12/17/2010 archive

The White House and OFA: Hippie Punching for Dummies

This video was made by a former OFA volunteer out of frustration with OFA and the White House. The White House and OFA have been corralling support for the status quo that exacerbated the current economic crisis not to affect real change.

President Obama’s capitulation on the two year extension of the Bush tax cuts, the estate tax deal and cutting Social Security contributions that was made behind closed doors, has been more than enough for another OFA campaign aide, Sam Graham-Felsen, a media consultant and freelance writer who organized the grassroots strategy as chief blogger for the Obama campaign. In a Washington Post Op-Ed, he argues that it isn’t just the left that President Obama has left out but his most valued asset, the very people who put him in office:

“Obama [has] a vast network of supporters, instantly reachable through an unprecedented e-mail list of 13 million people. These supporters were not just left-wing activists but a broad coalition that included the young, African Americans, independents and even Republicans-and they were ready to be mobilized…Yet at seemingly every turn, Obama has chosen to play an inside game. Instead of actively engaging supporters in major legislative battles, Obama has told them to sit tight as he makes compromises behind closed doors.”

The problem is that President Obama has not only capitulated on everything from Health Care and Financial Regulation to this latest “craptacular bipartisan capitulation” as msblucow, the creator of the video so aptly states, but that the President has embraced the “politics as usual” which he campaigned to change because it’s easier. What Obama did with this tax bill is not a win for him or the American people. He did not “work with Republicans” he caved to their demands and he did it behind the backs of the Democrats. Not exactly the way to get re-elected.

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”.

Robert Reich: The New Tax Deal: Reaganomics Redux

More than thirty years ago, Ronald Reagan came to Washington intent on reducing taxes on the wealthy and shrinking every aspect of government except defense.

The new tax deal embodies the essence of Reaganomics.

It will not stimulate the economy.

A disproportionate share of the $858 billion deal will go to people in the top 1 percent who spend only a fraction of what they earn and save the rest. Their savings are sent around the world to wherever they will earn the highest return.

The only practical effect of adding $858 billion to the deficit will be to put more pressure on Democrats to reduce non-defense spending of all sorts, including Social Security and Medicare, as well as education and infrastructure.

It is nothing short of Ronald Reagan’s (and David Stockman’s) notorious “starve the beast” strategy.

In 2012, an election year, when congressional Democrats have less power than they do now, the pressure to extend the Bush tax cuts further will be overwhelming.

Worse yet, the deal adds to the underlying structural problem that caused the Great Recession in the first place.

Paul Krugman: Wall Street Whitewash

When the financial crisis struck, many people – myself included – considered it a teachable moment. Above all, we expected the crisis to remind everyone why banks need to be effectively regulated.

How naïve we were. We should have realized that the modern Republican Party is utterly dedicated to the Reaganite slogan that government is always the problem, never the solution. And, therefore, we should have realized that party loyalists, confronted with facts that don’t fit the slogan, would adjust the facts.

Which brings me to the case of the collapsing crisis commission.

The bipartisan Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission was established by law to “examine the causes, domestic and global, of the current financial and economic crisis in the United States.” The hope was that it would be a modern version of the Pecora investigation of the 1930s, which documented Wall Street abuses and helped pave the way for financial reform.

Instead, however, the commission has broken down along partisan lines, unable to agree on even the most basic points.

Eugene Robinson: In Afghanistan, on track to nowhere

The good news is that President Obama’s strategy in Afghanistan is “on track.” The bad news is that the track runs in a circle.

There have been “notable operational gains” in the fight against al-Qaeda and the Taliban, according to a National Security Council-led assessment released Thursday, but this progress is “fragile and reversible.” This sounds like a bureaucratic way of admitting that we take two steps forward, followed by two steps back. Indeed, the review acknowledges that after nine years of war, “Pakistan and Afghanistan continue to be the operational base for the group that attacked us on 9/11.”

What’s not reversible is the human toll of Obama’s decision to escalate the war. This has been by far the deadliest year for U.S. forces in Afghanistan, with 489 killed. It has also been a brutal year for Afghan and Pakistani civilians caught in the middle of what increasingly looks like a classic war of attrition – except with missile-firing robot aircraft circling overhead.

Where Is The Great Writ For Brad Manning?

Julian Assange is the big media story, but the unsung hero, the person suffering the most is probably Brad Manning.  Unfortunately, while Manning suffers in solitary confinement, as he has for the past 7 months, and we scour the leaked material for which he might be responsible, the subject of Manning’s torturous, stringent, long term confinement are noted with horror and contempt, but is anything being done to challenge them?  Put another way, where is the Great Writ, the writ of habeas corpus, for Brad Manning?

On This Day in History: December 17

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.

December 17 is the 351st day of the year (352nd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 14 days remaining until the end of the year

On this day on 1865, the first two movements of Franz Schubert’s “Unfinished Symphony”, Symphony No. 8 in B minor, is performed in Vienna, Austria.

(The symphony) was started in 1822 but left with only two movements known to be complete, even though Schubert would live for another six years. A scherzo, nearly completed in piano score but with only two pages orchestrated, also survives. It has long been theorized that Schubert may have sketched a finale which instead became the big B minor entr’acte from his incidental music to Rosamunde, but all the evidence for this is circumstantial.[1] One possible reason for Schubert’s leaving the symphony incomplete is the predominance of the same meter (three-in-a-bar). The first movement is in 3/4, the second in 3/8 and the third (an incomplete scherzo) also in 3/4. Three consecutive movements in exactly the same meter rarely occur in the symphonies, sonatas or chamber works of the great Viennese composers (one notable exception being Haydn’s Farewell Symphony).

Morning Shinbun Friday December 17

Friday’s Headlines:

Is Twitter really worth $3.7bn?


Congress passes extension of Bush-era tax cuts

Wealth gap becomes chasm at Christmas


Tuberculosis thriving in ‘Victorian’ London, says expert

Ireland’s abortion law ‘violated woman’s rights’

Middle East

Tehran downplays Arab Wiki-dness


WikiLeaks cables: India accused of systematic use of torture in Kashmir

Australian asylum debate intensifies as Gillard feels pressure


Let there be justice, says Kenyan press

Troops kill Ouattara loyalists

Latin America

Haiti cholera death toll starts to rise again

Japan defence review warns of China’s military might

Japan has unveiled sweeping changes to its national defence polices, boosting its southern forces in response to neighbouring China’s military rise.

The BBC 17 December 2010  

Japan, which shares a maritime border with China, said Beijing’s military build-up was of global concern.

Japan will also strengthen its missile defences against the threat from a nuclear-armed North Korea.

The policy document has been approved by the cabinet and will shape Japan’s defence policy for the next 10 years.

Japan is changing its defence policy in response to the shifting balance of power in Asia, analysts say.

Prime Time

A Charlie Brown Christmas (the classic).  Not so many premiers.  Larry King’s last show.


Dave hosts Matt Damon and Florence & the Machine.  Jon has Mike Huckabee, Stephen Amy Sedaris and Paul Simon (next week repeats, pre-empted between ek’s mas and New Year’s).  Stephen used to work with Amy on Strangers with Candy.  Conan hosts Marky Mark Wahlberg, Charles Phoenix, and Jenny and Johnny.

Zap2it TV Listings, Yahoo TV Listings