Daily Archive: 03/07/2013

Mar 07 2013

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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Duncan Black aka Atrios: Expand Social Security

The three legged stool is down to one leg.

According to the Pew Research Center, the median household wealth for those aged 65+ is about $170,000. While that sounds like a significant amount of money, as Dean Baker of the Center for Economic and Policy Research pointed out, this is actually a trivial amount of wealth for people with little or no income other than Social Security benefits. Remember that this figure includes housing wealth. Even if it was a bunch of cash in a bank account, it wouldn’t actually provide for a significant supplement to other retirement income, but the reality is that many people have a house and not much else.

The point is that people with this vast wealth of $170,000, mostly tied up in the house in which they live, face bleak retirement years. As politicians in both parties discuss cutting promised Social Security retirement benefits as a misguided tribute to the austerity gods, the reality is that we desperately need to increase these benefits right now.

Mark S. Mellmann: The G. Gordon Liddy Republicans

One of my favorite Washington stories concerns infamous Watergate conspirator G. Gordon Liddy, who used to entertain party guests by holding his hand in a candle flame for some time. “What’s the trick?” shocked onlookers would ask. He would reply stoically “The trick is, I don’t care.”

That explains Republicans’ unwillingness to compromise on an agreement that would reduce the deficit by both cutting spending and closing tax loopholes, despite the damage their refusal has inflicted on the GOP, which I detailed last week. And we know that Republican legislators are out of touch even with their own partisans, a majority of whom prefer a combination of spending cuts and revenue increases.

In the end, though, whether the source of the Liddy Republicans’ recalcitrance is ideological commitment, fear of primaries or insulation from political tides, we can be certain about two things: It’s damaging the GOP brand and it’s hurting our country.

John Feehery: Tag-teaming Obama

Don’t tell the Tea Party, but the tag team of John Boehner and Mitch McConnell are currently mopping the floor with Barack Obama.

The president convincingly won a second term in November, but since that time, the congressional Republican leadership has outfoxed, outmaneuvered and plain out-strategized him on just about every issue.

Don’t tell the Tea Party, but the tag team of John Boehner and Mitch McConnell are currently mopping the floor with Barack Obama.

The president convincingly won a second term in November, but since that time, the congressional Republican leadership has outfoxed, outmaneuvered and plain out-strategized him on just about every issue.

Robert Reich: Why There’s a Bull Market for Stocks and a Bear Market for Workers

Today the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose above 14,270 — completely erasing its 54 percent loss between 2007 and 2009.

The stock market is basically back to where it was in 2000, while corporate earnings have doubled since then.

Yet the real median wage is now 8 percent below what it was in 2000, and unemployment remains sky-high.

Why is the stock market doing so well, while most Americans are doing so poorly? Four reasons: [..]

Rarely before in American history have public policies so radically helped the most fortunate among us, so cruelly harmed the least fortunate, and exposed so many average working Americans to such widespread insecurity.

Joe Conason: Hungry Children Will Be Among First to Suffer From Sequestration

The difference between a natural disaster and a disaster caused by politicians is that the latter will almost always hit the poor and the obscure most heavily, while a hurricane or a flood will at least sometimes spread the suffering more evenly.

As the “sequester” unfolds in Washington, we see this same old pattern holding firm: Republican leaders, now hustling to shirk responsibility for the catastrophe they predicted, insist those automated budget axes won’t do any damage at all.

Has anyone felt any pain yet?

Not during the first few days, of course, but when the cuts begin to bite a month or so from now, the first to feel it will be the unemployed and the destitute for whom a few dollars of government support mean so much in their daily survival calculation. A decent policy would seek to spare them the brunt of political mistakes made by other, far more comfortable people, but this process permits no such choices-and the most vulnerable will by definition be hurt most.

George Zornick: Beware Obama’s Dealmaking

As sequestration churns on, President Obama is reaching out to moderate Republican members of the Senate to see if he can still put a deal together. He is coming to the Hill next week for a Republican luncheon, and hosting other members for dinner tonight. The president is also picking up the phone. “He just called me,” Senator Lindsey Graham told reporters yesterday. “What I see from the president is probably the most encouraging engagement on a big issue that I’ve seen since the early years of his presidency. He wants to do the big deal.”

This should, and does, worry progressives inside and outside of Congress. The default position among center-left pundits is that if Obama gets Republicans to agree on a grand deficit reduction package that includes new revenue, he’s “won.” But that assumption really needs to be interrogated, and each concession examined.

Mar 07 2013

On This Day In History March 7

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.

March 7 is the 66th day of the year (67th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 299 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1976, a group of 600 civil rights marchers are forcefully broken up in Selma, Alabama. This day would be remembered in the Civil Rights Movement as “Bloody Sunday”

The Selma to Montgomery marches were three marches in 1965 that marked the political and emotional peak of the American civil rights movement. They grew out of the voting rights movement in Selma, Alabama, launched by local African-Americans who formed the Dallas County Voters League (DCVL). In 1963, the DCVL and organizers from the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) began voter-registration work. When white resistance to Black voter registration proved intractable, the DCVL requested the assistance of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, who brought many prominent civil rights and civic leaders to support voting rights.

The first march took place on March 7, 1965 – “Bloody Sunday” – when 600 civil rights marchers were attacked by state and local police with billy clubs and tear gas. The second march took place on March 9. Only the third march, which began on March 21 and lasted five days, made it to Montgomery, 51 miles away.

The marchers averaged 10 miles a day along U.S. Route 80, known in Alabama as the “Jefferson Davis Highway”. Protected by 2,000 soldiers of the U.S. Army, 1,900 members of the Alabama National Guard under Federal command, and many FBI agents and Federal Marshals, they arrived in Montgomery on March 24, and at the Alabama Capitol building on March 25.

The route is memorialized as the Selma To Montgomery Voting Rights Trail, a U.S. National Historic Trail.

Selma essentially became the focus the right to vote marches because it was the seat of Dallas County, AL that although it has a black population of 57% with 15,000 blacks elegible to vote, there were only 130 registered. Efforts to register voters were blocked by state and local officials, the White Citizens’ Council, and the Ku Klux Klan, using a literacy test, economic pressure, and violence.

On July 2, 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 into law, which declared segregation illegal, yet Jim Crow remained in effect. When attempts to integrate Selma’s dining and entertainment venues were resumed, blacks who tried to attend the movie theater and eat at a hamburger stand were beaten and arrested.

On July 6, John Lewis led 50 blacks to the courthouse on registration day, but Sheriff Clark arrested them rather than allow them to apply to vote. On July 9, Judge James Hare issued an injunction forbidding any gathering of three or more people under the sponsorship of civil rights organizations or leaders. This injunction made it illegal to even talk to more than two people at a time about civil rights or voter registration in Selma, suppressing public civil rights activity there for the next six months.

Planning the First March

With civil rights activity blocked by Judge Hare’s injunction, the DCVL requested the assistance of King and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). Three of SCLC’s main organizers – Director of Direct Action and Nonviolent Education James Bevel, Diane Nash, and [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Orange James Orang, who had been working on Bevel’s Alabama Voting Rights Project since late 1963, a project which King and the executive board of SCLC had not joined. When SCLC officially accepted Amelia Boynton’s invitation to bring their organization to Selma, Bevel, Nash, Orange and others in SCLC began working in Selma in December 1964. They also worked in the surrounding counties along with the SNCC staff who had been active there since early 1963.

The Selma Voting Rights Movement officially started on January 2, 1965, when King addressed a mass meeting in Brown Chapel in defiance of the anti-meeting injunction.

Over the following weeks, SCLC and SNCC activists expanded voter registration drives and protests in Selma and the adjacent Black Belt counties. In addition to Selma, marches and other protests in support of voting rights were held in Perry, Wilcox, Marengo, Greene, and Hale counties.

On February 18, 1965, an Alabama State Trooper, corporal James Bonard Fowler, shot Jimmie Lee Jackson as he tried to protect his mother and grandfather in a cafĂ© to which they had fled while being attacked by troopers during a nighttime civil rights demonstration in Marion, the county seat of Perry County. Jackson died eight days later, of an infection resulting from the gunshot wound, at Selma’s Good Samaritan Hospital.

In response, James Bevel called for a march from Selma to Montgomery.

Goals of the March

Bevel’s initial plan was to march to Montgomery to ask Governor George Wallace if he had anything to do with ordering the lights out and the state troopers to shoot during the march in which Jackson was killed. Bevel called the march in order to focus the anger and pain of the people of Selma, some of whom wanted to address Jackson’s death with violence, towards a nonviolent goal. The marchers also hoped to bring attention to the violations of their rights by marching to Montgomery. Dr. King agreed with Bevel’s plan, and asked for a march from Selma to Montgomery to ask Governor Wallace to protect black registrants.

Wallace denounced the march as a threat to public safety and declared he would take all measures necessary to prevent this from happening.

The First March: “Bloody Sunday”

On March 7, 1965, 525 to 600 civil rights marchers headed east out of Selma on U.S. Highway 80. The march was led by John Lewis of SNCC and the Reverend Hosea Williams of SCLC, followed by Bob Mants of SNCC and Albert Turner of SCLC. The protest went smoothly until the marchers crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge and found a wall of state troopers waiting for them on the other side. Their commanding officer told the demonstrators to disband at once and go home. Williams tried to speak to the officer, but the man curtly informed him there was nothing to discuss. Seconds later, the troopers began shoving the demonstrators. Many were knocked to the ground and beaten with nightsticks. Another detachment of troopers fired tear gas. Mounted troopers charged the crowd on horseback.

Brutal televised images of the attack, which presented people with horrifying images of marchers left bloodied and severely injured, roused support for the U.S. civil rights movement. Amelia Boynton was beaten and gassed nearly to death; her photo appeared on the front page of newspapers and news magazines around the world Seventeen marchers were hospitalized, leading to the naming of the day “Bloody Sunday”.

Mar 07 2013

Answer the question, Mr. President

How much has President Obama told us about his ability to kill Americans at home?  

The question is pretty simple. The answer might not be that simple but it is an answer that is deserved by the American people, no matter how laborious it is to explain that answer clearly.

How much has President Obama himself told Americans about his claimed ability to target, detain and assassinate us?  For years, we were given no answers that I know of.

We, the public, have gotten access to a white paper (PDF), not the actual legal memos, and that was leaked by a journalist, Michael Isikoff.

Some senators on the Senate Intelligence Committee (SSCI) have now received several legal memos after they threatened to filibuster some of his nominees.   There are, we believe, eleven in total.  The president released two more memos for the SSCI to review.  They are not allowed to show them to their staff or make any record of them.  The review period is temporary. The public has not been given any access to them, even though, as we now know, the president, through his attorney general, told us that the president does assume the power to kill us, even at home.  But he still dodged the direct question that has been asked of him by both citizens (in a Google+ hangout session), by a formal letter from Senator Rand Paul, and by many others.  Holder gave some information, but left the question still very much up in the air.

Conor Friedersdorf, a staff writer at The Atlantic, says that Holder’s recent response is “non-responsive, evasive, and deliberately manipulative”.  I agree.  Significant pressure needs to be applied by all concerned Americans until we understand clearly what power this president has assumed, what kinds of things might get us killed, or what circumstances might put us in close proximity to someone else they might target for assassination.  Many innocent civilians have been killed overseas by this president because they were somehow associated, intentionally or not intentionally, with the target of a drone or cruise missile strike.