Saturday, January 12, 2013

It's a scandal

We all know by now that Obama isn't on our side and that every "negotiation" involves him allegedly "compromising" to give the GOP what they want, but what's been particularly disturbing is how Congress - including the Progressive Caucus - supports him in the end. Norman Solomon: "A sad pattern of folding in the final round has continued. When historic votes come to the House floor, party functionaries are able to whip the Progressive Caucus into compliance. The endgame ends with the vast majority of the caucus members doing what Obama wants. That's what happened on the first day of this year, when the 'bipartisan' fiscal deal came down. Widely denounced by progressive analysts, the bill passed on the House floor by a margin of 44 votes - with the Progressive Caucus providing the margin. Out of 75 caucus members, only seven voted against it." I'm pretty sure the administration must be using some pretty heavy threats to keep them in line, and we all saw Dennis Kucinich, with visible reluctance, finally back down on his promise not to support the health insurance bill if it didn't contain at least a public option (and Markos Moulitsas announcing on television that Kucinich should be primaried if he didn't vote for it anyway). But, you know, there are 72 (seventy-two) members of the Progressive Caucus, and if they all stood together and made a public stink about this stuff, this might not be so easy. It's up to the rest of us to call their offices, write letters to them and to the press, and generally scream bloody murder about the fact that this is a big issue and it's not being covered. Personally, I'd like to see Rachel Maddow deluged with letters asking for illumination on the process of shutting down the PC's objections to Obama's agenda and forcing them to fold.

"The Best Thing About Jack Lew's Nomination: He's Not Erskine Bowles [...] The White House spin machine has put it out there that Lew is "a liberal" who was down with Eugene McCarthy and Paul Wellstone, which scares me since there's a good chance that if they're saying that, he's probably really a horrible conservative. What we do know about him is that when he was chief operating officer of Citi's Alternative Investment department, he invested in a hedge fund that was betting on the collapse of the housing market."

"Fair Work, Fair Pay: Lessons From Australia: [...]Of course, exchange rates go up and down over time. But at $21.25 Australian dollars an hour, it doesn't matter what exchange rate you use or how you adjust for cost of living. The simple fact is that an Australian entry-level fast food worker makes more than the average American worker. An absolute majority of Americans would increase their income if they moved to Australia and got fast food jobs."

Just in case you were wondering, people have looked at the stats, and come up with answers like this one: "Results. After adjustment, individuals in possession of a gun were 4.46 (P < .05) times more likely to be shot in an assault than those not in possession. Among gun assaults where the victim had at least some chance to resist, this adjusted odds ratio increased to 5.45 (P < .05)."

Gaius Publius on How Obama used Biden to undercut Reid on fiscal cliff deal - and different ways to frame it.

Now I'm being told about yet another hot liberal coalition to "remake" liberal politics. What interests me about this most is the number of liberal groups who were not invited to join - or even notified - of this confab. But I suspect there's a reason for that - and that this whole thing was just a way to suck more money up for the wrong people, without the right policies.

North Carolina residents are already suffering the results of a private water utility taking over and supplying low-quality water at jacked-up prices. Now the state wants to take control of municipal water supplies, and many people suspect it has something to do with providing water to a controversial development project that a water company backs. That's the same water company that so many citizens are already complaining about. And if they can just transfer control of local water to the regional authority, people want to know, what's to stop them from transferring it to Aqua NC? NC residents might want to know there's a petition to try to stop the transfer.

"To all those rich people who think they are the most productive people on earth"

"Satanists Rally For Rick Scott: The Satanic Temple embraces the free expression of religion, and Satanists are happy to show their support of Rick Scott who - particularly with [Senate Bill] 98 - has reaffirmed our American freedom to practice our faith openly, allowing our Satanic children the freedom to pray in school."

Cool aerial photo of Manhattan

Arch Enemies

Photographs by Carla Axtman


  1. Ok, maybe I wasn't paying attention but I didn't realize that an end to the payroll tax holiday was part of the cliff deal all along. So if you make up to 400,000 bucks, you get a tax cut. But if you're part of the 87% or so who make under 113,000, you get a 2% increase. That's 20 bucks a week for someone making 50k a year. Now I'm wondering how many people making 400k a year are pulling down wages subject to the payroll tax. I don't really know.

    And of course, if there is a surplus in Social Security, it will just get spent and replaced with those T bills the Republicans say are worthless IOU's. And which apparently they want to prove they are worthless with the upcoming budget crunch.

    I didn't like the holiday because I thought it added fuel to the bankruptcy theme on SS and Medicare. But still, it seems to me we traded another tax cut for the wealthy for a tax increase on most of the rest of us.

    1. If Obama wanted (which he doesn't), he could use the debt ceiling to the advantage of ordinary Americans and the disadvantage of the Republicans and other deficit scolds. It's not like there won't be *any* money to spend after the debt ceiling is hit. It just means they can only spend each day the amount that comes in as revenue. He could continue with social security payments and other payments to the neediest, and cut off the defense contractors, cut off the farmers (or limit the payments for farm subsidies so that the small ones get full amount, but Archer Daniels etc get the shaft). There are a thousand things he could do to show his priorities are the priorities of the working Americans, or even progressives and liberals.

      But that would be showing his hand, and those are not the cards he is playing. Obama is the bridge partner we are stuck with, and he's playing to make us lose. So of course he won't "mint the trillion dollar coin" or even call the R's bluff, which is all it is. The R's will never let the nation default on its debts, or at least they never would have if Obama hadn't shown them he wants them to do it that way back in 2011.

      In any case, Obama will move heaven and earth, and the entire Democrat caucus (including so called progressives) to make sure there is a Grand Bargain deal before we hit any cieling.

      As for the progressive caucus, I probably shouldn't single him out and point out the race thing, since I'm sure 90% of them are wet noodles just like him. But seeing how the black community has followed along and supported Obama along pretty unfailingly and with little criticism, I think it is pretty inconceivable that any black politician such as Rodney Ellis will have the guts to lead any sort of effective coalition to oppose anything Obama wants.

      We need the progressives to be calling Obama out NOW. Call him out on his bad faith and his bad intentions regarding Social Security and stirring up civil war inside the Democrat caucus so that Social Security cuts are OFF THE TABLE come showdown time. Instead they will mewl a few meek protests at the last minute and then get whipped in line for the vote on the Grand Bargain.

  2. Nice collection of photos of my backyard. You have to be bred 'n born Oregon, bred 'n born Cascadia, to have grown up with all of this all around you, to understand what Oregon, what Cascadia is. More than just a Great Notion, it is Where the Salmon Berry Grow: A Place Apart.*

    Had breakfast with Carla a number of years ago. Blogger business, as I recall, something to do with convincing Jeff Merkley to run for the Senate. Her exhaustive investegative reporting into boomtime speculative shenanigans at a fishin'hole my g'da taught me to fly fish at fifty years ago recently prevented the paving over of one of the world's most pristine publically accessable headwaters: The Metolius. Nice to see a homie get international exposure.

    *shameless whoring my upcoming book Where the Salmon Berry Grow - Cascadia: A Place Apart

  3. I think at this point we have to apply Occam' switchblade to the progressive caucus and conclude they are just more bad guys posing and posturing in the "good cop" role. I think they want SS & Medicare to be cut as well, they just wish enough R's would vote for it so that they could vote against it.

    1. No, they're just easily bullied by more powerful Democrats.

  4. Below is part of an email (Google translation from German with incoherent parts edited) from the makers of the anti-privatization documentary film "Water Makes Money." The gist of it seems to be that French company Veolia can't sue the German film directors in German court so they're going after the French distributor and a Veolia whistleblower in French court. The film shows privatized water utilities in German and French cities to be inefficient, costly and, in some cases, corrupt. The intent of the lawsuit is to keep that information from the public. This kind of harassment seems to be the current corporate strategy for discouraging documentary filmmakers. (Dole did the same thing to the Swedish director of the film "Bananas.") Here's the WMM trailer.

    On 14.02.2013 starting at 13h30 in Paris Palace of Justice, the lawsuit of the Veolia Group against the movie " Water Makes Money - How private corporations make money from water." Accused are the French distributors and the central protagonist of the film, the Veolia -. employee Jean Luc Touly. The company's legal course of action against those actually responsible for "Water Makes Money", the directors Leslie Franke and Herdolor Lorenz was aborted by German public authorities [who denied the French parent company the right to sue] and by Veolia's German subsidiary, which refused to file a lawsuit under German law.

    It goes on to say that Touly has successfully fought off previous lawsuits by Veolia and

    Under German law, Veolia could only sue the responsible filmmaker. It hasn't dared to so far. Now others will pay for the film. Jean-Luc Touly and the French distributor are threatened with high damage claims. And even with an acquittal, it is no problem for a billion dollar company like Veolia to pursue the process through the courts.

  5. Avedon - thanx for the GREAT link about Australian wages...