Archive for June, 2006

Republican Humor

June 21, 2006

First, chew slowly and swallow whatever you have in your mouth. I won't be responsible for any coffee stains on your monitor nor corned beef in the keyboard.

Then head over to the New York Times and read this letter to the editor. I swear that Senator Gregg scales heights of hypocracy heretofor unseen. From the very start you can feel the fire of his anger:

"Your assertion ("Phony Deficit Hawks," editorial, June 18) that pay-go budget rules are the answer to federal deficits is a page from the liberal playbook — a way to put forth a solution that also happens to be irrelevant to the issue at hand."

How dare anyone propose that he pay for profligate spending? liberal, Liberal LIBERAL, LIBERAL!!!!! Fiscal sanity? We're REPUBLICAN! We don't need no fiscal sanity!

"Liberals have fought spending controls every step of the way, so pay-go would essentially force tax increases."

Yah shure… That was a liberal who lied us into an unnecessary war that's costing over $100M per day, a liberal who gave out all those sole-source contracts, a liberal who shoved through a prescription drug benefit that allowed no bargaining with big pharma. I'll bet as each of those budgets crossed your desk that you "had no idea" that maybe they might cost actual money.
And in closing, as with every joke, the punchline:

The real problem is that Congress is making promises that cost money we don't have. We need to stop that practice through disciplined spending restraint, not tax increases.

My legislation offers ways to put the brakes on spending, so our children will inherit a much more effective and affordable government.

"The congress?" Would that be the REPUBLICAN congress? The Republican House of Representatives? The Republican Senate? With a Republican signing off on their output?

No, seriously, Senator, will this legislation be anything like any of those other budgets that you hammered with your big Bush rubber stamp? I swear I have not heard a joke this funny in years.


Demographic facts of life

June 19, 2006

CNN has an interesting story today on a subject I have been watching for some years. The demography of the baby boom generation as I moves through the population has had profound effects on the economy of the United States is quite inarguable. And yet someone can always be found to dismiss the iceberg as "merely frozen water, it's quite brittle, don'tchaknow, and will disolve as we approach it." By adding any number to May 6, 1946 (my guess at the "official start" to the boom), and asking yourself, "What would an n-year old be doing?" you get a pretty good feel for the zeitgeist of that year.

As the baby boom has passed through the various stages of life, it first brought us the eighteen-year-old vote and the eighteen-year-old beer. Lately, as the boom hit 40-45 it began to look toward retirement and started saving up. That brought us the stock market boom in the 90's and, after the collapse in 2000, the real estate boom of the past 5 years. One month ago, the leading edge of the boom began to pass 60 and started to retire. Now, I know this will not be instantaneous, but I agree with Professor Siegel, we are in for a very rough ride over the next 5-10 years.

The question to which I have no answer is, "What does this mean, politically?" No one wants to be told that their savings have lost 50% of their value, even if everyone else is in the same boat. No one wants to be told, "You cannot retire until you are 75." even as the average life span gets longer and longer. I foresee a great deal of turmoil as the boomers react to the bad news and I don't think the turmoil will end until the boomer resign themselves to working that extra 10 years. Given human nature, this will not be an easy job and, indeed, may prove to be an impossible job.


June 19, 2006

First and foremost, Siva, filling in for Eric Alterman, over at Altercation reminds me to wish a joyous juneteenth to one and all. To steal from the Passover hagaddah, "Yesterday we were slaves, today we are free!"

Immunity Tradeoffs

June 17, 2006

As I read this article over at ABC news all I could think of was, "But will any large number of people be willing to trade higher infant mortality for a lower incidence of asthma?"  Cleaner living may not challenge our immune systems like living in an open sewer but this may just be a price we have to pay.  I can imagine that if Dr. Parker can isolate one or a number of non-pathogenic challenges that this might be  good thing but this will, I imagine, take a while.

Hudson v. Michigan

June 16, 2006

Publius at Law and Politics has written a very insightful post approving of the decision in Hudson. Jedmunds at Pandagon linked to it in approval. I commented at Pandagon, after reading both Publius' post and Scalia's decision. I think I will make that comment my post for tonight (it's late, I'm tired, and I have to drive to the beach through what I am sure will be 5 hours of hellish traffic in the AM). Not included in the original comment , tho, is this line by Publius in a follow-up:

A lot of this turns on how much trust you have for the police. The early exclusionary rule cases can't be separated from race and Southern racism. The question is whether those assumptions are still valid in 2006.

While I am in the American south, I am also very cynical about human nature. I just don't believe it changes much in a mere century. Humans are as good as they are forced to be. I will believe those assumptions are true util it is proven otherwise (maybe in 10,000 years :-))

Anyhow, here's the comment:

The problem is that the United States runs not only the Constitution, but also (to a limited extent) under common law. There is and should be a great respect for prior decisions, known generally as stare decisis. The exclusionary rule has been the remedy for almost any fault in the execution of a warrant for over 90 years. It is the essence of what I think of when I think of “settled law”. If you ask any police officer the price of screwing up at any point, they will tell you, “Then anything you find gets thrown out.” and as a result, they are very careful in every step of the process. I truly believe this is exactly as it should be. The minute you open up any grey area, then you introduce a decision into the police officer executing his duty. I don’t like that. Police should have a bright line. The fouth is a biggie and they should be extrememly careful. All sides in this case admitted that the pause would not have allowed the defendant to dispose of the evidence. If they had adhered to the existing standard, then they get the evidence, if not then they don’t. With this decision, they are now tempted… “How far can I go, and still get the evidence in?” THAT IS A BAD QUESTION!!!! I think we need that line.

In addition, if this court is willing to reopen decisions that are nearly a century old, God help us all. Again and again at hearings for judicial nominations we hear the question, “Do you regard Roe v. Wade as “settled law”?” If this is not settled law, then Roe has no chance.

When exceptions to the law are made to assure catching 100% of the guilty, then we must be prepared to pay the price tha we will assuredly convict some of the innocent.

It’s BUSH, stupid!

June 15, 2006

Tristero over at Hullabaloo has hit the nail squarely on the head.  Go and read it

How Would a Patriot Act?

June 14, 2006

Just back from Drinking Liberally where I heard Glenn Greenwald of Unclaimed Territory speak on his book "How Would a Patriot Act?"  He's quite brilliant as a speaker, which I expected from being a long-time reader of his blog.  One of these days I hope to be able to comment intelligently there, but so far all I can do is read and nod in agreement.  Quite an intelligent audience as well, with many good questions.

I managed to close out the questioning with one that actually went to his publisher's rep, Jennifer Nix.  "After publishing Markos' and Jerome's "Crashing the Gates" and Glen's "How would a Patriot Act?"  (both excellent), what do you intend for an encore?"  She refused to get specific, but did say that they have three projects in the works.

Io Triumpe!

June 14, 2006

As I watched the various news oulets yesterday, I could not help but think of the contrast between a Roman triumphal procession and a rat scurrying from bolt-hole to bolt-hole across a weed-strewn lot. 

Back when this disaster began I remember any number of articles, columns and op/eds on "the price of empire."  Even if I wanted the empire (I don't) and even if I was willing to pay the price (I'm not) then this is certainly some strange new sort of empire that George Bush is building.


June 13, 2006

I have had it with discussions of immigration. I cannot believe that every time the subject is brought up that the response isn't "Yes, the economy is in the toilet, isn't it?"

The entire nation spent the whole of the 90's not caring about illegal immigration because whatever their job, the vast majority of people knew that their next job would be better and that their wages were going to increase. As a result, the only concern for illegal immigrants centered around whether they were receiveing decent treatment. In those days, no one was too concerned with competition for their jobs or for competing with illegal immigrants for their jobs because they were moving up, not down.

Today, in this "jobless recovery" we have entered, many people are looking down the economic ladder and fearing that this may be the path they are on. As a result the illegal immigrants have become competition and our current debate.

The solution is not "immigration reform," it is economic reform. If wages were rising, if adequate numbers of new jobs were being created, then immigration reform would disappear back into the background. Make no mistake, our current immigration system is shameful, but to talk of reform in this economic climate is very premature. First get the economy on track, then we can talk about immigration at leisure.