September 17, 2013 at 8:38 am #96701
After making a statement about the situation at the Washington Navy Yard, President Obama marks the anniversary of the financial crisis and the efforts over the last five years to stabilize the economy and get it growing and creating jobs again. September 16, 2013.
As you go through your day, don’t forget JJP at TWiB.
Drop those links. Engage in debate. Give us trivia and gossip too.
And always, have a peaceful day.September 17, 2013 at 8:45 am #96702
Good Morning, EveryoneSeptember 17, 2013 at 8:57 am #96703
Public, politicians, pundits differ on ‘leadership’
By Steve Benen
Tue Sep 17, 2013 8:00 AM EDT.
By late Sunday, the disconnect was striking. Diplomatic progress on the crisis in Syria seemed so encouraging — the Obama administration had secured unexpected victories without firing a shot — but the airwaves were filled with disappointed pundits and politicians, and the commentary out of the Beltway was dour. Don’t believe your lying eyes, the political establishment said, President Obama’s failures are only masquerading as successes.
The latest Pew Research Center poll, however, suggests the punditocracy has not yet persuaded the American mainstream.
Though widespread skepticism remains on whether the diplomatic course will succeed, by a better than two-to-one margin, Americans support the president’s decision to delay military strikes and pursue the diplomatic alternative. For all the complaints out of the Beltway about “weakness” — the establishment seems to think “strength” and “launching dangerous missile strikes” are synonymous — 67% of Americans endorse the White House’s current policy.
Also note how broad the consensus is on the policy — a majority of self-identified Democrats, Independents, and Republicans all agree on the merits of Obama’s approach.
What’s more, note this rebuke of the conventional wisdom: “Overall, more Americans (49%) say that in handling the situation in Syria, Obama has shown leadership and a willingness to adapt to changing circumstances. Fewer (35%) say he’s shown weakness and inconsistency.”
It’s almost as if the American public refuses to believe what the Sunday shows and op-ed pages tell them to believe about military intervention in the Middle East.
This is obviously just one poll, of course, and other results will vary. In fact, a new ABC News/Washington Post poll was also released this morning, and the president fared far worse on questions of U.S. global leadership. That said, even here, a whopping 79% endorse the policy Obama is pursuing with regard to Syria.September 17, 2013 at 8:58 am #96704
Posted on September 16, 2013 at 5:25 pm by JM Ashby
Depending on who you ask, President Obama is either brilliant or “lucky” in regards to how the situation is Syria played out, but a new Pew poll shows that a plurality of Americans believe the president displayed leadership by not rushing into war.
Overall, more Americans (49%) say that in handling the situation in Syria, Obama has shown leadership and a willingness to adapt to changing circumstances. Fewer (35%) say he’s shown weakness and inconsistency. Far more Democrats (72%) than Republicans (26%) or independents (46%) say Obama has shown leadership in dealing with Syria.
For a frame of reference, the 35 percent who believe the president has shown weakness or inconsistency is also roughly the same number of people who believe George W. Bush was a great president. It’s also 2 percent lower than the number of people who believe global warming is a hoax.
If it wasn’t already clear, I believe the president’s threat of force was the right move in a situation where simply asking nicely wasn’t going to cut it. I also believe saying that the president was just “lucky” is offensive and ignorant and smacks of Beltway punditry.September 17, 2013 at 9:16 am #96705
Most Awful Farm Bill Ever Moving Forward
Posted on September 16, 2013 at 3:55 pm by JM Ashby
On Wednesday of this week House Republicans will vote on the misleadingly-named Nutrition Reform and Work Opportunity Act, which gives you the opportunity to be kicked off food stamps if you can’t find a job in three months.
From the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
The proposal incorporates all of the SNAP cuts and other nutrition provisions of the farm bill that House leaders sought unsuccessfully to pass in June, which would cut $20.5 billion from SNAP over ten years. It also adds new provisions designed to cut at least another $20 billion in benefits, primarily by eliminating states’ ability to secure waivers for high-unemployment areas from SNAP’s austere rule that limits benefits for jobless adults without children to just three months out of every three years.
The new House proposal is harsh. It would deny SNAP to at least 4 million to 6 million low-income people — including some of the nation’s most destitute adults — as well as to many low-income children, seniors, and families that work for low wages
Here’s more. And this part really ticks me off.
The House leadership proposal would allow states to cut off SNAP benefits to most adults who are receiving or applying for SNAP, including parents with children as young as 1 year old, if they are not working or participating in a work or training program for at least 20 hours a week. This provision, based on an amendment to the original House farm bill offered by Rep. Steve Southerland (R-FL), authorizes states to cut off an entire family’s food assistance benefits, including their children’s — and for an unlimited time — if the parents do not find a job or job training slot.
The provision gives states a strong financial incentive to take up this option. First, they could keep half of the federal savings from cutting people off SNAP and use the funds for any purpose, including tax cuts and special-interest subsidies or plugging holes in state budgets. Second, states that decline the option and maintain their current approach to SNAP work requirements and job training would face a significant fiscal penalty. States that do not elect the option would lose all federal matching funds for their SNAP employment and job training programs (which all states now operate).
The bill does not simply eliminate provisions that grant states the ability to cope with persistent high unemployment, it actively encourages them not to. It gives states financial incentives to NOT feed people, including adults with infant children.
I really don’t know how to describe this other than to say it’s a giant Fuck You to poor people. Because the money that’s currently being used to feed some of them would alternatively be used to fund tax breaks for the rich under the House Republican bill.September 17, 2013 at 9:24 am #96706
Posted on September 16, 2013 at 2:00 pm by JM Ashby
As you’re likely aware the state of Colorado has been battered by record-breaking floods that are now being called a 1 in 1,000 year event, and this event has exposed what has previously been described as an infrastructure deficit. That is the cost of disaster, repair, and loss of productivity being greater than the cost of reinvesting in our infrastructure. Infrastructure which is, to say the least, vulnerable and ill-equipped to cope with climate change.
Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper has announced that at least 30 bridges in the area have been disabled while as many as 150 miles of roads will need to be repaired. But according to a new report from the Associated Press, this doesn’t even begin to convey the severity of our infrastructure deficit.
An Associated Press analysis of 607,380 bridges in the most recent federal National Bridge Inventory showed that 65,605 were classified as “structurally deficient” and 20,808 as “fracture critical.” Of those, 7,795 were both — a combination of red flags that experts say indicate significant disrepair and similar risk of collapse.
A bridge is deemed fracture critical when it doesn’t have redundant protections and is at risk of collapse if a single, vital component fails. A bridge is structurally deficient when it is in need of rehabilitation or replacement because at least one major component of the span has advanced deterioration or other problems that lead inspectors to deem its condition poor or worse.
Many fracture critical bridges were erected in the 1950s to 1970s during construction of the interstate highway system because they were relatively cheap and easy to build. Now they have exceeded their designed life expectancy but are still carrying traffic — often more cars and trucks than they were originally expected to handle. The Interstate 5 bridge in Washington state that collapsed in May was fracture critical.
Losing 30 bridges and 150 miles of roadways sounds like the damage that you would usually associate with a major Hurricane, but what hit Colorado over the past week was a series of heavy rainstorms that could happen anywhere. And how can we be sure that what was previously a 100 or 1,000 year even won’t become a 10 year event because of climate change?September 17, 2013 at 9:25 am #96707
Obamacare isn’t popular, but GOP sabotage fares worse
By Steve Benen
Tue Sep 17, 2013 8:47 AM EDT
A few weeks ago, Jason Cherkis reported a fascinating anecdote from the Kentucky State Fair a few weeks ago, noting a “middle-aged man in a red golf shirt” who shuffled up to a small folding table to hear about state’s health benefit exchange established by the Affordable Care Act. The man was impressed with what he heard, telling one of the workers behind the table, “This beats Obamacare I hope.”
The man likes the Affordable Care Act. He just didn’t know it.
The story came to mind yesterday looking over the new Obamacare polls from NBC/Wall Street Journal and the Pew Research Center, both of which reinforced the larger trends — the health care reform law remains largely unpopular, even as implementation continues apace. The reason everyone should take the results with a grain of salt, though, has to do with the middle-aged man in a red golf shirt — most Americans still have no idea what Obamacare is.
The public does, however, know what sabotage is, and in this case, it’s far more unpopular than the law itself.
The Pew poll, for example, asked Americans whether they approve or disapprove of the Affordable Care Act. A 42% minority supports the law. But respondents opposed to Obamacare were pressed further and Pew found that only 23% of the public believes officials “should do what they can to make the law fail.”September 17, 2013 at 9:28 am #96708
Crusade against Texas clinics based on bogus claims
By Steve Benen
Tue Sep 17, 2013 9:18 AM EDT
Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) and his Republican allies in the state legislature launched an aggressive legislative campaign against reproductive rights over the summer, including measures intended to close the vast majority of clinics where reproductive services are provided.
Proponents of the policies said the measures were necessary in order to protect public safety. Becca Aaronson reports in the Texas Tribune this week that the arguments are plainly contradicted by the facts.
[A] Texas Tribune review of state inspection records for 36 abortion clinics from the year preceding the lawmakers’ vote turned up little evidence to suggest the facilities were putting patients in imminent danger. State auditors identified 19 regulatory violations that they said presented a risk to patient safety at six abortion clinics that are not ambulatory surgical centers in Texas. None was severe enough to warrant financial penalties, according to the Department of State Health Services, which deemed the facilities’ corrective action plans sufficient to protect patients.
And between 2008 and 2013, the Texas Medical Board, which regulates the state’s physicians, took action against just three doctors who performed abortions — all of them for administrative infractions that did not involve criminal practices or late-term abortions.
Republican officials swore up and down this was about “safety” concerns at health clinics. The evidence clearly suggests otherwise.
Amy Hagstrom Miller, chief executive officer of Whole Woman’s Health, which operates five abortion facilities in Texas, told Aaronson, “The point of this legislation was to make abortion inaccessible. It wasn’t about safety, because there is no safety problem around abortion in Texas.”September 17, 2013 at 9:57 am #96709
The Morning Plum: On Syria, Beltway elites blow it with paint-by-numbers punditry
By Greg Sargent, Published: September 17 at 9:14 am
There’s a lot to criticize about President Obama’s handling of Syria. He failed to make a strong case for military action and probably should never have entertained bombing without Congress’ support. That said, much Beltway elite criticism, which has focused largely on process and theatrics, is deeply misguided and disconnected from how Americans view the situation. A new Post/ABC News poll illustrates this clearly.
The poll finds an overwhelming 79 percent of Americans support the proposed deal for international control over Syria’s chemical weapons Obama has embraced. There’s continued public opposition to strikes, with only 30 percent in support. The public gives Obama’s overall handling of the situation low marks.
At the same time, the poll finds a leading elite criticism of Obama’s handling of the crisis — that his changing of mind along with shifting circumstances showed a vacillation that risks projecting wavering intent — isn’t shared by the public. Sixty percent say he “sticks with his principles,” roughly unchanged since January 2012. A plurality thinks the initial threat of missile strikes helped the situation by pressuring Syria to give up its chemical weapons — meaning Americans accept Obama’s argument about the impact of the threat (even if they oppose action) and don’t see his change of course as somehow diminishing it. A plurality also says Obama made a good case in his speech the other night — despite widespread pundit derision.
It’s true Obama’s “commander in chief” qualities have slipped. But even here they remain in solid majority territory. Fifty two percent say he’s a “good commander in chief of the military,” which is down a few points but only within the margin of error. Fifty four percent say he’s a strong leader — down from 61 percent in January, but the drop could reflect any number of things (such as the economy), and indeed, it’s now higher than it was at other points in Obama’s presidency. These variations just don’t mean much in the real world. They certainly don’t confirm elite pundit conclusions.September 17, 2013 at 9:58 am #96710
This time, it’s Boehner, not Obama, who needs to avoid a government shutdown
By Jonathan Bernstein, Published: September 16 at 5:35 pm
Barack Obama pledged again today that he “will not negotiate over the full faith and credit of the United States” — that is, over the debt limit. Remember that until Republicans took control of the House in 2011, the debt limit had never been used to force significant substantive changes — because, after all, both sides ultimately support raising the debt limit, so it’s a lousy negotiating chip. On the other hand, it’s long been accepted that the debt limit vote is one that Members of Congress don’t like to take, and so finding some symbolic fig leaf (or bundling it with other legislation) does have a long history.
However, Noam Scheiber makes the case, in a piece generating some chatter today, for why there will be a government shutdown this time. His basic take is that Obama has every incentive to hold the line even if it results in a shutdown, because he no longer has to worry about reelection and the hit to the economy a shutdown it would entail. Scheiber also says John Boehner might have an incentive to allow a shutdown — in order to jar conservative Republicans to their senses and force them to accept the reality of their own limited negotiating leverage.
But make no mistake, the incentives are still heavily for Boehner to cut a deal and avoid a shutdown at all costs.September 17, 2013 at 10:00 am #96711
How common are African-American mass shooters?
by theGrio | September 17, 2013 at 8:56 AM
The deadly shooting spree by a 34-year-old Texas man, Aaron Alexis, on Monday, shook Washington D.C. The African-American civilian contractor to the U.S. Navy killed 12 people before being shot to death by police. And while the focus of the investigation shifts to the question of “why,” how common are African-American mass shooters in the U.S
Of the approximately 62 mass shootings (in which four or more people were killed) in the U.S. since 1982, including 25 since 2006 (and seven in 2012 alone), according to figures compiled by Mother Jones, “more than half of the cases involved school or workplace shootings (12 and 20, respectively); the other 30 cases took place in locations including shopping malls, restaurants, and religious and government buildings. Forty four of the killers were white males. Only one of them was a woman.”
The percentage of black assailants who kill on a scale such as Monday’s Navy Yard shootings is about equal to the percentage of black Americans, says former FBI profiler Clint Van Zandt.
“African-American shooters tend to at least represent their statistical portion of the U.S. population and include past killers like like Omar S. Thornton, Maurice Clemmons, Charles Lee Thornton, William D. Baker, Arthur Wise, Clifton McCree, Nathan Dunlap, Colin Ferguson, and the DC Snipers, John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo,” Van Zandt told theGrio.September 17, 2013 at 10:00 am #96712
Under Obamacare, Millions Of Americans Will Pay Less Than $100 Per Month For Health Insurance
By Tara Culp-Ressler on September 17, 2013 at 8:58 am
About 6.4 million Americans will be able to purchase insurance for less than $100 each month on Obamacare’s new state-level marketplaces, according to a new report from the Department of Health and Human Services. That’s because those people will be eligible for federal subsidies that will reduce the price of purchasing a plan under the health reform law.
The Obama administration calculated the expected premiums for people buying “silver” plans, which are the second-cheapest option on the new insurance marketplaces. Even though not every marketplace has announced its premium rates yet, researchers were still able to estimate those payments based on the health law’s rule for determining subsidies.
Americans who make up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level — which works out to be $94,200 for a family of four — are eligible for subsidies that ensure they’ll only pay a certain percentage of their income for a health plan. Using census data on Americans’ income levels, researchers were able to extrapolate how many of them would be paying less than $100 for monthly premiums for silver plans.September 17, 2013 at 10:02 am #96713
At last: Maya Angelou to receive National Book Award
By Associated Press,
September 05, 2013
The book world is finally honoring Maya Angelou.
The poet and author of “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” will be this year’s recipient of the Literarian Award, an honorary National Book Award for contributions to the literary community, the National Book Foundation announced Thursday. It is the first major literary prize for the 85-year-old Angelou, who has been celebrated everywhere from the Grammy Awards to the White House. She has received three Grammys for best spoken word album, a National Medal of Arts and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the country’s highest civilian honor.
Speaking by telephone with The Associated Press on Thursday, Angelou said she couldn’t wait to be in the same room as “some very big names in the literary world” and that the Literarian prize made her feel that she was “picking in high cotton.”
“Dr. Angelou’s body of work transcends the words on the page,” the book foundation’s executive director, Harold Augenbraum, said in a statement. “She has been on the front lines of history and the fight for social justice and decade after decade remains a symbol of the redemptive power of literature in the contemporary world.”September 17, 2013 at 10:11 am #96714
Symbols vs. Substance
Tue Sep 17th, 2013 at 08:36:53 AM EST
I won’t bullshit you. I have stayed out of all the lobbying over who should be the next chairman of the Federal Reserve because I don’t know that much about fiscal policy and I don’t know much about the candidates. While I was willing to advise against the appointment of Larry Summers, that was based on my political judgment and on the fact that I don’t particularly like what I know about Mr. Summers’ personality. As to his record during the Clinton administration, I think it is a disastrous record, but I also think some people on the left have made opposition to Summers into a symbolic fight. If I believed that defeating Summers would be a great victory for stronger regulation of the markets, I might have been on board the campaign, but I think there is a great deal more to consider than that. The markets moved up sharply yesterday in response to Summers’ withdrawal because they think Yellin is more likely to keep the cheap money flowing to the bankers.
Another symbolic victory could be at hand if Summers is set aside in favor of a woman. While president of Harvard, Mr. Summers said that women may have less intrinsic aptitude for science and engineering.
Symbolic victories can be very overrated, but sometime they’re important. It’s just that I think people can be led astray when they invest too much in these battles. For one thing, you can mis- or over-interpret the ideological component of something if you totally dismiss the personal element. I think too many people thought the president was trying to send an ideological message when he chose Rahm Emanuel as his first chief of staff, when it was far more likely that he was chosen because of a combination of a close personal friendship between Emanuel, Obama, and Axelrod, and Emanuel’s immense influence over the House after having successfully run the campaign to retake control of it in 2006. Likewise, I have gotten the sense that Obama wanted Summers at the Fed because the two of them had forged a close personal bond during the height of the financial crisis, not because the president is ideologically inclined toward deregulation of the financial markets. He wanted Summers because Summers had earned his trust.September 17, 2013 at 10:44 am #96715
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