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5851  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants - It Ain't Your Money to Spend on: March 07, 2009, 09:53:30 PM
This belongs in music but it is political so I will enter it as a rant - a beautiful, beautiful rant.  The Obama-resistance movement now has a tune...

Hey Washington, It Ain't Your Money to Spend

If the link doesn't work try the artist's website:

  Hey Washington ...


2009, Words by Steve Jones, Music by Kathleen Stewart

Don't spend my grandson's paycheck.
He's only two years old.
With Obama in the White House,
His future's bought and sold.
Stop this immoral spending spree.
Stop assaulting our liberty.
Let me help you comprehend:
It ain't your money to spend.

Born and bred for freedom.
Got me a lot of rights.
They're all but disappearing
Before your fiscal appetites.
You're taking the fruit of my labor
To give your next-door neighbor.
I'll say it from beginning to end:
It ain't your money to spend.

It ain't your money to spend.
You're acting like a bunch of jerks.
I'm the one who earned it.
I'm the one who works.
Your income redistribution
Doesn't jibe with the Constitution.
So I got a little message to send:
It ain't your money to spend.

You started a spending orgy and then,
You made me long for Georgie again.

You gave some cash to ACORN.
Those folks are so corrupt.
All the pork and all payoffs,
It makes me want to erupt.
Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi,
The scariest folks since Bela Lugosi.
Let me help you comprehend.
It ain't your money to spend.

It ain't your money to spend.
You're acting like a bunch of jerks.
I'm the one who earned it.
I'm the one who works.
Your income redistribution
Doesn't jibe with the Constitution.
So I got a little message to send:
It ain't your money to spend.
5852  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Venezuela Pol?tica on: March 07, 2009, 09:15:02 PM
I jump in on this Spanish language discussion of oppression in Venezuela with a rough attempt at translation.  Please correct me if wrong...

Photos show celebration and demonstration by Chavez who 'won' a right of permanent reelection and is consolidating military power with new appointments to the highest positions.

Crafty thanked Denny for informing us with his first hand look from Venezuela:  'Thanks for your reports. I see that for every post that there are almost two hundred persons reading it. Impressive!'

Denny: On the contrary, I am the one who should give you the thanks in name of my compatriots by yielding us the space and the readers in this fight for liberty and decency.  There are many forums where they have prohibited me to publish news of Venezuela.  I wish that people never have to fight against [this kind of] oppression. 

There is no reason that a tyrant [should be able to take from us] our right to [freedom and pursuit of happiness].

With a grand fraternal hug I give you the thanks.  - Denny

God Bless you Denny.  Be safe and keep up the good fight.
5853  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues, NY Times didn't know illegal immigration was ... illegal on: March 05, 2009, 09:09:16 PM
Powerline does a nice job of bias and accuracy watch over a place that Crafty calls the NY Slimes. 

The Times Clears Up a Misunderstanding

The New York Times has long been an advocate for illegal immigration. Today we got some insight, perhaps, into what has motivated the Times' editors, via the paper's corrections section:

    An editorial on Feb. 22 stated incorrectly that unlawfully entering the country is not a criminal offense. It is a misdemeanor for a first-time offender.

It's quite remarkable: until today, the Times' editors believed that illegal immigration was legal!
5854  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Cognitive Dissonance, Does he do it on purpose? on: March 05, 2009, 08:45:03 PM
Is He Doing It On Purpose?

There's a school of thought that the Obama administration is deliberately damaging the economy and gutting the stock market, on the theory that doing so will make more people dependent on the government and pave the way for a far-left regime. Doug Ross makes the argument:

Consider that, in the teeth of a devastating recession, Obama has:

• Raised taxes on small businesses, the engines of entrepreneurship and job growth

• Raised the capital gains tax

• Lied about "tax cuts for 95% of Americans", offering instead $13 a week, achieved not through tax cuts, but by changing the federal withholding tables!

• Destroyed charitable giving by axing the tax breaks for 26% of all giving (or $81 billion in 2006)

• Proposed a carbon cap-and-trading scheme designed to punish oil companies and further tax consumers

Why would Obama inflict these destructive policies while the economy is collapsing? Simple. Each step strengthens the role of government in people's lives.

• Squelching the stock market kills its attractiveness as a parking lot for private capital. Combined with an increase in the capital gains tax, investors will swarm to bonds -- tax-free vehicles like municipal bonds, which benefit the growth of state and local government. And unions, of course.

• Carbon cap-and-tax will raise taxes on all Americans as the cost of goods and services will increase to address a non-existent threat.

• True tax cuts would grow the economy, which is why, of course, Obama shuns them. The last major recession was Jimmy Carter's malaise. It consisted of of double-digit inflation and unemployment. It was finally licked by across-the-board tax cuts for everyone (even the despised rich), which touched off a twenty-plus year run of prosperity.

• Charities reduce the role of government assistance for those in need. That, in Obama's world, can not be tolerated. That is why charities must be choked off and allowed to die. Especially faith-based institutions.

The only plausible explanation is that Obama's destruction of the economy is intentional.

It is based on a failed ideology that has never -- and can never -- succeed.

It is, I admit, an intriguing theory, but I don't buy it. Obama can't possibly want to be a one-term failure. That's what happened to Jimmy Carter, and Obama must know that it will happen to him, too, if his policies are perceived as dragging down the economy.

More likely the explanation is that Obama is an economic illiterate, and subscribes to the idea--which I think is rather common among Democrats--that what the government does has little impact on the economy. Obama likely believes that the economy will recover on its own, and in the meantime--in Rahm Emanuel's immortal words--he shouldn't let the crisis go to waste. So he enacts every left-wing measure that he wanted to do anyway, expecting that when the economy eventually recovers he can take credit for it, even though his policies, if anything, retarded and weakened the recovery.

That's a cynical strategy, although not quite as cynical as destroying the economy on purpose; the difference is that it may well work. - John Hinderacker
5855  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants - America copying western Europe on: March 05, 2009, 12:57:12 PM
I posted recently in "Islam in Europe" that Sweden will host the Davis Cup tennis this weekend versus Israel in Sweden's third largest city Malmo and allow no spectators due to Sweden's inability to provide security.  Imagine if you will the Super Bowl, World Series or the Masters golf at Augusta played without spectators.  What a sad state of affairs that would be.

Curious, I looked a bit into the history and demographics of Malmo which is on the southern tip of Sweden, just a bridge away from Copenhagen, Denmark - home of the Islamic prophet cartoon controversy.  From Wikipedia:

"By 1985, Malmö had lost 35,000 inhabitants and was down to 229,000. However, the toughest difficulties were yet to emerge. Between 1990-95, Malmö lost about 27,000 jobs, and its economy was seriously strained.

However, thanks to several government-funded projects, Malmö started to emerge as its current modern incarnation by 1995. Malmö has the highest proportion of individuals of non-Scandinavian extraction of any Swedish city. It remains a city of sharp social divide and high unemployment."

Reviewing this Swedish 'border' experience, they built an economy on government funded projects (stimulus bill), they offer free health care to anyone, whether you work or not, whether you paid in or not, whether you are a citizen or not, and now they have a massive population of non-Swedish speaking, non-Scandinavian people with high unemployment, high crime and total lack of security - so bad that they are unable to host a tennis match.

And we want to copy them.

As we Americans head full-force toward becoming a United socialist State in the western European tradition of powerful central government with free-everything guaranteed it is interesting to note that Sweden, Canada and France have since elected right-leaning governments that are unable to put the socialist-welfare toothpaste back in the tube.   - Doug

5856  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics - The Way Forward for Democrats on: March 05, 2009, 12:14:39 PM
As Newt has pointed out, we need some common sense conservatism to emerge among Democrats and independents as well.  Looking to 2010, the entire House is up for election, but the recidivism rate is around 98-99% due to the advantages of incumbency.  The senate is even tougher to turn over because only about a third are up for election each cycle and of those, there are very few vulnerable, red-state Democrats.  Running the same calculations are those red-state Democrats who are up for reelection and wanting not to be vulnerable.  First to triangulate away from Pelosi-Obama is Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana.  Watch for North Dakota's Byron Dorgan to follow and for Harry Reid of Nevada to just continue to look confused. - Doug

Update: Russ Feingold (D-WI) also plans to vote no, not because he is centrist but because he is running for reelection in a state with mixed politics, where welfare reform began.

Deficits and Fiscal Credibility
A Democratic senator says no to a huge federal spending bill.


This week, the United States Senate will vote on a spending package to fund the federal government for the remainder of this fiscal year. The Omnibus Appropriations Act of 2009 is a sprawling, $410 billion compilation of nine spending measures that lacks the slightest hint of austerity from the federal government or the recipients of its largess.

The Senate should reject this bill. If we do not, President Barack Obama should veto it.

The omnibus increases discretionary spending by 8% over last fiscal year's levels, dwarfing the rate of inflation across a broad swath of issues including agriculture, financial services, foreign relations, energy and water programs, and legislative branch operations. Such increases might be appropriate for a nation flush with cash or unconcerned with fiscal prudence, but America is neither.

Drafted last year, the bill did not pass due to Congress's long-standing budgetary dysfunction and the frustrating delays it yields in our appropriations work. Since then, economic and fiscal circumstances have changed dramatically, which is why the Senate should go back to the drawing board. The economic downturn requires new policies, not more of the same.

Our nation's current fiscal imbalance is unprecedented, unsustainable and, if unaddressed, a major threat to our currency and our economic vitality. The national debt now exceeds $10 trillion. This is almost double what it was just eight years ago, and the debt is growing at a rate of about $1 million a minute.

Washington borrows from foreign creditors to fund its profligacy. The amount of U.S. debt held by countries such as China and Japan is at a historic high, with foreign investors holding half of America's publicly held debt. This dependence raises the specter that other nations will be able to influence our policies in ways antithetical to American interests. The more of our debt that foreign governments control, the more leverage they have on issues like trade, currency and national security. Massive debts owed to foreign creditors weaken our global influence, and threaten high inflation and steep tax increases for our children and grandchildren.

The solution going forward is to stop wasteful spending before it starts. Families and businesses are tightening their belts to make ends meet -- and Washington should too.

The omnibus debate is not merely a battle over last year's unfinished business, but the first indication of how we will shape our fiscal future. Spending should be held in check before taxes are raised, even on the wealthy. Most people are willing to do their duty by paying taxes, but they want to know that their money is going toward important priorities and won't be wasted.

Last week I was pleased to attend the president's White House Fiscal Responsibility Summit. It's about time we had a leader committed to addressing the deficit, and Mr. Obama deserves great credit for doing so. But what ultimately matters are not meetings or words, but actions. Those who vote for the omnibus this week -- after standing with the president and pledging to slice our deficit in half last week -- jeopardize their credibility.

As Indiana's governor, I balanced eight budgets, never raised taxes, and left the largest surplus in state history. It wasn't always easy. Cuts had to be made and some initiatives deferred. Occasionally I had to say "no."

But the bloated omnibus requires sacrifice from no one, least of all the government. It only exacerbates the problem and hastens the day of reckoning. Voters rightly demanded change in November's election, but this approach to spending represents business as usual in Washington, not the voters' mandate.

Now is the time to win back the confidence and trust of the American people. Congress should vote "no" on this omnibus and show working families across the country that we are as committed to living within our means as they are.

Mr. Bayh, a Democratic senator from Indiana, served as governor of Indiana from 1989 to 1997.
5857  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tax Policy - Consumption based tax, no income tax on: March 05, 2009, 10:13:51 AM
Coming back to Freki's points and enthusiasm toward the Fair Tax... I will answer and clarify some key points but I think we both made strong points already and neither was persuasive to the other.

Amending the constitution and REPEALING the authority for a federal income tax:  "Granted this is a real problem and the main obstacle to the fair tax, but you can not win a fight by standing idle."  - In rough terms, it would require around 75% popularity where we can't even win 50% approval to stop the current expansion of government and taxation complexity.  Ronald Reagan only won his first time with 51%.  With current demographics they say that total would only make 46%... 

Inclusive v. exclusive:  " is just in how you chose to do the math."  Yes, but the burden is on the proponents to blow the opponents argument out of the water.  When you calculate as an add-on sales tax, it is a 30% tax, which becomes a 37% sales tax in my state and I think as high as 39.5% in the highest sales tax locations.

"It is my understanding that even the government would pay the fair tax.  It was stated in the fair tax book and on their web page."  - But of course the government can't pay, we do.  The public sector, including counties, schools, roads, military and on and on comprises close to 40% of the economy, but let's say 30% of purchases.  While you strive to be 'revenue-neutral', it is implied that we will fund the same sized government.  Therefore, to be 'spending neutral' we need to raise and spend enough  additional to cover government's share of the tax.  By my math, the 30% sales tax becomes 40% which becomes 47% with state tax here and over 49% in the highest tax areas.

State Income Taxes, I wrote: "Unless you live in South Dakota or another location without a state income tax you will still need to file a complete income tax return including all of the schedules with the government every year. (Who really thinks the states will soon quit taxing income.)  Freki replied:  "These states with state income taxes I believe will fall into line once the people see how easy it is to do their taxes.  They will demand their states change.  The power of goverment lies with the people.  If this is no longer the case then our civilization is on the downward slope.  I still have hope we can fix it."

I chose South Dakota as the example because it is the nearest state to me (in MN) that has no income tax and because it sounds so remote.  In fact, seven states have no state income tax: Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington and Wyoming.   We come at this from different perspectives because I am in an oppressive, high tax state and I think you are in one with no state income tax.  I envy that, but keep in mind that most of the other 43 states are totally and completely addicted to the complicated and progressive taxation of income.  Imagine California today canceling it's income tax.  Is that realistic?

Freki wrote:  "What system do you prefer?  Where is your support going and why"

This is a great question which slowed down my response to think about this.

I think we should evaluate tax choices on many different levels, efficiency first - that is to raise the money while doing the least harm to the incentives that make the economy work.  Morality - I think there is a case to be made for right and wrong in the way that taxes are applied and debated, and of course trying to be politically realistic. 

If we were starting from scratch and creating a LOW tax, simple system to finance the basics of constitutional government, I think I would be with you and favor a small tax rate against consumption instead of income.  The founders had a tariff on imports which I would oppose,  but would accept an across the board tax applied to everything evenly at a very low rate.  In hindsight, it would have been far easier to defeat the income tax amendendment then than to repeal it now.

From where we are today, I think the outrage, the battle and the uprising has to be first aimed at spending.  We must tax enough to pay our bills, but our bills are out of control.  I just can't get excited enough to work decades and dedicate a part of my life to such a large cause as defeating almost everyone in the House and Senate to move this forward and take this movement across the land to pass it in 3/4th of the legislatures if the reward at the end is to have a revenue-neutral change in tax systems that funds all of the crazy programs, cradle to grave, that we currently demand.

I would like to see the current income tax simplified and applied more widely at much lower rates.  I actually think all income should be taxed at exactly the same rate no matter who earns it or how.  As a political matter I know that isn't going too happen, but we need everyone to have 'skin in the game'.  I would settle for a mildly progressive system with continuously variable rates that start with a very low rate on your first dollar of income and cap at something lower than what we have today, perhaps 24% with VERY FEW or no deductions.   If we could apply a tax rate more evenly across the electorate, then maybe we could lessen the demand for wasteful programs and spending.
5858  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: March 05, 2009, 09:04:11 AM
"...[Obama's] speech was formal, so that is the reason the Marines seem so stiff."

Yes, but the leaders and handlers in the front applaud and try to get some excitement going while the room of Marines remain stiff and silent.
5859  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tax Policy on: March 04, 2009, 02:53:17 PM
Seems diversionary to me to refer to (false IMO) numbers about an effective or average tax rate when it is the marginal tax rate that sets the disincentive to invest, expand, hire or build further.

Please document one major oil company that posted a record profit while paying next to nothing in taxes.
5860  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Energy Politics & Science on: March 02, 2009, 08:07:25 PM
It crosses my mind as I fill up at 1.80 per gallon that no one (not just here) points out the role that unaffordable energy played in collapsing the global economy.  I remember that gas used to be the example of inelastic demand.  As a country, we refused to drill, build or refine more product, but as consumers, our usage is a little bit inelastic in the short run and within certain ranges.  For example, when gas went from 50 cents to 60 cents or from 1.19 to 1.29 per gallon, people still lived the same distance from work, from church, from Grandma's house, from the store etc. so we bought the same amount of gas.  When we replaced our vehicle we still needed the same number of seats and hauled the same cargo. 

When gas prices double and triple, we started combining some trips and thinking about sharing rides with family, friends and co-workers.  At $4 per gallon and $80 per tank or at some higher number, we gradually change our usage but we keep buying the product until bankruptcy because we still need to get places to live our lives.  As consumers, gas was still a relatively small piece of the family budget. 

But as oil hit $120-$150 per barrel, there were places around the globe less prosperous than the US that cried uncle first.  All the data seems to indicate that the current downturn hit the rest of the world first and hardest.  Factories shut down and workers were laid off.  That leaves me to believe that energy prices around the world, not just Fannie, Freddie and other US shenanigans, played a major role in the global meltdown.

Today we don't talk about energy shortage because gas prices are artificially low.  But they are low because of financial ruin.  If/when the economy rebounds around the world, we still have the same energy shortage or worse that we had.

Instead of addressing the energy shortage, the far-left machine is hellbent on crippling supplies for the future.  Somewhere in that debacle is an opportunity for an out of power party to gain traction and bring forward a positive agenda.
5861  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Environmental issues - Human caused warming .00003 degrees C per decade? on: March 02, 2009, 04:22:22 PM
Guinness,  Thanks for your attention to this topic. 

"Natural causes of "greenhouse gas" emissions dwarf manmade, but that often escapes the notice of the environmental apocalypse mongers."

Toward the end of page one of this thread (Feb. 07) I posted some crude math that I entitled 'global warming math', (no replies).  The alarmists it seems will always tell us that man's role in warming is large, significant, even fatal, but they never tell us just how much, so I did my own math.  I'm interested in your view and others.  How much warming was caused my man?
" I give it my first shot. I recognize that all components of my math are inexact (wrong) and controversial, but they are based on the best estimates I have found, and I already disclosed my bias above.  Please re-do the math with the data you trust better and post your answer to the question - at what rate is mankind warming the planet?

Estimate of total warming over the last 50 years:  0.5 degrees Celsius  (Doesn't count recent cooling back to starting point)

Proportion of atmosphere CO2 attributable to humans:  3% (0.03)

Proportion of greenhouse effect attributable to CO2: less than 2% (0.02)

Negative feedback factor estimate: 50% (0.5)

Conversion factor of 50 year warming to per decade warming: 1/5 (0.2)

Total warming attributable to humans: 0.5 x 0.03 x 0.02 x 0.5 x 0.2 =0.00003 degrees C per decade.

This is not in contradiction to the wording of scientists that it is very likely, with 90% certainty, that human activity is contributing to global warming."

The reason I'm not alarmed is not just because the number is infinitessimally small, but also because the system has automatic corrective forces and because I believe the period of time that man will depend heavily on fossil fuels is a blip in time in terms of the history and life of the planet.  I expect we burn gasoline for maybe 50-70 more years maximum out of more than 4.5 billion years.

5862  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Way Forward for Reps/Conservatives/the American Creed on: March 02, 2009, 12:34:11 PM
Interesting piece on Newt.  Of course the person who can electrify the room at CPAC is not likely same one who can connect with the other demographics that need to stop seeing a massive government in control of everything as the American dream.  Far more urgent than the Presidential election of 2012 is the congressional election cycle of 2010.  For certain, the Republicans / conservatives need to nationalize these contests the way Newt did in 1994.  Even then, very few Democratic Senate seats are vulnerable (maybe Harry Reid in Nevada?) while several Republican ones are.

5863  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tax Policy, Fair Tax on: March 02, 2009, 12:01:33 PM
Freki, I very much like the way you are thinking in terms of simplifying and changing the current system and abolishing the IRS, but I oppose this proposal.  I wrote an opinion in 2007 explaining why I think it is unworkable.  I will summarize here, this time with fair tax in the title so it can be found again. I look forward to your comments and others.  I think it is extremely important that like-minded people debate the policies now and get on the same page before the next election cycle or face yet another trouncing.

My top ten reasons that the 'FairTax' is a non-starter.  IMHO you can stop reading after the first sentence of point 1) below which constitutes a total and complete show-stopper.

1) Changing over to the 'FairTax' requires the repeal of the 16th amendment. You will not see 2/3rds of Nancy Pelosi's House, 2/3rds of Harry Reid's Senate and 3/4ths of the legislatures, including states like Senator Amy Klobuchar's Minnesota and Senator Hillary clinton's New York, voting to 'permanently' cancel the authority of the federal government to tax income at all while their careers are fully focused on "raising taxes on the wealthiest among us" to pay for health care and more government of all kinds.

2)  A 23% "inclusive" tax is a 30% sales tax.  When you buy a $1 item you pay $1.30.  The inclusive version is fine for comparing with income tax rates but this is a sales tax and you add 30% (best case) to the price.

3) Unless you live in South Dakota or another location without a state income tax you will still need to file a complete income tax return including all of the schedules with the government every year.  (Who really thinks the states will soon quit taxing income.)

4) Somewhere approaching 40% of the economy are the government purchases.  You can make them FairTax-exempt and then adjust the 30% tax WAY upward for the rest of us.  If we make them not-exempt, then adjust our public spending 'needs' up by 30% to cover the tax.

5)  The so-called "prebates" that remove the harshness of sales tax regressivity also remove the simplicity which was the primary strength, purpose and justification for the 'Fair Tax'.

6)  New items are taxed and used items are not taxed again because they already were, yet 'used' homes will be taxed!  Again, there goes the simplicity and the lobbying as it means the rules are negotiable.

7)  Fairness? For whom? Those who worked hard, paid taxes and saved for the future and now want to enjoy it will be openly double taxed.  So much for fairness.  Again, if we adjust for fairness, out goes the simplicity.

8.) What kind of real and restructuring tax reform is revenue neutral?  Those who want reform generally want lower tax burdens.  Those who preach the populist 'tax the rich' message of today oppose efforts to lower or remove the burdensome taxes on production.

9)  The false promise (IMO) of ending taxation on income has split and damaged the already feeble movement to truly reform our massive, incomprehensible tax system.  Case in point, look at the GOP contest in Iowa (2008) that will spread from there.  The already thin minority of Iowans who are inclined to be a) caucus-goers, b) fiscal conservatives and c) have a tax reform orientation are now split candidates with income tax reform proposals and one who just recently co-opted the 'FairTax ' banner.  IMO that means certain defeat for the larger cause of simplifying and lessening the burden.

10)  I take issue with the nomenclatures and slogans of "FairTax"  and "revenue neutral".  They remind me of telling us that taxes are mere "contributions".  Changing to consumption-based taxation is not fairer, it is just different.  It is not revenue-neutral to the individual taxpayers.  It would shift burdens around and half the people would certainly cry out 'unfair!'.

Bonus, 11)  A national 30% sales tax would compete and worden the state and local sales taxes that are as high as 7% and higher.  States and localities would then shift taxation heavier toward the income side, potentially removing most or all gains after adding an enormous new layer of taxation.  Imagine your local public schools looking at all that new revenue potential.  Nothing in the federal constitution or future amendments removes the ability of the state, county, local, school, or waste, stadium or transit commissions to go after any revenues that the feds leave on the table.

5864  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: February 27, 2009, 01:43:10 PM
[the Obama plan] "will no doubt result in less benefits, more costs to patients, and much more controlled care."

Costs paid directly by the consumer and prices yielded directly to the producer comprise the mechanism that allocates resources the most efficiently.  But the more crucial the market, the more we try to use inferior mechanisms to allocate the resources.  In the 1990's the WSJ published an unbelievably complicated flow diagram of how healthcare decisions would be made, almost cartoon-like, taken from the literal text of the Hillary-care proposal.  Congressional staffers and mid-level bureaucrats will be making very important decisions for people they never met.
Scott G wrote this week:  "we could probably solve 80-90% of the healthcare problem by simply changing the tax code so that anyone, not just employers, could deduct the cost of healthcare insurance. This would reintroduce basic market dynamics to the healthcare market, and that is the only thing that can make healthcare cost-effective and widely available."
5865  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: February 27, 2009, 01:07:35 PM
"Why are they blasting Hillary? The anger should be directed at the source - BO."  - More convenient and less controversial to attack HRC.  They want to influence the Pres. not damage or destroy him, or even being seen undermining him.

"Jews and Blacks are not as aligned..."  - It's a strange coalition that makes up the Democrat power base.  Blacks and Jews are aligned by a common political enemy - Republicans.  Far left extremists are the most anti-Israel of any voters in the country, yet share a party with most Jewish voters.  Non-Jewish far-righters are the strongest defenders of Israel in this country, for not for religious reasons.  Meanwhile Blacks love school vouchers and school choice, directly at odds with another huge money and power base of the party - the education unions.  But no matter how much they all hate or disagree with each other, they will not jump parties. 

Correct me if I'm wrong, but liberal American Jews would rather stand quiet while Israel is destroyed before they would ever support a moose hunting, peace through strength, conservative for Commander in Chief, just as Catholics pull the lever for for abortionist supporting candidates at the same rate as the rest of the country because of other liberal priorities. 
5866  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Europe - Davis Cup without Spectators on: February 24, 2009, 02:45:06 PM
I had the opportunity to see a Davis Cup semifinal years ago featuring USA v. Sweden in Minneapolis.  There were no riots in the streets or car burnings.  This story in Malmo is amazing, they are host to Israel v. Sweden and the show just won't go on.  I would be very interested in hearing from people who have witnessed the unrest in places like France and Sweden.
 Anyone for tennis in Malmo?
February 24, 2009

The AP reports that spectators will be barred from the Sweden-Israel Davis Cup match next month in Malmo. There appears to be a vague concern about controlling Swedish youth in Malmo:

    The Davis Cup matches between Sweden and Israel will be played without spectators in Malmo next month. Attempts to move the venue to Stockholm fell through.

    Officials have cited security concerns for the World Group series, which will be played March 6-8. Several anti-Israeli demonstrations have been planned in Malmo.

    Stockholm had offered to host the matches, saying it was better prepared to guarantee security arrangements. But that possibility ended when Stockholm officials said they couldn't get organized in time for Sunday's arrival of the Israeli team.

What's the problem in Malmo? Interested readers are left to fill in the blanks for themselves.   
5867  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics, re Ron Paul opposition to Federal Reserve on: February 24, 2009, 09:54:03 AM
I don't like to see misguided policies confused with criminality.  Of course there should be oversight and any criminals jailed but I disagree with the idea that we would be better off if the politicians had even more direct control over the supply of money.  I also think it is unrealistic to think that printed dollars will ever again have a direct redemption in gold.  Most money and transaction value never sees a printed dollar.

The Fed is about as private as the Supreme Court.  The President appoints the Directors, the senate confirms, and the profits all revert to the U.S.Treasury. 
5868  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: February 24, 2009, 09:27:25 AM
"I disagree with "stimulus" in general." - Crafty

This wisdom from Scott G's site sums up the rationale opposing govt stimulus superbly:

“The usual effect of attempts of government to encourage consumption, is merely to prevent savings; that is, to promote unproductive consumption at the expense of reproductive, and to diminish the national wealth by the very means which were intended to increase it.” - J.S. Mill

"Want to turn things around in a flash?  Abolish the capital gains tax" - CD

Yes, but zero chance with the social justice crowd in power. But we should stop taxing the inflation component of the gains and, at the minimum, lock in current rates for today's investors to rely on.  Even then you can't undo the panic that was caused by the transfer of power starting in Nov 2006 that promised to punish investors who don't rush to dispose of their assets.

"Put the auto companies through Chapter 7... Let bankrupt banks go bankrupt."

I would add, let foreclosed homes be foreclosed.  How can resources flow to their most valuable and productive use when we constantly put up roadblocks to block the flow.

"Cut the corporate tax rate down to the level of other major economies (from 34% to low 20s) , or LESS!"

Amazing how the same politicians that are furious about corporations moving operations elsewhere keep coming up with proposals and policies to punish them if they stay here. 
5869  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants - Housing prices on: February 20, 2009, 03:13:58 PM
What is the 'right' price level for housing?

It was propped up artificially by government policies.  The unrealistically high prices were unsustainable and led to the eventual and unavoidable collapse in home prices along with the end of residential construction, the layoffs of the workers, the rise of unemployment, the collapse of the securities markets, the fall of the banks and the economic depression world-wide - to put it lightly.

The Obama-Pelosi response:  We need to artificially re-prop up home prices.

Median price home in America is/was around 200k.  Should it be higher?  Should it be lower?  Which branch and departments of government should set housing price levels?  Maybe we could call Nixon's Price-Wage board back in...

Speaking of generational theft, who does this help?  I own homes but it doesn't help me either way.  My primary residence isn't for sale, so the eight-fold increase I've earned on paper just leads to eight-plus-fold increases in property taxes.  My rental properties can't be cashed out because of impending capital gains increases at the federal level and confiscatory taxes on the inflationary gains at the state level as well.  I can't even move out of state to avoid capturing that income in this state.

Do artificially high home prices help the young people who hope to branch off on their own and buy and live in at least as nice a place as they grew up in?  - NO!

Sorry I'm having so much trouble adapting to our new fascist-socialist system and they haven't even finished working on healthcare.  Soon you will have your heart stints specified by the people who picked our bridge gusset plates.  Good luck.
5870  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Way Forward for Reps/Conservatives on: February 19, 2009, 09:40:34 AM
CCP,  Thanks as always for the thoughtful reply.  I appreciate Colin Powell for all the things he did for this country - past tense.  For my money, he is worthless now to the party.  'We' nominated the least conservative, most centrist candidate for the purposes of winning in a Republican-unfriendly environment - and he ran against the Senate's most liberal and least experienced member.  Gen. Powell couldn't contain himself with the excitement of voting for a half-black man and the media attention of finally distancing himself with the administration he once served proudly.

For sake of argument, let's just stipulate that Rush is another negative that R's have to deal with while 'reaching out' to minorities, young people or other potential new supporters.

Obama gave away to me in his pork, massive government-enlargement bill signing ceremony the key to the message for Republicans moving forward:

"We have begun the essential work of keeping the American dream alive in our time."

The party and the candidate of the opposition better learn to articulate a different view of the American dream.  $5 billion to ACORN, picking and choosing which homeowners to help, federal takeovers of banking, housing, healthcare, transportation, education... Is socialism unevenly applied by lobyists and staffers who write bills that representatives can't read the American dream.  I thought that term was coined to describe something like the viewpoints you read here: rugged individualism, self-discipline, work hard, retain a right to self-defense, look back regularly at statements about individual liberties in the actual words of the founding fathers, the right to personal freedoms and self-determination and maybe even the right to choose which charities you support with your excess income instead of having it rammed down your throat by Washington.

We need someone to paint that picture.  Reagan was 1980s and our next leader runs in 2012 so he is no longer relevant, and we can pick at his errors or inconsistencies, but what he did overall was project the bigger picture of the American dream for all, over the hodgepiodge of federal programs for the unlucky who qualify.
5871  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: February 17, 2009, 03:17:14 PM
Just pointing out the most obvious in media bias and failings,  I was struck during the 'stimulus' press conference last week by the fact that no one asked the President where the money was coming from.  McCain has called it generational theft.  If this were a business proposal from a company president, the board of directors' first question would be where is the money going to come from.  Same if it was a proposal for a case study project at any reputable school of government.  The professor's first question would be, where is the money you propose to spend going to come from?  But no curiosity whatsoever from the White House puppet press corps.  That is the sad state of the fourth estate.

Any chance that wouldn't be Helen Thomas' first question if this were 'W' or even McCain?
5872  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Way Forward for Reps/Conservatives on: February 17, 2009, 03:01:45 PM
"Colin Powell is right.  If we don't change our message we are destined to continue losing market share."

    - I am curious what you think would be a good summary of Colin Powell's positions on the issues of the day.  I don't know what they are and I don't think Republicans will ever win by running with Clinton or Obama style ambiguity.  I also think he can get away with flip-flopping (supporting Bush, then supporting Obama) only because he is a war hero and a NON-candidate.

"Limbaugh IS wrong." 

   - Wrong on style to run for office, but like Colin Powell, Rush will not be the candidate.  He is intentionally too rough on people who hold different views (as if Obama is tolerant of other views, lol).  So aside from style or temperament, what positions do you think Rush holds on the issues of the day that are too conservative?
5873  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security on: February 13, 2009, 09:39:23 AM
Speaking of agencies not speaking to each other, we have the INS (immigration enforcement) which I think has changed names and changed departments (are they still in business?) and we have the Census Bureau which periodically tracks every little private detail about every living person hidden anywhere in the country, for political purposes.  One reason Judd Gregg stepped down from becoming Commerce Secretary was because the Glibness Group wants control of the Census moved from Commerce to the White House.  The reason the WHite House wants greater control is to make a more aggressive count of the 'new people' in the country.

It ocurrs to me that while we are spending federal dollars and sending federal agents to comb all neighborhoods, finding out every private detail about their life for political purposes... maybe we could also use that opportunity to ask them for documentation for citizen or visitor status.  Just a thought.
5874  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues - Stephanopolous on: February 04, 2009, 10:37:39 PM
My recollection is that he was a young ambitious staff worker working the strategy and rapid response war room with James Carville.  They had to answer a number of things that came up other than policy, "I didn't inhale", Gennifer Flowers, letter to draft board, etc. but they just keep saying Carville's line: "it's the economy, stupid."

Tim Russert worked for Mario Cuomo.  As a reporter and analyst it would be normal that the analysts and anchors stay in touch as best they can with both sides getting the latest word before they go on the air.  But this story says Stephanopolous was too close to one side - a major media outlet perhaps favoring Barack Obama and hope and change over those ugly Republicans.  Please say it isn't so. sad
5875  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Libertarian Issues - THC on: February 04, 2009, 10:26:28 PM
GM is right that it is fat soluble, therefore lingers in your system.  People say it takes 30 days abstention to pass a zero tolerance test, but tests don't have a zero threshold.  The biggest other problem is that there is no portion control or active ingredients strength labeling, like an ibuprofen measuring 200 mg. 

Granted it takes away from the attention span and short term memory.  Let's say usage in moderation takes 10 points off your intelligence during the effects.  That would explain Crafty's friend still able to tackle complex legal issues while a person with 85 cents on the dollar intelligence-wise is lowered to near retarded levels.

I would not accept Crafty's old acquaintance representing me high in front of the Supreme Court, but I have no objection to an average Joe enjoying a few breaths while enjoying a Friday evening sunset on his private deck in the mountains.

Pot harms plenty of people.  In most cases I think they over-use, cause other problems in their life and then eventually quit.  People with mental health issues also tend to self-medicate and cause themselves deeper problems, and alcohol pot are the most accessible crutches.

The pilot who landed the jet in the Hudson could do a normal day's work flying on auto pilot and calling the tower a couple of times with a small residue of THC in his blood.  But his job is not to fly on auto-pilot on a calm, clear day, it is to take charge of the safety of hundreds in every possible unforeseen circumstance.  I want my pilot, my surgeon and my Fannie Mae oversight chairman to be drug-free.
5876  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants on: February 04, 2009, 03:19:11 PM
"The next time posters here get annoyed when I mention the system is rigged in favor of those with money and there does need to be better oversight and a leveler playing field you may want to read this."

 - FWIW, I don't know any conservative who opposes having the federal government govern.  We pay for an SEC, anti-trust enforcement, an FCC, an FTC, an EPA, an ATF, an FBI, an IRS and the worthless agencies that 'watched over' the corrupt, government-sponsored, mortgage giants.  We deserved oversight, bought and paid for.  Instead we passed laws telling them to make MORE bad loans and to package, hide and disguise them. 

90% of the budget is transfer payments.  Opposing some of that does not mean  looking away from anti-competitive or fraudulent practices in the marketplace.

I would add that we lack a watchdog media for oversight in business (Enron? Music Industry?) and to expose failure in government programs.  Why didn't one investigative reporter at any mainstream outlet smell a rat with Madoff or Enron or Freddie Mac and sink their teeth in?  As long as we care more about Michael Phelps than our economic system, I guess we get what we deserve.
5877  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics - Class Warfare Agitators on: February 04, 2009, 12:37:25 AM
Finally getting to the post recently from BBG - Daniel J. Mitchell is spot-on.  He provides the data that demonstrates that the plight of the poor and the plight of the middle class and the plight of the rich are infinitely and irreversibly intertwined.  The mantra that the 'rich are getting richer' is a meaningless, selective judgment.  More accurate would be to notice that 'these are good economic times, all groups are prospering'.

Look at the chart.  Who gets hurt the most when that rich aren't getting richer?  The line consistently shows that the lower incomes earners gets hurt later, deeper and longer during downturns than the higher income earners.  Pro-growth policies help the poor the most, assuming the goal is to avoid being poor!

The criticism was whether the data was up to date.  IT WAS A HALF CENTURY STUDY.  Do we need more recent data for the Law of Gravity?

Meanwhile, the Bloomberg piece twists a good story upside down.  The rich got richer during good economic times.  Really!? Do you know anyone who thought the second million was not easier and faster than their first - especially during good economic times.  Maybe the kids finished college and they had more to invest, maybe they learned something with the earlier business or investment success.  Maybe because of past success they had more to invest. WHY IS IT BAD that they made more money?

And why is it any of our business?  Which article in the constitution says spread the wealth and limit people's upside?Huh?

Specifically, Bloomberg wrote:  "Rich got richer as their tax rates fell in Bush years, data show"

 - That is 100% media spin.  Fact is that the "America got Wealthier Because Punitive Marginal Tax Rates Were Eased - Across the Board!"  It wasn't just the rich that got richer.  Who are they trying to fool?

Next we hear about the richest Americans.  The increased income and increased revenue to the Treasury is a HUGE success story.  The revenues were beating forecasts by more than $100 Billion per year, growing at as much as 15% per year!  How do you spin that into BAD NEWS???

Bloomberg tells you the change in income for "the richest 400", but they don't tell you that the people who make up the richest 400 changes very quickly, as do the magic quintiles.  They hate telling you that it isn't the same people just a few years later.  The new rich make more money, more quickly than in the past because they inventing for, or selling into, a more prosperous world.  Why is that a bad thing?

Capital Gains reductions accounted for most of the economic surge, according to Bloomberg.  No worry:
Candidate Obama promised to restore the punitive rates.
5878  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics - Channel Harding not FDR on: February 03, 2009, 05:55:16 PM
Obama Should Channel Harding, Not FDR
By Matt Kibbe

In the first half of last century two presidents inherited recessionary economies from their predecessors. Both campaigned on smaller government, and both blamed the profligate ways of the previous president for their economic problems. One ended the recession in less than three years; the other lengthened it by seven. One responded with laissez-faire capitalism; the other with unprecedented government expansion. Scholars rank one among the worst presidents ever; the other they rank as one of the best. These two men are Warren Harding and Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Warren Harding was elected president in 1920 at the end of World War I, directly following the popular Woodrow Wilson. Harding inherited an economy transitioning away from wartime production as well as decreasing international demand for many American goods that had driven economic growth during the war. American factories were retooling and soldiers were coming home looking for work. The nation's output, by some measures, fell as much as 24 percent and unemployment more than doubled between 1920 and 1921. Between 1919 and 1921, farm income had dropped by 40 percent. The country was falling deep into recession.

Instead of bailing out failing businesses, expanding government, and redistributing taxpayer money with a "stimulus" plan, Harding responded by cutting spending and removing burdensome regulations and taxes. During his campaign, he argued, "We need vastly more freedom than we do regulation." In stark contrast with the Bush-Obama response of ever-more government spending and debt, Harding had federal spending cut in half between 1920 and 1922 and ultimately ran a surplus.

As a result, the recession that started in 1920 ended before 1923. Lower taxes and reduced regulation helped America's economy quickly adjust after the war as entrepreneurs and capital were freed to create jobs and push the economy to recover. Harding's free market policies lead to the Roaring Twenties, known for technological advances, women's rights, the explosion of the middle class, and some of the most rapid economic growth in American history. Still, he is ranked as one of the worst presidents by many in academia's ivory tower.

Franklin D. Roosevelt became president in 1933, following Herbert Hoover. Hoover raised taxes, increased government spending, regulated industry, and increased tariffs as the country went into recession. Despite this long list of big government, anti-market policies, Hoover is often mistakenly thought of as a laissez-faire capitalist. Government spending skyrocketed during Hoover's term in office from just 11 percent of GDP in 1928 to over 20 percent before he was done. FDR simply followed in Hoover's anti-market pro-spending footsteps and maintained the size of government around 19 percent of GDP until World War II, when it went much higher.

A recent study by UCLA economists Harold L. Cole and Lee E. Ohanian show that FDR lengthened the Great Depression by seven years with his anti-market "stimulus" policies. They write that prior to FDR's interventions, "The economy was poised for a beautiful recovery, but that recovery was stalled by these misguided policies." Somehow, though, FDR is considered one of the best presidents in the history of the country, despite the millions of people out of work and in the breadlines. Hoover is rightfully considered one of the worst, but perhaps FDR should be, too. As Rexford Guy Tugwell, one of Roosevelt's top advisors commented, "We didn't admit it at the time, but practically the whole New Deal was extrapolated from programs that Hoover started."

President Obama has taken office as our country stands at a crossroads where the laws enacted in the next few weeks could lead our country to prosperity or to ruin. Whose steps will he follow? Warren Harding got government out of the way of business in 1920 to unleash the market economy and launch the Roaring Twenties. FDR tripled taxes, regulated business, and massively expanded the role of government in our lives resulting in the longest and deepest recession this country has ever experienced.

President Obama has mentioned his fondness for FDR. Let's hope he soon comes to prefer Harding.
Matt Kibbe is president of the FreedomWorks Foundation.
5879  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: February 03, 2009, 10:29:37 AM
GM: "At least the dems that love to raise and spend taxes are very diligent about paying them, right?"

 - I wonder if anyone other than his opponents has noticed what a pattern of disaster his appointments have been.
5880  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Food Chain and Food Politics on: February 03, 2009, 10:17:49 AM
Rachel,  Thank you for sourcing your view on soil neglect. I will look into it further before commenting other than this, I find it counter-intuitive and it doesn't match my experience that others care more about preserving the quality and value of a resource than the resource owner.
5881  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: February 03, 2009, 10:13:14 AM
With reference to Rachel's bill signing photos, I see your point regarding political skill.  I also see a group of white conservative men more concerned about those most needing our protection than the most powerful liberal women in the country.

Obama's pay equity concern is empirically false.  His campaign payroll had the exact same percentage disparity as the nation.  I prefer if people clean up their own act before mandating 'change' on others.

The fitting crowd to assemble for the partial birth abortion ban photo should have been a visiting classroom of smiling black school children since abortion hits black children at THREE TIMES the rate of white children.  Yet we celebrate this Auschwitz style tradition in the cloak of "Reproductive Rights".
5882  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Bush Presidency on: January 25, 2009, 02:08:56 PM
"unchecked private sector without regulation certainly can't be trusted either...If the SEC simply enforced laws already on the books, if we simply enforced our immigration laws and include those of us who hire them for example, we would not have the mess we are in."

I agree with the second part.  The banking mess in particular was caused by feds not doing their job, or in the case of an activist Fed and a redistributive banking oversight 'industry', being assigned the wrong job. 

I think 'unchecked private sector without regulation' is an unintentional straw man argument.  I don't know anyone who favors free markets and free enterprise but opposes a proper role for government to govern.  I recently elaborated on the success for example of the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service that actually helps the industry it regulates by creating trust in the system.  Certainly the same goes for the regulators that perform safety inspections at nuclear power plants.  Nobody (that I know) wants new drugs without approvals, we just want them faster and better.  YOur examples, SEC and INS are also great examples.  I would add anti-trust regulation that is protective, not political.

As Scott Grannis points out 90% of the budget, over 2 trillion and growing, could best be described as transfer payments, not governing.  Without trying to run every private industry from housing to health to energy to transportation to education, at the FEDERAL level, maybe they could perform their proper roles of governance and protecting the people a little more effectively.
5883  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan - Taliban radio on: January 25, 2009, 01:38:09 PM
"Using a portable radio transmitter, a local Taliban leader, Shah Doran, on most nights outlines newly proscribed “un-Islamic” activities in Swat, like selling DVDs, watching cable television, singing and dancing, criticizing the Taliban, shaving beards and allowing girls to attend school. He also reveals names of people the Taliban have recently killed for violating their decrees — and those they plan to kill."

 - If true, I can't imagine anyone still thinking this movement is less dangerous than Hitler-Nazi-ism was.
5884  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants on: January 25, 2009, 01:07:07 PM
Since weather is now political, I offer my comments on Minnesota winters as a political rant.  Like a hurricane victim in a hurricane zone, I know the reaction is - why do you live there, you fools.  I'll leave the positive aspects of changing seasons to another post with hopefully deeper thoughts.  Before food stamps on a credit card and free health care, we used to say that MN winters keep the riff-raff out.  It's pretty hard to live under a bridge with the weather we've been having.

One of Paul Wellstone's failings was to continue the lobby for 'cold weather assistance' to cold places.  And that was before the global warming scare.  How can we hope to pay less for others, the risks they take and the mistakes they make - to re-build in flood zones, storm zones, wild fire zones etc. - if we keep telling people in Mississippi, Alabama and Arkansas that one of the nation's most prosperous states needs national help with our utility bills...

Last week was cold by our standards.  The week before was below zero from Monday through Friday, and yes, that includes the highs!  Last night I overheard a weather head speaking of a gradual warm up starting with a wake up temp of 9 below tomorrow.  We had a cold December also.  One point is that any Minnesotan who anecdotally says it isn't as cold these days as it used to be is probably wintering in Arizona.

Yesterday (Saturday) at 8am my daughter and I drove across the Twin Cities to her ski race along the Wisconsin border which was again plagued with weather advisories.  As we drove along the cities' southern freeway, both of us suddenly became aware of an amazingly brilliant rainbow we were driving toward.  I took off my sunglasses to see if that was part of the illusion but it was only more beautiful and brilliant without them.  The strangest part was that the sky was 100% blue - no clouds, no rain (hopefully that is obvious) and no snow.  All I can gather was that the moisture content of the air was so cold that it was no longer gaseous but containing microscopic crystals of ice instead, playing reflective games with the flow of sunshine to the earth.  I don't recall that happening so dramatically before.

Twice during the coldest week I lost control of my car momentarily on scraped roads with no recent precipitation of any kind, at 30 mph in a 40 zone  one evening and going 20 mph in a 30 zone the following morning.  Mind you, I am an experienced and expert winter driver, just ask me, lol.  The causes I think were: a) car exhaust contains moisture which instantly freezes to the road at these temps, b) road salt doesn't melt ice below -20 F and sand doesn't stick, and c) letting off the gas  with a front wheel drive car is a form of braking with the front tires, like downshifting.  The only way to re-gain control was to lightly re-touch the accelerator to again pull forward before it went into a spin.  In my case both times I was lucky there was no one in front of me!  I was amazed during the coldest week how many cars I saw off the road that appeared to be 'victims' of one car accidents, also with how many cars looked like they pulled over without a mishap along the sides of the freeways, either spooked by the conditions or maybe with a mechanical problem on cars that looked very new.  Belts, hoses and lubricants don't like the extremes any more than mammals do.

One major school district shut down because their politically correct biodiesel buses had their fuel supplies turn to jello which doesn't flow through the fuel lines and into injectors at these temps.  Live and learn.

On the coldest of all the cold mornings, I went out to start a car.  Like predicting who will win a fight by just looking at them, it is not always obvious which car will start at the coldest temp.  In my case it was a tiny Honda that out matched the stronger minivan and even the car that had been resting in the cold garage.  For the first few miles I noticed a new problem - the turn signals didn't work.  Later they did, so I realized it had something to do with extreme cold on the electrical contacts. Presumably moisture from ambient air was on the contacts, was unmelted by the low amperage attempting to flow across and failing to make a connection.  I wonder if Pelosi and the gang figured that in as they social engineer us our next millivolt powered transportation system with hampster-wheel generators. Can you imagine what size battery a Chevy volt will need to heat the passenger compartment of a comfortable sized car at 30 below zero and defrost the windshield if we remove the gas power from the heat system?

My political point is that will you of all please make sure that politicians from San Francisco or Hawaii or anywhere else do not decide which ride is right for you, for your family, for your climate, for your profession, for your activities, ski races, hockey games, camping trips etc. etc. etc.  There are considerations and decisions that people make in their lives about what is best for them regarding where they live, what they drive and everything else, that are not best handled at your state capital, in Washington DC or at some global conference of corrupt kleptocrats.  Even if you forget some of the reasons why these people don't know what is best for you, please cling to what individual liberties and choices you have left with every vote you make.   - Doug
5885  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: January 25, 2009, 11:48:36 AM
Obama last week: "I won" [we'll do it my way!]   Bush in 2004: "Let me put it to you this way: I earned capital in the campaign, political capital, ... I've earned capital in this election -- and I'm going to spend it ..."
CCP regarding Rush, Hannity, Coulter: "[I am] a moderate Republican...I don't necessarily disagree with their philosophy but more their strategy."  - I agree, and I'm not a moderate Republican.  But these people are not R. strategists.  They are entertainers and pundits.  They are selling viewership and listenership, not hope, change or electoral success.
The argument that the rich keep getting richer I think is moot after this present downturn.  The rich get richer in an up economy because they are invested.  The rich get poorer in a collapse because they are invested.  Look at the famous quote from JFK about rising tides lift all boats.  For the rich it lifts a bigger boat.  We simply don't have a way to lift all but the rich though we keep trying to concoct schemes.
I was moved by a post about 'Soviet Britain' where in some areas the government is 70% of the economy.  The move towards socialism by both parties, but in this case, Obama-Pelosi, is not rhetoric or scaremongering.  It is the elephant in the room.
"...conservative George Will to me look like fools to have met with BO.  He is used them hook line and sinker.  I thought they were smarter than that.  I guess they fall for fanfare and celebritism like most everyone else."   - No, they aren't smarter than that and they aren't smarter than Obama.  And me neither.  My first reaction was that he is reaching out... A day later I think I read it more accurately, that he had a pro-life evangelist at a ceremony, that he broke bread with a few conservatives, etc. These are attempts to inoculate himself against the inevitable repeat of affiliations and liaisons with people like Jememiah Wright, Ahkmad 'dinejad etc.
While I rant about 'His Glibness', I am constantly reminded that Sarah Palin didn't answer a question about what she reads, but Barack Obama to my knowledge has never been asked what book he has EVER read about the free-enterprise system that is not anti-free-enterprise.
5886  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: January 23, 2009, 12:45:11 PM
"coherent strategy in Afg-Pak...fellow armchair generals, what should President Obama, what should America do?"

No small question - you have 32 million people in Afghan and 172 million in Pakistan, the 6th largest country in the world, almost all with nothing going on from a civilized-world point of view.

Afghan:  I favor the Guinness "low intensity conflict", conducted by NATO or whoever defines the allies of the fight, with American special forces overlaying the conflict to take out major security threats.  The circumstances are different from the insurgency of Iraq but many of the lessons learned should apply.  One difference is that I think there is no hurry to succeed or to get out.  Afghan is not a country but a territory waiting for the next bad actors to step in.  Two of the things accomplished upon the original liberation were giving people including women the right to vote and also the right including women to be educated.  Forget 10-20 years, I would say 20-50 years to turn this into something other than a wasteland and breeding ground for drugs or terror.

I don't have an answer for the opium trade.  I don't think legalization is realistic and prosecuting a war on drugs while we partner with the cultivators makes no sense.  Just like the third world of America's inner city streets, drug lording is the easiest and quickest path that they see, but no real wealth is created.

Pakistan:  Looks to me like the cat and mouse game of crossing the border with special ops should continue or else we allow the terror organizations to win.  I was hopeful with reports of raids last Sept. the symbolic prize of OBL's head would be ours.  No such luck.  OBL remains only in occasional media release.  Maybe Obama's people can outsmart him and track him through this channel. More important is to track and destroy all groups as they form and before they act.  I am not optimistic. 

We certainly do not want to be in the business of nation building or trying to govern Pakistan.  That would make Iraq look like schoolyard play.  Maybe Obama's Indonesia is a model for Pakistan.  A little more stable but not much to aspire to.

One reason terror organizations fester and have success recruiting is because nothing else is going on economically.  As one looks at the Pak map with borders to Iran and Aghan, it is hard to imagine economic progress in Pakistan in a global economy that doesn't involve peace, trade and commerce with India.
5887  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Bush Presidency on: January 23, 2009, 11:41:03 AM
I rarely find memoirs from outgoing administrations interesting or helpful, however I have been curious about the thoughts of Condaleeza Rice during the second term especially about the threats we face and what our actions should be. 

The Sec. of State traditionally favors talk while Defense prepares for war.  During the Bush second term, key enemies and rivals were well aware that the US was in no position to start a new war, whether in N.K., Iran or South Ossetia. 

As Iraq winds down or had it wound down earlier I wonder how the availability of American military muscle could have affecting negotiations elsewhere. 

Rice's record at State would have been perfect for an Obama administration (Can we talk?) but I wonder if she would have advocated a more active and physical foreign policy if our hands were not tied. 
5888  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Bush Presidency - A supply-sider rips the Bush record on: January 21, 2009, 10:59:14 AM
I give Bush credit for lowering marginal tax rates and achieving amazing results.  Unfortunately the cuts were temporary and the results were squandered with spending and government expansion that is nearly always permanent.  My biggest complaint was Bush's inability to communicate positions and policies even when he was in the right.

This author/economist is a little harsher on the Bush Presidency "...bringing discredit to economic theories that he sadly never implemented."  He blasts Bush for TARP and he correctly points out what Crafty has stated previously, that government spending is a tax on the economy in itself.  Bush leaned toward free trade but his results were the opposite, new tariffs were imposed while new trade agreements failed. 

Supply Siders Should Eagerly Bid Bush Adieu
By John Tamny

Ever since the rebirth of classical economic theory as "supply-side" economics in the late '70s, the mainstream media have perverted its meaning as having solely to do with lower tax rates leading to higher federal revenues. And while empirical evidence shows the latter to be true, the real meaning of supply-side economics is actually quite expansive.

Measures passed by governments that reduce the barriers to work effort are what constitute true supply-side, or classical economic policy. Simplified, governments in a broad sense can negatively increase the barriers to work in four ways: through more regulation, tariffs on trade, higher penalties (taxes) on work, and currency devaluation. If they do, economic stagnation is frequently the result, while supply-side policies meant to enhance growth once again involve reductions in those wedges placed between work and reward.

And with President George W. Bush set to depart the White House today, it’s perhaps useful to look at his policies through a supply-side prism. Sadly, for a president who ran as an economic conservative, the economic policies forwarded by the Bush administration had very little to do with supply-side economics. Indeed, if his policies are to be viewed objectively, it should be said that adherents of the classical model should be eager to see Bush go.

With regard to regulations, they first and foremost inhibit natural economic activity that might otherwise be different absent rules set by the government. In one sense, Bush didn’t do too badly. When it came to the growth of the federal registry, pages under Bush rose 11 percent versus 21 percent during the presidency of Bill Clinton. On the other hand, the pages in the registry actually declined 12 percent under Ronald Reagan, and as Bush ran as Reagan’s heir, it’s fair to say he failed in this area.

Worse, not all regulations are the same in terms of how they deaden economic spirits. In that sense, Bush failed for eagerly signing Sarbanes-Oxley, a law that was successful only insofar as it expanded the need for legal and accounting services. Far from an economy enhancer, SarBox to a high degree turned otherwise entrepreneurial CEOs into slaves of accountants and lawyers. Failure was criminalized, and as such, the very risks that need to be taken by companies in order to grow were subsumed by draconian new rules that elevated economic facilitators over producers.

The Bush administration also foisted on the economy the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), a program billed as capitalism’s savior. Given the collapsed shares of its alleged beneficiaries, it would be more true to say that government investment is always and everywhere an economic retardant given the basic truth that government money never comes without strings attached. In short, with the government now an owner of our banking system due to irrational fears suggesting the system was on the verge of collapse, our financial system will be weakened for the foreseeable future based on past and future certainty that its investment won’t be passive. In time, TARP will make the Community Reinvestment Act and other unfortunate regulations seem miniscule by comparison.

On the trade front, the departing head of one of Washington’s most prominent think tanks recently said despite Bush's many mistakes, he was strong when it came to free trade. Apparently this person missed the imposition of steel and soft-wood lumber tariffs early in Bush’s tenure, shrimp tariffs later on, and the administration's frequent jawboning of China for its allegedly weak yuan. Some might point to Bush’s aggressive efforts to pass a trade agreement with Columbia, along with positive rhetoric with regard to the latest (and failed) GATT round, but through the imposition of earlier tariffs the U.S. lost a lot of credibility that made future trade agreements less doable.

Perhaps worst of all, Bush caved when GM and Chrysler threatened bankruptcy absent a federal bailout. Suffice it to say, taxpayer subsidization of our ailing carmakers is but a tariff by a different name, and it might foretell a negative response from foreign governments. In the end, tariffs are a tax like any other, and as we work in order to consume freely, tariffs are a tax on work that Bush did too little to reduce.

When GOP partisans draw an economic line in the sand to defend Bush, they usually do so by noting the 2003 reductions in taxes on income and capital gains. There they have a point in that ’03 cuts were a certain positive for reducing the penalties on work and investment success.

But it should also be said that many of those same defenders miss the point. While almost to a man they would decry the explosion in spending under Bush not seen since the days of LBJ, they frequently fail to see the main reason why government spending is such a huge weight on the economy.

Spending is problematic because at its core, it too is taxation. When governments tax or borrow in order to spend, they are by definition reducing the amount of capital available in the private sector. Government spending is a tax, because spending by the government is money taken directly from our wages.

Worse with regard to Bush, his administration foisted no less than two “stimulus” packages on the economy; spending that once again withdrew capital from the private sector. And if that wasn’t bad enough, stimulus can only be an economic retardant for the wealth redistribution that it entails causing its alleged beneficiaries to work even less.

Lastly, when the government is not taxing or spending, it can tax us another way, and that is with inflation. Regardless of relatively low government measures of inflation wrought by productivity overseas, Americans were handsomely fleeced during the Bush years.

While the dollar bought 1/250th of an ounce of gold in 2001, as of this writing it buys 1/819th of an ounce. The aforementioned tariffs were a strong signal from the Bush administration that it desired a weaker dollar, and the aforementioned jawboning of China with regard to the value of the yuan was yet more confirmation.

Bush’s Treasury Secretaries of course paid lip service to a strong dollar being in our interest, but their frequent admonition that “markets” should set the price of the dollar concept revealed that a collapsing unit of account would be countenanced. And when we consider the strong correlation between weak dollars and failed presidents, the greenbacks’s decline on Bush’s watch is the largely untold explanation for his unpopularity. Put simply, voters will put up with a lot, but if the money they earn is being devalued, they become angry. Bush and the Republican majority ignored this truth all the way to minority status.

So while Bush got taxes right in 2003, his other economic policies largely taxed real work, and the direction of the S&P 500 during his tenure confirms as much. Indeed, while many would tie the lowering of tax rates to rising markets, the policies pursued under Bush undermined the good and the S&P fell 34 percent during his time in office. Even if we measure the S&P post 9/11, we find that it still fell 8 percent. To show readers how poor this performance was, the S&P even gained under Jimmy Carter - in his case 24 percent.

What’s comforting in all this is that the basic rules with regard to economic growth still hold. If we reduce the regulatory, tariff, tax and currency barriers to growth, the economy performs well. Unfortunately, none of this was done under Bush. At best we can say that his policies were anti-supply side.

So while his being the only 21st century president means George W. Bush can presently claim to be both the best and worst of the century so far, it seems not much of a reach to assume that the man who said his administration had to intervene in markets in order to save them will go down as the worst economic president of the 21st century. Whatever history's judgement, supply-side thinkers should eagerly bid Bush goodbye for bringing discredit to economic theories that he sadly never implemented.
John Tamny is editor of RealClearMarkets, a senior economist with H.C. Wainwright Economics
5889  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics - Keynesian Stimulus? Keynes is Dead. on: January 20, 2009, 10:43:48 AM
Besides last year's 'stimulus', we already had a $400 billion dollar stimulus from the reduction in energy costs.  That boost could have occurred much sooner or we could have avoided the energy crunch altogether if government could have reduced its stranglehold on American energy production.

Everything today (Obama-Pelosi et al) is Keynesian.  Pass a stimulus, the larger the better, what we spend it on isn't as important as how much...  When you fund a government project for 12-18 months, what do you get at the end of the project?  Let me guess, continued government funding or construction worker layoffs - AGAIN.

Wikipedia re. Keynes: "He advocated interventionist government policy, by which the government would use fiscal and monetary measures to mitigate the adverse effects of economic recessions, depressions and booms."

Keynesian interventions were applied to the so called 'Phillips curve' that stated basically that there is an inverse relationship between inflation and unemployment.  Use inflationary policies for example to curb unemployment.

By the end of the 1970's, because of failed interventionist government policies, both inflation and unemployment were spiking, not offsetting each other.  The activist government ran out of Keynesian interventionist tricks.

Then in the early 1980's both evils were contained with a non-Keynsian, two pronged approach, tight money to control inflation and lower marginal tax rates to restore the incentive to produce.

Now we head back to Keynes hayday, the prosperity of the 1930s.  embarassed

In the late 70s or early 80s the WSJ published an editorial called  "Keynes is Dead."  I would like to find that and see if any of that wisdom might help our new leaders today.
5890  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: The American Creed: Our Founding Fathers: on: January 16, 2009, 09:35:05 PM
Not a founding father, but one of my favorite quotes defending them:

JUDGE JOHN ROBERTS: I had someone ask me in this process, I don't remember who it was, but somebody asked me: are you going to be on the side of the little guy? You obviously want to give an immediate answer, but as you reflect on it, if the Constitution says that the little guy should win, the little guy is going to win in court before me. But if the Constitution says that the big guy should win, well, then the big guy is going to win, because my obligation is to the Constitution.
5891  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics- Never let a serious crisis to go to waste on: January 16, 2009, 08:43:38 PM
Crafty, thanks for posting the piece by Wehner and Ryan.  'Paul Ryan, congressman from Wisconsin, member of the Budget Committee and the Ways and Means Committee' - is one of the potential up and coming voices IMO for electable conservatism - beyond Wisconsin.  Also thanks for posting the Soviet plan from the current powers of the country.  In my view, if we want growth, we just lean a little toward pro-growth policies, not rip up the best economic system in the history of the planet and replace it with what you aptly describe as a copy of the failed Soviet, centrally planned economy.  As we contemplate further bailouts and phony 'stimuli', these contrasting views need to be studied side by side.  I recommend re-reading the Wehner/Ryan piece point by point after the soviet plan and also I recommend the following piece of common sense from Victor Davis Hanson.  He is not as pretty as the governor of our largest state but McCain would also have shocked the world by nominating VDH as running mate.  The MSM would have imploded trying knock down his wisdom:

January 15, 2009
Don't Waste a Crisis?
By Victor Davis Hanson

Euphemism comes from the Greek word euphemia , which means "using the good word" -- usually in place of the accurate bad one. Recently we've become experts at it.

Printing trillions more dollars and growing government to cover new debts isn't so bad if we call it "stimulus." That is far smarter than saying something honest like, "I propose a new $1 trillion debt program."

The old-fashioned spendthrift policies we used to ridicule as congressional pork and "earmarks" are now justified under that ubiquitous nice word "stimulus." If funding another questionable museum in your district was once congressional pork barreling, it will now be a patriotic act to get the national economy moving again.

Yet much of what is driving this national hysteria in our reaction to the current economic downturn is psychological. After all, no plagues, wars or earthquakes have killed our workforce, destroyed our infrastructure or wiped out our computer banks.

Instead, for years now we have overspent and over-borrowed -- and must naturally pay up. And like any chastised debtor, panicked Americans logically have temporarily clammed up and are holding on to what money they have left.

In response, the government apparently doesn't only want to free up credit to get us back to our profligate habits of borrowing what we don't have so we can buy what we don't need. It also would like to create new programs to build infrastructure; guarantee new loans; and offer additional credits, bailouts and entitlements.

Or in the words of incoming White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, "You never want a serious crisis to go to waste."

Traditional conservative custodians of the budget can't say much. They are largely discredited on matters of finance. During the last eight years of Republican prominence in Congress and the White House, the government borrowed as never before.

Liberals in turn have suddenly rewritten their own economic history. They used to claim the great surge in government under President Franklin Delano Roosevelt got us out of the Great Depression with deficit spending and federal jobs programs.

But many historians have argued instead that unemployment and slow growth remained high throughout Roosevelt's first two terms -- until the Second World War scared us all into a fit of national mobilization that alone ended the ongoing 13-year depression between 1929 and 1941.

Now here's the irony: Liberals suddenly agree that only the Second World War stopped the Depression, after all! So they now argue that we need a new New Deal far greater than the old New Deal. In other words, they want to re-create the urgency of World War II to get government to grow and spend big-time.

Their argument is that if FDR failed to stop the Depression, it wasn't, as conservatives insist, because he turned to unworkable government solutions, but rather because he didn't try big enough ones.

The government-affiliated, under-regulated and corrupt Fannie Mae may have collapsed. And it may have helped to cause the sub-prime mortgage meltdown. No matter -- the proposed "don't waste a crisis" cure seems to use that model of government-guaranteed corporations to absorb as much of the economy as possible.

Still, no one knows whether the present borrowing and printing of money to give short-term credits, cash grants and jobs to Americans will get the economy moving again -- or simply reinforce the bad habits that got us here in the first place.

But consider a few facts: Even in the current mess, recent unemployment figures are around 7 percent -- not the 10 percent of the recession of the early 1980s, much less the 25 percent rate that peaked in the Great Depression.

Meanwhile, energy prices have plunged, saving consumers and the country hundreds of billions of dollars. The existing pre-stimulus annual budget was already set to run about a half-trillion-dollar deficit. The present government debt, much of it to Asia and Europe, was nearing $13 trillion even before the latest borrowing plans.

We are going to have to pay these debts back by cutting federal spending and entitlements or raising taxes -- or both. Or we can convince panicky debt holders abroad to loan us even more money for years at near-zero interest rates. Or we can try simply printing trillions of new dollars to inflate the economy while hoping that creditors don't mind being paid with funny money.

What got us in this debacle was the lack of self-control on the part of consumers who borrowed to spend more than they could pay back, rapid growth in government debt, and Wall Street speculators who wanted obscene returns they had not earned.

It would be a pity if the government now trumped these bad examples and turned some helpful federal loan guarantees of troubled banks into a permanent state-run economy with crushing debt for generations to come.

Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and author.
5892  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues, bankrupt liberal media on: January 16, 2009, 08:39:28 PM
Speaking of media bias, could we please have a moment of silence for the (Minneapolis) StarTribune that filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy yesterday.  Known affectionately as the 'Red Star' or the 'Star and Sickle', this paper is as liberal as they come and their their bias runs from page one to the editorials to the weather and yes, through the sports section.  I know the financial crisis in the newspaper business is about advertising revenue and competition from free internet sources, but it doesn't help that your product is designed to alienate nearly 50% of your potential readers.

MN is perhaps the most liberal state in the union, the only state Reagan never won and the home to names like Walter Mondale, Hubert Humphrey, Eugene McCarthy, Paul Wellstone and (NY'er) Al Franken.  Still, that tells only half the story.  Minnesota has elected only one new Democrat governor since 1970, so there is another view here and no newspaper to cover it.

I had the honor embarassed of writing the opposing view published in counterpoint to their predictable endorsement of Bill Clinton in Nov. 1992.  After being gutted by people who didn't understand the point I was making,  I started including 'no edit without permission' with my contributions and never got published again.

In chapter 11 they don't go away, they just quit paying their bills.  Maybe a savvy bankruptcy judge should require them to aim the product at more than half the market.
5893  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Legal Issues created by the War with Islamic Fascism on: January 12, 2009, 04:39:35 PM
"So, what our military faces in training is torture when applied to al qaeda terrorists? Give me your interrogation methods that will work while meeting your standard."

Jumping in (the question was aimed at Crafty), I had a toothache over the holiday which is unpleasant while it is happening.  The thought crossed my mind that morally IMO we perhaps could inflict pain up to the level of the common toothache, no worse than what a terrorist might experience naturally in the course of his life, to someone who is already guilty and captured in the interest of preventing a mass murder.  I'm not suggesting it's a good idea, just saying it's okay with me to leave it on the table for those responsible for our security.

Waterboarding as I understand it is more a matter of tricking them than inflicting harm or pain.

To understand torture better, look closely at the facilities and evidence uncovered from Saddam's regime.  Let's resolve to not be like them.
5894  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Food Chain and Food Politics on: January 12, 2009, 11:45:35 AM
"Doug,  Here is a start to answering your question."  - No, I think you came across something very interesting while looking for an answer to my question. 

For the most part, my view of nutrition is the same as yours.  I would change point 1 from 'eat food' to 'buy (real) food'.  I take some pride in getting to the grocery counter with only fresh meats, whole grains, fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, fresh dairy, etc.  I can eat a box of pop-tarts as fast as anyone so I have to control that it doesn't get purchased or carried into my home.  I don't even walk down those aisles.

Another point was 'cook'.  I would change it to 'eat at home or carry a lunch/dinner' as many good foods do not require cooking. 

Fields fortified with human feces are organic while worm ridden apples and arsenic in water are examples of 'all-natural' products.  What is best I think is just to get good information in order to make your own choices.

"Not everyone can afford to eat well in America, which is shameful..."  - bs IMO - blind allegation, all judgment with no attempt to back it up - and completely away from science, human behavior or economics.  I shop in the same stores as so-called poor people and as an inner city landlord, I clean out their kitchens when they move.  Exotic, diverse species flown in daily from the amazon might be expensive but carrots and oranges and bananas and black beans and spinach leaves etc. etc. are not when compared to the soda and junk food and fried chicken and cigarettes and video games and malt liquor and cd's/ dvd's, cable tv, cell phones, etc. that they spend their money on.  Potato chips are not cheaper than potatoes.  It's about choices people make and as you correctly indicate, the number one nutritional problem for the so-called 'poor in America' is obesity, not famine.

If this search was about my question, nothing I read indicates that farmers don't care about topsoil quality due to availability of fertilizers.  With hydroponics you can grow without topsoil, but the nutrients wash off and must be re-pumped over and over and over.  Nothing about that process is cheaper or more productive that growing in America's heartland with rich, black topsoil.  Growing in clay or sand or depleted, unrotated topsoil requires higher costs to get inferior results to my knowledge.  I will be interested in learning otherwise.

My neighbors do not grow processed corn, beached wheat or over salted soy.  Those are choices made further down the line.  Nor do I ever see them fail to rotate crops or to allow noticable topsoil erosion. 

It is my opinion that the flavorless, nutritionless tomatoes are bred for durability in shipment and longevity for the transport and for presentation at the store.  When we stop buying them, they will stop growing them.  When fresh tomatoes seem like plastic, I buy canned.  The farmers market idea is not always practical for those of us who live where the ground is frozen 6 months of the year.
5895  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Bush Presidency on: January 11, 2009, 11:47:25 AM
Marc,  Thanks for the kind words.  Feel free to revise or delete as we drift back to the abortion 'discussion'. 
5896  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Reproductive issues on: January 11, 2009, 11:43:28 AM
Quoting Rachel's post from 'the Jewish woman': "Conceiving a child is like conceiving an idea." - Oops, bad idea - stab, stab, stab.  No. Conceiving a child is NOT like conceiving an idea.

"Apparently the men in Rome are having trouble understanding some nuances ..." - "the men in Rome" - Is that the level of respect you would like to see posted about your faith?

"I need to bring down my period, ...She was handed a packet of pills...Ms. Dominguez, two or three months pregnant...swallowed the pills one by one... passed a lifeless fetus, which she flushed..." - Curious how we know the fetus was lifeless before or after 'passing'.  How would a live 2 month fetus look different before flushing.  I assume the same pills wrongly administered in wrong dosage to a newborn would have the same affect, just harder to flush.
5897  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Food Chain and Food Politics on: January 11, 2009, 11:26:51 AM
Quoting Rachel: "If you using a lot of fertilizer the quality of your top soil  does not matter  as much."

Please source and quantify.  That's twice I've seen you trivialize the importance farmers put on top soil, but never have I heard a farmer (or homeowner with a garden) trivialize the importance of top soil.
5898  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Coming Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: January 11, 2009, 11:18:34 AM
Rachel wrote:  "GM-- This is the third or fourth time you have posted a poorly sourced smear regarding  Obama and Israel . "

From my observations so far, even quoting Barack Obama from the campaign, the debates or positions posted on his campaign website would also not be reliable sources for predicting what Obama would do as President.

Why would he meet freely with the leaders of Iran but not have 'low level contacts' with Hamas.
5899  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Bush Presidency on: January 09, 2009, 08:45:09 PM
I think it was Jay Leno who said Bush's big accomplishment was bringing an end to the drought in New Orleans...

The points that Karl Rove made about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are true.  But he did not see what was coming and HOLLAR AND SCREAM and use the bully pulpit or call members of his own party on the carpet until he got it done.  So he gets no credit for making a few comments on the correct side of the issue.  He was not elected pundit; he was Commander in Chief and leader of the free world.

Crafty wrote: "Virtually no one likes President Bush very much these days."  - I don't find the 'do you approve, yes or no' polling to be helpful.  It mixes people like me who may disapprove for one set of reasons with people like Ralph Nader for example who may disapprove just as strongly for opposite reasons.  Instead I prefer to choose whether he was on the right or wrong side of each issue, in my judgment, one by one.

On the positive side: 1) very controversial but I think the Iraq and Afghan efforts were amazing accomplishments that included vision and resolve.  Even if Iraq eventually fails, it was a heroic feat by the American soldiers to depose this thug and give millions of people a shot at peace and freedom.  Certainly could not and would not have been done without Bush.

2) Same goes for bold uses of technology and executive powers used to put in place the surveillance methods that have kept us safe for this long.  Very controversial, but IMO he got it right.

3) The tax rate cuts were successful beyond all predictions, discussed elsewhere on the forum recently.

4) Samuel Alito and especially Chief Justice John Roberts.

Biggest failures, time and space permitting:

1) Failure or inability to communicate even when he was doing things right.  Allowing his own popularity to tank crippled the presidency in the later years.

2) Spending and his failure to ever stand up to his own party.  There is an intentional division of powers between branches of government and he was wrong to go along with spending that was excessive - understatement.

3) Within spending was the expansion of federal powers and the unfunded liabilities.  Examples: prescription drugs medicare benefits.  Assuming the constitution puts the feds in charge of meds, then maybe it was a good program, but it doesn't.  If the constitution granted the federal government the responsibility to run the schools, then maybe 'No Child Left Behind' was a good program - but it doesn't.

4) Immigration reform - This was bungled.  Wrong program done in the wrong order - and never got it done.  My idea would be to cover the closing of illegal crossings with an expansion of immigration in the legal type, recruiting workers in skilled and educated fields where we need help, not just from one culture and not just mindless labor beneath the dignity of our local workforce.
5900  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: India and India-Pak on: January 09, 2009, 07:34:12 PM
I went to post India's evidence against Pakistan and saw that GM already got to it 2 days ago.  Again:

Here are a few excerpts from intercepted telephone conversations between the terrorists and their handlers in Pakistan that gives a good feel for the outside coordination of the terrorists - from  Highly recommended reading if you want a glimpse inside their warped minds.

    Caller [to the terrorists in the Taj Majal Hotel]: Greetings! There are three Ministers and one Secretary of the Cabinet in your hotel. We don't know in which room.

    Receiver: Oh! That is good news! It is the icing on the cake.

    Caller: Find those 3-4 persons and then get whatever you want from India.

    Receiver: Pray that we find them.

    Caller: Do one thing. Throw one or two grenades on the Navy and police teams, which are outside.

This one is between a Pakistani controller and one of the terrorists who attacked Chabad House:

    Caller: Greetings. What did the Major General say?

    Receiver: Greetings. The Major General directed us to do what we like. We should not worry. The operation has to be concluded tomorrow morning. Pray to God. Keep two magazines and three grenades aside, and expend the rest of your ammunition.

This one is between a terrorist at the Oberoi Hotel and a Pakistani handler:

    Caller: Brother Abdul. The media is comparing your action to 9/11. One senior police officer has been killed.

    Abdul Rehman: We are on the 10th/11th floor. We have five hostages.

    Caller 2 (Kafa): Everything is being recorded by the media. Inflict the maximum damage. Keep fighting. Don't be taken alive.

    Caller: Kill all hostages, except the two Muslims. Keep your phone switched on so that we can hear the gunfire.

    Fahadullah: We have three foreigners including women. From Singapore and China.

    Caller: Kill them.

    (Voices of Fahadullah and Abdul Rehman directing hostages to stand in a line, and telling two Muslims to stand aside. Sound of gunfire. Cheering voices heard in background.)

From the Taj Mahal Hotel:

    Caller: How many hostages do you have?

    Receiver: We have one from Belgium. We have killed him. There was one chap from Bangalore. He could be controlled only with a lot of effort.

    Caller: I hope there is no Muslim amongst them?

    Receiver: No, none.

Finally, this conversation between a terrorist at Chabad House and his superior in Pakistan:

    Wassi: Keep in mind that the hostages are of use only as long as you do not come under fire because of their safety. If you are still threatened, then don't saddle yourself with the burden of the hostages, immediately kill them.

    Receiver: Yes, we shall do accordingly, God willing.

    Wassi: The Army claims to have done the work without any hostage being harmed. Another thing; Israel has made a request through diplomatic channels to save the hostages. If the hostages are killed, it will spoil relations between India and Israel.

    Receiver: So be it, God willing.

I'm sure there must be some good reason why the evil incarnate that was revealed in the Mumbai attack, and the information that has emerged subsequently about Pakistan's role in it, did not give rise to world-wide protests and demonstrations. Offhand, though, I can't think what it might be.  - John Hinderacker, Powerline
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