Reason Morning Links: Rude Awakening

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  1. Please please please tell me Obama is playing the role of Buster.

    1. Buster Birther as a certain ring to it.

  2. Iraqis leave the pro-U.S. Awakening Councils to rejoin the Sunni insurgency.

    Something else to blame on Bush.

    1. No, its just business, they are getting paid more by the insurgents then by the government. Especially now that the Iraqi government is in charge of paying them and I bet most of the money is stolen before it leaves Baghdad.

      1. Capitalist pigs conspiring against Obama again. They’re probably racist too.

        1. That’s what I’ve been saying for a long time, but no one takes me seriously.

    2. Since Bush was the one who ordered the invasion that caused the rise ogf the insurgency, yes, this is something to legitimately blame on Bush.

      The best thing Obama can do is get the fuck out and let the Iraqis squabble among themselves. He won’t do that so, yes, the fact that we’re still there is his fault.

      But the fact that we’re there in the first place is Bush’s fault.

      1. It seems like there was some kind of votey thing in Congress at the time, too.

        1. If Bush had not pushed for the vote it would not have happened.

          It’s not like the Congress forced the choice on him.

          1. Kreel Sarloo is right. How soon we forget that it was Bush who rounded up the families of every member of congress holding them hostage until he got the vote in congress that he wanted. To this day I still can’t figure out why he wasn’t arrested for that. I guess it really is true what they say, that when the president does it, it’s not illegal.

            1. Fuck off, Pip, you asshole.

              First off, of course Bush didn’t use any coercive methods to get the votes, and I never suggested that the did.

              He did however submit the resolution. There’s no way CONgress spontaneously came up with it on their own.

              And second, just because he had a vote authorising the use of force didn’t mean he had to act on it by invading.

              Doesn’t matter what kind of gloos you try to put on this turd, the invasion of Iraq is most certainly in the top ten most ill-advised military and foreign policy adventures in the history of this country.

              1. “gloos” sb “gloss”

              2. She was asking for it

              3. The only person here trying to gloss anything is you. You pegged the disingenuous meter with “sure, they said he could but he didn’t have to, therefore it is all his fault.”

                Bush is definitely one of the people to blame but there are plenty more.

                1. Did you know that “Kreel Sarloo” is Dutch for asscunt?

                  1. Why yes, I did!

                  2. I thought it was some kind of fish dish. Oh. Same thing.

                  3. Well done, when the facts do not fit your narrative, just start insulting the messenger.

                2. I agree, the congressscum who voted for the resolution are also at fault. I was remiss in not correctly noting that. But the fact remains that it was not like this was something they would have done absent the administration sending down orders to do so together with the poisoning of the well that came with all the phony intelligence reports that were constantly being trumpetted. All of the lies and fabrications fall squarely in Bush’s lap although, in fairness, I will concede that it’s possible that he was as deceived by the lies of others as he was. Which makes him a fool rather than a knave, which isn’t any better.

                  Bill Clinton and Al Gore bear some responsiblity as well, since they started the steady drumbeat of anti-Sadam rhetoric back in 98 and 99.

                  Which given the nature of the evil asshole Saddam was not hard. The question remains, of all the evil assholes in the world, what made Saddam so special?

          2. “””If Bush had not pushed for the vote it would not have happened.””

            Uh, Congress could have voted no.

            1. I have conceded that Congress is culpable here. But I think it’s important to note who initiated this round.

              I would by every bit as critical of Clinton if he had succeeded in getting his invasion on.

              Ironically, he pretty much failed because the Republicans in Congress made it quite plain the would not vote for a use of force resolutuion for him to topple Saddam.

              1. You mean like in Serbia?
                I would by every bit as critical of Clinton if he had succeeded in getting his invasion on.

                1. Yes, I criticised Clinton over Serbia.

                  And I criticised him for pushing to invade Iraq. He would have been making as big a mistake as Bush did.

                  On the other hand I have serious reservations about him stepping back from pushing the NORKS when he did. And not just because the deal Jimmy Carter made sucked so bad.

    3. From somebody who’s been calling the bring secular democracy to Mesopotamia mission a pipe dream for years –

      Errr, yeah. The ill conceived, unjustifiable invasion and occupation of Iraq is failing. The responsibility for all of the wasted lives and treasure oin this pipe dream rests squarely on the shoulders of Bush the Lesser.

      1. There was a Bush the Greater?

        1. Greater is comparative.

          It still doesn’t necessarily mean GREAT.

        2. It’s all relative, Pip. The old man ranks higher than his son by most estimations.

          Even though he should have done jail time for Iran Contra.

        3. It’s all relative. Daddy didn’t occupy Iraq, he drove them from Kuwait and left.

          US deaths in Desert Shield/Desert Storm* – 148
          US deaths in Operation Iraqi Freedom** (or whatever the official name of this clusterfuck is) as of Dec. 2009 – 4,282.

          * Mission actually accomplished.
          ** Mission failing as we watch.

          1. Mission failing as we watch.

            Depends on what the mission was or should have been. We ascertained whether there were any WMDs and we got rid of Saddam. That should have been enough – fuck Bush’s nation-building.

            1. We didn’t need to sacrifice 4K+ men to determine the status of WMDs; the threat of force had already caused Saddam to allow the UN inspectors back. Bush had the option of letting that play out and responding with a possible more robust international coalition had Saddam proved recalcitrant again.

              As to getting rid of Saddam: While I agree that a dead dictator is a good one, I have to ask, why Saddam. Why not Mugabe or Castro of Kim jom Il?

              1. I have to ask, why Saddam.

                Because the neocons wanted to establish a peramanent US military presence in the Middle East, but wanted to get out of Saudi Arabia.

  3. Grover Norquist vs. Mitch Daniels.

    Monday Night RAW?

  4. Grover Norquist vs. Mitch Daniels.

    How dare Daniels assess the fiscal situation with anything approaching realism? He must be purged, before some actual intellectual rigor finds its way into the rotting center of the Republican party.

    1. Unless the VAT only activates with the repeal of the 16th Amendment, I’m agin it, too.

      1. I’m pretty sure you need the 16th Amendment to make a national VAT constitutional too.

        IIANM it’s necessary to overide that whole apportionment issue.

        1. And a national VAT would be every bit as unapportioned a direct tax as the income tax is.

          1. There is no way short of repealing the 16th Amendment that we won’t get stuck with both income and VAT.

            1. That’s not the point. You need the Sixteenth to have a VAT.

              The Sixteenth did not just allow for an income tax, it allowed for unapportioned direct taxes.

              So unless a VAT is ruled to not be a direct tax (I’m a little hazy on that definition) Congress needs the Sixteenth to have the authority to levy it.

              1. Help us out here H&R legal beagles. Is the VAT a direct or an indirect tax?

                1. either way it’s still theft.

              2. “The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.”

                Emphasis added.

                Direct or indirect, a VAT is not a tax on income.

              3. It allowed for unapportioned taxes on incomes. Since taxes were always paid from income, the reasonable interpretation is that the tax is based on and proportional to income earned. The VAT is not such a tax.

                1. Indirect. The government doesn’t collect it directly from the citizenry, the merchants fork it over.

        2. The Sixteenth did not just allow for an income tax, it allowed for unapportioned direct taxes.

          That’s not what my copy says:

          The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.

          1. Thank you for the correction, NEM and RCD. I should have checked myself, and saved myself embarassment. 🙂

            Given that text, then can Congress levy a VAT without running afoul of Article 1, Section 2, “Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, etc” or is a VAT an indirect tax, like an excise tax?

            If the VAT is a direct tax, then it would need its own ammendment, rather than relying on the 16th, which, as noted, I erroneously thought authorised all unapportioned direct taxes.

            That actually was the thrust of my original muddled line of thinking.

            I’d actually like to hear an answer on that. Frankly, I’ve always found the distinction between a direct and an indirect tax to be somewhat hazy.

            1. And, by the way, having had to deliver that mea culpa, I will now say that I categorically and wholeheartedly agree with Brett L.

              Either a VAT or and income tax, not both.

              God knows that Congress overreaches when it lacks authority. With authority it’s no holds barred.

      2. I’m not saying that Daniels’ ideas are particularly attractive — I just think the ideological “RINO” purging is pretty pathetic.

        Norquist: “This is outside the bounds of acceptable modern Republican thought.”

        Because modern Republican thought has brought us so far. I’m fine if other Republicans want to publicly disagree with Daniels and offer their own ideas for getting this shit under control, but to dismiss him out of hand because he’s not sufficiently conformist is weak shit.

        1. I don’t like a VAT. But it is not unreasonable. Norquist has always been a jerk. That said, I would never trust a former head of the OMB. Daniels is a fucking bean counter. His solution if he ever became President would be to be “statesman like” and raise taxes through the roof. I don’t trust him.

          1. Maybe, maybe not. He was talking about how we’re taxed, not how much. Has he come out for eliminating the tax cuts for people earning over $200,000?

          2. I don’t like a VAT. But it is not unreasonable.

            A VAT is not reasonable if you want limited government. A VAT would fuel a massive expansion of the federal government.

            1. Not only that, but it would require a massive increase in federal record-keeping.

        2. I guess I don’t get exercised about Norquist being against anything that might raise the tax burden of US citizens. That’s his thing. And until someone gives me a solution to experiencing UK style VAT + Income Tax, I’m on Norquist’s side on this one. I view Daniels’ position as the pandering and unserious one, and I’m glad Norquist is bashing him for it.

          1. Yeah, again, it’s not that I think Daniels has it all figured out, it’s just that the insistence on “modern Republican” conformity at the cost of vigorous debate is lamentable.

            1. Meh. Politco’s slant will always be that Republicans are unreasonable ideologues and anyone who isn’t is unwelcome. I put this in the vein of ‘Democrats compromise too often’ articles. Daniels will be on stage in Iowa and New Hampshire a year from now.

              1. Politco’s slant will always be that Republicans are unreasonable ideologues and anyone who isn’t is unwelcome.

                Probably, although I was reacting to a direct quote of Norquist’s. Tough to say that his own words are the result of media “slant”.

      3. I was going to say this.

        Same way I feel about the FAIR tax. Only with the repeal of the 16th.

        Still would prefer a Single Land Tax over income, vat or sales tax. And I mean the Single part.

    2. The broader point of the article was that it is nearly impossible for Republicans to have nuanced conversations about policy because of the knee-jerk style of broader Republican campaigning. In other words, Norquist prefers demagoguery.

    3. Daniels should know better than to be honest and address problems in a thoughtful way. Although the hidden nature of VATs make it less effective at creating anti-spending sentiments than a retail sales tax.

  5. Obama better not cut in Kari’s screen time.

  6. Obama being on Mythbusters is like having Bigfoot host the show.

  7. From the Obama on Mythbusters article, apparently they’re doing the Archimedes death beam again.

    Lucky viewers – both the show and the guest host will feel like a rerun from the Bush years…

    1. On this episode, President Obama announces to the world that the U.S. has an orbital deathbeam.

      1. Also, in unrelated news, Sarah Palin’s house spontaneously bursts into flames.

        1. Is she his archenemy?

          1. she is the krypto the wonder dog to his lex luthor

            1. No way he’s smart enough to be Luthor.

              I have to say that the argument that Obama and Palin were basically equivalent in being ready for the White House is proving true. Maybe next time we won’t be so collectively foolish.

    2. Reuters article with picture.

      Adam needs a haircut… before he burns more of his hair off.

  8. “If you win the NCAA championship, you come to the White House,” Obama said back then. “Well, if you’re a young person and you produce the best experiment or design, the best hardware or software, you ought to be recognized for that achievement, too.”

    Only an idiot or someone with a irrational hatred of Obama could argue with that.

    1. Obama’s geekyness is one redeeming quality I can see in the man.

    2. I’d argue with it.

      How about the President just go about the business of governing the country, instead of holding stupid two-bit photo op events every day?

      The problem isn’t that the NCAA champs go to the White House and the kids who win the Westinghouse Prize don’t. The problem is that the NCAA champs go to the White House.

      1. “”How about the President just go about the business of governing the country, instead of holding stupid two-bit photo op events every day?””

        Are you sure Fluffy? I think I prefer Obama doing nothing but two-bit photo ops, 24/7.

  9. Only an idiot or someone with a irrational hatred of Obama could argue with that.

    The White House invite is fine. Just stay off my other TV shows.

  10. Benoit Mandelbrot, RIP.

    Indeed. He helped bring us into a new world of mathematics. If you don’t know of his work, you should. You don’t have to grok the math to appreciate the mind-blowing beauty of
    the Mandelbrot Set
    .

    1. Elsewhere I made a fractional dimension joke about Mandlebrot’s death…but had this weird nagging after I did it…and sure enough, the Hausdorff dimension of the boundary of the Mandlebrot Set is 2.

      Fuckin’ math, screwin’ with my jokes.

      1. Well, yeah, I could have told you that, since my adviser has done a lot with computing Hausdorff dimension of random processes in the plane.

        Incidentally, I know a mathmematician (John Hubbard) who disliked Mandelbrot because of Mandelbrot’s habit of theorizing (with remarkably good intuition) but leaving the details of the proofs to others. Hubbard felt that the Mandelbrot set should have been named after himself, but his co-author Douady disagreed.

  11. I saw the republican candidate, Melissa Haluszczak, this morning on my way to work. She was holding a sign saying “Hello, I’m Melissa Haluszczak”. While a dozen or so other people held other signs.

    She’s really attractive for a politician or at least as far as I could see as I pulled on to the parkway. This is PA’s 14th District, Pittsburgh and the western bit of Allegheny county. She doesn’t have a chance, so I’ll vote for her. I looked at the NYtimes election guide. The incumbent, Mike Doyle, is YES to stimulus, health care, tarp and his biggest contributors are the unions. I’m told I get the government I deserve, meh.

    It was nice to see someone I can vote for yelling at cars on a cold morning (45deg). I can’t imagine Doyle doing the same, probably because he doesn’t need to.

    1. Jesus, this place is overrun with yinzers.

      1. And apparently, mathematicians, too.

      2. Seriously. We need to have a Hit&Run; night of drunkenness and debauchery on the South Side one of these times.

    2. Which ramp was she standing on, by the way? I know the parkway better than I care to admit.

      1. 376 @ swissvale/edgewood on south braddock by regent square.

        There’s always a decent backup heading into the squirrel hill tunnel so she was visible to many for a good bit. I get some juicy schadenfreude every morning as I drive past 3-4 miles of bumper-to-bumper at 70mph. The tradeoff is I have to work in Monroeville.

    3. Melissa Haluszczak’s Education
      University of Phoenix
      MBA , Business , 2001 ? 2004

      I attended the On-line University to achieve my Masters Degree in Business Administration.

      Nice.

    4. Melissa Haluszczak’s Education
      University of Phoenix
      MBA , Business , 2001 ? 2004

      I attended the On-line University to achieve my Masters Degree in Business Administration.

      Your post (#1955484) has been marked as spam by a third-party spam filter. If this is a mistake, please email webmaster@reason.com.

  12. I can see how an ordinance mandating that lawns be kept mowed is considered a reasonable exercise of police power, and does not violate the 13th amendment.
    But I have never understood how a military draft is not a clear and unambiguous violation of the 13th.

    1. Because they had used the draft before the 13th Amendment and nothing in the debate around the 13th Amendment indicates that it was meant to end the scourge of the draft. While in a technical sense you can call the draft “slavery”, it is not “slavery” in the meaning that the drafters were using it when they wrote the 13th Amendment. They were talking about slavery in a very strict sense of owning people for life and buying and selling them.

      1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude,

      2. John, I am sure that what you say is the reason why selective service will never be eliminated on 13th amendment grounds. But a military draft seems like a pretty clear cut example of “involuntary servitude”.

        1. The Supreme Court has already ruled on that once before. Essentially their finding was that it was neither involuntary nor servitude, because all the finest despots of Europe had been engaging in it for centuries, and because it was an honor and a privilege and a duty to become cannon fodder for the government of one’s country. ( Clumbsy reasoning, I know, but they hadn’t thought of applying interstate commerce yet.) I don’t have a link, but it shouldn’t be difficult to find info about it on the web.

          1. That ruling, Dred Scott, and Korenamatsu (or however it’s spelled) have got to be the worst decisions the court has ever made

            1. Buck vs. Bell… No shortage of shitty decisions.

        2. “”But a military draft seems like a pretty clear cut example of “involuntary servitude”.””

          Abled bodies being called to war isn’t servitude, you are paid for your service. It was the way our founders expected us to defend this country without a standing army.

          1. Any country that doesn’t deserve my voluntary support is not going to be happy with the way I perform if involuntarily forced to support it.

            1. That’s sort of a checks and balance against sending troops to places that are not really for our defense. If the run of the mill citizen doesn’t support it, it would be more difficult to wage war.

              But if a commie army crossed over the Tex/Mex border, you’re grabbing your rifle, right?

      3. Pretty sure pornography existed in 1789, and that the first amendment debates didn’t center around protecting pornography.

        If the original meaning of the words covers the draft, it doesn’t matter whether the drafters of the amendment meant for it to apply to the draft.

    2. 6 inches seems ridiculous.

      My mini-city (My house is in two cities, so have to distinguish) passed a law last winter limiting to 18 inches after some one challenged them over getting billed for the city mowing their lawn. They didnt have a specific number before that. I think 18 inches is reasonable but borderline. At a certain point, long grass becomes a hazard (rats and snakes that dont obey boundary lines). I have an empty lot next to me that I turned into the city twice this year, both times after it got waist high. The first time, the city mowed it 2 days later, the second time it took them a few weeks, I think someone else turned them in too that time.

      1. I haven’t mowed my back yard since the the first week in July and it looks okay. Plus the birds and small animals like it as it provided cover.

      2. 6 is a bit too much. At that point it is really just an aesthetic issue.

        Where I live, the lawn is just a place near the house which is neither trees nor brush and the surrounding area is full of snakes and squirrels, so I always forget that in a more suburban area, places for rats and snakes to breed is an actual problem.

        1. and the surrounding area is full of snakes and squirrels,

          You live in Washington, DC.?

  13. He’s no libertarian, but this makes me like Rand Paul a little bit.

    1. This Kentucky race has my head spinning. Now the Democrat is accusing the Republican of not being Christian enough?

      1. I prefer the House Democrat from West Virginia that explained that not believing in global warming is like not believing in Santa Claus:

        “Climate change ? to deny it exists, to just put your head in the sand and, ‘oh no, it doesn’t exist, what are you talking about,’ is about like standing on the floor of Macy’s during the month of December and claiming Santa Claus doesn’t exist. Come on, get real.”

        In case it’s not clear, he’s arguing that both exist.

        1. “Like Santa Claus, global warming exists as a way of generating revenue for certain people who have no interest in the truth or falsity of the matter.”

        2. Fuckin’ sick, I’m asking that fat bastard for tons of shit this year.

        3. Yes, West Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.

  14. The 13th Amendment in the news.

    Ridiculous. Nobody is forcing these people to have “lawns” in the first place. Personally, I prefer a nice Zen Garden. Yes, stones are maintenance free, and non-permanent. Now, if you want to argue from a private property rights position, that’s a different story.

    1. WE will decide whether your stones need to be maintained or if they are non-permanent. Don’t forget to pay your dues, either, peasant.

    2. “”Ridiculous. Nobody is forcing these people to have “lawns” in the first place. “”

      I don’t know if that’s true. Many cities, counties, and home owner associations have various rules about your lawn. While I know of no rule requiring a lawn, considering the amount of nannying that has surfaced in the name of property values, I’m guessing that somewhere, such a rule does exist.

      1. I am required to have grass in my front lawn. I can get away with no grass in the back, but the front must have grass of the three approved varieties.

      2. Yes, many cities in Florida also have laws mandating not only that you have a lawn but that you have a lawn with a specific variety of grass.

        Mostly St Augustine, which is not only high maintenence but requires prodigious amounts of water.

        If the city you live in doesn’t have such a law it’s quite probable that it’s one of the regs of you Homeowners Association if your unlucky enough to have one.

    3. Seems like Orange county may have such a law in place.

      http://latimesblogs.latimes.co…..-lawn.html

  15. I think the Politico is very scared of Mitch Daniels. He doesn’t compute in their establishment minds.

  16. Fact or myth: the Commerce Clause authorizes congress to mandate the purchase of health insurance by all adult citizens?

    1. Also, how could the Mythbusters team investigate this in the form of breaking something or blowing something up?

      1. They could investigate if an alien spaceship could really blow up the White House like in Independence Day, maybe.

        1. Yes, but the president will be with them, so what good will that do?

    2. Busted.

    3. Yes, BG, it does. And everyone SHOULD be forced to purchase health insurance, because that’s how we maintain our freedom in the long run.

      1. God I hope that is a spoof.

    1. Just in time for winter.

  17. Not that anyone cares, but I’m quitting the NFL prediction business.

    1. the house always wins, that NE/BAL game was so rigged.

    2. Don’t take any lines over 3 for the rest of the year.

    3. I remembered that when the game went into OT.

      Every last person who bet on that game got fucked.

      HA-ha! [Nelson voice]

    4. You can make a 10% return by betting against the Pirates to lose every game. Keep that in mind next baseball season.

      1. That is a confusing first sentence. Just to clarify, bet against the Pirates in every game.

        1. I don’t know, they might go .500 next year, they did fire the manager.

          I’m pretty sure if I started betting against the pirates, they’d start winning just enough to make me lose.

      2. This is in a parallel universe where bookmakers have no concept of “odds”?

  18. I’m not a fan of lawn care laws, and I would vote against them. However, it is possible to argue for them on public health grounds, because tall herbs attract vermin. If I was faced with the fine, I would pay it. Then I would replace my lawn with gravel. I would use 2 colors of gravel so that I could spell something interesting with the landscape design.

    1. I would replace my lawn with a giant trampoline.

    2. “”However, it is possible to argue for them on public health grounds, because tall herbs attract vermin.””

      Be careful though. That same arugment could be used against parents that let their kids play in woods. It’s too unhealty so you’re putting the kids at risk when you go camping. Just sayin

      1. Different argument. The problem with lawn vermin is they dont obey property lines. Last year, when the city finally got around to cutting my neighbors yard, a snake immediately ran across my yard. No danger, it wasnt anything poisonous, but still, didnt make me happy.

        The kids in woods is a voluntary choice.

        1. “”The kids in woods is a voluntary choice.””

          You are choosing to voluntary expose you kids to a unhealthy atmosphere of the woods. One day government may not like that.

  19. Iraqis leave the pro-U.S. Awakening Councils to rejoin the Sunni insurgency.

    This just goes to show that we can’t buy allies.

    Why is the military given the task of building Iraq? A military is for winning a war, not building a nation. The Peace Corps has decades of experience building nations. I motion that we pull the military out of Iraq and send the Peace Corps in.

    1. We should pack up every dues-paying member of the UAW and send to rebuild Iraq.

  20. Barack Obama, Mythbuster?

    Aw, Jeez. I’m just getting over barfing at Top Chef‘s visit to CIA Headquarters where they fawned all over Leon Panetta.

  21. gvdsfsdNice post.It’s all in the eyes and where they are looking~

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