Friday, November 21, 2014

 

Looking Back

I'm thinking about the impressive political things I have lived to see live on TV during my lifetime.


I saw Pres. Kennedy tell us about nuclear weapons in Cuba.


I saw Kennedy's assassin shot by Jack Ruby on the Sunday after the Friday Kennedy killing (the weekend without cartoons).


I saw Gov. George Wallace (D-AL) stand in the door way to prevent black students from entering UA.


I saw Bill Buckley threaten to punch Gore Vidal in the face and I then saw cops hit hippies over the head, repeatedly, with nightsticks in Chicago in 1968.


I saw Nixon leave the White House in disgrace, the only President to resign a few steps ahead of the impeachment.


I saw Reagan talk about paying for a microphone.


I saw Michael Dukakis riding in a tank with a ridiculous helmet on his head.


I saw Democrat election judges looking hard at un-dimpled ballots in Florida.


I saw young George Bush talk about Justice through a loud speaker in downtown NYC not a full year into his presidency.


And I watched tonight a president, knowing for a fact that it was wrong, illegal, unconstitutional, and beyond his power, usurp illegal powers to thwart the People's will in an action that contain the seeds of political ruin for our great country.


So I've seen some important TV here and there.

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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

 

What Shellacking Part Two Has Done to the Lefty Columnists

As it stands now, the Republicans are plus 8 in the Senate and almost certainly to be plus 9 after Mary Landrieu goes down in December run off. Instead of taking back the House, as several Democrats were predicting just a few months ago, the Democrats lost a net 12 and there are 5 seats still in contention and Republicans lead (slightly) in three and the two in Louisiana will certainly suffer the Landrieu treatment in December. So perhaps the House will be plus 17. Most governors are Republicans and most state houses and senates are Republican. So the midterms were not a fatal blow to the Democrats but the results really hurt and the majorities in the House and in the states at least might last a decade or more. With Shellacking Part Two, the Democrats are striking out at the winners in an ever more perplexingly dishonest way. Here are but two examples: Brian Beutler at the New Republic and Jamelle Bouie at Slate.


Let's deal with Mr. Bouie first. He's the guy who saw rampant racism in a jury hung on one count in the loud music murder case in Florida. I wrote then that the state would retry the hung count and probably prevail and it did and the jury convicted and Mr. Bouie bravely said not a single thing about his pointless rant. Here he's lashing out at the evil and stupid Republicans for forcing President Obama to violate his oath of office and the constitutional mandates and limitations on his executive power (again). It's just too inane to talk about further.


Beutler's piece is just as inane but it contains a classic tantrum. For background, Beutler acknowledges that there are two distinct, bad groups of Jonathan Gruber videos--the ones where he repeatedly says the Democrats had to lie to get Obamacare (the ACA) passed because the American voters are stupid and the ones where he said the purpose of making subsidies only available to users of state exchanges was to put political pressure on the states to establish such insurance exchanges. Buetler sees the two sets of videos as conjoined in an evil (but perhaps not stupid this time) Republican plot to destroy the unpopular and horrible ACA in the Supreme Court. He writes:


But the controversies are actually conjoined, and the link between them explains why the right isn’t merely going to run Gruber’s name through the mud, but probably haul him in front of a congressional committee or two and recapitulate his sins every day until the Supreme Court determines the fate of the Affordable Care Act for a second time. The two Grubergates are being deployed together in service of a common goal.
That goal is for the Supreme Court’s five conservatives to hobble the law without fear that their decision will be interpretedcorrectlyas a spite-driven judicial logrolling of a statute conservatives hate. (Emphasis added).


Yeah, the right is going to run Jonathan "Hans" Gruber's name through the mud by showing old clips of him speaking. Those bastards! How dare they show people what Gruber actually said.


But the real drivel is the notion that the Supreme Court Justices will rule in the King v Burwell case because of spite and political partisanship.


No, boy wonder, the Justices will rule on the ACA and the IRS regulations based only on well established rules of statutory construction of which you seem abysmally ignorant. This is more projection from the left because their Justices sometimes actually do rule on cases based on spite and political partisanship.


Here, in passing, is another head scratcher:


To do the right's bidding, the justices will need confidence that the public and the media won’t perceive an adverse ruling in King v. Burwell as unwarranted or out of the ordinary. Never mind that the ACA debate was, in reality, the most transparent legislative processes in the recent history of big Congressional action. One of the people who helped make it possible says the opposite. And it’s easier for the Court to do damage to an illegitimate law, or one built on a foundation of lies, than one that has achieved consensus.


What universe was he inhabiting when the ACA was passed into law? There were no legislative committee hearings about any actual language of the Act, extremely limited floor debate, and no one who voted for it had ever read it before the vote. If these are earmarks of transparency, what would a secretive bill's passage look like? Oh, and for support of his absolutely mistaken statement of the ACA's "transparent legislative process" he links to himself in an article which contains not a single fact in support of his false statement here. It does contain statements about Gruber's videos which apparently no longer apply, but no statements about transparency of the ACA's passage because there was none, particularly about the language of the statute. None!


I really don't mind being lectured to by what passes as the left's intelligentsia, but at least they should stop lying about their side's lying. That destroys any molecule of persuasive power these pieces could theoretically contained.


But the real take away from this groundless ad hominem attack on the Supreme Court before it rules is a very clear sign that even the flavorade drinking Democrats know that they will very likely lose the Burwell case next June and are attempting now to prepare the faithful for a delusional belief that the results were fixed, merely political and not legitimate statute construction. Good luck with that.


I'm enjoying the Democrats delusional meltdown now that things are going Republicans' way as much as I've enjoyed the Midterm results and the kicked in the stomach look the lefty talking heads had during coverage of that massacre.

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Monday, November 10, 2014

 

A Legal Conundrum--How Do We Know What Legislators Intended Except Through What They Drafted?

When hack political pundit Paul Krugman writes about foreign work forces, a subject for which he won the Nobel Prize in Economics, I believe him, because all I've ever read about economics was by Karl Marx. However, when he writes about legal subjects, particularly statutory construction by courts, as he did here yesterday, he's on my turf and I have a lot to say in direct contradiction.


I've written a few times about why the rules of statutory construction seem to doom the IRS regulations that allow federal subsidies be paid to people who buy health insurance policies on federal exchanges. That's something the plain language of the ACA (Obamacare) prohibits. Let's take a look at Paul's two cents on the subject, (two cents is way too much to pay for his drivel). Here we go.


He calls interpreting the statute as written a frivolous attack. I'm not sure he knows what frivolous means. He starts off with a story about a county clerk fixing the poorly drafted property description on a deed of his parent's house filed in that county. I have no doubt that county clerks have that power. Judges, on the other hand, looking at statutes don't have the power to amend absent extraordinary circumstances. First and foremost is the problem, how do we know what the legislators meant to say outside of the language they drafted, voted on and passed? The short answer is we don't. Here's Mr. Krugman's non- judgemental posing of the problem.


It’s a ridiculous claim; not only is it clear from everything else in the act that there was no intention to set such limits, you can ask the people who drafted the law what they intended, and it wasn’t what the plaintiffs claim. But the fact that the suit is ridiculous is no guarantee that it won’t succeed — not in an environment in which all too many Republican judges have made it clear that partisan loyalty trumps respect for the rule of law.


It is not clear in "everything else in the act" that the sections being examined do not say what they say. The only thing that's clear is the language of the sections under review. They say what they say. Paul can't seem to imagine that judges have rules for independent review of statutes and "ask[ing] the people who drafted the law" is not what you do. At least not first. He imagines that judges who follow the rules of statutory construction are doing it for political advantage. He's projecting. The construction rules are the opposite of partisan. Mean spirited Krugman, who senses a loss here, says that by making the decision to come the judges are doing something wrong, (not having a principled disagreement). This is the quintessential Democrat view of the opposition. Oh, and we don't ask the bill's drafters now, because they are unreliable witnesses, given to partisan lying. We look, if necessary, at the contemporary history of the drafting.


The subsidies for poor people forced to buy health insurance are available only for state run exchanges (markets) of which there are about a dozen and a half. That's what the law says. Clearly. Mr. Krugman seems to acknowledge this grudgingly.



But if you look at the specific language authorizing those subsidies, it could be taken — by an incredibly hostile reader — to say that they’re available only to Americans using state-run exchanges, not to those using the federal exchanges.


His idea of "an incredibly hostile" reading is looking at the language of the statute and giving all words there their plain meaning. That's hostile? Only if you are a Democrat, apparently.


But how do we know that the law wasn't meant to say what it says? Again, Krugman says ask any Democrat now what they intended to write (but didn't). Sorry, that's evidence never used by Courts in interpreting laws.


Did the Democrats mean to put political pressure on the states to have a state exchange by limiting the subsidies to purchases only on the state exchanges--unavailable to people in states were the local government did not set up an exchange? I say yes and my source is not the NYT but the man generally considered to be the architect of the ACA, Mr. Gruber, who contemporaneously stated here (at least twice) that the law was indeed designed to put just that pressure on state governments because, exactly as it says, mirable dictu, only state exchanges can get federal subsidies for policies sold to the poor.


I take it as a sign that Krugman knows better and knows he's probably going to lose this that he goes, as Democrats are wont to do, completely ad hominem at the end. You probably don't have the winning argument if your big finish is to call the people deciding this corrupt. More projection.


Once upon a time, this lawsuit would have been literally laughed out of court. Instead, however, it has actually been upheld in some lower courts, on straight party-line votes — and the willingness of the Supremes to hear it is a bad omen.
So let’s be clear about what’s happening here. Judges who support this cruel absurdity aren’t stupid; they know what they’re doing. What they are, instead, is corrupt, willing to pervert the law to serve political masters. And what we’ll find out in the months ahead is how deep the corruption goes.


Only those who accept, or actually expect, corrupt motives in their allies, routinely accuse their enemies of corruption without evidence of corruption. Krugman's revealing a lot about his thinking here but nothing about what the Court is supposed to do.


Anyway, we'll know by July next year. I am reasonably confident the Court will follow the well established rules of construction and rule the ACA says what it says.

UPDATE: Mr. Frey completely agrees with my analysis. I take that as a good sign.




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Friday, November 07, 2014

 

Catch a Wave and You're Sitting on Top of the World

Good election. We're plus 9 (almost certainly) in the US Senate, so 54-44-2 and Republican control. Another dozen or so in the House, the most Republican members of the House since the 20s. Several more Republican Governors with a few losses here and there but no one famous nation wide. More of the state houses and senates in Republican control. More women. More black candidates successful. More Republican vets in office. Younger candidates, making the Democrats look as old and tired as their policies and election strategies. The Democrats pouty and petulant. Obama in prickly denial becoming ever more irrelevant. What is there not to like about Tuesday's results?

Here is a replay of 2010 gloatfest Glenn Beck only because the one he and his crew did yesterday was pretty lame. It's still very funny.

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Thursday, November 06, 2014

 

Thought of the Day

New Republic, January 14, 2014: Stupid filibuster!
The Filibuster Does Not Protect Minority Interests
New Republic, September 29, 2014: Stupid filibuster!
Killing the “Nuclear Option” Will Not Save the Senate. It Will Ruin Obama’s Final Two Years
New Republic, March 7, 2013: Stupid unconstitutional filibuster!
Is the Filibuster Unconstitutional?
New Republic, July 15, 2013: Stupid filibuster!
Bring on the Nuclear Option!
New Republic, August 6, 2013: Stupid filibuster!
Harry Reid Should Kill the Filibuster, for Real This Time. Democrats have all the leverage. Why won’t they use it?
New Republic, November 21, 2013: Stupid filibuster!
Nuking the Filibuster Is Great. Sanctimonious Beltway Types Just Won’t Admit It.
New Republic, November 4, 2014 (just after GOP retakes the Senate): Second look at the filibuster?
Democrats Should Use the Filibuster Ruthlessly Against the Republican Senate
Hackery is fun to watch, isn’t it?

Patrick Frey

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Saturday, October 25, 2014

 

Movie Review - Fury

Saw the new, decent WWII flick, Fury. Here are my thoughts. As usual, this is a review, not a preview, so I reveal all details. You should only read this after you see it yourself. It's set in the last full month of WWII-European Theater in western Germany. We've won the war but some of the Germans haven't been keeping up on current events. The fanatics fight on.



Pitt and crew are in a slightly upgraded M4 Sherman tank, whose military alpha-numerical designation ended in E8, so these tanks were called Easy Eights. It has a 76mm gun with a muzzle brake and a better engine. Our canons did not develop the muzzle velocity of the same caliber German canons; and in some of the tanks, the Germans fielded even bigger guns, namely the 88mm. We made up for the fact that our tanks were inferior to the PKWs V and VI (Panthers and Tigers) by having a lot more tanks. I think we produced 60,000 Shermans during the war; the Germans did not break 8,000 Tigers and Panthers (3/4 of that production was of Panthers). The movie succeeds best where it shows the unrelenting horrors of tank warfare undercut by an equally intense camaraderie among the crew. Oh, and it uses the elegant definition of heroism, defense of a narrow place against odds, to the limit.



Problems: It is often very difficult to hear what our guys are saying. Most of the German lines were crisp and clear. What's up with that? The forced murder of the German in an American coat is nasty and pointless. (My cousin, who fought there and wrote one of Dick Cheney's favorite books about it, said we didn't start killing prisoners until after D-Day. He never mentioned a particular antipathy to Waffen SS). The lunch with the two Fräulein is nasty and pointless. In the real war, if the soldiers in the SS Brigade were hell bent on doing maxim damage in a suicide attack and had even the least bit of experience, they would have spent no more than a minute or two trying to take out the immobilized Sherman with one or two panzerfausts and then, if that failed, they would have gone around the tank, by an out of range path, to commit suicide against a less determined force further west. Under no circumstances would they have stood around shooting it with mere bullets. That's just stupid. It's inches of steel all around. Perhaps a 3 HL magnetic mine would have been helpful. Additionally, don't the hatches on tanks have a locking mechanism? In Saving Private Ryan, our guys just lift up the faux Tiger tank's main hatch (which was nothing like a real Tiger hatch) and drop in grenades. Same here. Couldn't the tankers twist a handle or something to prevent the enemy from opening the hatch from the outside? Jeez, I have to think up everything around here. The guy who played Shane on Walking Dead has the nickname "Coon-ass" but he brags about being from North Georgia. Isn't 'coonass' uniquely related to Cajuns? Yes. He's the loader while Shia la whatever is the gunner. Pitt is the commander. The 76mm gun would probably have penetrated the front armor of the Tiger that close and the best shot was probably from the side not the rear, this flick and Kelly's Heroes notwithstanding. It's OK to be behind the turret shooting the M2 .50 BMG at an enemy in front of the tank, but that configuration is not so hot when the tank is surrounded by enemy infantry. Oh, and wouldn't the sniper, so close, have taken the head shot right away? I think so. Finally, I had an uncle in the 10th Armored Division (he fought in Bastogne) and he would tell me stories about losing numerous tanks to German armor. As a child, I had difficulty understanding how we won the war. He credited air power, which was totally missing in this movie (except for the huge bomber formation shown once).



The pickiest I can be is about a tiny detail from the interior of the tank. They have a lot of Nazi medals strung up inside. One of the medals they showed was a Mothers Cross. It is a blue and white, elongated, miniature Maltese cross thing with a central glory thing and a blue and white ribbon. It is very well designed; I might even say beautiful. But it was given to women for having children for the Reich. So it's possible some soldier was keeping his wife's medal for some reason, but the most likely place an American soldier would have obtained one was off a woman and where's the honor, the counting coup, the scalp taking, in that? Just seemed really unlikely to me. The pogues in the back had this medal as a souvenir, not the macho boys on the front. They had collections of men's medals for bravery, Knights Crosses with oak leaves and swords, etc., not some fecundity award. I write this mistake up to an art director's aesthetic taste overwhelming his or her sense of history.


It is very cool that Pitt has picked up an STG 44 and uses it instead of a grease gun (M-3). I have been singing the praises of the first assault rifle for a long time at this site (because it deserves it) and the choice by Pitt shows his weapon savvy. There was a device you could attach to the barrel of the STG which allowed you to shoot around corners. It was developed for tankers to shoot Russians swarming on their tanks. Might of made something of that oddity. It seemed a handful to bring up out of a tight hatch. No problem with that with the M-3.


So this is perhaps too technical a review. I am an avid fan of WWII history. The director's earlier work includes the unrelentingly tense Training Day (he wrote it) and the similar End of Watch (wrote and directed). As I said, it's a good movie. A lot of people are seeing it. If you haven't seen it yet, see it this weekend.

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Thursday, October 23, 2014

 

Well Equipped Enemy

 
 
These are Volksturm militiamen, German home Army 'troops,' in January 1945 being trained in the use of the 3HL magnetic mine against a Panther tank. It was a shaped charge so it blasted molten metal at speed through the armor and into the tank destroying it. But you had to be brave.

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