June 5, 2011 archive

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Another Third Way Democrat Victory!

Given the choice between Republicans and Republicans Lite, Republicans will win every time.

Portugal’s Social Democrats Defeat Socrates, Hand Coelho Coalition Chance

By Joao Lima, Bloomberg News

Jun 5, 2011 3:14 PM ET

The Social Democrats won between 37 percent and 42 percent of the vote, showed the poll by state-run RTP television. The Socialists, who ruled with a minority since 2009, won between 26 percent and 30 percent of the vote. The People’s Party took between 11 percent and 14 percent of the vote.

RTP’s forecasts gave Coehlo’s Social Democrats between 104 and 114 seats and the People’s Party between 22 and 28 seats. The ruling Socialist Party won between 67 and 77 seats in parliament, according to the projection, down from 97.

All three major parties have committed to austerity measures that aim to cut the deficit to the European Union ceiling of 3 percent of gross domestic product by 2013 from a forecast 5.9 percent this year.

The economy is set to shrink this year and unemployment rose to 12.4 percent in the first quarter.

Another such victory and I come back to Epirus alone.

Sunday Train: A Brawny Recovery or Consumption-Led Growth?

… reprinted from about two years ago ~ June 2009 …

Burning the Midnight Oil for a Brawny Recovery

On Agent Orange, bonddad writes:

Among the most important of the rules Rosie laid down, in my opinion, is #12: Get the US consumer right and everything else will take care of itself.  The reason is fairly simple:  The U.S. consumer has the biggest balance sheet on the planet.  The U.S. consumer represents 70 percent of our GDP and about 18 percent of global GDP.

This is, however, following the entrenched habits of thought that got us into this mess in the first place. My reply, below the fold.

Veal Pen Progressives

Crossposted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

(h/t to Xanthe who scooped me, also TMC, Corrente, and FDL)

I am not a “progressive” or a “liberal”.  I’m a leftist, more specifically an anarcho-syndicalist.  I mention this so you’ll understand that “who are the real Communists here” fights primarily amuse me and I’m highlighting this one as recent and illustrative as well.

Most of you will recognize Yves Smith as the author of Naked Capitalism.  Over the last couple of days there has been a lot of discussion which started out with this post-

Bribes Work: How Peterson, the Enemy of Social Security, Bought the Roosevelt Name

Friday, June 3, 2011

Bribes work. AT&T gave money to GLAAD, and now the gay rights organization is supporting the AT&T-T-Mobile merger. La Raza is mouthing the talking points of the Mortgage Bankers Association on down payments. The NAACP is fighting on debit card rules. The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities and the Economic Policy Institute supported the extension of the Bush tax cuts back in December. While it seems counter-intuitive that a left-leaning organization would support illiberal extensions of corporate power, in fact, that is the role of the DC pet liberal. This dynamic of rent-a-reputation is greased with corporate cash and/or political access. As the entitlement fight comes to a head, it’s worth looking under the hood of the DC think tank scene to see how the Obama administration and the GOP are working to lock down their cuts to social programs.

And so it is that the arch-enemy of Social Security, Pete Peterson, rented out the good name of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the reputation of the Center for American Progress, and EPI. All three groups submitted budget proposals to close the deficit and had their teams share the stage with Republican con artist du jour Paul Ryan. The goal of Peterson’s conference was to legitimize the fiscal crisis narrative, and to make sure that “all sides” were represented.

Well, there’s been quite a reaction.  As Yves puts it-

I’m surprised that my post, “Bribes Work: How Peterson, the Enemy of Social Security, Bought the Roosevelt Name” has created a bit of a firestorm within what passes for the left wing political blogosphere. It has elicited responses from Andy Rich of the Roosevelt Institute, Roosevelt Institute fellow Mike Konczal, as well as two groups only mentioned in passing in the piece, the Economic Policy Institute and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

Her longer response-

On Fauxgressive Rationalizations of Selling Out to Powerful, Moneyed Backers

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Left wing operatives seem unable to grasp what outsiders see clearly: that what advances their resume is often inconsistent with what is in the best interest of the causes they say they believe in. Some face this tradeoff more on an institutional rather than individual level. The EPI and CFPB were both created to counter the right supply side phantasmagoria with fact based analysis. They’ve been truer to the left wing principles than the Hamilton Project infested Center for American Progress. But they depend on Democratic party infrastructure for much of their fundraising. As a consequence, they are often asked to take dives, such as the stance we highlighted in our post, that of supporting an extension of the Bush tax cuts last fall. The payoff was not explicit as in the Roosevelt case, but maintaining good relationships with money sources is as important as grant funding.

Let’s look at the Mike Konczal post as an illustration. It’s an odd mix of misdirection, rationalization, and coded ad hominem.  His opening sentence depicts me as “unhappy”, thus tagging me as being emotional rather than having a reasoned critique.  It also characterizes the critic as someone who doesn’t see the system as legitimate, and thus cannot be trusted as a credible system-supportive messenger.

But that’s precisely the point – my priority is not sustaining a corrupt order, while that is exactly what he is doing.  I feel no allegiance to the powerful officials and interests who made decisions, and I believe they owe the public an accounting for the deeply destabilizing and immoral two-tiered system of justice they have foisted on all of us.  He is keen to marginalize those who demand answers from our self-appointed guardians of discourse. For instance, his peculiar emphasis on word count is to suggest that people like me are tiresome and irrelevant.

His post is not even an argument, it’s a tribal signal to the insider class that, though he may have liberal sympathies, he can be trusted at crunch time.

It is in fact an argument against moral courage.

(T)he reality is that the Roosevelt participation was utterly irrelevant save for its PR value to Peterson. It’s simply an ornament that allows Peterson to claim millennial support for his toxic game plan. No one cares what the student paper says; the only reason I bothered dealing with it substantively was to show I had indeed read it and point out how it failed to build on or even acknowledge prior (better) Roosevelt work.


Sylvester and Tweety MysteriesBull Running on Empty, Episode 7, Part 2

Do you remember these three women?

Colleen Rowley, Sherron Watkins and Cynthia Cooper?  They were named Persons of the Year by Time and on their cover in I think 2002 – that was when whistleblowers (Enron) were honored by the press.  

An interesting argument going on in left blogosphere now tweaked that memory.  Yves Smith – of Naked Capitalism, wrote a call-out article on her blog on how Peter Peterson has usurped FDR’s name by “bribing” the people at Roosevelt Institute to take part in one of Peterson’s open hunts on SS/Medicare.  Ms. Smith is an economist, so has all of the requisite bells and whistles.  Of course, it met with pushback from some of the other supposedly liberal think tanks she mentions in her original article.  This am Yves hits back with a terrific essay at FDL – I am on my way out but hope some of you will read Yves original essay and this follow up.

And the reason I thought of these three women is because Yves mentions Elizabeth Warren and gives her great credit for sticking it out in the face of the consistent belittlement and marginalization by the admin (one might even say boredom by all those adults in the WH).  You know the only ones in the room – the rest of us being unruly children.

This one may have legs.    

Water Water

Crossposted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

The cooling pump failure at Reactor 5 (yes, Reactor 5, a new one) seems to have been corrected by the installation of an additional pump.  The failure raised temperatures from 68 to 93.6 degrees in the reactor and 41 to 46 degrees in the fuel pool.  I suspect that these numbers are Celsius, not Fahrenheit, which puts the boiling point of water at 100, not 212.  The explosion heard at about the same time came from rubble clearing equipment damaging a gas cylinder according to TEPCO.

And we all believe them, don’t we?

On the credibility front, Prime Minister Naoto Kan barely survived a no-confidence vote by making a pledge to resign “once certain progress” has been made.

Former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, who brokered the deal, said that Kan had agreed to go by the end of June, while Kan said at a press conference late Thursday that the work required him to stay at least through the end of the year.

Hatoyama shot back Friday morning, saying that Kan was a “con artist” if he tried to stay on.

“Right before the no-confidence vote, he says he will resign, and then once it’s voted down, he says he won’t. The prime minister should not be behaving like a con artist…If he is such a person, I should have supported the no-confidence vote,” Hatoyama told reporters Friday morning.

But there are more important things happening, like the imminent exhaustion of ALL the storage for the now highly radioactive water they’ve been pumping to prevent another out of control reaction.

Fukushima Radioactive Water May Breach Plant’s Storage Trenches in 5 Days

By Tsuyoshi Inajima, Bloomberg News

Jun 2, 2011 6:32 AM ET

Tepco has pumped millions of liters of cooling water into the three reactors that melted down. By May 18, almost 100,000 tons of radioactive water had leaked into the basements of reactor and turbine buildings, connecting tunnels and service trenches at the plant, according to Tepco’s estimates.

Water levels are between 27.7 centimeters (11 inches) below the top of a shaft leading to a trench connected to the No. 2 building and 23.9 centimeters below the ground at the No. 3 unit today, Junichi Matsumoto, a general manager at Tepco, said.

The levels were 64.1 centimeters for the No. 2 building and 45.6 for No. 3 on May 27, showing a rate of increase that will reach the lip of the trenches as early as June 6.

The rate of increase in water level quickened because of three days of rain from typhoon Songda that weakened as it swept past Japan earlier this week. Namie, a town near the Fukushima Dai-Ichi station, had 112 millimeters of rain on May 30, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency.

The Associated Press is currently reporting that TEPCO is planning on removing 1,500 tons of water immediately, but you don’t have to be a math genius to compare 100,000 to 1,500 and reach the sure and certain conclusion that this represents 1.5%, literally a drop in the bucket.

Even this more optimistic piece from AFP says that only 2 or 3 of a planned 370 temporary storage tanks are expected to reach the site in the next few days with the rest taking as long as mid August to get there.  And when they do the capacity will be a mere 40,000 tons which some quick and non-controversial arithmetic tells me leaves 60% still sloshing around.

They still keep pumping more too.

59% of Japanese are worried they have been exposed to radiation from the Fukushima disaster and at least 2 workers have exceeded their lifetime limits with an additional 40 being tested.

Six In The Morning

Forests fight back all over the world

Woodland density is going up after decades of decline, but concerns about deforestation remain. Andrew Marszal reports on the Great Reversal

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Forest density is increasing across much of the world after decades of decline, according to a new study by scientists from the United States and Europe. The change, which is being dubbed the Great Reversal by the authors, has important, has positive implications for carbon capture and climate change.

The research, carried out by teams from the University of Helsinki and New York’s Rockefeller University, shows that forests are thickening in 45 of 68 countries, which together account for 72 per cent of global forests.

Sunday’s Headlines:

South Africa fears new wave of violence against foreigners

Portugal election: Vote amid bail-out austerity

Ecuador threatens to tap Amazon oil fields

Malawi’s ‘witches’ challenge colonial-era sorcery law

U.S. effort to boost anti-terrorism technology criticized

Late Night Karaoke

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Seriously, you know the man will be the death of you.