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Photo by joanneleon. December, 2012

'What we have now is ham-and-egg justice. What you mean? One time there was a national contest. They wanted a ham-and-egg sandwich, so they put a hog and a chicken up on the table on national television. The chicken went with the deal before the man finished explaining what the rules were. The chicken ain't got no problem with a ham-and-egg sandwich. The chicken dropped the egg and moved on. The hog was raising hell because the hog had to drop a leg, and he couldn't move on. Hogs don't like ham-and-egg sandwiches. Time for a Change.'

-- Jesse Jackson





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News and Opinion




Ham & Egg Justice Quotes of the Day


Biden indicated that the White House could in theory agree to a rate lower than 39.6 percent in a deal with House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio).

“The top brackets have to go up -- this is not a negotiable issue; theoretically we can negotiate how far up,” he said, according to a White House pool report.

"I’m not going to get into the specifics and negotiate line items on what those reforms might look like as part of an overall package," Carney said last month.

"But [Obama] understands that compromise requires both sides to make tough choices."

The Senate voted 98-0 on Tuesday to approve a wide-ranging defense bill that authorizes $631.4 billion in funding for the military, the war in Afghanistan and nuclear weapons.
Sell-Out of the Century?

If this is true — and right now it is a very big if — then it represents the greatest sell-out of a winning political coalition since LBJ ran on “not sending American boys to Vietnam.”

David Dayen hits Chait on his fiscal cliff flip-flop and Medicare idiocy.  Chait responds largely with childish ad hominem (the kind of "ain't got nothin' else" ad hominem that critics at dkos are very familiar with) and Dayen responds promptly to that.  Boy, am I going to miss dday.  I hope he decides to take only a short vacation from blogging or comes back on the scene in whatever form suits him best.  And overall, it is really a relief to see more real debate happening again after a steady fare of idiotic horserace campaign reporting for such a long time.  To his great credit, Dayen stuck mainly with the critical issues throughout, of course, but he was largely a voice in the wilderness for months, maybe years.  Cheerleaders-in-chief will probably say, "but it was worth it because we won!", ignoring the fact that if the Democrats had actually adopted the progressive policies that they give lip service to during campaign season, they would not even need such enormous propaganda campaigns and would not have to avoid like the plague talking about their actual record.
Responding to Jon Chait on the Suddenly Possible Idea of Raising the Medicare Eligibility Age

So my old college pal Jon Chait (I promise before the end of my time here to pull out the parody my college humor magazine did of his column in the Michigan Daily) has responded to my criticism of his endorsement of raising the Medicare eligibility age, America’s worst new idea. I’ll get to batting that around in a moment.

In case you didn't read the latest Chait article that Dayen was responding to, you have to at least read this part.  This is one of the most valuable roles that the best writers in the left blogosphere play, imho, and it is tragic that many of them traded this important role for a "Cheerleader-in-Chief" role instead and have sold their integrity and the trust of many of their readers for access, ego and who knows what else.  But this function is so critical and scarce that other leading voices will rise up or step in to help fill that void.  It's just a matter of time.  Anyway here's Chait yesterday:
My Wanker of the Day Acceptance Speech

Yesterday, I argued that, given that Democrats will have to make some budget concessions to the GOP, raising the Medicare retirement age is worth doing. (Summary argument: It carries disproportionate symbolic weight with Republicans, people will still be covered by Obamacare, and it will create a constituency against Republicans' efforts to nullify Obamacare.) FireDogLake’s David Dayen has a long post calling my argument “miserable,” which is impressive enough for Atrios to award me the coveted “Wanker of the Day” title. (“Wanker” is a leftie blog cliché used to describe people who deviate from the left-liberal line but aren’t conservatives. Say, Tom Friedman.)

I actually think Froomkin missed the mark, overall, about false equivalences here and he hits with too broad a brush.  I think the problem of false equivalences was big, really big, in the past, but with the steady rightward movement by the Democratic party, the movement toward huge campaign $, warmongering, police state, disregard of civil liberties, drill baby drill and even more fealty to Wall Street, it gets harder and harder to argue against the false equivalence charges broadly.  It's not hard to argue that there is false equivalency on the extremism of the parties though and lies about economics, which Froomkin eventually zeroes in on.  It's a shame that he didn't hint at that from the start and instead he framed it as a good party vs. bad party thing up front.

But his points about how the media is unduly influenced by Peterson-funded think tanks, how their editors and producers are primarily motivated by profit and ego, how journalists are timid, and how they are totally bought into the austerity and fiscal cliff bullshit, are spot on and make the article well worth reading.  The rest of what he is saying about false equivalencies and how one party lies all the time... I think that his argument is oversimplified here.  He doesn't touch the issue of corporatism and the influence of the 1% on both parties albeit in different ways and sometimes by different sectors.  But there is more than one way to lie to the populace.  There is more than one way to screw the 99%, stabbing in the front vs. stabbing in the back, and all that.  And some of the biggest lies of all, mostly around imperialism, are very bipartisan.  But the article is still very worth reading.

How the Mainstream Press Bungled the Single Biggest Story of the 2012 Campaign

But according to longtime political observers Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein, campaign coverage in 2012 was a particularly calamitous failure, almost entirely missing the single biggest story of the race: Namely, the radical right-wing, off-the-rails lurch of the Republican Party, both in terms of its agenda and its relationship to the truth.
[...]

"Their editors and producers, who felt they were looking out for the economic wellbeing of their news organizations, were also concerned about their professional standing and vulnerability to charges of partisan bias," Mann said.

So most reporters just kept on with business as usual.

"They're so timid," Mann said.

[...]

"The Peterson world, I think, has given journalists the material to keep doing what they're doing," Mann said of the vast network of think tanks and other influential Washington groups underwritten at least in part by Wall Street billionaire Peter Peterson.

Peterson's vast spending has given rise to an environment of contempt among the Washington elites for anyone who doesn't believe the government is dangerously overextended. And by that reckoning, the Democrats are therefore more out of touch with reality than Republicans, who at least pay the concept ample lip service.

Obama Cheaps Out On Sandy Recovery to Prop Up Austerity Sham

Oh, I'm sorry. Is that headline a little strong? Maybe because I am just furious over this, as everyone should be. Compare and contrast, kids:

The Senate on Tuesday passed a massive, wide-ranging $631 billion defense authorization bill that restores threatened Pentagon biofuels programs, issues new sanctions against Iran and changes U.S. detention policy for American citizens.

The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) passed the Senate unanimously 98-0 after the bill was debated for five days and hundreds of amendments were considered on the floor.

That's not even counting the so-called "black budget," of course. Have you ever seen a politician draw the line on the defense budget? I can't remember it ever happening.
Lockheed Said Close to Pentagon Backing for 29 F-35 Jets

Inclusion of funding for all 29 planned F-35s in the budget proposal President Barack Obama is due to submit in February would be the latest show of Pentagon support for the fighter after past criticism. The Defense Department said last week it had reached an “agreement in principle” with the company on a contract valued at as much as $4 billion for the fifth production batch of 32 F-35s. Funding for those planes will come out of money already appropriated.

Previous postponements of planes were based on development setbacks and rising costs for the F-35, now estimated to cost $395.7 billion for 2,443 planes, a 70 percent increase since 2001.

Krugman, Klein: Dems will cave on Medicare, raise age 2 years, raise taxes only slightly
I just report them. Here’s Krugman (h/t my Twitter friend MiroCollas; my emphasis everywhere):
Ezra Klein says that the shape of a fiscal cliff deal is clear: only a 37 percent rate on top incomes, and a rise in the Medicare eligibility age.

I’m going to cross my fingers and hope that this is just a case of creeping Broderism, that it’s a VSP fantasy about how we’re going to resolve this in a bipartisan way. Because if Obama really does make this deal, there will be hell to pay.

Some comments from the Americablog article above:
The "Liberal" [redacted!]s who spin themselves the most trying to defend him are financially comfortable and won't be affected by any grand bargain. They perpetrate the lesser of two evils dynamic because in all their cowardice, they expect the economically unstable to martyr themselves so they can carry on with their beautiful lives uninterrupted. They still have too much to lose to promote the chaos of REAL change. Predatory Capitalism was good to them.
In the end she [Pelosi], like the rest, don't give a shit about us. They have their pension, their health care, their offshore accounts courtesy of the lobbyists and corporate owners. The theater played out on tv is just for us rubes. The "we really care but we don;t want to go off the cliff" bullshit. They voted for it the Dems and Repubs put this bitter pill in the legislation which approved the extension of the tax cuts.

Is there not one politician who will stand up and take a stand for the rest of America. Raising the Medicare age accomplishes what exactly? No one ever asks. Increase the payroll tax on Medicare by a few bucks more per person (and company). Raise the limit on SS as well that solves the issue of these programs and didn't require more that 20 seconds of my piss power brain power to come up with. All the ruminations, hand wringing and whining is for the theater. It is another cosmetic fix of the problem of corporate greed, corporate welfare and the inability of our elected Congress to do their job for Americans.

While I am ranting would someone tell America that Obama just signs spending bills, Congress prepares them, the Senate and House prepare them and they go to him for approval. Also tell Obama he is the final arbitrator for the country. We all elected him he represents all of us not just some narrow district but the whole country and if he sells out he sells out all of us. Each and every poor, homeless, elderly, going to bed hungry child, chronically unemployed, foreclosed upon, incarcerated, underemployed, corporate victimized, fucked over American who voted for his sorry ass.

Agreed. The fix is in. And once again, we'll all be blackmailed.

We'll be reminded: __ is 1000 times better than __ . And __ will make liberal picks to the Supreme Court as well.

Look - this is a sham. All of this sturm and drang is to take more money away from grandma while the rich get by as unscathed as possible. While the massive sucking machine that is the U.S. Department of Defense gets by with no sacrifice, nor any of its war profiteer contractors.
The reason is plain because their corporate owners would not like that. It is ok to make 98% suffer and be afraid of the horrible things that will happen if we go over the fucking cliff but their will be no bluff calling on their dime.
Clever trap by the GOP...they get what they want out of Medicare AND get to blame the Dems in 2014...guess who'll have hell to pay and guess which party will be laughing all the way to the majority?
If that's the deal, it's stupid. It's one of those simple-minded ideas that sounds good to people who don't think. The result is likely to be the exact opposite of what's intended: greater government spending on healthcare generally and higher Medicare premiums for those in the system. If you raise the eligibility age by two years, you strip off the generally healthiest tranche of Medicare participants, who, on the whole, are probably paying more into the system than they're drawing out. So, right there, the rates on the older cohort that uses more services will inevitably go up. And tthe 65-66 year olds who are cast off who don't have jobs or sufficient income to pay their medical bills will be thrown into the Affordable Care Act. The proposal is just moving the deck chairs on the Titanic, and it's worse, because it just makes the ship take on more water.
This "DEAL" ideology is a scheme, and has always been one. How many "DEALS" did the Bush White House make with Pelosi when she was Speaker? Were we held hostage by "DEAL-MAKING" the whole time Dems were in charge of the House? Obama trying to dominate and intimidate the Democratic caucus is so "TOP-DOWNISH", he may as well wear a micromanaging/dictator pin on his lapel.
[...]
Or maybe that's what the Democrats want. For Obama to give them an excuse to do these things. Either way, it's time for liberals/progressives to wise up to the scheme. These "CRISES" that always want to link regular people's security to rich people's demands are "ALL CONTRIVED" and there is no reason WHATSOEVER for anyone to be accepting that "Obama & Boehner" should be the ones doing the deciding. What kind of conservative paradigm is that nonsense?
As many have pointed out: Raising the Medicare age doesn't save much money, it just kicks the cheapest (read: healthiest) participants out of the system. These kinds of tweaks should be the product of a committee tasked just with streamlining Medicare, not back-room deals over unrelated issues. Good thing Democrats held all the leverage, if not they might havethrown in the addition of Reagan to Mt. Rushmore.
How is Krgthulu going overboard? He's just giving his opinion on what Ezra "David Broder, Jr." Klein posted.
No, no no! It's after the election! What the [redacted!]s told you - that was LAST Month.

Now is the time you Have To Know That Obama Was Always a Centrist. And that You Want A Pony, and Are Not Pragmatic Enough.

And this month, if you believed Obama would be a flaming liberal, you are a naive fool, whereas last month you were a troll for not believing it.

Gotta remember the month.

This is America. If you don't like it, too bad. If you want to stifle criticism of the President, or try to edit it if the tone is not to your liking, then you are one of those people Roosevelt was talking about. We weren't supposed to confine our criticism to only those points where we could be pleasant or nice about it or where others told us we could or should.
When Obama gets done, he might have done more terrible damage than any Republican, by sheer prostration of his followers.
[...]
You [redacted!]s and your thousand times better than are going to thousand times better all of us into the goddamn homeless streets before any Republican gets us.
An Interview with Cornel West on Occupy, Obama and Marx

PG: Right, and it’s obvious that these confrontations have led many in the mainstream American press to denounce you, but even then your popularity among poor and working people in America and across the world continues to grow. How do you account for that?
CW: Well, one important thing to keep in mind is that in the 65 events that I did, at each stop I would tell them that we must bring Reaganism to a close – McCain and Palin were the last moments of Reaganite policy (unregulated markets, indifference towards the poor, stagnating wages) – and that if Obama won, I would break dance in the afternoon and be his major critic the next morning. That’s how I ended every speech. And so I broke dance in the afternoon [when Obama won in 2008] because we did stop McCain and Palin. But the next morning I knew the social forces behind him (Wall Street and so forth) needed to be called into question. So when I went after Larry Summers, went after Tim Geithner, went after Gary Gensler and all the Wall St. folk who inhabited his space, his cabinet, Rahm Emanuel, his chief of staff, and so forth, they [his supporters] said “you’re turning on the President!.” I said “no, I’m just being consistent. I’m being true to what I said.” But then that’s where the demonization set in. But, you know, that goes with the territory.

Tax gambling on Wall Street to avoid fiscal cliff

Earlier this week, Gaius argued that we should pass a sales tax on all Wall Street transactions as a way to avoid going over the fiscal cliff. After all, it was Wall Street that put us in this situation in the first place so they should be the ones to pay.

I agree in principle, but I have a slightly different solution.

If Wall Street were solely comprised of billionaires looting and gaming the system at the expense of everyone else, I’d be inclined to agree. But a sales tax on ALL transactions might affect plenty of people that we’d rather not tax.
[...]
Avoid the Fiscal Cliff by Redefining the Difference Between Long-term and Short-term Capital Gains

Tax capital gains on stock at 99 percent for stock held less than one day. Gradually reduce the rate the longer the stock is held, ending with gains being taxed as regular income after the stock is held for at least a year.

Currently capital gains are taxed at different rates depending on how long the stock is held, but the rates are structured in a way that still rewards gambling. Redefining the difference in this fashion would effectively eliminate the incentive for flash trading and would guarantee that Mitt Romney pays a higher tax rate than his secretary.

Business owners warn against a fiscal cliff deal that sacrifices entitlements to save tax cuts

“If I could talk to Congress, I would tell them to stay away from entitlements,” Mary Black, owner of a UPS franchise in Baton Rouge, La., said in an interview. “I’m willing to pay more taxes if that’s what’s needed to pull up the country, and my business would be okay. But cutting Medicare and Medicaid could have some really bad consequences for small businesses.”

[...]
“Had it not been for Medicare, my business would have gone under,” Black said, noting that her business would have likely been the first thing sold to cover the expenses. “No question, I would have had to close the doors.”

In 2007, for which the most recent census data is available, one in eight small business owners in the United States was over the age of 65, and twice that many were less than a decade away from being eligible for Medicare. But the program and others like it could see cuts next year as Republican lawmakers push for Democratic concessions on entitlements in exchange for their approval to raise taxes for the wealthy.

“We understand that an end to the Bush tax cuts for the richest 2 percent could be traded off for cuts to Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare,” a dozen small business owners who are part of the Main Street Alliance advocacy group recently wrote in a joint letter to leaders in Washington. “This constitutes a bad deal for small businesses – Congress should reject it.”

George Will... batshit crazy. Forgetful too. Apparently doesn't remember that Saddam had nothing to do with 9/11 and had no WMDs.
A case for targeted killings

President Franklin Roosevelt was truly astonished when told by a reporter that Adm. Isoroku Yamamoto, architect of the Pearl Harbor attack, had been shot down by U.S. planes over a Pacific island after Americans decrypted Yamamoto’s flight plans. FDR had encouraged this “targeted killing” — destroying a particular person of military importance — a phrase that has become familiar since Israel began doing this in 2000 in combating the second Palestinian intifada.
[...]
After the terrorist bombings of two U.S. embassies in East Africa in 1998, the Clinton administration launched cruise missiles against suspected terrorist camps in Afghanistan, hoping bin Laden was there. If the missiles had killed him, would this have been improper? In March 2003, in the hours before the invasion of Iraq, the George W. Bush administration, thinking it knew where Saddam Hussein was, launched a cruise-missile strike against one of his compounds. Was it wrong to try to economize violence by decapitating his regime? Would it have been morally preferable to attempt this by targeting, with heavy bombing, not a person but his neighborhood? Surely not.

An Appeal to President Obama’s Better Side

The case she is focused on involves the administration’s decision to kill Anwar al-Awlaki, an American citizen who became radicalized, moved to Yemen and established himself as a promoter of spurious religious justifications for terrorism and other forms of violence. Administration officials say they had evidence that he was in fact involved in supporting and planning terrorist operations; he was killed with a drone stroke in September 2011.

A year later, another drone strike against an Awlaki associate killed Mr. Awlaki’s 16-year-old son, also an American citizen.

“On December 14, the Department of Justice is scheduled to reply to the lawsuit filed by their family of Anwar al-Aulaqi (her spelling) claiming that his constitutional rights were violated by being killed in Yemen,” Ms. Martin wrote. “We write to urge that your administration respond to the lawsuit in a manner that will enable judicial review of the legality of such killing and not seek dismissal of the lawsuit on the grounds that the question of legality is non-justiciable.”

Guardian's Person of the Year poll for 2012.  Final results:
BradleyManning_GuardianPersonoftheYear2012




Blog Posts and Tweets of Interest


The Evening Blues

Lower the Ceiling and Raise the Floor

That Shouldn't Happen on Rachel Maddow's Show Again

Not so much equality






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Debate

Remember when progressive debate was about our values and not about a "progressive" candidate? Remember when progressive websites championed progressive values and didn't tell progressives to shut up about values so that "progressive" candidates can get elected?

Come to where the debate is not constrained by oaths of fealty to persons or parties.

Come to where the pie is served in a variety of flavors.

"The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum."  ~ Noam Chomsky

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