10/27/2010 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.

Maureen Dowd: When a Pirate Is the Voice of Chivalry

In a campaign season when many men – and women – are taking harsh stances that could hurt women, a chivalrous voice has at last arrived.

Oddly enough, it belongs to a renegade pirate whose motto is “Keep it dark”: Keith Richards.

You’d think that an only child whose mother killed all the pets he kept as companions would not grow up to be so positive about women. . . .

“I’ve never been able to go to bed with a woman just for sex,” writes the author, happily married for decades to the former model Patti Hansen, whom he is supporting through bladder cancer. “I’ve no interest in that. I want to hug you and kiss you and make you feel good and protect you. And get a nice note the next day, stay in touch.”

The consummate gentleman. Who knew?

Katrina vanden Heuvel: Just say yes to common sense on pot policy

With all the hand-wringing over a Democratic “enthusiasm gap,” one effort to turn out young people at the polls this November is showing real energy and promise. What’s the secret? In a word, as 78-year-old John Burton, chairman of the California Democratic Party, put it, “Pot.”

Proposition 19 would make it legal for Californians over 21 to possess and cultivate marijuana for personal use, and it would authorize city governments to regulate and tax commercial production and sales. Its passage would signal a major victory for common sense over a war on drugs that has been an abysmal failure in the Golden State and throughout the country. As states devastated by the fiscal crisis look for more efficient and effective alternatives to spending $50 billion a year on incarceration, a shift in California might presage changes across the nation.

It would be great if young people would take to the streets and the voting booths on issues like Afghanistan, historical levels of inequality and poverty, or to protect Social Security from a Republicans takeover. But they’re not. And if it’s reforming an ineffective, wasteful and racially unjust drug policy that mobilizes young people — who are at the core of the rising American electorate along with African-Americans, Hispanics, and unmarried women — so be it. According to Public Policy Polling, for those who cite Prop 19 as their top reason for voting, 34 percent are under age 30.

Ruth Marcus: Which Darrell Issa would run House oversight panel?

There are two faces of Issa — Good Darrell and Bad Darrell. Good Darrell sounds responsible, measured, almost statesmanlike. Bad Darrell tosses red meat to a ravenous base.

Good Darrell, writing in USA Today on Oct. 11: “Oversight is not and should not be used as a political weapon against the occupant of the Oval Office. It should not be an instrument of fear or the exclusive domain of the party that controls Congress.”

Bad Darrell, to Rush Limbaugh on Oct. 19: “You know, there will be a certain degree of gridlock as the president adjusts to the fact that he has been one of the most corrupt presidents in modern times.”

Can’t say I disagree

From Taylor Marsh (who’s a little too much of a Clinton Cheerleader for me, but she makes a point)-

Obama refusing to endorse Frank Caprio because he supported Hillary, while staying loyal to a former Republican now turned Independent at a time when Democrats need every governor we can get, is the height of pettiness.

Pres. Obama is doing his impression of a spurned teenage girl, while Axelrod and David Plouffe calculate that by losing the House Obama will be helped for 2012. It’s all about Barack Obama. Screw the Democrats going down with his sinking policy ship.

On This Day in History: October 27

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

October 27 is the 300th day of the year (301st in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 65 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1904, the New York Subway opens.

While London boasts the world’s oldest underground train network (opened in 1863) and Boston built the first subway in the United States in 1897, the New York City subway soon became the largest American system. The first line, operated by the Interborough Rapid Transit Company (IRT), traveled 9.1 miles through 28 stations. Running from City Hall in lower Manhattan to Grand Central Terminal in midtown, and then heading west along 42nd Street to Times Square, the line finished by zipping north, all the way to 145th Street and Broadway in Harlem. On opening day, Mayor McClellan so enjoyed his stint as engineer that he stayed at the controls all the way from City Hall to 103rd Street.


A demonstration for an underground transit system in New York City was first built by Alfred Ely Beach in 1869. His Beach Pneumatic Transit only extended 312 feet (95 m) under Broadway in Lower Manhattan and exhibited his idea for a subway propelled by pneumatic tube technology. The tunnel was never extended for political and financial reasons, although extensions had been planned to take the tunnel southward to The Battery and northwards towards the Harlem River. The Beach subway was demolished when the BMT Broadway Line was built in the 1910s; thus, it was not integrated into the New York City Subway system.

The first underground line of the subway opened on October 27, 1904, almost 35 years after the opening of the first elevated line in New York City, which became the Ninth Avenue Line. The heavy 1888 snowstorm helped to demonstrate the benefits of an underground transportation system. The oldest structure still in use opened in 1885 as part of the BMT Lexington Avenue Line, and is now part of the BMT Jamaica Line in Brooklyn. The oldest right-of-way, that of the BMT West End Line, was in use in 1863 as a steam railroad called the Brooklyn, Bath and Coney Island Rail Road. The Staten Island Railway, which opened in 1860, currently uses R44 subway cars, but it has no links to the rest of the system and is not usually considered part of the subway proper.

By the time the first subway opened, the lines had been consolidated into two privately owned systems, the Brooklyn Rapid Transit Company (BRT, later Brooklyn-Manhattan Transit Corporation, BMT) and the Interborough Rapid Transit Company (IRT). The city was closely involved: all lines built for the IRT and most other lines built or improved for the BRT after 1913 were built by the city and leased to the companies. The first line of the city-owned and operated Independent Subway System (IND) opened in 1932; this system was intended to compete with the private systems and allow some of the elevated railways to be torn down, but was kept within the core of the City due to the low amount of startup capital provided to the municipal Board Of Transportation, the later MTA, by the state.[3] This required it to be run ‘at cost’, necessitating fares up to double the five cent fare popular at the time.

In 1940, the two private systems were bought by the city; some elevated lines closed immediately, and others closed soon after. Integration was slow, but several connections were built between the IND and BMT, and now operate as one division called the B Division. Since the IRT tunnel segments are too small and stations too narrow to accommodate  B Division cars, and contain curves too sharp for B Division cars, the IRT remains its own division, A Division.

The New York City Transit Authority, a public authority presided by New York City, was created in 1953 to take over subway, bus, and streetcar operations from the city, and was placed under control of the state-level Metropolitan Transportation Authority in 1968.

In 1934, transit workers of the BRT, IRT, and IND founded the Transport Workers Union of America, organized as Local 100. Local 100 remains the largest and most influential local of the labor union. Since the union’s founding, there have been three union strikes. In 1966, transit workers went on strike for 12 days, and again in 1980 for 11 days. On December 20, 2005, transit workers again went on strike over disputes with MTA regarding salary, pensions, retirement age, and health insurance costs. That strike lasted just under three days.

Tribute to the Creator of “Moose & Squirrel”

Nell MinowTribute: Alex Anderson, Creator of Rocky and Bullwinkle

Alex Anderson, who came up with the beloved characters Rocky the flying squirrel, Bullwinkle Moose, and Dudley Do-Right, died this week at age 90. While Jay Ward usually gets the credit, it was his childhood friend and partner Anderson who created those characters — though he had to bring a lawsuit to be given credit for it. Ken Tucker of Entertainment Weekly has a tribute to Rocky and Bullwinkle that gets the joy of their subversive humor just right:

It’s difficult to imagine, these days, the thrill of discovering Rocky and Bullwinkle as a kid. You felt as though you’d been let into a secret back door to TV, where the characters joked about their show’s low ratings and the very nature of the narrative itself. During one edition, Rocky thinks he hears Boris, and says, “That voice — where have I heard it before?” Bullwinkle replies, “In about 365 other episodes.” Then he added, ever the dumb one, “But I don’t know who it is, either.”

I loved Rocky and Bullwinkle because I could watch it as a kid and then again as a teenager and enjoy it even more. There were jokes I didn’t get until I was in college. They even made a joke once about my dad, who still has a Rocky and Bullwinkle drawing on his wall. I loved it that there was a character named Nell — my niece gave me a Nell Fenwick doll that I keep in my office. And every so often I tune in again to watch Bullwinkle pull another rabbit out of his hat or read fan mail from a flounder.

Olbermann just did Something Exceptional 20101026

I have always been pretty much a fan of Keith Olbermann.  He has good views and applies logic to his subject matter.  But he outdid himself tonight, and I am NOT being sarcastic.

If you look at the Wingnut Channel, everything is just a very narrow slant on politics and some country music, now and then.  Olbermann just transcended all of that, and the rerun is playing right now.  I hope to finish this short post fast enough so that you can tune into it.

I love this rant

And I agree with almost everything he said.

Especially the part where he said “Both parties will sell out the middle class faster than Jim Cramer can yell ‘booyah.'”

Wikileaks War Log: Interview with Julian Assange

WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange on Iraq War Logs, “Tabloid Journalism” and Why WikiLeaks Is “Under Siege”

In an extended interview with Democracy Now!, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange discusses the release of more than 400,000 classified U.S. military records on the war in Iraq, the largest intelligence leak in U.S. history. The disclosure provides a trove of new evidence on the number of civilian casualties, violence, torture, and suffering that has befallen Iraq since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion. While the Obama administration is defending the U.S. military’s record in Iraq, the allegations in the documents have sparked worldwide condemnation. Assange also describes WikiLeaks “under siege” and that “the real attack on truth” is by tabloid journalism in the U.S. mainstream media.

Juan Williams Firing: NPR Staffing ala Jon

I have only one thing to say to Juan Williams about his fear of people in Muslim garb on planes:

Juan, not one of the 9/11 hijackers was wearing Muslim attire. I would be more worried about the completely bald, clean shaved white guy in the camouflage garb with no luggage but a carry-on.

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart
NPR Staffing Decision 2010
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor Rally to Restore Sanity

Prime Time

I’ve dropped Melissa & Joey because their treatment of illegal immigrants in the episode Seoul Man was just about the most offensive thing I’ve seen in a long while.  Melissa and her writers bought into almost every xenophobic, racist stereotype the Republicans are pushing and I have better uses for my time.


Dave hosts Taylor Swift and Seth Meyers.  Jon has Ted Kaufman, Stephen Garry Wills.  No Alton.

BoondocksRiley Wuz Here.

I had a nice clean place to stay… I left it to come here.  Ah Hillsboro, a mixture of Moorish and Methodist.  It must have been designed by a Congressman.

A sad choice, my stomach or my spirit.  I’ll have a hotdog.

It is the duty of a newspaper to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.

I do hateful things for which people love me, and I do loveable things for which they hate me. I’m admired for my detestability. Now don’t worry, little Eva. I may be rancid butter, but I’m on your side of the bread.

Evening Edition

Evening Edition is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Haiti reports 25 new cholera deaths

by Clarens Renois, AFP

2 hrs 30 mins ago

PORT-AU-PRINCE (AFP) – Haiti reported 25 more cholera deaths on Tuesday as UN health officials warned the epidemic was not over yet amid lingering fears it could still infiltrate the capital’s putrid refugee camps.

The cholera outbreak, the first in Haiti in more than 100 years, has stabilized in recent days but the number of new deaths announced on Tuesday was more than four times the six reported on Monday.

Overall infections have been increasing steadily and doctor Roc Magloire of the Haitian public health ministry said the number being treated in hospitals and clinics had risen over the past 24 hours by 270 to 3,612.