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Reposted from Brown Thrasher by Brown Thrasher

So much for Mitch McConnell's "robust amendment process". After the Senate debating only 2 amendments thus far (& possibly 2 more Wednesday), McConnell has already filed plans to invoke cloture to cut off debate on the Fast Track bill — despite a docket of over 100 proposed amendments from members of both parties.

More below...

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Reposted from Brown Thrasher by Brown Thrasher

Despite Tuesday's cloture-block, the Senate will be voting on Fast Track again on Thursday.

Apparently (according to Roll Call, The Hill, & Politico), several Democrats are caving on their previous insistence on a package-deal of all relevant "sidecar" bills, instead letting all except 1 (the TAA bill) flap in the breeze — most likely to be shot down — before finally putting up TPA again.

Looks like Harry Reid's "Hell no" turned out to be more of a "Kinda-sorta-maybe".

At any rate, don't let up the pressure on Congress. Keep telling your Senators & Representatives what you think of this plan to hijack our democratic process in order to ram through an international con-job.

Among other things, the Internet is counting on you.

EDIT: More on that last point: Here is a link from EFF about how TPP brings back SOPA with a vengeance.

Reposted from Support the Dream Defenders by Brown Thrasher
BFSkinner in 2010
Sigh. Our friend BFSkinner returned to the emergency room on Friday due to intestinal blood loss and extreme weakness. He remains hospitalized at William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Michigan, north of Detroit.

He received three units of blood. His intestinal bleeding has apparently stopped for now. No site of blood loss was visible on a red blood cell nuclear scan. His doctors cannot determine if the tear has healed completely or if the rend is bleeding intermittently with a periodicity of one to two weeks.

Some of his doctors want to give him the blood thinner Coumadin to prevent blood clots being thrown to his heart or brain. He had a clot already which lodged in an artery on the surface of his heart, for which he had a stent placed. Other doctors reject Coumadin because of his risk of hemorrhage. Coumadin has caused him to hemorrhage in the past.

He told me he has to choose between death by bleeding and death by heart attack or stroke. Immediately after delivering this news, he made me laugh by telling me a funny story about an interaction with one of his doctors. We both laughed.

Looks like he will undergo placement of a temporary vena cava filter in the next couple of days. This filter will be removed in about 30 days.

His family is nearby. His sister lives in the next town, and his brother has not yet returned home to China.

I found out about his rehospitalization today. BFSkinner asked me to say his continued illness has kept him from participating at Daily Kos.

Again, he cannot view Daily Kos on his cellphone, but he can make limited comments on FaceBook.

Instead of creating another incredible collection of get-well notes for him, please take a moment as you hover over the Tip Jar to send him gentle but firm and certain healing.

Reposted from Digging up those Facts ... for over 8 years. by Brown Thrasher


You can't read this

by Elizabeth Warren, -- April 22, 2015

Have you seen what’s in the new TPP trade deal?

Most likely, you haven’t – and don’t bother trying to Google it. The government doesn’t want you to read this massive new trade agreement. It’s top secret.

Why? Here’s the real answer people have given me: “We can’t make this deal public because if the American people saw what was in it, they would be opposed to it.”

If the American people would be opposed to a trade agreement if they saw it, then that agreement should not become the law of the United States.

Let’s send a loud message to our trade officials: No vote on a fast-track for trade agreements until the American people can see what’s in this TPP deal. Sign this petition right now to make the TPP agreement public.

The Administration says I’m wrong – that there’s nothing to worry about. They say the deal is nearly done, and they are making a lot of promises about how the deal will affect workers, the environment, and human rights. Promises – but people like you can’t see the actual deal.

Sign it Now.  

We were promised "transparency" -- it's long passed time that we got it.

Corporations can SEE the Agreement -- heck their Lawyers wrote it.

So Why Can't We? ... even get a peek at it.

Reposted from Brown Thrasher by Brown Thrasher

At the end of Rachel Maddow's discussion about President Obama's interview with Chris Matthews, she announced that the House was going to have its vote on Fast Track tomorrow. This is the first I've heard of this (& online sources are several days old & deal only with the Senate committee headline).

In any case, now is the time to tell Congress not to put our country on the fast track to catastrophe. EFF has a Twitter/Facebook/Google+ action page (made especially with Nancy Pelosi & Steny Hoyer's districts in mind), but please call your House Rep. wherever you live & let them know what you think of John Boehner's plan to rush though a shady backroom deal without time to discuss it.

If the President & Congressional Republicans want to sell us a treaty that overhauls our laws & economy, then they ought to have to show us what's in it. Reject Fast Track!

Reposted from Pintlala by poligirl Editor's Note: especially Ohio residents! -- poligirl

Ohio Republicans are trying to strip Ohio public university faculty of union collective bargaining rights, with NO DEBATE, rammed through in a budget bill – all with the usual underhandedness of Scott Walker and the Teabaggers.  

This is genuinely urgent! PLEASE CALL OR EMAIL TONIGHT!

This will be voted on TOMORROW in committee, rammed through without debate, and before the public and most of the state know what's happening. And could mean that faculty union members will be stripped of their union rights within two weeks – because it's being snuck into a budget bill.

They will accomplish this by falsely declaring all faculty to be “management” if they are involved in any decision-making -- for even simple acts of choosing books or curriculum for courses!

FYI, I have been around on DKos for a long time, but work and family obligations have kept me from doing more than lurking for some time now; but this situation has motivated me to write my first diary in years. This is bullshit

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Thu Aug 07, 2014 at 11:56 AM PDT

Just Say No to War

by Horace Boothroyd III

Reposted from Horace Boothroyd III by Brown Thrasher

We don't need it.

We have advanced enough to feed everyone on the planet several times over. So the defending the tree/waterhole impulse can be easily stopped world wide if food and water are made human rights. We have advanced in our mating practices as well so that impulse is already quelled.

The only ones to profit are corporations already fat from extended wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as elsewhere.

Not only do we maim our up and coming generation by sending them to battle (they all are damaged by the experience) and in some cases fatalities occur. We grossly neglect their needs when they return to the US and muster out. And these aren't volunteers in the sense that out of a number of career paths offered and obtainable they chose the military. Instead these are soldiers that have few options to avoid unemployment, and that dangling GI Bill of college cash is also a big lure. Easy pickings in this economy.

But socially we really can make war disappear virtually overnight by only ensuring basic needs are met. If one has enough to eat and feels secure and stable there is little impetus to take something by force. And that is what war is. A big act of armed robbery. It is just the shootout part we usually recall. But land, factories, resources, and populations are being taken by the victor. Sometimes the victor gracefully returns these items but for the most part when a territory is gained the US and other Nations tend to hold onto and exploit their gains.

The right of self determination should be seen as not only an aspect of the human animal but the social one as well. Simply because outside cultures deciding and dictating brings disharmony. And social disharmony is like the ringing of a bell. At first there is just the tink of metal on metal. And then the sound forms in the cone of the bell and amplifies. If you could see those tinks as individuals wronged by an outside culture the resulting exponential growth of the outrage creates enough disharmony to justify taking it back by force. And it starts over again.

We don't have to be violent to solve problems. Violence is a loss of control. And in the case of war, the control lost was of negotiation.

And of wits. Do you really think if we gave two hundred dollar tablets to most of these populations and made wifi available to those that are not violent they would be sitting around some leader bent on convincing the end is neigh if they do not shed blood? Or do you think they would too busy playing Candy Crush or blogging?

And guess what?

My ideas are much much cheaper than any war ever will be.

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Reposted from The Rebel Alliance by Cassiodorus

One of the joys of being a registered Democrat, apparently, is that one receives a number of election mailers from various organizations telling Democratic voters who to vote for in California's upcoming June 3 (this coming Tuesday) election.  

Looking through my parents' mail, I've seen three of these so far: one from the Californians Vote Green organization, one from the Coalition for California, and here's one from the John F. Kennedy Alliance.  All of these mailers recommend big long slates of candidates to vote for, and many voters no doubt rely upon these slates in deciding how to cast votes when going to the polling locations.  There are a lot of votes to cast, and many of these votes are for judges and minor political officials who don't receive a lot of analysis or publicity.  So it seems likely that many voters will want a voter guide when making decisions about who among these lesser-known candidates should merit their votes.

At any rate, one individual who appears to have made his way into each and every one of these "Democratic voter guides" is Marshall Tuck, candidate for Superintendent of Public Instruction.  Here's what Diane Ravitch says about Marshall Tuck (also here), through her brief quote of journalist Gary Cohn:

“The 40-year-old Tuck is a Harvard Business School graduate who has worked as an investment banker for Salomon Brothers and as an executive at Model N, a revenue-management software company. He is a former president of Green Dot Public Schools, a charter school operation in Los Angeles, and later served as the first head of the Partnership for Los Angeles Schools — former Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s controversial education nonprofit that tried to improve 17 low-performing public schools, with mixed results."
In an era in which capital's boundless hunger for more profit runs up against a stagnant economy, Tuck appears to be part of that group that hopes to open up profit opportunities in America's public schools.  The point, then, is to privatize the public schools -- or, rather, to privatize the profits to be made off of their operation, while keeping public the funding spigot which keeps them in business.

I trust Diane Ravitch's opinion in this instance because, since she decided to reject Republican education policies she had formerly supported, she has been tireless in critiquing education "reform" as promoted both by the (second) Bush and the Obama administrations.  Here is Ravitch's critique of the charter school movement as presented through a review of the movie "Waiting for Superman."

Please don't vote for Marshall Tuck.

(also up at FDL)

Book Review: Smith, Peter F. Climate Change and Cultural Heritage: A Race Against Time.  London and New York: Routledge/ Earthscan, 2014.  Print.
(also to be seen at Firedoglake)

The book I'm reviewing today has a lot of science in it, but largely it's a polemic about climate change, and a rather creative polemic at that.  Peter F. Smith, listed here as an emeritus professor of architecture in England, thinks great things of our civilization (and indeed of past civilizations), but is still trying to wrap his head around the matter of why civilization hasn't yet done what is necessary to deal with the problem of impending runaway climate change.  So his book, Climate Change and Cultural Heritage, is part encomium of praise for human civilization, and part discussion of climate change, as a problem necessitating a solution.  (The Amazon page lists this book at rather high prices; maybe you can get your local college library to purchase a copy.  There's a place where you can download this book online, but I've never succeeded in doing so.)  

The fundamental idea behind "Climate Change and Cultural Heritage" is given at the end of the first chapter, as follows:

In today's world 'civilization' is a multi-faceted phenomenon thanks to the success of one species.  However, it is the scale of that success which now threatens the existence of civilization.  There are those who consider that the year 2011 may prove to have been a tipping-point when global warming entered into a runaway mode.  When it comes down to the 'tooth and claw' of survival, one of the casualties would most likely be the thousands of years of accumulated cultural heritage. (14)
So from there it's easy to see Smith's polemic aim in this book.  At the beginning he tells an optimistic history of the universe, planet Earth, biological life, and human civilization using a narrative arc borrowed from Condorcet's "Historical Picture of the Progress of the Human Mind."  There are a couple of chapters in this book on the glories of civilization that draw upon history, upon the beauty of mathematics, and upon Smith's background as an environmentally-conscious architect.  Generally, though, he asks us in about three-quarters of this book if we don't want to see it all crashing down in flames because we can't get human-caused climate change under control.

Of course, the more critically-minded among Smith's reading audience are going to ask why Smith trusts this particular civilization to do anything about climate change, or (more specifically) why Smith says stuff like "Only an international alliance between national governments and transnational corporations to first stabilise and then seriously cut greenhouse gas emissions will do it." (5)  Question: why should we trust transnational corporations to care about greenhouse gas emissions outside of any disingenuous public relations initiatives they may offer?  Civilization may indeed save itself -- but we don't really have a compelling reason to believe that this particular civilization will save itself, so we might get to work trying to create another civilization that would succeed where our current one is about to fail.

There's an emotional appeal in "Climate Change and Cultural Heritage" of course -- if we wish to save all that has been built up over the centuries, we'd better do something serious.  But the "celebration of civilization" narrative with which Smith begins has awkward spots: so for instance, in the narrative of "the evolution of civilization":

Another anxiety can be added to the list that is even more threatening than the hordes of Huns that extinguished the flame of Roman civilisation: the relentless march of global warming and climate change.  Its predicted impacts will depend on how quickly the world manages to halt the accumulation of greenhouse gases, most notably carbon dioxide. (15)
Well OK -- we might alternately argue that just as climate change is evidence of our own civilization doing itself in, we can also say that in large part Roman civilization was responsible for its own self-destruction -- when the time came for unity against the invaders, the Romans insisted on fighting civil wars instead, and in the end Rome was sacked and the empire dismantled because the Romans themselves could not settle things amicably with the Germanic tribes entering their living-space.  

At any rate, Smith wants to identify civilization with "empathy, and the perception of beauty" -- and that "the idea of civilization is the principle of harmony" -- a Nietzschean he isn't.  At any rate, after the brief summary of time and existence so far, Smith abruptly shifts emphasis to a discussion of climate change: "there is no longer any doubt that we are beginning to pay the price for burning half a trillion tonnes of fossil fuels that enabled the developed world to power its way to prosperity," we are told on page 25.  The price, as we are told later in the book, includes the possibility that climate change might become runaway climate change, extinguishing the human species and for the most part life on Earth.

There are of course reasons for optimism about the human condition listed in this book.  "Historically, the rate of technological breakthrough has been exponential rather than linear.  If (the past) exponential rate of technological progress is sustained, this will raise hope that technical solutions will be found for energy supply, demand reduction and CO2 sequestration." (97)

Of course, after a rundown of the various options, Smith douses cold water on all that: "The inescapable reality is that renewable technologies, as they stand, will merely scratch the surface of world energy demand as population increases." (125)  Here we must be careful readers, however, for "population" is typically used as a way of making capitalism seem natural.  "Population" is a way of counting heads.  In reality, half the world lives on less than $2.50/day, and the figure that matters is that of the relative few who can afford high-energy lifestyles.  This group is where most of the "energy footprint" calculation is going to be made, and the total number isn't going to change a lot merely because economic hard times have descended upon the worst-off of us, as Smith reports: "despite the worst economic recession for 80 years, that year (2010) saw the highest carbon output in history." (133)  As for carbon sequestration to deal with excess atmospheric CO2, Smith argues: "so far, nothing competes with the idea of global-scale re-forestation." (134)

There is, of course, a chapter on the merits and drawbacks of nuclear power.  Smith argues that nuclear power plants will have a tougher time staying cooled in conditions of global warming, but that there are advantages to thorium-using breeder reactors (which have been, curiously, so rarely exploited).  There is a chapter on "essential services provided by nature," in which Smith suggests that abrupt climate change will be accompanied by dramatic crop failures and geographically-based water shortages.

 There is an excursus on China, and Smith concludes his book with a discussion of "the four degrees scenario," which he thinks is likely with current trends in carbon combustion.  At numerous points in the analysis Smith points to weasel-worded conclusions, voiced by numerous analysts, to the effect that there will be some sort of massive human dieoff due to global warming related disasters:

Another section of the same issue (17 November 2012) of New Scientist, discussing the health implications of worst-case temperature rise, states: 'It looks like if we fully develop all the world's coal, tar sands, shale and other fossil fuels we run a high risk of ending up in a few generations with a largely unlivable planet.' (170)

The solution, then, as Smith recognizes (and as climate talks increasingly fail to accomplish anything serious), is to keep the grease in the ground.

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Reposted from pdc by Brown Thrasher
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont. left, accompanied by the committee's ranking Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, questions ousted IRS Chief Steve Miller, former IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman, and J. Russell George, Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, on Capitol Hill, in Washington, Tuesday, May 21, 2013, during the committee's hearing on the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) practice of targeting applicants for tax-exempt status based on political leanings.  (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
Sorry to release another diary so soon but this is too important that it can't wait.  Retiring Senator Max Baucus (D. MT) is giving his final middle finger to the American people by fast tracking the Trans-Pacific Partnership deal and Public Citizen needs our help to fight back:
UNITED STATES - APRIL 06:  Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich., right, Chairman of the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT), and Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., Vice Chairman, conduct a discussion of the JTC on the topic of reforming the U.S. Internal Revenue Code in the Capitol Visitor Center.  Also attending were James A. Baker III, former Treasury Secretary, and Dick Gephardt, former House Minority Leader, who were architects of 1986 tax reform plan. (Photo By Tom Williams/Roll Call)
This moment could not be more important.

It is do-or-die time for our years of work against the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

Hours ago, U.S. Representative Dave Camp and U.S. Senator Max Baucus introduced a bill for Congress to grant President Barack Obama Fast Track trade authority.

If Congress approves this bill, it will give away its constitutional authority to protect us from the numerous threats posed by the TPP.

Write now and demand that your representative commit to you in writing to vote “no” on Fast Track.

If the Fast Track bill passes, the TPP could be signed before Congress votes on it. Then the deal could be railroaded through Congress with no amendments and limited debate.

We must not allow Congress to give away its authority to save us from the TPP.

Email your representative today and demand that he or she commits to vote “no” to Fast Track.

The last thing we need is to Fast Track another so-called “free trade” agreement written for the benefit of big corporations and to the detriment of us, our families and our communities.

Fast Track trade authority is how Clinton and Bush passed the WTO, NAFTA, CAFTA and other disastrous “trade” deals.

If Congress grants President Obama Fast Track, then the TPP likely will be added to that list.

Email your member of the House of Representatives today and tell him or her to oppose Fast Track.

There is almost no progressive movement or campaign whose goals are not threatened by the TPP. And vast swaths of public interest policy achieved through decades of struggle would be undermined by the deal if it gets Fast Tracked through Congress.

If we don’t get Congress to say “no” to Fast Track right now, all of the TPP’s threats we’ve been warning about for the past three years could become reality.

The TPP would empower foreign corporations to sue governments in international tribunals if a country implements environmental, public health or other public interests policies that undermine corporations’ “expected future profits.”

It would create new incentives to offshore more American jobs.

The TPP would grant new monopoly privileges to Big Pharma that would raise medicine prices and cut consumers’ access to live-saving medicines.

As revealed by the TPP chapter released by WikiLeaks in November, it would even attack Internet freedom by imposing copyright provisions that put the interests of Hollywood fat cats before our basic right to free speech.

And that’s only a sliver of the damage that could be done by the TPP.

Write now.

There is so much at stake.

But if we act together, we can derail Fast Track and the TPP.


Steve Knievel
Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch

Click here to e-mail your representative:


Bravo all of you Libyan "humanitarian interventionists"!  Heck of a job, all of you.

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It appears that a certain segment of this site, from top to bottom, want to redefine the mission of this site for such a purpose. It's pretty clear that a lot of people here share a genuine hatred for the left. Therefore, I would really like to know if this site's future involves becoming an echo chamber for the Democratic brand and the face behind that brand in the White House or the faces behind Democratic leadership in the broken House and Senate. Is this what most people here want?

If so, why even comment or debate on this site? Why not just sign up for the email list of Obama For America and leave it at that? Better yet, why not just merge this site with Obama for America? If we must all shut up and fall in line during election time, let us know when qualitative ideas are allowed to be discussed again. Don't NR or ban us for uprating and speaking the truth. Just tell us to leave for a certain amount of time until it's OK to stand for something again.

Let us know that any left wing idea or defense of social security against chained CPI will not be acceptable during election season, because the end justifies the demeaning of seniors already struggling from the sequester. OFA did the same thing to shout down their members wanting to push for a public option during the health care reform debate. After all, this really is a problem at a so called open forum for free expression of progressive ideas and policy; the brand has nothing to do with the New Deal platform or why we have the Democratic platform that we do today.

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