor George Kaiser).

• To intimidate critics and provoke higher black turnout, Democrats will play the race card more than in any election since 1948. Witness Attorney General Eric Holder's recent charge that criticism of him and the president was "both due to the nature of our relationship and . . . the fact that we're both African-Americans."

• The economic recovery will continue to be anemic, leaving both unemployment and concerns about whether the president is up to the job high on Election Day. Because of this, Mr. Obama will lose as his margins drop among five groups essential to his 2008 victory—independents, women, Latinos, young people and Jews. While he will win a majority from at least three of these groups, he won't win them by as much as he did last time.

Predicting the future is always dangerous but conservatives believe in accountability, so let's see how well I do a year from now.
5783  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Political Economics: Michael Barone -The people want growth, not redistribuition on: December 29, 2011, 10:49:04 AM
"They miss growth when it is absent. They don't appreciate it so much when it is happening."

Voters want growth, not income redistribution
by Michael Barone

"A 2008 election widely regarded as heralding a shift toward the more government-friendly public sentiment of the New Deal and Great Society eras seems to have yielded just the reverse."

So writes William Galston, Brookings Institution scholar and deputy domestic adviser in the Clinton White House, in the New Republic. Galston, one of the smartest political and policy analysts around, has strong evidence for this conclusion.

He cites a recent Gallup poll showing that while 82 percent of Americans think it's extremely or very important to "grow and expand the economy" and 70 percent say it's similarly important to "increase equality of opportunity for people to get ahead," only 46 percent say it's important to "reduce the income and wealth gap between the rich and the poor" and 54 percent say this is only somewhat or not important.

In addition, by a 52 to 45 percent margin, Americans see the gap between the rich and the poor as an acceptable part of the economic system rather than a problem that needs to be fixed. In 1998, during the high-tech economic boom, Americans took the opposite view by the same margin.

As Galston notes, these findings suggest that Obama's much praised speech at Osawatomie, Kansas, decrying inequality, "may well reduce his chances of prevailing in a close race." Class warfare politics, as I have noted, hasn't produced a Democratic presidential victory in a long, long time.

Where Galston misses a step, I think, is that he seems to regard the move away from redistributionist politics in this time of economic stagnation as an anomaly in need of explanation. He seems to share the Obama Democrats' assumption that economic distress would make Americans more supportive of, or amenable to, big government policies.

That, after all, is what we have all been taught by the great and widely read New Deal historians, and that lesson has been absorbed by generations of politicians and political pundits.

I believe that historians have taught the wrong lessons about the 1930s. And I believe there is a plausible and probably correct reason why economic distress has apparently moved Americans to be less rather than more supportive of big government.

To understand the lessons of the 1930s, you need to read the election returns. Franklin Roosevelt's big victory in 1932 was a massive rejection of Republicans across the board. Republicans lost huge ground in urban and rural areas, in the West and Midwest and most of the East, even in their few redoubts in the South.

In 1936 FDR won re-election by a slightly larger margin, but with a different coalition. The rural and small town North returned to its long Republican allegiance, while Democrats made further big gains among immigrants and blue collar workers in big cities and factory towns.

The New Deal historians attributed these gains to Roosevelt's economic redistribution measures -- high tax rates on high earners, the pro-union Wagner Act, Social Security. These laws, the so-called Second New Deal, were passed in 1935. They replaced the different, non-redistributionist policies of the First New Deal that stopped the deflationary downward spiral underway when Roosevelt took office.

The problem with the historians' claims is that the shifts in the electorate apparent in 1936 also are apparent in the 1934 off-year elections. Democrats won big that year, but compared to 1932 they lost ground in rural areas and small towns and gained much ground in big cities and factory towns.

The 1936 realignment happened in 1934. It could not have been caused by redistributionist Second New Deal legislation, because it hadn't been passed before November 1934.

So why should voters be leery of economic redistribution in times of economic distress?

Perhaps because they realize that they stand to gain much more from a vibrantly growing economy than from redistribution of a stagnant economic pie. A growing economy produces many unanticipated opportunities. Redistribution edges toward a zero-sum game.

They miss growth when it is absent. They don't appreciate it so much when it is happening.

Roosevelt's 1934 and 1936 victories were won in periods of growth. After the economy shifted into recession in 1937, New Deal Democrats fared much worse, and Roosevelt won his third and fourth terms as a seasoned wartime leader, not an economic redistributor.

Lesson: If you want redistribution, you better first produce growth. Which the Obama Democrats' policies have failed to do.
5784  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Economics, the stock market , and other investment/savings strategies on: December 28, 2011, 10:49:12 AM
"some good things on the horizon (e.g. the US becoming the Saudi Arabia of natural gas) seems sound"

All are opposed by the current administration.  Wesbury is arguing about what economic growth will be coming into the election, warning Republicans not to count on bad economic news at election time.  Real recovery however hinges on a change in the policy arrow coming out of the election.

We are arguing essentially about how many tenths of a percent, within the margin of measurement error, we will be above or below 'breakeven growth' this year.  Economic growth coming out of a hole this deep should be twice that, more like 6-8% of sustained growth.

Wesbury is prognosticating what to do in this environment instead of what to do about this environment, which is fine - if you are in charge of deck chairs on the Titanic.

GM's examples of what could go wrong are in addition to the general measurements posted of global stagnation.  What is the US doing or proposing to do to lead the world out of this?  Federalizing police and fire, defunding social security, queuing health care and further debasement of our currency?  That oughtta do it.
5785  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq Democracy on: December 28, 2011, 10:25:25 AM
What do they call it, 2 wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner? Or is it one wolf and 2 sheep with the wolf counting the votes - same outcome.

"if Bremer did not make the foolish decision to disband the Iraqi Army, we wouldn't be needed in Iraq to maintain the peace."

There never was some easy answer for all of this.

"I'm not against 20,000 troops remaining."

Yes, that is the concept. Pull back, but maintain some presence and some readiness.  Dems used to argue for pulling our troops to the 'horizon', not complete abandonment.

"If Iraq falls apart now - screw em."

Iraq is globally strategic.  If Iraq falls apart, we are all screwed. What we fear from Iran is twice as large and more than twice as dangerous when Iran dominates Iraq.

"I never heard a plea for us to stay"

See Crafty's Allawi post!  

"For years, we have sought a strategic partnership with America to help us build the Iraq of our dreams: a nationalist, liberal, secular country, with democratic institutions and a democratic culture. But the American withdrawal may leave us with the Iraq of our nightmares: a country in which a partisan military protects a sectarian, self-serving regime rather than the people or the Constitution; the judiciary kowtows to those in power; and the nation’s wealth is captured by a corrupt elite rather than invested in the development of the nation...Unless America acts rapidly to help create a successful unity government, Iraq is doomed."

We didn't hear?  Or we didn't listen?
5786  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Politics: Sen. Ben Nelson D-NE is out! on: December 28, 2011, 09:58:03 AM
The Cornhusker kickback has kicked back.

Pres. Obama lost Nebraska by 15 points in 2008 and isn't nearly as popular now.  Every prominent Republican in NE is vying for the Senate seat or considering the opportunity.  Against these headwinds, Ben Nelson age 70, perhaps the most moderate of the remaining Dem Senators has decided that more time with family sounds better than defending his votes in Washington for Obamacare and the rest of the agenda back in the heartland.

Wash Post says Dems are left scrambling.  The Dem reaction in Nebraska to this is irrelevant; they have lost this seat.  The party in Washington would need to change if they wanted to be competitive in states like this.  I wonder how often Reid and Schumer ask each other, how will their government-centric agenda play in Nebraska?

This was considered one of the 6 tossups that will determine the majority in the Senate.
Payoffs for states get Harry Reid to 60 votes
top prosecutors in a half-dozen other states plan to challenge the constitutionality of a health care compromise that exempts Nebraska from paying billions in Medicaid expansion costs, forcing other states to shoulder a bigger burden for the low-income insurance program.

5787  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 2012 Presidential: Hinderacker at Powerline endorses Romney on: December 28, 2011, 09:17:41 AM
For President in 2012, Mitt Romney

December 27, 2011 by John Hinderaker -

It is time for Republicans to get serious. After flirting with just about every candidate in a large presidential field, is is time to come home to the one candidate who has the demonstrated ability to run the largest organization in the United States, the Executive Branch of the federal government; who has never been touched by the slightest taint of scandal; whose success in the private sector makes him the outsider that Republicans say they are looking for; and who has by far the best chance of beating President Obama: Mitt Romney.

The “anybody but Romney” mentality that grips many Republicans is, in my view, illogical. It led them to embrace Rick Perry, who turned out to be unable to articulate a conservative thought; Newt Gingrich, whose record is far more checkered than Romney’s; Ron Paul, whose foreign policy views–indistinguishable from those of the far left–and forays into racial intolerance make him unfit to be president; and Michele Bachmann, whom I like very much, but who is more qualified to be a rabble-rouser than a chief executive.

The knock on Romney is that he is “not a real conservative.” Well, I am sure he is not as conservative as I am. But he has a solid record of conservative accomplishment as governor of Massachusetts, and if you check out his economic plan, you will find it to be entirely Reaganite, updated for the crisis we face today. The “Romney isn’t conservative” meme is, frankly, a little weird: in December 2007, National Review endorsed him for president. Has he somehow gotten more liberal since then?

In electing a president, we are choosing someone to run the Executive Branch. A leader, to be sure, but not a speechmaker, a bomb-thrower, a quipster, a television personality or an exemplar of ideological purity. At this point in our history, the United States desperately needs a leader who understands the economy, the world of business, and, more generally, how the world works. We have had more than enough of a leader who was good at giving speeches and was ideologically pure, but who had no clue how the economy works or how the federal government can be administered without resort to graft and corruption. It is time for a president who knows what he is doing.

Romney was not my first choice in this election cycle–Tim Pawlenty was. But Pawlenty’s campaign failed to catch fire, mostly because GOP voters saw him as an “establishment” candidate; that is, perhaps, someone who won tough elections and governed successfully. Around the time Pawlenty’s campaign ended, John Thune gave serious consideration to jumping into the race. If he had done so, I would have supported him, but he didn’t. [UPDATE: I perhaps should add that I know both Pawlenty and Thune personally, consider them friends and have enormous regard for them. I have met Romney and have spent a little time with him, but not much. My preference for Pawlenty and Thune was largely driven by personal acquaintance; I feel that I know them well enough to have confidence in where they would take the country, as president.] There was no real reason to think that other Republicans like Paul Ryan, Chris Christie and Marco Rubio would get into the race, and they didn’t. You can’t get elected president if you don’t run for the office, and of those who are running, Mitt Romney is the best, by a very wide margin.

If this sounds lukewarm, it isn’t meant to. Let’s itemize Romney’s virtues.

First, he is a tremendously smart, competent and hard-working person. Many people do not realize what it takes to achieve the extraordinary business success to which Romney devoted most of his adult life. We have, currently, a president who is not particularly bright, knows little of business, has no idea how to run an organization–never having done so before 2009–and would rather golf than work. Replacing this cipher with Mitt Romney, one of the most capable men of his generation, would be an almost unimaginable improvement.

Second, Romney has led an exemplary life. He is, by any ordinary measure, an exceptionally good man. Maybe you care about this, maybe you don’t. My own view is that character counts, usually in ways you can’t foresee. Moreover, to put a purely pragmatic spin on it, the Democrats have nothing on him. Sure, they can mount an anti-Mormon whispering campaign, and they will. But it is highly unlikely that bigotry alone can derail a presidential candidate, especially one as upright as Romney.

Third, Romney has exactly the expertise we need for the next four years. Our country faces an enormous economic and fiscal crisis, brought on by years of politically-motivated fecklessness. We desperately need a president who understands why economic growth occurs and how jobs are created. The Democrats know nothing but payoffs and cronyism; who gets to stay the longest aboard a sinking ship. If ever we needed a president with Mitt Romney’s skills and expertise, that time is now.

Fourth, Romney can and will, I think, beat Barack Obama. The purpose of a political party is to win elections. It would be terminally stupid for the Republican Party to nominate a candidate whose weaknesses more or less guarantee defeat when it has, readily at hand, a candidate who can win. Ideological movements are another animal entirely. The purpose of the conservative movement is to advance conservative ideals, not necessarily to win elections for a particular party. Some conservative ideologues may choose to argue for a purer candidate (although I am not sure who that would be) in service of the long-run interests of the movement. But that is not the role of the Republican Party. The goal of the Republican Party is to win in 2012.

So: I endorse Mitt Romney as the Republican nominee for president in 2012. I think he can win, and I think there is a real chance that he could be a great president. Perhaps the man and the hour will meet, as with Churchill in 1940 and Reagan in 1980. But at a bare minimum, Romney can beat Barack Obama, and will be an infinitely better president. The time has come for Republicans to coalesce behind their best candidate.
5788  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 2012 Presidential: Newt lands Arthur Laffer endorsement on: December 27, 2011, 11:26:27 PM
Newt needed some good news.  Romney IMO penalized for not putting specifics into his plan.

Newt Gingrich Endorsed by  Economist Arthur Laffer

by Joy Lin | December 27, 2011

Dyersville, IA - Renowned economist, father of The Laffer Curve and supply-side economics, and architect of the Ronald Reagan economic plan, Arthur Laffer, announced his endorsement Tuesday of Newt Gingrich for President of the United States.

"Newt has the best plan for jobs and economic growth of any candidate in the field," said Laffer.

"Like Ronald Reagan's tax cuts and pro-growth policies, Newt's low individual and corporate tax rates, deregulation and strong dollar monetary policies will create a boom of new investment and economic growth leading to the creation of tens of millions of new jobs over the next decade. Plus, Newt's record of helping Ronald Reagan pass the Kemp Roth tax cuts and enacting the largest capital gains tax cut in history as Speaker of the House shows he can get this plan passed and put it into action."Mr. Laffer will join Newt Gingrich in Storm Lake, IA Thursday for a formal press conference announcing the endorsement.

"Rebuilding the America we love requires returning to job creation and economic growth. We need big changes to fix the economy, and I am ready to stand up to Barack Obama's class warfare rhetoric to make the case that letting the American people keep more of what they earn is the best way to create jobs."
5789  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The electoral process: Newt first hurt in Va. by new voter registration rules on: December 27, 2011, 11:05:04 PM
Listening to opposition radio today I learned that Newt (allegedly) did not make the ballot in Virginia because of the new, tighter rules on voter registration.  He submitted 12,500 signatures they said but 10,000 signatures of registered voters is required to make the ballot and he came up short.  Same list 4 years ago would have been fine, but the rules changed.  They were finding the irony quite enjoyable.  (Unverified, I am unable to find a link.)
5790  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: December 27, 2011, 09:46:44 PM
Thanks bigdog for the followup.  I have mixed feelings about the franking privilege.  Some communication makes sense.  It should not look like a campaign brochure.

I don't oppose the President for traveling on our dime; It's a perk of the job he won in the election.  I criticized him for lying on our dime. 

They are supposed to separate out campaign stops from work.  He denies any of it is campaign because he is unopposed in the primaries.

This speech is partly doing his job, selling his proposal, then it crosses the line.  If he wants to tell his side of the story, that is fine.  When he stops acting Presidential, he can expect a little criticism.  We have a thread for that.  grin   Here he says of Republicans:

"And you got their plan: Let's have dirtier air, dirtier water..."  And the partisan crowd boos.

I can't think of anything equally mean and false that elected Republicans would say about their opponents.  What would you find to be similar?  Thinking of the last 3 Republican Presidents, Reagan took little jabs at his opponents but always acknowledged their good intentions.  Rush Limbaugh has said the economic destruction is intentional, but that is to compare a radio show host with the President of the United States. 

"How do you feel about ... (until recently) common use among presidential candidates to accept public funding? "

I don't like publicly funding campaigns.  I like full disclosure.

"Do you take the same offense when GOP candidates use taxpayer funds to get (re)elected?"

I am even more offended when my own side is guilty of being jackasses in their rhetoric and violate their own principles in their actions.  Earmark scandals come to mind.  I can't understand why Republicans won't try to draw a perfect distinction against their opponents on many points.  (A concept we call RINOs, aka 'elected Republicans'.)

In the speech, where does the President explain the underlying economic principle that is supposed to make his plan work?  Federalizing police and fire?  Without attacking, he has no story, no speech.  What are the odds (1/50?) that he is standing in perhaps the purplest swing state while he makes his attack / hate speech.

What he calls 'dirtier air' is what God put in your exhale. What a deceitful jerk.  The only dispute on water that I know of (besides the Corps of Engineers flooding the heartland) is the recent opposition to fracking, a process that has not contaminated any water supply according to all state regulatory agencies involved.  Is there a point he makes about his own plan or his opponents' plan that is true?
5791  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: December 27, 2011, 12:09:24 PM
I admit to enjoying a cheap shot here - deservedly - at someone who travels at taxpayer expense to tell the nation that anyone who opposes him wants dirtier air, dirtier water, rewards only to the rich, etc.  Of course she was just using proper respect to call him Mr. President and he was perhaps correct to take it as a personal question.  He was smart enough to recognize the flippancy and narcissism in his first answer as he told it and quickly added that he wished he learned to speak fluent Spanish, which besides political advantage would give him better ability to communicate with the American people.

Although he is vacationing with family in paradise, flying on separate schedules without financial consequence, this is a time distinctly marked with an under-performing economy and immense danger in the world.   His first thought he says is that it would be nice to be able to play an instrument.  I don't believe him.  I think he would kill for a decent golf game, but that isn't something he is willing to discuss.

Not likely to be asked by Barbara Walters about his shortcomings, but had she asked me I would maybe have gone the route of wishing he had read at least one book on economics that did not oppose our economic system, wishing he had ANY executive experience at all other than running his campaigns or that he had any foreign policy experience or expertise coming into this most difficult job, none of which are regrets of his. 

He was not about to give up any material to opponents on real shortcomings, and as CCP has mentioned in personality disorder observations, he may not know of any.

"Harry, I have a gift..."
5792  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The cognitive dissonance of the left - social justice on: December 27, 2011, 11:08:11 AM
What do you call it when someone steals someone else's money secretly? Theft. What do you call it when someone takes someone else's money openly by force? Robbery. What do you call it when a politician takes someone else's money in taxes and gives it to someone who is more likely to vote for him? Social Justice.  - Thomas sowell
5793  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors: Syria - Assad's Regime Hunting its People on: December 27, 2011, 10:54:16 AM,1518,805519,00.html

Inside Syria's Death Zone
Assad's Regime Hunts People in Homs

The regime in Damascus is using snipers to hunt down its own people. Rebels on the ground in besieged Homs, the site of some of the most extreme brutality, say the international community is hesitating to help Syrians out of fear that it will trigger a civil war. But the threat is merely propaganda from ruler Bashar Assad, they claim.

When the haze dissipates in the late afternoon light, and when the last unfortunate souls hurry across the open space, running in a zigzag pattern, hunting season begins on Cairo Street. There is random shooting all day long at this spot, but from this moment on the shooting becomes targeted. A few people make it to the other side on this day, but one does not. He screams and falls to the ground as he is hit. He was carrying a loaf of bread, something that was no longer available on his side of Cairo Street.

Pedestrians are rarely targeted in the morning. But beginning in the afternoon and continuing throughout the night, the wide, straight street that separates the Khalidiya and Bayada neighborhoods becomes a death zone. That's when they -- the snipers working for Syrian intelligence, who are nothing more than death squads, and the Shabiha killers, known as "the ghosts," mercenaries who are paid daily wages and often earn a little extra income by robbing their victims -- shoot at anything that moves.

The map of Homs is a topography of terror these days. Entire sections of Syria's third-largest city are besieged. Hundreds of thousands have become the hostages of a regime whose president, Bashar Assad, insisted with a chuckle in an interview with America's ABC News, that only a madman would order his forces to shoot at his own people.

What began nine months ago as a peaceful protest against the dictatorship of the Assad dynasty has since become a campaign against the people by the regime -- a regime that, for 41 years, was accustomed to using brutality to enforce submission. Since it realized that this brutality was no longer sufficient, it decided to use even more -- and then even more when the resistance continued to grow. There are no negotiations. In the heavily guarded downtown section of Homs, where the regime feigns an eerie mood of normality for foreign visitors, it has put up signs that read: "The continuation of dialogue guarantees stability."
5794  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness: Kwanzaa vacation in Hawaii on: December 27, 2011, 10:46:22 AM
One of the Republicans landed a punch recently in the campaign about the attack on Christmas, and like clockwork the Obama family was off to church, first time in a long time, on what is typically a golf day.

In support of African American heritage, the Obamas are now honoring Kwanzaa this holiday season. Good grief.  My experience in the black inner city and with successful African Americans I know through sports, friendships and business is that the holiday most are celebrating this season is ... Christmas.  African Americans as a group are more religious and more likely Christian than the population as a whole.  (

The Obamas mark Kwanzaa in the spirit of umoja

"Michelle and I send our warmest wishes to all those celebrating Kwanzaa this holiday season.

Today marks the beginning of the week-long celebration honoring African American heritage and culture through the seven principles of Kwanzaa -- unity, self determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith.

We celebrate Kwanzaa at a time when many African Americans and all Americans reflect on our many blessings and memories over the past year and our aspirations for the year to come.

And even as there is much to be thankful for, we know that there are still too many Americans going through enormous challenges and trying to make ends meet. But we also know that in the spirit of unity, or Umoja, we can overcome those challenges together.

As families across America and around the world light the red, black, and green candles of the Kinara this week, our family sends our well wishes and blessings for a happy and healthy new year."
5795  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 2012 Presidential: Getting to know the candidates - Barack Obama on: December 27, 2011, 09:46:08 AM
Deep Thoughts with Barbara Walters:  If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be Mr. President?

"I deeply regret not having learned a musical instrument."

Perhaps he didn't hear the last part of the question: "...Mr. President"!

Something we agree on.  I wish his career had taken a different turn as well.
5796  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: NYT it's so hard to vote on: December 27, 2011, 09:37:14 AM
"Next fall, thousands of students on college campuses will attempt to register to vote and be turned away. Sorry, they will hear, you have an out-of-state driver’s license. Sorry, your college ID is not valid here. Sorry, we found out that you paid out-of-state tuition, so even though you do have a state driver’s license, you still can’t vote."

a) If they are away from home on election day, they can vote absentee back home - like adults do. 

b) If they like where they live and are all grown up ready to vote and this is home now, not their parents' house, they can change their driver's license to their new address within 30 days of moving as would be otherwise required by law.  School starts by Sept 1.  Election day is in Nov.  That ought to do it.

c) They could take notice that the campaign was in full swing 1.5 YEARS before election day and make a decision to vote, where to vote and how to comply with identification rules before the last day. 

Many of these kids have a year of AP-US History, AP Physics and 2 years of AP Calculus before they turn 18 or enter college.  How about we make rules for everyone that protects the integrity of the process and let them comply.   Perhaps they are too busy to deal with real world realities; that may explain why they come in and vote like their professors until they find the world is different than they were taught.  Somewhere in their studies perhaps they came across places on earth throughout history where it really was hard to vote.
5797  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Education, College Bubble on: December 26, 2011, 01:26:30 PM
How come student loans aren't dischargeable in bankruptcy?  That sounds like a racket.  They overspent like a credit card, more than they could afford.  The lender extended irresponsible amounts of lending.  I don't fully understand bankruptcy but if some debts aren't fully dischargeable, maybe none should be.

How soon until the income inequality attacks bleed over to education inequality?  Colleges and universities pay cash for ACT scores and other achievements including sports and music, which in all 3 examples spill over disproportionately to rich kids.  How is that fair?

As mentioned, I am re-learning the world of college cost as father of a H.S senior.  She doesn't like hearing it but my 4 years, done in 3 or so, cost less than her upcoming spring break orchestra trip of one week.  The rest of the learning came from the school of hard knocks.

The bubble in numbers or false expectations upon graduation isn't new.  The absurd cost structure is.  It grows like health care costs I think because of third party pay.  Maybe more like housing where the lender lends without checking or expecting to find income from the borrower.  Worse than housing, the less able your family is to handle the debt, the more they will lend.

The answer ("Cognitive Dissonance of the Left") is to move the cost even further away from the person using the service.  Let's make a 4 year degree "free"!  Tax the people who go straight to work and never get college to pay for the others to pursue pre-med, gender studies and social welfare degrees - until no one goes straight to work or pays taxes.

Nothing contains costs like tying the price charged to the affordability of the purchaser of the product in a market.  From a conservative side it would seem the answer is work and study and pay as you go with your own money, 4 years takes perhaps 8 or whatever it takes if the institutions cannot provide a first rate, full time education within the cost framework of what a middle class family can afford.  When you finish, you actually have bettered yourself, and will understand both the value of the education and the value of productive work.

With work rules as we have and those coming with Obamacare and everything else, I believe we are destined to move away from a 'job' society and back toward a more entrepreneurial economy.  If that happens, paper-based portion of the credentials will diminish in value compared to real knowledge and real ability to get real work of value done.  Just my two cents.

5798  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Iraq: Last troops home in time for Christmas, 12/26 Iran expands military ties on: December 26, 2011, 10:26:45 AM
What I don't understand about this story is the delay.  I suppose Iran didn't want it to look like the US leaving and them coming in were related events.

12/25  FORT HOOD, Texas: Last US troops out of Iraq make it home for Christmas


Iran Declares It Is Ready To Expand Military Ties With Iraq

A week after U.S. forces pulled out of Iraq, Iran has announced its willingness to expand its military and security links with Baghdad.

The AFP reports Iranian General Hassan Firouzabadi praised the "forced departure" of U.S. troops, saying it ""was due to the resistance and determination of the Iraqi people and the government."

Firouzabadi: "Iran was now ready to expand its military and security ties with Iraq."
5799  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq, America the Destroyer? Really? on: December 26, 2011, 01:14:27 AM
Already answered, but Iran "building up a defense against us" did not strike me as a serious observation either.  Poor defenseless Iran - aren't they the number one sponsor of terror in the world according to both Bush and Obama administrations (, sponsor of Hezbollah, makers of IED's aimed at Americans, jailed hikers for pawns, threaten to blow Israel off the map, stormed our embassy - what else?  I don't understand regretting the American loss of life in Iraq, a very large part of it directly attributable to actions by Iran, and then feeling ambivalent or sympathetic toward Iran.  If you are sympathetic to Iran then you should be joyous for the American loss of life.  They are.

My reaction earlier today reading: "I was for staying in Iraq just to keep the military tied up" was that my sense of humor does not come through well in the written word either.  Subsequent post said he meant every word of it, whatever that means.  It makes no sense to me but I don't see America as the destroyer.
Is there any part of JDN's post that he didn't already express.  It's enough because "enough is enough"..."Time for us move on."   - Okay, you got your say and you got it 2, 3, 4 times saying I think the same thing.  None of it IMO, even in repetition, addresses a very compelling moral point made by bigdog.  
5800  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Prayer and Daily Expression of Gratitude on: December 26, 2011, 12:25:18 AM
Merry Christmas to everyone so inclined to accept that as an offering of peace, love and friendship.  I am grateful to be alive and to have family healthy and together for this tradition and celebration.  I am grateful for the Catholic Church for welcoming me in as a non-member with their celebration of positive messages: Joy to the World, Glory to God in the Highest, peace be with you, forgive those who trespass against us, and Hark the Herald Angels sing.  The music to me brings a beauty and emotion bursting with the pride of having my daughter and other family members among the musicians contributing to this important celebration for so many people.  The lights of Christmas help to illuminate what would otherwise be the darkest days of the year.

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