07/18/2011 archive

Another Unpopular Essay

(or why the left blogosfero is bankrupt).

This doesn’t really qualify as an essay. It’s just an observation about the left blogosfero and its many blindspots.  In this case the blindspot is the California Prisoners’ Hunger Strike, which is today on its 18th day.  These prisoners deserve our support. No doubt about it.  So I put up an essay about it at the Great Orange Satan.  How else to get the situation before a zillion people quickly? Would the denizens of the left step forward and fight for prisoners?  Cue: crickets.

My point: the prisoners need support, and they need it soon to bring about a humane and peaceful resolution of their grievances.  They need expressions of support.  From bloggers.  From blog readers. They need our help.  Otherwise many of them will be seriously injured by the fasting, and they may ultimately be force fed by the prison officials in scenes reminiscent of Northern Ireland.

Of course, you won’t be able to watch that.  It will be done “privately.”  But I digress.

The way GOS works now virtually assures that nobody will see,  much less react to the call for support.  See for yourself.

And the smaller blogs?  Let’s see.

Evening Edition

Evening Edition is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Eurozone leaders race to end split on debt and Greece

By Laurent Thomet, AFP

9 hrs ago

The eurozone rushed on Monday to overcome divisions over a second bailout for Greece in time for a pivotal summit this week and douse the flames of a debt crisis searing bigger nations.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel raised the stakes at the weekend, warning that she would attend the emergency meeting on Thursday only if a deal is on the table.

Germany’s insistence on making the private sector share the pain in a new bailout, even if its means causing a Greek debt default, has put Berlin in deep disagreement with the European Central Bank and other eurozone nations.

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: Letting Bankers Walk

Ever since the current economic crisis began, it has seemed that five words sum up the central principle of United States financial policy: go easy on the bankers.

This principle was on display during the final months of the Bush administration, when a huge lifeline for the banks was made available with few strings attached. It was equally on display in the early months of the Obama administration, when President Obama reneged on his campaign pledge to “change our bankruptcy laws to make it easier for families to stay in their homes.” And the principle is still operating right now, as federal officials press state attorneys general to accept a very modest settlement from banks that engaged in abusive mortgage practices.

E. J. Dionne, Jr.: Why Did Congress Waste Six Months?

The House Republican strategy to link a normally routine increase in the nation’s debt limit with a crusade to slash spending has already had a high cost, threatening the nation’s credit rating and making the United States look dysfunctional and incompetent to the rest of the world.

But that’s not the most awful thing about it.

What’s even worse is this entirely artificial, politician-created crisis has kept government from doing what taxpayers expect it to do, which is to solve problems that citizens care about.

The most obvious problem is unemployment. The best way short-term to drive the deficit down is to spur growth and get Americans back to work. Has anyone noticed that Americans with jobs can provide for their families, put money into the economy-and, oh yes, pay taxes that increase revenues and thus cut the deficit?

Colin Dayan: Barbarous Confinement

Solitary confinement has been transmuted from an occasional tool of discipline into a widespread form of preventive detention. The Supreme Court, over the last two decades, has whittled steadily away at the rights of inmates, surrendering to prison administrators virtually all control over what is done to those held in “administrative segregation.” Since it is not defined as punishment for a crime, it does not fall under “cruel and unusual punishment,” the reasoning goes.

As early as 1995, a federal judge, Thelton E. Henderson, conceded that so-called “supermax” confinement “may well hover on the edge of what is humanly tolerable,” though he ruled that it remained acceptable for most inmates. But a psychiatrist and Harvard professor, Stuart Grassian, had found that the environment was “strikingly toxic,” resulting in hallucinations, paranoia and delusions. In a “60 Minutes” interview, he went so far as to call it “far more egregious” than the death penalty.

David Dayen: Grijalva: If You Want to Reduce the Deficit, How About the People’s Budget

The Congressional Progressive Caucus has responded to President Barack Obama, who said progressives would have to be “sold” on deficit reduction. Specifically, he claimed that “if you are a progressive, you should be concerned about debt and deficit just as much as if you’re a conservative.”


Importantly, the The Progressive Caucus Budget, known as the People’s Budget, accomplishes this without doing any harm in the near term. Quite the opposite. It includes a stimulus package of public works and infrastructure funding to get people working immediately. It brings taxes back to the Clinton level and makes them more progressive. It ends military overspending and is content with spending a little less than the rest of the world combined on the military, rather than more than it. It taxes financial speculation and includes a public option in health care, too.

In other words, the People’s Budget addresses every single root cause that President Obama said drove the deficit to the heights we see now.

Jon Nichols: Rupert Murdoch Has Gamed American Politics Every Bit as Thoroughly as Britain’s

Australian-born billionaire Rupert Murdoch has manipulated not just the news but the news landscape of the United States for decades. He has done so by pressuring the Federal Communications Commission and Congress to alter the laws of the land and regulatory standards in order to give his media conglomerate an unfair advantage in “competition” with more locally focused, more engaged and more responsible media.

It’s an old story: while Murdoch’s Fox News hosts prattle on and on about their enthusiasm for the free market, they work for a firm that seeks to game the system so Murdoch’s “properties” are best positioned to monopolize the discourse.

Robert Kuttner: The End Game: Saving Obama From Himself

As the debt doomsday of August 2 draws closer, what sort of end-game can we imagine?

The worst scenario would be for an outbreak of common sense and self-interest to overtake the extremism of the House Republican caucus. If the Republicans were to accept Obama’s proffered deal, they would weaken Social Security and Medicare — and put the Democrats’ fingerprints on the deed — depriving Democrats of their traditional defense of America’s best loved social programs. They would also get a ten-year deficit-reduction agreement that is mostly program cuts. And they would get an austerity package that guarantees high unemployment as Obama heads into a difficult re-election. And a Democratic president is offering this deal!

The Republicans would also get to savor the spectacle of a badly divided Democratic Party, as the White House twists arms of unwilling House and Senate Democrats to vote for a right-wing package.

Donna Smith: ‘Let ‘Em Eat Peas’: An Elitist Mantra for Our Age

It has been a challenging week for many people.  While our elected officials have been broadly reported to be at odds about exactly how to raise the debt ceiling or not, millions of Americans have no work, are running out of ways to keep their homes – rented or owned, and struggle even to keep the basic necessities for themselves and their families.

Nurses served soup to hungry folks in Lansing, Michigan. There was a stampede of people hoping to secure low-cost housing in Dallas.

Yet in a glaring display of the inability of this nation’s elected leaders to publicly recognize and address the suffering happening across the country – in every Congressional District and in every state – those who have the power to alleviate some of that suffering have decided it’s time to cut the social safety nets of Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security rather than protect and enhance it.  How that will help the economy is unclear to me.  No one has yet explained to me how allowing more people to go belly up helps us now or in the longer term.

Le Tour- Rest Day 2

Le.  Tour.  De.  France.

Had a chance to chat with Armando last night which I’ve always found very enjoyable despite others having a different experience.  Nobody is obligated to treat you any particular way on the Internet and if you’re going to expose yourself you just have to get used to that.

His analysis echos the consensus view expressed here which if I might be allowed to summarize is that Contador has missed his best opportunity for a victory and barring a miraculous comeback in the Alps is no longer a contender.

He’s a little more skeptical of the Schleck brothers’ prospects than I am, perhaps because of their reputation as poor time trialers, and likes Cadel Evan’s chances.  Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, Oy, Oy, Oy.

I personally think that anyone in the top 8 (well, except for Contador) is close enough to strike and 2 minutes being what it is we could even see a Frenchman (gasp), albeit one with an Alsatian name, cruising down the Champs Elysees in yellow in a little less than a week.

The standings as of the second (and last) Rest Day-

Rank Name Team ET delta
1 Thomas Voeckler Europcar 65h 24′ 34″
2 Frank Schleck Leopard Trek 65h 26′ 23″ + 01′ 49″
3 Cadel Evans BMC 65h 26′ 40″ + 02′ 06″
4 Andy Schleck Leopard Trek 65h 26′ 49″ + 02′ 15″
5 Ivan Basso Cannondale 65h 27′ 50″ + 03′ 16″
6 Samuel Sanchez Euskaltel 65h 28′ 18″ + 03′ 44″
7 Alberto Contador Saxo Bank 65h 28′ 34″ + 04′ 00″
8 Damiano Cunego Lampre 65h 28′ 35″ + 04′ 01″
9 Tom Danielson Garmin 65h 30′ 20″ + 05′ 46″
10 Kevin De Weert Quick Step 65h 30′ 52″ + 06′ 18″

What type of race do we have remaining?  Mountains.  Medium tomorrow and Alps for the next 3 days.  Then the Individual Time Trial that is supposed to be the Schleck’s Achilles’ Heel.  Finally the big parade to the Champs which is customarily contended only by the sprinters while the GC also rans accept their fate with dignity.

So there’s not much race left.

I’m hoping the Vs. coverage at 8 am has a little more recap and a little less yesterday than the first Rest Day did.  Limoux to Montpellier was instructive in the points competition but not so much for the overall.  If you miss it there are plenty of repeats at 11:30 am, 3 pm, 8 pm, and midnight.

On This Day In History July 18

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 18 is the 199th day of the year (200th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 166 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1940, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who first took office in 1933 as America’s 32nd president, is nominated for an unprecedented third term. Roosevelt, a Democrat, would eventually be elected to a record four terms in office, the only U.S. president to serve more than two terms.

Roosevelt was born January 30, 1882, in Hyde Park, New York, and went on to serve as a New York state senator from 1911 to 1913, assistant secretary of the Navy from 1913 to 1920 and governor of New York from 1929 to 1932. In 1932, he defeated incumbent Herbert Hoover to be elected president for the first time. During his first term, Roosevelt enacted his New Deal social programs, which were aimed at lifting America out of the Great Depression. In 1936, he won his second term in office by defeating Kansas governor Alf Landon in a landslide.

Election of 1940

The two-term tradition had been an unwritten rule (until the 22nd Amendment after his presidency) since George Washington declined to run for a third term in 1796, and both Ulysses S. Grant and Theodore Roosevelt were attacked for trying to obtain a third non-consecutive term. FDR systematically undercut prominent Democrats who were angling for the nomination, including two cabinet members, Secretary of State Cordell Hull and James Farley, Roosevelt’s campaign manager in 1932 and 1936, Postmaster General and Democratic Party chairman. Roosevelt moved the convention to Chicago where he had strong support from the city machine (which controlled the auditorium sound system). At the convention the opposition was poorly organized but Farley had packed the galleries. Roosevelt sent a message saying that he would not run, unless he was drafted, and that the delegates were free to vote for anyone. The delegates were stunned; then the loudspeaker screamed “We want Roosevelt… The world wants Roosevelt!” The delegates went wild and he was nominated by 946 to 147 on the first ballot. The tactic employed by Roosevelt was not entirely successful, as his goal had been to be drafted by acclamation. The new vice presidential nominee was Henry A. Wallace, a liberal intellectual who was Secretary of Agriculture.

In his campaign against Republican Wendell Willkie, Roosevelt stressed both his proven leadership experience and his intention to do everything possible to keep the United States out of war. In one of his speeches he declared to potential recruits that “you boys are not going to be sent into any foreign war.” He won the 1940 election with 55% of the popular vote and 38 of the 48 states. A shift to the left within the Administration was shown by the naming of Henry A. Wallace as Vice President in place of the conservative Texan John Nance Garner, who had become a bitter enemy of Roosevelt after 1937.

Pique the Geek 20110717: Loudspeakers

In electronics, a loudspeaker is what most people just call a speaker, the device that converts electrical signals to sound.  They can range from very simple to very complex designs, with variations in cost from just a few cents to thousands of dollars.

All practical loudspeakers are electromechanical devices, using an analogue electrical signal to make the loudspeaker components to move in such a manner as to in turn move air (usually, although other media can be used for purposes other than human perception) and thus make a sound.  For human hearing, air is almost always the medium used.

Loudspeakers are one of the few modern electronic devices that are analogue only.  In other words, a truly digital loudspeaker does not exist except in a few research laboratories and they are not very good.  It is interesting to me that the final stage of reproducing sound is firmly rooted in the 19th century insofar as basic technology in concerned.  This discussion is limited to electromechanical loudspeakers.  Purely mechanical ones are much older than electromechanical ones.

Sunday Train: Republican Great Train Robberies

Burning the Midnight Oil for Living Energy Freedom

Two stories over the last week underlined the determination of the radical right wing that dominates the Republican Party to sabotage America’s future and betray our national security and the interests of our children and grandchildren:

Evening Edition

Evening Edition is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Scotland Yard chief quits, Brooks arrested over hacking

By Danny Kemp, AFP

3 hrs ago

Britain’s top police officer resigned Sunday and Rupert Murdoch’s former aide Rebekah Brooks was arrested as the phone hacking scandal finally tore into the heart of the British establishment.

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Paul Stephenson said he was quitting due to speculation about his links to Murdoch’s empire and the force’s botched investigation into hacking at the now-defunct News of the World tabloid.

His shock announcement came just hours after police arrested Brooks — who resigned on Friday as head of News International, Murdoch’s British newspaper arm — on suspicion of phone-hacking and bribing police.