Thursday Open Thread

It's a travel day for me, here's an open thread, all topics welcome.

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    Obama gives the GOP the finger (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by CoralGables on Thu Feb 20, 2014 at 01:35:02 PM EST
    Shame it took him so long . . . (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by nycstray on Thu Feb 20, 2014 at 01:47:56 PM EST
    I was just reading about that (5.00 / 1) (#13)
    by sj on Thu Feb 20, 2014 at 02:48:11 PM EST
    And, while I completely agree with nystray about this, it is good news. For now anyway.
    Though Obama will drop what is known as "chained-CPI (Consumer Price Index)," what amounts to a reduced calculation of inflation to benefits, in his 2015 budget, it remains on the table if grand bargain talks with Congress ever continue, White.House spokesman Josh Earnest said Thursday.
    As usual, one must remain viligant that what is currently safe remains safe.

    Good news for now regarding SS (5.00 / 4) (#18)
    by MO Blue on Thu Feb 20, 2014 at 03:54:30 PM EST
    More details on what changes might be proposed on Medicare are needed. Per CG's link:

    While the official did not describe in detail how the new spending would be paid for, it will certainly include proposals to eliminate tax breaks that benefit the wealthy, as well as changes to mandatory programs, such as Medicare.

    If the president wants the Senate to retain a Democratic majority, I would recommend that he rethink any changes to Medicare that could help the Republicans in the 2014 elections. The 2014 elections will be challenging enough without a repeat of the 2010 meme of the Democrats want to take your Medicare away.


    Well yeah, there's always that (none / 0) (#16)
    by nycstray on Thu Feb 20, 2014 at 03:31:11 PM EST
    with Obama . .

    Obama federal judge nominations... (5.00 / 3) (#17)
    by Anne on Thu Feb 20, 2014 at 03:53:42 PM EST
    Digby weighs in, with help from MSNBC (yeah, I don't much like using them as a source, but she did, so here goes):

    I wrote about the Michael Boggs nomination to the Federal bench earlier, but it's worth revisiting today as it seems likely to go forward. Remember, it isn't just him, it's three more totally unacceptable neanderthal wingnuts on the federal courts in exchange for a couple of moderates. This is a result of a "painstaking process of negotiations" --- which the president obviously lost.

    The White House has not backed down from the nominations, arguing that the deal was part of a long, painstaking process of negotiations that they don't want to toss out the window. According to The Hill, White House adviser Valerie Jarrett told the Congressional Black Caucus at a meeting in early February that the administration wouldn't be withdrawing the nominations. The Obama administration is also frustrated with what they see as inadequate recognition of the fact that the administration has nominated the most diverse slate of candidates for the federal bench in history -- including one who would be the first openly gay black nominee --and that the Georgia delegation failed to weigh in on the process before the deal over the Georgia nominees was cut.


    It's just inexplicable that he would agree to "deals" in which Republicans get to put more far right ideologues on the court after the previous president already packed it with them to the fullest extent he possibly could. If there is one area in which ideology, temperament and political philosophy simply must be taken seriously, it's this one. If he can't do any better than this, he should leave the seats unfilled and hope his successor is a Democrat who has better negotiating skills.

    Somebody clue me in how it makes any sense at all for a so-called Democrat to nominate someone like Boggs to the federal bench, to a lifetime appointment.  Well, I guess if the Democrat is Obama, and all he's interested in is being able to check categories off a list ("Black? check. Gay? check.  Female?  Got some of those - check), and not in the views of his nominees, I guess it makes sense.  

    No, even at that it makes no sense, none.

    Blue dog, yellow dog.. (5.00 / 2) (#20)
    by unitron on Thu Feb 20, 2014 at 09:40:17 PM EST
    ...I want some "Junkyard Dog" Democrats whose idea of compromise with Republicans is to only rip off one of their legs.

    Think about the judges! Think about the judges (5.00 / 3) (#30)
    by MO Blue on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 08:13:02 AM EST
    You must vote for Obama or you will get conservative judges.

    Oh, wait.


    He's a Georgia Democrat (none / 0) (#31)
    by CoralGables on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 08:32:49 AM EST
    that needs to be approved by 2 Republican Georgia Senators. Such is the way nominations for the bench work in the south.

    Blue-slip process not absolute (5.00 / 3) (#32)
    by MO Blue on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 08:49:48 AM EST
    The blue-slip process is managed at the discretion of the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is currently run by Vermont Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy. Essentially, nominees are only put forth if Senators from a given state return a blue slip indicating their approval. Different chairs have put different levels of emphasis on the process, but Leahy has been fairly strict about respecting the prerogatives of his Republican colleagues-and he told msnbc in November that won't change unless he believes Senate Republicans are abusing it.

    Yet if Republicans aren't abusing the process, the White House's clash with the Georgia delegation's Democrats shows they're certainly using it to their advantage. According to The Daily Report, Obama struck a deal months ago with Georgia's two Republican Senators to put forth a group of judicial nominees to the federal bench in that state.  In September, five Democratic congressmen from Georgia-Reps. Lewis, David Scott, Hank Johnson, John Barrow, and Sanford Bishop - wrote a letter to the White House expressing alarm over the nominees.  

    So, what - Obama's hands were tied? (5.00 / 3) (#36)
    by Anne on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 09:35:52 AM EST
    There was no one else he could have nominated?  Not even one person who would have been slightly less objectionable?

    Oh, wait - that's right - Obama made a deal: he'd nominate someone after getting the approval of the state's Senators to guarantee that nominee a committee vote via the "blue slip" process.

    For those not familiar with the blue slip process, which was started by Patrick Leahy:

    Here's the process. When a nomination or potential nomination is brought forward, the senators from that state are given a blue slip of paper. Leahy's practice is not to put forth a nominee for a committee vote unless both of those senators return their blue slips, indicating their approval of allowing the nomination to go forward. Republicans have taken advantage of Leahy's deference to slow down judicial nominations-in some cases, even for names they have approved in advance.


    ...Leahy won't put a nomination forward without both blue slips. Leahy says he will keep the current blue slip practice in place, but that he won't hesitate to change it if it's abused.

    "I assume no one will abuse the blue slip process like some have abused the use of the filibuster to block judicial nominees on the floor of the Senate," Leahy said in a statement to msnbc. "As long as the blue slip process is not being abused by home state senators, then I will see no reason to change that tradition."

    Gotta love these deals that keep being made, dontcha?  Especially this one, since there's been exactly one nominee approved by the Senate since the nuclear option was eliminated.  One.  Of course, this is probably supposed to be seen as a thing of wonder, considering how little "work" gets done in the Senate.

    Democrats keep being told they have to give up certain things, face certain realities, accept unpalatable compromises - but the one thing, the one thing we were told over and over and over: "it's the courts!"  From the Supreme Court right the way down to the lowest level federal court, electing a Democrat was supposed to mean filling vacancies with left-leaning judges.

    It's bad enough that Republicans are finding ways to refuse to act, even with the filibuster gone, but isn't it worse, really, that the president is nominating judges like this at all?  


    The blue slip process was not started by Leahy (none / 0) (#37)
    by CoralGables on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 10:08:19 AM EST
    it's been around for 100 years. (to avoid exaggeration, 97 years to be exact)

    Yikes! Sorry for the error - I was kind of (5.00 / 2) (#39)
    by Anne on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 10:34:30 AM EST
    skimming through part of the article I was reading.

    I suppose the point is that it's a device used at the discretion of the Judiciary Committee chair - and Leahy seems pretty doctrinaire about it; I wonder what he would consider "abuse," because it kind of seems to me that it can carry much more weight than I think it should have.

    I get that it is the duty of the Senate to "advise" before giving "consent," but I'm not sure that "advise" was ever intended to mean "my way or the highway."

    I think it's instructive to note, in this case, that the Georgia Democratic House members have weighed in on the nomination, and even though the House doesn't get a vote, I don't understand how Obama can ignore the voices of Democrats speaking in opposition.

    Oh, what am I saying - of course he can ignore them; he's been doing it regularly for 5 years now.


    Leahy did not start the blue-slip (5.00 / 2) (#42)
    by MO Blue on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 11:07:02 AM EST
    rule but he chose what rules he would follow. His rules differ greatly from the rules that were followed when G.W. was president and Orin Hatch was Judiciary chair.

    Hatch pretty much ignored the rule and allowed  the committee to movie forward with the nomination without blue-slip approval provided the Administration  engaged in pre-nomination consultation with both of the home-state Senators.


    You're right it can certainly be abused (none / 0) (#40)
    by CoralGables on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 10:47:46 AM EST
    And is. But unless the plan is to go nuclear on every nomination, they still need 60 votes to proceed. That of course is a separate debate.

    The blue-slip rule has been extremely (5.00 / 2) (#41)
    by MO Blue on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 10:48:56 AM EST
    fluid throughout history.

    The blue slip is not a formal Senate rule and can be ignored. Over time, some committee chairs have adhered to it more closely than others.

    The blue-slip rule when G.W. was president and a Republican was Judiciary chair:

    In 2003, for example, when Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) took over as Judiciary chair and George W. Bush was president, Hatch largely abandoned the blue slip rule. According to the Congressional Research Service, "[a] return of a negative blue slip by one or both home-state Senators d[id] not prevent the committee from moving forward with the nomination -- provided that the Administration [] engaged in pre-nomination consultation with both of the home-state Senators," during during Hatch's tenure.

    IOW the blue-slip rule is whatever the chair wants it to be.


    The extremely strict interpretation of (5.00 / 1) (#44)
    by MO Blue on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 01:11:31 PM EST
    the blue-slip rule employed by Leahy is not the norm based on the history of the rule. Only 2 Judiciary chairs established rules whereby a single negative/nonreturned blue slip meant a hearing would not be held and nomination would halt on all judicial nominations.

    James O. Eastland    MS    Dem    1956-1978    Negative/nonreturned blue slip meant a hearing would not be held and nomination would halt.

    Patrick J. Leahy     VT    Dem    2001-2003    Negative/nonreturned blue slip meant a hearing would not be held and nomination would halt.

    Patrick J. Leahy    VT    Dem    2007- present    Negative/nonreturned blue slip meant a hearing would not be held and nomination would halt.

    For approximately 67 years, negative/nonreturned blue slips would not prevent the nomination from proceeding to committee.

    The current blue-slip rule allowing Republicans to dictate who will be or will not be nominated is a Democratic Party choice and not because of a long established rule or precedent.  


    Does that make any sense to you? (none / 0) (#45)
    by Anne on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 02:25:35 PM EST
    Because I will freely admit that I just don't get it.  I can see where it makes sense when there's a Republican president, but I have no idea why, with a Democratic president and control of the Senate, the Democratic chair of the Judiciary Committee would want to give that much power to the opposition.

    Maybe Leahy thinks it's fair play - fat lot of good that does when Republicans are the ones you're playing with.


    Have absolutely no idea why the Dems (5.00 / 2) (#47)
    by MO Blue on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 02:52:25 PM EST
    have decided to let the Republicans dictate policy no matter which party is in the WH or hold majorities in Congress. Only thing that makes any sense is that for some reason they don't want more liberal judges in red states anymore than the Republicans do.

    There is no doubt in my mind that the government will go back to letting Republican nominees go forward and be approved without honoring blue-slips or any other procedural hold up when there is a Republican in the WH.


    Little more history regarding blue-slip (5.00 / 1) (#54)
    by MO Blue on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 03:35:10 PM EST
    Research shows Leahy's policy is not even the typical Dem policy. It is more extreme than the policy of the two Dem Judicial chairman who preceded him.

    Edward Kennedy J. 1979-1981
    Negative/nonreturned blue slip did not kill a nomination.

    Joseph R. Biden 1987-1995
    Nonreturned blue slip did not kill a nomination; negative blue slip only had an impact if the administration failed to consult with senators prior to nomination.

    Taibbi joins Greenwald & co. (none / 0) (#1)
    by shoephone on Thu Feb 20, 2014 at 12:35:53 PM EST
    at First Look.

    (I'm bringing this over from the end of the Monday thread.)

    He will be missed... (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by kdog on Thu Feb 20, 2014 at 12:39:39 PM EST
    at RS...he did amazing work reporting an all the dirty behind the financial crisis, and how it continues unabated...amongst other topics.  Always a highlight to see a Taibbi piece in my mailbox...you knew an education, and the resulting high blood pressure, were sure to follow.

    Wherever he publishes, I'll be there.



    He's an asset for sure! (none / 0) (#5)
    by shoephone on Thu Feb 20, 2014 at 12:45:19 PM EST
    His "thank you" to Rolling Stone (the link) is funny, when he tells about how he messed up his first few assignments to the mag, and they just kept believing in him and giving him another chance to get it right. They did a real service to us by keeping him at it. Like you, I look forward to reading him, wherever he may be.

    He's got a piece... (none / 0) (#7)
    by kdog on Thu Feb 20, 2014 at 01:02:10 PM EST
    in the current issue, I guess his last at RS...topic is a relatively new Wall St. warehousing scam, I'm looking forward to diving in.

    I hope the overall effect will be to (none / 0) (#3)
    by Anne on Thu Feb 20, 2014 at 12:41:32 PM EST
    force the rest of the media to up their game, but I suspect those committed to shilling for the corporatocracy/plutocracy will double down and continue to cherish their cozy relationships and access to power far more than whatever shred of integrity they might have left.

    Would dearly love to be wrong.


    No kidding. The media hacks will flip. (none / 0) (#6)
    by shoephone on Thu Feb 20, 2014 at 12:52:07 PM EST
    I think we can expect a lot of desperate and aggressive behavior coming from the big media. IN fact, I have visions of Howie Kurtz throwing magnificent tantrums.

    Greenwald is planning to come to the U.S. to accept his Polk Award. That'll be interesting...


    Irony (none / 0) (#4)
    by jbindc on Thu Feb 20, 2014 at 12:41:55 PM EST
    Because of the lawsuits against the NSA, and because the Rules of Discovery and the Rules of Evidence, the collection and storage of Americans' phone records may be expanded.

    WASHINGTON--The government is considering enlarging the National Security Agency's controversial collection of Americans' phone records--an unintended consequence of lawsuits seeking to stop the surveillance program, according to officials.

    A number of government lawyers involved in lawsuits over the NSA phone-records program believe federal-court rules on preserving evidence related to lawsuits require the agency to stop routinely destroying older phone records, according to people familiar with the discussions. As a result, the government would expand the database beyond its original intent, at least while the lawsuits are active.

    No final decision has been made to preserve the data, officials said, and one official said that even if a decision is made to retain the information, it would be held only for the purpose of litigation and not be subject to searches. The government currently collects phone records on millions of Americans in a vast database that it can mine for links to terror suspects. The database includes records of who called whom, when they called and for how long.

    I suppose any excuse will do (none / 0) (#12)
    by sj on Thu Feb 20, 2014 at 02:43:33 PM EST
    Because of the lawsuits against the NSA, and because the Rules of Discovery and the Rules of Evidence, the collection and storage of Americans' phone records may be expanded.

    WASHINGTON--The government is considering enlarging the National Security Agency's controversial collection of Americans' phone records...

    There's an unfolding political tragedy ... (none / 0) (#10)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Thu Feb 20, 2014 at 01:49:43 PM EST
    ... presently taking place in Ukraine, as a truce supposedly negotiated only hours earlier quickly broke down amid violent clashes today between pro-government police and tens of thousands of anti-government demonstrators, who've been occupying the city's center since November in opposition to the pro-Russian policies of President Viktor Yanukovich.

    The fighting flared up again when police reportedly tried to storm the main protestor encampment at Independence Square, which provoked a violent counterattack from demonstrators. Dozens of protestors are reported dead, and the government's Interior Ministry says that demonstrators have captured a nearly equal number of police in the fighting. Anti-government demonstrations have also apparently since broken out in the Black Sea port city of Odessa.

    Wary eyes are now also being cast by both sides toward the Ukrainian armed forces, whose leader was sacked by President Yanukovich yesterday after insisting that the military should not be used to suppress people's civil rights, and subsequently replaced with someone supposedly more to the president's liking.

    Let's also hope Russia doesn't take advantage of the situation to intervene militarily itself, and seek to formally re-absorb Ukraine into its orbit, as a senior advisor President Vladimir Putin threatened to do two weeks ago. It's long been little secret that Putin considers Ukraine to be nothing more than a wayward Russian province.


    Come On Donald... (5.00 / 1) (#14)
    by ScottW714 on Thu Feb 20, 2014 at 02:55:58 PM EST
    ...the issue is about the European Union and the fact that the Ukraine took a huge loan from Russia.  Hardly something one gives a 'wayward province'.

    There is no easy answer to this one, take the needed Russian money and be left out of the EU, or hope the EU at some point loans them some peanuts.

    The peace negotiations broke down when Russia released the $15B that was frozen because of this mess.

    The European Union and the United States have repeatedly said they are "working on" financial assistance for Ukraine in conjunction with the International Monetary Fund, but so far no offers have been made public. While insisting that they do not want to get into a bidding war with Russia for Ukraine's allegiances, European leaders have come under pressure from prominent pro-European Ukrainians to provide concrete help, not merely high-minded declarations about the transformative power of European values.

    Putin definitely wants this 'wayward province' on his team and I highly doubt sending in the Russian Army is going to help his cause when you consider that the Ukraine is a sovereign nation and Russian troops would be considered an invading force.


    ... for 23 years. Prior to that, it was an integral part of the Soviet Union and the Russian Empire for the better part of three centuries, save for the few years it was under German occupation during both world wars.

    Further, the population of the eastern half of Ukraine is predominantly ethnic Russian, and they speak the Russian language, not Ukrainian. By and large, they support President Yanukovich's efforts to steer the country away from western Europe and back toward the Russian orbit.

    It's the ethnic Ukrainians residing in Kiev and the western part of the country (who constitute about 60% of the country's population) who first led the break from Russia in the aftermath of the Soviet Union's political demise. And they brought down Yanukovich once before, by taking to the streets ten years ago in the aftermath of a corrupted presidential election which many suspected Putin of engineering.

    Putin is Yanukovich's trump card in this political conflict. I don't think Putin can or will tolerate seeing his friend and ally being ousted for a second time, and I believe that he will intervene militarily, should it come to that.

    Further, that there is actually very little that the United States or the European Union can do to stop him should he choose to do so, other than to break off diplomatic relations and impose economic sanctions upon Russia itself. We are in no position militarily to forestall such a move.



    No military options (none / 0) (#21)
    by Slado on Thu Feb 20, 2014 at 10:49:00 PM EST
    However Putin and his thugs in Russia and Ukraine enjoy the high life.  Many have homes all over Europe.

    The European Union should start denying travel visas for these people plus hitting them with serious economic sanctions.  

    This is not North Korea or Iran.   These are not communists or religious zealots.  These are mobsters.   Hit them in the pocket book and it will hurt.

    It sounds like they A&R moving in that direction but typically it is happening too slow.

    While Obama has little options now if not for,his feckless foreign policy during his entire presidency we might have a few more options but that is speculation.  We are we're we are and he needs to work with the EU to hurt the cronies around the thugs with legit economic and travel sanctions to make them at least stop killing the protestors.


    Putin is Not Going to Invade... (none / 0) (#34)
    by ScottW714 on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 09:01:53 AM EST
    ...the Ukraine and force them to align with Russia, get a grip.

    Sh*t is getting heavy... (none / 0) (#11)
    by kdog on Thu Feb 20, 2014 at 02:12:39 PM EST
    in Venezuela too, with the government violently cracking down on protesters.

    What courage the people of both countries have, seeking redress for grievances at great risk to life and limb.  My hat's off...


    A friend (none / 0) (#15)
    by nycstray on Thu Feb 20, 2014 at 03:30:15 PM EST
    posted this link on FB today.

    I thought Chavez (none / 0) (#22)
    by Slado on Thu Feb 20, 2014 at 10:49:50 PM EST
    Was a man of the people?  

    How did this happen?


    And I Thought Chaven Was Dead... (5.00 / 1) (#33)
    by ScottW714 on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 08:55:26 AM EST
    ...but that won't stop the right wingers from digging up that corpse to spit on it, again, just to show that they don't like him.

    Slado is on a roll, didn't you just get a spanking for a zillion "I hate everything TL stands for" posts like a day or two ago ?


    Did I? (none / 0) (#46)
    by Slado on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 02:42:38 PM EST
    I dint see it.  Sorry if I've been a little feisty lately.

    Here is the... (none / 0) (#59)
    by ScottW714 on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 04:12:51 PM EST
    Maybe not? (none / 0) (#24)
    by Slado on Thu Feb 20, 2014 at 11:03:21 PM EST
    Syria "may" have used chemical weapons (none / 0) (#23)
    by Slado on Thu Feb 20, 2014 at 10:58:25 PM EST
    This Year

    If true I hope this gets a little more attention.   Would be a shame if this story gets buried and the international coalition keeps the kabuki dance going with the Assad regime.

    Not sure why anyone would give Assad the benefit of the doubt.   I hope it's not just to keep the idea of diplomacy alive.

    NYTs against minimum wage (none / 0) (#25)
    by Slado on Thu Feb 20, 2014 at 11:34:26 PM EST
    Before they were for it.


    Man their arguments seem to make sense to me.   Good to know they used to understand economics.

    Well, what would you suggest is (5.00 / 1) (#27)
    by nycstray on Thu Feb 20, 2014 at 11:44:49 PM EST
    the answer to this?

    It's time to put this hoary debate behind us, and find a better way to improve the lives of people who work very hard for very little.

    Of course it makes sense ... (5.00 / 1) (#28)
    by Yman on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 06:44:32 AM EST
    ... to you.

    Same with the Chavez phobia.

    Combine a libertarian/conservative's natural focus on self-interest and greed with Silver Spoon Syndrome and that's the result.


    Why am I a silver spoon? (none / 0) (#50)
    by Slado on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 03:04:51 PM EST
    I grew up in a military family.

    Also my focus is on individual liberty.   Something severely lacking in Venezuela.


    you keep repeating that ... (none / 0) (#64)
    by Yman on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 04:53:09 PM EST
    ... non-denial.   was your father the surgeon in the military for his entire career?  Even IF that was true, military surgeons are still in the top 1-2 percent of income earners.  The question is whether the spoon is silver gold or platinum.

    a focus on individual liberty is admirable, but its funny how you never focus on capitalist systems.  As usual, your primary focus is really just keeping your taxes as low as possible.  We don't want them spending money on all those undeserving people ... your brother excluded, of course.


    Really? (none / 0) (#80)
    by Slado on Sun Feb 23, 2014 at 12:38:47 AM EST
    Surgeons in the military don't make a lot of money.  That's not how the military works.  It pays on rank.

    He was nice enough to start making money after I moved out but keep the silver spoon going.

    Either way I shouldn't have to defend my fathers success in life I order to have an opinion.   Unless success is fround upon here?   It shouldn't matter when it comes to someone's opinion.  I have no idea what your story is and it doesn't matter frankly.  Sometimes you make good points and sometimes you don't.

    If you create a preconceived notion about someone then you can't read their posts honestly and what's the fun in that?


    Another NON-denial (5.00 / 1) (#84)
    by Yman on Sun Feb 23, 2014 at 08:15:05 AM EST
    Surgeons in the military don't make a lot of money.  That's not how the military works.  It pays on rank.

    Of course it pays on rank ... and "special pay".  Military surgeons earn ISP bonuses up to $36,000 a year.  If they are a career military (as opposed to your father's _ of years?), they also earn annual MSP of up to $60,000/year (for general surgeon's, 4 years means they get an MSP of $60,000 every year).  While military surgeon's earn less than their civilian counterparts, even ignoring all of the other substantial perks (med school paid for, no insurance costs, housing, etc.), they're in the top 1-2% of wage earners.

    You would think being from a "military family", you would know that.

    Either way I shouldn't have to defend my fathers success in life I order to have an opinion.   Unless success is fround upon here?   It shouldn't matter when it comes to someone's opinion.  I have no idea what your story is and it doesn't matter frankly...

    If you create a preconceived notion about someone then you can't read their posts honestly and what's the fun in that?

    Of course you don't have to defend your father's success., and success isn't frowned on around here.  My "story" (i.e. point) was made very clearly and honestly.  You oppose the minimum wage because - like most libertarian conservatives - it doesn't benefit you.  Your view of economics is shaped by how it affects you personally, not what is just/fair for society.  More importantly, as someone who grew up with a silver spoon, you didn't face the kinds of hardships faced by those who didn't have that spoon.  All those "others" who you don't know are undeserving, while your brother is (naturally) deserving.

    Is that clear enough?


    BTW - Link to ... (none / 0) (#85)
    by Yman on Sun Feb 23, 2014 at 08:16:53 AM EST
    .... military medical officer's bonuses, which does not include their base/rank pay.

    Look at this way (none / 0) (#66)
    by Ga6thDem on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 06:17:25 PM EST
    the embrace of Chavez by some on the left is no different than conservatives embracing Putin. There is no rhyme or reason to it. It just is.

    But I for one am sick of hearing about Chavez. You would think he ruled the world listening to the Bush Adminstration talking about it. Really I think it was more about Bush's thin skin more than anything else.


    They also argued for this: (5.00 / 2) (#29)
    by Anne on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 07:01:55 AM EST
    The working poor obviously deserve a better shake. But it should not surpass our ingenuity or generosity to help some of them without hurting others. Here are two means toward that end: Wage supplements. Government might subsidize low wages with cash or payments for medical insurance, pensions or Social Security taxes. Alternatively, Washington could enlarge the existing earned income tax credit, a ''negative'' income tax paying up to $800 a year to working poor families.

    I'm guessing that doesn't make sense to you, does it?  These would be handouts, right?  Taxpayer-paid handouts.  So, you'd be in favor of wage supplements?  Isn't the fact that the NYT even made that suggestion an acknowledgment that the minimum wage is too low for people to support themselves on?  You realize that what they're saying is, "let's not take the money out of the pockets of the employer, let's take it out of the pockets of the taxpayer," don't you?  

    The reality is that in the minimum wage has little effect on unemployment rates; try understanding those economics.


    The conservative model company (5.00 / 1) (#52)
    by MO Blue on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 03:13:09 PM EST
    abandoning them on the minimum wage issue?

    Walmart is considering backing hiking the minimum wage. Seems that poverty is getting so bad people can't afford to buy even their cheap crap.

    On Wednesday, Bloomberg's Renee Dudley reported that Wal-Mart, the nation's largest private employer, is "looking at supporting an increase in the federal minimum wage, breaking with business and industry groups that oppose such a measure." (That same day, Gap Inc., made a surprise announcement that it's raising the minimum wage it pays its employees to $10 per hour by 2015.)

    Wal-Mart is weighing the impact of additional payroll costs against possibly attracting more consumer dollars at its stores, David Tovar, a company spokesman, said today in a telephone interview. Increasing the minimum wage means that some of the 140 million people who shop at the chain weekly would "now have additional income," Tovar said.

    ...The reality is that the company doesn't only employ low-wage workers, it also relies on them for a decent chunk of its customer base. And with 95 percent of the income gains in the first four years of the recovery going to the top one percent of households, many of those customers are tapped out.
    Adding to the company's problems is Washington's shortsighted policymaking. Wal-Mart offered investors a gloomy forecast today, and as Reuters noted, "it blamed sharp cuts in food stamp benefits and higher payroll taxes that will hit disposable income for its core customers." Wal-Mart gets over half of its sales from its grocery business. C&L

    Good PR (none / 0) (#55)
    by Slado on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 03:47:45 PM EST
    It's a ploy to get more customers in the door.  

    They don't do anything without a fiscal incentive.  

    Come on, it's Walmart.

    I'm all for businesses paying higher wages.  I just don't think a government forcing them too makes economic sense.   But like I said we lost that argument a long time ago.  Peg it to inflation and let's move on.


    More than just PR (5.00 / 2) (#65)
    by MO Blue on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 05:43:56 PM EST
    Their fiscal incentive is for people to have enough money to buy their stuff.

    The reality is that the company doesn't only employ low-wage workers, it also relies on them for a decent chunk of its customer base.
    Wal-Mart offered investors a gloomy forecast today, and as Reuters noted, "it blamed sharp cuts in food stamp benefits and higher payroll taxes that will hit disposable income for its core customers." Wal-Mart gets over half of its sales from its grocery business

    They are publicly stating that lack of "disposable income for its core customers" will negatively impact their bottom line.

    Less disposable income negatively impacts demand. No money = no demand for products. More money = increased demand for products.


    Of course they don't (none / 0) (#57)
    by sj on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 03:54:13 PM EST
    [Walmart doesn't] do anything without a fiscal incentive
    Which is why it is considering backing hiking the minimum wage.

    Well I guess we all love Walmart now? (none / 0) (#58)
    by Slado on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 04:02:26 PM EST
    Walmart would like nothing better then their already disadvantaged competitors to be forced to increase their labor costs.

    It can more easily absorb them and pass then on then the local grocer.


    No (5.00 / 1) (#63)
    by MO Blue on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 04:48:31 PM EST
    This possible action by Wal-mart does not change my negative opinion of them.

    Many of their competitors already pay their workers more than Wal-mart and often have better prices.


    That is especially true (none / 0) (#67)
    by Ga6thDem on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 06:21:16 PM EST
    in my area. My mother tells me she can't believe I don't shop at Wal-Mart. I think she must go there three times a week. First of all I tell her that I hate Wal-Mart because I spend 2x the time waiting in line than at any other store and everytime I try to use the self-checkout the darn thing blows up on me and so I have to wait ten minutes for some manager to come by and reset the darn thing. Secondly, their prices are frankly no better and sometimes worse than Kroger or Publix and their produce is completely rotten to boot.

    The argument opposing (none / 0) (#61)
    by christinep on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 04:20:49 PM EST
    a mandated living wage (aka "minimum wage")is one that should be recorded once and for all ... it is the same argument that has been made throughout modern American history each time that the matter of increasing the minimum wage has been sought.  The results of increasing minimum wage via federal legislation:  The economic ills prophesied by opponents never materialize.

    Well (none / 0) (#48)
    by Slado on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 02:59:01 PM EST
    Basic economics teaches us that if something costs more you get less of it.  

    Basic economics

    The question is do you want to improve the lives of some (higher wages) at the cost of others (fewer jobs and higher cost).

    I'm in favor of increasing growth which ultimately leads to the creation of wealth and economic expansion.   You can not legislate your way to less economic inequality.   The only way to reduce that is for the economy to grow faster then 1 or 2%.

    Right now the monetary policy of this administration and the regulations and restrictions it is putting on business is leading to the increase in inequality.   The elite are making money thanks to the expansion of money while the rest of us are seeing no increase in wealth or a decline.  

    To counter this obvious problem the administration is giving political solutions instead of actual ones.   Unfortunately too many are willing to engage in this meaningless debate that will solve nothing.  

    I actually think we should just peg the amount to inflation since my side lost ideological battle decades ago and the republicans would be smart to make this argument to count the administration.

    I only point out that the economic arguments and arbitrary selection of a wage by this administration is a pure political ploy rather then a solution to a problem this administration has exasperated.


    But that's basic economics... (5.00 / 1) (#69)
    by unitron on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 07:42:16 PM EST
    ...and does not take into account the multiplier effect that occurs when the working poor get a little bit more money than they did before and spend it immediately.

    That means an increased demand for goods and services in their community, which means more jobs delivering those goods and services, which means more people with paychecks, which means even more demand for goods and services...


    The multiplier is not proven (none / 0) (#81)
    by Slado on Sun Feb 23, 2014 at 12:42:40 AM EST
    Hence it's not in basic economics along with supply and demand.   It is a theory which is controversial.

    It is a necessary theory devised to support deficit spending.

    So,e believe ion it and some do,not.


    For what it's worth, and I suspect some (5.00 / 4) (#87)
    by Anne on Sun Feb 23, 2014 at 09:00:16 AM EST
    (perhaps you?) may find fault, but I found this, and there seems to be a lot of information debunking the conventional wisdom in anti-minimum wage quarters that raising the wage costs jobs.

    The site breaks down the myths, and links to the studies done.  

    The conclusion?

    Two decades of rigorous economic research have found that raising the minimum wage does not result in job loss. While the simplistic theoretical model of supply and demand suggests that raising wages reduces jobs, the way the labor market functions in the real world is more complex. Researchers and businesses alike agree today that the weight of the evidence shows no reduction in employment resulting from minimum wage increases.

    The Economist, November 2012: "Evidence is mounting that moderate minimum wages can do more good than harm. [...] Bastions of orthodoxy, such as the OECD, a rich-country think-tank, and the International Monetary Fund, now assert that a moderate minimum wage probably does not do much harm and may do some good. Their definition of moderate is 30-40% of the median wage. Britain's experience suggests it might even be a bit higher." (Source)

    Crain's New York Business, February 2012: ""Critics of [the minimum wage] proposal are making the same arguments as the last time the Legislature increased the minimum wage, in 2004. The hike to $7.15 an hour from the federal minimum of $5.15 was phased in over three years. If the change had a cataclysmic effect on businesses that depend heavily on minimum-wage workers, we certainly missed it. Objections . . .  while meriting consideration, are essentially objections to the very existence of a minimum wage, which has been a fixture in the U.S. since 1938 and has never stopped our economy from flourishing." (Source)

    And I know it's backwards to do it this way, but here are a couple of the studies linked on some of the issues discussed:

    Study: Why Does the Minimum Wage Have No Discernible Effect on Employment? (2013)
    Summary: Reviews the past two decades of research on the impact of minimum wage increases on employment: this study concludes that the weight of the evidence points to little or no effect of minimum wage increases on job growth. The study also finds that a review of the minimum wage literature commonly cited by minimum wage opponents is flawed because it is subjective, relies in large part on studies of wage increases in foreign countries, and fails to consider the most sophisticated and recent minimum wage studies.

    Study: Do Minimum Wages Really Reduce Teen Employment? (2011)

    Summary: Examines every minimum wage increase in the United States over the past two decades--including increases that took place during protracted periods of high unemployment--and finds that raising the wage floor boosted incomes without reducing employment or slowing job creation.  The research demonstrates how a body of previous research--one frequently relied on by business lobbyists who oppose minimum wage increases--inaccurately attributes declines in employment to increases in the minimum wage by failing to sufficiently account for critical economic factors. [NELP Summary]

    Study: Minimum Wage Effects Across State Borders (2010)

    Summary: Provides the most sophisticated study to date of the effects of increases in the minimum wage on job growth in the United States.  Taking advantage of the fact that a record number of states raised their minimum wages during the 1990s and 2000s - creating scores of differing minimum wage rates across the country - the study compares employment levels among every pair of neighboring U.S. counties that had differing minimum wage levels at any time between 1990 and 2006 and finds that higher minimum wages did not reduce employment. [NELP summary]

    Happy reading!


    Yep - just a theory (none / 0) (#86)
    by Yman on Sun Feb 23, 2014 at 08:20:41 AM EST
    ... like evolution.  Some believe in evolution and some don't, so we should just ignore it.


    BTW - Who doesn't believe in the multiplier effect?


    Talking about creation of wealth, etc. (none / 0) (#60)
    by christinep on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 04:14:57 PM EST
    Slado: Is my memory faulty or do I recall your comments about conversion to Roman Catholicism some time back?  If that is so and you are practicing or following the faith, I would turn your attention to the direct comments from our Pope Francis as to the selfishness that can infect and has infected unaltered capitalism models.  

    While reading/re-reading the Pope's thoughtful, heartfelt, and extensive comments, look also at the specificity with which he spoke of his disdain for "trickle down" theory.  Remember too that this Pope is no neophyte ... he is not only talking theory and theology ... he is talking about real-life, genuine compassion, and his expectations that we dispense with such self-absorption and greedy acquisition and seek living wages for humankind.

    I don't know about you, but in my church, the sermons have focused more and more in the last year on not ignoring the downtrodden, on giving (not taking) of self to improve practical conditions for those less well off, and on practicing the rest of the week what we hear in the pews on Sunday.  Pope Francis' concerns clearly reach beyond "occasional charity" and address the economic imbalance so prevalent in day-to-day living ... such as providing for the dignity of earning a living wage.

    Perhaps, I did not recall your comment respecting spirituality correctly.  If not, I offer my sincere apology.  If my memory did not misfire, then it is entirely appropriate to remind you that the flippancy and harshness of your economic comments now evidence--imo--exactly the kind of attitude that Pope Francis has decried.


    My comments are not flippant nor harsh (none / 0) (#82)
    by Slado on Sun Feb 23, 2014 at 12:46:43 AM EST
    I am all for charity and I give from my own income and time as part of my faith.

    Yes this pope is more I critical of capitalism and I will take his words to heart as any Roman Catholic should.

    However I will not mix that up with the reality that giving through government comes with risk and pretending this isn't so does not make one more charitable.

    I suppose as a good Roman Catholic  you will now be encouraging me to be against all abortion and gay marriage?

    Two things that I am not.


    Have you seen that Walmart is (5.00 / 1) (#53)
    by MO Blue on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 03:25:39 PM EST
    considering throwing their gigantic weight behind increasing the minimum wage?

    Their argument that they will lose money if people can't afford to purchase their cheap stuff makes a lot of sense to me.


    Raising the min wage is good for Walmart (none / 0) (#75)
    by Mikado Cat on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 11:37:32 PM EST
    Walmsrt and many other larger retailers are moving in direction where a reduction in their workforce and raising the costs to all their competitors is in their advantage. More self check out lanes, fewer but better skilled people restocking depts etc.

    Lower skilled workers will lose their jobs, but it should improve the bottom line and push forward the next levels of automation.


    Man this makes sense... (none / 0) (#26)
    by Slado on Thu Feb 20, 2014 at 11:37:37 PM EST
    Raise the legal minimum price of labor above the productivity of the least skilled workers and fewer will be hired

    Seems the CBO agrees.


    So You Like the NY Times.... (none / 0) (#35)
    by ScottW714 on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 09:03:11 AM EST
    ...or just more trolling ?

    Door #2. And it's getting annoying. (5.00 / 1) (#38)
    by Angel on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 10:19:49 AM EST
    I honestly don't mean to troll (none / 0) (#49)
    by Slado on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 03:01:48 PM EST
    I will try to limit posts.

    I've got some free time on my hands lately (for personal reasons) and I enjoy the banter with you guys.

    I'll try not to be too annoying :)


    Is your health giving you fits? (5.00 / 1) (#51)
    by Anne on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 03:05:27 PM EST
    As much as we spar, and as aggravating as it can be to be on such opposite sides, I hope you're not once again waging a health battle.

    And if you are, I hope there's light at the end of the tunnel - not "that" light, just, you know, better days.

    Be well.


    I unfortunately am (5.00 / 2) (#56)
    by Slado on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 03:54:02 PM EST
    Tumor in my chest that is also involving my spine.

    Had surgery in December that partially reduced it and am now doing a new form of radiation called proton therapy.

    Pretty cool stuff

    So far so good.   Tumor has stopped growing.  Chemo might be in the cards but that's still up in the air.

    Don't take it easy on me.  I enjoy the banter.

    Thanks for the kind words and I'll take all the nice thoughts and prayers you can send.


    Glad to hear that the tumor has stopped (5.00 / 2) (#62)
    by MO Blue on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 04:30:31 PM EST
    growing. Will send prayers and good wishes for your health to continue to improve while I continue to disagree with you 98% of the time.

    Thanks to all (5.00 / 4) (#71)
    by Slado on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 10:11:31 PM EST
    As many on this site know this is not my first rodeo.

    It started in 1997 with a 12 pound tumor in my chest and  several reoccurrences and a spinal implant later here I am.

    Main difference is now surgery is finally off the table (6 was enough after this past one).  That obviously hasn't stopped it from coming back so we're trying the aggressive radiation with this new therapy and possibly a little chemo on top.

    We'll see.   For now I'm in good spirits and I promise not to rant too much in the future during one of my sleepless nights.

    I really enjoy coming on here.  I hate living in a conservative bubble and I've often softened if not changed my opinion on issues because of the thoughtful commentary from so many on here.

    Thanks again.


    Slado, it's true that this place does (5.00 / 1) (#72)
    by Anne on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 10:34:18 PM EST
    make a person think, and that's never a bad thing; more people should try it!

    You've been at this for a long time - I can't imagine how you've done it, how you've managed to carve out a life; I expect there is much we could learn from you about what it means to be in the moment, about what's important and what's not, about not being held captive to fear.

    We may not agree on much on the political side of things, but you manage to do disagree with more grace that I can usually muster.

    Hang in there!


    Thanks Anne (none / 0) (#73)
    by Slado on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 10:50:02 PM EST
    Very kind words.

    Oh, my gosh (5.00 / 1) (#74)
    by sj on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 11:08:18 PM EST
    I'm sorry for all you've been through and hope that this new approach will be all you hope for.

    I had a large tumor removed just a few years ago, and was amazed that something like that could just grow all unbeknownst to me. I am more fortunate as mine is highly unlikely to regrow, and one surgery was more than enough to humble me. I can't imagine six.

    Blessings to you, Slado. Be well.


    I tend to learn a lot from interacting (none / 0) (#78)
    by MO Blue on Sat Feb 22, 2014 at 12:14:35 PM EST
    on this site. Often the disagreements, when debated civilly lead to a better understanding of an issue, since I tend to have to do more research to defend my position.

    Yesterday's lesson was on the process and history of blue-slips.

    While I disagree with your positions, I do appreciate the fact that you debate issues with (Anne's term) grace.

    BTW, I also tend to post during sleepless nights. Somehow, it helps.


    Oh (none / 0) (#68)
    by Ga6thDem on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 06:23:35 PM EST
    my goodness I am so sorry to hear this. Cancer is an evil thing and going through any kind of treatment is just no fun. I hope your family is taking good care of you.

    Good luck, Slado (none / 0) (#70)
    by shoephone on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 08:50:37 PM EST
    That sounds awfully scary. Must be a relief to know the tumor has stopped growing, but still...hope it all turns out for the best.

    Wishing a full recovery for you, Slado. (none / 0) (#77)
    by Angel on Sat Feb 22, 2014 at 10:13:15 AM EST
    Wishing the best for you Slado, (none / 0) (#79)
    by desertswine on Sat Feb 22, 2014 at 12:53:12 PM EST
    Again (none / 0) (#83)
    by Slado on Sun Feb 23, 2014 at 12:50:55 AM EST
    Thanks to all.

    I was hesitant to even mention it but selfishly well wishes help and I believe in the power of prayer, positive thinking or just good karma.

    Life is to short not to care and think of others and your thoughts are greatly appreciated.



    Don't Like Your Politics... (none / 0) (#88)
    by ScottW714 on Mon Feb 24, 2014 at 09:16:55 AM EST
    ...but wishing you the best, we need you around here to open a window or two to the echo chamber.  That is a joke, but get better real soon.

    Feel better (none / 0) (#89)
    by jbindc on Mon Feb 24, 2014 at 10:43:26 AM EST
    Wishing you the best.

    The Dalai Lama (none / 0) (#43)
    by jbindc on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 12:51:09 PM EST
    And China complains (none / 0) (#76)
    by Mikado Cat on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 11:39:57 PM EST
    have they no clue how bad that makes them look?

    AN AXE LENGTH AWAY, vol. 284 (none / 0) (#90)
    by Dadler on Mon Feb 24, 2014 at 12:54:48 PM EST