Thursday, August 28, 2008

Time for Joe to go

Okay Senator Reid, enough is enough. As much as it pains me to say it, it's time for you to strip Senator Joe Lieberman of his seniority and his chairmanship.

First and foremost, let's clear up a misconception. If Lieberman caucuses with the Republicans in the Senate, won't the senate be split 50-50 the way it was in 2001, with Vice President Cheney give the Republicans control? No.

Each two-year congress passes an organizing resolution at the start of its term. Most organizing resolutions (including the one passed in 2007) contain no mechanism for the senate to switch control, even if the majority party actually becomes the minority party. This actually happened in the 83rd congress in 1953-1954. Though the Democrats at times had a majority, LBJ remained minority leader. (Read more about it here.)

The only way that the senate leadership and committee chairmanships can actually change control is if such a mechanism is actually written into the organizing resolution, as it was in 2001, which was subsequently used when then VT. Sen Jim Jeffords switched parties. For the same to happen this year, the new Republican majority would have to pass a new organizing resolution, which of course could be filibustered by the 50 Democratic senators. This may have PR consequences, but it likely will be only for the final few months of this congress' term.

Now - why have I finally given up on Lieberman? I actually like him - I like who he is - I like the fact that there's an observant Jew in congress - I like his positions on most issues. I remember the moment in 2000 when Al Gore picked him - I was never prouder to be an American Jew. Furthermore, I lived in Connecticut for 4 years after that, and thought that Lieberman was all in all an excellent advocate for the state.

Furthermore, in 2006, I had a relatively strong aversion to Ned Lamont. Primarily, I think Lamont's opposition to the war in Iraq came far too late. Unlike Senators Jack Reed and Russ Feingold, or then State Sen. Barack Obama, Lamont waited until it was politically easy to oppose the war. I have a hard time giving him much credit with that. So, had I voted in CT that year, I would have voted for Lieberman in the primary, and likely still voted for him in the general election.

However, now is different. Refusing to endorse a presidential candidate is one thing (a la Sen. Chuck Hagel). Endorsing a candidate from the other party whom you agree with is one thing (a la former Sen. Linc Chaffee). But attacking your own party's candidate is another (a la former Sen. Zell Miller). We'll see what Lieberman's speech is like next week. But if he specifically attacks Senator Obama as unfit to lead this country, Reid should boot him out.

Joementum can carry him somewhere he's wanted.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Best tailor in Manhattan

If anyone needs a tailor, go to Silhouettes & Profiles.

The tailors there (supervised by Irene) do an excellent job in a short amount of time at a reasonable price. Furthermore, Irene strives to produce excellent work. I tried on a pair of pants she had worked on, and she saw that the seam wasn't straight (from a past tailor). She offered to fix it in 10 minutes at no charge (after closing hours).

Finally, when my total bill came to $63, but neither of us had change for a $20, she said to call it $60. First vendor I've even been to who rounded more than $0.04 in my favor.

So, for your suits and dresses, go see Irene at Silhouettes & Profiles.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Obama/Biden and Hillary Clinton

Continuing my previous post about Bill Richardson, Hillary Clinton's stock has also gone up.

Ignore that fact that Clinton was not picked to be Obama's running mate; this was never going to happen. Clinton's stock has gone up Obama has gone with the Cheney model: a vice president who won't be eyeing running for president in eight years.

Biden will be 73 in 2016, too old to run for a first term (remember the political cartoons in '96 about Dole choosing which set of teeth to wear that day?). Clinton, on the other hand, will be 68, which, in most cases is young enough to run, especially for a woman (given that women on average live longer than men). A Tim Kaine or Evan Bayh pick would have made it very difficult for Clinton to run in 2016. Joe Biden means that the 2016 race could be Clinton's for the taking.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Obama/Biden and Bill Richardson

There's another ex-presidential candidate whose stock just went up: NM Gov. Bill Richardson. There has been an open question since Richardson endorsed IL Sen. Barack Obama (which caused former/perenial Clinton strategist James Carville to call him Judas, since Richardson had served in two capacities in then-President Bill Clinton's cabinet): what did Richardson want?

Richardson is savvy enough to know that there was no chance that Obama would put him on the ticket. Having an African American nominee is incredible. Having him pick a Hispanic VP candidate is too much. Richardson knew that the best he could hope for would be Secretary of State.

Richardson's main rival for that position was none other than DE Sen. Joe Biden. So, Richardson must have breathed a sigh of relief on Saturday morning when Obama took Biden out of running for State. In some ways, this is a better allocation than the other way around. Richardson may have spent a decade in the house, but he's more of a negotiator and an executive than a legislative mastermind. Furthermore, Richardson did not prove to be the best campaigner or debater last year. Biden, on the other hand, knows the legislative process better than almost all active politicians.

This must all be very exciting for Richardson, as he just became the front runner to be the first Hispanic Secretary of State and the highest ranking Hispanic in American history.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Lower the drinking age

In today's Chicago Tribune, Steve Chapman argues that the drinking age should stay at 21.

Chapman is wrong. Chapman fails to understand what a draconian drinking age does to binge drinking for 16-20 year olds. Underage drinkers, unable to buy alcohol in a safe commerical setting (with a sober bar tenders who cannot serve them if they are visibly impaired), instead consume in private, unsafe settings.

Furthermore, especially on college campuses, binge drinkers are loathe to seek medical attention, since they rightly fear disciplinary action. This compounds the situation above, where underage drinkers are incentivized to drink quickly and privately, and then not seek medicial attention if needed. Surely public safety is not best being serve.

Chapman makes the argument that a higher drinking age lowers drunk driving deaths. This is not the best way to prevent drunk driving. Drunk driving requires not just a drunk individual, but also a car. The answer to drunk driving is therefore to have more police patrols late at night, and more draconian punishments for drunk driving (long time license suspensions, car confiscation, jail time), rather than less alcohol. If society is serious about preventing drunk driving, then a DUI should be treated as a very serious crime with very serious consequences.

One final idea: Perhaps those between the ages of 18 and 21 should be able to drink legally under certain circumstances. Perhaps one must have a high school degree or GED to drink legally. Or, one must have to pass an alcohol awareness course. Regardless, our current law should be changed.