Yeah, all of you.Read More
This point has been made repeatedly, but it bears repeating again, given the garbage that is being put out by right-wing media outlets: Treasury, both logistcally and legally, cannot decide who to not pay. If the debt ceiling is not increased, an unspecified number of payments will be missed at an unspecified date.
Treasury makes about 100 million monthly payments, and the computer systems in use are not capable of sorting through these payments a prioritizing based on “importance.”
Which brings us to the more compelling legal argument: how does Treasury decide what is “important” and worthy of payment, and what can slide? The answer is that it can’t. Congress decides what to spend money on, and Treasury spends it. Without guidance from Congress, Treasury’s hands are tied and must pay all bills as the come in, whether they are interest payments, Social Security checks, or an invoice for light bulbs.
This is a feature, not a bug. If Treasury could decide to not pay something, the Executive could essentially nullify Congress. Or as Yglesisas puts it:
What’s more, they have no more legal authority to prioritize payments than they do to borrow extra money. All administrations find themselves charged with administering programs that they don’t support. President Obama can’t just refuse to pay out farm subsidies any more than President Mike Lee will be allowed to refuse to pay Social Security benefits.
Even if they could prioritze debt payments, the Federal Government is huge. Not paying everything else would put the economy into a tailspin.
The bottom line is that breaching the debt ceiling is a major event. Do not let anyone try to tell you otherwise.Read More
(I wrote this tonight. I may delete it from this website in the morning. A little tipsy. Wine and Whiskey Wednesdays you know … Orf messaged me about an NPR piece that talked about Game Theory and the current government shutdown and asked my opinion. I just gave him more than he probably wants. Sorry Orf. Tell me to delete it and I will.)
Hey Orf, you messaged me about the piece on NPR that broke down the GOP / Dem battle and how it relates to game theory, and I just wanted to respond to it.
So first, of course just to clarify, I hope that you turned to me about game theory not because I work in games but because we hopefully had a conversation in the past about game theory and pragmatism and just ways of approaching situations. I am pretty sure that we spoke about it on our bike rides particularly when it comes to insurance and business dealings … but too many times during that NPR interview did I hear “Game theory … its not just a game!” to be sure.
That was a very interesting piece, and I think it was very accurate (as game theory needs to be) in breaking down the situation of the current government shutdown and the looming debt ceiling threat. Basically you have two sides playing a zero sum game. At this point in the shutdown either the republicans lose or the democrats lose. If the republicans allow the budget to pass, they are solely responsible for what they have created. Two weeks of government shutdown costs the government a shitload and causes a lot of pain to taxpayers. (Not sure if you believe that or not … some tea party subscribers think that government shutdown saves the government money … it would be a whole other topic to explain exactly how much it costs.) If the democrats cave to the Republicans and repeal the ACA then the Democrats are blamed for costing the government these past two weeks of money and hardship on families across the country. In this case, why, oh why, didn’t Obama just settle things weeks earlier, before our troops weren’t paid and the memorials weren’t shut down and our veterans didn’t receive their checks and field trips were ruined?? It’s all Obamacares fault!
No matter the story that is told in the end, the situation is affecting some people very hard. One story that I heard from Maggie which I am surprised isn’t talked about more is that the NIH, due to the shutdown, has stopped the chemo treatments that it funds to children. So there are children with cancer that are not able to get their scheduled chemo treatments. On Friday before the shutdown they were all ready to get their chemo, and then on Monday or Tuesday or Wednesday … sorry, no chemo.
It really happens that quickly.
So the current situation that we are in really is a cold war on both sides, that is undeniable. Both the Democrats and Republicans are really in a no blink situation, and neither side can really afford to steer, which is why both side has taken the steering wheel off and thrown it out the window.
So outside of the current game theory and whatever got us into this situation, I have a major problem with the Republicans. Major problem. Again, I am not sure where you stand on this situation, but I am angry as hell at them. I don’t think I’ve ever been so angry with politics as I have been now.
The Republicans in this situation are political terrorists.
The law that was originally enacted to allow congress the power to approve the budget was put in place, as everything is at first, on good intentions. It was put in place to make sure that the government did not over spend and over step its bounds. If congress thought that the government was spending, lets say, 110% of what was financially feasible, then they had the right to not approve the budget. The idea was that by not approving it, they could speak to the president or the senate or whoever and figure out a compromise that made the budget more secure.
(Before I move forward, without explanation, lets just be clear that the current house is not rejecting the budget for financial reasons, it’s strictly for Obamacare reasons. You get that right? That doesn’t need to be clarified for anyone, does it? I don’t want to be typing forever here)
Sometimes rules are established with an intent and those rules can be taken advantage of when viewed verbatim to give one team an advantage over another. Let’s look at the NFL as an example. When the rules of football were established god-knows-when-ago, an incomplete pass was probably ruled as a stoppage in time so that the ball boy could recover the football and the play had the opportunity to resume. It took many smart strategists to realize that throwing the ball could be used for time management purposes, and now all teams use tactics like spiking the ball to stop the clock and let the kicker get on the field with all the time he needs without running the clock. A spiked ball is just technically an incomplete pass, after all, right?
The problem I have is that the government was and is in place to support the people of the country. Government is not a war, it is not a rivalry, it is not a game. The ACA was established within the rules of the law and, unlike in football, these rules should be followed by their intent and not their text. The Republicans / Tea Party have created a game out of it by holding the budget hostage and now the debt ceiling. They want to play the chicken game.
What option does that leave Obama? As a pragmatist, he must look at it the way the NPR piece described. In the past, he has played his hand as best as he could by compromising with both sides and trying to reach a middle ground. Now, however, if he is to turn his wheel and leave this game of chicken, he has accepted that this method of politics and political terrorism is acceptable, and that any time the house has a majority they can hold hostage the government to undo or pass whatever they want. If he falters on this situation, the three houses of government become one house of government: the house of congress.
I know I am ranting, but to wrap it up I don’t know what the immediate solution is. While I honestly believe that congress is terrorizing its own people, since it is made up of a collection of small town shitheads (seriously, can it be that hard to be elected to congress? BLin, when are you running for congress?) I don’t know how this whole situation resolves for either team. In the long run, what we really need to do is get rid of the two party system. The best way to do that, in my opinion, is to implement the Alternative Vote / Runoff Voting system. (Rather than explaining: link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Y3jE3B8HsE)
That would, I believe, immediately fix the two party system and correct a lot of our politics. It would let Tea Partiers be Tea Partiers, Republicans be Republics, Libertarians be Libertarians, Democrats be Democrats, Green Party be Green Partiers and Socialists be Socialists. No longer would party lines be drawn so hard. Republicans that recognize that government shutdown doesn’t make sense could do so. Green party candidates that don’t believe in war could do so.
Second step would be to get rid of Gerrymandering.
Anyways … I just wanted to make sure I responded to your text, because that NPR piece got my juices flowing. I haven’t re-read any of this so its a stream of consciousness … and I have had a lot of Duggans Dew tonight. I may post this to a blog somewhere that no one reads as well. Its a lot of text to go to waste.
My facts my all be wrong. Please respond where I messed up. At the same time, I welcome anyone that honestly believes that the current shutdown makes sense to explain themselves. I have yet to hear an actual argument.Read More
Bob Corker (R-TN) just layed into Ted Cruz (R-TX) today, which is somewhat unusual:
“It’s my understanding again, relative to this vote tonight happening tomorrow instead, is that my two colleagues, who I respect, have sent out e-mails around the world and turned this into a show possibly, and, therefore, they want people around the world to watch maybe them and others on the Senate floor,” Corker said, with Cruz and Lee present on the floor.
“And that is taking priority over getting legislation back to the House so they can take action before the country’s government shuts down and, by the way, causing them possibly to put in place again some other good policies,” he added.
That last bit is the key here, and what makes the Ted Cruz show so ironic. I wrote earlier that John Boehner was playing a cynical game, where he had no intention of actually de-funding Obamacare, but was just using it as leverage. The way this was supposed to work out was the House got to flex its muscles on Obamacare, the Senate strips it out, and then the House tries to force other conservative goodies into the bill as a “compromise” when the bill gets sent back.
And then came Ted Cruz, who’s basically mucking it all up. By delaying the vote with his antics, Ted Cruz is making it very difficult for the House to pass anything other than the Senate version before the government shuts down. There just isn’t time for amendments.
So contra this tweet, Ted Cruz effectively became a Democrat this week. Thanks, Ted.Read More
The video above is making a splash because it’s incredibly creepy, but the thing that bothers me the most about this Koch-brothers-creation is that it makes no sense.
The first line is “So you signed up for Obamacare?” What the hell does this even mean? How do you “sign up” for Obamacare? There’s no such thing to sign up for. If by “sign up for Obamacare” they mean “bought private health insurance from an open, competitive marketplace” then I guess this makes sense, but since when is this anathema to the conservative cause?
The bottom line here is that conservatives hate Obamacare because it provides subsidies to poor people to buy health insurance at the expense of rich people. Making this a question about “keeping the government out of healthcare” is just a sideshow marketing campaign because they can’t sell their fundamental disagreement about the law, and the Koch brothers know that. What makes this more interesting is that there are a lot of dim bulbs in the Republican Party that actually believe the bullshit. They’re drinking the kool-aid. So you get into this weird situation where John Boehner is pushing a cynical agenda, but half his party thinks this bologna is actually true.
The final question is going to be who’s actually in charge of the asylum, the doctors or the inmates? I guess we’ll see.Read More
The prevailing opinion about Syria seems to be rather dovish, which puts President Obama in a rather awkward position as a hawk. Our President, who once called Iraq a “dumb war” is now in a position to make a case for attacking a middle eastern country, that poses no specific, viable threat to the United States. Yet these are where the similarities end.
When I read the chorus of detractors online, I can only scratch my head. Many seem to be in the “meh” category. Others are in full dove mode, including Andrew Sullivan’s B-team. I even saw one post questioning if Obama even had a foreign policy doctrine, which to me, is atonishing. If you do not know this President’s foreign policy doctrine, and how it relates to Syria, you simply have not been paying attention.
Obama’s National Security Advisor is Susan Rice, a woman who once said about Rwanda, “I swore to myself that if I ever faced such a crisis again, I would come down on the side of dramatic action, going down in flames if that was required.” Obama’s ambassador to the UN is Samantha Power, who is famous (and infamous, in some circles) for her fervent support for action, both military and non-military, to stop and prevent massive human rights abuses. Obama’s clear doctrine has, and will continue to be, that the United States and our allies have a fiduciary responsibility to prevent massive human rights abuses, wherever it is feasible to do so.
This was the impetus for intervening in Libya. The US foresaw a massive human rights abuse about to unfold, and intervened to prevent it. And we did so, not by sending a massive invasion force of US Marines and occupying the country for a decade, but with a measured aerial campaign with the backing of NATO and other countries. And from this perspective, we were hugely successful. Is Libya in a perfect place? No, but hundreds of thousands of civilians weren’t slaughtered by a murderous dictator on a rampage. Did we kill some civilians in the process? Probably. Was it worth it? I would say so, and a lot of Libyans would probably agree.
Similarly, in Syria, will a limited airstrike against Assad solve all of Syria’s problems (or the Middle East’s problems)? Of course not. But it just may prevent another 1,000 people from dying (including 400 children) from an indiscriminate use of chemical weapons on civilians. And it’s from this perspective that we need to view this. The goal is limited; therefore the response is limited, and the results should be judged accordingly.
We’ve heard plenty of comparisons to Iraq and Afghanistan, and not enough comparisons to Rwanda. How many people have to die before someone intervenes? How many people do we have to save before the small amount of casualties from bombing becomes worth it? The detractors argument is long on idealism and short on reality. Maybe that’s why I’m siding with the pragmatist President.
And these two posts do nothing to change my mind. This high-minded abstention from action is exactly the type of logic that men of action despise. No! Don’t perform CPR! There may be complications! No! Don’t administer that smallpox vaccine! You may have side effects!
This isn’t a hawkish call to war. I’m not agreeing with Billy Kristol. But there are times when an airstrike was a judicious use of American power, and despite the scars of our recent past, this is one of them.
I’ll finish with a lesson from the past, which is something that so many detractors of action in Syria are so quick to burnish:
According to the US’s former deputy special envoy to Somalia, Walter Clarke: “The ghosts of Somalia continue to haunt US policy. Our lack of response in Rwanda was a fear of getting involved in something like a Somalia all over again.” President Clinton has referred to the failure of the U.S. government to intervene in the genocide as one of his main foreign policy failings, saying “I don’t think we could have ended the violence, but I think we could have cut it down. And I regret it.”
Two very trivial things happened recently that together made me think about the future.
The first thing that happened is that the speaker on my phone died. It’s probably some defect in the manufacturing. It won’t ring or do anything audible to people outside of an 1/8th in. headphone jack. Something that I can quickly fix but am in no hurry to. I like to listen to podcasts at hearing my phone ring is nice, but I can always throw headphones on and get back to those missed calls.
The second thing is that I went to see an optometrist. Karma kicked the shit out of me and my once perfect vision is now the butt of several jokes.
At the optometrist they put some dialating solution in my eyes so they could check out all my cones and rods, as is procedure. The nurse told me that it would take 15 minutes and that the doctor would be in to see me in about that much time. She said that during this process my vision would be a bit blurry, particularly at close range, during this process. No big deal, right?
Once she left, I went to my phone to continue listening to some badass Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History podcast on the Punic Wars, because it happens to be my podcast du jour. It was the podcast I was listening to the night before and on my drive over to the optometrist.
Unfortunately, as I realized at that moment, my speaker didn’t work. No big deal, right? I can read something on the internet. I have 4G connectivity on my smartphone. I can go to reddit, or read gamasutra, or check facebook, or do one of a million things that keep me connected. Hell, even if I don’t have access to the collective human record in this waiting room, I probably have PDF or something that I can read while I am waiting.
So I started reading reddit, and within a few minutes, I noticed that my vision was getting blurry reading my phone. Part of the side effect of getting one’s pupils dilated. Here’s where things got a bit weird.
I started frantically searching for headphones in my pocket. Maybe, just by chance, I had something that could plug into my phone to allow me to listen to someone, anyone, speaking about something, so that I wouldn’t be left alone in the silence. At one point I considered sneaking out to my car to grab the headphones in my briefcase just so that I wouldn’t be left alone.
To wrap it up, I spent the next 8 minutes or so staring at my phone, browsing “reddit”, which looked more like a painting than it did a website, with streaks of blue and white, imagining what the topic could be, clicking the link, and trying to anticipate what I was looking at. I couldn’t read any words, couldn’t see the buttons I was pressing, but I was so desperate for information and so desperate to not be left alone even for eight minutes that I couldn’t let go.
I was left with my imagination for eight minutes, but at least my imagination had a palette of purple and blue links as a foundation vs. whatever unimaginable darkness could exist should I be left alone with my own thoughts for more than 30 seconds time.
It’s crazy how addicting information can be. Also, something something about the bar and power outlet I saw at the airport that had an iPad at every seat so you wouldn’t be information-less for five minutes. Interesting to think about how this will socially change people moving forward. Our generation (juicers) are sort of in the grey area of this generation. People born in the 90s-oughts will feel it hard, and when we are old and they are 30 things will be very different.
I leave you with this: http://www.quickmeme.com/meme/3tzs62/Read More
Cus hey, why not?Read More
Life sometimes is like a puzzle. Not some really complicated metaphorical puzzle, but like really simple ages 8 and up puzzle. It’s probably only like 250-500 pieces. Beyond being simple, you really have your whole life to put together and maintain this puzzle.
These pieces are made up of several things: Circumstance, friendships, relationships, behaviors, career, luck. These are all the individual pieces of the puzzle.
A lot of people are born without certain pieces of this puzzle. That makes it very hard for them to put the whole puzzle together and create the final picture. That isn’t to say it’s impossible; it just takes a lot more effort and work and tenacity for them to put the puzzle together. Sometimes they can basically complete the puzzle without those pieces and sometimes they are able to forge new pieces on their own.
Occasionally, unfortunately, over the course of your life, you will have a piece of the puzzle stolen from you. It’s really unfair, but it happens. Other times, you lose the piece yourself. When you lose it yourself, at least you know it’s there, hiding under the couch cushion or tucked away under a pile of magazines. Most likely it’s under the fridge. At least at that point you know its somewhere within your reach. It’s much easier to produce knowing that you have seen that piece before and that it must be somewhere in your house than it is to try to build it from scratch.
I think that once the puzzle is put together, it’s easier to maintain. It creates this somewhat stable square that you can mount on the wall and maintain for a very long time. That isn’t to say that at any point a piece will be stolen from you unfairly, because that’s just part of the cruelty of chance, but for the most part you know your puzzle is all together. Sometimes a keystone of your puzzle will be taken and the continuity of the overall picture will disappear, and that is truly unfair, but it is possible to recover from, generally.
Most people will have pieces of their puzzle taken from them or will be born without all of the ingredients. That is unfair and challenging for those people. What is really depressing is knowing that all of your pieces are in your hand, maybe a piece or two is lost between the couch cushions, but that you just can’t find the stamina to get off your ass, find that piece, and even begin to put all of the pieces together. It’s so rare to be dealt such a good hand, and such a shame to let it go to waste.Read More
This morning I had this thought. I believe it was based on some research that I read but I just can’t remember. While I was thinking about it, I thought that it would make a pretty good Juice post.
When we write or reflect on our thoughts and our consciences’ they seem very epic and storylined. We believe that everyone behaves the way they behave and act on impulses based on some lifelong story arc. I believe that is the way that everyone sees themselves and one another. It is probably drawn from some average that naturally can be derived from a series of experiences that all individuals share. We end up drawing caricatures of ourselves and each other.
In these stories and in the way we treat ourselves, we experience a larger story arc that we feel is inescapable. The villain will always be the villain, the hero will always be the hero, I will always be a guy that skirts the middle ground, and so will you.
In this sense, our lives and interactions end up being defined by who we were born to be.
So this post that I read somewhere (that I can’t link unfortunately), it read said that we are merely a consciousness reborn from our most recent few minutes or seconds. That the person we are is drivin by each fleeting distraction and impulse and zoned-out experience. They described that we only truly live, chemically and biologically for a few seconds to a minute and that all the decisions we make are based on the information we are given for those 45 or so seconds and then we are vanished. Replaced by a new, reborn thought.
I want you to deeply consider this concept. It may sound farfetched, but imagine for a moment that each individual thought that you have is handed a deck of experience. Experience from the amount of time since you were born, but diluted. You can handle this deck in any way you want for 45 to 360 seconds. Imagine now that once done reading this post is over, that a new consciousness will come into play. We act and behave and daydream in sequences of 45 – 360 seconds.
We program, we work, we relax, we indulge, we decide, we behave on this increment of time.
We all dream in periods of time similar to this. Fleeting moments of random encounters and strange, revealing personal behaviors. The only thing that separates our dreams from ourselves is a long term memory and the physics of reality.
So I imagine that our individual consciousness is much closer to our dreams than we expect. I don’t mean to downplay personality disorders that we want to escape at all. In fact, I believe this model supports most of them. I imagine that someone with a pre-disposition to addictive behaviors, every three or so minutes, that may have had cigarettes lately, is given a hand of cards that says “Okay, lets not smoke this round.” A few minutes later, a new sense of being is told “Well, we wanted to smoke, but we didn’t, what are you going to do?”
Eventually, we reach a tipping point where each previous consciousness is essentially peer-pressured into acting on the impulses of the prior generation.
It is up to the current controller to decide how to handle the stress of each given situation. Or not. It depends on the nature and nuture, or “deck”, that we are handed.
Cigarettes and other addictions are a very relatable and simple example of pretty much all behaviors, from drug addiction to eating to the way we treat others. I only list it as a behavior that most people can associate with. I encourage everyone to consider their behaviors against this concept.
Anyways, just something I thought about today.Read More
Does anyone here watch the Walking Dead?
If you do, next time you watch an episode and they are doing something to a zombie, imagine the show in a different setting. Specifically when a zombie gets grabbed and is being killed. Imagine the zombie with its make-up off and as just a normal person that is struggling because he / she doesn’t want to die. Replace the grunting and panting with screaming and crying. The super strength as adrenaline.
It quickly becomes a much darker, more emotionally challenging show.Read More
I spend the daylight regretting last nights, and I spend my nights regretting my days.Read More