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3651  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Economics, the stock market , and other investment/savings strategies on: September 10, 2011, 01:10:44 PM
Crafty,
Please see my reply #111 from Sept 7 9:51 AM on Cognitive dissonance of the left thread titled Soros.  Despite multiple attempts for some reason I cannot seem to copy and past here.
3652  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Economics, the stock market , and other investment/savings strategies on: September 09, 2011, 03:19:26 PM
See you at Dw 6K or thereabouts.  I'm with Soros.  Though, no thanks to him.

Of course Brian W will note the surge in condom retail sales as a sign things are getting better. rolleyes
3653  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / My error made running around during the day on: September 09, 2011, 03:17:13 PM
Actually the coins would not have been gold; maybe silver or non precious metal and may have been dollars or halves?

Like US paper money the metal coins are hardly even worth the metal they are made out of.

Don't pennies cost more to make than they are valued?

Come to think of it aren't we murdering too many trees by printing so much money?  Think of the carbon dioxide not soaked up and the oxygen not produced.

Its a good thing we print $20 ,50 100 bills lest we wipe out the enitre Amazon forest if the 14 trillion in debt were dollars.



3654  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: September 09, 2011, 02:52:06 PM
Whoever came up with that bingo board is OBVIOUSLY a racist biggoted person. wink

Must be one of those crazy loon Tea Party types. cheesy



3655  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Get a job at the mint and walk out with millions on: September 09, 2011, 12:16:01 PM
If this does not illustrate the total incompetence of government than nothing will.  They cannot even secure the *mint* from their own employees.
How can someone sneak out 2.4 million one dollar gold coins before being caught?  Did he have help?

And the guy is an ex Fed cop.  Surprise surprise surpirse:

***A former federal cop assigned to the U.S. Mint in Philadelphia admitted stealing $2.4 million in "error" coins.

William Gray, 64, of North Wildwood, N.J., admitted in federal court that he took the $1 presidential coins, all missing edge lettering, and sold them to a California coin dealer. Gray pleaded guilty to theft of government property and income tax evasion, said U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman.

Gray had worked at the U.S. Mint since 1996. He said he took the coins knowing they would be considered more valuable to collectors because they were considered "mint errors." He mailed them from New Jersey.

He was freed on $50,000 bail and will be sentenced on Dec. 20.

Posted Friday, Sep 9, 2011 - 7:09 AM EDT**** 
3656  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / MSNBC - a night of high comedy on: September 08, 2011, 08:15:09 PM
I missed the debate but saw some of the MSNBC liberal "analysts" afterwards.

The two Chrises, Rachel, Al, Ed.  It was really a riot watching them fail as they tried to demean the candidates.  The whole time using every conceivable name, label, argument, and struggling with logic so twisted even one with Down's syndrome would be cracking up with laughter.

The only ones who have lost the *debate* are the liberals.

The LEFT  has lost the *debate*.  Now if the Repubs can only bring home the bacon.
3657  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / unions do not represent the middle class on: September 07, 2011, 12:13:24 PM
The strategy of the unions is to exand *their* plight to most Americans by calling it a *middle class* issue.  The jornolists/unions/liberals are all on the same page screaming about the "war on the middle class", "working people", etc.

Like yeah right;   the tea party the republicans the conservatives want to destroy the middle class.

Most of us are not in unions and even some union members don't buy this propaganda - which is exactly what it is.

Yet Pat Buchanan is exactly right and echoes what I have been saying all along:

the left and the right have not as yet put forward a real plan to save the obvious trend of falling behind of the middle class.

And Doug, I love ya but please don't try to give me stats about how the middle class is doing as well as it was 30 - 40 years ago.
It clearly is much  harder to make ends meet today then it was only a generation ago.   Two people working, even college degrees meaning far less, people not having job security, $30,000 being a decent wage in 1970 and now 100K is not even the same.  The middle is clearly been stagnant and not able to keep up with the bills.

That said the answer for me is not to steal from succesful people and dole it out. The answer is unclear to me.  Without any doubt in my mind any Republican who can give a logical plan that addresses this more specifically will wipe out Brock.

The big government small government argument alone will always be a screaming yelling match struggle for the middle votes.
 
3658  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Soros on: September 07, 2011, 11:51:26 AM
I am sure he is invested appropriately:

****Jorge Silva/Reuters; Tom White for the New York Times
“This crisis has the potential to be a lot worse than Lehman Brothers,” said George Soros, the hedge fund investor, citing the lack of a pan-European body to handle an extreme banking crisis.
Read All Comments (72) »
As Europe struggles to contain its government debt crisis, the greatest fear is that one of the Continent’s major banks may fail, setting off a financial panic like the one sparked by Lehman’s bankruptcy in September 2008.

European policy makers, determined to avoid such a catastrophe, are prepared to use hundreds of billions of euros of bailout money to prevent any major bank from failing.

But questions continue to mount about the ability of Europe’s banks to ride out the crisis, as some are having a harder time securing loans needed for daily operations.

American financial institutions, seeking to inoculate themselves from the growing risks, are increasingly wary of making new short-term loans in some cases and are pulling back from doing business with their European counterparts — moves that could exacerbate the funding problems of European banks.

Similar withdrawals, on a much larger scale, forced Lehman into bankruptcy, as banks, hedge funds and others took steps to shield their own interests even though it helped set in motion the broader market crisis.

Turmoil in Europe could quickly spread across the Atlantic because of the intertwined nature of the global financial system. In addition, it could further damage the already struggling economies elsewhere.

“This crisis has the potential to be a lot worse than Lehman Brothers,” said George Soros, the hedge fund investor, citing the lack of an authoritative pan-European body to handle a banking crisis of this severity. “That is why the problem is so serious. You need a crisis to create the political will for Europe to create such an authority, but there is still no understanding as to what the authority will do.”

The growing nervousness was reflected in financial markets Tuesday, with stocks in the United States and Europe falling 1 percent and European bank stocks falling 5 percent or more after steep drops in recent weeks.

European bank shares are now at their lowest point since March 2009, when the global banking system was still shaky following Lehman’s collapse.

Investors also continued to seek the safety of United States Treasury bonds, as yields on 10-year bonds briefly touched 1.90 percent, the lowest ever, before closing at 1.98 percent.

Adding to the anxiety, several immediate challenges face European officials as they try to calm markets worried about the debt crisis spreading.

In the coming weeks, the 17 countries of the euro currency zone each could agree to a July deal brokered to bail out Greece again and possibly the region’s ailing banks. Along with getting unanimity, more immediate obstacles could trip up the agreement.

On Wednesday, Germany’s top court upheld the legality of Berlin’s rescue packages, but said any future bailouts for debt-stricken euro zone countries must be approved by a parliamentary panel. On Thursday, officials in Finland are to express their conditions for approving the deal, and other countries may follow with their own demands to ensure their loans will be paid back. 

Though they have not succeeded in calming the markets, European leaders have taken a series of steps to avert a Lehman-like failure. New credit lines have been opened by the European Central Bank for institutions that need funds, while the proposed Greek bailout would provide loans to countries that need to recapitalize their banks. In addition, the central bank has been buying up bonds from Italy and Spain, among other countries, to keep interest rates from spiking. Many of these have been bought from European banks, effectively allowing them to shed troubled assets for cash.

While the problems in smaller countries like Greece and Ireland are not new, in recent weeks the concerns have spread to banking giants in countries like Germany and France that are crucial to the functioning of the global financial system and are closely linked with their American counterparts. What is more, worries have surfaced about the outlook for Italy, whose debt dwarfs that of other smaller troubled borrowers like Greece.
An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that two-year Treasury bonds briefly touched a record low yield of 1.90 percent. It was actually 10-year Treasuries that hit this record.****
3659  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: September 06, 2011, 11:13:04 AM
"Republicans therefore are a lock or lead in 24 states for 206 electoral votes, and Democrats have or lead in 19 states for 247 electoral votes. That's why seven super-swing states with 85 electors will determine which party gets to the magic number of 270 electoral votes: Colorado (9), Florida (29), Iowa (6), Nevada (6), New Hampshire (4), Ohio (18) and Virginia (13)."

Depressing that it is close at all.  Big or little government is not winning the debate.

It should be a landslide.  The repubs still don't get it.

3660  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: September 06, 2011, 10:56:17 AM
Above posts simply confirm that OBama is nothing more than a messanger.

There is no evidence he has ever been creative or an original thinker.

Clearly his books were not written by him.

I have not seen one example of anything that is original thought on his part.

Indeed it is remarkable this guy who went to Columbia and Harvard has absolutely no writing which indicates any creative thinking.   From what I recall reading about other Harvard law students and professors their lauding him was based only on his seeming ability to referee differences.  He seemed to make everyone think he agreed with them on all sides of arguments or debates and in the end no one knew what HE actually believed.  

Similarly today he plays Reagan, Lincoln, Clinton, Bush, all the while attempting to hide his real agenda.  Even though everyone is on to him now he still plays the same game.  Because - he knows no other.  IT also fits my theory he is a try disordered personality who will continue to lie, scape goat, blame others, and be a pompous ass - to the end.  

That said it is quite clear why he is such a failure.  Without taking marching orders from the real brains behind the progressive movement he is lost as to what to do.

His backing off the climate emmissions regulations is really an example of he knows full well his policies kill the economy.

Yet he is so set on his ideolgical agenda her won't give in.

3661  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants & interesting thought pieces on: September 02, 2011, 03:07:02 PM
"Why do we have to pay f*ckin rent all our lives - all our lives?  Why?  Why?? Why can't we just pay f*ckin rent for like maybe 10 years, you know, you stay in a place, you know pay f*ckin rent like 10 years and after that you shouldn't have to pay rent again ever and I mean like ever for as long as you live."

Well if she worked for me the answer would be simple:

Why can't I pay you a wage for ten years than you work for me forever for nothing.  I mean I shouldn't have to pay you a f* wage forever!  grin
3662  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Economics, the stock market , and other investment/savings strategies on: September 02, 2011, 01:06:13 PM
Crafty,

I don't follow Wesbury but every time I read his analyses they always seem the same.  I think GM alluded to this as well:

Despite any bad news there is really good news.

3663  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Turkey/Israel on: September 02, 2011, 12:27:49 PM
 
Turkey expels Israeli ambassador

Ankara follows through on threat to impose independent sanctions on Jerusalem following its refusal to apologize for deadly Marmara raid: Top-level diplomatic staff expelled, key military contracts suspended. Turkish FM: Time for Israel to pay the price

News agencies Latest Update:  09.02.11, 15:06 / Israel News 

Israel-Turkey relations sink to a new low: Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu announced on Friday that following Jerusalem's adamant refusal to apologize over the 2010 Gaza flotilla raid, Ankara will be downgrading its diplomatic relations with Israel and suspending key military agreements.

 
In a dramatic turn of events, Turkey announced that it was expelling Israeli Ambassador Gabby Levy from Ankara. Davutoglu said Turkey's diplomatic representation in Israel would be further reduced to second-secretary level. In accordance, all lower Israeli diplomatic personnel above the second-secretary level have also been expelled. 

More on Israeli-Turkish diplomatic crisis:

Israel defiant: No apology to Turkey
Palmer Report fails main objectives
Will Palmer Report lead to legal onslaught?
UN report: Israel should compensate Turkey
Turkey rebuffs Palmer findings   

The announcement followed a press conference, in which Davutoglu said that some of the UN's Palmer Report findings on the raid were "unacceptable," adding that it was "time for Israel to pay the price... The highest price it can pay is losing our friendship."   

"Today, we reached a point where Israel has, in fact, spent all of the chances that were given to them. The Israeli government, on the other hand, see themselves (as being) above international laws and human conscience," the Turkish FM said.

Turkey withdrew its own ambassador to Israel immediately after last year's raid.

Davutoğlu's stated that Ankara views the Israeli government as responsible for the situation, and that Turkey will not revise its position on the matter until Israel reconsiders its stand on the flotilla incident. Davutoğlu added that despite the Palmer Report findings, Turkey does not recognise the legality of the Israeli blockade on Gaza. 

Turkish President Abdullah Gul reportedly said Friday that as far as Turkey was concerned, the Palmer Report was "null and void." Ankara is also said to be exploring its options against Israel with the International Court of Justice.

 Earlier Friday, Turkey vowed that its demand for an apology from Israel would remain unchanged, stating that it is powerful enough to protect the rights of its citizen. The statement was made in Ankara's first official reaction to a leaked United Nations panel report on the Mavi Marmara incident.
Israel remains adamant over its decision not to offer Turkey an official apology. A senior official told Ynet that while Israel is aware of the implications of its decision to refrain from issuing an apology, "we cannot conduct ourselves based on ultimatums."

The Palmer Report does not demand an Israeli apology, establishing instead that Israel should express regret and pay reparations, the official said, adding that Jerusalem still hoped that the two countries could "return to the cooperation that was a cornerstone of regional stability." Another senior official added that "the severing of ties goes against Turkey's strategic interests."

Jerusalem sources were unfazed by the move, saying that Israel's military agreements with Turkey had previously been suspended – by Israel. "Military trade with Turkey was suspended a while ago… we didn’t want to risk any weapons made in Israel falling into the wrong hands," a diplomatic source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Other sources hedged that while Turkey may downgrade its ties with Israel, the US is likely to stop Ankara from severing its ties with Jerusalem completely.

 Foreign Ministry Director-General Rafael Barak called for a situation assessment on Friday afternoon, following Turkey's decision. The meeting was called after he conferred with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak. Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman is currently on an official visit to Moldova.

Meanwhile, Turkey's Zaman news site reported Friday that Davutoğlu had spoken with United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and that he raised The New York Times issue with him. Davutoğlu added that UN’s Ban was also surprised to hear about the publication of the leaked report.

 AP, Reuters, AFP and Ronen Medzini contributed to this report
3664  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Gender, Gay, Lesbian on: September 02, 2011, 10:59:02 AM
Didn't Federal hate crime law evolve from racial issues wherein the Feds were trying to insure that local judicial systems could not easily allow an injustice due to local prejudices?

For example, white murderers getting a not guilty verdict because the jury judge and local law enforcement/justice system was inherently racist?

Extrapolating that to gays, etc is in probably most people's minds has been ridiculous/unnecessary and indeed become abuse of those accused.

For example the Rutgers student who is charged with a hate crime because his video of the gay college student fellating another student and he than goes and commits suicide because of the exposure.  Most people would agree making this into a Federal issue hate crime is overboard and an injustice to the accused.  Isn't this really double jeopardy?  Overlap to insure that someone accused of a politically incorrect act has another layer of prosecution stacked on top of him/her.

3665  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Decline, Fall, (and Resurrection?) of America on: September 02, 2011, 10:25:35 AM
Bigdog, Good read.
Does Diamond extrapolate his research findings to America of today?
So what is his prognosis for us and what direction should be take? 

3666  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: September 01, 2011, 02:19:14 PM
"let Shillary or another dem take a swing"

Well Sabato was on saying how Brock HAS to go negative against the Republicans (hasn't he always done this in retrospect?) because he cannot run on his record.

If everyone agrees that it is true the incumbant's record is such a failure than why is running at all?

If his campaign strategy is vote for me the other guy is worse then he should for the "sake of the American people" step aside and get out of the way.

3667  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 9/11 remembered on: August 31, 2011, 11:41:12 AM
These photos certainly bring the horror of that day back to "life":

http://news.yahoo.com/photographer-behind-9-11-falling-man-retraces-steps-recalls-unknown-soldier.html
3668  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Race-baiting Industrial Complex on: August 31, 2011, 10:54:06 AM
Kissel's article is depressing.

I have almost given up hope.

I still agree with Bob Grant and that it is already too late.

We both hope we are wrong but our guts tell us otherwise.

Your post on political rants showing the mindset of entitlement of that person is extraordinarily depressing.

3669  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants & interesting thought pieces on: August 31, 2011, 10:49:18 AM
Crafty,

Wow!

If everyone thought like her we would be back to the stone age.

I am not sure what her alternative would be.  Someone has to build shelter and gather, grow, or hunt for food even without civilization.

She thinks people stopped working under communism?

And she might wonder why people might not want to hire her?

3670  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / buffett deconstructed on: August 31, 2011, 10:41:15 AM
Interesting analysis from RN.

This is a perfect example of what I was trying to explain that we have do not have fairness in our system.

The guys at the top ARE ripping us all off big time.  The system IS rigged.  Republicans could, I think, win over the independents by putting stops to this kind of crap (at least giving the effort of trying).

If the government has any role it is not to penalize the successful but it could be to at least try to keep the system fair for all to succeed.

This game Buffett is playing is a perfect example of how the game can be rigges and those "at the top" are simply robbing the rest of us.  The Democrats certainly do have a point here but the Republican answer is not to turn around and rob the rich (as the Dems want to do) and redistribute.  It should be to try to make the system fair for all.  The government must not be a position to play favorites.  It is so corrupt.  The cans simply seem to ignore all of this.  Continue to ignore this and thus continue to have millions resent the Rep party.  What else can I say?
3671  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Dick Morris: Perry v Romney on economy/jobs on: August 30, 2011, 02:55:09 PM
PERRY VS. ROMNEY ON ECONOMY
By Dick Morris And Eileen McGann08.30.201130 8 84Share125Share
Now here comes Rick Perry challenging Mitt Romney’s record on job creation. The stats are definitely in his favor. Between June of ’09 and June of ’11, 50% of the net new jobs created in the United States were in Texas, making Texas number one in job growth by a loooooooooong shot.

Under Romney, Massachusetts’ record was terrible by comparison. The Bay State ranked 47th in job growth with employment rising less than one percent from ’03 to ’07 – his years in office (during which US job growth was 5 percent).

Governor Perry clearly did better than Governor Romney at creating jobs. But it is not two governors who will square off over the issue, it is two men with two lifetimes of experience to look at.

Ever since President Clinton drummed the concept of net job creation into our heads with his mounting claims of the millions of jobs “I created,” we have become accustomed to monitoring this figure as evidence of executive economic skill. But, in this case, Romney can point to a lifetime of actually creating jobs while Governor Perry can only cite his role in presiding over their creation as head of state.

It’s quite a difference. Perry’s Texas has had historically low taxes for decades and is one of only a handful of states without an income tax. In 1970, for example, Texas had 11 million people and Michigan had 10 million. Now Texas has 25 million while Michigan cannot find jobs for its current population of 11 million. The credit for Texas’ low taxes belongs not just to Perry, but to Governors George W. Bush and Bill Clements before him. (And even a nod is due Governor Ann Richards in between).

The job creation record is partially due to a surge in oil demand (one quarter of the new Texas jobs are in the energy sector) and some of the new jobs are due to the efforts of former Governor (and client) Mark White in getting the chip research industry to locate in Austin in the 80s.

Romney has actually, personally, financially created tens of thousands of jobs. His record of buying companies, fixing them up, selling off the unprofitable parts, obtaining financing to grow the money-making parts is invaluable in helping us to get out of the current job creation funk.

Any good Republican president will hold down taxes and block new regulations. But it may take a businessman with Romney’s skill set to dig down into the bureaucracy and understand precisely how bank regulation or EPA controls stop job creation. Romney needs to make the case that we need more than broad brush policy strokes to get the job machine running again. It is not enough to have been a good driver of the economic engine. You need to be a mechanic who knows how it works.

3672  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Race-baiting Industrial Complex on: August 30, 2011, 12:09:23 PM
I am not clear what Black caucus and leadership want Brock to do.  They want him to create jobs for Blacks?
Well it ain't going to happen by expanding big government and spending and taxing white boys.  They continuously shoot themselves in their feet.  Keep voting for endless doles.  Keep voting for a party that is allowing competition to come in to the country.

Are we ever going to have a Republican who can articulate this to Blacks?  Herman Cain, Michael Steele, have not been able to do this it seems.

***The face of the unemployed
Thousands of the unemployed came to a job fair in Miami Tuesday, August 23, 2011 sponsored by the Congressional Black Caucus.
Miami Herald Staff

U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson speaks to job hunters at a job fair sponsored by the Congressional Black Caucus at the James L. Knight Center in downtown Miami Tuesday, August 23, 2011.
TIM CHAPMAN / MIAMI HERALD STAFF
By Patricia Mazzei
pmazzei@MiamiHerald.com
President Barack Obama could have a political problem with black voters in 2012.

Obama is still immensely popular with African Americans. But at a town hall-style meeting held in Miami Gardens this week, some black leaders and Democratic members of the Congressional Black Caucus said they are exasperated that the country’s first black president has not done more to address the needs of the black community — particularly its 16 percent unemployment rate.

“Can you say, ‘black’?” Rep. Maxine Waters of California snapped at Don Graves, the executive director of the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. He had told the crowd of hundreds at Mount Hermon AME Church that Obama is focused on helping every community, though “certain communities have been hit harder.”

The meeting Monday night, coupled with a jobs fair in downtown Miami on Tuesday, was part of a national, five-city tour intended to draw attention to hurting, urban communities and to connect employers to job-seekers.

The tour was a contrast to Obama’s bus trip last week when he ventured to rural areas in the Midwest before heading with his family to Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts for vacation.

The White House is expected to unveil a new jobs plan after Labor Day.

The tense moments at the meeting underscored an increasing cause of concern for Obama, who has argued that turning the economy around will help all communities. Some black leaders want the president to target aid directly to African Americans, who were crucial to Obama’s victory three years ago. In 2008, Obama won 96 percent of the vote from black women vote; 95 percent of black men.

But Obama is trying to appeal to independents and other voters across the political spectrum. And even if he does not champion African Americans as much as some black leaders hope, it is unlikely that black voters would vote against him.

Still, there is another possibility: that discouraged black voters stay home on Election Day next year, a particular worry for Democrats in swing states with sizable black populations — such as Florida, where about 13 percent of registered voters are black.

At the meeting, panelists acknowledged that blacks find it difficult to disagree with Obama or to say that they are disappointed with him because they fear their concerns will be misinterpreted as flagging support.

“We don’t want to talk about it, because we don’t want to come across as being critical of the president,” said the Rev. Victor Curry, president of the local NAACP. But African Americans, he said “should expect something from the man that’s getting 90 percent of their support.”

“President Obama needs us to hold him accountable as well,” Curry said. “We’re not blaming President Obama. We know what he inherited: He inherited a bad team.”

Rep. Frederica Wilson of Miami Gardens, who hosted the meeting and jobs fair, suggested Obama would be able to do more in a second term — and that things would be worse if a Republican were in the White House.

“The real enemy is the tea party — let’s remember that,” Wilson said. “The tea party holds Congress hostage…They have one goal in mind, and that’s to make President Obama a one-term president.”

Earlier, Waters, the California congresswoman, had gone after Graves, the Obama aide, when he said an obstacle to job creation is “folks who are going to stand in the way and block the legislation that the Congressional Black Caucus has proposed.”

“Say tea party,” Waters interrupted. “Say it!”

“It was tea-party Republicans,” a quiet Graves said.

The thorny politics, however, did not keep some 6,000 people from attending Tuesday’s job fair at the James L. Knight Center in downtown Miami. Entering the hall in orderly groups, the attendees shook hands and distributed résumés to recruiters from more than 120 companies and government agencies looking for new hires.

The going was tough, job-seekers said, because employers were directing them to apply to jobs online instead of taking down their information on the spot.

“I just don’t get responses,” said Michelle Gil, a 33-year-old from Kendall who has been looking for a marketing job for a year and a half. “I can’t get a job at Wal-Mart.”

Naomi Wright of Miami Gardens, who attended Monday’s meeting and Tuesday’s jobs fair, said she was disappointed that employers weren’t conducting interviews on site.

“It’s been difficult,” said Wright, who is African-American and has been unemployed for two years. “But I understand the president is in a very tough spot. I can’t say that he has not done enough.

“Just because we disagree does not mean we don’t support him and don’t respect him.”

Read more: http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/08/23/2371894/black-lawmakers-want-obama-to.html#ixzz1WX4cOadL***
3673  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: August 29, 2011, 05:56:54 PM
I forgot about the maternity leave "entitlement", ahem excuse me, I mean "human/civil right".

http://thecallblog.com/?p=99
3674  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Environmental issues on: August 29, 2011, 05:37:05 PM
"I think GM would leave the country before he moved to or lived in California!"

True but I thought he is there.  In any case I wondered if he was not on the East Coast and therefore he didn't get the same media blitzkeig we got here in the NYC metro area. 
3675  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Buffett pulling a Jeff Immelt? on: August 29, 2011, 01:58:08 PM
The saying something rotten in Denmark seems appropo here.  When we have such a big political supporter/investor in bed with the most powerful pol in the world affecting policy and naturally investing accordingly well...:

****The Examiner Washington Is Barack buddy Buffett betting on bank bailout?
Is Barack buddy Buffett betting on bank bailout?
byTimothy P. Carney Senior Political Columnistposted18 hours ago at8:06pmwith19 Comments

President Barack Obama presents the 2010 Medal of Freedom to Warren Buffett during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House in in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2011. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)If you're looking for proof that Too Big to Fail is still alive, and that Washington won't leave large financial institutions to the mercies of capitalism, consider billionaire Obama fundraiser Warren Buffett's $5 billion bet on struggling Bank of America.

Buffett, who recently won plaudits for advocating higher taxes, has spent four years betting on bailouts and big government -- and tilting the playing field in that direction by putting his money and prestige at the service of Barack Obama.

Buffett gave the maximum donation to Obama in 2007 -- $4,600 to his campaign, and $28,500 to the Democratic National Committee -- and also hosted a fundraiser for Obama in Omaha. By mid-2008, Obama had tapped Buffett as an official economic adviser to the campaign.

When Wall Street nearly collapsed in September 2008, Buffett rallied behind the Troubled Asset Relief Program, and bet big on its passage. He put $5 billion into failing investment bank Goldman Sachs. "If I didn't think the government was going to act, I would not be doing anything this week," Buffett said on CNBC at the time.

Obama had campaigned against policies that mainly serve wealthy Americans, belittling the notion that "somehow prosperity will trickle down." Obama was the only man in position to block the bailout, but he voted aye and took much of his party with him.

As Congress was passing TARP and Republicans were falling in the polls, Buffett made another investment in Obamanomics, taking a $3 billion stake in General Electric.

Goldman got $10 billion in TARP funds, and by late 2009 was reporting record profits. Buffett made more than $3.6 billion in profit off the investment.

GE never got TARP money, but a month after the Buffett investment, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation gave GE a $139 billion guarantee on its debt, and GE was a regular recipient of other Federal Reserve bailouts besides TARP. Then GE forged an intimate alliance with the Obama administration, boosting investments in greenhouse-gas credits, embryonic stem cells, wind power, battery technology, and trains -- all technologies subsidized by Obama. GE Chief Executive Officer Jeff Immelt, who lauded Obama's "reset capitalism" in which government would be an "industry champion," became Obama's "job czar."

More recently, Buffett said he's considering investments in ethanol pioneer Archer Daniels Midland, nuclear-power king Exelon, and government contracting giant General Dynamics. ADM was built on close ties to politicians, as was Exelon. ADM relies on ethanol subsidies for profits, while Exelon lobbies for greenhouse-gas restrictions that will profit the company's nuclear-power holdings. And General Dynamics, with $139 billion in federal contracts since 2000, is also cozy with government.

In this light, and recalling his Goldman-bailout profit, consider Buffett's investment last week in Bank of America.

Investors had been dumping Bank of America shares, presumably over worries about the mortgages it holds. But B of A holds ugly mortgages mostly because it bought Countrywide in 2008 -- a move government officials encouraged because they thought it would stabilize the financial sector. Similarly, B of A bought up Merrill Lynch with some nudging from the Treasury Department.

Finally, the Obama administration is simultaneously siding with struggling mortgage-holders against their banks while also trying to promote more lending. You could say Uncle Sam owes Bank of America.

At least Moody's, the credit-ratings agency, seems to think so. In a June 2 announcement, Moody's (owned by Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway, by the way) wrote that Bank of America's credit rating "currently incorporates an unusual amount of 'uplift' from Moody's systemic support assumptions that were increased during the financial crisis." In other words, Moody's -- and thus most creditors -- assumes the government will not let Bank of America fail.

By putting $5 billion in B of A, Buffett seems to be following his mantra: "Be fearful when others are greedy, and be greedy when others are fearful." But does the Oracle of Omaha, as he did in 2008, find his courage in the promise of a bailout? And does he have good reason to expect one?

Last week, when Buffett spoke with Obama and decided to invest in Bank of America, we learned that he is hosting another Obama fundraiser. This all sounds familiar.

It's beginning to look a lot like 2008, which is bad news economically -- unless you know how to profit off bailouts.

CORRECTION: This column originally understated the size of Buffett's investment in Bank of America. The correct figure is $5 billion, not $3 billion.

Timothy P.Carney, The Examiner's senior political columnist, can be contacted at tcarney@washingtonexaminer.com. His column appears Monday and Thursday, and his stories and blog posts appear on ExaminerPolitics.com.****
3676  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / To GM on: August 29, 2011, 01:36:28 PM
Appears most people are agreeing with you.  I guess this is the new big government paradigm.  You're in California aren't you?

Perhaps you were not blankeded with 24/7 total wall to wall coverage on every single  cable and local news stations for several days on end.  We also got calls from the police not to leave the house and when it was ok to leave.  The *max* winds were 75 miles per hour.  A tropical storm is up to 74 mph.  People were being informed they were breaking the law by not evacuating certain areas.  I don't know.  This was beyond necessary to me.  Where does it end?  Can't we just use common sense?   To me it was more about politicians covering their behinds than realistic threat.  That said this is obviously the way it will be from now on.

****Mayor Bloomberg's sky-is-falling act makes him hero of Hurricane Irene
BY Erin Einhorn
DAILY NEWS CITY HALL BUREAU CHIEF

Monday, August 29th 2011, 4:00 AM

 Robert Mecea for NewsMayor Bloomberg at NYPD's Joint Operations Center on Sunday. Take our PollHurricane hero?
Are you happy with the job Mayor Bloomberg did to brace for Irene?

      Yes. New York City was very prepared for the crisis.
 No. The early evacuations and closings were unnecessary.
 Not sure. I am just glad Irene was not as devastating as it could have been.

 Related NewsBloomberg: ConEd may be forced to shut off power in southern tip of ManhattanNYC 'preparing for worst' in hurricane: BloombergNYC planning to shut down transportation systemBloomberg's plane was last to land at LGA as Christmas blizzard intensifiedAnalysis: Bloomy's 'not in Bermuda' campaignClaims of test cheats tripleNote to pols: Too much is better than not enough.

Or as mom always said, better safe than sorry.

Those words of wisdom are political winners.

PHOTOS: IRENE HITS NEW YORK

Sure, Irene wasn't quite as advertised. Plenty of New Yorkers grumbled that mandatory evacuations and constant warnings were an extreme overreaction, but history will remember Hurricane Irene as a victory for Mayor Bloomberg.

He was the one who evacuated low-lying parts of the city, who was on TV seemingly at every moment warning, cautioning and coaching New Yorkers on how to deal with what was touted as a killer hurricane.

STORM TRACKER: THE LATEST NEWS

The foresight and hustle won kudos - some begrudgingly.

In sharp contrast to the bruising Bloomberg took as the city struggled to dig out from the debilitating post-Christmas blizzard, Hizzoner was lavished with praise yesterday from even his toughest critics.

"I'm not a critic today. I'm a fan," said City Councilwoman Letitia James (D-Brooklyn), who last spring conducted what some called the "Mother of all Hearings" into the city's disastrous blizzard response.

"I'm sorta disappointed. I emailed some of my colleagues today and said, 'Damn! I missed my opportunity to have the Mother of All Hearings, Part II.'"

Last winter, elected officials from across the city said they spent the days after the blizzard fielding furious complaints from constituents and getting no response from the administration.

This time they were invited to frequent conference calls and meetings ahead of the storm.

Top city officials responded to emails and calls as the winds and rains pelted the city.

And by yesterday, James said that when she notified the administration of downed trees in her central Brooklyn district, "they responded with the cavalry."

Maybe it was a little too much, some acknowledged.

Maybe some New Yorkers were inconvenienced by the forced evacuation or alarmed by the panic.

Surely many are steamed at Gov. Cuomo and the MTA for yanking the crucial lifeline of the city's public transit system for nearly two days, but, this time, no one could complain that their mayor was AWOL.

"He wanted to go from bozo of the blizzard to hero of the hurricane," said Baruch College political science Prof. Doug Muzzio.

Instead of swooping back into the city from Bermuda as Bloomberg did just before the blizzard, New Yorkers could barely turn on their TVs over the weekend without seeing the mayor giving a briefing or inspecting the troops.

"This was Michael Bloomberg saying, 'You know what, nothing else is going to happen on my watch,'" said Councilman Domenic Recchia (D-Brooklyn), who helped evacuate thousands of people from his Coney Island district.

"Some people are going to say he overreacted, but you know what? It's better to be safe than sorry."

eeinhorn@nydailynews.com****
3677  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Mexico-US matters on: August 29, 2011, 12:44:29 PM
Well we have wondered why Mexicans come here for work.

Carlos Slim didn't get to be worth 74 billion being a nice guy:

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


3678  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Economist; study suggest cloud science may be wrong on: August 29, 2011, 11:57:16 AM
 
****Clouds in a jar
A new experiment with old apparatus reveals a flaw in models of the climate
Aug 27th 2011 | from the print edition
 
CLOUD chambers have an honoured place in the history of physics. These devices, which generate vapour trails that mark the passage of high-energy subatomic particles, were the first apparatus that allowed such passage to be tracked. That was in the 1920s and led, among other things, to the discovery of cosmic rays. Science has moved on since then, of course, and cloud chambers are now largely museum pieces. But the world’s leading high-energy physics laboratory, CERN, outside Geneva, is dusting the idea off and putting it into reverse. Instead of using clouds to study cosmic rays, it is using cosmic rays to study clouds. In doing so, it may have thrown a spanner into the works of the world’s computer models of the climate.

Clouds are formed by the condensation of water vapour in the atmosphere around clusters of molecules such as ammonia and sulphuric acid. Ions created by the passage of cosmic rays can trigger the formation of such molecular seeds—a process of particular interest because the arrival of cosmic rays is regulated, in part, by the sun. The 11-year solar cycle, which governs the appearance of sunspots, also changes the sun’s magnetic field. That, in turn, affects the passage of cosmic rays (which are mostly protons released by distant supernova explosions), and thus the number of such rays that make it to Earth. Since clouds help regulate the climate, by reflecting sunlight back into space and cooling the atmosphere, some researchers think cosmic rays are a means by which changes in solar activity are translated into terrestrial climate change.

Just how much cosmic rays affect cloud formation has, however, remained elusive. A team at CERN, led by Jasper Kirkby, therefore decided to recreate both the solar cycle and the atmosphere in a lab. Their “cosmic rays” are generated by one of CERN’s particle accelerators. To simulate the atmosphere, they have built a special cloud chamber of their own, with the air manufactured from scratch, using liquid nitrogen and oxygen together with precise amounts of trace compounds, including sulphuric acid and ammonia.

A typical run at CLOUD, as the experiment is unimaginatively named, begins by tracking the growth of seeds from single molecules into clusters in the presence of ultraviolet radiation, which is known to encourage such growth. An electrical field removes any ions present, so the rate of seed growth should be equivalent to that in nature with no cosmic rays around. Next, the field is switched off, allowing actual cosmic rays to permeate the chamber for a while. Finally, a beam of artificial rays from the accelerator is added to the mix.

By comparing rates of seed formation during the different phases of the experiments, the researchers have been able to put a figure on cosmic rays’ contribution to the process. The results, reported in this week’s Nature, suggest naturally occurring rays enhance seed-formation rates by a factor of ten. That implies the rays’ varying intensity could indeed affect the climate.

Dr Kirkby and his colleagues remain cautious about the result, however, because of a second finding. To their surprise, they discovered that the seed-formation rates for sulphuric acid and ammonia are between a tenth and a thousandth of those needed to account for the cloud seeding actually seen in the atmosphere. That suggests other compounds are important, too—and this, in turn, implies that current climate models, which assume most seeds are made of ammonia or sulphuric acid, may require revision.

Atmospheric physics is, of course, notoriously complex. And it would be foolish to start reprogramming all the models on the basis of this single result. But it does suggest that a closer look is needed into what is going on in the real atmosphere. Clearly, there is life in the old cloud chamber yet.

from the print edition | Science and Technology
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3679  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Mexico economics; from Economist on: August 29, 2011, 11:33:28 AM
Mexico’s economy
Making the desert bloom
The Mexican economy has recovered somewhat from a scorching recession imported from America, but is still hobbled by domestic monopolies and cartels
Aug 27th 2011

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

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

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

Mexico’s muscles

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

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

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

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

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

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

South or north?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From Uncle Sam to Uncle Slim

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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3680  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: China/baidu on: August 29, 2011, 11:29:21 AM
From the Economist:

****The internet in China
Bashing Baidu
State television fires on China’s Google
Aug 27th 2011 | from the print edition
 
LAST year Google remembered its motto (“Don’t be evil”) and stopped co-operating with China’s censors. Since then, Google has found it much harder to do business in mainland China. The chief beneficiary was Baidu, China’s leading search engine. Its share of internet searches, already vast, grew to a dominant 75%.

Robin Li, Baidu’s Chinese-born, American-educated co-founder, is only 42 but one of China’s richest men. That makes him a target, despite his scrupulous efforts not to upset the ruling Communist Party. Since August 14th Baidu has been the subject of a series of damning investigative reports on CCTV, the main state-run broadcaster. Using undercover cameras, CCTV exposed Baidu employees apparently helping firms circumvent laws that bar unlicensed companies from advertising online. The reports also suggested that the lack of transparency in Baidu’s advertising system could lead advertisers to overpay. A Baidu spokesman refused to comment.
It was not the first time that CCTV has bashed Baidu. Reports in 2008 made similar allegations, prompting Baidu to apologise publicly. The latest attacks go further, though. It might seem a bit rich for the state broadcaster of a secretive, authoritarian country to chide Baidu for murkiness. And it certainly surprises some China-watchers. Baidu has done all it can to comply with the government’s whims. It is also a national champion: its shares are listed on New York’s NASDAQ exchange, and foreigners can’t get enough of them.

So what might the criticism signify? Is CCTV attacking Baidu for political reasons, or commercial ones? CCTV has a search engine, too, which hardly anyone uses. So do two other big government-run media outfits—the People’s Daily newspaper and the Xinhua news agency. CCTV, though state-run, is not just a propaganda outfit. It is also expected to make money through advertising (and it does). It must be tempting to nobble a rival.

That no other state-run media outlets carried stories on Baidu suggests this is not a government-orchestrated campaign against the company or the internet more generally. However, the Communist Party is wary of the influence of private internet companies, and no doubt keen to see that Baidu doesn’t get too big for its boots.

The party was slow to grasp how big the internet was going to be in China, and it missed its chance to own the digital commanding heights. So it tries to control them indirectly. On August 23rd, for example, Beijing’s Communist Party chief paid a friendly visit to the offices of China’s biggest microblogging site, Sina Corp’s Weibo, and suggested that it “absolutely put an end to fake and misleading information”. Sina Corp, a private firm, deletes postings that annoy the party within hours. Not quick enough, said the party chief.

Perhaps the most likely motive for CCTV’s attacks on Baidu is that its journalists are trying to do their jobs. Public anger about toxic food, corporate mismanagement and official corruption has emboldened reporters. Journalists at CCTV led the extensive media coverage of a high-speed-rail crash at Wenzhou in July that killed 40 people, until the censors curbed them.

Such reporting embarrasses the party, which likes to boast that China builds big infrastructure projects faster and better than anyone else. The CCTV attack on Baidu could reflect a decision to go after a less protected target. Or not. This being China, no one knows for sure.****
3681  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Environmental issues on: August 29, 2011, 09:45:01 AM
"The political subscript is to contrast Baraq with Bush's handling of Katrina."

True.  Brock was of course playing the script of a caring worried father with thousands of troops ready with the comfort blankets, tents and TV dinners.

But not just him....

It seems all of the pols were getting in the act.  Cristie, Boomer Bloomberg, and the rest.

They are all out in force taking credit.  The media covers every little mud slide and flood and power outage to justify the whole thing.  Nothing wrong with warnings and information but the whole thing was overdone in a crazy way.

Fox seems to have been the worst.  24/7 coverage the entire weekend and still going strong.

The fear of political fall out like Katrina has now turned our polticians into law suit fearing doctors who order everything under the sun. 
3682  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Gas pipeline attack stopped on: August 27, 2011, 12:37:36 PM
FROM WND'S JERUSALEM BUREAU

Did Israel just stop 'spectacular' terror attack?
Sources say it would have devastated both Jewish state and Gaza population

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Posted: August 12, 2011
1:00 am Eastern


By Aaron Klein
© 2011 WND

Israeli troops on Gaza border
 
TEL AVIV – Israel stopped what would have been a spectacular border terrorist attack planned from inside the Gaza Strip, according to Egyptian security officials.

The Egyptian officials said there is information the attack Tuesday was aimed at the sole pipeline that supplies Gaza with gas. The pipeline, located at the Israeli town of Nahal Oz, is manned and provided by Israel.

Israeli security officials would not comment on the matter.

In a rare incident, on Tuesday all electricity, phone and Internet service was suspended for about 18 hours in the Gaza Strip.

The blackout was reportedly caused by Israeli military bulldozers operating near the fuel pipeline in the Israeli town of Nahal Oz, which is close to the Gaza Strip.

At about the same time the electricity went out in Gaza, the Egyptian officials said Israel passed a message for Egypt to be on high alert for possible attacks from inside the Gaza Strip.
The Egyptian officials said they have information that Israel was actually working to stop a cross border attack aimed at the fuel pipeline. The officials said the downing of communications inside Gaza was central to halting the attack.

The Egyptian officials said members of Jihadiya Salafiya, an al-Qaida-allied group in Gaza, are suspected of attempting the major attack along with elements of the Iranian-backed Islamic Jihad.

An attack on Gaza's pipelines would be devastating for both Israel and the Gaza population, which relies on the supply lines for its fuel.

Since the ouster of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in February, similar attacks have been carried out three times now on an Egyptian pipeline located in the Sinai desert that supplies Israel with about 35 percent of its gas needs. All three attacks have been blamed on Jihadiya Salafiya and likeminded Islamist jihad groups.

Hamas telecommunications officials said yesterday an Israel Defense Forces bulldozer damaged a communications cable and cut all phone and Internet networks in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip the day before.

The IDF spokesman's office denied the army was "responsible for the incident" but added it was willing to "help restore communications."

An attack on Gaza's fuel pipelines could have negative implications for Gaza's Hamas rulers.

While both Hamas and al-Qaida are offshoots of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, the groups often clash over a difference in tactics.

In August 2008, Jihadiya Salafiya announced it established an armed wing, which it called the Damascus Soldiers, brandishing weapons in a public display in Gaza while openly identifying with al-Qaida ideologically.

Unlike other radical Islamic organizations such as Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, which have demonstrated some pragmatism in aspects of political life while still holding an Islamist worldview, the new al-Qaida organization believes in a strict interpretation of the Quran and that only the Quran can dictate how to act.

The Islamist group believes violent jihad is the primary way to spread Islam around the world, including jihad against secular Muslim states.

Hamas has worked with the al-Qaida-allied groups in Gaza. It took credit along with Jaish al-Islam for the kidnapping in June 2006 of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

But Jihadiya Salifiya has been regularly publishing pamphlets labeling Hamas as "non-Muslim" since the terror group ran in 2006 democratic elections, which the Islamist organizations see as an expression of Western values.

Also, for the past two years, al-Qaida leaders themselves have released audio tapes blasting Hamas for participating in elections and in the democratic process.

Hamas several times has engaged in heavy fire clashes with the Islamist organizations in Gaza, including Jihadiya Salafiya.

Read more: Did Israel just stop 'spectacular' terror attack? http://www.wnd.com/?pageId=332373#ixzz1WFg9Fhx2
3683  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / correction on: August 27, 2011, 12:28:18 PM
"He sounded like the appearer"

should have been appeaSer.  Sorry.
3684  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: August 27, 2011, 12:26:23 PM
"I would rather he not have put things like that, mostly because some people   will be determined to misportray it."

Exactly.  The main reason it is important so as not to give political adversaries fodder.

In a side note  but related, it has been interesting to see Bushies like Rove become adversaries.  I ask who elected him?

He damaged O'Donnel and now Perry. 

I saw Jeb Bush on Fox again.  He is definitely NOT the Republican this country needs.   He sounded like the appearer of the past not like I sounded last week. 

His families political "accomodating", if you will, has in retrospect, clearly helped lead us into the mess we are in now.

We don't need niceness.  We need someone who can express and explain the urgency/emergency we are in and give us a clear path out without appeasement.

No appeasement.  Respectful ok.  But strict and clear.  If we can't stop it here it is probably over.  As Doug also pointed out, here we are in the wrost economic crises in a lifetime and Brock still has a 50/50 chance of winning.  If that doesn't make it clear what we are up against (the welfare state) than nothing will.
3685  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Is this going to happen with every thunder storm now? on: August 27, 2011, 12:13:15 PM
Leon Panetta says 100,000 reserves are ready to help in hurricane disaster areas.

Troops abroad shouldn't worry their loved are safe.

Gov. Christie is advising thousands to get the hell out!

Mayor Bloomberg has evacuated  a million.

All for at most a category 1?

I agree with Michael Savage.  I have never seen such ridiculous hysteria over a storm.

Tomorrow we will read how it wasn't as bad as "expected" and thank God etc etc.

A few branches will come down a few basements flooded a power line down here or there for a hours or a day.

But the politicians will brag how they protected us and the media as always makes lots money.

Howard Kurtz will question the media frenzy on his CNN show and will have guests on who will after some phoney hand wringing conclude the media was correct in how they handled it all along.

And I was once told as a kid I was cynical?

3686  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / rebuttal part 3 on: August 27, 2011, 11:49:46 AM
Page 3 of 3

Portraying WWII as bounteous economically because statistical measures bettered is like confusing a high batting average with winning championships. You can hit well and still lose. Normally, hitting safely and decreased joblessness reflect success, but war is different. Unemployment lessened because the draft sent men into combat. Increasing production because women were forced into factories building bombs is deceptive.

Economics studies the transformation of scarce resources into that which best fulfills our unlimited desires. How does blowing up Germany boost American living standards? How is making men sleep in frigid fox holes under enemy fire enriching? How did rationing everything from the enjoyment of luxuries to our clothing and diets lift anyone’s material standing?

The military doesn’t jumpstart the economy, it protects producers. This represents patriotic sacrifice, not prosperity.

Production is the progenitor of wealth, but making things unvalued by markets doesn’t improve life. Neither does working harder to achieve the same result. Repairing damage caused by war or natural calamity through debt encumbrance does nothing to support sustainable growth. Once said project completes, we’re back where we started with debts to boot.

During the postwar era, both parties believed spending was stimulating and thought government intervention essential during downturns. But we almost invariably recovered before the spending packages even passed Congress. Unfortunately, rather than conclude that intervention is unnecessary, now, we rush spending bills through as if racing a deadline to preempt the natural ricochet so politicians can take credit.

Stimulus spending doesn’t augment aggregate demand unleashing our “animal spirits” towards growth. It invites crony capitalism, patronage and dependency. As funds flow through Washington, producers reorient from satisfying customers to lobbying politicians. War spending leads to the dreaded Military-Industrial Complex Republicans like Ike feared, but Neo-Cons today relish.

If resources were unlimited or little effort was necessary to extract value, we could consume at will. Instead, markets prioritize output by channeling resources via price signals. Government spending fails because politicians lack the vital feedback mechanism of profits and losses. It’s not their money. Military outlays exemplify this faulty prioritization. Once Congress gets involved, we can’t even cut defense projects the military finds redundant. What the military does demand is often exorbitantly overpriced.

Stimulus efforts allow politicians to dispense dollars in patronage schemes conferring power upon themselves at taxpayer expense. Congress buys votes with your money. Even if public spending did stimulate, such corruption is too repugnant to condone.

As government grows, it becomes increasingly self serving. Bureaucracy inevitably seeks its own expansion. Businesses succeed by producing efficiently and pleasing customers. Bureaucracies thrive via inefficiency. Exceeding one’s budget makes it easier to ask for more. Failure allows sinecures to grovel before Congress that greater funding can achieve what lower funding merely wasted.

Deficit spending has never once successfully stimulated recovery. Like our failed war on poverty or public education, interventionists consistently claim we haven’t spent sufficiently. Mimicking the New Deal’s failure, Keynesians today decry that the Bush and Obama stimulus bills were half-hearted.

Dr. Krugman so desperately seeks more spending that he wishes Congress would pretend aliens are invading. Washington could then control the economy – for our good, not theirs, he’d have us assume. Krugman assures us liberals have a conscience.

Whether they have any common sense is less certain.
3687  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / rebuttal part 2 on: August 27, 2011, 11:49:02 AM
After campaigning on fiscal discipline, FDR promptly accelerated Hoover’s initiatives, devising new economic experiments almost daily. As FDR’s economist Rexford Tugwell conceded, “We didn’t admit it at the time, but practically the whole New Deal was extrapolated from programs that Hoover started.” Despite ridiculing Hoover’s “extravagance,” FDR increased spending another 83% in his first three years.

The best unemployment result prior to WWII was 14% in 1937. European unemployment was far lower. By 1939, unemployment was back at 19% as FDR increased taxes and cut spending in preparation for war. As the government reined in its make-work projects, rather than weaning a sustainable recovery off the Keynesian incubator, the recovery reversed. The New Deal clearly failed to prime the private pump.

On the surface, wartime spending finally propelled America from the Depression’s pits. As war production expanded from roughly 2% of GDP to almost 40%, statistically, America rebounded. In 1940 dollars, GDP shot from $101.4 billion to $120.7 billion in 1941 up to $174.8 billion by 1945 while unemployment fell below 2%.

America didn’t officially enter the fray until December 1941. FDR had by then rescinded most New Deal regulations, scuttled the WPA and similar agencies and ceased his incessant public bickering with private business. Some surmise he stopped attacking industry recognizing he needed their help attacking fascism.

The pre Pearl Harbor boost stems from three factors: wartime spending by others, which does not reflect stimulus on Washington’s part; Lend-Lease, but giving away munitions abroad promotes no prosperity here, and the demise of the New Deal.

After netting out federal spending, GDP surged 17% from $91.9 billion in 1940 to $107.7 billion in 1941. Once engaged, our non-federal output trickled down to $101.4 billion by WWII’s conclusion in 1945. The private economy reflected little improvement, partly because private consumption was curbed. Living standards didn’t regain 1929 levels until America restored a market based economy in the aftermath of victory.

FDR dreaded the recession’s return as Keynesian theory suggested severe trouble when ten million plus soldiers returned home unemployed. The president proposed a “Bill of Economic Rights” predicated on aggregate demand maintenance. Congress thankfully repudiated it. Tax rates were slashed while war time rationing, price controls and regulations receded.

America was one of few industrial nations with its productive infrastructure intact. Despite federal spending falling from $93 billion in 1945 to under $30 billion by 1948 (in 1945 dollars), unemployment stabilized around 4% as Americans, free of New Deal shackles, launched an economic boom.
3688  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / From Forbes: Rebuttal to Krugman 1 on: August 27, 2011, 11:47:04 AM
From Doug's link from cognitive dissonance of the left moved here:

****No, Paul Krugman, WWII Did Not End The Great Depression
   
“There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” – Benjamin Disraeli

It’s a recurring fantasy for left wing academics fascinated by central planning that in cyclical downturns government should act decisively on a scale equivalent to war. Nobel Prize recipient Paul Krugman exemplifies this intellectual longing to steer our lives.

Krugman effortlessly slides into a war footing espousing intervention comparable to America’s crusade against Hitler, who, take note, centrally planned an economy himself:

“World War II is the great natural experiment in the effects of large increases in government spending, and as such has always served as an important positive example for those of us who favor an activist approach to a depressed economy.”

After WWII until its glaring failures manifest in the Seventies, Keynesianism inundated economic thought. Paul Samuelson’s textbooks became mainstays across the academy. Samuelson championed mathematical analysis, which transformed macroeconomics into a pseudo science spawning waves of budding planners infatuated with statistics.

From this basis the myth prevails that WWII finally overcame the Great Depression. History has revised Hoover, easily the most meddlesome peacetime president before FDR, into a laissez-faire reactionary. The New Deal – a disastrous example of everything not to do during downturns became beneficial, only it supposedly wasn’t aggressive enough.

Hoover tinkered with the economy throughout his term. The Smoot-Hawley Act of 1929 launched the trade war many believe precipitated the stock-market crash and the Depression. Then, fearing falling prices, he signed Norris-LaGuardia, Davis-Bacon and other acts, formed business cartels and farming associations all striving to arrest falling prices. Hoover also authored massive public works as he increased federal spending by 50%.

Page 1 2 3 « Previous PageNext Page »
Bill Flax
3689  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: August 27, 2011, 11:44:39 AM
Republicans must not let MSM and right elistist like the Bush people distract from the task at hand.

Stop worrying and hand wringing about minor issues like ocassional choice of words.

We must have a man/woman who as Doug rightly pointed out can stand right next to Brock and point out where he is lying, where he is wrong and starkly contrast why he is purposely taking this country in a direction that is wrong.

See my post from the Hillsdale college piece that beautifully shows how we are on a path to dismal mediocracy and probably eventiual ruin like in Europe.

JDN wants a paternalisitic security driven economy and welfare state.  I don't.  And I believe most people in America who truly understand what it means don't.

As for the immigrants the legal ones are not the same as the illegal ones.  The ones who are illegal clearly don't give a shit about our laws, our culture, our society.  They are here for jobs, to siphon off money to send back home and get whatever they can in the way of giveaways.  They are tilting the balance in favor of a welfare state.

This may very well be the last stand as the Hillsdale piece suggests.  Soon more than 50% of our population will receiving bribes.

The whole system will come crashing down eventually.

3690  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / From Hillsdale College - great piece on: August 27, 2011, 11:33:06 AM
July/August 2011

Václav Klaus
President,
Czech Republic
The Crisis of the European Union: Causes and Significance
Václav Klaus, the president of the Czech Republic, spoke to friends of Hillsdale College in Berlin during Hillsdale’s 2011 cruise in the Baltic Sea. The speech was delivered at Berlin’s Hotel Adlon on June 11, 2011.

As some of you may know, this is not my first contact with Hillsdale College. I vividly remember my visit to Hillsdale more than ten years ago, in March 2000. The winter temperatures the evening I arrived, the sudden spring the next morning, and the summer the following day can’t be forgotten, at least for a Central European who lives—together with Antonio Vivaldi—in le quattro stagioni. My more important and long-lasting connection with Hillsdale is my regular and careful reading of Imprimis. I have always considered the texts published there very stimulating and persuasive.

The title of my previous speech at Hillsdale was “The Problems of Liberty in a Newly-Born Democracy and Market Economy.” At that time, we were only ten years after the fall of communism, and the topic was relevant. It is different now. Not only is communism over, our radical transition from communism to a free society is over, too. We face different challenges and see new dangers on the horizon. So let me say a few words about the continent of Europe today, which you’ve been visiting on your cruise.

You may like the old Europe—full of history, full of culture, full of decadence, full of fading beauty—and I do as well. But the political, social and economic developments here bother me. Unlike you, I am neither a visitor to Europe nor an uninvolved observer of it. I live here, and I do not see any reason to describe the current Europe in a propagandistic way, using rosy colors or glasses. Many of us in Europe are aware of the fact that it faces a serious problem, which is not a short- or medium-term business cycle-like phenomenon. Nor is it a consequence of the recent financial and economic crisis. This crisis only made it more visible. As an economist, I would call it a structural problem, which will not, by itself, wither away. We will not simply outgrow it, as some hope or believe.

It used to look quite different here. The question is when things started to change. The post-World War II reconstruction of Europe was a success because the war eliminated, or at least weakened, all kinds of special-interest coalitions and pressure groups. In the following decades, Europe was growing, peaceful, stable and relevant. Why is Europe less successful and less relevant today?

I see it basically as a result of two interrelated phenomena—the European integration process on the one hand, and the evolution of the European economic and social system on the other—both of which have been undergoing a fundamental change in the context of the “brave new world” of our permissive, anti-market, redistributive society, a society that has forgotten the ideas on which the greatness of Europe was built.

I will start with the first issue, because I repeatedly see that people on other continents do not have a proper understanding of the European integration process—of its effects and consequences. It is partly because they do not care—which is quite rational—and partly because they accept a priori the idea that a regional integration is—regardless of its form, style, methods and ambitions—an exclusively positive, progressive and politically correct project. They also very often accept the conventional wisdom that the weakening of nation-states, and the strengthening of supranational institutions, is a movement in the right direction. I know there are many opponents of such a view in your country—at such places as Hillsdale—but it has many supporters as well.

A positive evaluation of developments in Europe over the past 50 years can be explained only as an underestimation of what has been going on recently. In the 1950s, the leading idea behind the European integration was to liberalize, to open up, to remove all kinds of barriers which existed at the borders of individual countries, to enable the free movement of goods, services, people and ideas across the European continent. This was undisputedly a step forward, and it helped Europe significantly.

But European integration took a different course during the 1980s, and the decisive breakthrough came with the Maastricht Treaty in December 1991. Political interests that sought to unify and create a new superpower out of Europe started to dominate. Integration had turned into unification, and liberalization had turned into centralization of decision making, the harmonization of rules and legislation, the strengthening of European institutions at the expense of institutions in the member states, and what can even be called post-democracy. Since then, Europe’s constituting elements—the states—have been consistently and systematically undermined. It was forgotten that states are the only institutions where real democracy is possible.

After the fall of communism, the Czech Republic wanted to reassume its place among European democracies. We did not want to sit aside—as we were forced to do throughout the communist era—and European Union membership was the only alternative. Nothing else legitimizes a country in Europe these days. Therefore we joined the EU in May 2004. However, for those of us who spent most of our lives in the authoritative, oppressive, and non-functioning communist regime, the ongoing weakening of democracy and of free markets on the European continent represents something we did not expect and did not wish for in the moment of the fall of communism.

The most visible European problem today is the European monetary union, which was presented as the most important unification achievement following the Maastricht Treaty. The realization of this monetary union has not delivered the positive effects that—rightly or wrongly—had been expected from it. It was intended to accelerate economic growth, reduce inflation, and protect member states against external economic disruptions or so-called exogenous shocks. It has not worked. After the establishment of the euro zone, the economic growth of its member states slowed down relative to previous decades, thus increasing the gap between the rate of growth in the euro zone countries and that in other major economies. The internal disequilibria—such as trade imbalances and state budget imbalances—became larger, not smaller. And there is no indicator pointing towards a growing convergence in the euro zone countries. During its first decade of existence, a common currency has not led to any measurable homogenization of the member states’ economies.

It should have been clear to all, as it was to me, that the idea of a single European currency was essentially wrong—that it would create huge economic problems and lead inevitably to an undemocratic centralization of Europe. To my great regret, this is exactly what has been happening. The euro zone, which comprises 17 countries, is not an “optimum currency area” as defined by economic theory. In a currency or monetary union—which amounts to an extreme form of fixed exchange rates—it is inevitable that the costs of establishing and especially maintaining it exceed its benefits. Most economic commentators were satisfied by the ease and apparent inexpensiveness of the establishment of Europe’s common monetary area. In recent years, however, the negative effects of the straightjacket of a single currency have become more and more evident. When good economic weather prevailed, no visible problems arose. But when bad economic weather set in, the lack of homogeneity manifested itself quite strongly.

It is difficult to speculate about the future of the euro. I suppose that it will not collapse, because a huge amount of political capital was invested in its existence. It will continue to exist, but at a very high price in terms of large-scale fiscal transfers—the shuffling around of problems between countries, which amounts to a non-solution—and of low economic growth rates.

The second reason for European economic problems—not specifically European, but worse in Europe than elsewhere—has to do with the quality, productivity and efficiency of its economic and social system. Europe is characterized by a seemingly people-friendly, non-demanding, paternalistic and—in consequence—insufficiently productive economic and social system called die soziale Markwirtschaft, or social democracy. This system, with its generous social benefits, weakened motivation, shortened working hours, prolonged years of study, lowered retirement ages, diminished the supply of labor—both at the macro level and structurally—and led to very slow economic growth.

In Europe, we have witnessed a gradual shift away from liberalizing and removing barriers and towards a massive introduction of regulation from above, an ever-expanding welfare system, new and more sophisticated forms of protectionism, and continuously growing legal and regulatory burdens on business. All of these weaken and restrain freedom, democracy and democratic accountability, not to mention economic efficiency, entrepreneurship and competitiveness.

Europeans today prefer leisure to performance, security to risk-taking, paternalism to free markets, collectivism and group entitlements to individualism. They have always been more risk-averse than Americans, but the difference continues to grow. Economic freedom has a very low priority here. It seems that Europeans are not interested in capitalism and free markets and do not understand that their current behavior undermines the very institutions that made their past success possible. They are eager to defend their non-economic freedoms—the easiness, looseness, laxity and permissiveness of modern or post-modern European society—but when it comes to their economic freedoms, they are quite indifferent.

The critical situation in Europe today is visible to everybody. It is not possible to hide it. I had believed that this spectacle would be a help to the cause of political and economic freedom in Europe, but this is not proving to be the case. Of course, with the way your American government has been going, you might be able to catch up with us—in terms of our problems—very soon. But you are not as far along yet. So maybe seeing Europe’s crisis today will at least help you in America turn back toward freedom.
__________________________________________________________________________________
On Václav Klaus

Larry P. Arnn
President, Hillsdale College

The following remarks were made in introducing Václav Klaus to Hillsdale College cruisers at the Hotel Adlon in Berlin on June 11, 2011.

We will have lived fortunate lives if we meet more people than we can count on our fingers who have studied the art of politics and the principles of economics, and who have done high and courageous service in that art. Today we meet and hear from such a man.

Václav Klaus is the president of the Czech Republic, and has served twice as its prime minister. He was born in Prague in 1941, and holds his doctorate in economics from the University of Economics in Prague, where he still teaches. He also studied in Italy in 1966 and in the United States in 1969.

In 1989, large events began to unfold in the world, including events right outside this hotel where the Berlin Wall stood. These events were terribly significant in the native country of our speaker, who had begun his career as an academic, worked for a long time in a state bank, and eventually returned to the academy. In the month in which the prospect of freedom came in the Czech Republic—or Czechoslovakia as it was then—he was immediately appointed its finance minister, in which role he set out to restructure his nation’s economy.

Our speaker is a believer in the free market and a member of the Mont Pelerin Society, a society dedicated to freedom that was founded in 1947 by people like Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman. Lately he has been something incredible and unique in the context of European politics—a person in high authority who is critical of the steady advance of centralized power in the European Union, and of the absence of accountability in its government to the peoples who are ruled by it.

Our speaker is part of one of the greatest stories in modern times. The people of Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic are among the handful of peoples who had the disaster strike them of being ruled first by the German Nazis and then by the Soviet Communists. Nothing could be more abusive than to have either of those things happen, except to have both of them happen. And there is something about the Czech Republic that it has always stood up against such rule. Churchill thought that one of the worst tragedies of the 1930s was to abandon that brave place to Hitler. When the Iron Curtain fell, it would be one of the first places to rally.

Today we meet a man who came forward to show the alternative to collectivist rule, based on a distinction that Churchill loved. It had been a government where the government owned the people. How then could it become a government where the people own the government? I think it is no exaggeration to say that one of the most clear-sighted, deeply learned, and steadily courageous of all of the servants of human freedom in our age is the president of the Czech Republic, Václav Klaus.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

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© 2007-09 Hillsdale College. All rights reserved.
3691  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of the Republicans on: August 26, 2011, 04:23:54 PM
My only request is for Republicans to stop being afraid of speaking the truth.  For example Senator Inhofe makes good points but then has to add:

"and I don’t mean this disrespectfully,"

Will other Republicans get a titanium spine like Bachman and just say it like it is?  Why do they have to always temper their opinions with things like "I like the President personally" or "I think he is well meaning" or "a great American".  He is not a nice guy.  He is not honest and he is more about being a great *anti*- American, and he is *not* well meaning.  He is destroying out country plain and simple.  I wish Mark Levin could reach out to the rest of American and not just the choir.  He says it like it is.  Why won't her run for office?

****Inhofe lays long list of nation’s ills at Obama’s feet
 
BLAME GAME
U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe: He said Obama is at fault for the U.S. debt problem.
By RANDY KREHBIEL World Staff Writer
Published: 8/24/2011  4:04 AM
Last Modified: 8/24/2011  4:04 AM

BROKEN ARROW — President Barack Obama alone is to blame for the nation’s budget deficit – and just about everything else, U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe told the Broken Arrow Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday.
“We now have a president, and I don’t mean this disrespectfully, who is destroying these very institutions that made America great,” Inhofe, R-Okla., said.

Inhofe went on to say the Obama administration has “disarmed America,” is solely responsible for the federal budget deficit, mostly responsible for the nation’s dependence on imported oil and suffocating business with regulations.

He also said Obama engineered the House Republicans’ ban on earmarks in order to give himself more control of the budget.

“When they came along with this moratorium, you have to let the president run everything,” Inhofe said. “They conceded that authority to the president of the United States, so that’s why the president was behind the whole earmark thing."

Inhofe said the earmark ban allowed the administration to block a new $10 million control tower scheduled for Tinker Air Force Base.

He said military spending, as a share of gross domestic product, has declined during the Obama administration and criticized unflattering descriptions of the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where terror suspects are held, saying, “You know the biggest problem for prisoners when they get to Gitmo? Obesity."

Inhofe said the idea that prisoners have been tortured there was invented by Obama and others “to make you think something bad is happening in America — the same thing he does and others do when they go around talking about how bad America is."

Inhofe said the deficit is Obama’s fault because “it’s the president’s budget. Period. That’s the end of it."

He said the recent debtlimit agreement is a sham that does little or nothing to reduce overall spending. One solution, he continued, would be to repeal the health-care reform law, which he said is an example of “social engineering” designed to make Americans more dependent on the federal government.

Inhofe also cited extended unemployment benefits, saying he saw no reason for them in Oklahoma because the state has “virtually full employment."

Inhofe laid out a long list of regulatory steps he said would cost taxpayers and employers billions of dollars in taxes and lost productivity, and said the country could be “totally independent from the Middle East in a matter of weeks, not years,” if the administration allowed unfettered oil and gas development on public lands.

Noting that he will not be up for re-election until 2014, Inhofe said, “Don’t misunderstand, (nothing) I’m saying now is for political purposes."*****
3692  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / rebuttal part 3 on: August 26, 2011, 04:09:50 PM
Page 3 of 3

Portraying WWII as bounteous economically because statistical measures bettered is like confusing a high batting average with winning championships. You can hit well and still lose. Normally, hitting safely and decreased joblessness reflect success, but war is different. Unemployment lessened because the draft sent men into combat. Increasing production because women were forced into factories building bombs is deceptive.

Economics studies the transformation of scarce resources into that which best fulfills our unlimited desires. How does blowing up Germany boost American living standards? How is making men sleep in frigid fox holes under enemy fire enriching? How did rationing everything from the enjoyment of luxuries to our clothing and diets lift anyone’s material standing?

The military doesn’t jumpstart the economy, it protects producers. This represents patriotic sacrifice, not prosperity.

Production is the progenitor of wealth, but making things unvalued by markets doesn’t improve life. Neither does working harder to achieve the same result. Repairing damage caused by war or natural calamity through debt encumbrance does nothing to support sustainable growth. Once said project completes, we’re back where we started with debts to boot.

During the postwar era, both parties believed spending was stimulating and thought government intervention essential during downturns. But we almost invariably recovered before the spending packages even passed Congress. Unfortunately, rather than conclude that intervention is unnecessary, now, we rush spending bills through as if racing a deadline to preempt the natural ricochet so politicians can take credit.

Stimulus spending doesn’t augment aggregate demand unleashing our “animal spirits” towards growth. It invites crony capitalism, patronage and dependency. As funds flow through Washington, producers reorient from satisfying customers to lobbying politicians. War spending leads to the dreaded Military-Industrial Complex Republicans like Ike feared, but Neo-Cons today relish.

If resources were unlimited or little effort was necessary to extract value, we could consume at will. Instead, markets prioritize output by channeling resources via price signals. Government spending fails because politicians lack the vital feedback mechanism of profits and losses. It’s not their money. Military outlays exemplify this faulty prioritization. Once Congress gets involved, we can’t even cut defense projects the military finds redundant. What the military does demand is often exorbitantly overpriced.

Stimulus efforts allow politicians to dispense dollars in patronage schemes conferring power upon themselves at taxpayer expense. Congress buys votes with your money. Even if public spending did stimulate, such corruption is too repugnant to condone.

As government grows, it becomes increasingly self serving. Bureaucracy inevitably seeks its own expansion. Businesses succeed by producing efficiently and pleasing customers. Bureaucracies thrive via inefficiency. Exceeding one’s budget makes it easier to ask for more. Failure allows sinecures to grovel before Congress that greater funding can achieve what lower funding merely wasted.

Deficit spending has never once successfully stimulated recovery. Like our failed war on poverty or public education, interventionists consistently claim we haven’t spent sufficiently. Mimicking the New Deal’s failure, Keynesians today decry that the Bush and Obama stimulus bills were half-hearted.

Dr. Krugman so desperately seeks more spending that he wishes Congress would pretend aliens are invading. Washington could then control the economy – for our good, not theirs, he’d have us assume. Krugman assures us liberals have a conscience.

Whether they have any common sense is less certain.

3693  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / rebuttal part 2 on: August 26, 2011, 04:08:19 PM
 Bill Flax, Contributor

I write about the intersection of economics and culture.

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No, Paul Krugman, WWII Did Not End The Great Depression
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 Mr. Delosangeles, Thank you for the date correction. Production peaked in the summer [...]

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 18 9 3 3 2 Page 2 of 3

After campaigning on fiscal discipline, FDR promptly accelerated Hoover’s initiatives, devising new economic experiments almost daily. As FDR’s economist Rexford Tugwell conceded, “We didn’t admit it at the time, but practically the whole New Deal was extrapolated from programs that Hoover started.” Despite ridiculing Hoover’s “extravagance,” FDR increased spending another 83% in his first three years.

The best unemployment result prior to WWII was 14% in 1937. European unemployment was far lower. By 1939, unemployment was back at 19% as FDR increased taxes and cut spending in preparation for war. As the government reined in its make-work projects, rather than weaning a sustainable recovery off the Keynesian incubator, the recovery reversed. The New Deal clearly failed to prime the private pump.

On the surface, wartime spending finally propelled America from the Depression’s pits. As war production expanded from roughly 2% of GDP to almost 40%, statistically, America rebounded. In 1940 dollars, GDP shot from $101.4 billion to $120.7 billion in 1941 up to $174.8 billion by 1945 while unemployment fell below 2%.

America didn’t officially enter the fray until December 1941. FDR had by then rescinded most New Deal regulations, scuttled the WPA and similar agencies and ceased his incessant public bickering with private business. Some surmise he stopped attacking industry recognizing he needed their help attacking fascism.

The pre Pearl Harbor boost stems from three factors: wartime spending by others, which does not reflect stimulus on Washington’s part; Lend-Lease, but giving away munitions abroad promotes no prosperity here, and the demise of the New Deal.

After netting out federal spending, GDP surged 17% from $91.9 billion in 1940 to $107.7 billion in 1941. Once engaged, our non-federal output trickled down to $101.4 billion by WWII’s conclusion in 1945. The private economy reflected little improvement, partly because private consumption was curbed. Living standards didn’t regain 1929 levels until America restored a market based economy in the aftermath of victory.

FDR dreaded the recession’s return as Keynesian theory suggested severe trouble when ten million plus soldiers returned home unemployed. The president proposed a “Bill of Economic Rights” predicated on aggregate demand maintenance. Congress thankfully repudiated it. Tax rates were slashed while war time rationing, price controls and regulations receded.

America was one of few industrial nations with its productive infrastructure intact. Despite federal spending falling from $93 billion in 1945 to under $30 billion by 1948 (in 1945 dollars), unemployment stabilized around 4% as Americans, free of New Deal shackles, launched an economic boom.

3694  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Forbes rebuttel to Krugman 1 on: August 26, 2011, 04:06:16 PM
From Doug's link from cognitive dissonance of the left moved here:

****No, Paul Krugman, WWII Did Not End The Great Depression
   
“There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” – Benjamin Disraeli

It’s a recurring fantasy for left wing academics fascinated by central planning that in cyclical downturns government should act decisively on a scale equivalent to war. Nobel Prize recipient Paul Krugman exemplifies this intellectual longing to steer our lives.

Krugman effortlessly slides into a war footing espousing intervention comparable to America’s crusade against Hitler, who, take note, centrally planned an economy himself:

“World War II is the great natural experiment in the effects of large increases in government spending, and as such has always served as an important positive example for those of us who favor an activist approach to a depressed economy.”

After WWII until its glaring failures manifest in the Seventies, Keynesianism inundated economic thought. Paul Samuelson’s textbooks became mainstays across the academy. Samuelson championed mathematical analysis, which transformed macroeconomics into a pseudo science spawning waves of budding planners infatuated with statistics.

From this basis the myth prevails that WWII finally overcame the Great Depression. History has revised Hoover, easily the most meddlesome peacetime president before FDR, into a laissez-faire reactionary. The New Deal – a disastrous example of everything not to do during downturns became beneficial, only it supposedly wasn’t aggressive enough.

Hoover tinkered with the economy throughout his term. The Smoot-Hawley Act of 1929 launched the trade war many believe precipitated the stock-market crash and the Depression. Then, fearing falling prices, he signed Norris-LaGuardia, Davis-Bacon and other acts, formed business cartels and farming associations all striving to arrest falling prices. Hoover also authored massive public works as he increased federal spending by 50%.

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Bill Flax
3695  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The congnitive dissonance of the left on: August 26, 2011, 12:43:44 PM
Doug,
Thanks for your response.

"the foundations of Christianity are the same.  Helping the poor is a wonderful theme - always on display in church.  We are merely arguing politically over which system helps them best.  I have not yet found in the Bible where they measure the good you do in terms of coercive measures you impose on other people's work and money, or anything that supports the erosion of responsible personal freedoms.  More specifically I believe it warns (commands) against the worship of these other Gods, like sacred govt entitlement programs.

Excellent points.  What is moral about forcing some to pay for others or for those others to sit back and demand that the some pay for them?

It seems it is no longer hallowed to speak about God.  We can no longer sing the national enthem.  The pedge of allegence is banned.  No prayer in school.  God and anything public must be banned.  No clergy at 9/11.  Yet say anything bad about Social Security or Medicare and those on those doles howl like warewolves.  These have become the (false) Gods/idols as you suggest.

They are now the hollowed framework or ground of America.

Everyone is entitled to not just  health care whether they can or will pay for it or not, but school, education, food, housing, retirement, pensions, vacation, travel time, unemployment, disability for anything, free internet. 

But it doesn't work when the numbers of people footing the bills for all this are becoming less and less.

Liberals will never give in.  I  am guessing it is too late for change without a real disaster.  The disaster may not be around the corner but it is inevitable because of the malignant growth and persistance of progressive ideology. 

For example, do away with mother or father and use only "parent".  Why not get do away with male, female, heterosexual, homosexual, black, white, muslim, jew, christian, hindu, rich poor, american french, arab, indian, chinese.  We should all be the same.  Not fat, not skinny, not tall.  Just people.  "individual" - my point is there can be no end to this.


3696  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Doug: Narcissism is the key on: August 26, 2011, 11:03:58 AM
"clueless" is not the only word.

Alter is one of the Jewish progressives who sit in their little narcisstic world thinking they are better, smarter, more all knowing than those that cling to guns and religion.  They think because they come out publically to champion the poor this somehow makes them better.  It is not just a religious thing wherein Judaism teaches to help the poor.  It is as had been clued to me by a post on this board - NARCISSM.   These sort of Jews (and non-Jewish liberals as well) really do think they are better, smarter and more clever because they are for the Democrat party.  Yet many if not most spend their entire lives working to get better of financially.

Apart from their outrageous hypocracy, they refuse to admit their political theories of redistribution, equal wealth to all, government enforcement of this, socialism, communism and the rest of it is actually going to make things worse.  History proves it makes things worse.  They think they are levelling the playing field for all when instead they are creating power for those few elites who pretend to know what is best for all.

It is more precisely this all knowing all paternalitstic attitude and condescention that turns the world off to Jews IMHO.  For all their pretending to lose sleep over the poor (until their pocketbooks are threatened - not the "taxpayers") - just to the contrary - intead of us being appreciated and loved for our (Jewish) concern for the downtrodden, the underdog if you will - Jews are the most despised disliked and beaten down group in history.  Look at Soros.  He himself stated he has "inadvertantly" served to propogate the idea that Jews run the world.  Well, he has certainly used every ounce of his financial power and political connections that confers to do just that.

So Jonathan ALter thinks because he votes as a Democrat we/he will be loved?

He certainly loves himself.  Narcissim IS the word that explains it to me.  It hit me like a club a few weeks ago.  That is the key that unlocks the mystery behind why Jews are so liberal.  It makes them think they are therefore better than everyone else.  That is it.   The answer. 

Quite the contrary.  We are resented.  Who the hell do we think we are telling what is best for everyone and forcing it all on us with big government!

I am proud of being Jewish yet I am disgusted by this narcissistic group within our ranks. 
3697  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / thanks BD on: August 26, 2011, 10:41:17 AM
The only time I was in Memphis was at a Gilder conference.  cry  Those tech boom days were much happier for me.
I don't think this museum was there yet.  As part of the Gilder tour we did see the Elvis Presley museum. cheesy

Something like this makes sense to be in DC (as well).  It makes mores sense than a holocaust museum frankly since it is directly associated with our nation's history.
3698  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Race in America/ will it ever stop dividing us? on: August 26, 2011, 10:19:37 AM
The scars of slavery, Jim Crow, segregation, etc run deep.  Only Blacks can actually still think the media is unfair to Brock.  It is like OJ Simpson is found innocent despite overwhelming evidence in the news (not necessarily the trial) and yet Blacks decide to celebrate when he is found innocent.  It isn't simply all emotional however.  It is about reparations and the expectation of due for some transfer of wealth.

****Posted on August 26, 2011
Rep. Cummings: Most Blacks Think Obama "Has Been Treated Unfairly"
rep cummings most blacks think obama has been treated unfairly
"There's another thing the press seems to not get. A lot of African-Americans that I've talked to, most of them say that they 'feel this President has been treated unfairly.' They believe he has done every single thing in his power to try to create jobs, to try to make sure this economy moves forward. He's gone against just fierce opposition. I think, I mean if you look at the evidence, that's true. He's accomplished a lot in the short time he's been President. But the fact is, it has not been easy and will not continue to be easy," Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) said on "Morning Joe" this morning.****

   
3699  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Museum would have been far smarter on: August 25, 2011, 02:44:59 PM
It would have made more sense to have a museum dedicated to civil rights portraying it from slavery to the present thereby encompassing the whole struggle and the (millions) who (not just the one guy) did not struggle in vain. 

It would have been a learning experience for those too young to know and a reminder for those who are old enough to remember.

Instead we got a politically correct monstrosity.

This statue stands for appeasement in my view.  Not a stark reminder of a shameful part of our history.
3700  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / W is the hero of Libyia on: August 25, 2011, 02:35:55 PM
Well naturally Brock is going to take credit for Lybia.  He turned it mostly over to Nato and it was a no brainer that Ghaddafi, a brute with a third rate military force could be defeated at any time.  Yet now he wants credit for it. 

The truth is none of this "Arab spring" or whatever one wants to call it would have ever happened if not for W getting rid of Saddam.  So if one wants to give credit for this than give W and the neocons credit.

That all said I don't buy any of it myself.
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