Daily Archive: 07/30/2012

Jul 30 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”.

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Paul Krugman: Crash of the Bumblebee

Last week Mario Draghi, the president of the European Central Bank, declared that his institution “is ready to do whatever it takes to preserve the euro” – and markets celebrated. In particular, interest rates on Spanish bonds fell sharply, and stock markets soared everywhere.

But will the euro really be saved? That remains very much in doubt.

First of all, Europe’s single currency is a deeply flawed construction. And Mr. Draghi, to his credit, actually acknowledged that. “The euro is like a bumblebee,” he declared. “This is a mystery of nature because it shouldn’t fly but instead it does. So the euro was a bumblebee that flew very well for several years.” But now it has stopped flying. What can be done? The answer, he suggested, is “to graduate to a real bee.”

Robert Weiner and Richard Mann: Health Decision Dangers: Are the New Deal and Great Society at Risk?

When the Supreme Court affirmed the Affordable Health Care Act, liberals were running everywhere expressing love, kisses, and euphoria for the decision. Nobody has been talking about the destructive parts of the Court’s actions. Upholding the expansion of health care is a good decision for the American people, but the Court made a business-based decision. The Court held the bill constitutional where it goes through the insurance companies, but it gives the States the right not to expand Medicaid or create the exchanges for the 30 million people without health insurance – even though states will be hard pressed to refuse the near-full federal funding for the expansion. Most significant, the decision denies the authority of the Commerce Clause, putting the nation’s entire social safety net at risk.

New York Times Editorial: Republicans vs. Women

Even with a persistent gender gap in a presidential election year, House Republicans have not given up on their campaign to narrow access to birth control, abortion care and lifesaving cancer screenings. Far from it.

A new Republican spending proposal (pdf)  revives some of the more extreme attacks on women’s health and freedom that were blocked by the Senate earlier in this Congress. The resurrection is part of an alarming national crusade that goes beyond abortion rights and strikes broadly at women’s health in general.

These setbacks are recycled from the Congressional trash bin in the fiscal 2013 spending bill for federal health, labor and education programs approved by a House appropriations subcommittee on July 18 over loud objections from Democratic members to these and other provisions.

E. J. Dionne, Jr.: Romney and the Go-for-Broke Election

Here are the two great campaign mysteries at midsummer: Why does Mitt Romney appear to be getting so much traction from ripping a few of President Obama’s words out of context? And why aren’t Romney and other Republicans moving to the political center as the election approaches?

Both mysteries point to an important fact about the 2012 campaign: For conservatives, this is a go-for-broke election. They and a Republican Party now under their control hope to eke out a narrow victory in November on the basis of a quite radical program that includes more tax cuts for the rich, deep reductions in domestic spending, big increases in military spending, and a sharp rollback in government regulation.

Peter Edelman: Poverty in America: Why Can’t We End It?

RONALD REAGAN famously said, “We fought a war on poverty and poverty won.” With 46 million Americans – 15 percent of the population – now counted as poor, it’s tempting to think he may have been right.

Look a little deeper and the temptation grows. The lowest percentage in poverty since we started counting was 11.1 percent in 1973. The rate climbed as high as 15.2 percent in 1983. In 2000, after a spurt of prosperity, it went back down to 11.3 percent, and yet 15 million more people are poor today.

At the same time, we have done a lot that works. From Social Security to food stamps to the earned-income tax credit and on and on, we have enacted programs that now keep 40 million people out of poverty. Poverty would be nearly double what it is now without these measures, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. To say that “poverty won” is like saying the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts failed because there is still pollution.

Barbara R. Bergmann: Social Security is Not Headed for Disaster

The gloomy annual report of the trustees of Social Security has provoked the usual ominous predictions of big trouble ahead. Media accounts spoke of significant deterioration in the financial outlook of the system, and declared it unsustainable unless structural changes were made. The scare words might seem to justify the often-heard prediction that Social Security may last long enough to sustain our current oldsters, but that it is headed for bankruptcy and “won’t be there” for our younger citizens.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Into the future, Social Security can and will provide wage replacement at about the same level it does now. It does not depend for its resources on an entity that might run out of money, that has no way to raise more, and could go into bankruptcy. The U.S. government has the ability to raise enough revenue to pay out whatever level of Social Security benefits the public wants. In that, Social Security resembles all the other things the government pays for, including the national parks, the Food and Drug Administration, and the Department of Defense.

Jul 30 2012

Obama administration stonewalling UN questions about abuse of Occupy protesters

In December of 2011, the U.N. Special Rapporteur for the Protection of Free Expression, Frank La Rue, and the UN Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Peaceful Assembly, Maina Kiai, sent a letter to the Obama administration reminding the U.S. government of its international obligations to “take all necessary measures to guarantee that the rights and freedoms of all peaceful protesters be respected.”

This letter was prompted by the government’s response to the Occupy movement.

The Obama administration many months later has yet to respond:

Federal officials have yet to respond to two United Nations human rights envoys who formally requested that the UI.S. government protect Occupy protesters against excessive force by law enforcement officials.

In a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the two envoys called on U.S. officials to “explain the behavior of police departments that violently disbanded some Occupy protests last fall” and expressed concern that excessive use of force “could have been related to [the protesters’] dissenting views, criticisms of economic policies, and their legitimate work in the defense of human rights and fundamental freedoms.” …

In the letter, the envoys raised a particular concern that the “crowd control techniques used to manage and disperse these assemblies might have been intended to insert fear and intimidation on protesters throughout the country.”

The letter to the Obama administration was made public at the UN Human Rights Council meeting.

Jul 30 2012

On This Day In History July 30

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

July 30 is the 211th day of the year (212th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 154 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signs Medicare, a health insurance program for elderly Americans, into law. At the bill-signing ceremony, which took place at the Truman Library in Independence, Missouri, former President Harry S. Truman was enrolled as Medicare’s first beneficiary and received the first Medicare card. Johnson wanted to recognize Truman, who, in 1945, had become the first president to propose national health insurance, an initiative that was opposed at the time by Congress.

The Medicare program, providing hospital and medical insurance for Americans age 65 or older, was signed into law as an amendment to the Social Security Act of 1935. Some 19 million people enrolled in Medicare when it went into effect in 1966. In 1972, eligibility for the program was extended to Americans under 65 with certain disabilities and people of all ages with permanent kidney disease requiring dialysis or transplant. In December 2003, President George W. Bush signed into law the Medicare Modernization Act (MMA), which added outpatient prescription drug benefits to Medicare.

Medicaid, a state and federally funded program that offers health coverage to certain low-income people, was also signed into law by President Johnson on July 30, 1965, as an amendment to the Social Security Act.

Jul 30 2012

XXX Olympiad- Day 6

Rocky Anderson on the Olympics

From Up w/ Chris Hayes

Broadcast Schedule

This is the complete schedule for today.  It covers from 6 am to 6 am.

Time Network Sport Competitors
6 am Vs. Women’s Badminton (Singles) USA v CHN
6:30 am Vs. Women’s Volleyball SRB v KOR
7 am Bravo Tennis (Second Round) all
8 am Vs. Equestrian (Individual and Team Cross Country) all
9 am MS Women’s Water Polo ESP v CHN
10 am NBC Swimming (Men’s and Women’s 200m Butterfly and Free) all
10 am MS Badminton (Men’s Doubles) USA v JPN
10:30 am NBC Rowing (Men’s 4, Women’s Double Scull) all
10:30 am MS Women’s Beach Volleyball BRA v GER
11 am NBC Canoe/Kayak (Women’s K1) all
11 am MS Women’s Water Polo ITA v AUS
11:30 am NBC Women’s Volleyball USA v BRA
11:30 am MS Women’s Basketball RUS v BRA
12:30 pm Vs. Archery (Men’s Preliminary) all
1 pm Vs. Boxing (Fly and Light Heavy Weight) elimination
1:30 pm NBC Rowing all
1:30 pm MS Table Tennis USA
1:30 pm NBC Swimming all
2 pm MS Men’s Field Hockey GBR v ARG
2:30 pm NBC Women’s Water Polo USA v HUN
3 pm Vs. Women’s Volleyball ITA v JPN
3:30 pm MS Men’s and Women’s Weightlifting all
4 pm NBC Men’s Beach Volleyball USA v POL
4 pm MS Women’s Handball FRA v ESP
4:30 pm Vs. Shooting (Air Rifle) (Medal) all
5 pm MS Women’s Beach Volleyball AST v AUS
5 pm CNBC Boxing (Fly and Light Heavy Weight) elimination
5 pm Vs. Women’s Basketball ANG v USA
7 pm Vs. Olympics TBA
8 pm NBC Prime Time (Swimming (Men’s 200m Free), Diving (Men’s Synchronized Platform), Men’s Gymnastics (Team)) (Medals) all
12:30 am NBC Late Night (Swimming (Women’s 200m IM), Canoe/Kayak (Whitewater)) all
1:30 am NBC Prime Time repeat
3 am CNBC Boxing repeats elimination
4 am Vs. Men’s Basketball CHN v RUS
5:30 am Vs. Equestrian (Team) (Medal) all

All this is sourced through the NBC Olympics broadcast schedule.  Competition starts again at 6 am tomorrow.  

Competitions designated by (Medal) will award winners that day.  ‘all’ means not specified.  Sometimes NBC especially does mashups and doesn’t include event or competitor information.  Elimination means no round robin, one and done.

These schedules are a place for you to make sure you don’t miss a sport you like and share your observations.  Have fun today!

Upsets

Spain gets bounced from Football.  Only the World and European champions.  World Champion Wieber does not Qualify in Women’s Gymnastics (Overall).

Olympic Coverage Criticism

Smug American Elitism at the Olympics Opening Ceremony

By: Kevin Gosztola, Firedog Lake

Saturday July 28, 2012 1:11 pm

It is a running joke that Americans learn geography or about countries outside the United States only when the US military decides to invade a country. Presumably, this is why NBC broadcasters Bob Costas, Matt Lauer, and Meredith Viera announcing the Olympics opening ceremony would be sharing trivia about each country, especially information that Americans might be able to understand even if they were terribly uneducated. But that should be no justification for the candor of the commentary during the broadcast of the Opening Ceremony, which was frankly an example of smug American elitism and often outright condescension.

For example, Bob Costas said North Korea’s greatest athletic achievement belongs to “dear leader Kim Jong-Il who, according to his official biography, carded 11 holes-in one, not over a lifetime but over the first round he played.



This went on for just about every other country. “Churchill never met Idi Amin,” Costas said as Ugandan athletes walked in the stadium. An anecdote about Kuwait mistakenly playing the Kazakhstan national anthem in the film Borat was shared as Kazakh athletes made their entrance. He mentioned the animated movie franchise Madagascar as Madagascan athletes strode by the camera. And, of course, like a school boy learning the country’s name for the first time or a character in a Christopher Guest film, he said, “There are some countries whose names just make you smile,” as Djibouti walked by.

The comments were not limited to quips that fell flat. Costas’ introductions of many of the countries seemed to highlight the worst aspects of each country’s history or inadequacies in the country that Costas himself may or may not have experienced personally. He said, Egypt is in “a transition of some sort,” and added, “From military dictatorship to Jeffersonian democracy? Not quite.” He noted that Kiribati does not have regularly scheduled flights to Honolulu. He ominously reminded audiences that world leaders are keeping a “wary eye” on Pakistan. He described how Australia was “originally founded as a penal colony.”



Coupled with the fact that NBC cut out the ceremony’s memorial of the 7/7 terror attacks in London and Saudi Arabia’s first female athletes entering, NBC’s presentation of the opening ceremony was appalling, hokey, and downright imbecilic. Broadcasters of the American idiocracy were in true form.

It is not like Americans are given much exposure to people or culture in countries outside of the United States. They are consistently indoctrinated with this idea from all politicians that they are citizens of the Greatest Nation on Earth. So, perhaps, it is not surprising that broadcasters on NBC would reinforce this predominant ideology of exceptionalism in our society. But is it too much to expect that NBC announcers would, for the few seconds that these countries go by, not offer smug or sneering remarks that call out the imperfections of each country’s current politics or past history?

Jul 30 2012

Pique the Geek 20120729: Carbon Copy

Last time we started talking about the allotropes of carbon, finished graphite and began with diamond.  Tonight we shall continue the diamond saga and maybe move to a third common allotrope.

Last week I was having some connectivity problems and, quite frankly, was ill with a bad cold, so I just did not feel much like writing.  I am better (much) this week and my computer seems to be functioning within design parameters.

Since the part that I wrote about diamond was so short last time, I shall paraphrase it as the start of this piece.  That way you do not have to hit the link to get up to speed.

Jul 30 2012

Sunday Train: Rescuing the Exurb from its Design

Burning the Midnight Oil for Living Energy Independence

crossposted from Voices on the Square

Back in April, Hope Yen was on the Huffington Post with Sprawling Suburbs Growth Falls To Historic Low Amid High Gas Prices  

All across the U.S., residential exurbs that sprouted on the edge of metropolitan areas are seeing their growth fizzle, according to new 2011 census estimates released Thursday.



“The heyday of exurbs may well be behind us,” Yale University economist Robert J. Shiller said. Shiller, co-creator of a Standard & Poor’s housing index, is perhaps best known for identifying the risks of a U.S. housing bubble before it actually burst in 2006-2007. Examining the current market, he believes America is now at a turning point, shifting away from faraway suburbs to cities amid persistently high gasoline prices.



“Suburban housing prices may not recover in our lifetime,” Shiller said, calling the development of suburbs since 1950 “unusual,” enabled only by the rise of the automobile and the nation’s highway system.

As it was originally designed, Outer Suburbia and Exurbia was designed to fail in an era where increasing energy efficiency will be a fundamental platform for ongoing growth. However, its possible to retrofit Outer Suburbia and Exurbia to a more sustainable design.