October 14, 2012 archive

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The Rape of the Electorate

Governing without Consent of the Governed

By: masaccio, Firedog Lake

Friday October 12, 2012 11:09 am

The only reason to vote is that from the outset we agreed that consent of the governed is the essence of democracy. It was a long time ago indeed, before the Republicans made the filibuster an instrument of minority rule. The Democrats decided that they could safely be move right, just like the Republicans only less crazy, and began voting for just about anything their rich patrons wanted, from deregulation of the financial system to tax cuts for those who don’t need them to ending welfare as we know it.

Now we have the leader of the Democrats, Barack Obama, running on a platform just like the moderate version of Mitt Romney. For example, Obama says if elected, he’ll only tinker with Social Security, just like the moderate Mitt, instead of slashing it like the Tea Party Mitt. Tea Party Mitt wants to invade Syria and Iran. Moderate Mitt, like Obama, is apparently content to kill people with drones.

Moderate Mitt assumes that the Tea Party fanatics will vote for him even if he isn’t crazy enough for them, because he and his party have spent the last five years ferociously lying about Obama. So he panders to the low information voters and tribal Republicans with his version of Compassionate Conservatism. Maybe he’ll win with that combination. Are they really consenting to be governed by the insane economic policies both versions of Mitt Romney promise? Or are they just afraid of Obama?

Possibly enough low-information voters and moderate Republicans will vote for Obama because they are worried about the Tea Party Mitt, or they think Romney is a liar and an unprincipled selfish prig and that he despises them from the bottom of his plutocratic heart. Maybe that’s enough to get Obama re-elected. What kind of government are those people consenting to? For them, Obama’s the lesser of two evils. Maybe they’ll be happy to see his proposals defeated by divided government suffering from minority rule so that nothing gets done. Maybe they don’t know what else to do. That doesn’t sound like consent.

And what about the tribal democrats who are going to vote for Obama? There is no constituency in the Democratic party to cut Social Security. The vast majority of traditional Democrats realize that Social Security is the basis for their retirement and that of their parents. They want to preserve it for their children. Certainly no liberal is in favor of cutting Social Security or Medicare, and precious few are in favor of killing people with drones or locking up pot smokers or turning police departments into paramilitary operations, but tribal Democrats don’t seem interested in that kind of issue, let alone punishing Wall Street criminals. Obama just needs to top off with some of those low-information voters. He figures he’ll get their votes, and maybe he will.

Obama assumes lefties will vote for him because he isn’t a soulless plutocrat who thinks half of the population is out to get his money. That’s the Democratic Party’s version of the crazies saying that Obama is an Islamo-Communist from Kenya. Obama doesn’t care how close the election is, and he doesn’t care if he has majorities in Congress. He just wants to squeak through. If we vote for him, what are we consenting to? He’ll see it as approval of his program of governing from the center-right.

This isn’t about consent at all. It sucks. It’s hard to work up the energy to curse, let alone to go to the trouble of voting.

Financial Repression: ZIRP and Zero Retirement

  Many people view the Federal Reserve’s role in monetary policy as an unqualified good. If there isn’t enough money in the economy, or if there is too much debt or deflation, then the Fed should print money until both situations are fixed.


 But it isn’t that simple.

Monetary policy is a zero-sum game. It’s much like Isaac Newton’s 3rd law of motion: for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

  Not only do many people fail to understand that, they are also under false impressions of what the reactions are and who they effect.


Variations on a Theme.

Space 1999 might as well be called UFO for America.  With Barbara Bain and Martin Landau.

Episode 1- Breakaway

On This Day In History October 14

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.

October 14 is the 287th day of the year (288th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 78 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1947, U.S. Air Force Captain Chuck Yeager becomes the first person to fly faster than the speed of sound.

Charles Elwood “Chuck” Yeager (born February 13, 1923) is a retired major general in the United States Air Force and noted test pilot. He was the first pilot to travel faster than sound (1947). Originally retiring as a brigadier general, Yeager was promoted to major general on the Air Force’s retired list 20 years later for his military achievements.

His career began in World War II as a private in the United States Army Air Forces. After serving as an aircraft mechanic, in September 1942 he entered enlisted pilot training and upon graduation was promoted to the rank of flight officer (the World War II USAAF equivalent to warrant officer) and became a P-51 Mustang fighter pilot. After the war he became a test pilot of many kinds of aircraft and rocket planes. Yeager was the first man to break the sound barrier on October 14, 1947, flying the experimental Bell X-1 at Mach 1 at an altitude of 13,700 m (45,000 ft). . . .

Yeager remained in the Air Force after the war, becoming a test pilot at Muroc Army Air Field (now Edwards Air Force Base) and eventually being selected to fly the rocket-powered Bell X-1 in a NACA program to research high-speed flight, after Bell Aircraft test pilot “Slick” Goodlin demanded $150,000 to break the sound “barrier.”  Such was the difficulty in this task that the answer to many of the inherent challenges were along the lines of “Yeager better have paid-up insurance.” Yeager broke the sound barrier on October 14, 1947, flying the experimental X-1 at Mach  1 at an altitude of 45,000 feet (13,700 m). Two nights before the scheduled date for the flight, he broke two ribs while riding a horse. He was so afraid of being removed from the mission that he went to a veterinarian in a nearby town for treatment and told only his wife, as well as friend and fellow project pilot Jack Ridley about it.

On the day of the flight, Yeager was in such pain that he could not seal the airplane’s hatch by himself. Ridley rigged up a device, using the end of a broom handle as an extra lever, to allow Yeager to seal the hatch of the airplane. Yeager’s flight recorded Mach 1.07, however, he was quick to point out that the public paid attention to whole numbers and that the next milestone would be exceeding Mach 2. Yeager’s X-1 is on display at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum.

What We Now Know

Saturday morning on Up with Chris Hayes, Up host, Chris Hayes discussed what we have learned this week with panel guests Amy Davidson, senior editor at the New Yorker; Goldie Taylor, contributor to Grio.com and MSNBC; Michael Hastings, contributing editor to Rollingstone; and Michael Moynihan, cultural news editor for Newsweek and the DailyBeast.

Romney: Uninsured? Head to the Emergency Room

Is BofA’s Foreclosure Review Really Independent? You Be the Judge

by Paul Kiel at Pro Publica

Late last year, the country’s bank regulators launched a massive program to evaluate millions of foreclosure cases and compensate homeowners who fell victim to the banks’ flawed or illegal practices. Regulators dubbed it the “Independent Foreclosure Review” to emphasize that the banks would not be making key decisions about loans they had made or serviced.

But a raft of evidence – internal Bank of America memos and emails obtained by ProPublica, interviews with two bank staff members who have worked on the review, and little-noticed documents released late last year by a federal banking regulator – throw the independence of the review into serious doubt. Together, they indicate that Bank of America – the financial giant with the largest number of homeowners eligible for the program – is performing much of the work itself.

Mitt Romney, On 60 Minutes, Cites Emergency Room As Health Care Option For Uninsured

by Amanda Terkel and Sam Stein at Huffington Post

Downplaying the need for the government to ensure that every person has health insurance, Mitt Romney on Sunday suggested that emergency room care suffices as a substitute for the uninsured. [..]

This constitutes a dramatic reversal in position for Romney, who passed a universal health care law in Massachusetts, in part, to eliminate the costs incurred when the uninsured show up in emergency rooms for care. Indeed, in both his book and in high-profile interviews during the campaign, Romney has touted his achievement in stamping out these inefficiencies while arguing that the same thing should be done at the national level.

Report Describes How Armstrong and His Team Eluded Doping Tests

by Ian Austen at The New York Times

An explanation emerged Wednesday, when the United States Anti-Doping Agency released its dossier on Armstrong, citing witness testimony, financial records and laboratory results. Armstrong was centrally involved in a sprawling, sophisticated doping program, the agency said, yet he employed both cunning and farcical methods to beat the sport’s drug-testing system.

The report also introduced new scientific evidence that the agency said suggested Armstrong was doping the last two times he competed in the Tour de France.

Mitt Romney’s Bain Made Millions On Big Tobacco In U.S., Russia

by Jason Cherkis and Zach Carter at Huffington Post

As the Soviet Union splintered in the early-1990s, Sushovan Ghosh packed his colleagues into a van and chugged across the collapsing nation, hitting depressed towns and famished cities, busted up factories and lonely kiosks. In each ragged destination, they stopped long enough to interview cigarette smokers.

Ghosh plied the citizenry with free cigarettes and, sometimes, McDonald’s hamburgers. [..]

Ghosh’s work for cigarette companies was chaotic, unbridled and, ultimately, deadly. To Mitt Romney and his colleagues at Bain & Co., it was a chance to rake in money. Ghosh said he reported directly to Romney, who was excited about the Russian market. “He was my boss,” Ghosh said.