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Photo by joanneleon. December, 2012

In short, Members of Congress: if you can, just pass the President's bill on middle-class taxes, and, if you can, eliminate the domestic sequester. Then, please go home.  Enjoy the holidays. Come back in January prepared to extend unemployment insurance, to phase out the payroll tax holiday gradually, to restore stable funding to necessary programs and to start dealing with our real problems:  jobs, foreclosures, infrastructure and climate change.

-- James K. Galbraith

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News and Opinion

Kabuki Quotes of the Day

"After all, this was a central question in the election," he said. "A clear majority of Americans - Democrats, Republicans and Independents - agreed with a balanced approach that asks something from everyone, but a little more from those who can" [Obama]
“Right now, middle-class tax cuts are set to expire at the end of the year. Time is running out,” Obama said in his weekly address released Saturday. “If Congress does nothing, every family in America will see their income taxes automatically go up on Jan. 1st. A typical middle-class family of four would get a $2,200 tax hike. That would be bad for families, it would be bad for businesses and it would drag down our entire economy,” Obama warned.
And I’m willing to make more entitlement spending cuts on top of the $1 trillion dollars in cuts I signed into law last year,” Obama said.
“We must get the national debt under control,” Rubio said. But “tax increases will not solve our $16 trillion debt. Only economic growth and a reform of entitlement programs will help control the debt.”
“Helping people make it into the middle class is a personal issue for me,” he said. “My parents worked in the service industry. In almost any other nation on Earth, their jobs would barely provide for daily living, much less a better future. But in America, my parents made it to the middle class.”
SPEAKER BOEHNER: It was — the phone call was pleasant but was just more of the same. Even the conversations that the staff had yesterday — just more of the same. It’s time for the president, if he’s serious, to come back to us with a counteroffer.
Raising the age for Medicare is privatization. Check out Ezra Klein's language in this article.  Sound familiar?  This article and Ezra's performance while hosting Maddow last night were aimed directly at progressives, imho, and it's a big F U.   The things that Obama put on the table in 2011 are still on the table.  And it has got some of his biggest fans pretty upset about it (unless they are just joining in the kabuki too).
The fiscal cliff deal comes clearer: a 37% top tax rate and a higher Medicare eligibility age

Right now, the fiscal cliff negotiations are proceeding on two tracks.
One track includes the press releases, public statements and legislative tactics the two parties are deploying to prove the purity of their faith and their commitment to beating the other side to a bloody pulp. Watch these closely and it’s easy to get depressed. The parties are, by turns, angry, disappointed, petty, inane and vengeful. “There isn’t a progress report,” Republican House Speaker John Boehner sighed Friday, “because there’s no progress to report.”
The other track includes the offers, counteroffers and red lines proposed by Boehner and President Obama. If you look at these closely, a deal is taking shape.
The harder question is what Republicans will get on the spending side of the deal. But even that’s not such a mystery. There will be a variety of nips and tucks to Medicare, including more cost-sharing and decreases in provider payments, and the headline Democratic concession is likely to be that the Medicare eligibility age rises from 65 to 67.

Obama says he's ready to work with Republicans to avoid "fiscal cliff"

In his weekly radio address, the president renewed his call for Republicans to extend middle-class tax cuts while letting tax rates go up for the wealthy. He also said he would be willing to find ways to bring down healthcare costs and make additional cuts to government social safety-net programs.

Keep Social Security out of the 'fiscal cliff' debate

We should take Social Security off the table in this debate.

For a familiar program, Social Security is surprisingly misunderstood. Those who think the program primarily benefits the poor should know that it is actually a public pension plan for the middle class, tied to work. Workers (and employers) contribute a substantial percentage of wages and salaries — 12.4 percent (except during the current payroll tax "holiday") — throughout their working lives to cover benefits in their retirement years. Even the poorest workers pay this tax, no matter how little they earn. Those who don't work (or are not dependents of a worker) can't collect.

The word "entitlement" is often thrown around like a slur these days, but the fact is, retirees are indeed entitled to their benefits.

US military facing fresh questions over targeting of children in Afghanistan
Outrage grows after senior officer claimed troops in Afghanistan were on the lookout for 'children with potential hostile intent'

The US military is facing fresh questions over its targeting policy in Afghanistan after a senior army officer suggested that troops were on the lookout for "children with potential hostile intent".
"The decision about who you consider a legitimate target is less defined by your conduct than the conduct of the people or category of people which you are assigned to belong to … That is beyond troubling. It is also illegal and immoral."

The Senate Report on CIA Interrogations You May Never See

A Senate committee is close to putting the final stamp on a massive report on the CIA’s detention, interrogation and rendition of terror suspects. Senator Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., who heads the Select Committee on Intelligence, called the roughly 6,000-page report “the most definitive review of this CIA program to be conducted.”

But it’s unclear how much, if any, of the review you might get to read.

The committee first needs to vote to endorse the report. There will be a vote next week.

High-Voltage DC Breakthrough Could Boost Renewable Energy

But now, more than a century after Edison's misguided stunt, DC may be getting a measure of vindication.

An updated, high-voltage version of DC, called HVDC, is being touted as the transmission method of the future because of its ability to transmit current over very long distances with fewer losses than AC. And that trend may be accelerated by a new device called a hybrid HVDC breaker, which may make it possible to use DC on large power grids without the fear of catastrophic breakdown that stymied the technology in the past.  (See related photos: "World's Worst Power Outages.")

Swiss-based power technology and automation giant ABB, which developed the breaker, says it may also prove critical to the 21st century's transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources, by tapping the full potential of massive wind farms and solar generating stations to provide electricity to distant cities.

So far, the device has been tested only in laboratories, but ABB's chief executive, Joe Hogan, touts the hybrid HVDC breaker as "a new chapter in the history of electrical engineering," and predicts that it will make possible the development of "the grid of the future"—that is, a massive, super-efficient network for distributing electricity that would interconnect not just nations but multiple continents. Outside experts aren't quite as grandiose, but they still see the breaker as an important breakthrough.

Blog Posts and Tweets of Interest

The Evening Blues

I Got The News - Steely Dan live! 12 August 2006.


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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