Sunday, February 14, 2016

And the Fight Already Begins

Less than six hours after the death of Antonin Scalia the political battle has already begun with Republicans calling on President Obama to let his successor name Scalia's replacement.

No real surprise there. I figure there are two chances of that happening, slim and none.

The trick is to come up with a slightly left of center jurist who has impeccable credentials and who can project an air of competence and integrity.

There should be no shortage of such candidates and putting such an individual forward as soon as possible could land the Republicans between a rock and a hard place.

Either they allow Obama to appoint another fairly safe liberal voice to the court or they obstruct the nomination and risk a public backlash in a election year.

If I were the Democrats I would pull out all the stops on this one and literally go for the throat. If they're vicious enough they might even get both the nominee appointed and a negative backlash against the Republicans.

Of course they won't play hard ball because they're god damned pussies.

On the other hand, Obama could nominate an openly Gay Black Hispanic Muslim Atheist Illegal Immigrant and let the chips fall where they may.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Antonin Scalia is Dead

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, arguably the most conservative justice on the Supreme Court, was found dead at a Texas luxury resort.

I didn't agree with Scalia about much but there was no denying the man's towering intellect. He's been a fixture on the court and was the longest serving justice. He was appointed to the court in 1986 by President Ronald Reagan.

Good grief, 1986. That's a while ago.

Now the fun begins. Obama has to figure out how to get a Supreme Court nominee through a Republican senate that probably isn't going to be in any mood to cooperate.

He's got to find someone that isn't considered a firebrand liberal but can be relied upon to approach cases with an eye towards what makes sense in a modern world.

Scalia was something of a hypocrite. When it suited him he would argue for the expansion of broad generalities in the Constitution such as in the Hobby Lobby case and Citizens United. He found reasons to approve conservative positions.

On the other hand, in order to avoid progressive advances, he argued for a static Constitution frozen in the 18th century.

It should be interesting to see how Obama approaches this one. It is clearly critical that a new justice be appointed before the next election.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

New Hampshire Final Numbers

Things didn't change that much from the early going.

For the Democrats:

Bernie Sanders - 60.2%
Hillary Clinton - 38.2%

Apparently Clinton conceded as soon as the polls closed.

For the Republicans it looks like this.

Donald Trump - 35.4%
John Kasich - 15.7%
Ted Cruz - 11.7%
Jeb Bush - 11.0%
Marco Rubio - 10.5%
Chris Christie - 7.4%
Carly Fiorina - 4.1%
Ben Carson - 2.3%

This is a big win for Trump and unfortunately Cruz, may camels mash his little toes, managed a respectable third. Rubio came back slightly but still finished a disappointing fifth.

The rumor is that Christie is giving it up after this and Carson and Fiorina should seriously consider hanging it up after this as well but the word is Carson is already heading for South Carolina.

So now what? It's on to South Carolina.

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

The New Hampshire Primary 2

Well New Hampshire is underway and on the Democratic but things are a tad surprising on the Republican side.

For the Democrats:

Bernie Sanders - 58.32%
Hillary Clinton - 39.57%

Apparently Clinton conceded as soon as the polls closed.

Now for the Republicans. At the moment it looks like this.

Donald Trump - 34.20%
John Kasich - 16.01%
Ted Cruz - 11.59%
Jeb Bush - 11.59%
Marco Rubio - 9.90%
Chris Christie - 7.40%
Carly Fiorina - 4.43%
Ben Carson - 2.37%

This is better for Trump than predicted and what happened to Rubio? Did his robotic demeanor over the last week lead to this? Perhaps Kasich becomes the new establishment golden boy after today?

Trump could actually win the whole enchilada. Well that's better than Cruz but I just don't think he'd make a very good president. He's a showman and not a statesman.

Carson should seriously consider hanging it up after this and Fiorina as well but the word is Carson is already heading for South Carolina.

Sunday, February 07, 2016

The Economy

I was reading an article on how the Federal Reserve, and just about everyone else, isn't sure whether the economy is doing well or about to tank.

That was bad enough but then I read the comments.

I really love the comments. It's amazing how the government is hiding things when all of the information is publicly available and literally hundreds of people are analyzing that information and often coming to different conclusions.

It's also amazing how everyone seems to know more about economics than those whose career is the study of economics. Luckily I don't have to make a living from being an economist but I do have a degree in economics. Let me tell you, an exact science it's not. Let's start with understanding that the economy is always uneven. It's always the case where some people are doing well and others aren't. The so-called "indicators" attempt to measure whether more people are in the first group or the second group.

The economy is "healthy" if as many people as possible are in the first group and it's growing. That doesn't mean there won't always be people in the second group. Right now the East and West are doing better economically than the Midwest and South. The top five states in median household income in 2014 were Maryland - $70,004, Alaska - $69,825, New Jersey - $67,458, Connecticut - $65,753 and Massachusetts - $64,859. The lowest five states were Mississippi - $36,919, West Virginia - $38,482, Arkansas - $38,758, Kentucky - $41,141 and Alabama - $41,415.

And yes the cost of living in the states with the higher household incomes is higher but it's not that much higher. It's around 25%-30% higher than in the lowest states and a lot of that comes from housing.

So this is part of the problem. Not only is the situation murky but the recovery has been uneven. This is reality and it's what the article is saying. At least consider what the experts say. Don't accept it blindly but do your homework first before you reject it out of hand like I see a lot of people doing. 

We seem to have this knee jerk reaction to immediately reject anything that isn't dripping of bad news and impending crisis. Yes, be skeptical, but accept the facts as well.

Saturday, February 06, 2016

The New Hampshire Primary 1

On to New Hampshire as they say. This was where in 2008 John McCain established himself with 37.1% of the vote and the Iowa Caucus winner Mike Huckabee faded to 11.2%.

To my mind New Hampshire means more than Iowa on the Republican side because it's more representative of the national electorate. Iowa is too heavily slanted towards very right wing evangelical Christians who are also known as the village idiots.

On the Democratic side not so much because the New Hampshire Primary tends to be further left than the national electorate.

So what is fivethirtyeight.com saying.

On the Democratic side it looks like a big win for Sanders. Estimated results are:

Bernie Sanders - 57.0%
Hillary Clinton - 40%

This now looks like it's going to be a long haul which is probably good as it keeps the candidates in the news.

In the meantime Clinton is still way ahead in endorsements with 466 points to Sanders 2 (10 for governors, 5 for senators and 1 for Representatives).

On the Republican side Trump seems headed for his first win but Cruz, may his earlobes be infested with gnats, isn't doing that well. Estimated results are:

Donald Trump - 27.3%
Marco Rubio - 18,6%
John Kasich - 14.8%
Ted Cruz - 12.3%
Jeb Bush - 11.3%
Chris Christie - 6.8%
Carly Fiorina - 4.5%
Ben Carson - 2.9%

I'd love to see Bush get ahead of Cruz but even A fourth or fifth place finish for Cruz here wouldn't necessarily cripple him as he's still holding a close third in South Carolina and the primary in his home state of Texas isn't that far away.

Maybe they'll get around to testing the water in Texas before the primary?

As for endorsements Rubio is in the lead with 60 points, Jeb Bush has 51, Chris Christie has 36 and John Kasich 20. Ted Cruz is next with 19. Donald Trump and Ben Carson have zero. Even Carly Fiorina has three (the only three people in the country that didn't have HP stock I suppose).

The rumor is that Carson is almost out of money. If he drops out after New Hampshire that might unfortunately give Cruz a boost.

Two of my four nightmare candidates (Carson, Cruz, Huckabee and Santorum) are gone and a third is wavering. Unfortunately that means the remaining one, Cruz, gets the benefit of the other wing nuts falling by the wayside.

I'll even take Trump over Cruz.

Thursday, February 04, 2016

The Next SCOTUS Abortion Case

It's called Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt and it concerns a series of "regulations" passed in Texas to manage abortion clinics and "protect women's health."

Everybody understand that the objective of these regulations is to drive abortion clinics out of business. The law was written in consultation with Americans United for Life and the Texas lieutenant governor at the time the law was passed boasted that it would "essentially ban abortion statewide."

Yet, with a straight face, Texas lawmakers and their attorneys are contending it's not intended to prevent abortions but to safeguard women's health.

Ah yes, another example of Christian and Conservative dishonesty.

They're so convinced they're right that they have to lie about their motives.

Where I come from if you have to lie about your motives then you know damn well what you're doing is wrong.

Now obviously the court can see through the subterfuge but that doesn't mean they're going to do the right thing.

If the state of Texas can make a "good enough" argument that these regulations are within the framework allowable by the 1992 SCOTUS case of Planned Parenthood v. Casey then the court's conservative majority may well ignore the subterfuge and uphold it anyway.

The law would then provide a blueprint for other conservative states to follow suit. All in the concern for women's, and especially poor women's, health. Yeah, right.

Them Damn Welfare Cheats

This idea of lots of people living high off welfare is a myth. Republicans continue to pitch this nonsense while they pass more loopholes for billionaires to avoid taxes and provide more subsidies to oil companies.

Poor people aren't stealing from you. They're in worse shape than you are and would love to make a decent salary so they don't need government support.

Now let's look at the other side. Do you know what "carried interest" is? Your Republican congressman knows because this is the loophole in the tax code that they keep making larger and larger that allows people who make millions of dollars a year to pay Capital Gains taxes rather than income taxes at half the tax rate.

Let's see, what makes more sense, people who are poorer than you and are essentially divorced from the political process (in other words they don't even vote) are pulling strings to steal your hard earned money or people who are richer than you and contribute millions of dollars to Republican campaign funds are pulling strings to steal your hard earned money?