Daily Archive: 05/13/2015

May 13 2015

Dispatches From Hellpeckersville-Life In Limbo

Every evening I wait for the phone calls that will tell me who will be coming the next day. The aide, the PT, the nurse, and now that mom’s on palliative care, the nurse practitioner will be making house calls as well. The nurse and the physical therapist are always the same, but the aides have been different every time so far, I jot down their names along with the time window they give me.

The bedroom has been cleared of a washbasket and a storage tote, to make room for a commode and a chair or two for visitors. I tell my boys to please keep the downstairs presentable. Yeah, I know they all come to look after mom, don’t give a hoot about the house, have seen plenty worse, go straight up the steps…I know all that. I also know that the mom who raised me would want them to walk into a decent looking house. It might seem silly, but there’s not much I can do for her now, and I know she would want it.

I’m trying to keep a sense of normalcy for the boys, but I wonder to myself–what is normal for them? Their mommom has been anything but for the past year. But she’s been here, talked to them, liked them, loved them, and now she’s not. She’s mostly unresponsive in her room. If this had happened a year ago I think it might have devastated Baboo, he was her boy, her buddy, but in the past year her aggression has been so scary to both boys, I don’t think they know how to feel now. We’ll figure it out.

Me, I feel like I’m living a waking dream, I try to keep busy, but I can’t seem to concentrate on the book I started. I made some earrings, I made a cake, I play games, I make the appointments, I make hamburger gravy for the second time this week because mom can still mange to eat that. Will this be weeks? Months? There’s no telling at this point. I worry about dad, he doesn’t call me to help when he should, I give him hell, but it doesn’t matter. Am I going to have to start following him around? Listening for movement in that room? He can’t keep trying to change her by himself, he is going to be 80 years old and that shit is totally unnecessary.

For now things are okay. We have help coming in, and family showing up, people I can call if I need to. I keep telling myself I’ll be okay, I’ll get through this, I’ve done this before. But it wasn’t my mom. I used to tell her that I knew I wasn’t her favorite…but that’s okay, she’s still mine.

May 13 2015

Democratic Rebellion Over Bad Trade Agreements

In an unprecedented break with the White House, Democrats in the Senate refuse to back fast-track authority for the president. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Nobel laureate in Economics Joseph E. Stiglitz joins”All In” host Chris Hayes after he called the president’s criticism “disrespectful.

The 10 biggest lies you’ve been told about the Trans-Pacific Partnership

David Dayen, Salon

You can call it “misleading” or “offering half-truths,” but when push comes to a shove, these are lies

It’s beneath the dignity of the Presidency to so aggressively paint opponents as not just wrong on the facts, but hiding the truth on purpose. Warren has responded without using the same indecorous tactics. Unfortunately, I don’t have the same self-control. So by way of response, here are ten moments where the President or his subordinates have lied – call it “misled” or “offered half-truths” or whatever; but I’m in an ornery mood so let’s just say lied – about his trade agenda:

1. 40 PERCENT: The President and his team have repeatedly described TPP as a deal involving nearly 40 percent of global GDPThis tells only part of the story. [..

The point is that saying TPP is about “40 percent of GDP” intimates that it would massively change the ability to export without tariffs. In reality it would have virtually no significance in opening new markets. To the extent that there’s a barrier in global trade today, it comes from currency manipulation by countries wanting to keep their exports cheap. The TPP has no currency provisions.

2. JOB CREATION: Saying, as the White House has, that the deal would support “an additional 650,000 jobs” is not true. This figure came from a hypothetical calculation of a report by the Peterson Institute for International Economics, which the Institute itself said was an incorrect way to use their data. [..]

The deal is actually more about building up barriers than taking them down. Much of TPP is devoted to increasing copyright and patent protections for prescription drugs and Hollywood media content. As economist Dean Baker notes, this is protectionist, and will raise prices for drugs, movies and music here and abroad.

3. EXPORTS ONLY: The Administration constantly discusses trade as solely a question of U.S. exports. A recent Council of Economic Advisors report (pdf) touts: Exporters pay higher wages, and export industry growth translates into higher average earnings. But the Economic Policy Institute points out that this ignores imports, and therefore the ballooning trade deficit, which weighs down economic growth and wages.

4. MOST PROGRESSIVE: Obama has called TPP “the most progressive trade deal in history.” First of all, so did ill Clinton and Al Gore, when talking about NAFTA in 1993. Second, there’s reason to believe TPP doesn’t even clear a low bar for progressive trade deals. [..]

Labor groups can only ask the White House to enforce labor rights violations, and for the past several years, the Administration simply hasn’t. So when Obama says violators of TPP will face “meaningful consequences,” based on the Administration’s prior enforcement, he’s lying.

5. CHANGING LAWS: On the controversial topic of Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS), where corporations can sue sovereign governments for monetary damages for violating trade agreements that hurt the company’s “expected future profits,” the White House has engaged in a shell game. [..]

Even third-party countries have curtailed regulations in reaction to ISDS rulings, as New Zealand did with their cigarette packaging law, awaiting the outcome of a dispute between the tobacco industry and Australia (a suit that continues despite an initial victory for Australia).

6. NEVER LOST: The White House assumes that the only thing America cares about with ISDS is the upsetting of our own laws. [..]

This is irrelevant. What ISDS does is offer bailout insurance policy to multinational corporations. If they run into discrimination or regulatory squeezing by a foreign government, they can use an extra-judicial process to recoup their investment. Workers screwed over by trade agreements have no ability to sue governments; only corporations get this privilege.

7. WEAKENING DODD-FRANK: Obama reacted strongly to Senator Warren’s charge that a future President could overturn financial regulations or other rules through trade deals. [..]

A future President might find it acceptable, and today’s vote on “fast-track” authority would give trade deals an expedited process, with no amendments or filibusters by Congress, for six years, outlasting the current Administration. Scott Walker or Jeb Bush may decide it’s perfectly appropriate to undermine regulations in trade deals.

8. STOPPING CHINA: President Obama frequently casts TPP as a way to “contain” China. [..]

This is so facile as to be totally meaningless. China is a major Pacific Rim economy, and will have a presence regardless of our actions. As former Clinton Defense Department official Chas Freeman writes, “China has been and will remain an inseparable part of China’s success story.” [..]

9. SECRET DEAL: Obama has angrily dismissed the notion that TPP is a “secret” deal, saying that everyone will have public access to the TPP text for at least 60 days before a final vote. This is not the point opponents are making. The vote on fast track would severely limit Congressional input into the deal. And right now, members of Congress can only see the text in a secure room, without being able to bring staffers or take notes, or even talk about specifics in public. That makes the deal effectively secret during the fast track vote. [..]

10. JUST A POLITICIAN: This idea from Obama that everybody opposing fast-track is acting like a mere “politician,” aside from demonizing the concept of representing constituents, neglects the fact that he’s a politician too. [..]

Since Obama has a large platform and will not publicly debate any opponent on trade, he can float above it all, acting like a principled soul only wanting to better the country rather than a transactional ward heeler. This may be the biggest lie, that Obama’s somehow superior to everyone else in this debate.


May 13 2015

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

Marcy Wheeler: Sterling Verdict Another Measure of Declining Government Credibility on Secrets

Yesterday, Judge Leonie Brinkema sentenced Jeffrey Sterling to 42 months in prison for leaking information about a dubious CIA plot to deal nuclear blueprints to Iran to New York Times journalist James Risen.

Given how circumstantial the case against Sterling was – consisting largely of metadata – not to mention the hand slap David Petraeus got weeks ago for leaking far more sensitive information and then lying about it to the FBI, that’s a tough sentence.

But given the government’s call, in sentencing memoranda, that Sterling spend up to 24 years in prison, it was, as Government Accountability Project lawyer Jesselyn Raddack said, the least worst outcome.

The sentence should also be seen as a rebuke to the government and its frenzied claims about secrecy, most notably the claim they made in this case that leaking information to a journalist is worse than leaking it directly to our adversaries. [..]

The government’s insistence that whistleblowing and accountability equate to spying is coming under increasing scrutiny, even mockery.

Katrina vanden Heuvel: The Emerging Populist Agenda

The most surprising development in our political debate isn’t the gaggle of Republican presidential contenders or the ceaseless attacks on Hillary Clinton. What is stunning is the emergence of a populist reform agenda that is driving the debate inside and outside the Democratic Party.

A range of groups and leaders are putting forward a reform agenda of increasing coherence. Today, the Roosevelt Institute will present a report by Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz, while New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is to release a “Progressive Agenda to Combat Income Inequality.” These follow the Populism 2015 Platform, released in April by an alliance of grass-roots groups and the Campaign for America’s Future. Also in April, the Center for Community Change (CCC) joined with several grass-roots allies to launch Putting Families First: Good Jobs for All.

Senator Bernie Sanders (Vermont), now contending for the Democratic presidential nomination, released his Economic Agenda for America last December. And while Hillary Clinton has chosen a slow rollout of her agenda, the Center for American Progress published the report of the Commission on Inclusive Prosperity headed by former treasury secretary Larry Summers, widely seen as a marker of where Hillary might move.

Maria McFarland Sanchez-Moreno : Hold the US accountable on human rights

The United States has its second universal periodic review (UPR) before the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva on Monday. Countries will be able to ask the U.S. questions and make recommendations about its implementation of human rights commitments made during its first review, which took place in 2010, as well as about other issues of concern.

At the top of the list should be Washington’s failure to hold accountable those responsible for the systematic torture carried out by the Central Intelligence Agency in the global “war on terrorism.” Five years ago, the U.S. accepted a UPR recommendation from Denmark to “take measures to eradicate” and “thoroughly investigate” all forms of torture and abuse by military or civilian personnel within its jurisdiction. But the only investigation into CIA torture conducted by the U.S. Department of Justice was limited in scope and closed in 2012 with no charges filed. Nor does it seem to have met basic standards of credibility or thoroughness; investigators apparently never bothered to interview key witnesses of the abuse: the detainees.

Zoë Carpenter: Rand Paul Is Fighting for Your Privacy-Unless You’re a Woman

“The right to be left alone is the most cherished of rights,” Kentucky senator and presidential aspirant Rand Paul said over the weekend in San Francisco. He was there to sell himself to the young tech elite as a civil-liberties crusader; the only candidate willing to take an uncompromising stand against government surveillance. He cares so deeply about privacy that he’s planning to filibuster the renewal of parts of the Patriot Act.

But the leader of “the leave-me-the-hell-alone coalition” is simultaneously, albeit more quietly, arguing that women should have little privacy in their healthcare decisions. “The government does have some role in our lives,” Paul said at a summit organized by the anti-choice Susan B Anthony List in April, by which he meant making abortion illegal. Paul describes himself as “100 percent pro-life.” Along with all of the other Republican presidential candidates he supports a bill that resurfaced this week in the House that would ban abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

Recently Paul has become something of a champion for anti-abortion groups that are trying to reframe the abortion debate so that pro-choice views seem extreme. Pressed by reporters last month to clarify whether his support for abortion bans includes exceptions, Paul deflected the question by calling up the specter of late-term abortions. “Why don’t we ask the DNC: Is it OK to kill a seven-pound baby in the uterus?” he said to a New Hampshire journalist. No matter that only 1 percent of abortions in the United States occur after 21 weeks of pregnancy; claiming Democrats endorse the “killing” of babies is an easy way not to account for his selective support for personal liberty.

Kate Aronoff: Movement Builders Should Listen to Bernie Sanders – Focus on Mass Action, not Candidates

Is Bernie Sanders a more progressive presidential candidate than Hillary Clinton? Undoubtedly. Will he single-handedly catalyze a united left front in the United States? Probably not.

Unchallenged, Hillary Clinton is likely to run a campaign chock-full of populist optics, but thin on any real engagement with the issues that make progressives most nervous about her bid: foreign policy, welfare, corporate influence and more. Sanders, a registered independent, who caucuses with Democrats yet identifies as a democratic socialist, has been unafraid to talk about class inequality, even – heaven forbid – capitalism. He’s even started bringing a long-taboo word back into mainstream American political conversation: socialism.

As Ned Resnikoff points out for Al Jazeera, Americans’ stance toward socialism has been thawing since the Cold War. Between Occupy Wall Street, Kshama Sewant’s election to Seattle City Council, and – now – Sanders’ candidacy, it may finally be possible to de-link the “S Word” from the gulags and authoritarianism of the Soviet Union, and re-associate with such basic amenities as healthcare, education and housing. According to a 2011 Gallup poll, 49 percent of 18-29 year olds even have a positive view of socialism. With any hope, this year’s Democratic primary debates will challenge Clinton to choose firm sides on these issues, and maybe even build them into her platform in response to the vocal minority more endeared to Sanders’ populism than Clinton’s smug establishmentarianism.

May 13 2015

The Breakfast Club (Hump Day)

Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we’re not too hungover  we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:30am (ET) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.

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This Day in History

Pope John Paul II shot; English colonists arrive at what becomes Jamestown; Winston Churchill gives his first speech as British prime minister; The U.S. declares war on Mexico; Singer Stevie Wonder born.

Breakfast Tunes

Something to Think about over Coffee Prozac

The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is.

Winston Churchill

May 13 2015

On This Day In History May 13

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.

Click on images to enlarge

May 13 is the 133rd day of the year (134th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 232 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1846, the United States declared war on Mexico in a dispute over Texas. The U.S. Congress overwhelmingly votes in favor of President James K. Polk‘s request.

The Mexican-American War (or Mexican War) was an armed conflict between the United States and Mexico from 1846 to 1848 in the wake of the 1845 U.S. annexation of Texas, which Mexico considered part of its territory despite the 1836 Texas Revolution.

Origins of the war

The Mexican government had long warned the United States that annexation would mean war. Because the Mexican congress had refused to recognize Texan independence, Mexico saw Texas as a rebellious territory that would be retaken. Britain and France, which recognized the independence of Texas, repeatedly tried to dissuade Mexico from declaring war. When Texas joined the U.S. as a state in 1845, the Mexican government broke diplomatic relations with the U.S.

The Texan claim to the Rio Grande boundary had been omitted from the annexation resolution to help secure passage after the annexation treaty failed in the Senate. President Polk claimed the Rio Grande boundary, and this provoked a dispute with Mexico. In June 1845, Polk sent General Zachary Taylor to Texas, and by October 3,500 Americans were on the Nueces River, prepared to defend Texas from a Mexican invasion. Polk wanted to protect the border and also coveted the continent clear to the Pacific Ocean. Polk had instructed the Pacific naval squadron to seize the California ports if Mexico declared war while staying on good terms with the inhabitants. At the same time he wrote to Thomas Larkin, the American consul in Monterey, disclaiming American ambitions but offering to support independence from Mexico or voluntary accession to the U.S., and warning that a British or French takeover would be opposed.

To end another war-scare (Fifty-Four Forty or Fight) with Britain over Oregon Country, Polk signed the Oregon Treaty dividing the territory, angering northern Democrats who felt he was prioritizing Southern expansion over Northern expansion.

In the winter of 1845-46, the federally commissioned explorer John C. Fremont and a group of armed men appeared in California. After telling the Mexican governor and Larkin he was merely buying supplies on the way to Oregon, he instead entered the populated area of California and visited Santa Cruz and the Salinas Valley, explaining he had been looking for a seaside home for his mother. The Mexican authorities became alarmed and ordered him to leave. Fremont responded by building a fort on Gavilan Peak and raising the American flag. Larkin sent word that his actions were counterproductive. Fremont left California in March but returned to California and assisted the Bear Flag Revolt in Sonoma, where many American immigrants stated that they were playing “the Texas game” and declared California’s independence from Mexico.

On November 10, 1845, Polk sent John Slidell, a secret representative, to Mexico City with an offer of $25 million ($632,500,000 today) for the Rio Grande border in Texas and Mexico’s provinces of Alta California and Santa Fe de Nuevo Mexico. U.S. expansionists wanted California to thwart British ambitions in the area and to gain a port on the Pacific Ocean. Polk authorized Slidell to forgive the $3 million ($76 million today) owed to U.S. citizens for damages caused by the Mexican War of Independence and pay another $25 to $30 million ($633 million to $759 million today) in exchange for the two territories.

Mexico was not inclined nor able to negotiate. In 1846 alone, the presidency changed hands four times, the war ministry six times, and the finance ministry sixteen times. However, Mexican public opinion and all political factions agreed that selling the territories to the United States would tarnish the national honor. Mexicans who opposed direct conflict with the United States, including President José Joaquin de Herrera, were viewed as traitors. Military opponents of de Herrera, supported by populist newspapers, considered Slidell’s presence in Mexico City an insult. When de Herrera considered receiving Slidell to settle the problem of Texas annexation peacefully, he was accused of treason and deposed. After a more nationalistic government under General Mariano Paredes y Arrillaga came to power, it publicly reaffirmed Mexico’s claim to Texas; Slidell, convinced that Mexico should be “chastised”, returned to the U.S.

May 13 2015

The Daily/Nightly Show (Not The News)

You stop being racist and I’ll stop talking about it.



Tonightly- Special Guest: Morgan Freeman.  Panelists Dan Savage, Alexandra Wentworth, and Kerry Poppins; topics: updates on George Zimmerman and the panel discusses a sex study, whatever that means.


Jordan Klepper

This week’s guests-

I wonder what Tom Brokaw will be on to speak about since he’s already made it quite clear that Brian Williams is off limits.

Probably about A Lucky Life Interrupted, his new book

The real news below.