Daily Archive: 08/24/2011

Aug 24 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”.

Wednesday is Ladies’ Day

Katrina vander Huevel: Rick Perry: Governor for Sale

There’s a saying in Texas when someone has the swagger of success without the accomplishments to back it up: He’s all hat and no cattle. Put another way: he’s acting like Texas Governor Rick Perry (R).

Perry has been elected governor three times and has proclaimed his state a model worth replicating at the national level. Yet Texas has the highest number of residents without health insurance in the nation, among the worst-ranked food stamp programs, one of the highest child poverty rates, the lowest percentage of residents with a high school diploma and one of the highest teenage birth rates. These are stats that deserve swears, not swagger.

Texas’s political system is also as brazenly capable of corruption by money and special interests as that in Washington, and unabashedly so.

Amanda Marcotte: Texas, Sex, and Separation of Church and State

Governor Rick Perry of Texas has thrown his hat into the presidential contender ring, and his nascent campaign has quickly came to demonstrate why the blurring of the distinctions between church and state are so dangerous, especially to women.  His campaign has surprisingly been even more of a demonstration of this than that of Michele Bachmann’s, even though the mainstream media consensus is Bachmann is more of a theocrat.  Part of the reason is that Perry has been the governor of Texas for over a decade now, and his experience and power as an executive has simply given him more chances to blur the lines….and more reasons to be called out for it.

The incident that got the most attention was Perry’s prayer rally in Houston, TX, where Perry, in what many (including myself) consider a flagrant violation of the First Amendment, led 30,000 evangelical Christians in a day of prayers for the state and the nation. Perry’s contempt for constitutional restrictions on government establishing an official religion throws into stark relief how much the anti-choice movement, to which he is currently pandering as hard as he can, is basically just one arm of an overall theocratic movement in the U.S. to wed state to a very particular interpretation of the Bible.

Amy Goodman: D.C. Protests That Make Big Oil Quake

The White House was rocked Tuesday, not only by a 5.9-magnitude earthquake, but by the protests mounting outside its gates. More than 2,100 people say they’ll risk arrest there during the next two weeks. They oppose the Keystone XL pipeline project, designed to carry heavy crude oil from the tar sands of Alberta, Canada, to refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast.

A “keystone” in architecture is the stone at the top of an arch that holds the arch together; without it, the structure collapses. By putting their bodies on the line-as more than 200 have already at the time of this writing-these practitioners of the proud tradition of civil disobedience hope to collapse not only the pipeline, but the fossil-fuel dependence that is accelerating disruptive global climate change.

Phyllis Bennis: Too Soon to Declare Victory

The origins of the Libyan transition emerged very much in the context of the Arab Spring – a popular uprising against a brutal dictatorship. But unlike others in the neighborhood – Egypt and Tunisia especially, but also Bahrain, and even Syria – Libyans quickly took up arms on a large scale to challenge the regime’s assault. That initial decision soon led to calls for a Western no-fly zone, and quickly to the welcoming of direct US/NATO/Qatari military intervention based on the UN resolution’s “all necessary measures” language.

Despite the resolution’s focus on protecting civilians, it was U.S., European, and NATO officials who made the actual decisions about the use of force – and quickly the NATO planes soon began what one Al Jazeera reporter described as “openly functioning as the air force of the opposition army.” Particularly in these last few days of fast-moving gains by the opposition, air power played a disproportionately important role. That means that the ability of opposition forces to move into Tripoli, take control of at least parts of the capital so quickly, and potentially accede to power, was dependent on NATO.

Donna Smith: Nurses Say: Come Join Us on September 1 on Main Street, Don’t Return to DC

Main Street, USA –  Nurses call their neighbors and  their elected officials  to come to Main Street on September 1, even as many of the elected officials continue chiding one another about returning to DC.

Main Street is where the damage has been done and is being felt most deeply; DC is where deals are cut to protect Wall Street with breath-taking regularity.  This is not a time when political posturing for some distant election cycle by those largely insulated from the harsh financial realties they helped create ought to take precedence over the real-time, real-life needs of millions.

Rebecca Smith and Jill Shenker: Domestic Workers Struggle Now Like Women in ‘The Help’

The movie “The Help” has attracted throngs of movie-goers, swept up in the story of domestic workers struggling for dignity and respect in Civil Rights-era Mississippi. Viewers might be surprised to learn that in the current era, domestic workers continue to live out those same struggles across America and throughout the world.

Back in the 1930s, under the New Deal, most workers won the rights to organize and bargain collectively, and secured minimum wage and overtime protections. But that wasn’t true for domestic workers.

At a time when housekeepers and nannies were overwhelmingly African American women, these workers were shut out partly because Southern senators refused to vote for laws that covered them. Some of these exclusions from our most basic workplace rights still remain in place.

Today, domestic workers in the United States and around the world are still largely women of color, and primarily immigrant women of color. They struggle to support their own families while they labor every day in support of others. Very few are afforded health care, so their families go without.

Aug 24 2011

A Global Crisis of Institutional Legitimacy

Corrupt Obama Administration Pressuring New York Attorney General to Support Mortgage Whitewash

Yves Smith

Monday, August 22, 2011

So get this: we have unemployment at roughly 16% if you include discouraged workers, and many “employed” workers are underemployed. The housing market hasn’t bottomed; experts have pushed their hopes estimates from 2011 to 2012. And continued concerns about unaddressed chain of title issues may well impede any housing recovery.

Yet rather than address real, serious problems, senior administration officials are instead devoting time and effort to orchestrating a faux grass roots campaign to con a state AG into thinking his supporters are deserting him because he has dared challenge the supremacy of the banks.



“Wall Street is our Main Street.” That came from finance’s favorite camp follower, Kathryn S. Wylde. As we described in an earlier post, she’s wil(l)ing to throw the rule of law under the bus to serve the interests of the banks who happen to be major funders of the business-promoting not for profit she heads. And she is also a director of the New York Fed. So it should not be surprising that she got in a “contentious conversation” with Schneiderman when they crossed paths in public.



If you think that is an unfair rendition of Wylde’s remark, consider the damage the major banks have done. They have failed so badly at being competent lenders and record keepers that when judges in New York demand that bank attorneys certify that they have taken reasonable steps to verify documents submitted to the courts, foreclosures grind to a near halt. Two separate investigations, one by Fortune, the other by the New York Post, ascertained that an overwhelming majority of foreclosures took place when the banks failed to demonstrate that they had the right to do so. Banks have foreclosed illegally on servicemen, and have also foreclosed on people who didn’t have mortgages. Their is ample evidence that they have systematically violated their own contracts, the agreements that govern mortgage securitizations, and have on a widespread basis charged impermissible fees to borrowers. And when these junk and pyramiding fees precipitate foreclosures, the servicers have effectively ripped off investors too. They have tooth and nail fought every effort that would help borrowers if it in any way impinged on their profits, even though their very survival is the result of taxpayer munificence. Finally, they’ve made a mess of property records in this country.



Felix Salmon wrote today of a global crisis of institutional legitimacy, and although his tour started with Libya, it focused mainly on Europe and the US. If you want to know why the governed are withdrawing their consent in advanced economies, you need look no further than toadies like Donovan and Wylde who defend institutionalized profiteering and seek to undermine the few like Schneiderman who’ve managed, despite the odds, to get in a position where they might be able to do something to reverse it.

If you are a New York resident, I hope you’ll call (800 771-7755 or 212 416-8000) or e-mail Schneiderman and thank him for standing up to the corruption of the banks and their enablers in the Administration. I think he will appreciate the show of support.

(h/t Gaius Publius @ Americablog)

Aug 24 2011

On This Day In History August 24

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.

August 24 is the 236th day of the year (237th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 129 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 79 A.D., Mount Vesuvius erupted burying the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum in nearly thirty feet of ash and pumice. The toxic gases killed at least 2200 people who remained in Pompeii after the evacuation.

After centuries of dormancy, Mount Vesuvius erupts in southern Italy, devastating the prosperous Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum and killing thousands. The cities, buried under a thick layer of volcanic material and mud, were never rebuilt and largely forgotten in the course of history. In the 18th century, Pompeii and Herculaneum were rediscovered and excavated, providing an unprecedented archaeological record of the everyday life of an ancient civilization, startlingly preserved in sudden death.

At noon on August 24, 79 A.D., this pleasure and prosperity came to an end when the peak of Mount Vesuvius exploded, propelling a 10-mile mushroom cloud of ash and pumice into the stratosphere. For the next 12 hours, volcanic ash and a hail of pumice stones up to 3 inches in diameter showered Pompeii, forcing the city’s occupants to flee in terror. Some 2,000 people stayed in Pompeii, holed up in cellars or stone structures, hoping to wait out the eruption.

A westerly wind protected Herculaneum from the initial stage of the eruption, but then a giant cloud of hot ash and gas surged down the western flank of Vesuvius, engulfing the city and burning or asphyxiating all who remained. This lethal cloud was followed by a flood of volcanic mud and rock, burying the city.

The people who remained in Pompeii were killed on the morning of August 25 when a cloud of toxic gas poured into the city, suffocating all that remained. A flow of rock and ash followed, collapsing roofs and walls and burying the dead.

Plaster Citizens of Pompeii

Those that did not flee the city of Pompeii in August of 79 AD were doomed. Buried for 1700 years under 30 feet of mud and ash and reduced by the centuries to skeletons, they remained entombed until excavations in the early 1800s.

As excavators continued to uncovered human remains, they noticed that the skeletons were surrounded by voids in the compacted ash. By carefully pouring plaster of Paris into the spaces, the final poses, clothing, and faces of the last residents of Pompeii came to life.

n the only known eye witness account to the eruption, Pliny the Younger reported on his uncle’s ill-fated foray into the thick of the ash from Misenum, on the north end of the bay:

“. . .the buildings were now shaking with violent shocks, and seemed to be swaying to and fro as if they were torn from their foundations. Outside, on the other hand, there was the danger of failing pumice stones, even though these were light and porous; however, after comparing the risks they chose the latter. In my uncle’s case one reason outweighed the other, but for the others it was a choice of fears. As a protection against falling objects they put pillows on their heads tied down with cloths. ”

And then:

“You could hear the shrieks of women, the wailing of infants, and the shouting of men; some were calling their parents, others their children or their wives, trying to recognize them by their voices. People bewailed their own fate or that of their relatives, and there were some who prayed for death in their terror of dying. Many besought the aid of the gods, but still more imagined there were no gods left, and that the universe was plunged into eternal darkness for evermore.”

 

Aug 24 2011

The Tar Sands Protests Continue

The protest of the Tar Sands pipeline that would carry the dirtiest oil in the world across the US to Mexico, damage the ecosystem and water supply extracting it, continued with more notable arrests

Canadian actors Margot Kidder and Tantoo Cardinal have been arrested while protesting in Washington to stop construction of an oil pipeline from Alberta’s oil sands to Texas.

Kidder, who played Lois Lane in the first four Superman movies, and her friend Cardinal, who starred in North of 60 and the film Dances with Wolves, were taken into custody near the White House.

They were among dozens arrested Tuesday morning on the fourth day of daily demonstrations against TransCanada Corp.’s Keystone XL pipeline project.

Kidder, born in Yellowknife and now living in Montana, was arrested first, according to photojournalist Shadia Wood, who witnessed the incident.

“We’re the first state the pipeline goes through,” the 62-year-old Kidder said before she was cuffed. “It’s bound to leak, there’s no way it’s not going to…. They always assure us these things are safe, and they never are.”

Environmental activist and organizer of the two week protest, Bill McKibben, who was arrested on Saturday and finally released without charges, appeared on “Countdown with Keith Olbermann” to discuss the protest and the attention that this is finally getting in the media.

We can support the protests and tell President Obama to Stop the Pipeline by signing the petition

Aug 24 2011

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Aug 24 2011

Hinky Tubes

Things have been slow bordering on non functional all afternoon.  I don’t blame it in the quake though there may be some relation.

I’ll try to catch up later on.