06/20/2015 archive

Die TPP, Die!

Ok, so I’m not warm and cuddly like TMC when she rails against winter.  In fact I’m not warm and cuddly at all and I have this personal space zone that can vary from a foot to miles and miles (she’s not all that warm and cuddly either which is why we get along).

Anyway what bugs me are zombies.  Ideas you kill and kill and kill and still they will not die, like all the issues on the conservative social agenda.  It’s even worse when your former friends and comrades turn on you and you understand how shallow your relationship is with them really is and how much they exploit you.


I can understand why they want them because unless you understand that you need to have some sincerity with the people you represent they will come to resent your constant lies and turn against you which ought to be the end of your miserable and dispised existence.

Me, I prefer the 32 ounce bat of ash both because it’s traditional and easy to swing, but the rules specify only the length of 42 inches and the barrel which must be no more than 2 and 3/4 inches in diameter.  Of course, a 5 iron also works.

Labor amps up pressure on key senators ahead of trade vote

By Lauren French, Politico

6/19/15 7:11 PM EDT

Officials with the Coalition to Stop Fast Track, comprised of unions and other progressive groups that oppose the trade legislation, said labor leaders plan to call senators over the weekend, as well as hold events and make phone calls to intensify opposition as the debate moves to the Senate.

It’s also expected to be the main topic of conversation when union activists huddle at AFL-CIO headquarters Monday morning for a strategy session.

“This (House) vote won’t stop us,” Communications Workers of America President Chris Shelton said. “CWA members, union members and activists from nearly every progressive group are fighting back against this sell-out by some members of Congress. We expect our representatives to listen to their constituents, and we’re taking that message to the Senate.”

Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell addresses the monthly meeting of the Rotary Club, Tuesday, May 26, 2015, in Elizabethtown Ky. During his speech, Sen. McConnell said he would call the Senate into session Sunday to seek action on the extension of the USA Patriot Act set to expire at midnight May 31. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) conceived an elaborate plan to resurrect the trade legislation after House Democrats thwarted it a week ago. It appears to have a decent chance of success. But there are still real hurdles, and the trade debate has already encountered many unexpected twists, giving opponents hope.

The core GOP strategy was to delink so-called Trade Promotion Authority – which would give President Barack Obama power to complete the Pacific Rim trade deal without having it be amended by Congress – from a companion measure called Trade Adjustment Assistance to help workers who lose their jobs to free trade. The decision to separate them was a direct response to the move by House Democrats to vote down the aid program last week, in order to tank the entire trade agenda.

The House passed TPA narrowly on Thursday, and a key vote on it is expected Tuesday in the Senate. But some pro-trade Democrats are wary of the separation strategy, seeking a guarantee from the Republican leaders that they will subsequently pass TAA. Boehner and McConnell have said they will, but several Democrats aren’t satisfied yet.

Obama and pro-trade Senate Democrats, led by Senate Finance Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), need to convince 5 to 6 Democrats to back the deal.

That’s already a hard sell, and labor is aiming to make an even tougher one.

Over the past several months, unions have threatened to support primary opponents and withhold campaign money from lawmakers who back the trade legislation. Now labor is turning its attention to the Senate.

Time to hit this with a shovel and drop a piano on it.

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”.

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Ta-Nehesi Coates: Take Down the Confederate Flag-Now

Last night, Dylann Roof walked into a Charleston church, sat for an hour, and then killed nine people. Roof’s crime cannot be divorced from the ideology of white supremacy which long animated his state nor from its potent symbol-the Confederate flag. Visitors to Charleston have long been treated to South Carolina’s attempt to clean its history and depict its secession as something other than a war to guarantee the enslavement of the majority of its residents. This notion is belied by any serious interrogation of the Civil War and the primary documents of its instigators. Yet the Confederate battle flag-the flag of Dylann Roof-still flies on the Capitol grounds in Columbia.

The Confederate flag’s defenders often claim it represents “heritage not hate.” I agree-the heritage of White Supremacy was not so much birthed by hate as by the impulse toward plunder. Dylann Roof plundered nine different bodies last night, plundered nine different families of an original member, plundered nine different communities of a singular member. An entire people are poorer for his action. The flag that Roof embraced, which many South Carolinians embrace, does not stand in opposition to this act-it endorses it. That the Confederate flag is the symbol of of white supremacists is evidenced by the very words of those who birthed it:

   Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its corner-stone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth…

This moral truth-“that the negro is not equal to the white man”-is exactly what animated Dylann Roof. More than any individual actor, in recent history, Roof honored his flag in exactly the manner it always demanded-with human sacrifice.

Glenn Greenwald: Refusal to Call Charleston Shootings “Terrorism” Again Shows It’s a Meaningless Propaganda Term

In February 2010, a man named Joseph Stack deliberately flew his small airplane into the side of a building that housed a regional IRS office in Austin, Texas, just as 200 agency employees were starting their workday. Along with himself, Stack killed an IRS manager and injured 13 others. [..]

The attack had all of the elements of iconic terrorism, a model for how it’s most commonly understood: down to flying a plane into the side of a building. But Stack was white and non-Muslim. As a result, not only was the word “terrorism” not applied to Stack, but it was explicitly declared inapplicable by media outlets and government officials alike. [..]

By very stark contrast, consider the October 2014, shooting in Ottawa by a single individual, Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, at the Canadian Parliament building. As soon as it was known that the shooter was a convert to Islam, the incident was instantly and universally declared to be “terrorism.” Less than 24 hours afterward, Prime Minister Stephen Harper declared it a terror attack and even demanded new “counter-terrorism” powers in its name (which he has now obtained). To bolster the label, the government claimed Zehaf-Bibeau was on his way to Syria to fight with jihadists, and the media trumpeted this “fact.”By very stark contrast, consider the October 2014, shooting in Ottawa by a single individual, Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, at the Canadian Parliament building. As soon as it was known that the shooter was a convert to Islam, the incident was instantly and universally declared to be “terrorism.” Less than 24 hours afterward, Prime Minister Stephen Harper declared it a terror attack and even demanded new “counter-terrorism” powers in its name (which he has now obtained). To bolster the label, the government claimed Zehaf-Bibeau was on his way to Syria to fight with jihadists, and the media trumpeted this “fact.”

Eugene Robinson: The Charleston Shooting: Holding Obama and the Presidential Candidates Accountable

Maybe it was white rage that provoked a young man to kill nine innocent worshipers as they prayed. Maybe it was mental illness or some other twisted motivation. The one thing about which there can be no debate is that he had a gun.

The gun is what ties the unspeakable atrocity in Charleston, S.C., to the long and apparently never-ending list of mass shootings in this country. We know them by their place names-Newtown, Aurora, Tucson, Virginia Tech, Columbine, Navy Yard. They rivet the nation’s attention for days or weeks-then they fade, and we do nothing. Perhaps this time will be different. I want to be hopeful, but I’m not optimistic. [..]

What we can do, if we have the will, is make it harder for those who want to kill innocents to obtain firearms. After 20 young children were massacred at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., Congress took up two modest pieces of legislation: a ban on military-style assault weapons, which no hunter needs; and a requirement for universal background checks before buying guns. Both had overwhelming public support. Neither became law.

Can this time be different? Only if we hold Congress, Obama and the presidential candidates of both parties accountable. Only if we remember Mother Emanuel.

Isaiah Poole: Not Colorblind, Just Plain Blind, To The Roots Of Racist Terror

It was not a matter of if, but from where, some disgusting and barbaric reaction would come to Wednesday night’s terror attack at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C. in which nine people died. Not surprisingly, Fox News was among the first out of the gate.

The “No More Mister Nice Blog” captured a segment Fox and Friends aired this morning in which the shooting was branded as an “attack on faith.”

“It didn’t matter that, by the time of the broadcast, the police chief of Charleston had already declared the shooting a hate crime, or that a reporter had interviewed a survivor who said that the shooter had told victims, ‘You rape our women and are taking over our country and you have to go,'” the blog author wrote. “The prime directive on Fox & Friends was not to report the truth – it was to establish a counternarrative that shifts blame away from Fox’s ideological allies and toward Fox’s ideological enemies.”

If some of the other writing of the right – and there was actually remarkably little from the right-wing media that I saw as of mid-afternoon Thursday – was less hell-bent on driving a narrative counter to the plain facts of the case that a white supremacist went into a historically African-American church known for its civil rights advocacy and for that reason killed nine people, it was certainly notable that the coverage steered clear from any notion of a connection between the incident and America’s continuing legacy of racism and violence.

Andrew J. Bacevich: Washington in Wonderland: Down the Iraqi Rabbit Hole (Again)

There is a peculiar form of insanity in which a veneer of rationality distracts attention from the madness lurking just beneath the surface. When Alice dove down her rabbit hole to enter a place where smirking cats offered directions, ill-mannered caterpillars dispensed advice, and Mock Turtles constituted the principal ingredient in Mock Turtle soup, she experienced something of the sort.

Yet, as the old adage goes, truth can be even stranger than fiction. For a real-life illustration of this phenomenon, one need look no further than Washington and its approach to national security policy. Viewed up close, it all seems to hang together. Peer out of the rabbit hole and the sheer lunacy quickly becomes apparent.

Consider this recent headline: “U.S. to Ship 2,000 Anti-Tank Missiles To Iraq To Help Fight ISIS.” The accompanying article describes a Pentagon initiative to reinforce Iraq’s battered army with a rush order of AT-4s. A souped-up version of the old bazooka, the AT-4 is designed to punch holes through armored vehicles.

Taken on its own terms, the decision makes considerable sense. Iraqi forces need something to counter a ]fearsome new tactic http://www.theguardian.com/wor… of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS): suicide bombers mounted in heavily armored wheeled vehicles. Improved antitank capabilities certainly could help Iraqi troops take out such bombers before they reach their intended targets. The logic is airtight. The sooner these weapons get into the hands of Iraqi personnel, the better for them-and so the better for us.

As it turns out, however, the vehicle of choice for ISIS suicide bombers these days is the up-armored Humvee. In June 2014, when the Iraqi Army abandoned the country’s second largest city, Mosul, ISIS acquired 2,300 made-in-the-U.S.A. Humvees. Since then, it’s captured even more of them.

The Breakfast Club (Wellesley)

breakfast beers photo breakfastbeers.jpgWithout too much in preliminaries, the British Coalition’s position at Waterloo was very strong.  The rolling farmland provided plenty of opportunities for protection from direct fire in the line of sight, which is what the French had, while Coalition indirect fire (Howitzers and Mortars) was relatively unimpeded despite the fact they had fewer Artillery pieces overall.

The Coalition was in fortified defensive positions awaiting relief from the Prussians who despite their defeat at Ligny the previous day were well enough organized to field a force about half the size of the entire French army by the late evening.

For his part Napoleon had been able to interpose his army between the divided forces as he had often in the past and planned to use his interior lines of communication to defeat his enemies piecemeal.  It almost worked.

Napoleon did beat Blucher handily but was unable to inflict the level of disorganization necessary to cause his retreat.  Still, he turned his army to face Wellington and the Coalition.  The forces were evenly matched which is a disadvantage for the attacker that can only be overcome by producing uncertainty and command paralysis in the defender and exploiting the weak points that develop.

Unfortunately for Napoleon, Wellington was a General not much given to introspection and he himself was not at the top of his game.  Suffering from dehydration and cramps he had to retire from the field during a critical point in the battle and turn over direction of his army to Marshal Ney, his cavalry commander and a person of dubious loyalty and appallingly bad judgement.

Ney promptly mistook a normal rotation to reorganize damaged units as a general retreat and sent his calvalry charging in where they were predictably (and not to the credit of the same genius mentality in World Wars 1 & 2) slaughtered.

After recovering a bit personally Napoleon was left without many reserves except his Imperial Guard who had never suffered defeat in battle though that was mostly due to the fact they’d seldom been committed before the outcome was decided.  After their assault was beaten back like Pickett’s Charge and Blucher’s units came up in relief the fight was over and the fate of Europe decided.

Kind of.  I won’t dwell today on how the playing fields of Eaton led to the Poppies of Flanders and the death camps of Auschwitz and Birkenau because I want to talk about music.

Never get involved in a land war in Asia

You fool!  You fell victim to one of the classic blunders!  Inconceivable!

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This famous, and public domain, infograph illustrates what happened to Napoleon in Russia in 1812 where he took the most powerful army in the history of the world to that point and basically pissed it away.  Not that capturing Moscow would have mattered much to the Romanovs who ruled from St. Petersburg anyway.  You may ask why the U.S. Army has 9 support troops for every Infantryman.  This is why.  Amateurs study tactics, professionals study logistics.

The Russians counted it a great victory though it was entirely inevitable, and it is a touchstone of patriotism (for Russians).  The most iconic (we get to irony later) expression of it in the West is The Year 1812.

It only took 6 weeks to write which is kind of unsurprising given that it’s an aggregation of national anthems and folk tunes that perfectly encapsulates the Romantic Nationalist vision.  Among oddities it is in fact scored for carillons and cannons which gives modern orchestrators some problems reproducing, it’s ironic given the current social climate in Russia that it was written by one of the most clearly homosexual composers, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, who personally conducted it at the dedication of Carnegie Hall.

It’s hard to imagine that history is so recent and accessible, that the things you read about in dry dusty old books happened to real people.

My Grandfather knew War of Southern Rebellion veterans who served in the Michigan Brigade (Custer was an idiot).  Tchaikovsky knew people who had served in the First Great Patriotic War (not that they called it that).  I have watched conductors who studied under Tchaikovsky, lots of them.

Many things we think of as contemporary have roots in the past, but in comparison to deep time, the 4.5 Billion year history of the Earth or the 14 Billion year history of the Universe, they are bare blips.  How far have we evolved?

Obligatories, News and Blogs below.

On This Day In History June 20

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.

June 20 is the 171st day of the year (172nd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 194 days remaining until the end of the year.

On leap years, this day usually marks the summer solstice in the northern hemisphere and the winter solstice in the southern hemisphere.

On this day in 1789, Third Estate makes Tennis Court Oath.

In Versailles, France, the deputies of the Third Estate, which represent commoners and the lower clergy, meet on the Jeu de Paume, an indoor tennis court, in defiance of King Louis XVI’s order to disperse. In these modest surroundings, they took a historic oath not to disband until a new French constitution had been adopted.

Louis XVI, who ascended the French throne in 1774, proved unsuited to deal with the severe financial problems he had inherited from his grandfather, King Louis XV. In 1789, in a desperate attempt to address France’s economic crisis, Louis XVI assembled the Estates-General, a national assembly that represented the three “estates” of the French people–the nobles, the clergy, and the commons. The Estates-General had not been assembled since 1614, and its deputies drew up long lists of grievances and called for sweeping political and social reforms.

The Tennis Court Oath (French: serment du jeu de paume) was a pivotal event during the first days of the French Revolution. The Oath was a pledge signed by 576 of the 577 members from the Third Estate who were locked out of a meeting of the Estates-General on 20 June 1789 so they made a makeshift conference room inside a tennis court.

In 17 June 1789 this group, led by Honoré Gabriel Riqueti, began to call themselves the National Assembly. On the morning of 20 June, the deputies were shocked to discover that the chamber door was locked and guarded by soldiers. Immediately fearing the worst and anxious that a royal attack by King Louis XVI was imminent, the deputies congregated in a nearby indoor real tennis court where they took a solemn collective oath “not to separate, and to reassemble wherever circumstances require, until the constitution of the kingdom is established” It later transpired that the most probable reason why the hall was closed was that the royal household was still in mourning the death of the Dauphin (the king’s oldest son) two weeks earlier; ordinarily, political matters could not be conducted until the King had emerged from mourning. The oath is therefore a contentious point in French political history, since pro-monarchists then and now characterize it as a duplicitous and hysterical over-reaction which deliberately made capital out of a private tragedy in the royal family. Other historians have argued that given political tensions in France at that time, the deputies’ fears, even if wrong, were reasonable and that the importance of the oath goes above and beyond its context.

The deputies pledged to continue to meet until a constitution had been written, despite the royal prohibition. The oath was both a revolutionary act, and an assertion that political authority derived from the people and their representatives rather than from the monarch himself. Their solidarity forced Louis XVI to order the clergy and the nobility to join with the Third Estate in the National Assembly.

The only deputy recorded as not taking the oath was Joseph Martin-Dauch from Castelnaudary. He can be seen on the right of David’s sketch, seated with his arms crossed and his head bowed.

Health and Fitness News

Welcome to the Stars Hollow Gazette‘s Health and Fitness News 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.

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Easy Peasy

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Andrew Scrivani for The New York Times

An abundance of fresh English peas can turn any dish into a bright springtime meal, writes Martha Rose Shulman, who offers a light summer shrimp and pea dish made with green garlic. We’ve added some of our favorite recipes from Martha that include peas.

Garlic Shrimp With Peas

Seek out shrimp in the shell and use the shells for a quick, easy seafood broth.

A Meal in a Bowl: Salmon, Shiitakes and Peas

Frittata With Brown Rice, Peas and Pea Shoots

I often add leftover rice to gratins, something I learned to do in Provence.

Baked Orzo With Artichokes and Peas

This is a Greek-inspired pastitsio, a comforting béchamel-enriched mix of orzo, artichokes and peas.