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Why President Obama's Chained CPI Pre-concession Was A Mistake

The People's View writes:

Why Obama and Democrats Should Strike a Grand Bargain and Leave Behind The Great Progressive Resistance When everyone digs in their heels, nothing gets done. As I have noted earlier this week, Paul Ryan apparently doesn't remember that his party and his ticket lost the election largely on the merits of their budget plans. House Republicans are digging in their heels, furiously opposed to any additional revenue and hell bent on ending the social safety net. But there also seem to be plenty of Democrats and liberals digging in their heels - Bernie Sanders being the leading contender of the mantle of Leader of the Great Progressive ResistanceTM - and are declaring themselves adamantly opposed to any meaningful reforms to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

The argument appears to be that pre-concessions from the president and Democrats are necessary, and ultimately a good thing, because if they do not make a pre-concession, nothing will get done. I disagree with this negotiating approach. While it is true that Obama and the Dems can "get something done" by conceding points to the GOP, it is not by definition a good thing to get that "something" done. Moreover, the president does not even get credit for the pre-concession anyway.

More . . .

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Habemus Papam: Pope Francis I

New York Times:

With a puff of white smoke from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel and to the cheers of thousands of rain-soaked faithful, a gathering of Catholic cardinals picked a new pope from among their midst on Wednesday — choosing the cardinal from Argentina, the first South American to ever lead the church.

The new pope, 76, Jorge Mario Bergoglio (pronounced Ber-GOAL-io) will be called Francis, the 266th pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church. He is also the first non-European leader of the church in more than 1,000 years.

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Hugo Chavez Passes Away

Cancer:

President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela died Tuesday afternoon after a long battle with cancer, the government announced, leaving behind a bitterly divided nation in the grip of a political crisis that grew more acute as he languished for weeks, silent and out of sight in hospitals in Havana and Caracas.

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The Post Mortem On The Post Partisan Unity Schtick

Ryan Lizza writes:

[T]the fact that Barack Obama now so appreciates the limits of his office and his lack of Jedi powers is rich with irony. As I’ve written about before, the premise of Obamaism— from his famous convention speech in 2004, through his primary challenge to Hillary Clinton, in 2008, right up until the later half of his first term—was that Obama was a politician uniquely suited to transform American politics by breaking through the polarization in Washington and bringing the two parties together.

[More . . .]

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Not A Dime's Worth Of Difference

Regular readers will remember my description of the policy differences between then political rivals President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as not being "a dime's worth of difference." After watching their joint appearance on 60 Minutes, I feel vindicated:

The president lavished praise on Mrs. Clinton for her discipline, stamina and talent. And they put a glossy shine on history by brushing off the tough primary attacks five years ago as the product of trying to find differences where, they now say, there actually were not that many.

“Despite our hard-fought primary, we had such agreement on what needed to be done for our country,” Mrs. Clinton said. “Made for tough debates, by the way,” Mr. Obama added, “because we could never figure out what we were different on.” “Yeah, we worked at that pretty hard,” she said.

It was a rather extraordinary event. And to my eye, a real degree of warmth, and yes, chemistry, shone through. Was Obama tapping his preferred successor? Not formally of course. But it seemed rather clear to me. Time will tell.

Speaking for me only

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Secretary of State's Appearance Before Senate Foreign Relations Committee

Clown show this morning. A highlight:

More clowns this afternoon as the Secretary of State appears before the House Foreign Relations Committee.

Hilarity ensues here.

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Hillary Clinton Released From Hospital, Full Recovery Expected

Good news. Hillary Clinton has been discharged from the hospital. A full recovery is expected.

Secretary Clinton was discharged from the hospital this evening. Her medical team advised her that she is making good progress on all fronts, and they are confident she will make a full recovery," Philippe Reines, a deputy assistant secretary of state, said in a statement.

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The Madmen Win Again?

Intelligent and reasonable persons can disagree on whether what appears to be the emerging fiscal cliff deal is a deal worth making. It certtainly is not a good deal, but it might be the least bad option.

However, it does confirm that Madman Political Bargaining works. Republicans are getting much more than they should have in this deal.

In my August 2011 post about the debt ceiling "end of the world" negotiations of 2011 (soon to be repeated apparently), I argued:

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Fiscal Cliff Developments

Deal or no deal? It's hard to tell.

Looks like no vote tonight, but they are hoping for one tomorrow.

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More Hillary 2016

Harry Enten.

Your turn.

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ABC Poll: 57% Support Hillary 2016

I'm on Daily Kos Radio right now. Tune in.

Oh, here's the Hillary story:

Carried by a new high in personal popularity and broad approval of her work as secretary of state, Hillary Clinton closes out her diplomatic career with majority support as a candidate for president in 2016. Fifty-seven percent in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll say they’d back a run by Clinton to succeed Barack Obama, vs. 37 percent opposed. That includes a broad gender gap – 66 percent support for Clinton among women, dropping to 49 percent among men.

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Feet to the Fire

I find myself in the strange position of defending President Obama's current negotiation approach on the austerity bomb while at the same time having to defend my criticism of his negotiating style in the past. It is strange to me because I believe the President has changed his approach to political bargaining - a change I believe began in August 2011 (see, e.g., How Occupy Defined the Election.) This appears to be a widespread view now - see the NYTimes' article Criticized as Weak in Past Talks, Obama Takes Harder Line.

I think I should applaud this change (even when Tim Geithner, someone I have been harshly critical of, is the chosen messenger.)

So what do I make of Glenn Greenwald's column today mocking progressive pundits moving to be "constructively critical" of President Obama? My own view is Glenn, who I consider a friend, is better off making his substantive critiques of the Obama Administration instead of keeping tabs on how MSNBC and The Nation are doing. More on the flip.

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Jill Kelley: Tried to Parlay Connections into $80 Million Fee

Financially beleaguered Real Housewife of Tampa co-star Jill Kelley thought she'd try her hand at a business deal (using her closeness to Gen. David Petraeus and her honorary South Korea title.) She was rebuffed as an amateur, when she asked for an $80 million commission.

Adam Victor, president of TransGas Development in New York, recounts the adventure to the Tampa Bay Times. He met Kelley at an event at the Tampa Convention Hall at the Republican National Convention.

Victor said Kelley described herself as a close friend to Petraeus, which impressed him. In fact, he said, Kelley told him she might help him with a coal gasification project in South Korea. She said she could gain him access to the highest levels of the South Korean government, Victor said. Kelley told him she was an honorary consul for South Korea, and Victor said she told him she had obtained the position with the help of Petraeus.

Kelley followed up with Victor at a meeting in New York (his company flew her there first class.) Kelley told him that if the deal went through, she expected an $80 million commission. [More....]

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Jill Kelley's FBI Agent Identified, Security Clearances Stripped

The FBI agent/friend of Jill Kelley who brought the anonymous e-mails she received to the FBI is Frederick W. Humphries. Humprhies works on terrorism cases. His friends describe him as obsessive, with "experience in counterterrorism, conservative political views and a reputation for aggressiveness."

Humphries and his wife were "social friends" with Jill Kelley. Humphries contacted Rep. Dave Reichert because he was convinced the FBI was stalling the case for political reasons. Reichert connected him with Eric Cantor, who passed his info on to FBI Director Mueller.

A friend of Humphries says the shirtless photo was sent years earlier and was "a joke." The Kelley and Humphries families often exchanged photos of each other.

First penalties: Paula Broadwell lost her security clearance today and Jill Kelley lost her special clearance to access the MacDill military base. [More...]

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Connections Unplugged: The Generals and the Hornet's Nest

There are lots of articles about the background of Tampa socialite and party planner Jill Kelley and her twin sister, lawyer Natalie Khawam, and their access to top military officials, here and in the Middle East, including Gen. David Petraeus and John Allen.

The first question that comes to mind: Why were Gen. Allen and Jill Kelley, who has no particular expertise in foreign affairs, the military or Government, exchanging 20 to 30,000 pages of documents (including several hundred e-mails) over a two year period? What documents would be of mutual interest to a party planner socialite and a top General? It doesn't sound like there was any romantic relationship between them, so what was their mutual interest? Was she feeding him information? About what? Where did she get the documents she sent him? What documents was he sending her?

[T]he bureau turned over a mountain of documents to Pentagon officials, including an estimated 20,000 to 30,000 pages, based largely on communication between Allen and Kelley, prompting Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to order an inspector general inquiry.

[More...]

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