Wednesday, January 14, 2015

So what is on the Congressional plate?

== Outcomes in Question ==

I frequently demand of our friends who are still loyal Republicans to name any positive, assertive steps that the party of Bush and Cheney will actually attempt to accomplish, now that they control both houses of Congress. 

Nu? Repeal Obamacare? Puh-lease.  The GOP leadership never wanted it repealed, since it is their own… damn… plan -- cloned from Heritage plans, Romney-care, Gingrichcare and the GOP platform.  They just want to yell and pretend, while letting it work.

Seriously, I ask again! Given that every GOP-run Congress since 1996 scored among the laziest and least productive in the nation’s history, what’s on their agenda now?

Deregulation?  Republicans sure do talk and talk about that! So is it strange that, despite many periods when they held every rein of power, they have only ever deregulated one industry? Wall Street/Finance (with results we all know)?

By comparison, dems have deregulated eight. I listed them elsewhere: (e.g. the ICC, CAB, ATT, and the Freaking INTERNET...)

Oh, Republicans like to NIBBLE deregulate.  Never eliminating bureaucracies, but reducing their effectiveness. Now they want to retract their own "No Child Left Behind" (NCLB) and weaken its testing standards, leaving each test to the state. Why? 

Because All the red states (except Utah and somewhat Texas) are doing worse in student testing than predicted, because their schools have been torched. They test far worse than most Blue States and it's getting worse(r) daily. NCLB teststing lays out the embarrassment clear, so they must now abandon their own baby...

== At last, a sincere deregulation by the GOP? ==

Oh, but patience is rewarded! Suddenly, among Republican leaders, there is talk about a great big, bad regulatory target! Actually repealing and eliminating an actual bureaucracy!

  The Export Import Bank...

...which helps US companies to compete with mercantilist exporters like China. Okay but can we afford it when times are tight and when deficits are, er, um... steeply declining?

Okay, then, Mr. Boehner. What's the bottom line here?  How much is the EIB costing us?

Fact check: the EIB regularly pays billions in profits to the U.S. Treasury, having only lost money in one year out of the last 30.  

Please dig that again. The EIB both expands U.S. exports and makes a profit for the taxpayer. But suddenly the USEIB is the devil! How can that be? Why is the EIB the GOP's top target... since they "deregulated" away the Congressional Office of Science and Technology Assessment?

Because the tech companies that the EIB mostly benefits are generally democratic-leaning while the GOP-leaning corporations — in finance and resource (theft) extraction — don’t use the USEIB much.

Give it a read. And yes, I am impressed that the laziest and most corrupt politicians in US history actually have lifted their gaze to want to actually do something!  Something wrongheaded, venial and dumb. But something.

== About that "lazy" accusation ==

Already the House leadership has begun setting expectations, making clear they plan to blame President Obama for the coming two years of Congressional noise and inaction. They know folks have started noticing that...

... recent GOP Congresses have been the laziest in US history, holding the fewest hearings and introducing the fewest bills since 1792. Despite all their anger they have even issued among the lowest numbers of subpoenas!  Without the utterly banal/trivial Benghazi and IRS probes? Almost none at all.

Just to be clear.  For 6 years, under G.W. Bush, the Republican Party (and the Murdoch-Koch-Adelson-Saudi owners) controlled ALL branches of the US government.  They could have done anything on their agenda, anything at all. 

What did they give us? Two trillion dollar wars, a tsunami tax gift for the uber-rich that achieved zero supply-side aims, deregulation of Banking/WallStreet (leading to disaster)… plus Medicare Part D, the only entitlement that passed with zero provision for paying for it.  NAME ONE OTHER major action taken by the GOP during the long stretch when they had total power.

It’s one thing to be crazy, dogmatic servants of oligarchy with a long list of social-political grievances.  It is another thing to yammer your grievances endlessly — while being too lazy to lift a finger about any of them.

== Their one positive-assertive agenda item ==

Any positives? Certainly not the Infrastructure Bill to repair 10,000 decaying bridges and put 100,000 men to work, generating high velocity, demand side economic activity. If that had passed 3 years ago, we'd be all the way into a boom, by now, and the results of the last election... oh, I get it. Pretty clever, guys. Treason. But clever.

Keystone. That's it. The only positive-assertive thing. Keystone! Subsidize petro zillionaires to ship Canadian tar over the most vulnerable and precious agricultural aquifer in the world and stink our air, to they can ship it to China... and what's OUR cut? Zero.

But at least Keystone is positive assertive!  

Now name one other positive assertive item. One. even one.  Just one.

== Anything else? ==

A large number of newly elected Republican Senators intend to vote to eliminate the food stamps program. Is this news item faked?  Well... in fact it comes from one of the many "satire" sites that simply do not understand one of the rules of true satire... do not call "satire" a story that is entirely plausible.  It's just not funny. 

Meanwhile, U.S. healthcare spending grew 3.6 percent in 2013, the slowest rate on record since 1960, federal health officials reported Wednesday.

== Guaranteed NOT to be on the agenda ==

2014 is in the running to be the hottest year globally on record, according to the latest data from the Japan Meteorological Agency.... the previous record years of 1998, 2005 and 2010 will be overtaken by a narrow margin.

The only way to ignore all this is to join the cult of “scientists are sniveling liar/cheater/coward/lemmings — ALL of them! Who scrabble after “grants” that one side does NOT have to list or point to or document.  Because vague is good!  As is belittling the smartest, wisest and most competitive humans our species ever produced.”

== My own top priority ==

Okay so now Ted (Joe McCarthy's clone) Cruz heads the committee overseeing NASA? Ooooog. My own priority it adamant. Mr. Obama stop letting them attach lunacies to must-pass budget extensions. (The GOP Congress has not passed an ACTUAL budget in ages.) Me? I'd veto every single thing till they reinstate the Congressional Office of Science and Technology Assessment. Destroying OTA was the smoking gun that this was no longer Barry Goldwater's GOP.

It is the biggest Know-Nothing movement since the 1840s.

(Join the petition to restore West Virginia's science standards in schools. )

 == Krugman on the Economy ==

Paul Krugman explains How Soaring Inequality May Lead the World Down the Path to Fascism: Whether your reflexes are "left" or "right," you should be disturbed by the picture painted here, and willing to ponder it.  You conservatives, when do you picture the ideal hey-day of capitalism that delivers for everyone? The fifties and sixties?  Certainly our parents in the Greatest Generation delivered one thing - a stunningly rapid rate of middle class growth, a burst of wealth and education that their children then used, to break old habits like racism, sexism etc.  The left is insane to ignore that it was wealth and middle class well-being that fostered those reforms...

...but the right is even crazier, to ignore cause and effect -- that capitalism was at its flattest, healthiest, fairest and most productive under regulatory and tax regimes instituted by the Greatest Generation's favorite person, the man they adored above all others, but whom Fox and its Murdochian-Saudi owners want you to envision as Satan.

          Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

In contrast, for close to thirty years, Republicans have told us..."Tax-break gifts to the rich will make EVERYONE rich and erase government deficits!"  Supply Side Voodoo Economics (SSVE) has been tried over and over, and not ONE prediction ever came true -- and did  I mention not ever?  Scientists know what to make of such a theory... which is why the Right now wages war on science.

You liberals, use this.  Hammer it. Flat-open-fair capitalism is one of the main VICTIMS of the current oligarchic putsch.  Study Adam Smith, who founded liberalism AND libertarianism. And stop listening to your mad leftist allies.  FDR saved us from both insanities, communism and fascism. Focus on him and on Smith, and you can demolish the Fox-oligarch bullshit mountain.



A.F. Rey said...

One hundred percent of newly elected Republican Senators have agreed to vote to eliminate the food stamps program.

Do you still have time to revise your latest essay? PolitiFact reviewed this article from the Daily Leak a few days ago. Turns out the site is one of those fake news, "satire" sites. :(

Laurent Weppe said...

"The GOP leadership never wanted it repealed, since it is their own… damn… plan -- cloned from Heritage plans, Romney-care, Gingrichcare and the GOP platform.  They just want to yell and pretend, while letting it work."

I have an alternative theory:
They never wanted to even touch the ever-increasing health-cost bubble, but candidly admitting so would have been tantamount to clamour "All Hail Corporate Parasitism!", so instead, they devised a pretend plan, which was supposed to never be implemented anywhere by anyyone. Then Romney broke rank with the GOP establishment, but that was okay: Massachusetts is a very liberal state anyway: a healthcare reform being a foregone conclusion here, better accept this as a local oddity implemented when a republican was seating in the governor's office and claim it as a victory for the team.

Berial said...

When I see you talking about refuting the mountain of noise that is the Fox bullshit machine I think of Brandolini's Law:

"The amount of energy needed to refute bullshit is an order of magnitude bigger than to produce it."
- Alberto Brandolini

By the time you've refuted something they've already made up 9 more things!

Anonymous said...

There ya go!

sociotard said...

Vox got no threats for posting Charlie Hebdo cartoons, dozens for covering Islamophobia

Tacitus said...

I somewhat disagree with the assertion that Obamacare is just a Republican plan revamped.

But the question is what to expect from a Republican congress.

Obamacare will be modified, not undone. After all, it was a lame, ham fisted attempt to deal with a genuine problem. It will become what it should have been in the first place, an expansion of Medicaid. That is in effect what it is right now, with something like 80% of the recipients getting subsidies. I had a look at replacing my own exorbitant individual plan with something off the exchanges and was appalled.

I also expect that we will have real budgets passed each year.

And that bills the President does not approve of will be passed and put on his desk to veto, not folded up and put into Harry Reid's vest pocket.

I think that the concern expressed in the main post is entirely valid, any concentration of political power needs to be watched closely. That the discussion is on the behaviour of a political party that I somewhat agree with makes no matter. Time to step up or step aside.


David Brin said...

Berial Brandolini’s law is one reason why I use JUDO in politics. I do not cite scientific experts against theirs. Instead, I show that the sole common thread of ALL their methods is to refuse to negotiate even modest moves toward efficiency that would save consumers billions, even if 99% of scientists turn out to be fools.

No, my judo won’t budge Fox or its nuremberg ralliers. But it does affect the right wing sci fi fans who think of themselves as smart guys. A number of them have rocked back and said: “I never thought of that.”

AF Rey thanks… link fixed.

Anonymous Bush supporter…. you are a raving loony but also LAZY as your co-cultists.

Tacitus: Depends on what you mean by “real.”

“And that bills the President does not approve of will be passed and put on his desk to veto, not folded up and put into Harry Reid's vest pocket.”

Bills? What “bills”? My posting above was a dare for you to show us the positive-assertive-innovative steps to use our government and politics to make things better. I listed a whole bunch of NEGATIVES. Other than the “positively” horrific-corrupt Keystone pipeline, can YOU show me an example?

Jumper said...

I can't nail down this horrible risk the Keystone XL pipeline poses to the aquifer. I think it's a myth. It's less risk than old pipelines. Having said that, I also say they ought to leave the tar in the sandstone.

Tom Crowl said...

From "The House of Morgan: An American Banking Dynasty"

Quoting George Perkins (A partner of J.P. Morgan and scarcely some crazy radical)

“What is the difference,” he proclaimed, “between the U.S. Steel Corporation, as it was organized by Mr. Morgan, and a Department of Steel as it might be organized by the Government?” He drew a parallel Pierpont wouldn’t admit to — that trusts, with their centralized production and distribution, were a form of private socialism. And unlike Pierpont, he saw that they had acquired a public character, and he favored government licensing of interstate companies and extended worker benefits, including profit sharing, social insurance, and old-age pensions. This, he boasted, would be “socialism of the highest, best, and most ideal sort.”

My position: Businesses which become "landscapes" (i.e. where scale and unity is inherently beneficial and brings greater efficiency)... while needing ongoing entrepreneurial creativity which deserves reward... require some share of common-universal ownership whereby benefits (and risks) are more broadly shared.

Neither Party is anywhere close to this kind of view as far as I can see.

Tom Crowl said...

Slight correction... both Parties are ready to hand the risk (and loss) off to the Commons... but not the profit.

It's the neoliberal Ayn Rand thing...

which is the self-serving pseudo-intellectual "philosophy" (lol) which underlies so much of D.C. thinking supported by lobbyists... and has infected both Parties.

Acacia H. said...

I actually have to disagree with you, Tacitus. I think the Republican Party will, when given the chance, completely repeal Obamacare and put up nothing in its place. They will ignore the cries of the public, they will ignore as thousands are dumped from their insurance. They will say "the market will provide" even when it doesn't. Because if they can destroy everything Obama did in office, then and only then will the "Republican" politicians be happy.

They hate Obama worse than they hated Clinton. Thus they have to destroy what he has created and salt the earth so nothing will grow there. And when people lose their insurance and when insurance rates soar, they will say "this is all Obama's fault. He broke the insurance system. We're just trying to fix what he screwed up beyond all repair."

And their base will believe them.

I also am willing to bet that if Republicans regain the White House and keep the House and Senate that you'll see private spaceflight no longer funded. Republicans will slash NASA's budget while expanding on what it has to do (while also stating it cannot look into climate science) and say "we cannot subsidize this any longer - let the private space industry operate under its own risks without our protection." Because again, under Obama SpaceX and other companies have thrived... and they will want to destroy anything that even remotely looks to give Obama credit.

They will not be lazy about this. They will open massive investigations to find everything they can, a witch-hunt that will make what they tried to do to Clinton look like an Easter egg hunt. They want him to be ground into the dirt and lessened. He dared to beat them. Twice. He must be humbled.

And if they burn their own bridges in doing this, the Republican politicians will burn those bridges. But they'll also pass voter "protection" laws that will keep Republicans in power despite their abuses of power.

And when the economy crashes as a result of their tax breaks for the rich and their "screw anything Obama touched" policy? They'll blame the Democrats and Obama, stating the seeds for the recession were planted by Obama.


Mind you, I talk on the national level. State-level Republicans are a less intolerant bunch because they are closer to the people who put them in power. While they'll feed the National Republican Machine, they will also work to alleviate the worse of the NRM's abuses of power (excepting voter registration abuses and eliminating abortion).

Rob H.

Tacitus said...


Your vision is a chilling one. I hope you are wrong. (You hope so too.)
There are provisions of the ACA that are very popular and in fact are worth keeping. You just have to be honest about the costs of measures such as, for instance, keeping kids on Mom and Dad's insurance longer. Scrapping this entirely would be political poison.

David I agree that there will be too damn much political posturing in the next two years. But do you think a demand to show what this Congress can do might wait until they have been in session more than a week or two?

Regards investigations, most are tripe. A few have merit. I continue to smell a nasty odor coming off of the IRS/Tea Party business.

If the GOP screws up at epic level they will be voted out. I'll help to do so. It wouldn't be the first time.


Duncan Cairncross said...

"I continue to smell a nasty odor coming off of the IRS/Tea Party business"

I do as well
IMHO they have been bending over too far backwards

The correct thing for the IRS to do is an analysis of cost/return on auditing different taxpayers based on historical data
And then concentrate the bulk of their resources in those that provide the biggest returns
(Which is what I used to do at work as a quality manager)

I haven't got the actual data but I would be amazed if such an analysis did not say
"Go for the big fish"
"Go for those who publicly say they pay too much tax"

But the IRS continues to concentrate on the little guy because he doesn't have the power to bite back

And continues to back off and NOT go for politically active tax cheats

locumranch said...

The difference between Democrats & Republicans is highly exaggerated. They are oligarchs all, most concerned with self-aggrandisement and the accumulation of personal wealth & power, whose fabricated disagreements are mere distraction.

John Kerry's net worth approaches $750 Million; the two Clintons are worth $200 Million; Nancy Pelosi alone is worth $28.6 Million; and Elizabeth Warren (that scrappy defender of the masses) was worth $14.5 Million in 2011.

Republican and/or Democrat, their tactics & stated belief systems are flip-sides of the same social pacification strategy, designed to (1) offer false hope to the disenfranchised and (2) redirect potentially disruptive populist impulses along well-worn channels in a manner analogous to flood-mitigation.

Both parties practise 'attention management', aka 'the magical art of misdirection'. They pit Red and Blue interests against each other, so that 'a larger motion conceals a smaller motion', in the hopes that the common man will 'pay no attention to the man behind the curtain'.

Neither party is your friend or a friend to the common man. They only serve themselves in the name of the Great & Powerful Oz.


locumranch said...

Note that the Median Net Worth of Congress is about 1.1 Million, that Democrats make up 3/5ths of the richest members, and that the 'poorest' members owe tens of millions of dollars.

Now, imagine what would happen to you & I if we owed $11.6 Million dollars in bad debts ...


David Brin said...

Actually, I quite disagree with Rob H's assessment. Eliminating Obamacare makes them directly responsible for a titanic disaster that even Fox-watchers will be unable to ignore.

They will seek to weaken it by pursuing lawsuits and tweaks to reduce any burden upon Big Businesses and thus forcing the US Govt to pay a larger share of premiums for the newly covered, and thus reduce the thing that hurts them most... the blatant and steep improvement of USG's finances under Obama as the deficit declines.

In any event, the GOP does not want to DO anything at all. Their function is not to tweak improvements or negotiate compromises. It is to demolish politics in the United States of America, as a functioning process. It is a goal they have sought relentlessly and it is their one tremendous accomplishment.

I am sick of excusing the Bushites with the "incompetent idiots" rationalization. They are brilliant strategists and tacticians and it is time for folks to look at what they have wrought and consider: "might their accomplishments have been PRECISELY what they set out to achieve?"

The inability of ANY US pundits, thinkers or even plain citizens to put two and two together stuns and depresses me. No one will consider it, even as a bizarre sci fi hypothesis, meriting disproof.

As for the sick and utterly stupid "democrats are the same" rationalization, it is beyond moronic. OUTCOMES differ tremendously. See:

I will be the first to admit that there are tons of anecdotal and separate instances of corrupt democratic officials. (Though NOT ONE Clintonite official above mid level was convicted or even indicted for malfeasance of office, the first time that ever happened in US history... despite the other side's desperate search - using the FBI -- for smoking guns.) The point is that a majority of dems and liberals WANT the experimental system to function.

They WANT capitalist enterprise to flourish, if only to raise tax revenues so that more goody-goody programs can make a larger fraction of kids ready to be capitalist competitors... as Adam Smith recommended. Duh? Capitalism always does BETTER under dems.

As does the military:

Notice I couched all of that in terms of sane-conservative and sane-libertarian desiderata.

Futilely because "sane-conservative and sane-libertarian" are almost... Tacitus and a few others notwithstanding... oxymorons.

Tom Crowl said...

I have to support Locumranch on this one...

Social class will bias whatever natural 'conservatism' or 'liberalism' an individual holds over time in favor of the interests of their own class.

Even FDR did what he did because he had enough sense to understand that it was the best thing for his own class's preservation.

This doesn't deny his sincerity or concern for the poor... but only that w/o a sense of meaningful "heat-from-the-bottom" (which made him aware of the potential threat) an elite class will not stop it acquisition tendency.

A quote from Frederick Douglas:

"Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress."

It may be that foodstamps and gerrymandering are the only things keeping the peace.

David Brin said...

Tom Crowl you would have a point (though it has little to do with locum's) that many dems are "class enemies" in that they are rich and will not do anything to radically harm their class.

But you entirely miss the point. Which is that half of today's rich people are positive summers, who realize that they owe their wealth and comfort and accomplishments to a positive sum civilization. Hence they are willing to simply be richer than average in a rapidly rising civilization that takes everyone along...

...even if that means their kids will only be somewhat advantaged over the kids of poorer men and women. Indeed, Gate, Buffett etc plan to leave 90% of their wealth to foundations, not their satiably, already very privileged kids.

That satiability and positive sum loyalty to an unprecedented diamond shaped society is something that the INsatiable, classic-feudal oligarchs cannot comprehend. It frightens them.... as it frightens locum, who has never once shown even a neuron's worth of understanding of the positive sum concept. Nor (I reckon) will he, ever.

Their zero-sum (even negative-sum) zeitgeist would far prefer to be a lord, ruling beetles on a dung heap, than a merely sort-of rich citizen of an egalitarian, starTrekOid civilization. RELATIVE wealth is insatiable. Which explains why the Kochs, Adelson and the Saudis cannot ever have "enough."

And it is why the agenda is to destroy politics in the US. Because politics is the method by which FDR and the other satiable-citizen aristocrats worked with sincere alphas and regular citizens to create the flattest-fairest social structure the world has ever seen.

They HAVE TO use Fox etc to get FDR to be portrayed as satan! The favorite human of the Greatest Generation. Because otherwise, we may remember that all we have to do is NEGOTIATE reasonably, tweak a little, and the enlightenment will reach warp drive.

Tim H. said...

As long as despised politicians are the current topic, I would like to point out that the energy conservation policies of James Earl Carter might be worthy of review. Even if he was, in some ways, a preview of Reagan.

Jumper said...

I'm going to claim the original source for this is me. I called it the "mountain of lies" technique.

It's amazing what you can accomplish if you don't care who gets the credit.

Tacitus said...

If you want to track the activities of this, or other Congresses, here is a running summary of bills introduced and their status.

And regards the dark vileness that is Ted Cruz and NASA, here are the man's abhorrent comments:

Why the nerve of suggesting that we need to develop a low earth launch capacity independent of the Russians! The very cheek of saying we need to get back to the hard sciences and to manned exploration.

I suppose he might have just meant that Jesus ascending Heavenward could give us a ride on his coat tails, but it kind of sounded as if he is supportive of NASA....and of his Texas constituents of course.


Jumper said...

I concede to Mike the Mad Biologist, 2009

Tom Crowl said...

Good points David...

I'm no opponent of profit. And also believe there are many very successful people who understand the need and benefits of a 'diamond shaped' economic distribution (but certainly not all of them).

I like entrepreneurs that produce value... Hell, I even love watching "Shark Tank" and am a big fan of Mark Cuban! (I also used to sell Door-to-door back in college)

But that won't forestall excessive wealth concentration, the decline of civic engagement and a public increasingly alienated from its government.

These depend, I believe, on alterations to 'meta-political structures' as much or more than ideological shifts.

(there's a lot of agreement between OWS and TeaPartiers on economic issues though I don't believe either side understand what's needed or the sources of the problem)

The natural tendencies towards concentration (network effects, social proximity effects, etc)...

which have ALWAYS been there in every civilization... have been accentuated by circumstances particular to our times: the rise of the Internet/ICT and the so-called financial 'innovations' which it has allowed.

The Internet and the overall revolution in ICT (Information and Communications Technology) is a wonderful thing but neither the industry nor the political Parties and government have addressed its very fundamental impact on jobs and employment.

In addition to directly eliminating the need for many jobs...
As I've previously written:

"... in many cases, and as a result of the Internet's unique nature, the value is actually produced from a distributed network which extends beyond the boundaries of the entity which focuses that value into marketable form and derives the market's benefits."

And I'd agree with Volker that the only positive financial sector innovation in the last several decades was the ATM.

Moreover the use of job arbitrage which those two factors together made possible... and targeted against members of their own social body... has been undertaken also w/o any attention to its effects.

(and there are at least a few on both sides who long saw this coming... e.g Ross Perot and Ralph Nader for just two)

I think its great that a middle class is growing in other parts of the world... but accomplishing that by cannibalizing our own was not a well thought out plan.

As for the Clinton years... I agree with you that the Democrats are much, much better than the Republicans... (I'm talking about them as Parties... not as being composed of either liberal or conservative individuals)... I just don't think its enough to counteract the trends toward bad policy.

And much of the Clinton benefits were a result of financial innovations which only masked the problem for some period of time.

While its not the only remedy needed I remain convinced that a neutral vehicle which includes a one-click micropayment capability (along with other systems for association and impact) is a fundamental necessity.

In other words a citizens' silo for civic participation. (i.e. an Amazon for advocacy and support in politics, charity and journalism).

P.S. No response from CrowdPac... which is par for the course... and frankly insulting.

LarryHart said...

Laurent Weppe:

I have an alternative theory:
They never wanted to even touch the ever-increasing health-cost bubble, but candidly admitting so would have been tantamount to clamour "All Hail Corporate Parasitism!", so instead, they devised a pretend plan, which was supposed to never be implemented anywhere by anyyone.

That occured to me as well. When President Obama proposed essentially implementing the 1993 GOP plan, their response was to point out all the reasons why it was too cumbersome to ever work correctly.

They knew that even when they proposed the plan themselves. Because it was always meant as rhetoric to oppose the Clintons' plan. You could almost hear them going "Heh--he's actually trying to make that work for real?"

Acacia H. said...

Dr. Brin, I respectfully disagree. Of course it's a moot point as current demographics make it nearly impossible for the current group of Republican politicians to run for President and win. Pretty much their one hope is for Hillary to run and then after she's won the Primary and is a week or so away from the General Election to suddenly drop dead, preferably peacefully in her sleep so there is just sorrow at her passing rather than anger at an assassination which could motivate Democrats to vote out of spite.

That said, IF Republicans won the Presidency and kept the House and Senate, they WOULD destroy Obamacare by repealing it entirely. They can't not do this. They have sworn to do this over and over again. If they don't? Then the Tea Party candidates will in 2018 overthrow many of the Republican candidates out there.

You also underestimate the sheer hatred of the "Republican" politicians for Obama and everything he's touched... and the hatred of their voting base toward Obama due to the vitriol coming from the politicians and Fox News. They are completely screwed over if they don't repeal it entirely.

Rob H.

Anonymous said...

"Anonymous Bush supporter…. you are a raving loony but also LAZY as your co-cultists."

So... one link to a usefully on-topic wikipedia page and 3 friendly words, and you believe you can identify a someone's political affiliation, mental health and level of motivation?

Congratulations! You just took the gold in the blogger olympics "long jump to false conclusions" event.

Alfred Differ said...

Cruz's comments appeal to the old space industry folks and the NASA civil service types. It's good politics.

Be wary, though. We are already on a path to end our dependence on the Russians. He can help screw that up by returning NASA to business as usual. The tightness associated with manned space budgets is driving the business out into the non-contractor business sector. There is potential over there for much more (and cheaper) access to low-orbit space than the old way.

LarryHart said...


Pretty much their one hope is for Hillary to run and then after she's won the Primary and is a week or so away from the General Election to suddenly drop dead, preferably peacefully in her sleep so there is just sorrow at her passing rather than anger at an assassination which could motivate Democrats to vote out of spite.

Everyone knows the preferred method of accidental death for Democratic candidates is the "mysterious plane crash".

Airplanes are to Democrats as plastic bags are to babies.

David Brin said...

Tacitus, if you are bent on defending maniacs like Ted Cruz, by pointing anecdotally to this or that particular segment of his statements that is NOT insane, then fine. Just know that it is no longer an effective tactic. Tell me how pro-science these fellows are, when ONE consistent and carried through and difficult endeavor that promotes science instead of smashing it. Cruz was one of the group, for example, that tried to remove all reference to “Earth” not only from the NASA mission statement but from NOAA’s! And to zero out the carbon and other Earth facing satellite programs. Now you think about that and tell us how that was anything but a declaration of war on all of us. Or how any of the GOP members of the House Science Committee are anything other than troglodytic culture warriors of whom YOU should be ashamed.

Tom C, the Koch-Adelson controlled Americans for Prosperity has as its top priority an end to the Inheritance tax. Now I wonder why that would be! Could, perhaps, Brin’s oligarchic putsch model be valid?

Robert, do not underestimate the ability of the GOP to “not do stuff.” There are their priorities… remove constraints on Wall Street gambling, wage huge and futile “wars” that only benefit Iran and some major oligarchic companies, slice taxes on the rich, elim the inheritance tax so we can have feudalism…

…and then there are the things you say to the shock troops… reduce government, reduce deficits, deregulate, ban abortions, control the border… NOT ONE of which they have ever ever delivered even an iota. I ask you, why would they change. Dig it, the GOP health plan which became Obamacare is LOVED by Insurance Companies! They will not let it be repealed, but will allow it to be tweaked to hurt poor people and increase deficits, like Medicare Part D.

Finally, for an anonymous hit and runner -screecher to chide me about courtesy or leaping to conclusions is hilarious! Indeed, his latest was effecting at changing my mind! Fellah, you are welcome back here, any time. I had a great chuckle.

Tacitus said...


I am having a hard time finding a reference to:

"Cruz was one of the group, for example, that tried to remove all reference to “Earth” not only from the NASA mission statement but from NOAA’s!"

Can you help out there?

Cruz is not a particular favorite of mine, but I do try to actually pay attention to what he is saying and in what context. He certainly has said that NASA resources would be better applied to space and that climate research is not their main mission.


David Brin said...

Tacitus, the Bush admin relentlessly tried to remove "Earth" from all mission statements, with huge support from Congress, when it was in GOP hands. Your own words express this position by Cruz in the very very mildest of tones, but exactly the same direction...

... to which I ask, if we are debating whether human activity is making no difference in the atmosphere... or causing disruptions that could KILL OUR KIDS... don't you think it would be good, an honorable, to find out?

This is fundamental. The denialist cult not only claims "there's not enough science" to justify even negotiating mild, win-win, TWODA efficiency measures...

... but that no science should be funded to actually find out!

THAT is your side, my friend. And no, under those conditions, moon bases are obviously and spectacularly less important than Earth observation.

And these men are staggeringly evil.

Tacitus said...

Uh, David..

Cruz was not in Congress during the Bush administration. He was elected in 2012. He did have what look like mid level jobs in the FTC and the Justice Department.

So beyond general disapproval I am not sure how you are pinning on him the specific charge of removing "Earth" from NASA and NOAA's mission statements.

I respect your passion. But sometimes it gets the better of you and weakens the strength of your discourse.


Acacia H. said...

I agree with Tacitus here. I'm no fan of Cruz. But as the crew at Wikipedia is fond of saying: Citation Required.

Stick with the facts. They are more than enough to damn Republicans. Don't paint all Republicans with a wide brush, however; there are differences with each. If there weren't, we'd not have had the Tea Party rebellion which ended up screwing up Republican efforts more than once.

Rob H.

Paul Shen-Brown said...

On another subject completely, the opening post mentioned the No Child Left Behind Act, and I thought I might say a word or two about that. I served on a panel a couple years ago to guide my school district in adapting to the new Common Core standards that most US states have adopted, and some of what I learned from that experience is pretty interesting.

For one, the reason the new standards are being eagerly adopted by many states is the utter failure of NCLB to get the results they were intended to get. It is not just in Red states where it has failed. College councillors across the nation have been stymied by the extremely poor quality of incoming freshmen for the last decade. They know what the problem is, and so do most teachers. When you place heavy emphasis on tests and threaten severe punishment for failing to score sufficiently on high-stakes tests, teachers and school administrators are forced to shift from good pedagogical practices that lead to deep understanding to shallow, rote memorization of the "drill and kill" variety. This has left much of the younger generation with virtually no critical thinking skills, needed for success in higher education, and at a time when record numbers of people are applying to higher education. One result of this is that 50% of students who enter a 4-year university drop out by the second year.

The new standards were created by a coalition of state governors and departments of education a few years ago precisely because the damaging effects of NCLB were becoming pretty obvious, but it was clear that Congress was going to do nothing about the situation. Right-wing lunatic talk show hosts have been trying to paint the Common Core as a take-over by the Obama Administration, but they are lying outright. One of the ironies of this is that both the NCLB and the Common Core were bipartisan creations. Bush took credit for NCLB, but Ted Kennedy was a co-author of the bill.

This is part of why I have little faith in politicians generally. I have mentioned before the problem of specialization. Politicians are almost universally drawn from business and law. None of them know Jacques Merde about education, child development or brains. All they seem to know is that they made it through school so it can't be all bad (I could write a book about how public schools are so contrary to human nature they inevitably fail a majority of our children). They hire advisors, but the advisors they hire seem to mostly come from ivy league universities who share their highbrow assumptions and agendas, so that is no help.

I know about these issues because I have been embroiled in them professionally for the last 14 years. It is difficult for me to imagine, having seen how terribly wrong they have gone in a field I am familiar with, to expect them to fare better in areas about which I know little. While I agree with Dr. Brin that the right wing is far more blatantly, blitheringly lunatic than the left, I still find little to inspire confidence in any of our leaders. Even those who go into the business with good intentions likely find themselves trapped in a system that is so mired in factionalism and bureaucratic inertia that they either have to jettison the years they dedicated to a political career or become part of the problem. This sounds like what old Tom Jefferson was talking about when he wrote that it is the right of the citizenry to overthrow their government if it stops serving the needs of the people.

David Brin said...

Tacitus, it is nonsense to demand examples when the side in question is so utterly uniform and disciplined in their tight obeisance to a particular party line.

Your effort to somehow imply that one of the MOST party-line anti-science demagogues should NOT be associated with a core plank of an utterly rigid platform and catechism? By formal logic you may be right but it is utter nit picking and part of a delusion that there is some individual complexity on the right.

Yeah... right.

Paul, the huge DIFFERENCE in the US education system has been its aversion to memorized skills and knowledge and the associated testing. The result was that our top-half students mostly ARGUED in class and developed very agile minds... containing very little knowledge. The bottom half were utterly betrayed by such a system, since education never equipped them with EITHER agility or facts.

NCLB specifically addressed that problem. Bottom half students started at least getting some basics drilled into them, as is done to ALL students elsewhere across the planet...

...but this betrayed the upper half US students, who were being asked to memorize, something they hated. And that betrays the core essence of our way -- encouraging rambunctious individualistic creativity. ( Something that BTW the oligarchs don't want, over the long run.)

Acacia H. said...

Dr. Brin, that does not lessen the need for facts to back up your assertions. Without facts, you end up no better than people who believe in magic or homeopathy or conspiracy theories. There are plenty of things wrong with Cruz. So why spread lies? Specify the things Cruz has said. Don't put words in his mouth.

Rob H.

Tacitus said...

Bob Lazeski is the most insightful student of health care reform on the national scene (imho). His USA Today editorial is worth a read:

He excoriates Republicans who want to "repeal and replace", and I think rightly so. He says Obamacare is built "on a Republican chassis" which seems fair and goes on to say that the Democrats have created on same an "over regulated monster" that produces "lousy insurance products".

Various suggestions for repair ranging from smiley face bandaids to major amputations and transplants follow.

A sensible fellow whose thinking is clean and untainted by invective.


Tacitus said...

Paul S-B

I hope we have a chance to carry on a longer discussion on the shortcomings of our current educational system.

I think it is fair to say that the causes are multiple and the solutions applied thus far have been ineffective.

Another day...


Tim H. said...

Was afflicted yesterday evening with Sam Brownback's state of the state address, aka, the plan to be Orthanc to Rick Perry's Mordor. Now my head's done a bad thing to the memory of Rodgers & Hammerstein, "Won't you come and vote for the party, come on down and vote for the party with the fringe on top?".

Tom Crowl said...

RE: "Koch-Adelson controlled Americans for Prosperity has as its top priority an end to the Inheritance tax. Now I wonder why that would be! Could, perhaps, Brin’s oligarchic putsch model be valid?"

I totally agree! But let me address how what I believe a lack of heat from the bottom will overtime skew the debate in favor of oligarchy even if their attempt to eliminate the tax fails:

Its about setting the parameters of the debate.

As it stands now we get "Shall we eliminate the tax as opposed to leaving it the same (or raising or lowering it a bit)?"

And we get a compromise like "Well, we'll just reduce it a little... because that's how bi-partisan compromise works."

Now in my opinion... with this level of wealth concentration an income tax alone will never be able to bring us to a healthy level... and a direct wealth tax is needed (a Helvetian War Light)...

SO the parameters of the debate need to be expanded to "Okay... on one side eliminate it... on the other side... raise it to 100% and tack on a wealth tax before you're even dead!"

And THEN we can start talking about a wise compromise between both of those extreme views.

But w/o significant heat from the bottom you won't get there and the slow evolution of the debate leads us to the same dark end.

We need peaceful but viable heat from the bottom and in a strange way we may NEED the STUPID heat from the bottom as well as the wise to counteract the stupid heat from the top.

And over time then we can hope for a wiser public. Though I admit is may be too late.

New post up... Old topic but I hope with a better 'biz' focus. If I don't know what I"m talking about I hope someone tells me soon what I"m missing.

Scale and the Micropayment: The Missing Lever

locumranch said...

Since Ted Cruz is a 'cum laude' graduate of two of the most prestigious educational institutions in the USA (Princeton & Harvard), then any attack on him is an attack on the most prestigious of US educational institutions, most likely the act of a self-involved ingrate who repudiates the very educational system that has given him suckle (this argument being most representative of our host's 'logic' rather than my own).

For, if it is a given that the current Republican-dominated US Congress is the most 'do-nothing' congress in history, then it also a given the current US Democrat-dominated administration is also one of the most 'do-nothing' administrations in history as evidenced by its failure to (1) close the Guantanamo detention center, (2) withdrawl from Iraq & Afganistan and (3) institute a functional NHS as promised despite an overwhelming electoral mandate at the time of its inception.

It appears that Krugman's dire warnings about rising economic inequality (and fascism) have fallen on ears deafened by a bipartisan commitment to a poorly-functional status quo, one supported by a monied political class at the expense of an increasingly impoverished majority who are still expected to fund the Soft Fascism of the PC variety (aka 'progressive' policies) which has been an insidious fixture in the West for quite a while.

All said, it makes no difference, really, if our forth-coming fascist overlords prefer their jackboots to be pink rather than black. We will all be slaves, as it were, if we passively accept our currently predestined future history, and it appears that we have already done so by choosing the form of our own destroyer.

All Hail Marshmallow Fascism: Make my PINK !!


Alfred Differ said...

There is a good argument to be made that climate observations should not be in NASA's mission. I'm not saying the science shouldn't be done, but I think it belongs with (should be supported by) another agency like NOAA.

NASA is guilty over the years of trying to make themselves relevant to support a budget that can support their staff. All agencies do this after their initial purpose for existence is met or enough time passes. I have no issue with constraining NASA again AND no issue with supporting the science we need done.

I'd rather focus NASA on the far frontier (Luna and outward) and task another agency to purchase what they can in the private sector. If that means moving people around to preserve civil service jobs, I'll tolerate that because the new agencies won't have the history of competing with the private sector on the near frontier that NASA has.

matthew said...

It's a given that the current and recent Congresses were "do-nothings" because of the number of bills passed, committee meetings held, and subpoenas issued.

While I share locums distress at Obama not closing Guantanamo, getting the hell out of the Mideast, or fully funding DHS, I would also like to point out that the current Congress is fully responsible for two of three of those failings. Obama cannot close Guantanamo - there was a law passed to prevent him from bringing the detainees onto American soil. Fully funding the DHS is the responsibility of Congress, not the President. And I might add that nobody is saying that Obama is a do-nothing. In fact to most of our red state citizens, the complaint is he is doing too much.

And just how much funding do you think "pink fascism" costs us? Last time I looked at the Federal Budget, it was dominated by military spending and corporate handouts. Not exactly PC.

A.F. Rey said...

There is a good argument to be made that climate observations should not be in NASA's mission. I'm not saying the science shouldn't be done, but I think it belongs with (should be supported by) another agency like NOAA.

If the climate observation work by NASA was transferred to another agency and fully funded, I would have no problem with that.

But how much you wanna bet that one or both of those will be lacking when the bill comes through? ;)

matthew said...

Here is one for the cognitive dissonance file. Attorney General Eric Holder has moved to limit civil forfeiture by the Feds.

Civil forfeiture is one of the most unjust laws in America. And the Feds aren't playing that game anymore. How long till we hear that Mr. Holder just hates cops?

Alfred Differ said...

AF Rey said...
...But how much you wanna bet that one or both of those will be lacking when the bill comes through? ;)

Yah. I understand that risk. 8)

That doesn't mean I'm supportive of doing it the old way to avoid the risk, though. I'm a liberal who is willing to compromise with the lunatic right if it gets what I want.

The way to sell the compromise is probably to argue that bringing it under one agency will make it easier to cut/control next year. Baby steps and tolerance of a small slash would help get NASA refocused. Later in conference committee, one removes the slash.

Tacitus said...

According to this:

Last year the President, the D controlled Senate and the R controlled house all agreed on the budget for NOAA.

And I understand they are up for a 3.2% funding increase in 2015. As to the budget year by year that is lost in the miasma arising from Foggy Bottom, but I suspect it has been funded with some generosity in recent years.

Yes, I know they have many other functions but as NOAA was mentioned as perhaps a better agency than NASA for climate research I just wanted to throw out what facts I could garner.


David Brin said...

Tacitus you seem to be under the impression there has BEEN a "budget." There has not been one, for years. Sometimes the continuing resolutions get tweaked.

David Brin said...