Friday, April 29, 2011

Someone came out the wrong end of the time tunnel


My (not quite) 10-year-old son apparently got his circadian rhythm from Venus, and his cultural dispositions from the mid-1990s.

He can't sleep unless he's tired, and often this means long nights, with him wrapping back around to a 10pm bedtime about once a week.

Which means he was up all last night, asking for my help on various projects.

Projects like installing OS/2 Warp on an old box he's been messing with, and setting up a Usenet reader on another machine. I think there was something about making a Windows 98 boot floppy in there, too. Oh, and he's been begging for the complete DVD set of "Full House."

His musical tastes, on the other hand, seem to have settled into a pattern from a couple of decades before that -- he digs Creedence [note: Upon reading this, he wanted it clarified that he just likes "Have You Ever Seen the Rain?"] and ELO ["Mr. Blue Sky"]. I personally think he's in a better place on that front.

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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Birtherism: Here's where it goes next


Now that President Barack Obama has released his "long-form" birth certificate, the "issue" is over, right? Right?

Wrong. Here's what happens next:

- Donald Trump, who hinted that he'd release his tax returns if Obama released the birth certificate, will hem and haw a bit before announcing that his busy business life (getting to five bankruptcies isn't easy, you know) unfortunately precludes a 2012 presidential campaign.

- The hardcore "birthers" -- Orly Taitz, Eric Dondeo, et al -- will split their time between scrutinizing the certificate for fonts that weren't available in 1961, manufacturing new "evidence" that Obama is actually a secret Islamo-Marxist infiltrator, and inventing new demands along the lines of "no, we meant the double-secret probation long form certificate -- I can't even buy a Pepsi at the grocery store with that thing he released."

- The steam will go out of state-based "show your birth certificate to get on the ballot" legislation. A few weeks from now, someone will hint that Republicans are racists, Republicans will object, and someone else will ask "then why did birth certificates suddenly become un-important to you as soon as the black dude produced his?"

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Friday, April 15, 2011

Who Says Size Doesn't Matter?


The electronic cigarette battery on the far right is my new KR808D-1 auto "Mega." The one in the middle is the standard size (both batteries w/cartomizers attached for size comparison to cigarette). The "real" cigarette on the left is a "100." Sorry about the poor photo, I used my phone and had trouble getting the light right and keeping shadow off of it.

So anyway, the new one can do double duty as a baton if I ever get promoted to field marshal or drum major. Comfortable to hold, though, and longer-lasting (380 milli-ampere hours versus 280mAh).

Got it from Vapor Kings. Great price and fantastic service as always -- I ordered on the evening of the 12th, it arrived the morning of the 15th even at their cheapest shipping rate (US Snail 1st Class, $1.64). Highly recommended!

I'm not completely back off tobacco yet (I needed the new battery because one of my old ones finally died and the other has to charge for quite awhile after a few hours of use), but close and already feeling noticeably better. By the end of the weekend, I expect.

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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Shut up, he explained


To "explain" is "To make plain, manifest, or intelligible; to clear of obscurity; to expound; to unfold and illustrate the meaning of; as, to explain a chapter of the Bible."

So when Akiva writes (at The Libertarian Standard) the following ...

As Stephan Kinsella has explained, corporations are nothing more than a series of contracts enabling a large number of people to work together toward common goals.

... I'd be remiss in my duty to the English language if I didn't point out that the phrase "has re-defined them" makes more sense than the phrase "has explained" in that sentence.

"[A] series of contracts enabling large number of people to work together toward common goals" could describe any number of kinds of groups (including large partnerships structured as joint stock companies).

The defining characteristic of a "corporation," absent which any explanation thereof is necessarily reduced to pure hooey, is that the state treats it under law as a "person" unto itself, with an identity independent of that "large number of [contracting] people." The purpose of establishing this independent identity by state fiat ("charter") is to insulate the "large number of [contracting] people" from any liabilities which might arise from actions actually taken by those people or their agents, by allowing them to ascribe said actions to the "corporation."

Kinsella does make a strong argument against "vicarious liability," holding that corporate agents rather than the corporation, or the corporation's stockholders, are completely responsible for their actions. But re-defining "corporation" from its actual meaning to "a series of contracts enabling large number of people to work together toward common goals" isn't a valid shortcut to that conclusion, any more than re-defining "capitalism" from its historical meaning ("a mixed, state-regulated industrial economy") magically makes it shorthand for "the free market."

All of the above would have gone into comments over at the Standard, but instead of either allowing open commenting or installing one of the several available comment packages that are becoming widely-adopted standards, they want site-specific registration ... which just bugs me, so I'm not doing it. Besides, posting it here gives me an excuse to link to them.

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Check Out the Big Brain on Mitt!


His first order of business after formally establishing a 2012 exploratory committee seems to be staking out his claim as the sane candidate vis a vis "birtherism."

It's a smart move. It sets him apart from the "flirty with the birthers" GOP pack, and the only way that backfires is if a smoking gun turns up (unlikely, given that four years of all-out effort by the "birthers" has yet to produce a shred of credible evidence that Barack Obama is anything but a "natural-born citizen").

It also takes some of the edge off the first post-declaration wave of attacks. His primary opponents want to keep the discussion focused on Romney as godfather of ObamaCare. His "birther" statement preempts them. He's calling them crazy -- and forcing them to admit it by remaining silent, or prove it by responding.

Maybe this guy has more chops than I've previously given him credit for.

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Sunday, April 10, 2011

About that there "Israeli genocide"


From anti-Zionist/anti-Israel folks, I frequently hear that Israel is engaged in "genocide" of Arabs living in the West Bank and Gaza (I won't say "Palestinians," since Israelis are also Palestinians, or even "Palestinian Arabs" since many Arabs live in the 90% of Palestine that's part of Jordan).

Since I'm not omniscient, I can't completely discount the possibility that the Israelis faked the execution of Adolph Eichmann and retained him to craft a "final solution" to "the Palestinian problem." But if they did so, he failed to deliver anything like the results he achieved on behalf of the Third Reich.

US Population Growth Rate as of 2010: 0.977%
Israeli Population Growth Rate as of 2008: 1.8%
West Bank Population Growth Rate as of 2008: 2.25%
Gaza Strip Population Growth Rate as of 2008: 3.422%

Resolved, that if the population you're genociding is growing faster than your own, you're not doing it right.

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Wordpress Plug-in Bleg


I'm looking for something relatively simple, but from a little Googling (and searching via Wordpress's install utility) it seems that thing doesn't exist ... yet.

What I'd like is a plug-in that arranges images in the Wordpress "media library" in order by "most used."

Here's why:

Over at RRND, I try to accompany posts with 100x100 pixel "featured images" -- a writer's head shot, an organization's logo, that kind of thing -- whenever possible. I've been building my collection of images as I go.

Thing is, some "featured images" are naturally going to be used more often than others. Some authors and sites produce more content that gets linked/blurbed in RRND than others do. But when I click on "choose featured image" and go to my "media library," the images are displayed for selection in paginated form, last uploaded being first shown. That means I either have to page through the library looking for the image I want, or plug part of the image title into the search form.

It's not that it adds a lot of time to my workload -- mere seconds usually, as the things I look for most often are generally already in the search form, ready to auto-complete, or I remember the page they're on because I go there so often -- it's that it's ... not elegant. It seems to me that if I use a particular image twice a day, it should show up on the first page, versus an image that I used once, three months ago.

If there's a plug-in out there for Wordpress 3.x that does this, and if you know about it, I'd appreciate a note in comments.

If you're a plug-in designer, well, I'm not an angel investor, but if I find a plug-in useful I generally throw five bucks or so at its author. My guess is that a plug-in that does this (and maybe a few other useful things, but not some kind of godawful kitchen sink thing) would bring at least a few bucks, and lots of eternal gratitude, your way.

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Friday, April 08, 2011

"Shutdown" Blame Game Update: Advantage GOP


The Republican-controlled US House of Representatives has passed a one-week "stopgap" government funding bill.

If the US Senate passes it and the President signs it, a "government shutdown" will be averted.

If the US Senate doesn't pass it and/or the President of the United States refuses to sign it, a "government shutdown" is on deck for tonight.

The Democrat-controlled US Senate doesn't seem inclined to pass it.

The Democrat President of the United States doesn't seem inclined to sign it.

That's the math in the simplest possible terms, folks -- the Republican Party has said it wants to keep the government ticking along, the Democratic Party has said it wants to "shut the government down."

I still think the GOP would be better off owning the "shutdown" thing, but they seem to want to hand it off and the Democrats seem to want to take it. For the moment, anyway.

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Trump: Democrat Plant?


Might as well make my play for some of that there conspiracy theory traffic.

So ... is he? Here's my cui bono argument for the proposition:

  • The "birther" demographic leans heavily Republican. According to a recent CNN poll (PDF here -- h/t Libertarian [sic] Republican), 43% of Republicans believe that President Barack Obama was definitely or probably born in another country, versus 11% of Democrats and 23% of independents. If those numbers hold anything like steady, "birther" talking points will play far better in the GOP primaries than in the general election. Even if the Republican GOP nominee isn't a "birther," he or she will have spent months being forced to talk about the subject in public, and that will shave points off his or her potential performance in November of 2012.

  • So, up pops Donald Trump -- a political dilettante and corporate welfare queen with multiple bankruptcies under his belt, who's never going to get within a mile of the Oval Office unless it's for some kind of PR stunt, but who suddenly loves to talk about where Barack Obama may or may not have been born -- styling himself a prospective Republican presidential candidate.

Who benefits from Trump's candidacy and "birther" obsession? President Barack Obama, that's who.

From a circumstantial angle, Trump's constant entanglement with investment bankers -- who seem to be Obama's best friends, based on their campaign contributions and his cabinet appointment choices -- looks pretty suspicious. Did a favor get called in, or a threat made, to put The Donald in "birther"-fueled campaign mode? Inquiring minds want to know.

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No, Jim, It's Really Not


Over, that is.

Right up front, let me make it clear that I don't give a damn who won/wins the Wisconsin Supreme Court race. I'm not a Republican, I'm not a Democrat, and I'm not on board with either side of the big controversy ("public" employees demanding a perpetual guaranteed spot at the hog trough versus a governor who wants to bust them there unions so his corporate welfare queen supporters can consume a bigger share of the slop).

But there's no doubt whatsoever -- none, zero, zip, zilch, nada -- that if a Republican pulled off an apparent slim victory in an important election, and a local Democrat official popped up two days later with "oh, look, I just happened to find exactly enough votes to change the result and put it beyond the automatic recount margin, I must have missed them the first time, tee hee, sorry about that," Jim Hoft would blow the roofs off several St. Louis landmarks with the sheer volume of his screams for an investigation into possible election fraud. And he'd be right.

It ain't over. And it's probably going to get even uglier.

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Nick King on The Varieties of Chemical Experience


In The American Conservative. Read it.

King's formative drug experiences were separated from mine by a decade or so and about 200 miles.

Mine started pretty tame in high school and advanced a bit after, his were more exotic in high school than mine ever got (perhaps because I went directly from high school to boot camp and therefore had to exercise a certain degree of discretion for some time). Methamphetamine hadn't yet really cast its shadow over my home town of Lebanon and LSD was something you had to know someone in Springfield to get.

Nonetheless, the tone of King's mini-memoir rings very true. I'm given to understand that the article may presage a book, and look forward to reading that as well.

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Thursday, April 07, 2011

Informal poll


"Nobody wants a government shutdown ..."

I keep hearing that from various corners.

Anyone disagree with it? Besides me, I mean?

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Wednesday, April 06, 2011

I thought I'd seen an awful crash ...


... a mile or so from home last night.

It looked like a Honda Gold Wing 1800 had rear-ended a Segway PT.

Worse yet, the whole crumpled, entangled mass was still rolling down the road -- with someone still trapped on it!

After a minute or so we pulled up to a stoplight and I figured out that it was actually an intentional vehicle. The lady riding it had the stereo going and looked comfortable and in control.

I'm pretty sure it was actually one of these. I guess I need to get out more. They've apparently been around awhile, but this is the first time I've seen one.

First reaction: Kinda fugly, and it just seems counter-intuitive to have two wheels up front and one in back. But once you get used to it, it may look beautiful and feel like the only way to drive for all I know.

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Equal and opposite reaction?


Maybe even "win-win?"

If the federal government shuts down, will Barack Obama, John Boehner, Harry Reid, Michele Bachmann, et. al shut up?

Didn't think so, but it never hurts to ask.

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When the election fraud gets obvious ...


... it's impossible not to notice.

I'm not sure it changed the outcomes in my city's mayoral and alderperson elections -- and I don't think it was really intended to -- but it visibly impacted the numbers involved.

In 2007, Greendale Missouri had a total of 550 registered voters, 138 (25.9%) of whom voted in that April's mayoral and alderperson elections.

In 2008 -- smack in the middle of Obamamania and the attention on the presidential primaries in overwhelmingly Democratic north St. Louis County, Missouri -- 89 Greendale voters (15.86% of the city's 561 registered voters) voted in April.

April of 2009: 92 votes (16.17% of 569 registered).

April of 2010: 151 (27.61% of 547 registered).

[All of the above numbers per the St. Louis County Board of Elections web site]

Yesterday, according to unofficial counts from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, turnout in Greendale was 43.69%, if registered voters remain at 547 (unlikely -- Greendale has continued to lose population over the last year): 239 voters. Moreover, that turnout was split almost evenly between two wards, one of which had a contested alderperson race and one of which didn't.

In neighboring Bel Nor, turnout appears to have jumped from 34% in April of 2010 to a whopping 84.5% yesterday (that's a higher turnout percentage than any precinct in the area in November of 2008!).

The Greendale voters went overwhelmingly against one candidate for two offices -- a multi-term alderperson (Chandra Coughley) who was running both for re-election and for mayor (if she won both, the alderperson seat would have been filled by appointment). Coughley has a pretty good reputation within the city from such things as writing grants for federal improvement money, etc.

Running against Coughley for mayor was Monica Huddleston, herself a former mayor and someone who remains continuously active in the community.

Running against Coughly for alderperson was Doris Trocjak, herself a former alderperson and someone who remains continuously active in the community.

Results for mayor: Huddleston 212, Coughley 27.
Results for Alderperson: Trocjak 103, Coughley 25.

If you believe that area voter turnout actually jumped that much, and that the results actually fell out that way, I've got some oceanfront property to sell you, sight unseen.

Let me be perfectly clear on two things here:

First, I doubt that the vote fraud changed those two Greendale outcomes.

Secondly, I don't believe that Huddleston and Trocjak had anything to do with the vote fraud. They were merely its unintentional beneficiaries due to the fraudsters making the mistake of marking false ballots all one way in the race they weren't trying to affect.

Based on past turnout and on the assumption that all of Coughley's votes were genuine, my rough guess is that Huddleston beat Coughley for mayor by about 75 or 80 votes to 27, and that Trocjak beat Coughley for alderperson by about 50-25.

I'm basing that guess on my own past experience in Greendale elections (I've personally managed campaigns for one winning candidate for office and two defeats of local ballot measures), and on observed factors:

Huddleston, Trocjak and Alexander Herman (an unopposed candidate for a second alderperson position) ran as a ticket, worked hard, knocked on doors, got signs out, worked the polls, and were relentlessly positive.

Coughley ran solo, worked hard, knocked on doors, and got signs out. I even got an automated text message from her reminding me to vote (I don't vote, and she knew that, but she asked anyway). But she didn't have as much of a presence at the polling place as her opponents, and her campaign wasn't as positive as her opponents' campaign (even when Monica Huddleston feels the need to attack, she does so with a smile on her face and in the friendliest language she can come up with; Coughley's allusions to her opponents were negative/reactive).

Based on that -- and I said nothing about this to any of the three ladies in advance, as I consider them all friends -- I guessed that Coughley would likely lose. I suspected she might lose by as much as a 2-1 margin in the second ward mayoral vote (Coughley lives in first ward, Huddleston in the second), and by perhaps 55-45% in first ward for alderperson and/or mayor.

She did not lose by nearly 9 to 1 citywide, nor did she lose by 4 to 1 in first ward. Not no way, not no how.

The obvious -- and likely correct -- conclusion to draw is that the Lacey Clay (US Representative, 1st District Missouri) and/or Charlie Dooley (St. Louis County Executive) machines were stuffing ballot boxes as fast as they could go to put Democrat Jake Zimmerman over the top versus Republican LJ "Chip" Wood in the first county assessor election in 51 years, and forgot to tell their stuffers "make it look at least a little realistic -- split the fake ballots evenly on the other races."

The Clay machine is particularly ham-handed at vote fraud. In 2000, when Dooley ran against Clay for Congress (Clay's father was retiring) in the Democratic primary, I went to bed at 10:30 pm, with 95% of precincts -- all of those except the city precincts controlled by the Clay machine -- counted and Dooley leading Clay 65-35%. By the next morning, those 5% of remaining precincts had come in fresh from the graveyards and ballot printing facilities, swinging the vote 180 degrees. It was unbelievable.

Almost as unbelievable as this.

But not quite.

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Sound and fury, signifying nothing


Anthony Gregory at the Independent Institute, on Republican budget posturing:

For holding their ground, they want our praise and appreciation, and presumably our support for them to reoccupy the White House in a couple years. But what is this high principle they are sticking to? To borrow only $1.30 trillion in the coming year, rather than 1.33 trillion -- or some comparable numbers?

No one should take this seriously at all. Republican fiscal conservatism is akin to a 500-pound-man declaring aloud in January that he is determined to lose weight, and so he promises to forgo exactly half a glass of eggnog on Thanksgiving -- and if you protest, and insist he drink the whole glass, he will have none of it, because he has made up his mind to lose weight and refuses to compromise.

The whole thing is worth a read.

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Tuesday, April 05, 2011

School was in session this morning ...


... and Wayne Allyn Root got dragged down the hall to the boys' room for a swirlie.

In public.

On Fox.

By a "liberal."

And to top it off, he publicly outed 20 of his closest friends as idiots.

It's almost painful to watch, but you really should.



h/t -- Independent Political Report

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[The Other] McCain FTW


The greatest difficulty in criticizing Obama's policy on Libya is in figuring out exactly what the policy is.

Here.

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"You saw a hornet’s nest, and you stuck your penises in it"


That's Anonymous, explaining its declaration of war on Sony [hat tip -- Paul Tassi at Forbes].

It's about as apt a description as I've seen, applicable to virtually any of the bad guys (MPAA, RIAA, Sony, Righthaven, et. al) in the 21st century's Great War Over Intellectual Property. These idiots will willingly burn their own businesses down around themselves rather than adapt their revenue models to reality, and Anonymous is more than happy to strike a match for them after watching them pour gasoline all over themselves.

Personally, I haven't shed any tears for poor Sony since its rootkit attack on its own customers a few years back.

I don't have a dog in this particular hunt -- my family doesn't own a PS3 and isn't going to (the kids sneer at the idea; the old Playstation 2 gear lying around the house doesn't get used even as much as e.g. Liam's Sega Dreamcast) -- but I can't help but wish Anonymous well. If they leave a smoking crater in the ground where Sony once stood, the world will be a better place.

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Monday, April 04, 2011

Graham Rediscovers Lost Codicil to the First Amendment


Rectified text:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech unless it's religion, or speech, or religious speech, that Lindsey Graham disapproves of.

The details, from Doug Mataconis. And the discussion, via memeorandum.

Yeah, yeah, Terry Jones is a mental midget and moral reprobate who's headed for an eternity of backstroking in a lake of fire if the beliefs he himself preaches are true, but that's between him and his God (or not, as the case may be). The senior US Senator from North South Carolina doesn't have any standing in the matter.

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Sunday, April 03, 2011

[Japanese Fiscal] New Year Resolutions


I didn't really get with the resolutions around January 1, but now things are coming back together so I can.

Mainly, I want to un-backslide on two things.

Over the winter I first fell out of the exercise habit (I prefer biking and swimming, neither of which the weather was fit for), then fell off the electronic cigarettes and back onto "the real thing" (when I ran out of "juice" because I forgot to place an order, and just never got around to making that happen).

It's hard to even come up with language for how much better I felt when I was exercising and not smoking than I did before or do now. So, my resolutions are to get back with the exercise and get back off of tobacco and onto vapor.

I've already started the exercise. I biked several days in a row when it got warm two weeks ago, ceased when we had a brief cold snap, and started in again yesterday when a situation came up. Tamara ran out of gas about a mile-and-a-half down the road, and I biked a gas can to her and then back home. Three miles may not seem like much, but it was an up-and-down course and it wore me out and left me sore today. But I still went out and did an easy mile or so, just to start getting back into the habit of biking every day without fail.

In terms of goal-setting, I kind of have it in mind to bike the Katy Trail this summer. I haven't decided yet whether I want to try for the whole 225 miles, or perhaps bite off a shorter bit (65 miles and change from the St. Charles end of the trail to the Shrine of Our Lady of Sorrows near Rhineland, perhaps), or something in between (perhaps that 65 miles round-trip instead of one way).

On the smoking versus vaping, I'm going to order some juice tonight, and tonight or tomorrow clean my cartridges and get my batteries charged up. I'd like to be entirely off tobacco again by the end of the month at the latest.

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Saturday, April 02, 2011

Got Your "Retribution" Right Here, Reverend Jones


Murders are murderers and you do what you have to do about them. "He burned a book I like" isn't a defense.

On the other hand, Reverend Jones, STFU about "retribution" already. If the beliefs you preach are true, there's some coming, and it's coming your way like a 300-ton avalanche of some stuff you'd go a long way in the other direction to avoid smelling:

Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.

Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?

Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.

A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.

Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.

Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?

And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

That's Matthew 7. You might also want to give that there "lake of fire" passage in Revelation a once-over, and if you really, really believe it, muscle some serious skull-sweat on what Jesus is probably going to do to you if he ever gets his hands on you in your current spiritual state.

JC and his old man are reputedly willing to forgive almost anything, but nobody likes a grandstanding fool very much and it seems to me that you're probably best off going the extra mile to prove the genuineness of your contrition and humility. I'm thinking sackcloth and ashes and an "I Was A Prideful Dimbulb" sign at the very least, and in a very public way. If you get with the repentance before May 25th, maybe Oprah can help you out.

Selah.

Sincerely,
Rev. Thomas L.Knapp

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I have a question


I understand why the purveyors of spam via viruses/trojans do it: To make money.

I also understand that if a marketing technique remains in use over through many iterations and over a period of several years, that's because it works: Someone, somewhere is making money on the deal.

What I want to know is this:

Who are these people who say to themselves ...

"Some guy wrote a virus that infiltrated my retarded, Outlook-using friend's inbox, extracted my address from it, and sent me a link disguised as deviant porn -- hotnuderedheadwithgreatdane.jpg or whatever -- which, when clicked, leads me to a Mexican pharmacy site. Yes, yes, this is someone I trust to take my credit card number, safeguard it, and in return send me genuine, brand-name, quality-controlled pharmaceuticals at unbelievably low prices."

... ?

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Friday, April 01, 2011

New ways of looking at KN@PPSTER!


Courtesy of Blogger:

Flipcard
Mosaic
Sidebar
Snapshot
Timeslide

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Advice for the Republicans


Yes, I know it's dangerous to give political advice. Yes, I know it's particularly dangerous for an anarchist to give political advice, and it's doubling down on danger for someone to give political advice to a political party that anyone who bothers to notice knows damn well he will never, ever, ever support.

But I'm going to do it anyway. And to be fair, the advice I'm going to give to the Republican caucus in the US House of Representatives goes all the way back to 1995 and explains why I finally decided the GOP could never, ever, ever be my party of choice.

Here's the advice: Take ownership of the "government shutdown" issue.

Every time this thing comes up, the Democrats run the table. They raise the roof over "draconian" cuts in government spending. They say the Republicans want to take away the geezers' Social Security checks. They say it's personal petulance (remember the "this is all about Newt Gingrich feeling left out on Air Force One" meme in 1995?).

The Democrats get away with it because Republicans bend over backward trying to "look reasonable" and "craft compromises" and end up playing the losing end of the blame game -- so much so this time around that their starting proposal for budget cuts came to less than 1/25th of the projected deficit. Not 1/25th of the spending, 1/25th of the over-spending. As of right now, the number being thrown around the smoke-filled room is about half that much. That's not draconian, it's the punch line to a bad joke.

If the Republicans want to come out ahead in this show, John Boehner needs to strap on some balls and stop reading from the Democrats' pre-written script.

When the Democrats say the Republicans are the ones cruising for a shutdown, instead of doing the "I'm rubber, you're glue" bit, he needs to say "you're goddamn right we are. We're going to turn this thing in the right direction, or we're going to grind it to a halt."

When the Democrats complain that the Republican House isn't "working with" the president, Boehner needs to point out that contra George W. Bush, the president isn't the "decider," Congress is, and that the executive branch is there to execute what Congress legislates, with the money the House appropriates.

Boehner might want to add that while the president has resort to the veto for exceptional cases, and is of course welcome to courteously communicate his intention to use that veto if he sees it coming, for the most part he should probably keep his piehole shut and patiently await Congress's instructions. If they want his suggestions, they'll let him know.

That's how the Republicans win this thing. Not that I expect them to do anything substantially worth doing if they do win it, but I can't help but be embarrassed for them every time they let themselves get rolled like this.

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