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Political Roundtable Cosmic String of Cataclysm - Part V

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Post#881 Re: Political Roundtable Cosmic String of Cat
Fri Jan 18, 2013 3:04 pm by dobrojim

deleted - double post
A lot of what we call 'thought' is just mental activity
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Post#882 Re: Political Roundtable Cosmic String of Cat
Fri Jan 18, 2013 3:32 pm by popper

dobrojim wrote:my understanding of the Constitution is that the House (of Reps)
is where the budget is supposed to originate. I fail to understand
why one house (or the other) should be held solely responsible
for the failure to come up with a budget. At the end of the day
(conf committee), both houses have to pass the same bill.


You are correct about the Constitution but earlier last century a law was passed (I think it was something like the Budgetary Control Act of ... blah, blah, blah that also requires the Senate to pass a budget.

Dobrojim - I'm sure you already know this but the reason the Senate has refused to pass a budget for years is because they gain politically by not doing so - in other words they can't be pinned down by their constituents or criticized by the press since nothing is in writing or publicly debated. Is this the kind of leadership you want or that the people deserve?
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Post#883 Re: Political Roundtable Cosmic String of Cat
Fri Jan 18, 2013 3:35 pm by Induveca

montestewart wrote:
popper wrote:
Zonkerbl wrote:Induveca, what's the difference between organized crime and government?

Competition vs. monopoly. When one warring tribe defeats the other, it goes from being a "roving band of militants" to being the "government in power."

Having lived in Siberia for a year, Indu, I can very strongly assert that if you think the U.S. system is corrupt, YOU AIN'T SEEN NUTHIN.

The U.S. is one of THE LEAST CORRUPT countries out there. This will be about the tenth time I've repeated this quote in this thread: Democracy is the worst possible form of government, except for all the others we've tried.

Corruption is a symptom of institutional dysfunction. No institution is perfect -- what we can do is try to identify the root causes of dysfunction and fix it.


Good points. I think term limits could help if properly designed and implemented (a giant and difficult task to be sure but worth it IMO). Won't go into the details of my preferred design as it is complicated and I don't want to bore anyone.

I recall a conversation I had with lab partners in college, one each from Turkey, India, and Ethiopia. I made some comments about US corruption, and all three pretty much uniformly asserted that I didn't understand corruption as practiced outside the US if I thought it was bad here. Comments like "everyone expects it" and "no one even tries to hide it" characterize the general tenor of their comments.

I also recall my father commenting on going to conferences around the world, staying in standard hotels, and observing that governmental counterparts from other countries stayed in much more luxurious accommodations and ran up extensive expenses. When confronting some of them with questions about why representatives to development/anti-poverty conferences stayed in swank hotels, the responses generally bypassed the issue by focusing on his naivete.

I'm not saying any of that justifies any level of corruption here, but it does give some perspective.


Corruption is rampant in the US Federal Government. No need to justify it, it's the way things work at higher levels. Political corruption is shaped/molded in ways where it can be accepted by the general populace.

Best way to do that in the US is drastically inflating prices in government contracts obtained via lobbyists (then subcontracting to other "requested" entities). Doing this in complicated ways, tons of 300 page contracts and multiple contractors/licensees/bank transfers gets money to where it needs to go.

There is a reason Pentagon lightbulbs were 50 dollars each or some insane figure. I've also seen the federal government buy computer servers at 500% premium from requested local consulting firms. That wasn't a "favor" for the consulting firm.
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Post#884 Re: Political Roundtable Cosmic String of Cat
Fri Jan 18, 2013 3:40 pm by dobrojim

Maybe I have not been paying as close attention as you...
is what you're saying the house passed 'a budget' but the
senate did not? If so, I would guess that that would be
because that it would not comport with the House passed
budget and so have no chance of becoming law, as well
as the reasons you suggest. No upside, only downside.
But I don't disagree with your basic premise, very much
anyway, that if the law requires it, they should do it.
My guess is that they met the letter of the law by
simply passing a CR.
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Post#885 Re: Political Roundtable Cosmic String of Cat
Fri Jan 18, 2013 4:21 pm by Zonkerbl

Indu, please define "corruption."

Then please describe how the democratic process would function in a corruptionless environment.

To an economist, corruption can only occur when a government regulation restricts entry into a market. When legal administrative fees are too high or too low, a government official can either take a bribe to waive fees that are too high, or only grant access to the market when a bribe is paid in addition to the fee that is too low. I don't think that's what you mean by corruption, though.

Communicating your desire for a specific legislative change to your political representative is not corruption, it's democracy.

Now. What happens when a majority is more or less indifferent to a certain policy, but kinda in favor of it, while a minority is extremely adversely affected? If you have simple majority rule, you get "tyranny of the majority." So there has to be a way of communicating the degree of your dislike of a certain policy. One way to do this is put your money where your mouth is and offer to pay to get the policy changed.

Now, from an economist's point of view, it doesn't really matter whether you pay a policy maker directly, or pay a "lobbyist" who gives you "access." For some reason, people consider paying for policy changes directly "corruption." They also consider paying a lobbyist for access is corruption when people they don't like do it, but properly functioning democracy when people they like do it.

That's not actually how democracy works. The same tool that lets civil rights advocates communicate their dislike of racism is the same tool that oil companies use to force taxpayers to provide subsidies to them. If there was a black and white distinction between good and evil, you could just allow bribes, but only for "good" reasons. You offer a bribe to a guy, he holds up his "evil-o-meter," and if the red light doesn't come on, it's all good. In the real world, you can't allow some people to use a tool and others not. Well, you can in the Soviet Union. But not in the U.S. -- that's not how our system works. In fact, our system works better than most others PRECISELY because we do not take sides on who gets to use it. And that's because democracy is not the problem. Letting people show how much they care about an issue by spending money to get the issue changed is a good thing. A very good thing. Believe me. You can be absolutely positive that without that, Christianity would be our official religion, slavery would still be legal, and only white male landowners would be allowed to vote.
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Post#886 Re: Political Roundtable Cosmic String of Cat
Fri Jan 18, 2013 4:28 pm by popper

dobrojim wrote:Maybe I have not been paying as close attention as you...
is what you're saying the house passed 'a budget' but the
senate did not? If so, I would guess that that would be
because that it would not comport with the House passed
budget and so have no chance of becoming law, as well
as the reasons you suggest. No upside, only downside.
But I don't disagree with your basic premise, very much
anyway, that if the law requires it, they should do it.
My guess is that they met the letter of the law by
simply passing a CR.


Fair enough.
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Post#887 Re: Political Roundtable Cosmic String of Cat
Fri Jan 18, 2013 6:32 pm by montestewart

Induveca wrote:There is a reason Pentagon lightbulbs were 50 dollars each or some insane figure. I've also seen the federal government buy computer servers at 500% premium from requested local consulting firms. That wasn't a "favor" for the consulting firm.

Not "Pentagon" lightbulbs, and they don't cost $50. Philips had a contract to develop a lower cost LED replacement bulb, and it had to be manufactured and assembled in the US. Read here: http://www.triplepundit.com/2012/03/phi ... ight-bulb/
Don't buy that because it's too something or other? Just do a little original research, there are plenty of sites that flesh out the story. The only ones I saw that uncritically parroted "$50 Pentagon lightbulbs" were dull extremist sites.

Sure there's corruption, but I don't see evidence here that it exists. Maybe it's in the $10 million contract to develop the US-made bulb.

Those who gain the most from corruption (and thus have the most to lose) gain also from the perpetuation of such easily disproved stories (the toilet seat, the hammer, etc), as truth and lies merge into an indecipherable collage and everyone just gives up on research, logic, and analysis.

PS: Here it is right here @ $20.69, which is in the range of other (non-US made) 60 watt LED bulbs.
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Post#888 Re: Political Roundtable Cosmic String of Cat
Fri Jan 18, 2013 9:02 pm by Induveca

montestewart wrote:
Induveca wrote:There is a reason Pentagon lightbulbs were 50 dollars each or some insane figure. I've also seen the federal government buy computer servers at 500% premium from requested local consulting firms. That wasn't a "favor" for the consulting firm.

Not "Pentagon" lightbulbs, and they don't cost $50. Philips had a contract to develop a lower cost LED replacement bulb, and it had to be manufactured and assembled in the US. Read here: http://www.triplepundit.com/2012/03/phi ... ight-bulb/
Don't buy that because it's too something or other? Just do a little original research, there are plenty of sites that flesh out the story. The only ones I saw that uncritically parroted "$50 Pentagon lightbulbs" were dull extremist sites.

Sure there's corruption, but I don't see evidence here that it exists. Maybe it's in the $10 million contract to develop the US-made bulb.

Those who gain the most from corruption (and thus have the most to lose) gain also from the perpetuation of such easily disproved stories (the toilet seat, the hammer, etc), as truth and lies merge into an indecipherable collage and everyone just gives up on research, logic, and analysis.

PS: Here it is right here @ $20.69, which is in the range of other (non-US made) 60 watt LED bulbs.


Fair enough on the bulb, I was trying to remember a story from the 90s. That being said I could buy that bulb here for 3 dollars or so (have some in my kitchen according to my girl). Alibaba.com if you buy in bulk they go to 2.50.

The US is extremely corrupt however. Mostly at the federal level. How do I know this? I've been part of it on both sides. Just get yourself a good merc lobbyist and with enough money you can buy any favor/government approval needed in DC.

Not sure why I'm arguing this....I literally have to live this stuff. US government officials down here (Dominican Republic) are considered the most dangerous crooks of all. Embassy officials regularly shake down companies to turn a blind eye to them when US legislation is passed which may impact any questionable grants or aid they have received.

Consul officials accept huge bribes to overturn things like revoked student visas. (50k usually gets it done). 100k for business visas. But it typically must get done in higher up social circles.

I've known embassy types who enjoy million dollar beach homes held via a Dominican company, and live 25,000/month lives.

I could go on and on, but last I will just reinforce the "War on Drugs" is AMAZINGLY profitable for companies receiving aid and the local US officials granting or administering said aid.
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Post#889 Re: Political Roundtable Cosmic String of Cat
Fri Jan 18, 2013 9:10 pm by Induveca

Random stat I just saw on NHK. China currently has 937 million people who are "working age".

I don't see the US ever coming close to competing on a global manufacturing scale. The US needs a little isolationism in more industries (like their current block on Chinese cars).
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Post#890 Re: Political Roundtable Cosmic String of Cat
Sat Jan 19, 2013 3:04 pm by popper

More evidence as to why so many are still skeptical of global warming.

Government Scientist Gets Fired for Telling the Truth

Something’s amiss at the Department of Interior. Eight government scientists were recently fired or reassigned after voicing concerns to their superiors about faulty environmental science used for policy decisions. Which begs the question, “Are some government agencies manipulating science to advance political agendas?” ...............

http://townhall.com/columnists/davidspa ... h-n1492207
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Post#891 Re: Political Roundtable Cosmic String of Cat
Sat Jan 19, 2013 3:58 pm by Induveca

Not just that Jim, they are protecting the racket for a very powerful carbon/green lobby.

Al Gore drives the majority of it through his VC firm in Silicon Valley. They've invested close to 1 billion dollars in "green tech", of which they've sold to governments around the world.

Of course many of these products would have never gotten government funding if not for his testimony and millions in lobbying/bribe costs. Main issue is how was he treated as a "subject matter expert" concerning companies in which he was heavily invested personally?

Pathetic...
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Post#892 Re: Political Roundtable Cosmic String of Cat
Sat Jan 19, 2013 5:13 pm by sfam

popper wrote:More evidence as to why so many are still skeptical of global warming.

Government Scientist Gets Fired for Telling the Truth

Something’s amiss at the Department of Interior. Eight government scientists were recently fired or reassigned after voicing concerns to their superiors about faulty environmental science used for policy decisions. Which begs the question, “Are some government agencies manipulating science to advance political agendas?” ...............

http://townhall.com/columnists/davidspa ... h-n1492207

Evidence for Climate change? Here's the latest draft report: http://ncadac.globalchange.gov/

Climate change is already affecting the American people. Certain types of weather events have become more frequent and/or intense, including heat waves, heavy downpours, and, in some regions, floods and droughts. Sea level is rising, oceans are becoming more acidic, and glaciers and arctic sea ice are melting. These changes are part of the pattern of global climate change, which is primarily driven by human activity


Or headlines of the report from USA Today:

• U.S. average temperature has increased by about 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit since 1895, and more than 80% of that occurred since 1980. The most recent decade was the nation's hottest on record, and the next few decades are projected to see another 2 degrees to 4 degrees Fahrenheit of warming in most areas.

• Global sea level has risen about 8 inches over the past 100 years and is projected to rise by another 1 to 4 feet this century.

• Ocean surface waters have become 30% more acidic as they absorb large amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The acidification reduces the capacity of marine organisms with shells or skeletons made of calcium carbonate such as coral, oysters, clams and crabs to survive.

• Public health effects include waterborne diseases, increased heat stress, respiratory problems from poor air quality and diseases transmitted by insects and rodents.


Among scientists, there is no doubt except at the extreme fringe. Interestingly, about 50% of TV weathermen appear to both love lamps, AND think global warming is a hoax. This is why its rarely reported.
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Post#893 Re: Political Roundtable Cosmic String of Cat
Sat Jan 19, 2013 5:39 pm by penbeast0

I like the "Global Warming v. Start of a New Ice Age" idea. It seems to make more sense than conventional global warning explanations and may account for the delay in warming numbers as well. The real trouble with believing the global warming scientists outside their own community is that they have been making predictions since the 1960s based on these models and have been consistently . . . wrong.

It's as if Hollinger's PER predicted the Wizards and Clippers playing for the NBA championship at least twice in the past decade; it tarnishes the image badly even as he tweaks it and pronounces it new and improved for the next year.
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Post#894 Re: Political Roundtable Cosmic String of Cat
Sat Jan 19, 2013 7:25 pm by Zonkerbl

popper wrote:More evidence as to why so many are still skeptical of global warming.

Government Scientist Gets Fired for Telling the Truth

Something’s amiss at the Department of Interior. Eight government scientists were recently fired or reassigned after voicing concerns to their superiors about faulty environmental science used for policy decisions. Which begs the question, “Are some government agencies manipulating science to advance political agendas?” ...............

http://townhall.com/columnists/davidspa ... h-n1492207


Didn't read the whole article, but doesn't seem to have anything to do with global warming.

Having a ton of experience arguing with EPA over their idiotic "science" for smog and particulate matter (and industrial boiler) rules, I think it's more likely that's what the article's about. Outrageous and unforgiveable, but nothing to do with global warming.
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Post#895 Re: Political Roundtable Cosmic String of Cat
Mon Jan 21, 2013 1:44 pm by dobrojim

http://tinyurl.com/b4obhjt

another reason to be moving away from fossil fuels

the above study is notable for the figure it came up with as for
the things it did NOT include which raises the costs even more.
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Post#896 Re: Political Roundtable Cosmic String of Cat
Tue Jan 22, 2013 6:40 am by Zonkerbl

I was a part of the White House panel of scientists and economists calculating the "social costs of carbon" to be used in environmental rules that reduce carbon emissions. The modelers bent over backwards to include everything quantifiable, but it all added up to squat -- except for increased expenditures on air conditioning in the U.S. That's the primary cost factor in the $20-$26/ton figure they came up with.

The only thing that would significantly increase the estimates is factoring in a small probability of "catastrophe," which no one has been able to put a price tag on or scientifically estimate the probability of. What we didn't factor in and we should've, but can't, is the "cost" of mass fish extinctions. Those are really hard to estimate.

I still think we should do something about global warming. It's a fact and it's our fault. But the quantifiable costs are pretty minuscule.
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Post#897 Re: Political Roundtable Cosmic String of Cat
Wed Jan 23, 2013 2:44 pm by dobrojim

great new documentary done by Frontline on the failure to
prosecute Wall St for the fraud that was committed and
the underlying cause of the financial meltdown.

one of my biggest disappointments with the Obama admin

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/view/

even if they had a difficult row to hoe re criminal prosecutions for fraud
they should at least have gone after people for criminal negligence.
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Post#898 Re: Political Roundtable Cosmic String of Cat
Wed Jan 23, 2013 2:49 pm by closg00

Anyone catch the Salem Witch trials otherwise known as the Benghazi hearings? What a total clown show for talk radio and Faux News viewers.
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Post#899 Re: Political Roundtable Cosmic String of Cat
Wed Jan 23, 2013 4:00 pm by Wizardspride

closg00 wrote:Anyone catch the Salem Witch trials otherwise known as the Benghazi hearings? What a total clown show for talk radio and Faux News viewers.

Don't get me started on that. :(
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Post#900 Re: Political Roundtable Cosmic String of Cat
Sun Jan 27, 2013 7:31 am by popper

Would love a response from Progressives here to George Will's column in today's Post (page A15).

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/ ... story.html
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