Monday, February 28, 2011

Buffy's changing appearance

Sitting here watching a Buffy marathon. Its the beginning of the third season. So that means they have Sarah Michelle Gellar with at least three different shades of blond in her hair. And she looks a bit more in shape than when she does later in the season and especially in the rest of the series.

Sarah Michelle Gellar's appearance changes quite a bit throughout the series. Its not always dramatic, but its certainly noticeable and I'm not quite sure why it happens so often. Maybe if I break it down something will pop up.

In season one Sarah is at her heaviest, and when I say heaviest I still mean very small. She is about 5'3. So she isn't going to weigh much. But in season one she looks like a very healthy young woman. Her hair in past shoulder length and pretty dirty blond, certainly less blond than other seasons. I think Sarah was about 20 years old at this point. So her development as a woman is a bit ahead of the 16 year old Buffy she is portraying. I think this is a realistic depiction of a young girl of her size. Although I like how full her body looks I like how her face matures in the next season.

In season two Buffy comes back with her hair a little more blond and a little shorter. Now she has it just above her shoulders and looking a bit like the Jennifer Aniston style that was popular in the 90s. Sarah's face really comes into its own, absolutely gorgeous. She's a bit thinner than in the first season but still looks pretty fit and healthy. The big changes in this season involves her hair. Just going off memory, she goes through a bunch of different styles and shades of blond. Towards the end of the season we get a pretty steady mix of blond and a bit past the shoulder length. From a purely asthetic perspective, I think this is the best Sarah looked while on the show.

There isn't a lot of change in season three. THe one thing that sticks out is her hair color early in the season. This, and when she cuts her hair really short in season 6, are the only times I can think that her change in appearance is part of the plot of the show. Since she was out on her own, slumming it, I think her hair reflects the big change in her life at the end of season two. And as she gets further back into her previous life her hair gets back to normal.

Season four is when I start to have a problem with Sarah's appearance. She shows up to college looking very thin. Not unhealthy, just very thin. This could very well be Sarah being more fit and in shape for the physical demands of the role. But it strikes me as the typical Hollywood thinking that thinner is better. I'm very hesitant to say that definitively in light of Whedon's feminist ideals and the fact that he cast Miracle Laurie in "Dollhouse" because she was a fuller figured woman and not a typical Hollywood actress that looks like she doesn't get enough meals.

There aren't many more changes throughout the rest of the series aside from the big one in season six that I mentioned earlier. So I still don't see much reason for all of the changes. Perhaps its just me nit picking on who I think is one of the most beautiful women I've ever seen. But I didn't care for some of the changes throughout the series. Though I guess that also speaks to the other thing Sarah Michelle Gellar has, which is just a sexiness that exudes from her that is separate from her physical appearance. And I think that part of her also helped her acting and thus the whole show.

The Oscars

I didn't watch because Hollywood does too much in the way of masturbatory exercises. The only other institution that beats them is country music. Those people have a different award show every other month, and for music that sounds exactly the same across the genre and performed by people who look the same.

I also haven't seen many of the movies that are nominated for the big categories. And that's the biggest problem, the elitist attitude of the academy that favors certain kinds of dramatic movies and performances over others. Yeah, Heath Ledger won for The Joker. But the academy throws us a bone every once in a while just to keep people from completely leaving.

One of the movies that was getting a lot of Oscar hype was "Black Swan". I respect the director, Darren Aronovsky. Plus Mila Kunis and Natalie Portman are gorgeous. So I gave it a shot and it was good. Portman certainly deserved to win best actress. I also saw "The Fighter", which was also good. Christian Bale also deserved the award he won tonight. He really convinced me he was a crack addict.

I just wish Christian and the Nolan Batman franchise that he is best known for would get more attention. And the whole production could cut down on the self aggrandizing stuff and let more people like Ricky Gervais poke some fun at them. Maybe when those things happen it will actually matter when something gets nominated and wins. Or it will at least help heal the memory of "Crash".

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Tornadoes and gov't infringement

Tonight in Memphis we had a tornado warning. The local news channels cut in to spend an hour telling us a tornado and sever thunderstorms were possibly coming our way. That was accompanied by tornado warning sirens used by local fire departments.

I live about 10 minutes (walking distance) from the closest fire station. So it was really loud, loud enough to freak out my dogs and get them howling at it. Needless to say it was a very annoying act that violated the privacy of my home without my consent.

Its not the government's responsibility to tell me when I should be concerned about the weather. That's my individual choice, and it shouldn't be made by unelected gov't bureaucrats. And my money shouldn't go to some person who belongs to a public union so he can violate my privacy and then use my money to bargain for a higher salary that increases my state's deficit.

To top things off, one of the shows the local news completely cut into was "Community" starring the incredible Alison Brie. How dare the local gov't allow these news channels to invade the privacy of my home and force me to watch their programming, especially when a national treasure like Alison Brie is supposed to be on my tv.

These infringements on my freedom are unacceptable in a supposedly liberty loving country. But because of unions and overreaching gov't I can't sit down in my own home to a quiet evening with Alison Brie....Seriously, check out "Community" on NBC on Thursdays. She is incredible and the show is really funny.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Conservatives vs Unions: who stands to win and who stands to lose

I think the whole situation in Wisconsin is a good microcosm for what is going on in the nation as a whole. A Republican is selectively targeting certain unions and not only trying to cut their wages and benefits, but also trying to take away their ability to collectively bargain.

The governor claims this is about the budget deficit the state will face. But that is political spin to justify his real motive, which is to give rich people more money, which is the motive for the entire Republican party in this country.

Governor Walker is doing this by cutting corporate tax rates at the same time he is cutting wages, benefits, and bargaining for middle class jobs. And he isn't targeting all public unions. He is leaving unions like the police and fire dept alone, two unions who supported him during his campaign. So instead of getting money from rich people who can afford it or from all unions equally, he goes after unions that are typically Democratic, unions that have already said they will accept lower wages and benefits.

Looking at this nationally, Republicans are constantly cutting taxes for corporations while trying to undermine the efforts of unions to try and get benefits for their workers, those people who make up the middle class that you hear so many politicians talking about. The first thing the Republican House did was extend the Bush tax cuts, which restricts the amount of revenue the gov't takes in thus causing a bigger deficit. The next thing they do is to roll out cuts to funding for anything that comes close to abortion, food for women and children, and entitlements that are designed to help the poor and middle class.

What Gov. Walker and the GOP are doing is taking away money from the middle class and poor and giving it to rich people under the guise of cutting the deficit. Their justification is the old trickle down theory that the rich will invest it, that investing will grow the economy, and that growth will benefit everyone. But that didn't happen under Bush and it benefited the rich much more than everyone else when they did it under Reagan. Now they are combining that bad theory with cuts in essential services for people who depend on them.

If conservatives get their way only rich people will win, which is redundant because they have already won by being rich. If liberals win the middle class and poor will keep what little they have. And historically, the rich will do just fine under Dems. Sadly the people don't know these facts and therefore vote against their own economic interests.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Judge rules political leaders are above some laws

CHARLESTON, S.C. -- A federal judge on Thursday threw out a lawsuit brought by a man convicted of plotting terrorism and who alleged he was tortured at a Navy brig in South Carolina, saying a trial would create "an international spectacle."

U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel ruled Jose Padilla, arrested as an enemy combatant, had no right to sue for constitutional violations and that the defendants in the case enjoyed qualified immunity.

So this guy, an American citizen arrested in Chicago, can't even have his case heard. He might have been tortured, which is illegal despite this country's discussion on the issue. But he can't even be allowed to prove his case. Here is part of the judge's reason:

"A trial on the merits would be an international spectacle with Padilla, a convicted terrorist, summoning America's present and former leaders to a federal courthouse to answer his charges," he wrote.

That's disturbing to say the least. As Glenn Greenwald points out, other countries have allowed alleged torture victims to have a trial and have even compensated them for their part in the torture and improper imprisonment. But here in the US, we lock you up, torture you, and don't allow you to prove that the gov't broke the law in its treatment of you.

We may not be losing the war on terror in a strict sense of the world. But I'm certain we aren't winning it. Not when our courts allow politicians to break the law and then deny citizens the right to even try and prove they did so.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

More on Republicans and women

Following up on my last post about Republicans and their views on women, I wanted to highlight the fact that the House has voted to cut funding to Planned Parenthood. They are not hiding the fact that this is about stopping abortion. But the effect of their actions goes beyond that. And the consequences that result from those actions are why I maintain that Republicans don't care about women.

In this instance it shows that they don't care about how their policies affect poor women. Planned Parenthood doesn't just do abortions. They provide contraception, counseling, cancer screenings, testing, and all sorts of things meant to provide health care to women. Even though PP performs abortions, they can't use the money they are provided by the federal gov't on abortions. That's because of the Hyde amendment which was passed in the 70s to prevent federal funding to be used on abortions.

So this isn't technically about stopping abortions. Its about preventing PP from being able to provide all of the other things they do, which in part is about preventing women from becoming pregnant to begin with, something Republicans should support. Reps know that if they squeeze PP to the point that it can't survive then poor women will have no where to go for abortions.

This is just another instance that shows Republican policy makers don't care about the effects their policies have on you if you aren't a rich person or an unborn fetus. To them, an unborn fetus should have rights but a person who wants to join a union or not die from childbirth is shit out of luck. It truly is the party of freedom and liberty.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Republicans don't care about women and children

There have been quite a few stories lately about what states have been up to as they pass their budgets. Many of the stories have been about Republicans being creative in trying to get rid of abortion. As far as I can tell, most of them don't seem to have a good chance of passing.

But this story about Texas and what they might do with education funding caught my eye, specifically this:

Which brings us to choice two. Besides reducing services to children, Texas is doing as little as possible to help women — especially young women — avoid unwanted pregnancy.

For one thing, it’s extremely tough for teenagers to get contraceptives in Texas. “If you are a kid, even in college, if it’s state-funded you have to have parental consent,” said Susan Tortolero, director of the Prevention Research Center at the University of Texas in Houston.

Plus, the Perry government is a huge fan of the deeply ineffective abstinence-only sex education. Texas gobbles up more federal funds than any other state for the purpose of teaching kids that the only way to avoid unwanted pregnancies is to avoid sex entirely. (Who knew that the health care reform bill included $250 million for abstinence-only sex ed? Thank you, Senator Orrin Hatch!) But the state refused to accept federal money for more expansive, “evidence-based” programs.

“Abstinence works,” said Governor Perry during a televised interview with Evan Smith of The Texas Tribune.

“But we have the third highest teen pregnancy rate among all states in the country,” Smith responded.

“It works,” insisted Perry.

“Can you give me a statistic suggesting it works?” asked Smith.

“I’m just going to tell you from my own personal life. Abstinence works,” said Perry, doggedly.

I'm just going to tell you from my own personal life. Kristin Kreuk and I are madly in love with each other.

...(waiting for Kristin to walk through my door and sweep me off my feet)...Nope. Nothing. Apparently I can't change reality by ignoring the facts and believing what I want to be the facts. But if Perry gets his way he will be able to do that.

Its amazing the level of delusion he is working with. And it stems from an ideology that frankly doesn't care in the slightest about the life of women or the children they bear, that is unless that child is a fetus living inside the woman. But once that kid comes out you can forget about it.

Republicans like Perry get really worked up over abortion and the idea of personal responsibility. Yet they can't even acknowledge the fact that teaching kids about contraception is a good way to curb abortion and give them more efficient tools for which to be personally responsible.

The fact that their ideology prevents them from looking at the facts and implementing something that would curb something a lot of them think is murder tells you something about that ideology. And when someone can win an argument and pass laws based on their own personal feelings that completely contradict the evidence on hand it tells you something about the structure of our gov'ts and the people who elect men like Perry. What it tells us isn't pretty, unlike Kristin Kreuk and our undying love.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

John Boehner doesn't care about jobs

That is, if you work for the gov't he doesn't care about your job.

"In the last two years, under President Obama, the federal government has added 200,000 new federal jobs," Boehner said. "If some of those jobs are lost so be it. We're broke."

First of all he is wrong about that number. As the article points out, its more like 20,000 and part of that is probably due to the Census, that Constitutionally mandated thing that conservatives told people not to do.

Second of all, gov't jobs are still jobs. That ranges from the bureaucrats at the agencies that Boehner and other Reps hate to police officers, teachers, and soldiers. And because states can't run deficits police officers and teachers are being laid off. And the Speaker of the House doesn't care.

Yet if a Dem basically opens their mouth and something regarding economic policy comes out the first thing Boehner and Reps will do is say that the effects of that policy will kill jobs. The title of their bill to repeal the ACA was Repeal the Job Killing Health Care Bill.

This is a good representation of conservative belief about the basic role of gov't. They are so hostile to the idea of gov't and the idea that a gov't can do things that benefit society that they don't care if people who work for the gov't lose their jobs. (Well, that is unless you are a soldier who could be fighting in Iraq or Afghanistan. Their job of protecting Iraqis and Afghans is more important to Boehner than having police officers protect American taxpayers and teachers teaching the kids of American taxpayers.)

So if you start from that belief, what incentive do you have to make sure the things gov't does are done properly? The answer for the Bush administration, which held this view, was that they didn't. And it showed in how they handled things like regulation of the economy and even things they cared about like invading Iraq and Afghanistan.

The problem is that people want their gov't to do things for them, and they want them done well. Yet a lot of those same people elect Republicans who don't believe in doing those things at all, but are too afraid of losing votes to actually stop doing them at all.

Why liberals don't want cuts to entitlements

Here is Matt Yglesias on the problem for liberals when it comes to the public discussion on cutting entitlements like Social Security:

Right now we have conservatives simultaneously calling for huge spending cuts and also getting the line’s share of old people’s votes even while the vast majority of non-security spending is on old people. In essence, by first separating the domestic budget into “discretionary” and “entitlement” portions and then dividing the entitlement programs up into “what today’s old people get” versus “what tomorrow’s old people will get” the political class has created a large and vociferously right-wing class of people who are completely immune from the impact of their own calls for fiscal austerity.

Old people vote Republican. Well off people vote Republican. The benefits we give to old people because they are old are the biggest problems with the budget; the biggest problem being health care cost, i.e. Medicare. Well off people pay the lion's share of taxes that provide those benefits.

But what Republicans want to do is to keep lowering the taxes on those well off people who pay for those things while not pushing as hard for lowering the benefits of the well off people who also enjoy the benefits their taxes pay for. And they aren't very concerned about the less well off people who would also have their benefits cut under their proposals, and those are the people who need the benefits the most.

What Yglesias is pointing out is that Republicans can do these things and not suffer the consequences at the polls. Old people will continue to vote for them, on average, even if their benefits get cut. Well off people will continue to vote for them because they like to believe lower taxes is the best thing for them even though everyone's incomes has grown more under Democratic presidents.

Democrats risk making their base angry by passing cuts to entitlements. And contrary to Republicans, they get no credit for cutting the deficit by doing so. Meanwhile, the less well off people who rely on entitlements enjoy less benefits.

So for liberals, not only do we not see the benefits from cutting entitlements at the polls, the people we care about and who need the help suffer. Plus there is the fact that there is plenty of money that could be cut in the defense budget. And Social Security is not a long term budget problem. What talks about cutting SS boils down to is Republicans being ideologically opposed to the idea of SS and being able to use it as a talking point on budget responsibility, which is bullshit because they aren't responsible when it comes to the budget. Just look at the deficits Reagan and Bush left.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Duke vs Carolina

I was so focused on the game that I almost forgot to blog about it. And if Duke hadn't have turned it around in the second half I probably would have been too angry to post anything. But as it turned out they did a much better job of rebounding and not turning the ball over in the second half.

Not to mentioned that started to make shots. Nolan Smith was consistent the whole game. But Seth Curry really stepped up in the second half and closed the gap. He was absolutely on fire and the coaching staff did a good job of getting him as many shots as they could.

Singler had a tough game but I think he did a good job on Barnes in the second half after he had a good first half. The Plumlees did a good job on Carolina big men in the second half.

Carolina was very strong, quick, and relentless as they built a 14 point lead at half. I think Nolan was right when he told Erin Andrews (as gorgeous as ever) after the game that they showed toughness because that is what they needed to overcome that deficit and stop Carolina from doing what they did in the first half.

One last thing I want to point out are the Crazies. They were the loudest they have been all season tonight. They came up big and showed why they have the reputation they do because they definitely got me fired up.

Iowa Reps cite religious freedom to justify discrimination

Here is what the bill they plan to introduce in their House would allow:

It would be legal for an Iowa business owner who cites religious beliefs to refuse to provide jobs, housing, goods or services to people involved in a marriage that violates his or her religious convictions, according to a bill an Iowa House subcommittee will consider on Wednesday.

House Study Bill 50, called the Religious Conscience Protection Act, would allow a person, business or organization such as a charity or fraternal group to deny services without fear of facing a civil claim or lawsuit if they think doing so would validate or recognize same-sex relationships.

On its face this is ridiculous. Its obviously about gay marriage. But it would also allow a grocery store owner to say that married Catholics can't shop at her or his store because Catholics are evil according to her or his religious belief.

Legally it seems a bit more complicated since there is the 1st Amendment that allows for freedom of religion and freedom of expression. Since I'm not a lawyer I'm not going to argue the legal merits of the bill, which doesn't seem likely to pass. But I do want to look at some things that I find interesting.

First is the idea of religious belief. What constitutes a religious belief according to these Iowan lawmakers? Does atheism qualify? What about Whedonism, the belief that Joss Whedon is a complete badass? My life and morals are dictated just as much by Joss Whedon as many Christians' belief in their religion. So I'm not sure how they would define religious belief.

The other part is the marriage aspect of it. What does the fact that a couple is married have to do with someone providing them with a service? If your religious beliefs are that important why shouldn't you be allowed to deny things to single people or couples? How does the marriage of a couple affect someone else's freedom of religion, expression, speech, etc.?

The answer is that it doesn't. The act of one man marrying another man does not infringe on anyone's right to freedom of religion nor does it establish a religion. But if it does establish a religion in violation of the 1st Amendment I'm not sure how a man marrying a woman doesn't violate it also.

I will give credit to the people who drew this up because legally I'm not sure how I'd attack it. Though I'm sure there is a way. But aside from a legal point of view this is a ridiculous reading of the right to religious freedom. In fact its a bastardization of the right to give legal cover to those who want to deny things to others because they don't share the same religious beliefs.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Your next president on Egypt and foreign policy

Here is the transcript of her discussion on Egypt:

“Remember, President Reagan lived that mantra trust but verify. We want to be able to trust those who are screaming for democracy there in Egypt, that it is a true sincere desire for freedoms and the challenge that we have though, is how do we verify what it is that we are being told, what it is that the American public are being fed via media, via the protestors, via the government there in Egypt in order for us to really have some sound information to make wise decisions on what our position is. Trust but verify, and try to understand is what I would hope our leaders are engaged in right now. Who’s going to fill the void? Mubarak, he’s gone, one way or the other you know, he is not going to be the leader of Egypt, that that’s a given, so now the information needs to be gathered and understood as to who it will be that fills now the void in the government. Is it going to be the Muslim Brotherhood? We should not stand for that, or with that or by that. Any radical Islamists, no that is not who we should be supporting and standing by, so we need to find out who was behind all of the turmoil and the revolt and the protests so that good decisions can be made in terms of who we will stand by and support.”

“It’s a difficult situation, this is that 3am White House phone call and it seems for many of us trying to get that information from our leader in the White House it it seems that that call went right to um the answering machine. And nobody yet has, no body yet has explained to the American public what they know, and surely they know more than the rest of us know who it is who will be taking the place of Mubarak and I’m not real enthused about what it is that that’s being done on a national level and from DC in regards to understanding all the situation there in Egypt. And in these areas that are so volatile right now because obviously it’s not just Egypt but the other countries too where we are seeing uprisings, we know that now more than ever, we need strength and sound mind there in the White House. We need to know what it is that America stands for so we know who it is that America will stand with. And we do not have all that information yet.”

Of course Reagan would have solved this problem within 48 hours. Not to fear, we have Sarah Palin, who doesn't know if the protesters really want democracy. This would be a legit question if the World Cup was going on right now. But since it isn't what in the hell does she think they want?

Notice how she tosses democracy aside once the notion of Muslims being in charge is a possibility. I'm sure that's some deeply held tradition of Locke and Jefferson that I missed when reading them, the notion that everyone is free to decide how they want to govern themselves, unless you're a Muslim.

Apparently the problem with the US thus far has been that Obama and the State Department haven't broadcast their diplomatic talks on CSPAN for the whole world to see. Because I'm sure that the American public is just itching for constant updates from the WH about Egypt and what a few bureaucrats at State are doing to make sense of the situation. Surely then the WH would be swarmed with solutions from a newly informed public.

I can't wait for Palin's fireside chats in which she will share diplomatic cables and classified info so that we as a people can decide who gets to be a democracy and who doesn't. Who needs Wikileaks with Palin as CaC?

Espn on the Super Bowl

The Super Bowl was an ok game. I'm glad the Packers won, but mostly because I dislike the Steelers more than any non-AFC East team in the league. Though I do respect how good Aaron Rodgers and Clay Matthews are.

The annoying thing about the Packers winning was all of the talk about Rodgers. Yeah he is really good. But, NEWS FLASH TO SPORTS MEDIA, the QB is not the end all be all of football. He doesn't run the ball more than running backs. He doesn't block, kick, catch passes, rush the passer, tackle, or defend passes. Nor does he coach the team or make personnel decisions.

So I don't want to turn on coverage of the game on espn and hear them talk almost exclusively about Rodgers. And even worse, I don't want to hear them talk about the QB that he replaced, who shall remain nameless. I don't fucking care about the QB who shall remain nameless, nor do the players on his former team who just won the SB.

Stop being lazy, espn and the sports media in general. Your jobs aren't difficult to begin with. The least you can do while being paid decent money to discuss sports for a living is to put forth some effort and not constantly fall back on moronic and meaningless stories. And the public can help by doing what I did at the first mention of the player who shall remain nameless, change the fucking channel.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Rand Paul's no fly zone

Rand Paul was the only nay vote on a bill to outlaw pointing lasers at airplanes.

Paul is the newly elected senator from Kentucky who fancies himself a libertarian who doesn't want to cut Medicare funding because it would cut payments to doctors, which was Paul's job before he became a senator.

Anyway...What's his reasoning for voting against this bill?
The younger Mr. Paul said he thought it was a bad idea to point lasers at pilots, but “there are a lot of states that already have laws, and I think the states ought to take care of it.”

Why should the fact that something is a good idea mean the senate should make it policy? Only a big gov't anti-federalist would ask such a question.

Why even bother with federal law to begin with? If its a good idea states will take care of it. And if they don't well then that's their right. I mean, that is what's important here, state's rights. Who gives a shit if a pilot is blinded by a laser while flying over a state that doesn't have a bill outlawing such behavior on its books? It only matters if the state the pilot is flying over says it matters.

Who gives a shit if a gay couple wants to get married in Massachusetts? Who cares if New Mexico wants to allow all the illegal immigrants it can fit into its state so that they can have cheap labor? Who cares if a bunch of hippies in California want to smoke weed all day?

No need for the federal gov't to get involved in these affairs. If its a good idea states will take care of it. Because states know what's best for them. And other states don't care what they do because it has no effect on them.

I look forward to Mr. Paul proposing bills to end the federal war on drugs, the federal defense of marriage act, and federal immigration laws. After all, states ought to take care of that.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Did the Republicans compromise health reform repeal by embracing the tea party?

The Senate voted 51-47 to not repeal the ACA. That's a really slim vote that could have been closer if Republicans would have picked up a few more seats.

Two of the most popular candidates for Senate in the last election were Sharon Angle, who was running for Harry Reid's seat in Nevada, and Christine O'Donnell, who was running for Joe Biden's seat in Rhode Island. Both were tea party candidates who became popular for all of the crazy stuff they said.

Both candidates upset the Republican backed candidate who was polling well against the Democrat challengers. I don't remember how well the Rep was doing against Reid. That's in part because Reid scared off a lot of challengers. But considering Angle herself gave him a close race its not too difficult to imagine a less radical candidate making it even closer. I do remember that the candidate O'Donnell upset was a prohibitive favorite to win against the Democrat. But O'Donnell's victory virtually assured the Dem would win.

Assuming the Dems who won those seats voted against repealing the ACA, those two seats could have made the vote 49-49. That doesn't mean the ACA would have been repealed. If Biden was called on to break the tie he surely would have voted against repeal. And if not Obama would have vetoed it. But that would be embarrassing for Dems and Obama to have to do and it would have given the Reps about as good a victory as they could have realistically hoped for.

Republicans did nothing but embrace the tea party in the lead up to the last election. Its true that they don't control the primary process. But I think its possible that they gave credibility to the tea party and the dark horse candidates like Angle and O'Donnell. Sarah Palin, one of the most popular figures in the Republican party, endorsed both of them.

Firing up the base can serve a lot of good for your party. But not every state and district is representative of your base. And its going to be hard to get enough of those more moderate people to vote for less moderate candidates on a regular basis.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Duke vs. Maryland part 2

This time its at Maryland. Every time we play at Maryland I'm reminded of the game in 2001 in which we came back from 10 point deficit in the last minute.

Did the Democrats compromise health reform with the individual mandate?

Another judge has ruled the individual mandate unconstitutional. Putting aside the merits of that argument other than to say that in this recent decision they seem weak, I want to use a bit of hindsight to look back at when they passed the ACA.

The more I think about it the more I think Dems might have screwed up. The individual mandate wasn't their idea originally. It wasn't an idea liberals were married to. So its not like liberals would have hated the ACA without an individual mandate. And since it was originally a Rep idea (yes, I love pointing that out), they either thought Reps wouldn't oppose it on constitutional grounds or thought they would be able to win that argument.

Holding off for a second on the merits of Dems winning a political argument in the court of public opinion, you can't overlook the fact that the Supreme Court is fairly conservative at the moment. So if they simply thought they could win the argument that was quite the risk being wagered on the whims of Justice Kennedy's opinion.

And if they simply didn't think Reps would oppose it on constitutional grounds then I'm afraid I've overestimated the political strategic thinking of Dems, which is saying something because my regard for it wasn't high to begin with.

Using hindsight, which is admittedly a bit unfair, I have to wonder if there was another policy that could have achieved what the mandate hopes to achieve that wouldn't raise the same constitutional questions. For instance, the guy who came up with the individual mandate suggests this:

My fix would be to simply say raise everyone’s taxes by what a health insurance policy would cost -- Congress definitely has the power to do that -- and then tell people that if they obtain insurance, they'll get a tax break of the same amount. So instead of a penalty, it’s a perfectly legal tax break. But this seems to me to angelic pinhead density arguments about whether it’s a payment to do something or not to do something.

I'm not sure if that would have the same effect of the mandate as far as convincing people to buy insurance. But it would without a doubt be constitutional. And I don't see why it would have cause Dems who were on the fence about voting for the ACA to balk at voting for it.

If Justice Kennedy decides that the mandate is unconstitutional Dems will have to look back on what they did and ask these questions. As long as the whole bill isn't repealed they will still have insured a lot of people who otherwise wouldn't have had insurance. But it will be a significant political victory for conservatives and it will make it even more difficult to further reform health care.