04/08/2011 archive

Evening Edition

Evening Edition is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 EU prepares 80 billion euro bailout for Portugal

by Roddy Thomson, AFP

2 hrs 33 mins ago

GODOLLO, Hungary (AFP) – EU finance ministers on Friday thrashed out a multi-billion-dollar debt rescue for Portugal, demanding tough conditions as they try to draw a line under a destabilising debt crisis.

The third EU bailout to member states within a year will need to be around 80 billion euros ($115 billion) EU finance commissioner Olli Rehn said.

Loans to Lisbon, after Greece and Ireland last year, will be conditional on more public spending cuts, tax rises and far-reaching privatisations — negotiated with Portuguese politicians facing an angry, fearful electorate around June 5 polls.

Glitter and Unicorns

Ludicrous and Cruel

By PAUL KRUGMAN, The New York Times

Published: April 7, 2011

(T)he Ryan proposal trumpets the results of an economic projection from the Heritage Foundation, which claims that the plan’s tax cuts would set off a gigantic boom. Indeed, the foundation initially predicted that the G.O.P. plan would bring the unemployment rate down to 2.8 percent – a number we haven’t achieved since the Korean War. After widespread jeering, the unemployment projection vanished from the Heritage Foundation’s Web site, but voodoo still permeates the rest of the analysis.

A more sober assessment from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office tells a different story. It finds that a large part of the supposed savings from spending cuts would go, not to reduce the deficit, but to pay for tax cuts. In fact, the budget office finds that over the next decade the plan would lead to bigger deficits and more debt than current law.

According to the budget office, which analyzed the plan using assumptions dictated by House Republicans, the proposal calls for spending on items other than Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid – but including defense – to fall from 12 percent of G.D.P. last year to 6 percent of G.D.P. in 2022, and just 3.5 percent of G.D.P. in the long run.

That last number is less than we currently spend on defense alone; it’s not much bigger than federal spending when Calvin Coolidge was president, and the United States, among other things, had only a tiny military establishment. How could such a drastic shrinking of government take place without crippling essential public functions? The plan doesn’t say.

(P)rivatizing Medicare does nothing, in itself, to limit health-care costs. In fact, it almost surely raises them by adding a layer of middlemen. Yet the House plan assumes that we can cut health-care spending as a percentage of G.D.P. despite an aging population and rising health care costs.

The only way that can happen is if those vouchers are worth much less than the cost of health insurance. In fact, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that by 2030 the value of a voucher would cover only a third of the cost of a private insurance policy equivalent to Medicare as we know it.

In the past, Mr. Ryan has talked a good game about taking care of those in need. But as the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities points out, of the $4 trillion in spending cuts he proposes over the next decade, two-thirds involve cutting programs that mainly serve low-income Americans.

The G.O.P. budget plan isn’t a good-faith effort to put America’s fiscal house in order; it’s voodoo economics, with an extra dose of fantasy, and a large helping of mean-spiritedness.

A little bit more-

Ryan and Taxes

By PAUL KRUGMAN, The New York Times

April 8, 2011, 9:48 am

The Ryan plan calls for cutting the top marginal rate to 25 percent – lower than it has been at any time in the past 80 years. That in itself should tell you that this is a deeply unserious proposal: anyone who tells you that we have to face hard truths, that everyone must sacrifice, and by the way, rich people will pay lower taxes than they have at any time since the 1930s, is just engaged in a power grab.

Minority Rapport ~ Note from a 3rd Party Fringer

Good morning. As I whip out a few hundred words with my first cup of coffee, it is so reassuring to know that I am so far out here on the far-left fringes that all 7 people who think remotely like me will be forgiving of its brevity and levity in the face of such a serious topic.

You see, overall the last ditch response to people like me that refuse to be enablers of the Uniparty of the Korporate State reads pretty much thus: “You are a big STUPID HEAD, and no one thinks like you!!” Well, golly surely it is better to be all alone~y by myself out here on the fringiest fringe, than to run with the sheep over the cliff. Sorry cupcake, I ain’t buying it.

Let me state that anyone who has a remote understanding of history, understanding not just rote-recall of dates and names, knows what happens to Empires when they turn their greed and avarice on their own people. Rome, falls, biotches. Hitler burns. Moscow rises. People revolt. Now, understanding that fact also presumes the knowledge that this doesn’t always work out too well for the people. Sometimes revolution just replaces one set of despots with another set. Kinda like ’08 did here. Puts a happy shiney face on the same abuses, repackages the arsenic and not much changes.

So sue me if I cannot see the ‘rigidity’ in thinking outside the rigid parameters of “tried and failed” that is the course of operating under a flawed system, nay a system not just flawed but diabolically stacked against us.

This is where the Smug Liberals lose the working class as much as the Righteous Righties do… they forget that one root, bit by bit can crack a boulder. Count on that lonely buttercup!

The Lonely Buttercup Pictures, Images and Photos

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”

Paul Krugman: Ludicrous and Cruel

Many commentators swooned earlier this week after House Republicans, led by the Budget Committee chairman, Paul Ryan, unveiled their budget proposals. They lavished praise on Mr. Ryan, asserting that his plan set a new standard of fiscal seriousness.

Well, they should have waited until people who know how to read budget numbers had a chance to study the proposal. For the G.O.P. plan turns out not to be serious at all. Instead, it’s simultaneously ridiculous and heartless.

How ridiculous is it? Let me count the ways – or rather a few of the ways, because there are more howlers in the plan than I can cover in one column.

New York Times Editorial: It’s Not Really About Spending

If the federal government shuts down at midnight on Friday – which seems likely unless negotiations take a sudden turn toward rationality – it will not be because of disagreements over spending. It will be because Republicans are refusing to budge on these ideological demands:

No federal financing for Planned Parenthood because it performs abortions. Instead, state administration of federal family planning funds, which means that Republican governors and legislatures will not spend them.

• No local financing for abortion services in the District of Columbia.

• No foreign aid to countries that might use the money for abortion or family planning. And no aid to the United Nations Population Fund, which supports family-planning services.

• No regulation of greenhouse gases by the Environmental Protection Agency.

• No funds for health care reform or the new consumer protection bureau established in the wake of the financial collapse.

E. J. Dionne, Jr.: The Right’s War on Moderation

Political moderates and on-the-fencers have had it easy up to now on budget issues. They could condemn “both sides,” and insist on the need for “courage” in tackling the deficit.

Thanks to Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget and the Republicans’ maximalist stance in negotiations to avert a government shutdown, the days of straddling are over.

Ryan’s truly outrageous proposal, built on heaping sacrifice onto the poor, slashing scholarship aid to college students and bestowing benefits on the rich, ought to force middle-of-the-roaders to take sides. No one who is even remotely moderate can possibly support what Ryan has in mind.

Eugene Robinson: Trumped by Political Failure

In political terms, who has the most to lose from this appalling brinksmanship over a federal government shutdown? House Speaker John Boehner? President Obama? Senate Democrats? Tea party Republicans?

The clear answer is all of the above, plus American democracy itself. As proof, we need look no further than a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll indicating that Donald Trump is running second behind Mitt Romney for the Republican presidential nomination.

Donald Trump.

William Rivers Pitt: A Festival of Dumb

Every time I think I’ve seen everything, politically speaking, a new wave of nonsense comes crashing ashore and bowls me right over. Today’s installment features a game of budgetary chicken being played among the Tea Partiers in the House, the Democrats in the Senate, and an alarmingly conciliatory Obama administration. If someone doesn’t blink by midnight on Friday, the federal government will shut down and a great deal of fresh Hell will be unleashed.

Just a few short weeks ago, the concept of a government shutdown seemed remote. The GOP proposed a broad swath of brutal and highly dubious budget cuts crafted by a raft of right-bent House freshmen who are looking to placate the “Keep-Your-Damn-Government-Hands-Off-My-Medicare” wing of their party’s base…which is grimly amusing, considering that a key element of their spending plan involves the slow and certain annihilation of Medicare itself.

House Speaker Boehner is looking more orange than usual while tip-toeing

Ari Berman: GOP Would Shut Down Government Over EPA, Planned Parenthood

A deal to prevent a government shutdown has yet to be reached, and the clock is ticking ominously toward a shutdown on Friday. After a late-night meeting between President Obama, Harry Reid and John Boehner, sources said a tentative agreement was reached to cut around $34.5 billion in fiscal year 2011-12, according to the Huffington Post (the specifics of the cuts remain secret). But the sticking point concerns GOP “riders” focused on hot-button issues unrelated to the deficit, such as defunding family planning services at Planned Parenthood and preventing the EPA from regulating greenhouse gas emissions-two highlights of the budget passed by House Republicans in February.

Just yesterday, the Senate rejected the House Republicans’ EPA provision, and would almost certainly do the same regarding the Planned Parenthood amendment, which saves only $330 million but targets much-needed services for low-income families, such as preventative healthcare and cancer screenings (for more on the Title X program, read this primer from HHS). “We’re on the runway now and waiting for the speaker to come in for a landing,” Senator Chuck Schumer said today. “We have an agreement in principle…. We pretty much have a consensus on the cuts and numbers…. Ideological riders that have nothing to do with the deficit are standing in our way.”

Richard (RJ) Escow: What the President Should Have Said About J.T. Henderson — and Other ‘Real People’

Last night the President took a lofty, almost disinterested stance regarding budget deadlock in Congress. He seemed to chastise Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker John Boehner equally, focusing on the consequences of a shutdown and ignoring the consequences of making a bad deal to avoid a shutdown.

A Federal shutdown would have “real consequences for real people,” said the President, mentioning one “real” person by name: J.T. Henderson of Louisville, Kentucky.

So let’s talk about J.T. Henderson – and about all the other J.T. Hendersons who are just as real, and just as important, as our friend in Louisville. You’d be surprised how many there are.

Johann Hari: We’re not being told the truth on Libya

The most plausible explanation is that this is a way of asserting raw Western power and trying to arrange the fallout in our favour

Most of us have a low feeling that we are not being told the real reasons for the war in Libya. David Cameron’s instinctive response to the Arab revolutions was to jump on a plane and tour the palaces of the region’s dictators selling them the most hi-tech weapons of repression available. Nicolas Sarkozy’s instinctive response to the Arab revolutions was to offer urgent aid to the Tunisian tyrant in crushing his people. Barack Obama’s instinctive response to the Arab revolutions was to refuse to trim the billions in aid going to Hosni Mubarak and his murderous secret police, and for his Vice-President to declare: “I would not refer to him as a dictator.”

Yet now we are told that these people have turned into the armed wing of Amnesty International. They are bombing Libya because they can’t bear for innocent people to be tyrannised, by the tyrants they were arming and funding for years. As Obama put it: “Some nations may be able to turn a blind eye to atrocities in other countries. The United States of America is different”. There was a time, a decade ago, when I took this rhetoric at face value. But I can’t now. The best guide through this confusion is to look at two other wars our government is currently deeply involved in – because they show that the claims made for this bombing campaign can’t be true.

On This Day In History April 8

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.

April 8 is the 98th day of the year (99th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 267 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1974, Hank Aaron of the Atlanta Braves hits his 715th career home run, breaking Babe Ruth’s legendary record of 714 homers. A crowd of 53,775 people, the largest in the history of Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, was with Aaron that night to cheer when he hit a 4th inning pitch off the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Al Downing. However, as Aaron was an African American who had received death threats and racist hate mail during his pursuit of one of baseball’s most distinguished records, the achievement was bittersweet.

Breaking Ruth’s record

Although Aaron himself downplayed the “chase” to surpass Babe Ruth, baseball enthusiasts and the national media grew increasingly excited as he closed in on the home run record. During the summer of 1973 Aaron received thousands of letters every week; the Braves ended up hiring a secretary to help him sort through it.

At the age of 39, Aaron hit 40 home runs in 392 at-bats, ending the season one home run short of the record. He hit home run number 713 on September 29, 1973, and with one day remaining in the season, many expected him to tie the record. But in his final game that year, playing against the Houston Astros (led by manager Leo Durocher, who had once roomed with Babe Ruth), he was unable to achieve this. After the game, Aaron stated that his only fear was that he might not live to see the 1974 season.

Over the winter, Aaron was the recipient of death threats and a large assortment of hate mail from people who did not want to see a black man break Ruth’s nearly sacrosanct home run record. The threats extended to those providing positive press coverage of Aaron. Lewis Grizzard, then editor of the Atlanta Journal, reported receiving numerous phone calls calling them “nigger lovers” for covering Aaron’s chase. While preparing the massive coverage of the home run record, he quietly had an obituary written, scared that Aaron might be murdered.

Sports Illustrated pointedly summarized the racist vitriol that Aaron was forced to endure:

   “Is this to be the year in which Aaron, at the age of thirty-nine, takes a moon walk above one of the most hallowed individual records in American sport…? Or will it be remembered as the season in which Aaron, the most dignified of athletes, was besieged with hate mail and trapped by the cobwebs and goblins that lurk in baseball’s attic?”

Aaron received an outpouring of public support in response to the bigotry. Newspaper cartoonist Charles Schulz satirized the anti-Aaron camp in a series of Peanuts strips printed in August 1973, in which Snoopy attempts to break the Ruth record, only to be besieged with hate mail. (As Lucy puts it in the August 11 strip, “Hank Aaron is a great player…but you! If you break Babe Ruth’s record, it’ll be a disgrace!”) Babe Ruth’s widow, Claire Hodgson, even denounced the racism and declared that her husband would have enthusiastically cheered Aaron’s attempt at the record. Ruth, who was unprejudiced, had himself been subjected to racial taunts during his youth, by those who fancied that he had Negroid features.

As the 1974 season began, Aaron’s pursuit of the record caused a small controversy. The Braves opened the season on the road in Cincinnati with a three-game series against the Cincinnati Reds. Braves management wanted him to break the record in Atlanta, and were therefore going to have Aaron sit out the first three games of the season. But Baseball Commissioner Bowie Kuhn ruled that he had to play two games in the first series. He played two out of three, tying Babe Ruth’s record in his very first at bat off Reds pitcher Jack Billingham, but did not hit another home run in the series.

The team returned to Atlanta, and on April 8, 1974, a crowd of 53,775 people showed up for the game-a Braves attendance record. In the fourth inning, Aaron hit career home run number 715 off Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Al Downing. Although Dodgers outfielder Bill Buckner nearly went over the outfield wall trying to catch it, the ball landed in the Braves’ bullpen, where relief pitcher Tom House caught it. While cannons were fired in celebration, two white college students, Cliff Courtney and Britt Gaston, sprinted onto the field and jogged alongside Aaron for part of his circuit around the bases, temporarily startling him. As the fans cheered wildly, Aaron’s parents ran onto the field as well.

Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully addressed the racial tension – or apparent lack thereof – in his call of the home run:

   “What a marvelous moment for baseball; what a marvelous moment for Atlanta and the state of Georgia; what a marvelous moment for the country and the world. A black man is getting a standing ovation in the Deep South for breaking a record of an all-time baseball idol. And it is a great moment for all of us, and particularly for Henry Aaron. … And for the first time in a long time, that poker face in Aaron shows the tremendous strain and relief of what it must have been like to live with for the past several months.”

A few months later, on October 5, 1974, Aaron hit his 733rd and final home run as a Brave, which stood as the National League’s home run record until it was broken in 2007. Thirty days later, the Braves traded Aaron to the Milwaukee Brewers for Roger Alexander and Dave May. On May 1, 1975, Aaron broke baseball’s all-time RBI record, previously held by Ruth with 2,217. That year, he also made the last of his 21 record-tying (with Musial and Mays) All-Star appearances; he lined out to Dave Concepcion as a pinch-hitter in the second inning. This All-Star game, like his first in 1955, was before a home crowd at Milwaukee County Stadium.

On July 20, 1976, Hank Aaron hit his 755th and final home run at Milwaukee County Stadium off Dick Drago of the California Angels.

Six In The Morning

Night falls on Abidjan: Looting, gangs, burning corpses – and hungry people afraid to go out

Daniel Howden reports from the perilous streets of Abidjan, as the conflict in Ivory Coast edges closer to a bloody showdown

Friday, 8 April 2011

The roadblocks begin right outside the airport. Rusted barrels and planks are strewn across side streets, manned by boys in filthy vests. The boys are armed with little more than their own strength in numbers. The looting lends the streets of Abidjan the appearance of an earthquake zone. Burnt-out cars are overturned. Emptied streets are carpeted in smashed glass. What’s left on the Tarmac is only what was broken as it was looted.

A line of office furniture reaches as far as a smashed wardrobe and stops. Then the bodies start. At first, the fire seems to be nothing more than a pile of tyres. Then a soldier explains that people have begun to burn the corpses to prevent disease from spreading. Further along, a cloud of stinking black smoke rises from a garishly painted bus stop. A charred leg rises unmistakably out of the flames.

Deja Vu All Over Again

There has been this aura of sameness about the current budget stand off and the past. The impasse is not about money, it’s about ideology concerning women’s reproductive rights and the environment. The Tea Party Republicans refuse to remove the riders that would block funding to Planned parenthood, ban the District of Columbia from using its own funds to pay for abortions and severely restrict the EPA ability to regulate emissions and green house gases. Meetings at the White House, while productive about the amount of money set to be cut from the long-term budget:

Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid said Thursday that he is “not nearly as optimistic” as he was last night about avoiding a government shutdown before a Friday deadline, saying of a federal funding gap: “it looks like it’s headed in that direction.”

The Democratic leader said that the two sides have essentially agreed on the amount of money set to be cut from the long-term budget but that Republicans have drawn a line in the sand over “ideology”  – including policy issues dealing with funding for Planned Parenthood and the Environmental Protection Agency.

“Our differences are no longer over the savings we get on government spending, Reid said. “The only thing holding up an agreement is ideology.”

The President has reasonably suggested that a “clean bill” to extend the budget for one week and a provision that the troops would be paid in the event of a government shut down was rejected by the Tea Party who passed a bill this afternoon they know the President will veto, if it even gets past the Senate.

We’ve been there before in 1995 with the same issue over women’s reproductive rights and the so-called less government gang insisting on interfering with matters that should be between a woman and her doctor. But no, they can’t give it up:

   “Gingrich and Dole are offering the funding and higher-debt bills but have loaded them with ‘riders’ such as the Medicare bill that the president won’t accept and with other items such as limits on appeals by death-row inmates. [Denver Post, 11/15/95]

   “One of the largest spending bills, for the Commerce, Justice and State Departments, is still being negotiated because it has riders on social issues like school prayer. The spending bill for the District of Columbia has been bogged down over a provision to bar Federal money to pay for abortions in the District and would prohibit public hospitals and clinics from offering abortion services.” [New York Times, 11/29/95]

   “Congress has been unable to send any bill to the president because of the excessive number of anti-environmental riders.” [U.S. Newswire, 12/8/95]

The fanatics just can’t let go of some issues so women should incorporate their uteruses as the Florida ACLU has suggested:

Incorporate Your Uterus

…before some politician gets between you and your M.D.

Of course, you can’t legally Incorporate Your Uterus, but you can online. And by doing so, you can send a message to the Florida Legislature that less regulation and government intrusion begins with a woman’s uterus. So “Incorporate Your Uterus” below, sign-up to receive updates about the important fight going on in Tallahassee and utilize our social networking tools to spread the word about this critical effort. After all, no politician should get between a woman and her doctor.

Learn how you can “Incorporate Your Uterus”

DocuDharma Digest

Regular Features-

Featured Essays for April 7, 2011-


My Little Town 20110407: Roy W. Smith

If he had lived, Roy W. Smith, my father, would have been 92 years old on the forth of this month.  He died in 2005, so was “only” 86 years old at the time of his death.  He was quite a guy, and a man of many talents.  Parenthood was not at the top of his list, but he actually did pretty well, especially considering the example that HE had.

I am going to go into some things late in this post that some might find distasteful, but that is the reality.  They do NOT involve anything like “family secrets”, so no lurid stories about child abuse of anything like that.  Dad was a human being, with virtues and vices, just like the rest of us.  But any kind of child abuse, verbally, physically, or sexually was never known by me.  Let us put a close to anything like that.