Daily Archive: 09/13/2011

Sep 13 2011

A (Larry) Summers’ Recovery

U.S. Poverty Rate, at 15 Percent, Is the Highest Since 1993

By SABRINA TAVERNISE, The New York Times

Published: September 13, 2011

46.2 million people now live in poverty in the United States, the highest number in the 52 years the Census Bureau has been tracking it, said Trudi Renwick, chief of the Poverty Statistic Branch at the Census Bureau.

That figure represented 15.1 percent of the population, up from 14.3 percent in 2009, and 11.7 percent at the beginning of the decade in 2001. The poverty line in 2010 for a family of four was $22,113.

And in new signs of economic distress among the middle class, median household incomes adjusted for inflation declined by 2.3 percent in 2010 from the previous year to $49,400. That was 7 percent less than the peak of $53,252 in 1999.

Sep 13 2011

Curing Cancer & Protecting Women: HPV Vaccine

During the latest of what will be a year long parade of circus clowns, Michele Bachmann once again demonstrated not only her ignorance but hatred of her own womanhood when she lashed out at Texas Governor Rick Perry for his school program to vaccinate young girls with Gardisil, that protects against nine strains of the virus, HPV, the major cause of cervical cancer. While taking issue with the possible ulterior motive for the program which he had instituted by an executive order, Bachmann took it a step further alleging that the vaccine is dangerous, “”Little girls who have a negative reaction to this potentially dangerous drug don’t get a mulligan” and “They don’t get a do-over. The parents don’t get a do-over.”

In her post debate interview she went even further making the specious and debunked claim that the vaccine can also cause mental retardation. claiming that a woman had approached after the debate telling her that she had a daughter who suffered mental retardation as a result of that vaccine”, repeating the same nonsense unchallenged in a morning interview. This woman will do and say anything to bolster her fading campaign.

Not that this will put the myths that is being strewn as a factual but here are the facts:

According to a Center for Disease Control page devoted to health concerns surrounding HPV vaccines, 35 million doses of Gardasil were distributed as of June 22, 2011, resulting in 18,727 reports of adverse events. Ninety-two percent of those adverse events were “non-serious” and included things like “fainting, pain, and swelling at the injection site (the arm), headache, nausea, and fever.” Among the serious adverse events were reports of the neurological disorder Guillain-Barré Syndrome, blood clots, and death. There’s no mention on the CDC page of any reports of Gardasil resulting in mental retardation.

Just to double check, we asked Dr. Kevin Ault, an associate professor of Gynecology and Obstetrics at Emory University and an investigator in the clinical trials for Gardasil, whether he’s familiar with allegations that Gardasil can result in mental retardation. “I’ve not heard that one before,” he told us. He added that even for the serious adverse effects that have been reported, there’s been no evidence that they were actually caused by Gardasil. “There’s been a nice study from the CDC,” he said, “that basically [showed that] if you compare a group of people who got the vaccine to a group of people who didn’t get the vaccine, all these things are rare and they occur equally” in both groups.

Sep 13 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”.

DeanBaker: Thomas Friedman Thinks the Tea Partiers Are Extremists of the Left

Thomas Friedman is once again orthogonal to reality. In his column today he urges a “grand bargain” where the Republicans abandon extremists of the right and agree to tax increases and Democrats abandon extremists of the left and agree to cut Medicare and Social Security (euphemistically referred to as “entitlements”). There is one little problem with Friedman’s story.

Support for Social Security and Medicare is not confined to extremists of the left. Overwhelming majorities of every group, including Republicans and self-identified supporters of the Tea Party, are opposed to cuts to Social Security and Medicare. The only people who seem to support such cuts are wealthy people like Mr. Friedman.

The reality is that Social Security is easily affordable as everyone familiar with the projections knows. According to the latest projections from the Congressional Budget Office the program can pay every penny of benefits for more than a quarter century with no changes whatsoever. To make the program fully solvent throughout its 75-year planning horizon would require a tax increase is equal to 5 percent of the wage growth projected over the next 30 years. This is why people familiar with the program’s finances are generally unwilling to support cuts in Social Security benefits, unlike Mr. Friedman.

Timothy Wise and Kevin Gallagher: The False Promise of Obama’s Trade Deals

’21st-century’ trade deals proposed by the Obama administration won’t help American workers – and will hurt foreign ones

It is bad enough that President Obama is reversing his campaign pledge and supporting Bush-era trade deals with Korea, Colombia and Panama. Starting this week in Chicago, the US will be hosting the first major trade negotiations since the “Battle in Seattle” World Trade Organisation talks came here in 1999. This occasion is for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) with a wide range of industrialised and developing Pacific Rim countries.

It is bad enough that President Obama is reversing his campaign pledge and supporting Bush-era trade deals with Korea, Colombia and Panama. Starting this week in Chicago, the US will be hosting the first major trade negotiations since the “Battle in Seattle” World Trade Organisation talks came here in 1999. This occasion is for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) with a wide range of industrialised and developing Pacific Rim countries.

Glen Greenwald: We Refuse to Live in Fear!

President Obama, in his weekend radio address to the nation:

   They wanted to terrorize us, but, as Americans, we refuse to live in fear.

ABC News, yesterday:

   Fighter planes were scrambled, bomb squads were called, FBI command centers went on alert and police teams raced to airports today, but in the end two separate airline incidents were caused by apparently innocent bathroom breaks and a little “making out,” federal officials said.

Earlier this year, the Obama White House reversed the Attorney General’s decision to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed for his alleged crimes in a federal court in New York, and Congress prohibited Guantanamo detainees generally from being tried on U.S. soil, due to fears that the Terrorists would use their heat-vision to melt their shackles and escape or would summon their Terrorist friends to attack the courthouse and free them into the community — even though none of that has ever happened, and even though almost every other county on the planet that suffered similar Terrorist attacks (Britain, Spain, India, Indonesia) tried the perpetrators in their regular courts in the cities where the attacks occurred.  In 2009, President Obama demanded the power to abolish the most basic right — not to be imprisoned without having been convicted of a crime  — by “preventively detaining” people who, in his words v], “cannot be prosecuted yet {} pose a clear danger.”  During the Bush years, The Washington Post quoted a military official [warning Americans that the most extreme security measures are needed against Guantanamo detainees because these are “people who would chew through a hydraulic cable to bring a C-17 down.”

Jeff Biggers: Arizona’s AG says Ethnic Studies “Must Be Destroyed”

Speaking on a public panel in Phoenix on Saturday, Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne invoked the infamous words of warfare by Roman statesman Cato and called for the destruction of Tucson’s Ethnic Studies/Mexican American Studies Program.

In front of a sparse crowd at the Phoenix Marriot Hotel, Horne’s chilling admonition was part of a special panel on the Mexican Americans Studies program hosted by the so-called “Arizona Mainstream Project,” a Tea Party offshoot that hails “America’s Exceptionalism” and peddles books by Glenn Beck and notorious right-wing extremist Cleon Skousen on its website. The panel was also broadcast live via streaming online.

“The only thing they can do to come into compliance is to terminate the program,” Horne told a questioner from the audience, who had asked how the program could meet the demands of the state Superintendent of Public Instruction John Huppenthal to adhere with Arizona’s controversial Ethnic Studies ban. Horne said the program must be “destroyed,” invoking Cato’s obsessive call for warfare as a punch line, “Carthage must be destroyed.”

Josh Eidelson: [CREDO Mobile, Warren Buffet, and the Limits of Progressive Business]

Two web petitions showed up in progressive inboxes last week. One, organized by Daily Kos in support of striking Verizon workers, was blasted out by “alternative” cell service provider CREDO Mobile. The second, organized by MoveOn, was a call for taxing the rich, piggybacking on a recent op-ed by billionaire Warren Buffett. Though neither petition itself is objectionable, together they illustrate a harsh reality: It’s easier to get the wealthy to share their money than their power.

CREDO offers customers wireless service with an added appeal: a small fraction of each phone bill gets donated to progressive organizations. The company gives customers the chance to vote on which liberal group gets a cut of their check and employs a campaign manager who emails customers with e-activism alerts, like the one promoting the Verizon strike. CREDO runs an aggressive media campaign calling out its competitors’ right-wing donations. What it doesn’t advertise is who gets the rest of your check. CREDO re-sells mobile service from Sprint, which is as right-wing as AT&T or Verizon and viciously anti-union when it comes to its own employees. There are no Sprint union members on strike right now, because there are no Sprint union members at all.

J. Bradford DeLong: Ben Bernanke’s Dream World

Berkeley – US Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke is not regarded as an oracle in the way that his predecessor, Alan Greenspan, was before the financial crisis. But financial markets were glued to the speech he gave in Jackson Hole, Wyoming on August 26.  What they heard was a bit of a muddle.

First of all, Bernanke did not propose any further easing of monetary policy to support the stalled recovery – or, rather, the non-recovery. Second, he assured his listeners that “we expect a moderate recovery to continue and indeed to strengthen.” This is because “[h]ouseholds also have made some progress in repairing their balance sheets – saving more, borrowing less, and reducing their burdens of interest payments and debt.” Moreover, falling commodity prices will also “help increase household purchasing power.”

Finally, Bernanke claimed that “the growth fundamentals of the United States do not appear to have been permanently altered by the shocks of the past four years.”

Frankly, I do not understand how Bernanke can say any of these things right now.

Malcolm Fraser: America’s Self-Inflicted Decline

Melbourne – If the broad post-World War II prosperity that has endured for six decades comes to an end, both the United States and Europe will be responsible. With rare exceptions, politics has become a discredited profession throughout the West. Tomorrow is always treated as more important than next week, and next week prevails over next year, with no one seeking to secure the long-term future. Now the West is paying the price.

President Barack Obama’s instincts may be an exception here, but he is fighting powerful hidebound forces in the United States, as well as a demagogic populism, in the form of the Tea Party, that is far worse – and that might defeat him in 2012, seriously damaging America in the process.

Anthony Worthington: The “Worst of the Worst”? 9/11, Guantanamo and the Failures of US Corporate Media

In the wake of the September 11 attacks, George W. Bush deliberately discarded domestic and international laws, creating an experimental facility at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. There prisoners would be deprived of the protections of the Constitution and the Geneva Conventions, held without rights as “unlawful enemy combatants” in a world-wide program of extraordinary rendition, secret prisons and torture. Corporate media largely failed to hold the government responsible for this authoritarian response.

From the beginning, the corporate media generally belittled those who raised concerns about the abuses at Guantánamo. Chris Matthews on MSNBC’s Hardball (1/17/02) told a guest from Human Rights Watch who had criticized the open-air cages of Camp X-Ray: “Back when I was a kid, I used to go down there and sleep out in places like the Virgin Islands overnight, and I loved it. I slept in tents. I thought it was great. And you’re making it sound like harsh conditions.”

Sep 13 2011

On This Day In History September 13

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.

September 13 is the 256th day of the year (257th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 109 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1814, Francis Scot Key pens Star-Spangled Banner

The Star-Spangled Banner is the national anthem of the United States of America. The lyrics come from “Defence of Fort McHenry”, a poem written in 1814 by the 35-year-old lawyer and amateur poet, Francis Scott Key, after witnessing the bombardment of Fort McHenry by the British Royal Navy ships in Chesapeake Bay during the Battle of Fort McHenry in the War of 1812.

The poem was set to the tune of a popular British drinking song, written by John Stafford Smith for the Anacreontic Society, a men’s social club in London. “The Anacreontic Song” (or “To Anacreon in Heaven”), with various lyrics, was already popular in the United States. Set to Key’s poem and renamed “The Star-Spangled Banner“, it would soon become a well-known American patriotic song. With a range of one and a half octaves, it is known for being difficult to sing. Although the song has four stanzas, only the first is commonly sung today, with the fourth (“O thus be it ever when free men shall stand…”) added on more formal occasions. In the fourth stanza, Key urged the adoption of “In God is our Trust” as the national motto (“And this be our motto: In God is our Trust”). The United States adopted the motto “In God We Trust” by law in 1956.

The Star-Spangled Banner” was recognized for official use by the Navy in 1889 and the President in 1916, and was made the national anthem by a congressional resolution on March 3, 1931 (46 Stat. 1508, codified at 36 U.S.C. § 301), which was signed by President Herbert Hoover.

Before 1931, other songs served as the hymns of American officialdom. “Hail, Columbia” served this purpose at official functions for most of the 19th century. “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee“, whose melody was derived from the British national anthem, also served as a de facto anthem before the adoption of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Following the War of 1812 and subsequent American wars, other songs would emerge to compete for popularity at public events, among them “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

Sep 13 2011

DocuDharma Digest

Regular Features

Featured Essays-

DocuDharma

Sep 13 2011

Evening Edition

Evening Edition is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Kadhafi forces fight back, China recognises NTC

By Ines Bel Aiba, AFP

3 hrs ago

A defiant Moamer Kadhafi vowed to fight until victory as his forces launched surprise fightbacks on three fronts on Monday, and as Libya’s interim government won recognition from China.

The ferocious counterattacks on a Ras Lanuf oil refinery, near Kadhafi’s hometown of Sirte, and at Bani Walid near Tripoli came as a US official said Niger was ready to detain one of the elusive leader’s sons, Saadi, after he fled over the border.

“It is not possible to give Libya to the colonists again,” and “all that remains for us is the struggle until victory and the defeat of the coup,” Kadhafi said in a statement read out on Syria-based Arrai Oruba television.

Sep 13 2011

Sunday Train: Strengthening the Jobs Bill with a $0.01/gallon Oil Tariff

Burning the Midnight Oil for Living Energy Independence

Yeah, OK, its not Sunday, but I got called on Saturday morning after a Friday night class to substitute for a colleague, and that threw me off completely. Fortunately for the Sunday Train, I am massively underemployed, so there is Monday afternoon available to finish composing what I been thinking about this week.

As I discussed in Whether and How to Sell the Jobs Policy, there is not a whole lot of “pop” in the jobs bill, but there is some. The EPI analysis suggests 1m in jobs “created or saved”, but of course “jobs saved” is an increase compared to a counterfactual, and not an actual increase. Over half of those are “job saved”, so the “pop” is under half a million jobs.

If spread evenly across a calendar year, “just under half a million new jobs” would be 40,000 new jobs per month. If 150,000 new jobs per month is needed to bring unemployment down, that is relying on our stuttering economy to create 110,000 or more ~ close to what we have often been achieving, but there is substantial concern that we might not keep it up, after a month with about 0 (zero, zilch, nada) new private jobs created.

So the aim here is to look for something that can add some more “pop”. And having read the title, you know that a 1 penny Oil Tariff is involved. Hopefully raising the question in our mind: “uhmmm, where’s the ‘pop’ in that?”