The first Obama administration was focused too much on saving the banks and Wall Street. There's going to be a big populist push on whoever's running for office to espouse these kinds of progressive policies. -- Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa)
The Washington Post discovers Elizabeth Warren. AND Bernie Sanders says he'll run for president if no other progressives do. ...
... Steve Coll of the New Yorker: "The grassroots left, which seemed scattered and demoralized after the Occupy movement fizzled, has revived itself this year -- with help from union money and professional canvassers -- by rallying voters around the argument that anyone who works full time ought not to be at risk of poverty.... The movement has momentum because most Americans believe that the federal minimum wage -- seven dollars and twenty-five cents an hour, the same as it was in 2009 -- is too low. A family of four dependent on a single earner at that level -- making fifteen thousand dollars a year -- is living far below the federal poverty line."
Lena Sun of the Washington Post: "Administration officials announced Sunday that they had met their Saturday deadline for improving HealthCare.gov after completing a series of hardware upgrades and software fixes to the troubled Web site. A progress report released Sunday morning by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said: 'While we strive to innovate and improve our outreach and systems for reaching consumers, we believe we have met the goal of having a system that will work smoothly for the vast majority of users.'" ...
... Sheryl Gay Stolberg & Michael Shear of the New York Times: "The story of how the administration confronted one of the most perilous moments in Mr. Obama's presidency -- drawn from documents and from interviews with dozens of administration officials, lawmakers, insurance executives and tech experts working inside the HealthCare.gov 'war room' -- reveals an insular White House that did not initially appreciate the magnitude of its self-inflicted wounds, and sought help from trusted insiders as it scrambled to protect Mr. Obama's image." ...
... Kathleen Sebelius, in a Huffington Post column, shares "some consumer friendly tips for individuals looking for quality affordable health insurance." ...
... Tim Egan: "The Republican Party started a failure campaign earlier this year.... With the disastrous rollout of the federal exchange, Republicans now smell blood. A recent memo outlined a far-reaching, multilevel assault on the Affordable Care Act. Horror stories -- people losing their lousy health insurance -- will be highlighted, and computer snafus celebrated.... It's hard to remember a time when a major political party and its media arm were so actively rooting for fellow Americans to lose."
Anthony Faiola of the Washington Post: "... the Guardian is being called to account by British authorities for jeopardizing national security [by publishing classified documents which Edward Snowden leaked to the paper]. The Guardian's top editor, Alan Rusbridger, is being forced to appear before a parliamentary committee on Tuesday to explain the news outlet's actions. The move comes after British officials ordered the destruction of hard drives at the paper's London headquarters, even as top ministers have taken to the airwaves to denounce the outlet. Scotland Yard has also suggested it may be investigating the paper for possible breaches of British law."
Henry Blodget, in Slate: No, rich people don't create jobs. Consumers with money to spend create jobs.
CW: This weekend, the Washington Post ran a column by Dana Milbank in which Milbank argues that restoring the draft & forcing all Americans to serve would make for better government because, um, ex-soldiers make better lawmakers. I didn't link the column because I thought it was stupid. Milbank notes that we currently have the lowest percentage of veterans in Congress since World War II & we haven't had a war vet president since Pappy Bush. Steve M. of NMMNB notes a little flaw in Milbank's theory: "Was Milbank nodding off in Philosophy 101 when his professor explained what a post hoc fallacy is? The number of people using rotary telephones is also at the lowest point in living memory -- and the condition of Congress is about as likely to be influenced by that societal change as it is to be influenced by the decline in military service among members of Congress.... What I think is the real reason we have a terrible government: the fact that heartland whites from outer-ring suburbia and exurbia have been encouraged for decades not to believe that other Americans are really their fellow citizens."
Frank Norris of the New York Times: "... the banking industry, which seems to have no desire to stand behind its loans, as well as consumer advocates and the housing industry" are all lobbying to gut the provisions of Dodd-Frank that force mortgage lenders to have "skin in the game"; i.e., to shoulder some of the risk for loans. One of the major causes of the financial meltdown of 2008 was, after all, the fact that mortgage lenders didn't seem to care if the mortgages they sold were ever paid off.
Jack Healy of the New York Times: "Crime has soared [in Montana & North Dakota oil country] as thousands of workers and rivers of cash have flowed into towns, straining police departments and shattering residents' sense of safety.... Amid all of that new money, reports of assault and theft have doubled or even tripled, and the police say they are rushing from call to call, grappling with everything from bar brawls and shoplifting to kidnappings and attempted murders. Traffic stops for drunken or reckless driving have skyrocketed; local jails are spilling over with drug suspects."
Ah, Capitalism. Ross Douthat figures out how to integrate Pope Francis's exhortation into his own conservative framework. CW: Douthat's effort necessarily includes aspects that stretch logic to the breaking point, but Francis does manage to snap Douthat out of any Ayn-Randian fantasies. It will be fun/infuriating to watch Paul Ryan integrate Francis's exhortation into the Ryan Plan for the Poor.
Philip Pullella of Reuters: "Proponents of a female priesthood say frescoes in the newly restored Catacombs of Priscilla prove there were women priests in early Christianity. The Vatican says such assertions are sensationalist 'fairy tales'. The catacombs, on Rome's Via Salaria, have been fully reopened after a five-year project that included laser technology to clean some of the ancient frescoes and a new museum to house restored marble fragments of sarcophagi." ...
... More News about Ladies & the Spirit of Christmas. Karen Araisa of NBC Philiadelphia: "One woman apparently used a stun gun on another after an all-out brawl inside of the Franklin Mills Mall in Northeast Philadelphia." With video of these lovely ladies duking it out.
Karzai Still Crazy. Reuters: "Afghan President Hamid Karzai accused his U.S. ally on Sunday of withholding military supplies to press him to sign a bilateral security deal that will shape the U.S. military presence after most foreign troops leave in 2014."
Los Angeles Times: "In hopes of ensuring that the next man on the moon is Chinese, Beijing launched a rocket carrying a buggy-like vehicle that is expected to roam and explore the moon's surface for three months."
New York Times: "More than 100,000 people took to the streets of Kiev on Sunday, and thousands more rallied in other cities across Ukraine, to demand the resignation of President Viktor F. Yanukovich, the largest outpouring of fury so far over his refusal to sign far-reaching political and trade accords with the European Union."
New York Times: "At least four people were killed after a Metro-North Railroad train derailed Sunday morning in the Bronx along the Hudson River, officials said. A total of 67 people were injured -- 11 critically...."