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Posts Tagged ‘politics

Apparently @TomCoburn supports PETA #trollin

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Yes, it’s a deliberately trollish title.

But like PETA, Senator Tom Coburn, Republican of Oklahoma, spends a lot of time denouncing pork in a daily online publication he calls the “pork report”. But unlike PETA, who’s naked activism is quite welcomed in my sight, I daresay Coburn should keep his wrinkly old ass clothed.

I am inspired by this NPR report and then outraged by Coburn’s spokesman’s amazingly boorish, lunkheaded, and intellectually deficient response:

John Hart, a Coburn spokesperson, said in an email that “our report never claimed all the money was spent on shrimp on a treadmill. The scientists doth protest too much. Receiving federal funds is a privilege, not a right. If they don’t want their funding scrutinized, don’t ask.”

 I decided to look at what Coburn thinks is improper government spending in his daily pork report.

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Written by notatypewriter

2011 August 23 at 8:47 pm

Posted in Rants

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My (flawed) proposal for fixing the 2011 federal budget impasse #fb

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The federal government will have no funding after 11:59 PM today (Friday, April 8th) because Tea Party conservatives in the House want an additional $27 billion in spending cuts. This will result in furloughs of 800,000 government employees. These are people with mortgages and bills to pay, and they support businesses that surround federal workplaces, especially in DC. So all these people staying home and not being paid will have a huge effect on the economy, especially in the DC-MD-VA area.

Here’s how I propose they get past this:

  1. Both sides have to agree that no matter what gets cut, the budget at the end of this process must be passed.
  2. Democrats propose an additional $30 billion in spending cuts from the budget proposal that they negotiated with Boehner.
  3. Republicans propose an additional $30 billion in spending cuts from the budget proposal that Obama negotiated with Boehner.
  4. Democrats go through the Republican’s proposals and can remove up to $15 billion of spending cuts.
  5. Republicans go through the Democrat’s proposals and can remove up to $15 billion of spending cuts.

Basically, $30 billion gets cut. The Democrats would cut things that the Republicans care about, and the Republicans would cut things that the Democrats care about. Then both sides get to save things they care most about.

This plan is pretty simple, but I think this plan would favor the Republican agenda. Democrats would like to raise taxes on the rich or at least close tax loopholes, which are attempts to increase revenue. Republicans like to cut spending. Since this plan only cuts spending, it’s really more of a Republican thing.

Maybe a revised plan can give the Democrats up to $30 billion of tax increases or spending cuts and the Republicans can only get some combination of cutting $15 billion of tax increases or removing up to $15 billion of spending cuts.

I’m not sure. Either way, this whole situation is fucked.

Written by notatypewriter

2011 April 8 at 7:42 am

Stupid comment of the day: gay edition #fb

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Written by notatypewriter

2010 August 8 at 7:12 pm

Posted in Rants

Tagged with , ,

On Stevens’ Retirement

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Everybody’s been talking about the latest interview from Justice Stevens about his retirement. It’s been one of the hot topics of discussion for the professor for the Bill of Rights course I’m taking. (Then again, she’s a lawyer and she’s the only one in the class who really participates in this kind of court gossiping. I guess it’s a lawyer thing. I know my friends and I talk about the latest squabbles between technology giants.)

In any case, I think the Court, like many other arenas of American society, has become way too polarized and political. The Court, having no financial or military power, can only rely on the strength of its argument to convince people of the rightness of their decisions. For that reason, it’s probably the best branch of the government and the one I most respect. They also have the luxury of not having to live with the decisions they make and the luxury of not having to listen to whatever the public says about their decisions. It’s a huge positive but also a huge negative. Since they’re not forced to be in touch with the public mood, they can ignore it and in some cases might not even realize it, and become this polarized body.

Once the Court becomes political, their arguments become tainted. It’s hard for a Democrat to read an opinion that seems to give the Republicans everything they want and feel that it’s okay, even if the arguments are all factually correct and logically consistent. One side trumpets a decision as the savior of the republic and the other side will denounce it as the final nail in the American coffin. When you see these 5-4 decisions split along party lines, it just becomes really easy to dismiss it as those nutty conservatives taking the Court over again.

I hope the Court realizes this and issues less 5-4 decisions that are split between what’s seen as the conservative side and the liberal side of the court. Larger majorities would go a long way to putting away the perception of the court as yet another arena for political squabbling. Creating larger majorities would make it hard for somebody to dismiss a decision as a political split, but instead force people to examine the arguments of the justices they perceive as on their side. This would probably conflict with being absolutely right or wrong according to the Constitution, but the perception of the Court is so intrinsic to their power that I feel they need to compromise a little on the absolutism in order to regain the public’s respect.

I also hope the news media covers the Court’s decisions less as a political horse-race in that one party gained and the other party lost (see Citizens United), but perhaps in a more measured and analytical fashion. (Don’t hold your breath.)

So whoever Obama chooses, I hope it’s somebody who can help persuade the majority to narrow their opinions to create larger majorities to help heal the deep rift between the right and the left of this country. (Though honestly, this is Chief Justice Roberts’ job. Based on his talk at the University of Alabama, he recognizes that the Court is becoming kind of political, but I don’t think he’s done anything to help it.)

What I don’t want is for Obama to choose somebody for the sake of creating a larger conservative majority. Marginalizing one side or the other only creates resentment and deepens the rift.

In the worst case, Obama would retain the current split so nothing too terrible will come about. But he has a chance to help heal a battered institution and I hope he takes it.

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Written by notatypewriter

2010 April 3 at 6:14 pm

Posted in Thoughts

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I love realpolitik (US-China relations)

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From the New York Times, “U.S. to Delay Chinese Currency Report

The Obama administration said Saturday that it would continue to press China on the politically charged issue of its currency during a series of meetings between now and June, but it confirmed that it would defer the delivery of a report to Congress that could find China to be a currency manipulator.

Everybody knows that China manipulates the renminbi. A report stating the obvious has some statutory effects, like allowing tariffs to be placed on Chinese goods.

But recently, China also announced it was exploring the possibility of sanctions on Iran for Iran’s nuclear program. (Also, check out the Guardian’s picture of Obama and Sarkozy. They’re ready to take on something, it seems.)

So I bet the delay is a reward for Chinese movement on Iranian sanctions.

I love the cold calculus of realpolitik at play here. Bravo Obama administration and Clinton over at State.

EDIT (2010/04/12 23:12): As often occurs when one steps outside the bounds of his knowledge and propounds upon something he knows nothing about, I was wrong regarding the reason for the delay. According to Foreign Policy, it was a “more complex and nuanced set of reasons.” Nevertheless, this is still positive movement on US-China relations, and I still congratulate the Obama administration for its success.

Written by notatypewriter

2010 April 3 at 3:05 pm

Posted in Thoughts

Tagged with , ,

Tea Partiers Ignore History (and can’t spell) #fb

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Via FOX News, the Tea Partiers are releasing a “Contract From America.” Clearly it’s an allusion to Newt Gingrich’s “Contract with America” and the effect it had on the midterm election after Clinton became President. As usual, the Tea Partiers put about as much thought into this as they did on their signs.

This gem jumped out at me:

The third priority is demand a balanced budget – chosen by 69.9 percent. This calls for starting a constitutional amendment process to require a balanced budget with a two-thirds majority needed for any tax hike.

What a terrible boneheaded idea.

This is exactly what California has in Proposition 58 and Proposition 13 and look at the mess California is in, running huge deficits, doing all kinds of funny budget tricks, and borrowing massive amounts of money to “balance” the budget. California’s inability to raise revenue combined with the balancing requirement has crippled the legislative process, forcing massive cuts in state education funding and threatening the stature of the University of California system as the number one public university system in the world.

To be honest, Props 58 and 13 are not the only reason for the crappy fiscal situation in California. Gerrymandered districts have led to extremists on both the Democratic and Republican sides to take seats in the California Assembly, reducing any chance of compromise. Can we expect to fare better at the national level? I think not. Representative’s districts are just as gerrymandered on the national level. And look at the party line vote on healthcare. I can’t see either side being able to compromise on spending items to be cut or taxes to be raised.

So to the Tea Partiers, if you really want to do more than Obama ever could to destroy the America, get this amendment ratified.

(I’d also like to point out that Tea Party saint Ronald Reagan spent up a huge deficit, ostensibly to out build the Russians. But look at the type of spending he did. He also funneled huge amounts of money into defense R&D, supporting university research and high technology industries all over the nation, which laid the foundation for one of the greatest decades in the history of America.)

Written by notatypewriter

2010 April 1 at 10:30 pm

Posted in Thoughts

Tagged with , , ,

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