04/11/2011 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”

Paul Krugman: The President Is Missing

What have they done with President Obama? What happened to the inspirational figure his supporters thought they elected? Who is this bland, timid guy who doesn’t seem to stand for anything in particular? I realize that with hostile Republicans controlling the House, there’s not much Mr. Obama can get done in the way of concrete policy. Arguably, all he has left is the bully pulpit. But he isn’t even using that – or, rather, he’s using it to reinforce his enemies’ narrative.

His remarks after last week’s budget deal were a case in point.

E.J. Dionne, Jr.: The End of Shutdowns

One image perfectly captured the absurd, irrational and wholly unnecessary confrontation over whether to shut down the federal government on the basis of differences over a small part of the budget.

During a tea party rally near the Capitol last Wednesday-“rally” being generous for a gathering of a few hundred people-Rep. Mike Pence, the Republican fire-eater from Indiana, declared that if Senate Democrats refused to accept “a modest down payment on fiscal discipline and reform, I say, ‘Shut it down!’ ”

And the crowd erupted, lustily and joyfully: “Shut it down! Shut it down!”

As the shouting persisted, it became clear that the government of the most powerful country in the world was being held hostage by a band of fanatics who (1) represent a very small proportion of our population; (2) hate government so much that they relished the idea of closing its doors, no matter the cost; and (3) have neither respect nor patience for the normal democratic give-and-take between competing parties and points of view.

New York Times Editorial: The Crisis Next Time

The federal government survived the hostage crisis created by House Republicans, but emerged staggering from the deal struck Friday night. The compromises were damaging, the amount of money cut from a sickly economy was severe, and the image of Washington as a back-alley dogfighting garage will not soon fade.


The worst aspect of the deal, however, was the momentum it gave to Republicans who have hoodwinked many Americans into believing that short-term cuts in spending will be good for the economy. After the agreement was reached, President Obama actually patted himself on the back for agreeing to the “largest annual spending cut in our history.”

Johann Hari: We’re Not Being Told the Truth on Libya

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

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.”

Rania Khalek: the Media Promotes Ignorance and Stifles Debate

Friday night, my eyes were glued to to the news, as I awaited any and all emerging details about the possible government shutdown. As outlets began reporting that republicans and democrats had finally reached a deal, I immediately felt a sense of relief.  Thank goodness, I thought, so much unnecessary suffering averted.  But the relief didn’t last long, because in the pit of my stomach was fear for the many millions of people who will be affected by the $38 billion in budget cuts passed by congress. Unfortunately, the media feels differently, preferring to discuss ad-nausium the budget cut’s political ramifications for the two parties.

The same thing happened when the GOP was determined to shutdown the government if democrats did not sign on to defunding Planned Parenthood.  Again, the media’s focus was not on the health of the 3 million people the organization treats every year, by providing cancer screenings, HIV and STI checks, and contraceptives.  They focused on how this painted republicans as partisan ideologues, or the democrats as supporters for women’s rights, which party was to blame for the almost-shutdown, and most notably, the consequences this would have on their popularity.

Monday Business Edition

Monday Business Edition is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Business

1 Karzai unveils action on troubled Kabul Bank

by Sardar Ahmad, AFP

2 hrs 1 min ago

KABUL (AFP) – Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Monday announced action against bad loans and rogue shareholders in the war-torn country’s troubled Kabul Bank, which came close to collapse last year.

The bank had to be taken over by Afghanistan’s central bank after claims that former executives granted themselves off-the-book loans worth a reported 900 million dollars which were partly used to buy luxury properties in Dubai.

The crisis has highlighted chaos and corruption in Afghanistan’s financial system, more than nine years after Karzai’s Western-supported government replaced the Taliban regime following a US-led invasion in 2001.

On This Day In History April 11

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 11 is the 101st day of the year (102nd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 264 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1814, the Treaty of Fontainebleau ends the War of the Sixth Coalition against Napoleon Bonaparte, and forces him to abdicate unconditionally for the first time.

War of the Sixth Coalition

There was a lull in fighting over the winter of 1812-13 while both the Russians and the French rebuilt their forces; Napoleon was then able to field 350,000 troops. Heartened by France’s loss in Russia, Prussia joined with Austria, Sweden, Russia, Great Britain, Spain, and Portugal in a new coalition. Napoleon assumed command in Germany and inflicted a series of defeats on the Coalition culminating in the Battle of Dresden in August 1813. Despite these successes, the numbers continued to mount against Napoleon, and the French army was pinned down by a force twice its size and lost at the Battle of Leipzig. This was by far the largest battle of the Napoleonic Wars and cost more than 90,000 casualties in total.

Napoleon withdrew back into France, his army reduced to 70,000 soldiers and 40,000 stragglers, against more than three times as many Allied troops. The French were surrounded: British armies pressed from the south, and other Coalition forces positioned to attack from the German states. Napoleon won a series of victories in the Six Days Campaign, though these were not significant enough to turn the tide; Paris was captured by the Coalition in March 1814.

When Napoleon proposed the army march on the capital, his marshals decided to mutiny. On 4 April, led by Ney, they confronted Napoleon. Napoleon asserted the army would follow him, and Ney replied the army would follow its generals. Napoleon had no choice but to abdicate. He did so in favour of his son; however, the Allies refused to accept this, and Napoleon was forced to abdicate unconditionally on 11 April.

   The Allied Powers having declared that Emperor Napoleon was the sole obstacle to the restoration of peace in Europe, Emperor Napoleon, faithful to his oath, declares that he renounces, for himself and his heirs, the thrones of France and Italy, and that there is no personal sacrifice, even that of his life, which he is not ready to do in the interests of France.

   Done in the palace of Fontainebleau, 11 April 1814.

   -Act of abdication of Napoleon

In the Treaty of Fontainebleau, the victors exiled him to Elba, an island of 12,000 inhabitants in the Mediterranean, 20 km off the Tuscan coast. They gave him sovereignty over the island and allowed him to retain his title of emperor. Napoleon attempted suicide with a pill he had carried since a near-capture by Russians on the retreat from Moscow. Its potency had weakened with age, and he survived to be exiled while his wife and son took refuge in Austria. In the first few months on Elba he created a small navy and army, developed the iron mines, and issued decrees on modern agricultural methods.

Six In The Morning

Japan: Powerful earthquake hits north-east

A powerful earthquake has hit north-east Japan, exactly one month after the devastating earthquake and tsunami.

The BBC  11 April 2011

The 7.1-magnitude tremor triggered a brief tsunami warning, and forced workers to evacuate the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant.

The epicentre of the quake was in Fukushima prefecture, and struck at a depth of just 10km (six miles).

It came as Japan said it was extending the evacuation zone around the nuclear plant because of radiation concerns.

The cooling systems at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant were damaged in last month’s disaster. Workers have been struggling to prevent several reactors from overheating, and avert a large-scale release of radiation.

DocuDharma Digest

Regular Features-

Featured Essays for April 10, 2011-


Pique the Geek 20110410: Carbon, the Basis of Life

We hear a lot about carbon these days as a greenhouse gas, sort of giving carbon a bad name.  While I agree that excessive carbon dioxide emissions from the wanton burning of fossil fuels is a  bad thing, it is not the fault of the carbon, but rather the fault of civilization for being unwise in how fossil carbon deposits are used.

As a matter of fact, without some carbon dioxide release, we would all starve because atmospheric carbon dioxide is the sole source of carbon in the food chain, thanks to the photosynthetic ability of green plants.  But this topic has been discussed in many places, sometimes in this regular series.  We shall discuss other properties of carbon and why it is essential to life as we understand life, and perhaps all life yet undiscovered.

Evening Edition

Evening Edition is an Open Thread

Now with 42 Top Stories.

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 British, Dutch announce litigation after Icesave ‘no’ vote

by Agnes Valdimarsdottir, AFP

1 hr 15 mins ago

REYKJAVIK (AFP) – Britain and The Netherlands said Sunday they would return to the courts to get Iceland to refund them billions of euros after voters there said “no” in a referendum to the reimbursement plan.

Iceland’s government insisted it could pay back more than 90 percent of the money lost, despite most voters having rejected a deal to refund 3.9 billion euros ($5.6 billion) to the two countries, according to partial results.

“The Icelandic state has absolutely no problem in repaying its debts” resulting from the collapse of the Icesave bank, Finance Minister Steingrimur Sigfusson told reporters.

from firefly-dreaming 10.4.11

This is an Open Thread

Essays Featured Sunday the 10th of April:

Late Night Karaoke shines a spotlight on The Soggy Bottom Boys, mishima DJs

Six Brilliant Articles! from Six Different Places!! on Six Different Topics!!!

                Six Days a Week!!!    at Six in the Morning!!!!

Alma‘s Got Nothing but brings smiles.  (^.^)


The latest edition of Bill Egnor‘s Sunday Bread is an airey, crusty French Bread for Fondue just in time for Spring entertaining.

KNUCKLEHEAD returns!! His Random Thoughts are truly captivating.