Monday: Planes, Trains and the Obama-McConnell deal

Yesterday, I went to NYC to see the Rockettes at Radio City for the first time.  They’re every bit as good as you would expect.  The show is glitzy and, as Brooke would say, “kinda cheezy”.  But if you are looking for a pick-me-up during the Christmas season, you can’t beat the Rockettes. In fact, the Rockettes put on their first extravaganza in 1932 during the Great Depression.  It must have done the trick because they’ve been doing it ever since, with a brief hiatus during the 70’s.

The part that sucks is of low quality is actually getting into and out of Manhattan from the Joisy side.  I’ve written about this before.  Three years later, the process is even worse than before, if that can be believed.  Last night, when I took the Northeast Corridor train from Penn Station to Newark where my car was parked, the same, stupid, dehumanizing procedure happened again.  We arrived at the pink granited NJ Transit waiting area, a step up from the fluorescently lit but still dark and dingy laboratory mazes of underground Penn Station (NJ residents don’t get beautiful masterpieces like Grand Central.  Nooooo, they tore down the original Penn Station in the 60’s and parked Madison Square Garden on top of it.)  The NE Corr. train comes only once an hour, which is itself insane.  NJ is the densest state in the union and we get on measly train once an hour out of NYC?  Ok, so the waiting area is already almost out of seats at 20 past the hour.  The tickets are about 30% higher than the last time I bought them a couple months ago.  (Thanks, Gov. Christie!).  Over the next 20 minutes, the waiting area is packed full of tired, cranky, sweaty commuters.  Then the departure board assigns a track number and this heaving mass of humanity sprints for two narrow staircases.  There’s a lot of pushing and shoving and glancing at watches to see if you’ll have time to get a decent seat on the train.  Then there’s the Olympic Run-Walk down the platform to the front of the train because half the doors on the back end and closest part of the train to the stairs are closed.  We walk and walk for what seems to be forever while Brooke hobbles on her four inch heels (“I told you not to wear those shoes.”).  The train is the older style with one level.  The seats are about as comfortable as first class economy on Continental.  10 minutes later, it lurches out of Manhattan and lumbers v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y back to Newark.  And why do we park the car at Newark when there is a closer train station to house in the town over?  Because it costs $22 round trip *per person* to get in and out of Manhattan 36 miles away from my house and the nearest train station.  And that’s with a transfer at Newark.  It makes more sense to park the car in Newark and pay for parking there than spend $44 to take the train.  Normally, we take the PATH train into Manhattan from Newark, but in the evening, the PATH reroutes to Hoboken from Manhattan before it doubles back to Newark.

Every time I do this routine, I ask myself, is this any way to run a railroad???  I’m a big believer in mass transit.  My grandfather was a bus driver in Pittsburgh.  I’ve done the Paris metro (which is a dream) and the London Underground, which is also pretty good.  So, I can’t understand why our major cities are so bad at this.  Neither NYC or Chicago has a train system that we could call world class.  Our trains are old and slow, infrequent and expensive.  This is inexcusable, especially when we have abandoned commuter rail tracks all over the state of NJ that no one is using anymore.  I spend hours and hours waiting for trains, changing trains and paying a fortune to get into Manhattan.  Next time, I’m driving.

Ok, I’m done.  Moving on.

Krugman has labelled the new stimulus package, er, tax plan, the “Obama-McConnell” plan.  Seems fitting, seeing how the Republicans pretty much wrote the terms and Obama, crippled by his stupid 11 dimensional chess moves with the first irresponsibly inadequate stimulus package has been forced to make this bad deal.  (Howz that media darling working out for you BTD?)  Paul sums it up in Block those Metaphors:

The point is that while the deal will cost a lot — adding more to federal debt than the original Obama stimulus — it’s likely to get very little bang for the buck. Tax cuts for the wealthy will barely be spent at all; even middle-class tax cuts won’t add much to spending. And the business tax break will, I believe, do hardly anything to spur investment given the excess capacity businesses already have.

The actual stimulus in the plan comes from the other measures, mainly unemployment benefits and the payroll tax break. And these measures (a) won’t make more than a modest dent in unemployment and (b) will fade out quickly, with the good stuff going away at the end of 2011.

The question, then, is whether a year of modestly better performance is worth $850 billion in additional debt, plus a significantly raised probability that those tax cuts for the rich will become permanent. And I say no.

The Obama team obviously disagrees. As I understand it, the administration believes that all it needs is a little more time and money, that any day now the economic engine will catch and we’ll be on the road back to prosperity. I hope it’s right, but I don’t think it is.

What I expect, instead, is that we’ll be having this same conversation all over again in 2012, with unemployment still high and the economy suffering as the good parts of the current deal go away. The White House may think it has struck a good bargain, but I believe it’s in for a rude shock.

Unemployment is personal to me.  I’ve seen what the current job market has done to the morale of people I care about.  But I find it shocking that so many people in conservative red areas of the next state over are so heartless and cruel to their fellow unemployed Americans.  My own relatives huff and puff mightily and fume, “Why don’t they take a job, ANY job?”  The answer is: Because there ARE no jobs.  In my area, Pfizer laid off 19,000 people.  That was just one of many ongoing and terrifying pharmaceutical company layoffs.  Even if you wanted to sell your house and move to another job, there just aren’t any.  So, paying the unemployed to hang on for another year with barely a penny to their names while they struggle to pay their housing costs is not going to cut it.  The money isn’t going to go back into the economy.  It’s going to whoever holds the mortgage.  And that bank will sit on it or lend it out at a higher interest rate.  Seriously, Paul, who benefits from this bill?

What we need are jobs, not more checks.  And we need real wage increases.  And this bill does nothing to help us.  It’s a bill written by Republicans for the benefit of the wealthy.  If I had my way with them, I’d redirect their private jets to the Cayman Islands and not let them off.  That way, they could spend all eternity with their obscene wads of cash and stop bothering the rest of us.  Yep, right smack dab on Hurricane Alley… with no way off the islands…

Anglachel has a new post up about Wikileaks. Check it out.  While I was catching up on podcasts last night, I heard someone say that State Department computers are configured to disallow copying to USB keys and other external drives.  So, whoever it was at the Pentagon who casually stumbled onto 250000 cables did it deliberately.  It might have been Private Manning.  But if the State Department secures its secrets among its own employees, you gotta figure that only some super sysadmin has privileges to access these files on some remote server.  That’s the way most pharmas work.  If you don’t have a need to know, you don’t have access, even if you’re on the same project.  So, who is really behind the leaked cables and what are they up to?  Anglachel provides some possibilities:

Let’s look ahead at the unwinding of events. While the left has been captivated by the human drama of the great man, deprived of flunkies to fuck and threatened by the diabolical Swedish court system, obsessed about how it could be me next!, there’s something rather important coming up in January, namely a change of government in the US. While I know that I lose all my Left Blogistan credibility by saying this, there really is a difference between the behavior of the major political parties when in majority power. The Republicans have no interest in compromising on anything and regard all other sources of political power (however ineptly wielded) as not just the opposition, but as an enemy to be terminated.

They’ve already made clear that the next two years are not going to be used to advance specific pieces of legislation – indeed, why should they since Obama has kindly moved their agenda for them – but to take down the enemy, and I don’t think anyone on the Left really understands just how ruthless they will be. Their control of committee chair positions means that the agenda from January 2011 through December 2012 will be investigate everything that could possibly be turned to their advantage.

It’s key that these documents were released under a Democratic administration. The focus will not be on who released the files, but that there were releases at all, just as the focus on Plame was not that someone outed her, but that she was connected to Joe Wilson. The actual crime, which is the act of taking documents and handing them over, will be elided – unless there is someone at the State Department who has shown a bit too much knowledge of and interest in some specific piece of data and who happens to be of liberal political inclinations, and then we’re talking a show trial along the lines of the House Un-American Activities Committee. That is why the State Department is saying to its current and would-be staff – do not have contact with that now-tainted information, do not discuss it, do not show special knowledge.

(By the way, I don’t think I ever personally said that the Republicans will try to impeach Obama.  They may not have to go that far.  But continually bombard him with hearings and inquisitions, the legal equivalent of harrassment, and waste his time?  Yeah, I think they would do that.  He’s not immune and he looks incredibly vulnerable.  It’s just like the Republicans to go for the old, the sick and the weak first.)

The NYTimes has discovered that the world really is run by a small, evil group to which no one we know belongs.  In A Secretive Banking Elite Rules Trading in Derivatives, we are told:

On the third Wednesday of every month, the nine members of an elite Wall Street society gather in Midtown Manhattan.

[...]

In theory, this group exists to safeguard the integrity of the multitrillion-dollar market. In practice, it also defends the dominance of the big banks.

The banks in this group, which is affiliated with a new derivatives clearinghouse, have fought to block other banks from entering the market, and they are also trying to thwart efforts to make full information on prices and fees freely available.

Banks’ influence over this market, and over clearinghouses like the one this select group advises, has costly implications for businesses large and small, like Dan Singer’s home heating-oil company in Westchester County, north of New York City.

This fall, many of Mr. Singer’s customers purchased fixed-rate plans to lock in winter heating oil at around $3 a gallon. While that price was above the prevailing $2.80 a gallon then, the contracts will protect homeowners if bitterly cold weather pushes the price higher.

But Mr. Singer wonders if his company, Robison Oil, should be getting a better deal. He uses derivatives like swaps and options to create his fixed plans. But he has no idea how much lower his prices — and his customers’ prices — could be, he says, because banks don’t disclose fees associated with the derivatives.

“At the end of the day, I don’t know if I got a fair price, or what they’re charging me,” Mr. Singer said.

What we got here is a cartel.  Too bad we don’t have any reliable referees, let alone hard and fast rules, to protect Americans from small groups gaming the system.  You can thank Obama and the Republicans for that.

Which brings me to my final point, and I think I do have one.

I’m getting fed up with reading stupid crap from African American journalists threatening to take the African American community with them if Obama doesn’t get a second term.  If I were one of the millions of African Americans out of work and hurting during the Obama years, with no end in sight in his second term but more tearing apart of the social safety net, I’d be really offended by these people speaking for me.  How insulting to think that someone would pass up a better candidate just because they have an insufficient amount of melanin in their skin.  That’s what the likes of Colbert and Read are saying.  That the single most important thing to African Americans when making a political decision is not whether the politician is going to help them get a job or put food on their plates but whether he has right skin color.  It’s also insulting to women, who make up a far greater percentage of the Democratic base than African Americans and whose votes could be much more critical to the Democrats political prosperity in 2012.  Next time there is an election year, Democrats won’t be able to pull that Roe shit because no woman in her right mind will believe them.  And in the end, who cares?  The Rpeublicans don’t want Roe rescinded.  They get their voters to the polls with it.

But it is the cynical “pols will be pols” people I get most irritated with.  In the end, it didn’t really matter whether the politician in the White House was a New Democrat or an Old Democrat.  What mattered was that the Democrat was a leader, which Obama most definitely is not.  In this day and age, in this particular economic crisis, what was and still is required, was a person who would not let propaganda and and the machinations of the ruthless, predatory Movement Conservative Republicans and their noise machine stand in the way of doing what was right.  That person didn’t have to have a secret 11 dimensional chess strategy.  That person had to want to do the right thing for America and the vast number of people that are not rich and well connected.  That person saw what was coming and would have done anything to stop it, including exhausting their own personal wealth to win the nomination.  That person was and is a dedicated public servant who like Lincoln and FDR, would have put aside their own personal aspirations to do the right thing for the country.

That person is NOT Obama.  And now everyone knows it.  Now that we know, only the truly insane and disconnected will want to foist him on us for a second term.

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67 Responses

  1. We have a really small public transportation system here, with crappy service. Anyway we finally hired a woman and you wouldn’t believe the changes she’s made. The first thing she did was spend a week riding the bus and talking to passengers. DUH! I can’t believe nobody ever thought of that before! She’s changed the routes and schedules to accommodate people’s needs. It’s so simple and so darn brilliant. Public transportation should be about serving…..the public. She’s also cut costs at the same time. What can I say, women are half the human race and they have amazing talents. We shouldn’t be so reluctant to access all that talent, because we deprive ourselves of some remarkable things.

  2. About that banking cartel, I am seeing more and more conservatives in the rank and file who are getting it. And they are pissed as hell that the R party does not.

    Look, these people are not leftists – they are adamantly against redistributive policy in a big way by the govt. But they GET that our current system IS already redistributive, except UPWARD. They are frustrated that the GOP drones on about free markets while doing the bidding of the banksters to game the market entirely in their favor.

    I was reading some comments over at market-ticker, many of whom are conservative and libertarian types, and they GET it. They were applauding Bernie, despite their disagreement with him on many things. They get that crony capitalism, govt protection from failure for the Big Players, is NOT a free market – it is the looting of our country by a privileged few, with the assistance and protection of our govt.

    If anyone emerges next election cycle, from the left or right, who will run telling the TRUTH about the rape and looting of our financial system and vowing to restore the rule of law and fairness, they could garner huge support from a lot of disparate “sides”. I saw stone-cold libertarians saying they’d vote for Bernie if they lived in VT. I saw staunch conservatives talk about “the separation of business and state”. That’s how angry people are at this kabuki.

    • The R party gets it. Heck, if the cartels didn’t exist, they would have had to invent them. That’s what they’re all about.
      Now, if you are saying that Republican *voters* get it, well, it’s about time.

    • Yup. Anyone demonstrably not a crook could get a lot of votes from both sides and the middle.

      • That’s what I was getting at. The GOP establishment may be all for cronyism, but the rank and file are not. If someone speaks honestly to how we are all being screwed over, they could garner a lot of support from left right and middle.

        And BTW, this has nothing to do with tax brackets for those over 250,000. Income tax brackets at whatever level do not TOUCH the uber-rich and power-brokers, because they do not work for wages. It’s about bringing back Glass-steagal or something similar, and making the banker boyz eat their own failures. It’s about structuring the financial system to avoid fraud with us as patsies. It’s about no more backstopping of their high-finance games with tax dollars. It’s about perp walks for the looters who repeatedly lie and falsify books and run Ponzi schemes with no accountability.

        Run on that platform and watch everyone from socialists to uber-free-marketers to libertarians cheer. THE PEOPLE get that they are being screwed 6 ways from Sunday.

        • The winning non-partisan platform for 2012 is public financing, audits, and perp walks.
          (not holding my breath though)

          • Any politician bold enough to run on that platform will need to stay out of small airplanes, and watch out for “lone nuts”.

  3. “By the way, I don’t think I ever personally said that the Republicans will try to impeach Obama.” Why would they bother he is their greatest ass..et.

  4. So, paying the unemployed to hang on for another year with barely a penny to their names while they struggle to pay their housing costs is not going to cut it. The money isn’t going to go back into the economy. It’s going to whoever holds the mortgage. And that bank will sit on it or lend it out at a higher interest rate. Seriously, Paul, who benefits from this bill?

    Who benefits? The people who can continue to buy groceries, pay utilities and keep a roof over their heads, even if it leaves them with barely a penny to their names. Seriously.

    • its sooo easy for some VERY self righteous folks to sit back and armchair quarterback the economy is’nt it?
      Makes me ill to see someone write such trash and have other endorse it or go along.

      Who benefits?
      The guy or the woman that looks at a cup-of-soup as the only meal that day. The person that has been able to pay the rent but has to go to the nearly empty food bank for that cup of soup meal.
      Such ignorance and cold heartedness disturbs me. It makes me glad that I’m old and won;t have to watch people gravitate to a new low while their neighbors silently starve.
      Until people can EARN they way again, minimal assistance should be assured by this government instead of the untold wasteful spending that takes place.

      Politicians waste more than they spend on us, everyday.

    • Hey, you’re picking on the wrong person. Its a given that the unemployed get benefits. My point is that housing costs dominate all other expenditures.
      If we want to kick start the economy, unemployment checks are not going to cut it.

    • I believe RD was making a point about jobs. Without jobs there is no revenue, without revenue there is no government services. The bailouts and stimulus from the Treasury and Fed should have been better distributed. That part was unconscionable and despicable. But the Krugman part of the post was about the tax package. We know the UI extension is in place for another 13 months, though it won’t help those who have been out of work for more than 2 years. But will the rest of the package create jobs as effectively as direct investments in large scale government projects. RD doesn’t think so, and I agree. Now if we want to have a debate about whether job creation that drives tax revenue that pays for government services is not the right economic model for the American economy, that’s a separate debate from what is being discussed here.

      • Sorry RD. Didn’t mean to step on you.

      • Larry Summers came out to day for more stimulus! But that was in support of the Obama Republican tax cut plan with its weak tea stimulus as rationalization.

        Now, Larry? Now you think stimulus is necessary to create freakin’ DEMAND?
        Sheesh.

  5. Just you wait until Bloomberg will increase all those prices, adding a fee for fire fighting too! You think you had had it bad now, just you wait!
    meanwhile, I went to check what TIME considered over-reported stories in 2010 and I wasn’t disappointed

    http://edgeoforever.wordpress.com/2010/12/13/mortalizing-obama-and-other-made-up-words/

  6. only the truly insane and disconnected will want to foist him on us for a second term

    AKA, true believers.

  7. Honk, honk.

    By the way, I really like the Metro in DC. It could of course really use being expanded and go out further, but for my uses of getting around the city after I get there, it’s quite nice.

    Now if I just had something more than a morning/evening amtrak connection from here to there.

  8. Just read that Angleachel post speculating on SoS Joe Lieberman.
    Ack!*

    (*my word of the day)

    • Yea, that would be quite a change from Hillary. In fact, such a horrible step down that I suspect that would add to Obama’s negatives in ’12.

      • I’m thinking Lieberman is not a real possibility for SoS. I remember Obama being in his face on the senate floor seemingly trying to strongarm him. I think Obama holds grudges and Lieberman made him look bad.
        I also hope Anglachel’s scenario of repubs going after Hillary isn’t the case- though I see the logic in her hypothetical.

        • Remember, Joe Lieberman was 0bama’s mentor in the Senate. Each new senator chooses a mentor. Obama chose Joe Lieberman. One needed to know nothing else about The Precious. That should have been Obama’s death knell to progressives. But, that was not to be. It was covered up and ignored. 11th dimensional chess, my a**!

        • I can just see Lieberman as SOS.

          “Oh, you’re not taking Israel’s side? Get the bombs ready!”

  9. Ever see the pictures of the scrapped P,G&E Red Cars after GM bought up the rail system and dismantled it to sell more cars?

    Some crooked government official took money to let that happen, same as the crooks fighting to keep mass transit funding at the starvation level today. If you got crappy public transit just look to your state and federal Senators and Representatives, they took thirty pieces of silver to make it that way.

    If your congress members really cared about what is best for the U S A instead of lining their pockets or advancing their wack religious superstitions … should I even bother to complete that ?

    Speaker Thomas Tip O’Neill misread the public’s anger over business as usual back in the early 1990’s and the republicans took the House. Today the Democrats are doing it again with predictable results.

    The republicans will have control two branches of government until 2016 and the judicial beyond that.

  10. Dahlia Lithwick:

    >>Breaking: federal judge in Virginia strikes down parts of Obama Health care reform including individual mandate

  11. RD,
    Hope you are doing well. I’m always impressed with how much you can write :). Also I wouldn’t be too upset with these “don’t do that” pundits. There is always a contrarian for any rational liberal stand nowadays. Is contrarian a word (grin)?
    Happy Holidays
    ps. when you are in a foxhole do you say “we gotta go get our African-american buddy or latino-american or jewish-american”… no you end up saying “lets go get our buddy”. That’s why I never really cottoned to multi-culturalism extremis.

  12. http://robertreich.org/post/2189538588

    The Why-Should-I-Get-Out-Of-My-Chair Gap in 2012

    If Dems agree to the tax plan just negotiated by the White House with Republican leaders, they’ll face a “why-should-I-get-up-out-of-my-chair” gap that will make 2010’s Dem enthusiasm seem like a pep rally by comparison.

    Love it :)

  13. A Virginia? judge just ruled the individual insurance mandate unconstitutional. So far 2 constitutional, 1 against. Wonder what the Supreme Court will say. Whose bread will they want to butter?

  14. Good find Teresa. Here’s the NYTimes article on that ruling:

    In a 42-page opinion issued in Richmond, Va., Judge Hudson wrote that the law’s central requirement that most Americans obtain health insurance exceeds the regulatory authority granted to Congress under the Commerce Clause of the Constitution. The insurance mandate is central to the law’s mission of covering more than 30 million uninsured because insurers argue that only by requiring healthy people to have policies can they afford to treat those with expensive chronic conditions.

    The judge wrote that his survey of case law “yielded no reported decisions from any federal appellate courts extending the Commerce Clause or General Welfare Clause to encompass regulation of a person’s decision not to purchase a product, not withstanding its effect on interstate commerce or role in a global regulatory scheme.”

  15. Beautiful post, RD. As someone who has been unemployed for almost six months and is preparing to put a house up for sale, I understand what you are saying about unemployment insurance extensions not being enough. Luckily, I have savings, but jobs are what America needs and this tax cut giveaway is not going to help.

    If only President Obama had talked to President Clinton before he made the deal with Republicans, perhaps he could have come up with something sensible. But that would require him to care.

    djmm

  16. Off topic but…

    Today’s ruling that “the law’s central requirement that most Americans obtain health insurance exceeds the regulatory authority granted to Congress under the Commerce Clause of the Constitution.”

    Comes as a gigantic surprise to one Josh Marshal [same guy was gung-ho for invading iraq]. Here’s his rant:

    “A year ago, no one took seriously the idea that a federal health care mandate was unconstitutional. And the idea that buying health care coverage does not amount to “economic activity” seems preposterous on its face.”

    Ummm, no Josh, just like you didn’t listen to those who cautioned you about the Invasion of Iraq, you didn’t listen to those who warn you of this. Anybody surprised by this probably wouldn’t pass High School Civics. Here’s the Cliff Notes Josh:

    “Judge Hudson wrote that the law’s central requirement that most Americans obtain health insurance exceeds the regulatory authority granted to Congress under the Commerce Clause of the Constitution.”

    Unlike Car insurance which you choose to buy IF you own a car AND drive on PUBLICLY OWNED roads. Mandating that people purchase a promissory note from a PRIVATE financial firm under penalty of federal law would require modification to the constitution. The one similar compulsory act contained in the constitution is congress is charged with the job of “raising armies” [the draft], however, those armies until Bush/Obama were suppose to be PUBLICLY OWNED and subject to congress’s budgetary whims.

    Josh should review the basis for constitutional law, for which you have shown no respect for in the past and you will have fewer surprises.

    OBTW Josh, you’re so clueless, here’s how we got income taxes:

    The XVI Amendment to the United States Constitution allows the Congress to levy an income tax.

    • An obama protector par excellence. Today his swagger post is a knee slapper. Sad

    • Funny thing is, it could have been done right, calling the issue a tax, and writing the bill in a clear constitutional manner. But instead the bill calls it a “penalty” if you do not act, and give a private company some money. So there is an issue. Many think it will still make it through the supreme court, but there is a lot of gray area. And there didn’t need to be. There’s where that experience thingy kind of matters.

      • Charging a tax to buy a product is still kinda dicey to me. This administration (and Congress) seems to crap their pants over the idea of taxing anything, like this tax cut package with nary a tax increase.

      • Not doing it right was a feature.

      • Medicare for All would have had no constitutional problems.

        But no, that would make the plan too democratic…

        djmm

      • From FB page:

        “A year ago, no one took seriously the idea that a federal health care mandate was unconstitutional. And the idea that buying health care coverage does not amount to “economic activity” seems preposterous on its face.” – Josh Marshal

        Factually, Josh has it wrong, as many 27 attorney generals threatened to sue and 14 did. So just as his “sophisticated” arguments for the Invasion of Iraq turned out to be fraudulent, Josh’s statement is a representation of his ignorance, perhaps a lie, or some combination of the two.

        But did everyone catch the breadth of Marshal’s argument, that buying health insurance is economic activity so the Feds have the power not only to regulate it, but to make you buy it?

        Leaving aside Josh’s Orwellian use of logic. What about it’s practical implications:

        So if the market tanks and the oligarchy needs to unload junk stocks, they just go to their hacks in congress and pass a mandate that individuals buy stocks and bail them out? Farmers aren’t getting their prices…so off they go to congress and pass a mandate that individuals buy more soybeans?

        Josh should review the basis for constitutional law,[for which he hasn't shown much respect for in the past] and he will have fewer surprises.

        Since Josh is the shining light for many, it might be helpful to point out how we got income taxes. The XVI Amendment to the United States Constitution allows the Congress to levy an income tax, not a bill passed by congress. If Josh wants laws to mandate people buy insurance from private financial institutions…amend the constitution. If you want to collect a tax at the federal level like, say…for expanding LBJ’s MEDICARE to cover more people, no problemo.

        I know Josh isn’t up on his civics, but handing a charter to private interests which compels citizenry to purchase from private firms…didn’t we have a revolution over that EXACT SAME issue?

        To be fair, if Josh, want to conscript US citizens into involuntary servitude for private corporations, just call for a constitutional amendment…I’m sure it’ll be a winner. Meantime, stop whining like a spoiled child when your back-ass-ward “historic” legislation is struck down for EXACTLY the reasons you were warned about by numerous prominent authors who had actually studied the issue.

        • Obama taught constitutional law, and he signed the bill. We had suspicions that he wasn’t a good constitutional law professor, now the suspicions have lifted.

          • He taught night school classes at UC law school. I do not think it was anything near ConLaw. My undergraduate child just took undergraduate ConLaw from a tenured law school prof who taught (tenured) at Harvard, UCLA, and Michigan. Obama is not in the same universe. The professor stuff was a false spin in a marketing campaign. Since we have never seen his academic records I am not sure he had even a government course or that he pass/failed.

        • A reply to my HS friends FB comment:

          “Well this sets the stage for a showdown in USSC since two other appellate courts ruled the other way. Can’t wait to see it but wonder if it will be this session or next.”

          My answer starts here:

          This should be an interesting case for the Supremos, on the one hand you have Government delivering citizens like cattle to a packing company [corporate interests] and on the other hand you have a fundamental value that taxation is the sole… domain of elected government being transferred/abdicated by congress to private financial interests. The fact that the two other courts choose to ignore this body of US Law without noting it’s existence should give one pause.

          I would argue that this action is proscribed against by the US Constitution. Congress has the sole power to legislate for the United States under Article One, Section 1 of the United States Constitution and is proscribed from transferring that power under the doctrine of non-delegation.

          “The origins of the non-delegation doctrine, as interpreted in U.S., can be traced back to, at least, 1690, to John Locke The doctrine of nondelegation describes the theory that one branch of government must not authorize another entity to exercise the power or function which it is constitutionally authorized to exercise itself. It is explicit or implicit in all written constitutions that impose a strict structural separation of powers. It is usually applied in questions of constitutionally improper delegations of powers of any of the three branches of government to either of the other, to the administrative state, or to PRIVATE ENTITIES.” – Wiki

          In the 1998, many of the current Supremes decided that Congress could not delegate a “line-item veto” to the President, by which he was empowered to selectively nullify certain provisions of a bill before signing it. It will be interesting to watch Antonio and Clarence dance this one. I don’t think Kennedy wants to go out having foisted this monstrosity upon the US. Sotomayor is on record as having said the political sphere is being consumed by corporate interests…the “Federalist” will have to be renamed the “Hypocriticalist” if Roberts, or Alito go along with this

          This should be an easy case for true liberals [people who examine an idea on it's own merit without preconception]…And it should be an easy case for conservatives [people who retain core values unless they become hopelessly outdated]…Unfortunately, the last of either species flew the coop years ago, chased out by the cuckoos of the brood parasitic family.

          My final Answer? Either change the constitution or write a three page law expanding Medicare to all who choose [in a one time deal] to opt in. Done

          Of course that’s an extremist view…while ripping up the Constitution in order to allow corporations to play grab ass with law abiding US Citizens is considered “moderate”, “centrist”, “responsible” and…”serious”. Not since the citizens of Troy rolled in the wooden horse have we seen such idiocy, US “progressives” are supporting the destruction of the only document that stands between them and a corporate controlled state for a medical plan proposed by Heritage in 1994…a plan that has already failed in Massachusetts.

  17. I saw the Rockettes holiday show 15 years ago and also have an interesting tale regarding transportation…mine involved a blizzard, a Greyhound bus, and an incredibly obnoxious passenger. Both events unforgettable, although I would love to forget the bus trip!

  18. RD, If you can brave the trip into NYC again, The Nutcracker at Lincoln Center is a wonderful holiday treat. My daughter enjoyed it a lot when she was around Brooke’s age. It’s a great mother/daughter event to share.

  19. Gillibrand gets it right again. I keep saying it: this is one to watch. She’s got guts.

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
    Monday, December 13, 2010

    GILLIBRAND ON EXTENDING BUSH TAX CUTS TO WEALTHY: WRONG FOR ECONOMY, WRONG FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS

    Extending Bush Tax Cuts For Millionaires and Billionaires Will Not Create Jobs, Grow Economy

    Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand issued the following statement today after voting against cloture on legislation to extend the Bush tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires:

    “I’m opposing this deal in its current form because right now we need to focus on the middle class, who are always left behind, not the people at the very top, who are doing just fine in this economy.

    “Although this deal includes important measures I have fiercely advocated for, extending Bush tax cuts for the very wealthy will saddle our children with billions of dollars of debt. With unemployment near 10 percent and a growing budget deficit, every dollar in this deal should be spent in a way that creates jobs and gets our economy growing, and tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires do not create jobs and will not help our economy grow. This kind of fiscal recklessness is bad for our economy and bad for future generations.”

    • I like that she co-opted his fierce advocacy phrase. Even better is that when she says it, it’s probably true.

      I agree she’s one to watch. I personally would vote in a second for a Clinton/Gillibrand ticket.

    • Her vote is not necessary, hence she’s allowed to voice her discontent and vote “nay”.

      I’m convinced that Washington is one big kabuki theater.

      • I’m not saying that her discontent is not real, but that she’d have to vote “yes” if her vote was needed.

  20. I STILL cannot believe we were in the same exact city …. within a day of each other. Totally unfair!!

    Still, I had a blast. And I’m glad you did too.

    • I know. But didn’t the city seem subdued this season? All the bell ringing santas were gone, the store window displays were minimal, it wasn’t even that crowded. It was just kinda blah. Blame Bloomberg.

      • I thought so too. I got some exciting photos but, most of the Christmas fun was at Macy’s. And even there, the windows weren’t what I expected.

        Still, it was fun to be there. I think that’s the first time I’ve been there since Oct 2001.

  21. ABC is reporting that Richard Holbrooke has died.

    • He sure had some black marks beside his name, but had way far more gold stars there too.

      Rest In Peace!

  22. Ron Paul defends Wikileaks on the House floor.

    REP. RON PAUL (R-TX): WikiLeaks’ release of classified information has generated a lot of attention in the past few weeks. The hysterical reaction makes one wonder if this is not an example of killing the messenger for the bad news. Despite what is claimed, the information that has been so far released, though classified, has caused no known harm to any individual, but it has caused plenty of embarrassment to our government. Losing our grip on our empire is not welcomed by the neoconservatives in charge.

    It’s good there’s at least one liberal, in the classic sense, left in DC.

    RIP Richard Holbrooke

    • For all his asinine views on other subjects, I have to respect that crazy SOB Ron Paul on the subject of The Empire. :twisted:

      • I agree with Ron Paul on many issues, but what I like about him is that even when I disagree, I know his views are based on a philosophy he adheres to, not because he sold out.

      • One of the few to call b*llshit on the (un) Patriot Act in 2002…

  23. I love the unflinching honesty of this blog.

    One of the things I have been thinking about on the economy lately is that a large part of the current problem now is dishonesty in the financial system. Until the regulations are changed and enforced, I don’t see consumer confidence being restored. The other problem I see is that with all the foot dragging on the economy by the legislative bodies, there is so much uncertainty created that investors are sitting on the sidelines. Trade issues, taxes, and deficit problems need to be finalized instead of all this back and forth with temporary measures.

  24. Senators who voted against cloture of the tax cut for the rich. Make a list and check it twice when you vote next time.

    NAYs —15
    Bingaman (D-NM)
    Brown (D-OH)
    Coburn (R-OK)
    DeMint (R-SC)
    Ensign (R-NV)
    Feingold (D-WI)
    Gillibrand (D-NY)
    Hagan (D-NC)
    Lautenberg (D-NJ)
    Leahy (D-VT)
    Levin (D-MI)
    Sanders (I-VT)
    Sessions (R-AL)
    Udall (D-CO)
    Voinovich (R-OH)

  25. In other news…..

    Yahoo is set to layoff 700+ employees.

    Whatever will these members of the “creative class” do now that they will be in the unemployment lines?

    Will they continue to shout ” we are the ones we have been waiting for!”. I have my doubts, now that the new tax bill doesn’t include an extension of Cobra and cuts 2.2 billion from food stamps. Does anyone know of a soup kitchen giving out arugala?

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