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5851  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security and American Freedom on: December 01, 2011, 11:30:07 AM
Answering some ACLU arguments:

ACLU: "American citizens and people picked up on American or Canadian or British streets being sent to military prisons indefinitely without even being charged with a crime. Really? Does anyone think this is a good idea?"

Sounds like innocent people picked up randomly - no, no one thinks that is a good idea.

"The answer on why now is nothing more than election season politics."

Election season politics?  Not actionable intelligence.  What poll says people want this?  Assuming they are not in on intelligence briefing and many of the 61 Senators were, I would say they are willing to say anything.

"Hasn’t anyone told the Senate that Osama bin Laden is dead..."

Mission Accomplished, Deja Vu?

"...a worldwide military battlefield, that even extends to your hometown."

Yes, my hometown I wrote yesterday had 24 al Qaida related arrests last year and is an active recruiting point for operations at home and overseas.  We were also home to where Zacarias Moussaoui learned to land jet airliners in an equal opportunity, career advancing, training center.  And the Imams demanding buckle extensions.

Whose hometown is not affected by terrorism??

ACLU suing the Bush administration over the Patriot Act:  "The ACLU filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Michigan on behalf of six mostly Arab and Muslim-American groups."

So far, heavy hitters here are the only ones favoring the other powers but drawing a line at this one.

I don't know the right answer to this at all but current policy is that we will relentlessly chase to the furthest corners of the earth with all means possible including UAV attacks in sovereign countries killing suspected terrorists along with known innocents, but we will not stop you if you hide right here in plain sight.
5852  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security and American Freedom on: December 01, 2011, 10:29:20 AM
Yes, GM's response knocked me off my chair - a Nixon going to China moment.  Maybe we take up drug legalization during his unexplained softness.   wink

The plot thickens on the Kopel post last paragraph update.  The first story left the impression that the house and Senate were giving powers to the administration that they would veto, but their objection is allegedly not directed at that. This needs to be sorted out.

I don't like to be on the side of limiting freedom, especially arguing alone to limit freedom in America, but there is some burden on the opponents to say how you will then fight large scale terrorism.

Sending it back to committee or running a 40% deficit in terror fighting successes for a dozen years doesn't work in this case if the need is now.

Rand Paul video:
He is the lead opponent and makes great points, but the speech was already written with his opposition to the Patriot Act, to the Iraq war and to any power that goes beyond traditional law enforcement.  That does not answer the threat IMO.  If they blow up the Superdome this winter like the Oklahoma City bombing and then track back the clues for a couple of years and maybe catch and prosecute two guys.  It doesn't work that way; suicide bombers are immune to prosecution and the timeline is backwards.  We don't know about the destruction until after it happens; the 'law enforcement' operation must be conducted in advance of 'the crime' or it is of no value.

Hypothetical: It is the summer of 2001 again.  We are partly onto the hijacker plot to destroy the largest symbols of America.  We have about half the pieces of the puzzle put together and are missing the other half.  Your team is in charge of disrupting the operation.  Assume these players are American citizens this time, not Saudi nationals on expired visas that cops pulled over and let go.  But each player and each piece of the puzzle looks small when viewed alone and the larger plan looks like a fantasy when articulated to a local judge.  I want the operation disrupted.  No one wants abuse of the powers but I want emergency powers to be available.

I don't know what liberty Rand Paul refers to if we live in terror. 

Ten years since the Patriot Act (Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism), it wasn't ordinary Americans who lost liberties, it is the ones with unexplained contacts and cooperation with enemies sworn to destroy us.  When you take up the cause of the enemy at a time like this while we are actively under attack, your 'citizenship' is a bookkeeping error to me.  If you are fully innocent and uninvolved and your contact with a known terrorist was accidental, I sincerely doubt your detention will be permanent.  It is the people operating in the gray areas such as meeting regularly with (free speech?) and/or supporting in small ways the forces of our destruction that have the potential to lose rights here. 

I am grateful to be on this board where questions like this are brought forward and scrutinized.
5853  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security and American Freedom on: November 30, 2011, 11:00:32 PM
I should add that my support for any enhanced police power in the name of terrorism includes this caveat : any law enforcement officer or government official who uses this power for purposes other than what is specified and intended shall also be detained indefinitely at Guantanamo.
5854  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security and American Freedom on: November 30, 2011, 01:02:06 PM
Torn makes sense and so does distrust. The gunrunner op makes you wonder.  I hate the airport security drill and being their subject.  Still, we give them the tools.  How would you prove the Delray Beach Florida residents with expired visas in the summer of 2001 were going to blow up airplanes, catch them with a box cutter?  A meeting in Hamburg, a camp in Afghan?  I don't know but I wish we had disrupted them.  If enough pieces of the puzzle form around you, I want tools to be available for your detention.  If you are innocent but carrying too many pieces of the puzzle and too close to the people who are involved, there is no good answer to that, it may take time to sort that out.  Every drone strike and every war hits innocent people too. I really don't believe we will fill Guantanamo with peace seeking, law abiding citizens.

Indefinitely only means we hold will you until radical Islam quits its war against us.
5855  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security and American Freedom on: November 30, 2011, 12:11:40 PM
"Where do you draw the line?"

Yes.  Draw the line.  We are at war.  Traditional punishments don't apply to suicide bombing.  What is an after the fact answer for suicide bombing?  The last big one brought us two wars and 10 years in Afghanistan.

What is "terrorism"?  - Really?  Still confused after all these years, all these attacks?  9/11, WTC-I, Cole, embassies, London, Madrid, Bali.  Anyone remember Munich?

These aren't either party's political opponents we are housing at Guantanamo.

This rule doesn't say lock anyone up, it says don't tie the hands of the people we elect and choose to protect us. 

It is a harsh rule, so don't have even casual contact with known terrorists.  If you call a known terrorist by accident, hang up quickly.  If you go to their meeting by mistake, try to get out, stay off their mailing list and speed dial.  We are at war.

2 of the Dem senators leading the effort were from Michigan which was both a stronghold and a target. LAX was a target too, IIRC.  Would you like it protected, then these are the tools.  Senators on key committees see intelligence that we don't see.  You would think the heavy number of liberty seeking peace loving Democrats alone, along with those liberty hating war mongering Republicans would demonstrate that current, known threats are still quite strong.

Proof beyond all reasonable doubt doesn't apply in war and the fight against homegrown terrorism is certainly the hardest war to fight.
5856  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: November 30, 2011, 10:26:46 AM
There is an irony that if Cain drops for adultery reasons Gingrich will benefit.

More irony, it could be Romney soon challenging Gingrich to a series of two-way Lincoln Douglas style debates.
On paper Perry is still the most conservative challenger with perhaps the best resume.  On the radio yesterday he sounded sharp.  Then in person in NH he made more gaffes.  None worse than Obama, but more gaffes right when he needs to be at the top of his game.  The gaffes like Bachmann are on peripheral points.  If the Republic is near collapse, why are you BSing about anything other than your top 3 or top 5 points?

Other favorites of mine did not hold up to the bright lights of pressure.  Besides Fred Thompson, I remember watching Jack Kemp freeze up in a VP debate on questions he would normally hit out of the park.

I don't care about their ability to debate but I do care about electability and ability to govern.
5857  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security and American Freedom on: November 30, 2011, 10:07:25 AM
From the detainment piece: Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.)..."We are not a nation that locks up its citizens without charge."

With a degree in history, I am surprised she isn't aware of WWII.  This would be for cause where FDR's Executive Order 9066 was for ethnicity.

No one IMO likes waiving fair trial rights, but terrorism and war is different than crime.  It is good news that both support and opposition to this not partisan.  16 Democrats voted for the "harsh detainee rules": Sens. Bob Casey (Pa.), Kent Conrad (N.D.), Kay Hagan (N.C.), Daniel Inouye (Hawaii), Herb Kohl (Wis.), Mary Landrieu (La.), Carl Levin (Mich.), Joe Manchin (W. Va.), Clair McCaskill (Mo.), Robert Menendez (N.J.), Ben Nelson (Neb.), Mark Pryor (Ark.), Jack Reed (R.I.), Jeanne Shaheen (N.H.), Debbie Stabenow (Mich.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.). plus Sen. Joe Lieberman (Conn.).

Minneapolis' Somali population had 24 al Qaida related arrests last year.  Carl Levin's Michigan is home to Detroit suburb Dearborn, MI which has the highest concentration of Arab and Islam of any American city (about 1/3 of 100,000) and some radical Islam problems.  Both Michigan Dems voted for it; neither of the MN Dems did.
5858  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: November 30, 2011, 09:22:53 AM
Paraphrasing good humor from James Tarranto WSJ 'Obama's path to 270', keep in mind Obama is trying to get to 270 starting with 2008 count of 365.  I hope he makes it to 270 and further, at least to 268!
I agree with Crafty on Romney and China.  I'm not fully on board with the exchange rate argument but intellectual property theft isn't funny anymore and there are other areas of contention.  We can voice and push our concerns and win some ground without starting a trade war by doing that, not by only buddying up and accepting the status quo.
Regarding Huntsman, being a fiscal conservative with the Utah budget is different than being a fiscal conservative in Washington today.  We are 40% out of balance!  None of them, not even Bachmann, will cut spending now by 40% or anything close to that, so they are all pragmatists and none of them conservative.  Oops did I forget about Ron Paul...

But my question to JDN was really about Huntsman's economic plan versus Obama's, not Huntsman compared to other Republicans. Huntsman is to the right of me in his economic plan, he would ELIMINATE the federal tax on capital gains, and I would not.  His top marginal tax rate cut makes the 1980 candidate Reagan look timid.  Reagan proposed to cut all rates across the board by 30%.  Huntsman's top rate cut on the wealthy is 42% from where the are scheduled to go right now in current law. 

I understand that you like and trust Huntsman for these other areas, that he is sounding centrist themes, and that none of us get all we want in a candidate, but my question is narrower.  With Huntsman coming in to the right of me, isn't the Obama's economic plan closer to the economic views you have argued for on the board than Huntsman's?
5859  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The cognitive dissonance of the left: Barney Frank on: November 29, 2011, 09:58:14 PM
Continuing from media issues, Crafty wrote: "It goes far deeper and far worser than missing the call.  He [Rep. Barney Frank] actively drove the disaster [Housing Freddie Fannie crisis]."


CRA and everything about affordable housing means making decisions on criteria other than creditworthiness and likelihood of paying the loan back.

"Beginning in 1992 and continuing through 2007, Fannie and Freddie were required to meet affordable housing goals established by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. For most of these years, Frank was the staunchest defender of this policy."

That is what is was and he is who was driving it.

But Frank blames Republicans who controlled the house from 1995 through 2006.  Also true.  That is what we call RINOs, the go-along crowd.  These are liberal policies, but a coalition of Dems and RINOs is a governing majority even when Republicans in name control the House.

Flashback, here is Barney Frank at the end, chair of the committee, hellbent on cutting off Michele Bachmann's questioning of Geithner and Bernancke March 2009 (Rep. Bachmann and the 3 stooges):
5860  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Gallup on Glibness: Lowest approval rating at this point since... ? on: November 29, 2011, 02:27:12 PM
What is sad for Obama is that this disapproval is happening while everything is going according to plan.  He got the debt limit increase he wanted, the spending, the stimuli, the QE, the economy is growing, we got bin Laden, won the war in Libya, other wars are ending, and unemployment is in line with what you expect for welfare state social democracies, actually below Greece, France and the EU overall.

Gallup didn't find any President with a lower approval at this point in the Presidency:

-- Barack Obama: 43 percent.

-- James Carter: 51 percent.

-- Harry S. Truman: 54 percent.

-- Dwight Eisenhower: 78 percent.

-- Lyndon B. Johnson: 44 percent.

-- Richard M. Nixon: 50 percent.

-- Ronald Reagan: 54 percent.

-- George H.W. Bush: 52 percent.

-- Bill Clinton: 51 percent.

-- George W. Bush: 55 percent.
5861  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Political Economics: American Airlines signs up for Obamanomics on: November 29, 2011, 01:53:15 PM
Obama administration wants high fossil fuel costs and lower consumption.  Mission accomplished.  That is the opposite of prosperity and it isn't a failure of capitalism.

American Airlines files for Ch. 11 protection

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — American Airlines' parent company is seeking Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection as it seeks to unload massive debt built up by years of accelerating jet fuel prices and labor struggles.
5862  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Economics: Thatcher - Create a society of Haves, not a class of them on: November 29, 2011, 01:27:39 PM
In 1987, Mrs Thatcher flew to Moscow to meet the Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. In their famous conversations (not shown in the film), Gorbachev rounded on her. As she recalled it, “His view was that the British Conservative Party was the party of the 'haves’ in Britain and that our system of 'bourgeois democracy’ was designed to fool people about who really controlled the levers of power.” But she hit back: “I explained that what I was trying to do was to create a society of 'haves’, not a class of them.”
5863  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Foreign Policy on: November 29, 2011, 12:45:40 PM
CCP: "Great One was going to improve our relationships abroad."

Being liked, it was thought, is to be more like them.  Unarmed, vulnerable, broke, waiting for others to solve problems, lead from behind, talk of American excesses, capitalism excesses, fossil fuel excesses, apology tour, bowing, bone-headed gifts, etc etc

As I was (twice) reading the Caroline Glick piece, 'Call it by its proper name', I was recalling how all the pundits, advisers, media, experts, opponents, foreign leaders etc. just couldn't stand it when Pres. Reagan called the Soviet Union the evil empire.  I think they had 100 million deaths on their hands - worse than Hitler, offered zero freedom, locked people in, took over nearly half the world, still expanding, constantly threatening us, how can you call that an evil empire?  A focus group pollster or friendship counselor would never have approved of that.  Our own allies were outraged.

June 12 1987 Reagan said "Tear down this wall" - against all advice.  Nov 9 1989 the wall came down.

Wanting to be liked often leads you in the wrong direction.  I would prefer to be respected.

5864  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 2012 Presidential: Best line of the campaign so far on: November 29, 2011, 12:25:09 PM
As Crafty said, Newt could shadow and taunt the President into extended debates with him.  Here is the taunt:

I will challenge him to 7 Lincoln Douglas style debates, no moderator, 2 adults, talking about the nation...

"If he wants to use a teleprompter that will be fine with us."
5865  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: November 29, 2011, 12:14:02 PM
JDN: I would have voted for him. [Huntsman]

Someday maybe you can explain your support for concepts further to the left economically with your support for Huntsman that continued after his rather bold and conservative economic plan came out.  Centrists puzzle me more than leftists. 

Regarding Huntsman, I never heard him tout what I thought was his biggest accomplishment in Utah, advancement of relatively cleaner and more locally sourced natural gas use in transportation.  Gas station sign in Utah 2008:
5866  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: November 29, 2011, 11:48:31 AM
Good memory about Gary Hart, that episode ran counter to my rule.   In his case it was current rather than dragged from the past and it may have been stupidity over infidelity. He also had a more solid and qualified competitor ready to be nominee if he showed any sign of stumble so there wasn't much question about dumping him. The Gennifer Flowers revelation might have derailed anyone but Clinton.  Maybe it would have brought him down if it came out earlier but that field at that time didn't have much else.  The real point might be deeper - powerful men (like Tiger Woods) aren't very faithful - another rule with exceptions...
Media coverage of the allegations against Cain makes sense because it is newsworthy - we are trying to vet these guys and we don't want to be blindsided later.  In the case of Politico, the obsession is bizarre  considering how little they had.  That was a business decision.  They wanted to keep their ownership of the story above any fair and balanced consideration.

GM is right IMO on John Edwards, the 'real' press wouldn't touch it until after he was out.  (already discussed while I was writing)

Ted Kennedy was a pretty serious challenger for the Presidency in 1980 even with all his baggage.  He almost upended a sitting President in his own party.  I agree with the BD assessment that Americans wouldn't let him be President for his personal past, but Democrats almost chose him.  His crime was far more serious (2 month suspended sentence embarassed).  From the left, his problem had to do with his electability with the center.  To Democrats, he was a hero. They kept him to represent their own state and they accepted him as a national figure; they just didn't trust the rest of us to vote this despicable man up or down. (As a hit and run victim, I can call him despicable, contemptible, vile.) Which Senate term was he in when the waitress sandwich allegation landed or when the drunken skirt chasing while married evening ended with his companion nephew charged with rape.  Neither of those resulted in the Mass. media or Dem electorate insisting he step down.  A sad reflection on all who admired him IMHO.

With JFK and LBJ, yes times were different in that voters didn't really know of the affairs.  My point is that knowledge later does not stain their honor with those who honor their service, but an allegation against a conservative... that is over the line!

It is the politicians who bring their pretty wives and charming children to the podiums at the rallies and into the photos in the brochures to show us what a man they are because of their dedication to marriage and family.  Certainly Bill Clinton did that, and JFK.  There was hardly a Newt sentence from the 1990s that didn't start with Marianne and I. His dedication to her is part of who he is. Or not.  Now without explanation it is Callista and I. At least Cain mostly kept his wife out of it.

Reagan was the first divorced President with 2 kids from each marriage, a potential character flaw.  One side focused on his right wing extremism and the other side liked where he was headed, so nothing came of that.

Cain is out for other reasons I think, but this seals it.  Newt is Newt - a unique case.   We will see, but I predicted Romney.  Nobody is perfect but Republicans in general don't like running against the character question.
5867  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: November 29, 2011, 12:21:02 AM
You can judge Newt.  I was writing about the voters' dilemma.  Weiner is disgusting.  In general, Republicans purge their most disgusting as they are discovered.  Democrats often don't.  Weiner almost wouldn't leave.  Marion Barry, the guy with the 100k in the freezer, Ted Kennedy, Dodd, Frank...  Just my observation. Did one of those guys really drown the girl, not call for help, then win reelection with 62% of the vote the next year and go on to serve 8 more 6-year terms and to become the 3rd longest serving senator in U.S History?

Mary Jo Kopechne, dead at 28
As for adulterers in the White House: Kennedy, Johnson, Clinton - more than half of recent Dems.  Judge whomever you want.  I already predicted Newt isn't the nominee.  Same guy on the other side - no problem.

Obama and Huntsman are one allegation away from being the subject here.
5868  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / WSJ: A funny thing happened on the way to the climate apocalypse on: November 28, 2011, 11:25:35 PM
Consider the case of global warming, another system of doomsaying prophecy and faith in things unseen.

As with religion, it is presided over by a caste of spectacularly unattractive people pretending to an obscure form of knowledge that promises to make the seas retreat and the winds abate. As with religion, it comes with an elaborate list of virtues, vices and indulgences. As with religion, its claims are often non-falsifiable, hence the convenience of the term "climate change" when thermometers don't oblige the expected trend lines. As with religion, it is harsh toward skeptics, heretics and other "deniers." And as with religion, it is susceptible to the earthly temptations of money, power, politics, arrogance and deceit.

This week, the conclave of global warming's cardinals are meeting in Durban, South Africa, for their 17th conference in as many years. The idea is to come up with a successor to the Kyoto Protocol, which is set to expire next year, and to require rich countries to pony up $100 billion a year to help poor countries cope with the alleged effects of climate change. This is said to be essential because in 2017 global warming becomes "catastrophic and irreversible," according to a recent report by the International Energy Agency.

Yet a funny thing happened on the way to the climate apocalypse. Namely, the financial apocalypse.

The U.S., Russia, Japan, Canada and the EU have all but confirmed they won't be signing on to a new Kyoto. The Chinese and Indians won't make a move unless the West does. The notion that rich (or formerly rich) countries are going to ship $100 billion every year to the Micronesias of the world is risible, especially after they've spent it all on Greece.

Cap and trade is a dead letter in the U.S. Even Europe is having second thoughts about carbon-reduction targets that are decimating the continent's heavy industries and cost an estimated $67 billion a year. "Green" technologies have all proved expensive, environmentally hazardous and wildly unpopular duds.

All this has been enough to put the Durban political agenda on hold for the time being. But religions don't die, and often thrive, when put to the political sidelines. A religion, when not physically extinguished, only dies when it loses faith in itself.

That's where the Climategate emails come in. First released on the eve of the Copenhagen climate summit two years ago and recently updated by a fresh batch, the "hide the decline" emails were an endless source of fun and lurid fascination for those of us who had never been convinced by the global-warming thesis in the first place.

But the real reason they mattered is that they introduced a note of caution into an enterprise whose motivating appeal resided in its increasingly frantic forecasts of catastrophe. Papers were withdrawn; source material re-examined. The Himalayan glaciers, it turned out, weren't going to melt in 30 years. Nobody can say for sure how high the seas are likely to rise—if much at all. Greenland isn't turning green. Florida isn't going anywhere.

The reply global warming alarmists have made to these dislosures is that they did nothing to change the underlying science, and only improved it in particulars. So what to make of the U.N.'s latest supposedly authoritative report on extreme weather events, which is tinged with admissions of doubt and uncertainty? Oddly, the report has left climate activists stuttering with rage at what they call its "watered down" predictions. If nothing else, they understand that any belief system, particularly ones as young as global warming, cannot easily survive more than a few ounces of self-doubt.

Meanwhile, the world marches on. On Sunday, 2,232 days will have elapsed since a category 3 hurricane made landfall in the U.S., the longest period in more than a century that the U.S. has been spared a devastating storm. Great religions are wise enough to avoid marking down the exact date when the world comes to an end. Not so for the foolish religions. Expect Mayan cosmology to take a hit to its reputation when the world doesn't end on Dec. 21, 2012. Expect likewise when global warming turns out to be neither catastrophic nor irreversible come 2017.

And there is this: Religions are sustained in the long run by the consolations of their teachings and the charisma of their leaders. With global warming, we have a religion whose leaders are prone to spasms of anger and whose followers are beginning to twitch with boredom. Perhaps that's another way religions die.
5869  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Economics: Equality of rights or results? Sowell, Piven, Friedman, 1980 on: November 28, 2011, 11:19:39 PM
5 minutes, vintage, very interesting, still relevant.  Bringing it here from the political side by request.

Economics: Equality of rights or results? Sowell, Piven, Friedman 1980

Discussion between Thomas Sowell and Frances Fox Piven with Milton Friedman
5870  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Pathological Science: CO2 to warming link weaker than previously thought on: November 28, 2011, 10:08:58 PM
More coverage IBD of the story CCP already posted from the Economist.
The study in the journal Science found that global temperatures appear to be far less sensitive to the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere than originally estimated...The study's findings are simple and devastating. "This implies that the effect of CO2 on climate is less than previously thought," said Oregon State University's Andreas Schmittner, the study's main author.
5871  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 2012 Presidential: Cain affair? Gennifer Flowers, double standard on: November 28, 2011, 09:59:37 PM
I don't know when these problems accumulate to the point of counting without evidence.  If true I agree with one opinion I heard expressed today.  The double standard the media applies to Republicans and especially conservative Republicans is a fact.  Rather than scream out unfair, we should embrace the higher standard as part of our brand.  We hold our candidates to a higher standard.  It is what we do, not just because they do.

Elephant in the room is that front runner Gingrich has the same problem as the new Cain accusation.

I don't like where the accuser reflexively gets examined, however if you want to get at veracity that comes next. ABC News is on it:
5872  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Economics, the stock market , and other investment/savings strategies on: November 28, 2011, 12:44:15 PM
Our market analyst CCP nails it again: Barney out - market up big! Wait till O'bamster loses in '12!   smiley

Barney leaving tells us their polling does not indicate Dems will take back the House.  He is not likely leaving a key committee chairmanship.

I can't imaging being invested in this market, no matter where it goes, and I can't imagine a real recovery of confidence and investment until leadership and policy direction shows change coming.  OTOH as CCP points out, unbelievable growth is possible when the policy mistakes across the board begin to look like they will be corrected.

'Our best days are behind us' was a policy choice.  Interest on $15 trillion won't go away, but the rest is repairable.

It wouldn't hurt Europe either if their formerly biggest export market would set an alarm, take a bath and go back to work soon.
5873  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 2012 Presidential and congressional elections: one last chance to get it right on: November 28, 2011, 12:28:36 PM
CCP, I agree. Romney is showing conservatives he can take the fight to Obama, show contrast and not buddy up like McCain did. He is saying how he will do it with substance, specificity and clarity - all in a one minute ad. The uproar to that ad from the Obama side is that the quotes were from 2008, but that was clearly identified at the start.  The point is that the things people were excited about for candidate Obama, the Greek columns / Hyde Park guy, didn't happen, at least not in a positive way.  I am skeptical anyone will make government much smaller, but perhaps the one who can reform the most is the one people find the least threatening.  One part of smarter is send state governing responsibilities back to the states.

To unite Republicans and conservatives of all the types defined by Morris (economic conservatives, establishment, evangelical/social, national security and defense, tea party - fiscal and constitutional), Romney or whoever wins will need to embrace good points that came from the candidates who will leave the race and sell these points of conservatism successfully to centrists in contrast with our current failed direction.
GM's update on the Cain story is quite interesting.  Lost in the unknown of what didn't happen behind closed doors with really only one, not very credible personal allegation is that Cain also has showed he isn't ready on a couple of other matters of importance.  Too bad, it would be great to have a real outsider with a real business and analytical approach walk in and clean house.  The 9-9-9 plan is too bold for a 270 electoral vote win and immediate implementation when no real thought was given to handling the transition.

The conservative question still remains, who is the most conservative who can win the nomination AND the general election.  Newt leads now in the last 4 polls but his surge is so recent.  I don't think he will close the deal, but we will know very soon.

Unless a person lives or has influence in one of the first 4 states, I think the best thing you can do is go influence your own candidates and races for the House and Senate on both sides of the aisle in your area with your views.  Democrats in competitive districts need to move their candidates away from the current anti-capitalism, anti economic freedom movement or they will fall.  Republicans need to advance their principles, win, and then for a change, stick with them.  If a Pres. Newt wins but jumps around too much to new ideas before the old ones are fully implemented (didn't we already end services baseline budgeting?), a strong principled congress could help keep him on track.  Same goes for a Pres. Romney.  If his economic plan and his undisclosed tax cuts are too timid, congress can pass the right plan and put it on his desk.

As GM put it about 2 years ago, this is a two election fix.  We are now there and have used up our Mulligans.
5874  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cutting government spending on: November 28, 2011, 10:05:57 AM
In the last round, were the real cuts $1 billion or $7 billion?

Mark Steyn:  "The correct answer is: Who cares? The government of the United States currently spends $188 million it doesn’t have every hour of every day. So, if it’s $1 billion in “real, enforceable cuts,” in the time it takes to roast a 20 lb. stuffed turkey for your Thanksgiving dinner, the government’s already borrowed back all those painstakingly negotiated savings. If it’s $7 billion in “real, enforceable cuts,” in the time it takes you to defrost the bird, the cuts have all been borrowed back."

By the time the relevant bill passed the Senate earlier this month, the 2012 austerity budget with its brutal, savage cuts to government services actually increased spending by $10 billion.
5875  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 2012 Presidential: Romney ad in NH on: November 28, 2011, 10:00:27 AM

One minute ad.
5876  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 2012 Presidential: Manchester NH Union Leader endorsement of Newt on: November 28, 2011, 09:53:33 AM

For President, Newt Gingrich
New Hampshire Union Leader Publisher
Published Nov 27, 2011 at 1:00 am

This newspaper endorses Newt Gingrich in the New Hampshire Presidential Primary.

America is at a crucial crossroads. It is not going to be enough to merely replace Barack Obama next year. We are in critical need of the innovative, forward-looking strategy and positive leadership that Gingrich has shown he is capable of providing.

He did so with the Contract with America. He did it in bringing in the first Republican House in 40 years and by forging balanced budgets and even a surplus despite the political challenge of dealing with a Democratic President. A lot of candidates say they're going to improve Washington. Newt Gingrich has actually done that, and in this race he offers the best shot of doing it again.

We sympathize with the many people we have heard from, both here and across the country, who remain unsure of their choice this close to the primary. It is understandable. Our nation is in peril, yet much of the attention has been focused on fluff, silliness and each candidate's minor miscues.

Truth be known, many in the liberal media are belittling the Republican candidates because they don't want any of them to be taken as a serious challenger to their man, Obama.

Readers of the Union Leader and Sunday News know that we don't back candidates based on popularity polls or big-shot backers. We look for conservatives of courage and conviction who are independent-minded, grounded in their core beliefs about this nation and its people, and best equipped for the job.

We don't have to agree with them on every issue. We would rather back someone with whom we may sometimes disagree than one who tells us what he thinks we want to hear.

Newt Gingrich is by no means the perfect candidate. But Republican primary voters too often make the mistake of preferring an unattainable ideal to the best candidate who is actually running. In this incredibly important election, that candidate is Newt Gingrich. He has the experience, the leadership qualities and the vision to lead this country in these trying times. He is worthy of your support on January 10.
5877  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Political Economics: Equality of rights or results? Sowell, Piven, Friedman 1980 on: November 28, 2011, 09:49:14 AM

Discussion between Thomas Sowell and Frances Fox Piven with Milton Friedman
5878  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Pathological Science on: November 28, 2011, 09:34:31 AM
There isn't any interpretation of the data in any of this. No one has claimed to know what it means.  If you don't like the regression analysis, ignore his line, look at the dots, draw your own line. There isn't any part of this story that is about the person you attack. He could be an armed robber or child molester, it wouldn't affect the substance of this.  You already made your limp attack-the-messenger argument 7 posts back. My link to his chart links to the actual data. It is for my own integrity that I credit that post rather than pretend I found the raw data myself.  It should be in a mainstream source, why don't YOU send it to the LA Times and I will link them.  But it won't be published there or in my local paper or at the EPA or the NY Times.  This data doesn't fit their story.  

I already answered all this by posting the raw data and the original source with the link to show it is the same source used and funded by NASA and NOAA, during your witch hunt, 5 posts back.  Strangely you wrote that you accepted the data and then drivel on with personal attacks that hit me.  That is what I mean by a circular argument - the opposite of moving a discussion forward.  This had happened with you one too many times last time.  That doesn't happen by accident.  You could post opposing views or context or leave it alone when you have nothing, but no, it is just argue backwards, sideways and in circles.  What a waste.
5879  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Pathological Science on: November 27, 2011, 11:46:30 PM
Welcome back BBG.

JDN, The post of mine in question that you compare to Martians landing in St. Paul uses the best sources on the planet.  The data says that sea level has dropped for 2 years.  I said that proves the rise is not continuous or accelerating.  Al Gore said oceans rising 20 feet displacing hundreds of millions.  Your EPA link contradicts that.  You impugn a guy who drew the line through the data (a two variable linear regression), but pretend to be impugning the data.  Really you are attacking me personally; I am the one who brought that information to this board.  Nothing you wrote or posted corrects or refutes the above.  You call the EPA scholars but they are agenda driven politicians barking up the wrong tree, oblivious to the damage they inflict.  They have a massive budget, a whole section on sea level and don't publish the data.  WHY NOT?  An internet troll is one who intentionally and repeatedly brings the conversation backwards, sideways, in circles or anywhere except forward.  Don't be that guy.  Don't tell me on this thread a couple other posts were good like that excuses you for saying my post was equivalent to  Martians landing in St. Paul.  Did they?  Why don't you post this on the board: 'Doug, here are some data that contradict what you posted'?  I know why not.  You don't have any.  You drivel that a kid on an electric scooter named Dana1961 says that guy who the pulled the data from the most reliable information known and ran the most recent 2 years in a regression analysis is using a pseudonym.  That's scary, and Dana 1961 is the long name his mom gave him?  You post that he has issued a correction to a past post.  What the hell does that have to do with the satellite data that I posted?  If nothing, then retract it.
5880  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: November 27, 2011, 10:37:54 PM
Morris set up that framework earlier in the year.  It's muddled now but I agree with his conclusion, but a 3rd player is not guaranteed.  Mitt and Newt are in the final group and the others are out IMO unless Perry starts acting like a winning candidate and to go from single digits sinking to a win Iowa.

Newt and Mitt could narrow the field by going 1 and 2 in Iowa and NH; either one could wrap it up early by winning the first 3. 
5881  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Pathological Science: Hide 2 Years of Decline on: November 26, 2011, 01:39:47 PM
The data I posted previously and below was sourced and linked to the same satellite based ocean measurements that NASA and NOAA use, not from a 3rd grade blogger, and your personal insults to my post were not necessary or helpful to the discussion level on the board you meanspirited internet troll. The EPA site you linked with a billion times more funding posts nothing from the last two years because that data does not support their Occupy America agenda.

Dates and Ocean measurements:
2009.762544 4.983938e-01
2009.786452 4.986906e-01
2009.810016 4.978843e-01
2009.834542 4.964168e-01
2009.858177 4.950515e-01
2009.882085 4.943344e-01
2009.905994 4.943233e-01
2009.929902 4.946768e-01
2009.953810 4.949439e-01
2009.977719 4.947911e-01
2010.001627 4.940890e-01
2010.025536 4.929729e-01
2010.049444 4.918703e-01
2010.073352 4.913476e-01
2010.097261 4.917230e-01
2010.121169 4.927341e-01
2010.145077 4.936435e-01
2010.168986 4.937882e-01
2010.192894 4.931054e-01
2010.216803 4.921310e-01
2010.240711 4.914826e-01
2010.264619 4.913422e-01
2010.288528 4.914230e-01
2010.312436 4.913864e-01
2010.336344 4.912200e-01
2010.360253 4.911966e-01
2010.384161 4.915188e-01
2010.408070 4.920793e-01
2010.431978 4.925840e-01
2010.455886 4.928454e-01
2010.479795 4.928986e-01
2010.503703 4.928435e-01
2010.527611 4.926382e-01
2010.551520 4.921086e-01
2010.575428 4.911581e-01
2010.599337 4.899450e-01
2010.623245 4.888302e-01
2010.647153 4.881369e-01
2010.671062 4.879415e-01
2010.694970 4.880703e-01
2010.718878 4.882825e-01
2010.742787 4.884623e-01
2010.766695 4.886481e-01
2010.790426 4.889007e-01
2010.814662 4.891458e-01
2010.838322 4.892256e-01
2010.862143 4.889994e-01
2010.885965 4.885108e-01
2010.909787 4.879770e-01
2010.933608 4.876641e-01
2010.957430 4.877281e-01
2010.981252 4.881207e-01
2011.005073 4.886330e-01
2011.028895 4.890310e-01
2011.052716 4.891611e-01
2011.076538 4.889289e-01
2011.100360 4.882206e-01
2011.124181 4.869459e-01
2011.148003 4.852498e-01
2011.171824 4.836647e-01
2011.195646 4.829230e-01
2011.219467 4.834688e-01
2011.242192 4.850516e-01
2011.267372 4.868304e-01
2011.290932 4.878911e-01
2011.314753 4.878862e-01
2011.338575 4.871719e-01
2011.362396 4.864411e-01
2011.386218 4.861811e-01
2011.410039 4.864160e-01
2011.433861 4.868410e-01
2011.457682 4.871225e-01
2011.481504 4.870342e-01
2011.505325 4.864432e-01
2011.529146 4.854239e-01
2011.552968 4.844569e-01
2011.576789 4.843574e-01
2011.600611 4.854777e-01
2011.624432 4.870849e-01
2011.648254 4.882340e-01
2011.672075 4.886173e-01
2011.695896 4.883880e-01

Argos was developed under a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES, the French space agency), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA, USA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA, USA).

The system utilizes both ground and satellite-based resources to accomplish its mission. These include:

    instruments carried aboard the NOAA polar orbiting environmental satellites (POES) and the EUMETSAT MetOp satellites,
    receiving stations around the world,
    and major processing facilities in France and the United States.

This fully integrated system works to conveniently locate and deliver data from the most remote platforms to the user's desktop, often in near real-time.

Argos is operated by CLS/Argos, based in Toulouse, France. CLS has subsidiaries in the U.S., namely, Service Argos, Inc. and North American CLS.
    8-10, rue Hermès,
    Parc Technologique du Canal
    31520 Ramonville Saint-Agne
    Tel.: +33 (0)5 61 39 47 00
    Fax: +33 (0)5 61 75 10 14

    CLS America, Inc., USA
    CLS Perú, Peru
    Novacom Services, France
    PT CLS Argos Indonesia, Indonesia
    Altamira, Spain

    Cubic-I, Japan
    KL Trading, Korea
    ES-PAS, Russia
    Cunlogan, Chile
    Satellite Information Technology Pty Ltd, Australia
    CLS Bruxelles, Belgium
    CLS Vietnam, Vietnam
    Tianjin Haihua Technology Development Center , China
5882  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Pathological Science on: November 26, 2011, 12:00:15 PM
Your link: proves my point just as well.  Thank you for that!   wink
5883  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Mexico-US matters: Make the Desert Bloom on: November 26, 2011, 11:54:46 AM
I know we have a drug demand problem in the U.S. drug laws that force up prices and profits making trafficking worse but from my view from seeing only small parts of our 5500 mile border with Canada, I offer this intended as constructive, not disparaging: The main problem with the US southern border is inside Mexico and whatever freedom, opportunity and prosperity that is not happening there.

With free trade, NAFTA, short flights and easy trucking lanes right into the world's most prosperous economy next door, why aren't they the fastest growing productive economy and opportunity society on the planet?  Does anyone here have insights on that or another theory?

Mexico’s economy
Making the desert bloom

The Mexican economy has recovered somewhat from a scorching recession imported from America, but is still hobbled by domestic monopolies and cartels

Aug 27th 2011 | SALTILLO | The Economist  - from the print edition

HOT and high in the Sierra Madre, the city of Saltillo is a long way from Wall Street. Stuffed goats keep an eye on customers in the high-street vaquera, or cowboy outfitter, where workers from the local car factories blow their pesos on snakeskin boots and $100 Stetsons. Pinstriped suits and silk ties are outnumbered by checked shirts and silver belt-buckles; pickups are prized over Porsches.

The financial crisis of 2008 began on the trading floors of Manhattan, but the biggest tremors were felt in the desert south of the Rio Grande. Mexico suffered the steepest recession of any country in the Americas, bar a couple of Caribbean tiddlers. Its economy shrank by 6.1% in 2009 (see chart 1). Between the third quarter of 2008 and the second quarter of 2009, 700,000 jobs were lost, 260,000 of them in manufacturing. The slump was deepest in the prosperous north: worst hit was the border state of Coahuila. Saltillo, its capital, had grown rich exporting to America. The state’s output fell by 12.3% in 2009 as orders dried up.

The recession turned a reasonable decade for Mexico’s economy into a dreary one. In the ten years to 2010, income per person grew by 0.6% a year, one of the lowest rates in the world. In the early 2000s Mexico boasted Latin America’s biggest economy, measured at market exchange rates, but it was soon overtaken by Brazil, whose GDP is now twice as big and still pulling away, boosted by the soaring real. Soon Brazil will take the lead in oil production, which Mexico has allowed to dwindle. As Brazilians construct stadiums for the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics, Mexicans, who last year celebrated the bicentenary of their independence from Spain, are building monuments to their past (and finishing them late).

Mexico’s muscles

Yet Mexico’s economy is packed with potential. Thanks to the North American Free-Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and a string of bilateral deals, it trades more than Argentina and Brazil combined, and more per person than China. Last year it did $400 billion of business with the United States, more than any country bar Canada and China. The investment rate, at more than a fifth of GDP, is well ahead of Brazil’s. Income per person slipped below Brazil’s in 2009, but only because of the real’s surge and the peso’s weakness. After accounting for purchasing power, Mexicans are still better off than Brazilians.

Though expatriates whinge about bureaucracy, the World Bank ranks Mexico the easiest place in Latin America to do business and the 35th-easiest in the world, ahead of Italy and Spain. In Brazil (placed 127th) companies spend 2,600 hours a year filing taxes, six times more than in Mexico. Registering a business takes nine days in Mexico and 26 in Argentina. The working hours of supposedly siesta-loving Mexicans are among the longest in the world. And although Mexico’s schools are the worst in (mainly rich) OECD countries, they are the least bad in Latin America apart from Chile’s.

These strengths have helped Mexico to rebound smartly from its calamitous slump. Last year the economy grew by 5.4%, recovering much of the ground lost in 2009. Exports to the United States, having fallen by a fifth, have reached a record high. In the desert there are signs of life: Saltillo’s high street, where four out of ten shops closed during the recession, is busy again. CIFUNSA, a foundry that turns out some 400,000 tonnes of cast iron a year for customers such as Ford and Volkswagen, shed 40% of its staff in 2009, but has rehired most of them and is producing more than it did before the slump.

However, the jobs market has yet to return to its pre-recession state. Nationally, the official unemployment rate is 5.4%, having peaked at 6.4% in 2009. Javier Lozano, Mexico’s labour secretary, believes that the pre-recession mark of 4.1% will not be matched within the term of this government or the next (ie, before 2018). What’s more, the new jobs are not as good as those that were lost. Average pay last year was 5% lower than in 2008. Because of this, and rising food prices, more Mexicans have slipped into poverty: last year 46.2% of them were below the official poverty line (earning less than 2,114 pesos, or $167, per month), up from 44.5% in 2008.

Just as recession came from the gringos, recovery depends partly on them. Many analysts who once predicted economic growth of 5% this year cut their forecasts to under 4% after a downward revision of American GDP in July. Exports account for nearly a third of Mexico’s trillion-dollar GDP, and most go to the United States. Remittances provide $190 per person per year (down from $240 in 2007). Now America faces several years of lacklustre growth, which poses a dilemma for Mexico.

Some look at the recent explosive growth of Brazil and wonder if it is time to follow its example and look to new markets. In 2009 only 3% of Mexico’s exports went to Brazil, Russia, India or China, whereas Brazil sent 16% of its exports to its fellow BRICs. Industrialised countries receive less than half of Brazil’s exports but 90% of Mexico’s. The Inter-American Development Bank, the biggest lender in the region, describes a “two speed” Latin America, in which economies, such as Mexico, which do most of their trade with developed countries, lag behind those, such as Brazil, that have forged links with emerging markets.

South or north?

Mexico has already diversified its exports. America’s share of them has fallen from 89% in 2000 to perhaps 78% this year and will fall further, according to Miguel Messmacher, head of economic planning at Mexico’s finance ministry. Sales to Latin America and Asia are growing twice as fast as those to America. The automotive industry, Mexico’s biggest exporter, is ahead of the trend: though exports to America continue to rise, they now make up only 65% of the total. Eduardo Solís, head of the industry’s national association, says he would like to get the figure down to 50% by focusing on Latin America and Europe.

Others say Mexico’s economic future will always be to the north. “We can’t just become a commodity exporter and start sending soy beans to China,” says Jorge Castañeda, a former foreign secretary. History, geography and natural resources have wedded Mexico to its wealthy neighbour: “It’s not something we chose,” he says. If the American economy is growing slowly, Mexico will just have to get a bigger chunk of it.

That task has been made harder by China. Since China joined the World Trade Organisation in 2001 its share of American imports has grown fast and is now the biggest. The shares of Canada and especially Japan have fallen. Mexico’s share, which almost doubled in the seven years after NAFTA came into effect, slipped after 2001. But it is edging up again (see chart 2).

China’s low wages, which lured factories away from Mexico, are rising rapidly. In 2003 Mexican pay was three times Chinese rates but now it is only 20% higher, Mr Messmacher says. The rising yuan and the cheap peso accentuate this trend.

Proximity to America, Mexico’s trump card, has been made more valuable by the high oil price. The resolution in July of a long dispute has allowed Mexican lorries to make deliveries in America, which the Mexican government reckons will reduce firms’ shipping costs by 15%. The rise of China may also help Mexico too, by forcing American companies to compete more keenly. Detroit carmakers cannot export cars to South Korea, but a Mexican factory using American parts can, notes Luis de la Calle, a former trade minister.

Luring foreign investors has been made trickier by a spike in violence. Since 2007, a crackdown on organised crime has caused Mexico’s drug-trafficking “cartels”, as they are known (though they are in fact rather competitive), to splinter and fight. Last year the murder rate was 17 per 100,000 people, a little lower than Brazil’s, but more than two-thirds up on 2007. Ernesto Cordero, the finance minister, has estimated that the violence knocks about a percentage point off Mexico’s annual growth rate.

The fighting is highly concentrated: last year 70% of mafia-related killings took place in 3% of the country’s municipalities. In Yucatán state, where tourists scramble around Mayan ruins, the murder rate is no higher than in Belgium. Last July was the busiest ever for Mexico’s foreign-tourist trade, but there are signs that the drip of bloody stories is starting to hurt bookings. In the first five months of this year, arrivals were 3.6% lower than last. Acapulco, which caters mainly to domestic tourists, has virtually emptied thanks to frequent shootings in the heart of the hotel zone.

Many of the roughest areas are in the north, where foreign investment is concentrated. In Ciudad Juárez, a centre of maquila factories that assemble products for export, the murder rate has climbed to one of the highest in the world, as the Sinaloa and Juárez cartels battle for control of the border crossing, little restrained (and often aided) by the local police. In Tamaulipas, a border state where violence surged last year, the unemployment rate has risen to 7.5%, the highest in the country. The head of a Mexican multinational with operations there found recently that his local manager had been siphoning company money to the cartels. Many rich businessmen have moved their families to America; the governor of one border state is rumoured to have done the same (his office denies it).

Investors have largely held their nerve. Foreign direct investment, which reached $30 billion in 2007 but fell to half that in 2009, is expected to recover to $20 billion this year. Businessmen play down the violence: Mr Solís admits that some car transporters have been robbed on highways, but says that this year has been better than last. This month Honda became the latest carmaker to announce plans to expand in Mexico, in spite of the insecurity.

Still, insecurity adds costs and delays. The road from Saltillo to Monterrey, the nearest big airport, has become dicey, so more people rely on Saltillo’s own tiny airport, where a single airline offers flights to Mexico City for upwards of $400. Conferences, concerts and sporting fixtures have been cancelled in Monterrey. In Coahuila on August 20th a football match was abandoned after shots were fired outside the stadium. Some foreign companies are even nervous about sending executives to Mexico City, although it has a lower murder rate than many American cities.

From Uncle Sam to Uncle Slim

Despite Mexico’s difficulties, one of its citizens is the richest person in the world. Carlos Slim, the son of a Lebanese immigrant, has made a fortune estimated by Forbes at $74 billion. The magazine reckons that last year his net worth rose by $20.5 billion.

Nearly two-thirds of Mr Slim’s wealth is thought to lie in América Móvil, the biggest or second-biggest mobile-phone operator everywhere in Latin America except Chile (where it is third). In Mexico Mr Slim’s grip is particularly strong, with 70% of the cellular market and 80% of landlines. In half the country’s 400 local areas, only his company has the infrastructure to put through calls to landlines. Not surprisingly, after accounting for purchasing power home landlines in Mexico cost 45% more than the OECD average and business lines 63% more (see chart 3). Mobiles are better value, particularly for those who do not make many calls. But basic broadband access costs nearly ten times more (per megabit per second of advertised speed) than in the rest of the OECD.

Telecoms is not the only monopolised sector. A study by the OECD and Mexico’s Federal Competition Commission (CFC) found that 31% of Mexican household spending went on products supplied in monopolistic or highly oligopolistic markets. The poorest tenth suffered most, 38% of their expenditure going on such things.

The cost of these captive markets is ruinous. Until recently, for example, firms selling generic medicines were required by law to operate a plant in Mexico. This, along with a system that allows doctors to prescribe medicines by brand rather than by generic compound, means that the market is dominated by expensive brands. Generics account for less than 17% of the drugs market, against 66.5% in America. Medicine is a third pricier than in Britain.

Time for some self-service

The labyrinth of torpitude

Transport is expensive too. The handful of budget airlines that arrived in the past decade have struggled to get take-off and landing slots at Mexico City’s airport, which are dished out by a committee dominated by incumbents. The CFC found that flights to and from Mexico City were between 40% and 80% dearer than those to less strangled airports. Intercity bus routes are dominated by four firms that have divided up the country. Fares are 10% higher than they ought to be, the CFC estimates.

Banking is similarly uncompetitive. Two banks control almost half the market for deposit accounts and two-thirds of the credit- and debit-card markets. The lack of choice means that 95% of account-holders have never switched banks. Top of the list of Saltillo businesses’ complaints is the scarcity and cost of credit.

Some of these pinch points are being addressed. The collapse last year of Mexicana, North America’s oldest airline, has presented an opportunity to auction landing slots to nimbler competitors. Drugs should get cheaper thanks to an auction system devised by the CFC for Mexico’s social-security institute. In April a new competition law introduced penalties of up to ten years in jail for collusion, and empowered the CFC to make surprise inspections. The same month it fined Mr Slim’s mobile-phone operator a record $1 billion for abusing its market dominance.

Banking has been opened to entrants such as Walmart, which has already shaken up Mexican retailing. Commercial credit is expanding: it stands at 19% of GDP, nearly double the ratio in 2003. Lending is still less than half of what it was before the banking crisis of 1994, suggesting plenty of room for growth—certainly more than in Brazil, where credit already equals about half of GDP.

Forcing competition on cosy industries is still not easy. When the government decided in 2009 to shut down Luz y Fuerza, a state-run electricity company that was costing the taxpayer $3 billion a year, it required 1,000 police in riot gear to occupy the firm’s offices. Since Luz y Fuerza shut, the wait for new connections in Mexico City has fallen from ten months to four. But its ex-employees still bring parts of the capital to a halt with protests. Labour-reform efforts, to ease hiring and firing and allow six-month trial contracts, have met opposition in congress. Even with the new competition law, few people fancy the authorities’ chances against Mr Slim’s lawyers.

The answer is to open the economy and let foreign competition force Mexican firms to adapt, believes Mr de la Calle. “If you have free trade, you don’t need structural reforms because the companies have to compete,” he says. He cites the pork industry, which used to be blighted with hog cholera. Farmers resisted pressure to eradicate it, preferring to sell low volumes at high prices. When tariffs were dropped, cheap pork from America forced Mexican farmers to clean up their act. Cholera was eliminated, output rose and prices fell.

Other industries are ripe for similar treatment. Oil is a prime candidate. Pemex, a state monopoly, handles everything from exploration to petrol pumps. Its profits contribute a third of government revenue, allowing Mexico to maintain a generous and feebly enforced tax regime. But decades of underinvestment have hurt production, which fell from 3.4m barrels a day in 2004 to 2.6m. Brazil, which has allowed foreign investment in its oilfields, is producing around 2m barrels a day and expects to be pumping 6m by 2020.

Pemex’s output has stabilised in the past year, and this month it awarded its first performance-based contracts, a precursor to getting oil majors to explore the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico. But efforts to make the company more efficient have been vetoed by the oil workers’ union. Refineries are poorly run; petrol stations forbid self-service.

The Mexican Institute for Competitiveness, a think-tank, estimates that the GDP growth rate could be raised by 2.5 percentage points if the oil industry were opened up and labour and competition laws reformed. Reeling from an American-made recession, however, Mexico is hardly in the mood for a more open economy. With a presidential election next year, it would be easier to keep puttering along in the shadow of Brazil, an economy which in some ways Mexico outclasses. Mexico’s rebound from slump and its resilience to lawlessness show its underlying strength. If it could only bust the monopolistic dams that have parched its economy, its desert might one day start to bloom.

5884  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Political Economics: Lawrtence Summers 3 ways to combat 'Income Inequality', on: November 26, 2011, 11:27:30 AM
Not finding a category for 'Cognitive Dissonance of the Centrists, I will stick this here.  So-called centrists like past candidate Perot IMO tend to be better at pointing to problems than structuring real solutions. Summers, like Volcker, was supposed to be one of the sane advisers to the President.  Both are now long gone from the administration.

I will go along with his point one, but it is mostly nonsense.  People without means can't participate evenly with the wealthy if the government decides to auction off public assets or licenses like an additional airwave for broadcast or land for energy exploration.

Point 2 is verbose but basically means make progressivity in taxation even worse while half already pay nothing.  I would say worst case should be hold the line with progressivity where it is, cut the worthless loopholes and lower the rates proportionally for everyone who produces.

Point 3 is more BS.  College tuition, along with a host of other things, is outrageous and unaffordable because of government interference and he proposes no solution.

Apologies to Thatcher, but we need to pursue a 'society' of haves, not choose between protecting or destroying a class of them.  We need to unleash economic freedom and growth.  In that context, government should do nothing that unnecessarily favors the rich and nothing that makes the natural inequalities of a free and prosperous society worse than what is natural and necessary.

Three ways to combat rising inequality

By Lawrence Summers, Published: November 20

There has been a strong and troubling shift in market rewards for a small minority relative to the rewards available to most citizens. A recent Congressional Budget Office study found that incomes of the top 1 percent of the U.S. population (adjusted for inflation) rose 275 percent from 1979 to 2007, while income for the middle class grew only 40 percent. Even this dismal figure overstates the fortunes of typical Americans. In 1965, only one in 20 men ages 25 to 54 was not working; by the end of this decade, it is likely to be one in six, even if a full cyclical recovery is achieved.

Another calculation suggests that if the income distribution had remained constant from 1979 to 2007, incomes of the top 1 percent would be 59 percent, or $780,000, lower and that incomes among the bottom 80 percent would be 21 percent, or more than $10,000, higher.

Those looking to remain serene in the face of these trends or who favor policies that would disproportionately cut taxes at the high end — and exacerbate inequality — assert that snapshot inequality is all right as long as there is mobility within people’s lifetimes and across generations. In fact, there is too little of both. Inequality in lifetime incomes is only marginally smaller than inequality in a single year. And intergenerational mobility in the United States is now poor by international standards.

Why has the top 1 percent done so well relative to the rest? The answer lies substantially in changes in technology and in globalization. When George Eastman revolutionized photography, he did very well, and because he needed a large number of Americans to carry out his vision, the city of Rochester, N.Y., had a thriving middle class for two generations. When Steve Jobs revolutionized personal computing, he and Apple shareholders did very well, but those shareholders are all over the world, and a much smaller benefit flowed to middle-class American workers, both because production was outsourced and because the production of computers and software was not terribly labor-intensive.

The market system distributes rewards increasingly inequitably. On one side, the debate is framed in zero-sum terms, and the disappointing lack of income growth for middle-class workers is blamed on the success of the wealthy. Those with this view should consider whether it would be better if the United States had more, or fewer, entrepreneurs like those who founded Apple, Google, Microsoft and Facebook. Each did contribute significantly to rising inequality. It is easy to resent the level and extent of the increase in CEO salaries, but firms that have a single owner, such as private equity firms, pay successful chief executives more than public companies do. And for all their problems, American global companies have done very well compared with those headquartered in more egalitarian societies over the past two decades. Where great fortunes are earned by providing great products or services that benefit large numbers of people, they should not be denigrated.

Meanwhile, those who call concerns about rising inequality misplaced or a product of class warfare are even further off base. The extent of the change in the income distribution is such that it is no longer true that the overall growth rate of the economy is the principal determinant of middle-class income growth — how the growth pie is distributed is at least equally important. The observation that most of the increase in inequality reflects gains for those at the very top at the expense of everyone else further belies the idea that simply strengthening the economy will reduce inequality. Focusing on American competitiveness, as many urge, could easily exacerbate inequality while doing little for most Americans if the focus is placed on measures such as corporate tax cuts or the protection of intellectual property for the benefit of companies that are not primarily producing in the United States.

We need more and better responses to rising inequality. Here are three places to start.

First, government must not facilitate increases in inequality by rewarding the wealthy with special concessions. Where governments dispose of assets or allocate licenses, preference should be on the use of auctions to which all have access. Where government provides implicit or explicit insurance, premiums should be based on the market rather than in consultation with the affected industry. Government’s general posture should be standing up for capitalism rather than for well-connected capitalists.

Second, there is scope for pro-fairness, pro-growth tax reform. The moment when more great fortunes are being created and the federal deficit is growing is hardly the time for the estate tax to be eviscerated. And there is no reason tax changes in a period of sharply rising inequality should reinforce the trends in pretax incomes produced by the marketplace.

Third, the public sector must ensure greater equity in areas of the most fundamental importance. It will always be the case in a market economy that some will have mansions, art, etc. More troubling is that middle-class students’ ability to attend college has been seriously compromised by increasing tuitions and sharp cutbacks at public universities, and that, over the past generation, a gap has opened between the life expectancy of the affluent and the ordinary.

Neither the politics of polarization nor those of noblesse oblige on behalf of the fortunate will serve to protect the interests of the middle class in the post-industrial economy.

The writer, a professor and past president at Harvard University, was Treasury secretary in the Clinton administration and economic adviser to President Obama from 2009 through 2010.
5885  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / US Foreign Policy: The enemy is the enemy, call it by its name, Caroline Glick on: November 26, 2011, 11:08:27 AM
Very worthwhile read!  Timely if not too late.

Calling things by their proper names
November 25, 2011, 10:20 AM
Maliki and the dwarf.jpg

Next month, America's long campaign in Iraq will come to an end with the departure of the last US forces from the country.

Amazingly, the approaching withdrawal date has fomented little discussion in the US. Few have weighed in on the likely consequences of President Barack Obama's decision to withdraw on the US's hard won gains in that country.

After some six thousand Americans gave their lives in the struggle for Iraq and hundreds of billions of dollars were spent on the war, it is quite amazing that its conclusion is being met with disinterested yawns.

The general stupor was broken last week with The Weekly Standard's publication of an article titled, "Defeat in Iraq: President Obama's decision to withdraw US troops is the mother of all disasters."

The article was written by Frederick and Kimberly Kagan and Marisa Cochrane Sullivan. The Kagans contributed to conceptualizing the US's successful counterinsurgency strategy in Iraq, popularly known as "the surge," that president George W. Bush implemented in 2007.

In their article, the Kagans and Sullivan explain the strategic implications of next month's withdrawal. First they note that with the US withdrawal, the sectarian violence that the surge effectively ended will in all likelihood return in force.

Iranian-allied Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is purging the Iraqi military and security services and the Iraqi civil service of pro-Western, anti- Iranian commanders and senior officials. With American acquiescence, Maliki and his Shi'ite allies already managed to effectively overturn the March 2010 election results. Those elections gave the Sunni-dominated Iraqiya party led by former prime minister Ayad Allawi the right to form the next government.

Due to Maliki's actions, Iraq's Sunnis are becoming convinced they have little to gain from peacefully accepting the government.

The strategic implications of Maliki's purges are clear. As the US departs the country next month it will be handing its hard-won victory in Iraq to its greatest regional foe - Iran.

Repeating their behavior in the aftermath of Israel's precipitous withdrawal from southern Lebanon in May 2000, the Iranians and their Hezbollah proxies are presenting the US withdrawal from Iraq as a massive strategic victory.

They are also inventing the rationale for continued war against the retreating Americans. Iran's Hezbollah-trained proxy, Muqtada al-Sadr, has declared that US Embassy personnel are an "occupation force" that the Iraqis should rightly attack with the aim of defeating.

The US public's ignorance of the implications of a post-withdrawal, Iranian-dominated Iraq is not surprising. The Obama administration has ignored them and the media have largely followed the administration's lead in underplaying them.

For its part, the Bush administration spent little time explaining to the US public who the forces fighting in Iraq were and why the US was fighting them.

US military officials frequently admitted that the insurgents were trained, armed and funded by Iran and Syria. But policy-makers never took any action against either country for waging war against the US. Above the tactical level, the US was unwilling to take any effective action to diminish either regime's support for the insurgency or to make them pay a diplomatic or military price for their actions.

As for Obama, as the Kagans and Sullivan show, the administration abjectly refused to intervene when Maliki stole the elections or to defend US allies in the Iraqi military from Maliki's pro-Iranian purge of the general officer corps. And by refusing to side with US allies, the Obama administration has effectively sided with America's foes, enabling Iranian-allied forces to take over the US-built, trained and armed security apparatuses in Iraq.

ALL OF these actions are in line with the US's current policy towards Egypt. There, without considering the consequences of its actions, in January and February the Obama administration played a key role in ousting the US's most dependable ally in the Arab world, president Hosni Mubarak.

Since Mubarak was thrown from office, Egypt has been ruled by a military junta dubbed the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces. Because SCAF is comprised of the men who served as Mubarak's underlings throughout his 30-year rule, it shares many of the institutional interests that guided Mubarak and rendered him a dependable US ally. Specifically, SCAF is ill-disposed toward chaos and Islamic radicalism.

However, unlike Mubarak, SCAF is only in power because the mobs of protesters in Tahrir Square demanded that Mubarak stand down to enable civilian, majority rule in Egypt. Consequently, the military junta is much less able to keep Egypt's populist forces at bay.

Throughout Mubarak's long reign, the most popular force in Egypt was the jihadist Muslim Brotherhood. The populism unleashed by Mubarak's ouster necessarily rendered the Brotherhood the most powerful political force in Egypt. If free elections are held in Egypt next week as planned and if their results are honored, within a year Egypt will be ruled by the Muslim Brotherhood. This is the outcome Obama all but guaranteed when he cut the cord on Mubarak.

Recognizing the danger a Brotherhood government would pose to the army's institutional interests, in recent weeks the generals began taking steps to delay elections, limit the power of the parliament and postpone presidential elections.

Their moves provoked massive opposition from Egypt's now fully legitimated and empowered populist forces. And so they launched what they are dubbing "the second Egyptian revolution."

And the US doesn't know what to do.

In late 2010, foreign policy professionals on both sides of the aisle in Washington got together and formed a group called the Working Group for Egypt. This group, with members as seemingly diverse as Elliott Abrams from the Bush administration and the Council on Foreign Relations, and Brian Katulis from the Center for American Progress, chose to completely ignore the fact that the populist forces in Egypt are overwhelmingly jihadist. They lobbied for Mubarak's overthrow in the name of "democracy" in January and February. Today they demand that Obama side with the rioters in Tahrir Square against the military. And just as he did in January and February, Obama is likely to follow their "bipartisan" advice.

FROM IRAQ to Egypt to Libya to Syria, as previous mistakes by both the Bush and Obama administrations constrain and diminish US options for advancing its national interests, America is compelled to make more and more difficult choices. In Libya, after facilitating Muammar Gaddafi's overthrow, the US is faced with the prospect of dealing with an even more radical regime that is jihadist, empowered and already transferring arms to terror groups and proliferating nonconventional weapons. If the Obama administration and the US foreign policy establishment acknowledge the hostile nature of the new regime and refrain from supporting it, they will be forced to admit they sided with America's enemies in taking down Gaddafi.

While Gaddafi was certainly no Mubarak, at worst he was an impotent adversary.

In Syria, not only did the US refuse to take any action against President Bashar Assad despite his active sponsorship of the insurgency in Iraq, it failed to cultivate any ties with Syrian regime opponents. The US has continued to ignore Syrian regime opponents to the present day. And now, with Assad's fall a matter of time, the US is presented with a fairly set opposition leadership, backed by Islamist Turkey and dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood. The liberal, pro-American forces in Syria, including the Kurds, have been shut out of the post-Assad power structure.

And in Egypt, after embracing "democracy" over its ally Mubarak, the US is faced with another unenviable choice. It can either side with the weak, but not necessarily hostile military junta which is dependent on US financial aid, or it can side with Islamic extremists who seek its destruction and that of Israel and have the support of the Egyptian people.

HOW HAS this situation arisen? How is it possible that the US finds itself today with so few good options in the Arab world after all the blood and treasure it has sacrificed? The answer to this question is found to a large degree in an article by Prof. Angelo Codevilla in the current issue of the Claremont Review of Books titled "The Lost Decade."

Codevilla argues that the reason the US finds itself in the position it is in today owes to a significant degree to its refusal after September 11, 2001, to properly identify its enemy. US foreign policy elites of all stripes and sizes refused to consider clearly how the US should best defend its interests because they refused to identify who most endangered those interests.

The Left refused to acknowledge that the US was under attack from the forces of radical Islam enabled by Islamic supremacist regimes such as Saudi Arabia and Iran because the Left didn't want the US to fight. Moreover, because the Left believes that US policies are to blame for the Islamic world's hostility to America, leftists favor foreign policies predicated on US appeasement of its enemies.

For its part, the Right refused to acknowledge the identity and nature of the US's enemy because it feared the Left.

And so, rather than fight radical Islamists, under Bush the US went to war against a tactic - terrorism. And lo and behold, it was unable to defeat a tactic because a tactic isn't an enemy. It's just a tactic.

And as its war aim was unachievable, the declared ends of the war became spectacular. Rather than fight to defend the US, the US went to war to transform the Arab world from one imbued with unmentionable religious extremism to one increasingly ruled by democratically elected unmentionable religious extremism.

The lion's share of responsibility for this dismal state of affairs lies with former president Bush and his administration. While the Left didn't want to fight or defeat the forces of radical Islam after September 11, the majority of Americans did. And by catering to the Left and refusing to identify the enemy, Bush adopted war-fighting tactics that discredited the war effort and demoralized and divided the American public, thus paving the way for Obama to be elected while running on a radical anti-war platform of retreat and appeasement.

Since Obama came into office, he has followed the Left's ideological guidelines of ending the fight against and seeking to appease America's worst enemies. This is why he has supported the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. This is why he turned a blind eye to the Islamists who dominated the opposition to Gaddafi. This is why he has sought to appease Iran and Syria. This is why he supports the Muslim Brotherhood-dominated Syrian opposition. This is why he supports Turkey's Islamist government. And this is why he is hostile to Israel.

And this is why come December 31, the US will withdraw in defeat from Iraq, and pro- American forces in the region and the US itself will reap the whirlwind of Washington's irresponsibility.

There is a price to be paid for calling an enemy an enemy. But there is an even greater price to be paid for failing to do so.
5886  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government programs: The Chevy Volt on: November 26, 2011, 10:01:34 AM
First I must admit I am fascinated with things like off the grid power systems and with electric vehicles.  I have 2 electric vehicles right now (an electric bike and a trolling motor powered kayak) but still rely heavily on the combustion engine to get real work done, a load carried or a real distance traveled.  A natural gas and electric hybrid I predict will be in my future, but who knows.  I just don't see how any of it depends on a government program.  That doesn't it make it more cost effective, it just hides the costs.

The real intention of these government programs, subsidies and mandates, is to rush the product to market before it is ready.  Isn't government's role in every other product, FDA etc. life saving drugs and procedures, to slow the product to market so that proper testing and public safety is assured?

2nd electric car battery fire involving Chevy Volt

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal officials say they are investigating the safety of lithium-ion battery in General Motors Co.'s Chevrolet Volt after a second battery fire following crash-testing of the electric car.
5887  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Pathological Science on: November 26, 2011, 09:38:36 AM
OMG! It's so hot, the sea is boiling away!

All that extra moisture in the air explains the drought in Texas too!
Global warming is even more  of a joke here - we didn't have to dream of a white Thanksgiving up here this year, the snowblowers, plows and salt trucks have already been out.  That is why they changed the name global warming to climate change - consistent or accelerating warming was so easy to disprove.  Climate change covers hot and cold, wet and dry - as if those variances did not previously occur.  If you can observe it or measure it, then it was caused by capitalism, fossil fuel use and the greediest 1%.  Fit the data to the theory.

I was reading some pretty good pieces lately about the errors the climate modelers were making in the late 1990s.  Because they deny the effects of phenomenon they don't understand or know about, cosmic rays, solar magnetism, cloud cover variabilities, etc. they attribute all observed warming to CO2.  When temps go up more they are even more confident and determined to spread the fright, but when temps go down they switch from satellite to surface to lower tropospheric or tree rings or whatever helps the new data fit into the old, flawed theory until it is fully discredited.  Critics of this say put the data first and fix your model even if that would mean the scientifically unthinkable - lower levels of government paid research funding.

Around 'The Inconvenient Truth' time I tried to make a bet with one of my outspoken liberal friends about ocean levels.  The rising sea seemed to be the most dramatic of the Al Gore predictions:

"A 20 ft (6m) rise in sea level would create over 100 million refugees."

Apologies here but I am picturing Crafty and family out on a Pacific lifeboat with their survival kit waiting for CO2 levels on land to subside.  I tried to bet my friend $5 that the map of Florida would not be noticeably changed by the end of this century.  The Atlantic Ocean will be right about where it is now and where it was when my grandparents bought property a block from the ocean 65 years ago.  It goes up and down everyday with the tide more than it changes in a century.  He wouldn't take the bet because we couldn't figure out how to live long enough to verify Al Gore's claim.  Maybe he thinks all that sea rise could be in the last few years...

The point in this data isn't that levels are catastrophically falling - we are looking at millimeters not feet, it is just that ocean levels go in cycles we don't understand.   A small decline over 2 years and counting proves the rate of increase is neither constant nor accelerating, and not determined by one minor variable alone.

We don't need to wait until the year 2100 to know they were wrong.
5888  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / A Nobel Peace Prize for the Warning of Sea's Accelerating Rise... on: November 25, 2011, 08:53:17 PM
Sea Level Continues Its Historic Decline

Who knew?
5889  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cognitive dissonance of the left: Van Jones reappears on: November 25, 2011, 08:19:30 PM
Van Jones left the administration because of past extremist affiliations?  Or did he leave to form new ones??

Does this look like a ground level up movement to you?  Repeat after me...

I wonder what the early national socialist rallies in Germany looked like.
5890  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: November 25, 2011, 01:57:51 PM
"MSM is in full swing doing everything they can to delegitamize the Rep field."

NBC has apologized to Rep. Michele Bachmann after the house band for "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" played an inappropriate song during her appearance on the show Monday... apologized for what happened and called the incident "not only unfortunate but also unacceptable,"...the show's band played the song "Lyin' Ass Bitch" by Fishbone as Bachmann first appeared on stage...
Just a misunderstanding, I'm sure the unfortunate choice of songs is no sign of institutional bias.
5891  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: November 25, 2011, 11:58:22 AM
Erick Erickson isn't exactly a highly regarded analyst, but I heard him make that same case as a guest host on someone else's radio show recently.  The interest uber-Lib James Oliphant' has in it is to find the most defeatist right-wing view and spread it around.

Of course Cain has an issue with the women's vote while these charges fester and doubts against electability cast to everyone else.  That doesn't mean we won't learn more about the veracity of those charges before votes are cast - and as Crafty already pointed out - other considerations.

Of course Gingrich has a 3 wives with overlap problem.  Isn't that part of the problem Rudy the previous election cycle frontrunner ran into.  We are not breaking any new ground here.

"Mitt Romney is going to be the Republican nominee."  - Again back to conventional wisdom.  I have written this multiple times as well.

"And his general election campaign will be an utter disaster for conservatives as he takes the GOP down with him and burns up what it means to be a conservative in the process"

This was the point of significance that Erickson is making and it is severely flawed.  Erickson is saying that Romney is so centrist that no contrast can be made in the general election with Pres. Obama.  That is wrong on 59 points in economics.  It is wrong on the focus and direction of foreign policy.  And it is wrong on ObamaCare.  Obama will never take a step back on Obamacare and Romney will repeal it the first day after the swearing in ceremony.  Every voter will have to deal with that contrast and current polling I've seen is 47% top 41% in favor of repeal.  Romney will follow that with every Republican concession out there like verbal support for state solutions and federal laws protecting pre-existing conditions, opening markets across state lines etc. to attract moderates and centrists while the tea party types would be cast wanting to kill off the poorest among us.

Conservatives are wishing for a conglomerate candidate that doesn't exist.  Maybe a Michele Bachmann with no foot in mouth problem and Rick Perry's executive branch governing experience, a Hermann Cain who also had 8 years as Secretary of State or Chair of the Joint Chiefs and no accusations, a Rick Perry governing record in someone who could articulate a thought in front of a camera, a Newt who lived the family life of Romney or a Romney who got elected in a blue state with the domestic economic views of Ron Paul.  Folks, that person doesn't exist.  I noticed early on that, where Erickson is editor/blogger, was in the tank for Rick Perry.  I also had high hopes for Rick Perry.  Then I had medium hopes for Rick Perry, now little hope for Rick Perry.  I also held out medium hope for Tim Pawlenty.  How we all deal with our own disappointments along the way is our own problem, but to say that Mitt Romney is not position to mount a serious general election challenge and stake out ground to the right of this opponent is pure nonsense.
5892  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Nuclear War, WMD issues on: November 25, 2011, 11:04:03 AM
Conservatives here voiced quite a bit of support for John Bolton's view advising strikes against N.K. nukes as well as stopping Iran.  The N.K. threat is different  and more complicated because of having its big brother China on the doorstep, not to mention you can see the home of the Russian Pacific Fleet from North Korea's northern-most coastal border.  Who is Iran's big brother keeping them contained, the new government of Iraq??  Pakistan is its own unique case and I hope we are working through all the options of when and how to take action and contain its dangers.  I don't see how recent failures of our policies toward NK and Pak make failure in Iran more desirable.

In the history of the world in our lifetimes, Israel struck a Saddam reactor in Ozarik 1981 and a 'military site' in Syria in 2007 and the French played a lead role in deposing Kadafy.  Not much else ever happens in non-proliferation enforcement or tyrant/terrorist abatement without the U.S. taking the lead or unilateral role.  

A similar line of defeatist thinking was used in the unsuccessful argument against deposing Saddam Hussein, we shouldn't take down Saddam because we did nothing here and nothing there around the globe.  That logic escapes me.  How does our inaction or failure in N.K, Pakistan or anywhere else help with the question facing us right now, what is the right thing to do about the threat posed by Iran who according to most reports is about to become a real nuclear power right now under our watch.

"I don't think they [Iran] have killed one American on American soil."  And this: "the direct threat to America is minimal".

Inventing a category to find them innocent and why is there a qualifier on the threat to America?!  If they are our enemy by their choosing, co-conspiring in thousands of American deaths and causing a war to be years longer than it needed to be, they are a threat.  If they are developing nuclear and extending the range of delivery systems as a declared enemy of the United States, they are a threat.  If they earned the distinction of being the world's number one state sponsor of terrorism, they are a threat.  If their delivery systems could hit locations where we have security agreements, they are a threat.  These security relationships were formed precisely with this thinking in mind: we will not wait ever again for enemies to land on our shores to begin our action.  GM already wrote: "Iran has been waging a war against the US since 1979".  I would add that if they choose to be our enemy and act on it, then the feeling is necessarily mutual.  There should be a price to pay for being an active and declared enemy of the United States.  Having your nuclear proliferation facilities taken out in air strikes seems like a pretty natural consequence to supporting a war effort against the US while declaring yourselves a new nuclear power to be dealt with.  To not do so is what sends the message of weakness that makes the next war more likely and more costly.

Stopping Iran at this point IS a step forward in stopping N.K., just as vice versa would have been - using the same logic presented - why aren't we treating them the same.  Stopping both programs is a step forward in focusing attention on larger threats inside Pakistan.  To allow threats to grow and develop right while we have reason, justification and perhaps opportunity to take action is exactly what has landed us in this triple threat situation, IMHO.
5893  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Political Economics or just a media issue? on: November 23, 2011, 05:30:07 PM
LA Times: "Over the last two decades, the average income of the top 1% of Californians increased by 50%, after adjusting for inflation, while the average income of the middle fifth fell by 15%."

It's kind of sad that in Journalism and in economics that kind of deception can be passed along without consequence.  The implication is clearly made that two groups of people were studied over a two decade period when in fact no actual person group of people was studied over an extended period. Income Mobility: The majority of Californians moved freely between quintiles, there is no indication whatsoever how many of the top 1% at the start remain in the top 1%, perhaps close to none, the group that makes up the middle quintile is completely different for a host of reasons.  New Californians: For every immigrants that come in at the bottom of incomes, the middle shifts downward even if everyone in the state including that immigrant is making more than they made previously.

For all the fears about the success of 'the wealthy' starting with the title, 'California's Wealth Pyramid', isn't it strange that at no point to they measure or compare wealth.  Income studies and wealth studies are not the same.  Look at the unprecedented collapse of wealth in the last 3 years.  Wouldn't that be problem solved? None of it is shown in the data.

"Policymakers should be mindful of the growing income divide and the millions of workers and families who have fallen behind."  - Once again, for each poor person moving in to better him/herself, the income divide overall grows, and nowhere in the study does it document that anyone has fallen behind.

Before Pelosi-Obama took over congress, incomes were growing, covering most of those two decades.  People may have been falling behind though in the sense of the increasing costs of all government interfered expenses and markets, including taxes, housing, tuition, energy costs and health care.

I like the ending in particular, they are with the nonpartisan California Budget Project, lol.  Nonpartisan.  Why on earth would you openly and intentionally deceive people if you had no agenda??
5894  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: November 22, 2011, 04:44:51 PM
My feeling about Mitt is that there is a 50% chance he could be a great President.  No one has come forward offering a 100% chance.  My hope is that Mitt's flip flop period had to do with wanting to bee elected in Massachusetts.  That counts against him in terms of integrity and in terms of risk of bad policies later but at his core my hope is that he more conservative and more pro-free enterprise than he is showing.  I can't stand his rich guilt stand on marginal rates.  No way should we let progressivity get worse in the tax code get worse as Mitt would allow, and I say that looking up from the lowest bracket.

Newt to me presents risks too, perhaps greater, both in terms of jumping around on policies and that his personal story will keep some people from voting for him.  He is more controversial I think especially as you move toward the center and gives the left more to tee off on.  I liked that he was the best debater.  I like that Crafty stood up and took a stand for him.  Now I don't like as much that Newt is saying he is the best debater; that comes across better with others saying it.  Another debate tonight and he will have quite a chance to shine because he has given for more thought to all the foreign policy questions.  Besides setting a clearer direction he can use that to be far harder on Pres. Obama.   Obama has had a couple of successes.  Those don't excuse the foreign policy nightmare that marks the rest his Presidency.  VDH has covered in nicely in his 'Works and Days' column and Newt is capable of that.

If he is the nominee, I think Mitt's debate capabilities will look better against Pres. Obama than he did against the Republican challengers.  It is an easier contrast to draw and he has so carefully kept from letting himself be painted as extremist.

Newt is back on private accounts for SS.  A great idea with probably lousy timing.  Of course those private accounts will require an individual mandate...
5895  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / U.S. energy policy: A slow national suicide on: November 22, 2011, 01:23:01 PM

U.S. energy policy: A slow national suicide
With Keystone XL delay, America continues its slow economic strangulation

By Charles Campbell

November 21, 2011  Baltimore Sun

In 1969, three unrelated events occurred that have since been combined with political bungling to slowly strangle the U.S. economy. Moammar Gadhafi overthrew King Idris of Libya. He nationalized Western oil company reserves with no retribution from the U.S. Sensing our weakness, all of the other OPEC nations abrogated their concession agreements with U.S. companies. The Arab producers cut back production and embargoed the U.S. because of our support for Israel. Middle East despots have been in the driver's seat ever since, and as the Arab Spring seems increasingly likely to empower Islamists, things are unlikely to get better.

Also that year, an oil spill from a drilling platform off Santa Barbara was the catalyst for the current environmentalist efforts to prevent all exploration on the continental shelves on the East and West coasts and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. U.S. crude production went into irreversible decline.

Finally, in 1969 synthetic crude oil from the Athabasca tar sand of Alberta, Canada, began to be produced. It has been transported without incident to U.S. refiners by pipeline for 40 years. There is now an environmental movement to prevent the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline to deliver additional tar sands crude from Alberta to the U.S. to make up for declining U.S. production. Opponents of Keystone XL won a victory this month when President Barack Obama refused to sign off on the pipeline's proposed route, forcing at least a year's delay as the project is reconfigured.

    No to Keystone XL No to Keystone XL
    Proposed Canadian pipeline will increase our dependency on foreign oil
    Keystone XL pipeline, bringing oil from Canada, is a step toward the future
    Going to jail for the environment Going to jail for the environment
    Pipeline or no, oil is not the future
    The shrewd politics of Keystone delay
    Upstream Oil and Gas Activities
    Petroleum Industry
    See more topics »

These are the same environmentalists, of course, who block exploration on the continental shelves and ANWR, which adds to the U.S. and global oil shortage, driving up prices that make the Athabasca tar sands projects viable. In any event, if Keystone XL is blocked, a pipeline will be built to Canada's West Coast for Chinese deliveries. This will reduce China's need for Middle East crude and increase our requirements for supplies from people who want to destroy the U.S.
Follow @BaltSunLetters for the latest reader letters to The Sun

The administration continues to push for wind and sun projects (see the Solyndra debacle). Multiple studies show that wind power does not reduce carbon dioxide because of the inefficient cycling operations in fossil fuel plants to provide instant power into the grid when the wind stops blowing.

As for solar, to provide a measurable amount of power it would be necessary to cover a major portion of the Mojave Desert with mirrors to collect heat at the peak of the day and again would require cycling of fossil fuel plants to make up for when the sun doesn't shine.

The same radical opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline has expanded to the production of natural gas from the Marcellus shale formation, which stretches from New York through Pennsylvania and Maryland into West Virginia, with unsubstantiated claims of impending disaster for the water tables. Hydro-fracturing has been used in secondary/tertiary oil and gas recovery for 60 years in the West with no detrimental effect on the environment or water supplies, and coupled with horizontal drilling is responsible for raising crude production in the Dakotas to slow U.S. declines. Maryland has a moratorium on shale gas production.

Much-maligned Big Oil still has the only technology capable of developing additional energy supplies, shorn of government impediments. Meanwhile, anti-nuclear activists have stopped all consideration of nuclear power in the U.S. in the wake of Fukushima — which, despite being the worst nuclear meltdown in history, caused no nuclear-related deaths.

CFP of France was thrown out of the Middle East, along with the U.S. companies, in 1974. The country immediately launched a focused strategy to reduce reliance on Mideast oil. Today France has the world's most sophisticated high-speed electric rail system, produces 80 percent of its power by nuclear plants and reprocesses its spent nuclear fuel. The Nissan Renault Leaf pure electric car is now in mass production. By 2030, France will be essentially carbon dioxide free except for jet fuel and diesel fuel for heavy truck transportation.

Sun and wind will never become a significant portion of our energy mix. High-priced oil since the 1970s has created 40 years of extensive conservation; there is little more to be gained. We can either emulate the French and in parallel aggressively expand our fossil fuel resources or face a slow, brutal economic decline against rising Asian power, coupled to increasing risks from an increasingly volatile region that controls the world's oil supplies.

The garrote is an unpleasant execution by slow strangulation. It is extremely difficult to commit national suicide by turning the handle ourselves, but we are trying.
5896  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Pathological Science: Climategate Emails 2.0 on: November 22, 2011, 01:19:23 PM
Agenda science, the gift that keeps on giving:

/// The IPCC Process ///

<1939> Thorne/MetO:

Observations do not show rising temperatures throughout the tropical
troposphere unless you accept one single study and approach and discount a
wealth of others. This is just downright dangerous. We need to communicate the
uncertainty and be honest. Phil, hopefully we can find time to discuss these
further if necessary [...]

<3066> Thorne:

I also think the science is being manipulated to put a political spin on it
which for all our sakes might not be too clever in the long run.

<1611> Carter:

It seems that a few people have a very strong say, and no matter how much
talking goes on beforehand, the big decisions are made at the eleventh hour by
a select core group.

<2884> Wigley:

Mike, The Figure you sent is very deceptive [...] there have been a number of
dishonest presentations of model results by individual authors and by IPCC [...]

<4755> Overpeck:

The trick may be to decide on the main message and use that to guid[e] what’s
included and what is left out.

<3456> Overpeck:

I agree w/ Susan [Solomon] that we should try to put more in the bullet about
“Subsequent evidence” [...] Need to convince readers that there really has been
an increase in knowledge – more evidence.  What is it?

(Much more at the link)
5897  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: O'Hanlon Wolfowitz piece on: November 22, 2011, 01:01:20 PM
The piece makes some sense to me, to spend 10% of what we spend now instead of nothing.  Who knows from here what the strategy on the ground should be, but it seems to me that to leave Iraq and Afghanistan in total whether calling it success or failure will be a mistake very difficult to correct.  We didn't have that type of false confidence leaving other conflict zones of Japan, Germany or Korea and we didn't launch the bin Laden operation or drone strikes in Pakistan from Tampa.

Keeping US power in the region and strengthening our cooperation with India is the foundation of a Pakistan plan IMO.

As the 3 am question goes, what as President would you do if the call says that forces of al Qaida just took over Pakistan and took control of all their nukes.  If we have gutted our intelligence, our defense and readiness budgets, if we end our presence on their doorstep and our influence and contacts on the inside, if we have moved what remains of our personnel and equipment home, the response of the President of the US will be the same as the head of the UN, the head of the EU or the President of Haiti or Ghana - like everyone else, we would be in a position to do nothing about it.  Maybe we could call our superpower 'friends' in Russia and China.
5898  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The congnitive dissonance of the left on: November 22, 2011, 12:26:26 PM
CCP's answer make sense.  If they block your business and you report it to authorities you would expect them to be removed at some through a series of negotiations and/or increasingly stronger actions taken by LE.

GM:  "Unlike CN or CS gas, OC is actually legally classified as a food additive. It's the same compound that makes salsa or curry hot."

Like a waiter, they could just say they got their order wrong. ) 

Waterboarding is done only with a healthy, all-natural product as well.   wink

5899  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Government programs and budget process - Balanced Budget Amendment on: November 22, 2011, 12:18:35 PM
I understand the BBA voted on that received a majority but failed to get the 2/3rd threshold did not include the cap on spending, did not include the super majority requirement to raise taxes and among the opponenets was Rep. Paul Ryan.

Ryan said:  “I’m concerned that this version will lead to a much bigger government fueled by more taxes,” Ryan said in a statement following the vote. “Spending is the problem, yet this version of the BBA makes it more likely taxes will be raised, government will grow, and economic freedom will be diminished. Without a limit on government spending, I cannot support this Amendment.”

I agree with Paul Ryan.  What a strange 'solution' that we can spend all we want if it is combined with a tax increase on someone else. 
5900  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 2012 Presidential - We need a Democrat nominee too! on: November 22, 2011, 12:06:26 PM
I had some fun back when his approval rating was about 70% predicting that Barack Obama would not be the nominee of his own party.  Names like Evan Bayh and Jim Webb came up.  I would oppose these too but for the party of JFK these choices are not as anti-capitalism, anti-freedom and anti-growth as the incumbent today. 

Instead those who see his political weakness think the perfect answer to their cause is his ideological clone Hillary Clinton.   sad  That is not what I meant! 
I saw my first Obama 2012 bumper sticker this weekend in the city of Liberal Lakes.  The new sticker doesn't say Obama-Biden; no running mate is mentioned.  It didn't say Obama either - that name isn't polling well either.   It only says 2012 with the Pepsi-like logo for the Obama hope change marketing concept in the place of the zero.  Very concise, but is President Zero really the marketing image he will spend a billion dollars to reinforce?

He wishes he had results at zero to run on...
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