Daily Archive: 06/04/2013

Jun 04 2013

Around the Blogosphere

 photo Winter_solstice.gifThe 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.

It takes a gay man to point out the ludicrous hypocrisy and blatant slap in the face to women of the panel of witnesses at this morning’s hearing on military sexual assaults before the Senate Armed Services Committee. From John Aravosis at Americablog:

In a brazen slap in the face to women in the military, the Senate Armed Services Committee – run by Democrats, mind you – invited 18 opponents of legislation addressing sexual assault to testify at a hearing today, while inviting only 2 witnesses who support the sexual assault legislation, and no sexual assault victims at all to testify.

The picture says it all:

Senate Military Sexual Assault Hearing photo a70b4de499234e509e1c5af0a1311205-88_zpsa63c095b.jpg

Click on image for the full impact.

At Dependable Renegade, watertiger offers her thoughts on Sen. Saxby Chamblis’ “hormone level created by nature” defense of for rapes in the military for rapes in the military:

What do you call a giant anal sphincter wrapped in worsted wool, ignorance and the American flag?  [..]

Remember, this is the guy who (1) avoided serving in Vietnam, and who (2) won election by calling Max Max Cleland, a decorated war veteran who sacrificed mightily for his country, unpatriotic. IOW, Chambliss is a scumbag of the highest order. Asshole Emeritus, even. And a sexist douchebag, to boot. What a guy.

At Corrente, hipparchia has an idea on how to elect more and better Democrats to Congress:

Take a page from the Republican play book: have your candidates for office sign a pledge and then hold them to it.

The pledge? Bring back pork barrel spending. Bring home the Federal dollars to your district or state. Tax the rich to pay for it.

It’s not really a true jobs guarantee program, and it would be a far far better thing if they spend the money on stuff we really need, but even bridges to nowhere provide jobs, plus they’re less morally objectionable than, say, drone manufacturing.

Jim White, at emptywheel, reports of the arrest of an Afghan colonel implicated in atrocities committed by a “shady character” known as Zakaria Kandahari, the CIA and a U.S. special forces team:

In another article at ProPublica, Cora Currier reports “on the death of hundreds, possibly thousands, of Taliban prisoners of war at the hands of U.S.-allied Afghan forces in late 2001.”

I think you know the answer to that question. It’s why John Kiriakou is in prison:

After Obama pledged in 2009 to look into the case, a parallel inquiry was begun the next year in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, chaired by current Secretary of State John Kerry.

The fate of that investigation is also unclear. The lead investigator, John Kiriakou, was a former CIA officer who was caught up in a criminal leak prosecution and is now in prison. Other Senate staffers could not provide details on Kiriakou’s efforts. Physicians for Human Rights says contact from the committee fizzled out within a year.

Over at Paul Krugman‘s blog Conscious of a Liberal, Paul was at the Princeton commencement this morning. His nephew graduated. Who knew that they still teach Latin?

(T)he high point so far was the Latin salutation, which was apparently – judging from the reactions of those who understood it – a spectacularly funny stand-up routine. Who knew? [..]

Shirley Tilghman has been a great university president, but even I can tell that she speaks Latin with a very Canadian accent.

And this post on Josh Barro’s attempt at being a reasonable conservative and the unintended consequences of the GOP’s Moral Derpitude.

It must be “Pick on Josh Barro Day.” Atrios takes his turn at Eschaton:

On the twitterz earlier Josh Barro wrote:

   Liberals love the ARC tunnel that Chris Christie killed bc they love anything with rails, but it was a dumb, overly expensive project.

snip

I’d rather have a $10 billion pair of tunnels than spend $10 billion on equipment the military doesn’t even want. That probably isn’t a choice, either, but we do the latter all of the time. We shouldn’t get “sensible” when the former is an option.

but he did like Josh’s Erickson bashing.

A couple of interesting posts at Yves Smith‘s site, naked capitalism:

The final words go to Charles Pierce at Esquire’s Politics Blog for pointing out this interview with Pentagon Papers whistleblower, Daniel Ellsberg, on MSNBC’s The Cycle about the opening day of PFC Bradley Manning’s court martial.

Ellsberg wasn’t buying the made-to-order prosecutorial three-rail shot from Manning to WikiLeaks to Osama bin Laden.

   “It seems absurd and I would say outrageous to say that giving information to the American public and through WikiLeaks to the world and it indicates nothing more than it does give comfort to our actual enemies…these are commentaries on the policies that are actually shameful. I would like to see the people who participated in the atrocities Bradley Manning exposed investigated.”

He’s still pretty sharp.

 

Jun 04 2013

Who says Austerity Doesn’t Work?

Transcript

Transcript

An Austerity Success Story in Slovenia

By Megan Greene, Bloomberg News

Jun 3, 2013 6:00 PM ET

Slovenia was among the first euro-area nations to run afoul of the macroeconomic imbalance procedure, a mechanism created in 2011 to monitor compliance with the currency union’s new rules. In April, the EU flagged the country’s high degree of corporate indebtedness. More than half of bank loans in Slovenia are to the nonfinancial corporate sector. Of these, more than 30 percent are nonperforming.

The Slovenian government responded with an ambitious reform program. Among other things, it pledged to inject 900 million euros ($1.18 billion) of capital into its three largest banks, and to move soured assets from these lenders to a bad bank, the Bank Asset Management Company, starting in June. Slovenian Finance Minister Uros Cufer also agreed to bring in an external auditing company to conduct an asset-quality review of the nation’s banks and to verify the size of the hole in this sector.

To raise money for the bank recapitalization, the Slovenian government announced it would sell 15 state-owned enterprises. This is even more ambitious than the Portuguese privatization program, widely considered to be the model for struggling euro-area governments.



Even in the worst-case scenario, the cost of recapitalizing the banks and funding the bad bank amounts to no more than about 10 percent of Slovenia’s gross domestic product. This would increase the government’s debt burden to about 75 percent of GDP, still less than that of most other euro-area governments, including Germany.

That said, the trends in Slovenia are worrisome. Public debt has more than doubled from 22 percent of GDP in 2008 to almost 55 percent in 2012. This is partly because an economic slump, expected to continue for at least another year, has been eroding the denominator, GDP. The share of nonperforming corporate loans at Slovenia’s three largest banks tripled from about 10 percent in 2009 to 30 percent in 2012. The banks’ distress will keep cutting into lending, pushing still more corporate borrowers to the brink.

Jun 04 2013

The Trial of Bradley Manning Begins

After three years, the court martial of PFC Bradley Manning, charged with leaking of sensitive information to WikiLeaks, began in Fort Meade in Maryland, yesterday. The proceeding, before a judge,  Colonel Denise Lind, could take as long as three months with over 200 scheduled witnesses. IT began with Judge Lind, asking Manning to confirm his decision not to have the case decided by a jury, and if he was satisfied with his defense team, to which, he answered, “Yes, your honor.” Opening statements began with the prosecution’s statement by government lawyer, Captain Joe Morrow.

“This is not a case about a few documents … or about a government official who made a discrete leak,” Morrow said. “It was about dumping hundreds of thousands of classified information into the lap of the enemy. PFC Manning violated the trust of his superiors to gain the notoriety he craved.”

In his opening statement, defense lawyer, David Coombs, gave a starkly different picture of Manning, describing him as a humanist, “young, naive, but good intentioned”.

Coombs referred to a separate set of web chats that Manning had with a transgender woman called Lauren McNamara, who was at the time a man, before the soldier deployed. The chats showed that Manning felt “a huge amount of pressure to do everything he could to help his unit”, Manning said. “He was reading more into politics and philosophy and he indicated he was doing that as he wanted to give the best possible information to his commander and possibly save lives,” Coombs said.

But Manning’s mindset changed dramatically on Christmas Eve, 2009. Manning was ordered to investigate a roadside bomb attack on a passing US military convoy near the base. [..]

“After the 24 December incident he started to struggle. He kept thinking about that family who had pulled over in their car to let the convoy go by,” Coombs said, adding that Manning also had ” a very internal private struggle with his gender”.

The impact of those struggles instilled in Manning a need to “do something to make a difference in this world”, Manning said. “From that moment forward he started selecting information that he believed the public should hear and see, information that would make the world a better place.”

At emptywheel, Marcy Wheel examined the document that the government is using to prosecute Manning. She doesn’t this it says what the government is claiming:

The report itself is actually ambiguous about whether or not our adversaries were using WikiLeaked data. It both presents it as a possibility that we didn’t currently have intelligence on, then presumes it. [..]

If this document is proof Manning should have known (the conflicting statements notwithstanding) that leaking to WikiLeaks would amount to leaking to our adversaries, it’s also proof that DOD knew they had an INFOSEC problem that might lead to leaked information, one they pointedly didn’t address.

But I’m also amused by one of the case studies in the danger of leaked WikiLeaks information: that it might be used to suggest DOD is getting gouged by our contractors working on JIEDDO, our counter-IED program. [..]

To sum up: not only doesn’t this report assert that leaking to WikiLeaks amounts to leaking to our adversaries; on the contrary, the report identifies that possibility as a data gap. But it also provides several pieces of support for the necessity of something like WikiLeaks to report government wrongdoing.

In an interview on Democracy Now with Amy Goodman, Firedoglake reporter Kevin Gosztola, who is at Ft. Meade covering the trial, and attorney Chase Madar, author of “The Passion of Bradley Manning,” discussed the start of the court martial and the secrecy that will surround much of the testimony under the guise of “national security.”



Transcript can be read here

Over at FDL’s The Dissenter, Kevin Gosztola summarizes the opeing statement of the prosecution and defense and provides regular Live Updates:

Here is the link for today’s Live Update and Julian Assange’s statement on the first day of the trial:

To convict Bradley Manning, it will be necessary for the US government to conceal crucial parts of his trial. Key portions of the trial are to be conducted in secrecy: 24 prosecution witnesses will give secret testimony in closed session, permitting the judge to claim that secret evidence justifies her decision. But closed justice is no justice at all.

What cannot be shrouded in secrecy will be hidden through obfuscation. The remote situation of the courtroom, the arbitrary and discretionary restrictions on access for journalists, and the deliberate complexity and scale of the case are all designed to drive fact-hungry reporters into the arms of official military PR men, who mill around the Fort Meade press room like over-eager sales assistants. The management of Bradley Manning’s case will not stop at the limits of the courtroom. It has already been revealed that the Pentagon is closely monitoring press coverage and social media discussions on the case.

This is not justice; never could this be justice. The verdict was ordained long ago. Its function is not to determine questions such as guilt or innocence, or truth or falsehood. It is a public relations exercise, designed to provide the government with an alibi for posterity. It is a show of wasteful vengeance; a theatrical warning to people of conscience.

After the screening of Jeremy Scahill’s documentary, “Dirty Wars,” in Washington, DC Friday night, Kevin asked Jeremy for his thoughts on Bradley’s trial.

Jun 04 2013

Business As Usual

First of all I know the hypocritical concern about government debt and deficits is a pile of steaming, stinky manure.

That said I think we can all agree that subsidizing businesses that are already making incredible profits and paying their executives princely sums is a huge waste of money that could easily be spent on worthwhile things like bridges and public transportation, teachers and firemen and police; and this is true whether it’s the mere Billions that go to Gas and Oil or the Military Industrial Complex, or the TRILLIONS the Banksters tap at the Fed Discount Window.

Or even the paltry $500 Million that Bass Pro Shops get from State and Municipal Governments in tax breaks and infrastructure improvements for stores and jobs that never materialize.

In case you are unfamiliar with this enterprise, it’s basically the WalMart of outdoorsy stuff with the added kick of upscale presentation like indoor fishing ponds, the kind of place you can pick up your cammo and canoe in one stop.

You can also buy a Glock with a 40 round clip and some armor piercing or hollow points to fill them for huntin’ varmints.

All in all a triumph of entrepreneurial capitalism with annual sales of some $2.6 Billion and worth almost $3 Billion, all privately held by John L. Miller.

Bass Pro Billionaire Building Megastores With Boats, Guns

By Seth Lubove, Bloomberg News

Jun 3, 2013 4:55 PM ET

Bass Pro’s critics complain about the company’s practice of accepting municipal subsidies to build megastores in their communities, often with the understanding they would create jobs or increase tax revenue.

The Public Accountability Initiative, a Buffalo, New York-based research group, estimated in a 2010 report that Bass Pro-anchored retail projects had won more than $500 million in taxpayer subsidies.



“Far from being surefire, Disney World-type attractions, Bass Pro stores often fail to spur growth and do not produce outsize economic advantages for the cities that subsidize their arrival,” the Public Accountability Initiative said in its report.



In Buffalo, Bass Pro was poised to receive subsidies of $35 million to build a store in Canal Side, a 20-acre historic area, according to the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp. After nine years of talks, the company pulled out in July 2010, following the Public Accountability Initiative report and a lawsuit filed against the company and municipal agencies by a group of citizens complaining about the subsidies.

“It’s sort of funny because they had had a lot of success in the local media in getting their story out,” said Kevin Connor, director of the Public Accountability Initiative.

Bass Pro said in its statement to Bloomberg News that because of “development challenges,” it gave up after spending $1 million in a good faith effort to locate in Buffalo.

The criticism was revived this year in Florida’s Hillsborough County, where commissioners debated whether to spend $6.25 million on road improvements to attract a Bass Pro store to Brandon. They approved the deal in February, despite complaints by small businesses that a larger competitor was being subsidized by the government.

Oh and his hiring practices are also discriminatory-

Bass Pro was sued in 2011 by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which accused the company of discrimination against blacks and Hispanics in its hiring. While Morris isn’t named as a defendant, he’s accused in the complaint of condoning the hiring practices.

According to the third amended complaint filed in federal court in Houston on April 15, out of 14,374 employees hired during the EEOC’s administrative investigation, only 995, or 6.9 percent, were black. Only 8.4 percent, or 1,207, were Hispanic. Its investigation period ranged from 2005 to 2009, although it varied for certain stores.

Jun 04 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

New York Times Editorial Board: DNA and Suspicionless Searches

The federal government and 28 states currently permit DNA collection before conviction. The decision severely undermines fundamental Fourth Amendment principles that protect individuals against unjustified searches and incursions on privacy by law enforcement.

Justice Antonin Scalia, writing the dissent that was joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, eviscerated the logic of the majority opinion.

“The court’s assertion that DNA is being taken, not to solve crimes, but to identify those in the state’s custody, taxes the credulity of the credulous,” he said. “Solving unsolved crimes is a noble objective, but it occupies a lower place in the American pantheon of noble objectives than the protection of our people from suspicionless law-enforcement searches.”

That has been a bedrock rule in court decisions about the Fourth Amendment, Justice Scalia explained, which the majority has cast aside.

Dean Baker: Recession culprits? Start with Alan Greenspan and Jean-Claude Trichet

The US Federal Reserve and European Central Bank heads played large roles in the crisis, yet they collect public pensions

The economies of the United States and Europe are seeing their worst downturn since the Great Depression. Tens of millions of people are unemployed or underemployed. This has led to millions losing their homes, their access to health care, and, in some cases, their lives.

Remarkably, the two individuals who bear the greatest responsibility for this disaster, former Federal Reserve Board chairman Alan Greenspan former president of the European Central Bank Jean-Claude Trichet, do not appear to be suffering at all for their failure. Both are living comfortably and continue to be sought out for their expertise on economic policy. This should infuriate reasonable people everywhere.

Bloomberg Editorial Board: Denying Immigrants Health Care Is Cruel Politics

As if immigration and health-care reform aren’t sufficiently daunting in their own rights, the two issues are now joined.

Last week, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved a bill that would give the roughly 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. a chance to become citizens. Immigrants who meet a series of conditions would be granted provisional legal status, allowing them to work in the country legally.

The legislation would prevent those immigrants from receiving federal benefits for at least 10 years. The prohibition includes qualifying for Medicaid and getting federal subsidies to purchase health insurance.

Excluding such immigrants from government health assistance has its appeal. Although the cost of extending such benefits is hard to estimate — the Congressional Budget Office hasn’t analyzed the issue — it’s likely to be expensive. In addition, some critics view subsidies for immigrants as a perverse reward for breaking immigration laws.

Eugene Robinson: Too Juvenile to Govern

Washington – With budgetary tantrums in the Senate and investigative play-acting in the House, the Republican Party is proving once again that it simply cannot be taken seriously.

This is a shame. I don’t share the GOP’s philosophy, but I do believe that competition makes both of our major parties smarter. I also believe that a big, complicated country facing economic and geopolitical challenges needs a government able to govern.

What we don’t need is the steady diet of obstruction, diversion and gamesmanship that Republicans are trying to ram down the nation’s throat. It’s not as if President Obama and the Democrats are doing everything right. It’s just that the GOP shrinks from doing anything meaningful at all.

Mark Vorpahl: Quantitative Crisis: Bernanke’s “Stimulus” for the 1%

When I heard that Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke told Congress last week that it was too soon for the Fed to end its extraordinary stimulus programs, I did a double take.

“What stimulus programs?” I thought. Where are the jobs programs? Where are the “extraordinary” social services that will enable those still suffering from the effects of the Great Recession to buy more and stimulate the economy?

What escaped my attention for a moment was the fact that these words were uttered by an official steeped in the jargon of high finance and political policy – where words like “stimulus” are treated to Orwellian twists, their meaning transformed into something very different from what most people understand them to mean.

Christopher Flavelle: The Real Reason We Pay So Much for Health Care

A lengthy New York Times report yesterday detailed just how much more Americans pay for medical services than people in other countries. Often a lot more: almost twice what the Swiss pay for a colonoscopy, three and a half times more than the Dutch for an MRI and five times more than Spaniards for a hip replacement, according to the International Federation of Health Plans.

The high per-unit price of medical services in this country is an open secret, well documented in the health-policy world but largely ignored in the political debate. Rather than rail against high prices, Americans should rail against this: The fixes for those higher prices are clear enough, yet they get almost no consideration from policymakers.

Jun 04 2013

Welcome to the Fifth Estate

I am an unnerd.  Meaning I do not have a cell phone and I do not know how to text or twitter.  But, I do know this.  The internet is the Fifth Estate.

When our forefathers set up our government, there were three branches of government.  This is a test.  You name the three branches of government.  And a free press was called the fourth estate.  A free press was supposed to keep the government in check.  However, at this point in our nation’s history, a free press controlled by the corporations has really not kept up to its vaulted position of keeping a watchful eye on the government, or themselves for that matter.

With the advent of the internet the arrival of websites such as thestarshallowgazette, dailykos, talkingpointsmemo, truthout among just a few, and I might add, just a tiny fraction of what is out there.  It has fallen upon us to create the Fifth Estate.  We are now the voices of the people, because we are the people.

It cannot be relied upon the current Fourth Estate to disseminate all the facts without the spin of political or corporate overtones.  More or less blatant subliminal messaging.  Propaganda, whatever.  I understand that not all websites display the truth and/or are filled with something other than politeness for all.  To each his own.  But, I sincerely believe there are more of us out here in the Fifth Estate that believe in doing the right thing.  The truth will prevail.

We have all this information gathering at our fingertips, cell phones, cameras, etc.  Can you imagine if Kennedy had been assassinated last week, just how many photos, video would have been available?  Then we would really know about the Grassy Knoll.  When we speak through the Fifth Estate, good things can and do happen.  Ask Rush about his advertisers for an example.  Newspapers are being purchased by large corporations and what Murdoch has done to the media in that regards does not bode well for what going to be in the local daily that arrives somewhere out by the corner under the juniper.

Call me cynical, but I have been cheated, lied to and downright robbed at some point in my life by corporations, especially large ones and having them control what I read with my coffee is not what I want to start my day.  I rely on the Fifth Estate for my search of the truth.  I read more than one website on any given issue or subject.  I read the comments on the stories, pro and con.  This is us folks.  We are the Fifth Estate.  Let’s protect it and use it for good for all.  Thank you.  

Jun 04 2013

On This Day In History June 4

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

June 4 is the 155th day of the year (156th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 210 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1919, the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, guaranteeing women the right to vote, is passed by Congress and sent to the states for ratification.

The Nineteenth Amendment‘s text was drafted by Susan B. Anthony with the assistance of Elizabeth Cady Stanton. The proposed amendment was first introduced in the U.S. Senate colloquially as the “Anthony Amendment”, by Senator Aaron A. Sargent of California. Sargent, who had met and befriended Anthony on a train ride in 1872, was a dedicated women’s suffrage advocate. He had frequently attempted to insert women’s suffrage provisions into unrelated bills, but did not formally introduce a constitutional amendment until January 1878. Stanton and other women testified before the Senate in support of the amendment. The proposal sat in a committee until it was considered by the full Senate and rejected in a 16 to 34 vote in 1887.

A three-decade period known as “the doldrums” followed, during which the amendment was not considered by Congress and the women’s suffrage movement achieved few victories. During this period, the suffragists pressed for the right to vote in the laws of individual states and territories while retaining the goal of federal recognition. A flurry of activity began in 1910 and 1911 with surprise successes in Washington and California. Over the next few years, most western states passed legislation or voter referenda enacting full or partial suffrage for women. These successes were linked to the 1912 election, which saw the rise of the Progressive and Socialist parties, as well as the election of Democratic President Woodrow Wilson. Not until 1914 was the constitutional amendment again considered by the Senate, where it was again rejected.

On January 12, 1915, a proposal to amend the Constitution to provide for women’s suffrage was brought before the House of Representatives, but was defeated by a vote of 204 to 174. Another proposal was brought before the House on January 10, 1918. During the previous evening, President Wilson made a strong and widely published appeal to the House to pass the amendment. It was passed by the required two-thirds of the House, with only one vote to spare. The vote was then carried into the Senate. Wilson again made an appeal, but on September 30, 1918, the proposal fell two votes short of passage. On February 10, 1919, it was again voted upon and failed by only one vote.

There was considerable desire among politicians of both parties to have the proposal made part of the Constitution before the 1920 general elections, so the President called a special session of the Congress so the proposal would be brought before the House again. On May 21, 1919, it passed the House, 42 votes more than necessary being obtained. On June 4, 1919, it was brought before the Senate and, after a long discussion, it was passed with 56 ayes and 25 nays. Within a few days, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Michigan ratified the amendment, their legislatures being in session. Other states followed suit at a regular pace, until the amendment had been ratified by 35 of the necessary 36 state legislatures. On August 18, 1920, Tennessee narrowly approved the Nineteenth Amendment, with 50 of 99 members of the Tennessee House of Representatives voting yes. This provided the final ratification necessary to enact the amendment.

Jun 04 2013

Around the Blogosphere

 photo Winter_solstice.gifThe 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.

Atrios and Paul Krugman are having some fun banter on their respective blog, Eschaton, and Conscious of a Liberal, about the elitist Wall Street Journal‘s war on the NYC bicycle rental program. It started out with this observation by Atrios on the NYC bicycle program, and the insanity of driving in Manhattan.

The culture clash in NYC over bikes is pretty amusing, though I really don’t get why they drive some people so insane. More than that, I really don’t understand longtime New Yorkers (and I mean people in the dense transit and taxi rich bits, mostly Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn), choose to have personal car-centric lives.

Atrios then picked up Brad Delong‘s question, “Can Anybody Explain the Wall Street Journal’s War on Bicycles to Me?”

Krugman then chimed in, agreeing that it’s insane to drive around Manhattan when the subway system is so much faster and convenient but the problem, he points out, is the WSJ has the elitist attitude of those who are driven from place to place:

However, the Journal isn’t reflecting the attitudes of people who drive around Manhattan; it’s reflecting the attitudes of people who are driven around Manhattan.

The point is that even in Manhattan, there’s something to be said for getting places in your personal car driven by your personal driver, who drops you off where you want to go – no search for parking or anything like that – and picks you up when you want to go someplace else.

As a resident of one of the “outer boroughs” of NYC where owning a car is a necessity, I try to avoid driving myself around Manhattan, especially Midtown, but sometimes it’s unavoidable. I hate cab and limo drivers, since they drive like there is no one else on the road. As for the bicycle program, it’s a novelty that won’t reduce traffic in Manhattan but will definitely have an impact.

RainbowGirl at Corrente notes that the program is plagued with problems

The “Ultimate Honor” according to Krugman:

Economists Must Have Beards photo 186605_zpsb82476f2.gif

Click o image to enlarge

Dean Baker has some interesting posts on health care at Beat the Press:

At Americablog, Gaius Publius has a good article about what ultra-dicks the super-rich and their progeny are:

Kevin Gosztola at FDL’s The Dissenter covers the first day of PFC Bradley Manning’s military trial with live up dates and detailed posts on the opening statements of the defense and prosecution.

At FDL Action, Jon Walker discusses today’s Supreme Court decision that the police can take a DNA swab from individuals arrested for serious crimes simply as part of the booking procedure. He notes the strong dissent by Justice Antonin Scalia and his defense of the Fourth Amendment. Sometimes people surprise you.

Jon laughingly jumps in on the bike sharing banter.

A bit late, if you ask me, but the late Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Gary Webb has received a posthumous apology from former Los Angeles Times writer, Jesse Katz, who spearheaded the attack that ended Webb career for exposing the CIA’s involvement in the introduction of crack cocaine in America. It ruined Webb’s life and he committed suicide nine years ago. h/t to DSWright at FDL News Desk.

On a very sad note, we mark the passing of New Jersey’s Democratic Senator Frank Lautenberg, 89, who died this morning of complications of viral pneumonia. He was the sixth most liberal senator and the last World War II veteran in the Senate. Blessed Be.