Daily Archive: 11/12/2012

Nov 12 2012

Running Dogs

Time for the Real Barack Obama to Stand Up

By: Leighton Woodhouse, Firedog Lake

Sunday November 11, 2012 2:19 pm

There are two schools of thought among progressives. For those who consistently support the President despite being well to the left of his record, there’s the widespread conviction that Obama is a closet progressive who has been consistently and tragically hemmed in by the Republicans, by public opinion, or by the reality of governing in Washington DC. According to this theory, the President hasn’t been able to achieve the policy aspirations of ideological progressives because powerful forces have stopped him short or pushed him in other directions. Remove or overcome those obstacles, and you’ll find a different Barack Obama than the one his official record suggests, an Obama who would not hesitate to enact real universal healthcare with a public option, real help for homeowners who are underwater, labor law reform, major global warming legislation, criminal investigations of the bankers most responsible for the financial collapse, an end to the Keystone pipeline project, etc.

Then there’s the alternative theory, which argues that for the last four years, Obama has governed as Obama has seen fit to govern. Certainly, he has faced major opposition to many parts of his agenda from Congressional Republicans, from powerful corporate lobbies, etc., as any Democratic president would. But he has been largely successful in achieving an overall policy framework that conforms to his political convictions, which are by and large centrist and technocratic. He hasn’t pursued criminal prosecutions of bankers because he doesn’t see bankers as criminals or their greed and overreach as the catalysts of the financial meltdown. He doesn’t see helping homeowners who are upside down on their mortgages as necessary to fix the economy, and he doesn’t see doing so as the government’s responsibility. He supports the Keystone XL Pipeline on its merits (with some modest environmental safeguards attached), he believes in healthcare reform only within the parameters of “market-based” approaches, and he doesn’t really care about labor law reform. He’s no right wing radical, but he’s no social justice activist, either. The record of his first four years, disappointing as it has been for progressives, was shaped largely by his own policy preferences, not by the intransigence of his political opponents.

One theory sees the record of the first term of the Obama presidency as the failed aspirations of an ideological ally. The other sees it as the successful implementation of a political philosophy that is simply not progressive in any way.

Leaked Woodward Memo Offers Road Map on Grand Bargain

By: David Dayen, Firedog Lake

Monday November 12, 2012 8:30 am

Bob Woodward leaked the deal memo from the proposed 2011 grand bargain, which didn’t happen for a number of reasons, none of them being Barack Obama’s reticence to cut a deal. In addition to cuts to things like TRICARE and Pell grants and veteran retirement, the “sequester,” the punishment for Congress not reaching a deficit resolution, would have directly cut Medicare and Medicaid by $425 billion (including $150 billion in raising Medicare premiums) and a permanent 20% reduction in tax rates on the top bracket (from 35% to 28%), with four total tax rates (10%, 15%, 25% and 28%). Increases in the Medicare eligibility age were in the plan, as well as the chained-CPI change to Social Security cost of living adjustments, a net benefit cut.

This was what the President signed off on, before the Gang of Six embarrassed him by calling for more revenue. He was perfectly willing to not only endorse this deal, but force the Democratic leadership to swallow it as well. And this is why Ryan Grim can be so sure that the next set of talks will include reductions in benefits to the elderly, the poor and the middle class. That’s what happened before, after all.



Any sane observer of economic reality understands that the biggest concern in the near term is that the deficit will end up to small, not too large. We don’t have a deficit problem but a health care cost problem, and it’s not entirely clear we even have that as much as we have a CBO which over-hypes the health care cost problem in their models (the fact that CBO wanted to talk with Naked Capitalism’s Yves Smith for daring to question their model is quite telling). We have countless examples of counter-productive austerity in a time of a slowly recovering economy.



Cutting the deficit has been discussed in terms of a moral imperative for the past two-plus years. But now we’ve arrived at a situation where the deficit would get cut a significant amount, and budget analysts make the obvious, inconvenient case that this would throw the economy back into recession. All the alternative explanations from the deficit scolds – a lack of confidence, the threat of higher interest rates – have nothing to do with the fiscal slope. It’s just that it would pull back on federal spending and raise taxes to such a degree that the economy would suffer.

I think the way elites plan to handle this is to not handle this, and merely say a bunch of contradictory things all at once, in the hopes nobody but maybe Krugman will notice. And he can be easily ignored, especially if the rest of the media plays along, hyping the “fiscal cliff” as a dread scenario for which a deficit reduction deal is the only prescription, even though the “fiscal cliff” is, in fact, a deficit reduction deal.

The Presidential Election Exposed, Again, the Death of the Liberal Class

By Chris Hedges, Truthdig

Monday, 12 November 2012 11:00

The presidential election exposed the liberal class as a corpse. It fights for nothing. It stands for nothing. It is a useless appendage to the corporate state. It exists not to make possible incremental or piecemeal reform, as it originally did in a functional capitalist democracy; instead it has devolved into an instrument of personal vanity, burnishing the hollow morality of its adherents. Liberals, by voting for Barack Obama, betrayed the core values they use to define themselves-the rule of law, the safeguarding of civil liberties, the protection of unions, the preservation of social welfare programs, environmental accords, financial regulation, a defiance of unjust war and torture, and the abolition of drone wars. The liberal class clung desperately during the long nightmare of this political campaign to one or two issues, such as protecting a woman’s right to choose and gender equality, to justify its complicity in a monstrous evil. This moral fragmentation-using an isolated act of justice to define one’s self while ignoring the vast corporate assault on the nation and the ecosystem along with the pre-emptive violence of the imperial state-is moral and political capitulation. It fails to confront the evil we have become.



Liberals have assured us that after the election they will build a movement to hold the president accountable-although how or when or what this movement will look like they cannot say. They didn’t hold him accountable during his first term. They won’t during his second. They have played their appointed roles in the bankrupt political theater that passes for electoral politics. They have wrung their hands, sung like a Greek chorus about the evils of the perfidious opponent, assured us that there is no other viable option, and now they will exit the stage. They will carp and whine in the wings until they are trotted out again to assume their role in the next political propaganda campaign of disempowerment and fear. They will, in the meantime, become the butt of ridicule and derision by the very politicians they supported.

The ineffectiveness of the liberal class, as I saw in the former Yugoslavia and as was true in Weimar Germany, perpetuates a dangerous political paralysis. The longer the paralysis continues, the longer systems of power are unable to address the suffering and grievances of the masses, the more the formal mechanisms of power are reviled. The liberal establishment’s inability to defy corporate power, to stand up for its supposed liberal beliefs, means its inevitable disappearance, along with the disappearance of traditional liberal values. This, as history has amply pointed out, is the road to despotism. And we are further down that road than many care to admit.



“They attacked liberalism,” Stern writes of the fascists emerging at the time in Germany, “because it seemed to them the principal premise of modern society; everything they dreaded seemed to spring from it; the bourgeois life, Manchesterism, materialism, parliament and the parties, the lack of political leadership. Even more, they sense in liberalism the source of all their inner sufferings. Theirs was a resentment of loneliness; their one desire was for a new faith, a new community of believers, a world with fixed standards and no doubts, a new national religion that would bind all Germans together. All this, liberalism denied. Hence, they hated liberalism, blamed it for making outcasts of them, for uprooting them from their imaginary past, and from their faith.”



The corporate state, faced with rebellion from within and without, does not know how to define or control this rising power, from the Arab Spring to the street protests in Greece and Spain to the Occupy movement. Rebellion always mystifies the oppressor. It appears irrational. It does not make sense. The establishment asks: What are their demands? Why do they hate us? What do they want? The oppressor can never hear the answer, for the answer is always the same-we seek to destroy your power. The oppressor, blind to the brutality and injustice meted out to sustain dominance and prosperity, escalates the levels of force employed to protect privilege. The crimes of the oppressor are seen among the elite as the administering of justice-law and order, the war on terror, the natural law of globalization, the right granted by privilege and power to shape and govern the world. The oppressor cannot see the West’s false humanism. The oppressor cannot, as James Baldwin wrote, understand that our “history has no moral justification, and the West has no moral authority.” The oppressor, able to speak only in the language of force and increasingly lashing out like a wounded animal, will be consumed in the inferno.

Hawks and Hypocrites

By PAUL KRUGMAN, The New York Times

Published: November 11, 2012

Back in 2010, self-styled deficit hawks – better described as deficit scolds – took over much of our political discourse. At a time of mass unemployment and record-low borrowing costs, a time when economic theory said we needed more, not less, deficit spending, the scolds convinced most of our political class that deficits rather than jobs should be our top economic priority. And now that the election is over, they’re trying to pick up where they left off.

They should be told to go away.

It’s not just the fact that the deficit scolds have been wrong about everything so far. Recent events have also demonstrated clearly what was already apparent to careful observers: the deficit-scold movement was never really about the deficit. Instead, it was about using deficit fears to shred the social safety net. And letting that happen wouldn’t just be bad policy; it would be a betrayal of the Americans who just re-elected a health-reformer president and voted in some of the most progressive senators ever.

About the hypocrisy of the hawks: as I said, it has been evident for years. Consider the early-2011 award for “fiscal responsibility” that three of the leading deficit-scold organizations gave to none other than Paul Ryan. Then as now, Mr. Ryan’s alleged plans to reduce the deficit were obvious flimflam, since he was proposing huge tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations while refusing to specify how these cuts would be offset. But in the eyes of the deficit scolds, his plan to dismantle Medicare and his savage cuts to Medicaid apparently qualified him as a fiscal icon.



So what we get instead, for example in a white paper on the fiscal cliff from the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, is a garbled set of complaints: The adjustment is too fast (why?), or it’s the wrong kind of deficit reduction, for reasons not made clear. Or maybe they are made clear, after all. For even as it rails against deficits, the white paper argues against raising tax rates and even suggests cutting them.

So the deficit scolds, while posing as the nation’s noble fiscal defenders, have in practice shown themselves both hypocritical and incoherent. They don’t deserve to have a central role in policy discussion; they really don’t even deserve a seat at the table. And they certainly don’t deserve to have one of their own appointed as Treasury secretary.

I don’t know how seriously to take the buzz about appointing Erskine Bowles to replace Timothy Geithner. But in case there’s any reality to it, let’s recall his record. Mr. Bowles, like others in the deficit-scold community, has indulged in scare tactics, warning of an imminent fiscal crisis that keeps not coming. Meanwhile, the report he co-wrote was supposed to be focused on deficit reduction – yet, true to form, it called for lower rather than higher tax rates, and as a “guiding principle” no less. Appointing him, or anyone like him, would be both a bad idea and a slap in the face to the people who returned President Obama to office.

Some Personal Thoughts

by Ian Welsh

2012 November 11

Our response to the financial crisis, a totally optional crisis which was based almost entirely on fraud, was to make the poor and the middle class pay through austerity, while bailing out the rich with trillions and trillions of dollars.  We gutted property rights completely so that banks could easily foreclose on homeowners and four years in, the economy, for ordinary people, has never recovered.  We are now in a depression, and if it’s not yet a Great Depression, it’s bad enough.  Now when I say pay, I mean suffer.  People died, wives and children were beaten, people became homeless, lost their jobs, their health and their self respect because of a completely optional crisis and the criminals who caused the crisis were not just let off, they were rewarded with a huge bailout.

This was done in a bipartisan manner, but it could not have happened in the form it did without Obama.  To give just one example, TARP was going to not pass the House.  Nancy Pelosi was going to let it fail if the Republicans wouldn’t vote for it in equal proportion to Democrats.  This is a fact, I was following it closely at the time as it was my job to do so.  Calls were running between a 100:1 to 1200:1 against TARP.  Obama got down and dirty and twisted arms, and I do mean twisted.  Serious threats were made.  TARP would not have passed without Obama.  This policy of bailing out criminals who caused death and suffering continued throughout Obama’s reign.



We could go on and on, the point is simple enough.  Evil has been done, and it is unnecessary evil. There were other options, I’ve written of them many times, and I’m not going to bother going over it again.  Obama and Dems in Congress could have instituted different policies if that’s what they wanted to do.  They didn’t.  Bush and his Congress could have if they wanted to, they didn’t.



The people who sadden me are left-wingers who carried Obama’s water, who I know know better.  I know they know his record.  I know they know where this is all leading.  I know because I was a professional blogger for years.  I’ve met these people in person, I have corresponded with them, and I have talked to many of them.  I have worked with many of them.

They know what Obama is, and they lied about him.



What I have seen, from many lefties, bloggers and non-bloggers, is that they have become compromised.  One needs the Supreme Court to stay as it is for his career, another works for a union think tank, and the policy is to carry Obama’s water, so he carries their water.  Another got the words on gay rights he wanted, so he carries Obama’s water as he did in 2008, acting as Obama’s outlet for rumors they couldn’t plant in the media directly.  A few are honest sellouts, admitting why they are carrying the water, others aren’t.  Some make the lesser evil argument honestly, most don’t.

And what I realized one sad day is that most of them are limited.  I am a left winger, and what academic training I have is in sociology.  I believe that people are, largely, a product of their environment.  If we want better people, we need a better environment.  To blame the poor as a group for their own travails is stupid, if they had richer parents, they would have different outcomes and be different people  The same is true of the rich, the middle class, and so on.  They are products of their environment, and most people are little more than that. Nothing is more pathetic than people acclaiming their identity through the TV shows they consume, the branded clothes they wear and so on.  They are simply choosing from a menu created by others.  They are limited people, products of their environment, claiming they are something more.

I thought many of my ex-colleagues were more.  I really did.  I believed that they had some ability to stand outside society, even a little bit, and see it for what it was, and that in that detachment they could find honesty and an ability to see the world beyond the lens of their own place and their own needs.  Upton Sinclair’s comment, “it is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!” is the perfect description of a limited person, intellectually and morally.  If we cannot see beyond our own self-interest, or beyond our own need to feel good about ourselves, then we will never seen the world with anything even approaching clarity.  If we cannot separate our interests from the interests of other people and from the interests of society, we are not fit to play any role in running society or commenting on it.



If society is to function again for the benefit of all a lot of things need to be done.  One of them is to fix the world of influentials, of whom bloggers are very minor members.  To be an influential should be to be an intellectual, and to be an intellectual is to be able to stand outside ones own society, to see it through the dual eyes of an outsider and a member, then report the truth of what one sees.



People respond to incentives like Pavlov’s dogs.  If you want to be more than a dog, you have to train yourself to overcome your conditioning.  It’s hard, and you won’t be able to do it all the time (and if you did, you’d be thrown in an insane asylum or be so non functional in society you’d be ostracized), but it is what is required to be an honest, useful influential.  But knowing and believing something is only one part of it, you must then tell it.

A lot more people are going to suffer and die due to policies which are evil.  Part of what makes that happen are the people who know better and lie, part of that is due to the people who convince themselves that evil is necessary because it is in their interests.  They are not the most responsible, no.  But they are responsible.

And I really did think better of so many of them.

Become more than your background, more than a function of the incentives placed in front of you.  See the evil you yourself do, your society does, and stop needing to feel good about yourself.

Stop being someone else’s dog.

Obama Plans to Hit Road With Oh-So-Popular Message of Cutting Social Security and Medicare

By: David Dayen, Firedog Lake

Monday November 12, 2012 10:00 am

President Obama plans to meet with business, labor and civic leaders early this week about the fiscal slope, according to Reuters. Congressional leaders will huddle with Obama at the end of the week. Labor has immediately and vocally rejected the concept of a grand bargain, at least for now, so judging their behavior after this meeting will be critical. The presence of corporate executives who have pull on Republicans probably matters more than the presence of labor, to whom I assume there will be an attempt to dictate terms.

After this inside game and as the negotiations continue, the President plans to hit the road in support of a deal, which sounds to me like a terrible idea for him.



Maybe the White House thinks they can seduce their base once more, and I wouldn’t necessarily disagree with them. The Obama coalition has always been more tribal than ideological, willing to take their cues from their standard bearer. But maybe it’s worth pointing out that the public soundly rejected the kind of bargain that Obama appears to have in mind. Exit polling shows large majorities opposed to cuts in social insurance. Almost every candidate personally endorsed by Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson lost their election. Who exactly will stand behind this effort once it leaves the friendly confines of the Beltway? The grand bargain only works behind closed doors.

One thing the President has going for him is a pliant media. The Washington Post is practically giddy at the prospect of cutting the retirement benefits of old people. The National Journal … described a "left divided" on the subject of a grand bargain, a description only achievable by putting Third Way on the left.

Nov 12 2012

The “Grand Betrayal” Is Still on the Table

As soon as Barack Obama was reelected the austerians were already clamoring for him to enter into the so-called “Grand Bargain” as the only option to keeping the fragile US economy from going over the mythical “fiscal cliff.” Exit polls showed that voters were most concerned about the economy and jobs. They also indicated that raising taxes on the wealthiest was popular, as was preserving Social Security and Medicare as they currently exist. The debt/deficit was at the bottom of the list of voter interests. There has been much talk from Pres. Obama and the Democratic leadership that they now have a mandate to raise taxes on the 1% and they are willing to “bargain” with the Republicans. The problem is the “bargain” they want to cut would increase the burden on the elderly and those most in need of these programs now and in the future by raising the age requirements and tying cost of living increases to a metric that would decrease the ability of social security recipients to stay above the poverty line.

In an interview with economist Bill Black by Paul Jay at RT News, Prof. Black discusses how the “grand betrayal” and the role of the president and “Third Way” Democrats in the destruction of the social safety net:

At FDL News Desk, David Dayen has two important pieces on the “fiscal cliff” and the “grand bargain” and how our politicians are using them as an excuse to cut the social safety net.

The Grand Confusion: The “Fiscal Cliff” is an Austerity Program

Cutting the deficit has been discussed in terms of a moral imperative for the past two-plus years. But now we’ve arrived at a situation where the deficit would get cut a significant amount, and budget analysts make the obvious, inconvenient case that this would throw the economy back into recession. All the alternative explanations from the deficit scolds – a lack of confidence, the threat of higher interest rates – have nothing to do with the fiscal slope. It’s just that it would pull back on federal spending and raise taxes to such a degree that the economy would suffer. [..]

In the hands of someone who didn’t want a bargain on the deficit, this would be the ultimate teachable moment. “All those people telling us for years we have to cut the deficit, suddenly don’t want to cut the deficit,” that leader would say. “They’re warning people of the dangers of cutting the deficit, and saying we have to put a deficit plan together to avoid cutting the deficit!” But Obama wants this deal for his legacy. So he’s not going to disabuse anyone of the confusion over the fiscal slope.

Leaked Woodward Memo Offers Road Map on Grand Bargain

Bob Woodward leaked the deal memo from the proposed 2011 grand bargain, which didn’t happen for a number of reasons, none of them being Barack Obama’s reticence to cut a deal. [..]

This was what the President signed off on, before the Gang of Six embarrassed him by calling for more revenue. He was perfectly willing to not only endorse this deal, but force the Democratic leadership to swallow it as well. And this is why Ryan Grim can be so sure that the next set of talks will include reductions in benefits to the elderly, the poor and the middle class. That’s what happened before, after all. [..]

Any sane observer of economic reality understands that the biggest concern in the near term is that the deficit will end up to small, not too large. We don’t have a deficit problem but a health care cost problem, and it’s not entirely clear we even have that as much as we have a CBO which over-hypes the health care cost problem in their models (the fact that CBO wanted to talk with Naked Capitalism’s Yves Smith for daring to question their model is quite telling). We have countless examples of counter-productive austerity in a time of a slowly recovering economy. [..]

At any rate, we cannot depend on the intransigence of the right this time around. Bill Kristol floated acceptance of higher taxes on the wealthy, following David Koch from a couple months ago. And John Boehner reportedly brought the hammer down with his caucus [..]

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has repeatedly stated that “we are not going to mess with Social Security.” The problem Sen. Reid has with keeping Social Security out of any bargain is President Barack Obama who is all to willing to bargain it away for a deal with the Republicans. The argument over the debt/deficit has never been whether taxes will be raised in any bargain, the goal of the right has been to destroy Social Security and cripple Medicare and Medicaid.

President Obama is still pursuing a “grander bargain” that would betray the trust of the people who returned him to office with the hope that he would change.  

Nov 12 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

Paul Krugman: Hawks and Hypocrites

Back in 2010, self-styled deficit hawks – better described as deficit scolds – took over much of our political discourse. At a time of mass unemployment and record-low borrowing costs, a time when economic theory said we needed more, not less, deficit spending, the scolds convinced most of our political class that deficits rather than jobs should be our top economic priority. And now that the election is over, they’re trying to pick up where they left off.

They should be told to go away.

It’s not just the fact that the deficit scolds have been wrong about everything so far. Recent events have also demonstrated clearly what was already apparent to careful observers: the deficit-scold movement was never really about the deficit. Instead, it was about using deficit fears to shred the social safety net. And letting that happen wouldn’t just be bad policy; it would be a betrayal of the Americans who just re-elected a health-reformer president and voted in some of the most progressive senators ever.

Maureen Dowd: Romney Is President

IT makes sense that Mitt Romney and his advisers are still gobsmacked by the fact that they’re not commandeering the West Wing.

(Though, as “The Daily Show” correspondent John Oliver jested, the White House might have been one of the smaller houses Romney ever lived in.)

Team Romney has every reason to be shellshocked. Its candidate, after all, resoundingly won the election of the country he was wooing.

Mitt Romney is the president of white male America.

Glenn Greenwald: Petraeus Scandal is Reported with Compelled Veneration of All Things Military

The reverence for the former CIA Director is part of a wider religious-like worship of the national security state.

A prime rule of US political culture is that nothing rivets, animates or delights the political media like a sex scandal. From Bill Clinton, Gary Hart, and Eliot Spitzer to John Edwards, Larry Craig and David Vitter, their titillation and joy is palpable as they revel in every last arousing detail. This giddy package is delivered draped in a sanctimonious wrapping: their excitement at reporting on these scandals is matched only by their self-righteous condemnations of the moral failings of the responsible person.

All of these behaviors have long been constant, inevitable features of every political sex scandal – until yesterday. Now, none of these sentiments is permitted because the newest salacious scandal features at its center Gen. David Petraeus, who resigned yesterday as CIA Director, citing an extramarital affair.

Dana Milbank: Republican leader Boehner may be ready to bargain

After Mitt Romney’s defeat on Tuesday, John Boehner is the undisputed leader of the Republican Party.

Pity him. [..]

Boehner’s first instinct on Tuesday night was to side with his House firebrands. “While others chose inaction,” he said at a Republican National Committee event, “we offered solutions.” Americans, he said, “responded by renewing our House Republican majority. With this vote, the American people have also made clear that there’s no mandate for raising tax rates.”

After sleeping on it, Boehner appeared at the Capitol on Wednesday and offered a dramatically different message: He proposed, albeit in a noncommittal way, putting tax increases on the table. [..]

Boehner chose to make his post-election speech in the Capitol’s Rayburn room, named for Sam Rayburn, the late House speaker who is credited with saying: “Any jackass can kick down a barn. It takes a carpenter to build one.”

Boehner sounds as though he’s ready to pick up hammer and nail. But will his fellow Republicans stop kicking?

Robert Kuttner: Let’s Not Make a Deal

President Obama gave a pretty good speech on Friday about the economy and the budget. In his most quoted line, the president said, “I am not going to ask students and seniors and middle-class families to pay down the entire deficit while people like me, making over $250,000, aren’t asked to pay a dime more in taxes.” [..]

Obama, evidently, is willing to play hardball to compel the Republicans to allow tax rates on the top two percent to revert to something like the Clinton era top rate of 39.5 percent but spare the bottom 98 percent any tax increases. As Obama put it, “On Tuesday night, we found out that the majority of Americans agree with my approach.”

But that was about the only good thing in Obama’s speech, or his posture towards the Republicans and the budget. Obama still believes that the economy needs budget cuts of $4 trillion over the next decade.

It doesn’t. If anything, it needs spending increases.

Thom Hartmann and Sam Sacks: Harry Reid: Fix the Filibuster Now!

President Obama won and the Democrats increased their majority in the Senate – and moved it in a far more progressive direction. For now, the Supreme Court is safe from radical right-wing ideology.

But to guarantee its safety for future generations, Harry Reid must take decisive and historic action on day one of the new Senate term. He must end or radically reform the filibuster.

The filibuster is mentioned nowhere in the Constitution – it’s something, in its modern form, the Founders knew nothing about. It requires 60 votes in a 100-vote Senate to end debate and move on to a vote – and Republicans have used it over 370 times during Harry Reid’s tenure. For comparison, Lyndon Johnson was Senate majority leader for the same period of time as Reid, in an incredibly turbulent time, and only had to deal with one, single Republican filibuster.

Nov 12 2012

On This Day In History November 12

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.

November 12 is the 316th day of the year (317th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 49 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1775, Upon hearing of England’s rejection of the so-called Olive Branch Petition on this day in 1775, Abigail Adams writes to her husband, John:

The intelegance you will receive before this reaches you, will I should think make a plain path, tho a dangerous one for you. I could not join to day in the petitions of our worthy parson, for a reconciliation between our, no longer parent State, but tyrant State, and these Colonies. — Let us seperate, they are unworthy to be our Breathren. Let us renounce them and instead of suplications as formorly for their prosperity and happiness, Let us beseach the almighty to blast their counsels and bring to Nought all their devices.

The previous July, Congress had adopted the Olive Branch Petition, written by John Dickinson, which appealed directly to King George III and expressed hope for reconciliation between the colonies and Great Britain. Dickinson, who hoped desperately to avoid a final break with Britain, phrased colonial opposition to British policy as follows:

“Your Majesty’s Ministers, persevering in their measures, and proceeding to open hostilities for enforcing them, have compelled us to arm in our own defence, and have engaged us in a controversy so peculiarly abhorrent to the affections of your still faithful Colonists, that when we consider whom we must oppose in this contest, and if it continues, what may be the consequences, our own particular misfortunes are accounted by us only as parts of our distress.”

Abigail Adams’ response was a particularly articulate expression of many colonists’ thoughts: Patriots had hoped that Parliament had curtailed colonial rights without the king’s full knowledge, and that the petition would cause him to come to his subjects’ defense. When George III refused to read the petition, Patriots like Adams realized that Parliament was acting with royal knowledge and support. Americans’ patriotic rage was intensified with the January 1776 publication by English-born radical Thomas Paine of Common Sense, an influential pamphlet that attacked the monarchy, which Paine claimed had allowed “crowned ruffians” to “impoverish the nation and set it together by the ears.”

Nov 12 2012

Pique the Geek 20121111: Drying Oils

I was painting a wooden basket yesterday with boilt linseed oil and thus came the inspiration for tonight’s topic.  Drying oils are very important in the coatings industry, not as much as in the past but still important.

Back in the day before high quality water based paints had been developed, oil based paints were just about the only good choice except for some specialized applications.  Before we go into detail, we should define some key terms regarding to paint.

The vehicle is the part of the paint that forms a tough, adherent film.  In oil based paints the vehicle is generally linseed oil.  In latex paints the vehicle is some type of synthetic resin.

The second component (not always in paint, but usually) is the solvent, also called the diluent.  In oil paint the solvent is now usually petroleum distillates, but before oil was discovered the solvent was almost always turpentine.  In latex paints the solvent is water.

The pigment is composed of inorganic powders, usually white or colorless.  The pigment can add to the toughness of the film.  For commercial house paints the pigment does not provide color (except for white) and usually organic dyes are added to the pigment for colors, although some other materials are also used.  For art paints, many times the pigment is also the color in many cases.  Pigments are similar for oil and water based paints.

There are also additives in small quantities in most paints to modify drying rate, viscosity, surface tension, and other properties.  Water based paint often contains ethylene glycol as an antifreeze.

Nov 12 2012

One Economy under God by T’Pau

Has it occurred to you how strange it is that your job can slip across international boundaries, but you are prohibited from crossing the same border to follow that job? It should.

Multinational Corporations have been busy for the last twenty years creating a new type of serf. In feudal Europe and Asia, serfs were tied to the land by a master, called the lord, and obligated to work for him. Now, the 1% are creating serfs out of whole nations of people. Sure, those lands are huge-nations-but they are still boundaries that bind you, and prevent you for selling your work freely, while multinational corporations are borderless entities.

Seeking to continue the tail spin to the bottom of wages, big business has been busy writing international treaties, allowing jobs to shift to ever lower paying environments with the least protections for workers. Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, United States, and Vietnam are already involved in the latest negotiations, the Trans-Pacific Partnership. If signed the treaty will be a “docking agreement” open to any country to sign later. Canada and Mexico are expected to join this month. Japan and China are being courted to join. It is the largest trade agreement the world has ever seen.

The treaty creates an über-government superseding and overriding existing law in sovereign nations–seeking to stamp out democracy. In old feudalism, it was the Catholic church that held dominion over the nations of man. Now “the market” has taken the place of God. Profits are all that matters. Anything the market endorses is right because the market is infallible, unchallengeable. Keep democracy out of it.

The powerful and wealthy have finally found a way to regain the power they once held in feudal times. They have done it in ways intentionally hidden from the majority. Most of us don’t even realize we are in a battle for the type of global governance we will have in the future. For the last 50 years corporate leadership have simply bought our democracies and media outlets, making it easy for corporations to gain the upper hand, and convince voters to support governance that is secretive and totalitarian, without letting voters know they are doing so. Now the 1% want to solidify that power into an actual international treaty. They are seeking one economy under the rule of American corporations. They are, in fact, seeking world dominion.