Friday, July 15, 2011

Rebekah Brooks Resigns ... Has Anyone Hacked Her Phone?

Specifically, her communications with the Murdoch clan. Let's face it, the woman is HOT, I think the term of art is SULTRY. And you know what they say about redheads: IT'S TRUE!

Looking forward to a Gawker exclusive on the ex-News Corp International CEO. Just sayin' ...

President Obama Makes News At Presser As Idiot Punditocracy Continues Navel Gazing

The President reiterated that he wants the "big deal" and it's still possible to cut it. He also said it will only require "modest changes" to entitlements, throwing out the dreaded code for major slash-and-burn (depending on one's definition of what's necessary) that "current beneficiaries" will not be affected. Emphasis on CURRENT.

Translation: The President is on board with means-testing Medicare and raising the eligibility age from 65 to 67. This is a nonstarter, an elitist proposal hatched in the minds of sedentary affluent wonks toiling away in ergonomic, comfortable air-conditioned offices. It completely disregards genuine working class professions that entail HARD LABOR, from mining to industrial work, oil rig work, truck driving, construction, farming, heavy lifting, working on one's feet, a myriad of extreme working conditions that effectively sap a worker's health through a long, tough career. While the policy wonks pushing an increase in the eligibility age are looking at actuarial tables telling us the population is living longer, they totally disregard the realities of hard labor, much less what these figures indicate, if anything, about this type of work and the toll it takes on workers.

This is typical of inside-the-Beltway elitist thinking.

Mr. Obama laid out the three options available to him, in order of preference:
1. The "Big Bargain" which includes about $4 trillion in cuts and revenue increases. He emphasized, addressing my concern, that he is ready to cut the deal, with reams of charts, graphs and figures on his desk showing how the package can be put together.
2. A middle approach with the deficit reduction figure halved, which some Republicans have floated. He stressed he will not accept any plan which does not include revenue increases and places the onus solely on cuts. He also nixed the bogus Republican "balanced budget" approach, which would not solve any immediate problem, given its long ratification process, and would require draconian cuts to Social Security, putting the federal government in a straightjacket.
3. The McConnell approach, which is a "kick the can down the road" clean debt debt ceiling raise. The President said this is his least preferable option, but even here there is an opportunity to "make a substantial downpayment" on our debt to show the American people they're serious about deficit reduction. The approach here seems to be to include $1 trillion of identified cuts by the Vice President's "Gang of Six" with no entitlement cuts and no tax increases.
The President emphasized, however, that the Bush tax cuts need to be "rolled back" meaning that when their current extension ends in 2012, he will veto any further extension. That's always been the expectation, but he wanted Republicans to formalize it now, as part of the overall package.

As smart conservatives like David Brooks have been stressing, the so-called "Grand Bargain" and anything inbetween is a sweetheart deal for Republicans, the Beltway elites, and Wall Street. As usual with this President, it's his base that he's asking to do the heavy lifitng, with the prospect of Medicare denied for another two years once they reach retirement age. Or die, whichever comes first.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Lawrence O’Donnell’s Riveting West Wing Rewrite

Among his sizable talents, our friend Lawrence O’Donnell is a screenwriter. In covering the bizarre and Kafkaesque nature of Washington politics, Lawrence still fondly recalls his stint as a writer for the seminal TV show, The West Wing. Interestingly, on Big Eddie’s show which occupies the time slot once held by Lawrence, a reporter for the D.C. political online newsletter The Hill compared the drama of the “negotiations” behind closed doors to an Aaron Sorkin episode of The West Wing. The President might as well have thrown Roe v. Wade into his $4 trillion “Grand Bargain” enticement to Republicans, he said sarcastically.

But the Last Word belongs to Lawrence. Here is his mesmerizing West Wing synopsis:

Life imitating Art? Should we start referring to President Obama as ‘Jed’? Here’s my problem with O’Donnell’s thesis. Take Lawrence’s lead:

“As the president holds to his bluff that he wants a big deal, a $4 trillion deficit reduction package, the Republican leadership has gone from retreat from $4 trillion to $2 trillion, then from yesterday‘s surrender position outlined by Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell to today‘s total outright confusion about what to do or think next.”

Lawrence makes some big assumptions that, in my view, are unrealistic. The first is that the President’s “Grand Bargain” of a $4 trillion deficit reduction package was nothing but a “bluff” to “trick” the Republicans into a box after weeks of discussions around savage cuts to entitlements and programs near and dear to progressives and Democrats. As the President lectured us, it’s time to “eat our peas” and leave our “sacred cows” at the door, acknowledging that cuts to programs he likes “very much” would be “painful” to him too.

In Lawrence’s fertile screenwriter’s imagination all this was, apparently, a brilliant ruse by the President to piss off restive progressives — his favorite political piñata — “bluff” and “trick” the Republicans into total capitulation by driving a wedge between the country club types (Boehner and McConnell) and the Tea Party crazies (Cantor), while playing to the “independents” who decide elections (unfortunately) by showing them how painfully he’s whacking liberals and progressives and how earnestly he’s “bending over backwards” to meet Republican demands for deep, painful cuts.

Wow. I was almost convinced.

Indeed, the “bluff” and “trick” are confirmed by the Wall Street Journal editorial board, which Lawrence schizophrenically skewers then quotes as prescient and wise when they agree with him. Here’s what the WSJ editorial says, including the qualifier (in italics) Lawrence didn’t quote in full:

“We've never thought the debt ceiling was the best leverage for a showdown over the entitlement state, and now it looks like Mr. Obama is trying to use it as a way to blame the GOP for the lousy economy.

This may have been the President's strategy all along: Take the debt-limit talks behind closed doors, make major spending cuts seem possible in the early days, but then hammer Republicans publicly as the deadline nears for refusing to raise taxes on business and "the rich.”

Well, I ask you, Lawrence: Can you blame them? Of course Rupert Murdoch’s editorial board would ascribe the worst political motives to the President all along, a degree of cynicism and Machiavellianism rarely seen in politics.

I don’t buy it. I actually take the President at his word. It’s absolutely inconceivable to me, whatever we may think of President Obama, that he would take a $4 trillion gamble with seniors, the poor, the unemployed, people on disability, people on fixed incomes and Medicare, simply to assure his re-election and crush the Republican Party.

Would that it were true. If you’ve read this blog, you will know how much I wish this is the narrative that drives the President in his “negotiations” with Republicans. But I take the President at his word when he said he’s willing to risk his presidency to stand by his “Grand Bargain.” He also noted, acidly, behind closed doors that America is not “a banana republic” meaning that a short-term deal kicking the can down the road is unacceptable. Presumably, Mitch McConnell’s cave to do exactly that with a series of votes to raise the debt ceiling is equally unacceptable, though Democrats and others (me too) are urging the President to take it. Does the President’s invitation for the leaders to join him at photo-op on steroids Camp David for weekend meetings (declined) sound like he’s warming to McConnell’s surrender?

To accept Lawrence’s version of events is to believe the President is ten times the actor Ronald Reagan was. When he told us to eat our peas; acting! When he demonstrated anger and frustration with Eric Cantor; acting! When he proposed his $4 trillion “Grand Bargain” with an initial positive response from golfing buddy John Boehner; acting! And when he said, dramatically, that he’s willing to lose his presidency to save his “Grand Bargain;” acting!

It’s a shame the President’s “calm—no, not his calm, his deadly coldness face-to-face with these inexperienced, incompetent political hostage takers,” according to Lawrence’s script, wasn’t more evident when he threw jobs programs under the bus to get weak stimulus tax cuts and a states band-aid deal instead, threw the public option and negotiating in bulk for pharmaceuticals under the bus for a flawed, imperiled health care “reform” bill acceptable to corporate interests, and extended the Bush tax cuts violating a key campaign promise.

But we don’t wish to “relitigate the past” do we?

When President Obama went on vacation he took Ronald Reagan’s biography to read on his down-time. In the face of Republican intransigence “he, the president, got very agitated, said that he had sat there long enough, that Ronald Reagan wouldn‘t sit here like this, and that he‘s reached the point that something‘s got to give,” said Eric Cantor, the petulant juvenile who has unwittingly, and providentially, stood in the way of savage cuts to cherished Democratic programs and entitlements.

I’ve said on this blog and repeat it here that comparisons between President Obama and Harry Truman are absurd. Progressives and liberals are concerned President Obama models his presidency after Ronald Reagan’s. At least stylistically, and maybe even as to intra-party cooperation. This appeals greatly to President Obama. He capitulates so often, in our eyes, because he detests partisan conflict and believes in compromise and breaching differences. Therein lies the path to his re-election. President Obama, rightly or wrongly, sees himself as the tribune of the independent voter. He is the centrist’s centrist, a natural triangulator. Against all odds, he’d like his presidency to be not so much the post-racial presidency as the post-partisan presidency.

That’s all well and good, in normal, rational times. But the President, I believe, fundamentally misunderstood the nature of his opposition in the Republican/Tea Party. He may be catching up now, fast. Hopefully. Here’s Lawrence on America’s “moneyed interests:”

“America‘s moneyed interest who spend millions trying to keep Republicans in charge of the tax code so that they will save billions in taxation in their corporations and their personal fortunes looked on with increasing alarm. Now, those moneyed interests are desperately trying to teach economically illiterate Republicans in Congress that there are worse things that can happen to their wealth than taxation.”

Consider this, Lawrence. Whatever the moneyed elites told Republicans they’re telling President Obama as well. Wall Street has opened its pocketbooks to the President, and with that comes access. Here’s what I think they’re saying, and we’re not part of the conversation, we’re irrelevant: “Mr. President, we know for a fact that the Republican leaders are ready to deal. But they need something in return. They may accept closing tax loopholes and reforming our Tax Code as long as it’s revenue neutral. You must give on Social Security (because we want it privatized), cut Medicare benefits but leave cuts to providers alone, and work with states to slash their Medicaid obligations.”

President Obama is irritated by Eric Cantor, tribune of the Tea Party, because Cantor’s standing in the way of a grand corporatist deal. John Boehner is to Obama what Tip O’Neill was to Reagan — a willing partner (then it was a modest Social Security fix) in a “Grand Bargain” that would fundamentally alter the New Deal and impose deep, savagely painful cuts on the middle class, hitting those who can least afford it. President Obama fully expects John Boehner to rein in Eric Cantor and his caucus, just as he is confident he can deliver most of those 77 votes in the Progressive Caucus that would make a “bargain” possible of passage in the House. Eating our “peas” is Obama’s nod to Reagan’s maxim that “government is the problem.” But if those peas are laced with salmonella because we’ve axed all the government food inspectors, then we’re all dead.

Our hope (liberals and progressives) is that the President bows to current realities and accepts a variation of the McConnell proposal that would, effectively as Senator Bernie Sanders hopes, “kick the can down the road.” It’s not that we “trumpeted” our “distrust of Barack Obama‘s strength of character and his command of presidential power,” Lawrence. Quite the contrary. It’s his policy prescriptions and eagerness to cut the wrong deal that is concerning. And it’s not that we oppose cuts, reasonable reforms, and most of all, making millionaires and billionaires pay their fair share in taxes. It’s that a debt ceiling vote (taken 75 times since JFK) isn’t the proper vehicle for fundamental government reform. Much less behind closed doors and with a hard deadline looming.

That is sheer insanity.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Rachel Gets It ALL WRONG About "Dudes" And Women's Sports ... But She's Cute About It

On Monday, Rachel had a "Best Thing In The World" segment featuring fan reaction to the USA women's EPIC and HEROIC quarterfinal victory over Brazil in the Women's World Cup. I've seen a lot of World Cup matches, for both men and women, and this one ranks right up there with one of the great games in the history of football. ("Soccer" is an absurd American "improper name" anachronism for a game that is played more than 90 percent of the time with one's feet.)

But then, Rachel said this:
One of the things that is surprisingly satisfying, I don‘t, maybe in a feminist context about this, is to see all these dudes super psyched for the Women's World Cup victory.  In women's sports, it is so often caricatured that the only people who care about women's sports are women.  And so, the economics of women sports are often, I think caricatured as being untenable because women aren't as into sports as men are, and you can't possibly expect men to cheer for women.

And so, even though this is just some guy‘s YouTube video, collecting people's reaction to the Women‘s World Cup victory, let this maybe the thing that sets to rest forever the idea that dudes don't like women playing sports really, really well—really cool.
Rachel Rachel ... To say dudes aren't into women's sports is beyond ridiculous! It's so passé, so 1990s ... c'mon. First, men's perception of women's "soccer" in this country was forever changed when the U.S. hosted the Women's World Cup in 1999. It electrified the nation and filled the stadiums with sellout crowds that were evenly divided between men and women, boys and girls. The final at the LA Coliseum drew a crowd in excess of 90,185. That was a record for a women's sporting event, and it happened 12 years ago.

Second, us dudes have been "super-psyched" about women's sports at a high level, for a long time. The WNBA is a successful, profitable professional women's basketball league. I've seen lots of dudes at those events. In addition, there are all the Olympic events in which women stars shine as brightly as the men in parallel sports. And women's tennis, though not strictly speaking a team sport, has been a huge draw for decades, with the skill level and shot-making on a par with the men's game. Billie Jean King put that one to rest when she humiliated Bobby Riggs back in 1973. Were you even born then?

A week ago, when the Brazilian men's football team stumbled against lowly Paraguay in the Copa America, the fans started calling out for Marta, best women's player in the world, to get in the game. The Brazilian press and dude fandom have been closely following the Women's World Cup. They've already crowned Hope Solo the "Muse of The Cup" and have at least three good reasons to follow the USA women:

Kidding, kidding ... but I couldn't resist. 

Anyway, the USA meets Japan in the final. Japan is the Cinderella team of this Cup, not only because they beat the defending champs and host nation, Germany, but because their road to the final has been such a morale boost for a country ravaged by a calamitous tsunami and nuclear catastrophe. 

Realistically, though, I don't see how the U.S. women can lose. They have a great keeper in Solo, the best in the world, an excellent defense, and a pure "predatory" striker in Abby Wambaugh. She's deadly in the air and the Japanese women just don't have anyone who can stop her. Plus the USA women have lotsa heart, that intangible, and a Zen-like coach in Pia Sundhage who is a wizard at calibrating her team's fervor. They're peaking at the right time. And those are the teams that usually win.

Look Who's Talking ...

This was back in June, at the White House:

First it was triangulator-in-chief Bill Clinton. Now we see President Obama getting chummy with Paul "Eddie Munster" Ryan. Two corporatist Democrats friending the man who would KILL MEDICARE. Is President Obama in the thrall, under the EVIL SPELL of the GOP BUDGET MUNSTER? Has the President gotten the memo? A tweet, maybe? WE WON!

Dems SWEEP Elections In Wisconsin, California, Beat Back EVIL GOP DIRTY TRICKS

The Democratic Party's comeback started with NY-26, then continued strongly yesterday with a clean sweep of state senate recall primaries in Wisconsin (in which Republicans fielded FAKE Dems — they ALL LOST to the REAL Democrats) onto California in which the FILTHIEST, MOST OFFENSIVE ad in the history of political campaigns was run against the Democrat, Janice Hahn, by an obscure right wing hit group whose donors were concealed from the voters thanks to the EXTREMIST FIVE on the Supreme Court. It didn't work. Hahn won the special election to Congress with 55% of the vote.

Which raises two questions about the GOP:

1. Is the Republican Party headed for HISTORIC defeats in state and national elections in 2012; and

2. Is the Republican Party EVIL INCARNATE? We know the logo is:

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

When The Bad Guys Raise The White Flag Of Surrender ...

There's got to be:
(a) Somebody on the other side to accept the surrender sword ... you know, the one they planned on using to SLASH Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security; and
(b) Somebody who can not only raise the white flag of surrender but keep the rank-and-file from open rebellion ... What's that I hear about Jean D'Orange and Mr. Turtle being lousy leaders ... rumors of a coup in the air?
And, Rachel, when it comes to President Obama, it's TRUST BUT VERIFY. Raul Grijalva and the Progressive Caucus I trust; the GREAT Senators Bernie Sanders, Sheldon Whitehouse, and Sherrod Brown I trust; Nancy Pelosi, I TRUST AND LOVE because we know she's been in the President's face Big Time (sweet as can be to him, but skinning his DINO advisers alive) ... In fact, MINI-MEMO to those seniors who voted these Republicans in: YOU DO NOT DESERVE A CHAMPION LIKE NANCY PELOSI, YOU RATBASTARD OLD FARTS!

So there's that, Rachel. Sorry if I "emote" but this game's not over and the President could still snatch defeat from the jaws of victory if he insists on his CRAVEN "GRAND BARGAIN" — don't need to see the details; Nancy Pelosi's contemptuous expression as she spat it out told us all we needed to know.

President Obama's "Independents Strategy" is all well and good, but with 80 percent of Americans opposing cuts to the Big Three, playing games and "12" politics with people's lives is not appreciated and will not be tolerated by rank-and-file Democrats. Despite tomorrow's expected triumphalist coverage of the President's presumed triangulating "genius" the devil's still in the details, as Nancy Pelosi stressed. TRUST BUT VERIFY.

A clean vote on a debt ceiling increase shorn of all conditions, AS HAS ALWAYS BEEN DONE IN THE PAST, is victory for Democrats. We want to take this issue to the voters. When we win back the House BIG TIME, as well as keep the Senate and White House, then we can rationally make decisions about the nation's future. ONCE THE CRAZIES ARE SWEPT FROM OFFICE.

Nancy Pelosi said she "couldn't be prouder of the President's leadership." (WINK.) Take the deal, Mr. President. Please. The debt ceiling vote is NOT the venue to re-engineer the New Deal. No matter what your unelected-hated-by-Krugman economic advisers have to say.

President Obama's Choice: Betrayal Or Redemption

It's not a stretch to say that President Obama is an enigma, not only to racist crazies on the right and most Republicans, who regard a black president as inherently exotic, but to liberals and progressives who are increasingly alarmed by his political leanings. If the President's "Grand Bargain"— an unfortunate term dripping with the sarcasm of Nancy Pelosi's voice as she uttered it — bargains away Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, he will have imperiled his reelection. Whether or not we, his base, choose individually to vote for him. The Democratic Party's greatest achievements, the "Big Three" as Big Eddie calls them, are not bargaining chips to be used in a deal with purveyors of evil on the right.

The President's weird compulsion to sell out to the Republicans, his willingness to lurch rightward, so unlike Truman (a RIDICULOUS comparison by the idiot pundits) given that "the buck stops here" was bolted to "Give 'Em Hell" Harry's desk, has had the infamous and utterly disgusting Beltway Media, the Idiot Punditocracy, as partner and co-conspirator in this kabuki theater. Consider their running, carefully crafted narrative.

The New York Times, as distinct from individual commentators like Paul Krugman and its editorial page, ran a story exalting the President's "centrist stance" (odd choice of words for a front page headline) in the debt ceiling negotiations. How often have we heard President Obama described as "the adult in the room"? On Hardball, the old Fox-hound Major Garrett, D.C.-connected up to his eyeballs, said Republicans "privately" conceded the President was winning the messaging war for 2012, or simply "12" as hip IPsters like Chuck Todd prefer to say.

Politics is one thing. But what does any of this have to do with people's lives, with millions of seniors and the poor in this country for whom any benefits cuts will have a devastating impact, for whom preserving the Big Three isn’t just a D.C. parlor game? Most of the Idiot Punditocracy have a financial stake in this. They could care less about Social Security and Medicare. They just couldn’t give a damn.

But when it comes to their portfolios, their highly leveraged investments in the stock markets, well that’s a different story. Unlike the Republicans (e.g., Eric Cantor) the Idiot Punditocracy are more exposed financially, since they do not have the politician's corporate and Wall Street sugar daddies to soften the hit and line lobbyist second careerist pockets with millions once they cash in their puny government salaries (which we pay) for the big corporate bucks.

Still, the Idiot Punditocracy isn't nearly as exposed as the rest of us are. They’re richer than most of us. Unfortunately, unlike progressive media and patriotic millionaires and billionaires, like Warren Buffett, the IPsters’ job security depends on playing ball with the powers-that-be. Competing for sources, too. Besides, they’re ideologically predisposed to hang with the corporatist right wing, anyway.

Here are two PRIMO CNN examples. First, fake muckracker Anderson Cooper browbeats a twenty-two year old Daily Caller crapagandist. Hey, anyone can make fun of a silly young wingnut chick writing for a right wing propaganda rag. What did you expect, Coops? I mean, really, they’re unwittingly hilarious. Poor Huff Post, though. Coops just compared Arianna-AOL to the Daily Caller. Ouch — low blow. Let’s hear it, Arianna: “Ah Wah Saw Passed!”

Lecturing the wingnut chick, Coops drops this bit of apparent self-projection: “Maybe you want to prove you’re ideologically on the right side …” Hmm … for a dude who falsely claims to be neutral is this just more of Coops’ biting satire?

Second, CNN IDIOT-SUPREME Jessica Yellin makes a plaintive plea to the White House. Keith takes it from there:

It's amazing how the Idiot Punditocracy has so successfully spun this manufactured Washington crisis. The President plays right along. He actually said he wanted a "FAIR AND BALANCED" approach, and did not wish to "RELITIGATE THE PAST." Karl Rove's head must be exploding while Charles Krauthammer goes orgasmic. "Relitigate the past" is Obama Code for caving. The President is ever reluctant to upset his GOP pals, John Boehner and Mitch McConnell — whose stated goal is to do “everything” he can to make Obama a one-term president.

President Obama has a tendency to fold when he considers a disadvantageous political landscape without once factoring in his capacity to change it with bold, proactive action. This is where he differs from FDR and Harry Truman. Neither were averse to taking on institutional and political "sacred cows" such as the Supreme Court and the GOP. They may have lost a battle or two, but it was this signal they'll FIGHT that kept the Democratic Party's foot in the door and the New Deal safe. By contrast, President Obama is very much like Bill Clinton, the triangulator-in-chief. The President even tells us he's "bent over backwards" to accommodate the VILE Republican schemes. Well golly-gee-whiz, isn't that special!

Any objective observer could deduce that Republicans hold the strongest hand, largely as a result of their insane willingness to tank the U.S. and world economies to gain power, knowing confrontation-averse President Obama would put Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security (which has nothing to do with our debt; the program is fully solvent for the next 26 years on its current trajectory) on the table. In return, the President asked for practically nothing save a few corporate tax breaks and revenue-neutral tax loophole closings. SOME BARGAIN.

The Republicans must be holding out for total and complete capitulation. President Obama is running the risk of being THE FIRST DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENT TO DRIVE A STAKE THROUGH THE HEART OF THE NEW DEAL. There is one word, and one word only to describe this, if indeed it comes to pass: BETRAYAL.

Or, as Keith was saying:

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The GOP Wouldn't Be Complete Without Your All-American NAZI Presidential Candidate

David Duke, the once and future KKK and American Nazi leader, is threatening to run for president and wants your support. Teabaggers for Duke? Has a nice ring to it.

TEA PARTY Remedial Ed: If It Walks, Squawks Like A RACIST ...

The Tea Party/Teabaggers in four slogans — A visual guide:
Lexington, Kentucky Fourth of July PORN REVELERS, where the horses are smarter and nobler than the people.