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February 11, 2015 06:43 AM UTC

Wednesday Open Thread

  • by: Colorado Pols

"Every reform movement has a lunatic fringe."

–Theodore Roosevelt


28 thoughts on “Wednesday Open Thread

  1. NY Times is reporting that Missouri State Rep Mike Moon is sponsoring a resolution calling on the state's Congressional delegation to support repealing Obamacare with "manly firmness."  Needless to say, Claire McCaskill is having fun with this one.

    I don't who is writing their talking points but this one is a classic. Let's try to use "manly firmness" in a sentence as only a Republican might. For example:  The widestance conservative sat in the airport rest room stall with his manly firmness on display.

  2. Obama, Pelosi and Biden insist on passing NAFTA on STEROIDS (aka the TPP trade bill). GP at Digby's place:

    I've also discussed TPP and its congressional prospects with Rep. Alan Grayson in a recent one-hour interview. He's as concerned as the rest of us.

    There is absolutely no question that TPP is a corporate (meaning, billionaire) wet dream, a profit maker and a U.S. job killer in one sweet package.

    (Yes, killing U.S. jobs is a goal, not a by-product. No billionaire CEO worth his luxury jet wants to pay one dime for an overpaid U.S. worker when slaves in China are next to free. Let them eat joblessness until they change their pay demands.)

    TPP is also the next step in the neutering of democratic government by the global wealthy, who see the creation of even more wealth as the only goal of life on earth and the only real use for government. (Click for a short explainer on the sovereignty-killing feature of these agreements.) 

    In addition, I've written about Obama's recent on-the-one-hand, on-the-other-hand "progressivism." He gives what appears to be protection to the Arctic Wildlife Preserve fromcarbon extraction (addressing climate in a small but visible way) and takes back by opening large areas of the eastern seacoast for further drilling (and spilling). He gives what appears to be an open Internet (finally) and takes back in failing to prosecute Darren Wilson for his alleged crimes, orRupert Murdoch and NewsCorp for theirs. 

    But there's no on-the-one-hand, on-the-other-hand about TPP. It's a bad deal all round, for the U.S. and for the world. It's a billionaire parting gift from his last two years on office — only they will benefit from it — and a hard slap at his legacy and America, with zero to offset it. 

    I'm almost sure all the "Good Democrats" – as they're known around here – are for  this nasty version of NAFTA on STEROIDS. That includes Bennet, Perlmutter, and Polis. They'll pretend they didn't know any of this if it passes. And they'll beg your forgiveness if you lose your job. But they'll have done everything they could to make sure it passes.

    1. At least this makes all the rightie demonizing of Obama and Pelosi as ultra extremist, radical socialist lefties look even more completely ridiculous. As for Biden, as an old fashioned irrelevant VP his position doesn't matter and naturally he'll back the prez. He's no Cheney and Obama is no Bush 2, after all. Perlmutter is a centrist from a centrist district. HRC will be more of the same. No surprises here.  

    2. Balderdash.  Ever since the "Kennedy round" of tariff reduction talks, U.S. presidents of both parties have supported freer trade.  The results have been, on balance, beneficial to all parties.  Protectionism belongs on the ash bin of history along with the Smoot Hawley tariff and everything said by the Pauls, Ron and Rand, about the federal reserve system.  We do need to ensure that environmental protection is part of the main treaty, not an easily ignored side letter.  But let's not kid outselves that the special interests fighting to thwart freer trade are any different than the Koch Bros. in putting their narrow interests ahead of the public good.   

      1. You might have to translate "balderdash" for those not born in past 80 or so years. wink but I think you oversimplify here. There are many legitimate concerns with this trade deal just as there are many reasons to see NAFTA as problematic in its details or lack thereof. It isn't as simple as freetrade/protectionism. The devil is in the details.  Putting things in yur favored black and white makes for pithy comments but is rarely useful.

        1. BC, for a good read on the impact of NAFTA, try this:

          Among the findings:

          U.S. employment increased over the period of 1993-2007 from 110.8 million people to 137.6 million people.[9] Specifically within NAFTA's first five years of existence, 709,988 jobs (140,000 annually), were created domestically.[10] The mid to late nineties was a period of strong economic growth in the United States. Classicalmacroeconomic theory suggests that when a country is experiencing economic growth (i.e. GDP is increasing), then there will also be an increase in the participation of the labor force.[11] Thus, because trade liberalization can sometimes contribute to increases in GDP, it can help to bring the rate of unemployment down in a country. The U.S. experienced a 48% increase in real GDP from 1993-2005. The unemployment rate over this period was an average of only 5.1%, compared to 7.1% from 1982-1993, before NAFTA was implemented

          The bottomline is that everyone's boat was substantially raised by the economic synergy of free (or more accurately, less protectionist) trade.  Many people in Canada and Mexico were displaced along with US workers.

          But if you read the quote above, you might realize that just as smart companies know, if you don't kill your own products with better ones, your competition will gladly do it for you.

          What is missing from NAFTA and TPP is any guarantees that the corporate savings and profits won't be parked in tax havens overseas rather than reinvested in our nation's future through better wages, job training and research and development.


          1. The macro and micro economics don't always align. In fact the middle class has stagnated since the 70s, including through the NAFTA years. Life isn't better for the average American. Buying power hasn't increased. In fact wages have stagnated while costs have gone up. It's just as true that, between 1993 and 2007  the middle class lost ground in buying power, ability to pay for health care and education, our infrastructure has deteriorated and the boats have been lifted are mainly of  the yacht variety

            Unemployment rates going down doesn't necessarily translate to well paying jobs going up. In our case, flat graph after flat graph for the past  30 years and more demonstrate that. Increased wealth has been increasingly concentrated in the top 1% but most spectacularly in the top .01% and .001%.  There may be many sound arguments for unfettered free trade but the boat raising thing has demonstrably not been one of them for the majority of Americans. We can argue about why that's so but it definitely is so.

            1. I agree the middle class economically has stagnated in the the last 45 years.  My point is that the pie is much bigger than it was then, and certainly in part due to NAFTA and other efforts to expand trade.  As V'ger alluded, protectionism, such as the Smoot Hawley Tariff, shrink the pie.  The rich tend to more or less float above in any case, and the 99% get screwed either way.

              That's why I say these agreements need to be accompanied with intelligent taxation and investment policies to insure the benefits don't just wind up in the offshore accounts of a few billionaires.

              1. But they aren't so good luck with that. Making the pie bigger doesn't do ordinary people any good if they don't share in any of the increase. It doesn't increase the wealth of the majority which means it doesn't increase the wealth of society, only of a tiny minority who haven't let any of their larger and larger pieces "trickle down" in decades.

                Our infrastructure is crumbling. Funding for the common good is slashed because, despite this supposedly increased pie, we have less and less available for education and all manner of services, including to  the veterans of our perpetual wars.

                That's not my idea of a wealthier society. We had better roads and bridges, more affordable education and healthcare, more middle class prosperity and upward mobility when I was a child then we do now and I'm no spring chicken. What we have now is a tiny elite with an already historically outsized share of the pie and that share is growing faster by the minute. The direction has to be changed. What is there in TPP that's going to accomplish that?

      2. Balderdash indeed, Voyageur, but you have it reversed. TPP–at least what little we know about what is really in the document they are working on–actually increases protectionsim for copyrights and patents. In other words, it protects big media and big pharma, increasing costs to consumers rather than reducing trade barriers. Additionally, it takes resolution of disputes out of our hands and places it into that hands of international groups dominated by corporate interests and revmoves such things as environmental protections from consideration. It allows corporations to sue for damages if any laws or rules "reduce" their profits. How the hell is any of that a win for consumers anywhere–here in the US or the rest of the world?

        Tariffs are already low on most consumer goods (because of the previous agreements), which is why many American jobs have already been outsourced to lower cost conunties. Reducing them further won't likely change much because they are already so low, but why increase costs for consumers for the benefit of media and pharma through the increased (not decreased) protectionism they get?

        Of course, none of us here have actually seen the proposal because the public did not have a seat at the table–just the multinational corporations, Wall Street and politicians.

        And any talk of "free trade" is automatically bullshit. There is no such thing. All economic systems have rules. All trade is done according to rules–it is not "free." Who writes the rules matters. The rules get written by those with power, and TPP is being written by a small elite who are protecting their interests, not ours.

        Dean Baker writes about this a lot at The Center for Economic and Policy Research. You should aquaint yourself with another view.

  3. There are liars, damn liars and statisticians.  Mark Twain

    Liars figure and figures lie.  Me

    NAFTA has been and remains the biggest destroyer of good paying, manufacturing jobs.  The United States has lost millions of manufacturing jobs to off shore companies who pay their workers $35 a week.  To suggest that the American working or middle class gained from the adoption of NAFTA is nothing short of a damn lie.

    The idea the NAFTA created a net increase in the number of jobs in this country has been repeated debunked.  Moreover, the jobs that replaced the off shore jobs were low wage, service industry jobs.

    TPP is NAFTA on steroids.  Wait for that "big sucking sound."

  4. The U.S. House has passed, and sent on to a long-expected veto, the keystone bill. The 270 aye votes was 20 less than the 2/3 needed to override the veto.

    Next up, defunding the Dept. of Homeland Security.

  5. These findings should go in your same file cabinet that holds your information on the validity of trickle-down economics, science and climate change denial, the harms of vaccinations, and tax cuts that pay for themselves with increased revenues . . . 

    . . . E-'effing-gads !!!!!!!!!!!!!! . . . 


    Concealed Carry’s Body Count


    "But a methodical gleaning of eight years of news accounts by the Violence Policy Center, a gun safety group, found that in research involving 722 deaths in 544 concealed-carry shootings in 36 states and the District of Columbia, only 16 cases were eventually ruled lawful self-defense — even though this has been a major gun rights selling point for the new laws.

    More gravely, the study found that the fatalities included 17 law enforcement officers shot by people with legal permits along with 705 slain civilians. There were 28 mass shootings (involving three or more victims) in which 136 people were killed — even though concealed carry has also been sold as a defense against massacres like the one in Newtown, Conn.

    In studying the 544 shootings, the center found 177 cases where people with gun licenses were ultimately convicted of crimes, including homicides, and 218 cases where the permit holder used the gun to commit suicide. There were 44 total lives taken by licensed individuals who first murdered others, then committed suicide."

    Question: Who's kidding whom, and why ????????? . . . 

    1. Chilling numbers. To answer your question, I'd guess that we hide these statistics about concealed-carry murders in order to preserve our illusion of safety – we'd like to think that anyone secretly packing heat must be a good guy.

      The gun industry and the RMGO and other lobbyists keep ginning up the fear and paranoia to keep selling more guns, equipment, CC holsters.

      17 police officers shot, `136 people killed in mass murders over 8 years of concealed carry-enabled crime. Where is the outrage from the gun enthusiasts on here? Modster? Negev? Bueller? Anyone?

  6. One of my Muslim students told me about this today, but I haven't seen it on any of the mainstream news outlets:

    Obama asked Congress to authorize war with ISIL

    This link is from Al-Jazeera America.

    So three questions:

    Why is the Arabic speaking press doing a better job covering this than the English speaking press? Could it be because they are the most direct victims of ISIS terror? Certainly, most of my African refugee kids families fled Al-Shabab, Boko Haram, or another incarnation of African Al-Qaeda.

    What would our objectives be in a war with ISIS/ISIL? What would "victory" look like?

    What do YOU think? I have mixed feelings about it. Of course I want ISIS wiped out. At what cost?


    1. MJ — it was covered by the US press.  I saw it earlier today.  It was only proposed today.  Here is an update:

      President Barack Obama said the war authorization proposal he unveiled Wednesday strikes the "necessary balance," giving him the flexibility to fight Islamic State militants without setting the nation up for another open-ended war in the Middle East.

    2. Because the English-speaking press is typified by journalism such as that practiced by the Denver Post. We know more than we want to about Bruce Jenner and his step-daughters, Beyonce, and Brian Williams, but anything important……nah

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