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The Morning Plum

* Tense, high-stakes brinkmanship: House Democrats are still debating internally over whether to put Republicans on the spot by calling a vote on Obama's proposal to extend the tax cuts for just the middle class, and with Dems set to hash out this and other difficult questions at a caucus meeting today, we'll soon know how Dems intend to proceed.

This is brinkmanship of the highest order, and as Josh Marshall has been arguing, a great deal could turn on the decisions Dems make in the next 24-48 hours.

* One reason Dems might not hold this vote: It would make life uncomfy for poor Blue Dog Dems who might get tarred by Republicans for raising taxes. Or something.

* Vulnerable Dems are antsy: Worried Dems are expected to give Nancy Pelosi an earful at the caucus today and demand she wrap up business quickly so they can get back to their districts and hit the trail.

* Question: Ya think Dems might be better off heading back to their districts with a vote for an extension of the middle class tax cuts in hand?

* And such a vote could put Republicans in a bind: House GOPers would have a dilemma on their hands: "Republicans would be forced to accept the partial extension or go on record as opposing benefits for the vast majority of taxpayers."

* The GOP's back-up game plan: Also in the above link, Repubicans are leaking their procedural strategic response to such a vote, perhaps in order to psych out Dems:

They could call for a vote on whether to send the Obama plan back to the Ways and Means Committee, with instructions to add the cuts for those who pay the highest rate. House Republicans have won such motions in the past and could prevail in this case, depending on the degree of Democratic resistance.

* Still more signs this would be a political winner for Dems: Pollster Stan Greenberg is set to tell the Dem caucus today that the Dem position has strong support among independents, and that taking a stand will narrow the generic Congressional gap.

"We ought to be proactive," Greenberg says. "This is one issue where we have the high ground." By the way, multiple other national polls confirm the same.

* More outstanding questions: What does the White House want Dems to do? Is it urging a particular strategy, or leaving everything up to Dem leaders? What will the Senate do? Who among House Dems is urging Dems not to hold this vote? What do the Dem party committees think would be best politically? Much more to come today.

* The Senate majority hinges on it: If Tea Party candidate Christine O'Donnell shocks the GOP establishment and wins today's primary against Mike Castle, Chris Cillizza notes, it could put a GOP Senate majority out of reach:

A defeat in Delaware would force Republicans to run the table in ten states -- Arkansas, California, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Nevada, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Washington State and Wisconsin -- to win the majority.

* Also: Ed Kilgore says an O'Donnell win would ease the pressure a bit by making Dems "less dependent on wins by vulnerable incumbents like Patty Murray, Barbara Boxer, and Russ Feingold."

* Elizabeth Warren may get temporary appointment? With the news spreading last night that Obama may appoint her interim chair of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, check out Brady Dennis' interesting overview of the situation and of the challenges awaiting her.

* But: The White House denies any plan to appoint her interim chair in order to avoid a fight over her confirmation, suggesting, I think, that Obama is still on track to appoint her the old fashioned way. A fight over this could help energize libs.

Controversy of the day: ICYMI, Garance Franke-Ruta has a user-friendly rundown on the whole Marty Peretz flap.

* Can Sarah Palin save the Democratic majority? Glenn Greenwald skewers the Dem strategy of elevating the 'Cuda as the best way to energize the base.

Dare we suggest a vote on the middle class tax cuts, and bold stands on matters like the Warren nomination and the tax cuts for the rich, might prove a bit more effective in this regard?

* And here's the proposal of the day: Hendrik Hertzberg calls for the "ground zero mosque" to be built on ground zero:

It would be hard to imagine a more powerful, pointed, passionate rebuke to Al Qaeda's brand of twisted Islamism than for an open-hearted cultural and religious institution representing the tolerant, democratic Muslims of New York to be part of the risen World Trade Center.

But...but...but...foes of the center keep telling me the attacks were carried out in Islam's name!

What else is happening?

By Greg Sargent  |  September 14, 2010; 8:24 AM ET
Categories:  2010 elections , House Dems , House GOPers , Morning Plum , Senate Dems  
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Next: Sixth national poll shows majority support for ending tax cuts for rich

Comments

It's the morning and we can be gracious and posit that there is some possibility that Michael Gerson really has no idea what a dishonest person he is. After all, it is possible.

In his column today on the 'enablers' for Terry Jones and such 'crazies', he lists:

first - a symbiotic relationship between old and new media
second - the pressure on political figures to respond
third - the unusual and irrational nature of how and what Muslims view as sacred

Nothing from Gerson - not a single word from Gerson - on the "War of Civilizations", the portrayal of Islam as a barbaric and evil religion which has the goal of destroying Christianity and western civilization that is promoted daily in his movement from talk radio, from Republican politicos and opinion leaders, from conservative publications and from FOX. Not a word from Gerson on the efforts by his movement to portray Islam in this manner as a justification for the launching of two wars against Muslim nations by the administration for which he wrote some of the speeches waving pom poms for this war and painting the world of Islam as evil.

Jones and Koran burning are caused by the new media.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/09/13/AR2010091305289.html?hpid=opinionsbox1

Posted by: bernielatham | September 14, 2010 8:29 AM | Report abuse

I don't think I've seen anything on this in the US press but America has just approved the largest weapons sale ever - $60 billion - to Saudi Arabia...
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/sep/13/us-arms-deal-saudi-arabia

Posted by: bernielatham | September 14, 2010 8:36 AM | Report abuse

This morning's NRO has an item on the front page which I'll paste in here:

"THE FEED 09/14 12:00 A.M.
End of the World Watch
Scotland Yard stops plan to sell ‘virgins’ to wealthy Arabs in London"

Inside, we see:

"Scotland Yard Ends Plot to Sell Virgins to Wealthy Arabs
[ VIA: DAILY MAIL ] A prostitution ring plotted to make up to £50,000 by selling the ‘virginities’ of young girls to wealthy Arabs, it can be revealed tonight."
http://www.nationalreview.com/the-feed/246449/scotland-yard-ends-plot-sell-virgins-wealthy-arabs

Pretty ugly, those muslim/arab scums, no?

And I'm positive that tomorrow the NRO will carry another story like this one...

"These people represent a continuing issue in Israel. They are the well scrubbed representatives of Israel’s booming $1 billion sex trade industry. When they walk into your hotel room, their appearance, intelligence and friendly demeanor might make you think that they are simply college students earning extra money for school books. After parting with a not insignificant sum of money and being serviced by one of these libertines, you might assuage your guilt by thinking that you’ve somehow helped.

You haven’t. Not really. See not only are Marina, Natalia and Irina Israeli sex trade workers. They’re also slaves."
http://www.jewlicious.com/2006/04/because-we-were-slaves-israels-sex-trade/

Posted by: bernielatham | September 14, 2010 8:46 AM | Report abuse

From the annals of "Principle? Schminciple!"

Dick Armey and the Weekly Standard agree. Under a photo of O'Donnell at this morning's front page we read:

"Christine O'Donnell may win today, but she can't win in November."

And over on the left of that photo:

"Citing "Mental Anguish," Christine O'Donnell Sought $6.9 Million in Gender Discrimination Lawsuit Against Conservative Group
...and falsely implied she was taking master's degree classes at Princeton.
BY JOHN MCCORMACK"

Posted by: bernielatham | September 14, 2010 8:54 AM | Report abuse

RE: Senate, don't forget that in addition to running the table on those 10 Dem seats, the GOP would have to fend off close races where Dems could pick up seats:

FL, NH, OH, KY, and even AK

Great work on the tax cut issue Greg, imho you ask all the right questions! Ill be watching pretty closely.

My offer from last night still stands. If ANY Republican, Indie or Dem can propose specific spending cuts and include some factual reasoning as to why those cuts will be good for America, I'd like to hear them. SPECIFIC cuts! And please do factor in both the Pros and Cons of making those cuts. For example, last night Brigade suggested eliminating the Department of Education. When we discussed Pell Grants and how they help lower income families pay for college and how a college degree usually means less govt spending on that individual over the long term, the idea of getting rid of the whole department turned into "some cuts"... So, anyone else have any specific budget cut proposals or want to post here any specific proposals that's you've read? I'd like to see them.

Sorry in advance for the double-post, it always happens when I post via blackberry. Apologies.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | September 14, 2010 8:57 AM | Report abuse

RE: Senate, don't forget that in addition to running the table on those 10 Dem seats, the GOP would have to fend off close races where Dems could pick up seats:

FL, NH, OH, KY, and even AK

Great work on the tax cut issue Greg, imho you ask all the right questions! Ill be watching pretty closely.

My offer from last night still stands. If ANY Republican, Indie or Dem can propose specific spending cuts and include some factual reasoning as to why those cuts will be good for America, I'd like to hear them. SPECIFIC cuts! And please do factor in both the Pros and Cons of making those cuts. For example, last night Brigade suggested eliminating the Department of Education. When we discussed Pell Grants and how they help lower income families pay for college and how a college degree usually means less govt spending on that individual over the long term, the idea of getting rid of the whole department turned into "some cuts"... So, anyone else have any specific budget cut proposals or want to post here any specific proposals that's you've read? I'd like to see them.

Sorry in advance for the double-post, it always happens when I post via blackberry. Apologies.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | September 14, 2010 8:57 AM | Report abuse

Greg has made much of Sharron Angle's candidacy and IMHO justifiably so...she is a wack job running for the U.S. Senate!!!

However Angle is far from the worst or most dangerous candidate the R's are fielding.

Admittedly I'm only talking about the Governorship of Florida...not a Senate seat...but still an important position with some national ramifications as well..our current Governor is running for the Senate...it's an obvious launching point for Senate or even Presidential aspirants.

The R's have nominated one of the most despicable sleaze balls to ever secure such a nomination for a position of this magnitude. Really...the R's have outdone themselves...Party of the Rich...are you kidding..only morons cannot see that connection...party of the Robber barons..are you kidding..check out Rick Scott.

http://www.whatisrickscotthiding.com/

Click through the headings and you will be amazed that even the Florida R's...their last speaker of the Florida House...under indictment...their last party chairman...under indictment...people like Rubio quadrupling his income during his tenure as House Speaker...seriously folks you have to be an idiot to support these kind of theives.

Having said all of that...RICK SCOTT TAKE THE CAKE...THE LARGEST SLEAZEBALL IN AMERICAN POLITICS TODAY.

If that's hyperbole somebody try and match his record!

Posted by: rukidding7 | September 14, 2010 9:02 AM | Report abuse

"I don't think I've seen anything on this in the US press but America has just approved the largest weapons sale ever - $60 billion - to Saudi Arabia..."

And this begs a question Bernie. Somehow we have...well not we...Newt..Sister Sarah and the LOONS on the right..have conflated a criminal conspiracy conducted by 19 ARABS...organized by a couple hundred more ARABS hiding in a 3rd world nation, into a "war with Islam" Consider if not all..the vast majority of those 19 attackers on 9/11 were from SAUDI ARABIA...why are we at war with Islam instead of Saudi Arabia?

I'm certainly not advocating such a war, but then I'm not a supporter of a war with Islam either. I post this to show the stupidity of the Mosque opponents as well as Newt...although in his case I don't think it's stupidity as much as the most disgusting form of political expediency and self promotion. If you're looking for a common thread among the 9/11 conspirators...it's their Arab connection and even more specifically their Saudi roots.

If you must hate...could you at least hate the right people? But no we sell them 60 billion in weapons. Who needs that clean energy alternative since global warming is a hoax and we enjoy dropping to our knees to service the first Saudi who offers us his oil?

Posted by: rukidding7 | September 14, 2010 9:13 AM | Report abuse

Greg writes: "Can Sarah Palin save the Democratic majority? Glenn Greenwald skewers the Dem strategy of elevating the 'Cuda as the best way to energize the base.

Dare we suggest a vote on the middle class tax cuts, and bold stands on matters like the Warren nomination and the tax cuts for the rich, might prove a bit more effective in this regard?"

Or, we could follow the model set by Republicans over the last two or three decades and do all the above at the same time.

Posted by: bernielatham | September 14, 2010 9:18 AM | Report abuse

Pretty stunning Greenwald would suggest candidates run on a feel good election when his blog is dedicated to highlighting everything that is wrong on a daily basis. I'm not suggesting what he's doing is wrong. On the contrary, I think what he does is very important. I can't imagine Greenwald being driven by feeling good about a person. His entire shtick is to find faults in a person. He would ignore the positives and pick out the negatives and highlight them primarily as the focal point of his articles.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | September 14, 2010 9:42 AM | Report abuse

Brinksmanship? If so, it's only because the Democrats made it so. This could be easily addressed by just stating that the Bush tax cuts are being allowed to expire and a new package of cuts are being introduced by the Democrats.

But then they might win, so I'm pretty sure they won't do that.

I'm about to the point where if they cave on this one - an issue that if simply played right would hold their majorities in Congress for them - I can't see much point in bothering with voting. If the tax cuts for the people we just bailed out end up being extended, it will only be because that's what the Democrats favored all along, and everything else has been kabuki.

Enough. I don't vote for parties that play their supporters for fools, which is one reason I don't vote Republican. I might be on the verge of not voting Democratic, either.

Posted by: JennOfArk | September 14, 2010 9:42 AM | Report abuse

Good morning to you all.

A Must Read From The Onion.
It will brighten your day.

"Nation Once Again Comes Under Sway Of Pink-Faced Half-Wit"

http://www.theonion.com/articles/nation-once-again-comes-under-sway-of-pinkfaced-ha,18076/

Posted by: Liam-still | September 14, 2010 9:45 AM | Report abuse

@ru - A recent news item revealed that arms sales have fallen recently. I doubt that's of much relevance to the sale noted above but it's a reminder that arms sales by the US are a mercantile enterprise and as such will have a tendency to operate in the manner of any mercantile enterprise - profits must go up (or at least not fall). It's an ugly business and the US is up to its eyeballs in this business.

But aside from that, there is no logical or moral consistency as you suggest other than in an over-arching strategy to maintain access to the middle east oil fields. Nothing new here, of course. Nations with big navies have always plied whatever convenient course was available (supporting repressive regimes, over-turning democratically elected governments, assassinations, etc) in order to gain or retain access to resources which that nation's operations require. All the good/evil propaganda is cover story or justification.

Posted by: bernielatham | September 14, 2010 9:48 AM | Report abuse

"One reason Dems might not hold this vote: It would make life uncomfy for poor Blue Dog Dems who might get tarred by Republicans for raising taxes. Or something."
--------------------------------------------

Ahem. It's worth remembering that generally speaking, those "poor Blue Dog Dems" ARE the ones at risk of losing their seats -- and with them, the Democratic majority(s) in congress, without out which it frankly doesn't matter much HOW progressive whoever is left may be. Why is that such a hard concept for some people to grasp?

As always, 85-90% of the congress is safe as milk. Virtually all the action will be in the places where Blue Dogs come from. And for the record, since the ~reason~ that things like taxes going up are a problem for some of the Blue Dogs is that they run contrary to prevailing attitudes in the areas where they come from. And since most of them actually hail from those very same areas themselves, it's not really a given that everyone who disagrees with you does so out of fear in all cases... oh, what's the use.

Posted by: CalD | September 14, 2010 9:52 AM | Report abuse

@Jenn I hear you loud and clear and share your disgust. I agree 100% with your post..EXCEPT..for the part about staying home election day.

Maureen Dowd wrote an interesting oped this week about her sister Peggy...and Obamican...an R who voted for O, that further illustrates your point Jenn.

O has lost Peggy an R for exactly the same reason he has made you and I disaffected Jenn. Peggy wanted to see him ram through some genuine HCR right at the start when he had 60 seats and public opinion behind him.

Peggy a Republican is upset with Obama not because he has taken a hard left turn (what a joke descriptor for idiots) but precisely because HE DIDN'T. Peggy an R wanted to Obama LEAD not wuss out by trying to compromise with people who put party above country..people like Sen Jim Demented and his famous "Obama's Waterloo" approach to one of the MAJOR problems facing our nation.

Still Jenn I hope you vote. I'm voting and sending cash to folks like Alex Sink, I'm going to put her sign in my yard. And I'll vote a straight D ticket with the possible exception of Charlie Crist I. It's anybody but Marco for me and so I'll select either Crist or Meeks depending on who has the best chance of stopping this tea party fraud.

Ya gotta vote Jenn...again please go to this link and click around and see what kind of candidates the R's are trying to foist on the ignoramuses in our population.

http://www.whatisrickscotthiding.com/

Posted by: rukidding7 | September 14, 2010 9:55 AM | Report abuse

Yes indeed. 48 house democrats are trying to keep their seats, in Districts that were carried by Bush/Palin.

Lose those seats, and the Republicans take over the House.

Posted by: Liam-still | September 14, 2010 9:56 AM | Report abuse

"It would be hard to imagine a more powerful, pointed, passionate rebuke to Al Qaeda's brand of twisted Islamism than for an open-hearted cultural and religious institution representing the tolerant, democratic Muslims of New York to be part of the risen World Trade Center."

Oh, for pete's sake. Yeah, I can imagine a more powerful rebuke: two great big tall towers, each a few stories higher than the old WTC towers, where Americans do business (and as many mosques can rent out space as can pay the rent), go to work, sell and buy crap, etc.

I'm pretty sure this isn't a philosophy Hendrik Hertzberg would apply in, say, congress. "The only way to respond to the outrageous and hateful demagoguery of the Republicans is to implement all their legislation, but with a much better attitude." Although, come to think of it, that is kind of what some of the Democrats are doing. Hmmm.

Anyhow, the most powerful rebuke (one I don't think is really any more likely, unfortunately) is to go back to doing what we were doing before, as soon as possible (too late for that), and maybe just a little bit bigger and better. Just to make the point.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | September 14, 2010 10:02 AM | Report abuse

Liam...thank for the link to the Onion piece.

I don't know which I enjoyed more...the cataloging of all the "pink faced dimwits"

or the title of the book...

"Frothing, Shouting Dim-Bulbs: An American Tradition"

I think an excellent companion book might be one about "Frothing, Shouting, Panderers, An American Tradition"

I mean where do we place the Newt in all of this? He was a professor and IMHO not a dim bulb...which is why I consider him far more despicable than Beck/Limbaugh/Palin.

Posted by: rukidding7 | September 14, 2010 10:06 AM | Report abuse

Uh, sorry, Blue Dog vulnerability doesn't cover this. That could be handled - still - by the president announcing that he won't sign any bill that includes tax cuts for the people whose butts the bailout saved. And he should frame it that way, too.

Then, the Blue Dogs aren't on the spot. It's not as if there are hordes of wealthy voters in their districts who will show up to vote them out anyway, so I don't really buy it to begin with, but if it were, this would take the onus off of them.

Then they are only being asked one question: tax cuts for 98% of workers - yea or nay?

I think most of you guys missed my post last night on another reason these tax cuts should be allowed to expire, so here it is, slightly edited:

Here's another reason not to extend tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans: they were the ones who most benefitted from all the government bailouts. Not just the rich bankers; people in the top few percent also own most of the stocks and other financial instruments, all of which would have been wiped out without TARP. Their fat got pulled out of the fire, while it fell to mostly middle and lower-income people to find themselves unemployed in the fallout or to lose a home, go through life savings while looking for work, etc etc etc.

I'd say that the almost $800 billion spent in TARP that allowed them to hold onto their wealth in return for $660 billion repaid via slightly higher (though still historically very low) marginal tax rates over the next decade is a sweetheart of a deal.

The only reason anyone wouldn't see it as such would be because they think someone else ought to have to pay for what it cost to clean up the mess - to their benefit more than anyone else's - or they continue to think it's a privilege for the little people to be given the opportunity to help them hold on to their fortunes.

Posted by: JennOfArk | September 14, 2010 10:10 AM | Report abuse

A few weeks back, there was some discussion on this board about why it seems to be so hard in general for liberals (progressives, whatever) to take any real joy -- or sometimes even acknowledge any real value -- in even pretty significant legislative victories. I was browsing through OpenLeft last night and I happened to run across a link to an article that illuminated something I was trying to get at a lot more eloquently than I could at the time.

Just wanted to share this excerpt FWIW:

"Many such subcultures–consciously or not–prize their own marginalization. If society is unjust, then our justice-oriented narratives are reaffirmed when we are rejected by society (or more accurately, portions of society). If society is bad, then marginalization in society is good. We tell each other stories of how we were ostracized in this or that group, how we’re the outcast in our family, how we were the only revolutionary in a group of reformists, etc. We swim in our own marginalization. This is the story of the righteous few.

"One of the largest barriers to strategic thought and action in many U.S. social movements today is that, in the story of the righteous few, success itself is suspect. If a group or individual is embraced by a significant enough portion of society, it must be because they are not truly revolutionary or because their message has been “watered down,” rather than because they’ve organized or communicated their message effectively.

"Here we see the importance of checking our narratives for faulty components. If we allow the story of the righteous few to hold a place in our narratives, then our social change efforts are likely to be greatly hindered by a general mentality to separate and distinguish ourselves from society and to retreat from success. "

http://beyondthechoir.org/uncategorized/what-prevents-radicals-2

Posted by: CalD | September 14, 2010 10:16 AM | Report abuse

Jenn,

Late us no jump the gun. Keep in mind that what Boehner said on Sunday, changed everything, so of course the Democrats, who just returned to DC, would have to caucus, and discuss what their next move would be. Give them at least forty eight hours, to talk to each other.

I would rather that they figured out, in private, if they have the votes, or not, rather than just give an immediate knee jerk reaction to what Boehner said. After all, he might have been just setting a trap for them, knowing that Blue Dogs would have a hard time voting for the bill, before election day, and I doubt if he could or would deliver any Republican votes for the middle class tax cuts, only.

This is not as easy to pull off, as some people think it would be.

I have full confidence in the judgment and leadership skills of Speaker Pelosi. I will never believe that she would ever engage in just deceiving us. I will go along with what ever she decides can or can not be done, at this time.

Posted by: Liam-still | September 14, 2010 10:23 AM | Report abuse

edit:

Let us not...

Posted by: Liam-still | September 14, 2010 10:26 AM | Report abuse

@Ethan2010: "If ANY Republican, Indie or Dem can propose specific spending cuts and include some factual reasoning as to why those cuts will be good for America, I'd like to hear them. SPECIFIC cuts!"

Isn't that sort of asking someone to diagnose an illness via email?

If you're serious about cutting, you want to cut--first and foremost--waste and fraud. Waste can take many forms, but duplication of effort is one, lack of standardization might be another, no-bid contracts might be a third, etc. Fraud requires detection and prevention, which requires auditing. Given the size of the government, if would probably require an audit just to determine what agencies/elements need to be audited. And so on.

Identifying what specifically needs to be eliminated and needs to be consolidated is a job for people in the government, unfortunately. That's a boots-on-the-ground task. I say unfortunately, because when you're on the ground, the arguments for why the government needs to keep paying the buggy whip subsidy to disenfranchised buggy whip manufacturers makes a lot more sense. So, it's a conundrum. It's not a challenge with an easy, specific answer.

I think we could do without the Department of Homeland Security, and probably without Medicare Part D (never a big fan of that, myself). But maybe I'm wrong. I think we could cut corporate welfare, subsidies to agribusiness, what we spend on foreign aid (what, Israel needs the money more than we do?). And we could arbitrarily fire half the State Department and 3/4ths of the MMS and probably not have either of those agency do any worse than they've already done.

We could potentially trim the defense budget. There's a lot of money there. Admittedly, a lot of that goes to technology and medical research, but there's still a lot of money there.

Pork, earmarks, stimulus packages could all potentially be trimmed back, if you're of the school that thinks TARP and stimulus didn't really deliver the promised bang for the buck, and that legislation should be about the legislation, not an excuse to tack on an endless supply of pork for constituents.

But, not being on the front lines, I don't know for sure what would be best to cut, or where it would be best to simply curtail the rate of growth (as many agencies benefit from arbitrary, year-over-year increases in funding, which is a nice gig if you can get it, but expenses always seem to rise to meet funding, so perhaps other funding strategies could be considered).

That being said, the topic seems a moot one to me. Democrats aren't going to seriously trim the budget, and neither will Republicans.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | September 14, 2010 10:27 AM | Report abuse

August retail sales up 0.4 pct., best in 5 months

Retail sales rose in August by the largest amount in five months, adding to evidence that a late spring economic swoon was temporary and not the start of another recession.

Retail sales rose 0.4 percent last month, the best advance since March, the Commerce Department said Tuesday. Excluding a big decline in autos, retail sales increased 0.6 percent. That's double the amount economists had expected.

The strength came in a number of areas from department stores to clothing stores and sporting goods outlets. The advance was the latest indication that the economy is regaining its footing after a dismal spring.

In a separate report, Best Buy said its fiscal second-quarter net income rose 60 percent. Shoppers bought cell phones, appliances and tablet computers. The results exceeded analysts' expectations.

http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/news/2010/09/august_retail_sales_up_04_pct_best_in_5_months.php

Excellent economic news.

We are on the right track thanks to the efforts of the President and Dem majority.

We NEED NEED NEED that small biz lending program in place NOW NOW NOW.

A shame it's been on hold since JUNE while Republicans complain that they can't add non-germane amendments.

PASS. IT. NOW. Talking to YOU Republicans.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | September 14, 2010 10:27 AM | Report abuse

The Obama Tax Increase Debate

Take a look at this debate - the democrats are destroying their credibility -


Are the democrats placing the economic health of the nation above all else???


OR are the democrats primarily concerned with trying to make the Repubicans look bad -


OR afraid of looking bad themselves????

The whole thing is politics - the democrats look horrible.


The democrats are in the majority - the public knows that.

.


Posted by: SaveTheRainforest | September 14, 2010 10:29 AM | Report abuse

CalD, I also think a large part of it is many of the progressive 'leaders' that are writing on blogs and in msm articles have been writing anti-establishment style articles for a couple decades now, be in when Republicans held the WH and Congress or when they controlled only the Congress much of the 90's. Now that Dems held everything, they no longer had an easy target for their writing so they began to blame their lack of progress on the ruling class which happened to be the Democrats. Many Democrats including those in the WH quickly became targets of daily articles highlighting every instance of elements of agenda's they were pushing that were being blocked from the those in power, even if it was only a compromise to get the majority of what they wanted passed. Every compromise was a compromise of what the progressives felt was essential to good legislation and without those pieces, the legislation was no longer good.

The perfect became the enemy of the good and just a handful of the Democrats were preventing the perfect from happening hence they became the target. Forget the fact Republicans stood 100% against most everything progressive. They are no longer in power therefore they were no longer the target.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | September 14, 2010 10:30 AM | Report abuse

That being said, the topic seems a moot one to me. Democrats aren't going to seriously trim the budget, and neither will Republicans.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | September 14, 2010 10:27 AM |
....................

Of course that only becomes a concern, when a political party decides to bust the budget, by giving tax cuts to people who do not need them, and who became very wealthy, before they were given the Bush Tax cuts.


We did not have to worry much about the spending side of it, if Republicans had just stayed on the Annual Budget Surplus trajectory, that had been handed over to them.

Posted by: Liam-still | September 14, 2010 10:32 AM | Report abuse

Republicrats and Demicans. So many drones. What is happening to us as a country? Can we no longer think for ourselves? Must we let others con us out of money for a vote for their own personal gain? We used to be united and yet we continue to believe in this two party charade that is played out on tv everyday. There are more important things in life than an R or a D. THEY BOTH ARE TO BLAME. And we all are to blame for not voting people out the first time they lie to us, their constituents. Men will always fall prey to greed and power because we are all imperfect and make mistakes. As far as taxes go? I have never gotten a job from a poor person. Like it or hate it the rich produce goods and services and HIRE people to carry them out. The only thing the government seems to create is less freedom and more dependency. Government through its many programs of taking from the few to give to the many is destroying what has made us great. Everyone has 1 vote. Who wouldn't say they were fighting for the working man? Not doing that would be political suicide. Does anyone stand for anything anymore? Maybe this is part of our problem. Stand for nothing and u will truly fall for anything. They LOBBY to the masses and many serve only themselves. I cannot imagine the pressure they are continually under when every decision they make affects millions of people. We can no longer vote for people who cannot stand firm on principle. Who is serving who in our REPUBLIC? (See national anthem. I think it still says something about a republic in there.) GOVERNMENT DOES NOT PAY THE BILL. GOVERNMENT IS THE BILL.

Posted by: americawakeup45 | September 14, 2010 10:34 AM | Report abuse

"ONWARD AND DOWNWARD

Dems preemptively moving to compromise on tax cut politics? It appears House Democrats may be moving toward accepting half a loaf on the policy front in exchange for conceding the politics to the GOP."

--Josh Marshall

We are about to find out how Stupid and Spineless works as a political strategy. Can we at least agree that if the Democrats get massacred they should, you know, reconsider their approach?

Posted by: wbgonne | September 14, 2010 10:35 AM | Report abuse

@CalD: ""Many such subcultures–consciously or not–prize their own marginalization. If society is unjust, then our justice-oriented narratives are reaffirmed when we are rejected by society (or more accurately, portions of society). If society is bad, then marginalization in society is good."

Very good stuff. I would also say That's why such subcultures don't feel an obligation to make their case or dialog with "the sheeple". The selectiveness of their ideological clique makes them special, and compromise--or even a frank dialog--threatens to take that away. It's no fun to be so much better than "the sheeple" if, by talking to the sheeple, it turns out they aren't so much different than you.

Fortunately for the self-image of such folks, there are always similarly marginalized souls on the other side ready to call names and inject invective, and speak in broad, absolute terms about everything. Thus each side reinforces the other's image of being in a special, quasi-marginalized clique that is clearly distinct and superior to the thoughtless bleating of the mind-numbed, Kool Aid drinking other.

I was up working until midnight last night, and was awakened at 3 by my youngest barfing on me, so if I'm rambling, it's because sleep deprivation makes me believe I'm much smarter and more coherent than I actually am.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | September 14, 2010 10:36 AM | Report abuse

Based on CalD, Mikefrom Arlington, and Liam, I guess the answer to my query is no. Democrats will learn absolutely nothing when they get trounced. I correct myself: Democrats will "learn" to be even more Stupid and even more Spineless. Mentally challenged jellyfish unite!

Posted by: wbgonne | September 14, 2010 10:42 AM | Report abuse

Great post Kevin, thanks for taking my question seriously.

If you come across any articles that highlight duplicative efforts, waste, fraud, and abuse in govt, I'd love to see them.

I agree with your comments that we could certainly cut corporate welfare, ag subsidies and some foreign aid.

I would also like to see an end to oil/gas industry subsidies and tax breaks.

Here is a treasure trove of waste in Ag Subsidies from 2006 era:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/nation/interactives/farmaid/

A couple of more recent articles about Obama attacking farm subsidies:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704107204575039191591804702.html

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/washingtonpostinvestigations/2009/02/obama_targets_farm_subsidies_a.html

http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/10_36/b4193024598247.htm

All good articles.

Looks like, um, Obama IS cutting spending.

I like this cutting spending stuff.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | September 14, 2010 10:43 AM | Report abuse

I know it's only Esquire, but this is a great piece on D'Souza and why Repubs lie:

http://www.esquire.com/blogs/politics/dinesh-d-souza-091310

Posted by: BGinCHI | September 14, 2010 10:43 AM | Report abuse

The American People really do not care about the fight over the taxes - they care about the unemployment rate.


The democrats STILL do not understand this - they just don't care either. The democrats would rather make the Republicans look bad than put together a sound economic program.


This is the problem in government today - there are a bunch of bad guys in the room, with horrible motives - who are making a mess of out of things every chance they get.


Bill Clinton was on today with a soundbite - "We have only had 21 months to fix the economy"


What a laugh - what about those Free Trade deals, Mr. Clinton?

What about YOU repealing the Glass Steagall Act?


What about YOU deregulating the derivatives markets???


What about YOUR crew over at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac??


Did you forget the democrats have had control of Congress for 4 years???

Bill Clinton DID ENOUGH DAMAGE TO THE ECONOMY - his little sound bite is the biggest joke in decades.

.

Posted by: SaveTheRainforest | September 14, 2010 10:45 AM | Report abuse

Two more interesting farm subsidies articles:

http://blogs.desmoinesregister.com/dmr/index.php/2010/05/13/isu-economist-suggests-farm-subsidy-overhaul/

http://newsok.com/u.s.-rep.-frank-lucas-sees-danger-in-obama-farm-bill/article/3455812

The second one has a rural Republican arguing for continuation of artificial "price supports"... aka Federal agriculture subsidies.

If you are a conservative in rural areas, please contact your representatives and Senators and ask them to support state and local regional food initiatives INSTEAD of artificial ag subsidies provided by the Federal Big Govt. Thx.

These are the REAL ISSUES we need to be discussing on a regular basis.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | September 14, 2010 10:52 AM | Report abuse

a vote on the Bush tax cuts would be "pro active", aggressive and a positive sign to voters that Ds are grownups and know how to govern.

It should be framed as giving across the board tax cuts, b/c even the top 3% will be getting a tax cut on the incomes below $255,000.

This vote will never happen in the House b/c Ds seem to want to run scared an cautious rather than thinking bold and delivering a powerful message to the middle class, independents, and the investor class of voters imho. Incidentally Ds could also say they will hold a separate vote on tax cuts for the tope 3% during the lame duck Dec session.

Posted by: leichtman1 | September 14, 2010 10:53 AM | Report abuse

Mike from Arlington


Do you feel better today?

Or are you going to come on with some silly argument - and then pretend to have some data to back up your incorrect point?


And then when you are called on it - you still don't concede - you start to get nasty ???


And then you start to be deceptive about what is in your own link ???


Is that your plan for today too ???


Just asking.


.

Posted by: SaveTheRainforest | September 14, 2010 10:54 AM | Report abuse

was up working until midnight last night, and was awakened at 3 by my youngest barfing on me, so if I'm rambling, it's because sleep deprivation makes me believe I'm much smarter and more coherent than I actually am.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | September 14, 2010 10:36 AM
................

You are doing just fine, lad. I have never seen you more coherent. The kid throwing up on you seems to have helped.

Could you possible arrange to have your child throw up on STRF? It couldn't hurt.

Posted by: Liam-still | September 14, 2010 10:55 AM | Report abuse

I think a couple of people linked to the series at Slate by Timothy Noah, "The United States of Inequality", and I'm wondering if anyone here is following it. I haven't finished getting caught up with his posts yet but am finding it fascinating.

He just put up number 7 today. It's definitely worth a read if you're concerned about our shrinking middle class. I'm looking forward to reading his conclusions and I think there will be a lot of fodder for debate and maybe even consensus when he's finished.

http://www.slate.com/id/2266025/entry/2266026

Posted by: lmsinca | September 14, 2010 11:02 AM | Report abuse

Hi lmsinca!

Sorry I didn't respond to your post last night about the bipartisan effort at cutting spending. I read what you posted, great stuff. I'd love to see more of this.

Myth: Dems only increase spending.

Reality: Dems love cutting spending.

It's called prioritization of the outlay of Federal taxpayer dollars! This truly could be -- and SHOULD be -- a bipartisan effort.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | September 14, 2010 11:06 AM | Report abuse

@Ethan2010: "Looks like, um, Obama IS cutting spending. I like this cutting spending stuff."

Me too. In the end, it has to be the politicians who make the decisions (or blue ribbon commissions) because they are closest to it, and can make the real arguments about what is wasteful, what is worthwhile, what should be prioritized, and what should be consolidated.

The larger point is that anyone who has had to deal with a radical decrease in income (which I have had to do, several times in my life thus far) knows that you can learn to get by on less, often much less than you think. It makes sense that in any large bureaucracy, there is spending and programs that can be trimmed and/or consolidated, and that it's a good idea to do so on an ongoing basis--sort of on ongoing housecleaning. A regular trimming (like a shave and a haircut) should be a normal part of the management process.

Historically, Republicans have very little credibility on cutting spending. To be perfectly blunt. Democrats talk like Republicans are planning on cutting Medicare and Social Security, but the fact is, they don't cut anything. They just end up spending more. Cuz it's Other People's Money, and spending Other People's Money is fun.

I was going to mention, as evidence that there is always something that can be cut in government, that Bill Clinton cut (I believe) the Tea Taster's Board and the Naval Dairy Farm (which, until he announced they were cut, I had had no idea even existed). After which he said, "The era of Big Government is over!" Which was kind of funny. But I am not at the moment aware of a Republican (since George H.W. started / cooperated with the starting of the "base closing" commissions) that cut even that much in the modern era.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | September 14, 2010 11:06 AM | Report abuse

The Stimulus

Obama and the democrats simply do not realize how damaging the Stimulus is/was to their position in the country.

Somehow - without the media paying much attention - Obama destroyed ALL his credibiliy on the economy.

This was an "unforced error" - to take a tennis term.


Clearly - the issue of jobs came up with the debate over the Stimulus last year - and Obama responded that he would have a "Jobs-Tracking Website" - to PROVE to the American People that he was keeping his pledge to have the Stimulus be aimed at jobs creation.

Obama gained credibility when he brought up the website - and the assurances - the nation thought - OK, we will trust Obama if he has the website.


WELL, the next thing the nation sees is Obama in front of Congress - dissing the economic issues - saying he "didn't come to Washington" to be distracted by the economy - and Obama wanted to do "big things."


Meanwhile, Obama's website wasn't showing too many jobs, was FULL OF ERRORS - and eventually Obama's people said they weren't going to update Obama's website anymore.


DOES ANYONE REALIZE WHAT THAT DID TO OBAMA'S CREDIBILITY ???


Obama campaigns on transparency - and asks for $800 BILLION dollars - pledging a website so everyone KNEW where the money was going - and then OBAMA DROPS THE WEBSITE.


Obama destroyed his OWN credibility -


And then Bill Clinton complains that Obama had ONLY 21 MONTHS and $800 BILLION DOLLARS - and that isn't enough.


It really is ridiculous - this is not political debate - it is absolutely the most outrageous thing ever.


.


.

Posted by: SaveTheRainforest | September 14, 2010 11:09 AM | Report abuse

Thanks, Kevin, for your utterly refreshing intellectual honesty. It's almost too much for me to handle.

I'll try to keep on the spending cuts issue.

Frankly, it's fun stuff for me. I must have been an accountant in a former life. Cheers.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | September 14, 2010 11:10 AM | Report abuse


I know it's only Esquire, but this is a great piece on D'Souza and why Repubs lie:

http://www.esquire.com/blogs/politics/dinesh-d-souza-091310
.............

Thanks for the link to the article.

I was up late last night, and caught an interview of Paul Ryan by Charlie Rose. If you did not see it, you can find a video of it, on the PBS website, later this morning.


The thing that struck me about Paul Ryan's fiscal plan is: he has incorporated just about everything that Republicans claim they want to implement, in his plan, but not one of his colleagues has been willing to co-sponsor his proposed bill.

Posted by: BGinCHI | September 14, 2010 10:43 AM |

Posted by: Liam-still | September 14, 2010 11:11 AM | Report abuse

I follow local politics and spending very closely here in CA for obvious reasons. What we're discovering here are a lot of abuses by State and Federal employees at the top end of the pay scale.

It's convenient to demonize government workers as being over paid and over pensioned but the reality is that the few at the top are gaming the system. There's a lot of room for crackdown of wasted taxpayer dollars there.

When the economy is shrinking I think everyone becomes more vigilant in finding where the waste is occurring and I hope to see a more streamlined budget, state and federal, but one that doesn't try to correct past mistakes by all on the backs of seniors, vets or students.

Posted by: lmsinca | September 14, 2010 11:18 AM | Report abuse

@ mikefromArlington | September 14, 2010 10:30 AM:

That's a point. There's definitely an element of force of habit and the classic Golden Hammer organizational anti-pattern (when the only tool you own is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail) in some cases.

And of course a lot of these guys still spent half at least their time attacking Democrats when Republicans were in power. It's always a cherished myth of radicals of all stripes that their ideology can only fail when it's practiced with insufficient purity and that any concession to pragmatism or compromise therefore = selling out. Numbers, or the notion that two people can disagree on something without one of them necessarily being evil incarnate, don't enter into their equation in any way. But for a lot of the rest of us, I swear I often think that if we didn't have the man to keeps us down, we'd have to invent him.

Posted by: CalD | September 14, 2010 11:18 AM | Report abuse

All, check this out -- we now have SIX national polls showing strong support for ending tax cuts for rich:

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/plum-line/2010/09/a_sixth_national_poll_shows_ma.html

Posted by: Greg Sargent | September 14, 2010 11:22 AM | Report abuse

@ Kevin_Willis | September 14, 2010 10:36 AM:

Another good point. I think at the point where someone is talking about "sheeple" though, you're basically looking a hater. And hatred of course is the most addictive substance on earth. It's no surprise that an addict doesn't want to give up an addiction. If it were easy, there wouldn't be addicts.

Posted by: CalD | September 14, 2010 11:27 AM | Report abuse

What is WRONG with Obama and this admistration ???


All the American Public hears is a fight over "millionaires and billionaires" - and the 259K tax bracket - and who is going to have a TAX INCREASE and who isn't.

The American People turn around and say -
OBAMA WHAT IS YOUR PLAN FOR JOB CREATION ???


Obama keeps on going OFF on his own little narrow-minded silly issue - when the ECONOMIC ISSUE IS JOBS.

Obama is off on his socialist - class warfare ridiculous - "lets make the Republicans look bad" ideas.

This looks like the Financial Regulation bill negotiations - Obama seemed MORE concerned with holding votes to make the Republicans look bad - NOT writing a sound bill.


Obama and the administration LOOK HORRIBLE with all these partisan games.


Obama was elected to be bipartisan, NOT to play partisan games.


Obama promised to NOT play these partisan games - Obama gave up this avenue WHEN Obama campaigned on promises to be bipartisan.


Obama is destroying himself - again.


The liberals REFUSE to point this out to Obama - they are making the situation WORSE.


.

Posted by: SaveTheRainforest | September 14, 2010 11:29 AM | Report abuse

Greg

It doesn't matter what the polls say on the narrow issue of tax cuts.


What matters is Obama's overall approval rating on the economy - and whether Obama has a priority on sound economic growth policies.


Every minute the American Public hear Obama bickering about taxes for the rich, it hurts Obama on the major issue. The American People do not want to hear this dispute.


Obama is off again on some socialist-sounding class-warfare crap - when the overall economy suffers.

The polls on the narrow issue are not going to help ONE democrat get ONE vote in any election in the country. I shouldn't even be saying this because it helps Obama clean up his act.


Posted by: SaveTheRainforest | September 14, 2010 11:34 AM | Report abuse

@BGinCHI: "I know it's only Esquire, but this is a great piece on D'Souza and why Repubs lie:"

Note to self: take anything BGinCHI describes as "great" with a grain of salt.

Hannity taking a labor day speech quote about taxes out of context is far worse than Dan Rather using forged documents to completely concoct a bogus news story right before an election? Interesting.

"But while this theory provides a little consolation, I don't actually think it's true. Far more likely is theory No. 2 — that Republicans have lost all confidence in their ability to convince the American people with honest arguments. Their triumphalism about November conceals a stink of desperation."

Entitlement, maybe. Desperation? Sounds like a stretch.

"Conservatives have lost the culture war so completely... Their most celebrated evangelical politician — Sarah Palin — admits to premarital sex without a blush or an apology and nobody even notices"

Why does that surprise him? Is a he a prude or something? I mean, seriously. Cliches abound. Which, I guess, if you like to have your cliches about scary Others reinforced, does make it a great piece.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | September 14, 2010 11:47 AM | Report abuse

lmsinca

I saw some news reports about some village managers, in small fairly poor communities, being paid around 600K annually for doing almost nothing. Is that what you are referring to?

It sure does not speak well for all that home rule, let the locals run their own affairs, philosophy, that Republicans keep pushing for.

Posted by: Liam-still | September 14, 2010 11:49 AM | Report abuse

BTW: John H. Richardson at Esquire is the one lying. D'Souza's theory is NOT just based on the title of one of Obama's books (NASA, of all agencies, was given an order to "improve relations with the Muslim world" in addition to lots of other evidence). Too bad he falsely accuses D'Souza of lying:

http://www.esquire.com/blogs/politics/dinesh-d-souza-091310

Posted by: JakeD2 | September 14, 2010 11:56 AM | Report abuse

Liam, recently the city of Bell has come under considerable fire for outrageous salaries for one city manager and several council members. Once that report surfaced an audit was undertaken of other incorporated small cities throughout CA.

But more specifically, Riverside County big wigs are being investigated for numerous charges of what I call "riding the gravy train all the way to the bank". Not much sympathy from taxpayers when we have one of the worst unemployment rates and foreclosure problems in the entire state.

It seems to be a non-partisan issue of simple corruption and greed. While the hourly workers are being forced to lose income through furloughs and forced early retirements, it seems the upper level management has been enjoying an awful lot of perks. It's actually quite similar to some of the excess we see in private corporations. Power and greed tend to corrupt, not always, but in general.

Posted by: lmsinca | September 14, 2010 12:09 PM | Report abuse

Imsinca:

Did you see the latest AP report on wasteful spending in the stimulus / Gulf Coast clean-up efforts?

Posted by: JakeD2 | September 14, 2010 12:14 PM | Report abuse

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2010/09/13/129837334/during-oil-spill-white-house-paid-nola-media-consultant-18-000-ap-reports

Posted by: JakeD2 | September 14, 2010 12:15 PM | Report abuse

Palin/D'Souza 2012!!!

Posted by: JakeD2 | September 14, 2010 12:26 PM | Report abuse

It is becoming all too obvious that the Obstructionist Republican Party of No is determined to kill progress and relief for struggling families yet again here. The same way they fight, every one of them to stop the unemployed from getting a check. The Republicans will fight for their HUGE tax cuts for the wealthy and end up sabotaging the tax cuts for the average middle class American with their filibuster when these cuts expire all together for everyone due to this rampant Republican greed. So go right ahead and vote for the Republicans in November stupid people, don't say the smartest among us didn't warn you. Here I will say it RIGHT NOW, when the Republicans some of you plan on voting for get elected and then screw you over the same way they did under that pinhead Bush, remember these words -- What did you think they were going to do?!

Posted by: Hillary08 | September 14, 2010 12:45 PM | Report abuse

@CalD: "I think at the point where someone is talking about "sheeple" though, you're basically looking a hater. And hatred of course is the most addictive substance on earth"

Maybe, but I think the attraction doesn't lie so much in the hate as in the personal elevation of the person and his or like-minded clique over the unfortunate, brain-dead masses that, alas, cannot be as smart or as enlightened as them. I think insult and invective is a tool in the tool box, but it's about maintaining a self-flattering world view that (a) my opinion is so right, and important, that my yelling about it and calling people names is entirely justified and (b) I am so awesome and smart that your very inferior existence offends me, yet I am repeatedly drawn to acrimonious interaction with you which allows me the opportunity to publicly berate you and beat my chest. I refer you to the talkbacks at Aintitcoolnews.com for constant examples of this behavior. ;)

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | September 14, 2010 12:46 PM | Report abuse

let the blue dog dems be uncomfortable. i am sure they raised enough money being the stumbling blocks for obamacare during the house committee meetings, or maybe even during the financial bailout hearings.

now use all that money and see if it does save you. i have little sympathy for democrats pretending to be democrats.

Posted by: eriklontok | September 14, 2010 1:39 PM | Report abuse

Re: Islamaphobia: the Amarillo thwarted Koran burner has a day job at a nuclear facility: http://amarilloindy.com/wordpress/?p=7481

Posted by: dozas | September 14, 2010 3:01 PM | Report abuse

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