Saints be praised, a deal on the debt ceiling has happened in our lifetime

Of course, when they reached the red zone, they still were burning time off the clock. But at least when they inched toward the goal line, they suddenly were able to punch it into the end zone — sort of.

Oops! Sorry. Getting too immersed in the free agency and post-lockout world of the NFL.
Meanwhile, back in the real world of American politics where supposedly all Republicans are fonts of wisdom and patriotism and all Democrats are village idiots if not borderline traitors, President Obama and Republican congressional leaders reached historic agreement tonight on a compromise to permit vital U.S. borrowing by the Treasury in exchange for more about $2.1 trillion and change in long-term spending cuts and assure the markets that a first-ever default on U.S. obligations won’t occur.
But before you get too excited, the House and Senate still must approve it. And we all know how they love to squabble in their perpetual partisan pissing match. So we will see how that goes.
Perhaps the details of the deal on raising the debt ceiling won’t be that horrific after all to either side. That’s because the president said the deal isn’t what he wanted and House Speaker John Boehner said it’s not the greatest. So hopefully both sides won’t think the deal sucks worse than the Houston Astros.
Which is what the long-lost art of compromise is all about. But in this time and place, such bipartisan deals happen as often as Lady Gaga knits her brow over the debt ceiling. So this is unchartered territory for many.
Right now, Obama and Boehner face the Herculean challenge of selling an imperfect deal to wary liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans, who likely still would disagree over whether the Earth is indeed flat. Especially if it impacts the 2012 polls.
Good luck with that, guys. This is a long par-5, so may the wind be at your backs as you tee this up.

How Republicans blew the surplus

Tick, tick, tick …

While the Doomsday Clock draws ever closer to the Aug. 2 debt limit deadline to to prevent a potentially disastrous default on U.S. obligations like interest payments and Social Security checks, the Democratic Senate and the Republican House keep rejecting plan after plan.

At least they are working on a Saturday. If you can call bumbling bluster work.

Listen up, class. While this nonsense persists, time for a little history lesson.

Bill Clinton’s 1999 budget was the first balanced budget in decades. It wasn’t supposed to be the last. Experts at the time projected $5.7 trillion in surpluses, a long arc of surpluses that by 2009 would wipe out our entire national debt.

The last time Uncle Sam didn’t owe a dime, Andy Jackson was president.

So what the hell happened?

Well, the Republicans screwed the pooch.

A Republican House, a Republican Senate, and a Republican president squandered the surplus.

Plain and simple.

As Paul Begala explains in the quoted sections below:

“In full possession of the federal government for the first time since Eisenhower, the GOP systematically dismanted the economic and fiscal policies that produced the strongest economy and largest budget surplus in our history.”


“A four-step process to disaster. They cut taxes (with a heavy tilt toward the rich), waged two wars on the national credit card (one of which was against a country that had nothing to do with 9/11 and posed no serious threat to America), passed a prescription drug benefit with no pay-for — the first entitlement in American history without a revenue source, and deregulated Wall Street — which transformed the American economy into a casino and triggered the Great Recession.”
Of course, Republicans are trying to cover up the blood on their hands by spreading the myth that the surplus went poof! because Washington went on a spending binge under a radical young president in Barack Obama, Which is total nonsense. It’s just a fabricated GOP storyline.
And the Republicans still are trying to screw the pooch.
“As the economy teeters on the precipice of a double-dip recession, as millions of Americans search in vain for a job, as tens of millions of homeowners are underwater, as poverty soars and the middle class is hammered, John Boehner is pushing a proposal that could well produce the greatest increase in poverty and hardship in modern U.S. history.
“Deep cuts in every domestic priority — from education for disabled children to food safety to homeland security to clean air and water. Followed by painful cuts in Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.
“But not a dollar in new revenue. Not one corporate loophole closed, not one billionaire asked to pay one penny in higher taxes.
“The Boehner-GOP plan is tantamount to class warfare.”
Begala finishes his piece by concluding that “the GOP seeks a banana republic: a toxic blend of right-wing populism, anti-intellectualism, debt defaults, and an end to the ladder of economic opportunity.
“Which would divide us into a few Haves and a lot of Have-Nots. And the Republicans would slowly crush the heart of progressive America — the rising middle class created by Democratic economic policies of education and empowerment.
“All the while preserving, protecting, and defending a tiny oligarchy of millionaires and billionaires.”
Of course, I realize that all you Republicans will dismiss all of this as pure delusional liberal rhetoric and skewer Begala and myself for picking up his narrative.
Sadly, such blind allegiance by conservatives to a misguided cause has all of us stuck in an economic quagmire, destined for a desolate future.

The Earth shudders on its axis as the Eagles sign coveted free agent prize Nnamdi Asomugha

OK, there are now two questions.
One, how in God’s universe did the Eagles pull THIS off?
Two, will the Birds give up a completed pass this entire season?
In the blockbuster of the wild and wacky NFL free agency frenzy this week, Philly hit the mother lode today.
The Eagles somehow landed the biggest prize on the market and it did it seemingly out of nowhere. Who knew they were such cunning devils?
The Birds signed Nnamdi Asomugha, one of the best if not the best cornerback in the league, for a relative bargain at five years and $60 million, with $25 million guaranteed.
Guaranteed, everybody in Iggles Nation swallowed their Adam’s Apple over this. And pinched themselves.
Now the Eagles have the best cornerback trio in the entire league in Asomugha, Asante Samuel and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. The latter was just acquired from Arizona in the Kevin Kolb trade.
Talk about cornering the market! Talk about shock and awe!
These days most NFL teams use three cornerbacks on most snaps, so there’s enough room for the Terrific Trio. According to a source, all three corners will remain on the team for the season — unless the Eagles get a fantastic trade offer.
The Eagles also signed wide receiver Johnnie Lee Higgins (formerly of the Raiders) and tight end Donald Lee (formerly of the Packers), two quality guys.
Throw in the signings of Vince Young as Michael Vick’s new backup and pass rusher Jason Babin and the Eagles now have so many toys that the porcine Andy Reid just might dress in Santa-red on the sideline this year.

Grandma and Grandpa may be holed up hungry without AC, thinking about the government

If Congress keeps hitting its head against the debt limit and knocking heads with each other (they all gotta have concussions by now), the government might skip the next round of Social Security payments.
That would be worse than bad news for many low-income and elderly Americans whose sole source of support is Social Security. After all, not everybody has a 401(k) fatter than Santa Claus.
Suddenly millions of Americans won’t be able to buy food or pay their utility bills, rent or mortgage. Good thing they don’t have country club memberships to worry about.
If Uncle Sam defaults, Grandma may wish that she had been run over by a reindeer.

Better late than never: Eagles deal Kolb for Rodgers-Cromartie and a No. 2 pick; land Babin

Finally, the Eagles stopped their Rip Van Winkle impersonation and woke up.

As soon as the lockout was lifted, NFL players were being trafficked like illegal drugs while the entire Eagles organization snored.

At least their alarm clock rang today and after an eternity of speculation, they did indeed trade backup quarterback Kevin Kolb to the Arizona Cardinals in exchange for cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and a second-round draft pick.

That was worth waiting for. A good deal for the Birds, who needed another corner more than Andy Reid needs to eat.

The Cards, who were unarmed at quarterback and desperate for anybody who could fling a spiral, extended Kolb’s contract five years for $63 million with over $20 million guaranteed. And he now gets to throw to stud wideout Larry Fitzgerald.

Meanwhile, the Eagles finally stopped slumbering in the free agent market and found themselves a pass rusher.

They have agreed to terms with defensive end Jason Babin, who played for the Birds in 2009 but wasn’t that effective in part-time duty. Now the Eagles are bringing him back with a five-year deal worth $28 million with roughly $5-6 million guaranteed.

Babin, who had 12.5 sacks last year, blossomed in Tennessee under Titans defensive line coach Jim Washburn, who by dumb luck now coaches the Philly D-line.
Perhaps all good things come to those who wait. We shall see.

Boehner goes Samson on conservative Republicans: "With a donkey's jawbone I have made donkeys of them"

John Boehner turned into John Wayne today.

The House Speaker, angry with conservatives openly defying his plan to raise the debt limit, told House Republicans to “get your ass in line” today in a private meeting.

Apparently the use of profanity turned Tea Partiers into quaking, quivering pats of butter.

“Republicans emerged from the meeting appearing to be more unified,” ABC News’ Jonathan Karl reported.

Apparently they knew you don’t give no lip to Big John.

Watch out for a plague of locusts to descend upon the land: Only 52 percent of Americans approve of God's job performance

First of all, a quick note to the Almighty: God, please don’t smite the messenger.

That being said, I simply want to report that in a recent poll only 52 percent of Americans approve of God’s job performance.

So much for being perfect and almighty, I guess.

It should be noted that just 9 percent disapprove of God’s job performance.

I don’t think the remaining 39 percent are undecided or sitting on a celestial fence. I just think they’re afraid lightning will strike if they disapprove.

A hasty P.S. to God: Count me in that 52 percent who think Thou art simply divine!

Obama, Boehner party on

An Obama-Boehner doubleheader. A back-to-back duel on national television. TV hasn’t been this comical since Milton Berle and Red Skeleton took off for the friendly skies. Monday night definitely was live theater. The Theater of the Absurd.

What is going on with the debt ceiling and the game of chicken over the default deadline is not a fiscal crisis. It’s a political catfight.
Last night’s duel simply punctuated that both parties still are championing their rival debt plans rather than reach a compromise. The art of compromise in Washington is a dead species. Throw out any bipartisan rhetoric that you have heard last night. Both sides are sporting starkly partisan agendas.
If this stubborn stalemate results in interest rates higher than the moon, Joe and Josie Sixpack ain’t gonna be happy with either party.

With the lockout over, Eagles in a mad dash to lock up fresh bodies

OK, now that the lockout has receded into the mists of history, it’s time for some football.

And plenty of wheeling and dealing as NFL teams engage in a wild human chess game scrambling to sign all sorts of free agents, making trades, inking (throwback sports slang for signing) draft choices and cutting vets to get under the salary cap. Talk about player transactions at warp speed. Meat on the hoof.

This is going to be more fun than Jell-O wrestling with Eagles cheerleaders.

For instance, just what will the Eagles, who open training camp at Lehigh Wednesday, do in terms of personnel?

Talk radio and bloggers have been going insane with enormous possibilities. Evidently Andy Reid will be so busy he won’t be able to eat for days.

Apparently the Birds may target pass rushers Ray Edwards of the Vikings, Jason Babin of the Titans and Charles Johnson of the Panthers; defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth (gag!) of the Redskins; and cornerbacks Nnamdi Asomugha of the Raiders, Ike Taylor of the Steelers, Johnathan Joseph of the Bengals and Carlos Rogers of the Redskins if they don’t acquire Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie in a trade with the Cardinals for quarterback Kevin Kolb.

Of course, there is plenty of speculation that the Eagles may pursue Vince Young of the Titans (who first must be waived) or the retired (yeah, right) Brett Favre as Michael Vick’s backup. Ditto wide receiver Plaxico Burress, late of the Giants and prison for shooting himself in the leg, and running back Reggie Bush of the Saints.

I say the Birds should add Young, Favre, Burress and Bush just for all the marquee drama and media frenzy. A shame a defanged Rupert Murdoch can’t get in this scrum.

Whatever the Birds do, they had better land quality at pass rusher, cornerback and backup quarterback if Kolb goes or they would have been better off staying locked out.

Twin terror attacks savage Norway

As long as the world has people infested with primitive darkness who work in the shadows of terror, nobody is safe. These villains are messengers of death. And nobody knows where they will pounce next.

Death was delivered in horrific fashion to Norway, of all places, today.

A bomb ripped open government buildings, including the prime minister’s office in the capital of Olso, the site of the Nobel Peace Prize. A man dressed as a police officer opened fire at an island youth camp connected to the ruling party At least seven people were killed in the bomb blast and a witness said more than 20 died in the camp shootings, the peaceful nation’s worst violence since World War II.

Police said the two attacks were linked.

Except for WWII and Viking raids centuries ago, Norway hardly has been a vortex of violence.

No longer.