04/18/2011 archive

Labor Is Unhappy with Obama

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka explains why labor leaders oppose many of the recent budget cuts, a new trade agreement with Columbia and plans to reform entitlements.

At the end of the interview, Trumka directly addresses the “entitlement” issues of Social Security and Medicaid:

Trumka: Let’s not mix apples and oranges. Socal Security is not part of the deficit crisis. It did not cause the deficit. Yet in the mix, when people talk about it, like you just did, the readers, the listeners would assume that the Social Security crisis problem . . . .

Mitchell: We’re not talking about the deficit crisis, we’re talking about making it viable as a pension.

Trumka: If you want to attack Medicare and Medicaid, you have to attack health care costs. Instead of doing away with the public option, there should be a public option to create competition. 94& of the health care markets out there are highly concentrated. That means there are one or two companies out there that can charge you anything they want. All you have to do for Social Security is scrap the cap. Take the cap away, you don’t have to have this. What we’re ding with priorities in this country, Andrea, is saying we can’t afford good jobs. We can’t afford retirement security. We can’t afford health care for our citizens. When the rest of the world figured that out, they figured out a way to do it. We are the richest nation on the face of the earth, we can do it, too. That’s why we’ll speak up and fight against those cuts to Social Security unti everybody, and I mean everybody, has paid their fair share.

In the report that was released but not approved, the President’s own Deficit Commission advocated for a strong public option for health care. There are two solutions mentioned by Trumka that are easy and viable solutions that are not mentioned by either the President, or the Democratic leadership, “scrap the cap” on Social Security contributions and a string public option for health care

Evening Edition

Evening Edition is an Open Thread

Now with 49 Top Stories.

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Suicide car bombs kill five at Baghdad Green Zone

by Ammar Karim, AFP

Mon Apr 18, 12:34 pm ET

BAGHDAD (AFP) – Two suicide car bombings killed five people and wounded 15 on Monday at the entrance to Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone, where an Arab League summit is due to be held next month.

Officials said the bombings occurred at around 8:30 am (0530 GMT) at the western gate into the Green Zone, which houses the offices of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, Iraq’s parliament and the US and British embassies.

A queue of cars was waiting to enter the Green Zone when the vehicles exploded, a security official said.

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”

Paul Krugman: Let’s Not Be Civil

Last week, President Obama offered a spirited defense of his party’s values – in effect, of the legacy of the New Deal and the Great Society. Immediately thereafter, as always happens when Democrats take a stand, the civility police came out in force. The president, we were told, was being too partisan; he needs to treat his opponents with respect; he should have lunch with them, and work out a consensus.

That’s a bad idea. Equally important, it’s an undemocratic idea.

Let’s review the story so far.

E. J. Dionne, Jr.: America’s elites have a duty to the rest of us

The American ruling class is failing us – and itself.

At other moments in our history, the informal networks of the wealthy and powerful who often wield at least as much influence as our elected politicians accepted that their good fortune imposed an obligation: to reform and thus preserve the system that allowed them to do so well. They advocated social decency out of self-interest (reasonably fair societies are more stable) but also from an old-fashioned sense of civic duty. “Noblesse oblige” sounds bad until it doesn’t exist anymore.

An enlightened ruling class understands that it can get richer and its riches will be more secure if prosperity is broadly shared, if government is investing in productive projects that lift the whole society and if social mobility allows some circulation of the elites. A ruling class closed to new talent doesn’t remain a ruling class for long.

Eugene Robinson: Lines in the Sand

It was refreshing to hear all those unambiguous declarations from President Obama on Wednesday. “I will not” let Medicare become a voucher program or deprive families with disabled children of needed benefits. “We will” reform government health care programs without disavowing the social compact. “I refuse” to sign another renewal of the Bush tax cuts for millionaires. Republicans “want to give people like me a $200,000 tax cut that’s paid for by asking 33 seniors each to pay $6,000 more in health costs. … And it’s not going to happen as long as I’m president.”

OK, there weren’t any lines with the simple heat of “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall” or the terse power of “Make my day.” But Obama’s budget manifesto represented a significant warming of his usually cool rhetoric. He said he wanted to find common ground but instead devoted much of the speech to drawing lines in the sand.

And thank goodness. If ever there were a time when lines desperately needed to be drawn, it’s now.

Joe Conason: Democrats Can Win the Budget Debate

Having hesitated to fully enter the fiscal fray, President Obama has at last delivered a plausible, principled response to the budgetary flimflams of the far right. But one speech, even a very good speech, won’t fulfill his obligation in this fateful argument.

What Obama began to do this week is what Democrats ought to have been doing forcefully for many weeks, which is to ensure that Americans understand the central differences between Democratic and Republican budgeting-and how the party’s contrasting programs would affect them and their families. While acknowledging the need to bring the federal budget closer to balance in coming years, the president laid down real markers concerning how that objective should and should not be achieved.

David Sirota: Ikea Joins the Race to the Bottom

When it comes to ubiquitous symbols of mass American culture, the 1999 movie “Fight Club” aptly reminded us that bland Ikea furniture is now on par with mom and apple pie.

The film, of course, was lamenting more the ennui of homogenization than Ikea’s particular business model, because Ikea’s market saturation was always considered somewhat laudable thanks to the company’s seemingly special ethos. Based in Sweden, the blue-and-yellow behemoth was known to consumers as one of the few courageous anti-Wal-Marts in the big-box world-a firm whose Scandinavian-socialist flavor appeared to assure us that it was probably treating its workers better than most multinationals, thus giving America a rare haven of guilt-free shopping.

Or so it seemed, until the Los Angeles Times this week published a damning story about Ikea’s manufacturing plant in Danville, Va.

John Nichols: Paul Ryan’s Authoritarian Freakout: Losing Control of Budget Voting, Congressman Screeches ‘Shut it Down’

Paul Ryan claims to be a huge fan of novelist Ayn Rand, the libertarian favorite whose books and essays celebrated bold and unexpected acts of rebellion against autocrats and authoritarians

The House Budget Committee chair positions himself as such a Randifarian that he requires his staff to read the Russian immigrant’s objectivist tracks.

But, while Rand at her best celebrated creative dissent, Ryan’s got a big problem with it-a big-government problem.

The congressional prima donna was set to take his star turn Friday, with the easy passage of a plan that begins the process of privatizing Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid-not for the purpose of balancing the budget but rather to steer federal funds into the coffers of the Wall Street speculators who have funded Ryan’s rise to political prominence.

DOJ Ignoring Grand Theft Wall Street

Former New York governor and attorney general general, now CNN talk show host Eliot Spitzer appeared on Anderson Cooper’s “360” with “Rolling Stone” editor and blogger, Matt Taibbi discussing the two year investigation of the financial institutions that “plunged the U.S. economy into a painful recession”. The Senate subcommittee’s 650 page report that was released on April 13th is a scathing indictment of cover-ups,  lies, the conflict of interest of regulators and the cozy relationship with ratings agencies. During the discussion, Spitzer challenged Attorney General Eric Holder to either prosecute Goldman Sachs or resign:

SPITZER: Senator, I’m going to take a leap. I’m going to say it out loud. Very directly.

   Goldman Sachs, you lied to the public. You lied to your clients. You’ve got a problem. You come on the show. Sue me. I don’t care. You lied to the public, you should be prosecuted.

   I’m going to say it right now. And I hope they are.

It isn’t surprising that the “powers that be” went after Spitzer because this is the man who should be the US Attorney General.

Monday Business Edition

Monday Business Edition is an Open Thread

Now with 46 Stories.

From Yahoo News Business

1 Portuguese bailout talks start under Finnish shadow


2 hrs 8 mins ago

LISBON (AFP) – European and IMF officials were to start tough talks with Portugal Monday on the scale and modalities of a bailout, as a Finnish anti-EU party’s election success cast doubt on its viability.

Negotiations on the sum and payback conditions in a deal expected to involve tens of billions of euros follow an evaluation mission last week to Lisbon by the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

The government of Prime Minister Jose Socrates government fell last month when parliament rejected an austerity plan, forcing Lisbon to bow to market pressure and seek an European Union-IMF bailout.

On This Day In History April 18

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.

April 18 is the 108th day of the year (109th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 257 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1775, British troops march out of Boston on a mission to confiscate the American arsenal at Concord and to capture Patriot leaders Samuel Adams and John Hancock, known to be hiding at Lexington. As the British departed, Boston Patriots Paul Revere and William Dawes set out on horseback from the city to warn Adams and Hancock and rouse the Minutemen.

By 1775, tensions between the American colonies and the British government had approached the breaking point, especially in Massachusetts, where Patriot leaders formed a shadow revolutionary government and trained militias to prepare for armed conflict with the British troops occupying Boston. In the spring of 1775, General Thomas Gage, the British governor of Massachusetts, received instructions from Great Britain to seize all stores of weapons and gunpowder accessible to the American insurgents. On April 18, he ordered British troops to march against Concord and Lexington.

The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere

On the night of April 18-19, 1775, just hours before the battles of Lexington and Concord, Revere performed his “Midnight Ride”. He and William Dawes were instructed by Dr. Joseph Warren to ride from Boston to Lexington to warn John Hancock and Samuel Adams of the movements of the British Army, which was beginning a march from Boston to Lexington, ostensibly to arrest Hancock and Adams and seize the weapons stores in Concord.

The British army (the King’s “regulars”) had been stationed in Boston since the ports were closed in the wake of the Boston Tea Party, and was under constant surveillance by Revere and other patriots as word began to spread that they were planning a move. On the night of April 18, 1775, the army began its move across the Charles River toward Lexington, and the Sons of Liberty immediately went into action. At about 11 pm, Revere was sent by Dr. Warren across the Charles River to Charlestown, on the opposite shore, where he could begin a ride to Lexington, while Dawes was sent the long way around, via the Boston Neck and the land route to Lexington.

In the days before April 18, Revere had instructed Robert Newman, the sexton of the Old North Church, to send a signal by lantern to alert colonists in Charlestown as to the movements of the troops when the information became known. In what is well known today by the phrase “one if by land, two if by sea”, one lantern in the steeple would signal the army’s choice of the land route, while two lanterns would signal the route “by water” across the Charles River. This was done to get the message through to Charlestown in the event that both Revere and Dawes were captured. Newman and Captain John Pulling momentarily held two lanterns in the Old North Church as Revere himself set out on his ride, to indicate that the British soldiers were in fact crossing the Charles River that night. Revere rode a horse lent to him by John Larkin, Deacon of the Old North Church.

There were other riders that night besides Dawes, including a woman, Sybil Ludington. The other men were Israel Bissel and  Samuel Prescott. a doctor who happened to be in Lexington “returning from a lady friend’s house at the awkward hour of 1 a.m.”

Six In The Morning

U.S. secretly backed Syrian opposition groups, cables released by WikiLeaks show

By Craig Whitlock

The State Department has secretly financed Syrian political opposition groups and related projects, including a satellite TV channel that beams anti-government programming into the country, according to previously undisclosed diplomatic cables.

The London-based satellite channel, Barada TV, began broadcasting in April 2009 but has ramped up operations to cover the mass protests in Syria as part of a long-standing campaign to overthrow the country’s autocratic leader, Bashar al-Assad. Human rights groups say scores of people have been killed by Assad’s security forces since the demonstrations began March 18; Syria has blamed the violence on “armed gangs.”

DocuDharma Digest

Regular Features-

Featured Essays for April 17, 2011-


Pique the Geek 20110417: Vinyl Records

This is sort of a companion piece to Friday’s Popular Culture piece about eight track tapes.  There was quite a response to that piece, and several commentators suggested that we talk about vinyl records tonight.  I have a great respect for my readers, so I am happy to oblige.

On the surface, records seem to be quite simple things indeed.  In practice, few things are further from the truth.  While the concept behind records is fairly simple, the technology is extremely complex to attain high fidelity, defined as sound reproduced with high enough quality as to give the impression that actual performers are playing at the time.  In other words, artifacts of recording and playback should be so small as barely to be noticed.

from firefly-dreaming 17.4.11

This is an Open Thread

Essays Featured Sunday the 17th of April:

Late Night Karaoke shines a spotlight on Sylvia’s Mother, mishima DJs

Six Brilliant Articles! from Six Different Places!! on Six Different Topics!!!

                Six Days a Week!!!    at Six in the Morning!!!!

Alma‘s got ‘puter troubles. LOLs are Sunday Open Thoughts.

in Gabriel D‘s Perfect Conversation discussion is centered on & around Status and Challenge

This edition of Bill Egnor‘s Sunday Bread is scrumptious Bacon Italian Bread

OK, Now Look! wherein edger helps me promote firefly (^.^)

join the conversation! come firefly-dreaming with me….