10/28/2010 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.

Iraq Veterans Against the War: IVAW Statement on the Iraq War Logs – A Call for Accountability

The recent Wikileaks release–The Iraq War Logs–has shed important light on the high rate of civilian death and widespread atrocities, including torture, that are endemic to the war in Iraq. As veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, we are outraged that the U.S. government sought to hide this information from the U.S. public, instead presenting a sanitized and deceptive version of war, and we think it is vital for this and further information to get out. Members of IVAW have experienced firsthand the realities of war on the ground, and since our inception we have spoken out about similar atrocities in Iraq and Afghanistan. We are asking the U.S. public to join us in calling on our government to end the occupations and bring our brothers and sisters home.  

The U.S. government has been claiming for years that they do not keep count of civilian death tolls, yet the recent releases show that they do, in fact, keep count. Between 2004 and 2009, according to these newly disclosed records, at least 109,032 Iraqis died, 66,081 of whom were civilians. The Guardian reports that the Iraq War Logs show that the U.S. military and government gave de facto approval for hundreds of reports of abuse, torture, rape, and murder by Iraqi soldiers and police officers. These recent revelations, along with the Afghan War Diaries and Collateral Murder footage, weave a picture of wars in which the rules of engagement allow for excessive violence, woven into the fabric of daily life with the U.S. military presence acting as a destabilizing and brutalizing force. The Iraq War Logs, while crucial, are reports produced in real time and themselves may be slanted to minimize the culpability of U.S. forces. Still, they represent an important part of evidence in assessing the reality of the Iraq war, evidence that can only be improved by the further release of documents and information and corroboration by individuals involved. To this end, our members are reviewing both Wikileaks’ Afghanistan War Diaries and the Iraq War Logs to identify incidents we were part of and to shed more light on what really happened.

Joe Conanson: The predictable tsunami of sewer money

Was the Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United naively mistaken — or cynically partisan?

The indisputable  idiocy of the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United — leading to a midterm tsunami of what we New Yorkers call “sewer money” — is featured on the front page of today’s Los Angeles Times. Reporter David Savage begins with the salient quotation from the majority opinion written by Justice Anthony Kennedy and then goes on to explain why that opinion is so grossly flawed:

“With the advent of the Internet, prompt disclosure of expenditures can provide shareholders and citizens with the information needed to hold corporations and elected officials accountable for their positions,” Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote in January. “This transparency enables the electorate to make informed decisions and give proper weight to different speakers and messages.”

   But Kennedy and the high court majority were wrong. Because of loopholes in tax laws and a weak enforcement policy at the Federal Election Commission, corporations and wealthy donors have been able to spend huge sums on campaign ads, confident the public will not know who they are, election law experts say.

Taylor Marsh: Choosing Blue Dogs Over Women

This isn’t just about gender, though it’s clear that women understand aspects of issues like health care more deeply than many men, particularly when the males in question are Blue Dogs. As one of the lone liberal voices out here that supported Pres. Obama’s Afghanistan strategy (which stopped when McChrystal imploded, likely because of this issue), even in foreign policy this is true. After all, it was

But let’s face it, Speaker Pelosi was not a friend to women during the health care debate, and neither was Pres. Obama; you don’t sacrifice overall rights of women’s freedom and then codify it in law, even if you’re giving wider access to others. A Democratic principle is not to sacrifice one person’s fundamental rights over another. This is about choosing female candidates who are stronger on Democratic principles than Blue Dog Dems in Republican districts that will continue the Democratic Party’s slide to the right, while aiding the tilt of the right in general.

Connecticut Voters Can Come in Costume

A Connecticut judge has ruled that voters who desire to dress up as their favorite WWE wrestler can do so and will be allowed to vote. It seems that WWE CEO Vince McMahon whose wife Linda is the Republican candidate for the Senate, was concerned that voters wearing WWE themed clothing would be barred from voting because the clothing might be considered electioneering. So, Vince did what all red-blooded Tea Baggers do – he sued and No, we’re not making this up.

On Wednesday US District Judge Janet Bond Arterton ruled that Nutmeg State election officials must allow voters to wear World Wrestling Entertainment-themed clothing to the polls.

Such garb cannot be considered political advertising for former WWE CEO and current Connecticut GOP Senate candidate Linda McMahon, said Judge Arterton

Riley Waggaman: @ Wonkette


Connecticut Voters Allowed To Dress Like Idiots At the Polls

In other “November is our N word” election news: CEO of fake wrestling and also Linda McMahon’s husband “Mr. McMahon” filed a very serious lawsuit because he was worried that teenagers wearing WWE spandex thongs wouldn’t be allowed to vote – you know, since people dressed like idiots might be considered “political advertising” for Linda McMahon. Anyway, Vince McMahon won his frivolous and pointless lawsuit. Yippee, feel free to dress up as the “The Ass Demolisher” or whatever those silly WWE spandex men are called. Clearly this is just another example of activist judges legislating from the bench. What’s next? Do the gay people in New York get to wear their assless chaps to the polls, even though this would obviously be illegal political advertising for Carl Paladino? Of course. In Barack Obama’s America, No means Yes and Yes means Assless Chaps.

So all you Nutmeggers can re-use those Halloween costumes on Tuesday but I want pictures.

The Charm- Offensive?

As you’ve no doubt read by now, yesterday Obama was interviewed by 5 “Progressive” bloggers- BarbinMD (Daily Kos), Atrios (Eschaton), Joe Sudbay (Americablog), John Amato (Crooks and Liars), and Oliver Willis (Umm… his blog is eponymous).

They weren’t allowed to record the session independently so there is only the official White House transcript.

HuffPo headilines it- Obama Deflects Tough Questions From Progressive Bloggers.  I’d call it Weasel Words.  An illustrative exchange with Atrios

Mine is an easy question. Will you rule out raising the retirement age to 70?

THE PRESIDENT: We are awaiting a report from the deficit commission, or deficit reduction commission, so I have been adamant about not prejudging their work until we get it.

But I think you can look at the statements that I’ve made in the past, including when I was campaigning for the presidency, that Social Security is something that can be fixed with some modest modifications that don’t impose hardships on beneficiaries who are counting on it.

And so the example that I used during the campaign was an increase in the payroll tax, not an increase — let me scratch that. Not an increase in the payroll tax but an increase in the income level at which it is excluded.

And so what I’ve been clear about is, is that I’ve got a set of preferences, but I want the commission to go ahead and do its work. When it issues its report, I’m not automatically going to assume that it’s the right way to do things. I’ll study it and examine it and see what makes sense.

But I’ve said in the past, I’ll say here now, it doesn’t strike me that a steep hike in the retirement age is in fact the best way to fix Social Security.

But you’ll probably want to read the whole thing and make up your own mind.

Also Obama was on Jon Stewart last night, took up the whole half hour.  A snip from that interview-

We have done things that some folks don’t even know about.

What have you done that we don’t know about?  Are you planning a surprise party for us, filled with jobs and health care?

Part 1

Parts 2 & 3 below the fold.

On This Day in History: October 28

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

October 28 is the 301st day of the year (302nd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 64 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1893, Symphony No. 6 in B Minor, Pathetique, the last symphony written by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky is premiered in St. Petersburg. Nine day s later, Tchaikovsky died suddenly at age 53 possibly from cholera but others have theorized that he might have committed suicide. Tchaikovsky was homosexual and often suffered from bouts of depression and doubts about his creative talents throughout his life. At one point while composing the 6th, he tore up the manuscript and discarded it.

Tchaikovsky dedicated the Pathetique to Vladimir “Bob” Davydov, his nephew While the relationship was apparently never consummated, Davydov was reportedly one of the great loves of Tchaikovsky’s life.

The theme in this first movement is most familiar since it has been frequently used in movies and songs.

The second theme of the first movement formed the basis of a popular song in the 1940s, “(This is) The Story of a Starry Night” (by Mann Curtis, Al Hoffman and Jerry Livingston) which was popularized by Glenn Miller. This same theme is the music behind “Where,” a 1959 hit for Tony Williams and the Platters as well as “In Time,” by Steve Lawrence in 1961. All three of these songs have completely different lyrics.

British progressive rock band The Nice covered Symphony No. 6 on their album Five Bridges.

Tchaikovsky’s Sixth Symphony has proved a popular choice with filmmakers, with extracts featuring in (amongst others) Now, Voyager, the 1997 version of Anna Karenina, Minority Report, Sweet Bird of Youth,Soylent Green and The Aviator.

Tchaikovsky’s Sixth Symphony has also been featured during the 2010 Winter Olympics closing ceremony, being danced by Russia’s national ballet team.

Morning Shinbun Thursday October 28

Thursday’s Headlines:

Freedom in Kashmir


Treasury Sees Escalating Risk to Home Prices

New poll shows Obama helping Dems, but is it to late?


French union chiefs signal plan to shelve strikes and pursue talks

Al-Qaida Said To Be Planning European Hostage-Takings

Middle East

Why Sharif Mobley is to be tried in Yemen – and what it means for American Muslims

Dubai Faces Environmental Problems After Growth


Indonesia quake death toll over 300

Another entrant for North Korea succession: Kim’s oldest son?


Nigeria building development could leave 200,000 homeless, says Amnesty

Ugandan anti-gay measure will be law soon, lawmaker says

Latin America

Hitmen kill fifteen in massacre at Mexican carwash

Images reveal Indonesian tsunami destruction

Aerial images from the tsunami-hit Mentawai Islands in Indonesia have revealed the extent of destruction, as officials raised the death toll to 311.

The BBC 28 October 2010  

Flattened villages are plainly visible on the images, taken from helicopters circling the islands.

Rescuers have finally reached the area where 13 villages were washed away by the 3m (10ft) wave, but 11 more settlements have not yet been reached.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has arrived in the region.

He cut short a trip to Vietnam to oversee the rescue effort, and has been briefed by officials in the port city of Padang on Sumatra.

A 7.7-magnitude undersea earthquake triggered the tsunami two days ago.

But the BBC’s Karishma Vaswani, in Jakarta, says rescue teams have still not arrived at the worst-affected communities, where the scale of the damage is still unclear.

Too Funny

Take My Bulgarian Joke Book. Please.


Published: October 27, 2010

GABROVO, Bulgaria – The sign leading into town, faded but still readable in Bulgarian, was as I remembered it. “Welcome and good riddance,” it said. Gabrovians, like Borscht Belt comedians or Delaware Republicans, pride themselves on their sense of humor. Before the Wall fell, this hard-luck but endearing city at the foot of the central Balkans was regarded as the Communist capital of humor.


Officials at the House of Humor and Satire, a relic of a vanished regime, on more or less the margins of Central Europe, talk wistfully about becoming a more popular destination once again, if only they could come up with the money and a good plan. If only. Across the former Communist world museums like the House have been repurposed as ironic attractions for tourists often too young to remember much if anything about the Soviet era. Funnily, the House of Humor and Satire isn’t one of these. It lacks irony.

Jimmy McMillan: The Rent is Too Damned High Party

I may just vote for this man who has become a Célébrité Internationale for his appearance st the NY Gubernatorial Debate on Octber 18 where he stole the show from the angry man, Carl Paladino and workingman sellout, Andrew Cuomo. He has an Op-Ed in the Guardian today that really hits home:

The Rent is Still Too Damn High

The bank bailout cost each of us $5,000 – no wonder ordinary working Americans can’t make ends meet. You know what I say

Banks have seized thousands of homes. What can we do?

First, reverse each and every foreclosure where bankers filed false documents. Arrest those bankers, right now. Filing false documents in court is illegal. Treat the banks like any other racketeering organisation that schemes to make millions by breaking the law. Bring the paddywagon, and give all these homes back to the families.

Second, nationalise the banks. If they say they are “too big to fail”, and hate the free market when it applies to them, then make them a government organisation. Cut the average top banker salary from $20m a year to $45,000 a year. Bankers do not deserve big money. The free market has spoken: their businesses collapsed.

Third, use eminent domain to seize all of the other thousands of foreclosed properties that blight the urban landscape, and transfer them to families needing homes. The supreme court of the United States says that eminent domain can be used to transfer land from one private owner to another in order to further economic development (Kelo v. City of New London).

Finally, if we believe the free market theory, that putting cash into people’s hands is the best way to boost the economy, then how about a rent freeze? High rent is the cancer and low rent the cure to this economic crisis. The rolling back of rent would give people money they can spend.

Grandmothers can’t afford their medication; or, if they can afford it, they can’t eat. You work 40 hours a week and you give all your money to the landlord. You’ve got no money for clothes. You’ve got no money to go on vacation. Even if you live in a homeless shelter, you have to pay $350 a month for rent.

Prime Time

I believe in the Church of Baseball. I’ve tried all the major religions, and most of the minor ones. I’ve worshipped Buddha, Allah, Brahma, Vishnu, Siva, trees, mushrooms, and Isadora Duncan. I know things. For instance, there are 108 beads in a Catholic rosary and there are 108 stitches in a baseball. When I heard that, I gave Jesus a chance. But it just didn’t work out between us. The Lord laid too much guilt on me. I prefer metaphysics to theology. You see, there’s no guilt in baseball, and it’s never boring… which makes it like sex. There’s never been a ballplayer slept with me who didn’t have the best year of his career. Making love is like hitting a baseball: you just gotta relax and concentrate. Besides, I’d never sleep with a player hitting under .250… not unless he had a lot of RBIs and was a great glove man up the middle. You see, there’s a certain amount of life wisdom I give these boys. I can expand their minds. Sometimes when I’ve got a ballplayer alone, I’ll just read Emily Dickinson or Walt Whitman to him, and the guys are so sweet, they always stay and listen. ‘Course, a guy’ll listen to anything if he thinks it’s foreplay. I make them feel confident, and they make me feel safe, and pretty. ‘Course, what I give them lasts a lifetime; what they give me lasts 142 games. Sometimes it seems like a bad trade. But bad trades are part of baseball – now who can forget Frank Robinson for Milt Pappas, for God’s sake? It’s a long season and you gotta trust. I’ve tried ’em all, I really have, and the only church that truly feeds the soul, day in, day out, is the Church of Baseball.

You could watch something else, but why?


Dave hosts Dana Carvey.  Jon has Barack Obama, Stephen Apolo Anton Ohno.  No Alton.

BoondocksThe Block Is Hot.

Fox and Cablevision at last report have not resolved their dispute.  I must admit I don’t follow every pitch, but I do try and report developing scoring situations and their results.  Since this is likely to be a Pitchers’ Duel (the most boring kind of Baseball) there will probably be a lot of ‘inning reports’ (as in “nothing happened this inning”).  Lincecum and Lee may face each other up to 3 times this Series, but the Giant’s Ace-In-The-Hole is Brian Wilson who was the most successful multi-inning reliever both during the season and in the Playoffs.  I’m hard pressed to decide who I hate more, the Polo Grounds deserters or W‘s ex-team, but my smart money still goes on the Senior League because World Series are about pitching, not offense, and the Junior Leaguers’ offense is sabotaged by the pernicious ‘Designated Hitter’ rule that makes their pitchers an easy out anyway.

Giants in 6.

Zap2it TV Listings, Yahoo TV Listings

Evening Edition

Evening Edition is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Cholera-hit Haiti told to prepare for worst as toll rises

by Alex Ogle, AFP

17 mins ago

SAINT MARC, Haiti (AFP) – Officials warned Wednesday that Haiti should prepare for the worst as hundreds more patients packed into hospitals amid a deadly cholera outbreak which has claimed almost 300 lives.

A total of 4,147 people were now being treated in hospitals for cholera, said the head of Haiti’s health department Gabriel Thimote, while eight new fatalities brought the death toll to 292.

The World Health Organization warned the outbreak had yet to reach its peak, and said Haiti should prepare for the disease to hit the capital Port-au-Prince, teeming with squalid tent cities.