May 20, 2015 archive
May 20 2015
May 20 2015
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.
This Day in History
Charles Lindbergh begins his trans-Atlantic flight; Amelia Earhart starts her trek across the Atlantic; Freedom Riders attacked in the South; Explorer Christopher Columbus, comedienne Gilda Radner die.
Something to Think about over
Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next.
May 20 2015
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 image to enlarge
May 20 is the 140th day of the year (141st in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 225 days remaining until the end of the year.
On this day on 1896, the six ton chandelier of the Palais Garnier falls on the crowd resulting in the death of one and the injury of many others. The falling of one of the counterweights for the grand chandelier resulted in the death of one person.
This incident, as well as the underground lake, cellars, along with the other elements of the Opera House even the building itself were the inspirations of Gaston Leroux for his classic 1910 Gothic novel, The Phantom of the Opera.
The ceiling area, which surrounds the chandelier, was given a new painting during 1964 by Marc Chagall. This painting was controversial, with many people feeling Chagall’s work clashed with the style of the rest of the theater.
The Palais Garnier, known also as the Opéra de Paris or Opéra Garnier, but more commonly as the Paris Opéra, is a 1,600-seat opera house on the Place de l’Opéra in Paris, France, which was the primary home of the Paris Opera from 1875 until 1989. A grand building designed by Charles Garnier in the Neo-Baroque (or “Baroque Revival”) style (it is also said to be of the related Second Empire style), it is regarded as one of the architectural masterpieces of its time.
Upon its inauguration during 1875, the opera house was named officially the Académie Nationale de Musique – Théâtre de l’Opéra. It retained this title until 1978 when it was re-named the Théâtre National de l’Opéra de Paris. After the opera company chose the Opéra Bastille as their principal theatre upon its completion during 1989, the theatre was re-named as the Palais Garnier, though Académie Nationale de Musique is still sprawled above the columns of its front façade. In spite of the change of names and the Opera company’s relocation to the Opéra Bastille, the Palais Garnier is still known by many people as the Paris Opéra, as have all of the several theatres which have served as the principal venues of the Parisian Opera and Ballet since its initiation.
The Palais Garnier was designed as part of the great reconstruction of Paris during the Second Empire initiated by Emperor Napoleon III, who chose Baron Haussmann to supervise the reconstruction. During 1858 the Emperor authorized Haussmann to clear the required 12,000 square metres (1.2 ha) of land on which to build a second theatre for the world-renowned Parisian Opera and Ballet companies. The project was the subject of architectural design competition during 1861, and was won by the architect Charles Garnier (1825-1898). The foundation stone was laid during 1861, with the start of construction during 1862. Legend is that the Emperor’s wife, the Empress Eugénie, asked Garnier during the construction whether the building would be built in the Greek or Roman style, to which he replied: “It is in the Napoleon III style, Madame!”
May 20 2015
I have written Letterman diaries, probably more than you think.
By 2007 I was a regular participant in The Daily Show / The Colbert Report diary series at Daily Kos. When those shows were on vacation or Tia Rachel needed a break, I would cover the repeats, fill in the gaps, and handle the new shows. I looked on my activity as similar to that of a lighthouse keeper or a convenience store clerk, you don’t expect much business but you keep the door open for the poor souls who really need it. I don’t celebrate holidays much so it was no hardship for me.
Now when David Letterman signed with CBS in 1993 he did two incredibly smart things.
First of all he hired anyone from his old show who wanted to come along.
Second he hired anyone from his old show who wanted to come along.
Let me explain that a little. He started his own production company, World Wide Pants, who contracted to provide a work product, Late Show to CBS. CBS could air it or not, they could extend the contract or not, but employees of World Wide Pants worked for David Letterman.
David signed their pay checks, he decided who was hired or fired, and if any of the ‘suits’ from the network didn’t like how you were doing your job they could take it up with the boss or go pound sand.
So at the end of 2007, after many years of fruitless negotiation, the Writer’s Guild of America went out on strike. Most longer term productions simply shut down to wait it out. Networks ran re-runs. However there is a substantial amount of scripted television, like talk and reality shows that were expected to continue providing fresh content. Reality TV tried to argue that it was not scripted to which the reply was- yeah, and Professional Wrestling isn’t either, so they had to shut down too. Also the initial part of the strike took place over holiday season when many talk shows would be on hiatus anyway.
Some talk show hosts, like Jay Leno, Jon Stewart, and Stephen Colbert used this time to feign solidarity with greater or lesser degrees of sincerity, but there came a time when their corporate masters said- hit the set or the street and we don’t care how sucky the show is. As I recall Jay sucked a lot because he’s the most over rated comic of his generation and is nothing without his writers.
I don’t know how Jon and Stephen fared, I’m not a scab.
The concept of the ‘suits’ was that if you could inflict pain on the writers by demonstrating television would go on and on making money without them forever, they’d give up. The hosts were ordered back to work under their ‘performers’ contracts to inflict that pain and to be fair to Jon and Stephen they did publicly offer to pay what it took to get their writers back. That request was refused because it didn’t bring enough pain.
They didn’t have David Letterman contracts.
Before the strike even began Dave inked a separate deal with the WGA (Is that all you want? Here’s the check.). His show ran seamlessly and when CBS started talking about bringing the pain he looked at them and said- See this contract? You can take me off the air or you can go pound sand.
I was on watch at the beginning of the strike and had quickly switched to Late Show as an alternative inspiration. When it was announced that Jon and Stephen would be crossing the line Tia who’d been sitting it out said- Ok, they’re back. Thank you for your service.
Um… strike’s not over yet. Until the Union writers are in their cubicles I am covering the real deal and not scab shop replacements.
She has probably never forgiven me, I wouldn’t have because now it wasn’t enough just to do it, I did it better.
As is the case now in my exile. Everything I write is crap, but it’s quite practiced and craftsman-like crap and I do it more regularly than almost anyone I can think of. Once in a while I’m tempted to write more or deeper but that would simply raise everyone’s expectations. I’ve been doing this for over 10 years now and while I don’t imagine I’ll have a Letterman like 33 year streak I’m not as tired as I used to be and less tempted by bright and shiny objects.
There will be at least one more piece tomorrow.
May 20 2015
Last week many received an e-mail from Democracy for America claiming the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) would cut Medicare for senior citizens by $700 million:
There’s a big — brand new — attack on Medicare that’s just been added in the Senate to the Fast Track bill for the TPP. The bill would cut a whopping $700 million from Medicare, hurting seniors who need access to health care.
That’s right, Republicans insisted on cutting Medicare spending to pay for a Trade Adjustment Assistance program that Democrats got added to the bill in order to support workers who lost their jobs due to trade deals like the TPP.
A few bloggers were a little confused by this claim and dug a little deeper.
Lambert Strether, at naked capitalism, had a few good questions:
1) Has Trade Adjustment Assistance been added to the TPP Fast Track bill?
2) Has $700 million been cut from Medicare as a result?
3) Does Trade Adjustment Assistance serve any public purpose?
The answer to question #1 is No.
The Trade Adjustment Assistance Act (TAA) and the Trade Promotion Authority (“Fast Track”) are separate pieces of legislation, so when DFA says that TAA has “just been added in the Senate to the Fast Track bill for the TPP,” that’s not correct. Still, that doesn’t mean that a deal wasn’t cut, and that seems to be just what’s happened. [..]
And the bills indeed moved in tandem; the Senate voted for closure of both Fast Track and TAA last Thursday, May 14.
The answer to #2 is Yes. The cut is in the TAA. It was added by Republicans who insisted that the cost of bill be offset:
The Trade Adjustment Assistance Act, sponsored by Rep. David Reichert (R-Wash.), would rely on $700 million in reduced Medicare spending in 2024 to pay for [sic] healthcare coverage and other benefits for workers who lose coverage because of any agreements negotiated under fast-track trade authority sought by President Barack Obama.
The $700 million in savings would be achieved by increasing Medicare cuts that were part of the sequester by 0.25% in 2024.
Lambert points out the more colorful language from the National Journal
Apparently using Medicare as a piggy bank to pay for [sic] everything under the sun has become the new legislative norm for Congress,” Max Richtman, president and CEO of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, said in a statement to National Journal. “Rather than balancing priorities or considering a penny of new revenue, congressional leaders are proposing to once again funnel Medicare resources into unrelated programs and fixes-this time it’s the trade adjustment assistance program.
Brown lists a ton of reasonable seeming tweaks and enhancements. Reading through the list, though, I’ve got to say I’m both ticked off and skeptical:
Ticked off, because how come the millions who got kicked out of the labor force when the powers-that-be decided to downsize it aren’t eligible for the same treatment? For example, it sounds like the Health Care Tax Credit workers screwed over by trade deals get is a better deal (at least in terms of dollars, even though it’s a tax credit) than COBRA, which is what workers screwed over by recessions and depressions get. What a horrible patchwork.
And skeptical, because in today’s post-crash and crapified labor market, is training really the answer? Especially for over-50s?
So I’m not convinced that TPP + TAA nets out positive for workers, or even makes them whole. [..]
Bottom line is that TAA is a bandaid on a cancer, and the Democrats – assuming good faith, which I think with Sherrod Brown it’s fair to do – traded away something for nothing, as so often. If corporations can go to a rigged court and sue for lost profits, how come workers can’t go to a rigged court and sue for lost wages?
Over at Salon, lapsed blogger David Dayen had this to say about the TAA and the Democrats sell out of seniors:
There’s substantial disagreement on whether TAA actually helps workers get new jobs, but Democrats strongly support the program. Even pro-trade Democrats made renewing TAA a condition of passing fast track, and the two bills will move together in the Senate this week. But even though supporters constantly talk up the economic benefits of trade, they nevertheless offset the $2.9 billion in TAA funding by cutting other spending. Supposedly, trade increases jobs and therefore federal revenue, leaving enough money available to pay for TAA. But in Congress’ eyes, some other priority has to pony up that cash nonetheless.
That priority happens to be Medicare. TAA is partially financed through $700 million in Medicare cuts. Sequestration expires in fiscal year 2024, but the TAA bill expands it by piling those cuts onto the back end. Most of the other $2.2 billion gets financed through customs user fees. [..]
The other problem here is that it fundamentally breaks that promise – already, before any vote on the Trans-Pacific Partnership or any other fast-tracked agreement – that no laws will change in this new era of corporate-friendly “free trade.” This continues a troubling trend, identified by Paul Krugman, about not being able to trust the White House’s categorical denials about the consequences of their trade agenda. They said the investor-state dispute settlement process couldn’t weaken regulatory priorities; that’s not true. They said Dodd-Frank would be protected in any trade deals; that’s not true either. To quote Krugman, “The Administration is in effect saying trust us, then repeatedly bobbling questions about the deal in a way that undermines that very trust.” The Medicare cuts represent another drop in that bucket. [..]
Every hit on the credibility of the free trade agenda makes it less likely that the bill will pass the House. Republicans claim they are gaining momentum in picking up votes, but all public whip counts show the tally coming up short. Adding Medicare cuts into the mix makes voting for fast track an even heavier lift for the House Democrats likely needed to get the bill the required votes. Republicans have repeatedly torched Democrats for Medicare cuts in campaign ads. They cannot relish giving another opening for that attack.
These are all bad bills that in the long run will hurt the vast majority of workers. So fight back by arming yourself with the facts then contact your congressional representatives via letters, e-mail and phone calls. Get together with a few people, make an appointment and visit their offices to express your concerns. Delegations get attention. Write letters to the editors of newspapers. And don’t let up, be persistant and polite.
The lies about TPP need to be exposed and this agreement needs to be stopped.