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w.heinlein 82 posts  |  Last Activity: 2 hours 27 minutes ago Member since: Oct 8, 2007
  • Although I continue to doubt that Trump is going to be the GOP Presidential nominee, the possibility is getting greater the longer his rivals fail to slow him down. It's unlikely he can get more than a third of the GOP primary votes, but that is probably more than anybody else can get at this point and it is enough, as several talking heads have noted, to throw the nomination up for grabs at the GOP convention. I am convinced that Trump entered the race to strengthen his brand and enhance his ability to make money from it, much as Mike Huckabee did (on a much smaller scale) when he ran for President. But Trump has the incredible good luck to be running against The Gang That Can't Shoot Straight. As they fumble, bumble and stumble, they make him look like Lincoln by comparison. Trump also plays the media like Horowitz plays the piano and, most important, he understands that truth is irrelevant especially in a primary; what counts is passion and he is, by a long shot, the most passionate candidate. Bizarre as it would be, Trump just might be the nominee.

  • Why are you talking about raising interest rates from one side of your mouth and negative interest rates from the other? If there is one thing business people hate from a Fed Chair it's FUD: Fear Uncertainty and Doubt and right now you are creating plenty of it. Have you learned nothing from the last 10 years?

  • w.heinlein w.heinlein Feb 10, 2016 2:25 PM Flag

    New Hampshire Final Results
    Total Democratic Votes 245,000
    Total Republican Votes 238,000

    As Vt (who lives in New Hampshire) points out elsewhere in this thread, there are more Republicans than Democrats in New Hampshire.

    So the only "YUGE" thing about your post is its YUGE mis-representation.

  • Reply to

    Democratic Nightmare Scenario

    by w.heinlein Feb 9, 2016 4:15 PM
    w.heinlein w.heinlein Feb 9, 2016 4:21 PM Flag

    I think Ryan is just as much in the pocket of the billionaires as she is. Maybe it's just different billionaires. But I've noticed that when it comes to money, political differences between the ultra-wealthy seem to disappear. For them, it is a matter of keeping score as much as anything else. They want the bragging rights that come with being among the 10 or 100 or 500 wealthiest people on earth and are going to fight any politician who might have the nerve to tax them.

  • Bernie Sanders wins the Democratic nomination. Michael Bloomberg jumps into the race as an independent Democrat. Nobody gets 270 electoral votes. The election goes to the House of Representatives where, in spite of the fact that Sanders and Bloomberg combined got more than 270 electoral votes and a vast majority of the popular vote, Paul Ryan is named the new President.

    The Constitution works that way and once the election goes to the House, anybody who meets the minimum qualifications can be selected as the new President He/she doesn't have to have been a candidate in the election.

  • Reply to

    JOLT follows the same tune as UE of 4.9%

    by unclefulbert Feb 9, 2016 10:15 AM
    w.heinlein w.heinlein Feb 9, 2016 3:18 PM Flag

    Quits are at a 9-year high, indicating that lots of people are finding better jobs. My local baristas used to be out of work teachers, government employees, mid-level managers. Now they are pimply teen-agers.

  • If it ends up as Ted Cruz vs. Hillary Clinton, it just might be the two most egotistical Presidential candidates in history going one-on-one. Cruz, whom Frank Bruni deliciously describes as "pomposity's plum tomato", has seemingly limitless self-regard, an opinion shared by no one who knows him. Hillary throws out the first person singular like confetti at a wedding: "I did blah..."

    Of course, we wise and thoughtful citizens, carefully exercising our hard-won franchise, are supposed to choose our leaders on the basis of their competence, experience, intelligence, wisdom, etc. But in reality, it seems to me, the personal style of the candidates really counts for more than their substance. (See., e.g., Donald Trump, a man who is all style and no substance). That's what would make a Cruz-Clinton campaign so interesting. They are both, in a certain sense, policy wonks, but those aspects of their character are going to be far less important than their roles in the great national soap opera. Snidely Whiplash vs. Cruella de Ville.

  • w.heinlein w.heinlein Feb 5, 2016 2:11 PM Flag

    And one more thing: The prospect for a long period of very very low interest rates implies that the only place it will be possible to earn decent returns over the short-to-intermediate term is the stock market. In addition, the fact that consumer purchasing power is increasing as wages rise and prices fall, strongly implies that you want to look at the consumer goods segment of the market for potential investment gains. I think one interesting play might be mid-price chain restaurants (Applebees, Olive Garden, etc) where people with a little more money in their pockets might choose to celebrate. Anybody else have thoughts about this?

  • w.heinlein w.heinlein Feb 5, 2016 1:52 PM Flag

    I forgot to add one important sentence: the current inflation break even rate is 1.39%.

  • The Federal Reserve publishes tons of useful data in its FRED (federal reserve economic data) data base. One particularly useful data series is the 10 year inflation break-even rate. As the name implies, it's the expected inflation rate for the next 10 years. This rate is calculated by the Fed on a daily basis from market interest rates on both conventional and inflation-protected bonds so it varies on a daily basis, but typically by not more than one or two basis points. Given that the Fed has explicitly set 2% as a long-term inflation target, there is no rational argument for an interest rate hike at this time or at any time in the near future. In other words, even though the unemployment rate has fallen to 4.9% and average wages are rising at more than 2% a year, those inflationary pressures are being more than offset by declines in the price of energy and capital goods. This is a truly unusual situation, where wages go up and prices go down at the same time! It's not without risks since another name for widely falling prices is "depression". But at the moment, it's a win-win for American workers.

  • w.heinlein w.heinlein Feb 4, 2016 4:56 PM Flag

    Obama's remarks were worth reading, they were a call for tolerance and a rejection of identity politics.

  • Reply to

    Congress To Probe Clinton Email...

    by trueallday Feb 4, 2016 12:04 PM
    w.heinlein w.heinlein Feb 4, 2016 3:23 PM Flag

    I think Roler is the same guy who endlessly posted his conviction that Sarah Palin was going to lead the GOP to victory in the last election.

    Ever since Richard Nixon coined the phrase, right-wingers have been convinced that a "silent majority" of Americans agrees with their extreme policy positions, no matter how crazy they are. People who believe that are, ironically, correct. There is a silent majority and it elected Barack Obama twice. It consists of people who don't vote in off-year elections, are not particularly partisan in their political views, but can tell the difference between a sane candidate and a crazy one. That silent majority will never vote for Trump or Cruz and probably won't vote for Rubio either. They may not adore Hillary Clinton but they trust her not to do anything stupid. This puts her at the opposite end of the spectrum from Cruz or Trump, who are almost guaranteeing the electorate that given the opportunity they will do lots of stupid things.

  • w.heinlein w.heinlein Feb 4, 2016 3:07 PM Flag

    It took nearly 7 years but we are back to a point where US employers are bidding for employees with predictable increases in average wages the result. The real question is for how long this situation will continue. My crystal ball is as cloudy as anybody else's but it seems to me that in the short run (12-18 months) the employment situation will continue to be good. While the sharp decline in the price of oil has negatively impacted oil-related industries (drilling, rig manufacturing etc.) it has amounted to a gigantic wealth transfer from oil producers to oil consumers. If you burn 1,000 gallons of gas a year in your cars, you are receiving the equivalent of a $2,000 tax credit from the price decline PLUS another huge savings in the price of goods and services in which energy is a significant factor in costs, airline tickets, for example. Of course, lots of developments could sour the milk. China's economy could implode driven by trillions of dollars in worthless or near-worthless bank debt. War could break out in any one of several places. A global pandemic could break out. But assuming none of those things happens, I don't see interest rates rising in the short term and I see the benefits of the oil price decline spreading through the entire economy.

  • w.heinlein w.heinlein Feb 3, 2016 1:29 PM Flag

    The Generals in Chile, the death squads in Guatemala, the anti-Sandinistas in Nicaragua, the anti-Chavez groups in Venezuela, the apartheid government of South Africa, etc etc. The list is very long and very depressing.

    I grant you that we will never be Switzerland but maybe we could be a little bit more like (say) Sweden and a little less like imperial Britain.

  • w.heinlein w.heinlein Feb 3, 2016 12:41 PM Flag

    You won't get any argument from me about how disgusting the Saudis are and how they walked away from 9/11 without any mud on their skirts even though they financed AQ and 17 of th 19 hijackers were Saudi nationals.

    You are ignoring my main point, so I will re-iterate it since I think that it more or less agrees with what seems to be your position. We should not be in the regime change business, whether that is in Latin America or the Middle East. It almost always turns out badly for us because we're bad at it. We should not have tried it in Iraq, we should not have tried it in Libya, and we should not be trying it in Syria. One way or another, we get stuck to the tar baby and it takes vast expenditure in money. lives and prestige for us to get free.

    I understand the neo-con argument that we are the global hegemon whether or not we like it and we should not shirk that responsibility. But I don't buy it.

  • w.heinlein w.heinlein Feb 2, 2016 6:28 PM Flag

    No, my point is that we have no good choices. Al Qaeda is bad. ISIS is bad. Assad is bad. Whichever side we support in Syria, we are getting in bed with bad guys. Think back to the mid-1980s for a minute. Donald Rumsfeld went to Baghdad to offer American support to Saddam Hussein in Iraq's war with Iran. Do you think Rumsfeld enjoyed shaking hands with the Butcher of Baghdad? We armed the Mujahadeen in Afghanistan in their fight against Russia. They turned into the Taliban, allies and protectors of Osama bin Laden. Everywhere you look, we have allied ourselves with unsavory, often murderous, regimes in the belief that the alternatives were worse. Indeed, the Reagan administration raised this sort of Realpolitik to the highest level, constructively "engaging" with the apartheid regime in South Africa, arming death squads in South America, using CIA planes to ferry cocaine into the USA in exchange for arms to anti-government militias in Nicaragua, etc etc. If you are the President, these ugly realities get handed to you the day you walk into the Oval Office and you can't escape making decisions about them.

  • w.heinlein w.heinlein Feb 2, 2016 2:40 PM Flag

    I do think it is far-fetched to suggest that we have "cultivated" ISIS to remove Assad or for any other purpose. The Assads (father and son) were bad guys from the US perspective long before Obama took office.

    One thing is pretty clear, so far at least, Putin is profiting from the turmoil in Syria. The Russians have made saving Assad a priority and their intervention on his side almost certainly prevented an ISIS victory.

    The refugees are a tragedy, but lest we forget, the Iraq War created more than 4 million of them.

    My personal bottom line is that we have no good choices, only bad ones and worse ones. Has Obama consistently chosen the lesser of two evils? Hard for me to say without access to the intelligence data that he gets.

  • w.heinlein w.heinlein Feb 2, 2016 1:05 PM Flag

    I didn't give you a downgrade even though you phrased your post in a tendentious way. Instead, I asked myself the following question: if I were President, what would I do? And I can't come up with an unambiguous answer. To defeat ISIS in Syria, I have to support Assad. To remove Assad, I have to support ISIS (indirectly if not directly). Al Qaeda is unsavory but maybe it's the lesser of two evils compared with ISIS. And so on. Anyone reading the history of the latter days of the Ottoman Empire through to the present gets a headache from the endless intrigue, betrayal, religious, tribal, and ethnic strife, etc. George W. Bush learned the hard way that nation building in the middle east is a mug's game. Obama has tried to accomplish with drones and proxies what Bush failed to do with boots on the ground. He's not succeeding any more than Bush did. Maybe we should just "declare victory and leave" as then-Senator Aiken said about Vietnam. Could the result be any worse than what we have now?

  • Trump--as he would be the first to admit--is an entertainer. And he's entertaining. He works crowds well, gets billions of dollars worth of free media just by being outrageous and unpredictable. But a politician he isn't. When it came time to to pick a candidate, even those Iowans who find Trump amusing had second thoughts about putting him at the head of a ticket. So a bunch of them voted for Cruz and Rubio, two real pols who are also protest candidates. What exactly they are protesting isn't exactly clear, but they channel the multiplicity of resentments that sent Iowa Republicans trooping to party caucuses and both ended up doing relatively well.

    Cruz is an interesting case study, the least likable pol since Richard Nixon whom he superficially resembles. But he has a certain weight that comes from scowling while others grin and he's a good debater, both skills that put him forward as a serious version of Trump. If the GOP ends up nominating Cruz, the election will (I predict) be the most lopsided Democratic win since 1964 when Barry Goldwater, the Ted Cruz of his day, got swamped by Lyndon Johnson. Hillary, like Lyndon, has a lot of miles on her but, again like Lyndon, if you vote for her you know what you get and you can live with it. That's not much, but imho it's more than enough to defeat Cruz.

  • Reply to

    Iowa does not hate Cruz, it loves him!!!

    by cruzin2016 Feb 1, 2016 10:18 PM
    w.heinlein w.heinlein Feb 1, 2016 11:38 PM Flag

    You are right. The only people who hate Cruz are those who know him personally.

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