Daily Archive: 03/20/2013

Mar 20 2013

NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament 2013: Day 2

March Madness 2013!

Yup, I have to be crazy to do this.

Last Night’s results

Two more play in games-

W/L Stats from ESPN.

Mar 20 2013

Economic Justice And Fair Wages

Last week the House of Representatives killed a proposal that would have raised the minimum wage tp $10.10 an hour over two years. It failed with not one Republican vote in favor and six Democrats voting against it, as well. In an article for the Los Angeles Times, David Horsey says that while both Democratic and Republican politicians express concern for the middle class, they have failed miserably to address the growing class divide in the Unites States.

As politicians in Washington slam one another over competing budget priorities, most avoid facing up to the disturbing question behind all the numbers: Is the American Dream temporarily stalled or permanently kaput? [..]

This is not the country we like to think we are and it is not the country our political leaders are willing to admit they have helped create. Thirty years of catering to Wall Street, big business and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has not boosted the American economy the way it was meant to do. Yes, the financial industry and giant corporations are awash in wealth, but they are not hiring more workers, they are not paying better pay, they are not enhancing benefits, they are not sharing the wealth. On the contrary, the typical American is working much harder for worse compensation. He or she is paying a bigger share of the healthcare bill and has no pension plan waiting at the end of the line.

This is an all-American crisis bigger than the deficit or the war on terrorism, but no one seems ready to take it on.

Mr. Horsey notes a rundown of the facts about today’s American economy by economics columnist Jon Talton:

• Worker productivity has increased nearly 23% since 2000, but hourly wages rose a pitiful 0.5% in that period.

• Taking a longer view back to 1973, productivity is up 80% between now and then, but pay is up only 11%.

• People at the bottom of the wage scale are earning less now than similar workers in 1979.

• Employees in the middle of the wage scale are getting 6% more than in 1979, but all that increase happened in the 1990s.

• High earners, meanwhile, are making 37% more than back in the 1970s, and the much-talked-about folks in the top 1% have enjoyed a 131% increase in earnings.

In his article, Mr. Talton furthers concludes:

This reality is at complete odds of our self-image as the Land of Opportunity. It is also a change from a previous America. We’ve been losing ground. Some reasons are obvious, others are complex. Many are familiar to readers of this column, and a few are the subject of sharp debate.

Globalization, offshoring and technology have decimated the old blue-collar middle class. The economy has shifted to service jobs that not only tend to pay less but are increasingly part time and temporary. [..]

Whatever the causes, little is being done to correct our trajectory into historic high inequality that is greater than other advanced nations.

Things may have to get worse before change happens. One thing is clear: Our situation is unsustainable and un-American.

Richard Wolff on Fighting for Economic Justice and Fair Wages

Economist Richard Wolff joins Bill to shine light on the disaster left behind in capitalism’s wake, and to discuss the fight for economic justice, including a fair minimum wage. A Professor of Economics Emeritus at the University of Massachusetts, and currently Visiting Professor in the Graduate Program in International Affairs of the New School. [..]

“We have this disparity getting wider and wider between those for whom capitalism continues to deliver the goods by all means, [and] a growing majority in this society facing harder and harder times,” Wolff tells Bill. “And that’s what provokes some of us to begin to say it’s a systemic problem.”

Mar 20 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”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

Katrina vanden Heuvel: Progressives’ budget merits a closer look

On Wednesday, the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) unveiled its own offering in the budget debate: The Back to Work Budget. It’s a detailed plan to create nearly 7 million jobs while bringing down the deficit by $4.4 trillion over a decade. It does this the right way: higher taxes on the wealthiest (including a 49 percent rate on incomes over a billion – yes, billion – dollars); a financial transaction tax that would discourage reckless speculation; a long-awaited end to tax advantages for outsourcers and corporate jets; a forward-looking carbon tax; a public option for health insurance; sensible military cuts; and investment in infrastructure, school construction, child care, and putting teachers and firefighters back to work. [..]

As blogger Bill Scher argues, “the Progressive Caucus holds an unfair advantage: It includes policies the public actually supports.” In a sane world, that would be enough to earn the Back to Work Budget equal time with Ryan’s latest slash-fest. Instead, if past is prologue, the Progressive Caucus alternative will be covered as an afterthought at best.

Maria Margaronis: Why Cyprus Matters: The Eurozone Strikes Again

The kaleidoscope spins again; the shards are rearranged; this time, the fragment at the centre is Cyprus. Faced with yet another country needing an urgent bailout (and with the German election looming in September), Eurozone leaders and the IMF have come up with a new wheeze: make savers pay to rescue the banks that were meant to look after their money, in exchange for a bailout of 10 billion euros. [..]

Why does all this matter? One, because this is the first time the EU and IMF have decided to take money directly from people’s pockets rather than through the messy process of cutting wages and pensions and putting taxes up. You could perhaps read this as a tacit acknowledgment that austerity has failed, economically as well as politically: it’s messy, it’s unreliable, and it makes people vote for leaders who won’t play the game, like Italy’s Beppe Grillo. You could certainly read it as a sign of how profoundly Europe’s leaders have lost the plot. Though the market meltdown predicted over the weekend hasn’t materialized, howls of derision have issued from bankers and business leaders as well as Cypriot indignados: if guarantees on bank deposits aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on, if people’s savings can be siphoned off by fiat, then the world as we know it, or at least the banking system, will come to an end.

Joan Walsh: Dianne Feinstein’s lonely anti-gun crusade

Harry Reid drops her assault weapons ban from the Democratic gun-control package as the NRA cheers

Everyone knew that Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s assault weapons ban was going to be the toughest gun-control reform to achieve in the wake of the Newtown massacre. Although it passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee last week on a party line vote, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told Feinstein last night that it won’t be part of the still-undefined gun control package he’ll bring to the Senate floor. Feinstein is free to introduce her bill, which bans 157 models of assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines, as an amendment to the package, but it will almost certainly fail. [..]

Still, dumping the ban from the Democrats’ official package is a sign that the NRA still holds sway over Democrats. Clearly Reid cares more about red-state Democrats beholden to the gun lobby than he does about gun safety. Remember, this is the same NRA-backed Reid who put an amendment in the Affordable Care Act declaring that wellness and prevention efforts should not collect or disseminate information about whether patients had guns in their home.

Jessica Stern: Iraq: Where Terrorists Go to School

IRAQ, President George W. Bush said in 2003, was a “central front” in the war on terrorism. He was wrong, but prescient. Iraq has become a front for militant extremism – a front the United States created. [..]

Leaving aside everything else – the absence of weapons of mass destruction, the toll in blood and fortune, the immense loss of life – the 10th anniversary of the invasion, is a moment to reflect on this huge setback in the so-called war on terror.

The Qaeda affiliate that emerged in Iraq over the last decade did not disappear when Osama bin Laden was killed in 2011 or when the last American troops withdrew in December. On the contrary, the group is resurgent in Iraq and now its neighbors, even while other Qaeda offshoots continue to be active on the Arabian Peninsula and in North Africa.

Kathy Kelly: War without End

Ten years ago today, Iraqis braced themselves for the anticipated “Shock and Awe” attacks that the United States was planning to launch against them. The media buildup for the attack assured Iraqis that barbarous assaults were looming. I was living in Baghdad at the time, along with other Voices in the Wilderness activists determined to remain in Iraq, come what may. We didn’t want U.S.-led military and economic war to sever bonds that had grown between ourselves and Iraqis who had befriended us over the past seven years. Since 1996, we had traveled to Iraq numerous times, carrying medicines for children and families there, in open violation of the economic sanctions which directly targeted the most vulnerable people in Iraqi society – the poor, the elderly and the children. [..]

The war had just ended for those killed during the “Shock and Awe” bombing and invasion, and it was to abruptly end for many thousands killed in the ensuing years of military occupation and civil war. But it won’t end for the survivors.

Effects go on immeasurably and indefensibly.

Bryce Covert: Obama’s Nominee for Labor Department Head Has Championed Domestic Workers’ Rights

Word is out that President Obama will nominate Thomas Perez to head the Department of Labor today, the current assistant attorney general for civil rights. Perez has some bona fide progressive credentials, having cracked down on voting restrictions, police brutality, harassment against LGBT students and other issues at the Department of Justice, plus bringing a history of promoting immigration reform and labor rights. But one part of his history should give domestic workers heart and may take on even more meaning if he assumes this new role. [..]

Meanwhile, home health aides are on the brink of getting good news from the Department of Labor that they will finally be protected by national labor laws. They’ve been excluded from minimum wage and overtime laws, but a department rule change could finally grant them these protections enjoyed by almost all other workers.

Mar 20 2013

Don’t Pretend You Care About These Issues When Defending the President

This is an older piece of mine that appeared on Daily Kos on Thursday December 29, 2011.

 

It's an important one because it destroys the argument you hear from some Obama supporters hoping to deflect the inhumane treatment of whistle blower Bradley Manning. They say that since African Americans in our prison system suffer torture and injustice in our prison industrial complex, then that means what is happening to Bradley Manning is not really an issue. Of course what they don't mention is that yes, African Americans have been and are indeed suffering atrocities in our prison industrial complex, yet they don't want to talk about President Obama continuing this trend and even making it worse even hiring a for profit private prison lobbyists in his Justice Department where some of the worst offenses happen making him involved in the state issue and federal issue.

 

You can see the failed deflections in the comments of that diary and how the truth about this really hit a nerve with some people, whether they claim to be a fake Marxist in a past life making their support of the PIC and neoliberalism OK now under Obama or not. The facts show that they don't really care about these issues when hoping to shield Obama from them in the case of Bradley Manning.

Part of the reason the Occupy movement exists and are out in the streets is because of the massive failures of this Democratic administration and a Democratic Congress. This can’t be denied. However, because it can’t be denied there are certain implications going around in their defense by those who are in denial about this. They imply that what’s going on with Bradley Manning’s confinement and his sham of a trial doesn’t truly matter.

They imply Occupy protesters getting beaten, sprayed, and handcuffed until they get nerve damage doesn’t matter because of the fact that African Americans and Latinos have been feeling the brunt of police brutality and a corrupt racist justice system for years. It is very true that African Americans and Latinos have felt the brunt of a corrupt racist justice system for years.

However, these injustices still matter regardless, because as MLK said, “A threat to justice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere” and that still holds true today. The issues the Occupy movement are fighting for affect all races, especially on income inequality and economic justice. That is an acknowledged fact that can’t be denied.

The people of Occupy Wall Street are protesting our country’s growing inequality–and nowhere is this inequality more acutely felt than the makeup of our prison population.

Recently at a city council meeting in my home of Jersey City, a 46-year-old formerly incarcerated man told the council, as reported in the Jersey City Independent: “I’ve served 16 years in prison. I came home three years ago and tried everything possible you can do. I got my high school diploma and a driver’s license…The job system failed me.”

When I went to Occupy Wall Street, my friend carried a sign that read: “Troy Davis would still be alive if he had been rich and white.” We had attended a protest earlier that month, when Davis was still alive, where signs and demonstrators proclaimed, “We are Troy Davis.”

We are Troy Davis. We are the 99 percent.

Mar 20 2013

On This Day In History March 20

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 20 is the 79th day of the year (80th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 286 days remaining until the end of the year.

March 20th is also the usual date of the vernal equinox in the Northern Hemisphere, and the autumnal equinox in the Southern Hemisphere when both day and night are of equal length, therefore it is frequently the date of traditional Iranian holiday Norouz in many countries.

On this day in 1854, Republican Party is founded in Ripon Wisconsin.

The Republican Party emerged in 1854, growing out of a coalition of former Whigs and Free Soil Democrats who mobilized in opposition to the possibility of slavery extending into the new western territories. The new party put forward a vision of modernizing the United States-emphasizing free homesteads to farmers (“free soil”), banking, railroads, and industry. They vigorously argued that free-market labor was superior to slavery and the very foundation of civic virtue and true republicanism, this is the “Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Men” ideology. The Republicans absorbed the previous traditions of its members, most of whom had been Whigs; others had been Democrats or members of third parties (especially the Free Soil Party and the American Party or Know Nothings). Many Democrats who joined up were rewarded with governorships. or seats in the U.S. Senate or House of Representatives. Since its inception, its chief opposition has been the Democratic Party, but the amount of flow back and forth of prominent politicians between the two parties was quite high from 1854 to 1896.

Two small cities of the Yankee diaspora, Ripon, Wisconsin and Jackson, Michigan, claim to be the birthplace of the Republican Party (in other words, meetings held there were some of the first 1854 anti-Nebraska assemblies to call themselves by the name “Republican”). Ripon held the first county convention on March 20, 1854. Jackson held the first statewide convention on July 6, 1854; it declared their new party opposed to the expansion of slavery into new territories and selected a state-wide slate of candidates. The Midwest took the lead in forming state party tickets, while the eastern states lagged a year or so. There were no efforts to organize the party in the South, apart from a few areas adjacent to free states. The party initially had its base in the Northeast and Midwest. The party launched its first national convention in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in February 1856, with its first national nominating convention held in the summer in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

John C. Fremont ran as the first Republican nominee for President in 1856, using the political slogan: “Free soil, free labor, free speech, free men, Fremont.” Although Fremont’s bid was unsuccessful, the party showed a strong base. It dominated in New England, New York and the northern Midwest, and had a strong presence in the rest of the North. It had almost no support in the South, where it was roundly denounced in 1856-60 as a divisive force that threatened civil war.

Historians have explored the ethnocultural foundations of the party, along the line that ethnic and religious groups set the moral standards for their members, who then carried those standards into politics. The churches also provided social networks that politicians used to sign up voters. The pietistic churches emphasized the duty of the Christian to purge sin from society. Sin took many forms-alcoholism, polygamy and slavery became special targets for the Republicans. The Yankees, who dominated New England, much of upstate New York, and much of the upper Midwest were the strongest supporters of the new party. This was especially true for the pietistic Congregationalists and Presbyterians among them and (during the war), the Methodists, along with Scandinavian Lutherans. The Quakers were a small tight-knit group that was heavily Republican. The liturgical churches (Roman Catholic, Episcopal, German Lutheran), by contrast, largely rejected the moralism of the Republican Party; most of their adherents voted Democratic.