My very best wishes to all blogfriends for a peaceful and prosperous 2013.
I found this last year and am thrilled to post it again. A haunting voice that becomes very determined – sort of an audio metaphor, mourning the tragedies behind us and promising to create a better future. Or try.
Happy New Year.
Here’s a year end roundup (aka The Wonky Awards) from Ezra Klein’s Wonkblog at The Washington Post. While wonky indeed, he’s presented it all in such a way that even we economically illiterate get the drift. It’s a terrific piece of work and challenges much of the conventional narrative, but don’t expect any corrections in the media script – plain facts aren’t sexy.
This one strikes me as the most revealing example of media failure – every time a politician or partisan warns we’re going to become Greece!!!, the punditocracy ought to use this information to inform any discussion.
As we endlessly debated deficits and debts this year, every so often it was worth surfing over to the neglected corner of the Treasury.Gov Web site where they track the inflation-adjusted yield on government debt. Those quick jaunts were always a good reminder that everyone in politics was completely insane.
The thing you worry about when you have high deficits is that the market will lose its confidence in your ability to repay your debts. The place you’d see the market losing its confidence is in high interest rates on government debt — that would be a signal that the market is pricing in some risk of default. But all this year, the real yield on three- , five- , seven- and, occasionally, even 20-year government debt has been negative. Negative! The world is so dangerous that the market will literally pay us to keep their money safe.
If any corporation could borrow for less than nothing, they’d see that as the opportunity of a lifetime. We can borrow for less than nothing at a moment when our infrastructure is crumbling and millions are out of work. But instead of taking advantage of this amazing opportunity, we’re actually cutting our support to the economy and arguing exclusively about how to reduce our deficits. It’s embarrassing.
That provocative headline got me – and no doubt millions of others – to read this op-ed in The New York Times (caution: possible paywall). Its author first notes how unproductive the offers and counter-offers on avoiding the fiscal cliff have been. He says the arcane limitations under which Congress must proceed – as dictated by the Constitution – are one barrier to producing any sensible legislation to send to the President. He blames in part our blind adherence to Constitutional prerogatives.
Instead of arguing about what is to be done, we argue about what James Madison might have wanted done 225 years ago.
He reminds us of one of my own favorite facts of American history, one that is routinely ignored:
Constitutional disobedience may seem radical, but it is as old as the Republic. In fact, the Constitution itself was born of constitutional disobedience. When George Washington and the other framers went to Philadelphia in 1787, they were instructed to suggest amendments to the Articles of Confederation, which would have had to be ratified by the legislatures of all 13 states. Instead, in violation of their mandate, they abandoned the Articles, wrote a new Constitution and provided that it would take effect after ratification by only nine states, and by conventions in those states rather than the state legislatures.
It was because of these subversive proceeding that the gathering in Philadelphia famously kept all windows closed during their deliberations. They worked in a steam bath rather than chance being overheard by those who lurked outside Independence Hall. They knew their behavior would be widely seen as subversive.
. . . before abandoning our heritage of self-government, we ought to try extricating ourselves from constitutional bondage so that we can give real freedom a chance.
Moving from one year onto the next – as we will do at midnight – should remind us all that the arc of history always favors leaving the past behind and stepping into the future.
Originalism be damned.
Posted in broken government, Civics, economy, History, Politics
Tagged Articles of Confederation, broken governmet, Constitutional originalism, economy, James Madison, Politics, United States Constitution
At ToolServer (some sort of Wikipedia offshoot), there’s a nifty compilation of 2012’s top Wikipedia searches by language. This one particularly caught my eye (and yes, I checked, that “G” is indeed a search for the letter G. Almost four million times, Germans went to Wikipedia for information on the letter G). Go here for more list fun.
If only someone in that Police Station had had a gun, they could have stopped the bad guy. I say it’s time to arm our police. Here.
Been busy and unbloggy and engaging in some celebratory activities so it’s likely blogging remains lite until the last cookie is consumed.
But it is Friday, so here:
Every year, I post this – everything about it touches me.
An earlier post here made note of Festivus. Well, surprise – to a few readers that was a mystery. Festivus?? they asked. This explains all. (h/t friend Ed for the video)
I was quite distressed last year over a tree that turned out to be the wrong size. I was so unhappy I accorded far too much importance to that. I’m now a bit embarrassed by my public angst.
But this year? A fine tree. Right size, right shape and so fresh that even a week after bringing it into the house there are no needles on the floor. Good, good and good.
Want to see it? No matter, you’re going to see it. History must be served. Here’s the tree buck nekkid and then almost fully dressed.
It’s here at last.
An unfortunate outcome. Will the neighbors take him aside for a little talk?
Wayne LaPierre, that angry-man-with-a-gun (I hope he’s been background checked) is sure that an armed guard at school is just the thing to keep our babies safe safe safe.
Ahem. Columbine had an armed security guard. He exchanged gunfire with the killers. When Sheriff’s deputies arrived, more gunfire was exchanged – and the killing continued. Eventually a SWAT team arrived – and the killing continued.
The six deputies were on the scene within five minutes, the SWAT team within seven minutes. On many high school campuses, it could take a security guard minutes, not seconds, to reach (to locate?) a problem area.
The excruciating details of the Columbine response are here.
Leave aside for a moment the arguments for or against weapon restrictions – at this moment the NRA is holding its much awaited press conference.
And now we know whose fault it is. The media done it.
He also added:
“The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”
I hope he’s embarrassing the hell out of the NRA membership. In fact, I think he may be.
More: the press and Washington are consumed with ‘hatred’ for gun freedoms?
More: Obama’s fault too cuz he didn’t support a school policing policy. And of course, that’s what we need. He wants Congress to “put armed police officers in every single school in this nation”. (and who pays for that Wayne?)
Oh dear, he calls on us to “erect a cordon of protection around our kids”. (what – a new Secret Service?) Oh wow, he wants student and teacher training. Okay, this is where the promised NRA ‘meaningful contribution’ comes in – they’re going to organize this thing. And they’ll make it available to ‘the world’. That’s their ‘plan of action’. And Asa Hutchinson will head it!
Is he kidding?
I can’t wait for the questions – this is, after all, a press conference. And he just called his audience murderers. UPDATE: They took no questions. None.
This whole thing has been utterly bizarre.
Let these be a gentle reminder in case we’re to meet Elvis tonight as the clock counts down to the Apocalypse.
But should we survive and awake to a morning, then let these be our Friday oldies.
POSTED BY ORHAN
The outpouring of grief over the Sandy Hook shootings continues. That one nation, if not the whole world, can express such pain and grief over the murders of these twenty children speaks to us of our innate human capacity for empathy and compassion.
Some pointed out the obvious almost as soon as it happened, but it didn’t seem right. After all, the horror of one act of brutality does not detract from the horror of another. To mourn the dreadful loss of one group of people takes nothing away from the suffering of another.
And yet the frenzy of national soul-searching continues unabated. So, amid the endless replays of interviews with sobbing parents, the minute cross-examination of media-sick residents, the near-nationwide outrage and demands that Something Must Be Done, can we pause to remember that hundreds of children have been murdered by US drones in Afghanistan and Pakistan?
And can we demand that here, too, Something Must Be Done?
From Crooked Timber: Eric Loomis, a blogger at Lawyers, Guns and Money is in the crosshairs – he has landed on an intertubes hit list, where Glenn Reynolds, the genuinely frightening Michelle Malkin, Town Hall, The Daily Caller and only Elvis knows who else have not only climbed aboard the tired outrage train, but are actually charging him with ‘eliminationist’ rhetoric. First, here’s what he said on Twitter:
“I was heartbroken in the first 20 mass murders. Now I want Wayne LaPierre’s head on a stick.”
Pretty threatening, eh? But metaphors be damned, these folk know a genuine threat of violence when they see one.
Back to Crooked Timber:
[the first shot came from] right-wing blogger Glenn Reynolds [who] earlier voiced his anger over the State Department’s lax provision of security in Benghazi by demanding, “Can we see some heads roll?” . . . other conservative voices have joined in. The Daily Caller says Loomis “. . . tweets demanding death for National Rifle Association executive Wayne LaPierre.” . . . And just this morning, Michelle Malkin wrote at National Review Online: “So, it’s come to this: Advocating beheadings, beatings . . . Blood-lusting hate speech must not get a pass . . .”
By the way:
Loomis has already been questioned by the Rhode Island State Police, who told him that someone had informed the FBI that Loomis had threatened LaPierre’s life. . . .
Give it a rest girls.
An encore from last year (and h/t again to friend Jane) to kick things off with ‘teh cute’. Commence the festivities with a giggle and an ‘awwwww’.
In a comment thread below, reader Jim Wheeler – a thoughtful and sassy man with whom I share certain generational allegiances – offers some new bumper stickers for 2012. Roll the presses . . .
“Guns don’t kill people, they make it easier to kill a lot more people.”
“I can’t fathom that I live in a society that considers gun ownership to be a right, but health care to be a privilege.”
Got any more?
UPDATE: Engle and his team were indeed captured and held for five days. They were released this morning. Their captors were apparently Assad loyalists.
My previous post urged one Mr. Mike Huckabee to go and, as is said, ‘fuck himself’.
I did briefly wonder if I had taken my headline a step too far. I hadn’t. Approximately 68% of commentary on Friday’s shootings and 100% of commentary on Huckabee’s comments in particular now includes the word fuck.
So – not too far. Whew.
Former Arkansas governor and GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee attributed today’s deadly massacre in an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut to the lack of God and religion in public schools.
Addressing the tragedy on Fox News, Huckabee dismissed calls for stricter gun control and claimed that future violence can be prevented by solving matters of “the heart” and turning to God.
Here. Fuck him. And the God and Guns he clings to.
It’s a little known fact that the Office of the Speaker issues a memo every Monday morning assigning specific tie colors – by day, by staffer – so that there is no duplication of the under-the-chin-pastels. It’s working quite well.
While quite conservative, he was a good Senator, a thoughtful man. So if he ends up at Defense, that looks good to me. (I think he was also a fierce critic of W’s Iraq Adventure.) Will his former GOP colleagues confirm him?
Story is from Bloomberg. Notice the other headline too. So John Kerry gets State. I’m down with that as well.
Posted in Government, Iraq War, military, Politics, war
Tagged cabinet officers, Chuck Hagel, government, John Kerry, Obama, Obama administration, Politics
POSTED BY ORHAN
On Wednesday Senate Democrats confirmed Elizabeth Warren’s seat on the Senate Banking Committee. Considering Wall Street’s crucial role in President Obama’s failure to appoint her to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and the humongous wads of cash the Street spent attempting to derail her Senate run, it will be interesting to see if Warren, named “Wall Street’s worst nightmare” by Forbes, will be able to effectively usher in the regulation the big banks so desperately need–and fear.
Stiff resistance by Republicans on the Committee is a given, but I’ll be most interested to see how Wall Street-beholden Democrats respond to her efforts. In any event, there is some irony in the fact that Warren will now be regulating the institutions that fought so hard and long to bring her down.
I thought we passed this law 40 years ago, but hey, I’ll take it.
. . . beginning at midnight tonight, new Federal Communications Commission rules will bar television networks from blasting viewers with those excessively loud, screamy commercial breaks. . .
Adopted a year ago Thursday, the rules “will require commercials to have the same average volume as the programs they accompany,” the FCC says. The commission was prompted to action last year when Congress passed the “Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation Act“—the CALM Act.
But equivalency is essential – we must report both ‘sides’ say our media stars!!! From here: