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Showing posts from June, 2009

Meet Youssef Megahed and the police state in America

Youssef Megahed was acquitted by a jury on charges of illegal possession and transport of explosives : Megahed came to the United States from Egypt in 1998 as a legal immigrant when he was 12. His problems started two years ago when, as an engineering student at the University of South Florida, he went on a road trip with a new friend, Ahmed Mohamed. The men were pulled over on a highway, near Charleston, South Carolina, for speeding. Police say they searched their vehicle and found PVC pipe with potassium nitrate inside, along with detonator cord inside one of Mohamed's bags. The government said the materials were "low explosives." Mohamed said they were materials for homemade model rockets. Youssef Megahed claimed he did not know that the materials were in the car. A search of Mohamed's laptop computer found research concerning rockets and propellants and how to manufacture them, as well as information about Qassam rockets -- crude rockets used by terrorists i

Because the government can tell two women and their children that they are not a family ...

... is why it is not always a good idea to rely completely on the State to safeguard your civil liberties. From Classically Liberal : Lava Hot Springs Park [Idaho] is a government-owned “recreation” center that announced a family discount. It then told a lesbian couple and their children that they don’t count as a real family and won’t get the discount. The park used state marriage laws as the excuse for that. When they got some flack over the unequal policy they announced that they would solve it by stripping all families of discounts. You should note that they are doing this over a few dollars.... What the local Chamber of Commerce said was that they were asked about their views toward “gay and lesbian visitors” and that the Board of the Chamber unanimously agreed that “we want all to know that we hope this isolated incident won’t dissuade visitors from exploring our community and, indeed, the rest of Idaho. The Lave Hot Springs Chamber of Commerce feels that all are welcome in o

The eliminationist rhetoric of ... Paul Krugman!?

Words mean things. Words have consequences. If it is dangerous and wrong-headed for rightwings to scream tyranny about the Obama administration's success in pressing its own agenda because such inflammatory rhetoric, well, inflames people... So how about the word Treason in the mouth of one of the most important national spokesmen for progressive/liberal policies--to wit, Paul Krugman : So the House passed the Waxman-Markey climate-change bill. In political terms, it was a remarkable achievement. But 212 representatives voted no. A handful of these no votes came from representatives who considered the bill too weak, but most rejected the bill because they rejected the whole notion that we have to do something about greenhouse gases. And as I watched the deniers make their arguments, I couldn’t help thinking that I was watching a form of treason — treason against the planet. He then goes on to recap global warming science before returning to his treason meme: Given thi

Jesus said, "Pork is OK, but Fags no way!" (Actual quote)

Of course both Waldo and I are going to hell for this. But at least that means I'll have a drinking buddy with whom I can discuss the French Revolution throughout eternity. Too large to post here, you MUST visit the flow chart overview on the arguments regarding same-sex marriage . Warning: if you are drinking coffee it may come out through your nose. Or else you may simply cry.

Not Carter, but LBJ...

A lot of Republicans trotted out the idea (hopefully, I suspect) that in electing Barack Obama America was getting Jimmy Carter's second term. I'm beginning to think that LBJ might be a more apt comparison (granted that JFK had been assassinated and Dubya only assassinated the legitimacy of his own presidency). LBJ wanted the Great Society to be his legacy to the United States; instead, he is forever linked to quagmire and failure in Vietnam. President Obama is today concentrating massive efforts on domestic politics as well (stimulus, cap and trade, health care); but he is also running a very real risk of being linked to a similar quagmire and failure in the Iran-Afghanistan-Pakistan theater. Simon Jenkins of The Guardian : If good intentions ever paved a road to hell, they are doing so in Afghanistan. History rarely declares when folly turns to disaster, but it does so now. Barack Obama and his amanuensis, Gordon Brown, are uncannily repeating the route taken by American

Your TSA Gestapo: Now profiling based on ... comic book scripts

From SFscope : Boom! Studios sends word that comics writer Mark Sable was detained by TSA security guards at Los Angeles International Airport this past weekend because he was carrying a script for a new issue of his comic miniseries Unthinkable. Sable was detained while traveling to New York for a debut party at Jim Hanley's Universe today. The comic series follows members of a government think tank that was tasked with coming up with 9/11-type "unthinkable" terrorist scenarios that now are coming true. (See this article for more on the series.) Sable wrote of his experiences: "Flying from Los Angeles to New York for a signing at Jim Hanley's Universe Wednesday (May 13th), I was flagged at the gate for 'extra screening'. I was subjected to not one, but two invasive searches of my person and belongings. TSA agents then 'discovered' the script for Unthinkable #3. They sat and read the script while I stood there, without any personal items, iden

Let's Be Like Europe: Seriously, this time...

With thanks to Waldo , this is the map of Europe with recognized gay marriage in green and civil unions (or their equivalent) in red:

From ideals to expedience...

President Obama's inaugural : As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our founding fathers faced with perils that we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience's sake. Six months later [via WaPo ]: The Obama administration, fearing a battle with Congress that could stall plans to close the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, is drafting an executive order that would reassert presidential authority to incarcerate terrorism suspects indefinitely, according to three senior government officials with knowledge of White House deliberations. Such an order would embrace claims by former president George W. Bush that certain people can be detained without trial for long periods under the laws of war. Obama advisers are concerned that an order, which would bypass

Why tort reform is not part of the health care package...

... despite the fact that everyone knows it would dramatically reduce medical costs. Let's see if you can connect the dots. Dot A: progressive/liberal-philosopher guru (and occasionaly Obama campaign consultant) George Lakoff : Another multifaceted conservative strategic initiative is "tort reform," which has been made to sound like it is just about capping large damage awards and lawyers' fees. It is really a destruction of the civil justice system's capacity to deter corporations from acts that harm the public, since it is the lawyers' fees that permit the system to function. Moreover, if successful, it will also dry up one of the major sources of campaign finance for progressive candidates, which comes from trial lawyers. Dot B: presidential campaign contributions 2008 from Lawyers and Lobbyists : Lawyers & Lobbyists Obama, Barack $43,440,058 Clinton, Hillary $16,941,277 McCain, John $11,290,948 Dot C: President Obama does not want tort refo

"You! You there! The man with the piece of White House stationary with my writing on it! Do you have a question for me?"

Curiously absent at any of the local liberal/progressive blog watering holes is any coverage of the Nico-Pitney-planted-question controversy. I'm sure cutting on Mark Sanford is a lot more fun, and there's been serious work to do covering the Delaware budget crisis and the death of Thurman Adams, but.... [He said with a sense of assumed whimsy:] You do kind of wonder exactly how they'd explain this one as no big deal. I think the long piece in the New York Times [which you should read completely] sums it up best: The problem is not just that Mr. Pitney, for just one day, was afforded a cherished seat in the room or given an airing for his question. And no one is diminishing his work that has drawn accolades for his devoted attention to an issue. Rather, the criticism is that he was cherry-picked, with a call-upon hours and hours beforehand, and handed a status that no one among the so-called elite of the press corps receives on any given day. While that may indeed be

You want the line? Here's the line...

From Bloomberg : June 24 (Bloomberg) -- A New Jersey man described as an Internet radio talk show host and blogger was arrested for allegedly threatening to kill three U.S. Appeals Court judges in Chicago who earlier this month upheld a law banning handguns. Hal Turner, 47, of North Bergen was arrested by U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation agents at his home today, according to a statement issued by Chicago U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald. In the days after the judges’ June 2 decision to uphold a lower court’s dismissal of a National Rifle Association lawsuit challenging the ban, Turner posted on his Web site their names, photographs, phone numbers and work addresses, together with a picture of the courthouse delineating stanchions he called “anti-truck bomb barriers,” according to Fitzgerald. “Let me be the first to say this plainly: These judges deserve to be killed,” Turner allegedly said in one Web site posting, according to Fitzgerald. “We take threats to federal judges v

Before we go converting what's happening in Iran into the American Revolution...

... let's remember that the internal politics of any country always has more to do with them than it does with us. And--more importantly--let's remember that Iran is one of only a handful of countries in the world where Mir-Hossein Mousavi, the man who approved the 1982 truck bomb attack that killed 282 US Marines in Beirut , could be considered a moderate reformer . On this one--unlovely as it seems, both Barack Obama and Ron Paul are correct: we can't do a damn thing to influence the outcome in Iran short-term, and we will have to deal with whoever ends up in power. If you think this is some kind of progressive/liberal foreign policy failure, let me remind you that it was George H. W. Bush who stood by while we had basically the largest military force ever assembled in the history of the planet and watched Saddam Hussein crush the Shi'a and Kurd uprisings in 1991 after the Gulf War .

Never mess with Michael Munger: the kill-shot for birthers

Recognize this scenario? "...the Certificate of Hawaiian Birth was issued based on ***'s typewritten testimony, rather than on any documentation from witnesses... After receiving a few years of local school, at age thirteen, *** went to live in Honolulu...*** enrolled in Oahu College (now Punahou School) for further studies for one semester, from which he graduated. He was soon sent home to *****, but he returned to Hawaii at least twice, in **** and ****...In ****, his alleged birth in Hawaii was certified. He applied for naturalization and became a citizen of the United States and was issued an American passport...*** attached particular importance to the ideas of Alexander Hamilton and Abraham Lincoln...He incorporated these ideas, later in life, in two highly influential books...His ideology remained flexible, however, reflecting his audience as much as his personal convictions...It is an open matter of debate whether this eclecticism reflected a sincere effort to incorpo

The danger of government-by-polling

Unstable Isotope had a good post up a few days back regarding the fact that most polls agree that 72% of the American people want a public option in healthcare. Aside from the fact that you can't get enough information into a single question to move beyond people's preferences for the concept of a public option (which they may or may not endorse when they see the details), I don't dispute the polling. What interests me is the conclusion drawn by UI at the end: This is a huge majority of people. I sure hope Democrats can find a spine to get real health care reform. I’m getting a bit tired of the Congress thwarting the will of the people. A public option for health care is not controversial! People are not buying the status quo defenders scare tactics about wait times and protecting the profits of those poor, put-upon health insurance executives. What I am left wondering is at what polling point the will of the people kicks in. According to the most recent ABC News/W

The News Journal channels its inner Libertarian

Unbelievable : Delaware cannot afford its government. t's as simple as that. Few people will deny it -- as long they think the voters can't hear. Certain segments will bluster about doing more for constituents. But the harsh reality is that Delaware's government has grown too large and it costs too much. And too much of it is ineffective. There are too few benchmarks for performance. So, for a good portion of the time, neither the governor's office nor the Legislature knows who is doing what and why. The current financial crisis points out more than anything how overextended the situation is. For too many years, Delaware was able to "export" its taxes, pushing the bill on others while politicians built the good life.... The 2.5 percent government employee wage cut, if it actually goes through, is only temporary. They will be back in next year's budget from day one. Leg Hall is praying for a miracle recovery. In the meantime, the political solution of

Blogger ennui?

I understand the feeling. Blogging is a lot of work, and relatively little pay-back, either in monetary or psychological terms. Often you know "you done good" by the volume of the abuse hurled in your direction. Sometimes the posts you've carefully researched draw no comment whatever, while the ones you dash off thoughtlessly garner praise and generate multiple conversations. No way to figure it. Mike Matthews at Down With Absolutes is apparently giving it up for Twitter, while Dave Burris is shutting down Delaware Politics at the end of the legislative session. I'll miss them both. Dana Garrett has told me several times that he blogs now primarily out of a sense of obligation rather than a sense of joy, and that he has been on the verge of quitting multiple times. Part of the problem comes when a blog relies primarily on a single author: if you hit a tough patch or lose interest for awhile, then people start checking your site less frequently, and things just

Is this what one might term ... a dialogue ... between the US and our adversaries?

20 June 2009 : LAHORE: US President Barack Obama has told a private Pakistani TV channel in an interview that his administration does not intend to send American troops into Pakistan, the Indian media reported on Saturday. Obama said any American military aid to Pakistan needed to be used against extremism. “We have in the past supported Pakistan militarily. I think it is important to make sure that military support is directed at extremists and our common enemies,” the US president said. Obama underlined the need to help Pakistan strengthen its resources to facilitate development, and stressed the importance of turning the bilateral ties beyond just military-to-military cooperation into “something richer”. He said he was confident Pakistan’s nuclear weapons were safe and secure. 21 June 2009 : 10 months ago, the Pakistani government touted the death of top al-Qaeda figure Mustafa Abu al-Yazid in the Bajaur Agency. Today, he gave a notably live interview with al-Jazeera in which

Once more into the breach with (faux) selective outrage...

Some of our friends have discovered (ah! the horrors!) that many key Senators and Congresscritters have been the recipients of large campaign donations by the health insurance industry: But as you listen to the back and forth of the health care discussion, be familiar with the Bought Off and treat their commentary accordingly. OK, fair enough. Just be sure you take a look at the health insurance/HMO contributions during the Presidential Election, as reported by Open Secrets , and include President Barack Obama among your list of the "Bought Off" : Health Services/HMOs Barack Obama (D) $1,262,224 Hillary Clinton (D) $535,849 John McCain (R) $412,918 Here's the contribution totals for Health Professionals Health Professionals Barack Obama (D) $11,532,962 John McCain (R) $5,251,019 Hillary Clinton (D) $3,973,797 [And totally for kicks and grins, here are the figures for Commercial Banks ]: Commercial Banks Barack Obama (D) $3,167,003 John McCain (R) $2,2

Where the rule of law meets the war on terror

You gotta love how the NYT starts this story about the FBI's Terror Watch List and firearm purchases : WASHINGTON — People on the government’s terrorist watch list tried to buy guns nearly 1,000 times in the last five years, and federal authorities cleared the purchases 9 times out of 10 because they had no legal way to stop them, according to a new government report. In one case, a person on the list was able to buy more than 50 pounds of explosives. The new statistics, compiled in a report from the Government Accountability Office that is scheduled for public release next week, draw attention to an odd divergence in federal law: people placed on the government’s terrorist watch list can be stopped from getting on a plane or getting a visa, but they cannot be stopped from buying a gun. Gun purchases must be approved unless federal officials can find some other disqualification of the would-be buyer, like being a felon, an illegal immigrant or a drug addict. “This is a glaring

Comment rescue--er, maybe comment kidnapping: Why not Single-payer

Again, cassandra has an interesting post up at Delawareliberal with a lot of interesting nuts and bolts links. Cassandra herself has a very important point to make following a riff on single-payer as the secular equivalent of the rapture: Comment @3 is a big example of what is wrong with the single payer arguments as made — lots and lots of claims made for how much better it is, but no discussion on how it would be implemented here. Implementation is the battle and there is a reason Dems took it off the table. The politics does matter. This comment is spot on, because the politics and the motives do matter. Here's the comment from that thread I wanted to rescue, or kidnap, from [unfortunately] an anonymous: Single-payer is nice if you can get it. Until then, ugly as it is, a public option is more progressive than what we have now, because the haves will be taxed to pay for coverage for the have-nots, who are currently not being covered at all. Once the taxes get high enoug

Does society exist?

No, I'm not going all solipsistic on you, but there was a recent post by cassandra at Delawareliberal quoting David Leonhardt of the NYT that got me thinking.... Which is always dangerous. [The post, by the way, concerned the issue of rationing health care, and while I disagree with both cassandra's and Leonhardt's take, that can wait for another day. This is about a line in his column that I'm sure he didn't even think twice before using.] Here's the clip: Today, I want to try to explain why the case against rationing isn’t really a substantive argument. It’s a clever set of buzzwords that tries to hide the fact that societies must make choices. Notice the bolded section. The problem is that, quite literally, societies don't make choices . This is a piece of rhetorical shorthand we use in hindsight to characterize the aggregate choices made by large numbers [or a leadership cadre] of members of a society. Picking this bone is not just nit-picking

This is how you pad your resume to become a defense industry lobbyist when you retire

From the Christian Science Monitor : WASHINGTON - A top Air Force general, crossing swords with Pentagon leadership, says a proposed cap on the number of F-22 stealth fighters puts America at "high risk" of compromising military strategy. In a June 9 letter to a senator, Gen. John Corley, commander of the Air Force's Air Combat Command, wrote: "In my opinion, a fleet of 187 F-22s puts execution of our current national military strategy at high risk in the near to mid term." General Corley's letter, obtained by the Monitor Thursday, came in response to a query from Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R) of Georgia, where parts of the F-22 Raptor are built. The 187 cap is the symbolic centerpiece of Defense Secretary Robert Gates's budget request, which aims to rein in defense procurement costs. He has said it is time to wrap up the program to buy the $140 million-a-copy plane. The Air Force had long disagreed, calling for as many as 381 planes as recently as last y

Libertarians and the Left: especially for Dana Garrett and my friends at Delawareliberal

This is from Classically Liberal , as an aside explaining why a Libertarian should be remembering Harvey Milk in a positive light. It is also one of the best short explanations of the similarities and differences between Libertarians and Liberals that I have ever read: There is a false assumption, a grossly false assumption, that libertarianism is some sort of Right-wing philosophy. I would assert most strongly, it is not. Properly understood libertarianism in its “classical liberal” incarnation was the original Left wing of politics. The Right wished to “conserve” the prevalent social order. Liberals did not. They wished to reform it in many different way including ending the feudal system, abolition of the church/state alliance and ending the government coddling of certain business interests through subsidies, monopolies and protectionism. There was very, very little which classical liberals though worthy of conserving. The advocates of conserving the social order were called conse

Brian Shields SCCORs

Jaunt over to The Mourning Constitution for a first-hand report by Brian on his visit to the latest SCCOR meeting. He breaks it down pretty thoroughly and the whole piece deserves your attention. Here are the money quotes: The SCCOR is nowhere near as radical and evil as our friends at Delaware Liberal has made them out to be. They have some crazy ideas that I admit are out there.... Aside from the odd quirk, the SCCOR is, on the surface, exactly as it says it is. It is a political grassroots group who believes that the people are the real power in politics, and are trying to motivate more political involvement. Their views are damn near as Republican as the Republican Party used to be before the crazies took over, and naturally they have a strong GOP contingient. Thanks, Brian.

What passes for humor and civil rights in South Carolina

There used to be a derogatory saying about South Carolina: Too small to be a state, but too large to be a penal institution . Ironically, despite an abundance of gracious people in many places, Palmetto State politics and the South Carolina blogosphere continues to descend into a racist, homophobic gutter. The one you've heard about, of course, is GOPer activist Rusy DePass joking about Michelle Obama, gorillas and evolution . Here's one that might have escaped your attention: Daniel J. Cassidy is a member of the South Carolina Advisory Board to the US Commission on Civil Rights. Here you can find him presenting himself as the watchdog over the proper expenditure of Federal funds for tutoring disadvantaged students . So far, so good, right? But Cassidy also publishes a blog called Sunlit Uplands , whose subtitle is Faith, Freedom, Defense of the West, Renewal of the Culture . Let's sample some of Cassiday's blogging choices over the past couple of days, keepin

Transparency and accountability are good things ... except for me

From the LA Times : Reporting from Washington -- The Obama administration this week will propose the most significant new regulation of the financial industry since the Great Depression, including a new watchdog agency to look out for consumers' interests . Under the plan, expected to be released Wednesday, the government would have new powers to seize key companies -- such as insurance giant American International Group Inc. -- whose failure jeopardizes the financial system. Currently, the government's authority to seize companies is mostly limited to banks.... In addition, the administration wants to impose regulation over the market for derivatives -- the murky financial contracts used to hedge risky investments -- including new reporting and disclosure requirements . Institutions that originate loans would be required to retain 5% of the credit risk when the loans are turned into securities. From MSNBC : The Obama administration is fighting to block access to names of

Libertarians and smoking bans

Megan McArdle asks an important question: Henry Farrell's interesting post on smoking bans reminds me of an ongoing question that I have never heard a libertarian answer satisfactorily. Smoking in bars and so forth is dangerous to bystanders who have pulmonary disease (the dangers of secondhand smoke to those who are not already breathing-impaired seem to be largely mythical). It's noxious to some other number of people who do not smoke. The libertarian rejoinder to the smoking bans is that bars could choose not to smoke if people wanted it. But in practice, despite the fact that smokers are a minority, and most people hate it, almost no establishment went non-smoking without government fiat. This seems like a market failure.... You can explain it, but this doesn't seem like a good market outcome by any measure.... And I think that politically, if not intellectually, the success of smoking bans is a heavy blow to libertarian credibility. Fair question, and deserve

Two different views on President Obama, DOMA, and gay rights

With the Obama/Holder DOJ heading to court to defend DOMA, there have been all kinds of responses. Gay rights advocates are outraged, and Obama supporters have been trying to make sense of it all. Two of my favorite female bloggers have different opinions. First, Pandora at Delawareliberal : My first reaction to this was pure outrage, and then I read this. “Rather, here’s the promise he is keeping: He is keeping his promise that he will serve and act as President as if America is a nation of laws, which it is. He is keeping his promise to uphold the law… I want to address the brief filed in support of the Defense of Marriage Act. That Act preceded Obama. He inherited that law. It was on the books when he came into office, and because it has been challenged, he and his DOJ have an obligation to defend the law if there is a legal basis to defend it. That’s exactly what I want my President to do. Then Becky, the Girl in Short Shorts , referenced the same quotation: Over on the D

Obama at the AMA: two thoughts

The one thought comes from my misreading of a headline. AOL ran the headline Some doctors boo while Obama is speaking at the AMA , which I misread as Some doctors BLOG while Obama is speaking at the AMA , which led me to wonder, Where the hell did Mike Matthews find a white lab coat? Later, when I read the article, I had this serious thought. Despite his rhetoric at the AMA, if it becomes necessary to get physicians onboard with a strong public option (the ultimate administration objective), will the President do an about-face on opposing medical malpractice caps? He's already backed off the no taxing existing health care benefits position from last fall, why not this one? I think of this in the context of Obama as pragmatic politician, who would slip that in to give a couple of moderate Republicans like Snowe or Collins the cover they needed to support the end product. My major point: don't underestimate this man's political will. Everything is negotiable to him

The political stakes of health care reform...

... are becoming more clear (and yet more murky) as we inch into the summer. The NYT points out that President Obama is risking more credibility on this reform than President Clinton did--and thus stands to win or lose bigger than Bubba did: There are reasons to be pessimistic: a history of six decades of failure; a sharp partisan divide; the need to enact tax and cost-control measures that will force some pain before any gain; the inevitable peeling off of various interest groups that have been part of private deliberations; and the inherent difficulty of changing something that is 17 percent of the American economy and of personal concern to most citizens. Yet failure is an option the Obama White House can ill afford. The president believes reforming health care will be his legacy. Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff and a former top House legislator who will be critical in cutting deals, knows the political consequences might be even more grave than they were in 1994 fo

The revenge of Immanuel Velikovsky...

The original great catastrophist who believed that much of the mythology of ancient history could be explained by an exceptionally active solar system in which the Earth was once the satellite of a proto-Saturn, and that the inner planets had experienced repeated close encounters must be smiling somewhere.... ... as astronomers have recently used computer simulations to prove that the solar system may not be the staid place it has been portrayed on those wall charts in my elementary classroom: Our solar system has a potentially violent future. New computer simulations reveal a slight chance that a disruption of planetary orbits could lead to a collision of Earth with Mercury, Mars or Venus in the next few billion years. Despite its diminutive size, Mercury poses the greatest risk to the solar system's order. Results of the computer model show a roughly 1 percent chance that the elongation of Mercury's orbit will increase to the point where the planet's path around the

The first step: the Federal government decides how much health care you are entitled to have

Paying for universal health care was always the (ahem, with apologies to the GOP) the elephant in the room. Here are the three options thus far on the table, according to the SF Chronicle : Rep. Pete Stark, a leading congressional author of health reform legislation, called Thursday for a 2 percent income tax surcharge to pay for the health insurance program he predicted Congress and President Obama would enact later this year.... Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., chairman of the Senate Finance Committee that also is drafting health reform legislation, has endorsed a new tax on employees for some health insurance benefits that exceed the value of the basic plan offered to federal employees, currently about $13,000 a year for a family of four. Obama has proposed paying for universal health care coverage by reducing tax deductions for upper-income taxpayers. The one that catches my eye here--and which has been getting pimped in the press with sufficient regularity over the past few days t

An expected piece of hypocrisy from Senator Nancy Cook ...

... regarding the JFC and the Delaware budget. Of the proposed 2.5% State employee pay cut that the Joint Finance Committee is now pushing, Senator Cook says, according to the WNJ : The only alternative to a pay cut, Cook said, would be layoffs -- something she is dead-set against. The JFC discussed furloughs, she said, but ruled them out because they couldn't come up with a way to do it fairly. Two issues: 1) Several months ago, Governor Jack Markell warned us that the only alternative to an 8% across-the-board State employee paycut was ... layoffs. Now, suddenly, 2.5% is the magic number. Which means that Senator Cook is ... suggesting that the Governor was lying about the 8% being necessary, or what? And why, exactly, should we believe Senator Cook now when suddenly instead of $92 million, $29 million is the magic number? 2) The JFC--in what is supposed to be its last secret session ever (holding my breath and waiting for the court challenge in the off-season)--ruled ou

Let's tax health care benefits, but let's not tell anybody until after the next election...

... is what seems to be the message in what certainly has not shaped up as a banner day in the Obama administration. From AP : WASHINGTON (AP) — Legislation to be outlined next week in the Senate Finance Committee will likely include a new tax on workers with the costliest employer-provided health coverage, officials said Friday, but with implementation delayed until 2013 to minimize any political fallout. Officials familiar with internal deliberations said the leading option under consideration by Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., the committee chairman, would mean higher taxes for workers whose family coverage costs $15,000 a year or more in premiums paid by employer and employee combined. The provision could generate hundreds of billions of dollars over the next decade to help pay the $1 trillion or more the Obama administration has estimated is necessary under its plan to extend health care to millions of Americans who lack it. Cuts in projected Medicare and Medicaid spending are ex