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February 12, 2018

Coffeehousin'

Coffeehouse

Comes Love (Dobro Version)

Sam H. Stept, lyrics by Lew Brown and Charles Tobias ©1939.

Live at the Coffeehouse dot Com

Permalink


February 11, 2018

Another Look at Senate Filibuster

The US Senate's well known excuse for inaction, the cloture rule ostensibly borne out of the "originalist" filibuster, hasn't served the purpose small government advocates have expected. Nor, it seems, is it as sacrosanct as Constitutionalists have been told.

Analyses as diverse as Brookings and Newsmax agree that the filibuster was enacted as an unintended consequence of Aaron Burr's dubious advice that the Senate abolish the "previous question" rule, which allowed a simple majority to end debate. This was the Senate's originalist intent.

But what of its virtue as a mediating influence, moderating the excesses of partisanship by requiring legislation to be "centrist" enough to earn support from both parties? Well, it didn't prevent passage of the hyper-partisan Affordable Care Act. Yet it does manage, somehow, to help prevent that act's revision or repeal. Despite those contradictory effects, I resisted any change to the 2014 opinion I shared with my blog brother and, tellingly, with Majority Leader McConnell. But last week's passage of a new two-year budget plan has me completely rethinking this. What if the rule supposed to limit the tyranny of the majority only replaces that with the tyranny of a minority? Professor of philosophy Rob Koons in Newsmax:

As a result, 41 Senators can block any bill literally without lifting a finger.

Cui bono? The Majority Leader, that's who. Senator McConnell.

They are able to defend themselves against rebellion from the ranks, because it is mathematically impossible to reach the 60-vote margin without the discipline provided by the Leader and his Whip.

And if that's not bad enough for you, it gets worse. The 60-vote cloture actually encourages bad leglislation rather than prevent it, because a pragmatic alternative to "centrist" legislation is what you might call "co-dependently extremist" legislation.

The 60-vote rule protects all incumbents from accountability to the voters, since they can also claim, plausibly but falsely, that they were unable to deliver the reforms the people want because of the obstruction of the other party. the cloture rule insulates both parties from accountability to the electorate by alleviating both parties of the responsibility for governing.

Senator Rand Paul memorably Tweeted about the consequences of this last week:

When the Democrats are in power, Republicans appear to be the conservative party. But when Republicans are in power it seems there is no conservative party.

A similar refrain we've all heard, many times, is "Republicans and Democrats, what's the difference? They're all the same."

President Trump has described a solution to the problem: "Must elect more Republicans in 2018 Election!" The problem is, TEA Party voters feel betrayed by compromises like this, and because "there's no difference between Democrats and Republicans anymore" we continue to have a narrowly divided Senate ad infinitum.

Personally, I'm prepared to endorse a more realistic solution - one that has also been endorsed by President Trump - the one proposed by Professor Koons: "Trump and Pence must lead a rebellion by back-benchers to overturn the cloture rule." The Democrats should be supportive, as they've long advocated for this change to a "more democratic" Senate. As for keeping Democrats from abusing power should they take the majority? That is the job of the voters, quite frankly. And the fact they haven't had to do it since at least 1975 has played a large part in the massive leftward tilt of the modern Democratic party. Let them be held accountable for their bad ideas at every election, as they were in 2016. The biggest obstacle will come from Leader McConnell himself. Yet another politician who should be more accountable to his voters.

But jk thinks:

I have softened, but not changed my mind. The best argument against remains "Leader Chuck Schumer (TidePodFancier - MY) will pitch it in a New York Minute."

That is compelling. But I remain wary.

My Main Man, John Calvin, nailed it: "It is much more important to kill bad bills than to pass good ones."

So did Michael Barone with: "All procedural arguments are insincere, including this one."

It could be called a bit rich that ThreeSourcers are decrying "the tyranny of the minority." I consider us the vanguard against majoritarianism. The idea is to make it hard to govern: that's being a feature and not a bug.

The larger issue is that spending is on a solid growth path and legislation is required to cut it -- that is where the mistakes were made. To remove what has been an important brake on popular legislation is fraught with peril.

Posted by: jk at February 12, 2018 5:09 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Yes.

Yes.

Yes.

Yes.

And, mostly. Legislation is required to cut mandatory spending, but discretionary spending must be renewed regularly with - legislation. Legislation like what we witnessed last week in the 2-year budget. Legislation that must have an "I'll scratch your back if you scratch mine" component unless there are a solid 60 votes to go one way or the other.

My case is that making that 51 (or 50+1) would make it easier for Republicans to shrink government (if they ever did honestly wish to do so) and make it easier for voters to see the true colors of their own senator. It has the effect of giving more power to the voters. You know, Hoi Polloi.

My personal affinity for the 60-vote rule came from a misimpression that it limited Senators' power. In fact, it gives them more of it as explained in the post.

Posted by: johngalt at February 13, 2018 10:22 AM
But jk thinks:

I hear all my anarchist buddies screaming in my ear that "you can't stop people with parchment." So many of the swell features of the Constitution have been neutered.

I hear much Sturm and Drang about the new budget deal. They certainly all have a point, but it is not about who has 51 or 60 votes -- we have, like, three! And they're divided between the House and Senate (okay, there might be low double digits in the House).

But is it "Republicans abandoning their ideals?" Their voters (in plurality) are not clamoring for cuts, The new GOP ideal is "Trumpism." And he has never ever once said he was going to cut spending.

So I am going easy on the poor Republican legislators this week. Fiscal austerity is not the brand anymore. Like free trade, it does not have a home in either party and would be worse if Democrats took over.

But the people who are shocked haven't been paying much attention #amirite?

Posted by: jk at February 13, 2018 2:43 PM
But johngalt thinks:

No I don't think so. Our media overlords dutifully trumpet Trump's calls to increase spending - on a wall, on defense, on infrastructure (what am I leaving out?) - but just as dutifully omit any mention of growth, cuts and reforms to lower deficits and the debt.

Trump has called for spending cuts. And not just this year. And while your prejudice of the Trump Revolution may be laser focused on immigration (again, think about why that is at the top of your mind) there are other, some would say greater, issues that give enduring life to the "Deplorable" revolution. Instead of thinking of a border wall, when you think of Donald J. Trump, think "Tea Party President of the United States."

Posted by: johngalt at February 14, 2018 10:29 AM

February 7, 2018

"Trump is ruining me"

This must be a spoof. Right?

Middle-aged Ruth Mayer, of Charlotte, North Carolina, and her 16-year old daughter attended the latest "Women's March" in D.C. Both of them are "angry" every day that Trump is President.

My fury has been bottomless. I drink my morning coffee from a cup that says, "I hate to wake up when Donald Trump is President." The constancy of my outrage has been exhausting, yet I have not yet found a way to quell it - nearly each day has brought a new reason to stoke the fire.

But on the way home she had car trouble in her ________ (bonus points if you guess what she drives) and they found themselves parked on the side of the road, helpless.

He did all of this so quickly that I didn't have time to grab the prominent RESIST sticker on the side of my car, which suddenly felt needlessly alienating. As this man lay on the ground under my car with his miracle zip ties, I asked if he thought they would hold for four more hours of driving.

"Just ask any redneck like me what you can do with zip ties - well, zip ties and duct tape. You can solve almost any car problem. You'll get home safe," he said, turning to his teenage son standing nearby. "You can say that again," his son agreed.

The whole interaction lasted 10 minutes, tops. Katherine and I made it home safely.

Our encounter changed the day for me. While I tried to dive back into my liberal podcast, my mind kept being pulled back to the gas station. I couldn't stop thinking about the man who called himself a "redneck" who came to our rescue. I sized him up as a Trump voter, just as he likely drew inferences from my Prius and RESIST sticker. But for a moment, we were just two people and the exchange was kindness (his) and gratitude (mine).

As I drove home, I felt the full extent to which Trump has actually diminished my own desire to be kind. He is keeping me so outraged that I hold ill will toward others on a daily basis. Trump is not just ruining our nation, he is ruining me. By the end of the drive, I felt heartbroken.

One is left to wonder if Mr. Redneck and his son would have done the same for Ms. Hatemonger and her daughter a scant year or two prior, while His Awesomeness was still our President. Which leads one to wonder, if there is really an ideology prone to hatred, isn't it those who "Resist" everything that their opponent seeks to achieve, even when a case can be made that she would personally benefit? Instead, she writes:

I have been angry at my country for electing this man, angry at my neighbors who support him, angry at the wealthy who sacrificed our country and its goodness for tax breaks, angry at the coal miners who believed his promises.

Because there's obviously no such thing as a "good" country that doesn't tax its people beyond their breaking point.

But jk thinks:

Did she just assume his gender?

Posted by: jk at February 8, 2018 3:29 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Good point! But, in fairness, I assumed hers.

Posted by: johngalt at February 9, 2018 4:01 PM

Otequay of the Ayday

With rising crude exports and already booming overseas sales of refined petroleum products such as gasoline, the U.S. net oil imports have plunged to below 3 million barrels a day, the lowest since data available starting 45 years ago, compared with more than 12 million barrels a day in 2006. The U.S. could become a net petroleum exporter by 2029, the EIA said this week.

Bloomberg


February 6, 2018

"Starman" Drives Tesla Roadster to Mars

Say what you will about Elon Musk, this is cool.

(Skip to 29:00 for the launch)

LAUNCH embed:

ORBIT embed:

But jk thinks:

Yessir. He's a Crony, but he's a crony with panaché!

Posted by: jk at February 7, 2018 10:58 AM
But johngalt thinks:

What's with my embed code? Can you fix?

Posted by: johngalt at February 7, 2018 1:41 PM
But jk thinks:

Working for me (on Microsoft Edge).

Posted by: jk at February 7, 2018 1:52 PM
But johngalt thinks:

AAAAAAAhhhh!

Never mind. ;)

Posted by: johngalt at February 7, 2018 3:42 PM

High Fives for Dirigisme

Big deal, the DJIA dropped 1175 yesterday. I'm good; it's a return to standard risk and volatility patterns.

But this. This is worrisome:

GirlScoutLegislators.jpg

High fives! Well, SJWs of the Future, you've just given racist cops a good excuse to pull over and harass a driver of color. You've just ensared a poor person in the leagl system. If she can't pay a ticket, she gets a summons, if she can't get off work to answer, Mom can end up in prison.

But thank God you saved the kids form second-hand smoke.

But johngalt thinks:

"Road to Hell - Next Exit"

As if capriciously enforced speed limit laws weren't already enough of a scourge upon our dear land.

Time to burn my Girl Scout Cookies on YouTube.

Posted by: johngalt at February 6, 2018 3:39 PM
But jk thinks:

AND: No seat belts as a primary infraction, and no doubt the drumbeats for text/cell phone use.

Fourth Amendment, what?

Posted by: jk at February 6, 2018 4:10 PM

February 4, 2018

Review Corner

POINT OF ORDER: Review Corner is eight to ten books behind. The backlog, good procrastinators know, is yet another hurdle. I don't recall its ever happening before, but it is not likely coincidental that "War & Piece" is next. Surely the world waits with bated breath for my take on Mister Tolstoy (He's shockingly Hayekian -- I wonder if that is sufficiently covered...)

But I wanted to flip one to the top of the list. The author is blog-sister dagny's brother. I don't know that we've met in the corporeal world, by my blog-brother-in-law has crafted a rollicking tale and it is new enough that the cleaned-up-for-Amazon review might help.

*************************************************************************************

Breathtaking, Kojiro thought as he watched the Kono horses thundering toward him. Beautiful animals, colorful riders, and naked steel; if they weren't coming to kill me, I would cheer.

A distant but personal connection gets Review Corner to put down the dull economics books and enjoy a little fiction. And I did enjoy The Rose and the Crane by Clint Dohmen. Quite a bit.

The Rose and the Crane clashes the 15th Century cultures on British Seamen, Venetian traders, and Samurai warriors. Those who crave action will enjoy Iliad-level gore in descriptive battle sequences.

Neno did not like to lose crewmen unless it was by his own hand. He was halfway around the world and had lost enough already. Sure, for the most part they were good-for-nothing, whoring drunkards, but then, so was Neno, and only he had the right to remove them from the ranks of the living.

To be clear, this is not some mixed-race "Dinner with Andre" with lengthy conversations about cultural differences. But in the life and death of battle and battle preparations, the differences are explored -- tersely and wittily - as alliances become friendship.
Based on the magnificent horse that the man sat astride and his stag - antler wakidate, Kojiro guessed that man was Lord Kono himself. "At least we do not fight cowards," Kojiro observed aloud to no one in particular.

Simon, standing nearby, heard the comment. "I would prefer to fight cowards."

"Invincibility lies in one's self," Kojiro responded calmly.

"Easy for you to say."

"I did not say it .Sun Tzu said it."


We follow the band from Japan through spice islands, back to Continental Europe for preparation, and ultimately to return to England to participate in the Wars of the Roses. Over time, the reader becomes of the characters, with all their foibles, and becomes quite invested in the outcome. The pacing is very good and the plot never lags.

It's way outside my typical fare, but I enjoyed it immensely.

Aldo sighed and looked out over the canal. "In all seriousness, though, I need more stories, and I have a feeling that a voyage with you will produce some. Besides, when I travel, I trade, and when I trade, I make money, so what is there to lose?"

Indeed. Five stars, without a doubt.

But dagny thinks:

Thanks for the kind review JK. Clint owes you a beer or 3 if you put a review on Amazon too. If you have never met him in person, I will try to arrange it next time he comes to visit. I think you would get along. I also very much enjoyed reading his book.

Also you might like to know that Clint is quite a history scholar and the, "historical," part of his historical fiction is likely all very accurate.

Posted by: dagny at February 5, 2018 12:50 PM
But jk thinks:

I'd look forward to it -- the book is really very good.

I did post a review on Amazon. I don't the biz really well, but I think he needs bad (or meh) reviews. I was the 26th five-star (and people say Review Corner has grade inflation). It looks funny. He needs a couple postmodernist-deconstructionist excoriations for its lack of female warriors and a three because it doesn't have Jar-Jar Binks in it.

Posted by: jk at February 5, 2018 3:48 PM
But johngalt thinks:

How about: "It doesn't live up to its billing at all. Not one mention of botany or ornithology! It should have been called 'The Bloody Merry!'"

Posted by: johngalt at February 6, 2018 3:36 PM
But jk thinks:

That'd work! The 5.0 rating looks contrived.

Posted by: jk at February 6, 2018 4:11 PM

February 2, 2018

Drill, Baby, Drill!

Spiking the football has its place and purpose. President Obama's smug interchange with Governor Romney (the Younger) over Russia's place as strategic threat should run three times a day and more on weekends.

As should -- the WSJ reminds -- "Drill, Baby, Drill!"

Readers of pre-millennial vintage may recall the 2008 presidential campaign when Republicans and especially Sarah Palin picked up the chant "drill, baby, drill" as a response to soaring oil prices. The theme was much derided, not least by Barack Obama, who as late as 2012 called it "a slogan, a gimmick, and a bumper sticker" but "not a strategy." Ten years later, who was right?

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported Thursday that U.S. crude oil production exceeded 10 million barrels a day for the first time since 1970. That's double the five million barrels produced in 2008, thanks to the boom in, well, drilling, baby.


I recall an enjoyable beer night out with many friends of this blog and former-friend Lattesipper looked at me incredulaously when I suggested that oil prices could return to sub $100/bbl.

Me and Governor "Lipstick" was right.

But johngalt thinks:

Huzzah!

There are other benefits too.

Posted by: johngalt at February 2, 2018 11:01 PM
But nanobrewer thinks:

Can't wait to take another fist-pump over this, and hopefully not make the associated verbal swipe too snarky when I ask the gentle question:

Is it that time in the decade for Nat'l Geographic to publish another End of Cheap Oil? edition?

Posted by: nanobrewer at February 4, 2018 12:34 PM
But nanobrewer thinks:

@JG: Yes, the article notes U.S. a New Edge in Energy and Diplomacy... everything Obama did NOT want. Heh.

I still don't like Trump, but GD he gets results.... reminds me of Lincoln's statement about U.S. Grant's drinking "find out what it is he drinks and send a case to every general!"

Diet Coke for the entire GOP Congressional delegation!

Posted by: nanobrewer at February 4, 2018 12:40 PM
But johngalt thinks:

America really doesn't realize just how unimportant it is to have a POTUS you would like to have a beer with.

I love the Lincoln quote about Ulysses S. Grant! Very apropos.

Posted by: johngalt at February 5, 2018 3:37 PM

January 31, 2018

All Aboard the Trump Train!

UPDATE: The Hill looks at the details of this poll.

A CBS News poll conducted in the immediate aftermath of the speech found that 75 percent approve of the speech. Eighty percent said Trump was trying to unite, rather than divide, the country.

(...)

Sixty-five percent of those surveyed said Trump's speech made them feel proud, 35 percent said safer, 21 percent said angry and 14 percent said it made them feel scared.

Safe to say, a large portion of the 14 percent who felt scared are probably Congressional Democrats.
__________

h/t: My biological brother for the graphic


"It's been quite a while since we've had a president like that"

Here's my Quote of the Day nomination, from Investors Business Daily:

So, did President Trump win over Democrats on Tuesday? No. Contrary to the media's desires, he was really speaking to moderates and independents, not Democrats.

But any Americans who were listening with an open heart and open mind no doubt heard much to like, and even more to deeply admire: A president who loves his country, is avidly fixing its problems, and wants the continued help and support of the American people to do so.

Honorable mention, from the same editorial:

In any case a lot of Americans were probably surprised by what they saw and heard after a year of nonstop Trump demonization: A man in full, flawed but street-smart, full of love of country, ready to defend it, full of ideas, and eager to go forward. An American.
But nanobrewer thinks:

The PL peanut gallery was succinct, and brilliant:
I like having an American president again.
"Americans want citizens who speak English, not politicians who speak Spanish"
Trump heralded heroes. Obama always touted victims. Heh.

Posted by: nanobrewer at February 1, 2018 12:55 AM

Great Speech!

I'm nothing if not fair. I think the President hit it out of the park last night.

He took credit for economic successes, but in the context of sharing it with Americans. President Obama was famous for starting every sentence with "I;" Trump's all started with "We." Now, the antecedent of we could be "my administration" but it can also be "America."

Katherine Mangu-Ward of Reason tweeted early in:

That was a prescient joke. Our unconventional president took a diversion and built an entire speech around it. If you'd've told me he was going to do that I would not have tuned it. But, damn, it worked. The "very good welder," the heroic firefighter, the grieving parents, the escaped North Korean holding his crutches aloft all painted a picture of policy that did not have Donald Trump as its focus.

Nobody 'round these parts is more pro-immigrant than me, but the dour, sour, darkly-dressed democrats filled their guest boxes with (and this is the first and last time you'll see me use this phrase) "illegal immigrants." Contrasting them to the cheerful, optimistic, Republicans and their heroic guests would "focus group well" for the GOP.

The CBC sitting grouchily for "the lowest African-American unemployment since it was measured" and Minority Leader Pelosi's 80 minute constipation certainly pleased the base but did not swing the swing voters their way.

Young fresh Rep Kennedy (somebody tweeted "why he doesn't look old enough to have groped his first waitress!") got high marks, but I wasn't feelin' it. Nor, it seems was Mary Katherine Ham:

UPDATE: Embedded the Katherine Mangu-Ward tweet instead of my paraphrase.

But johngalt thinks:

Nice post!

It wasn't "Rope a Dope." It was Tyson rights... over and over and over again, right to the nose of Democrats.

I was called a "leftist" AND a "Marxist" by a FB friend for endorsing POTUS' immigration offer: 1.8M "Dreamers" stay, eligible for citizenship process, in exchange for ending the Visa "lottery" reforming serial ("chain") migration, and BUILDING THE WALL. It probably doesn't matter, however, because I seriously doubt ten Democrats will break ranks to vote for it. POTUS clearly called their bluff.

Posted by: johngalt at January 31, 2018 11:50 AM
But jk thinks:

For the record, I am down with the President's "four pillars" compromise as well.

I'd rather not have a wall, but I'll trade it for the Dreamers. And I realize that further increases to legal immigration that I support will be facilitated if opponents feel that enforcement is real.

What he is trying is to move it from illegal to legal. I'd expand it at the same time, but I did not win an election. It will be interesting to see what the Democrats do. He will have a lot of leverage to say "they won't take 'yes' for an answer."

Hope your friends -- and imagine what they call me! -- can be brought onboard at least as far as silence. The peril for this plan is bi-partisan.

Posted by: jk at January 31, 2018 1:12 PM
But nanobrewer thinks:

I think we're seeing The Art of the Deal scaled up YUUUGE.
Yes, I am oK with this as a starting point... as long as real reform takes place. Don't care about the future just yet.

Posted by: nanobrewer at February 1, 2018 12:59 AM

January 30, 2018

Get Your Geek On!

Good, clean, fun:

Hat-tip: Reason


No go Tancredo

"Hey snowflake, you can come out of your safe space now! Tancredo drops out of CO governor's race.

But jk thinks:

Classy (and difficult) move. If I can be Grinch and not Snowflake, my heart for the Congressman has grown three times this day.

Posted by: jk at January 30, 2018 4:29 PM
But johngalt thinks:

You're no Grinch, and you're not even a snowflake brother. But I couldn't resist the construction. ;)

I think he really believed he could win in the Trump era, but only because he thought Colorado was too much like Wisconsin. Nope. I'm glad he grew a clue.

Posted by: johngalt at January 31, 2018 11:34 AM

January 29, 2018

Denver Post: Budget Hawks!

Write this one down, lads, lassies, and those who identify as other funny Scottish words. The Denver Post is worried about Federal Spending. (It seems to come and go -- in increments which are integral multiples of four years.)

AirForceOneFridge.jpg

And, I'm not, well, alleging bias or anything, but ... The headline is "Air Force One's new refrigerators will cost taxpayers $24 million" and the url, likely based on the original headline is "donald-trump-air-force-one-refrigerators-cost" Kinda makes one go "Hmmm."


January 26, 2018

Otequay of the Ayday

Meanwhile, the Department of Justice has officially warned the House Intelligence Committee not to release its memo. It's like the possible defendant in a criminal trial threatening prosecutors for having the audacity to reveal alleged evidence to the judge and jury.

This is the first time I can recall open government groups and many reporters joining in the argument to keep the information secret. They are strangely uncurious about alleged improprieties with implications of the worst kind: Stasi-like tactics used against Americans. "Don't be irresponsible and reveal sources and methods," they plead.

Liberal Establishment Media Refugee Sharyl Attkisson in today's Hill editorial: As walls close in on FBI, the bureau lashes out at its antagonists

But jk thinks:

"... [F]irst time I can recall open government groups and many reporters joining in the argument to keep the information secret."

With all respect to the brave, ballsy Ms. Attkisson, not certain about that.

Posted by: jk at January 26, 2018 3:03 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Let's just say that Woodward and Bernstein could not be reached for comment.

Posted by: johngalt at January 29, 2018 3:22 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Neither could Daniel Ellsberg.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at January 29, 2018 4:08 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Or Chelsea Manning, who is too busy mounting a "fight" for Maryland's United States Senate seat.

Posted by: johngalt at January 30, 2018 3:28 PM

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