Sunday Night Open Thread


(Jeff Danziger’s website)
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According to the NYTimes, “Boehner & Reid Prepare Rival Debt Plans“:

… Mr. Reid, the Senate’s top Democrat, was trying on Sunday to cobble together a plan to raise the government’s debt limit by $2.4 trillion through the 2012 elections, with spending cuts of about $2.7 trillion that would not touch any of the entitlement programs that are dear to Democrats or raise taxes, which is anathema to Republicans…
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At the White House on Sunday evening, Mr. Obama spent about an hour meeting in the Oval Office to try to hash out details of the Democratic proposal with Mr. Reid and the House Democratic leader, Nancy Pelosi. The two emerged from the meeting with nothing to say to the throngs of reporters who had been encamped there for the third consecutive weekend, awaiting an agreement on the debt ceiling.
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But administration and Congressional officials said that during the meeting, Mr. Obama and the Democratic leaders had resolved to hold firm against any short-term agreement that did not raise the debt ceiling beyond next year’s presidential elections. […]
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The contours of Mr. Boehner’s backup plan were not entirely clear, but it seemed likely to take the form of a two-step process, with about $1 trillion in cuts, an amount the Republicans said was sufficient to clear the way for a debt limit increase through year’s end. That would be followed by future cuts guided by a new legislative commission that would consider a broader range of trims, program overhauls and revenue increases…
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One freshman lawmaker on the call described Mr. Boehner as sounding weary and said many Republicans were focused on some version of a balanced budget amendment, which was already passed by the House as part of broader legislation but then rejected by the Senate.

Shorter Orange John: I got a caucus full of nothin’, and the chomp marks all over my ankles to prove it.

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Meanwhile, the Washington Post, in its capacity as the broadsheet for a company town whose product is politics, has had a user poll up since late Friday asking Which leader is most at fault for the latest breakdown in debt talks?. Consensus of 46,373 voters allocates Obama 15%, Boehner/Cantor/McConnell 82%, Reid/Pelosi/Other 2%. In other words, the Repubs haven’t even managed to hold onto the stalwarts of the Crazification Factor!



“Homegrown Terrorists”

The day before the Norwegian attacks, Esquire posted Charles P. Pierce’s smart, heartbreaking article on Spokane’s “Bomb That Didn’t Go Off“:

… At the beginning of this year, not long after they’d found the bomb on the bench in Spokane, a journalist named David Neiwert put together a list of nearly thirty acts of right-wing political violence that had taken place, or had been foiled, in the United States since the summer of 2008 — or roughly since Barack Obama’s presidency began to be seen as a genuine possibility. The list began with Jim David Adkisson, who killed two people in a Unitarian church in Tennessee because he was angry at how “liberals” were “destroying America.” It included two episodes in April 2009, one in Pittsburgh and one in Florida, in which men who were sure that Barack Obama’s government was coming for their guns opened fire on law-enforcement officers who had come to investigate them on other matters.
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Some of the crimes on the list were briefly sensational — Scott Roeder’s murder of Dr. George Tiller in Wichita, or Joseph Andrew Stack’s flying his small plane into a building in Austin in protest of the Internal Revenue Service, or the incoherent array of violent crimes committed by the “Sovereign Citizens Movement.” But most of them barely made the national radar at all. In December 2008, a woman in Belfast, Maine, named Amber Cummings shot to death her sleeping husband, James, who’d been savagely abusing her. Upon arriving at the Cummings home, investigators found Nazi paraphernalia and a stash of chemicals indicating that James Cummings was preparing to make a “dirty bomb” that he planned to detonate at Obama’s inauguration. Except in the local media, that aspect of the case disappeared completely. James Cummings and his bomb had nothing to do with Scott Roeder’s handgun or Joe Stack’s airplane.
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It is a fertile time for such things. The country elected a black president with an exotic name. The economy, wrecked by a rigged game at the highest levels, continued to grind through a jobless recovery. The national dialogue grows coarser and wilder, and does so at a pace accelerated by technology. People sense the fragmentation — things are falling apart — even while they take refuge in those fragments of life that seem safest and most familiar…
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The bomb in the bag on the bench in Spokane was a shrapnel bomb, a direct descendant of Henry Shrapnel’s original brainchild. It was specifically designed and carefully placed to create an expanding killing zone, a sideways rain of lethal fragments. A child could have been killed by the blast itself, or by a piece of the bench, or by a chunk of the child’s own father. After all, shrapnel is nothing more than undifferentiated fragments with sufficient force applied.
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That the bomb did not do what it was designed to do was a combination of luck and human agency. (It was a triumph for public employees, to put it in the context of our current political argument.) That the events of January 17 largely have faded from the news has nothing to do with luck at all. That is all human agency — how a fragmented country gathers the pieces of an event like this and tries to construct from them, not necessarily the truth of what happened, but a story that the country can live with, one more fragment among dozens of others that the country has remembered to forget.
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Don’t talk, then, about the wildness in our rhetoric today, and its undeniable roots in that deep strain of political violence that runs through our national DNA, on a gene that is not always recessive. Don’t relate Centennial Park in Atlanta in 1996 to Oklahoma City to murdered doctors to Columbine, and then to Tucson and to the bag on the bench in Spokane. Ignore the patterns, deep and wide, that connect each event to the other like a slow-burning fuse to a charge. That there are among us rage-hardened, powerless people who resort to the gun and the bomb. That there are powerful people who deplore the gun and the bomb, but who do not hesitate to profit from their use. And when the gun goes off or the bomb explodes, the powerful will deplore the actions of the powerless, and they will reassure the rest of us that We are not like Them, who are violent and crazy and whose acts have no reason beyond unfathomable madness. But above all, they will say, Ignore the fact that there is still a horrible utility in political violence, the way there was during Reconstruction, or during the labor wars of the early twentieth century. If there were not, it wouldn’t be so hard to get an abortion in Kansas, and assault weapons would not have been accessories of choice at recent rallies purportedly held to discuss changes in the way the country organizes its health-care system.

(My emphasis)



Saturday Evening Open Thread

At least they’re indoors where it’s air-conditioned. The Atlantic Wire has an update on “The Urgent Need for a Debt Deal Before a Monday Market Panic“:

… President Obama called an urgent meeting Saturday morning at the White House, which ended without resolution less than an hour later, the New York Times reports. The meeting, as various sources have speculated, was probably not a happy one. […]
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Another Democratic aide told TPM that “Leaders discussed the urgency of finding a path forward this weekend and agreed that staffs would work together throughout the weekend.” White House press secretary Jay Carney likewise said in a statement, “The leaders agreed to return to Capitol Hill to talk to their members and discuss a way forward, and conversations will continue throughout the day.” And after the meeting, Boehner held a conference call with rank-and-file Republicans where he pledged to help avert a crisis in the Asian markets by making a statement within 24 hours about the status of raising the debt limit…
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Still, the result is that not only will all sides be working through the weekends, they may not get a break all next week, either. NBC News Capitol Hill reporter Luke Russert indicated that, according to NBC News’ Shawna Thomas over Twitter: “Per GOP aide House plans to be in session for a week straight starting Monday. A Monday to Monday work week. The goal according to the aide is to pass a debt deal and gavel out on Monday evening August 1st.”
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It looks like it will be a long week. According to TPM, “Boehner said he was hoping to forge a deal to wrangle between $3 trillion and $5 trilion in savings and would prefer to avoid falling back on the so-called ‘McConnell Plan’ that would hand over authority to raise the debt ceiling to the President with Congress able to disapprove only with a two-thirds majority vote.” The New York Times reports that Boehner said on Saturday that, “As I said last night, over this weekend Congress will forge a responsible path forward. House and Senate leaders will be working to find a bipartisan solution to significantly reduce Washington spending and preserve the full faith and credit of the United States.”

FWIW (and I’m heartened by it) there’s a report at TPM that Harry Reid stated, again, “I will not support any short-term agreement, and neither will President Obama nor Leader Pelosi… We seek an extension of the debt ceiling through at least the end of 2012. We will not send a message of uncertainty to the world.”

So, looks like the next Kabuki Smackdown Special will occur after the Sabbath-Day Gasbags bloviate, but before the Asian markets go into free-fall.

In the interim, what’s everyone doing on this summer Saturday evening?



Wednesday Morning Open Thread


(Tom Toles via GoComics.com)

All the early-morning regulars seem to be sleeping in, so… What’s on the agenda?



Murdochalypse: Props to the Brave Crusaders

For those looking for a little uplift among the Rupert wreckage, Tina Brown’s Newsweek has given Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger a forum to explain “How We Broke the Murdoch Scandal“:

Every so often—perhaps once every 18 months—the veteran Guardian writer Nick Davies comes into my office, shuts the door with a conspiratorial backward glance, and proceeds to tell me something hair-raising.
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In June last year he wanted to inform me about Julian Assange. He’d read that the (then little-known) snowy-haired hacker was on the run with a data stick full of millions of secret documents that the U.S. Defense and State departments had carelessly hemorrhaged. His plan was to track him down … and then The Guardian would publish them all. Good idea?
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Early in 2009 there had been a similar moment. He’d discovered that James Murdoch, the son and heir of the most powerful private news-media company on earth, had done a secret deal to pay more than $1 million to cover up evidence of criminal behavior within the company. Interested?
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The answer to both questions was—of course. Followed by a small inner gulp at the sheer scale and implications of the stories. Followed by the sight of Nick, invariably dressed in jeans and a defiantly unfashionable brown leather jacket, disappearing back out through the door in search of trouble…

Ripping yarns! It seems somehow appropriate that the number-one story on the adjacent Popular-on-Newsweek sidebar should be “The Science of Triumph”.

Ms. Brown further provides, for her American readers, a precis of the career of “Rupert’s Red Menace” Rebekah Brooks, a cheatsheet of sad salacious detail in the guise of rhetorical righteousness from “a member of the UN’s Internal Justice Council“, and a pious invocation of the priceless value of a free press in our capitalist global economy from the half of the Watergate reporting duo never known to have been on the CIA’s payroll.

I still insist Tina Brown’s defection from the pro-Rupert ranks is as good an indicator of his immanent demise as the steady decline of Murdoch’s company shares on Wall Street. Brown made her media bones as a courtier in the very British nobs-and-snobs strongholds where Brooks could instruct the Prime Minister on his choice of media liaisons over tea after following a fox hunt together. We Americans joke about the deadly social/political instincts of the HuffPo proprietress, but Tina made Ariana look like a grubby little Greek climber forced to decamp for the colonies after coming a distant second to Lady Evans, CBE.



Ave Atque Vale, Mr. Hoare

John Ward at his blog, The Slog, salutes “the original Hackgate conscience“:

If I had a fiver for every hack and distant acquaintance who has told me over the last year what a nice bloke Sean Hoare was, I’d be a wealthy man – even given the state our currency is in.
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I never met him. He only came to my attention at all because of his confession to the New York Times about endemic phone-hacking within Newscorp in general, and under the stewardship of Andy Coulson in particular. I remember very well that the venom with which Murdoch set a gaggle of legals on the NYT at the time made my nose for a scandal twitch. To be honest, I rather suspect that without Sean Hoare, the full Hackgate depravity might never have come out. Sean Hoare was a good man who did something – and he should be remembered for that.
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Coulson, predictably, fired him. His version of the event is that Hoare was a hopeless office drunk and marching powder addict. What Handy Andy omits to mention is that it was he and others in the Newscorp cesspool who encouraged this essentially decent man to get coked up with celebs, the better to find out what skeletons rested uneasily in their mental cupboards…
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Hoare eventually got himself clean, but the guilt about what he’d done drove him back to his best friend the bottle. He was found dead at his home today, and details so far are scant. The police say that there is no evidence of foul play. How sad it is that nobody in Britain will believe them.



This is just weird

All credit goes to commenter JenJen for noting this interesting little exchange between David Gregory and Governor John Kasich:

DAVID GREGORY:
Governor, you–work for Fox News. What’s the impact there? What’s the reaction there?
GOV. JOHN KASICH:
Well, it– you know, they– they have not been touched this, they have told me. And– I believe them. And– we just have to see how this all unfolds. It’s– you know, Murdoch’s fired people. He’s– you know, he’s– he’s quoted as– as– as being told that his hands in his– his– in his– his head in his hands, crying with the family that– was impacted. I mean it’s– it’s a terrible thing. And– hopefully we’ll get to the bottom of it. And it will change– it’ll change journalism.

Obviously, David Gregory made an error when Gregory said that John Kasich, the Governor of Ohio, “works for Fox News”. Gregory meant that Kasich worked for Fox News before he was the Governor of Ohio. Let’s hope that’s what he meant, anyway.

But, putting that aside, what a weird response from Kasich. The Governor of Ohio, a former Murdoch employee, just informed us that “they” (meaning Fox News employees or executives, I assume) have assured the Governor of Ohio that “they have not been touched by this”. Oh, and he also offers this: “I believe them.”

WTF kind of answer is that from a sitting U.S. governor? Why is the Governor of Ohio discussing this with his former co-workers at Fox News at all, let alone offering a preemptive defense on their behalf?