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Comment Re:The Blame Game (Score 2) 1532

The US House of Representatives elections in Pennsylvannia, 2012.

If you don't like the Wikipedia's nice presentation, then you can get the same numbers from the secretary of state's office. Across all elections, Democrats had a solid lead, but only took 5 of 18 seats. The 12th district was the only closely contested seat, with the 1st and 2nd being the most blatantly packed (majority minority districts around Philadelphia).

Also for your perusal.
Ohio (51% R 47% D vote, 12 R & 4 D seats; 51%->75%)
Michigan (46% R 51% D, 9 R & 5 D seats; 46%->64%)
North Carolina (49% R 51% D, 9 R & 4 D seats; 49%->69%)
Florida (of course) (52% R 46% D, 17 R & 10 D seats; 52%->63%).
Illinois (Democrat example) (40% R 57%D, 6 R & 12 D seats; 57%->66%).

All of these are states in which partisan bodies (e.g. legislatures or governors) draw the district lines. Also, you can find the popular vote totals in the box at the top right on the main page for the 2012 House election.

Comment Re:"Equally guilty?" No. (Score 1) 1532

Why is not funding a massively expensive piece of legislation a bad thing?

Because it is law now. The process for overturning this law is supposed to be that you debate it on its merits, pass it in both the House and the Senate, and then either get the President to sign or get a 2/3 majority to override him. But they can't do that, because they don't have enough popular support for this to either take the Presidency or to take 2/3 of both houses, so they're taking hostages which is horribly unethical.

And besides, your car analogy is flawed because Congress can, at any time, raise its purchasing power by raising taxes. That's the main reason the budget is red right now. (That, economic collapse hitting revenues due to the banks destroying the economy, and unfunded wars.) We paid down a much larger debt after WW2 through high taxes, and the economy boomed during this period. The notion that high taxes + high expenses = economic death is simply not supported by history.

The federal government should not be spending almost 40% of our GDP every year. That's insane.

There's no magic number there. A good number of governments spend way more than we do as a measure of GDP (without spending such a huge chunk on the military) and are financially stable, with higher rates of happiness and health. e.g. Sweden, Denmark, the UK, Germany, etc. (To be fair, that list also includes a number of countries with ...issues like Greece, Italy, Cuba, etc.) Spending less is no real indicator in either direction either.

It's what they do with the money that matters.

Comment Compare them to their past, then. (Score 1) 1532

The US position relative to the rest of the globe is irrelevant in this discussion. What is relevant is the relative positions of the parties compared to each other in American politics.

How about the positions of the parties relative to themselves at other times in American history? Liberal Democrats today would be conservative Republicans in the 1960s. You want to read an eye opener? Go back and read The Republican Party Platform of 1960 and compare it to the 2012 GOP Platform. Much of today's Republican Party is still present in the party of 1960, but there's a lot in there that has been carved off of the party and rejected as "liberal." Here's some gems from the 1960 platform:

"To this end [opposing the Soviets] we will continue to support and strengthen the United Nations as an instrument for peace, for international cooperation, and for the advancement of the fundamental freedoms and humane interests of mankind."

"Our mutual security program of economic help and technical assistance; the Development Loan Fund, the Inter-American Bank, the International Development Association and the Food for Peace Program, which create the conditions for progress in less-developed countries; our leadership in international efforts to help children, eliminate pestilence and disease and aid refugeesâ"these are programs wise in concept and generous in purpose. We mean to continue in support of them."

"Republican policy firmly supports the right of employers and unions freely to enter into agreements providing for the union shop and other forms of union security as authorized by the Labor-Management Relations Act of 1947 (the Taft-Hartley Act )."

"Republican action has given to millions of American working men and women new or expanded protection and benefits, such as: Increased federal minimum wage; Extended coverage of unemployment insurance and the payment of additional temporary benefits provided in 1958-59; Improvement of veterans' re-employment rights; Extension of federal workman's compensation coverage and increase of benefits..."

"Congress should submit a constitutional amendment providing equal rights for women."

"Strengthened federal enforcement powers in combatting water pollution and additional resources for research and demonstration projects. Federal grants for the construction of waste disposal plants should be made only when they make an identifiable contribution to clearing up polluted streams."

"Federal authority to identify, after appropriate hearings, air pollution problems and to recommend proposed solutions."

"Immigration has been reduced to the point where it does not provide the stimulus to growth that it should, nor are we fulfilling our obligation as a haven for the oppressed. Republican conscience and Republican policy require that ... the annual number of immigrants we accept be at least doubled."

These are all positions that would have Tea Party nuts screaming to unseat them in a primary challenge. The GOP has taken a hard shift to the right of center, and they've dragged the Democrats behind them by framing and controlling the debate and by shedding moderates by labeling them as liberals.

Lastly, and perhaps most topically on the subject of the debt.

"In order of priority, federal revenues should be used: first, to meet the needs of national security; second, to fulfill the legitimate and urgent needs of the nation that cannot be met by the States, local governments or private action; third, to pay down on the national debt in good times; finally, to improve our tax structure."

It seems like our current GOP has a different set of priorities: 4,1,3,2. Well, with the furloughs hitting defense contracts and late pay for servicemen and their families, perhaps it should be 4,3,1,2.

Comment Constitutional, but still terrible. (Score 1) 1532

All the Constitution mandates is that the house choose their Speaker. The Speaker technically doesn't even have to be a member of the House, though Congress always has chosen a member. There are no roles or powers specified directly in the Constitution, though Congress has always had the power to set its own parliamentary procedures, which is where all the power of the Speaker truly comes from.

Kind of like the filibuster -- not in the Constitution but within the power of the Senate to limit itself in that way.

And yes, it really is a grotesque misuse of an office the founders did not anticipate having the partisan role that it has today because of their general blindspot for the development of political parties in the US and belief that the government would be more of a "gentleman's" club.

Well okay, maybe "misuse" is a misnomer, since the office near really even had much of a use until it became a partisan tool. It's still a largely anti-democratic device that is yet another thing ruining political compromise in favor of winner-take-all politics.

Comment "Equally guilty?" No. (Score 1) 1532

And if you notice, The house actually changed position to try and compromise but the senate didn't. Neither party is innocent in this. Both are equally guilty.

So, if I walked up to you on the street and said, "Give me $100, or I'll punch your kid in the face," and then later compromised to, "Okay, only $20 not to punch your kid in the face," would you be equally guilty for not taking the second option?

You cannot start with an unreasonable position, "compromise" to a less unreasonable position, and then blame the other party as "equally guilty." Taking a hostage and threatening a wide chunk of the economy is not considered starting from a reasonable position no matter what your demands are.

Comment The debt is a manufactured crisis. (Score 1) 1532

It's only the threat of default that puts us at risk over the debt, and it's the Republicans who manufactured that threat long, long before the debt itself would have. We held a LOT more debt relative to GDP after WW2 than we do now, and we paid down 2/3 of that quite easily while expanding federal programs the whole time.

The only reason our debt is this high compared to GDP is the Republicans unwillingness to raise taxes, and the only reason people are worried we may not be able to pay it back is because of Republicans using it as a hostage in political negotiations. Obama is the first Democratic President to preside over a rise in the debt over his full term, that is almost solely the fault of the Republican obsession with tax cutting, as is the rise over every Republican president's term since Reagan.

Comment Leeches? (Score 1) 1532

Are government employees really ""workers?"" They're not actually producing value. In fact, I would call them leeches, not workers.

Is the marketing department at your company useless leeches? The accounting department? The legal department? The janitors or any security guards you might have? Is all of management useless? Would you even have a company if it was nothing but the supposed "productive" people?

The government provides essential services. The labeling of these people as "non-essential" is a disservice to the many people who keep us safe from harm and who provide the basic infrastructure and coordination that make allow businesses to operate smoothly.

We're looking at a shutdown of all federal loans for new houses as well as farm loans, a halt to food for impoverished children outside of schools nor for pregnant women (a harvest to be reaped over a generation), a halt to all of our science programs (including the CDC's monitoring of outbreaks and administration of flu shots), no more work or food safety inspections except in emergencies, no FTC or SEC oversight of our wonderfully trustworthy financial sector, and a nearly paralyzed court system if this goes on for more the two weeks. I bet towns near national parks are just so happy at what this is going to do to their tourism revenues.

Oh, and you're also cheering asking all of our soldiers sticking their neck on the line for America getting their paychecks delayed and half their civilian support getting furloughed. (Yeah, those are government employees too, didn't you know?) Plus, if things aren't resolves in 2-3 weeks, no more disability checks or pension payments for the people who sacrificed for our country.

Plus, shutting off the money to programs doesn't shut off the need for businesses to comply with them. No more permitting by the EPA, the DOE, the FCC, or the BATFE. No E-Verify for businesses looking to check the immigration status of new hires (and a hiring freeze).

So yeah. Cheer this on, you nihilistic twit. Just watch how well business does without the government in place if this lasts more than two weeks. And if we default on our debt obligations because Republicans shot all of their hostages, you can kiss every last bit of recovery since 2007 goodbye.

Comment The House and Senate have flipped. (Score 1) 1532

The House is gerrymandered. It does not accurately represent the will of the people, but rather represents the cumulative will of the parties in control of the states. If I remember correctly, between 95% and 98% of Congressional seats are predetermined by gerrymandering.

I never really thought of it before you put it that way, but isn't it ironic that the House and the Senate have completely flipped their roles? The Senate is actually more representative of the will of the public ever since they were swapped to election by the people of an entire state, while the House is more representative of the will of the states, since it's subject to gerrymandering by the state government.

What a completely screwed up series of events...

Comment No, a 2/3 vote is not required for everything. (Score 1) 1532

Democracies are "Majority Rule" again WE ARE A REPUBLIC. That's why it takes 2/3 votes to pass things and make them stick. 51% doesn't cut it, and all the ACA got was 51%. That is why it is still being stalled and picked apart. As it should be.

I really don't think you understand how the legislative branch works. A 2/3 vote is only required to override a presidential veto (both houses), to approve a Constitutional amendment to be sent to the states to ratify (both houses), to ratify a treaty (Senate), to declare the President incapacitated and allow the Vice President to act in his place for 21 days under the 25th Amendment (both houses), and to remove someone from office federal office after a majority impeaches them (House). Additionally, as a matter of parliamentary procedure (not Constitutional law), the Senate requires a 3/5 majority to vote for cloture and end a filibuster.

Beyond that, ALL votes in BOTH houses are a simple majority.

51% does in fact cut it. (Or 60-39 in the Senate and 219-212 in the House. But I digress.) If it didn't, we wouldn't even be having this discussion right now, because it would have never been law in the first place.

The only reason it's still being contested is because a minority has a very outsized voice through a combination of gerrymandering giving the Republicans a 242-193 edge despite them losing the popular vote by 1% and the Speaker's use of the "majority of the majority" rule to prevent bills that a majority of Congress would approve going forward unless a majority of his party is behind it.

There's a very big difference between ensuring that the voice of a minority is heard and can have influence and letting a minority run roughshod over the rest of the country. The Republicans lost on Obamacare. They've lost 43 times on it now, and the forefathers certainly did not envision a minority holding the entire government hostage until they got their way.

Comment Re:Fucking idiots (Score 4, Informative) 1532

Unbelievable. I really can't understand this reasoning. You ADMIT that the government is incompetent in how they spend the public's money ('while not providing any healthcare") while wanting to take a well working health care system and dismantle it and give it to the government to control! This is just insane thinking.

It's very simple. The "incompetence" is not in the government spending money -- it's the government spending that money in the private sector rather than managing it itself.

The problem is that we don't have a true public healthcare system nor a true private one. We have a hybrid public-private healthcare system, with all the greed of a profit-seeking private insurance and healthcare sector welded to the low competition of a publicly-backed system and captive market, with all the inefficiencies of both multiplied. We have the worst of both worlds.

Going pure private sector won't help, because healthcare simply isn't a competitive free market and cannot be. Even if they had all the data, people simply do not seek care based on lowest cost, and the system cannot optimize itself to that end without that. Worse, the information asymmetry between providers and customers is horrible compared to something like auto dealerships Customers simply aren't qualified to know ahead of time whether they will get the best service for the lowest price.. (Do I really need that expensive CAT scan? How am I supposed to know?) Finally, customers are often not free to act with full rational capacity when the lives of themselves and their family are on the line. Time constraints, stress, etc. all compound the lack of available data with the inability to assess it properly. The end result is pretty much the opposite of what economists expect as the underpinnings of a free market.

Our system has one additional complications from its current worst of both worlds status of having people kept out of the decision-making process of their healthcare combined with the profit motive. Healthcare providers are unable (and unwilling in most cases) to provide a price sheet for their services up front, making competitive shopping impossible. That's for the insurers to handle, not the plebeians. Without customer input and without government regulation, this results in wild swings in costs for similar services as well as perverse incentives to charge the most to people without insurance instead of to the people who can most afford it. Fixing this would require regulation even without public use of funds.

So the only other real alternative is to swing the other way and eliminate the profit-seeking motive as a source of inefficiency. Also, a unified payer system would drastically cut down administrative costs. If the government was paying for all care, then the justification for most damages in malpractice lawsuits would drop sharply, reducing liability costs. Redundant services could be streamlined. Hospital costs could be brought in-line instead of varying wildly from facility to facility.

With public health as a greater priority than profits, programs to focus on wellness instead of recovery could be brought into focus. We would no longer have the terrible costs of people waiting until they end up in the emergency room because they gambled that they'd get better first. We wouldn't have the constant drag on the economy of the working poor working through their illnesses rather than getting treatment when it's cheapest and most effective because they're afraid of the costs.

And if you don't believe this, then just look at the numbers. Other countries spend far less of their GDP (with far less GDP per capita to begin with!) than we do, and they live longer. By having a national healthcare system, they spend sometimes half to a third of what we pay and often live 1-5 years longer. What exactly are we paying for, except a misguided principle that puts a mirage of economic liberty (which simply doesn't exist in healthcare) over human lives?

Comment Re:renewable resource (Score 1) 255

I was under the impression it could be extracted from natural gas, which is made up of elements. The way they extract methane and propane from it. You are aware that we can get hydrogen and oxygen from water?

Okay, let's walk through this. Natural gas is a combination of a number of separate gasses, each molecules composed of different atoms/elements, with methane (CH3) as the primary component.

Helium gas is one of those gasses in geological sources of natural gas. It is created by the process of radioactive decay, which splits heavier elements into lighter elements, often including helium as a byproduct. As a noble gas it does not form stable molecules with other atoms outside of extreme conditions.

It is not the byproduct of a chemical reaction, like the methane released by landfills. No amount of processing of landfill waste will generate helium. It is effectively a non-renewable resource since its method of generation is extremely slow.

Comment Yeah because Belgium didn't do anything like that (Score 1) 1532

Pfff, please, you Americans suck! Belgium is where it is at, 1 year with NO GOVERNMENT! Because reject frenchies and reject dutchies couldn't agree they BOTH are the joke for other countries and just agree that they have insane accents and just hate the german speakers in their country like normal people.

Come back when the shutdown lasted a year.

Comment Re:No, it's quite correct. (Score 1) 77

Yes, the Halting problem is undecidable. That doesn't stop it from being NP-hard also.

Saying that it exists somewhere in NP-Hard may be technically true, in that NP-Hard encompasses all classes NP-Complete and harder (and UNDECIDABLE is definitely harder). But I don't know of a single reputable computer scientist who would characterize the Halting Problem as NP-Hard, in the same way that I don't know of a single one who would characterize 3SAT as being in EXPTIME. As my advisor once quipped, "That idea is too clever to be taken seriously."

Assuming one has an oracle is not the same thing as assuming one has a Turing machine that does something.

Clearly not, because if it were a Turing machine it wouldn't be allowed to exist. Hence the phrase, "hypercomputation." But if such an oracle could exist, it would mean P=NP simultaneous with P != NP, and that's just for starters -- a short list of the contradictions that would be forced to be true if any hypercomputational oracle existed is the sort of thing that will give mathematicians nightmares. This is why virtually the whole field of computer science believes that hypercomputational oracles cannot exist, and why a significant fraction believes that any line of reasoning that involves a hypercomputational oracle is invalid because it starts from a false premise -- that such a thing can exist.

And no, Davis is not condemning people trying to do real hypercomputation. He's condemning the entire field of hypercomputation as a discipline.

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