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Journal Archives

Esquire: The Grand Sellout Emerges

MODS: There are many articles referenced and subreferenced in this OP. All linked, sourced and excerpted per usual DU rules.

Before the Esquire article, you should understand why people are talking about Chained CPI, today:

[div class="excerpt" style="border: 1px solid #bfbfbf; border-bottom: none; border-radius: 0.3846em 0.3846em 0em 0em; box-shadow: 2px 2px 6px #bfbfbf;"]The Hill: Pelosi and Hoyer keeping an open mind to cuts to entitlement programs
[div class="excerpt" style="border: 1px solid #bfbfbf; border-top: none; border-radius: 0em 0em 0.3846em 0.3846em; background-color: #f4f4f4; box-shadow: 2px 2px 6px #bfbfbf;"]Emerging from a Democratic Caucus meeting Tuesday morning — where they were briefed on Obama’s plan by top White House adviser Rob Nabors — the Democrats pushed back hard against the president’s proposal to reduce future cost-of-living raises for Social Security recipients.

The change — known as the chained consumer price index (CPI) — is said to cut $130 billion in federal spending over a decade, and would include safeguards to protect the most vulnerable seniors.

“I don’t like it at all,” said Rep. James McGovern (D-Mass.).

“A terrible idea,” said Rep. and Sen.-elect Chris Murphy (D-Conn.).

“We don’t like the chained CPI,” said Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.).

“We don’t like it,” said Rep. John Garamendi (D-Calif.). “Why are you hurting the vulnerable seniors?”
And so on and so on- worth reading that article too. There are a lot of Democrats who hate this. Can anyone blame them?

Photo Illustration by DonkeyHotey via Flickr/Special to The Politics Blog

[div class="excerpt" style="border: 1px solid #bfbfbf; border-bottom: none; border-radius: 0.3846em 0.3846em 0em 0em; box-shadow: 2px 2px 6px #bfbfbf;"]Esquire: The Grand Sellout Emerges[div class="excerpt" style="border: 1px solid #bfbfbf; border-top: none; border-radius: 0em 0em 0.3846em 0.3846em; background-color: #f4f4f4; box-shadow: 2px 2px 6px #bfbfbf;"]I generally believe Ezra Klein when he talks about how everyone who matters is coming together to make a deal, so may I just congratulate all the important people on both sides of the aisle who have come together in semi-good faith to ram it to the rest of us. Really, kids, if this isn't really just a trial balloon big enough for the Macy's parade, well done.

On the spending side, the Democrats' headline concession will be accepting chained-CPI, which is to say, accepting a cut to Social Security benefits. Beyond that, the negotiators will agree to targets for spending cuts. Expect the final number here, too, to be in the neighborhood of $1 trillion, but also expect it to lack many specifics. Whether the cuts come from Medicare or Medicaid, whether they include raising the Medicare age, and many of the other contentious issues in the talks will be left up to Congress.

So here's where we sit. The Democrats, led by the president, who never is going to need to depend on Social Security, are prepared to concede on an issue that has absolutely nothing to do with the deficit. They are going to make life harder for millions of seniors. Social Security is now squarely "on the table" in any future budget negotiation. (Hey, who unplugged the third rail?) The simplest solution — raising the cap — is beyond discussion, now and forever. The "chained-CPI," which is a terrible idea on its own merits, as well as a piece of noxious moral sleight-of-hand, seeing as how it cuts benefits while pretending not to do so, is being adopted whole hog without a corresponding mechanism to raise more Social Security revenue to make up for the loss. If the president maintains his faith in the great god SimpsonBowles, the old folks will get a bump for only two years after the deal takes effect. Swell.

There are a couple of lines of thought here. For example, Paul Krugman is more optimistic.
Those cuts are a very bad thing, although there will supposedly be some protection for low-income seniors. But the cuts are not nearly as bad as raising the Medicare age, for two reasons: the structure of the program remains intact, and unlike the Medicare age thing, they wouldn't be totally devastating for hundreds of thousands of people, just somewhat painful for a much larger group. Oh, and raising the Medicare age would kill people; this benefit cut, not so much.

"Not so much"? That's what we get for a deal in which the president is simultaneously not even getting everything that he wants as regards the expiration of the Bush tax cuts. Granny needs to lose some weight anyway.

Quite honestly, the president's willingness to tinker this way with Social Security marks his presidency in a way that nothing else ever will. There is no economic need to do this to Social Security at all. There is no need for the program even to come up in the discussions. This locks Social Security forever into being defined for all political purposes as an "entitlement," and we all know that "entitlements" need to be reformed because everybody this president considers his primary constituencies say they must. It sets the stage for more concessions down the line by any Democratic president who doesn't possess the political momentum that the current president seems hellbent on squandering. This is that most horrible of Beltway concoctions — a deal for a deal's sake, a demonstration for the courtier press that Washington "works." (Chris Matthews last night said that he wanted a cliff-avoiding deal so that "Washington" could prove it can work again. He framed it around the events in Connecticut and gn control. These people think ... strangely.) If John Boehner brings home this deal, his caucus should name him emperor. If that caucus turns him down, they all should be placed in a locked ward for the duration of the president's second term. Meanwhile, David Gregory just had an orgasm you could hear on Mars.

More at the link! What a great position this puts Democrats in...for the Republicans!

To wit:
[div class="excerpt" style="border: 1px solid #bfbfbf; border-bottom: none; border-radius: 0.3846em 0.3846em 0em 0em; box-shadow: 2px 2px 6px #bfbfbf;"]Dems Dodge Questions on Spending Cuts[div class="excerpt" style="border: 1px solid #bfbfbf; border-top: none; border-radius: 0em 0em 0.3846em 0.3846em; background-color: #f4f4f4; box-shadow: 2px 2px 6px #bfbfbf;"]President Obama’s latest fiscal cliff offer to support deeper spending cuts to popular government programs puts his Democratic allies on Capitol Hill in a tough spot on Tuesday, driving them to dodge questions about whether they could support it.

Obama’s plan calls for $1.2 trillion in spending cuts that include changes like slowing the cost-of-living increases for Social Security beneficiaries – a reform Senate Democrats declared off the table weeks ago.

So now, Obama’s proposal puts Democrats in a bit of a political pickle.

Democrats can’t embrace Obama’s plan for fear of getting hammered by liberal interest groups and giving Republican House Speaker John Boehner room to push for further entitlement cuts.

Conversely, Democrats can’t threaten to scuttle a deal if the cuts are included because it could undermine Obama’s negotiating position. And while Democrats are likely to support the cuts as part of a larger fiscal cliff package, they can’t say so now.

So, they’re not saying much of anything.

Apparently it's just a bridge too far to ask the President to stop putting Democrats in the position of either supporting shitty legislation or openly rebuking him. Why does this situation, any of the insanity you've read above, even have to happen?

[font size="6"]JUST GO OVER THE FUCKING CLIFF[/font]


Bluejay's George Bush "Squirrel" sig pic

I just can't get enough of this thing. I have no idea why, but it never gets old.

It's like half a zen kōan.


Oregon inmate released, robs bank within hour, police say

Oregon inmate released, robs bank within hour, police say
(CBS/AP) EUGENE, Ore. - Authorities are accusing a man of robbing an Oregon bank less than an hour after he was released from jail due to budget cuts.

The Register-Guard reports that Eugene police arrested 33-year-old Christopher Franklin Weaver shortly after a Thursday robbery at a Pacific Continental Bank branch. He was returned to jail.

Weaver was among about 30 inmates released from the Lane County Jail at 11 a.m. Nov. 29. The bank was robbed at 11:55 a.m. the same day.

County sheriff's Sgt. Carrie Carver says "this isn't necessarily a worst-case scenario, but it's a very bad case."

Much more at the link, including a short video segment which is very much worth watching.

So this is the little town I live in. I've lived here since about 1983/84. I've traveled and lived all over the country, traveled to different countries in Europe, and this is still the most beautiful place on earth, IMO. Especially when you take the peace-loving, hippie-atmosphere into account.

But it's not always so nice. Crime, especially drug-related crime has washed over this little town like a tidal wave. It's not nearly as bad as it was during the meth epidemic but it's still something you have have to be aware of.

Anyway, if you do take the time to watch the video, one of the early-released inmates says something important, IMO- because he lives here too, just like I do. He basically says "You know, some of the people that I was in there with, who also were released today...they should still be in there."

Prophetic. After the interview with him was shot, one of the released allegedly robbed a bank.

Anyway, we have beautiful scenery everywhere. We've got nice people, too. But we're a city, like a lot of other nice cities, which is undergoing some severe budgetary cuts. There's just not enough money to go around and in situations like that, I really wish that we had a little more money to go around for things like more beds in the jail for people who really needed to stay behind bars.

That's all.


Mr. Fish on the US role in the Middle East Peace Process


UN General Assembly voting on status of Palestine in U.N. NOW (LIVE VIDEO)

BEST FEEDS, in English-->
CNN (you may have to select the stream):

Today's date was chosen to hold the vote in commemoration of Resolution 181, made by the United Nations sixty-five years ago, today.

Up to the minute Tweets on #UN, #Palestine


Other Feeds:
(untranslated) Times of Israel:

United Nations(not always the best feed):

Palestinians certain to win recognition as a state

Source: Chron

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The Palestinians are certain to win U.N. recognition as a state on Thursday but success could exact a high price: delaying an independent state of Palestine because of Israel's vehement opposition.

The United States, Israel's closest ally, mounted an aggressive campaign to head off the General Assembly vote, which the Palestinians view as a historic step in their quest for global recognition.

The Palestinians say they need U.N. recognition of a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem, the lands Israel captured in 1967, to be able to resume negotiations with Israel — and statehood could also open the way for possible war crimes charges against the Jewish state at the International Criminal Court.

In a last-ditch move Wednesday, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns made a personal appeal to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas promising that President Barack Obama would re-engage as a mediator in 2013 if Abbas abandoned the effort to seek statehood. But the Palestinian leader refused, said Abbas aide Saeb Erekat.

Read more: http://www.chron.com/news/us/article/Palestinians-certain-to-win-recognition-as-a-state-4075612.php

Historic, really. And while for most Americans these issues are somewhat abstract at best, this progression toward U.N. recognition as a state is bound to bring about a new phase in Middle East Peace negotiations...whether the United States and Israel are favorable to the move or not.

The world is bigger than the desires of the United States and Israel and that bigger world will have its say on the matter, tomorrow. Perhaps, if only as a reminder of same.


Grand Barg- ah fuckit: Obama says he'll do what it takes to avoid cliff (Seattle Times)

[div class="excerpt" style="border: 1px solid #bfbfbf; border-bottom: none; border-radius: 0.3846em 0.3846em 0em 0em; box-shadow: 2px 2px 6px #bfbfbf;"]Obama says he'll do what it takes to avoid cliff
[div class="excerpt" style="border: 1px solid #bfbfbf; border-top: none; border-radius: 0em 0em 0.3846em 0.3846em; background-color: #f4f4f4; box-shadow: 2px 2px 6px #bfbfbf;"]The White House and a key congressional Democrat hinted at fresh concessions on taxes and cuts to Medicare and other government benefit programs Wednesday as bargaining with Republicans lurched ahead to avoid the year-end "fiscal cliff" that threatens to send the economy into a tailspin.

Increasing numbers of rank-and-file Republicans also said they were ready to give ground, a boost for House Speaker John Boehner and other party leaders who say they will agree to higher tax revenues as part of a deal if it also curbs benefit programs as a way to rein in federal deficits.

"I'll go anywhere and I'll do whatever it takes to get this done," President Barack Obama said as he sought to build pressure on Republicans to accept his terms - a swift renewal of expiring tax cuts for all but the highest income earners. "It's too important for Washington to screw this up," he declared.

This is straight-up fucking WEAK. Sorry, I don't know enough pretty words to pretty up that much ugly.

What the fuck is up with this disturbingly submissive language?

Obama: To Get Debt Deal In 2nd Term, I’ll Wash John Boehner’s Car, I’ll Walk Mitch McConnell’s Dog

From The Young Turks:


Grand Bargain Express: Obama, GOP Mount 'Fiscal Cliff' Campaign Blitz (ABC News)

ABC News: Obama, GOP Mount 'Fiscal Cliff' Campaign Blitz (16 minutes ago)
Reuters: Obama says hopes for deficit deal by Christmas (24 minutes ago)

[div class="excerpt" style="border: 1px solid #bfbfbf; border-bottom: none; border-radius: 0.3846em 0.3846em 0em 0em; box-shadow: 2px 2px 6px #bfbfbf;"]Obama, GOP Mount 'Fiscal Cliff' Campaign Blitz
[div class="excerpt" style="border: 1px solid #bfbfbf; border-top: none; border-radius: 0em 0em 0.3846em 0.3846em; background-color: #f4f4f4; box-shadow: 2px 2px 6px #bfbfbf;"] President Obama, Republican lawmakers and an army of independent advocacy groups have mounted an aggressive new public campaign to highlight the stakes in a deal to avoid an economically toxic package of automatic tax hikes and spending cuts could take hold in 35 days.

The push has all the makings of a political campaign -- coming just three weeks after Election Day -- but with the nation's debt taking center stage instead of an individual candidate.


A trio of union groups -- the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the Service Employees International Union and the National Education Association (NEA) – last week launched a $300,000 TV and radio ad campaign across five states calling for higher taxes on the wealthy and no "cuts to vital services."

Some of the ads reportedly ran during televised coverage of Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade.


AARP, the Business Roundtable and the National Coalition to Preserve Social Security and Medicare have each readied campaigns of their own, hoping to remind lawmakers of their opposition to significant changes to entitlement programs.

And so begins the mad scramble for.....for what exactly? For a shit deal we get screwed on by Grover Norquist's lame-duck catamites?

Who the fuck thinks that's a good deal? Sounds more like the "Hasty Hot Mess" than a "Grand Bargain".

Maybe we should do something a little, oh, a little less chicken-with-its-head-cut-off. Like wait until the new year when we're in a better position to bargain, as Democratic House Rep. Peter DeFazio has suggested!

[div class="excerpt" style="border: 1px solid #bfbfbf; border-bottom: none; border-radius: 0.3846em 0.3846em 0em 0em; box-shadow: 2px 2px 6px #bfbfbf;"]Obama says hopes for deficit deal by Christmas[div class="excerpt" style="border: 1px solid #bfbfbf; border-top: none; border-radius: 0em 0em 0.3846em 0.3846em; background-color: #f4f4f4; box-shadow: 2px 2px 6px #bfbfbf;"]WASHINGTON, Nov 28 (Reuters) - President Barack Obama said on Wednesday he hoped to reach an agreement with Congress before Christmas to avoid the looming "fiscal cliff" and shrink the budget deficit, and ramped up efforts to rally the public to press Republicans for action.

Obama encouraged Americans to use Twitter - with the hashtag #My2K - and other social media to swamp their lawmakers with requests to act quickly to keep their tax rates low.

"Our ultimate goal is an agreement that gets our long-term deficit under control in a way that is fair and balanced," he said at the White House.

"I believe that both parties can agree on a framework that does that in the coming weeks. In fact, my hope is to get this done before Christmas," Obama said.



DeFazio goes on MSNBC, says 'Fuck the fiscal cliff!' Grand Bargain Express wobbles, heads explode!

Rep. Peter Defazio, D-Ore., says Congress should wait until after the new year to deal with the severe cuts and tax increases that will automatically take effect. Defazio insists says it’s a lame duck session and the most radical members of the Tea Party are still here, so it’s better to wait until the next Congress is in office.

No YouTube link yet, just hit the MSNBC site HERE (VIDEO)


From the transcript:

Q: You're one of the folks who have said, correct me if i'm wrong, that republicans won't accept tax hikes for wealthy and we might as well go off the fiscal cliff and take it up after January 1st. Is that an accurate representation of your position? And if so, why?

DeFazio: Sure. Well, first, off the 'cliff' is an unbelievable exaggeration. There's no cliff. In fact, the only tax rate that changes on January 1st is we do away with the Social Security/FICA holiday. The other tax rates we would have ample time to deal with, and we would be then bargaining from a position of strength. The republicans would be free from their pledge to Grover Norquist about not raising taxes. And we would be talking about who is going to get some tax relief -- middle-class families, you know, people with children, and other targeted cuts, and the Republicans could say, "Gee, i wanted to give the rich a tax break but we just couldn't get there. but, hey, we helped ow 98% of the people in America." I think we'd be bargaining from strength. I'm very worried that we're getting back to where we were two years ago where the President was put in a box or a year ago when the President got put in a box over the republicans threatening to default on our debt. We need to bargain from a stronger position and going over this bump in the road would give us that.

MUCH more at the link!

It's a refreshing change to see a Democratic politician rejecting the Shock Doctrine bullshit and attempting to maneuver the Democratic Party into a position of strength.

We WON the Election. Howsabout we start acting like it?


Israel pulls back from threat to topple Palestinian leadership over UN vote

Source: The Guardian

After weeks of shrill warnings over Thursday's United Nations vote on Palestinian statehood, Israel has backed away from threats to cancel the Oslo peace accords and topple the Palestinian leadership.

Israeli officials are now playing down any immediate sanctions against the Palestinians after it became clear that the request for statehood is likely to gather significant support, which has strengthened since the Israeli assault on Gaza. Several European countries, including France, Switzerland and Spain, will back the Palestinian move in part out of concern that failing to do so will weaken the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, to the advantage of Hamas.

The Israeli foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, previously drew up proposals saying that if the UN vote went ahead "then Israel must exact a heavy price from Abu Mazen (Abbas), including the possibility of toppling his regime and dismantling the Palestinian Authority." Israeli officials warned that funding to the PA could be cut, peace accords cancelled in part or in whole, and unrestricted construction of Jewish settlements authorised.

But the threats have not deterred the Palestinians nor a significant number of European countries from supporting their bid for "observer state" which is on a par with the Vatican's position at the UN.

Officials in Jerusalem are now instead seeking to disparage the vote as of no great significance in itself.

Read more: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/nov/28/israel-palestinian-statehood-un-vote

My, my. I wonder what the United States will do?

The vote is Thursday, AFAIK.

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