Daily Archive: 05/13/2013

May 13 2013

Around the Blogosphere

The main purpose our blogging is to communicate our ideas, opinions, and stories both fact and fiction. The best part about the the blogs is information that we might not find in our local news, even if we read it online. Sharing that information is important, especially if it educates, sparks conversation and new ideas. We have all found places that are our favorites that we read everyday, not everyone’s are the same. The Internet is a vast place. Unlike Punting the Pundits which focuses on opinion pieces mostly from the mainstream media and the larger news web sites, “Around the Blogosphere” will focus more on the medium to smaller blogs and articles written by some of the anonymous and not so anonymous writers and links to some of the smaller pieces that don’t make it to “Pundits” by Krugman, Baker, etc.

We encourage you to share your finds with us. It is important that we all stay as well informed as we can.

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This is an Open Thread.

From Atrios, the scandal you won’t hear of today, or any other day:

Gaius Publius at Americablog, tells us how to become an activist by asking a question:

But just what is it that “we want”?

At Corrente, lambert‘s litany of the Obamacare Cluster F**k continues:

Patrick Cockburn, Counterpunch, gives a history of the similarities of Syria and Iraq:

Also at Counterpunch, Binoy Kampmark on the effect of drone attacks on US/Pakistan relations:

On the failing American health care system, and Obama’s FHFA nominee Mel Watts, Yves Smith at naked capitalism:

From Voices on the Square, contributors Cassiodurus and JayeRaye:

Jeralyn Merritt at TalkLeft, gives a peak at Dzokhar Tsarnaev’s conditions of confinement and the cost of a death penalty prosecution of Aurora Theater Shooting defendant James Holmes:

From Grist, Sarah Laskow bursts a healthy fast food myth:

and from Sarah Miller, what could be eating your house:

Charles P. Pierce in his wry wit at Esquire’s Politics Bog sums up the latest obsessions of the Sunday talking heads and the latest in the bizarre world of Rand Paul:

May 13 2013

Austerity Still An Issue. Why?

Austerity was thoroughly trounced by a couple of university grad students who discovered major omissions in the much touted study by a couple of Pete Peterson’s paid cronies. So why are we still even talking about it? Good question that no one so far has asked our fearless leader in Washington.

Up host Steve Kornacki discussed whether the elite consensus on austerity has started to shift and if there is any effect on the opinions in Washington. His guests Josh Barro, Columnist, Bloomberg View; Jared Bernsein, former economic adviser to V.P. Joe biden; Lori Montgomery, Economic Policy Reporter, The Washington Post; and Heather McGhee, Vice President, Demos; examine the lessons that can be learned from Europe’s austerity experience and what the US economy will look like if it continues on the austerity path. The panel also discussed how conservative have backed away from cuts to Social Security shifting their focus to tax reform, controlling spending through cost efficient measures and the roadblocks to getting it done.

May 13 2013

Un-American

Cornel West: ‘They say I’m un-American’

Hugh Muir, The Guardian

Sunday 12 May 2013

“We elected a black president and that means we are less racist now than we used to be. That’s beautiful. But when you look at the prison industrial complex and the new Jim Crow: levels of massive unemployment and the decrepit unemployment system, indecent housing: white supremacy is still operating in the US, even with a brilliant black face in a high place called the White House. He is a brilliant, charismatic black brother. He’s just too tied to Wall Street. And at this point he is a war criminal. You can’t meet every Tuesday with a killer list and continually have drones drop bombs. You can do that once or twice and say: ‘I shouldn’t have done that, I’ve got to stop.’ But when you do it month in, month out, year in, year out – that’s a pattern of behaviour. I think there is a chance of a snowball in hell that he will ever be tried, but I think he should be tried and I said the same about George Bush. These are war crimes. We suffer in this age from an indifference toward criminality and a callousness to catastrophe when it comes to poor and working people.”

Can you not cut the president some slack, I ask? Think of what he faced. What did you expect? “I worked to get him elected,” he says, almost indignant. “And I would do it again because the alternative was so much worse. But at the same time, I have to be able to tell the truth. I thought he was going to be a dyed-in-the-wool liberal rather than a weak centrist. I thought he would actually move towards healthcare with a public option. I thought he was going to try to bail out homeowners as he bailed out banks. I thought he would try to hit the issue of poverty head-on.”

He and Obama, the first-time candidate, talked. And then West attended 65 events drumming up support. “He talked about Martin Luther King over and over again as he ran. King died fighting not just against poverty but against carpet-bombing in Vietnam; the war crimes under Nixon and Kissinger. You can’t just invoke Martin Luther King like that and not follow through on his priorities in some way. I knew he would have rightwing opposition, but he hasn’t tried. When he came in, he brought in Wall Street-friendly people – Tim Geithner, Larry Summers – and made it clear he had no intention of bailing out homeowners, supporting trade unions. And he hasn’t said a mumbling word about the institutions that have destroyed two generations of young black and brown youth, the new Jim Crow, the prison industrial complex. It’s not about race. It is about commitment to justice. He should be able to say that in the last few years, with the shift from 300,000 inmates to 2.5 million today, there have been unjust polices and I intend to do all I can. Maybe he couldn’t do that much. But at least tell the truth. I would rather have a white president fundamentally dedicated to eradicating poverty and enhancing the plight of working people than a black president tied to Wall Street and drones.”

May 13 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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Joseph E. Stiglitz: Student Debt and the Crushing of the American Dream

A CERTAIN drama has become familiar in the United States (and some other advanced industrialized countries): Bankers encourage people to borrow beyond their means, preying especially on those who are financially unsophisticated. They use their political influence to get favorable treatment of one form or another. Debts mount. Journalists record the human toll. Then comes bewilderment: How could we let this happen again? Officials promise to fix things. Something is done about the most egregious abuses. People move on, reassured that the crisis has abated, but suspecting that it will recur soon.

The crisis that is about to break out involves student debt and how we finance higher education. Like the housing crisis that preceded it, this crisis is intimately connected to America’s soaring inequality, and how, as Americans on the bottom rungs of the ladder strive to climb up, they are inevitably pulled down – some to a point even lower than where they began.

New York Times Editorial Board: Who Can Take Republicans Seriously?

It is time for President Obama to abandon his hopes of reaching a grand budget bargain with Republicans.

At every opportunity since they took over the House in 2011, Republicans have made it clear that they have no interest in reaching a compromise with the White House. For two years, they held sham negotiations with Democrats that only dragged down the economy with cuts; this year, they are refusing even to sit down at the table.

Mr. Obama hasn’t given up inviting the Republicans to join him in making the hard choices of governing, but he has been rebuffed each time. This year, in hopes of getting some support for modest tax increases on the rich, he even proposed a reduction in the cost-of-living increases for Social Security recipients. The events of the last few weeks should make it clear to him why that offer should be pulled from the table immediately.

Robert Kuttner: Munich on the Potomac: The Republican Take-No-Prisoners Strategy — and Obama’s Conciliation

Republicans in both Houses of Congress are becoming more and more flagrant in their strategy of holding the governing process hostage for far-right demands not shared by most voters. And the pity is that the strategy is mostly working.

The more that the Obama Administration tries to meet the Republicans half way, the more extreme and implacable their demands become. [..]

Obama’s term still has more than three and a half years to run and Democrats still have a 55-45 majority in the Senate, but the Republicans are treating him like the lamest of lame ducks. It should be clear by now — meeting these people halfway only whets their appetite.

Richard (RJ) Eskow: Will Bankers at JPMorgan Chase Finally Pay for Their Misdeeds?

Will California Attorney General Kamala Harris hang tough in her new lawsuit against JPMorgan Chase, the first to target individual bankers accused of defrauding the public? If so, it would be the first time in five years that executives at a major bank have personally paid a price for their misdeeds. [..]

And if this is merely another publicity stunt, she needs to know that a choreographed cave-in will be very poorly received by her constituents.

Harris therefore deserves strong expressions of support, along with statements that citizens expect her to see this action through — at least far enough to ensure that the malefactors involved pay some personal penalty for their misdeeds.

Mary Bottari: Ghost in the Machine: Pete Peterson Haunts College Campuses

An odd couple made an appearance on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus recently: Tea Party Senator Ron Johnson and Madison’s progressive Congressman Mark Pocan. The two were invited to participate in a conversation about the national debt hosted by a local student organization and a bevy of national groups, including  the Comeback America Initiative, the Concord Coalition, the Can Kicks Back, and The Campaign to Fix the Debt. On the agenda: debt, deficits, and the economy. [..]

But the most telling sentence of the meeting was one of the first. The student sponsors thanked Mark Graul and Stephanie Kundert of Arena Strategy (a local PR firm) for their help in setting up the event.

No one in the room appeared to catch the fact that they all were participating in an elaborate public relations ruse, set up by well-known Wisconsin spinmeister (Graul) whose claim to fame is a racist attack ad on a sitting judge, and orchestrated by a Wall Street billionaire whose name was never mentioned in the two-hour “teach-in.”

Take a bow, Pete Peterson — $500 million can buy you a lot of good feelings and positive press.

Richard Reeves: We Are Family

In sifting through the election returns of last year, some of the clueless Republicans and conservatives did get some clues. Losing focused their minds for a bit.

Last week, one of the stars of the “soft” right, David Brooks of The New York Times, wrote a wake-up column with implications for readers who not only do not much like dark-skinned immigration, but are also hostile to such kindling issues as gay marriage and abortion. They seem incapable of understanding, once more, that these are family issues. Gays and women who choose abortion are our relatives. They are in our families. We love them-even Republican senators with gay children love them-and we don’t like seeing them pushed around by our government. The Republicans like to talk about “family values,” but they certainly don’t appreciate some of them.

E. J. Dionne, Jr.: ‘Slow-Motion Mass Murders’

Public officials are very selective about when violence and death matter.

Massacres and terrorist incidents cannot be ignored, but the day-to-day toll from gun violence is often swept aside. Politicians who tout themselves as advocates of law and order don’t want to be unmasked as caring even more about their ratings from gun lobbyists.

And opponents of the most moderate gun reforms engage in a shameless game of bait-and-switch. Because measures such as background checks would not stop every murder, they’re declared useless even though they’d still save lives. Then the gun lobby turns around and opposes other measures, such as a ban on high-capacity magazines, which could prevent some of the killings that background checks might not.

May 13 2013

On This Day In History May 13

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

May 13 is the 133rd day of the year (134th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 232 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1846, the United States declared war on Mexico in a dispute over Texas. The U.S. Congress overwhelmingly votes in favor of President James K. Polk‘s request.

The Mexican-American War (or Mexican War) was an armed conflict between the United States and Mexico from 1846 to 1848 in the wake of the 1845 U.S. annexation of Texas, which Mexico considered part of its territory despite the 1836 Texas Revolution.

Origins of the war

The Mexican government had long warned the United States that annexation would mean war. Because the Mexican congress had refused to recognize Texan independence, Mexico saw Texas as a rebellious territory that would be retaken. Britain and France, which recognized the independence of Texas, repeatedly tried to dissuade Mexico from declaring war. When Texas joined the U.S. as a state in 1845, the Mexican government broke diplomatic relations with the U.S.

The Texan claim to the Rio Grande boundary had been omitted from the annexation resolution to help secure passage after the annexation treaty failed in the Senate. President Polk claimed the Rio Grande boundary, and this provoked a dispute with Mexico. In June 1845, Polk sent General Zachary Taylor to Texas, and by October 3,500 Americans were on the Nueces River, prepared to defend Texas from a Mexican invasion. Polk wanted to protect the border and also coveted the continent clear to the Pacific Ocean. Polk had instructed the Pacific naval squadron to seize the California ports if Mexico declared war while staying on good terms with the inhabitants. At the same time he wrote to Thomas Larkin, the American consul in Monterey, disclaiming American ambitions but offering to support independence from Mexico or voluntary accession to the U.S., and warning that a British or French takeover would be opposed.

To end another war-scare (Fifty-Four Forty or Fight) with Britain over Oregon Country, Polk signed the Oregon Treaty dividing the territory, angering northern Democrats who felt he was prioritizing Southern expansion over Northern expansion.

In the winter of 1845-46, the federally commissioned explorer John C. Fremont and a group of armed men appeared in California. After telling the Mexican governor and Larkin he was merely buying supplies on the way to Oregon, he instead entered the populated area of California and visited Santa Cruz and the Salinas Valley, explaining he had been looking for a seaside home for his mother. The Mexican authorities became alarmed and ordered him to leave. Fremont responded by building a fort on Gavilan Peak and raising the American flag. Larkin sent word that his actions were counterproductive. Fremont left California in March but returned to California and assisted the Bear Flag Revolt in Sonoma, where many American immigrants stated that they were playing “the Texas game” and declared California’s independence from Mexico.

On November 10, 1845, Polk sent John Slidell, a secret representative, to Mexico City with an offer of $25 million ($632,500,000 today) for the Rio Grande border in Texas and Mexico’s provinces of Alta California and Santa Fe de Nuevo Mexico. U.S. expansionists wanted California to thwart British ambitions in the area and to gain a port on the Pacific Ocean. Polk authorized Slidell to forgive the $3 million ($76 million today) owed to U.S. citizens for damages caused by the Mexican War of Independence and pay another $25 to $30 million ($633 million to $759 million today) in exchange for the two territories.

Mexico was not inclined nor able to negotiate. In 1846 alone, the presidency changed hands four times, the war ministry six times, and the finance ministry sixteen times. However, Mexican public opinion and all political factions agreed that selling the territories to the United States would tarnish the national honor. Mexicans who opposed direct conflict with the United States, including President José Joaquin de Herrera, were viewed as traitors. Military opponents of de Herrera, supported by populist newspapers, considered Slidell’s presence in Mexico City an insult. When de Herrera considered receiving Slidell to settle the problem of Texas annexation peacefully, he was accused of treason and deposed. After a more nationalistic government under General Mariano Paredes y Arrillaga came to power, it publicly reaffirmed Mexico’s claim to Texas; Slidell, convinced that Mexico should be “chastised”, returned to the U.S.

May 13 2013

Happy Mother’s Day

A DocuDharma tradition now on The Stars Hollow Gazette

clip flowerI tease my mother by calling her Emily after Emily Gilmore both because overall my family reminds me very much of the Gilmores and because she’s never met a brand name she didn’t like whereas I’m perfectly content to buy generic.

I thank her among many things for a thorough grounding in the domestic and other arts.

Mom teaches first grade and is actually famous in a quiet sort of way.  The kind parents brag about and angle their kids for though she’s won national awards too.  Of course I owe everything I know about educating to her and among my own peers I’m considered an asskicking trainer.

She also insisted we learn to perform routine self maintenance, little things like laundry and ironing, machine and hand mending. basic cooking.  Of course she always indulged us with trips to museums and zoos, made sure we got library cards, did the usual bus driver thing to swim practice, had this huge second career as a Brownie/Girl Scout Leader for my sister.

At one point when I was old enough for it to make an impression she took her Masters of Fine Arts in Art of all things, so I know a little Art History with Far Eastern.  I understand how to bang out a copper pot and make silver rings because she took me to class once or twice.  She liked stained glass so much that she and dad made several pieces (you use a soldering iron and can cut yourself pretty bad so it’s a macho thing too).  They also did silk screening which taught me a lot about layout and graphic arts.

But she always liked fabric arts and in addition to a framed three dimensional piece in the living room, there are Afghans and rugs and scarves and pot holders and wash cloths and hats and quilts and dolls.

And the training kits and manuals for her mentorship programs, and the adaptations and costumes for the annual first and fifth grade play.  Did I mention she plays 3 instruments, though mostly piano?

She touch types too.

So to Emily, a woman of accomplishment and refinement, Happy Mother’s Day.

May 13 2013

How to Better Honor Mothers

SOPA Reddit Warrior photo refresh31536000resize_h150resize_w1.jpgColumnist, Richard (RJ) Eskow wrote a humorously helpful article at Huffington Poat honoring his mother’s wish not to send her a card on Mothers’ Day. She, like me, thinks it’s a “phony holiday designed to boost profits for Hallmark Cards.”. So if your mom is like me and RJ’s mom, here are his helpful suggestions that every Mom will love you for:

1. Tell our leaders to stop talking about budget cuts.

I don’t know about you, but my mother and father always told me: If you do something stupid and bad things happen, don’t do it again. It aggravates many of America’s mothers when this advice isn’t followed. [..]

Mother wouldn’t like that. So write them and tell them you want them to stop.

2. Demand that Congress repeal the sequester.

The sequester is a remarkably stupid policy, even by today’s degraded standards. It has already cost the country a lot of lost jobs, and has shrunk the economy at a time when government should be investing in its growth. [..]

Congress needs to repeal this numbskull grab-bag of destructive cuts and invest in growth instead. The President needs to stop using “I’ve got a smarter austerity plan” argument and start arguing forcefully for jobs and growth. If he refuses, other Democrats need to step up to the plate as the Congressional Progressive Caucus and a handful of others have done. [..]

You can go here to drop a Mom-centric message to Congress: Repeal the nitwit sequester once and for all.

3. Demand more education funding, rather than less.

Mothers and fathers also care about their children’s education, and funds for education are being slashed. We need to hire more teachers, stop trying to siphon education money off to private corporations, provide our schools with adequate supplies, and rebuild the ones that are in bad shape. [..]

4. Insist that Congress create jobs — for the young, for our crumbling infrastructure, for the future.

Those crumbling schools need workers to rebuild them. So do our crumbling roads, bridges, and other infrastructure. [..]

5. Tell Congress not to pass the president’s destructive Social Security cut. (It’s also a tax hike.)

The most cynical con in this country is the idea that cutting Social Security cost-of-living adjustments — through the president’s proposed “chained CPI” — is being done to protect “the younger generations” from “greedy geezers.” [..]

And that’s no way to talk to your mother.

6. Support the fast food and retail workers’ strike.

Low-wage workers went on strike last week in New York, and the walkout is spreading like wildfire: first to New York, then Chicago, then to St. Louis, and now to Detroit. Terrance Heath has a good write-up on working conditions in Detroit. [..]

7. Contact Congress and demand they raise the minimum wage.

The minimum wage has failed to keep pace with inflation, depriving generations of Americans of a decent life. If it had kept pace with inflation, it would be more than $16 per hour by now. [..]

You can go here to sign a petition demanding an up-or-down vote on the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013.

RJ finishes the piece with reminder of how this day to honor our mother’s began and it’s true meaning:

Postscript: Mother’s Work Day

Julia Ward Howe, who wrote The Battle Hymn of the Republic, was the one who first popularized the idea of Mother’s Day. She got the idea from Anna Jarvis, an Appalachian housewife who organized “Mother’s Work Days” to provide sanitary conditions for troops on both sides of the Civil War. Jarvis went on to promote worker health and safety issues, as well as reconciliation between Northern and Southern soldiers.

There’s a different kind of Civil War being waged today. It’s a Class War, and the wealthy are waging it on the rest of us. As we’ve said before, the class war is a war on women. It’s time to take action against this economic assault on all women, including the Mothers of America. What better day to rededicate ourselves to that struggle than Mother’s Day?

So tell your family, friends and neighbors to pressure our elected officials to do the right thing for our mothers. And as RJ said, when you call your representatives, “tell ’em your Mother sent you.”

Yeah, really make my day.