Daily Archive: 07/15/2013

Jul 15 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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Gary Younge: Open season on black boys after a verdict like this

Calls for calm after George Zimmerman was acquitted of murdering Trayvon Martin are empty words for black families

Let it be noted that on this day, Saturday 13 July 2013, it was still deemed legal in the US to chase and then shoot dead an unarmed young black man on his way home from the store because you didn’t like the look of him.

The killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin last year was tragic. But in the age of Obama the acquittal of George Zimmerman offers at least that clarity. For the salient facts in this case were not in dispute. On 26 February 2012 Martin was on his way home, minding his own business armed only with a can of iced tea and a bag of Skittles. Zimmerman pursued him, armed with a 9mm handgun, believing him to be a criminal. Martin resisted. They fought. Zimmerman shot him dead.

Who screamed. Who was stronger. Who called whom what and when and why are all details to warm the heart of a cable news producer with 24 hours to fill. Strip them all away and the truth remains that Martin’s heart would still be beating if Zimmerman had not chased him down and shot him.

Paul Krugman: Hunger Games, U.S.A.

Something terrible has happened to the soul of the Republican Party. We’ve gone beyond bad economic doctrine. We’ve even gone beyond selfishness and special interests. At this point we’re talking about a state of mind that takes positive glee in inflicting further suffering on the already miserable.

The occasion for these observations is, as you may have guessed, the monstrous farm bill the House passed last week. [..]

So House Republicans voted to maintain farm subsidies – at a higher level than either the Senate or the White House proposed – while completely eliminating food stamps from the bill.

Joseph E. Stiglitz: How Intellectual Property Reinforces Inequality

n the war against inequality, we’ve become so used to bad news that we’re almost taken aback when something positive happens. And with the Supreme Court having affirmed that wealthy people and corporations have a constitutional right to buy American elections, who would have expected it to bring good news? But a decision in the term that just ended gave ordinary Americans something that is more precious than money alone – the right to live.

At first glance, the case, Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics, might seem like scientific arcana: the court ruled, unanimously, that human genes cannot be patented, though synthetic DNA, created in the laboratory, can be. But the real stakes were much higher, and the issues much more fundamental, than is commonly understood. The case was a battle between those who would privatize good health, making it a privilege to be enjoyed in proportion to wealth, and those who see it as a right for all – and a central component of a fair society and well-functioning economy. Even more deeply, it was about the way inequality is shaping our politics, legal institutions and the health of our population.

Richard (RJ) Eskow: It’s College Students vs. the Corporate Machine — and the Machine’s Winning

Once this nation saw higher education as a citadel of learning, growth and opportunity. Now student debt is being used as a cash cow to subsidize corporate tax breaks, while universities become incubators for corporate employees and cheap laboratories for private-sector patents.

The new student loan deal being cooked up in Washington is part of a larger picture. The forces of technology, globalization and wealth are calling the shots in government nowadays, and they’ve got higher education in their sights. Corporations want colleges and universities to serve them, not students.

In the dystopian future unfolding before our eyes, whole segments of the population are being offered up to the Corporate Machine. And unless we reject the corporate commodification of our common humanity, there’s no end in sight.

Monte Frank: The Holocaust taken in vain to promote gun rights

The cynicism of the pro-gun lobby – with its Nazi comparisons for those who advocate controls – knows no bounds of decency

Never again. Since the end of the second world war, Jews the world over have pledged that the Holocaust can never happen again.

The guns rights lobby has perverted this pledge for their own use – to advocate against stricter gun safety laws. The NRA’s Wayne LaPierre has argued that firearm registration in Germany in 1938 helped lead to the Holocaust. Charlton Heston rallied NRA members by connecting gun rights with the Holocaust by declaiming “first comes registration and then confiscation”. At the NRA convention this past May, conservative media personality Glenn Beck likened New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg to a Nazi. And just in the last couple of weeks, former cop and pro-gun pundit Frank Borelli, speaking on NRA News, applauded sheriffs in Maryland who refused to enforce that state’s recently adopted gun safety laws by distinguishing them from Nazi guards who followed orders in the death camps.

César Chelala: It is Criminal to Execute the Mentally Disabled

The planned execution on July 15 of Georgia prisoner Warren Hill-who has been diagnosed as ‘mentally disabled’-is a gross violation of U.S. federal laws and specifically of the 8th amendment that reads, “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishment inflicted.’ The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that criminal sentences that are inhumane, outrageous, or shocking to the social conscience are cruel and unusual.

This is based on a 2002 Supreme Court ruling-Atkins v. Virginia-that outlawed the death penalty for prisoners considered mentally disabled. That ruling had left a small gap according to which death penalty states were left to define the legal standard under which ‘mental retardation’ also known as ‘intellectual disability’ is defined.

Jul 15 2013

On This Day In History July 15

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

July 15 is the 196th day of the year (197th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 169 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day 1789, Lafayette selected colonel-general of the National Guard of Paris

Only one day after the fall of the Bastille marked the beginning of a new revolutionary regime in France, the French aristocrat and hero of the American War for Independence, Marie-Joseph Paul Roch Yves Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette, becomes the colonel-general of the National Guard of Paris by acclamation. Lafayette served as a human link between America and France in what is sometimes known as The Age of Revolutions.

National Guard, Versailles, and Day of Daggers

On 15 July, Lafayette was acclaimed commander-in-chief of the National Guard of France, an armed force established to maintain order under the control of the Assembly. Lafayette proposed the name and the symbol of the group: a blue, white and red cockade. On 5 October 1789, a Parisian crowd, composed mostly of rough women working in the markets selling fish, marched to Versailles in response to the scarcity of bread. Members of the National Guard followed the march, and when Lafayette said that this march is non-sense, the National Guard’s men openly defied his power and according to some sources, they said “We are going with you, or over you”, then Lafayette reluctantly led the National Guard army to Versaille. At Versailles, the king accepted the Assembly’s votes but refused requests to return to Paris. That evening, Lafayette replaced most of the royal bodyguards with National Guardsmen. At dawn, the crowd broke into the palace. Before it succeeded in entering the queen’s bedroom, Marie Antoinette fled to the king’s apartments. Lafayette took the royal family onto the palace balcony and attempted to restore order. The crowd insisted that the king and his family move to Paris where they were installed in the Tuileries Palace. At the balcony, King Louis simply appeared, and everyone started chanting “Vive le Roi!”. Then when Maria Antoinette appeared with her children, she was told to send the children back, afterwards, when she came out alone, people shouted to shoot her, but when she stood her ground facing almost certain death, no one opened fire. After several seconds and the lowering of rifles, people started to chant “Vive la Reine!” (“Long live the Queen”, now the crowd is including the Queen)As leader of the National Guard, Lafayette attempted to maintain order. On 12 May 1790, he instituted, along with Jean Sylvain Bailly (mayor of Paris), a political club called the “Society of 1789” . The club’s intention was to provide balance to the influence of the Jacobins. On 14 July 1790, Lafayette took the civic oath on the Champs de Mars, vowing to “be ever faithful to the nation, to the law, and to the king; to support with our utmost power the constitution decreed by the National Assembly, and accepted by the king.”

He continued to work for order in the coming months. On 20 February 1791, the Day of Daggers, Lafayette traveled to Vincennes in response to an attempt to liberate a local prison. Meanwhile, armed nobles converged around the Tuileries, afraid the unprotected king would be attacked. Lafayette returned to Paris to disarm the nobles.[89] On 18 April, the National Guard disobeyed Lafayette and stopped the King from leaving for Saint-Cloud over Easter.

Jul 15 2013

Sunday Train: Why Does Congressman Mica Lie About Amtrak?

cross-posted from Voices on the Square

Congressman John Mica, Republican from the Florida 7th district and member (former chair) of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, has been on the attack against Amtrak again. During the testimony to the committee by John Robert Smith, head of Transportation for America and Reconnecting America, and former Republican mayor of Meridian, Mississippi, faced aggressive questioning by Congressman Mica promoting his desired defunding of Amtrak:

… But Mica spared his real invective for the next part, where he let Smith know he’s seen “your little memo that you sent to my mayor.” Something about the belittling, eyes-in-the-back-of-my-head tone there was just chilling, like he’s saying he found the love notes Smith was writing to his wife. “House of Representatives slash Amtrak funding, putting the future of the national system in jeopardy!” Mica read the line in a high-pitched tone, mocking the hysteria Smith was clearly exhibiting when calling Winter Park Mayor Ken Bradley’s attention to the House cuts.

 

Does Smith really think a cut of $1.4 billion to $950 million is such a big deal? Well, yeah, actually. “Don’t you think the United States is under threat when you’re in debt up to your eyeballs, when you’re borrowing 40 cents on the dollar to underwrite your service?” Mica exploded. “You’re aware that every ticket on Amtrak last year was underwritten more than $40 per passenger ticket? You’re aware of that?”

 

Mica railed against Amtrak’s “Soviet-style operations” and the money losses on food service aboard the trains and asked Smith if he should “go back and tell that mother [of the soldier not getting hot breakfasts], ‘You know, we need to put this money into Amtrak; we can’t take any cuts out of Amtrak.'”

 

To which John Robert Smith firmly replied: “That’s a false choice, Congressman.”

Indeed, you don’t have to take the word of DC Streetsblog about the exchange, as it has been put up on youtube:

Jul 15 2013

La Marseillaise

(an annual tradition)

Arise, children of the Fatherland,

The day of glory has arrived!

Against us of the tyranny

The bloody banner is raised,

The bloody banner is raised,

Do you hear, in the countryside,

The roar of those ferocious soldiers?

They’re coming right into your arms

To slit the throats your sons and your companions!

Chorus

To arms, citizens,

Form your battalions,

Let’s march, let’s march!

That tainted blood

Water our furrows!

What does this horde of slaves,

Of traitors and conjured kings want?

For whom are these vile chains,

These long-prepared irons?

These long-prepared irons?

Frenchmen, for us, ah! What outrage

What fury it must arouse!

It is us they dare plan

To return to the old slavery!

Aux armes, citoyens…

What! Foreign cohorts

Would make the law in our homes!

What! These mercenary phalanxes

Would strike down our proud warriors!

Would strike down our proud warriors!

Great God ! By chained hands

Our brows would yield under the yoke

Vile despots would have themselves

The masters of our destinies!

Aux armes, citoyens…

Tremble, tyrants and you traitors

The shame of all parties,

Tremble! Your parricidal schemes

Will finally receive their reward!

Will finally receive their reward!

Everyone is a soldier to combat you

If they fall, our young heroes,

The earth will produce new ones,

Ready to fight against you!

Aux armes, citoyens…

Frenchmen, as magnanimous warriors,

You bear or hold back your blows!

You spare those sorry victims,

Who arm against us with regret.

Who arm against us with regret.

But not these bloodthirsty despots,

These accomplices of Bouillé,

All these tigers who, mercilessly,

Rip their mother’s breast!

Aux armes, citoyens…

Sacred love of the Fatherland,

Lead, support our avenging arms

Liberty, cherished Liberty,

Fight with thy defenders!

Fight with thy defenders!

Under our flags, shall victory

Hurry to thy manly accents,

That thy expiring enemies,

See thy triumph and our glory!

Aux armes, citoyens…

(Children’s Verse)

We shall enter in the (military) career

When our elders are no longer there,

There we shall find their dust

And the trace of their virtues

And the trace of their virtues

Much less jealous to survive them

Than to share their coffins,

We shall have the sublime pride

Of avenging or following them

Aux armes, citoyens…