Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Tuesday Mashup (7/12/11)

  • Gee, I can hardly wait for the outrage from the racist-sign-and-funny-hat crowd when they hear about this…
    Washington (CNN) -- Partisan warfare over the looming debt ceiling crisis escalated Tuesday as GOP leaders once again refused to consider any tax hikes and President Barack Obama warned that, absent a deal, he can't guarantee older Americans will continue receiving Social Security checks next month.

    "There may simply not be the money in the coffers to do it," Obama said, according to excerpts of a CBS News interview scheduled to air Tuesday night.

    "We can't guarantee -- if there were a default -- any specific bill would be paid," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters Tuesday afternoon.
    Even Tom Donahue, president of the “U.S.” Chamber of Commerce said the following (here)…
    The business community is also upping the pressure on lawmakers, warning that a failure to increase the nation's borrowing limit could have an immediate impact on the economy recovery.

    "An unprecedented default on the nation's bills would have dire consequences for our economy, our markets, and Main Street Americans," said (Donohue).
    And let’s not forget that this is the same Tom Donahue who said “we’ll get rid of you” to Repugs opposing an increase in the debt limit (here).

    The predictable teabagger response followed (here)…
    I found Tom Donahue’s comments outrageous, tone-deaf, totally establishment, and doesn’t understand at all where we’re at right now (sic)…If Tom Donahue is more comfortable having Nancy Pelosi as Speaker next year because he wants to get rid of all of us tea party, fiscally-conservative freshman who came here on a mission to save our kids from the debt we’re placing on their backs, then fine. He can have Nancy Pelosi as his Speaker.
    The person who uttered those words was Repug U.S. House rep (and freshman) Joe "Welcome To The Club" Walsh of Illinois.

    As Think Progress reminds us here, failing to raise the debt ceiling could have a bigger impact than the 2008 downturn that started our current misery…
    To see just how much, imagine that this debt limit crisis happened last year. The budget deficit last August and September was $125 billion. If the government had been unable to finance that deficit, it would have been forced to cut $125 billion from its spending during those two months—which if translated into a decline of that magnitude in economic activity would have resulted in GDP dropping by 2.3 percent, in nominal terms, from the previous quarter.

    To put that kind of drop in perspective, consider that the biggest quarter-to-quarter drop in nominal GDP since 1947, when official statistics began, was 2 percent from the third to fourth quarter of 2008—the middle of the Great Recession, when we lost nearly 2 million jobs.
    And just as a reminder, here is a record of Republican votes on raising the debt ceiling when their party held the White House versus Democratic Party control (and this chart shows us that most of the debt is due to the wars and Dubya’s ruinous tax cuts…still astonishes and sickens me that our corporate media has so thoroughly seemed to “disappear” Former President Highest Disapproval Rating In Gallup Poll History on this and other matters).

    Oh, and when it comes to our local politicians, this tells us that both Charlie Dent and Mikey The Beloved voted No to raising the debt limit (remember that when you don’t get your Social Security Checks on time, you zany teabaggers).

    Also voting against raising the debt limit (as Think Progress tells us here) was Pat Toomey himself; as noted here, the Chamber spent $1.5 million against Admiral Joe Sestak, who ran against Toomey, in 2010…wonder if anyone will remember Toomey’s vote against Donahue and the Chamber in 2016 when “No Corporate Tax” Pat runs for re-election? Do I even need to ask (sigh)?

    Finally on this subject (as noted here), “Orange Man” Boehner said, “excuse us for trying to lead” on this issue with Paul Ryan’s plan to eliminate Medicare and gut Medicaid (kind of hard to “lead” on this issue given that Obama had submitted his own budget weeks before Ryan did, as Steve Benen points out here).

    (By the way, Yahoo messed with the link above and changed it to some story about McConnell saying Obama should have new powers on the debt limit, or something. Short of passing a declaration of war, since when does Congress tell a president what he can and cannot do? I hope Obama and his people tell McConnell where he can stick his “deal.”)

  • Update 7/13/11: Good job, Mr. President (here - happy to compliment you instead of snark over this issue).

  • Next, former Bushco flak Marc Thiessen reminds us how much he has utterly forgotten that this country abides by the rule of law, assuming he ever knew that to begin with (here)…
    In an interview for my Washington Post column this week, I asked Tim Pawlenty about the recent testimony of Admiral William McRaven that the Obama administration has no clear plan for handling suspected terrorist leaders if they are caught alive—and that if captured terrorists cannot be tried in a U.S. court or transferred to the custody of an allied country, they are simply let go.

    “I think that is preposterous,” Pawlenty told me, adding that he will end such a catch and release policy if he is elected president. Pawlenty also said he would keep Guantanamo open, and start bringing terrorists there, as well as other facilities, for interrogation again. He would restore enhanced interrogation “under certain and controlled and limited circumstances.”
    Why Thiessen would think that Pawlenty of Nothing is an expert on anything except running a failed presidential campaign…oh, silly me – I just realized that the game here is for Thiessen to find some poor sap whose hopes for higher office are fading out of sight and use that individual to validate his right wing talking points, while the designated sap, meanwhile, can claim some kind of thoroughly undeserved foreign policy “cred” and risk no shot of getting called out in the process. Your basic win-win, I guess.

    Well, to begin with the argument about bringing terrorists to “other facilities,” this tells us that...
    The Obama administration approved the secret detention of a Somali terror suspect on board a US navy ship, where for two months he was subjected to military interrogation in the absence of a lawyer and without charge.

    The capture and treatment of Ahmed Abdulkadir Warsame has rekindled the debate within the US about the appropriate handling of terror suspects. Republicans in Congress have objected to Warsame being brought to New York this week to be tried in a criminal court – an attempt by the Obama administration to avoid sending the prisoner to Guantánamo Bay, which it has promised to close.

    Last week Admiral William McRaven, soon to become head of US Special Operations Command, told his confirmation hearing that militants captured outside Afghanistan were often “put on a naval vessel” to be held until they could be sent to a third country or a case was compiled against them for prosecution in the US courts.
    Gosh, didn’t Thiessen just tell us that Admiral McRaven testified that Obama “has no clear plan for handling suspected terrorists”? Sounds like Number 44 and company have a “plan” of sorts that they’ve been executing already.

    That said, I should also point out that I’m not sure how legal it is to keep these individuals on a ship for two months prior to charging them (and how exactly is this supposed to be an improvement over keeping them at a Bushco “black site”?). The standard I always use is how much we would object if foreign individuals subjected our people to the same treatment.

    Besides, as noted here from 2008…
    An eight-month McClatchy investigation in 11 countries on three continents has found that (Mohammed) Akhtiar was one of dozens and perhaps hundreds of men whom the U.S. has wrongfully imprisoned in Afghanistan, Cuba and elsewhere on the basis of flimsy or fabricated evidence, old personal scores or bounty payments. . . .

    From the moment that Guantanamo opened in early 2002, former Secretary of the Army Thomas White said, it was obvious that at least a third of the population didn't belong there. . . .
    I’ve often wondered how Thiessen would hold up under the methods of interrogation he so easily advocates for others. My guess is that he would be bawling his eyes out in a matter of seconds.

  • Finally, I missed this little item from Joke Line last Thursday; did you know that Head Start is a failure? Well…
    …Head Start did work well in several pilot programs carefully run by professionals in the 1960s. And so it was "taken to scale," as the wonks say, as part of Lyndon Johnson's War on Poverty.

    It is now 45 years later. We spend more than $7 billion providing Head Start to nearly 1 million children each year. And finally there is indisputable evidence about the program's effectiveness, provided by the Department of Health and Human Services: Head Start simply does not work.

    According to the Head Start Impact Study, which was quite comprehensive, the positive effects of the program were minimal and vanished by the end of first grade. Head Start graduates performed about the same as students of similar income and social status who were not part of the program. These results were so shocking that the HHS team sat on them for several years, according to Russ Whitehurst of the Brookings Institution, who said, "I guess they were trying to rerun the data to see if they could come up with anything positive. They couldn't."
    Call me a filthy, unkempt liberal blogger, but I thought the point of Head Start wasn’t to turn school-age kids trying to emerge from poverty into little Einsteins. It was to help them to achieve parity with their peers, and from that point, whether or not they failed or succeeded in school was up to them (and in the event of the former, why should Head Start necessarily be held accountable each time as the reason why?).

    Besides, this tells us about the success of the Head Start program in Harlem, this provides a list of “Better Chance For School Success” programs courtesy of Arkansas Head Start, this tells us of Head Start success stories in greater Dallas, and this tells us how the local Head Start program of Georgia is “maintaining success.”

    Klein ends his column with this…
    "The argument that Head Start opponents make is that it is a jobs program," a senior Obama Administration official told me, "and sadly, there is something to that."

    This is criminal, every bit as outrageous as tax breaks for oil companies — perhaps even more outrageous, since we are talking about the lives of children.
    First of all, this “senior Obama Administration official” ought to have the guts to go on record with such a cowardly cave-in to a right-wing talking point (who cares if it’s a “jobs program” – as if that’s something to be ashamed of somehow – as long as the kids benefit from it?). Second, I see no way whatsoever to equate $7 billion in Head Start funding with $21 billion in tax breaks for oil companies.

    This is typical of a soulless corporate media Beltway shill like Klein, though, who apparently only practices the actual craft of journalism during fleeting lucid moments (with items such as this sadly more representative of his type of “reporting”).
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