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w.heinlein 130 posts  |  Last Activity: 4 hours ago Member since: Oct 8, 2007
  • As of today, prediction markets give Trump a 49% chance of winning the GOP nomination, Rubio a 39% chance. The same markets give Hillary Clinton a 52% chance of winning the Presidency, Rubio 17%, Trump 15%.

    Although the media story is that it's a 3-man race for the GOP nomination, the prediction markets give Cruz only a 6% chance of getting the nomination.

    The disconnect between Cruz's standing in the media and his standing in the prediction markets is striking. It's an example of the "horse race" mentality of election stories. Cruz is so perfectly cast in the villain's role in this electoral version of World Wide Wrestling that the talking heads don't want to lose his character. Cruz's campaign slogan is "TrustTed" but it should really be "DisgusTed" because that's what the voters are.

    A contest between Rubio and Clinton would be unbearably boring. They should hire actors to stand in for them: how about Robert Downey, Jr. vs. Jennifer Lawrence, i.e., Tony Stark vs. Katniss Everdeen.

  • w.heinlein by w.heinlein Feb 23, 2016 6:38 PM Flag

    Sea levels are rising at the fastest rate in 2,800 years according to new measurements made by three teams of scientists in different parts of the world. And the rate of sea level rise is itself increasing.

    If you live at sea level like the residents of Boston, New York, Miami, New Orleans, Houston, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle, to name a few, this is bad news. Flooding, which is already a severe problem in these and other sea level communities, is going to get a whole lot worse and its going to keep on getting worse for the foreseeable future.

    It is even worse news if you are a resident of a low lying Pacific island or of a sea level nation like Bangladesh or if you are a neighbor of such a community because there are going to be millions and millions of climate refugees. And where will they go.?

    To this point in human history, the benefits of burning fossil fuel have vastly outweighed the costs. But Nature is keeping the books and we are about to see some really big debits, enough perhaps to wipe out all past credits and then some. As communities get washed away and people die, it will be increasingly difficult to come up with compelling reasons to do nothing about the human contribution to climate change and increasingly clear that if we don't do something and do its fast, catastrophe will follow us as surely as night follows day.

  • Reply to

    The End of the Bush Dynasty

    by w.heinlein Feb 22, 2016 7:05 PM
    w.heinlein w.heinlein Feb 23, 2016 1:45 PM Flag

    The growth in the national debt is a serious problem and one that neither party has been serious about addressing. The Bush tax cuts didn't come remotely close to paying for themselves and it's sheer economic idiocy to suppose that cuts twice their size would do anything but produce twice as big an increase in the debt. On the other hand, the growth in entitlements (especially Medicare) is simply unsustainable and the Democrats just close their eyes and kick the can down the road. While things look OK in the short term, at some point the piper has to be paid. There has to be a combination of a halt in the growth of entitlements with a significant tax increase, most of which would fall on wealthy individuals and corporations, if we are going to bring the debt back down to manageable levels. Anyone who tells you we can get there with either entitlement cuts or tax increases alone is selling snake oil.

  • Reply to

    The End of the Bush Dynasty

    by w.heinlein Feb 22, 2016 7:05 PM
    w.heinlein w.heinlein Feb 23, 2016 1:11 PM Flag

    Ahh Texas, ya gotta love a state where the Lt. Governor is more powerful than the Governor, the Railroad Commission is more powerful than the legislature, and ,more people are executed each year than in the other 49 states combined. And did I mention that the weather sucks, the traffic sucks, and the most cultured thing in the whole state is yogurt?

  • Reply to

    The End of the Bush Dynasty

    by w.heinlein Feb 22, 2016 7:05 PM
    w.heinlein w.heinlein Feb 23, 2016 1:04 PM Flag

    Better than the three lunatics on the Republican side...Cruz and Trump both now say they would deport 12 million people and build a gigantic wall on the Mexican border. Those crackpot schemes would cost hundreds of billions of dollars, wreck the American economy, do limitless damage to foreign relations and in the end we would have to find a way to bring in millions of low-wage immigrants to replace them. So what would we be gaining for our hundreds of billions other than the ability to proclaim our selves the biggest badasses on the planet while looking like the biggest jackasses? As for Rubio, he's Scalia light, a right-wing ideologue dressed in moderate's clothing. He proposes tax cuts twice the size of the Bush tax cuts and says they "will pay for themselves". Yeah, they will, on the same day that Hades freezes over and pigs fly.

  • Reply to

    The End of the Bush Dynasty

    by w.heinlein Feb 22, 2016 7:05 PM
    w.heinlein w.heinlein Feb 23, 2016 9:30 AM Flag

    True. But even if we leave Vannevar out, you still have one influential Senator, two major state governors, one vice President, one head of the CIA, and two Presidents spread among the various Bushes over more than half a century.

    The Roosevelts come close with two governors and two Presidents.

  • Reply to

    The GOP Sails Into the Sunset

    by w.heinlein Feb 22, 2016 3:51 PM
    w.heinlein w.heinlein Feb 22, 2016 11:15 PM Flag

    Let's see who controls what after the 2016 election.

    No Republican can win the Presidency without capturing a huge majority of independent votes. Both registered Democrats and registered Independents outnumber registered Republicans. Obama won easily twice in spite of losing millions of votes simply because of his skin color and while running against candidates far more appealing than anyone the GOP could put forward in 2016. Assuming Hillary Clinton is the Democratic nominee, she will start with far greater advantages than Obama did and will be running against far weaker opposition.

    Yes, Hillary is something of a robotic candidate. But if it is Rubio she is running against, he will make her look Amy Schumer by comparison.

    Why is Trump successful so far? Simple: he recognizes that Joe Sixpack does not subscribe to the economic views of the editorial page of The Wall Street Journal. Joe doesn't give a hoot in Hades about supply side economics or more tax cuts for the already wealthy. He cares about his wife and kids, his health, and his job. That is why, in an odd way, Trump and Sanders are mirror images of each other. Both of them are running of a platform of radically changing the way Washington does business, selling tax breaks in exchange for campaign contributions. Trump doesn't need the money and Sanders won't take the money..For those different reasons, both of them are able to give the middle finger salute to fat cats who want to buy influence.

  • America has had few political dynasties. The Adamses (John and John Quincy) in the early days of the Republic and the Roosevelts later on had perhaps the most outstanding members, but for sheer staying power you have to hand it to the Bush family. From the days of Prescott Bush and Vannevar Bush to GHW Bush, GW Bush and Jeb Bush, I don't think there is an American political dynasty to match them. The Kennedys had John and Robert, the Tafts had William Howard and Robert, the Clintons have Bill and Hillary but nobody has quite the collection of the Bushes. So it seems only fitting to tip our hats to the passing of our longest-lived political dynasty as Jeb throws in the towel and there are no more Bushes waiting in the wings. A cynic would say this family used its political connections to enrich itself and while there is some truth to that claim, it's also the case that the Bush family had a certain degree of noblesse oblige, the aristocratic conviction that they had a duty to rule (if only to prevent lesser beings from doing so). That is an attitude shared by no one else among the Republican scrappers because nobody else is a blueblood in the sense that the Bushes are. Even though they headed out to Florida, Texas and Colorado (Neil, the banker Bush) to acquire some man-of-the-frontier cred, they remained the Bushes of Kennebunkport, the last of a vanishing breed. .

  • Reply to

    The GOP Sails Into the Sunset

    by w.heinlein Feb 22, 2016 3:51 PM
    w.heinlein w.heinlein Feb 22, 2016 3:52 PM Flag

    Oops...I mean the past 150 years...I need a good proof reader...LOL

  • American political parties tend to be big tents that cover diverse groups many of whom have sharp disagreements with one another. In that sense, American parties--the two big ones, I mean--have been (relatively) non-ideological, especially as compared with political parties in other countries. But over the past decade and a half, a funny thing happened to the GOP: its tent got much smaller as, one by one, moderates, gays, liberal Christians, feminists, African-Americans, Hispanics, Asians, Muslims, millennials, scientists and engineers all got kicked to the curb. Many of these people are moderate conservatives who have been abandoned by the new, hard-right, mostly white, mostly old, mostly rural, predominately southern, GOP. The irony that this southern regional party is on the verge of nominating a brash New York businessman as its Presidential candidate is as fascinating as it is bizarre.

    The decline of the GOP as a national party has been partly masked by its relative success at the state level where a combination of demographic changes, Democratic fecklessness and gerrymandering has resulted in over-representation by GOP governors and state legislators. But that too will inevitably change. The GOP began 150 years ago as an urban, anti-slavery, northern political party facing off against a southern, rural, slave-owning Democratic Party. But over the past 510 years--and especially since the 1970s--the parties have largely reversed positions, geographic locations, and voter bases.

    In its current incarnation, the GOP cannot succeed in a national election. I'm not saying that the Dems can't fail in a national election, only that unless the GOP moves back to the center rather than farther to the right and the south, it will surely perish.

  • Reply to

    Obama job boom continues

    by unclefulbert Feb 18, 2016 9:08 AM
    w.heinlein w.heinlein Feb 18, 2016 12:58 PM Flag

    Self-reliance is neither a liberal nor a conservative trait. It's a product of a good upbringing. You were fortunate--as was I--to have parents like that. Many people don't.

    My sense of the "liberal-conservative" split in the population is that it reflects, more than anything else, social class differences. The Tea Party version of conservatism is embraced by white working class folks who feel left behind and disadvantaged in the digital economy. They feel (wrongly) that minorities are getting helping hands which they are being denied. And they blame this situation on "liberals" by which they mean college educated professionals who are prospering in this economy. One reason for their intense resentment of Barack Obama is that the Tea Party folks just can't believe that he succeeded on his merits. Hence the efforts to de-legitimize him from the very first by claiming he wasn't born here, he's a secret Muslim, he's a Marxist, etc. They have been encouraged in these sentiments by the right-wing media and Republican politicians who, for the most part, have pandered to them.

  • Reply to

    The Election Issue Nobody is Talking About

    by w.heinlein Feb 17, 2016 1:45 PM
    w.heinlein w.heinlein Feb 17, 2016 3:12 PM Flag

    I could only excerpt a small part of Kotkin's article for my post, but in the full article he makes the point that housing costs are driving middle class families out of coastal cities like New York, Boston, San Francisco and Los Angeles into regions of the country where housing is affordable. Texas, for example, issues permits for new housing construction at three times the rate that California does. Subsidized housing isn't the answer because housing subsidies only address a tiny fraction of the demand and go to the working poor rather than the middle class. In northern California (where I live) housing takes up to 40% of a middle class family's income compared with 15% in lower cost regions. So increasingly you end up with cities like San Francisco which has basically only three classes of residents: wealthy homeowners, upper middle-class renters and homeless people. People priced out of San Francisco spread into the surrounding communities and bid up the prices of existing houses there to ridiculous heights. The ripples spread outward all the way to Sacramento.

  • OK, maybe it is asking too much of politicians that they actually engage in real debate about real issues, but here is one that cannot be ignored, yet no one is talking about it: the housing affordability crisis. These are excerpts from an article by Joel Kotkin in "New Geography":

    As demonstrated in a recent report (PDF) from Chapman University’s Center for Demographics and Policy, housing now takes the largest share of family costs, while expenditures on food, apparel, and transportation have dropped or stayed about the same. In 2015, the rise in housing costs essentially swallowed savings gains made elsewhere, notably, savings on the cost of energy. The real estate consultancy Zillow predicts housing inflation will only worsen this year.

    Driven in part by potential buyers being forced into the apartment market, rents have risen to a point that they now compose the largest share of income in modern U.S. history. Since 1990, renters’ income has been stagnant, while inflation-adjusted rents have soared 14.7 percent. Given the large shortfall in housing production—down not only since the 2007 recession but also by almost a quarter between 2011 and 2015—the trend toward ever higher prices and greater levels of unaffordability seems all but inevitable.

    In the “exclusionary regions” along both coasts, high land prices have made it all but impossible to build much of anything except luxury units. In Manhattan this has taken the form of high-rise towers that have been gobbled by the rich, including many foreigners, but this new construction has done little to make New York affordable for most residents. Between 2010 and 2015, Gotham rents increased 50 percent, while incomes for renters between ages 25 and 44 grew by just 8 percent.

    In our core cities in particular, we are seeing something reminiscent of the Victorian era, when a huge
    proportion of workers labored in the servile class. Is this really the country we want to build?

  • I don't blame the GOP for its reluctance to hold hearings on any nominee that Obama might put forward. I'm old enough to remember the fight over the confirmation of Robert Bork and the disgraceful way the Democrats blocked his elevation to the court. I supported Bork, who would have been a great Supreme Court justice, imho, even though he was far more conservative than I am.. Losing the fight over Bork made the Republicans determined to get payback and they've been getting it for more than 30 years. But maybe now is a good time to stop this kind of tit-for-tat and return to the practice of having the Senate confirm qualified nominees to the Court without requiring them to pass a political litmus test. The litmus test approach has worked well for the GOP and they won't easily abandon a tactic that has given them control of the Supreme Court for nearly 4 decades. But sooner or later the pendulum is going to swing the other way--sooner probably than later--and when the Democrats are in control they will show no more concern for Republican views than Republicans are currently showing toward them. Let's end the confirmation charade with Senators taking turns making stump speeches while pretending to evaluate the potential appointee. We'll get better judges and a better judicial system as a whole if we do.

  • w.heinlein w.heinlein Feb 16, 2016 2:37 PM Flag

    On the contrary, Scalia was, by all accounts, a generous, warm-hearted man with a wide variety of friends. He had a view of Constitutional interpretation that I disagree with and he was often extreme in his presentation of his point of view, but he was not a racist. He was, however, a partisan and that fact did as much as anything to change the public perception of the Supreme Court from an impartial tribunal into just another bunch of politicians. Of course, the Court has never been free of partiality. More than a century ago, the humorist Peter Finley Dunne wrote, "I don't know if the Constitution follows the flag, but I know the Supreme Court follows the election returns." But for most of its history, the Court was held in much higher regard than either the Presidency or the Congress. Sadly, that is no longer true and Scalia, with his pugnacious defense of conservative orthodoxy, had a lot to do with the change in the way the public views the Court.

  • Proving that even people who disagree sharply can be the best of friends:

    "Toward the end of the opera Scalia/Ginsburg, tenor Scalia and soprano Ginsburg sing a duet: “We are different, we are one,” different in our interpretation of written texts, one in our reverence for the Constitution and the institution we serve. From our years together at the D.C. Circuit, we were best buddies. We disagreed now and then, but when I wrote for the Court and received a Scalia dissent, the opinion ultimately released was notably better than my initial circulation. Justice Scalia nailed all the weak spots—the “applesauce” and “argle bargle”—and gave me just what I needed to strengthen the majority opinion. He was a jurist of captivating brilliance and wit, with a rare talent to make even the most sober judge laugh. The press referred to his “energetic fervor,” “astringent intellect,” “peppery prose,” “acumen,” and “affability,” all apt descriptions. He was eminently quotable, his pungent opinions so clearly stated that his words never slipped from the reader’s grasp.

    Justice Scalia once described as the peak of his days on the bench an evening at the Opera Ball when he joined two Washington National Opera tenors at the piano for a medley of songs. He called it the famous Three Tenors performance. He was, indeed, a magnificent performer. It was my great good fortune to have known him as working colleague and treasured friend."

  • w.heinlein w.heinlein Feb 15, 2016 1:53 PM Flag

    There does seem to be a bit of a rush to get his body out of Texas without an autopsy. A local justice of the peace who did not see the body ruled that his death was from natural causes. No coroner saw the body either. So there is an air of mystery about it.

    The right wing media are ablaze with conspiracy theories including the idea that he was killed by order of (pick your favorite villain) President Obama, the Clintons, or the Bushes. The idea that a man nearing 80 who was 50 or more pounds overweight and suffering from other health problems might just have died on his own without outside interference seems far more likely.

    In any event, Scalia's death leaves the GOP in something of a pickle. By announcing that they will oppose any nomination that President Obama makes to fill his seat, the GOP risk alienating everybody except the 15% of Americans who hold the most extreme right wing views. Not a good posture to be in just before a Presidential election. And now no conservative decision on hot-button issues like abortion and guns can get 5 votes. The right's only hope to resurrect the Supreme Court as a second ultra-right branch of the legislature is to win the Presidential election. But that seems less likely with every passing day.

  • I keep putting them on "ignore" and they pop right back up like one of those trick candles that relights itself after you blow it out.

  • Reply to

    Racist Supreme Court Justice Resigns

    by republicansareracist Feb 13, 2016 6:03 PM
    w.heinlein w.heinlein Feb 14, 2016 1:09 PM Flag

    Antonin Scalia was a peculiar man. His idea of the Constitutional interpretation ("originalism") was a self-imposed strait jacket that turned Supreme Court Justices into literary critics, parsing their understanding of what words meant in 1789, rather than judges, applying the broad principles of the Constitution to the very different circumstances of 2016. It was a legal fundamentalism not different in kind from the religious fundamentalism that sees the Bible or the Koran as a set of immutable truths not open to interpretation in the light of current knowledge. (Not surprisingly, Scalia was a very conservative Catholic.) In keeping with this view of the Constitution as a sacred text, Scalia rejected examining legislative history to determine the intent of the legislature even when that history is most illuminating as, for example, in Madison's notes on the debates at the Constitutional convention. But he was also an extremely political judge with a social agenda that he was determined to foist on the country even at the cost of sacrificing his own judicial principles. Thus he joined the majority in Bush v. Gore even though his originalist reading of the Constitution as well as some of his prior decisions would have left the initial determination of the outcome of the Florida election up to the State of Florida. Fearing that a recount in Florida might actually result in the election of Gore, he intervened to stop it, an action that led his former colleague William Brennan to write in his dissent that he did not know who won the election but he knew who lost it, the American people. There's no doubt that Scalia will be remembered as one of the most influential Justices ever to sit on the Court and one of the best writers among the justices, with a pungent, provocative style, especially in dissent. But for the good of the country, it would be well if his influence died along with him.

  • w.heinlein w.heinlein Feb 12, 2016 7:20 PM Flag

    When asked about this situation, Rev. Johnny Wilkins, a spokespastor for the candidate, said that hiring porn stars was "Ted's way of leading them to salvation by helping them earn an honest buck."

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