Daily Archive: 11/08/2012

Nov 08 2012

Arc of the Sun: Does the US Need More Ships and a Bigger Naval Budget?

Burning the Midnight Oil for the Arc of the Sun

Crossposted from: Voices on the Square

Way back in the third Presidential debate (that was pre-Sandy), the challenger said:

Our Navy is older – excuse me – our Navy is smaller now than any time since 1917. The Navy said they needed 313 ships to carry out their mission. We’re now down to 285. We’re headed down to the – to the low 200s if we go through with sequestration. That’s unacceptable to me. I want to make sure that we have the ships that are required by our Navy.

So, how many ships does the Navy need?

On his website, the challenger says:

This will not be a cost-free process. We cannot rebuild our military strength without paying for it. Mitt Romney will begin by reversing Obama-era defense cuts and return to the budget baseline established by Secretary Robert Gates in 2010, with the goal of setting core defense spending-meaning funds devoted to the fundamental military components of personnel, operations and maintenance, procurement, and research and development-at a floor of 4 percent of GDP.

So, do we need to boost the Naval Budget?

Nov 08 2012

Election Day Ballot Measures: The Winners & Losers

Besides deciding who would occupy the Oval Office for the next four years and which party would rule in the House and Senate, there were numerous ballot measures and amendments to state constitutions that voters decided. Amy Goodman, host of Democracy Now! discuss the winners and losers of the ballot measures with her guests Justine Sarver, executive director of the Ballot Initiative Strategy Center; Benjamin Jealous, president and CEO of the NAACP; and Laura Flanders, host of GritTV and author of many books, including Bushwomen: How They Won the White House for Their Man.

From Marriage Equality to Legalizing Marijuana, Election Day Ballot Measures Won by Movements

The transcript can be read here.

Advocates of marriage equality ended Tuesday with four out of four victories, as voters legalized same-sex marriage in Maine and Maryland, upheld same-sex marriage in Washington state, and defeated a measure to ban same-sex marriage in Minnesota.

Maryland voters also affirmed the DREAM Act, allowing undocumented immigrants to receive in-state tuition.

In Montana, voters overwhelmingly approved a measure that would limit corporate spending on elections, while Colorado voters also resoundingly approved a measure backing a constitutional amendment that would call for the same.

In a historic move, voters in Colorado and Washington have legalized marijuana for recreational use, becoming the first states to do so.

In California, voters defeated a ballot measure to repeal the death penalty and another that would have required labeling of genetically modified foods.

A separate measure to ease penalties for nonviolent offenses under California’s “three-strikes” law was approved.

California voters also rejected a measure that would have curbed the political influence of unions.

There were a few other measures that got an “up or down” vote:

Abortion

Florida’s Amendment 6, which would have banned state resources from funding abortions, was defeated by a 10 percent margin.

Montana also wrestled with abortion issues with LR-120, also known as the Montana Parental Notification Measure, which passed with 70 percent of the vote. LR-120 requires doctors to notify parents of minors under the age of 16 at least 48 hours before performing an abortion.

Church vs. State

Florida voters rejected Amendment 8, which would have overturned the so-called Blaine Amendment, which prohibits religious organizations from receiving direct state funding. The measure failed 56 to 44 percent.

“This proposed amendment would have done nothing to preserve religious liberty,” said Daniel Mach, director of the ACLU Program on Freedom of Religion and Belief, claiming that it would have instead “stripped away key safeguards.”

Assisted Suicide

Massachusetts’ Question 2, better known as the “Death with Dignity Act,” official was too close to call, but supporters nonetheless conceded defeat. The act would have legalized physician-assisted suicide for terminally ill patients expected to die within six months. The measure was strongly opposed by the state’s Catholic bishops.

Marijuana

Six states voted on measures concerning marijuana. Colorado, Massachusetts, Montana and Washington passed measures liberalizing marijuana use. Measures in Arkansas and Oregon failed.

The measures in Arkansas, Massachusetts and Montana dealt with medical marijuana, while the measures in Colorado, Oregon and Washington sought to legalize state-regulated recreational marijuana. Recreational pot use in Colorado and Washington state will now be legal once the measure is fully implemented, although many observers expect a conflict with federal drug laws.

Gambling

Maryland approved Question 7, which greatly expanded casino gambling within the state, particularly in suburban Washington. Rhode Island voters approved two new casinos, and Oregon rejected private casinos.

Nov 08 2012

Drone Wars & War Crimes Will Continue

A major topic that was never mentioned during any of the campaign speeches or debates from either of the two major party candidates was the continued, and escalating, use of drones in the eternally, nebulous war on terror. During the election night coverage at Democracy Now!, investigative reporter Jeremy Scahill and Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich discuss the expansion of the drone war and the targeted assassination of Anwar al-Awlaki, an American citizen struck by a U.S. drone strike in Yemen last year.

In Obama’s 2nd Term, Will Dems Challenge U.S. Drones, Killings?

The transcript can be read here.

Nov 08 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”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

Paul Krugman: The Real Real America

So, for a while there during the campaign it seemed very iffy. But in the end, discipline and being on the right side of the issues prevailed. Yes, Elizabeth Warren won!

Oh, and that guy Obama too.

Tomorrow – or I guess today – comes the cleanup; when thousands, perhaps millions, of right-wing heads explode, it makes quite a mess. Also, notice that the polls were right. I wonder if I can get invited when Nate Silver is sworn in as president?

Charles M. Blow: Picket Fence Apocalypse

No, you cannot have your country back. America is moving forward.

That’s the message voters sent the Republican Party and its Tea Party wing Tuesday night when they re-elected President Obama and strengthened the Democrats’ control of the Senate.

No amount of outside money or voter suppression or fear mongering or lying – and there was a ton of each – was enough to blunt that message. [..]

You would think that the world came to an end Tuesday night. And depending on your worldview, it might have. If your idea of America’s power structure is rooted in a 1950s or even a 1920s sensibility, here’s an update: that America is no more.

Republicans are trying to hold back a storm surge of demographic change with a white picket fence. Good luck with that.

Nicholas D. Kristof: Can Republicans Adapt?

This was one that the Republicans really should have won.

Given the weak economy, American voters were open to firing President Obama. In Europe, in similar circumstances, one government after another lost re-election. And, at the beginning of this year, it looked as if the Republicans might win control of the United States Senate as well.

Yet it wasn’t the Democrats who won so much as the Republicans who lost – at a most basic level, because of demography. A coalition of aging white men is a recipe for failure in a nation that increasingly looks like a rainbow.

Gail Collins: Happy Days, Even With the Cliff

La Di Dah Di Dah …

We have been through a lot, people. But now the presidential race is settled. Barack Obama won. People on both sides worked heroically, and, on Tuesday, their candidates behaved well. This should be a happy time.

Oh, my God! There’s a fiscal cliff! We’re all going to fall over and go bankrupt! [..]

And since it looks as if we’re not getting any downtime, we’ll have to get cracking on this latest Congressional crisis. Root for a bipartisan solution that does not involve the White House being hijacked by a guy who keeps babbling about going halfway over a cliff.

In the past, when these things came up, the president’s big failing was his inability to hide his contempt for many of the people who occupy Capitol Hill. Now it’s a new day, and he needs to be so perpetually and visibly available that the negotiators beg to be left alone.

If all else fails, strap John Boehner to the roof of a car.

Amy Goodman: Now the Work of Movements Begins

The election is over, and President Barack Obama will continue as the 44th president of the United States. There will be much attention paid by the pundit class to the mechanics of the campaigns, to the techniques of microtargeting potential voters, the effectiveness of get-out-the-vote efforts. The media analysts will fill the hours on the cable news networks, proffering post-election chestnuts about the accuracy of polls, or about either candidate’s success with one demographic or another. Missed by the mainstream media, but churning at the heart of our democracy, are social movements, movements without which President Obama would not have been re-elected.

President Obama is a former community organizer himself. What happens when the community organizer in chief becomes the commander in chief? Who does the community organizing then? Interestingly, he offered a suggestion when speaking at a small New Jersey campaign event when he was first running for president. Someone asked him what he would do about the Middle East. He answered with a story about the legendary 20th-century organizer A. Philip Randolph meeting with President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Randolph described to FDR the condition of black people in America, the condition of working people. Reportedly, FDR listened intently, then replied: “I agree with everything you have said. Now, make me do it.” That was the message Obama repeated.

There you have it. Make him do it. You’ve got an invitation from the president himself.

William Pfaff: America’s Increasingly Diverse Electorate Is Heard

Abroad, the widely noted aspect of Barack Obama’s reelection victory was its social and class character. The president was reelected by a majority of American minorities. He won 93 percent of the African-American vote, which is hardly surprising, but also 71 percent of the Hispanic electorate, while his part of the white active electorate diminished about 10 percent from the share he carried four years ago.

This is an inevitable result of the steady ethnic diversification of the American population and the increasing incidence of inter-ethnic or interracial marriage, with a consequent diminishment of the originally dominant Caucasian component in the make-up of the population of the United States, and of the historical culture that the founders possessed.

Nov 08 2012

Exploding Heads

I laughed, I cried.

Mostly I cried.

America died. The Democrat Party voted God out of their platform and replaced Him with Romans 1. In the Good vs. Evil battle…today…Evil won. Thanks a lot Christians, for not showing up. You disgust me.

Romans 1:26-27

For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.

This passage is unique in that it is the only place in the Bible that refers to same-gender sexual behavior by women.

I want to be fair to Victoria Jackson, but she just doesn’t understand Christianity very well.

Matthew 27:45-46

And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is to say, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”

I struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize life is that gift from God, and I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.

Say what you like about Mourdock, but he is logically consistent with his faith.

Bob Barr on Drones, Democrats & Dirty Politics

My activist brother says the funniest part is Barr trying to pretend to take Jackson seriously.

Nov 08 2012

On This Day In History November 8

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.

November 8 is the 312th day of the year (313th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 53 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1793 the Louvre opens as a public museum. After more than two centuries as a royal palace, the Louvre is opened as a public museum in Paris by the French revolutionary government. Today, the Louvre’s collection is one of the richest in the world, with artwork and artifacts representative of 11,000 years of human civilization and culture.

The Musée du Louvre or officially Grand Louvre – in English the Louvre Museum or simply the Louvre – is one of the world’s largest museums, the most visited art museum in the world and a historic monument. It is a central landmark of Paris and located on the Right Bank of the Seine in the 1st arrondissement (district). Nearly 35,000 objects from prehistory to the 19th century are exhibited over an area of 60,600 square metres (652,300 square feet).

The museum is housed in the Louvre Palace (Palais du Louvre) which began as a fortress built in the late 12th century under Philip II. Remnants of the fortress are still visible. The building was extended many times to form the present Louvre Palace. In 1682, Louis XIV chose the Palace of Versailles for his household, leaving the Louvre primarily as a place to display the royal collection, including, from 1692, a collection of antique sculpture. In 1692, the building was occupied by the Académie des Inscriptions et Belles Lettres and the Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture, which in 1699 held the first of a series of salons. The Académie

remained at the Louvre for 100 years. During the French Revolution, the National Assembly decreed that the Louvre should be used as a museum, to display the nation’s masterpieces.

The museum opened on 10 August 1793 with an exhibition of 537 paintings, the majority of the works being confiscated church and royal property. Because of structural problems with the building, the museum was closed in 1796 until 1801. The size of the collection increased under Napoleon when the museum was renamed the Musée Napoleon. After his defeat at Waterloo, many works seized by Napoleon’s armies were returned to their original owners. The collection was further increased during the reigns of Louis XVIII and Charles X, and during the Second French Empire the museum gained 20,000 pieces. Holdings have grown steadily through donations and gifts since the Third Republic, except during the two World Wars. As of 2008, the collection is divided among eight curatorial departments: Egyptian Antiquities; Near Eastern Antiquities; Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities; Islamic Art; Sculpture; Decorative Arts; Paintings; Prints and Drawings.

Nov 08 2012

My Little Town 20121107: Voting Then and Now

Those of you that read this regular series know that I am from Hackett, Arkansas, just a mile or so from the Oklahoma border, and just about 10 miles south of the Arkansas River.  It was a rural sort of place that did not particularly appreciate education, and just zoom onto my previous posts to understand a bit about it.

This piece is divided into two parts:  the part that I wrote yesterday after getting back from voting and the part that I wrote this evening after what started as a nailbiting session for me watching the returns come in last night that ended in both relief and satisfaction.

I became eligible to vote in 1975, and my first opportunity to vote was in the primary in 1976 on 25 May.  Arkansas is an “open primary” state, meaning that you can vote in either the Democratic primary or the Republican primary as you wish, but not in both.  This is unlike Kentucky where you have to register as a Democrat (and can vote only in the Democratic primary), a Republican (and can vote only in the Republican primary), or as an Independent (and can vote in no primary).  I voted in the Democratic primary in 1976 because at the time the Republicans were very minor players in Arkansas.

I lived in the 3rd Congressional district, and no Democrat chose to run for the House of Representatives, so I did not vote for anyone for that.  It was also an off year for the Senate for Arkansas, so I did not vote for anyone for that, either.  Under the influence of my parents I made a mistake and voted for Orval Faubus in the primary!