Sunday, July 31, 2011

(Updated) NY Times: "This Old Republican" (cartoon)

UPDATE: Or to put the situation more succinctly, the headline and picture this morning @ The Huffington Post:
'IT'S ALL CUTS'---"Deal Would Slash Trillions, Create Super Congress.. No Unemployment Benefits Extension.. Paul Krugman: The President Surrenders"

Brian McFadden, "The Strip" (New York Times).

Greg Sargent: "GOP on verge of huge, unprecedented political victory"

Greg Sargent:
If Dems had refused to budge from the demand for a clean hike, would Republicans have blinked — or would they have allowed default? The bottom line is Dems weren’t prepared to take that risk, and the fast-approaching deadline meant moving to negotiations was imperative. Should Obama have waged a far more aggressive P.R. campaign to saddle the GOP with potential blame for default? Maybe, but public opinion in recent days was running strongly for compromise and against Republicans — and they still continued to use the threat of default as leverage. Could Dems have had more success with a more aggressive approach? We’ll never know. Call it the road not taken.

The road that was taken is leading to a deal in which Dems are agreeing to take huge amounts of money out of the economy when the recovery is shaky at best. It also seems to ensure that Dems will agree to entitlements cuts heading into an election where the GOP was supposed to be deeply vulnerable over their drive to end Medicare as we know it. Dems will promise to salvage victory in the form of “smart” entitlement reform. Maybe so. For now, it appears the GOP is on the verge of a huge and unprecedented victory.

UPDATE: As Jonathan Cohn notes, maybe the deal won’t be quite as bad as it seems, but this is the last chance to make as much noise as possible. MORE...

Howie P.S.: The above was published @01:04 PM ET, 07/31/2011 but it showed up on my Twitter feed just now. At 03:00 PM ET, 07/31/2011 Jonathan Bernstein posted this, "How the deal won’t affect 2012" on the same WaPo website, The Plum Line:
I’m not going to try to figure out who won or who lost in the negotiations over a final deal, if there is one and it passes, until we actually have all the details. It’s certainly a huge win for Republicans over the status quo — but as I’ve said before, that’s mostly a consequence of GOP electoral victories last November. Whether Republicans won more than that victory would have predicted — that’s where we need to study the details. In the meantime, I will push back, once again, at a couple of things that people are saying about the debt limit/deficit deal and the 2012 elections. MORE...
From another report just up on HuffPo right now, "Debt Ceiling Deal That Cuts Trillions, Creates 'Super Congress' Announced By Party Leaders":
"This is going to be close. I think in the end, the president and Nancy are going to have to twist arms, and I'm not sure how hard she'll work to do that," the aide said, noting that Pelosi still remembers the infamous TARP vote where she delivered 150 of her members but Boehner did not get 100 of his. "MORE...

Paul Krugman on the Debt Deal (with video)

MEDIAite with video from ABC News (02:26):
Paul Krugman was very disappointed with President Obama and the Democrats for allowing the Republicans to frame the debt debate. Krugman insisted on the This Week roundtable, “from the perspective of a rational person, in other words, a progressive on this stuff, we shouldn’t be talking about spending cuts at all now.” Yet, according to Krugman, the “rational people” have now lost big time.

Krugman’s grim forecast, as a result of Republican-leaning “compromises” which focus on spending cuts, is that the American economy will experience worsening unemployment and general misery in the future. MORE...

(Updated) "IT’S A DEAL! Obama, Congressional Leaders Announce Deal To Avoid Default"

UPDATE: TPM has now added this to original post (Go to the link @TPM and scroll down to see it):
"To sell it to his members, Boehner laid out the deal in a Powerpoint presentation that describes the agreement's many similarities to his own debt limit plan.
Brian Beutler (TPM):
"The compromise we have agreed to is remarkable for a number of reasons, not only because of what it does, but because of what it prevents," Reid said.

"This is an important moment for our country," McConnell noted in response. "I can say with a high degree of confidence that there is a framework in place to assure a significant degree of cuts to Washington spending."

Both men announced the intent to meet with their caucuses Monday morning, to sell the plan, and round up votes for what will have to be rapid legislative action if both chambers are to pass the plan before the country's borrowing authority expires late Tuesday.

President Obama discussed the framework in a public statement at the White House Sunday evening, and urged members of both parties to support the plan. He also criticized Congress for touching off this crisis, and for being unable to arrive at a single grand bargain to improve the country's fiscal situation (with spending cuts and tax increases) and raise the debt limit as well.

"Is this the deal I would have preferred? No," Obama said. "But this compromise does make a serious down payment on the deficit reduction we need."

The announcement came just as House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) hosted a conference call with his own, unruly caucus, to sell them on the same plan. Passing this bill will be a heavier lift in that caucus, where scores of Democrats and Republicans are expected to defect. MORE...
Howie P.S.: I HOPE this is not one of those "Mission Accomplished" moments. Keep the champagne cold and uncorked a while longer.

Booman: "It's Not the End of the World"

As the outlines of the deal start to become clearer, I still don't think this is that bad of a deal. If you stop dreaming about stimulus for a moment and look at what is on the table, it's unlikely to result in some fiasco. First, there's the $900 billion in cuts that Biden signed off on during the negotiations. These cuts are probably specifically designed to do little harm to the economy over the next two years, just like the cuts in the spring. Then there's the joint committee, tasked with raising another $1.5 trillion over the next decade. If it fails, automatic cuts will happen that affect Medicare providers and the Pentagon equally on a one-to-one basis. Additionally, programs designed specifically to protect the poor and veterans are protected.
To me, there are two big downsides. The first is that we've now established a precedent that we will negotiate with terrorists, so we're going to be living with this bullshit for a long time. It's easier to let them shoot the hostage when the result is the National Zoo is closed than when it destroys the global economy, so expect more pushback over the budget.

The second downside is that we couldn't extract any stimulus at all, as far as I can tell. So, this won't hurt the economy much, but it certainly isn't going to help it. MORE...
Howie P.S.: I would like very much to have some "good news" and I HOPE this is it. Unsurprisingly, I see no evidence of "shared sacrifice."

"Matt Damon Says Stop The War On Teachers" (with video)

Zaid Jilani (ThinkProgress) with video (01:37):
Actor and activist Matt Damon spoke at the Save Our Schools rally today. Before he spoke, Damon granted ThinkProgress an exclusive interview. We asked him about how teachers unions are being demonized in much of the media and teachers are being blamed as the root of all problems in public education. Damon told us that the attacks on teachers unions are part of a larger “war on unions over the last decade” and condemned “punitive policies” that punish teachers without looking at the social factors that lead to student achievement. MORE...

"New debt deal, negotiated with White House, "resembled" Boehner’s bill."

Joe Sudbay (AMERICAblog):
Everything has been on the GOP's terms in this debate, since the President pretty much adopted the GOP's debt/deficit talking points. MORE...
Howie P.S.: More on the deal from Bloomberg and the San Francisco Chronicle:
A compromise has appeared to hinge on guaranteeing a second round of spending cuts beyond the roughly $1 trillion in overlapping savings in Reid's plan and one by Boehner that the House, solely with Republican support, passed July 29. The second round of cuts most likely involve rewriting U.S. laws on entitlements and taxes, something the tentative framework would assign to the new joint congressional committee.

Such a mechanism is called a "trigger," and it would force the across-the-board spending cuts if Congress failed to approve the committee's recommendations. MORE...
And, finally, from "Welcome to Teapocalypse" (Mark Sumner-Daily Kos):
...somehow, a good fragment of people got into a position where their operating rules were: big business & billionaires=good, government & ordinary people=bad. How this happened isn't completely clear, though it's just possible the TV and radio channels that big business & billionaires set up expressly to flog this message 24/7/365.25 had something to do with it. In any case, it's an admirably simple bit of code. A brain running this program requires less power than a cell phone and still has room for the deluxe edition of Angry Birds. MORE...

Saturday, July 30, 2011

"Hardball: Bruce Bartlett destroys every Republican fiscal talking point in 5 minutes" (with video)

SharksBreath-Daily Kos, with transcript and video (05:31):
Bruce Bartlett was on Hardball today. If you missed his appearance it was simply amazing.

He destroyed every Republican fiscal talking point in 5 minutes.

He then ended the interview with this when Chris asked him how to end the debt issue.

CM: I feel like sanity has just walked into the door. Bruce, so great, now that I realize you're smart and have the numbers, give me two seconds. Any way to solve this kerfuffle?

BB: I think at this point, there's nothing that can pass the House of Representatives.

CM: Because it's too much of a zoo?

BB: Yeah, i think a good chunk of the Republican caucus is either stupid, crazy, ignorant or craven cowards, who are desperately afraid of the tea party people, and rightly so. MORE...
Howie P.S.: From the transcript:
"Bruce Bartlett is former Deputy Assistant Treasury Secretary under the first George Bush and a policy adviser to Ronald Reagan. Bottom line, let's look at the numbers right now. We've got a chart coming up. This shows the Bush tax cuts were responsible for increasing the debts."
H/t to Norman Goldman.

"If Obama Likes Lincoln So Much, He Should Start Acting Like Him"

John Judis (The New Republic):
I am not an expert on Lincoln, but I have a pretty good idea what he would say if he were to suddenly appear on the scene. He would reject the Republican majority’s attempt to blackmail the rest of the government and the nation. If, because of Republican intransigence, the Congress were unable to raise the debt ceiling by August 2nd, I suspect he would follow Bill Clinton’s advice and raise the debt ceiling unilaterally on the grounds of the fourteenth amendment, which says that “the validity of the public debt … shall not be questioned.” That’s certainly a risky move. If Obama were to do it, he could eventually face a hostile Supreme Court majority, just as Lincoln’s suspension of habeas corpus aroused the ire of Chief Justice Roger Taney in 1861. But, given the dangerous game that the Republican Party is playing, that’s a risk worth taking. MORE...
Howie P.S.: I guess it's a sign of how things have tilted so far to the right that I find the New Republic now has something worth putting into the mix again.

Patriotic Millionaires: "Please do the right thing for our country. Raise our taxes." (with video)

Patriotic Millionaires with video (01:29):
Read the Patriotic Millionaires' Stinging Letter to Senate and House Republicans here!

Dear Mr President

We are writing to urge you to put our country ahead of politics.

For the fiscal health of our nation and the well-being of our fellow citizens, we ask that you increase taxes on incomes over $1,000,000. MORE...
Howie P.S.: There are two people from Seattle who have signed the letter, Judy Pigott and Jonathan Fisher. H/t to Darryl. Now there's a poll, "Washington says tax the rich to cut deficit" (Chris The Washington referred to here is the Evergreen State, not the other one where the Beltway is.

Democratic Senate leaders on the debt bill (video)

MSNBC-Maddow Show, video (14:45).

Friday, July 29, 2011

WA: "Gregoire is among least popular governors"

The Stand (WA State Labor Council):
Gregoire has unmistakably shifted rightward politically in both her words and actions. In a 2011 legislative session dominated by a challenging budget and business-backed workers’ compensation reform, Gregoire defied calls from her Democratic base to close tax loopholes and oppose lump-sum buyouts of injured workers. The commercial media lauded this shift as a fresh “bipartisan” approach that took guts. But the polls suggest Gregoire’s political shift alienated some Democrats while failing to impress either Republicans or independents. MORE...

Robert Reich: "We’re really in a “jobs and growth” crisis – not a budget crisis."

Robert Reich:
A friend who’s been watching the absurd machinations in Congress asked me “what happens if we don’t solve the budget crisis and we run out of money to pay the nation’s bills?”

It was only then I realized how effective Republicans lies have been. That we’re calling it a “budget crisis” and worrying that if we don’t “solve” it we can’t pay our nation’s bills is testament to how successful Republicans have been distorting the truth. MORE...

"A Sense of Betrayal" on Iraq

Marc Adler on
Staff Sergeant Javier Ocasio speaks out against an unjust war---The sense of betrayal is acute: “Anybody that’s ever been there [Iraq] man, knows straight up that… it’s about oil, everybody knows it’s about oil. They’re like, what are we doing here? This is about oil, why are we trying to, you know, whatever? This does not make any sense; we’re wasting our time, our lives. You know, just get us out of here! We don’t need to be here, they don’t even want us here. But nobody listens, everybody says, ‘Oh, they need our help, they need this, they need that,’ no they don’t, who are we to tell them what they need?” MORE...

Politico on Top 10 Gov. races--"Who won July: Inslee"

David Cantanese (Politico):
1. Washington

In a little less than a month, state Attorney General Robert McKenna raised about $667,920 for his title card match-up against Rep. Jay Inslee. But the eight-term congressman is on the verge of transferring more than $1 million from his House account – a move McKenna’s team has claimed is “illegal.”

The last time Washington Republicans raised such alarm, they were even derided by some conservatives.

The issue was a tracker’s attendance at a King County Young Republicans meeting where McKenna was speaking. The members called 911 multiple times for the “emergency” of what’s become the common campaign tactic of tracking -- and McKenna looked petty by refusing to continue his remarks.

Democrats have since plastered the the video and audio online in hopes that the complaint boomerangs and portrays the GOP as jittery and overreactive.

It might've already worked.

Who won July: Inslee

No recent public polling

Thursday, July 28, 2011

"Obama and His Discontents"

"Ta-Nehisi Coates, a senior editor at The Atlantic, is a guest columnist."

Ta-Nehisi Coates (NY Times op-ed):
The administration of President Obama has never held much regard for its left flank. Admonished by the vice president to “stop whining,” inveighed against by the president himself for “griping and groaning,” the liberal critics have been generally viewed by the White House as petulant children. “The Professional Left,” former press secretary Robert Gibbs dubbed them, a gang of nettlesome romantics who “ought to be drug-tested,” and would not be happy until “we have Canadian health care and we’ve eliminated the Pentagon.” MORE...

"Infographic: U.S. National Debt"

Howie P.S.: Go to the White House link to read the fine print.

David Horsey: "Ultraconservatives see socialists everywhere" (with cartoon)


David Horsey (
If it were not for their powerful recklessness, I would simply get a good laugh out of the alarmists on the right who see socialism in any tilt toward moderation in our politics. MORE...

Greg Sargent: "Senate Dems game out their strategy"

Greg Sargent, from today's 'Morning Plum:
With Boehner’s proposal seemingly set to pass, Senate Dems are mulling three options: First, don’t vote on Boehner’s bill at all, which would anger GOP senators. Second, vote down Boehner’s bill and try to pass Reid’s proposal, using the failure of the Boehner bill to exert pressure on GOP Senators to support Reid’s. And third, vote down Boehner’s plan and try to pass a compromise version of Reid’s plan negotiated with Mitch McConnell and also with Boehner, so it can hopefully pass the House once it’s kicked back to that chamber.

As best as I can determine, option three is the most likely. The key questions: Whether there is ultimately any kind of compromise proposal that can pass the House; how much Dems are willing to concede to make that happen; and how much spine Dems are willing to display right up to the drop-dead moment in order to force House Republicans to move in their direction. MORE...

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Ari Melber: "Media Blows Debt Crisis Coverage With Balance Bias"

Ari Melber (The Nation):
Balance Bias (bal-ance bi-as)
1. The assumption that there is truth and legitimacy to both sides of every dispute.
2. The iron law in political journalism that one side in a debate can never be exclusively right, or have a monopoly on the facts.

This increasingly disorderly fight over raising the debt ceiling has not only exposed the petty dysfunctions of the US Congress, it has also revealed a core failure of American political journalism. The press has made the debt fight the top story for the last two weeks [1]—even accounting for half of all stories on radio and cable news—but much of the coverage has failed to tell the very basics of what is happening.

I don’t mean how this deficit was created (by tax cuts, Medicare and recessions [2]), or why the debt ceiling gets raised (in response to past decisions by Congress). That stuff matters, but at bottom, this is a story about politics, not the bond market.

This fight started with a partisan threat to sabotoge the economy in order to extract policy concessions, but then, when Democrats offered most of the concessions, it ricocheted and morphed into something else: a high-stakes lightning round of intramural GOP posturing. MORE...

PBS: "The Pot Republic" (video)

Watch the full episode.

"The Pot Republic" (PBS-FRONTLINE), video (24:48):
Inside the country's oldest, largest and most wide-open marijuana market — California.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Ari Melber Debates David Frum on the debt ceiling (video)

The Nation with video (07:44) from MSNBC-The Last Word:
The Nation's Ari Melber debated Obama's speech with former Bush aide David Frum on MSNBC's The Last Word on Monday night...
Howie P.S.: Ari comments
Here's my debate with former Bush aide David Frum after the President's speech last night. He was not ready to fully account for the GOP's role in driving up the deficit they claim to oppose.
Katrina vanden Huevel says "Way too much kumbaya in this president," video (14:33). Viewer alert: this was on The Morning Jokesters.

Monday, July 25, 2011

"Smash the Ceiling"

James Surowiecki(The New Yorker):
The truth is that the United States doesn’t need, and shouldn’t have, a debt ceiling. Every other democratic country, with the exception of Denmark, does fine without one. There’s no debt limit in the Constitution. And, if Congress really wants to hold down government debt, it already has a way to do so that doesn’t risk economic chaos—namely, the annual budgeting process. The only reason we need to lift the debt ceiling, after all, is to pay for spending that Congress has already authorized. If the debt ceiling isn’t raised, we’ll face an absurd scenario in which Congress will have ordered the President to execute two laws that are flatly at odds with each other. If he obeys the debt ceiling, he cannot spend the money that Congress has told him to spend, which is why most government functions will be shut down. Yet if he spends the money as Congress has authorized him to he’ll end up violating the debt ceiling. MORE...
Howie P.S.: This seems like a very sensible point of view---too sensible for our politics today.

Ari Melber: "In Debt Address, Obama Asks Americans to Raise The Roof"

Ari Melber (The Nation):
President Obama did not say anything particularly new in his unprecedented deficit address to the Nation on Monday night. The most significant moment came not in an original announcement or last-minute proposal, but in the President's request that Americans actually get up, get involved, and ask Congress to lay off the insanity.
In the end, the focus on process over tangible goals is most evident in a picture of Obama's verbal priorities. This chart, based on the frequency of Obama's word choices, does not suggest a single, overarching goal. After the obligatory salutes to Americans, the takeaway is more about technocratic process than a key priority at stake, or a hardball closing argument.

Apparently, it all comes down to our approach. MORE...

Robert Kuttner: "Obama Holds the Cards -- If He Will Play Them Well"

Robert Kuttner (The American Prospect):
At some point this week, stock and bond markets will begin to start swooning, and the usual wise guys will begin making high-risk bets at the expense of financial stability as a whole. Credit rating agencies, which should be accorded zero credibility after their role in causing the financial collapse by blessing junk sub-prime securities as Triple-A, could start downgrading the debt of the United States.

And then things will get really interesting. The President of the United States will be revealed to be holding more of the cards -- if he has the nerve to start playing his hand well (for a change).

At that point, there are only two basic choices. Either the Republicans and the White House agree to some kind of short- or medium-term increase in the debt ceiling, in exchange for some kind of deal with details to be supplied later. Or the president invokes the 14th Amendment and declares that the debts of the United States will be paid. MORE...

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Ari Melber: "Report: On Debt, Democrats Rebel Against Compromiser-in-Chief"

Ari Melber (The Nation):
Presidents always have some tension with the parties that they lead, but Drew's sources suggest a White House political strategy that is now fundamentally at odds with congressional Democrats.
The key allegation in Drew's article is that Obama is not only giving too much away (e.g. needlessly undercutting spending, stimulus, seniors or Medicare), but that he is doing so to politically save only himself.
Obama has made Republicans "look bad," Drew concludes, but he is not actually getting much for it. I'd go even further. By fully caving on this stand-off, where the White House is backed by the general public and large swaths of the GOP (the financial community and the well-informed), Obama would not only fail to impress independent voters, he'd ensure a drubbing on a series of future fights, large and small, with his unreasonable opponents.

Some politics really is like parenting. You don't reward tantrums. MORE...

Elizabeth Drew on Obama and the debt limit: "What Were They Thinking?"

Pete Souza/White House---President Barack Obama at a meeting with his advisers in the Oval Office, June 8, 2011

Elizabeth Drew (NY Review of Books):
Someday people will look back and wonder, what were they thinking? Why, in the midst of a stalled recovery, with the economy fragile and job creation slowing to a trickle, did the nation’s leaders decide that the thing to do—in order to raise the debt limit, normally a routine matter—was to spend less money, making job creation all the more difficult? Many experts on the economy believe that the President has it backward: that focusing on growth and jobs is more urgent in the near term than cutting the deficit, even if such expenditures require borrowing. But that would go against Obama’s new self-portrait as a fiscally responsible centrist.

Lawrence Summers, Obama’s recently resigned chief economic adviser, said on The Charlie Rose Show in July that he found it “dispiriting” that “all of the energy is on the projected deficits…when the problem right now is that the economy is in danger of stagnating from lack of demand.” MORE...
H/t to Ari Melber and Booman. Gaius Publius (AMERICAblog) also comments on this and tosses Paul Krugman into the conversation.

"Seattle's Tim Keck forever remains The Stranger"

MCGINN PORTRAIT BY GARRETT MORLAN from the story "The Case for Mike McGinn: Part 1 (The Stranger)."

Jonathan Martin (Seattle Times):
The Stranger became a de facto arm of the McGinn campaign. It ran McGinn's hagiographic portrait on its cover, banner ads on its website and a four-part, 6,000-word polemic in print. In typical fashion, it called McGinn's opponent an idiot — complete with preceding four-letter-word adjective. Keck himself gave a rare political donation.

And it all worked. MORE...

Lee on MMJ in WA: "Never Get out of This Maze"

Lee (
The state’s new medical marijuana law took effect Friday. But between the governor’s reckless partial veto, the unresolved state-federal conflict, and a state Attorney General who hides under his desk every time he hears the word ‘marijuana’, no one seems to have any idea exactly what the law does or doesn’t allow. MORE...

Photos of the Day (with stories)

"Debt crisis: Deal sought to head off stock plunge" (AP):
Precariously short of time, congressional leaders struggled in urgent, weekend-long talks to avert an unprecedented government default, desperate to show enough progress to head off a plunge in stock prices when Asian markets open ahead of the U.S. workweek. MORE...
"It’s Wedding Day in New York!"(AMERICAblog):
It's a big day in the Empire State. At the stroke of midnight, marriages between same-sex couples became legal in New York. And, shortly thereafter, couples began getting married. MORE...

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Robert Reich: "Why Medicare Is the Solution — Not the Problem"

Robert Reich:
Not only is Social Security on the chopping block in order to respond to Republican extortion. So is Medicare.

But Medicare isn’t the nation’s budgetary problems. It’s the solution. The real problem is the soaring costs of health care that lie beneath Medicare. They’re costs all of us are bearing in the form of soaring premiums, co-payments, and deductibles.

Medicare offers a means of reducing these costs — if Washington would let it.

Let me explain. MORE...

"Obama Takes On GOP; Angrily Defends ‘Working Stiffs’ Who Struggle Everyday" (with video)

MEDIAite with video (05:18) from CNN:
President Obama took to the White House briefing room podium Friday afternoon to take questions regarding the earlier collapse of the debt crisis negotiations between the administration and the GOP. A rather pedestrian press briefing suddenly turned spirited with last question posed by Huffington Post’s Sam Stein, who asked about market reaction on Monday. Mr. Obama seemed passionate, if not…well, pissed, with Speaker Boehner and other GOP leadership for the stalled talks. MORE...

Booman on the Debt Crisis "The Kabuki Dance"

It's not a true debt crisis. It's a crisis in the Republican caucus. This whole dance has been for their benefit. MORE...

Joan Walsh on compromise, Obama, the debt limit and Bernie Sanders

Joan Walsh:
The president sincerely believes that the intense polarization of American politics isn't merely a symptom of our problems but a problem in itself – and thus compromise is not just a means to an end but an end in itself, to try to create a safe harbor for people to reach some new common ground. I actually have some sympathy with that point of view. But having now watched two smart Democratic presidents devote themselves to compromise with Republicans, only to be savaged with increasing intensity, I've lost faith that compromise itself holds some healing magic. Maybe it just emboldens bullies.

All of that said, I don't agree with Sen. Bernie Sanders that Obama's compromising with the GOP means he should face a primary challenge. I've said it over and over: The left invests way too much energy and drama in presidential politics. If you want a better Democratic president, elect better Democrats to Congress and state legislatures. A primary next year would be an exercise in self-destruction. But I can say that without wanting to destroy Sanders. I hope Obama's staunchest supporters can do the same. MORE...

"What's Happened to Obama?"

Bob Burnett:
The core of our dissatisfaction may stem from what initially attracted us -- the notion of Obama being the first black president of the United States. Those of us who value the civil rights movement saw Obama's election as the culmination of an epic struggle featuring American heroes like Sojourner Truth and Martin Luther King, Jr. We were inspired by Barack's soaring oratory and believed he would care more about social justice. We expected him to be a hero.

Now we recognize that Barack Obama is a realist, not an idealist. We understand that above all else, he is a politician. In 2008, Americans elected the black Bill Clinton -- without the sex addiction. That's better than electing a generic Republican, but still a big disappointment. MORE...

Rachel Maddow on Reagan and today's House GOP on the debt limit (video)

MSNBC-Rachel Maddow, video (13:58).

Friday, July 22, 2011

"Democrats erupt over latest plan on debt ceiling"

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) was asked to the White House on Thursday evening along with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) as President Obama tried to soothe Democrats. Many worried that he was retreating on has demand for new revenue to accompany slashes in federal spending. (Tom Williams, Roll Call / July 22, 2011)

Lisa Mascaro and Christi Parsons (LA Times):
As President Obama pushed hard for a grand deal to reduce the federal deficit, he ignited a furor among congressional Democrats on Thursday by appearing to retreat from his insistence that spending cuts and revenue increases be included in the same package. MORE...
Howie P.S.: Digby is also unhappy.

Candlebox - "Stand" (with video)

WMGILG, video (03:32).

Howie P.S.: Candlebox is "from Seattle" and is very good friends with someone where I work. This song is considered "political"--by some.

David Horsey: "Job creators..." (with cartoon)


David Horsey (
It has been the case for a long time that modern-day politicians are barely able to speak unless they have memorized a set of talking points pre-approved and vetted by a team of spin doctors. It’s especially easy to detect this homogenizing influence when a new euphemism repeatedly pops up in the comments of an entire political caucus.

The current case in point: “job creators.” MORE...

Greenwald: "Barack Obama is gutting the core principles of the Democratic party"

Glenn Greenwald:
Where is the "epic shitstorm" from the left which Black predicted? With a few exceptions – the liberal blog FiredogLake has assembled 50,000 Obama supporters vowing to withhold re-election support if he follows through, and a few other groups have begun organising as well – it's nowhere to be found. MORE...
Howie P.S.: It may not be "epic" but there is a shitstorm. Many on "the left" know that the federal budget is in the red over the wars, the tax breaks for the wealthy and corporate give-aways.

"Debt talks bring tensions between Democrats, Obama to surface"

Paul Kane (WaPo):
For the first time in weeks of debt negotiations that have focused on rifts within the Republican Party, Thursday brought forward long-simmering tensions between Obama and his Democratic allies on Capitol Hill.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (Calif.) pleaded to return to negotiations over a Reid-McConnell plan that contained no tax increases and no entitlement cuts.“This is a very sensitive time,” she said, trying not to directly criticize the White House.

Did she think the White House was working off the same page as her?

“No,” she replied. MORE...

Thursday, July 21, 2011

(Updated) "Why Cenk Uygur Left MSNBC" (with video)

UPDATE: Paul Waldman (American Prospect):
"While who hosts which show on cable news is probably of only marginal import to you, something just happened at MSNBC that is actually interesting. Cenk Uygur, who had been hosting the network's 6 pm slot on a trial basis for the last few months, got shown the door, and Al Sharpton will be taking over." MORE...

TheYoungTurks, with video (11:55):
Cenk Uygur (host of The Young Turks) explains why he turned down a new, significantly larger MSNBC contract after hosting a prime-time show on the network that was beating CNN in the key demo ratings.
Howie P.S.: CURRENT TV, does this give you food for thought?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

"Ed Schultz and Bernie Sanders (and Donna Edwards): The Gang of Six Plan Will Devastate the Middle Class" (video)

MSNBC-The ED Show, video (14:42).

"The Democratic Disappointment" with Chris Gregoire

Josh Feit (publicola):
At issue: Two of the biggest disappointments from the 2011 legislative session for the Democratic base—and by Democratic base, I mean labor unions and social service advocates. MORE...

Frontline (PBS) on Afghanistan: "KILL/CAPTURE" (video)

PBS-Frontline, video (53:39):
Inside the military's extraordinary secret campaign to take out thousands of Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters.
Howie P.S.: I wonder if the "lamestream" networks have covered this story.

"Republicans to their leaders: Make a deal already"

Greg Sargent:
In case you needed further proof that the ground is shifting big time in the debt ceiling debate, consider this number from the new Post poll: Fifty eight percent of Republicans say their leadership is not doing enough to srike a deal, and seventy-nine percent of independents say the same about GOP leaders, versus 62 percent who say it about Obama.

This mirrors Gallup’s finding earlier this week that 57 percent of Republicans, and 72 percent of independents, want their leaders to reach a compromise even if they disagree with its contents. MORE...

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Digby on the "props" Obama deserves on health care

* New federal guidelines resulting from Obamacare mean virtually all insurance plans may soon be required to offer free coverage of birth control.

* Digby says the Obama administration deserves props for the proposal because it will provoke a major national backlash from the right, but she advises liberals to hang tough because it’s a fight they can win.

Howie P.S.: The above comes from tonight's "Happy Hour Roundup" by Greg Sargent.

"Elizabeth Warren Makes It Personal"

Nancy Scola (The Atlantic):
Elizabeth Warren is ready to name and shame. After 10 long months spent crafting a brand-new federal agency in her image and likeness, years before that willing the institution into statutory existence, only to be passed over on Sunday in favor of Richard Cordray just as the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is moving out of beta, Warren, on a press call late yesterday afternoon, was eager to share her clarity on who's to blame for the especially precarious position the new federal-friend-to-the-American-consumer now finds itself in. MORE...

George Packer on the debt crisis: "Empty Wallets"

George Packer:
In the midst of the debt crisis in Washington, D.C., Danny Hartzell backed a Budget rental truck up to a no-frills apartment building that is on a strip of motels and pawnshops in Tampa, Florida. He had been laid off by a packaging plant during the financial crisis of 2008, had run through his unemployment benefits, and had then taken a part-time job stocking shelves at Target in the middle of the night, for $8.50 an hour. MORE...
H/t to Ari Melber.

Robert Reich: "The Dangerous Hi-Jinks of the GOP’s Juveniles"

Robert Reich:
I’ve spent enough of my life in Washington to take its theatrics with as much seriousness as a Seinfeld episode. A large portion of what passes for policy debate isn’t at all — it’s play-acting for various constituencies. The actors know they’re acting, as do their protagonists on the other side who are busily putting on their own plays for their own audiences.

Typically, though, back stage is different. When the costumes and grease paint come off, compromises are made, deals put together, legislation hammered out. Then at show time the players announce the results – spinning them to make it seem they’ve kept to their parts.

At least that’s the standard playbook.

But this time there’s no back stage. MORE...

Monday, July 18, 2011

"Medical Marijuana Battle in Seattle"

Mark Miller (HIGH TIMES):
In a high-stakes ‘race’ to protect medical marijuana dispensaries before a statewide ban across Washington goes into effect next week, Seattle took measures on Wednesday to quickly create and pass a new medical marijuana ordinance.
Equally encouraging was the announcement from King County Executive Dow Constantine (the highest ranking public official in King County, which includes Seattle) that he’ll consider expanding Seattle’s ordinance throughout the county. Constantine has already instructed the county sheriff and prosecutor to ignore small-scale dispensaries. MORE...

David Frum: "Incredible Shrinking Workers’ Income" (chart)


David Frum:
Workers’ share of U.S, national income is collapsing.

Two questions for the Republican presidential candidates:

1) Is this a problem?

2) If yes, what can be done about it?

H/t to Glenn Greenwald.

Elizabeth Warren: "A Big Week for the New Consumer Agency"

Elizabeth Warren (HuffPo):
This is a big week for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). Today, the President will announce his intent to nominate Richard Cordray to serve as the first Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. On Thursday, the CFPB makes its transition from a start-up to a real, live agency with the authority to write rules and to supervise the activities of America's largest banks.

Rich will be a strong leader for this agency. He has a proven track record of fighting for families during his time as head of the CFPB enforcement division, as Attorney General of Ohio, and throughout his career. He was one of the first senior executives I recruited for the agency, and his hard work and deep commitment make it clear he can make many important contributions in leading it. Rich is smart, he is tough, and he will make a stellar Director. I am very pleased for him and very pleased for the CFPB. MORE...
Howie P.S.: Ari Melber Tweets that "the White House is circulating this new piece by Warren." Greg Sargent passes this along:
as Paul Krugman notes,
Republicans are equally committed to blocking his appointment: What’s going to happen, then, is no director for the CFPB in any case. But meanwhile Obama has passed up a chance to symbolically align himself with the public and against the banksters."

Sunday, July 17, 2011

"Can't win a class war unless we fight one"

Chris Bowers (Daily Kos):
There is a class war being fought in Washington, DC right now, but it's extremely one-sided and so the outcome is obvious. By contrast, in Wisconsin the class war is being fully engaged from both sides, and the outcome there is balanced on the edge of a knife. That shouldn't come as a surprise, since there is no way to win a class war unless you fight one. MORE...
H/t to Shaun.

"Can Obama Pull a Clinton on the GOP?"

Robert Reich:
The fight over the debt ceiling will be over very soon. Most Washington hands know it will be raised. Political tacticians know President Obama will likely appear to win the battle, and his apparent move to the center will make Republicans look like radicals. But the Clinton script will take the president only so far. If he wants a second term, he’ll have to come out swinging on jobs. MORE...

"Pot is the new gay"--Bill Maher and Ethan Nadelmann (video)

claw7man, video (08:03).

"We’re Spent"

David Leonhardt (NY Times):
If governments stop spending at the same time that consumers do, the economy can enter a vicious cycle, as it did in Hoover’s day.

The prospect of that cycle is one reason an impasse on the debt ceiling, and a government default, could do so much damage. Global investors may be the only major constituency that has been feeling sanguine about the American economy. If Washington unnerves them, and sends interest rates rising, the effect really could be calamitous.

But the debt-ceiling debate doesn’t have to be yet another problem for the economy. The right kind of agreement could help soften the consumer bust and also speed the transition to a different kind of economy.

What might that agreement look like? MORE...

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Obama Weekly Address: ‘I’m Willing To Compromise,’ I Expect Same Of Congress (video)

MEDIAite with video from CNN (03:54):
President Obama unsurprisingly devoted his weekly video address to the subject of the deficit negotiations and expressed some disappointment that a bi-partisan deal has yet to be reached. If former presidents Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton were able to work with leadership in the opposing political party to reach compromise, Obama remains optimistic that now should be no different. MORE...
Howie P.S.: More from Jim Kuhhenn (HuffPo), "Obama Takes Debt Ceiling Case To The American People, Congress Seeks Bipartisan Plan":
Racing the debt clock, Congress is working on dual tracks while President Barack Obama appeals to the public in hopes of influencing a deal that talks have failed to produce so far.

"We have to ask everyone to play their part because we are all part of the same country," Obama said Saturday, pushing a combination of spending cuts and tax increases that has met stiff resistance from Republicans. "We are all in this together." MORE...

Daily Kos: "Abbreviated Pundit Round-up"

Charles Blow:
Last week I spent a few days in the Deep South — a thousand miles from the moneyed canyons of Manhattan and the prattle of Washington politics — talking to everyday people, blue-collar workers, people not trying to win the future so much as survive the present.

They do hard jobs and odd jobs — any work they can find to keep the lights on and the children fed.

No one mentioned the asinine argument about the debt ceiling. No one. Life is pressing down on them so hard that they can barely breathe. They just want Washington to work, the way they do. MORE abbreviated punditry from others HERE...

"Cantwell builds a political firewall — with greenbacks"

Joel Connelly (

Cantwell has earned her stripes, helping hammer out Wall Street reform and working on health care reform as a member of the Senate Finance Committee. She’s done likewise politically, hosting a pricey Arctic Club lunch for Harry Reid as the Senate Majority Leader fought to hold onto his Senate seat. MORE...

Thom Hartmann Exposes the History of "We're going broke!" (video)

TheBigPictureRT, with video (06:04):
There's a long history of predicting Medicare is going broke any minute, and along with it Social Security and here it is.
H/t to Darryl.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

"Celebrating Woody Guthrie's Birthday With Arlo and the Radical Version of 'This Land...'

John Nichols:
As it happens, his son, Arlo, a great songwriter and singer in his own right, will celebrate in Madison on the 14th. He will be at the historic Barrymore Theater, singing his own songs and some of his father’s.

Arlo Guthrie will support the labor struggle in Wisconsin as his father did so many times during the good fights that gave rise to the modern labor movement: by donating his entire fee to the We Are Wisconsin Worker’s Emergency Rights Fund — a network of religious leaders, community groups, labor union members, student groups and others who oppose the current state budget, which harms Wisconsin families.

There is something so very right—in a historic sense and a contemporary sense—about a Guthrie singing “This Land Is Your Land,” in all its glory, in Madison, Wisconsin, on the night of Woody’s 99th birthday. MORE...

Howie P.S.: Woody's birthday is on Bastille Day--perfect. My departed stepfather, Earl Robinson, wrote the music to "Joe Hill" and was friends with Woody and his family, so I feel a particular connection. I played volleyball with Arlo once on the beach in Venice, California but it was in the late sixties and my performance was impaired by a recreational substance. I have no comment on Arlo's performance.

The Seattle Times editorial board: "Defending providers of medical marijuana"

Seattle Times (editorial board):
A COMMITTEE of the Seattle City Council grappled Wednesday with a proposed ordinance for medical-marijuana cooperatives. It would be much easier for Seattle to ban them, as some suburban cities have done — and it would be wrong.

Ultimately, marijuana prohibition has to end. The next step is to defend the providers of medical patients. MORE...

City of Seattle: "Medical marijuana ordinance"

City of Seattle:
The City of Seattle believes that the medical use of cannabis should be conducted in a safe and fair manner for the health, safety and welfare of the community.

City Attorney Peter Holmes and City Councilmembers acknowledge the federal prohibition of marijuana, but plan to respond to the changes in state law in a responsible manner to minimize impacts to patients, providers, and the health, safety, and welfare of the community.

"President Obama says he's willing to put his job on the line over the debt limit debate" (video)

MSNBC-The ED Show, video (12:41).

Howie P.S.: Bernie Sanders joins in to comment.

"Obama's Base Opens Its Pockets" (video)

MSNBC-The Last Word, video (06:10).

Howie P.S.: Ari Melber joins Lawrence O'Donnell to comment.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Bernie Sanders: "Mr. President, Keep Your Word" (video)

SenatorSanders, video (06:30):
As high-stakes deficit talks resumed Tuesday at the White House, Sen. Bernie Sanders prodded President Barack Obama to keep his 2008 campaign promise not to cut Social Security. "If you told the American people you're not going to cut Social Security, then don't cut Social Security. Keep your word," Sanders said in a Senate floor speech.

Rachel Maddow: "GOP surrenders to economic reality" (video)

MSNBC-Rachel Maddow, video (15:14).

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Obama: Boehner "would like to do the right thing" (video and text)

CBS News with video and text(03:00):
The deal to reduce the deficit could be huge - somewhere between $1 trillion and $4 trillion.

The two sides are talking about taxes, Social Security, Medicare, and defense spending. Almost everyone agrees it has to be done by next week to give Congress time to pass a bill.

In his interview Tuesday with President Barack Obama, CBS Evening News anchor Scott Pelley spoke with the president in the same room of the White House where former President Franklin Delano Roosevelt broadcast his fireside chats on the radio.

They discussed how it wasn't that long ago that compromise in Washington was considered a virtue and not a vice. MORE...
Howie P.S.: Here's a new video (04:46) from Jim Messina, Campaign Manager-Obama for America: "Exclusive: First look at our report‏." HuffPo headlines the story from AP: "Obama Fundraising For 2012 Campaign, DNC Breaks Record."

Alan Grayson on The Real Two-Party System: "The Meanies and the Weenies" (video)

RepAlanGrayson, with video from MSNBC (05:03):
Congressman Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) demands that Social Security and Medicare be protected at all costs. He vows to never vote for a cut in either program. The interview on MSNBC's The Ed Show took place on July 11, 2011.

"Obama's Pivot to Jobs Long Overdue"

Ari Berman (The Nation):
The Obama Administration is currently making the curious argument that cutting spending and restructuring the social safety net will make it easier for them to pivot to the issue of jobs.

Jonathan Bernstein [1] finds some credence to this claim, but count me as a skeptic. For two years a stubbornly high unemployment rate has been the gravest problem facing this nation. The Obama administration shouldn’t need to pivot to the issue of creating jobs—it should have been the top priority for the administration from day one and every day since. MORE...

Dennis in Seattle: "Kucinich in His Own Words" (with video)

Goldy (SLOG), with video (20:58):

If you're interested, here's a video of Rep. Dennis Kucinich's speech at the NWroots conference on Saturday. In truth, it's not really all that radical. In fact, his call for a "second New Deal" actually makes a lot of sense.

I can't vouch for all the numbers Kucinich uses, but the amount of basic US infrastructure in need of repair or replacement is just stunning. Our highways and bridges are obvious, but much of our nation's drinking water and sewage infrastructure is over 70 years old, not mention our many deteriorating schools. Think about it. High unemployment, particularly in construction, and all this infrastructure that needs to be rebuilt.

Tax cuts for the wealthy, or rebuilding America's public infrastructure? Which do you think would get more people back to work, while providing more lasting benefits?

Howie P.S.: If Dennis is going to heed my call to run for mayor, he will have to drop all the "world" stuff from his stump speech.

"Crackdown: Kent, Washington Raids Cannabis Dispensaries" (with video)

TOKE OF THE TOWN, with video from Q-13 (02:43) and KING5 (02:26):
The repercussions of Washington Governor Christine Gregoire's failure of leadership -- when she vetoed most of a bill that would have legalized medical marijuana dispensaries in the state -- continue to reverberate. Police in Kent, Washington served search warrants at all four dispensaries in town on Wednesday afternoon. MORE...
Howie P.S.: In the video from KING5 the mayor of Kent suggests a solution for medical marijuana patients: "Grow your own."

"Don’t blame ‘both sides’ for debt impasse"

Eugene Robinson (WaPo):
Washington has many lazy habits, and one of the worst is a reflexive tendency to see equivalence where none exists. Hence the nonsense, being peddled by politicians and commentators who should know better, that “both sides” are equally at fault in the deadlocked talks over the debt ceiling.

This is patently false. MORE...

Monday, July 11, 2011

"Katrina vanden Heuvel: Is the Media Misleading Americans on the Debt Ceiling Debate?" (with video)

Anna Lekas Miller (The Nation), with video from CNN:
Despite a quickly approaching and crucial deadline to raise the debt ceiling, Republicans are holding the Democrats and the American people hostage by rejecting any plan that increases federal revenue. Despite the fact that Barack Obama has proposed previously unthinkable cuts to Social Security and Medicare spending in an effort to appease Republicans, the GOP isn't backing down. As a result, many media outlets are focussing on the drama of the Republican gridlock, rather than on the fourteen million unemployed who are in danger of losing essential benefits.

The Nation's Katrina vanden Heuvel joined former Newt Gingrich press secretary Tony Blankley on CNN's Reliable Sources yesterday to stress just how important this budget debate really is. If we analyze the historical effects of raising taxes and cutting spending, vanden Heuvel says, we can shift the debate from one centered around Washington's debt crisis toward one that looks at the full picture of America's jobs crisis.

"In a role reversal, it’s now Obama who’s pushing for the big deficit deal"

Greg Sargent (WaPo):
The key thing to understand about the events of the weekend is that they brought about a remarkable role reversal. After months in which GOP leaders were challenging the President to join them in seeking a major deficit reduction package, it is now Obama who is pushing hardest for a $4 trillion deficit compromise, while GOP leaders are the ones pushing for a more modest deal — all because they can’t tolerate a compromise that includes any revenue increases of any kind. If the White House’s strategy has been in part about maneuvering Republicans into the position of appearing to be the main obstacles to compromise, it seems to have succeeded. MORE...

Dennis in Seattle: "Red meat from a vegan — Kucinich"

Joel Connelly:
Rep. Dennis Kucinich is a vegan, but showed late Saturday that he knows how to dish out red meat to the liberal faithful.

Fresh from a trip to Damascus, Syria — he gets on well with President Assad — Kucinich used the daylong NW Roots conference to deliver a message of fiery old-time populism, mixed with New Age, with a call to bring the troops home — everywhere.

The Ohio Democrat has been displaying his wares here, four times since Presidents’ Day. Kucinich is likely to lose his seat to redistricting, and is looking to Washington as a state where he once saw a UFO (staying at Shirley MacLaine’s home in Graham) and “marched with the Teamsters and turtles” against the World Trade Organization. MORE...
Howie P.S.: I wonder if he is interested in being a mayor again, a transplanted Jerry Brown municipal re-run kind of campaign.