Monthly Archives: November 2013

Ending The Filibuster


Harry Reid ended the filibuster today.  I know that he only changed rules that impact nominees other than Supreme Court Justices, but this is Washington – no good deed goes unpunished.  Even if the rules are changed back the last day of the session before republicans take the chamber, you can bet that this won’t be forgotten – the republicans will be highly motivated to not only respond in kind but conduct an escalation – in time, there will be no filibuster.

Okay, I guess.  There may be worse things.

I happen to believe in the idea that presidential nominees should be afforded the opportunity of a vote.  He did, after all, win.   Further, Ii think that votes should be brought before the chambers to be voted on.  Needing 60 to agree to vote on something that needs 51 is silly.

However, I also believe that the leaders of each chamber should be more willing to allow votes on issues that they don’t necessarily agree.  For example, the recent non-discrimination act for gay employees will never see a vote in the house.  I don’t like that.  And, similarly, Reid doesn’t bring up for votes issues that he personally disagrees with.  In fact, one of the reasons the filibuster has been used so often in recent years is that Harry fills the amendment tree preventing the republicans from amending bills.

So, what do people have to say about the nuclear option?

Here is Salon:

Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell says Democrats are fixing to “blow up 200 years of Senate history” just because they’re not getting their way on a handful of “radical” judicial nominees. On Capitol Hill, the threat of the “nuclear option” has created a sort of political ground zero, and activists on both sides believe that the way this thing plays out will control the shape of the federal judiciary — and with it, the interpretation of the U.S. Constitution — for decades to come.

Call it a primer on the judicial confirmation process. Call it what you get when you spend way too much time reading Riddick’s Senate Procedure. Just don’t call it the “nuclear option” — at least not when Harry Reid is around to correct you. The Senate majority leader doesn’t want his plan to sound so explosive, but be forewarned: Unless somebody blinks first, we’re in for a mind-warping set of unprecedented Senate maneuvers that could put Joe Biden in charge of deeming the filibuster “unconstitutional” — without a word from those folks in black robes across the street — and grease the way for each and every left-wing extremist Barrack Obama ever cares to put on a district court, an appellate court or the U.S. Supreme Court.

And here’s The Hill:

“To change the rules in the Senate can’t be done by a simple majority. It can only be done if there is extended debate by 67 votes,” McConnell said.

“They are talking about doing something illegal. They are talking about breaking the rules to change the rules, and that is not appropriate. That is not fair, and it is not right,” he said.

And what did The Democrat have to say?

A filibuster allows any Senator to prevent a full vote by extending debate on an issue or a presidential appointee indefinitely and requires a supermajority of 60 votes to “break” the filibuster and force a vote. The ability of three-fifths of the Senators to end such debate — two-thirds, in the case of a motion to change Senate rules — is codified in the Standing Rules of the Senate, Rule 22, also known as “Precedence of Motions.”

… the Democrat majority, in an effort to push through Barack Obama’s far left-wing judicial nominees, sought to get rid of the filibuster via the “nuclear option,” which would have solidified absolute, one-party rule and allowed all of Bush’s nominees to go through with essentially only Republican approval — thus removing any reason for the minority party to even show up in the Senate chamber.

But unlike an ideologically-driven hack like Reid,  Mitch McConnell is a Senate purist who believes in the way the Senate has always run and the wisdom of its traditions, even if some of those will benefit the Democrat minority over the next few years.

Okay okay, those sources are accurately linked but  changed the names and parties to represent the opposite of reality.

These guys are all a bunch of pukes – both sides.  All of ’em.  They have all blocked nominations and they have all complained of the minority party having too much power.  But now Reid has done it, he’s broken the rule.  And the rule will be broken again – and the next time it will be pay back.


More On Gay Marriage

Gay Rights

I was listening to Diane Rehm this morning, I just can’t stomach Glen Beck.  The topic was gay marriage and her panel consisted a mix of supporters and opponents to laws being passed around the country in support of equal rights.

A caller called in from Michigan and spoke of her personal experience.  Her children have several friends who have 1 or more gay parents.  As often occurs, the parents of children friends begin to become friends.  Soon the families were having dinner here and there, the kids would have sleepovers and all the normal things that happen with kids.

Good story.

But then she went on to explain that as a Christian she does feel that marriage is between one man and one woman – and therefore doesn’t support gay marriage.  Further she went on – whenever she mentions her stance in company, at least someone will claim she’s a bigot and a hater.

She wanted to hear advice on how to handle her dilemma.

My response would be simple and straightforward.

“Lady, do you believe it is a sin to take the name of the Lord in vain?”

She’ll answer, “Why yes, of course it is.”

“Well, do you think that we should pass a law making that illegal?  Further, just because you might think that such language is a sin, do you think that people who DO use such language are going to hell?  Or, further – do you hate them?”

Look, I am fully supportive of the legal right of free people to live how they want to.  When it comes down to “Is it a sin?”

Well, I don’t really know or care.  There are a TON of things that I DO think are sins and people all over creation have no issue with them.

  • Divorce
  • Premarital sex
  • Lying

Anyway – this whole debate seems to simple to resolve.  You can still think a thing is “wrong” and yet have it be legal.


Guns And Abortion

Spy vs Spy

If you wanna listen to a debate on policy that is all about form but is specific policy agnostic, listen to republicans and democrats debate abortion and guns.

  • Both sides feel that their cause is protected by the constitution
  • Both sides feel the others cause isn’t, as currently represented, protected by the constitution.
  • Both sides advocate policies that would eliminate the right.
  • Each side has taken to regulation, citing safety, to restrict access to the right.

Guns or abortion, the debate is the same.

And the true wacko’s are the loons on the extreme of both issues.

Pino Goes To College


I recently met with Michael Munger.  Mr. Munger was the Libertarian candidate for governor here in North Carolina.  He also happens to be a Professor at Duke University.  In fact, he’s a former Chair of the Political Science Department there.

I was going to begin the PPE program at Duke and UNC but got busy this year – will go next.

But in the meantime I have enrolled in a course at Coursera.  The course is called “The Power of Markets” and is an intro class in Microeconomics.

Here’s to college!

The Immigration Debate


At some point the focus of the nation will return to the immigration debate here in America.  And when it does, I’ll continue to be confused.  For the life of me, I don’t understand the positions of each side of the debate.

So, here are my questions:

  1. Why is the current debate limited to those people here illegally?
  2. Why, in general, do we limit immigration at all?
  3. If we do limit immigration, why do we limit it in so many stages?
    1. Green Card
    2. Student Visa
    3. Citizenship
  4. How are the numbers decided on?

Personally, we have TONS of room here, not only for anyone that wants to live here in America but literally, every one in the world:


We have the room.


Food Stamps – Wrong Solution

Food Stamps

It’s a little old, but this story has been in my stack for a few days:

(MoneyWatch) It is late October, so Adrianne Flowers is out of money to buy food for her family. That is no surprise. Feeding five kids is expensive, and the roughly $600 in food stamps she gets from the federal government never lasts the whole month. “I’m barely making it,” said the 31-year-old Washington, D.C., resident and single mother.

When reading that story the more interesting question regarding social policy is not, “How do we feed this family?”  Rather, the more interesting question is, “How do we prevent such family structures from forming?”

I’m a married father of two living in a two person income household.  My wife and I are both professional managers in a Fortune 50 company.  When someone in my peer group reports that they have 4 kids, much less 5, my reaction is always, “Really?  FOUR kids?  How do you do it?”

A recent post discussing the subsidies of Yale educated professionals has generated a LOT of emotional responses.  However people feel about the fact that people receive benefits, no is disputing the fact that this couple is free to live the life they choose.  I would submit that Ms. Flowers fits that same case.  Namely, if you wanna have 5 kids feel free, however, if you find that you are unable to support those children, don’t look to society to support them for you.

No one is saying that Ms. Flowers isn’t at liberty to build her family as she sees fit.  I’m just saying that I should have the same liberty as it applies to my property.

Comedy of Errors

This is hard to believe:

Sebelius told Congress earlier on Wednesday that a team of tech whizzes working through nights and weekends to fix the troubled health insurance marketplace website will be hard-pressed to finish repairs as promised by the end of November…

Gawd this is a train wreck.

Affordable Care Act Helping The Poor

Poor Artist

Came across this article in the NY Times this morning:

For Mark and Elisabeth Horst, both artists in Albuquerque, the risks of signing up for a bronze plan were outweighed by the prospect of getting it free. The Horsts, who make $24,000 a year between them, qualified for $612 in monthly subsidies, but the cost of a bronze plan was $581 a month.

The Horsts are the couple pictured above.

I object to redistribution in general but have to admit to having sympathy for folks who fit the mental picture of “the poor”.  Struggling factory worker barely getting by.  Single mom who can’t pay rent, electric bill AND the water bill.

But THESE ‘effing people?!?  I have to work my ass off to support these people’s health care?

The article goes on to to quote Mr. Horst as claiming to be in good health, so I’m guessing that they are making 24k is that they CHOOSE to make 24k, not because life has dealt them some shitty hand.  These are people who CAN work, COULD work but are making the choice NOT to work.

And we’re taking care of them like children.

Look, I’d like to wake up every day and draw.  Or color.  Or make clay ashtrays too.  But I don’t; I go to work and bring home the bacon.

And because I do – these people get to color.


In honor of the working poor:

Nuclear Bomb Scare in North Carolina – 1961


Goldsboro, N.C. — A U.S. hydrogen bomb nearly detonated on the nation’s east coast, with a single switch averting a blast which would have been 260 times more powerful than the device that flattened Hiroshima, a newly published book says.

In a recently declassified document, reported in a new book by Eric Schlosser, the supervisor of the nuclear weapons safety department at Sandia national laboratories said that one simple, vulnerable switch prevented nuclear catastrophe.

The Guardian newspaper published the document on Saturday.

Two hydrogen bombs were accidentally dropped over Goldsboro on Jan. 24, 1961, after a B-52 bomber broke up in flight. One of the bombs apparently acted as if it was being armed and fired — its parachute opened and trigger mechanisms engaged.

Parker F. Jones at the Sandia National Laboratories analyzed the accident in a document headed “How I learned to mistrust the H-Bomb.”

“The MK39 Mod 2 bomb did not possess adequate safety for the airborne-alert role in the B-52,” he wrote. When the B-52 disintegrates in the air it is likely to release the bombs in “a near normal fashion,” he wrote, calling the safety mechanisms to prevent accidental arming “not complex enough.”

The document said the bomb had four safety mechanisms, one of which is not effective in the air. When the aircraft broke up, two others were rendered ineffective.

“What prevented the detonation was one switch, one safety switch, and a fair amount of good luck, because that safety switch was later found, in some cases. to be defective,” Schlosser told CBS News.

Voter ID Laws And Paying The Social Debt

I was listening to NPR the other day and Diane Rehm was on.  I’m not sure what the official subject of the show was, but the conversation moved focused race in America.

One of the topics covered involved the voter ID laws being passed in many states in recent years.  The usual points were made in that these voter ID laws impact:

  1. The poor
  2. Minorities

I have my usual response to item 1 in that the cost of IDs is hardly onerous or burdensome.  But, be that as it may.

It was during the discussion that I was struck by thoughts surrounding item 2.  Rather than all this hand wringing over laws that make sense but disproportionately impact minorities creating this manufactured tension, why not address why minorities are disproportionately impacted.

I suspect that no one believes that a black attorney or a Hispanic doctor either doesn’t have ID or would find it difficult to get one.

Just another case of trying to manipulate outcomes to be equal rather than the opportunities.

Anyway, one of her guests was Richard F. America.  He discussed reparations in America and specifically mentioned this topic through the words of his book, “Paying The Social Debt.”

I though the conversation interesting enough, and the point of view different enough from mine, that I wanted to read the book.  So I went to Amazon:

Paying The Social Debt

I’m sure there are a ton of good reasons, but I was just struck by the stones required to charge a hundred bucks for a book on paying social debts.