Daily Archive: 07/11/2012

Jul 11 2012

What A Great Idea!

An innovation in free speech.  I know I’d much rather watch advertisements than most ‘entertainment’ programming.

American Idol.  Case closed.

Jul 11 2012

How Some of Us Think

“See better, Lear; and let me still remain / The true blank of thine eye”

Earl Of Kent, King Lear, ~William Shakespeare~

How to Think

by Chris Hedges

Cultures that endure carve out a protected space for those who question and challenge national myths. Artists, writers, poets, activists, journalists, philosophers, dancers, musicians, actors, directors and renegades must be tolerated if a culture is to be pulled back from disaster. Members of this intellectual and artistic class, who are usually not welcome in the stultifying halls of academia where mediocrity is triumphant, serve as prophets. They are dismissed, or labeled by the power elites as subversive, because they do not embrace collective self-worship. They force us to confront unexamined assumptions, ones that, if not challenged, lead to destruction. They expose the ruling elites as hollow and corrupt. They articulate the senselessness of a system built on the ideology of endless growth, ceaseless exploitation and constant expansion. They warn us about the poison of careerism and the futility of the search for happiness in the accumulation of wealth. They make us face ourselves, from the bitter reality of slavery and Jim Crow to the genocidal slaughter of Native Americans to the repression of working-class movements to the atrocities carried out in imperial wars to the assault on the ecosystem. They make us unsure of our virtue. They challenge the easy clichés we use to describe the nation-the land of the free, the greatest country on earth, the beacon of liberty-to expose our darkness, crimes and ignorance. They offer the possibility of a life of meaning and the capacity for transformation. [..]

We march collectively toward self-annihilation. Corporate capitalism, if left unchecked, will kill us. Yet we refuse, because we cannot think and no longer listen to those who do think, to see what is about to happen to us. We have created entertaining mechanisms to obscure and silence the harsh truths, from climate change to the collapse of globalization to our enslavement to corporate power, that will mean our self-destruction. If we can do nothing else we must, even as individuals, nurture the private dialogue and the solitude that make thought possible. It is better to be an outcast, a stranger in one’s own country, than an outcast from one’s self. It is better to see what is about to befall us and to resist than to retreat into the fantasies embraced by a nation of the blind.

If the only real achievement of Barack Obama’s presidency is to have opened the eyes of Americans to the depth of the corruption and control of the elites, then he will have achieved more than I expected.

Jul 11 2012

Punting the Pundits

“Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

Wednesday is Ladies’ Day

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Katrina vanden Heuvel: Time for ‘Banksters’ to be prosecuted

“Banksters,” the cover of the Economist magazine charges, depicting a gaggle of bankers dressed as extras off the “Goodfellas” lot. The editors were reacting to Libor-gate, the collusion among traders of major banks to fix the London interbank offered lending rate, the most recent, most obscure and the most explosive revelation from what seems a bottomless pit of corruption in global banks.

Once more the big banks are exposed in systematic fraudulent activity. When Barclays agreed to a $450 million fine for trying to rig the Libor, its CEO offered the classic excuse: Everyone does it. Once more the question remains: Will CEOs and CFOs, as well as traders, be prosecuted? Or will they depart with their multimillion dollar rewards intact, leaving shareholders to pay the tab for the hundreds of millions in fines?

Imara Jones: Honestly, the Jobs Outlook Is Bleak Because the GOP Wants It That Way

In June, just 80,000 jobs were created. That’s only 11,000 more than in May and still below what’s needed to keep up with population growth. As a result, the overall unemployment rate remained stuck at 8.2 percent.

Black unemployment climbed to 14.4 percent. Latino unemployment remained in the double digits. Youth unemployment is still the highest in decades. One out of six Americans is underemployed. Five million Americans have given up looking for jobs and just disappeared from the workforce all together. If they were back in the jobs market, the unemployment rate would stand at over 11 percent. [..]

To the detriment of us all, the GOP has opted out of taking any responsibility for fixing the entirely solvable problems of employment and economic growth.

Ilyse Hogue: ‘Money In, People Out’: The Twin Pillars of the GOP’s 2012 Plan

Mitt Romney escaped the record heat this weekend by attending several parties in his honor in the Hamptons. Early predictions were that one afternoon in this elite enclave would net the candidate more than $3 million for his campaign.

Less than 200 miles away in Philadelphia, where the median income hovers at $36,000 and a quarter of the city lives below the poverty line, there were no beach parties, but some disturbing news. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that state election officials upped the number of statewide voters potentially affected by the new voter ID laws from the 90,000 that Governor Corbett claimed to 758,000. A full 9.2 percent of the state’s eligible voters could be turned away from the polls in November, despite being eligible. In Philadelphia, where over half of the city’s residents are people of color, 18 percent of registered voters lack proper ID under the state’s new laws-laws that Pennsylvania House leader Mike Turzai claimed will deliver the state to Romney in November.

These twin anecdotes seem to perfectly capture the GOP 2012 plan for victory: “voters out, money in.” Despite the massive capital advantage the Republicans have accrued, they’re still driving a strategy of disenfranchisement and destruction that imperils our democracy and seeds distrust among a populace already experiencing record lows of confidence in their elected leadership.

Bryce Covert: To Achieve Work-Family Balance, Americans Have to Work Less

It seems the summer heat is making us think about how to escape work. Tim Kreider’s New York Times op-ed on our overly busy lives made a huge splash, while Mitt Romney himself came out (sort of) for vacations for all. Meanwhile, the controversy continues to swirl over Anne-Marie Slaughter’s article about why women “can’t have it all,” meaning that they still struggle to balance family and career. What do these topics have to do with each other? Everything. If we truly want improved work-family balance for American families-mothers and fathers alike-then we have to address the fact that Americans are overworked. We have to work less. Period. [..]

If Americans want the time for both families and successful careers, we have to demand policies that will allow us to work less. Women have taken the workforce by storm over the past half-century, entering it in droves. That means that many families now have two parents in the workforce, disrupting the Leave It to Beaver family structure in which one parent (i.e., Dad) goes to work to make money and one parent (Mother Dearest) stays home to tend to the house and raise the children. According to the Center for American Progress, today less than a third of all children have a stay-at-home parent, while over half did less than thirty years ago. In fact, nearly half of all families with children have two working parents.

Madeleine Kunin: Why Families Can’t “Have It All”

Anne-Marie Slaughter, the first woman director of Policy Planning in the State Department, sent Internet sparks flying when her recent Atlantic cover story told women that, yes, she’d tried to have it all-an elite career and a happy family-but, she couldn’t do it. And, she told readers, neither can any other woman. In the midst of the ensuing firestorm, a simple reality emerged: men can’t have it all, either. The solution to work-life balance lies not in the battle of the sexes, but in the policy fixes that have stalled for decades in the United States while we have watched the rest of the world, including developing countries, pass us in the race to make life better for working families.

That’s a race that Americans seem to be largely unaware of, despite its importance. The personal story Slaughter conveyed was unusual. Not every woman works in Washington while her family lives in Princeton, or has to pull all-nighters on her office couch while worrying about her teenage son. Yet the tug of war between work and family-that never-ending balancing act that all families attempt to perfect-is far from unusual. Instead of concluding that we have to reject the women’s movement’s promise that women could “have it all,” it’s time to acknowledge that many of the same limitations hold true for men. Getting home in time to read a bedtime story and kissing the kids goodnight is becoming important for fathers, as well as mothers.

Leslie Savan: By Dumping on Mitt, Is the GOP Making a Steal Plausible?

It’s actually good, from a Republican point of view, that party powers like Rupert Murdoch, his Wall Street Journal and Bill Kristol are piling on Mitt Romney as a lousy candidate now, in July. And not just because it gives Romney a chance to shake up his campaign and satisfy his overlords’ demands over the summer. (He’s already begun.) But by squeezing him through the Adjustment Bureau now, the top GOPers can, by November, sing another tune: Romney is a plausible candidate, he can beat Obama. That way, if he “wins” with the help of massive voter suppression, it won’t seem so much like they’ve stolen the election.

I’m not saying Romney can’t win fair and square; sure, he could, especially if the economy spirals downward. But the Republicans won’t risk giving fair-and-square a chance. This is playing out most nakedly in Pennsylvania, where Obama is up over Romney by a Real Clear Politics average of eight points. No problem, says state House majority leader Mike Turzai. In tallying up the party’s achievements last month, he brayed, “Voter ID, which is gonna allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania, done.”

Jul 11 2012

On This Day In History July 11

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.

July 11 is the 192nd day of the year (193rd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 173 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1789, Jacques Necker is dismissed as France’s Finance Minister sparking the Storming of the Bastille.

Necker was seen as the savior of France while the country stood on the brink of ruin, but his actions could not stop the French Revolution. Necker put a stop to the rebellion in the Dauphiné by legalizing its assembly, and then set to work to arrange for the summons of the Estates-General of 1789. He advocated doubling the representation of the Third Estate to satisfy the people. But he failed to address the matter of voting – rather than voting by head count, which is what the people wanted, voting remained as one vote for each estate. Also, his address at the Estates-General was terribly miscalculated: it lasted for hours, and while those present expected a reforming policy to save the nation, he gave them financial data. This approach had serious repercussions on Necker’s reputation; he appeared to consider the Estates-General to be a facility designed to help the administration rather than to reform government.

Necker’s dismissal on 11 July 1789 made the people of France incredibly angry and provoked the storming of the Bastille on July 14. The king recalled him on 19 July. He was received with joy in every city he traversed, but in Paris he again proved to be no statesman. Believing that he could save France alone, he refused to act with the Comte de Mirabeau or Marquis de Lafayette. He caused the king’s acceptance of the suspensive veto, by which he sacrificed his chief prerogative in September, and destroyed all chance of a strong executive by contriving the decree of 7 November by which the ministry might not be chosen from the assembly. Financially he proved equally incapable for a time of crisis, and could not understand the need of such extreme measures as the establishment of assignats in order to keep the country quiet. Necker stayed in office until 1790, but his efforts to keep the financial situation afloat were ineffective. His popularity had vanished, and he resigned with a broken reputation.

Jul 11 2012

2012 Le Tour – Stage 10

Mâcon / Bellegarde-sur-Valserine (121 miles)

Le.  Tour.  De.  France.

So can Cadel Evans come back?  If he does it will be on stages like today’s.  It starts flat enough, but has category 3, 2, and un-categorized climbs.  The Award point is at the end of the decent from the initial category 2 and just before the uncategorized ascent.  Evans could show climbing chops, Wiggins could show weakness, there could be a bus.

Today and tomorrow are the best days short term to create some kind of climbing get away and keep in mind that Evans doesn’t just have to erase his 1:43 deficit, but also a build lead of about 2:00 o he doesn’t get crushed in the 19th stage.

I’m getting overflow errors in my larger consolidated General Classification and Points tables and I haven’t quite solved that problem yet.  Here are the top contenders starting out today-

General Classifiction

Place Rider Team Time/Delta
1 WIGGINS Bradley SKY PROCYCLING 39:09:20
2 EVANS Cadel BMC RACING TEAM +01:53
3 FROOME Christopher SKY PROCYCLING +02:07
4 NIBALI Vincenzo LIQUIGAS-CANNONDALE +02:23
5 MENCHOV Denis KATUSHA TEAM +03:02
6 ZUBELDIA Haimar RADIOSHACK-NISSAN +03:19
7 MONFORT Maxime RADIOSHACK-NISSAN +04:23
8 VAN GARDEREN Tejay BMC RACING TEAM +05:14
9 VAN DEN BROECK Jurgen LOTTO-BELISOL TEAM +05:20
10 ROCHE Nicolas AG2R LA MONDIALE +05:29
11 COSTA Rui Alberto MOVISTAR TEAM 3+05:46
12 TAARAMAE Rein COFIDIS LE CREDIT EN LIGNE +05:56
13 GALLOPIN Tony RADIOSHACK-NISSAN +05:59

Points

Place Rider Team Points
1 SAGAN Peter LIQUIGAS-CANNONDALE 217
2 GOSS Matthew Harley ORICA GREENEDGE 185
3 GREIPEL André LOTTO-BELISOL TEAM 172
4 CAVENDISH Mark SKY PROCYCLING 129
5 PETACCHI Alessandro LAMPRE – ISD 109
6 BOASSON HAGEN Edvald SKY PROCYCLING 95
7 CANCELLARA Fabian RADIOSHACK-NISSAN 89
8 EVANS Cadel BMC RACING TEAM 82
9 WIGGINS Bradley SKY PROCYCLING 78
10 VEELERS Tom TEAM ARGOS-SHIMANO 76

Team, Hill Climbing, and Youth in yesterday’s piece.

Coverage is customarily on Vs. (NBC Sports) starting at 8 am with repeats at noon, 2:30 pm, 8 pm, and midnight.  There will be some streaming evidently, but not all of it is free.

Sites of Interest-

The Stars Hollow Gazette Tags-

Jul 11 2012

2012 Le Tour – Rest Day 1

Mâcon

Le.  Tour.  De.  France.

I won’t wast your time with any silly ‘race of truth’ metaphors.  There is no doubt that Cadel Evans lost ground in the Individual Time Trial in exactly the same way and proportions he did in the Prologue and while I wouldn’t tear up my tickets yet I will point out once again how difficult it is to make up because of the ‘Same Time’ rules.

Like it or not Le Tour has become a race of trialists.

Now the good news is there are not a lot of bodies between Evans and the lead which mean a single bus will suffice for now, though Froome is uncomfortably close.

Now the Tables below are so you can track rider position change by category by stage.  It’s long but the organization is simple-

  • Category
    • Stage
    • Stage n

Coverage is customarily on Vs. (NBC Sports) starting at 8 am with repeats at noon, 2:30 pm, 8 pm, and midnight.  There will be some streaming evidently, but not all of it is free.

Sites of Interest-

The Stars Hollow Gazette Tags-

Jul 11 2012

2012 Le Tour – Rest Day 1

Mâcon

Le.  Tour.  De.  France.

I won’t wast your time with any silly ‘race of truth’ metaphors.  There is no doubt that Cadel Evans lost ground in the Individual Time Trial in exactly the same way and proportions he did in the Prologue and while I wouldn’t tear up my tickets yet I will point out once again how difficult it is to make up because of the ‘Same Time’ rules.

Like it or not Le Tour has become a race of trialists.

Now the good news is there are not a lot of bodies between Evans and the lead which mean a single bus will suffice for now, though Froome is uncomfortably close.

Now the Tables below are so you can track rider position change by category by stage.  It’s long but the organization is simple-

  • Category
    • Stage
    • Stage n

Coverage is customarily on Vs. (NBC Sports) starting at 8 am with repeats at noon, 2:30 pm, 8 pm, and midnight.  There will be some streaming evidently, but not all of it is free.

Sites of Interest-

The Stars Hollow Gazette Tags-

Jul 11 2012

2012 Le Tour – Rest Day 1

Mâcon

Le.  Tour.  De.  France.

I won’t wast your time with any silly ‘race of truth’ metaphors.  There is no doubt that Cadel Evans lost ground in the Individual Time Trial in exactly the same way and proportions he did in the Prologue and while I wouldn’t tear up my tickets yet I will point out once again how difficult it is to make up because of the ‘Same Time’ rules.

Like it or not Le Tour has become a race of trialists.

Now the good news is there are not a lot of bodies between Evans and the lead which mean a single bus will suffice for now, though Froome is uncomfortably close.

Now the Tables below are so you can track rider position change by category by stage.  It’s long but the organization is simple-

  • Category
    • Stage
    • Stage n

Coverage is customarily on Vs. (NBC Sports) starting at 8 am with repeats at noon, 2:30 pm, 8 pm, and midnight.  There will be some streaming evidently, but not all of it is free.

Sites of Interest-

The Stars Hollow Gazette Tags-

Jul 11 2012

2012 Le Tour – Rest Day 1

Mâcon

Le.  Tour.  De.  France.

I won’t wast your time with any silly ‘race of truth’ metaphors.  There is no doubt that Cadel Evans lost ground in the Individual Time Trial in exactly the same way and proportions he did in the Prologue and while I wouldn’t tear up my tickets yet I will point out once again how difficult it is to make up because of the ‘Same Time’ rules.

Like it or not Le Tour has become a race of trialists.

Now the good news is there are not a lot of bodies between Evans and the lead which mean a single bus will suffice for now, though Froome is uncomfortably close.

Now the Tables below are so you can track rider position change by category by stage.  It’s long but the organization is simple-

  • Category
    • Stage
    • Stage n

Coverage is customarily on Vs. (NBC Sports) starting at 8 am with repeats at noon, 2:30 pm, 8 pm, and midnight.  There will be some streaming evidently, but not all of it is free.

Sites of Interest-

The Stars Hollow Gazette Tags-

Jul 11 2012

The Egyptian Game of Chicken: Morsi v. The Miltary

Egyptain Pres. MorsiJust before the last round of presidential elections in Egypt that put Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohamed Morsi in office, the Egyptian Supreme Constitutional Court, which is still packed with the Mubarak regimes appointees, ruled that the parliamentary elections were invalid. The ruling military then dissolved the lower house until new elections could he held. Sunday, in defiance of the ruling, President Morsi decreed the the old parliament to reconvene until a new parliament was elected:

The move was the first in a series of decrees planned by Morsi against the military, according to Morsi’s former campaign media coordinator Sameh El-Essawy, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party. [..]

And hints of a deal seemed unlikely after Morsi’s decree, which stipulated that parliament reconvene and continue its duties until a new assembly is elected, scheduled for 60 days after Egypt drafts a new constitution. Morsi’s decree directly contradicts Scaf’s wishes, and underlines his determination to take control of the country’s executive.

Morsi’s decree is a reversal of the Scaf decision to dissolve parliament, not the SCC ruling that deemed it invalid, said El-Essawy. “He reversed the Scaf decision, using the same executive powers they had. He has not reversed the court ruling which he respects and that’s why a new parliament will be elected after the constitution,” he said.

The Egyptian Parliament reconvened for five minutes on Tuesday for just one vote:

The parliamentary speaker, Saad el-Katatny, convened a session of the lower house on Tuesday morning but it lasted only five minutes, during which time he stressed that parliament had the utmost respect for the law, and would do nothing to subvert it. MPs then voted that parliament would refer the matter of its ability to convene to the court of cassation in Cairo, and would not assemble until a judgment had been given.

As the drama was being played out, demonstrators against the dissolution of parliament gathered in Tahrir Square. Meanwhile, anti-parliament protesters congregated on the other side of town in the eastern district of Nasr City to voice their objection to its return.

Tuesday’s assembly was boycotted by a sizable number of liberal MPs while an independent MP, Mustafa Bakri, had already announced his formal resignation from parliament due to its unconstitutionality.

Then just hours after the chamber’s brief session, the Supreme Constitutional Court stepped in

“The Supreme Court has once again reiterated that the parliament is dissolved,” our correspondent said. “It’s the third decsion by them saying that Morsi’s decison to reinstate the parliament was illegal. They cannot say it in any more certain terms than that.”

“They’re saying that the parliament sessions cannot continue, which would mean legislative powers would stay in the hands of the armed forces – in this power struggle between the military and the president.” [..]

Lawyers representing Morsi criticised the court’s latest decision and said Tuesday’s ruling was a political move that would further complicate the crisis.

“This ruling is null and void,” lawyer Abdel Moneim Abdel Maqsud told reporters while another member of the team, Mamduh Ismail, called it a “political decision”. [..]

Morsi’s decree was hailed by those who want to see the army return to barracks, but it was criticised by those who fear an Islamist monopolisation of power as a “constitutional coup”.

As noted in an editorial in the Los Angeles Times, this is just the first of many confrontations between Morsi and the military:

In reconvening the People’s Assembly, Morsi insisted that he wasn’t flouting the decision of the court but rather reversing an executive action taken by the military council in the absence of a civilian president. Indeed, the overarching issue in this dispute is whether the armed forces are prepared to yield power to the elected representatives of the Egyptian people. [..]

To some extent, the military’s power – along with economic realities – may have inclined Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood to a more pluralist and moderate course. But if the generals overplay their hand, they will lose popular support and antagonize Egypt’s allies, including the United States, which provides the military with $1.3 billion a year in assistance. Both Congress and the Obama administration have put the generals on notice that those funds are in jeopardy if the transition to democracy is thwarted. An attempt to shut down a reconvened parliament would be interpreted inside and outside Egypt as just such an obstruction.

So far, the Mohamed Morsi 0 – Egyptian Military 1.