“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Friday, January 16, 2015

The Republicans opened with confrontational showboat politics and Obama doubles

Obama to Senate Dems: ‘I’m going to play offense’
The president said he’s prepared to veto hostile legislation, including an Iran sanctions package.

By MANU RAJU 1/15/15 7:09 PM EST Updated 1/15/15 7:37 PM EST

President Barack Obama made clear Thursday in a closed-door session with Senate Democrats that he’s prepared to veto hostile legislation from the GOP-controlled Congress, including an Iran sanctions package on the front-burner of Capitol Hill.

According to several sources at the Thursday summit in Baltimore, Obama vowed to defend his agenda against Republicans in Congress, promised to stand firm against GOP efforts to dismantle his agenda and called on his Democratic colleagues to help sustain his expected vetoes. The president also was explicit over his administration’s opposition to an Iran sanctions bill, promising to veto legislation with his administration in the midst of multilateral nuclear negotiations with the Middle Eastern regime.

Even though Obama’s position on Iran sanctions differs from a number of powerful Democrats, the session, several sources said, was more of a pep rally than confrontation. Despite his lame-duck status, the president promised that he would not sit on the sidelines in the next two years. He vowed more executive actions to implement his agenda, something bound to prompt anger from Republicans who have called the president’s unilateral moves, particularly on immigration, an unconstitutional power grab.
“I’m not going to spend the next two years on defense; I’m going to play offense,” Obama said, according to two attendees.

The president’s remarks at their retreat at the Hilton hotel near Camden Yards Stadium, were greeted warmly, sources said. The energetic atmosphere was a sharp departure from the tension felt between Senate Democrats and the White House in the aftermath of November’s GOP midterm election rout, attendees said. Obama spent most of the time answering questions, even promoting his trade agenda to many Democrats who oppose his administration’s push on the issue.
At the meeting, Obama, who has rarely used his veto pen in his six years in office, signaled he would do so repeatedly, including on GOP-sponsored legislation to build the Keystone XL oil pipeline. Once that measure passes, Republicans have indicated they would soon move to a bill — being drafted by Sens. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) — that would provide a set of tough sanctions against the Iranian economy. The White House worries such a provocative move could prompt Iran to back out of a sweeping nuclear deal with the U.S. and other world powers before a June 30 deadline.

White House officials confirmed the veto threat over the Iran bill but declined to comment further. His administration has raised concerns over the Iran measure, but the president appeared to take his opposition a step further in Thursday’s meeting. In January 2014, Obama threatened a veto over a similar Iran sanctions bill, but in the new Congress, the administration has stopped just short of such a threat.

“We in the administration believe that, at this time, increasing sanctions would dramatically undermine our efforts to reach this shared goal” of reducing Iran’s nuclear weapon capacity, said Samantha Power, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, at a Louisville event with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) earlier this week.
The bill, however, likely has the votes to clear both chambers of Congress.
John Bresnahan contributed to this report.


  1. I find it astonishing that an employer does not give an employee a reasonable amount of paid sick days.

    1. Astonished that employees do not give an employer unpaid work hours, too?
      ... just one day a month, eight hours ....

    2. .

      'Reasonable' is in the eye of the beholder.

      As to the other argument, employees have been giving the employers unpaid work hours for decades. These days we hear about underemployed employees but forget that that trend is relatively new and works to the benefit of the employer. Also, most workers don't fall into that category. They are forced to bust their butt. Anyone who has worked a white collar job knows that 40 hour week is mostly a 40 hour plus week. Likewise, since the 70's, it is hard to argue that the employees are getting an equitable share of the productivity pie.

      The average 'employee' has been taking it in the ass for decades. I could go on but I need a coffee.

      The Occupy movement has the right idea but they lack focus and leadership.


    3. 'Equitable share' ?

      What in the world are you talking about, Legionnaire.
      Equitable interest in an ownership position. Labor does not an equitable interest make.

      Labor works for wages, not shares.
      Owners and partners have equitable shares.

  2. Iraq’s State Oil Marketing Organization has allocated 3.3 million barrels per day (bpd) of Basra crude to be shipped out in February, up from 2.7 million bpd in January, they said, citing a preliminary loading program.

  3. SAN DIEGO, California - Mitt Romney is back - but the whole band isn't necessarily thrilled about getting back together for a third presidential run.

  4. MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Republican Gov. Scott Walker is promising to sue the federal government over new limits on carbon emissions from power plants.

  5. consumer confidence 98.2

    Highest since 2004

  6. Some Mississippi farmer sold me a couple of bushels of corn, yesterday. $1.54 / Gallon.

    I smiled all the way home.

    The Saudis, and Iraqis can take turns blowing each other. Fuck'em.


  7. "The Occupy movement has the right idea but they lack focus and leadership."

    True enough.

    What they need of course is some Entrepreneur like our O'Quartski to sell them body ass wipes and condoms on the cheap and $15/dollars an hour to clean up their own trash.

    Our O'Quartski is the guy to get this done, not the government.

    After all, he knows Detroit.

  8. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that the total number of new business startups and business closures per year — the birth and death rates of American companies — have crossed for the first time since the measurement began. I am referring to employer businesses, those with one or more employees, the real engines of economic growth. Four hundred thousand new businesses are being born annually nationwide, while 470,000 per year are dying.

    You may not have seen this graph before.

    Net Number of New U.S. Firms Plummets

    Business startups outpaced business failures by about 100,000 per year until 2008. But in the past six years, that number suddenly reversed, and the net number of U.S. startups versus closures is minus 70,000.
    Net Number of New US Firms Plummet

    My hunch is that no one talks about the birth and death rates of American business because Wall Street and the White House, no matter which party occupies the latter, are two gigantic institutions of persuasion. The White House needs to keep you in the game because their political party needs your vote. Wall Street needs the stock market to boom, even if that boom is fueled by illusion. So both tell us, “The economy is coming back.”

    Let’s get one thing clear: This economy is never truly coming back unless we reverse the birth and death trends of American businesses.

    Dead-Wrong Thinking

    It is catastrophic to be dead wrong on the biggest issue of the last 50 years — the issue of where jobs come from. Our leadership keeps thinking that the answer to economic growth and ultimately job creation is more innovation, and we continue to invest billions in it. But an innovation is worthless until an entrepreneur creates a business model for it and turns that innovative idea in something customers will buy. Yet current thinking tells us we’re on the right track and don’t need different strategies, so we continue marching down the path of national decline, believing innovation will save us.

    1. When was this written? That chart is a couple of years old. (not that it's wrong - just kind of dated.)

    2. This is why the most devastating crash, imaginable, is a Real Estate Crash. New businesses originate with a home loan. That has been, largely, out of the question for the last six years. It's a miracle that there have been as many start-ups as there has been.

  9. .

    Jack HawkinsFri Jan 16, 09:42:00 AM EST

    ‘Equitable share’ ?

    What in the world are you talking about, Legionnaire.
    Equitable interest in an ownership position. Labor does not an equitable interest make.

    Labor works for wages, not shares.
    Owners and partners have equitable shares.

    Once again, rat, you prove your unfamiliarity with the nuances of the English language. Whether it is understanding idiom, grammar, the importance of context, whatever, you come up short. Today it is basic word definition. I talk social science and you talk accounting. I talk equity and you talk rights. Dealing with you is a wasted effort.


    1. I talk equity and you talk rights.

      You have it exactly backwards, Legionnaire Q.
      I am speaking of equity in the enterprise, labor has none.

      Labor has no equity, in a Capitalistic society.
      Labor works for wages, not for shares.

      Partners work for shares.

    2. .

      No, I don't have it backwards. You are talking bookkeeping categories while I was talking about social science. Look up the definition of equitable or equity then reread the sentence I used it in.

      I didn't say the worker has a legal 'right' to share in productivity gains. What I implied was that they should equitably share in productivity gains but don't. If that distinction is beyond you, there is no point arguing this any further.

      Besides it's 'dogs to the park' time.


    3. You make no case for Labor to have any claim to those 'productivity gains'.
      Gains that came from 'investment' in plant and equipment.
      Not from Labor working 'harder or smarter'.

    4. Investing in innovation, the Capitalist deserves the productivity gains garnered.
      Not the Labor that operated the capital goods required for production.

      The objection is to your claim that Labor had an 'Equitable Interest' in the enterprise, deserving a right to claim a portion of the productivity gains derived from capital investments. The differences exemplified, illustrated as it were, in the differences between Walmart and WinCo Foods

  10. "International court opens inquiry into Israeli-Palestinian conflict

    The International Criminal Court has launched an inquiry into possible war crimes in the Palestinian territories, opening a path to possible charges against Israelis or Palestinians.

    In a statement on Friday, prosecutors said they would examine “in full independence and impartiality” crimes that may have occurred since June 13 last year. This allows the court to delve into the war between Israel and Hamas militants in Gaza in July-August 2014 during which more than 2,100 Palestinians and 73 Israelis were killed.

    ... "

    1. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu released a statement on Friday condemning the International Criminal Court for its decision to launch an initial inquiry into war crimes allegedly committed by Israel during its offensive against Hamas in the Gaza Strip this past summer.

      “It is absolutely scandalous that just days after terrorists butchered Jews in France, the general prosecutors is beginning an inquiry against the state of the Jews, and this only because we defend our citizens from Hamas, a terrorist organization that is allied with the Palestinian Authority.”

      “Hamas war criminals fired thousands of rockets at Israeli citizens,” the prime minister said.
      “Unfortunately, [this probe] renders [the ICC] part of the problem, and not part of the solution.”

    2. Every rocket, missile shot by Hamas into Israel is a war crime.

      Let's see them investigate, prosecute and jail Hamas leaders 1st for previous crimes. then and only then deal with last summer.

    3. Oh that's right, the world supports Hamas's murder or attempts at murder of Jews....

      my bad...

      There is only one solution left.

      KILL all Hamas or Fatah or Hezbollah members that shoot rockets or missiles.

      The lesson is clear. No amount of attempts by israel to avoid civilian deaths is appreciated. All efforts by Israel should be on killing the enemy. What's the difference?

      Israel REALLY REALLY REALLY committed war crimes?

      who gives a shit.

      If an area of Gaza or southern Lebanon or the west bank attacks?

      So what iran and assad do...

      LEVEL the town...


    4. Let's see, Syria with the help of Iran and Hezbollah have now murder close to 300,000 arabs, including about 10 thousand palestinians.. (btw no calls for war crimes investigation)

      Maybe if Israel kills 300,000 gazans?

      If will defeat them....

      Then we can have a war crimes investigation!!!!

      And then a PARTY!!

    5. Syria with Iran and Hezbollah help have created 11 MILLION refugees...

      No war crimes investigation...

      Heck, if Israel thru every arab out of gaza and the west bank?

      that would only be what 2.5 million?

      So Israel should do it!!!

      Its a plan

      then we can have a party....


  11. You demonstrate the results and consequences. Now try and put them into perspective?

    Which country destabilized Palestine?

    Who helped create the Mujahideen and armed them with missiles?

    Which country totally wrecked the secular government of Iraq? Who were the cheerleaders?

    Who attacked Libya and destabilized the secular society in Libya? Who were the cheerleaders?

    Who destabilized Syria supporting the armed insurrection?

    Which country attacked and destabilized Lebanon? Who were the cheerleaders?

    Which country overthrew the democratically elected government of Iran and helped establish the police state under the Shah?

    Which country shot down a totally loaded Iranian civilian passenger jet?

    Which country has been murdering Iranian scientists?

    Which country has been giving the Saudis a pass on everything?

    Which president ordered the Sixth fleet to use Lebanon for target practice?

    The Middle East is a disaster, but it got there with outside criminal manipulation.

    Have your party. Celebrate the death and destruction. Pull up a lawn chair and share your popcorn with your fellows.

  12. A Burmese woman was publicly beheaded on the street in the Mecca, Saudi Arabia, the holiest city in Islam. The footage of the brutal execution subsequently leaked onto YouTube, prompting a heated debate about the punishment's cruelty.
    MOSCOW, January 16 (Sputnik), Ekaterina Blinova — A Burmese woman was publicly beheaded in the Saudi city of Mecca on Monday, January 12, triggering a heated debate regarding the cruelty of the punishment.

    Islamic State militants
    Islamic State Beheads, Crucifies Five in Deir Ezzor Province of Syria
    "Laila Bint Abdul Muttalib Basim, a Burmese woman who resided in Saudi Arabia, was executed by sword on Monday after being dragged through the street and held down by four police officers," the Independent reported.
    The woman was convicted of the physical abuse and murder of her seven-year-old step-daughter.

    Footage of the execution was obtained by the Middle East Eye (MEE), an independent news agency. It showed the decapitation of the Burmese woman in detail, according to the media outlet. On the verge of death, Laila Bint Abdul Muttalib Basim insisted that she was not guilty of killing the child. An executioner proceeded to slash her neck with a sword, making her scream loudly with pain. It took almost three blows to sever her head from her body.

  13. .

    The objection is to your claim that Labor had an ‘Equitable Interest’ in the enterprise, deserving a right to claim a portion of the productivity gains derived from capital investments.

    I’m sorry you have a problem with that, rat. But just to be clear, what I am talking about is a right in equity not in law (unless perhaps there was something written into a union contract).

    What I said was the following,

    ... since the 70’s, it is hard to argue that the employees are getting an equitable share of the productivity pie.

    The statement is my opinion that on average the worker does not equitably share in the the benefits that derive from productivity growth or to be more exact in the economic benefits. It represents a social justice argument, a value judgment if you like, that argues for the worker getting a bigger share of the productivity pie. You indulge in the same type of value argument when you say,

    Investing in innovation, the Capitalist deserves the productivity gains garnered.

    I believe our difference of opinion probably stems from what I consider is your simplistic idea of what constitutes productivity as encapsulated in your statement,

    You make no case for Labor to have any claim to those ‘productivity gains’.
    Gains that came from ‘investment’ in plant and equipment.
    Not from Labor working ‘harder or smarter’.

    If, in fact, you think that productivity is merely a function of capital investment you are just plain wrong. That thought seems to draw on the old manufacturing model of productivity that never really applied to the majority of the US economy. You imply labor ‘working harder and smarter’ doesn’t contribute to productivity growth but of course that is absurd. It ignores the fact that there has been productivity improvements over the past few years from a lot of companies ‘doing more with less’, i.e. the recession effect, laying off people when demand drops but failing to rehire when demand returns.

    Also, there is the concept of TFP (total function productivity) that involves progress and innovation in production technologies and processes but also other factors such as improvements in transportation, in health care, in energy generation, environmental gains, packaging materials, chemicals, improvements in education, IT, telecommunications, trade, etc. that are not necessarily sector or individual business specific. As I recall, CBO estimates these factors are responsible for a third to a half of overall productivity gains.

    You say the 'capitalist' ‘deserves’ to pocket all the productivity gains for investing in plant and equipment but that the employee doesn't deserve to share for working 'smarter and harder'. I disagree.


  14. Hat tip: Ash on the ICC notice.