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[Original publish on Eclecitifying]

This article shows Peter Higgs to be a true scientist. He makes sure everyone gets their due credit, he is modest. But his last quote encapsulates a lot of what science is:

It's very nice to be right sometimes
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Mon Sep 30, 2013 at 04:27 PM PDT

Obama’s Other Option

by kenarnold

[Originally published in Eclectifying]

I have pointed out that the nation is on the horns of a trilemma about the upcoming debt ceiling vote.

Henry Aaron points out that this puts Obama himself on the horns of a separate dilemma (a more ordinary beast, but still uncomfortable). In brief, his argument is this: The Constitution requires the president to (1) spend what Congress tells him to spend; (2) tax only what Congress tells him to tax; and (3) borrow only what Congress tells him to borrow.

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Sat Sep 28, 2013 at 09:56 AM PDT

The Nation’s Trilemma

by kenarnold

[Originally published on Eclectifying]

The Republicans have succeeded in getting us onto the horns of a trilemma. This is quite an achievement: Usually one ends up on the horns a mere dilemma, caught on the two horns of a bull. But the contortions of the Republicans around Obamacare have actually gotten us onto three horns of what must be a rather unique kind of bull.

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Tue Sep 17, 2013 at 11:55 AM PDT

Bumbling Away from War

by kenarnold

Originally published on Eclecitfying

I’m in favor of the current thrust towards resolving the Syrian chemical weapons problem without war. If the disarmament can be made to work it is far preferable to an uncertain future after we kill more people by remote control in the Middle East.

That said, I have to say I was stunned by how it happened. An offhand remark by our Secretary of State turned out to actually describe a workable path forward. A remark that he tried to walk back.

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[Cross posted from Eclectifying]

At the risk of aiding the idiots attempting to take over the asylum, permit me to instruct the Republicans in basic hostage taking skills:

If you threaten to kill someone’s child unless they blow something up, you at least have human nature on your side.

Threatening to blow something up unless they kill their own child doesn’t work so well.

This is the most basic reason why threatening to destroy the gov’t and/or economy unless Obama kills Obamacare is going to fail.

“The party of stupid” indeed.

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Cross posted from Eclectifying

Seriously, that''™s the headline.

The headline alone is worth framing. And it turns out to be literally true. In the literal meaning of "literal”.

This sets a new standard on two things: Headlines and counter-protest tactics. I look forward to our brave new world that has such people in’t!

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Cross posted from Eclectifying

The age-old tactic of out-lawyering those who you couldn’t actually beat in court — piling on the law suits and legal threats so that your opponent can’t afford to fight you, even if you’re wrong — that tactic works against the Feds.

In fact, it turns out not to be that hard. You only need to have tens of millions of dollars to hire folks with. We, the People, it turns out, are legal wimps.

Even if you’re Jeff Skilling, a creator of Enron, one of the most famous frauds in our lifetime, one that harmed not only the employees and investors, but also millions of people (remember the fake power crisis in California they invented to jack up prices?), and you were a poster child for financial nefariousness. We the People will just get tired of hassling you and being hassled back. And anyway, we can put those resources towards prosecuting all those other financial criminals.

Except we won’t. Won’t. Won’t. Won’t.

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Crossposted from Eclectifying

The more complicated an issue is, the more you can figure things out by asking who is for or against it.

Taxes are one of the most complicated things in government, and so it is the perfect place to apply this approach. Neil Irwin at Wonkblog recently wrote up a perfect example: Why is it that most folks can’t get their taxes done automatically?

The IRS knows your wage income, your interest/dividend income, your likely number of dependents, and so on. It could give you a web page with your tax form that had these numbers filled in, let you modify and add what you needed to, and then submit it, along with payment. Honestly, any competent web company could throw that together after their Friday beer party. And for most people, filing their Federal taxes would become more an annoyance than an agony.

Why don’t they do this?

Because they aren’t allowed to. Congress won’t authorize it. The legislation has always been sucked down into the lobbyist Vortex of Nada.

Who would be against that? Well, the list has some obvious members. Intuit and other tax software people clearly would oppose it. As would H&R Block and other accountants.

But what isn’t so obvious is that the anti-tax right wing is part of the opposition as well.

It’s fascinating what you can learn about by this kind of “Who supports it?" indirection. The anti-tax people don’t want it to be easy to pay your taxes. One reason is that if it is easy, you might not care as much about paying it. Which is kind of weird actually. If your taxes are too high, paying it easily doesn’t make them any less high.

What they want is for you to despise paying taxes. The more you hate it, the more support they have against taxes. Agony and angst translate into opposition. Even if you only paid a penny in taxes, making you suffer over it for hours, worry about it all year, and possibly even pay someone to calculate that you owed only a penny — that would make you think taxes were bad.

Even if that could be fixed by a some half-drunk 20-somethings in Silicon Valley in an afternoon.

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