Michael Maiello's picture

    Atrios Is Right! Social Security Benefits Should Be Higher!

    I whole-heartedly agree with Atrios.  The left needs to change the Social Security discussion by pointing out the obvious, loudly and often: Social Security, as currently constituted, is not adequate for the needs of most of America's citizens and that benefits should be increased.  Atrios suggests an across the board 20% hike.  If done for present recipients who get an average $1,100 a month, that's only a $220 a month increase.  But that would certainly help a lot of people who lost retirement savings,

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    Michael Maiello's picture

    Beyonce Concert Open Thread!

    How many outfits will Lady Bey wear?

    How many numbers will Destiny's Child perform?

    Will Jay-Z make a cameo?

    Let's discuss America's most important cultural moment of 2013.

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    Michael Maiello's picture

    Civilization and Its Armed Discontents

    Josh Marshall flagged this Walter Kirn article already, so my guess is that some of you have read it.  I'm a big Kirn fan, and have been ever since he published the interesting and underappreciated novel, The Unbinding, in Slate.

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    Michael Maiello's picture

    State Power!

    Oh, the states.

    Those of us educated in one of them have learned since childhood that Federal law is "the law of the land."  When federal law contradicts state law, federal law wins.  State law is rock.  Federal law is paper.  The practical challenges of living together, though, are scissors.

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    Michael Maiello's picture

    Social Security's Haters (or, Payas Gonna Hate).

    Jay Ackyroyd at Eschaton flagged this interesting Matt Yglesias piece about the rationale of Social Security haters.  It's worth a read.  Here's the money bit, as Ackyroyd quoted:

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    Michael Maiello's picture

    No Gimmicks

    I've always been skeptical of the two alternatives floated that Obama could use to avoid a debt ceiling standoff, but I've also liked them both and I continue to like them both far more than the option of the U.S. voluntarily defaulting on its debt, which is a silly thing considering that the U.S. controls its currency supply.

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    Michael Maiello's picture

    Still Can't Quit Brooks

    But I'll be quick about it.

    "The average Medicare couple pays $109,000 into the program and gets $343,000 in benefits out, according to the Urban Institute. This is $234,000 in free money."

    No! No! No! No!  It is not free money.  It is paid, as a tax, over the course of a working life.

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    Michael Maiello's picture

    A Constitutional Project

    Just based on conversations I've had over the years, one of the assumed best things about the enduring democracy of the United States is that we've had one Constitution, amended infrequently, for a very long time.  Other countries, we're told, go through constitutions quite frequently and others don't have them at all.  Today, Louis Michael Seidman writes in The Times that we should give up on the Constitution all together.  It has become, he argues, an impediment to smart decision-making and an appeal to a long departed gentry who would not understand the problems we face today.

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    Michael Maiello's picture

    The Overstated Importance Of Philanthrocapitalism

    Apparently casting about for ideas for an Op-ed column this week, Nicholas Kristof has gone back to the "philanthrocapitalism" well with a column titled "How Giving Became Cool."  He credits Ted Turner's decision to funnel $1 billion for charitable causes through the United Nations a few years back, and then his agitating for more generosity from Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, who have since championed "The Giving Pledge,

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    Michael Maiello's picture

    28 Days In November (also December and January)...

    ...Picture it.  It was the middle 1990s.  Kurt Cobain still breathed.  Courtney Love still made sense.  People wore flannel on top of their flannel.  Britney Spears was a Mouseketeer and a virgin.  Some people still carried pocket pagers, known as "beepers."  Well, only drug dealers.  Pay phones existed.  The rapper Ice-T was an unlikely candidate for starring in a Law and Order spin-off.

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    Michael Maiello's picture

    Chuck Hagel's A Fine Guy -- But Sign This Petition, Please

    Friends, please consider signing this petition urging President Obama to think harder and to come up with a qualified Democrat, rather than former Senator Chuck Hagel, as the next Secretary of Defense.

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    Michael Maiello's picture

    I Think I Have The Gun Solution (Not Kidding)

    This might be* stupid, but hear me out.

    One of the problems with guns is that for all the fancy gadgets and accessories, they are pretty low tech.  You can put a laser site on a rifle.  It's still just an enhanced version of a very old technology.  It's a technology that is so old that it is not networked in any way.  It cannot be controlled from afar any more than a hammer or hacksaw can be.

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    Michael Maiello's picture

    The Hero Fantasy

    I know I've brought this up before but back in the 90s, when I worked at a chain book/video/music store, a dude used to come in with his family and a nine millimeter pistol in a shoulder holster.  The rules back then in New Mexico were that it was legal to carry an unconcealed firearm, though establishments were allowed to ban them and it was illegal to discharge a firearm within the city limits.  So, this guy with his military style haircut (but not the kind of body or discipline you'd associate with having completed the most basic basic training) would come into the store with his piece i

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    Michael Maiello's picture

    Zombie Gun Ideas

    There are 300 million guns in America, which is enough to arm everyone.  About half of households are gun owners.  That includes the house I grew up with.  It includes some of my colleagues and friends.  It includes right wingers and left wingers.  They're good people and to them, guns are objects and they have as much a right to them as they do to any other object in their lives.

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    Michael Maiello's picture

    The Chained CPI Scam

    From a spending standpoint one of the problems for Social Security, and for any retirement annuity or lifetime pension, is how to maintain purchasing power for recipients in a world of generally rising prices.  It would be so nice, all agree, if prices could just be made not to rise so quickly.  This is, unfortunately, very difficult to control.

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    Michael Maiello's picture

    Bring The Pain

    The way David Gregory framed his "fiscal cliff" question on Meet The Press today is extremely revealing.  "What cuts," he asked his Democratic guest (I'm paraphrasing a little), "are Democrats willing to accept that will be truly painful?"  The answer, by the way, was "farm subsidies."  So, yes, the whole exchange was absurd.

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    Michael Maiello's picture

    Thomas Friedman, Teacher's Unions and Vladimir Putin

    Unconventional ideas need champions and they have to start somewhere.  Today, Thomas Friedman pushes Arne Duncan, current Secretary of Education as the next Secretary of State.  It's a quirky idea, but interesting.

    First, though, Friedman has to deal with the very obvious problem of why he'd prefer such a contrarian pick over the front runner, current Ambassador to the United Nations and longtime Obama confidante, Susan Rice.

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    Michael Maiello's picture

    The Phony Equivalence of Shared Sacrifice

    Decided to torture myself with Meet The Press this morning.

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    Michael Maiello's picture

    Unskilled Workers

    Today my favorite Op-Ed writer of them all, Thomas Friedman, tackles the skills of America's workers.  Based on the testimony of Traci Tapani, who inherited a small sheet metal company in Wyoming, Friedman has concluded that America's workers don't have the skills for what modern work requires.

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    Michael Maiello's picture

    Mitt Romney, Unchanged

    Fascinating piece in The LA Times about a call that Mitt Romney had with his donors.  Romney basically repeats the 47% argument, without the blunt language.  Obama won, says Romney, because he turned out throngs of people who want health care and the possibility of student loan forgiveness.

    For example:

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