Chart of the day

From the Onion:

Toles on the Ryan budget

  Tom Toles on the budget battle: Collection of cartoons on Obama’s budget and the fight to get it right.

Hostages, chicken, and the debt ceiling

Both Drum and Yglesias had nice posts yesterday on Obama’s seemingly foolish strategy on how to deal with the debt ceiling.  Yglesias starts things off with the hostage metaphor:

Raising the debt ceiling is unpopular, which may seem to militate against taking a hard line on it, but the reality is that the debt ceiling is going to get raised. This isn’t a voting issue for anyone in the electorate, but as Politico reports it is life or death for Wall Street:

[quote here about Wall Street really wanting the debt ceiling raised ASAP]

This is why the correct posture for the White House is as follows:

— Complete and utter willingness to raise the debt ceiling. Enthusiasm, even.
— Complete and utter unwillingness to exchange anything for a debt ceiling increase. Rabid hostility, even.

Then the question becomes “do a majority of members of congress favor raising the debt ceiling?” And the fact of the matter is that the answer is yes. Boehner isn’t even asking Wall Street whether or not raising the ceiling is a good idea. He takes it for granted that it’s a good idea. He’s just asking them how much screwing around he can get away with. And they’re telling him that they don’t like screwing around. Of course these are rich people, so they’ll tolerate some screwing around if it’s done in pursuit of lower taxes on rich people. But at the end of the day if the White House simply refuses to get sucked into a negotiation, the debt ceiling will be raised.

Drum goes with the “game of chicken” metaphor:

The debt ceiling fight is different [from the budget fight]: it’s not obviously tied to anything in particular, which means the side that starts festooning it with extraneous pet issues is pretty obviously the side that’s preventing a debt ceiling increase. So if Boehner and the tea partiers look genuinely willing to let the United States default on its debt unless they get a bunch of goodies in return, there’s not much question who gets the blame. Republicans do.

So yes: the president can safely demand a clean bill and be pretty sure that he’ll win the PR battle. All the VSPs will be on his side, the public will almost certainly come around as the consequences of playing chicken are laid out in graphic detail, and Boehner will end up feeling a level of heat that he just can’t stand up to. This time, Obama holds the winning hand as long as he’s willing to play it.

Liberal bloggers agree– regardless of the metaphor, Obama is in the good position if he plays his card right (why not end on another metaphor).

Breast cancer isn’t sexy!

Dahlia Lithwick yesterday linked to this news on facebook:

Breast cancer fundraising bracelets that proclaim “I (heart) boobies!” are not lewd or vulgar and can’t be banned by public school officials who find them offensive, a federal judge in Pennsylvania said Tuesday in a preliminary ruling.

We can search your lockers whenever we want, but we can’t regulate what it says on your wrist.  Anyway, I hate campaigns of this nature, so I wrote in response:

As a proud feminist, I object to the “I heart boobies” and the “save the ta-tas” campaign we had here in NC because it seems to me that the subtext of using these terms is “save the breast as a sexual object.” The subtext should simply be “let’s save women’s lives.”

Eight comment “likes” from total strangers– that made me feel good.  Anyway, one linked to this excellent piece in the Times that makes the same point as me, only much better.

That rubber bracelet is part of a newer, though related, trend: the sexualization of breast cancer. Hot breast cancer. Saucy breast cancer. Titillating breast cancer! The pain of “First You Cry” has been replaced by the celebration of “Crazy Sexy Cancer,” the title of a documentary about a woman “looking for a cure and finding her life.”

Sassy retail campaigns have sprung up everywhere, purporting to “support the cause.” There is Save the Ta-Tas (a line that includes T-shirts and a liquid soap called Boob Lube), Save Second Base, Project Boobies (the slogan on its T-shirts promoting self-exam reads, “I grab a feel so cancer can’t steal,” though the placement of its hot-pink handprints makes it virtually impossible for them to belong to the shirt’s wearer). There is the coy Save the Girls campaign, whose T-shirt I saw in the window of my local Y.M.C.A. And there is “I ❤ Boobies” itself, manufactured by an organization called Keep a Breast (get it?)…

By contrast, today’s fetishizing of breasts comes at the expense of the bodies, hearts and minds attached to them. Forget Save the Ta-Tas: how about save the woman? How about “I ❤ My 72-Year-Old One-Boobied Granny?” After all, statistically, that’s whose “second base” is truly at risk.

Rather than being playful, which is what these campaigns are after, sexy cancer suppresses discussion of real cancer, rendering its sufferers — the ones whom all this is supposed to be for — invisible. It also reinforces the idea that breasts are the fundamental, defining aspect of femininity. My friend’s daughter may have been uncertain about what her bracelet “for breast cancer” meant, but I am betting she got that femininity equation loud and clear.

I hate to be a buzz kill, but breast cancer is just not sexy. It’s not ennobling. It’s not a feminine rite of passage. And, though it pains me to say it, it’s also not very much fun. I get that the irreverence is meant to combat crisis fatigue, the complacency brought on by the annual onslaught of pink, yet it similarly risks turning people cynical. By making consumers feel good without actually doing anything meaningful, it discourages understanding, undermining the search for better detection, safer treatments, causes and cures for a disease that still afflicts 250,000 women annually (and speaking of figures, the number who die has remained unchanged — hovering around 40,000 — for more than a decade).

Great stuff.  Turns out, the author is also the author of Cinderalla ate my daughter, a book I’ve very much looking forward to reading.

The Obama we’ve been waiting for

In yesterday’s speech about his budget plans, Obama finally makes a full-throated liberal defense of the welfare state.  And a damn good one.  About time.  Salon’s Joan Walsh does a nice job with the highlights:

Obama acknowledged our American history as “rugged individualists, a self-reliant people with a healthy skepticism of too much government.” But he quickly identified “another thread running throughout our history:”

A belief that we are all connected; and that there are some things we can only do together, as a nation. We believe, in the words of our first Republican president, Abraham Lincoln, that through government, we should do together what we cannot do as well for ourselves. And so we’ve built a strong military to keep us secure, and public schools and universities to educate our citizens. We’ve laid down railroads and highways to facilitate travel and commerce. We’ve supported the work of scientists and researchers whose discoveries have saved lives, unleashed repeated technological revolutions, and led to countless new jobs and entire industries. Each of us has benefited from these investments, and we are a more prosperous country as a result.

Part of this American belief that we are all connected also expresses itself in a conviction that each one of us deserves some basic measure of security. We recognize that no matter how responsibly we live our lives, hard times or bad luck, a crippling illness or a layoff, may strike any one of us. “There but for the grace of God go I,” we say to ourselves, and so we contribute to programs like Medicare and Social Security, which guarantee us health care and a measure of basic income after a lifetime of hard work; unemployment insurance, which protects us against unexpected job loss; and Medicaid, which provides care for millions of seniors in nursing homes, poor children, and those with disabilities. We are a better country because of these commitments. I’ll go further – we would not be a great country without those commitments.

I especially love this part, as I’ve often felt that Democrats were the party of “there, but for the Grace of God, go I.”  Democrats understand that bad things happen to good people.  Republicans often seem to implicitly assume that if you are struggling, it must be your fault.

He even takes on the ridicilous rise in inequality:

Think about it. In the last decade, the average income of the bottom 90% of all working Americans actually declined. The top 1% saw their income rise by an average of more than a quarter of a million dollars each. And that’s who needs to pay less taxes? They want to give people like me a two hundred thousand dollar tax cut that’s paid for by asking thirty three seniors to each pay six thousand dollars more in health costs? That’s not right, and it’s not going to happen as long as I’m President.

Walsh concludes, “That’s the president I voted for.”  Couldn’t have said it better myself.

%d bloggers like this: