11/21/2011 archive

US Now Poster Child For Suppression of Free Speech

The whole world is watching:


h/t Suzie Madrak  at Crooks & Liars

From the Gawker:

How Egypt Justifies Its Brutal Crackdown: Occupy Wall Street

Two people were killed in Cairo and Alexandria this weekend as Egyptian activists took the streets to protest the military’s attempts to maintain its grip on power. And guess how the state is justifying its deadly crackdown.

“We saw the firm stance the US took against OWS people & the German govt against green protesters to secure the state,” an Egyptian state television anchor said yesterday (as translated by the indispensable Sultan Sooud al Qassemi; bold ours).

The death toll in Egypt has been reported as high as 33 and while as he Gawker points out, the US may not have killed anyone yet but we have militarized our police departments to do what the US military constitutionally cannot and two Iraq vets have been sent to the hospital with life threatening injuries.

Thank you, President Obama, for going where President Bush dared not.


Foreclosure Firm Steven J. Baum to Close Down

By PETER LATTMAN, The New York Times

November 21, 2011, 2:51 pm

On Saturday, Joe Nocera, The Times columnist who originally wrote about the firm’s Halloween party, published another column about the controversy. In it, he quoted an e-mail that Mr. Baum had sent him last week.

“Mr. Nocera – You have destroyed everything and everyone related to Steven J. Baum PC,” said the letter. “It took 40 years to build this firm and three weeks to tear down.”

Good.  Mr. Baum, you are a heartless sack of shit and your firm and its employees are lying perjurers.  I hope you rot in a cell for the rest of your life, penniless and forgotten like the scum you are.

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”.

Robert Kuttner: American Policy Made in China

Last week, President Obama forcefully declared that the United States would not withdraw from the Asia-Pacific, telling the Australian Parliament that he was dispatching 2,500 Marines as well as ships and aircraft to serve at a base in the Australian port of Darwin. The message, in case anybody missed it, was unmistakably directed at China.

But while Obama was making symbolic military gestures, his administration was doing nothing serious to contest China’s growing threat to America’s economic base. That threat is spelled out in an official government document that should be mandatory reading for all of us — the annual report of the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission (pdf), released last Thursday.

What’s noteworthy is that this is a bipartisan commission created by Congress, and that all of its 12 commissioners, six Republicans and six Democrats, signed off on the report.

Greg Sargent: No, `both sides’ aren’t equally to blame for supercommittee failure

Here’s why the supercommittee is failing, in one sentence: Democrats wanted the rich to pay more in taxes towards deficit reduction, and Republicans wanted the rich to pay less in taxes towards deficit reduction. [..]

This is the primary difference in a nutshell: The Dem offer involved both sides making roughly equivalent concessions; the GOP offer didn’t. The main GOP concession – the additional revenues – would have come in exchange for Dems giving ground on two major fronts: On cuts to entitlements, and on making the Bush tax cuts permanent.

Putting aside whether the supercommittee failure matters at all, it’s plainly true that one side was willing to concede far more than the other to make a deal possible. And anyone who pretends otherwise is just part of the problem.

E. J. Dionne, Jr.: It’s Time to Occupy the Majority

BOSTON-Everyone on the left side of American politics, from the near end to the far end, has advice for Occupy Wall Street. I’m no exception. But it’s useful to acknowledge first that this movement has accomplished things that the more established left didn’t.

The problems of growing economic inequality and abuses by the masters of the financial world have been in the background for years. Many progressives longed to make them central political questions.

Occupy realized that the old approaches hadn’t worked. So it provided the media with a committed group of activists to cover, a good story line, and excellent pictures. Paradoxically, its unconventional approach fit nicely with current media conventions. And its indifference to immediate political concerns gave the movement a freedom of action that others on the left did not have.

Henry Porter: Odd as It May Seem, 2011 is Proving to be a Year of Rebirth

When New York’s mayor, Michael Bloomberg, sent stormtrooper cops – equipped with batons, pepper spray and ear-splitting pain compliance devices – to sweep the Occupy protesters from Wall Street, he was attacked by the American TV commentator Keith Olbermann as “a smaller, more embarrassing version of the tinpot tyrants who have fallen around the globe this year”.

That will have pricked Bloomberg’s technocratic vanity, yet there he is, three months away from his 70th birthday and worth approximately $19.5 billion, ordering his police chief, Ray Kelly, who has already hit 70 but is still, incidentally, a familiar figure on the Manhattan party circuit, to unleash a shocking level of force against young people who were simply agitating for a better economic system, more equity and transparency.

It is not a good look in a country where, as Joseph Stiglitz revealed in Vanity Fair, 1% of the population now takes nearly 25% of the nation’s income. Justly or not, Bloomberg will be lumped with that international class of rich, often kleptomaniac, elderly men who have been brought down or who are looking shaky as demands for reform circle the world in what I believe to be a surge of optimism and, crucially, reason.

Eugene Robinson: Still Occupied

NEW YORK-Occupy Wall Street may not occupy Zuccotti Park anymore, but it refuses to surrender its place in the national discourse. Up close, you get the sense that the movement may have only just begun.

Demonstrators staged a “day of action” Thursday, following the eviction of their two-month-old encampment earlier this week. The idea was, well, to occupy Wall Street in a literal sense-to shut down the financial district, at least during the morning rush hour. [..]

There was some pushing and shoving, resulting in a few dozen arrests. Coordinated “day of action” protests were also held in other cities. They did not change the world.

A big failure? No, quite the opposite.

David Sirota: Anger Sowing Seeds of a New Consumer Movement

As we all know, America is angry. Really angry. To put it in pop culture terms, we’ve moved from the vaguely inspiring agita of Peter Finch in “Network” to the wild-eyed, primal-scream rage of Sam Kinison in “Back to School.”

When we pay attention to politics, we get peeved at Congress and the presidential candidates. When we tune into sports, we’re annoyed with squabbling players and owners. When we turn on the news, we fume at the smug pundits. And when it comes to the economy, we’re in a tizzy at big corporations.

Most of this indignation is nothing new; it is atavistic fury expressed in the modern vernacular. Yet, one strand of our anger-the kind directed at big business-may be truly novel, as our chagrin is no longer just that ancient animosity toward excessive corporate power. Instead, it has also become a personal disdain toward firms we deal with on a daily basis.

On this Day In History November 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.

November 21 is the 325th day of the year (326th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 40 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1934, Ella Fitzgerald wins Amateur Night at Harlem’s Apollo Theater. A young and gangly would-be dancer took to the stage of Harlem’s Apollo Theater to participate in a harrowing tradition known as Amateur Night. Finding herself onstage as a result of pure chance after her name was drawn out of a hat, the aspiring dancer spontaneously decided to turn singer instead-a change of heart that would prove momentous not only for herself personally, but also for the future course of American popular music. The performer in question was a teenaged Ella Fitzgerald, whose decision to sing rather than dance on this day in 1934 set her on a course toward becoming a musical legend. It also led her to victory at Amateur Night at the Apollo, a weekly event that was then just a little more than a year old but still thrives today

Ella Jane Fitzgerald (April 25, 1917 – June 15, 1996), also known as the “First Lady of Song” and “Lady Ella,” was an American jazz and song vocalist. With a vocal range spanning three octaves (Db3 to Db6), she was noted for her purity of tone, impeccable diction, phrasing and intonation, and a “horn-like” improvisational ability, particularly in her scat singing.

She is considered to be a notable interpreter of the Great American Songbook. Over a recording career that lasted 59 years, she was the winner of 14 Grammy Awards and was awarded the National Medal of Art by Ronald Reagan and the Presidential Medal of Freedom by George H. W. Bush.

Occupy Wall St.: You Cannot Evict An Idea

Try as they may, the 1% and their elected and appointed puppets cannot evict an ideas whose time has come. Allowing the police to use strong arm tactics, chemical sprays and other “non-lethal” weapons against peaceful, passive demonstrators flies in the face of logic, constitutional and principles. Curling up in a ball or moving your arms to protect yourself will now warrant you a beating with a baton before you are picked up and arrested.

The latest incident last Friday at the University of California Davis Campus produced massive outrage across the country and around the world over the weekend as millions watched the campus police use military grade pepper spray against students sitting, arms linked, peacefully in a circle. Yes, they surrounded police who claimed the students were threatening. But, in order to spray the students, the officer had to step over the students, leave the circle to get the spray. What cowards.

UC Davis Chancellor Linda P.B Katehi had to walk back her initial statement of support for the campus police actions and held press conference Saturday late Saturday afternoon calling for an investigation of the incident. Outside the building where the presser was held, students had assembled around the building chanting “we are peaceful” and “just walk home.” The chancellor stayed inside for over two hours in an attempt to make it appear that the students were holding her hostage. After student representatives had the students stop chanting and form a three block long corridor, Katehi left the building accompanied by student representatives and an investigative reporter Lee Fang who asks her “Chancellor, do you still feel threatened by the students?” She replies “No. No.”. The video, “Walk of Shame”, the silence of the students speaks volumes:

Chancellor Katehi, under pressure to resign, has now suspended two of the officers involved and ordered the investigation to be completed in 30 days, not the 90 she original stated.

H/T John Aravosis at AMERICAblog, Lee Fang at Second Alarm and Jon Weiner at The Nation

More below the fold

Pique the Geek 20111120: The Neurochemistry of Love

The subject of love has been investigated by philosophers, writers, dreamers, theologists, and a whole host of others throughout the ages.  With the advent of the “science” of psychology, the question was even further muddled.  Please do not get me wrong, I have the utmost respect for ethical psychologists, but some of the hypotheses that the likes of Freud proposed were just plain wrong and just confused the issue.

We are just beginning now to solve some of the puzzle, and it turns out that there is quite a lot of biochemistry (and not just neurochemistry) that is involved.  With modern chemical analytical techniques, precise measurements of various neurotransmitters can be made, and with functional magnetic resonance imagining (fMRI) actual images of the human brain in action can be had.

Using a combination of observations about how people behave during different stages of love and some results from these methods, let us take a look about how love works, how it can be one of the most exhilarating experiences that is, and how it can be so terribly hurtful when it goes wrong.  Are you ready?