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Member Since 03 February 2012 - 03:42 PM
Offline Last Active Jan 23 2020 10:06 PM

Topics I've Started

The Schism in the Catholic Church

23 January 2020 - 05:00 PM

The schism between the Pope Benedict (the pedo protector) wing of the Catholic Church and the Pope Francis wing continues to grow. Pope Francis just sidelined one of the more conservative Archbishops who was critical of him. I expect Rod Dreher to lose his shit over this.


In a move that will undoubtedly cement the divide between the conservative and progressive wings of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Francis announced Thursday that he would be replacing one of his harshest critics as the head of the troubled Philadelphia archdiocese. In a statement to Vatican-accredited media, the pope announced he’d accepted the resignation of Archbishop Charles Chaput, who was required to tender it at the age of 75 in September. Mandatory resignations are often seen as a way to gauge a bishop or archbishop’s favor with the pope, who often chooses not to accept them. Chaput has become increasingly vocal in his criticism of Francis’s pontificate, following a hard line taken by traditionalists who believe the Argentinian pontiff is “watering down” doctrine by extending a hand to marginalized Catholics. Twitter immediately lit up after the announcement was made, calling Chaput’s outing another step toward an all-out schism in the church. Supporters of the pope instead said that in accepting Chaput’s resignation, Francis sends a message that, despite substantial pushback, he still hopes to modernize the ancient Catholic Church. Chaput famously called on divorced and remarried Catholics and gay couples to abstain from sex, even if they are married. Cleveland Bishop Nelson J. Perez, who has expressed support for Francis, will take over the Philadelphia archdiocese, which has been embroiled in the clerical sex scandal for years, including in 2018 when a Pennsylvania grand jury found that more than 300 priests had abused more than 1,000 children over the last several decades.

A Harvard Journal Proposes How to Rid Amerrica of Its Current Minority Rule

14 January 2020 - 04:17 PM

Sure it's only interesting as a thought experiment but it made for a fun read.


American democracy is broken.

We have a president who lost the popular vote, a Senate where the “majority” represents about 15 million fewer people than the “minority,” and a Supreme Court where two justices were nominated by that president and confirmed by that unrepresentative Senate.

An unsigned note, entitled “Pack the Union: A Proposal to Admit New States for the Purpose of Amending the Constitution to Ensure Equal Representation” and published in the Harvard Law Review, offers an entirely constitutional way out of this dilemma: Add new states — a lot of new states — then use this bloc of states to rewrite the Constitution so that the United States has an election system “where every vote counts equally.”


To create a system where every vote counts equally, the Constitution must be amended. To do this, Congress should pass legislation reducing the size of Washington, D.C., to an area encompassing only a few core federal buildings and then admit the rest of the District’s 127 neighborhoods as states. These states — which could be added with a simple congressional majority — would add enough votes in Congress to ratify four amendments: (1) a transfer of the Senate’s power to a body that represents citizens equally; (2) an expansion of the House so that all citizens are represented in equal-sized districts; (3) a replacement of the Electoral College with a popular vote; and (4) a modification of the Constitution’s amendment process that would ensure future amendments are ratified by states representing most Americans.

Under the Constitution, new states may be admitted by an ordinary act of Congress with a simple majority vote. The Constitution does, however, prevent new states from being carved out of an existing state unless the legislature of that state consents. Chopping up the District of Columbia gets around this problem because Washington, DC, is not a state.

One can quarrel with the details of the Harvard proposal. Ratifying a constitutional amendment, for example, requires the consent of three-fourths of the states. So it makes more sense to divide the District of Columbia into 150 states, rather than 127 states, to ensure that pro-democracy amendments will actually be ratified. (Under the Harvard proposal, there would be 177 states, so 133 of them would have to agree to a new amendment. That means that six existing states would need to play along.)

It also would be a good idea to draw the boundaries of those new states to ensure that the electorate within each of the new states supports such amendments.

Similarly, the Constitution effectively prohibits amendments that eliminate Senate malapportionment. The Harvard note proposes getting around this problem by transferring the Senate’s powers to another body. “The Senate’s duties,” it argues, “could be changed without modifying its composition.”

Fair enough. But a more straightforward solution might be ratifying two separate amendments: one to eliminate the restriction on amendments eliminating Senate malapportionment, and a second to actually eliminate Senate malapportionment.

Details aside, however, the wild thing about this Harvard Law Review proposal is that it is absolutely, 100 percent constitutional. The Constitution provides that “new states may be admitted by the Congress into this union,” but it places no limits on the size of a state either in terms of population or in terms of physical space.

U.S. Fertility Rate Continues to Slide

14 January 2020 - 04:14 PM

The fertility rate in the U.S. has dropped quite a bit. The replacement rate is considered to be 2.1. America is now at 1.72. We have some of the most family hostile policies (virtually all Republican I might add) of any industrialized nation out there. Is it any wonder people don't want to have a lot of children?


Americans are having so few babies these days that the fertility rate has hit a historic low, according to stunning data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The number of births in the US dropped by 2 percent between 2017 and 2018, to 59 births per 1,000 women ages 15 to 44, continuing a general downturn that started with the Great Recession of 2008. It’s the lowest number of births in 32 years.

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The fertility rate is an important measure of a country’s well-being. When it’s too low, countries worry that in the long term they may not have enough healthy, young workers to keep productivity up and the economy humming. Meanwhile, a birthrate that’s too high can drain resources.

The “replacement” fertility rate of 2.1, enough to renew the population, is typically viewed as the optimal level for stability. During the post-World War Two baby boom, the total fertility rate, or number of births each woman is expected to have in her childbearing years, was 3.77 births— but it’s been much lower in every generation that followed the boomers.

In 2018, it dropped to an all-time low of 1.72. “The rate has generally been below replacement since 1971 and consistently below replacement for the last decade,” the new CDC report, which is based on more than 99 percent of US birth records, reads.

It’s not yet clear exactly what’s driving the trend, and the CDC authors don’t offer any guesses. Some, like the economist Lyman Stone, have suggested America’s “historic collapse in childbearing” is being driven by the fact that society isn’t organized to support people having all the babies they’d like to. Others have blamed the economy.

Whatever the cause, researchers from Columbia University, the University of Illinois, and other universities warned in a 2018 Hill commentary that a low birthrate is another contributor to the “aging society” in the US — where the proportion of the population over 65 is greater than the proportion under age 15 — and that the effects of this demographic makeup “will reverberate for years to come.”

But there are also two pieces of good news embedded in the data, especially for women. A decline in fertility is largely being driven by a dramatic drop in teen births and women joining the workforce. Second, America is simply looking more like its economic peers when it comes to the fertility rate — and that can be partially explained by the drop in unintended pregnancies.

Ultimately, it may be too soon to panic about a “baby bust.” It is time, however, for some sober thought about what social programs and policies are needed to address a demographic shift that is well underway.

Good stuff afterwards on the drop in teen pregnancies and how family friendly policies could help.

Possible MSNBC Shakeup Rumors incl. Shep Smith and Chuck Todd

14 January 2020 - 03:20 PM

There are rumblings at MSNBC. Clearly Shep Smith won't have any problem finding a job once his non-compete runs out and MSNBC is apparently looking at him.

Meanwhile Chuckles is stuggling in the ratings because ... well, mostly because he's Chuck Todd. That's got him on shaky ground. I'm sure it didn't help his cause when he told the world that his job as a supposed journalist wasn't to call out lies but just to report whatever people said. His December confession for being a dupe can't help either. Being perpetually wrong and looking dumb doesn't help especially with the elections coming up this year.


MSNBC talent and staffers are bracing for a major 2020 shakeup amid discussion of moving ratings-challenged Chuck Todd to a morning slot and execs talking with Fox News escapee Shepard Smith.

The goal of any reshuffle would be to shed ratings dead weight in the lead-up to the election. Sources at the network cautioned that a new look for the lineup is still up in the air, but brass have been batting around several options.

One of those is new blood in the form of Smith, who abruptly quit Fox News late last year after on-air skirmishes with Tucker Carlson and other prime-time hosts. Smith has had conversations with MSNBC President Phil Griffin about a potential gig when his non-compete clause expires, although his price tag is expected to be considerable for any interested network.

“It’s unclear what slot he would take, but we’d want him in prime-time,” an MSNBC insider told The Daily Beast. “We are well aware [Jeff] Zucker [president of CNN] is also pursuing him, as are a number of the networks.”

At 30 Rock, much of the tinkering is focused on the daytime schedule.

With the lackluster performance of Todd’s MTP Daily at 5 p.m.—“a hammock,” as one insider put it, between the robust ratings of Nicolle Wallace’s 4 p.m. show and Ari Melber’s 6 p.m. show—there has been talk of switching Todd to 9 a.m., as Page Six first reported. Under that scenario, the current 9 a.m. anchor, Stephanie Ruhle, could move to 3 p.m., where her financial expertise would mesh well with the market closings.

However, Todd is said to be resisting such a move. Several sources inside NBC cited the perception that his new slot would hurt him with an even bigger dip for any program that airs after the successful Morning Joe franchise. Others said that some of the show’s staffers were less than thrilled by the scheduling demands of an earlier time slot. One source told The Daily Beast that NBC News and MSNBC Chairman Andy Lack recently traveled to D.C. to meet with the Meet the Press staff to discuss the team’s weekend show and various other projects, including the show’s podcast and a possible role on NBC’s forthcoming streaming platform.

Who Makes Up Most of Our Military Recruits

13 January 2020 - 12:01 PM

Interesting piece on the geographic regions they come from and the huge impact of the military family tradition. There are maps that show some of the shifts (and non-shifts) of where recruits came from in 1998 compared to 2018.


Soldiers like him are increasingly making the United States military a family business. The men and women who sign up overwhelmingly come from counties in the South and a scattering of communities at the gates of military bases like Colorado Springs, which sits next to Fort Carson and several Air Force installations, and where the tradition of military service is deeply ingrained.

More and more, new recruits are the children of old recruits. In 2019, 79 percent of Army recruits reported having a family member who served. For nearly 30 percent, it was a parent — a striking point in a nation where less than 1 percent of the population serves in the military.

For years, military leaders have been sounding the alarm over the growing gulf between communities that serve and those that do not, warning that relying on a small number of counties that reliably produce soldiers is unsustainable, particularly now amid escalating tensions with Iran.

“A widening military-civilian divide increasingly impacts our ability to effectively recruit and sustain the force,” Anthony M. Kurta, acting under secretary of defense for personnel and readiness, told the National Commission on Military, National and Public Service last year. “This disconnect is characterized by misperceptions, a lack of knowledge and an inability to identify with those who serve. It threatens our ability to recruit the number of quality youth with the needed skill sets to maintain our advantage.”

To be sure, the idea of joining the military has lost much of its luster in nearly two decades of grinding war. The patriotic rush to enlist after the terrorist attacks of 2001 has faded. For a generation, enlisting has produced reliable hardship for troops and families, but nothing that resembles victory. But the military families who have borne nearly all of the burden, and are the most cleareyed about the risks of war, are still the Americans who are most likely to encourage their sons and daughters to join.

With the goal of recruiting about 68,000 soldiers in 2020, the Army is now trying to broaden its appeal beyond traditional recruitment pools. New marketing plays up future careers in medicine and tech, as well as generous tuition benefits for a generation crushed by student debt. The messaging often notes that most Army jobs are not in combat fields.

But for now, rates of military service remain far from equal in the United States, and the gap may continue to widen because a driving decision to enlist is whether a young person knows anyone who served in the military. In communities where veterans are plentiful, teachers, coaches, mothers, uncles and other mentors often steer youths toward military service. In communities where veterans are scarce, influential adults are more wary.

That has created a broad gap, easily seen on a map. The South, where the culture of military service runs deep and military installations are plentiful, produces 20 percent more recruits than would be expected, based on its youth population. The states in the Northeast, which have very few military bases and a lower percentage of veterans, produce 20 percent fewer.

We also used to allow immigrants to join and treated them properly for their service by extending citizenship. Now? Not so much. After all who needs more brown people to be sticking around in the White Republican Fascist States of America? (Stephen Miller says that out loud when he touches himself.)