Thursday, February 28, 2013

Can We Talk About....Sequestration?

Are you serious?

"Both parties see silver lining in cutbacks; Key constituents, core tenets could withstand effect" by Jonathan Weisman  |  New York Times, February 28, 2013

WASHINGTON — With time running short and little real effort underway to avert automatic budget cuts that take effect on Friday, substantial and growing wings of both parties are learning to live with — if not love — the so-called sequester.

‘‘It’s going to happen,’’ said Representative Jim Jordan, Republican of Ohio and a leading conservative voice in the House. ‘‘It’s not the end of the world.’’

Then why has my media made it seem that way?

For weeks, President Obama has barnstormed the country, warning of the dire consequences of the cuts to military readiness, educators, air travel, and first responders even as the White House acknowledges that some of the disruptions will take weeks to emerge.

The reverse side has gone unmentioned: Some of the most liberal members of Congress see the cuts as a rare opportunity to whittle down Pentagon spending. The poor are already shielded from the worst of the cuts, and the process could take pressure off the Democratic Party, at least in the short run, to tamper with Social Security and Medicare.

At the same time, the president gets some relief from the constant drumbeat of budget news to focus on his top policy priorities: immigration and gun control.

Related: Sunday Globe Special: Deportation Dilemma

The bill is almost done, from what I saw, and they just started on gun control.

And Republicans, while denouncing the level of military cuts and the ham-handedness of the budget scythe, finally see the government shrinking in real dollars....

The bipartisan talking point has held that the $1.2 trillion in cuts over a decade, established in the 2011 Budget Control Act, were intended to be so onerous to both sides that they would force Republicans and Democrats to unite around a bipartisan, comprehensive deficit package that raised taxes and slowed entitlement spending.

Then why did they agree to the deal and cheer it then?

In fact, almost the opposite has proved true. The sword of Damocles turns out to be made of Styrofoam....


So all the other stuff I've been reading.... argh!  

 “I blame the American people 

I don't. Not for that. 

"The fiscal cliff, with its year-end deadline, refers to increases that would affect every worker who pays federal income tax, as well as spending cuts that would begin to bite defense and domestic programs alike. Economists in and out of government say the combination carries the risk of a new recession, at a time the economy is still struggling to recover fully from the worst slowdown in decades."

"Another recession is likely in 2013"

"Public anger and frustration is building at the lack of response by Congress to a looming, politically created fiscal crisis that could produce a recession in 2013 if it is not resolved within a few weeks. "

Unbelievable. They are going to blame another recession on this.

 I'm tired of blather and statements like "the stars are aligned" after the Mayan calendar flop.

Who thought of the term fiscal cliff anyway? 

Senate in last-minute scrum for deal

Immediately — regardless of whether Congress and Obama reach a deal — every working American’s taxes will go up because neither party is fighting to extend a Social Security payroll tax cut that has been in place for two years. 

But they bickered over how much the rich would kick in.

But failure to reach a broader deal on taxes and spending would increase taxes even further, returning rates to Clinton-era levels. Paychecks would shrink as employers start withholding more for taxes. Many families would also suffer if Congress fails to extend emergency jobless benefits, meaning that 2.1 million Americans would abruptly stop receiving expected payments." 

Ever notice the wars, corporate welfare, and lavish political lifestyles are always fully funded?

"With any fiscal deal, payroll tax apt to rise" by Todd Wallack  |  Globe Staff, January 01, 2013

Even if Congress succeeds in passing a fiscal deal, most employees will take home less money in 2013 because a temporary cut in payroll taxes is scheduled to expire Tuesday. 

They extended the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, but... sigh.

Congress has shown no interest in extending the 2 percent payroll tax cuts, according to the Tax Policy Center, a nonpartisan think tank in Washington.

“It’s going to hit everyone in the pocketbook,” said Larry Dunivan, a senior vice president at Ceridian Corp., one of the country’s largest payroll processors.

The Social Security payroll tax cut was passed in 2010 as a temporary measure to stimulate the economy. But neither the White House nor Republican leaders have fought hard in the current budget negotiations to keep the tax cut in place, in part because it costs $115 billion to $125 billion a year in revenue at a time when Washington is seeking to shrink the federal deficit.... 

That's why you are getting the finger, folks. 


"The realities of the fiscal cliff loomed large. Driving home the consequences of not acting, the Internal Revenue Service marked the passing of the New Year’s Eve deadline by instructing employers to begin extracting more tax withholdings from employee paychecks “as soon as possible.’’ 

Isn't it illegal for the IRS to engage in blatant political agenda-pushing?

They backed up the car.


I no longer follow the rigged game. 

“The fiscal patch creates extraordinary pressure to make cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, the Affordable Care Act, and Social Security,” said Ethan Rome, executive director of Health Care for America Now, a grassroots organization that helped pass the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare."


Warren declined to say whether she would have voted for the fiscal cliff deal, but she was critical of the negotiation struck by Vice President Joe Biden and Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell. “I’m just now learning all the details of the deal,” she said. “Giveaways to big corporations at a time when we’re under enormous financial pressure? You know, this whole deal was supposed to be about bringing our house into financial order, not giving more away to some of the biggest corporations in this country.”

Yup, Obama flinched again, folks! You can't say I didn't warn you during the campaign.

"Lawmakers remain stubborn on debt stances; Veiled threats, accusations greet next crisis" by Anne Flaherty  |  Associated Press, January 07, 2013

WASHINGTON — Congressional leaders on Sunday showed no signs of resolving the next phase of the financial crisis....

By late February or early March, the Treasury Department will run out of options to cover the nation’s debts and could begin defaulting on government loans unless Congress raises the legal borrowing limit, or debt ceiling. Economists warn that a default could trigger a global recession.

Also looming are deep automatic spending cuts expected to take effect at the beginning of March that could further erase fragile gains in the US economy....

Lawmakers said debt talks will consume Congress in the coming weeks, likely delaying any consideration of an expected White House proposal on gun restrictions following the Connecticut school shooting....

Senator Lindsay Graham, Republican of South Carolina, appearing on CNN’s State of the Union,’’ did not dismiss the idea of allowing a partial shutdown of government until an agreement can be reached. Texas Senator John Cornyn and other Republicans have floated the idea of a shutdown as a way of winning deeper spending cuts.... 

The way this government has been acting that can only be a good thing. Of course, they don't shut down that. They shut down the stuff you need.

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California said on CBS’s “Face the Nation’’ that she believes the president has enough authority under the 14th Amendment to raise the debt ceiling without Congress’ blessing. 

Violation of Constitution, but who pays attention to that anymore?


"Obama says he won’t negotiate on debt ceiling; Warns GOP that its strategy could crash economy" by Jackie Calmes  |  New York Times, January 15, 2013

WASHINGTON — President Obama warned Republicans on Monday against refusing to raise the nation’s debt ceiling, calling such talk ‘‘irresponsible’’ and ‘‘absurd’’ and saying it would cause an economic crisis and financial hardship for millions of Americans....

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said in a letter to House Speaker John Boehner on Monday that the government will reach its borrowing limit as soon as mid-February, earlier than expected. The Treasury has been using bookkeeping maneuvers to keep from surpassing the debt ceiling, but Geithner said those measures will be exhausted by mid-February to early March.

In addition to noting possible effects on older Americans and veterans, Obama listed other possible consequences of a default.

‘‘We might not be able to pay our troops, or honor our contracts with small business owners,’’ Obama said. ‘‘Food inspectors, air traffic controllers, specialists who track down loose nuclear materials wouldn’t get their paychecks.

Investors around the world will ask if the United States of America is in fact a safe bet. Markets could go haywire, interest rates would spike for anybody who borrows money, every homeowner with a mortgage, every student with a college loan, every small business owner who wants to grow and hire.’’ 

He sounds like Bush before he asked for the bank bailouts. I expected better, sir.

Six days before he is to be inaugurated again, Obama is preparing a rapid-fire agenda for the early days of his second term. 

Is that a good choice of words after what allegedly happened in Newtown?

In addition to negotiations over the debt limit, Obama is preparing for a difficult debate over spending cuts and has said he will propose a comprehensive overhaul of the nation’s immigration system....


Of course he does. Then you are even further into debt slavery.

Congress complied

"House GOP agrees to lift borrowing limit" by Jonathan Weisman  |  New York Times, January 19, 2013

WASHINGTON — The new proposal seemed to significantly reduce the threat of a default by the federal government in coming weeks....

To add muscle to their efforts to bring Senate Democrats to the table, House Republicans will include a provision in the debt ceiling legislation that says lawmakers will not be paid if they do not pass a budget blueprint, though questions have been raised whether that provision is constitutional.

That ‘‘no budget, no pay’’ provision offered Republicans a face-saving way out of a corner they had painted themselves into — and an effort to shift blame for any default onto the Senate if it balks.

The House Republicans’ campaign arm quickly moved from taunting Democrats about raising the government’s borrowing limit to demanding that they sacrifice their paychecks if they fail to pass a budget.

‘‘The Democratic-controlled Senate has failed to pass a budget for four years. That is a shameful run that needs to end, this year,’’ Boehner said in a statement from Williamsburg. ‘‘We are going to pursue strategies that will obligate the Senate to finally join the House in confronting the government’s spending problem.’’

House Democrats met the deal with scorn, indicating they would inflict maximum political pain by making Republicans carry it to passage. But other Democrats were more sanguine.

The president had said he would not sign a short-term debt ceiling increase, but a senior administration official said that as long as there were no surprises, the White House would probably accept the House’s offer....

The decision represents a victory — at least for now — for Obama.... 

Not for long.

Reordering the sequences of those hurdles was central to the delicate internal Republican deliberations that resulted in the new plan....

Representative Dave Camp of Michigan, the House Ways and Means chairman, talked through the notion held by some Republicans that the Treasury Department could manage a debt ceiling breach by channeling the daily in-flow of tax dollars to the most pressing needs, paying creditors, sending out Social Security checks, and financing the military.

His message was that it would not work, the aides said....


"GOP leaders look ready to accede, for short term; Political reality may force a more pragmatic tone" by Jonathan Weisman  |  New York Times, January 23, 2013

WASHINGTON — President Obama’s aggressive inaugural address on Monday presented congressional Republicans with a stark choice over the next two years: accommodate the president’s agenda on immigration, guns, energy, and social programs and hope to take the liberal edge off issues dictated by the White House, or dig in as the last bulwark against a reelected Democratic president and accept the political risks of that hard-line stance....  

Give it about a month.

From the stimulus to the health care law to showdowns over taxes and spending, Republicans have often found that their uncompromising stands simply left them on the sidelines, unable to have an effect on legislation and unable to alter it much once it passed....

The president’s inaugural speech set Republicans on edge.... 

See: Sunday Globe Special: State of the Union Preview

Already, there are signs of resistance....


Both are looking to save certain interests though:

"Democrats back $3b-a-year Pentagon cut; Proposal part of effort to delay bigger reductions" by Andrew Taylor  |  Associated Press, February 12, 2013

WASHINGTON — Top Senate Democrats have prepared a plan to slice the Pentagon’s budget by $3 billion a year in an attempt to avoid far steeper cuts that defense hawks warn would cripple the military....  

Related: The Two-Headed War Party

Worship War Day: Pentagon Cries Poverty

And they are doing it again. 

Republicans have focused their energies on a public relations campaign....

In a separate development Monday, the Defense Department said it will not extend some housing benefits to same-sex partners of service members even though it legally could because the issue requires more review and military leaders expressed concerns.  

Because of the cuts?


"GOP dismisses Obama’s proposals on wages, education; Leadership says plans will hinder creation of jobs" by James Rowley and Roxana Tiron  |  Bloomberg News, February 14, 2013

WASHINGTON — President Obama called Tuesday for a higher minimum wage and stricter gun laws, proposed making preschool available to all 4-year-olds, and asked Congress to rewrite US immigration law.

On Wednesday, Republicans in Congress made clear that little of it will happen.

House Speaker John A. Boehner dismissed the president’s proposal to raise the federal minimum wage. Republicans also gave a negative response to Obama’s call for new legislation to curb greenhouse-gas emissions that scientists say drives global warming.

‘‘When you raise the price of employment, guess what happens? You get less of it,’’ Boehner, Republican of Ohio, told reporters at a news conference Wednesday in Washington. ‘‘Why do we want to make it harder for small employers to hire people?’’


Obama’s speech was a ‘‘go-through-the motions laundry list of things’’ he’d ‘‘like to do,’’ said Senator John Thune of South Dakota, a member of the chamber’s Republican leadership.

‘‘Minimum wage won’t pass the House, climate-change won’t pass the House,’’ Thune said. ‘‘Those are things he would probably have a hard time getting a lot of Democrats to vote for.’’

The same is true for Obama’s call for guaranteeing preschool programs for all 4-year-olds, he said.

‘‘How do you pay for it?’’ he said....  

He wants to raise taxes.


Markey raising the alarm:

"Spending cuts to cost state 60,000 jobs, report says" by Tracy Jan and Bryan Bender  |  Globe Staff, February 15, 2013

WASHINGTON -- Massachusetts will lose more than 60,000 jobs, much of it in the defense industry, and $127 million in federal research funding, harming a critical sector of the state economy, if Congress allows across-the-board spending cuts to go into effect in March, according to a report released Friday by Representative Edward Markey of Malden.

The automatic cuts, known in Beltway parlance as “sequestration,” were scheduled to take place in January under a 2011 budget deal to raise the nation’s debt limit, but the crisis was temporarily averted when Congress struck a last-minute New Year’s Eve bargain.

The two-month delay in cuts now worth $85 billion for the rest of fiscal year 2013 -- comprised equally of defense and domestic spending -- were supposed to buy the White House and Congress time to negotiate a broader deal that includes reform to entitlement programs such as Medicare and Social Security.

But with the deadline looming and Congress out for recess next week and not due to return until February 25, that leaves just four days with the House and Senate in session before the cuts are supposed to begin. The deadline was set in hopes that it would force Republicans and Democrats to come up with a grand bargain - or even a modest one - to cut the deficit.

President Obama has said he would be open to a smaller deal that would include cuts, entitlement reform, and new tax revenues to avoid sequestration, which he said would be devastating to the nation’s fragile economic recovery. That has prompted talk that the deadline might be extended.

While last-minute deals are common in Washington, and both parties have expressed opposition to the cuts, the looming deadline has heightened the possibility that sequestration will be enacted. But some analysts are already assuming that sequestration will take place, while stressing that it is unclear which programs or agencies will be most acutely affected and for how long.

“The political system is paralyzed by the different philosophies of the parties and the inability of either to enforce their solution,” said Loren Thompson, a defense industry consultant at Source Associates in Arlington, Virginia. “So sequestration will go forward because it is already the law. The question is once it triggers on March 1 what happens then? Will there be a surge of complaints from constituents that leads the parties to change their position? If not, we could have sequestration for a long time with all the destructive consequences that implies.”


Markey, dean of the Massachusetts delegation and who is running against fellow Democrat Stephen Lynch in a special election for U.S. Senate, said the undiscriminating cuts resulting from sequestration could be staved off with targeted cuts to defense spending and nuclear weapons, ending oil subsidies, and reforming the tax code.

“We’re not only the Bay State, we’re the Brain State, and that did not happen by chance,” Markey said in an interview. “It’s in large part due to federal funding that supports our leading researchers and scientists and innovative bio-tech companies, and federal funding that supports our education programs, and the billions of dollars our hospitals receive to train the next generation of doctors. The massive arbitrary cuts threaten Massachusetts’ role as the nation’s high tech, bio tech, clean tech hub.”

Massachusetts, which brings in more NIH funding per capita than any other state, has more to lose under sequestration because of the outsized role research universities, teaching hospitals and biotechnology companies play in the state economy, Markey said. These institutions rely on billions of dollars from the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Defense for research funding.

John Erwin, executive director of the Conference of Boston Teaching Hospitals, said a reduction of about 8 percent to the National Institutes of Health would follow several consecutive years of flat funding at a time when countries like China, India and Singapore are investing heavily in research.

The squeeze has already caused scientists trained in Massachusetts to be wooed away by other countries because “they can offer them more money and brand new spanking labs,” Erwin said.

“We’re letting our foot off the gas pedal, and they are looking for opportunities to be number one,” he said....


"Obama bypasses Congress with public economic pitch" by Jim Kuhnhenn  |  Associated Press, February 17, 2013

WASHINGTON — This president, like recent ones before him, has gone to the public before in hopes of persuading lawmakers. It hasn’t always proved a winning tactic. President Clinton failed to use the public to win support for his health care overhaul. President George W. Bush was unable to make changes to Social Security in his second term.  

Seems to work when wars are involved, though.

Obama tried to muster public support to fight climate change, but the legislative effort came up short. Even Obama’s all-out effort on behalf of sweeping health care changes only succeeded in keeping Democrats unified, not in winning over Republicans.

But Obama and White House aides are heartened by what they believe were successful public appeals for extending a payroll tax cut in 2010 and for preventing a doubling of interest rates on federal student loans last summer. What made those different was that they addressed pressing issues: The payroll tax cut was expiring at year’s end and interest rates on student loans were set to double last July 1.  

Why did you let it go back up thi$t ime then?

Expanding preschools and raising the minimum wage from $7.25 to $9 an hour by the end of 2015, on the other hand, are policy ideas just sprung on Congress during last Tuesday’s prime-time speech....

I'm tired of the "sales pitch," sorry. 


"Obama says drastic budget cuts will hurt middle class  

What middle class?

President Obama is concerned about the effect that looming, drastic across-the-board budget cuts will have on the middle class, Denis McDonough, his new chief of staff, said Sunday.

Congressional Republicans predicted the cuts would start as scheduled next month and blamed Obama not only for doing little to stop them but for the idea itself.  


The cuts, called the sequester, would drain $85 billion from the government’s budget over the coming seven months. Actual cuts may be around 13 percent for defense and 9 percent for other programs because lawmakers delayed their impact, requiring savings over a shorter period of time.

The White House last week released a list of ways Americans would feel the trims, from longer waits at airport security to as many as 13,000 teachers being laid off.  

This blatant agenda-pushing while screaming the sky is falling is sickening.


"As cutbacks loom, Obama tries to prod GOP to action; Says economy and thousands of jobs in peril" by Jackie Calmes  |  New York Times, February 20, 2013

WASHINGTON — Days away from another fiscal crisis and with Congress on vacation, President Obama began marshaling the powers of the presidency Tuesday to try to shame Republicans into a compromise that could avoid further self-inflicted job losses and damage to the fragile recovery. So far, Republicans were declining to engage.

To turn up the pressure on the absent lawmakers, Obama warned in calamitous terms of the costs to military readiness, domestic investments, and vital services if a ‘‘meat-cleaver’’ approach of indiscriminate, across-the-board spending cuts takes effect March 1. Surrounding him in a White House auditorium were solemn, uniformed emergency responders, invited to illustrate the critical services at risk.

The president plans to maintain the pressure through next week for an alternative deficit-reduction deal that includes spending cuts and new revenues through closing tax loopholes. He will have daily events underscoring the potential ramifications of the automatic cuts, aides said, and next week will travel outside Washington to take his case to the public, as he did late last year in another fiscal fight on which he prevailed.  

What's the carbon footprint on all that going to be?

In stern tones, Obama said that the automatic cuts, known in budget terms as a sequester, would ‘‘affect our responsibility to respond to threats in unstable parts of the world’’ and ‘‘add thousands of Americans to the unemployment rolls.’’

He framed the debate in the way that he hopes will force Republicans into again accepting some higher tax revenues, something they so far refused to do.  

We don't need more taxes. We need to recall the empire and stop wasting tax loot on Wall Street and Israel.

‘‘Republicans in Congress face a simple choice,’’ Obama said. ‘‘Are they willing to compromise to protect vital investments in education and health care and national security and all the jobs that depend on them, or would they rather put hundreds of thousands of jobs and our entire economy at risk just to protect a few special-interest tax loopholes that benefit only the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations?’’  

Either with you or against you, huh?

Obama once again finds himself in a budget showdown with the opposing party, and numerous polls show his position to be more popular than Republican calls for spending cuts only, including cuts in Medicare. Obama and senior aides hardly disguised their sense of political advantage.

“We are trouncing them,’’ said one senior administration official about the Republicans.  

Hubris comes before a fall.

Still, the president’s leverage might be limited, since by all appearances he seems to want a deal far more than Republicans do. As the leader of the nation, Obama is eager to end the repeated evidence of Washington dysfunction or what he referred to again Tuesday as the cycle of ‘‘manufactured crisis.’’

Like this one.

And with his legacy ultimately at stake....  

Another failed president.

Despite the risks of an impasse for Republicans, those who control the House seem poised to let the automatic cuts take effect.

Many Republicans, particularly newer members elected with Tea Party support, have pushed party leaders to accept the sequester and lock in the spending cuts rather than compromise. The leaders seem to have decided to wage battle later this spring in the larger fight over the annual federal budget.

Contributing to Republican calculations is the fact that at least in the short term, an impasse over the sequester is not as potentially catastrophic as the threats that loomed in past partisan showdowns, such as a shutdown of the government or the nation’s first-ever default on some of its global debt obligations.  


The potential impact is hazardous nonetheless, both economically and politically.

As Obama noted, the prospect of the sequester has already affected military deployments and hiring by military contractors and threatens layoffs of teachers, air traffic controllers and researchers, among others.

Hours after the president’s remarks, forecasters at Macroeconomic Advisers, based in St. Louis, projected that sequestration would reduce the firm’s forecast of growth this year by nearly a quarter, 0.6 percent, and cost roughly 700,000 civilian and military jobs through 2014, with heightened unemployment lingering for several years.

“By far the preferable policy,’’ the analysis said, ‘‘is a credible long-term plan to shrink the deficit more slowly through some combination of revenue increases within broad tax reform’’ as well as ‘‘more carefully considered cuts’’ in spending programs, including Medicare and Medicaid.

That prescription for both long-term spending reductions and revenue increases generally tracks Obama’s approach....


As for that political advantage:

"House GOP opposing tax increases" by Jonathan Weisman |  New York Times, February 21, 2013

WASHINGTON — House Republicans, shrugging off rising pressure from President Obama, are resolutely opposing new tax increases to head off $85 billion in across-the-board spending reductions, all but ensuring the cuts will go into force March 1 and likely remain in place for months, if not longer.

Despite new calls from the White House on Wednesday to enact a combination of tax increases and cuts to postpone the so-called sequester, the House is moving forward on a legislative agenda that assumes deep and arbitrary cuts to defense and domestic programs — once considered unthinkable — will remain in place through the end of the year.

Congressional Republicans have relented in the most recent fiscal showdowns with the White House. But lawmakers say they have no intention of surrendering in this one even though Obama has raised the potential of widespread disruptions in government services and even military operations in the weeks ahead. The president’s January fiscal win, which yielded increases in income, capital gains, and dividend tax rates on affluent families, has only bolstered Republican resolve.

‘‘The president says he has to have tax increases to head off the sequester. Well, he already got his tax increase,’’ Representative Martha Roby, an Alabama Republican, said in an interview Wednesday after touring Maxwell Air Force Base, which stands to take a deep hit this spring.

House Republicans said they believe they have politically inoculated themselves against claims they are responsible for the cuts by approving measures last year that would have substituted reductions in government programs like food stamps for the lower Pentagon spending. Party strategists have advised Republican members to aggressively blame the president for the creation of the automatic cuts and the failure to stop them.

Taking steps to avoid a full government shutdown at the end of March, the House Appropriations Committee as soon as next week will introduce legislation to keep the government financed through Sept. 30, the end of the fiscal year, but do nothing to stop the pending cuts.

The current stopgap spending measure expires March 27, and Republican leaders are eager to avoid an Easter week shuttering of the government....

House Republicans said they are feeling invulnerable in the current clash. Not only can they point to last year’s bills to replace the cuts, but redistricting has made most of them immune to political threats and entreaties. For many representing conservative districts where the president holds little sway, an attack by Obama is a badge of honor, senior Republican House aides say.

In the last showdowns won by the president, inaction was seen as intolerable. Had Republicans done nothing in 2011, a temporary payroll tax would have lapsed without offsetting tax cuts to ease the blow.  

They let it lapse now so they could get their hands on the tax loot and forestall the cliff.

On Jan. 1, every tax cut of the Bush administration would have expired at once had the Republicans not relented and let some taxes rise. This time, Republicans need not do anything and deep spending cuts they have demanded for years will go into force automatically....  

That's the "deal" the Democrats made?

Senior Senate Democratic aides, speaking on condition of anonymity, conceded the weakness of their hand. In late December, as the White House and Senate Republicans closed in on a deal to head off a far larger wave of automatic tax increases, Senate Democrats had urged the president and Vice President Joe Biden to hold out for a better deal on the automatic spending cuts.

Instead, the White House agreed to punt the showdown for two months, paying down the cuts with a package financed half by new revenues, one- fourth by domestic cuts and one-fourth by military cuts.

White House aides argued that the minideal would set the precedent for a larger deal before March 1, but that turned out to be not the case....  

Why is it Democrats are far less astute in politics than Republicans?


"White House highlights travel disruptions; Says flight delays will cascade if cuts take effect" by Jonathan Weisman and Jackie Calmes  |  New York Times, February 23, 2013

WASHINGTON — The White House on Friday warned of potentially severe disruptions in air travel if across-the-board spending cuts take effect in less than a week, as President Obama intensified pressure on congressional Republicans to entertain spending reductions and tax increases to avoid furloughing federal workers and limiting services.

Related: FAA cuts could cause flight delays, less oversight

I don't give a s***. I don't fly.

The focus on what Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said was the high likelihood of cascading flight delays and closed towers at smaller airports showed that the Obama administration believed that the threat of widespread travel problems could sway the public and encourage voters to force Republicans to the bargaining table.  

Strange coming from people with a sense of political advantage.

At the same time, though, Obama privately told Democratic governors that his public campaign against Republicans was not producing results....  

Can you blame me for not wanting to read political crapola anymore? Sure doesn't sound like someone with political advantage to me.

‘‘These are harmful cuts with real-world consequences that will cost jobs and hurt our economy,’’ LaHood said.

Obama’s pessimism appeared to be an acknowledgment that the White House had made significant miscalculations in the spending fight. After the election, the administration anticipated that the president’s victory and his better standing with the public would push Republicans into some compromise.

In addition, in striking the 2011 deal to raise the nation’s statutory borrowing limit, Democrats believed that Republican reluctance to allow deep cuts to the Pentagon would lead them to back off the automatic cuts, known as the sequester.

But Friday, Republicans remained adamant that they would accept no tax increases to head off the cuts. Republicans say they are willing to instead get some savings from programs not covered by Congress’ annual spending bills, such as food stamps, Medicaid, and children’s health insurance....

Republicans say they already swallowed $600 billion in tax increases in the New Year’s Eve deal that ended the last budget impasse....  

Yeah, that's right.


And they will be closing national parks, too:

"National parks plan for service cuts" by Tracie Cone  |  Associated Press, February 23, 2013

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The giant sequoias at Yosemite National Park would go unprotected from visitors who might trample their shallow roots. At Cape Cod National Seashore, large sections of the Great Beach would close to keep fragile bird eggs from being destroyed if the number of national park workers are cut.

The Gettysburg military park would decrease by one-fifth the numbers of children who learn about the Pennsylvania battle that was a turning point in the Civil War.

As the clock ticks toward forced spending cuts at countless federal agencies and the vacation season nears, the National Park Service is gearing for the potential effects at the nation’s parks and historic places....


"With no deal, cuts will start biting in 1st week of March; Defense Dept. will be among the hardest hit" by Jonathan Weisman and Annie Lowrey  |  New York Times, February 24, 2013

WASHINGTON — In the first week of March, a laid-off person living on $300 a week in unemployment benefits is liable to find a surprise in the mailbox: notification from Uncle Sam that come April the check will be $33 lighter.

Sequestration, that arcane budget term consuming Washington lately, is about to move from political abstraction to reality for millions of Americans. Barring an unlikely last-minute deal, about $85 billion is set to be cut from military, domestic, and certain health care programs beginning Friday.

Much of the government will be immune, only magnifying the cuts for the rest. If they are not reversed, federal spending at the discretion of Congress will eventually fall to a new five-decade low. Cuts of even larger size are scheduled to take effect every year over the next 10, signaling an era of government austerity.  

Not from them.

By the end of this week, federal agencies will notify governors, private contractors, grant recipients, and other stakeholders of the dollars they would be about to lose....

These cuts would probably not be confined to 2013. Even if President Obama manages to persuade Congress to raise new revenue, he has said he would replace only half of the spending cuts with tax increases, in essence accepting a half-trillion dollars in cuts over 10 years. That would be on top of more than $1 trillion in cuts already enacted by the Budget Control Act, which created the sequester in 2011 as part of a deal to raise the country’s statutory borrowing limit.

A comprehensive deficit-reduction deal, which is moribund but is still both Congress and the White House’s stated goal, might mitigate the impact by including fast-growing programs like Medicare and Medicaid in the cuts. But belt-tightening, for now, appears to be the new normal.

In private, Capitol Hill staff members and members of Congress have admitted that there are no viable plans on the horizon to delay or offset the cuts. At best, Congress might be able to pass a bill giving agencies more discretion in carrying out cuts. But that is opposed by the White House because officials fear that such a change would give lawmakers a false sense that they had done much to ease the pain of the cuts, when in fact, budget officials say, little would have changed.

That means that as of Friday, dozens of federal agencies must start bringing their budgets down.

The worst hit would be the Defense Department, which is already absorbing a $500 billion budget cut over 10 years agreed to in 2011 and is operating under a temporary spending agreement. Military personnel are exempted from furloughs, but civilian personnel are not, so the Pentagon is preparing to put civilian workers on notice that they might lose 22 days of work this year.  

Yeah, yeah, the poor, poor war machine.


Globe now picks up the agenda-pushing bullhorn:

"Deal on automatic spending cuts is unlikely; White House, GOP bicker as hopes dim; Mass. could lose thousands of jobs" by David Uberti  |  Globe Correspondent, February 25, 2013

WASHINGTON — The White House and congressional Republicans intensified their differences Sunday over how to deal with automatic spending cuts slated to take effect Friday, raising the possibility that the political standoff could curtail many government services and result in the loss of thousands of jobs in Massachusetts.

GOP leaders insisted in appearances on Sunday talk shows that they were willing to let the budget reductions go into effect, while Democrats sharpened their call for increased revenue.

The cuts, known on Capitol Hill as sequestration, will slash $85 billion from the proposed 2013 federal budget. Drawing equally from defense and non-defense discretionary spending, the reductions would affect everything from military readiness to childcare subsidies. And it could threaten thousands of Bay State jobs, according to the White House.

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick slammed sequestration on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday, saying the cuts would hurt the state’s education system and slash investment in infrastructure and innovation.

“Those three things have been the formula for our growing in Massachusetts faster than the national growth rate and coming out of the recession faster than most other states,” Patrick said. “It’s a winning formula for the nation, as well. And we cannot slow that down.”  

Related: Boston Globe Business Pages Are Nothing But Bulls***! 

Boston Globe Giving You the Business

He lied right there on TV, huh?  

Also see: Economists hopeful Mass. growth will continue

Massachusetts could lose up to 60,000 jobs and $127 million in federal research funding if a deal isn’t reached, according to a report released earlier this month by Representative Edward Markey of Malden. It would also mean less money for about 60 Bay State schools, cuts to special education and fewer children in the federally funded Head Start early education program, according to the White House.

Republican leaders said Sunday that the administration is overstating the economic impact of sequestration while the president is trying to make his case to the public.  

No! Ya' think?

Both parties continued pointing fingers over who proposed the cuts, as a deal by Friday to avert what the White House calls “a self-inflicted wound” on a still sluggish economy seems unlikely....

The rest is all talk show chatter. 


Also see:  Warren, representatives blast sequester

Feared spending cuts rooted in years of dysfunction

State, local officials fret over federal cutbacks

"Mass. defense industry on hold as cuts near; Jobs slashed, projects halted amid uncertainty" by Michael B. Farrell  |  Globe Staff, February 27, 2013

Even though automatic spending cuts by the US government have yet to go into effect, defense contractors in Massachusetts are already laying off employees, freezing salaries, and putting new projects on hold because of uncertainty over the federal budget.

Business executives said the local ­defense industry is in a state of paralysis, unable to make basic decisions because political leaders in Washington have so far been unable to agree on a budget compromise that would head off some $46 billion in automatic spending cuts to military programs this year that are scheduled to start taking effect Friday.

“We are just holding off on making any investments — capital, people, or anything,” said Tom Colatosti, chief executive of Oasis Systems Inc., a Lexington supplier of technology services to the Pentagon.

Some of his employees are also quitting because of the potential sequester cuts, he said. They are leaving the defense industry altogether in search of work elsewhere in more secure sectors of the state’s tech economy.  

When they find one let me know.

US military spending accounts for roughly 4 percent of the Massachusetts economy and employment base, with the government sending $13.7 billion in contracts to some 2,500 businesses and institutions in the state in 2011. Though the cutbacks so far are not being broadly felt across the Massachusetts economy, they are quickly adding up.

Contractors making cutbacks include Raytheon Co., the biggest recipient in Massachusetts of US defense spending, which recently reduced its worldwide workforce by 3,000; ­American ­Science and Engineering Inc., a Billerica maker of bomb-detection equipment, that has said it will cut 40 positions; and BAE Systems, which is eliminating 200 jobs at its Nashua, N.H., ­facility and potentially another 3,600 in its US ship repair division after the Navy said it might cancel maintenance ­orders. 

SeeMass. defense firms paying price of US spending cuts

Meanwhile suppliers to those big contractors warned that they are sure to follow suit with cuts if the spending reductions take place as scheduled.

“The ramifications are running through all of us in this industry,” said Sebastian ­Sicari, chief executive of ­kSaria Corp., a Methuen supplier of fiber ­optics equipment for Raytheon and other defense contractors. “It ripples down from the defense agencies, to the prime contractors, to us ­directly.”  

How come it never trickled down?

While other parts of the Massachusetts high-tech community, as well as health care and science-related operations that depend on federal spending, are worried about the ­potential cuts, none have seen the cutbacks and postponements that are already evident at defense contractors.

Defense spending accounts for some 70 percent of US contracts awarded to Massachusetts businesses and institutions.  

I can't tell you how sad such a statistic makes me. Massachusetts may have a reputation as an antiwar state; however, that is all illusion and imagery.

Even before the threat of the automatic spending cuts, known as sequestration, loomed over the industry, ­defense contractors were having to cope with $487 billion in Pentagon spending cuts that were introduced last year, as well as lower spending as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have wound down.

Now, the sequester could potentially bring about an ­additional $500 billion in military spending cuts over the next decade....

The party is over.

Already some local contractors are rethinking their reliance on the US government for much of their business. Raytheon, for instance, has been stepping us sales to foreign governments to counter fewer purchases from the US military....  

I sure hope that stuff won't then be used against us at some future date.


Is it just me, or did the Globe seem to have an outsized interest in defense cuts?

And in what might be the most egregious example of agenda-pushing from this White House:

"With cuts looming, US freeing illegal immigrants" February 27, 2013

WASHINGTON — A week before mandatory budget cuts go into effect across the government, the Department of Homeland Security has started releasing illegal immigrants being held in immigration jails across the country, Immigration and Customs Enforcement said Tuesday.

Gillian Christensen, an agency spokeswoman, did not say how released immigrants were selected or what jails they were released from.  

They just quietly let them out, public and community safety be damned?

Tuesday’s announcement of the releases is the first tangible impact of the looming budget cuts for the Department of Homeland Security.  


I guess they just wanted a head start, huh?

The Obama administration has been issuing dire warnings about the impact of the sequestration and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told reporters at the White House on Monday that across-the-board cuts would affect the department’s core operations, including border security and airport screening operations.

She also warned that the department might not be able to afford to keep the 34,000 immigration jail beds mandated by Congress. On average last week, there were 30,773 people being held in immigration jails.

According to the National Immigration Forum, it costs the government about $164 a day to keep an illegal immigrant facing deportation jailed. In a report on immigration detention costs last year the advocacy group said costs for supervised release can range from about 30 cents to $14 a day.

Republicans lawmakers decried the releases Tuesday.

‘‘It’s abhorrent that President Obama is releasing criminals into our communities to promote his political agenda on sequestration,’’ said Bob Goodlatte, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. ‘‘By releasing criminal immigrants onto the streets, the administration is needlessly endangering American lives.’’

Christensen said released immigrants would still face deportation proceedings.

But will they show up for it?

President Obama appealed to congressional Republicans on Tuesday to pass legislation delaying or softening the budget cuts. He traveled to Newport News, Va., where he stood in the facility that builds the country’s aircraft carriers, and warned that reductions in the Pentagon budget threatens the jobs of thousands of workers....  

Back to that again.


Also seeSequestration? Few can explain latest budget crisis

Many economists contend the tax provision was ill-conceived. It unfairly benefits wealthier people, they say. Paul Willen, economist for the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, said, “This is a real huge subsidy to rich people.”  It was created in 1913 to boost homeownership. 

It as part of the creation of the Federal Reserve so America would swallow the tyranny of private central banking.

Sunday Globe Special: Ryan Ready For a Fight

From the look what I found file.... 

"Paul Ryan says GOP has to pick its fights with Obama" January 27, 2013

WASHINGTON — Representative Paul Ryan Ryan said at the National Review Institute’s weekend conference on the future of conservatism, the major theme of the three-day meeting of conservative activists who also heard from Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin and Senator Ted Cruz of Texas....

Republicans said despite the losses, the party could return to power by projecting optimism and attracting new voters with a message of economic opportunity.

Walker, a star among conservatives after surviving a union-led campaign to recall him from office, said government needed ‘‘brown-bag common sense,’’ a reference to his frugal practice of packing his own lunch of ham-and-cheese sandwiches every day....

Cruz said Obama’s policies would drive many voters to Republicans just as many Americans turned to Ronald Reagan after the economic turmoil of the late 1970s.

Looking ahead, Ryan rejected the notion that Republicans were ‘‘in the wilderness,’’ noting that the party controls the House and most statehouses. But he said Obama’s victory over Romney meant that Republicans would need to recalibrate their approach to deal with the new political realities.

As chairman of the House Budget Committee, Ryan said Republicans needed to guard against a debt crisis for the country that would undermine the economy. He said he would promote changes to Medicare and Medicaid and would propose a budget ‘‘that will balance and pay down the debt.’’

November’s election results still linger. Ryan said he was ‘‘disappointed’’ by the outcome, saying he was ‘‘looking forward to taking on the big challenges’’ while living at the vice president’s residence. ‘‘My kids were looking forward to having a pool,’’ he joked.


 Unpopular cuts likely, Rep. Paul Ryan warns

Also see: Ryan Cost Romney the Election

Nominated For Your Consideration: On Drones Brennan Confirmation

It's tantamount to torture.... 

"Legislators urge drone program oversight" by Philip Elliott  |  Associated Press, February 11, 2013

WASHINGTON — President Obama’s use of unmanned drones to kill Americans who are suspected of being Al Qaeda allies deserves closer inspection, lawmakers said Sunday, and some of the president’s allies suggested an uneasiness about the program.

Obama’s stance toward the terrorist threats facing the United States has left some Democrats and Republicans alike nervous about the unmanned drones targeting the nation’s enemies from the skies. Questions about the deadly program dogged Obama’s pick to lead the Central Intelligence Agency last week and prompted lawmakers to consider tighter oversight. Killings carried out under the drone program have ballooned under the president’s watch.

Not the change I was looking for four years ago.

‘‘We are in a different kind of war,” said Senator Dick Durbin, Democrat of Illinois. “We’re not sending troops. We’re not sending manned bombers. We’re dealing with the enemy where we find them to keep America safe. We have to strike a new constitutional balance with the challenges we face today.”

Not the change I want going forward either. It's going to be drones flying over the entire planet in a complete surveillance grid. That's the new warfare we are going to be bringing people in the early 21st century? The faster this empire implodes the better for the world.

‘‘The policy is really unfolding. Most of this has not been disclosed,’’ the second-ranking Senate Democrat said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.’’ 

I'm sure the people under the whoosh-bang of the missiles know full well. 


The nomination of John Brennan, Obama’s counterterrorism adviser who oversaw many of the drone strikes from his office in the West Wing basement, kickstarted the discussion about how the United States prosecutes its fight against the terrorist group.

RelatedDroning On About John Brennan

What I find interesting is there is a lot less mention of his role in torture.

Senator Angus King, an independent from Maine, said on CNN’s “State of the Union’’ that he prefers a review before the remote-operated aircraft fire on someone.

‘‘It just makes me uncomfortable that the president — whoever it is — is the prosecutor, the judge, the jury and the executioner, all rolled into one,’’ King said. ‘‘So I’m not suggesting something that would slow down response, but where there is time to go in and submit it to a third party that is a court, in confidence, and get a judgment that, yes, there is sufficient evidence here.’’

Okay, points to be made: no one is suggesting the program be halted or scrapped, and the description given above is that of a literal dictator.

Bob Gates, former defense secretary and former CIA chief, suggested Sunday that ‘‘some check’’ on a president’s ability to order drone strikes against American Al Qaeda operatives would be appropriate and lent support to creating a special court that would review such requests.

‘‘I think that the rules and the practices that the Obama administration has followed are quite stringent and are not being abused. But who is to say about a future president?’’ said Gates, who also appeared on the CNN program. He was defense secretary under Obama and President George W. Bush. 

For a war criminal like Gates to say that means something.

The potential model that some lawmakers are considering for overseeing such drone attacks is a secret court of federal judges that now reviews requests for government surveillance in espionage and terrorism cases.

No, no, no, I'm tired of secret courts and secret prisons and secret plans. Let alone all this is based on a pack of lies.

In those proceedings, 11 federal judges review wiretap applications that enable the FBI and other agencies to gather evidence to build cases. Suspects have no lawyers present, as they would in other US courts, and the proceedings are secret.

The Democratic leader of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, said she intends to review proposals for ‘‘legislation to ensure that drone strikes are carried out in a manner consistent with our values.’’

Contrast that with her stand on gun legislation. 


RelatedFor Obama, a license to kill

You may not like it, may not like the author even, but it's true. He literally has the power to order anyone killed at any time anywhere in the world. 

Someone want to check that license to see if it's legal?

"Republicans were moving on other fronts to block Obama as he tries to put together his national security team. Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky has said he will place a hold on the nomination of the director of central intelligence, John O. Brennan, and Senator John McCain of Arizona and Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina also said they intended to use Brennan’s nomination to force the administration to answer questions about the September attack in Benghazi, Libya."

Related: Rand Paul’s Third Letter to the CIA: Can You Kill with Drones in the USA?

Still no response.

"White House warns on nomination delays" February 18, 2013

President Obama’s chief of staff said Sunday that the White House had ‘‘grave concern’’ that national security was at risk, given the Senate Republicans’ delaying tactics in confirming both a new Pentagon chief and a director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

The chief of staff, Denis McDonough, made the comment on ABC’s ‘‘This Week,’’ one of several Sunday shows where he made debut appearances as the top White House adviser.

He was reacting to the likelihood that neither former Senator Chuck Hagel, Obama’s nominee to be defense secretary, nor John O. Brennan, the president’s choice for the CIA, would get a Senate vote until late this month at the earliest....

Republicans led by Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Senator John McCain of Arizona have used senators’ prerogatives to hold up Brennan’s confirmation until they get more information from the administration about drone attacks and about its actions in the Sept. 11, 2012, terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya, that killed the US ambassador and three other Americans....

RelatedGraham's Grandstanding Gripes

McDonough, who was formerly Obama’s deputy national security adviser, working under Brennan, added that ‘‘between John Brennan as the CIA director and Chuck Hagel as secretary of defense, we want to make sure that we have those guys sitting in the chairs working. Because I don’t want there to have been something missed because of this hang-up here in Washington.’’

That's damn cryptic, isn't it? 


"The Senate also is holding up the nomination of John Brennan to be CIA director, with Republicans and Democrats seeking more information about the US policy on the use of drones. Hagel and Brennan would join Secretary of State John F. Kerry in Obama’s overhauled, second-term national security team."

Related: The Kerry Confirmation 

And he just sailed through, huh?

What I'm not letting sail by:

"New Drone Base in Niger Builds U.S. Presence in Africa

WASHINGTON — Opening a new front in the drone wars against Al Qaeda and its affiliates, President Obama announced on Friday that about 100 American troops had been sent to Niger in West Africa to help set up a new base from which unarmed Predator aircraft would conduct surveillance in the region.

The new drone base, located for now in the capital, Niamey, is an indication of the priority Africa has become in American antiterrorism efforts. The United States military has a limited presence in Africa, with only one permanent base, in Djibouti, more than 3,000 miles from Mali, where insurgents had taken over half the country until repelled by a French-led force.

Gee, the terrorist takeover really enabled AmeriKa to advance its plan (cui bono)?

In a letter to Congress, Mr. Obama said about 40 United States military service members arrived in Niger on Wednesday, bringing the total number of those deployed in the country to about 100 people. A military official said the troops were largely Air Force logistics specialists, intelligence analysts and security officers.

Mr. Obama said the troops, who are armed for self-protection, would support the French-led operation that last month drove the Qaeda and affiliated fighters out of a desert refuge the size of Texas in neighboring Mali.

Niger, one of the poorest countries in the world, signed a status-of-forces agreement last month with the United States that has cleared the way for greater American military involvement in the country and has provided legal protection to American troops there.

Print ended it there, and web Globe never even gave it to you. Talk about hiding something.

In an interview last month in Niamey, President Mahamadou Issoufou voiced concern about the spillover of violence and refugees from Mali, as well as growing threats from Boko Haram, an Islamist extremist group to the south, in neighboring Nigeria....

For now, American officials said, Predator drones will be unarmed and will fly only on surveillance missions, although they have not ruled out conducting missile strikes at some point if the threat worsens....

Translation: They are on their way.

The new drone base will join a constellation of small airstrips in recent years on the continent, including one in Ethiopia, for surveillance missions flown by drones or turboprop planes designed to look like civilian aircraft....

What was that last one?

As the United States increased its presence in Niger, Russia sent a planeload of food, blankets and other aid to Mali on Friday, a day after Foreign Minister Sergey V. Lavrov warned of the spread of terrorism in North Africa, which the Russian government has linked to Western intervention in Libya.

Mr. Lavrov met on Thursday with the United Nations special envoy for the region, Romano Prodi, to discuss the situation in Mali, where Russia has supported the French-led effort to oust Islamist militants. But Russia has also blamed the West for the unrest and singled out the French in particular for arming the rebels who ousted the Libyan leader, Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi....

In a television interview this month, Mr. Lavrov said, “France is fighting against those in Mali whom it had once armed in Libya against Qaddafi.”

Good way to get and keep war$ going, who benefits?


Russian officials have pointed repeatedly to the unrest in North Africa and the political turmoil in Egypt as evidence that the Western-supported Arab Spring has created a dangerous and chaotic situation and potential breeding grounds for terrorists. Russia has also used the examples of Libya and Egypt to justify its opposition to any Western effort to oust the government of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria. 

I now fully believe the Arab Spring was in fact manufactured to dump longtime leaders that were liabilities and to show the threat from political Islam. 


I could drone on and on, but.... 

"Hagel will lead Defense Dept. as Senate OK’s pick; Contentious process ended in close vote" by Jeremy W. Peters  |  New York Times, February 27, 2013

WASHINGTON — Attention is now turning to the coming vote by the Senate Intelligence Committee on the president’s nominee as CIA director, John O. Brennan.

The chances for Brennan remain good, though his confirmation is not expected to be smooth, as both Republicans and Democrats have raised objections over the agency’s use of drones to kill US citizens suspected of terrorism. Republicans also see the Brennan vote, like the fight over Hagel, as leverage to press other issues with the White House.

Senator Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon, said that he favored a longer confirmation process to force the White House to disclose more about the drone program. “There’s an old saw that after somebody is confirmed, they don’t even owe you a holiday card,” he said Tuesday. “This is the time for vigilant oversight.”

Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky, has called for similar disclosures on drones and has threatened to use “every procedural option at my disposal” to hold back Brennan’s nomination. Senator John McCain of Arizona and Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Republicans, have threatened to delay the nomination over another issue: the attack on the US diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya. Both made demands for information during the confirmation of Hagel, who, unlike Brennan, has had no role in formulating the Obama administration’s policies.

Even if these efforts serve only to inconvenience the White House and cause the president and his nominees mild political damage, Republicans say they are satisfied they are forcing the confirmation process to be deliberative.

“Probably the best known power of the United States Senate is advise and consent,” said Senator Lamar Alexander, a Tennessee Republican. “Movies have been made about it, books have been written about it. It’s what we do. And we’d be derelict in our duty if we didn’t examine the qualification of our president’s cabinet.”