You must hang around higher-class bars than I do. When I lived in Chicago, the kinds of women I met in bars usually said things like, "What's your sign?" [My usual answer: "No left turn"]
I guess the moral of the story is, if you wait long enough, virtually every prediction comes true sometime.
Boy: I want to be a pundit when I grow up.
Mom: A pundit? Why?
Boy: Because you always have a job no matter how much you screw up.
Mom: I don't understand.
Boy: In 1993 the pundits all said the Clinton tax increase would wreck the economy, create mass unemployment and balloon the deficit.
Boy: We had the best job growth in history, unemployment went below 4%, and the federal budget ran a surplus.
Mom: Hmmmm. Is there more?
Boy: Yes. In 2003 the pundits all said the Bush tax cuts would spur growth, shrink the deficit and reduce unemployment.
Boy: We had the worst job growth in history, unemployment went over 10% and the deficit ballooned.
Mom: I'm beginning to see a pattern.
Boy: The same pundits said invading Iraq would bring democracy, peace and prosperity to the middle east and destroy Islamic fundamentalism.
Boy: Jeez, Mom, don't you ever read the papers? The same pundits also said QE would spur hyper-inflation, drive interest rates to the moon, turn the recession into a depression and balloon the deficit.
Boy: Inflation is uber-low, so are interest rates, the economy has recovered all the jobs it lost in the great recession and the deficit has been cut by 2/3..
Mom: Didn't any of those pundits lose their jobs?
Boy: Did pigs learn to fly?
As someone who has relatives living in Israel, I'm only too well aware of the threat posed by Hamas' possession of sophisticated weapons. Israel faces a real existential threat and anybody who thinks otherwise is living in a dream world. And I'm aware of the tunnel network and that the current offensive is designed, at least in part, to locate and dynamite as many of the tunnels as possible. Nonetheless, Hamas has been more or less quiet for the past two years and there was some glimmering of hope for a detente. Not any more. It seems as if every time things look even slightly hopeful some nut on one side or the other makes it his personal business to destroy that hope by assassination, murder, or other means.
Your point about the brutality of Arab factions to one another in Iraq, Syria etc is well taken but it doesn't really change the fact that civilians are being killed in the hundreds which is a tragedy now matter how you look at it.
I promised Lan I wouldn't rehash the Iraq War with him but I would love to know what "gains" we made in overthrowing Saddam. Is the middle east more stable now? Is Islamic fundamentalism less of a force? Is Iran weaker than it was when Saddam was fighting against the Iranians? Are oil prices lower? Is Egypt more democratic? Is Syria peaceful? Has the Sunni insurgency become less violent?
As for Afghanistan, Obama is following the Bush Iraq playbook massively increasing the American troop presence in the country in the hope of stabilizing it and creating a national government that can hold the country together after we leave. It didn't work in Iraq and it isn't going to work in Afghanistan either. The Russians figured that out in the 1980s but I guess we think we're just so much smarter than they are that we can succeed in governing as a non-Islamic occupying force when they couldn't.
What do you imagine Romney would be doing if he were President? I can tell you: he would be doing exactly what Bush and Obama have done because the truth is we do not have the power to impress our will militarily on the countries of the middle east. We can blow them off the map; but we cannot govern them, either directly of through puppets.
First of all, Hamas did not "start it" as you put it. Three Israeli teenagers were kidnapped and murdered by a group of Palestinian gangsters not part of Hamas. The Israeli government knew less than 24 hours after the boys disappeared that they were dead and who killed them. (The government found the boys' bullet riddled car which had their blood all over it.) Nonetheless, the government kept the facts secret and lied to the parents of the boys. letting them continue to hope that their children might be alive. The government also did nothing to dispel suspicion that the boys had been kidnapped by Hamas. A group of Israeli teen-agers then took revenge by kidnapping and burning alive a Palestinian boy which, predictably, enraged the Palestinians. Hamas fired rockets, Israel retaliated with an invasion, and here we are. Israel's attack on Gaza (after 2 years of relative peace and quiet from Hamas, by the way) has resulted in hundreds of civilian deaths, at least half of whom are children.
There's no excuse for any of the murders but there's also no getting around the fact that if the government of Israel had acted promptly and truthfully and held the real perpetrators to account, there probably would not be a war today. But now that there is a war, it's all 'you're either for me or against me" and rationality is out the window.
So Obama is (in my view) quite right to express concern about the civilian death toll in Gaza and to press for a cease fire.
In foreign policy, the key word is "continuity". Obama's foreign policy priorities, his willingness to employ military means to deal with terrorists, his broken promise to close Guantanamo, his wariness toward Russia, his support of NSA spying, and many other actions are a continuation of Bush administration policies, as even #$%$ Cheney has grudgingly admitted. Yes, Netanyahu doesn't like him but,from my point of view, that's a plus for Obama. In spite of their personal animosity, Obama hasn't wavered in his support of Israel. Particularly at this moment, it would be easy for him to scold the Israelis for the ferocity of their assault on Gaza, but he has done nothing other than utter the predictable platitudes about the terrible toll the war is taking on both sides and offering to help broker a cease-fire, actions identical to those Bush would have taken in his place.
On social issues, he is more liberal than most Republicans, but came late and reluctantly to the support of gay marriage, waiting until nearly half the states had already legalized it before signing on . He has mostly stayed out of the abortion debate, though he is most likely pro-choice. He has deported illegals at 3-4 times the rate that Bush did--an action for which he gets no credit at all on the right--and is struggling to find an appropriate answer to the terrible humanitarian crisis on the border which would test the resolve of any President. I doubt, for example, that Marco Rubio, were he President, would find it easy to send children back to probable death at the hands of drug smugglers.
On economic policy, he appointed Janey Yellen, a clone of Bush's Fed Chair, Ben Bernanke, and has jet to order his Justice department to prosecute even one banker in connection with the massive frauds that preceded the Great Recession.
Bottom line is that Obama is much more like Bush than he is like Elizabeth Warren.
Put aside the overheated and typically fallacious bombast that fills the anti-Obama posts on this board and try taking a look at Obama objectively.
First of all, anyone honest will admit that it's far too soon to render an overall judgment on his presidency. We are just now beginning to get balanced assessments of JFK; later Presidents (Carter, Reagan, Clinton, Bush) are still being attacked and defended by their partisans, making sober assessment difficult, if not impossible. And there is the matter of sealed Presidential files, which generally contain information that colors and clarifies our understanding of events but which aren't available to historians for 50 to 75 years. But even with those major limitations, we can reach some conclusions.
First, Obama is moderately conservative Democrat. Only in the overheated atmosphere of the present day when conservative activists attack anyone to the left of Ramses II as a RINO, that would be obvious. Case in point: his flat-out rejection of calls from the left wing of his party for a "public option" in the ACA. But there are numerous other examples of Obama either trimming his legislative ambitions or making serious concessions in an effort to win Republican votes. He has done this so frequently, if has led many people in the Democratic Party to tear their hair out. Don't believe me, just drop in to Daily Kos and read the archives which are an encyclopedia of liberal disappointment.
It is also clear that he's not a big spender. As the Wall Street Journal was the first to report, federal spending under Obama is increasing at it slowest pace since the Eisenhower administration. For that reason, among others, the deficit as a percentage of GDP has dropped from 9.8% in 2009, when Obama took office, to 2.8% today, and the deficit scolds who were warning of Greek-style inflation have gone away. There's more but I"m running our of room.
Actually, the Bush administration was too busy touting "the ownership society" and taking credit for the fact that home ownership reached its highest level ever during his administration. Of course, it got to that level through reckless lending, liars' loans, and the incredibly foolish policies of Fannie and Freddie.
Bush, in his own words, used "the mighty muscle of the federal government" to increase home ownership levels.
--He proposed affordable housing tax incentives.
--He insisted that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac meet ambitious new goals for low-income lending.
--Concerned that down payments were a barrier, Bush persuaded Congress to spend as much as $200 million a year to help first-time buyers with down payments and closing costs.
--And he pushed to allow first-time buyers to qualify for government insured mortgages with no money down.
--He also leaned on mortgage brokers and lenders to devise their own innovations. And corporate America, eyeing a lucrative market, delivered in ways Bush might not have expected, with a proliferation of too-good-to-be-true teaser rates and interest-only loans that were sold to investors in a loosely regulated environment. But Bush populated the financial system's alphabet soup of oversight agencies with people who, like him, wanted fewer rules, not more.
Don't get me wrong, I think what Bush tried to do was admirable. But, as we know all too well, the road to Hell is paved with good intentions and Bush's "ownership society" drive is no exception.
If you have read any of my posts on this topic, you know that I don't believe in giving Presidents either much credit or much blame for what the economy does during their terms in office. My point in comparing the economy under Bush and Obama was simply to underscore how ridiculous it is for Rah to characterize the Obama Presidency as a failure while giving Bush a pass.
As for QE being a Ponzi scheme, well, we'll just have to agree to disagree. I think the Fed acted responsibly to head off a depression by using monetary policy as an economic stimulus. With interest rates at zero, the Fed had to turn to unconventional methods of stimulus and they proved moderately effective. This was especially important in light of the fact that Congress (via the sequester) adopted a contractionary fiscal policy at the same time.
One of the things that bugs me about political debate on the economy is the quick resort that both parties have to slogans in place of thoughts. If you listen to the GOP, low taxes and no regulations will solve every problem. If you listen to the Democrats, targeted spending increases and enhanced regulations will solve every problem. What we should be discussing (imho) is how to put the economy on a stable long-term growth path accepting as a given that the moderate welfare state is here to stay. No conceivable combination of President and Congress is going to do away with either Social Security or Medicare or (for that matter) most of the ACA, though it will undoubtedly undergo further modification in light of experience. It should be possible for mature adults to reach agreement on such a goal, but so far that hasn't happened.
First of all, the Fed is an independent agency. Ben Bernanke, the architect of QE, is a Bush appointee. He originally took office as Chairman on February 1, 2006, when he also began a 14-year term as a member of the Board. So Obama literally had nothing to do with QE.
Second, I don't think you understand QE. The Fed has been buying existing government debt in the open market. QE did not increase the amount of government issued debt, it moved the ownership of existing debt from individuals and institutions to the Fed.The forced exchange of debt for case was stimulative but the stimulus did not come from additional borrowing.
Well, let's see now. if Obama is an unmitigated disaster, what does that make Dubya?
Bush: Worst job creation record of any President since Herbert Hoover
Obama: Fastest job growth since 1999
Bush: Worst recession since Great Depression
Obama: Slow recovery, now speeding up
Bush: 7,000 point loss in the DOW
Obama 10,000 point gain in the DOW
Bush: Started pointless war that cost 5,000 American lives
Obama: Ended pointless war the cost 5,000 American lives
Bush: Couldn't catch Osama bin Laden
Obama: Killed Oasma bin Laden
Bush: Federal Spending Increased 8.1% per year
Obama: Federal Spending Increased 1.4% per year
I am not saying Obama is a great President but if you look objectively at their records, Bush makes Obama look like George Washington.
That might be the motto of the modern conservative movement. It's all for minimal government restriction on business, minimal government involvement in education, minimal government spending on infrastructure, minimal government support of science and technology, in short,in favor of freeing the wealthy and well-born from the burden of paying for any of society's needs other than, perhaps, the soldiers and police needed to protect the enclaves of the rich from the mobs of the poor.
On the other hand, modern conservatives are all for limiting the freedom of others to hold unpopular opinions.to marry the persons of their choosing, to manage their own reproductive lives, to work collectively to improve their economic circumstances, to obtain redress when cheated by corporations, or to keep their private lives private. The ideal modern conservative world is one in which they know everything about us and we know nothing about them, in which they can do as they please, and we must do as they command.
One reason I like Rand Paul the best of the modern conservatives is that he actually rejects most of the statist and oligarchic impulses of the movement. In a word, he's consistent in his Libertarian views rather than picking and choosing those political positions that most benefit him personally.
Seriously, you need help. All the provisions I listed, and many more I could have listed, originated in Republican legislation (as illustrated by the legislative history I attached) and were adopted by the White House and its negotiators in Congress. If that's what you mean by saying they were "copied" or "plagiarized" OK, that's your choice of words. But to deny the tremendous amount of Republican input into the bill is to willfully blind yourself. In the end, Republicans voted en masse against a bill that had been drastically modified in an effort to win their votes. That's their prerogative. But it isn't their prerogative or yours to pretend that the bill in its final form didn't have GOP input throughout because it did.
OK, here we go.
(1) Personal responsibility incentives. Sources: H.R. 3468, “Promoting Health and Preventing Chronic Disease through Prevention and Wellness Programs for Employees, Communities, and Individuals Act” (Castle bill); H.R. 4038, “Common Sense Health Care Reform & Accountability Act” (Republican Substitute bill); H.R. 3400, “Empowering Patients First Act” (Republican Study Committee bill); H.R. 3970, “Medical Rights & Reform Act” (Kirk bill), "Coverage, Prevention and Reform Act")
(2) Medical Liability Reform: ◦(Sources: S. 1783, “Ten Steps to Transform Health Care in America Act” (Enzi bill); H.R. 3400, “Empowering Patients First Act” (Republican Study Committee bill); H.R. 4529, “Roadmap for America’s Future Act” (Ryan bill); S. 1099, “Patients’ Choice Act” (Burr-Coburn, Ryan-Nunes bill))
(3) Extend coverage to 26. ◦(Sources: H.R. 4038, “Common Sense Health Care Reform & Accountability Act” (Republican Substitute bill); H.R. 3970, “Medical Rights & Reform Act” (Kirk bill))
(4) Automatic Enrollment and Employee Opt-Out: ◦(Sources: House Republican Substitute; H.R. 3400, “Empowering Patients First Act” (Republican Study Committee bill); “Coverage, Prevention, and Reform Act” )
I'm running out of room but maybe you can pull your head out of its current sub-abdominal location and read the facts.
My post wasn't as clear as it should have been, for which I apologize. Let me see if I can state my thought more carefully. I referenced Florida only because a federal judge just ruled against the state's current redistricting effort, not because that effort is an attempt to disadvantage one group or another. And as I said in response to another post in this thread, what most interests me is revisiting the question of whether or not federal courts should be involved in redistricting. In 1962-64, the Supreme Court gave an affirmative answer to that question and, as I said, I've thought since then that the Court got it right. But I'm having second thoughts as I see how extraordinarily difficult it is to create legislative districts that don't inherently disadvantage one group or another. Right now, gerrymandering of Congressional districts favors Republicans as we can see from the 2012 election results. But populations are fluid and the composition of districts changes with time. Case in point: Orange County, California, once reliably Republican, now reliably Democrat, entirely as a result of population changes. So maybe Frankfurter was right, after all, and we should leave the matter of creating legislative districts to the states, recognizing that at any given time, the resulting disctricts will be unfair to somebody.
Since you ask....there were hundreds of Republican ideas incorporated in the final bill. Here are a few of the more important ones:
- Includes personal responsibility incentives: Allows health insurance premium to vary based on participation in proven employer wellness programs
-Advances medical liability reform through grants to States: Provides grants to States to jump-start and evaluate promising medical liability reform ideas to put patient safety first, prevent medical errors, and reduce liability premiums.
- Extends dependent coverage to age 26: Gives young adults new options.
Allows automatic enrollment by employers in health insurance: Allows employee to opt-out.
=Includes mechanisms to improve quality.
I can, if you insist, list for each of the above the source in Republican amendments directly from the legislative history but I assume you'll take my word for that. If not, I'll give you the sources, chapter and verse.
And just what "power grab" do you have in mind? The law incorporated virtually every Republican amendment offered in the conference committee, with the result that it preserves and enhances the role of private companies as the univeral providers of medical insurance to people 65 and under. If Obama had wanted a power grab, he would have backed the Democrats who wanted to include a "single payer" option in the law. Instead he repudiated them.
You're a funny guy. A bunch of Republican-led states refuse Medicaid expansion, refuse to set up insurance exchanges, and refuse to allow the federal government to run exchanges for them and, what do you know, enrollment in those states is miniscule. Whereupon you announce that Obamacare is a failure because it hasn't enrolled as many people as projected!
Much more relevant is that the percentage of Americans without medical insurance has declined to its lowest level ever--which would be much lower but for GOP opposition--medical costs have not skyrocketed, young people are enrolling and they are paying their premiums. In other words, in spite of scorched earth opposition, a badly-botched roll-out, and a fundamentally awkward structure, the new health care law is succeeding in doing what it set out to do, bring affordable medical insurance to millions of people for the first time. I won't repeat my criticisms of the law which I've posted multiple times already. But I will say that claiming the law isn't working after you have done everything humanly possible to make it not work displays a breathtaking degree of cynicism.
I think your example is actually beside the point. Presidential votes are counted state-wide, no matter where they are cast, and Texas is a Republican state.
More to the point is the kind of situation that the Supreme Court found when it decided Reynolds vs. Sims. In that case, Alabama had been gerrymandered to the point that fewer than 20% of the voters in the state could elect a majority of the state senate. The "voting power" of residents of urban areas was 1/5 that of residents of rural areas.
But as I remarked to Spring, the interesting question--at least to me--is whether the courts should be making these kinds of political decisions. I used to think so but maybe because I'm an old geezer at this point I am less certain. Successful gerrymandering has lead to an interesting situation in many states where the Congressional delegation is disproportionately Republican, state-wide seats (US Senator and Governor) are competitive and the state as a whole votes for Democratic Presidential candidates. That was the situation in multiple states in 2012 and is one of the reasons why the Republican honchos didn't see Romney's defeat coming.
Back to Reynolds vs. Sims. There the apportionment favored rural over urban areas. This being Alabama, it's easy to imagine that division was a proxy for white/black. But the US Constitution itself heavily favors sparsely populated states at the extent of populous states via the two-Senators-per-state rule. If that's built into the Constitution, one might ask, why can't a state do the same thing without violating the Constitution?