Friday, January 4, 2013

Last Call

Well now America, I think I've found your problem here.  It's called "Republicans in Congress".  Here's GOP Texas Sen. John Cornyn's op-ed today in the Houston Chronicle:

Over the next few months, we will reach deadlines related to the debt ceiling, the sequester and the continuing appropriations resolution that has funded federal operations since October. If history is any guide, President Obama won't see fit to engage congressional Republicans until the 11th hour. In fact, he has already signaled an unwillingness to negotiate over the debt ceiling. This is unacceptable. The president should immediately put forward a plan that addresses these deadlines, and he should launch serious, transparent budget negotiations.

The biggest fiscal problem in Washington is excessive spending, not insufficient taxation. Tax cuts didn't cause this problem, so tax increases won't solve it. If we don't reduce spending and reform our three biggest entitlement programs - Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security - then we will strangle economic growth, destroy jobs and reduce our standard of living. With the national debt above $16 trillion, and with more than $100 trillion in unfunded liabilities hanging over us, our toughest fiscal decisions cannot be postponed any longer.

Republicans are more determined than ever to implement the spending cuts and structural entitlement reforms that are needed to secure the long-term fiscal integrity of our country.

The coming deadlines will be the next flashpoints in our ongoing fight to bring fiscal sanity to Washington. It may be necessary to partially shut down the government in order to secure the long-term fiscal well being of our country, rather than plod along the path of Greece, Italy and Spain. President Obama needs to take note of this reality and put forward a plan to avoid it immediately.

Republicans in the Senate at least are signalling three things:  One, Republicans expect to get trillions in SS/Medicare/Medicaid cuts, period.  Two, they are willing to shut down the government and crash the economy to get these cuts.  Three, they want president Obama to provide the specific cuts, so the cuts become his fault.

Such expectations are ridiculous, and Cornyn should be drummed out of the Senate along with the rest of these idiot for trying to accomplish this nonsense.   But he's treated as a Serious Beltway Player for this notion.


The Kroog Versus The Grand Bargain

Paul Krugman reminds us that the notion of any sort of major compromise with the Republican party is impossible, because the only legacy they want to see is President Obama burn for "destroying" Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, and that the plan is for the GOP to then step in and "save" these programs.

According to the normal rules of politics, Republicans should have very little bargaining power at this point. With Democrats holding the White House and the Senate, the G.O.P. can’t pass legislation; and since the biggest progressive policy priority of recent years, health reform, is already law, Republicans wouldn’t seem to have many bargaining chips. 

But the G.O.P. retains the power to destroy, in particular by refusing to raise the debt limit — which could cause a financial crisis. And Republicans have made it clear that they plan to use their destructive power to extract major policy concessions. 

Now, the president has said that he won’t negotiate on that basis, and rightly so. Threatening to hurt tens of millions of innocent victims unless you get your way — which is what the G.O.P. strategy boils down to — shouldn’t be treated as a legitimate political tactic. 

But will Mr. Obama stick to his anti-blackmail position as the moment of truth approaches? He blinked during the 2011 debt limit confrontation. And the last few days of the fiscal cliff negotiations were also marked by a clear unwillingness on his part to let the deadline expire. Since the consequences of a missed deadline on the debt limit would potentially be much worse, this bodes ill for administration resolve in the clinch. 

So, as I said, in a tactical sense the fiscal cliff ended in a modest victory for the White House. But that victory could all too easily turn into defeat in just a few weeks. 

And it was Obama's "blinking" that set up this victory in the first place, of course, but Krugman won't say that.  We'll see where the debt fight goes, but with Republicans saying "We'll wreck the economy unless we get to wreck X and blame Obama for it" and President Obama replying with "the hell you will" I'm betting on the guy with the winning streak for the last 4 years.

Stunned In Steubenville

The big news in Ohio this morning is a pretty disturbing case involving two Steubenville, Ohio high school football players and a video with the two of them having a frankly awful discussion about sexually assaulting a 16-year-old girl.  WKYC in Cleveland:

The Jefferson County Sheriff's Department is being flooded with calls from concerned citizens about an alleged rape case back in August.

Two Steubenville football players are accused of raping an unconscious 16-year-old girl at a party.
Evidence is now coming forward, like this picture that was posted on social media, showing two students carrying the alleged victim.

And now, another video is leaked, showing a former Steubenville athlete, not charged in the crime, but talking about the incident as if it did happen.  He keeps referring to the unconscious victim as being dead.

The words from this former student are very disturbing.

The sheriff has seen the video and called it disgusting.

Police say they have interviewed the former student seen and heard on this latest videotape, but would not comment any further.

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine says the case is moving forward and the two students arrested on rape charges have a hearing in February.

This is a pretty terrible case, and the way these boys are talking about this young woman is just completely unacceptable.  I'm not sure what other evidence is there that may prove one way or another what happened, but this video alone is enough to remind us that American rape culture is very much alive and a real problem for all of us.


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