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3151  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Gertrude Stein - unusual and complex on: February 18, 2012, 01:49:53 PM
Certainly I have had some conflicts with my fellow Jews, particularly those who are liberal but nothing like this from one of the first openly lesbian celebrities who was a life long Republican, anti Roosevelt an New Deal dissenter.   Interesting since she was gay and female at a time when that was far more taboo than now.   Yet to nominate Hitler for the Nobel Peace prize in part for ridding Germany of Jews??  Wow. 
What was that all about?   
She later speaks of Roosevelt along with Trotzky, Hitler, Mussolini, and Stalin in the same breath.  She certainly sounds like she believed in personal responsibility and freedom of thought and I think, at least later on from government.

****Institute for Historical Review

Gertrude Stein's Complex Worldview
Nobel Peace Prize for Hitler?
By Mark Weber

Scholars of the life of Gertrude Stein were recently startled to learn that in 1938 the prominent Jewish-American writer had spearheaded a campaign urging the Nobel committee to award its Peace Prize to Adolf Hitler. This was disclosed by Gustav Hendrikksen, a former member of the Nobel committee and now professor emeritus of Bible studies at Sweden's Uppsala University, in Nativ, a political magazine published in Israel. (Reports about this appeared in the New York Jewish community weekly Forward, Feb. 2, June 14, and Oct. 25, 1996.)

Hendrikksen, an avowed friend of Israel who is now in his late 80s, recalled that the Nobel committee rejected Stein's proposal "politely but firmly, citing among their reasons the attitude of the Nazi regime toward the Jews."

In the decades before her death in 1946, Stein was a widely acclaimed literary icon. As monarch of the "lost generation" of American expatriates in Paris during the 1920s and 1930s, she cultivated and influenced such literary figures as Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald, as well as such artists as Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse. Her Paris home was a mecca for writers and artists. Stein's own "modernist" novels, memoirs, lectures and plays -- once celebrated as stylishly avant garde -- have not aged well. Today she is remembered almost as much for who she was as for what she wrote.

Born in Pennsylvania of a wealthy German-Jewish family, she was raised in the United States, and attended Radcliffe and Johns Hopkins universities. But it was during her years of expatriate living in France that she made her lasting mark.

'Hitler Ought to Have the Peace Prize'
Stein's seemingly paradoxical views about Hitler and fascism have never been a secret. As early as 1934, she told a reporter that Hitler should be awarded the Nobel peace prize. "I say that Hitler ought to have the peace prize, because he is removing all the elements of contest and of struggle from Germany. By driving out the Jews and the democratic and Left element, he is driving out everything that conduces to activity. That means peace ... By suppressing Jews ... he was ending struggle in Germany" (New York Times Magazine, May 6, 1934).

As astonishing at it may seem today, in 1938 many credited Hitler for his numerous efforts to secure lasting peace in Europe on the basis of equal rights of nations. After assuming power in 1933, he succeeded in quickly establishing friendly relations with Poland, Italy, Hungary, and several other European nations. Among his numerous initiatives to lessen tensions in Europe, the German leader offered detailed proposals for mutual reductions of armaments by the major powers.

In a 1940 essay, Stein wrote positively of the appointment of "collaborationist" Henri Philippe Petain as France's Chief of State, comparing him to George Washington. As late as 1941, she was urging the Atlantic Monthly to publish speeches by Marshal Petain, which she had translated into English. In spite of her background, Stein continued to live and write in France during the years of German occupation (1940-1944).

She also maintained a friendship with Bernard Fay, who headed France's national library, the Bibliotheque Nationale, during the Petain era. According to a new biography of Stein, Favored Strangers: Gertrude Stein and Her Family, by Linda Wagner-Martin, Fay and Stein often discussed "the Führer's qualities of greatness" in the years before the outbreak of war in 1939. Even after the war, when he was convicted as a collaborationist, Stein and her close companion Alice Toklas remained good friends with Fay and lobbied to free him from prison.

Conflicted Sense of Jewishness
Like many of this century's Jewish American intellectuals, Stein's relationship to her own Jewishness was complex and conflicted. She was sensitive to anti-Jewish sentiment, and sometimes expressed criticism of Hitler. In 1936 she wrote: "There is too much fathering going on just now and there is no doubt about it fathers are depressing. Everybody now-a-days is a father, there is father Mussolini and father Hitler and father Roosevelt and father Stalin and father Trotzky ..."

Estranged from the organized Jewish community, in part because of her eccentricity and lesbianism, she nevertheless retained an acute and proud sense of her Jewishness. According to Wagner-Martin, Stein once said, "all men of genius had Jewish blood," and even developed a theory that Abraham Lincoln was part Jewish.

During the first decade of this century, Stein became enamored of Austrian-Jewish psychologist and philosopher Otto Weininger, whose major work, Geschlecht und Charakter ("Sex and Character"), had tremendous influence on European thinking. Following its first publication in 1903, the book was quickly translated into various languages, and went through 30 editions. Weininger contrasted the masculine "Being" of Aryanism and Christianity with the feminine "non-Being" of Judaism. Jesus was the only Jew to overcome Judaism, he argued. Zionism, in Weininger's view, is the negation of Judaism, because it seeks to ennoble what cannot be ennobled. Whereas Judaism stands for the world dispersion of Jews, Zionism strives for their ingathering.

From The Journal of Historical Review, Sept-Oct. 1997 (Vol. 16, No. 5), pp. 22 ff.

3152  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Mayo Proceedings psychiatrist on marijuana on: February 18, 2012, 11:02:06 AM
I received free a copy of the journal.  I glanced through a somewhat long article but have not spent the time reading it.

This physician supports the use of it for medical purposes.  I am not convinced we need another psychoactive drug out there.  OTOH it is out there anyway I guess.   Here he is giving a 10 minute chat about it:
3153  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iran on: February 18, 2012, 08:59:18 AM
Drudge reporting "sources" in the WH now saying military action against Iran now "more" likely.

Give me a break.  If this is not now the tail wagging the dog!

After all this suddenly the WH has decided sanctions are not working.

Throw the Jews/Israel under the bus.  Now he needs them and their donations.   Suddenly the picture has changed.

I am all for helping Israel.  But at the expense of another four years of this guy....

Democrats will stop at nothing.
3154  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Gender, Gay, Lesbian on: February 17, 2012, 04:17:08 PM
"Why not polygamy/polyandry as well?"

Why stop there?  Why not just take it to the end game -
Why even have marriage altogether?

Just abolish it.  We have divorce at over 50%.  We have all these people fooling around.   We have children of single or unmarried parents all over the place.

Now gays are hoisting their agenda on the rest of us.

Perhaps we could tax individuals more and stop deductions, so the State would be happy to rid of marriage.

Just get rid of it.  It is nealy meaningless or going in that direction every day anyway.

We celebrate celebrities who have kids out of wedlock.  We celebrate gays having children.  We see everyone and their uncle so to speak having affairs (JFK with a teenager and running the WH like a Damn personal brothel)

I can go on.

Just get rid of the antiquated and fast becoming worthless institution.

So a few "chapels" on the Vegas strip will go out of business.
3155  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Gender, Gay, Lesbian on: February 17, 2012, 01:14:17 PM
Bigdog says,

"Moreover, in some areas of civil rights, such as handicapped, special accommodations are exactly what they are entitled to.  Ramps, tutors, Braille books, sound emitting cross walk signals?  Gay rights, like race and handicapped, are civil rights questions."


"special accommodations are exactly what they are entitled to"

Wow.   We are forced to accomodate to disabilities because of laws passed for compassionate reasons.  Yes all of us can become disabled at any time.   The problem is the word "entitlement".  There is NO end to extrapolation of using this word to endless areas of our society our culture.

The left has used this word in no small way to ever increase entitlements (and the government to enforce it - and the costs of others to pay for it) endlessly.

There is still no end in sight.  And there will not be.  Not unitl the entire world all 7 billion of us are exactly the same.
3156  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Napolitano on: February 17, 2012, 11:45:26 AM
Beck gone now Napolitano.   Ratings are down I guess.  Truthfully it seems like these shows will only appeal to certains groups and go only so far.   I say with disappointment that the strict conservative message is not going to get us the independents.  Just won't happen.  It is just too late, like it or not.

Proof in point, the country's "greatest generation" is now the country's biggest "entitlement generation" - by FAR.  Medicare and SS alone will bankrupt us while the politicians and the few who control the world economy continue their shell game.

In any case back to Freedom Watch:
3157  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The electoral process, vote fraud, SEIU/ACORN et al, corruption etc. on: February 17, 2012, 10:01:56 AM
I saw this last night.

Yes.   One has to wonder are there the result of incompetence, honest mistakes, or outright bribes or just political operatives doing stuff for their guy?

We will never know.

Romney has money.
3158  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: February 16, 2012, 07:43:35 PM
"The Obama Farewell Speech of 2012" grin

I wouldn't put it past him to pull a "Cleveland" in 2016. shocked
3159  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Chinese buying lots of gold on: February 16, 2012, 07:39:30 PM
I don't know if this accounts for the price but China is buying large amounts.  Indians are buying too though I don't know if as much:
3160  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Gender, Gay, Lesbian on: February 16, 2012, 03:17:30 PM
For those of you who want to spend time reading 29 pages of this "study" which has a lot diatribing in it while in the same paper admits that actual research looking into the this is "scant" one can knock yourself out here:

So the authors blab and blab and blab at some points saying certain things are "well established" and later contradicting the whole thing with there is scant evidence.

It reminds me of "field" of  graphology wherein people claim to be ble to determine a person's personality from their handwriting.

A retired FBI documents examiner explained that he reviewed the books written on the subject and concluded there was no scientific continuity.  They all used different criteria and had different conclusions.

3161  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Gender, Gay, Lesbian on: February 16, 2012, 02:42:07 PM
"Actually nearly all the national medical groups agree (I wouldn't call them "progressive special interest groups")"

I am not sure who does these kinds of studies but it is more likely they are gay researchers with an agenda than conservatives trying to advance their conservative values.

That said I don't know whether it is harmful or not.

I am not sure why anyone would care enough to spend time and money unless gay and that would bias the study.

3162  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Ross is still alive on: February 15, 2012, 04:06:54 PM
3163  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Military Science and Military Issues on: February 15, 2012, 04:04:47 PM
3164  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Military Science and Military Issues on: February 15, 2012, 03:51:28 PM
Assasination is quite acceptable so long as it makes a liberal politician look good.

Question, who lies more Nixon or Obama?
3165  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Military Science and Military Issues on: February 15, 2012, 03:42:26 PM
BG interesting fact book.

It is ironic we now have the most liberal President in history, making the most of speical operation forces overseas.

I remember not too long ago every liberal from Hollywood to MSM decrying out loud the CIA and special ops (IranContra) as
an evil segment of the Unites States overseas policy.

Sort of like Reagan's space based anti ballistic initiative as being ridiculed as Star Wars.  Now I can guarantee you Brock wishes he had antiballistic weapons that could shoot down nuclear warheads.  It would make Iran seem like less of a threat.
3166  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: February 15, 2012, 03:32:30 PM
Interesting post Crafty.

Readers know I have been disappointed to say the least over the years seeing so many fellow Jews supporting liberal political causes.

I had never heard of billionaire Adelson until I read about his several million donation to Newt.  I am glad the right appears to have an answer to Soros et al.  (and Jewish grin)

I am not sure why Shledon suddenly feels comfortable with Mitt when indeed he was not only weeks ago when he shelled out big money (not for him) for Newt.

FWIW (very little except to make conversation) I like Santorum.  I am not thrilled by Mitt.   Obviously many Republicans feel the same way.  Yet I still conclude Mitt is the stronger candidate for Obama.

Probably there is still time to give Santorum one more shot at why he is Presidential and should be the nominee.

Romney is like Campbell's chicken soup.  Basically adequate but just doesn't make my mouth water.  Hopefully with the right management and a real defined appealing campaign message this will be enough.

If not, to borrow Ross Perot's famous phrase, "we will be in [deeper] deep doodoo".

BTW, I wonder what happended to him.  Is he still alive?
3167  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Fed, Monetary Policy, Inflation, US Dollar & other currencies, & Gold/Silver on: February 14, 2012, 04:26:56 PM
"In fact, the federal government's total obligations today – including all future obligations – is more than $1 million per taxpayer. And that's if you assume all 112 million taxpayers really count. (They don't. Only about 50 million people in the U.S. pay any substantial amount of federal income taxes.)"

This answers the questions under the government spending thread about the burden on "real" taxpayers who are supporting not only themselves and family but several others.

Otherwise it sounds like the crises in Kally4rnia is the same as the Federal Government.

It is so bad or about ready to be so bad -

What is amazing man in the MSM look at people who write articles like this and laugh and smirk and belittle them. 

Well health insurance in NJ goes up 10% every year.

Prescription drug program under Bush cost more than SS?  I didn't know that.  And we have some pushing for Jeb Bush?
No thanks.  The first brought us Clinton the second brought us Brock.  Enuf said.

3168  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government programs & regulations, spending, deficit, and budget process on: February 14, 2012, 03:34:04 PM
"we are looking at about $350,000 per taxpayer?"

Brock is not helping the middle class - he is killing us.

Yet hear him speak he is saving us.

Will/can the word get out?

Yet for the other 240 million what do they care?  Vote for the Brock!! They say.  Soak the "rich". tongue rolleyes cry sad angry
3169  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / preposterous on: February 14, 2012, 03:29:09 PM
"What business is it of the government what gender we are?"

What business is it of government what gender race ethnicity age or anything else?   A human being is a human being.

What business is it what "country" we are from?   Denmark, Kansas, New Zealand, Nigeria, Mongolia.   Obviously we are all one race - humankind.  (notice "man"kind is out!)

Look one world government with all of us exactly the same.

Don't forget it is the right of this same government to tell us what is politically correct to say AND think.

They can also tell us what we can and can't eat.  How many times we can flush the toilet.  What kind of light bulbs to use.  What kind of car to drive.   How much money we are allowed to make and certainly how much we can keep and must give them.

We are not allowed to display certain symbols on our lawn.  They can send a letter to our house telling us we are in the way and must move to make way for a busines that has given someone high up a donation or a piece of the real estate.

We cannot ask people who move here to speak our language but we must speak their language.

The government has NO business questioning what gender we are despite the laws of nature but they have all the business in the world to tell us and do to us all the above.

Make sense to you?  Not to me.

(It gets worse every day.  No end in sight.)
3170  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Those carrying the load - have broken backs on: February 14, 2012, 03:17:19 PM
(Unless you are Buffett Gates Soros and a couple of celebs----) 

Let's see 17 K per person 70K per family of four.  Yet if we remove the roughly 50% who pay no income tax or those who are retired on SS what is the real cost to today's workers (some pay a payroll tax I guess) and their working children.  Though since a large number of those under 20 - 25 yo are unemployed - bottom line - the toll on those carrying this load is FAR worse:   
 ****President Obama’s fourth budget has now been released, which allows for a relatively full accounting of deficit spending during his four years in office. The picture isn’t pretty, but it is revealing.

According to the White House’s own figures (see table S-1 here for 2011 to 2013, and table S-1 here for 2010), the actual or projected deficit tallies for the four years in which Obama has submitted budgets are as follows: $1.293 trillion in 2010, $1.300 trillion in 2011, $1.327 trillion in 2012, and $901 billion in 2013.  In addition, Obama is responsible for the estimated $200 billion (the Congressional Budget Office’s figure) that his economic “stimulus” added to the deficit in 2009.  Moreover, he shouldn’t get credit for the $149 billion in TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program) repayments made in 2010 and 2011 to cover most of the $154 billion in bank loans that remained unpaid at the end of the 2009 fiscal year — loans that count against President Bush’s 2009 deficit tally.

Adding all of this up, deficit spending during Obama’s four years in the White House (based on his own figures) will be an estimated $5.170 trillion — or $5,170,000,000,000.00.

To help put that colossal sum of money into perspective, if you take our deficit spending under Obama and divide it evenly among the roughly 300 million American citizens, that works out to just over $17,000 per person — or about $70,000 for a family of four.***
3171  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Entitlements and how to go after them on: February 14, 2012, 12:36:48 PM
"Republican lack of integrity"

I really don't know Crafty.  I think the Repubs have been running a defensive retreating strategy for years.  They are really afraid of losing segments of the voters if they stand on principle too much.  So they try to compromise which backfires and on and on.

It is nearly impossible to compete with a party that steals from producers and bribes more and more voters.

Now we have the medicare soc sec bunch who are more inclined to be on the right but for their own pockets are suddenly another big entitlement group that will protect its interests over the good of the country.  Like all of us I guess or hate to say.

"no significance whether or not their destruction of the economy is intentional"

It may be more incompetence.  Does Paul Krugman continue to shove his absurd views on us because he really believes his way is best or that if it doesn't work - well hell F the US anyway and start over?  I am not sure about this.

As we all here know the liberal movement is with the end game of the US is nothing more then a piece of land in a world ruled by liberals "governmentalists".

They don't like America they want to abolish its dominance or use it only to spread around the world.  So if this country fold as we know it - maybe not so bad.

(Of course until they personally would suffer but that is another story.)

3172  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: February 14, 2012, 11:01:54 AM
I like Morris but and have looked forward to his insights.  Unfortunately, I am learning he is just preaching to the Right's choir.
I don't think he has any real insight to independents who seem to bend with the wind.

Brock's team knows this.

That is why they are unleashing this total propaganda war.

Independents will believe whatever they hear @ the moment.

They think the economy is doing better - right or wrong - they vote for Brock.

The market goes up they vote for Brock.

I know, the Repubs are too busy fighting each other and will also get their media machine rolling once we get the nominee.

3173  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / correction on: February 14, 2012, 10:55:23 AM
"They just get it, care, understand, see it or whatever, they only care about their pocketbook."

Tehy just DON'T get it, etc.

3174  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Entitlements and how to go after them on: February 14, 2012, 10:54:07 AM

I am not as optimistic as you.

Just the single fact that I keep hearing that Republicans should be able to "hold on" to the House of reps is alone enough to dishearten me.

To think we have this gigantic liberal in the WH and we are facing this truly radical transformation of America and yet Republicans are struggling to hold onto gains....

The fact the Brock has an approval of even 40-50% also tells me it is almost too late.

It appears many in this country are just fine with a more socialist state.

The 15 - 20% or whatever the number is in the middle - who always decide the elections on a national level
it is obvious by now they are not swayed or concerned about ideology one way or the other.  They just get it, care, understand, see it or whatever, they only care about their pocketbook.

That is it.  It has to be that.   Otherwise Brock's approval would be 40% with disapproval of 60%.   We wouldn't even be thinking the House could go back to Dems or lose Repub seats.  It would be a landslide.

Or let me ask you.  Why is Brock still at 45-50% approval?
3175  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Crashing the system may be the goal on: February 14, 2012, 09:57:50 AM
"Until it all crashes."

That may actually be the GOAL.

Someone on talk radio was questioning the motive of Brockster NOT addressing the entitlements.

Whether it be he is just waiting to get re-elected?

And he is playing chicken and letting the Repubs make the first step into the quandry and then will mow down all their proposals with demogauguery?

Or is he really the manchurain liberal who does want the system to collapse so it can be rebuilt more like a communist or fascist state with the end goal being one world government that is all controlling or all knowing.

The answer to this question is unknown but I think it very reasonable to suspect it actually is that he would be ok if the system collapse as long as he and his liberal friends can progress to even bigger new liberal world orders.

Some fools would call this crazy, far fetched, propaganda.

There is actually a LOT of evidence this IS real to support this theory.  Indeed many of the big libs today are saying as much.

The foreign policy proposals calling for the US to forever be bound by the UN is just one example.

The idea tha offshore drilling should be taxed to  give to poor countries - now I should work to pay off the benefits to those in the  US  who are bribed to vote AND  I should do the same for the entire world?

If this does  not shine a light on what the liberals are doing to us - I don't know what will wake up America.
3176  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Yes and to take it a little further on: February 13, 2012, 02:15:58 PM
Agree with the arguments posted.  Also the gay infitada has a powerful ally in the MSM.  Since much of the opposition to legalizing marriage and with it the "normalization" of homosexuality comes for religion and of course religious groups have been aligned to a large extent with the Republican party the gays have become probably almost as strongly identified with the Crat party as Blacks and 75% of Jews.

So it is quite natural they have big support in the MSM notwithstanding much prominence in the entertainment industry and now with cable news - Maddow, Cooper, etc.

In a way I find my rights as an American citizen to speak out against overwhelming immigration abuse, and to speak out as a taxpayer my resentment that I be taxed up the behind while 50% pay no federal income tax, and the very rich have numerous loopholes, as very much the same type of muzzling of ALL opposition to this progressive wave that is overwhelmiing America.
3177  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / pre-election flip flop on: February 11, 2012, 10:54:17 AM
This is so Clinton.  At the last minute just before the election announce a NEW stand on an issue as though he was for it all along and take credit for it and also take away a wedge issue from his opponent.  JDN will of course scream with delight the brilliance of his politics, the independents won't have a clue and it will possibly work to help save his behind next November:

****Obama to pitch lower corporate tax
He'll likely propose a rate closer to an average seen in peer nations

+-WASHINGTON  — President Barack Obama will call for cutting the top 35 percent corporate tax rate as early as this month, according to two sources close to the administration.

The president is likely to propose a rate closer to an average of that seen in peer nations, the sources said.

This would jibe with remarks made last year by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, who suggested the United States should be moving to a rate more in line with its major trading partners in the high 20-percent range.

Obama outlined tax measures - including closing tax loopholes for companies that move facilities and jobs overseas - in his State of the Union speech in January, and will lay out principles for revamping corporate taxes by the end of February, a senior administration official said.

"We will talk more before the end of the month on what corporate tax reform would look like," the official said on Friday, confirming that it would include a call for "lower rates."

Facing a potentially tough presidential re-election challenge this November, Obama will propose cutting the rate following the release of his 2013 budget plan on Monday, February 13, according to the sources, who were not authorized to speak on the record.

While he spent a big part of his January speech to Congress criticizing businesses for moving jobs overseas, Obama said that "companies that choose to stay in America get hit with one of the highest tax rates in the world."

Only Japan has a steeper corporate tax rate than the United States among industrialized countries, though other countries make up the revenue with a value-added tax, he said. The United States does not have a VAT.

An overhaul of the corporate tax system is extremely unlikely in an election year, but the president's proposal could be an olive branch to the business community to show that he agrees with them on one key aspect of tax reform.

"I think what he will end up doing is saying, 'For years folks have been asking for a lower corporate rate, and here it is - what do you think?,'" said Jared Bernstein, a former economic advisor to Vice President Joe Biden.

Advertise | AdChoicesObama's Treasury Department was close to releasing a revamp of corporate taxes last year, but pulled back after business opposition, according to a former official.

Republican Rep. Dave Camp, the chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives' tax-law writing Ways and Means committee, has set a goal of trimming the top 35 percent corporate rate to 25 percent.

Gene Sperling, director of Obama's National Economic Council, has told reporters that the president will be laying out "principles" for corporate tax reform close to the budget release.

Obama's corporate plan will also include a new minimum tax on foreign profits earned in low tax countries - an unpopular idea in the corporate community.****

3178  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants & interesting thought pieces on: February 10, 2012, 05:16:43 PM
I forgot about the fact that no planes bringing arms to Israel were allowed to land in Europe during the '73 war.

I wonder if the diffference now is Saudi will step up and provide extra oil to Europe.  Not holding my breath.

The Saudis have to know Iran is the threat and the Jews are not. 

3179  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Health Thread (nutrition, medical, longevity, etc) on: February 09, 2012, 02:37:43 PM
"Kudos to CCP for warnings given regarding Lap Band Surgery some time ago."

Thanks JDN.

I don't remember posting on this board about that.

Unfortunately outcomes for lap band are very disappointing.  *Most* will gain the weight back and many do have problems later on.

The full bariatric restrictive/absorptive procedures are better.   Yet I was recently surprised to find that contrary to expectations patients are not necessarily living a lot longer by what one would think is a life saving procedure.  I think it depends on their co - morbid condidtions to start with. 

I will try and see if I can find more recent information that I can post here.  I don't recall the latest details.

Like the complete turnaround on PSA testing sometimes the longer one studies "outcomes" the more we realize we may not be doing as much good as thought.

That is one of the theoretical concepts behind electronic medical record data.   That we will know more about long term effects of what we do and don't do.   The jury is out on this.  Overall I am not a big fan of it.

Yet the train has left the station like it or not. 
3180  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Internet and related technology on: February 08, 2012, 04:10:09 PM
"the Recording Industry Association of America"

The pot calling the kettle black.

What a joke.
3181  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Anti-semitism & Jews on: February 08, 2012, 04:04:21 PM
great story - thanks.
3182  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: February 08, 2012, 10:33:48 AM
It is still very early but I am getting nervous looking at Mitt not being able to overcome the MSM slant about him.

It was never a big problem that Kerry was the richest man in the Senate when he ran.

All of a sudden we hear the MSM tagging Mitt with the he is the 1%  guy and suddenly that is a reason that disqualifies him for President.   

I am not sure that the Republicans are at this point doing themselves a favor by having Santorum running and Gingrich, well I am not sure wht he is accomplishing.

Mark Levin who I really like is WRONG if he thinks having someone who can take a stand - and probably LOSE - is better than a "moderate" like Mitt who can have a much better chance of winning - is the right course.  That is exactly the wrong course.

The prospect of another Sharon Angle who unbelievably lost to Reid in Nevada - occuring in the Presidential race -

this makes me lose sleep a lot more than wringing my hands about the world's poor.  There were always poor people, there always will be and the poor in this country have it far better than most if not all places in the world.
3183  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of the left on: February 07, 2012, 10:33:19 AM
"Obama IMHO is one of the most honest"

Folks, this is what we are up against.

The 40-45% who will always vote for this guy no matter what.

Lying is no longer lying (unless one is Republican), spinning is no longer lying it is just politics and "they all do it", and indeed one cannot even call someone a liar when in fact they clearly are as that is now poltically incorrect and worse than calling someone a slang bigotted name.

Last night I noticed CNN calling Obama on his "reversal" on PACS.  If it was a republican it would have been called "flip-flop".

I didn't see the show but I assume they had several guests essentially explaining why it is really NOT a reversal or at the very least how he was driven to do it and is still true to his word etc... 
3184  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Middle East: War, Peace, and SNAFU, TARFU, and FUBAR on: February 06, 2012, 12:58:48 PM
"For that we apologize?  And blame ourselves??"

According to Ronbama yes.

Amazing despite all our blood sweats and tears many Arabs still despise us.

Not all.  I remember one Iraqi - American who escaped Saddam who after the US invasion to get rid of Saddam proclaimed to me, ''there is a God!"
OTOH he is an Iraqi Christain - this is the big difference I think.
It seems like th Christains in the middle east whom I have met over the years, whether they be from Egypt, Lebanon, Iraq....
are far more friendly to the US and even Israel/Jews.

I have many Muslim patients and being a doctor in NJ of course work alongside many Muslim doctors (many from Pakistan).

I generally don't discuss politics.   Can't take the chance for obvious reasons.  The same reason why celebrities who want to market themselves to everyone should keep their political views to themselves.

Once one of the doctors who is from Pakistan told me after his son was almost killed by fundamentalists in Pakistan that the radical Islmaist are "crazy".  And in Pakistan they used to concentrate in the West but arehave moved all over Paakistan and one never knows who they are  so it is nearly impossible to know the motives of anyone you are dealing with.

Kind of the same thing we seem to hear from US forces dealing the Pakistanis - some work with us and spy for us while others do just the opposite.
3185  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / africa on: February 06, 2012, 10:56:12 AM
Ndubuisi Ekekwe

Ndubuisi Ekekwe is a founder of the non-profit African Institution of Technology. He recently edited Nanotechnology and Microelectronics: Global Diffusion, Economics, and Policy.

Africa Is Open for Business
9:24 AM Monday February 6, 2012
by Ndubuisi Ekekwe | Comments (2)

Angola is offering financial aid to debt-ridden Portugal. The Economist recently declared Africa a "hopeful continent" after years of writing it off as "hopeless." More than a million Chinese are in Africa exploring opportunities in villages and cities. The continent is attracting top global brands and has a growing middle class. There's a sense of upbeat optimism with possibilities that seem endless. As the lions roar from Kenya to Ghana, and cheetahs from South Africa to Mali, young Africans are unleashing their entrepreneurial energy and most governments are offering stronger leadership, a more business-friendly economy, and less corruption.

But, Africa is not an isolated island in the world, and ongoing uncertainty with some of its trading partners could imperil any sustainable progress. A trade shock is just around the corner, as the continent remains reliant on a mineral-based economy. And new, rosy economic statistics have not managed to stop strikes, riots, and other protests, which are the result of the continued reality of economic inequality. What's more, Africa is complex, fragmented and multicultural. What works in Nigeria is not guaranteed to work in Kenya.

But, none of this should keep businesses from expanding into African markets. The international community should not ignore a growing market of roughly a billion people. Africa needs about $50 billion to meet its development goals over the next few years, and it needs the help of the international community to tackle the vicious cycle of poverty, disease and hunger in Africa today.

African economies are growing, and millions have moved into the middle class category within the last decade. And Africans are buying things, from iPads to Porsches. Africans are also becoming global players, with some of their banks — such as United Bank for Africa and Guaranty Trust Bank — opening offices in the U.S., France Flag Like ReplyReply Real-time updating is paused. (Resume)
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Angola is offering financial aid to debt-ridden Portugal. The Economist recently declared Africa a "hopeful continent" after years of writing it off as "hopeless." More than a million Chinese are in Africa exploring opportunities in villages and cities. The continent is attracting top global brands and has a growing middle class. There's a sense of upbeat optimism with possibilities that seem endless. As the lions roar from Kenya to Ghana, and cheetahs from South Africa to Mali, young Africans are unleashing their entrepreneurial energy and most governments are offering stronger leadership, a more business-friendly economy, and less corruption.
But, Africa is not an isolated island in the world, and ongoing uncertainty with some of its trading partners could imperil any sustainable progress. A trade shock is just around the corner, as the continent remains reliant on a mineral-based economy. And new, rosy economic statistics have not managed to stop strikes, riots, and other protests, which are the result of the continued reality of economic inequality. What's more, Africa is complex, fragmented and multicultural. What works in Nigeria is not guaranteed to work in Kenya.
But, none of this should keep businesses from expanding into African markets. The international community should not ignore a growing market of roughly a billion people. Africa needs about $50 billion to meet its development goals over the next few years, and it needs the help of the international community to tackle the vicious cycle of poverty, disease and hunger in Africa today.
African economies are growing, and millions have moved into the middle class category within the last decade. And Africans are buying things, from iPads to Porsches. Africans are also becoming global players, with some of their banks — such as United Bank for Africa and Guaranty Trust Bank — opening offices in the U.S., France and the U.K. Investments in the continent will grow, and the following areas remain the most promising:
Energy: Despite the abundance of resources like solar, oil, water and gas, most Africans still have no reliable energy supply. The challenge has been the cost-intensive, long-term reward nature of these projects in unpredictable political systems. It's simply too risky for businesses to invest in this sector. Minerals: As the world economy recovers, African minerals such as crude oil and gold will remain important to the global economy, as demand increases. Investing in extracting and processing these minerals will remain a lucrative venture. Agriculture: Africa is unfed in a continent with good, arable land. Africa imports its food, despite the fact that it produces enough to feed its citizens. The problem is that harvests are poorly managed due to a lack of preservation techniques, which means that much of the food goes to waste and Africa goes hungry even after bumper harvests. Food production, processing, and preservation will remain a profitable growth area. Technology: Africa has not attracted capacity-building investments, such as R&D centers and hi-tech manufacturing. In the coming years, as global buyers become more sophisticated, companies that differentiate their products within local markets will have a strong competitive advantage. Africa is no exception. For example, telecoms can be profitable in Africa not for selling airtime, but for powering value-added services such as mobile banking and mobile business, among others, that address the needs of this unique population. Four things will drive the African economy in this decade:
African diasporas: The diasporas who have acquired world-class skills with international networks will drive sustainable African development. As the global economy recovers from recession, their impact will continue to expand. Education: Education is a weak link in the development of the continent. Major foreign investment has not come to the sector owing to low return, but some African governments are working hard to change that. For instance, Rwanda and Carnegie Mellon University have teamed up to offer a graduate-level program in East Africa. The new campus will train talent for companies who want to make products closer to Africans. Better education will also serve to advance the entrepreneurial ecosystem on the continent. Intra-trade: The trade route to colonial links will become weaker as these nations become richer and make choices purely based on market factors. For instance, Cameroon could choose South Africa, rather than France, to process some of its food. Infrastructure: Though the regional economic communities (RECs) have not lead to monetary unions, Africa is poised to benefit from the integration of its various economies, and can learn from the euro zone crisis when strategizing about its own single currency program (PDF). The RECs will form free trade areas, which will help modernize infrastructure, among other things. Africa's biggest risk is its political system. New governments have cancelled mine contracts and leases executed by predecessors. The continent faces challenges if it cannot prepare for its post-mineral era. As I drive by dead mines that generated billions of dollars of wealth around the world, but left no sustainable community development behind, I have to wonder: What will the domino effect be if the continent cannot transmute effectively into a post-mineral era? Africa needs a redesign of its economy towards a knowledge-driven one. New industries remain underfunded and quality startups are scarce.
Africa is open for business, and tomorrow's global leaders should understand both the risks and the opportunities that are available here. There is the potential for corporations to make billions of dollars in profits in Africa. But, much more importantly, contributing to a strong and sustainable Africa could just be the next generation of global leaders' greatest legacy.
3186  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Middle East: War, Peace, and SNAFU, TARFU, and FUBAR on: February 06, 2012, 09:24:52 AM
"CCP, you are thinking in terms of security risk to the US, Israel and rest of the world.  He is thinking in terms of his own approval rate on the 'Arab street'.  Completely different concerns."

Good point.  They are different.  However I am of the view Obama does indeed feel that if their brand of democracy is a fundamentalist Islamic democracy then that is their choice and perfectly ok with him.

I don't think his aplogizing around the world for the US was entirely just to impress the Arab street.

I liken his view to Ron Paul's in this regard - the US should balme itself for much of it's overseas problems.
I don't disagree with Paul on domdestic policy but do not accept this foreign policy view which I think is what Obama thinks - though he plays more middle of the road for his own polical purposes.

But then again I certainly am no scholar on these matters cheesy
3187  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Obama miscalculation? Not so fast on: February 05, 2012, 11:11:23 AM
Mort thinks OBama miscalculated.  Perhaps.  I am not so sure.  Au contraire, I think Obama is quite content with  democracies controlled by Fundamentalist Islamists in the Middle East.   Indeed WHAT evidence do we have that he would be the least bit disturbed by this?

US News and World Report -

***Barack Obama's Middle East Miscalculation
In Egypt, we are witnessing the democratic election of a dictatorship
By Mortimer B. Zuckerman

January 20, 2012 RSS Feed Print A little-noticed event gives a grim insight into what is really happening in the Middle East. The euphoria of the "Arab Spring," the instant Twitter-style transition from dictatorship to democracy, is seen for what it is: an illusion. Yes, the dictatorship of one kind has gone, but democracy in the sense we understand it is, shall we say, somewhat delayed.

There have been any number of disappointments. The event that should give us pause about the underlying forces was obscured by the Christmas holiday. In mid-December, violent Islamic Salafist extremists burned down Cairo's famous scientific Institute d'Egypte, established by Napoleon in the late 18th century during a French invasion. The institute housed some 200,000 original and rare books, maps, archaeological objects, and rare nature studies from Egypt and the Middle East, the result of generations of work by researchers, mostly Western scholars. Zein Abdel-Hady, who runs Egypt's main library, remarked, "This is equal to the burning of Galileo's books."

The Salafists, who hate all things Western, no doubt saw their vandalism as an act of defiance against the West, destroying the precious documents of historical Egypt that were so intimately connected to the West. They are either too ignorant and/or too careless to realize that they were destroying their own heritage from Pharaonic Egypt.

[Read Mort Zuckerman and other columnists in U.S. News Weekly, now available on iPad.]

Last year in the Middle East was the most dramatic it has known for many. The series of uprisings in Egypt were marked by the emergence of Islamic forces from years of suppression. They scored dramatic political gains in Tunisia and Libya, too. Leaders who perceived themselves as invincible fell, one after the other, the most dramatic being the end of the rule of Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak.

The United States could not decide whether to support a regime that was disagreeable, but yet a strategic ally, or abandon it because it ignored fundamental American values like freedom and democracy (which means not just fair elections and majority rule, but respect for the rule of law, equal rights for women, tolerance of minorities, and freedom of expression). Alas, with the collapse of the Mubarak regime, the cause of freedom in Egypt is set back since, in the battle between the army and the conservative Islamic extreme, the Islamic bloc won by an overwhelming majority, with first place taken by the Muslim Brotherhood and second place grabbed by the Salafi extremists. By the time the elections are finished, there is likely to be at least a two thirds majority for an Islamist constitution. What we are witnessing is a democratic election of a dictatorship.

[See a collection of political cartoons on the turmoil in the Middle East.]

The White House completely miscalculated in Egypt, as it did in Gaza. It seemed only to care for the mechanics of the electoral process rather than the meaning of the results. Washington vacillated on who its Egyptian allies really are. We had long shared with the Egyptian military understandings on national security, ours with an eye to maintaining peace in the region. That relationship is now pretty much lost.

Americans, in their perennial innocence, have demanded that the generals turn over power to the civilians whomever they may be, just as they did to the Persian shah, just as they did after Israel's pullout from Gaza when they hadn't a clue about the danger posed by Hamas. Our ingenuous attitude has been tantamount to handing over Egypt on a silver platter to the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafists, who ironically are coming into power as democrats.

Their new foreign policy will include opening the blockaded border with Gaza, ending normal relations with Israel, and opening them with Hamas and Iran in such a way as to alter the balance of power in the region against U.S. interests. Indeed, one of the few things that unites the political parties in Egypt is an anti-Western foreign policy. Cairo has already allowed Iran's warships to transit the Suez Canal; failed to protect pipelines supplying energy to Israel and Jordan; endorsed the union of Hamas and Fatah; and hosted conferences in support of "the resistance," that is, terrorism.

The United States forgot the lessons of Iraq, namely, that it is easier to remove an Arab-state dictator by military means than it is to alter the internal balance of power and create a solid foundation for human rights. Had it kept the Iraq experience in mind, the Obama administration would have thought a lot harder and ensured that there was a foundation for genuine democracy in Egypt before demanding Mubarak's immediate resignation.

[See photos of protests in Egypt.]

The Islamic groups can credit their success to better resources and organization, but they also have deep ties with Egypt's religiously rooted public. Their work with social and economic welfare programs during the country's long history of economic hardship gave them wide popularity among the illiterate poor. But as Robert Satloff, the executive director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, has put it, "The Brotherhood is not, as some suggest, simply an Egyptian version of the March of Dimes—that is, a social welfare organization whose goals are fundamentally humanitarian." It is a "profoundly political organization," he added, that seeks to reorder Egyptian society along Islamist lines and "transform Egypt into a very different place." As the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood put it in a sermon, "Arab and Muslim regimes are betraying their people by failing to confront the Muslims' real enemies, not only Israel but also the United States." The sermon was titled: "The U.S. is now experiencing the beginning of its end."

In six months a new president of Egypt will be elected. This is important because the presidency has long been the supreme locus of power. After the presidential election, which is supposed to occur before June, authority will pass to the newly elected leadership, and at that stage, the army is supposed to exit. The army's leaders seemingly intend to continue to play a central role, but this may lead to a clash between the army and the Islamic bloc.

[Read Jessica Rettig: Expected Win by Egypt's Islamists Poses Dilemma for U.S. Policy.]

The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) is doing everything in its power to avoid transferring full control to civilian hands in order to retain the dominant status of the army, whatever may emerge. But army leaders are now seen as trying to steal the achievements of the revolution—and for the worst reasons, namely, their corrupt control of economic assets and the perks they have accumulated over the decades.

This does not bode well for America and its policy of deposing dictators and replacing them with "democratic regimes." As collateral damage, Saudi Arabia, once America's closest ally in the Middle East, no longer sees the United States as reliable, and the Saudi king's willingness to listen to the Obama administration has evaporated.

The new regime in Egypt will face challenges. For one, it will have to stabilize the economy. For that, experts say, it will need tourism; maritime traffic through the Suez Canal; gas sales to neighbors; and Western investment, not to mention American economic and military aid. These probably are the main barriers to a renewed confrontation with Israel, for this vital aid would then be stopped.

[Read Mort Zuckerman: For Israel, a Two-State Proposal Starts With Security.]

Democracy in Egypt without the Muslim Brotherhood may be impossible, but so is democracy under its leadership. It is one thing for the Muslim Brotherhood to run in an election; it's another to imagine what they will do if they gain power, for the Islamists will replace secular dictatorship with Islamic dictatorship, leaving only the army to prevent the establishment of an Islamic state. The young men and women of Tahrir Square toppled the regime. Then along came a second wave, the Muslim Brotherhood, whose founder, Hassan al-Banna, once declared, "It is the nature of Islam to dominate, not to be dominated." Now we will see how the Egyptian military faces its dilemma. If it holds fire, it will seal its fate, and the Islamic forces will take over by default. If army leaders decide to open fire, they will be classified as murderous dictators.

Of course, images of Mubarak on a hospital gurney in a metal cage in a Cairo courthouse, with the Robes­pierran prosecutor now demanding the death sentence, could provoke the SCAF to reconsider its eagerness to return to the barracks and hand power to the new Islamic leadership.

The West faces a dilemma: If it confronts the Islamists, it will confirm the Brotherhood's claim that the West is conspiring to undermine the religious identity of the Muslim world. If it does not, it will ignore the forces within Arab society that yearn for genuine democracy and Western forms of government. At the very least, the United States should withhold economic or diplomatic support to Arab states that follow the path of political Islam. Cairo will now be painted in Islamic colors, but this is not a clash between the secular and the religious. It is a clash between freedom and tyranny.

•Read the U.S. News debate on foreign aid.
•See photos of unrest in Libya.

•See an opinion slide show of 5 ways Arab governments resist democracy.
Tags:Mideast peace, Obama administration, Egypt
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I'm sorry but I don't understand how Mr. Zuckerman can write about freedom and tyranny just one week after he celebrated Fidel Castro, a dictator and tyrant (in Zuckerman's words, "Fidel is certainly at work and active and still an inspiration for Cubans").

Mr. Zuckerman, please go and have a hookah with Salafists, and tell us about the wonderful inspiration they provide to people of Egypt. As much as it is tragic, the Salafists, unlike Castro, were freely elected.

Pavel of AZ 1:32AM January 31, 2012

[report comment]

I'm sorry but I don't understand how Mr. Zuckerman can write about freedom and tyranny just one week after he celebrated Fidel Castro, a dictator and tyrant (in Zuckerman's words, "Fidel is certainly at work and active and still an inspiration for Cubans").

Mr. Zuckerman, please go and have a hookah with the chief Salafist, and then tell us about the wonderful inspiration they provide to people of Egypt. As much as it is tragic, the Salafists, unlike Castro, were freely elected.

Pavel of AZ 1:29AM January 31, 2012

[report comment]

Some might argue that it wasn't a miscalculation at all, but a desired effect....

His advocacy and passive assistance for his beloved"Arab spring" was at the least naive, knowing full well that the "Muslim brotherhood " was waiting in the wings cheering for the same thing.

Don L of CT 12:06PM January 24, 2012****

3188  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Andrew Cuomo jr. (future President?) on: February 04, 2012, 12:21:34 PM

Coumo will be the Democratic Presidential pick in 2016 (if not Hillary).

From the Economist.  Even radio host Bob Grant is "pleasantly surprised" how Cuomo is doing:

***Next, walk on water
A New York governor is actually governing
Jan 28th 2012 | NEW YORK | from the print edition
Among the illustrious
FOR four years New York was adrift. When Eliot Spitzer, a crusading lawyer, became governor in 2007, his uncompromising ways caused political gridlock in Albany, the state capital. Just over a year later, he was caught frolicking with a prostitute and resigned. His successor, David Paterson, was affable enough, but too weak to push the state legislature to balance the books. When Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat like his predecessors, handily won the 2010 governor’s race on a promise to “rebuild the government, restore competence, restore trust, [and] get the people of this state believing once again”, New Yorkers gave a cynical snort.

But Mr Cuomo has had an extraordinary year. In the first six months of his term he could point to three historic achievements. First, he balanced the budget: not only bringing spending under control—filling a $10 billion hole and nudging the public-sector unions to make concessions worth $450m—but putting mechanisms in place to control spending in future. He even got the cantankerous legislature to agree. In June Mr Cuomo brought in a cap on property taxes, in a state which the Tax Foundation ranks as the sixth-most-taxed in the country. Robert Ward of the Rockefeller Institute called it “the biggest change in New York’s fiscal policy since the creation of Medicaid”, almost 50 years ago.

Then, also in June, Mr Cuomo signed a bill legalising same-sex marriage, having worked hard to drive the bill through the Republican-controlled state Senate. In December he got bipartisan backing to change the income-tax code, which he says will generate $1.9 billion in additional revenue for the state. It sets in place the lowest tax rate for the middle class in 58 years, while—according to Mr Cuomo’s opponents and the Manhattan Institute—leaving the tax burden on the richest at its highest level since 1986.

Still, most New Yorkers are not upset with him. Indeed, they rate him very highly. He learnt much about Albany politics at the knee of his father, Mario, a former governor. He is clever and determined. His most noticeable flaw is his arrogance, which he has tried to keep in check, but which slipped out in November when he remarked: “I am the government.”

In that case, his cockiness was accurate. There is not much transparency in how he is getting the results, notes Gerald Benjamin of the State University of New York at New Paltz. Disappointingly, it is still three men (Mr Cuomo, the assembly Speaker and the Senate president) in a room making all the decisions.

And there are some big ones ahead. Mr Cuomo is promising to veto any redistricting plan from the legislature which does not come from an independent commission. He wants to expand gambling in the state, infuriating the Indian nations who run its casinos at the moment. Rather bizarrely, he wants to build America’s biggest convention centre in Queens. And he plans to make a start on pension reform.

The thorniest issue he faces is fracking, a controversial drilling technique in which high-pressure water and chemicals are pumped into a bore-hole to ease the extraction of natural gas. New York has a moratorium on the practice, but new rules from the state environment department may allow it. Gas exploration could bring in badly needed jobs and money, but opponents worry that fracking may contaminate the drinking water. If Mr Cuomo can sort that tangle out, says Doug Muzzio, a political scientist at Baruch College, “the next thing he’s going to do is walk on water.”***

3189  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: February 03, 2012, 02:32:22 PM
I think it obvious this is rampant.

Why don't they take another step and ask which party they vote for?

Maybe Romney will get tough with this.  He suposedly has the most strict immigration stance of the field.

Yet I don't hold my breath.  It is really remarkable how this country will sit back and allow ourselves to be walked all over.
3190  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Still wishfull magical thinking on: February 03, 2012, 02:03:50 PM
Analysis: Media frenzy on Iran contradicts reality By YAAKOV KATZ 01/31/2012 02:58 Media preoccupation with Iran contradicts new reality forged by sanctions.  By REUTERS
Here is an example of just how tightly wound the media is when it comes to anything related to Iran these days.

On Sunday night, CBS’s 60 Minutes aired a piece on US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta in which he said it would take about a year for Iran to build a nuclear bomb from the moment it makes the decision to do so.

Related: •'Iran renaming ships to circumvent sanctions'•Inspectors arrive in Iran on day of oil ban voteAll of the Israeli news sites – and several international ones as well – went wild. Some put up Panetta’s remarks as their top story leaving it there for a number of hours. What they didn’t realize though is that Panetta made the remarks in December when he was interviewed by anchorman Scott Pelley, and that the same comment on Iran was aired already back then and picked up widely by the same media.

On the other hand, one could ask what difference does it make if the media recycles the same exact story that it wrote a month ago especially now, when chances for an Israeli strike against Iran in the coming year are increasing as Israeli journalist Ronen Bergman predicted in his recent piece in The New York Times Magazine.

The truth is that the pace of the reports coming out of the American media in recent weeks about Iran is almost breathtaking.

First was Bergman’s piece, which opened with the dramatic description of Defense Minister Ehud Barak peering out the window of his luxury apartment in the Akirov Towers in Tel Aviv at the lights below while warning that Iran’s ultimate goal is to destroy the State of Israel.

Then came a report in the same paper that Israel cast doubt on the notion that a strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities would set off a catastrophic war. The message – it can be done and won’t be so bad.

Next, was The Washington Post report that the US was sending a floating commando base to the Persian Gulf just a week after sending an aircraft carrier through the volatile Strait of Hormuz.

Contrary to popular thinking though, Israel has yet to make an official decision on whether or not it will attack Iran, and there is already some talk within the defense establishment’s upper echelons of the possibility that due to the increased sanctions – particularly the European’s oil embargo – such a standoff might even be postponed, possibly sometime into next year.

In general, Israel’s strategy has been the same since it began the saber-rattling and beating of the war drums in late October ahead of the International Atomic Energy Agency report on Iran: threaten to use military force in order to ultimately not to have to.

The strategy employed by Israel was disclosed by former Mossad chief Meir Dagan in a US diplomatic cable released by Wikileaks in late 2010 but still for the most part remains the same with the focus still on sanctions, diplomacy, covert measures and, of course, on the credible threat to use military force.

The current state of Iran’s nuclear program is such that Tehran has mastered the fuel cycle and uranium enrichment process and has developed all of the necessary components it would require to build a bomb. All it needs to do now is decide to built it.

The question is if they will.

The defense establishment hopes that the sanctions, covert acts and the credible threat of action by the US and Israel will succeed in delaying Ayatollah Ali Khamenei from having to make that decision in the near future. If it does, then the question that would appear on the Israeli government’s table – to attack or not to – will also be pushed off.

The objective of a military strike – whether launched by Israel or the US – would be similar to that of the sanctions and the covert measures taken by the West. According to most assessments, no matter who attacks, the damage will set the Iranians back just for a number of years, during which time the regime will likely be able to rebuild its capabilities and have more domestic legitimacy to do so.

While Israel is satisfied with the world’s continued crackdown on Iran, it is still not enough. Iran is continuing to enrich uranium and to install centrifuges in the new heavily- fortified Fordow facility near Qom.

The first way to escalate would be for the EU to enact the ban on Iranian oil immediately and not to wait until July. The second step would be for the US and the EU to impose direct sanctions on the Central Bank of Iran, a move that would definitely cripple the Iranian economy.

While skeptical, Israel believes that only this combination would succeed in getting the Iranians to make the decision on their own to stop. The rationale is quite simple – the Iranians have been defying the West for years while they worked on the bomb. Now, they are so close that it will be difficult to get them to simply walk away.

This does not mean that if it comes down to it, Israel is not prepared to take military action. According to the slew of recent reports, the contrary is probably true. Either way, it will do everything it can to delay that day from arriving.
3191  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: February 03, 2012, 01:29:05 PM
"Imagine the MEDIA uproar if this was President Michele Bachmann"

Yes, it is frustrating how the media will knit pick with anything any Republican will say and ignore all the deceit and lies an mispeaks from Obama.  Escept for Drudge, Fox and talk radio.

Without them we would have never heard of Wright, Ayres, Alinsky, or any of it.  Th public would have been totally decieved about Obama's nature.

Every SINGLE day we hear CNN etc going off on every tiny minute thing a Repub says in great detail.  For ex. the new thing is Romney's not concerned for the poor thing.  Totally taken out of context.  Truthfully I am not losing sleep over the poor and YES they do have safety net as Mitt pointed out when one hears the whole statement.  Yet the MSM will run with this.  There are clearly too many Dem party operatives in the MSM who will eagerly daily bash Repubs every chance they get - the jurn-off liist

3192  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / There is no question disability claims are up on: February 03, 2012, 10:29:26 AM
A lot fo these people can work.
This definitely is one factor that skews the unemployment rate.   Federal disability people have probably been advised to be lenient when assessing any given person for disability.
So many of these same people smoke some drink yet and expect a job that will pay a lot.  They are only half heartedly seeking work if at all or just give lip service.  They will vote Democrat.

***Disabled, but Looking for WorkBy MOTOKO RICH
Published: April 6, 2011
BATESVILLE, Ark. — Christopher Howard suffers from herniated discs in his back, knee problems and hepatitis C. As a result, Social Security sends him $574 every month and will until he reaches retirement age — unless he can find a job.

 Jacob Slaton for The New York Times
Christopher Howard, 36, with his wife, Darlene. “I would feel better if I worked and made my own money,” he said.
Moving From Disability Benefits to Jobs
A study finds the earnings ceiling for those receiving disability checks from Social Security creates a “powerful disincentive to work.”
Jacob Slaton for The New York Times
Christopher Howard and his wife live on his $574 a month disability check from Social Security. He is confident he will find a job.
Though he has been collecting disability checks for three years, Mr. Howard, who is just 36, desperately wants to work, recalling dredging for gravel rather fondly and repairing cell towers less fondly.

“It makes me feel like I am doing something,” said Mr. Howard, a burly man with a honey-colored goatee. “Instead of just being a bum, pretty much.”

Programs intended to steer people with more moderate disabilities back into jobs have managed to take only a small sliver of beneficiaries off the Social Security rolls.

Yet, at a time when employers are struggling to create spots for the 13.5 million people actively looking for jobs, helping people like Mr. Howard find employment — or keeping them working in the first place — is becoming increasingly important to the nation’s fiscal health.

For the last five years, Social Security has paid out more in benefits to disabled workers than it has taken in from payroll taxes. Government actuaries forecast that the disability trust fund will run out of money by 2018.

About 8.2 million people collected disabled worker benefits totaling $115 billion last year, up from 5 million a decade earlier. About one in 21 Americans from age 25 to 64 receive the benefit, according to an analysis of Social Security data by Prof. Mark G. Duggan, an economist at the University of Maryland, compared with one in 30 a little over a decade ago. In Mr. Howard’s home state of Arkansas, the figure is one in 12, among the highest in the nation.

Along with monthly checks that are based on the worker’s earnings history, beneficiaries generally qualify for Medicare — otherwise reserved for those over 65 — two years after being admitted to the disability rolls.

There are several reasons for the increase in beneficiaries. Baby boomers are hitting the age when health starts to deteriorate, and more people are claiming back and other muscular-skeletal ailments and mental illnesses than claimed those as disabilities a generation ago. Lawyers who solicit clients on television and on the Internet probably play a role. And administrative law judges say pressure to process cases sometimes leads to more disability claims being accepted.

But given the difficult job market, some economists say they believe that an increasing number of people rely on disability benefits as a kind of shadow safety net.

The program was designed to help workers who are “permanently and totally disabled,” and administration officials say that it is an important lifeline for many people who simply cannot work at all.

But Social Security officials can take into consideration a claimant’s age, skills and ability to retrain when determining eligibility. So one question is: How many of these beneficiaries could work, given the right services and workplace accommodations? Social Security officials say relatively few.

Nicole Maestas, an economist at the Rand Corporation, has examined Social Security data with fellow economist Kathleen J. Mullen, and concluded that in the absence of benefits, about 18 percent of recipients could work and earn at least $12,000 a year, the threshold at which benefits are suspended.

Other economists say that even among those denied benefits, a majority fail to go back to work, in part because of medical problems and a lack of marketable skills.

“In an atmosphere in which there is a concern about fiscal problems, it’s always easy to point the finger at groups and say, ‘These people should be working,’ ” said Prof. John Bound, an economist at the University of Michigan, “exaggerating the degree to which the disability insurance program is broken.”

Even if claimants have more ambiguous medical cases, once they are granted disability benefits, they generally continue to collect. Of the 567,395 medical reviews conducted on beneficiaries in 2009, Social Security expects less than 1 percent to leave because of improved health.

The benefits have no expiration date, like the current 99-week limit for collecting unemployment. And because many people spend years appealing denials and building their medical case before being granted benefits, their skills often atrophy and gaps open on their résumés, making it more difficult for them to get back to work.

Beneficiaries, who also fear losing health care coverage, may view their checks as birds in the hand. “Even if you’re taking just $800 or $900 a month, that’s better than nothing,” said Bruce Growick, an associate professor of rehabilitation services at Ohio State University.

Shortly after Mr. Howard’s benefit checks started arriving, he received a four-by-six-inch card from Social Security informing him of services to help him return to work. Confused by the bureaucratic language and fearing the loss of medical coverage, he discarded it. When he called the local office, he said a staff member did not seem to know what his rights were or what help was available.

“I thought it is just better to get what we are getting,” he said.

In fact, Social Security offers disability beneficiaries some incentive to ease back into the work force. For nine months after starting a job, they can earn any amount without threatening their benefits. For another three years, if their income falls below $1,000 a month, they can immediately receive full benefits again. And they can keep Medicare coverage for eight and a half years after going back to work, something few beneficiaries may realize.

In 1999, Congress passed a law authorizing the Ticket to Work program, which offers beneficiaries practical help with a job search. Social Security also waives medical reviews for those who participate.

So far, the program has had little success. Out of 12.5 million disabled workers and those who receive benefits for the disabled poor, only 13,656 returned to work over the last two and a half years, with less than a third of them earning enough to drop the benefits.

A Social Security spokesman noted that some other beneficiaries had returned to work without using its Ticket to Work program. In 2009, 32,445 recipients left the benefit rolls because they were earning enough in jobs.

Officials say they have streamlined and simplified the Ticket to Work program. But even with more awareness, they say not enough people could go back to work to make a difference in the disability trust fund.

“We could make this program exponentially more successful and it wouldn’t be enough to dramatically improve the solvency picture,” said Michael J. Astrue, the commissioner of Social Security. “You do it because work — for people who can work — gives them dignity and improves their economic condition.”

In Batesville, a small manufacturing town about 80 miles northeast of Little Rock, Ark., Mr. Howard and his wife, Darlene, who is also out of work, scrape by on his monthly $574 check. They live in a garage behind the home owned by Mr. Howard’s parents. Inside the forest green shack, which has no running water, they have crammed some shabby furniture and a tiny galley kitchen.

Mr. Howard, who went to a community college for only six weeks and quit before becoming a certified nursing aide, landed work over the years through friends and family. One job was building and repairing cell towers in Illinois. In 2000, during a climb up a tower, Mr. Howard fell more than 20 feet before a pull cord stopped him. He quit on the spot, but ignored the back pain.

He moved back to Arkansas, met Ms. Howard and began working for a company that dredged the White River for gravel used to make asphalt and concrete. He operated 25- to 40-pound pumps, drove a forklift and repaired plant vehicles, earning $8.50 an hour, or about $22,000 a year with overtime.

The job kept him outside every day, and sometimes he fished for bass and trout on the way upriver. “I would still be doing that job if I could,” he said on a cool March afternoon as he sat in a booth at McDonald’s, sharing refills of Dr Pepper with his wife.

Six years ago, his working life came to a halt. While fixing a dump truck, he began vomiting blood. He was rushed to the hospital, where his gallbladder was removed, because of complications of the hepatitis C he had contracted from a tattoo in his early 20s.

Mr. Howard, who said he spent much of his 20s hanging out with the “wrong crowd,” admits he played a role in his poor health. “I was living pretty heavily on the weekends,” he said.

After the surgery, doctors determined he had herniated discs. He tried to go back to work but found he could not perform many tasks, like heavy lifting, and was dismissed.

His initial application for disability benefits was denied. He tried going back to work, hanging dry wall, but pain stopped him. Eventually, he hired a lawyer. After three years and three tries, he won benefits.

Last September, he met Shawn Blasczczyk, a coordinator of the Ticket to Work program with the White River Area Agency on Aging in Ash Flat, Ark., who had given a presentation at an employment office where Mr. Howard’s father worked. After learning he had some protections while searching for work, Mr. Howard decided to try.

Advocates for the disabled say Social Security makes lackluster efforts to promote the Ticket to Work program. All new beneficiaries should have an appointment to “talk to a benefits counselor about returning to work and how it will affect you,” said Lori Gentry, a care manager at the White River agency, a nonprofit that works with disabled beneficiaries. “I don’t think that is a whole lot to ask to get a monthly check.”

Some advocates recommend intervention before people receive benefits to try to help the disabled stay in jobs in the first place.

In a proposal for the Center for American Progress and the Brookings Institution’s Hamilton Project, Professor Duggan of the University of Maryland and Prof. David H. Autor, an economist at M.I.T., suggest that disabled workers be offered partial income support and services to remain in the workplace. Moreover, they advocate for employers to purchase mandatory disability insurance as they do unemployment insurance and workers’ compensation, giving them incentive to accommodate workers rather than send them to the federal benefit rolls.

Mr. Howard is bumping up against his limitations, only some of which have to do with his medical condition. Last September, Ms. Blasczczyk helped place him in a job driving seniors to doctors’ appointments, but he quit after six months because of the stress. Scrolling through job listings at McDonald’s on a recent afternoon, he noted that many required college degrees.

Still, Mr. Howard is confident he will eventually find some work. While searching, he and Ms. Howard, who is also applying for work, have quit smoking and are trying to eat healthier foods. They have joined Mr. Howard’s father in a Bible study group.

“I would feel better if I worked and made my own money,” he said. “Because that way when somebody who needs it even more than I do, the Social Security would be there for them.” ****

3193  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: February 02, 2012, 02:33:52 PM
Henninger gives a lot of credit to Obama's power of persuasion.

First, there are 40-45% of the people in the US who WILL vote for him no matter what.  They will never cross the Democrat line.

"The GOP is appealing, as its candidates so often do, to the American brain. Barack Obama is happy to be left by himself, going for their hearts."

Clinton proved the independent block of the public can turn on a dime.  And it is that group (independents) that will vote based on how good they feel THAT day.    If the economy is bad then Obama can pull on all the heart strings he wants.  He will not win.  Then again if the economy is or appears to be getting better, it might work.   If the market is going up and the stated though corrupted unempolyment number is coming down than that group will stop and think, "well this guy isn't doing that bad" and Mitt just do anything to excite me.

"any half-awake citizen will notice the words that fail to appear: Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, entitlements and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act."

Apparantly the Democrats have decided NOT to touch those "rails" of politics.  It is obvious they are gaming the Republicans to do so.    I guess they have polling data to show they can get a bit more than 45% by letting the Repubs commit themselves and then demogague them.

"He's going to take ownership of the American economy. Not the real one, but the one he's just made up, "the economy built to last."

""An Economy Built to Last,"

Is this the new catch phrase analogy to hope and change?

OK let Mitt begin to study this.  IF one wants an entitlement economy which IS what he is building on, it won' t last.
If one wants an economy that will last, like what we have had for 200 hundred years then don't vote for the big government guy.  Lest we want to look like Europe with some of us paying for the bankrupt Californias, NJs, etc. 
3194  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Hillsdale Iprimis on: February 02, 2012, 10:22:57 AM
January 2012

Charles Murray
American Enterprise Institute

Do We Need the Department of Education? 
Charles Murray is the W.H. Brady Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. He received his B.A. in history at Harvard University and his Ph.D. in political science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He has written for numerous newspapers and journals, including the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the Weekly Standard, Commentary, and National Review. His books include Losing Ground: American Social Policy 1950-1980, What It Means to Be a Libertarian, and Real Education: Four Simple Truths for Bringing America’s Schools Back to Reality. His new book, Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010, will be published at the end of January.
The following is adapted from a speech delivered in Atlanta, Georgia, on October 28, 2011, at a conference on “Markets, Government, and the Common Good,” sponsored by Hillsdale College’s Center for the Study of Monetary Systems and Free Enterprise.

THE CASE FOR the Department of Education could rest on one or more of three legs: its constitutional appropriateness, the existence of serious problems in education that could be solved only at the federal level, and/or its track record since it came into being. Let us consider these in order.

(1) Is the Department of Education constitutional?

At the time the Constitution was written, education was not even considered a function of local government, let alone the federal government. But the shakiness of the Department of Education’s constitutionality goes beyond that. Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution enumerates the things over which Congress has the power to legislate. Not only does the list not include education, there is no plausible rationale for squeezing education in under the commerce clause. I’m sure the Supreme Court found a rationale, but it cannot have been plausible.

On a more philosophical level, the framers of America’s limited government had a broad allegiance to what Catholics call the principle of subsidiarity. In the secular world, the principle of subsidiarity means that local government should do only those things that individuals cannot do for themselves, state government should do only those things that local governments cannot do, and the federal government should do only those things that the individual states cannot do. Education is something that individuals acting alone and cooperatively can do, let alone something local or state governments can do.

I should be explicit about my own animus in this regard. I don’t think the Department of Education is constitutionally legitimate, let alone appropriate. I would favor abolishing it even if, on a pragmatic level, it had improved American education. But I am in a small minority on that point, so let’s move on to the pragmatic questions.

(2) Are there serious problems in education that can be solved only at the federal level?

The first major federal spending on education was triggered by the launch of the first space satellite, Sputnik, in the fall of 1957, which created a perception that the United States had fallen behind the Soviet Union in science and technology. The legislation was specifically designed to encourage more students to go into math and science, and its motivation is indicated by its title: The National Defense Education Act of 1958. But what really ensnared the federal government in education in the 1960s had its origins elsewhere—in civil rights. The Supreme Court declared segregation of the schools unconstitutional in 1954, but—notwithstanding a few highly publicized episodes such as the integration of Central High School in Little Rock and James Meredith’s admission to the University of Mississippi—the pace of change in the next decade was glacial.

Was it necessary for the federal government to act? There is a strong argument for “yes,” especially in the case of K-12 education. Southern resistance to desegregation proved to be both stubborn and effective in the years following Brown v. Board of Education. Segregation of the schools had been declared unconstitutional, and constitutional rights were being violated on a massive scale. But the question at hand is whether we need a Department of Education now, and we have seen a typical evolution of policy. What could have been justified as a one-time, forceful effort to end violations of constitutional rights, lasting until the constitutional wrongs had been righted, was transmuted into a permanent government establishment. Subsequently, this establishment became more and more deeply involved in American education for purposes that have nothing to do with constitutional rights, but instead with a broader goal of improving education.

The reason this came about is also intimately related to the civil rights movement. Over the same years that school segregation became a national issue, the disparities between black and white educational attainment and test scores came to public attention. When the push for President Johnson’s Great Society programs began in the mid-1960s, it was inevitable that the federal government would attempt to reduce black-white disparities, and it did so in 1965 with the passage of two landmark bills—the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and the Higher Education Act. The Department of Education didn’t come into being until 1980, but large-scale involvement of the federal government in education dates from 1965.

(3) So what is the federal government’s track record in education?

The most obvious way to look at the track record is the long-term trend data of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). Consider, for instance, the results for the math test for students in fourth, eighth and twelfth grades from 1978 through 2004. The good news is that the scores for fourth graders showed significant improvement in both reading and math—although those gains diminished slightly as the children got older. The bad news is that the baseline year of 1978 represents the nadir of the test score decline from the mid-1960s through the 1970s. Probably we are today about where we were in math achievement in the 1960s. For reading, the story is even bleaker. The small gains among fourth graders diminish by eighth grade and vanish by the twelfth grade. And once again, the baseline tests in the 1970s represent a nadir.

From 1942 through the 1990s, the state of Iowa administered a consistent and comprehensive test to all of its public school students in grade school, middle school, and high school—making it, to my knowledge, the only state in the union to have good longitudinal data that go back that far. The Iowa Test of Basic Skills offers not a sample, but an entire state population of students. What can we learn from a single state? Not much, if we are mainly interested in the education of minorities—Iowa from 1942 through 1970 was 97 percent white, and even in the 2010 census was 91 percent white. But, paradoxically, that racial homogeneity is also an advantage, because it sidesteps all the complications associated with changing ethnic populations.

Since retention through high school has changed greatly over the last 70 years, I will consider here only the data for ninth graders. What the data show is that when the federal government decided to get involved on a large scale in K-12 education in 1965, Iowa’s education had been improving substantially since the first test was administered in 1942. There is reason to think that the same thing had been happening throughout the country. As I documented in my book, Real Education, collateral data from other sources are not as detailed, nor do they go back to the 1940s, but they tell a consistent story. American education had been improving since World War II. Then, when the federal government began to get involved, it got worse.

I will not try to make the case that federal involvement caused the downturn. The effort that went into programs associated with the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 in the early years was not enough to have changed American education, and the more likely causes for the downturn are the spirit of the 1960s—do your own thing—and the rise of progressive education to dominance over American public education. But this much can certainly be said: The overall data on the performance of American K-12 students give no reason to think that federal involvement, which took the form of the Department of Education after 1979, has been an engine of improvement.

What about the education of the disadvantaged, especially minorities? After all, this was arguably the main reason that the federal government began to get involved in education—to reduce the achievement gap separating poor children and rich children, and especially the gap separating poor black children and the rest of the country.

The most famous part of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act was Title I, initially authorizing more than a billion dollars annually (equivalent to more than $7 billion today) to upgrade the schools attended by children from low-income families. The program has continued to grow ever since, disposing of about $19 billion in 2010 (No Child Left Behind has also been part of Title I).

Supporters of Title I confidently expected to see progress, and so formal evaluation of Title I was built into the legislation from the beginning. Over the years, the evaluations became progressively more ambitious and more methodologically sophisticated. But while the evaluations have improved, the story they tell has not changed. Despite being conducted by people who wished the program well, no evaluation of Title I from the 1970s onward has found credible evidence of a significant positive impact on student achievement. If one steps back from the formal evaluations and looks at the NAEP test score gap between high-poverty schools (the ones that qualify for Title I support) and low-poverty schools, the implications are worse. A study by the Department of Education published in 2001 revealed that the gap grew rather than diminished from 1986—the earliest year such comparisons have been made—through 1999.

That brings us to No Child Left Behind. Have you noticed that no one talks about No Child Left Behind any more? The explanation is that its one-time advocates are no longer willing to defend it. The nearly-flat NAEP trendlines since 2002 make that much-ballyhooed legislative mandate—a mandate to bring all children to proficiency in math and reading by 2014—too embarrassing to mention.

In summary: the long, intrusive, expensive role of the federal government in K-12 education does not have any credible evidence for a positive effect on American education.

* * *

I have chosen to focus on K-12 because everyone agrees that K-12 education leaves much to be desired in this country and that it is reasonable to hold the government’s feet to the fire when there is no evidence that K-12 education has improved. When we turn to post-secondary education, there is much less agreement on first principles.

The bachelor of arts degree as it has evolved over the last half-century has become the work of the devil. It is now a substantively meaningless piece of paper—genuinely meaningless, if you don’t know where the degree was obtained and what courses were taken. It is expensive, too, as documented by the College Board: Public four-year colleges average about $7,000 per year in tuition, not including transportation, housing, and food. Tuition at the average private four-year college is more than $27,000 per year. And yet the B.A. has become the minimum requirement for getting a job interview for millions of jobs, a cost-free way for employers to screen for a certain amount of IQ and perseverance. Employers seldom even bother to check grades or courses, being able to tell enough about a graduate just by knowing the institution that he or she got into as an 18-year-old.

So what happens when a paper credential is essential for securing a job interview, but that credential can be obtained by taking the easiest courses and doing the minimum amount of work? The result is hundreds of thousands of college students who go to college not to get an education, but to get a piece of paper. When the dean of one East Coast college is asked how many students are in his institution, he likes to answer, “Oh, maybe six or seven.” The situation at his college is not unusual. The degradation of American college education is not a matter of a few parents horrified at stories of silly courses, trivial study requirements, and campus binge drinking. It has been documented in detail, affects a large proportion of the students in colleges, and is a disgrace.

The Department of Education, with decades of student loans and scholarships for university education, has not just been complicit in this evolution of the B.A. It has been its enabler. The size of these programs is immense. In 2010, the federal government issued new loans totaling $125 billion. It handed out more than eight million Pell Grants totaling more than $32 billion dollars. Absent this level of intervention, the last three decades would have seen a much healthier evolution of post-secondary education that focused on concrete job credentials and courses of studies not constricted by the traditional model of the four-year residential college. The absence of this artificial subsidy would also have let market forces hold down costs. Defenders of the Department of Education can unquestionably make the case that its policies have increased the number of people going to four-year residential colleges. But I view that as part of the Department of Education’s indictment, not its defense.

* * *

What other case might be made for federal involvement in education? Its contributions to good educational practice? Think of the good things that have happened to education in the last 30 years—the growth of homeschooling and the invention and spread of charter schools. The Department of Education had nothing to do with either development. Both happened because of the initiatives taken by parents who were disgusted with standard public education and took matters into their own hands. To watch the process by which charter schools are created, against the resistance of school boards and administrators, is to watch the best of American traditions in operation. Government has had nothing to do with it, except as a drag on what citizens are trying to do for their children.

Think of the best books on educational practice, such as Howard Gardner’s many innovative writings and E.D. Hirsch’s Core Knowledge Curriculum, developed after his landmark book, Cultural Literacy, was published in 1987. None of this came out of the Department of Education. The Department of Education spends about $200 million a year on research intended to improve educational practice. No evidence exists that these expenditures have done any significant good.

As far as I can determine, the Department of Education has no track record of positive accomplishment—nothing in the national numbers on educational achievement, nothing in the improvement of educational outcomes for the disadvantaged, nothing in the advancement of educational practice. It just spends a lot of money. This brings us to the practical question: If the Department of Education disappeared from next year’s budget, would anyone notice? The only reason that anyone would notice is the money. The nation’s public schools have developed a dependence on the federal infusion of funds. As a practical matter, actually doing away with the Department of Education would involve creating block grants so that school district budgets throughout the nation wouldn’t crater.

Sadly, even that isn’t practical. The education lobby will prevent any serious inroads on the Department of Education for the foreseeable future. But the answer to the question posed in the title of this talk—“Do we need the Department of Education?”—is to me unambiguous: No.


Copyright © 2012 Hillsdale College. The opinions expressed in Imprimis are not necessarily the views of Hillsdale College. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is hereby granted, provided the following credit line is used: “Reprinted by permission from Imprimis, a publication of Hillsdale College"     33 East College St. Hillsdale, MI 49242 • Tel: +1 517 437-7341 • Fax: +1 517 437-3923
© 2007-09 Hillsdale College. All rights reserved.
3195  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Fascism, liberal fascism, progressivism, socialism: on: February 02, 2012, 08:29:58 AM
I am not short,

but prefer the economy stay slow till after the election. 

If it picks up before hand I fear Obama might get re elected.

I know this is very cynical, but this is how I feel.

In the long run it is better for the country that Obama lose. 
3196  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Fascism, liberal fascism, progressivism, socialism: on: February 01, 2012, 01:12:17 PM
*barring some major economic turnaround*

Let me clarify.  I AM definitely against a turnaround before the election if would get Obama get re-elected.  Absolutely and undeniably and unabashedly.   This guy cannot get a second term.

IF a Democrat wants to point out I am betting against the economy of the US for political reasons the answer is - YESIREE!
3197  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Fascism, liberal fascism, progressivism, socialism: on: February 01, 2012, 01:09:31 PM
Lets keep our fingers crossed Mitt can come through.

If he does and barring some major economic turnaround, or wag the dog's tail trick like bombing Iran a week before election day (I wouldn't put it past him nor did I with Clinton) this guy will be back at Harvard pretending to be a Constitutional scholar.
3198  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Fascism, liberal fascism, progressivism, socialism: on: February 01, 2012, 12:57:36 PM

Often we read what a "disappointment" Obama is.  He had such "promise".

Are people who make these statements serious?

I don't get it. 

Obama is EXACTLY what he represented himself to be.  He was the MOST liberal Senator by voting record.   He associated himself with radical left groups.   He sat in a church for 2 decades while listening to a reverand who hates America, Jews, and whites.

What hope and change did these people think he was offering?

Indeed, the only (very modestly) refreshing aspect of his tenure is that he kept up the fight in Iraq and Afghanistan begun by W.
Of course this was almost certainly for political reasons and not in sinc with what are obviously (by now) core beliefs.
3199  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iran on: February 01, 2012, 12:47:40 PM
Do NOT be surprised that if this does occur as in some form of assasination of a specific target (a Saudi) that Obamster will try to cover it up - or at least down play it.  Just like his administration did after Ft. Hood.

I seriously doubt Iran would be so foolish to hit public citizens in the US like WTC or anything like remotely like that.

An Iranian attack like that in the US would be the best thing that ever happened to Israel.

3200  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: February 01, 2012, 12:41:22 PM
This bodes well for Romney.  Despite the MSLSD  and WasserwomanSchultz's claim that Brock is the great and formidable campaigner he is, it appears the independents are not buying into his story line.   So far Romney's caution may be paying off.  He is too moderate for me but then again I'll vote for any Republican (except maybe Paul) over Obama (on second thought, I would probably not vote).  It IS the independents who count.   A few Republican voting Latinos thrown in won't hurt Romney get it.
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