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Did the Framers anticipate contentious budget negotiations?*

In his latest column, Michael Barone objects to the use of the terms “bicker” and “squabble” to describe the contentious negotiations between congressional leaders and the White House over the budget:

You’ve seen those verbs often if you’ve been reading about the budget struggles between the Republican-controlled House, the Democratic-majority Senate, and the strangely detached Obama White House.

The implication is negative. Children bicker. Small-minded people squabble. When you use those verbs to describe the actions or words of John Boehner, Harry Reid and Barack Obama you are implying that they are arguing about trifles.

But they’re not. They were arguing about big things, vast flows of money, public policies with real consequences.

. . . .

The fact is that the Obama Democrats increased the size and scope of government beyond anything ever seen except in World War II. The Republicans are trying to reverse this trend. Far from arguing about trivia, both Democrats and Republicans are arguing about the most fundamental issues of domestic public policy.

Read the whole thing; it’s well worth you time.  Barone offers an excellent analysis of the dynamics of negotiations and how such negotiations play out in light of the constitution’s provision for different terms of office for the president, representatives and Senators (those last in staggered terms).

*BTW, this is our 8,000th post since we moved from Blogspot.

White House Bars Gay Group from military families’ event

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 8:44 pm - April 12, 2011.
Filed under: Gays In Military,Obama and Gay Issues

The folks at Servicemembers United, a group “which represents gay and lesbian troops and veterans” repotst “that the White House had barred civilian representatives of gay and lesbian military families from” a White House event spearheaded by First Lady Michelle Obama and Second Lady Jill Biden honoring military families:

“It is rather unfortunate that both East Wing and West Wing staff have refused to allow a representative of gay military families to even be in the room at an event that is supposed to honor their commitment and sacrifice,” said Alexander Nicholson, Executive Director of Servicemembers United.

Kristina Schake, Communications Director for the First Lady, explained the decision this way in an email to CBS News.

“The President has been crystal clear that the Administration is moving forward with the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ quickly and efficiently,” she said. “However, it still remains the law. The White House, including the First Lady and Dr. Biden, look forward to working with the families of gay and lesbian service members after certification occurs and repeal goes into effect.”

Nicholson, from Servicemembers United, complained in his statement that “[t]he First Lady’s office has used the continued enforcement of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ as an excuse to exclude us, even though they know that ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ does not apply to the civilians who work at their advocacy and service organizations.”

I’m sure other gay organizations will be rushing to criticize the White House for not including this group.

Stupid Pedestrians

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 6:03 pm - April 12, 2011.
Filed under: LA Stories

Today, when returning home from running a quick errand, I had to brake my car when, not twenty yards in front of me (if that), a woman, after looking both ways, starting crossing the street (and not at an intersection).  It seemed she was doing the exact opposite of what we teach kids.  If you see a car, we tell them, wait to cross.  This woman acted as if her mere gesture of looking indicated that cars should stop for her.

At least she looked.

Several months ago, when driving in my neighborhood, I turned onto my street to see a woman crossing a few yards before the next intersection.  I calculated that by the time I reached the place where she was crossing, she would be safely across.  Yet, all of a sudden, without looking up, she pulled out her cellphone and started texting — in the middle of the street.  Her pace slowed.  I had to brake to avoid hitting her.

Another time, a woman, again in the middle of the street (and not at an intersection where she would have had the right of way), emerged from behind a van while walking her dog and looking at her phone.  So oblivious was she to the street, she didn’t give any sign of noticing when I slammed on the brakes to avoid hitting her.

Given that the van was much higher than she was tall, there was no way a driver could have seen her until she was in the middle of the street.  At least with the other two women, I had been able to see them before they crossed into the street.

Today’s experience just got me wondering (and not for the first time):  in a city like LA with very aggressive drivers, why do some pedestrians act as if crossing the street were no different from taking a stroll in their own back yards?

On Donald Trump, Birthers & the 2012 GOP Field

There is something both fascinating and appalling about all this focus, particularly among politicos on the 2012 presidential election.  Most Americans, I would daresay, are barely even paying attention.  And yes already some are reporting that Republicans are wringing their hands in despair at the quality of the field (via Memeorandum).

Shouldn’t we at least wait until the fall of this year to begin speculating about who will be throwing their hat into the ring?

Lately, we have seen a lot of focus on Donald Trump, who, in a recent CNN poll, “tied with Mike Huckabee for first place when Republicans are asked who they support for the GOP presidential nomination in 2012“.  The real estate mogul is also saying that  he “will ‘probably’ run as an independent candidate for U.S. President in 2012 if he does not receive the Republican party’s nomination,” which, as Ed Morrissey puts it, means the all-but-certain reelection an an unpopular incumbent:

Trump has the money (at least for now) to mount a vanity campaign as a third-party alternative to the two major-party nominees.  This would end up splitting the anti-Obama vote and set the President up for an easy re-election through a popular-vote plurality that would translate into an overwhelming Electoral College majority.

Right now, it seems that Trump is as interested in generating headlines as he is in running the country. (more…)

Another issue for the civility police

H/t: Gateway Pundit

Somewhat related: Liberal Blogger: Sarah Palin Hatred a “Pathetically Silly Right-Wing Talking Point,” They Know “It’s Bullshit”… (via Instapundit).

I’m sure the editorial board of the New York Times is already on top of this.

“Equality California” Prefers Democratic Hack to Gay Republican

You’d think that a group that advocates for gay rights would want to elect a gay Republican to Congress. When his fellow partisans see that a gay man supports them on the key issues of the days, cutting the size and scope of the federal government, increasing individual and economic liberty, securing our borders, Republican legislators would be less likely to see gay people as just another Democratic interest group.

More aware of the diversity of the gay community, Republicans working with a gay man might be more supportive of state recognition of same-sex civil unions and might be willing to move forward on legislation facilitating the immigration of same-sex domestic partners.

But, instead of developing new strategies to sway Republicans, the party likely to hold the House majority at least through the next Congress, gay leaders seem ever eager to prove their allegiance to the Democratic Party. An openly gay man, Mike Gin, the accomplished mayor of Redondo Beach, is running as a Republican to fill the seat vacated by Jane Harman who resigned her South Bay (Los Angeles County) seat “to become president and CEO of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars“.

Despite Mike’s sexuality and his record, the gay and lesbian auxiliary of the California Democratic Party Equality California, through its PAC, is backing Democrat Debra BowenALSO

Join me in supporting an accomplished gay civil servant who could help enact real reforms in Washington.  You can support Mike by clicking here.

FROM THE COMMENTS:  Benjamin in WeHo offers an important insight:

Mike Gin has been married to his husband for 16 years. EQCA is a marriage-equality organization. How could anyone be more EQCA-y than Mike Gin? Debra Bowen is an ordinary straight woman with no special relationship with gay people. Mike Gin could show social conservatives that gays have family values. They aren’t all Ted Haggards and Roy Ashburns.

All conservatives and Republicans who are concerned about gay rights should support Mike Gin in any way they can. This is a special election that will receive enormous national attention after the primary, and it is one of the first elections ever where a respectable, married gay man has a strong chance of winning a seat in Congress.

ALSO FROM THE COMMENTS:  This comes as no surprise to Mark Noonan who recalls “back in 1980 when liberal Republican Millicent Fenwick was running for re-election the feminist groups backed her male, Democrat opponent. Its all about the party and all liberal groups are mere auxiliaries of the Democrat party.”

Did WI Teachers’ Unions Break Law to Protest Walker’s Reforms?

Ann Althouse links a post whose author David Blaska claims to have found the “smoking gun” that the teacher sick-out which closed “Madison schools for five days in February” was “an illegal, union-coordinated, illegal strike”:

Now there is proof that the sickout was a premeditated, union-authorized job action  — a phone tree of teachers calling other teachers to close down the schools. This kind of activity is prohibited by the union’s own contract and illegal in WI Statute Chapter 111.84(2)(e):

It is unfair practice for an employee individually or in concert with others: To engage in, induce or encourage any employees to engage in a strike, or a concerted refusal to work or perform their usual duties as employees.

Read the whole thing which includes an e-mail about the call and audio of the call in question.  I’m no expert in Wisconsin law, but Althouse teaches law at the University of Wisconsin — and saw fit to link the post.

You can bet this would get a lot more attention if an interest group allied with the GOP had tried to coordinate similar activity.

The budget deal: a good first step, but only a first step

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 1:18 am - April 12, 2011.
Filed under: Big Government Follies,Congress (112th)

While, given the totality of the circumstances, I would score the recent budget deal as a “win” for the GOP and conservatives, perhaps it would be more accurate to say that rather than win this round in the the budget “battle,” conservatives merely gained more than they gave up.

Yes, our federal debt still remains unacceptably high, but two of the three principal parties (President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Reid) are Democrats.  That the sole Republican in the trio, House Speaker John Boehner, managed to secure nearly two-third of the cuts passed by his chamber is quite an achievement.  Given the ratio in the negotiations, it should have been the other way ’round.

That said, this is only the time for a victory lap if that lap serves as a brief respite before preparing for the next “race.”  Over at Patterico, Aaron Worthing blogged that “more than a few” of his readers “noticed that I was a little irritated by the victory dance“:

I wasn’t trying to bash the Republicans for the deal on its merits.  They only control one house of Congress, after all.  But if I had been there, I would not have put up with that celebratory attitude.

Fair point, and Worthing does give the Speaker credit for his statement yesterday where the Ohio Republican acknowledged that “the agreement is far from perfect, and we need to do much more if we’re serious about creating new jobs, fixing our spending-driven debt crisis“.  And that’s exactly where I am—and where I suspect most conservatives are.  A good first step, but only a first step. (more…)