Boehner and Obama playing hardball about a fiscal cliff that hardly will have a soft landing

I always see the glass as half full instead of half empty because I know there’s always a nearby bottle to refill the glass.
Which is why I still have a hunch that John Boehner and Barack Obama will not let us plunge off the fiscal cliff as if we’re a bunch of Mexican cliff divers on an old Wide World of Sports program.
Public posture isn’t always private poker.
Waiting to see what unfolds here is worse than waiting for Godot.
These two guys are grumping and glowering enough to make us wonder if we’re cruising for a boulevard of broken dreams.
Boehner declared Friday that “we’re almost nowhere” near a deal to avoid the fast approaching fiscal cliff, lashing out at Obama for insisting on higher taxes for the wealthy without proposing enough spending cuts.
Earlier today in his first campaign-style event to sell his solution on the fiscal cliff, Obama said in the Philadelphia suburb of Hatfield that Republicans should extend existing Bush-era tax rates for households earning $250,000 or less while allowing increases to kick in for the wealthy, emphasizing that a tax increase for middle class families would be like a lump of coal for Christmas.
Lower, middle and upper classes will be eating nothing but lumps of coal if we plunge over the fiscal cliff.
What’s the severe downside?
Going over the cliff would suck more than $600 billion worth of fiscal stimulus out of the economy in 2013.
The Congressional Budget Office predicts that the post-cliff economy would shrink for the first half of the year, at an annualized pace of 1.3 percent. Bad news for an economy that still as relatively comatose as Judge Crater.
But the really bad news comes when our creditors want their money back and we don’t have it.
The amount of debt held by the public has increased from $4.9 trillion in the beginning of 2007 to $11.5 trillion today – from 36 percent of GDP to 75 percent of GDP. That is scarier than Joan Rivers without makeup. And you know how scary she is with makeup.
Our debt is increasing by about $2 billion a day. With interest rates so low, that much debt is not currently a problem. But if interest rates increased just 2 percent, we’d have to pay an additional $230 billion every year in interest costs. If they go up to 5 percent, which would be closer to their historical norm, we’ll be on the hook for half a trillion dollars a year.
The deficit has more ways to hose us than a guy selling Rolexes on a street corner.
That’s when things really become a tinderbox.

Private White House lunch with Obama just had to give Romney indigestion

It had to be more awkward than passing gas in public for Mitt Romney to be at the White House today for lunch with President Obama.

After all, Romney had been hoping to move into the place in January.

Of course, even the Make A Wish folks couldn’t make that dream come true.

Obama invited Romney because it makes the president appear bipartisan while he’s urging Republicans to compromise on his tax plan to skirt the fiscal cliff.

Then again with Romney essentially reduced to a leper in GOP circles, the bipartisan component was more watered down than a mixed drink in a dive bar.

The lunch meeting was closed to the media, which always loves a free lunch.

Apparently the focus of the Obama-Romney discussion wasn’t on why Obama was out to lunch during their first debate.

The lunch conversation focused on America’s leadership in the world and the importance of maintaining that leadership position in the future. Now there’s a controversial point of contention.

They pledged to stay in touch; particularly if opportunities to work together on shared interests arise in the future.

If Romney does work with the White House in some fashion, it likely would make him even more of a persona non grata with Republicans. But it would bring him back from the political dead before they chisel an epitaph on his tombstone.

Obama and Boehner still dancing the Paso Doble on the precipice of the fiscal cliff

Avoiding the upcoming fiscal cliff may be a dream with cold fingers.

As you may have heard when not preoccupied with Dancing With The Stars, President Obama and Congress are doing all sorts of dance steps, otherwise known as political maneuvering, these days.

Their focus is negotiating a possible agreement to avoid tax increases and deep spending cuts set to take effect in five weeks — the fiscal cliff scenario that analysts fear could push the country back into recession and have the incomparable Zeke holding a tin cup at Fifth and Penn in cold weather.

So needless to say I have a vested interest in this fight but I fear that my voice is a bird trapped inside a tenement.

Fear, by the way, is a beast you must keep feeding fresh kills to keep it quiet; giving the beast a snack to hold it until morning.

Which is why I’m trying to have a pony under the tree optimism that the fiscal cliff showdown will be thee parts Dr. Jekyll to two parts Mr. Hyde.

Obama took his fight to the public today, urging Americans to call, e-mail, tweet and smoke signal their members of Congress to urge immediate passage of his proposal to extend tax cuts for most Americans while allowing rates on the wealthiest 2 percent to increase to 1990s levels.

Two conservative Republican congressmen, Tom Cole and Tim Scott, actually said — I’m not making this up – that they thought the Obama tax plan would pass the House, a measure that already has passed the Senate.

But John Boehner shot that talk down as if it were a clay pigeon and House GOP aides insisted there was no plan to bring the proposal up for a vote.

Which means that damn fear once again is churning like a cement mixer in my gut – an uncomfortable feeling when you still haven’t fully digested your Thanksgiving Day dinner.

The Andy Reid era, uh, error

They won’t be painting this Eagles’ season in watercolor and preserving it on a postcard.
Unless they mail it to Andy Reid to torture him during his exile in Belarus, which I hear is nice this time of year.
Monday night, of course, the Birds totally fell into the abyss — losing to a bad Panthers team 30-22.
The Eagles now have lost seven straight. Even the Phillies have won a game since the Birds last did.
Fourteen seasons Reid has steered the ship. The steering wheel won’t be in his hands much longer. The captain must go down with the ship.
This is going to be a coyote ugly death watch.
Granted, thousands of no-shows opted not to watch in person last night. They had better things to do, like flinging themselves down on hundreds of tacks.
The Eagles defense should work for the Postal Service because it’s mailing it in. Todd Bowles has the D scrambling mindlessly about like field mice. They couldn’t sniff the football even if it had garlic on it.
I hate to rush to judgment, but I’m thinking Nick Foles isn’t ready for prime time. His performance so far hasn’t been a magnet to attract potential new head coaches.
Speaking of a rush to judgment, could Eagles’ rookie Bryce Brown be the next Jimmy Brown?
In his first start since high school, Brown, an intoxicating blend of size and speed, rushed for 178 yards – including a 65-yard touchdown bolt. But two fumbles put a big kink in his debut.
The kid’s bobbles fit into the evening’s narrative arc of errors.

9 out of 10 doctors agree that competing in a cockroach-eating contest can shorten your shelf life

Most of us likely wonder from time to time on how we are going to die.

Once upon a time I thought I was going to die in an epic battle while storming an English medieval castle to rescue a damsel in distress.

But now I think I’m going to die in my sleep. That takes a lot less effort than swinging a broadsword at knights who are pouring burning oil on you as you scale the castle wall.

I’m not sure if Edward Archbold of West Palm Beach, Fla., ever envisioned how he was going to die. But I have a hunch he didn’t think he was going to exit life the way he did at age 32.

Then again, I’m also not sure if anybody who enters a cockroach-eating contest after competing in a superworm-eating contest earlier that same night is capable of thought.

Archbold collapsed after winning a cockroach-eating contest last month at a Florida pet store.

I can’t help but think of that adage that you are what you eat.

A Broward County Medical Examiner report released today said Archbold choked to death.

No kidding. You didn’t have to go to med school to figure that out.

Archbold ate dozens of giant cockroaches so he could win an ivory-ball python. Alas, Archbold never lived long enough to enjoying doing whatever people do with an ivory-ball python.
According to the medical report, the death was deemed an accident as a result of “arthropod body parts” blocking Archbold’s airways.

It’s hard to swallow how anybody could bring themselves to binge on giant cockroaches. Brussel sprouts are bad enough.

Of course, dozens of giant cockroaches could climb down anybody’s throat one night while sleeping.

That’s my I make it a habit never to sleep in a cockroach motel.

The skinny on deficit math: Clinton-era spending levels have to ride in tandem with Clinton-era tax rates

I so wish I had the utmost confidence that Democrats and Republicans will soon stop doodling and start wrestling that dyspeptic alligator otherwise known as that dreaded fiscal cliff.
But I don’t. And it’s not just because partisanship is imprisoning us in a time of meanness and darkness.
I’m dubious because a microbe’s cunning is not lurking inside any of them when it comes to explaining just how we can return to Bill Clinton-era tax rates without slicing spending to Clinton’s levels.
According to official government figures, the feds collected revenues totaling 20.6 percent of the gross domestic product in 2000, the final full year of Clinton’s term.

Under Obama in 2012, however, Washington spent money at a near-record rate of 24.3 percent of the GDP.

Even with all of Clinton’s tax revenues, that still would have left a deficit of 3.7 percent of GDP.

Simply put, Uncle Sam has to cease spending money as if everybody in America is celebrating birthdays every day and everybody is invited.

Does it ever end? With Israel and Hamas OK for now, Macy balloons now imperil humanity

The good news today is that Israel has agreed to a ceasefire with Hamas.

The bad news is the ceasefire could stick about as well as a wet Post-it note. Or as long as a Kim Kardashian and Larry King marriage.

After all, the Middle East has hardly been a destination stop for everlasting happy times. There’s a reason it’s not called Nirvana and is short on Kurt Cobain posters.

While both sides agreed in principal for a truce, there was no agreement on the key demands — leading to a second phase of talks that will address the issues that Hillary Clinton will be involved in.

The devil is always in the details. So don’t hold your breath until Gaza turns into Haight-Ashbury, circa 1967.

In eight days of fighting, more than 140 Palestinians and five Israelis have died.

While the Mideast powder key leading to Armageddon always is as much as a pressing concern as the muddled state of the Eagles’ OL and Andy Reid’s violated serenity, there apparently is something graver facing us on this Thanksgiving eve: The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Never mind that they only hold the silly and senseless parade to fill air time before the football games, family ties and turkey feasts kick off.

The Macy’s parade evidently is a threat to mankind because it boasts 16 gigantic balloons and is squandering the dwindling global supply of helium.

Helium does a few things a tad more vital than filling balloons and making otherwise humorless people squeak like Mickey Mouse after inhaling.

No other gas is as light without being combustible. And it’s indispensable for aerospace engineering, deep-sea diving and cryogenics.
What’s more, without liquefied helium we wouldn’t be able to make the superconducting magnets like those in MRIs, which is sort of important if a runaway Macy’s balloon blows your way and fractures some of your limbs.
Happy Thanksgiving you all and hopefully your bellies don’t feel as if they’re filled with helium after you squat and gobble your holiday dinner.