01/02/2011 archive

Rant of the Week

Chasing Pubic Priority Number One

Cenk Uygur delivers his opinion on what he thinks the top priority should be for Washington in the coming year. Will President Obama choose to focus more on job creation or deficit cutting to better serve the American public?

Constitutional Game of Chicken: Fixing Filibuster

With the obstruction of a very united minority, there has been a great deal of debate about the filibuster and the reform of Senate Rule 22. In a New York Times op-ed, Former Vice President Walter F. Mondale, recalls how in 1975 when he was a Senator, the Senate voted to reduce the number of votes required to end filibuster from 67 votes, a super majority, to the current 60 votes. Clearly, he states this was not enough. Filibuster threats and cloture votes blocked legislation nearly 100 times in the 111th Congress.

Mr. Mondale argues that essentially, these rules abrogate the Constitution which only requires a 67 vote majority for the approval of treaties, “in all other instances it must be assumed that the Constitution requires only a majority vote”. In other words, many of the Senate rules are unconstitutional and could be done away with on a simple majority procedural vote under Parliamentary rules. That was the “nuclear option” that was used as a threat by the Republicans to force the Democrats to capitulate when they were n the minority.

The Constitution is clear that under Article I, Section 5 of the Constitution: “Each House may determine the rules of its proceedings.” However, it is very explicit about the few instances where a super majority vote is needed, it must be assumed that the Constitution requires only a majority vote in all other cases.

Congressional expert and Washington University in St. Louis political science professor Steven S. Smith, has testified before U.S. Senate Committee on Rules and Administration that there is an unhealthy exploiting of the Senate rules to block important legislation and limit debate. Prof. Smith also stated that

“wishing for better behavior” on the part of senators and their leaders won’t reverse the consequences of “two decades of intensifying parliamentary warfare” that has contributed to the demise of the appropriations process, more packaging in omnibus bills, and a shift of policy decision-making from committees to party leadership offices, among other changes

He proposed that these changes be made:

   (M)ore clearly protect each senator’s opportunity to debate and offer amendments;

   (L)imit debate on motions to proceed and combine and limit debate on the three motions to go to conference;

   (L)imit debate on appropriations bills and executive calendar business; and

   (W)here debate is not otherwise limited, allow a simple majority to eventually close debate.

On of the rules being considered is forcing the filibustering Senator to actually stay on the floor speaking for the duration of the filibuster, a la, Sen. Bernie Sanders’ recent 8 and a half hour tour de force on the Senate floor. There is also a need to end the policy of “secret holds” which prevents a bill or nomination from being considered even though it has cleared committee. The Democrats need to stand firm on rules reform, otherwise, we are in for an even more obstructive Senate in the 112th Congress.

On This Day in History January 2

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.

January 2 is the second day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. There are 363 days remaining until the end of the year (364 in leap years).


On this day in 1962, the folk group The Weavers are banned by NBC after refusing to sign a loyalty oath.

The Weavers, one of the most significant popular-music groups of the postwar era, saw their career nearly destroyed during the Red Scare of the early 1950s. Even with anti-communist fervor in decline by the early 1960s, the Weavers’ leftist politics were used against them as late as January 2, 1962, when the group’s appearance on The Jack Paar Show was cancelled over their refusal to sign an oath of political loyalty.

The importance of the Weavers to the folk revival of the late 1950s cannot be overstated. Without the group that Pete Seeger founded with Lee Hays in Greenwich Village in 1948, there would likely be no Bob Dylan, not to mention no Kingston Trio or Peter, Paul and Mary. The Weavers helped spark a tremendous resurgence in interest in American folk traditions and folk songs when they burst onto the popular scene with “Goodnight Irene,” a #1 record for 13 weeks in the summer and fall of 1950. The Weavers sold millions of copies of innocent, beautiful and utterly apolitical records like “Midnight Special” and “On Top of Old Smoky” that year.


The Skin Horse speaks

“What is a LEADER?” asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. “Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?”

“A LEADER isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. It’s realizing that every experience develops some latent force within you.1 You begin to understand that vision is the art of seeing the invisible2 so that when you want to build a wagon, you don’t gather the other toys to collect wood or assign them tasks, but rather you teach them to long for ways to traverse the endless immensity of the backyard.3 Then you become a LEADER.”

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Punting the Pundits: Sunday Preview Edition

Punting the Punditsis 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”.

The Sunday Talking Heads:

This Week with Christiane Amanpour: ABC News White House News correspondent, Jake Tapper, will be hosting This Week. He will have an exclusive interview with the president’s top economic adviser, Austan Goolsbee and actor, humanitarian, George Clooney with a message for the government of Sudan: “The world is watching.”

The Round Table guests, George Will, Democratic political strategist Donna Brazile, ABC News Political Director Amy Walter and National Journal Congressional Correspondent Major Garret discuss the incoming Republican Congress and its investigative agenda.

Face the Nation with Bob Schieffer: This Week on Face the Nation, Representatives Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.), and Rep.-elect Mike Kelly (R-Penn.) discuss what’s ahead for the new Congress.

The Chris Matthews Show: The Chris Matthews Show: This Week’s Guests Kelly O’Donnell, NBC News Capitol Hill Correspondent, John Heilemann, New York Magazine National Political Correspondent, Andrew Sullivan, The Atlantic Senior Editor and Gloria Borger, CNN Senior Political Analyst, will discuss:

What Must President Obama Do This Year to Get Competitive for 2012?

Year’s Resolutions for Palin and her GOP Rivals, for Hillary Clinton, and the Royals

Meet the Press with David Gregory: Oy. It’s all Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and how the Republicans will block everything and do nothing. I hope Obama has stopped taking this man at his word about cooperation.

At the Round Table, “Lurch” will be joined by  The New York Times’ David Brooks, The Washington Post’s E.J. Dionne, Yale law professor and author Stephen Carter, and BBC World News America’s Washington Correspondent Katty Kay, and Senator-elect Pat Toomey (R-PA). They will discuss the politics of the new year, the economy, our two wars, and even the politics of snow fall.

State of the Union with Candy Crowley: A new year, a new Congress; we’re looking ahead to what’s in store. CNN Chief White House correspondent Ed Henry guest hosts.

Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine will join us exclusively to discuss President Obama’s next two years in office. Can he rise above a stronger Republican Party? Or will his spirit of compromise sink his hopes for re-election?

Then, the incoming chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, California Rep. Darrell Issa joins us. The last time a Democrat occupied the White House while a Republican chaired the committee, over 1,000 subpoenas were issued. Will Chairman Issa use his subpoena power to help enact the GOP agenda?

And finally, three distinct voices within the House Democratic caucus chart the course forward for a wounded party looking to regain some momentum in the new year. Reps. Jason Altmire, Elijah Cummings and Steve Israel will join us.

Fareed Zakaris: GPS: No information for this Sunday.

Six In The Morning

Don’t Bother Hiding  

With Air Force’s new drone, ‘we can see everything’

In ancient times, Gorgon was a mythical Greek creature whose unblinking eyes turned to stone those who beheld them. In modern times, Gorgon may be one of the military’s most valuable new tools.

This winter, the Air Force is set to deploy to Afghanistan what it says is a revolutionary airborne surveillance system called Gorgon Stare, which will be able to transmit live video images of physical movement across an entire town.

The system, made up of nine video cameras mounted on a remotely piloted aircraft, can transmit live images to soldiers on the ground or to analysts tracking enemy movements.

And now your regularly scheduled program…

Joined in progress.

I’m basically including this one to catch any post New Year sports activity.  What I’ve sampled so far (through Noon) doesn’t seem unusual for a Sunday, though there are some not bad movies in the afternoon and evening.

For instance tonight National Geographic is showing Restrepo: Afghan Outpost at 8 pm and again at 11 pm.  It was recently reviewed by Dennis Hartley over at Hullabaloo (digby’s place)-

Sebastian Junger and Tim Hetherington’s no-frills portrait of one year in the life of a platoon deployed in Afghanistan is the most gut-wrenching and uncompromising piece of combat journalism I’ve seen since The World of Charlie Company (if you’re old enough to remember that one). There are no politics or voiceover narration to distract; just day-to-day life for a bunch of guys who want to do their duty, serve their tour and not get their asses shot off along the way. Saving Private Ryan and Platoon pale by comparison-this is the real deal.

I didn’t bother transferring the Amazon links.

This edition good until Noon.  Now 3 pm.  6 pm.  8 pm.  11 pm.  2 am.  Done, see you tomorrow for Prime Time.

New Tools.  Previous entries.  Instant gratification-

Zap2it TV Listings, Yahoo TV Listings

New Year Concert in Vienna

Every New Year’s Day, the Vienna Philharmonic ushers in the New Year with a concert at the Musikverein in Vienna. The tradition began during the darkest days of WWII. They present the compositions by the Strauss family as well as Joseph Lanner, Joseph Hellmesberger and Franz Liszt. The concert is televised in over 70 countries. Here in the US it is shown on most PBS channels. This year is no different. The program (pdf) was on earlier this afternoon and is repeated this evening at 8 PM. It is a most enjoyable way to spend the evening with after dinner drinks, coffee and desert. Here is last year’s performance of An der schönen blauen Donau, Op. 314or as it is better known in English, The Blue Danube by Johann Strauss II conducted by Georges Prêtre.

The Free Lunch Economy vs. The Progressive Era

Crossposted from Antemedius

Under the first U.S. income tax law that was passed in 1913, only 1 percent of Americans were required to file income tax returns, and to be liable to file you would have had to be earning an annual income of about $120,000 in todays dollars. It was passed during a period called the Progressive Era: “a period of social activism and reform that flourished from the 1890s to the 1920s” during which there were widespread “efforts to reform local government, education, medicine, finance, insurance, industry, railroads, churches, and many other areas” of American life.

It was a period of steady economic growth in the U.S. and produced a since unparalleled level of prosperity that lasted for decades. The politics of the era included the concept of an economy of high wages and the idea that American labor could undersell foreign labor by being highly paid, well clothed, well educated, healthier labor with high productivity. The concept of “free market” during the period was an entirely different concept than it is today.

Michael Hudson is President of The Institute for the Study of Long-Term Economic Trends (ISLET), a Wall Street Financial Analyst, Distinguished Research Professor of Economics at the University of Missouri, Kansas City and is the author of “Super-Imperialism: The Economic Strategy of American Empire” (1968 & 2003), “Trade, Development and Foreign Debt” (1992 & 2009) and of “The Myth of Aid” (1971).

ISLET engages in research regarding domestic and international finance, national income and balance-sheet accounting with regard to real estate, and the economic history of the ancient Near East. Hudson acts as an economic advisor to governments worldwide, including Iceland, Latvia and China, on finance and tax law.

As an advisor to the White House, the State Department and the Department of Defense at the Hudson Institute, and subsequently to the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), Hudson has been one of the best known specialists in international finance. He also has consulted for the governments of Canada, Mexico and Russia, most recently for the Duma opposition to the Yeltsin regime.

Yesterday we heard Assistant Research Professor at the Political Economy Research Institute (PERI) Jeannette Wicks-Lim explain how currently most minimum wage earners in the U.S. can no longer the afford the basic necessities of life, and outline a proposal to combine minimum wage and earned income tax credit policies to guarantee a decent living wage for all.

Hudson here today talks with The Real News Networks’ Paul Jay and concludes that the the U.S economy can again outperform foreign economies with high wages, increased living standards, and with high top tier tax rates producing higher productivity – a progressive concept, like Wicks-Lim’s ideas, that is nearly the exact opposite of the free lunch economic ‘theories’ so widespread today that are behind wall street’s pillaging of the U.S. economy with the support of both major political parties.

Real News Network – January 1, 2011

Higher Taxes on Top 1% Equals Higher Productivity

Michael Hudson: The history of US shows that the economy grows

when top tier tax rates and workers wages are high

Evening Edition

TMC 1.11.11 Edition for New year’s Day

ek is off to a 3 dimensional life party, leaving the nightly news in my hands. Bwahahahah

Being the first holiday of the year the news is a bit sparse which makes my job easier tonight, although a bit disappointing to those who are looking for a distraction from the lack of TV fare or family affairs. Well, BBC America is running a marathon of Dr. Who.

1. Words “viral” and “epic” consigned to college trash

By Ros Krasny

BOSTON | Fri Dec 31, 2010 12:38pm EST

(Reuters) – This story might be epic, and could even go viral, but not if Lake Superior State University has anything to do with it. Just sayin.’

The small college in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, released on Friday its annual list of “banished words” — terms so overused, misused and hackneyed they deserve to be sent to a permanent linguistic trash can in the year ahead.

“Viral,” often used to describe the rapid spreading of videos or other content over the Internet, leads the list for 2011.

“This linguistic disease of a term must be quarantined,” Kuahmel Allah of Los Angeles said in making a nomination.

Runners-up included “epic” and “fail,” often twinned to describe a blunder of monumental proportions.

A total of 14 words were on the list.

Cliched terms such as “wow factor,” “a-ha moment,” “back story” and “BFF” (Best Friends Forever) rated highly. The very au courant use of “Facebook” and “Google” as verbs got a thumbs down as well.