Sparks Will Fly!

November 3, 2010 at 4:54 pm (By Maxwell James)

Apparently the next chair of the House Monetary Policy Subcommittee is slated to be [drum roll]… Ron Paul.

Maybe he won’t want it. Maybe Boehner won’t want him to take it. But gotta say, I kind of hope this happens, just for the sheer entertainment value.

(h/t Weigel).

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The Filibuster Must Die(t)

October 21, 2010 at 6:08 pm (By Maxwell James)

Writing of the sharp budget cuts now being implemented by the British Tories, Matthew Yglesias makes a good point:

But I do hope that American conservatives will look at the UK and recognize that even though they may have enjoyed the filibuster in 2009-2010, the extremely cumbersome nature of the American political process will make it forever impossible to enact these kind of sweeping cuts in the United States.

From where I sit, the system they have in the UK where you can simply sweep opposition objections aside is actually the right way to do bipartisanship. Call it bipartisanship by alternation. When Labour wins the election, Labour has the chance to implement a bold agenda creating and expanding programs in a way that they think will make Britain a better place to live. Then when the Tories come in, they’re able to be brutal in their efforts to pare back or eliminate things that they think aren’t working. Over the long term, you get a trajectory where programs survive if and only if they’re so widely regarded as successful that no mainstream party would dare abolish them.

The Tea Party may be clamoring for “less,” but without structural changes to the way government works it is pretty much impossible to imagine a scenario in which spending is so significantly pared back in this country. The filibuster is good for one thing: preserving the status quo. But what good is that if the status quo is unsustainable?

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Raiders of the Lost ARRA

September 7, 2010 at 2:28 pm (By Maxwell James)

“Government can be a mysterious institution. Indeed, the pathway to understanding how your tax dollars are being spent can be a very difficult journey, much like trying to find your way out of the ancient catacombs. That’s one reason why transparency is so vital in an open government.”

– Chairman’s Corner, Recovery.Gov.

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Ladies and Gentleman, Your Global Political-Religious Conspiracy

August 19, 2010 at 2:58 pm (By Maxwell James)

If this Politico article is to be believed, the fierce controversy over the Cordoba House/WTC Mosque will end as it should – with a gnab gib:

The Cordoba Initiative hasn’t yet begun fundraising for its $100 million goal. The group’s latest fundraising report with the state attorney general’s office, from 2008, shows exactly $18,255 — not enough even for a down payment on the half of the site the group has yet to purchase.

The group also lacks even the most basic real estate essentials: no blueprint, architect, lobbyist or engineer — and now operates amid crushing negative publicity. The developers didn’t line up advance support for the project from other religious leaders in the city, who could have risen to their defense with the press.

The group’s spokesman, Oz Sultan, wouldn’t rule out developing the site with foreign money in an interview with POLITICO — but said the project’s goal is to rely on domestic funds. Currently, they have none of either.

It gets better:

Weeks into the controversy, Sultan told POLITICO that the project’s developers are hoping to get their “talking points” together.

“Give us a little time,” he pleaded.

“They could have obviously done a lot better in explaining who they are if they really wanted to get approval,” said publicist Ken Sunshine, a veteran of New York’s development wars. “There’s a real question as to whether there’s money behind this.”

“As I understand it, there’s no money there,” said another prominent business official.

A prominent supporter of the project was blunt: “This is amateur hour,” he said.

“That’s why the idea that this is some big conspiracy is so silly,” said the supporter. “Yes, you could say this is not a well-oiled machine.

Clearly, the dark forces driving for “Islamication of America” are no match for the hardened realities of New York City real estate.

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The Heart of America

August 4, 2010 at 3:49 pm (By Maxwell James)

Michael Bloomberg gets it:

The government has no right whatsoever to deny that right – and if it were tried, the courts would almost certainly strike it down as a violation of the U.S. Constitution. Whatever you may think of the proposed mosque and community center, lost in the heat of the debate has been a basic question – should government attempt to deny private citizens the right to build a house of worship on private property based on their particular religion? That may happen in other countries, but we should never allow it to happen here. This nation was founded on the principle that the government must never choose between religions, or favor one over another.

The right to worship or not worship as we please, and the right to do with our own private property as we please. Those freedoms are central to the experiment that is the United States.

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July 2, 2010 at 11:18 am (By Maxwell James)

Icepick has a really great, moving comment over at Dave Schuler’s place (in a thread where I was behaving rather childishly):

As for addressing Medicare – I will do so just to spite you. The truth of the matter is that Medicare cannot be fixed. Forcing doctors and hospitals to take less money will insure shortages of coverage. No one will accept that. And failing to reduce costs will simply bankrupt the country. Obama and Co. are attempting another path, which is to destroy the whole goddamned US medical system. They’ll probably succeed. After all, if EVERYONE is getting crappy rationed medical care, then those old people can’t complain when we don’t give them anything.

Medicare won’t be fixed. It WILL go bankrupt, and soon. What happens after that wreck? Who knows? Personally I suspect that the effort to keep it afloat will end up destroying a large chunk of the American economy and will definitely destroy the last vestiges of the republic, slight as those vestiges are.

Mr. Schuler, how do you propose to means test Medicare? Most people don’t have retirement medical benefits, and those that do have such benefits are usually predicated on Medicare absorbing 80% of the costs. Removing that subsidy would bankrupt the private plans right quick.

Even those with good incomes would have trouble affording decent medical insurance. What is the fair actuarial cost for medical insurance covering an 82 year-old with a history of bladder cancer, osteoperosis, and many other issues? That’s really damned steep. You’re either going to exclude almost no one, thus gaining almost no benefit, or you will be exluding people solely with the intent of making them paupers. And that will not fly, politically.

(There are aspects of Medicare currently which do this as well. No one likes to talk about THAT topic much either, and most have no idea such things can even occur until it happens to a family member.)

Dave, in fine form, pivots and turns this into a great post about real healthcare reform – the kind we haven’t even begun to see yet. I don’t agree with everything in either the comment or the post, but they’re both extremely thoughtful and ask important questions without offering facile answers. Read it all, both of ’em.

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Please Stop The New

June 29, 2010 at 9:46 am (By Maxwell James)

While I agree with most of what Ron Rosenbaum says here, I really wish he’d drop the request for a manifesto, even if it is half tongue-in-cheek. If agnostics deserve anything in this life, it’s a lack of manifestos and mission statements.

Also: Branding anything as “New” just indicates that it’s going to be stupid. Less, please.

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First they came for chess,

June 18, 2010 at 2:06 pm (By Maxwell James)

Now, they’re coming for “Jeopardy.”

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Today in Shoddy Journalism

March 26, 2010 at 1:19 pm (By Maxwell James)

From a WSJ article, “Middle Class Starts to Drift From Obama” (subscribers only):

“Yes, we need health-care reform, but why couldn’t we have taken it step by step?” asked Kitty Rehberg, a 71-year-old farmer from nearby Rowley, who held a colonial-era American flag as she protested near Mr. Obama’s speech. She said the president’s policies would cost her “a lot from my pocket book” to help people who “just want freebies.”

If that’s the same as this Kitty Rehberg from Rowley, Iowa, she’s a Republican State Senator, and has been for some time [CORRECTION: She’s a former state senator – her last term ended in 2005]. She’s also a recipient of a fair amount of farm subsidies.

It’s called Google, guys. Look into it.

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William Safire May Be Dead…

October 14, 2009 at 12:59 pm (By Maxwell James)

…but his spirit lives on.

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