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deficit terrorism - they're serious - pix

by fairleft Wed May 26th, 2010 at 07:16:35 PM EST

this is a case of pain with no gain . . . indefinite sacrifice for the reward of lower living standards

They can't be serious, but they are. Somehow the financiers and 'the market' have taken control of our politicians and the mainstream media, and are going to practice anti-deficit terrorism against their populations, in the U.S. and Europe, already hit by deep recession and mass unemployment. Taking Keynes and common sense and doing the opposite, where does it lead? Why do we have to find out?

Dean Baker:

. . . Even though the US and many eurozone countries are projected to be flirting with double-digit unemployment for years to come, their governments will be focused on cutting deficits rather than boosting the economy and creating jobs.

The outcome of this story is not pretty. [fairleft: You could've put that a little stronger, Dean] Cutting deficits means raising taxes and/or cutting spending. In either case, it means pulling money out of the economy at a time when it is already well below full employment. This can lower deficits, but it also means lower GDP and higher unemployment.

This might be OK if we could show some benefit from lower deficits, but this is a case of pain with no gain. . . .

Mark Weisbrot:

Unfortunately the European authorities . . . are . . . committed to punishing the weaker economies by having them cut spending even if it causes or deepens recession and mass unemployment (over 20% in Spain). . . .

Read more... (10 comments, 725 words in story)

'Germany to boost spending €10 billion yearly, 2011-2016' ; - >

by fairleft Mon May 24th, 2010 at 03:34:18 PM EST

'Deficit Terrorism News' fractured along economically rational lines. (Wish it were so source):

Monday, May 24, 2010 - 03:42
Germany to boost spending €10 billion yearly, 2011-2016

PARIS (MNI) - The German government will embark on a fiscal prosperity program, increasing the federal budget €10 billion a year from 2011 to 2016 (or the return of full employment), the Financial Times reported Monday, citing unnamed government officials.

The measures, which will include spending increases, increased subsidies to states, and lower taxes, are intended to comply with Germany's new constitutional law requiring that annual public deficits be no less than 0.35% of GDP during recessions. It is also meant to serve as an example to other Eurozone countries that Germany has repeatedly exhorted to boost deficits in order to outpace the EU's 3%-of-GDP deficit requirement during periods of high unemployment.

Germany expects to run a deficit exceeding 5% of GDP this year, and hopes to increase it steadily afterward. The country is expected this year to have a record-high net borrowing requirement of €80 billion, which it also wants to increase beginning next year, unless unemployment declines significantly.

The magnitude of Germany's planned increases are likely to be greeted warmly by fellow EMU members, who hoped that Germany would stimulate demand to provide breathing room for countries mired in recessions much deeper than Germany’s that cannot undertake economic growth efforts as robust as Germany can.

. . .

Read more... (626 words in story)

What Israel did to Miss USA's hometown

by fairleft Thu May 20th, 2010 at 04:04:49 PM EST


Desert of trapped corpses testifies to Israel's failure
Robert Fisk
Tuesday, 15 August 2006

They made a desert and called it peace. Srifa - or what was once the village of Srifa - is a place of pancaked homes, blasted walls, rubble, starving cats and trapped corpses. . . .

New Miss USA Rima Fakih moved to the U.S. when she was 6 or 7 from the village of Srifa, in southern Lebanon. Media guyland wants 'her controversy' to be some sexy photos (see P.S.) but in fact there's only one scandal connected to the new Miss USA: what Israel did to her hometown.

Srifa was a bustling hillside village. Then yesterday the Israeli jets came
Clancy Chassay outside Srifa
The Guardian
Thursday 20 July 2006

. . .

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Progressives & Obama's Katrina

by fairleft Tue May 18th, 2010 at 07:38:44 PM EST

I thought BP was solely responsible for the biggest oil spill in history, but thanks to a great diary by Stu Piddy over at pffugeecamp.com, I see I'm wrong:

Mon May 17, 2010 at 23:14:27 PM EDT


This is the man who was responsible for the OIL SPILL.



Thank GAWWD St. Obama had nothing to do with it! I mean, my confidence in America's First African-American President (!) was briefly shaken when I remembered he said this on April 2, 2010: "It turns out, by the way, that oil rigs today generally don't cause spills; they are technologically very advanced." But then I remembered it's all BP's fault, or some Interior Department functionary's fault, or our fault, not the Nobel Peace Prize winner's.

But, okay, enough joking around. Seriously folks, don't we realize President Obama is an enemy? Yes, BP, the right-wing media, the Republicans, they're the enemy too. But Obama is very much in power, and he definitely plans to cut Social Security and other 'entitlements' with whatever political capital he has left after the fall elections. Don't we want to make as sure as we can that he has very little of that? And isn't "OBAMA'S KATRINA" one way to move toward that goal? What are progressives thinking? (Not sure I want to know, to tell the truth.) . . .

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Greece: Default, Skip to Argentina 2002

by fairleft Mon May 17th, 2010 at 04:30:06 PM EST

Argentina GDP growth since 1993, in 1993 pesos

Defying BBC and others' severe pessimism, Argentina's economy performed well from 2002 forward, after it decided to default on its debt in late 2001. So, Greece, why not just skip to the Argentina story from the default forward? Why go through your own version of the hell of Argentina's 1999 to 2001, IMF-imposed austerity? Dean Baker:

Argentina's economy shrank in the first quarter of 2002, the quarter immediately following the December default, and then began growing robustly. It continued to have robust growth for 5 more years until it got caught up in the world recession. If we were having an honest debate over Greece, then everyone would be talking about Argentina's remarkable turnaround.

Now the fact seems to be that Greece has bought itself at most a year before its debt is restructured anyway. The Financial Times:

However, most of the lawyers, bankers, and emerging market investors who have worked on the dozens of sovereign defaults over the past three decades have not changed their view on the fundamentals of the distressed European sovereigns. Among them, the betting is that Europe and the International Monetary Fund have bought no more than another six months to a year before a "restructuring".

So, why not skip the year of irrational and severe austerity? Joe Stiglitz:

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Michael Hudson vs. 1-sided media/politics/economics on the economic crisis

by fairleft Fri May 14th, 2010 at 12:01:27 PM EST

"Because clearly TARP and the stimulus package have worked."

-- MSNBC's Stephanie Miller this morning on her Democratic Party line radio program, which some consider 'progressive'.

A two-party media/political system sucks. No, Steph, TARP hasn't worked, and the stimulus package hasn't worked. Except for its finance sector, the U.S. is in tremendously deep shit. All the states are broke, and in-power politicians are simply, desperately trying to delay the storm till after the November elections. I don't follow all the details, but one small example: in Illinois current plans (by our Democratic Party governor and legislature) are to impose 40-student class sizes on Chicago's public elementary schools. And, again, these huge local and state government cutbacks are rapidly going to be overwhelming economic anti-stimulus, and countering that? Well, Obama's our nation's leading 'deficit hawk' . . .

So, no, things are not working out but, hey, if things are fine in the part of Manhattan, NY, where you live, or in Georgetown, DC, how are you supposed to know what's going on in the rest of the country? Or the rest of the world.

And the U.S. two-party media/political system offers nothing but neoliberal economics to deal with the Great Recession. (Well, that's not as bad as in Britain, where only neoliberalism is on offer from its three-party media/political system.) So, as usual in the U.S. and Europe, we still need citizen-oriented economics and are not getting it. That economics is in the person of Michael Hudson. I sure hope everybody read this:

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Another $1 trillion bailout for the bankers!

by fairleft Mon May 10th, 2010 at 08:03:49 PM EST


Debt crisis: £645bn rescue package for euro reassures markets ... for now

Yeah, seen this before, a trillion dollars and markets reassured, whoooh!, but just for now . . . They'll get hungry again and we'll have to feed `em, maybe with Social Security here in the States; whatever, no alternative . . .

Free Money For Rich People

It's important to remember, as it's usually obscured, that the massive European bailout is mostly a massive bailout of European banksters. As was the case here, it can be argued the bailout is the best course, but it also rewards rich people for fucking up.

-Atrios 11:09

About the Euro Crisis: The Experts Are Wrong, the German People Are Right
Fabius Maximus
May 10, 2010 4:20PM

The great and wise tell us that the European unification project -- of which the Euro is now center state -- is good.  And the foolish German people are short-sighted and foolish to oppose aid to Greece that's necessary to preserve it.  They're wrong.  The German people are right. . . .

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Clegg, why not do right thing?

by fairleft Sat May 8th, 2010 at 05:37:08 PM EST

Who is Nick Clegg, that he would accept a deal with Conservative David Cameron dashing the dream of generations of Lib Dems (proportional representation) and effectively destroying the party? Who is he; uh, how 'bad' is he? Several here say he'll go Cameron, but what will be his real, get-mine reason? Or, is Clegg simply playing smart politics, pretending there are two tempting choices here cuz it sucks a better deal out of Labour's Brown? What he should do is obvious to 'his people', reading the unscientific but damned overwhelming UK Guardian Reader Poll:

Given the overtures from Gordon Brown and David Cameron, who should Nick Clegg back?

77.4%  Gordon Brown, with his PR referendum

22.6%  David Cameron, with his 'comprehensive offer'

Or, let Polly Toynbee say it all (the header and sub-head are enough):

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Cop tortures 17 year old live on TV, America cheers

by fairleft Tue May 4th, 2010 at 10:26:31 PM EST


Weren't we reassured, like a few months ago in the first slew of 'accidental' killings, that the taser -- a torture device if anything is -- was only supposed to be used when life or grave bodily harm was threatened? Well, not anymore, it's anything goes in America baby, and we're LUVIN it!

Philadelphia police say an officer appears to have acted appropriately when he used a Taser to subdue a teenager who ran onto the field during a Phillies game [because cops are allowed to taze whenever they feel like it].

Lt. Frank Vanore, a police spokesman, says Commissioner Charles Ramsey reviewed the tape and felt the officer had acted within the department's guidelines, which allow officers to use Tasers to arrest fleeing suspects. . . .

The fan, wearing a baseball cap, red T-shirt and khaki shorts, hopped a fence and scurried around the outfield at Citizens Bank Park, eluding two security officers in the bottom of the eighth inning against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Several Phillies placed gloves over their faces and appeared to be stifling laughter at the wild scene. . . .

Okay, so no one was taking the goofy and seriously non-violent incident seriously but, what the hell, let's show him who's boss and torture I mean taser this kid!

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Who 'they' are; where they're taking us

by fairleft Wed Apr 28th, 2010 at 07:35:37 PM EST


Thanks to the Daily Howler for pointing out the perfect portrait of the U.S. media/political elite, i.e., the 'they' that is the enemy of the rest of us:

NYT's Mark Leibovich: On a recent Friday night, a couple hundred influentials gathered for a Mardi Gras-themed birthday party for Betsy Fischer, the executive producer of "Meet the Press." Held at the Washington home of the lobbyist Jack Quinn, the party was a classic Suck-Up City affair in which everyone seemed to be congratulating one another on some recent story, book deal, show or haircut (and, by the way, your boss is doing a swell job, and maybe we could do an interview).

McAuliffe, the former Democratic National Committee chairman, arrived after the former Republican National Committee chairman Ed Gillespie left. Fox News's Greta Van Susteren had David Axelrod pinned into a corner near a tower of cupcakes. In the basement, a very white, bipartisan Soul Train was getting down to hip-hop. David Gregory, the "Meet the Press" host, and Newsweek's Jon Meacham gave speeches about Fischer. Over by the jambalaya, Alan Greenspan picked up some Mardi Gras beads and placed them around the neck of his wife, NBC's Andrea Mitchell, who bristled and quickly removed them. . . .

Yes, that was former Fed Chief Alan Greespan, Ayn Randian most responsible for the deregulated crap storm we're doomed to experience forever (i.e., until us average working people overthrow the neoliberal corporate-globalized market fundamentalists). And his wife, insider neo-journalist Andrea Mitchell.

And what are 'they' in an uproar about right now? No, not 10% official (near 17% unofficial) unemployment in the U.S. Nope, deficits; government deficits during a very deep recession when we desperately need economic stimulus have got elite knickers all in a twist:

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Arizona's bill: how NOT to fight illegal immigration

by fairleft Thu Apr 22nd, 2010 at 04:37:34 PM EST

I'm against excessive and illegal immigration (see * below) during this time of high unemployment, but the Arizona anti-illegal immigration bill waiting on Governor Brewer's desk is a wrong way to go about the fight, because the bill is unconstitutional and will quickly be thrown out in the courts. What Representative Russell Pearce should've done is craft a bill of undoubted constitutionality, and one that explicitly reassures those worried about racial profiling. That would not have been hard to do, as I'll show, because much of the bill is constitutional and would effectively discourage illegal immigration.

Let's look at the ACLU's analysis and criticism of SB 1070, a bill it opposes, to get into the details of what I'm talking about. And, yeah, I'll accept for the sake of this diary that the ACLU's legal analysis is both accurate and comprehensive about the bill's legal and constitutional problems. The main thing I notice in the analysis is that -- although it is irritated with several, or considers them unecessary or frivolous -- the ACLU has no problem with the legality and constitutionality of the following sub-sections of the bill's "Section 2":

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Anti-gun lobby & Dem Party leadership kills voting rights for DC

by fairleft Wed Apr 21st, 2010 at 01:39:41 AM EST

DC gun laws are important, but its citizens' voting rights are even more important in my humble opinion. And no doubt it would've been very painful to accept National Rifle Association-sponsored gutting of Washington DC's gun laws in exchange for Congressional voting rights, but bad call Tuesday by Steny Hoyer, DC 'sorta Congressional rep' Eleanor Holmes Norton and the Democratic Party establishment to abandon the chance for voting rights for DC citizens.

The Senate in February 2009 had passed the first voting rights bill for Washington DC in 32 years. Too bad that historic vote's now wasted. Hoyer said it's unlikely he'll bring the bill to the House floor in 2010.

And how the hell did the NRA amendment get onto the Senate's bill in the first place? . . .

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UC Berkeley `divest from the occupation' bill still undecided

by fairleft Thu Apr 15th, 2010 at 01:39:38 PM EST

ASUC Senate Still Undecided on Vetoed Divestment Bill
By Allie Bidwell and Nick Myers
Contributing Writers
Last Updated Thursday, April 15, 2010 | 9:46 am

Following a nearly nine-hour discussion that began at 10:30 p.m. Wednesday evening and lasted into Thursday morning, ASUC senators have yet to reach a decision on whether or not they would uphold or override President Will Smelko's March 24 veto of a controversial bill urging the student government and the UC to divest from two companies that have supplied Israel with materials for alleged war crimes.

After an initial 12-7-1 vote to uphold Smelko's veto, the senate tabled the bill and will reconsider it next week. Several senators said they would work to alter the bill.

The student who abstained said she just did not feel qualified to vote on the measure, which I think we all can sympathize with. On the other hand, as I've written before, the illegality and stark immorality of Israel's occupation and colonization of occupied Palestine doesn't take a Middle East expert to 'get', in my opinion. Richard Falk (Albert G. Milbank Professor of International Law & Practice Emeritus and Special Rapporteur for Occupied Palestinian Territories, UN Human Rights Council), in a letter to the UC Berkeley student senate, states the case for divestment extremely well. It's not that complicated:

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In desperation, we turn to chimp-level 'right wing' economic proto-thinking

by fairleft Wed Apr 14th, 2010 at 07:15:38 PM EST

Thomas Ferguson and Joi Chen, concluding an analysis of why economically very hard-pressed voters seem to be among the most attracted to 'the Tea Party' and its know-nothing economic take and 'solutions' (emphasis added):

At a time when real disposable per capita income minus government transfer payments (or "take home pay minus government assistance") has sunk to its lowest levels since the giant recession of the early 1970s, most major television and radio networks continue to trumpet both efficient markets and the imagined evils of Keynesian, counter-cyclical programs. With only modest exceptions, so does the money-driven world of think tanks, the rest of the press, and the government itself.

We are thus driven to conclude that the sometimes wild assertions and arguments advanced by Tea Partiers largely reflect the poverty of economic and political analysis in the establishment media. . . . Political establishments and governments refuse to countenance critical discussion of social and economic problems. They marginalize alternative views, while beating the drums unceasingly for orthodoxy. When a crisis hits, however, no one believes them. So disaffected citizens set to work with the only tools they have – bits and snatches of traditional economic and political thinking – to analyze their predicament on their own. It should not be surprising that such efforts often end up being hard to tell apart from Alice in Wonderland or even Goya’s Black Paintings.


by way of

http://fdlaction.firedoglake.com/2010/04/14/declining-home-values-the-massachusetts-vote-and-the-gat hering-storm/

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Singling Out Israel in Berkeley: 5 Reasons

by fairleft Mon Apr 12th, 2010 at 05:57:33 PM EST

This Wednesday, UC Berkeley's Student Senate will vote to override its President's veto of a measure that calls for the University of California "to divest from companies that profit from and enable Israel's occupation of Palestinian land, Israel's illegal settlements, Israel's illegal wall, and Israel's demolition of Palestinian homes." In a statement defending the veto, senate President Will Smelko -- who had been inundated by e-mails opposing the meaure -- cited the divisiveness of the proposal and that it would be unfair to single out Israel for divestment (J Street cites the 'singling out' argument too, in its opposition to the measure). Further reporting and background on the measure can be found here.

Yaman Salahi*** wrote ably that Singling out Israel is the right thing to do, but I don't think he voices all of the arguments as to why in particular a single-minded activist focus on BDSing  institutions connected to the illegal occupation of the Palestinian Territories is a great strategy and the right thing to do. Perhaps in contrast to Salahi, I write (A) in order to persuade any UC Berkeley Student Senate member wavering on the fence between a yes/no vote to override the veto, and (B) with a singluar focus on fighting the illegal occupation of the Palestine territories, and not in support of BDS toward `Israel in general'. I think it's poor strategy to promote 'boycott Israel.' 'Boycott the occupation' is much smarter (and contrasts with the preceding) because it is immediately an attractive proposition without or before explanation, and therefore is an idea that has a much greater chance of gathering support and having real success. Like many divestment supporters.

So, given that Israel is just one among many nations grossly violating the human rights of people under its control, why is it smart for activists to concentrate some of their activism on making Israel  - rather than, for example, Iran, Sudan, Sri Lanka, or North Korea - stop its unjust, inhumane policies towards occupied Palestine? . . .

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Pics: Kyrgyzstan anger to action to revolution

by fairleft Thu Apr 8th, 2010 at 02:06:41 AM EST


Praiseworthy courage, and inspirational, cuz it's nearing time for the rest of us to think about doing similar. When are regular working people gonna get angry enough at the cut backs and the cost increases that the Western elite consensus says 'must' get much much worse? Angry enough to, you know, imitate our Kyrgyzstanian betters, perhaps? The comments under the Times of London report on the revolt were instructive:

Sarf of the River wrote:

The UK could do with a pro-democracy movement.

Max Bygraves wrote:

I saw the footage on the BBC.

It looks like 28 days later.

I wonder if it'll happen here, when people go hungry . . .

rob robbo wrote:

It's sad that people have died, but when any government is corrupt, it's the duty of the population to overthrow them by any means.

Government austerity measures were particularly clumsy, brutal and extreme in Kyrgyzstan, of course, so it became time for anger and action. The immediate trigger (fuel price increases) of the revolt, links to background on the 'Great Game' between Russia and the U.S., and the (yay, bad!) implications for the U.S. war on Afghanistan, all below the fold. First, this is what the first 21st century revolt against austerity looks like:

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Corrupted politics kills 25-29 coal miners

by fairleft Tue Apr 6th, 2010 at 04:52:14 PM EST

The mine violated the standard for ventilation as recently as March 30, and was also cited twice on March 23 and on March 17.

Why aren't the fines much larger, so that even one violation deters this corporate criminal conduct? See title.

Mining Company Previously Fined for Safety
Massey Energy Company Oversaw Operation That Violated Ventilation Standards, Roof Falls

MONTCOAL, W.Va., April 5, 2010

(CBS/AP)  Upper Big Branch Mine, where 25 miners were killed and 4 were unaccounted for Monday evening in West Virginia, has been previously cited for safety violations and was behind in paying penalties to the Mine Safety and Health Administration, reports CBS News investigative producer Laura Strickler.

The mine is operated by Massey Energy Company subsidiary Performance Coal Co.

Among the violations according to MSHA:

  • Roof Falls, which are cracking and collapsing of the mine sidewalls happened on Nov. 24, 2009, Dec.5, 2009 and Feb. 21, 2010 at Upper Big Branch mine.

  • The mine violated the standard for ventilation as recently as March 30, and was also cited twice on March 23 and on March 17.

  • There were violations for drill dust on March 25 and for air quality on March 23.

According to the MSHA, in 2010, the mine was fined $188,769 and has paid $2,676 to date. . . .

Massey and its CEO Don Blankenship are -- I mean should be -- notorious. But our corporate media has its own corrupted ways, and will move on from this crime as soon as it can.

Jeff Goodell knows what's going on:

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U.S. soldiers in Iraq/Afghanistan: heroes, poor helpless victims?

by fairleft Mon Apr 5th, 2010 at 04:55:14 PM EST

Kill a man from the military, you're a weirdo

But kill a wog from the Middle East you're a hero

. . .

Follow the dollar and swallow your humanity

Soldiers committing savagery you never even have to see

Handicapped by feeling he has to argue inside the manufactured 'frustrated do-gooder' image of President Obama, rapper Lowkey nonetheless -- in Obama Nation -- above speaks some 'never allowed in the mainstream media' truths about what U.S. and other Western 'colonial policing' soldiers actually do for a living. Their job has two parts: to kill and maim peasants trying to take their countries back from Western invaders and their treasonous puppets, and to kill and maim anyone nearby or slightly suspected of being peasants trying to take their countries back from Western invaders and their treasonous puppets. If there were a God, what would she/he say when one of these Western/U.S. killers for no damn good reason asks for admission to Heaven? 'You poor thing, come right in and make yourself at home'?

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globalization & the piracy business model

by fairleft Mon Mar 29th, 2010 at 06:13:47 PM EST


The Somali pirates' business model, as reported in an annex of a UN-Security-Council-sponsored report last week (h/t to Counterpunch):

A basic piracy operation requires a minimum eight to twelve militia prepared to stay at sea for extended periods of time, in the hopes of hijacking a passing vessel. Each team requires a minimum of two attack skiffs, weapons, equipment, provisions, fuel and preferably a supply boat. The costs of the operation are usually borne by investors, some of whom may also be pirates.

To be eligible for employment as a pirate, a volunteer should already possess a firearm for use in the operation. For this `contribution', he receives a `class A' share of any profit. Pirates who provide a skiff or a heavier firearm, like an RPG or a general purpose machine gun, may be entitled to an additional A-share. The first pirate to board a vessel may also be entitled to an extra A-share.

At least 12 other volunteers are recruited as militiamen to provide protection on land of a ship is hijacked, In addition, each member of the pirate team may bring a partner or relative to be part of this land-based force. Militiamen must possess their own weapon, and receive a `class B' share -- usually a fixed amount equivalent to approximately US$15,000. . . .

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"the virtually complete powerlessness of the left"

by fairleft Mon Mar 22nd, 2010 at 03:39:26 PM EST


The main thing about passage of a ho hum health care bill (I'm not one who thinks it brings the apocalypse) is that it highlights the quote that is my headline. Glenn Greenwald put it like this (emphasis in original throughout):

What's not debatable is that this [health bill negotiation] process highlighted -- and worsened -- the virtually complete powerlessness of the Left and progressives generally in Washington. If you were in Washington negotiating a bill, would you take seriously the threats of progressive House members in the future that they will withhold support for a Party-endorsed bill if their demands for improvements are not met? Of course not. No rational person would.

Regardless what you think of the bill itself, will anyone on the left attempt to open the 'why are the left and progressives completely powerless' Pandora's Box? Because, until we do, the powerlessness will continue. It won't get worse, of course, because it can't get any worse. As Greenwald highlighted in a column btw ridiculing the WaPost's Ezra Klein,

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