Things you won't see on TV
Remember the GOP's great concern about the national debt during the Reagan and Bush Jr. administrations? Me neither.
[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]
Blogging to the highest common denominator
The answer, it turns out, is yes. And this is no laughing matter: The cult of balance has played an important role in bringing us to the edge of disaster. For when reporting on political disputes always implies that both sides are to blame, there is no penalty for extremism. Voters won’t punish you for outrageous behavior if all they ever hear is that both sides are at fault.Exactly. It's not like any politician is completely innocent in the breakdown of our political process but they're normalizing extremism by pretending there is some sort of balance. It's not only wrong and lazy, it really is destroying civil society.
There is zero equivalence here. The vast majority of Democrats have been more than reasonable, more than willing to accept cuts in some of their most valued programs.No doubt in my mind. Osama bin Laden is surely laughing uproariously from his watery grave.
The Republicans have been willing to concede nothing. Their stand means higher interest rates, fewer jobs created and more destroyed, a general weakening of this country’s standing in the world. Osama bin Laden, if he were still alive, could not have come up with a more clever strategy for strangling our nation.
"If the president reasonably believes that the public debt will be put in question for either reason, Section 4 comes into play once again. His predicament is caused by the combination of statutes that authorize and limit what he can do: He must pay appropriated monies, but he may not print new currency and he may not float new debt. If this combination of contradictory commands would cause him to violate Section 4, then he has a constitutional duty to treat at least one of the laws as unconstitutional as applied to the current circumstances."
"If the courts won't intervene in the Libya affair, they probably won't intervene here."
“I won’t place one more dollar of debt upon the backs of my kids and grandkids unless we structurally reform the way this town spends money!” Walsh says directly into the camera in his viral video lecturing Obama on the need to get the nation’s finances in order.To be fair, the support arrears is in dispute. He claims he only owes about 10K, which of course totally justifies the vacations, the loans and the high priced rent he pays for a new home in a tony neighborhood for his current family. But not so easy to write it off as a domestic dispute given Walsh's history of fiscal irresponsibility.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which spent millions of dollars last year helping elect Republicans to Congressional seats, is struggling to convince the House it helped to build that the debt ceiling must be increased.Of course they ignored us because they always do and because they were just so sure they could control the monster. And they waited so long to step forward because before their own, personal, Frankenstein realized its own power, it was doing their bidding.
The chamber and other business groups have pressed with increasing urgency for Congress to raise the maximum amount that the government can borrow. They have cataloged the consequences of default at meetings, parties and dinners and over drinks.
freshmen on other issues, including the trade agreements and efforts to roll back regulation.As the saying goes, "Payback's a bitch." Sadly, we'll all pay the price but maybe it will be worth it to witness the implosion. Via Greg Sargent, who rounds up the latest in the wacky world of GOP in disarray.
“I just think that there was, at least on the part of the chamber, a reluctance to tangle with, or pressure, the same group in the House that they’re depending on to gut financial reform and undo environmental regulation and so on,” he said. “But I think the gravity of the situation is now clear.”
You have to ask, what would it take for these news organizations and pundits to actually break with the convention that both sides are equally at fault? This is the clearest, starkest situation one can imagine short of civil war. If this won’t do it, nothing will.I'm so old I can remember when newscasters reported mostly on policy instead of mainly focusing on horserace and gossip. Experts were chosen based on their knowledge rather than their photogenics and ability to deliver "colorful" commentary, regardless of its verity. Of course, in those days, the news programs weren't expected, or required, to deliver profits for the corporation. They were regarded as a public service.
And yes, I think this is a moral issue. The “both sides are at fault” people have to know better; if they refuse to say it, it’s out of some combination of fear and ego, of being unwilling to sacrifice their treasured pose of being above the fray.
"Obama would be impeached if he blocked debt payments"says Rep. Steve King (R-IA) and he'd also be impeached if he invalidated the debt ceiling based on the 14th amendment, says Rep. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) Talk about a poker player with a 'tell.' Might as well lay the cards on the table.
"I think the Constitution is clear and I think this idea that the Congress gets to vote twice on whether to pay for [expenditures] it has appropriated is crazy.”said Bill Clinton to The National Memo last week. No wonder slimy things like the Newt are challenging the constitutional basis for even having a Supreme Court.
Over the weekend I went to a dinner in Washington. There were quite a few folks there from both Parties. And it was not a big surprise to find out that some of them were involved in negotiations about the debt ceilings and other matters. It was an topic of conversation. When I asked what was happening and what might happen, several folks mentioned that the key to understanding debt fight and John Boehner was to understand that he is fighting with Cantor for his political life. [...]Of course, it's been obvious from day one that Cantor wanted Boehner's job. He's been sharpening that long knife waiting for the opportunity to use it for a long time now. And not to forget, Cantor is ruthless and he doesn't give a damn if we default. He stands to make a killing on a default, having invested in shorting US notes.
If Boehner survives this manufactured crisis, a new one will begin the moment it is resolved and fresh knives will be sharpened. Orange John walks with an expiration date and a target stamped on his back. Whatever happens, I expect that Boehner will resign to spend more time with his family in the near future.
And then we will have Speaker Cantor and the fun can really begin.
*** But remember: Republicans started this fight: All of this finger-pointing, posturing, and politics -- with the U.S.’s credit rating at stake -- have generated a considerable disgust at Washington, at both Democrats and Republicans. But it is important to note that Republicans started this fight by tying deficit reduction to the debt ceiling (when many of these same Republicans have voted for clean debt-ceiling hikes in the past). The president and his party have indicated their willingness to pay the ransom -- with some concessions -- but Republicans won’t accept it. The irony to all this is that Republicans have won the larger argument they started; they just haven't figured out how to declare victory. What seems to upset many Republicans is how the president (using the bully pulpit) got to the right of them on deficit reduction. Of course, now both parties have a lot on the line, the president doesn't want to look like he can't lead, even a broken Washington, and the Republicans want to prove they can govern.Not so sure about that last part. Don't think GOPers care about governance, appearance or otherwise. They're writhing in the chaos of their own making at the moment and too panicked to care about anything except how to blame this mess on Obama.
“The deficit favors Republicans. But if it seems like it’s been solved, then you take away one of the biggest Republican issues and at worst you neutralize it and at best you win it.” ~Jim Kessler, vice president for policy and a co-founder of Third WayReally. Without the deficit demagoguing, they got nothing to run on.
"between those who act from a sense of practical consequence and those who act from higher conviction, regardless of consequences."describes our current struggle; unser Kampf, if you will.
" These ethics are tragically opposed, but the true calling of politics requires a union of the two."Is there any doubt about into which group the "tax cuts and deregulation produce prosperity" and "the government is always the problem" people fall? Discussion of practical consequences can't be heard through the roar.
Labels: my life
"I must confess, when I see anyone with an Obama 2012 bumper sticker, I recognize them as a threat to the gene pool."
Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC) gained infamy in May when he went on a childish tirade against Professor Elizabeth Warren, who is currently setting up the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau as a special adviser to President Obama. McHenry, a former College Republican hack, repeatedly accused Warren of lying about the agreed-upon time for testimony she gave before Congress.Of course you know Warren is temporary head of the new Consumer Protection agency tasked with investigating the banksters. Looks like our present day "patriot" is cashing in on his little tirade:
According to a ThinkProgress analysis of new campaign finance data released on Friday, McHenry received $63,800 from lobbyists and executives from banks, mortgage companies, payday lenders, pawn shop executives, and other predatory lenders in the last three months alone. Notably, much of the campaign donations from payday lenders came on a single day, April 20, 2011.As TP says, it appears he had a little fundraising party with these folks. The original Patrick Henry is most famous for uttering the words, "Give me liberty, or give me death." In the present day case, I suppose North Carolina's Patrick McHenry's slogan could be, "Give me money and I'll fight regulations to death."
The film's distributor, ARC Entertainment, said the film averaged $5,000 per screen Friday and Saturday night, with sold-out screenings at several locations. ARC Entertainment said in a statement "... with the strong initial showing, the film is going to a wider release footprint later this month."Somehow 5K per screen didn't sound like that impressive a take to me. It appears I'm not the only one who was amused. TBogg crunched the numbers and figures it works out to an average of 60 people per showing. Looks to me like the promoters don't want to admit it's a dog and, as the saying goes, are going to lose their shirts.
Ever since the current economic crisis began, it has seemed that five words sum up the central principle of United States financial policy: go easy on the bankers. [...]Read the link for the depressing details. These people should be going to jail, not being let off the hook with a slap on the wrist. It's just sick.
The big drag on the economy now is the overhang of household debt, largely created by the $5.6 trillion in mortgage debt that households took on during the bubble years. Serious mortgage relief could make a dent in that problem; a $30 billion settlement from the banks, even if it proved more effective than the government’s modification program, would not.
So when officials tell you that we must rush to settle with the banks for the sake of the economy, don’t believe them. We should do this right, and hold bankers accountable for their actions.
Save The Banksters, Save The WorldThis is a view I've seen in many quarters, on the left and the right. I don't trust the hardcore right any more than the next guy, but this is one issue on which I wish we could have banded together and taken to the streets with the proverbial torches and pitchforks. Thinking mass protests could have brought accountability in the absence of political will to do the right thing.
If instead of all that free money for banks, we'd given free money to people on the condition they give it to the banks (paying down debts), we could have gotten through this mess.
But bad poor people don't deserve money, only rich banksters who tried to destroy the world.
Here’s the point: those within the G.O.P. who had misgivings about the embrace of tax-cut fanaticism might have made a stronger stand if there had been any indication that such fanaticism came with a price, if outsiders had been willing to condemn those who took irresponsible positions.Indeed. Every single, "he said, she said" reporter and milquetoast pundit who refused to call out the crazy sooner, owns this debacle, even more so than the GOPers themselves. Not only did they not force the GOPers to pay a price for their mendacity; they rewarded them for it with unlimited and adoring attention. So of course, they kept doing it. Just like any three year old who learns he gets all the candy he wants every time he throws himself on the floor in a red-faced temper tantrum.
But there has been no such price. Mr. Bush squandered the surplus of the late Clinton years, yet prominent pundits pretend that the two parties share equal blame for our debt problems. Paul Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget Committee, proposed a supposed deficit-reduction plan that included huge tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy, then received an award for fiscal responsibility.
So there has been no pressure on the G.O.P. to show any kind of responsibility, or even rationality — and sure enough, it has gone off the deep end. If you’re surprised, that means that you were part of the problem.
Six fake Democratic candidates put up by the Republican Party to buy time for Republican state senators subject to recalls accomplished that job Tuesday, but none of them did the unexpected and knocked off a real Democrat.GOPers managed to delay some of the elections with their bogus candidates but it's going to be a very busy and interesting August in the land of cheese and beer. Probably won't happen, but it would be really awesome if they won them all.
Candidates backed by the Democratic Party won all six Senate primary elections, all but one of them by substantial amounts. They'll all go on to face the Republican incumbents on Aug. 9, in an attempt by Democrats to regain control of the state Senate and put the brakes on Gov. Scott Walker's agenda.
The time has come for a balanced budget amendment that forces Washington to balance its books. If these debt negotiations have convinced us of anything, it’s that we can’t leave it to politicians in Washington to make the difficult decisions that they need to get our fiscal house in order. The balanced budget amendment will do that for them. Now is the moment. No more games. No more gimmicks. The Constitution must be amended to keep the government in check. We’ve tried persuasion. We’ve tried negotiations. We’re tried elections. Nothing has worked.Think Progress unravels this breathtaking proposition:
It’s worth noting just what McConnell is asking the American people to choke down. Senate Republicans’ so-called “balanced budget amendment” does far more than simply requiring federal spending to equal federal revenues. It makes it functionally impossible to raise taxes by imposing a two-thirds supermajority requirement — a provision closely modeled after the California anti-tax amendment that blew up that state’s finances. It would also require spending cuts so steep that it would have made Ronald Reagan’s fiscal policy unconstitutional. Ezra Klein rightfully labeled this plan the “worst idea in Washington.”Meanwhile, Steve Benen offers an little history lesson for the Minority Leader:
It really wasn’t that long ago — McConnell was in the Senate at the time — that the deficit didn’t exist. When Bill Clinton left office a decade ago, we not only had a large surplus, we were paying off the national debt for the first time in a generation. Those debt clocks we occasionally see? They had to be shut down — no one had ever programmed them to run backwards.Of course, to be fair, Republicans do rewrite textbooks too. McConnell probably forgot about the Clinton surplus because he was referring to the Texas edition of US History.
We were on track to eliminate the national debt in its entirety within just 10 years. Republicans of the Bush era — including a guy by the name of Mitch McConnell — reversed course, created huge deficits, and added several trillion dollars to the debt.
Hundreds of bars, restaurants and stores across Minnesota are running out of beer and alcohol and others may soon run out of cigarettes -- a subtle and largely unforeseen consequence of a state government shutdown.It's only a few hundred bars right now. The cigarette vendors are likely to totally crash first. Also, too, the state stands to lose millions in tax revenue from the lost sales. GOPers are of course blaming the Governor for their own refusal to negotiate a realistic budget that would reopen the state offices. Cause that's how they roll...
In the days leading up to the shutdown, thousands of outlets scrambled to renew their state-issued liquor purchasing cards. Many of them did not make it.
Now, with no end in sight to the shutdown, they face a summer of fast-dwindling alcohol supplies and a bottom line that looks increasingly bleak.
The state's government shutdown, now in its 13th day, will soon force MillerCoors to pull its beer from Minnesota liquor stores, bars and restaurants. A state official says the law requires the company to remove products like Coors Light, Miller Lite and Blue Moon imminently. [...]
Neville says MillerCoors must remove the beer because they did not renew their brand label registration with the state before the shutdown began. By law, brewers must renew those registrations -- which show the label on each brand of beer -- every three years.
“The judicial power of the United States, shall be vested in one Supreme Court, and in such inferior courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish.”
“There is no Supreme Court in the American Constitution"
"We now have this entire national elite that wants us to believe that any five lawyers are a Constitutional convention. That is profoundly un-American and profoundly wrong.”
Cisco Systems Inc. (CSCO), the largest networking-equipment company, may cut as many as 10,000 jobs, or about 14 percent of its workforce, to revive profit growth, according to two people familiar with the plans.
The cuts include as many as 7,000 jobs that would be eliminated by the end of August, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the plans aren’t final. Cisco is also providing early-retirement packages to about 3,000 workers who accepted buyouts, the people said. [...]
Trimming about 5,000 jobs would reduce operating expenses by about $1 billion annually and boost 2012 earnings by about 8 percent, Marshall said.
President Obama on Tuesday said he cannot guarantee that retirees will receive their Social Security checks August 3 if Democrats and Republicans in Washington do not reach an agreement on reducing the deficit in the coming weeks.Looks like he's convinced the investor class that he's not going to blink this time. Some 470 top business leaders issued a sternly worded open letter basically telling the Village Idiots to quit dicking around and raise the damn thing.
"I cannot guarantee that those checks go out on August 3rd if we haven't resolved this issue. Because there may simply not be the money in the coffers to do it," Mr. Obama said in an interview with CBS Evening News anchor Scott Pelley, according to excerpts released by CBS News. [...]
Mr. Obama told Pelley "this is not just a matter of Social Security checks. These are veterans checks, these are folks on disability and their checks. There are about 70 million checks that go out."
“Now is the time for our political leaders to put aside partisan differences and act in the nation’s best interests,” the letter said. “We believe that our nation’s economic future is reliant upon their actions and urge them to reach an agreement. It is time to pull together rather than pull apart.”Of course, they don't mention and neither will the media point out, they could just raise the debt ceiling in a clean, one sentence bill in less than hour. As they have routinely, some 74 times before since the Kennedy administration. Then they could still fight out the rest of the issues without risking the entire world economy.
“The leaders in the room at a certain point have to step up and do the right thing regardless of the voices in our parties,” he said. “It’s going to take some work on his [Boehner's] side. But look, it’s also going to take some work on our side to get this done.”Up to Boehner now to prove he has the balls to stand up to his base.
Plunging prices and booming investments are beginning to reshape the energy market, according to a couple of reports that were released this week. A report produced on behalf of Bloomberg says that investments in renewable energy have gone up by roughly a third over the last year, to $211 billion. Led by China's renewable push, the world is now on a trajectory that will see its investments in renewable electricity surpass those in fossil fuels within a year or two. As a result of these investments, the US is now producing more renewable energy than nuclear power. ...This is worldwide. The US is lagging a bit behind but if expenditures on expanded renewable energy capacity stays on the same trajectory, "we'll be investing more in renewables either this year or next," than is being spent on fossil fuel power plants. Also, too, no more justification for building new nuke facilities. Win-win. [Via the Great Orange Satan.]
Part of the reason is cost. Although wind turbines are very mature technology now, their cost per MW still fell by 18 percent over the last two years; photovoltaics have dropped a staggering 60 percent in that time. "Further improvements in the levelised cost of energy for solar, wind and other technologies lie ahead, posing a bigger and bigger threat to the dominance of fossil-fuel generation sources in the next few years," according to the report's authors.
In case it’s a little hard to see, that red line is the unemployment rate; the blue line is the interest rate on 10-year bonds. I realize the phrase “interest rate on 10-year bonds” probably isn’t one of those phrases that gets bandied about around American dinner tables, but the more serious a problem the deficit becomes, the higher that blue line would appear.But The Village is apparently color blind. To hear them tell it, the invisible bond vigilantes are in the parking lot beating the confidence fairies to a pulp and they're going to kick that blue line into the stratosphere any minute now. The red line doesn't even register with our very serious and wise overlords.
And therein lies the point: the blue keeps going down. Indeed, it hasn’t been this low in many decades. If the deficit were a drag on the economy, and the United States were facing some sort of debt crisis, that blue line would be through the roof. But that’s not even close to what’s happening.
NJ Senate President Stephen Sweeney: "He’s a rotten prick."Quelle surprise. No one could have predicted that the conservatives favorite blowhard governor would screw a Democrat after he sweet talked him into making a deal against his best interests.
He mowed down a series of Democratic add-ons, including $45 million in tax credits for the working poor, $9 million in health care for the working poor, $8 million for women’s health care, another $8 million in AIDS funding and $9 million in mental-health services.Of course it wasn't all bad. No worries for the GOP's wealthy supporters:
But the governor added $150 million in school aid for the suburbs, including the wealthiest towns in the state. That is enough to restore all the cuts just listed.As Sweeney says, "He’s just a rotten bastard to do what he did."