Saturday, February 20, 2016

South Carolina and Nevada

Trump wins South Carolina and Clinton takes Nevada,

For the Republicans:

Donald Trump - 32.93 % 38
Marco Rubio - 22.38 %
Ted Cruz - 21.76 %
Jeb Bush - 8.13 %
John Kasich 7.96 %
Ben Carson 6.85 %

For the Democrats:

Hillary Clinton - 52.53%
Bernie Sanders - 47.41%

I'm beginning to think that Trump may in fact win the Republican nomination. On the Democratic side it's perhaps not that obvious,

I shudder at the thought of a Trump vs. Clinton election and yet that's better than Cruz being involved at any level.

Friday, February 19, 2016

An Article about Social Security

I was reading an article about why there was no Social Security (SS) Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) this year and strategies one could follow to offset a future lack of COLA increases.

The article wasn't terribly informative but, as usual, the comments were.

I understand that a lot of people are angry but their anger is based largely upon misunderstandings.

Let's start with an observation. People are pissed off at "people in Washington." I can understand that but before you allow that anger to drive your actions learn how the system works.

It's amazing now many people believe things are are just not true.

- Illegal immigrants don't collect SS. As a matter of fact they pay about $15 billion a year into SS without any hope of ever collecting benefits.

- Obama doesn't control how money is spent. Obama didn't give illegal immigrants a raise because illegal immigrants collect no benefits. Besides, Congress would have to approve any such allocation.

- Medicaid is not paid out of the SS fund. There is separate federal/state funding for Medicaid.

- No one except Congress with approval by the President can divert money from the SS fund and the only diversion this year was into the disability fund which has been a part of SS since its inception in 1935.

- People aren't getting Obamacare for free.

- If you have a retiree health insurance plan from the state or the military these plans require you to have Medicare A and B and provide a Medicare supplement. SS is not forcing you to pay for something (Medicare) that you don't use.

Now, in general terms people are angry because they vaguely understand that Congress isn't giving them any help. Well, who's fault is that? The re-election rate for Congress is 96%. If you're looking for someone to blame, look in the mirror.

You don't like the way things are? Do you have any idea how your Congressman stands on the things you don't like? Do you even fucking know who your Congressman is?

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Mea Culpa, Mea Culpa

I simply hate it when I forget my own rules.

Yesterday I accepted a quote claiming that Charles Schumer (D-NY) said the following in a speech to the American Constitution Society in 2007.

"I will recommend to my colleagues that we should not confirm any Bush nominee to the Supreme Court except in extraordinary circumstances."

Perhaps my dislike of Schumer made me willing to accept that he said this when there was a possibility the shoe might be on the other foot in nominating a Supreme Court justice.

Besides, it was a hypothetical situation that never actually came up so it didn't strike me as being terribly important.

I forgot about the old quote mine. The dishonest practice of taking a quote out of context in order to change its meaning. In context, this is what Schumer actually said.

"We cannot afford to see Justice Stevens replaced by another Roberts or Justice Ginsburg replaced by another Alito. Given the track of this President and the experience of obfuscation at hearings, with respect to the Supreme Court at least, I will recommend to my colleagues that we should not confirm any Bush nominee to the Supreme Court except in extraordinary circumstances. They must prove by actions not words that they are in the mainstream rather than we have to prove that they are not."

In other words he was talking not allowing another far right conservative on the court despite verbal assurances that they would abide by precedent and NOT about blocking any and all Bush nominees.

I wouldn't expect the Republicans to approve a far left nominee that couldn't be relied upon to respect precedent under ANY circumstances.

So Schumer was talking about something totally different than what the Republicans are talking about doing.

The rule I forgot was to always, always, ALWAYS verify quotes especially when they so conveniently support someones position.

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 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?

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Two More Down

Both Rick Santorum, may camels urinate upon his eyebrows, and Rand Paul have announced they're dropping out of the Republican race.

Paul's dropping out should help Trump and Rubio in New Hampshire. Santorum was so unpopular there I doubt anyone will even notice that he's gone.

In the meantime Rubio is now pulling ahead in endorsements with 5 senators and 33 representatives but as yet no governor's endorsement.

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Iowa Caucus Final Numbers

If these numbers aren't "final" they're close enough I believe. I'm going to talk Democrats first because although Clinton "won," this is an amazing performance for Sanders who no one, including yours truly, took seriously when he first announced he was running.

Hillary Clinton - 49.86% (22 delegates)
Bernie Sanders - 49.57% (21 delegates)
Martin O'Malley - 0.57% (0 delegates)

For all intents and purposes this is a dead heat tie and Martin O'Malley has announced he's done.

Now for the Republicans.

Ted Cruz - 27.65% (8 delegates)
Donald Trump - 24.31% (7 delegates)
Marco Rubio - 23.10% (7 delegates)
Ben Carson - 9.31% (3 delegates)
Rand Paul - 4.54% (1 delegates)
Jeb Bush - 2.80% (1 delegates)
Carly Fiorina - 1.86% (0 delegates)
John Kasich - 1.86% (0 delegates)
Mike Huckabee - 1.79% (0 delegates)
Chris Christie - 1.76% (0 delegates)
Rick Santorum - 0.95% (0 delegates)
Jim Gilmore - 0.01% (0 delegates)

Obviously this is a big win for Cruz but I think Rubio gains even more. The Republican Iowa Caucuses have been much further right than even the Republican Party can stomach and I'm thinking Rubio collects the support of the party stalwarts after this showing.

Mike Huckabee has announced he's done. Santorum should go with him.

Monday, February 01, 2016

Watching the Iowa Caucuses

Right now Clinton and Sanders are basically in a dead heat.

Clinton - 49.96%
Sanders - 49.36%

On the Republican side it's:

Cruz - 27.72%
Trump - 24.42%
Rubio - 22.96%
Carson - 9.30%

At least on the Republican side all Iowa ever manages to do is galvanize the Republican elite. The people that attend the caucuses are so far to the right they're just not representative of anything other than the Iowa caucuses.

Mike Huckabee won in 2008 and Rick Santorum edged out Mitt Romney in 2012. Huckabee had something like 34% of the vote and was never heard from again.

Here's hoping Ted Cruz is never heard from again.

Looking at the numbers I have to believe that the big winner here is going to be Marco Rubio because he's someone that the party elites can live with and can rally behind. I thought it was going to be Bush but he looks like he's got no hope. Rubio has endorsements from 4 Senators and 23 Representatives. Cruz has endorsements from 18 Representatives. Trump has endorsements from no one.

Martin O'Malley has officially announced that he's suspending his campaign and Ben Carson says he's going to take a break from campaigning. Hopefully that's the last we'll see of Carson.

I've just seen that Mike Huckabee is suspending his campaign as well. Well Mike, we hate to see you go; we hate to see you go; we hope to hell you never come back; we hate to see you go. Good riddance.