November 3, 2012 archive

Nov 03

Out, vile jelly!

I find it hard to express my contempt for the Sunday morning gas bags and that’s saying a lot because I have an on-line thesaurus and know how to use it.

One of the things I’m trying to do with our sites, DocuDharma and The Stars Hollow Gazette, is find some alternative programming for our readers so that they’re not tempted to gouge out their eyes like Gloucester (Act III, Scene 7).

This piece comes to us courtesy of The Real News and their YouTube Channel and features Bill Black, Associate Professor of Economics and Law at the University of Missouri Kansas City

Part 1

Part 2

The Great Betrayal – and the Cynicism of calling it a Grand Bargain

William K. Black, The Real News

Tuesday, 30 October 2012 14:10

Wall Street’s greatest desire is privatizing Social Security. Wall Street stands to make scores of billions of dollars annually in additional fees should it ever buy enough politicians to privatize Social Security. The Republican Party’s greatest goal is unraveling the safety net. They always wish to attack the most successful and popular programs introduced by the Democratic Party. Their problem is that they know it is toxic for Republican candidates to try to destroy the safety net. Only Democrats, through a “Great Betrayal” can give Republicans the political cover they need to unravel the safety net.



Because unraveling the safety net is unnecessary, harmful, and politically insane for a Democrat and politically suicidal for Republicans, the proponents of these terrible policies have long failed in their efforts. Republicans, however, have now found a fifth column within the Democratic Party who they hope will open the door to attacking the safety net. This would provide the political cover that Republicans could use to unravel fully the safety net.

The Republican Party’s approach to convincing Obama to commit the Great Betrayal cleverly exploits three human weaknesses. First, Obama wants to be considered a “centrist.” Second, Obama yearns to be considered “bipartisan.” These first two weaknesses are forms of vanity. The siren song is “do this and you will become known as the President who acted as a statesman to cut across Party and ideological divides and make the hard choices essential to allowing America to continue to be a great nation – while ‘saving’ the safety net.”

The third weakness that the Republicans seek to exploit is fear – and the death of alternatives. The mantra of European austerity proponents is “there is no alternative.” The only choice is between austerity and collapse, and that means there is no real choice. The Republican strategy is to create a series of “moral panics.” As the name implies, this involves the creation of a special form of panic falsely premised on immorality. (Think: “Reefer Madness” or Professor Hill causing River City, Iowans to believe that the arrival of pool hall demonstrated the imminent moral collapse of their children.) The Great Betrayal can only occur if Obama succumbs to mindless (and innumerate) panic.

The Democratic wing of the Democratic Party has to lead the effort to save America from the Great Betrayal. It is essential to focus on the self-destructive nature of austerity.



(T)he Rubin-wing of the Democratic Party that has been seeking to create the moral panic, but even he admits that “austerity now” “will slow the economy, cut jobs, and increase deficits.” The Great Betrayal of the safety net will begin if Obama is able to deliver the “grand bargain” imposing austerity that would “slow the economy, cut jobs, and increase deficits” and unravel the safety nets – the four horsemen of the economic apocalypse.

Obama is telling the media that the Great Betrayal is his first, and overarching, priority should he be re-elected. We are forewarned and we must act now to make clear that we will block the Great Betrayal and crush at the polls any member of Congress who supports it.

Do not concede the phrase “grand bargain” to the proponents of the betrayal. We should heed Camus’ warning that it is essential to call a plague by its real name if one is to resist it – and it is essential to resist the pestilence. “[W]hen you see the suffering and pain that it brings, you have to be mad, blind or a coward to resign yourself to the plague.” We must refuse to resign ourselves to being betrayed by Democratic leaders. Our actions must make it clear that we are not mad, blind, or cowards. We refuse to fall for their faux moral panics. It is our leaders who are all too often mad, blind, and cowards.

Liberals fear grand bargain betrayal if President Obama wins

By CARRIE BUDOFF BROWN, Politico

11/2/12 4:26 AM EDT

He wants a large-scale deficit deal. But it would inevitably mean making concessions to Republicans that infuriate the Democratic base that spent the past two years and tens of millions of dollars trying to return him to the White House. Progressives worry about which Obama will show up after Election Day: the pragmatist who offered benefit cuts to House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) in the 2011 debt ceiling talks or the partisan chastened by a failed deal to slice into prized Democratic programs.

“The base is not going to be happy with ham and egg justice” that requires disproportionate sacrifice from all but the wealthy, said Van Jones, Obama’s former green jobs czar and founder of Rebuild the Dream, a progressive advocacy group. “It is a fiscal showdown. We’re not going to blink. There is no reason in the world why the pillars of middle-class security, the earned benefits that our parents fought for, should be on the chopping block.”



Obama, if he wins, will assert that voters had a choice – and his vision on taxes, entitlements and the deficit prevailed.

“If I’ve won, then I believe that’s a mandate for doing it in a balanced way,” Obama said this week in an interview on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “We’ve already made a trillion dollars worth of cuts. We can do some more cuts. We can look at how we deal with the health care costs in particular under Medicare and Medicaid in a serious way. But we are also going to need some revenue.”



Obama signaled last week that he could revive the offer he made to Boehner, which was a mix of new revenues, reduced federal spending and entitlement benefit cuts such as raising the Medicare eligibility age and lowering the cost-of-living increases for Social Security recipients



Administration officials say the range of options that Obama has considered in the past are well known, so it shouldn’t be a surprise if they are resurrected.

But progressive leaders don’t want Obama to go back there. Privately, they use words like “debacle” and “betrayal” to describe the backlash that would ensue. They are far more measured in their public statements ahead of the election.

The unions and advocacy groups have invested time and money in the battleground states pushing the message that Obama is better than Republican Mitt Romney on creating jobs, protecting the middle class and preserving Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.

And if Obama wins, they say they plan to remind him who is responsible for delivering him a second term – and it won’t be a coalition of Republicans, deficit hawks or even independents, but rather a Democratic base that expects him to stand firm on key priorities.



“MoveOn’s 7 million members have made clear that ending the Bush tax cuts for folks earning over $250,000 and preventing any benefit cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are top priorities – that’s a key reason why MoveOn members are working so hard to reelect President Obama and elect progressive champions to Congress,” said Ilya Sheyman, campaign director for MoveOn.org Political Action. “After Election Day, our members will expect Congress and the president to focus on passing a real jobs program, instead of making job-killing cuts, even if it requires working into January or beyond.”

The AFL-CIO and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees will keep their organizers in the field well after Tuesday to pressure lawmakers as their attention turns from electoral politics to deficit deal making.

The network will hold what they’re calling a national day of action Nov. 8 and follow up later in the month with lobbying events. They’ll also release results of an election night survey by Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg on why voters went to the polls.

“It is safe to say many groups are very concerned that a grand bargain will be foisted on the Congress that goes against what Democratic candidates promised on the campaign trail,” said Roger Hickey, co-director of the Campaign for America’s Future. “And it is clear the president is considering making the grand bargain that he offered to Boehner previously.”

Yup, Van Jones and MoveOn getting all outraged and stuff November 8th AFTER he no longer needs a single vote again, ever.

That will hold his feet to the fire.

(h/t Naked Capitalism)

Nov 03

Health and Fitness News

Welcome to the Health and Fitness News, a weekly diary which is cross-posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette. It is 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.

Whole-Grain Pancakes: Not Just for Breakfast Anymore

Poppy Lemon Sunflower Seed Pancakes

I’ve got a pantry full of different grains and flours, a variety of nuts and seeds in my freezer, and a lot of ideas about how these hearty ingredients can contribute to a pancake. So this week I shook things up in the kitchen, and so far, so good.

I also wanted to come up with some savory pancakes and developed a couple of recipes that quickly became favorites in our home. I was thinking along the lines of traditional Chinese and Korean onion pancakes, but I wanted to make something lighter and at the same time more wholesome. When I’m researching whole grains, both for baking and for cooking, I often turn to Heidi Swanson (www.101cookbooks.com) for ideas, and I found a lot of inspiration in her pancake recipes.

~Martha Rose Shulman~

Poppy, Lemon and Sunflower Seed Pancakes

I decided to stir some lemon zest into the batter. I dotted some of the pancakes with raspberries and left others plain.

Brown Rice, Sesame, Spinach and Scallion Pancakes

Try them heated with a little grated cheese on top, or serve with yogurt.

Maple Pecan Pancakes

Instead of using only wheat flour in these pancakes, I’ve combined whole-wheat flour and almond flour.

Teff and Oatmeal Pancakes

Teff is a tiny, nutrient-dense grain native to Ethiopia. Its calcium content is higher than that of any other grain, and it’s an excellent source of vitamin C.

Savory Cottage Cheese Pancakes With Indian Spices, Cauliflower and Carrots

We eat these Indian-spiced pancakes for dinner, along with a green salad.

Nov 03

Cartnoon

In 100 words where do you think Van Gogh rates in the history of art?

I finally invent something that works!

Nov 03

On This Day In History November 3

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

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.

November 3 is the 307th day of the year (308th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 58 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1964, residents of the District of Columbia cast their ballots in a presidential election for the first time. The passage of the 23rd Amendment in 1961 gave citizens of the nation’s capital the right to vote for a commander in chief and vice president. They went on to help Democrat Lyndon Johnson defeat Republican Barry Goldwater in 1964, the next presidential election.

Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, the District, or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States, founded on July 16, 1790. Article One of the United States Constitution provides for a federal district, distinct from the states, to serve as the permanent national capital. The City of Washington was originally a separate municipality within the federal territory until an act of Congress in 1871 established a single, unified municipal government for the whole District. It is for this reason that the city, while legally named the District of Columbia, is known as Washington, D.C. Named in honor of George Washington, the city shares its name with the U.S. state of Washington located on the country’s Pacific coast.

On July 16, 1790, the Residence Act provided for a new permanent capital to be located on the Potomac River, the exact area to be selected by President Washington. As permitted by the U.S. Constitution, the initial shape of the federal district was a square, measuring 10 miles (16 km) on each side, totaling 100 square miles (260 km2). During 1791-92, Andrew Ellicott and several assistants, including Benjamin Banneker, surveyed the border of the District with both Maryland and Virginia, placing boundary stones at every mile point. Many of the stones are still standing. A new “federal city” was then constructed on the north bank of the Potomac, to the east of the established settlement at Georgetown. On September 9, 1791, the federal city was named in honor of George Washington, and the district was named the Territory of Columbia, Columbia being a poetic name for the United States in use at that time. Congress held its first session in Washington on November 17, 1800.

The Organic Act of 1801 officially organized the District of Columbia and placed the entire federal territory, including the cities of Washington, Georgetown, and Alexandria, under the exclusive control of Congress. Further, the unincorporated territory within the District was organized into two counties: the County of Washington to the east of the Potomac and the County of Alexandria to the west. Following this Act, citizens located in the District were no longer considered residents of Maryland or Virginia, thus ending their representation in Congress.

The Twenty-third Amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified in 1961, granting the District three votes in the Electoral College for the election of President and Vice President, but still no voting representation in Congress.

Nov 03

Late Night Karaoke

Nov 03

America’s prison problem

Why does the US put so many people behind bars and what lies behind California’s new push for leniency?

The US locks up more people than any other country in the world, spending over $80bn each year to keep some two million prisoners behind bars. Over the past three decades, tough sentencing laws have contributed to a doubling of the country’s prison population, with laws commonly known as ‘three strikes and you’re out’ mandating life sentences for a wide range of crimes.

But a clear sign that Americans are rethinking crime and punishment is a voter’s initiative on California’s November ballot called Proposition 36 that seeks to reform the state’s three-strikes law. Some 27 states have three-strikes laws patterned after California’s version, which was one of the first to be enacted in the country.

Since it was passed in 1994, nearly 9,000 felons have been convicted in California under the law.

One of them is Norman Williams, a 49-year-old African-American man who was a crack addict living on the streets. He was convicted of burglarising an empty home and later stealing an armload of tools from an art studio. His third strike: filching a jack from a tow truck in Long Beach. His fate sealed under California’s three-strikes law, Williams was sent to a maximum security prison alongside murderers, rapists and other violent criminals.

“I never wanted to do my whole life in prison. Nobody wants to be caged like that,” Williams says.