Tueday Morning Open Thread

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    Perhaps the most disliked group in the country (5.00 / 1) (#17)
    by CoralGables on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 10:19:37 AM EST
    I presume will not make good on their promise lest they find themselves planning their own funerals.

    The Westboro Baptist Church, after saying they would picket funerals in Newtown, now find themselves the target of the most signed petition on the White House website surpassing even the gun control petition. Those two petitions, both closing in on 200,000 signatures today, have left all others far behind.

    Stupid people (none / 0) (#19)
    by Militarytracy on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 10:23:10 AM EST
    I can't be responsible for what happens to them at this point.  The patriot riders have found ways to protect military grieving at funerals that also avoids Westboro confrontations.  This may be a bridge too far for anyone being able to keep Westborough safe from the angry.

    The Patriot Riders are wonderful (5.00 / 5) (#23)
    by Towanda on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 10:37:14 AM EST
    and I always will be grateful to those vets for their quiet but important presence on a difficult day, when we dealt with the funeral of a wonderful former student with so much promise -- we had sent him off to grad school, where he again was doing so well but committed suicide, due to PTSD.

    I always think of him at this time of year, when his body was found, a few years ago.

    He had served in Iraq, as a Marine, so Phelps and his Westboro freeks already in our area to ruin another funeral threatened to show up at this one.  The Patriot Riders showed up, too, at the church and at the Marines' special service nearby, so the Patriot Riders gave most of a day to do their fine work.  One quietly told me, when I asked, that they had spotted one of Phelps' scouts, who must have reported that the Riders were there in force and scared the Westboro freeks away.  Perhaps the sight of dozens of Marines in full uniform also had an impact, huh?

    But the family was so devastated, the rest of us also were so dismayed by the loss, that the very thought of Phelps showing up gave me the shudders.  Bless the Patriot Riders for all that they do -- and are ready, I read, to do again in Newtown.


    We have had one instance were (5.00 / 1) (#26)
    by Militarytracy on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 10:41:13 AM EST
    A local person beat up a member of Westboro when they arrived for a protest.  No charges filed and Westboro left before they protested.  I don't know that they can be  "kept safe" this go around.  They are really taking a risk.

    According to AP, the Department (5.00 / 1) (#45)
    by KeysDan on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 12:36:42 PM EST
    of Justice is dropping its investigation into Paula Broadwell, former CIA Director and General (ret.) "Dave" Petraeus's embedded biographer/mistress.   No charges will be pursued for Ms. Broadwell's alleged acts of cyberstalking Ms. Jill Kelley, the  fabled Tampa hostess with the mostess, warning her to stay away from Dave and General Allen.  Allen continues to be under investigation by the Pentagon Inspector General regarding his emails to Ms. Kelley.

    Sometimes an affair (5.00 / 3) (#57)
    by CoralGables on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 01:09:28 PM EST
    is just an affair.

    "Did we just kill a kid?" (5.00 / 4) (#76)
    by Dadler on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 02:16:02 PM EST
    Our Drone murder madness continues, a disturbing reminder in light of recent domestic tragedies:

    "These moments are like in slow motion," he says today. Images taken with an infrared camera attached to the drone appeared on his monitor, transmitted by satellite, with a two-to-five-second time delay.

    With seven seconds left to go, there was no one to be seen on the ground. Bryant could still have diverted the missile at that point. Then it was down to three seconds. Bryant felt as if he had to count each individual pixel on the monitor. Suddenly a child walked around the corner, he says.

    Second zero was the moment in which Bryant's digital world collided with the real one in a village between Baghlan and Mazar-e-Sharif.

    Bryant saw a flash on the screen: the explosion. Parts of the building collapsed. The child had disappeared. Bryant had a sick feeling in his stomach.

    "Did we just kill a kid?" he asked the man sitting next to him.

    "Yeah, I guess that was a kid," the pilot replied.

    "Was that a kid?" they wrote into a chat window on the monitor.

    Then, someone they didn't know answered, someone sitting in a military command center somewhere in the world who had observed their attack. "No. That was a dog," the person wrote.

    They reviewed the scene on video. A dog on two legs?


    I pity those on Social Security (4.00 / 2) (#5)
    by oculus on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 09:31:14 AM EST
    who rely on the present formula for COL.

    I don't know they can justify chained CPI (5.00 / 2) (#7)
    by Militarytracy on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 09:39:53 AM EST
    When the current COL increase isn't even likely to cover their Medicare out of pocket increases.  It would be easy to fight it down based on that little fact alone, nobody is making that too obvious argument though.

    They "justify" chained CPI because (5.00 / 3) (#12)
    by Mr Natural on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 09:51:17 AM EST
    it effectively compounds the diminution of inflation or cost of living adjusted increases.  In other words, Granny will have to live on less cat food.

    Yes, they will use your granny (5.00 / 2) (#14)
    by Militarytracy on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 10:08:35 AM EST
    To control inflation.   Wring her out regularly like a dishrag.  Bad investment choices failing used to control inflation big time too.  But now that there can be none of those, granny will have the full weight and the turning of that screw applied to her.

    Tracy (none / 0) (#11)
    by AngryBlackGuy on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 09:47:41 AM EST
    There are no cuts that cuts that you would accept for the sake of finding a middle ground?

    It isn't a middle ground issue though ABG (5.00 / 7) (#16)
    by Militarytracy on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 10:18:15 AM EST
    We saved the infrastructure and the rich first.  They have now been saved and we didn't crash.  They have also been given all the financial leverage possible to have earned their way out.  If they haven't done that at this point they are too stupid to participate and they need to she'd from the infrastructure.

    The small players in the economy lost what their homes and property are worth, they lost their pensions or what they are worth, and now the first rumors that 401k's are not going to pay out (shocking for some) have hit the street.

    The people have to be saved now in order to start the economic engine again.  Anything you cut them adds up to more pulls on that start before it finally starts.  It isn't about middle ground, it is about when you want your children to have a future again.


    I hate auto correct (5.00 / 1) (#18)
    by Militarytracy on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 10:20:30 AM EST
    Big players who haven't used all the freebies they were given to earn there way out of the crash are too stupid to participate and need to be shed.

    Speaking for me, not if it's taking more (5.00 / 4) (#20)
    by Anne on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 10:28:12 AM EST
    money out of the pockets of those who can least afford it.

    There's just no reason why the old, the poor and the sick have to be on the chopping block.


    Sure there is a reason (5.00 / 3) (#24)
    by MO Blue on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 10:39:49 AM EST
    the old, the poor and the sick have to be on the chopping block. More cuts to domestic and safety net programs will be combined next year with a fast tracked tax reform bill that will cut corporate taxes and give the rich 99.9% of the pie.

    I agree with you (none / 0) (#40)
    by AngryBlackGuy on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 12:12:28 PM EST
    Our opposition does not.  We cannot proceed in a beneficial way without a bill that they agree to.

    Now what?


    Apparently (5.00 / 2) (#46)
    by sj on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 12:36:50 PM EST
    the fiscal cliff is, in many places, not as steep as the cliff being carved by the deal.

    I think I'm hoping for sequestration.  And I'm doomed to be disappointed again.


    For sure (5.00 / 1) (#78)
    by MO Blue on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 02:21:01 PM EST
    To that argument, I say they're right -- but only to an extent. The cuts in the package are far too steep. But then, no plausible grand bargain is likely to lessen the economic impact that much. And if leaders do reach a deal -- like the latest, $1.2 trillion proposal President Obama delivered to House Speaker John A. Boehner on Monday -- the result will almost certainly be a less "balanced" package than the one slated to take effect. It could hurt the middle class and poor even more than the current one would.

    Are you including Obama (5.00 / 3) (#55)
    by MO Blue on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 12:59:56 PM EST
    in with those who do not agree with me? He has been pushing these ideas since he has been president-elect Obama.

    Now what? Go over the manufactured cliff and disassemble the pieces that were created. The upcoming events were created for no other reason than to provide justification for the actions that the Republicans, Obama and many Dems have wanted but did not want to take personal responsibility for their choices.


    Irrelevant (none / 0) (#62)
    by AngryBlackGuy on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 01:32:40 PM EST
    I want to understand the criteria pursuant to which you are judging the deal.

    What Obama believes or doesn't believe shouldn't matter so long as he gets a deal you think is acceptable.

    You have spent a lot of time talking about what's wrong, dishonest or otherwise dastardly about Obama and the Dems.

    I would like you to provide standards pursuant to which we would judge that.


    You have received an answer to that question (5.00 / 3) (#71)
    by sj on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 02:00:16 PM EST
    over and over and over and over again.  Simply repeating the question while ignoring the responses of the last few  years is, frankly, a poor reflection on your reading retention and interpersonal skills.

    You've spent a lot of time asking variations on this question and your refusal to acknowledge the responses is wrong and dishonest and otherwise dastardly.

    So frankly I don't see why anyone should care what you would like.


    Trying not to get kicked off of BTD's Threads (none / 0) (#109)
    by AngryBlackGuy on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 05:31:33 PM EST
    So I guess I'll just take the personal attack like a champ.  I said nothing to warrant that but punch away.

    Oh yeah (5.00 / 1) (#115)
    by sj on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 06:23:44 PM EST
    I forgot about lack of reading comprehension.  That isn't so much a personal attack is it is a public airing of your dishonesty.  

    Some of us have better memories than you would like for us to have.  We know very well that these very sentiments of yours have been sprinkled throughout open threads for years.

    Poor, poor you.  So unwarranted that I should remember that.


    I have said (none / 0) (#123)
    by AngryBlackGuy on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 08:39:00 PM EST
    Nothing dishonest SJ.  We simply don't agree on things.  

    That's an option.  I see no need to sink to the level of calling those who disagree liars and such.  

    But have at it.


    oy (none / 0) (#133)
    by sj on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 10:31:15 PM EST
    You not I have made this personal about Obama (5.00 / 7) (#77)
    by MO Blue on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 02:16:46 PM EST
    That tactic IIRC is something originally developed by the Republicans to divert attention away from discussions of actual policies and discount opinions without addressing the issue at hand.

    If you think what Obama believes or doesn't believe is irrelevant you might want to eliminate rationalizing Obama's actions as something the Republicans are forcing him to do. That is not accurate as there are numerous documented statements by Obama since 2007 that state he wants a Grand Bargain that will cut domestic and safety net programs and reform the tax code by lowering corporate taxes. There are numerous documented actions he has taken to accomplish his agenda. Time and bandwidth would not allow for all the links that could be provided.

    I have and will continue to spend a lot of time talking about the policies that I think will harm the poor and the middle class that Obama and some of the Dems are pursuing along with the Republicans.

    Just to make it perfectly clear: The deal that Obama is pursuing now and those he has pursued in the past are not acceptable to me. Just to make it perfectly clear: My opinion is shared by the majority of Americans of all political parties. IIRC the only segment where a majority support the elements contained is Obama's deals are the rich.  



    I can only present the data I see (none / 0) (#112)
    by AngryBlackGuy on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 05:41:08 PM EST
    This is what that data says:

    "PRINCETON, NJ -- Sixty-two percent of Americans would like to see federal government leaders compromise on an agreement to avoid the "fiscal cliff" budget measures set to go into effect next month, more than twice the 25% who want leaders to stick to their principles on spending cuts and tax increases. A majority of all party groups favor compromise." - Gallup

    When polls are stated in such a way that it is clear that medicare, etc. are part of the compromise, they still support compromise.

    This doesn't mean they are right.  I just think you are wrong on the country's mood.  I don't thin k Obama has majority support for taking a hardline position and conceding nothing and I don't think any amount of campaigning would give it to him.

    So I start with a different set of assumptions than you.


    What percentage say protect Social Security? (5.00 / 1) (#116)
    by shoephone on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 06:41:44 PM EST
    60%. So that's more than just Democrats. 60% of all Americans say they do not support any cuts to Social Security.

    {{Sigh}} (5.00 / 1) (#119)
    by Zorba on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 07:19:13 PM EST
    I think we may be losing the fight to protect Social Security, shoephone.  (And Medicare, too, for that matter.)  Very, very unfortunately.
    And I don't think that there are enough Wal-Marts, or enough jobs at those Wal-Marts for "greeters," to hire all those seniors who are going to be seriously hurting financially when this all goes down.
    Not that I think that the poorer seniors should be trying to get such jobs in order to have a semi-decent income after working their whole f*cking lives.
    I just do not have an answer for this.  I'm really afraid that this will be a "done deal."
    And I sincerely hope that I'm wrong about this.

    I'm afraid the writing's on the wall too, (5.00 / 3) (#120)
    by shoephone on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 07:49:07 PM EST
    but until it happens, I'm going to keep at my representatives to beat it back and stand up for the Democratic Party Platform.

    I've contacted my senators three times in the last three weeks -- twice by phone, once by email -- and the responses I've been getting say they are firmly opposed to using chained CPI as any part of a deal on the phony fiscal cliff. In fact, they both say they do not believe in including cuts to Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid in these noegotiations at all.


    We all need to (5.00 / 2) (#121)
    by Zorba on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 08:01:43 PM EST
    contact our Senators and Representatives about this, shoephone.  I do so frequently, and I would hope that others do this, too.

    How much money will be saved by (none / 0) (#124)
    by observed on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 08:48:01 PM EST
    the Chained CPI  fix?
    Can't we get the same amount and more by taxing the ABG's of the world (Wall Street lawyers) until they bleed?
    Heck, tax ABG until he  is so poor he has to accept public assistance, and THEN cut the food stamps?
    Why not? I personally have no problem with this kind of shared sacrifice.

    Aw, c'mon, ABG isn't rich. (none / 0) (#126)
    by MyLeftMind on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 09:02:53 PM EST
    He's a lowly blog poster PAID to post BS in support of policies for the rich.

    Forgot link (none / 0) (#118)
    by shoephone on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 06:54:43 PM EST
    How about a poll that address cuts to SS? (5.00 / 2) (#131)
    by MO Blue on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 10:15:14 PM EST
    It is real easy to rationalize something if you use poll data that is not specific to the issue being discussed.

    Why don't we look at a Dec 2012 poll that specifically asked if the public supports the chained CPI?  

    The chained CPI proposal is unpopular across the political spectrum. Fifty-six percent of Republicans, along with 67 percent of Democrats and 46 percent of independents, said they thought the proposal was a bad idea. Older Americans were most likely to oppose the measure, with 77 percent of those age 65 and older saying that the proposal was a bad idea. Adults under 30 were the least likely to have an opinion: 50 percent said they weren't sure whether the proposal was a good or bad idea, while 21 percent said it was a good idea and 29 percent said it was a bad idea.

    How much higher do you think the opposition would be if the public was told the truth. What if rather than being told that it is merely a technical tweek, they were told that this adjustment would cut Social Security, veterans and government pensions and raise taxes across the board and hit the middle class and the working poor very hard.

    How about if they explained that if people eliminate a higher priced item their benefit goes down, then when they eliminate the replacement item because they can no longer afford it, their benefit goes down once again. This cycle of forcing people to eliminate food items due to reduced benefits resulting in further benefit reduction will continue until nothing will be affordable.    


    Here is Erza Klein, a person well known for (5.00 / 2) (#81)
    by MO Blue on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 02:54:08 PM EST
    (using your standards) spending a lot of time talking about what's wrong, dishonest or otherwise dastardly about Obama and the Dems.

    The trick Washington is using to cut Social Security and Medicare

    The only reason we're considering moving to chained-CPI because it saves money, and it saves money by cutting Social Security benefits and raising taxes, and it's a much more regressive approach to cutting Social Security benefits and raising taxes than some of the other options on the table.

    The question worth asking, then, is if we want to cut Social Security benefits, why are we talking about chained-CPI, rather than some other approach to cutting benefits that's perhaps more equitable? The answer is that chained-CPI's role in correcting inflation measurement error is helpful in distracting people from its role in cutting Social Security benefits. Politicians who are unwilling or unable to offer a persuasive political or policy rationale for cutting Social Security benefits are instead hiding behind a technocratic rationale. We're not "cutting benefits," we're "correcting our inflation measure."

    A similar dynamic is behind the popularity of raising the retirement age, or the Medicare eligibility age: Its advocates can pretend that it's not a cut, but a technical adjustment made to account for the fact that Americans are living longer. Compared to other approaches to cutting benefits, raising the retirement age is, again, a substantively unwise, regressive approach. But it can be justified as a mere technocratic tweak.

    He goes on to say that this is bad policymaking.  What are our priorities? Do we want to make health-care system more efficient? Do we want total deficit-reduction? We need to find the policy that does the best job achieving those goals.

    The effort to mask cuts in technical adjustments just leads to worse cuts, as the top priority isn't protecting the poorest or improving the program, but finding a policy sufficiently confusing that you can pass it before most people realize what it is.

    How about Charlie Pierce giving his opinion (5.00 / 3) (#90)
    by MO Blue on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 03:29:01 PM EST
    ...The Democrats, led by the president, who never is going to need to depend on Social Security, are prepared to concede on an issue that has absolutely nothing to do with the deficit. They are going to make life harder for millions of seniors. Social Security is now squarely "on the table" in any future budget negotiation. (Hey, who unplugged the third rail?) The simplest solution -- raising the cap -- is beyond discussion, now and forever. The "chained-CPI," which is a terrible idea on its own merits, as well as a piece of noxious moral sleight-of-hand, seeing as how it cuts benefits while pretending not to do so, is being adopted whole hog without a corresponding mechanism to raise more Social Security revenue to make up for the loss. If the president maintains his faith in the great god SimpsonBowles, the old folks will get a bump for only two years after the deal takes effect. Swell.
    Quite honestly, the president's willingness to tinker this way with Social Security marks his presidency in a way that nothing else ever will. There is no economic need to do this to Social Security at all......we all know that "entitlements" need to be reformed because everybody this president considers his primary constituencies say they must. It sets the stage for more concessions down the line by any Democratic president who doesn't possess the political momentum that the current president seems hellbent on squandering.

    Grand Bargain Sellout - The Grand Sellout Emerges


    You fight harder, smarter, funnier (5.00 / 4) (#60)
    by Dadler on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 01:22:10 PM EST
    And you take the OBVIOUS, LOGICAL, MORE POWERFUL CASE to the American people, every night, night after night, and you challenge the opposition face to face, every night, night after night, and you make them turn down what you have already presented as the most sane and logical and historically and factually proven route to fiat economy prosperity.  You are under this severely inane impression that Obama has forcefully and unsparingly and passionately fought for those who need it the most, in the matter that is the most truthful.

    We live in a fiat economy, using blips and trinkets of no other use or value. IOW, it's a big game. And right now it's a rigged and corrupt as ever.  We are going to fix the game, make it fair, and establish a humane and generous floor that provides work if necessary -- while still allowing wealth to be acquired through any number of means. This humane and generous floor which provides work if necessary means that the game is never so cheated that society falls apart.

    That is the one thing about fixing a fiat economy that is not hard to figure out. The will to adhere to the simple truth of a fair game for all is another story.

    A healthy fiat economy requires one thing from everyone: don't be an as*hole. And that means you don't let degenerate money addicted as*holes run the rigged game.

    It's the phucking Golden Rule, all the rest is yapping commentary.



    I believe (none / 0) (#63)
    by AngryBlackGuy on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 01:33:32 PM EST
    That Obama has spent almost every day since the election doing this.  He's been barnstorming on this constantly.

    You're deluded ABG (5.00 / 4) (#68)
    by MyLeftMind on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 01:48:06 PM EST
    Obama is a plutocrat who is compelled to pretend he cares about the average American because he can't achieve his goals without us. He "evolved" on gay rights because he needed gay votes and money to get reelected. But I don't believe for a minute that he truly cares about equality. He's not a struggling politician trying to do what's right, he's a deceitful man who is finding it politically expedient right now to pretend to care about the middle class.

    It's all smoke and mirrors. If we want reform that helps the middle and lower classes, we need to demand it, not sit around "hoping" Obama cuts a deal with the other decision maker, Boehner.

    Let the Republicans raise our taxes. Don't cut a sweetheart deal for the super rich. We don't need our president's "negotiations." Let's see how screwing the middle and working classes plays out if the Republicans take us over the cliff. Bye bye to Republicans in 2014.


    Oy (5.00 / 2) (#73)
    by sj on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 02:05:36 PM EST
    He has been brainstorming the country (5.00 / 3) (#83)
    by MO Blue on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 03:00:45 PM EST
    selling tax increases for people making over $200,000 or $250,000. Please provide me with a link where he tells people in any of those meetings that he wants to change how we compute the costs of living to reduce their benefits and raise their taxes.

    In which venue did he say, "You know I have been telling everyone for years that I would not raise taxes for people making under $200,000 or couples making under $250,000 but now I have changed my mind. My current plan will raise taxes on everyone even the working poor."


    This again? We're back to (5.00 / 7) (#82)
    by Anne on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 02:56:52 PM EST
    "we're helpless and have no choice but to give in and let the GOP have what it wants?"?

    You do understand, don't you,  that both sides already agree on the basic framework, the difference being that Obama apparently wants to slow-walk the changes to the safety net (see: "frogs who don't realize they are being boiled alive") and Boehner would prefer to get everything upfront?

    I guess what just galls me so is your willingness to sacrifice the well-being and quality of life of millions of people who have already worked their entire lives, paid into a system they thought would support them in their old age, not to mention the lives of countless others working multiple part-time jobs and still not making enough money to afford insurance or health care for their children.  And then there are the disabled, and the veterans.

    The worst part about this whole thing is the manufactured nature of it all, a crisis complete with a catchy name - the fiscal cliff - that is so easily spouted by media and political types without their ever having to have any understanding of it or willingness to even attempt to dig deep and explain it.  Can't do that - it might let the cat out of the bag, and then what would the powers-that-be do?

    These damned politicians act as if there is nothing they can do to prevent sequestration, when anyone with minimal brain wattage knows that of course there are things they can do - they can just undo it, for crying out loud.  But that doesn't serve the real agenda, so no one will mention it.

    You've asked and many have responded to your disingenuous questions: safety net programs do not belong on the table, there is no "middle ground" when discussing cuts to benefits, and the opposition is not the powerful juggernaut you're making them out to be.  For crying out loud, they lost, they're weakened and vulnerable.  If we had leadership that believed in the safety net - and when I say "believed" I mean "doesn't think benefit decreases are a good thing" - and when I say "leadership," I don't mean "saying what the people want to hear while planning to pull the rug out from under them" - we might not be having this conversation.

    In my humble opinion, we need to be asking more of our leaders, not allowing them to do less and finding excuses why that's okay.


    Middle Ground?????? (5.00 / 9) (#29)
    by MO Blue on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 11:14:18 AM EST

    Meanwhile, Republicans give up tax rates that were going up anyway, an unemployment extension that they have yet to fail to pass, and a bit of infrastructure. That's it, in exchange for cuts that will put discretionary spending well below traditional levels, cut Social Security benefits and basically ensure smaller government through caps and cuts.

    ABG how many more people are you (5.00 / 9) (#36)
    by MO Blue on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 11:46:15 AM EST
    willing to push into poverty so that you and Obama can say he made a "Grand Bargain."

    BTW, Obama has been promoting cuts to Social Security and the other safety net programs since 2007. This is not something the Republicans have forced him into. This is something he willingly volunteered to do even before he assumed office. He has also assisted in setting up the conditions to make it possible.


    Mike Lux - This Deal Would Stink (5.00 / 1) (#42)
    by MO Blue on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 12:23:42 PM EST
    It is outrageous that Republicans are demanding cuts in Social Security to do this deal, but if the President who ran his entire campaign on fighting for the middle class agrees to it, it would be wrong. It would be bad policy, forcing middle class folks for generations in the future to pay for the tax cuts and wars and bad economic decisions of the Bush years. And it would be politically stupid, beyond the pale stupid- dividing the President from his base and from working class swing voters dependent on Social Security. And this is in a situation where he had all the leverage coming off a strong election victory and taxes scheduled to go up automatically at the end of the year.

    Say it ain't so, Mr. President. And if it is, those of you Democrats who, unlike this President, have to actually run again, I'd strongly recommend a no vote, or you will have lots of seniors and progressives making things tough back home. A deal that hurts seniors, hurts the middle class, and doesn't even get what you want on taxes is a terrible deal. link

    Well, what is the President to do? (5.00 / 6) (#43)
    by KeysDan on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 12:29:21 PM EST
    After all, Boehner is negotiating from a position of weakness, whereas, President Obama is stuck with a position of strength.

    Hey Obama talked tough (5.00 / 6) (#49)
    by MO Blue on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 12:44:54 PM EST
    for a few days. What more can you expect?

    My point (none / 0) (#47)
    by AngryBlackGuy on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 12:40:14 PM EST
    There is a difference between negotiating from a position of strength and being a dictator who can simply tell the opposition what it wants and make it so.

    At some point we will have to look at the list of demands from the GOP and pick some to modify and counter with or to accept.

    I asked repeatedly here what concessions would be acceptable based on what the GOP requests are so that we can set some baseline of a good deal.

    A baseline in a negotiation can't be set on what one side wants entirely. It has to take into account both the positions and bargaining power of the parties.

    The critiques I see are often based on a baseline of the GOP getting nothing it wants and the Dems getting everything they want.

    I don't think discussions with that baseline are practical or productive.

    So what of the asks by the GOP could those here accept?


    Joan McCarter points out something you (5.00 / 4) (#50)
    by MO Blue on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 12:52:41 PM EST
    might want to consider.

    The Republicans are hell bent on chained CPI? Perhaps, but the first time we heard about it was when it was offered up by the White House last year in debt ceiling negotiations. The Republicans might be hell bent for it, but President Obama sure doesn't seem to have a serious problem with it. And one way or another, it seems he's going to get it. If it doesn't happen in this deal, he's setting up--and Durbin is acceding to in this very interview--future Social Security "reforms" that will almost assuredly include it.

    The first time we heard about "fixing" Social Security and the "entitlement programs after the Republican's attempt was soundly defeated in 2005 was when Obama put them on the table in 2007.


    One point, from my perspective, (5.00 / 10) (#84)
    by KeysDan on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 03:01:27 PM EST
    is that we citizens are not part of the negotiation and unqualified support of still fluid and moving positions is not our role, especially when those positions are in direct conflict with not only Democratic and progressive tenets, but expressions recently made by President Obama.

    It was not so long ago that we heard that social security was off the table, the debt ceiling "game" would not be played (again), and tax rates (plural) must go up on incomes above $250,000.

    In November we held elections; if democracy is to have any meaning, at least some of the key and differentiating positions should be honored in the baseline--a baseline that does not needlessly cut social security, Medicare and Medicaid.  We seem to have to act now on social programs to ensure their viability for the next 75 years, so as to get a two-year reprieve on debt ceilings.

    Another, and a most important point,  is the premise of negotiations being needed in the first place, at this time.  I do not know what Democrats should "give up" , other than premature caves so as to please Boehner and help him keep his job, but I do know that we do not have to negotiate with him before the end of the year.

    If all the Bush-era tax cuts expire, we get $4 trillion.  Many problems solved. New problems (higher taxes) would be better than longer term damage. And, it would not take a  dictator to get Congress to pass a stand-alone law that gives a tax cut to those who make under $250,000.  And, the sequester can be remedied over time, where needed (these negotiations, would apparently not fully satisfy the sequestration anyway).


    Kudos Dan (5.00 / 1) (#86)
    by MO Blue on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 03:13:12 PM EST
    This probably the best comment in this thread on the subject.

    YES. I object to the whole (5.00 / 3) (#88)
    by ruffian on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 03:25:14 PM EST
    'fiscal cliff' framework that we have to handle the tax cut extensions and the sequestration nonsense in the same deal. In fact linking them makes the progressive negotiating position worse - which is probably why the beltway pols, including the POTUS, insist on doing it.

    I honestly don't care (5.00 / 3) (#128)
    by Amiss on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 09:40:57 PM EST
    what they are "willing" to accept. I am a senior, I live on, no, I exist on Social Security. Those obstructionists of the past 4 years DO NOT DESERVE another 4 years of "getting what they want" because I worked hard all of my life and now that I am no longer able to, we have a spineless President that I stood in line for 8 hours to vote for because he campaigned on one thing and in reality he never intended to keep even one promise he made to the very people that worked so hard to put him there.
    I have already given up more than any person should, and you know what? I "am NOT WILLING" to give up another damn thing.

    No (5.00 / 1) (#44)
    by sj on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 12:32:52 PM EST
    Why is middle ground more important than the actual, you know, lives?

    Because (none / 0) (#48)
    by AngryBlackGuy on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 12:41:49 PM EST
    The opposition believes that it's policies are more effective at saving lives, and because we have no method of convincing them otherwise, a compromise between two parties that each believe they have the better path is necessary.

    pffffttt (5.00 / 4) (#52)
    by sj on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 12:53:57 PM EST
    This is such cr@p, ABG.  Who cares if the opposition is convinced otherwise?  They just need to be overcome.  That takes political skills.  

    Instead they get carrots and cookies dangled in front of them and are wheedled and cajoled into reluctantly accepting what they wanted in the first place.

    Apparently it is the opposition that has the the political skills.


    How do we overcome them (none / 0) (#53)
    by AngryBlackGuy on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 12:57:03 PM EST
    Here in real life where they control congress and the elected congressmen are from districts that believe as they do.

    Seriously, what is the approach that you suggest?


    I'm tired of talking to you (5.00 / 2) (#54)
    by sj on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 12:58:09 PM EST
    You have as much reading comprehension skills as Obama has negotiating skills.

    You Mean the House... (5.00 / 5) (#56)
    by ScottW714 on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 01:05:39 PM EST
    ...as long as you are so bent on the real life and all.

    As long as they can get away with... (5.00 / 2) (#137)
    by unitron on Wed Dec 19, 2012 at 06:12:35 AM EST
    ...threatening filibusters and never being made to put up or shut up, they control both houses.

    I do mean the House (none / 0) (#113)
    by AngryBlackGuy on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 05:45:17 PM EST
    Well, no need for me to beat this dead horse.  I understand that I am in the minority here.

    Trying to keep my posting privileges and I can't seem to communicate my point effectively.


    Re: the House, (5.00 / 2) (#114)
    by shoephone on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 05:58:08 PM EST
    Pelosi has told Mrs. Greenspan today, "Democrats will stick with the president."
    So, regardless of what Boehner insists upon, regardless of what Obama agrees to, she says the Dems will follow along. That doesn't give me any comfort. I'd rather the caucus listen to Keith Ellison, who has stated the truth, which is that chained CPI is a disaster in the making.

    And you, like others who support whatever it takes for Obama to "make a deal" and claim a win on this, have still not explained why social security is even part of the "fiscal cliff" discussion... considering that SS is not part of the budget, and therefore, is not contributing to the budget deficit. Please tell me why SSI recipients whould have to suffer cuts when this program has not one thing to do with the budget deficit. I'm still waiting for someone to answer that question.


    Nothing ever changes in this (5.00 / 2) (#132)
    by MO Blue on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 10:30:45 PM EST
    theater performance. Pelosi and the others in Dem leadership start out declaring that they will protect the public from cuts to safety net programs. They will save us from the horrors that the Republicans want to inflict on us. Then all of a sudden Obama agrees to everything the Republicans want and throws a few more horrors into the pot for good measure and Pelosi and Dem leadership in both Houses of Congress come out in support of these policies.

    Personally I'm tired of the game they play.


    I find it strange (5.00 / 7) (#61)
    by MyLeftMind on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 01:30:39 PM EST
    that we may be about to experience massive change to public policies that could negatively impact the lives of millions of people and even affect the world economy, yet there are only two men, Obama and Boehner, negotiating these changes. And we're stuck depending on the guy who doesn't have to worry about reelection.

    Some democracy we have.


    It is real hard to convince the Republicans (5.00 / 3) (#65)
    by MO Blue on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 01:37:44 PM EST
    when the Democratic  president wants many of the same deficit reductions they do and has shown on more than one occasion that he is more than willing to give everything that they want and more. His only real demand is that Congress does something that gives the appearance that the rich will make a sacrifice. What a laugh.  The rich will take a few pennies out of their petty cash drawer and even those pennies will probably be given back to them when Obama "fast tracks" tax reform legislation that Obama's senior advisor said would produce lower rates, even potentially for the wealthiest.

    Obama makes a liar out of Biden. (5.00 / 6) (#106)
    by caseyOR on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 05:24:00 PM EST
    During the recent presidential campaign, (you all remember the campaign right?)  Joe Biden, speaking with people at a Virginia diner made the following statement:

    "Hey, by the way, let's talk about Social Security," Biden said after a diner at The Coffee Break Cafe in Stuart, VA expressed his relief that the Obama campaign wasn't talking about changing the popular entitlement program.
    "Number one, I guarantee you, flat guarantee you, there will be no changes in Social Security," Biden said, per a pool report. "I flat guarantee you."

    Now, we all knew even in August that the Bush tax cuts were scheduled to end. We all knew about the stupid sequestration deal Congress had made. We all knew Obama and Boehner would engage in some form of deal-making over the fiscal slope. Since we all knew these things last August, surely Biden knew them when he made the above promise.

    So, hey WTF! Obama. Your campaign promised us you would not f*ck with Social Security. So, once again I ask WTF!

    h/t Digby


    You are so full of it. (none / 0) (#129)
    by Amiss on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 09:43:23 PM EST

    Sequestration (none / 0) (#51)
    by CoralGables on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 12:52:51 PM EST
    is expected to cost up to 2.14 million jobs; 2 million others expected to lose unemployment benefits; and those on the lower half of the median income scale will be hit much harder by taxes than those at the top if there is no deal. That's why many see a search for middle ground as important.

    Whether the middle ground they hope to find is better than the above alternative is the choice facing lawmakers.


    I still don't see (4.33 / 3) (#59)
    by sj on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 01:21:50 PM EST
    How middle ground is more important than lives.  But that reflects my priorities which are just far, far away from Obama's -- who is a self-described moderate Republican circa 1980.

    Which lives? (none / 0) (#64)
    by vicndabx on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 01:34:21 PM EST
    the 4 million + lives just spelled out above that will be impacted now, or the unknown number that may be impacted later (assuming some future Congress doesn't change things)?

    Oh, I fully expect Congress to change things (5.00 / 1) (#75)
    by sj on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 02:12:36 PM EST
    (assuming some future Congress doesn't change things)?

    But I doubt it will be for the better.  That has not been the trend for many, many years now.

    Maybe highlighting more of the areas that (5.00 / 2) (#13)
    by MO Blue on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 10:04:15 AM EST
    this "chained CPI" would effect is a good idea.

    Reducing Social Security benefits, veteran benefits, government pensions are some of those normally talked about but here are a few others.

    The new index could reduce the number of people eligible for programs such as Medicaid, Head Start, food stamps, school lunches and home heating assistance.

    If the so called protection is modeled after that provided in the Bowles/Simpson report, here is some relevant data:

    The Bowles-Simpson bump-up would restore her monthly benefits to current-law levels for only two years - and then her benefits would fall behind again.

    The report also explains that the bump-up would provide no relief to most of the poorest elders who rely on Supplemental Security Income (SSI). SSI beneficiaries would get a double hit from the chained CPI, because it is used to adjust both the initial benefit level and subsequent benefits. But every additional $1 in Social Security benefits reduces SSI benefits by $1 - so a small increase from the bump-up would provide no additional income to most SSI beneficiaries. And some SSI beneficiaries could be even worse off, if the bump-up in their Social Security benefits pushed them slightly above the SSI eligibility threshold - and they lost automatic Medicaid eligibility.

    People disabled at an early age also would be severely impacted by the chained CPI. The Bowles-Simpson 20-year bump-up would apply to recipients of disability benefits, starting 20 years after the disability determination. But some proposals for a "birthday bump-up," such as the proposal in the Rivlin-Domenici deficit reduction plan, would provide no help to recipients of disability benefits. link

    It also raises taxes on the poor and the middle class. The biggest impact will be on families making $30,000 to $40,000 but people with much lower incomes will see their taxes increase. So much for Obama's promise not to raise taxes on anyone making less than $200,000.


    But, Blue, (5.00 / 3) (#21)
    by KeysDan on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 10:29:19 AM EST
    you make a case for the "beauty" of chained CPI for social security.  It is difficult for many to understand, and it will not be noticeable until many of the political players are out of office.  And, it is a way to make a fast deal and head on home for Christmas.

    There is no way that any plan or idea or (5.00 / 5) (#25)
    by Anne on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 10:40:06 AM EST
    proposal that has the imprimatur of the man who views those receiving benefits from safety net programs as "sucking on the government teat" is going to do one thing to safeguard, much less improve, the quality of those lives.

    Not in a million years.

    First, they weaken the safety net, then they use the weakness as an argument for why it needs to be privatized to one degree or another.  A lot of people will make huge amounts of money as a result, but none of them will be those receiving benefits.

    Where will the private sector be when state after state after state is staring at rising numbers of individuals who cannot subsist on whatever is being paid out by what used to be safety net programs?

    They'll be counting their money.

    Golly, where have we seen this before?


    This is the real reason for these (5.00 / 6) (#28)
    by MO Blue on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 10:46:28 AM EST
    cuts to the safety net programs.

    First, they weaken the safety net, then they use the weakness as an argument for why it needs to be privatized to one degree or another.  A lot of people will make huge amounts of money as a result, but none of them will be those receiving benefits.

    More about the chained CPI (5.00 / 3) (#22)
    by MO Blue on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 10:33:42 AM EST
    As a government agency explains, "Pork and beef are two separate CPI item categories. If the price of pork increases while the price of beef does not, consumers might shift away from pork to beef." So if people can no longer afford pork, they're spending less. Under a chained-CPI approach cost of living adjustments (COLAs) would then go down.
    How would this work for Social Security? Let's see: If old people stop buying pork their "chained CPI" benefit will go down. If that forces them to live on catfood, their benefit goes down again. And if that forces them to switch to the local supermarket's cheap generic brand instead of the tastier cat foods (Fancy Feast's "Grilled" line was my late cat's favorite), benefits would go down even more.

    It's a death spiral. Soon we'll be calculating the cost of survival, not the cost of living. It's a process that leads nowhere but down, until even survival is factored out of the equation. link

    The approach (none / 0) (#8)
    by CoralGables on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 09:41:45 AM EST
    has been put forward by The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities which is considered a liberal think tank.

    A balanced deal, (none / 0) (#1)
    by KeysDan on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 09:13:44 AM EST
    ready to go, requires some  re-assembly. David A. Super, NYT op ed.

    It is a shame that Obama does (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by MO Blue on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 09:25:52 AM EST
    not agree with that article and wants a "deal" to cut domestic and safety net programs, further reduce eligibility to needed poverty programs and raise taxes on the poor and the middle class.

    Krugman's Take (none / 0) (#2)
    by AngryBlackGuy on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 09:21:48 AM EST
    Not as bad as he feared, but not great.  He's not taking a position either way, but acknowledges that this would be a tough pill to swallow.

    I actually think this deal is better than going off the cliff. If we can get this, I won't be thrilled but I think Obama will have done a decent job of negotiating with psychopaths.

    Krugman here.

    This is just in the initial stages of the (5.00 / 3) (#6)
    by MO Blue on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 09:37:40 AM EST

    Everyone is taking pains to point out that this is just the beginning of what Obama is prepared to offer. Boehner has said that this is still not enough.

    There are still plenty of disputes to iron out. And people familiar with Obama's proposal were careful not to describe it as his final offer.

    Even in this offer there are to be additional "savings" (i.e. 1/2 a trillion dollars in cuts ) to social insurance programs next year.

    Instead Boehner has agreed to pony up even more revenue, and a couple extra goodies for President Obama, in exchange for a real up front Social Security cut and a promise of major social insurance savings next year
    I don't think it's quite so black and white for Democrats. Everyone (including Republicans) knows Obama could have netted nearly a $1 trillion in revenues without offering Boehner anything. On top of that, though, he's prepared to pony up chained CPI and about half a trillion in future, unspecified cuts to social programs

    Let me repeat that one sentence:

    Everyone (including Republicans) knows Obama could have netted nearly a $1 trillion in revenues without offering Boehner anything

    Lets be fair to Krugman (5.00 / 4) (#10)
    by MO Blue on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 09:42:27 AM EST
    He said that these cuts "are a very bad thing" but not quite as bad as raising the eligibility age on Medicare.

    It's not clear that going over the cliff would yield something better; on the other hand, those benefit cuts are really bad.

    It seems, to me, (5.00 / 6) (#15)
    by KeysDan on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 10:14:54 AM EST
    that Peter Peterson and his economic thugs are having their way in this deal.  The cuts to social security, by way of the chained CPI,  will not even help social security--the Trustees have reported that the fund will be able to pay 100 percent of benefits up to about 2033 (and then about 75%)  but the "savings" from the experimental substitution theory of cost of living indexing is not likely to accrue to social security, as  it is a part of a budget deal.

     President Obama, during the campaign, indicated that he was (once again) open to removing the cap, or organizing a donut hole and cap to finance the program's future.  And, of course, social programs are still on the table of the near future.  

    President Obama and the Democrats criticized, and rightly so, Romney and Ryan for not specifying the cuts they intended, and now the President and Democrats are doing the same.  And, where is the fair share?  And what about those estate taxes?   All of this, when it is really unnecessary to accomplish  such serious matters in the lame duck days a few days before adjournment.


    GOP appears to be balking (none / 0) (#3)
    by CoralGables on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 09:25:51 AM EST
    and the House is moving to plan B today which is to leave the Bush tax breaks in place for everyone under $1 million in earned income, rather than voting on the Senate Bill of letting the breaks expire for those over $250,000.

    The President's plan, (5.00 / 2) (#27)
    by KeysDan on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 10:42:30 AM EST
    is to permanently  extend Bush-era tax cuts on incomes below $400,000, (a change from the $250,000)  meaning that only the top tax bracket , 35 percent , would rise to 39.6 percent.   Apparently, Boehner is still holding out for that $1 million.  

    why go from 250,000 to 400,000 (5.00 / 1) (#95)
    by Peter G on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 04:03:37 PM EST
    with no recriprocal movement by Boehner? Why is the next step above 250,000 not 300,000?

    I am a cynical being (5.00 / 1) (#98)
    by sj on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 04:39:07 PM EST
    Why is the next step above 250,000 not 300,000?
    Maybe because it gets him to where he really wants to be quicker than a smaller step does?

    IMO Obama will be very flexible (5.00 / 2) (#101)
    by MO Blue on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 04:56:15 PM EST
    on the dollar amount on the salary range. The objective IMO is to be able to say that this is a balanced deal and the rich are going to share in the pain (BS of course).

    He has basically told people that they would be surprised at how much he was willing to give up on domestic and safety net programs if the Republicans would give a little on the tax issue.


    To me it looks like Obama is (none / 0) (#96)
    by observed on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 04:09:56 PM EST
    back to playing N. Chamberlain.
    The twist is that he figured if he made a strong public stance against caving, and THEN gave in, he would come across as a stronger negotiator.

    I would guess because (none / 0) (#102)
    by CoralGables on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 05:02:00 PM EST
    it looks like it also caps deductions (likely not including charity); re-institutes the estate tax (I think at 45% over $4 million); increases the tax on capital gains from 15% to 20%, and kept Medicare and Medicaid benefits off the table.

    Which may explain why combined with the chained CPI this potential deal has united the far right and the far left as political bed partners in wanting to jump the cliff.


    When it comes to the chained CPI, (5.00 / 2) (#136)
    by MO Blue on Wed Dec 19, 2012 at 05:58:30 AM EST
    fifty-six percent of Republicans, along with 67 percent of Democrats and 46 percent of independents are evidently the "far" left due to their opposition to the proposal.



    Guardian of the Gates of Hell, Cerberus (none / 0) (#9)
    by Mr Natural on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 09:41:51 AM EST
    Capital, selling its [consumer] gun companies.

    "a buyer will be hard to find."

    Not a mention, of course, of their continuing ownership of DynCorp International.

    Gun manufacturer stocks (none / 0) (#30)
    by CoralGables on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 11:15:14 AM EST
    continue to plummet today after Cerberus Capital Management says they will sell off their ownership in the private company (Freedom Group) that owns Bushmaster.

    Sometimes it takes being hit close to home. The father of the Cerberus CEO lives in Newtown.

    From an Article About the Cerberus Capital (5.00 / 1) (#37)
    by ScottW714 on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 11:48:56 AM EST
    ... withdrawal from Freedom Group.

    Officials said the rifle was purchased legally by Lanza's mother, Nancy, in 2010, well after family friends said Lanza's behavioral issues were clear. The same year Bushmaster ran an advertising campaign extolling its customers to buy their assault-style weapons to prove they're a "Man's Man" in a "world of depleting testosterone."

    That pretty much sums up America, guns are machismo.  It's why the movies and video games are all liking guns to masculinity, even for women, because without it you are nothing.  They aren't the problem, it us as a Nation who have forever connected guns and vengeance to self worth.  The 'never back down' mentality that is cheered on from wars to silly late night altercations.


    although I have no quibbles with the rest of what you write. And it's not just guns, it's cars & motorcycles, sports, beer, etc., etc.

    Totally Agree (none / 0) (#58)
    by ScottW714 on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 01:15:58 PM EST
    I only mentioned the one because it's the one that is in discussion right now.

    Trust me as a resident of Texas, the one I see most is gigantic trucks owned by city slickers.  I sat in traffic last night wondering how someone boards a truck whose floor boards were no less than 4 feet off the ground.

    I kept thinking how does this guy date, obviously the truck was meant as some uber-masculine show which I assume is to get girls attention.  So how does he take them out, even me at 6'3" couldn't imagine how I could get into his truck.


    is he Kimber who modified (none / 0) (#127)
    by fishcamp on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 09:16:15 PM EST
    the Colt 45 and invented many Kimber rifles?  Kimber lives in Newtown.

    Stephen Feinberg (none / 0) (#130)
    by CoralGables on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 09:49:15 PM EST
    Not a gun manufacturer just the head of the private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management that buys up companies they expect will be profitable for their investors. Not unlike a small Warren Buffett, but running a private rather than a publicly traded company like Berkshire.

    It would be interesting to know how the investors take this, because it was estimated today that advertising that they are dumping Freedom Group is likely to cost the equity firm about 20% of the value on the sale as they look to divest their 94% share.

    These are a few of the companies they had bought and combined as Freedom Group:
    Remington, Bushmaster Firearms, DPMS/Panther Arms, The Parker Gun, Advanced Armament Corp, Dakota Arms, and Barnes Bullets.

    Freedom Group makes up their entire portfolio that deals with armaments and it was a small part of the overall Cerberus portfolio.


    Great concernt last weekend in L.A. (none / 0) (#31)
    by Dadler on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 11:31:11 AM EST
    Parov Stelar at Club Nokia (link). The King of ElectroSwing on his first American jaunt. Insane beats from Markus and horns from hell courtesy of Max the Sax and Jerry DiMonza. If they ever come back with the full band (link), I recommend them to anyone who wants to have a groovin' good time.

    Yves Smith (none / 0) (#32)
    by MO Blue on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 11:31:31 AM EST
    Stealth Target of Defense Spending Cuts: America's Highly Effective Socialized Medicine Provider, the VA System, and Military Benefits Generally

    Instead of using the current government-contracted HMO/PPO model, called TriCare, military personnel and their families would receive health care vouchers allowing them to either purchase whatever health care plan they chose from an array of private sector providers. Instead of earning defined retirement benefits - pensions - soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines would each pay into privately held 401K programs - or simply take a lump sum of cash. In a win-win for corporate advocates, cuts to what they call the "excessive" and "burdensome" human side of the military will simultaneously fund greater spending on expensive weapons and communications systems. And under the pretext of providing "choice" to military personnel, the programs decrease total benefits and increase private sector access to government funds and the money of military personnel.

    Though I am against this personally (5.00 / 1) (#66)
    by ruffian on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 01:40:55 PM EST
    I look forward to seeing the reactions of various rightie veteran friends. Whenever I bring up that vets seem to be pretty happy with their government provided services they tell me how horrible they really are, etc. We'll see if there is a large outcry about this.

    I can already tell you their response already (5.00 / 1) (#70)
    by Militarytracy on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 02:00:09 PM EST
    Obama did it.  If it happens he will have been responsible for it all and all the Republicans who pushed for this will never be acknowledged, not ever.

    If you argue with them today that Republican leaders are pushing for this they will only reply that it will take Obama's signature to make it so therefore it is all his fault how this turns out.


    Lots of alreadys...sorry :) (none / 0) (#72)
    by Militarytracy on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 02:03:18 PM EST
    I just get frustrated talking to any of them.  One of my crazy gunfreak cousins has posted all sorts of crap today about how some kids from Connecticut are on a field trip to heaven and their principal is taking care of them, and another bit about how there are new angels. Magical thinking that makes his way of thinking okay.  Course it wasn't his kids sent on a magical field trip where they get wings. I'm just full up of winger shit today.

    Ugh (5.00 / 1) (#79)
    by ruffian on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 02:35:34 PM EST
    I would go ballistic over that one

    OK, horrible choice of words on my part. (5.00 / 1) (#80)
    by ruffian on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 02:36:44 PM EST
    I think there's alot of denialism on this blog (none / 0) (#33)
    by Slayersrezo on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 11:33:21 AM EST
    Not only by some about how bad and corrupt the Democrats are now that you've effectively not punished them for stabbing you in the back before, but just how precarious the world financial situation and the United State's really is.

    At some point in the next ten years there will either be a worldwide debt forgiveness or there will be mass printing of money to the extent that people lose faith in it and thus the US economy will collapse that way. It's one or the other. People here that are near retirement may not like to hear that, but -oh, well.

    And note, I'm not claiming that what the Republicans want - and the Democrats are going along with- will save social security. Only the actual taking of some haircuts by both large and small players the world over will do that. Otherwise granny will go down as the economy goes down and only the rich with their private islands and armed guards and ability to flee to antartica or a bunker somewhere in a silo in the midwest will be spared the ensuing chaos.

    The only way printing of money fails (5.00 / 1) (#38)
    by Dadler on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 11:56:56 AM EST
    Fiat currency is a game. We have a game with rules only for small players. IOW, it is a corrupt, rigged game. So...if you print tons of money and simply chuck it into the forces of that rigged game, then yes, it will collapse. But if you actually equally enforce the rules of a free and fair game for all, that establishes a generous and humane floor as its first priority (while maintaining the ability to get wealthy through any number of ways) then that printed money serves as equitably distributed game pieces used in a fair game that retains humanity and decency for that game's "losers."

    It ain't rocket science. The secret to a fiat economy is don't be an as*hole and don't let degenerate as*hole money addicts run the game.

    People don't lose faith in money, it is a thing and can have no human qualities except those WE project onto it. We lose faith in each other.  And that only happens because of two things: natural disasters or people with power screwing people without.

    It's all the phucking Golden Rule, everything else us yapping commentary.  And usually a con.




    Everything else IS yapping commentary (5.00 / 2) (#39)
    by Dadler on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 11:58:43 AM EST
    Proofread, sigh.

    And I agree with your comment about denial of just how corrupt the Dem party is, as well.


    Are you for real? (4.20 / 5) (#69)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 01:53:30 PM EST
    Slayerzero: "... Not only by some about how bad and corrupt the Democrats are now that you've effectively not punished them for stabbing you in the back before, but just how precarious the world financial situation and the United State's really is."

    Seriously. Are you?

    Because to be perfectly blunt, your side lost this argument a dozen years ago when they cut taxes, before doubling federal spending and entering into a very expensive war of choice in Iraq -- and thus they squandered the surplus, ran up the national debt more than twofold in only eight years, and placed the country on on a ruinous trajectory to run up even more.

    Your side has no credibility anymore when it comes discussions about paying off debt and balancing budgets and reining in spending, Zero. Don't you get that, at long last?

    Now, it may well be that you're right about "just how precarious the world financial financial situation and the United States' really is[,]" not unlike how a broken dial clock can still tell the correct time twice daily. I happen to think that you're demonstrating a talent for stating the obvious, because most of us here are in fact quite acutely aware of the present economic circumstances.

    But even if you are right, given your obvious political bent, you're really not the guy to be lecturing us about that, Zero -- don't you see?

    You want to talk about political ethics and corruption? Why, your precious GOP hasn't played it straight since Mr. Lincoln was shot 147 years ago. Would like me to tell you what damage the Crédit Mobilier scandal of 1872 did to this country's economy during the halcyon days of the Grant administration? Ever heard of Teapot Dome? Watergate? Iran-Contra?

    Look, I've never hidden or denied my partisan leanings, and I'm also not afraid to admit publicly that we Democrats certainly are not perfect. We have our quirks and faults and problems, and yes, we can phuque things up sometimes, same as everybody else in this life. Nor do I hesitate to criticize my own side if I feel it's so warranted. And all you have to do is read up- and downthread in this particular Open Thread to see others here doing the same.

    It's too bad that you can't see fit to do the same, too. I mean, the best you can muster up right now in terms of even obliquely criticizing Republicans is "I'm not claiming that what the Republicans want - and the Democrats are going along with- will save social security." That's it. And by that, I mean -- that's it?

    So please, don't treat us like we're stupid by waving this thin veil of political independence in our faces like you're some big independent thinker, 'cause you're not. You come here for one primary overarching purpose only -- to criticize the left, take pot shots at Democrats, and then pee on our legs and tell us it's raining.

    Nuf ced. I'm on the road and out of the office for the rest of the day. Aloha.


    Donald (none / 0) (#107)
    by Slayersrezo on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 05:25:18 PM EST
    From now on I am going to refer to you as a Republican.
    That's what you always do to me.
    Let me put this word into your head and see if it finally takes:
    I have repeatedly said again and again that I belong to neither of the two big parties, that they both suck, and that I wish they would both die.

    Now please stop talking about the Republican Boogeymen in your head who make up "my side".


    So as an "independant" ... (5.00 / 4) (#125)
    by Yman on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 08:51:30 PM EST
    ... which candidates have you supported over the past 20 years?

    Denialism isn't just a religion in Africa. (none / 0) (#34)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 11:38:50 AM EST
    That aside, I do agree that there are going to be more big global financial issues in the future.

    I'm surprised Donald (none / 0) (#108)
    by Slayersrezo on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 05:27:45 PM EST
    Didn't disagree with you and call you "crazy" or "Republican".

    But only some of us get the treatment of not even being given our political identity.


    know cuz I can't ever get past the first overwrought sentence or two of his manifestos...

    Got some relief from Newtown (none / 0) (#35)
    by brodie on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 11:42:35 AM EST
    and the Fiscal Cliff coverage last night with the 6th installment of Oliver Stone's Untold History of the U.S. on Showtime.  A fairly good episode on the Kennedy years.  

    A few quibbles:

    1. It suggests a bit much -- unproven by extensive post-election investigations -- to say the 1960 election "may have been stolen."  No -- the Repubs alleged that, but no solid evidence turned up.  Moreover, in southern IL the Rs may have been doing their fair share of stealing, trying to anticipate what Daley might do in Chicago.  But the elections board there -- mostly all Rs -- found no credible evidence sufficient to overturn.

    2. The JFK presidency was not called "Camelot" until post-assassination when Jackie suggested the idea to a reporter, a term no one including JFK or his inner circle ever used to refer to themselves and which Jackie herself would later regret offering.

    3. JFK didn't so much "evolve" in his last year going from cold warrior to peacemaker as he already at the outset was skeptical of military solutions and the military brass mindset, and was a firm proponent of third world anti-colonial movements.  I think he offered the occasional "domino theory" rhetoric for purely domestic political purposes at a time when it was important for pols to show toughness lest they be deemed too soft on communism.  I think he did quickly evolve post-BoP to being extremely skeptical of CIA/Joint Chiefs ideas for the US to flex its muscles around the world -- going from skeptical to distrusting nearly everything they said.

    Still a very good series overall, with LBJ (reversing much of JFK's FP) and Nixon/Vietnam coming up next week.  A great deal of information packed into each episode, both in the narration by Stone and in the fast-paced and interesting visuals. The episodes dealing with Truman and Ike were particularly tough on both those overrated presidents.

    I think we've had this conversation ... (5.00 / 1) (#74)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 02:05:58 PM EST
    ... once before, but it was JFK who sent my father to Vietnam as a senior military advisor to MACV in early 1963, and it was JFK's administration who ordered him to participate in the operational planning that eventually resulted in the successful military coup d'etat against South Vietnamemse President Ngo Dinh Diem and his subsequent summary execution.

    I'm not saying that JFK wasn't evolving, and the real tragedy of his own assassination is that we were denied the opportunity to ever find out one way or another. But honestly, I've never seen much evidence to the effect that he was anything but a rockribbed Cold Warrior. He was different only to the extent that he demonstrated a personal capacity to learn from his mistakes, and not make them twice.



    Re JFK as alleged cold warrior (5.00 / 1) (#85)
    by brodie on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 03:11:23 PM EST
    there are two schools of thought in the JFK research community:  the James Douglass school (author of the outstanding recent book JFK and the Unspeakable) which sees JFK evolving cold warrior to peacemaker along the lines Stone suggests (OS is a big proponent of Douglass' work), and a second school, from longtime researcher Jim DiEugenio (author of the recently released Destiny Betrayed) which depicts JFK more like I describe him -- never much of a cold warrior to begin with let alone a "rockribbed" one.

    Ike (author of the Domino Theory) was a CWior. Nixon, Dulles Bros, Nitze more so; the Joint Chiefs and CIA crazily CWior. McG Bundy, Rusk and McNamara more center/center/right non-crazy CWior. Kennedy rejected the major hawkish advice of many of these people during the missile crisis (a non-CWior decision outcome by JFK) and on Vietnam and Laos (again, a non-combat intervention decision by Kennedy going against his CWior advisers, against most cong'l leader CWiors, and the MSM CWiors like the NYT and Halberstam).

    FUrther on VN, Stone to his credit mentions the key 1951 trip JFK (then in the House) took with his brother Bobby to SE Asia where just in one day Kennedy learned the US should never repeat the mistake of the French in that region.  RFK told Dan Ellsberg in 1967 that JFK never would have sent ground units (i.e. combat) to Nam because of what he'd learned that visit.  Bobby was very firm about that point.

    The 1963 Test Ban Treaty -- opposed initially by the JC, Congress and most of the public -- another non-CWior decision.  Ditto JFK's apparent decision in his final weeks to make it a joint US-USSR effort to go to the Moon.  And his secret diplomatic channel to Castro looking to thaw relations and more -- all against the CW mentality of the time.

    The book JFK and the Unspeakable covers all this.  I'm just starting the Destiny Betrayed book which goes into a good deal of Kennedy's actual rather remarkable liberal FP attitude and decisionmaking, contra most MSM historians and pundits.


    I don't know if you are much of a fiction (none / 0) (#91)
    by caseyOR on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 03:36:35 PM EST
    reader. If so, then I recommend a book I just finished entitled Jack 1939 by Francine Mathews.

    This is a thriller set in 1939 Europe. The Jack in question is Jack Kennedy. Mathews based much of the novel on a tour of Europe that Jack made in real life.

    In this book FDR has information that Hitler is funneling money to the U.S. in an effort to defeat FDR in the 1940 election and ensure that the White House is held by someone less antagonistic to Hitler's goals. Roosevelt, for reasons better discovered by the reader, asks Jack to take on the secret assignment of finding out who is bringing the money into the U.S. Lots of political thriller stuff happens.

    I do read quite a bit of fiction, and I am a fan of the political thriller. So, I liked this book. Having read a lot about Jack Kennedy's life, it was not very hard to see how this scenario could have played out.

    So, if you have an interest in novels loosely based in fact, pick up this book.



    I'm looking next to get my hands (none / 0) (#97)
    by brodie on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 04:10:32 PM EST
    on the new bio of Joe Kennedy by David Nasaw, Patriarch.  He was apparently the first author outside the clan to get access to all JK's papers, and the result -- according to reviews -- is a far more accurate and balanced picture of the father, about whom much nonsense has been written over the years.

    I'd also like to find time to read the massive companion book to the Stone Showtime series.

    A book of fiction about JFK written by an ex-CIA operative -- sounds like a recipe for trouble in some of the personal depictions, and authors have enough trouble as it is in nonfiction getting the facts right in the Kennedy area.  I think I'll stick to nf for the moment.  Plus my detractors already tell me I read enough fiction with my Roswell obsession and similar "fantasy literature" posing as truth ... ; )


    As I said, it is loosely based on real life. (none / 0) (#103)
    by caseyOR on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 05:08:55 PM EST
    The author takes many liberties with the facts of Jack's life. I have come to expect that fiction writers will take great liberties with real life facts.

    I did not know about the biography of Joseph P. Kennedy. I've added it to my list of books to read. Thanks for the tip.


    And all writers (none / 0) (#104)
    by CoralGables on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 05:11:17 PM EST
    write fiction :)

    "rockribbed cold warrior" (none / 0) (#94)
    by sj on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 03:53:20 PM EST
    Yeah, that's probably why Kennedy took the advice of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and made full scale attack upon the Russians during the Cuban missile crisis.

    JFK was virtually alone (5.00 / 1) (#100)
    by brodie on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 04:51:37 PM EST
    among all his advisers nearly all of whom -- military, CIA, cabinet, inner circle -- counseled for tougher military action, and right away.  Even Bobby was early on advocating for an aggressive military response.

    It took far more cojones to not take their advice than to have taken it.

    After the dust settled he told friend Ambassador John K. Galbraith in the Oval Office something like "You wouldn't believe all the lousy advice I was getting."

    It also reminds of that incident where Abe offered a positive on a matter he was contemplating, then went around the Cabinet table to ask members their advice.  Each said they were against it.  Abe said:  "That's seven Noes and one Aye -- the Ayes have it."


    I have a few episodes stored up on Tivo (none / 0) (#67)
    by ruffian on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 01:45:53 PM EST
    I agree  with your take on the series. the couple of episodes I have watched have been so jam packed with interesting visuals and information I realized I needed to really sit down and pay attention when I watched the rest. Will have time over the holiday break to do that.

    There have been a couple of clunky, unproven statements like the ones you mention, but I can filter out the opinion v facts and get a lot out of the series.


    Good to know I'm not (none / 0) (#99)
    by brodie on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 04:40:05 PM EST
    the only one watching this most interesting series, though for sure it's on a premium channel.  Easily one of the most fascinating documentary programs I've seen on the tube.

    Particularly good for Stone's take on Henry Wallace and what might have been in ending WWII in the Pacific and what might not have happened with the Cold War (had a Pres Wallace somehow managed to avoid JFK's fate, as he would have upset some mighty powerful domestic forces).  Also good for the needed corrective on Truman and Ike  (and probably LBJ -- we'll see).


    Lovin' it too... (none / 0) (#105)
    by kdog on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 05:13:46 PM EST
    especially enjoyed learning a little about Henry Wallace...that dude comes off as a prophet!  Nailed all our problems today way back in the 40's.

    Even back then the third party presidential candidate was the best of the bunch...yet still we haven't learned;)


    I see you have (none / 0) (#111)
    by CoralGables on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 05:36:47 PM EST
    a new QB starting on Sunday. I doubt Sanchez will see the field.

    SoCal QBs haven't (none / 0) (#117)
    by brodie on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 06:47:25 PM EST
    been doing well in the NFL lately. Not sure why that is.  I feel bad for Sanchez.

    Was at the USC campus a few days ago and the fountain area reminded me of that scene in The Graduate -- filmed there undoubtedly.


    I like the series too (none / 0) (#122)
    by MKS on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 08:07:10 PM EST
    I thought the same thing about Nos. 1 and 2 in your post....

    LeMay is some piece of work.....He really must have been psychotic, but then again he and the Cheney Republicans would fit right in.

    The focus on the Soviet submarine officer who stopped a launch of a nuke in process was interesting....


    permit may have had a part in stopping the Clackamas, OR, mall shooter:
    Meli earlier told a KGW reporter that he heard three gunshots, and then positioned himself behind a pillar in the mall. Meli said he saw the gunman working on his rifle, pulling a charging handle and hitting the side of the weapon.  

    Meli said he then pulled out his Glock 22 pistol and aimed it at the suspect. But when he saw someone move behind Roberts, Meli decided against firing, concerned he might hit an innocent person.

    Meli also told KGW that Roberts appeared to spot him and that afterward, Meli heard only one more shot, and suspects it was the one Roberts used to kill himself.

    No, from what we are getting here Meli (5.00 / 1) (#89)
    by caseyOR on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 03:25:48 PM EST
    had nothing to do with stopping Roberts.

    What did stop Roberts was both his lack of familiarity with the AR-15 and that the particular gun he had in his hands had not been kept clean and in working order. So, what Meli saw was Roberts hitting the side of the weapon because it had jammed. It was the poor upkeep of the gun that kept Roberts from spraying the mall with bullets and taking more lives.

    Meli  deserves credit and thanks for realizing that if he shot he might hit a bystander and for then refraining from using his weapon. I saw him interviewed on TV. He is a security guard, not at this mall, who hopes to parlay that into a career in law enforcement. He struck me as being a thoughtful and steady young man. If my impression is correct I think he could be a good cop.


    Dunno, it sounds to me like the shooter (none / 0) (#92)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 03:40:45 PM EST
    had a jammed weapon, looked up and saw that Meli had a gun pointed at him, then the shooter cleared his weapon and killed himself.

    I'd certainly give Meli some credit in having to do with the shooter deciding to kill himself instead of continuing to kill others.

    "He was working on his rifle," said Meli.  "He kept pulling the charging handle and hitting the side."

    The break in gunfire allowed Meli to pull out his own gun, but he never took his eyes off the shooter.

    "As I was going down to pull, I saw someone in the back of the Charlotte move, and I knew if I fired and missed, I could hit them," he said.

    Meli took cover inside a nearby store.  He never pulled the trigger.  He stands by that decision.

    "I'm not beating myself up cause I didn't shoot him," said Meli.  "I know after he saw me, I think the last shot he fired was the one he used on himself."

    I don't know what "you're getting there" (none / 0) (#93)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 03:47:37 PM EST
    SITE VIOLATOR! (none / 0) (#135)
    by caseyOR on Wed Dec 19, 2012 at 12:09:39 AM EST
    Red Bottom Shoes has hit several threads.