12/24/2010 archive

Punting the Pundits

“Punting the Pundits” is 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.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

Pail Krugman: The Humbug Express

Hey, has anyone noticed that “A Christmas Carol” is a dangerous leftist tract?

I mean, consider the scene, early in the book, where Ebenezer Scrooge rightly refuses to contribute to a poverty relief fund. “I’m opposed to giving people money for doing nothing,” he declares. Oh, wait. That wasn’t Scrooge. That was Newt Gingrich – last week. What Scrooge actually says is, “Are there no prisons?” But it’s pretty much the same thing.

Anyway, instead of praising Scrooge for his principled stand against the welfare state, Charles Dickens makes him out to be some kind of bad guy. How leftist is that?

As you can see, the fundamental issues of public policy haven’t changed since Victorian times. Still, some things are different. In particular, the production of humbug – which was still a somewhat amateurish craft when Dickens wrote – has now become a systematic, even industrial, process.

Jim Hightower: Obama to the Corporate Powers: I Feel Your Pain

Guess who’s whining the loudest these days, wailing that they’re getting a raw deal from Barack Obama.

Good grief! Friendlier than Obama’s Wall Street reform that coddled the big banksters, or his health care reform that further entrenches profiteering insurance giants inside the system? Or the tax bill cave-in that needlessly awards billions of dollars in special breaks for corporations and rich CEOs?

Yes. So friendly that Obama is now holding an ongoing series of closed-door policy meetings with assorted CEOs. So friendly that he’s already delayed regulations to strengthen anti-pollution rules. So friendly that his deficit-reduction panel proposes cutting the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 26 percent. So friendly that he’s planning to put a high-powered CEO right inside the White House with him, as demanded by the whining corporate powers who say they’re not getting enough love from the president.

Why do they get a special presidential slot? Why not one for labor, small farmers, consumers, the unemployed? Remind me again — is this guy a Democrat?

Bill Quigley and Vince Warren: Obama’s Liberty Problem: Why Indefinite Detention by Executive Order Should Scare the Hell Out of People

The right to liberty is one of the foundation rights of a free people.  The idea that any US President can bypass Congress and bypass the Courts by issuing an Executive Order setting up a new legal system for indefinite detention of people should rightfully scare the hell out of the American people.  

Advisors in the Obama administration have floated the idea of creating a special new legal system to indefinitely detain people by Executive Order.  Why?  To do something with the people wrongfully imprisoned in Guantanamo.  Why not follow the law and try them?  The government knows it will not be able to win prosecutions against them because they were tortured by the US.  

Guantanamo is coming up on its ninth anniversary – a horrifying stain on the character of the US commitment to justice.  President Obama knows well that Guantanamo is the most powerful recruitment tool for those challenging the US.  Unfortunately, this proposal for indefinite detention will prolong the corrosive effects of the illegal and immoral detentions at Guantanamo rightly condemned world-wide.

The practical, logical, constitutional and human rights problems with the proposal are uncountable.

On This Day in History: December 24

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

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

December 24 is the 358th day of the year (359th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are seven days remaining until the end of the year. This day is commonly known as Christmas Eve.

On this day in 1955, NORAD begins tracking Santa in what will become an annual Christmas Eve tradition.

According to NORAD’s official web page on the NORAD Tracks Santa program, the service began on December 24, 1955. A Sears department store placed an advertisement in a Colorado Springs newspaper. The advertisement told children that they could telephone Santa Claus and included a number for them to call. However, the telephone number printed was incorrect and calls instead came through to Colorado Spring’s Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD) Center. Colonel Shoup, who was on duty that night, told his staff to give all children that called in a “current location” for Santa Claus. A tradition began which continued when the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) replaced CONAD in 1958.

On Christmas Eve, the NORAD Tracks Santa website videos page is generally updated each hour, when it is midnight in a different time zone. The “Santa Cam” videos show CGI images of Santa Claus flying over famous landmarks. Each video is accompanied by a voice-over, typically done by NORAD personnel, giving a few facts about the city or country depicted. Celebrity voice-overs have also been used over the years. For the London “Santa Cam” video, English television personality and celebrity Jonathan Ross did the voice-over for 2005 to 2007 and the former Beatles drummer Ringo Starr narrated the same video in 2003 and 2004. In 2002, Aaron Carter provided the voice-over for three videos.

The locations and landmarks depicted in some of the “Santa Cam” videos have changed over the years. In 2009, twenty-nine “Santa Cam” videos were posted on the website. In previous years, twenty-four to twenty-six videos had been posted.

NORAD relies on volunteers to make the program possible. Many volunteers are employees at Cheyenne Mountain and Peterson Air Force Base. Each volunteer handles about forty telephone calls per hour, and the team typically handles more than 12,000 e-mails and more than 70,000 telephone calls from more than two hundred countries and territories. Most of these contacts happen during the twenty-five hours from 2 a.m. on December 24 until 3 a.m. MST on December 25.Google Analytics has been in use since December 2007 to analyze traffic at the NORAD Tracks Santa website. As a result of this analysis information, the program can project and scale volunteer staffing, telephone equipment, and computer equipment needs for Christmas Eve.

By December 25, 2009, the NORAD Tracks Santa program had 27,440 twitter followers and the Facebook page had more than 410,700 fans.

Official NORAD Santa Tracker

Morning Shinbun Friday December 24

Friday’s Headlines:

Expect more extreme winters thanks to global warming, say scientists


EPA sets schedule to limit pollution from power plants, oil refineries

Navy Considers Medal, 65 Years After a Heroic Act


Hungary backtracks on media law after censure

Nokia Looks to Recover the ‘Magic Dust’

Middle East

In Bethlehem tourism is reborn, but only for a few

Iran’s Ahmadinejad urges West to choose ‘path of cooperation’


North Korea threatens South with ‘holy war’

As drone strikes have increased, so have assassinations, Pakistanis say


UN hears of Côte d’Ivoire atrocities

Oil could bring peace to Sudan: NGO

Latin America

Dictator jailed in final judgment on Argentinian junta’s dirty war

U.S. OKs business with terror-supporting nations

Loopholes let companies get lucrative deals with Iran, Cuba, North Korea


NEW YORK – Despite sanctions and trade embargoes, over the past decade the United States government has granted special licenses allowing American companies to do billions of dollars in business with Iran and other countries blacklisted as state sponsors of terrorism, an examination by The New York Times has found.

At the behest of a host of companies – from Kraft Food and Pepsi to some of the nation’s largest banks – a little-known office of the Treasury Department has made nearly 10,000 exceptions to American sanctions rules, approving deals involving countries that have been cast into economic purgatory, beyond the reach of American business.

Dr. Doom: Nothing Has Changed

Nouriel Roubini, chairman and co-founder of Roubini Global Economics and professor of economics at NYU’s Stern School of Business, appeared in a web only interview with Rachel Maddow. Roubini argues that efforts to restore the collapsing economy are too little too late and that the structure that caused the collapse has not been fixed.

‘It’s a problem when you have a society where you have more financial engineers than computer engineers.’

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

How Would You Know? Ask?

With the repeal of DADT, wingers really start to come out of the closet.

“We don’t get ourselves dry-cleaned. We tend to take showers. …” And “Do you think that gyms should have separate showers for gay and straight people?”

An Airing of Grievances

Ah Festivus, that holiday for the rest of us.  Break out your Aluminium Poles.  Time for the airing of the grievances of which one constant on my list is the laziness and vapidity of TV programming.

I’m not kidding when I say I consider these pieces a public service.  They take a ton of research (an average Prime Time takes 90 minutes and has 40+ links).

And you have to keep your blog busy and readers distracted.

I’m trying new Tools which will hopefully keep things a little more organized but I’m not expecting much.

It’s a fairly normal Thursday night so we’ll be picking it up at 6 am for early risers and running 24 hours.

As always-

It’s arranged by time and marathons (4 half hour episodes, 3 hour episodes, double features, themes, and Instapeats) may be noted earlier than you expect, but they do also include the running time so you know when they end.

You may notice not a lot from the broadcast and other networks.  That’s because they’re going with regular programming (except for maybe Holiday Episodes) as far as I can tell.  The usual tools are available for broader choices-

Zap2it TV Listings, Yahoo TV Listings

This edition good until Noon.  Now 8 pm.  Now to 11 pm.  Done until dawn, but get to bed early so Santa can come.

Prime Time

Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas (TV), Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas (Film).  We can only hope this is the Last Word from Lawrence O’Donnell in 2010.

When I was your age, television was called books. And this is a special book. It was the book my father used to read to me when I was sick, and I used to read it to your father. And today I’m gonna read it to you.

Has it got any sports in it?

Are you kidding? Fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, miracles…

Doesn’t sound too bad. I’ll try to stay awake.

Oh, well, thank you very much, very nice of you. Your vote of confidence is overwhelming.


Dave hosts Amanda Peet, Jay Thomas, and Darlene Love.  Jon and Stephen in repeats, 12/13 & 12/14.  Pre-empted next week.  Conan hosts Jason Segel and Reggie Watts.

This ain’t pool. This is for bangers. Straight pool is pool. This is like hand-ball, or cribbage, or something. Straight pool, you gotta be a real surgeon to get ’em, you know? It’s all finesse. Now, everything is nine-ball, ’cause it’s fast, good for T.V., good for a lot of break shots… Oh, well. What the hell. Checkers sells more than chess.

Zap2it TV Listings, Yahoo TV Listings