October 27, 2015

Budget deal? Not a Sesh moment [Updated]

He steps up again to attack yet-another backroom deal between Reid, McConnel, Boehner and .. well, who effing cares?

Once again, a massive deal, crafted in secret, unveiled at the 11th hour, is being rushed through Congress under threat of panic. Once again, we have waited until an artificial deadline to force through that which our voters oppose.
Just what Mulvaney claims the HFC has been railing against for years...
This deal shatters [sequester] commitment by spending $80 billion more than we promised over the next 2 years. The deal also uses a common gimmick where alleged savings in an entitlement program are used to boost unrelated spending in the federal bureaucracy.

[Update: comments are rampant - what I'm trying to ferret out is the widely published "only $80B increase" versus what Bret Stephens noted as "already expected increase of $200B" for 2016. Expected in which scenario? With the sequester's restrictions in place (aka, no deal), were these increases still 'expected' or is that the ugly-sauce that needs to be hidden, and if so, why didn't Sessions do so succinctly? By all the gods ever declared or suspected of being sacred, CLEAR THE SMOKE AND BREAK THE MIRRORS ]

Many quotes and more details from Politico
Majority Whip John Cornyn (squish, TX) "I don’t think you’ll hear anybody popping any champagne corks"

Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.): "We're really tired of the top-down, micromanagement where you have just a few people, or in this case just the speaker and his team, determining the outcome"

Tim Scott (rising star, SC) "It’s just hard to justify that we’re not figuring out how to clamp down on spending"
Paul Ryan (earning new stripes - WI) "I think this process stinks."

Oh, I'm sorry; I forgot to include the good news, that increased funding will be paid for by selling oil from the SPR (while oil is near $40; brilliant! I'll bet we refill when it hits $100), John McCain "can work with it" and the increased spending will be offset by spending reductions in ... wait for it... 2025!

A PowerLine article has more, including the nearly unnecessary closing quote from Sessions:

Based on what I know now, it appears the president got whatever he wanted.

Posted by nanobrewer at 11:16 PM | Comments (11)
But johngalt thinks:

"...with fewer entitlement reforms..."

What entitlement reform is in the current budget deal? My impression is that there aren't any. Is that erroneous?

Posted by: johngalt at October 28, 2015 7:17 PM
But Jk thinks:

"But Republicans did secure modest entitlement reforms. The deal repeals an ObamaCare mandate for businesses to automatically enroll workers in health benefits, regardless of the cost. It also equalizes the Medicare payment rates for hospital and outpatient care to mitigate losses from providers that game the formula to get paid more for the same services.

"Most important, Social Security will get its first upgrade since the 1980s to fix disability insurance. A slack economy and policy expansions under George W. Bush and Mr. Obama have transformed disability from a safety net into a middle-age retirement program and the rolls have exploded. Benefits were scheduled to fall by 20% next year because the program’s “trust fund” is nearly bankrupt."

Posted by: Jk at October 28, 2015 10:25 PM
But nanobrewer thinks:

Can't read the WSJ editorial yet... I do see this part, which bears the mark of realism... distressing realism perhaps, but powerfully aware of the current environment:

perhaps the only thing worse than passing it would be not passing it
which is a problem with today's GOP, who could not find their Gingrich-foil to the Obamanation.

The most distressing thing is runaway spending and the bureaucracy it's creating, IMO.

What I'd like feedback on is the Stephens article:

... federal spending in 2016 was already expected to climb by more than $200 billion... the budget deal to end the caps spending rises by an extra $80 billion over two years plus another $35 billion for the military. So now we are going to see a $300 billion hike in spending in 2016 which is close to an 8 percent spending orgy

What is the deal with federal "budget"? I thought the sequester had stopped all this... and the current deal only allowed $80B (over two years)... what's with the $200B?? I guess even the sequester (BHO's idea, after all) only temporarily suspended all the rampant spending that Reid had pushed through (HOW exactly? I heard the pundits say he never actually passed a budget).

If, as I expect, that even the smart folks in reach of this blog can't explain in a short paragraph, then I declare that, like immigration, this system appears broken (unless you're on K-street)....

Posted by: nanobrewer at October 29, 2015 11:18 AM
But jk thinks:

One paragraph?


Examining the grisly logic underpinning the sequester is a start: Republicans will be so intent on more military spending, they will trade in their opposition to Democrats' social spending. Some smart guys around here might make a good case for enumerated powers and proper role of government. But I b'lieve that's called logrolling, and I believe it dooms specnding cuts in representative democracy without some structural limits (say Colorado's TABOR or he Tenth Amendment...)

Posted by: jk at October 29, 2015 11:48 AM
But johngalt thinks:

What is this "fix" for SSDI? Is it real, or is it another Washington gimmick?

Benefits were scheduled to fall by 20% next year because the program's "trust fund" is nearly bankrupt.

What? So the budget deal will prevent that "austerity" windfall... how, exactly? According to Investor's Business Daily, the capitalist version (as opposed to the corporatist version) of the Wall St. Journal, with smoke and mirrors:

Pension "smoothing" — a Bernie Madoff-type accounting fraud that lets companies delay pension contributions, reducing their tax write-offs and raising their tax payments. Revenues go up in the short term, but fall in the long term because the pension payments eventually have to be made.
Posted by: johngalt at October 29, 2015 11:56 AM
But nanobrewer thinks:

Again, I write poorly while urging others to be concise... physician, heal thyself...
In one paragraph explain how the US Gov't budget is _supposed_ to be done; is it a Congressional act? An appropriation? A Bill? All three?

Heck, I'll put that into my list of columns for when I can get paid by the word.... should be a rainmaker ... explain ("no, eez too much, lemme summarize...") the current imbroglio caused by Harry Reid's cynical manipulation of a tottering colossus that's lead to most of the last decade being run on Continuing Resolutions, which appears to have been gleefully embraced (occasionally leg-humped) by McConnel & Boehner.

more military spending, they will trade in their opposition to Democrats' social spending
Reagan did so; convinced I still be it was the right thing for that time....

Yes, to answer your question: ALL of the "revenue/savings" ideas - save for pumping oil out of the Strat Reserve (while prices are rock-bottom!) - are made of things that would get any citizen thrown in jail.

Posted by: nanobrewer at October 29, 2015 12:29 PM

October 8, 2015

The stumble party bumbles

I don't like calling the GOP the stupid party, especially while Biden, Boxer, DeGette, McDermott and Waters live, bloviate & regulate (alphabetically, not by IQ). Even if we consent to agree the Democrats be labeled the corrupt party, especially with their vaunted leader: Her Royal Corruptness.

Still, this week nearly made me give that up. So, I researched the news on McCarthy's gaffe on Hannity; which upon analysis appears to more a tool for Sturm und Drang agitators like Steinberg and Morris than a complete meltdown that requires the services of a "political strategist and analyst" like Steinberg to find a new speaker (nudge, nudge). Here's what the presumptive Speaker said:

... a conservative speaker, that takes a conservative Congress, that puts a strategy to fight and win. And let me give you one example. Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right? But we put together a Benghazi special committee, a select committee. What are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping. Why? Because she’s un-trustable. But no one would have known any of that had happened, had we not fought and made that happen.

Geraghty for once goes for understatement; "heck of a start." Even Gowdy stayed with "Just wrong, Kevin" while Politico tried to fan the flames with a splashy, "Gowdy Slams McCarthy" headline.

So, handing ammunition to the opposition is still going to be part of the Speaker's schtick... lovely. At least this unforced error took place during a time when the collateral effect was minimal; let's hope he learns and this leads impetus to the HFC's efforts to get a solid conservative [note: McCarthy's Heritage rating is 60%... pretty decent for a pretty-boy] into the leader's position.

That apparently is the thrust of the vote for Duncan Hunter [83%] for Speaker: to show the GOP caucus how many votes HFC commands, in order to build support for their choice for Majority Leader.

Let's hope... I still like McClintock [90%]

Posted by nanobrewer at 1:02 AM | Comments (8)
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Not to fuel the fires of gossip or anything, but McCarthy backed up very quickly after Rep. Jones announced that whoever runs for the speakership needs to be untainted by scandal, which rules out McCarthy. Speculation is that his ongoing relationship with a certain Congresswoman from NC might run afoul of that, and he's concerned that it may get revealed publicly.

I think there are maybe six people in the world who know McCarthy but don't know about his alleged intramural relationship, but apparently he was concerned about one of those six finding out.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at October 8, 2015 2:55 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I think the McCarthy withdrawal is simpler than that, KA. The royal guards told him to step aside when it became clear his gaffe was all of the ammunition the HFC needed to block his ascendency. And Boehner abruptly halted the proceedings until they can line up a new fair-haired boy to foist upon the House rabble.

It may not be a successful strategy, but it was better than their alternative.

Posted by: johngalt at October 8, 2015 4:29 PM
But nanobrewer thinks:

As this was the first I'd heard of it, I went looking and good god, but the rumors are already flying fast, furious and ugly:

Internet address originating from the Department of Homeland Security was tied to entries made on the Wikipedia pages of North Carolina Rep. Renee Ellmers and California Rep. Kevin McCarthy, alleging that the two Republicans were having an affair.

Daily Caller is no Enquirer and this is spooky stuff... which can "come around" if you get my drift. Either way this is ugly: the presumptive speaker was having an extra-marital affair about which "everybody knew" or he was sneaking around a la John Edwards. I suppose the good is that this (and he) is now "out."

Posted by: nanobrewer at October 8, 2015 11:45 PM
But johngalt thinks:

And that he wasn't having an affair with a Democrat.

Posted by: johngalt at October 9, 2015 11:44 AM
But Jk thinks:

Just watched the Hillary! commercial Rep. McCarthy starred in. I wish he would have spent more time fooling around.


Posted by: Jk at October 9, 2015 4:36 PM
But nanobrewer thinks:

Here is a good article about one thing that he powerfully supported, and effectively enacted:

The D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program helped 6,252 low-income District students attend parochial or other private or voucher schools.

When President Obama took office, he wanted to end the voucher program, a bugaboo of the teachers’ unions. However, Boehner was able to get it reauthorized and expanded to $20 million in 2011 as part of a budget deal with the White House.

Posted by: nanobrewer at October 10, 2015 2:43 AM

September 27, 2015

house freedom caucus; a recipe for GOP dysfunction?

Brother JG notes:

The whole thing is moot, is it not, unless Senate Majority Leader McConnell changes the filibuster rule the same way as his predecessor, Senate Majority Leader Reid.

I would agree that the Iran deal would seem the time and place to go with this, but note that so far even Dingy Harry only sought to circumvent filibuster for judicial nominees. Invoking it for legislation would, in many ways, dramatically change the Senate in many ways, likely permanently. This should be daunting to any leader. A more incremental approach is (and has been) proposed along several lines, yet perhaps doomed by this interesting issue.

Tom McClintock announced Wednesday he was resigning from the House Freedom Caucus, saying the group’s hardball tactics had undermined conservative goals rather than advancing them

He provides specific examples in his resignation letter to Jim Jordan. who leads HFC:

House Republicans attempted to pass a three-week stop gap bill so we could avoid a catastrophic shutdown of our security agencies while continuing to bring public opinion to bear to de-fund the ["amnesty"] orders. At the behest of its board, most HFC members combined with House Democrats to defeat this effort, resulting in the full funding of these illegal orders for the fiscal year.

Last week, the House was scheduled to adopt the Resolution of Disapproval of the disastrous Iran nuclear agreement – the only legally binding action available to Congress under the Corker Act. Once again, the House Freedom Caucus leadership threatened to combine with House Democrats to defeat the Resolution, forcing the House leadership to abandon it in favor of a symbolic and legally meaningless vote.

For several months, Harry Reid and Senate Democrats have threatened to shut down the government on October 1st unless Congress unleashes another unsustainable cycle of tax increases and borrowing. Last week, the House Freedom Caucus formally vowed to shut down the government over funding Planned Parenthood.
A common theme through each of these incidents is a willingness – indeed, an eagerness – to strip the House Republican majority of its ability to set the House agenda by combining with House Democrats on procedural motions. As a result, it has thwarted vital conservative policy objectives and unwittingly become Nancy Pelosi’s tactical ally.

So, what has been perceived - certainly by me! - as lack of backbone and/or initiative in the GOP, could be a result of this group blocking many a common sense, procedural-based approach to stopping the Obama train. Why? I would like to know.

Example of common sense approach (from Prof. Steven Hayward):

12 separate appropriation bills for the major government departments, as Congress is supposed to do under the modern budget process. If Congress were doing its job properly, they could threaten to shut down just the Department of Health and Human Services, and/or they could attach Planned Parenthood defunding to all 12 appropriation bills and make Obama issue 12 vetoes ... That would transform the politics of any shutdown radically.

So, we've got Jordan and Mark Meadows [wingnut?, NC]; who are the other eight, and WHAT DO THEY WANT besides defunding PP? I can only guess it's about power. Are they Tea Party-driven or "social issues conservatives"? Still, as Dr. Hayward notes above,

the real failure of GOP leadership in both houses—is that we’re once again looking at passing yet another omnibus continuing resolution

So, HFC could be demanding some sort of idealogical purity, or perhaps just trying to move leadership away from what I've see as a surfeit of what "Beltway Syndrome" aka, we insiders will do as we (incumbents, all) and our lobbyists deem necessary.

I'm puzzled by the backroom deals, and not unhappy to see Boehner leave, but would like to know what's going on: I certainly know that the word "conservative" only meaning when published in the MSM is "them." To me, it means mostly the limited gov't, "Liberty" agenda; is that only me? Certainly Boehner's 1st Lieutenant, Eric Cantor, was defeated (deservedly so, from what I could tell) with Tea Party support as being way too steeped in the ways of Beltway Syndrome.

I'm hoping this is the start of a Gladstonian revolt, and not one leading to a Handmaid's Tale...

Posted by nanobrewer at 1:16 AM | Comments (6)
But nanobrewer thinks:

538 blog has an article on HFC, not answering my questions, but nods at the Gladstone approach, noting

The Freedom Caucus members aren’t homogenous demographically, politically or in their attitude toward Boehner.


Posted by: nanobrewer at September 27, 2015 2:33 AM
But jk thinks:

Very interesting stuff, thanks.

I've been Speaker Boehner and Leader McConnell's biggest defenders here (or anywhere else, as near as I can tell). I am willing to admit somebody else could do better, but I watch too much Jon Caldara and his Rule #1, Republicans will mess everything up, will likely unfold here.

Somebody else could be better but will get somebody better? It's not going to be Justin Amash (HOSS MI) or Trey Gowdy (HOSS SC); they don't have the votes and I doubt they have the temperament. And, while I don't want the Tea Party shut out of power, I'm not sure I want them driving the train either. We might miss our internal gridlock, mark my words.

And I strongly oppose any efforts to damage the filibuster. It's our final remaining protection from Democracy. The knowledge that "our guys" would have it a couple years is not worth discarding republican government.

Posted by: jk at September 27, 2015 11:16 AM
But nanobrewer thinks:

Initially worried by the depiction of the HFC (not by the MSM - they will always be shouting "fight! fight! fight!") but from McClintock's letter.

Still, the we can't work with this dude does make sense now that I pause to remember too, too many stories of Boehner being downright nasty to what seemed to be as basic conservative causes (Hugh Hewitt was also a defender, yet could only come up with "Why?"), and quite vindictive to some of the young bucks. I clearly remember him being ... just ugly when trying to force a vote on immigration reform [comprehensive, of course!]

I've forgotten how many times in the last 12 months, even a centrist GOP like Hugh would say things like 'why hand the opposition this ammunition?'

Here's an example of him being the man that doesn't get it, on Face the Nation.

Our founders didn’t want some parliamentary system where if you won the majority, you got to do whatever you wanted. They wanted this long, slow process. And so change comes slowly. Obviously too slowly for some.

Seems oblivious to it's Obama who's been ushering change in avalanche by executive order, in disregard of the founders system. He apparently believes that it’s members of his caucus who are at odds with the founders’ vision.

Or, he's just saying what he thinks needs to be heard to stay on the cocktail circuit and be in line for the next juicy lobbyist post. Time may tell. Good riddance, and here's hoping anew, that next is better!

Posted by: nanobrewer at September 28, 2015 12:13 AM
But nanobrewer thinks:

The "him" I refer to in the Face The Nation appearance was Boehner, not Hewitt.

Posted by: nanobrewer at September 28, 2015 2:00 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I'm on record as a defender of republicanism, however, the Republican party shows no sign of doing anything to prevent Democrats from eschewing the filibuster again, or for broader purposes.

Hayward's department by department budget idea is a good one. One can only wonder why the previous leadership passed omnibus spending bills for the last 6 years. Hardly the doing of the House Freedom Caucus.

Posted by: johngalt at September 28, 2015 3:14 PM
But nanobrewer thinks:

@JG: Heh, pick your whinge: [then] We need the Senate! [now] We need the presidency! [soon] We need veto-proof majority!

Posted by: nanobrewer at September 28, 2015 5:54 PM

May 19, 2014

My Favorite Color is Chrome

Bred for around ten thousand dollars in a sport dominated by millionaires, California Chrome is favored to become the first Triple Crown winner since 1978 and I, for one, couldn't be more excited by the prospect.

The result of the laughably modest breeding in the sport of kings was California Chrome. Coburn and Martin are average guys in the big-money sport of horseracing.

Coburn is a press operator in a Nevada factory that makes magnetic strips for credit cards and hotel keys.

"He loves people," Coburn said of his colt. "He loves what he does, and that's why he's America's horse. In my opinion, this horse, what he's doing for two guys that work their butts off every day just to put beans and bacon on the table.

"This horse has given everybody else out there the incentive to say, 'You know what? We can do it too.

There are other good stories in this colt's history too, like the little known jockey who has a singular talent to motivate this horse. His first mount, as a youth, was the family donkey, hence the donkey on his back (and the 'donkey rescue' category tag). And when the plucky self-made men began their journey with the blue-collar colt they were called "dumb asses." So they named their enterprise DAP, meaning "Dumb Ass Partners."

And it's not just the circumstances that impress. The horse is a joy to watch. Reuters' Steve Ginsberg called his Preakness effort "a dazzling 1 1/2-length victory over Ride On Curlin" and I agree. With a lead at the final turn two other horses made a run but while I worried Chrome might fade, it was the other two who labored and, fell short.

For a time there was suspense about his appearance in the Belmont Stakes - something about the horse being permitted to wear an equine version of a Breathe Right strip [endorsement deal?] in the race. Some dubbed it Nasalgate but it was resolved quickly today by an announcement of the track steward.

So on Saturday, June 7, ride on Chrome, claim your crown. I'll be watching. And cheering. And streaming down tears, win or lose.

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:40 PM | Comments (3)
But jk thinks:

Thanks for posting! Not following equestrian sports, I knew none of this. Great story.

Posted by: jk at May 19, 2014 6:02 PM
But johngalt thinks:

In case you also didn't get the title reference:


"Her favorite color is chrome..."

Posted by: johngalt at May 20, 2014 3:11 PM
But jk thinks:

Thanks for the cultural training wheels -- they were required.

Great timing as Mister Adkins is sky-high on my list for both his superb performance and classy behavior in the Gregg Allman tribute concert: All My Friends.

Posted by: jk at May 20, 2014 5:29 PM

January 24, 2012

Texas Donkey Rescue in the News

In case some of you did not see Picayune.tv today:

Posted by John Kranz at 7:50 PM | Comments (4)
But johngalt thinks:

dagny, can I have one?

Posted by: johngalt at January 24, 2012 8:16 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Donkey vaulting?? I wanna see that...

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at January 24, 2012 9:09 PM
But dagny thinks:

@jk Hey, What happened to the video???

@jg I don't know dear... Do you think you are responsible enough to take care of pet? Feed it and clean up after it, so your parents don't have to do it?

@br Never seen Donkey Vaulting, but there was a club a while back that had vaulting Mule. :-)

Posted by: dagny at January 26, 2012 12:47 PM
But jk thinks:

@dagny: found another location to embed. Hope this lasts.

Posted by: jk at January 26, 2012 1:57 PM

December 12, 2011

Texas Donkey Rescue in the News

Great article in the Austin Statesman

BERTRAM -- The sores under Burnet's eyes were healing nicely one sunny November afternoon in Bertram. The white donkey stood close by Charles Munro, the man who rescued him one day before Burnet was scheduled to be euthanized.

Munro, a designer for an architectural firm, has just started a nonprofit organization called Texas Donkey Rescue on an acre in Bertram.

Burnet, found wandering on a county road by a Burnet County sheriff's deputy, is one of three donkeys in Munro's small pasture. Munro hopes to rescue several more by persuading people to foster the animals on their land. In the few months since his rescue efforts became public, people have contacted him about 100 donkeys needing help, Munro said.

And, yes, you can still get T-Shirts in time for Christmas!

Posted by John Kranz at 10:55 AM | Comments (3)
But johngalt thinks:

Heh. When I saw "Donkey Rescue" in the title I thought this was another Tim Tebow story.

Posted by: johngalt at December 12, 2011 11:57 AM
But jk thinks:

Heh. No I have not recovered enough to write a football post.

Posted by: jk at December 12, 2011 12:01 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Neither has Marion Barber.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at December 12, 2011 2:24 PM