Monday, December 9, 2013

Last Call For Son Of Shutdown Countdown

Your last call for a Grand Bargain shot tonight:

More than two-thirds, 68 percent, do not think Obama and Congress could reach a budget deal before government funding runs out in mid-January, despite reports that a congressional agreement could come this week. They’re also not optimistic lawmakers can succeed in getting a deal approved. 
“This is a very grumpy country right now,” said Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion in New York. 
The public pessimism, said Miringoff, reflects months of growing dissatisfaction with Washington. 2013 has been a year of constant budget brinkmanship, most notably the Oct. 1-16 partial government shutdown. 
“The numbers go to their broken trust,” Miringoff said of the public.

And your evening chaser:

The budget deal Patty Murray and Paul Ryan are crafting isn't a "grand bargain." It doesn't put the nation's finances on a vastly different path (or even any different path). It doesn't reform the tax code or overhaul Medicare. It doesn't include infrastructure spending or chained-CPI. It doesn't even replace all of sequestration. 
But the deal does lift about a third of sequestration's cuts while giving agencies more flexibility to deal with the rest. It does mean the 2014 budget is the work of human hands rather than automatic cuts. It might be a vehicle for Capitol Hill to extend expiring unemployment benefits. And it would be a small but real boost to the economy. 
Joel Prakken of Macroeconomic Advisors says the deal "would be a modest boost to GDP growth (relative to sequester). Maybe 1/4 percentage point." Moody's Mark Zandi adds in the possibility of extending unemployment insurance and estimates that "the lift to GDP next year compared to current law is .4. Small, but it matters." 
Politically, the deal is a signal that the age of grand bargains is over. Republicans and Democrats recognize that they can't come to a big agreement. What we don't know is if the age of mini-deals has yet begun. This deal could well fail before it's unveiled before Congress. It could well fail in the House of Representatives, where Democrats are pushing for an extension of unemployment benefits and conservative Republicans say they prefer sequestration.

In the age of "oppose Obama forever" this is the best we can hope for.

Read more here:

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The GOP Knows They're Screwed, But They Don't Know How To Fix It

It's so obvious even Chris Cillizza can figure that out.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor spoke Saturday -- a speech in which he tried to offer a vision for how the party can start winning again. Here's the crux of the Cantor argument: 
Winning elections is about convincing the voters that the we have their back, that we’re on their side. If we want to win, we must offer solutions to problems that people face every day. We have not done this recently and it has allowed Democrats to take power, it has allowed them to push their partisan politics, and even worse to enact their leftist agenda. 
Cantor is right. Republicans have lost recent elections -- both in Virginia and nationally -- because they have been unable to a) prove to voters they have a positive vision for the country and b) effectively push back on the picture that Democrats have painted of them as cold, unfeeling plutocrats. In the 2012 presidential election, for instance,Barack Obama won 81 percent of those voters who said a candidates who "cares about people like me" was the most important attribute in deciding their vote
But, simply diagnosing the problem is not terribly new -- or all that effective. The problem for Republicans at the moment -- particularly those in Congress -- is that the party is most animated not by its positive vision, to the extent one currently exists, but rather by its opposition to President Obama's vision. (Cantor described Obamacare as "one of the greatest attacks on hardworking taxpayers this country has ever seen.") And, attempts to re-imagine party positions on issues like immigration -- by the likes of Florida Sen. Marco Rubio -- have been met with passionate disapproval by the party base.

The reality of course is that the GOP doesn't want to fix their problems with women, LGBTQ, Latinos, African-Americans, young people, and anyone with a working conscience.  They want to punish them until those groups stop voting, and then win from there.  Nobody believes the GOP has the backs of anyone but themselves.  They'll never win on that nonsense.  But convincing voters that armies of leftist brownshirt thugs will harm them and their loved ones, and that the people supporting Democrats no longer should qualify as Americans?  Well, they'll still get at least 40% of the vote that way, every single time.

The only reason Republicans haven't won on the fear vote nationally yet is because the last guy from their side is currently painting cats and dogs, and from 2001 to 2008 they had that fear vote locked up tight.  It can happen again, and at the state level it already has.  Outside of Delmarva, New England and the West Coast, and a couple of Rust Belt states, the Democrats are fighting for their lives.

Better vote while you still can.

She Guided Me With Science!

Today's Google Doodle here in the US celebrates the 107th birthday of Grace Hopper, one of the pioneers of modern computer science, a US Navy Vice-Admiral, and all around awesome human being.

“Amazing Grace” Hopper would have been 107 today, and Google pays tribute with a home-page cartoon of the young computer pioneer at work. The Doodle prompts us to celebrate the great woman and mathematician and trailblazing programmer, even if she wasn’t the type to make a fuss over such things. 
Hopper once told CBS newsman Morley Safer she was not one for nostalgia. The “60 Minutes” interview was in 1983, when Hopper — who un-retired multiple times — was the oldest woman in the Armed Forces at age 76. 
It wasn’t just looking back, but also a refusal to push forward, that the ever-colorful Hopper had no time for. As a symbol of that battle against human complacency and resistance to change, she is said to have explained: “That's why I have a clock on my wall that runs counter-clockwise." 
But for a day, at least, Google lets us turn back the hands to remember “Grandma COBOL’s” groundbreaking achievements. 
Hopper received a doctorate in mathematics at Yale and was teaching math at Vassar (her alma mater) when she joined the Naval Reserve. It was 1943, she was 37, and she felt called. As Hopper once told late-night host David Letterman in an eminently entertaining interview, while describing the national effort during World War II: “There was a time when everybody in this country all did one thing … together.” 
Hopper was sent to Harvard’s Bureau of Ordnance Computation Project, where she was one of the first programmers on the Navy’s Mark I computer — a 51-foot-long, 8-foot-tall mass of relays and vacuum tubes that was on technology’s cutting edge. Hopper is quoted as saying: “It had 72 words of storage and could perform three additions a second." 
Hopper would work on Harvard’s Mark II and III computers, as well, and go on to work on the UNIVAC I computer. She led the team that invented COBOL (Common Business-Oriented Language), as she pushed for computers to communicate by language instead of numbers.

Here's that Letterman interview, by the way.

An absolutely astonishing, brilliant, and funny woman.  She died New Year's Day, 1992, when I was but a wee lad just learning how to use telnet and ftp commands, too.

Happy birthday, Amazing Grace.


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