Friday, March 10, 2006

And the Second WaPo Editorial: Unroll Your Own Logs

Second interesting editorial in WaPo today.

A Good Line-Item Veto Friday, March 10, 2006; A18(Excerpt)

WE HAVE repeatedly opposed the idea of a line-item veto. So it may seem inconsistent to warmly endorse -- as we do -- President Bush's proposal this week for what he terms the Legislative Line Item Veto Act of 2006. In fact, though, Mr. Bush is embracing a responsible alternative to the line-item veto, which the Supreme Court struck down in 1998. His bill raises none of the constitutional problems of the earlier law; nor does it raise the same concerns about concentrating power in presidential hands. While it will do much less than is often pretended to diminish the deficit, it would be a useful open-government tool to combat the gross proliferation of congressional earmarks...

Mr. Bush's idea does not so alter the checks and balances between the legislative and executive branches. Under his proposal, the president could not nix part of a spending bill; he could, however, temporarily freeze a spending item and request that Congress rescind it. Congress would be obliged to act on such requests quickly, without amendment and with no possibility of filibuster. If a majority of both houses of Congress stood by the provision, the president's action would have no consequence. If, on the other hand, the spending were a single member's pet project -- a bridge in Alaska, say -- Congress as a whole might not stand by it. The bill, in other words, gives the president not a line-item veto but a device for forcing individual votes on line items buried within larger spending packages.

This makes sense. It might not do much to control the budget, both because pork makes up a small component of the deficit and because the president may be as reluctant to offend congressional appropriations barons as are other legislators. But the bill could spotlight earmarks and the corruption that can come with them. Mr. Bush is, to put it mildly, an imperfect champion of any measure to discipline out-of-control spending; he hasn't once used the veto he already has, while signing into law plenty of pork-filled spending bills. Yet the messenger's flaws should not prejudice the message. This bill deserves consideration on its very significant merits.

I had not heard of this proposal. Very clever, political sciency. Force vote on single item. Breaking a log roll means that you can pick out some of the most rotten toothpicks from the bundle and throw them away.

No single element of an omnibus bill would pass on its own, almost by definition. An interesting proposal, and good on the WaPo folks to support the President in this instance, because: They are right, he's right.


Remarkable WaPo Editorials

This morning, sitting on the seventh floor of the Sheraton at 12th and K in DC, I read two editorials in the WaPo that I find truly remarkable. (I had been at this conference, which was a blast. Made Tom Mann of Brookings so mad he sputtered. SPUTTERED, I tell you).

I will post an excerpt from each, separately, as they make different points. But if the WaPo is saying stuff like this....well, BOTH the Repubs and the Dems are looking at the world through rose-colored shot glasses.

Happy Now? Friday, March 10, 2006; A18 (Excerpt)

THEY SPEND drunkenly, they fail at oversight and they can't stop the administration from abusing detainees or tapping phones. But never call the members of Congress powerless: Yesterday, in the exalted name of anti-terrorism, the Senate rebelled against its Republican leadership and joined the House in a vote to prevent a company based in a moderate, friendly Arab country from making a minor investment in the United States. When it became clear that some such blocking measure would pass, Dubai Ports World threw in the towel, announcing that it would sell all of its U.S. operations, including the management operations of six U.S. ports it recently acquired, and do business elsewhere...

...The result: Dubai Ports World will now run only ports where cargo is packed and sent to the United States, instead of managing ports where that same cargo is unloaded.

But our brave new Congress has achieved more than the irrational spiking of one business deal. It has also sent a clear message to the Arab world: No matter how far you move along the path of modernization and cooperation, Americans may be unable to distinguish you from al-Qaeda....

No one should underestimate the potential damage. Any government in a Muslim-majority country will have to ask itself: Why take the risk of friendship? If governments find no good answer to that question, the fight against radical Islamic terrorism will suffer. ...With the price of oil so high, Arabs are rapidly becoming a major supplier of foreign capital. This isn't a good moment for Americans to discourage foreign investment, given the nation's dependence on foreign capital (see: Congress, drunken spending by). Nor will the message -- that foreign ownership was unobjectionable when it was British but intolerable when it was Arab -- do much to advance U.S. efforts to promote equitable investment rules for its own companies abroad....

Some, meanwhile, will blame the public, because opinion polls showed overwhelming objections to this deal. But it was Congress that brought this matter to public attention; here we think, for example, of the cynical actions of two Democratic senators from New York: Hillary Rodham Clinton and Charles E. Schumer, who heads his party's effort to win back control of the Senate in this year's elections. Congress falsely portrayed the deal as the "purchase" of U.S. ports. Congress failed to tell the public that port security is run by the U.S. Coast Guard, not the men who pay the salaries of the (overwhelmingly American) longshoremen. Congress created this storm, in other words, and then toppled in its wind.

Yikes. Craven...cynical....HILLARY? From the WaPo? Nicely done. ATSRTWT

The Poets Down Here Don't Write Nothin' At All.....

...They Just Stand Back and Let It All Be, II

Improbably, but reliably, Chris at SigNot reports
an event that I'm glad happened somewhere else. Here is a news video of the story.

What would I say to the guy? "Careful that when you
watch porn during class you toggle the display setting
so it only appears on your monitor, and not the projector!"?

And how could it be that the room was not filled with
laughter? How could the prof not notice? Oh, my.

Apparently, the prof believed the message of this video
(which is NOT work safe, by the way, though it is cute):
The internet is for porn. Having never actually viewed porn myself,
either on the internet or elsewhere, I'll just leave to loyal readers
to decide.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

No Rules, Just....OMIGOD!

Story quoted here from DoL, about Australian toilet seat regulations. It seems that toilet seat rules down under do not support the biggest customers sufficiently (notice how delicately I put that).

The new rule would require that toilet seats be able withstand the enthronement of a 145 kg king or queen. That's just over 330 pounds. Relatively few NFL linemen are that big.

For some reason, this makes me think of a joke:

Guy buys a new luxury toilet seat, pure mahogany. Beautiful. Needs to be finished, though. Wife has in a painter, who uses a very high quality varnish. Varnish takes about 24 hours to dry, and is very sticky until it does dry.

Guy doesn't know wife has had painter in; shows very obese friend new toilet seat. Lots of pride in new possession. Big friend says, "Actually, if you'll forgive me, I need to be alone with that toilet seat for a few minutes. I had a big lunch, and my stomach is acting up."

Guy lets friend use the bathroom. Big guy sits on the seat for about ten minutes, by which time an breakable seal has formed between cheeks and varnish. After a few more minutes everyone hears shrieking coming from the loo. "Help! Help! I can't get it off!" Big butt stuck to wet varnish; guy tries to stand up, and not getting anywhere.

So, they carefully unscrew the toilet seat from its hinges, so as not to damage the mohagony. Go to emergency room, to get unstuck.

ER doctor gravely tells big guy to lie on his stomach, while doc tries to get an idea of what he's got here. Trying to put everyone at ease, the toilet seat owner says, "Doc, have you ever seen anything like this before?"

Doc looks at him over his glasses. "Actually, yes. I see twenty or more of these a day. But I have to say I have never seen one that was so tastefully framed."

And, now, the frames will be sturdy, too! At least in the outback: no rules, just....OMIGOD!

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

You've seen this, but....

Who Reads What

* The Wall Street Journal is read by the people who run
the country.
* The Washington Post is read by people who think they
run the country.
* The New York Times is read by people who think they
should run the country and who are very good at
crossword puzzles.!
* USA Today is read by people who think they ought to
run the country but don't really understand The New
York Times. They do, however, like their statistics
shown in pie charts.
* The Los Angeles Times is read by people who wouldn't
mind running the country -- if they could find the
time -- and if they didn't have to leave Southern
California to do it.
* The Boston Globe is read by pe! ople whose parents used
to run the country and did a far superior job of it,
thank you very much.
* The New York Daily News is read by people who aren't
too sure who's running the country and don't really
care as long as they can get a seat on the train.
* The New York Post is read by people who don't care
who's running the country as long as they do something
really scandalous, preferably while intoxicated.
* The Miami Herald is read by people who are running
another country but need the baseball scores.
* The San Francisco Chronicle is read by people who
aren't sure there is a country ... or that anyone is
running it; but if so, they oppose all that they stand
for. There are occasional exceptions if the leaders
are handicapped minority feminist atheist dwarfs who
also happen to be illegal aliens from any other
country or galaxy pro! vided, of course, that they are
not Republicans.
* The National Enquirer is read by people trapped in
line at the grocery store.
(yes, I know this has been around for more than three years. I read it again, and laughed, and so there)