Archive for August 8th, 2011

Too Late?

by lizard

I don’t see any chance of a jobs program getting serious play before the great choosing ritual of our gasping republic in 2012. After the debt-ceiling energy sink, the Obama administration has virtually no political ammunition left to counter the double-dip recession the half-measure stimulus kept from being a full blown deflationary contraction from the bubble bloat and derivative hijinks of Wall Street.

Or, to state the accusation more directly, Obama garbled the narrative from the very beginning.

It would be funny if it wasn’t so pathetic, watching this administration and ravenous pundits suddenly start criticizing the S&P. Remember Enron? they exclaim. S&P gave them triple A up until the end.

And who can forget those toxic mortgage-backed credit-default bundle-swap things? They were stamped grade-A delicious until the fraud Eliot Spitzer lost his job trying to sound the alarm on became so immense it almost crashed the entire global economic system.

Nope, instead of accurately framing the financial crisis as a systemic criminal enterprise overseen by co-opted checks and balances, too big to fail didn’t skip a beat between the celebrated switch from R to D.

A possible result of this self-inflicted ineptitude by the Obama administration (eager to create new channels of corporate appeasement) is any pre-election stimulus will probably be the result of O’s finance team going hat in hand to the fiscal derelicts at The Fed, so they can utter some new gold-plated proclamations of quantitative easing.

Maintaining the fiction of too big to fail was one of Obama’s big, glaring mistakes. I seem to remember Obama abandoning the campaign trail, returning to DC to lend his weight to the necessity of massive cash infusions for Wall Street.

And he has served them well ever since.

It’s too bad that—like bubble-economics has ruined our national economic vitality—that persistent strain of exceptionalist bubble-thinking ruins the opportunity of linking our little flare ups of resistance (GO WISCONSIN!) to other sparks flaring up across the globe.

Global austerity and chunks of state assets and public infrastructure auctioned off to sovereign wealth funds?

Maybe we should bag 2012 (presidentially speaking), and start planning for 2016.

This is a guestpost from Kirsten Tynan. Some of you may have caught a previous post Help a Woman Buy Herself a Tracea – Kirsten is the Montana woman seeking to help raise $5K towards purchasing the trachea Rachael Phillips needs. This her story on why she got involved. ~jhygirl

In recent weeks, the story of one Rachel Phillips came to my attention. I do not know her myself, but she is a friend of a dear friend of mine. It is through him that I came upon the details of her situation, and they break my heart.

First, this is her story in short:

Not all that long ago, Rachel was a ballet dancer with the Royal Ballet of London. She has also danced with the Kirov in Russia, the Nashville Ballet, and Ballet West in Salt Lake City. Today, though, she can barely breathe without the help of a machine. Her near constant companion is a Labradoodle named Siena who is specially trained to detect, by scent, a decline in her O2 levels and warn her when they fall below acceptable limits.

Her airways are failing from severe tracheobronchomalasia (TBM), a condition that causes trachea and bronchial airways to collapse. The underlying condition that brought about this problem in her case was Elhers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS) – a genetic, connective tissue disorder that affects the collagen in the body.

Dr. Paolo Macchiarini is the only doctor in the world who has successfully grown a trachea and bronchial branch from a person’s stem cells and transplanted it back into the patient. He has taken on Rachel’s case, and has a team of specialists working with him. They plan to take some of Rachel’s stem cells, attempt to fix defective DNA in them, grow for her a new trachea and whatnot on synthetic scaffolding, and then transplant it to replace her collapsing airways. He has done something like 10 similar transplants prior to Rachel’s, but Rachel’s will be only the second using a biosynthetic scaffolding and, I think, the first in which his team attempts to correct the genetic defect causing the collapse in the first place. Literally dozens of procedures short of this transplant have failed to restore her to functionality, and she is not expected to live another year without this life-saving procedure. Continue Reading »

by jhwygirl

Exxon bags Lolo Pass route for cut-down smaller loads over the interstate.

That’s all.

in·tran·si·gent (n-trns-jnt, -z-) adj.
Refusing to moderate a position, especially an extreme position; uncompromising.
in·transi·gence n.


There’s been one thing that has always bothered me about democrats, and that is their tendency to walk into legislative negotiations in an already compromised position. As an extreme example, we have gumby Max Baucus’ taking the single payer health care system off the table from the get-go during Senate Finance Committee hearings (and arresting single payer advocates trying to get into the hearing and get their views heard).

More recently, the debt ceiling hostage crisis revealed that democrats were unwilling to enter into the negotiations with as adamant of a stance on revenue increases as republicans were with spending cuts. There’s many, many more, but I’m sure most of you get the point.

The title of this post seems to point to a contradiction, that most of the grownups in the room seem to believe that intransigence negates the possibility of compromise. But however unlikely it seems, I agree with Ross Douthat on this point.

I have been lambasted over the years for my seeming intransigence, and have garnered many labels meant to deprecate the positions I have taken: “principled left”; “emoprog”; “extremist”; “ecoterrorist” and the list goes on. But I think that the intransigence of the “principled left” is the missing ingredient in dems negotiating stances that have them capitulating to the right every step of the way. It is needed now more than ever as a balance to the tea party’s notion of what is politically acceptable.

Politics is the art of the possible. When one side employs intransigence as a strategy, either the other side gets up to speed, or they’re going to get steamrolled. Of course, that assumes that they aren’t in on the steamrolling in the first place. But that’s fodder for others.

This weekend saw a firestorm of punditry about the state of the presidency and the dem party rising out of the failed debt ceiling negotiations by democrats in D.C., beginning with Drew Weston’s Op-Ed in the NY Times, “What Happened to Obama?”

But the arc of history does not bend toward justice through capitulation cast as compromise. It does not bend when 400 people control more of the wealth than 150 million of their fellow Americans. It does not bend when the average middle-class family has seen its income stagnate over the last 30 years while the richest 1 percent has seen its income rise astronomically. It does not bend when we cut the fixed incomes of our parents and grandparents so hedge fund managers can keep their 15 percent tax rates. It does not bend when only one side in negotiations between workers and their bosses is allowed representation. And it does not bend when, as political scientists have shown, it is not public opinion but the opinions of the wealthy that predict the votes of the Senate. The arc of history can bend only so far before it breaks.

Continue Reading »

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