Thursday, October 31, 2013

If It's Halloween, it must mean--BENGHAZI

++So John McCain is going to hold up Janet Yellin's nomination to the Fed Chair until he gets more information on Benghazi. He joins Lindsey Graham who will put a hold on every Obama nominee until he gets to meet the survivors of Benghazi.

++The Senate GOP are trying to put a hold on all of President Obama's justices because they believe Obama is stacking the courts because he's filling vacancies. Beauregard Sessions has attacked Supreme Court Justice Roberts as not being a true conservative because he supports having the Senate confirm judges to end the huge backload of cases.

++Senator Thune is relieved that Obamacare has taken attention away from the government shutdown.

++27 Republican Senators passed a resolution condemning their own personal vote to raise the debt ceiling.

++GOP pollster Fred Sleeper has warned the Republicans from playing the race card by referring to Hispanics in derogatory terms and urges the GOP to get behind immigration reform. Fat chance.

++As I wrote during the shutdown, the GOP has given up on national elections and will concentrate on Congressional and state elections because they now want the executive branch to be weaken. Yesterday, Ted Cruz came out openly in favor of curtailing the powers of the executive branch.

++E.J. Dionne has an excellent column in today's Washington Post saying America is sick of the extreme right. It's a good read and I agree with it. 

++Romney supporter Dana Millbank went after the brainless GOP for their charade with Kathleen Sebelius. He noted that this was their chance to crucify Sebelius and they looked like a bunch of clowns. Oh and no,Congressman, Kathleen Sebelius can not join an exchange because she has employer-provided health insurance. It would be illegal for her to do so.

++Rachel Maddow had an excellent interview with Harry Reid last night where Senator Reid talks about the GOP imploding during the shutdown. Among topics were ENDA, which he is proud of and will bring to a vote,and he says the GOP will not shutdown the government again. He says if he wanted the GOP to disappear he would like to see Ted Cruz nominated as their presidential candidate.

++Make sure you keep reading Charles Pierce at the Esquire political blog because he is writing some of the best and vicious commentary these days.

++For anyone interested in Obamacare, if you are over 50,click into the AARP website. It's fast and will walk you through all the healthcare options. You can enroll but save the information for when you can.

++President Obama hit it out of the ballpark on healthcare during his speech at Feneuil Hall. He also lit out against the GOP for their support of "junk" insurance. He argued again about the various components of the law. So if you are annoyed that he said If you like your plan, you can keep it, then you are less than 5% of those actually affected. And if you are affected, you can get a better policy.

++Tomorrow food stamps will end for millions of Americans. The next chance they can be restored is in mid-November when Congress goes back to negotiating the FARM bill. Old-time Republicans are furious at Heritage Action,Club for Growth,and Americans for Prosperity because they are going to score Congressman on whether they support such a bill. This was an old mainstay for GOP congressional types in the Farm Belt and would seriously damage the agricultural industry.

++ADP reports only 130,000 jobs were created this month. The FED job report will be confusing because government employees during the shutdown will be counted twice--as unemployed and employed. But contractors will be unemployed. We'll see whether we have entered a new recession.

++The FED isn't taking any chances and have signalled that they are not letting up on their stimulus until next Spring.

++What is amazing is this recovery is the fifth longest in American history but the weakest because of the loss of government jobs. The size of our federal government is now at the same level as 1967. Meanwhile the national debt is lower again this year, declining the fastest rate in 60 years.

++Harry Reid deserves the last option. The Simpson-Bowles Commission recommended $4.2 trillion in cuts to our deficit. Congress has already cut the budget by 2.5 trillion and if you pass Immigration Reform this would be another $1 trillion. So,the whole problem comes down to $700 billion, and subtract the gains in Obamacare, you are down to about one-half a trillion dollars. So problem almost solved in a rational time.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Red Sox win the World Series in Fenway

For the first time since 1918, the Boston Red Sox won the World Series at Fenway by defeating St.Louis 6-1.

Late Afternoon Coffee

++The Little website that could: Underfunded by House Republicans, has had a shaky start. Today's Post now raises the concern that the White House should be afraid of the numbers. Well, given the number of days the website has been down and that enrollment lasts to March 2014, here is today's number: 903,190 that have enrolled. So what happens when the website really works? 

++Oversight has been so intense for the GOP they shutdown early today so they went on vacation for ten days.

++Daryl Issa wants to investigate the website, believing the latest Rightwing meme that Michelle Obama's Princeton classmate owns it and there is the conflict of interest. Or if you want it another way, the company gave massive amounts of donations to the Republicans, who have a vested interest in it failing.

++Mary Landrieu wants to introduce a bill that allows Americans to keep their junk insurance saying a promise is a promise.

++The Democrats are close to unanimity on ENDA with Senator Manchin holding up the works. Harry Reid has already moved to cloture and a vote may come next week.

++Also next week ,Hawaii is supposed to approve same sex marriage.

++Yes, progressives, Elizabeth Warren has come out in favor of Hillary Clinton for President. At least, she signed the letter of all women Democratic Senators asking her to run.

++The last polls of the day--Roanoke shows the Macker up 17 against the Cooch. Rasmussen has changed from 17 Macker to 7 for the Macker.

++Cooch supporters e-mailed the Wenzel Poll showing is a neck and neck race. Remember Wenzel had Romney winning Ohio and Michigan and Sharon Angle beating Harry Reid.

++The GOP's latest polls show the party has a 29.6% approval rating and a 58.2% disapproval rating.

Advice to Democrats: Just run against Kooks

++I've had early morning e-mails from the fans of the Cooch, which trumpet the Quinnipiac poll which only shows the Macker 5 pts ahead of the Cooch. This supporter says that the Cooch always wins from behind in every race he has run. Blue Virginia this morning posts all the recent polls including the reliable Roanoke poll which shows the Macker up 7. Since the Cooch has been behind in every poll since July, it is beginning to look like McCain's bid to win Pennsylvania when he was losing every known poll there. Here, the fear is that the wingnuts will come out while Democrats stay home. 

++James Carville penned a memo in August saying that the GOP may lose its overwhelmingly advantage among seniors and that will influence 2014. Today, the Democracy Corps released its latest Battleground poll of 49 Republican Districts and 24 Democratic congressional seats. In the Republican districts, the senior vote is tied. In the Democratic districts ,Democrats lead by 14 in seniors overall and by 9 among white seniors. In a Women's Voices Women Vote poll, Republicans only lead by 6 among seniors, compared to 21% in 2010 and 12% in 2012. The reasons for the drop are the government shutdown, the support among seniors for what ACA has done for Medicare recipients, and support for infrastructure investment and education--things the GOP are against.

++Over on the conservative side, Arthur Brooks at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) called the social safety net, one of the greatest achievements of our society. He called on the GOP to "declare peace on the social safety net".  However, I believe that is a futile call with food stamps ending on November 1 and the Farm Bill still being stuck in the budget conference.

++Paul Ryan killed the "Grand Bargain" this morning when he said that Social Security and Medicare cuts should be on the table and he was dismissed. Instead, it looks like a mini-bargain may be arranged with none of those items on the table.

++Offhand, it looks strange that Bill de Blasio is sweeping the floor in New York City against former MTA chairman Lhota. But de Blasio only has to show his opponent is a Kook. You no longer have to run against a Republican because the name is meaningless. 

++In Ohio, where John Kasich decided to expand Medicaid coverage, lawn signs are appearing for the elections where Republicans now have to hide their party affiliation. It is a symptom of a larger disease.

Morning Update

++Kathleen Sabelius is being grilled by the House this morning. The GOP men all repeated the Wizard of Oz refrain" You're not in Kansas anymore." A picture of pure misogyny and one of the great reasons women are fleeing the GOP in droves. Remember this is the same committee that demanded hundreds of thousands of documents from the ACA "Navigators" ,which forced many non-profits to return their money to the government rather than go through this harassment. It is a committee devoted to sabotaging ACA. So in this milieu, I give Sabelius big points putting up with their crap.

++She did announce there would be no delay or any more extensions to the open enrollment period because insurance companies need to know what their market looked like for the coming year.

++Igor Volsky is doing some of the best writing about how ACA is revolutionizing the independent health insurance market and all for the better. TPM under Josh Marshall is posting people's experiences with the various exchanges. Today, he posted someone from Illinois who noted that Blue Cross-Blue Shield was cancelling his policy on January 1 but rolling it over automatically. He pointed out that ACA has forced the insurance company to provide their own exchange on its website where ,for the first,time customers could actually compare policies. This was the indirect result of ACA. Other posts entailed several people who have enthusiastically used the California exchange.

++If you want to know what policies are being cancelled, you might educated yourself and Google Consumer Reports' on the subject of junk insurance. Some of these policies cost over $400 per month and basically fail to cover hospitalization,surgery or ambulance service. Someone who actually has such a policy would end up owing serious coin if they needed anything serious done.

++Remember when the question was about the rise in healthcare premiums. Aside from the fact that pre-ACA insurance premiums were rocketing already,the OMB report showed that premiums for the exchanges ran below estimates. So now the issue is about the rise in policies which cover more items and will affect about 13.5 million people, who have to enter the independent market. Even so half these people will qualify for subsidies. Considering that the rest of us have employer-based insurance, we are talking about 5-6 million people who will have to pay more for better coverage. That's out of 235 million or more.

++You have to feel sorry for Kathleen Sabelius having to explain all this to a panel of Republicans who are committed to destroying ACA and who have no clue as to the content of the law. This has stimulated sharp attacks by Democrats over the last two days when GOP members started in on privacy issues when no health information is required to apply on the exchanges because pre-existing conditions no longer apply and finally a Democrat from New Jersey slammed them for refusing to propose anything to fix the situation.

++The media has been dreadful on this issue. Since all of them are over-insured, they haven't figured out how the rest of America lives. The debate is good in that all the junk insurance is being exposed for the damage it has done and the financial burdens it has placed on American families. After all, medical expenses were the number one reason for bankruptcies over the past several years.

++"If you like your policy, you can keep it." This is the big Gotcha on President Obama. Except for the last three years of ACA, these policies were grandfathered in. The problem now is that in year 4 policies have to change to cover a menu of services. So for 3 years, you really could keep the policy you had. So Obama was right, despite everyone trying to show he's wrong.

++President Obama is up in Boston today to show that Romneycare had a rough rollout but that Massachusetts now covered nearly 98% of its population.Naturally, Willard Romney came back from the dead to blast the President and denounce Obamacare. It's almost like his premature attack on Obama for Benghazi that just made him look like the creep he was.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

In Case You Missed This

++ Rand Paul vows to filibuster the appointment of Janet Yallin,who ironically is the most qualified nominee to the FED in my lifetime and who not ironically is a woman. 

++Lindsey Graham vows to filibuster all nominees for anything until the Administration produces the survivors of the attack in Benghazi as witnesses. The State Department has refused.

++Mitch McConnell has refused to endorse the McConnell rule, which Democrats proposed naming after him. He proposed during the fiscal cliff crisis to allow the President to unilaterally lift the debt ceiling unless Congress votes no. Today, he opposed his own suggestion.

++Marco Rubio who was instrumental in crafting the comprehensive immigration reform bill that passed the Senate has come out against his own bill, urging the House not to pass it.

++Mike Enzi will not retreat from his statement he is a fishing buddy with Dick Cheney, who says he isn't.

++Charlie Cook today explains in the National Journal  why 2014 is a make or break year for the Republicans to win the Senate. Next time 22 GOP Senators will have to defend and only 10 Democrats.

++Medicaid expansion signups for Obamacare are going like gangbusters, even in states like New Mexico. 

++More people are reporting they are getting through on and signing up for Obamacare. Informally, about 724,000 have enrolled and completed the process to date.

++John Kasich had a moment of conscience saying openly that "There seems to be a war against the poor" in America. He said this as he opened Ohio to Medicaid expansion.

++Bernie Sanders has toured the South and opines about a possible Presidential bid. At least, he wants a real progressive in the race.

++Foodstamps are supposed to end on November 1. The conference committee on the Farm Bill is fighting to keep more SNAP funding after the Right cut over $4 billion per year.

++The ballooning size of the Federal Government makes the government the same size as ....1967. 

++Michael Bloomberg is not plunking down coin on Virginia's Attorney General race, which is still too close to call and the Republican has as extreme politics as the Cooch. Disapproval rate of the Virginia Republican Party is at 68%.

++Both Texas and Oklahoma's Supreme Courts ruled their anti-abortion laws are unconstitutional. 

++Hill watchers believe there will be no grand bargain and that, despite Gene Sperling's comments at the American Progress confab,there will be no cuts to Social Security and Medicare. The OMB released a report this past week that showed extending Medicare two years would not save any significant money. Social Security right now will pay for Baby Boomers and General Xers.

++The Senate is set to take up ENDA in this session with bipartisan support.

Election Polls

++The hysteria deepens on the Obamacare roll out. If you thought people would be chastened about shutting down the government during wartime, think again. THE GOOD NEWS is that John Boehner is thinking of cutting more days off the 18 Legislative remaining in the year. He claims there is nothing left on their agenda until 2014 so he's going to cut some more days off. It has been too tiring for the Congresscritters.

++Meanwhile in Virginia,early voting puts the Macker in a 57-39-3 lead over the Cooch and Sarvis, the libertarian. PPP finds that the Macker has a 24% lead over the Cooch with women.

++The Washington Post/SRBI poll, the last of the season puts the Macker at 51 to 39. The gender gap is 58 to 34 for Terry. 

++Before the weekend, I saw that Bill de Blasio has a 40 point lead over Lhota in the New York City race. Now it's 45 points and may actually climb higher. 

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Odds and Ends

++The HHS website--not to be confused with that 4.2 million Americans have opened accounts for ACA, according to the Social Security department. To be a success,ACA needs 7 million to sign up for healthcare in the first six months. 

++The shaky rollout of the federal exchanges hasn't deterred Vermont from speeding to their 2017 deadline of being our first single-payer state where everyone will have health insurance.

++Surprise--the New York Times reports that the health insurance industry will do just fine with new regulations because the increased market will more than compensate for their costs. The last few months have shown health insurance stocks soaring.

++There has been discussion on the Intertubes that the increase of the Medicaid-eligible participants will increase the number of sick in the uninsured poll and thus sabotage the system. Preliminary findings are that these people, which include kids, are actually in better health than the uninsured who do not qualify for insurance.

++It is believed that ACA only needs one state to be successful to prove it works. The website ,we are promised, will be fully functioning by the end of November but still 770,000 have managed to get fully enrolled and accepted.

++Rural Americans are not likely to get any deals in ACA because these areas have fewer insurance companies wiling to enter this market. Premiums for places like Wyoming are higher because of too few competitors.

++The latest screamfit from House Republicans is that Americans will be fined even though they can't buy insurance. I doubt it since the Administration is making adjustments on the penalties as I write.

++Robert Reich writes in the Huffington Post about why did the Democrats approve a Republican healthcare plan when theirs would have been cheaper. The answer is political necessity and that the single payer which would save America $1trillion a year was simply not doable.

++Health insurance premiums will rise in cost as they have every year in my lifetime. But there is a difference of mine rising 10-20% and the average of 5% since the law was passed.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Jesus I'm A Sinner

++ I don't know whether you should refer to a young artist as young anymore if his or her skills already rank with the best of them. Daniel Bachman's new album on the Tompkins Square label, Jesus I'm A Sinner, is now available on Amazon and is selling out fast. 

++Daniel is now on tour in Europe to earn some much needed bread to return to the States to record another album. The audiences are lucky because Daniel gives me the pleasure John Fahey used to in the olden days.

++Daniel is accompanied Charlie Devine on banjo and Sally Anne Morgan on the fiddle. If you enjoy great acoustic guitar in the style John Fahey used to call "American Primitive", you'll enjoy Daniel's album, which is anything but primitive. 

++And don't forget to catch him when he tours the States. I missed him the last time he was in D.C. It's always nice to see him but I would like listening to him live more. He'll be coming around sometime within a year. 

++I hope he releases some of his overseas concerts on disc to capture his live performances. They are worth it.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Back in the Swamp

++ The McCarthy hearings on Obamacare are on today. "Did you ever believe in Obamacare or anyone who did?" The pathetic aspect is how ignorant of the ACA the GOP members are. They don't seem to know you don't have to supply health information because there is no restrictions on pre-existing conditions.

++The House leadership coming off their shutdown debacle reiterated that the major problem in the country is Obamacare. I can guess about ten other major problems but this seems to fit their template. They did not promise to avoid another government shutdown or monkey with the debt ceiling.

++Senate Democrats from red states are pushing for a delay in the mandate on Obamacare. This would be disastrous because it opens the door for more sabotage by the GOP.

++I decided to check in to last night and window shop for insurance plans in Virginia that match my family's needs. I saw 32 of them and the one that was superb was a Blue Cross-Blue Shield Platinum Plan with $0 deductible. Without any subsidies because I do not qualify,it costs slightly less than the plan we have now. For me,these plans may enable my wife and I to retire earlier than anticipated. I read of a woman who complained about the website because it would time off and she had not made her decision. She said she had 132 different options and had to study them before she enrolled. The amazing thing is that people, for the first time, are seeing the wide-range of options available. I think this is one of the factors in the wobbly start.

++The success of Obamacare will be hit and miss depending on where you live. The California website seems to be working and Jerry Brown's extension of Medicaid may bring in the lion's share of new customers. New York is also carrying the ball. Remember for the program to work nation-wide, it needs 7 million customers. The question for me is whether the Medicaid expansion people count. You have expansions in Ohio, Pennsylvania,New York, California,maybe in Florida. The people who get hurt naturally are the poor in places in the South and Texas.

++Ezra Klein let rip today with an analysis in the Washington Post about how the GOP has methodically sabotaged the bill through neglecting to create state exchanges and depriving the HHS of funds needed to make up the difference in state compliance,etc. 

++Since I can't get anyone at Google to talk to me, there is no reason for me to marinate myself in the minutiae of the technical issues. Needless to say, launching Social Security was a hassle also.

++We will hear about Obamacare through the next election. It is obvious that this is the only issue for the GOP, a party incapable of any governance.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

An Economic Reminder

++We finally have the September jobs report after the government shutdown. The economy gained another 148,000 jobs and unemployment is now at 7.2%. According to Paul Krugman, writing during the government shutdown,employment would be at 6% except for the GOP's manufactured crises. Macro-economic studies showed that GOP hijinks cost the economy 900,000 jobs.

++Now take Krugman's figure and subtract about 1.5% if Congress had passed the Jobs Bill or the Highway bill which would improve the infrastructure. So you would now be at 4.5% and the economy would be rocking. Remember that when you get depressed over gridlock and the GOP's obstructionism.

That Was Quick--Media moves from Shutdown to Obamacare

++Polling after the government shutdown has been disastrous for the GOP and Congress in general. This morning's Washington Post poll points to something that should worry the GOP, senior citizens have turned against the Republicans. I reported months ago that James Carville at Democracy Corps found the same phenomenon out and was surprised that the GOP was losing its elderly base. For any by-election where turnout is low, this post-50 white vote is critical.

++Now that the shutdown has been averted for now,all attention is on the screwups on the Obamacare health exchanges. Missing in the coverage is the success of some state exchanges such as Kentucky and the expansion of Medicaid in Ohio, which will insure another 260,000 people. We've been treated to every pseudo-IT person explaining the problems and laughed at computer expert Chuck Todd suggesting all the White House should do is add a few servers. Yes, the problems are real but it took Romneycare two months to get up and running and over 94% of people in Massachusetts are insured and they express an 84% satisfaction rate. 

++The quick switch of the media and the Right onto Obamacare has been stunning since we just avoided an economic apocalypse. I have been flooded with e-mails from conservatives crowing about the failure of Obamacare. Most of these rants come from people with Tricare, the military health insurance program. It is curious that they don't mention the cost-overruns of the F-22 and the fact that W said in 2005 it was "combat ready". 

++Just for the record, I already have health insurance and have received free medical exams courtesy of Obamacare and even received rebates. The clamor by the Right is that they simply do not want to see the uninsured have health care ,let alone health insurance.

++It looks like the GOP is down to a war against Obamacare and for more guns. The awesome meltdown during the shutdown has left the GOP unable to formulate any constructive policies about anything and exposed their insanity to the public. How it will play out through 2016 is anybody's guest. But my e-mails make it clear that they hate,really hate President Obama and really do believe he is a socialist and that he really is on a spending spree and that the deficit really is going up. This morning Harry Reid told the story of his meeting with President Obama where they finally agreed not to negotiate with those crazy people. Good luck because I believe that there will be another attempt to close the government down.

++The Epistemic Closure is coming in their clown cars to Virginia. This week we expect Mike Huckabee and Rick "Frothy Mix" Santorum to show up on the heels of the Duggar family to campaign for the Cooch. The Post reported that Virginians are disgusted with the whole crew, including the Macker. Anecdotally, I have heard Republicans say they will either not vote or write-in someone like Tom Davis or Lt. Gov. Bolling. The Richmond Dispatch, who always backs Republicans, wrote a scathing editorial on the Cooch and the Macker to say they would not endorse anyone. The Charlottesville paper, which generally endorses a moderate Republican, called for readers to write in Lt. Gov. Bolling. Hillary Clinton campaigned for McAulliffe at the State Theater in Falls Church. Bill Clinton comes in this week. Pro-Republican Rasmussen released a poll today that shows the Macker with a 17% lead over the Cooch. Why is this important? Because ,with only one exception,Virginia's Governor's race goes opposite to the party in the White House. 

++Gays are marrying in Asbury Park. That line is almost as improbable at the Honeymooner line about Ralph (Jackie Gleason) investing in uranium mines in Asbury Park. Same sex marriage is legal in New Jersey and Gov. Christie finally folded. 

++Kos of the Dailykos says that the House is really winnable for the Democrats in 2014. The generic polls show this now and the erosion of support among the GOP base shows that they may not be able to bet on old gizzers getting to the polls for them. But, yes, we are a year out and the economic apocalypse may happen and Obamacare might be wobbly. But the polling numbers are so strong the Big Money people behind the GOP are concerned. But once again, it is organization and mobilization that is the key.

++Marco Rubio, who has been twisting himself into a pretzel, says that the House GOP has every right to deny "Obama" immigration reform because of how he acted on the shutdown. I guess that ends the outreach program for the GOP. 

++Over the weekend I decided to take in what Frank Schaeffer is up to in his attacks on the Religious Right. I would highly recommend his recent interview on NPR about why the Religious Right is anti-American, anti-Obama, and revels in the government shutdown because they are anti-government. Then I turned to the sermon of Ted Cruz' father who is a Dominionist, who claimed that Ted Cruz had been anointed a King to bring the wealth to the Kingdom. In short, Defaulting on the national debt is a theological position that would trigger an economic apocalypse, which would bring the coming of Jesus Christ. As Frank Schaeffer pointed out in his interview, a number of the teabaggers including Michelle Bachman and Congressman Meadows, who wrote the shutdown record, believe we are living in the end times and want to hasten it by their actions. They will not compromise because they believe they are carrying out the will of God. Not a great way to run a railway or a government.

Friday, October 18, 2013

T.G.I.F..America Is Still Alive

++The GOP Dead-Enders are still taking the dead off the battlefield. The GOP Civil War has broken wide open and the Teabaggers are now fielding primary challenges to GOP Senators in Mississippi,Tennessee, Kentucky and South Carolina. 

++Yes,the President did hold tough and the GOP got nothing--except what was already in the ACA law already about income verification. 

++The initial cost of the shutdown was $24 billion for a stunt, the most expensive political charade in history. It will lower our GDP by .6%. 

++While we escaped financial death this time,we all got wounded. Three contributors from the American Conservative--Rod Dreher,Josh Barro, and Daniel Larison launched attacks on the GOP and the TeaParty for the shutdown. Dreher in his excellent "Strangelove Republicans" hit upon something that was diving my anxiety throughout the shutdown. I lost two different retirement possibilities under W's Administration and have only begun to get above water. A default would have wiped me out and doomed any prospect that my wife and I could ever retire. Dreher points this out about millions of Americans and Barro says succinctly that the Republicans are "dangerously incompetent" and , as I noted this past week, forfeited their claim to governance.

++Charlie Cook switched 14 races from Republican to leaning Democratic because of the shutdown. In today's National Journal,Cook went further into questioning the GOP's strategy. He asked a psychiatrist what accounts for the GOP doubling down on what is obviously untrue. He answer he got was this was known as"hysterical delusional affirmation" or "delusional synergy". Writers such as David Frum and Andrew Sullivan have tagged this "epistemic closure", the inability of conservatives to deal with contradictory evidence that refutes their ideological claims. Cook's psychiatrist says this syndrome "entails the suspension of logical intellectual processes with a selective consideration of only confirmatory input."

++While the Obamacare roll out for the uninsured has been a technological mess, Democracy Corps has found that a majority of Americans know believe you should just fix it and not repeal it or even defund it.

++Shivers went down my spine when I realized that the budget conference between the Senate and the House meant debates over the Ryan budget. However,there were good signs. Harry Reid blasted the idea of social security cuts for increased defense spending and appointed Bernie Sanders to the Senate group of negotiators. By this morning,the budget team of both the House and the Senate said that there would be no Grand Bargain and that they were aiming at building confidence measures rather than going for an over-arching long-term fix to the debt. 

++On Monday,New Jersey becomes the 14th state to recognize same-sex marriage.

++In Virginia, usually the Governorship is on by the party not the Presidents. This year could be historic. T-Mac has been winning all the polls over the Cooch since July and got three more polls this week. However, the Cooch has managed to conduct a voter purge ,which the Federal Court upheld today,all the way until the election.

++Real bettors are now waging that the Democrats will win the House. I'll wait until the dust dies down.

++Paul Krugman, who actually knows more than I do about the economy,agrees with me that without the shutdown and the January obstruction,the economy would show a 6% unemployment based on macroeconomics. If you added anything positive like the Jobs Bill,we would be back at normal. Remember that in the months ahead. All of this slowness in the recovery is entirely politically made.

++The GOP has a new spin that even Karl Rove is circulating. President Obama wanted this shutdown and he and Valerie Jarrett plotted the strategy to make Republicans look bad. Rove says this is to split the GOP and make the Party weak for 2014. Amazing! Then how does Rove explain the letter signed by 80 tea baggers to Boehner demanding a shutdown over Obamacare.

++The Teabaggers now vow to block Immigration Reform because this is another Obama plot to annihilate the GOP.

++While Senator Cruz would not rule out another shutdown, Mitch McConnell said that in no way is this going to happen and that the debt ceiling would not be held up. But that didn't work out last time.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

House Votes 285 to 144 for Senate Bill

This was quicker than I thought. But the House had to get out of town for another week vacation. All Democrats voted to open the government while the majority of the Republican Caucus voted against.

What is interesting is that the Senate bill contains the McConnell idea from the last Fiscal Cliff that the President can raise the debt ceiling by himself and then Congress must vote to prohibit him. This would get round all the 14th Amendment issues we have discussed before. However, no one quite knows whether this disappears as law with the next debt ceiling. 

What Democrats rejected in the Senate bill was McConnell's idea that department heads can use discretion how to make sequestration cuts. The reason Democrats rejected it was that this would make it too easy to keep sequestration in place during the next budget.

Final reminder of the night. This was an absolutely unnecessary government shutdown that affected millions of people and it was engineered by the GOP during wartime. The idea that 18 Republican Senators actually voted to default and plunge the world economy into a death spiral is horrifying. 

Congratulations to the Democrats for maintaining their unity against intense provocation and President Obama for not yielding and maintaining his cool.

Booker Wins New Jersey Senate Seat,Steve Lonegan loses

Senate Passes CR and Debt Ceiling 81-18

Maybe Done--Senate CR and Debt Ceiling

++The Tea Bag Revolution seems to have failed. Next time maybe they should have a street vendor light himself on fire. By late last night,House Teabaggers were admitting they had closed down the government for nothing. Despite Heritage Action threatening to score Representatives on how they voted last night when no bill hit the floor, this morning their CEO announced that it was unrealistic to expect a repeal of Obamacare until 2017. The shutdown gang has beat a hasty retreat with Rep. Labrador spinning that they didn't want to repeal or defund Obamacare. So what was the shutdown for?

++Before the dance in the end zone,we still don't know whether the House will be able to pass the Senate agreement. John Boehner sent Harry Reid "a message", which is a procedural act that allows Harry to avoid one cloture vote. It was also a shot across Senator Cruz' bow. As Mitch McConnell was taking this morning, Senator Cruz issued a statement so as to step on McConnell message. He said he and Senator Lee would not hold up the Senate vote and then sleazily said it was up to House Republicans whether they want to pass the agreement. 

++And who is to blame for the collapse of the GOP? Why who else? The Press. The press undercut the GOP's message and strategy (whatever that was). Eric Erickson of Red State is on the warpath against John Boehner and Rush Limbaugh called the GOP the most "ineffectual" political party he has ever seen. The circular firing squad has just started. Establishment Republicans are saying they will protect Boehner's Speakership and so did Nancy Pelosi. Even Matt Drudge proclaimed that Nancy Pelosi would be the Speaker in 2014. Stu Rothenberg told Democrats not to start measuring the drapes just yet because the 2014 shutdown may not--but then again, it may affect the 2014 elections. 

++The Senate deal is that the government will run at sequestration levels until January 15 and the debt ceiling will be moved to February. In the meantime,the House will pick members of a budget conference to start immediately to develop a budget for 2014 based on both the Senate and House budgets. The Democrats believe they can get most of the hurtful sequestration cuts lifted. I don't think so but good luck.

++But we still have not had a Senate vote and depending on the resignation of House Republicans, we still don't know whether the House can pass a bill by tomorrow at midnight. Right now it is still hype. 

++President Obama said that the minute the budget agreement was signed he will again start pushing on immigration reform. I suggest kicking them when they are down after the vote in the House.

++Meanwhile Mayor Booker looks, according to all polls,like he will win against tea bagger Lonegran in New Jersey.

++Another poll was released showing the Cooch trailing McAulifee in Virginia.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Any Case For Republican Governance Has Collapsed

++Unless you have a Republican friend or family member running for office,there is virtually no reason to vote Republican. This was a stunning day--two days away from default--when the House GOP could not formulate a bill, even a vindictive one, or muster enough votes for any thing. There is a total collapse of House Republicans and there dysfunction is beyond anything I have ever seen in my lifetime. 

++Earlier in the day Mitch McConnell suspended the negotiations with Harry Reid to see what the House would produce. Throughout the day, we were told various options were being considered by the House, including the Vitter amendment, which would strip the President, the Vice President,cabinet members and congressional staff of their federal health insurance. This has actually been on the table for the last week, first in a Republican version of the Senate bill and now in the House. The meme of "fairness for all Americans" is meant to be code for this amendment. The Einsteins in the House who thought this was school kid clever--Teehee--never considered it was unconstitutional. God knows whether it would resurface in something tomorrow. Their latest bill did not please the tea baggers so Heritage Action vowed revenge and Boehner said there would be no bill tonight. Peter King of New York, who is not a moderate as advertised but conservative,cried out loud that "My party is going nuts." By evening,Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell were backed negotiating. House staffers wailed that they would have to accept the Senate bill or the bill from the "Surrender Caucus". Peter King said that for all this talk over the last two weeks about Obamacare,the House bill didn't even touch it and all they got was misery and woe for the American people.

++Tomorrow, President Obama has called Jack Lew to the White House for a meeting, including Joe Biden. Rick Hertzberg wrote a compelling case in the New York why President Obama has to invoke the 14th Amendment to allow Treasury to pay America's debts. As Bruce Bartlett, the adviser to Reagan and Poppie Bush, told Thom Hartman this morning he hoped President Obama didn't cave on this. He said there is no economic problem, this is a political problem that you would have to go back to the Civil War to see it replicated.

++But the sabotage of the American economy has already occurred. The short-term bond market has flipped out and large Hedge Funds have been liquidating their short-term debt already. China has called for the "De-Americanization" of the global order. The global community can not trust the United States anymore. While the NSA revelations shock the confidence of our allies,the whimsical default on the American debt by a handful of short, white freaks is just too much. Already,the idea of creating another global currency is surfacing from more mainstream countries and not simply as a proposal from radical states. Those who cry,"U.S.A!, U.S.A!", will have unilaterally diminished America's influence and power in the world, nothing a $1trillion Defense, intelligence and Homeland Security budget can ever bring back. Incredibly over 50% of Republicans actually believe defaulting on the debt is no big deal. But, remember these are the same people who argued that the Geneva Conventions do not apply to us,that international organizations are against our interest ad who believed we could act unilaterally in the world. So,they will be flabbergasted by the backlash against the United States and try to gin up some jingoistic response for 2016. They will try and blame Obama for the shrinking influence in the world the United States will have. But don't be fooled.

++The implosion of a major party in the Western world creates serious collateral damage both here and abroad. Progressives thought there was some kind of alliance with libertarians to stop the Syrian War. But the GOP response was old-fashioned isolationism. Their empire has collapsed and they want to bring the country further down. Note the Syrian bill that had passed the House only months before as token pressure on Obama to engage more fully in the Syrian situation. It was close to a declaration of war signed by the House GOP. But when push came to shove, they fled authorization of military action. I'm glad Obama didn't move militarily but the GOP's actions were not only knee-jerk anti-Obama but a refection of their new isolationism. The remnants of neo-conservatism are helpless before this new tide. Notice what little impact Bibi Netanyahu's visit to the States made or how ineffectual were the 250 AIPAC lobbyists on the Syrian Resolution. The GOP has no strategy for foreign policy at all.

++Karl Rove has said that the GOP depended on their strength in national security and on their tax policies. They lost both in the 2012 election and now they do not have any foreign policy credibility or any economic policies, which could improve the lot of their fellow Americans. In fact, they have even abandoned their business donors, who are now terrified at the Republican Party. They created the Teabag Monster and now it is devouring the Party.

++Ed Kilgore of the Washington Monthly took on Michael Lind's thesis that what we are seeing is that the South has taken over the Republican Party and that the current situation is the inevitable conclusion of the South triumph as witnessed by the Confederate flags at yesterday's rallies. Lind made a persuasive case about this but Kilgore takes him down a notch. Pat Buchanan is dancing in the streets over the Teabag sedition, saying it is reminiscent of Barry Goldwater taking on the Rockefeller establishment. I guess Bruce Bartlett got in the final word on this when he told Thom Hartman that the GOP should be encouraged to run the craziest candidate in 2016 so that they can lose in all 50 states and maybe something could rise from the ashes.

++I like political practitioners. I always have appreciated Nancy Pelosi mastering a very simple task--always knowing the exact vote count when a bill was brought up on the floor. The GOP can't even get that straight. During the last two years, the House GOP has never had an accurate Whip count, even on such a crucial thing for the GOP base as the Farm Bill.If they can't even manage to Whip their own bills, why would anyone entrust them with managing anything in government.

++Steve Israel today sent viral a clip of the Rules Committee changing the rule that would allowed the shutdown to happen. In other words,Republicans were caught ensuring that the shutdown would happen and that no clean C/R could ever be brought to the floor. But what was worse is today when they were not getting their way, the Teabaggers objected to the rule. The problem for the rest of us is that it may mean that the Senate agreement may not even make it to the floor.

++We witnessed today an amazing threat. Senator Rafael Cruz threatened to filibuster any bill to raise the debt ceiling on the floor of the Senate. Yesterday, we saw Paul Ryan, master of the budget, threaten to attach an amendment to the debt ceiling that would prohibit insurance companies for covering contraceptives for women. And not to be outdone, Rand Paul threatened to attach an amendment to the Senate bill to raise retirement age for Social Security and for Medicare eligibility. 

++Basically the Religious Right wing of the GOP is anti-American unless we adopt their rules. The GOP's foreign policy is now isolationist but still making unilateral demands that the world ignores. For example,Iran is supposed to cease all uranium enrichment before sanctions are lifted. This conveniently ignores that Iran is a signatory of the non-proliferation act, which allows enrichment for energy purposes. The demand will be laughed out of the EU and by other countries with sanctions on Iran. On Syria, the GOP is absolutely silent on Syria's compliance with its pledge to destroy its chemical weapons. A major interest of the GOP in the past is simply not considered important. And because of the impression of the Congressional disarray abroad,Russia is charging we are not living up to our obligations to bring the Syrian opposition to the table in Geneva. There is an eerie feeling that the United States is not reliable in anything.

++Foreign observers are dumbstruck by our government shutdown. They basically think it is strange that any country would shutdown in protest against a healthcare law that was already approved over four years ago. It is baffling. The perception of a possible default is fear. They never believed it before but now they see a whole section of our society as not taking this prospect seriously. Simply put, we are not a serious country.

++I'm not clear I know what the GOP stands for anymore. We all know what they stand against. Contraceptives,gay rights,equal rights, affirmative action,health care, social security, Medicare,Hispanics,women in general,veterans issues,labor rights,the environment,government disaster aid,gun control, and you add to the list. They are for the government shutdown,for default, for military monuments,and they don't even seem to be for "family values". It is stunning to see the total collapse of a major party, just as polls show finally the American people have returned to the belief that government plays a vital role in our society and our prosperity. 

Monday, October 14, 2013

No News Again

++President Obama postponed his meeting with congressional leaders to let Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell duked it out for a new formulation to end the government shutdown and extend the debt ceiling. Now we are back to extending sequestration, but with the debt ceiling back to February next year. Instead of the repeal of the medical devices tax, there will be means testing for healthcare--however that would work.

++Of course, any agreement would require the House to learn how to count and pass a bill in a speedy manner so that everything will work. Less clear today than ever before the shutdown whether we can avoid the Ping-Pong of last week. 

++President Obama said today that a default would be likely if the Republicans can't get their act together. A new ABC/Washington Post poll now has the GOP down to 21% approval rating for how they handled the showdown. But remember nearly 90% of the public wants background checks on gun purchases and that went nowhere. 

++A Circuit Court ruled today that corporations are not religious organizations that can ban contraceptive coverage on health insurance. 

Muhammed Ali versus George Foreman--Sam Wang vs. Nate Silver

++About the only good thing coming from the government shutdown is the reappearance of Sam Wang. Please read Sam Wang's follow-up posts at He has gone behind the numbers to project the 2014 House elections. He thinks it is 50-50 now whether the Democrats can take back the House. But his re-emergence provoked Nate Silver, who believes that this too will pass and not make the dent Wang thinks. Wang disagrees because the turn against Republicans is deeper and more systemic than the pseudo-scandals generated against President Obama. Great to read dueling wonks.

++Another good thing from the shutdown has been the pent-up writing we have been hit with. John Judis in the New Republic analyzes the Collapse of the Republican Party. Salon had a great piece on how the South dominates the GOP and its awful implications for the country. Andrew Sullivan at his The Dish analyzes the "nullification of the Obama Presidency" by the Teabaggers and reflects on the bizarre demonstration outside the White House with protestors waving Confederate flags. Charles Pierce at Esquire has been merciless on his analysis of the GOP's shutdown.

++Yes, Virginia,a default would be catastrophic. The financial leaders of the world meeting in Europe warned the United States that default would shake the world. Louie Gohmert says a default of the debt would be an "impeachable" offense. Of course, if President Obama invokes the 14th Amendment it would be seen as an impeachable offense. My suggestion is that the House GOP open the government and lift the debt ceiling and go right into impeachment because that it what the House GOP wanted all along after the election.

++Despite Mark Halperin on "Morning Joe" and Bob Corker and Senator Schumer saying we are close to an agreement on the debt ceiling, I doubt it. We are back to the point where the House GOP is in such chaos,I don't believe they can pass anything in time.

++Rand Paul doesn't think a debt default is a good idea and wants to raise the age of Social Security and cut Medicare as a condition. Paul Ryan wants to prohibit contraceptive coverage for health insurance as a condition of the debt ceiling raise. The House Caucus wanted budget cuts. 

++The Democrats are fighting back by refusing to accept a prolongation of the sequester,which Senator Collins proposed. The Beltway pundits believe this could be an example of Democratic overreach. Ezra Klein had written this past weekend that whatever happens a long term budget deal in the future is dead. Next year, the sequestration cuts begin to take big hunks out of the blotted defense budget. In another world, the Republicans should oppose this. But we are in Superman's Bizarro world.

++John McCain who is apoplectic now appeared on the Sunday Talk shows to urge Democrats to be gracious and give something so the GOP can step down. The conventional wisdom is that there has to be some face-saving gesture for John Boehner so that he keeps his job. "I got to get something out of this." 

++David Plouffe, the mastermind of Obama's 2008 victory, outs a default at 50-50. 

Friday, October 11, 2013

Hurray for Classic Baseball

++The final playoff teams are decided. It is the classic choices: the Boston Red Sox against Detroit Tigers; and the L.A. Dodgers versus the St.Louis Cardinals. 

++My choice would be the Detroit Tigers against the L.A. Dodgers. 

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Gonzo GOP

++I can't tell anymore the difference between the Republican congresscritter and Bryan Ferry of the Religious Right Talk Shows. I simply could not tell you why they shut the government down and why they believe there would not be an economic collapse if they breached the debt ceiling. Today, they were even more confusing. The House has offered sort of a clean debt ceiling bill, but would keep the government closed down while the Administration and the Democrats would talk--about what? Paul Ryan earlier in the day suggested a clean debt ceiling and the House immediately negotiate a budget with the Senate, who has been waiting since March. This seems fine ,except how does the government open. The Senate Republicans tonight are urging a one-year clean debt ceiling and a CR, which would eliminate the tax of medical devices and verify the income of Obamacare recipients. But it is unclear whether the House would pass that.

++Today, House Republicans said they were giving up on defunding Obamacare, while Heritage and the Club of Growth urged a clean debt ceiling but keeping the government closed so as to negotiate over Obamacare. Eric Erickson of Red State threatened the Republicans with the creation of a third party because they failed to defund Obamacare.

++It does look like the bankers, the Koch Brothers and the Chamber of Commerce did bring the hammer down on the GOP over the debt ceiling.During the day, you could feel the tension go out of the Capitol and Wall Street rocketed back up over 15,000.

++I have written about President Obama using the 14th Amendment to raise the debt ceiling but it suddenly dawned on me that Congress would be violating the 14th Amendment by breaching the debt ceiling. Does anything happen to them?

++I have a tendency to be obsessed until I can make sense out of something. The  polls--the latest from the Wall Street Journal--show the GOP at 24% approval, while President Obama's rising to high 40s and Rasmussen to 50%. The GOP is 7 points lower than their lowest point, which was the day they impeached President Clinton. What gives?

++Personally, I think the GOP was out to destroy President Obama's Presidency but got so tangled up in their story that they  showed their "Tell". Basically, the GOP was committed at the time of Obama's swearing in to not only obstruct the Presidency but to fundamentally re-orient our democracy. The imperial presidency, which they created and sought to make the unitary executive as envisioned by Dick Cheney, is of no more use to them.

++Why was there such a lack of response to President Obama's request for armed force in Syria among a party that thrilled at war? It was not because the anti-war factions in each party triumphed, while that was partly true. Instead, the GOP has become isolationists. Notice how they don't even comment on the destruction of the Syrian chemical weapons. They floated the idea that this was some sort of Potemkin Ruse but reality shows differently. So move on. What is their response to the cutting of aid to Egypt? John McCain is the only one who has commented but the GOP just doesn't give a damn.

++Why? After Reince Preibus issued his paper on the need for GOP outreach,the party has gone in reverse direction. Even during the shutdown, there was talk about attaching more anti-abortion language and anti-contraception language in the CR. Despite a rally of thousands for immigration reform,there is no response from the House. And the continual attacks on President Obama are not meant to win the hearts and minds of the African American community. The "Cooch" went out of his way to reinstate the anti-sodomy laws in Virgina to no avail. Chris Christie appealed the court's decision to allow same-sex marriage in New Jersey. If anything, the whole Out Reach issue has gone into reverse.

++Today, the press revealed that the House changed their own rules on September 30 that prohibited any law from reaching the floor unless it was approved by the Speaker. That's why we had the shutdown. Also, the House today suggested that a clean bill on the debt ceiling would prohibit the Fed from using the powers of exigency to loan the Treasury money. The Center for American Progress actually hailed this as giving some certainty to the actual time of the debt ceiling. But it would erode an executive privilege, which would save a financial meltdown. 

++The net effect is that the Republican establishment has collapsed and it sees itself only as a congressional party and ,I believe, abandoned any serious ambitions to seize the White House. So the idea is to strip this President, especially, but all other Democratic presidents of the overwhelming power of the presidency. Basically,the Tea Party and the Business Community would dictate to the President the direction of the country.

++Many have called this neo-confedaratism and it is. The Art Popes and the Koch Brothers will continue to buy up states like North Carolina and Wisconsin and set the agenda for those states. The House Republicans from gerrymandering and voter suppression will retain their majority and hope they can take back the Senate. But even in the Senate,Mitch McConnell has set the tone of their behavior forcing 60 votes until a bill can reach the floor. This in essence blocks all Democratic initiatives. 

++They got into any Presidential election too far behind on the electoral votes. Changing how these votes are counted has been tried but in its most flagrant manner been dismissed by the courts. Even with voter suppression, they know women will remain about 61% of the vote and African-Americans and Hispanics will continue to rise.But any real outreach would jeopardize their congressional lock.

++The bizarre spectacle we have seen in the last week has been a full-blown civil war among Republicans with the potential that the rest of us would pay considerable collateral damage. When the dust settles, do not expect any moderation from Republicans or that they will stop this nonsense until Barack Obama leaves office.

++Finally, I guess  you should expect it. The Right is now going after Janet Yallin. Their campaign is against her because she is soft on inflation--something that hasn't been around for the last 6 years. 


++Congratulations to Alice Munro for winning the Nobel Prize for Literature. The Canadian writer, who said she was not writing anymore, is best known as a master of the short-story for which she won the prize.

++Fall is great reading season. The Producer of the Wire, mystery writer George Pelecanos brings us another Spero Lucas novel. If you want a writer about official Washington,D.C.,stylistically your man is Ward Just. If you want the writer of the real Washington,D.C., it is Pelecanos. In this novel,Lucas, an ex-Marine who served in Iraq and now a private investigator in Washington, takes the assignment to recover a painting by a not-so-well-known American woman artist titled the "Double", which had been stolen from a worker at a non-profit by her boyfriend. Lucas travels through the neigborhoods of Washington to areas off the Chesapeake Bay to procure the stolen painting and meets up with a gang who matches him in firepower and wits. Lucas is supported by his psychologically wounded band of brothers. As usual, Pelecanos captures the gritty reality of a Washington being gentrified. The Double was just released this past week by Little, Brown.

++Charlie Parker has been an elusive figure for biographers and jazz buffs. Clint Eastwood did the biopic a few years ago to mixed reviews. Now, Stanley Crouch appears with Kansas City Lightning:The Rise and Times of Charlie Parker (Harper Collins). Crouch dissects every influence on Parker and recreates the Jazz scene in the Midwest with copious references to every musician on the scene and the roots of Jazz. Crouch distills his 40 years of writing about Jazz in this masterpiece, apparently the first of two on Parker.

++Brave Genius: A scientist, A philosopher and their Daring Adventures from the French Resistance to the Nobel Prize by Sean Carroll, a professor of molecular biology and genetics at the University of Wisconsin. Most of us are aware of the relationship between Jean Paul Sartre and Albert Camus. But few of the bond between Camus and molecular biologist Jacques Monod. This is a superbly researched book, which provides new insights into both men and the actual day-to-day reality of the French Resistance. When Albert Camus won the Nobel Prize for Literature as the youngest person since Robert Louis Stevenson, he faced intense criticism in Paris but sought solace in the young Monod, who has been his companion in the Resistance. To the layperson the dashing Jacques Monod's life is little known while he too would go on to win the Nobel Prize for his work. Both men shared a type of humanistic conscience somewhat lacking in the world today. After Camus' tragic auto accident,Monod picks up the mantle and courageously smuggles activists out of Hungary during the Soviet takeover and later shows up in support of the students in the 1968 uprising in Paris. Near the end of his life,Monod would produce Chance and Necessity, which he thought was the philosophical sequel to the Myth of Sisyphus. A wonderful idea for a book, a great read and a nice picture of a France under Occupation and a Europe threatened by the Soviets.

++Jonathan Cott has done superb books of his interviews/conversations with people like Glenn Gould and Leonard Bernstein. His book on Leonard Bernstein is a must read and Bernstein lights up every page with his brilliance. Now Yale Press has published his complete Rolling Stone Interview with the late Susan Sontag. Susan Sontag ranges across the spectrum of issues from morality to aesthetics to photography and politics. The conversation doesn't hit the very highs of Bernstein but gives the reader a sense of the range of Susan Sontag's interests and preoccupations.

++So if you want more, the Library of America has just published Susan Sontag's extended essays Against Interpretation, Styles of Radical Will, On Photography,Illness as Metaphor and other uncollected essays on Bill Burroughs, Aging,The Third World of Women. And this book only takes us to 1978. I look forward to more.

++Yes,he's back! Dan Torrance who escaped oblivion at the conflagration at the Overlook Hotel is Doctor Sleep in Stephen King's sequel to The Shining.I'm half-way through and it is an engrossing read and is King at his peak. If you haven't seen The Shining or read the book, Doctor Sleep stands alone and you will not be confused but maybe a little on edge. Few critics ever remark how well King portrays lower working class Americans and captures people on the margins.A tribe of people travel across America called the True Knot while Dan Torrance battles alcoholism to keep his gift hidden and away. He encounters a young women named Abra Stone who has the Shining more intense than he and is now sought by the True Knot, who consume such people for their "steam" so they can continue to be immortal. Available where good books are sold.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The Most Powerful Woman in American History Will Be?

++Not Hillary Clinton and not Elizabeth Warren. Drumroll. Tomorrow, President Obama will nominate Janet Yellin as the Chairwoman of the Federal Reserve. Feathers in both their caps. Before the shutdown fight, Yellin had support from both sides of the aisle and would have been seen as shoe-in. Given the distemper of the GOP, it's unclear whether they will bring the nasty to the table. She had significant support among the GOP before the nomination on the strength that she was not Larry Summers. Since the United States is teetering on default, she will face perhaps the greatest challenge since Bernacke dealt with the global economic collapse. But, congratulations,she really deserved it. She has been a terrific member of the Fed and has expressed her concern about one of the pillars of that institution's mission--the creation of jobs. On the strength of her new position and the power it wields,she will be the most powerful woman in American history. 

++We left the Capital tonight with the House GOP still grousing and then voting to create a commission--now to negotiate raising the debt ceiling. Why don't they just establish a Central Committee and deliberate endlessly on ideology?

++The White House issued a call to the House to stop screwing around and pass an immigration act since the Senate passed one two months ago. Today, thousands gathered at the National Mall to rally for immigration reform. Unlike the tea baggers who charged the war monuments without reaction, six Democratic congressmen were arrested, including legendary civil rights leader John Lewis.

++Andrew Sullivan reflects my frustration tonight in his post expressing disgust with the diametrically opposed belief systems of the Democrats and the Republicans or better the clash between reality-base arguments and the fantasy world of the Republicans. He jokes that the GOP are acting as Saul Alinsky, while Obama is the true conservative. An unnecessary insult to Alinsky. But I share his sentiments about the level of the discussion or lack thereof in Washington.

++Boehner is quite cracked. In the morning, he cheers his caucus on saying they must put some points on the board after all this. By late afternoon, after President Obama put him down, he tells his team the Democrats are trying to annihilate us. 

++Just a reminder, there really are enough votes in Congress to pass a clean CR, and also enough votes to pass a clean debt ceiling.

++I've read at least two posts today that suggest President Obama will do something to direct the Treasury to issue treasury bonds to cover the government's debt, if Congress doesn't act. Josh Marshall's well-reasoned piece before President Obama's press conference argues why he won't. But Sean Wilentz's op-ed in the Times makes a compelling case why he should. We know that Prof. Tribe, Obama's former professor in constitutional law argues strongly against his actions but Dr. Posner at the University of Chicago is just as articulate why he must. Here, we are entering a zone where the Constitution is unclear. The pro-argument says that President Obama should declare an economic state of emergency since an artificial default would trigger a catastrophe or be similar to a nuclear explosion,according to Warren Buffett, and would require the President to step in to save the day. Right now, that seems to be the issue dwarfing the shutdown and the GOP is actually hardening their positions in a stance resembling a "coup".

The Press Response

++ I.I.I.Me.Mine.I. Me. Mine. I. Me. Mine. So our illustrious press, besides painting the President's rhetoric as fiery,is miffed. Now, remember Boehner took just two questions and fled the room in panic at the House. President Obama took more questions than I have ever seen him before. So the ink press got more than they bargained for and there were enough visuals for television. So what's the drill? President Obama never called on the TV reporters, only the print media and Huffington Post. So ABC didn't get the Dan Rather manque ,Jon Karl, demanding something unintelligible from the President or Chuck "Sweeney"Todd or Fox News' Mike Henry.

++In case, anyone has been asleep for the past two weeks, the President has been interviewed mano-a-mano by all networks. I guess he felt he had given them sufficient face time. But it is "Our Town". Forgive us, America.

The Tan Man Responds

++After President Obama gave a tour de force of a press conference ,which I thought was calm and deliberative, while in Washington it was thought to be combative and upped the stakes rhetorically, the Tan Man responded. So what gives? He disputed that he and Obama had a deal. He claimed Obama walked away and he didn't. Remember this is two years ago,in a galaxy far,far away. Then he said there would be negotiations. He only answered two questions and left. The House has since cobbled together and new proposal to create a bipartisan, bicameral commission to not only discuss the the CR, the debt ceiling, and other budget matters. And all of this could be done within a week before the debt ceiling, when the Senate hasn't agreed and none of the members have been selected. Thankfully, the White House threatened to veto this idea. The Democrats already have said the regular budget conference is enough to handle this.

++But, the Tan Man was overshadowed by Senator John McCain, who said the GOP oversold the prospects of defunding Obamacare (with a dig at Cruz) and said we should be embarrassed because congress' approval rating is now down to one's family and the paid staffers.

++When you have lost Jennifer Rubin, you know the Republicans are in trouble. In her late afternoon post column, she eviscerates the changing GOP strategies and arguments for the shutdown.

++The problem in this town is that no Republican ever,ever listens to a word the President says. In his remarks, he gave Boehner the face saving method of passing a CR. Give it Clean and then append what subjects you want to talk about. But not demands. Instead, we have Boehner rehashing 2011 and yakking about an unworkable commission,which would surpass all deadlines and not reach any agreements.

++Notice how Joe Biden is nowhere to be found. That's because Obama is in no mood to negotiate and Harry Reid was ripped last time about Obama going over his back. This afternoon as President Obama was finishing his press conference he convened the Senate with all members present, which is unusual, and read the riot act to the House Republicans. He is proceeding with a clean debt ceiling vote--hell or high water.

Obama's Presser

++President Obama es mas macho que John Boehner. The President has megatons more patience than I ever would as he spent over an hour explaining the importance of default and addressing Republicans who believe it isn't a big deal. And if it isn't a big deal than why do Republicans believe they can extract massive concessions from the Democrats.

++The problem with President Obama is he is too rational. He walked through the history of the budget battle, including John Boehner's dare the Senate pass a budget--which it did. Then, according to the President, the House refused 19 times to appoint members to meet with the Senate in conference. President Obama was even tougher than before about not negotiating. He called again for Boehner to just bring the bill to the floor and let every member get their vote recorded individually. He again called for a clean debt ceiling vote and talked about the history of those votes dating back to Reagan's day. 

++He explained why he might be tempted by the individual bills passed by the House and explained that these were only the result of the media showing a problem, which then embarrassed Republicans. And he said it wasn't a way to run a railroad.

++He disappointed me by explaining why he was not going to invoke the 14th Amendment despite its possible legality because it would essentially mean that the United States had defaulted because the litigation would take years and cast doubt on the Treasuries. He also dismissed the trillion dollar coin idea. He answered one question from a British reporter about paying bond-holders first by saying that Jack Lew would be giving a presentation to the Senate on Thursday addressing the details of different options Treasury has.  He also said that Democrats should not expect any further tricks in the Treasury bag because Jack Lew will have exhausted them by the date of the debt ceiling.

++As sort of a concession, he said the GOP can attached what subjects they want the President to address in budget negotiations if they did not believe him. But he was not going to make unilateral concessions just to have a CR. This sort of suggested a form Boehner might try.

++The President took more questions than I have seen him do so in previous press conferences. He ignored Jon Karl, who at the end stood shouting "Whether the President took any responsibility for the shutdown?" This was dutifully recorded by ABC but the President had already left the room and probably didn't hear him. 

++Overall, I thought the President did a great job and didn't cave. Earlier that morning he called John Boehner and told him basically the same thing. John Boehner told his Caucus that the Democrats were trying to destroy the Republicans and that they should hold tight. A few of those who said they favored a clean CR have backed down.

++In a new poll,72% of Americans believe that the shutdown is hurting the country and 50% believe it is "severely hurting the country". Only 12% believe it isn't.

++Weirdly, the Catholic Bishops Conference chose today to come out and ask the House not to end the shutdown until contraceptive coverage is banned under Obamacare. Shutdown the government and default on the debt because people use contraceptives.

++Meanwhile church groups, including Catholics,had 40 different rallies around the country demanding Congress pass an Immigration Law that had a path to citizenship.

++The Supreme Court looks like it will eliminate limits on individual campaign contributions. President Obama criticized this at his press conference,alerting the press that the reason we haven't had a budget agreement is that billionaires and millionaires have funded various special interest groups who threaten members or bankrolled their campaigns. 

++At this hour, things don't look good for a resolution on either a CR or a Debt Ceiling.