Saturday, January 5, 2013

What Mattered This Week?

I'll take the easy way out...sure, it matters that they passed the fiscal cliff bill. Plenty of stuff to talk about this week, though, considering that it was New Year's Day week.

The revolt against John Boehner in the Speaker vote? I'm not sure it's a full "didn't matter," but it certainly was overrated.

That's what I have. What about you? What do you think mattered this week?

21 comments:

  1. Payroll taxes reverted to non-holiday rates. Complicit Ds and Rs.

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    1. Definitely this is what mattered to most of us. Especially because lots and lots of employers sent out mass emails and letters to folks drawing their attention to the change. The Dems should try and bring it back and force the Republicans to say no over and over.

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  2. Jeffery A. Jenkins seems to think the revolt against Boehner is something. He makes a very good argument.

    http://themonkeycage.org/blog/2013/01/04/on-the-votes-against-boehner/

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    1. I concur. Fiscal cliff plus the speaker vote indicates that the House is entirely dysfunctional, at least in the form it has existed in since TB Reed.

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    2. This concern is overrated. Think of how many GOP votes Boehner got just one day after a huge tax increase. It's not fashionable to be reasonable Republican in public, but there sure seem to be plenty of closet reasonable Republicans when it really matters. "What really matters" only happens a few times a year.

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  3. Maybe it doesn't matter in any serious sense, but I find the revelations that Dick Armey gave a million dollars of FreedomWorks money in blatant payola to Glenn Beck to be incredibly revealing of how the whole right-wing noise machine is nothing more than a grift. Really, the best use of all those donations from hard-working American patriots was to turn a million dollars - a million dollars! - over to an ostensible ally, so he'd say nice things about your group? I never dreamed that it would turn out that I just wasn't cynical enough about these people.

    When the obituary of the Tea Party gets written, I assume this story will be most prominent.

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    1. Ooh...link please?

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    2. http://www.theatlanticwire.com/politics/2013/01/dick-armey-sticks-his-freedomworks-payback-glenn-beck/60624/

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    3. I never believed that the Tea Party was a "grassroots" movement for a second.

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  4. It matters that the vast majority of prominent news media has chosen to cover the coming debt ceiling cliff as business-as-usual. Not even the media's bias for alarmism and a good (rightfully) panic-inducing headline -- "Good credit of US Government and Economy Held Hostage to Negotiating Gambit" -- makes them budge. Once again fundamental facts are regarded as inherently partisan.

    One would even settle for a clear explanation of what the debt ceiling is and what refusing to raise it would do; it's not even necessary to characterize negotiating over it as irresponsible. But the political and economic news reporters at outlets aren't even really doing that.

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  5. I'd agree with Jarvis that the House seems completely dysfunctional. I really like the way Jonathan Chait has been writing about the looming debt ceiling showdown, particularly how strange it is to do things like refuse to negotiate with Obama or demand trillions of dollars in entitlement cuts and then refuse to lay out what cuts you want. I am sympathetic to people who are critical of the deal Obama made on taxes, but personally I think saying Obama is "a bad negotiator" is the wrong way to think about it. The problem is the GOP is dysfunctional so any agreement is hard and I'd say this fact is the best argument for the "coin option" or some other end run around the debt ceiling out there. That is even if Obama "caved" and agreed to 1.7 trillion in entitlement cuts the GOP might not even realized the won, and we'd default anyway.

    Also the jobs numbers mattered, it looks like the "fiscal cliff" lead up didn't hurt the economy that badly.

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  6. This week NPR reported that, according to early studies, states that have adopted "stand your ground" laws have seen an increase in homicides. The homicide rates are higher when compared to states without "stand your ground" laws, and the rates are higher when compared to the same states before they passed the laws. The number of justifiable homicides has not increased significantly, suggesting that it is not simply an increase in successful instances of self-defense.

    http://www.npr.org/2013/01/02/167984117/-stand-your-ground-linked-to-increase-in-homicide

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    1. The Tampa Bay Times has been doing a lot of great reporting on how "stand your ground" laws have been used by drug dealers and convicted felons to justify killing other drug dealers, and how they are getting away with it: http://www.tampabay.com/news/courts/criminal/drug-dealer-used-stand-your-ground-to-avoid-charges-in-two-killings/1235650

      They've also compiled a big data base of who's been using it in the last six years as well: http://www.tampabay.com/stand-your-ground-law/fatal-cases

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    2. There was a large increase in Florida’s murder rate the year Stand Your Ground went into effect, but the law only went into effect at the end of the year (10/1/2005), so it seems doubtful that it caused the increase. There's a much smaller increase in the next year, although it's also accompanied by a large increase in robberies. The number of murders has since dropped and violent crimes have plummeted:

      http://www.fdle.state.fl.us/Content/FSAC/Menu/Crime-Trends/Violent-Crime.aspx

      Statistics aside, I'm just not sure stand your ground is necessary (at least, the part of the law applying to when deadly force is justified). There was never a legal obligation to try to outrun a man with a knife. Stand your ground actually applies to very few cases of justifiable homicide that weren't already allowable under existing law.

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    3. Couves,the studies in question cover all states, not just Florida. So far there are only two, with a third study under way, and they seem to reinforce each other. I'm sure more will come, and that can only be a good thing as long as they're done seriously.

      I agree with your last point.

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    4. Scott, I don't have the time or inclination to look at all two dozen states. I picked Florida because it's had stand your ground for the longest. It's also been the source of all the anecdotal evidence against the law that I've heard.

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  7. The fact that despite the increased income taxes for individuals making $400,000 a year, billions of dollars worth of tax breaks were given to NASCAR, Hollywood, and Wall Street. I applaud the president's committment to tax reform, but it really does not go far enough to have everyone pitch in to pay for deficit-reduction. Once again, the average American has lost to the highest bidder.

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  8. The incredibly idiotic hockey strike ended. Got me wondering about something no one ever discusses...

    ...the last time the NHL lost half a season ('94/'95), it was at the tail end of a glorious era. The prior half-decade saw the two-time champion Lemieux/Jagr/Coffey/Francis Pens, a Canadian team hoisting the Cup, and the marquee US franchise (Rangers) as champions after a 7-game semifinal that - all apologies to the '75 WS - may be the best 7-game series ever.

    After that strike, the Devils won the Cup with a "neutral zone trap", also known as "clutch-and-grab" or "garage hockey". Eventually, Lemieux would describe it as "like playing hockey in a pool". Indeed, part of the next strike a decade later was to "fix" (sort of) the massive decrease in entertainment that arose after the first strike.

    Baseball also lost a half season in '94, and it too saw a dramatic change thereafter. What changed in baseball was a plus to the chicks that dug the long ball, but I think the steroid era in baseball and the clutch and grab era in hockey share an important common characteristic:

    When management and labor are a partnership, each is interested in what's best for the game. In hockey, players knew in 1970 that slew-footing the great Phil Esposito, breaking his ankles, would be a good way to get him out from in front of the net. Baseball players also probably knew about the artificial upside from steroids. Either fear of consequences or respect for the good of the game may have prevented either group of players from going down that path.

    Then when, from the players' perspective, management is locking you out over a few pennies, costing you a big chunk of one of your precious few opportunities to cash in, you don't care anymore. So the steroids flow freely in baseball, and obstruction blossoms in hockey.

    Prepare yourself for some dreadful NHL, if that's your thing.

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  9. The way in which the fiscal cliff bill was passed suggests that there's little chance of more serious fiscal reforms in the next four years.

    At the state level, lawmakers have been talking a lot more about gun control.

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    1. Oh, and then there’s Chuck Hagel, who’s probably the best nominee that could be reasonably hoped for. He’s at least honest and has integrity -- but given all the controversy, you’d think it was Ron Paul that was getting the nod. It’s another indication of just how narrow the range of acceptable opinion is in Official Washington, at least on national security issues.

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