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Undernews: November 29, 2012

Undernews: November 29, 2012

Since 1964, the news while there's still time to do something about it


Thursday morning line

Sam Smith - Here's an idea. Instead of raising the entry age of Social Security and Medicare recipients, why not decrease the exit age of useless wars? The two big ones - Iraq and Afghanistan - have cost us $1.4 trillion since 2001 and that doesn't even include the cost of all of General Petraeus' medals. But while the capital elite and its embedded media are happy to take money away from old folks, they don't even mention the exorbitant waste of the Pentagon.

Instead of worshiping Hillary Clinton, the only First Lady to be investigated by a grand jury and who has helped push us towards the cliff by backing the futile Afghan War, liberals should ask themselves why so little honor has been given three women who tried to stop the Great Recession: Sheila Bair, Brooksley Born and Elizabeth Warren.

They not only made sense on economic grounds, they dared to challenge the political and economic machismo of Washington. In 2008, Katrina vanden Heuvel wrote:

Instead of heeding this oracle's warnings, Greenspan, Rubin & Summers rushed to silence her. As the Times story reveals, Born's wise warnings "incited fierce opposition" from Greenspan and Rubin who "concluded that merely discussing new rules threatened the derivatives market." Greenspan deployed condescension and told Born she didn't know what she doing and she'd cause a financial crisis. (A senior Commission director who worked with Born suggests that Greenspan and the guys didn't like her independence. "Brooksley was this woman who was not playing tennis with these guys and not having lunch with these guys. There was a little bit of the feeling that this woman was not of Wall Street.")

Or consider this from the Atlantic in 2010:

In the course of many interviews about Geithner, two qualities came up again and again. The first was his extraordinary quickness of mind and talent for elucidating whatever issue was the preoccupying concern of the moment. Second was his athleticism. Unprompted by me, friends and colleagues extolled his skill and grace at windsurfing, tennis, basketball, running, snowboarding, and softball (specifying his prowess at shortstop and in center field, as well as at the plate). He inspires an adolescent awe in male colleagues.

Three of the few people in power who didn't see the crisis as just another game were Bair, Born and Warren. And not even liberal women are giving them their due.

Judge partially approves Manning plea bargain

Huffington Post - A judge accepted the terms under which Manning would plead guilty to eight charges for sending classified documents to the secret-spilling WikiLeaks website.

Col. Denise Lind's ruling doesn't mean the pleas have been formally accepted. That could happen in December.

But Lind approved the language of the offenses to which Manning would admit.

She said those offenses carry a total maximum prison term of 16 years.

Manning made the offer as a way of accepting responsibility for the leak. Government officials have not said whether they would continue prosecuting him for the other 14 counts he faces, including aiding the enemy. That offense carries a maximum penalty of life in prison.

Let's lower, not raise, Medicare age

We argued this during the debate over Obamacare. If this had been a key element of Obama's program, people would be fightng for Obamacare not opposing it. - Sam Smith

Jon Walker, Firedog Lake - Even though raising the Medicare retirement age is both deeply unpopular with voters and a terrible policy that saves the federal government only a modest amount of money, it is still treated by the Washington media as an idea to be seriously considered.

.... The CBO has previously stated that offering a public option partially based on Medicare rate to everyone in the new Affordable Care Act exchanges would save roughly $15 billion a year. This means if we were to only allow adults between, say, the ages 50-65 on the exchange to effectively “buy into Medicare early,” it should produce smaller but still real savings for the federal government.

What makes an early Medicare buy-in a good deficit reduction idea is that it is also just good policy. Unlike raising the Medicare retirement age, which would force millions of regular Americans to pay more for health care, creating an early Medicare buy-in would save both the government and regular people money. Politically, an early Medicare buy-in is also radically more popular with voters.

Of course, it is only the unpopular ideas that make regular people worse off that are considered serious in this current debate. The “deficit debate” really isn’t about reducing government spending or making it more efficient.

It is sacrifice in the most traditional sense of the word. There seems to be a belief among our leaders and top media organizations that if we do the fiscal equivalent of throwing enough old people into a volcano, the market gods will finally show us favor with a bountiful harvest.

ATT plans reducation camps for copyright violators

Center for Copyright Information - TorrentFreak has learned that the main problem is to get all actors, including the ISPs and the American Arbitration Association, lined up to move at once. This proved to be much more difficult than anticipated.

Three of the five U.S. ISPs participating in the copyright alerts plan have revealed what mitigation measures they will take after the fourth warning.

AT&T will block users’ access to some of the most frequently websites on the Internet, until they complete a copyright course. Verizon will slow down the connection speeds of repeated pirates, and Time Warner Cable will temporarily interrupt people’s ability to browse the Internet.

It’s expected that the two remaining providers, Cablevison and Comcast, will take similar measures. None of the ISPs will permanently disconnect repeat infringers as part of the plan.

Cory Doctorow, Boing Boing - I love that AT&T will force its customers to complete copyright reeducation camps designed by the entertainment industry, and will withhold Facebook and YouTube until they pass the course and demonstrate their proficiency in parroting back Big Content's party line.

Pat Robertson accepts scientific view of earth's age

Rev. Pat Robertson - Look, I know that people will probably try to lynch me when I say this, but Bishop [James] Ussher wasn't inspired by the Lord when he said that it all took 6,000 years. It just didn't. You go back in time, you've got radiocarbon dating. You got all these things and you've got the carcasses of dinosaurs frozen in time out in the Dakotas.

They're out there. So, there was a time when these giant reptiles were on the Earth and it was before the time of the Bible. So, don't try and cover it up and make like everything was 6,000 years. That's not the Bible.

"If you fight science," he continued, "you're going to lose your children, and I believe in telling it the way it was."

Huffington Post -In 1650, the Archbishop of Ireland James Ussher estimated that the Earth was created on Oct. 23, 4004 B.C. Ussher's work continues to be cited by many creationists -- including the Christian group Answers in Genesis -- as evidence that the Earth is only thousands of years old.

Cliff notes: the Medicare deal

In what is probably as good a summary of the current cliff notes as you're going to find, Politico mentions an Obama strategy of postponing some of the Medicare bad news. He did this with Obamacare as well, to help him get through the election.

But there's a little constitutional point that the public should note because politicians and media certainly are ignoring it. No Congress or president gets to decide the budget ten to twenty years down the pike. There are five to ten sessions of Congress that have that privilege, not to mention two to four presidents other than Obama.

But Washington, with the help of a gullible media, is happily misleading the public into thinking that it can decide what we spend ten years from now. It can try, to be sure, but the Constitution gives the ultimate right to others. The whole current practice of multiplying budget figure by ten to make them look bigger is really a PR con. - Sam Smith

Politico - Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) told “Morning Joe” on Tuesday that he could see $400 billion in entitlement cuts. That’s the floor, according to Democratic aides, and it could go higher in the final give and take. The vast majority of the savings, and perhaps all of it, will come from Medicare, through a combination of means-testing, raising the retirement age and other “efficiencies” to be named later. It is possible Social Security gets tossed into the mix, but Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) plans to fight that, if he has to yield on other spending fronts.

Democrats want most Medicare and other entitlement savings to kick in between 10 and 20 years from now, which will make some Republicans choke. Democrats will point to the precedent set by House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) of pushing most mandatory savings off until a decade from now.

“A lot of the big entitlement savings comes in the 10-20 year budget window, not the next 10 years,” a Democratic aide said. “Everybody will need to get on board understanding that. Paul Ryan and the Obama budget are the same on health cuts for the next 10 years.”

But that will most likely be the deal Republicans will be staring at: tax hikes now in exchange for Medicare changes way later. That will require some fancy footwork by Boehner to sell.

Alternative news update

Preserving Low-Income Housing Assistance in Tight Budgetary Times

War Dept
Former UK Defense Minister Suggests Dropping Thermonuclear Bombs on Afghanistan-Pakistan Border

Fiscal Cliff: A Pretext to Target Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid


Click for big version.

College tuition vs. pay for grads

Word: The real General Petraeus

Lucian K. Truscott IV, NY Times - The genius of General Petraeus was to recognize early on that the war he had been sent to fight in Iraq wasn’t a real war at all. This is what the public and the news media lamenting the fall of the brilliant hero undone by a tawdry affair have failed to see. He wasn’t the military magician portrayed in the press; he was a self-constructed hologram, emitting an aura of preening heroism for the ever eager cameras.

... General Petraeus is very, very clever, which is quite different from stating that he is the brilliant tactician he has been described as. He figured if he hadn’t actually been given the mission to “win” the “war” he found himself in, he could at least look good in the meantime. And the truth is he did a lot of good things, like conceiving of the idea of basically buying the loyalties of various factions in Iraq.

But they weren’t the kinds of things that win wars. In fact, they were the kinds of things that prolong wars, which for the general had the useful side effect of putting him on ever grander stages so he could be seen doing ever grander things, culminating in his appointment last year as the director of the C.I.A.

The thing he learned to do better than anything else was present the image of The Man You Turn To When Things Get Tough…He was so good at it that he conned the news media into thinking he was the most remarkable general officer in the last 40 years, and, by playing hard to get, he conned the political establishment into thinking that he could morph into Ike Part Deux and might one day be persuaded to lead a moribund political party back to the White House.

Alternative news update

Via Curtis Kise

US to leave 10,000 troops in Afghanistan past 2014

67% oppose raising Medicare entry age

@fmlappe - 50 years ago biggest private company GM paid FT workers what would equal $50/hr today, including health benefits and pension. Wal-Mart today? $8.81

Civil liberties
Leahy backs off on warrantless email searches
Private Prison Company Used in Drug Raids at Public High School

Meanwhile, furthermore & on the other hand

"Having sex with your biographer is more fun than having sex with your autobiographer” - General Petraeus (via Jim Fenner)

Qatar Climate Talks Off to a Bad Start
Administration says no to EU Carbon Tax on Airline Flights to Europe
Amazon deforestration rate lowest on record

France to Back Palestinian Bid to Raise UN Status


Click for big version.

Obama's 27 point plan for his second term

12 Social Programs That Might Be Vulnerable in a "Grand Bargain"


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