Book of the Month

Obama: Doing it Again?

     It seems the Obama administration may be eager once again to 'give in' to Republican bullying, threats and demands, to 'get a deal' on the debt limit raise and the deficit.  We saw it when he dropped single payer. Again with the Dec. 2010 deal on extending the Bush tax cuts. Obama now may be ready to do what George W. Bush with a Republican Congress was unable to do in 2005. That being, to deliver on permanent cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, while not including in the legislation any return of pre-Bush tax rates for the wealthiest Americans, who (top 1%) own 90% of the country's financial assets.  Now that running for President costs a billion dollars, has the middle class been priced out of our democracy?

NYT: The president’s renewed efforts follow what knowledgeable officials said was an overture from Mr. Boehner, who met secretly with Mr. Obama last weekend, to consider as much as $1 trillion in unspecified new revenues as part of an overhaul of tax laws in exchange for an agreement that made substantial spending cuts, including in such social programs as Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security — programs that had been off the table.....House Democrats have their own fears about the negotiations, which they expressed in an hour long meeting Wednesday night with Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner.

“Depending on what they decide to recommend, they may not have Democrats,” Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, a Rhode Island Democrat, said in an interview. “I think it is a risky thing for the White House to basically take the bet that we can be presented with something at the last minute and we will go for it.”

....Aides to Mr. Boehner said that no tax increases were on the table and that he had not agreed to the expiration of any tax cuts..
..

Obama 2012, vote for me because the Republicans would have screwed you worse?

Who do you think will be hurt more under the final plan, who will 'feel the pain'?  A hospital barely breaking even treating large numbers of  Medicaid/Medicare patients, an unemployed person who can't find a job and is losing hope, or the hedge fund trader Nick Kristof mentions who pulled down $4.9 billion last year, and who pays no more than 15% in taxes? My bet is it won't be anyone in a corporate board room, or anyone on Wall Street.

......we did not elect him President in order to dismantle the great social programs which are reflective of the great and exceptional nation of which we are so justly proud. We do not insure our greatness by vitiating our vision! We do not reinforce our strength by relinquishing our principles!, and we do not move forward by turning back to a day gone by!

It has been said, only a Democrat as President can cut or eventually end the progressive social programs of the New Deal, is that what is happening now?

It is important to understand exactly what is going on without any blinders.  Obama isn't "giving in" again.  This is what Obama has wanted for some time.  Who do you think appointed the Catfood Commission whose sole purpose was to provide the context for Social Security and Medicare cuts?  It was Obama.  Who do you think made sure the public option would never be a part of healthcare reform thus assuring no reform at all?  It was Obama.  Who is it that now puts on the table cuts to Social Security and Medicare that are bigger than anything ever proposed by the Republicans in exchange for closing some nearly meaningless tax loopholes?  It is Obama and he's doing it because this is what he is in favor of.  Period.  It is undeniable.

Those who continue to make excuses for this lying, dishonest politician and those who continue to make the argument that he is at least better than the Republicans no longer have any excuse (beyond blind loyalty and denial of reality) to continue to defend his lies and his fundamental betrayal and undermining of the Democrats who elected him.

To recap: it's time for everyone to finally acknowledge that Obama is in favor of all the rotten policies and positions he has taken from his escalation of the war in AfPak to his war on whistleblowers, to his full adoption of every rotten Bush policy regarding the mythical "war on terror", to his extension of the tax cuts for the rich, to his repeated attempts to cut Social Security and Medicare.  It's that simple folks: Obama sucks, he is, for all intents and purposes a Republican and he certainly does not deserve to be re-elected.  And no, the Republicans would be no worse than he is given the fact that all his major policies and programs are dictated by the Republican Party.

Excellent points. Hope, for some, may still be alive, but it's on life support with the plug dangling very loose. Added ' ' to give in.

Applying the KISS principle (keep it simple stupid) to your rant ... come the 2nd of August, Obama will remove all doubt if he is or is not a DINO.

As I mentioned elsewhere, Oleeb...even if everyone buys your premise that a republican pres would be no worse, the fact that a repub pres could possibly put in the next supreme court justice would be enough of a reason to make sure a dem stays in the white house for the foreseeable future.  Obama may have many faults, but so far it looks as if his nominations are turning out to be good. The supremes (at least the 5 in the majority) are wreaking havoc with the country, and we need to be getting more progressive ones in. THAT won't happen with a repub pres. So, no matter how pissed you are, make sure you REALLY want to see Michelle or Mitt or whoever they come up with to be making those decisions. Actions (or inactions as the case may be) have consequences, some of them unintended.

I can only conclude from his actions that Obama believes that the cost of living increases for Social Security recipients and federal pensioners are too high.  There are a few camps of people on this:

People like me think that CPI actually understates the inflation that people experience and that cost of living adjustments are too low.  People like me are dirty f'ing hippies, though.  So let's move on.

Some people think CPI is the best measure we've got.

Some people think CPI overstates inflation and should be replaced (for the purposes of calculating pension and Social Security payouts) by chain-CPI, which takes into account changes in consumer patterns as a result of changes in price.  If beef gets too expensive, people by chicken.  If that gets too expensive, people buy soy patties.  These people would argue that protein is protein and to an extent, they're right.  Though I would argue that if people by chicken instead of steak but would prefer the steak they used to buy, then their standard of living has been diminished.

Obama might well be in the third camp.  He should come clean about where he stands.  Does he think lower cost of living adjustments are a sacrifice or does he think they're fair?  I bet he argues for "shared sacrifice," which is absurd given the history of the last three years.

 

If this turns out to be true, I'm re-registering as an independent unless a liberal Democrat primaries Obama, in which case I'll stay in the party to vote for the challenger and will leave it when the challenger loses.

I will join you. NPR is reporting on the above SS cuts, and says the GOP will accept reducing tax 'loopholes' as long as tax cuts are made elsewhere, they want no increased revenues to fund the government and the debt, only spending cuts, which, of course, primarily affect the poor and middle class.

destor and NCD: I think you guys are both terrific.  I love your stuff.  And I would find it hard to believe that your exasperation with Obama, and with actions and non-actions of many Congressional Democrats and the party as a whole, exceeds mine.

But why is the conclusion to leave the Democratic party?  I asked the same question of kgb, another denizen who I think very highly of.  I didn't get a reply from him.  DanK, at least temporarily, has left the party.

If you stay in the party, you can vote in the primaries to help nominate more rather than less progressive general election candidates if you think that makes sense.  You could also, if you choose to exercise it, have a voice in party matters that you won't have if you become an independent. 

Obama does not equate with the Democratic party.  Granted, as the President, he is the party's face at the moment.  But there are members of Congress who are very progressive who are fighting hard.  They, too, are every bit as much Democrats as Obama is.  You two (for the time being) and I are just as much Democrats, with a chance to try to have a say over what the party is about, as are fellow ordinary citizen Democrats who think differently about the current situation than we do.  Why cede these decisions to others?  What good will that do?

If you two leave the party that's two fewer similar-minded folks I know of trying to make it a more progressive party.  If lots of progressives just leave, how is it even possible for progressives to win back the party?  Don't you think this President will just in effect create a different base for himself and win re-election by (in his own mind, not necessarily that of the voters) marking himself a few meters to the left, and closer to the revered if constantly moving and chimerical "center", of whomever the Republican nominee is?  If he doesn't give a shit about people like you and me now, what makes you think he will if you leave, if, as very much appears to be the case, he thinks he can continue in the direction he is pursuing since the fall elections, and might well win re-election doing so?  

I've thought about leaving the party, too, of late.  But then I think "if I leave the party how am I any less of a coward than Democratic party elected and unelected officials who I criticize sometimes for not fighting the progressive fight as strongly as I want them to, as perhaps is consistent with some of the things they say they believe?"

That's why I agree with stillidealistic that to leave the party is a copout.  Staying uses up more and more precious emotional energy for me.  I am fed up, disgusted, sick inside, you name it, just like you guys are.  Sometimes I feel like I want to run off screaming into the night at the idiocy and sense of non-recognition of my own party that I observe and feel, just as you do.

But what might you, or any of us, be able to accomplish as an independent? 

I admit it might feel better, for how long I don't know (an hour? a day? a week? a year?), for me to just write here that, seeing as the Democratic party has apparently decided to kick me and people who believe as I do to the curb, I am re-registering as an Independent.  And I may yet do that, if I feel as though I just can't take being a Democrat any more. 

But I can't help thinking the logic of my commitments points to me staying and fighting, that the alternative would feel like a cop-out.  It would feel like an excuse to do nothing besides bitch about how badly the two major parties suck.

For me, anyway.  I know you'll each do what you feel you need to do. 

It's an excellent question, for sure.  One reason to leave is that the two party system is not a good thing.  It wouldn't be a good thing even if the Democrats were the majority party all of the time.  It wouldn't be a good thing even if the Democrats were the majority party all of the time and was more representative of my wishes.  Now, that's a larger issue of what sort of system we should have.  I'd like to see more diversity and more voices.  It doesn't have anything to do with this issue, per se, but news like "Obama is considering Social Security cuts" brings the issue into relief.

Because the other part of it is that even if it's Obama and not the Democratic leadership or the party as a whole, it's the two party system that would allow Obama to take this stance and then say, "you have to accept it and even vote for me next year because you have nowhere else to go."  I'm tired of being held captive to that.

On the other hand, Pelosi seems to be fighting.

Yes, Pelosi is a fighter.  She and many House Dems who lost their seats, paid the biggest price at the federal level for the black hole of a Senate we have and...well, you can fill in the rest.  She's a Democrat.  So if I walk away from Democrats I'm walking away from her.

Re your comments about the two party system, even if you are correct, do you think that situation can change any time soon?  How, specifically, would an attempt to form a third party, a progressive one, help anything at this time?  Of course you know there are those who would say it would just make things even worse by splitting up moderate and progressive votes among two parties, making it easier for the far right to win contests where it doesn't even come close to having a majority, more like 40-42% pretty solid R, say.

Of course, the same arguments are always used against third party efforts historically.  Parts of the early 20th century's Progressive Party platforms, surely dismissed as hopeless non-starters for all time, were swooped up by the major parties, then.  Other 3rd parties have not had any noticeable effect on the major parties and, of course, are seen as having thrown elections to conservative opponents. 

But the folks who I see talking 3rd party seem generally, as I am, to be deeply alarmed about the current state of affairs, reminding us that Rome is burning.  If that is the context then does, or should, that assessment affect whether one invests one's energies in a 3rd party effort not likely to have impact, if it ever does, for some time?  Isn't that energy and effort that, channeled in sufficient quantities into influencing the course of events by the two major parties, might make a difference?  And be energy and effort that can't be spared?

These at any rate are questions I wrestle with.  I realize that for some the real alternative at this point is not whether to work within the Democratic party or work for a 3rd party (not that those are the only two alternatives available, by any means--they aren't).  They simply have no passion they are able to summon for improving the Democratic party at this point.  So that if they tried to force themselves to do that they wouldn't be effective and, people generally preferring to spend their time doing things they see as effective, or at least morale-lifting rather than morale-deflating, they will work on other projects.  Political work is tough enough when one does have passion for what one is doing.     

 

Dreamer, here's another problem, which Josh headlined as "Dems Support Social Security Cuts-- By Calling It Something Else."  It's not just Obama.  Were it just Obama, he could be made to stop.  What if this kind of thing is central to the current party's collective thinking?  What if Pelosi is the outlier here?  It makes me feel as if I'd be more comfortable someplace else.

It makes me feel as if I'd be more comfortable someplace else.

I hear you--thanks for that information.

Where would that someplace else be?  Independents are all over the map on what they believe, more so than either of the two major parties.  They are basically voting "no" on both major parties but have no organizational political platform of their own.

Sure, it's fun when you're at some social occasion with politically interested people and the subject comes up and everyone perks up when you say "I'm an independent."  Immediately they assume you're a "gettable" vote for either of the major parties, or for any candidate they might want you to support.  They may even ask you what you think about things, as opposed to what happens when one identifies with one of the major parties and it is thereby assumed that everyone knows what you think because all members of that party think the same things, right?  

But at such occasions, those who are members of one or another party aren't in any position to really move the party to what you say you want, because they have no authority to do that.  Rather, what they're doing is trying to persuade you that, given your views, you'd be happier voting for their candidate. Which doesn't seem to me to be a change dynamic in any sense.

I guess that means I'm largely more comfortable with my own, iconoclastic beliefs.  I realize there are problems with that answer.

I realize there are problems with that answer.

As with my answers.

I believe there are ways to contribute to moving the country in a positive direction both working as a registered Democrat and working as a registered Independent.  I feel you, whether you remain a Democrat or re-register Independent over the next few days, are doing a great deal in that regard.  

There are plenty of Democrats who I feel are going with the President because he's a Democrat and they are, and that (still) leaves them with what is clearly at this point, to my way of thinking, an unjustifiably high trust level to represent what they see themselves as believing for the country.  

And there are plenty of Independents for whom being an Independent is almost entirely a negation, a rejection of the two major parties.  Not just on the level of the public meaning of registering as an Independent, which I would argue is almost inherently in the present context an act of negation, affirming nothing in any socially meaningful way.  But on a private one as well.  They aren't doing or advocating anything positive, just throwing rocks pretty indiscriminately at just about everyone, except themselves.  More quietism, checking out, self-isolation, or self-absorption at the expense of investing anything of themselves in what is public and broadly social.  Just what we need in this country at this time.

The more important distinction, I would argue, right now, is not if a person is a Democrat or an Independent, but what are they doing, or trying to do, on the great issues playing out right now that are defining the present and the future for our country and our world.  Ok, so sure I am disappointed that many registered Independents at dag I agree with on many things will not have a voting voice in who are the candidates for Democratic nominations to Congress this next cycle.  I really wish I had them engaging on that with me and other Democrats here of a similar view, having preserved their fullest say in such matters.  Because there are plenty in my party who are opposed to the direction I favor for the party and it's not at all clear whether the fight I want is winnable, even should  Independents who want it to succeed re-register and fight that fight as Democrats. 

But there are many different ways to try to contribute.  I've argued here and at the cafe for pluralism instead of One and Only One Correct Way to get from here to there.  Because just looking at historically successful positive change efforts in this country, I can't come to any other conclusion but that multiple people playing multiple roles, some "inside", some "outside", registering with different political parties or with none at all, is necessary for some measure of success and social betterment.  

Attacking people because of the decision they've made on the Dem vs. Independent registration question, while obviously many of us have our views and preferences on that, is I think not a particularly productive argument to have at this time.  I am gratified, or maybe just relieved, that in this thread as well as at the site generally of late, a number of denizens have apparently felt free and "safe enough" to write openly and candidly, respectfully and without rancor towards one another, about their views on that matter.  

Which is not at all a trivial one.  Just not one of the arguments especially worth having at this time in my estimation, and not worth creating division and ill will among many people who agree with one another on a great many public matters.

I don't know what kind of social occasions you frequent, but in my worlds it's much more common, in both virtual and meatspace habits, for ordinary voters who are not politicians to identify themselves as liberal, conservative or moderate, rather than as Democrat or Republican.

This is furthered by the blogosphere, where there's "socializing" by the less ordinary, more active voters. There's right-leaning activist people gathering together to complain to each other about various members of the GOP, and left-leaning people complaining to each other about various members of the Democratic party.

And even the politicians themselves these days organize themselves within the two parties into caucuses to move the two big parties one way or another.

It's not likely we are ever going back to the days of most people calling themselves tried and true party-line Democrats and Republicans, especially with the internet offering people the opportunity to get active on single issues they care about. Calling themselves Independent is just being honest for most folks. This change predates the internet--two words: Ross Perot--but the internet enables.

Requiring party registration for ordinary voters often seems a vestige of days long gone by. Also, for those states without open primaries, it just seems sometimes to be a chance to play games with party registrations and nothing more.

George Washington's Farewell Address on this issue sounds increasingly prescient sometimes.

 

The Founders hated political parties, hoped and thought they could do without them.  And they crept into our politics anyway.

Also, for those states without open primaries, it just seems sometimes to be a chance to play games with party registrations and nothing more. 

This part I don't understand.  It's hardly "playing games" for those of us whose basic views are considerably more in line (not to be confused with "identical to") far more in line with those of one major party than the other.  

Calling themselves Independent is just being honest for most folks. This change predates the internet--two words: Ross Perot--but the internet enables.

I disagree.  When we have majorities registering as independents then there might be grounds for making that assertion.  Not so now, not close.  If what you mean when you refer to "just being honest" is that most people who register with a major political party agree right down the line with whatever is "the party line" (and where would I go to find that, in the case of the Democratic party, if I wanted to?  Operationally, I mean, not some party platform that the party leaders hardly feel bound by.), and do not think independently, that is not my experience.  We actually have fiercely independent thinkers who have chosen to register with a political party.  They're called Democrats.   

As for Perot he won, what, 23% of the vote nationally?. If everyone, or most people, secretly had really been a Perot independent by 1992 wouldn't he have won?  

I don't know what kind of social occasions you frequent, but in my worlds it's much more common, in both virtual and meatspace habits, for ordinary voters who are not politicians to identify themselves as liberal, conservative or moderate, rather than as Democrat or Republican.

It's possible this is a real difference partly explained by where I live, inside the DC Beltway, where there is a fair amount of consciousness about politics as you might expect.  Although folks who believe, as one of my cousins did, that everyone here obsesses about politics is badly wrong.  (Another false perception in my experience is that there is such a thing as some essential "inside the Beltway" state of mind that exists presumptively among ordinary citizen residents who happen breathe its air).  Lots of people don't care or pay much attention, just as is the case everywhere else.  But it might be that, seeing as some jobs are dependent upon which "tribe" one has chosen, people in this part of the county might think more in political party than political philosophy terms than is the case in other parts of the country.  I don't know of any other than, now, your anecdotal evidence on that.  Sometimes the anecdotal evidence is right.  Where do you live?

 

Just have to see what the Democrats do, I have jokingly said before we might get more progressive policy all becoming Republicans moving the GOP to the center, rather then pushing the Democrats to the left! In retrospect, many have claimed Nixon was the last great progressive President (EPA, China policy, OSHA, the Republicans in the Senate didn't defend him, the usual right wing actors were  ready and able to cut him loose when the opportunity presented with Watergate-see: Time, 1971 "The Right Wing v. Nixon"-Watergate was a political soap opera, no big victory for the left...), and Obama....he has little time left to show exactly where or what he really stands for, or whether he will really fight the GOP bullies, or if he is, as Oleeb says, a closet Republican.

If Obama only gets a GOP pledge to let the tax cuts expire on higher incomes in 2012, that and two bits will buy a soda pop. I would have real trouble believing the tax rate increase would ever happen, and would call into question his principles and/or judgment. If he trades SS cuts for closing 'tax loopholes' real Democrats should stand up and reject it or the party is not worth a damn.

Well he would have to get Congress to approve any deal he cuts with the GOP leadership.  Since there are enough Republican House members who've said they will vote no on any debt ceiling increase bill, regardless, this means Boehner likely will need Democratic votes to approve the deal.  The question is what, then?  Would something better ensue? 

I fully agree that there needs (there will be, not to worry) to be an uproar within the Democratic party over any bad deal that gets cut, which to my way of thinking constitutes precisely every single deal that has been under consideration.  House Democrats met with Geithner for an hour yesterday and gave him an earful, on the account I saw.  Plenty of Congressional Democrats are irate at what the White House has already offered up.  The Republicans have been saying no so far to proposals that many Democrats see as outrageous, to the point where David Brooks recently castigated the party's fanatics and said if they don't accept the "logic of compromise", independents won't vote for them and they won't deserve to govern.  Pretty strong stuff coming from Brooks.   

Pelosi from TPM: "Any discussion of Medicare or Social Security should be on its own table," Pelosi warned. "Do not consider Social Security a piggy bank for giving tax cuts to the wealthiest people in our country."

The Reagan/Greenspan 1980's Commission to 'save' SS was the biggest bait and switch in history, the GOP raised SS payroll taxes while cutting upper income tax rates, spent all the money and put IOU's in that WVa drawer that GWB opened in 2005 ('Just IOU's in here, no money').  The GOP never have had any plans to pay the money back, they in fact treated SS payroll taxes as a piggy bank for tax cuts. That's why tax rates must go back up.

My personalized version of the DCCC "petition" to Boehner (I deleted 3 words I had drafted, "you f a" at the end of the salutation, before hitting send):

 

Honorable Speaker:
 
Your public tears, on a couple of occasions, have drawn public commentary, including some teasing.
 
When I saw you do that, I thought that perhaps deep inside you have a compassionate side to your personality.
 
I am not seeing evidence of that, unfortunately.  I join House Democrats in insisting that Social Security and Medicare cuts are off the table.
 
I personally consider the act of House Republicans holding the raising of the debt ceiling hostage and calling into question the full faith and credit of the United States government--such that the Treasury may have to pay higher interest rates on account of the quite correct perception that we have crazy people in our government--to meet a lay definition, and my definition, if not a legal one, of treason.  
 
I invite you to digest that, if you will.  
 
That cruel and grotesquely inequitable budget balancing on the backs of those least able to afford it is being insisted on by the House Republicans as a condition for raising the debt ceiling is an outrageous, deeply unjust act that is offensive beyond words to my sense of patriotism and love of country.
 
To quote Mr. Welch from the Army-McCarthy hearings, addressing Senator McCarthy: "Until this moment...I think I had never gauged your cruelty or your recklessness. Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?"
 
Meaning fully every word I wrote,
(name and home town)

Well done. Hatch says the poor need to pay more. When real pain is evident among the fat cat bankers and traders on Wall Street, is when we can start looking at the issue of health care for the poor/aged.

A republican with a sense of decency ??? Oh silly boy.

I rejoined the Democratic Party after staying out for about a month, which was my intention.   I wrote letters to the state party chair and my Senator when I left, explaining my reasons, but never heard back from either one.  That doesn't surprise me.

I think the best thing to do is to try to form an insurgent political movement with a forthright egalitarian and pro-social progressive agenda, and with the aim of capturing the dominant role within Democratic Party.

I think that this is the way to go

Well, I'm glad you're back.

I'm so pissed at the dems (including the President) I can hardly see straight, but I figure I can give up, or keep fighting. Giving up doesn't seem like a responsible choice, and fighting is getting awfully tiring, but allowing the repubs to destroy this this country is not something I can sit still for.

I am writing letters to everyone I can think of, trying to offer political cover for them to stand up to those terrorists.

I seriously do not want to live in the country they are trying to turn America into, but I am too old for any other country that I would want to live in to take me. I have no choice but to fight, and I won't do it as a repub and I refuse to cop out and re-register as an independent.

Like it or hate it, I'm a dem, a REAL dem, heart and soul, and I'll work as hard as I can to make it the party I thought it was...the party I need it to be.

 

Good idea!

Since the GOPer's have commandeered Tea Party might I suggest the new pro-social agenda Party commandeer another from our history ... the Whiskey Rebellion. Kinda catchy, eh?

I still refuse to give them any money.  Even if I wanted to, I can't afford it any more in the Obama economy.   Obama can ask Jamie Dimon for the cash.

Speaking of money, here is a fairly revolting development:

 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/08/democratic-senatorial-campaign-...

Did you see the update to the story?  DSCC sent a snippy reply back to Koch, stating that the solicitation was an error.

Saving face.

One can be a member of a specific political party as well as cast a vote for a candidate of another. I'll stay as a registered Democrat, however, on election day, neither Democrat or GOPer should expect me to select either of them ... especially Obama! Of course, there may be future events that will force me to reconsider, but today I'm independent.

Ok, fair enough. At least you've preserved for yourself the opportunity to vote in a Democratic primary if you choose to, or speak at a party meeting or talk to a party official and offer your views.

I once voted for a Republican, Carol Schwartz, for Mayor of DC some years ago.  She was socially liberal, bright, experienced, uncorrupt as far as I knew, and running against Marion Barry, who I thought richly deserved to have his next career move expedited. (which he's done, BTW, serving on the DC City Council for some time now.)  

Being a member of the party does not mean they own my vote no matter what they do. I am lately imagining myself in the voting booth next November putting my finger at the back of my throat as I anguish over whether I can actually vote for him.  I don't know if I would truly be able to do it when the time comes.  Next November is a long way from now.  Plenty of time for there to be even more policy idiocy to play out.  

It's hardly just Obama I'm furious and disgusted with.  One of my senators, Mark Warner, sent out an email stressing the urgency of "both sides" moving in a bipartisan way (he, too, is afflicted with a case of bipartisania, characterized by a drive to please political opponents no matter how irrational, counterproductive and unjust what one has to agree to to do so) to reduce the deficit.  I've sent him earlier emails about how I think it is outrageous to force some of the most vulnerable fellow citizens to take cuts when the Bush tax cuts tilted heavily to the affluent remain in place, and that beyond that, contractionary fiscal policy is totally counter-productive and self-defeating right now if we ever hope to get this economy turned around.  Message not heard,or at any rate rejected.  He'll be hearing from me again later today on that, for take two.

Our 30-something year incumbent House member, Frank Wolf, is hopeless.  We're running another new candidate against him this time.  My other senator, Jim Webb, has had enough, apparently.  He is retiring after one term.  Running to replace him is former Democratic Governor Tim Kaine, against George Macaca Allen, seeking a comeback.  If Kaine wins he should be among the 15-20 best senators we have.

 

I'm with you.  I've always drew my line at real cuts in the major entitlement programs and/or a new war without good cause, such as an attack on Iran.  Pretty low bar, I agree, but Obama still seems to want to slide under it.  

If he weakens some of the greatest political achievements in American history because of this game of chicken being played by a party that doesn't even control a majority of our government, I'm done. 

This President betrayed the homeownership society.

http://dagblog.com/reader-blogs/do-you-believe-magic-10991#comment-127227

There are very few things more important than shelter, unless you think living under a Minnesota bridge is adequate enough? Living in a park, cardboard boxes and then support your local schools?

What is your Plan MR PRESIDENT to deal with the home-foreclosure problem; blame homebuyers? You  &&&&&$%%*&^$$#

Families need bigger homes, if our elderly parents are going to move in with us,and our over educated children, with no jobs, need to move into the family home unless you think they should move to the parks. Mr Barrack "Herbert Hoover" Obama 

Is it Obama's plan that American workers and their families should live in Hooverville tent cities? 

Does he want the people to live in shanties or will this President destroy the middle class in order to bring down home values, making them affordable.

Destroy mine and other middle class workers, who played by the rules, paid their mortgages and yet you want to destroy our asset, in order to fulfill YOUR idea of a great American Dream to further your agenda?

This President is destroying America. Ask anybody other than an Obamabot.  

Bigger homes with more rooms, for all the family members cost more money.

Is it your plan Mr.President, that we should live as the third world countries do?

Is this the plan in order to make us more competitive. cut our housing costs?

You'll destroy the middle class, to serve Your Priorities Mr. President? 

No wonder your approval ratings suck, amongst the Non- Koolaid drinkers Mr. President  

This President has lost all sense of OUR priorities. as opposed to his plan to establish HIS priorities. Is Obama aware he IS destroying the middle class?  

REMOVE HIM, before he causes more harm than good.

Krugman warned the President, J Stiglitz warned the idiots, that the homeowners were the key to the recovery.

But this Presidents idiotic policies still continue to screw the middle class homeowners.

Were losing it out here Barrack "Herbert Hoover" Obama

How much longer must we endure under Your leadership?

Primary this @##$$%%%$***^%$##

Interesting. On the other side of the street the Republicans are worried that Obama will use the 14th amendment to raise the debt ceiling.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/07/14th-amendment-option-debt-ceil...

Rep Tim Scott has threatened to impeach Obama if he tries to use the 14th amendment.

Back on the Democratic side of the street, some believe that the idea that Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid cuts are the preferred methods of solving the debt, as suggested in the Politico and NYT, is simply not true.

http://www.thepeoplesview.net/2011/07/manufactured-outrage-of-fittest-so...

The White House sent an email to HuffPost denying the Politico and Times stories.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/07/social-security-cuts-debt_n_892...

First. Also on the other side of the street, some Republicans are starting to warm to an idea of adjudicating the debt-ceiling legislation against the 14th amendment.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/07/frank-dismisses-14th-amendment-...

Bear in mind, not all GOP members necessarily want to be seen as trying to gut Social Security. The program is pretty popular with the voters. A clear majority of Republicans favor taxing the rich over making changes to Medicare or Social Security. The GOP just lost NY-26 to someone who ran on a two-plank platform: protecting Medicare and raising taxes on billionaires and corporations (to balance both the budget and the playing field for small business). There seems to be some concern brewing over there.

Second. Who is this TiMT person you are highlighting? More to the point, why is their meta-rant indicative of anything beyond another Obama cheerleader losing their crap and going on yet another tirade belittling anyone/everyone who expresses concern over multiple-sourced media stories independently reported by several outlets that the administration has tabled objectionable cuts (often referred to as a trial balloon in some of the more stodgy of political circles)? I mean, is that person someone who can be said to represent "the Democratic side of the street" .... or is that just some random who said something you like? Just wondering, because in my observation most Democrats seem to be taking a rather less sanguine view of the reports  (to their universal credit) while your phraseology seems to indicate TiMT as an arch-type.

Third. What the White House said is:

"The story overshoots the runway," said a senior administration official. "The President said in the State of the Union that he wanted a bipartisan process to strengthen Social Security in a balanced way that preserves the promise of the program and doesn't slash benefits."

"While it is definitely not a driver of the deficit," the official added, "it does need to be strengthened."

That was hardly a denial. Kind of sounds more like an explicit statement of willingness to "strengthen" the programs as part of the debt negotiations, no? As the article you link notes, the devil is in the meaning of "strengthen". Since it isn't a driver of the deficit, why even consider seeing it "strengthened" as a part of a bill to deal with the debt ceiling?

My observation is that this whole dynamic was an obvious set up. This exact situation was predicted back in December when Obama decided to stop collecting Social Security payments at the same time he allowed the GOP to stick the top-end tax cuts on to the national debt while embracing the GOP mantra that the deficit was our biggest worry. It  is the most logical political situation that should be expected to arise from that set of choices. Lo and behold, it is playing out pretty much like it was amazingly obvious it would. It is hard to give him the benefit of the doubt under the circumstances.

I am just hoping against hope that the backlash among what can only be described as some of his most loyal supporters will get him to think twice. This balloon landed with an amazing thud and he doesn't have a year to drag out a war of attrition like he did with the public option; if it goes toxic on him here, he may have to table his SS renovation until after 2012. Not holding my breath though.

Your points are noted. I'm just waiting until I see what Congress actually creates as a bill.

The story 'overshoots the runway' was choice White House BS.

One could say in a similar analogy that the White House lined up on the wrong runway, tried to take off on an empty fuel tank , flew VFR into IFR conditions, or ran out of gas half way over Chesapeake Bay.

Here's another point of view from Kevin Drum

http://motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2011/07/obama-ready-go-big-budget-deal

  • Unlike a lot of liberals, I'm open to deals on Medicare and Social Security. Obviously the details matter, but means testing of Medicare has always been a reasonable policy option, while small changes to Social Security's inflation calculations have a lot of support from both liberal and conservative analysts. This isn't necessarily a disaster.
  •  
  • I think it's now finally time to stop pretending that Obama has miscalculated, or blundered, or been out-negotiated, or somehow forced into a bad position. Rather, everything he's done for at least the past six months is consistent with the idea that he considers the long-term deficit a problem, he wants to address it, and he views the debt ceiling talks as an ideal opportunity to do so with bipartisan cover. Obama isn't doing this because he has to. He's doing it because he wants to.
  •  
  • Jon Chait arguesthat Obama would be a fool to allow the Bush tax cuts to be part of this deal. Instead, "If Obama wins election, he needs the ability to use the GOP's opposition to any middle class tax cut extension without an extension for the rich as leverage to let Republicans kill the whole thing for him." But this assumes that Obama secretly wants to kill the whole thing. I don't think he does. He's said all along that he wants to let the high-end tax cuts expire but keep the middle-class cuts, and it's time to take him at his word. That's what he wants to do.

http://www.tnr.com/print/blog/jonathan-chait/91506/what-obama-can-give-a...

 

Do you believe it is ok to make cuts in social insurance programs with the Bush tax cuts still on the books?  With military spending cuts off the table or minimal?  With still half a dozen too big to fail financial institutions running amok as we await the next financial train wreck?  Why not make breaking them up part of the deal?  So long as we're opening up the playing field, why not do something that actually helps the country instead of harming it?  Do you believe we should be making, or need to make, cuts in social insurance programs at this time?  

I disagree with Kevin Drum in being "open to deals" on Medicare and Social Security.  

First of all, I am adamantly opposed to the Republican Party playing Three Card Monty with this country and government's financial future by threatening not to raise the debt ceiling.  There are no deals that should be made here.  Or rather the deal is, we win, they lose.  End of story.  Humiliate the SOBs.  They deserve nothing less for this.

If they refuse to raise it, then call them out until the Chamber of Commerce and others read them the riot act.  Make them pay a price for such eggregious, grossly irresponsible behavior.  

Unless, of course, you want them to do it again, so you can do more things you privately want to do but don't want to take responsibility for advocating openly.  

If Obama wants social insurance cuts he should just come out openly and advocate them instead of lamely using GOP blackmail tactics to allow people to think he was forced to accept those cuts against his wishes.  

Inflation in key sectors such as gas and food prices that they cannot in many cases avoid is hurting many seniors badly right now.  We need to be helping them out with a more accurate, for them, COLA index, not an even more onerous one.  If the prevailing feeling is we can't afford that, at least we should not be making it even harder on them, particularly given all of the other budgetary decisions that are being made in this country.

 

The Bush tax cuts may be on the chopping block. I'm just waiting to see the final product. As I note below it's possible that someone like Rand Paul could blow up any agreement with a filibuster.

Boehner's head will be on a chopping block before he or the GOP votes to end the Bush tax cuts, the deficit and/or the economy be damned.

And Boehner's head will be on a chopping block if he ultimately mismanages the debt ceiling crisis showdown his own party deliberately engineered as a kind of Russian Roulette ploy to extract further concessions from the Democrats on behalf of a truly heinous and ruinous GOP economic policy, and US T-bills get downgraded or any number of other potentially bad things happen if his party refuses to raise the debt ceiling.  

Any subsequent economic downturn would be laid squarely, and mercilessly, on his, and their shoulders.  They have bet the ranch that Obama will cave, or at least offer them things they want that Obama does not need to give them.  

That's why Obama needs to seize on the reality that he has Boehner in a vice on this, if he will only play to win instead of make completely unnecessary and counterproductive, demand-depressing, contractionary compromises.  He wins if he does not cut a deal, but instead lets Boehner and the GOP radicals twist in the wind and end up caving completely without getting anything.  He will look strong and they will look idiotic and reckless.  As they are.

You are absolutely right. But if the economy got even worse, Boehner would count on The Base blaming Obama as Fox News/Rush would tell them, and voting Republican anyway, even if they lived under that bridge Resistance talks about.

If Obama got an absolute lock on ending the Bush tax cuts on $250K or $500K and up, a raise of maybe 5% in taxes on the wealthiest Americans in an essentially bankrupt country, and not one that required a vote in 2012 or was qualified in any way, he would redeem himself of his endless compromising with that one action. I would place the odds though below 5%.

As much as I love being involved in politics, I HATE the games that make it up. Maybe it's because I'm not good at it. When it comes to my politics, I don't play games. I say what I mean and mean what I say. If I'm confused, I admit it. If I have a change of heart, I admit it. If I evaluate my position and realize I'm wrong, I admit it. I tend to think with my heart as much as I do my head. If my head thinks one thing, and my heart thinks another, my heart tends to win out in the end. I don't have a poker face. And I can't think five steps ahead.

But politicians play games. And some of them are VERY good at it. After absorbing much of the political discussions on the tube today, I am a bit less frightened than I was yesterday. Much of what is going on right now may be nothing more than political gamesmanship.

Case in point, Geithner letting go of the trial balloon regarding the 14th amendment. It was suggested that he brought it up just to let the repubs know that if they push Obama into a corner, he will use it. He'd rather deal w/ the "every 10 year" Constitutional crisis than a worldwide financial crisis. Plus, someone mentioned that if the repubs DO force us into potential default, they will give the executive branch unprecedented power in deciding who gets paid and who doesn't....hmmmmm think they REALLY want to do that? (On a side note, if they do reach that point, I hope the paychecks for members of Congress will be the first checks they neglect to cut!)

Another suggestion was made that the talk of cuts to SS, Medicare and Medicaid have been overblown to make sure that people are screaming loudly to keep the pressure on the repubs.

I don't know what it is true and what isn't. I'll continue my phone calls and letters. I'll continue to talk to anyone who will listen. And I will continue to be a democrat, come hell or high water. But I'm a little less crazy tonight. Maybe there is a method to their seeming madness.

 

Pretty convoluted IMO. The real key to what the current moves mean is Obama's real desires vis a vis Medicare and Social Security.

Any way it goes, so long as you advocate keeping with the phone calls, pressure and all around raising a stink (as opposed to going out with the "let's do everything we can to minimize criticism of Obama") ... I don't fault your basic approach at all. It's not exactly mine at this stage, but I respect it.

Although, in fairness, to my thinking being a unquestioning loyal Democrat and falling back on "what else can we do if the party doesn't listen?" when your party uses the power of your vote to screw up the nation is far more of a cop-out than being an honest independent and owning your choices based on who best represents your needs on a case by case basis. I wouldn't mention it but you seem to enjoy referring to us in a rather insulting fashion.

Seriously. If after all the phone calls you wholeheartedly make it clear you agree in advance to vote for whoever wears the "D" - why the hell is anyone at the other end of the line going to care what you think? I can't imagine you are under the illusion any of them actually give a crap about you as a person. Given a metric "On one hand, I've got someone who says they'll vote for me no matter what I do ... on the other, some guy will give my campaign $5 million but only if I do something to hurt that first person" I suspect most modern politicians will take the $5 million while counting on the grumpy vote you have already promised to give no matter what ... every single time.

Well, obviously, I am not telling THEM I'll vote for them even if they don't do what I want. I'm telling them that I will support them if they DO. Politicians seem to need political cover, and I'm trying to give it to them. I don't know what else to do. Bluffing doesn't seem to be effective, and if it's not a bluff, then it is cutting my nose off to spite my face, which doesn't seem to make much sense either.

I stand by my views about independents. I don't mean to be insulting, just honest. It is a group of disaffected people who have little in common other than disliking (perhaps even hating) both parties. I don't even see how you "court" a group such as that when there are no group "core principles." It's hard enough to deal with people who have some things, even most things, in common. But when you have a group that can't equate with either major party, but is more likely to be on opposite ends of the spectrum, rather than in the middle...what a mess! If it truly were a "centrist group" I might think it had a chance as a third party, but that is not the case. And as much trouble as 2 parties have actually governing with the polarization, it seems like it would be even WORSE when you have a 3 way split.

Anyway, I just don't see how putting yourself on the outside and sniping all around, not having to take responsibility for anything being done is a positive thing. But, this is America, and we each get to choose (so far) but I get to have an opinion on your choice, just as you get to have an opinion about mine. But at least we aren't screaming at each other, so that's progress.

 

 

kgb, thanks for answering the question.  Is Idaho an open primary state, BTW?  If not, have you ever felt as though you wanted to vote in a primary election, to try to help a candidate you liked get nominated, at least?  Or are you able to do that with last-minute party registration decisions?  

 

 

One other question I've been meaning to ask you, kgb, is why you like Harry Reid so much?  I was very impressed with you saying, against considerable CW, that he'd beat Angle in the end.  

I don't dislike Reid.  He's pulled a few excellent moves to block some really bad stuff from happening.  But the fact of the matter is that he presides over an utterly disfunctional institution that is one graveyard for much that progressives hope to accomplish.  I hardly lay all that on him.  Trying to get a bunch of senators to agree to anything, even just the ones in your own party, looks much harder than herding cats.  Do you believe he is doing what anyone could reasonably ask of him to deal with the black hole just to the north of the Capitol rotunda, to try to make it harder for minorities to block bills from votes with impunity?  

I'm also curious why you seem to despise Pelosi, given the numerous bills passed last Congress which died in the Senate.  Including a much bigger public infrastructure jobs bill than the Senate would agree to and which, had it passed, might have salvaged some House seats.  At the very least it should have put the White House and the Democratic party, kicking and screaming, unmistakeably on the right side of the jobs issue.  Do you really doubt that if she is Speaker that progressive legislation will die in the House that any Speaker could push through given the same group to work with?  

I know plenty of people hate her--she's pushy and forceful (as if a Speaker trying to get her caucus to move bills can afford not to be)--and the GOP has worked hard to demonize her, in good part in my view because she is so effective and they'd much prefer to deal with Steny Hoyer in her spot.  

Is there a specific thing she did that you think was just really, really bad, or anti-progressive as you see it that I am ignorant of?

The reports I'd seen indicated the White House has already put SS and Medicare cuts on the table.  Which means if the Republicans had accepted it obviously would have agreed to them as well.  Is it possible the WH had advance knowledge the GOP would decline, and thought the benefit of their looking like the more "reasonable" of the two sides would help give them more leverage going forward?  Yes.  Is it possible there could be a deal coming out of this that Democrats, on the merits and apart from the untrivial issue of whether letting yourself get blackmailed into negotiations on a matter such as this is a good idea (unless, of course, privately you wanted for there to be an appearance of your being blackmailed into negotiations so you could do things you privately want to do but don't think you could get done in other ways), should want to take? Yes.  Based on the reports so far, is there any potential deal under discussion that would meet that description?  Not that I've seen.  Is it possible the White House really will break ground, and, having put forward a number of proposals the public will see as "generous", but that they know the GOP will decline, say "no" and let the Chamber and others go to work on the GOP to turn tail and stop blocking the debt ceiling increase?  Yes.  It's possible.

It might also be possible to achieve true efficiency savings in Medicare that would not reduce quality of care or access to care for recipients.  I no longer trust this White House to do that.  They've lost me on that.  They've lost a lot of us on that, which is probably good, probably means real scrutiny instead of assuming it's non-injurious just because a Dem agreed to it.

 

   

I have long said that they are "republicrats." The only way to tell them apart is by the r or d after their names. One is only mildly better than the other, and my definition of which is which has changed. "Trusting a politician" seems to be an oxymoron.

I admit, I had "hope" that Obama would change that, and I believe it was an admirable goal to "change" the way Washington does business. His desire to put on the table a plan that had hopes of passing, rather than playing games with asking for the sun and the moon, knowing you'd only get a sliver of the moon was worth trying. It's the way it SHOULD be done. And maybe it's worth continuing to try, I don't know. If he doesn't, he's giving up, and maybe he isn't ready to do that yet.

I do know that something has changed, and I if forced to guess, I would put the blame on money in politics. The blatant purchasing of our politicians, which has been further enabled by a despicable supreme court and its constant 5-4 bombardment of everything we as a nation hold sacred.

If there were only ONE REASON and one reason only to do everything possible to keep a dem in the White House, that would be it. Getting control of the supreme court may be our ONLY hope as a nation.

 "It seems the Obama administration may be eager once again to 'give in' to Republican bullying, threats and demands, to 'get a deal' on the debt limit raise and the deficit.  We saw it when he dropped single payer. Again with the Dec. 2010 deal on extending the Bush tax cuts. Obama now may be ready to do what George W. Bush with a Republican Congress was unable to do in 2005. That being, to deliver on permanent cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, while not including in the legislation any return of pre-Bush tax rates for the wealthiest Americans, who (top 1%) own 90% of the country's financial assets.  Now that running for President costs a billion dollars, has the middle class been priced out of our democracy?" -NCD

What vacuous claptrap. The country is in debt up to its ears because of an insatiable thirst to spend money and/or create programs that aren't feasible. You'll recall that the federal government, via Fannie and Freddie, forced their PC onto banks a few years ago, a measure that was led by Democrats and rebuked by Republicans. The economy took a huge hit because the lending practices resulting from that legislation were terribly irresponsible. The lingering effects of that, combined with the fact that an inordinately large number of baby boomers are now reaching retirement age, and entering into a system that wasn't designed to handle their numbers, means Obama (Republicans and Democrats alike) will have to 'give in.'

You're trying to turn this into a class warfare issue and it's not that. It's been brought on by government leaders failing to face the music sooner rather than later. Twenty  years ago should have marked the beginning of spending reductions to anticipate mass retirement of the work force. Instead, there has been one spending binge after another. Now some activists and lobbying interests (including those of the wealthy) will have to give in, people will have to work longer for less pay, be layed off, deal with inflation, etc. There's no easy way out now, mainly because of poor planning and caring more about placating the money interests and unions than taking care of the people's business.   -T Smithers

I call B.S. on this, Smithers...

Medicare, Medicaid and SS are NOT the problem at the moment. Tax breaks to the wealthy, a decade of unfunded wars and an unfunded prescription drug plan on Bush's watch, complicated by GREEDY wall st. types inventing and selling bogus financial instruments are the culprits, and NOTHING is being done on those fronts. The repubs have been able to convince people that the social safety nets are what is killing us, and it just isn't true.

The CBO published a report that says, in essence, if we want to get out of this mess, what congress needs to do is NOTHING! Just let the Bush tax cuts expire, and by the end of 2016, we will be back on track. http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2011/jun/22/a-do-nothing-congress-could-solve-deficit-woes-cbo/print/

And just in case you don't know how we got in this mess, just look at this chart:

 

Nowhere is Medicare, Medicaid or SS mentioned as having been factors in our current problems. Trying to solve our budget woes on the backs of those in our country least able to afford it is just disgusting, especially when you consider who have benefited most in the last decade. The wealthy can afford to pay more taxes. We need to summon up the intestinal fortitude to force the issue.

To the Idealist: You appear to be calling BS something I didn't say. Where does that come from? I did not let Bush II and Wall Street off the hook mind you, but I did disagree with the blatant Maoist "class struggle speak" of the main article. And I disagree with your's, which is more of the same it seems to me.

The problem goes back decades. The Federal Housing Enterprises Financial Safety and Soundness Act of the 90s began the housing bubble. That happened not long before The President compromised national security in exchange for Chinese money. Clinton also had received illegal campaign donations (often in cash) from the Chinese Army. I point this out because the coddling of socialism goes back decades, yet much of the information doesn't come out until years go by... so that what once were pressing concerns of the electorate are effectively displaced or forgotten.

The idea that government measures will lift up the poor in their class struggle are not new. That legislation in the 90s that pushed lending institutions into affordable housing lending and prompted Fannie and Freddie to resist efforts toward accountability and transparency (to deny knowing if mortgage purchases were backed with capital) This was designed to alleviate "class struggle". And the detractors were accused of wanting to inflict pain on the working class! Pure socialism. President Clinton's 1994 National Partners in Homeownership program, also contributed to inflating the housing bubble. Fannie Mae, who gave grants to the now defunct ACORN, was a socialist front group. Pure socialism. And it continues...

The orchestrators of these measures are not to be trusted. The current lot of them, including especially Obama,  ran for election on the promise of transparency. The government has never been less transparent than it is now under his watch. That's not speculation. I work in government and talk to people on a daily basis who can no longer speak freely in their organizations. It has become progressively worse under Obama. The people currently in power are liars of a particularly insidious breed, they claim to be open and fair but truly are advancing their socialist agenda without popular support... The good news is that the electorate is onto this. False ideas of transparency notwithstanding, the cover-ups are not as effective as they once were. People seem to understand what's happening intuitively, and they're speaking out.   

 

"they claim to be open and fair but truly are advancing their socialist agenda without popular support.."

That phrase tells me much of what I need to know about where you are coming from.

Obama cannot be at once, a repub and a socialist. Nice try.

Excuse me, but "coddling socialism" and "socialist agenda" do not imply labels of Socialist or Republican... Whatever Obama may call himself, I'm discussing the ideas, and I take issue with the ideas for the reasons I stated. It would help you to dwell on that rather than make broad assumptions that you can't defend.

Respectfully, T, Smithers

Thanks for the slap down of  t smithers, although facts have little affect for those who live in the Murdoch's Fox News never-never land.

I love the way the Rushbots blame the real estate crisis on Fannie and Freddie, I suppose it was 'the government' that caused Lehman Brothers and Bear Stearns to go bankrupt, and caused Citibank shares to drop below $1 during the meltdown. They were all private companies over leveraged on housing debt and were totally unregulated by the incompetent ideologues of the last GOP administration.

 

Stephen Moore, current editorial board member of the Wall Street Journal and scion of the right himself wrote a book in 2005 of glowing praise of George W. Bush, titled "Bullish on Bush, How George W. Bush's Ownership Society will Make America Stronger". Coincidentally the book at Amazon is mistitled 'Owe-nership Society' a clever spelling change that attributes the true accountability to GWB and Republicans for the final episode, the Götterdämmerung of The Decider's reign, the collapse of the American economy in a morass of public and private debt.

NCD:  You're holding up a straw man by taking opposition to something I didn't defend... and called the same misguided thinking (taken up in the reply above) a "slap down"? Honestly, why did I bother explaining it in the first paragraph? You obviously did not read, or... if you did, consciously chose to ignore what it says. Either way, I cannot take stock in the analysis of someone who is so blatantly ignorant. As for the Rushbot comment, I don't listen to him, and I stopped trusting what he says after about 1997 (prior to that I considered him a highly accurate analyst who often rudely presented the truth).

I'm sure it would not trouble your "rush" judgment very much to know I'm not a right-leaning ideologue. I feel it's necessary though, for others who may read this, to know the truth. They might otherwise actually think your comment is witty. 

I would venture to guess you did vote for George W. Bush, twice.

I would also presume you would deny you did, or would obfuscate the issue of your responsibility for putting him into office. The voters who put Bush in office are, frankly, not sufficiently discerning or informed to provide cogent commentary or solutions for cleaning up the enormous mess Bush left behind.

NCD, You're wrong in your assumptions, and it's surprising that you'd be misled so easily. Which was not my intention... but you appear to see everything through the prism of liberalism, like many do. And when people aren't quite as liberal, they appear to be conservative, it's that sort-of, "If you're not part of the solution, you must be part of the problem." The problem is the jury's still out on exactly what the problem is. So presuming a solution, like you do is premature. And it will continue to alienate you.

Listen, I'm not for personal epithets or labels. I've rarely voted for the same party twice in a row. Democrats think I'm a Republican and Republicans think I'm a Democrat (for the reasons explained). There's no point though in just agreeing with the right observations of others. Nobody learns from that... and, I assume, the people in this forum are mature enough to not require constant validation of their feelings.

That's it, in a nutshell. I'm not going down the path of "flame wars". There's nothing more fruitless than that. Like I said (below), neither side is going to get what they want. It's the fact that they drone on and on about what they don't have that has created the current mess. It's not sustainable and no one seems to want to admit that. Harrumph.  

So you only voted for George W. Bush once?

I didn't vote for a presidential candidate either time that Bush II ran for that office.

You said the following ...

The country is in debt up to its ears because of an insatiable thirst to spend money and/or create programs that aren't feasible

Well you do realize when Bu$h entered office in 2001 he inherited a substantial budget surplus, right? What happened to it? Care to discuss it?

Also, you do realize money for both Iraq and Afgan wars were never in the GOPer budgets ... they were spending bills - no one can exactly knows exactly how much was spent. But the cost was floated with treasury bonds.

And the Bu$h tax cuts the GOPer's are so insistent on making permanent ... what was offset to pay for them? If they want to reduce the tax burden, then they have to cut funding from somewhere. You can't cut your revenue base but continue spending as if the revenues are still there, unless you float some treasury bonds to make up the difference.

Finally, the medicare prescription drug plan was passed but someone forgot to include how it would be funded ...seems they forgot to follow through.

If you settle those issues, there's no debt. As I mentioned to you yesterday and I'll do it again here ... the debt is from past legislation (2001 to 2006) the GOPer's passed but didn't provide the funds necessary for the legislation.

Beetlejuice,

Read my reply to NCD (above your's), you may find it clarifying. As far as the whole inheritance-of-Bush-budget-woes is concerned, he as much as admitted that Wall Street was reckless during his watch.... though at the same time he defended the ideology that allows the recklessness to happen. What you and others in this forum are not addressing is that government's track record of replacing "the financial machinery" or of generally taking over large segments of what otherwise are private business interests is very poor.

Notice that my statement didn't say that these things shouldn't be regulated?  Also, no one is seriously talking about the tax structure, about it's inherent tendency of self-fulfillment and the fact that t's embroiled with the political manipulations of government of all parties and interests.  

It amazes me how unwilling most people are to divorce themselves of political or ideological bias in order to be realistic. Harrumph ):  (that's my 2nd harrumph today)

T Smithers

 

 

I listened today to a group of my friends who have always voted republican that are just as upset with the far right and the game that is being played.  They are talking about changing their voter registration from republican.  Just look at the poles, people don't want cuts in SS, Medicare and other social programs.  They think the wealthy needs to be taxed more because it is the right thing to do.  The far right has over reached and scaring more then democrats.        

    

We are all venting based on speculation. I remember that there was much concern about Obama's Supreme Court nominations. Sotomayor and Kagan were not felt to be on the Left. So far, they have been part of the 4 making up the 5-4 decisions in Citizens United and the important aspects of the Wal-Mart decision. The worse case scenario did not pan out for the SCOTUS nominees. Let's wait and see what actually comes out of the discussions and what Congress actually formulates.

If Rand Paul decides to filibuster anything that is proposed, it may all be a mute point anyway.

Wouldn't it be ironic--possibly masterful in a way from his point of view--if there are Republican voters, (perhaps) falsely believing Obama was personally opposed to SS and Medicare cuts that the Republicans supported who switch to become Democrats if there is a deal that includes cuts to those programs?  Where Obama actually gets what he (perhaps) privately wanted on those programs, but gains public support (more than he loses from those unhappy with the deal, he hopes) because of voters who assumed that as a Democrat he must have been personally opposed to them?

If they believe the things they say they do, why are they still  Republicans anyway, regardless of how this situation turns out?  Seems as though there is a huge disconnect between them and their party's leadership, for whom further tax cuts for the affluent, not just preserving the Bush tax cuts, are clearly the #1, #2 and #3 priorities on economic policy.

Dreamer:

Your first paragraph is the sort of convoluted thinking that causes many to hate politics and mistrust it's adherents. Elected officials are despised for engaging in that kind of scheming instead of being transparent.

Various factions want certain things, and they can't get them: Maybe it's cutting taxes to bolster a "trickle down" economy, or maybe it's (an obvious favorite of your's) share the wealth to alleviate the working class.

Bottom line: The quarreling will continue, but people will not get what they want because they're asking the wrong people. Government's not the answer. Anyone who thinks it is is wrong headed and has ill motives. 

-T Smithers

 

Your first paragraph is the sort of convoluted thinking that causes many to hate politics and mistrust it's adherents. Elected officials are despised for engaging in that kind of scheming instead of being transparent.

No kidding, smithers?  You think?  

If you took what I wrote as meaning I advocate that approach as an MO, you've misinterpreted me.  What I was doing with that comment was ruminating on some "what ifs?", based on the kinds of thought processes that can and sometimes do enter into high stakes negotiations.  Not by any means limited to politics, BTW.  (Do you really think taking advantage of favorable, "unearned" perceptions is somehow limited to the realm of politics?)

"Do you really think taking advantage of favorable, "unearned" perceptions is somehow limited to the realm of politics?  -AmericanDreamer"

No, I misunderstood you. But now that you've said it (more completely), could it be a useful topic of discussion (I assume to be moved from this thread)? I think it relates directly to the idea of transparency in government. To whit: People wouldn't need to rely on perceptions (news article, blogs, think tanks, etc.)  if they dealt with actual information and transactions. Do you agree?    

Are you referring to transparency in how individual politicians operate?  Or greater transparency requirements in public policy, such as, for example, greater disclosure requirements for those receiving federal funds in some areas?  Or both?

Dreamer, Thanks. Yes, both of those, and more. If information is (as legally defined) "public" it should be readily accessible. Beyond that, some of the things that directly impact the nation's economic health that aren't as yet defined public ought to be defined that way. The onus should be on the obfuscatory entities to remove the barriers. It won't willingly be done because often the reason that certain roles exists is so that the public will remain unaware of how useless it is (and more than that, how counter-productive it often is), or it's so they won't have to suffer through the public's "interference". Change won't happen from within government (take a lesson from Obama), it will take an uprising. It will take a whole sale rejection of the status quo that results either in a fundamentally new culture, argued by reason... or, a blood fest. And I sincerely hope it's not the latter!

...a bloodfest. Hmmmmm...it would be interesting to see who is drawing whose blood. We can't even agree on what we disagree about, coming up with 2 sides for a battle would be impossible. There would 3 or 4 or 5 different sides all going at each other, sorta like a mega cage fight.

In case no one has noticed, this country is seriously screwed up right now. I'm kinda surprised the rest of the world hasn't figured out yet just how vulnerable we are to being overthrown. Or maybe they are just going wait for us to implode and they won't need to lift a finger.

Yes, I was going to reply to smithers that I'm not personally enamored of the bloodfest thing, and that I don't really envision an "uprising" animated by an overwhelming felt need for greater transparency in government operations.  That concern doesn't strike me as likely to galvanize or lend itself particularly well to social movement building.  Probably bread and butter concerns would be more like it if we keep going down the road we've been on.

Legitimate area for concerns?  Sure.  Worthwhile topic for discussion? Sure. The stuff of uprisings?  Not so much, it seems to me.

"I'm kinda surprised the rest of the world hasn't figured out yet just how vulnerable we are to being overthrown. Or maybe they are just going wait for us to implode and they won't need to lift a finger."  -Dreamer

Hmmm... I can't say I've not thought about it that way, wondering out loud what other's think. I usually conclude that they change their opinion as often as diplomacy changes to afford a position of favor, or disfavor... and that, while in a position of disfavor, they're most likely to (at least wish) the U.S. implodes without lifting a finger. Where global financial markets are concerned, fingers are being lifted, and people are constantly looking for inroads to American success. If that means harming the U.S. financially, were it possible to do... well, it's all speculation, but I've always thought it more than symbolic that the nations financial sector was attacked on 9/11.

"That concern doesn't strike me as likely to galvanize or lend itself particularly well to social movement building."   -Idealistic

No, but it's likely to lend to a revolution. So far, history has indicated revolutions relate to conflicts between the haves and have-nots, or to conflicting ideas about how to administer justice. The American revolution wouldn't have occurred if Britain didn't believe itself a sovereign monarch over the new land, by dictum... by fiat. It resulted in a system of self-governance, one that radically pulled away from old ideas. And ever since it happened, people have been hedging against it, trying to return to one form or another of tyranny (be it leftist socialism or imperialism). It could be argued that we don't need a President, or State Governors... or much statism at all... that the movement to American democracy in 1776 did not go nearly far enough away from the idea of kingship.

Re your blood fest reference I am trying to bear in mind that you are in recovery from Limbaugh. wink  I would think hearing all that hate radio if anything probably promotes apocalyptic, bloody thoughts among listeners, or at least tends to keep those thoughts at a higher level of consciousness among those already given to them.  Would you agree or disagree with that?

If it were true that was Limbaugh's tack, I might agree, but I don't agree it was. I think he's only "hateful" insofar as it bolsters ratings, and has a polarizing effect that might keep the dialog lively and/or seeming relevant.... but to feed into revolutionary tendencies? I don't think so. It would be valid to feed such tendencies in the face of certain injustice. I just don't think he sees that his role nor would he take himself that seriously. He has admitted that he's an entertainer above all, and secondly a political pundit. Were you aware of that?  

I think he's only "hateful" insofar as it bolsters ratings I think he's only "hateful" insofar as it bolsters ratings.

​I find that an interesting comment.  Do you think his listeners, on hearing that rhetoric, think "well, he's only doing it for ratings" and therefore don't entertain hateful thoughts based on Limbaugh's portrayals of what people Limbaugh disagrees with are doing to Americans and to our country?  

He has admitted that he's an entertainer above all, and secondly a political pundit. Were you aware of that?  

Do you think he aims to influence the national debate and policy in this country? (he has every right to try to do that, of course).  

I think Jon Stewart is a political pundit, whether he would say he is or not, who most definitely wants to influence public debate. He also happens to be entertaining to me, and without being hateful and using violent imagery as many of the right-wing hate radio folks do.  Are there others among them that you listen to?  

 

"Do you think his listeners, on hearing that rhetoric, think "well, he's only doing it for ratings" and therefore don't entertain hateful thoughts based on Limbaugh's portrayals of what people Limbaugh disagrees with are doing to Americans and to our country? Do you think he aims to influence the national debate and policy in this country? (he has every right to try to do that, of course). 

I think Jon Stewart is a political pundit, whether he would say he is or not, who most definitely wants to influence public debate. He also happens to be entertaining to me, and without being hateful and using violent imagery as many of the right-wing hate radio folks do.  Are there others among them that you listen to?"    

I don't think hatefulness has any relationship to rhetoric, humor or style of delivery. I don't listen to either Stewart or Limbaugh. I find both of them fixated on certain peeves, the complaints being either left or right. (Whether they're hateful men or not isn't for me to judge) But it's boring to contemplate things you know have no certain resolution, it feels like such a waste of time to me. I don't mean to offend you if you're a fan of Stewart, but I find him no different in substance (other than by party affiliation) from Limbaugh (except that he's wittier)... but I don't like either one of them. They epitomize what's wrong with political debate by turning it into sarcasm and disrespect  frown

No offense taken, though I strongly disagree that he is no different in substance than Limbaugh.  In any case, I rarely get to watch him.  

If we lived in a society where the level of public engagement with public affairs straight-up were higher (and there are plenty of reasons, by no means all invidious, why that is not the case; plenty of people are just trying to survive out there, working 2 or 3 jobs and trying to raise families, as an example), I might see more merit in taking what is a pretty strong broadbrush stance of condemnation towards using "sarcasm and disrespect" in engaging people on public affairs.  You say disrespect, which I think is true in the case of Limbaugh whereas I think Stewart uses wit, rumor, and, yes, ridicule, which I think might not seem that different than disrespect, but I think is, as well as sarcasm). 

My feeling is if the Stewart approach raises awareness, and raises the level of understanding and factually correct knowledge about public affairs, it's to the good. I see him as very much doing both. If he can get people to laugh in the process, what's wrong with that?  Limbaugh is a professional buffoon.  He doesn't care about facts. He has no concept whatsoever of giving those he disagrees with their due.  He is a master at setting up the straw man.  That's a cheap and lazy approach which degrades the level of public discourse, such as it is, about public affairs.

Stewart very much does care about facts. Not that he never makes factual mistakes.  But he actually cares if he does, and will correct himself if he's wrong.  Limbaugh, no.  He's a  frivolous person, who unfortunately appears to have a large influence in our society, much for the worse.  He encourages a frivolous, lazy approach to public affairs in his listeners.  Stewart is serious and substantive, and funny.  He wants to get a rise out of his listeners but he does it the legit way, not by playing fast and loose with the facts or enabling ignorance, laziness and socially callous and sometimes vicious attitudes.  Like what we need in this country is more people hating on one another.  JMO.

"You say disrespect, which I think is true in the case of Limbaugh whereas I think Stewart uses wit, [h]umor, and, yes, ridicule, which I think might not seem that different than disrespect, but I think is..."

Stewart is liberal. So are you. You would naturally defend him as the standard bearer of respect. One might argue though that applying humor to take jabs at your political opponents is more base and underhanded than simply stating your position. To be fair Limbaugh uses plenty of rhetoric (which can, in the worst case, be base or underhanded)... and it's likely never going to be funny to the people being ridiculed. The ones who do find it funny to see humor at other's expense? I don't want to be that person. I'm not a conservative or liberal thinker and I have no allegiance to a pundit or political humorist. I think government and law is too solemn a thing to be directed that way.

"Limbaugh is a professional buffoon."

Like I said, I don't care for him, especially his coarseness, but I think your comment is uncalled for (personal character assassination).

 

"Stewart very much does care about facts.... Limbaugh, no.  He's a  frivolous person, who unfortunately appears to have a large influence in our society...."

 

In my experience that is most often the rub. It's that he's effective. Part of the  reasons he's effective though has very little to do with facts, it's that people are willing to escape the liberal PC of the society by momentarily tuning in to some one  who hates it and can articulate what they're feeling. Unfortunately, it's sometimes disrespectful, done at the expense of others.

It really is what Stewart does too, in substance. If it were enough for him to tell a joke without ridicule or sarcasm it would probable be good enough for Limbaugh to do his sound bites without being vulgar.  But you won't see that..?

I'm guessing if Limbaugh were liberal and Stewart were conservative you'd see them entirely differently than you do, even if they used the same tactics as they do now.

T. Smithers

 

 

Stewart is liberal. So are you. You would naturally defend him as the standard bearer of respect.

I'm not defending him as "the standard bearer of respect."  He makes a living at ridicule, which is just about inherently disrespectful in mocking at least specific actions people engage in.  I do respect that, unlike Limbaugh, he does it through close attention to the facts rather than cheap, one-sided caricatures of whole categories of other human beings.  And I like that he often does it with wit.

In my experience that is most often the rub. It's that he's effective. Part of the  reasons he's effective though has very little to do with facts, it's that people are willing to escape the liberal PC of the society by momentarily tuning in to some one  who hates it and can articulate what they're feeling. Unfortunately, it's sometimes disrespectful, done at the expense of others.

I disagree that he is effective and has a following because he is willing to challenge what you call "liberal PC".  

There are plenty of satirists, including liberal satirists, who challenge "liberal PC."  If you knew anything about me you would know that I go against "liberal PC" sometimes, including here.  But apparently you can't hear that because to you, as to Rush, I am just a liberal and liberals don't perceive or go against liberal PC.  

Limbaugh makes a living on indulging peoples' false and negative prejudices and stereotypes about others. He fosters unnecessary division and discord in our society by telling listeners who find it convenient to believe the vile prejudices and stereotypes he pedals what they want to hear.  I don't respect that, no, nor am I bound to.  Maybe you think that is somehow helpful or at any rate benign.  I don't.  

I don't find Stewart coarse, not because he is a liberal, but because he is not coarse.  I don't say Limbaugh is coarse because he has right-wing, reactionary politics.  He's just coarse.

But I don't think that's at all unrelated to his popularity, either.  Take away Rush's coarseness and cheap appeals to peoples' preconceived and false or grossly oversimplified beliefs and assumptions and he's not Rush.  Some would say if it weren't Rush doing this someone else would.  Perhaps that is so.  But he reinforces ignorance and  exacerbates deep societal divisions and attitudes that make them even more difficult to surmount.

You forgive him, indeed have liked him, because he will confront "liberal PC".  I think that may be what he believes, and apparently you believe, his actions as mainly about.  But I don't see him as being mainly about that.  I think that is his cover for engaging in the cheap, tawdry rhetoric and appeals that are at the core of what his work is about.  He has few if any personal standards for what he will say on the air. 

I will withdraw the charge of him being a "professional buffoon" as being overly essentialist.  I stand by what I wrote above as specific criticisms of his actions.  

 

Dreamer, With all due respect, You've not stated any specific actions of Limbaugh, i.e. quotes, issues or positions. The thing is I don't want to be on the side of defending him, so I don't want to delve far into those details.

But, for your case against him to hold anything but air, requires you state at least some specifics. You haven't provided any.

Also, you have it wrong at me liking him, I've never liked him. I have agreed with things he said though. In the nineties he did a piece recounting the accuracy of his predictions about Washington politician's behavior. It was astoundingly close to the way issues played out on a macro scale. Whether I like someone or not, I pay attention to whether or not they have good insight or instincts. Otherwise, it seems to me it's just pushing the latest trend or scheme into existence.

Your note is filled with negatives toward someone who is known to be an arch conservative and adulation toward someone who is known to be an arch-liberal. You find the latter fact-based, witty, insightful and the former to be coarse, wrong-headed and lacking insight.

You're right that I don't know you, but by the words you've chosen it would be very difficult for me to believe there's not pronounced bias. It might help if you share with me some of the liberal PC that you say you've opposed.

Of course you're not required to convince me of anything. But I don't find myself persuaded of a clear, objective, unbiased composition to your thoughts regarding the present issue.

Thoughtfully and respectfully,

T. Smithers

 

it would be very difficult for me to believe there's not pronounced bias

"Bias" is having a point of view?  Nonsense.  I don't subscribe to any sort of "equal opportunity" theory, whereby (often straw man versions constructed for the purpose) liberals and conservatives are both "biased" because they have a point of view whereas the person assessing them is somehow not.  One might even say that is a kind of a political correctness in itself.  Your point of view is free from "bias"?  Please.

As for "objectivity", I don't believe in "objectivity" as a meaningful or even coherent concept.  We each have points of view and are products of our own experiences.  I'm not sure I believe that true "impartiality" is attainable but I understand, I think, what that concept means and think it is not without use.  As I've written here many times I find the application of labels to describe political points of view often more unhelpful and misleading than helpful.  Rush might try actually listening to those he castigates as "libruls" for a change (if he does, he certainly hasn't understood very well what he's heard.).  He might find that real people, unlike straw man labels, can talk back, and often don't subscribe to his disgracefully dishonest caricature of what "libruls" believe.

Your note is filled with negatives toward someone who is known to be an arch conservative and adulation toward someone who is known to be an arch-liberal.

My view of Stewart is not one of "adulation".  I did use negatives about Limbaugh, for the reasons I explained.  But you want examples?  Ok. That took prodigious research, perhaps as many as 5 seconds or so.  I googled "Limbaugh quotes racist".  Here are a few that turned up that exemplify my point, located at the following link

http://newsone.com/nation/casey-gane-mccalla/top-10-racist-limbaugh-quotes/

Oh right, this website must be "biased"--the site is called "NewsOne for black America", after all.  Do the folks writing things there have "biases" in the sense of points of view that inevitably reflect their experiences?  Sure.  Like I do and like you do and like all of us do.  Does that make the information they are citing, all sourced, factually incorrect?  

The comments after these quotes are those of the person writing the article.

“The NAACP should have riot rehearsal. They should get a liquor store and practice robberies.”  Source

Now Limbaugh is saying that an organization with a storied tradition of representing the positive black people for change in their communities are criminals and rioters. An organization that has been represented by intelligent professional African Americans, that has played a part in the Civil Rights movement and continues to be an intelligent, concerned voice for the African American community is degraded to common criminals. There you go Rush. Keep racism alive!!!!

“They’re 12 percent of the population. Who the hell cares?”  Source

Decent human beings care Rush. Someone out of that 12% is the President of the United States. Not caring about black people? Even George Bush wouldn’t admit to that.

[To an African American female caller]: “Take that bone out of your nose and call me back.”  Source

Okay, Rush, that’s classy. The old African bone in the nose stereotype. Wasn’t funny when the racist white school kids called the black kids that and it’s definitely not funny when a grown man with audience of millions of easily influenced dittoheads says it either.

“We need segregated buses… This is Obama’s America.”   Source

“Obama’s entire economic program is reparations.”  Source

So everything Obama is doing is a big plot to give money to Black people. Any evidence? Stop the racist fear-mongering.

(end)

Care to defend any of those statements?  Go for it--make my day.   But I should let you know in advance I'm not promising a reply.  I have limited interest in continuing this exchange on Limbaugh.  

A more accurate statement is that Obama dreams of one day seeing the poor and underprivileged lifted up, and his method would be to have the government provide (what he deems) a fairer model to achieve it. Since a higher percentage of blacks are poor they would receive more help in the form of money (stipends or credits) and services. To say he wants to give black money? No, but he does want to distribute money to many who happen to be black as well as poor? If the people who receive the help feel that they've been put down due to race they stand a good chance of perceiving such action exactly how Limbaugh described it (even thought it's inaccurate).

Yea I don't see the point of dwelling on pundits or comedians., especially when it now appears to be forcing  discussion of racism. I refuse to assign that label to any of the person's being discussed. I saw no proof of any hateful or racist ideas at those links. Just vulgarity... and as you know I weight Stewart's ridicule and mockery equally counter-productive. You don't see it like that. Fine. 

Latest Comments