Can Of Worms – Opened! UPDATE… Closed?

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Senator Max Baucus, the guy who is acknowledged to the the “author” of the nearly 3,000 page puss saturated band-aid also known as the Health Care Reform bill, in response to a question of whether he actually read the final HCR bill, said this at a recent town hall:

“I don’t think you want me to waste my time to read every page of the health care bill. You know why? It’s statutory language,” Baucus said. “We hire experts.”

I for one would love to see who the “experts” were that crafted this bill. Can we see that please? You know, transparency and all that?

PS. I love this exchange. Here’s Baucus, trying to ensure that the HCR bill is a good thing:

“It’s not perfect, nothing’s perfect, but I’m telling you, ma’am, it’s a good start,”  “Mark my words, several years from now you’re going to look back and say, ‘eh, maybe it isn’t so bad.’

Judy Matott, the person who asked the first question about reading the bill:

“Don’t think so,”

The Congress did this bass-ackwards. They passed it before they sold it to the public. Of course, they didn’t know what was in it because they hadn’t read it. But hey, it’s all good, right? Please, future congressmen, please take not of this fiasco, and don’t make this same mistake. I shouldn’t even have to say this, but, please, know what you’re passing before you pass it.

UPDATE:  Fellow blogger and law student David Shraub of The Debate Link has offered a very worthy counterpoint to the “didn’t read the bill” complaint. He may have won me over:

No no no. ALL bills are impenetrable. There is literally no piece of legislation you could ever open up that would not be impenetrable, because bills are written in legislative language, which isn’t like normal, comprehensible English. That’s because the purpose of a bill isn’t to explain what it contains. The purpose of a bill is to amend, substitute, replace, rewrite, or otherwise modify US Code to accomplish the desired policy ends. These two goals (clearly articulating the bill’s contents, and modifying US Code) are completely incompatible with each other. It would be folly to try and use tools designed to accomplish the latter in order to achieve the former (and vice versa).

Hence, the “experts” here aren’t lobbyists, they are experts in turning policy language into legislative language….

I think it’s silly when people try to dress up substantive objections into procedural ones — and particularly profoundly silly procedural objections which fall apart for anyone who knows anything about the legislative process (and, since I assume at least some Senators and Representatives do know something about that process, isn’t a total hack). Laws are complicated. Laws that do a lot of things are really complicated. That, if it is a sin, is a non-partisan one. And there is no other way to write a bill in which the bill text would clearly tell you what the bill does.

To be clear — we should know what legislation does before it is voted on. I don’t dispute that at all. But “reading the bill” doesn’t accomplish that end. It’s a slogan, not a solution to anyone who actually knows how Congress operates.

Speaking as someone currently in law school, being a lawyer doesn’t really train you for this sort of thing (there are folks who specialize in this sort of thing, but it isn’t all lawyers). I can parse legislative language given enough time and access to Lexis, but simply “reading the bill” wouldn’t tell me, or really any other lawyer, anything. Again, that’s not their purpose. They’re not designed to be illuminative regarding the bill’s contents. Even if you are trained in reading legislative language, they’d still be really ineffective at serving that purpose. It’s not a matter of getting the requisite experience, it’s a matter of understanding what legislative text is supposed to do. It’s supposed to modify US code. That’s its only purpose.

(Maybe a better analogy would be telling someone to “read the programming code” if they want to understand how a computer program works. Yes, technically, it’s the primary source, but binary isn’t really designed to communicate information about its contents. You read the manual for that. The bill itself = the programming code. I don’t want Max Baucus reading that. I want him to read the manual.).

So, is this “didn’t read the bill” stuff much ado about nothing? Dave has me leaning in that direction as far as that criticism goes. But, I still stand by my assertion that this bill is a mess, makes the health care system worse, and never should have been passed.

PS. Then again, the ever brilliant Ed Schultz was able to read the bill and understand it with no problems, apparently.

Nipping A Meme In The Bud – The Iraq War Cost $3 Trillion Dollars (and yes, I am saying that in my mind like Dr. Evil and I have my pinky at my cheek)

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Mark Tapscott gives us the heads-up that some in the Democratic circle are proclaiming that the Iraq war has cost $3 trilion dollars. The CBO, you know, those guys that actually account for all congressional expenditures, shows the cost at about $709 billion, a wee bit short of the $3 trillion mark.

Here’s a CBO chart of the expenses in terms of the deficit. Note that since Obama has taken office the deficits have risen sharply.

cbo deficit

In case you want to check for yourself (which I always recommend), the CBO numbers are found on pages 14 and 15 of the official Budgetary Summary PDF, which starts on page 32 of my PDF viewer.

Note: There are certainly other undocumentable costs of being at war, and I personally want to see our folly end ASAP. But don’t be stupid and try and use figures that are totally erroneous and made up and off the mark by a factor of 300% –  In layman terms, and to  the IRS (unless you’re Tim Geitner),  that’s known as lying.

Anti-Islamic Fervor – The Unasked Question: “Why Now”?

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First, i want to say that I completely understand with the sentiments regarding building a mosque so close to the World Trade Center. But what is happening now has moved well beyond that question. Something else is entering the equation, creating a poisonous atmosphere of recriminations and distrust. I mean, it’s getting really ugly out there. We’ve seen a tremendous upswing in anti-Islam demonstrations recently, and it’s not just in New York. There have been demonstrations in Tennessee, in Wisconsin, and even in little . This video is making the rounds on the Internet, and shows just how rabid this has become.

This is spinning dangerously to the point where we lose control. The poor guy being harassed says he’s not Muslim, but apparently he looks the part, or maybe simply might have said the wrong thing. Regardless, Robespierre would be proud.

Here is my question: Why is this happening now?

I mean, come on, it’s almost nine years past the events of 9/11, and only now are we seeing a nasty vitriol against Islam. I would have expected it to manifest and metastasize much earlier than this. I know this is flaring up because of the controversy surrounding the Cordoba Mosque (notice I didn’t call it the “Ground Zero Mosque”, a clever designation designed to elicit a negative response). Right wing radio hosts / professional agitators around the country are riding this for all it’s worth, exclaiming that Islam is not a religion, but is a political system, and the mosque is just a way to induce a transformation of our American society to one ruled by leading this charge. “>Sharia law (in it’s correct usage one should just say Sharia, as it translates basically to Law). Even my local radio guy Chris Daniel, who is of the non-rabid variety, has come out as said the same thing. Blogger and author Pamela Geller is leading this charge, Everyone else is being willfully, happily led by the nose, regardless of whether her accusations against Islam are truth, half truths, or simply made up. Indeed, talk radio has its own reasons for pursuing this anti-Islam meme in the form of increased listenership and higher ratings (never let a good crisis go to waste and all that). This feels very bandwagonish to me.

A few radio hosts, such as Michael Savage, would tell you they have been “warning us about the real goal of Islam” since even before 9/11. Savage and company have been broadcasting suspicions that a lot of people have been secretly harboring, yet would not express openly. Why is this anger against Islam manifesting the American conscientiousness and becoming evident only now? You could say the Cordoba Mosque is the catalyst for this, yet some on the right who are now against this knew about it long before it became controversial, yet did not have a problem with it. Conservative host Laura Ingraham was indeed for it before she was against it.

Why is this happening now?

Here is my answer: We’re losing the Global War On Terror.

We’re withdrawing from Iraq, without a stable government or any guarantee of Iraqi oil receipts to show for it. Afghanistan is getting worse, not better. The American public is slowly but surly souring on the idea of being in a prolonged war that does not seem to have a describable “end game” scenario. Pakistan does not feel like a solid partner in the GWOT. Nothing we have done has stopped North Korea from acquiring the bomb, and we don’t seem able to do anything to stop Iran from doing the same. We’ve lost this so bad, the North Koreans have even been able to actually attack and sink a South Korean sub with impunity. Europe, especially England, has found that they can’t police certain Muslim neighborhoods, as they have established their own little Sharia systems of law to deal with their own community issues. The American public, especially those who support it, are realizing this, and there is nothing that can do about it. Just as other cultures have turned on minority groups as a valve to channel anger away from its root cause, are Conservatives embracing a Holy War mentality against Islam as a way to avoid facing what the evidence is saying – We are losing the GWOT.

Of course, it can be said that it is the Democrats that are causing us to lose the war, yet I don’t see the American public re-embracing the idea of prolonging the current wars, nor do I expect that if the Republicans win big in November, that they will steer the Congress to declare war on Iran.

Note: This is not just an American phenomenon, though the dynamic is somewhat different, there are anti-Islam protests going on in Europe too.

Synchronitiy III Lives!!!!

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So, the Police tribute band Synch 3 had the first full practice together. It went scarily good for a first practice. Met the drummer, Chris, for the first time. He is a friend of guitarist Chris, nicknamed Tweed. I used to play with Tweed a number of years ago, and he knew Chris, an old friend would be capable of filling Stu’s shoes on drums. Tweed was right – Chris is more than capable, he’s perfect for the job.

We could have done “Message in a Bottle” and Sych 2″ in front of an audience and not embarrassed ourselves. “Truth Hurts Everybody” didn’t turn out too bad either. I play that with my fingers, but think I’ll switch to pick to get a sharper attack. “So Lonely” was OK, but I can’t do the strong falsetto that Sting did from the album, so the lower register VOX I sing it with will take some getting used to. That will probably be a mid-set song. “Hole in My Life” needs work on my part…. Don’t have the VOX down yet.

All in all, it was a very good practice. I am so jazzed to finally be moving forward on this project. Will keep everyone informed of the progress.

From The “Just When Things Are Going Great” Dept.

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GOP is suddenly tearing itself apart over “The Gay”.

Go Us!

PS. Billy Squire is not gay.

Further proof that the butterfly effect exists!

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Uh Oh, Another Right Wing Hero Gone Bad

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General Petraeus is on record criticizing the Bush administration on the war. Now, for the current conservative crowd, it’s OK to criticize Bush on spending, but the war has always been off limits. Petraeus will become a target of conservative scorn in 3… 2… 1…

PS. Remember how conservatives were sympathetic to McCrystal when criticizing the Obama administrations handling of the war. Lets remember that when they start ripping into Petraeus.

Beachcomber Pics

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Back in June, my San Diego band played at the Beachcomber in Mission Beach. Here are some pics from that show.

Note the San Diego Bass Store shirt. I had visited the store earlier in the day, and I was going to buy their shirt. But when I mentioned that I would wear it at the gig, they gave it to me! And I did! (Thanks again Chris) Featured are a number of Dingwall, Sadowsky, and Lakland basses. They are fine basses, especially the Dingwalls, which have the odd but functional crooked frets. Give you better intonation, and makes playing bass easier if you have stubby midget fingers like mine. But, alas, at present, the prices are out of my league.

Happy Birthday To The Master!

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No, it’s not the Sonic-Mates birthday! It’s suspense master Alfred Hitchcock’s!!!!  Armchair Commentary has posted a list of movies created by other directors that display Hitchcock’s formula for creating suspense. It’s a very good list….  But they missed one. Please consider “Silver Streak” directed by Aurthur Hiller

silver strak

It is a pure Hitchcockian homage. Has all the ingredients…

—  Spoiler Alert  —

A slow yet steady build of plot, mystery, intrigue, a guy, a girl, a train (Alfred loved trains), saucy banter, a budding romance, girls dead boss falling past the window…. Or did he???   What???  Is the murderer who you think?  Plus, there is the added treat of having Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder starring in a movie together. This was inspired casting, and the two comic stars shine, even when things get serious. It’s a wonderfully written script. If you’ve never seen it, you must. It is one of the best movies from the 70’s.

Elsa Hates My Guitar Playing!

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It’s from a month ago, but I just love the picture!