08/16/2010 archive

Punting the Pundits

Punting the Punditsis 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.

The Guardian Editorial: US midterms: Change without hope

One would have thought that the Obama of Hope and Change would have had little difficulty in defining his presidency

Here’s a depressing thought: the first half of Barack Obama’s presidential term, is as good it’s likely to get. The latest skirmish in America’s culture war – whether to build an Islamic complex two blocks from New York’s ground zero – encapsulates everything that he and the Democrats are labouring under as they trudge towards the midterm elections.

On Friday, Mr Obama said the right thing, not only as a constitutional lawyer, but as president: that Muslims had the same right to practice their religion as anyone else. Uproar in the Republican blogosphere followed. For John Boehner, the House minority leader, it was not an issue of religious freedom, but respect (How? More Muslims have been killed, as apostates, by al-Qaida than members of any other faith). Sarah Palin said it was as if Serbs were trying to build a church in Srebrenica. The Democrats wobbled. On Saturday, Mr Obama beat the retreat: he had not, apparently, commented on the wisdom of putting the mosque there, but the principle that the law should treat all equally.

Racism Part 2a

“The thing a bigot most desires is the ability to express their bigotry in public and be applauded.”—  ek hornbeck

Islam in Two Americas

By ROSS DOUTHAT, The New York Times

Published: August 15, 2010

There’s an America where it doesn’t matter what language you speak, what god you worship, or how deep your New World roots run. An America where allegiance to the Constitution trumps ethnic differences, language barriers and religious divides. An America where the newest arrival to our shores is no less American than the ever-so-great granddaughter of the Pilgrims.

But there’s another America as well, one that understands itself as a distinctive culture, rather than just a set of political propositions. This America speaks English, not Spanish or Chinese or Arabic. It looks back to a particular religious heritage: Protestantism originally, and then a Judeo-Christian consensus that accommodated Jews and Catholics as well. It draws its social norms from the mores of the Anglo-Saxon diaspora – and it expects new arrivals to assimilate themselves to these norms, and quickly.

Unmotherfucking believable.

Monday Business Edition

We are governed by motherfucking idiots.

Or amoral greedheads, take your pick; but even the Nazi supporting Henry Ford understood you have to have someone to sell cars to.

Except we don’t sell cars anymore.  What we sell is Ponzi scams, pyramid schemes, and multi-level marketing and all the shouters on CNBC think they got in at the top, but they’re really just bottom feeders like the rest of us.

Perhaps the coming Hindenberg Crash will convince them.

Or maybe they really are stupid.

Forget a Double Dip. We’re Still in One Long Big Dipper.

Robert Reich

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The central problem is lack of demand – and that’s what has to be tackled.

Three of the four sources of demand have stopped working. (1) Consumers can’t and won’t buy because they’re still under a huge debt load, can’t get more credit, are afraid of losing their jobs (or already have), depend on two wage earners at least one of whom is working part-time and pulling in less, or have to save. (2) Businesses won’t invest and spend on creating more jobs if they don’t see consumers willing to buy more. (3) Exports are stalled because the dollar is so high they cost too much, much of the rest of the world is still struggling with recession, and American firms can make things for sale abroad more cheaply abroad.

That leaves only one remaining source of demand – government. We need a giant jobs program to hire people and put money in their pockets that they’ll spend and thereby create more jobs. Put ideology aside and recognize this fact. If it makes you more comfortable call it the National Defense Jobs Act. Call it the WPA. Call it Chopped Liver. Whatever, we have to get the great army of the unemployed and underemployed working again.

If we let the deficit hawks and government haters dominate this debate, as they have, the Big Dipper will continue for years. The Great Depression lasted twelve.

Attacking Social Security

By PAUL KRUGMAN, The New York Times

Published: August 15, 2010

So where do claims of crisis come from? To a large extent they rely on bad-faith accounting. In particular, they rely on an exercise in three-card monte in which the surpluses Social Security has been running for a quarter-century don’t count – because hey, the program doesn’t have any independent existence; it’s just part of the general federal budget – while future Social Security deficits are unacceptable – because hey, the program has to stand on its own.

It would be easy to dismiss this bait-and-switch as obvious nonsense, except for one thing: many influential people – including Alan Simpson, co-chairman of the president’s deficit commission – are peddling this nonsense.

What’s really going on here? Conservatives hate Social Security for ideological reasons: its success undermines their claim that government is always the problem, never the solution. But they receive crucial support from Washington insiders, for whom a declared willingness to cut Social Security has long served as a badge of fiscal seriousness, never mind the arithmetic.

From Yahoo News Business

1 China overshadows Japan economy as growth slows

by David Watkins, AFP

52 mins ago

TOKYO (AFP) – Japan’s economy was outpaced by China in the second quarter in nominal terms, data showed Monday, as sharply weaker than expected growth triggered fresh fears that the global recovery is losing steam.

As cooling exports and flat domestic consumption hit Japan’s growth in April-June, the data pointed to the looming prospect of China overtaking Japan as the world’s second-largest economy.

“The economy is levelling off,” said Keisuke Tsumura, parliamentary secretary of the Cabinet Office.

On This Day in History: August 16

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour a cup of your favorite morning beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

August 16 is the 228th day of the year (229th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 137 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1896, Gold discovered in the Yukon.

While salmon fishing near the Klondike River in Canada’s Yukon Territory on this day in 1896, George Carmack reportedly spots nuggets of gold in a creek bed. His lucky discovery sparks the last great gold rush in the American West.

Hoping to cash in on reported gold strikes in Alaska, Carmack had traveled there from California in 1881. After running into a dead end, he headed north into the isolated Yukon Territory, just across the Canadian border. In 1896, another prospector, Robert Henderson, told Carmack of finding gold in a tributary of the Klondike River. Carmack headed to the region with two Native American companions, known as Skookum Jim and Tagish Charlie. On August 16, while camping near Rabbit Creek, Carmack reportedly spotted a nugget of gold jutting out from the creek bank. His two companions later agreed that Skookum Jim–Carmack’s brother-in-law–actually made the discovery.

The Morning Shinbun Monday August 16

Monday’s Headlines:

Mass evacuation in Pakistan

Collector doesn’t want these tracks in the trash


From Vietnam to New Orleans, he’s no stranger to catastrophe

In venture with Temple U., Park Service combats looming shortage of rangers


Danish naval team sent to ‘take on’ Greenpeace ship

Battle over legacy of father of Art Nouveau

Middle East

Gaza doctor writes book of hope despite death of three daughters

Former Israeli official acknowledges ‘mistakes’ over storming of ships


China denies milk powder caused infant breasts

Japan GDP figures show sharp slowing of economic growth


Kenya referendum: How groups came together to prevent violence

Another Glass Ceiling Cracked

At last there is a woman Gondolier navigating the canals of Venice. Congratulations, Giorgia.


Venice has finally broken with centuries of tradition by appointing its first ever female gondolier.

Prime Time

D-d-d-d-d-Dora.  If I’ve not properly transcribed the stuttering I apologize for my horrible human hands.  As with Phineas and Ferb the format is fairly rigid, like a poem.  I can sing the Map Song and the Back Pack Song.  I know how to stop Swiper from swiping.

“Swiper! No Swiping!”


“Swiper! No Swiping!”

Oh, man!

We did it!  What part did you like best?  I liked that part too.



Evening Edition

Evening Edition is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Obama swims in Gulf, says beaches open for business

By Ross Colvin, Reuters

Sun Aug 15, 6:57 am ET

PANAMA CITY BEACH, Florida (Reuters) – President Barack Obama went swimming off the coast of Florida on Saturday and declared the Gulf area’s beaches “open for business,” trying to show by example that a region hit by the BP oil spill was safe for tourists to enjoy.

Obama, on his fifth visit to the region since BP Plc’s deep-sea well in the Gulf of Mexico ruptured in April, pledged to restore the economy and the environment in the aftermath of the world’s worst offshore oil spill.

“Oil is no longer flowing into the Gulf, and it has not been flowing for a month. But I’m here to tell you that our job is not finished, and we are not going anywhere until it is,” he told reporters after holding talks with local business owners.