06/14/2011 archive

Vox Frustrati (Vol. 3): Limericks

Welcome to the Vox Frustrati diary series.  Vox is a persona and this project is a collaboration by a group of people.

Vox Frustrati is here to give voice to our progressive concerns.  He welcomes correspondence from you at VoxFrustrati at gmail dot com.

If you have something to say, a rant, a comment or a question, Vox might decide to lend you his voice, either anonymously or with your byline. It is your choice.  Vox does reserve editorial rights.

Thou Shalt Not Intimidate, Scare or Distress

This nuisance law passed by the right wing, ultra-ignorant of the US Constitution, Tennessee legislature is most assuredly unconstitutional and unenforceable even if it were. Can you just picture the mile high stack of law suits filed in Tennessee courts? Can you imagine the cost to the state? Smaller government? LMAO

Tennessee big government conservatives ban upsetting images

Rachel Maddow reports on a new Tennessee law that bans the transmission or display of an image on-line that can frighten, intimidate or cause emotional distress to someone who sees it.

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”.

New York Times Editorial: Nearly a Year After Dodd-Frank

Without strong leaders at the top of the nation’s financial regulatory agencies, the Dodd-Frank financial reform doesn’t have a chance. Whether it is protecting consumers against abusive lending, reforming the mortgage market or reining in too-big-to-fail banks, all require tough and experienced regulators.

Too many of these jobs are vacant, or soon will be, or are filled by caretakers. So it was a relief last week when President Obama said he had decided on a well-qualified nominee to be the new chairman for the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and would make other nominations soon. The White House needs to move quickly and be prepared to fight.

Daniel Ellsberg: Why the Pentagon Papers Matter Now

While we go on waging unwinnable wars on false premises, the Pentagon papers tell us we must not wait 40 years for the truth

The declassification and online release Monday of the full original version of the Pentagon Papers – the 7,000-page top secret Pentagon study of US decision-making in Vietnam 1945-67 – comes 40 years after I gave it to 19 newspapers and to Senator Mike Gravel (minus volumes on negotiations, which I had given only to the Senate foreign relations committee). Gravel entered what I had given him in the congressional record and later published nearly all of it with Beacon Press. Together with the newspaper coverage and a government printing office (GPO) edition that was heavily redacted but overlapped the Senator Gravel edition, most of the material has been available to the public and scholars since 1971. (The negotiation volumes were declassified some years ago; the Senate, if not the Pentagon, should have released them no later than the end of the war in 1975.)

In other words, today’s declassification of the whole study comes 36 to 40 years overdue. Yet, unfortunately, it happens to be peculiarly timely that this study gets attention and goes online just now. That’s because we’re mired again in wars – especially in Afghanistan – remarkably similar to the 30-year conflict in Vietnam, and we don’t have comparable documentation and insider analysis to enlighten us on how we got here and where it’s likely to go.

Jim Hightower: The GOP’s Medicare Lies

In an astonishing observation, Rep. Paul Ryan recently declared: “Washington has not been honest with you.”

Gosh, Paul, that possibility never occurred to us!

What makes the Wisconsin lawmaker’s observation astonishing is the fact that he is Washington – a seven-term Republican insider, House budget chairman, and author of the GOP’s ideologically contrived budget-whacking plan that kills America’s enormously popular Medicare program.

But Ryan didn’t mean to point his finger at himself. No, no. He meant those dastardly Democrats who’ve dared to tell the public about his proposal to replace Medicare with a privatized voucher scheme. Understandably, the public is now angry with Ryan and his Republican cohorts. Hence, he is scurrying around in a shamefully dishonest PR campaign to accuse the Democrats of – what else? – dishonesty. Ryan’s plan, he asserts, would give seniors “the same kind of (health insurance) system members of Congress enjoy today.”

E. J. Dionne, Jr.: Gridlocking the Lives of the Jobless

Welcome to the miserable world of no-way-out politics.

The economy needs another jolt, but Congress is in gridlock. Democrats, or most of them, realize that their political futures and the well-being of millions of households hang on whether unemployment can be brought down. Yet Republicans have the capacity to block even the smallest steps forward.

Here’s what the Democrats’ agony looks like from the inside. Last Thursday, Senate Democrats devoted their weekly policy lunch to a simple question: What proposals to spur job creation have any chance of passing Congress, given Republican control of the House and the effective veto power the GOP has in a Senate where a simple majority no longer rules?

Chris Hedges: No Justice in Kafka’s America

In Franz Kafka’s short story “Before the Law” a tireless supplicant spends his life praying for admittance into the courts of justice. He sits outside the law court for days, months and years. He makes many attempts to be admitted. He sacrifices everything he owns to sway or bribe the stern doorkeeper. He ages, grows feeble and finally childish. He is told as he nears death that the entrance was constructed solely for him and it will now be closed.

Justice has become as unattainable for Muslim activists in the United States as it was for Kafka’s frustrated petitioner. The draconian legal mechanisms that condemn Muslim Americans who speak out publicly about the outrages we commit in the Middle East have left many, including Syed Fahad Hashmi, wasting away in supermax prisons. These citizens posed no security threat. But they dared to speak a truth about the sordid conduct of our nation that the state found unpalatable. And in the bipartisan war on terror, waged by Republicans and Democrats, this ugly truth in America is branded seditious.

Amanda Marcotte: “Shoot the Slut:” The 21st Century Backlash Is All About Sex

As Susan Faludi demonstrated in “Backlash,” attitudes about gender and sexuality tend to be cyclical.  Women’s success in the workplace, especially, has a tendency to create anti-feminist backlashes.  As Faludi documented, the 80s backlash in response to the normalization of professional work for women took shape in demands that women embrace more feminine-submissive behaviors and fashions, the idolizing of housewives as perfect women, and attacks on reproductive rights.

Despite the previous anti-feminist administration, the past couple of decades have been good for women: education levels rose to meet and exceed men’s, women’s leadership became more normalized from Condie Rice to Hillary Clinton, and the public debate over sexual harassment in the 90s was won by feminists (though social disapproval of it remains no more than an inch deep).  Even the existence of the feminist blogosphere can be counted as a major triumph.  The tendency of news magazines to periodically declare feminism “dead” can’t withstand the overwhelming online evidence that feminism is very much alive.

Peter Rothberg: Barbie’s Rainforest Destruction Habit Revealed

In less than three days, close to one million people have viewed an online spoof video featuring the moment Ken discovers, to his horror, that Barbie is involved in rainforest destruction, and almost 200,000 e-mailers have swamped Mattel’s offices complaining about the company’s use of packaging products from Indonesian rain forests.

Indonesia has one of the fastest rates of forest destruction in the world. The Indonesian government estimates that more than one million hectares of rainforests are being cleared every year, so time is not on our side.

The campaign is being led by Greenpeace International after the organization’s investigators used forensic testing, “in country” investigation, mapping data and the tracing of company certificates to reveal that Barbie’s packaging is being produced by Asia Pulp and Paper, Indonesia’s most notorious rainforest destroyer.

On This Day In History June 14

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

June 14 is the 165th day of the year (166th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 200 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1777, during the American Revolution, the Continental Congress adopts a resolution stating that “the flag of the United States be thirteen alternate stripes red and white” and that “the Union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new Constellation.”

The Flag Resolution of 1777

On June 14, 1777, the Marine Committee of the Second Continental Congress passed the Flag Resolution which stated: “Resolved, that the flag of the United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new Constellation.” Flag Day is now observed on June 14 of each year. A false tradition holds that the new flag was first hoisted in June 1777 by the Continental Army at the Middlebrook encampment.

The 1777 resolution was most probably meant to define a naval ensign, rather than a national flag. It appears between other resolutions from the Marine Committee. On May 10, 1779, Secretary of the Board of War Richard Peters expressed concern “it is not yet settled what is the Standard of the United States.”

The Flag Resolution did not specify any particular arrangement, number of points, nor orientation for the stars. The pictured flag shows 13 outwardly-oriented five-pointed stars arranged in a circle, the so-called Betsy Ross flag. Although the Betsy Ross legend is controversial, the design is among the oldest of any U.S. flags. Popular designs at the time were varied and most were individually crafted rather than mass-produced. Other examples of 13-star arrangements can be found on the Francis Hopkinson flag, the Cowpens flag, and the Brandywine flag. Given the scant archaeological and written evidence, it is unknown which design was the most popular at that time.

Despite the 1777 resolution, a number of flags only loosely based on the prescribed design were used in the early years of American independence. One example may have been the Guilford Court House Flag, traditionally believed to have been carried by the American troops at the Battle of Guilford Court House in 1781.

The origin of the stars and stripes design is inadequately documented. The apocryphal story credits Betsy Ross for sewing the first flag from a pencil sketch handed to her by George Washington. No evidence for this exists; indeed, nearly a century had passed before Ross’ grandson, William Canby, first publicly suggested it. Another woman, Rebecca Young, has also been credited as having made the first flag by later generations of her family. Rebecca Young’s daughter was Mary Pickersgill, who made the Star Spangled Banner Flag.

It is likely that Francis Hopkinson of New Jersey, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, designed the 1777 flag while he was the Chairman of the Continental Navy Board’s Middle Department, sometime between his appointment to that position in November 1776 and the time that the flag resolution was adopted in June 1777. This contradicts the Betsy Ross legend, which suggests that she sewed the first Stars and Stripes flag by request of the government in the Spring of 1776. Hopkinson was the only person to have made such a claim during his own lifetime, when he sent a bill to Congress for his work. He asked for a “Quarter Cask of the Public Wine” as payment initially. The payment was not made, however, because it was determined he had already received a salary as a member of Congress, and he was not the only person to have contributed to the design. No one else contested his claim at the time.

Why America Needs Russ Feingold

Wisconsin voters are suffering from “buyers remorse” and are now using the democratic process to remedy some of the bad choices they made last November by recalling six Republicans state senators. The petitions to re-call Gov. Scott Walker are already being prepared with more legislators being targeted. At a rally in Madison this past weekend, one of those November losers, former Sen. Russ Feingold gave arousing speech rallying support for the up coming re-call vote.

Why are we in a place called Walkerville today? I will tell you why we’re here. We are here because we will not stop until we win, until this is over. We are here because the big corporate interests in this country decided, about 20 years ago, ‘I think the first thing we’ll do is pass a bunch of trade agreements and ship overseas all the jobs of the people in the private sector’, that’s the first thing they decided to do. They got the job done on that, ruthlessly, tricking both parties into it, and then they said ‘Okay, now we go after the public employees. Let’s go after, those, let’s start saying that teachers aren’t the people they are, let’s start demonizing public employees, and maybe we can get the people who lost their jobs on the private side to turn on the people on the public side!’. It’s divide and conquer by the big money interests in this country, that’s always been their strategy. Frankly, I don’t think all of us saw it coming. I certainly didn’t see the ruthlessness and how far they would go with this. . . .

We only need 17 of em. So that we are able to keep Walker stopped. But that doesn’t mean we can’t do anything more. That’s not enough. Then we gotta take back the state assembly in the 2012 elections. And then we all agree, we want the trifecta, and that we have to defeat Scott Walker and get a new Governor. And then we need a repeal passed by the Democratic state senate, passed by the Democratic state assembly and then signed by the new Democratic governor, that is what we need.

I am here to stand with you to continue that fight. If it takes a year, great, if it takes five years, it’s worth it. This is not a short term deal. I used to say when I maybe occasionally played a little to aggressively with my sister, ‘The game is not over until I win!’, well, this game is not over until WE WIN!

Get this man back into public office, either the Senate or the Wisconsin State house as governor, better yet as President of the United States.

h/T Crooks & Liars and Ministry of Truth

The Abbreviated Evening Edition

Due to schedules and technical problems we have been unable to bring you our Evening Edition. While the technical difficulties are being remedied the scheduling is going to be very tight for the next two weeks as I will be traveling and ek hornbeck will being doing his annual “playing in the mud” event (don’t ask, you really do not want to know).

Tonight’s Evening Edition will be a bit abbreviated, I have last minute shopping and packing. Thank you for your patience, for reading and we sincerely apologize for the inconvenience to our readers.

Syrian army presses scorched earth campaign in north

DAMASCUS (AFP) – The Syrian army pressed a scorched earth campaign in the northern mountains on Monday even as state media said two top officials had been banned from foreign travel in a state probe into their role in a previous bloody crackdown.

Washington called on President Bashar al-Assad to lead a transition or leave power, as Western government expressed mounting frustration at the failure of the UN Security Council to agree a resolution condemning Syria’s response to three months of protests.

“Meaningful probability” of a China hard landing: Roubini

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – China faces a “meaningful probability” of a hard economic landing and the euro zone is storing up problems for the future by not tackling the debt crisis head on, said Nouriel Roubini, the economist who predicted the global financial crisis.

He said U.S. Treasury prices, which have risen sharply as investors sought a safe haven from the euro area debt crisis and worries about a slowdown in the global economy, were fairly valued although he was cautious about U.S. equities.

New York-based Roubini is closely followed by Wall Street because he predicted the U.S. housing meltdown that precipitated the global downturn.

China avoided a hard landing during the global credit crunch but faces a downturn after 2013 as it will struggle to keep increasing fixed investments, Roubini said.