Link Roundup, 2/25/16

From The Week: Obama’s genius tactical move on the SCOTUS appointment

From The New York Review of Books: How long can Putin hold on?

From Slate: Is your boss reading your email?

From PRI: What really happens to former GITMO detainees?

From Aeon: Would we know whether our machines had achieved consciousness?

From Bloomberg: The increasingly difficult abortion business

Chris Ladd is a Texan living in the Chicago area. He has been involved in grassroots Republican politics for most of his life. He was a Republican precinct committeeman in suburban Chicago until he resigned from the party and his position after the 2016 Republican Convention. He can be reached at gopliferchicago at gmail dot com.

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202 comments on “Link Roundup, 2/25/16
  1. flypusher says:

    True confessions time- a while back I actually stated on this very blog that I was considering voting for Christie in the GOP primary. Just saw him on “This Week”. Day-yum. I have avoided making a mistake.

  2. Rob Ambrose says:

    Not sure if it’s been talked about yet, but what are the odds of a Cruz 3rd party run?

    I think he genuinely believes that America is a very conservative nation (which it isn’t) and that it only SEEMS so liberal because of that pesky “libral media” bias. For a man as ambitious as Cruz and with that kind of worldview, I could see him running a 3rd party.

    • flypusher says:

      There’s only so much popcorn out there.

    • 1mime says:

      The only person I can envision running as a third party candidate would be Trump, if the RNC and their mega donor group push Rubio ahead as the party nominee. I think this would royally piss Trump off and he would go all out to call them out.

  3. johngalt says:

    The Trump phenomenon puts paid to a favorite conservative/Tea Party pet theory: that if only the GOP had nominated a “Real Conservative”™ the party would have won in 2008 and 2012. The entire Cruz campaign is predicated on this idea – he’s the true believer that will get out the hidden conservative vote to win in November. 538 had a column on why this is not going to work ( from a numbers perspective.

    But Trump has blown this idea out of the water. His supporters don’t care about Cruz-style conservatism. They don’t want ever-smaller government (Trump is saying a lot of big-government stuff: walls, tariffs, deporting Muslims and immigrants, and bringing jobs home). He even uttered the heresy of saying the liked the ACA individual mandate. And yet he just gets stronger in the polls.

    Trump is winning the God, guns, and guts crowd – lower class whites. This demographic has been utterly lost in the changing economy and has few prospects ahead. They think that nobody is looking out for them, and they are right. They are angry, and have a right to be, and project this anger on the Democrats – because Democrats, so the theory goes, want to take their tax dollars and give it to ne’er-do-wells (and, unspoken, that the recipients often don’t look like us). Democrats also sold them out on free trade. Ironically, though, they would be the biggest beneficiaries of a lot of Democratic policies. In other words, put a union card in their pockets, and they are Democrats.

    They don’t like mainstream Republicans either. Romney made his money in hedge funds, precisely the Wall Street voodoo they don’t understand, but makes fat cats rich at their expense. Gated estate Republicans are the ones that shipped their jobs to China or Mexico. They want something different – anything, really. Trump is a star of their kind of TV, the reality kind, and he presents a powerful image of getting stuff done (no matter how contrived this is). Trump made money the old-fashioned way, by inheriting it and then buying and selling real things, buildings, not some new-fangled internetty toy. (Hammering Trump on his clothing line and the Florida resort would be effective).

    The GOP has totally misread these tea leaves. These voters don’t want Cruz conservatism. Trump tells them what they want to hear and in his arrogance it doesn’t seem that hard to do. Build a wall, Mexico will pay for it. Tell China what the new deal is. It’s all simple. This confirms to them that they’ve been sold up the river by politicians who are working for everyone but them. Beating Trump (in the primary) requires a strategy that convinces these voters that he is playing them too and that his arrogance is a facade. Lure him into a couple of public temper tantrums (not easy, but do but possible) and his support would start to crumble. The good news is that there are not enough possible Trump supporters out their to win a general election. I hope.

    • flypusher says:

      I think there’s more than enough people out there horrified by Trump to do that, IF they get out and vote.

      It’s a risky political game here, but if Trump takes out Cruz and he doesn’t win the White House, he will have done this country a great service. He’s also doing the GOP a service too, if his exposure of all the rot in the party gives people like Chris the opportunity to rebuild.

      • 1mime says:

        There’s still Rubio lurking in the shadows. Lifer hasn’t weighed in on whether he believes the GOP will learn from a crushing defeat – if it happens – which, despite my fervent hope, still could go their way….Knowing the RNC, they’ll spin it to an errant Trump disaster over which they had no control………How many candidates were on that first Republican debate stage? Fifteen? Not one of them can touch Trump? There’s no message there for Republicans? I doubt they’ll read the tea leaves. They are so used to spin and obfuscation that they simply can’t see the truth when it’s right in front of them.

    • Bobo Amerigo says:

      In the FWIW department, I was checking out at the Bunker Hill HEB early yesterday morning (good music blaring, few shoppers).

      Three people, one older beige woman and two millennials, one black, one white; amazingly, we three agreed on these things:

      1) Bernie’s ideas are attractive

      2) Hillary is likely the most qualified presidential candidate ever

      3) Trump is not universally popular and would likely lose the election

      All this and it wasn’t yet even 6:15 am in Houston.

      • 1mime says:

        In the Bunker Hill area, the reason there was so much diversity was….ta da…the 6am ish time frame. All the White leisure (Republican) women were still at home…(-; …. Believe me, I know some ladies from that zip code…

  4. Rob Ambrose says:

    Trump won’t denounce David Duke endorsement. When asked if he could at least repudiate the KKK, he says he “needs to do more research on them”.

    What a freaking scumbag.

  5. texan5142 says:

    Watching Cruz on Fox this morning, what a fricking weasel that man is. He flip flops more than a freash caught fish on the Texas city dike. He lies with ease just like every evangelical I have every met.

    • texan5142 says:

      Empty suit Rubio talking about losing the conservative movement, you know what else is called a movement…. I have had my coffee… time for a conservative movement.

    • flypusher says:

      Just saw an anti-Trump ad (didn’t read the fine print, but it was probably Cruz’s people). Their selected quotes to prove that he is unworthy? He praises Planned Parenthood, the idea of universal health car, and worst of all, HE SAYS NICE THINGS ABOUT HILLARY!!!!!!!! ZOMG.

      If anyone doubted that our political discourse is all FUBAR, that illustrates it vividly. Some people get offended because Trump once said that Hillary was a good person, but all that racist garbage he’s currently vomiting out isn’t attack ad fodder.

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        Isn’t it absurd? Its f’n bizarro world with these nutcases. Up is down, left is right, black is white.

        To focus your attacks on his support for not letting ppl die on the streets while ignoring the many, many things actually wrong with candidate Trump prices the absolute moral bankruptcy of the “conservative movement”.

      • 1mime says:

        Oh, the GOP doesn’t want “all” people to die in the streets, just those who are takers and don’t vote for them (-:

        They’re not all bad!

      • johngalt says:

        Exactly. Cruz has absolutely no idea what motivates Trump supporters. They couldn’t give a rat’s behind about PP and they’re probably benefitting from the ACA.

      • 1mime says:

        “They’re probably benefiting from the ACA………and bitching about it the whole time like my sprinkler repair guy. Obamacare costs too much! Where I am right in sync with conservatives is that many, many people have become so used to living off the taxes of others, that when they are finally required to contribute, they just can’t handle it. I know the ACA premiums have gone up – guess what – so have all other premiums in the private sector – and for those who are on Medicare (deductible increases as well).

        Supposedly, Ryan has a team working on an alternative plan to the ACA. You know what, if it’s better and ensures more people – that would be great. The GOP doesn’t have a very good track record with provision of quality, affordable, accessible health care for all people. Their private insurance model benefits a narrow slice of our population. Still, anyone who owns property and pays taxes has to realize that we pay for the uninsured one way or the other. It’s dishonest to not be up front about that.

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        I should point out, this is precisely the wrong strategy.

        As John says, Trumps voters could care less about those things.

        I think Trumps soft spot is things like hiring foreign workers and the Trump U thing.

        Also, those stubby fingers.

      • 1mime says:

        Ego – that’s what can trip Trump up. Rubio laughed at him in the debate and Trump was flummoxed. He can’t stand ridicule, just as most ego-driven, narcissistic people can’t. That is his Achilles heel. Of course, the GOP is realizing this so late that Trump will adjust…He has handlers who are reading Politico too. They will see these suggestions to “bait” Trump and poke fun at him and prepare him accordingly. Trump is in this race to win. He won’t be derailed by Rubio making inane comments like Trump wet his pants, or laughing without paying a price. Say what you will about Donald Trump. He doesn’t like to lose and he will fight you. Plus, he doesn’t give a &*@% what anyone in the RNC thinks because, and, he knows it full well. He also knows the RNC can’t stand him and their sucking up will be patently clear to the Don. He is a despicable man to be running for the POTUS, but he may be just the man to tell the Republican Party to go stuff themselves. After all, defeats in ’08 and ’12 didn’t seem to faze the GOP because they won so convincingly at the state and Congressional level. The Presidential “golden ring” that is eluding them thus far is a tolerable price to pay for controlling everything else – which they are.

  6. MassDem says:

    Thank you, South Carolina. 💕

    Super Tuesday is upon us. Fingers crossed that Clinton wins in MA. That would be the doom of Sander’s campaign; he needs us to win. Recent polls show her pulling ahead here.

    On the other hand, the Republicans and many Independents are all set to vote for Trump. He is insanely popular here–20 pts ahead of his nearest rival, the hapless Rubio.

    Who do you guys favor for the other GOP nom race? Mellie or Susan?

  7. Rob Ambrose says:

    Obama getting some big dividends from the Iran deal. Hard to imagine the same result if we had listened to Tom Cotton.

    History is going to smile on Barrack Obama when all is said and done.

    • 1mime says:

      Tom, who? (-:

      I agree. He had a lot to learn about governing but with his intelligence, poise, and a fine moral compass (and a thick Black skin), I agree. I believe history will be kind to Obama.

    • 1mime says:

      SOS Kerry has been exceptionally hard working and should get a ton of credit for his patience, persistence and achievement. It still makes me mad to think of those phony Swift Boat ads that doomed his run for Pres. Dirty politics. At least he’s having the last laugh – doing things that matter deeply to the world at large. Take a bow, Kerry!

    • Rob Ambrose says:

      That seems wildly out of touch Mime. When a billionaire says “well, hey, everything in MY neighbourhood is great, so things must be a-ok” its tough to take that too seriously.

      Buffet is looking at the traditional economic indicators, and they are mostly quite favorable. The size of America’s pie is not the issue. Its how that pie is divided that’s the problem.

      I do believe that inequality creates intense instability in a society in and of itself. It is not enough to say “let’s increase the size of the pie” if the underlying inequality isn’t changed.

      • 1mime says:

        Buffet is on board with this as well, Rob. I don’t know how closely you follow him, but he lives a pretty spartan life – same home for decades – a modest ranch – has been vocal about income inequality as a problem and tax reform as a necessity for the average middle class person to even the playing field, is giving all of his money away (along with Bill Gates). Trust me, he deals in billions, but he has never lost sight of the middle class. You would enjoy reading more about him. He’s most interesting. I have watched dozens of interviews of him over the years and he is smart, has a great sense of humor, and yet remains honest and humble. Pretty amazing individual. I guarantee, he will be remembered fondly.

        Prepping for the 2016 election by watching: One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest….Every four years….(-:

      • 1mime says:

        One more point about Buffet – he is a “bull” where the USA is concerned. When he’s interviewed, he is a realist but he’s positive. What he was doing in this politico interview was making a political statement, i.e., don’t scare people to win votes. Believe in America and build on what’s good. Buffet respects good management. In fact, after he does his financial analysis on a company he is considering investing in, he said he doesn’t tell management anything. If they are doing a good enough job for him to buy stock in, they need freedom to continue doing their job as they see fit. He doesn’t micro-manage and he doesn’t threaten or misrepresent. Anything.

      • Ryan Ashfyre says:

        Buffet’s essential view can be said to mirror FDR’s in that America is a Rising Road and that everything is going to be alright. Whatever you might think of the inequality that plagues Americans today, this is a fantastic time to be alive as we continue the fight to reform our politics and get this country on the right path again. 🙂

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        I understand that, as far as a CH white billionaires go, Buffet is one of the good guys. He favors higher taxes on the rich (including himself) and he has bequeathed the bulk of his fortune tonthe Bill and Melinda Gates foundation when he dies.

        I think his heart us in the right place. I also think that one of the top 5 richest people in the entire world is likely not the most credible source of whether things are good for all segments of society, no matter how good their intentions. They are simply too insulated from the rest of society to “get it”. Buffet using his ” upper middle class” neighbours as his proxy for America is just not going to give an accurate picture.

      • 1mime says:

        Possibly, but at least he’s aware, sensitive to real problems inherent in an upside down economy, and is putting his own money where his mouth is. In doing so, he’s way ahead of most of the rest of the billionaire pack….or, millionaire pack….or, upper 25% of our society.

        Buffet gets it.

      • johngalt says:

        Rob, go read the entire section in the Berkshire letter in mime’s link. It’s far more nuanced than you’d get from the quotes in the article. His point about the kids in his neighborhood is that they live better than John Rockefeller in his day, given the staggering pace of technological progress. He also argues that the pie is growing and that there will be struggles about how to divide that pie to be determined by those for whom we vote, but that everyone will continue to become better off. It runs from the bottom of page 7 to page 8.

      • 1mime says:

        Maybe that old fox is more politically savy than we give him credit….

        Per Steve Forbes, Trump is always upbeat – nothing is impossible – and he will take some Democratic voters from Hillary & Sanders.


        Duh, Forbes….And Hillary and Sanders are taking some voters from the GOP. They’re called independents and moderates. Only time will tell how this will turn out.

        Speaking of speaking from a rarified climate – Forbes graduated (cum laude – good for him) from Brooks Academy – ANNUAL tuition for day students – $42, 450, then went on to Princeton. Rob, speaking of being able to relate to ground level issues for all Americans – should we give credence to Forbes views on what motivates working class people? This is such a crock. If he weighed in on what motivated voters who are the sons of wealthy scions – I’d listen hard. Working class people? Not really. I have to confess that it’s a lot easier to be upbeat when you are a billionaire….no college loans, no mortgage, no health insurance worries, great retirement, such nice friends……Where’s the downside?

        Gotta keep your name out there, though. You go Steve! Stay relevant.

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        John, I get it. I’m still not convinced though.

        I don’t think by comparing how rich kids live today with how rich kids USED to live is the right way to measure these things.

        Although Buffet is surely more enlightened then his peers, he still is under the false assumption that the size of the pie is much more important then minor details like how its divided.

        I personally believe that is false. While Buffets opinion seems intuitive; after all, why does it matter how much some one ELSE has as long as you have enough to live on. But that’s just not how humans work. Our brains aren’t wired that way and I believe that a society with too much inequality is inherently unstable and ubsustainable.

        I believe that it would be better to have a significantly smaller pie if it meant that the wealth was divided more equally, rather then a significantly enlarged pie with the same proportion if inequality.

        Remember it isn’t just about money, or even MOSTLY about money. When too much wealth is concentrated in too small amount of people (no matter how huge the overall pie) you get a fundamental threat to democracy, as those at the top enjoy hugely disproportionate political influence, which they then use to further benefit themselves.

        This problem is not solved one iota by merely enlarging the pie.

        So, I stand by my point that Buffet, although well meaning, is not the person to tell the rest of us that things have never been better, and to gently scold those who would be attracted to a guy like Bernie Sanders.

  8. Ryan Ashfyre says:

    An absolutely overwhelming victory for Hillary Clinton in South Carolina. With a landslide of support among African-American voters, she took every single county and eclipsed Sen. Sanders by almost fifty points. I was honestly shocked when I saw the margin.

    • 1mime says:

      Analysis I read said that 6 of 10 Democratic voters in SC were Black. In the Republican primary, 98% of voters were White. That means that 4 of 10 Democratic voters are a race other than Black. If Hillary won in a landslide, that means she is picking up those voters as well.

      This may be a major turning point in her race. I can’t wait for the results Tuesday for both parties. That will really begin to tell us a great deal. Rest assured, the GOP establishment is doing some deep thinking about now.

  9. flypusher says:

    Hey Chris, maybe your local/state party doesn’t have to endorse Trump after all:

    Wishing you much success in picking up the pieces.

    • Griffin says:

      But regardless of who wins we all lose. We have, on one side, wannabe plutocrats who endorse flat taxes, deregulation, social spending cuts, and tax cuts for the highest brackets that will leave us with extreme economic recessions and such massive social inequality that we would have serious political instability on our hands. In order to maintain power they are pay lip service to religious fundamentalists which basically throws gays and women under the bus, as well as pandering to the far-right to maintain their position in the primaries. And their foreign policy would get us into even more unneccessary wars.

      On the other side we have nativist, authoritarian, populist quasi-fascists in the European mold who are economically centrist but are ultra-protectionist on trade and are even further right on social issues than the old GOP is, and they don’t just pay lip service but are dead serious about it.

      Who do I root for?

      • 1mime says:

        Surely, ye jest?

      • flypusher says:

        “Who do I root for?”

        I’m rooting for a series of events. First Trump needs to take out Cruz, as he is the worst of the GOP batch. Then let there be a brokered convention, which does not result in Trump being the nominee. After that there’s no one for many of us to root for on the GOP side, for the very reasons you mentioned above, so vote Dem. Which I imagine you’re already planning to do.

      • Griffin says:

        @1mime I’m overstating it a bit for effect but there are no sympathetic sides in the GOP civil war. Marco Rubio would basically redistribute wealth upwards, while Donald Trump is indifferent to economic policy but would endanger lives by pushing for mass deportation. All the “GOPLifer” Republicans are inconsequential as of now (no offence Lifer) as they have zero influence over either side.

      • 1mime says:

        I have looked at the analysis of the 3 major candidates tax plans. None of them pass muster. This is especially important for a Republican candidate as they are far more likely to cut funding for programs I support in order to cut taxes for those at the top. I don’t trust their funding priorities and I don’t agree with continuing to expand our military at the expense of other areas of the budget. Further, I do not trust any of the 3 top candidates on decisions of grave national security. There has been too much indication of bombast and not nearly enough of a deliberative process.

        In short, there is not one candidate among the top runners that is acceptable to me. Thus, the choice is between Sanders and Clinton and I simply maintain that Hillary will be a steady, experienced, wise leader. The Republican Party at present has nothing to offer me except divisive governance. We need to move beyond that as a nation and they are simply unwilling to make the changes necessary to lead our country.

        I’m voting Democrat. I’m voting for Hillary if she is the nominee.

      • Griffin says:

        So will I but she’s going to need Sanders to campaign on her behalf to get young voters out.

        Here’s what should happen; Clinton wins nomination, Sanders helps her campaign, Clinton becomes President, Clinton makes Sanders Secretary of Labor. Everyone (on the Democratic side) wins.

      • 1mime says:

        That’s interesting, Griffin. Another post that would mean a lot to Sanders is the VA.

    • 1mime says:

      Here is a concern I have for the aftermath of the 2016 election. Scenario 1: Hillary is the nominee and wins, Dems don’t gain enough Senate seats to be functional, and, the House remains in GOP hands. Why should anyone expect more cooperation from Republicans than we’ve seen during Obama’s tenure? The hard lines I see being drawn by Republicans right now (blocking the President from his right to a SC nomination hearing and his right to have his annual budget presented before the House – both of which are highly unprecedented) doesn’t give me hope that any lessons are being learned by the GOP.

      Lifer, you’ve stated that a catastrophe will be necessary for the Republican Party to make substantive changes. What is your take under the first scenario? In scenario 2, Hillary wins, Senate stays in majority GOP hands, as does the House. She will be in a worse position than Obama because she’s less well liked and will be functionally crippled for her term(s). Scenario 3: Republicans win the presidency (with “whoever”), keep the Senate and House. What should America expect then?

    • 1mime says:

      One of the interesting facts included in the Vox article about rural coops going with solar, is that they were originally created as non-profits. I don’t know if all today are non-profit, but assume that many are. That would certainly give them the freedom to embrace change – once their long-term coal contracts are exhausted. It makes so much sense when you think of it – even for cities – avoid costly right of way, installation costs, and still deliver the product/service that the rural customer needs. Voila!

  10. flypusher says:

    The GOP political suicide squad, reporting for duty:

    You’d actually do less political damage to yourselves if you would just say no abortions, ever, no exceptions. But please, keep talking this way. We need to make sure all potential voters get a chance to hear your expert opinions.

    • 1mime says:

      Rob, I actually followed a van in traffic this week which prominently displayed this bumper sticker on the rear window for the world to view:

      “Abortion causes breast cancer.”

      How do you reach people like this? You can’t. Here’s another sad comment from a former SCOTUS clerk to Antonin Scalia. That he was controversial is well established. There was more, as this inside, personal look will reveal. The more I learn about Justice Scalia, the more importance I place on the quality and balance on our highest court.

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        Scalia was an activist masquerading as a judge.

      • 1mime says:

        He is certainly not alone among judges in political activism, but his behavior is more significant because of the need for the people of America to hold our highest court in the highest regard for fairness.

      • Bobo Amerigo says:

        An AP article in the Houston Chronicle (paper) today says Dow Chemical will pay $835 million to settle a class action lawsuit now that Scalia’s death “increased the likelihood for unfavorable outcomes for business involved in class action suits” (Dow’s words).

        Dow had been found liable to a price-fixing charge in 2013 by a lower court and had petitioned the supreme court.

        The articles says Dow assumes the current 4-4 split wouldn’t work well for them. They also, of course, deny guilt even as they pay out the moola.

      • 1mime says:

        WOW! It can’t be stated any plainer, can it? What a “tell”.

      • MassDem says:

        As someone in the comments noted, we already have a Canadian in the race.

    • 1mime says:

      The fallacy of the argument is that the only beneficiary is the politician; the rape victim, not so much. I cannot fathom how any husband (or single woman for that matter) would not vote in favor of the mother’s life. It boggles my mind even as I know people have different views.

  11. Rob Ambrose says:

    This whole Trump University thing is beyond sleazy. Its not like its “shady” or “questionable”, its a flat out scam, where Trump took millions of dollars and provided, literally, nothing in return. If the RNC had trotted this out from the beginning, I doubt Trump would have gone anywhere.

    But they were terrified of an independent run and figured (perhaps not unreasonably) that Trump would fizzle out.

    At this point, hes whipped up the rabid dogs into such a frenzy that I doubt there’s anything that can stop him.

    • flypusher says:

      So I wonder what would happen if Trump gets the nom, and then he gets indicted for fraud over this before the election.

      Not enough popcorn in the universe!

      • 1mime says:

        It’s kind of funny, actually – Republicans are working as hard as they can to see Hillary indicted, and their probable nominee is working as hard as he can to avoid indictment. What a statement about the level to which politics in America has descended.

      • 1mime says:

        GOP politics has descended into “who sweats a lot” and “who wets their pants”! Lifer – this is such raw theater and must make you want to scream. We have come to expect this crass behavior from Trump – so, Rubio is going to get into the gutter with him? Is this the level of decorum a Pres. Rubio would exhibit? The comparison with Pres. Obama who has shown so much dignity in the face of such highly personal, ugly attacks over years from Republicans, clearly demonstrates Rubio’s unreadiness for a position that commands more self control – even in the face of unspeakable ugliness. Trump is beyond the pale but Rubio is getting right down in the gutter by playing “cute” in his retorts. NOT presidential. Not by a long shot.

        “With audiences split on declaring Donald Trump or Marco Rubio the winner of Thursday night’s debate, the two presidential hopefuls took to mudslinging on Friday. Rubio read Trump’s misspelled tweets aloud at his Dallas rally, even going as far as to imply that Trump had wet his pants at the debate. Trump responded at his own rally with an animated impersonation of Rubio and claimed that the Florida senator wore too much makeup. This is just the latest uproar as candidates head into the crucial March 1 Super Tuesday primaries. [CNN, The Week]”

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Personally, I find it painful to see what Rubio is resorting to now, just to keep up with Trump’s insults.

        I tend to go easy on politicians and candidates over the occasional tone-deaf or clueless remark, whether it’s about women leaving the kitchen, or the 47 percent, or clinging to guns and religion. After all, they are human, and who among us hasn’t said something inappropriate at one time or another?

        The loss of civility and descent into vulgarity that we have now thanks to Trump is something else entirely. It’s sad to watch, and I think that by bringing it up constantly we are just contributing to the circus environment, adding to the spectacle of this sorry state of affairs.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        I have no problem with the witty repartee and harmless barbs that characterize many exchanges, and Trump can definitely be funny, but too often there is a crossing of the line into downright vulgarity.

      • 1mime says:

        It’s just sleazy, Tutta. We are talking about candidates seeking the position of President of our country. Respect the process and respect the office. Do not engage in this kind of demeaning repartee. It’s beneath anyone who aspires for President. Or, should be. I guess Rubio has decided what he was doing wasn’t working and so he decided to adopt Trump’s tactics. I don’t think it added anything positive to his statue as a candidate or person.

      • johngalt says:

        Yes, it’s ugly, Tutt, but Rubio may be figuring out (too late) that competing against The Donald isn’t a normal campaign. Criticizing Trump’s position on the issues is pointless – he has no positions. He’s not articulated a single coherent plan for anything – it’s all sound bites. You get at narcissistic bullies like Trump by needling the things they think are most important – their looks, their success (or lack of it), their things.

        In one of the links someone posted below, it was revealed that, astonishingly, the other GOP candidates have done very little background checking of Trump. The DNC, however, has been working on it for 9 months and most of what they have is not yet public. After hearing just a couple of seconds of Trump on the Howard Stern show, this will be like taking candy from a baby.

      • 1mime says:

        I really don’t think Rubio has much substance either, although more than Trump – which isn’t saying much. He’s glib and young but isn’t mature. IMHO. Trump hasn’t really been challenged.

      • 1mime says:

        In the Vox article Griffin posted in which the 3 leading GOP candidates’ tax plans are vetted, there was this observation about Rubio: “On day one of Marco Rubio’s presidency, he announces that he’ll pay for his tax cuts by doing something truly big: ending funding for Medicaid and for the Children’s Health Insurance Program — which 71 million Americans, or 22 percent of the country, rely on for health care.”

        Now, that’s getting off to a powerful start! I’m telling you, Rubio is an ultra conservative and his budget and his priorities are off the chart. Don’t fall for a pretty face!

  12. johngalt says:

    From the Houston Chronicle (the paywall version):
    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump says that if he’s elected president, American newspapers should watch out.

    Trump says at a campaign rally in Fort Worth, Texas, that he wants to make it easier to file lawsuits against newspapers over what they report.

    He says that if he’s elected, he will “open up our libel laws so when they write purposely negative and horrible and false articles, we can sue them and win lots of money.”

    He adds, “If I become president, oh, do they have problems.”

    Attacking his critics and the first amendment at the same time. What fun!

    • 1mime says:

      Hey, Trump has got to close a $10T hole in his budget plan….the money’s gotta come from somewhere!

    • 1mime says:

      From the Austin,TX My Statesman journal: a creative way for an “almost” lame duck President to kill many birds with one stone….

    • Rob Ambrose says:

      Hm. The laws already address this.

      If something is printed that’s false, the current libel laws are sufficient. If something is negative, but true, any suppression of that is a direct attack on the 1st amendment and an extreeeeeeemly slippery slope that doesn’t go anywhere good.

      • johngalt says:

        In order for something to be libel here, it has to be knowingly false and intended to defame. That is often a hard bar to cross for plaintiffs, and for good reason. Freedom of speech and of the press are the two most important of our BoR protections.

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        JG…you pansy, we all know that the 2nd Amendment is the font from which all of our other freedoms flow.

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        If Trump has his way, billions if dollars spent to buy politicians is protected’speech’ but actual speech is not.

        What a world.

    • Rob Ambrose says:

      This is a quote from that speech:

      “I’m gonna open up our libel laws so when they write purposely negative and horrible and false articles, we can sue them and win lots of money. We’re gonna open up those libel laws.”

      He then added, “With me, they’re not protected, because I’m not like other people”

      Can you imagine? The absolute arrogance required to actually SAY (let alone think) that the most fundamental part of the Constitution doesn’t apply to him because “I’m not like other people”?

      Trump is so transparent to anyone with a clue. His over the top braggadocio and ” strength” persona barely conceal a deep insecurity just below the surface.

      I fully expect some bizarre meltdowns over the next few weeks as Rubio and Cruz finally actually start to land some blows.

      This nutcase doesn’t have the temperament to be on the PTA, let alone the presidency.

  13. tuttabellamia says:

    In my opinion, this is the lowest of the low — cyber-bullying and cyber-mob-lynching. Any shred of admiration or respect I might have had for this candidate is gone:

    • Griffin says:

      Is this the lazy version of fascism?

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Social media seems to bring out the worst in people.

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        Interestingly enough, comments sections that use Facebook (and thus, attached to your real name) are much more civil then ones that are anonymous. Twitter is the same. Keyboard warriors who live in moms basement and need to anonymously bukky others in order to feel good about themselves

    • tuttabellamia says:

      And this behavior could so easily be replicated in the offline world.

      I would much rather vote for Bernie Sanders than this candidate, and that’s saying something.

    • tuttabellamia says:

      I know we can’t hold Trump responsible for every single tweet ever posted by every one of his followers, but he does set the tone, and I don’t see where he has asked them to tone down the malicious rhetoric. That would be politically incorrect. However, there is a big difference between rigid political correctness and simple civility.

    • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

      I’m all for reasonable accommodations for religion or other protected issues, but the reasonable path is to re-seat the gentleman, not the woman. Alternatively, the gentleman can book himself two seats.

      If you are re-seating the woman, she gets to re-seated to first class, and the sweatiest person on the plane gets to sit next to the gentleman who is so adverse to accidentally seeing or touching a woman.

      • 1mime says:

        This type of incident has gotten to be a real problem for airlines and women who travel. Respect for religion is of course desirable, but respect of individual is as well. The Hasidic Jews know when they travel by commercial airline that seating is pre-assigned by reservation, not by gender. I have no sympathy or respect for these men who are demanding that others move to accommodate their religious beliefs. They do have a choice. Sit where they are assigned; ask for another seat, and if one is not freely offered, de-plane and drive.

      • 1mime says:

        There’s always cardboard….really, what kind of “touching” is at issue here?

  14. 1mime says:

    NJ Governor Chris Christie endorsed Donald Trump. When pressed about any “deal” between the two candidates, Trump responded:

    “Trump repeatedly lauded Christie as a strong leader and didn’t close the door when asked if Christie could be his running mate.

    “I don’t want to discuss that but he certainly has the talent,” Trump said of the possibility.

    • Rob Ambrose says:

      Hebjust said at a rally one of his main priorities if elected will be to rescind the ban on church political activity.

      Of course, a commensurate rescinding of their tax exempt status would be tyranny.

      • 1mime says:

        You got it, Rob! Sort of like those corporations who justify off-shoring profits from U.S. taxation because “America has the highest corporate taxes in the world”….now, that may be true IF it weren’t for all the loopholes their lobbyists have carved out for them….loopholes they’d be just as loathe to give up in return for “lower” but “fair” corporate taxes as would our good tax exempt businesses….

    • tuttabellamia says:

      I think it would be a good combination.

  15. Griffin says:

    Reince Priebus backs (runs?) away from his former dislike of Trump and now seems to be indicating that he’d be willing to accept him as the nominee.

  16. Rob Ambrose says:

    Just watching Rubio on CNN speaking in Dallas.

    Hes absolutely eviscerating Trump, in a pretty funny way.

    Probably too little too late.

  17. 1mime says:

    This is an insightful look at the GOP destiny and the Trump phenomenon they created. By Robert Kagan, Washington Post opinion.

    Here’s his summation: “The Republicans creation will soon be let loose upon the land, leaving others the job the party failed to carry out. For this former Republican, and perhaps others, the only choice will be to vote for Hillary Clinton. The Party cannot be saved, but the country still may be.”

    I think Lifer reached this decision months before Kagan for many of the same reasons.

  18. flypusher says:

    When we get into the debates for the general election, I really wish they could be moderated by a few BBC reporters. Those people go after you if you dodge their questions.

  19. Rob Ambrose says:

    I believe there’s an interesting dynamic at play in the race.

    All the non Trumps need the others to drop out. But they also think Trump will not be the nom, even if he wins the most delegates. So none of them have any incentive to drop out, even if they’re getting crushed, since they think they just have to get the SECOND most delegates to win in a brokered convention.

    Possibly Kasich and Carson would drop out, but I believe Cruz and Rubio will stay in until the convention even if Trump find the table.

    Seems like the only way anyone not named Trump can win is if everyone else drops out. But the unique dynamics at play incentivizes none of them to drop out, which in turn ENSURES that Trump will keep winning primaries and probably make a brokered convention impossible.

    Quite the catch 22

    • Rob Ambrose says:

      “even if Trump finds the table” should read “even if Trump runs the table”

    • 1mime says:

      If Trump has the requisite number of delegates, do you really believe the GOP would chance fielding a candidate of their own? I’ve heard Romney mentioned, Ryan, and others, but, Reince Priebus has stated (for what it’s worth), that the RNC will support the GOP nominee…which conveniently skirts the issue of “how” that nominee is determined…

    • johngalt says:

      Kasich is in until the Ohio primary (3/15), which he might win. I have no idea why Carson is still in the game.

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        He looks more and more ridiculous with each day.

        Did you catch that fruit salad thing last night?

        And then the “Obama was raised white” thing was weird. Isn’t his whole candidacy predicated on the idea that racism doesn’t exist anymore and Americans are way too obsessed with race? If that’s so, its awfully weird to say being raised as anything other then poverty is being “raised white”

      • flypusher says:

        Could someone make a pity-attack on the man, please!!!!

      • 1mime says:

        I have read that he is in to spite Cruz who did a number on him in IA. He doesn’t seem like a vindictive person, so maybe he’s just enjoying the process. Who knows?

  20. Rob Ambrose says:

    Schadenfreude never tasted so good:

    I like how the GOP establishment has created this monster by stitching together every rotting body part they could find from Jim Crow times, white supremacist, paranoid conspiracy nuts, anti government forces in order to keep together enough of the coalition to run on its “tax cuts for the rich” r’aison d’être.

    When the finished product turns out to be (utterly predictably) an uncontrollable monstrosity, the GOP now acts shocked and appalled.

    “These morons!” They say. “Don’t they know Trump isn’t a REAL CONSERVATIVE?!?”. Which really means ” those morons! Don’t they know without their votes we can’t keep enacting economic policies that directly hurt them? What are they thinking?! ”

    Yes, Trump supporters are pretty “moronic”, mostly because they actually believe he can do anything he says he will. But theyre acting significantly less moronic this cycle then they have at anytime since Nixon.

    At least now they’re wrong while trying to vote their own interests. They used to be wrong while voting directly against them.

    • flypusher says:

      I took a look a Freeperville last night. Fascinating. The Trump and Cruz factions are at each other’s throats.

      • 1mime says:

        It is going to be very interesting to see how Cruz does in TX. There are so many delegates here (155) that capturing it is a huge assist at this point in the early primary process. More significantly, should Cruz not do well in his own state (please, please), maybe, just maybe, the GOP will act in ’18 to primary him.

        I vote today. I have been told by a couple of endangered Democrats who live near me, that I will be thronged by campaign representatives, so get ready. It helps if when approached you tell them you’re voting for Hillary…by the time they catch their breath, I’m downwind.

      • flypusher says:

        I early voted in peace. While in the booth I heard some guy asking about how can he get a Trump yard sign AND a Cruz sign. Which struck me as funny given all the vitriol brewing between those camps.

      • 1mime says:

        Remember the Hinsons? The couple with looming marital problems over their opposing politics?

      • flypusher says:

        Just saw a Trump ad attacking Cruz, “the worst sort of Washington insider”!!

        Burn!!!!!! Granted I see the whole insider as an insult thing to be pretty stupid, but it is funny to see that bit of mud flung at Cruz.

      • 1mime says:

        Cruz, the “inside outsider man” No one inside likes him. Poor baby.

    • 1mime says:

      “At least they’re wrong by trying to fix their own interests…”

      by choosing a party that won’t? That has zero interest in their base other than their votes? That still doesn’t get that Democrats have had their backs for decades?

      I don’t know what’s worse: voters who can’t see the truth or candidates that do and pretend it’s different. They deserve each other.

  21. Bobo Amerigo says:

    This is important to me. I think Obama’s position is correct.

    If it prevails, perhaps the rightful owner of our bodies’ properties — that would be us — would lessen the chance of another Henrietta Lacks story.

  22. Griffin says:

    Great Ezra Klein article on the Republican tax plans (

    To understand how expensive they are they make Hillary Clinton look like an obsessive deficit hawk by comparison. Even Bernie Sanders’ plans seems practically milquetoast when rivaled with the tax cuts being promised by the top three candidates on the GOP side.

    • Rob Ambrose says:

      How is it still generated unchallenged that the GOP is somehow the party of fiscal responsibility?

      Driving up deficits because you can’t cut spending enough (despite cutting it very deep) to offset your tax cuts for the rich is NOT fiscal responsibility.

      • 1mime says:

        This goes back to my question to Lifer: To what extent do distressed cities owe their malaise to intended consequences? Cutting taxes while also cutting spending is going to cost someone…maybe these areas that are already fragile?

        It makes no sense, Rob, unless one’s conscience is so maligned that self-interest obscures all awareness…forget guilt or responsibility.

    • 1mime says:

      Oh, but you don’t understand, Griffin! When the Republicans propose a tax plan that explodes the deficit, they have a plan!!! Due to their great fiscal ability, they will “grow the economy like you’ve never seen before”….

      Smoke and mirrors anyone?

  23. Griffin says:

    Jonathan Chait summarizes the lastest debate perfectly.

    Also another great recent article from Chait on Trump and how the seeds of his campaign were planted as far back as George Wallace, and Trump’s policies are more in line with the base than the “Establishment’s” are. (

    Lifer I know you said you might leave the GOP if Trump was the nominee and the party lined up behind him, but what do you mean by the party lining up behind him? Would it be enough if the party just tolerated him as the nominee without putting up any sort of fight or would a number of high profile GOP figures have to actively endorse and campaign for him? I ask because it seemed like a non-issue a week ago when it seemed like the delegates would be split up enough that Trump couldn’t be the nominee but if I was a betting man I would say Trump is going to be the nominee by taking an outright majority of delegates, unless there’s some other way the RNC can push the “self-destruct” button.

    • goplifer says:

      ***what do you mean by the party lining up behind him? ***

      I can be very specific about that. I’ve often mentioned that the GOP here locally in suburban Chicago is dependably sensible and pragmatic. Trump poses and interesting problem for us. A county board candidate here (in the primary) was asked whether she would support Trump if he were the nominee. Her response was, “can I get back to you on that?” accompanied by a laugh and applause from the room. That sort of thing has never happened before.

      If Trump is the nominee then I expect the party at the county level, if not the state, to make some formal, official statement distancing ourselves from him. That might be too big a step to take, but it has to happen. There are no good Nazis.

      If the party can’t take that kind of step then I can’t continue to participate. I’ll resign as a precinct committeeman.

      • 1mime says:

        Lifer, you are principled and pragmatic. If you ever become involved in creating a political party that melds the best of both parties, I’m sure your readers would be very interested – at least this reader would be. I hope you got to read the Kagan piece in WaPo. His last sentence reminded me so much of your position – regretful but responsible. The Republican Party simply cannot continue in its current posture. You haven’t weighed in on the GOP obstruction to the President’s right (and responsibility) to have a Senate hearing on his nominee(s)….to allow the process at least get past that step and not play the duplicitous game of blocking in order to censure public opinion. That calculated move by the Republican leadership more than any in a long time, is so offensive to the Democratic process and the Constitution to which they so vociferously proclaim fealty. I’d really appreciate your views on this maneuver not so much from its political purpose, which is obvious, but what it says about the sincerity of Republican principles.

      • Griffin says:

        Oh man I hope that doesn’t happen I don’t want for you to lose your job because of der Trump. I don’t know the specific rules for your precinct but maybe you could register as an independent, at least until your re-election bid in the primary comes up?

      • 1mime says:

        Here you go, Lifer! The NYT number crunchers have got it all figured out how your boy Rubio can capture the golden ring…I’d place money on the fact that Kasich will be on Rubio’s short, short list for VP in exchange for pulling out of the race and an endorsement….

      • Griffin says:

        @Mime If only we had a voting system that made it possible to have more than two competitive parties… then it would be possible. I’d be willing to join such a party, even if I’m a couple feet to the left of Lifer I’m basically in agreement 80%-90% of the time.

      • 1mime says:

        I’m further left than you are, but agree with you. Point is, the hard lines and arrogance have to go. Government simply can’t function in a fair, democratic fashion given how the GOP has performed in the last 7+ years. Totally unreasonable.

      • johngalt says:

        Chris, that is obviously because you’re a yuuuggge loser not fit to breathe the same air as The Donald. You seem like a pretty low energy guy, too.

      • 1mime says:

        Better watch it, JG, didn’t you see Lifer’s tattoo? You don’t mess with those guys!

      • flypusher says:

        “If Trump is the nominee then I expect the party at the county level, if not the state, to make some formal, official statement distancing ourselves from him. That might be too big a step to take, but it has to happen. There are no good Nazis.

        If the party can’t take that kind of step then I can’t continue to participate. I’ll resign as a precinct committeeman.”

        My very sincere condolences about this, even though it’s just a possibility right now. We all know how important this is to you and can image how awful it would feel to resign, even for a very principled reason. I’m thinking of the JFK quote: “Sometimes party loyalty demands too much.” While I understand why it’s normally good for members of a party to join ranks behind the chosen candidate after the primary dust has settled/ convention has decided, official endorsement of someone so obviously unfit should not be mandatory. Conscientious objection has a place. To paraphrase Mark Twain: “Loyalty to the country, always. Loyalty to the nominee if s/he is worthy of it.”

        It’s really easy to point and laugh at all the dysfunction of the GOP side, but lack of a competent and loyal opposition makes the Dems politically fat and lazy.

      • Creigh says:

        It’s easy (and fun!) to point and laugh at all the dysfunction of the GOP side, and plenty of bloggers and columnists have done this. But I think Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone makes a very important point titling his column “America Created Donald Trump.” It wasn’t just the Republicans. Republicans and Democrats together created an economy that is failing large numbers of people, and created the pushback leading to both Trump and Sanders. (Yes, I blame Republicans more than Democrats too, but both parties share some responsibility, and this primary season needs to be a wakeup call for both.)

      • 1mime says:

        Creigh, I’m interested in your ideas about how Democrats, specifically, contributed to our failed economy – Also, what time period are you suggesting? Last decade? Last 30 years? Longer? It’s important to examine the individual political contributions for accuracy’s sake and to broaden one’s appreciation of how history has shaped today’s economic conditions.

        I believe it’s important to contextualize the time frame as well as societal and global changes that have contributed – many of which Lifer has expanded upon in his ongoing tutelage. For practicality’s sake, I think it’s valuable to look back to at least the Great Depression era. I know historians have written about this progression of economic impacts from a political perspective, but how one perceives what one reads is as much a point of “who” one reads and “what” one’s biases influence.

        Every time I read about budget deliberations, I am reminded of the old “saw” about watching sausage get made. Decisions have consequences – think ethanol – and influence a chain of outcomes that are hard to stop. Entitlements have become anathema to conservatives which has polarized our nation and sullied the legitimacy of the need for restructuring. There is no trust or confidence that the political process will proceed fairly and thus positive, consensual progress stalls.

      • Creigh says:

        Mime, there’s a lot of things one can point to that led to where we are today. Where I see Democratic fingerprints more than I’d like (under pressure, often, but still…) include trade agreements, Glass-Steagall repeal, TARP bailouts that saved banks but left homeowners hanging, budget balancing obsessions that keep unemployment high and wages low (I give credit to Obama for abandoning Grand Bargain attempts. He’s done well there lately.) In general, a failure to “feel the pain” of increasing numbers being left behind economically and advocating steps to counter their decline.

        When you look at history, particularly the New Deal, you find many attempts to do things for rural communities, like the TVA, rural electrification, highways. The Federal Reserve’s structure with regional reserve banks was a specific effort to disperse economic power from New York. Do we see anything like that now?

        I hate to say this, but when you have a Democratic presidential candidate who sees no problem accepting $675,000 from Goldman Sachs for “speeches,” we have a problem. And don’t think a Donald Trump wouldn’t point this out every single day. Many people might fault Sanders for bringing this up during the primary, but he’s doing Clinton a favor by making it old news for the general.

      • 1mime says:

        Thanks for your thoughtful response, Creigh. Glass-Steagal was repealed under pressure when Clinton (Bill) caved to the Gingrich Contract with America period. TARP is a little more muddy….I have listened and read a lot of commentary on this and it was definitely believed that America’s economy would not be able to withstand collapse of our major banking institutions. What I fault, as you noted, is that people were hurt who were taken advantage of by the banks who knew better and that no one at the CEO ranks were criminally charged. Trade agreements are a bit more complicated in a global trade environment. To listen to Trump, America has always given away too much at the expense of the people/nation. I don’t have a well informed opinion about that area but note that international trade is complicated.

        What I can say about Democrats (through my blue-colored glasses) is that Dems mostly got the best deal they could get for working people. Possibly they are poor negotiators – I certainly think Obama was snookered by Repubs in his first years in office. The things Dems have fought for principally were to benefit the American working class, although I know the party is hardly pure in their efforts. Right now, with such a small percentage of our country’s citizenry benefiting at such disproportionate rates compared with the vast majority, I’d have to say that Dems haven’t been as effective in their efforts to help the working man as the Repubs have been to assist the elite. Their bad, but also bad for America.

      • 1mime says:

        I have no problem with HRC taking pay for speeches. Where she made a mistake is not being up front about it. Big money from WS is publicly seen as a pay-off and she should have anticipated this criticism and prepared better for it. The fact that these businessmen valued her appearance and time is illustrative of their respect for her.

        Over 15 years, the Clintons gave 729 speeches from February 2001 until May (an average of 48 per year – so they were working for their speech fees), receiving an average payday of $210,795 for each address. The two also reported at least $7.7 million for at least 39 speeches to big banks, including Goldman Sachs and UBS, with Hillary Clinton, the Democratic 2016 front-runner, collecting at least $1.8 million for at least eight speeches to big banks. (an average of $222K per speech). Goldman Sachs was the largest. Here is more information on the Clinton speeches. Note Hillary did a whole lot more speeches than Bill.

        Hillary has stated that she is not compromised by Goldman or any other business interests who paid her for her speeches. She will hopefully have a chance to prove this. The Clintons were clearly in demand and commanded top dollar.

  24. Ryan Ashfyre says:

    And it only took The Orange Wonder to make him realize it. Well, better late than never, I suppose.

    • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

      Even better:

      Sen Graham at the #WPCFDinner: “If you kill Ted Cruz on the floor of the Senate, and the trial is at the Senate, no one will convict you.”
      9:39 PM – 25 Feb 2016

      • 1mime says:

        In last night’s GOP debate -yeah, I watched it….the whole thing)-: , I could not believe Trump told Cruz “Nobody likes you….none of your colleagues have endorsed you…you don’t have any endorsements..” True, but amazingly blunt.

        I thought Carson and Kasich conducted themselves well.

      • johngalt says:

        I have to admit, I never liked Lindsay Graham the politician, but I have a new admiration for Lindsay Graham the depressed realist. “I’ve got a ticket on the Titanic.”

      • flypusher says:

        “…but I have a new admiration for Lindsay Graham the depressed realist.”

        Better late than never, I suppose, but a few outspoken realists (from either party) would have come in very handy over the last couple decades.

      • 1mime says:

        When I see the lock-step enforced mentality of Republicans, including the back-peddling of Brian Sandoval re: the SCOTUS nominee, it is obvious how far the party has to go to make meaningful change. I understand why they are doing it but for a party that projects its “big ideas”, it sure squelches independent thought. Give me the Dem Big Tent mish-mash anyday. At least people feel they can say what they deeply believe.

        Bravo Susan Collins. Mark Kirk, not so much because his “bravery” is self-interest inspired.

        We need more women in Congress.

    • Griffin says:

      When the guy who wants a (easily avoidable) war with Iran says you’re crazy, you know you’ve gone off the deep end.

    • Ryan Ashfyre says:

      Oh good, I’ve been wanting this video and the kind souls at Today were good enough to give it. 🙂

  25. flypusher says:

    Run Away, run away!!!!

    You guys will be out-wussing the Dems soon.

  26. lomamonster says:

    On an aside, we would know whether our machines had achieved consciousness is one of them finally takes over a portfolio and books a Spring Break in Cozumel.

  27. “A system might not be able – or want – to participate in the classic appraisals of consciousness such as the Turing Test.”

    Bingo. Go to the head of the class.

    BTW, the same goes for the Fermi paradox. After all, it’s not like we invest any significant effort scanning for smoke signals emitted by remnant aboriginal tribes sporting paleolithic levels of tech & culture in the backwaters of the Amazon basin. We just don’t care. So why would we expect star-faring alien civilizations to expend any effort listening for the aboriginal radio frequency emissions of technologically backwards denizens of a remote spiral arm of the Milky Way? Or expect them to attempt communication with us via the same medium? It’s laughable. To any conceivable advanced alien civilization, we are about as interesting as pond scum. 😉

  28. flypusher says:

    Speaking of consciousness/awareness, here is a very elegant experiment with ravens:

    I’ve heard Buckner talk about this work. Trying to gauge awareness in a creature you can’t directly communicate with is fraught with the possibility of misinterpretation/ anthropomorphizing/ anti-anthropomorphizing.

    “Birdbrain” is not the insult most people think it is.

  29. Bobo Amerigo says:

    Could this tip Trump?

    Trump’s Message to Foreign Workers: You’re Hired


    Donald J. Trump has stoked crowds by promising to bring back jobs, but he has also pursued more than 500 visas for foreign workers at his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida.

    • flypusher says:

      Maybe, maybe not. For example, I’ve heard/read comments from Trump supporters about how he’ll defend traditional marriage! (?!?!?!!) (I am not kidding here.). And what # wife is he on now? While I won’t assume that all his people back him for exactly the same reasons, I think Tracy nailed it for a sizable chunk of them a few posts ago- he’s the big silverback gorilla. A lot of people want to be him- to be filthy rich and live very large and say whatever you want and not give a &$£¥ about what anyone else thinks. If that is what motivates your support (consciously or subconsciously), you will find a way to rationalize or just ignore the contradictions. It’s not an intelligent way to pick a candidate, but since when is that new?

      • Bobo Amerigo says:

        Silverbacks are likely authoritarians, right? They rule and everybody else conforms.

        At least, that’s what I think this book is about, the book that was mentioned several posts back.

        Honestly, it did help me better understand a friend my age who has gone to the dark side.

      • flypusher says:

        A repost, but in case it got missed in a long thread:

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Ok, Fly, so the way to defeat Trump is to encourage everyone to overcome their fears and feel safe. We have to counter with positive vibes instead of constantly focusing on all that is wrong with the world. As usual, I blame the media. 🙂

      • 1mime says:

        It would help immensely if people just voted. If recent trends of poor turnout continue, all the positive messaging in the world won’t be enough.

        VOTE and if you’re not registered yet, REGISTER. It’s that simple.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        It seems lots of guys wish they had the balls to act and talk like Trump.

        For them this election cycle is the Year of Living Vicariously.

    • Bobo, you simply must come to grips with the incontrovertible fact that, when it comes to politics and policy, Trump is playing his own version of Fizbin. 😉

      “What are the odds of getting a royal Fizbin, Spock?”

      “I’ve never computed them, Captain.”

      “Well, they’re astronomical, believe me.”

      Although, in Trump’s case, perhaps not so astronomical as one might wish.

  30. Stephen says:

    Robert A. Heinlein’s “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress” is a classic . One of the main characters is a computer that is self aware. Heinlein’s premise was that once enough connections are made self awareness is automatic. If that is correct we most likely already have self aware machines. The author was correct on so many things you have to take him seriously.

    • tuttabellamia says:

      I’m fascinated by the idea of a collective consciousness, the idea that the internet, or the entire blogosphere, can have one big collective consciousness, a form of group think.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        I tried to post a link from within one of Lifer’s links above, but it won’t let me.

      • unarmedandunafraid says:

        Proof of the internet’s awareness!

      • tuttabellamia says:

        I thought of that when I typed that “it” won’t let me post the link. Just what or who is this “it?”

      • tuttabellamia says:

        I am trying to post an article from AEON titled “How the Internet Flips Elections and Alters Our Thoughts.”

        I would say please Google it, but that would be letting Google win. So, please use the search engine of your choice.

  31. tuttabellamia says:

    I don’t think this would be a political ploy on President Obama’s part. I think that he is essentially a moderate, and he wants to achieve true balance on the court, and the only way to do this with the current 4-4 liberal/conservative makeup is to nominate a moderate as the swing vote.

    I think he would do this regardless of the stance of the Senate, although it might be a reason for him to nominate a moderate Republican instead of a moderate Democrat.

    • tuttabellamia says:

      Sorry, this was meant to go under fly’s comment.

    • flypusher says:

      One thing I like about Obama is his pragmatic streak in this situation. He knows the current makeup of the Senate, and he’s taking that into account here. He understands that it’s better to get a quality nominee who might be more center/center-right than his ideal (as in who would you pick if you had that Senate majority) than to have no nominee at all. McConnell is betting on another Scalia which has truly crappy odds. Yes, this will shift the balance of the court more left, but there’s nothing in the Constitution that allots certain a numbers of seats for conservatives or liberals or centrists. I understand why they want to fight this, but they’re really insulting everyone’s intelligence by trying to put that “Constitutional/ precedent” lipstick on the obstructionist temper tantrum pig.

    • Tom says:

      No, I don’t think so. Sotomayor is not a moderate by any stretch, and shows what he does when he has a Democratic Senate to work with.

      Obama is smart enough to realize that he’s not getting another Sotomayor through a Republican Senate. But the long game here is that having a Sandoval on SCOTUS is actually a significantly better option than having another Scalia (which is more than likely who a Republican President would appoint.)

      • 1mime says:

        Gov. Sandoval just bailed. He drank the GOP full.stop koolaid. The powers that be chased him down and read him the riot act. NO cooperation with Obama….nada.

      • Bobo Amerigo says:

        Personally, I find Sotomayor to be a moderating presence.

    • 1mime says:

      I think it’s important to point out that the Scalia replacement/Constitutional right issue is not the only direct affront at President Obama in the last couple of weeks. In The Weekly Sift, the author points out:

      “Another example of the Republicans’ refusal to recognize Obama’s legitimacy as president is that the House is not planning to hold hearings on his budget proposal.

      The Republican chairmen of the Senate and House budget committees said last week they were forgoing the decades-long tradition of hearing testimony from the director of the Office of Management and Budget, claiming they expected Obama’s budget to offer little in debt reduction.”

      Add this insult to Republican refusal to even hold a judiciary committee hearing for the President’s nominee(s).

      How ugly. How totally inappropriate. So, this is how Republicans govern.

  32. flypusher says:

    The Senate GOPers gave Obama such an obvious opening. Anybody who’s been paying attention for the last few years and has at least rudimentary reasoning ability would understand that there’s no way that Obama would be appointing the libbiest lib who ever libbed to the high court. There’s also no way there’s going to be a new Scalia. I understand that this is still to the conservative disadvantage, but many times your choice isn’t going to be good vs bad, but bad vs less bad. What is McConnell drinking/ snorting/smoking/ shooting up here? The real precedent is on the side of Presidents making nominees and the Senate voting on them when openings happen in an election year, especially with so many months left before the election. The dig-in-your-heels-all-or-nothing approach isn’t working.

    • Rob Ambrose says:

      There’s significant potential for this all to go down as one of the worst, most damaging blunders in political history IMO.

      If they stonewall on a GOP nominee, there’s a very real chance progressive groups could hammer that home to a Dem controlled Senate. Combined with a potential Dem president, they may end up with a much more liberal justice then they could have by confirming Sandoval.

      • flypusher says:

        Indeed. McConnell is throwing people like Kirk under the bus here. Such a nice display of party loyalty and leadership and strategic thinking.

      • flypusher says:

        Sandoval’s a moot point now:

        But there are plenty of potential pucks who are both qualified and would make the GOP squirm. The main obstacle is are they willing to put up all the difficulties and bullshit from the GOP Senators? Are they willing to take one for the team for delayed gratification?

      • 1mime says:

        The most recent Pew poll on this subject, SCOTUS nomination, shows that a significant percentage of the GOP base supports the stand McConnell et al are taking. While this isn’t surprising, we need to understand “who” we are dealing with here.

      • Crogged says:

        I’m pretty sure Sandoval (or any Republican anywhere) realized he/she will probably not get this appointment and any job as a Republican ever again. He would then have to go to the other side and the only large network of television/internet media universe with lots of jobs belongs to our konservative friends………..

        The actions of the Senate Republican’s is just par for the course since 2008 and not all that upsetting to me. Is it ‘right’? Should they have hearings and vote on confirmation. Yeah, sure, but this only gist for the committed, the average voter won’t care.

      • johngalt says:

        McConnell is making the gamble that he can placate the base without alienating the moderates and independents the GOP needs to win a national election. The numbers in the poll in Mime’s like suggest this is not feasible. The mainstream-to-conservative GOP seems to be making this gamble on the election as well: we just need to get our base motivated and we will win. Tea Partiers and Ted Cruz make this argument frequently – the 2012 loss was because Romeny (and McCain before him) were not sufficiently conservative to win an election. 538 has a dim view of this idea and the strategy it engenders, and they have data to back it up.

      • 1mime says:

        You noted my post that Gov. Sandoval has withdrawn his name from consideration, right? This blockade is air-tight. No defections, no cooperation, no anything but compliance.

      • flypusher says:

        “This blockade is air-tight. No defections, no cooperation, no anything but compliance.”

        There are possible non-GOP picks who would be moderate, have impeccable records, and make it difficult to justify opposing to anyone outside the irrational elements of the base. Think long game. There are many months to go here.

      • 1mime says:

        Believe me, I know, Fly. It’s just the totality of the control that offends me. The decision to be vetted was initially well received by Sandoval….until it wasn’t. What changed? Think the big red GOP pliers got him in their grip? It saddens me to see what is happening to our political process. Regardless how many fine nominees Obama offers up, it simply won’t matter. It’s both infuriating and insulting to watch this play out. Too many times I have felt “they’ll be exposed for what they are, or, they’ll get theirs”…and it doesn’t seem to have meaningful consequences. Of course we can’t quit, but boy this is some deep ca ca.

      • 1mime says:

        Here’s a sobering warning from Rachel Maddow about voter turnout in Democratic ranks. She’s deeply concerned and warns how this could impact the General Election. Democrats just aren’t coming out to vote.

    • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

      It was Slate or The Atlantic that had a very different take on this.

      Coming out early means that McConnell is making the best of a bad situation. He did it beforehand, before a nominee was named, so he isn’t making it personal to the specific nominee.

      Once the nominee is announced, then it actually looks worse if they block it, especially if the nominee is popular (or just seems moderate).

      McConnell’s early positioning with people like Kirk and others looking at a tough election coming up, allows them to take the position in disagreement with McConnell, which is exactly what Kirk did.

      By coming out as the face of this and coming out early, McConnell (who doesn’t face re-election) actually gives some political cover to those up for re-election.

      The only downside for the GOP is if the actually lose the Senate this year, and that is an unlikely event. If the GOP has the Senate in 2017, they can still vote down a wacky liberal that Hillary might nominate.

      So Hillary gets someone confirmed in 2017 that isn’t wildly different than someone Obama might nominate now.

      • flypusher says:

        That’s some really, really bad spin there. Eyeshadow on the pig doesn’t work either.

      • johngalt says:

        I don’t think it is at all unlikely that the GOP will lose the Senate. They are cruising towards nominating one Mr. Donald J. Trump, who is loathed by establishment and conservative Republicans alike. This will have a yuuuuuuge negative effect on down-ballot races and the GOP already had an uphill climb because they have a lot of vulnerable first term senators (elected in 2010) in swing states up for reelection. On current trends (and it is early days still), the GOP could very well put the kibosh on Obama’s nominee only to find they have little ability to block Clinton’s more liberal one.

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        He could’ve just allowed Obama to make the nom, held hearings, and then rejected the candidate (after several months delay if course).

        Nobody is entitled for specifics of why any particular senaator votes to confirm or not. We all would have known the real reason, but at least there would be the appearance of a functioning Senate.

        I don’t see any strategic advantage to coming out 2 hrs after Scalias death

      • 1mime says:

        Homer, I believe that if Repubs win the presidency, they will keep the Senate. If Dems win the Presidency (not assured, granted), at best they “could” take the Senate; at worst, they might strip the Repubs of their majority by taking a few seats from them.

        As for why McConnell came out so early – the gist of most of the articles I’ve read on this suggest that McConnell wanted to consolidate position…He didn’t want the moderates in his party commenting favorably on the constitutional right of the president, a la Susan Collins, or, an embattled Mark Kirk. He wanted to control the message, the process, and quash any action other than total denial.

      • Crogged says:

        Have fun figuring this out if Trump is candidate. Which ‘leans’ turn which way? Do any ‘safe’ races flip?

        I want to think a racist blowhard like Mr. Trump would be a disaster as a Presidential candidate, but have to admit I only really know how I feel. I hear people say Beyonce is the racist, so if that kind of idiocy is out there who knows which way the wind is blowing………..

    • flypusher says:

      Sen. Al Fraken’s take:

      But on the issue of when it’s appropriate for a President to make SCOTUS picks, I could see grounds for all sorts of objections:

      Year 1- you’re just a noob, and you need more experience in the office before you pick
      Year 2- no, no, no, it’s midterm election time, so your pick would just be playing politics
      Year 3- you’re starting to focus on you re-election now, so nope, you’ll be too political.
      Year 4-It’s a Presidential election year!!!!! The people should decide/ leave it to the next Prez
      Year 5-you’re taking a victory lap and making a pick would be rubbing the other party’s nose in it, too political
      Year 6-see Year 2
      Year 8-see Year 4

      So maybe once every 8 years we can have SCOTUS picks.

    • Crogged says:

      JG I agree with you and 538, but……..Donald Trump is going to be a major party candidate for the Presidency of the US-and if he wins………..

      can William Shatner, PM of Canada and the PM of England, Helen Mirren, keep him in line?

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