Monday, November 12, 2012


Avedon Carol and Jay Ackroyd were panelists on this week's Virtually Speaking Sundays, where I quoted commenter Richard Bensam from below: "Is there already a term for the political philosophy of conducting governance as if elections don't actually take place and everything has to be decided by an evenly-divided bipartisan coalition of conservative Democrats and hard-line Republicans? It seems like there ought to be a word for that if only to spare people a good deal of typing." Now that has got to be "centrist". (I also refer to our glorious Democratic leadership's successful effort to prevent what would have been a really nice - and easily possible - victory in defeating Paul Ryan. But Steve Israel didn't want to do that.)

So, with Bill Kristol signaling like crazy that it's okay to raise taxes (as long as it's just the incredibly small tax-hike the Dem leadership is asking for), we have:

Gaius Publius reporting, "Leaked deal memo for last year's Grand Bargain: 'Obama willing to go quite far'" - which, according to Bob Woodward, shows "a willingness to cut all kinds of things, like TRICARE, which is the sacred health insurance program for the military, for military retirees; to cut Social Security; to cut Medicare," and "We want to get tax rates down, not only for individuals but for businesses." In other words, Obama wants to cut good programs and give corporations more tax cuts.

Dean Baker reporting that "It's Monday and Robert Samuelson Doesn't Like Social Security and Medicare" - Yes, it's the conservative Washington Post keeping that drumbeat going! (Please take note: "In the case of Medicare, benefits were extended to cover prescription drugs, but this only became an issue because government granted patent monopolies sent the price of drugs through the roof. Drugs were not included in the original program in 1966 because their cost was trivial, but patent monopolies for drug companies now allow them to sell drugs at prices that are close to $250 billion a year above the free market price. Serious people might worry more about all the waste associated with these patent monopolies than the fact that the government is helping seniors pick up the tab for their drugs.")

Paul Krugman saying deficit scolds shouldn't be listened to, since (a) deficits are not bad in the current circumstances and we need more spending, (b) they are lying about caring about the deficits, and (c) they really just want to cut good programs that are good for Americans.

Your centrist Democratic leadership goes on TV to make fun of you for wanting a better country for everyone. Ed Rendell makes it clear that Obama is not interested in you, and neither is Ed Rendell, because his real base is in the Senate.

And, as if that weren't enough, Another Lame Duck Session Horrorshow: "First, Let's Kill All the Regulators" Bill: "No matter how bad things seem to be, there are always ways for them to become worse. While the campaign against Medicare and Social Security is being couched in the sort of faux inevitability that has become familiar via European austerity measures, other pernicious lame duck session measures are moving forward in the hope no one will notice. Dave Dayen wrote up a remarkably ugly one last Friday. Here we have just been through a wreck-the-economy level global crisis which was in large measure due to deregulation. The measure underway would not only weaken already pathetic regulators like the SEC but for good measure would hobble other ones like the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (after Fukushima, how can anyone with an ounce of sense argue for less stringent oversight of nuclear facilities?)." Dday's piece is here. And over at the Great Orange Satan, Charley James called it "Joe Lieberman's Parting 'F U America!' Shot [...] Lieberman's bill to defang regulatory agencies has bi-partisan support in the committee - perhaps not entirely surprising given that its Republican members include Tom Coburn, outgoing Senator Scott Brown, John McCain and Rand Paul. But Carl Levin also is a member as is Hawaii's Daniel Akaka, yet they are supporting the measure even though they should know better."

Bloomberg: "Cost-Benefit Analysis Puts the Brakes on Dodd-Frank: Business lobbyists and Republican lawmakers who failed to stop the Dodd-Frank Act from becoming law have managed to put the brakes on many of its provisions a second way: cost-benefit analysis." - useful to bad guys because while you might know the costs, you can't really nail-down the benefits. So you make them up if it's something you want to paint as worthwhile, or you simply don't mention them if it's something you want to get rid of.

Thom Hartmann, "How America Is Turning into a 3rd World Nation in 4 Easy Steps: New reports that Taiwanese transnational manufacturing corporation Foxconn may be opening up some plants in the United States indicate that our nation has now entered the terminal fourth stage of 'third-worldization' or what may be better referred to simply as 'recolonization.'"

When Obama said he wanted to be a transformative president like Reagan, you really should have believed him.

* * * * *

Call them $tudents for Educational Reform, but they're just another front for billionaires who want to destroy education.

Neil Barofsky on Why Naked Capitalism Matters: "I first became acquainted with Naked Capitalism while I was still at Treasury as the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program. Like many government agencies, we had a clip service that scoured the Internet for news reports related to the financial crisis, and rarely a week would go by where it would not feature a posting from Yves that would provoke a Whoa! moment. This is the moment - well familiar to NC readers - when you are assaulted with a well thought out and often meticulously sourced argument that turns the established orthodoxy on its head with irrefutable logic. My mind is often changed by the force of Yves' arguments, and even on those occasions when I still disagree with her conclusions, I am grateful for the deeper understanding that I will inevitably gain from her work."

Teenager arrested on suspicion of "malicious telecommunications" after posting picture of burning poppy on Facebook.

Sarah Jaffe has a blog again - A Different Class.

Mitch Benn, "I'm Proud Of The BBC"

Sale item: Mick Jagger's love letters. Sounds like a bargain!

I've been noticing this image appearing all over the place, even used as a personal icon or gravitar (including by one of my followers on Twitter), and I bet none of them realize that this is how and where it first made its way to the web. Kinda freaks me out.

Jimmy Dorsey's Orchestra


  1. Avedon says:

    [Indent]>>>I've been noticing this image appearing all over the place...<<<[/Indent]

    Here it is again, I think, [Link] a lithograph version in black, white, and brown.

  2. Loved the Thom Hartmann piece. By "love" I mean jesus christ I need a stiff drink here at 11:25am.

  3. Avedon (and all), on a lighter note: Check this site.

    It was apparently the source for a wonderful hoax about the nephilim walking the earth.

  4. Krugman really disappoints me. It's not that he's wrong about the deficit scolds. It's that even now, four years on and after the appointment of Simpson-Bowles, the striving for a "Grand Bargain" and even Obama's words of warning that he was a "fiscal responsibility" type ready to tackle entitlements (read "cut Social Security and Medicare) before he was inaugurated for the first time in January of 2009, Krugman doesn't seem able to realize that Obama is one of those scolds.

    Wish Krugman would wake up to who Obama is rather than his idea of who he thought Obama was and still wants him to be.

    1. From the Common Dreams staff:

      And as former Secretary of labor Robert Reich has said: "If the past four years have proved anything, it’s that the White House should not begin with a compromise."

      However, if the call to his supporters on Tuesday is any indication, and as Obama meets with a cadre of corporate CEOs Wednesday to discuss their budget ideas, it's becoming hauntingly clear that Obama is perhaps dangerously close to making many of the same mistakes again.

      Kind of makes you crazy, doesn't it? The only people making mistakes are deluded liberals. And the question is, will the undeluded make enough noise?

    2. It's okay, we can just vote him out of office in 2016 ... Oh, wait.

  5. Yves Smith linked to the wonderful Harry Shearer's "B-Rock's Grand Bargain Barn."

    Also worth a listen is his interview with Stephanie Kelton.

  6. I believe the word you are looking for is "totalitarian". Nothing bypartishit about it.

  7. Regarding the Patraeus matter, a Bob Somerby post [Link] zeroed in on the saddest anecdote to come out of this entire affair so far. Avedon, who lived in the DC area for many years and who is the only person I can remember ever, in the last twenty years, making the point that the president should not return the salute of active duty military personnel, will appreciate the whackiness of this one [Somerby's emphasis]:

    [Indent]>>>>>His military career had defined his life since his days as a West Point cadet and his marriage to his wife, Holly, the daughter of a general. In public, he seemed to miss the comfort and confidence that his uniform provided.

    He recently showed up to speak at a dinner in Washington wearing a row of military medals on the lapel of his suit jacket.
    The brass prompted a few double takes from a crowd in which only uniformed military men had donned their medals.<<<<<[/Indent]

    If you're stateside and you go to the WaPo article [Link] you'll find a Jon Stewart Daily Show clip that's related to all this.

    If you enjoy percussion-- er-- instruments, here's the sound of a pair of brass ones clanging. [Link]

    1. As to that last link, Glenn Greenwald [Link] links to a Politico piece that's just this side of a tizzy and which provides some background I didn't know about the slayer of Gen. Stanley McChrystal's career, Michael Hastings.

    2. If I remember correctly, it all went haywire from Greneda on.

  8. Speaking of Greenwald:

    "it is truly remarkable what ends people's careers in Washington - and what does not end them. As Hastings detailed in that interview, Petraeus has left a string of failures and even scandals behind him: a disastrous Iraqi training program, a worsening of the war in Afghanistan since he ran it, the attempt to convert the CIA into principally a para-military force, the series of misleading statements about the Benghazi attack and the revealed large CIA presence in Libya. To that one could add the constant killing of innocent people in the Muslim world without a whiff of due process, transparency or oversight.

    Yet none of those issues provokes the slightest concern from our intrepid press corps. His career and reputation could never be damaged, let alone ended, by any of that. Instead, it takes a sex scandal - a revelation that he had carried on a perfectly legal extramarital affair - to force him from power. That is the warped world of Washington. Of all the heinous things the CIA does, the only one that seems to attract the notice or concern of our media is a banal sex scandal. Listening to media coverage, one would think an extramarital affair is the worst thing the CIA ever did, maybe even the only bad thing it ever did"

    "This is access journalism and the embedding dynamic in its classic form, just a bit more vividly expressed. The very close and inter-dependent relationship between media figures and the political and military officials they cover often produces exactly these same sentiments even if they do not find the full-scale expression as they did in this case. In that regard, the relationship between the now-former CIA Director and his fawning hagiographer should be studied in journalism schools to see the results reliably produced by access journalism and the embedding process. Whatever Broadwell did for Petraeus is what US media figures are routinely doing for political and especially military officials with their 'journalism'."

    Which reminds me of this classic post from a couple of years ago:

  9. I've Fucking Had It (w/new original lead picture perfectly summing up the RWNJ response to Obama's re-election).

  10. Maybe not music to Adam Smith-loving ears but I'm excited.

    Kshama Sawant, the Occupy-inspired Socialist Alternative (CWI supporters in the USA) candidate for Washington State House, scored 27% against Democratic incumbent Speaker Frank Chopp. With half the votes yet to be counted, Sawant is predicted to win over 20,000 votes - the highest vote for an openly Socialist candidate in Washington in decades, and Frank Chopp’s strongest challenge during his entire 18 years in office. This follows the historic lawsuit by Sawant that compelled the Washington Secretary of State, the Attorney General, and King County to print her party preference, Socialist Alternative, on the ballot.

    She won 28% in the end.

  11. Hi Avedon. Not sure if you kept up on prop 35 in California, but it looks like there's a new civil liberties fight starting up. The last one didn't turn out so well did it?

    1. The irony is that we repealed the similarly emotion-driven Three Strikes law on the same ballot. Hopefully it won't take 18 years to nullify prop 35.