Tuesday's Headlines: Rifts mar Cancun climate conference USA U.S. and South Korea Reject Talks With North NJ must pay $271M to feds for killing tunnel to NY Europe Bailout fails to calm markets as costs rise in Spain and Portugal 271 Picasso[...]
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It would be a good thing if this wasn't a result of the credit crisis, but it is.
An analysis by credit reporting agency TransUnion found that use of general purpose credit cards bearing MasterCard or Visa logos, or issued by Discover or American Express, fell more than 11 percent in the third quarter, compared with the July to September period last year.
About 62 million people now have an active card, compared with 70 million a year ago.
The Chicago company found that consumers in the subprime category, or those with low credit ratings, were believed to be without cards mostly because they were shut down by banks after payments fell behind or balances were written off.
In the end antiblack, antifemale,
and all forms of discrimination
are equivalent to the same thing -
Born November 30, 1924
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Below is a graph from Ezra Klein he says came from the Strengthen Social Security Campaign, although I couldn't find it on their site. I'm sure it's there somewhere. On their site, they announce that today is National Call Congress Day to help save Social Security. You can pledge here and promise you'll contact your reps. (Which is always a good idea.)
You know you want to call. Make the time today to do so.
I saw this chart the same day I read the 6 December 2010 dead tree issue of Time. It's a look back at what has happened in the last 10 years.
Putting it all together is the reason for the post title "No Compromise." When the Republicans look at cutting things, they look at Social Security, Medicare, reforms from the Health Care bill, and other middle class safety net issues. When people say "compromise" they seem to believe there is something the Republicans are willing to give up. History shows us that agreeing to ANYTHING they come up with only costs money with no payback of worth.
Sample: in 2001, the US Defense budget was $316 billion with $13 billion to Afghanistan. In 2010, it was $693 billion, with $102 billion to Afghanistan and $61 billion to Iraq. (Time page 20.) That's A LOT of money wasted killing with no chance of a "win." Also a large chunk of the cause of the 142% rise in the National Debt over the decade. (page 77)
What else have Republican policies wrought? The Dow has risen 2.2% from 2000 to 2010. (page 76) That's right, 2.2% over a decade: it's the worst performance since the 1930's. While stock market earnings stayed essentially flat, unemployment rose almost as much as the National Debt: 140%, and that's lower than a comparison of 2000 to the unemployment peak last year. (page 77) A lot of people believe we went to Iraq for the oil. That didn't work so well either, with a per gallon pump price almost doubling, from $1.48 in 2000 to $2.89 now. (page 76)
So make those calls today. As always, if you don't know the number for your rep, email to the address on the left side bar and include your zip code, and we'll email the appropriate phone numbers back.
When people tell you that there is any good in the
Deficit Cat Food Commission report due on Obama's desk on Wednesday, direct them to Robert Reich's explanation of how this is National Fiscal Hypocrisy Week.
And then prepare to watch your back for people who used to be Democrats. Not just the 13+ legislators who switched party allegiance to the Republicans SINCE THE ELECTION a couple weeks ago. No, not just them. Also people like Xavier Becerra, who are now official DINOs, something beyond a Blue Dog moniker. After these folks raise your taxes, cut your services, and take away your mortgage deduction, about the only thing you have left as any form of safety net is the health insurance provided by your employer. (If, of course, you still have a job.) Becerra has determined that the tax break your employer gets for paying part of your premiums is an earmark, and should be considered to be cut. Yes really. Don't worry, there's a belly laugh in this: some Republicans, DINOs, and idiot economists believe that out of the goodness of their hearts, most employers will just give you a raise to make up for the fact that you no longer have health insurance. Honest, the thought makes me laugh.
So call your reps. Tell them that you VOTE and you've paid into Social Security and want it to be there when you hit 65, or 69, or whatever they raise it to. While you've got them on the phone, tell them to let the Bush tax cuts expire for everyone in the top 1% of wage earners (over $250,000/year). There aren't that many billionaires who'll suffer. There are only 1,011 in the world, up from 306 in 2000. (page 21)
Muse in the MorningTime for a break from poetry...in order to create some art.If you don't control your mind, someone else will.--John AllstonOrnamental 7 I know you have talent. ?What sometimes is forgotten is that being practical is a talent. ?I have[...]
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As we approach the next battle in the 75-year-long War to Save Social Security, we must beware of plausible-sounding analogies that undermine liberal positions.
Gene Lyons made a good observation the other day about the "government is family" metaphor that describes the absurdity of it in a useful way:"The American people are ahead of their government and their politicians on this," King said. "Because, Ali, you know this, over the past two or three years every family in America has had to make incredibly difficult choices and do things they didn't want to do. And so they look at Washington and they say why won't you do things that you don't want to do, why don't you ... do something about this and be grown-ups?"
Yes, it's perfectly obvious. The thing to do is cut government spending, reduce demand, put more people out of work. Prosperity will come roaring back.
Look, Obama asked for this. "Families across the country are tightening their belts and making tough decisions," he said, announcing the Bowles-Simpson commission during his 2010 State of the Union. "The federal government should do the same."
Because the U.S. government is just like your family. And your family can't run deficits, can it? Apart from mortgages, auto and education loans, credit cards, stuff like that. Not to mention that it's the government that actually creates and maintains the money supply. Otherwise, yeah, your family's exactly the same as the Social Security Administration, the Pentagon, the National Institutes of Health, all those. So get out and build some highways: pay as you go.
My head explodes every time I hear any of them use this stupid family metaphor. And it isn't just Obama using it. As everyone here is aware, there's a whole school of thought on the left about the dueling metaphors of government as family, with the Right allegedly preferring the "strict father" model and the Left preferring the "nurturing parent" (actually "indulgent Mommy", although the proponents of this metaphor will never admit that's what it is.)
It's dumb. America isn't a family and managing a national economy isn't like managing a family budget. It isn't like a business either (the second most common stupid metaphor.) The government has a completely different set of responsibilities than other human organizing entities, and democratic government is designed to completely upend the authoritarian model of family, church and business and put the "kids" in charge. Forgetting that is what gets us into trouble.
It would be very helpful to people's understanding of how their world works if they understood the differences between our various organizational models instead of conflating them. It's confusing rather than enlightening.
Rich people, Wall Street, conservatives/republicans/teabaggers, and corporations are determined to steal the last nickels from the working people the rich have been exploiting for decades.
Working people, Main Street, liberals/Democrats and unions are fighting to make the obscenely wealthy pay their share of the taxes that make this nation strong.
Everything else is lies and distraction.
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I sometimes hate to use the term "unintended consequences," because what comes to mind is those free-market-dogma economists. But sometimes the term is descriptive, and it seems that way now after health care "reform."
I'm staunchly for single-payer, and a new development makes it look more like that was essentially a no-brainer: Corporations are being advised, somewhat subtly, to eventually terminate their health care benefits, cutting employees loose to seek out taxpayer-subsidized health care insurance on their own after the "pools" are available in 2014.
I suppose it wasn't hard to see that one coming. Corporations have a reputation for being amoral money machines, and they didn't acquire that rep for nothing. Tell them any way that they can maximize profits, and they will do it. Walk over someone's grandmother? It's a dirty job; but have faith, they'll find someone who will. If CEO No. 1 won't, rest assured that CEO No. 2 will. It's said to be a legal obligation.
The talk about the end of job-based health care insurance is just beginning. But as soon as it can be done, rest assured that you will see the Fortune 500 forming a line on this one. Here's a link to an early article on this from AP. There are a lot of pros and cons being tossed about now, but just wait ...
Sit back and envision the scenario. Millions upon millions of American workers will be cut loose from their employer-based plans, forced to go with those subsidized plans that will be available starting in 2014. It's just good business, Corporate Rob, the company spokesman, will tell the press. And hey, now we can afford to give our workers a raise instead, so that they can afford to go insurance-shopping on their own.
But then comes the question I and many others have long been asking: Why did we need a middle man in the first place? Private insurers will offer these plans, helped by federal subsidies. Why didn't we just do single-payer in the first place, since it looks like we'll have to go there eventually anyway?
It wasn't, and ultimately won't be, feasible to leave things as they were, with 47 million Americans uninsured. In other countries of the developed world, people have long thought that we were insane to keep on with the status quo as long as we did.
But if it's going to come to this, wouldn't it have been easier just to make Medicare available to everyone, not just people 65 and older?
I can already hear the fretting out there about big government. And I will grant, the federal government doesn't have a reputation for being the most efficient provider of services.
But, insurance companies do? When was the last time you had to deal with one? Oh, I suppose you could call them "efficient," at least when it comes to their own profits. They definitely know how to tell people "no." And then no some more. And no again. And by the way, no. But of course, they never say no to taking people's money.
Now in the works to perhaps hasten this change is the mania to cut the federal deficit. Instead of the obvious -- raising taxes on rich people and big corporations, who have been getting preferential treatment in the system for decades now, anyway -- a certain tax break is being scrutinized.
Tax breaks have long helped employers provide what health insurance benefits that they do. That credit looks to be on the chopping block, with President Obama's deficit commission proposing to limit or eliminate that deduction. Here's a link to the story.
It's like watching the perfect storm forming. In less than a decade, employer-based health insurance may become the exception, not the rule, and millions of workers will be forced to shop for insurance through the "pools." That is, they will do so assuming that the Republican U.S. House and the Tea Party don't find a way to keep Obamacare from being implemented.
I was reluctantly for Obamacare as an alternative to doing nothing. But now the current overhaul looks like it will merely be a sort of midwife for a very troubled pregnancy and delivery.
Single-payer is where this is all headed, and the insurance bastards will fight that to their last breath. When that battle happens, at least the American people may be privileged to see very clearly what this is all about -- the massive profits of a large sector of Corporate America. If it wasn't already clear that these people are bloodsuckers, it finally will be.
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Phyllis Schlafy thinks Sen. Jim Inhofe is "[t]he Senate's environmentalism expert." And I write code for faster-than-light interstellar spaceships.
Much of the reaction by governments and the media to the Wikileaks revelations is mean-spirited and misleading. The State Department cables are interesting, informative and amusing, but they certainly do not contain the deep secrets of American foreign policy. …
Since several million people potentially had access to this data via America's online repository only information which was not particularly sensitive was included. Newspapers promoting or denouncing supposed insights into the way the US deals with foreign government to be gained from the cables are not dwelling on how well-known and unsurprising are these disclosures.
Much attention has been given to King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia saying that Iraqi prime minister Nuri al-Maliki is effectively an Iranian agent. Aside from being untrue, its impact depends on the reader not knowing what every taxi-driver in the Middle East knows: that the King detests Mr Maliki and this is largely due to Saudi Arabia's fear of a Shia government in Baghdad.
Bob Herbert, commenting on Justice John Paul Stevens' recent essay on capital punishment in The New York Review of Books, says the death penalty is an "abomination - a grotesque, uncivilized, overwhelmingly racist affront to the very idea of justice."
According to the Office of the Ohio Public Defender, 27 men on the state's death row have had their convictions vacated or their sentences reduced since February 2006. In the same period, 22 men were executed.
In other words, more people left death row through judicial reversals than executions. How many more people awaiting execution should not be on death row?
Where, then, should the government concentrate its efforts? No prizes for guessing the answer: introduce a carbon tax.
In the US, many dismiss this as a political impossibility. They are wrong. Whether the country likes it or not, with or without an effective climate change policy, Americans will eventually have to pay more in taxes. The state of the public finances decrees it. However you do the political calculations, this unpopular outcome is inevitable. Therefore, start measuring a carbon tax against the relevant alternatives. At worst, a moderate carbon tax would be no more indigestible than higher income taxes or other revenue-raising options.
Curious it is that Republicans, hardliners, and neoconservatives anxious to proclaim "American exceptionalism"—which, stripped down, means that America can and should do anything it wants around the world because it’s the greatest—are now trumpeting the fact that, according to Wikileaks at least, various leaders of the Arab Gulf kleptocracies are calling for the United States to attack Iran.
You’d think that the United States could safely ignore, and privately laugh at, the policy recommendations made by kings, royal sheiks and emirs of the gulf states. The leaders of these nations—and most of them, such as Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain and the UAE, really don’t deserve to be called "nations"—are anyway for the most part puppets of the United States. Three of them (Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain) are essentially US-occupied territories, hosting American ground troops, naval forces and an air force base; and the fourth, the UAE, is not really populated by its own citizens but by imported South Asians, Iranians and others, and made up of a series of family-ruled sheikhdoms run by utterly corrupt and degenerate, inbred gangsters.
Without once writing the words "pack of lies," the insufferably insufferable Richard Cohen, our nation's No. 1 hack pundit, suggests that George W. Bush read the Wikileaks documents and reassess Decision Points, the hilarious but unfunny memoirs Dubya was too lazy to write.
Ta-Nehisi Coates is irked that The New York Times chose to have a "liberal sociologist" reply to this nonsense from the Sons of Confederacy defending their 150th anniversary "Secession Ball":
"We're celebrating that those 170 people risked their lives and fortunes to stand for what they believed in, which is self-government," Mr. Antley said. "Many people in the South still believe that is a just and honorable cause. Do I believe they were right in what they did? Absolutely," he said, noting that he spoke for himself and not any organization. "There's no shame or regret over the action those men took."
"Far better to simply quote from the founding documents which those 170 people authored," Coates explains. Indeed.
Geoff Pender writes that for a dirt-poor state, earmark is not necessarily a dirty word.
It?s no longer a surprise that most progressives have come to the conclusion that if President Barack Obama was ever a progressive, he is not one now. Among the suggestions that have been offered for the president is that he reconstitute the inner circle of his staff. Geithner, Summers, Emanuel, Vilsack, Orszag, individuals who progressives [...]Related posts:
Exposing gossip and criminality in various and sundry bombings is one thing, but coming after our beloved wealthy people? Now Wikileaks must be stopped![...]
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