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Winterberry Holly, "Maryland Beauty" and red poinsettia. (Photo by joannelon, December 2012)

One country refused to bail out its derelict banks and slash social spending amid the financial crisis. And guess what? Unlike the eurozone and the United States, it’s making a sturdy comeback.

-- Alexander Reed Kelly





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News and Opinion



The Infamous Chart Of Corporate Profits Vs. Total Wages

Another way to look at this chart is corporate profits as a share of GDP which is a pretty decent proxy for profit margins. Once again, brand new high.
[...]
And for the flipside, here we add total wages as a share of GDP, which has fallen to a new low.

Compromise: A Misnomer for Absurdly Unequal Deal to Resolve Budget-Cliff Issues

Voices of the 1% are dominating the media and congressional discourse regarding the “fiscal cliff” by offering a “compromise” which justifies significant cuts in the safety-net “entitlements” by promising economic growth as a mask for their own self-interest. Their claim of the need for an economic environment offering more “certainty” for Wall Street and Corporate America is merely cover for establishing new rules and tax breaks to further enrich themselves.

This pole of the debate has recently been articulated by Lloyd Blankfein, CEO of Goldman Sachs and a key leader of the Fix the Debt coalition of 95 corporations. Blankfein holds out this tantalizing prospect: “There is a huge amount of investible cash that is now sitting on the sidelines, waiting for sensible reforms,” Blankfein stated in a Nov. 14th Wall Street Journal editorial. All of this job-creating investment will be unlocked, once President Obama and the Democrats simply accede to “sensible” changes in Social Security and Medicare, such as raising the eligibility age for both programs.

[...]

Not only is the general concept of a “compromise” between the most vulnerable parts of the lower and middle classes and the investment class incompatible with the realities faced by citizens living in increasingly precarious conditions our citizenry inherently unequal in this era of vast disparities in political influence, but the compromise being proposed is close to absurd. In order to avoid returning to the tax structure of the last growth period in recent history, corprorate CEOs, with the approval of much assistance of the corporate media—especially, the Washington Post-- want minor tax changes for the rich in exchange for undoing the Great Society and even the New Deal
[...]
Acceptance of the shameful “compromise” touted by Blankfein and the Fix the Debt corporations would only destroy America’s most vital social protections, deepen insecurity among the vast majority, and reflect the nation’s increasingly hollowed-out democracy.

Fiscal kabuki

It is not unreasonable for activists to be leery of this deal for myriad reasons, not the least of which is the fact that the fact that negotiating deficit reduction in this economic climate and around the debt ceiling and the Bush tax cuts expiring is bullshit to begin with and never should have happened. And, I'm sorry, but the Grand Bargain is Obama's idea so he's partially responsible for getting us to this place. But considering how far down that rabbit hole we already are, this is a much better starting point than we might have expected. (Of course, one never knows how much the pressure the hysterical activists, unions and others may have had in making the administration take a harder line. The squeaky wheel and all that jazz ...)

In case you were wondering whether this really is negotiation kabuki, here's an interesting article from Ryan Grim about the background of this offer. The offer has been out there for some time but the Republicans didn't take it seriously. When Geithner presented it on the Hill it appears they decided it would be a good strategy to take it public.

Jon Stewart Rips Congress and Media Over Fiscal Cliff
Read more at
http://www.thefiscaltimes.com/...
Stephen Colbert already took his shot at explaining the fiscal cliff. Now, with talks in Washington heating up — or melting down — Jon Stewart’s “The Daily Show” offered up its own takedown of the two sides’ inability to work together to solve the “self-imposed fiscal friendly fire,” complete with cliff-diving montage and another new name for the crisis: “Cliffpocalypsemageddonacaust - Totally Solvable Budget Problem.”
Read more at http://www.thefiscaltimes.com/...

“See, here’s what happened,” Stewart said. “Two summers ago Congress realized that if they couldn’t compromise on a deficit and revenue plan, our economy would crash. Well, turns out, they couldn’t compromise. So here’s what they did: In order to force themselves to work together and compromise, they concocted a catastrophic penalty that would itself crash our economy. Let me put it another way. There’s an asteroid headed towards the Earth. We made it and fired it at ourselves, because otherwise we would never have done the hard work required to protect ourselves from asteroids.”
Read more at http://www.thefiscaltimes.com/...

Truthdiggers of the Week: Iceland’s Leaders
One country refused to bail out its derelict banks and slash social spending amid the financial crisis. And guess what? Unlike the eurozone and the United States, it’s making a sturdy comeback.

Iceland’s stock market plunged 90 percent in 2008. Inflation reached 18 percent, unemployment shot up ninefold and its biggest banks failed. This was no recession. It was a full-blown depression.

Since then, the country has steadily improved. By September of this year, it repaid its IMF rescue loans ahead of schedule. Unemployment dropped by half and its economy will have grown by roughly 2.5 percent by the beginning of 2013.

So what’s Iceland’s secret? According to the editors at Bloomberg News, it’s a refusal to do what virtually every other nation that was pummeled by the crisis did: adopt policies of economic austerity.

Israel's Latest Assault on Gaza - What Really Happened

The official storyline is that Israel launched Operation Pillar of Defence on 14 November, 2012 because, in President Barack Obama’s words, it had “every right to defend itself.”
In this instance, Israel was allegedly defending itself against the 800 projectile attacks emanating from Gaza since January of this past year.
The facts, however, suggest otherwise.

US Ending the War in Afghanistan? It Depends on the Meaning of the Word ‘War’

It is amazing to watch politicians trying to weasel their way around their promises. President Obama is providing us with a good illustration of the art.

During the latest presidential campaign and in the final televised debates, both Obama and Vice President Joe Biden were adamant in asserting that the US would be leaving Afghanistan and ending the war in that country at the end of 2014--a goal most Americans profoundly want. Biden, in a heated debate with his Republican opponent Paul Ryan, said the US would “absolutely” be “out” of Afghanistan at the end of 2014. Obama, a week later, said, “By 2014, this process of transition will be complete and the Afghan people will be responsible for their own security."
[...]
This past weekend, it was reported that Obama and the generals at the Pentagon are planning on keeping at least 10,000 US troops stationed in Afghanistan indefinitely after that 2014 deadline for ending the war and withdrawing from that war-torn land.

Just to make it clear what we’re talking about here, 10,000 troops would represent an army half the size of the entire army of either the Netherlands or Denmark, two countries which currently have troops assigned to the NATO forces posted in Afghanistan as allies in the 12-year-long US war there.
[...]
So how then, can Obama, Biden and the generals be promising that the war will be ended in 2014?

The answer is that they are not calling what will be happening after 2014 a “war.” They will be changing the definition of the word “war.”





Blog Posts and Tweets of Interest


How the US Military Tortured Bradley Manning

Eviction of Occupy Sandy: Staten Island

Gitmo Death Mystery Deepens with News of Drug Overdose

Senate overwhelmingly approves amendment barring indefinite detention of Americans without trial

There's something we don't see every day







King Crimson - 21st Century Schizoid Man






Debate

Remember when progressive debate was about our values and not about a "progressive" candidate? Remember when progressive websites championed progressive values and didn't tell progressives to shut up about values so that "progressive" candidates can get elected?

Come to where the debate is not constrained by oaths of fealty to persons or parties.

Come to where the pie is served in a variety of flavors.

"The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum."  ~ Noam Chomsky

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