10/05/2010 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.

Robert Reich: Wall Street’s Global Race to the Bottom

Wonder what’s happening with bank reform? Watch your wallets.

Having created giant loopholes in the Dodd-Frank law recently passed by Congress (keeping “customized” derivatives underground, for example), fighting off attempts to cap the size of the biggest banks, and keeping capital requirements relatively modest, Wall Street is now busily whittling back the rest through regulations.

Squadrons of lawyers and lobbyists are now pressing the Treasury, Comptroller of the Currency, SEC, and the Fed to go even easier on the Street.

Their main argument is if regulations are too tight, the big banks will be less competitive internationally. Translated: They’ll move more of their business to London and Frankfurt, where regulations will be looser.

Eugene Robinson Midterm campaigns, brought to you by . . . ?

The Republican grab for Congress is being funded by a pack of wolves masquerading as a herd of sheep.

How sweet and innocent they seem, these mysterious organizations with names like Americans for Job Security. Who could argue with that? Who wants job insecurity?

It turns out, according to The Post, that an entity called Americans for Job Security has made nearly $7.5 million in “independent” campaign expenditures this year, with 88 percent going to support Republican candidates. Who’s putting up all that money? You’ll never know, because Americans for Job Security — which calls itself a “business association” — doesn’t have to disclose the source of its funding.

Likewise, the American Future Fund has spent $6.8 million on campaigns this year, with every penny of that money benefiting Republicans. The patriotically named group — and, really, who doesn’t want America to have a future? — is based in Iowa and has never before been a big player in the Great Game of campaign finance. Now, suddenly, it has a king’s ransom to throw around.

A Small Win for Energy Conservation

The White House is getting back to the future by installing solar panels on the roof to provide hot water and some electricity to the Family quarters.

Just in time to give the Global Work Party a White House-sized boost, the Obama administration announced this morning  that they are going to put solar panels on the First Family’s living quarters, returning to a tradition begun by president Jimmy Carter and abandoned by Ronald Reagan.

It’s a great win for your efforts over the last months–everyone who wrote letters, signed petitions, and turned out for the Solar Road Show as we rolled down the east coast from Unity College towing one of the Carter panels. We were disappointed that day that the White House wasn’t prepared to go solar, but very happy that they took our suggestion to look into the matter seriously.

Solar panels on one house, even this house, won’t save the climate, of course. But they’re a powerful symbol to the whole nation about where the future lies. And the president will wake up every morning and make his toast by the power of the sun (do presidents make toast?), which will be a constant reminder to be pushing the Congress for the kind of comprehensive reform we need. And remember, President Obama’s not alone: tomorrow, Maldivian President Mohammed Nasheed and a crew from Sungevity will be putting solar panels on their official residence. It’s a trend!

Also in the news, the US military takes the a leap into the future. Maybe this will get the anti-environmentalists attention:

With insurgents increasingly attacking the American fuel supply convoys that lumber across the Khyber Pass into Afghanistan, the military is pushing aggressively to develop, test and deploy renewable energy to decrease its need to transport fossil fuels.

Last week, a Marine company from California arrived in the rugged outback of Helmand Province bearing novel equipment: portable solar panels that fold up into boxes; energy-conserving lights; solar tent shields that provide shade and electricity; solar chargers for computers and communications equipment.

The 150 Marines of Company I, Third Battalion, Fifth Marines, will be the first to take renewable technology into a battle zone, where the new equipment will replace diesel and kerosene-based fuels that would ordinarily generate power to run their encampment.

Even as Congress has struggled unsuccessfully to pass an energy bill and many states have put renewable energy on hold because of the recession, the military this year has pushed rapidly forward. After a decade of waging wars in remote corners of the globe where fuel is not readily available, senior commanders have come to see overdependence on fossil fuel as a big liability, and renewable technologies – which have become more reliable and less expensive over the past few years – as providing a potential answer. These new types of renewable energy now account for only a small percentage of the power used by the armed forces, but military leaders plan to rapidly expand their use over the next decade.

Perhaps in the next two years Congress will get on board and start passing smart energy legislation.

h/t to Peter Daou at his blog and Twitter

On This Day in History: October 5

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

October 5 is the 278th day of the year (279th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 87 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1877, Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce Indians surrenders to U.S. General Nelson A. Miles in the Bear Paw mountains of Montana, declaring,

“Hear me, my chiefs: My heart is sick and sad. From where the sun now stands, I will fight no more forever.”

Chief Joseph (March 3, 1840 – September 21, 1904) was the chief of the Wal-lam-wat-kain (Wallowa) band of Nez Perce during General Oliver O. Howard‘s attempt to forcibly remove his band and the other “non-treaty” Nez Perce to a reservation in Idaho. For his principled resistance to the removal, he became renowned as a humanitarian and peacemaker.

Joseph the Younger succeeded his father as chief in 1871. Before his death, the latter counseled his son:

“My son, my body is returning to my mother earth, and my spirit is going very soon to see the Great Spirit Chief. When I am gone, think of your country. You are the chief of these people. They look to you to guide them. Always remember that your father never sold his country. You must stop your ears whenever you are asked to sign a treaty selling your home. A few years more and white men will be all around you. They have their eyes on this land. My son, never forget my dying words. This country holds your father’s body. Never sell the bones of your father and your mother.”

Chief Joseph commented “I clasped my father’s hand and promised to do as he asked. A man who would not defend his father’s grave is worse than a wild animal.”

The non-treaty Nez Perce suffered many injustices at the hands of settlers and prospectors, but out of fear of reprisal from the militarily superior Americans, Joseph never allowed any violence against them, instead making many concessions to them in hopes of securing peace.

In 1873, Chief Joseph negotiated with the federal government to ensure his people could stay on their land in the Wallowa Valley. But in 1877, the government reversed its policy, and Army General Oliver Howard threatened to attack if the Wallowa band did not relocate to the Idaho Reservation with the other Nez Perce. Chief Joseph reluctantly agreed.

Before the outbreak of hostilities, General Howard held a council to try to convince Joseph and his people to relocate. Joseph finished his address to the General, which focused on human equality, by expressing his “[disbelief that] the Great Spirit Chief gave one kind of men the right to tell another kind of men what they must do.”

Howard reacted angrily, interpreting the statement as a challenge to his authority. When Chief Too-hul-hul-sote protested, he was jailed for five days.

The day following the council, Joseph, White Bird, and Chief Looking Glass all accompanied General Howard to look at different areas. Howard offered them a plot of land that was inhabited by Whites and Indians, promising to clear them out. Joseph and his chieftains refused, adhering to their tribal tradition of not taking what did not belong to them.

Unable to find any suitable uninhabited land on the reservation, Howard informed Joseph that his people had thirty days to collect their livestock and move to the reservation. Joseph pleaded for more time, but Howard told him that he would consider their presence in the Wallowa Valley beyond the thirty-day mark an act of war.

Returning home, Joseph called a council among his people. At the council, he spoke on behalf of peace, preferring to abandon his father’s grave over war. Too-hul-hul-sote, insulted by his incarceration, advocated war.

The Wallowa band began making preparations for the long journey, meeting first with other bands at Rocky Canyon. At this council too, many leaders urged war, while Joseph argued in favor of peace.

While the council was underway, a young man whose father had been killed rode up and announced that he and several other young men had already killed four white men, an act sure to initiate war.

Still hoping to avoid further bloodshed, Joseph and other Nez Perce chiefs began leading his people north toward Canada.

With 2,000 U.S. soldiers in pursuit, Joseph and other Nez Perce chiefs led 800 Nez Perce toward their friends the Crows, but when the Crows betrayed them and joined the United States army for money, the Nez Perce went towards freedom at the Canadian border. For over three months, the Nez Perce outmaneuvered and battled their pursuers traveling 1,600 miles (2,570 km) across Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana. General Howard, leading the opposing cavalry, was impressed with the skill with which the Nez Perce fought, using advance and rear guards, skirmish lines, and field fortifications. Finally, after a devastating five-day battle during freezing weather conditions with no food or blankets, Chief Joseph formally surrendered to General Nelson Appleton Miles on October 5, 1877 in the Bear Paw Mountains of the Montana Territory, less than 40 miles (60 km) south of Canada in a place close to the present-day Chinook in Blaine County. The battle is remembered in popular history by the words attributed to Chief Joseph at the formal surrender:

“Tell General Howard I know his heart. What he told me before, I have it in my heart. I am tired of fighting. Our chiefs are killed; Looking Glass is dead, Too-hul-hul-sote is dead. The old men are all dead. It is the young men who say yes or no. He who led on the young men is dead. It is cold, and we have no blankets; the little children are freezing to death. My people, some of them, have run away to the hills, and have no blankets, no food. No one knows where they are-perhaps freezing to death. I want to have time to look for my children, and see how many of them I can find. Maybe I shall find them among the dead. Hear me, my chiefs! I am tired; my heart is sick and sad. From where the sun now stands, I will fight no more forever.”

Morning Shinbun Tuesday October 5

Tuesday’s Headlines:

Foreign investors not scared of housing market

A Inside View of the IMF’s Massive Global Influence


U.S. Military Orders Less Dependence on Fossil Fuels

Families are trimming plans to pay for college, survey finds


Mayor ousted for corruption plots return to Moscow political fray

Kremlin criticizes Belarus leader ahead of elections in the former Soviet republic

Middle East

Israeli settlers ‘burnt down West Bank mosque’

Syria accuses teenage blogger of spying


SPIEGEL Interview with Pervez Musharraf

Carrings on up the Khyber Pass


Nigerian media mogul arrested after bombings

In Congo mass rapes, UN guilty of negligence, not complicity

Latin America

How Colombia’s President Santos aims to tackle decades of violent land disputes

Playa or Liar?

(E)ither Biden got played, or he lied.  Either they didn’t have the votes in the first place, or they couldn’t hold them.  In either case, there is nothing preventing the President, as the Commander in Chief, from suspending Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell discharges pending the Pentagon review if he’s sincere and that’s what he really wants.  He could do it today.

Obama says liberals are hurting Democrats and depressing turnout when they criticize him.  Well, he’s not up for reelection in November, and we’re doing plenty to support Democrats.  We’ve raised nearly $40,000 for Russ Feingold in the past week alone.

But right before an election is the time that the public is supposed to express their concerns and hold their representatives accountable.  That’s why we have elections in the first place.  It’s the last chance people will have to push their elected officials on how they plan to vote on the Catfood Commission’s recommendations in December, which members of the commission say will include cuts in Social Security benefits.  A bill that Obama plans to sign.

Anyone who tells people to be silent now is telling you to give up your last chance to fight to keep Congress from voting to reduce the deficit on the backs of senior citizens.

But Obama’s not talking about the fact that people are unhappy about his Catfood Commission plans.  He says that people expect too much too soon, but that’s a straw man.  That’s not what’s happening at all.

People understand when they’re being played.  And they don’t like it.

The Dizzying War on Terror: Up Date

Round and round it goes, where this stops nobody knows.

Three killed in attack on Nato tankers which the Taliban claimed responsibility for because U.S. drone strikes increase on Pakistan border which happened because an increased risk of terrorist attacks in Europe, with Washington saying al Qaeda might target transport infrastructure. Terror strikes provoke drones attacks which provoke more terror attacks which provoke….Dizzy yet?

Glenn Greenwald sums it up nicely:

What a surprise: bombing Muslims more and more causes more and more Muslims to want to bomb the countries responsible.  That, of course, has long been the perverse “logic” driving the War on Terror.  The very idea that we’re going to reduce Terrorism by more intensively bombing more Muslim countries is one of the most patently absurd, self-contradicting premises that exists.  It’s exactly like announcing that the cure for lung cancer is to quadruple the number of cigarettes one smokes each day.  But that’s been the core premise (at least the stated one) of our foreign policy for the last decade:  we’re going to stop Terrorism by doing more and more of exactly the things that cause it (and see this very good Economist article  on the ease with which drones allow a nation’s leaders to pretend to its citizenry that they are not really at war — as we’re doing with Pakistan).

So where does this end Mr. President? Are you now going to send ground troops into Pakistan?

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Up Date: From Glenn Greenwald:

…..a 2004 Task Force convened by Donald Rumsfeld said about the actual causes of Terrorism and, specifically, the effects on Terrorism from our wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.  The whole Report is worth reviewing, but among the highlights:  (a) the “underlying sources of threats to America’s national security” are grounded in “negative attitudes” towards the U.S. in the Muslim world and “the conditions that create them”; (b) what most exacerbates anti-American sentiment, and therefore the threat of Terrorism, is “American direct intervention in the Muslim world” — through our “one sided support in favor of Israel”; support for Islamic tyrannies in places like Egypt and Saudi Arabia; and, most of all, “the American occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan”; and (c) “Muslims do not ‘hate our freedom,’ but rather, they hate our policies.”

Prime Time

All premiers on broadcast, none worth watching unless you’re into the train wreck that is Bristol Palin.


Dave hosts Bruce Willis (a waste of time) will.i.am, and Nicki Minaj.  Jon has Sam Harris, Stephen Eugene Robinson.  Alton does Salt.

BoondocksThe Garden Party (Series Premier repeat)

Nigga, if you ruin this party for me, I’ll put my…

Ruin the party? They love me. These people aren’t worried about us. They’re not worried about anything. They’re rich. No matter what happens, these people just keep applauding.

Attention please. Attention please. My name is Uncle Ruckus, no relation. I want to sing y’all a brand new song I just wrote called “Don’t Trust Them New Niggers Over There”. Sing along if you know the words.

Don’t trust them new niggers over there

Leaving they nigger essence in the air

Them happy, nappy head niggers

With they finger on the trigger

Don’t trust them new niggers over there

Don’t trust them big nostrils over yonder

They suck up so much air it’ll make you wonder

Don’t them new niggers

With they spidey little nigger figures

Don’t trust them new niggers over there.

I think the N-word is OK as long as they say it.

Excuse me. Everyone, I have a brief announcement to make. Jesus was black, Ronald Reagan was the devil, and the government is lying about 9/11. Thank you for your time and good night.

How many times have I told you you bet’ not even dream of tellin’ white folk the truth? You understand me? Shoot… makin’ white people riot. You better learn how to lie like me. I’m gonna find me a white man and lie to him right now.