10/09/2012 archive

2012 NL Division Series- Reds at Giants, Game 3

So the Giants at Great American Ball Park for the duration, down 2 and facing elimination.

I’m hard put to find a happy face for that, so how about a fight song from 2010 instead?

On the positive side, pitchers very rarely throw 2 No Hitters 2 weeks apart and if you’re a Chicago School Whitewater Economist you have your rattles and dances and expectations that the Giants’ offense will revert to the mean after under performing the first two games.

Also the Reds’ Homer Bailey (13 – 10, 3.68 ERA) is not as good on paper as the Giants’ counter Ryan Vogelsong (14 – 9, 3.37 ERA).  He’s good enough to win though he was better before the All-Star break than after.

And September 28th was so long ago.

Sen. Schumer Rejects Tax Reform Compromise

In a speech to the National Press Club, Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) rejected the current compromise for a bipartisan deficit reduction plan that would prevent the trigger of tax increases and automatic spending cuts that go into effect on January 1. He stated that the compromise could not bring in more revenue by lowering the top tax rate and still protect the middle class from tax increases:

Specifically, he’s publicly urging Democrats to abandon a tax reform model that calls for ending tax expenditures, many of which benefit middle income earners, in order to finance a large tax rate cut for wealthier people. It’s a framework that’s popular among economists, particularly conservative ones, but that a group of Democrats negotiating with Republicans to avert large tax increases and sharp spending cuts next year have also embraced.

Instead, he proposes targeting tax loopholes and deductions that benefit top earners and raising their top income tax rate, while simultaneously narrowing the tax code’s preference for capital gains by ratcheting up the capital gains rate from its current, historically low rate of 15 percent. Taken altogether it’s a call for significantly more revenue from high-income earners than Dems have sought by proposing to allow the Bush tax cuts for top earners to expire; and an attempt to strengthen Dems’ negotiating posture, lest they get lured into conceding another large income tax cut for the wealthy.

Sen. Schumer proposes to freeze the top two tax bracket, cut the loopholes and deductions that benefit the top earners and raise the capital gains tax.

David Dayen at FDL News Desk notes that this would be a “major blow” to the Simpson-Bowles plan that would see the tax rates reduced to 23% for the top earners.

So how would Schumer get the Republicans to sit down at the table? As David point out, simple by dangling “entitlement” reform:

But there’s a giant caveat to all of this, based on the excerpts (haven’t yet found the full speech):

  But he says that Republicans should be drawn to such a deal by the prospect of a bipartisan bargain that also includes changes to improve the sustainability of entitlement programs. Those programs – such as Social Security and Medicare – are expected to run substantial shortfalls in the future, adding dramatically to budget deficits.

   “The lure for Republicans to come to the table around a grand bargain should be the potential for serious entitlement reform, not the promise of a lower top rate in tax reform,” Mr. Schumer is expected to say, according to excerpts of his speech.

So Schumer wants to trade unworkable “tax reform” for deeply unpopular “entitlement reform.” That’s not really a great trade. It’s good to acknowledge that tax reform will never work the way its most passionate advocates suggest. But if that doesn’t exist as a “get” for Republicans in a grand bargain, and entitlement cuts are the substitute, we have a whole different problem.

While Schumer claims that the concession on “entitlement” reform would not include privatization or a voucher program,  Atrios noted the Republicans have no interest in “reform” of entitlements unless it includes privatization and tax cuts for the wealthy. In other words, the chances of getting anything done have greatly increased.

A List Of One

Obama Ad About Big Bird Cannot Find One Prominent Wall Street Criminal Prosecuted By Administration

By: David Dayen, Firedog Lake

Tuesday October 9, 2012 7:00 am

There’s only one thing that sticks out to me about this ad, though the casual viewer probably won’t notice it. Let’s look at that litany of Wall Street “criminals” and “gluttons of greed,” which later get juxtaposed with Big Bird. You have Bernie Madoff, Ken Lay and Dennis Kozlowski. So two CEOs prosecuted and convicted by George W. Bush’s Justice Department, and Madoff, whose son turned him in before Obama took office, in December 2008, and who pleaded guilty.

So the Obama campaign could not fill a list of three Wall Street criminals that the Obama Justice Department actually sent to jail. Heck, they couldn’t fill a list of one!

This is despite Eric Holder telling students at Columbia University in February of this year that his Justice Department’s record of success on fighting financial fraud crimes “has been nothing less than historic.” But not historic enough that his boss could point to, well, one Wall Street criminal behind bars as a result of DoJ’s actions.

That’s painfully telling. Nobody from Bank of America or Wells Fargo or Citigroup or JPMorgan Chase or Goldman Sachs or Bear Stearns or Morgan Stanley or Merrill Lynch or even Countrywide or Ameriquest was available to stand in as a “glutton of greed” in this advertisement. Literally no major figure responsible for the financial crisis has gone to jail. So the campaign has to use two CEOs from a decade-old accounting scandal, and a garden-variety Ponzi schemer. The financial crisis plays no role in this advertisement trying to juxtapose cuts to PBS with the financial crisis!

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: In Search of Answers From Mr. Romney

Mitt Romney mounted a big foreign policy display on a flag-draped stage at the Virginia Military Institute on Monday, serving up a lot of tough-sounding sound bites and hawkish bumper stickers, some of them even bumping up somewhere close to the truth, to give the appearance that he would be stronger and more forceful on international affairs than President Obama.

He seems to consider himself, ludicrously, a leader similar to the likes of Harry Truman and George Marshall, and, at one point, he obliquely questioned Mr. Obama’s patriotism. The hope seems to be that big propaganda, said loudly and often, will drown out Mr. Obama’s respectable record in world affairs, make Americans believe Mr. Romney would be the better leader and cover up the fact that there is mostly just hot air behind his pronouncements. [..]

Americans deserve an intensive, textured and honest discussion on foreign policy. They did not get it on Monday. Mr. Obama should respond, forcefully, to Mr. Romney on these issues, even before their next debate on Oct. 16, which will include issues of foreign affairs.

John Nichols: Bernie Sanders: Obama and Biden Need to Get Specific About Social Security

Even before his bumbling debate performance, Obama sent conflicting signals about Social Security. That’s troubling to Senator Bernie Sanders, the Vermont independent who has emerged as perhaps the most determined defender of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

Sanders supports Obama. He makes no bones about the fact that he thinks a Romney-Ryan administration would be a disaster for working Americans.

Yet, says Sanders, it is naïve to think that beating Romney and Ryan will settle things. After last week’s debate, the senator said of the president’s mixed signals on Social Security: “It was very distressing. It was very distressing not only because it is extremely bad public policy and will cause serious damage to a whole lot of vulnerable Americans. It was also bad because he’s going against what the vast majority of the American people want and it’s going to be very bad for his re-election effort.”

Sanders is concerned about the politics of the moment. He is also concerned about what happens after the election.

Michael A. Niman: Media Ignore Republican Disdain for Basic Human Rights

If we credit the Occupy movement for casting two numbers into our political lexicon, 99 percent and one percent, we’ve also got to credit Mitt Romney and the Republican Party for adding another number: 47 percent. It’s been three weeks since Mother Jones magazine validated and posted the now infamous covert recording of an uncharacteristically candid and honest Willard Mitt Romney, who, speaking with the authority of an occult numerologist, gave us the magic number 47. [..]

What few pundits paid much attention to was the remainder of Romney’s sentence attacking the so-called 47 percent, saying they “believe that they are entitled to healthcare, to food, to housing, to you-name-it.” Most editors chose to shorten the sentence, ignoring Willard Romney’s outrage that people, the 47 percent or anyone else, would believe that they are entitled, as in having a right, to healthcare, food, and housing. Think about the concept: a right to healthcare, food, and housing. We’re not talking the McMansions, foodie epicurism, or elite health retreats that Romney’s donors have come to expect as class entitlements. No. This was questioning a more basic assumption, asking where people come off thinking they have a right to healthcare, a place to live, and food to eat.

Jon Walker: Obama Campaign Makes Sure You Know Obama Plans to Cut Social Security

President Obama’s performance in the first debate has been widely criticized, particularly his answer to a question about Social Security. As a result, the campaign felt the need to put up a blog post clarifying Obama’s position on Social Security. While the campaign uses some very weaselly phrases to put the best possible spin on Obama’s position, they make it perfectly clear that Obama’s plan includes cutting Social Security benefits.

From the Obama campaign website:

   Both President Obama and Mitt Romney know that the program is solvent for more than two decades and that there’s a need for gradual reforms to the benefits that millions of seniors have worked for, paid for, and earned. […]

   The President knows that guaranteed Social Security benefits are not handouts, but a bedrock of the commitment to retirement security America makes to our seniors. He believes that no current beneficiaries should see their basic benefits reduced, and he will not accept any approach that slashes benefits for future generations.

Note that use of the world “slashes.” Obama promises not to reduce benefits for current seniors but promises only to not “slash” benefits for future generations. The only reason to make these two separate promises is if the phrasing mean two different things.

Eugene Robinson; Hearing an Echo on Foreign Policy

Mitt Romney claims to disagree with President Obama on many aspects of foreign policy. We’re still waiting to hear what those differences might be.

I wasn’t surprised that Romney’s highly touted Major Policy Speech on foreign affairs Monday offered few specifics. But even in its generalities, Romney’s tour d’horizon sounded very much like a speech Obama might have given recounting his overseas initiatives over the past four years. [..]

I’m not arguing that Obama’s foreign policy has been perfect. I can think of a number of situations I believe he should have handled differently. But I defy anyone who heard Romney’s speech to explain how he differs from Obama, practically or even philosophically.

To the extent there’s any distinction at all, it’s rhetorical. Romney seems to believe that speaking in a more belligerent tone somehow changes everything. The world is unlikely to be impressed.

Wendell Potter: Romney’s Phony Answers to Tough Health Care Questions

During last week’s debate, GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney once again pledged to repeal Obamacare, but he was light on details about what he would replace it with, other than to suggest that his administration would encourage states to come up with reform plans of their own.

“What we did in Massachusetts is a model for the nation, state by state,” he said. “And I said that at that time. The federal government taking over health care for the entire nation and whisking aside the 10th Amendment, which gives states the rights for these kinds of things, is not the course for America to have a stronger, more vibrant economy.”

But considering that the Massachusetts law was the model for Obamacare, what, other than replicating what Massachusetts did, are the states to do?

On This Day In History October 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.

September 9 is the 252nd day of the year (253rd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 113 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1776, Congress renames the nation “United States of America”.

On this day in 1776, the Continental Congress formally declares the name of the new nation to be the “United States” of America. This replaced the term “United Colonies,” which had been in general use.

In the Congressional declaration dated September 9, 1776, the delegates wrote, “That in all continental commissions, and other instruments, where, heretofore, the words ‘United Colonies’ have been used, the stile be altered for the future to the “United States.”

The Lee Resolution, also known as the resolution of independence, was an act of the Second Continental Congress declaring the United Colonies to be independent of the British Empire. First proposed on June 7, 1776, by Richard Henry Lee of Virginia, after receiving instructions from the Virginia Convention and its President, Edmund Pendleton  (in fact Lee used, almost verbatim, the language from the instructions in his resolution). Voting on the resolution was delayed for several weeks while support for independence was consolidated. On June 11, a Committee of Five  was appointed to prepare a document to explain the reasons for independence. The resolution was finally approved on July 2, 1776, and news of its adoption was published that evening in the Pennsylvania Evening Post and the next day in the Pennsylvania Gazette. The text of the document formally announcing this action, the United States Declaration of Independence, was approved on July 4.

Who Will Protect the Vulnerable?

Adapted from Docudharma

The Jewish philosopher Rabbi Hillel asked, “If I am not for myself, then who will be for me? And if I am only for myself, then what am I? And if not now, when?”

With our social safety net, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, under attack from the plutocrats who run our government, we need to ask all our representatives these questions.

Former Senator Alan Simpson (R-UT)

I get so damn sick and tired of listening to the little guy, the vulnerable, the veteran – I am a veteran, and the seniors and this and this and this and the meanwhile this country is headed for second-class status while everybody just babbles into the vapor.

I think we are sick and tired of hearing from Mr. Simpson.

In this excellent article at AMERICAblog, our friend Gaius Publius, offers not just an explanation of why he believes Obama will try cut Social Security but action we need to take:

Action opportunity

Folks, this is not over. The campaign still has about a month to run. Obama can take this issue off the table any time he want to. And if he doesn’t want to do that voluntarily, you can help him. How? Ask him point-blank:

   Are you planning any cuts to Social Security benefits? If so, which ones?

Or, if you want to go for more positive framing:

   Mr. Obama, you’ve said you want to strengthen Social Security. The electorate is solidly behind you but they’re nervous about cuts. To reassure the public and clarify your differences with Romney-Ryan, will you promise to veto any bill that contains any cuts whatsoever to Social Security benefits, no matter what else the bill contains?

Journalists, you can ask either question any time you like – you don’t need permission. The public would love to hear the answer from the candidate’s mouth. You have column inches and access; that and boldness is all you need.

Readers, you too can ask these questions – you don’t need permission either. Can you get into an Obama event? Then go. Bring your friends. (And your cell-phone cameras.) Help Obama not sink the Democratic Party. Help Obama re-clarify his own position. Help Obama race from waffling language like the plague – which he will certainly do if asked these questions often enough in public enough places. With cameras.

You can also urge your senator to sign Senator Sanders letter (pdf) swearing not to support any cuts to Social Security as part of a deficit reduction package (pdf). The letter has 29 signatures and needs 41. This action is also urgent.

Debate moderators, you too can ask these questions – though I don’t know whether the terms of your contract with the campaign-controlled debate commission requires you to get permission or not. It’s certainly true that just like Romney, Obama must also list the program cuts he would make – including cuts to Social Security. Before the election. [..]

And that’s not nothing. Guarding the progressive frontier; if you’re a progressive, that’s the job. Joe Sudbay did it by himself, and so can you. Always remember, you don’t need permission to act.

Who will protect the vulnerable? We will.

2012 AL Division Series- Yankees at Orioles, Game 2

For me watching Andy Pettitte is a deal with the Devil.  I really despise him and his buddy Steriod Boy.  Also he’s one of those over paid and over rated mercenaries that attach themselves to the Yankees like leeches so they can get famous and then leave at the first better offer only to come slinking back in the twilight of their career when they’re all washed up and no one else will have them.

Pettitte has spent almost all season on the disabled list and despite his carefully orchestrated come back is really a crap shoot.  Nobody knows how he will play or how long he will last.  His record this year is 5-4 with a 2.87 ERA.

Contrasting with the 40 year old (thanks to Roger’s Jungle Juice) veteran is rookie Wei-Yin Chen (12 – 11, 4.02 ERA).  He hasn’t performed well in his last starts, but he does better with longer rest and it’s been 6 days.  Showalter almost has to pitch him or he’ll get stale.

The Orioles find themselves in the same position as every other team that lost their first game at home (Cardinals, Giants, As).  They are in a “must win” situation or they will face elimination every game they play away.  Of that group only the Cardinals have (as I write) eliminated that advantage, we shall see how the Orioles fare.

Be careful in your deals with the devil.

Whatever Lola wants.  Lola gets.