U.S. Politics

Is Fox News REALLY This Stupid?

Courtesy of ShortFormBlog.com

No, but their audience is.  Therefore, they have to play to their base…

Addicting Info

It would appear so. Or at least they’re hoping their audience is:

Just to be clear, the Trillion Dollar Platinum coin does not actually have to be one trillion dollars worth of platinum in the same way the paper and ink used to make a dollar bill is not actually worth one dollar .

Also to be clear, the TDP coin is an example of how ridiculous the GOP threat over the debt ceiling is.

Here’s the skinny on the coin: The Treasury can’t just print money all willy-nilly, BUT it can mint a commemorative coin of pretty much any kind. Soooooo…some intrepid blogger suggested that they do exactly that: mint a coin “worth” one trillion dollars, hand it over to the Federal Reserve and taaaadaaaaa! A trillion dollar account to draw from.

It’s a thought-exercise in the same exact way the debt ceiling is a thought-exercise. The difference between, minting the TDP coin and not raising the debt ceiling, according to Paul Krugman, is:

“A choice between two alternatives: one that’s silly but benign, the other that’s equally silly but both vile and disastrous. The decision should be obvious.” [Source]

Fox, of course, would be quite happy with the GOP crashing the economy because it would scare the bejeezus out of their viewers and that means ratings! To that end, they’ve decided that the TDP coin is a bad idea and either can’t be bothered asking an economist what it really means or delivering ridiculously bad information to their viewers.

Probably a bit of both.

Here’s the full explanation of the TDP coin and why the GOP/Fox/right wing media machine really wants it to go away. It’s very thorough and straight forward. Enjoy!

Gun Control · President Obama

Why President Obama is picking fights with Congress

President Obama is pictured. | AP Photo
It would be a mistake to attribute all of Obama’s actions to dispassionate tactics. | AP Photo
  • Because revenge is a dish best served cold?
  • He hates them for making him look weak these past four years?
  • Because he can?
  • All of the above?


Barack Obama is looking for a few good fights.

Obama, the same president who campaigned twice on breaking the cycle of conflict in Washington, sees the utility — even the necessity — of rattling Republican cages as he plunges into a succession of upcoming battles over the nomination of Chuck Hagel as secretary of defense, the debt ceiling, $1 trillion in automatic budget cuts, immigration reform and gun control.

(Also on POLITICO: Senate vs. President Obama over Cabinet)

Obama’s willingness to take a more overtly adversarial stance is, in part, a nod to the reality that he’s about to start his second term with solid approval numbers — “Hit now, as hard as you can, because your power starts to die in six, eight months,” according to a top aide to a Senate Republican who has often locked horns with the White House.

That entails taking a tough line with the Hill GOP on Hagel — who has vowed to battle “distortions” of his record on Iran and Israel — and stiff-arming the GOP at the start of negotiations over the debt ceiling and across-the-board spending cuts. It’s less clear whether Obama will be quite as bellicose on issues that require a more subtle approach, like immigration, guns and climate change, although his aides are talking tough.

(Also on POLITICO: Why Obama picked Hagel)

Picking a few choice fights “is a very good strategy if you know that applying all that pressure gets you the result you are looking for,” said former White House press secretary Robert Gibbs, an adviser to Obama’s 2012 campaign. “But if you pick a fight, you have to be sure the tactic helps ensure the result you want rather than making it harder to achieve.”

There’s also a long-term strategy: Two months after a decisive presidential win, Obama and his party already are eyeing the 2014 midterms. Highlighting the contrasts between the White House and congressional Republicans could flip the House back to Democrats, giving Obama a final two-year governing majority that bookends the one he enjoyed during his first two years in office.

But it would be a mistake to attribute all of Obama’s actions to dispassionate tactics. After four-plus years of embittered partisan combat, he views his GOP bargaining partners with more than a little contempt, and he momentarily vanquished enemies who just can’t say “yes” to him.

His apparent conclusion, after watching the implosion of the House GOP’s effort to pass a modest tax increase before the final fiscal cliff deal, is that the best way to deal with the Capitol is to throw rocks at it — then send Vice President Joe Biden in to clean up the glass.

(PHOTOS: What they’re saying about Chuck Hagel)

“There are 536 people who will be negotiating deals — the House, the Senate and the president,” an Obama aide said. “Only one of them isn’t running for reelection again. That gives us leverage.”

Republicans see parallels between Obama’s recent tough-guy stance — he practically dared the GOP to shoot down Hagel, one of their own, during an East Room ceremony Monday — and his aggressive push for the stimulus and health reform bills early in his first term.

Continue on to page 2…

GOP Malfeasance · Standard & Poors

After Triggering Downgrade, Debt Default Skeptics Try To Run From Their Records — But They Can’t

Are they not aware that this is the digital age and everything they ever said or did is recorded somewhere?


Standard & Poors has a specific justification fordowngrading the U.S. bond rating, and it’s deadly for Republicans. It wasn’t just that Congress showed itself to be reckless and dysfunctional, or that the GOP shows no sign of ever ending their anti-tax jihad. It’s that for a period of weeks, some lawmakers (read: Republicans) were quite literally shrugging off the risks of blowing past the August 2 deadline, running out of borrowing authority, and missing payment obligations.

“[P]eople in the political arena were even talking about a potential default,” said Joydeep Mukherji, senior directior at S&P. “That a country even has such voices, albeit a minority, is something notable,” he added. “This kind of rhetoric is not common amongst AAA sovereigns.”

This is unambiguous, and leaves little room for obfuscation. S&P’s original, lengthy statement explaining the downgrade cited political dysfunction in Congress quite broadly, but did not mention this specific element of the debate. For weeks, high-profile conservative lawmakers practically welcomed the notion of exhausting the country’s borrowing authority, or even technically defaulting. Others brazenly dismissed the risks of doing so. And for a period of days, in an earlier stage of the debate, Republican leaders said technical default would be an acceptable consequence, if it meant the GOP walked away with massive entitlement cuts in the end.

Of course, that doesn’t mean the GOP won’t try to sweep the mess they’ve made down the memory hole. Here’s Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA), who sponsored legislation that would’ve forced the Treasury to prioritize interest payments on U.S. debt in the event of a lapse in borrowing authority. “No one said that would be acceptable,” he said of a default. “What we said was in the event of a deadlock it was imperative that bondholders retain their confidence that loans made to the United States be repaid on schedule.”

That may be true for McClintock. Others were much more relaxed about the consequences of ignoring the August 2 deadline.

House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan said if “a bondholder misses a payment for a day or two or three or four,” it’s preferable so long as “you’re putting the government in a materially better position to be able to pay their bonds later on.” (Video below)

Ryan and others, including Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA), were echoing hedge-fund manager Stanley Druckenmiller, who was quoted in a widely cited Wall Street Journal article. Here’s Toomey: “The most high-profile advocate for this was Stanley Druckenmiller … one of the world’s most successful hedge-fund managers, extraordinarily wealthy from his knowledge of the markets, a big money manager now, and a big holder of Treasury securities — and he has said that he would actually accept even a delay in interest payments on the Treasuries that he holds. And he would prefer that if it meant that the Congress would right this ship.”

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) warned against default, but for a time was willing to go past August 2.

“The markets are not fooled by some date imposed to say that that is the trigger for the collapse,” he said at a Virginia jobs forum in May. “I think the markets are looking to see that there is real reform.”

Continue reading…

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President Obama

Obama Criticized Over Credit Rating Downgrade, Debt Ceiling Deal, Jobs, Afghanistan

No matter which way he turns, President Obama is being criticized about several issues this month…

The Huffington Post

It has been a lousy month for President Barack Obama. And August is not yet two weeks old.

Running for re-election, he’s getting beaten up from the political left for making too many concessions and for abandoning the positions on which he campaigned. And he’s being attacked from the right by Republican conservatives who claim his spending and taxing policies are hampering the economic recovery.

Over the past days, Obama has been confronted with humiliating blows on both the economy and in Afghanistan, while polls show deteriorating public support for both him and Congress amid growing public disillusionment with the nation’s policymaking process.

Usually, August is a steamy, lazy time in the nation’s capital when not much gets done and when both Congress and usually the president go on vacation.

But so far this month, the government avoided – just narrowly – a first-ever default on its financial obligations as it came just hours within beginning to run out of cash to pay its bills. A last-minute compromise with Republicans helped avoid the default but wasn’t enough to keep the government’s credit rating from being downgraded one notch from AAA to AA-plus by Standard & Poor’s.

Americans want their presidents to be problem solvers. But polls suggest that a majority of the public has lost faith in the ability of both the president and Congress to fix the ailing economy. More than two years into Obama’s presidency, the nation’s unemployment rate remains painfully high, and the Federal Reserve warns there’s little chance of major economic growth over the next two years.

“Obama’s trapped. He’s trapped by what happens with the financial crisis in Europe. He faces a Congress where Republicans will stop him dead in the tracks on his economic and jobs proposals,” said Thomas Mann, a scholar at the Brookings Institution. “And there’s a near consensus of pundits that he’s fundamentally flawed as a consequence of his personality.”

“He should be glad it’s more than a year before Election Day and not next August,” Mann added.

In its downgrade, S&P cited the inability of the political parties to find common ground on getting the U.S. financial house in order – and poor prospects for doing so anytime soon.

Continue reading here…

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Rep. Gabrielle Giffords

Gabrielle Giffords Returns To Congress To Vote On Debt Ceiling Deal (PHOTO)

When I saw Mrs. Giffords on my television screen inside the House chambers, I was delighted!  I’m not sure how many people knew she would be there to vote, but it was a very pleasant surprise to a very unpleasant “compromise” procedure…

Huffington Post

Seven months after she was shot in the head by a gunman in Tucson, Arizona, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) made a surprise and emotional return to the House floor on Monday, casting a vote in favor of a bill to raise the nation’s debt ceiling.

Giffords entered the chamber to sustained, standing applause, shaking hands with colleagues whom she had not seen since that January day. Her vote, a sideshow to the far more important and compelling personal drama, was in favor of the bill, which passed through the chamber by a margin of 269 to 161.

“I have closely followed the debate over our debt ceiling and have been deeply disappointed at what’s going on in Washington,” Giffords said, in a statement from her office. “After weeks of failed debate in Washington, I was pleased to see a solution to this crisis emerge. I strongly believe that crossing the aisle for the good of the American people is more important than party politics. I had to be here for this vote. I could not take the chance that my absence could crash our economy.”

Giffords’ office tweeted word of her return to Washington after the vote had begun. And as she showed up on the floor — smiling and with her hair cut short — the attention of lawmakers drifted from the vote tally to her presence. Her office, in a statement, noted that in December 2009 and again in February 2010, she had objected to raising the nation’s debt limit. This vote, the statement added, “was substantially different, with the strength of the U.S. economy hanging in the balance.”

After the vote was cast, Giffords received multiple additional rounds of applause, as House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Cali.) called her “the personification of courage.”

“Her presence here in the chamber as well as her service throughout her career in Congress, brings honor to this chamber,” Pelosi said. “Thank you, Gabby.”

Below, a picture of the congresswoman on Capitol Hill from HuffPost’s Jen Bendery:

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Rand Paul

CNN’s Don Lemon and Rand Paul Clash Over The Tea Party’s Role In The Debt Crisis- July 30, 2011

The Huffington Post

CNN’s Don Lemon had a very testy exchange with Sen. Rand Paul about the debt ceiling drama on Saturday night.

As the House and Senate again failed to reach an agreement on how to raise the debt ceiling, Paul appeared on CNN to explain the Tea Party position on the talks. Lemon started off the interview by asking him to chat “without talking points.” He also began aggressively trying to get Paul to answer his questions, asking him repeatedly how he had voted on the so-called “Cut, Cap and Balance” bill from the House.

Lemon then wondered whether Paul’s insistence on measures like a balanced budget amendment were isolating him.

“The Democrats have made many concessions when it comes to what’s going on here, and even the Tea Party position it appears to most people remains rigid,” Lemon said. “The question is, have you made your point? And by continuing to go on with this, do you feel like you’re overreaching and that you’re going to lose the clout?”

Paul started talking about how he didn’t want to add any more debt to the country’s finances. Lemon cut him off. “Hang on, hang on,” he said. “Can we just stick to that–we’re going to get to that–”

“Let me finish my thought,” Paul said.

“Hold on, please, be respectful here,” Lemon responded. “I’m trying to answer your question, you’ve interrupted my answer,” Paul said.”If you answer the question, I’ll give you plenty of time,” Lemon said.

Continue reading here…

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Tea Party Fail

Tea party rally on Capitol Hill draws thin crowd

The Teabaggers seem to be losing interest in those “rallies” lately…


It had all the makings of a big time tea party rally: Presidential candidate Herman Cain, conservative Sens. Jim DeMint of South Carolina, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Mike Lee of Utah all showed up outside the Capitol Wednesday to urge members to “hold the line” against a deficit reduction compromise.

The only thing missing? A big audience.

At the start of the rally, which was organized by the American Grassroots Coalition and Tea Party Express, there were roughly 15 attendees waiting to hear the conservative lawmakers speak. By the time the senators had spoken there were still fewer than 50 tea partiers in attendance.

But that didn’t stop the conservatives from turning up the heat on the proposals Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid are preparing in the Capitol. Paul panned the Boehner proposal, saying that it “would cut next year $1 billion dollars,” and eliciting jeers from the crowd. “That is insignificant and not meaningful reform,” he said.

As DeMint spoke, Cain, who did not address the crowd, told reporters, “I believe that president and the Democrats have created this crisis to gain leverage over a plan to raise taxes, and the American people are saying that’s a non-starter.” Cain said he hoped Congress would “do the right thing, and the right thing is don’t raise the debt ceiling, get serious about cuts, and don’t raise taxes.”

“I don’t buy that there is going to be a catastrophe,” Cain said when asked what will happen if a deadline isn’t reached by August 2nd.

Reps. Louie Gohmert of Texas, Paul Broun of Georgia, and freshmen Joe Walsh of Illinois, also spoke. Walsh told the tea partiers his leadership deserved credit for their attempts to negotiate with Democrats.

“My Republican leadership in the House is doing a great job. Imagine having to negotiate with Barack Obama. Imagine having to negotiate with Harry Reid. Give John Boehner, give Eric Cantor all the credit in the world,” he said, “But embolden them. Let them know that the American people are ready for a real reform. They need your help. We need your help.”

Sen. Mike Lee, who authored the Cut, Cap and Balance bill, the said “We’re being attacked by the left for not having the right proposal, but they have yet to submit a single bill to address this issue. Ours is the only show in town.”

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John Boehner

Boehner to America: give me what I want or you’re all screwed

This just about sums up Boehner’s speech last night…

Daily Kos

Summing tonight’s news: Obama gave a speech. Then Boehner gave a speech. Obama stressed compromise, Boehner stressed that “bipartisan” somehow meant the hardcore teabagger “Cut, Cap, Balance” plan that everyone knows has no chance of passing the Senate, but Boehner doesn’t really care because none of this is really about debt or deficit at this point.

This time we didn’t get vaguely-drunk-sounding Boehner, we got cranky petulant Boehner, and he delivered a speech that was basically a televised ransom note. Then a bunch of pundits said some stuff that I didn’t hear because nobody gives a crap what they think anymore.

Right now, the U.S. stock market is staring in the mirror, holding a big container of pills in one hand, and wondering where it all went wrong.


Republican Politics · Tea Party Agenda

Credit agencies warn GOP of ‘death spiral’

“No one is as deaf as the man who will not listen.” ~ Jewish Proverb


House Republicans were cautioned Thursday in a closed door meeting with credit rating agency officials that a “death spiral” in the bond market was one of the possible outcomes in the event of default.

One official warned of a worst-case scenario in which a default on the nation’s credit could result in a rapid drop in bond values, sparking chaos in the markets — a dramatic warning asWashington worked on a possible deal on deficit reduction and an increase in the debt limit.

Members who attended the meeting later countered that the tone of the discussion was not nearly as apocalyptic as the phrase initially made it sound. According to sources inside the room, the “death spiral” term was also used in reference to the collapse of Lehmann Brothers in September 2008 as a historical example.

Rep. Nan Hayworth, a freshman Republican from New York, hosted this off-the-record meeting with GOP House lawmakers Thursday afternoon. Hayworth called the meeting a “dispassionate and objective” discussion about the potentially disastrous consequences of not raising the debt ceiling by the August deadline. But Republicans said they were also told that unless the government undertook a serious deficit reduction program, the credit ratings could still assign a negative outlook to the nation’s debt anyway.

“If we do nothing, if we simply raise the debt ceiling, without a change in America’s spending trajectory then the markets will react negatively as well. That’s certainly the message I took away,” said Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.).

Read more…

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U.S. Politics

The ‘dismal’ new debt ceiling poll: 5 takeaways

It’s not looking good on the debt ceiling issue.  It appears Grover Norquist and his Tea Party people in the House and Senate are holding steadfast to prevent any tax revenue increases to the budget, even at a proposed 4-1 margin where the Republicans get social cuts four times the amount that the POTUS and Democrats are asking in tax revenues…

The Week  

Americans aren’t thrilled with President Obama’s handling of the debt-ceiling talks — but they’re really unhappy about the Republicans’ approach

No one is Mr. Popular in Washington these days. Only 43 percent of Americans approve of President Obama’s handling of the debt-ceiling crisis, according to a CBS News poll. Still, compare that to the 31 percent who are happy with congressional Democrats’ performance on the issue, and the measly 21 percent who are pleased with the GOP’s conduct. What do these “dismal” numbers say about the testy negotiations on raising the debt limit and cutting the deficit?

1. Republicans are losing the debt-ceiling debate
The main takeaway here is that while the debate isn’t over and “no one is winning,” says Mark Murray at MSNBC, “one side is certainly losing: congressional Republicans.” GOP leaders might want to consider the gap between their disapproval rating on the issue — 71 percent — and Obama’s — 48 percent — as they consider whether to make a deal before the government runs out of money to cover its financial obligations on Aug. 2.

2. Americans want Congress to stop bickering and fix things
Voters just want the leaders they elected to set their differences aside for the sake of “averting disaster” and “you know… fix it,” says Kyle Leighton at Talking Points Memo. Other polls suggest Americans aren’t certain exactly what sort of a solution they want, but it’s pretty clear they “want a deal. And most want a balanced deal with more cuts than new revenues.”

3. CBS is shilling for Democrats
“This poll is a complete waste of time,” says Ed Morrissey at Hot Air. CBS gave Democrats 10 percent more weight in the group of people it polled and — surprise, surprise — congressional Democrats’ approval rating was 10 percent higher than that of Republicans. The only thing this “egregious” bit of polling malpractice proves is that “CBS tried very hard to get a sample that would support its preconceived,” pro-Obama notion of the debate.

4. The Tea Party overplayed its hand
“The bottom line is that the Republican Party is now rebranding itself — big time,” says Joe Gandelman at The Moderate Voice, but Americans aren’t impressed with what the GOP has come up with. “Right now it looks like Americans are increasingly concluding that the ineffective Obama brand is preferable to what they suspect is a dangerous Tea Party brand.” Voters might “accept a GOP that has the Tea Party,” but not “a GOP run by the Tea Party.”

5. The public knows politicians are just grandstanding
“Despite their lack of confidence in their elected leaders,” says Zeke Miller at Business Insider, “66 percent of voters believe a deal will be reached before Aug. 2.” People recognize that the “negotiating positions” everyone keeps shouting about won’t matter when the deadline gets dangerously near, and everyone scrambles to make a deal.