Subscribe via RSS Feed

The Process Projection

[ 0 ] September 21, 2009 |

I obviously agree with Ed Kilgore’s point that voting for cloture should be the minimal acceptable standard for being a Democratic caucus member in good standing, but I think this is an especially important point:

Since 60 votes are required to “invoke cloture” and proceed to a vote, the White House strategy on health reform has oscillated between efforts to pull a few Senate Republicans across the line (shoring up “centrist” Democrats as a byproduct) to get to 60, and schemes to use budget reconciliation procedures, which prohibit filibusters.

This latter possibility has aroused dire threats of Armageddon from conservatives, most notably from New York Times columnist David Brooks, who said use of reconciliation for health reform would be “suicidal,” and would “permanently alienate independents.” Brooks cleverly conflated public misgivings about health reform with support for a filibuster, and equated a simple majority vote with an effort to “ram health care through” Congress. There is zero evidence at this point that voters are versed in the intricacies of Senate procedure, or cherish the right of 41 senators to dictate national policy.

The idea that because David Broder considers it important to adhere to whatever ad hoc procedural obstruction the Republicans have come up with means that the public cares about this stuff is absurd.

FacebookTwitterGoogle+Share

On Paying the Price

[ 0 ] September 21, 2009 |

Mike Goldfarb and I have fun re: missile defense. Here Mike insists that Obama will pay a price for killing the Eastern European system, and I disagree:

24th

[ 0 ] September 20, 2009 |

Holy crap. Not only did we not break Oregon State’s hallowed PAC-10 record of futility, thanks to Idaho (for whom one of my future brothers-in-law works for), but on the heels of the 16-13 upset of USC, Washington is in the rather unlikely position of being back in the national top-25.

Where we belong.
This time last year, the UW would have had a difficult time breaking the state top-25.
I was going to say something about English cricket in the one day internationals against Australia, but they somehow managed to win the seventh and final match, thus dragging their record in that series to 1-6. Good thing the Ashes don’t factor in the ODIs.

Now-Irrelevant Sex Scandal Produces One Potential Thing of Value!

[ 1 ] September 20, 2009 |

It’s kind of sad to see how much Kaus still has invested, and attempting to tar Elizabeth Edwards for the sins of her husband is especially unseemly, but I’ll say this: if Edwards fathering an out-of-wedlock child means that we can be rid of Mudcat “The Future of the Democratic Party is in Mississippi” Saunders,* it won’t have been a total loss for the Democratic Party. Alas, I’m sure the rule that no Democratic conultant shoud be without huge paydays irrespective of their track record will hold up…

*Or, alternatively, “Mark Penn with a Confederate comforter…”

Eeeeewoks!

[ 0 ] September 20, 2009 |

Call me a godless, gunless, pussified liberal, but I’ll never be able to comprehend the lingering appeal of a film based in part on the notion that scores of Soviet armored divisions might somehow invade North America via the ALCAN Highway. On second thought, that’s likely among the more plausible details from Red Dawn. At any rate, here’s Lance Mannion, in the midst of a wider meditation on the implausibility of seeing the film as vital either to the era or to Patrick Swayze’s career:

Red Dawn may have been an enjoyable popcorn movie . . . but taking it seriously either as a work of art or a political cautionary tale or even as a shoot-em-up on par with the best westerns or war movies is like saying that your favorite Star Wars movie was Return of the Jedi because of the Ewoks.

Brilliant. Though to make use of a cliched formulation, this is a bit unfair to the Ewoks, since it’s hard to imagine that their supporters — whom I’m sure exist somewhere — would be so unselfconscious as to name Iraq War missions after them. Then again, the film itself is a fabulously shitty expression of unselfconscious appropriation; as Devid Denby noted in his great and fittingly brutal review at the time, the film borrows from the actual legends and history of partisan — and frequently communist — resistance to Nazi occupation during World War II. I won’t speculate on how a film like that could have evolved into a cult classic within a military as dominant as that of the post-cold war US, but Red Dawn has always seemed more relevant as a prosthetic device for — you know — morons who have convinced themselves of late that by protesting Keynesian economics, they’ve approached moral equivalence with the Committees of Correspondence.

Dear Fox

[ 0 ] September 19, 2009 |

I know it’s been your mission to do what you can to degrade baseball coverage, but isn’t failing to broadcast the only game with postseason significance in order to show us…the goddamned Cubs yet again going a little too far? What the hell is wrong with you people?

Love,
Scott

(And, yes, yes, I know that this should be “Dear the Idiots At My Local Fox Affiliate”…)

…in fairness, without Fox’s idiocy I probably wouldn’t have watched a second of my alma mater’s game, which from SC’s standpoint I can say without hyperbole is the most humiliating loss in the history of organized human sporting activity.

The best health care system in the world is unlikely to succeed in killing you if your sister is a good enough lawyer

[ 1 ] September 18, 2009 |

That’s the basic moral of this story.

I did a town hall-style health care debate last night in Denver with Hugh Hewitt, before an audience of 973 people, 964 of whom were shall we say predisposed to favor Hewitt’s views on the matter over mine. One of the questions from the audience was about the linked controversy, which was proffered as evidence that Obama is telling lies to get “his” proposal enacted. Hewitt’s main argument against the present proposals is that they don’t do enough to lower medical malpractice costs, when ironically stories like this are if anything arguments for universal access to good legal advice.

State Courts: The Darker Side

[ 1 ] September 18, 2009 |

For less encouraging news about state judiciaries, we can turn to the state of Texas, where a man was sentenced to death in a trial in which the prosecutor and presiding judge were having an affair. You don’t have to be a legal scholar to see the, ah, rather obvious due process problems with a trail in which the state’s representative is literally having sexual relations with the allegedly neutral arbiter, and indeed even the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals can’t quite bring itself to deny it. Rather, it falls back on the tool so beloved by reactionary jurists everywhere, the arbitrary procedural Catch-22:

But Wednesday’s decision overturned the findings of a district court judge who had found that Mr. Hood should be allowed a hearing on a new trial. The decision did not discuss whether the affair had prejudiced his first trial; instead, the court rejected Mr. Hood’s claim on the ground that he should have raised it when he first appealed his 1990 conviction.

Yes, if Mr. Hood wanted to contest his unfair trial, he should have acquired a time machine, obtained the evidence that emerged 18 years later, returned, and presented it to the courts. If he was too lazy to do that, we can’t help him. The logic is impeccable.

If you submitted a novel based on the injustices of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, I’m sure it would be rejected as just too crude and implausible. Maybe this will be the sort of thing that shocks Tony Kennedy’s sporadic conscience….

Europe Roiling!!!! Seriously!!!

[ 0 ] September 18, 2009 |

Here’s a magic trick in the making! A key element of the conservative case against Obama on missile defense is that cutting the program will undercut our allies, and that it represents a “betrayal” of the brave Poles and Czechs who are willing to stand up against the Russian bear and accept large sums of our money. See this article on how the decision has “roiled” Europe, and this article on how Europeans are “angry”. The former article is particularly noteworthy, in that it includes quotes from the following persons:

  • President Barack Obama
  • Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kohout
  • Poland’s foreign minister, Radoslaw Sikorski
  • Former Polish President Lech Walesa
  • Arizona Sen. John McCain
  • Former Assistant US Secretary of Defense Mary Beth Long
  • NATO secretary-general Anders Fogh Rasmussen
  • An Anonymous Israeli official
  • Russia’s ambassador to NATO, Dmitry Rogozin
  • Member of the Russian Duma Konstantin Kosachev

Ok, so four of those aren’t European. Let’s cut them out, leaving:

  • Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kohout
  • Poland’s foreign minister, Radoslaw Sikorski
  • Former Polish President Lech Walesa
  • NATO secretary-general Anders Fogh Rasmussen
  • Russia’s ambassador to NATO, Dmitry Rogozin
  • Member of the Russian Duma Konstantin Kosachev

Ok, and let’s pretend that Russians aren’t European:

  • Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kohout
  • Poland’s foreign minister, Radoslaw Sikorski
  • Former Polish President Lech Walesa
  • NATO secretary-general Anders Fogh Rasmussen

Ok, so Rasmussen actually had really nice things to say about the decision, so let’s cut him:

  • Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kohout
  • Poland’s foreign minister, Radoslaw Sikorski
  • Former Polish President Lech Walesa

Kohout is quoted as follows: “‘Canceling the radar by no means jeopardizes the security of the Czech Republic as the country is safely entrenched in NATO.'” Hurm. That actually doesn’t sound like “roiling” to me, and it’s not surprising given that 70% of Czechs oppose the shield. Let’s cut him out.

  • Poland’s foreign minister, Radoslaw Sikorski
  • Former Polish President Lech Walesa

Sikorski is interpreted thusly: “Radoslaw Sikorski, said he had secured assurances from Washington that the U.S. would honor a commitment to deploy Patriot missiles in Poland, made as part of the deal to host the shield.” Huh. Again, a notable lack of roiling. Let’s cut him.

  • Former Polish President Lech Walesa

Walesa is quoted saying: “‘It’s not that we need the shield, but it’s about the way we’re treated here.'”

OOOOOOKKKKKKKAAAAAYYYYY…… So, in an article about the “roiling” that has been inflicted by Obama upon Europe, exactly one European is quoted as expressing unhappiness, and that European specifically notes that the shield was unnecessary.

I’m not sure that the United States is ever going to recover from a diplomatic disaster of this magnitude….

Indiana Court vs. The Vote Fraud Fraud

[ 0 ] September 18, 2009 |

The Indiana Court of Appeals struck down the Voter ID Act that was upheld by the United States Supreme Court last year. The opinion gets right to the heart of the issue:

All qualified voters must be treated uniformly and impartially. We fail to see how the Voter I.D. Law’s exception of those residing in state licensed care facilities, which happen to also be a polling place, would be a uniform or impartial regulation. Furthermore, the Voter I.D. Law treats in-person voters disparate from mail-in voters, conferring partial treatment upon mail-in voters.

The disparate treatment of mail-in and ballot-box voters is particularly indefensible given 1) the obvious political self-dealing (absentee voters are predominantly Republican, voters without IDs primarily Democratic) and 2)the fact that the few cited examples of vote fraud involved absentee ballots, not in-person voting. When the rights of a discrete and insular minority are burdened in ways that benefit the partisan interests of the majority party by means of a law is farcically underinclusive given the stated justification…what you have there is an equal protection/privileges and immunities violation. Good for the Indiana courts for doing what the Supreme Court shamefully wouldn’t.

How Socialist is US Health Care?

[ 1 ] September 18, 2009 |

Andy Engelson finds it to be more socialist than Communist Vietnam, thus supporting what we already know: the tea-baggers are idiots.

The money paragraph(s):
The much needed health reforms proposed in the U.S. won’t be perfect, but will go a long way to making sure everyone is insured and that getting really sick doesn’t bankrupt you (which also happens here in Vietnam). Will this be costly? Sure. But remember that the Medicare drug insurance plan passed by a Republicans Congress during the Bush administration in 2003 is expected to cost 1.5 trillion dollars, higher than the approximately $1 trillion cost cited for the current health care proposals.

Where were the tea-baggers when that bill was making its way through Congress?

But what do I know? I live in a communist country.

Meanwhile, Tim Egan argues that these same tea-baggers have unleashed their inimitable rage on the wrong target, of course:

Where was the Tea Party movement when the tax burden was shifted from the high end to the middle? Where were the patriots when Wall Street, backed in Congress by Senator Phil Gramm of Texas, rewrote securities laws so that the wonder boys of Lehman and A.I.G. could reduce home mortgages to poker chips at a trillion-dollar table?

[ . . . ]

They were nowhere, because they were clueless, just as most journalists were.

But now, at a time when a new president wants to reform health care to fix the largest single cause of middle-class economic collapse, he’s called a Nazi by these self-described friends of the working stiff.

I recently returned to England from spending a two month stay in my homeland on a mixed research / professional / quality time with my partner trip, mainly in Oregon. (So recent was the return that I’m still jet lagged). While I thoroughly enjoyed the trip, and am actively considering returning to the United States, one distinction that I anecdotally noted was the quality of political discourse. I found this to be thoroughly asinine and banal to the point of profound discouragement. Not only the obvious, to quote Egan again, “the brat’s cry of Joe Wilson”, but simple personal dialogue between private citizens. Six years here in the UK, indeed I start my seventh academic year in a week or so, political discourse here seems more reasoned, toned down, and respectful than the US (save for the English Defence League or our non-racist friends in the BNP). Hell, when the best I often encountered was utterly unoriginal (as well as amusingly inaccurate) tea bagger talking points, I miss the BNP’s amusing attempts to demonstrate their lack of racism.
Please show that I am wrong, with examples.
Feel free to lie if you must.

All BMD, All the Time

[ 0 ] September 17, 2009 |

I have some more missile defense thoughts at Guardian: Comment is Free. See also Bryan McGrath on what this means for sea-based missile defense.