Daily Archive: 12/19/2012

Dec 19 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”.

Wednesday is Ladies’ Day

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Sarita Gupta: A Grand Swindle: What We Don’t Need Now Is a Bad “Grand Bargain”

In the 2012 elections, the American people voted for strengthening our economy and putting people back to work. “We’re all in this together” defeated “You’re on your own.” Or so we thought.

It seems that since Nov. 6, many politicians forgot that the people they represent used their voice at the polls to stand up for working families and the programs they rely on. Democratic lawmakers should resist any “grand bargain” on the budget that protects the wealthy at the expense of the rest of us. [..]

We can’t let corporate America undo the results of the election. Working people won’t take that lying down. And Democrats should hold their ground.

The grand bargain is a grand swindle.

Katrina vanden Heuvel: What to ask a secretary of state nominee

The nomination of a secretary of state gives the Senate the opportunity to probe the administration’s foreign policy priorities – and many of President Obama’s policies demand inquiry. Republicans like Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who have disgracefully sniped at U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, have expressed few coherent reservations about our current course. Instead, it will be incumbent on Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee – particularly Barbara Boxer (Calif.), Bob Casey (Pa.) and Tom Udall (N.M.) – to lead a responsible review.

Here are only a few of the questions that senators could ask the nominee. [..]

This is far from the comprehensive set of questions that any nominee should face. This country faces monumental challenges that need to be addressed. It’s time for the Senate to get beyond partisan cheap shots and exercise its constitutional responsibility to probe the president’s nominee on whether and how the administration plans to move forward in an increasingly complex world.

Gov. Jennifer M. Granholm: Gun Safety, Fiscal Cliff: Where Are the Courageous Leaders?

In June 1944, around 150,000 brave men were asked to storm the beaches of Normandy. At risk to themselves, they accepted the challenge on behalf of their nation and the world. They were heroes. They were leaders.

Imagine if we had leaders today with as much courage as each of those soldiers had in just one of their fingers.

This gun debate, the fiscal cliff, and frankly all important and difficult issues demand leaders willing to be uncomfortable. Willing to lean into an oncoming storm rather than be blown along with it. The men at Normandy risked their lives for what was right. Our politicians could at least risk their campaign donations.

Deborah Burger: Time to Act Now To Restore Our Ravaged Mental Healthcare System

Registered nurses across the country mourn the loss of life marked by the shooting of innocents in Connecticut. This should be a clear wake up call for the White House, Congress, and state and local legislators to take action to address causes of the violence, including restoring the devastating cuts that have occurred to mental health services across the U.S.

Every day a massive tragedy is being played out on a smaller scale everyday in emergency rooms, in mental health facilities, and on the streets across our country, where, with sometimes devastating consequences, mental health is underfunded to a shocking, and sometimes deadly degree.

Members of National Nurses United, the nation’s largest organization of nurses, say it is time to act with both short term and long term responses.

Amanda Marcotte: Time to Stop Restricting Abortion and Start Restricting Assault Weapons

In the wake of the Sandy Hook massacre, calls for restrictions on the manufacture and sale of a variety of guns, especially assault rifles such as the Bushmaster .223 used by the shooter in his rampage against women and children, have grown stronger. Of course, this creates a strange situation for pro-choicers, who are usually on the end of arguing that restrictions on abortion don’t do much to reduce abortion rates, allowing gun nut anti-choicers (the two tend to go together because gun nuttery, like anti-choice nuttery, is based in a weird mix of misogyny and psychosexual issues) to squee “gotchas” at us. So, I figured I’d go ahead and shoot that nonsense down and explain here why restrictions on the sales of guns and restrictions on access to abortion are very, very different things. [..]

When crafting legislation, it’s important to avoid being simple-minded and assume that a ban is a ban is a ban. The evidence is clear that abortion restrictions and gun restrictions couldn’t be more different in how they play out in the real world. It’s time to stop restricting abortion and turn our attention to guns.

Michelle Chen: Toxic Train Wreck Exposes Weakness in Federal Chemical Policy

In late November, while other parts of New Jersey were recovering from the superstorm, the quiet town of Paulsboro was blindsided by a very unnatural disaster. A train derailed while crossing a local bridge, sending freight cars tumbling into the water below and releasing a toxic swirl of the flammable gas known as vinyl chloride, used to make PVC plastics. In the following days, chaos ensued as residents hurriedly evacuated. Authorities struggled to manage the emergency response, leaving people confused and frustrated by a lack of official communication about hazards.

Though the derailment came as a shock to residents, this was an accident waiting to happen, environmental advocates say. Paulsboro is just one of the latest in a spate of recent disasters (including others involving vinyl chloride) in industries that handle massive amounts of toxins with minimal oversight.

Dec 19 2012

Chained CPI is a Cut. You Either Care About People or You Don’t.

And when one make excuses for chained CPI without doing any research because they’ll blindly follow whatever a politician proposes regardless of the consequences, that is a choice of action taken. Action that actually shows how one does not care about people. It can be witnessed. It can be read and it can be judged, so I will be doing so now.

Pointing this out harshly will not hurt seniors like the action of cutting their SS income while their cost of living of has risen roughly 0.27 percentage points faster per year than the CPI-W which is what is used now for their COLA. When one is defending this action orally or in writing because of their perceived party loyalty, though it’s not really party loyalty because this isn’t what FDR envisioned whom defined the modern Democratic party, that shows disdain for the most vulnerable in our society and that is a fact.

Dec 19 2012

On This Day In History December 19

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 19 is the 353rd day of the year (354th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 12 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1776, Thomas Paine publishes The American Crisis.

These are the times that try men’s souls; the summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.

When these phrases appeared in the pages of the Pennsylvania Journal for the first time, General George Washington’s troops were encamped at McKonkey’s Ferry on the Delaware River opposite Trenton, New Jersey. In August, they had suffered humiliating defeats and lost New York City to British troops. Between September and December, 11,000 American volunteers gave up the fight and returned to their families. General Washington could foresee the destiny of a rebellion without an army if the rest of his men returned home when their service contracts expired on December 31. He knew that without an upswing in morale and a significant victory, the American Revolution would come to a swift and humiliating end.

Thomas Paine was similarly astute. His Common Sense was the clarion call that began the revolution. As Washington’s troops retreated from New York through New Jersey, Paine again rose to the challenge of literary warfare. With American Crisis, he delivered the words that would salvage the revolution.

The American Crisis was a series of pamphlets published from 1776 to 1783 during the American Revolution by eighteenth century Enlightenment philosopher and author Thomas Paine. Thirteen numbered pamphlets were published between 1776-1777 with three additional pamphlets released between 1777-1783. The writings were contemporaneous with the early parts of the American Revolution, during the times that colonists needed inspiring.

They were written in a language the common man could manage and are indicative of Paine’s liberal philosophies. Paine signed them with one of his many pseudonyms “Common Sense”. The writings bolstered the morale of the American colonists, appealed to the English people’s consideration of the war with America, clarified the issues at stake in the war and denounced the advocates of a negotiated peace.

Dec 19 2012

To the Phones: No Cuts to Social Security

As you know, if you read this blog, or any of the true left wing sites, like FiredogLake and Corrente, that Pres. Obama has once again gone back on his word that cuts to Social Security were off the table as a bargaining chip for a “Grand Bargain.” He has proposed to use  the chained CPI to calculate cost of living increases in Social Security benefits. Now House Minority Leader Nancy is saying that she could live with tying Social Security to the chained CPI, plus she said Democrats would stick with the president to avoid going over the fiscal cliff.

David Dayen at FDL News summed up Pelosi’s meaning and later White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said at the press briefing:

Pelosi tried to emphasize the unformed idea that there would be “protections” for the most vulnerable. For example, the disabled on Supplemental Security Income might not be subject to chained CPI, and there could be a “bump-up” for people aged 80, to compensate for the cumulative effect of the benefit cut. Again, the vulnerable are a massive part of this population (pdf). This is almost the entire income source for almost half of seniors, and for 3/4 of widows or unmarried women. And 15.1% of seniors live in poverty. And if you hold all of them harmless, you erode the actual savings you can derive from this. The three-legged stool of retirement has withered away, especially since the dot-com bust and the Great Recession. This argues strongly for increasing Social Security benefits, not cutting them and not even mitigating cuts.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney called this a “technical fix” to better calculate inflation. Bullshit. If this were just a technical fix, you would adjust so that the fix wouldn’t hit beneficiaries in a regressive fashion, with the most pain at the bottom. This plan doesn’t, to any real degree. The goal isn’t to properly measure inflation, it’s to save money for the federal government. It always has been.

Well, it time to make noise and fight back. Atrios has sounded the alert and we should take to the phones:

White House

202-456-1111

Your senators

Your House member.

No cuts to Social Security.

Keep it up everyday, jam the lines until the President and Congress get the message:

No cuts to Social Security.