View 630 Friday, June 29, 2012
Madison and Chief Justice Roberts
The uproar continues over the strange ruling by Chief Justice Roberts that (1) the Obama Care Act cannot be sustained as Constitutional under the commerce clause, and (2) it remains constitutional because it doesn’t matter what Congress says it is imposing, it’s a tax and if it’s a tax it’s Constitutional, and (3) it is the duty of the SCOTUS to implement the will of Congress when that is possible. IF we call it a tax we can uphold the act. He adds, obiter dicta, that it is not the duty of the Supreme Court to protect the people from the consequences of their political choices.
He doesn’t really believe that latter, nor do any of us; but it is still very clear. The government derives its just powers from the consent of the governed, the Constitution provides the mechanisms by which the people show their will and consent, and the Court may or may not be wiser than the political branches of the government, but the Court is, in the final analysis, subservient to the political branches. It can hold out only so long, and the Court is at the ends of its powers.
Roberts has said, and he certainly has evidence to support the view, that the trend in the United States has been in the direction of increased government control over individual activities. I do not think he likes that. This direction is away from the traditional view of federal/state relations, and certainly not that of either the Framers or of those who adopted the Civil War Amendments and the reconstitution of these United States after the end of Reconstruction. The political commitments to the concept of federal republic were made then, and until recently pretty well prevailed; but we are now on a course toward nationalization of many issues, of which health care is a primary example. The Court can delay, but it cannot prevent the implementation of a new national consensus at odds with what the Court is supposed to enforce. The Court can stand in the doorway only so long. We now have a clear case in which the will of Congress and the President are in conflict with what a narrow majority of the Court believes. A very narrow majority.
This leads to a Constitutional crisis.
There was a period in US history somewhat similar to this. The issue in those days was slavery. The trend in the United States was against the South’s peculiar institution, but the plain language of the Constitution reflected a political compromise — one of several political compromises which made the Union possible – that made slavery legal. The trend was against slavery, and clearly over time the institution was doomed; either the Constitution would be amended, or one or another bloc of states would secede. The issue was stark, and the arguments were largely moral on the anti-slavery side, and pragmatic on the slaver side. Keeping the Union together was the business of the political branches, and people as diverse as John Quincy Adams, Henry Clay, Daniel Webster, and many others worked out the Missouri Compromise, and later the Compromise of 1850 with the goal of preserving the Union while limiting the extent of slavery.
This was a delicate matter, and there was much at stake. There were more complexities than most understood. There were southerners who hated slavery but were terrified of the consequences of liberation. There were northerners who did not want equal rights for blacks – some were involved in the founding of Liberia (capital, Monrovia), a new nation in Africa to which freed slaves could be exported.
And there was Chief Justice Taney, who ruled that the compromises were all null. Taney ruled that slaves and descendants of slavery could not become citizens. The political compromises were over, and would not be renewed.
Turn now to Madison, who told us in the Federalist Papers that the Constitution entrusted the liberties of the people to the whole of the population. Hamilton in another of the Papers pointed out the weakness of the courts, and that the political departments would always prevail. These spokesmen for the Constitution made it clear that over time the will of the people – whatever that means – would prevail, and no combination of Constitutional forces could prevent that. The purpose of the Constitution was openly stated more than once by the Framers to be the suppression of what is today known as plebiscitary democracy. The view of the Framers on this subject is best expressed by the often quoted dictum “There never was a democracy that did not commit suicide.”
Chief Justice Roberts has in effect said that the health care measure is somehow fundamental to these United States. It needs to be decided, and it cannot be decided by the Courts. It will also not be decided by deception: if it is going to be imposed let it be imposed by Congress and let it be seen that it is not a matter of ‘commerce’ at all. It is an imposition of will by the political authorities and it is imposed as a tax. If you do not care for it, you have the power to repeal it.
Roberts did not address, probably on purpose, the technical matter of the origin of the Obama Health Care Act. Did it originate in the House or the Senate? For if in the Senate, it is not constitutional on its face, since it is imposed as a tax, and revenue measure must originate there. But Roberts’ point is that the Court is utterly divided. The law is clearly necessary and proper according to four members of the Court. It is clearly fatally flawed according to four other members of the Court. The Constitution did not contemplate that one man should decide on the political future of the United States, and what course it ought to take in future. Ruling on a narrow technical detail would merely delay the crisis.
It is time, the Chief Justice said, for the will of the people to be expressed through the political departments. You should not try to make the Supreme Court the final arbitrator of such political matters. It has not the wisdom for that.
This election will now be held largely on the issue of Obama Care. If the President wins this will be seen as a vindication of that act and of the philosophy behind it. If the President fails of election the Act will be repealed, and there is an opportunity for the United States to turn back and forsake its former ways.
Now it is up to us. Mr. Roberts has said he cannot protect you from the consequences of your actions, and he has done so at a time and in a way that makes the question stark and clear. Whatever his intentions, this is what he has done, and I for one thank him for it.
View 630 Thursday, June 28, 2012
Former Speaker Pelosi famously told us that we would have to pass the Obama Health Care Bill to find out what’s in it. Today we found out some of it:
It’s the biggest tax increase in the history of the nation. You may get out of paying that tax if you have health insurance. If that sounds more like a fine and a mandate than a tax you are not alone in that observation, but the US Supreme Court has said otherwise. The Obama Health Care Act complete with the individual mandates – and complete with the requirements for employers to provide health care or pay fines – is a legitimate tax under the Constitution, by a 5-4 majority that includes the Chief Justice.
It also makes the November election the starkest choice in the history of the nation.
There are two important points here, one Constitutional and one political, but they are so intertwined that the political issue is key.
The Constitutional issue is that a 5-4 decision of the Court has pretty well given Congress the power to do anything it likes in the guise of taxes. The power to tax is the power to destroy, and now anything involving government expenditures can be taxed, which means that inaction can be taxed, which means – well, you get the idea.
The political issue is that more than 60% of the country hates the Obama Health Care Act; that a large number of people on Medicare hate the Obama Health Care Act; and that this is a stark issue, no compromises. The Court by a 5-4 decision has said that the Obama Health Care Act can be implemented, and the President has made it clear that if re-elected he will appoint new Justices who will cement this enormous expansion of Federal Power. The Republican Candidate Designate has said that on his first day in office he will take all possible action to repeal the Obama Health Care Act.
The issue couldn’t be more clear. Whatever one thinks of Romney, he is (1) against the Obama Health Care Act, and (2) in favor of restricting the power of the federal government on the grounds of State’s Rights.
The good news is that a majority of the country is in favor of the Republican stand on these issues. The good news is that the votes are out there.
The message is clear: this is a ground game. There is no need for persuasion. The election will turn on how many votes the two sides in this issue can get to the polls, or get to send in some kind of vote by mail. You may expect to see bombardments of retirement homes, as political operatives try to get them to vote by mail – and others will try to get them to vote twice and negate themselves. You will see a great deal of ferment in organizing to get out the vote.
A repeat of 2010 will start the Republic on the way to recovery. A 5-4 decision can be reversed. There may even be enough sentiment in the nation to reverse it with a Constitutional Amendment. We have the means to do this. What we have done we can aspire to.
This is a maximum effort mission.
This came yesterday from an old friend on Roberts’ stand on the Arizona decision:
Or, it belatedly occurs to me, perhaps they’ve gotten to Roberts, in which case he’d be writing the majority opinion to uphold Obamacare tomorrow. Given how they passed the health care bill in the first place, does either of us really think they’d hesitate to use a handle on him if they had it?
I am nonplussed by Roberts’ stand in both these issues. It seems inconsistent with his previous decisions on federal power. I have no explanation. Rush Limbaugh says that Roberts has become a typical member of the Washington Establishment which has encouraged him to ‘grow’ in office. ‘Growth’ in Washington always means to join the Iron Law growth of government power and support the ever increasing perks of office holders.
Or, it may be, that he is more Machiavellian than anyone supposed: he has made it clear that the courts cannot save the people of the United States from the inexorable march of government toward a European style Road to Serfdom. It is now up to the people of the United States to save themselves. They can do that in November, and begin a march toward transparency and subsidiarity. The issue is stark and the mission is clear.
Late breaking news: funds for Romney are rolling in since the publication of the decision. And the news media are suddenly noting that this ruling makes the 2012 election very close to being a repeat of the 2010 election: which, of course, was a disaster for Democrats.
This is a maximum effort mission.
There comes a time when you cannot rely on the Courts to uphold the principles of self government. There comes a time when those who favor self government have no choice: they have to take part in governing. Whether Machiavellian or blackmailed, Chief Justice Roberts has made it clear: the courts cannot save the government from going where its elected officials intend to take it. Courts can delay, they can nit-pick, they can drag their feet, but they cannot forever stop the inevitable march down the Road to Serfdom when that is the intent of the political departments. Of course this has always been clear. It was pretty well stated in the Federalist Papers.
The President is even now saying that it is now time to move forward. He means move down the Road to Serfdom. The Courts will not help us here. If we want transparency, subsidiarity, limited government, this is a turning point: we cannot rely on the courts. We must win elections.
The good news is that the November 2012 election can be won, and won big. The good news is that the issues are stark, and the Republican Candidate Designate has made the issue clear. The good news is that 2010 may well be a harbinger of the future.
This is a maximum effort mission.
View 630 Wednesday, June 27, 2012
I hear a ton of speculations about why the court found parts of the Arizona illegal aliens laws unconstitutional while keeping the “Your papers, please,” provision that was really the heart of the Arizona system. Arizona cannot, according to the USSC, make it a state crime for an illegal alien to hold a job; but it can aid the feds if it discovers illegals in the ordinary course of the law enforcement business. It’s all arcane legalese and there’s not much common sense in it, but that’s what happens when you turn self government over to experts. If you don’t like this, take back your government.
And the speculations on why Roberts joined in getting rid of parts of the Arizona law continue, although it seems obvious to me. If you believe in states’ rights you also believe in federal rights, and that means you need some way to sort out who gets what cases. If you don’t the evil of double jeopardy looms higher and higher. But that’s for another essay.
Some of the wild speculation is a form of Kremlinology practiced on the Court itself, and that’s usually a rather feckless thing to do. We’ll just have to wait to see if there was some horse trading on the Obamacare decision. It shouldn’t be long.
My old editor Paul Schindler is coming over for a hike and due in a few minutes so I’ll post this and the account I wrote about scanpst for now. More on other stuff later.
Windows 7 search sucks.
One reason I continue to use Windows 7 rather than convert everything to a Mac is that I do like Microsoft Office, in large part because after this many years, books, columns mail, blogs, taxes, and the rest I’m pretty well used to it, and I’ve got past going off exploring new computer stuff just for the fun of it.
One program I use is Outlook, which over the years has evolved into something that works pretty well, particularly in my case. I get about 1,600 spam messages a day. My ISP catches about half of them. Outlook junk mail filters catch another 200. I have crafted a set of rules that get a lot more. My problem is that I need to see press releases – some of them – and spammers have become clever about sanding larger and larger clocks of plain text from Shakespeare or other legitimate sources to swamp the spam filters, and they still get through, — which wouldn’t be so bad if they didn’t send a dozen or so of the same message. Every day. Anyway, for good or ill, I am stuck with Outlook, and Outlook uses pst files which grow ever larger and larger.
Eventually a pst file will be interrupted in some way and become corrupt, and the next time you run Outlook you will be told to run scanpst.exe. Since scanpst.exe is always installed with office that ought to be easy, and it would be if I left Office in the place where Microsoft puts it, but for good reasons I keep Outlook in a root directory called C:\Outlook. Recently I got the “run scanpst.exe” message – and I couldn’t find scanpst anywhere. I mentioned this in the blog, and thanks to readers I can now find it, but it makes for an interesting story.
I found C:\Programfiles(x86)\Microsoftoffice\office12\scanpst.exe, thanks to readers. It’s there, but Windows 7 search doesn’t find it. Even an extended search. Interestingly, when I did Search on this machine, it found plenty of documents that referenced scanpst.exe, but no such program: however, when I did an extended search to “Computer” which includes searches of mapped drives on networked machines, search found scanpst.exe all right – on another machine, Emily. Meanwhile search on Emily fails to find scanpst.exe.
Windows 7 has a very fast search system in the sense that if it’s going to find something it finds it pretty fast. It does that by building indices in background. But the search isn’t thorough, it’s hard to use if it doesn’t find something instantly, and in general it sucks compared to the Search program Windows had from at least windows 95 through Windows XP. One wonders if Microsoft programmers use their own operating system, or if they have some secret egrep function they can run? Because this Windows 7 search system sucks dead bunnies.
I also experimented with opening a command window and trying to run scanpst. It cannot find the file. Try cd\ to get to the root. Run scanpst. Can’t find it. Work my way down the directories, cd Program Files (x86) and run scanpst. Can’t find it. Eventually I get to C:\Programfiles(x86)\Microsoftoffice\office12 and try to run scanpst, and LO! it works. Clearly I need to play with the registry to add that to the path to be searched for commands, and clearly I don’t care enough to do that. I’ll live with this, but Microsoft really should pay some attention to the current search function. The simplest think it could do is add the old Search we all got used to. The new system is fine but sometimes we really need to find something that the current search doesn’t believe in.
Regarding that Office12, that’s Office 2007. If you have Office 2010 that will be in the Office14 directory. Windows 7 is really easy to use except that it isn’t, sometimes. Just like the Mac OS, but with Mac you can, as a last resort, get to a command window with real like UNIX and egrep. And I wonder if the Microsoft programmers don’t have some secret method of doing that since they clearly don’t use the standard Windows 7 search. And so far none of this is fixed in any version of Windows 8 I have seen, but it’s very early days on that.
Windows 7 search
It is a little irritating when the search indices don’t yield desired results. Command prompt and a very old DOS command still works well. Result close to instantaneous when run on my heavily abused laptop.
C:\>dir /s scanpst.exe
Volume in drive C has no label.
Volume Serial Number is AEE1-B8B9
Directory of C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office15
04/08/2012 03:16 PM 40,088 SCANPST.EXE
1 File(s) 40,088 bytes
Which works just fine, and I had forgotten although I knew this at one time. Thanks!
View 630 Tuesday, June 26, 2012
The Supreme Court has upheld a fundamental right of Arizona to enforce Federal law on immigration, while holding that the making of that policy is the province of Congress. Arizona can’t make it a crime to hold a job if you are an illegal alien. It can ask your immigration status if you come to the attention of police by some other means. This is hard to quarrel with.
The Administration, in a fit of pique, is trying to criminalize Arizona’s enforcement of the law, and has set up hot lines for denouncing law enforcement officers. I wonder how long it will take the Tea Party to start looking for Federal officers to denounce. This weapon has more than one edge.
Meanwhile, Arizona no longer has any effective control of its borders according to the President. The Emperor spoke in haste, and will probably repent at some point. We can look for more interesting developments in Arizona and along its borders. We can also wonder what effect this will have on the legal immigrants who went through the rather onerous requirements to come here. Some of them have citizenship, won by hard work and dedication. Will they be inclined to vote for those who say that all that hard work and dedication was a waste of time? Not all immigrants can vote. although the President doesn’t seem entirely aware of that.
And the Decision on ObamaCare is coming soon.
The Things Decided at Vicksburg
"And the Supreme Court has spoken with an odd voice, claiming that the Constitution puts limits on the States that had Virginia understood would be a consequence of the Union, neither Virginia nor the Carolinas would have joined the Union. There would be no United States had the original signers understood that they were giving up some of the most basic fundamentals of sovereignty."
I submit that Ole "Honest Abe" and some 600,000 American casualties ended real state sovereignty some 150 years ago…except of course when part of Virginia seceded from its parent. The primary role of states now appears to be the implementation of unfunded federal mandates.
Had they realized in time joining the United States was a "one state, one vote, one time" choice several states would have chosen differently.
This raises a point that requires comment. Whether or not it was the intention of the writer, it says that the key question of the nature of the Union is over, having been settled by force of arms, and those who do not approve of the current distribution of power between Washington and the States should – what? Stop talking about it. Accept it. Or, if they are unhappy, plot bloody revolution? Neither seems an effective course of action. Nor does organizing a new secession movement seem very attractive.
Moreover, it assumes the very disputable notion that the issue was settled once and for all by Appomattox, and from then on we have had a uniform movement toward nationalism and away from transparency and subsidiarity; that we are doomed to stay on that road.
It isn’t true, of course. The impeachment of Andrew Johnson failed of conviction: even the Reconstruction Senate recoiled from that. And then came the Hayes Tilden election , in which Reconstruction was ended on condition that the Republican candidate became President, while Bedford Forrest disbanded the Klan. And even during the depths of the Great Depression followed by World War II many Federal schemes failed. There remains a legal tradition in the United States for strict construction of the Constitution. That tradition isn’t so apparent among Harvard Law graduates, but it exists.
But leave all that: the key question is , why concede that the question is settled? A lot of people don’t think so; and the recent history of the United States provides considerable evidence that even on the theory of a “living Constitution” to be interpreted along pragmatic lines, centralization doesn’t work very well. The very phrase “transparency and subsidiarity” as the guiding principle of government is not mine, but that of Jane Jacobs, hardly a conservative firebrand. On purely liberal pragmatic grounds, the evidence shows that centralization is not always the answer to social problems, and often is the cause of some of the worst of them. Yes, some decisions need to be national – but not all of them, and that is becoming pragmatically clear. It is, for instance, abundantly clear that Roe v. Wade was a drastic error on pragmatic grounds, and the proper way to deal with abortion rights was to leave it to the states. That has also the great merit of being the obvious constitutional course: abortion is not mentioned in the Constitution and it was illegal in every state that adopted the Constitution at the time that state entered the Union. There has been no Amendment to change that. What gives the federal government power over the question? And on pragmatic grounds this has been terribly divisive.
Appomattox settled some things. The Civil War Amendments were adopted and became part of the Constitution. Slavery was abolished, and good riddance. The Bill of Rights was, sort of, almost, incorporated into a national Bill of Rights to be applied to the States as well as to the Federal government, which was stable for generations until the Warren Court went mad in discovering fresh new rights in emanations and penumbras. The Warren Court decisions were mostly wrong. Some are irrevocable but not all. And the makeup of the Court is controlled by the President and 60 Senators. Ted Kennedy was able to Bork Judge Bork, and the Democrats have made the court appointments almost purely political, but that blood sport is not part of constitutional law. None of this is universally approved, and none of that is irreversible.
I do not concede that the key question — can a nation be a world power and remain a constitutional republic rather than become an empire – was settled by Reconstruction. I do not believe that it is wrong to remind the courts of that. And I do believe that it is vital that the friends of liberty not give up.
I am closing some Firefox tabs that I’ve kept open as reminders but which I probably won’t get to. This is a mixed bag, and not all of it will be of interest to all readers here, but some may be worth your time.
There is a long bit on McNamara and the Strategy of Technology http://nextbigfuture.com/2012/05/where-did-future-go-strategy-of.html which will be worth the attention of those interested in those subjects.
http://www.jerrypournelle.com/reports/jerryp/UFO.html is my view on flying saucers and UFO’s.
On D D Harriman and the space program: http://www.thespacereview.com/article/951/1
And a review of A Step Farther Out http://www.fourmilab.ch/fourmilog/archives/2012-06/001380.html
View 730 Monday, June 25, 2012
We’re back from the beach a bit early. It has taken me a couple of hours to straighten out Outlook. My practice has been to copy the pst files onto my laptop, run outlook while I am on the road, and when I come back copy the pst files back to my main machine. I make intermediate backup copies. This time the outlook.pst file has gotten swollen, and had a bunch of stuff in that, and needed doing an archive job on it as well as compacting.
I also discovered that I no longer have the scanpst.exe file that is supposed to come with every copy of Outlook, and indeed it doesn’t seem to be anywhere on my system. I could be wrong, but I sure can’t find it. I can recall outlook telling me it didn’t want to open and had to scan the pst file; this time it didn’t want to open, and told me to run scanpst.exe, only I couldn’t find it. I managed to get past this, but in doing it I may have lost about a couple of hour’s mail sent this afternoon: if you sent me anything important on Monday from about 10 AM to 3 PM, send it again, please. And if you know what happened to the Microsoft tools that are supposed to work on this, please tell me that.
I did discover that you can Google scanpst.exe and find all kinds of “free downloads” that turn out to run just fine – except that to save the work they did they want a hundred dollars or more. They are not from Microsoft. And the sites that used to feature scanpst.exe no longer function. There are other substitutes for the Microsoft programs. None tell you up front what they cost. And mucking about with pst files is a hacker’s dream anyway – if they’ll fool you with what it’s going to cost, whatever else will they do? As usual I pulled the Ethernet plug on the computer before trying to run the ‘free’ downloaded scan program, and did a hefty scan of the computer after deleting the pesky program after I found out it wanted lots of money. At some point I need to look into this situation. I haven’t looked very hard for stories on this, but I think there is one here somewhere. Outlook is an important program, PST files get themselves corrupted all to frequently, and the reconstruction tools used to be built into the kit that comes with Outlook. Now I begin to wonder. There was a time when I’d have been on top of this story, and I feel a bit of the old curiosity coming back.
Anyway I did manage to get Outlook running smoothly, completely delete all the trash I could find, run an archive utility, and then run the file compacting tool. Should have done all that long ago.
It’s late. A lot is happening in the world. Election in Egypt – with both President Obama and Secretary Clinton urging the Egyptian Mamelukes, who claim to be successors to Ataturk, preserving the secular nature of Egypt from the clerics – that is, they want Egypt to remain at peace with Israel, and not to impose Sharia law, and while they’re more corrupt than Ataturk’s immediate followers were, they have some of the same ideals — Obama and Clinton want them to step down and bow to the Muslim Brotherhood candidate who very likely did win the election.
Constitutional democracy is not the same thing as plebiscitary democracy, which you would expect even a junior professor of constitutional law to know. Or someone in the State Department for that matter.
Anyway, I have thoughts on this that need organizing.
And the Supreme Court has spoken with an odd voice, claiming that the Constitution puts limits on the States that had Virginia understood would be a consequence of the Union, neither Virginia nor the Carolinas would have joined the Union. There would be no United States had the original signers understood that they were giving up some of the most basic fundamentals of sovereignty.
And we are told that Thursday may be decision day for Obama care. Quite a week.
But it’s late and I need to get to bed.
I have an inquiry for advice on writing. I plan one day to revise this, but the essay How To Get My Job http://www.jerrypournelle.com/slowchange/myjob.html is still valid, and as good as I have right now.
View 689 Saturday, June 23, 2012
I am down at the beach and on dialup. All is well, and there is interesting mail, which I can keep up with.
I am working on the Executive Privilege matter. I am of course aware of Rush Limbaugh’s hypothesis, which is that Fast and Furious was a White House originated scheme to assault the Second Amendment by allowing a lot of American guns to get in the hands of the drug cartels, allowing the US to pledge to Mexico that we would stop this and thus give the President an International Emergency to work off of. I can even see how it might have come about from a casual remark – the solution to the Mexican cartels is to fence them in and throw guns and ammunition over the fence. That’ll fix ‘em. If you have enough enemies sometimes things work out better than you thought. Etc.
And a recent correspondent suggests that
It’s precisely the kind of thinking exhibited by Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn, whom I believe either came up with the idea or inspired it amongst Obama’s Chicagoite underlings. And that’s what I think Obama is trying to hide.
That might explain why the President is so desperate: it’s a stupid scheme, it’s an act of contempt for Mexico, It’s an assault on the Mexican people who are the ones who paid most of the price in blood – those are factors, but the deciding factor is that Ayers and Dorn are not only still close friends of the President, but involved in policy – and stupid enough to let their names be in documents that cannot be destroyed. I am not sure I accept that, but it is one possible reason why the stakes are so high that the President will invest a lot of his rapidly falling political capital in taking ownership of Fast and Furious.
More another time. It’s late. Good night.
Mail 689 Saturday, June 23, 2012
I am down at the beach and on dialup, so this will be mostly short shrift…
James Lovelock – now he says that doomsday predictions, including his own (and Al Gore’s) were incorrect.
The godfather of global warming lowers the boom on climate change hysteria
This is an important defection from the Warming Alarmists. Lawrence has a lot of followers. And we have:
Amazing, NASA talks climate change and does not mention anything man made about it.
EPA blasted for requiring oil refiners to add type of fuel that’s merely hypothetical buffy willow
Subject: EPA blasted for requiring oil refiners to add type of fuel that’s merely hypothetical
Federal regulations can be maddening, but none more so than a current one that demands oil refiners use millions of gallons of a substance, cellulosic ethanol, that does not exist.
Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2012/06/21/regulation-requires-oil-refiners-use-millions-gallons-fuel-that-is-nonexistent/#ixzz1yWwmCgVU <http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2012/06/21/regulation-requires-oil-refiners-use-millions-gallons-fuel-that-is-nonexistent/#ixzz1yWwmCgVU>
Right up there with bunny inspectors on usefulness. I love this president’s promise to use a laser-like focus on the budget to eliminate all needless costs. He’ll get at it Real Soon Now.
Climate change 4,000 years ago…
And to think it all happened without burning massive amounts of fossil fuel to power electricity generation and transportation vehicles!
The Earth was once an ice ball, and once it had so many dinosaurs that their fossils provide all that oil and none of it with DNA contaminants assuming you believe that theory. And all that happened without human activity. We do not understand climate, we do not understand El Nino and La Nina, we really don’t know how to construct a reliable average temperature for some arbitrarily large area, but we are supposed to bet trillions on academic bureaucrats. And we never catch wise.
" There is currently no HTTP status code to indicate you can’t access
content because it’s been prohibited by a government agency. Tim Bray, a Google engineer, has proposed the status code “451,” in honor of the recently deceased author of Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury, for use when an ISP is ordered by the government to deny access to a certain website.
Cute, though not consistent with the current error-numbering scheme."
Sad to think we might actually need such a status code, but clearly that’s the way we are trending, domestically and internationally.
Indeed. And it’s a good idea.
I was wondering when people would start to think about this. I could get into the types of distance involved in killing; I recommend reading of LTC Grossman’s work on the subject. It is most interesting; I will save you my words on the matter. But, I will offer words related to the present conditions.
People are starting to see past the mechanical distance offered by the drones. Mechanical distance makes it easier to kill. A person looks different through a thermal imaging scope than the do at the sexual range. Physical distance also makes it easier to kill; one can more easily kill someone with a bayonet than a knife or with one’s bare hands, for example.
But, what is the difference between using drones and sending a man into a village with a gun, telling him to kill certain people who have not been convicted of any crime and telling that man that it’s okay if he accidentally kills people who aren’t on the list but might be sitting next to the people he’s shooting at? The difference is, primarily, in method and in mechanical application.
As much as I do not want the United Nations having any say in anything we do, I cannot deny the validity of U.N. concerns about the drone strikes — in principle:
A UN investigator has called on the Obama administration to explain under what legal framework its drone war is justified and suggested that “war crimes” may have already been committed.
Christof Heyns, UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, urged Washington to clarify the basis under international law of the policy, in a report issued to the United Nations Human Rights Council.
It will be interesting to see what comes of this. Certainly, the concerns are valid and people in this country should be discussing this, but — like everything else — we just ignore it until it becomes severe crisis and then we overreact to it and wonder why we are met with consequences we did not expect and wonder why we can’t aptly deal with the same. It wasn’t always like this, but since the Boomers took over it has been par for the course.
Joshua Jordan, KSC
There was a time when Great Powers claimed a customary international right to bombard the ports of smaller Powers who owed them money and refused to pay, kidnapped their citizens, or otherwise offended them. They could blockade, or they could simply bombard. They could also issue letters of marque and reprisal to private warships.
It is not clear how drones fit into this sort of thing. The customary boundary of a nation extended to sea about the lengthof a long cannon shot on the grounds that this is what nations could control. When the custom began this was a 3 mile limit, but it grew and grew as connon got better. Now the ICBM has made that a bit obsolete as a basis for boundary determination. The drones follow the ICBM – and any nation can afford drones although all cannot afford ICBM’s.
I believe that the letter you posted titled "The Mess" is absolutely correct in pointing to the arrival of the Pelosi-Reid Congress in January 2007 as the actual start of the current fiscal death-dive.
George W. Bush did a number of things I wasn’t happy with, but blaming our current budget mess on him is tendentious partisan nonsense. I’ve tried to make this point publicly myself a number of times in the last few years, but till now nobody seemed interested. Thanks for the
(hoped-for) loan of your soapbox.
Proving this point, now, that gets interesting. Do an image search on "us budget deficit by year" and you’ll run into an astonishing variety of charts claiming to "prove" that one party or the other is at fault.
Just about all of these (on both sides) are misleading, for reasons ranging from oversimplification through honest confusion to outright mendacity. What can a poor boy do? I recommend a strong cup of whatever best keeps your eyes from glazing over, then a walk with me through some background.
Power Over Federal Spending
It may come as a shock to some – spending is routinely blamed on whoever happens to be President that year – but Congress has far more control over how much gets spent in any given year than all but the strongest Presidents. Blaming spending primarily on Presidents is simplistic and misleading.
LBJ at his peak had appreciable say. George W. Bush in his last few years pretty much signed the spending bills Congress sent him. Most Presidents end up doing the same – the veto is a blunt instrument, very hard to wield effectively, and the bully pulpit isn’t all that bully when a President’s popularity has faded.
Timing Of Federal Spending
There’s close to a year’s lag (two years nominal lag) between a new Congress getting elected and its first new budget taking effect.
The key example: The Democrats won back majority control of both House and Senate in November 2006, then took office in January 2007. Did this give them control of the 2007 budget? No. Federal Fiscal Year 2007
(FY’07) had already started back on October 1st 2006, so the FY’07 budget had already been decided by the previous Republican Congress. The new Democratic Congress’s first budget was FY’08, starting October 1st
2007 – eleven actual months (and two nominal years) after they were elected in 2006.
Take a look at the chart at
http://www.heritage.org/federalbudget/current-tax-receipts. (Pull it up in a separate window if you can.) Federal tax revenues have been amazingly constant at right around 18% of GDP since WW II ended in 1945.
They peaked at over 20% just twice (in 1944/45 under wartime taxes, then in 2000 at the height of the dot-com boom) and dropped as low as 15% just twice (for two years in 1949/50, and now for four years in
2009/10/11/12) but always previously returned to the 18% average. This despite huge variations in nominal tax rates since WW II.
The current revenue dip is due to some (hotly debated) mix of the
2001-2003 "Bush tax cuts" and the ongoing economic downturn. Note in that regard that this graph shows that historically revenue dips correspond closely to recessions (see
but that revenue always returns to the 18% average. Always, including under those very same "Bush tax cut" rates – federal revenue had climbed back to 18.5% of GDP by ’07. (Always, until now. More on that in a bit.) 18% of GDP looks remarkably like some sort of practical tax-rate-independent structural limit on Federal revenue in the modern US economy – at least when it’s healthy.
OK, pull up the chart at
(I’d give a pointer to just the raw chart, but the "Comments"
guidelines are priceless, and some of the comments are pretty good too.)
The key thing to note here is that since the early 1930s, various wartime peaks and post-war dips notwithstanding, the overall trend has been for spending as a fraction of GDP to ratchet upwards. (It’s also interesting that by standards of the Republic’s first 140 years, we’ve been spending on a war footing since the 1930′s, but that’s another essay.)
From the fifties through the seventies, spending was only modestly (in
hindsight) above that 18%-of-GDP post-WWII revenue average. National debt reached a trillion dollars total toward the end of this period.
for a year-by-year national debt chart.)
In the eighties, we had a Cold War to finally win, and borrowing was easier than opening a second battle front to cut domestic budgets.
Spending rose to 22%-23% of GDP, and the national debt piled up to almost $4 trillion by the time the USSR disintegrated.
Then in the nineties, the Cold War was over and spending as a fraction of GDP fell – slowly. Spending didn’t drop back down anywhere near the 18% long-term revenue average until the end of the decade. Combined with the dot-com revenue boom this was enough to produce a few years of small surpluses, and a momentary leveling-off of the national debt at just under $6 trillion.
Then, on top of the 2001 dot-bomb recession, came 9/11. Spending rose for the next several years, peaking at 20.1% of GDP in 2006, then in
2007 falling back to 19.6% of GDP – you can just barely see the 2007 downblip on the chart. (For precise year-by-year numbers see
Lies, Damned Lies, And Deficit Blame
Yes, in countering the combined dot-bomb and 9/11 recession and fighting the Afghan and Iraq wars, George W. Bush and the Republican Congress were responsible for a series of deficits from FY’02 through FY’07 that ran the national debt up another 50% to $9 trillion. It is arguable whether they actually needed to spend that much – it certainly wasn’t an improvement in our fiscal position – but it is not what set us on our current fiscal death-dive.
Take a look at the deficits-by-year chart at http://wac.0873.edgecastcdn.net/800873/blog/wp-content/uploads/edwards8-2-11.jpg.
Those Bush deficits peaked at $413 billion in FY’04, and after that declined again every year, down to $161 billion in FY’07. That Republican Congress’s last budget, FY’07, increased only 2.8% over FY’06. Deficits were dropping fast, and the total debt at about 2/3rds of GDP was not great, but still manageable.
Then in January 2007, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid took over control of the Congress. I won’t try to prove the assertion in "The Mess" that Barney "Fannie Mae" Frank and Chris "Friend of Angelo" Dodd taking over the financial oversight committees caused the financial markets to implode 20 months later, but it didn’t help. Nor was the new Congress’s first full budget (FY’08) a confidence-builder, with a 9.3% increase over ’07 producing a big new upwards jump on our deficits-by-year chart, at $459 billion almost tripling the previous year’s mark.
Then came FY ’09, with a fiscal crisis that couldn’t be allowed to go to waste, a lame-duck Bush who went along with whatever the Pelosi-Reid Congress wanted during the heart of the crisis, then a triumphant Obama inclined to spend even more. The ’09 budget rose 17.9% on top of the previous year’s 9.3% (a 29% total increase since ’07), the deficit tripled for the second year straight to $1.413 trillion, and overall Federal spending hit 25.2% of GDP – a level we’d NEVER seen before outside of WW II.
And that’s pretty much where we’ve been ever since. It seems quite likely to me that raising spending from 2007′s 19.6% of GDP to 2009′s 25.2% of GDP (unprecedented outside WW II) and keeping it there ever since has a great deal to do with the economic stagnation that’s keeping tax revenues down around 15% of GDP (and unemployment/underemployment up around 15% of the workforce) for far longer than in any other post-WWII recovery. But what do I know? Lay me end-to-end and you still won’t reach an economist – I just read a lot, and think a bit.
Whatever the reasons for the crippled recovery, the fiscal hole we’re in now was dug by Pelosi, Reid, and Obama. The "level Obama budgets" they recently tried to brag about are all at the ruinous 25%-of-GDP level they set with those 9% then 18% (29% overall) increases. They may still be responsible for less than half of the total current national debt, but that’s only because their effective tripling of the annual deficit from the (already too high, yes) average of the Bush-Republican years has only had a few years to work. It’s the tripling of the rate at which they’re digging the hole deeper that’s deadly.
Worse, they believe (as a matter of "fairness") that this 25%-of-GDP level of spending is the way it should be permanently, never mind the utter lack of precedent and all the indications it’s crippling the recovery. They’re fighting with everything they’ve got to build it permanently into the structure of government.
Bottom line, "Bush did it" is patent nonsense, a blatant attempt to fool enough voters to give them another four years to dig the hole we’re in so deep that we’ll never get out.
The experiment of raising federal spending to 25% of GDP has obviously failed. Myself, I’d love to see lowering it to 15% of GDP experimented with. I suspect the result would be spectacular growth. But realistically, I’d be satisfied to see federal spending drop below 20% of GDP before the next Presidential term is over – that would at least give us a chance of surviving as a recognizable descendant of the country I grew up in.
if you print this, sign me
It is well to remind people of the historical facts once in a while. The Republicans after Gingrich spent wildly, but nothing like what the Democrats did when they got hold of the purse strings. Surprise.
Comments on Mail 729
Re: copyright inertia: Mike Powers only sort of gets it. When he says <i>It’s like a fence. We all know what a fence means, and that acting to circumvent the access control implied by a fence is Not Allowed</i>, he’s describing the way the law ought to be, but isn’t.
IP rights <b>ought</b> to be "like a fence" in a lot of ways that they actually aren’t. (1) The rights an author or publisher holds ought to be well defined and never change (Congress seems to extend them every few years, sometimes to please Hollywood, sometimes to create jobs for lawyers and copyright trolls). (2) Reasonable uses such as copying your records to digital format aren’t allowed, or at least Hollywood lawyers will come after you for them and try to extort you as if they were not allowed. And (3), DRM too often extends to "protecting" non-rights the publisher only wishes he had (such as making you view a long commercial every time you load your DVD of a Disney movie).
Because these things are true, both the hardware and software "fences" of DRM and the virtual "fence" of copyright law actually enclose so much territory the fence builder doesn’t rightfully own that no one respects them.
All laws should be simple, well defined ("bright line rules") and above all fair. Make them so, and all but a tiny minority will obey. Make them vague and unfair, and not only will people disobey en masse but juries will stop convicting. Needing, or trusting, lawyers to explain the law to us belongs on the scrap-heap of history alongside needing priests to read the Bible to us (before it was printed in languages other than Latin).
Re: taxpayer’s union: I believe the intended reference is to the National Taxpayers’ Union (ntu.org), a group which has been around since the Nixon administration and rates the members of Congress before every election according to their votes on spending bills. It’s not a perfect rating system (and not a perfect group either — they refused ever to criticize Reagan even though he increased spending by record amounts, just as has every president since Nixon), but if you want federal spending to be cut back (or even to stop increasing) it’s a good place to start.
Another good group is ClubForGrowth.org, which wants not only less government but also less unnecessary regulation, especially the environmental sort. They also publish ratings, both of Congress and of presidential candidates.
John David Galt
I have supported the Club for Growth since its inception, but not slavishly. I do pay attention to their recommendations.
: STEEEEE-rike – TWOOOOOOO!
Cheap energy = prosperity!
Drill here, DRILL NOW!
Colonel, U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, Retired.; Former Governor of Wasit Province, Iraq; Righter of Wrongs; Wrong most of the time; Distinguished Expert, TV remote control; Chef de Hot Dog Excellance; Avoider of Yard Work
We can hope.
Russia looks to microsatellites for science and shipping buffy willow
Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/06/19/russia_plans_microsatellites/
Russia looks to microsatellites for science and shipping
Like Sputnik, only better
By Richard Chirgwin <http://forms.theregister.co.uk/mail_author/?story_url=/2012/06/19/russia_plans_microsatellites/>
Posted in Space <http://www.theregister.co.uk/science/space/> , 19th June 2012 23:51 GMT <http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/06/19/>
Russia is showing interest in the growing push to design and launch microsatellites, according to Voice of Russia.
The news site says <http://english.ruvr.ru/2012_06_14/78115896/>  Russia’s Space Systems Company hopes that microsats – satellites which, like its original Sputnik, weigh less than 100kg but are much more capable – can gather data to help predict natural disasters and monitor shipping movements.
The company’s head, Yuri Urlichich, is quoted by Voice of Russia as claiming that RSSC detected a surge in free electrons in the ionosphere, seven hours ahead of last year’s disastrous Japan earthquake. He suggests that microsatellites would be a better way of collecting such data than trying to establish earth-bound monitoring stations to try and predict earthquakes.
The other application identified by Urlichich is to identify ships in proximity to each other, to make passage of narrow straits easier and safer.
Microsatellites – satellites weighing less than 100kg – are attracting increasing attention as shrinking and lower-power electronics reduces the bulk of systems that satellites have to carry. They bring their own challenges, however, since their small size reduces the availability of the fuel needed for maneuvers to keep the satellite on-station.
That hasn’t stopped growing international interest in applications of microsatellites, since at 100kg or less, they’re much cheaper to send to space than satellites weighing tons. For example, a microsatellite system is proposed <http://antarcticbroadband.com/>  as a solution to the looming bandwidth crunch in the Antarctic, with increasing scientific activity generating more data just as the ageing satellites now serving the frozen continent approaching their end of life.
Subj: Best movie of 2012: Act of Valor
OK, I’ll byte: here’s an alternative to _The Avengers_:
Air and space museum
Place has developed a liberal bent. Instead of technical descriptions of rockets, there is now social commentary on the cold war. Just wasted 18 bucks watching "dynamic earth" a global warming propaganda piece that try’s to tell the audience we will end like Venus if we don’t curb man made carbon emissions.
I am sorry but not surprised to hear this.
Student Loan Bailout
The United States government is bailing out banks that meet certain conditions with certain students:
(1) The student must have at least one loan with the Department of Education.
(2) The student must have other loans with banks; these loans must have been used for education or related expenses.
The terms are, financially, a small break for students:
(1) The student receives .25% reduction in interest rates when consolidating the loans.
(2) The student may sign up for an automatic, montly debit and recieve another .25% reduction in interest rates.
The terms, financially, for the banks are even better:
(1) No more financial liabilities.
I suppose this would also leave students the mercy of Department of Education SWAT teams, but — since they already had a loan with that department — they were already at the mercy of said teams anyway. A fifty basis point reduction on interest rates is a welcome development for anyone with a loan. It seems like a good deal for students and a better deal for banks. I was in contact with someone who works at Sallie Mae and got the information from her.
Joshua Jordan, KSC
A cheap way to buy votes with other people’s money. Look for more of this.
View 729 Thursday, June 21, 2012
I am down at the Beach House. Sable is home with the house sitters, and gets two walks a day so while she misses us she has mixed emotions about the whole situation. Anyway all is well here and there.
Except that I am on dialup. I have the AT&T wireless gadget and my ThinkPad knows how to use it. It takes me to a place where I can prepay for some high speed time. My ThinkPad remembers my user name and password. AT&T doesn’t. It’s still The Phone Company. Tomorrow I will go over to the AT&T store and buy some high speed time, or maybe I won’t. Dialup works, and it probably won’t hurt me to see what those still stuck with dialup have to go through. My site uploads in under two minutes, which isn’t all that awful.
Windows LiveWriter doesn’t know about my site. Well, it does, and presumably it is going to post this, but what it knows about is the last thing I used this machine to post something with. That was months ago. I am offered no chance to go out to the site and bring in the last thing I put up there. This is annoying.
I am now going to post this to see if it works. If it does, and I have no reason to suppose it won’t, then I’ll do some work on Executive Privilege. I’ll also look at speculations on just what they are so afraid of with Fast and Furious. For some reason the President is willing to take ownership of a fouled up operation that he asserted, and everyone believed him, that he had no knowledge of until it hit the newspapers. Something happened in their coverup attempts; something in one of those documents that is so horrible that the President can’t have it come out. What that could be is hard to discern. It is interesting to speculate. Anyway, I am off to test this.
I’m still on dialup, although I suspect I could fathom the AT&T thing if I had to. But actually dialup isn’t all that awful, oddly enough. I am not going to download any video, of course.
The trickiest part of this operation was figuring out how to get Livewriter to update the list of “recent posts”. That requires going to the open recent post item, ignoring the popup stuff that appears when you hold the mouse on it, and clicking on the open recent posts thing, then when that opens a dialog selecting the site name. It’s obvious from there. Thanks to Rick Hellewell for having the patience to explain it to me. Three times.
The news is full of the President’s invocation of Executive Privilege to protect someone in his Justice Department from being found out by Congress. For the President to invoke that privilege the President has to say that something in this involves him; Executive Privilege does not work to protect malfeasance or incompetence form being exposed. It has to say that the Office of the Presidency would somehow be at risk if the documents became public. If for example there were a document naming a specific person to be assassinated as part of the operation, or something embarrassing a foreign head of state, or a CIA contact in Mexico – we can speculate endlessly. But there is no evidence that any such thing happened. It’s more likely that one of the Chicago White House staff got involved in covering up Fast and Furious – which is itself embarrassing – and wrote things he/she should never have written, and — well, that’s speculation too. But whatever happened, the President doesn’t want to throw the staffer under the bus, and has been willing to own Fast and Furious as if it were his operation; which, I would have thought, would be more embarrassing than anything else could be.
Eventually it will all come out. It always does in these high technology days. The Three Musketeers can’t bring the Queen’s Necklace just in time to save things… It will come out, and I for one will be curious as to just what was so important that it required Executive Privilege to protect. And also exposing the President’s lack of knowledge about the constitutional issue here.
Mail 729 Wednesday, June 20, 2012
We’re off for a couple of days so things will be erratic.
Query to those who are familiar with Livewriter: My ThinkPad has livewriter on it, and it works, and I know the passwords, and it will go out and get ‘recent’ posts – but of course recent to the ThinkPad is the last time we used it to post something. It has no belief that I have done anything since. FrontPage kept a local copy of everything so this was never a problem, but Livewriter doesn’t seem to have any way I can tell it to go get the most recent post if that was posted by another machine. A quick Google on the problem shows others have it too but I found no solution. How do you use Livewriter if you use more than one computer?
Maybe this machine has a file of the latest blog titles and I can send that to my ThinkPad? Or is there a way to type the daily title in? Or what? Please don’t send mail speculating. If you don’t know, I won’t have time to check out guesses. But I’d sure like to know.
And thanks to Rick Hellewell I know. You must click the nameless button on the upper left; mouse to the open recent posts item, but ignore what pops up when yhou hold the mouse over it; and CLICK on the open recent posts item. That will open a dialog that lets you click on the site name and refresh it. There’s even a counter for how far back you want to so, default at 50 but if you are on dialup it’s better to choose 20. And LO! Here we are. This is obviously a revision of the original. So it can be done and it is even rather logical once you think of it, but the convenient popup when you mouse the item confused me into not clicking on it. Ah well. My thanks to Rick for his patience. It took me about 4 tries to figure this out.
Attorney General and attorney client privilege
John Dean’s article on president and government lawyer attorney client privilege.
Bush Needs An Outside Attorney To Maintain Attorney-Client Privilege
Readers may wonder, why is Bush going to an outside counsel, when numerous government attorneys are available to him – for instance, in the White House Counsel’s Office <http://pview.findlaw.com/view/1505800_1> ?
The answer is that the President has likely been told it would be risky to talk to his White House lawyers, particularly if he knows more than he claims publicly.
Ironically, it was the fair-haired Republican stalwart Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr who decimated the attorney-client privilege for government lawyers and their clients – which, to paraphrase the authority Wigmore, applies when legal advice of any kind is sought by a client from a professional legal adviser, where the advice is sought in confidence.
The reason the privilege was created was to insure open and candid discussion between a lawyer and his or her client. It traditionally applied in both civil and criminal situations for government lawyers, just as it did for non-government lawyers. It applied to written records of communications, such as attorney’s notes, as well as to the communications themselves.
But Starr tried to thwart that tradition in two different cases, before two federal appeals courts. There, he contended that there should be no such privilege in criminal cases involving government lawyers.
In the first case, In re Grand Jury Subpoenas Duces Tecum <http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?navby=search&case=/data2/circs/8th/964108p.html> , former First Lady Hillary Clinton had spoken with her private counsel in the presence of White House counsel (who had made notes of the conversation). Starr wanted the notes. Hillary Clinton claimed the privilege.
A divided U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit agreed with Starr. The court held that a grand jury was entitled to the information. It also held that government officials — even when serving as attorneys — had a special obligation to provide incriminating information in their possession.
In the second case, In re Lindsey <http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?court=dc&navby=case&no=983060C> , Deputy White House Counsel Bruce Lindsey refused to testify about his knowledge of President Clinton’s relationship to Monica Lewinsky, based on attorney-client privilege. Starr sought to compel Lindsey’s testimony, and he won again.
This time, Starr persuaded the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to follow the Eighth Circuit. The court ruled that exposure of wrongdoing by government lawyers fostered democracy, as "openness in government has always been thought crucial to ensuring that the people remain in control of their government."
Based on these precedents, President Bush has almost certainly been told that the only way he can discuss his potential testimony with a lawyer is by hiring one outside the government.
Fascinating. I am no longer much of an authority on Executive Privilege, but I once taught Constitutional Law and I did have a couple of seminars on the subject – all long ago. Constitutional crises change things. Usually the change isn’t beneficial to the Republic. Hard cases make bad law.
I got this today:
Subject: Fw: The Mess (You need to read this slowly and REMEMBER WHAT YOU READ)
This tells the whole story, why Bush was so bad at the end of his term. Don’t just skim over this, it’s not long, but read it slowly and let it sink in. If in doubt, check it out!
The day the democrats took over was not January 22, 2009, it was actually January 3, 2007, the day democrats took over the House of Representatives and the Senate, at the very start of the 110th Congress. The Democrat Party controlled a majority in both chambers for the first time, since the end of the 103rd Congress in 1995.
For those who are listening to the liberals propagating the fallacy that everything is "Bush’s Fault", think about this:
January 3, 2007 was the day the Democrats took over the Senate and the Congress. At the time:
The DOW Jones closed at 12,621.77
The GDP for the previous quarter was 3.5%
The Unemployment rate was 4.6%
George Bush’s Economic policies SET A RECORD of 52 STRAIGHT MONTHS of JOB GROWTH
Remember the day…
January 3, 2007 was the day that Barney Frank took over the House Financial Services Committee and Chris Dodd
took over the Senate Banking Committee.
The economic meltdown that happened 15 months later was in what part of the economy?
BANKING AND FINANCIAL SERVICES!
Unemployment… to this CRISIS by (among MANY other things) dumping 5-6 TRILLION Dollars of toxic loans on the economy from YOUR Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac FIASCOES!
Bush asked Congress 17 TIMES to stop Fannie & Freddie – starting in 2001 because it was financially risky for the U.S. economy.
And who took the THIRD highest pay-off from Fannie Mae AND Freddie Mac? OBAMA
And who fought against reform of Fannie and Freddie? OBAMA and the Democrat Congress
So when someone tries to blame Bush – REMEMBER JANUARY 3, 2007…. THE DAY THE DEMOCRATS TOOK OVER!"
Budgets do not come from the White House. They come from Congress and the party that controlled Congress since January, 2007 is the Democratic Party.
Furthermore, the Democrats controlled the budget process for 2008 & 2009 as well as 2010 &2011. In that first year, they had to contend with George Bush, which caused them to compromise on spending, when Bush somewhat belatedly got tough on spending increases.
For 2009 though, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid bypassed George Bush entirely, passing continuing resolutions to keep government running until Barack Obama could take office. At that time, they passed a massive omnibus spending bill to complete the 2009 budgets.
And where was Barack Obama during this time? He was a member of that very Congress that passed all of these massive spending bills, and he signed the omnibus bill as President to complete 2009.
If the Democrats inherited any deficit, it was the 2007 deficit, the last of the Republican budgets. That deficit was the lowest in five years, and the fourth straight decline in deficit spending. After that, Democrats in Congress took control of spending, and that includes Barack Obama, who voted for the budgets.
If Obama inherited anything, he inherited it from himself. In a nutshell, what Obama is saying is he inherited a deficit that he voted for, and then he voted to expand that deficit four-fold since January 20.
There is no way this will be widely publicized, unless each of us sends it on!
I haven’t had a chance to chase down every detail. I do point out that after Gingrich the Republican House spent a LOT of money. Obama spent more once he got in, but the House after Gingrich went on some mad sprees. And we now owe more than a year’s GDP. That cannot be good.
When you are deep in a hole, rather than argue as to how you got there and whose fault it is, the first thing would appear to be to stop digging.
Best Movie of 2012, so far.
Best Movie of 2012, so far.
"Serious" critics, and many who saw it and enjoyed the hell out it, may consider this as heresy, but so be it. I’ll be vastly (but pleasantly) surprised if it’s nominated for such, but right now I’m saying that "The Avengers" is it.
Paul Gordon ( http://paulinhouston.blogspot.com/ )
"When faced with a problem you do not understand,
do any part of it you do understand; then look at it again."
(Robert A. Heinlein – "The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress")
I don’t have a better candidate.
well…. dozens any way.
You write: "There is such a thing as intellectual property, and the current legal system isn’t doing too well with it."
I suggest that the issue isn’t the legal system, but rather the users. We did not have to rewrite the laws on trespass when the bulldozer was invented.
The issue, I think, is that despite our claims of American freedom and individuality, we’re used to the paradigm of "if you can do it then it’s legal, and if it’s legal you can do it". There’s nothing physically preventing me from making mp3 copies of the songs on a CD and then selling that CD on ebay; therefore, making copies of the songs then selling the CD must be legal. Somehow. We’re not quite sure, but if we weren’t *allowed* to do it then it wouldn’t *work*, right?
It’s like a fence. We all know what a fence means, and that acting to circumvent the access control implied by a fence is Not Allowed. Not that this means you *can’t* jump over a fence, or even that doing so would be particularly difficult. And maybe you don’t agree that the fence ought to be there at all. But nobody’s going to look at a fence and be completely unaware of the statement that fence is making about what’s on the inside of it.
And intellectual property has always had fences. Words like "copyright" and "trademark" and "all rights reserved" are what fences around intellectual property look like. The thing is, up until maybe fifteen years ago it was *hard* for the typical person to climb over those fences. And what that means is that nobody ever learned how to see the fences, or how to understand the size of them. Then when broadband started to become widespread, we all got metaphorical bulldozers and started driving them everywhere, and we started running over fences without even knowing that they *existed*, much less that we were crossing them.
What does it mean? Well, it means that people need to understand that "I can copy this without too much trouble" doesn’t mean that copying it is no big deal. It also means that, to the extent that the legal system has catching up to do, it’s going to be in the direction of *more* restriction rather than *less*–if people had started using bulldozers to smash down fences, the response would not have been to make fences illegal.
Although it’s also the case that if it’s critical to your activity that people not enter an area, then you’re likely to have more than just a knee-high fence and a "NO TRESPASSING" sign.
Mike T. Powers
I will point out that most of my books available on Amazon Kindle can be had in pirate editions by a bit of diligent searching, but my backlist sales are pretty good, and Secret of Black Ship Island has done well despite being pirated immediately on publication; we don’t need everyone to be honest, just enough good people.
Provider – Medicare
"… about an optometrist requiring a 30 page form to be submitted three times before Medicare/Medicare would accept his change of address. He goes months without getting paid for the work he has done. One presumes – but it is a presumption – that eventually he was sent the money owed him, but for months he could not get the government to note his change of address. Then he tells a story of going to a burger place and using a touch screen to order a sandwich, and says “Amazing” – as a contrast to business as usual with the government. It was a pretty good talk to a reasonable crowd. "
<GRIN> this is exactly my job at the moment… I’m the Medicare Provider Enrollment Manager (in other words, a bureaucrat) for Pinnacle Business Solutions, Inc., a Medicare contracted carrier. The doctor isn’t exaggerating, an enrollment or a change application (form CMS855), for a provider in Medicare is a 30+ page document – not to mention required attachments. AND, it must be newly and fully completed EACH time a change (address, bank, owner, etc) is done. The provider is, as well, required to revalidate (i.e. submit a complete, new, application) every 5 years, even if nothing has changed! However; the document is not difficult, instructions are complete and on the document itself. Additionally, the provider can elect to access the document online via the CMS (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services) website and be prompted throughout the process. Before we go off into Pournelle’s Iron Law of Bureaucracy, I can attest the application and process is as simple as possible to comply with law mandated by Congress (I do remember a time when the application was only a 2 page process). BUT, Congress, in its wisdom and fear and promises to cut fraud, has made the process onerous, capricious and punishing on well-meaning, lawful providers. Furthermore, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare), further complicates this situation – it’ll get worse. I’m quite aware of many providers dropping out of Medicare or refusing to accept additional Medicare patients simply due to the onerous regulations/restrictions for participation and reimbursement. There are a seething mass of frustrated doctors out there who only want to be able to treat patients and be reasonably compensated for their labors/knowledge.
Cheap energy = prosperity!
Drill here, DRILL NOW!
As Adam Smith observed, every time two capitalist competitors meet they conspire to find a way to get government to prevent anyone else from becoming a competitor. Regulations and red tape, even if " the document is not difficult, instructions are complete and on the document itself. Additionally, the provider can elect to access the document online via the CMS" is a very good way to raise the requirements for a startup company.
Ironically, the stated purpose of Medicare administration is to INCREASE the participation of qualified providers to service the needs of Medicare beneficiaries.
ah well… indeed!
Cheap energy = prosperity!
Drill here, DRILL NOW!
Colonel, U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, Retired.; Former Governor of Wasit Province, Iraq; Righter of Wrongs; Wrong most of the time; Distinguished Expert, TV remote control; Chef de Hot Dog Excellance; Avoider of Yard Work
Subject: Maryland Library Can’t Use HP Computers – Nuclear Weapons Related
The Takoma Park, Maryland library needed new computers. New ones arrived, but they sat in storage for a while. The computers were made by HP, and HP works on nuclear weapons programs for the U.S. government. Takoma Park has been a "nuclear free" zone since 1983. Sigh.
The Takoma Park City Council voted a waiver on this allowing the use of the computers. Some wondered "about the soul of their city and if the vote signified a fundamental shift in its values."
The computers were probably made in China. Hence, (1) they have latent surveillance capability built into them, (2) come from the capitol of human rights violations, and (3) from the home of heavy metal pollution. None of that matters. What matters is that HP works on nuclear weapons (do they really?).
Comment is superfluous.
Wawa editted vs original; no ad to skip
We cannot blame Firefox for trying to make our web surfing experience better by blocking those confounded ads. I blame the advertisers themselves for constantly coming up with more annoying ways to put ads in our faces. Like your experience with an ad you have to watch before you see the content you want. Another annoying way they do it is place a small ad at the bottom and you have to search around to find the [X] or [close] to get rid of it, but that’s just how frustrating it’s gotten. By the way TV advertising is doing something like it by having ads pop up during a show but of course you have no way of killing those suckers.
Analyzing people who talk about AGW denialism
This would be amusing but its an extension of the mentality that creates bunny inspectors.
Sent to you by BobK via Google Reader:
Analyzing people who talk about AGW denialism <http://judithcurry.com/2012/06/19/analyzing-people-who-talk-about-agw-denialism/>
via Climate Etc. <http://judithcurry.com> by curryja on 6/19/12
by Judith Curry Sociologists and journalists are writing articles about understanding AGW skepticism and denialism. This latest article from Nature makes me think somebody needs to study these people who think that: Study 2 examined whether framing climate change action in … Continue reading → <http://judithcurry.com/2012/06/19/analyzing-people-who-talk-about-agw-denialism/> <http://stats.wordpress.com/b.gif?host=judithcurry.com&blog=15408089&post=8865&subd=curryja&ref=&feed=1>
You often say that we all can think of local equivalents to bunny inspectors,(http://www.jerrypournelle.com/chaosmanor/?p=1180 , [and for those that don't want a long walk down memory lane, bunny mention is 8 paragraphs down]) and just now I got to thinking about the Tax Payers’ Union. I have been vaguely aware that this group existed since I don’t know when. I am sure Paul Harvey (America’s first conservative commentator) must have mentioned them from time to time. For whatever reason I decided to take a look today, and I know your readership (is that a word?) will want to as well. http://www.ntu.org/ We don’t need to look for government waste, there is a professional organization doing it already.
Martin Lee Rose
"We have no public record of anyone, individual or organization, publishing an IDEAL Temperature of the Earth, nor do we have any criteria which could be used to establish such a temperature. Given MY choice, I would choose warmer over colder. To the extent, if any, that warmer could be expedited by increasing CO2 I would encourage it." Bob Ludwick I have waited a long time to be able to use that quote.
While looking for the most appropriate Bunny Inspectors link I came across http://www.scaleofuniverse.com/
Thanks. I am not familiar with the taxpayer’s union. It would seem to be more useful than the Welfare Recipients League, which I would think would be cheered on if it decided to go on strike…
Hi, Jerry, I’m no expert but your TV has all the symptoms of a failing join or cracked trace on the board: the cooler it is the wider the gap, which eventually "fixes" itself as everything warms up and expands to make contact once again. Back in the day it might have been worthwhile to examine everything with a magnifying glass and then do a touch-up if you found the problem, but today you’re probably stuck with just getting a new TV or living with the long warm-up.
I’m writing this on a new "Retina" display MBP, a really capable computer which to my mind completely erases the need for a 17" in the Apple line. WoW looks amazing at full resolution, and frame rates are plenty fast enough to not be objectionable. For other tasks the SSD drive, Ivy Bridge CPU, and nVidia graphics make for a pretty potent desktop replacement at under 5 pounds. Recommended if you need a portable capable of heavy lifting, otherwise probably overkill. But the screen is outstanding, going back to a normal screen now makes everything look fuzzy.
Thanks. My dying YTV had croaked, and will be replaced. I have a note from one reader that replacing some capacitors worked for his Samsung with a similar problem. Alas I am not going to try that, but I note it for the record, and perhaps I will attach a copy of some of the suggestion mail to the machine when it goes to the Good Will…
View 729 Wednesday, June 20, 2012
A House Committee has voted that the Attorney General is in contempt of Congress. The vote was along party lines, which is a pity, because the contempt is obvious and definitely indicated. This should not be a Party Lines affair. The Congress is the Grand Inquest of the Nation, and constitutionally is empowered to see that the President does indeed take care to see that the laws are faithfully enforced. There is no compelling reason for withholding the documents demanded by Congress in this matter.
To make it more interesting the President has bought into the ownership of Fast and Furious: he did so by invoking Executive Privilege in this matter, thus taking responsibility for the Attorney General’s refusal to hand over the papers. This make this contempt by the President, and a genuine Constitutional Crisis unprecedented since the Watergate breaking and Congressional subpoena of the Watergate Tapes.
That last affair ended with the resignation of a President and an unconditional pardon by his successor.
Nixon could have personally burned the Watergate Tapes, thus making it impossible for Congress to demand them. He chose not to do that, which would have precipitated an even more severe constitutional crisis.
This will be played for political points. It ought not be. The Constitution was clearly intended to allow Congress full powers of investigation, and that power is critical for constitutional government. Yes, the public has little confidence in the Congress, largely because everyone now expects grave matters like this to be voted along party lines; but is it still Congress that must decide whether public officials are covering things up.
The President is claiming Executive Privilege only for documents that came into existence after the Fast and Furious became public, and which pertain to discussions between the President and the Attorney General. This is very curious, and worth debate : is there some kind of attorney client privilege here? It’s worth debating.
But in that case, the Attorney General is still in contempt of Congress because Congress has demanded a lot more than just transcripts of personal conversations between the President and the Attorney General. To this moment no one knows who authorized Fast and Furious. Unless a Special Prosecutor is appointed we will never know – and probably not then. And it is a matter of importance, far more than the matter of who leaked Valerie Plaime’s connection to the CIA.
This affair will not end well for the Republic. The House has little choice but to declare the Attorney General to be in contempt. It then has the power to send the Sergeant at Arms to arrest the Attorney General and convey him to the warden of the District of Columbia jail to be held until purged of contempt, and proper return to any writ of habeas corpus would be just that: held by order of the House of Representatives. Of course this is not likely to happen. It has been very rare, although that kind of activity wasn’t entirely unknown during Civil War and Reconstruction days. But Constitutional crises do not usually end well. The Hayes-Tilden compromise, which ended Reconstruction and made a deal with General Nathan Bedford Forest to disband the (original) Ku Klux Klan comes to mind.
The investigations won’t end, the partisan spins will continue, and the question becomes – why? Just what is so mysterious here? Who really did think up Fast and Furious, and what was its real purpose? Conspiracy theories abound. Was the notion to send more guns to the drug lords in the hopes they would kill each other off? No one would want to admit that. It’s also hard to believe anyone would actually do such a thing. But it is one possible explanation: only why would the Attorney General act in contempt of Congress to protect someone who wanted to do that? Surely that was not its purpose.
So just why was Fast and Furious implemented? Who really wanted hundreds of assault rifles and other such weapons to be sold and allowed to be taken across an international border? In theory the weapons and ammunition were to be tracked, but the tracking wasn’t competently done. Why? The technology for doing it exists and isn’t that difficult. Was this failure simple incompetence or something more sinister? It is the right of the Congress to find this out; in whose interest is it to keep secret the origin and true purpose of Fast and Furious? Why does the Attorney General protect this operation?
Several thousand weapons and a lot of ammunition went to Mexico. Apparently we don’t know how many, or to whom they went, although we know that many ended up in the hands of the drug lords. And the Attorney General of the United States is unwilling to give Congress the documents authorizing this action, and claims he does not know who authorized the action in the first place. The President is standing by his man. And no one knows why.
Curiouser and curiouser. And it is far from over.
The President’s ‘reset’ in relations with Russia does not seem to have gone well, if we can judge by the frost at the G 20 meetings in Cabo. Of course the US is far less relevant in these matters, and is getting less so as time goes on.
Our long dying TV has deaded itself, and of course we’re about to go off for the weekend tomorrow. If you have enough problems some of them will cancel out: in this case we have long needed to replace the bedroom TV, a 19” flat screen that certainly predates 911 and is probably about a decade older than that. It sort of still works but just barely, and the remote doesn’t work at all and – well, we don’t watch much TV in the bedroom since getting the HDMI set for the back room.
So I will have to replace the back room 40”, and the 19” Westinghouse flat screen in the bedroom, but I am not confident in my ability to carry the 40” out, much less bring in something that large or perhaps a bit larger (but not much larger, 42” or so at most. I managed to bring in the current 39” from the front door, but I don’t think I could do that now – it would be a bit risky anyway. And of course we are going off for the weekend tomorrow.
What I can do is go out to Best Buy and get a 24” TV, possibly a tunable monitor which might be used to replace the Last Bottle up here in the Great Hall, possibly to replace the bedroom TV. Either way it would be useful, it can be installed tonight (just put it in front of the big TV), and await its permanent replacement next week.
One amusement: my bedroom TV has only a coax input and the cable box has only a coax output. Obviously it is pre hi-def, and I suspect I have been paying for hi def. Possibly not, But anyway I can get Time Warner to replace it with something a bit more up to date, and take away the old box and another I’ve been paying for but haven’t used in many years, and yes, I know, that’s a waste of money. I can only plead that changing the subject is difficult with me, and when something is out of mind it stays out of mind until something causes me to think of it. Apparently multi tasking is one of those abilities along with balance that 50,000 rad tends to burn out.