Daily Archive: 09/15/2011

Sep 15 2011

Obamabots On the Attack

On the Open Salon version of my previous entry, some right-winger who supports Obama kept trying to lay the blame for next year’s results on the left for failing to properly support the candidate who has done far more to pass the Republicans’ agenda than any GOP office-holder could have.

I am about certain Obama will be a one term president–and that one of the Republican clowns will win in 2012.

Most of the blame for that will fall with the unrealistic expectations and shortsightedness of people devoted to a progressive agenda.

Sep 15 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”.

Amy Goodman: Troy Davis and the Politics of Death

Death brings cheers these days in America. In the most recent Republican presidential debate in Tampa, Fla., when CNN’s Wolf Blitzer asked, hypothetically, if a man who chose to carry no medical insurance, then was stricken with a grave illness, should be left to die, cheers of “Yeah!” filled the hall. When, in the prior debate, Gov. Rick Perry was asked about his enthusiastic use of the death penalty in Texas, the crowd erupted into sustained applause and cheers. The reaction from the audience prompted debate moderator Brian Williams of NBC News to follow up with the question, “What do you make of that dynamic that just happened here, the mention of the execution of 234 people drew applause?”

That “dynamic” is why challenging the death sentence to be carried out against Troy Davis by the state of Georgia on Sept. 21 is so important. Davis has been on Georgia’s death row for close to 20 years after being convicted of killing off-duty police officer Mark MacPhail in Savannah. Since his conviction, seven of the nine nonpolice witnesses have recanted their testimony, alleging police coercion and intimidation in obtaining the testimony. There is no physical evidence linking Davis to the murder.

Bernie Sanders: Is Poverty a Death Sentence?

The crisis of poverty in America is one of the great moral and economic issues facing our country. It is very rarely talked about in the mainstream media. It gets even less attention in Congress. Why should people care? Many poor people don’t vote. They certainly don’t make large campaign contributions, and they don’t have powerful lobbyists representing their interests.

Here’s why we all should care. There are 46 million Americans — about one in six — living below the poverty line. That’s the largest number on record, according to a new report released Tuesday by the Census Bureau. About 49.9 million Americans lacked health insurance, the report also said. That number has soared by 13.3 million since 2000.

Moreover, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the United States has both the highest overall poverty rate and the highest childhood poverty rate of any major industrialized country on earth. This comes at a time when the U.S. also has the most unequal distribution of wealth and income of any major country on earth with the top 1 percent earning more than the bottom 50 percent.

Ari Berman: GOP 2012 Strategy: Disenfranchise Democrats, Rig Electoral College

As Kevin Drum notes, Republicans are especially adept at reducing the structural power of their political opponents after taking office, which is a major way the GOP consolidates influence and authority in American politics.

In the latest issue of Rolling Stone, I write about how the GOP has launched a “war on voting,” passing laws in a dozen states since the 2010 election designed to impede traditionally Democratic voters at every step of the electoral process, which could prevent millions of students, minorities, legal immigrants, ex-convicts and the elderly from casting ballots in 2012.

Dana Goldstein: Untangling the HPV Vaccine Debate

Should schoolchildren be required to receive the three-course vaccination against HPV, the sexually transmitted infection that causes 12,000 cases of cervical cancer each year? Michele Bachmann has made the issue a major line of attack against Texas Governor Rick Perry, who signed a 2007 executive order requiring female public school students to receive the vaccine before they enter the sixth grade. (Texas parents have the right to opt their child out of the vaccine.) “I’m a mom of three children. And to have innocent little 12-year-old girls be forced to have a government injection through an executive order is just flat-out wrong,” Bachmann said at Monday night’s GOP debate. “That should never be done…. Little girls who have a negative reaction to this potentially dangerous drug don’t get a mulligan. They don’t get a do- over.”

In the wake of the debate, Bachmann has given several TV interviews in which she makes the claim-totally contrary to medical evidence-that the HPV vaccine causes mental retardation.

Maureen Dowd: The Bachmann Chronicles

Let’s talk about Michele Bachmann. Look, you should thank me for not bringing up Greek debt. Afghan violence. Economic indicators. Show some appreciation.

Bachmann is a challenge for feminist-friendly voters. Was it sexist to talk about her migraine problem? For Newsweek to run the cover that made her look like a well-groomed zombie? Should we have applauded the Iowa Republicans when they put a woman at the top of their presidential preference list, even if the woman in question blamed government spending for the earthquake in Washington?

Wow, it seems like we went through all this with Sarah Palin yesterday.

Women tend to do well in almost any new enterprise where there’s not a lot of stratification and seniority. So it’s not surprising the Tea Party has a number of female stars. But isn’t it sort of strange that they’re all extremely attractive to the point of hot? You’d think there’d be a gray hair or a wattle somewhere.

John Nichols: Elizabeth Warren Runs Against a DC That’s ‘Rigged for Big Corporations’

Elizabeth Warren is running for the United States Senate for the right reason and with the right message.

In fact, her reason and her message are the same-a bit of political calculus that ought not be lost on Democrats who seem so frequently to stumble when it comes to aligning their ambitions and themes.

Warren wants to change the economic debate in a country where the poverty rate is rising, the middle-class is shrinking, the rich are getting dramatically richer and the corporations are writing the rules. In Warren’s words, working families have been “chipped at, hacked at, squeezed and hammered for a generation now, and I don’t think Washington gets it.”

Sep 15 2011

On this Day in History September 15

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 15 is the 258th day of the year (259th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 107 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1963, a bomb explodes during Sunday morning services in the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, killing four young girls.

The 16th Street Baptist Church bombing was a racially motivated terrorist attack on September 15, 1963, by members of a Ku Klux Klan group in Birmingham, Alabama in the United States. The bombing of the African-American  church resulted in the deaths of four girls. Although city leaders had reached a settlement in May with demonstrators and started to integrate public places, not everyone agreed with ending segregation. Other acts of violence followed the settlement. The bombing increased support for people working for civil rights. It marked a turning point in the U.S. 1960s Civil Rights Movement and contributed to support for passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The three-story Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama was a rallying point for civil rights activities through the spring of 1963, and is where the students who marched out of the church to be arrested during the 1963 Birmingham campaign’s Children’s Crusade were trained. The demonstrations led to an agreement in May between the city’s African-American leaders and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) to integrate public facilities in the country.

In the early morning of Sunday, September 15, 1963, Bobby Frank Cherry, Thomas Blanton, Herman Frank Cash, and Robert Chambliss, members of United Klans of America, a Ku Klux Klan group, planted a box of dynamite with a time delay under the steps of the church, near the basement.

At about 10:22 a.m., when twenty-six children were walking into the basement assembly room for closing prayers of a sermon entitled “The Love That Forgives,” the bomb exploded. According to an interview on NPR on September 15, 2008, Denise McNair’s father stated that the sermon never took place because of the bombing. Four girls, Addie Mae Collins (aged 14), Denise McNair (aged 11), Carole Robertson (aged 14), and Cynthia Wesley (aged 14), were killed in the attack, and 22 additional people were injured, one of whom was Addie Mae Collins’ younger sister, Sarah.

The explosion blew a hole in the church’s rear wall, destroyed the back steps, and left intact only the frames of all but one stained-glass window. The lone window that survived the concussion was one in which Jesus Christ was depicted knocking on a door, although Christ’s face was destroyed. In addition, five cars behind the church were damaged, two of which were destroyed, while windows in the laundromat across the street were blown out.

Sep 15 2011

Insurance Blues, or why I am in abject Pain Now 20110915

Most of you that read my pieces know that I was arrested for a heinous crime in 2006, the accusation being false.  I was cleared in court via DNA, but that was not good enough.

I have not worked at all since then, and have been tapping out my hard earned, and long saved retirement funds.  To add insult to injury, I have had to pay income tax and a 10% penalty on drawing those funds.  At the rate that I am burning them, I will be a pauper before retirement age.

But that is not the topic exactly.  My immediate problem is that I think that I have a dental abscess, with my entire face hurting on the left side tonight.

Sep 15 2011

DocuDharma Digest

Regular Features

Featured Essays-

DocuDharma

Sep 15 2011

Legally Stealing The Election

Or how to cheat to win by rigging the system:

The GOP’s Genius Plan to Beat Obama in 2012

Republican state legislators in Pennsylvania are pushing a scheme that, if GOPers in other states follow their lead, could cause President Barack Obama to lose the 2012 election-not because of the vote count, but because of new rules. That’s not all: There’s no legal way for Democrats to stop them.

The problem for Obama, and the opportunity for Republicans, is the electoral college. Every political junkie knows that the presidential election isn’t a truly national contest; it’s a state-by-state fight, and each state is worth a number of electoral votes equal to the size of the state’s congressional delegation. (The District of Columbia also gets three votes.) There are 538 electoral votes up for grabs; win 270, and you’re the president.

Here’s the rub, though: Each state gets to determine how its electoral votes are allocated. Currently, 48 states and DC use a winner-take-all system in which the candidate who wins the popular vote in the state gets all of its electoral votes. Under the Republican plan-which has been endorsed by top GOPers in both houses of the state Legislature, as well as the governor, Tom Corbett-Pennsylvania would change from this system to one where each congressional district gets its own electoral vote. (Two electoral votes-one for each of the state’s two senators-would go to the statewide winner.)

Some Republicans in the House see a downside to this thus hitting a snag:

With next year’s presidential election expected to be hard-fought, even sapping some electoral support from Barack Obama in Pennsylvania could have a major impact on the national results. But to several Republicans in marginal districts, the plan has a catch: they’re worried that Democrats will move dollars and ground troops from solid blue districts to battlegrounds in pursuit of electoral votes – and in the process, knock off the Republicans currently in the seats.

Suburban Philadelphia Reps. Jim Gerlach, Pat Meehan and Mike Fitzpatrick have the most at stake, since all represent districts Democrats won in the last two presidential elections. They and the rest of the Republicans in the delegation are joining with National Republican Congressional Committee officials to respond and mobilize against the change.

“Any proposed change to the election laws shouldn’t be done under the radar,” Fitzpatrick told POLITICO. “If every vote matters, everyone should have a chance to discuss this.”

State GOP chairman Rob Gleason is also opposed to the plan.

As David Nir at Daily Kos points out the electoral college is unfair as it is but there is a solution:

(T)he only way to fight back is to push for the national popular vote, something which can be achieved via an interstate compact between states. The states in the compact would all award their EVs to the winner of the national vote, but the law would only take effect once enough states signed on (i.e., states with 270 electoral votes between them). Several states have already signed on (including big boppers like California and Illinois), and this way, no constitutional amendment is necessary.

If the GOP presses forward with their Pennsylvania plan, we’ll have to respond somehow, and I think the national popular vote is the best plan.

As John Aravosis at AMERICAblog notes:

If the Democrats tried this, the Republicans would be rioting in the street. They’re quite literally trying to steal the presidential election. How will the Democrats respond? The word feckless comes to mind.

Uh. Yup

Sep 15 2011

Democrats: Racing Down The Rabbit Hole

To join the Tea Party. Nomura economist Richard Koo gives decent marks to Obama’s jobs plan,:

Arguing need for longer-term fiscal consolidation is irresponsible

The insistence that fiscal consolidation is necessary in the longer term is like the doctor who, faced with a patient who has just been admitted to the intensive care ward, repeatedly questions the patient about his ability to afford the treatment. This is both lacking in decency and irresponsible.

If the patient loses heart after learning the cost of the treatment, he may end up spending even longer in the hospital, leading to a larger final bill. Completely ignoring the policy duration effect of fiscal policy and constantly insisting on longer-term fiscal consolidation was what prolonged Japan’s recession.

For instance, it was because Japan’s policymakers refused to give up the medium-term fiscal consolidation target of achieving a primary fiscal balance by 2011 that the government stumbled from fiscal stimulus to fiscal retrenchment and back again and, ultimately, was unable to meet its fiscal targets even once in the last 20 years.

That is why Japan’s recession lasted as long as it did and why the nation’s debt has risen to some 200% of GDP.

What digby said:

With some notable exceptions, most people still believe that that there will be a hangover of debt which will have to be dealt with at some point. But the confidence fairy died some time back and the only other reason for worrying about it at this point is to get some Shock Doctrine benefits out of the current situation. But as Koo points out, this actually hurts the economy even more.

Paul Krugman eulogizes the “confidence fairy’s” death:

Photobucket

In the first half of last year a strange delusion swept much of the policy elite on both sides of the Atlantic – the belief that cutting spending in the face of high unemployment would actually create jobs.

Herr Professor points out that past analysis  of austerity measures by the IMF is contradictory and even worse in the current economic climate:

   The reduction in incomes from fiscal consolidations is even larger if central banks do not or cannot blunt some of the pain through a monetary policy stimulus. The fall in interest rates associated with monetary stimulus supports investment and consumption, and the concomitant depreciation of the currency boosts net exports. Ireland in 1987 and Finland and Italy in 1992 are examples of countries that undertook fiscal consolidations, but where large depreciations of the currency helped provide a boost to net exports.

   Unfortunately, these pain relievers are not easy to come by in today’s environment. In many economies, central banks can provide only a limited monetary stimulus because policy interest rates are already near zero (see “Unconventional Behavior” in this issue of F&D). Moreover, if many countries carry out fiscal austerity at the same time, the reduction in incomes in each country is likely to be greater, since not all countries can reduce the value of their currency and increase net exports at the same time.

   Simulations of the IMF’s large-scale models suggest that the reduction in incomes may be more than twice as large as that shown in Chart 2 when central banks cannot cut interest rates and when many countries are carrying out consolidations at the same time. These simulations thus suggest that fiscal consolidation is now likely to be more contractionary (that is, to reduce short-run income more) than was the case in past episodes.

Like Dr. Krugman and digby said, we’re doing it wrong.

Sep 15 2011

My Little Town 20110914: Ma’s Garden

Those of you that read this regular series know that I am from Hackett, Arkansas, just a mile of 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.

Ma always raised a big garden when I was little.  Before Dad had the concrete driveway poured, it was south of the fence in the yard and was pretty big.  After the new driveway, she had to move it south of there, and it was still big.

Sep 15 2011

Countdown with Keith Olbermann: Worst Persons 9.13.2011

“Between 2002 & 2009 The Leading Terrorist Group Were The Republican Party & Bush Administration”

Sep 15 2011

Evening Edition

Evening Edition is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Eurozone crisis could rip EU apart: officials

By Yacine Le Forestier, AFP

6 hrs ago

The eurozone crisis could wreck the European Union, top EU officials warned on Wednesday as the leaders of Germany and France held talks with Greece to avoid a default and widespread chaos.

The pressure rose on all fronts with United States again expressing great concern, with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner saying European states “now recognise they are going to have to do more” to resolve to the crisis.

Highlighting the threat to the global economy, Geithner is to exceptionally attend talks between European Union finance ministers and central bankers in Poland on Friday.