Patterico's Pontifications

9/30/2013

Hey Republican House Members: If the Government Slowdown Bothers You, Why Not Fund What You Like?

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 5:46 pm



It is now clear that a government slowdown is inevitable. (Reminder: it’s a slowdown, not a shutdown.)

Barack Obama took to the podium to complain about things that won’t get funded. He says: ““One faction of one party in one house of Congress in one branch of government doesn’t get to shut down the entire government just to re-fight the results of an election.”

Well, perhaps not. But we do hold the purse strings, Mr. President, and that too is the result of an election.

So, House Members, embrace the power to do what Barack Obama says you don’t “get to” do — namely, to decide to initiate spending. For those purposes you decide are appropriate.

If you’re worried about a specific program or department not being funded — and if you’re worried about taking blame for that program getting defunded — then here’s an idea: draft a bill to fund that program or department.

For example, the House certainly didn’t want to be branded as keeping soldiers from getting paid. So guess what? They passed a bill to pay soldiers. The Senate has already passed it. Boom. Problem solved. You won’t get blamed for soldiers not getting paid.

So: if there’s anything else you think should be funded, fund it. Think national parks should be operating? OK. Draft a bill. If it’s a very popular program or department, the Senate will pass your bill.

NPR may not get funded. The Department of Education may not get funded. For a while, anyway.

Would that really be so bad?

But instead of quivering in your boots about the public being mad about a government slowdown, figure out exactly what the public wants to keep going, see if that program or department deserves it, and then fund it.

And if it doesn’t deserve it? Then don’t.

And hold fast.

Think of these bills as pressure valves. You let loose a little of the pressure built up by the haunting and very very scary prospect of a government slowdown, and then . . . wait.

Maybe, just maybe, Barack Obama will figure out that you do “get to” fulfill your constitutional role, as the body that initiates spending, after all.

If It’s Not a Shutdown, Stop Calling It One

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 5:34 pm



As of right now, I refuse to call it a shutdown.

The government is not shutting own. Not even remotely.

As I noted this morning, after the supposed government “shutdown,” the mail will get delivered. Social Security and Medicare will continue. Soldiers will defend our country. The USDA will inspect meat. Air traffic controllers will keep our skies safe.

On what planet is that a shutdown?

Propose your own language in the comments. Until I hear something better, I am calling it a “government slowdown” — with a link to this post.

CNN’s 10 Ways a Government Shutdown Would (Not) Affect You

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:52 am



CNN has an article about all the ways a government shutdown would affect you, the average American taxpayer. Wow, 10 ways! Already that sounds scary! Except when you read the article, many of them are about how citizens will not be affected.

Without quoting every bullet point, it appears mail will still be delivered; taxes will still be collected; passports will still be processed; soldiers will still defend the country; air traffic controllers will continue to keep the skies safe; food inspectors will continue to inspect your meat; and workers in other “critical services” will continue to work.

9. Holiday. Celebrate: Don’t come to work if you’re a federal employee. You’re on furlough. (Offer not valid for workers in “critical services,” such as air traffic controllers, hazardous waste handlers and food inspectors.)

Do take some time to celebrate. In previous shutdowns, everyone who stayed home was paid retroactively after peace returned to Washington.

Query why we want to have workers in “non critical” services, but there I go again. At least we’ll pay them all eventually for their vacation!

Not mentioned in the article, but also true: Social Security and Medicare payments would continue to be made as well.

I guess “10 ways a government shutdown would not affect your daily life” wasn’t the title they wanted to go with . . .

9/28/2013

Defunding Strategy Gives Way to Delay, for Better or for Worse

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 11:18 am



DRJ recently quoted Instapundit as follows:

BYRON YORK: GOP flinches at Obamacare plan devised by Sens. Ted Cruz, Mike Lee. I don’t think things are as disorganized as they seem. I see it this way: (1) Effort to defund — if it succeeds, it’s a win. If it doesn’t, it’s forced a lot of vulnerable Dems to vote in favor of ObamaCare just before it goes into effect: (2) ObamaCare goes into effect, producing a train wreck of increased premiums, implementation snafus; (3) In 2014, GOP can say if you want this repealed, you’ve got to give us both houses of Congress — and, in 2016, the White House.

Now that (as expected) the Democrat-controlled Senate has removed the defunding language from the continuing resolution to fund the government, it appears that the House is shifting to the preferred Establishment GOP strategy of delay. Ed Morrissey reports:

The House will send a continuing resolution to the Senate sometime today, but not the clean CR that the Senate sent to the House. Instead, Speaker John Boehner and the Republican caucus plan to approve a new stopgap funding measure that includes a one-year delay in the ObamaCare individual mandate, exchanges, and subsidies, as well as a repeal of an unpopular tax on medical devices:

If this is the best we can do, will it help us or hurt us?

This piece argues that delay is a “win/win” for Republicans:

If the exchanges did open but the individual mandate was postponed, experts say those likely to skip buying insurance are the young and the healthy – just the people most needed to broaden the risk pool and keep insurance rates low. Surging rates would antagonize the public. So would the absence of income-based subsidies. And if the exchanges did not open at all, after laying groundwork for big changes for the last three years, insurers and consumers would be left scrambling.

“You could think about an orderly transition back, but just stopping it would be chaotic,” says Gary Claxton, director of the Health Care Marketplace Project at the Kaiser Family Foundation. Among his questions: Would the companies have to resume underwriting, charge higher rates to sick people, and deny coverage to some? And with many high-risk pools gone in preparation for the big shift, where would those people get insurance? He also notes that if insurers lost money as a result of the sudden full stop, the federal government would be on the hook to make up much of the loss, as it was the case with the Medicare drug program.

From a political semantics standpoint, says Robert Blendon, a health policy expert at Harvard, “defunding sounds awful. It sounds like you’re taking money away from sick people.” A one-year delay seems more benign, he says, but “could have a very negative long-term effect on the viability of the law.” That makes defund and delay a win-win for Republicans, and a test of backbone for Democrats.

I am skeptical — yet admittedly torn. The above piece sets forth the potential advantages of a delay strategy. There is another advantage: every day without ObamaCare is another day of freedom, and another day in which we have staved off the fundamental restructuring of the government’s relationship to the individual that it represents.

I think, though, there are some serious potential disadvantages. Delay gives Democrats a way to blame the GOP for the inevitable catastrophe that ObamaCare represents. If we simply oppose ObamaCare, try to defund it entirely, and our efforts fail, then the responsibility for the inevitable disaster falls squarely on Obama and on Democratic Senators. If we delay, Obama can argue we have thrown off original plans, throwing everything out of kilter. Ironically, we would also probably be increasing the chance of successful implementation, as delay of any portion or all of it gives Democrats a year to iron out the current implementation snafus. That’s why even some Democrats have sought a delay, and Obama might be just fine with it. This way, we get the worst of both worlds: we take some form of responsibility for how it turns out, while increasing the chances that it will turn out to be less disastrous than expected.

And it may help keep the disaster of implementation from being a huge issue in 2014.

Reader Kevin M made this comment about the defunding effort, but I think it is perhaps more aptly describes the delay effort:

Obamacare cannot succeed. We know that. It will crash and burn by the middle of next year and take the Democrats with it. The ONLY thing that will save them is if they (and PRAVDA) can blame the Republicans for the failure.

And we’re putting our fingerprints all over the murder weapon.

That seems right to me. But I could be wrong.

The collective wisdom of my readership far exceeds my individual wisdom. I am interested in your thoughts.

John McCain Hires Syria Analyst Who Puffed Up Her Credentials

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 10:45 am



New John McCain motto: “F[vowel deleted]ck all of you.”

Sen. John McCain has hired a controversial Syria analyst who recently was fired by one D.C. organization and resigned from another after it emerged that she inflated her academic credentials.

The Republican senator’s office confirmed to Fox News that Elizabeth O’Bagy was hired as a legislative assistant, and will start work next week.

“Elizabeth is a talented researcher, and I have been very impressed by her knowledge and analysis in multiple briefings over the last year. I look forward to her joining my office,” McCain said in a statement.

I have a feeling he mostly thinks she’s attractive. Elections have consequences, and so do things that rhyme with elections.

Screen Shot 2013-09-28 at 10.40.20 AM

Regardless of his reasoning, this is a thumb in the eye of everything that makes sense. This woman not only “inflated” (meaning “lied about”) her credentials, but she posed as a neutral observer when she was being paid by a Syrian rebel front group. Her piece in the Wall Street Journal was cited by McCain and John Kerry as influential, before she was exposed as a fraud and shill by a friend of this blog, Charles C. Johnson. She deserves to be cast out of public life for the foreseeable future, not embraced and given a position of influence.

So says this wacko bird.

Corey Feldman SWATted — For Real

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 10:33 am



My usual admiration for the way TMZ gets these stories every time is negated by their sniggering. I don’t even feel like throwing them a link. You can Google it.

The headline of their post? “COREY FELDMAN SWATTED … But It’s Kinda Funny.”

Yeah. A real laugh riot:

Corey Feldman’s pad got swatted last night — and TMZ has slightly scary (yet hilarious) footage of a bath-robed Corey and one of his “angels” getting the shake-down from cops.

Law enforcement sources tell us LAPD got a call of unknown trouble at Feldman’s house — which he’s douchily dubbed the Feldmansion — and responded around 2 AM with multiple cruisers and a chopper.

Corey quickly came out of the house with his arms raised, and got frisked by cops. In typical Feldman-fashion … he had not one, but TWO female companions in lingerie … who were also frisked.

TMZ has dramatic footage of Feldman and one of the women coming out with their hands up and being frisked while a helicopter is heard overhead. It’s not embeddable, which relieves me of the burden of deciding whether to embed it or not. It’s an invasion of privacy, but it also gives the viewer a small glimpse of what the experience is like. Although I am angry at TMZ, some of you may find it worth your while to seek out the TMZ post to see this footage — if only because it helps bring home, in a small way, the reality of these SWATtings.

TMZ calls the footage “hilarious.” I find that description not only callous but entirely inaccurate. But maybe it’s different for me, given my own experience. When I watched the clip, I got flashbacks. My heart started racing as I literally felt the adrenalin flow. I don’t see how anyone can watch this, imagine the events that preceded it, and find it “hilarious.”

The updated and noncomprehensive roll call of the SWATted: Corey Feldman; Paris Hilton (again); Miley Cyrus (again); Khloe Kardashian and Lamar Odom; Anderson Cooper; Magic Johnson; Mike Rogers; Wolf Blitzer; Ted Lieu; Erik Rush; Ryan Seacrest; Russell Brand; Selena Gomez; Justin Timberlake; Rihanna; Sean Combs; Paris Hilton; Brian Krebs; Clint Eastwood; Chris Brown; the Jenners and Kardashians; Tom Cruise; Simon Cowell; Justin Bieber; Ashton Kutcher; Miley Cyrus; Aaron Walker; Erick Erickson; Mike Stack; and me.

Whoever was doing this was quiet for a while, but they seem to have awakened.

P.S. I meant to report this soon after it happened, but I have been utterly slammed at work. I think things may remain that way for a week or two.

9/24/2013

Ted Cruz: Holy Mackerel

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:53 pm



I have been working all day and just checked Ted Cruz’s Twitter feed to see how the filibuster went.

Looks like it is still going on.

Came into C-SPAN and saw (and still see) Mike Lee apparently giving Cruz a break. The caption suggests Cruz is still going.

I am going to take a short break to see if I can catch Cruz before I must turn in to get up early and work again.

Go Ted!

Open Thread

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:53 am



I got nothin’.

9/23/2013

It’s Official: Old Guard GOP Senators Will Shoot Down Cruz’s Attempt to Make a Filibuster Possible on the Issue of ObamaCare

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:19 pm



It’s an opportunity that careerist politicians can’t resist: the chance to look like they’re doing something about a divisive issue, while in reality they’re doing nothing . . . and incurring zero political risk in the process.

Win/win!

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and many of his rank and file are poised to cast votes this week that will effectively rebuke Sen. Ted Cruz’s effort to filibuster a stopgap spending bill that would keep the government funded past Sept. 30.

Cruz has been calling on fellow Republicans to block the House-passed stopgap spending bill that defunds the president’s 2010 health care law because he sees the vote as a way to prevent Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., from stripping out the Obamacare funding blockade.

But a GOP-led filibuster puts many Republicans in the tough spot of opposing a bill they actually support while also likely causing a government shutdown. Any vote to filibuster is likely to come before Reid moves to strike the Obamacare defunding language.

“Sen. McConnell supports the House Republicans’ bill and will not vote to block it, since it defunds Obamacare and funds the government without increasing spending by a penny. He will also vote against any amendment that attempts to add Obamacare funding back into the House Republicans’ bill,” said Don Stewart, spokesman for the Kentucky Republican. “If and when the Majority Leader goes down that path, Washington Democrats will have to decide — without hiding behind a procedural vote — whether or not to split with their leadership and join Republicans and their constituents in opposing the re-insertion of Obamacare funding into the House-passed bill.”

You see what they’re doing there. A vote to consider the bill is really a vote for ObamaCare, because it smooths the way for Harry Reid to amend the most central provision and take out the defunding language by a majority vote. Cruz’s method, opposing the bill being considered at all, makes a filibuster possible, allowing Cruz to stand up and speechify about ObamaCare. But, because Cruz’s tactic requires him — technically but only technically — to “oppose” (try to filibuster) a bill he actually supports, it’s a tough sell for the low information voter. (Cruz is up to the task of explaining this, as you can see from last night’s post.) But, just as the fighting approach is tough to explain, the converse is true: the do-nothing vote is easy to explain. It’s easy to pretend you’re doing something, because you can say you voted for the consideration of a good bill! Why, what could be wrong with that?

Witness Lindsey Graham trying to pull the wool over the eyes of the low info voter:

Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican who is up for re-election and faces a tea party challenge, didn’t mince words about the problem with the tactics being employed by his fellow GOP senators.

“I think we’ll take up the House bill because it’s a good bill. I can’t imagine filibustering the bill that I like from the House. There will be a vote to take out the defunding of Obamacare. It will be a majority vote,” Graham said Monday on Fox News. “And I’m hoping some Democrats will side with all Republicans to keep the defunding in place, but I doubt it.”

Duh.

Make no mistake: anyone voting to consider this bill is allowing the funding of ObamaCare and knows it.

And they’ll look you right in the eye and tell you the opposite.

What If House Republicans Actually Held Firm on Defunding?

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:12 am



I had dinner with a friend a few weeks ago, and I raised the issue: what if House Republicans actually held firm on defunding ObamaCare?

I know, I know, it won’t happen. But this is a blog, not real life, so hear me out while we fantasize.

My friend, of course, said: well, then the press would kick into gear blaming Republicans, and Republicans would back down.

Well, duh. That’s what always happens. We pretend to take a stand, the media raises its hand to smack us, and we cringe and back away before the blow ever lands.

But I pressed on. What if we continued to stand firm, against all the historical evidence of our inability to do so?

You mean, what if someone surgically implanted a spine in these people? my friend asked. Exactly, I said.

We gamed it out, and I made a case, which I would like to make to you now, that we could actually win this thing. In theory. Here’s my thinking: as the pain of a government shutdown increases, if Republicans actually stood firm and made their case, it might start to sink in that the government shutdown might end if Obama just agreed to defund ObamaCare. Which people basically hate anyway.

We might pay a heavy political price for it. Or maybe, just maybe, we would gain some respect.

I believe that, to most of the public, politicians are like two kids squawking in the back seat. They always seem to fight, and you don’t really care what they’re fighting about. You just want it to stop.

So imagine the scenario.

Barry and Ted are in the back seat. They’re fighting because Barry wants to play his PSP and Ted says it’s making annoying noises that are too loud, causing it to be hard for him to read. You, the parent, agree the PSP is too loud, and wish Barry would stop playing it, but Barry argues that it was agreed at the beginning of the trip that he could play it. If the bickering continues, you’re going to snap at Ted because, just shut up, Ted. This was the agreement and we are sticking to it.

But what if Ted is unfazed by any threats of punishment, and the bickering continues? Let’s say you have a three-day trip ahead of you and you can’t take the bickering. But you have to stay strapped into the seat and you can’t stop the car for even one second. Ted tells you the bickering is going to continue, punishment or no punishment, because he is standing on principle.

Chances are you will be unimpressed and threaten him worse. You might even actually stop the car and spank him, and threaten to take away his books for two months, or four months — or forever.

But what if none of this had an effect? Ted, who has always been compliant in the past, simply will. not. give. in. It’s been two days into the car ride now, and the bickering is constant. You just want it to stop. You swear when the car stops, you will give Ted a punishment he will never forget. But all the while, Ted explains to you why he is taking this stand. He can’t concentrate, and he needs to read to get his book report done on time. If he can’t read his book, he can’t turn in the book report. Frankly, Barry should be reading too. And by the way, mom and dad, I know the beeping annoys you too because I heard you say so to each other. And when you guys agreed to let him play it, you thought he was going to bring his headphones. It’s only after it was too late to go back for them that Barry told you he forgot them.

Mom and dad, I don’t want to bicker. I’ll stop the second Barry stops playing his PSP. Let him read like I am doing.

At some point, if the bickering is bad enough? Mom and dad might turn to Barry, and say: we know we told you that you could play it, but you didn’t bring your headphones. It’s not quiet like we thought it would be. We agree Ted should not be bitching about it, but we can’t take the noise any more. Put the damn PSP away, Barry.

Could happen. Depending on how annoying the bickering became and how much the parents wanted it to stop, they might redirect their anger — if Ted’s argument actually makes sense, and they end up actually listening to it.

It’s a fantasy. Most kids would not have Ted’s principle, and would give in to the threats. That’s how we control our kids, and it’s shocking when they don’t comply.

I can hear one objection from this readership: no way I would give in to Ted. Ted would get beaten until he is black and blue, and he would damn well comply.

I hear you! But I think most parents don’t have your principles. They would give in to the need to stop the bickering.

Voters don’t care about this stuff. If we actually stood on principle, they might tell Barry: put away your little ObamaCare toy we don’t like that much anyway. Ted’s right, after all.

I know. I know. It will never happen.

But a guy can dream, right?

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