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MurphTheSurf3 On October - 2 - 2011

Obama’s sudden assertiveness may not be so sudden.

Remember the debt ceiling battle. On July 30, a day before the “agreement” Boehner and McConnell made it clear in public statements that there were six non-negotiable demands which they could not budge on. On July 31 Obama/Reid/Pelosi and McConnell/Boehner had a deal, but the word was that Obama “caved”. Did he? The evidence indicates otherwise.

1) Either a Constitutional Amendment MUST BE passed REQUIRING a balanced budget OR there must be a commitment that the amendment would be fully vetted in the House and Senate by appropriate committees and then fully debated on the floor of each house in September. Was that in the deal? No.

2) A phased in debt ceiling increase would be requiring at least two and perhaps three votes in the House and Senate with Obama requesting an increase in the ceiling each time. Suggested dates were in January and August of 2012. The drama of July and August 2011 would be repeated each time. Was that in the deal? No.

3) Future deficit/debt negotiations would be taken up as ordinary business. There would be no binding joint select committee ala the Simpson-Bowles Task Force that was supposed to be binding but the GOP blocked it. Was that in the deal? No.

4) To meet the cost associated with the debt ceiling increase and in future debt reduction negotiations, the Pentagon and Intelligence budgets must be off the table, and medicare/medicaid, social security, must be on the table. Was that in the deal? No.

5) All cuts would have to be heavily front loaded with a least one third from the budgets of 2012 and 2012. Was that in the deal? No.

6) Revenue increases could not be on the table. Deficit reduction must come exclusively from cutting costs. Was that in the deal? No.

How did this happen? I suspect it happened because Obama made it clear that he was not going to allow the U.S. to default.That he would invoke the 14th amendment and instruct the Treasury to issue new bonds while honoring all debt.

It’s the only explanation for the GOP’s abandoning of their non-negotiables. Why was all of the crowing from the GOP? My guess….that was part of the face saving in the deal. They got to claim they had forced through cuts, and had kept tax increases off the table (although the Democrats had agreed to both conditions long before). So the White House kept quiet and quietly defused a crisis.

OBAMA GOT HIT IN THE POLLS IN THIS BECAUSE OF THE WAY IT WAS REPORTED. Now, it would appear that the days of facing saving maneuvers are gone.

Written by MurphTheSurf3

Proud to be an Independent Progressive. I am a progressive- a one time Eisenhower Republican who is now a Democrat. I live in a very RED STATE and am a community activist with a very BLUE AGENDA. Historian, and "Gentleman Farmer."

67 Responses so far.

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  1. SueInCa says:

    Good round up on these issues. Too bad most Americans are too lazy to even think on this level. I agreed with your premise way back when it was negotiated. Not that I necessarily trust Standard and Poors but they clearly laid the blame for the credit downgrade on the republican side of congress. Obama expects all Americans to be as smart as he is and they truly are not, he needs to work on providing clearer and more succinct explanations for his actions. If he did, he would be carrying way more of the public with him.

    • MurphTheSurf3 says:


      Yes, Obama tends to want to lay out the facts and the facts are rarely simple. Tell the truth and you typically get a long story. So, you are correct. He needs simple messaging to match the GOP’s.

      The GOP message is built on a premise that world views where fear, anxiety and anger dominate can be turned to the support of their side of the ballot.

      What is ironic is that most of us should be in fear of, anxious about, and angry toward GOP priorities.

  2. Murph, Obama basically called their bluff. He knew that the GOP wouldn’t actually let a default happen. That would have been the end for the republican party. To be responsible for causing world wide financial panic and totally destroying America’s credit rating would have been the last straw for them as a viable political party. If, it sure would have hurt them badly in any future elections. I knew they would fold at the last minute.

    • MurphTheSurf3 says:

      I hope so, but I wonder if Boehner had enough control to get his caucus to move with him. I have wondered if Obama understood this and part of the way the deal was constructed gave Boehner the cover he needed to move the GOTP.

      Given what the GOP has done, and not done, it is remarkable that they have any strength with the electorate but the polls (and special elections including tomorrows in W. VA) would say otherwise.

      I hope the electorate awakens.

      • The GOP representatives and the RW media have done an amazing job of getting a large percentage of Americans to vote against their own interests. It’s mind boggling, really. The GOTP uses extreme nationalism, religion, old time morality and a very skewed picture of American history to brain wash them. Those that are brainwashed are convinced that they are proper patriots, god fearing, moral members of an exceptional country. And I think these people are very subtly made to believe that the white race is in danger of being overcome by minorities. They are racist, homophobic, bible thumping pseudo patriots. Oh, and anti-intellectual as well.

        • MurphTheSurf3 says:

          Not a word to argue with here. You have met some of my neighbors I think.

          Rural Missouri. Poor. Overwhelmingly White. Victimized by agri-business. Ill served by medical clinics. Their taxes are low, but they get nothing for the little they pay. Many live on Social Security and depend on Medicare/Medicaid to stay alive……and the GOP runs the show.

          Mind numbing.

  3. KQuark says:

    Great points.

    Absolutely no sacred cows were slaughtered which to me made the budget a push but Obama did win the grand strategy because got the cuts back loaded and he got the debt ceiling nonsense passed through the election.

    Again the problem was the media focus on the ugly process and the typical group think among progressives that invoking the 14th was a better solution. Why so the Dems would have to bring the ugly fight into the election?

  4. AdLib says:

    Props Murph on a great debut article and welcome to The Planet!

    The representation of the deficit deal and of Obama himself, which you have logically constructed, reflects a reality that has been ignored again and again…purposely by many including the Firebaggers on the left.

    In the budget deal earlier this year, after the dust had cleared, it became apparent that Obama had negotiated “cuts” that weren’t really cuts and bested the Repubs who once again were threatening to shut down the government.

    In his deal with Repubs after the election, he was still reeling from the public knocking him back on his heels and with the Repubs holding 3 million Americans hostage by refusing Unemployment Insurance extensions, he did agree to extending the Bush tax cuts (a critical reason why he did so that most of the Obama-haters on the Left always omit when wailing, “He renewed the Bush tax cuts!”) but in exchange got a great deal of benefits for the poor and middle class, far more for them than the wealthy got from two years more of tax cuts.

    Time and again, Obama has ultimately gotten the best of the Repubs in situations but you wouldn’t know that from all the wailing of the purist pundits on the Left.

    The Anti-Obama crowd on the Left and the TeaBaggers have much in common including having their heads so buried up their ass..umptions that they couldn’t see reality if it tapped them on the shoulder.

    They have their dogma and they need to believe in it so they bury themselves in denial, they are incapable of seeing facts that don’t fit into their preconceived notions of the way things are and what Obama has done as President.

    It would be sweet if the Occupy Wall Street protests do become a movement that the majority of Americans support because if that was to happen, if it was to help re-elect Obama and bring in a Dem Congress in 2012, by keeping that movement’s mandate strong, Obama could accomplish some really huge and important things that serve the majority in his second term.


    • MurphTheSurf3 says:

      AdLib….hi….your “Brazil” avatar is one of the most recognizable here.

      Thank you for the kudos.

      We are in agreement from first to last here.

      A few extra thoughts.

      A huge part of the tax cut renewal was setting the stage for the most productive lame duck session in 40 years. I believe the GOP thought they would get the renewal, be able to label Obama as a “caver”, AND bog him down in the Lameduck BUT, he had Pelosi and Reid and hey were ready to go.

      As we both know, the Dems NEVER had the 60 vote filibuster proof supermajority in the Senate that both the Left and the Right mythologize. The Blue Dogs joined with Lieberman to block the most progressive elements of health care, to limit the size of the Recovery Act, to table confirmations and appointments etc. But, what passed in that lameduck session could not be opposed by those who had the Dem label (even if they lacked the heart).

      Good strategy.

      This has been his story from the first, but does he get credit for it. Not much.

      I worked on the Obama campaign in GA, NC, Tx and Nebraska as a last minute community organizer. My job allowed me to take good chunks of time away to do this.I lived in SC and worked on the campaign there steadily. What worried me then was the unrealistic expectations so many saddled Obama with. There were the starry eyed novices and the veteran progressives…..both expecting the man to hang the moon.

      And then the economy flatlined.

      And then the GOP showed their true colors -- a willingness to do whatever it took (no matter who it hurt) to return to power.

      Huge odds. But, Obama has handled it far better than I would have ever hoped.

      Still, those novices and veterans moan….they seemed to regard the 2008 election as a kind of coronation of a divine right monarch or as the start of a zealots’ crusade. Most of the critique from the Left arises from ignorance or a lack of realism.

      As to the media….the media on the right is subsidized by Big Money and supported by a base which is fearful, angry and anxious (and united in their rejection of Obama). The media on the left is relegated to the edges (Link, Current, a few small newspapers and magazines). Most of the Media the Right labels leftist is really centrist leaning left (MSNBC, Washington Post, New York Times). And for them, driving viewership and subscriptions are their raison d’etre.

      So their reporting is mixed and focuses on ginning up conflict pitting side against side. So they downplay Obama’s strategy in order to heighten the tension.

      Lastly, far too few in the media today are really “pundits”. I am amazed at how some of the really big names do not do their homework; do not pick up on what’s really going on, and accept the “truisms” muttered firstest and loudest. The 24/7 news cycle has done little to encourage in depth analysis.

      • KQuark says:

        Surf group think and orthodoxy is almost as bad on the left as it is on the right now thanks to the left leaning media. Most of the left outsources their views to these pundits like the Limbaugh ditto heads because they don’t want to do the research themselves.

        Heathcare is my biggest issue and the left seems to forget that Obama and the Dems added a multi-trillion dollar benefit for working families in the form of the ACA once the subsidies AND increase in Medicaid kick in during 2014. The Obama and Dem detractors have failed to even notice that states can now have the PO and single payer at the state level and to be honest it’s better doing it that way than having national single payer all at once if you really understand the healthcare issue.

        • MurphTheSurf3 says:

          Nailed the HCA’s impact.

          Lefties can be as doctrinaire and absolute in their standards as any rightie.

          The want it all and as a result often get nothing.

          Talk about the perfect being the enemy of the good.

  5. ADONAI says:

    Whether the deal was “good” or not all depends on this stupid “super committee”.

    Obama has vowed to let the Bush tax cuts expire IF the new committee doesn’t produce a bill with serious “tax reform”.

    Well, let’s say they do. They get a “tax reform” bill out of Congress, which is really their main duty, but it’s soft and does nothign to really raise new revenue.

    Will Obama sign it? What if it “works” but extends the Bush tax cuts? Will Obama veto it? This is definitely not over yet and I feel another “hostage situation” is looming.

    • What worries me most about the bush tax cuts is if a republican gets the white house in 2012. Of course, a lot depends on what sort of Congress we are going to end up with. But right now, we could sure use those tax dollars that the obscenely rich are hoarding.

      • MurphTheSurf3 says:

        The only way that little guys will have a chance is if the Dems get back the House, keep the WH and hold onto the Senate (filibuster problems and all).

        • Murph, I couldn’t agree more. Today’s Congress is the worst that I can recall in my 58 years of existence.

          • MurphTheSurf3 says:

            Add 3 years for me, but as a student of American Political History I suggest that we have not had a Congress as incapable as this one since Great Depression (when they were matched by an equally useless President).

    • choicelady says:

      Be not so cynical. If the cuts expire, we gain $4 TRILLION in new revenue. If the bill passes -- and it will NOT -- we get at least $1.9 from retiring the upper income cuts. BUT the House and Senate up for election or re-election will run fast and furiously on the refusal of the House to extend cuts for the middle class working families. That will matter -- and there are eddies of indication that some of the GOP are very aware that willingness or not to protect working people seals their fate.

      The art of the deal is Obama’s very best thing. Makes Trump look like an expert at Candyland. By now you ought to know that some of the things that make you mad at him -- signing statements -- have been so misinterpreted as to be laughable. You and I had that discussion.

      He has a plan. It is a fixable plan -- so if nothing comes from the BaggerGOP, then come January 2013, there WILL be renewal IF we have him and both houses with real strength. Polls show really strong things for his plan -- see The People’s View at:


      This is based on the very reliable Pew poll that came out Sept. 26. Even the GOP majority want tax cuts for those above $250,000 to EXPIRE. Constant drum beats on this message will make the day.

      Keep working to tell people the truth. And VOTE even for the worst Dem ever -- it takes back the House, and that is critical!

      • bito says:

        I don’t understand, PBO had 2 years to pass anything he wanted in the Senate, didn’t he?

        **UPDATED: Barack Obama and the myth of the progressive ‘majorities’

        To progressives who complain about Barack Obama “squandering” the progressive majorities he supposedly had going for him when he was elected president, I refer you to the following chart…..


        Hmmm, maybe not.

      • bito says:

        Well, put C’Lady “The art of the deal” is well put and with your understanding of some agreements and your explanations of them, I have learned to fully appreciate his (PBO’s) deftness at the art of the deal. I have learned a great deal from you, The People’s View, Milt Shook at “Please Cut the Crap” http://pleasecutthecrap.typepad.com/main/ and others. But we know that reasoning and reasonable people do not make good pudnuts. do they? Goldie Taylor and Joy Reid do get on the Tube once in awhile but they are the exception and not the rule and even they are never giving ample time to actually discuss policy in any depth. I once saw Joy/Joyce Reid on CNN roll her eyes and smirk a bit after 2 questions and 2 minutes before it was a “Well, we have to leave it there, thanks Joyce.”
        I could almost see her saying to herself, “Yep, policy discussions in 2 minutes, thanks Wolfie.”

        • Emerald1943 says:

          Bito, I share your frustration with the 2-minute segment! It is especially bad on MSNBC at night when they must have such a rigid schedule (to be able to get the advertisements in) that the most serious of subjects gets short shrift!

          Well, I have to leave it here…. :-)

        • choicelady says:

          Oh wow bito -- did not know about “cut the crap” thank you!

          The sudden (at least to me, but I’m always the last to know) rise of thoughtful and reflective blogs in addition to this one I call “home” has been very interesting and heartening. It gives me hope.

          I think today is the travel day for the Van Jones-Robert Borosage show. What comes out of that event will be widely covered, and with Van involved, I’m hoping it won’t be the usual leftie breast beating. Damned if I was going to pay out $250 per night, $250 more for registration, and a plane ticket to listen to a roomful of highly employed people whine about “Obama’s not doing enough for the economy”. Which is why, of course, they made the conference unaccessible to the unemployed, working people, non-profit sector people…again.

          If they held this at a university and offered dorm space it might have worked, but then the bitterati would not have come. That WOULD have made it more fun, definitely more productive, but would not attract as much media who live for the griping.

          Oh, well…

      • MurphTheSurf3 says:


        Nearly 40 of those who came on Tea Party enthusiasm are facing very tough races in very middle and lower middle class districts where the unhappiness with Congress is thick and frothy. You are right they know this and they are nervous.

        Your read on Obama is mine as well.

        And yep, ANY Dem, no matter how bad, is better than an GOPer, no matter how good.

        Work for 2012.

      • ADONAI says:

        choice, I feel I have to agree with you even though a part of me says I shouldn’t. I try not to be cynical. I just don’t trust authority, regardless of what letter is in front of their name. But the President has proven me happily wrong so many times that I really need to start cutting him more slack on domestic issues. The fact he sincerely tries puts him head and shoulders above the last 4 guys.

        Most of my disagreements with the President have been on foreign policy issues anyways.

        • MurphTheSurf3 says:

          I worked very closely with the Obama campaign in four states and got to know a number of his people who knew him well. I think he is the real thing. Not everything I wanted but a heck of a lot more than I know I would have gotten with anyone else, including Hillary.

    • MurphTheSurf3 says:

      The so called “super committee” (more properly a joint special binding committee) is operating under rules that have been used to run committees that have closed military bases, refunded Social Security, rewritten the tax code etc.

      This is what the GOP proposed in 2007, which Obama endorsed and the Dems said they would accept….and it became the Bowles/Simpson Commission after the GOP withdrew their support (mostly because Obama was for it).

      The questions you pose will play out in the next two months. I will take some time to consider them. All I know is tha Barack is one of the smartest cats we have in the WH.

      • choicelady says:

        Yup. Nobody in my lifetime has been that smart. I think his ability to frame agreements with the GOP is brilliant. No -- he does NOT give hair-on-fire progressives the table pounding rhetoric, and that’s FINE with me. I want a lot of things I’m not getting -- but I like what I’m getting as the first steps toward much better programs. America is and always has been gradualist, and that is largely due to our process and our uses of Common Law as well as legislation. I can live without constant revolution -- however grandiose some people are about “to the barricades” I have BEEN to the barricades in mass demonstrations, and it sucks. Violence has little appeal to me even though I’ve experience a lot of it -- or maybe because I have. I definitely appreciate people’s willingness to be arrested for justice, since I have been, but that is just the beginning, it is never the way we change anything permanently. The Civil Rights Movement accomplished the right to legislate -- a HUGE accomplisment. Those who think rights were won ONLY on the streets are ignorant. The two go hand in hand. Sometimes you don’t need demonstrations, and sometimes you do. But you can’t end there, or you get nothing.

        Actually I’m fine the Bowles Simpson committee died -- I detest Allan Simpson’s “solutions” -- the Supercommittee is much, much better. But to preserve Social Security, to fix it with simple instead of extremist measures, to alter Medicare so that it is more efficient and not destroyed -- WE have to keep hammering home our wants. Same with everything. Overall we need to insist that no cuts be implemented until this recession is well and truly OVER.

        And in the meantime -- don’t bank with B of A. Just a thought.

        • MurphTheSurf3 says:

          ChoiceLady….again on the same page.

          If it were not for this Bush Created Recession, Barack would truly be about great things….come to think of it, he is but they are mostly about keeping us afloat.

          FDR is one of my heroes, but he faced the same problem Obama has. Having righted the floundering ship of state, the Congress then turned on him. FDR was “rescued” by WWII, the largest public employment program in history. Obama? I do not know. I certainly do not wish for war. Can he make the case that we fighting a war against decline and get the infrastructure crisis addressed?

          But….you are correct, he plays a very cagey game. He is a centrist, but this means he is pulling a good bit from the left as he works for significant social change. His right side is his reliance on the Wall Street Mechanism and U.S. Defense posture. Not all that I want, but a darn bit better than what he GOP or any other Dem could have given us.

          Simpson Bowles was a compromise when the GOP bailed but I think Obama has used it to strategically put revenue enhancement on the table.

          B of A….I am a credit union guy.

          • choicelady says:

            All credit union people please raise their hands! Ahhhhhh -- good for you!

            Community banks are a very good alternative. Hands up out there? Excellent.

            Now everyone remember where you were sitting so you can see yourself on this blog.


            • MurphTheSurf3 says:

              I have been a CCer for a long time. Like what they do and who they stand for.

        • agrippa says:

          I agree 100%

  6. choicelady says:

    Right on the money, Murph! I do policy parsing to give people “talking points” for grassroots advocacy. This is absolutely accurate, and thank you for posting it. This was equally true of the “lame duck” agreement last December -- what the president got for ordinary Americans was amazing. Letting the tax cuts for the rich ride another two years was only 14% of the agreement, but both “progressive” and MSM reported that the president caved. NOT true.

    What is also not clear to the average person is that huge numbers of programs are actually almost totally immune from the cuts. They are the elements of the Pay-Go Act of 2010 that holds Social Security, disability, Medicare benefits, aid to people transitioning from welfare to work, VA benefits, food stamps, and on and on all off the table for the first round. In the Supercommittee any changes have to be approved by a 7-vote margin minimally, and the Dems won’t do that to things that provide benefits. Then EVEN IF the “hammer” falls these programs are still immune.

    What IS vulnerable will be things called “discretionary” meaning they get their funds allocated every year. That includes Head Start, WIC nutrition programs, and the entire new health care plan. But there are moves to make cuts that will NOT endanger the programs, and Congress can make changes in 2013 to restore what is needed. What is fascinating is that every dime of defense funding and all subsidies to farms are discretionary. Both of these benefit huge interests, not the ordinary person. Think how changing Farm Aid to support small family farms instead of commodity growers would affect us. Yes commodity prices would likely rise making high fructose corn syrup and granules more expensive than -- gasp -- better and healthier substances. This needs to be examined carefully -- we do NOT want the poor to get smacked with high food prices just as we are tackling urban food deserts -- but it would not be horrible if soda pop was now more expensive than milk.

    Anyway -- you are correct in assessing the stability this president has shown on smart negotiating and preservation of REAL control over policy. I realize he is abetted by having one house more secure than Clinton had, but I recall Clinton caving on everything EVEN the first two years. And yet progressives think he and Hillary were and would have been better presidents. Not remotely true. Obama is one tough negotiator. This budget agreement is very good for ordinary people.

    That’s leadership.

    • MurphTheSurf3 says:

      Your reply is why I joined PlanetPOV.

      It has provided me with a wealth of new thinking, linked concepts and a agricultural perspective. I am going to copy and archive your post for future use (as a reference and for pithy paraphrasing).

      I live in rural Missouri and the power of agribusiness over local government is extraordinary.

      As to the rest….we are on the same page. Well done.

      • choicelady says:

        Hey Murph -- use what you like, but know that this site and The People’s View (thepeoplesview.net) have the best accessible info going. I occasionally get stuff right since it’s my job, but I rely on these blogs to head me in the right directions.

        I use Center on Budget & Policy Priorities (cbpp.org) and Center on Economic and Policy Research (cepr.net) for technical details, but those make even MY eyes cross!

        For a kind of convoluted set of reads on US ag policy you can follow some of the impact on Third World nations -- and by extension on our own -- at Oakland Institute’s site that is run by a good friend and smartest woman I know, Anuradha Mittal. It’s http://www.oaklandinstitute.org Food Research and Action Center (frac.org) does pretty readable stuff on US ag policy and its impact on hunger in America.

        A lot of ag policy stuff though comes out of those groups advocating organic agriculture on very small scale which has a huge importance but can’t entirely answer the global food needs or even the nation’s at this point. But a lot of it is very useful for low-input strategies that help small farmers (standard sized Iowa and Nebraska non-corporate farms) stay in business. It’s sort of a crap shoot and just takes some Googling to find what’s useful as opposed to what is not.

        BTW -- I have roots in MO, grandfather’s family up out of Albany, Gentry County. Always glad to talk with someone who also demands, “Show me!”

        • MurphTheSurf3 says:

          I have copy and archived your comment. Terrific sources. I knew of most of them but the People’s View and Oakland Institute are new. I will check them both out.

          I am a small farmer (very small). I have three plots (each about 25′ X 50′) where I grow a lot of my vegetables starting in May and ending in Novemeber. I do corn, potatoes, tomatoes, cucumbus, squash, peppers, carrots, rutabagas, string beans, peas, strawberries, blackberries, blueberries.

          I can a lot of stuff which is used across the winter.

          So I have a sensitivity to the farmer and her/his needs.

          By the way, I do much of this because I need to. I was a professor of history, but I also worked in another field (as a meeting organizer) and that had become a big part of my income. In 2008 the company for whom I worked folded almost overnight. As it turned out the top bosses did very well in the liquidation…the rest of us were left to paddle on a raft without paddles.

          So, I work part time, fight to be sure that the pensions I am looking for in three years are still there when I begin to tap into them, grow food, do all my own home repair (a home I own in toto) and share a car with three others…..and I grow a lot of food…some of which I exchange in barter for services from others.

          It’s a new (old) world.

          • choicelady says:

            You wouldn’t be Wendell Barry, would you? You are the perfect manifestation of his philosophy. Perfect for the world of amazing self sufficiency. Not a global solution but a local one, hands down no contect. You’re the “butter and cream” economist -- one who has built a remarkable degree of self reliance not just individually but as a community. Every step OUT of the global economy is good especially when it engages local people working together toward local community solutions. It’s not everyone’s alternative, but it is an important one. See “Yes” magazine if you aren’t already. They are good on these things.

            Some things need to be national -- Social Security, etc. -- and many things do not. But none of the NON national things work if they perpetuate massive “no paddle” inequality. Time to remind the GOP that personal responsibility requires something to be responsible FOR. Destruction of communities, of livelihoods, of economic self reliance is definitely the race to the bottom. And we can see how well Banana Republics work. Not.

            Bravo, Murph. You ARE the new face of new solutions. Thank you!

            • MurphTheSurf3 says:

              No I am not Wendell, but I am an admirer of him and his economic philosophy as expressed in his many works (fiction, non-fiction and poetry). An amazing “great soul.”

              Like you, I suspect.

              Brilliant thoughts so carefully packaged deserve a standing ovation. Considered yourself “hailed and huzzahed.”

              The Banana Republicans and so many of my neighbors who they are duping pine for the America of the 18th century while serving the destructive co-dependence of 21st century globalism. Look at the Koch’s, “heroes” of the right, who are, in fact, puppet masters.

              Pleasure exchanging thoughts.

  7. agrippa says:

    The quality if journalism has degenerated to that of TV situation comedies and football commentators.

    In 2011, the Watergate investigation could not occur.

    • jjgravitas says:

      Even back then, TV news relied on newspaper reporters for the heavy investigative journalism, which is how Watergate became news in the first place. The TV news of the day would have never thought to look into it except that it was already being printed in the Washington Post.
      Today, a story like Watergate would be covered by news websites and bloggers such as here, at PlanetPOV. The best example is the way the current student protests are being handled — not so much by the MSM.

      • MurphTheSurf3 says:

        What I think is important is the recognition of how many newspapers are owned by so few and how many newspapers are no longer owned by anyone because they are gone.

        Print journalism has always been investigative journalism and while the e-world has helped to keep some of that alive BUT a newsroom setting provides the kind of personnel with the kind of training that can really, really DIG and have fact checkers and editors pushing them to verify, verify, verify and then go further.

        Imagine the dynamic duo at WaPo without Ben Bradley and that pack of attorneys who made them nail down what they knew.

        They also had the luxury of time. Woodward and Bernstein were allowed to work on Watergate almost exclusively for many months. Today, the news cycle moves faster and faster.

        While the internet has given greater access to information, it has also provided fertile ground for disinformation. Google searches then to turn up as many lies as truths on anything controversial.

        Fortunately, places like PlanetPOV, Alternet, Link TV and Current TV along with non U.S. news sources like BBC and Al Jazeera have filled in some of the gaps.

        Good perspective. Thanks.

        • choicelady says:

          With the consolidation of ownership also comes a different standard of “expose”. It’s usually something about the powerless who may or may not have screwed up. When a union leader earns $300K, it is a scandal! That’s nose tissue for Wall Street, and the latter takes our livelihood while the former fights for it.

          The concentration of news ownership like all mergers and acquisitions is designed to control us.

          I used to ask my students (adults) what is the definition of power. Everyone more or less answered the same: getting what you want.

          The REAL definition is getting what you want -- and making sure others are utterly dependent on you. THAT is power.

          When cities and towns and others have fewer and fewer outlets for serious information, then they can control you, make you believe things that are not accurate or even true, and get you to undermine your own best interests. That is seriously damaging. Control of information is just as bad as control of finance.

          • MurphTheSurf3 says:

            I feel like I am at a book club and keep running into a very interesting person named choicelady. So another conversation…

            Consider the power that Fox wields. The highest rated cable news network that so clearly and obviously trades in lies and was hatched by a young Ailes in the White House and then funded by Murdoch whose citizenship was a gift of a GOP President.

            Considering who the Fox audience is, your definition of power is particularly apropos. Now extend that to the Tea Party (and consider how they were underwritten by mega-millionaires and billionaires via Freedom Works et. al) and it all makes very disturbing sense.

    • MurphTheSurf3 says:

      Scripted, punch line oriented, geared to slogans, and commercial. Yep.


  8. agrippa says:

    PBO’s assertiveness is not ‘sudden’. lol

    Those ‘non negotiales’ are not there. lol.

    With whom did PBO negotiate in the 111th Congress?
    With the Democrats in Congress. He did dthat in order to get decent laws passed. If he did not negotiate with his own party — nothing would have passed.

    • MurphTheSurf3 says:

      Not sure of your point. Is the LOL the a “chuckle” as in “of course” or is it a “derisive chortle” as in, Murph, you are full of it?

      Of course Obama has been negotiating. When faced with Blue Dogs on one side, and neo-Socialists on the other, in the big tent Dem party, this is what s required.

      Of note, I took a tally on the measures he has put forth forth in the Illinois Senate and the U.S. Senate. Nearly 75 percent of all the bills he sponsored, or cosponsored are bi-partisan efforts.

      It is his natural orientation.

      So, are we agreeing or at odds?

  9. escribacat says:

    Great post, Murph. I hadn’t kept up with those details during that grotesque nightmare. I think people are always judging Obama using a primitive set of macho values and he doesn’t fit into that structure at all.

    • choicelady says:

      I am a great fan of mysteries, and I have always been drawn to the strong, steadfast, and quiet types of detectives. The brazen noir characters creep me out.

      Conservatives used to value the strong, silent types -- Gary Cooper and Jimmy Stewart types -- but wound up preferring the table thumpers. They’d have kicked Honest Abe off their team for sure.

    • MurphTheSurf3 says:

      The nightmare’s coverage is one of the reason S and P did the downgrade. Its report explaining why the rating was lowered is clear that the impression created by the events was much more important than the events themselves. I.E. There was little doubt the U.S. would honor all debts, but the growing political rancor made what had been a “sure bet” into a “small gamble.” Thanks to the GOP…pure and simple.

      • choicelady says:

        Murph -- I think S&P had a more venal reason. In May the Department of Justice started a serious investigation into their bond ratings scandal from the 2008 mess. There is a whistleblower who has made a serious and provable case against them for falsifying documents. Therefore, with the DoJ breathing down their necks, it was oh so convenient to retaliate with a bond downgrade trying to stick it to the president.

        Even though their “analysis” laid much blame on the GOP, that little act of vengeance will NOT win them friends in the justice system!

        • MurphTheSurf3 says:

          And then there was the Senate report that put a lion’s share of the responsibility at their front door.


          WASHINGTON — Analysts who reviewed complex mortgage bonds that ultimately collapsed and ruined the U.S. housing market were threatened with firing if they lost lucrative business, prompting faulty ratings on trillions of dollars worth of junk mortgage bonds, a Senate report said Wednesday.

          The 639-page report by the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations confirms much of what McClatchy first reported about mismanagement by credit ratings agencies in 2009.


    • Mightywoof says:

      So true about the macho values, E’Cat ……… I find an intelligent, compassionate man far more sexy than a gun-slinging cowboy :)

  10. Emerald1943 says:

    Murph, that was excellent! It was so frustrating when I saw John “Orange Man” Boehner run to the closest microphone to say that he was soooo happy with the deal because he got 98% of everything he wanted. Face-saving indeed!

    It was apparent, when the deal was completed, that President Obama won this fight. If all the naysayers had read the White House explanation of the bill, they would have seen it. But you know how the MSM is…bashing the President, no matter what!

    I saved an email from the White House that I hope will post correctly.


    “After a long and heated debate, President Obama has signed into law a compromise that will reduce the deficit and avert a default on our obligations that would have devastated our economy.

    To help explain this compromise, we’ve put together an infographic that explains what’s in it and what will happen in the coming months:

    See the Graphic at http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2011/08/03/myths-and-facts-about-debt-ceiling-compromise

    On Tuesday, President Obama spoke about the compromise and urged Congress to immediately take steps to create new jobs, raise wages, and spur economic growth.

    Watch the video and read the President’s statement.”


    Since the signing of this bill into law, the MSM has been very predictably silent on the subject. No surprise there!

    • choicelady says:

      I never thought I’d agree with Rush -- but he tore strips off the GOP when he read the agreement. He excoriated all the party for caving to Obama! Why the MSM paid no attention to his bombast when it’s USUALLY ready to parrot what he says just shows they had to find ways to try to make Obama look bad.

      Did not work.

      • bito says:

        C’Lady, that is one of the sad things about where we are at in politics today. Just a smell of ANYTHING close to a compromise is called “caving” by the screamers on the fringes. If the deliberations when they were writing the Constitution had been televised, it would have never have been written.

        • MurphTheSurf3 says:

          There was a lot of screaming in 1776, 1781 and 1789 but the difference today is the power of the media and its omnipresence. Had there been cameras in Philadelphia, or New York in those days….Oh My!

          But, on the whole you are correct. Todays circus is the worst in modern memory. Certainly since the Great Depression.

      • MurphTheSurf3 says:

        They pay attention to that which fits their script. If it does not fit, it’s got no grit.

        RedState.com ran a three day blitz attacking McConnell and Boehner, but when it became clear that the GOP defeat had been refashioned as a “triumph” they changed their tune as well.”

    • MurphTheSurf3 says:

      The GOP has been very disciplined about message and the managing of same.

      The the right wing media multiplies the GOP message.

      And both arise from the same source: the generally out-of-sight sponsors/owners of both. Corporatocracy is real and it threatens the roots of democracy at every turn.

      In the meantime the Dems, and their supporters have to count on media streams dependent on more public support and aligned with the ideas of independent journalism. It’s a bit ironic that most of those outlets really do make an effort to be fair and balanced.

      You are correct that the White House press release tells the tale but it’s not one that many of the public voices picked up on. Heck, the Dems did not pick up on it.

      Appreciate your comments.

  11. Mightywoof says:

    Excellent deconstruction,Murph -- isn’t it sad that this is the sort of thing that ‘respected journalists’ used to be so good at reporting? Nowadays …. crickets :roll: No wonder the RW trot out their lies (ooops -- version of events) and likewise the Unsatisfied Purist Left. A pox on all their houses -- GOTV and get President Obama a second term!!

    A Canadian Neighbour Who’s Really Scared of What’s Happening Down There!!

    • MurphTheSurf3 says:

      We are on the same page in this. Read my reply to Emerald1943 above for some additional thoughts on the nature of the RW media juggernaut and the Left Wingish muddle.

      You bring up another fine point…..the lack of discipline within the “real and respected” body of journalists.

      Research, analysis, and message craftsmanship seem to have been relegated to a museum. Why? I think it is the result of the competition for “clicks, hits, and Nielsen points.” The 24/7 news apparatus is mostly talking heads who repeat the same stories again and again all in the search for attention.

      Sites like this refresh the dialogue a bit but have small audiences. The same can be said for Link and Current TV.

      Best to you of the “True North”.


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