Patterico's Pontifications

4/8/2011

Deal Reached, Shutdown Avoided

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 9:40 pm

[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here.  Or by Twitter @AaronWorthing.]

At the 11th hour, a deal was reached.  From the AP (so get yer screen caps ready, just in case…):

Perilously close to a government shutdown, President Barack Obama and congressional leaders reached a historic agreement late Friday night to cut about $38 billion in federal spending and avert the first federal closure in 15 years.

Obama hailed the deal as “the biggest annual spending cut in history.”

Yeah, Obama, it’s really easy to have the biggest spending cut in history when you had astronomical spending in the years before.  Let’s go to the chart, shall we?

Yeah, a historically massive cut doesn’t look so impressive in context, does it?

They go on:

House Speaker John Boehner said that over the next decade it would cut government spending by $500 billion, and won an ovation from his rank and file tea party adherents among them.

“This is historic, what we’ve done,” agreed Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., the third man involved in negotiations that ratified a new era of divided government.

They announced the agreement less than an hour before government funding was due to run out.

So there you go, but I want to back up and repeat a line in that story:

won an ovation from his rank and file tea party adherents among them.

Well, this rank-and-file tea partier is not celebrating tonight.  We haven’t reduced the debt by a single penny; we have only reduced the rate of increase of our debt.  Let’s let Sarah Palin put this into a little perspective:

Let’s look at the numbers. We have a $1.5 trillion deficit this year. We’re paying $200 billion a year on our interest alone. That’s half a billion dollars per day on interest. And our $1.5 trillion deficit means that we’re borrowing $4 billion per day just to keep afloat. So, we pat ourselves on the back if we cut a billion dollars here or a billion there in discretionary spending, as we borrow $4 billion a day and pay half a billion a day in interest. The deficit for the month of February alone was the highest in our history at $223 billion. That’s more than the entire deficit for the year 2007. And there’s no end in sight. We’re not heading towards the iceberg. We’ve already hit it. Now we’re taking on water. We must find a way to get back to harbor to repair our ship of state before it’s too late.

I checked those numbers and although they are rounded off, they are basically right and bluntly you should read the whole thing.  It’s very well put.  So $38 billion in “cuts” isn’t terribly impressive when interest alone adds around $200 billion to the deficit every year.  To use my own metaphor, we are in a car headed toward a cliff.  We need to stop and turn around.  And today they have agreed to reduce how much pressure we are putting on the gas pedal but not to apply the brakes or change the direction.  I guess it will buy us a little time, so its better than doing nothing.

But it’s not much better than nothing and we should not let any of these idiots in Washington declare victory.

[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing.]

UPDATE BY PATTERICO: I’m OK with it as long as they go to the mat for Ryan’s budget.

New Civility Watch

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 5:48 pm

Louise Slaughter:

Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) said today that the new Republicans elected to the House of Representatives last November came to Congress “to kill women.” She also likened Republican efforts to prohibit federal funding of abortion except in cases of rape, incest or where the life of the mother is endangered to actions taken by Nazis.

It is simply a matter of time before Big Media trumpets and denounces this lack of civility.

BONUS CIVILITY: Nancy Pelosi: “There is a war on women.”

Judge Walker Comes Out and Bob Egelko’s Decision Not to Pursue or Tell us the Truth

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 1:33 pm

[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here.  Or by Twitter @AaronWorthing.]

Strap yourself in, because this is a long one—with original reporting!

You might remember that Judge Vaughn Walker is the judge who sat in the Proposition 8 case, which held the newly amended provision in California’s Constitution limited marriage to straight couples to be unconstitutional.  And you might remember there were reports that he was gay that surfaced late last year.  Patrick wrote about the issue here.  And I wrote about it, here.  I will quote myself because a lot of you were not exposed to my opinion the first time, and I think I could really put myself reasonably close to being in the judge’s shoes:

Look let me personalize this.  So let’s take an example: Loving v. Virginia. That was the case that said that laws banning interracial marriage were unconstitutional.  That’s right, the case where they struck down tested the legality of “miscegenation” laws was called LOVING v. Virginia. How perfect was that for a name?  It was like as if it was the state of Virginia opposed to people loving each other.

Now in fact it was about a couple with the last name “Loving.”  I remember off hand that the wife was named Mildred, a black woman.  Her husband was white, but I forgot his name.  They had gone into Washington, D.C. to marry, and then came back to Virginia.  The cops busted in on them, and arrested them.  The law in Virginia made it a crime to leave Virginia, get married outside of one’s “race” and then return to the state, if you intended to do that all along.

So that probably means that first it went through the state Circuit Courts here in Virginia, or maybe the District Courts first if the punishment was minor enough.  Then it probably went straight to the Supreme Court of Virginia, and from there was appealed to the United States Supreme Court.  I mean I suppose it is possible to have gone the habeas corpus route, but I doubt it.

So imagine I am that lower court judge. And imagine I love the same woman I am married to today, who is mostly Filipina.  Imagine I haven’t married her yet.  Do you think I could ever rule neutrally in that case?  Of course not.  I would be ruling on my right to marry the woman I presently loved.

And of course interracial marriage is different than gay marriage….  If I wasn’t currently in love with someone of another “race,” yeah such laws might be seen as reducing my options, but if I was gay, an anti-gay marriage law would keep me from marrying everyone I was likely to fall in love with.  It wouldn’t be reducing my options, it would be eliminating all of them completely.  I mean how can Judge Walker possibly be even-handed when his legal rights are on the table?

So if he is in a relationship serious enough to mean that he would like to marry that man, I don’t see how he could possibly be unbiased.  And if he was “merely” gay, the issue is not as acute, but it is there.

At the time, I don’t think anyone seriously doubted the story, if only because it would be so incredibly irresponsible of the San Francisco Chronicle if they weren’t sure.  But in a recent SF Chron story, Judge Walker has verified it and only lightly addressed the ethical issue:

The now-retired federal judge who struck down California’s ban on same-sex marriage shared his reflections with reporters for the first time Wednesday, saying that the trial should have been televised and that he never considered stepping aside because he is gay.

“If you thought a judge’s sexuality, ethnicity, national origin (or) gender would prevent the judge from handling a case, that’s a very slippery slope,” former Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker told reporters in a conference room at the San Francisco courthouse where he served for 21 years.

“I don’t think it’s relevant,” he said.

Now, to be blunt, I considered that at best a flippant consideration of this weighty issue.  So I wrote the following email to the author of the article, Bob Egelko, and the exchange was revealing:

From: Aaron Worthing [mailto:edmd5.20.10@gmail.com]

Sent: Thursday, April 07, 2011 5:35 PM

To: Egelko, Bob

Subject: your article on Judge Walker

I saw you wrote an article on Judge Walker, in part confirming that he was gay.

He claims that it is irrelevant, but in fact there is a serious ethical issue.  I lay out my argument here: [linking to my old post].

But here’s the short version.  He was ruling on his right to marry anyone he might be interested in marrying.  And when your own personal rights are on the docket, you cannot rule in the case.  It’s that simple.

So I was wondering if anyone asked about that?  Or would it be possible for someone to ask that follow up question?

I thank you for your time and consideration.

Aaron Worthing, Esq.

That prompted this reply:

(more…)

Sockpuppet Friday—The Governator Edition!

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 10:13 am

[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here.  Or by Twitter @AaronWorthing.]

As usual, you are positively encouraged to engage in sock puppetry in this thread. The usual rules apply.

Please, be sure to switch back to your regular handle when commenting on other threads. I have made that mistake myself, a lot.

And remember: the worst sin you can commit on this thread is not being funny.

—————————

And for our Friday frivolity, we have the awfulness of The Governator.  Yes, Arnold Schwarzenegger, fresh off being a really crappy governor, wants to remind us all about that with a comic book, cartoon and movie based on a new superhero, called The Governator.  And they even have an ad made for this:

(more…)

Indifference to the Troops (Update: Norton Speaks!)

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 7:40 am

[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here.  Or by Twitter @AaronWorthing.]

Yesterday Patrick brought forth accusations that Obama was deliberately withholding military pay as a political maneuver against Republicans.  It was yet another example of budget Kabuki.

But a word of advice to the Democrats.  If you are going to play this game, you have to be really careful what you say and do.  For instance, Representative Rogers (R-Ky) proposed a bill to fund our troops during the shutdown, and this was the Office of Management and Budget’s official response:

The Administration strongly opposes House passage of H.R. 1363, making appropriations for the Department of Defense for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2011, and for other purposes….

After giving the Congress more time by signing short-term extensions into law, the President believes that we need to put politics aside and work out our differences for a bill that covers the rest of the fiscal year. This bill is a distraction from the real work that would bring us closer to a reasonable compromise for funding the remainder of Fiscal Year 2011 and avert a disruptive Federal Government shutdown that would put the Nation’s economic recovery in jeopardy.

You got that?  A bill ensuring that our military gets paid is a distraction.  Nice.  That sound you just heard was a million Democrats doing a facepalm.

And Eric Cantor’s official blog pounces, saying:

It’s alarming that a bill that funds our troops and could likely pass both the House and the Senate has been termed as a “distraction” by the White House. No one wants to see the government shut down, but Republicans are committed to ensuring that our men and women in uniform serving in Afghanistan, Iraq, and around the world will be paid if that happens. The White House is directly jeopardizing that.

But at least there is increasing evidence that Obama might be smart enough not to take a vacation in the middle of all of this.  Early reports suggested he was considering visiting Williamsburg, Virgina during the weekend, which led a commenter at Ace to say the following:

[Consider] the military crew contingent and ground staff required for an Air Force One Mission. It’s a full flight crew plus hundreds of ground personnel. Special Air Mission teams from Andrews. Multiple C-141 cargo planes (at least two) will fly in advance carrying the Presidential motorcade. There are a thousand servicemen and women in the 89th Airlift Wing who are on station and engaged from flight planning to execution, to conclusion. And not one of them will be paid next week because Obama decided they’re just pawns in his political game.

I am not sure the Obama administration thought about things so deeply when they put the trip into doubt.  Still even then the Daily Mail reports that there a no-fly zone is already established, so the military is working to take care of him, in case he wants the weekend off.  But making sure their paychecks will keep going forward is a “distraction.”

Oh, and a bit of advice to Congressman Moron Moran.  If a military veteran stands up and gives you a tongue lashing over this, don’t get all ornery and resentful.  Take it, and then calmly and respectfully explain why you differ with him.  In other words, don’t do this:

Look, first, I do think it is fair to say that this Vet’s comments were caustic.  I don’t even consider that an insult.  And of course decorum needs to exist in these meetings.  On the other hand, I don’t think it is fair for Moran to pretend he was just saying it to score points and wasn’t offering a good faith criticism, and that attitude contributed greatly to the breach of decorum.  I agree that the man was being caustic, but to pretend that this precluded the possibility that the man was also offering legitimate criticism was uncalled for.  He dismissed the man, which was inexcusable.

Of course, Moran has denigrated military service before, asserting that an opponents’ decades of military service didn’t count as public service:

I posted on those comments here and here.

Update: Via the man formally known as College Politico D.C.’s non-voting Congresswoman Elanor Holmes Norton gets very angry about the looming shutdown and inadvertently demonstrates exactly why D.C. should not be allowed to vote in Congress.

There’s a lot to mock and criticize there, but let’s notice this line: “our issues are not the Federal deficit.”  The problem with giving D.C. alleged equality in Congress is that there cannot be equality.  If given facial equality, the proximity of D.C. residents would eventually mean that they would be treated better than anyone else in the country.  As it is D.C. didn’t have the same recession the rest of you had.  And thus their parochial concerns would take precedence.

What could be a clearer example than acting as if the Federal deficit isn’t their problem?  Ms. Norton you do know your constituents have to pay that, too, right?  But she could care less about the national good, and instead only about the harm to D.C.  And isn’t that inevitable?

[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing.]

Fed Up With Our Political System? Try This Game…

Filed under: General — Stranahan @ 7:07 am

[Guest post by Lee Stranahan]

Here’s a little Friday morning creative thinking exercise.

Is America ready for a third political party?

Okay, before you answer “no” let me ask the same question a different way.

Are there a large number of Americans who feel discontent and disconnected from both the Republican and Democratic parties?

We aren’t thrilled with either our politicians or political system. The polling is dismal and for good reason. Conservatives, liberals, independents, socialists and libertarians all agree that something is very very wrong. We’re not dumb. We all know this thing is broken.

Our system of governance has become a busted vending machine and we keep feeding it money. Okay, that does make us sound kind of dumb but look around – it’s really the only machine in the room right now. It’s the one that seems to have the stuff we want and even though we end up frustrated and disappointed and broke most of the time, this stupid machine is all we’ve got. We keep hoping someone else will tinker away at it and maybe make it work a little bit better.

Or – we can stop throwing our money away and get a new machine that actually works.

The problem with the third party solutions available right now and the reason they aren’t viable is that they are at the outer fringes of the political spectrum. The Libertarian Party and the Peace & Freedom Party and any number of other small political parties are small for a reason – they are out of bounds of the majority of people’s political thought.

There hasn’t been a third party in recent memory that has been able to provide a clear alternative that has mass appeal but our current discontent may provide an answer to that – which leads me to the exercise.

Try this mental game – forget what supposedly divides the Democratic and Republican parties and ask yourself what unites them. It might be ideological similarities or it might not. It might be structural or cultural…or not. Don’t limit yourself, just ask; what do the two parties – our theoretical ‘only two real choices’ — have in common?

Now ask yourself – what’s the opposite of that? What’s the alternative to both the Democrats AND the Republicans that doesn’t exist yet? Fill in the blanks on a political sloga…

“The Republicans and Democrats are ______ — but we’re _________”

I have my own answers but I’m interested in seeing what other people have to say.

– Lee Stranahan

Megyn Kelly: “I Would Be Smaller, But I Have Another Human Being Developing Inside Me.”

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 5:31 am

[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here.  Or by Twitter @AaronWorthing.]

Hey, we can’t always be serious, but a pregnant Megyn Kelly vents on the five things you should never say to a pregnant woman…

I think all of that is pretty good, but I would bump them all down a notch and announce a different top rule: never ever ask a woman if she is pregnant, unless you already know she is. Ask a friend or a colleague first. I don’t care if you are 99% sure, do you want to even have a 1% chance of the answer being, “no, jerk, I am just overweight. Thanks for reminding me.”

Then again some people are curiously indifferent to danger:

Oh, and probably somewhere on the list is not to be anything like these losers:

Yikes, I just threw up in my mouth a little.

Hat tips to Hot Air and The Blaze.

[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing.]


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