Daily Archive: 05/21/2013

May 21 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.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

This is an Open Thread.

Chris in Paris and John Aravosis at Americablog gives us some good news on the aftermath of the deadly tornado in Moore, OK:

Then from John, the uglier side of this tragedy from the “Me, But Not For Thee” crowd:

Over at Corrente, lambert‘s marathon ObamaCare Clusterf**k continues with:

At FDL’s Newsdesk, DSWright fills us in on the news that we missed while the MSM is reporting the disaster. No, folks, the idiocy in politics and the changing canvas of the “Scandal-Gate” has not stopped:

From Jon Walker at FDL Action:

Kevin Gosztola continues his reporting on “Reporter- Gate” and the Bradley Manning trial at FDL’s The Dissenter:

From the many contributors at MyFDL:

From the contributors at Grist here are just a few of today’s really interesting features:

And finally, Charles P. Pierce gives Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse a Big Bravo. Both Charles and Atrios make note of a possible “band reunion” of sorts:

Bring the band back together.

   The president should announce that he has told the Justice Department to appoint an independent investigator with bulldog instincts and bipartisan credibility. The list of candidates could start with Kenneth Starr, who chased down the scandals, real and imagined, of the Clinton presidency.

They learned nothing.

The stupid just burns.

May 21 2013

Emanuel, Duncan, and Rhee’s Neoliberal War on Public Education- Chicago Fights Back

Marching in Chicago: Resisting Rahm Emanuel’s Neoliberal Savagery

By Henry A. Giroux, Truthout

Monday, 20 May 2013 10:16

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s current attempt to close down 54 public schools largely inhabited by poor minorities is one more example of a savage, racist neoliberal system at work that uses the politics of austerity and consolidation to further disenfranchise the unskilled young of the inner city. The hidden curriculum in this instance is not so invisible. Closing schools will result in massive layoffs, weakening the teachers unions. It will free up land that can be gentrified to attract middle-class voters, and it will once again prove that poor minority students, regardless of the hardships, if not danger, they will face as a result of such closings, are viewed as disposable – human waste to be relegated to the zones of terminal exclusion.  Not only are many teachers and parents concerned about displacing thousands of students to schools that do not offer any hope of educational improvement, but they are also concerned about the safety of the displaced children, many of whom “will have to walk through violent neighborhoods and go to school with other students who are considered enemies.”

This is not simply misguided policy, it is a racist script that makes clear that poor black youth are disposable and that their safety is irrelevant.  How else to explain the mayor’s plan to produce a Safe Passage Plan in which firefighters would be asked to patrol the new routes, even though they have made it clear that they are not trained for this type of special duty. That many of these children are poor black children trapped in under-resourced schools appears irrelevant to a mayor who takes his lead from politicians such as Barack Obama and Arnie Duncan, two educators who have simply reproduced the Bush educational reform playbook, i.e., more testing, demonize teachers, weaken unions, advocate for choice and charter schools, and turn public schools over to corporate hedge-fund managers and billionaires such as Bill Gates. Emanuel’s passionate zeal to downsize schools in impoverished black neighborhoods is matched only by his misdirected enthusiasm to lay out $195 million “on a basketball arena for DePaul University, a private Chicago university.”



What these three days of demonstrations must address is that without power over the conditions of their labor, teachers become pawns in a neoliberal politics in which they are deskilled, reduced to security guards, and work under conditions that transform education into a form of training.  High-stakes testing and its corresponding tactic of promoting cheating among administrators, putting into play the most degrading forms of competition, and its killing of the civic imagination is both a debased form of instrumental rationality and a reification of method – put another way, a kind of methodological madness.



The war being waged against Chicago Public schools, teachers and students is the product of a corporate ideology and pedagogy that numbs the mind and the soul, emphasizing repressive modes of learning that promote winning at all costs, learning how not to question authority, and disdaining the hard work of learning how to be thoughtful, critical, and attentive to the power relations that shape everyday life and the larger world. As learning is privatized, depoliticized, and reduced to teaching students how to be good consumers, any viable notions of the social, public values, citizenship and democracy wither and die.

May 21 2013

Emmanuel, Duncan, and Rhee’s Neoliberal War on Education- Chicago Fights Back

Marching in Chicago: Resisting Rahm Emanuel’s Neoliberal Savagery

By Henry A. Giroux, Truthout

Monday, 20 May 2013 10:16

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s current attempt to close down 54 public schools largely inhabited by poor minorities is one more example of a savage, racist neoliberal system at work that uses the politics of austerity and consolidation to further disenfranchise the unskilled young of the inner city. The hidden curriculum in this instance is not so invisible. Closing schools will result in massive layoffs, weakening the teachers unions. It will free up land that can be gentrified to attract middle-class voters, and it will once again prove that poor minority students, regardless of the hardships, if not danger, they will face as a result of such closings, are viewed as disposable – human waste to be relegated to the zones of terminal exclusion.  Not only are many teachers and parents concerned about displacing thousands of students to schools that do not offer any hope of educational improvement, but they are also concerned about the safety of the displaced children, many of whom “will have to walk through violent neighborhoods and go to school with other students who are considered enemies.”

This is not simply misguided policy, it is a racist script that makes clear that poor black youth are disposable and that their safety is irrelevant.  How else to explain the mayor’s plan to produce a Safe Passage Plan in which firefighters would be asked to patrol the new routes, even though they have made it clear that they are not trained for this type of special duty. That many of these children are poor black children trapped in under-resourced schools appears irrelevant to a mayor who takes his lead from politicians such as Barack Obama and Arnie Duncan, two educators who have simply reproduced the Bush educational reform playbook, i.e., more testing, demonize teachers, weaken unions, advocate for choice and charter schools, and turn public schools over to corporate hedge-fund managers and billionaires such as Bill Gates. Emanuel’s passionate zeal to downsize schools in impoverished black neighborhoods is matched only by his misdirected enthusiasm to lay out $195 million “on a basketball arena for DePaul University, a private Chicago university.”



What these three days of demonstrations must address is that without power over the conditions of their labor, teachers become pawns in a neoliberal politics in which they are deskilled, reduced to security guards, and work under conditions that transform education into a form of training.  High-stakes testing and its corresponding tactic of promoting cheating among administrators, putting into play the most degrading forms of competition, and its killing of the civic imagination is both a debased form of instrumental rationality and a reification of method – put another way, a kind of methodological madness.



The war being waged against Chicago Public schools, teachers and students is the product of a corporate ideology and pedagogy that numbs the mind and the soul, emphasizing repressive modes of learning that promote winning at all costs, learning how not to question authority, and disdaining the hard work of learning how to be thoughtful, critical, and attentive to the power relations that shape everyday life and the larger world. As learning is privatized, depoliticized, and reduced to teaching students how to be good consumers, any viable notions of the social, public values, citizenship and democracy wither and die.

May 21 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

Peter Sheer: Real Outrage Is That Surveillance of AP Reporters’ Calls Was Probably Legal

The real outrage about the Justice Department’s use of secret subpoenas for the phone records of Associated Press journalists is that, based on the information that has surfaced to date, it was probably legal.

Under federal law the Justice Department needs only a subpoena — a piece of paper that a U.S. Attorney generates unilaterally, without any court authorization — to obtain from phone companies and other service providers the call logs for customers. This includes essentially the same information you see on your monthly bill — numbers dialed, calls received, duration and times of calls.

Although federal prosecutors need a court’s OK to obtain the content of phone communications (and most, but not all, email communications), nothing in the relevant federal statute (the Stored Communications Act) requires a prosecutor to satisfy preconditions or to submit to judicial oversight when subpoenaing “metadata” associated with a phone number.

Robert Reich: Global Capital and the Nation State

As global capital becomes ever more powerful, giant corporations are holding governments and citizens up for ransom — eliciting subsidies and tax breaks from countries concerned about their nation’s “competitiveness” — while sheltering their profits in the lowest-tax jurisdictions they can find. Major advanced countries — and their citizens — need a comprehensive tax agreement that won’t allow global corporations to get away with this. [..]

Baloney. The fact is, global corporations have no allegiance to any country; their only objective is to make as much money as possible — and play off one country against another to keep their taxes down and subsidies up, thereby shifting more of the tax burden to ordinary people whose wages are already shrinking because companies are playing workers off against each other.

E. J. Dionne: Is Democracy in Trouble?

We know American politics are dysfunctional. But after a week of scandal obsession during which the nation’s capital and the media virtually ignored the problems most voters care about-jobs, incomes, growth, opportunity, education-it’s worth asking if there is something especially flawed about our democracy.

Our circumstances certainly have their own particular disabilities: a radicalization of conservative politics, over-the-top mistrust of President Obama on the right, high-tech gerrymandering in the House, and a Senate snarled by non-constitutional super-majority requirements.

Paul Buchheit: The Globalization of Hypocrisy

Big business has found its Utopia, a world in which millions of people are willing to work for a fraction of U.S. salaries.

In this dream world of global capitalism, young people are going from zero income on the farm to a few dollars a day on a 12-hour factory shift, and as a result, based on the World Bank’s poverty threshold of $1.25 per day, they’re no longer “in poverty.” So the media piles on praise for free markets. The Economist proclaimed that “poverty is declining everywhere.” The Washington Post gushed that “a billion people have been lifted from poverty through free-market competition.”

But the reality is very different. Inequality continues to grow, both between and within countries. Poverty levels haven’t changed much in 30 years, with almost half of humanity, up to three billion people, living on less than $2.50 a day. A quarter of the world’s children – over 170 million kids under age five – are growing up stunted because of malnutrition.

Thomas Hedges: What Will Tighter Restrictions on Trade in Iran Do?

A bipartisan team of U.S. senators has introduced a bill that would expand sanctions against Iran by targeting an estimated $100 billion worth of the country’s foreign currency reserves that are parked in overseas accounts. [..]

The new bill would sink Iran into its most severe era under U.S. sanctions, which were first enacted after the revolution in 1979. Restrictions on firms dealing with Iran were tightened in 1995 and then again in 2006. But the new measures, which would virtually eliminate Iran’s foreign currency reserves, are punitive enough, many say, to either topple the regime or spark another war in the Middle East.

Henry A. Giroux: Marching in Chicago: Resisting Rahm Emanuel’s Neoliberal Savagery

Across the globe, predatory capitalism spreads its gospel of power, greed, commodification, gentrification and inequality.  Through the combined forces of a market driven ideology, policy and mode of governance, the apostles of free-market capitalism are doing their best to dismantle historically guaranteed social provisions provided by the welfare state, define the accumulation of capital as the only obligation of democracy, increase the role of corporate money in politics, wage an assault on unions, expand the military-security state, increase inequalities in wealth and income, foster the erosion of civil liberties and undercut public faith in the defining institutions of democracy.1. As market mentalities and moralities tighten their grip on all aspects of society, democratic institutions and public spheres are being downsized, if not altogether disappearing. As these institutions vanish – from public schools to health-care centers – there is also a serious erosion of the discourses of community, justice, equality, public values and the common good. One does not have to look too far to see what happens in America’s neoliberal educational culture to see how ruthlessly the inequality of wealth, income and power bears down on those young people and brave teachers who are struggling every day to save the schools, unions and modes of pedagogy that offer hope at a time when schools have become just another commodity, students are reduced to clients or disposable populations, and teachers and their unions are demonized.

May 21 2013

On This Day In History May 21

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 image to enlarge

May 21 is the 141st day of the year (142nd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 224 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1881, the American Red Cross was established in Washington, D.C. by Clara Barton, who became the first president of the organization.

Clara Barton

Clara Barton (1821-1912) had a career as a teacher and federal bureaucrat when the American Civil War broke out. Barton liked teaching when she was younger. All of her older siblings became teachers. Her youngest sibling was 12 years of age, when Barton was born. Her brother David was always like a teacher to her. She taught her first class, at age 17. She also expanded her concept of soldier aid, traveling to Camp Parole, Maryland, to organize a program for locating men listed as missing in action. Through interviews with Federals returning from Southern prisons, she was often able to determine the status of some of the missing and notify families.

After performing humanitarian work during and after the conflict, on advice of her doctors, in 1869, she went to Europe for a restful vacation. There, she saw and became involved in the work of the International Red Cross during the Franco-Prussian War, and determined to bring the organization home with her to America.

When Barton began the organizing work in the U.S. in 1873, no one thought the country would ever again face an experience like the Civil War. However, Barton was not one to lose hope in the face of the bureaucracy, and she finally succeeded during the administration of President Chester A. Arthur on the basis that the new American Red Cross organization could also be available to respond to other types of crisis.

As Barton expanded the original concept of the Red Cross to include assisting in any great national disaster, this service brought the United States the “Good Samaritan of Nations” label in the International Red Cross. Barton became President of the American branch of the society, known officially as the American National Red Cross. Soon after the initial May 1881 meeting in Washington, on August 22, 1881, the first local chapter of the Red Cross was formed in village of Dansville, New York, where Barton kept a part-time residence between 1876 and 1886. Subsequent local chapters were established in Rochester and Syracuse. Ultimately, John D. Rockefeller, along with four others and the federal government, gave money to create a national headquarters in Washington, D.C., located one block from the White House.

May 21 2013

Obama’s Never Ending War

The Authorization to Use Military Force is a joint resolution passed by the United States Congress on September 14, 2001, authorizing the use of United States Armed Forces against those responsible for the attacks on September 11, 2001. During a hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Pentagon officials testified that the authorization would be needed for another 10 to 20 years and could be used anywhere from “Boston to FATA (Pakistan’s federally administered tribal areas).” According to the interpretation of these officials this could be done under the current AUMF without any further authorization from Congress. Those claims elicited disbelief, even from war hawk Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) who said, “For you to come here and say we don’t need to change it or revise or update it, I think is, well, disturbing.”

Indeed, but disturbing is an understatement, but none of the Senators suggested that the powers under the AUMF be dialed back.

Testifying before the committee on May 16 were Assistant Defense Secretary Michael Sheehan; Robert Taylor, the acting general counsel for the Department of Defense; Brig. Gen. Richard Gross, Legal Counsel, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; and Gen. Michael Nagata, Deputy Director for Special Operations/Counterterrorism, J-37, Joint Staff

This excerpt of the hearing from Democracy Now includes Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC); Robert Taylor, acting general counsel, Department of Defense; Michael Sheehan, assistant secretary of defense for special operations/low-intensity conflict, Department of Defense; and Sen. Angus King (I-Maine).



Transcript is here

From Glenn Greenwald at the Guardian on Pres. Obama’s permanent war on terror:

That the Obama administration is now repeatedly declaring that the “war on terror” will last at least another decade (or two) is vastly more significant than all three of this week’s big media controversies (Benghazi, IRS, and AP/DOJ) combined. The military historian Andrew Bacevich has spent years warning that US policy planners have adopted an explicit doctrine of “endless war”. Obama officials, despite repeatedly boasting that they have delivered permanently crippling blows to al-Qaida, are now, as clearly as the English language permits, openly declaring this to be so.

It is hard to resist the conclusion that this war has no purpose other than its own eternal perpetuation. This war is not a means to any end but rather is the end in itself. Not only is it the end itself, but it is also its own fuel: it is precisely this endless war – justified in the name of stopping the threat of terrorism – that is the single greatest cause of that threat. [..]

The genius of America’s endless war machine is that, learning from the unplesantness of the Vietnam war protests, it has rendered the costs of war largely invisible. That is accomplished by heaping all of the fighting burden on a tiny and mostly economically marginalized faction of the population, by using sterile, mechanized instruments to deliver the violence, and by suppressing any real discussion in establishment media circles of America’s innocent victims and the worldwide anti-American rage that generates.

Though rarely visible, the costs are nonetheless gargantuan. Just in financial terms, as Americans are told they must sacrifice Social Security and Medicare benefits and place their children in a crumbling educational system, the Pentagon remains the world’s largest employer and continues to militarily outspend the rest of the world by a significant margin. The mythology of the Reagan presidency is that he induced the collapse of the Soviet Union by luring it into unsustainable military spending and wars: should there come a point when we think about applying that lesson to ourselves?

Then there are the threats to Americans’ security. Having their government spend decades proudly touting itself as “A Nation at War” and bringing horrific violence to the world is certain to prompt more and more people to want to attack Americans, as the US government itself claims took place just recently in Boston (and as clearly took place multiple other times over the last several years). [..]

The Obama administration already claims the power to wage endless and boundless war, in virtually total secrecy, and without a single meaningful check or constraint. No institution with any power disputes this. To the contrary, the only ones which exert real influence – Congress, the courts, the establishment media, the plutocratic class – clearly favor its continuation and only think about how further to enable it. That will continue unless and until Americans begin to realize just what a mammoth price they’re paying for this ongoing splurge of war spending and endless aggression.

Harvard Law professor and former Bush DOJ official Jack Goldsmith, who also testified, wrote this at the end of his brief summery of the hearing:

My general impression of the hearing was that (1) DOD officials were very uncomfortable talking about how they interpret the AUMF and what groups are covered by it, (2) those officials interpret the AUMF very broadly, and (3) several members of the Committee were surprised by the breadth of DOD’s interpretation of the AUMF.  I came away thinking that Congress cannot address the problem of extra-AUMF threats until it gets a handle on how the AUMF is being interpreted and deployed.  I also came away thinking more than ever that Congress needs to re-engage in a serious way about the nature and scope of the conflict against al Qaeda and affiliates.  Amazingly, there is a very large question even in the Armed Services Committee about who the United States is at war against and where, and how those determinations are made.

The solutions are for Congress to repeal the AUMF or for the Supreme Court to declare it unconstitutional. Don’t hold your breath for either of those things happening.

May 21 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.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

This is an Open Thread.

Paul Krugman at his blog Conscious of a Liberal want to know Where Are The Deficit Celebrations?.

This is your Obama DOJ at work protecting us from an 83 year old nun and two pacifists, from transcriber at Corrente:

also from lambert:

From Gaius Publius at Americablog:

At Crooks and Liars, Mike Lux writes about foreclosure protestors demanding that Attorney General Holder hold the Wall Street Banks that ravaged America’s economy accountable:

From Suzie Madrak:

and by David:

At FDL Action, Jon Walker on health care:

Over at naked capitalism, Dan Kervick:

David Dayen:

From our friends at Voices on the Square:

by Robyn:

and JayeRaye:

And in case you hadn’t turned on the TV or Radio, a huge, deadly tornado swept through Moore, Oklahoma leveling the suburb of Oklahoma City.