Daily Archive: 08/27/2012

Aug 27 2012

Definition of Insanity: Obama

 In an interview with AP reporter Ben Feller, President Obama gave his “vision” of how his second term would be different. If he really believes that this will happen, he has a big problem with the reality of what has gone on for the last three and a half years:

“Obama also offered a glimpse of how he would govern in a second term of divided government, insisting rosily that the forces of the election would help break Washington’s stalemate. He said he would be willing to make a range of compromises with Republicans, confident there are some who would rather make deals than remain part of “one of the least productive Congresses in American history.”  [..]

Obama’s view of a different second-term dynamic in Washington, even if both he and House Republicans retain power, seems a stretch given the stalemated politics of a divided government. He said two changes – the facts that “the American people will have voted,” and that Republicans will no longer need to be focused on beating him – could lead to better conditions for deal-making.

If Republicans are willing, Obama said, “I’m prepared to make a whole range of compromises” that could even rankle his own party. But he did not get specific.”

Pres. Obama doesn’t need to “get specific” because we all know it would mean implementing the “Grand Bargain” that would destroy the social safety nets and making the Bush tax cuts permanent. He has already told the New York Times that he’s frustrated that he and the Democrats have not gotten credit for their willingness to accept cuts in Medicare and Social Security.

Transcript of the entire interview is here. h/t David Dayen at FDL News Desk

The problem here is 99% of Americans are getting screwed by Obama’s insane fetish with bipartisanship that hasn’t worked. Obama has been the best thing to happen to the Republican Party since Ronald Reagan.

Aug 27 2012

Punting the Pundits

“Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

New York Times Editorial: Paul Ryan’s Social Extremism

Mitt Romney, who will be officially nominated this week as the Republican nominee for president, appears to trim his social convictions to the party’s prevailing winds. There is no doubt, however, about where the party’s vice-presidential candidate stands. A long history of social extremism makes Paul Ryan an emblem of the Republican tack to the far right.

Mr. Romney’s choice of Mr. Ryan carried some risks, considering Mr. Ryan’s advocacy of overhauling Medicare, but it has sent the strongest signal of solidarity to those who have made the party unrecognizable to moderates. Strident conservatives had been uneasy with Mr. Romney, but it is the rest of the country that should be nervous about conservatives’ now-enthusiastic acceptance of the Republican ticket.

Bill Moyers and Michael Winship: Invisible Americans Get the Silent Treatment

It’s just astonishing to us how long this campaign has gone on with no discussion of what’s happening to poor people. Official Washington continues to see poverty with tunnel vision – “out of sight, out of mind.”

And we’re not speaking just of Paul Ryan and his Draconian budget plan or Mitt Romney and their fellow Republicans.  Tipping their hats to America’s impoverished while themselves seeking handouts from billionaires and corporations is a bad habit that includes President Obama, who of all people should know better. [..]

We know, we know: It is written that, “The poor will always be with us.” But when it comes to our “out of sight, out of mind” population of the poor, you have to think we can help reduce their number, ease the suffering, and speak out, with whatever means at hand, on their behalf and against those who would prefer they remain invisible. Speak out:  that means you and me, and yes, Mr. President, you, too. You once told the big bankers on Wall Street that you were all that stood between them and the pitchforks of an angry public. How about telling the poor you will make sure our government stands between them and the cliff?

Paul Krugman: The Comeback Skid

There will be two big stars at the Republican National Convention, and neither of them will be Mitt Romney. One will, of course, be Paul Ryan, Mr. Romney’s running mate. The other will be Chris Christie, the governor of New Jersey, who will give the keynote address. And while the two men could hardly look or sound more different, they are brothers under the skin.

How so? Both have carefully cultivated public images as tough, fiscally responsible guys willing to make hard choices. And both public images are completely false.

I’ve written a lot lately deconstructing the Ryan myth, so let me turn today to Mr. Christie. [..]

Katrina vanden Heuvel: Why Subsidize CEOs?

By now, most Americans recognize-and resent-that top corporations compensate their executives in ways that are simply indecent. Eye-popping salaries. Outlandish bonuses. Lavish stock options. Golden-nay, platinum-parachutes. What fewer realize about this obscene compensation is that we’re all paying for it. Literally.

Last week the Institute for Policy Studies released a blockbuster report exposing how US taxpayers subsidize executive compensation, and revealing some of the worst offenders.

Those tax subsidies for executive excess add up to over $14 billion a year. That equals 12 percent of the planned savings from the deficit deal sequesters, 211,732 times the annual cost of hiring an elementary school teacher, or $46 for each American. In other words, says co-author Scott Klinger, “Every man, woman and child in America is buying a CEO lunch.”

Simon Johnson: One Man Against The Wall Street Lobby

Two diametrically opposed views of Wall Street and the dangers posed by global megabanks came more clearly into focus last week. On the one hand, William B. Harrison, Jr. — former chairman of JP Morgan Chase — argued in the New York Times that today’s massive banks are an essential part of a well-functioning market economy, and not at all helped by implicit government subsidies.

On the other hand, there is a new powerful voice who knows how big banks really work and who is willing to tell the truth in great and convincing detail. Jeff Connaughton — a former senior political adviser who has worked both for and against powerful Wall Street interests over the years — has just published a page-turning memoir that is also a damning critique of how Wall Street operates, the political capture of Washington, and our collective failure to reform finance in the past four years. The Payoff: Why Wall Street Always Wins, is the perfect antidote to disinformation put about by global megabanks and their friends. [..]

Mr. Harrison makes strong claims. All of his arguments are demonstrably false. If you think Mr. Harrison and the other defenders of megabanks have even the slightest veneer of plausibility, you must read Jeff Connaughton’s book.

Aug 27 2012

On This Day In History August 27

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

August 27 is the 239th day of the year (240th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 126 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1883, The most powerful volcanic eruption in recorded history occurs on Krakatau (also called Krakatoa), a small, uninhabited volcanic island located west of Sumatra in Indonesia, on this day in 1883. Heard 3,000 miles away, the explosions threw five cubic miles of earth 50 miles into the air, created 120-foot tsunamis and killed 36,000 people.

Krakatau exhibited its first stirrings in more than 200 years on May 20, 1883. A German warship passing by reported a seven-mile high cloud of ash and dust over Krakatau. For the next two months, similar explosions would be witnessed by commercial liners and natives on nearby Java and Sumatra. With little to no idea of the impending catastrophe, the local inhabitants greeted the volcanic activity with festive excitement.

On 27 August four enormous explosions took place at 05:30, 06:44, 10:02, and 10:41 local time. The explosions were so violent that they were heard 3,500 km (2,200 mi) away in Perth, Western Australia and the Indian Ocean island of Rodrigues near Mauritius, 4,800 km (3,000 mi) away, where they were thought to be cannonfire from a nearby ship. Each was accompanied by very large tsunamis, which are believed to have been over 30 meters (100 ft) high in places. A large area of the Sunda Strait and a number of places on the Sumatran coast were affected by pyroclastic flows from the volcano.

The pressure wave generated by the colossal final explosion radiated from Krakatoa at 1,086 km/h (675 mph). It was so powerful that it shattered the eardrums of sailors on ships in the Sunda Strait and caused a spike of more than two and half inches of mercury in pressure gauges attached to gasometers in the Jakarta gasworks, sending them off the scale. The pressure wave radiated across the globe and was recorded on barographs all over the world, which continued to register it up to 5 days after the explosion. Barograph recordings show that the shockwave from the final explosion reverberated around the globe 7 times in total. Ash was propelled to a height of 80 km (50 mi).

The eruptions diminished rapidly after that point, and by the morning of August 28 Krakatoa was silent. Small eruptions, mostly of mud, continued through October, though further reports continued through February 1884. These reports were discounted by (Rogier) Verbeek.

The combined effects of pyroclastic flows, volcanic ashes and tsunamis had disastrous results in the region. There were no survivors from 3,000 people located at the island of Sebesi, about 13 km (8.1 mi) from Krakatoa. Pyroclastic flows killed around 1,000 people at Ketimbang on the coast of Sumatra some 40 km (25 mi) north from Krakatoa. The official death toll recorded by the Dutch authorities was 36,417, although some sources put the estimate at 120,000 or more.

Ships as far away as South Africa  rocked as tsunamis hit them, and the bodies of victims were found floating in the ocean for weeks after the event. The tsunamis which accompanied the eruption are believed to have been caused by gigantic pyroclastic flows  entering the sea; each of the four great explosions was accompanied by a massive pyroclastic flow resulting from the gravitational collapse of the eruption column.

In the aftermath of the eruption, it was found that the island of Krakatoa had almost entirely disappeared, except for the southern half of Rakata cone cut off along a vertical cliff, leaving behind a 250-metre (820 ft) deep caldera.

In the year following the eruption, average global temperatures fell by as much as 1.2 C (2.2 F). Weather patterns continued to be chaotic for years, and temperatures did not return to normal until 1888.

The eruption darkened the sky worldwide for years afterwards, and produced spectacular sunsets throughout the world for many months. British artist William Ashcroft made thousands of colour sketches of the red sunsets half-way around the world from Krakatoa in the years after the eruption.

Aug 27 2012

Pique the Geek 20120826: Nitrogen, Extremely Versatile

Last time we talked about the unusual properties of elemental nitrogen mostly and how stable it is.  We only touched on a little of the fascinating and extremely complex chemistry of nitrogen, ONCE we can get it in a form other than the incredibly stable elemental form.

This time we shall remedy this, although entire graduate level texts have been written on the subject.  Tonight we shall take a brief survey of the impact that nitrogen has on living organisms, industry, and a few other areas.  We shall attempt to do this by looking at various oxidation states, and nitrogen has more than any other element.

The basic concept is that atoms can either donate or accept electrons from other atoms.  When an atom donates electrons, it is oxidized, and when it accepts electrons it is reduced.  Thus, chlorine bleach works because hypochlorite ion is a strong oxidizing agent and breaks up large, colored molecules to smaller, colorless ones.

Aug 27 2012

Sunday Train: Neil Armstrong and an America that can do Great Things

Burning the Midnight Oil for Living Energy Independence

crossposted from Voices on the Square

By now, you would likely have seen the headline  that Neil Armstrong dies: First man on the moon passes away at 82, or something akin to it.

Among those who follow the space program more closely, many are aware that there are few pictures of Neil Armstrong on the Moon. Neil Armstrong had two and a half hours of moonwalks, and Neil Armstrong operated the main camera. The camera that Buzz Aldrin operated was used for technical assignments.

 This fuzzy picture was take by enhancing a picture Neil took of Buzz Aldrin, and zooming in on the reflective visor, where Neil Armstrong appears in reflection as the photographer. And the small blue dot near the top?

That’s Earth.

The passing of Neil Armstrong brought my mind back to the topic of An America that Can Do Great Things, and so I thought I would reprint my piece from 11 March, 2011, for this week’s Sunday Train, on the connection between HSR and an America That Can Do Great Things.

Aug 27 2012

Marxist Economic Analysis of the War on Women by GeminiJen

Today is the anniversary of the 19th amendment which gave women the right to vote in the United States in 1920.  While revolutionary socialist feminists see the suffrage movement as a “reform” within the capitalist structure, even we can’t help feeling the surge of sisterhood as we hit the streets today to celebrate this essential “reform.”  The continued and growing gender gap in voting shows that women realize and continue to use this reform to our political advantage.  And the outpouring of women in the streets in the past two years brings a renewed visibility and welcome energy to the grassroots fight for the complete liberation of women.  And yet…

Why didn’t we fight back sooner? We have to question why this new swell in the women’s movement has occurred only after the attacks against established women’s rights have been so successful.  We have to question why we allowed these attacks on our rights and did not challenge the increasing invisibility of women since the height of the women’s movement in the mid 1970s.  

The underlying systemic cause of women’s exploitation:

I will argue that there are underlying objective biological conditions (of which we are all aware) that led to the oppression and exploitation of women: and, further,  that we have too frequently ignored these underlying systemic and objective causes because they appear to be too overwhelming to address.

First and foremost, women, are still the biological producers of the next generation of the workers who produce society’s wealth. Ever since men first discovered that their sperm had something to do with procreation, men in all societies  have been trying to dominate and  control the reproductive functions of women in an effort to control society’s wealth.

Second, in the current capitalist society in which we live, there is a need for the capitalist to keep the cost of reproducing the next generation of labor out of the market system because it makes it impossible to get the profits necessary to keep the capitalist owners in riches and the capitalist system going.

These systemic economic conditions of women as exploited, unpaid reproductive labor are never discussed in the current feminist and progressive responses to specific assaults on women’s rights such as the  debates over   “legitimate” rape or whether the rights of the zygote supercede the rights of full grown human women in the fight over abortion.

Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State. In The Origin of the  Family, Private Property and the State (1884), Engels analyzes the origin of the family as the institution in which males systemically dominate and control the reproduction of the next generation of workers. Women are the “property,” owned by men, through which this reproduction could occur.

Aug 27 2012

The Importance of a Marxist Economic Analysis of the War on Women by GeminiJen

Today is the anniversary of the 19th amendment which gave women the right to vote in the United States in 1920.  While revolutionary socialist feminists see the suffrage movement as a “reform” within the capitalist structure, even we can’t help feeling the surge of sisterhood as we hit the streets today to celebrate this essential “reform.”  The continued and growing gender gap in voting shows that women realize and continue to use this reform to our political advantage.  And the outpouring of women in the streets in the past two years brings a renewed visibility and welcome energy to the grassroots fight for the complete liberation of women.  And yet…

Why didn’t we fight back sooner? We have to question why this new swell in the women’s movement has occurred only after the attacks against established women’s rights have been so successful.  We have to question why we allowed these attacks on our rights and did not challenge the increasing invisibility of women since the height of the women’s movement in the mid 1970s.  

The underlying systemic cause of women’s exploitation:

I will argue that there are underlying objective biological conditions (of which we are all aware) that led to the oppression and exploitation of women: and, further,  that we have too frequently ignored these underlying systemic and objective causes because they appear to be too overwhelming to address.

First and foremost, women, are still the biological producers of the next generation of the workers who produce society’s wealth. Ever since men first discovered that their sperm had something to do with procreation, men in all societies  have been trying to dominate and  control the reproductive functions of women in an effort to control society’s wealth.

Second, in the current capitalist society in which we live, there is a need for the capitalist to keep the cost of reproducing the next generation of labor out of the market system because it makes it impossible to get the profits necessary to keep the capitalist owners in riches and the capitalist system going.

These systemic economic conditions of women as exploited, unpaid reproductive labor are never discussed in the current feminist and progressive responses to specific assaults on women’s rights such as the  debates over   “legitimate” rape or whether the rights of the zygote supercede the rights of full grown human women in the fight over abortion.

Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State. In The Origin of the  Family, Private Property and the State (1884), Engels analyzes the origin of the family as the institution in which males systemically dominate and control the reproduction of the next generation of workers. Women are the “property,” owned by men, through which this reproduction could occur.

Aug 27 2012

The Importance of a Marxist Economic Analysis of the War on Women by GeminiJen

Today is the anniversary of the 19th amendment which gave women the right to vote in the United States in 1920.  While revolutionary socialist feminists see the suffrage movement as a “reform” within the capitalist structure, even we can’t help feeling the surge of sisterhood as we hit the streets today to celebrate this essential “reform.”  The continued and growing gender gap in voting shows that women realize and continue to use this reform to our political advantage.  And the outpouring of women in the streets in the past two years brings a renewed visibility and welcome energy to the grassroots fight for the complete liberation of women.  And yet…

Why didn’t we fight back sooner? We have to question why this new swell in the women’s movement has occurred only after the attacks against established women’s rights have been so successful.  We have to question why we allowed these attacks on our rights and did not challenge the increasing invisibility of women since the height of the women’s movement in the mid 1970s.  

The underlying systemic cause of women’s exploitation:

I will argue that there are underlying objective biological conditions (of which we are all aware) that led to the oppression and exploitation of women: and, further,  that we have too frequently ignored these underlying systemic and objective causes because they appear to be too overwhelming to address.

First and foremost, women, are still the biological producers of the next generation of the workers who produce society’s wealth. Ever since men first discovered that their sperm had something to do with procreation, men in all societies  have been trying to dominate and  control the reproductive functions of women in an effort to control society’s wealth.

Second, in the current capitalist society in which we live, there is a need for the capitalist to keep the cost of reproducing the next generation of labor out of the market system because it makes it impossible to get the profits necessary to keep the capitalist owners in riches and the capitalist system going.

These systemic economic conditions of women as exploited, unpaid reproductive labor are never discussed in the current feminist and progressive responses to specific assaults on women’s rights such as the  debates over   “legitimate” rape or whether the rights of the zygote supercede the rights of full grown human women in the fight over abortion.

Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State. In The Origin of the  Family, Private Property and the State (1884), Engels analyzes the origin of the family as the institution in which males systemically dominate and control the reproduction of the next generation of workers. Women are the “property,” owned by men, through which this reproduction could occur.