Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The First Season of Sequestivus
A Time to Air Grievances

It is the season of Sequestivus

The legend of the origin of Sequestivus*

The great leader Obama, who was dearly loved by (52% of) the people spoke to his minions and said "Hear me! You must fear the great beast Sequester, for if it is loosed upon the land there will pestilence and famine." And the people listened to Obama and wondered.

"Go now!" He pointed "Go to the dark castle on the Hill, where the Congress of Many Heads created the great abomination called Sequestration. Bring your pitchforks and torches! Storm the castle and kill the great beast before it wreaks havoc on the land!" The great leader Obama paused, nodding his head sagely  "And if you accidently kill the Congress of Many Heads that lives in the castle on The Hill, well - you know -  collateral damage... shit happens... I wouldn't get too worried about it."

The people considered what the dear leader said and asked. "WTF? A 2.3% decrease in the rate of spending increases? Are you f*cking kidding me? Do you have any idea what kind of cuts we've had to make over the last four years? And you're saying can't figure out how to cut a lousy 2.3% out of this bloated governments spending increases?"

And the dear leader Obama's heart was heavy when the people did not heed his warning. Not to mention pissed. So it came to pass that the Sequestration monster was released to prey upon 48% of the people. And the great leader Obama again went to the people and said "I declare this to be the Season of Sequestivus,  A time of regret, remorse, and recrimination. Let the Airing of Grievances begin."

And so, as a public service, the Dividist Town Crier herewith offers a selection of public grievances in this the first fortnight of the first season of Sequestivus.

Thursday, March 07, 2013

On Rand Paul, Old-Timey Filibusters, John Brennan and "Libertarian Porn"

Mr. Paul goes to Washington
Someone on my twitter feed described Rand Paul's epic 13 hour filibuster as "libertarian porn".  Not sure if I would go that far, but given we are talking about a CSPAN feed of a man talking at a podium for 13 hours, it was far more engrossing and entertaining than it had any right to be.  I watched much of it live. Really. I actually did. I reluctantly tore myself away at the nine hour mark to keep an evening engagement, and was sorely disappointed to learn it was over when I returned.

Rand Paul was ostensibly using the filibuster to block a vote on John Brennan's nomination to run the CIA, but he made it clear the nomination confirmation was not his primary reason for the filibuster. Rather it was administration evasion on a simple question - Does the President think he legally has unilateral authority to launch a drone strike on an American citizen in America? During the filibuster Rand Paul referenced several articles and read them into record. They encapsulate the issue that prompted the filibuster better than I can:

Conor Friedersdorf: Killing Americans on U.S. Soil: Eric Holder's Evasive, Manipulative Letter
"Any thinking person can see that Holder's letter is non-responsive, evasive, and deliberately manipulative in its sly reassurances, right down to the rhetorically powerful but substantively nonsensical invocation of 9/11. (Being more subtle about it than Rudy Giuliani doesn't make it right.) To credulously accept this sort of response, on an issue as important as this one, is behavior unfit for any citizen of a free country, where safeguarding the rule of law is a civic responsibility.    Rand Paul deserves tremendous credit for eliciting this response. In its wake, he needs help from his colleagues and his countrymen. The time to discuss the appropriate scope of the president's authority is now, not in the aftermath of a catastrophic attack on the nation, as Holder suggests. The fact that he disagrees speaks volumes about Team Obama's reckless shortsightedness."
Kevin Gosztola: Attorney General Eric Holder: US Government Has Authority to Target & Kill US Citizens on US Soil
"Republican Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, who sent three letters to CIA director nominee John Brennan requesting an answer on “whether the president has the power to authorize lethal force, such as a drone strike, against a US citizen on US soil,” finally received an answer from Attorney General Eric Holder. The answer indicates the administration of President Barack Obama does, in fact, believe it has the power to assassinate US citizens on US soil with lethal force.... There may never be a targeted killing of a US citizen on US soil and the question of whether a US citizen could be targeted and killed on US soil may remain a hypothetical question for some time, but the fact that the Obama administration has told a US senator there is a circumstance where the government could target and kill someone, who is a citizen, on US soil without charge or trial is a stark example of the imperial presidency. It is an example of how there is, for the most part, no power to violate civil liberties or human rights the president won’t claim in order to respond to “threats” however it chooses."
As interesting as the filibuster itself, was the reaction from the punditocracy. Rand Paul received positive commentary on the filibuster from across the political spectrum. The most withering criticism came from his fellow Republicans.

Sunday, March 03, 2013

Who Debt? Obama Debt!

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities recently updated their analysis of the underlying causes of our debt and deficit problems. Their key findings are summarized in these two charts.

 As you can see, they arrive at a stunning conclusion. Four years after he left office, the deficit is still all George W. Bush's fault:
"Just two policies dating from the Bush Administration — tax cuts and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — accounted for over $500 billion of the deficit in 2009 and will account for nearly $6 trillion in deficits in 2009 through 2019 (including associated debt-service costs of $1.4 trillion).  By 2019, we estimate that these two policies will account for almost half — over $8 trillion — of the $17 trillion in debt that will be owed under current policies.  (See Figure 2.)" 
In fact, the CBPP project the debt and deficits will continue to be George W. Bush's fault for as far as the chart can see - throughout President Obama's second term, through the next president's first term, to 2019 and beyond. Before we take a look under the covers, it's worth reviewing the history of their thesis.