Open thread for night owls

Open Thread for Night Owls

Well, that was a debate of sorts.

Consider this another place to talk about your own debate thoughts.

Blast from the Past. At Daily Kos on this date in 2002Homeland security bill stalled:

House Republicans are threatening to stay in session in order to pressure Senate Democrats to compromise on the Homeland Security bill. Dems are insisting on union protection for the proposed agency’s employees, while the GOP hates unions.
However, if no bill ever passes, that would not be a bad thing. All the new agency does is shuffle a multitude of far-flung government agencies into a brand new bureaucracy. And, those agencies most tasked with “homeland security” issues — the FBI and intelligence agencies — are not even included.

The whole Homeland Security agency idea had its genesis in the post-9-11 hysteria, and was driven hard by Democrats eager to show their “security” bona fides. While balking at first, the White House caved in to deflect attention from the whole “Bush knew” frenzy. In both cases, support for the agency hasn’t been borne of actual security concerns, but political opportunism. This whole idea stinks.

Thus, if Congress can’t get its act in gear, so be it. The nation’s security won’t be compromised in any way. Conservatives should be happy as a brand new government bureaucracy is thwarted, while Democrats should be happy that yet another civil rights-trampling agency isn’t created.

Tweet of the Day:

Just for luck, Mitt baptizing Reagan one more time…
@HolyGOP via web

Today’s pre-debate Kagro in the Morning show features Greg Dworkin’s polling segment, calls from Tomtech on his low-cost, grassroots ad campaigns in Texas, and OllieGarkey on the dangers and nuances of mixing politics and religion. Then, we peeked in on the wingnuts frolicking in fantasy land, claiming “abortions” are frequently performed on women who aren’t even pregnant, and that already-circulated 2007 video of then-Senator Barack Obama saying non-controversial stuff is somehow, suddenly, the worstest thing ever.

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Open thread for night owls: U.S. conservatives who scorn Europe sure love its austerity

William K. Black, an associate professor of law and economics at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, writes, Robert J. Samuelson tries to create a moral panic about deficits:

The Washington Post leads the pack when it comes to generating what scientists term a “moral panic” about budget deficits. As part of that effort they generated the series of myths that Paul Ryan was “serious,” “courageous,” and “expert” about “solving” the “deficit crisis.” The newspaper’s theme is that anyone who doesn’t fall for their effort to create a moral panic is not “serious” and should be ignored. The paper runs a column by Robert J. Samuelson that is devoted to generating a moral panic about the deficit. Like Ryan, his central targets are imposing austerity and cutting Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.

William K. Black, economist at University of Missouri. An adherent of Modern Monetary Theory.

William K. Black

Samuelson’s latest column claims that President Obama and Governor Romney are lying to the nation because they have not sufficiently embraced the moral panic as the transcendent campaign issue that will determine America’s future. Samuelson demands the candidates implore the American people to urgently adopt austerity and attack Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.

We have known for over 75 years that the key to recovering from a recession is to follow a counter-cyclical fiscal policy that will reduce unemployment. We have long exhibited the wisdom to adopt automatic stabilizers that increase government services and decrease taxes when a recession strikes.

What would have happened if Obama had adopted austerity as Berlin imposed austerity on the European periphery? It would have prevented any recovery, throwing the U.S. into an even more severe recession. Berlin’s austerity demands have thrown the Eurozone back into a gratuitous recession, increasing the budget deficit in many nations and plunging Greece and Spain into depressions. Europe has followed Samuelson’s and Ryan’s policy advice and the results have been disastrous. Samuelson’s and Ryan’s austerity policies violate economic theory, economic history, and a natural experiment in Europe with austerity that has proved catastrophic. Samuelson, however, makes bizarre odes to Irish austerity, emphasizing the necessity of “persuading ordinary citizens to tolerate austerity (higher unemployment, lower social benefits, [and] heavier taxes) without resorting to paralyzing street protests or ineffectual parliamentary coalitions.” […]

Samuelson is most amazing, however, in explaining how the victims of austerity should react to a response to a recession that will make the recession worse. Samuelson’s world of insane economic policies requires the victims to be political masochists.  Samuelson demands that the victims of austerity suffer in silence without protesting austerity or using their democratic rights to form coalitions to reverse the insane economic policies. Samuelson is not afraid of “ineffectual parliamentary coalitions” — he is terrified of effectual coalitions that would end the economic insanity of responding to a recession with a pro-cyclical policy of austerity.

Blast from the Past. At Daily Kos on this date in 2003Big shocker: no WMDs in Iraq

Hold on to your seats:

The U.S-led team hunting for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq has not found any stockpiles of biological or chemical weapons, but will keep searching the country, CIA adviser David Kay said on Thursday.

Kay, heading the search for chemical and biological weapons as well as evidence of any effort to develop nuclear weapons, presented a classified interim report to U.S. lawmakers behind closed doors […]

But multiple sources have told the team that “Iraq did not have a large, ongoing, centrally controlled CW (chemical warfare) program after 1991,” Kay said. And information found so far suggests that Iraq’s large-scale capability to develop and produce and fill new chemical warfare weapons was “reduced — if not entirely destroyed.”

Kay concluded that “whatever we find will probably differ from pre-war intelligence. Empirical reality on the ground is, and has always been, different from intelligence judgments that must be made under serious constraints of time, distance and information.”

“Serious constraints of time”? The only time limit was self-imposed by a petulant Bush eager to get his war on. And those “intelligence judgments” were not made by professionals — the CIA or DIA, but by political hacks out of the Pentagon.

There’s no excuse for the lies and deceptions employed by the administration to justify their war.

Tweet of the Day:

A new chip? “Advisers Say Romney Will Show Empathy In Debate”…
@JoshuaHol via TweetDeck

A Kagro in the Morning hat trick today, with Greg Dworkin on polling & punditry, Meteor Blades on Romney’s hackneyed foreign policy attacks, and Armando on the PA voter ID case. And of course, we have a good laugh at Scott Brown’s deer-in-the-headlights-gets-booed-by-the-audience debate moment, as well! Help support Daily Kos Radio, for FREE!

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Open thread for night owls: Tough talk you won’t hear in the debates. Where’s climate change?

We’re already seeings lots of people making suggestions about what questions Barack Obama and Mitt Romney should be debating Wednesday night. Everybody has a list. Among them is Mattea Kramer is senior research analyst at National Priorities Project. She writes Tough Talk for America: A Guide to the Presidential Debates You Won’t Hear:

1. Immediate deficit reduction will wipe out any hope of economic recovery: These days, it’s fashionable for any candidate to talk about how quickly he’ll reduce the federal budget deficit, which will total around $1.2 trillion in fiscal year 2012. And you’re going to hear talk about the Simpson-Bowles deficit reduction plan and more like it on Wednesday. But the hard truth of the matter is that deep deficit reduction anytime soon will be a genuine disaster. […]

Mattea Kramer

2. Taxes are at their lowest point in more than half a century, preventing investment in and the maintenance of America’s most basic resources: Hard to believe? It’s nonetheless a fact. By now, it’s a tradition for candidates to compete on just how much further they’d lower taxes and whether they’ll lower them for everyone or just everyone but the richest of the rich. That’s a super debate to listen to, if you’re into fairy tales. It’s not as thrilling if you consider that Americans now enjoy the lightest tax burden in more than five decades, and it happens to come with a hefty price tag on an item labeled “the future.” […]

3. Neither the status quo nor a voucher system will protect Medicare (or any other kind of health care) in the long run: When it comes to Medicare, Mitt Romney has proposed a premium-support program that would allow seniors the option of buying private insurance. President Obama wants to keep Medicare more or less as it is for retirees. Meanwhile, the ceaseless rise in healthcare costs is eating up the wages of regular Americans and the federal budget. Health care now accounts for a staggering 24 percent of all federal spending, up from 7 percent less than forty years ago. Governor Romney’s plan would shift more of those costs onto retirees, according to David Cutler, a health economist at Harvard, while President Obama says the federal government will continue to pick up the tab. Neither of them addresses the underlying problem. […]

4. The U.S. military is outrageously expensive and yet poorly tailored to the actual threats to U.S. national security: Candidates from both parties pledge to protect the Pentagon from cuts, or even, in the case of the Romney team, to increase the already staggering military budget. But in a country desperate for infrastructure, education, and other funding, funneling endless resources to the Pentagon actually weakens “national security.” Defense spending is already mind-numbingly large: if all U.S. military and security spending were its own country, it would have the nineteenth largest economy in the world, ahead of Saudi Arabia, Taiwan and Switzerland. […]

5. The U.S. education system is what made this country prosperous in the twentieth century—but no longer: Perhaps no issue is more urgent than this, yet for all the talk of teachers unions and testing, real education programs, ideas that will matter, are nonexistent this election season. During the last century, the best education system in the world allowed this country to grow briskly and lift standards of living. Now, from kindergarten to college, public education is chronically underfunded. Scarcely 2 percent of the federal budget goes to education, and dwindling public investment means students pay higher tuitions and fall ever deeper into debt.

Kramer has produced a good list. But you may notice one tough-talk item that’s not there. Climate change. Which is that? Domestic policy? Foreign policy? Why is it that we don’t have a debate on planetary policy? Because most Americans, including many liberals, glaze over at the mere mention of climate change? Because the problems are supposedly unsolvable, so why discuss them when it can be pretended that they will go away if they are ignored?

Moderator Jim Lehrer has a big opportunity here. He could start off the questioning with the smaller issues and work his way up to climate change once Obama and Romney get warmed up. Or he could bring a bucket of ice cubes into the room and set them down on the table in front of him and not ask the question until they are all melted under the Kleig lights. Or he could start out with the hard stuff right off the bat.

Personally, I don’t care which. But. Ask. The. Damn. Question.

Blast from the Past. At Daily Kos on this date in 2003Time for people to drop out:

Okay. Time to winnow the Democratic Primary field.

Dean is good to go. He raised about $15 million for the quarter, and has solid poll numbers across the board.

Clark is good to go. He has the buzz, a great deal of momentum, several strong poll showings, and the power of the Clinton fundraising machine behind him. He’s in good shape.

Gephardt is good to go. Fundraising is not great, but he’s still holding his own in the Iowa, and will likely win the Feb. 2 primary in Missouri. And he’s got strong labor backing which should make him competitive elsewhere.

Edwards is good to go. He’s got cash (though fundraising appears to be tailing off), and is surging in South Carolina.

Kerry is on the bubble. He’s showing anemic poll numbers, but he still has the money and institutional backing to make a comeback. But he’s got to show — something. I don’t know what, but he’s falling behind.

Lieberman should drop out. He’s showing uniformly plummeting poll numbers. He claimed victory at the NY debate because he wasn’t booed. He doesn’t have a lot of cash. He’s become a sort of joke amongst the party faithful.

Graham should drop out. He seems like a good guy, and his 9-11 criticisms were important, even if they were ignored. But he has no money, no poll presence, no charisma, and no buzz.

Braun, Kucinich and Sharpton should stick around. They help pull the party to the left, which I think is a good thing. And if nothing else, they can make our more “centrist” candidates look even more moderate than might otherwise be the case.
So let’s see …. that’s only two of the seven “serious” candidates that are really out of the running and should drop down. That’s not really whittling the field down much. Which is perhaps a testament to the strength of our field this year.

Tweet of the Day:

Ross Perot is on C-SPAN to give Mitt preview of what his life will be like after November
@JC_Christian via web


Monday’s Kagro in the Morning features a double dose of polling roundups with Greg Dworkin & Steve Singiser. Mitt Romney fuels the fire again, saying President Obama “misunderstands” American values. Like stealing pension funds and telling supporters their hometown pride cookies look like crap! Perfect time to read Steven Pearlstein’s “I am a job creator: A manifesto for the entitled.” And don’t forget to sign up with Stitcher to help support Daily Kos Radio!

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