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  The most dangerous time since the Civil War
Posted by: pbrower2a - 12-01-2017, 05:06 PM - Forum: Theory Related Political Discussions - Replies (98)

I hope that this does not seem shrill or panicked. I consider myself as rational as anyone can be while remaining human. I am not given to conspiracies, as I usually find that they require too many leaps of thought. Yes, JFK was killed by a lone assassin who was alienated, confused, angry, and devoid of any loyalties. Yes, the UFOs have often proved to be weather balloons, strange aircraft, marsh gas, mirages, or even the planet Venus (which on occasion is visible in broad daylight). The Loch Ness monster never existed. Strange things go on at Area 51, to be sure, but it is a testing ground for secretive military aircraft. Nostradamus? Revelation? Ho-hum!

I can now see this as the most dangerous time so far in the Crisis of 2020, and the most dangerous time in American history since the American Civil War. At least during the Second World War, the fascist pigs Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, and Hideki Tojo were far from the American mainland, and America was as tigh5tly united as any democracy could be. Today the fascist pigs are in Congress, the White House, and several Governors' mansions.

Yes, this is America, and military coups just do not happen here because this is America. But I look at the unpopularity of the President and Congress and its willing to do extreme legislation such as a tax cut that is a huge giveaway to a small fraction of the population and a great sacrifice for everyone else. Within five years, most Americans will feel great pain. One of the provisions is that rebated tuition that comes from endowments at colleges will be taxable income to college students. Student loan interest will no longer be deductible. If one recognizes that the Republican party seeks to punish people for being in a demographic that recognizes the President and the Republican Party as frauds, it makes sense. This is a bare minority that has no willingness to do what makes democracy possible -- lose elections that end its power.

The President acts much like a dictator. He is no better than the absolute monarchs who ruled Germany, Austria-Hungary, Russia, or Turkey just before the First World War. We all know how that war went. Just imagine a leader like Wilhelm II with nuclear weapons! That's Emperor Donald I for you. Lobbyists have a steel grip on the legislative process, and with a Presidency aligned with those lobbyists, we have but a shell of democracy.

We need remember that a highly-unpopular leadership with a radical agenda and a desire for entrenching itself has often shown the willingness to abolish democracy when forthcoming elections seem likely to reject such leadership. Make no mistake: Donald Trump decides, and you don't, what "Make America Great Again". That's likely a cheap-labor, low-service government that privatizes everything on behalf of rapacious monopolists -- most likely the people who got the tax-cut giveaway. After all, there will be a deficit to pay off, and the most effective way is to give away the public sector to greedy monopolists who can then take everything. Class privileger does not yield willingly., It has shown more willingness to murder people than to accede anything.

I expect workers to lose the right to unions. I expect welfare, Medicare, and Social Security to vanish. But Donald Trump is indeed Making America Great Again -- if you use the standards of a plutocrat of the 1920s.

But Coolidge wasn't so bad? Coolidge was a pussycat as a leader. He governed in accordance with the playbook of the Gilded Age. I am thinking of Mussolini.

Sure, it is no longer a full year until the next Congressional election. I sincerely hope that this one will be fair. I encourage people to treat that election as if it is the most important election in American history. If it goes badly, then elections in America will be as meaningless as those in 'socialist' states. We could end up with a political system that better resembles that in the People's Republic of China than what we are accustomed to.  Power is split about 60-40 between the Leading Force and everyone else who know their subordinate place.  Maybe our leaders will be wise enough to not win elections with "100% of eligible voters participating and 100% voting for the Party list" as one sees in reports of the sham elections in North Korea.

I am too old to start over elsewhere. I can easily see myself not surviving this Bad New Age should it be as bad as it is even if I have a longevity that gets me to 90. I have found that I am not the sort to suffer with a smile. I can endure much grief, but don't ask me to put up a facade of cheerfulness or consent.

One thing that many learn in a Crisis Era that there are worse things than death.

Give me liberty or give me death -- Patrick Henry.

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  Careers ruined or at risk from accusations of sexual misconduct
Posted by: pbrower2a - 11-29-2017, 01:40 PM - Forum: General Discussion - Replies (152)

This forum is for prominent persons fired, removed under pressure, or otherwise disgraced for sexual harassment.

One pattern of a Crisis Era is that certain behaviors that used to be sloughed off in an Awakening Era or an Unraveling Era are no longer tolerated. We had Bill Cosby a couple years ago; NBC, which was contemplating production of a new show with him, stopped production. The less said of Jerry Sandusky and Dennis Hastert, the better. Roger Ailes and Bill O'Reilly got dumped at FoX Propaganda Channel.

But the heads seem to be falling from the chopping block, so to speak. Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, Charlie Rose, Sylvester Stallone, John Lithgow, Matt Lauer, Garrison Keillor. Roy Moore, should he be defeated in the polls, would qualify then, as he would if expelled from the Senate. Political figures Al Franken and John Conyers hang onto political office by a thread. All so far are male and most are comparatively old. For some, their careers may have been over (Sylvester Stallone had retired from film acting). This may be one way for younger executives to advance, the time-honored practice of greasing the skids for an older boss who isn't up to the task.

I have yet to see giant firms in commerce cast people off for such... no investment bankers or oil barons yet. Such companies are more secretive about decisions to hire and fire. I have yet to se any prominent college professors or heads of non-profits dumped (aside from PBS and NPR which are non-profit media), either.

Don't get me wrong. Sexual harassment is not a perquisite of high office in commerce, academia, politics, or media. People are being ruined as if they were exposed as Commies during the Red Scare of the 1950s. But there seems to be more documentation now.

I suggest that we have some documentation.

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  Generic Ballot for Congress
Posted by: pbrower2a - 11-25-2017, 12:07 AM - Forum: General Political Discussion - Replies (19)

We are now less than a year away from deciding what sort of Congress we shall have in 2018. Nate Silver has some topical analysis.

Democrats have a marked edge in the Congressional ballot -- nearly 10% at times. That is huge. Are Re0publicans likely to reduce that margin significantly?


(Nate Silver, at 538.com)


Quote:The generic congressional ballot, even more than a year before a midterm, has historically been quite predictive of what will eventually occur in the following year. It was predictive in April, and it’s even more predictive now. You can see this phenomenon in the chart below. The chart shows the margin by which the presidential party leads on the generic ballot in an average of polls in October1 a year before the midterm compared with the national House margin in the midterm election. Every midterm cycle since 1938 is included, with the exception of 1942 and 1990, for which we don’t have polling at this point in the cycle.

[Image: enten-pollapalooza-1109.png?w=575&h=519&...strip=info]

The generic ballot polls a year from the election and the eventual House results are strongly correlated (+0.90). Importantly, past elections suggest that any big movement on the generic ballot from this point to the midterm tends to go against the president’s party.2 That movement explains why the Democrats lost ground in 2010 and 2014 in the generic ballot polls when they controlled the White House, while they maintained their lead in 2006 when Republicans held the White House. (With a similar set of data, I used the generic ballot to forecast Democratic problems early on in the 2010 cycle.)

Indeed, recent election outcomes show that Republicans should be worried about what the generic ballot is showing. The results in Tuesday’s gubernatorial races in Virginia and New Jersey were called perfectly by the generic ballot once we control for the partisan lean of each state. The special election results this year have also been in line with a big Democratic lead on the generic ballot.

https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/the...-from-now/

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  Progress of clean energy technology
Posted by: Eric the Green - 11-24-2017, 07:10 PM - Forum: Environmental issues - Replies (18)

New study reaches a stunning conclusion about the cost of solar and wind energy
Building new renewables is now cheaper than just running old coal and nuclear plants.


JOE ROMM

NOV 20, 2017, 11:34 AM

thinkprogress.org/solar-wind-keep-getting-cheaper-33c38350fb95/
https://thinkprogress.org/solar-wind-kee...38350fb95/



In one of the fastest and most astonishing turnarounds in the history of energy, building and running new renewable energy is now cheaper than just running existing coal and nuclear plants in many areas.

A widely-used yearly benchmarking study — the Levelized Cost of Energy Analysis (LCOE) from the financial firm Lazard Ltd. — reached this stunning conclusion: In many regions “the full-lifecycle costs of building and operating renewables-based projects have dropped below the operating costs alone of conventional generation technologies such as coal or nuclear.”


Lazard focused on the cost of a power for a plant over its entire lifetime in North America, and how the “increasing economic advantage of renewables in the U.S.” will drive even deeper penetration of solar and wind here. But Lazard also makes a key global point: It’s more expensive to operate conventional energy sources in the developing world than it is in the United States. So the advantage renewables have over conventional sources is even larger in the rapidly growing electricity markets like India and China.

https://thinkprogress.org/renewables-pro...70e3792df/

Forget coal, solar will soon be cheaper than natural gas power
Renewables to capture three-fourths of the $10 trillion the world will invest in new generation through 2040.
https://thinkprogress.org/renewables-pro...70e3792df/

[color=#000000][size=large][font=tk-aktiv-grotesk, aktiv-grotesk, sans-serif]Since power from new renewables is cheaper than power from existing coal and nuclear, it’s no surprise that the lifetime cost of new renewables is much cheaper than new coal and nuclear power. And that gap is growing.



Lazard notes that in North America, the cost for utility scale solar and wind power dropped 6 percent last year, while the price for coal remained flat and the cost of nuclear soared. “The estimated levelized cost of energy for nuclear generation increased ~35 percent versus prior estimates, reflecting increased capital costs at various nuclear facilities currently in development,” the analysis found.

Indeed, as Lazard shows in this remarkable chart, while solar and wind have dropped dramatically in price since 2009, nuclear power has simply priced itself out of the market for new power.

[Image: final-chart-2.jpg?w=1073&crop=0%2C0px%2C...36px&ssl=1]

The lifecycle cost of electricity from new nuclear plants is now $148 per megawatt-hour, or 14.8 cents per kilowatt-hour, while it is 5 c/kwh for utility scale solar and 4.5 c/kwh for wind. By comparison, the average price for electricity in United States is 11 cents per kWh.

So it’s no big shock that there’s only one new nuclear power plant still being built in the United States — or that even existing power plants are struggling to stay competitive.

Indeed, over half of all existing U.S. nuclear power plants are “bleeding cash,” according to a Bloomberg New Energy Finance report released earlier this summer. Even the draft report from the U.S. Department of Energy staff for Secretary Rick Perry conceded that coal and nuclear are simply no longer economic.

Coal and nuclear are uneconomic — more bombshells from Perry’s draft grid study
“High levels of wind penetration can be integrated into the grid without harming reliability.”
https://thinkprogress.org/draft-doe-stud...1a62afefd/


Right now, as the chart above shows, new solar and wind are actually cheaper than new gas plants. The variability of solar and wind still give new gas power an edge in some markets. But with the price of electricity storage, especially lithium-ion batteries, coming down sharply, the future of renewable energy is sunnier than ever.

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  Leading and trailing edge millenials
Posted by: Warren Dew - 11-23-2017, 01:31 PM - Forum: The Millennial Generation - Replies (13)

Here's a video on a disciplinary session between a trailing edge millenial grad student TA and a professor, who seems to be a leading edge millenial, regarding a video of a politically charged debate the TA presented for discussion in class.  It's cued to the following exchange.

TA:  I remained very neutral.
Professor:  That's kind of the problem.






The whole thing plays as kind of a 1984 style inquisition designed to make the victim love big brother, but that's tangential to what's relevant to the millenial generation.

Leading edge millenials generally buy in to political correctness as something to be enforced by any means possible, and are horrified when someone fails to take political correctness as fundamental tenets of their belief system.  Meanwhile, it's now seeming more and more like trailing edge millenials, while agreeing with political correctness, take the view that it is something that can be legitimately debated and examined, rather than as something to be enforced dogmatically.

I wonder to what extent this is a result of leading edge millenials being generally the children of boomers, while trailing edge millenials are generally the children of Xs.  One might expect boomers, with their "ends justify the means" attitude, to instill dogmatism about their beliefs in their children.  Meanwhile, Xs, who value their individual privacy and freedom, might have passed along more tolerant attitudes to their younger millenial children.

This also suggests to me a different way of examining the awakening era:  as a transition from dogmatic leading edge civic leadership to tolerant trailing edge civic leadership.  Certainly one could view the US Presidential transitions during the boom awakening as following that general path.  And that might, in turn, help explain why the awakening transition is from the institutional domination of the high to the institutional neglect of the unraveling.

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  Robert Mugabe resigns
Posted by: pbrower2a - 11-21-2017, 03:33 PM - Forum: Beyond America - Replies (6)

Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe’s longstanding authoritarian president, agreed to step down on Tuesday, according to the speaker of the nation’s parliament.

The announcement comes a little less than a week after the country’s military seized power, setting in motion an end to the 37-year rule of the world’s oldest serving president.

Impeachment proceedings against Mugabe had already begun early Tuesday, but the speaker of parliament read a letter to lawmakers later in the day that he said came from the president and offered a formal resignation.

“I, Robert Gabriel Mugabe, in terms of section 96 of the constitution of Zimbabwe, hereby formally tender my resignation,” the speaker said, reading from what he said was Mugabe’s letter.

from the Huffington Post.

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  Did Charles Manson wreck the Boom Awakening?
Posted by: pbrower2a - 11-21-2017, 12:13 PM - Forum: Turnings - Replies (10)

Now that Charles Manson is dead, we may be able to ask ourselves whether he killed more than the victims of the Tate-LaBianca murders.

The Manson was everything wrong about the counterculture, with mass murder added. Manson was of course a criminal  with delusions not only of his talent as a singer-songwriter but also that he could start a great crime wave, "Helter-Skelter".

His cult adopted the anti-establishment garb and superficial rhetoric of the Boom counterculture. Manson took the role of a Silent mentor, if in a perverse way. He used the ways of the criminal upon people that he could get to become True Believers in himself and his cause. Kill white people, leave rhetoric of the Black Power movement, and let black people get blamed. The Manson cult failed at convincing people that black people did the crime.

Charles Manson is a prime example of a sociopath. There were some very confused people who joined their cult, and Manson had answers for them -- the wrong answers, to be sure, but answers for people who had found none. He found young adults with problems and gave them a bigger problem.

He disgraced the counterculture as nobody else could. After Manson, the Boom Awakening became largely a celebration of indulgence. We may have a great divide between early-wave Boomers who often got all the advantages, and later Boomers who, born in the 1950s, got experiences unlikely to lead to any coherent objective.  Note well that we have yet to have a President born in the 1950s.

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  Uber in the sky?
Posted by: pbrower2a - 11-08-2017, 05:32 PM - Forum: Economics - Replies (1)

(Reuters)

LISBON (Reuters) - Uber is taking part in a joint industry and government push with NASA to develop software which the company aims to use to manage “flying taxi” routes that could work like ride-hailing services it has popularized on the ground.

Uber said on Wednesday it was the first formal services contract by the U.S. National Aeronautical and Space Administration (NASA) covering low-altitude airspace rather than outer space. NASA has used such contracts to develop rockets since the late 1950s.

Chief Product Officer Jeff Holden also said Uber would begin testing proposed four-passenger, 200-miles-per-hour (322-km-per-hour) flying taxi services across Los Angeles in 2020, its second planned test market after Dallas/Fort Worth.

Uber has faced regulatory and legal battles around the world since it launched taxi-hailing services earlier this decade, including in London where it is appealing against a decision to strip it of its license due to safety concerns.

Holden described Uber’s latest air taxi plans at Web Summit, an internet conference in Lisbon, where he emphasized it was working to win approval from aviation regulators well ahead of introducing such services.

“There is a reality that Uber has grown up a lot as a company,” Holden said in an interview ahead of his speech. “We are now a major company on the world stage and you can’t do things the same way where you are a large-scale, global company that you can do when you are a small, scrappy startup.” 

Rest of the article here.

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  The Partisan Divide on Issues
Posted by: pbrower2a - 11-03-2017, 05:17 AM - Forum: General Political Discussion - Replies (1975)

November 2, 2017
Declining Confidence in Trump, Lower Job Ratings for Congressional Leaders
Deficit concerns plummet among members of both parties
[Image: 11-2-2017_01c.png]Growing numbers of Americans express little or no confidence in Donald Trump to handle an international crisis, manage the executive branch effectively and work effectively with Congress. And today, just 34% approve of Trump’s overall job performance, while 59% disapprove.

(the material above would fit in a poll of the President's approval ratings, but there is much more to see here -- yours truly)

However, Trump’s job approval rating is higher than those of Republican and Democratic congressional leaders. Just 22% approve of the way Republican congressional leaders are doing their jobs, down 12 percentage points since February. Job ratings for Democratic leaders are not quite as negative (29% approve), though also are lower than in February (37%).

The new national survey by Pew Research Center, conducted Oct. 25-30 among 1,504 adults, finds that Trump’s job rating is lower than it was in June and February (39% on each occasion). Most Americans continue to have strong feelings about the president, with about twice as many strongly disapproving of his job performance as strongly approving (51% to 25%).

Trump engenders less confidence in handling various aspects of his job than he did in April. As he prepares for his first presidential visit to Asia, 39% say they are very or somewhat confident in his ability to handle an international crisis, down from 48% six months ago. Six-in-ten say they are not too confident (14%) or not at all confident (45%) in Trump to handle an international crisis. The share expressing no confidence in Trump to handle an overseas crisis has increased seven percentage points (from 38%) since April.

A similar pattern is seen in public confidence in Trump to manage the executive branch effectively and to work well with Congress. And just 39% say they are at least somewhat confident in Trump’s ability to handle the situation with North Korea; 13% not too confident and 46% are not at all confident in Trump in dealing with North Korea.

.......

(differing levels of trust for the two PartiesSmile

[Image: 11-2-2017_05.png]

http://www.people-press.org/2017/11/02/d...l-leaders/

If you are a Republican ... ouch! And look how little confidence Americans have in this President's handling of the menace of North Korea!

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  Coal and the false hope that the President offers miners
Posted by: pbrower2a - 11-03-2017, 02:56 AM - Forum: Economics - No Replies

Awaiting Trump's coal comeback, miners reject retraining

(Reuters) 


https://www.reuters.com/article/us-trump...SKBN1D14G0

Quote:Despite broad consensus about coal’s bleak future, a years-long effort to diversify the economy of this hard-hit region (southwestern Pennsylvania) away from mining is stumbling, with Obama-era jobs retraining classes undersubscribed and future programs at risk under President Donald Trump’s proposed 2018 budget.

Trump has promised to revive coal by rolling back environmental regulations and moved to repeal Obama-era curbs on carbon emissions from power plants.

But hundreds of coal-fired plants have closed in recent years, and cheap natural gas continues to erode domestic demand. The Appalachian region has lost about 33,500 mining jobs since 2011, according to the Appalachian Regional Commission.
Although there have been small gains in coal output and hiring this year, driven by foreign demand, production levels remain near lows hit in 1978.

A White House official did not respond to requests for comment on coal policy and retraining for coal workers.

What many experts call false hopes for a coal resurgence have mired economic development efforts here in a catch-22: Coal miners are resisting retraining without ready jobs from new industries, but new companies are unlikely to move here without a trained workforce. The stalled diversification push leaves some of the nation’s poorest areas with no clear path to prosperity.

Federal retraining programs have fared better, with some approaching full participation, in the parts of Appalachia where mining has been crushed in a way that leaves little hope for a comeback, according to county officials and recruiters. They include West Virginia and Kentucky, where coal resources have been depleted.

But in southern Pennsylvania, where the industry still has ample reserves and is showing flickers of life, federal jobs retraining programs see sign-up rates below 20 percent, the officials and recruiters said. In southern Virginia’s coal country, participation rates run about 50 percent, they said.


....

But candidate-and-now-President Trump promised to bring back coal and the jobs that it once offered. If he were honest, he would remind miners that they need to prepare themselves for a world in which people burn much less coal, which means that existing (especially those still young) miners need vocational alternatives so that they can enjoy some semblance of the American Dream.

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