Will US Health reform be a Byrd-bath?

Some wonderful language from the legislative world of the US. I have bolded the relevant passage below, but it’s worth reading the whole piece on the labyrnthine machinations of the US Congress on First Read:

During the 20 hours of debate when the bill is on the floor, the senator stands and says, “I’d like to raise a budget point of order” against a section of the bill. If the parliamentarian sustains or agrees with the objection, that section is removed from the bill or amendment. (More on the parliamentarian’s critical role below.) There is no limit to how many objections can be raised.
However, the parliamentarian’s decision can be appealed, with 60 votes. So if the parliamentarian rules against the senator, that senator could ask for a vote to override the decision. If there are 60 votes, the questionable item can stay in the bill. While it may take only 51 votes to pass the final bill, but there may be 60-vote hurdles en route to final passage.
The most well-known point of order is referred to as “the Byrd Rule.” Named after its creator, West Virginia Sen. Robert Byrd, the rule generally allows sections of the bill to be struck if they do not have a direct impact on deficit reduction.
Provisions can also be challenged where the impact on spending is “merely incidental.” (Simple question: Would a financially self-sustaining public option or co-op have a “merely incidental” impact on the deficit?)
So popular is the Byrd Rule that it has its own lexicon. If someone thinks he/she can strike a section of the bill, that section is considered “Byrdable.” Once it is struck from the bill, it’s called a “Byrd Dropping.” A bill that has been riddled by the Byrd Rule has gone through a “Byrd Bath.”
(Bonus phrase: The Byrd Bath leaves the bill looking like “Swiss Cheese” for all the holes created within the original legislation.)


When was the last time a PM could have been influenced by his personal life?

There’s been an interesting debate about Gordon Brown and the flimsily supported allegation that he may take anti-depressants. This is worrying, say protagonists of the “Is Brown bonkers?” school of thought. Actually, it would be more worrying if, assuming that he may have a problem, he were not taking anti-depressants, if prescribed by his doctor.

“Could his judgment be impaired?” ask some.

Well, I would say that virtually every PM may have had her or his judgment impaired by something going on his private life. Just go back to John Major. In 1997 he had to decide when to have a general election. It was up in the air as to whether it would be early in year or on May 1st (as it was in the end). Edwina Currie, then an MP, came on the telly, I remember, and said that it would be awful if the election was early in the year because it would mean that retiring MPs, such as her, would miss a cut-off to do with their retirement package.

It later transpired that Major and Currie had earlier had a four-year affair. It seems valid to ask: Was John Major’s judgment on the date of the election in any way influenced by the strident views of his former mistress on the subject?

When was the last time a PM could have been influenced by his personal life?

There’s been an interesting debate about Gordon Brown and the flimsily supported allegation that he may take anti-depressants. This is worrying, say protagonists of the “Is Brown bonkers?” school of thought. Actually, it would be more worrying if, assuming that he may have a problem, he were not taking anti-depressants, if prescribed by his doctor.

“Could his judgment be impaired?” ask some.

Well, I would say that virtually every PM may have had her or his judgment impaired by something going on his private life. Just go back to John Major. In 1997 he had to decide when to have a general election. It was up in the air as to whether it would be early in year or on May 1st (as it was in the end). Edwina Currie, then an MP, came on the telly, I remember, and said that it would be awful if the election was early in the year because it would mean that retiring MPs, such as her, would miss a cut-off to do with their retirement package.

It later transpired that Major and Currie had earlier had a four-year affair. It seems valid to ask: Was John Major’s judgment on the date of the election in any way influenced by the strident views of his former mistress on the subject?

Will US Health reform be a Byrd-bath?

Some wonderful language from the legislative world of the US. I have bolded the relevant passage below, but it’s worth reading the whole piece on the labyrnthine machinations of the US Congress on First Read:

During the 20 hours of debate when the bill is on the floor, the senator stands and says, “I’d like to raise a budget point of order” against a section of the bill. If the parliamentarian sustains or agrees with the objection, that section is removed from the bill or amendment. (More on the parliamentarian’s critical role below.) There is no limit to how many objections can be raised.
However, the parliamentarian’s decision can be appealed, with 60 votes. So if the parliamentarian rules against the senator, that senator could ask for a vote to override the decision. If there are 60 votes, the questionable item can stay in the bill. While it may take only 51 votes to pass the final bill, but there may be 60-vote hurdles en route to final passage.
The most well-known point of order is referred to as “the Byrd Rule.” Named after its creator, West Virginia Sen. Robert Byrd, the rule generally allows sections of the bill to be struck if they do not have a direct impact on deficit reduction.
Provisions can also be challenged where the impact on spending is “merely incidental.” (Simple question: Would a financially self-sustaining public option or co-op have a “merely incidental” impact on the deficit?)
So popular is the Byrd Rule that it has its own lexicon. If someone thinks he/she can strike a section of the bill, that section is considered “Byrdable.” Once it is struck from the bill, it’s called a “Byrd Dropping.” A bill that has been riddled by the Byrd Rule has gone through a “Byrd Bath.”
(Bonus phrase: The Byrd Bath leaves the bill looking like “Swiss Cheese” for all the holes created within the original legislation.)


The average Brit has had indirect sex with 2.8 million people

…So says a survey by Lloyds Pharmacy. 2.8 million people. That’s quite a lot. You can find out how many indirect partners you’ve had here on Lloyds’ web site.. It’s all based on a ‘six degrees of separation’ type theory.

I’ve been missing out. I’ve only had 52,601 indirect and direct sexual partners in my lifetime. People in my age group have had an average of 3,036,185 partners. So I have clearly led a very sheltered life with my 52,601 partners – but, then again, that incidentally works out at four partners a day since I was 14 years old.

My! I have been active! What a super-stud I am!

The average Brit has had indirect sex with 2.8 million people

…So says a survey by Lloyds Pharmacy. 2.8 million people. That’s quite a lot. You can find out how many indirect partners you’ve had here on Lloyds’ web site.. It’s all based on a ‘six degrees of separation’ type theory.

I’ve been missing out. I’ve only had 52,601 indirect and direct sexual partners in my lifetime. People in my age group have had an average of 3,036,185 partners. So I have clearly led a very sheltered life with my 52,601 partners – but, then again, that incidentally works out at four partners a day since I was 14 years old.

My! I have been active! What a super-stud I am!

Her Majesty’s a pretty nice girl

As a Republican and an avowed hater of men who go anywhere near a bottle of hair dye, I suppose I could have been nasty and written a title like “McCartney the Royal Toady”. But that would have been uncalled for. Paul McCartney, when all’s said and dyed, has, it seems, retained a wide-eyed innocence from his childhood. A laudatory essay on the Queen which he wrote when he was 10 years old has been unearthed.

It has interesting echoes with a tiny track on Abbey Road. Abbey Road has got a few interesting, very short tracks on it. One is “The End” which is part of a Medley just before the er….end of the album. It is interesting to reflect that if you listen to all the Beatles albums in the order they were recorded, “The End” is fittingly the last thing you will hear (it would be interesting to know if it was the last track they actually recorded), except for the tiny and simple track stuck on the end of “The End” called “Her Majesty”. It’s a wonderful little end to the album, complete with rather abrupt ending:

Her Majesty

(Lennon/McCartney)

Her Majesty’s a pretty nice girl,
but she doesn’t have a lot to say
Her Majesty’s a pretty nice girl
but she changes from day to day

I want to tell her that I love her a lot
But I gotta get a belly full of wine
Her Majesty’s a pretty nice girl
Someday I’m going to make her mine, oh yeah,
Someday I’m going to make her mine.

That track is so short and, I suppose, odd, that it is hardly ever played on the radio. In fact, I have only heard it played on the radio once. That was last week by the (now he’s stop being silly like he was on Radio 1) excellent Chris Evans. Well done Mr Evans.

Is this a scam?

Yesterday I was walking along the street and a rather dodgy looking man walked up to some teenagers and, holding out his mobile phone, said, in tones of some desperation, “Lasses and lad, could you phone this number please?” One of the teenagers duly rang the number he gave them.

My first thought was that it would be insane for anyone to respond to the man’s request because he would then have your number on his phone and could phone you whenever he likes.

But quite frankly, I was baffled by the incident. What bona fide reason would the man have for asking someone to phone his mobile? It is utterly perplexing. Any ideas from my reader?

Leopard changes spots

Wonders never cease.

I hesitate to say Baroness Scotland should resign. What do they think in Scotland? – I wonder. I have enormous admiration for the lady.

However. The Mail says that she allegedly did not ask her Tongan employee to show her passport during a ten minute employment interview. As Attorney-General, you would have thought Baroness Scotland would have more sense.

However, reading the Mail story (someone has to, I suppose) one wonders whether the housekeeper is the villain of the piece. She’d been allegedly working illegally here for four years and there is an alleged forged second passport at the heart of the investigations into her.

Scotland (the Baroness not the country) has been fined £5,000 for not carrying out the right checks. Fair dues. But come off it, is an employee, even the Attorney General, meant to be a one person investigation unit in addition to their legal requirements (for the non-performance of which, the Baroness has already fessed up and paid her fine)?

And does this really impact on Baroness Scotland’s discharge of her governmental duties? If someone can come up with some evidence of incompetance in her role, that would be different. Perhaps she was too busy concentrating on her governmental role to faff about with paperwork.

Having said that, there appears to have been shocking ignorance of the law shown by the Attorney-General and for that I have great sympathy with the calls for her to resign. But the housekeeper has presumably been paid by the Mail and they are using her story as knocking copy with which to beat Scotland. This seems to be a very unusual, some might say uncomfortable, position for the the Mail. Just read the Mail story and its rosy picture of the housekeeper. It’s an extraordinary turnaround for the Mail.

Could Brown snatch victory from the jaws of defeat?

No, actually. But seeing his determined face and his “I do not roll over” statement on the Beeb, one wonders if he might just do a John Major “soapbox” trick and get people’s admiration for staying power. You never know, he could just snatch twenty seats for Labour at the next election.

At least, from his Beeb photo, he seems to have finally realised that it is a mistake for him to try to “smile”. For that we can all be grateful, whatever our political persuasion.