You are browsing the archive for 2013 October 18.

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Chairman Ted: Enough Excess Attention on the Texas Buffoon

October 18, 2013 in Blogs

By Don Hazen, AlterNet

When the Dems, won the big standoff, why did everyone have a photo of Ted Cruz?

When I woke up Thursday morning we had a functioning government again, and what seemed to be a new Chairman Mao. Everywhere I looked there was a picture of Ted Cruz. Pretty soon, I calculated, there would only be pictures of Cruz in America…just like Mao. There he was onHuffington Post, on the Daily Beast, on Raw Story, where he was called “The New Republican Party.” Even one of AlterNet’s editors was about to use him to illustrate a Tea Party story. Please. Give me a break.

If I am not mistaken, the resolution of the semi-crazed government stalemate was resolved primarily by senators Reid and McConnell; President Obama apparently hung tight, and majority leader Boehner is now officially licking his wounds. Twelve female senators (there are 20 in all) were given credit for bridging the gaping parties gap, and pushing for solutions that would end the brinkmanship with default looming very large, and the government on the sidelines for 16 days.

So there are maybe 20 people who were primarily responsible for the agreement, and their pictures would have made sense illustrating the story. Ted Cruz? He pretty much had nada to do with it. Notice, in all the shenanigans, Obamacare wasn’t on the table—it faded away days ago, as Cruz should have.

But somehow, editors across America thought that the mug of Ted Cruz summed up the entire situation. In fact, Cruz had to sit quietly on the sidelines, voting with 17 other Republican senators against the agreement as they were, to put it mildly, seriously outvoted. Experts figure that the Tea Party represents about 15 to 20 percent of the electorate. So that is Ted Cruz’s constituency. But from the publicity and attention heaped on the guy, you would think he was the leader of the semi–free world.

Cruz-mania reinforces a basic principle of politics and media in America. Say the craziest things, which have very little to do with reality—or what most people think—but if you look and sound good while you are doing it (the governor from Texas …read more


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Dallas Police Shoot Mentally Ill Man Standing in the Street

October 18, 2013 in Blogs

By Natasha Lennard, Salon

In just the latest police shooting to reach headlines, a 59-year-old was reportedly shot while complying with cops.


Another day, another story of police trigger-happines; another mentally ill person struck by police gunfire.

In Dallas this week, as Gawker noted, a 59-year-old man was behaving erratically and holding a knife when his mother called the cops. When the police arrived, as surveillance footage shows, they immediately draw there weapons. Bobby Gerald Bennett was shot four times while his hands were down by his sides. He is currently in intensive care. The Dallas Police Department is now conducting an internal review.

An eyewitness neighbor, Maurice Bunch, told local media:

“When the officers told him freeze, he complied.. He did not move an inch, in suspended animation; he just stood there, you know? Bobby was conscious, he knew exactly what he was doing because I had been talking to him prior.”

Via Gawker:

According to the press release issued by Dallas police Sgt. Warren Mitchell immediately after the shooting, Bennett “made statements indicating that he was not going to cooperate with the officers” and that “the incident escalated which led an officer to fire his weapon upon the individual.”

However, according to surveillance video captured by neighbor Maurice Bunch, Bennett was standing still during the entire incident and, when he was shot, his hands were down by his side.

As I noted late last year, and have reiterated since, an investigation by Portland Press Herald and Maine Sunday Telegram found that more than half of people shot by police suffer from mental health issues. The study raised highlighted numerous examples, including the following, reminiscent of this week’s Dallas police shooting:

In Saginaw, Mich., six police officers gun down a homeless, schizophrenic man in a vacant parking lot when he refuses to drop a small folding knife. In Seattle, Wash., a police officer fatally shoots a mentally ill, chronic alcoholic as he crosses the street, carving a piece of wood with a pocket knife. In Portland, Ore., police check on a man threatening suicide and wind up killing him with a single gunshot in the back.

Footage of the Dallas …read more


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The USA Defaults — on Its Constitution

October 18, 2013 in Blogs

By Robin Koerner Throughout these last few weeks, everyone involved in the negotiations on funding the government and the debt ceiling should have been repeating over and over again — to the point that the American people should be sick of hearing it.

It is Section 4 of the 14th Amendment to our Constitution of our great nation. (I choose still to use the word “great” because I don’t identify this nation with its government.)

“The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law … shall not be questioned.”

Compare and contrast with the president’s comment of a week ago: “As reckless as a government shutdown is … an economic shutdown that results from default would be dramatically worse” or the opening of his address to the nation a couple of days later, in which he talks of meeting “Republicans and Democrats from both Houses of Congress in an effort to… remove the dangers of default from our economy.”

Let’s be clear.

If anyone who has sworn an oath of office to uphold the Constitution would threaten any default by the USA when the USA has a) the revenue to meet the interest obligations on its debt and b) (for shame) the ability of a sovereign issuer of its own currency to pay all its debts at any time c) seen this coming for ages, and therefore had plenty of time to prepare for it, then he is doing little other than threatening willfully to violate his oath.

The credit of the USA should never have been in question and never had to be. As all of this nonsense of the last couple of weeks has been going on, everyone involved should have been repeating that part of the 14th Amendment out loud, reiterating that all debts would be paid first out of government revenue simply because that is the supreme Law of the land — and because, therefore, their integrity as takers of the oath to uphold the Constitution would not allow them to threaten impeachable behavior for political ends — or, for that matter, for any ends whatsoever. Their priority would then have been to put in place the practical mechanisms for ensuring that would be done.

As a writer and speaker who loves my country and therefore the Constitution (or should that …read more


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10 Reasons Why the Tea Party is So Unpopular

October 18, 2013 in Blogs

By Steven Rosenfeld, AlterNet

One-quarter of Republicans don’t think like them, Pew finds.

Now that the federal government has reopened and its debt limit raised, the Tea Party is more unpopular with Americans than ever—including among moderate Republicans—polls are finding, with analysts asking if the Tea Party is part of the GOP at all.  

“The Tea Party is less popular than ever, with even many Republicans now viewing the movement negatively. Overall, nearly half of the public (49 percent) has an unfavorable opinion of the Tea Party, while 30 percent have a favorable opinion,” the Pew Research Center For People And The Press said in its latest poll and report.

“For Republicans, the decline is steepest among those who describe themselves as moderate or liberal. Today, only about a quarter (27 percent) of moderate and liberal Republicans have a favorable opinion of the Tea Party movement, down 19 points from June,” Pew said, after surveying 1,500 adults over 18 across the country between Oct. 9 and 13. “Yet the Tea Party’s ratings have also declined among conservative Republicans, from 74 percent favorable in June to 65 percent now.”

Since the standoff ended, there’s been no shortage of media reports about the Republican Party tearing itself apart—with rightwingers accusing leaders in Congress of “surrender” and finger pointing at usual targets such as the media's supposedly liberal bias. Tea Party leaders such as former South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint, now president of the Heritage Foundation, vowed in a Wall Street Journal column Friday that the fight to destroy the Affordable Care Act will continue. Meanwhile, another Tea Party darling, Kentucky’s Sen. Rand Paul, is AWOL in this fracas, perhaps nursing his 2016 presidential bid.

But no one should think that the Tea Party’s latest failures will make them go away. This faction, as epitomized by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz declaring that the shutdown was a victory, is unapologetic, arrogant and proud of it. As Pew notes, Tea Partiers share 10 beliefs and causes that make most Americans cringe—not just Democrats but millions of moderate and liberal Republicans. Let’s look at those views and values, …read more


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Fox News Coverage Of Obamacare Was Extremely Misleading

October 18, 2013 in Blogs

By Eric Stern, Salon

Fact-finding expedition on Sean Hannity reveals Fox News deceived audience


I happened to turn on the Hannity show on Fox News last Friday evening. “Average Americans are feeling the pain of Obamacare and the healthcare overhaul train wreck,” Hannity announced, “and six of them are here tonight to tell us their stories.”  Three married couples were neatly arranged in his studio, the wives seated and the men standing behind them, like game show contestants.

As Hannity called on each of them, the guests recounted their “Obamacare” horror stories: canceled policies, premium hikes, restrictions on the freedom to see a doctor of their choice, financial burdens upon their small businesses and so on.

“These are the stories that the media refuses to cover,” Hannity interjected.

But none of it smelled right to me. Nothing these folks were saying jibed with the basic facts of the Affordable Care Act as I understand them. I understand them fairly well; I have worked as a senior adviser to a governor and helped him deal with the new federal rules.

I decided to hit the pavement. I tracked down Hannity’s guests, one by one, and did my own telephone interviews with them.

First I spoke with Paul Cox of Leicester, N.C.  He and his wife Michelle had lamented to Hannity that because of Obamacare, they can’t grow their construction business and they have kept their employees below a certain number of hours, so that they are part-timers.

Obamacare has no effect on businesses with 49 employees or less. But in our brief conversation on the phone, Paul revealed that he has only four employees. Why the cutback on his workforce? “Well,” he said, “I haven’t been forced to do so, it’s just that I’ve chosen to do so. I have to deal with increased costs.” What costs? And how, I asked him, is any of it due to Obamacare? There was a long pause, after which he said he’d call me back. He never did.

There is only one Obamacare requirement that applies to a company of this size: workers must be notified of the existence of the “ …read more


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I Was Raped, Left to Die, Harassed by My Classmates — the Boy Who Did it Never Faced Justice

October 18, 2013 in Blogs

By Daisy Coleman, xojane

The young woman whose alleged sexual assault has recently garnered national attention — and the attention of Anonymous — tells her story.

Editor's note: Last Sunday, the Kansas City Star publisheda harrowing feature about a young woman who claims she was sexually assaulted by a popular football player from a powerful family. While her family faced harassment in the town — her mother lost her job, and their house burned down — charges were dropped against her alleged attacker. She tells her side of the story below. 

Winter: cold, bleak, bitter, ugly. Almost like summer has taken off its mask and shown its true colors. Everyone is forced to see how ugly life can truly be. Others get a season of beauty: summer.

My whole life since January 8, 2012, has been a long, reckless winter.

The night everything changed I was having an old friend over to catch up and have fun. Her name is Paige, and she is a year younger than I am. At the time, she was 13, and I was 14.

We had been best friends since we were both very young, and continued to be best friends, even though I had moved from Albany to Maryville. She was in the eighth grade, and I was in the midst of my freshman year.

Life, overall, was great.

I was on the varsity cheer squad, a competitive dance team and had a lot of friends.


Paige is my best friend. Watching scary movies was always our thing. So, that's how we kicked off our night, along with alcoholic beverages. My mom didn't know we were drinking, and I was not supposed to be.

That night I was texting with a boy that my older brother had warned me about, but I didn't listen. Looking back, I wish I did.

It wasn't until later that night that Matt, a popular senior boy, had asked to hang out. Of course, I knew my brothers wouldn't allow this so, we had to sneak out. It was about one in the morning when my friend and I climbed out of my bedroom window. I was …read more


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Save the Knives for ObamaCare: Four Ways to Actually Defund the ACA

October 18, 2013 in Economics

By Michael F. Cannon

Michael F. Cannon

So, a band of tea-party Republicans led by Senators Ted Cruz (TX) and Mike Lee (UT) – and backed by groups like FreedomWorks, Heritage Action, and Club for Growth – pushed a risky strategy to defund ObamaCare that led to a partial government shutdown. As a logical matter, President Obama and Senate Democrats were equally culpable for the shutdown; they could have avoided it by approving one of the House-passed bills that funded the government while amending the president’s health care law. But that was unlikely. The media and public saw the GOP as more culpable, and the GOP caved. ObamaCare glided away unscathed.

Then came the inevitable recriminations between “defunders” and their detractors. If I may paraphrase and/or embellish: The shutdown was a failure! No it wasn’t! You’re stupid! You voted for ObamaCare! Each camp blames the other for the outcome, and for not being sufficiently devoted to fighting ObamaCare.

ObamaCare justifies drastic measures.”

To put my cards on the table, as a median-voter-theorem enthusiast who opposed the defund strategy before I supported it, I think it’s too soon to judge whether it was a failure. As of today, it has produced no gains, and ObamaCare opponents saw their poll numbers slip.

On the other hand, ObamaCare justifies drastic measures. Opponents spent political capital taking a principled stand against a law whose roll-out has been a two-week-long train wreck. Even die-hard supporters like Ezra Klein have called it a “disaster.” Former Obama press secretary Robert Gibbs has said heads should roll, and nobody knows whether the administration can get its act together before the health insurance “Exchanges” crater. If it can’t, the defund strategy will make all ObamaCare opponents appear prescient.

Finally, no one has focused on an undeniable success of the shutdown: for one brief, shining moment, my paycheck was larger than my wife’s.

In the end, the defund strategy may prove to be a disaster. Or helpful. As the Zen master said, we’ll see. Here’s the video

What’s clear is that the recriminations are unwisely distracting ObamaCare opponents from adding momentum to strategies that are already defunding the law. Here are four things opponents would be better off doing than fighting among themselves:

1. Stop Medicaid expansion in the states.

As envisioned by the ObamaCare’s authors, the Medicaid expansion would account for roughly half of the law’s $2 trillion …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Slow Recovery: Regime Uncertainty Is the Problem

October 18, 2013 in Economics

By John P. Cochran

If you haven’t seen it yet, Robert Higgs is at his best again on Regime Uncertainty and how Keynesian-based product and income accounts distort measures of economic performance in ways that clearly overstate the role of government in contributing to economic activity and masks the destructive aspects of what government does.


Problems with narrower “policy uncertainty” which can be interpreted as having demand side- Keynesian application:

These commentators suppose that such policy uncertainty harms the recovery because it impedes the public’s reliance on relentless increases in government spending, which they regard along Keynesian lines as a positive contribution to economic growth.

Compared to the supply-side emphasis of Regime Uncertainty:

In contrast, I consider regime uncertainly as a form of uncertainty related to the public’s—especially the private investors’—confidence in the future security of private property rights, which can be impaired by future regulatory changes (e.g., Dodd-Frank and Obamacare regulations), court decisions, administrative twists and turns, tax increases in various forms (e.g., Obamacare penalties enforced through the income-tax system), monetary-policy changes that threaten the dollar’s purchasing power and distort the allocation of credit, and personnel changes in the government’s corps of executives, judges, and assorted capos.

The conclusion:

If only people could bring themselves to see the government for what, all in all, it is—a force for plunder, waste, and destruction—they might then have the wit to worry less about government spending cutbacks and to worry more about the manifold ways in which the government generates what I call regime uncertainty.

Read the whole commentary here: Government Spending and Regime Uncertainty—a Clarification

…read more


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Washington Times Op-Ed: The shutdown was a sideshow, the problem dwarfing all others is spiraling debt

October 18, 2013 in Politics & Elections

During the shutdown, 85 percent of government stayed open despite the hoopla reported in the media. Government is now 100 percent open. Debt-ceiling deadlines have been averted, but the real problem remains: a $17 trillion debt and a president who continues to pile on new debt at a rate of $1 million a minute.
The government shutdown occurred because Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid allows the Senate to lurch from deadline to deadline without passing a single appropriations bill. Had he done his job and passed each of the 12 appropriations bills, the government could have stayed open.

Opening government has not resolved the big picture – a debt problem so large that it dwarfs all deadlines and threatens the very fabric of the nation. What remains is an unsustainable debt, precisely the problem that motivated me to run for office.

There was never any reason to shut down government. If both sides were willing to compromise, we could have found amicable solutions to these severe problems. But let the record state clearly, no significant spending restraint was accomplished because President Obama steadfastly refused to negotiate. Let us also remember his promise that he will negotiate as long as the compromises are outside of any budgetary deadlines.

We’ve heard this before, and I, for one, am skeptical.

When Mr. Obama, then a senator, opposed raising the debt ceiling in 2006, it was $8 trillion. Today, it has more than doubled to $17 trillion. If we are to survive this breakneck spending that has become the norm in Washington, it must be stopped and reversed. Many polls showed that Americans were fed up with both parties over the shutdown. A Bloomberg poll showed that 61 percent – 6 in 10 Americans – think that spending cuts should be tied to raising the debt ceiling. A Rasmussen survey and Fox News poll found similar results.

Americans want leaders who are willing to rein in a government that is completely out of control.

There are solutions. Perhaps we should not raise the debt ceiling without also enacting a balanced-budget amendment. Many states are forced to balance their budgets, and there is no reason the federal government cannot begin to do the same.

There is also the Penny Plan, which could balance the budget by cutting total federal spending by 1 percent each year for six consecutive years. Over a decade, overall spending would be reduced by $7.5 trillion.
There is no reason …read more


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The Budget Showdown Concludes — with Setting up a New One

October 18, 2013 in Economics

By Tad DeHaven

Tad DeHaven

Back on September 12th, I wrote that insisting on defunding or delaying Obamacare in exchange for keeping the government open and/or increasing the debt limit would end badly for Republicans.

It did.

My assessment was based on the realities of the current political landscape. Yes, I would have loved to have seen Obamacare suffer a lethal blow. I would have also loved for a unicorn to show up at my door with a check made out to me for $1 billion.

Neither was going to happen.

My growing concern is that when the dust finally settles, Democrats will end up keeping Obamacare intact and obtain higher spending levels.”

The GOP absolutely should have used the continuing resolution as an occasion to hammer away on Obamacare. But as Dirty Harry said after he blew up Briggs’ car in “Magnum Force,” “A man’s got to know his limitations.” House conservatives and outside groups that pushed for the Republican leadership in Congress to go “all in” did not.

That’s a shame, because even Obamacare supporters have acknowledged that the Affordable Care Act’s rollout has been a disaster. Unfortunately, what should have been the dominant news story for the past two weeks took a back seat to the government shutdown and debt limit brinksmanship.

Instead of cultivating public support, Republicans succeeded in accomplishing the opposite. As Byron York correctly noted, “Instead of pounding Obama on the mandates, defects, false promises, and expense of Obamacare, Republicans ended up pounding themselves.”

So where does it all go from here?

The agreement that was reached will keep the federal government open until January 15th and the debt ceiling will have to be dealt with again at some point in February or March. Toss in the fact that sequestration goes into effect in January and — voila! — the stage has been set for yet another showdown.

A twist is that the agreement requires the House and Senate budget committees to work together on a plan for funding the federal government for the rest of the fiscal year. The budget conference is to report back to Congress a new “top-line” figure by December 13th, which would then (ideally) give the appropriations committees time to work out the spending bills needed to complete the budget process.

Yeah, right.

Republicans will want to eliminate sequestration’s cuts to military spending and make up the difference with cost-savings from entitlement programs. Democrats will want sequestration completely scrapped and ask for tax increases to make up the difference. Are Republicans …read more

Source: OP-EDS