July 10, 2011 archive

Congressional Game of Chicken: Debt Limit & Social Security

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

While there is a lot of angst on the part of the left and progressives over President Obama putting Social Security on the bargaining table for some meager tax concessions, they are still no closer to an agreement with the Republicans on the looming debt limit. Obama has rejected any temporary deal that would just kick the can down the road, possibly making the debt limit an even bigger issue in 2012 and a door for the Republicans to get the Bush/Obama tax cuts extended, or worse made permanent. The President has also said that he would not renew them again but after the last 3 years, can we realistically believe anything he says. After all, he is now doing what Bush could never have gotten away with, putting the safety nets for our seniors, disabled and poor on the line to protect the wealthiest.

Today. The Speaker of the House, John A. Boehner, clearly stated, “There is no agreement, in private or in public.”  The House recess for July 18th has been canceled signally that no agreement is in sight.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi met pivately with the President today. Prior to her meeting Ms. Pelosi clearly indicated that she would resist efforts to tie the deal to Social Security.

“Do not consider Social Security a piggy bank for giving tax cuts to the wealthiest people in our country,” Ms. Pelosi said to reporters on Capitol Hill after the meeting. “We are not going to balance the budget on the backs of America’s seniors, women and people with disabilities.”

Last night Keith Olbermann looked at this current state of these discussions.

Boehner: “We are not going to raise taxes on the very people that we expect to invest in our economy and help grow jobs.”

Olbermann: “Shut up. If they were reinvesting in the economy, we wouldn’t be in this position, moron. They’re keeping the money.”

Rep Raul Grivala: “Without overwhelming support from our caucus, this would be a difficult bill to pass”

Pres. Bill Clinton. They quadrupled the debt before me and double it after. Suddenly it’s the biggest problem in the world”

Ryan Grimm: “Obana has been dangling safety net cuts for the last several weeks.  He created the cat food commission . . .

The idea that Obama is the defender of Sociual Security isn’t going to get you very far.

“One dime a month is enough to put many elderly in the poor house.”

Considering today’s news about jobs and unemployment at 9.2%, this, to put it bluntly, sucks.

Up Date: As of last night Speaker of the House Boehner rejected the “deal of the century” because of a few billion in tax “cuts”.  

Today on The Stars Hollow Gazette

July 4th marked the First Anniversary of The Stars Hollow Gazette. Over the next week we will be taking a look at that first week republishing some of our first diaries and talking about the future. Come join the celebration

Our regular featured content-

mishima‘s news digest 6 In The Morning will be on hiatus

These weekly featured articles-

special features-

and continuing coverage of the world’s most watched and controversial cycling event,

Tomorrow is a day well deserved day of rest for all. Join us on Tuesday for Le Tour 2011- Stage 10 at 7:30 AM EDT.

This is an Open Thread

Hugh Grant: How I exposed hacking


Who would have thought that Hugh Grant would be one of the major players in bringing down one of the Fleet Street tabloids?  Amazing. Good for Hugh!


Sylvester and Tweety MysteriesIt Happened One Night Before Christmas, Episode 10, Part 2

Why Are Veterans Issues Off The Table?

Frankly that’s very easy to answer, the country refuses to demand it’s own sacrifice the greater majority cheer on but don’t serve in or have direct connection to, especially the political party claiming their strength on “National Security” and it’s the total opposite of what’s being argued as to this debt ceiling and the growing deficit itself, remember these two present conflicts were kept off the books and fought on borrowed financing until put back on the books and our spending by the present administration. All those costs include the no bid contracts of the growing private armies as well as the numerous other private contractors serving a bottom line and not the country.

Punting the Pundits: Sunday Preview Edition

While mishima is on hiatus, I will be cross posting some of our daily and weekly features from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Punting the Punditsis an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

The Sunday Talking Heads:

This Week with Christiane Amanpour: This Week has exclusive interviews with White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley and IMF Managing Director and Chair Christine Lagarde.

The roundtable guests, George Will, Democratic strategist Donna Brazile, Bloomberg’s Al Hunt, and ABC News Senior Political Correspondent Jonathan Karl will discuss the “debt ceiling divide”.

Another roundtable with Vanity Fair columnist and ADWEEK editorial director Michael Wolff, NPR’s Nina Totenberg and CourtTV founder Steve Brill, will debate “the state of the media in this tabloid culture.”

Face the Nation with Bob Schieffer: Mr, Schieffer’s guests are Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) and Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL).

The Chris Matthews Show: This Week’s guests, Bob Woodward The Washington Post Associate Editor, Andrea Mitchell, NBC News Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent, Jamie Tarabay, National Journal Managing Editor and Clarence Page, Chicago Tribune Columnist, will discuss:

Is the Tea Party’s flirtation with default a big favor to Barack Obama?

Is Michele Bachmann too far right even for the GOP?

Meet the Press with David Gregory: Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is making the rounds. Republican presidential contender, former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty has his turn with Gregory.

The Washington Post’s Eugene Robinson and NBC’S Chief White House Correspondent and Political Director Chuck Todd join in a discussion of the debt ceiling fight and its impact on Obama’s 2012 reelection.

State of the Union with Candy Crowley: House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy and Democratic Rep. Chris Van Hollen will have a stand off about the debt ceiling and its impact.

GOP Presidential candidate Rick Santorum will exam his chances of getting the GOP nod.

Ans finally. a look at the future of space exploration for the United States.

Fareed Zakaris: GPS: Fareed Zakaria asks Peter Godwin, author of “The Fear”, about whether the birth of South Sudan will be marred by war.

The New York Times’ Nicholas Kristof talks about whether Sudan will allow South Sudan to flourish.

This could change the conversation on these shows: John Boehner Rejects Obama’s Grand Bargain On Debt Ceiling

New York Times Editorial: The Worst Time to Slow the Economy

It was not surprising to hear the Republican presidential candidates repeat their tiresome claim that excessive government spending and borrowing were behind Friday’s terrible unemployment report. It was depressing to hear President Obama sound as if he agreed with them.

The Labor Department report showed virtually no job growth in June, with the unemployment level edging up to 9.2 percent from 9.1 percent the month before. It seemed to confirm last month’s indication that the economy had stalled. After the report came out, the president went to the Rose Garden and said he hoped that a conclusion to the current debt-ceiling talks would give businesses “certainty” that the government had its debt and deficit under control, allowing them to start hiring again.

Certainty? That sounds like Mitt Romney, or any of the other Republicans who have concocted a phony connection between hiring and government borrowing.

Jane Hamsher: Breaking Point: Obama and the Death of the Democratic Party

According to both the Washington Post and the New York Times, Obama is proposing cuts to Social Security in exchange for GOP support for tax hikes.

Nobody ever says they want to “cut” Social Security or Medicare. They want to “save” it.  Just ask Pete Peterson, he wants to “save” it. Likewise AARP.  They don’t want reduced benefits for senior citizens, they want to “preserve” it for future generations.  If they have an enormous customer base they can market private “add-on” accounts and other retirement products to when Social Security goes bye-bye, I guess that’s just a happy coincidence.

Now if you think that this is something the President is doing because it’s the only way to get Republican cooperation you can stop reading here, because we’re going to disagree.  From the moment he took the White House, the President has wanted to cut Social Security benefits.  David Brooks reported that three administration officials called him to say Obama “is extremely committed to entitlement reform and is plotting politically feasible ways to reduce Social Security as well as health spending” in March of 2009.  You can only live in denial for so long and still lay claim to being tethered to reality.

Amy Goodman: WikiLeaks, Wimbledon and War

Last Saturday was sunny in London, and the crowds were flocking to Wimbledon and to the annual Henley Regatta. Julian Assange, the founder of the whistle-blower website Wikileaks.org, was making his way by train from house arrest in Norfolk, three hours away, to join me and Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Zizek for a public conversation about WikiLeaks, the power of information and the importance of transparency in democracies. The event was hosted by the Frontline Club, an organization started by war correspondents in part to memorialize their many colleagues killed covering war. Frontline Club co-founder Vaughan Smith looked at the rare sunny sky fretfully, saying, “Londoners never come out to an indoor event on a day like this.” Despite years of accurate reporting from Afghanistan to Kosovo, Smith was, in this case, completely wrong.

Close to 1,800 people showed up, evidence of the profound impact WikiLeaks has had, from exposing torture and corruption to toppling governments.

Assange is in England awaiting a July 12 extradition hearing, as he is wanted for questioning in Sweden related to allegations of sexual misconduct. He has not been charged. He has been under house arrest for more than six months, wears an electronic ankle bracelet and is required to check in daily at the Norfolk police station.

Johann Hari: Would You Trust a Management Consultant with the World’s Rainforests?

Our protests stopped David Cameron handing UK forests over to corporations. Now the rainforests are being handed to management consultants

The two most dreaded words in any office are the same – management consultants. Their arrival rumbles through a workplace like the approaching thwump-thwump of the T-Rex in Jurassic Park, rattling our desks and making us all fear we will be picked up and gored at random. We’re right to be afraid – and scornful. According to “Rip Off”, a report on management consultants by David Craig, 170 organizations who used management consultants were studied in the 1990s by the Cranfield School of Management, and only 36 per cent of clients thought they had brought any value. We all know now that management consultants were threaded through the banksters and hedge funders who just crashed the global economy.

But now management consultancy has been taken to a whole new level, according to a startling new report by Greenpeace entitled: “Bad Influence: How McKinsey-inspired plans lead to rainforest destruction.” Management consultants have, in effect, been tasked with setting the future of the world’s rainforests – and facing accusations that they are using our money to draw up plans that will result in their more rapid destruction. Instead of stopping the loggers and miners, the report suggests they are aiding them.

Median Net Worth of Black Households: $2,200

The median net worth of black households was $2,200 in 2009, the lowest ever recorded, while the median net worth among white households was $97,900, or 44.5 times that of black households. Finally, from 2007 to 2009, average black wealth declined by 37%, compared to 28% for white wealth over the same time period.

So for every dollar of net worth in a white household, a typical black household has 2¢, and while white unemployment has recovered slightly from the bottom of our ongoing recession, black unemployment remains above 16%.

White unemployment

Black unemployment

Late Night Karaoke

Huck Finn and the Hunger Games

The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games, #1)The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Are you a teacher upset by your school’s resistance to allowing the original version of Huck Finn?  I may have the solution–The Hunger Games.

I admit, I read the first page and thought I would hate it.  The book is written in first-person present tense, has simplistic prose and starts with a huge load of back story. After the first chapter, though, I was hooked.  The novel is bullet paced and winds through twists and turns that, for once, I did not anticipate.

So what does that have to do with The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn?  Well, Mark Twain’s 127 year old classic has racism as its theme: A young white runaway realizes he has more in common with a runaway black slave, than with affluent whites.  The problem is that Twain was a product of his time and uses the “N-word” liberally throughout the text.  Although class struggle and racism don’t bother school boards at all, the N-word apparently does, and the book is frequently banned from school libraries, English classes and social studies.

Enter the Hunger Games–a modern book with the theme of class warfare and imperialism that has an almost spooky resemblance to the Jasmine Revolution. (No small feat given the book’s copyright in 2008.)  Because it is a futuristic novel, the N-word is no where to be found.  In fact, there are no black people at all. That takes care of that.  Instead, the former US is split into 12 Districts that are pitted against each other in a reality show that is must see TV.  I mean the government makes you watch. Two children ages 12-18 are chosen by lottery from each district and forced to compete in a kill or be killed game for the benefit of the inhabitants of the Capitol district.  Throw in media control, massive government spying, police state, and the exploitation of the periphery districts by the Capitol district and the themes of this modern novel should provide more than enough material for a discussion of the problems of modern society and how they are portrayed in literature.

And if you still miss the racism aspect of Mark Twain, well how about talking about the foundation of racism–artificial adversarial relationships that keep those without power from forming solidarity for the benefit of the powerful.

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