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Fri Nov 30, 2012 at 12:54 PM PST
Joe Klein at TIME Taunts "Republican Drama Queens"
by Ian Reifowitz
This is almost too good to be true, coming from a Villager like Joe Klein:
The Republicans are, reportedly, outraged by President Obama’s opening bid in the fiscal cliff talks. Republicans always seem to be outraged. It’s getting boring. They need to step up and make a counter-offer.
(snip) it is time to stow the Republican intemperance. It might have seemed “righteous” indignation when the GOP was deluding itself about representing a majority of Americans; now, it just seem puerile and petulant.
Puerile and petulant. Alright, I'm a lover of alliteration (!). Klein then delivers the hammer blow:
What is difficult for the Fox talking heads to understand is this: We had an election. The President won....the assorted Republican drama queens seem so two months ago, don’t they?
They sure do. Well played, Mr. Klein. And if this attitude reflects the growing consensus of the Village -- and Joe Klein is usually a quite good representative of those attitudes -- this could play out well for the President, and thus the country. Here's hoping.
PS-Please check out my new book Obama's America: A Transformative Vision of Our National Identity, published last month by Potomac Books, where I discuss Barack Obama's ideas on racial, ethnic, and national identity in detail, and contrast his inclusive vision to language coming from Mitt Romney, Rush Limbaugh and (some) others on the right. You can read a review by DailyKos's own Greg Dworkin here.
Posted by FourScore | Fri Nov 30, 2012, 05:04 PM (6 replies)
Mon Nov 26, 2012 at 07:00 AM PST
by Tom Tomorrow
Posted by FourScore | Mon Nov 26, 2012, 10:07 AM (13 replies)
Sun Nov 25, 2012 at 08:13 PM PST
It's official: Mitt's Vote is down to 47.49 Percent
by Spider Stumbled
From the Twitter feed of Dave Waserman.....
Mitt Romney is down to 47.49%.
From Dave Waserman's Twitter Feed:
First... CA: Los Angeles County reports 45,326 new @BarackObama votes, 12,469 @MittRomney
Then... And with that, the moment many have been waiting for has arrived. @MittRomney drops to 47.49% of the popular vote:
I know it's a meaningless milestone but I've been savoring the Schadenfreude for almost 3 weeks and this may be the last bit for a while...
Posted by FourScore | Sun Nov 25, 2012, 11:58 PM (15 replies)
Sat Nov 24, 2012 at 04:12 AM PST
Ezra Klein: Why rich guys want to raise the retirement age
is a must-read piece which somehow I had missed before this morning's email from Reader Supported News.
Ezra takes words Lloyd Blankfein, CEO of Goldman Sachs, made to CBS, about raising the retirement age for Social Security. This is a common argument, usually offered by people who really do not themselves need Social Security, that since we now live longer than when the program was established, the age should be raised. People are now getting so many years more to get benefits from the program.
Ezra totally takes that apart. For example, he offers a chart on life expectancy for people retiring at age 65. Since 1977 those in the upper half of income have seen their life expectancy expand by six years, while those in the bottom half have gained only 1.3 years.
Ezra then writes
If you’re wealthy, you do have many more years to enjoy Social Security. But if you’re not, you don’t. And so making it so people who aren’t wealthy have to wait longer to use Social Security is a particularly cruel and regressive way to cut the program.
But there is so much more.
Many people do not do work they enjoy. They do jobs to support themselves and their families, they take what is available and provides an income (and perhaps some benefits). Klein writes
You know what age most people actually begin taking Social Security? Sixty-five is what most people think. That’s the law’s standard retirement age. But that’s wrong. Most people begin taking Social Security benefits at 62, which is as early as the law allows you to take them.
When they do that, it means they get smaller benefits over their lifetime. We penalize for taking it early. But they do it anyway. They do it because they don’t want to spend their whole lives at that job. Unlike many folks in finance or in the U.S. Senate or writing for the nation’s op-ed pages, they don’t want to work till they drop.
First, Ezra is a bit out of date. For my age cohort, full benefits were not available until one is 66, and that age is continuing to creep up under the "fix" to Social Security made in the 1980s.
But there is more. Klein quotes from Nobel economist Peter Diamond, who is a Social Security expert, and who pointed out to Dylan Matthews that those retiring at 62 lived shorter lives and drew less income than those who retired later, and that proposals like those of Blankfein and far too many in the chattering class and in politics are effectively cutting benefits for those who need them most.
Klein then writes
That’s what’s galling about this easy argument. The people who make it, the pundits and the senators and the CEOs, they’ll never feel it. They don’t want to retire at age 65, and they don’t have short life expectancies, and they’re not mainly relying on Social Security for their retirement income. They’re bravely advocating a cut they’ll never feel.
He got that right. He points out that Blankfein, whose 2011 compensation was over $16 million, paid Social Security tax on less than 1% of his income because the taxes are capped at salaries over 110,000 - and I would add are not applied on things like stock options which represent a major part of the compensation of people like Blankfein.
We then get this observation from Klein:
If we lifted that cap, if we made all income subject to payroll taxes, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that it would do three times as much to solve Social Security’s shortfall as raising the retirement age to 70. In fact, it would, in one fell swoop, close Social Security’s solvency gap for the next 75 years. That may or may not be the right way to close Social Security’s shortfall, but somehow, it rarely gets mentioned by the folks who think they’re being courageous when they talk about raising a retirement age they’ll never notice.
When I was younger, the cap was so much lower. As you can see by this chart, when I began working in the mid 1960's, the cap on wages from which the tax was deducted was only $6,600. For my work career before I left to get trained as a teacher in mid-1994, I had the experience of hitting the ceiling sometime in Autumn, after which it was like receiving a temporary pay raise when the taxes were not deducted from the remaining pay checks that year. Now as a teacher I pay those taxes on all my wages.
Someone like Blankfein and other captains of industry almost do not notice the few times the tax is deducted from them. Rank and file members of the House and Senate currently make $174,000, which means they stop paying the tax in the summer. And if the voters decide to keep them in office, they may drawing a salary from use into their 90s (Robert Byrd) or even when they hit the century mark (the late Strom Thurmond), even while they can simultaneously draw Social Security.
There is no consideration in proposals to raise the retirement age of the toll of the kind of work some people do. It is one thing to be a lawyer or a politician or a banker. It is something far different to be a coal miner, work on a loading dock, stock shelves in a supermarket. Heck, some jobs even force you out after a certain age. The FBI requires agents to retire at 57, 5 years before they are eligible for early Social Security. It is hard to imagine an ordinary fireman running into burning buildings at 66 or older.
Far too often our policies are made by people with insufficient knowledge or regard for the lives of people not like them. Thus in education policy we had in No Child Left Behind the option to transfer from a failing school to a more successful school. But how does that work in the rural part of western Nebraska where some communities still have one-room schools? Raising the age for Social Security - and before the Affordable Care Act Medicare - is an action that ignores the reality of the lives of too many people.
I am retired and on Social Security. I have gone back into a classroom in a setting that most people could not handle because I wanted to. Many of us if we do work we enjoy will continue working, conceivable even as we draw Social Security.
We should not be balancing our finances on the backs of those who have already labored enough, and who should have earned the right to some time away from jobs that were necessary but not enjoyable.
Ezra Klein has written an important piece.
I hope the policy makers pay attention.
Posted by FourScore | Sat Nov 24, 2012, 12:50 PM (61 replies)
Thu Nov 22, 2012 at 07:00 AM PST
Bill O'Reilly's "Leave It to Beaver" nightmare
Reposted from Comics by Tom Tomorrow
Posted by FourScore | Thu Nov 22, 2012, 11:43 AM (28 replies)
Sat Nov 17, 2012 at 09:25 AM PST
Petraeus Bombshell's Bombshell: Benghazi Attack May Have Been Secret Prison Break (VIDEO)
While viewers are plugged into "Generals Gone Wild," the Washington Post soberly asks an important question, Why did Paula Broadwell think the CIA had taken prisoners in Benghazi?
Paula Broadwell, speaking at her alma mater, the University of Denver, October 26, 2012:
Now, I don’t know if a lot of you heard this, but the CIA annex had actually, um, had taken a couple of Libyan militia members prisoner and they think that the attack on the consulate was an effort to try to get these prisoners back. So that’s still being vetted.
The challenging thing for General Petraeus is that in his new position, he’s not allowed to communicate with the press. So he’s known all of this — they had correspondence with the CIA station chief in, in Libya. Within 24 hours they kind of knew what was happening.
Petraeus mistress may have revealed classified information at Denver speech on real reason for Libya attack
According to multiple intelligence sources who have served in Benghazi, there were more than just Libyan militia members who were held and interrogated by CIA contractors at the CIA annex in the days prior to the attack. Other prisoners from additional countries in Africa and the Middle East were brought to this location.
The Libya annex was the largest CIA station in North Africa, and two weeks prior to the attack, the CIA was preparing to shut it down. Most prisoners, according to British and American intelligence sources, had been moved two weeks earlier.
The CIA, though, categorically denied these allegations, saying: “The CIA has not had detention authority since January 2009, when Executive Order 13491 was issued. Any suggestion that the agency is still in the detention business is uninformed and baseless.”
McCain is asking for an investigation into the Benghazi attack to score political points against Obama, which outrages many here rightfully so, but for the sake of truth and justice, there should be an investigation into whether the CIA ignored Executive Order 13491 by running a secret prison in the Benghazi annex.
1. Were there any Libya Militia prisoners held in the Benghazi CIA annex at the time of the attack?
2. Who were the CIA contractors performing the interrogations and what were their nationalities?
3. Were any of the attackers ever held at the CIA annex in Benghazi?
4. Where did they transfer prisoners from the CIA annex in Benghazi?
5. How many prisoners did the facility hold?
If there was a CIA secret prison in the Benghazi Consulate Annex contravening Executive Order 13491, why aren't they investigating and prosecuting this serious crime which may have motivated an attack that killed our ambassador and three other American officials with the same vigor they went after John Kiriakou, a conscientious and brave CIA agent, who is now serving time for blowing the whistle on CIA torture?
Posted by FourScore | Sat Nov 17, 2012, 02:03 PM (18 replies)
Thu Nov 15, 2012 at 02:13 PM PST
5 of 8 Republicans skip Benghazi hearing; complain about lack of information on Benghazi
This needs to be read by - or to, if necessary - to every wingnut in the nation peddling insane Benghazi theories:
Republicans skip Benghazi hearing; complain about lack of information on Benghazi
This week, a number of Republican senators have strongly criticized the administration for failing to properly explain the circumstances surrounding the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi. Some of those senators failed to show up for a briefing on the attack Wednesday.
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) has been the leading congressional critic of the administration's handling of the Benghazi attack ...But although McCain had time to speak on the Senate floor and on television about the lack of information provided to Congress about the attack, he didn't attend the classified briefing for senators Wednesday given to the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, of which he is a member.
Committee ranking Republican Susan Collins (R-ME) called out McCain for skipping the briefing and said his call for a special committee to investigate the Benghazi attack was not necessary because the Homeland Security committee could handle it.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), another Homeland Security committee member who was on television complaining about the lack of Benghazi information, also did not show up for the Wednesday hearing. Paul did a CNN interview from the Capitol building Wednesday in which said he had questions about the anti-Islam video, the lack of Marines in Libya, and diplomatic security. At one point he says, "I don't know enough of the details."
CNN reports that only three of the eight GOP members of the committee attended the two hour briefing; seven of the nine Democratic members were there.
That same report also says that when he was asked about this today, McCain shouted "get off my lawn". Well, not quite, but almost - see the link I just gave you.
Posted by FourScore | Thu Nov 15, 2012, 06:06 PM (10 replies)
Tue Nov 13, 2012 at 09:22 AM PST
Robert Reich Gets It Right
Robert Reich, the former Secretary of Labor from the Clinton administration, and a well-respected economist in his own right, advocates for President Obama to open the negotiations from a higher position rather than the position that he had staked out with John Boehner during last year's so-called "grand bargain" deal:
I hope the President starts negotiations over a “grand bargain” for deficit reduction by aiming high. After all, he won the election. And if the past four years has proven anything it’s that the White House should not begin with a compromise.
The Simpson-Bowles deficit deal, and the grand bargain deal should NOT be the opening gambits to start a discussion on. They should never have been a part of the discussion to begin with, but advocates of Simpson-Bowles are doing a campaign to resurrect it through the "Fix The Debt" coalition, and reaching out to lawmakers and businesses to push for so-called reform of Social Security and Medicare.
Robert Reich proposes what the President should start out with in negotiations:
1. Raise the taxes on the rich by more than the top marginal rate on the wealthy during the Clinton years.
2. A 2% surtax on the wealth of the richest one-half of the 1 percent that would bring in $750 billion over a decade. Also, a one-half of 1 percent tax on financial transactions brings in $250 billion.
With these two points, half of the deficit will be gone over the next decade.
3. Raise capital gains rate to match rate on income and cap mortgage interest deduction at $12,000 per year. That would bring in an additional $1 trillion over the next decade, bringing the total to $3 trillion in revenue.
4. Eliminate special sweetheart deals for Wall Street, oil, gas, pharma, agriculture, and military contractors.
5. End Bush tax cuts on incomes above $250,000 and $1 million, and we've achieved $4 trillion in revenue over the next decade.
And Reich points out that this can be done without raising taxes on the middle class, cutting benefits in Social Security or Medicare or Medicaid, or reducing education spending. As anyone knows in negotiations, you should never start out low or from a weak position.
The grand bargain deal last year is such a weak position. The President should not be beginning from there. He has the upper hand. People supported his campaign and his pledge to raise taxes on the wealthy. Thus the President should aim high.
Posted by FourScore | Tue Nov 13, 2012, 01:06 PM (3 replies)
Tue Nov 13, 2012 at 06:51 AM PST
STUNNING: Colbert's Revelation
by The Troubadour
Last night, Stephen Colbert revealed an incredibly corrupt and nefarious aspect of the Super PAC structure, a loophole that had previously gone unnoticed.
As head of Colbert Super PAC, Stephen explained in satirical tones, with the help of his lawyer, how he now has the ability to siphon all of his PAC's remaining money to himself. Secretly. Without a need to report the funds to the IRS or anyone else, for that matter.
Watch Colbert "learn" that he can now use the PAC's money in any way he wishes due to a "legal fiction":
Yes, the corrupting influence of Super PAC money in elections will remain a monumental problem going forward, so long as Citizens United remains.
However, this is one of the most corrupt and nefarious aspects of the Super PAC structure: the apparent ability for organizers to secretly "steal" and hide millions without a trace.
Citizens United hasn't just created a situation in which we've gone off the rails. The tracks don't even exist anymore.
ON EDIT: h/t to Junkdrawer for this video link (in case the CC link gives you trouble) http://www.hulu.com/watch/424407
Posted by FourScore | Tue Nov 13, 2012, 10:59 AM (132 replies)
Sun Nov 11, 2012 at 08:48 PM PST
ThatPoshGirl's Guide to Conservative Hideaways
So, you lost, huh? Sorry to hear that. I know how hard it must be for you. I heard you were thinking of heading to Canada, but then you discovered they have socialized medicine up there and you changed your plans. You may be wondering what free-market havens you can head to now that your country is dead.
Good news! I've compiled a list of the top three destinations you can go to to get your Freep on.
I'm sure you are hoping to get away to a relatively wealthy nation. Unfortunately, all the other countries in the list of top ten nominal GDPs, outside of the United States, have national healthcare, even India and Brazil. In fact, to find a country without a national healthcare system, we have to go all the way down to lucky number 18, Indonesia.
Slum life, Jakarta Indonesia. Picture taken by Jonathan McIntosh, 2004.
You're sure to appreciate the rampant deforestation and pollution caused by lax or non-existent environmental regulation. Beautiful Buyat Bay is teeming with arsenic and other heavy metals from the unregulated dumping of tailings from Grasberg Mine, the largest gold mine in the world. Perhaps you'll even enjoy long swims in the toxic water, it's not like hair and teeth matter, anyway.
There are a couple of problems, however. Even though Indonesia doesn't currently have a national healthcare system, they are in the process of implementing a program that will provide 100% coverage by 2014. The country was also the home of Barack Hussein Obama for four years. So, maybe it's not exactly perfect.
If Indonesia doesn't tickle your fancy, you could give Somalia a try.
Following the collapse of communism and a civil war, Somalia became a Libertarian paradise. The country has no functional government, which should set your anarchist heart a twitter. There really is no better place to let your free-market spirit run free than Somalia. Sure, you may have to battle pirates and rape gangs, but that's a small price to pay for freedom.
Of course, Somalia is on the eastern most cost of Africa, so, you know, blah people.
Don't feel like battling pirates? Then Honduras may be the place for you.
A Conservative taking a Swim in Honduras
In Honduras, the quality and availability of healthcare is directly tied to income level. Sure, they speak Spanish in Honduras, but you'd technically still get to be an American. In the past 20 years, Honduras has continuously moved toward decentralization and privatization of just about everything.
If you decide to move to Honduras, you might want to hire a bodyguard, as Honduras has the highest intentional homicide rate in the world. Don't worry, though, there are surely plenty to find in the free-market.
So, there you go. Three places built on the conservative values you cherish. Have fun and don't let the door hit you on the way out.
Posted by FourScore | Tue Nov 13, 2012, 10:55 AM (11 replies)