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G M
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« Reply #850 on: November 10, 2010, 08:41:26 PM »

RICO has been a very effective tool in breaking up organized crime cartels, and most of it's applicable statutes do not involve illegal drugs.

So why don't the Chinese people embrace the drug legalization that the British were kind enough to provide them with?
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ccp
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« Reply #851 on: November 15, 2010, 10:47:11 AM »

I haven't yet read the whole piece but the first thing I thought of when I saw the title, that the Presidency "is too big for one man" is Jimmy Carter.  That was the *exact* question that was being asked when he was President.  Indeed he even stated it when he was overwhelmed.  Now we have another big government man who is over his head thinking government should control everything and everyone and we have the same declaration.  The problem is not that the Presidency is too big for one man but we have one man trying to take control over everything.  He simply doesn't know what he is doing.

The government should protect us, enforce our laws, equal opportunity and that's about it "off the top off my head).

http://www.newsweek.com/2010/11/13/is-the-presidency-too-big-a-job.html
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G M
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« Reply #852 on: November 15, 2010, 10:56:28 AM »

The federal gov't should follow it's duties as outlined in the constitution and leave the states to worry about the rest.
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ccp
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« Reply #853 on: November 17, 2010, 12:26:21 PM »

Just a thought.  Rangel recently complained that he was found guilty despite being allowed legal representation and the reason was to get this through with the present Congress.   My thinking is of course the Dems who are now in control want to get this whole affair dispensed with ASAP.  Additionally, we all know that with a Dem controlled committee Rangel will not recommmend expulsion.  I would think that would be a far more likely event if the Repubs were in control after they take power.

This whole thing is a song and dance for show.  Yeah they will fine him, maybe censor (whatever that means) but he will still be allowed to serve as a congressman.  This despite the fact he is taking bribes and stealing.  The joke is on Americans.  What a club it is in DC for these guys and gals!

***House ethics panel convicts Rep. Rangel on 11 of 13 counts of rule violations
By Susan Crabtree and Jordan Fabian - 11/16/10 11:55 AM ET
 
Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.), once one of the most powerful members of the House, was convicted Tuesday on 11 counts of violating ethics rules and now faces punishment.

Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), the chairwoman of the adjudicatory subcommittee and the full House ethics committee, announced the decision late Tuesday morning following an abbreviated public trial and nearly six hours of deliberations.



"We have tried to act with fairness, led only by the facts and the law," Lofgren said. "We believe we have accomplished that mission."

The full ethics panel will now convene a sanctions hearing to recommend a punishment, which ethics experts say will most likely be a reprimand or formal censure. The ethics committee had yet to announce by Tuesday afternoon when the hearing would occur.

Serious sanctions — including formal reprimand, censure or expulsion — require a vote on the House floor. Expulsion requires a two-thirds vote, while a reprimand, to which Rangel refused to agree in July, or a censure would need only a simple majority. The ethics panel could also impose a fine and deny some of Rangel’s House privileges.

But Rangel, 80, is certainly not expected to lose his job. The silver-haired 20-term veteran, known for his gravelly voice, sense of humor and sartorial splendor, is still beloved by many of his House colleagues. And in the lame-duck session, Democrats still hold the majority.

Either reprimand or formal censure carries no immediate, tangible consequence for Rangel, who easily won reelection this month, but the sweeping guilty verdict delivers a damaging blow to his reputation and 40-year political legacy.

Years of negative publicity and his drawn-out defense pushed the specter of the trial into the 2010 campaign season, angering House Democratic leaders and forcing some of Rangel's colleagues to return campaign contributions from him. Earlier this year, he was stripped of his powerful Ways and Means gavel after an initial investigation into a corporate-funded trip to the Caribbean concluded he should have known that his aides were trying to evade ethics rules.

Asked if he had any reaction to the panel's decision, Rangel initially told reporters, "Nope, none,” adding that he first saw the ruling on television.

Later, in an official statement, Rangel slammed the ethics subcommittee's "unprecedented" decision, saying his due-process rights were violated because the panel ruled without him having legal representation.

"How can anyone have confidence in the decision of the ethics subcommittee when I was deprived of due-process rights, right to counsel and was not even in the room?" Rangel said. "I can only hope that the full committee will treat me more fairly, and take into account my entire 40 years of service to the Congress before making any decisions on sanction."

Rangel also lamented the lack of a system to appeal the House ethics panel’s decision.

“While I am required to accept the findings of the ethics committee, I am compelled to state again the unfairness of its continuation without affording me the opportunity to obtain legal counsel as guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution," he said.

The decision comes one day after the panel rejected an emotional plea by Rangel to delay the trial because he lacked counsel. Rangel’s team of attorneys told him in mid-October that they could no longer represent him, and Rangel said he could not afford to hire a replacement right away after incurring nearly $2 million in legal fees over the past two years.

The adjudicatory panel, which operated as a jury of his peers, found that Rangel had used House stationery and staff to solicit money for a school of public policy in his name at the City College of New York. It also concluded that he solicited donors for the center with interests before the Ways and Means Committee. Members of Congress are allowed to solicit money for nonprofit entities — even those bearing their names — as long as they do not use congressional letterhead or office resources to do so.

The ethics panel split 4-4 on a charge that Rangel violated the gift ban because the plans for the center included an office and the archiving of his personal and professional papers.

The panel also found Rangel guilty of using an apartment in Harlem zoned for residential use as his campaign office, failing to report more than $600,000 on his financial disclosure report and failing to pay taxes on rental income from a villa he owns in the Dominican Republic.

Two counts charging him with improper use of the Congress’s free franked-mail privilege were combined into one.

Melanie Sloan, the executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, applauded the decision and called on Rangel to resign.

"All of Mr. Rangel's theatrics aside, the facts were clear: Mr. Rangel violated numerous House rules and federal laws," she said. "Whether these violations were deliberate or inadvertent, the American people deserve to be represented by members of Congress who adhere to the highest ethical standards. Mr. Rangel should resign."

Democracy 21’s Fred Wertheimer said the committee’s findings demonstrate the need for new ethics rules prohibiting members of Congress from soliciting money to finance institutes or centers in their name. He urged the House to promptly adopt new ethics rules barring the practice.

“There are inherent conflict-of-interest and appearance problems when members solicit money for entities named to honor the members,” he said. “Members of Congress should be prohibited from soliciting money to build monuments to themselves.”***

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ccp
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« Reply #854 on: November 17, 2010, 12:28:49 PM »

"Dem controlled committee Rangel will not recommmend expulsion"

I mean with a Dem controlled committee they will not expulse Rangel.  They will act like they are coming down hard.  A fine.  A "formal rebuke".
But we all know he is not going anywhere.  They will cover for him in the end.   
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #855 on: November 18, 2010, 10:13:47 AM »

The Politics thread is more suitable for this and related subjects.
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Body-by-Guinness
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« Reply #856 on: November 21, 2010, 11:08:59 AM »

Lotsa links embedded in the original piece.

Gropers To Gropees: Shut Up And Take It, Or Hit The Road

Nov 12, 2010 By Ken. Politics & Current Events

I believe in American exceptionalism. That means I believe that our history and values and sacrifices and our learned-from wrongs combine to make something unique and wonderful and worth protecting and celebrating. That exceptionalism is not a function of geography or an accident of birth. It’s a result of fidelity — of adherence to shared values that make us mighty. I may disagree with others about what it means when it comes to policy and practice, but I believe firmly that it is true.

Americans can be murdered by terrorists, but shared values cannot be destroyed by guns and bombs and planes. Yet our adversaries in the “War on Terror” can most certainly win. They can win by frightening us into infidelity to our values, into betraying our best selves. Some would argue that they are already winning by that measure.

I can see what they mean. When we allow ourselves to be irrationally frightened into letting upjumped smirking thugs grope us, gape at our nads, and tell us we have to take it, we’re losing. We’re being unfaithful to what makes us great.

I’m talking, of course, about the Transportation Security Agency.

We’ve blogged a fair amount about the TSA here, and not in a flattering way. We’ve talked about how the TSA can’t distinguish between a thing and a picture of a thing, thinks that it has authority to investigate illicit cash (and believes that telling them it’s none of their business represents suspicious behavior), relies on junk science to “detect” danger, feels entitled to your unquestioning obedience (and tries to earn it not with competence but with, in effect, a also-ran muppet), and is vigilant against pressing dangers like Decepticons. Of course, if you recruit on pizza boxes, you’re not going to wind up with Elliot Ness. You’re going to get people who use the body scanners to make fun of people’s genitals, pretend to find cocaine in passengers’ luggage as a prank, steal from carry-ons, and generally act like badged choads. Oh, and sex offenders. Don’t forget the sex offenders. A security checkpoint is Walt Disney World for them.

As with so many other Security State measures added since 9/11, in the face of intrusive Security Theater the public has mostly confined its dissent to grumbling about inconvenience and delay. We don’t focus enough on those measures being revoltingly intrusive. That’s because we’re easy to scare and fundamentally innumerate. As Wil Wilkerson points out, we’re only cowed into being abused because we were told there would be no math:

I think this is one of those subjects that demands we step back, take a deep breath, and consider with a clear mind just how phenomenally idiotic the government’s policy of increasingly invasive degradation really is. Law-abiding travelers, who pose approximately zero risk of terrorism, and offer no ground for reasonable suspicion of wrongdoing, must run this gauntlet of abasement because airplanes were once made the instrument of mass death. The odds of being a victim of terrorism on a flight are approximately 1 in 10,408,947—rather less than the 1 in 500,000 odds of getting killed by lightning.

Would we submit to standing in line and having government workers rifle through our pockets and ask us annoying questions before being allowed to go outside on a stormy day, to reduce the chance of being hit by lightening? No. But we’ve submitted to far worse from the TSA because we’ve allowed the government to scare the bejeesus out of us about bin Laden being in every overhead bin, and convinced ourselves that it actually makes good sense to spend an hour of our trip standing in line and being probed by a guy in a polyester shirt, but no sense to spend five more minutes on our trip by driving the speed limit on the way to the airport, even though driving is many orders of magnitude more likely to kill us. We’ve allowed ourselves to be scared moronic and compliant. Like cows.

Now, however, the TSA might possibly have found a way to startle the herd into genuine anger and defiance. The TSA has rolled out its program requiring you to submit to either a body-revealing scan or a gropefest patdown. Between revealing full-body scanners and the alternative “enhanced pat-downs,” Americans are as close as they have been since 9/11 to calling bullshit on the ever-increasing Security Theater. Is the TSA managing that anger well? Of course not. Some of them smirk that we like it. Still others are clearly furious that the cows are no longer, well, cowed. There are increasing reports that the enhanced pat downs are being threatened, and used, in an angry and retaliatory fashion by government employees who are upset that we don’t want our practically naked bodies displayed on scanners. Consider this story from a groped rape survivor:

I said I didn’t want them to see me naked and the agent started yelling Opt out- we have an opt here. Another agent took me aside and said they would have to pat me down. He told me he was going to touch my genitals and asked if I wouldn’t rather just go through the scanner, that it would be less humiliating for me. I was in shock. I couldn’t believe this was happening. I kept saying I don’t want any of this to happen. I was whispering please don’t do this, please, please.”

Since Celeste didn’t agree to go through the scanner, the enhanced pat down began. “He started at one leg and then ran his hand up to my crotch. He cupped and patted my crotch with his palm. Other flyers were watching this happen to me. At that point I closed my eyes and started praying to the Goddess for strength. He also cupped and then squeezed my breasts. That wasn’t the worst part. He touched my face, he touched my hair, stroking me. That’s when I started crying. It was so intimate, so horrible. I feel like I was being raped. There’s no way I can fly again. I can’t do it.”

Think she’s alone at being treated like that? Think she’s being over-sensitive? Think again. Oh, think again.

Of course TSA agents are angry when you don’t herd obligingly through the scanner. They feel entitled to it, as a matter of right, based on what the modern Security State envisions that Americans should be. When the TSA expressed angst that “unquestioning compliance has diminished”, it was tipping its hand. The purpose of Security Theater is not only to prevent actual security threats. The purpose of Security Theater is to convince us that the government can do something and is doing something, and most importantly to make us accept “unquestioning compliance” with government as an American value. The purpose of Security Theater is to normalize submission. But “unquestioning compliance” is not an American value. Quite the contrary. In a nation in which we owe fidelity to shared values, accepting unquestioning compliance with government is like sneaking out on the wife and kids and nailing the smeared-lipstick cosmo-addled skank at the sleazy bar in the next town. And don’t come crying back to your wife Liberty and your kids Personal Responsibility and deal little Individuality when you pick up a nasty case of authoritarianism oozing from your — ok, I’m going to have to pull this literary device over and walk.

The proponents of the Security State — and the people who make their living from it — think just shut up and obey. Take the blogger Mom vs. the World, a former TSA agent. Even though she questions the value of the scanners, and even though she thinks the enhanced pat-downs are bullshit, she remains captured by the TSA mindset. Her view of the proper relationship between the state and the citizen is typified by her post Shut Up And Get In The Scanner. Aside from asserting, basically, that what should really embarrass us is not being scanned or groped, but the fact that we’re a pack of quarreling, vibrator-carrying, trash-dressing, child-abusing trailer trash, she offers this:

Flying is a privilege not a right. As such, it can be and is regulated. Requirements can and are set up to ensure that everyone who flies is safe. If you don’t like it, then don’t fly. You may not be as concerned as the next guy about the safety or you may be more concerned. Point is the job of TSA is to ensure the entire traveling public is safe not just you. TSA officers don’t care what you as an individual want, they can’t, it just isn’t possible. You may be ok with lax security but what about the next passenger who wants thorough security?

Your right to privacy isn’t being violated at all. You always have the option to drive a car, take a train, grab the bus or start rowing a boat. You do not have to fly, you just want to fly. The minute you decide you want to fly then you have to accept that security is involved and you are going to have consent and submit to it period the end.

. . . .

Now if you want to fly, suck it up and accept that you have to submit to the security procedures. Yes you think they are stupid or unnecessary but TSA officers and TSA don’t care what you think. They try to make it all warm and fuzzy but they can’t because it is security not a trip to Disney World. Shut up and get in the scanner or don’t fly.

Well, “Mom”, if flying is a “privilege, not a right,” it’s because over the last century we have gradually accepted the proposition that anything the government tells us it can regulate, it can regulate. Unlike “Mom”, Justice Stewart knows a right when he sees it: “The constitutional right to travel from one State to another . . . occupies a position fundamental to the concept of our Federal Union. It is a right that has been firmly established and repeatedly recognized.” Of course, rights are subject to limitations. Should the right to travel be limited by forced subservience to groping for purposes of Security Theater?

Now, I’m not saying that Mom is herself a perverted thug, like the people she’s saying we should just obey. I’m saying that she’s a sneering, entitled apologist for perverted thugs — and for the canine, un-American value of slobbery submission to the state. Even though she concedes that the groping is retaliatory bullshit, and even though she has no basis to assert that Security Theater actually increases real security, she’s deeply resentful that people are not putting up with it. Her righteous anger — like the anger of of the TSA thugs groping just a little bit harder to punish you for saying no to the body scanner — is the result we should expect from the small-time thugs whose identity is tied up in their petty authority.

Throughout my career — both as a prosecutor and as a defense attorney — I’ve observed a consistent inverse relationship: the more petty a government officer’s authority, the more that officer will feel a need to swagger and demand that you RESPECT HIS AUTHORITAH. Your average FBI agent might search your house based on a crappy perjured warrant, invade your attorney-client emails, and flush your life down the toilet by lying on the stand at your mail fraud trial. But he doesn’t feel a need to vogue and posture to prove anything in the process. He’s the FBI. But God above help you when you run into the guy with a badge from some obscure and puny government agency with a narrow fiefdom. He and his Napoleon syndrome have got something to prove. And he’s terrified that you’ll not take him very, very seriously. When I call FBI agents on behalf of my clients, they’re cool but professional and nonchalant. When I call a small agency — say, state Fish & Game, or one of the minor agency Inspector Generals — they’re hostile, belligerent, and so comically suspicious that you’d think I was asking for their permission to let my client smuggle heroin into the country in the anuses of handicapped Christian missionary orphans. They are infuriated, OUTRAGED, when a client asserts rights, when a client fails to genuflect and display unquestioning obedience. They are, in short, the TSA.

The media is trying out the story-of-the-week that the populace is revolting against the TSA, and against Security Theater. It might even be a little bit true.

It’s about godammed time.

http://www.popehat.com/2010/11/12/gropers-to-gropees-shut-up-and-take-it-or-hit-the-road/
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G M
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« Reply #857 on: November 21, 2010, 11:40:22 AM »

More wailing and ad hominem attacks on the TSA. Oh noes!

Shut down the TSA now. Let's just see what the loss of life looks like.

The smell of jet fuel and human flesh burning. It's the smell of freeeedom!
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #858 on: November 25, 2010, 01:02:30 PM »



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2N8gJSMoOJc&feature=player_embedded
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #859 on: November 28, 2010, 06:48:29 PM »

Euro Parliament rants

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dranqFntNgo&feature=related

And from last year

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wFXSj5WofYA&feature=related
« Last Edit: November 28, 2010, 06:55:41 PM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #860 on: December 03, 2010, 02:35:48 PM »

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pn4_0IV0JME&feature=player_embedded
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G M
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« Reply #861 on: December 03, 2010, 09:30:56 PM »



Progress
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Boyo
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« Reply #862 on: December 04, 2010, 08:49:47 PM »

This is really REALLY interesting!!



Enjoy Boyo
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The Tao
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« Reply #863 on: December 06, 2010, 02:20:48 PM »

I've gotten to know and care for many of you here. I know that there are police amongst us and I respect you on a personal level and love training with you.

In the most respectful way that I can, I am wondering what people really believe in the way of felons reforming. I know that many go on to re offend, but in regard to those that don't and sincerely want to change their lives (especially when they offended as young adult and have remained trouble free for decades), I wonder a couple things:

How many decades must they remain trouble free in order to be free from discrimination on job applications?

If they have remained trouble free for multiple decades, why don't they have the right to own firearms so that they too may protect their families, and where does the right to protect the life of oneself and one's family come from?

I realize that the police do a dangerous job and obviously want to protect themselves against violent, well armed, well trained individuals, but it can be reasoned that any person with ill intent can obtain a firearm. Gun control laws don't work, nor will they ever.

I was taught that a man should be judged for his actions and I agree. I do wonder though, how long must his actions be good before he has redeemed himself? If a person with a less than sterling record has sincerely reformed, every religion, the Tao Te Ching, The Hagakure, and many other books that all of us here have read, express forgiveness and equal inclusion within one's society, given the the offending member has been obeying the laws and has sincerely changed. I am left wondering why we as a society don't adhere to that, but rather, look down on those that want to change and join the right side.
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G M
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« Reply #864 on: December 06, 2010, 02:59:05 PM »

I think the biggest factor is the nature and number of the offense(s). Depending on the jurisdiction, expungement is possible in some cases.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #865 on: December 20, 2010, 04:28:17 PM »

Greedy Innkeeper or Generous Capitalist? To view this article, Click Here
Brian S. Wesbury - Chief Economist
Robert Stein, CFA - Senior Economist
Date: 12/20/2010


The Bible story of the virgin birth is at the center of much of the holiday cheer at this time of the year. The book of Luke tells us Mary and Joseph traveled to Bethlehem because Caesar Augustus decreed a census should be taken. Mary gave birth after arriving in Bethlehem and placed baby Jesus in a manger because there was “no room for them in the inn.”

Over the centuries, people have come to believe that because Jesus was born in a stable, and not in a hotel room, Mary and Joseph must have been mistreated by a greedy innkeeper. This innkeeper only cared about profits and decided this young couple was not “worth” his best accommodations. This angle on the traditional story is repeated in just about every play, skit, or sermon on the subject.
 
These stories persist even though the Bible records no complaints at the time and there was apparently no charge for the use of the stable. It may be that the stable was the only place available. Bethlehem, like other small towns, was overflowing with people who were returning to their ancestral homes for the census, which was ordered by the Romans for the purpose of levying a tax.
 
If there was a problem, it was caused by the unintended consequences of government policy. However, a political spin has been added to the story and it blames capitalism and capitalists for being greedy and uncaring, even evil.
 
A different narrative could be easily generated. The innkeeper was generous to a fault – a hero even. He was over-booked, but he charitably offered his stable, a building that would not have existed if it weren’t for his foresight and industriousness. And don’t forget, the government officials who ordered the census slept in their own beds with little care for the wellbeing of those who had to travel regardless of their difficult life circumstances.
 
If you must find “evil” in either one of these narratives, remember that evil is ultimately perpetrated by individuals, not the institutions in which they operate.
 
And this is why it’s important to favor economic and political systems that limit the use and abuse of power over others. In the story of baby Jesus, a law that requires innkeepers to always have extra rooms, or to take in anyone who asks, would “fix” the problem of the evil innkeeper.
 
This regulation, which would be enforced by government, would have unintended consequences. Fewer people would become innkeepers because they would need to build larger structures (that could accommodate the crowd during a census). But because censuses are rare, the innkeeper would be forced to charge higher prices to cover costs. This, in turn, would cause many to complain that the innkeeper was greedy.
 
This does not mean that free markets are perfect or create utopia, they aren’t and they don’t. But, business can’t force you to buy a service or product. You have a choice – even if it’s not exactly what you want. And good business people try to make you happy in creative and industrious ways.
 
Government doesn’t always care. In fact, if you happen to live in North Korea or Cuba, and are not happy about the way things are going, you can’t leave. And just in case you try, armed guards will help you think things through.
This is why the framers of the US Constitution made sure there were “checks and balances” in the system. We’re now seeing that system operate. In reaction to the health care bill passed earlier this year, voters rejected many of the bill’s supporters and boosted the clout of its opponents. And the “new” majority favors lower taxes and less spending.
 
For many, this is not like having a savior. But it should give us all reason to hope for a better world in the years ahead.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #866 on: December 20, 2010, 04:29:20 PM »

Moved from the wrong thread to here:


 Longevity gives life to Tea Party
By Spengler

How could the Tea Party elect five senators and 40 members of the United States Congress last November, none with political experience and many with evident eccentricities? The answer is that a single issue united a slapdash agglomeration of amateurs, with sufficient power to override all the sources of weakness.

The Tea Party represents creditors of the government who do not want to be cheated out of their savings; that is, people close to retirement age who fear slow confiscation by inflation. Governments that run huge deficits normally reduce them by
debasing the currency, in order to repay their debts in inflated money.

In fact, the Tea Party is a triumph of economic rationality over lack of talent: its reason for being is so compelling and so clear that it has succeeded despite the silliness of some of its candidates. One top Republican pollster thinks that the "I am not a witch" message aired by losing Tea Party candidate Christine O'Donnell in Delware was the single worst piece of advertising in political history.

Elite commentators tend to dismiss the Tea Party as a mob of engaged boos. On the contrary, pollster Scott Rasmussen, reports, the Tea Partiers tend to be older than 45, married, wealthier and better educated than the general population, and concerned first of all with federal spending and deficits. The most important thing to know about such people is that there are more of them than ever before in American history.

Young families with small children borrow money from older people who have finished raising families. Most Americans begin adulthood heavily in debt and become lenders as they approach retirement. The changing proportions of young and old Americans has enormous bearing on political outcomes.

United States of America Dependency Ratios
YEAR TOTAL CHILD OLD AGE 
1975 55 39 16
1980 51 34 17
1985 50 32 18
1990 52 33 19
1995 53 34 19
2000 51 33 19
2005 50 31 19
2010 50 30 19
2015 52 30 22
2020 56 31 25
2025 60 31 29
2030 63 32 32

Two facts stand out in the table above showing the proportion of child vs elderly dependents in the United States. Elderly dependents have remained fairly static as a percentage of total population during the past 40 years. But the proportion will jump from 19% today to 32% in 2030. This seismic change in American demographics explains a great deal.

In 1975, when Jimmy Carter ran for president, 39 out 100 Americans were dependent children, but only 16 out of 100 Americans were dependent elderly. The baby boomers were in their twenties and starting families. Once elected president, Carter allowed the inflation rate to reach double-digits by 1981. A family that bought a house for $60,000 in January 1975 could have sold it for $110,000 in January 1981. In fact, home prices offered positive returns after inflation (stocks, bonds, and cash all showed negative real returns during the 1980s).

Elderly people on fixed pensions took part-time jobs or ate pet food as the value of money shrank; young people caught a free ride on the inflation wave. No one liked inflation, to be sure, but it was an ill wind that blew good to a great many people. The Carter administration, though, made an elementary blunder: as inflation drove up nominal income, it also pushed middle class taxpayers into higher tax brackets intended to soak the rich. With a top tax rate of 70%, the tax squeeze due to inflation became a crushing burden on the middle class, and the high rate of taxation on nominal capital gains was often confiscatory. If the Carter administration had indexed tax rates to inflation, it might have lasted a second term.

Now the tables are turned. By 2030, elderly dependents will comprise 32% of the American population, twice the level in 1975. For the first time in history, the number of elderly dependents will equal the number of child dependents. Americans now aged 45 will retire in 2030, and it is their concerns that give buoyancy to the Tea Party.

The Tea Party is an exercise in economic rationality. Measured inflation in the United States is less than 1% (according to the woefully inadequate Consumer Price Index), but the Tea Partiers anticipate higher inflation in the future should the federal government remain at 11% of gross domestic product.

This is not the first time that monetary issues have motivated the formation of an important third party. During the last quarter of the nineteenth century, a prolonged deflation under the gold standard drew Western farmers to the inflationist Free Silver movement. Permitting silver coinage would have increased the money supply, raised the price level and helped debtors. The movement was powerful enough to take over the Democratic Party in 1896, when its candidate William Jennings Bryan (an unknown 36-year-old congressman) excoriated Eastern creditor interests and their ''cross of gold'' imposed by Eastern creditor interests.

The proportion of prospective pensioners in the rest of the industrial world exceeds that in the United States, as shown in Table 2 below:

More developed regions of the world Dependency Ratios
YEAR TOTAL CHILD OLD AGE 
1975 54 37 17
1980 52 34 18
1985 49 32 17
1990 49 31 19
1995 50 29 20
2000 49 27 21
2005 48 25 23
2010 48 24 24
2015 51 25 26
2020 54 25 29
2025 57 25 33
2030 61 24 36
2035 63 24 39
2040 66 24 41
2045 68 25 43
2050 70 25 45

America's open political model makes it relatively easy for challengers to force their way onto the stage (although not to remain their for long), so the Tea Party as such is likely to remain a distinctly American phenomenon. But the shift towards an older population also will act as a brake on inflationist impulses elsewhere, for example, on the extent to which France and Germany will bail out Ireland, Portugal, Greece, or Spain.

In its first electoral outing, America's Tea Party helped shift the political balance. It would be incautious to view it as a passing expression of voter frustration. On the contrary: spontaneity and inexperience held the Tea Party back from harvesting the political support that should come to it. If the Tea Party does a better job of screening and prepping candidates - or the Republican party has the good sense to adopt its program - demographics and rational interest will make it an even stronger force as time passes, and an obstacle to a new inflation cycle.

Spengler is channeled by David P Goldman senior editor at First Things (www.firstthings.com).

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Front_Page/LL07Aa01.html
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« Reply #867 on: December 29, 2010, 11:45:31 PM »


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h4ypqCYPduI&feature=related
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« Reply #868 on: January 02, 2011, 08:32:48 PM »

http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2011/jan/02/25-predictions-25-years

20 predictions for the next 25 years
From the web to wildlife, the economy to nanotechnology, politics to sport, the Observer's team of experts prophesy how the world will change – for good or bad – in the next quarter of a century

1 Geopolitics: 'Rivals will take greater risks against the US'

No balance of power lasts forever. Just a century ago, London was the centre of the world. Britain bestrode the world like a colossus and only those with strong nerves (or weak judgment) dared challenge the Pax Britannica.

That, of course, is all history, but the Pax Americana that has taken shape since 1989 is just as vulnerable to historical change. In the 1910s, the rising power and wealth of Germany and America splintered the Pax Britannica; in the 2010s, east Asia will do the same to the Pax Americana.

The 21st century will see technological change on an astonishing scale. It may even transform what it means to be human. But in the short term – the next 20 years – the world will still be dominated by the doings of nation-states and the central issue will be the rise of the east.

By 2030, the world will be more complicated, divided between a broad American sphere of influence in Europe, the Middle East and south Asia, and a Chinese sphere in east Asia and Africa. Even within its own sphere, the US will face new challenges from former peripheries. The large, educated populations of Poland, Turkey, Brazil and their neighbours will come into their own and Russia will continue its revival.

Nevertheless, America will probably remain the world's major power. The critics who wrote off the US during the depression of the 1930s and the stagflation of the 1970s lived to see it bounce back to defeat the Nazis in the 1940s and the Soviets in the 1980s. America's financial problems will surely deepen through the 2010s, but the 2020s could bring another Roosevelt or Reagan.
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« Reply #869 on: January 02, 2011, 09:01:02 PM »

Roosevelt made the depression worse, set us up for the debt crisis we are facing now and said of Stalin "I think that if I give him everything I possibly can and ask for nothing from him in return, noblesse oblige, he won't try to annex anything and will work with me for a world of democracy and peace."

Thanks for the Iron Curtain, FDR.
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« Reply #870 on: January 03, 2011, 06:44:14 AM »

I figured that was your take on FDR.  Could you please read the entire article, though?  Again, interesting ideas are introduced and discussed.
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« Reply #871 on: January 03, 2011, 12:09:49 PM »

Hard to take on 20 predictions across the span of human activity in one post BD  smiley

I will note that I disagree with #4's assumption of global warming (which is found in some of the other predictions as well) and thought that changes need to be made before prices of current energy models rise.  Quite the contrary, the market mechanism is by far the most efficient way both in terms of speed of change and efficacy in making wise decisions.  Adam Smith's "invisible hand" is but another way of stating the opening verse of the Tao Te Ching (The Tao which can be spoken of is not the Tao , , , The Tao does nothing but all is done." . . . or something like that).
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« Reply #872 on: January 06, 2011, 11:33:50 AM »



In classical Athens, public life became dominated by clever and smart-sounding sophists. These mellifluous "really wise guys" made money and gained influence by their rhetorical boasts to "prove" the most amazing "thinkery" that belied common sense.

We are living in a new age of sophism -- but without a modern equivalent of Socrates to remind the public just how silly our highly credentialed and privileged new rhetoricians can often sound.

Take California, which is struggling with a near-record wet and snowy winter. Flooding spreads in the lowlands; snow piles up in the Sierras.

In February 2009, Nobel Laureate and Energy Secretary Steven Chu pontificated without evidence that California farms would dry up and blow away, inasmuch as 90 percent of the annual Sierra snowpack would disappear. Yet long-term studies of the central Sierra snowpack show average snow levels unchanged over the last 90 years. Many California farms are drying up -- but from government's, not nature's, irrigation cutoffs.

England is freezing and snowy. But that's odd, since global warming experts assured that the end of English snow was on the horizon. Australia is now flooding -- despite predictions that its impending new droughts meant it could not sustain its present population. The New York Times just published an op-ed assuring the public that the current record cold and snow are proof of global warming. In theory, they could be, but one wonders: what, then, would record winter heat and drought prove?

In response to these unexpected symptoms of blizzards and deluges, climate physicians offer changing diagnoses. "Global change" has superseded "global warming." After these radically cold winters, the next replacement appears to be "climate chaos." Yet if next December is neither too hot nor too cold, expect to hear about the doldrum dangers of "climate calm."

In 2009, brilliant economists in the Obama administration -- Peter Orszag, Larry Summers and Christina Romer -- assured us that record trillion-plus budget defects were critical to prevent stalled growth and 10 percent unemployment. For nearly two years we have experienced both, but now with an addition $3 trillion in national debt. All three have quietly either returned to academia or Wall Street.

There is also a new generation of young, sophistic bloggers who offer their wisdom from the New York-Washington corridor. They are usually graduates of America's elite colleges and navigate in an upscale urban landscape. One, the Washington Post's 26-year-old Ezra Klein, recently scoffed to his readers that a bothersome U.S. Constitution was "100 years old" and had "no binding power on anything."

One constant here is equating wisdom with a certificate of graduation from a prestigious school. If, in the fashion of the sophist Protagoras, one writes that record cold proves record heat, or that record borrowing and printing money will create jobs and sustained economic growth, or that a 223-year-old Constitution is 100 years old and largely irrelevant, then credibility can be claimed only in the title or the credentials -- but not the logic -- of the writer.

America is huge and diverse, but the world of our credentialed experts is quite small, warped and monotonous -- circumscribed largely by the prestigious university and an office in the incestuous Washington-New York corridor. There are plenty of prizes, honors and degrees among our policy setters and experts, but very little experience in running a business in Oklahoma, raising a large family in Kansas, or working on an assembly line in Michigan, a military base in Texas, a boat in Alaska or a ranch in Idaho.

In classical sophistic fashion, rhetoric is never far from personal profit. Multimillionaire Al Gore convinced the governments of the Western world that they were facing a global-warming Armageddon, then hired out his services to address the hysteria that he helped create.

How many climate Cassandras have well-funded research positions predicated on grants and subsidies that depend on convincing the pubic and government of impending disasters that they then can be hired to monitor and address? Are there no green antitrust laws? In contrast, how many of our climate theorists run irrigated farms and energy-intensive businesses at the mercy of new regulations that emanate from distant theorizing?

The public might have better believed the deficit nostrums of former budget director Peter Orzag had he not retired after less than two years on the job to position himself for a multimillion-dollar billet at Citigroup -- itself a recent recipient of some $25 billion in government bailout funds.

Are we to wonder why an angry, grassroots Tea Party spread -- or why it was instantly derided by our experts and technocrats as ill-informed or worse?
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« Reply #873 on: January 10, 2011, 01:46:24 PM »

This here because it is interesting:

Happy mathematical new year: 2011 is the sum of 11 consecutive prime numbers

http://republicofmath.wordpress.com/2011/01/01/happy-mathematical-new-year-2011-is-the-sum-of-11-consecutive-prime-numbers/
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« Reply #874 on: January 10, 2011, 02:15:40 PM »

"Are we to wonder why an angry, grassroots Tea Party spread -- or why it was instantly derided by our experts and technocrats as ill-informed or worse?"

Yet according to the media we should all stop our angry rhetoric, we should all hold hands and calm discussions,  "conversations" (using the term from the shameless Spitzer), all the while we are getting screwed from here to kingdom-come from the left and their elites, they steal our money, bribe voters with it, talk our country down here and abroad, fail to protect our boarders, unilaterally decide to alter our culture, our norms, our way of life, give our hard earned achievements away, and on and on.

That is why I say on the other thread that the right will not be silenced and that the responsibility for murders rests with the guy who commited them and why our politicians many of whom are certainly corrupt are owed no more special privileges.  Talk radio, Sarah Palin, Fox, Beck, and even Olberman bare no responsibility for the crimes.  End of story.

And like I pointed out my opinion on the other thread how brave some politicians are in Mexico who really do risk their lives fighting crime and refuse bribes can you imagine our politicians doing the same here?  Why they take bribes without their lives at stake here.

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« Reply #875 on: January 12, 2011, 04:25:10 AM »

I have read two of this writer's books on evolutionary psychology, "The Moral Animal" and "Non-Zero Sum" and think them outstanding.  The following I do NOT think outstanding, but I post it here to provoke conversation, then Jon Stewart, who comes quite a bit closer to Truth:

===================================

People on the left and right have been wrestling over the legacy of Jared Loughner, arguing about whether his shooting spree proves that the Sarah Palins and Glenn Becks of the world are fomenting violence. But it’s not as if this is the only data point we have. Here’s another one:

Six months ago, police in California pulled over a truck that turned out to contain a rifle, a handgun, a shotgun and body armor. Police learned from the driver — sometime after he opened fire on them — that he was heading for San Francisco, where he planned to kill people at the Tides Foundation. You’ve probably never heard of the Tides Foundation — unless you watch Glenn Beck, who had mentioned it more than two dozen times in the preceding six months, depicting it as part of a communist plot to “infiltrate” our society and seize control of big business.

Note the parallel with Loughner’s case. Loughner was convinced that a conspiracy was afoot — a conspiracy by the government to control our thoughts (via grammar, in his bizarre worldview). So he decided to kill one of the conspirators.

It’s not clear where Loughner got his conspiracy theory. The leading contender is a self-styled “king of Hawaii” who harbors, along with his beliefs about government mind control, a conviction that the world will end next year. But it doesn’t matter who Loughner got the idea from or whether you consider it left wing or right wing. The point is that Americans who wildly depict other Americans as dark conspirators, as the enemy, are in fact increasing the chances, however marginally, that those Americans will be attacked.

In that sense, the emphasis the left is placing on violent rhetoric and imagery is probably misplaced. Sure, calls to violence, explicit or implicit, can have effect. But the more incendiary theme in current discourse is the consignment of Americans to the category of alien, of insidious other. Once Glenn Beck had sufficiently demonized people at the Tides Foundation, actually advocating the violence wasn’t necessary.
By the same token, Palin’s much-discussed cross-hairs map probably isn’t as dangerous as her claim that “socialists” are trying to create “death panels.” If you convince enough people that an enemy of the American way is setting up a system that could kill them, the violent hatred will take care of itself.

When left and right contend over the meaning of incidents like this, the sanity of the perpetrator becomes a big issue. Back when Major Nidal Hasan killed 13 people at Fort Hood, the right emphasized how sane he was and the left how crazy he was. The idea was that if Hasan was sane, then he could be viewed as a coherent expression of the Jihadist ideology that some on the right say is rampant in America. In the case of Loughner, the right was quick to emphasize that he was not sane and therefore couldn’t be a coherent expression of right-wing ideology. Then, as his ideology started looking more like a left-right jumble, and his weirdness got better documented, a left-right consensus on his craziness emerged.

My own view is that if you decide to go kill a bunch of innocent people, it’s a pretty safe bet that you’re not a picture of mental health. But that doesn’t sever the link between you and the people who inspired you, or insulate them from responsibility. Glenn Beck knows that there are lots of unbalanced people out there, and that his message reaches some of them.

This doesn’t make him morally culpable for the way these people react to things he says that are true. It doesn’t even make him responsible for the things he says that are false but that he sincerely believes are true. But it does make him responsible for things he says that are false and concocted to mislead gullible people.

I guess it’s possible that Beck actually believes his hyper-theatrically delivered nonsense. (And I guess it’s possible that professional wrestling isn’t fake.) But in that case the responsibility just moves to Roger Ailes, head of Fox News, and Rupert Murdoch, its owner. Why are they giving a megaphone to someone who believes crazy stuff?

The magic formula of Palin and Beck — fear sells — knows no ideology. When Jon Stewart closed his Washington “rally to restore sanity” with a video montage of fear mongers, he commendably included some on the left — notably the sometimes over-the-top Keith Olbermann. The heads of MSNBC have just as much of an obligation to help keep America sane as the heads of Fox News have.

To be sure, at this political moment there is — by my left-wing lights, at least — more crazy fear-mongering and demonization on the right than on the left. But that asymmetry is transient.

What’s not transient, unfortunately, is the technological trend that drives much of this. It isn’t just that people can now build a cocoon of cable channels and Web sites that insulates them from inconvenient facts. It’s also that this cocoon insulates them from other Americans — including the groups of Americans who, inside the cocoon, are being depicted as evil aliens. It’s easy to buy into the demonization of people you never communicate with, and whose views you never see depicted by anyone other than their adversaries.

In this environment, any entrepreneurial fear monger can use technology to build a following. You don’t have to be the king of Hawaii to start calling yourself the king of Hawaii and convince a Jared Loughner that there’s a conspiracy afoot.

So I’m not sure how much good it would do if you could get a Glenn Beck to clean up his act. With such a vast ecosystem of fear mongers, his vacated niche might be filled before long. But I think Roger Ailes and Rupert Murdoch owe it to America to at least do the experiment.

Postscript: Encouragingly, Roger Ailes said in the wake of the Tucson shooting that “I told all of our guys, shut up, tone it down, make your argument intellectually.” So stay tuned. Also encouragingly, two journalists from liberal and conservative magazines — the American Prospect and National Review — had an extremely civil discussion about the Tucson shooting, about 24 hours after it happened, on my Web site Bloggingheads.tv.
============
http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/mon-january-10-2011/arizona-shootings-reaction

.
« Last Edit: January 12, 2011, 07:29:11 AM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
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« Reply #876 on: January 14, 2011, 11:07:39 AM »

Where was Wright's concerns about the venom from the left during two terms of George W. Bush?

http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/2010/0901/James-Lee-killed-in-Discovery-Channel-hostage-crisis-reminiscent-of-Unabomber

The man who entered the Discovery Channel headquarters in Silver Spring, Md., with a handgun and what appeared to be explosives Wednesday, taking several hostages, is being described in news reports as an “environmental activist.”


If so, his ideology is reminiscent of the infamous “Unabomber” – Theodore Kaczynski, now serving life in prison for a series of mail bombings that killed three people and injured 23 others.

The man in the Discovery Channel episode, identified by law enforcement officials as James J. Lee, apparently held beliefs similar to Kaczynski: that human population growth and modern industrial development imperil the planet.

Several hours after the episode began, Mr. Lee reportedly was shot and killed by sniper. Three hostages were released unharmed.

“The debate about the state of the planet is done,” Lee writes on his web site. “Global Warming is a reality. The massive extinction of animals is happening all over the world. Now let us begin the debate on how to save the planet. We can’t wait anymore, something must be done immediately! Let’s act on it right away; let this be a new chapter in the earth’s history. As human beings we must join together to save it.”
__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

http://www.humanevents.com/article.php?id=38923

Eco-Terror’s Inspiration
by Brian Sussman
09/10/2010



Eco-terrorist James Jay Lee last week executed a dangerous hostage plot inside the headquarters of the Discovery Channel. Armed with what appeared to be pipe bombs and a cheap pistol, Lee claimed to have been “awakened” by Al Gore’s film, "An Inconvenient Truth".

Lee regarded humans as the “most destructive, filthy, pollutive creatures around.” His desire was to force the Discovery Channel to fill its programming schedule with “solutions to save the planet.” Lee was shot and killed by police.

Sadly, Lee is not first eco-freak to go off. In 2005 the FBI declared domestic eco-terrorism to be America’s No. 1 threat.


Recent examples of enviro-violence include two large commercial radio towers toppled in Washington. The site was tagged with the letters “ELF.” Photos of the destruction were posted on the Earth Liberation Front website.

In April, ELF member Stephen Murphy was sentenced to five years after admitting he conspired to burn down a condominium development in Pasadena, Calif.

Daniel San Diego is wanted for his alleged involvement in the bombing of a biotech firm near San Francisco. According to the FBI, San Diego bears freaky tattoos resembling burning hillsides on his chest with the words “It only takes a spark” below, as well as burning buildings on his abdomen and a leafless tree rising from a road on his back.

The most notorious eco-terrorist is Ted Kaczynski—the Unabomber.  Over 17 years Kaczynski sent out mail bombs, killing three people and wounding 22. He also managed to sneak a bomb onto a 747 passenger jet flying between Chicago and Washington D.C. Fortunately the bomb didn’t discharge as planned.

Kaczynski’s reign ended in 1996, shortly after he made public his now infamous manifesto. In it he opined, “One of the effects of the intrusion of industrial society has been that over much of the world traditional controls on population have been thrown out of balance. Hence the population explosion, with all that it implies… No one knows what will happen as a result of ozone depletion, the greenhouse effect and other environmental problems that cannot yet be foreseen.”

And discovered by the FBI in the Unabomber’s Montana hovel? A well-worn copy of Al Gore’s 1990 screed, Earth In The Balance. Kaczynski apparently was quite taken by Gore’s missive. His copy of Earth In The Balance was dog-eared, underlined, marked and well worn.

The question is, why should anyone be surprised when environmental nut jobs mentally detonate? If one takes the warnings of Al Gore and his comrades as gospel, planet earth is a ticking time bomb and if nothing is done to stop it we’ll all perish. For some such fear mongering becomes a clarion call to aggressive action.

For example, in Earth In The Balance, Gore likens the fight against global warming with that of a deadly wartime enemy, stating, the “assault on the earth is breathtaking, and the horrific consequences are occurring so quickly as to defy our capacity to recognize them… Isolated pockets of resistance fighters who have experienced this juggernaut first hand have begun to fight back in inspiring but, in the final analysis, woefully inadequate ways.”

Speaking at the 2008 Clinton Global Initiative conference Gore proclaimed, “I believe we have reached the stage where it is time for civil disobedience to prevent the construction of new coal plants.”

Gore’s friend and consigliore, NASA director James Hansen, has gone so far as to refer to rail cars carrying coal as “death trains.” Hansen also claims, “We only have four years left to act on climate change” before we reach the point of no return. “I tell young people,” he said during a radio interview in San Francisco, “they had better start to act up because they are the ones who will suffer the most.”

Take the words of Gore and Hansen and add another of Al’s pals into the mix—Earth Day cofounder and author of The Population Bomb and The Population Explosion (the latter possessed a jacket endorsement by Al Gore)—Paul Ehrlich, and you have further fuel for fanaticism. Ehrlich actually equates overpopulation with a cancer that needs to be cut out. “The operation will demand many apparently brutal and heartless decisions,” he wrote in Population Bomb.

Fact is Gore, Hansen, and Ehrlich have been feeding the public a steady diet of fear and trembling for years. Words such as theirs too often have caused some to go over the brink.  

As I prove in my book Climategate, the environmental movement, fronted by Al Gore, is purposefully using a manufactured crisis to institute sweeping social and political change, and create an opportunity to score big bucks off green technologies and schemes like cap-and-trade.

Tragically there are too many useful idiots who believe the likes of Gore, and have decided to take matters into their own hands.

Brian Sussman is author of Climategate: a veteran meteorologist exposes the global warming scam, and hosts the morning show on radio station KSFO in San Francisco.
« Last Edit: January 14, 2011, 11:23:12 AM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
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« Reply #877 on: January 17, 2011, 09:31:49 AM »

Where was Wright on this?

http://pajamasmedia.com/tatler/2011/01/16/blast-from-the-green-past/
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« Reply #878 on: January 20, 2011, 01:14:59 PM »

http://www.cnn.com/video/?/video/bestoftv/2011/01/19/ac.cohen.dems.gop.nazis.cnn

The new civility.
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« Reply #879 on: January 20, 2011, 01:38:35 PM »

I see GM has a new riff:  Instead of "Where's Waldo?" or "Where's Mohammed?" it is "Where's Wright?" cheesy
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« Reply #880 on: January 20, 2011, 01:41:10 PM »

Just waiting for the new civility to kick in.


 rolleyes


Yup, any minute now......

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« Reply #881 on: January 21, 2011, 04:52:13 PM »

Dear Nazi

The correspondence of Congressman Steve Cohen (D-TN), America's most dynamic metaphorist

********************************

Mr. Hector Gutierrez
Gutierrez Bros. Landscaping
Arlington, VA

Dear Mr. Gutierrez:

Nothing could have prepared me for the shock that awaited as I exited the front door of my home early Wednesday morning, where I discovered that your lawn crew had cut a swath of environmental destruction across my yard so horrifying that it only can be compared to the Rape of Nanking. I can scarcely bring myself to describe the killing fields that are my North azalea beds and the brutal degradation and torture suffered by the bluegrass around the locust tree by the rear patio.

No longer will I sit idly while you and your doorknob hangers continue to repeat the Big Lie of "satisfaction guaranteed." I am writing to inform you that I have contacted the US Department of Interior to conduct a full independent investigation into Gutierrez Brothers' actions in this matter. Please be advised that you may be subpoenaed for records pertaining to mower height, pruning shear maintenance, and leaf blower emissions.

I would also advise your crewmen to heed the lessons of the Judgement At Nurenburg: although they may be spared the justice due their superiors, "I was only following orders" is not an excuse.

Sincerely,

Representative Steven Cohen
Washington, DC

********************************

Customer Relations Department
United Airlines
Elk Grove Village, IL

Dear Sir or Madam:

In the dark annals of human evil, history has recorded the Holocaust, the Rwandan genocides, and Stalin's mass starvation program. And now, United Airlines flight 671 from Reagan International to Memphis International on January 17th, 2011. I know, because I am a survivor of that dark exemplar of man's cruelty to man.

Perhaps I should have known what I was in, for when your brutal gate agent refused to issue me an upgrade despite being a Premier/1K member for over 10 years. Or when your flight crew Gestapo confiscated my carry on Roll Tote, even though I had nearly fit it into the overhead bin. But the true measure of the horror did not dawn on me until me and my fellow passengers were left taxiing on the tarmack for over twenty minutes in the Auschwitzian Airbus A320 cattlecar, in temperatures approaching 85 degrees, not knowing our fates or whether we would make it to our fundraising dinners.

Santayana once said, "those who forget history are doomed to repeat it." And I say to you and your fellow United criminals: "never again," unless you credit my account at least 2 flight segments for this travesty.

Sincerely,

Representative Steven Cohen
Washington, DC

cc: Human Rights Watch
cc: Amnesty International

********************************

Ms. He-Sook Park
AAA Georgetown Drycleaning
Washington, DC

Dear Ms. Park:

To paraphrase Pastor Martin Niemoeller, a witness to the Shoah:

First they frayed the hem on my wife's Valentino gown
My staff aide did not speak out
Because it was my wife's and it wasn't that noticeable

When they didn't honor the 5-for-$4.99 tie coupon
My staff aide did not speak out
Because the small print said "good Tuesday to Friday"

And when they overstarched my best Brooks Brothers shirts
there was no one left to speak out to
Because your counter attendant did not speak English

I will no longer stay silent in the face of your cruel and sickening campaign of chemical fabricide, Ms. Park. Mankind will soon learn of the horrors you are hiding behind the flimsy facade of 'One Hour Martinizing.' I expect full reparations for the suffering of my wardrobe, and may God have mercy on your soul.

Representative Steven Cohen
Washington, DC

P.S. -- Could you hem a pair of casual trousers before Saturday? I have a DNC retreat coming up.

********************************

Mr. and Mrs. Robert Epstein
3786 Arbor Cove
Fairfax, VA

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Epstein:

In her diaries, Anne Frank wrote, "After all that has happened, I still believe there is good in everyone." I am sad to say that after the obscene neighborhood parking situation Saturday, prompted by your son Jacob's Bar Mitzvah at Congregation Beth Shalom, I cannot reach the same optimistic conclusion.

As I witnessed one after another of your uniformed parking Gestapo invading my cul de sac with menacing SUVs, eventual blocking my driveway, I could not help but imagine the raw terror that must have gripped the doomed souls that inhabited the ghettos of Warsaw in 1939. Although the traffic jam eventually passed over when your and your adolescent shock troops blitzkreiged the Lazer FunZone, I am not sure I will ever fully recover from the trauma.

Never again, Mr. and Mrs. Epstein. Never again.

Sincerely,

Representative Steven Cohen
Washington, DC
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« Reply #882 on: January 22, 2011, 10:30:27 PM »

http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2011/01/028190.php

The Left's Tucson Strategy: Stage Two
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January 22, 2011 Posted by John at 6:18 PM

The Left's attempt to link the Tucson shootings to angry rhetoric (not theirs, of course) was stage one of a broader strategy--what both military men and political strategists refer to as preparing the battlefield. The movement to feign nonpartisanship at the State of the Union address by seating Republicans and Democrats together is another aspect of this stage. At the same time, the Left is moving on to stage two--an effort to cash in on battlefield preparation by attacking specific figures on the right and trying to shut down speech that the Left finds inconvenient.

At the moment, the second most-read article at the New York Times site is this one: "Spotlight From Glenn Beck Brings a CUNY Professor Threats."

    On his daily radio and television shows, Glenn Beck has elevated once-obscure conservative thinkers onto best-seller lists. Recently, he has elevated a 78-year-old liberal academic to celebrity of a different sort, in a way that some say is endangering her life.

    Frances Fox Piven, a City University of New York professor, has been a primary character in Mr. Beck's warnings about a progressive take-down of America. Ms. Piven, Mr. Beck says, is responsible for a plan to "intentionally collapse our economic system."

Let's pause there for a moment. First of all, Ms. Piven is not a "liberal academic." By her own description, she is a radical, a leftist and a Marxist. Nor is she merely an academic; she has been a far-left activist for decades. The Times continues:

    Never mind that Ms. Piven's radical plan to help poor people was published 45 years ago, when Mr. Beck was a toddler. Anonymous visitors to his Web site have called for her death, and some, she said, have contacted her directly via e-mail.

    In response, a liberal nonprofit group, the Center for Constitutional Rights, wrote to the chairman of Fox News, Roger Ailes, on Thursday to ask him to put a stop to Mr. Beck's "false accusations" about Ms. Piven.

    "Mr. Beck is putting Professor Piven in actual physical danger of a violent response," the group wrote. ...

    Ms. Piven said in an interview that she had informed local law enforcement authorities of the anonymous electronic threats. ...

    The Nation, which has featured Ms. Piven's columns for decades, quoted some of the threats against her in an editorial this week that condemned the "concerted campaign" against her.

    One such threat, published as an anonymous comment on The Blaze, read, "Somebody tell Frances I have 5000 roundas ready and I'll give My life to take Our freedom back." (The spelling and capitalizing have not been changed.)

    That comment and others that were direct threats were later deleted, but other comments remain that charge her with treasonous behavior. ...

    The Center for Constitutional Rights said it took exception to the sheer quantity of negative attention to Ms. Piven.

    "We are vigorous defenders of the First Amendment," the center said in its letter to Fox. "However, there comes a point when constant intentional repetition of provocative, incendiary, emotional misinformation and falsehoods about a person can put that person in actual physical danger of a violent response." Mr. Beck is at that point, they said.

This is Orwellian on several levels. It is Ms. Piven, not Glenn Beck, who explicitly defends violence, and comes perilously close to advocating it:

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« Reply #883 on: January 22, 2011, 11:31:45 PM »

Its me, wearing my Thread Police hat.  smiley  May I ask you to put this at
http://dogbrothers.com/phpBB2/index.php?topic=1285.msg11155#msg11155  

I just renamed the thread a bit to dial it in a bit better.
« Last Edit: January 22, 2011, 11:34:45 PM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
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« Reply #884 on: January 26, 2011, 11:00:29 AM »

"Of the wealthiest zip codes in the U.S., 19 out of 20 vote Democratic. How much longer can the Dems continue the lie of representing the interests of the common man? What they represent is the interest of those who can take advantage of government in the most selfish manner." --columnist Bruce Bialosky

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« Reply #885 on: February 09, 2011, 12:38:26 AM »

http://www.daybydaycartoon.com/2011/01/02/
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« Reply #886 on: February 09, 2011, 01:17:25 AM »

Woof,
 Wow! Now, that was both funny and true. cheesy
                      P.C.
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« Reply #887 on: February 09, 2011, 05:26:34 AM »

http://www.usatoday.com/news/opinion/forum/2011-02-08-column08_ST_N.htm
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« Reply #888 on: February 09, 2011, 07:14:20 AM »

a) FWIW IMHO the problems in which we find ourselves are not due not enough compromise by Republicans-- quite the contrary.

b) Given the results of his support for amnesty for illegal aliens (which I supported at the time) if he were still with us, I suspect were he with us today regarding current efforts I suspect he would be saying something like "Fool me once, shame on you.  Fool me twice, shame on me."
=======
Patriot Post

"His integrity was most pure, his justice the most inflexible I have ever known, no motives of interest or consanguinity, of friendship or hatred, being able to bias his decision. He was indeed, in every sense of the words, a wise, a good, and a great man." --Thomas Jefferson on George Washington

The Gipper

Happy Birthday to the Gipper"I never thought of myself as a great man, just a man committed to great ideas. I've always believed that individuals should take priority over the state. History has taught me that this is what sets America apart -- not to remake the world in our image, but to inspire people everywhere with a sense of their own boundless possibilities. There's no question I am an idealist, which is another way of saying I am an American." --Ronald Reagan

Opinion in Brief
"It's been more than six years since our nation bid farewell to Ronald Reagan, born 100 years ago [yesterday]. Yet at times it seems as though he never left. ... It's worth reminding ourselves as we mark the centennial of Reagan's birth what he accomplished -- and how. It's important to do this in part because much of what passes for praise of Reagan is veiled criticism. Reagan is hailed, for example, as a great communicator. And with good reason; few politicians could match his rhetorical skill and his ability to articulate great themes that resonated with the American people. But that's where many on the Left stop. What they really seek to emulate is not his policies or his agenda. They hope that, by studying his methods, a little of his 'magic' will rub off on the liberal policies that have proven such a hard sell over the last two years. Dress the liberal agenda in 'Reaganesque' terms, and the electorate is yours, right? What condescending nonsense. It wasn't just Reagan's ability to communicate that endeared him to millions of Americans. It was the fact that he was articulating their most deeply cherished beliefs. It went well beyond the optimistic outlook -- which, although welcome, is something any president can attempt. It was because he spoke in direct terms that avoided the usual 'buzzword' approach we get from Washington. And he used that approach to say what many Americans thought: Taxes are too high -- let's cut them. Inflation is too high -- let's tame it. The Cold War can be won, not managed, and the world made safer for everybody -- let's do it. The fable of the Left (the hard Left, anyway -- many others are coming around) is that this was all smoke and mirrors. But the facts tell a different story." --Heritage Foundation president Ed Feulner

Political Futures
"The only good conservative is a dead conservative. That, in a nutshell, describes the age-old tradition of liberals suddenly discovering that once-reviled conservatives were OK after all. It's just we-the-living who are hateful ogres, troglodytes and moperers. Over the last decade or so, as the giants of the founding generation of modern American conservatism have died, each has been rehabilitated into a gentleman-statesman of a bygone era of conservative decency and open-mindedness. ... But it's Ronald Reagan who really stands out. As we celebrate the 100th anniversary of his birth, the Gipper is enjoying yet another status upgrade among liberals. Barack Obama took a Reagan biography with him on his vacation. A slew of liberals and mainstream journalists (but I repeat myself) complimented Obama's State of the Union address as 'Reaganesque.' Time magazine recently featured the cover story 'Why Obama (Hearts) Reagan.' ... Now, on one hand, there's something wonderful about the overflowing of love for Reagan. When presidents leave office or die, their partisan affiliation fades and, for the great ones, eventually withers away. Reagan was a truly great president, one of the greatest according to even liberal historians like the late John Patrick Diggins. As you can tell from the gnashing of teeth and rending of cloth from the far left, the lionization of Reagan is a great triumph for the right, and conservatives should welcome more of it. On the other hand, what is not welcome is an almost Soviet airbrushing of the past to serve liberalism's current agenda." --columnist Jonah Goldberg

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« Reply #889 on: February 09, 2011, 02:14:20 PM »

a) FWIW IMHO the problems in which we find ourselves are not due not enough compromise by Republicans-- quite the contrary.

b) Given the results of his support for amnesty for illegal aliens (which I supported at the time) if he were still with us, I suspect were he with us today regarding current efforts I suspect he would be saying something like "Fool me once, shame on you.  Fool me twice, shame on me."

Asw for 'A', I have come around to agreeing with you.  The problem with comprosing with liberals is in the end there is no compromise.  WE find ourselves every election cycle compromising and little by little they take more and more.  When they are in power they are as Jonas Goldberg stated Huns at the gates taxing and then raping and piliging the treasury spending like drunken fools.

Then when they don't have the cart blanch power (like now) suddenly the Republicans are held to task (by the Dems and their media cohorts) that if they do not "compromise" or act in an honorable "bipartisan" manner carrying on the task of "good" governance they are NO good. 

As for 'B', I would think Reagan would not have been happy about how illegals have abused our system.  He was being quite generous with his pardon of them. To think that his precedent can arguably have led to the situation being many several times worse now would not have changed his mind seems incredulous.

I had a Latino patient who translates for his wife who speaks not word of English.  He laughed when I tried a few Spanish words and said with a big grin that I could never run for any political office.  I need to learn Spanish now!

Yes CNN can pick and show adorable "nice" illegals who do back breaking work.  Yet they come here for whatever they can get.  And they mock us and take advantage of us and make fools of us.  And I don't mean just Latinos.  I mean any illegal.  Israelis included.

I tend to agree with Bob Grant.  It is probably already too late.  At least in places like California.
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« Reply #890 on: February 10, 2011, 12:23:15 PM »

By ARTHUR B. LAFFER
For 16 years prior to Ronald Reagan's presidency, the U.S. economy was in a tailspin—a result of bipartisan ignorance that resulted in tax increases, dollar devaluations, wage and price controls, minimum-wage hikes, misguided spending, pandering to unions, protectionist measures and other policy mistakes.

In the late 1970s and early '80s, 10-year bond yields and inflation both were in the low double digits. The "misery index"—the sum of consumer price inflation plus the unemployment rate—peaked at well over 20%. The real value of the S&P 500 stock price index had declined at an average annual rate of 6% from early 1966 to August 1982.

For anyone old enough today, memories of the Arab oil embargo and price shocks—followed by price controls and rationing and long lines at gas stations—are traumatic. The U.S. share of world output was on a steady course downward.

Then Reagan entered center stage. His first tax bill was enacted in August 1981. It included a sweeping cut in marginal income tax rates, reducing the top rate to 50% from 70% and the lowest rate to 11% from 14%. The House vote was 238 to 195, with 48 Democrats on the winning side and only one Republican with the losers. The Senate vote was 89 to 11, with 37 Democrats voting aye and only one Republican voting nay. Reaganomics had officially begun.

President Reagan was not alone in changing America's domestic economic agenda. Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, first appointed by Jimmy Carter, deserves enormous credit for bringing inflation down to 3.2% in 1983 from 13.5% in 1981 with a tight-money policy. There were other heroes of the tax-cutting movement, such as Wisconsin Republican Rep. Bill Steiger and Wyoming Republican Sen. Clifford Hansen, the two main sponsors of an important capital gains tax cut in 1978.

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Ronald Reagan after signing his first tax cut, Aug. 14, 1981.
.What the Reagan Revolution did was to move America toward lower, flatter tax rates, sound money, freer trade and less regulation. The key to Reaganomics was to change people's behavior with respect to working, investing and producing. To do this, personal income tax rates not only decreased significantly, but they were also indexed for inflation in 1985. The highest tax rate on "unearned" (i.e., non-wage) income dropped to 28% from 70%. The corporate tax rate also fell to 34% from 46%. And tax brackets were pushed out, so that taxpayers wouldn't cross the threshold until their incomes were far higher.

Changing tax rates changed behavior, and changed behavior affected tax revenues. Reagan understood that lowering tax rates led to static revenue losses. But he also understood that lowering tax rates also increased taxable income, whether by increasing output or by causing less use of tax shelters and less tax cheating.

Moreover, Reagan knew from personal experience in making movies that once he was in the highest tax bracket, he'd stop making movies for the rest of the year. In other words, a lower tax rate could increase revenues. And so it was with his tax cuts. The highest 1% of income earners paid more in taxes as a share of GDP in 1988 at lower tax rates than they had in 1980 at higher tax rates. To Reagan, what's been called the "Laffer Curve" (a concept that originated centuries ago and which I had been using without the name in my classes at the University of Chicago) was pure common sense.

There was also, in Reagan's first year, his response to an illegal strike by federal air traffic controllers. The president fired and replaced them with military personnel until permanent replacements could be found. Given union power in the economy, this was a dramatic act—especially considering the well-known fact that the air traffic controllers union, Patco, had backed Reagan in the 1980 presidential election.

On the regulatory front, the number of pages in the Federal Register dropped to less than 48,000 in 1986 from over 80,000 in 1980. With no increase in the minimum wage over his full eight years in office, the negative impact of this price floor on employment was lessened.

And, of course, there was the decontrol of oil markets. Price controls at gas stations were lifted in January 1981, as were well-head price controls for domestic oil producers. Domestic output increased and prices fell. President Carter's excess profits tax on oil companies was repealed in 1988.

The results of the Reagan era? From December 1982 to June 1990, Reaganomics created over 21 million jobs—more jobs than have been added since. Union membership and man-hours lost due to strikes tumbled. The stock market went through the roof. From July 1982 through August 2000, the S&P 500 stock price index grew at an average annual real rate of over 12%. The unfunded liabilities of the Social Security system declined as a share of GDP, and the "misery index" fell to under 10%.

Even Reagan's first Democratic successor, Bill Clinton, followed in his footsteps. The negotiations for what would become the North American Free Trade Agreement began in Reagan's second term, but it was President Clinton who pushed the agreement through Congress in 1993 over the objections of the unions and many in his own party.


President Clinton also signed into law the biggest capital gains tax cut in our nation's history in 1997. It effectively eliminated any capital gains tax on owner-occupied homes. Mr. Clinton reduced government spending as a share of GDP by 3.5 percentage points, more than the next four best presidents combined. Where Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton slipped up was on personal income tax rates—allowing the highest personal income tax rate to eventually rise to 39.6% from 28%.

The true lesson to be learned from the Reagan presidency is that good economics isn't Republican or Democrat, right-wing or left-wing, liberal or conservative. It's simply good economics. President Barack Obama should take heed and not limit his vision while seeking a workable solution to America's tragically high unemployment rate.

Mr. Laffer is the chairman of Laffer Associates and co-author of "Return to Prosperity: How America Can Regain Its Economic Superpower Status" (Threshold, 2010).

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« Reply #891 on: February 14, 2011, 12:10:26 PM »

Brief · February 14, 2011

The Foundation
"We must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt." --Thomas Jefferson

For the Record

Obama's $3.73 trillion budget is the biggest everThe White House released its 2012 budget proposal Monday morning and the damage is staggering: $3.73 trillion. The budget deficit will be $1.65 trillion for fiscal 2011, up from $1.29 trillion in fiscal 2010. The deficit will represent 10.9 percent of gross domestic product, a post-World War II record. "My budget makes investments that can help America win this competition and transform our economy, and it does so fully aware of the very difficult fiscal situation we face," Obama said. In other words, eat, drink and be merry because our children and grandchildren will pay the bill.

Political Futures
"At Philadelphia's 30th Street Station on Tuesday, lifelong government rail promoter Vice President Joe Biden unveiled a $53 billion high-speed train initiative and half-joked: 'I'm like the ombudsman for Amtrak.' As with most gaffetastic Biden-isms, the remark should prompt more heartburn than hilarity. Just who exactly is looking out for taxpayers when it comes to federal rail spending? Vigorous independent oversight of public infrastructure binges is especially critical given the nation's long history of mass transit slush funds, cost overruns and union-monopolized construction projects to nowhere. ... When Biden talks about 'seizing the future,' he's talking about seizing your wallets for his party's electoral security. ... [T]he Obama administration's political abuse of the Amtrak inspector general's office, still under congressional investigation, is a recipe for yet more porkulus-style waste." --columnist Michelle Malkin

Government
"House Republicans have promised major spending reforms, but GOP leaders are tongue-tied when they are asked which specific programs they want to cut. The GOP wants to cut domestic spending to 2008 levels, but that's just an accounting goal. The GOP needs a larger vision to guide their reforms. Republicans need to communicate to the public how a smaller government would benefit America and what federal agencies and activities are damaging and counterproductive. A key part of this strategy should be to revive a central theme of the 1981 and 1995 budget-cutting drives -- getting the federal government out of what are properly state and local activities. Constitutional federalism has taken a beating as federal aid to the states has doubled over the last decade to $646 billion this year. ... The federal-aid system does not deliver high-quality and cost-efficient services to citizens. It delivers bureaucracy, overspending, and regulatory micromanagement from Washington. In addition to helping balance the budget, Republicans can start a national debate about the proper role of the federal government by pushing to terminate the vast array of costly state aid programs." --Cato Institute's Chris Edwards

Reader Comments
"I was surprised to hear Mark Alexander call Sen. Bob Corker a friend. He has disappointed me, as a conservative, at most turns. I am not alone in this opinion. 'Bailout Bob' is on every Tea Party list I've seen as a one term senator. Perhaps you are simply golfing buddies and do not discuss the Fed or the importance of paring down this government while on the links." --Cathy

Editor's Reply: First, I do not play golf. Second, while Bob and I do not agree on everything, that does not mean we can't agree on anything. The "all or nothing" litmus test is a losing formula for any party, particularly the Tea Party. What I can tell you is that Bob is a self-made individual of very high character and faith, a very smart Patriot who is not a typical Beltway egomaniacal politico.
"Regarding Mark Alexander's essay, The Debt Bomb Showdown, it's too bad you litter an otherwise fine piece ... claiming to know something that you cannot know -- the truth of what goes on in Obama's mind and his motives. This used to be called lying and bearing false witness. Divining something by dint of your gigantic intellect or unparalleled mastery of grand strategic skullduggery does not qualify as knowing something in any actual sense. Again, it was a good piece otherwise." --Joe

Editor's Reply: I "divine" nothing when asserting Obama is an ideological Socialist who would, if unabated by wiser minds, reduce the USA to the USSA. I draw my conclusions from his words and deeds prior to being elected to the Senate, and since. I have read his books and studied the records of his associations with Leftist mentors such as Jeremiah Wright, Michael Pfleger, William Ayers, Bernardine Dohrn, Khalid al-Mansour, Rashid Khalidi, Bob Creamer and others. He is a disciple of uber-Leftist Saul Alinsky, whose "Rules for Radicals" is the "bible" of "community organizers." His short record as part time Senator yielded the most radical Left voting record of any Senate member. His record as president has done much the same. Oh, but maybe Obama is now reformed? "Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclination, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence." --John Adams
"In Friday's 'Obama's Instruction Manual for Business' it illustrates how Obama is now trying to cozy up with the Chamber of Commerce and get business to jump 'back in the game.' Does he forget the first eight months of his term when he constantly harangued that the sky was falling and there was nothing but doom and gloom until the economy was in shambles? He painted such a nightmarish picture so he could ram thru his emergency measures. Then he expected the world to turn on a dime because HE said it was OK. The world, the economy and the public do not respond well to such bipolar behavior in the White House. The steady positive faithful outlook Ronald Wilson Reagan served us well during very trying times. Oh that we had such a man in public service today." --Greg

"It really bothers me that The Patriot Post used Mr. Rogers' photo as you did Friday. He is one of my heroes and IMHO to see Obama's head photoshopped in is in poor taste and insulting to the memory of a great man. This is the first time I have ever felt that you went over the line." --Joy

Editor's Reply: King Friday said he thought it was funny...

Liberty
"ack in 1942, the Supreme Court said that because the federal government has the right to regulate interstate commerce, the Department of Agriculture could tell a farmer how much wheat he could grow, even if the wheat never left his farm and was consumed there by his family and their farm animals. That case was a landmark, whose implications reached far beyond farming. ... ObamaCare is another piece of Congressional legislation for which there is no federal authority in the Constitution. But when someone asked Nancy Pelosi where in the Constitution there was any authority for passing such a law, her reply was 'Are you kidding?' Two federal courts have now said that they are not kidding. The ultimate question is whether the Supreme Court of the United States will back them up. That may depend on how soon the case reaches the Supreme court. If the issue wends its way slowly up through the Circuit Courts of Appeal, by the time it reaches the Supreme Court, Obama may have put more of his appointees there -- and, if so, they will probably rubberstamp anything he does. He would therefore have done a complete end-run around the Constitution and be well on his way to becoming the Hugo Chavez of North America." --economist Thomas Sowell

Opinion in Brief
"Here's a chunk of the problem with the proposed reconciliation of business and the Obama administration. 'We're trying,' the president said, in addressing the U.S. Chamber of Commerce [last] week, 'to run the government like you run your businesses -- with better technology and faster services.' ... What the president left out was imagination. And creativity. And a spirit of to-hell-with-it-let's-see-if-this-thing-works. ... The president used one word familiar to patrons of the marketplace -- 'invest.' That's what he wants business to do -- 'invest in America' for the sake of jobs, etc. He used the same word in the State of the Union message with a different spin. The idea there was Spend Taxpayer Money on Green Energy and the Like. The difference? Business ... pours money into a project with a clear, distinct idea of profits to come. A government 'investment'? You equate that kind of money transfer with bridges to nowhere and ethanol subsidies: things government does inasmuch as from those things government expects voter gratitude. The Chamber of Commerce and the president don't talk the same language. To them the same words mean different things." --columnist William Murchison

The Gipper
"We do have a rendezvous with destiny. Either we will preside over the great nightfall for all mankind, or we will accept the leadership that has been thrust upon us. I believe that is the obligation and responsibility of the Republican party today." --Ronald Reagan

 
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 Willa's Chocolate Covered Shortbread
These buttery concoctions, dipped in dark chocolate, are incredibly delicious and passed our staff's taste test with flying colors! We can't get enough of them and know you'll enjoy these treats as much as we do. Packaged in a beautiful silver tin and excellent for gift-giving, each tin weighs 13 oz.
 

Faith & Family
"It is difficult to explain to a culture rapidly forgetting its foundation why that foundation matters. While churches and schools have left instruction in Western Civilization behind, the recipients of its strong underpinnings float aimlessly trying to redefine the definite and ignore the irrefutable. And here it is: Western Civilization in general and America in particular was built on Judeo-Christian values. Those values shaped every area of life from government to finance to family. They brought order to all three. Government was no longer top-down, but of the people. People were free to 'pursue happiness' in part by choosing their own work. Judeo-Christian teaching taught them to work hard, make and keep contracts, treat employees fairly, pay an honest day's wage, and keep their word. Prosperity followed from those foundational principles." --President of Culture Campaign Sandy Rios

Culture
"One of liberalism's many problems is that once an idea or program is proved wrong and unworkable, liberals rarely acknowledge their mistake and examine the root cause of their error so they don't repeat it. Take multiculturalism... In a speech to a security conference in Munich, British Prime Minister David Cameron declared state multiculturalism a failure. For good measure, Cameron said Britain also must get tougher on Islamic extremists. Predictably, this has angered Islamic extremists. A genuinely liberal country, he said, 'believes in certain values and actively promotes them. ... Freedom of speech. Freedom of worship. Democracy. The rule of law, equal rights, regardless of race, sex or sexuality.' ... It may be too late for Britain, as it may be too late for France and Germany. It isn't too late for the United States, though it is getting close. Too many American leaders suffer from the same weak-kneed syndrome that has gripped Britain. Who will tell immigrants to America that the days of multiculturalism are over and if they want to come to America, they must do so legally and expect to become Americans with no hyphens, no allegiance to another country, and no agenda other than the improvement of the United States?" --columnist Cal Thomas

 
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 Taste of Tennessee
We have searched high and low to find a delightful sampling of delicious products made in The Patriot Shop's home state. Enjoy!
 

The Last Word
"A lot of people in America are elated by the sight of mobs gathering in the streets of Egypt. They view it as an oppressed people longing for liberty. They rejoice at the prospect of a dictator being dumped in favor of democracy. That is because a lot of people who are forever quoting Santayana's quip, 'Those who can not remember the past are condemned to repeat it,' have apparently remembered precious little themselves. It would seem that the extent of their historical knowledge begins and ends with the final score of the recent Super Bowl. The thing to keep in mind is that Cairo and Alexandria are not to be confused with Concord and Lexington, and nobody in the streets lobbing rocks and burning bottles is named Washington, Adams, Madison or Jefferson. Then there are those simpletons whose eyes begin to twinkle at the mere mention of the word 'revolution.' But comparing most revolutions to our own is sheer insanity. The French Revolution led to Robespierre and the Reign of Terror. The Russian Revolution led to Stalin and the gulags. China's Revolution brought us Mao and the slaughter of millions, Cuba's Revolution brought us Castro and the Iranian Revolution brought forth the Ayatollah Khomeini. ... Those good-hearted chumps who insist that democracy is the end-all and be-all are sadly misguided. Hitler won a popular election, as did Hamas in Gaza, as did Barack Obama, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi, in America. Just because folks are allowed to vote is no guarantee that they can always be trusted to do the right thing." --columnist Burt Prelutsky

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« Reply #892 on: February 17, 2011, 05:55:08 PM »

By ANDY KESSLER
So where the heck are all the jobs? Eight-hundred billion in stimulus and $2 trillion in dollar-printing and all we got were a lousy 36,000 jobs last month. That's not even enough to absorb population growth.

You can't blame the fact that 26 million Americans are unemployed or underemployed on lost housing jobs or globalization—those excuses are played out. To understand what's going on, you have to look behind the headlines. That 36,000 is a net number. The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that in December some 4,184,000 workers (seasonally adjusted) were hired, and 4,162,000 were "separated" (i.e., laid off or quit). This turnover tells the story of our economy—especially if you focus on jobs lost as a clue to future job growth.

With a heavy regulatory burden, payroll taxes and health-care costs, employing people is very expensive. In January, the Golden Gate Bridge announced that it will have zero toll takers next year: They've been replaced by wireless FastTrak payments and license-plate snapshots.

Technology is eating jobs—and not just toll takers.

Tellers, phone operators, stock brokers, stock traders: These jobs are nearly extinct. Since 2007, the New York Stock Exchange has eliminated 1,000 jobs. And when was the last time you spoke to a travel agent? Nearly all of them have been displaced by technology and the Web. Librarians can't find 36,000 results in 0.14 seconds, as Google can. And a snappily dressed postal worker can't instantly deliver a 140-character tweet from a plane at 36,000 feet.

So which jobs will be destroyed next? Figure that out and you'll solve the puzzle of where new jobs will appear.

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Martin Kozlowski
 .Forget blue-collar and white- collar. There are two types of workers in our economy: creators and servers. Creators are the ones driving productivity—writing code, designing chips, creating drugs, running search engines. Servers, on the other hand, service these creators (and other servers) by building homes, providing food, offering legal advice, and working at the Department of Motor Vehicles. Many servers will be replaced by machines, by computers and by changes in how business operates. It's no coincidence that Google announced it plans to hire 6,000 workers in 2011.

But even the label "servers" is too vague. So I've broken down the service economy further, as a guide to figure out the next set of unproductive jobs that will disappear. (Don't blame me if your job is listed here; technology spares no one, not even writers.)

• Sloppers are those that move things—from one side of a store or factory to another. Amazon is displacing thousands of retail workers. DMV employees and so many other government workers move information from one side of a counter to another without adding any value. Such sloppers are easy to purge with clever code.

• Sponges are those who earned their jobs by passing a test meant to limit supply. According to this newspaper, 23% of U.S. workers now need a state license. The Series 7 exam is required for stock brokers. Cosmetologists, real estate brokers, doctors and lawyers all need government certification. All this does is legally bar others from doing the same job, so existing workers can charge more and sponge off the rest of us.

But eDiscovery is the hottest thing right now in corporate legal departments. The software scans documents and looks for important keywords and phrases, displacing lawyers and paralegals who charge hundreds of dollars per hour to read the often millions of litigation documents. Lawyers, understandably, hate eDiscovery.

Doctors are under fire as well, from computer imaging that looks inside of us and from Computer Aided Diagnosis, which looks for patterns in X-rays to identify breast cancer and other diseases more cheaply and effectively than radiologists do. Other than barbers, no sponges are safe.

• Supersloppers mark up prices based on some marketing or branding gimmick, not true economic value. That Rolex Oyster Perpetual Submariner Two-Tone Date for $9,200 doesn't tell time as well as the free clock on my iPhone, but supersloppers will convince you to buy it. Markups don't generate wealth, except for those marking up. These products and services provide a huge price umbrella for something better to sell under.

• Slimers are those that work in finance and on Wall Street. They provide the grease that lubricates the gears of the economy. Financial firms provide access to capital, shielding companies from the volatility of the stock and bond and derivative markets. For that, they charge hefty fees. But electronic trading has cut into their profits, and corporations are negotiating lower fees for mergers and financings. Wall Street will always exist, but with many fewer workers.

• Thieves have a government mandate to make good money and a franchise that could disappear with the stroke of a pen. You know many of them: phone companies, cable operators and cellular companies are the obvious ones. But there are more annoying ones—asbestos testing and removal, plus all the regulatory inspectors who don't add value beyond making sure everyone pays them. Technologies like Skype have picked off phone companies by lowering international rates. And consumers are cutting expensive cable TV services in favor of Web-streamed video.


Like it or not, we are at the beginning of a decades-long trend. Beyond the demise of toll takers and stock traders, watch enrollment dwindle in law schools and medical schools. Watch the divergence in stock performance between companies that actually create and those that are in transition—just look at Apple, Netflix and Google over the last five years as compared to retailers and media.

But be warned that this economy is incredibly dynamic, and there is no quick fix for job creation when so much technology-driven job destruction is taking place. Fortunately, history shows that labor-saving machines haven't decreased overall employment even when they have made certain jobs obsolete. Ultimately the economic growth created by new jobs always overwhelms the drag from jobs destroyed—if policy makers let it happen.

Mr. Kessler, a former hedge fund manager, is the author most recently of "Eat People And Other Unapologetic Rules for Game-Changing Entrepreneurs," just out from Portfolio.

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« Reply #893 on: February 19, 2011, 01:34:47 PM »

There was an article in one of the medical journals some years back that addressed the plight of the elderly in history.  Many elderly worked till they died.  Others, lived with family.  Others wound up at flop houses or begged.  Compare that to today's expectations.  (unfortunatley I cannot find the article now but it was extraordinarily illuminating from someone born in the 50s to see how hard it really was for many people who were lucky enough to live to old age.  After reading that I found it hard to feel sorry for the elderly of today.  No one wants to get old but.....

http://retirementblog.ncpa.org/the-right-to-retirement/

****Early Retirement, retirement

After last week's post, I started thinking about what our societal expectations are about retirement.  So I brushed the dust off of my pocket-sized copy of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.  After perusing them, I was reminded that these beloved documents spell out many God-given rights that government is obligated to protect while allowing humankind to pursue life, liberty and happiness.  (Note to the courts:  Constitutional law still exists).  But what is expectantly absent from the Bill of Rights is the right to an easy, stress-free life.

What does this have to do with retirement, one might ask?  There are no Constitutional rights to retirement, much less an easy retirement.  Retirement is made possible by the structure of entitlement programs, the effort of workers and savers, and the generosity (hopefully) of the next generation to care for their aging parents.  But the Constitution says nothing about retirement.  Specifically:

1)  There is no Constitutional right to early retirement.  The full retirement age when people receive their full Social Security benefits for most of today's workers is now 67.  While retiring at age 55 may be the plan for many, there are no guarantees.  So if your 401(k) account derailed your plans to retire early last year, this matter does not justify a goverment bailout.

2)  There is no Constitutional right to home equity for retirement income.  While the Constitution protects your property from unreasonable search and seizure, there is no right to property earning a 200 percent rate of return that will enable you to downsize and retire comfortably from the sale of your existing home.  The current mortgage mess has affirmed that this right does not exist.

3)  There is no Constitutional right to entitlement programs.  Sadly, the government has mislead people into thinking that Social Security alone can and will solve any retirement financial problems, and that there will always be money to fund entitlement programs.  But the $102 trillion future deficit held by Medicare and Social Security as it stands today means that the program will exist in its current form – only as far as the government is willing to borrow and people are willing to fork over payroll taxes.

4)  Finally, there is no Constitutional right to a "wealthy" standard of living at retirement.  I am reminded of the elite elderly couple Thurston and Lovey Howell from the 1960s TV show "Gilligan's Island."  While they were shipwrecked on an uninhabited island, we learn little about how these millionaires made their money, but it was obvious by their dress and demeanor that they had no financial worries in their later years.  Such is usually not the case for real-life retirees.  Some baby boomers may approach retirement with the resources to purchase a yacht or a month-long cruise, while many others may have to settle for a three-hour tour.

In other words, there are no guarantees in life, or in retirement outcomes, for that matter.   But careful thought and planning can minimize the risk of plans going awry.

Have a good weekend!***

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« Reply #894 on: February 19, 2011, 01:35:41 PM »



http://v1.cache5.googlevideo.com/videoplayback?signature=21860F7497B3650E73AB92E1CF8EC3E916549B70.CBEE7BB927021E7995870DAE494DD017A466B309&sparams=id,itag,uaopt,ip,ipbits,expire&expire=1300718795&ipbits=0&ip=0.0.0.0&uaopt=no-save&itag=18&id=5c5a8f9f9e7facd4&key=yta1&el=videos&devkey=AX8iKz393pCCMUL6wqrPOZoO88HsQjpE1a8d1GxQnGDm&app=youtube_gdata&redirect_counter=2

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« Reply #895 on: March 06, 2011, 11:04:22 PM »



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LO2eh6f5Go0&feature=player_embedded
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« Reply #896 on: March 07, 2011, 06:59:40 AM »


http://english.aljazeera.net/indepth/opinion/2011/03/20113341535651130.html

http://english.aljazeera.net/indepth/opinion/2011/03/201134154351741689.html
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« Reply #897 on: March 22, 2011, 10:29:44 AM »

y FABIO RAFAEL FIALLO
The globalization of the international economy and this winter's Arab revolts mark the demise, each in a different domain, of an ideological stance that flourished in the third quarter of the previous century. "Third Worldism," which rose out of decolonization and the triumph of Marxist revolutions in developing countries, is the belief or pretense that the economic and political interests of poor nations are in variance and contradiction to those of rich nations—specifically those with Western values and modes of living.

On the economic front, Third Worldism based its rationale on the theory of "unequal exchange," according to which trade between developed and developing nations are detrimental to the latter: Developing countries' exports—which 40 years ago consisted largely of raw materials and other primary commodities—were allegedly underpriced, and foreign investment was deemed a means of exploiting emerging markets' natural endowments and labor markets. Such commercial relationships, Third Worldism further posited, were the main cause of economic backwardness in developing countries. To overcome this state of affairs, Third Worldist "experts" in academic circles and international organizations advised developing countries to foster trade among themselves ("collective self-reliance" was the name given to that endeavor) and to pursue an inward-oriented industrialization through protectionist barriers against imported manufactured goods.

This kind of economic autarky found its counterpart on the political front in the principle of "self-determination." Developing countries, it was argued, were in fundamentally different cultural settings than the countries that had colonized them. They had the right and the need to look for political norms that suited their specific conditions and levels of development, instead of adopting the liberal, multiparty, democratic models that prevailed in the West.

In practice, self-determination soon became an expedient for newly established despots to strengthen and perpetuate their wrongdoings. The world's Maos, Castros, Gadhafis and Mugabes claimed to incarnate the interests of their nations. The citizens under their whips were relegated to the category of "masses," with the duty simply to implement their masters' orders. Whoever attempted to disagree was accused of being a "mercenary" paid by foreign powers. Dissent was tantamount to treason.

This fashionable brand of Third-World "self-determination" left First-World leaders with only one politically correct choice: Sit down, keep quiet and let the dictators—er, "nationalist liberators"—continue to smother free expression and hunt, imprison, torture and murder their opposition. The alternative—to be accused of interfering in the domestic affairs of sovereign developing nations—was just too unpalatable.

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Associated Press
 
Nikita Khrushchev with Fidel Castro at the U.N. General Assembly, 1960.
.Before the turn of the millennium, trade globalization came to disprove the economic foundations of Third Worldism: One after the other, developing countries realized that protectionism had led them only to poverty, and that they had far more to gain from participating fully in international commerce. Many thus decided to overhaul their macroeconomic policies, privatize inefficient state enterprises and open their markets to foreign capital and to the technology that comes with it. Thanks to that change of paradigm, a large number of these countries have become formidable competitors in international markets for manufactured goods.

But the political pillar of Third Worldism remained. Tyrants' abuse of the principle of "self-determination" has been contested since the fall of the Berlin Wall. In international forums, proposals were put forward to institute the "right to interfere," which has since become the "responsibility to protect" populations from flagrant human-rights violations; in June 1990, in the city of La Baule, French President François Mitterrand promised that France would tailor her support for African regimes to their willingness to foster political freedom and economic efficiency. Former U.S. President George W. Bush later pushed his "freedom agenda," which emphasized democracy promotion as an essential ingredient of American foreign policy.

All these initiatives tried to combat the notion that "self-determination" should serve as a subterfuge for unaccountable autocrats to perpetuate their reigns. But Third World despots (and like-minded intellectuals) argued that such initiatives had no roots or legitimacy in developing nations' cultures. The Middle East was their prime example of a region where representative democracy had never prospered and had not even been sought.

Cue this winter's revolts, which have torn this sorry argument to pieces. In the streets of Tunis, Cairo, Tripoli and practically everywhere else in the region, men and women have risked their lives to show that they are not "masses," but individuals who want and have the right to choose and debate their governance. To my knowledge these protesters have not burned a single effigy of Uncle Sam or Israeli flag as their rulers have intermittently teleprompted them to do over the years. Instead their fury has been directed at those actually responsible for their decades-long suffering. Meanwhile Libyan rebels called on the outside world—and notably the West—for help in overthrowing Moammar Gadhafi. And this is not even the first time the people of North Africa or the Middle East have requested our support: In 2009, the streets of Iran rang with protesters' chorus of "Obama! Obama! Are you with them or are you with us?"

Whatever the outcome in Libya, Egypt or Tunisia—or Bahrain or Syria for that matter—don't expect the yearning for true self-determination to subside. These people have now glimpsed freedom, and they aren't likely to forget it and revert to their status quo ante. Fighting for liberty creates an unyielding addiction. Poland's Solidarity was smashed and forced underground in 1981, but eight years later the Berlin Wall fell and by 1990 Lech Walesa was president. North Africa and the Middle East are going through a period not unlike that in Eastern Europe in the 1980s: Sooner or later freedom will have the final say.

But what has been buried in the adventures and misadventures of today's revolts is that whatever legitimacy was left in the ideology of Third Worldism is now gone. Those statesmen and intellectuals who have fought this moment for years will pay dearly before history, but it has now arrived: By refusing to be governed any longer by despots, and showing that they have democratic aspirations similar to the rest of the world's, the Arab people have finally killed Third Worldism.

Mr. Fiallo is a Dominican-born economist, writer and retired U.N. official. His latest publication, "Ternes Eclats" or "Dimmed Lights," (L'Harmattan, 2009) presents a critique of international organizations.

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« Reply #898 on: March 22, 2011, 08:22:03 PM »

Arab League Redefines Chutzpah
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
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Many readers will recall one of the most famous headlines in modern American newspaper history -- the 1975 New York Daily News headline "Ford to City: Drop Dead."

Substitute "Arab League" for "Ford" and "America" for "City" and you've got the perfect headline: "Arab League to America: Drop Dead."

I always thought the best illustration of "chutzpah" was that of the boy who kills his parents and then pleads with the court for mercy, on the grounds that he is an orphan.

But given that that is only a hypothetical example, we now have a better illustration of chutzpah because this one is true.

Witnessing the Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi's large-scale killings of Libyan civilians, the Arab League begged us, the Europeans and the Security Council to militarily intervene on behalf of the Libyan people.

So, despite the fact that America is rather weary of fighting Muslim mass murderers, is militarily overstretched and has a devastating national debt, America said yes. We are the most decent country on Earth, and even a liberal-left Democrat in the White House feels the moral pull of America's legacy, values and unparalleled strength.

But no sooner have America and the Europeans intervened than the Arab League officially protests our intervention on the grounds that Libyan civilians -- 48 claimed, 0 confirmed at the time of the protest -- have been killed by the intervention requested by the Arab League.

What exactly did the Arab League, most of whose dictators have murdered thousands of their own people for political reasons, think would happen once the U.S. and the Europeans intervened militarily? Did they assume not one Libyan civilian would get killed? Has there been a military action in history in which no civilians died?

Amr Moussa, the outgoing secretary general of the Arab League, claimed in his statement that "What is happening in Libya differs from the aim of imposing a no-fly zone, and what we want is the protection of civilians and not the bombardment of more civilians."

Perhaps Moussa did not read the Security Council resolution. It does not limit anti-Gadhafi military activity to "imposing a no-fly zone." The resolution authorizes U.N. member states "to take all necessary measures to protect civilians and civilian populated areas under threat of attack in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, including Benghazi (italics added)."

Perhaps President Obama should hold a press conference and make this announcement:

"Given the Arab League's protest, we are immediately ending our military involvement in Libya. Apparently, Mr. Moussa, the secretary general of the Arab League, assumed that military intervention is possible without the killing of a single civilian. He should have told us so. Under that condition, we would never have put our blood and treasure on the line. So now, we are out, and the blood of every Libyan killed and tortured by the Libyan dictator is now on the Arab League's hands. On behalf of the American people, I ask the Arab League, and especially Mr. Moussa, to never again appeal to us to save Arabs from their dictators. Shukran."

(The president likes using Arabic words when he addresses Arab audiences, so his using the Arabic word for "thank you," shukran, would add a nice flourish.)

What does this Arab League protest mean?

It clarifies once again that tribal values outweigh moral values in the Arab world, including among much of its educated elite such as Moussa. In many Arabs' eyes, it is better for an Arab tyrant to slaughter any number of Arabs, and to allow that tyrant to retain power, than for Westerners to kill a dozen Arabs in order save tens of thousands of them trying to topple that tyrant.

In much of the Arab world, saving Arab lives and spreading freedom pale in comparison to two other passions.

One of these is power -- especially despotic power -- as David Pryce-Jones shows in his brilliant book on the Arab world, "The Closed Circle." Strong and cruel Arab leaders -- from Gamal Abdul Nasser to Saddam Hussein to Hamas and Hezbollah -- have been adored by the famed "Arab street."

The other passion is hatred of Israel. That's the one thing that unites nearly all Arabs. They no more love Palestinians than they love Libyans or the tens of thousands of Syrian victims of the two Assad regimes in Damascus. They defend Palestinians because they are necessary for demonizing and ultimately delegitimizing Israel.

And Moussa is among the Israel haters. As The New York Times reported, "Hosni Mubarak removed him (Moussa) as foreign minister after a song called 'I Hate Israel and I Love Amr Moussa' became a pop hit in 2001." To hate Israel is to love Moussa.

It gets worse. Moussa is favored to win the Egyptian presidential election.

But look at the bright side -- thanks to Moussa and the Arab League, we now have a real-life illustration of chutzpah that outdoes the classic fictitious one.
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« Reply #899 on: March 23, 2011, 12:53:45 PM »

 A special report on the future of the state
Taming Leviathan
The state almost everywhere is big, inefficient and broke. It needn’t be, says John Micklethwait
Mar 17th 2011 | from the print edition
 THE argument sounds familiar. The disruptive reforms that have so changed the private sector should now be let loose on the public sector. The relationship between government and civil society has been that between master and servant; instead, it should be a partnership, with the state creating the right environment for companies and charities to do more of its work. The conclusion: “We are in a transition from a big state to a small state, and from a small society to a big society.”

A Republican presidential candidate in America? David Cameron rallying Britain’s Tories? Neither: the speaker is supposedly China’s most highly regarded bureaucrat. Last year Ma Hong won the country’s national award for government innovation—a great coup for her department, which is trying to get more non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to take over parts of welfare, health and education services in the city of Shenzhen, just across the border from Hong Kong.

The award partly reflects the whirl of activity that is Ms Ma. She has dismantled most of the controls on local NGOs: rather than be sponsored by some government department, all they have to do is register with her. She began in 2004 with industrial associations, but has extended the net to include independent charities. Almost 4,000 “social groups” are now registered—nearly double the number in 2002, when they were all tied to the state.

In this special report
The gods that have failed—so far
» Taming Leviathan «
 
California reelin'
Enemies of progress
Big society
Seize the moment
Go East, young bureaucrat
Favelous
A work in progress
Patient, heal thyself
Sources and acknowledgments
Offer to readers

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

Related topics
Lawrence Summers
United Kingdom
United States
China
Over the past five years Ms Ma has paid out 400m yuan ($57m) to the NGOs for social work, mainly to do with the elderly. The groups are evaluated by third parties on things like their corporate governance: the higher their rating, the more money she trusts them with. She provides training in social work and tax advice. She would like donations to more NGOs to be tax-deductible, as in the West.

Ms Ma has studied what works elsewhere. In Hong Kong, where she trained in 2005, some 90% of social work is done by NGOs, paid for by the state. Like many Chinese bureaucrats, she also admires Singapore—especially its balance between easy registration for NGOs and stern punishment if they underperform. She wants her social groups to become the engines of Chinese society “just as private companies are in the economy”.

Even allowing for Ms Ma’s dynamism, there was, as so often in China, a message implied in her award. The country’s rulers are acutely aware that their government does not serve ordinary Chinese well. Back in 2007 the five-yearly Congress of the Communist Party embraced “scientific development” to create “a harmonious society”. Shenzhen is supposed to be the showcase for a new public sector, just as it showed the rest of the country how to embrace capitalism 30 years ago. The city has classified some 280 government functions as “social” ones, which means they can be contracted out to Ms Ma’s NGOs.

It is not hard to poke holes in China’s version of the Big Society, as we shall see later in this special report. But there is plainly a drive to make government work a little more like the private sector. “Just as a human has two legs, China has a very long economic one and a very short social one,” observes Ms Ma. “They should be of equal length.”

Many Western politicians feel the same way about their own bloated and inefficient governments. The immediate problem is the financial crisis: governments have had to spend furiously, both to prop up their banks and ward off a depression. With the average gross debt burden in OECD countries just over 100% of GDP and sovereign-debt markets fearful of another Greece or Ireland, every government, even America’s, is under pressure to produce a credible plan to shrink its deficit.

What is government for?

Costly though it has been, the financial crisis has merely brought forward a fiscal reckoning. In most of the rich world ageing populations have been driving up the cost of public health care and state pensions. Emerging countries that are becoming richer, such as China and India, are now wondering what sort of state they need to meet their citizens’ demands for better schools, health care and infrastructure.

Indeed, the fiery argument about capitalism prompted by the credit crunch has obscured a nascent, and much broader, debate about the nature of government. The future of the state is likely to dominate politics for the next decade at least. How can government be made more efficient? What should it do and not do? To whom should it answer? Ms Ma is one voice in this, but so are the anti-tax tea-party activists in America, French workers protesting against later retirement and British parents trying to set up independent schools with state money.

This special report’s central argument is that Leviathan can be made far more efficient. The state has woefully lagged behind the private sector. Catching up is not just a case of nuts-and-bolts productivity improvements but of liberal principle: too often an institution that, at least in a democracy, was supposed to be the people’s servant has become their master.

But nobody should expect that to be easy. The vested interests opposing change are huge: the state’s growth has been encouraged by the right as well as the left, by favour-seeking companies as well as public-sector unions, by voters as well as bureaucrats. Indeed, given the pressures for ever larger government, many reformers feel they will have to work hard just to keep it at its present size.

Government has always tended to expand (see table 1), and people have always fretted about it. In 1888 a French economist, Pierre Paul Leroy-Beaulieu, calculated that a share of 12-13% of GDP (just above the Western average then) was the sustainable limit for a modern state. By 1960 sprawling welfare states had pushed the average in the rich world to 28% (see chart 2), enough to convince Friedrich Hayek that “the deliberately organised forces of society [ie, government regulation]” might “destroy those spontaneous forces which have made advance possible.” Yet the next quarter-century saw another surge, pushed mainly by transfer payments and subsidies ostensibly aimed at the poor but often of most benefit to the middle classes.

This sparked a counterblast to halt Leviathan, led by Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. By the 1990s many people thought that global capitalism would stop the state’s advance. This was the decade, after all, when Bill Clinton and other leaders declared the end of big government; when left-wingers claimed (inaccurately) that half the world’s biggest economies were multinational firms; when the emerging world was embracing the Washington consensus of deregulation: and when industrial policy mainly meant hanging on to golden shares in privatised companies. A special report in this newspaper, published in 1997, examined the then fashionable idea that the state was withering away. Its author, Clive Crook, now at the Financial Times, argued that it was not.

He has been proved right several times over. In continental Europe, where the state’s share of the economy was already pretty big, it has not risen that much. However, in America a Republican, George Bush, pushed up spending more than any president since Lyndon Johnson. In Britain New Labour became even less parsimonious: the state’s share of GDP rose from under 37% in 2000 to 44% in 2007; with the British economy struggling, it then jumped to 51% in 2010.

Share of GDP is not the only way to measure state power. “Big governance” can be just as costly to an economy as big government. Some 1,000 pages of federal regulations were added each year Mr Bush was in office. A quarter of a million Americans have jobs devising and implementing federal rules. The European Union has also produced a thicket of red tape. Some are prompted by the left (diversity, health and safety), others by the right (closed-circuit cameras, the war on drugs).

Or look at the state’s role in business. In the 1990s privatisation seemed to have settled that argument. Now state capitalism has returned, sometimes accidentally (several banks have become government-controlled) but often intentionally. Many of the new industrial champions of the emerging world are state-owned, and industrial policy is no longer a rude expression even in Anglo-Saxon countries.

There is a belief in boardrooms and among America’s tax-cutting right that a monstrous, ever-growing state is the creature of make-work bureaucrats and leftist politicians, and sometimes that is true. But often the beast is responding to popular demand. Globalisation, for instance, has increased many people’s reliance on the state: greater job insecurity among the middle classes has increased the calls for bigger safety nets, and the greater inequality that comes with bigger markets has made voters keener on redistribution. Or look at the threat of terrorism, to which the knee-jerk response on America’s right was to build up the government in Washington. As Stephen Walt, a professor at Harvard, puts it, “when September 11th happened, nobody rang Bill Gates or the Open Society Institute.”

The next battle

The recent advance of government is once again prompting a fightback. The Republicans’ victory in the 2010 mid-term elections was hailed as a return to small-government conservatism. Bruised rather than reinforced by his huge health-care reform, Mr Obama is limping back to the centre, suddenly promising businesspeople that he will rein in regulation. In Britain Mr Cameron’s government is pushing ahead with reforms that will slim some departments by a fifth. And even in big government’s continental European core, private-sector workers are reacting with fury to the perks their public-sector cousins enjoy at their expense. The German Language Society’s word of the year for 2010 was Wutbürger (irate citizen).

But will this fury stop Leviathan’s advance? Some scepticism is in order. None of the continental European government-slashers is really trying to change the structure of the state. Mr Cameron’s attempt offers a better chance of genuine radicalism, though even his savagery will take back the size of Britain’s state only to its level in 2008. The tea-party Republicans seem to be all milk and no caffeine: their first budget proposal did not touch defence or the three great entitlement programmes, Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. Like the apocryphal sign at a tea-party rally last year, warning government to keep its “hands off my Medicare”, they are refusing to confront reality.

Nor is it just spineless politicians who are at fault. A lot of economic theorists have predicted an ever larger state since Adolph Wagner linked its growth to industrialisation in the 19th century. The Baumol cost effect is often cited. In the 1960s William Baumol and William Bowen used the example of classical music to show that some activities are not susceptible to improvements in labour productivity. You still need the same number of musicians to play a Beethoven symphony as you did in the 19th century, even though real wages for musicians have risen since then. Larry Summers, Mr Obama’s main economic adviser till the end of 2010, argues that the goods governments buy, especially health care and education, have proved much more resistant to productivity enhancements than the rest of the economy. Since the 1970s real wages in America have risen tenfold if you measure them against the cost of televisions; set against the cost of health care, they have gone down.

Mr Summers expects that trend to continue. An ageing population will need ever more health services provided by the state. Better education means longer school years, smaller classes and more after-school activities, all of which cost more. Greater inequality will mean greater redistribution. In Italy and France cash social transfers alone take up 19% of GDP. The pressure to spend more is continuous, Mr Summers points out, whereas things that reduce the size of government tend to produce one-off savings: the end of the cold war, for instance, took a slice out of defence spending, but that was it.

Mr Summers has a lot of history on his side. This special report takes a more optimistic view. To start with, it is not inevitable that spending will keep on going up. Countries such as Canada and Sweden have reduced public spending when they had to. Moreover, some governments are massively more efficient than others, and there are huge gains to be achieved merely by bad governments copying what good governments do—such as planning ahead, backing winners and rewarding people for doing the right thing. With a smaller central core and much more competition for the provision of services, most governments could do the same for much less.

Most of this special report will focus on that overdue reorganisation. A second set of reforms, for which there is still less political appetite at the moment, would retarget government spending—especially adjusting social transfers (a category that in America’s national accounts rose from 8% of GDP in 1970 to 16% in 2009). Benefits that have become middle-class boondoggles should be redirected at the poor.

Not all of history is on the pessimists’ side. Fifty years ago companies seemed to be getting bigger and bigger. Business has since changed shape dramatically. The state can catch up by doing many of the same things business did to transform itself, not least bringing in competition and rethinking what it should do itself and what it should contract out to others. And the state, too, has changed shape in the past. In 19th century Britain, for instance, liberal reformers dismantled the patronage state of rotten boroughs and bought offices, building up a professional civil service. Government got leaner and much more efficient. It can surely do so again.

Second, even if Mr Summers is right that the state is unlikely to shrink, there is still a vast amount of work to be done to make it deliver more for the same money and become much more accountable. The ramifications are huge—for people, the economy and society.

Reasons to change

On a personal level, the state matters because it has a big impact on people’s lives. As Geoff Mulgan observes in his excellent book on the state, “Good and Bad Power”, the quality of the state you live in will do more to determine your well-being than natural resources, culture or religion. In the surveys that measure people’s happiness, decent government is as important as education, income and health (all of which are themselves dependent on government).

To business, government can make an enormous difference. Most obviously, if the state accounts for half the economy then improving any part of that will create better conditions for growth. Even if government were to cost the same but produce more (better-educated workers, decent health care, roads without holes, simpler regulation), the effect on private-sector productivity would be electric.

For society, the debate about the state matters because liberalism is on trial. “The challenge of Western democracy is always presented as one to do with transparency and accountability,” reflects Tony Blair, who served as Britain’s prime minister for ten years. “In fact it is really a challenge of efficacy. Our politicians on the whole are not corrupt. But they are not delivering the services people want. The emerging world is deciding what sort of government it wants. It looks at us and sees a system that costs a lot and does not deliver enough.” Another prominent Western politician goes further, seeing government as an increasing problem for the West too. “If it carries on as it is, eventually our own voters may also be more tempted by ‘something that makes the trains run on time’.”

A host of books have recently been singing the praises of China’s authoritarian approach. This special report will look at that model, but it will focus on the rich world, where most of the problems and solutions are to be found. No place better illustrates the troubles of the public sector than California, the American state that has become synonymous with private-sector ingenuity.

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