June 20, 2015 archive

Die TPP, Die!

Ok, so I’m not warm and cuddly like TMC when she rails against winter.  In fact I’m not warm and cuddly at all and I have this personal space zone that can vary from a foot to miles and miles (she’s not all that warm and cuddly either which is why we get along).

Anyway what bugs me are zombies.  Ideas you kill and kill and kill and still they will not die, like all the issues on the conservative social agenda.  It’s even worse when your former friends and comrades turn on you and you understand how shallow your relationship is with them really is and how much they exploit you.


I can understand why they want them because unless you understand that you need to have some sincerity with the people you represent they will come to resent your constant lies and turn against you which ought to be the end of your miserable and dispised existence.

Me, I prefer the 32 ounce bat of ash both because it’s traditional and easy to swing, but the rules specify only the length of 42 inches and the barrel which must be no more than 2 and 3/4 inches in diameter.  Of course, a 5 iron also works.

Labor amps up pressure on key senators ahead of trade vote

By Lauren French, Politico

6/19/15 7:11 PM EDT

Officials with the Coalition to Stop Fast Track, comprised of unions and other progressive groups that oppose the trade legislation, said labor leaders plan to call senators over the weekend, as well as hold events and make phone calls to intensify opposition as the debate moves to the Senate.

It’s also expected to be the main topic of conversation when union activists huddle at AFL-CIO headquarters Monday morning for a strategy session.

“This (House) vote won’t stop us,” Communications Workers of America President Chris Shelton said. “CWA members, union members and activists from nearly every progressive group are fighting back against this sell-out by some members of Congress. We expect our representatives to listen to their constituents, and we’re taking that message to the Senate.”

Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell addresses the monthly meeting of the Rotary Club, Tuesday, May 26, 2015, in Elizabethtown Ky. During his speech, Sen. McConnell said he would call the Senate into session Sunday to seek action on the extension of the USA Patriot Act set to expire at midnight May 31. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) conceived an elaborate plan to resurrect the trade legislation after House Democrats thwarted it a week ago. It appears to have a decent chance of success. But there are still real hurdles, and the trade debate has already encountered many unexpected twists, giving opponents hope.

The core GOP strategy was to delink so-called Trade Promotion Authority – which would give President Barack Obama power to complete the Pacific Rim trade deal without having it be amended by Congress – from a companion measure called Trade Adjustment Assistance to help workers who lose their jobs to free trade. The decision to separate them was a direct response to the move by House Democrats to vote down the aid program last week, in order to tank the entire trade agenda.

The House passed TPA narrowly on Thursday, and a key vote on it is expected Tuesday in the Senate. But some pro-trade Democrats are wary of the separation strategy, seeking a guarantee from the Republican leaders that they will subsequently pass TAA. Boehner and McConnell have said they will, but several Democrats aren’t satisfied yet.

Obama and pro-trade Senate Democrats, led by Senate Finance Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), need to convince 5 to 6 Democrats to back the deal.

That’s already a hard sell, and labor is aiming to make an even tougher one.

Over the past several months, unions have threatened to support primary opponents and withhold campaign money from lawmakers who back the trade legislation. Now labor is turning its attention to the Senate.

Time to hit this with a shovel and drop a piano on it.

The Breakfast Club (Wellesley)

breakfast beers photo breakfastbeers.jpgWithout too much in preliminaries, the British Coalition’s position at Waterloo was very strong.  The rolling farmland provided plenty of opportunities for protection from direct fire in the line of sight, which is what the French had, while Coalition indirect fire (Howitzers and Mortars) was relatively unimpeded despite the fact they had fewer Artillery pieces overall.

The Coalition was in fortified defensive positions awaiting relief from the Prussians who despite their defeat at Ligny the previous day were well enough organized to field a force about half the size of the entire French army by the late evening.

For his part Napoleon had been able to interpose his army between the divided forces as he had often in the past and planned to use his interior lines of communication to defeat his enemies piecemeal.  It almost worked.

Napoleon did beat Blucher handily but was unable to inflict the level of disorganization necessary to cause his retreat.  Still, he turned his army to face Wellington and the Coalition.  The forces were evenly matched which is a disadvantage for the attacker that can only be overcome by producing uncertainty and command paralysis in the defender and exploiting the weak points that develop.

Unfortunately for Napoleon, Wellington was a General not much given to introspection and he himself was not at the top of his game.  Suffering from dehydration and cramps he had to retire from the field during a critical point in the battle and turn over direction of his army to Marshal Ney, his cavalry commander and a person of dubious loyalty and appallingly bad judgement.

Ney promptly mistook a normal rotation to reorganize damaged units as a general retreat and sent his calvalry charging in where they were predictably (and not to the credit of the same genius mentality in World Wars 1 & 2) slaughtered.

After recovering a bit personally Napoleon was left without many reserves except his Imperial Guard who had never suffered defeat in battle though that was mostly due to the fact they’d seldom been committed before the outcome was decided.  After their assault was beaten back like Pickett’s Charge and Blucher’s units came up in relief the fight was over and the fate of Europe decided.

Kind of.  I won’t dwell today on how the playing fields of Eaton led to the Poppies of Flanders and the death camps of Auschwitz and Birkenau because I want to talk about music.

Never get involved in a land war in Asia

You fool!  You fell victim to one of the classic blunders!  Inconceivable!

 photo 480px-Minard_zps5wvgznpd.jpg

This famous, and public domain, infograph illustrates what happened to Napoleon in Russia in 1812 where he took the most powerful army in the history of the world to that point and basically pissed it away.  Not that capturing Moscow would have mattered much to the Romanovs who ruled from St. Petersburg anyway.  You may ask why the U.S. Army has 9 support troops for every Infantryman.  This is why.  Amateurs study tactics, professionals study logistics.

The Russians counted it a great victory though it was entirely inevitable, and it is a touchstone of patriotism (for Russians).  The most iconic (we get to irony later) expession of it in the West is The Year 1812.

It only took 6 weeks to write which is kind of unsurprising given that it’s an aggregation of national anthems and folk tunes that perfectly encapsulates the Romantic Nationalist vision.  Among oddities it is in fact scored for carillons and cannons which gives modern orchestrators some problems reproducing.  It’s ironic given the current social climate in Russia that it was written by one of the most clearly homosexual composers, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, who personally conducted it at the dedication of Carnegie Hall.

It’s hard to imagine that history is so recent and accessible, that the things you read about in dry dusty old books happened to real people.

My Grandfather knew War of Southern Rebellion veterans who served in the Michigan Brigade (Custer was an idiot).  Tchaikovsky knew people who had served in the First Great Patriotic War (not that they called it that).  I have watched conductors who studied under Tchaikovsky, lots of them.

Many things we think of as contemporary have roots in the past, but in comparison to deep time, the 4.5 Billion year history of the Earth or the 14 Billion year history of the Universe, they are bare blips.  How far have we evolved?

Obligatories, News and Blogs below.


On This Day In History June 20

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 images to enlarge.

June 20 is the 171st day of the year (172nd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 194 days remaining until the end of the year.

On leap years, this day usually marks the summer solstice in the northern hemisphere and the winter solstice in the southern hemisphere.

On this day in 1789, Third Estate makes Tennis Court Oath.

In Versailles, France, the deputies of the Third Estate, which represent commoners and the lower clergy, meet on the Jeu de Paume, an indoor tennis court, in defiance of King Louis XVI’s order to disperse. In these modest surroundings, they took a historic oath not to disband until a new French constitution had been adopted.

Louis XVI, who ascended the French throne in 1774, proved unsuited to deal with the severe financial problems he had inherited from his grandfather, King Louis XV. In 1789, in a desperate attempt to address France’s economic crisis, Louis XVI assembled the Estates-General, a national assembly that represented the three “estates” of the French people–the nobles, the clergy, and the commons. The Estates-General had not been assembled since 1614, and its deputies drew up long lists of grievances and called for sweeping political and social reforms.

The Tennis Court Oath (French: serment du jeu de paume) was a pivotal event during the first days of the French Revolution. The Oath was a pledge signed by 576 of the 577 members from the Third Estate who were locked out of a meeting of the Estates-General on 20 June 1789 so they made a makeshift conference room inside a tennis court.

In 17 June 1789 this group, led by HonorĂ© Gabriel Riqueti, began to call themselves the National Assembly. On the morning of 20 June, the deputies were shocked to discover that the chamber door was locked and guarded by soldiers. Immediately fearing the worst and anxious that a royal attack by King Louis XVI was imminent, the deputies congregated in a nearby indoor real tennis court where they took a solemn collective oath “not to separate, and to reassemble wherever circumstances require, until the constitution of the kingdom is established” It later transpired that the most probable reason why the hall was closed was that the royal household was still in mourning the death of the Dauphin (the king’s oldest son) two weeks earlier; ordinarily, political matters could not be conducted until the King had emerged from mourning. The oath is therefore a contentious point in French political history, since pro-monarchists then and now characterize it as a duplicitous and hysterical over-reaction which deliberately made capital out of a private tragedy in the royal family. Other historians have argued that given political tensions in France at that time, the deputies’ fears, even if wrong, were reasonable and that the importance of the oath goes above and beyond its context.

The deputies pledged to continue to meet until a constitution had been written, despite the royal prohibition. The oath was both a revolutionary act, and an assertion that political authority derived from the people and their representatives rather than from the monarch himself. Their solidarity forced Louis XVI to order the clergy and the nobility to join with the Third Estate in the National Assembly.

The only deputy recorded as not taking the oath was Joseph Martin-Dauch from Castelnaudary. He can be seen on the right of David’s sketch, seated with his arms crossed and his head bowed.