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26  General Politics / International General Discussion / Re: Ukraine Crisis on: February 17, 2015, 10:42:41 pm
Do bear in mind that Putin also wants the Baikonur Cosmodrome back, along with bringing the Russian population in Kazakhstan back into the fold. 
27  General Politics / International General Discussion / Re: Civil War in Syria on: February 17, 2015, 10:37:20 pm
Looks like the Hezbollah fighters in Syria are about to get a taste of their own medicine:

Syrian rebel leader vows guerrilla war in south against Hezbollah, govt

BY TOM PERRY
BEIRUT Thu Feb 12, 2015 12:58pm EST


Quote
(Reuters) - A Syrian rebel commander in the south vowed to wage guerrilla war against the Lebanese group Hezbollah and Syrian government forces which have launched a major offensive against insurgents in the sensitive border region near Israel and Jordan.

The offensive that got under way this week is focused in an area south of Damascus that is the last notable foothold of the mainstream armed opposition to President Bashar al-Assad, who has consolidated control over much of western Syria.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which tracks the war, says the push is being spearheaded by Hezbollah, and that government forces and allied militia have made significant progress.

The Syrian army said on Wednesday that territory including four hills and three towns had been secured from insurgents it identified as members of the al Qaeda-linked Nusra Front.

The mainstream rebels known collectively as the Southern Front are dismissive of Nusra's role in the area. The battle -- the most serious effort to date by the state to take back the south -- was mostly brought to a halt on Thursday by snow.
28  Presidential Elections - Analysis and Discussion / 2016 U.S. Presidential Election / Re: Hillary Clinton on: February 17, 2015, 10:14:00 pm
What is the difference between 'totally oppose', 'probably oppose', and 'would support any Republican over her'?
29  General Politics / International General Discussion / Re: Ukraine Crisis on: February 17, 2015, 10:09:04 pm
There is talk about Putin moving on to Kazakhstan once he is finished subjugating Ukraine.   
30  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: American West Will Face Mega Droughts in Coming Century on: February 17, 2015, 10:01:46 pm
     Settling Western North America in any significant numbers seems like it was kind of a bad idea. The area is ridiculously drought-prone.

At the time, we had no idea of the climatic history of the area, and for decades the mega-farms in California and the Midwest have done a magnificent job of feeding the nation and keeping us self-sufficient.  Now we need to begin to look elsewhere for our food supply. 
31  Presidential Elections - Analysis and Discussion / Presidential Election Trends / Re: South Carolina on: February 17, 2015, 03:51:36 pm
I am not seeing South Carolina going anywhere politically for some to come.  Of course, things could change in the next twenty or thirty years or so.  We could enter an economic boom (as it looks like we are beginning to), and see a new huge wave of immigrants (let's say from sub-Saharan Africa) flooding the Charleston (and Savannah) metro area in the wake of the completion of the Panama Canal expansion, and the subsequent deepening of the two ports.  Coupled with a renewed investment into our infrastructure, there could be plenty of jobs for all. 
32  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: Can we ban these "who was ____ when you/your parents turned ____" threads? on: February 17, 2015, 03:31:11 am
What about these particular threads disturb you so much, especially compared with the all other innumerable pointless threads that exist on this board?  How about the 'opinion of _____' threads?  Shouldn't those be deleted too?  Or how about the 'which city/state/country would you rather live in?' threads?  Do any of these threads have any redeeming value?  Oh, hell, why don't we just delete this board altogether?    

Why focus on this?
33  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: Who was President when your parents turned 18? on: February 17, 2015, 02:14:09 am
My parents belong to the Silent Generation -Dwight D. Eisenhower for my dad, and John F. Kennedy for my mother. 

34  Forum Community / Forum Community / Who was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom when you turned 18? on: February 17, 2015, 12:05:16 am
The one and only:

35  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: Who was president when you turned 18? on: February 16, 2015, 11:56:38 pm
36  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / American West Will Face Mega Droughts in Coming Century on: February 16, 2015, 06:24:44 pm
The worst in more than a thousand years, according to a new study:

Study sees even bigger, longer droughts for much of U.S. West

By Seth Borenstein
The Associated Press
POSTED:   02/13/2015


Quote
SAN JOSE, Calif. As bad as recent droughts in California, the Southwest and the Midwest have been, scientists say far worse "megadroughts" are coming and they're bound to last for decades.

"Unprecedented drought conditions," the worst in more than 1,000 years, are likely to come to the Southwest and Central Plains after 2050 and stick around because of climate change, according to a new study in the journal Science Advances on Thursday.

"Nearly every year is going to be dry toward the end of the 21st century compared to what we think of as normal conditions now," said study lead author Benjamin Cook, a NASA atmospheric scientist. "We're going to have to think about a much drier future in western North America."

There's more than an 80 percent chance that much of the central and western United States will have a 35-year-or-longer megadrought later this century, said study co-author Toby Ault of Cornell University, adding that "water in the Southwest is going to become more precious than it already is."
37  Forum Community / Off-topic Board / Re: House of Cards on: February 16, 2015, 11:47:40 am
Does anyone know the ratings of this incarnation of House of Cards, and how it compares to its predecessor?

I personally like this series, though it feels sometimes like I am the only one on this forum who does. 
38  Other Elections - Analysis and Discussion / Congressional Elections / Re: Predict the Next Democratic Wave on: February 16, 2015, 11:08:59 am
2020 is the magic year. 
39  Presidential Elections - Analysis and Discussion / Election What-ifs? / Re: Between Two Majorities: 2014-2030. on: February 15, 2015, 07:49:05 pm
Excellent timeline, and it is clear you have a gift for writing.



Republicans Take Control of Congress, First Six Months Unremarkable

Date: January - July 2015

(Washington DC) Republicans were gaveled in as the majority party on January 4, 2015. Mitch McConnell became the Senate Majority Leader, a lifelong ambition realized. Barely any conservatives dissented in re-electing John Boehner as Speaker of the House of Representatives in the formal vote.

And then, Republican leaders decided to do nothing. History would record this move as a tactic geared towards 2016.

The logic was interesting in itself, to later historians. Republicans were preparing to fight for the White House, and couldn't get much done with the current Democratic President. GOP leadership, extending a strategy begun in early 2014, chose to be as uncontroversial as possible. The tea party was greatly weakened, and needed time to focus on the Presidential race. The public at large had given the Republicans their majority and didn't look in the mood to take it away, as long as the Republicans didn't act "crazy."

The strategy had antecedents. The Republican choice in early 2014 to allow a budget to go through and to avoid a government shutdown had been borne out of the 2013 shutdown that had hurt Republicans in polls. They were rewarded with substantial and healthy majorities. The choice, then, was made to give the Democrats as little ammunition as possible to wield against the GOP.

Conservative firebrands were allowed to spout off. They were not, however, allowed to push shutdowns, or to speak for the leadership. Speaker Boehner and Majority Leader McConnell, their aides, and anyone connected to the Republican leadership were determined to let 2016 settle the question of who would control the government.

The President knew this. His slew of executive orders were designed to goad the more conservative members of Congress to push for greater pushback and to force the hands of John Boehner and Mitch McConnell. It was also designed to try to galvanize the Democratic base.

But as McCarthy and McConnell told the membership, it was a fool's gamble to take on the bull. The President's executive orders could be revoked by a new President (preferably a Republican). And in scope, these executive orders were constitutional. Once more, conservatives were allowed to grumble and to denounce the president as a dictator bent on forcing his will on Americans. Once again, the Republicans did nothing of substance, beyond condemning the President in press releases.

And they did the minimum required to keep the government running. No shut downs. Just a budget, and a few other bills. The budget was modeled on the Ryan-Murray model of 2014, and Republicans did not attempt to enact controversial riders. Oh, here and there, there were a few dramas, but nothing that would captivate the country at large. This was intentional.


In a strange way, historians came to understand, the theatrics served everyone equally. Conservatives could keep the base going, Republicans could keep pointing an angry finger at the President, the President could continue galvanizing the Democratic base, and crucially for him, building a legacy.

The true loser was grand compromises. Both sides were too far apart for that. And the truer losers were those advancing an agenda that required legislation. Tax reform once again died on the Hill. So did immigration reform. So did a number of other things, like infrastructure, renewable energy issues, and the like. Nobody wanted to risk angering the 2016 electorate, when the Obama Presidency was entering twilight.

And so it came to be that the 114th Congress would be among the least productive and sleepiest of all. 
 

I take it President Obama is not winning trade promotion authority in your timeline, and therefore not having any of his signature trade agreements (especially the Trans-Pacific Partnership) passing Congress.
40  General Discussion / Alternative History / Financial Crisis Begins December 2005 on: February 15, 2015, 07:44:30 pm
Let's suppose that the financial crisis begins two years earlier than it actually did in December 2005 (as opposed to 2007), with the worst occurring in 2006.  Now obviously we would get huge Democratic majorities in the midterm elections that year (possibly bigger than we actually got), but what about 2008?  Would Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton be better positioned to win the Democratic nomination if the recession hit two years earlier?  And what about the Republicans?  Would we still have gotten John McCain?

And yes, this is assuming Ben Bernanke becomes Federal Reserve Chairman as in OTL.
41  General Politics / Individual Politics / Opinion of the American System on: February 15, 2015, 07:33:45 pm
Here are its basic points:

-Support for a high tariff to protect American industries and generate revenue for the federal government
-Maintenance of high public land prices to generate federal revenue
-Preservation of the Bank of the United States to stabilize the currency and rein in risky state and local banks
-Development of a system of internal improvements (such as roads and canals) which would knit the nation together and be financed by the tariff and land sales revenues.
------------------------------------------------

Here is a nice summary of it from the US Senate website:

Quote
From the nation's earliest days, Congress has struggled with the fundamental issue of the national government's proper role in fostering economic development. Henry Clay's "American System," devised in the burst of nationalism that followed the War of 1812, remains one of the most historically significant examples of a government-sponsored program to harmonize and balance the nation's agriculture, commerce, and industry. This "System" consisted of three mutually re-enforcing parts: a tariff to protect and promote American industry; a national bank to foster commerce; and federal subsidies for roads, canals, and other "internal improvements" to develop profitable markets for agriculture. Funds for these subsidies would be obtained from tariffs and sales of public lands. Clay argued that a vigorously maintained system of sectional economic interdependence would eliminate the chance of renewed subservience to the free-trade, laissez-faire "British System." In the years from 1816 to 1828, Congress enacted programs supporting each of the American System's major elements. After the 1829 inauguration of President Andrew Jackson's administration, with its emphasis on a limited role for the federal government and sectional autonomy, the American System became the focus of anti-Jackson opposition that coalesced into the new Whig party under the leadership of Henry Clay.

As well as a link to Henry Clay's speeches defending the American System:

http://www.senate.gov/artandhistory/history/resources/pdf/AmericanSystem.pdf
42  General Politics / Individual Politics / Re: Grade William Henry Harrison's presidency on: February 15, 2015, 07:18:59 pm
His biggest disaster was his choice of Vice President.
Harrison didn't choose Tyler; the Whig National Convention did.

Agreed -didn't Harrison originally approach Henry Clay with the offer, who promptly rejected it in favor of remaining in the Senate?  
43  General Politics / Individual Politics / Re: Should the United States Senate be abolished? on: February 15, 2015, 07:11:38 pm
Yes, but only as part of a reform package that also establishes some form of PR in the House.

PR in the House + some sort of compulsory voting.

That might pass muster in Australia which was founded as a prison colony, but here in the United States where there is a higher emphasis on concepts like freedom and liberty, that would never fly.  The freedom to vote must go hand-in-hand with the freedom NOT to vote. 
44  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Why do Indian Reservations still exist? on: February 15, 2015, 04:54:39 pm
No, they shouldn't be abolished.  Most of them have been established by treaties.  Yes, this country has a bad history with how it dealt with Native Americans; however, the way to solve that is not to violate the treaties we signed with them because we want to "help" them.

I envy New Zealand -the British dealt with all the Maori tribes in one treaty.  We, on the other hand, have had at least hundreds of treaties with numerous tribes/tribal confederations that we have yet to honestly uphold.
45  General Politics / Individual Politics / Re: Should the United States Senate be abolished? on: February 15, 2015, 04:47:08 pm
No.

I can think of good arguments for bicameralism and the idea of a longer tenured upper chamber.

I can't think of any good arguments for the Senate as presently constructed.  The idea of giving tiny states' voters hugely disproportionate say does not make sense in a 50 state county.   Arcane rules like the filibuster do not make sense.  And, just historically, the US Senate has generally been an impediment to positive social change from the slavery debates to civil rights to regulating robber barons and industrial capitalism to the unconscionable obstructionism under Obama.

So, I would be fine abolishing it or drastically changing the rules and apportionment among the states.

Think about all the bills passed by the Republican-led House that the Senate has killed over the years.

That's true.  I was more thinking over the course of history in the long-run.  

The House has its own unique problems in not representing the views of the American people.  Over the course of history we haven't had the same type of sharp left/right divide between the cities and rural areas.  If you could reform the House to represent the national D vs. R vote somewhat closely and remove the absurd gerrymandering, you would solve that problem, but you would still need to address the Senate's undemocratic nature.

As others have pointed out, even without gerrymandering, Democrats would still be at a geographical disadvantage in the House.  

The Senate is a two-edged sword -it can act to slow positive social change as you put it, but it can also act to slow negative social change.  The Senate is working as it was designed by the Founding Fathers -to paraphrase, by cooling legislation passed by the more democratic, hot-headed House in a saucer.  

The Senate prevents us from heading rashly in one direction or the other.    

 
46  General Politics / Individual Politics / Re: Should the United States Senate be abolished? on: February 15, 2015, 04:31:26 pm
No.

I can think of good arguments for bicameralism and the idea of a longer tenured upper chamber.

I can't think of any good arguments for the Senate as presently constructed.  The idea of giving tiny states' voters hugely disproportionate say does not make sense in a 50 state county.   Arcane rules like the filibuster do not make sense.  And, just historically, the US Senate has generally been an impediment to positive social change from the slavery debates to civil rights to regulating robber barons and industrial capitalism to the unconscionable obstructionism under Obama.

So, I would be fine abolishing it or drastically changing the rules and apportionment among the states.

Think about all the bills passed by the Republican-led House that the Senate has killed over the years.
47  General Politics / Individual Politics / Re: Opinion of India on: February 15, 2015, 03:05:15 pm
Its caste system, rampant female infanticide, and societal repressive attitudes towards independent women are the only reasons why I cannot bring myself to vote 'freedom country'.  
48  General Politics / Individual Politics / Re: Opinion of Pakistan on: February 15, 2015, 02:41:34 pm
A failing state that should never have become a country in the first place.
49  General Politics / Individual Politics / Re: Grade William Henry Harrison's presidency on: February 15, 2015, 01:47:47 pm
How is William Henry Harrison 'conservative', and Martin Van Buren 'liberal'?  Do you have some sort of definition for these terms for antebellum America?  
50  General Politics / Individual Politics / Re: why are Lincoln and the US invasion of the CSA so universally popular? on: February 15, 2015, 01:31:01 pm
This thread is predictably inane....   
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