10/29/2011 archive

Progressive Realists

A Third Way Manifesto for the 1%


by Jay Ackroyd, Eschaton

at 19:48 Friday, October 28, 2011

The president, and the Democrat’s Senate leadership, reject movement liberalism. The ideology they follow is grounded in the impact of globalization on world capital and labor markets. They believe the US has to reduce labor costs to be competitive as capital flows freely around an interconnected world-that it is unrealistic, “neo-populist” to think the middle class can be preserved. But they also recognize that the middle class is not gonna be happy with these necessary, painful policies:

THE NEW RULES ECONOMY: A Policy Framework for the 21st Century (pdf)

The Third Way Middle Class Project

A Third Way Report by Anne Kim, Adam Solomon, Bernard L. Schwartz, Jim Kessler, and Stephen Rose

February 2007

We urge a different approach, which we call “progressive realism.” Realism means recognizing and understanding the economy’s new rules while accepting the limits of government’s power to stop the forces of change. But as progressives, we also believe that government policies-if modernized and adapted to the rules of the 21st century-can create the optimal conditions for increasing economic growth, expanding middle-class prosperity and protecting those who fall behind.
As progressive realists, we do not doubt that change is disruptive and, for many people, painful. Globalization has made many jobs obsolete, and both companies and individuals have been hurt by its impact. As the neopopulists note, all is not well with the middle class. But we also see the current era of change as one of tremendous opportunity and potential for the middle class.

This belief that New Deal liberalism is obsolete is combined with a belief that good policy-making is inconsistent with democratic institutions-that you need to rely on policy experts operating in good faith in the best interests of the country, without elbows being joggled by cranky neo-populists or nutty movement conservtives. And those experts, who can be found at the highest reaches of successful corporations should be brought into government, because they understand how this new global economy works. These leaders need to be brought into partnership with the US government, and hard-headed, realistic policy crafted, so that the US can continue to be the dominant world power.

Note that a central theme here is that it is above partisanship-that the experts, left alone, will best do their work. When you use that frame, then the health care negotiation makes sense. These negotiations took place not with politicians, but with the large service providers, because those stakeholders are the real experts and will keep us out of distracting, distorting partisanship. It makes sense that we turn to the money center banks as the mechanism for minimizing the contraction-they’re the pros who have risen, through merit and diligence, to their positions.

It’s not about Obama per se. It’s about a political philosophy, an ideology that rejects core Democratic values about the government’s role in protecting the citizenry from powerful private interests. It’s not twelve dimensional chess. It’s not cowardice or “caving” or bad messaging, or that the Democrats don’t know how to negotiate.

Random Japan



Headline of the Week: “Autopsy shows man found dead in Nagano Prefecture had breast enlargement surgery” (via The Mainichi Daily News)

Close runner-up (via The Tokyo Reporter): “Deflation cutting hand-job prices to the bone” (on depression-induced discounts in shady massage joints… as low as ¥2,700 in some places, in case you were wondering)

A team of Japanese researchers who came up with a wasabi fire alarm, which wakes people up by releasing a cloud of wasabi mist in burning rooms, were honored with the Ig Nobel prize for chemistry by Harvard University.

The Japan Racing Association, the local overseers of horse racing here, revoked the license of a top trainer over his ties to the yakuza. Apparently the guy had been swindled out of some ¥10 million by the Yamaguchi-gumi.

The Japan Boxing Commission told the Kameda boys to avoid ties with gangsters after several top yakuza members were spotted ringside during Koki Kameda’s WBC title fight in August at the Budokan.

The owner of a bunch of sex clubs in Osaka staffed by married women was charged with evading some ¥46 million in taxes. He now faces a ¥62 million fine.

Say what? A rugby player was banned for 30 days by the union after saying to some players on a team from Iwate Prefecture, “The quake must have screwed up your minds.” The witty jab was delivered during a scrum.

New Zealand rugby legend John Kirwan stepped down as Japan’s national rugby team coach in the wake of the Brave Blossoms’ disappointing World Cup campaign, in which they failed to win a match.

Amoral Economics 101

More Thoughts On Weaponized Keynesianism

Paul Krugman, The New York Times

October 29, 2011, 2:20 pm

Economics, as I say often, is not a morality play. As far as creating aggregate demand is concerned, spending is spending – public spending is as good as but also no better than private spending, spending on bombs is as good as spending on public parks. As I pointed out not long ago, a perceived threat of alien invasion, by getting us to spend on anti-invasion measures, would quickly restore full employment, even though the spending would be on totally useless object.

It’s also worth noting that one of the main sources of evidence that fiscal expansion really does stimulate the economy comes from tracking the effects of changes in defense spending. That’s true of Depression-era studies like Almunia et al, and also of several of the studies described in the Romer and Romer lecture on fiscal policy. Why the focus on defense? Two reasons, actually. One is that in practice defense spending is what moves: the fact is that large-scale stimulus programs consisting of domestic spending basically don’t happen, while wars and arms races do.

And the evidence clearly shows that weaponized Keynesianism works – which means that Keynesianism in general works.

(T)here’s the general fear on the part of conservatives that if you admit that the government can do anything useful other than fighting wars, you open the door to do-gooding in general; that explains why conservatives have always seen Keynesianism as a dangerous leftist doctrine even though that makes no sense in terms of the theory’s actual content. On top of that there’s the Kalecki point that admitting that the government can create jobs undermines demands that policies be framed to cater to all-important business confidence.

That said, there’s also the Keynes/coalmines point: there’s a strong tendency to take any spending that looks like a business proposition – building bridges or tunnels, supporting solar energy or mass transit – and demanding that it appear to be a sound investment in terms of its financial return. This makes most such spending look bad, since almost by definition a depressed economy is one in which businesses aren’t seeing good reasons to invest. Defense gets exempted because nobody expects bombs to be a good business proposition.

The moral here should be that spending to promote employment in a depressed economy should not be viewed as something that has to generate a good financial return; in effect, most of the resources being used are in reality free.

You may discuss more productive uses of government investment below, though you should be prepared for the argument that other activities which reduce the surplus population (plagues, famines, eating babies, etc.) also produce beneficial economic results.

Health and Fitness News

Welcome to the Stars Hollow Health and Fitness weekly diary. It will publish on Saturday afternoon and be open for discussion about health related issues including diet, exercise, health and health care issues, as well as, tips on what you can do when there is a medical emergency. Also an opportunity to share and exchange your favorite healthy recipes.

Questions are encouraged and I will answer to the best of my ability. If I can’t, I will try to steer you in the right direction. Naturally, I cannot give individual medical advice for personal health issues. I can give you information about medical conditions and the current treatments available.

You can now find past Health and Fitness News diaries here and on the right hand side of the Front Page.

Dinner for One: Poached Eggs and Vegetables


Dinner for one can be a conundrum. If you never know when you’re going to be home it’s difficult to plan. If you’ve been cooking for a family for years and now your children are out of the house, you may be flummoxed by the idea of preparing a meal for just one person. Or say you’re divorced, and some nights your children are with their other parent. How do you plan a dinner for yourself?

Quinoa, Spinach and Poached Egg

As in most of the other comforting and simple dinners for one in this week’s Recipes for Health, all of the elements here can be prepared in advance of assembling this dish.

Eggs Poached in Marinara Sauce

This meal, which Italians call “eggs in purgatory,” comes together in little more time than it takes to toast some bread and warm the sauce.

Endive and Quinoa Salad With Poached Egg

Long-lasting endive makes this a forgiving dish for busy cooks with unpredictable schedules.

Eggs Poached in Curried Tomato Sauce

This is like a South Asian version of huevos rancheros. The sauce yields more than what you’ll need for one serving. Refrigerate or freeze what you don’t use.

Beet Greens Bruschetta With Poached Egg and Fontina

Toasted whole-grain bread forms a foundation for garlicky greens and silky poached eggs.

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”.

John Nichols: How the Wounding of a Vet Who Dared to Dissent Has Stirred More Dissent

“We Are All Scott Olsen!” was the message of vigils held across the United States Thursday night, held in answer to a call from Iraq Veterans Against the War and Occupy Oakland for “occupations across America and around the world to hold solidarity vigils” recognizing Olsen, the former Marine and Iraq War veteran who activists say “sustained a skull fracture after being shot in the head on October 25 with a police projectile while peacefully participating in an Occupy Oakland protest.

In cities across the United States and around the world, “We Are Scott Olsen” vigils, rallies and marches were held. Thousands attended a candlelight vigil in Oakland. In Las Vegas, an image of Olsen was projected at the site of the Occupy encampment. In New York, Occupy Wall Street activist took to the streets chanting “New York is Oakland, Oakland is New York.” As far away as London, images of Olsen were displayed at gatherings. The buzz about the wounding of the 24-year-old veteran seemed to be everywhere, and was perhaps best summed up by a message from an activist who had protested at Wisconsin’s state Capitol with Olsen in February. It read: “He could be any one of us.”

Dahlia Lithwick: Occupy the No-Spin Zone

One of the best things about Occupy Wall Street is the way it confuses and ignores the shrill pundit class.

I confess to being driven insane this past month by the spectacle of television pundits professing to be baffled by the meaning of Occupy Wall Street. Good grief. Isn’t the ability to read still a job requirement for a career in journalism? And as last week’s inane “What Do They Want?” meme morphs into this week’s craven “They Want Your Stuff meme, I feel it’s time to explain something: Occupy Wall Street may not have laid out all of its demands in a perfectly cogent one-sentence bumper sticker for you, Mr. Pundit, but it knows precisely what it doesn’t want. It doesn’t want you.

What the movement clearly doesn’t want is to have to explain itself through corporate television. To which I answer, Hallelujah. You can’t talk down to a movement that won’t talk back to you.

Joan Walsh: Why does Bill Daley still have a job?

Just as the president gets his political footing, his arrogant chief of staff trips him up

Politico’s Roger Simon has an “exclusive” interview with White House chief of staff Bill Daley, and you really have to read it to believe it. It’s a portrait of arrogant self-promotion. The piece is headlined, “Bill Daley, Unplugged.” I hope that President Obama reads it, and decides to unplug Daley, for good. Yes, I know he has announced he’s leaving after the 2012 election. That’s not nearly soon enough.

Former chief of staff Rahm Emanuel was no slouch when it came to arrogant self-promotion, either. Remember when he was the obvious unnamed source behind two Washington Post puff pieces, “Why Obama Needs Rahm at the Top” and “Hotheaded Emanuel May Be White House Voice of Reason,” at the height of the administration’s early 2010 disarray? (If you don’t have time to click the links, it’s OK, the headlines say it all.)

Cenk Uygur: Why Republican Voters Can’t Make Up Their Mind

It seems like every couple of weeks we have a new leader in the Republican field. Michele Bachmann has been there, so have Mitt Romney and Rick Perry, and now Herman Cain sits atop the field. Why can’t Republican voters make up their minds?

Here’s why — they don’t even believe their own positions. They want someone who is massively conservative and at the same time agrees with them on policy. The problem is the voters aren’t nearly as conservative as they think they are. So they love the tough talking governor from Texas until they find out he wants to get rid of Social Security. They like that Michele Bachmann doesn’t believe in global warming until they realize that she doesn’t believe in it because she’s bat-shit crazy.

If you choose ignorance as your party ideology why should it surprise you that you have completely ignorant party leaders? But it does, every single time. Watch, it’ll happen again. This time with Herman Cain.

Ruth Coniff: Elizabeth Warren Is Scary!

The Republicans are trying to sink Elizabeth Warren by linking her to the Occupy Wall Street protests. But the nation’s top financial reformer is not backing down.

The furor started when Warren told the Daily Beast, “I created much of the intellectual foundation for what they do. I support what they do.”

The Republicans jumped all over what they view as an exciting new weapon in the contentious Massachusetts Senate race.

Check out “”Matriarch of Mayhem,” the Massachusetts Republican Party’s ad, which uses protest images and quotes taken out of context to imply that Elizabeth Warren advocates actual, physical violence.

Even among negative campaign ads, this is a new low.

You knew Wall Street and the Republicans were afraid of Warren and her idea for a Consumer Financial Protection Agency. But you haven’t seen the depths of their nightmarish fears until you’ve listened to the scary music and seen the video.

Occupy Wall St. Livestream: Day 43

Watch live streaming video from globalrevolution at livestream.com


The resistance continues at Liberty Square, with free pizza 😉

“I don’t know how to fix this but I know it’s wrong.” ~ Unknown Author

Occupy Wall Street NYC now has a web site for its General Assembly  with up dates and information. Very informative and user friendly. It has information about events, a bulletin board, groups and minutes of the GA meetings.

NYC General Assembly #OccupyWallStreet

Yesterday, at Liberty Park, NYC Fire department swept in and confiscated 5 diesel and biodeisel fueled generators that are used to provide lighting for safety at night and power for computer and camera equipment. It was done on the pretext of “safety concerns” as stated by Mayor Michael Bloomberg just as a nasty winter storm is hitting the NYC area with a mix of icy rain and snow. However, it has been reported that the generators were quickly replaced since #OWS/NYC is flush with funds. Tents also pooped up again in the park but were left undisturbed by police, the mayor’s office stating that the owners of the park had not complained. Elsewhere, OWS encampments are preparing for winter conditions. Keep trying, Mike. We aren’t leaving and you can’t silence us or continue to protect your friends.

In Oakland, Scott Olsen’s condition continues to improve and he is being evaluated by speech and physical therapists. The picture of Scott being carried to safety has gone viral around the world. Protestors and tents have also returned to the square where the incident took place.

There was a festive mood as 6,000 letters from the 99% were delivered to the CEO’s of the country’s largest banks.

On This Day In History October 29

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.

October 29 is the 302nd day of the year (303rd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 63 days remaining until the end of the year.


On this day in 1787, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s opera “Don Giovanni” makes its debut in Prague at the Estates Theater. It is an opera in two acts with the music by Mozart and with an Italian libretto by Lorenzo Da Ponte. It is about a “young, arrogant, sexually prolific nobleman who abuses and outrages everyone else in the cast, until he encounters something he cannot kill, beat up, dodge, or outwit.” The opera is sometimes characterized as comic because it combines comedy, drama and the supernatural. It is among the top 20 operas performed in North America.

F1: Buddh Qualifying

This is the inaugural race at Buddh, a short, fast track with only 16 turns.  Speeds average around 130.5 mph with top speeds approaching 200.  Each lap of the 3.2 mile circuit takes about 1:26.

Unlike Yeongam’s first season the course is quite smooth, though it hasn’t much been rubbered in or tested since it only opened September 1st.  They will be running 2 DRS zones during the race, though in Qualifying of course they can use it anywhere.

Pirelli is offering Hards and Softs which means teams will be very concerned about tire management during this session and you’ll probably find the top contenders spending a lot of time parked after they lay down their hot laps.  Alonso at least will be running a new engine though I suspect that has as much to do with the fact there are only 2 races left after this one as anything else.  Might as well use them up.

Once more the stewards are picking on Hamilton, both he and Maldonado will suffer a 3 grid penalty for driving too fast through a yellow.

The Practice and Qualifying sessions will repeat tomorrow starting at 2 am before the Race itself at 5.  The Race will be shown again at 3 pm for you sleepy heads.

As always surprising developments, if any, below.

Popular Culture (Music) 20111028: The Who by Numbers

The Who by Numbers is the second to last studio album released by The Who, released in October 1975.  The UK release date was the the third, by Polydor Records, and the US release date was the 25th on MCA Records.

The album did rather well, charting at #8 in the US and #7 in the UK.  Personally, it probably my least favorite album from The Who.  Many of the songs are very dark, likely because of Townshend’s deepening alcoholism.  However, at least one song was upbeat.

With that said, let us listen to some music!

2011 World Series- Rangers at Cardinals Game 7

Late night?  Who, me?  I got a whole 3 hours of sleep before the banging from the roofers woke me up.  Fresh as a daisy I am.  But we’ll get to Qualifying in India when we get to it, for now let’s contemplate how huge yesterday’s loss was for the Rangers.  In a word, immense.

The only thing missing was Bill Buckner.

ek you say, how can you be so sanguine after a close fought 10 – 9 victory in 11 innings?  Well for one thing the home team has won 7 of the last 7 game 7s and there is that natural Senior League advantage in a Senior League park.  Also Washington wasted Holland who’s been the only starter who looked good the entire Series in relief when he could have started today on full rest.  In fairness my Dad points out that if they’d won Washington would have looked like a genius.

Instead they’ll pitch Matt Harrison, who gave up five runs in 3 2/3 innings in Saturday’s 16 – 7 blowout.  The Cardinals will counter with Chris Carpenter who hasn’t looked all that impressive but better than Harrison.  The Bullpens are a ‘pick ’em’ after all the work they’ve had though Ogando and Feliz appear particularly tired.

Napoli will start which is good for the Rangers because they desperately need his bat, though how long his bad ankle will permit him to squat is a question.  Cruz will also start despite his groin pull.  Holliday will be benched in favor of Craig which is no handicap for the Cardinals given his pathetic .158 average.

And they have the Rally Squirrel-

Unless there is a rain delay this is the last game of the season and as I mentioned last night the Collective Bargaining Agreement expires December 11th, so enjoy your Baseball while you can.