Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
I scored a 23 which means "You are a soft-core libertarian. With effort, you may harden and become pure." Sounds about right to me.
H/T--The Unreligious Right
Ah, the Academy--where speech is protected and inquiry untrammeled--as long as you agree with the prevailing narrative.
This story is terrible, the conduct reprehensible (not the going to a sex club part--that's a choice an individual is free to make. Using RNC money to do it--that's reprehensible), and the leadership of the RNC should take responsibility. I'm not saying "take responsibility" in a Japanese WWII way--but I do think Steele must go.
Monday, March 29, 2010
Seems that the bill closes a tax loophole granted American businesses during the Bush Administration (the younger). In order to incent businesses to keep their retirees enrolled in their own prescription drug benefit plans (rather than offload them to the new Medicare Prescription Drug benefit), companies were offered tax breaks.
This new bill eliminates the tax break.
This means taxes will rise.
Which means profits will go down, in ceteris paribus.
Which means public corporations are obligated to report balance sheet adjustments to their shareholders. Which several have done.
News is dribbling out of large US Companies taking one time "charges" against that represent anticipated costs that would not have been borne under the previous taxation regime. ATT is claiming $1B; Caterpillar, Verizon, John Deere and others have announced charges of their own. Because this does not fit the "bending the cost curve" narrative of the One and his henchman, Henry Waxman is hauling CEO's before a Congressional Committee to browbeat and intimidate these businesspeople. Here's how I'd like to hear one of them talk:
"Mr. Chairman, thank you for this opportunity to explain to you and to the other members of this body some important, fundamental facts about running a business. I don't expect you to have a firm grasp of these points, just as I wouldn't think that you would believe me well-versed in the arcana of machinery of the House of Representatives.
I am the CEO of (Company X). I must sign the financial reports that my company is duty bound as a public company to file. I am personally and criminally liable should those reports purposefully mislead stockholders or potential stockholders.
The law of the land granted my company and others a tax break to ensure that we would continue to fund prescription drug benefits for our retirees, even after a generous prescription drug benefit was passed by the Congress. This financial fact of life is reflected my corporate balance sheet in a lower tax "expense" than would have been the case in the absence of the law.
The new healthcare plan removes that tax break. I am not here to quibble with that fact--it is after all, the law of the land. But as a dutiful officer with fiduciary duty in (XXX COMPANY), I am legally obligated to inform stockholders of major changes to our financial statements. As this tax break has been removed, our tax expense will increase, which will cause a concomitant decrease in our profitability. These are the facts, and they are not in dispute.
Are our memories so short that we have forgotten the lynch mobs assembled when the management of Global Crossing, Enron, and Lehman Brothers appeared to have withheld pertinent financial data from stockholders and debtholders? Were not some of the hearings designed to reveal these crimes not held in this very room?
Mr. Chairman, I am sorry that it is inconvenient to you and others politically that legislation you supported will have wholly foreseeable consequences on American businesses. If you invite me back, I'd be pleased to spend additional time with you to explain a number of them, so that we might be educated in advance, and avoid another Stalin-like show trial. But for the time being, I wish to register with you here today, and with the American people watching and listening, my complete and utter disdain for you, this body, and your incredible short-sightedness. You haul us up here as if we are common criminals, because we are doing what the law requires us to do. You preen about a bill you believe will cut costs without having the slightest idea how it will perform such a trick.
Mr. Chairman, this is a deeply offensive moment for the country. This body has brought discredit upon itself today."
Sunday, March 28, 2010
As you know, I'm not much of a social conservative. I have some views on abortion that are pretty mainstream, but mostly, I'm tired of it coloring so many different policy questions. That said, the more I learn about THIS BILL, the more I realize that social conservatives who fought the bill as hard as they did--did so from a position of strength. They are on the right side of this one--not from a policy perspective so much, but from the perspective of stating positively and plainly that this bill does in fact create the conditions for federal funding of abortions. President Obama signed and Executive Order that HE AS A CONSTITUTIONAL SCHOLAR knows is meaningless.
1. President Obama is fully within his rights to do this. It is a Constitutionally sanctioned act, and as such, I support it completely.
2. Elections have consequences--and when a President is elected, he gets to nominate people to serve in his administration. It is the Senate's job to treat with them. Senatorial "holds" are ridiculous; BUT, they are ALSO Constitutional, as the Constitution leaves it to the legislative bodies to regulate themselves.
3. Therefore, both the President and the Senate (at least those making the "holds") are acting Constitutionally AND predictably.
4. It will be interesting to see how the Bought and Paid For Media reacts to these appointments (recess appointments allow the person to serve through the end of the Congressional term--which for these appointments, is the first week in January of 2011). Here is a blog post that reminds us (H/T Instapundit) of how President' Bush's recess appointments were treated by the New York Times in 2006. I'm sure we can all look forward to similar criticism of President Obama from the Times in the days ahead. Go ahead, start holding your breath.....
5. Look for the BAPF media to mimic White House communication points on this matter--here is a taste of what we can expect from the horses mouths (The WH)--obviously, the White House and the WaPost would like us to FORGET about the remaining six years of the Bush Presidency where the well was further poisoned:
"The White House said the 15 appointees have waited an average of 214 days for a Senate confirmation vote. In all, the White House said, Obama has 217 nominees pending before the Senate, including 77 who are only awaiting a final floor vote.By comparison, the White House said, President George W. Bush had five nominees waiting for final Senate approval at this point in his presidency. Bush had used recess appointments to fill 15 posts by this time in 2002, the White House said."
Saturday, March 27, 2010
And a related story from Salon.com, detailing 'hipster' couple Gerry and Sarah's big city smorgasbord of mint chutney, roasted rabbit and gourmet ice cream on food stamps.
But these aren't your parents' food stamps. In 2008, the Department of Agriculture renamed the food stamp program Supplemental Nutrition and Assistance (SNAP) and issued electronic debit cards instead of coupons. That way, people like these poor hipsters won't have to suffer the indignity of taking food coupons up to the cash register.
But maybe that's the idea.
Friday, March 26, 2010
“We inherited a cynical republic,” he told a room full of supporters at a Northwest Dallas home. “And I can’t blame them. Eight years of collapse, eight years of being misled about wars.
They [Republicans] still believe cynicism will prevail, that the government can’t do anything, that we’re a bunch of socialists – all these things you hear. I think the healthcare debate put a big stake in the heart of that argument.”
Yes, Mr. Vice President, the healthcare debate has done a great deal to dispel Americans' cynicism in their government.
Diet start (June 1): 189
Last Friday: 174.2 (2/26/10)
Goal: Sub 170
That's right. I've gained nearly eight pounds in a month, and here's why:
1. I'm an execrable person.
2. I have been eating like a pig, not watching either what I eat or how much of it I eat.
3. I have not been exercising nearly as often.
I think all things considered, my body wants to be over 190 pounds. This is not a good thing, as many of you have probably noticed that I am somewhat vertically challenged. So here's what I'm going to do about it:
1. I'm going to exercise more. If it means sacrificing some of my morning blog time, so be it. If it means doing so out in the mancave after dinner, or even late into the evening, so be it.
2. I must return to the discipline of weighing myself OFTEN
3. I must return to the discipline of thinking about what I eat before I eat it.
Ok--enough of that--this is about YOU. This is YOUR DAY. This is the Big Fat Friday Free For ALL! What's on your mind--besides our slide into serfdom? Centralized healthcare? Centralized pensions? Centralized student loans? Are there things you wish to get off your chest? Then DO SO--because this is YOUR FORUM!
Thursday, March 25, 2010
Looks like Peggy Joseph has the last laugh.
UPDATE: Bloomberg News is reporting that more than half of US borrowers who received loan modifications on delinquent mortgages defaulted again after nine months.
UPDATE II: Part of the new housing policy will include "strongly encouraging" lenders to write down the value of loans for borrowers in modification programs. Up until now, the HAMP program has focused on lowering interest rates. There's a moral (hazard) in this story somewhere...
In The Corner, National Review's irreplaceable blog, the irreplaceable Jay Nordlinger (along with Mona Charen) write posts in defense of David Frum. They cite his long history of conservative thinking, his service in the Bush Administration, and his general bonhomie. I take a backseat to no one in my judgment of Jay Nordlinger's good judgment (and bonhomie for that matter), but Frum's offense here isn't one of history--it's one of incredibly bad analysis. Read the Waterloo blog entry again--and then ask yourself if it comports with your memory of recent history. President Obama, Speaker Pelosi and Leader Reid never considered Republican support of any real importance--why? Because as Frum aptly put it--they didn't need it. Frum's assertion that Obama "badly" wanted Republican support is zany--he badly wanted Republican support for Democratic ideas. It wasn't just Rush and Beck who were complaining that Republican ideas were being left out of early proposals--it was the ADULTS in the Republican party. There were serious, serious policy differences between Republicans and Democrats. That Frum can now point to a bill that he believes is insubstantially different than past Republican ideas is a direct RESULT of the kind of insurgent movement among Republicans and others that Frum now seems to rail against. Without it, we would have a far different bill. And let's also not forget--it was SPLITS IN THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY that kept the fight going as long as it did--these were splits largely aided and abetted by people more in line with what Republicans were thinking.
Do I think this bad analysis was a firing offense? No. Do I think his body of work is defensible? Absolutely. Do I think this blog entry was? Absolutely not.
"One of the nation's largest labor unions, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) is promoting a plan that will centralize all retirement plans for American workers, including private 401(k) plans, under one new "retirement system" for the United States."
According to Ross Eisenbrey, Vice President of the Economic Policy Institute, a think tank working with the SEIU on this initiative, only three in ten workers have a 401(k) plan or similar savings plan. In 2006, the median 401(k) account balance was $25,000, and the median for workers nearing retirement was $40,000.
The "Retirement USA Initiative" would pool assets under one centralized body, to be administered by professional investment managers. Presumably, these would be the same professional investment managers who screwed the pooch with similar state and municipal worker pension funds around the country.
No thanks, I'll take my chances.
Many people consider an insurance mandate to be a TAX . A tax on people making under $200K--in many cases, substantially less than $200K.
George Stephanopolous called the President on this during an interview in September 2009, and the President got all fussy with him, maintaining stridently that it wasn't a "tax".
So--now that several state attorneys general seek to overturn the individual mandate portion of the healthcare bill---Obama Administration Spokesman EJ Dionne (aw, just kidding) informs us that the mandate is--here it comes---legal--because it is---A TAX--and not an overreach of the Congress in regulating commerce. Here's the key part: "It would take a rashly activist court to find the individual mandate unconstitutional because it is structured as a tax. No one will go to jail for not buying insurance. Starting in 2014, people who refuse will have to pay a penalty to the federal government, administered by the IRS. There are subsidies for those who cannot afford coverage on their own, as well as hardship exemptions."
Putting aside for a moment the obvious tip of the hand of the left with respect to their talking points on how this case may play out (judicial activism and such--which is only bad when protecting rights guaranteed by the Constitution), there's the fact that it reveals THE BIG FAT LIE that the Obama Administration has obviously made. The mandate IS a TAX. It will be an increase on MANY PEOPLE MAKING LESS THAN $200K.
There is a delicious quandary coming for the Obama Administration--should these cases get to the Supreme Court, the Administration's legal defense is GOING TO HAVE TO BE that the mandate is simply a TAX, a power the Constitution does in fact grant the Congress. Republicans should do all they can to get this one before the Supremes.
"Family business of working for healthcare". I'll say. John Dingell's never done a day of "business business" in his life. But I digress.
Broder's obviously a HUGE FAN of the healthcare atrocity, but even his cheerleading cannot hide the basic chicanery at the heart of this bill. Broder lightly puts it this way: "Inevitably, the cost of the guarantees embodied in this bill will confront a future Congress with hard choices these legislators finessed."
"Finessed"? I'll say. I love it when even someone on their side acknowledges that this bill is a lie.
When the editorial pages of the Washington Post treat the effort with the respect that this piece did, it seems to me that idea may have quite a bit more merit than I thought. I'll try and educate myself further on the matter.
That said--were the Supreme Court to find the mandates CONSTITUTIONAL--I would support a mandate IF AND ONLY IF extension of "coverage" to pre-existing conditions was forced upon the insurance industry. If you--like me--wish to see insurance coverage provided by private companies, rather than the government; and if you--like me--believe that denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions is coming to be seen as an important policy problem to be overcome; and if you--like me--see forcing insurance companies to take on people with existing conditions not as "insurance" but as an "entitlement"--than we are left without a good policy option to "deepen the risk pool"--except the mandate. If the mandate is found unconstitutional--but the requirement to cover pre-existing conditions remains--the insurance industry will be faced with a HUGE COST driver which will be passed along to those with insurance. Premium hikes are guaranteed by the bill as it is--without the mandate, the hikes will be substantial.
Bottom line--if the Supremes find the mandate unconstitutional, then the requirement to cover pre-existing conditions becomes problematic--both from a cost standpoint, and a political one. Republicans would have to be careful how they contest it, as they will assuredly be criticized for "taking away my healthcare" if they overturn (politically) the pre-existing conditions coverage requirement.
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
And for those of you who miss the Navy a bit, tune in for the memory.....
But 17-year-old Alex Herrmann of Glenbrook South High School in Illinois (where The Breakfast Club was set!) has called every game perfectly thus far this year. Including Kansas. Alex is autistic and a bit of a stats-watcher.
Think about how remarkable this is, particularly this season with upsets galore. When everyone was whining on Saturday night about how sad it was that Kansas lost, I recall thinking that the Northern Iowa kids would have a story to tell the rest of their life. So will Alex Herrman.
Next thing you know, he'll quietly begin assembly on a massive space station orbiting the Earth, complete with a fleet of interplanetary space shuttles equipped with death lasers. His masterstroke - a diamond-tipped drill able to reach the Earth's inner core and unleash liquid Hell onto the surface above unless the world can come up with a suitable ransom.
Bill Gates must be stopped.
Here's what I'm thinking for tonight.
1. Health Care
A. Dem Triumph on two levels
i. Extending coverage—in their DNA
ii. Changing the basic government/governed relationship (also in DNA)
B. What does this mean for 2010?
i. Will Republicans be able to capitalize?
ii. Or will the American Public forget about it by then?
C. What should Republicans do?
2. Student Loan Industry
A. Huge government takeover underway (part of healthcare legislation)
B. US no longer guarantor of private, low interest student loans
C. Those funds now go to more direct loans from the Fed gov’t to students
D. System awash in money
i. Tuition rising while amount of loans/funding rises. Linkage?
E. Middle class entitlement, Scarlet “E”
3. The Economy
B. What credit can the President take?
i. Did the stimulus stimulate?
ii. Role of TARP?
C. Is this a false recovery?
D. Should we fear inflation? Are you buying gold?
A. What they are
B. Why they happen
C. Why they are unpopular
D. Why getting rid of them is a bad idea
5. Lazy Book Review—“The Great Gatsby”
A. Yet another classic I saved for late in life
B. What’s all the hubbub, Old Sport?
C. The Scarlet Letter—Now there’s a classic!
6. Sandra Bullock/Jesse James
A. Surprise? Uh, no.
B. Why do men cheat?
C. Why do women cheat?
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
I realize that it is unlikely the Supreme Court will overturn the law, but wouldn't it be wonderful vindication for Justice Alito to write the majority opinion?
A guy can dream, can't he?
"I think ultimately Obama understands that he has just added an unbelievably large entitlement onto a country drowning in debt. He is not stupid. I think he has anticipated this, and I think that he, from the beginning, had a plan. And the plan is going to be the deficit reduction commission, which will report only after November - and I'm absolutely sure it will recommend something new in American history, a national sales tax which is called a VAT in Europe."
We're all European now...
1. If you have a moment, read Ghost of Halloween Past's comments at the bottom of my post on the healthcare legislation yesterday. GHP's a great girl and all, but she's sorta at the leading edge of my whole "neo-socialism" thrust. She can--and does--write quite honestly that there isn't anything "socialist" about what will be signed today. And strictly speaking, she's right--which is why I prefer to call it "neo-socialism". This is of course, the prevailing view of the left these days--they have seen the failure of socialism as a political strategy worldwide--and they were intellectually bereft for nearly twenty years, until capitalism's latest bout with creative destruction gave them an opening. And they are POURING through it now, not armed with the theories of Marx and Lenin as in days of old, but armed with the work of social justice theorists, academics, and economists who look wistfully across the Atlantic at Europe and say, "they have it better than we". They would have us believe that capitalism and competition have failed us, and that we now need the comforting hand of the government to smooth out the inconsistencies in how Americans live their lives. Never mind that the "comforting hand" of government in our present capitalist system fails routinely to effectively and/or efficiently carry out on a small scale that which they would now have it do on a large scale. Never mind that the "comforting hand" of government--as wielded by those on the RIGHT AND THE LEFT is an un-indicted co-conspirator in the financial crisis atop which they now stand and cry "injustice" and "failure". Bottom line here? GHP is right--this healthcare legislation is not socialism. It is neo-socialism to its core, and it even more dangerous as a political force because it presents us with the "boiling frog" conundrum (NOTE TO RIDICULOUSLY LITERAL READERS--I cite this pithy little saying because of its widespread use, not because of its physiological relevance to amphibians). Put a frog in cold water and slowly raise the temperature. As the frog passes through the lovely warm water on the way to hot, he is eventually boiled without knowing what hit him. Neo-socialism is that slow boil, and it will weaken our nation over time.
2. It is possible that with this legislation--coming on top of the debt piled up by both the Bush and Obama Administrations (and with the prospect of more coming)--has created the conditions for accelerating America's decline as a world power. We simply cannot afford to spend $700B a year on defense, at the same time we greatly increase social spending and infrastructure spending, at the same time we try to cut deficits and debt, at the same time that we maintain a tax regime that fosters innovation and growth. These are incompatible ends, I am afraid. When one looks across the Atlantic at European nations and envies their high standards of living, one must also recognize that they are not the world's leading economic, military and political powers. They are comfortably numb, irrelevant diplomatically and feckless militarily. Those who would have us look to these economies as models would be horrified by their inability to do EVEN BASIC things to alleviate human suffering around the world under emergency conditions. Our military gives us the ability to change outcomes--political, military, diplomatic, and social. But it will be the bill-payer for both social programs AND debt reduction. With the loss of our military flexibility will go our influence, our capability, and our capacity.
3. I think the worst thing Republicans can do is to run around shouting "REPEAL". It seems easy, it seems right, it seems effective, it seems to be common sense. But it is a losing strategy politically. Again--GHP is right. Things COULD HAVE BEEN A LOT WORSE if she and others like her had gotten their way. But in our country, a determined majority can get things done, and that is exactly what the Democrats did. Now there are a TON of things wrong with this bill--but a good many of them won't really be apparent for YEARS. What will be apparent early? Its benefits. Just like GHP said. Extension of healthcare benefits to those without. Coverage of pre-existing conditions. Both of which are IN THE ABSTRACT very popular with the American public. When you begin to educate them (as the opposition did over the past six months), they become less enamored with the ideas. But the shouting is over, they bill passed, and guess what? Things that many Americans perceive as "good" are going to start happening RIGHT AWAY. What will be the noise heard if Republicans take the "REPEAL" strategy? "They are taking my healthcare away". "They are denying me care". There are HUGE TRAPS in pursuing this strategy--and let's face it--very few groups are as comfortable with squandering advantage as the Republican Party. Pursue this strategy and we'll find ourselves steadily declining with those we seek to influence--the apolitical, the folks in the middle, the folks who "swing elections".
4. So what to do? First, recognize that this isn't the Apocalypse. The forces of good DID have a lot of impact on the legislation (as GHP's lamentations reinforce). Are there things that are abysmal about it? Of course. So let's look REALLY hard at how to go about changing the REALLY bad things. Additionally, we need to advocate strongly for getting things INTO the system that did not make the cut--things that would actually LOWER COSTS for the 85% of people who have health insurance. Popular things--like TORT REFORM. Like SMALL BUSINESS POOLING. Like COMPETITION ACROSS STATE LINES. I know it is tempting to just "REPEAL" everything--but it is politically a non-starter, as long as a Democratic President has one end of Pennsylvania Avenue and Republicans do not possess a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. So--when's the last time Republicans had the Presidency and a filibuster-proof majority? Not in my lifetime.
So--my advice to those who might be listening--is get in there and fight to make this "system" better. Concentrate on the inefficient and unpopular--NOT the popular--parts of the legislation. Divide it and conquer it. Take the long view--and we will all be better off in the end.
Monday, March 22, 2010
THE ANT AND THE GRASSHOPPER
This one is a little different... Two Different Versions...
The ant works hard in the withering heat all summer long, building his house and laying up supplies for the winter.
The grasshopper thinks the ant is a fool and laughs and dances and plays the summer away..
Come winter, the ant is warm and well fed.
The grasshopper has no food or shelter, so he dies out in the cold.
MORAL OF THE STORY: Be responsible for yourself!
The ant works hard in the withering heat and the rain all summer long, building his house and laying up supplies for the winter.
The grasshopper thinks the ant is a fool and laughs and dances and plays the summer away.
Come winter, the shivering grasshopper calls a press conference and demands to know why the ant should be allowed to be warm and well fed while he is cold and starving.
CBS, NBC , PBS, CNN, and ABC show up to provide pictures of the shivering grasshopper next to a video of the ant in his comfortable home with a table filled with food.
America is stunned by the sharp contrast.
How can this be, that in a country of such wealth, this poor grasshopper is allowed to suffer so?
Kermit the Frog appears on Oprah with the grasshopper and everybody cries when they sing, 'It's Not Easy Being Green.'
ACORN stages a demonstration in front of the ant's house where the news stations film the group singing, "We shall overcome." Then Rev. Jeremiah Wright has the group kneel down to pray to God for the grasshopper's sake.
President Obama condemns the ant and blames President Bush, President Reagan, Christopher Columbus, and the Pope for the grasshopper's plight.
Nancy Pelosi & Harry Reid exclaim in an interview with Larry King that the ant has gotten rich off the back of the grasshopper, and both call for an immediate tax hike on the ant to make him pay his fair share.
Finally, the EEOC drafts the Economic Equity & Anti-Grasshopper Act retroactive to the beginning of the summer.
The ant is fined for failing to hire a proportionate number of green bugs and, having nothing left to pay his retroactive taxes, his home is confiscated by the Government Green Czar and given to the grasshopper.
The story ends as we see the grasshopper and his free-loading friends finishing up the last bits of the ant's food while the government house he is in, which, as you recall, just happens to be the ant's old house, crumbles around them because the grasshopper doesn't maintain it.
The ant has disappeared in the snow, never to be seen again.
The grasshopper is found dead in a drug related incident, and the house, now abandoned, is taken over by a gang of spiders who terrorize the ramshackle, once prosperous and once peaceful, neighborhood.
The entire Nation collapses bringing the rest of the free world with it.
MORAL OF THE STORY: Be careful how you vote in 2010.
I've sent this to you because I believe that you are an ant - not a grasshopper! Make sure that you pass this on to other ants. Don't bother sending it on to any grasshoppers because they wouldn't understand it, anyway.
I returned from my visit to North Carolina to find that the Kitten had done some wonderfully marvelous things to upgrade the ManCave. Her brother has been working hard on the walls and the trim an he finished up last week. Things are really beginning to shape up.....
|Well, we're down to the Sweet 16, and it is obvious that I know nothing about college basketball. It is also obvious that the ACC really sucks this year, as we've got one team left (Duke)--though that team does have the stuff to take it all. Have I told you lately how much I hate Duke?|
|Rank||Team Name||Score||Correct||Best Score||Best Correct||Champion|
|1||Kevin Cohen||42||33||82||41||Villanova (176)|
|2||Jim McGrath||40||32||96||40||Kansas (113)|
|3||Sean McGrath||39||30||159||43||Ohio St. (144)|
|4||Ken Adams||38||30||102||40||Kansas (102)|
|5||Cindy Maladra||37||30||93||39||Kansas (160)|
|6||Bryan McGrath||36||29||72||34||Kansas (158)|
|7||Ben Fox||35||26||115||34||Kentucky (134)|
|8||Patrick McGrath||34||27||78||33||Kansas (145)|
|9||Greg Dail||33||27||129||36||Kentucky (163)|
|10||Caroline Ervin||32||25||84||33||Kansas (183)|
A couple of thoughts on the morning after.
1. This is not now, nor was it ever, about healthcare. It was about fundamentally reshaping the role of government in our lives, an alteration of the relationship between the governed and the government. The Democratic Party has seen the centrality of government in delivering healthcare as the key element of their social program, and though we have moved in the direction of socialized medicine over the years, this is a "great leap" in that direction.
2. What is done is difficult to undo. Even if the Republicans capture both chambers in upcoming Congressional elections, they will not have veto-proof majorities, rendering any attempt to overturn key portions of this legislation ineffective, as President Obama will simply veto them. Republicans MUST capture the White House in order to undo this travesty. That almost all of the revenue producing portions of the bill (read: TAXES) start immediately, and all the spending portions (read: SPENDING) start after 2014 (a gimmick designed to keep the total price down), is a good thing for Republicans--there will be two full years of taxing imposed on the American people before they see any of the promised "benefits" of the legislation.
3. I've got to hand it to my Congressman (Frank Kratovil, D-MD 1). He voted against the legislation. I didn't think he had it in him. He's made Republican Andy Harris' job even more difficult in unhorsing him.
4. I cannot even think about the photos of the Speaker, the Majority Leader and the President basking in the glow of their accomplishment. It makes me queasy.
5. But make no mistake about it. This is a HUGE legislative victory for the President and the Democratic Party. They have DELIVERED. Elections matter, they did what they needed to do in 2006 and 2008, and now we have this monstrous instantiation of creeping socialism to remind us of it.
6. If the Republican Party can't use this "loss" as a spur to great victory in November 2010, it will be guilty of political malpractice. There is a lot here to run against, and there are a lot of Democrats whose vote last night ought to be considered a political suicide note.
7. This legislative session is dead. The President may try and raise immigration reform, green jobs, cap and trade, school reform---etc--but Washington is TIRED, and all thoughts will now turn to fund-raising and November elections.
Sunday, March 21, 2010
Saturday, March 20, 2010
Friday, March 19, 2010
What other horrors are keeping you awake at night? Have you paid your taxes? Are you aware of the capital gains tax increase coming with healthcare if you are "Rich" (AGI above $200K single, $250K Married filing jointly)?
Is your pool busted already by Georgetown losing?
Unburden yourselves in the space provided here!
Thursday, March 18, 2010
"Although CBO completed a preliminary review of legislative language prior to its release, the agency has not thoroughly examined the reconciliation proposal to verify its consistency with the previous draft. This estimate is therefore preliminary, pending review of the language of the reconciliation proposal, as well as further review and refinement of the budgetary projections."
Democrats in the House and Senate are reported to be 'giddy'. I don't share their glee. By way of comparison, in 1966 the House Ways & Means Committee estimated that Medicare would cost $12 billion in 1990. In 1990, the actual cost of Medicare was $107 billion.
And both the Ways & Means and CBO's estimates are said to have been conservative.
Alert secret service agents quickly gunned down Mrs. Cowen to save the Vice President further political embarrassment.
What do you think? Should we distance ourselves from Israel? Should we appear more of an "honest broker" by finding ways to demonstrate that distance? Is a strategic relationship with Israel in our national interest?
So this morning, I read the linked to story above, and of course, the academics of our world have their panties in a wad over what Texas appears to be doing. So lets take a look at some of what is mentioned in the article, shall we?
1. The curriculum plays down the role of Thomas Jefferson among the Founding Fathers. I'm ok with this. TJ had a lot to do with the Declaration of Independence, but was in France for the Constitutional Convention (and wasn't too happy with what he heard was going on anyway). Recent historical inquiry into his behind the scenes political machinations and his likely personal relationship with his slave Sally Hemmings has Jefferson's stock down a bit, but it will probably rise someday.
2. Questions the separation of church and state. It should be questioned--because the phrase isn't mentioned in the Constitution. It is mentioned most prominently in a letter from the aforementioned Mr. Jefferson, but the Founding Fathers' view of the role of religion in public life is a far cry from what it has come to be interpreted as by largely 20th century Supreme Courts. The Constitution provides for freedom to practice and prohibits the government from "establishing" religion.....it does not prohibit creches in front of fire stations.
3. Communist infiltration of US government after WWII. This one really bothers the academy because well, they are just a little bit sensitive to Communist baiting. But the US Government WAS infiltrated by Communists and Venona DID give us some of that information.
Now that I've informed myself a bit more about this issue, I'll put it back under the file of things I care little about.
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
A ride in Air Force One is apparently all it takes - that and assurances that the public option will be put back in play.
Here's what Rep. Kucinich said just 10 days ago about the push to getting any bill passed to build upon:
"You're building on sand. There's no structure here. You're building on a foundation of privatization of our health care system. That's the problem. The insurance companies are the problem. They're nothing to build on."
He's right about one thing - I'm not seeing any structure here.
But he's written a pretty good swipe here at the Democrats. Key lines: "Liberals tend to blame this state of affairs on the brilliance of Republican fear-mongering. Meaning the slashing wittiness of Sarah Palin? The irresistible charisma of Mitch McConnell? The more likely explanation: Americans are engaged in a serious national debate about the role and size of government, in which the advocates of government-dominated health care are significantly outnumbered and vastly outmatched in enthusiasm. America, despite liberal fear-mongering, has not become "Glenn Beckistan." But it is not yet Europe"
Hoping Big Fred will join in and assume back-up host duties should I have technical difficulties
Here's the working agenda for the program:
--The Gitmo Bar--will cover this as long as folks want to talk about it
--POTUS v. SCOTUS
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Back to hoops. Even when I was in my fittest condition (fast becoming a distant memory), I could never quite master the act of "hula-ing" a hoop for more than about three revolutions as it accelerated at 9.8 meters/second squared toward the ground. I have always been convinced that you had to have "girl muscles" to do that, sort of like that trick of bending at the waist, putting your head against the wall, picking up a chair and attempting to stand up...typically, only females can do that. So, when I stumbled upon this video, it was clear that the hula hoop was made for women to hula and men just to watch.
Trust me, men, don't try this at home. This hooper, Elena Lev, is a professional...and she's definitely got girl muscles.
Interesting choice of words, Madame Speaker.
Here is the site: CBS March Mayhem
The password to use is: cwrocks
I know, I know--lots of Cato Institute privacy "activists" don't want to "sign up" blah, blah, blah--government tracking---blah blah blah----just GET IN THE POOL!!!!
UPDATE: Trying to entice some Dem/Lawyer friends to come on the show and discuss The Gitmo Bar--will keep you informed of my progress.
Monday, March 15, 2010
Donna has a goal too - to become the world's fattest woman. She's one for the books already - reaching the title of world's fattest mother in 2007 at 531 lbs. after the birth of her daughter. Currently weighing in at 631 lbs, Ms Simpson hopes to reach her goal weight of 1,000 lbs through a strict regimen of junk food and sedentary living. "I'd love to be 1,000 lbs," said Simpson, "but it might be hard though, running after my daughter keeps my weight down."
Fight the good fight, Donna...fight the good fight.
As I'm sure Representative Ryan knows--this has never been "the central problem" to the Democrats. The central problem to Democrats is extending healthcare to the uninsured--and therefore, the 85% who already have health insurance have NEVER been central to their schemes.
First, while China is a ridiculously hyperactive economic power, it has some basic systemic problems. The population is aging at the same time it is prospering--a new sense of entitlement WILL create a demand for growth slowing social investment. Some say "China will get old before it gets rich".
Second, the selective abortion of girls throughout the years (a consequence of the "one child" policy) has resulted in a nifty little imbalance in numbers between the sexes. Restive, horny, lonely males are almost never a good thing for a stable country, and tens of millions of them will be a double plus bad thing.
Third, the competition we are in with China (or to put it more appropriately, the competition THEY are in) has the potential to someday turn into conflict--either armed, direct conflict or through surrogates as much of the Cold War was fought. THINKING about fighting the Chinese someday does not mean that we will fight the Chinese someday. Planning a fight with the Chinese does not make such a fight any more likely. We can and must seek ways to work with the Chinese around the world to try and urge them to apply their might and power to the ends of the global system from which they benefit very handsomely. But while we seek avenues of cooperation--we should not be hamstrung by a Western sense of mono-modality, one that restricts us from thinking through ways to limit their power, ways to slow their rise, ways to create problems for them around the world, on their borders and within China itself.
China is thinking through these problems every day, and they are actively engaged in exactly this competition with us. They ARE preparing to fight us. They don't say so publicly--but then again, we wouldn't have to (or want to--yet) either.
I don't see much evidence in this administration of ANY interest in really thinking through "The China Problem", mostly because they want to wish the problem away. But it isn't going away. Like the boiling frog metaphor, if we wait until China begins to act in obvious hegemonic ways, it will have been too late.
UPDATE: STOP THE PRESSES--HELL HAS FROZEN OVER!!!! I agree with Paul Krugman on something.
Ms. Thompson is pretty open about the money she made--relatively good money--in a mostly cash business. One wonders if there are any IRS agents reading about her this morning.
Secondly, as a contractor, I have empathy for my sister Quansa. Fight the power, girl.
Sunday, March 14, 2010
Additionally, there are the accumulated clothes of some twenty-five years of adulthood. Sigma Chi Derby Days t-shirts from 1986. My Italian National Soccer Team jersey. Going out cattin' around in DC clothes that seem oddly misplaced on the Eastern Shore. A ton of UVA t-shirts, sweatshirts, fleeces, golf tops, etc. The linen suit purchased in Italy. The Irish National Rugby Team jersey. Ties accumulated over the years yet unworn. Ties worn in years past, but which now do not pass the test. And the uniforms. Twenty-five years of uniforms (4 at UVA NROTC plus 21). The dress uniforms, the mess dress uniforms, the service dress uniforms, the working uniforms, the coveralls, the flight suit (yes, I had one), the jackets, the ties, the shoes. I cannot believe how much closet space has been taken up by the accreted purchases of 25 years of expanding and contracting waistlines and uniform updates.
Most of it is being packed up for storage in some ignominious cube somewhere in Talbot County. I am closing up shop, walking away from urban Bryan to live a more rural life without the option of spending occasional nights in my little Cathedral To Me.
The Kitten has been very understanding about what it is like to blend into an ongoing family in an established household. The garage ManCave has become something of a work of pride to her, and some of the furniture from my Arlington crib will find itself there. I seek to establish a "Chapel To Me" in Easton on our farm, in the space set aside for me to work and seek solitude. My big leather couch and white chair will be there. The 56 inch TV will be there. Some of my Arlington furniture will be there. It will essentially be a little version of the Arlington apartment--which was a version of the Norfolk house, which was a version of the Arlington Apartment, which was a version of the Coronado apartment, which was a version of the Arlington Apartment, which was a version of the Norfolk townhouse, which was a version of the Vienna townhouse, which was a version of the Norfolk townhouse, which was a version of the Norfolk apartment....
I am stopping by the Church today to drop off eight large garbage bags of clothes, bed linens, towels and placemats for the Spring Church Sale, as in order to fit into the limited space parceled out for me on the farm, I must economize. It was time anyway. There will be some very well dressed folks ambling about in the environs of Easton, sporting shirts that once cost me $80 but which now get a raised eyebrow from the traditional and classic-minded Kitten.
The plain truth of the matter is that I got tired of shelling out the Drachma each month to keep the divided lifestyle. My heart and my checkbook are in Easton--my stuff is in Arlington. But over time, more and more of my stuff has moved across the Bay Bridge--slowly, but steadily. Sure--having a place to crash makes staying late for that meeting that COULD turn into business easier to make. I'll have to be more judicious in scheduling. I'll have to stay at a hotel occasionally--or crash at friends houses (are you listening, folks?).
The move is a slow one...the truck comes on April 28, but I've been moving the contents of the apartment a little at a time each trip back and forth. I've loved this life, this apartment, this city, this vibe. Stringing Christmas lights each year on the balcony in preparation for the annual Christmas Party has become one of my favorite acts. Fact is, they are still out there (which ought to make you happy, Hammer, as I'm sure there's plenty of that going on in your neighborhood, except that theirs are lit each night). Maybe I'll leave them for the next resident.
It is time to simplify, to combine, and to move on. My home is with Catherine, Hope and Hannah, and not with a 56inch TV and a leather couch. Ok--well, a little piece of my home will feature those things......
Saturday, March 13, 2010
Now Olbermann has managed to keep his name relevant for at least one more day through a dust up with ESPN columnist Bill Simmons, on Simmons' comparison of Tiger Woods' comeback to that of Muhammad Ali. On Woods' comeback, Simmons wrote, "when Tiger Woods returns to golf, he will face a level of pressure that well surpasses anything any other transcendent athlete has faced in my lifetime."
Simmons comments drew a fair amount of negative response, including this gem from Olbermann on his blog:
"If the writer can let me know when Woods is punitively drafted by the military even though he is about eight years older than almost all the other draftees, I'll begin to take him seriously. In the interim I am again left to marvel how somebody can rise to a fairly prominent media position with no discernible insight or talent, save for an apparent ability to mix up a vast bowl of word salad very quickly."
That's about the same way I feel after watching Countdown.
I wonder if there are any respected, peer reviewed studies of the impact on this kind of a sexual relationship on the young men involved. Anyone care to do a little Googlesearch on this one?
Don't get me wrong--I have no problem with Sulzberger making $6M. I have a problem with his editorial page excoriating others who also make money at the head of failing companies.
A story in the LA Times reports that three elementary school teachers during a recent Black History Month parade (really?) at a predominantly Latino school used poor judgement in their selection of posters they would carry.
Some background: There was an approved list from which to choose the poster each teacher would carry during this parade (have I said "really?" yet? I mean, are kids doing that well in school that they have time to go outside for racially-motivated parades?). Apparently, the official who approved the list, didn't actually read it because one of the honorees on the approved list was a gentleman by the name of Orenthal James Simpson. It is obvious why this Heisman-winning USC star, NFL star, movie star, technicien de couteau, Italian shoe model, Isotoner model, sort of black guy made the cut (poor choice of words...made the list).
So one of the three soon-to-be-suspended teachers decided, "well, okay, if you say so" and chose OJ for his poster. Two of his buddies, clearly miffed that their friend had taken the one they wanted, decided to go off list but stay on message and chose NBA basketball star and TSA metal detector tester, sort of black guy Dennis Rodman. The third, not to be outdone, chose Fashion Model/Music Recording Artist/TV-Movie Celeb, sort of black...sort of guy, Rupaul.
Well, this apparently did NOT sit well with any number of local racially exclusive organizations in the LA vicinity and there were calls for these educators to be suspended. Since one chose a person from the list, and the other two chose others who, although not on the list, were at least not incarcerated, I have to believe that the only reason these organizations were so upset is because of the questionable sexual orientations of the two that the teachers who went off-list chose. If this is the case, I implore my many, many close friends in Hollywood to rise up in vocal opposition to this homophobic assault on our society. No less than the morals of our children are at stake.
Speaking of which...when will the school be holding the Gay American History Month Parade?
Maybe then I will, for the first time, be proud of my country.
The overwhelming majority of terrorists we are targeting are male, young, and hail from predominately Islamic nations. Any effort designed to weight evaluation of such people higher than others is rational and efficient. Any system in which such people are not weighted more heavily is irrational and inefficient. The presence of a Jihad Jane does not change the numbers, the proportions or the efficiencies.
Robinson is inveighing against profiling because it makes certain people feel bad. This is insufficient grounds for discontinuing it.
"Require that any corporate executives or union leaders seeking to make political campaign expenditures first obtain a majority vote of shareholders or union members approving the specific expenditure, which would guarantee that the move would reflect the will of shareholders or union members, not the whims of the chief executive or union leader."
Presumably they mean campaign expenditures from corporate coffers (as opposed to their own, private expenditures), but the overall gist of their proposal seems to make sense to me. I continue to believe that "the corporation" does in fact, have a right to free speech--as it is a group of so ennobled citizens acting together to achieve commercial ends. That said, this proposal creates conditions under which such speech would actually represent a consensus of those involved, rather than just the will of a CEO or a Board of his/her cronies. Same goes for Unions.
I support this.
Friday, March 12, 2010
What are you thinking about, folks? What's got you up in arms? Are you a little jealous you didn't get to have a tickle fight with Representative Massa before he left DC? Living a desolate life after no radio show this week? Savin' your pennies for that lovely CW t-shirt?
Share friends, share.
Thursday, March 11, 2010
"I don't need to see my colleagues vote for the Senate bill in the House. We don't like the Senate bill. Why should we be forced to do that?" -- House Progressive Caucus co-chair Lynn Woolsey (D-CA).