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Chernynkaya On July - 14 - 2011

You can access all the past editions of The Daily Planet on the green Category bar on the top of each page under the heading PlanetPOV.






What Lawrence O’Donnell Said

If you’re discouraged by the president’s strategy on the debt ceiling, watch this.

“The President’s response to the hostage-taking Somali pirates was to shoot them in the head.” O’Donnell, 7/13/11

Mitch McConnell’s surprising proposal to empower Barack Obama

Ezra Klein:

The debt deal Mitch McConnell is offering is confusing a lot of people, so here’s the core of it: Until now, Republicans have wanted a policy payoff for permitting President Obama and the Democrats to raise the debt ceiling. McConnell is proposing to replace that with a political payoff. That’s it. That’s the deal. The question is why House Republicans would go for it.

The process McConnell is proposing would go like this: First, Obama would submit a request for a $700 billion increase in the debt ceiling, along with a nonbinding proposal to cut spending. That would automatically trigger a $100 billion increase in the debt ceiling to give Congress time to consider the request. Congress could then vote to either approve or disapprove of the president’s request. If they disapprove of it, however, Obama could veto their disapproval, and unless two-thirds of both chambers voted to overturn his veto — a virtually unthinkable outcome given that Democrats control the Senate — he could raise the debt ceiling anyway.

The same thing would happen, albeit in $900 billion increments rather than $700 billion increments, in fall 2011 and summer 2012. Take it all together, and Republicans would almost completely forfeit their leverage over the debt ceiling. In return, they’d get to make Democrats vote repeatedly to first raise the debt ceiling and then to “approve” of raising the debt ceiling. As Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) said, this “gives the president 100 percent of the responsibility.”

Or, to put it differently, 100 percent of the blame. Raising the debt ceiling is unpopular. That’s part of why House Republicans are demanding such massive concessions in return for doing it. But McConnell, who leads the Senate minority and wants to lead the Senate majority in 2013, would not have to vote for any increases in the debt ceiling, nor would his members. That’s why this appeals to him: It would force Senate Democrats to repeatedly vote to raise the debt ceiling, and he hopes that would make it easier to defeat them in the next election. As David Corn described it, the message to the president is: “You drive. We’ll carp.”

But perhaps I give McConnell too little credit, and the Kentucky Republican is simply terrified that Republicans and Democrats really won’t come to an agreement on the debt ceiling and he’s desperately searching for a way past the gridlock. If so, it’s a bit late.

House Republicans, who already hold the majority, can’t possibly accept this deal. It would mean they have to take a vote to hand power on the debt ceiling over to the White House. “We, the House, hate this and it will not move,” a House GOP aide told the National Review. “It would basically mean that the president only needs one third of either body to raise the debt limit, meaning that we would cede our majority status in the House. Can you imagine how insane this would make the grass roots/tea party — we have the numbers to stop an increase, but we completely give up and let Dems uphold a veto with a one-third vote. No way.” Speaker John Boehner’s spokesman Michael Steele, meanwhile, said, “the Speaker shares the Leader’s frustration,” but stopped well short of saying he shares his solution.

Nor is it likely to be popular among conservative Republicans in the Senate. One anonymous aide told the Huffington Post’s Jon Ward that the “McConnell plan is a full-surrender, white-flag approach.”

My guess is McConnell is about to suffer a serious backlash from his base. As much as the Senate minority leader’s political incentives might differ from those of the speaker of the House, his ideological incentives are supposed to be the same. And if you believe, as most Republicans do, that the debt ceiling offers a generational opportunity to extract huge concessions from the Democrats, then walking away from that leverage simply isn’t an option, and any member of the Republican leadership who proposes to do so has to be seen as intensely suspect.


ThinkProgress: “I’m not going to take money from old people and screw students” – Obama to Cantor


Boehner now says debt ceiling is Prez’s “problem,” but in May, he said it was GOP’s “obligation” to raise it


Kent Conrad Drops Senate Dems’ Budget On The Table: Will Anyone Pay Attention?


After a week of flurries and fears that Democrats are about to give away the store to keep the nation from defaulting on its debt, Kent Conrad presented his budget proposal to Democrats. Unlike the Republican proposal, it’s a 50/50 blend of cuts and tax increases.

Washington Post reports:

“I explained to the President and Vice President how the Senate Budget Committee Democrats developed a plan that achieves $4 trillion in deficit reduction in a balanced and fair way,” Conrad said in a statement. “It is my hope the plan will help influence the bipartisan negotiations and help them reach a comprehensive and balanced deficit reduction agreement.”


Under the blueprint, the top income tax rate would rise to 39.6 percent for individuals earning more than $500,000 a year and families earning more than $1 million. That group, which constitutes the nation’s richest 1 percent of households, would also pay a 20 percent rate on capital gains and dividends, rather than the 15 percent rate now in effect.

In addition to raising rates for the very wealthiest families, the blueprint proposes to obtain fresh revenue by targeting offshore tax havens and corporate shelters. It would also scale back the array of tax breaks and deductions known as tax expenditures, perhaps by focusing on the wealthiest households, which claim an average of $205,000 in tax breaks each year on average income of $1.1 million.

The blueprint would take nearly $900 billion from the Pentagon over the next decade — the same amount recommended by Obama’s fiscal commission. It would slice more than $350 billion from domestic programs. And it would produce interest savings of nearly $600 billion attributable to reduced borrowing.

A majority of Senate Democrats have approved of this proposal. Will it be considered “bold”, “courageous” and “innovative” by the Beltway media who used those terms with respect to Paul Ryan’s plan even as they held their nose over specific provisions? Doubtful. I’ll be amazed if it gets a fraction of the coverage Ryan’s plan received, despite the fact that every one of these bold proposals is supported by a majority of the American people.

I’m already seeing a whole lot of negativity on the liberal side of the planet. Claims of ‘too little, too late’, that Conrad is just introducing a sweeping budget because he’s retiring in 2012, that no one will take these things seriously because they’ve been involved in talks for so long.

I recommend looking at it differently. The President called for everyone to bring their bottom line deal to the table on Sunday. Conrad has just dropped the Democrats’ bottom line on the table, knowing full well that it will be unacceptable to every Republican in the room. So what? It would have been unacceptable to every Republican in the room two months ago, two days ago, two hours ago. It still delineates the differences between the two and sets a negotiating line that is far more to the left than the administration proposals (on purpose, by the way).

The question at this point is not when Conrad brought his proposals to the table. The question is whether liberals, progressives, the left, whatever you want to call them, will use their formidable vocal skills to generate some buzz around these, since you can rest assured the so-called liberal media never will.






Cisco to shed 10,000 jobs while asking for a giant corporate tax break

In an attempt to “revive profit,” corporate giant Cisco Systems is expected to announce that it’s laying off 10,000 workers, or 14 percent of its workforce:

The cuts include as many as 7,000 jobs that would be eliminated by the end of August, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the plans aren’t final. Cisco, based in San Jose, Calif., is also providing early-retirement packages to about 3,000 workers who took buyouts, the people said. […]

Eliminating jobs will help Cisco wring $1 billion in expenses in fiscal 2012, the company said in May.

The news comes at the same time that Cisco is lobbying Congress for a huge corporate tax break in the form of a repatriation holiday, which would allow companies that have stashed money offshore to bring it back to the U.S. at a much lower rate than they would normally pay. As ThinkProgress has reported, Cisco is part of a group of corporations called WinAmerica that continue to lobby for a repatriation holiday, even as the companies already pay extremely low taxes. […]

Ironically, WinAmerica corporations are pushing for a tax holiday based on the claim that it will allow them to bring funds into the U.S. that they will invest in domestic operations and job creation. However, Congress approved a repatriation holiday in 2004, and data show that the companies that benefited most wound up cutting jobs in subsequent years, laying off tens of thousands of workers. The news that Cisco is laying off 10,000 American workers to boost their bottom line is further proof of just how empty the claim still is.


The administration is planning a new round of aid to homeowners


The Obama administration is ramping up talks on how to revive the housing market…Last year, advisers considered several housing-policy prescriptions but rejected them in favor of letting the market sort things out. Since then, weak demand and a stream of foreclosed properties have put renewed pressure on home prices, prompting concern within the White House…Policy ideas include having taxpayer-owned mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac relax their rules for loans to investors, allowing those buyers to vacuum up excess housing inventory. In certain markets, Fannie and Freddie could hold some foreclosed homes off the market and rent them out to ease the property glut. Officials also could sweeten incentives for banks to reduce loan balances for borrowers who are underwater, or owe more than their homes are worth.




Pro-Voucher Tea Party Group Admits It Wants To ‘Shut Down Public Schools And Have Private Schools Only’

[…] “We think public schools should go away,’’ says Teri Adams, the head of the Independence Hall Tea Party and a leading advocate — both in New Jersey and Pennsylvania — of passage of school voucher bills. The tea party operates in those two states and Delaware. They should “go away,” she says, because “they are hurting our children.’’ […] Adams says the current voucher program “discriminates” against wealthier students by providing public subsidies only to inner-city children in allegedly failing schools. Her group’s e-mails pushing vouchers caught the attention of James Kovalcin of South Brunswick, a retired public school teacher who asked Adams for clarification. She responded via email: “Our ultimate goal is to shut down public schools and have private schools only, eventually returning responsibility for payment to parents and private charities. It’s going to happen piecemeal and not overnight. It took us years to get into this mess and it’s going to take years to get out of it.”

“It’s refreshing to see a vouchers promoter who is honest about her real intent — to destroy public education,” responded Julia Rubin, a spokeswoman for Save Our Schools, a New Jersey organization that is opposing the voucher push in the state. “Fortunately, most New Jersey residents understand how devastating vouchers would be for our excellent public schools.”





Republicans Fail To Repeal Bulb Efficiency Standards

The old light bulbs are cheaper in the short run, but the new ones save money overall.

Traditional incandescent bulbs cost about about 30 to 50 cents apiece, while updated incandescent versions cost $1.50. The latter pay for themselves in energy savings in about six months, efficiency advocates say…

Environmentalists hailed the vote. Some 95 percent of the electricity used by traditional incandescent bulbs becomes wasted heat. Moreover, by keeping the 2007 law, the House also avoided rolling back efficiency standards on a large number of other lighting fixtures.




Rick Scott’s ‘sweatshop’ exposed, and other horrors of U.S. for-profit health care

Rick Scott the newly elected and very unpopular governor of Florida, used to be in the health care business. Yes, my friends, health care is big business and it’s destroying this country. Among other health related businesses, Scott owned a chain of urgent care clinics called Solantic Urgent Care.

There’s an extraordinary article  based on interviews with Randy Prokes an ex-Solantic doctor, making the rounds about just how Scott ran these money-making operations.

To achieve the urgent care chain’s aggressive financial goals, doctors and nurse practitioners were expected to stand through 14-hour shifts, Prokes told state investigators in a Florida Department of Law Enforcement file obtained by The Palm Beach Post.

. . .But at least one doctor – Prokes – believed the bottom-line focus too often compromised patient care by creating a sweatshop work environment for doctors and nurses.

Doctors were monitored with cameras in the clinics’ common areas, Prokes told investigators. Staff were expected to suggest extras, including vitamins and probiotics, and a colon cancer screening test considered unreliable and outdated by CDC officials.

For-profit health care horror fact number two:

Remember Billy Tauzin?  Billy will say and do anything depending on who’s paying him.

Today Billy is being paid by the Partnership for Quality Home Healthcare, and he’s selling a new product.

Former House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Billy Tauzin has some advice for Republicans who want Medicare beneficiaries to pick up part of the tab for home health services:  It won’t work.

“[Home health] is not an elective thing. You get assigned to it by your doctor. You have to have it or otherwise you’re in the hospital or a nursing home,” says Tauzin, former head of Pharmaceutical  Research and Manufacturers of America who is now a senior adviser to the Partnership for Quality Home Healthcare, a coalition of home health care providers.

For-profit health care horror fact number three:

The Kaiser Permanente Story

Some people think Kaiser should be the template for health care delivery in the United States. However, lately Kaiser has been on a tear against its workers.

Despite strong profits and robust executive compensation at Kaiser Permanente, workers for the California-based health care giant say they’re facing down cuts to their health and retirement benefits in pending contract negotiations.

Proposed cuts include freezing employees’ defined-benefit pension plan and switching to a less desirable defined-contribution plan, according to a flier circulated by the National Union of Healthcare Workers. Workers are being asked to accept a more costly employee health insurance plan and cuts to their retirement health benefits, the union says.

While those cuts get debated, Kaiser executives have been living well. Pay and perks for high-ranking officials at the nonprofit have been generous in recent years, according to disclosure forms.

Check out these three Kaiser Permanente executives who together make upwards of 12 million a year.




Antitrust enforcement has improved under this Administration

Center for American Progress:

The Obama Administration’s Progressive Direction on Competition Law and Policy in Challenging Economic Times

Our nation and our economy are at a critical juncture in antitrust enforcement. Increasingly, the markets that consumers depend upon the most—health care, pharmaceuticals, financial services, and agriculture, just to name a few—are becoming more and more concentrated as fewer and fewer competitors remain amid mergers and acquisitions that sharply reduce competition and as dominant companies in our economy take advantage of their position to abuse their market dominance. The bulwarks of the competitive marketplace, choice and aggressive rivalry, are increasingly diminished, with many of these markets plagued by deceptive conduct designed to mask the degree of concentration.

This was especially the case during the Bush administration, but fortunately President Barack Obama selected exceptional leaders for both the antitrust division of the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission—the two agencies that handle antitrust issues in Washington—to turn the tide back in favor of consumers. Both Assistant Attorney General Christine Varney and FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz bring a keen perception about the important role of antitrust enforcement as a bulwark to a competitive marketplace. Both are strong leaders who know how to make the most of the limited resources of their agencies, and both are supported by talented career lawyers and economists who are dedicated to the mission of protecting consumers.

The new leaders of the two antitrust agencies have been at the helm for just over two years. Their leadership shows a commitment to a progressive enforcement agenda that:

  • Seeks to prevent anticompetitive practices that raise prices, reduce output, and dampen economic growth
  • Works with other administration officials to try to enact and adapt regulations to fully protect competitive markets, especially in health care, financial services, and agriculture
  • Makes the antitrust process more transparent and less burdensome for business

This approach to antitrust enforcement and engagement in competition issues across the government has contributed to the administration’s efforts to promote innovation and job growth through the preservation of competitive forces in the market. Simply, rivalry spurs economic growth.

This paper provides a midterm assessment of the accomplishments of the Obama administration’s top antitrust enforcers and then offers some suggestions about where even more progress could be made. The paper first identifies the accomplishments of the agencies in critical industries, including health care, pharmaceuticals, agriculture, and financial services, and then describes the key changes in the agencies’ approaches to so-called “dominant firm conduct,” where firms who account for a significant share of the market seek to exploit that position to fend off competition, and vertical integration, where a firm controls multiple levels of the production process.

The paper then examines the changes to antitrust process with the goal of making it more transparent and less burdensome for businesses. It concludes by identifying areas that the Obama administration should focus on in order to strengthen antitrust enforcement as a whole, among them:

  • Resolving the jurisdictional overlaps between the antitrust division of the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission so that antitrust regulation is more predictable and effective
  • Recognizing the role of the two antitrust agencies as regulators as well as litigators and working to make sure the remedy process is transparent and remedies are fully effective
  • Working proactively with other administration regulators to solve competitive problems best addressed through regulation
  • Issuing a revised health care policy antitrust statement so that guidelines that are more than a decade old are updated to reflect the new health care law
  • Stepping up litigation in those key areas of antitrust enforcement to clarify important areas of the law

These suggested reforms become self-evident when the paper first looks at today’s antitrust landscape in light of the necessary changes delivered up by the Obama administration after the troubling Bush era of antitrust nonenforcement and then at what the current administration has accomplished but still has left to do.




AOL Launches New Trade Site: AOL Government


HuffPo May Not Be Driving As Much Traffic By Aggregating Your Articles As You’d Like to Think

[…]Did HuffPo cause a traffic explosion for his post? Not quite.

So what does Google Analytics for AdAge.com tell us? Techmeme drove 746 page views to our original item. HuffPo — which of course is vastly bigger than Techmeme — drove 57 page views.

57 page views hardly seems like enough traffic to keep writers from getting grumpy that their work is being aggregated. Moreover, the low traffic drive doesn’t seem particularly surprising. His original post is not very lengthy, coming in at around 676 words without the charts. The Huffington Post version is around 250 words, more than enough space to adequately cover all the major points. So what would be the purpose of clicking through to read the original piece?


Dumenco: Thanks for apology, but unethical aggregation is widespread at Huffington Post

Ad Age
After a Huffington Post editor apologized for a post that cannibalized something he wrote for Ad Age, Simon Dumenco responds with a “thank you” and a big asterisk. Dumenco writes that the Huffington writer who was suspended for the post should get an apology, too, because she was scapegoated for practicing a form of aggregation “long practiced, condoned and encouraged by Huffington Post editorial management.” He describes a Huffington summary of a Playboy interview with James Franco, for example, that “lifts so many verbatim quotes from it that it all but preempts the reader’s desire to click through and visit the original source.” A review of Huffington posts, Dumenco writes, would reveal many, many more examples of the sort of aggregation that Executive Business Editor Peter Goodman said are unacceptable.
“Aspirational standard” for aggregation: The Washington Post’s Erik Wemple says that Huffington writer Amy Lee “sort of” ran afoul of guidelines on aggregation, according to interviews with current and former employees:

When summarizing a news story from another outlet, staffers are supposed to round out the presentation with contextual links to other content in the field — to videos, podcasts, maybe a pdf in a pinch. Linking to three outlets is the goal.

But here’s the thing about the Huffington Post: Whatever management directives or linking goals or managerial guidance there might be, the mishmash of good intentions gets plowed over by speed and volume, which are the property’s stock in trade.

[…] A little respect: “Instead of treating aggregation like a link is a favor,” writes Staci Kramer, “Huffington (and others) need to respect the contribution these sources make to their sites.”


Stanford University: U.S. has same number of newspapers now as in 1890s


Sen. Rockefeller Calls for US Probe of Murdoch Hacking




Pelosi, Reid praise McConnell debt-limit ‘back-up’ plan

Democratic leaders in the House and Senate responded positively Wednesday to a “back-up plan” proposed by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) that would allow the debt ceiling to be raised, but would make President Obama and congressional Democrats bear the brunt of the political fallout. […]

She also was effusive in praising Obama’s handling of the talks – notwithstanding the differences she and other House Democrats have had with the White House over the inclusion of entitlement cuts in any final deal.

“Let me say of the president how blessed we are to have him there. . . . This president has extended the respect and the courtesy to bipartisan House and Senate members to listen, listen, listen and listen to them talk about what their concerns are, their priorities; what their suggestions are,” Pelosi said. “Thursday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and now Wednesday. Unprecedented in terms of a president listening that much, bringing to the table complete knowledge of the subject. Nobody can out-debate him or out-statistic him on this information.”


RepRonPaul: I have decided not to seek re-election to Congress.

New Tool Gives Unprecedented Insight into ALEC

People for the American Way:

Today, the Center for Media & Democracy and The Nation unveiled www.ALECexposed.org, an important resource that provides key insight into the workings of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the shadowy organization that shepherds corporate-crafted bills through state legislatures, as detailed in this PFAW Foundation report. This new wiki-style website allows you view the actual legislation ALEC is pushing, including bills affecting:

These “model bills” are extraordinarily influential – they reach almost every state, and give incredible advantages to big corporations by carving special loopholes into environmental, tax and safety regulations and slashing worker and consumer protections. HEREis a clip of PFAW’s Andrew Gillum discussing ALEC’s work with MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell. http://blog.pfaw.org/content/new-tool-gives-unprecedented-insight-into-alec



ALEC Exposed

The Nation:

[…] Founded in 1973 by Paul Weyrich and other conservative activists frustrated by recent electoral setbacks, ALEC is a critical arm of the right-wing network of policy shops that, with infusions of corporate cash, has evolved to shape American politics. Inspired by Milton Friedman’s call for conservatives to “develop alternatives to existing policies [and] keep them alive and available,” ALEC’s model legislation reflects long-term goals: downsizing government, removing regulations on corporations and making it harder to hold the economically and politically powerful to account. Corporate donors retain veto power over the language, which is developed by the secretive task forces. The task forces cover issues from education to health policy. ALEC’s priorities for the 2011 session included bills to privatize education, break unions, deregulate major industries, pass voter ID laws and more. In states across the country they succeeded, with stacks of new laws signed by GOP governors like Ohio’s John Kasich and Wisconsin’s Scott Walker, both ALEC alums.

The details of ALEC’s model bills have been available only to the group’s 2,000 legislative and 300 corporate members. But thanks to a leak to Aliya Rahman, an Ohio-based activist who helped organize protests at ALEC’s Spring Task Force meeting in Cincinnati, The Nation has obtained more than 800 documents representing decades of model legislation. Teaming up with the Center for Media and Democracy, The Nation asked policy experts to analyze this never-before-seen archive.

The articles that follow are the first products of that examination. They provide an inside view of the priorities of ALEC’s corporate board and billionaire benefactors (including Tea Party funders Charles and David Koch). “Dozens of corporations are investing millions of dollars a year to write business-friendly legislation that is being made into law in statehouses coast to coast, with no regard for the public interest,” says Bob Edgar of Common Cause. “This is proof positive of the depth and scope of the corporate reach into our democratic processes.” The full archive of ALEC documents is available at a new website, alecexposed.org, thanks to the Center for Media and Democracy, which has provided powerful tools for progressives to turn this knowledge into power. The data tell us that the time has come to refocus on the battle to loosen the grip of corporate America and renew democracy in the states.

Business Domination Inc.,” by Joel Rogers and Laura Dresser

Sabotaging Healthcare,” by Wendell Potter

The Koch Connection,” by Lisa Graves

Starving Public Schools,” by Julie Underwood

Rigging Elections,” by John Nichols


ALEC Exposed website

ALEC Website


Example of how ALEC works, in 2 minutes:


A modest proposal: Congress should get retirement benefits at same age as the rest of us

Washington Post – Senator Sherrod Brown has an idea. If we are going to talk about raising people’s eligibility age for retirement benefits, then members of Congress should not have access to their own retirement benefits any earlier than the rest of us.

Brown is introducing a proposal today in Congress that would enshrine this into law: It would amend the Federal retirement system to make the Social Security retirement age the point at which current and future members of Congress get access to their own Federal retirement benefits.

You might dismiss this proposal as merely designed to send a message, and indeed the proposal that may not even come up for a vote. But Brown is hoping that the very fact that it’s a long shot will force some members of Congress — and the President — to rethink the notion that it’s acceptable to raise the retirement age on hard working Americans.

Read the whole article »


Orrin Hatch doubles down; calls it “perverse” that poor don’t pay more taxes


Mitt Romney Silent On Debt Ceiling Debate

Republican presidential candidates have used the debate over raising the nation’s borrowing limit to score points with conservative voters and insert their views into Washington’s thorniest political dispute.

But Mitt Romney, the Republican front-runner, has taken a subtler tack, avoiding the issue of the debt ceiling as he presses a more general assault on President Barack Obama’s economic record. That has attracted the attention of his GOP challengers, who have begun to accuse him of ducking the most vital issue of the campaign so far.

“The current debate is about what kind of leadership you’re going to show,” former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum said in an interview Monday. “If you’re running for president, you’ve got to show how you would handle a situation like this.”

“The debt ceiling is a gut-check time for all Republicans on spending and size of government,” said Alex Conant, spokesman for former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty. “Apparently, Gov. Romney is still checking his gut to figure out where he should stand.”


Dayton: ‘The future of Minnesota is at stake’

Daily Kos:

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton is beginning to forcefully make the case for his side in the budget showdown that’s led to a government shutdown, with this video, an accompanying op-ed, and a tour of the state that begins today.

Dayton says:

I have offered over $2 Billion in cuts to existing programs, and proposed to raise income taxes only on taxpayers who earn over one million dollars per year.

The Republicans said No.

In the spirit of compromise, I said I would agree to raise taxes on cigarettes, even though I do not personally support such a tax increase.

The Republicans said No.

No compromise. Republican legislators insist on having it all their way, or no way. That is not responsible, or even rational, leadership.

If this budget impasse is to be resolved fairly and equally, respecting each side’s mandate, then the Republicans and I must both compromise. That was the will of the people of Minnesota expressed in last year’s election. That is what the people of Minnesota want and deserve today.

Meanwhile, the Minnesota Supreme Court has agreed to take a case asking how much authority the courts have to order spending during shutdowns. At present, courts are deciding what government functions are indispensable and will continue during the shutdown; the Supreme Court could decide that the courts don’t have the authority to continue doing so.


The real reason conservatives are angry at Obama

Adam Serwer:

With conservatives showing themselves to be livid over the president’s attempt to seize the moral high ground on cutting the deficit, it’s worth exploring the real reason they’re so angry.

Yesterday on Fox News, Post columnist Charles Krauthammer complained that “all of a sudden” Obama “is a man who wants to be the one who cuts the deficit and the debt.” Krauthammer said:

Look, he adopts this position of being the Olympian observer of all this, above all the squabbling. Everyone else plays politics, but he acts in the national interest. And he says, you know, ‘If not now, when?’ All of a sudden he’s decided we have to have a big deal, not a small deal. For months, he insisted we have no deal. For months, he insisted that we have a debt ceiling increase with no cuts at all. Now all of a sudden, only a big deal. He says, ‘If not now, when?’ How about in February when he, as president, submitted a budget that increased the deficit?

All of a sudden he is a man who wants to be the one who cuts the deficit and the debt. It’s a farce. And you see it in the threat he made where he said, ‘I will not sign a short-term extension.’ Let’s say we’re in negotiations, and we’re approaching, and we want something real like tax reform which takes a few months. And Republicans pass a tax reform — pass a debt ceiling increase for say three months to allow negotiations. He says he will veto it because he is acting in the national interest; has to be a big deal. I think the Republicans ought to call the bluff on this.

Republicans are furious because President Obama’s gambit — to make himself look like the “adult in the room” by offering Republicans a disastrous but sweeping debt reduction deal that would combine tax increases with cuts to the social safety net — appears to be working. It’s working in the sense that it has revealed for all to see that Republicans aren’t really interested in cutting the debt.

What Republicans are really interested in doing is cutting the welfare state. That’s why they’re opposed to any increase in taxes, even though the biggest single driver of the deficit is the Bush tax cuts, which Republicans overwhelmingly supported. Despite Krauthammer’s claim that Obama’s interest in the deficit is “sudden,” the truth is that it’s also ”sudden” for Republicans — it wasn’t an issue for them until Obama was elected president. Before then, Republicans were perfectly willing to increase the debt through tax cuts, war with Iraq, and Medicare Part D.

Moreover, Republicans had no issue with raising the debt ceiling without demanding spending cuts when Bush was president. It’s only now that Obama is in the White House that they’re insisting that a debt ceiling hike must be accompanied by major concessions from Dems. It’s true that as a Senator, Obama had no compunctions about voting against raising the debt limit, but this doesn’t make the GOP’s hypocrisy any less blatant.

For the record, I think Obama’s concessions to Republicans would have been a political and moral disaster had they taken the deal. But to the extent that anyone has shown good faith in deficit negotiations, it’s the man in the White House. And the real reason conservatives are angry is that they can’t make this simple truth go away.




Bachmann Surges, But Romney Still Leads in National Poll

Romney leads Bachmann, 25 percent to 14 percent, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday. Sarah Palin places third with 12 percent and Texas Gov. Rick Perry garners 10 percent support. Romney’s support remained unchanged since the last Quinnipiac poll taken a month ago, while Bachmann picked up eight percentage points. With Bachmann moving up, Palin lost three points.

None of remaining candidates polled above the 6 percent businessman Herman Cain received. Texas Rep. Ron Paul and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich received 5 percent support, and former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty earned 3 percent. Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman each received 1 percent.

Daily Kos/SEIU State of the Nation Poll: Obama leads Bachmann by 13


American mainstream rejects GOP debt line

Congressional Republicans sincerely believed that if they simply cried “no tax increases,” over and over again, the public would rally behind them and Democrats would back down in the debt-ceiling fight.

A new Gallup poll reinforces what has been true for a long while: the GOP made the wrong assumption. (thanks to B.A.)

Americans’ preferences for deficit reduction clearly favor spending cuts to tax increases, but most Americans favor a mix of the two approaches.

It’s not even close. Only a fifth (20%) support the Republican position of crafting a debt-reduction agreement based solely on spending cuts, while 30% want to see a deal made up “mostly” of spending cuts, but including some new revenue.

The most popular option? A plurality of 32% support a 50-50 split, with equal amounts of spending cuts and tax increases. This is what Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) recommended two weeks ago, and it was largely ignored. It’s wild-eyed radicalism supported only by extreme socialists — which just happens to the most popular approach to debt reduction with the American mainstream.

Also note, the approach demanded by congressional Republicans isn’t even especially popular with their own voters. Only 26% of self-identified Republicans support a spending-cuts-only approach.

GOP officials on Capitol Hill simply take it as a given that the country supports their hard line. Indeed, Republicans are so convinced of this, they’re ready to crash the economy on purpose, assuming the electorate stands behind them.

The American mainstream just doesn’t look at tax increases, especially on the wealthy, as some scandalous move. Republicans have gambled and lost.


Pew: Many Americans say they don’t have a good understanding of what would happen if the debt limit is not raised


Gallup: Attention to Debt Ceiling Debate Doesn’t Affect Policy Views

Echoing resistance to raising the nation’s debt ceiling among the public at large, 53% of Americans who say they are following the issue very closely in the news want their member of Congress to vote against raising the debt limit, while 37% urge a vote in favor.



Holy Schnickes! Unbelievable! You can 3-D print working tools now

Did you know 3-D printers could make complex objects with moving parts like gears and crescent wrenches? I had no idea…this is kind of mind-blowing. The guy at the beginning likens the technology to Star Trek’s replicator.



[Want to learn something mind-blowing?] Thom Hartmann: Important! Newt is right about the Supreme Court




States enact record number (162) of anti-abortion laws in first half of 2011


Pray away the gay: Undercover video reveals how Bachman’s husband tries to use prayer to “cure” homosexuality

NBC News shows undercover video taken from Rep. Michele Bachmann’s husband’s Christian counseling center which “reveals that her therapists are using prayer and Bible scriptures to help cure people of homosexual tendencies.”

Bachmann says she’s “very proud” of the therapy clinics she owns w/her husband, which practiced ex-gay therapy





When taxidermy goes wrong

Animal lovers, look away now! These pictures show the misfortune of some of the world’s best known creatures ranging from lame leopards to pitiful polar bears!

The pictures were all posted up a Facebook page aptly named Badly Stuffed Animals and has a current following of 2,707.





CAPAction : Add Your Voice! Tell the #EPA to fight back!

Please urge the Environmental Protection Agency to require steep reductions in mercury, arsenic and other toxic air pollution from power plants. Such safeguards will reduce mercury poisoning of children, as well as speed the deployment of efficiency and renewable energy technologies that do not produce these contaminants.

Why comment?

The EPA proposed new standards on March 16, 2011, that will limit for the first time the hazardous air toxics spewing from American coal fired power plants. Every year, 772 million pounds of mercury, dioxin, and other cancer-causing chemicals come from their smokestacks. This has huge human and economic costs. But big coal companies and utilities want to block these safeguards to protect their profits. Voice your support for the EPA’s proposed protections, and help demonstrate strong public demand for action.

The public commenting period on the rule is open, so make your voice heard now.

We have provided some basic text for your message. We encourage you to personalize it by adding specifics to your message. For instance,

  • Mention anyone you know who suffers from respiratory or other similar illnesses;
  • Cite a local coal fired power plant with significant pollution; or,
  • Refer to a local renewable electricity project that would become more economically viable if dirty power plants had to clean up


New ActNow Post: Ask Congress to Investigate Rupert Murdoch!

Currently, Senators Jay Rockefeller and Frank Lautenberg have called for an investigation of News Corp. Free Press is urging citizens to implore their members of Congress to join them and demand an full and fair investigation.


The public have an insatiable curiosity to know everything.  Except what is worth knowing.  Journalism, conscious of this, and having tradesman-like habits, supplies their demands.  ~Oscar Wilde, 1891

Written by Chernynkaya

I am an artist and have lived in Los Angeles all of my life, except for a brief hippie period when I lived in SF. I am currently (semi-unwillingly) retired, but have had several careers.

31 Responses so far.

Click here to leave a comment
  1. agrippa says:

    I think that these two blogs are interesting:



    Neither are cool, calm and collected. But, both are interesting.

  2. Khirad says:

    Tea Party Hates Manatees, Says Protecting Them Is “Against the Bible”

    Michele Bachmann’s church says the Pope is ‘the antichrist’

    Michele Bachmann can’t pronounce “chutzpah”

    And by the way, it’s not the voice, or the dancing that does it for me. Have you seen her husband walking and waving to a crowd? Wow. Now the fact neither wanted to marry the other until God spoke to them makes so much more sense.

    The longest period of economic growth in the US (1953-1961) had a top tax rate of 90%

  3. KQuark says:

    I disagree with one thing you said Cher. The $4 Trillion plan would not be disastrous. That’s a figment of the progressive media IMHO. They were talking about modest cuts in entitlements less than 3% total while asking for over 6% in defense cuts and even the total of increased tax revenues where higher than the entitlement cuts. The only caveat would be raising the Medicare age could be a political disaster but not a real disaster considering they wanted to do it 25 years down the road when our healthcare system will be much evolved in general.

    Now for reference what would be a disaster is Ryan’s $6 trillion plan that would end Medicare as we know it and increase tax cuts for the rich or the steps UK is taking now that on a dollar for dollar basis is over twice what the president offered.

    I know it’s your opinion and you have a right to it but I’m just trying to put it in perspective with other facts. I mean I heard the same phrasing during the 2010 budget debate and we found out it was not a disaster at all.

    • Chernynkaya says:

      KQ--I just read this from Ezra Klein, and it makes total sense to me--both in the facts and in his take on the deficit debate:

      The White House’s case for a big deficit deal


      That’s led them to offer Republicans a deal that is not only much farther to the right than anyone had predicted, but also much farther to the right than most realize. In addition to the rise in the Medicare eligibility age and the cuts to Social Security and the minimal amount of revenues, it’d cut discretionary spending by $1.2 trillion, which is an absolutely massive attack on that category of spending.

      This deal isn’t just a last-ditch effort to save the economy from the damage of a federal default. The White House would far prefer this deal to the McConnell plan, or to the $2 trillion deal that was under consideration during the Biden negotiations. So why are administration officials so committed to striking a deal composed of policies they’ve mostly opposed? Here’s their thinking:

      You can’t spend till you cut: The deficit is sucking the oxygen out of everything else in Washington. It isn’t just powerful as an issue in and of itself, but as a response to any significant investments the administration might propose. If you believe we need to do more on jobs, or more on anything, you need finish the deficit conversation. And as an added bonus, if you finish the deficit conversation in a way that convinces the American people you’ve made sacrifices and forced government to live within its means, you have, at least in theory, more credibility when proposing new initiatives that would expand the size of government again.

      It’s your only shot at stimulus: A big deficit deal could include mild stimulative measures such as unemployment insurance and an extension of the payroll tax cut. That’s not much, but it’s better than nothing. A small deficit deal, or no deficit deal, won’t include any extensions of stimulus.

      It’s a way to control the timing: If you strike a deal that lasts 10 years, you can backload the savings to protect the recovery over the next three or four years. If you don’t strike a deal, Republicans are likely to take out their frustrations on the 2012 appropriations, which is to say we won’t have much long-term deficit reduction, which most economists think we need, but we’ll have a lot of immediate austerity, which most economists think would be poison for the recovery. It’s the worst of both worlds.

      Getting Obama reelected is important: The White House believes striking a major deficit deal would be good for Obama’s reelection chances. They also believe that getting Obama reelected would be good for the priorities that Democrats care about. President Mitt Romney’s spending cuts would be worse than theirs, his hostility to taxes would be more implacable than theirs, and he’d repeal or hollow out both the health-care law and financial regulation.

      Deficit reduction is good economic policy, both now and later: There’s something close to a consensus view that we need deficit reduction within the next five to 10 years or the odds of the market turning on us rise to unacceptable levels. But many in the White House also believe that a credible commitment to deficit reduction in the long and medium term could help the economy in the short term. In his July 2 radio address, for instance, Obama said, “Government has to start living within its means, just like families do. We have to cut the spending we can’t afford so we can put the economy on sounder footing, and give our businesses the confidence they need to grow and create jobs.”

      Is this, as Klein says, much more Right than we believed? Yes and no. IMO, it is a huge political risk, and I cannot get past my instinctual abhorrence of cuts to social safety nets! I simply can’t. Not while banksters are making obscene money, while the tax code is unfair. I am fairly angry. Now, that is pure emotion. Optics DO matter, and sometimes all the in-depth analysis of the micro-economics of the deal doesn’t matter when one steps back and asks why this needs to be done in the first place. Deal with the bigger inequities first. Why are cuts to SS/ Medi--no matter how tinkering they are a good idea? Health care costs are urgent--but not only on the recipient side--not to beneficiaries.

      HOWEVER-- and this is important-- I completely agree with the benefits of what Klein explains are the reasons behind this. Does the conflict between my left and right brains make sense? Not really. But so be it. BTW--I disagree with Obama that deficit reduction is good policy right now. It is not, but the other reasons for it are brilliant.

      • KQuark says:

        Whether it’s good policy right now or not there are two big factors to consider. Like Klien says it will be back loaded so that’s mitigating any negative impact but I think psychologically the big deal could be a big winner for the economy because it takes a huge uncertainty out of the marketplace for a long time. Right now one of the biggest things hurting the economy in my opinion is that business leaders have no idea what Washington is going to do not just on the debt ceiling and deficit but many issues. The big deal would at least put two big issues to rest.

        Let’s look at the sacred cows for each party for a second.

        First tax increases and then entitlement cuts.

        The last tax increases were under Clinton in 1994. In fact between Bush the first and Raygun they increased taxes several times.

        But the last significant entitlement cuts were in the mid ’80s.

        So which party has been more rigid about sacred cows?

        Sure you can say in recent times the GOP no doubt but over 25 years the Dems have not budged on entitlements.

        I get the whole point that tax cuts have been the biggest problem with revenue but I also realize the reality that when Baby Boomers hit the entitlement rolls the Baby Busters did not put in enough money to cover them forever. Again I think it comes more back to whether progressives think they are winning or losing as opposed to real impact on entitlements.

        I just don’t get how you ask one side to give up a sacred cow without capping one of your own. That sounds like tea bagger thinking to me.

        • Chernynkaya says:

          KQ--didn;t Clinton cut entitlements in ’95? Welfare reform, for example? So it hasn’t been since the 80’s. But that aside, I think it is intellectually HONEST to at least ask ourseves about putting sacred cows on teh table. The problem for me, is that frankly (and I see the potential argument against this) MY sacred cows are morally and economically correctly sacred, while keeping taxes for the richest at the lowest rates are indefensible--economically AND morally. I see no equivalence. Yes, I see that to the Reeps, they are just as sacred, but I can’t help that. It is wrong, no matter how scared it is to them. It is a false equivalence. IMO. The only thing equal about those opposing positions is that they are equally sacred to each side--but not equally valid.

          Here’s an article that sort of makes your point, I think:


          And sort of makes mine too.

          • KQuark says:

            He cut welfare but that was never really one of the big three entitlements. I’m not saying they are morally equivalent but I also know over half of those tax cuts went to the middle class and working families too. Again it’s the ultra rigidity I have a problem with when you compare both sides. In the grand scheme of things considering entitlements are 43% of the budget and they would be cut less than defense cuts which are 20% of the budget and even less than the addition of revenue I just think the left overstates the case that it would have this huge negative impact. The reality is we will have a surge of Baby Boomers drawing entitlements over the next couple of decades paid by generations that had much slower birth rates for a while. The longer the pain is differed the more pain we will ultimately have to endure especially if we punt to Republicans.

            I mean I get since progressives think it’s never morally right to cut entitlements I don’t expect them to react differently. Just like I don’t expect tea bagger Republicans to think any tax increases are ever justified. Sure progressives have a better case based on my beliefs but the results are the same rigid philosophies that got us here in the first place.

            Honestly all these arguments are moot because I doubt either side is going to give in and the cuts will not touch revenue increases or entitlement decreases. Past the oval office no one has the political chutzpah to make the hard choices.

      • funksands says:

        Cher, I agree with the first few points that Ezra makes, but disagree with the last. Deficit reduction is nearly meaningless. DEBT reduction is important long-term, but simply isn’t right now.

        Deficits are driven primarily by economic conditions and trade imbalance, not by taxation or spending.

        Taking money out of the economy, no matter where it comes from is foolish during the odd economic time we are going through. The rest of the world is willing to loan us however much money we want at 1%. They won’t forever, but right now they will.

        We should be taking that money and doing an extreme home makeover on the entire nation, making it a real “shining city on the hill” and not just some fevered Reagan opium dream.

        Instead, we are clipping coupons and acting timid. You know, the things that made our country great.

        The deficit and debt fable has become SO ingrained however, that it is now part of the bedrock of the long-term strategy of our nation. Saying otherwise risks professional ridicule and scorn, and at the least marginalization.

        • Chernynkaya says:

          Funk, same here, and thanks for clarifying the difference between debt and deficits. It is misunderstood, for sure. And I completely agree that this is no time to cut federal spending. Sure, we can trim waste and redundancy--but this is beyond that by a lot.

          And let me go further: Almost everyone agrees that military spending is a huge portion of spending. Excluding the costs of wars, I also see Pentagon spending (army bases worldwide, eg) as a huge jobs program. And inefficient one, but think about unemployment numbers if those soldiers were home.

          • bito says:

            Cher, one thing to keep in mind is that it will take 60 votes to continue the Bush tax cuts when they are due to expire and I wonder if this is not part of the chess game.
            Yes, Ezra may have inside information, but i have yet to hear the President use the word “cuts” to SS or Medicare when pertaining to beneficiaries. I also watched Leader Pelosi’s presser today and she said that right now there are no cuts to them. Perhaps one persons understanding of adjustments means cuts to another.

            • KQuark says:

              Exactly you can get 3% in efficiency gains in about every government function with little pain. I mean I saw an article where the SS Administration admitted they make about $7 billion dollars in over payments in a year. That was about a quarter of the cuts I heard in the last round.

              If you want to see real austerity and cuts look to what the British are doing. Cutting NHS funding 10% and further rationing care like the number of hip replacements. Those are real disastrous and painful cuts.

    • Chernynkaya says:

      KQ-- as an aside (but I do think it bears mentioning) I don’t always agree with the opinions I post. Sometimes I post them to see what the pudnuts are saying and sometimes I post them because I really do agree. Sometimes I just don’t know what to think, but I post something I think is worth considering. However, I would never post an opinion from, say, Limbaugh unless I wanted to highlight how disgusting it is.

      After that preamble, I tend to agree with the opinion that huge cuts in non-waste, non-military bloat are not good for the economy at this particular point in time. IMO, deficits are important but not crucial--and indeed dangerous--during this DEEP recession. However, I am not totally dogmatic about this; there is still way too much we don’t know about the cuts. We have no details and for now, I am sitting tight. My opinions on this are for now only general principles and as they say, the devil is in the details.

      • KQuark says:

        Agreed very good approach. I think that’s where trust comes in and not with just Obama but all Dems. People still act like Obama is dictator. He’s not Congress with the Dems input, especially from the Senate would have to write the final law. It’s a double fail safe so I doubt anything that politically or practically disastrous would pass. But you have to remember the very nature of liberals. They trust no one so of course I think they are overstating any potential disasters by their very nature.

        I just read an article about a new deal with about $1.5 trillion in cuts may be on the table without revenue increase. Immediately Daily KOS is decrying the plan even though it’s most likely a plan that does not contain any sacred cows meaning revenue increase or entitlement decreases. From the numbers I saw from the last plan that would mean about $1 trillion would come from defense cuts and restructuring the debt and only $500 billion or $50 billion a year from discretionary spending. C’mon Daily KOS that’s a drop in the bucket yet they are claiming another catastrophe. 🙄

  4. AlphaBitch says:

    Is that second badly stuffed animal Rush Limbaugh? Goodness gracious, I had not realized he had passed (anything but gas, that is).

    • Chernynkaya says:

      AB--Damn! You’re right- it actually does resemble the Drugster. It actually does!

      • AlphaBitch says:

        Cher- I excel at “celebrity look-alikes”, which is why I am sure you hired me to be Mr. Clooney’s personal assistant in the making of your story. Seriously. Do a treatment and send it off. Have AdLib/Kalima give you my email. I have “people” that could look at it……

        P.S. I was a little uncertain, but realized it was Rush when he was younger and thinner……..

        • Chernynkaya says:

          AB-- do you mean about Dad and the Saudis? I appreciate that and I would take you up on it in a heartbeat if I knew how to write a treatment! I sadly don’t know how. But I really thank you, my sweet.

          • AlphaBitch says:

            Cher: YES. For gosh sakes, I can send that to someone as is and see if they know a screenwriter who could do it AND keep it close to the facts.

            I hate it when a movie doesn’t match the true story -- ie, Charlie Wilson’s War. Just ask Khirad…..(JOANNE -HERRING IS A TOO TIGHT FACED OLD OLD OLD RELIGIOUSLY FANATIC WOMAN WHO ALWAYS MORE CLOSELY RESEMBLED JOAN RIVERS, NOT JULIA ROBERTS)

            Get my email, and let’s chat. -- AB

    • jkkFL says:

      Kes- only if he’s been drinking Rogaine!!! 😉

  5. escribacat says:

    That “printer” gadget is astounding. I’m not sure why they call it a printer…that’s what makes it confusing. It really is an actual replicator. Wow!!!

  6. escribacat says:

    To add to your “badly stuffed animal” collection, this two-legged calf was born in 1889 and was stuffed and sent around in a side-show circus. I found it in a small museum in Florence, Colorado.


  7. invient says:

    Huffington Post’s official policy is to help bloggers and authors get exposure.

    Sounds like the Wal-mart case all over again. Our official policy trumps what we actually do.

    I was talking with a friend and we thought of taking that court ruling to an extreme by making a parody video. Borrow or make a walmart employee uniform (blue vest) with a smiley face mask on and have that person be stabbed in the back (with the obligatory X’s for eyes afterward)… then modify the mask by adding hair or something… and then kill that “person” over again… then have text on the screen “Wal-Mart official policy: We do not murder our employees”, supreme court ruling text flashes with obligatory kangaroos in the background, and then “Policy and truth are not aligning”

    Lastly, that Thom Hartman video was great! Never new the supreme court did not have judicial review power.

    • Chernynkaya says:

      Invient, I got a chuckle out of your parody idea. It’s ridiculous how hypocritical the “stated policy” is laughable compared to the facts on the ground.

      And that Hartmann video was an eye-popper to me! I had no idea how much more absolute power the Supreme Court has amassed over time--and how it really seems that was not at all what was intended. Where are those damned “Constitutional Originalists” now??? Why hasn’t someone been all over this?

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