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Below are the 7 most recent journal entries recorded in James of England's LiveJournal:

Sunday, January 1st, 2012
5:49 pm
Mitt and Newt's record on Spending

I've developed a sense that while Mitt is recognized to be interested in cutting spending, he is seen as having been half-hearted in office. I have even seen this moderation contrasted with Newt's Contract With America. As we haven't seen a federal spending cut as radical as Mitt's cuts in Massachusetts since the Depression, this seems hard to fathom.

As such, I thought it was worth laying out the actual figures. Here's Mitt's record on spending in Massachusetts, according to SunshineReview.com. SunshineReview took its figures from the Massachusetts Budget And Policy Centre website, which I would encourage people to explore: it has a lot of detail on where those cuts took place. "Real" spending means spending in constant dollars as opposed to nominal spending which does not adjust for inflation. Mitt's budgets are bolded.

Fiscal YearNominal Government SpendingReal Government SpendingReal Change from Prior Year
200122,655.9333,396.95n/a
200223,289.7833,617.370.70%
200323,011.6232,046.56-4.70%
200423,331.7731,350.89-2.20%
200524,846.9831,610.590.80%
200626,592.2031,811.760.60%
200729,913.9234,194.837.50%
200831,694.4234,213.720.10%
Compare, for instance, Newt's contract with America according to the Office of Management and Budget. These figures are in 2005 dollars, and again include surrounding years with Newt's years bolded.

19921,857.919971,916.1
19931,845.519981,958.8
19941,878.919991,989.5
19951,896.620002,040.5
19961,906.720012,072.6

For Perry's budgets, see here. I don't include them because I don't think they are a fair comparison: Texas was growing its population fast and needed more spending. Also, I didn't find them in real terms, only nominal. Santorum, Bachmann and Paul cannot be blamed for their budgets, having little influence over even one chamber of one branch. I have not included Huntsman's terrible record on spending as it seems like needless cruelty. I do include the change over the two Congressional terms before Gingrich took over, as I believe it is responsive to the claim that federal spending cannot be restrained any better than Newt managed to restrain it.
Sunday, November 7th, 2010
5:02 am
2010
I thought I'd note my initial thoughts on the mid-terms. The sesquicentennial of the first Republican President seems like a good day to do it.  In descending order of priority:

 

 

State LegislaturesCollapse )

 

The HouseCollapse )

 

Gubernatorial RacesCollapse )

 

CaliforniaCollapse )

 

SenateCollapse )

 

Tea Party/ PalinCollapse )


General themesCollapse )


Thursday, July 29th, 2010
11:12 pm
Sunday, March 21st, 2010
5:42 am

I thought that this was very pleasing. WaPo is not the best vote count (that's Firedoglake.com). They list Driehaus, for instance, as a Yes, when his local newspaper was quoting his spokesman for this story, headlined "Driehaus against Senate health plan". When you've got a third of the votes "undecided", it's embarrasing to be wrong on those you do pin down.  Anyway, while I'll admit to having spent an hour or two every now and then poring over counts, it's a mugs game.

The beautiful thing about the WaPo chart is that it includes the two big cynical stories in American politics. The far right column contains a proxy for "bringing home the bacon"; the levels of uninsured constituents, some of whom would receive federal subsidies. The next to the left lists industry donations. They don't sort quite right because some idiot formatted them as text rather than numbers, so they file by leading digit, but you can still see lengthy stretches of continuity. And there's no pattern or correlation. There's only one lump that I could see in either ranking; the CHC are all voting Yes and dominate the top of the % uninsured list. Even that seems ideological rather than venal, though.

Even more so, this is a moment which people are describing American politics as being at its worst, and not without reason. Still, much of the stuff in the senate special deals has been removed, Rep. Matherson's brother's judicial nomination doesn't appear to have purchased his vote, Rep. Gordon seems to have refused the NASA directorship. There's plenty of substance to feel pride or shame in depending on your views and today's outcome, but I'd hope that we could all take pride in the decency of the system.
Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010
4:24 am
Finally leaving for Baghdad!

I will be working for the Trade Bank of Iraq (there is a newer website on the way). After endless fuss about when I would be going, I'm now set to miss the elections (*grumble*), but be there fairly shortly after.  This has the happy coincidence that I should head out to the new democracy around the 1689th week of my life.

Possibly the best surprise about it is that I'm set to travel a good deal more, both domestically and internationally, than I'd imagined. I'm beyond jazzed. Even the preparation, the meetings with business and political leaders over here, is just mind-blowing in the volume of new and surprising information I'm being confronted with.


Wednesday, January 20th, 2010
5:07 am
A sad chapter, somewhat satisfyingly closed.
Way back in the day, I decided to go to a law school in London because I wanted to defend people accused of child abuse. I remain proud of a woman I thought I would marry, telemicus, who worked academically with some of the literature on recovered memory and whose soon to be awesome job will hopefully see her improve interviewing techniques in ways that reduce future injustice. Gamers on my Flist will perhaps remember my Liam Sidhe, Phileosou, whose background was based around the bizarreness of the cases that most interested me. One of those cases concerned the Amirault family. For me the most amazing detail was the alleged sodomy of a 4 year old with a butcher's knife. There was no physical wound caused, and the 4 year old's story contained the heartbreakingly charming claim that a teacher had seen Gerald Amirault in action and told him not to do it again. I read a lot of kid's testimonies, and this case included some of the most transparently "from the imagination of a child" quotes I read anywhere. To this day, it saddens me that juries could be moved to convict in cases like this, and I still don't really have an explanation for it.

When I was reading about them, Martha Coakley was the DA who was maintaining the case. I read less about the Souza family, but they were also hers, and about as clearly nutty (a lot of my reading and discussion was in a gamer environment, and the Souza stuff was just too weird to fit into the paradigm of the horror game we played). My British Flist might know her as the woman who wrongfully convicted Louise Woodward.

Tonight, she lost her bid to become the junior Senator for Massachusetts. With her party desperate to lay as much of the blame as possible on her, her political career appears to be over, other than her remaining year as MA's Attorney General. With most of the other DAs who pulled this stuff finally out of office (Jagels leaving last year), and most of the accused free (although some still being on the sex offender's registry and such), she really was one of the last of the great beasts. 

I'd have been particularly happy with the way she ended, if only for bellabrigida's sake, no matter how she ran her campaign. She worked hard to make it even more special, though, eventually winning her competition with Keith Olbermann for most bile inducing slur. Her particular focus was on a conscience clause that Brown had proposed in an amendment to a bill that mandated that women claiming rape be provided with emergency contraception. This amendment would have allowed medical practitioners to refuse to provide the EC personally, so long as they arranged for someone else to do it, with each objector's policy being approved by the state. Brown's amendment failed, but he felt that it was more important that rape victims had easy access to EC than that religious freedom was preserved, so he voted for the passage of the final bill without his amendment. Coakley did not not voice strong feelings about conscience clauses, either, in general, supporting the similar clause in the healthcare reform bill,  partly included due to Ted Kennedy's support for them. The shamelessness that characterized her career as a prosecutor led her to describe a clause that she was committed to making federal law as follows: "1,736 women were raped in Massachusetts in 2008. Scott Brown wants hospitals to turn them all away."

I should probably be happier when Byrd leaves the Senate than when Coakley was excluded from it; Coakley would likely have been a less bad senator in terms of the policies she believed in. There are other politicians whose judgment I'm not fond of; the removal of Sen. Dole was for me the undisputed best aspect of the '08 election. Still, there's something tremendously wonderful about seeing a great and persistent evil being defeated, and I think that this is as good as a senate race is going to get from that perspective. The good that returning open debate to the senate will do for the country is almost gravy.

Edit: I was called on for not giving links. Everything in here is easily googleable, though, and I think people tend to trust stuff they discover for themselves. The Amirault and Souza cases are very much worth reading about, though, and I would strongly encourage people to read as many accounts of them as they can (there are books which are pretty comprehensive, but I can't find any online sources that include all of the most horrifying details).
Wednesday, November 25th, 2009
4:10 am
Thanksgiving TEA party in London (Parliament Square)
Tomorrow (Thursday) is Thanksgiving. Having failed to organise a TEA party for the Fourth of July, I've managed to get something together for Thanksgiving. After the approval was finally confirmed today, we're meeting under President Lincoln's statue in Parliament Square (the site we were initially recommended, on the other side of the square, was withdrawn due to the costs of police protection).

We're not looking to make a lot of explicit political points; big Stars and Stripes, conventional patriotic songs, and helping or two of turkey/ trimmings/ pie that we've been cooking seems much more likely to project a positive image than more partisan stuff would. In the US you can have a family event with strong economic libertarian rhetoric; I'm not sure that you could do that here. Regardless, while it might not be true that the best way of campaigning is living well, it certainly seems like it's worth trying. As such, we're not terribly keen on people bringing banners. If you want to bring something other than your company and conversation, food, flags, and musical instruments seem like good ideas, but it really is you we want rather than your stuff.

If you could make it, any time from 4pm-8pm, before or after any other celebrations, it'd be fantastic to see you there.
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