Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Short: What do we owe to the British empire?

Answer: Almost everything about our political system.

Don't be scared off by the polemical title of this fascinating article. After reading it, you'll think a little differently about the connotations of the word 'empire' and you'll be grateful for the British empire too.

The thesis, briefly, is that the British empire gave us Americans a lot of breathing space to develop good governance. Besides that, the British also developed a form of government that was influenced by and conducive to trade and commercial wealth. This benefited lots of people, including us Americans. Since WWII, it's been our turn to provide the general peace that is the foundation for a decent life and prosperity.

These ideas aren't new to me. My first separation from liberal orthodoxy was over the role of the military in our country and the world. I had to admit that US military power seemed to be generally a boon to the world rather than a murdering, bludgeoning curse. (Generally, not always.)

This article draws the clear connection between the British empire and liberal democracy. Most liberals wouldn't even consider that there is a connection, but there is. Take that, you pinko liberals.

Image: ft.com

Monday, July 28, 2014

Paul Ryan is confusing me

I'm very confused. Paul Ryan has just released an overhaul plan for federal programs that help the poor. Why has he done this? This is the same guy who was the only Republican (almost) to put together a budget, and that budget slashed poverty abatement programs. And now he's for giving the poor a lot more help than his budget envisioned? I'm trying to make sense of this.

  • Perhaps Ryan wants to have a better poverty plan than "cut, cut, cut" prior to announcing his intention to run for president. That would make sense. Let's call this Option 1.
  • Maybe Ryan always cared about the poor, but he got so wrapped up in being the budget guru that he forgot about it. Let's call this Option 2.
  • Maybe Ryan is seeing others in the GOP, such as Mike Lee, taking a lead in poverty issues, and he doesn't want to lose his status as the top idea man. Let's call this Option 3.
  • Maybe Ryan is just a juggernaut when it comes to policy. He sees a vacuum, and he's driven to do something about it. Let's call this Option 4.

Does this have anything to do with the midterm elections? Maybe, but I don't see how. A major overhaul of federal poverty programs isn't on the agenda of either party. That is part of what confused me--this doesn't seem to be connected to the upcoming elections.

I hate this sense of not knowing the strategy behind this proposal. Maybe it will become clearer. What's more likely is that the plan will fizzle, sort of like the Ryan budget did.

Oh, I just realized one additional option, which we'll call Option 5. Paul Ryan is incoherent in his thinking and ideas.

Good, Now I'm not confused anymore. I can always fall back on this option. Phew, that's a relief.

Image: huffingtonpost.com

Extras. A post containing an interesting graph showing how benefits phase out as income rises. A post about how we have only 3% chronically poor. Is Ryan's plan a big program for a small number? Some good points there, but I have lingering questions about all the non-chronically poor, such as the poor children, poor elders, and poor disabled that are also mentioned in passing. That sounds like it adds up to loads more than 3%.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Last outpost of crazy: Dictatorial movie reviewers

Watch this movie and it will lead to nuclear holocaust! That's one way, or maybe the only way, to get me interested in a movie.

The weird leader of North Korea is upset over a major Hollywood movie. Two comic actors, who previously starred together in a stoner movie, now have a movie where they're assigned to assassinate said weird leader.

Kim Jong Un is threatening "merciless retaliation." He's killed people before. He or one of his predecessors have shot missiles without provocation, kidnapped people from Japan, but not managed to start a war recently. I hope he doesn't kill or maim over this movie, but it's on him if he does.

 Image: rt.com

Same Day Update. Oops, the concerns are a big exaggeration. Never mind

Short: Arrested for a parenting decision

At a time when we have stressed parents trying to make ends meet, I don't think we should add to the burden by questioning non-dangerous parenting decisions. Here's a story. A mother had a shift at work, the 9-year-old daughter was bored sitting at the workplace and wanted to stay at the park instead. Mom said yes, and gave her a cellphone. On the third day of this arrangement, a budinsky parent called the cops or child services. Was the child incapable of looking after herself? There's no evidence of that. So why should the kid be whisked into foster care, and the mother arrested and charged?

Yes, there was the potential of danger, but children do transition from needing full-time adult supervision (minus bathroom breaks and sanity breaks) to being responsible for their own safety. Our laws are wrong if they represent the expectation that a 9-year-old needs the same supervision as a 9-month-old or as a 15-year-old. Please, let's not make it harder on our parents and our kids. Give them more leeway than was shown in this incident.

This is most likely the park. Looks nice.
Image: chronicle.augusta.com

Thursday, July 17, 2014

No emergency money without concessions

It makes plenty of sense to me that the GOP, with their strength in the House and Senate, should attach some strings to the money for the immigration crisis. People don't usually open the wallet and get nothing in return. However, Dems think they aren't bound by this.

The Republicans want a change in a 2008 law so that central American immigrant minors can be sent home as readily as Mexican minors can. Immigrant groups are flexing their muscles, and have gotten Nancy Pelosi to oppose this change. But without the change, no extra money.

What will the Obama administration do? They can divert funding, which is probably not legal or they wouldn't be asking for the money in the first place. They can use their emergency authority under the 2008 law to send the minors back quickly, thus saving some money. Or they can make the deal with the Republicans. I don't know how badly they need the money, though it does seem that extraordinary measures are taking place--minors transported to lots of different facilities, warehouses and other buildings being converted for temporary use as detention centers. That sounds expensive.

I don't think the administration can continue to slow-ball the handling of this surge of young immigrants. These refugees aren't going to get the drawn out hearings that have been customary. Instead, the process will have to be expedited, much to the disappointment of immigrant and Hispanic groups. If Obama really does need the money, he has little choice but to agree to the concessions.

Image: breitbart.com

On second thought: It's going to be hard for Obama to put together a deal. Some Republicans are definitely going to vote against it, so Obama needs some House Democrats. If Pelosi is signaling to her pawns how to vote, will there be enough votes for whatever deal is negotiated? That will be close.

I have to wonder what is worse: the current configuration of power in Washington, and whatever the next stage will be. I'm fed up with them, but I'm terrified should any group gain a lock on power with House, Senate, and presidency. 

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Tea Party gears up to strike out, yet again

The Tea Party really, REALLY wants to crucify Obama, but they'll settle for impeachment. Boehner is trying to buy them off with a pansy-waist lawsuit, but some of them aren't taking it. Erick Erickson is howling for Congress to man up on impeachment. So is Sarah Palin.
Oddly, one day after Palin's rallying cry for impeachment, Erickson decided that impeachment won't work. He's sticking with his assessment that a lawsuit is a stunt, so that leaves the power of the purse--the shutdown and default strategy that didn't work last time.

Palin called for impeachment on July 8, and by July 9, she had that sinking ship pretty much to herself. On July 13, William Kristol declared that "No responsible Republican has called  for impeachment." I could say Palin had been hung out to dry, except that she's a gutless, witless, second-string toady who doesn't even realize how lame and stupid she is. She hangs herself out to dry just by opening her mouth and letting stale conservative talking points crawl out. Then, she doubles-down on her own stupidity, as in this insipid column on all the non-specific wrongs Obama has committed.

Today there's a poll showing that 35% of the country want Obama impeached. I'm betting on a far different number within six months, if there's any poll at all. The impeachment mania has peaked, and now it's going downhill. Should someone like Ted Cruz push for impeachment, they will get slapped in the face with a dead fish. They won't get ushered into the driver's seat, as happened last year.

I wonder how long before the majority of Tea Partyers realize this. How long before Palin realizes? What will they do when they do realize it? That might be interesting to observe. Usually, however, bad ideas end with a whimper, not a bang. That's probably what will happen here.

To be completely honest, I didn't realize how dead impeachment was when I started this post. But I figured it out, and much faster than Palin will.

Boehner's nuts ... or Palin's marbles?
Image: oops, lost the reference

Extras. Impeachment was so last February. A humorous summary of Palin's complaint.
Update 7/16/14. More Republicans say impeachment is unworkable. I guess Sarah missed the memo.

Boehner spinning those wheels

Congress is deadlocked, and therefore has nothing to do (well, close to nothing). Boehner wants to present the semblance of activity and gravity, so he's decided to sue the president. He's got to do something, and it's better than some of the alternatives, like letting a committee research impeachment issues. What a circus that would be. So a lawsuit provides the veneer of activity and gravity, but it moves ever so slowly.

I thought I heard that the lawsuit was already filed! That would be huge news, but I was mistaken. No, Boehner has announced that it will center on one issue--just one! That's better than the kitchen sink approach, and it definitely prevents some jerk from throwing in questions about Obama's nationality. But it also feels like weak sauce.

Boehner still has to get the draft of the lawsuit done. I predict he'll stretch that out for a while. He's also going to offer a resolution for the House to vote on that directs the House to make the suit. That adds another gating device to slow things down a bit.

The House was supposed to have hearings on Benghazi, but I haven't heard anything else about them. I thought it was supposed to be this summer. Is that not going to happen after all? It's hard to tell. Maybe Boehner thinks it's a vote-getter, so he's saving it for the fall campaign season. Or maybe he thinks it's a loser, so it's been quietly buried. I can't tell, but I'd put better odds on the burial.

The Democrats in Congress don't have anything to do either, but they're quieter in that mode. Republicans should learn the lesson.

Image: rumproast.com