05/20/2011 archive

Evening Edition

Evening Edition is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 At least 27 killed in protests across Syria


45 mins ago

DAMASCUS (AFP) – Syrian security forces on Friday shot dead at least 27 people, including a child, as pro-democracy protests swept the country, with demonstrators pressing on with calls for more freedom in defiance of a fierce crackdown, activists said.

The child was among 11 people killed in the central city of Homs while another 10 died in the town of Maaret al-Naaman, located near the western city of Idlib, the activists said.

They said security forces also killed two people in the southern region of Daraa, epicentre of protests that have gripped Syria since March 15, one in Daraya, a suburb of Damascus, another in the port city of Latakia and two in the eastern town of Deir Ezzor. Dozens were wounded.

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.

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

Paul Krugman: Making Things in America

Some years ago, one of my neighbors, an émigré Russian engineer, offered an observation about his adopted country. “America seems very rich,” he said, “but I never see anyone actually making anything.”

That was a bit unfair, but not completely – and as time went by it became increasingly accurate. By the middle years of the last decade, I used to joke that Americans made a living by selling each other houses, which they paid for with money borrowed from China. Manufacturing, once America’s greatest strength, seemed to be in terminal decline.

But that may be changing. Manufacturing is one of the bright spots of a generally disappointing recovery, and there are signs – preliminary, but hopeful, nonetheless – that a sustained comeback may be under way.

Dahlia Lithwick: Extraordinary Hypocrisy

How Republican senators justified their decision to kill the nomination of Goodwin Liu.

It was a hall of mirrors of hypocrisy at Thursday’s Senate vote on the nomination of Goodwin Liu to be a judge on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. At least 60 senators had to agree to allow the Senate to give Liu a straight up-or-down vote. Didn’t happen. Liu, a professor of law at the University of California at Berkeley, is the first judicial nominee to be filibustered since 2005.

First, there are the most obvious failures of intellectual consistency: Republicans who once claimed that filibustering judicial nominees is “offensive to our nation’s constitutional design” (Sen. John Cornyn, 2004) and flat-out “unconstitutional” (Sen. Lindsey Graham, 2005) voted against Liu. Even the Republican who said he “will vote to support a vote, up or down, on every nominee-understanding that, were I in the minority party and the issues reversed, I would take exactly the same position because this document, our Constitution, does not equivocate”-even that guy (Sen. Johnny Isakson, 2005) voted against Liu.

Richard (RJ) Eskow: Republicans Declare War On Bank Customers As Warren Nomination Heats Up

A group of Democratic representatives has joined consumer groups in calling on the President to make a “recess appointment” of Elizabeth Warren, so she can get to work running the new bureau charged with protecting bank customers from deceptive, dishonest, and unfair bank practices.

That should be a no-brainer: A Warren appointment would be a policy win and a political win. Republicans have purchased first-class tickets on the Crazy Train by vowing to block any appointment to that position, even one that shares their radical anti-regulation ideology. The President can show he means business by acting decisively to fill this important and urgently-needed position.

Eugene Robinson: Newt Gingrich’s meltdown on the launch pad

“I want to make sure every House Republican is protected from some kind of dishonest Democratic ad. So let me say on the record, any ad which quotes what I said on Sunday is a falsehood, because I have publicly said those words were inaccurate and unfortunate.”

A grateful nation thanks you, Newt Gingrich. The presidential campaign is just starting, and already you’ve given us a passage that will live in infamy – forever – in the annals of American political speech. Your delightful quotation shall be filed under “fiascos” and flagged with a cross-reference to “utter nonsense.” I can’t remember when we’ve heard a politician plead so desperately to take back something he said. Then again, naked desperation is clearly in order. The favorite parlor game in Washington this week has been trying to remember a more disastrous campaign launch than the one Gingrich is having. Many candidates have stumbled coming out of the gate, but few have taken off like a shot in the wrong direction.

Dennis Kucinich: US Actions, Not Obama’s Words Tell Story of US Middle East Policy

We all want to be supportive of our President as he attempts to broaden America’s positive role in the Middle East and North Africa. But it is important to critically analyze what the President does, not what he says, when it comes to U.S. policy abroad. When the President says ‘[i]t will be the policy of the United States to promote reform across the region, and to support transitions to democracy,’ we must look more carefully at how this policy has been implemented as well as the implications of the actions that have already been taken.

President Obama violated the Constitution by pursuing war against Libya without a Constitutionally-required authorization for the use of military force or declaration of war from Congress. His actions, and now his policy recitations, set the stage for more interventions, presumably in Syria and Iran. His recounting of the reasons for U.S. intervention in Libya is at odds with the facts. There was no clear evidence of an impending massacre in Libya. There was menacing rhetoric and a violent government put-down of an armed insurrection which may have been joined by some with legitimate non-violent aspirations. No one can justify the actions of any parties to this conflict. In any case, discretion requires leaders to move with the utmost care in developing military responses to rhetoric and similar care to intervention in a civil war.

Dean Baker: Can the Greek People Teach the ECB Economics?

If the European Central Bank does not ease up on its austerity policies, it may push the heavily indebted countries into a downward economic spiral.

There is an old maxim that in any bureaucracy people will always rise to the level of their incompetence. This certainly seems to be the case with the European Central Bank (ECB). After totally ignoring the build-up of dangerous housing bubbles in most euro zone countries, as well as the imbalances that supported these bubbles, the ECB now seems intent on punishing the people in many of these countries for its mistakes.

This is the likely result of the policies that it is now pursuing, whether or not this is the intention. The insistence that the heavily indebted countries in the euro zone – Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Spain – pay off their debt in full will inevitably lead to years of high unemployment in these countries and trillions of dollars of lost output throughout the euro zone as a whole. The budget cuts demanded of these countries will force large reductions in pensions and other social supports at a time when macroeconomic policies ensure that few jobs are available.

Joe Conason: The Gingrich Style

It is hard to see why anyone was surprised by Newt Gingrich’s self-ignited implosion in the earliest hours of his presidential candidacy. The career of the former House speaker and Georgia congressman is practically bursting with proof that he suffers from chronic paranoid hysteria-a condition that has done more to advance than diminish his status among conservatives.

They loved him until he aimed his vitriol against one of their own, House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan, deriding the Wisconsin Republican’s plan to gut Medicare as “right-wing social engineering.”

Inundated by denunciations from every quarter of his party and movement, Gingrich swiftly backtracked and apologized and tried to blame the media. But his former fans are perhaps beginning to realize what most Americans understood about him years ago-that he is wholly untrustworthy and unfit for leadership.

This will work for sure!

Our idiot Washington political “elite”-

Democrats’ New Tactic: Praising 2012 Republicans

By MICHAEL D. SHEAR, The New York Times

May 20, 2011, 7:27 am

Here’s how the strategy could work, according to several Democratic advisers involved in implementing it:

  1. Convincing conservative voters that Republican candidates like Mr. Romney or Mr. Huntsman hold similar views to Mr. Obama might make them unacceptable in a Republican primary dominated by Tea Party activists.
  2. If Republican candidates like Mr. Romney or Mr. Huntsman push back against the Democratic praise, they run the risk of looking like they are flip-flopping on positions they once proudly held.
  3. Finally, if one of the Republicans emerges as the party’s nominee despite the Democratic plaudits, it may be tougher for that candidate to draw distinctions with Mr. Obama on those issues where they have seemed to agree.

Will this work?  C’mon, we’re talking D.C. strategists here.  Even they don’t expect it to work-

“None of us think that the Democratic party can dictate the outcome of the Republican nomination fight,” said one strategist. “But we can have some fun.”

Or it could just be that Obama is actually a Republican, implementing Republican policies.

On This Day In History May 20

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.

Click on image to enlarge

May 20 is the 140th day of the year (141st in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 225 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day on 1896, the six ton chandelier of the Palais Garnier falls on the crowd resulting in the death of one and the injury of many others. The falling of one of the counterweights for the grand chandelier resulted in the death of one person.

This incident, as well as the underground lake, cellars, along with the other elements of the Opera House even the building itself were the inspirations of Gaston Leroux for his classic 1910 Gothic novel, The Phantom of the Opera.

The ceiling area, which surrounds the chandelier, was given a new painting during 1964 by Marc Chagall. This painting was controversial, with many people feeling Chagall’s work clashed with the style of the rest of the theater.

The Palais Garnier, known also as the Opéra de Paris or Opéra Garnier, but more commonly as the Paris Opéra, is a 1,600-seat opera house on the Place de l’Opéra in Paris, France, which was the primary home of the Paris Opera from 1875 until 1989. A grand building designed by Charles Garnier in the Neo-Baroque (or “Baroque Revival”) style (it is also said to be of the related Second Empire style), it is regarded as one of the architectural masterpieces of its time.

Upon its inauguration during 1875, the opera house was named officially the Académie Nationale de Musique – Théâtre de l’Opéra. It retained this title until 1978 when it was re-named the Théâtre National de l’Opéra de Paris. After the opera company chose the Opéra Bastille as their principal theatre upon its completion during 1989, the theatre was re-named as the Palais Garnier, though Académie Nationale de Musique is still sprawled above the columns of its front façade. In spite of the change of names and the Opera company’s relocation to the Opéra Bastille, the Palais Garnier is still known by many people as the Paris Opéra, as have all of the several theatres which have served as the principal venues of the Parisian Opera and Ballet since its initiation.


The Palais Garnier was designed as part of the great reconstruction of Paris during the Second Empire initiated by Emperor Napoleon III, who chose Baron Haussmann to supervise the reconstruction. During 1858 the Emperor authorized Haussmann to clear the required 12,000 square metres (1.2 ha) of land on which to build a second theatre for the world-renowned Parisian Opera and Ballet companies. The project was the subject of architectural design competition during 1861, and was won by the architect Charles Garnier (1825-1898). The foundation stone was laid during 1861, with the start of construction during 1862. Legend is that the Emperor’s wife, the Empress Eugénie, asked Garnier during the construction whether the building would be built in the Greek or Roman style, to which he replied: “It is in the Napoleon III style, Madame!”

Six In The Morning

Israeli PM Netanyahu rejects Obama ‘1967 borders’ view

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu has rejected comments from US President Obama that a future Palestinian state must be based on the 1967 borders.

The BBC  20 May 2011

In a major speech to the state department, Mr Obama said “mutually agreed swaps” would help create “a viable Palestine, and a secure Israel”.

But Mr Netanyahu said those borders, which existed before the 1967 Middle East war, were “indefensible”.

Mr Netanyahu is preparing to meet Mr Obama for talks at the White House.

An estimated 300,000 Israelis live in settlements built in the West Bank, which lies outside those borders.

The settlements are illegal under international law, although Israel disputes this.

Four More Years

No. Not for Obama, for the Patriot Act without amendment or debate. Just when I thought my level of disgust for Barack Obama and Congress could not get any lower, they reach into the pit to continue to trash our freedoms in the name of security. Ben Franklin was right, these so called leaders deserve neither freedom or security.

Barack Obama’s Broken Promise on the Patriot Act, With Effects that Linger On

posted 2nd August 2010 in Barack Obama, Election 2008, Homeland Insecurity, Liberty, Politics by Jim Cook

Barack Obama official campaign position paper, 2008 (pdf):

   Revise the PATRIOT Act.

Barack Obama believes that we must provide law enforcement the tools it needs to investigate, disrupt, and capture terrorists, but he also believes we need real oversight to avoid jeopardizing the rights and ideals of all Americans. There is no reason we cannot fight terrorism while maintaining our civil liberties. Unfortunately, the current administration has abused the powers given to it by the PATRIOT Act. A March 2007 Justice Department audit found the FBI improperly and, in some cases, illegally used the PATRIOT Act to secretly obtain personal information about American citizens. As president, Barack Obama would revisit the PATRIOT Act to ensure that there is real and robust oversight of tools like National Security Letters, sneak-and-peek searches, and the use of the material witness provision.

President Barack Obama, October 2009: writes and sends amendments to Senate Republicans on the Judiciary Committee that successfully remove civil liberties protections from a bill to reauthorize the Patriot Act.

President Barack Obama, February 27 2010: signs a reauthorization of the PATRIOT Act into law without revision.

From David Dayen at FDL

Leadership Makes Deal to Extend Patriot Act Provisions for Four Years

Congressional leaders in both parties made a deal to extend three expiring provisions of the Patriot Act for four more years with little debate. Earlier this year, the same provisions – roving wiretaps, court-approved access to business records, and “lone wolf” provisions allowing surveillance on foreign citizens without connections to terrorists – were extended for 90 days.

   The deal between Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker John Boehner calls for a vote before May 27, when parts of the current act expire, according to officials in both parties who spoke on condition of anonymity. The idea is to pass the extension with as little debate as possible to avoid a protracted and familiar argument over the expanded power the law gives to the government.

   Support for the extension was unclear. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., wanted tighter restrictions on the government’s power and may seek to amend it. In the House, members of the freshman class elected on promises of making government smaller were skeptical.

   “I still have some concerns, and at this point I’m leaning against (voting for) it,” said one, Rep. Andy Harris, R-Md.

Now more than ever, we need access to the crucial authorities in the Patriot Act,” Attorney General Eric Holder told the Senate Judiciary Committee.

I don’t think that democracy would dictate avoiding, but engaging with that argument about civil liberties and the so-called war on terror

Not just a hoax, a liar.

DocuDharma Digest

Regular Features-

Featured Essays for May 19, 2011-


Evening Edition

Evening Edition is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Taliban attack kills 36 at Afghan road company

by Khan Mohammad, AFP

Thu May 19, 10:47 am ET

KHOST, Afghanistan (AFP) – Thirty-six people were killed and 20 wounded Thursday when the Taliban stormed an Afghan road construction company, triggering an hours-long firefight in the worst attack for months.

The violence in the eastern province of Paktia, which borders Pakistan, started at around 2:00am (2130 GMT Wednesday) and raged for several hours.

One security guard who survived told AFP that “hundreds” of Taliban had swamped the compound, forcing him and two colleagues to hide with guns and a few bullets so they could kill themselves if they were found.