Daily Archive: 11/14/2013

Nov 14 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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Dan Gillmor: Thanks to WikiLeaks, we see just how bad TPP trade deal is for regular people

The more you know about the odious Trans-Pacific Partnership, the less you’ll like it. It’s made for corporate intellectual property and profits

Among the many betrayals of the Obama administration is its overall treatment of what many people refer to as “intellectual property” – the idea that ideas themselves and digital goods and services are exactly like physical property, and that therefore the law should treat them the same way. This corporatist stance defies both reality and the American Constitution, which expressly called for creators to have rights for limited periods, the goal of which was to promote inventive progress and the arts. [..]

I’m talking about the appalling Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, a partial draft of which WikiLeaks has just released. This treaty has been negotiated in secret meetings dominated by governments and corporations. You and I have been systematically excluded, and once you learn what they’re doing, you can see why.

The outsiders who understand TPP best aren’t surprised. That is, the draft “confirms fears that the negotiating parties are prepared to expand the reach of intellectual property rights, and shrink consumer rights and safeguards,” writes James Love a longtime watcher of this process.

Robert Sheer: The True Patriots in Congress Trying to End NSA Tyranny

Good old George can stop spinning in his grave. Yes, that George, our most heroic general and inspiring president, who warned us in his farewell address “to guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism. …” It’s an alert that’s been ignored in the nation’s hysterical reaction to the attacks of 9/11 that culminated in the NSA’s assault on our Constitution’s guarantee of “the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures. …”

That right was reaffirmed boldly and righteously Monday, for the entire world to hear, by F. James Sensenbrenner, the Republican chair of the House Judiciary Committee, which unanimously had produced the USA Patriot Act. Speaking on Monday at the Civil Liberties Committee of the European Parliament, Sensenbrenner blasted the misuse of the Patriot Act by the NSA and other government agencies entrusted with ensuring the nation’s safety.

 

Bruce A. Dixon: Progressive Sheepdogs, Democrat Sheep: Broken Promises & the Minimum Wage

If President Obama and his party didn’t even try to deliver on their 2008 campaign promise of a minimum wage hike when they had the White House and both houses of Congress on lockdown in 2010 and 2011, what does their sudden rediscovery of the minimum wage mean now, when they know they can move nothing through Congress?  Are they and their sheepdogs, the so-called “progressive Democrats” just yanking our chain again?

As a presidential candidate back in 2007 and 2008, Barack Obama promised to ram a hike in the minimum wage through Congress by 2011. Like the president’s promises to renegotiate NAFTA and enact labor law reforms to make union organizing possible again, it wasn’t one of those high profile pledges he repeated at every opportunity in front of every audience. He didn’t have to, that’s not the way it works.

If you’re a right-leaning Democrat nowadays, here’s how it works: you make those kinds of promises before small audiences of labor and poor folks. From that point, it’s the job of your sheepdogs, the Democrat “progressives” campaigning for you to keep the herd of your base voters in line by putting those words in your mouth a lot more often, and with a lot more emphasis than you actually place upon them. Promises are promises, after all, and promises made by the wealthy and powerful to the poor and powerless are worth exactly nothing.

Sadhbh Walshe: Lowering the minimum wage? What a terrible idea

Tony Abbott’s top business adviser wants a lower minimum wage in Australia. Well, let me fill you in on how the low-as-you-can-go wage model is working out for Americans

As someone who lives in America, every time I come in contact with Australia I get the feeling that we live in an upside down world. Your night time is our morning, our summer is your winter and while we’re firmly stuck in today, you’re already doing tomorrow (or is it the other way around)? Anyway, you get the drift, Australia is the Ginger Rogers to America’s Fred Astaire. I suppose it’s fitting then with the countries’ penchant for doing things in reverse, that just as America finds itself in the throes of a quasi-revolution to raise the minimum wage, some Australians are mounting a push to lower theirs. [..]

Before this movement takes flight, however, let me fill you in on how the low-as-you-can-go wage model is working out for Americans.

William Pfaff: NSA Megalomania Accomplishes Little Beyond Alienating Allies

It is the nature of bureaucracies to expand and accumulate prerogatives. The National Security Agency, a dusty post-Second World War institution of routine habits and outdated technology, focused on the remnants of the Soviet Union and its East European satellites, did not waste an opportunity when the 9/11 attacks occurred in New York and Washington. [..]

But the question to be asked of any bureaucracy is what it actually does. We know now that the NSA purloins (presumably electronically, but who knows?) other people’s mail. It undoubtedly, with its billions, can employ some second-story men, as well as those who service its giant antennae-or read your e-mails or copy out your Facebook page. But why do they bother? That is the fascinating question.

Teresa Wiltz: Renisha McBride: another racially charged shooting, same sad response

Renisha McBride’s death is still under investigation in Michigan, but we’re already seeing the mistrust with the case

it’s early still.

It’s been little more than a week, and the police are still investigating. So right now, it’s still too early to really know why – or how – Renisha McBride ended up dead on a porch in the middle of the night in Dearborn Park, Michigan. Reports differ: she was shot in the back of her head. No, she was shot in the face. Her body was dumped somewhere. No, she was found right there, right where she was shot. The gun went off accidentally. No, it was a “justified shooting” – the homeowner feared for his life. [..]

But it’s not too early for the country to react on cue, following the same sad script. On the one side, you have protesters bearing signs that read, “We Demand Justice: Renisha McBride”. On the other hand, on the internet, commenters quote Detroit crime statistics, creating an equation where Detroit equals black and scary, and one young woman’s life doesn’t count for much.

Nov 14 2013

On This Day In History November 14

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.

November 14 is the 318th day of the year (319th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 47 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1851, the novel Moby Dick is published. Moby Dick, a novel by Herman Melville about the voyage of the whaling ship Pequod, is published by Harper & Brothers in New York. Moby Dick is now considered a great classic of American literature and contains one of the most famous opening lines in fiction: “Call me Ishmael.” Initially, though, the book about Captain Ahab and his quest for a giant white whale was a flop.

Moby-Dick is widely considered to be a Great American Novel and a treasure of world literature. The story tells the adventures of the wandering sailor Ishmael, and his voyage on the whaleship Pequod, commanded by Captain Ahab. Ishmael soon learns that Ahab seeks one specific whale, Moby Dick, a ferocious, enigmatic white sperm whale. In a previous encounter, the whale destroyed Ahab’s boat and bit off his leg. Ahab intends to take revenge.

In Moby-Dick, Melville employs stylized language, symbolism, and metaphor to explore numerous complex themes. Through the main character’s journey, the concepts of class and social status, good and evil, and the existence of gods are all examined as Ishmael speculates upon his personal beliefs and his place in the universe. The narrator’s reflections, along with his descriptions of a sailor’s life aboard a whaling ship, are woven into the narrative along with Shakespearean literary devices such as stage directions, extended soliloquies and asides. The book portrays insecurity that is still seen today when it comes to non-human beings along with the belief that these beings understand and act like humans. The story is based on the actual events around the whaleship Essex, which was attacked by a sperm whale while at sea and sank.

Moby Dick has been classified as American Romanticism. It was first published by Richard Bentley in London on October 18, 1851, in an expurgated three-volume edition titled The Whale, and weeks later as a single volume, by New York City publisher Harper and Brothers as Moby Dick; or, The Whale on November 14, 1851. Although the book initially received mixed reviews, Moby Dick is now considered part of the Western canon.

Nov 14 2013

The Cost of War for Soldiers

In a three part interview that appropriately began on Veterans’ Day, journalist, author and photographer discussed her latest book They Were Soldiers: How the Wounded Return From America’s Wars-The Untold Story with Jaisal Noor, the Real News Network producer.



Transcript can be read here



Transcript can be read here



Transcript can be read here

They Didn’t Know What They Were Getting Into: The Cost of War American-Style

by Ann Jones, TomDispatch

   The last time I saw American soldiers in Afghanistan, they were silent. Knocked out by gunfire and explosions that left them grievously injured, as well as drugs administered by medics in the field, they were carried from medevac helicopters into a base hospital to be plugged into machines that would measure how much life they had left to save. They were bloody.  They were missing pieces of themselves. They were quiet.

   It’s that silence I remember from the time I spent in trauma hospitals among the wounded and the dying and the dead. It was almost as if they had fled their own bodies, abandoning that bloodied flesh upon the gurneys to surgeons ready to have a go at salvation. Later, sometimes much later, they might return to inhabit whatever the doctors had managed to salvage.  They might take up those bodies or what was left of them and make them walk again, or run, or even ski.  They might dress themselves, get a job, or conceive a child. But what I remember is the first days when they were swept up and dropped into the hospital so deathly still.

   They were so unlike themselves. Or rather, unlike the American soldiers I had first seen in that country. Then, fired up by 9/11, they moved with the aggressive confidence of men high on their macho training and their own advance publicity.