Daily Archive: 12/04/2012

Dec 04 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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New York Times Editorial: The House Makes an ‘Offer’

Since last month’s election, Republican leaders in Congress have been demanding that President Obama come up with a detailed plan to cut the deficit and solve the upcoming fiscal deadlines without feeling any need to prepare a plan of their own. On Monday, under pressure from the White House, Republicans finally released their opening position in the negotiations – a remarkably shallow one that demonstrated a lack of seriousness in negotiations, or farsightedness in policy. [..]

The only way to produce the necessary revenue is to combine some limits on deductions with an end to the Bush tax cuts on the rich, and Mr. Obama, fortunately, has been adamant he will not consider any plan that does not do so. The Boehner letter, by contrast, actually advocates lowering rates, suggesting that Republicans are still clinging to the notion, rejected by voters, that was put forward by Mitt Romney.

Tavis Smiley: Ceilings, Cliffs and Walls

Ceiling caving, cliff hanging, walls closing in — sounds like an Indiana Jones movie. Except this is real life. The real lives of millions of Americans.

First, we hit the debt ceiling. Now we’re hanging over the fiscal cliff. Next, the walls start to close in on millions of Americans, particularly the poor.

The news media is covering this story everyday as if this is some kind of “cliffhanger” when, in truth, it’s really not. I can tell you right now how this movie ends. Indiana Jones is not going to show up and save the day. Whenever this so-called “grand bargain” is reached, it may be grand for the elite, but not so much for the nation’s poor. I would love to be wrong about this, but signs point to yet another piling on of the poor. Eventually, if not immediately.

Dean Baker: The Serious People Are on the War Path

Fans of arithmetic everywhere know that the large deficits of the last five years are the result of the economic downturn caused by the collapse of the housing bubble. But those taking part in deficit discussions in Washington won’t allow such numbers into the discussion.

The Serious People in Washington, such as the Washington Post (both the opinion and news sections), the Wall Street Campaign to Fix the Debt, and the Republican congressional leadership are in a full budget-cutting frenzy. They demand cuts to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and everything else that benefits middle-income and poor people because, well, because the market demands it.

And we know, the market demands these cuts because the Serious People told us the market demands these cuts. The fact that the cuts have the effect of redistributing income from the rest of us to the Serious People and their friends is just a coincidence.

Glenn Greenwald: Progressive Media Claims They’ll Be ‘Tougher’ on Obama Now

Given the rationale they have embraced, is there any reason to believe this will happen, or that it will matter if it does?

Last week, the Huffington Post‘s media reporter, Michael Calderone, wrote a long article on the widespread perception that MSNBC isn’t so much a progressive network as it is “simply pro-Obama”. Citing a new Pew study that found that MSNBC was actually more negative toward Romney than even Fox News was against Obama “and offered mostly positive coverage about Obama” – most remarkably, during the last week of the campaign, MSNBC did not air a single story critical of Obama: not one – Calderone wrote: “post-election, the question is whether MSNBC continues cheering Obama on – or takes him on.”

I want to focus on this claim that media progressives will now be “tougher” on Obama, but first, an aside: Hendrik Hertzberg proclaims that they will now be even “more respectful” of Obama than they have been. Short of formally beatifying him, or perhaps transferring all their worldly possessions to him, is that even physically possible? Is there a reverence ritual that has been left unperformed, [swooning praise left to be lavished upon him, heinous acts by him that have not yet been acquiesced to if not affirmatively sanctioned in the name of keeping him empowered? That media progressives will try to find ways to be even “more respectful” to the president is nothing short of scary.]

Eugene Robinson: Boehner Plays a Weak Hand

How dare he? President Obama, I mean: How dare he do what he promised during the campaign? How dare he insist on a “balanced approach” to fiscal policy that includes an teensy-weensy tax increase for the rich? Oh, the humanity. [..]

“The president’s idea of a negotiation is, roll over and do what I ask,” Boehner groused.

Hmmm. Where do you imagine the president might have learned this particular bargaining technique? Might his instructors have been Boehner’s own House Republicans, who went so far as to hold the debt ceiling for ransom-and with it, the nation’s full faith and credit-in order to get their way?

George Lakoff: Why It’s Hard to Replace the “Fiscal Cliff” Metaphor

Writers on economics have been talking since the election about why the “fiscal cliff” metaphor is misleading. Alternative metaphors have been offered like the fiscal hill, fiscal curb, and fiscal showdown, as if one metaphor could easily be replaced by another that makes more sense of the real situation. But none of the alternatives has stuck, nor has the fiscal cliff metaphor been abandoned. Why? Why do some metaphors have far more staying power than others, even when they give a misleading picture of a crucial national issue?

The reason has to do with the way that metaphorical thought and language work in the brain. From a cognitive linguistics perspective, “fiscal cliff” is not a simple metaphor bringing “fiscal” together with “cliff.” It is instead a linguistic metaphor that is understood via a highly integrated cascade of other deeper and more general conceptual metaphors.

A cascade is a neural circuit containing and coordinating neural circuits in various parts of the brain.

Dec 04 2012

On This Day In History December 4

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 4 is the 338th day of the year (339th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 27 days remaining until the end of the year

On this day in 1783, future President George Washington, then commanding general of the Continental Army, summons his military officers to Fraunces Tavern in New York City to inform them that he will be resigning his commission and returning to civilian life.

Washington had led the army through six long years of war against the British before the American forces finally prevailed at the Battle of Yorktown in 1781. There, Washington received the formal surrender of British General Lord Charles Cornwallis, effectively ending the Revolutionary War, although it took almost two more years to conclude a peace treaty and slightly longer for all British troops to leave New York.

Fraunces Tavern is a tavern, restaurant and museum housed in a conjectural reconstruction of a building that played a prominent role in pre-Revolution and Revolution history. The building, located at 54 Pearl Street at the corner of Broad Street, has been owned by Sons of the Revolution in the State of New York Inc. since 1904, which claims it is Manhattan’s oldest surviving building. The building is a tourist site and a part of the American Whiskey Trail and the New York Freedom Trail.

Revolution history

In August 1775, Americans took possession of cannons from the artillery battery at the southern point of Manhattan and fired on the HMS Asia. The British ship retaliated by firing a 32-gun broadside on the city, sending a cannonball through the roof of the building.

When the war was all but won, the building was the site of “British-American Board of Inquiry” meetings, which negotiated to ensure to American leaders that no “American property” (meaning former slaves who were emancipated by the British for their military service) be allowed to leave with British troops. Board members reviewed the evidence and testimonies that were given by freed slaves every Wednesday from April to November 1783, and British representatives were successful in ensuring that almost all of the loyalist blacks of New York maintained their liberty.

After British troops evacuated New York, the tavern hosted an elaborate “turtle feast” dinner on December 4, 1783 in the building’s Long Room for U.S. Gen. George Washington where he bade farewell to his officers of the Continental Army by saying “[w]ith a heart full of love and gratitude, I now take leave of you. I most devoutly wish that your latter days may be as prosperous and happy as your former ones have been glorious and honorable.”

The building housed some offices of the Confederation Congress as the nation struggled under the Articles of Confederation. With the establishment of the U.S. Constitution and the inauguration of Washington as president in 1789, the departments of Foreign Affairs, Treasury and War located offices at the building. The offices were vacated when the location of the U.S. capital moved on December 6, 1790 from New York to Philadelphia.

Dec 04 2012

Taxes, Taxes, Taxes

As anyone watching the news knows by now that the major topic of discussion is the coming expiration of the Bush/Obama Tax cuts and the mythical “fiscal cliff”. President Obama has said that he will not extend them again and that any budget agreement from congress that does not raise taxes on income over $250,000 will be vetoed. So far, he’s sticking with that story. Over the weekend Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner was dispatched to the Sunday talk show rounds to pitch the budget proposal while the president took to the road and social media to sell it to the public. Needless to say the Republicans roundly rejected the proposal with House Speaker John Boehner calling it a “La-La-Land offer.” That’s a real adult response.

Former policy analyst to Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush, Bruce Bartlett, who lost all his conservative credibility when he made the case that the Bush/Cheney administration agenda didn’t make any sense, joined the discussion of the Grover Norquist‘s tax pledge for Republicans and the pro’s and con’s of increased taxes. Gov. Dannel Malloy, Democrat of Connecticut; Veronique de Rugy, senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University; Elizabeth Pearson, fellow at The Roosevelt Institute; and Dedrick Muhammad, senior economic director at the NAACP join host Chris Hayes and Mr. Bartlet to discuss the “story of the week”: the tax battle

Dec 04 2012

The Great Recession’s Untold Story: State Budgets

Democratic Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy (@GovMalloyOffice) joined the panel on Up with Chris Hayes to discuss the untold story of the Great Recession: how cash strapped states and local governments are dealing with the aftermath of the financial crisis and how they could be affected by the outcome of so-called “fiscal cliff” negotiations. Host Chris Hayes, along with Gov. Malloy, talk about austerity on the state level cash strapped states resort to extreme measures to balance their budgets and the different way states are finding to raise cash.

They are joined in the discussion by Elizabeth Pearson, fellow at The Roosevelt Institute; Maya Wiley (@mayawiley), founder and president of the Center for Social Inclusion; Veronique de Rugy (@veroderugy), senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University; and Dedrick Muhammad, senior economic director at the NAACP.