gtomkins commented on the blog post Ian McKellen Talks Coming Out: Never Met A Gay Person Who Regretted It
Yeah, the ones who regretted it tend to be dead, one way or the other.
gtomkins commented on the diary post Chris Christie needs a lawyer whose name isn’t David Samson by Masoninblue.
Maybe going to jail is just the thing Christie needs to win over the Teahadists. They would never trust him otherwise — too “librul”! But if federal prosecutors working for the Obama administration put him in jail, all merely ideological sins will be forgiven in the glow of martyrdom at the hands of the Kenyan [...]
gtomkins commented on the blog post Dear Mr. Brooks, Let’s Talk About the Morality of Marijuana Prohibition
If Brooks actually believed that continued criminalization makes a valuable moral point, he would turn himself in for criminal prosecution for his former drug use.
gtomkins commented on the blog post Late Night: I Called the GOP’s Second Shutdown Jones Two Weeks Ago
This will probably be the final showdown.
The Ds think they won the last one by not backing down, so they won’t this time. The radical Rs think they only didn’t win because of their wets, and the ACA rollout troubles have reinforced the idea that the people are really with them, if only they hang tough enough. The moderate Rs and the Speaker have shown in the failed conference that they don’t want any particular real budget cuts or real “tax reform”, however adamantly they are for them in the abstract.
That commitment in the abstract will lead them to follow their party’s crazies all the way over the cliff this time. They won’t have any actual compromise plan of real cuts to spending or tax loopholes to force on the crazies as a substitute for cliff-diving, so cliff-diving it will be. Cliff-diving into default will be the only way they will have to prove their loyalty to the cause.
What happens next is less clear. Breach of the debt ceiling means that the administration will have no options left that don’t involve breaking laws.
If they cross the Halys, a great empire will fall. And this time it sure looks like they’re crossing the Halys.
The Rs didn’t have to pull the trigger in 2005. They got the Ds to allow their nominees through, the Ds knuckled under without making actual use of the nuclear option necessary.
What the Rs managed in 2005 was the neat trick of a one-way filibuster, a filibuster that only Rs get to use, because Ds don’t dare use it under R majorities out of fear that the Rs will just yank the privilege if its assertion ever really bothers them.
What happened yesterday wasn’t the end of any aspect of the filibuster. That ended back in 2005. What ended was the unilateral abuse of the privilege by Rs.
The perceived norm that the minority gets to filibuster was destroyed eight years ago when the Rs successfully got the then-minority Ds to back off several judicial filibusters by threatening to nuke the filibuster. What we’ve had since then, these past eight years, has been a one-way filibuster, a filibuster that only Rs get to use.
The Rs were never going to let Ds use the filibuster to keep Ernest off the bench. That was true even before the Ds used the threat of the nuclear option last May to get the Rs to lay off a few of their filibusters. Ds were certainly never going to be allowed any sort of filibuster after that, not by the Rs, not by people who think that a House majority entitles them to repeal the ACA. And now that Ds have actually killed, not just threatened but actually killed, just some aspect of the filibuster, the idea that the Rs would ever allow any kind of D filibuster is preposterous.
So, yes, we might get Ernest on the bench as a consequence of losing the next election. Well then, let’s not lose the next election, shall we. And if that does happen, well, the electorate gets to see what happens when it is stupid enough to let the Rs in, and we win the next election after that. It’s called democracy. I for one am glad to see any sign that we might be getting back to it.
We may not be trying to eliminate the Rs, but we may just be succeeding, by holding the line on negotiating with the hostage takers.
The threat Boehner faces from the right of his caucus has gotten all the attention since this crisis started. But those people really have no place to go but the GOP, at least in terms of controlling the House.
The R moderates, though, could defect to form a coalition with the Ds to reorganize the House. There would be all sort of advantages to them in such a move.
One of the R defectors would almost certainly be the new Speaker. That is how these coalitions usually work, because the defecting bloc demands it as a condition of defecting.
They get to end the shutdown and raise the debt ceiling, thus saving their reputations and thus perhaps their seats in 2014. Presumably the Ds demand, as a condition for forming the coalition and voting for a defecting bloc member as Speaker, that this person be someone who promises to bring a clean CR and ceiling raise to the floor.
They get to either abandon the party that will primary them next year by turning D, or they can choose to retain the R name while in this national unity coalition and run as Rs in 2014. The bloc members can make this choice individually, depending on what move maximizes their chance of re-election in their individual districts.
Abandoning the GOP and turning D will look more and more attractive the more the Teahadists trash the R brand. While the Teahadist wing of the R House caucus is deterred from any break with the party, and even from ousting Boehner in favor of a true Teahadist, out of fear of further hurting the R brand with nasty infighting, once a moderate R nears the tipping point, he or she actually benefits by further trashing the R brand. They plan to run next time as a D, against the Rs. It’s a bonus if they get to kick their ex-party on their way out with a nasty infighting scandal, because they have to run against it in their districts next year.
Even these defecting moderates who plan to keep the R label, will benefit in the future for winning the intraparty struggle, for taming the Teahadist threat. Centrist cred is good with both moderate R and truly independent voters, and being the folks who slew the Teahadist dragon by forming a bipartisan coalition — led by Rs! — will bring tons of centrist cred even with voter still attached to the R label.
If I were Boehner, I would be a lot more worried right now about being knifed by my moderates than by my Teahadists. The danger only grows, and grows more one-sided in its directionality, the longer this crisis goes on.
gtomkins commented on the blog post “Truckers Ride for the Constitution” Oct 11th, Plan to Clog DC, Arrest Congress
I dunno, but it sounds like Brother Earl is a few Billy Bobs shy of a cracker minyan.
gtomkins commented on the blog post Americans Overwhelmingly Think Congress Should Vote on Syria
The poll question wasn’t put properly, and worse, the real question is not being considered in this thread either.
That 79% of the electorate is against the president intervening on the side of nerve-gassed rebels in this conflict — unless he gets Congressional authorization to intervene — represents an enormous opportunity. That 79% is mistaken, Congress has already handed the president a blank check authorization, in the form of the 2001 AUMF, to intervene as he chooses, anywhere, on any side. 79% don’t believe he should have that authority when the particular intervention proposed is a highly sympathetic case. What percent do you think would have said “no” if the question was whether Obama should have the power to intervene to help Assad gas more children without getting Congressional approval? But he already has that power.
The power to wage war without going to Congress, which is what this universal AUMF gives him, should not be left in the hands of even a relatively sane and sober president such as Obama. Leaving it intact for who knows what ignorant white supremacist the other party will nominate for president for the foreseeable future, is just plain nuts. I bet >>50% of the electorate agrees, and we should be able to repeal this thing. But we can’t move in that direction unless we understand the problem, and let this 79%+ of the public know that the president already has this power for all cases that they think should be denied him even for a sympathetic case. They need to know that, which means that we need to know that so we can educate them.
gtomkins commented on the blog post Late Night: This Wouldn’t Be Happening if Our Schools Still Taught Math and Science
Vaccinations, like all medical interventions, have side effects and other risks associated, no doubt about it. But not vaccinating also has its risks. Exposing children’s immune systems to the vaccine form of 30 diseases is not without its risks, but the alternative is to expose them to the 30 disease organisms themselves, without preparing their immune systems.
The standard thinking about what you should do when faced with a choice between mutually exclusive courses of action, is that you weigh the risks and benefits of each, and choose the less risky alternative. Is that thinking incorrect?
If that is the correct way to proceed, to weigh the risks of vaccination against those of not vaccinating children, I have this simple request of all you anti-vaxers. Please cite, along with all the evidence you have for the risks of vaccination, what you imagine the risks of non-vaccination to be. Think of all the children you know personally, and whatever the difference in child mortality vaccination has made, and if you answer is “only” one in twenty, please tell us which one out of twenty of those children you would be willing to sacrifice on the altar of your posturing and pet theories.
Exactly What people seem to remember about Adam Smith is an animus towards govt intervention. He was actually far more agin monopolies and oligopolies. In his day, there wasn’t much difference actually, as the govts of his day did not intervene in markets from any sort of socialist direction, out of any idea of benefiting [...]
gtomkins commented on the blog post British Anti-Gay Christians Preparing to Disobey Jesus
“7 And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”
They ain’t asking for it, but their Father knows that what these God-botherers really need is to be slapped silly.
Single payer would replace the insurer side of the cartel with a single, government run insurer. Yes, that single payer would have that much more market power, woudl have a momopsony, in fact. But the problem hasn’t been the lack of market power on the payer side. In my example, Wellpointe has more market power vis a vis US pharamceuticals than Canada’s single payer. Canada uses that power to get low prices. Wellpointe doesn’t.
Medicare doesn’t use its market power either. It’s actually worse than that. Between Medicare, Medicaid, military medicine, VA medicine and the Indian Helath Service, the US already has a market power giant that could dun all the medical prviders down to charging no more than their costs plus the bare minimum they need to stay in business. The US doesn’t do that. It tolerates big providers charging 2-3 times what a market would dun them down to.
Single payer wouldn’t add that much to the market power that the US govt already has. Most demand for medical services is generated by the over-65 crowd. The US already is the single payer for all of that demand. Add in the under-65s not already under the govt wing under one of the opther programs I mentioned, and you less than double the power the US already has. But power is not the problem. The lack of will to use it is the problem. Why would you think a US with a complete monopsony would use market power it won’t throw around with the near-monopsony it already has?
It’s not that I have any great love for, or faith in, markets; and certainly not markets in medicine. My preferred reform would be a National Health Service. It’s my idea, so I get to be Surgeon General.
But a US NHS seems to be my idea and not many other people’s, so we seem stuck with some or another market solution. Not my favored choice, but if we are going to have markets, we better set them up in ways that allow them to do their market magic. They have to be free. Monopolies and cartels have to be rooted out completely, or your market is obviously not free of gross restraint of trade. Of course such an unfree market will get you prices 2-3 times what they should be, and low quality care to boot from the misallocations that a distorted market produces.
We could have done something much more effective than the ACA at cutting costs and getting more people coverage simply by enforcing anti-trust laws already on the books rigorously within the health care and health care insurance industry. The fact that Wellpointe doesn’t dun Big Pharma down to Canada level pharmaceutical costs should trigger civil action and a criminal investigation of both Wellpointe and Big Pharma that would leave neither intact at the end. I’m not an expert in the field, but I believe that we would need to change some existing law, ERISA et al, because many aspects of this industry are specifically exempted from anti-trust. But we don’t do anti-trust anyway in this country anymore, even with industries that haven’t gotten their legislative employees to write them exemptions, so the first step is to redevelope the will to enforce the rules that are basic to free markets.
Either that, or just give up on free markets. Do markets right, or don’t do them. What we have now is crony capitalism, not capitalism. We don’t know what Adam Smith would have made of socialism. But he could hardly be more against it than he was against the crony capitalism he wrote an entire book to refute.
Except that he gets right up to the edge of the obvious real problem — the cartel — and punts with some doofus non-solution to what the facts he himself cites exclude as the real problem.
I don’t think fixing the prices that providers can charge to some sort of “international norms” would be nearly flexible enough to keep the big providers and insurers from gaming whatever price structure we set up in ways that would further harm quality of care and increase costs.
What we need to do is break up the cartels. When an insurer like Wellpointe has more beneficiaries than the whole Canadian health care system, yet fails to use that market power to bargain at least equally low drug prices out of Big Pharma, there could be many particular mechanisms at work, but they all boil down to a clear lack of free market competition. Just on pharmaceuticals alone, a Wellpoiinte that got Canada prices for its meds ought ot be able to kill the competition, except that the other insurers as well would have dunned down their pharmaceutical costs as well. Bt then we’ld all have Canada prices, wouldn’t we?
The problem is that the big providers and the big insurers, even when they are not overtly the very same corporation, function as cartels. They get away with charging their high prices because there is no free market to discipline them, just another branch of the same cartel colluding with them to cheat the rest of us.
No matter what the administration actually intends to do if the House lets the ceiling be reached and breached, they have to claim that they will absolutely, categorically, let breach cause default. They have to take this public stand because if the Rs are convinced that the administration will do anything to prevent a crash resulting from their letting the ceiling be breached, that takes all pressure off them to raise the ceiling.
Boehner doesn’t want to pressure his crazies to vote a rise in the ceiling. He also doesn’t want to cut his crazies off, and let a clean raise come to a vote in which it passes with universal D support and only minority R support. In fact, even his moderates, fearing being primaried if they vote for a raise, will only vote yes in the barest minimum numbers necessary for it to pass. It would make his life so much easier were Obama to take that cup from his lips by undertaking ahead of time to do anything at all to raise the ceiling. And it would be the gift that would keep on giving to the Rs. They would leave the ceiling in permanent breach in order to campaign on the lawlessness of whatever actually or fictitiously lawless method the president uses to not go ahead with default.
It’s also true that whatever the administration says beforehand it will do in the event of a breach, what it will actually do is ignore the ceiling. Treasury can’t observe the breach because that would force it to prioritize spending, and it hasn’t been delegated the authority to appropriate, which is what you need to decide who the US pays and who it doesn’t. Treasury can only follow instructions from Congress in paying out money. It can’t pay money unless the law tells it to, and it can’t fail to pay money the law says it must. Should it deviate from its instructions, and start making up its own spending priorities, it would instantly be sued 7,000 ways from Sunday. But no party with any standing can sue it for going on borrowing up to the actual debt limit, however much has to be borrowed to meet all legal spending obligations.
It is a matter of controversy whether or not the delegatiion to the Fed is too sketchy to be consitutional. But it is not at all controversial that there was some delegation. The Fed was not set up by presidential decree, it was created by public law.
There has been no delegation, overly sketchy or sufficiently limited, to the president to generate significant revenue by means of the platinum coin. Minting that coin would be monetizing debt by presidential decree.
It’s the “by presidential decree” part of that that ahould give even people who are enthusiastic about the “monetizing the debt” part pause.
The obvious reason to be against the coin is that, however good an idea it may be to monetize the national debt, neither the monetization part nor the debt part of that can happen by presidential decree. Monetizing the debt may be a good idea, but it could only be done, in our system, by public law. Win the next election and turn the House D if you want to monetize the debt.
Nor do you need to monetize the debt to defang the House Rs in their comic opera attempt to threaten default by refusing to raise the debt ceiling. If you don’t believe the House has the right to unilaterally repudiate spending obligations already passed into law when the budget bills were passed — obligations the House itself voted for, or they wouldn’t have become law — then you don’t believe the president has to do anythig beyind simply refusing to have Treasury cooperate in obeying a fake mandate that the House cannot actually mandate. Treasury instead has to follow the actual, legally effective mandate to meet all spending obligations.
What’s outlandish about the coin is not the idea of printing money, we’ve been doing that a good long time, it’s the idea of rule by presidential decree. We can’t have that, either in the form of minitng the coin, or of having Treasury observe the ceiing and spend by presidential decree rather than by the budget bills.
gtomkins commented on the diary post Trillion Dollar Coin: Posts on Legality and Constitutionality by letsgetitdone.
Bluedot12, wigwam, Assume for the sake of argument what I would not at all concede in reality, that you guys are right, and having the president order a 1 trillion dollar platinum coin minted and deposited in the Treasury is as constitutional as church on Sunday. Are you confident that this SCOTUS, with the same [...]
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