Tuesday Reads

Out of Town News, Harvard Square

Good Morning!!

Frankly, I’ll be very glad when this holiday season is over. It goes on way too long. This year I saw Christmas stuff at Halloween! At least I don’t get depressed at this time of year anymore, and I’m very happy for people who enjoy the celebration. I’ll probably have a nice time at Christmas dinner, but why do we need a two month build-up? Please forgive my grumbling…. I’ll get to the news, such as it is.

MSNBC’s First Read reports that Boehner and his merry men in the House “punted” on the payroll tax cut bill last night; supposedly they’ll vote on it today.

House Republican leaders emerged following a meeting with rank-and-file members to say that the House would take up their votes on Tuesday. Lawmakers had planned to vote around 6:30 p.m. ET on Monday evening, but the 6 p.m. meeting of GOP lawmakers lasted longer than expected, over two hours.

Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) said that the House Rules Committee, which sets the parameters for votes in the House, would meet tonight to set the stage for tomorrow’s series of votes. Those Tuesday votes would include a measure to reject the Senate’s two month extension, and instead instruct lawmakers to meet in a conference — the formal process of resolving differences with legislation in the Senate.

“Our members do not want to just punt and do a two-month, short-term fix where we have to come back and do this again,” House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) told reporters at the Capitol.

House Republicans prefer legislation to extend the expiring tax cut by a whole year, and produced legislation to that effect. But Democrats in the Senate rejected that proposal because of some of the cuts used to offset the cost of the bill, which also includes an extension of unemployment insurance.

Meanwhile, Jake Tapper is reporting that the two month extension passed by the Senate and backed by President Obama cannot be implemented in it’s current form.

Officials from the policy-neutral National Payroll Reporting Consortium, Inc. have expressed concern to members of Congress that the two-month payroll tax holiday passed by the Senate and supported by President Obama cannot be implemented properly.

Pete Isberg, president of the NPRC today wrote to the key leaders of the relevant committees of the House and Senate, telling them that “insufficient lead time” to implement the complicated change mandated by the legislation means the two-month payroll tax holiday “could create substantial problems, confusion and costs affecting a significant percentage of U.S. employers and employees.”

ABC News obtained a copy of the letter, which can be read HERE. Isberg agreed that it would be fair to characterize his letter as saying that the two-month payroll tax holiday cannot be implemented properly.

Why on earth can’t those morons on Capital Hill just extend the unemployment insurance for Pete’s sake? The Congressional Republicans make Scrooge look like a piker when it comes to mean-spiritedness. Aren’t most of them supposed to be “Christians?” Good grief!

Please, can’t someone force Boehner and Cantor to visit some homeless shelters and perhaps some parks and street corners in Washington D.C., where no doubt some of the 1.6 million homeless children in the U.S. reside? One out of every 45 kids in this country were homeless last year! And these evil bastards are trying to make this horrendous situation worse!

A huge winter storm was pounding the Southwest and the lower Great Plains States last night.

Interstates and highways were shut down Monday night as a large winter weather system brought heavy snow, fierce winds and ice to at least five states in the West and Midwest.

There were blizzard conditions in parts of western Kansas and southeast Colorado, with visibility of less than a quarter-mile, said Ariel Cohen, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma.

A blizzard warning was in effect for those areas along with northeastern New Mexico, the northwest Texas panhandle and the Oklahoma panhandle, he said. The severe weather was starting to affect Missouri late Monday, with a winter weather advisory in effect for the northwest corner of the state.

Roads were closed in Texas and New Mexico because of blizzard conditions. Wow, some of those people rarely see snow. If you live in the storm area, please stay inside and don’t drive!

The New York Times calls handling of Kim Jong Il’s death “an extensive intelligence failure.”

Kim Jong-il, the enigmatic North Korean leader, died on a train at 8:30 a.m. Saturday in his country. Forty-eight hours later, officials in South Korea still did not know anything about it — to say nothing of Washington, where the State Department acknowledged “press reporting” of Mr. Kim’s death well after North Korean state media had already announced it.

For South Korean and American intelligence services to have failed to pick up any clues to this momentous development — panicked phone calls between government officials, say, or soldiers massing around Mr. Kim’s train — attests to the secretive nature of North Korea, a country not only at odds with most of the world but also sealed off from it in a way that defies spies or satellites.

Asian and American intelligence services have failed before to pick up significant developments in North Korea. Pyongyang built a sprawling plant to enrich uranium that went undetected for about a year and a half until North Korean officials showed it off in late 2010 to an American nuclear scientist. The North also helped build a complete nuclear reactor in Syria without tipping off Western intelligence.

As the United States and its allies confront a perilous leadership transition in North Korea — a failed state with nuclear weapons — the closed nature of the country will greatly complicate their calculations. With little information about Mr. Kim’s son and successor, Kim Jong-un, and even less insight into the palace intrigue in Pyongyang, the North’s capital, much of their response will necessarily be guesswork.

Not good. Maybe the CIA and NSA should concentrate on actual intelligence gathering rather than bugging Americans phone calls and reading their e-mails and tweets and Facebook postings.

Did you notice that Jeb Bush had an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal yesterday? With Gingrich tanking and Ron Paul rising in Iowa, are the Republicans getting ready to push another Bush for president? Charlie Pierce of Esquire thinks it looks that way:

He was supposed to be the savvy one, the presidential one, not that dolt of a brother who ducked his National Guard duty, ran several businesses into the dust of west Texas, got drunk and challenged the Auld Fella to a fistfight, and kept driving his car into the bushes. But the dolt got Daddy’s money and Daddy’s lawyers behind him and got installed as president, where he did his utmost to lodge the family brand somewhere between those enjoyed by Corvair and leprosy. Meanwhile, the golden child got to be governor of Florida for a while longer.

And now, in the widening gyre, slouching toward Manchester to be born, our moment of… Jeb (!)

Make no mistake. You don’t write an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal at this point in the Republican primary process unless somebody, somewhere wants to make people think you’re an legitimate option. You certainly don’t write one as stuffed full of free-market banana-oil as this one unless somebody, somewhere wants to raise enough money to make the world think you’re a legitimate option. There was enough Jeb (!) buzz over the weekend that it’s becoming plain that some very important someone’s have looked over the current Republican field and decided that, by god, it’s just bad enough that there’s room in there to bring back the most discredited surname in American politics. The slogan writes itself:

“Jeb! This time, let’s try the smart one.”

I don’t know. I don’t think any of the Bushes are all that bright. They’re way too inbred. Maybe another Bush presidency is what the Mayans predicted as the world-ending event?

I’ll end with an upbeat story. Remember Jessica Lynch? She just graduated from college.

I don’t really like to talk about what it took to get here. I don’t want anyone to feel sorry for me, or to think I don’t know how fortunate I am. Everyone else in my vehicle in Iraq was killed. My best friend, Lori Piestewa, died as a prisoner of war. I’m still here.

I’m also incredibly proud of this moment. I always dreamed of becoming a teacher, ever since my own kindergarten teacher took me under her wing when I was frightened on the first day of school. We are still in touch today. That’s the kind of teacher I want to be.

In the eight years since my captivity, I’ve had 21 surgeries. I have metal parts in my spine, a rod in my right arm, and metal in my left femur and fibula. My right foot is held together by screws, plates, rods, and pins. I have no feeling in my left leg from the knee down, and I wear a brace every day. Sometimes I’ll get a flash of pain, or feel upset because I can’t run, and then I’ll remind myself: I’m alive. I’m here. Take some ibuprofen.

Go read the whole thing. It’s not very long, and it’s a nice, inspirational story.

Now what are you reading and blogging about today?


31 Comments on “Tuesday Reads”

  1. Pat Johnson says:

    As I was preparing my breakfast I had Morning Joe on in the other room and listened to Chris Christie interrupt, talk over, and mow down the others at the round table with his aggressiveness. No one had the chance to insert much because he essentially talked right through them.

    If this guy is considered “presidential material” I fail to see it. A bullying attitude that leaves no room for another point of view.

    “My way or the highway” is Christie’s claim to fame. Anyone disagreeing is chewed up and spit out.

    Not attractive.

    • bostonboomer says:

      I had the radio on Morning Joe this morning, and I thought I heard Mitt Romney on there. Was it Christie or were they both on?

  2. ralphb says:

    Charlie Pierce hit it out of the park again. Jeb (!), another Bush nightmare.

    • bostonboomer says:

      All of the options are soooooo depressing. Another Bush brother would be dreadful. Mitt Romney as President would be horrible. Ron Paul would be unimaginable. Gingrich would be indescribable. Obama would be less horrible, but still a nightmare. Something has to give.

  3. Minkoff Minx says:

    I thought this was funny:

    Will Ron Paul kill the caucuses? – Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns – POLITICO.com

    What especially worries Iowa Republican regulars is the possibility that Paul could win here on January 3rd with the help of Democrats and independents who change their registration to support the libertarian-leaning Texas congressman but then don’t support the GOP nominee next November.
    “I don’t think any candidate perverting the process in that fashion helps [the caucuses] in any way,” said Iowa House Speaker Kraig Paulsen, adding that he didn’t know if that’s necessarily how Paul would win.

    A GOP candidate perverting the election process? As if all those damn debates, Palin, Trump et al, and the candidates themselves haven’t done this already.

    • dakinikat says:

      Caucuses need to go. I wish we the states all had national primaries whose dates were associated with regions and rotated each election cycle. I also wish it was held all within about 6 months so this wouldn’t drag on so. We really need this kind of reform but unfortunately, states have control over things and it’s their party cronies that set stuff up. Could never figure out how so much election variation–like the Texas Two Step–could be constitutional. Most of the southern states seem to have election processes designed to stop people from voting.

      • ralphb says:

        Either stop people from voting or keep the votes from counting for much, like the Texas Two Step. They’re abominations and anti-democratic.

      • ralphb says:

        Of course, WA was worse. They had a primary which didn’t count at all, followed by a small caucus for all the marbles.

      • northwestrain says:

        Caucuses the most un-Democratic way of voting ever invented.

        At least last time the GOP counted some of the Primary Vote — the dems ignored the vote and went with their phony Caucus numbers.

        This year the WA GOP is following the example of the dems and only using the caucus — which means that the “winner” from either party will again be chosen by the party leadership.

        Hitting my head against the wall. The legacy parties are so corrupt — and they get worse by a factor of 100 every year.

  4. foxyladi14 says:

    why do we need a two month build-up? for Christmas.?
    to help the economy spend spend spend 😆

  5. Minkoff Minx says:

    Okay, yes I know it is going to breibart US to release women action plan: Obama official

    But you need to see the comment section…

    They are going on about this: Clinton says U.S. to help women broker peace | Reuters

    And the things they say…wow.

    ·
    +207
    AnnieP186p 16 hours ago
    As a woman, I can’t even tell you how insulting it is that this man and his administration think I need government help BECAUSE I’m a woman. Like I can’t pull it together on my own? All I need if for you to get out of my way.
    Report
    Reply
    1 reply · active 15 hours ago
    +8
    bendandpeel53p · 16 hours ago
    The action plan created by Obama aims to strengthen US government measures to protect women and children from harm, exploitation, discrimination and violence, including sexual violence and human trafficking…and win him the women’s vote in ’12.
    Report
    Reply
    2 replies · active 3 hours ago
    +133
    msbabaloo59p · 16 hours ago
    Obama is desperate. I want to throw up everytime I hear him, or see him…that includedes his wife.
    Report
    Reply
    +121
    agreatsign94p · 16 hours ago
    I think it can be said with 100% certainty that the democrat agenda has done anything but protect women and children.
    Feminism, welfare, Obamacare, it’s all a poison pill created specifically to make women more dependent on the democrat party.
    Report

    That last one is beyond belief!

    • HT says:

      Ugh, “Feminism, Welfare” makes women more dependent? That last comment shows a definite inability to read history, much less comprehend it. An entitled person’s response to be sure. As my mom used to say, ignorance is no excuse for ignorance.

  6. HT says:

    BB – I’m sick of Christmas too and I haven’t even started thawing the turkey (my turn this year). I was in the grocery store yesterday to pick up a few more items, and as every day I’ve gone since the beginning of November was blasted by Xmas muzak throughout my brief shopping foray. As I was bagging my groceries I mumbled something about how sick I was hearing this constantly and both the man next to me and the cashier chimed in that they were too. Overkill and to be honest, it doesn’t make me want to buy more – quite the opposite. Retailers will not get a buzz from me anymore. Does O’Reilly and his ilk still think there’s a war on Xmas? Quite the contrary, it’s a war on consumers.

    • bostonboomer says:

      I’m trying to stay out of stores until next week, but it may not be possible. I’d rather just stay in the house until the whole thing is over, but that is not to be.

      • dakinikat says:

        having to watch tv at all is unpleasant too … being bombarded with ads and really bad christmas shows is awful enough … wish they’d stick with a few classics and stop the all day christmas carol marathons

      • Branjor says:

        As if shorter days, less sunshine and winter cold weren’t bad enough, they have to add even more torture to the “season”.

        😦

      • HT says:

        Dak, what, you don’t want to watch the millionth showing of Rudolph or Frosty, or terrible movies? What is wrong with you? How can Xmas live without watching that crap? Disclaimer, I don’t have cable and I refused to buy a digital tv when the industry changed from analogue, so I do not have a TV and believe me, I do not miss it. Back when my children were young, every year we would watch Alistair Sims Scrooge and the Muppet Show Xmas special. That was it. Oops, sometimes we would watch Edmund Gwen’s Miracle on 34th Street. Today, you can’t get away from Xmas all day, every day with crap televised hourly. War on Xmas, my foot.

    • Beata says:

      TCM is showing some good non-Christmasy movies this week.

      On Wednesday night, it’s “Ball of Fire” with Barbara Stanwyck ( love that movie! ) and “Born Yesterday” with Judy Holliday.

      On Thursday night, it’s an entire evening devoted to “The Thin Man” series with Myrna Loy and William Powell.

      Classy old Hollywood stuff.

  7. HT says:

    Just to add to my previous comment, for the last few years, I’ve gifted money. My children can spend the money how they please, rather than how I think they might like something. This year I changed tactics – my son got a refurbishment of his piano, and my daughter a complete set of hand made dishes contracted through a wonderful artisan in Florida – and they are beautiful. She’ll have them for the rest of her life if she takes care of them.

  8. dakinikat says:

    from CNN breaking news:

    President Barack Obama’s approval rating jumped 5 percentage points from November to December, fueled by dramatic gains among middle-class Americans, according to a CNN/ORC International poll released Tuesday.

    Obama’s approval rating rose from 44% last month to 49% now, and the results suggest the debate over extending the payroll tax cuts in Congress is helping Obama’s efforts to portray himself as defender of the middle class. The poll was conducted from Friday through Sunday, while the Senate was passing the measure with bipartisan support and House Speaker John Boehner was giving it a dim outlook in his chamber.

    Obama’s gains appear to have come at the expense of congressional Republicans and the GOP in general — the party’s overall rating has dropped 6 points, to 43%, since June while Democrats’ rating has stayed at 55%.

    And a majority now say they have more confidence in Obama than in Republicans in Congress — last spring, only 44% felt that way.

    Democrats do particularly well among middle-income Americans, while the Republicans win support only from the top end of the income scale.

    • ralphb says:

      Well, that’s actually as it should be for a change. Wonder if more people are starting to pay attention now.

    • ralphb says:

      FWIW

      Obama’s job-approval rating is highest since summer, Post-ABC poll finds

      Obama’s job-approval rating is now at its highest since March, excluding a temporary bump after the killing of Osama bin Laden: Forty-nine percent approve, and 47 percent disapprove.

      Perhaps more important to the battle over the payroll tax cut, Obama has regained an advantage over Republicans in Congress when it comes to “protecting the middle class.” In the new poll, 50 percent say they trust Obama on this issue, compared with 35 percent who choose the GOP — a major change from last month, when the two sides were more evenly matched on the question.

      • dakinikat says:

        There’s this one too from CNN breaking news:

        President Barack Obama now holds a lead over potential Republican presidential rivals in a CNN/ORC International Poll released Tuesday.

        If the election were held today, Obama would have a 52%-45% advantage over former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Texas Rep. Ron Paul. The incumbent would have a double-digit lead over former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann and Texas Gov. Rick Perry, the poll suggests.

    • bostonboomer says:

      It’s pretty sad when 49% approval is cause for celebration though.

      • ralphb says:

        Sad but, considering the record, I think 49% is pretty amazing. Good thing he hasn’t got a decent opponent, for him anyway.

  9. Branjor says:

    Stories like this make me rethink my view of the death penalty.