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News: Cast your Ballot in the 2016 Mock Election

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1726  General Politics / Political Debate / Re: What do you think the government should provide? on: December 15, 2014, 04:05:44 pm
My abstract/ideological/whatever priorities include:

1) Protection from violence and coercion
2) Material security (housing, health care, and a modest income sufficient to meet the recipient's basic needs)
3) Education (schools, libraries, internet access)
4) Functioning markets, as appropriate

In term's of OP's list:

  • Housing: Housing should be guaranteed for all. The best way to achieve this probably varies from place to place; what is most important is to guarantee that facilities are healthful and that the poor are not isolated from everyone else.
  • Child Care: Single parents are better off staying at home, living off of a basic income allowance, and caring for their children than they are working a menial job for the sake of "dignity," whatever that means. Children are better off if they spend their time under the care of someone they know rather than languishing at some substandard daycare.
  • Food: The basic income allowance should be kept high enough to cover food.
  • Transportation: Too complicated to address succinctly, and, like housing, should be tailored to local needs. Generally speaking, government should use a wide variety of policy levers to guarantee that people can get to work, go to school, buy essentials, visit health care providers, and generally go about their lives without owning an automobile. (And, probably more crucially, it should avoid policies that directly or indirectly subsidize motorists.)
  • Health Care: Something like Medicaid for all - with universal coverage for catastrophic care, at a minimum, and probably something more expansive for low-income children - with private insurance retained as an option for those who can afford it and care enough to bother.
  • Clothing: The basic income allowance should be kept high enough to cover clothing.
  • Personal Care: The basic income allowance should be kept high enough to cover personal care.
  • Furnishings: The basic income allowance should be kept high enough to cover furnishings.
  • Communication: The basic income allowance should be kept high enough to cover a basic cell phone plan.
  • Utilities: The basic income allowance should be kept high enough to cover utilities. (In some cases it might be more efficient to provide them with housing, but generally it's better to use price signals to encourage conservation.)
  • Education: Direct provision of schools (through the undergraduate level - although I don't object to school choice, as long as it isn't grotesquely over-subsidized in the way that private universities currently are), libraries, and universal internet access.
1727  Forum Community / Off-topic Board / Re: Album of the year, 2014 edition on: December 14, 2014, 10:16:31 pm
I'm not sure whether I'm being serious or not, but I've listened to Mouth Sounds and Mouth Silence too many times not to give them serious consideration in any year-end ranking. I mean, if Taylor Swift makes the cut, whether ironically or with complete sincerity, then why not?

Otherwise, most of my choices are included on the Album of the Year list: The War on Drugs, Todd Terje, Future Islands, Cloud Nothings (as an honorable mention).

On the other hand, any list that includes Morning Phase is immediately suspect. I don't particularly like FKA Twigs, either, and Salad Days made me want to drink bleach.

In any case, I have a lot of catching up to do once I've finished my exams, as usual. I've only listened to about half of the albums that have been mentioned here, and that's not even counting the My Chemical Snowman-type stuff on R2D2's list.
1728  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: Parting shots? on: December 14, 2014, 08:39:50 pm
Oh, dear God, it's that Ray Comfort.
1729  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: Parting shots? on: December 14, 2014, 03:05:34 am

On the other hand, we may already be witnessing the fulfillment of your prediction:

We are now seeing another apparent hiatus from the entity many refer to as “Our Dear Friend”; I can only state that this is certainly a planned action to consolidate more power/achieve additional nefarious ends, and that we are certainly in for dark times ahead.
1730  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: "Holiday tree" on: December 13, 2014, 11:55:07 pm
Coffee without caffeine! Beer without alcohol! Christmas trees without Christmas! Where will it end? What has our world come to?

1731  General Politics / Individual Politics / Re: Opinions on the following issues on: December 13, 2014, 02:32:16 pm
Abortion is a Women's Right:

Gay Marriage:

Affirmative Action:

Absolute Right to Gun Ownership:

Capital Punishment:

Prayer in Schools:

Make Taxes more Progressive:

Privatize Social Security:

Government playing a stronger role in Healthcare:

School Vouchers:

Legalize Marijuana:

Expand Drilling:

Animal Rights:

Pathway to citizenship for Illegal Immigrants:

Protectionism in trade:

Increase military spending:

1732  General Politics / Individual Politics / Re: Opinion of the "Cromnibus" bill? on: December 13, 2014, 11:36:09 am
Option 3. Elections are like court decisions: You argue the best you can to influence the result, but once the decision comes down you act accordingly. Both democracy and courts are a form of compromise, wherein we disagree on the end results but we all agree on the right procedure and the right rules.

Now 53 percent of Americans want Republicans driving the agenda, according to Gallup, versus just 36 who want Obama driving it. His approval rating is in the low 40s. Voters have just handed the GOP their biggest majorities since WWII. This is not the time for Democrats to my-way-or-the-highway it. (If that routine worked, the tea party would have triumphed. It did not.) The voters can and should have craptacular Republican policies if they want them. I predict more similar bills coming next year. So yes, the substance of the bill sucks, but this is how democracy works.

If allowing the Republican congressional majority to get much of what it wants is really a matter of democratic legitimacy1 why not just pass a short-term continuing resolution and settle the matter when the new Congress swears in next year?

1Not something that I'd grant after an election in which barely 1/3 of eligible voters turned out, to say nothing of the unrepresentativeness of the Senate or the structural Republican advantage in the House because Democratic voters are so heavily concentrated in urban and majority-minority districts.
1733  Presidential Elections - Analysis and Discussion / Presidential Election Trends / Re: When will a Democratic presidential candidate next win a majority of whites? on: December 13, 2014, 11:21:11 am
states that have high black populations like...West Virginia

Maybe, if you're referring to black lung disease.
1734  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Don't look now but the oil market is collapsing on: December 13, 2014, 11:07:24 am
...of course what this discussion leaves out is the (still highly controversial) conversation about methane leakage associated with natural gas. If the true amount of leakage is toward the high end of what scientists consider plausible, natural gas might be even worse than coal in terms of GHG emissions per unit of energy consumed.
1735  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Don't look now but the oil market is collapsing on: December 13, 2014, 11:01:24 am
Solar costs are nearly at parity with those coming from natural gas

What?! I call BS on that. And even if not, the issue of space would still remain a major barrier.

In terms of capacity, it's definitely true, albeit highly misleading. Depending on A) how expensive the marginal unit of electricity is during periods of peak demand and B) the capacity factor of photovoltaics in those periods, it might also be true of generation. But in isolation, it's not a particularly meaningful statement.

The Economist had an informative piece on the subject not long ago, which I assume you read:

1736  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: President Obama approval poll on: December 13, 2014, 10:54:41 am
Between the administration's handling of police brutality, the torture report, and Cromnibus, I've drifted from fairly solid approval of Obama into "somewhat disapprove."
1737  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: "Cromnibus" Spending Bill - Averting a Shutdown on: December 13, 2014, 10:48:18 am
I find this entire debacle nothing short of bizarre. The idea that Democrats had no choice but to support this - for the sake of moderation, bipartisanship, pragmatism, or whatever - is, in fact, more heavily political than the argument that they ought to have opposed it.

Raising campaign contribution limits, partial repeal of Dodd-Frank, even overruling DC's legalization of marijuana - these are policies that are unpopular even among many Republican-leaning sections the general public. It reminds me of nothing so much as the persistent, ridiculous argument that Democrats would be doomed if they didn't adopt Bowles-Simpson as the foundation of their federal agenda.

e: misplaced word
1738  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: Opinion of SirNick on: December 12, 2014, 06:43:11 pm
Are you OK?
1739  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: The Oldiesfreak Center for Freedom, Patriotism, and Consumer Choice on: December 12, 2014, 03:49:52 pm
There was never a shortage of oil that allegedly pushed the price up, the greed inducement by the Federal Reserve owners and its customers’- the investment banking complex, translation to the human term- Rapist. They, the rapist, received the 0% monies so to bid all the needs of human survival, commodities. Like with rape, it is a one sided pleasure where the raped are never whole again, in its life time.
1740  Forum Community / Off-topic Board / Re: What are your ten most played songs? on: December 10, 2014, 11:49:10 pm
TitD, not surprisingly, has a really great list. Especially the KC - I'm surprised that nothing off of Discipline made my top 10.

Here's what I see on my current install of my media player, but I'm not sure how reflective this is of my listening habits. As I get more into streaming, they become more difficult to track.

1. Grimes – Genesis
2. Delorean - Deli
3. Porcupine Tree – Lightbulb Sun
4. Delorean - Unhold
5. Broken Bells – The High Road
6. David Bowie – Life On Mars?
7. Yes - Heart of the Sunrise
8. Frost* – Black Light Machine
9. M83 – Midnight City
10. Supertramp - Take the Long Way Home
1741  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Americans Support Gun Rights Over Gun Control -Pew Poll Shows on: December 10, 2014, 11:26:46 pm
Fortunately, as Beet mentions, even as more Americans support so-called "gun rights," fewer of them have guns - although there's some evidence that they're less willing to admit that they don't own any. The following graph is instructive:

People like me - who both own guns and support strict gun control policies - must be increasingly rare. That's just as well, as long as this Second Amendment revivalist craze remains a part of the zeitgeist. No one demented enough to believe in the right to bear arms should be trusted with deadly weapons.
1742  General Politics / Individual Politics / Re: Best country in the whole wide world? on: December 10, 2014, 10:41:09 pm
I can't think of a more compelling answer than the United States, as gauche as it is to say so. (Obviously, this is not to say that Americans should go around shouting about it or, God forbid, using it as an excuse to ignore the country's innumerable failings, and it's a sad commentary on the typical attitude of "proud" Americans that I feel compelled to note this.)

This would not necessarily be the case if I were asked where I would prefer to live, or where I wish I had been born, but those are different questions. There are plenty of countries that are better than the United States in some sense, hence the long and usually tendentious lists of statistics that pop up whenever anyone asks this question.
1743  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Convicted Sex Offender wins big scratch-off prize on: December 10, 2014, 10:16:29 pm
Why, it's positively shocking that good luck not a direct predictor of good character. Did you think that the lottery was a reward for something?

It's people like this man who buy most lottery tickets. You don't play the lottery, except as a joke, unless you're too ignorant to know better, so utterly sapped of hope that you no longer give a crap, or a gambling addict.
1744  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: The 17th of July 2014 on: December 10, 2014, 10:07:19 pm
The precise date of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17's disappearance.
1745  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: Update for Everyone III - The Whinge Binge on: December 10, 2014, 04:30:03 pm
Today's commute:

1746  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: How long can you hold out? on: December 10, 2014, 11:26:03 am
As long as I had access to a decent library full of non-digital media, indefinitely. Although l'll admit that lack of CTRL+F might break me.
1747  General Politics / Individual Politics / Re: Where do you stand on abortion rights? on: December 10, 2014, 09:51:22 am
I've never heard a compelling point in favor of the idea that we ought to treat each fetus as a member of society, even in a limited sense.

That said, I would tolerate a fairly strict set of restrictions - a ban after the first trimester, say, which comprises the lion's share of abortions anyway - with comparatively little complaint if it meant diminishing how heavily the issue figures in our politics. The public debate is absolutely noxious, futile, and ridiculous. None of us profits from claiming that our opponents are irredeemable sexists or abettors of mass murder, and I doubt that most of those who make these claims actually believe them.
1748  Forum Community / Off-topic Board / Re: How much would you miss American Football if it went away? on: December 10, 2014, 08:33:22 am
Hopefully Americans would get into actual football as opposed to just mindlessly cheering on the national team every four years.

If there's one good thing about the popularity of "foot"ball in this country, it's that it has spared us from the popularity of football.
1749  Forum Community / Off-topic Board / Re: Do you buy into any conspiracy theories? on: December 09, 2014, 07:06:00 am
Ronald Reagan's staff recognized symptoms of Alzheimer's in his behavior by the last year of his first term as president.
1750  General Politics / Book Reviews and Discussion / Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? on: December 09, 2014, 07:02:45 am
I'm working through about a dozen books stowed in various shelves and crannies at my apartment. Here are a few of them:

Russia and the West under Lenin and Stalin, George Kennan
Evil in Modern Thought: An Alternative History of Philosophy, Susan Neiman (I made it about halfway through this one a few years ago... picked it up again over a recent lazy weekend)
Governing the Market: Economic Theory and the Role of Government in East Asian Industrialization, Robert Wade (surprisingly readable for economic writing)
Truman, David McCullough (too hagiographic to be interesting, but I got it last Christmas and feel obligated to finish by the end of the year)
Inside Terrorism, Bruce Hoffman
The Invisible Bridge, Rick Perlstein (I started on this one a few months ago, but I might put it down to read the entire series in order)
Corruption in America: From Benjamin Franklin's Snuff Box to Citizens United, Zephyr Teachout (I haven't read any reviews, so I have no idea what to expect from this one)

Also re-reading Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72... not a good book to work through during finals week, but whatever.
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