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26  Other Elections - Analysis and Discussion / Congressional Elections / Re: How can anyone say the GOP isn't favored to win the Senate? on: August 30, 2014, 05:06:52 pm
I see everyone ignored my question in the other thread, so let's try again:

With President Obama set to issue an executive order unilaterally legalizing millions of undocumented immigrants, how do you think this will impact the midterm elections this November, especially in the South?  Will this give the GOP the edge they need to win races in close contests in North Carolina, Arkansas, Kentucky, and Louisiana? 
27  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Pres. Obama Planning Executive Order on Immigration on: August 29, 2014, 08:48:57 pm
The White House Is Spoiling for a Fight on Immigration:
Obama seems determined to push ahead, despite the fears of some Democrats.


BY JAMES OLIPHANT
August 29, 2014


Quote
The White House appears to be moving full-speed ahead on an executive order that would provide widespread protection to illegal immigrants from deportation, Republicans—and maybe some Democrats—be damned.

Those close to the process expect an order in the first few weeks of September—and expect it, in the words of one immigration advocate, to be "significant."

White House aides stress that nothing has been finalized. Yet the administration's posture has been one of anticipating—even inviting—a highly public confrontation with Republicans over the issue. And while the concerns of vulnerable Senate Democrats in key races are being taken into account, they don't seem to be persuading the White House to deviate from its course—suggesting that the matter is viewed less in terms of the politics of the moment and more in terms of President Obama's long-term liberal legacy.

"Have no doubt, in the absence of congressional action, I'm going to do what I can to make sure the system works better," Obama told reporters at the White House on Thursday.
28  General Politics / Individual Politics / Re: You have to get rid of one of the amendments to the Constitution - which one? on: August 29, 2014, 08:31:55 pm
Preferably none of them, but if I had to choose, probably the 22nd would go.  
29  Forum Community / Off-topic Board / Re: Science Megathread on: August 29, 2014, 08:26:09 pm
In case anyone's interested:

A group of scientists have found, based on their study of 13,000 years-old nanodiamonds spread across from North America to Europe, that the cause of the Younger Dryas period was due to a comet impact that played a key role in the extinctions of the classic megafauna we all associate with the Ice Age -mammoths, cave bears, woolly rhinos, giant ground sloths, saber-toothed cats, etc.

 

We apparently helped them along...
30  Forum Community / Off-topic Board / American Southwest Could Face Megadrought This Century on: August 28, 2014, 07:17:56 pm
Many of you living in the region may want to consider moving out...

Southwest may face 'megadrought' within century, study finds

Aug 26, 2014 by Blaine Friedlander

(Phys.org) —Due to global warming, scientists say, the chances of the southwestern United States experiencing a decade-long drought is at least 50 percent, and the chances of a "megadrought" – one that lasts up to 35 years – ranges from 20 to 50 percent over the next century.



The study by Cornell, University of Arizona and U.S. Geological Survey researchers will be published in a forthcoming issue of the American Meteorological Society's Journal of Climate.

"For the southwestern U.S., I'm not optimistic about avoiding real megadroughts," said Toby Ault, Cornell assistant professor of earth and atmospheric sciences and lead author of the paper. "As we add greenhouse gases into the atmosphere – and we haven't put the brakes on stopping this – we are weighting the dice for megadrought."
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Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2014-08-southwest-megadrought-century.html#jCp
31  Other Elections - Analysis and Discussion / Congressional Elections / Re: Can you vote in the 2014 Senate elections? on: August 27, 2014, 06:45:51 pm
I have every intention to.  While Sen. Mark Warner may be favored (though not guaranteed -this is still Virginia, and it is a midterm) to win re-election, I am not about to take his coming victory for granted and just sit out the race.  
32  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: Would you rather live in London or Stockholm? on: August 24, 2014, 10:36:47 pm
Definitely London -if I could afford it.  Stockholm would be nice as a vacation stop (especially during the winter), with some really good skiing resorts nearby. 

Huh? Going to Stockholm for skiing makes no sense. The closest halfway decent resort is still like 6 hours away. The time to be in Stockholm is the Summer!

Well ideally it would be Oslo, but that option wasn't presented here.  And compared with the British isles, only Scandinavia has the mountains and snowpack that would remind me of the Cascades. 
33  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: Is this post racially insensitive? on: August 24, 2014, 10:34:07 pm
Not really -though I am (apparently) not the type who gets offended easily. 
34  Forum Community / Off-topic Board / Re: Which films coming out later this year are you most looking forward to? on: August 24, 2014, 10:13:31 pm
The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies

35  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: Would you rather live in London or Stockholm? on: August 24, 2014, 05:48:23 pm
Definitely London -if I could afford it.  Stockholm would be nice as a vacation stop (especially during the winter), with some really good skiing resorts nearby. 
36  General Politics / Individual Politics / Re: Does anyone still believe the Iraq War made the Middle East a safer place? on: August 24, 2014, 05:42:34 pm
With the way events turned out after the initial invasion, of course not.  Though I would be singing a different tune if the Bush administration been far more competent than it was, and chose someone other than Paul Bremer as the prefect of the occupation.  Someone who was intimately familiar with Iraq and the Middle East as a whole -and gave him (or her) greater autonomy than they did.  
37  Presidential Elections - Analysis and Discussion / 2016 U.S. Presidential Election / Re: Rand Paul writes TIME op-ed on Ferguson MO/police militarization on: August 24, 2014, 01:16:58 pm
This may be the first time I actually agree with him. 
38  Other Elections - Analysis and Discussion / Congressional Elections / Re: Who wins control? on: August 24, 2014, 01:08:40 pm
I expect to see the GOP in control of the upper chamber by this time next year, and (combined with opportunistic defections) with a margin large enough to survive 2016. 
39  Other Elections - Analysis and Discussion / Congressional Elections / Re: Who is most likely to pass on while in office? on: August 24, 2014, 12:44:20 pm
John McCain immediately comes to mind....   
40  General Politics / Individual Politics / Re: Summary of political beliefs on: August 24, 2014, 12:33:01 pm
Social/Cultural Hot-Button issues

Women's Rights: I support the passage of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, as well as the final ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment.  

Gay Rights: I applaud the Supreme Court decision striking down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, and support the passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act banning LGBT discrimination in the workplace.  

Race: Favor keeping racial/ethnic preferences for college/university applicants while adding new emphasis on socio-economic status and poverty so as to ensure that it is not just the middle and upper-middle classes who are the main beneficiaries of affirmative action.  Support ending housing discrimination against racial/ethnic minorities, as well as fixing and preserving Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (instead of scrapping them); the re-authorization of the Voting Rights Act (while taking into account Supreme Court concerns); ending the abuse of authority by law-enforcement agencies; and ending the 'War on Drugs' and the new Jim Crow regime by overturning the Controlled Substances Act, ending mandatory minimum sentencing, and instead direct our attention and funding towards prevention and treatment of addicts.  Also support abolishing the death penalty given our broken criminal justice system.      

Second Amendment: The Second Amendment was intended to be seen as protecting an individual right as with all the other original ten amendments that comprised the Bill of Rights when it was added to the Constitution.  When it was originally written, 'militia' connoted the entirety of the citizenry, not just a government-created body.  

Accordingly, I support concealed-carry, castle-doctrine laws, and other liberalizing measures. I strongly oppose gun-bans at any governmental level.  However, as with every other amendment, there are limits.

With greater freedom comes greater responsibility in using that freedom, and it is in that spirit that I support measures like mandatory firearms training and universal background checks before any gun or permit is issued, to ensure that the unorganized citizens' militia is well-trained and well-regulated.    

Economic issues

Education: Favor adapting the Finland education model to the United States, including a major expansion in after-school tutoring programs as well as universal pre-school education; and changing the traditional school year to a year-round schedule for struggling schools.

Tax Code: In addition to closing tax loopholes, sun-setting the alternative minimum tax, and setting the top individual income tax rate at 40%, I favor tax reforms including cutting the corporate income tax to 25%, and introducing the Value-Added Tax (superseding all preceding sales and use taxes) with the intention of encouraging savings and investment, expanding manufacturing, as well as increasing revenue.

Entitlement programs: I believe the Bismarck model of Germany and Switzerland is better suited to the United States than the Single-Payer system of Great Britain and Canada, and I support whatever measures that would help the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act evolve accordingly.  Among them, I favor federalizing Medicaid, a single national health insurance exchange, universal (and federalized) childcare, and medical liability reform.

To ensure the future of Medicare and Social Security for generations to come, I favor raising the eligibility age to seventy, raising the payroll tax as well as eliminating the cap on it, preserve as well as raise the estate tax, and indexing benefits to inflation as opposed to wages.  

Free Trade: Strongly support free trade, and favor the establishment of the Free Trade Area of the Americas, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the Trans-Atlantic Trade & Investment Partnership with the European Union, and the completion of the Doha Development Round of the WTO.  Also favor the upgrading and passage of the African Growth and Opportunity Act, setting the stage for a free trade agreement with the region.    

Immigration Reform: I fully support the provisions in the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act.

Energy Independence and the Environment: I support the federal coal-leasing program; increasing investments into clean coal technology; construction of the Keystone X-L pipeline; strictly regulating the fracking practices of the natural gas industry; as well as lifting the ban on exporting liquefied natural gas (LNG) and oil, especially to Europe.  

To build a more ecologically sustainable society over the long-haul, I favor expanding research into nuclear fusion and hydrogen fuel-cell technologies; increasing investments into alternative renewable energy sources like wind, solar, geothermal, and biomass among others; promoting energy efficiency in government as well as in private industry, using the LEED Green Building Rating System as a model; tax credits for hybrid vehicles; increasing the fuel economy standards for newer vehicles; gradually eliminating taxpayer subsidies for the fossil fuel and ethanol industries; implementing a carbon tax (superseding existing state and federal fuel excise taxes) to further spur these changes in energy usage; as well as beginning a 'nuclear renaissance' through the building of enough new nuclear power plants, and updating those already in existence so that 50% of our energy needs would be based on nuclear power.

I also support opening Yucca Mountain as a storage site for spent nuclear waste, as well as increasing our capacity for reprocessing spent nuclear fuel so that they can be reused and to reduce the total amount of waste that would have to be sent there.

Infrastructure:To ensure sustainable economic growth for decades to come, we need to rebuild our infrastructure for the 21st century, covering everything from transportation to water/sewer systems, and ports to cope with a growing population.  

NASA -Space Exploration: Strongly support President Bush's initiative to refocus the space agency away from the International Space Station (instead letting private companies and international space agencies fund the ISS upon its completion) and towards the exploration and colonization of the Moon and Mars.  I also support reviving the Constellation program; moving manned and unmanned rocket launch facilities HQ from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida to the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico -and distributing funding accordingly.

Foreign Policy

Support the ratification of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.  Advocate cultivating our relations with India through such agreements like the U.S.-India Civil Nuclear Agreement, with the ultimate objective of making India into an ally as special and important to the United States as the United Kingdom is today.  Support the reshaping of our military to better handle the twin challenges of counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency, including a major expansion of the Special Forces.

Favor moving our bases in Germany and Italy to Poland and Romania to counter Russian revanchism, and the leasing of bases throughout Southeast Asia (including Subic Naval Base in the Philippines) to help deter Chinese aggression.  Also support the modernization of our nuclear arsenal and expansion of our missile defense system to better protect our allies.

Democracy-Related Issues

District of Columbia: Support having the non-federal areas of DC retroceded to Maryland as the city of Washington, thereby enabling the residents within to be represented at all levels of government.  

Election Reform: I support mandatory, universal voter registration; and full mandatory public disclosure by all of all political donations and expenditures.  

I also support replacing the First-Past-The-Post system with mixed-member proportional representation with regard to the federal House of Representatives and state legislatures.    

In addition, I advocate eliminating the Electoral College and having the President elected by the national popular vote alone, contingent on Congress and the states ratifying the Right to Vote Amendment.  
-----------------------------------------------

In sum, I consider myself a liberal Democrat, heavily influenced by the 'Third Way' as exemplified by Bill Clinton and Tony Blair.  
41  General Politics / International General Discussion / Re: UK General Discussion on: August 23, 2014, 08:21:08 pm
With the referendum on the UK remaining within the EU coming up in 2017, are there any recent polls on the subject?  Would the Scotland referendum result have any impact in 2017?  Especially if the vote tracks with recent polls showing a solid 3:2 win for the unionists?
42  General Politics / International General Discussion / Re: U.S. Weighs Direct Military Action Against ISIS in Syria on: August 23, 2014, 08:14:23 pm
Good -it's about time.  We should destroy this organization root and branch.  And I doubt the Assad regime (and the other surviving rebel groups) will protest too much, even if we do bomb (ostensibly) Syrian soil. 
43  Presidential Elections - Analysis and Discussion / 2016 U.S. Presidential Election / Re: Predict who will be running one year from now on: August 23, 2014, 07:58:53 pm
Democrats:

Hillary Clinton
Bernie Sanders (newly minted for the primaries)

Republicans:

Jeb Bush
Rand Paul
Ted Cruz
Rick Perry
Bobby Jindal
Rick Santorum
44  General Discussion / Religion & Philosophy / Re: Ask TNF on: August 23, 2014, 07:47:09 pm
How can you ever reach an efficient distribution of capital, labor and resources without a free market system?  

How can you ever reach an efficient distribution of capital, labor, and resources with a free market system? The idea that capitalism effectively distributes resources, deploys capital, and utilizes labor is absurd when one remembers that we have both homeless people and peopleless homes and when we have something like 13 percent real unemployment and capitalists are moving production overseas or just sitting on their hands. But to answer your question, I think that under a socialist system, you would have far more efficiency because you wouldn't have a situation in which something like a fourth of the population is written off to unemployment, disease, starvation, ghettoization, etc. Labor-saving devices, which now exist to enrich the capitalist and make the workday worse for the worker, would be put to work for the worker and help get rid of the kind of mindless work many of us find ourselves in today. Capital would not be moved out of the country to increase the bottom line for capitalists; instead it would be put to good use doing whatever it is that needs doing, be it building solar panels or mass transit or building pre-fab housing. Resources would be distributed on the basis of need, rather than on the basis of ability to buy and sell.

Venezuela (particularly after Hugo Chavez took over) is the best living example of a socialist state today, and I cannot imagine you would regard it as an example for us to follow.  Or do you?  And why?  Or why not? 
45  General Politics / Economics / Re: Job Openings in U.S. Increase to Highest Level Since 2001 on: August 19, 2014, 06:56:44 pm
Not only are there more jobs available since 2001, the better-paying types are all making a comeback as well:

Better-paying jobs stage a comeback

By Ylan Q. Mui
August 17, 2014


Quote
The recovery in America’s job market is finally spreading to industries with good pay after years of being concentrated in fields with low wages.

Hiring has picked up steam in areas such as construction, manufacturing and professional services in recent months — sectors with a median hourly wage of at least $20. Nearly 40 percent of the jobs created over the past six months have been in high-wage industries, compared with just a quarter during the last half of 2013, according to an analysis by the National Employment Law Project for The Washington Post. Meanwhile, growth in many low-paying jobs has leveled off or even declined.

“I often hear that the recovery is only in low-wage jobs. That is categorically inaccurate,” Labor Secretary Thomas E. Perez said in an interview. “This recovery is creating a lot of good jobs.”

If those trends hold, economists say it could mean that the bumpy road back from recession is beginning to even out — particularly if it means that more jobs with better pay can help boost household income.

 
46  General Politics / International General Discussion / Re: BREAKING: American forces bomb ISIS targets in Iraq on: August 12, 2014, 11:32:21 pm
Maliki is pretty much done -and there likely will be no coup:

Maliki’s Bid to Keep Power in Iraq Seems to Collapse

By TIM ARANGO
AUG. 12, 2014


Quote
BAGHDAD — Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki’s defiant fight to retain power in Iraq appeared to collapse on Tuesday after his former backers in Iran, the military and his own party all signaled that he could no longer expect their support.

He issued a statement saying that the security forces, which he had deployed around the capital on Monday in what some took to be preparations for a coup, should stay out of politics. And the conversation in Baghdad shifted to how he would leave office and on what terms.

The shift came after Mr. Maliki made several last-ditch efforts to shore up support, only to be confronted late Monday night with delegations of officials, all pleading with him to back down for the good of the country.

The next morning, an important Iraqi Army general in Baghdad reached out to Iraq’s new president, Fuad Masum, and the man he nominated to be the next prime minister, Haider al-Abadi, and delivered the message that the military would not stand by Mr. Maliki, according to a senior Iraqi official.
47  Presidential Elections - Analysis and Discussion / 2016 U.S. Presidential Election / Re: Who is the most likely person to run for the Dem. nomination besides Clinton? on: August 11, 2014, 10:18:01 pm
Bernie Sanders -the party establishment will ultimately decide that a competitive primary is a lesser evil to another Ralph Nader.
48  General Politics / International General Discussion / Re: What should we do with ISIS? on: August 11, 2014, 10:14:05 pm
We should wholly destroy them and their network. Call in more carriers, more drones, more  bombers if need be. Seal up their routes to escape and take advantage of them congregating to dismantle them.  US boots on the ground don't work, but we must give the fighting advantage to their enemies and our putative allies. (<this does not include the vast majority of the Syrian groups we've been helping)

Not even Special Forces? 
49  Presidential Elections - Analysis and Discussion / 2016 U.S. Presidential Election / Re: Hillary Clinton vs. Jeb Bush vs. Bernie Sanders on: August 11, 2014, 10:05:35 pm
Time to revive this in light of recent events....
50  Presidential Elections - Analysis and Discussion / 2016 U.S. Presidential Election / Re: Sanders: Not sure about Hillary on: August 11, 2014, 09:42:55 pm
Bernie Sanders is definitely running for the Democratic nomination against Hillary Clinton. While I only see him winning the Vermont primary, he can potentially give Hillary Clinton a run for her money in the Iowa Caucuses and the New Hampshire primary by receiving 20-30% of the vote in them.

So you're thinking he will become a Democrat (last I checked, he wasn't) just for the sake of running against Hillary Clinton in the 2016 primaries?  
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