Tuesday, March 22, 2011

What Kind Of Day Has It Been

  • The No Fly Zone over Libya got more complicated today, as Turkey blocked NATO's taking command of the operation. The United States, which is currently in operational control of coalition forces, is trying to extricate itself from that role as quickly as possible. AFRICOM, the youngest U.S. Combatant Command, is getting quite a bit of exposure from the Libyan operations.

  • Moshe Katav, former President of Israel, has been sentenced to seven years imprisonment for rape.

  • Romney accuses Obama of a "fundamental disbelief in American exceptionalism." That makes him a realist, right? Imagine, a President who makes foreign policy decisions on the basis of the national interest and not blind ideology.

  • More inconsistently fiscally conservative Republicans. I wonder how much the tax payers will end up shelling out in the inevitable taxpayer suit challenging this if it becomes law?

9 comments:

Colin said...

Let me be clear that the House vote on "In God we Trust" is a complete waste of time, but to use that as a cudgel to bash them for fiscal inconsistency simply because it might face a lawsuit is really a stretch.

Ben said...

Colin,

It's not simply because "it might face a lawsuit" it's because (1) it costs money to engrave "In God We Trust" on buildings; and (2) it will result in a lawsuit. There's no stretch there. It's a certainty. And, if you disagree, I would be more than willing to enter a wager that, should it become law, there will be a lawsuit. Name your stakes.

Colin said...

You're right, it does cost money to engrave the motto. However, the language of the bill requires and mandates nothing. Here is the operative language of the bill in its entirety:

That Congress reaffirms `In God We Trust' as the official motto of the United States and supports and encourages the public display of the national motto in all public buildings, public schools, and other government institutions.

How many government buildings are going to rush out and hire someone to engrave the motto simply because the House passes a resolution encouraging them to do so? I'm guessing not very many, if any.

I readily concede that the resolution is likely to face a lawsuit, but that's still pretty thin gruel with which to attack the GOP fiscal record.

Ben said...

I readily concede that the resolution is likely to face a lawsuit, but that's still pretty thin gruel with which to attack the GOP fiscal record.

I disagree. It's one of a growing set of data points demonstrating, at best, inconsistency among the GOP "budget hawks." At worse, it's out-an-out ideologically-driven hypocrisy. This, along with food stamps versus farm subsidies, and the inevitable future examples of politically motivated spending, should be highlighted and I will do my best to do so. Further, I'd like to suggest that you can't have it both ways; if you think budgets should be cut across the board--which, from our exchanges, I gather is your point of view--then you should join me in highlighting this nonsense. No unnecessary spending and no putting the federal government of making said expenditures.

Colin said...

No, I stated very early on I think this resolution is a waste of time, but to cite this as fiscal irresponsbility simply because government lawyers will have to deal with a lawsuit strikes me as a real stretch (serious question: how much will defending against a lawsuit cost anyway? Aren't the lawyers already on the government payroll?). It's comparable to someone railing against junk food being caught eating half a Tic Tac.

As for your crusade against GOP hypocrisy, have at it -- I imagine there will be no shortage of material to work with. But hey, at least they are making some efforts, however half-hearted, to get the country's fiscal house in order. I suppose one can't accuse the Democrats of hypocrisy on this front because they have made no pretentions to fiscal responsibility in the first place.

Ben said...

serious question: how much will defending against a lawsuit cost anyway? Aren't the lawyers already on the government payroll?

Serious answer: it depends on how far the plaintiffs and the government attorneys push the suit. Stuff like this -- establishment clause suits -- tend to go at least through the appellate level. Any further costs depend on whether cert is granted by the Court.

Yes, some lawyers are on payroll. But the costs of suits are not simply the costs of the lawyer's salary. Moreover, there are opportunity costs to consider -- you know, defending the government for things that matter. Matter in a real sense.

It's comparable to someone railing against junk food being caught eating half a Tic Tac.

That would be true if this were the only example I'd pointed to and if I weren't collecting information to highlight the aggregate impact of this nonsense. Imagine that, things stack up.

Anyway, I'm still struck by your departure from budget absolutism to budget relativism.

Colin said...

Anyway, I'm still struck by your departure from budget absolutism to budget relativism.

Hey, I'm not handing out any medals to Republicans and in fact agreed with you that both the farm subsides and this particular House resolution are absurd. But yes, given that we vote for the choices presented to us rather than the ideal, it's all ultimately relative. Surveying the two parties I see one attempting to make some moves in the right direction on fiscal policy while the other offers up zilch, and yet you train your fire on the former and not the latter. It's curious.

Ben said...

It's not curious -- I don't share your budget hawkery. Instead, I'm trying to highlight that the GOP's commitment to fiscal responsibility may be more rhetorical than factual, and may have more to do with politics than with actual fiscal necessity. Whether spending is out of control is beyond my ken; I'm there's a fair amount of waste but -- as I've pointed out in the past -- I think there are some places that need more spending.

Colin said...

Well jeebus, you don't need to highlight some insignificant lawsuit to prove that the GOP is mostly unserious about spending -- the fact that their proposed cuts are under $100 billion says it all.

In any case I wish that more lefties were as honest as you regarding your lack of concern for the fiscal hole we are in, and indeed think that even more money should be spent. While I knew that Obama's talk of a net spending cut during the campaign was just a charade, I wish more of the country were clued in to mainstream Democratic thinking.