Wednesday, January 2, 2013

A passel of links

I saw this post before I went to bed on New Year's morning: "A Deal has been reached says CNN. Biden on way to brief Democratic Senators before announcement." It's at DKos, so I'm assuming that it's putting the deal in the best possible light, but I'm still not straight on what's in the Deal. As near as I can tell, Obama made sure to enshrine "the Bush Tax Cuts" for everyone who isn't in the top .07 percent, or something, even though "the Bush Tax Cuts" had already expired. Krugman has a bad feeling, but doesn't go into the details. I'm hoping Ryan Grimm and Sam Seder can clarify it all for me later on the first live episode this year of The Majority Report in a few minutes.

Panelists this week on Virtually Speaking Sundays were Stuart Zechman and Jay Ackroyd, discussing the fact that important policy negotiations were going on in the dead of night when everyone is out partying instead of in the light of day with everyone watching (as would happen in a democracy).
Back in the spring of 2011, our friend The Raven did a post about the then-recent Brad DeLong interview on Virtually Speaking with Jay Ackroyd. Apparently, DeLong saved that link for later use and referred to it recently, generating (to the sheer delight of The Raven) a post from Paul Krugman quoting from it. The gist is that people like Krugman thought they were having a debate on "freshwater" vs. "saltwater" economics with opposition that was operating in good faith - but (as people like me could have told them), that wasn't the case. It's worth listening to just to see how naive these geniuses of the "progressive" Democratic wonk council were even at that late date.
VSS producer Sherry Reson has posted individual clips of Culture of Truth's "Most Ridiculous Thing" from the Sunday talk shows that you can currently find on the front page here.

Charles Pierce: "Of course, while everyone in Washington, and the courtier press that serves them, were endlessly droning on and on about the Gentle Fiscal Incline, the Bill Of Rights closed out 2012 by having one of the worst weeks it's had in the two centuries of its existence. But the courtier press paid that little mind, possibly because selling out the Bill Of Rights was done on a "bipartisan" basis, and the denizens of the various Green Rooms would endorse cannibal murder if both parties agreed to subsidize it."

Dean Baker disputes the NYT CW that it's all the fault of the Tea Party faction: "Actually, the vast majority of Tea Party backers agree with the vast majority of Democrats in their opposition to cuts in Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. The main difference is that the Tea Party backers seem to believe that there is some other area of government spending, other than defense, that can be cut back to reduce or eliminate the budget deficit. Of course this is not true. However the nature of the gap between most Democrats and Tea Party backers is informational, not ideological."
Baker buries the lede when he headlines this as, "David Brooks Reports that the NYT Can't Find Conservative Columnists Who Know Arithmetic." It could just as easily be called, "David Brooks reports that he hates democracy."

"David Sirota: The White House Has Said to a Right Wing Lynch Mob They Will Accept Their Political Terrorism" - I'm amazed CNN even let Sirota on long enough to say this stuff, frankly. But notice how everyone accepts the idea that suspicion of Bush White House complicity in 9/11 is a more outrageous lie than, well, almost anything. It's indisputable that, whether by negligence or intent, the Bush administration did indeed let 9/11 happen by its deliberate refusal to take any positive action in light of repeated warnings of an imminent al Queda threat. Whether they were genuinely incompetent or saw an attack as serving their own purposes is certainly a more legitimate question than whether, say, we ought to cut Social Security benefits (we should not) - but you still can't talk about that.

Lauren Feeney interviews Geoffrey Nunberg on political buzzwords, the Word of the Year, the post-truth era, and semantic sleight-of-hand.

"California Newspaper Defies Trend to Shrink Costs: "New and expanded sections to cover business, automobiles and food. A nearly five-fold increase in community news pages and more investigative reporting. Even daily color comics. [...] It's too early to know whether he's right. Kushner said advertising revenues have grown, though he won't say how much. Average daily circulation rose 5.3 percent as of Sept. 30 from a year earlier to 285,088 on weekdays and 387,547 on Sundays, bucking an industry decline of 0.2 percent, according to the Alliance for Audited Media."

Interesting article by John Lanchester in London Review of Books, "Let's call it failure", on how austerity hasn't worked too well in Britain: "Saying ‘I told you so' is supposed to be near unbeatable fun, so it's disappointing to report that, in the case of the government's handling of the British economy, speaking for myself, no fun is being had. As George Osborne's autumn statement made clear, the scale and speed and completeness with which things are going wrong are numbing. The Tories went into the 2010 election with a manifesto commitment to reduce the structural deficit - the amount by which the government's spending in any given year exceeds its income, excluding temporary effects from the downturn. The first point in their economic policy read as follows: ‘We will safeguard Britain's credit rating with a credible plan to eliminate a large part of the structural deficit over a Parliament.' How? It's on the next page: ‘We will cut government spending to bring the deficit down and restore stability.'"

Sam Seder has been reposting podcasts of his best 2012 interviews while he's on holiday - listen again to the Chris Hayes interview on The Majority Report.

"Who gives a damn what the ratings agencies say?"

NYT: "F.B.I. Counterterrorism Agents Monitored Occupy Movement, Records Show"
Rebel Institute, "FBI Considers the 'Occupy Movement' as a 'Terrorist Threat'"
Naomi Wolf: "Revealed: how the FBI coordinated the crackdown on Occupy"

Via Skippy:
"Rasmussen: Alcohol Perceived More Dangerous Than Pot"
"Banks Look To Roll Back Nevada Law Preventing Foreclosure Fraud"
Jon Swift Memorial Roundup 2012

The Fed and Interest Rates - The Details

I dunno, Dave Barry's shtick doesn't really work for me in his year in review piece.

When Gloria Steinem and Samuel Delany clashed over Wonder Woman

Stamp collecting, Doctor Who edition

How to talk like a Dalek

Local color: Those who've done the IndiaTown tour with me may or may not recognize the Queen's Market, home of The One Pound Fish Man.

Who knew it was something I had in common with Sean Hannity? (Some of the rest are pretty cool, though.)


  1. Actually, I reminded Prof. Delong of my remarks in comments on a relevant quote. But Prof. Krugman did quote and link me.

  2. The commentators on the deal mostly say that it's not terrible in itself, but also that it sets up a spending cuts and debt ceiling fight a two months down the road. It does do some worthwhile things: extends unemployment insurance for the long-term unemployed and extends some middle-class tax cuts, the Medicare doc fix, and the farm price supports.

    It also split the Republicans internal coalition, with 85 House Republicans voting for the deal. If the Administration can maintain that split during crucial votes, the radical right faction of the Republicans will be losing for the next two years, but it does so at the cost make satisfying the less-radical, but still very conservative, faction of the Republicans.

    1. Not to pick a fight, but...

      Why is once again extending Medicare's price "control" by setting its medical fee formula at 1/3 higher than it should be by the original law a "worthwhile thing" (leaving aside the debacle of "farm price supports," i.e. the "milk cliff," and some obvious problems with the Bush-Obama tax deal and temporary reprieve for liberal Democrats' hostages --I mean "the long-term unemployed")?

      Also, can you help me understand why it would be a good thing if the Administration can dis-empower the "radical right faction" of the GOP by empowering the "still very conservative" Republicans with whom they can potentially enact Third Way compromise legislation, e.g. a Grand Bargain on entitlements, more tax "reform" and guest-indentured-servitude-worker-population immigration "reform?" Why on earth would liberal Democrats want the popular rightists in the Republican Party to lose for the next two years?

      Thanks in advance for your thoughts.

    2. Well, unlike Stuart, I appreciate your post, TR. It seems that every major piece of legislation contains provisions that suck. The cliff deal included tax goodies for NASCAR, for example.

      And unlike Stuart, I understand why it might be advantageous to split the Republican coalition. To a large extent, Republicans have become hostages to extremists within their own party. The extremists threaten to bring primary challenges against careerist Republicans whose only ideology is their own self-enhancement but feel they have to demonstrate they are "conservative" by espousing radical positions even if they don't hold them. Sending the Overton window leftward requires demonstrating that the extremists actually don't have much power. If they play games with the debt ceiling again, it's likely a lot of corporate people will decide that they aren't to be trusted.

      Stuart evidently believes that the only way out of the drift toward the right is to let the extremists within the Republican Party expose themselves as the radicals they are. Apparently he has not noticed that they have been doing this ever since 1980. What has happened is that they have made radicalism acceptable.

      If the GOP splits, as it should, an opening will be created for the left in the Democratic Party to start exerting its own power. There is no governing coalition of centrists in the House. The non-radical Republicans can muster 85 votes. The Democrats... well, the Blue Dogs were decimated in the last election, but I suppose that Third Way-type reps could supply an equal number. That's not enough to govern. The logical result, it seems to me, is that Democrats govern by buying off a few dozen Republican votes.

      But this only happens if the radicals in the GOP genuinely fall out with the careerists.

    3. The moderates and careerists in the GOP have been fleeing to the Democratic Party for some time, and in fact have been running it. Getting them back out is the real priority.

    4. I think this split is a good thing for the country, in that it may make it possible to make policy again without hostage-taking. But, if Obama succeed in establishing the Democrats as the party of the centrist coalition, it is bad thing for liberal Democrats. I do hope, and I think it will become possible, for the Progressive Caucus to split off, forming the nucleus of a new party, and move in on the Democrats from the left.

    5. Stuart evidently believes that the only way out of the drift toward the right is to let the extremists within the Republican Party expose themselves as the radicals they are.

      I think the point was that we need the extremists to throw a spanner in the works of New Dem/Old Republican legislation. Some day the Progressive Caucus might show some independence, but that day hasn't arrived yet.

    6. Thanks for your explanation, Raven.

  3. Duh, errata.

    "...reminded Prof. Delong of my remarks in comments on a relevant post."

    " the cost of satisfying the less-radical, but still very conservative, faction of the Republicans."

  4. California Newspaper Defies Trend to Shrink Costs

    though not necessarily labor costs.

    In 2010, he started an investors group, 2100 Trust LLC, to scout for newspapers, flirting with The Boston Globe and later with MaineToday Media Inc., publisher of The Portland Press Herald.

    Tom Bell, president of The Portland Newspaper Guild, said Kushner presented the union with 50 demands, including a longer work week and increases in employee health care contributions.

  5. Re the coordinated attacks on Occupy, yeah, some of us were saying that at the time.

    Oh and re the birthday: Have more!