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Showing posts from November, 2012

I Will Survive

This one goes out to all of you who have figured out that you can survive...you know who you are.

McConnell's counter-offer: now who's laughing?

It was widely reported (by Mitch McConnell) that the Senate Minority Leader laughed when Treasury Secretary Geithner presented President Obama's proposal on how to avoid the so-called "fiscal cliff."

Now Senator McConnell has proposed a counter-offer.
In an interview in his Capitol Hill office, Mr. McConnell (R., Ky.) said if the White House agrees to changes such as higher Medicare premiums for the wealthy, an increase in the Medicare eligibility age and a slowing of cost-of-living increases for programs like Social Security, Republicans would agree to include more tax revenue in the deal, though not from higher tax rates. Here's how Steve Benen characterizes that:
...the Senate GOP leader envisions an agreement in which Republicans get the Medicare cuts they want, Republicans get the Social Security cuts they want, and Republicans get the tax rates they want. In exchange, McConnell would give Democrats Mitt Romney's revenue plan. For my response, I think I'…

It's NDAA time again

Doesn't it seem like just yesterday that the political left was going bonkers about the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA)? But I guess it was a year ago because it's time again for Congress to pass the bill that funds the Department of Defense for another year.

The Senate Armed Services Committee has reported out next year's NDAA and the Obama administration (pdf) has issued its list of objections to the bill along with the threat of a veto if its passed in its current form. Of note is the one that addresses the barriers the bill places on the administration's ability to close Guantanamo.
The Administration strongly objects to section 1031's restrictions on the use of funds to transfer detainees from the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay to foreign countries. When he signed past versions of this legislation, the President objected to the restrictions carried forward by section 1031, promised to work towards their repeal, and warned the Congress that the …

What do you whiners think about Tim Geithner now?

From the moment President Obama nominated Tim Geithner as Treasury Secretary, the whiners on the left have been screaming bloody murder. Any time you tried to engage them in talking about the President's proposals and/or accomplishments, they thought that all they had to do was throw out his name and that was proof that Obama was a "sell-out" to the plutocracy.

Well I have to wonder what those folks are thinking about Tim Geithner now. Apparently he was the one chosen by the President to take his budget proposal to the Republicans in Congress. Here's what we know about what was included:

End the Bush tax cuts for income over $250,000Raise tax rates on dividends and capital gainsReform the tax code to raise an additional $600 million in revenueReform the alternative minimum taxExtend small business tax breaksReturn the estate tax to 2009 levelsUnspecified cuts to non-entitlement mandatory spending$25 billion in additional stimulus spending over the next 6 years (basica…

Are you guys enjoying this as much as I am?

From Politico:
A top Democratic official said talks have stalled on this question since Obama and congressional leaders had their friendly-looking post-election session at the White House.

"Republicans want the president to own the whole offer upfront, on both the entitlement and the revenue side, and that's not going to happen because the president is not going to negotiate with himself," the official said. "There's a standoff, and the staff hasn't gotten anywhere. Rob Nabors [the White House negotiator], has been saying: 'This is what we want on revenues on the down payment. What's you guys' ask on the entitlement side?' And they keep looking back at us and saying: 'We want you to come up with that and pitch us.' That's not going to happen."Steve Benen comments:
Some of this is the result of a noticeable lack of Republicans with real policy chops. GOP officials have some relatively clear ideas about ending Medicare and repl…

Obama and Democrats on message...now its up to us

Even the lunatic fringe of the Republican Party is conceding that President Obama has won the messaging on the tax cut issues facing Congress.
How did the GOP lose the tax cut message? Two years ago, they won the mid-term elections in a landslide, sweeping races across the country. A few weeks ago, they lost a very close Presidential election. Yet today, they have been reduced to a befuddled muddle of mixed messages.

The GOP is treating the "fiscal cliff" negotiations as if they were an inside-baseball parlor game. They are letting the media dictate the terms of negotiation without any concern for how these talks play with the general public. While Obama dangles specific tax cuts in front of the public, the GOP wrings its hands about how the government can raise taxes without lifting rates for the highest-earning taxpayers. If you want to take a look at the President's superior message, check out how they've laid it all out at the White House web site. And we all kno…

Tips for the Holidays

I'm going to take a quick break from politics and talk a little bit today about the holidays. For most people we're in that time period where we're rushing around buying gifts for everyone on the holiday list. My first suggestion is that if you haven't already seen it, take 20 minutes to watch this video Annie Leonard put together a few years ago about "The Story of Stuff." It would also be interesting to watch it with the kids and see what they think.



Cass Sustein has some helpful tips as you shop. I'll let you go read them for yourself. But he ends with some pretty good advice.
For the holiday season, many of us focus too intensely on how other people will react to what we get them, when it may be the mere existence of the present, rather than exactly what it is, that most matters. Unless you are dealing with someone who really cares about what you get them, you should worry a lot less (and maybe spend less, too).

A few years ago, my sister declared a fa…

I'm breaking the taboo

On December 7th, the documentary film "Breaking the Taboo" will premier on youtube.



You can find out more about it at the Breaking the Taboo website.

I think the time is right for this kind of campaign. We know that it draws together groups that are otherwise as disparate as evangelical christians, communities of color and young libertarians. And with the passage of marijuana legalization in both Colorado and Washington in this last election, the general public seems to be warming up to the possibility.

The one thing I'd take issue with in the trailer is the idea that politicians who haven't supported an end to the war on drugs lack courage. The truth is that the politicians who are supporting this cause (you can find them at their web site) are those that have retired from running for office. The rest will sign on as soon as its clear that a majority of voters do.

So if you want to join me in breaking the taboo - pass this information on to your family, friends and …

Arguments that work - and don't work - in a discussion about drones

Arguments about the use of drones continue on the left. Most recently they have been spurred by an article in the New York Times about the Obama administration working on a policy for their use.

I have discussed before that I have misgivings about this issue. And its always hard for me to dive into the idea of creating "rules" for killing other human beings. But I also know its necessary if we're going to live in the world as it is - rather than as we want it to be. And so I take the news in that article as a positive step. It seems to me that its only those who are suffering from Obama Derangement Syndrome (ODS) that would criticize the administration for doing what they've been asking for all along.

And so in an attempt to actually have some discussion about this difficult issue, it strikes me that there are some arguments about the use of drones that work. And some that don't. To clear the field, lets start with the latter.

Arguments that don't work:

First …

What's NOT on the table

As the poutragers gear up their hysteria over the negotiations on the so-called "fiscal cliff," it might help if  we listen to what the White House and Democrats are saying is not on the table for compromise. So here's a list:
ObamacareSocial SecurityRaising the age of Medicare eligibility Funny how what we're left with is the same thing President Obama has been saying all along.

Yes, the President wants to reduce spending in Medicare/Medicaid. He's been saying that since day one. That's not an example of his "caving" to Republicans. Its an example of him making good on a promise.

Nuff said.

Bust a meme

I'm glad to see lefties like David Corn and Matt Yglesias finally coming around to bust the meme about President Obama "caving" on the tax cuts in 2010. I guess it takes some folks a while to catch on to the long game strategy. But better late than never, huh?

The next task for these guys will be to generalize that learning to some of the rest of the President's accomplishments. To aid in that process, I thought I'd repost something I wrote a year ago.

*****
It all started right away from the get-go. Our country had just elected Barack Obama at the moment we were careening towards a second Great Depression. Something had to be done...and fast. Twenty-eight days after the inauguration, President Obama signed the Recovery Act (yes, that's right folks...28 days!) It was the largest stimulus package every passed by a U.S. Congress.

And yet the wails of "Obama caved" coming from the left were already well underway. Nevermind that time was of the essence …

No Commentary Required 11/26/12

Here are some stories that caught my eye:

For a while now I've been saying that the Republican Party will miss the point if they simply blame Romney. Reader JT at TPM takes it from there.
The Republican Party has a problem, but it is not one candidate; it is not packaging or branding; it is not messaging that is sinking the GOP. It is the core beliefs of the vast majority of Republicans.

Their problem is their war on women; war on gays; war on minorities. It is their war on science and math and logic and education and reality. It is listening to nuckle heads like Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, Laura Ingraham, Michael Savage, Ann Coulter and Donald Trump. It is allowing entertainers to determine the direction and policy positions of a major political party. It is following the teaching of extremist religions leaders like the US Catholic Bishops.

But most of all, it is the GOP’s utter lack of respect for anyone who is not like them; supporting an idiot obscure congressman who shouts “…

Questions

I'm feeling a bit contemplative tonight. And so...
Sometimes

Sometimes
if you move carefully
through the forest

breathing
like the ones
in the old stories

who could cross
a shimmering bed of dry leaves
without a sound,

you come
to a place
whose only task

is to trouble you
with tiny
but frightening requests

conceived out of nowhere
but in this place
beginning to lead everywhere.

requests to stop what
you are doing right now,
and

to stop what you
are becoming
while you do it,

questions
that can make
or unmake
a life,

questions
that have patiently
waited for you,

questions that have no right
to go away.

-- David WhyteOne of the most beautifully disturbing questions we can ask, is whether a given story we tell about our lives is actually true, and whether the opinions we go over every day have any foundation or are things we repeat to ourselves simply so that we will continue to play the game. It can be quite disorienting to find that a story we have relied on - is not only not true - …

Everything you need to know about Obamacare

Apparently one of the biggest challenges we're going to face next year is the lack of accurate information about Obamacare. As you probably know, many of the most important provisions kick in on January 1, 2014. But most people have only heard about the individual mandate portion of the reforms.
Enroll America held focus groups in Philadelphia in mid-November, working exclusively with those who probably would qualify for benefits. Looking to understand how much public education will be needed, the researchers came back with a simple answer: a lot.  Participants’ hands shot up when researchers asked whether they had heard about a requirement to buy health insurance. But when asked about whether they had heard about any provisions that might make insurance more affordable, none of the 31 participants in the four groups answered yes. Who knew that having the American public lied to for almost two years would leave them uninformed and confused? (< snark off >)

The truth is that …

How do you run against a pragmatist?

By now most people except those on the right wing fringe recognize that President Obama can best be described as a pragmatist rather than an ideologue. As we've seen that play out over the last 4 years, we can also define the ingredients of that pragmatism. First of all, he identifies his North Star.
I've got one mandate. I've got a mandate to help middle class families and families that are trying hard to get in the middle class. And secondly, he evaluates solutions based on two criteria:
 What will work to solve a problem, andWhat can actually get done What we've seen from the President over and over again is that he proposes solutions he thinks will work. But he always indicates that he's open to alternatives - any alternatives - as long as they will work to address the problem.
That leaves the Republicans with a dilemma...one they resolved for the first 4 years of his presidency by simply attempting to obstruct any solution to problems.
Now that President Obama …

What replaces normal? THE great task that awaits us.

The other day I posted some of David Simon's reaction to this recent election that he titled the death of normal.
Regardless of what happens with his second term, Barack Obama’s great victory has already been won: We are all the other now, in some sense. Special interests? That term has no more meaning in the New America. We are all — all of us, every last American, even the whitest of white guys — special interests. And now, normal isn’t white or straight or Christian. There is no normal. But in addition to declaring "normal" dead, Simon pointed us in the direction of what its replacement will be.
America will soon belong to the men and women — white and black and Latino and Asian, Christian and Jew and Muslim and atheist, gay and straight — who can walk into a room and accept with real comfort the sensation that they are in a world of certain difference, that there are no real majorities, only pluralities and coalitions. To me, Simon just described the essence of the c…

My Thanksgiving - To All You Beautiful People

More than anything else, what this last election meant to me is that the majority of American people put their hopes for themselves and each other over their fears. This is my way of saying thanks to everyone who made that happen.

It is also meant as a thank you to all the Beautiful People who occasionally share this little digital space with me. You're the best!!! I look forward to more digging, jumping and crying together in the days ahead.



(The song is written and performed by a local group called Trova. They don't appear to exist as group any longer. But you can find their 2 recorded albums at itunes)

On moral codes

It must be my day to take on the right wing since this morning I had a little go-round about Jonah Goldberg and now I have a few things to say about Erick Erickson's latest.

As I've talked about here before, I've had to make peace with my fundamentalist christian past and - as much as possible - with my family members who still hold those beliefs. I don't feel the need to change them or judge them. If they are unhappy (and believe me...they are), it is their job - just as it was mine - to find their own resolution.

And so I resent it all to hell when Erickson says stuff like this.
The secularists of this world, I believe, can embrace fully contradictory things like support for gay rights and the advance of Islam into the Western World, because those things come from this world, not from Christ. The left is perfectly capable of contradiction and hypocrisy because they believe in nothing so much as themselves and the things of this world. Therefore, to them, there can be…

Idiot conservative gives Obama "advice" (updated)

As if it weren't amusing enough to watch Republicans wrestle with what to do with their own failed policies these days, its darn right hilarious to see them step out of that morass to provide some "advice" for President Obama. But then the piece de resistance comes loaded with belly laughs when one of them tries to tell the President how he should show some leadership on the state of Black families. Yeah, Jonah Goldberg went there. I kid you not! When I saw the headline combined with the author, I immediately figured that I just had to read this one.

It didn't disappoint. Goldberg claims to have had an awakening about the state of Black families. And you'll never guess how he got there...really, you'll never guess.
The thought came to me when a friend pointed me to a column by the Washington Post's Courtland Milloy about how blacks are fleeing baseball at an alarming rate. Today only 8% of the baseball players are black. In 1959, black participation was m…

What do the 3 states with the highest voter turnout rate have in common?

According to one report, turnout in this election was 57.5% of eligible voters. Pardon me while I wallow in some bragging rights because - once again - my home state of Minnesota was number one in that category with a whopping 76% turnout. Sure, we had some important constitutional amendments (marriage equality and voter ID) on the ballot this time that likely boosted things a bit. But the truth is, we've been number one in voter turnout in the last 8 elections.

Joining Minnesota at the top of the list over time are Maine and Wisconsin. So it would be helpful to ask what these 3 states have in common. Some of us might suggest that its the fortitude developed by the citizenry in general as a result of surviving life in the northern tundra ;-) But really, there is a more simple explanation.

These are the 3 states that first adopted same-day voter registration. In other words, we can register at the polls on the same day we go there to vote. Since then, 8 other states have joined us …

No Commentary Required 11/19/12

Here are some of the stories that caught my eye today:

We've been hearing a lot about the fact that many Republican governors are not going to implement the health care exchanges included in Obamacare. Of course, what that means is that the federal government will do it for them.

If you're interested in seeing a breakdown of what states have decided on this one, Kaiser has a map along with all kinds of interesting information on the state of Obamacare implementation. Click on your state to see what's up.

*****
Yesterday I wrote about the role that geography plays in the polarization of our politics. Here's an interesting article about how that looks in Wyoming - the state where Romney got his second largest lead (after Utah).
...if diversity is the future of American politics, conservatives in places like Wyoming, the least populous state, where 86 percent of residents are white, fear they may be sliding into the past.

Republican explanations for Mitt Romney’s loss — t…

David Simon on "The Death of Normal"

I'll always want to listen when David Simon - creator of HBO's The Wire - speaks. But I especially appreciated his take on the meaning of this election.
...the country is changing. And this may be the last election in which anyone but a fool tries to play — on a national level, at least — the cards of racial exclusion, of immigrant fear, of the patronization of women and hegemony over their bodies, of self-righteous discrimination against homosexuals...

America will soon belong to the men and women — white and black and Latino and Asian, Christian and Jew and Muslim and atheist, gay and straight — who can walk into a room and accept with real comfort the sensation that they are in a world of certain difference, that there are no real majorities, only pluralities and coalitions. The America in which it was otherwise is dying, thank god, and those who relied on entitlement and division to command power will either be obliged to accept the changes, or retreat to the gated communi…

Its not just demography...its geography

I suspect that - other than on the right wing fringes - not enough has been made of the fact that Barack Obama is our first modern-day urban President. That part tends to get overshadowed by the fact that he is also our first African-American President. But it should surprise no one that the two tend to go together.

Much has also been made of the demographic polarization we've seen in the last two presidential elections. But just like the President we elected, that polarization is married to a geographic divide.

I've been trying to pay attention to the few people who are writing about that particular divide. Karen Cox did so in her discussion about the stereotypes we perpetuate about the South.
Voters in Charlotte, N.C., Atlanta, Nashville, New Orleans, Birmingham, Ala., and even Jackson, Miss., gave Mr. Obama substantial majorities, not because they are out of step with the rest of the country but because they are part of the same urban-rural divide that drives voting everywh…

It's not just McCain - someone on the left is feeding the frenzy about Susan Rice

We can all laugh at what a fool Sen. McCain is making of himself with his attacks on Susan Rice. But it looks to me like there are some on the left who would like to feed the flames.

It started with Dana Milbank's column about her. And now today, Maureen Dowd takes a pretty ugly slap as well.

While Republicans are in the process of self-destructing, we don't need this kind of shit on our side. Whoever is doing it and whatever their motives - folks like this should be quietly shown the door.

Desperately Seeking Scandal

This week Paul Waldman hit the sweet spot when he pointed out the motivation behind the non-story on Benghazi...scandal envy.
So what's going on here? I can sum it up in two words: scandal envy. Republicans are indescribably frustrated by the fact that Barack Obama, whom they regard as both illegitimate and corrupt, went through an entire term without a major scandal. They tried with "Fast and Furious," but that turned out to be small potatoes. They tried with Solyndra, but that didn't produce the criminality they hoped for either. Obama even managed to dole out three-quarters of a trillion dollars in stimulus money without any graft or double-dealing to be found. Nixon had Watergate, Reagan had Iran-Contra, Clinton had Lewinsky, and Barack Obama has gotten off scott-free. This is making them absolutely livid, and they're going to keep trying to gin up a scandal, even if there's no there there. Benghazi may not be an actual scandal, but it's all they have…

Musical bookends for Obama's trip to Myanmar

Today President Obama begins a foreign trip that will include a stop in Myanmar. He will be the first American President to ever visit that country.

As is her wont, last night Rachel Maddow dug up a detail about the U.S. State Department's efforts in that country. Apparently back in 2009, they sent musical ambassadors to Myamnar - the first time an American group had ever toured the country. And after President Obama's trip - a second musical ambassador is on deck to go as well.

I will admit that I'm an out-of-it old lady when it comes to todays music. But the two performers who are working with the State Department on this are one's that happen to be favorites of mine. And so the whole story caught my attention. Here's why.

The group that toured Myanmar back in 2009 was Ozomatli. I wish there was a better video of this song. But just close your eyes and enjoy.



Following President Obama's visit, Jason Mraz is scheduled to tour there.



My heart bursts with pride …

Photo of the Day: It's Mutual

Another angle on the hug seen round the world.
More about the photo at Slate.

Pelosi nailed it!

When I saw this tweet posted at The Maddow Blog this morning, my first thought was that Speaker Pelosi nailed it.

Since I hadn't seen the show that inspired the tweet, I decided to watch the video to check it out. It was worth every minute!


Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Role Reversal

Years ago I watched a Mayoral race unfold in my town. On the liberal side we had a progressive champion who served as a state congressman. I loved his policies. But he exuded the stereotype of the absent-minded professor. I remember serving on a citizen's committee with him. He would always arrive late, shirt and tie disheveled, hair uncombed, with an armful of folders full of papers that were haphazardly arranged. I would look at him and wonder if he could manage his way out of a paper bag.

The conservative candidate was anathema to me in terms of policies. Personally, he was a slimeball. But he was an excellent manager and knew how to get shit done. And of course, he knew how to smile pretty at the cameras and tell people what they wanted to hear. So of course, he won. I'm not giving out any names here, but its the very same guy who went on to be a Senator and was defeated after one term by the great Al Franken ;-)

That particular race embodies how the divide between liberal…