Oklahoma Republican Sen. Tom Coburn will seek to offset federal aid to victims of a massive tornado that blasted through Oklahoma City suburbs on Monday with cuts elsewhere in the budget.> more ... (0 comments)
Want to take a wild guess on how the “supercommittee” is going? (via Steve B.)
The new deficit-reduction plan from a majority of Democrats on the congressional Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (the “supercommittee”) marks a dramatic departure from traditional Democratic positions — and actually stands well to the right of plans by the co-chairs of the bipartisan Bowles-Simpson commission and the Senate’s “Gang of Six,” and even further to the right of the plan by the bipartisan Rivlin-Domenici commission.
The Democratic plan contains substantially smaller revenue increases than those bipartisan proposals while, for example, containing significantly deeper cuts in Medicare and Medicaid than the Bowles-Simpson plan. The Democratic plan features a substantially higher ratio of spending cuts to revenue increases than any of the bipartisan plans.
And of course it was rejected. Benen speculates that the offer was never serious in the first place, that it was purely to try to gain points for trying. I sure hope so–this is greatly inferior from what we’d get from the default option if the supercommittee fails.
I’ve been thinking recently about the trainwreck that has been the past ten months. It’s been of a definite pattern. Democrats have been desperate to strike a deal, any deal, with Republicans on deficits, presumably in order to help neutralize the “big spender” tag. Republicans have been equally desperate not to strike any deal with Democrats in order to show the Tea Party that they’re opposed to a deal on any terms, regardless of what those terms might be. Follow this with a round of Democrats saying, “The line must be drawn here! This far, no farther!” before retreating behind the line. For a party whose morale has been in the toilet for as long as I can remember–possibly since mid-2009–this is such a weird, dispiriting strategy to follow. And yet follow it they do, over and over. At some point, one has to wonder why.
In my opinion, this is partly due to building a political strategy around making a deal with Republicans. This effectively means that you surrender the initiative and put it into the hands of the opposition party to block it, which makes them the protagonist of our little story. This was done evidently with some very starry-eyed notions of what the modern GOP will and will not do. I can sort of understand why Democrats are so desperate to strike some deal (Republican aversion to something like what was just offered continues to be nutty to me), but what’s remarkable is the lack of strategic thinking by the Democrats. Where’s the backup plan? What if nothing is accepted? Democrats get caught flatfooted on this stuff, which shouldn’t happen with questions this basic. So often this year it’s seemed to me as though Democrats from the leadership on down have lost the thread, that there’s little sense of an agenda being advanced or even really proposed. Almost like the party with a hold on the White House and half of Congress is acting the part of an opposition party. Case in point, the idea of making deep cuts to Medicare while simultaneously trying to run against Paul Ryan’s budget plan as defenders of Medicare doesn’t really wash, you have to have political geniuses manning the fort to do something like that, and our party certainly doesn’t have that. Why do this at all? Part of this stems from a pathological inability to make choices. I mean, how important is the deficit issue to Democrats? What do they give up for it, where do they draw the line? What is that line? These are questions that should have been asked and answered last year after the election. And yet, it all still appears to be up in the air. There’s no seeming set of priorities from one month to the next, what is acceptable or not shifts constantly. This isn’t about whether or not this policy orientation is wrong (though I think it is, at least until we have a stable recovery on our hands), it’s about having a policy orientation. Governing parties make choices and pursue objectives. Opposition parties hop around from one issue to the next, hoping to somehow make something happen somewhere, without any sort of leitmotif occurring in there. Admittedly, Republicans managed to make many Democratic priorities politically unpopular (thanks to a big assist from the recession), which complicates that agenda. But sometimes, to quote Martin Sheen from Apocalypse Now, I see no evidence of any method at all.
Thankfully, the White House’s attitude seems to be shifting in a better direction, and now it looks as though they’re trying to advance something resembling an agenda with what levers they have access to (i.e. unilaterally). But that only came after a catastrophic failure called the debt ceiling crisis and seems to cut deeply against the tendencies of much of the party, which continues to very much think that this “opposition strategy while in power” sort of thing is good strategy. They say you have to think like a winner to become a winner. I could think of worse places for Democrats to start.
Christopher Nolan’s brother Jonathan has got an, um, interesting take on Facebook:
You know, your mom used to say to you when you were a kid, “Well, if the whole world did X, would you do that too?” And I always thought that was a little silly, and then the whole world [joined Facebook] and submitted their info. When I was in college, I spent a year with studies focused around Cuba. Raúl Castro, it took him 30 years to put together a security apparatus to answer one critically difficult and important question, which is, “What is a person’s social network?” The state could figure out who you were married to, who you sat next to at work. The exceptionally difficult question for them to answer was, “Who are your friends?” And that piece of knowledge was always a great — and this makes me sound like a tinfoil-hat-wearing revolutionary crackpot, but the truth is, I work in a town where less than 60 years ago, Congress decided we were a bunch of pinkos and dragged people who do what I do for a living in front of a Congressional subcommittee to testify and rat out their friends because of their informal social networks. Because of who they went to a dinner party with once, or who they corresponded with. We live in a moment in history in which our privacy may not be important. And Zuckerberg tells us it shouldn’t be important. But it’s horseshit. One tiny degree of political difference, one slight alteration in the seats down in Congress, or the world teeters towards distress for one reason or another, whether it’s financial or geopolitical — that list of friends that we’ve publicly put out there … If I worked for the fucking CIA, I’d be laughing my ass off.
Well, okay then…
It’s not a virus. At least, according to my current virus definitions. I’m beginning to think it’s a hardware problem–I recently upgraded my laptop’s memory, and that’s really the only change I’ve made to my computer recently. I’ve never had memory problems with any computer I’ve had before, but one has to figure it can happen–anything that’s built can malfunction is all I’m saying.
Though I must admit the “buying a new computer” option is becoming more and more appealing to me with every hour I waste trying to fix it. Yesterday, formatting the drive partition Windows is on failed. How can that fail? It’s literally just deleting everything! And putting in my old hard drive has not exactly proven a panacea, though every single program panicking because it hasn’t been updated in a year has been pretty amusing. Windows alone needed to download 86 different updates!
The album it’s from never ceases to frustrate me, but this song nails it:
Yes, Lou Reed used to be cool. But other than that, it’s sort of bracing to hear the guy dispose of cliche after cliche, a lot of which people who should know better continue to take seriously. It’s really a call for critical thinking, which is something we can always use!
I think my home computer contracted a virus somehow. Every time I start it up I keep getting error messages about random processes being shut down before getting a BSOD. I’m trying to get my important stuff out in safe mode now, and I’ll probably be reinstalling the OS soon. Not sure why this is happening, but it could hamper my blog output to some extent. Just FYI.
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