Wisconsin Assembly “Debate”

The Wisconsin Assembly went into session around noon on Tuesday, and has been in “debate” since then on Assembly Bill 11, Governor Walker’s budget repair bill. Through Wiseye I have been listening to the proceedings in my office when I can during the day, and have watched and listened to quite a bit at night. I have learned a lot.

What we have here is a massive stall tactic by the Assembly Democrats, who are hopelessly outnumbered 58-38. They have proposed well over one hundred amendments to AB11 (thus far), all of which have been tabled (or killed) by the Assembly Republicans. The “debate” over each amendment has been mostly the Democrats making fun of the Republicans, calling them Scott Walker’s errand boys, and the like. We hear many sad stories from constituents of the Democrats districts, and endless droning on each and every amendment. Of course they have picked up the new lefty meme du jour, talking out their ass about things they know nothing about, such as the Koch brothers and selling power plants.

At the end of the testimony we have a vote on tabling the amendment. Each and every time, it ends up 58-38. 58-38. 58-38. The amendment is tabled. Over and over and over.

On occasion the Republicans will fire back with a question or two and there is an actual “debate” over a factoid. But in large, the Democrats are just stalling.

I assume this was the case when the Democrats had the majority, but really don’t know. I highly doubt that those sessions went this long.

As of this morning there isn’t any news that the Assembly has passed anything and there is no coverage on Wiseye so everyone must have decided to take a nap.

I think it was Bismarck who said (and I am paraphrasing) that nobody should see how two things are made – war and sausages. I think that legislation should be added to that list.

UPDATE 6.13am – the Assembly is back in session.

Even if Gaddafi Holds On…

Gaddafi is not going to give up without a fight. He is using African mercenaries and all of the military assets at his disposal (fighter jets, anti-aircraft guns, apparently naval vessels moored off Tripoli) along with his thuggish militias in order to hold on to Tripoli and parts of the West. The East has fallen to anti-Gaddafi protesters and to date he doesn’t seem to have made significant efforts to retake that portion of the country.

The difficulty for Gaddafi is that even if he is able to hold on to some segment of the country around Tripoli, he is finished economically. Even the most die-hard sanctions buster won’t do business with him now that he has used these types of heavy weapons against unarmed demonstrators. The Western nations won’t help him; paradoxically because he is weak now they will wait out his downfall and do business with his successor (or many successors, if the nation splits up) rather than paying the immense public relations price of working with a dictator with so much blood on his hands.

It is interesting that people assume that the borders are inviolate. As it has been noted many times the borders of Africa that the colonial nations agreed upon do not necessarily make sense; but for many reasons it hasn’t made sense to attempt to re-map them along different lines. The one recent exception is South Darfur and this could prove contagious.

It is not out of the realm of possibility that Egypt would attempt to take dominion over the oil rich provinces of the Eastern half of the country. There are many affinities between tribes in adjacent areas along their border. This could be done under the guise of a humanitarian mission if Gaddafi attempts to re-take the East; the Egyptian army could intervene (and would swat away Gaddafi’s militias) and then de-facto control the East under the “boots on the ground” theory. While no one knows for certain it seems that there are > 500,000 Egyptians on the ground in Libya; I don’t know about ANY of these numbers because I have heard that many Africans from neighboring countries are also there but when you add up all of these non Libyan residents it seems like an impossibly large proportion of the population.

Given that no one expected Libya to fall in the first place and that Libya seems to be a nation with little civil society and cooperation between regions it could just splinters into multiple, smaller states each tethered to their respective oil wealth. Ironically the disappearance of Gaddafi could re-invigorate the oil industry which had been crippled by sanctions until ENI (Italy oil major) came in and basically signed deals with him to bring more capacity on line.

Assorted Links

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin will be making a trans-continental trip to India in March to speak at the India Today 2011 conclave in New Delhi, Palin aide Rebecca Mansour tweeted Wednesday.

The Daily Caller

I first saw the news of Sarah Palin planning to visit India “tweeted” at an Indian think tank website – the Takshashila Institution.

AMERICA’S MACROSTRATEGIC environment is chockablock with assets unavailable to any other country. If nothing else, the United States has an often-overlooked and oft-neglected bulwark of allies: the Anglosphere. This is Washington’s inner circle of defense ties, and it finds no equivalent in its competitor nations’ strategic arsenals. The Anglosphere is perennially—and incorrectly—declared dead or in decline by the media and politicians. Nevertheless, Great Britain, Canada, Australia and the United States remain extremely close in their military and intelligence relations and exchange vast volumes of sensitive information daily, as they have for decades. On terrorism, virtually anything and everything is shared. The National Security Agency and Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters have been nearly inextricable since World War II. The same is largely true of the CIA and Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service. The various English-speaking nations, in practical terms, even assign individual parts of the world to each other, and each worries about the others’ security equities.

Robert D. Kaplan, Stephen S. Kaplan – The National Interest (via CNAS)

The GOP is prepping the battlefield badly II.

It’s Easier to Blame Congress:

Whereas the 1995 shutdowns involved presidential vetoes, a 2011 version could result from Congressional failure to send the president a continuing resolution in the first place. The blame will thus fall on Capitol Hill instead of the White House. True, Democrats control the Senate and would arguably share responsibility for a deadlock. But as was the case 16 years ago, a gifted communicator sits in the White House and sets the tone for his fellow Democrats. Together, they will point the finger at the G.O.P. If the Republicans are as splintered as they were in 1995, they will again lose the war of perceptions.


Part I here.

Conflicts of Interest Inside of Government

You know, it amazes me that people never see conflicts of interest internal to government itself. The USDA guidelines are a prime example.

Think about it. The guidelines purport to be an objective assessment of what food we should all buy and consume, but what is the USDA primary mandate? Oh, yeah, to advance the interests of agricultural producers in the US. It’s the Department of Agriculture, not the Department of People Who Eat.

Like all “regulatory” agencies USDA has long ago succumbed to regulatory capture, and now exists largely as just a means for people who make their livings in agriculture to advance their economic interests using the power of the state. The USDA only has an institutional incentive to advance the welfare of food producers. The USDA has no institutional incentive to look out for the welfare of food consumers.

By sheer coincidence, the USDA recommendations for the percentage of a particular type of food we should eat always seems to roughly parallel the relative economic size of the agricultural sector that produces that food. I wonder why?

One of the biggest reforms we could make in government would be to legally separate promotional, regulatory and research powers.

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