06/17/2011 archive

Reporting From NN11: Russ Feingold Keynote Address

Thursday night’s opening speakers to the nearly 2500 bloggers attending this year’s Netroots Nation were former Vermont governor, Dr. Howard Dean, WI State Senator Chris Larsen, AFT President Randi Weingarten and Yemeni blogger Afrah Nasser. The highlight of the night was the keynote address by former Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold who was introduced by Marcy Wheeler of FDL.

Russ Feingold is a hero, and for good reason, to progressives. Russ was one, if not the only one, of the Democratic Senate, make that Senate as a whole, who really stood up for civil liberties in the face of the bipartisan onslaught that has occurred over the last decade, both under George Bush and Barack Obama.

Russ Feingold: ‘The Democratic Party Is In Danger Of Losing Its Identity’

By Amanda Terkel

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. — Former Wisconsin senator Russ Feingold issued Democrats a dire warning at the annual Netroots Nation conference here on Thursday, saying the party was in danger of losing its “soul” if it accepts corporate contributions in the 2012 elections.

“Sometimes we have to be very direct with the Democratic Party,” said Feingold to the crowd of progressive activists and bloggers at the Minneapolis Convention Center. “Just as you have long pushed our Democrats to stand up for their ideals, I’m here this evening to ask you to redouble your efforts. I fear that the Democratic Party is in danger of losing its identity.”

Feingold pointed to Priorities USA, a new Democratic independent expenditure group — known as a super political action committee (PAC) — that is allowed to raise and spend unlimited amounts of corporate money. It was launched by former deputy White House press secretary Bill Burton and former senior adviser Sean Sweeney in April.

“Creating those kinds of super PACs for Democrats is wrong. It is not something we should do. I disagree,” Feingold said. “I think it’s a mistake for us to take the argument that they like to make — that what we’re going to do now is, we’re going to take corporate money like the Republicans do, then after we win, we’ll change it. When’s the last time anyone did that? Most people don’t change the rules after they win.”

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”.

David Sirota: Promoting Militarism While Hiding Bloodshed

In a breathless story somehow presented as a groundbreaking revelation, The New York Times recently reported that the Pentagon is-shocker!-using all sorts of media channels to market itself to the nation’s children. Though the Times presents this as a brand-new development, it is nothing of the sort. The armed forces have spent the last three decades carefully constructing a child-focused Military-Entertainment Complex, which has long had the Pentagon subsidizing everything from video games to movies-most of which glorify militarism to kids.

That said, the Times piece did include one important (if buried) piece of genuine news. It concerns a subtle-yet-insidious shift in martial propaganda-one that opens the military up to charges of rank hypocrisy.

Ari Melber: Liberal Bloggers: Are Democrats Pro-Labor?

Liberal activists rallied in Minneapolis on Thursday for Netroots Nation, a blogger conference that is now one of the largest gatherings in progressive politics. A whopping 2,400 people are here this year, the highest turnout in the conference’s six-year history. The draw is simple: a string of speeches, panels and parties with new political stars, from hometown Senator Al Franken to Paul Ryan’s would-be nemesis Rob Zerbin, along with progressive classics like Van Jones, Howard Dean and Russ Feingold-liberals who have been more vanquished than rewarded for their prescience.

In the first timeslot on Thursday morning, organizers from MoveOn, DFA, PCCC and AFT outlined lessons from the Wisconsin labor protests. About half of the standing-room crowd was from Wisconsin, according to a show of hands, and they were interested in how to tap the backlash to change the dynamics beyond Wisconsin.

Peter Rothberg: End the ‘War on Drugs’

Tomorrow’s 40th anniversary of President Nixon’s declaration of the War on Drugs comes amid growing recognition that the policy, and all that it wrought, is a complete disaster.

Shifting priorities toward a more sensible approach that offers treatment rather than punishment for addicts may seem like a daunting task but public opinion is increasingly opposed to the war on drugs, and many states facing tight budgets are de-emphasizing expensive criminalization in favor of strategies that decrease the penal population.

As Sasha Abramsky explained in an extensively reported and still-timely 2009 piece, “out of economic necessity and because of shifting mores, the country will likely get more selective, and smarter, about how it uses incarceration and whom it targets for long spells behind bars.”

Johann Hari: Cheap Meat, MRSA and Deadly Greed

If they aren’t stopped soon, the WHO warns we are facing a ‘doomsday scenario of a world without antibiotics’

Here is a news story that could determine whether you live or die. Many of the world’s scientists are warning that one of the mightiest weapons doctors have against sickness is being rendered useless – so a few people can get richer, for a while. If they aren’t stopped soon, the World Health Organization warns we are facing “a doomsday scenario of a world without antibiotics”. It will be a world where transplant surgery is impossible. It will be a world where a simple appendix operation will be as routinely lethal as it was in 1927, before the discovery of penicillin. It will be a world where pneumonia and TB and gonorrhea are far harder to deal with, and claim many more of us. But it’s a world that you and I don’t have to see – if we act on this warning now.

As the scientists I’ve interviewed explain it, antibiotics do something simple. They kill, slow down or stall the growth of bacteria. They were one of the great advances of the 20th century, and they have saved millions of us. But they inherently contain a problem – one that was known about from very early on. They start an arms race. Use an antibiotic against bacteria, and it kills most of it – but it can also prompt the bacteria to evolve a tougher, stronger, meaner strain that can fight back. The bacteria is constantly mutating and dividing. The stronger the antibiotic, the stronger some bacteria will become to survive. It’s Darwin dancing at super-speed.

Joe Conason: Washington’s Deeper Immorality Washington’s Deeper Immorality

While the well-deserved departure of Anthony Weiner draws rapt attention in our tabloid nation, the depredations of less colorful but more powerful politicians go unnoticed, so long as no genitalia are involved.

At the moment, for instance, Republican leaders in the House and the Senate are mounting yet another series of assaults on some of the most vulnerable Americans-the poor single mothers who cannot feed their children, and the long-term unemployed who still have no prospect of work nearly two years after the recession supposedly ended.

Hardly anyone other than a lobbyist would normally pay much attention to the machinations of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, but that is where truly indecent behavior is running rampant these days. Members of that subcommittee, who oversee the Women, Infants and Children (or WIC) federal nutrition support program for the poor, recently decreed reductions in its annual funding, just as food prices are rising more rapidly than in many years.

Report From NN11 Minneapolis: Friday

Yesterday was a busy day here at NN11 in sunny, warm Minneapolis, MN. There are so many really interesting panels that choosing which to attend is tough. I’m also here in a different capacity than I was in Pittsburgh two years ago, I have two webs sites that I administer. I’ll talk about that later probably when I get back.

On  of the outstanding panel I attended was with Jane Hamsher of FDL, John Aravosis of AMERICAblog, DADT, LGBT and Army veteran Lt. Dan Choi and Dream Act activist Felipe Matos. They discusses what progressives could do when the president is not into your issues and how to get the administration to take the lead. When the floor opened to questions, the first person to a approach the stage was a young an who said he was a member of Obama For America (OFA) who managed to cause an incident that has gotten quite a bit of attention from the internet and on-line news media:

Lt. Dan Choi, who was discharged from the military for running afoul of its anti-gay Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, provided a visual when an Organizing for America volunteer stood up and asked him to support Obama in 2012. The man said he did not support gay marriage — “civil unions?” he offered weakly — and Choi promptly ripped up an Organizing for America flyer he had been given and threw it back in the man’s face.

I also had the pleasure and honor of saluting Lt. Choi and giving him a hug. Here’s is the video of the full panel which was quite a lively conversation

Watch live streaming video from freespeechtv at livestream.com

Krugman on Macroeconomics

I often quote Herr Docktor Professor when I agree with him because he’s got a Nobel Prize and I…

Well, I have many accomplishments I’m quite proud of but a Nobel Prize in Economics is not among them.

Recently he’s published two summaries of his pieces on macroeconomics that I’d like to draw to your attention before they scroll away and get hard to find-

Macro Readings, Self-Referential Edition, June 10, 2011

Macro Readings Update, June 13, 2011

(note: He includes some duplicates I have omitted.  Also I have arranged them chronologically.)

Now just because I’m drawing them to your attention does not constitute endorsement.  I think Krugman’s criticisms of Modern Monetary Theory miss the mark almost entirely and he makes frequent category errors, too charitably ascribing to ignorance positions that are mercenary at best and motivated by pure evil in other cases.

Still, it’s not every Nobel Prize winning professor who gives away his lectures for free.

On This Day In History June 17

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.

June 17 is the 168th day of the year (169th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 197 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1885, the Statue of Liberty, a gift of friendship from the people of France to the people of the United States, arrives in New York City’s harbor.

The Statue of Liberty (Liberty Enlightening the World, French: La Liberté éclairant le monde) is a colossal neoclassical sculpture on Liberty Island in New York Harbor, designed by Frédéric Bartholdi and dedicated on October 28, 1886. The statue, a gift to the United States from the people of France, is of a robed female figure representing Libertas, the Roman goddess of freedom, who bears a torch and a tabula ansata (a tablet evoking the law) upon which is inscribed the date of the American Declaration of Independence. A broken chain lies at her feet. The statue has become an icon of freedom and of the United States.

Bartholdi was inspired by French law professor and politician Édouard René de Laboulaye, who commented in 1865 that any monument raised to American independence would properly be a joint project of the French and American peoples. Due to the troubled political situation in France, work on the statue did not commence until the early 1870s. In 1875, Laboulaye proposed that the French finance the statue and the Americans provide the pedestal and the site. Bartholdi completed both the head and the torch-bearing arm before the statue was fully designed, and these pieces were exhibited for publicity at international expositions. The arm was displayed in New York’s Madison Square Park from 1876 to 1882. Fundraising proved difficult, especially for the Americans, and by 1885 work on the pedestal was threatened due to lack of funds. Publisher Joseph Pulitzer of the World initiated a drive for donations to complete the project, and the campaign inspired over 120,000 contributors, most of whom gave less than a dollar. The statue was constructed in France, shipped overseas in crates, and assembled on the completed pedestal on what was then called Bedloe’s Island. The statue’s completion was marked by New York’s first ticker-tape parade and a dedication ceremony presided over by President Grover Cleveland.

The statue was administered by the United States Lighthouse Board until 1901 and then by the Department of War; since 1933 it has been maintained by the National Park Service. The statue was closed for renovation for much of 1938. In the early 1980s, it was found to have deteriorated to such an extent that a major restoration was required. While the statue was closed from 1984 to 1986, the torch and a large part of the internal structure were replaced. After the September 11 attacks in 2001, it was closed for reasons of safety and security; the pedestal reopened in 2004 and the statue in 2009, with limits on the number of visitors allowed to ascend to the crown. The statue is scheduled to close for up to a year beginning in late 2011 so that a secondary staircase can be installed. Public access to the balcony surrounding the torch has been barred for safety reasons since 1916.

Six In The Morning

Egyptian revolution’s unsung heroes languish in hospitals

An estimated 11,000 people were injured in protests that toppled Hosni Mubarak. But months later, as many still undergo costly treatment, officials have done little to compensate their families or prosecute their attackers.

By Molly Hennessy-Fiske, Los Angeles Times

June 17, 2011

Reporting from Cairo– When Rahma Mohamed steps out of her son’s line of sight, he begins to tremble. She rushes to cradle the 23-year-old’s thin frame, kissing his stubbly cheek.

“Relax,” she murmurs. “I’m here next to you; you’re all right. Don’t cry.”

Since Jan. 28, when security forces beat him and ran him over during the protests that toppled President Hosni Mubarak, Mahmoud Mohamed has been unable to speak, walk, eat or use the bathroom on his own. His head is a tapestry of scars and bandages, tubes sprout from his neck, and his palsied hands are clasped in front of a now-bony chest.

He was trying to protect two friends. His mother says both were shot to death by security forces.

Friday’s Headlines:

Tunisia woos tourists with controversial advertising campaign

Athens on ‘political suicide mission’ to pass cuts after €12bn loan deal

Syria crisis: Troops move into towns in north

Nato pounds Tripoli as rebels reject election offer

Vietnam-China Spratly Islands dispute threatens to escalate

DocuDharma Digest

Regular Features-

Featured Essays for June 16, 2011-