Daily Archive: 01/03/2013

Jan 03 2013

The Next Mythical Cliff: The Debt Ceiling

The sequel to the the Bush/Obama tax debacle  is the unconstitutional debt ceiling. According to the 14th Amendment, the US has to pay its bills, even if the government has to borrow the money through bond sales. So the debt ceiling is another manufactured “cliff” that was created to curb spending which it didn’t, obviously, or we wounded be having another media side show staring the White House and the Congressional leadership. So get comfy and grab you favorite munchies as we watch the 99% get raked over the coals.

President Obama:

Obama Debt Ceiling Statement: Limit Increase Not Up For Debate After Fiscal Cliff Showdown

from Reuters

“While I will negotiate over many things, I will not have another debate with this Congress about whether or not they should pay the bills they have already racked up,” Obama said in remarks in the White House.

McConnell: Spending fight coming whether Obama ‘wants it or not’

by Alicia M. Cohn, The Hill

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY):

President Obama will get a fight over government spending with a hike to the debt limit “whether he wants it or not,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) wrote Thursday.

In an op-ed for Yahoo, McConnell wrote that Republicans would focus on reducing spending in the next Congress, and in conjunction with the debate over raising the $16.4 trillion debt ceiling. Congress will likely need to take action on the debt limit within the next two months.

“The president may not want to have a fight about government spending over the next few months, but it’s the fight he is going to have, because it’s a debate the country needs,” McConnell warned.

Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH)

Boehner tells GOP he’s through negotiating one-on-one with Obama

by Russel Berman, The Hill

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) is signaling that at least one thing will change about his leadership during the 113th Congress: he’s telling Republicans he is done with private, one-on-one negotiations with President Obama.

and just to prove that the 113th Congress will bear little difference to the 112th

Let the games begin: Thunderdome

Jan 03 2013

Flip the Bird But Don’t Point

Sometimes more reasonable adults need to be in charge.

Flipping Off Police Officers Constitutional, Federal Court Affirms

by Ryan J. Reilly

WASHINGTON — A police officer can’t pull you over and arrest you just because you gave him the finger, a federal appeals court declared Thursday.

In a 14-page opinion, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit ruled (pdf) that the “ancient gesture of insult is not the basis for a reasonable suspicion of a traffic violation or impending criminal activity.”

Now if we only had them in schools

Terror Tots III: Maryland Student Suspended For Use Of Finger Gun

by Jonathan Turley

We have previously seen absurd examples of disciplinary actions taken under zero tolerance rules for drugs and guns (here and here and here). This includes cases involving kids using finger guns (here). Now Roscoe R. Nix Elementary School in Montgomery County has joined these ranks by suspending a six-year-old boy for making a finger gun with his hand and saying “Pow.”

OK? Or Overkill?

Jan 03 2013

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”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

New York Times Editorial: Hurricane Sandy Aid

There is a lot of finger-pointing in Washington about who is responsible for the mess made of the so-called fiscal-cliff negotiations, but there is no doubt about who failed thousands of residents and businesses devastated by Hurricane Sandy and still waiting for help: Speaker John Boehner.

That’s not just our view. Ask Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey and Representative Peter King of New York, both dedicated Republican soldiers. Mr. Christie said there was “only one group to blame” for the money being delayed six times longer than relief for Hurricane Katrina: the Republican majority and Mr. Boehner personally. [..]

It has been more than 66 days since Hurricane Sandy slammed into New York and New Jersey killing more than 130 people and causing an estimated $82 billion in damage. Within 10 days after Hurricane Katrina flooded the Gulf Coast in 2005, Washington agreed on more than $60 billion in aid with more to come.

Gail Collins: Looking Forward

Right now you are probably asking yourself: Will the new Congress being sworn in this week work any better than the last one? [..]

On the very last day the Republican-led House of Representatives was in session, the Republican governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie, announced it was “why the American people hate Congress.” This was after Speaker John Boehner failed to bring up a bill providing aid to the victims of the megastorm Sandy. Disaster relief joined a long list of bills that the 112th Congress could not get its act together to approve, along with reforming the farm subsidies and rescuing the Postal Service. Those particular pieces of legislation were all written and passed by the Senate, a group that’s generally less proactive than a mummy.

Ah, the House. To be fair, it takes a lot of effort to vote to repeal Obamacare 33 times.

Eugene Robinson: An Urgent Resolution for 2013

Guns do kill people. Our national New Year’s resolution must be to stop the madness.

It is shameful that gun control only becomes worthy of public debate following an unspeakable massacre such as Newtown-and even more shameful that these mass killings occur so often. What usually happens is that we spend a few weeks pretending to have a “conversation” about guns, then the horror begins to fade and we turn to other issues. Everything goes back to normal.

“Normal,” however, is tragically unacceptable. In 2010, guns took the lives of 31,076 Americans. Most of the deaths were suicides; a few were accidental. About a third of them-11,078-were homicides. That’s almost twice the number of Americans who have been killed in a decade of war in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Mary Bottari: It Ain’t Over Till It’s Over: Wall Street Gears Up for Austerity Battles of 2013

For better or worse, a bill passed Congress in the wee hours of 2013 averting the much-hyped “fiscal cliff” for now and raising taxes on couples making over $450,000 and extending a lifeline of unemployment benefits to 2 million Americans.

But the vote is not so much an ending as a beginning to the austerity battles of 2013.

As the economy continues to stagger, the search for a “grand bargain” on taxes and critical social programs is likely to roll from fiscal cliff to debt ceiling negotiations into the annual budget battles. While some feel that a “grand bargain” is less likely than “death by 1,000 cuts,” the ongoing debate will continue to pose serious risks for average Americans who will need to stay engaged.

Those who benefit the most from the status quo are gearing up for a battle royale and are hoping for a helping hand from President Obama’s pick for U.S. Treasury Secretary.

Charles M. Blow: Cliff After Cliff

We have a deal. But please hold your applause, indefinitely.

We momentarily went over the fiscal cliff but clawed our way back up the rock face. Unfortunately, we are most likely in store for a never-ending series of cliffs for our economy, our government and indeed our country. Soon we’ll have to deal with the sequester, a debt-ceiling extension and possibly a budget, all of which hold the specter of revisiting the unresolvable conflicts and intransigence of the fiscal cliff. Imagine an M. C. Escher drawing of cliffs.

Be clear: there is no reason to celebrate. This is a mournful moment. We – and by we I mean Congress, and by Congress I mean the Republicans in Congress – have again demonstrated just how broken and paralyzed our government has become, how beholden to hostage-takers, how vulnerable to extremism.

Robert Reich: The Ongoing War: After the Battle Over the Cliff, the Battle Over the Debt Ceiling

“It’s not all I would have liked,” says Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, speaking of the deal on the fiscal cliff, “so on to the debt ceiling.”

The battle over the fiscal cliff was only a prelude to the coming battle over raising the debt ceiling — a battle that will likely continue through early March, when the Treasury runs out of tricks to avoid a default on the nation’s debt.

The White House’s and Democrats’ single biggest failure in the cliff negotiations was not getting Republicans’ agreement to raise the debt ceiling.

The last time the debt ceiling had to be raised, in 2011, Republicans demanded major cuts in programs for the poor as well as Medicare and Social Security.

They got some concessions from the White House but didn’t get what they wanted — which led us to the fiscal cliff.

So we’ve come full circle.

Jan 03 2013

On This Day In History January 3

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.

January 3 is the third day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. There are 362 days remaining until the end of the year (363 in leap years). The Perihelion, the point in the year when the Earth is closest to the Sun, occurs around this date.

On this day in 1938, The March of Dimes is established by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

March of Dimes is an American health charity whose mission is to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth, and infant mortality.

Polio was one of the most dreaded illnesses of the 20th century, and killed or paralyzed thousands of Americans during the first half of the 20th century. In response, President Franklin D. Roosevelt founded the March of Dimes as the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis on January 3, 1938. Roosevelt himself was paralyzed with what at the time was believed to be polio, though recent examination has led some to suggest that this diagnosis might have been mistaken. The original purpose of the Foundation was to raise money for polio research and to care for those afflicted with the disease. The name emphasized the national, nonpartisan, and public nature of the new organization, as opposed to private foundations established by wealthy families. The effort began with a radio appeal, asking everyone in the nation to contribute a dime (ten cents) to fight polio.

“March of Dimes” was originally the name of the annual fundraising event held in January by the Foundation. The name “March of Dimes” for the fundraising campaign was coined by entertainer Eddie Cantor as a play on the popular newsreel feature of the day, The March of Time. Along with Cantor, many prominent Hollywood, Broadway, radio, and television stars served as promoters of the charity. When Roosevelt died in office in 1945, he was commemorated by placing his portrait on the dime. Coincidentally, this was the only coin in wide circulation which had a purely allegorical figure (Liberty) on the obverse. To put Roosevelt on any other coin would have required displacing a president or founding father.

Over the years, the name “March of Dimes” became synonymous with that of the charity and was officially adopted in 1979.

Jan 03 2013

Time Warner Cable Blocks Current TV

Shorty after 8 PM EST, I was watching Current TV‘s “Viewpoint” with Eliot Spitzer when the feed was abruptly terminated and this message appeared on the screen

TWC Currrent TV

This channel is no longer available on Time Warner Cable.

Visit

www.TWCConversations.com

to find other sources for similar

programming

I was aware of the news that CurrentTV had been sold to Al jazeera and was under the impression that the current programming would continue for another three months. When the feed stopped, I went to Twitter and found these posts by Ryan Grim

There was brief mention in the Forbes article that TWC had not approved the deal and would drop “drop Current from its menu going forward. TWC’s 12 million  9 million households represent 20%  15% of Current’s total reach.”

But WOW in the middle of a broadcast at 8 PM..

Up Date 21:18 EST: This explains a lot, from Current TV CEO Joel Hyatt’s memo:

  ” Getting this transaction done was very difficult.  One of Current’s distributors, Time Warner Cable, did not consent to the sale to Al Jazeera.  Consequently, Current will no longer be carried on TWC.  This is unfortunate, but I am confident that Al Jazeera America will earn significant additional carriage in the months and years ahead.  In the United Kingdom, it has become the number three news network (behind the BBC and Sky News).  It did that by investing in great programming – as it intends to do in the United States.”

h/t Just Bob

Jan 03 2013

The Colbert Report: A Year In Review Part 1

January

February

March

April

May

June

Jan 03 2013

Congressional Game of Chicken: Round 2 of the Road to Austerity

Last night the House of Representatives voted to make permanent the Bush/Obama tax cuts on all but the top 1% of tax payers and increasing taxes on on 77.1 percent of U.S. households, mostly because of the expiration of a payroll tax cut. With the bill set to be signed by Pres. Barack Obama, Congress and the White House move to the next manufactured crisis that this bill set up, the draconian sequester cuts to defense and non-defense spending and the debt ceiling, also a manufactured “crisis.” The bill did hold off those draconian cuts for two months, just in time for spending to hit the debt ceiling.

Pres. Obama made it clear in his address after the passage of the “Fiscal Cliff” bill, that he would not allow the debt ceiling to be used as a bargaining chip in negotiations over spending.

“I will not have another debate with this Congress over whether or not they should pay the bills that they’ve already racked up through the laws that they passed. We can’t not pay bills that we’ve already incurred.”

“If Congress refuses to give the United States government the ability to pay these bills on time, the consequences for the entire global economy would be catastrophic – far worse than the impact of a fiscal cliff.”

This bill was not the best deal as this article on the behind the scenes Senate dealings by Ryan Grym at Huffington Post tells it:

The White House sent Reid a list of suggested concessions as his staff debated what to send back to McConnell. Reid looked over the concessions the administration wanted to offer, crumpled up the paper and tossed it into his fireplace. The gesture was first reported by Politico and confirmed to HuffPost by sources with knowledge of it, who noted that Reid frequently keeps his fire going and is fond of feeding a variety of proposals to it.

Reid’s staff then called McConnell’s office with a simple message: Our last offer stands. There will be no further concessions. McConnell took to the Senate floor, complaining that he had no “dance partner” in Reid, and called Vice President Joe Biden, a man he assumed would be more willing to give. McConnell was right.

Perhaps the most important concession he wrangled from the administration, which Reid had been unwilling to make, was a two-month extension of the sequester, automatic cuts to defense spending and domestic programs that were supposed to be triggered Jan. 1. Reid wanted much more, worried that the two-month period will simply set up another colossal showdown that will also rope in the debt ceiling and funding for the government. “The deal itself is OK, but sets up Democrats for [a] worse fight and strengthens Republicans’ hand for what they really want: cuts,” said a Democratic source close to Reid. “Biden gave away the store on timeline. Two months and we’re back at this and in worse shape.”

President Barack Obama has vowed not to negotiate over the debt ceiling, but Democrats in the Senate are worried that they’ve now lost their leverage. “Everyone knew taxes would be raised on high earners,” said the Democratic source. “So with that out of the way, what do we bargain with?”

All they had to do was let the tax cuts end and pass new tax bill that included extension of unemployment benefits, ended unconstitutional the debt ceiling nonsense and added some stimulus to really create jobs, since we all know that tax cuts don’t. But no, Pres. Obama had to have this done and kept backing away from his so-called “line in the sand.”

If anyone believes at this point that Obama stand up to the threats of a government shut down by Republicans refusing to raise the debt ceiling without serious concessions on Medicare and Social Security, consider these three reasons to doubt from Jon Walker at FDL Action

1) Failure to stick to previous lines in the sand – In past negotiations Obama has failed to stick to his previous lines in the sand. Obama did not stick to his demand that the Bush tax cuts end for income over $250,000. Similarly despite saying he would not play games with the debt ceiling, Obama seemed to treat it as just another bargain chip when trying to get a deal with John Boehner.

2) Dismissing unilateral action – The Obama administration has dismissed unilateral action to address the debt ceiling. Doing something like invoking the 14th amendment would probably be the easiest way to defuse the fight, but the administration has declared that “not an option.” Even if the Obama team didn’t think it was a legally viable solution by completely removing the threat it has weakened its bargaining position.

3) Allowing the creation of a new super cliff in two months – When WP Joe Biden took over the negotiations from Sen. Harry Reid the major concession he made was to have only a two month delay of the sequestration cuts instead of a one year delay.

Meanwhile the “irrational exuberance” of Wall St’s feral children over the tax deal abounds with the markets closing on a high. Let’s see what happens in two months when we sit on the edge of another cliff.