Thursday, May 20, 2010

Tea Party/Republican Budget Cutting Fun

A group with the oxymoronic sounding name of The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget has come up with a budget cutting calculator you can use to figure out where to slash our enourmous debt. The goal is to get the federal debt to 60% of GDP by 2018, which the group says is necessary to stabilize the debt crisis. Currently, the debt is expected to be 85% of GDP by 2018.

The calculator works by having you make choices of where to raise revenue (pronounced "taxes") and where to wield your budget cutting axe.

I decided to give it a whirl, from a tea bagger/Republican perspective.

So. I cut taxes every opportunity I had. Bush tax cuts of 2001/20003? Kept 'em. Lowered tax rates on corporations. Refused all options to raise taxes or fees.

And based on the Republican position during the recent health care debacle debate, I didn't touch Medicare or Social Security. I repealed Obamacare. And I passed medical tort reform.

My tea bags were on fire! I killed the remnants of TARP and rescinded any unspent money from the stimulus. Ha! Goodbye, socialism!

I left current defense spending stand. I cut foreign aid. I cut every education program I was offered. I cut earmarks. And the federal workforce. I increased veterans benefits. Cut missions to Mars and the Moon (which hurt, having grown up in the glorious Apollo era).

Having done my tea-baggerish best, I hit the "done" button. Uh-oh! The debt in 2018 with my GOP cuts was 81 percent of GDP. Fiscal crisis! Quick, let's talk about Islamic extremism! Besides, Dick Cheney said deficits don't matter, right? Look over there, Obama's giving Miranda rights to terrorists!

After calming down, I decided to take another stab. I reduced troop levels in Iraq and Afghanistan. I cancelled missile defense and downscaled the budget for big navy ships. And I cut foreign aid (for kicks and giggles).

I reduced the size of the 2001/2003 tax cuts (but didn't eliminate them entirely). I did eliminate corporate tax cuts and itemized deductions for the wealthy. I raised user fees.

I didn't cut Medicare or Social Security benefits, but did raise the age of eligibility (to 67). I cut earmarks and farm subsidies. Kept education expenditures. Kept TARP and Recovery funds. I did cut the size of the federal workforce.

I passed cap and trade.

And (dammit!) I kept the Moon and Mars missions. We've got to have some vision beyond this horizon, yes?

I hit the "done" button and DING DING DING I achieved the 60% of GDP needed to save the free world.

Now, I'm not a fiscal expert and maybe a real tea bagger would make different choices that would somehow get to the magic 60%. But the Republicans (and the general public) don't seem to want to touch defense, Medicare or Social Security which taken together accounts for about 60% of the federal budget. You take that and a refusal to raise taxes or fees and you have mammoth debts. Refusal to acknowledge that is refusal to be serious.

But you try. And let me know how it goes.

The Cornyn Defense of Rand Paul

Sen. John Cornyn (R-WTF) offered this defense of KY Republican Senate candidate Rand Paul's statement on Maddow last night the Civil Rights Act went too far and government shouldn't prevent business from discriminating on the basis of color:

“I think it was sort of a gotcha question,” Cornyn said of Maddow’s approach. “If I’m walking down the street minding my own business and somebody sticks a microphone under my nose about a law that was passed 40 years ago, without more detail — I think it probably caught him a little bit by surprise.”

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Why My Coworkers Don't Talk to Me

E-mail from a co-worker to the office:

There is an edible arrangement of cut fruit (some in chocolate) in the kitchen. Please go and eat as much of it as you can right now!

My response:

Thanks, but I'm holding out for the uncut fruit.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Armageddon Predicted for Later Today

UPDATE: We got some rain, a few rumbles of thunder. The giant blue arrow of death never materialized.

Is it me, or are weather graphics getting too dramatic?

Sexuality Not So Private

In its continuing coverage of the "Is Kagan gay?" story, the WaPo opens with this lede:

As long as there has been gossip about people in public life, there has been a debate about the relevance of a very private matter: sexual orientation (emphasis added).

But is sexuality really a private matter? Didn't everyone know that John Roberts and Sam Alito were hets? Was it an invasion of privacy to mention Roberts' wife in the coverage of his confirmation? Is the fact of their sexuality something that was the subject of tawdry gossip and innuendo? John Roberts is straight. Big deal. A lot of people are. If Elena Kagan were a lesbian, again, big deal, a lot of people are.

But here's the difference. For heterosexuals, sexuality is a simple fact of life, as automatic as breathing. That goes for gay men and women who are out and simply living their lives without pretense. The only people for whom sexuality is a "very private matter" are those hidden in the closet. Their sexuality is a carefully guarded secret for which they will expend great personal energy hiding. Openly gay folks, like their straight brothers and sisters, weave their relationships into all the other facets of their lives. They take their significant others to family gatherings, indulge in public displays of affection, recount what they did last weekend together at the office and so on. For the closeted, these relationships are carefully screened off from public view.

This squirreling away of a central component of your life marginalizes and trivializes it. For example, the Post writes about the demand:

that the nominee come forward with details of what goes on, or doesn't, in her bedroom.

And that's wrong. Of course no one should know what goes on in some one else's bedroom. But sexuality is about a lot more than what happens in the bedroom. It's about finding love and companionship with someone and then building your entire life around that someone. It's a key part of one's central humanity. A part of humanity that -- gay and straight -- we share in common. And because it's common it's really not a big deal. Unless we try to hide and deny it.

Then, and only then, does it become, to borrow a phrase from the Vice President, a big fucking deal.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Kagan Gay Question

Andrew asks (repeatedly, ad nauseum) if Kagan is gay.

I can't decide if it's a fair question. And it is bothersome that the White House treated the assertion that she is gay as a "charge."

I tend to think that if she's gay it shouldn't be an issue but if she's in the closet it should be a matter of concern. I have never met someone who has spent their entire adulthood in the closet who hasn't had their psyche stunted in some way. George Rekers, Larry Craig, Ted Haggerd, witnesses for the prosecution.

But I think what bothers me about Sullivan's insistence on the question is his suggestion that her gayness (or, for that matter, her straightness) would have bearing on how she would rule. This coupling of a person's background with their Court decision-making troubles me. It did when Obama made the connection in nominating Sotomayor. Yes, it's obvious that a person's background, ethnicity, sexual orientation, family life, etc would shape their personal thoughts and opinions. But if judicial restraint means anything it should mean the discipline to balance those beliefs against the rule of law and legal precedent.

In short, if Kagan ever rules that DADT or DOMA is unconstitutional, I hope that it would be from her service to the law and not service to her community.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Appreciating Desi

I was sick this weekend and found myself watching I Love Lucy. In one episode Lucy has hired a snooty English professor to give her, Ricky and the Mertz's English lessons. I'm still cracking up over this exchange:

Prof: There are two words you must never use. One is "swell" and the other is "lousy."
Fred: Give us the lousy one first.

Now, we watch this show because of course we love Lucy. But I don't think we love Desi enough. This guy was really talented, as an actor and a musician. Not to mention producer. His innovations for I Love Lucy are now the standard for sit-coms, even to this day.

Here's a clip of him showing his ability to weave music, comedy and romance. And what a dashing guy he was.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

My Kid Eats Better than Your Kid

Eli has returned to the West Coast with Pappa and I am cleaning out the remaining Eli food from the fridge that I know we won't eat. My neighbor who has two kids around Eli's age was in his backyard, so I hollered over, "Hey, I've got two lunchables here left over from Eli's trip, do you want them?"

"No," he replied, "Our kids aren't allowed to eat lunchables."

Well. Um. Well, my kid isn't allowed to eat lunchables either, I just made it sound like that so you wouldn't be embarassed if you took them.

Fully humiliated, I dumped the offensive food in the garbage. I could have left them out for the rats, but was afraid they would be above eating it.