11/04/2011 archive

Remember, Remember the 5th of November

Tomorrow is Guy Fawkes Day, also know as Bonfire Night. The day actually celebrates the foiled plot to blow up the British Parliament in 1605. Its history begins with the events of 5 November 1605, when Guy Fawkes, a member of the Gunpowder Plot, was arrested while guarding explosives the plotters had placed beneath the House of Lords. Celebrating the fact that King James I had survived the attempt on his life, people lit bonfires around London, and months later the introduction of the Observance of 5th November Act enforced an annual public day of thanksgiving for the plot’s failure. On the very night that the Gunpowder Plot was foiled, on November 5th, 1605, bonfires were set alight to celebrate the safety of the King. Since then, November 5th has become known as Bonfire Night. The event is commemorated every year with fireworks and burning effigies of Guy Fawkes on a bonfire.

The day has now morphed into something different. The mask that was worn by the guy who shared the screen with a shorn Natalie Portman in the 2006 movie, “V for Vendetta”, has become a symbol of Occupy Wall Street protesters, Anonymous hactivists and chief WikiLeaker Julian Assange. Now, ironically, the fires and the mask are symbols of standing up to the oppressors, be it the government or the 1% who keeps the 99% downtrodden.

Even today in Britain, most wonder if they are celebrating Fawkes’ execution or honoring his attempt to do away with the government.

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”.

Paul Krugman: Oligarchy, American Style

Inequality is back in the news, largely thanks to Occupy Wall Street, but with an assist from the Congressional Budget Office. And you know what that means: It’s time to roll out the obfuscators!

Anyone who has tracked this issue over time knows what I mean. Whenever growing income disparities threaten to come into focus, a reliable set of defenders tries to bring back the blur. Think tanks put out reports claiming that inequality isn’t really rising, or that it doesn’t matter. Pundits try to put a more benign face on the phenomenon, claiming that it’s not really the wealthy few versus the rest, it’s the educated versus the less educated.

So what you need to know is that all of these claims are basically attempts to obscure the stark reality: We have a society in which money is increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few people, and in which that concentration of income and wealth threatens to make us a democracy in name only.

New York Times Editorial: Putting Millionaires Before Jobs

There’s nothing partisan about a road or a bridge or an airport; Democrats and Republicans have voted to spend billions on them for decades and long supported rebuilding plans in their own states. On Thursday, though, when President Obama’s plan to spend $60 billion on infrastructure repairs came up for a vote in the Senate, not a single Republican agreed to break the party’s filibuster.

That’s because the bill would pay for itself with a 0.7 percent surtax on people making more than $1 million. That would affect about 345,000 taxpayers, according to Citizens for Tax Justice, adding an average of $13,457 to their annual tax bills. Protecting that elite group – and hewing to their rigid antitax vows – was more important to Senate Republicans than the thousands of construction jobs the bill would have helped create, or the millions of people who would have used the rebuilt roads, bridges and airports.

Eugene Robinson: The Mitt Might Not Fit

The Republican Party’s inevitable decision to nominate Mitt Romney for president is starting to look evitable after all.

That’s certainly not a consensus view among the Washington cognoscenti, who tend to see the yet-to-come primaries and caucuses as mere formalities. Romney, they say, is the GOP’s obvious choice-a poised and experienced candidate with presidential bearing, world-class hair and the ability to speak in complete sentences, even about the economy. Sooner or later, the party will come to its senses and see that he has the best chance of beating President Obama.

The White House certainly seems to buy into this scenario. For months now, virtually every conversation I’ve had with one of those increasingly chatty “senior administration officials,” on any subject, has included at least a swipe or two at Romney. It’s clear that he’s the opponent the Obama machine is gearing up to face.

But I’m less and less convinced. It’s hard for me to see how any of the other candidates can win the nomination-but it’s hard for me to see how Romney wins it, either.

John Nichols: Union Pressure, OWS Protests Tear Down a Barrier to Taxing Speculators

Does protesting and pressuring powerful players in political and economic life matter?

Can the White House and Congress really be moved on questions so central as taxing financial speculation?


And here’s the evidence of how of it works.

For months, the AFL-CIO has been been pressuring the Obama administration to ease off rigid opposition to international efforts to tax financial speculators. And that pressure has been highlighted on Capitol Hill and on the streets by an allied union, National Nurses United.

The White House stance has been one of the chief barriers to the efforts of French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel to reach an agreement within the Group of 20 economic superpowers to develop a small financial transactions tax (FTT) that would target speculators.

Patricia J. Williams: Culture of Death: Who Gets to Be a Person in Mississippi?

On November 8, Mississippi is set to vote on Measure 26, a ballot initiative that would redefine the state’s Bill of Rights to extend the protections of personhood to include “every human being from the moment of fertilization, cloning or the functional equivalent thereof.” It is striking that the measure, which is largely motivated by religious concerns about the sanctity of human existence, crops up in a state that has one of the lowest indices for overall quality of life-whenever it might begin-in the entire country: the infant mortality rate over the last decade is about 10 per 1,000 live births, with black babies dying at twice the rate of white babies. Mississippi leads the country in obesity and ranks forty-sixth in the number of state residents who have health insurance. It suffers from high death rates from cancer and heart disease. Twenty-three percent of the population lives below the poverty level, giving Mississippi the unenviable distinction of ranking dead last in the nation.

With the odds of survival so relatively skewed, it is no wonder that there might be some anxiety over preserving the very idea of life. Then, too, the legal category of “personhood” seems particularly capacious since Citizens United; if such a label protects corporations, banks and homeowners’ associations-and don’t they seem to be thriving!-what blessings might it extend to a zygote, that abstracted conception of future stock, human capital, mortal enterprise?

William Greider: Smearing Social Security

The Washington Post published a sensational story last Sunday that claimed that Social Security is already broke. “Adding billions to US budget woes,” the headline read. Instead of piling up surpluses, as the Social Security trust fund has done for nearly thirty years, this year the system became “cash negative.” Social Security, the Post warned, “is sucking money out of the Treasury.”

This is alarming news, if true. Fortunately, it is not true. The Post committed what I call fact-filled mendacity-a pejorative mash of scary buzz words and opaque statistics that encourages readers to reach false conclusions. The newspaper’s obvious objective is goosing the so-called supercommittee whose Congressional members seem to be reluctant about whacking Social Security benefits. The formerly liberal Washington Post has long urged that as a solution to federal debt and deficits. Its ideological posture influences its reporting and also what “informed observers” think. Last night, I heard a TV anchor remark in passing, “We just read that Social Security is in the red.”

Baloney. The truth-if truth is still relevant to Washington politics-is that Social Security has never contributed a dime to the federal budget deficits. Therefore, cutting Social Security for the elderly will do nothing to relieve the deficit problem. Senate majority leader Harry Reid has made this point, so has President Obama. Not true, the Post story flatly declares.

George Zornick: America’s Top Corporations Pay Half of Taxes They Owe

Particularly in recent months, Republicans have gotten a lot of mileage out of the claim that 47 percent of Americans don’t pay taxes. “We’re dismayed at the injustice that nearly half of all Americans don’t even pay any income tax,” Rick Perry said in his presidential announcement speech. “A majority of American households paid no income tax in 2009. Zero. Zip. Nada,” declared Senator John Cornyn of Texas this summer.

The truth behind the truth, of course, is that 47 percent of Americans don’t pay federal income taxes because they don’t earn enough money. For example, a couple with two children earning less than $26,400 isn’t required to pay any income taxes, because they are presumably stretched thin enough already. The elderly, poor and young receive various tax credits that exempt them from having to pay already meager incomes to the federal government.

If Republicans really wanted to go after tax freeloaders, they ought to start talking about big corporations. Today, Citizens for Tax Justice released a damning report detailing how many large corporations paid ridiculously low tax rates on billions in profit-and in some cases, actually got money from the government.

Occupy Wall St. Livestream: Day 49

Watch live streaming video from globalrevolution at livestream.com


The resistance continues at Liberty Square, with free pizza 😉

“I don’t know how to fix this but I know it’s wrong.” ~ Unknown Author

Occupy Wall Street NYC now has a web site for its General Assembly  with up dates and information. Very informative and user friendly. It has information about events, a bulletin board, groups and minutes of the GA meetings.

NYC General Assembly #OccupyWallStreet

Eviction Defense!

Sign up for the eviction defense text blast!

Send a text to the number 23559, with the the message @occupyalert

This will be used for emergency alerts and announcements.

Three weeks ago NYPD delivered what was effectively a notice of eviction, telling residents of Liberty Square that Brookfield, with the help of the city, was going to clean the park. Instead, #OWS mobilized, organizing a mass clean up, mobilizing thousands of supporters, and flooding the mayors office with phone calls. An amazing pre-dawn defence packed the square with thousands of people. Brookfield stood down and the eviction was averted.

Today rumors are rampant that the city is again considering action to end the occupation. Labor leaders, local elected officials, and news outlets are hearing the rumblings of eviction. We know that when the next eviction attempt comes, we will not get advanced warning. NYPD could move in as early as tonight, or it could be next week. We know that our adversaries are trying to build political cover for eviction by demonizing us in the press.

We need to be ready to defend the occupation. Be prepared!

Occupy Wall Street to Mayor Bloomberg: Get Your Facts Straight; Stop the Fear Mongering

Yesterday New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg alleged that Occupy Wall Street participants at Liberty Square (Zuccotti Park) are chasing criminals out of the park instead of reporting them to police. In reality, Occupy Wall Street has its own well-trained internal security force, but this team does not substitute for the police when it comes to criminal activity that threatens our community or local residents. Occupy Wall Street participants have called upon police on occasions when people with predatory intentions have come into the park and engaged in illegal and destructive behavior, and have in fact turned over criminals to the NYPD.

“Bloomberg lied yesterday when he claimed tha a sexual assault suspect was merely kicked out of the park, when in fact OWS security personnel forcibly removed the individual and handed him directly to the NYPD,” said Andrew Smith, a member of OWS’s overnight Community Watch. “The Mayor should get his facts straight before he calls responsible citizens protecting our community ‘despicable.'”

Bloomberg will say and do just about anything to protect his fellow 1%ers.

Jobless Protesters Occupy Mitch McConnell’s Office As Congress Dithers On Jobs

WASHINGTON — Roughly 30 jobless protesters from D.C. neighborhoods occupied Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office in the Russell Senate Office Building Thursday, saying they wanted to talk to him about jobs.

But McConnell was busy at the Capitol Building, where he led Republicans in blocking a $60 billion infrastructure bill. The protesters said they supported the measure.

McConnell’s legislative director offered to sit down with the group, but they declined, saying they’d rather wait for the senator himself. So they sat in his office, taking up every chair and lots of floor space while McConnell’s staff went about its business. A Capitol Police officer scoped the situation and said her heart went out to them for losing their jobs.

The protesters, most of whom said they lived in the poorest part of Southeast D.C., had no affiliation with the Occupy Wall Street movement. They’d been organized by a community group called OurDC, which has been hectoring Congress about jobs since it launched with SEIU seed money earlier this year. The protesters remained in the office as of Thursday afternoon as of 3 p.m. and said they wouldn’t leave before meeting the senator.

Who are the Galts?

Oligarchy, American Style

By PAUL KRUGMAN, The New York Times

Published: November 3, 2011

The (congressional) budget office report tells us that essentially all of the upward redistribution of income away from the bottom 80 percent has gone to the highest-income 1 percent of Americans. That is, the protesters who portray themselves as representing the interests of the 99 percent have it basically right, and the pundits solemnly assuring them that it’s really about education, not the gains of a small elite, have it completely wrong.

If anything, the protesters are setting the cutoff too low. The recent budget office report doesn’t look inside the top 1 percent, but an earlier report, which only went up to 2005, found that almost two-thirds of the rising share of the top percentile in income actually went to the top 0.1 percent – the richest thousandth of Americans, who saw their real incomes rise more than 400 percent over the period from 1979 to 2005.

Who’s in that top 0.1 percent? Are they heroic entrepreneurs creating jobs? No, for the most part, they’re corporate executives. Recent research shows that around 60 percent of the top 0.1 percent either are executives in nonfinancial companies or make their money in finance, i.e., Wall Street broadly defined. Add in lawyers and people in real estate, and we’re talking about more than 70 percent of the lucky one-thousandth.

On this Day In History November 4

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.

November 4 is the 308th day of the year (309th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 57 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1922, British archaeologist Howard Carter and his workmen discover a step leading to the tomb of King Tutankhamen in the Valley of the Kings in Egypt.

The British Egyptologist Howard Carter (employed by Lord Carnarvon) discovered Tutankhamun’s tomb (since designated KV62) in the Valley of the Kings on November 4, 1922, near the entrance to the tomb of Ramesses VI, thereby setting off a renewed interest in all things Egyptian in the modern world. Carter contacted his patron, and on November 26 that year, both men became the first people to enter Tutankhamun’s tomb in over 3000 years. After many weeks of careful excavation, on February 16, 1923, Carter opened the inner chamber and first saw the sarcophagus of Tutankhamun. All of this was conveyed to the public by H. V. Morton, the only journalist allowed on the scene.

The first step to the stairs was found on November 4, 1922. The following day saw the exposure of a complete staircase. The end of November saw access to the Antechamber and the discovery of the Annex, and then the Burial Chamber and Treasury.

On November 29, the tomb was officially opened, and the first announcement and press conference followed the next day. The first item was removed from the tomb on December 27.

February 16, 1923 saw the official opening of the Burial Chamber, and April 5 saw the death of Lord Carnarvon.

On February 12, 1924, the granite lid of the sarcophagus was raised In April, Carter argued with the Antiquities Service, and left the excavation for the United States.

In January 1925, Carter resumed activities in the tomb, and on October 13, he removed the cover of the first sarcophagus; on October 23, he removed the cover of the second sarcophagus; on October 28, the team removed the cover of the final sarcophagus and exposed the mummy; and on November 11, the examination of the remains of Tutankhamun started.

Work started in the Treasury on October 24, 1926, and between October 30 and December 15, 1927, the Annex was emptied and examined.

On November 10, 1930, eight years after the discovery, the last objects were finally removed from the tomb of the long lost Pharaoh.

Still Fighting For The Right To Vote

The recent proliferation of laws in states run by Republican legislatures requiring state photo ID’s are tantamount to the “poll tax” and literacy laws of the Jim Crow era that suppressed the African American vote. These new laws go even further by making it difficult to register to vote for the poor, the elderly, the home bound, students, absentee voters and more. The GOP has declared a war on voting:

Newly empowered Republican legislatures have been imposing onerous voter ID laws in at least 32 states, even though in-person voter fraud is virtually nonexistent. Texas went as far as exempting concealed carry permit holders and people born before 1931 from its voter ID law, a transparent admission that such laws can needlessly disenfranchise voters and that the intent of the law was to disenfranchise likely Democratic constituencies. New Hampshire Republicans are trying to ban many college students from voting because they “vote as liberal.” These days, the most important battles over access to the ballot box don’t happen on election day, and they don’t involve dramatic examples of flagrant voter intimidation. They happen in state legislatures, around the basic rules for how to show up and vote on election day.

This is something to consider when Republicans treat the New Black Panther voter intimidation case as an outrage. Not a single voter has said they were intimidated in that case, but Republican legislatures all over the country are actively pursuing policies that could disenfranchise thousands of people because they are more likely to vote for the other side. This also helps explain conservative hostility to the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division in general — the last thing Republicans want is the federal government intervening to protect the franchise when the GOP is busy trying to restrict it to their own constituencies.

A recent study released from the Brennan Center for Justice estimates that approximately 5 million eligible voters will be disenfranchised by these laws.

New York – New voting laws could make it significantly harder for more than five million eligible voters to cast ballots in 2012, according to the first comprehensive study of the laws’ impact.

Widespread voting cutbacks could have a significant electoral impact in next year’s hard-fought races, the study concludes. Minorities, poor and young voters will likely be most affected.

“This is the most significant cutback in voting rights in decades. More voters may be affected than the margin of victory in two out of the past three presidential elections,” said Michael Waldman, the Center’s executive diector. “In 2012 we should make it easier for every eligible citizen to vote. Instead, we have made it far harder for too many. Partisans should not try to tilt the electoral playing field in this way.”

Voting Law Changes in 2012 analyzes the 19 laws and two executive actions that passed in fourteen states this year, as well as more than 100 bills that were introduced but did not pass (some may still pass). The study shows, among other things:

  •    The states that have already cut back on voting rights will provide 171 electoral votes in 2012-63 percent of the 270 needed to win the presidency.
  •    Of the 12 battleground states identified by an August Los Angeles Times analysis of Gallup polling, five have already cut back on voting rights (and may pass additional restrictive legislation), and two more are currently considering cutbacks.
  • Fight For The Right To Vote, with Keith Ellison

    Keith and Rep. Keith Ellison discuss the latest GOP-driven voter ID laws introduced in 34 states that are sure to disenfranchise millions of Americans. To reduce the impact of what he is calling “a poll tax – a price to pay before you can vote,” Ellison has introduced a bill that would require all states to offer same-day voter registration for federal elections and another bill that would prevent state officials from requiring photo identification before a citizen is allowed to vote.

    Noting that the trajectory of voting has been an “expansion of rights” and that the GOP “is trying to roll this back,” Ellison says he hopes and prays that the Occupy movement will “think about how this voter suppression movement is trying to curtail their rights.” In response to Keith’s suggestion that the voting day be changed from Tuesday to Saturday/Sunday, Ellison calls it “a great idea” and says that he’ll “get working on it.”

    This Week In The Dream Antilles



    Your Bloguero is embarrassed.  He was going to tell you that the dog ate his homework, so there was no “This Week” this week.  He even discussed it with the dog.  Would she be willing to take the blame for this week’s soon to be nonexistent post?  No, she would not.  Speaking as a 10-year old, experienced Golden Retriever owned by someone who claims to be a writer, the dog says only this: “Give cookies.  And, by the way, suck it up, hot shot.  You’re the one who’s supposed to be the writer.  Not me.  Stop complaining.  Just hammer it out.”  That is cold.  Very cold.  But good advice.  And to think that your Bloguero thought the dog was going to help.  And provide an excuse.  Alack.  What a disappointment. Your Bloguero also thought there was some drug he could ingest that would get him to write the post, but alack and alack, he confesses he can’t find it.  

    Your Bloguero’s desperation runneth over.  Every Friday.  Without fail, your Bloguero has committed to post on four group blogs and his own blog.  Like clock work.  No matter what.  How, your Bloguero wonders, can he explain that this week there just is no “This Week.”  It’s just not there.  It wasn’t written.  It wasn’t posted.  Poof.  It’s gone.  Probably, he can’t.  Probably, you, dear reader, don’t want to hear the whining, excuses, lies, and assorted, inventive short fiction about your Bloguero’s lack of output and the claimed “reasons” for it.  Know what?  Your Bloguero is not exactly captivated by inventing excuses either.

    So perhaps a confession will suffice.  This week your Bloguero was obsessed with something.  And he didn’t do much writing because he was totally obsessed with this and he doesn’t write when he’s obsessing.

    A bit of probably unnecessary background: your  Bloguero has now reached a certain age.  It’s the age at which the Government is supposed to provide Medicare. But.  And this is a very big but, your Bloguero is so far from retiring that that “R” word is not a regular part of his regular internal discourse. No. So he’s not getting a gold watch.  And he’s not moving to Arizona.  Or Florida.  And he’s not departing on his Spiritual Journey to Benares.  Or even Benares on the Atlantic (Palm Beach).  Or buying an RV.  Or a boat.  Or a vineyard. Or a trophy wife. Or a set of golf clubs. Nope. Nada.  None of the above. Not one of them. Your Bloguero has other concerns, concerns that are more important to him.  Specifically, your Bloguero wants to know what he has to do so that he will be referred to by others as “Don David” or “Don davidseth” or “Don Bloguero.”  

    Maybe that’s not a big deal to you, especially if you live in one of the many Gringo parts of the world where honorifics and polite address are utterly irrelevant.  But let your Bloguero assure you, this is a big deal to your Bloguero.  A very big deal.  One he has relentlessly been obsessing about for a week.  One that has become a consummate distraction.

    Look.  Being called “Don [insert first name]” is a very big deal to your Bloguero:

    Although originally a title reserved for royalty, select nobles, and church hierarchs, it is now often used as a mark of esteem for a person of personal, social or official distinction, such as a community leader of long standing, a person of significant wealth, or a noble, but may also be used ironically. As a style, rather than a title or rank, it is used with, and not instead of, a person’s name….

    Today in Mexican-American communities, the Don or Doña is used in honorific form when addressing a senior citizen.


    Right.  It’s an honorific.   For people of esteem.  For senior citizens.  Your Bloguero consulted with his usual, expert cultural consultants about this, and they each told him uniformly that he was old enough, yes, that he didn’t need to have any grandchildren to merit the title, yes, and because he was a nice guy and held in esteem generally, he could properly be called “Don Bloguero.”  Right.

    But why then, your Bloguero wants to understand, is he NOT called “Don” anything?   Ever.  It has never ever happened. Surely, it is not your Bloguero’s obligation to tell other people that he has now assumed the rank of Don by virtue of his age and being an esteemed and great person, so, therefore they should now begin to address him as such.  No.  It is not your Bloguero’s function to demand this title. Instead, what is required, your Bloguero thinks, is for the large community spontaneously, without prompting, without coaching or wheedling or paying of mordidas, to confer the title, to begin to call him Don.  All on its own.  Spontaneously.

    That is what your Bloguero has been obsessing about.  Can’t your Bloguero pick up this title?  And if he can’t, what exactly has your Bloguero done so that he does not merit being called “Don Bloguero?”  And what, pray tell, does your Bloguero have to do to be referred to by his important honorific.

    If you know the answer, please write it on a $500 peso bill and mail it to your Bloguero immediately.

    This Week In The Dream Antilles is usually a weekly digest. Sometimes, like now and for several of the past weeks, it isn’t actually a digest of essays posted in the past week at The Dream Antilles. For that you have to visit The Dream Antilles.