Saturday, May 25, 2013

What Mattered This Week?

There's a new judge on the DC Circuit, the first one nominated by Barack Obama. That's going to matter. I'll add that the developments over nominations and Senate reform matter more generally, although it's still too early to know how they will turn out.

I'm inclined to think that the McCain/Cruz feud won't turn out to matter much. I certainly don't think it matters whether or not Congress goes to a formal conference committee on the budget.

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

39 comments:

  1. Oklahoma tornado. Japan's stock market crash. Immigration bill is advancing to full Senate. Signs that Obamacare is going to work (in states that have governments willing to try and make the law work).

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  2. Islamic arson riots in Stockholm (now spreading.)

    Is it strange that Lerner plead the 5th?

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    1. I don't think it is strange at all that Lerner plead the 5th. The President has ordered a formal investigation into the matter. Unless the committee is willing to give Lerner immunity from prosecution, she shouldn't testify and is getting sound legal advice.

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    2. Why would Lerner be prosecuted?

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    3. I never said she would be prosecuted. I just mentioned that there will be an investigation. Do you think she's going to be questioned by investigators? Pretty likely. She's just exercising one of her rights that conservatives and tea party types are so fond of. If I were her, I'd take early retirement and move to Costa Rica.

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    4. nanute, you suggested that Lerner isn't talking because she might be prosecuted ("Unless the committee is willing to give Lerner immunity from prosecution, she shouldn't testify..."). I just wanted to know what law you think she may have broken.

      She certainly has every right to keep her mouth shut.

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  3. I really, really hope that the president's speech on ending the war on terrorism will matter.

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    1. Agreed, but I'm skeptical. After all Obama has done for the security state, the speech only makes sense as an effort to deflect blame for the AP scandal.

      If this does amount to something, then it's an indication of how effective liberals can be when they criticize their own President.

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  4. The apparently non-apocalyptic 2014 premiums in California under the ACA: http://money.cnn.com/2013/05/23/news/economy/california-obamacare-premiums/index.html

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  5. Stay with me on this: The kerfuffle over Benghazi Talking Points last week and IRS testimony this week bothered me in that they're making a functional government more difficult. For Benghazi, Republicans were treating routine interagency coordination as some nefarious cabal - but smooth coordination is exactly what agencies should do. It's difficult enough to get them to work together as it is.

    And with Benghazi, and also with the IRS hearings, you see Congressmen grilling these office drones with silly "When-did-you-hear-this-and-when-did-you-tell-whom" questions that are completely pointless. No detailed flowchart of Who-Said-What is going to either (a) help anyone understand what happened or (b) help the offices work better. I'm all for hearings on the IRS scandal, and I don't know what Ms. Lerner is thinking, but jumping down these rabbit holes doesn't get to the bottom of anything.

    All in all, these are bad precedents. We're teaching government agency workers to insulate themselves from "knowing" anything, and not to act unless they can cover their tracks. While these supposed scandals won't affect Obama or Clinton, they could have consequences for how the Executive Branch functions.

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    1. Don't get lost in the weeds. On September 13, leaks from State Department officials indicated that the video protest story was wrong. This is *before* that actually became the administration's official story. Then, after Susan Rice's talk show tour that Sunday, the State Department's second in command in Libya told his superiors that she got the story wrong -- but it was made clear to him that no one was interested in the truth. The official story wasn't corrected for almost a month.

      Obama and Hillary surely knew that the official story was disputed by those closest to the events.

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    2. Negative - you're getting lost in the weeds playing the "Who knew What When" game, and that's exactly what I mean. None of this gets you to what Obama/ or Hillary or the Vice-Deputy-Under-Secretary of Whatever "Surely Knew." And none of this helps State or the CIA or any Executive Branch agency function better. In fact, it incentivizes them to function worse.

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    3. If the information was available to the public, then I think the reasonable supposition is that the President and the Secretary of State also knew about it.

      It's pretty solid evidence that we were lied to. Dismissing what's right in front of our eyes does not incentivize honesty in our leadership.

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  6. Obama's speech mattered and I think it signals a major change in a variety of policies. California's new health care data mattered a bunch. The "scandals" seemed to have lost all their momentum in the press.

    We talk a lot about national and international politics here, but local stuff matters to. I found the Washington Post's recent round up about the huge changes in policy (making it harder to vote, slashing unemployment benefits) conservatives have been ramming through in North Carolina to be interesting. And it certainly matters to folks who live there.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/in-north-carolina-unimpeded-gop-drives-state-hard-to-the-right/2013/05/25/a9c9ccd2-c3c7-11e2-914f-a7aba60512a7_story.html

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  7. In a rational world. 2 bridge collapses within a couple of days of each other should focus attention on problems of our aging infrastructure, amirite?

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    1. Yeah, what did the progs spend the stimulus money on?

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    2. Maybe the bridge wasn't in that bad shape in 2009.

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    3. Fair enough. You probably looked into the percentage of the stimulus that went into aging infrastructure. Maybe it was just a rough four years for steel.

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  8. Speaking of Benghazi, the Washington Post made what I consider a significant error in its explanation of the e-mails. There are several references to "NSS" in the messages, including (a) NSS/DOJ/FBI don't want us making statements about who carried out the attacks and (b) Petraeus saying he doesn't like the talking points but it's NSS's call. The Post says that NSS refers to the National Security Council staff (which some people may view as a form of political interference and others may not), but that would be NSC. NSS is the National Security Section of the Department of Justice, i.e., the people who prosecute terrorism cases. (http://www.justice.gov/usao/dc/divisions/criminal_national_security.html) This reinforces the argument that the reason for cutting the names of specific organizations out of the talking points was to protect the ongoing investigation.

    I e-mailed the two Washington Post reporters who wrote the piece about Petraeus and who repeatedly replaced NSS with National Security Council in their quotes from the e-mails, but of course I never got a response.

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  9. As Swedes bemoan their inability to give Muslim immigrants and their children enough free stuff to keep them from setting fire to Stockholm, two young brits are jailed for tweeting "racist or anti-religious" things in response to the public, daylight beheading of a British soldier. I know that progs can't wait for the day when they can jail Americans for the same. For now they'll just Richwine them for P.C. failures.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2330180/Woolwich-attacks-Man-charged-making-racist-anti-religious-Facebook-comments-British-soldier-s-death.html

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    1. This "prog" (what am I - Puerto Rican/French?) would support jailing Americans who behead British soldiers too. Sometimes I think you cons take this whole American exceptionalism thing just a bit too far.

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    2. From USA Today, about the Sweden riots:
      '"The groups that are involved are some of the most economically deprived groups within society," said Matthew Goodwin, associate professor at the School of Politics and International Relations at the University of Nottingham.

      '"Whether it's the young black males in London who suffer from the highest unemployment rates of all sections of society or the young migrants on the outskirts of Paris who again are blighted by very high levels of unemployment and very low levels of formal education, a perceived sense of injustice marked the disturbances much in the same way that riots in Los Angeles or in London were sparked by police action," Goodwin said.

      'In Tensta, one of the Stockholm suburbs hit by rioting, the common complaint by young men gathered on the street was a lack of employment opportunities and activities for youth, along with police violence and racism, and a general feeling that no one cares.'

      Maybe there's a reason why people riot, that has nothing to do with racist fantasies?

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    3. The problem goes far deeper than free stuff and racism. As long as the Swedish identity is closely tied to being Swedish, it's going to be difficult for immigrants to feel truly accepted.

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    4. Couves,

      Besides giving immigrants and their children free education through university, free housing and expense money, and free medical care, what more do the Swedes need to do? Force these immigrants to adopt Swedish norms? Adapt to the norms of these immigrants from Iraq and Somalia? Jews mostly adapted to Sweden (even if they're now being kicked out of Sweden by the current rioters) so why isn't that expected of the current crop?

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    5. "The groups that are involved are some of the most economically deprived groups within society,"

      This is a joke. These groups are given the same cradle-to-grave guarantees as every other citizen of these countries. What "activities" or fake employment should these countries create so that these immigrant youth don't feel bored and frustrated enough to commit arson, murder, or to riot whenever ANYONE DRAWS A PICTURE OF MOHAMMED?

      These people aren't in America; they have no pressing material wants and completely free education opportunities. Shouldn't they be setting fire to American cities?

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    6. Do progs feel that justice is served when Brits are jailed for saying "racist" or "anti-religious" things like those said in response to the latest splashy public beheading? If so, when are they going to start pressing for the imprisonment of people like Richwine within the U.S.?

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    7. backyard,

      Unlike the US, Sweden is a country in which almost everyone in a position of importance in society has an identical background. To not be Swedish is to not really feel like you belong in Sweden, no matter how nice people are to you. I don't claim to know the solution, I'm just pointing out that the issues are much more difficult when you're talking about a society that's not based on immigration as ours is.

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    8. Couves,

      "To not be Swedish is to not really feel like you belong in Sweden, no matter how nice people are to you."

      Anyone who wants to illegalize drawings of Mohammed, force Swedes to adopt Islam, or set fire to Stockholm doesn't 'belong in Sweden.' This is one of the clearest examples of the contradictions of Progressivism: Swedes have an absurd Prog society dedicated to democracy, secularism, redistribution, and forced egalitarianism, but they can't stop themselves from mass-importing people bent on breaking Sweden because they're terrified of being called 'racist!'

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    9. One of my favorite stories about Swedish redistribution involved a fine for a traffic ticket. The story went that a young man was stopped for excessive speeding in his very expensive car.

      The fine for his behavior was one month's pay. So in their society, the fine should hurt a rich offender just as much as it hurts the poor. The gentleman in this story was said to have to pay several hundred thousand Euros. It was the most expensive speeding ticket of all time.

      Not relevant to the question of the riots. Just relevant to the point of their society.

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    10. 1.1 million dollar ticket:

      http://www.benzinga.com/global/10/08/427235/world-record-1-1-million-speeding-ticket-in-sweden

      This seems more like a way to incentivize sane driving than a way to redistribute money. A $200 ticket would be meaningless to this clown. But the number does sound in line with immoderate Swedish policies.

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    11. Sorry to burst in, perhaps this explains the disagreement between Couves and backyard:

      The US has long pursued a goal of widespread homeownership, most familiar by the tax incentives or perhaps the Fannie/Freddie role in the subprime debacle. There are many reasons for this; one primary one is the social stability from home ownership. A citizen that owns a home is much less likely to burn down the city square in frustration.

      Perhaps a "prog" administration would take this goal to its logical conclusion and buy homes for every disaffected citizen or group in the country. In backyard's frame, this would be a nice thing to do, and any reaction other than gratitude is assholish. That is a decent point.

      However, Couves would also be justified in suspecting that the recipients of the homes would recognize that they were being bought off, and might understandably remain furious, especially if nothing else changed (beyond the free stuff).

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    12. "A citizen that owns a home is much less likely to burn down the city square in frustration."

      This is probably the wrong way to view this. Researchers have found that civic-mindedness, low criminality, etc. correlate with home ownership. It makes more sense to say that people who have these traits make for better debtors, so can get mortgage loans more easily. Giving a house to a crappy citizen probably doesn't change her very much.

      What is it that hyper-conservative Muslim refugees with little interest in assimilation should be furious about? That a few Swedes draw Mohammed? That gays aren't stoned? That women dress like tramps?

      It's nonsense. Sweden has screwed itself by inviting many low IQ cultural antagonists out of some prog guilt. But holding them responsible for these thuggish actions is unconscionable. I find it amazing that so many commentors can't assign blame to a minority group even when the afflicted majority is the Swedes.

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    14. CSH, thanks for laying that out. I think there are explanations for why some societies fail to integrate immigrants other than cultural incompatibility (the US is pretty good at integrating all kinds of immigrants).

      backyard, it doesn't make any more sense to "assign blame to a minority group" than it does to blame the white non-progressive majority (as I've heard you say). Groups don't commit crimes, individuals do.

      Now, while I don't agree with your characterization of things, I also think you have a point about progressives' extreme cultural/moral relativism being a problem at times.

      It's also worth mentioning that progressives in Europe really are different than progressives over here. Chomsky, for example, has pointed out that Europeans really have no clue about the freedom of speech.

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    15. "backyard, it doesn't make any more sense to "assign blame to a minority group" than it does to blame the white non-progressive majority (as I've heard you say). Groups don't commit crimes, individuals do."

      I've read dozens of comments and articles blaming Swedes for failing to appease Muslim immigrants. Progs are collectively throwing the proggiest people on Earth under the bus based on the most implausible complaints. Everyone knows that not all M.I.s are responsible for the worst offenses, but everyone can also see that importing a lot has harmed Sweden, England, France, etc.

      Chomsky understates the U.S. prog affection for unfree speech. We aren't yet jailing people like Emma West, but we've made it a court-worthy offense to say unkind things about a broad range of protected classes in several contexts, limiting speech markedly. And this is eclipsed by the Richwine effect. US Progs have made if almost impossible to talk about race or ethnicity without losing a job. Actually ... progs generally allow race talk if it's derogatory and about non-Jewish whites.

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    16. In further semi-defense of disaffected Muslim Swedes, we should also question why a not-particularly-diverse country like Sweden allows in a large wave of not-culturally-near immigrants such as the Muslims under discussion (The Muslims being, among other things, a poorer cultural fit with non-diverse northern Europeans than Jews, for example).

      The (perhaps obvious) answer is that non-diverse, low-birth-rate countries don't age particularly well. (see also: Japan). The stress this dynamic creates is only alleviated by the introduction of a large labor pool to provide resources to pay for the burgeoning elderly population.

      That's why all those Muslims are in Sweden. Problem is, too many aren't employed and they are too much a drain on the nation's resources - the plan isn't working particularly well. Perhaps the Muslims who immigrated were fooled into thinking that the Swedes wanted to turn over part of their nation to a new caliphate; that was stupid, but who isn't arrogant?

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    17. It's also possible, gentlemen, that the Muslim immigrants really had no idea exactly how equal women are in Swedish society. Traditional Nordic culture grants women far more autonomy than probably any other. It's got to be an amazing culture shock for the Muslim fathers and uncles, who are accustomed to the latitude of murdering teenage girls as they please.

      And if murder is allowed, basically, all other forms of physical discipline up to murder are allowed as well.

      If you consider this, then it might make more sense that immigrant groups are loath to send their children to Swedish schools, and have difficulties assimilating.

      Swedes have created a powerfully equal society, and they cannot allow anyone to be above that law.

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  10. does anyone here refer to themselves or their ideological cohort as progs?

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    1. I don't think so. It's only the anti-progs that use the term pejoratively. Amirite?

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