Daily Archive: 11/09/2012

Nov 09 2012

CIA Director Resigns

The Director to the CIA, General (ret.) David Petraeus has resigned as Director of the CIA citing an extramarital affair. He tendered his letter of resignation to President Barack Obama this afternoon. Pres. Obama has “graciously” accepted his resignation. MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell broke the story.

   HEADQUARTERS Central Intelligence Agency

   9 November 2012

   Yesterday afternoon, I went to the White House and asked the President to be allowed, for personal reasons, to resign from my position as D/CIA.  After being married for over 37 years, I showed extremely poor judgment by engaging in an extramarital affair.  Such behavior is unacceptable, both as a husband and as the leader of an organization such as ours.  This afternoon, the President graciously accepted my resignation.

   As I depart Langley, I want you to know that it has been the greatest of privileges to have served with you, the officers of our Nation’s Silent Service, a work force that is truly exceptional in every regard.  Indeed, you did extraordinary work on a host of critical missions during my time as director, and I am deeply grateful to you for that.

   Teddy Roosevelt once observed that life’s greatest gift is the opportunity to work hard at work worth doing.  I will always treasure my opportunity to have done that with you and I will always regret the circumstances that brought that work with you to an end.

   Thank you for your extraordinary service to our country, and best wishes for continued success in the important endeavors that lie ahead for our country and our Agency.

   With admiration and appreciation,

   David H. Petraeus

There will be a lot of speculation that Gen. Petraeus’ departure was motivated by the Benghazi incident and the his private affair is an excuse to cover that. The reality is anything that can be used to “blackmail” someone in a high security position is a huge problem. I never thought the general was a good choice to run the Agency for many reasons, not the least was his Pentagon ties and the joint police and CIA operations in New York City spying on the Muslim community and #OWS participants.

Nov 09 2012

Punting the Pundits

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

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

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Paul Krugman: Let’s Not Make a Deal

To say the obvious: Democrats won an amazing victory. Not only did they hold the White House despite a still-troubled economy, in a year when their Senate majority was supposed to be doomed, they actually added seats. [..]

But one goal eluded the victors. Even though preliminary estimates suggest that Democrats received somewhat more votes than Republicans in Congressional elections, the G.O.P. retains solid control of the House thanks to extreme gerrymandering by courts and Republican-controlled state governments. And Representative John Boehner, the speaker of the House, wasted no time in declaring that his party remains as intransigent as ever, utterly opposed to any rise in tax rates even as it whines about the size of the deficit.

So President Obama has to make a decision, almost immediately, about how to deal with continuing Republican obstruction. How far should he go in accommodating the G.O.P.’s demands?

Richard (RJ) Eskow: Voters Didn’t Ask for Bi-Partisanship, They Demanded Good Policies

After the Election, a New Mandate — and New ‘Fiscal Cliff’ Math

President Obama was reportedly planning to reach out to House Majority Leader John Boehner today to begin negotiating a deal to avoid the so-called “fiscal cliff,” a series of spending cuts and tax hikes scheduled take effect unless Congress rescinds the law that created it.

President Obama was reportedly planning to reach out to House Majority Leader John Boehner today to begin negotiating a deal to avoid the so-called “fiscal cliff,” a series of spending cuts and tax hikes scheduled take effect unless Congress rescinds the law that created it. [..]

But Boehner isn’t holding the cards in this situation. The president is. All the numbers say so — in the election results, the polling data, and even in the stock market, if you read it correctly.

Robert Kuttner: Hey, Obama, Hands Off Their Medicare

Striking a deal with Republicans to cut entitlements would be a disastrous start to the president’s second term.

The day after Barack Obama was re-elected, the Dow Jones lost 312.96 points. It wasn’t just that investors were hoping for the lower taxes and further deregulation that would come with a Romney win. The news from Europe was bad, and pundits were obsessively focused on the “fiscal cliff” of mandatory budget cuts that will drive the economy into a new recession unless Congress jumps off its own budgetary cliff first.

For once, the markets are right. But the news from Europe entirely contradicts conventional assumptions about the fiscal cliff.

Greece, which has dutifully cut its budget as demanded by the leaders of the European Union and the European Central bank, is deeper in depression than ever. The latest reports show its economy has shrunk by more than 20 percent over four years, and that the more that it cuts its deficit, the more its national debt grows.

Dean Baker: Climate Change, Not the National Debt, Is the Legacy We Should Care About

Worry about the grandchildren? Then stop global warming, but don’t pretend deficit reduction by slashing pensions is for them

The political leadership, including the Washington press corps and punditry, were already intently ignoring the economic downturn that is still wreaking havoc on the lives of tens of millions of people across the country. Now, in the wake of the destruction from Hurricane Sandy, they will intensify their efforts to ignore global warming. After all, they want the country to focus on the debt – an issue that no one other than the elites views as a problem.

The reality, of course, is straightforward. The large deficits of recent years are due to the economic downturn caused by the collapse of the housing bubble. If the economy were back near its pre-recession level of unemployment, then the deficits would be close to 1% of GDP, a level that could be sustained indefinitely.

Alfred W. McCoy: Beyond Bayonets and Battleships

It’s 2025 and an American “triple canopy” of advanced surveillance and armed drones fills the heavens from the lower- to the exo-atmosphere.  A wonder of the modern age, it can deliver its weaponry anywhere on the planet with staggering speed, knock out an enemy’s satellite communications system, or follow individuals biometrically for great distances.  Along with the country’s advanced cyberwar capacity,  it’s also the most sophisticated militarized information system ever created and an insurance policy for U.S. global dominion deep into the twenty-first century.  It’s the future as the Pentagon imagines it; it’s under development; and Americans know nothing about it. [..]

Amid all the post-debate media chatter, however, not a single commentator seemed to have a clue when it came to the profound strategic changes encoded in the president’s sparse words. Yet for the past four years, working in silence and secrecy, the Obama administration has presided over a technological revolution in defense planning, moving the nation far beyond bayonets and battleships to cyberwarfare and the full-scale weaponization of space. In the face of waning economic influence, this bold new breakthrough in what’s called “information warfare” may prove significantly responsible should U.S. global dominion somehow continue far into the twenty-first century.

Ben Adler: Conservatives Understand the GOP’s Problem but Not Its Solution

In the wake of President Obama’s decisive re-election victory on Tuesday, the more intellectually serious members of the conservative commentariat are in post-mortem mode. They are asking what went wrong and how they can avoid a third consecutive loss in 2016. Unfortunately for them, they display only a limited understanding of the Republican Party’s problem, and virtually no understanding of its underlying cause or its solution. [..]

The primary impulse among conservative pundits seems to be blaming the poor quality of their candidates. For those who are on the insurgent right, such as Red State’s Erick Erickson, that means complaining about Mitt Romney but not the extremist ideologues who lost winnable Senate races, such as Todd Akin in Missouri and Richard Mourdock in Indiana. For Beltway insiders, such as The Weekly Standard’s Fred Barnes and the Daily Caller’s Tucker Carlson, that means complaining about Senate candidates and Romney’s clownish opponents in the Republican primaries.

Nov 09 2012

On This Day In History November 9

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

November 9 is the 313th day of the year (314th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 52 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1872, fire rips through Boston. The Great Boston Fire was Boston’s largest urban fire and still one of the most costly fire-related property losses in American history. The conflagration began at 7:20 p.m. on November 9, 1872, in the basement of a commercial warehouse at 83-87 Summer Street in Boston, Massachusetts. The fire was finally contained twelve hours later, after it had consumed about 65 acres of Boston’s downtown, 776 buildings, and much of the financial district and caused $73.5 million in damage. At least twenty people are known to have died in the fire.

In the aftermath, the city established an entirely new system of firefighting and prevention. The fire also led to the creation of Boston’s financial district.

The fire began in the basement of a warehouse at the corner of Kingston and Summer streets. At the time, this area of the city contained a mix of residences and light industry. Its buildings and most area roofs were made mainly of wood, allowing the blaze to spread quickly as the wind blew red hot embers from rooftop to rooftop. In addition, as Boston streets were narrow, large flames from one structure could literally leap across them to nearby buildings.

Firefighting units from Maine to New Haven, Connecticut, arrived to help, but efforts to fight the fire were plagued by difficulties. There was not enough water on hand to get the fire under control; the hydrant system did not work well because much of the equipment was not standardized; and even when firefighters got their hands on an adequate supply of water, the height of the buildings and the narrowness of the streets made it difficult to direct the water at the blaze from the optimum angle. Because a local equine epidemic had struck the city fire department’s horses, it was difficult to get the fire engines to the correct locations at the right times. In addition, some of the efforts were counter-productive. Explosions were used to attempt fire breaks, but this high-risk strategy was not executed with enough precision and served only to further spread the fire.

The fire was finally stopped at the doors of Fanueil Hall the following morning, but it had already destroyed much of the downtown area. Boston’s officials realized that their fire-prevention efforts had been ineffective and, in the aftermath of the disaster, began to revise and strengthen all of the city’s fire laws and regulations. An inspection system was instituted and the local fire departments began to coordinate their efforts.

Nov 09 2012

Dear Mr. President, Social Security and Medicare are Not Grand Bargaining Chips

Yes, the grand bargain is coming up before the deadline by December 31st, 2012.

Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid will be on the chopping block like it was last time. This is not a conspiracy theory, and it comes from solid sources involved in all of the deliberations if you read the source material provided. Sure, some can pretend it is CT. They can even cry it out loud from the rooftops while closing their eyes and plugging their ears, but the reality based community is all talking about this because this is confirmed reality, and the prospects are real like they were last time.

It’s really up to those that would deny this confirmed reality to prove the actual sources in the Senate are all liars in the WaPo peice. Either that or they have heads their heads in the sand for all of 2011 and this is just too much of a downer to acknowledge but it’s time to grow up. These are facts. Denying the factual historical record in 2011 disqualifies anyone writing about these matters at all. Yes, when the entirely self induced entirely avoidable fake fiscal cliff was made real through the stop go that was passed to raise the debt ceiling in Aug 5, 2011 it set this whole pathetic fiscal cliff debacle coming up.

Rick Pearlstein: Author of Nixonland details the Grand Bargain coming up as well.

America didn’t vote for a “grand bargain”

I heard Dick Durbin, the Illinois senator who is close to Obama, on the radio the next morning boasting that he was one of the Democrats on the Simpson-Bowles Commission to vote for its recommendations – recommendations that included, in addition to changes in the tax code meant to increase revenue (while also cutting tax rates), diminishing eligibility and benefits for Medicare and Social Security. Though the commission failed to reach consensus, making its proposals moot, it was aiming at just the sort of “grand bargain” that Obama has consistently and quietly spoken about as his sort of beau ideal for what a successful presidency would look like. Durbin went on to say he hoped a grand bargain might be wrapped up in the next calendar year, before congressmen and senators became preoccupied with reelection.

Nov 09 2012

“Truthiness”

Four More Years of Hopey Change

Even though Barack Obama lost in spacious red states, he is reelected due to a technicality called the Constitution.