07/21/2011 archive

More on the California Prison Hunger Strike

I found a piece, again by Kevin Gosztola, last night.  Titled In Support of the Pelican Bay Hunger Strikers it has excerpts of 13 statements of support collected from The World Can’t Wait website.

The highlighted contributors are-

There are many more statements here and Kevin Gosztola urges you to send your own statement to- debrasweet_at_worldcantwait.net (replace that _at_ with a shifted 2).

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; The Shameful Murder of Dodd Frank

Happy Birthday Dodd Frank,

Happy Birthday to you,

You’ve lost all your muscle,

And your teeth are gone, too.

One full year after the financial reform bill spearheaded through Congress by Christopher Dodd and Barney Frank was signed into law, Wall Street looks and acts much the way it did before. That’s because the Street has effectively neutered the law, which is the best argument I know for applying the nation’s antitrust laws to the biggest banks and limiting their size.

Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner says the financial system is “on more solid ground” than prior to the 2008 crisis, but I don’t know what ground he’s looking at.

Much of Dodd-Frank is still on the drawing boards, courtesy of the Street. The law as written included loopholes big enough to drive bankers’ Lamborghini’s through – which they’re now doing.

Glen Ford: Impeachment: If Not Obama, Who?

One thing about of the Bush administration that makes me something very close to nostalgic, is the number of people who, back then, wanted to impeach the president. It was exhilarating to hear Americans full of righteous emotion, willing to use up their last Aladdin’s lamp wish for the pleasure and privilege of seeing George Bush indicted by the House and put on trial before the Senate. For the vast majority of Black folks, the impeachment of George Bush would have been the best thing that’s happened since 1965, a genuine “Free at Last” moment. Hell, nothing could beat that but the election of a Black President to succeed Bush…

Which is what happened, and that’s the problem. We did get a Black successor to George Bush – and what did the new guy do, but move most of Bush’s luggage right back into the White House. Barack Obama then proceeded to out-Bush Bush, especially when it came to wielding imperial power and doing away with what’s left of due process and the rule of law.

Katrina vanden Heuvel: Go Gang of 70

With too much fanfare, the contours of a “grand bargain” on the budget have emerged with a proposal offered by the Senate’s Gang of Six.  It’s a deal that looks a helluva lot more like a Raw Deal than a New Deal or a Fair Deal.

It’s good to get a grip and some perspective at times like these.  That’s why I appreciated Congressman Raúl Grijalva, co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC), reminding us that a “Gang of 70” Democrats in the House has already vowed to oppose any deal which cuts benefits in Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid.

“Our Gang of 70-plus has the Gang of Six completely outnumbered,” says Grijalva.  “And with Republicans not voting for any package, period, because of their opposition to a functional economy, House Democrats hold the key to whatever plan can pass Congress.”

Robert Scheer: Sorry Elizabeth, Wall Street Said No

So much for the meritocracy. Despite an elite education, effusive charm and brilliant wit, Barack Obama, like Bill Clinton before him, has ended up betraying his humble origins by abjectly serving the most rapacious variant of Wall Street greed. They both talk a good progressive game, but when push comes to shove-meaning when the banking lobby weighs in-big money talks and the best and the brightest fold.

The defining moment of Clinton’s capitulation was his destruction of Brooksley Born, the one member of his administration with the courage and prescience to warn him about the unregulated derivatives trading that ultimately led to the housing collapse. For Obama, it is his decision not to nominate Elizabeth Warren to run the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which she fought so hard to create.

Obama’s refusal to take the fight to Senate Republicans by nominating Warren should be taken as the vital measure of the man. This gutless decision comes after the president populated his administration with the very people who created the financial meltdown.

Richard (RJ) EsKow: Could Wall Street Ever Face a “Murdoch Moment”?

History books record an empire’s fall as a series of dates and events. Battles are fought, people resist, elections are called, arrest warrants are issued. But those are just details. An empire really falls in that moment when people stop believing that it’s invulnerable. Whenever the spell is broken, whether it’s by anger or just by awareness, the end becomes inevitable. It doesn’t matter what happens to Rupert or James Murdoch now. They may return to positions of relative wealth and privilege or their lives may take unpleasant turns. Either way, the Murdoch empire has already fallen.

There’s a lesson here for anyone who thinks the safest and surest path to success is by serving the seemingly invincible. Sure, it may lead to riches and power, at least for a while. But you may also wind up like those powerful people in Great Britain who now find themselves struggling with scandal, hiding in fear, or facing terrible legal consequences – all because they believed in Murdoch’s invincibility and served him accordingly. As Martin Luther King often said (and we’ve often quoted), “The moral arc of the Universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”

John Nichols: Bernie Sanders on’Gang of Six’ Plan: ‘Not So Fast’

With a blessing from President Obama and support even from some deficit-hawk Republicans, momentum is building for the ten-year deficit reduction plan announced Tuesday by the “Gang of Six” Democratic and Republican senators. “Can’t We All Just Get Along” commentators like the proposal, while headlines declare: “Bipartisan Support Builds for Gang of Six $3.7 Trillion Deficit-Reduction Plan.”

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, is typically grumbly, and Senate Democrats are complaining that they may not have enough time to pull everything together before the August 2 debt ceiling deadline. But the cheerleading for the “Gang of Six” plan is considerable and enthusiastic.

“This is a serious, bipartisan proposal that will help stop Washington from spending money that we don’t have, and I support it,” Tennessee Republican Lamar Alexander says of the proposal to reduce the deficit by $3.7 trillion over the next ten years with deep spending cuts while increasing revenues by closing tax loopholes.

Greg Sargent: Dear House GOP Member: Raise the Debt Ceiling. Love, Ronald Reagan

Dana Milbank had a provocative column this morning arguing that on the debt ceiling, Dems have become the new party of Ronald Reagan, and that Republicans only honor their alleged hero Reagan in the breach and not the observance. After all, Reagan presided over 18 debt ceiling hikes as President. But for a large swath of today’s House conservatives, the drive to prevent the debt ceiling from being hiked has replaced the now-forgotten push to repeal Obamacare as their number one ideological cause celebre.

Now House liberals have hit on a fun new way of emphasizing this point: They are sending a letter today to every House Republican asking them to raise the debt limit. Only the letter wasn’t written by House liberals. It was written by Reagan himself.

Third Way Democratic Electoral Victory?

Public Policy Polling as cited by John Aravosis and Taylor Marsh

For the first time since last July Barack Obama does not lead Mitt Romney in PPP’s monthly national poll on the 2012 Presidential race. Romney has now pulled into a tie with the President at 45%.

Obama’s approval rating this month is 46% with 48% of voters disapproving of him. There are 2 things particularly troubling in his numbers: independents split against him by a 44/49 margin, and 16% of Democrats are unhappy with the job he’s doing while only 10% of Republicans give him good marks. Republicans dislike him at this point to a greater extent than Democrats like him and that will be a problem for him moving forward if it persists.

Obama’s numbers are worse than they appear to be on the surface. The vast majority of the undecideds in all of these match ups disapprove of the job Obama’s doing but aren’t committing to a candidate yet while they wait to see how the Republican field shakes out.

How undecideds change the race if you allocate them based on their approval/disapproval of Obama-

Matchup Approve Disapprove Winner/Margin
Obama/Romney 21% 61% Romney 52-48
Obama/Pawlenty 9% 75% Tied 50-50
Obama/Bachmann 10% 67% Obama 51-49
Obama/Cain 8% 76% Obama 51-49
Obama/Palin 5% 84% Obama 54-46

Those are terrible numbers.  Do you think it might have anything to do with this?

Mitch McConnell for President! Or, No Wonder Ed Schultz Is Confused

By: Scarecrow, Firedog Lake

Wednesday July 20, 2011 11:00 am

The saddest part of Jane Hamsher’s interview on Ed’s show last night was listening to Ed groan in the background as Ms. Hamsher calmly explained that it was his supposedly Democratic President who was insisting on putting Social Security and Medicare at risk as a condition for avoiding a default on the national debt. How could this be?

Ed’s cognitive dissonance only got worse when Ms. Hamsher noted that Mitch McConnell’s original “clean” debt limit bill would have been acceptable, but the Democrat Harry Reid, on orders from the White House, demanded the bill be made “dirty” enough with harmful spending cuts to attract Tea-GOP votes. So when she pointed out this absurd revision was designed to make up for giving away the store last December in extending the Bush-Obama tax cuts, he couldn’t handle it.

But who can blame poor Ed, one of cable television’s most ardent liberal defenders, for snapping, wondering who is on whose side? One can only handle so much betrayal and cognitive dissonance before the mind’s defenses kick in to invent excuses for why your heroes only appear to be nuts.

So now we get to watch Harry Reid be the puppet for the CREEPs working for Mr. Obama as he turns a clean, common sense, analytically correct solution from Mr. McConnell into a “dirty” bill that slashes spending by a trillion and a half dollars or so and sets up procedures that allow Congress to slash more and be even less accountable and transparent than it already is. And the most tempting logical targets for the slashers in this process will be Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits.

The White House is not content with that terrible solution. No, they want something worse, like the Gang of Six mess whose framework and priorities mimic those of the Cat Food Commission. Since the media views only the debt reduction totals as the measure of the public interest, they have conveniently forgotten that the Simpson-Bowles recommendations, like the Gang of Six version, would worsen the inequality and maldistribution of the nation’s wealth.

That’s right. These geniuses believe the nation’s fiscal and economic problems stem from the richest not being favored enough and everyone else not giving enough to shared sacrifice. At the end of the day, the middle class and poor would be worse off, the wealthy would be even richer, and that outcome is what has the millionaires in the US Senate excited. They and their contributors would win, the rest of you would lose.

Le Tour- Stage 18

Pinerolo to Galibier Serre-Chevalier 125 miles

Le.  Tour.  De.  France.

The story of yesterday is the group that finished 4:26 back- Frank Schleck, Cunego, Sanchez, Evans, Contador, and Andy Schleck, and the group that finished 4:53 back- Voeckler and Basso.

Contador looked to put on a move in the final descent into Pinerolo and was apparently succeeding when away from the camera and commentary the rest of the major contenders snuck up to be right there at the finish.

Voeckler would have been right there also except that pressing a little too hard he had to take an escape road off into a car park (his second slide off) and lost another 27 Seconds.

A thrilling finish, but not one that shakes up the standings-

Rank Name Team ET delta
1 Thomas Voeckler Europcar 73h 23′ 49″
2 Cadel Evans BMC 73h 25′ 07″ + 01′ 18″
3 Frank Schleck Leopard Trek 73h 25′ 11″ + 01′ 22″
4 Andy Schleck Leopard Trek 73h 26′ 25″ + 02′ 36″
5 Samuel Sanchez Euskaltel 73h 26′ 48″ + 02′ 59″
6 Alberto Contador Saxo Bank 73h 27′ 04″ + 03′ 15″
7 Damiano Cunego Lampre 73h 27′ 23″ + 03′ 34″
8 Ivan Basso Cannondale 73h 27′ 38″ + 03′ 49″
9 Tom Danielson Garmin 73h 29′ 53″ + 06′ 04″
10 Rigoberto Uran Sky 73h 31′ 25″ + 07′ 36″

My analysis is that it’s another missed opportunity for Contador and there aren’t too many of them left- today and tomorrow in the High Mountains and the Individual Time Trial on Saturday.  BruceMcF thinks there could be an attempt by the sprinters to put the Mad Manx out on time elimination.

Today’s Stage has only 3 climbs but they’re all unclassified with the sprint checkpoint before any of the tough hills.  The finish is uphill after the longest climb (but not steepest) of the day so a repeat of yesterday’s bunch finish is unlikely.  This is the centenary of the Galabier on the Tour and the highest finish ever.

Vs. starts it’s coverage at an early (unless you were already up at 5 am to watch the final landing of the Space Shuttle) 7 am so it’s possible we might see the points checkpoint finish.

On This Day In History July 21

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 21 is the 202nd day of the year (203rd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 163 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1861, the first battle of Bull Run.. In the first major land battle of the Civil War, a large Union force under General Irvin McDowell is routed by a Confederate army under General Pierre G.T. Beauregard. . . .

On the morning of July 21, hearing of the proximity of the two opposing forces, hundreds of civilians–men, women, and children–turned out to watch the first major battle of the Civil War. The fighting commenced with three Union divisions crossing the Bull Run stream, and the Confederate flank was driven back to Henry House Hill. However, at this strategic location, Beauregard had fashioned a strong defensive line anchored by a brigade of Virginia infantry under General Thomas J. Jackson. Firing from a concealed slope, Jackson’s men repulsed a series of Federal charges, winning Jackson his famous nickname “Stonewall.”

Meanwhile, Confederate cavalry under J.E.B. Stuart captured the Union artillery, and Beauregard ordered a counterattack on the exposed Union right flank. The rebels came charging down the hill, yelling furiously, and McDowell’s line was broken, forcing his troops in a hasty retreat across Bull Run. The retreat soon became an unorganized flight, and supplies littered the road back to Washington. Union forces endured a loss of 3,000 men killed, wounded, or missing in action while the Confederates suffered 2,000 casualties. The scale of this bloodshed horrified not only the frightened spectators at Bull Run but also the U.S. government in Washington, which was faced with an uncertain military strategy in quelling the “Southern insurrection.”

Bull Run was the largest and bloodiest battle in American history up to that point. Union casualties were 460 killed, 1,124 wounded, and 1,312 missing or captured; Confederate casualties were 387 killed, 1,582 wounded, and 13 missing. Among the latter was Col. Francis S. Bartow, who was the first Confederate brigade commander to be killed in the Civil War. General Bee was mortally wounded and died the following day.

Union forces and civilians alike feared that Confederate forces would advance on Washington, D.C., with very little standing in their way. On July 24, Prof. Thaddeus S. C. Lowe ascended in the balloon Enterprise to observe the Confederates moving in and about Manassas Junction and Fairfax. He saw no evidence of massing Rebel forces, but was forced to land in Confederate territory. It was overnight before he was rescued and could report to headquarters. He reported that his observations “restored confidence” to the Union commanders.

The Northern public was shocked at the unexpected defeat of their army when an easy victory had been widely anticipated. Both sides quickly came to realize the war would be longer and more brutal than they had imagined. On July 22 President Lincoln signed a bill that provided for the enlistment of another 500,000 men for up to three years of service.

The reaction in the Confederacy was more muted. There was little public celebration as the Southerners realized that despite their victory, the greater battles that would inevitably come would mean greater losses for their side as well.

Beauregard was considered the hero of the battle and was promoted that day by President Davis to full general in the Confederate Army. Stonewall Jackson, arguably the most important tactical contributor to the victory, received no special recognition, but would later achieve glory for his 1862 Valley Campaign. Irvin McDowell bore the brunt of the blame for the Union defeat and was soon replaced by Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan, who was named general-in-chief of all the Union armies. McDowell was also present to bear significant blame for the defeat of Maj. Gen. John Pope’s Army of Virginia by Gen. Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia thirteen months later, at the Second Battle of Bull Run. Patterson was also removed from command.

My Little Town 20110720: Budge and Lyda Porter

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, and will have to make no exception for that rule this time.  As far as I know, they did not have any children, but I could be wrong, and if others who knew them know better, please correct me.

They were a nice couple, and the lived directly across the street from Ma.  Budge (I NEVER knew his real name) was sort of a shade tree mechanic.  Lyda was a gossip.

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

Evening Edition

Evening Edition is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Serbia arrests last war crimes fugitive Goran Hadzic

By Stephanie van den Berg, AFP

11 hrs ago

Serbia has arrested Goran Hadzic, the one-time Croatian Serb rebel leader who is the last remaining fugitive wanted by the UN war crimes court in The Hague, government sources said Wednesday.

Serbian President Boris Tadic is expected to announce the arrest officially at a press conference at 11:00 am (0900 GMT).

Hadzic, 52, is the last of the 161 people indicted by The Hague-based International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) who remained at large.