SDB Evening News Reads for 090111: The Youngs of Tifton…War, what is it good for and Catfood Commission Part 2 and a quarter?

Good late afternoon!

Today is the first day of September, and there is a feeling in the air…Can you feel it? A tingle of dumbassery with a hint of feeble ineptitude and just a splash of pettiness.  Alright, let’s get on with it.

Obama versus Boehner on jobs speech date: Who’s the adult? – CSMonitor.com

Is anybody being an adult here?

Yes, Mr. Obama accepted a date change with little comment. But he – or his scheduler – is the one who set the whole tiff-haha off in the first place.

Yes, Speaker John Boehner asked the president to pick another day, rather than saying flatly that the House was going to be washing its hair on Sept. 7. But his move was still unprecedented – no speaker has turned down such a request, ever, the Senate Historical Office told The New York Times.

Well, we have this to say about that.

First, we don’t think most voters will find this as depressing as pundits did. That’s because the fight was over before they even knew about it – not everybody gets Politico’s Twitter feed, after all. Plus, they already think Washington is full of kindergartners wearing ties.

Second, the White House messed up, big time. If they were trying to stomp on the GOP debate, it was petty. If they weren’t, it was incompetent. Somebody should have checked (maybe via Politico’s Twitter feed!) and seen if that date was already taken.

You can read the second page if you like, in the words of Ignatius J. Reilly…ho hum.

The Super Cat Food Commission Part 2 and a quarter, the smell of Friskes… is getting prepared to have that meeting of the minds.  Super Committee Gets Ready for Its First Hearing – Dan Friedman & Billy House – Politics – The Atlantic

The six Democratic members of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction met by conference call Wednesday to discuss political strategy and administrative plans, aides said.

The Democrats discussed logistics, including meeting schedules and a timeline for their work, said one aide. They also continued talks on their strategy “for working with Republicans to come together around a balanced and bipartisan plan,” said the aide.

The conference call follows a meeting on Tuesday among the six committee Republicans. The 12-member super committee was created as part of a deal to raise the federal debt ceiling. The law requires the panel to meet by Sept. 16 and recommend by Thanksgiving cuts worth $1.5 trillion over 10 years. If its recommendations are not adopted, spending cuts worth $1.2 trillion over 10 years would be automatically imposed. Half of those would target defense spending, while entitlements would be mostly exempted.

I thought the next two links seem to play off one another so pointedly.  The first is an image of one soldier in silhouette.  We’re Still at War: Photo of the Day for September 1, 2011 | Mother Jones

US Army Sgt. 1st Class Robert Russell uses his weapon’s scope to secure an area during a bridge inspection in Zabul province, Afghanistan, Aug. 22, 2011. Russell is a platoon sergeant assigned to the Provincial Reconstruction Team Zabul’s security force. US Air Force photo by by Senior Airman Grovert Fuentes-Contreras.

Which brings us to the next link, the first Month Passes With No U.S. Soldier Killed in Iraq – NYTimes.com

 Under increased pressure from the United States, an Iraqi crackdown on Iranian-backed Shiite militias has helped produce a previously elusive goal: For the first time since the American invasion of Iraq, an entire month has passed without a single United States service member dying.

The milestone is particularly remarkable because it comes after 14 troops were killed in June, making it the most deadly month for the Americans in three years, and it has occurred amid a frightening campaign of suicide bombings and assassinations from Sunni insurgents that killed hundreds of Iraqis, resurrecting the specter of the worst days of sectarian fighting.

“If you had thought about a month without a death back during the surge in 2007, it would have been pretty hard to imagine because we were losing soldiers every day, dozens a week,” said Col. Douglas Crissman, who is in charge of American forces in four provinces of southern Iraq and oversaw a battalion in Anbar Province during the troop increase. “I think this shows how far the Iraqi security forces have come.”

How many years have we been at these wars?

Another quickie:  Mike Luckovich: Moammar and Dick – Truthdig

And lastly, when we see the Super Committee getting ready to screw the poor, working and middle classes…take a moment to reflect on the image below from one of my favorite sites, Shorpy.  The Youngs: 1909 | Shorpy Historic Photo Archive

The Youngs: 1909

January 22, 1909. Tifton, Georgia. “Family working in the Tifton Cotton Mill. Mrs. A.J. Young works in mill and at home. Nell (oldest girl) alternates in mill with mother. Mammy (next girl) runs 2 sides. Mary (next) runs 1½ sides. Elic (oldest boy) works regularly. Eddie (next girl) helps in mill, sticks on bobbins. Four smallest children not working yet. The mother said she earns $4.50 a week and all the children earn $4.50 a week. Husband died and left her with 11 children. Two of them went off and got married. The family left the farm two years ago to work in the mill.” Photo and caption by Lewis Wickes Hine.

That is it for me today.  Since it is Thursday, my son and daughter are playing and cheering for the Panther’s.  So I am writing this on the fly, please be sure to post lots of links in the comments.


Senate’s Turn at Bat: Debt Bill Vote Passes, President Speaks Live Blog

Well, here we go…I really can’t help but think that this deal is going to put the US into another phase…like we experienced after the Civil War.  This debt deal is going to change who we are and how we function.  It is going to change the way the people are represented in government.

The Senate votes Tuesday on a compromise plan to raise the debt ceiling.

Senate Debt Ceiling Watch Party — Part VI, The End | Firedoglake

Live on CSPAN2 now

The Senate vote will be held at 12:15 today.

12:15 – McConnell:  ”The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a sign that the U.S. Government can’t pay its own bills. It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our Government’s reckless fiscal policies. … Increasing America’s debt weakens us domestically and internationally. Leadership means that ‘the buck stops here. Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better.” Sorry, that wasn’t McConnell, it was “hostage taker” Barack Obama when he voted against the debt ceiling increase in 2006.  My bad.12:04 – McConnell:  This bill does not contain one dime for job-killing tax hikes.  No, it kills them directly.

As we said from the start, there was never really anything that anyone could do to stop this from happening. But we can point to the efforts we’ve all made over the course of the past two and a half years and say we were there, we knew what was going on, we documented it, we did what we could, and we did not avert our eyes:

*Update*

Well C-Span is saying that the Senate has passed the Debt Ceiling Bill…bill goes to President now.

Debt bill passes Senate, headed to Obama – politics – Capitol Hill – msnbc.com

Obama to speak…you can watch his comments live at that link above.


SDB Evening News Reads for 080111: Call your Congress Critters

Congress is live on C-Span debating the Debt Bill right now:

For live coverage of House Debate click here:

House and Senate Take Up Compromise Debt Plan | C-SPAN

For live coverage of Senate Debate click here:

House and Senate Take Up Compromise Debt Plan | C-SPAN

Contact your Congress Critters and tell them not to vote for a Super Congress!

For a PDF Document of all Congress DC Phone Numbers: Congress Phone Numbers by State-District

Contacting the Congress: A Citizen’s Congressional Directory

 
Click on your state name below:
[
Alabama], [Alaska], [American Samoa], [Arizona], [Arkansas], [California], [Colorado], [Connecticut], [Delaware], [District of Columbia], [Florida], [Georgia], [Guam], [Hawaii], [Idaho], [Illinois], [Indiana], [Iowa], [Kansas], [Kentucky], [Louisiana], [Maine], [Maryland], [Massachusetts], [Michigan], [Minnesota], [Mississippi], [Missouri], [Montana], [Nebraska], [Nevada], [New Hampshire], [New Jersey], [New Mexico], [New York], [North Carolina], [North Dakota], [Northern Mariana Islands], [Ohio], [Oklahoma], [Oregon], [Pennsylvania], [Puerto Rico], [Rhode Island], [South Carolina], [South Dakota], [Tennessee], [Texas], [Utah], [Vermont], [Virginia], [Virgin Islands], [Washington], [West Virginia], [Wisconsin], [Wyoming]

Contact Elected Officials: USA.gov

Contact information for state and federal elected officials.

Congress.org – Congressional Directory

Browse Directory Alphabetically
A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z
Congressional Leadership
Senate
Harry Reid Majority Leader
Harry Reid (D-NV)
Mitch McConnell Minority Leader
Mitch McConnell (R-KY)
House
John A. Boehner Speaker
John A. Boehner (R-OH-8th)
Eric Cantor Majority Leader
Eric Cantor (R-VA-7th)
Nancy Pelosi Minority Leader
Nancy Pelosi (D-CA-8th)

Contact Offices

Full Leadership List
Key Congressional Offices
Capitol Hill Phone Numbers

The USA.gov site has this webpage set up for the Congress Critter’s Twitters:  Votizen

I don’t know what to make of this votizen.com site…it does not have all the Congress Twitter account info…maybe it is because my Congressmen don’t use twitter.  One thing is certain about this site, a lot of people are using it. There are links to letters people have sent to their reps, and in my case my Congressmen are PLUB GOP Critters, so the letters all have that Tea Party feel to them.  That is why I am a bit leery about this site.  If anyone uses it, and has experience with it let me know.

There is also this site:

Welcome to Tweetcongress

There is a petition up at Change.org: Human Rights Petition: Tell Congress and the President to Reject the Dangerous, Undemocratic “Super Congress” NOW | Change.org

 We must respect the integrity of the Constitution in order to preserve Americans’ unalienable rights. There is currently a plan, promoted by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker John Boehner, to create a “Super Congress.” Per the President’s last press conference (as of 7/31), it appears to be happening. This “Super Congress” consists of 12 members, six from each chamber and six from each body.  It has the power to propose legislation which could not be amended by the general members of Congress, who would be only be able to cast an “up or down” vote on the measures.

The “Super Congress” is not Constitutional, lacks accountability and possess extraordinary power to strip citizens of our liberty.   Please reject the scheme (disband the “Super Congress” if it currently exists), and preserve the government our Founders envisioned.

Over on TN Guerilla Woman, there is a post that has lots of good links to recent news articles covering the Super Congress:  Tennessee Guerilla Women: The Deal Stinks – Must Read Links

Then there is FireDogLake.  Over at FDL you can find pages dedicated to the Super Congress.

Here are the links to pages with updates on how Congress is voting.  Just take a look and see what your critter is doing:

Whip the Super Congress: Head Count #1 | FDL Action

Whip the Super Congress: Head Count #2 | FDL Action

Whip the Super Congress: Head Count #3 | FDL Action

Update II: At the end of the 15 minute procedural vote, Republicans are 144 Yea-0 Nay, Democrats are 4 Yea-82 Nay. Gregg Sargent indicated Democratic leadership weren’t whipping, so it appears that they are forcing the Republicans to pass this. Democratic Yeas are hanging back until the Republicans put this over the top.  Total: 157 yea, 82 Nay.  Not enough to pass it. They will have to keep the vote open past the 15 minutes.

action.firedoglake.com | Call Congress to Protect the Social Safety Net

There is a sample script on this page for you to use as an example of what to say to your representatives:

Script:

Hello, my name is ________ and I am a constituent of Representative ________.

I am calling to say that I oppose the creation of a “Super Congress” in the deficit bill.  The constitution makes no mention of such a body, and I understand this is how members of Congress hope to insulate themselves from taking unpopular votes to cut Social Security and Medicare benefits.

On behalf of the millions of senior citizens and future generations of Americans who will face serious setbacks if these cuts are enacted, I want you to know that I consider a vote for this bill a vote to cut Social Security and Medicare benefits.

Please let Representative ________ know that I will not be supporting them in the next election if he/she votes for this Super Congress to cut Social Security and Medicare benefits.

Thank you for your time.

However, I fully believe you will be able to tell these critters what you want on your own…

There is a blog going on at FDL:

House Debt Ceiling Watch Party: One Whole Hour of Debate | Firedoglake

Live on CSPAN now – House debate on deficit bill.

As the Democratic party circles the drain and the House votes to impose draconian austerity measures and create a Super Congress to cut Social Security and Medicare, we are going to be allowed one whole hour of debate in the House.  No amendments.

Final vote is expected around 7pm ET.

Let us know what kind of response you got.  We want to get our readers fired up about stopping this Super Congress.


Today’s Deadline Passes With No Progress: Now What?

Late last night I wrote a post summarizing what happened yesterday in seemingly endless debt ceiling kabuki dance that is being staged for our benefit by people who are supposed to be serving us but instead answer to Wall Street, Big Oil, Big Pharma, and the rest of the filthy rich.

Last night John Boehner told House Republicans that they needed to show some progress today in order to calm the Asian markets. After weeks of assuming the politicians in Washington would work something out in order to keep the US from defaulting on its debts, the banksters were suddenly realizing there is a good chance the feckless “leaders” will just go ahead and let it happen.

Apparently both Democrats and Republicans see this debt ceiling debacle as a golden opportunity to strip Americans of what is left of their social safety net. The only disagreement seems to be that Democrats want to include a pretense of raising some revenue along with all the cuts to social programs and Republicans want no new revenue sources, apparently because they see an opportunity to bring Grover Norquist’s dream to fruition:

Norquist favors dramatically reducing the size of the government. He has been noted for his widely quoted quip: “I don’t want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub.”

He has also stated, “Cutting the government in half in one generation is both an ambitious and reasonable goal. If we work hard we will accomplish this and more by 2025. Then the conservative movement can set a new goal. I have a recommendation: To cut government in half again by 2050”. The Americans for Tax Reform mission statement is “The government’s power to control one’s life derives from its power to tax. We believe that power should be minimized.”

So what was accomplished in today’s kabuki performance? Did the Republicans meet Boehner’s goal of sending a calming signal to Asian markets before their Monday opening. No, of course not.

From The New York Times: Deadline Passes as Debt Ceiling Talks Languish

House Speaker John A. Boehner and the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, were preparing separate backup plans to raise the nation’s debt ceiling on Sunday, after the leaders were unable to end an increasingly grim standoff over the federal budget.

The dueling plans emerged as lawmakers appeared to miss a self-imposed deadline of 4 p.m. Eastern time to cut a deal before markets open in Asia. And at about 6 p.m., President Obama began meeting with Mr. Reid and the House Democratic leader, Nancy Pelosi, in the Oval Office to discuss the Reid proposal.

Not surprisingly, nothing new seems to have emerged from the talks at the White House. But here’s Harry Reid’s supposed “plan.”

Mr. Reid, the Senate’s top Democrat, was trying Sunday to cobble together a plan to raise the government’s debt limit by $2.4 trillion through the 2012 election, with spending cuts of about $2.5 trillion. He would seek to avoid cuts to entitlement programs, but it was unclear how those savings would be achieved.

Notably, the plan does not currently contain any new or increased taxes, an approach that many in his caucus would probably balk at.

For his part, John Boehner is still blabbing on about the Republicans ridiculous “cut, cap, and balance” plan.

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) told his colleagues in a Sunday afternoon conference call that a debt deal with Obama is not the way forward. He said on the call that a plan that “reflects the principles” of the conservative “Cut, Cap and Balance” proposal that the Senate rejected will serve as the model for any legislation coming out of the House. The speaker, though, did acknowledge that the plan itself is a non-starter.

“So the question becomes – if it’s not the Cut, Cap and Balance Act itself – what can we pass that will protect our country from what the president is trying to orchestrate,” Boehner said, according to a source familiar with the call.

Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), according to several sources on the call, implored his colleagues to “stick together” to enact a budget deal that they can support. Boehner said an agreement “will require some of you to make sacrifices.” He told his colleagues that they shouldn’t worry about winning the battles, but rather the war, according to a source on the call.

I found this piece at Huffpo helpful, although I’ve never heard of the author, Mohamed el-Erian. CEO and co-CIO, Pacific Investment Management Company. Perhaps Daknikat has? Here’s what he had to say after the supposed deadline passed without any progress.

Friday’s stunning and very public quarrel between the president and the Speaker of the House of Representatives was the catalyst for a weekend of frantic negotiations on how to increase America’s debt ceiling, maintain the country’s sacred AAA rating, and avoid a near-term default. Meanwhile, administration officials and members of Congress took to the airwaves on Sunday trying, but largely failing, to strike the balance between statesmanship and another round of the Washington blame game.

It was hoped that all this would serve as a prelude to a political compromise announced just before the opening of Asian markets. This did not materialize. But while another self-imposed deadline has been missed, it is likely that the nation’s leadership will stumble into a short-term compromise over the next few days — one that raises the debt ceiling and avoids a debt default but, importantly, leaves the AAA rating extremely vulnerable and does little to lift the damaging clouds hanging over the US economy.

It will come down to the wire; and when the stopgap compromise is reached, many in Washington will declare victory and, in the process, claim credit for averting a national disaster. Yet the resolution will likely be temporary, and the damage will be real and long-lasting — both of which render an already worrisome situation even more difficult going forward. Indeed, by illustrating so vividly to the whole world what is ailing America, the weekend’s political theatrics should make us all worry even more about the world’s largest economy.

It’s an interesting article. Obviously our “leaders” have already done immense damage to our struggling economy, not just with their wrongheaded policies, but also with their childish game-playing.

Boehner’s plan right now seems to be to insist on a short-term temporary increase in the debt limit of about $1 trillion

accompanied by spending cuts of at least as much, tying the remainder of the debt-ceiling increase Obama has requested to further cuts in the future. The White House says Obama would veto such a measure.

The markets responded quickly:

U.S. stock futures fell, indicating the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index will slump after rallying within 1.4 percent of a three-year high, as failure to raise the federal debt limit intensified concern of a default.

The contract on the S&P 500 Index expiring in September declined 1.2 percent to 1,325.50 at 7:01 a.m. in Tokyo. The U.S. dollar fell against the euro, yen and Swiss franc.

[….]

The dollar weakened to $1.4390 per euro as of 6:01 a.m. in Tokyo from $1.4360 in New York at the end of last week. The greenback fell to 78.35 yen, and touched a four-month low of 78.12 yen, from 78.54 on July 22. It fetched 81.17 Swiss centimes from 81.92 last week after reaching a record low 80.33 on July 18. The yen traded at 112.75 per euro from 112.77.

I don’t pretend to understand all that gibberish, but I know it isn’t good.

The Wall Street Journal says the markets are “bracing for volatility as debt ceiling debate drags on.”

What really scares me is what is going on behind all the “partisan” kabuki. Let’s face it, Democrats are no more our friends than Republicans at this point. We simply can’t trust any of them. I wrote a few days ago about the Catfood Commission II clause that is included in the so-called McConnell plan–the fallback plan that Harry Reid is on board with. Apparently Boehner has also latched onto this idea, and the sequel to the Catfood Commission will also be included in whatever legislation the Republicans come up with.

Ryan Grim has a piece in Huffpo today about Catfood Commission II, which he characterizes as a “Super Congress.”

Debt ceiling negotiators think they’ve hit on a solution to address the debt ceiling impasse and the public’s unwillingness to let go of benefits such as Medicare and Social Security that have been earned over a lifetime of work: Create a new Congress.

This “Super Congress,” composed of members of both chambers and both parties, isn’t mentioned anywhere in the Constitution, but would be granted extraordinary new powers. Under a plan put forth by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and his counterpart Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), legislation to lift the debt ceiling would be accompanied by the creation of a 12-member panel made up of 12 lawmakers — six from each chamber and six from each party.

Legislation approved by the Super Congress — which some on Capitol Hill are calling the “super committee” — would then be fast-tracked through both chambers, where it couldn’t be amended by simple, regular lawmakers, who’d have the ability only to cast an up or down vote. With the weight of both leaderships behind it, a product originated by the Super Congress would have a strong chance of moving through the little Congress and quickly becoming law. A Super Congress would be less accountable than the system that exists today, and would find it easier to strip the public of popular benefits. Negotiators are currently considering cutting the mortgage deduction and tax credits for retirement savings, for instance, extremely popular policies that would be difficult to slice up using the traditional legislative process.

So basically, no matter what legislation Congress ends up passing to raise the debt ceiling, this “Super Congress” will be included. We certainly can’t expect any disagreement on this from Obama who, as Grim describes it “has shown himself to be a fan of the commission approach to cutting social programs and entitlements.”

We are so utterly f&cked.