08/27/2010 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.

Eugene Robinson: Even Beck can’t mar King’s legacy

The majestic grounds of the Lincoln Memorial belong to all Americans — even to egomaniacal talk-show hosts who profit handsomely from stoking fear, resentment and anger. So let me state clearly that Glenn Beck has every right to hold his absurdly titled “Restoring Honor” rally on Saturday.

But the rest of us have every right to call the event what it is: an exercise in self-aggrandizement on a Napoleonic scale. I half-expect Beck to appear before the crowd in a bicorn hat, with one hand tucked into the front of his jacket.

That Beck is staging his all-about-me event at the very spot where the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his immortal “I Have a Dream” speech — and on the 47th anniversary of that historic address — is obviously intended to be a provocation. There’s no need to feel provoked, however; the appropriate response is to ignore him. No puffed-up blabbermouth could ever diminish the importance of the 1963 March on Washington or the impact of King’s unforgettable words.

Lincoln and King will always have their places in American history. Beck’s 15 minutes of fame and influence are ticking by.

Joan Walsh Beck has a scheme

Promote Palin at an event he says isn’t political, on a day he says he didn’t know was the MLK speech anniversary

(But) my friend Melissa Harris-Lacewell cautioned me and Chris Matthews against giving Beck and Palin too much credit for winning people over to their crazy racial views. She’s right: It’s increasingly clear that the Tea Parties and Palin power are just more exciting names for an old political phenomenon: the aging, white, anti-government Republican base. They have more acolytes than I wish they did but fewer than they’ll need to transform the country, especially if Democrats remember what they’re fighting for in November. Harris-Lacewell also compared King’s incomparable words to the word salad normally tossed by Palin, and that made me laugh. Put the “I Have a Dream” speech side by side with whatever Palin says Saturday, and you’ll create instant civil rights believers among whoever reads through both.

On This Day in History: August 27

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

August 27 is the 239th day of the year (240th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 126 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1883, The most powerful volcanic eruption in recorded history occurs on Krakatau (also called Krakatoa), a small, uninhabited volcanic island located west of Sumatra in Indonesia, on this day in 1883. Heard 3,000 miles away, the explosions threw five cubic miles of earth 50 miles into the air, created 120-foot tsunamis and killed 36,000 people.

Krakatau exhibited its first stirrings in more than 200 years on May 20, 1883. A German warship passing by reported a seven-mile high cloud of ash and dust over Krakatau. For the next two months, similar explosions would be witnessed by commercial liners and natives on nearby Java and Sumatra. With little to no idea of the impending catastrophe, the local inhabitants greeted the volcanic activity with festive excitement.

On 27 August four enormous explosions took place at 05:30, 06:44, 10:02, and 10:41 local time. The explosions were so violent that they were heard 3,500 km (2,200 mi) away in Perth, Western Australia and the Indian Ocean island of Rodrigues near Mauritius, 4,800 km (3,000 mi) away, where they were thought to be cannonfire from a nearby ship. Each was accompanied by very large tsunamis, which are believed to have been over 30 meters (100 ft) high in places. A large area of the Sunda Strait and a number of places on the Sumatran coast were affected by pyroclastic flows from the volcano.

The pressure wave generated by the colossal final explosion radiated from Krakatoa at 1,086 km/h (675 mph). It was so powerful that it shattered the eardrums of sailors on ships in the Sunda Strait and caused a spike of more than two and half inches of mercury in pressure gauges attached to gasometers in the Jakarta gasworks, sending them off the scale. The pressure wave radiated across the globe and was recorded on barographs all over the world, which continued to register it up to 5 days after the explosion. Barograph recordings show that the shockwave from the final explosion reverberated around the globe 7 times in total. Ash was propelled to a height of 80 km (50 mi).

The eruptions diminished rapidly after that point, and by the morning of August 28 Krakatoa was silent. Small eruptions, mostly of mud, continued through October, though further reports continued through February 1884. These reports were discounted by (Rogier) Verbeek.

The combined effects of pyroclastic flows, volcanic ashes and tsunamis had disastrous results in the region. There were no survivors from 3,000 people located at the island of Sebesi, about 13 km (8.1 mi) from Krakatoa. Pyroclastic flows killed around 1,000 people at Ketimbang on the coast of Sumatra some 40 km (25 mi) north from Krakatoa. The official death toll recorded by the Dutch authorities was 36,417, although some sources put the estimate at 120,000 or more.

Ships as far away as South Africa  rocked as tsunamis hit them, and the bodies of victims were found floating in the ocean for weeks after the event. The tsunamis which accompanied the eruption are believed to have been caused by gigantic pyroclastic flows  entering the sea; each of the four great explosions was accompanied by a massive pyroclastic flow resulting from the gravitational collapse of the eruption column.

In the aftermath of the eruption, it was found that the island of Krakatoa had almost entirely disappeared, except for the southern half of Rakata cone cut off along a vertical cliff, leaving behind a 250-metre (820 ft) deep caldera.

In the year following the eruption, average global temperatures fell by as much as 1.2 C (2.2 F). Weather patterns continued to be chaotic for years, and temperatures did not return to normal until 1888.

The eruption darkened the sky worldwide for years afterwards, and produced spectacular sunsets throughout the world for many months. British artist William Ashcroft made thousands of colour sketches of the red sunsets half-way around the world from Krakatoa in the years after the eruption.

Morning Shinbun Friday August 27

Friday’s Headlines:

Carter gains release of U.S. activist imprisoned by North Korea

Parade of Super Cars Inspires Mixed Feelings


Behind Scenes of Gulf Oil Spill, Acrimony and Stress

Uneven Katrina recovery efforts often offered the most help to the most affluent


U2 deliver subtle dig to Medvedev in Moscow

France deports more Roma in defiance of international criticism

Middle East

Chilcot inquiry accused of fixating on west and ignoring real victims

Iraq combat phase ends, but U.S. might stay past 2011


Pakistan floods prompt mass evacuations in south

Afghan leader criticises US pullout


How did rebels rape 200 women just miles from UN base in Congo?

Kenya to adopt new constitution

Latin America

Brazil government gives go-ahead for huge Amazon dam

Prime Time

Thursday Night Throwball, the Indianapolis Traitors @ Packers (you know who to root for even if you don’t like cheese, cheese heads, or community ownership).

Last chance for the Boys and all night Keith and Rachel this week.


Dave hosts Anne Heche, Ken Burns, and The Specials.  Jon has Michael Bloomberg (ugh), Stephen Richard Engel.  Alton does Sausage (much better eats than the DC kind).

Handsome Ransom– Captain Sunshine!

Well, then, I confess, it is my intention to commandeer one of these ships, pick up a crew in Tortuga, raid, pillage, plunder and otherwise pilfer my weasely black guts out.

I said no lies.

I think he’s telling the truth.

If he were telling the truth, he wouldn’t have told us.

Unless, of course, he knew you wouldn’t believe the truth even if he told it to you.

Me? I’m dishonest, and a dishonest man you can always trust to be dishonest. Honestly. It’s the honest ones you want to watch out for, because you can never predict when they’re going to do something incredibly…


Can the Cat Food Commission

Jane Hamsher and the FDLakers are calling on President Obama to Can the Cat Food Commission. She very clearly presents the case

The Catfood commission is not legitimate. It was stacked with people who knew their job was to fulfill Pete Peterson’s dream  of rolling back the New Deal and waging war on the social safety net. It is a committee of oligarchs designed to circumvent electoral repercussions for those who oppose the will of the vast majority of the American people, both Republicans and Democrats, who don’t want to see the federal budget balanced on the backs of the nation’s senior citizens.

President Obama, it is not just Alan Simpson who needs to go. It’s time to shut down the entire commission.

She invites everyone

Sign the petition: Tell President Obama to Can the Catfood Commission