Daily Archive: 08/05/2013

Aug 05 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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Robert Kuttner: Obama, the Economy and the Movement

The latest figures on the economy make it all too clear that we are stuck in a feeble recovery that could go on for several years to come. Growth was only 1.4 percent in the first half of 2013, and the economy is still creating too few jobs to increase worker earnings, which actually declined in July. [..]

For three decades, this society has been dividing into haves and have-nots. Yet the struggles of ordinary people have been weirdly disconnected from our politics. Democrats express an economic populism when their backs are to the wall, but our Democratic presidents tend to get captured by economic elites.

Rebuilding the economy from the middle out is a start. Even better would be rebuilding it from the bottom up.

Paul Krugman: Republicans Against Reality

Last week House Republicans voted for the 40th time to repeal Obamacare. Like the previous 39 votes, this action will have no effect whatsoever. But it was a stand-in for what Republicans really want to do: repeal reality, and the laws of arithmetic in particular. The sad truth is that the modern G.O.P. is lost in fantasy, unable to participate in actual governing.

Just to be clear, I’m not talking about policy substance. I may believe that Republicans have their priorities all wrong, but that’s not the issue here. Instead, I’m talking about their apparent inability to accept very basic reality constraints, like the fact that you can’t cut overall spending without cutting spending on particular programs, or the fact that voting to repeal legislation doesn’t change the law when the other party controls the Senate and the White House.

Am I exaggerating? Consider what went down in Congress last week.

Robert Reich: Why Republicans Want Jobs to Stay Anemic

Job-growth is sputtering. So why, exactly, do regressive Republicans continue to say “no” to every idea for boosting it — even last week’s almost absurdly modest proposal by President Obama to combine corporate tax cuts with increased spending on roads and other public works?

It can’t be because Republicans don’t know what’s happening. The data are indisputable. July’s job growth of 162,000 jobs was the weakest in four months. The average workweek was the shortest in six months. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has also lowered its estimates of hiring during May and June.  [..]

The real answer, I think, is they and their patrons want unemployment to remain high and job-growth to sputter.

Richard (RJ) Eskow: Fighting the GOP’s Hateful Agenda – Without Hate

When is it fair to say that some political battles aren’t just disagreements over policy, but actually represent a struggle between ‘good’ and ‘evil’ points of view? And when, if ever, is it helpful to say so?

There are those on the Right who debase the currency of that four-letter word – “evil” – by using it against anyone who disagrees with them. But what word do you apply to people who deny food to hungry families, voting rights to minorities, or a chance for self-advancement to hard-working students from lower-income homes?

How do you fight the hateful without succumbing to hate?

David A. Love: The US civil war is playing out again – this time over voter rights

White southern Republicans enact voter ID laws because they don’t want Democrats to vote, particularly people of color

Nearly 150 years after the end of the US civil war, the South and the federal government are poised for a rematch over the voting rights of black Americans, and ultimately over the fundamental rights of all Americans. Once again, the former Confederate states are determined to defend their traditions and way of life, while the Union forces in the North – the federal government – are positioning themselves to defend justice and equality.

But this time, in an ironic twist, two black men – President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder – are leading the charge.

In the 1860s, the fight between the North and the South was about slavery and the right of the Confederate states to maintain a dreaded institution that kept people of African descent in bondage. Unprecedented carnage resulted.

Ralph Nader: Love, Corporate-Style

Mitt Romney famously said during his most recent bid for the presidency: “Corporations are people, my friend.” Perhaps nothing else better surmises the state of our country — even the state of our culture — than a prominent politician running for the presidency openly advancing such a flawed opinion. It is no secret that corporations now wield immense power in our elections, in our economy, and even in how we spend time with our friends and families. Corporate entities, in their massive, billion dollar efforts to advertise and “brand” themselves, not only want consumers to think of them as people, but even as “friends.” If a corporation could hit the campaign trail itself, one could imagine it uttering the phrase: “Corporations are friends, my people.”

I recently came across a full-page ad in the New York Times. The ad, which shows a tiny baby’s hand clutching the fingers of an adult hand, is captioned with the words: “Love is the most powerful thing on the planet.” It goes on to read: “For all the things in your life that make life worth living — Johnson and Johnson, for all you love.” Notably, this is Johnson and Johnson’s first “corporate branding” campaign in over a decade.

This poses an interesting question. What exactly is corporate love? Love is a very human emotion — but, coming from a business conglomerate whose over-riding goal is bigger profits — this message rings hollow.

Aug 05 2013

On This Day In History August 5

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

August 5 is the 217th day of the year (218th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 148 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1957, American Bandstand goes national

Television, rock and roll and teenagers. In the late 1950s, when television and rock and roll were new and when the biggest generation in American history was just about to enter its teens, it took a bit of originality to see the potential power in this now-obvious combination. The man who saw that potential more clearly than any other was a 26-year-old native of upstate New York named Dick Clark, who transformed himself and a local Philadelphia television program into two of the most culturally significant forces of the early rock-and-roll era. His iconic show, American Bandstand, began broadcasting nationally on this day in 1957, beaming images of clean-cut, average teenagers dancing to the not-so-clean-cut Jerry Lee Lewis’ “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On” to 67 ABC affiliates across the nation.

The show that evolved into American Bandstand began on Philadephia’s WFIL-TV in 1952, a few years before the popular ascension of rock and roll. Hosted by local radio personality Bob Horn, the original Bandstand nevertheless established much of the basic format of its later incarnation. In the first year after Dick Clark took over as host in the summer of 1956, Bandstand remained a popular local hit, but it took Clark’s ambition to help it break out. When the ABC television network polled its affiliates in 1957 for suggestions to fill its 3:30 p.m. time slot, Clark pushed hard for Bandstand, which network executives picked up and scheduled for an August 5, 1957 premiere.

Aug 05 2013

Anti-Capitalist Meetup: Mother Jones and the Children’s Crusade by JayRaye

The Great Philadelphia Textile Strike of 1903

The Central Textile Workers Union of Philadelphia held a meeting the evening of May 27, 1903. A vote was taken and a general strike call was issued. That general strike eventually caused 100,000 textile workers to go out on strike in the Philadelphia area. 16,000 of those were children under the age of 16, some as young as 8 or 9 years of age. The textile industry of the day employed children at a higher rate than any other industry. The number given from the 1900 census was 80,000. In cotton textiles, they made up 13.1% of the work force, and that rate reached 30% in the South.

The Central Textile Workers’ Union issued this statement:

Thirty-six trades, representing 90,000 people, ask the employers to reduce working hours from sixty to fifty-five hours a week. They are willing that wages be reduced accordingly. They strike for lower wages in an effort to get shorter hours.

Three trades, representing 10,000 people, ask for the same reduction in working hours, but, in addition, they ask for the same weekly wages or a slight increase, averaging ten per cent.

The request for shorter hours is made primarily for the sake of the children and women. For six years the organized textile workers of Philadelphia have been trying in vain to persuade the politician-controlled Legislature of Pennsylvania to pass a law which would reduce the working hours of children and women and stop them from doing night work.

Average  wages for adults for 60 hours of work were $13. Children working 60 hours(!) got $2.

On Monday June 1st, at least 90,000 textile workers went out on strike in the Philadelphia area. Of the 600 mills in the city, about 550 were idle. Philadelphia now had more workers out on strike than at any other time in her history. Several thousand workers had already been on strike before the textile strike began, including: the carriage and wagon builders, and the carpenters along with others working in the building trades. It appeared that the city would be in for a long hot summer.

By the next day, Tuesday, the strike spread to the hosiery mills, increasing the army of idle workers by  8,000  Most of these were women and children employed in the Kensington district. This class of workers was unorganized, but they decided to join the ranks of the unionist in other branches of the textile trade as they witnessed the magnitude of the fight for a shorter work week. The Manufacturers vowed they would not submit to the union demands even if they had to shut down their factories indefinitely.

Aug 05 2013

Sunday Train: The Triboro RX & the G Train to the Brooklyn Army Terminal

Cross-posted from Voices on the Square

A transit rail corridor plan has been taken off the shelf, dusted off, and tossed into the NYC Mayoral Race, and according to Alon Levy, the circumstances are enough to disqualify Christine Quin, one of the leading candidates:

According to Capital New York, leading mayoral contender Christine Quinn has just made up a price tag of $25 billion for Triboro, while claiming that paving portions of the right-of-way for buses will cost only $25 million. This is on the heels of city council member Brad Lander’s proposal for more investment in bus service. The difference is that Lander proposed using buses for what buses do well, that is service along city streets, and his plan includes bus lanes on major street and what appears to be systemwide off-board fare collection. In contrast, Quinn is just channeling the “buses are always cheaper than rail” mantra and proposing to expand bus service at the expense of a future subway line.

 

But the reason Quinn is unfit for office rather than just wrong is the trust factor coming from this. She isn’t just sandbagging a project she thinks is too hard; the MTA is doing that on its own already. She appears to be brazenly making up outlandish numbers in support of a mantra about bus and rail construction costs. Nor has anyone else proposed a Triboro busway – she made the logical leap herself, despite not having any background in transit advocacy. Politicians who want to succeed need to know which advocates’ ideas to channel, and Quinn is failing at that on the transit front. If I can’t trust anything she says about transit, how can I trust anything she says about the effectiveness of stop-and-frisk, or about housing affordability, or about the consequences of labor regulations?

 

Update 2: Quinn admitted the mistake on the rail plan, and revised the estimate of the cost down to $1 billion, but sticks to the bus plan and its $25 million estimate.