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Obama to blink first on Social Security

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  • Could the President lay the bombshell of cutting Social Security in 2011?
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  • Republicans win three ways. They have a Democratic president doing their work for them, destroying the Democratic capacity to use affirmative.
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Robert Kuttner, Politico

Submitted by Evergreene Digest Contributing Editor Lydia Howell

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The tax deal negotiated by President Barack Obama and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky is just the first part of a multistage drama that is likely to further divide and weaken Democrats.

The second part, now being teed up by the White House and key Senate Democrats, is a scheme for the president to embrace much of the Bowles-Simpson plan — including cuts in Social Security. This is to be unveiled, according to well-placed sources, in the president’s State of the Union address.

The idea is to pre-empt an even more draconian set of budget cuts likely to be proposed by the incoming House Budget Committee chairman, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), as a condition of extending the debt ceiling. This is expected to hit in April.

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Could the President lay the bombshell of cutting Social Security in 2011? Kenneth Schortgen, Jr, Examiner.com
The rebellion by Democratic Congressmen against President Obama during the tax cut compromise may be just an introduction to the politics of 2011 when the Republican's take over the House.  No matter what is passed, or has been passed, without the House willing to fund projects and programs they become only as good as the paper they are written upon.

The TSA's state-mandated molestation

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  • The humiliations of the patdown policy, which Janet Napolitano wants to expand, are an Orwellian assault on American freedom.
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  • The ACLU maintains an ever-growing database of these indignities, many so graphic they're illegal to broadcast over public airwaves. Actions that violate FCC standards are embraced by the TSA.
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  • Rape Victim Arrested After Refusing TSA Pat-Down
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Jennifer Abel, London Guardian | UK/Reader Supported News

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A TSA officer signals an airline passenger forward at a security checkpoint at Seattle-Tacoma international airport, Washington State. Photograph: Elaine Thompson/AP

The holiday brought bittersweet news: unless the Transportation Security Authority disbands, I'll never see a certain friend of mine again. His long-term unemployment finally ended, and next month, he starts a great new job. But it's in Texas, too far to drive; from my place in Connecticut to his new home in San Antonio is 2,000 miles – 500 more than separates London from Moscow.

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As an American – that is, someone considered lucky to get seven consecutive days off work – the only way I could possibly travel such distance is to fly. But flying includes the legal obligation I submit to having my genitalia groped by some TSA thug wearing the same latex gloves already shoved down nine dozen other strangers' underwear. There's only two ways an American flyer can reliably avoid this: be rich enough to buy your own plane, or a high-ranking congressman or other VIP exempt from the indignities they inflict upon ordinary citizens.

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Rape Victim Arrested After Refusing TSA Pat-Down, KVUE-TV | TX
An Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (TX) (ABIA) spokesman says it is TSA policy that anyone activating a security alarm has two options.  One is to opt out and not fly, and the other option is to subject themselves to an enhanced pat down.  Hirschkind refused both and was arrested.

Defending EPA Against the Coming Right Wing Attack

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It is good politics for President Obama to protect and defend EPA

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Steven Cohen, Huffington Post

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I recently proposed a modest Green Agenda for the Obama Administration and the next Congress. While much of the agenda is positive and forward moving, a key element of the agenda is defensive: protecting the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency against the mindless onslaught of the radical right wing. I admit I am not an unbiased observer of EPA. I first worked EPA in 1977, when I helped staff a task force on public participation in EPA's water programs. After graduate school, I worked for EPA in 1980 and 1981, developing the community relations program for Superfund, and in the 1990's I worked as a consultant to Ron Brand, the visionary founder of EPA's Office of Underground Storage Tanks.

I've been in and around EPA for most of my career and it is an agency filled with talented and dedicated scientists, lawyers, administrators and other experts. Its organizational culture is not without flaws, but for four decades it has taken the lead in reducing our economy's impact on our natural environment. It has managed the trick of allowing our economy to grow while reducing many key pollutants.

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Is Barack Obama the Problem?

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  • Despite some recent victories like repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” many on the American Left are feeling a cumulative disgust toward President Barack Obama, not just for his generally timid policy choices but – even more so – for his failure to articulate and fight for progressive values.
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  • President Obama is neither weak nor stupid... nor a progressive
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Robert Parry, Consortium News

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After eight years of getting bullied by President George W. Bush – and even longer by Fox News, talk radio and congressional Republicans – many progressives, including many young voters, wanted a passionate advocate in the mold of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, himself a member of the American elite who treated his class with a knowing disdain. They got instead a silver-tongued conciliator who strives for the elite’s blessings.

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So, even as Obama ticks off his legislative accomplishments – from helping women get a fair wage in his administration’s early days to his Wednesday signing of a law repealing the “don’t ask, don’t tell” rules for gays in the U.S. military – the President is not likely to gain much traction with his liberal “base” because he has failed to be what many of them hoped he would be: a battler.

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President Obama is neither weak nor stupid... nor a progressive, Laurence Lewis, Daily Kos

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  • Politicians are but political tools, and they are not the only political tools. They are only as useful as the agendas they are willing to pursue. We don't owe them our loyalty, they owe us theirs. There are other political tools, and there are means of organizing that transcend the elective political game. It's about the issues. Given the gravity of the stakes, we have to focus on the issues, without excuses, and in some cases without compromise. That means we have to accept some politicians when there are no immediate alternatives, and we have to try to push them to do better and to be better even when it is counter to their own political ideologies, but it also means we can't pretend they are something they are not; and it also means we have to create a climate where there will be better and legitimate alternatives.
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  • Note to “the Left”: Obama Hates You
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