Daily Archive: 07/14/2011

Jul 14 2011

La Fête Nationale

La Fête Nationale, le quatorze juillet, or to Americans Bastille Day is the French national holiday which marks the start of the French Revolution with the storming of the Bastille in 1789.

The Storming of the Bastille

On 17 May 1789, Louis XVI convened the Estates-General to hear their grievances. The deputies of the Third Estate representing the common people (the two others were the Catholic Church and nobility) decided to break away and form a National Assembly. On 20 June the deputies of the Third Estate took the Tennis Court Oath, swearing not to separate until a constitution had been established. They were gradually joined by delegates of the other estates; Louis XVI started to recognize their validity on 27 June. The assembly re-named itself the National Constituent Assembly on 9 July, and began to function as a legislature and to draft a constitution.

In the wake of the 11 July dismissal of Jacques Necker, the people of Paris, fearful that they and their representatives would be attacked by the royal military, and seeking to gain ammunition and gunpowder for the general populace, stormed the Bastille, a fortress-prison in Paris which had often held people jailed on the basis of lettres de cachet, arbitrary royal indictments that could not be appealed. Besides holding a large cache of ammunition and gunpowder, the Bastille had been known for holding political prisoners whose writings had displeased the royal government, and was thus a symbol of the absolutism of the monarchy. As it happened, at the time of the siege in July 1789 there were only seven inmates, none of great political significance.

When the crowd-eventually reinforced by mutinous gardes françaises-proved a fair match for the fort’s defenders, Governor de Launay, the commander of the Bastille, capitulated and opened the gates to avoid a mutual massacre. However, possibly because of a misunderstanding, fighting resumed. Ninety-eight attackers and just one defender died in the actual fighting, but in the aftermath, de Launay and seven other defenders were killed, as was the ‘prévôt des marchands’ (roughly, mayor) Jacques de Flesselles.

The storming of the Bastille was more important as a rallying point and symbolic act of rebellion than a practical act of defiance.

Shortly after the storming of the Bastille, on 4 August feudalism was abolished and on 26 August, the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen proclaimed.

This time of the year it stay light in Paris until very late so the fireworks will start at 11 PM local time, 5 PM EDT.

You can view the festivities live from this French website. A digital clock on the homepage is counting down the minutes until the big event.

Pop some champagne and celebrate. Vive La France!

Jul 14 2011

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”.

Robert Reich: Why Mitch McConnell Will Win the Day

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s compromise on the debt ceiling is a win for the President disguised as a win for Republicans. But it really just kicks the can down the road past the 2012 election – which is what almost every sane politician in Washington wants to happen in any event.

McConnell’s plan would allow the President to raise the debt limit. Congressional Republicans could then vote against the action with resolutions of disapproval. But these resolutions would surely be vetoed by the President. And such a veto, like all vetoes, could only be overridden by two-thirds majorities in both the House and Senate – which couldn’t possibly happen with the Democrats in the majority in the Senate and having enough votes in the House to block an override.

Get it? The compromise allows Republicans to vote against raising the debt limit without bearing the horrendous consequences of a government default.

No budget cuts. No tax increases. No clear plan for deficit reduction. Nada. The entire, huge, mind-boggling, wildly partisan, intensely ideological, grandly theatrical, game of chicken miraculously vanishes.

Until the 2012 election, that is.

David McCullough: Vive la Similarité

Consider that the war that gave birth to the nation, our war for independence, would almost certainly have failed had it not been for heavy French financial backing and military support, on both land and sea. At the crucial surrender of the British at Yorktown, for example, the French army under Rochambeau was larger than our own commanded by Washington. The British commander, Cornwallis, was left with no escape and no choice but to surrender only because a French fleet sailed into the Chesapeake Bay at exactly the right moment.

The all-important treaty ending the Revolutionary War, wherein King George III recognized the United States to be “free, sovereign and independent,” was signed in Paris. The plan for our new capital city on the Potomac was designed by a French engineer, Pierre Charles L’Enfant. The first great statue of our first president was the work of a French sculptor, Jean-Antoine Houdon. The first major study of us as a people, “Democracy in America,” was written by a French historian, Alexis de Tocqueville. Published in 1835, it remains one of the wisest books ever written about us.

Glen Ford Obama’s “Big Deal”: Wallowing with Pigs in Search of a Grand Center-Right Coalition

Barack Obama is salivating at the prospect of concluding his Big Deal with the Republicans, the one that will move the center robustly – even transformatively – to the Right, where this president really lives. The debt-limit deadline is Obama’s big chance to panic a significant part of the Democratic Party into joining in the rape of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. “When the debt-limit showdown arrives, pray for gridlock, which would at least mean there is still resistance to Republican extortion.”

President Obama says he’s determined to make the “big deal” with the Republicans – not like the little, piddling deals he has been cutting all along to benefit the corporate classes, but the BIG deal, the grand consensus he believes he was born to forge with the GOP. Although it’s true that it will take a whopper of a deal to outclass the bipartisan joint venture that transferred $14 trillion to Wall Street, the vast bulk of it on Obama’s watch, the First Black President is nothing if not ambitious. Obama’s Big Deal is actually the coup de grace for Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal and Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society – relics, like Black activism, standing in the way of a post-everything world.

Nicholas D. Kristof: The Opposing Party

Confused about the position of Congressional Republicans on the economy? Good. You should be.

Senator Mitch McConnell has a clever plan to resolve the federal debt impasse. Congressional Republicans would invite President Obama to raise the debt ceiling on his own, and then they would excoriate him for doing so.

Hm. Just a bit contradictory?

Meanwhile, the impasse arose because Congressional Republicans thunder against government red ink, yet refuse to raise revenue by ending tax breaks that help Warren Buffett pay a lower tax rate than his receptionist (which he agrees is preposterous).

Another contradiction? Of course.

E.J. Dionne, Jr.: Obama Can’t Celebrate Yet

The wounded are especially dangerous fighters. President Barack Obama now occupies the high ground in the debt ceiling debate, having called the Republicans’ bluff on the debt. He showed that deficit reduction is not now, and never has been, the GOP’s priority. He dare not get overconfident.

After thwarting the deal that House Speaker John Boehner was cooking up with Obama, Rep. Eric Cantor, the majority leader and Boehner’s rival, needs to show he knew what he was doing and recoup political ground. Cantor is likely to present Obama with spending cuts that the president once seemed to endorse as part of a large deal but will have to reject now that the big agreement is dead. There is still a lot of danger out there.

Michelle Chen: Violence Against Migrant Women Won’t End After DSK Case

The media circus surrounding the Dominique Strauss-Kahn rape case dishes out more drama each day, with a side of lurid fascination. But we basically know how the story ends. The narrative of the immigrant housekeeper assaulted by a European official perfectly illustrates an axiom of violence and power: the wider the gap between genders and races, the greater the latitude of injustice.

Yet the same story plays out every day on an endless loop around the globe: a retaliatory rape against a young girl sends a warning to the enemy militia; a wife is pummeled into bloody silence, her bedroom beyond the purview of traditional local courts; a daughter is married off to pay down a farm debt. The stories weave into a pattern that a media-fatigued public has come to normalize.

Robert C. Koehler: Panetta’s Iraq Invasion Gaffe

Leon Panetta, on his first visit to Iraq as secretary of defense last weekend, reached for a Bush moment ten years too late

“The reason you guys are here is because on 9/11 the United States got attacked,” he said to the assembled troops at Camp Victory in Baghdad, according to the Washington Post. “And 3,000 Americans – 3,000 not just Americans, 3,000 human beings, innocent human beings – got killed because of al-Qaida. And we’ve been fighting as a result of that.”

Yeah, oops, gaffe, Mr. Secretary, right? That Iraq-al-Qaida connection thingy isn’t in the spin anymore, and Panetta’s assistant had to mop up afterwards, making sure no one misinterpreted the boss’s remarks as reopening an old “debate” by reiterating a long-abandoned lie.

Jul 14 2011

I like irony.

About That McConnell Deal…

By: Jane Hamsher, Firedog Lake

Thursday July 14, 2011 6:36 am

The irony is that the Obamabots are so out of touch with who Obama is and what he wants they don’t realize that by cheering for the McConnell deal, and his prowess in making McConnell “blink,” it amounts to twisting the knife for him. It makes it impossible for him to reject the deal (in) the end – which empowers the GOP to hold out.

Cantor offered a temporary extension three times last night, and by both Democratic and GOP accounts, that’s what made Obama snap. He wouldn’t be rejecting it “even if it brings my presidency down,” and taking his case to the American people, if he thought he had scored some big victory.

You gotta feel sorry for the guy. His most ardent supporters are the dumbest motherfuckers in the world, and they don’t  realize he thinks they are digging his political grave.

What Obama wants is to cut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.

dday

Obama reiterated that his “strong preference is not just to raise the debt ceiling but also to take significant steps to restrain borrowing.” As I’ve said repeatedly, by his own words, he wants to use this as a leverage point. The family of the hostage victim has become the hostage taker. So you have to believe that this Reid/McConnell deal, which mandates spending cuts even though the Republican leader in the Senate took them off the table, is being tailored to placate a Democratic President.

He’s threatened to veto any bill that doesn’t do that.  He and the advisers he’s personally picked to listen to and put in positions of policy influence believe in provably false economic theories and ‘political science’ that’s equally suspect.

Electoral victory my ass.

Jul 14 2011

Le Tour- Stage 12

Cugnaux to Luz-Ardiden 132 miles

Le.  Tour.  De.  France.

Our first High Mountains.  Lots of uphill, the sprint checkpoint and then 3 climbs- Hourquette d’Ancizan (category 1), Col du Tormalet (unclassified), and the finish at Luz-Ardiden (also unclassified).

The first is actually the steepest, but they range from 7.5% to 7.3% grades so they’re all pretty steep.

Contador will be looking to make a statement since he has a 3 day opportunity to put this away.  He starts out about 1:30 behind his competition.

Yesterday the Mad Manx took over the points competition with Gilbert and Rojas close behind and Greipel and Hushovd slightly farther back.  They’ll contest the intermediate checkpoint points but you have to expect the Stage winner to be a climber.

However there are always surprises.

Surprise early coverage on Vs. starts at 6 am!

Jul 14 2011

On This Day In History July 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 images to enlarge

July 14 is the 195th day of the year (196th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 170 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1790, the citizens of Paris celebrate the constitutional monarchy and national reconciliation in the Fête de la Fédération.

The Fête de la Fédération of the 14 July 1790 was a huge feast and official event to celebrate the establishment of the short-lived constitutional monarchy in France and what people of the time considered to be the happy conclusion of the French Revolution, the outcome hoped for by the monarchiens.

The Fête de la Fédération in Paris was the most prominent event of a series of spontaneous celebrations all over France: from August 1789, Fédérations appeared in towns and countryside; on 5 June 1790, with lots of individual feasts to celebrate the new state of France, a constitutional monarchy. The National Assembly approved the suggestion by the Commune de Paris to organise a “general Federation”. Organised late, it was largely an improvisation. The idea was not to contest the legitimacy of the king Louis XVI, but to show the general will for stable institutions and a national reconciliation and unity. In the words of Jean Sylvain Bailly, astronomer and mayor of Paris: “We suggest that this meeting (…) be sworn on the next 14 July, which we shall all see as the time of liberty: this day shall be spent swearing to uphold and defend it”. Charon, President of the Commune of Paris, stated: “French, we are free! French, we are brothers!”.

The event took place on the Champ de Mars, which was at the time far outside Paris. The place had been transformed on a voluntary basis by the population of Paris itself, in what was recalled as the Journée des brouettes (“Wheelbarrow Day”).

Official Celebration

The feast began as early as four in the morning, under a strong rain which would last the whole day (the Journal de Paris had predicted “frequent downpours”).

14 000 Federated (Fédérés) came from the province, every single National Guard unit having sent two men out of every hundred. They were ranged according to their département under 83 banners. They were brought to the place were the Bastille once stood, and went through Saint-Antoine, Saint-Denis and Saint-Honoré streets before crossing the temporary bridge and arriving at the Champ de Mars. Deputies from other nations, “Swedes, Spaniards, Polacks, Turks, Chaldeans, Greeks, and dwellers in Mesopotamia,” representatives of the human race, “with three hundred drummers, twelve hundred wind-musicians, and artillery planted on height after height to boom the tidings all over France, the highest recorded triumph of the Thespian art.”

A mass was celebrated by Charles Maurice de Talleyrand, bishop of Autun under the Ancien Régime. The very popular General marquis de La Fayette, as both captain of the National Guard of Paris and confident of the king, took his oath to the Constitution:

” We swear forever to be faithful to the Nation, to the Law and to the King, to uphold with all our might the Constitution as decided by the National Assembly and accepted by the King, and to protect according to the laws the safety of people and properties, transit of grains and food within the kingdom, the public contributions under whatever forms they might exist, and to stay united with all the French with the indestructible bounds of brotherhood[ ”

It is noticeable that at this time, the French Constitution of 1791 was not yet written; it would only take effect in September 1791. La Fayette was followed by the President of the National Assembly. Eventually, Louis XVI took his oath

” I, King of the French, I swear to use the power given to me by the constitutional law of the State, to maintain the Constitution as decided by the National Assembly and accepted by myself, and to enforce the laws. ”

The style “King of the French”, used for the first time instead of “King of France (and Navarre)”, was an innovation intended to inaugurate a “popular monarchy” which linked the monarch’s title to the people, not to the territory of France.

The Queen rose and showed the Dauphin, future Louis XVII, saying :

” This is my son, who, like me, joins in the same sentiments.[5] ”

With the permission of the National Assembly, a delegation of the United States of America, led by John Paul Jones, founder of the US Navy, joined the feast. It also included Thomas Paine, James Swan, Georges Howell, Benjamin Jarvis, Samuel Blackden, Joel Barlow and William Henry Vernon. The delegation arrived at the Champ de Mars with its flag, the first instance ever of a US flag flown outside of the USA, and was cheered by the people.

Jul 14 2011

Send In The Drones: Crisis In Somalia

Somalia is suffering the worst food shortage in 60 years.

The combination of severe drought and a conflict in Somalia is driving people across its borders as they seek food, water and safety. Almost half the children arriving in refugee camps in Ethiopia from southern Somalia are malnourished. This is a very visible tragedy of families who’ve walked for weeks, their children growing weak with hunger, in need of assistance.

Consecutive poor rainy seasons have resulted in communities struggling year after year, never fully recuperating from previous droughts. Few resources have been made available to ensure families recover and to mitigate future crises.

In some cases, a phenomenon called “green drought” has led to misunderstandings about what families are facing. “Green drought” gives the faulty appearance of a lush landscape when light rain causes greenery to spring up from the earth. Unfortunately, this vegetation is often inedible, leaving people without enough food to eat. To outsiders it seems unbelievable.

In other cases, families are facing a food shortage due to a lack of land on which to grow crops. Land is passed down to children and, over the years, the available plots to produce food have been growing smaller and smaller. With the added pressures of erosion, there is rarely enough land to grow the food needed, despite how much or how little it rains.

These challenges, combined with climate change, extreme and consistent poverty and conflict are just some of the causes of this grave situation.

UNICEF has resumed airlifts into parts of Somali controlled by militants with the blessings of said militants:

Last week, al-Shabab said it welcomed the return of humanitarian groups into the areas it controls.

Also Wednesday, the African Union said it is working with AU peacekeepers to increase security in Somalia to ensure that humanitarian assistance gets to Somalis who need it. An AU spokesman said the African Union is helping to secure both the seaport and the airport, making it possible to bring in the aid supplies.

He also said former Ghanaian president Jerry Rawlings will soon go to Somalia to assess the situation for the African Union.

Earlier Wednesday, the U.N. World Food Program said it may resume operations in southern Somalia if security conditions allow. The WFP halted its work in areas controlled by al-Shabab last year, citing threats and extortion demands.

While the United States response of $5 million to assist the relief effort is admirable, the US is  more concerned about counter-terrorism. As reported by Jeremy Scahill in The Nation, our government in their wisdom has been running a fortified compound near the capital’s airport for training Somali intelligence agents in counterterrorism and a prison in the basement of Somalia’s National Security Agency headquarters for detaining suspected terrorists. Umm, so much for ending those secret prisons that Obama’s supporters will swear have been all closed.

The US has been ratcheting up operations in Somalia for months and has admitted to sending unmanned drones and then marines to collect the bodies of the miltants.. How many wars does this make now in the no longer existent Global War On Terror? 5? 6? I’m losing count.

Glen Ford of the Black Agenda Report rightly asserts that the US has helped exacerbate this crisis by militarization of the region:

The Americans blame the al-Shabab resistance for exacerbating the drought emergency, but for at least two years the Americans have used food as a weapon of war in Somalia, in an effort to starve out those who might be supporting the Shabab. The U.S. has armed an array of militias operating near the Ethiopian and Kenyan borders, making normal agricultural pursuits all but impossible, and the current world-class catastrophe, inevitable.

Whenever the U.S. ratchets up its armed interventions in Somalia, disaster follows. Four years ago, after the Americans instigated an Ethiopian invasion of Somalia to overthrow an Islamist government that had brought a semblance of peace to the region, it set off what the United Nations then called “the worst humanitarian crisis in Africa – worse than Darfur.” Today, many of those same refugees are confronted with the worst humanitarian crisis on the planet – once again, largely courtesy of the United States.

Maybe if the government defaults, they’ll have to end this madness.

Jul 14 2011

My Little Town 20110713: Eunice Kingsbury

Those of you who read this regular series know that I am from Hackett, Arkansas, just a mile or so from the Oklahoma border, and just about 10 miles south of the Arkansas River.  It was a redneck sort of place, and just zoom onto my previous posts to understand a bit about it.

I rarely write about living people except with their express permission, but may make an exception or two here because it might be important to talk about some of my still living relatives to explain her better.

I hope that a I spelt Mrs. Kingbury’s name correctly.  It might be Kingsberry, but I am almost sure that the spelling that I used is the correct one.  I never saw it written.  I tried a web search for her, but the ones with leads wanted money and I was not willing to pay for them.  I shall just go from memory, but I would have liked to be able to give you a bit more information about her than my memory as a child.

Growing up in the south, it was proper to call older, non related females Ms (pronounced Mz), which I was amused that was the title of choice for the feminists.  We had used it for decades!

Jul 14 2011

Countdown with Keith Olbermann

If you do not get Current TV you can watch Keith here:

Watch live video from CURRENT TV LIVE Countdown Olbermann on www.justin.tv

Jul 14 2011

Evening Edition

Evening Edition is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Triple ‘terror’ blasts kill 21 in Mumbai

By Phil Hazlewood, AFP

1 hr 22 mins ago

Three bombs ripped through India’s commercial capital Mumbai on Wednesday, killing 21 people and injuring more than 100 in the deadliest attack in the city since the 2008 assault by Islamist militants.

The strongest of the coordinated blasts hit busy districts in the south of the city, the same area targeted two and half years ago by Pakistan-based militants who caused mayhem during a 60-hour siege that left 166 people dead.

Home Minister P. Chidambaram, who was on his way to the scene along with forensic experts and anti-terror commandos from New Delhi, told reporters that it was “a coordinated attack by terrorists.”