Daily Archive: 09/21/2011

Sep 21 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”.

Katrina vanden Heuvel: Fighting Poverty Now

Last week the US Census Bureau released new data on poverty in 2010. The damaging impact of the Great Recession and weak labor market is stark: 46.2 million Americans lived below the poverty line-less than $22,314 annually for a family of four-which translates to nearly one in six Americans. This is the highest number on record in fifty-two years of poverty estimates. More than every fifth child in this country is now mired in poverty, and a record 20 million people are living in deep poverty-less than about $11,000 for a family of four-including an astonishing 9.9 percent of children.

The media has had to pay attention to these numbers-they are too dramatic to ignore. But with unemployment expected to remain high through 2012, the coverage is filled with an almost fatalistic helplessness when it comes to reversing this crisis.

Yet there are many good people and groups which have been fighting to end poverty for decades. They offer concrete, savvy and strategic ideas about “what works”-ideas too often overlooked in a capitol corroded by money, and by media that seem to only discover poverty when the new census numbers roll around.

Here are ten ideas that can make a real difference right now in the lives of people who are poor or near poor.

“First, Do No Harm”

Glenn Greenwald: Jose Padilla, Troy Davis and how American Justice Functions

The story of Jose Padilla, continuing through the events of yesterday, expresses so much of the true nature of the War on Terror and especially America’s justice system.  In 2002, the American citizen was arrested at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport, publicly labeled by John Ashcroft as The Dirty Bomber, and then imprisoned for the next three years on U.S. soil as an “enemy combatant” without charges of any kind, and denied all contact with the outside world, including even a lawyer.  During his lawless incarceration, he was kept not just in extreme solitary confinement but extreme sensory deprivation as well, and was abused and tortured to the point of severe and probably permanent mental incapacity (Bush lawyers told a court that they were unable to produce videos of Padilla’s interrogations because those videos were mysteriously and tragically “lost”).

Needless to say, none of the government officials responsible for this abuse of a U.S. citizen on American soil has been held accountable in any way.  That’s because President Obama decreed that Bush officials shall not be criminally investigated for War on Terror crimes, while his Justice Department vigorously defended John Yoo, Donald Rumsfeld and other responsible functionaries in civil suits brought by Padilla seeking damages for what was done to him.

Sarah Anderson: Obama Supported Financial Transactions Taxes – Before Summers Nixed It

The hot new book in Washington, Ron Suskind’s Confidence Men, shines a bit of new light on the Obama administration’s lack of support for financial transactions taxes.

According to the book, based on 700 hours of interviews with high-level staff, President Obama supported the idea of placing a small tax on trades of stocks, derivatives, and other financial instruments. But, as with many other progressive policy proposals, it was blocked by Larry Summers, the former Treasury Secretary who was serving as Obama’s Director of the National Economic Council.

A major theme of the just-released book is how Summers dominated daily morning economic policy meetings with Obama. Former Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag reportedly told Suskind that Summers would often tell the President “I’ll make my argument first; you can go after me.”

Robert Reich: A Good Fight

So the really big fight – perhaps the defining battle of 2012 – won’t be over Medicare. It won’t even be over Obama’s jobs program.

It will be over whether the rich should pay more taxes.

The President has vowed to veto any plan to tame the debt that doesn’t increase taxes on the rich. The Republicans have vowed to oppose any tax increases on the rich.

It’s a good fight to have.

In a Rose Garden ceremony yesterday, Obama proposed new taxes on the wealthy – including a special new tax for millionaires, the closing of loopholes and deductions for people making more than $250,000 a year, and an end to the portion of the Bush tax cut going to higher incomes.

Linda Bilmes and Joseph Stiglitz: America’s Costly War Machine

Fighting the war on terror compromises the economy now and threatens it in the future.

Ten years into the war on terror, the U.S. has largely succeeded in its attempts to destabilize Al Qaeda and eliminate its leaders. But the cost has been enormous, and our decisions about how to finance it have profoundly damaged the U.S. economy.

Richard Wolff: The Truth about ‘Class War’ in America

Republicans claim, in Orwellian fashion, that Obama’s millionaire tax is ‘class war’. The reality is that the super-rich won the war

Republicans and conservatives always fight back against proposals to raise taxes on corporations and rich individuals by making two basic claims. First, such proposals amount to un-American “class warfare”, pitting the working class against corporations and the rich. Second, such proposals would take money for the government that would otherwise have been invested in production and thus created jobs.

Neither logic nor evidence supports either claim. The charge of class war is particularly obtuse. Consider simply these two facts. First, at the end of the second world war, for every dollar Washington raised in taxes on individuals, it raised $1.50 in taxes on business profits. Today, that ratio is very different: for every dollar Washington gets in taxes on individuals, it takes 25 cents in taxes on business. In short, the last half century has seen a massive shift of the burden of federal taxation off business and onto individuals.

Maureen Dowd; The Re-election Tango

Whether Bill Clinton is being mischievous or helpful is never entirely clear. But the former president often manages to show the current president just how the game should be played.

When Barack Obama was languishing by the phone in July, yearning to hear from John Boehner on the elusive Grand Bargain, the Big Dog advised blowing off the obstructionists in Congress and invoking the 14th Amendment to raise the debt ceiling.

Clinton will often forcefully – and feelingly – frame the argument for Obama policies that would help the working class in a way that Obama himself, once hailed as a master communicator, can’t seem to muster.

Sep 21 2011

On This Day In History September 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.

September 21 is the 264th day of the year (265th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 101 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1780, during the American Revolution, American General Benedict Arnold meets with British Major John Andre to discuss handing over West Point to the British, in return for the promise of a large sum of money and a high position in the British army. The plot was foiled and Arnold, a former American hero, became synonymous with the word “traitor.”

Born in Connecticut, he was a merchant operating ships on the Atlantic Ocean when the war broke out in 1775. After joining the growing army outside Boston, he distinguished himself through acts of cunning and bravery. His actions included the Capture of Fort Ticonderoga in 1775, successful defensive and delaying tactics despite losing the Battle of Valcour Island on Lake Champlain in 1776, the Battle of Ridgefield, Connecticut (after which he was promoted to major general), operations in relief of the Siege of Fort Stanwix, and key actions during the pivotal Battles of Saratoga in 1777, in which he suffered leg injuries that ended his combat career for several years.

In spite of his successes, Arnold was passed over for promotion by the Continental Congress while other officers claimed credit for some of his accomplishments. Adversaries in military and political circles brought charges of corruption or other malfeasance, but he was acquitted in most formal inquiries. Congress investigated his accounts, and found that he owed it money after he had spent much of his own money on the war effort. Frustrated and bitter, Arnold decided to change sides in 1779, and opened secret negotiations with the British. In July 1780, he sought and obtained command of West Point in order to surrender it to the British. Arnold’s scheme was exposed when American forces captured British Major John André carrying papers that revealed the plot. Upon learning of André’s capture, Arnold fled down the Hudson River to the British sloop-of-war Vulture, narrowly avoiding capture by the forces of George Washington, who had been alerted to the plot.

Arnold received a commission as a brigadier general in the British Army, an annual pension of £360, and a lump sum of over £6,000. He led British forces on raids in Virginia, and against New London and Groton, Connecticut, before the war effectively ended with the American victory at Yorktown. In the winter of 1782, Arnold moved to London with his second wife, Margaret “Peggy” Shippen Arnold. He was well received by King George III and the Tories but frowned upon by the Whigs. In 1787, he entered into mercantile business with his sons Richard and Henry in Saint John, New Brunswick, but returned to London to settle permanently in 1791, where he died ten years later.

Sep 21 2011

On Suskind

What digby said

It certainly does clear up any thought we might have had about whether or not the president is a real fiscal conservative or whether he was just flogging this deficit obsession for political effect. He’s a true believer. And we know this because of his reliance on other deficit hawks and because when the political bloodbath the jobless recovery had predicted came true, his first move was to validate the Republicans’ manufactured narrative about what had motivated their voters and launch his program of budget cuts and deficit reduction.

I have thought that his fetish for a Grand Bargain was mostly born of a delusional belief that he was someone who could bridge unbridgeable differences and be remembered as the man who brought cats and dogs together. But it looks as though he was just as motivated by the fact that he’s a true blue, Concord Coalition, Pete Peterson deficit hawk.

Sep 21 2011

DocuDharma Digest

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Sep 21 2011

Fasting With Troy Davis on 9/21

   

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The Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles denied Troy Davis’s request for clemency. It appears that Georgia will kill him by lethal injection at 7 pm ET on September 21, 2011. And it appears that execution cannot be stopped.

From Ben Jeanlous at the NAACP an eloquent, moving request that we fast tomorrow evening and mark the time of Troy Davis’s execution:

Sep 21 2011

Evening Edition

Evening Edition is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Death toll hits 60 as violence rocks Yemen capital

By Jamal al-Jabiri, AFP

7 hrs ago

Gunfire and shelling rocked Sanaa for the third straight day on Tuesday as the toll from the worst outbreak of violence in Yemen’s capital in months spiralled to 60 dead with hundreds wounded.

The violence has hampered attempts by regional and international mediators to clinch a power transfer deal between political rivals, with the opposition saying it will not negotiate “while blood is flowing in Sanaa.”

Fighting between dissident military troops and those loyal to President Ali Abdullah Saleh broke out at dawn after a brief lull overnight and raged into the morning, leaving seven people dead, medics and witnesses said.