Daily Archive: 12/28/2011

Dec 28 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”.

Wednesday is Ladies’ Day

Amanda Marcotte: 2011: The War on Contraception

The year 2011 will be remembered by reproductive rights supporters as the year that the anti-choice movement really turned up the aggression, destroying the objections of moderate liberals who thought that pro-choice activists were being hysterical little ladies with our constant warnings about anti-choicers.

Up until late 2010, you could still find many a liberal who would argue that conservatives “don’t really” want to ban abortion, but instead dangle the promise of doing so in front of a bunch of religious zealots to get their votes. Now those liberals realize the religious zealots actually exert quite a bit of control, in both their direct control over the Republicans and their ability to make the Democrats jump around nervously.

Up through 2010, you could find many liberals who would laugh condescendingly when you would point out that the anti-choice movement not only wants to ban abortion, but has an eye out for destroying access to contraception, as well. No one is laughing at the supposedly hysterical ladies anymore. Turns out, we were right all along, and everyone knows it, including the White House.

H. Patricia Hynes: Women are the Biggest Losers: Reflecting on the War in Iraq

In the third week of December 2011, a confluence of political events profoundly affecting Iraqi and American women took place. [..]

The same week, Yanar Mohammed, founding director of the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq (OWFI), was interviewed on the state of Iraq as the American occupation ends. She described Iraqi cities full of destroyed buildings and broken streets, with intermittent electricity and unsafe drinking water. Iraq, she said, is now a country of 99% poor and 1% rich living in the Green Zone, burdened with the most corrupt government in the world that is giving control of oil resources to multinational oil companies.

Iraqi women “are the biggest losers” in this war, Mohammed asserted, ending up with extreme lack of freedom, lack of social security, lack of opportunity, and increased sexual terror. Her organization has conducted extensive high-risk investigations into the prevalence and plight of Iraqi widows, women kidnapped and killed, and women trafficked into prostitution. Fifteen percent of Iraq’s 1 to 2 million widows are seeking temporary marriages out of economic desperation and extreme insecurity in being a single woman. By 2006, OWFI had observed an “epidemic rise” in the number of women prostituted in brothels, workplaces, and hideouts in Baghdad. Through covert investigation, they learned of the trafficking of women within Iraq for Iraqi men in all regions and for US military, as well as to nearby countries. Democracy in Iraq has been crushed for women.

Laura Flanders: Winning Basic Care for Care Givers

Will Occupy Wall Street alter anything about the way money media cover movements? [..]

Take a rule change that would improve life for millions of home care workers. In 1974, when the Labor Department extended federal labor protections to in-home workers, they created an exemption for “companion services,” understood at the time to mean mostly casual babysitters or relatives. Since then, under various definitions, home care has mushroomed into a multibillion-dollar business dominated by large for-profit agencies-one of the fastest growing sectors of our economy. In-home work is slated to grow by 50 percent between 2008 and 2018 and yet much of the workforce still exists in an unprotected legal murk where their work is “expected, but not respected,” as Tracy Dudzinski a home care worker and advocate for home care workers put it in a conference call for reporters.

Amy Goodman: If You Can’t Beat Them, Enjoin Them (From Voting)

All eyes are on Iowa this week, as the hodgepodge field of Republican contenders gallivants across that farm state seeking a win, or at least “momentum,” in the campaign for the party’s presidential nomination. But behind the scenes, a battle is being waged by Republicans-not against each other, but against American voters. Across the country, state legislatures and governors are pushing laws that seek to restrict access to the voting booth, laws that will disproportionately harm people of color, low-income people, and young and elderly voters.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund have just released a comprehensive report on the crisis, “Defending Democracy: Confronting Modern Barriers to Voting Rights in America.” In it, they write: “The heart of the modern block the vote campaign is a wave of restrictive government-issued photo identification requirements. In a coordinated effort, legislators in thirty-four states introduced bills imposing such requirements. Many of these bills were modeled on legislation drafted by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)-a conservative advocacy group whose founder explained: ‘Our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down.'”

Ruth Marcus: Oh, please: The hypocrisy of Gingrich and Romney

To use the adverbs of which he is so fond, it is magnificently, fundamentally, literally ironic that Newt Gingrich, the master of slasher political rhetoric, is busy mewling over those meanie attack ads being run against him.

And to employ Mitt Romney’s favorite piece of management-consultant speak, with regards to those terrible, horrible nasty outside groups, it’s a bit rich for the former Massachusetts governor to bemoan their existence and assert that there’s absolutely, positively nothing he could do to get them to stop.

How dumb do they think we are?

Kathy Kelly: Assembly Time

Arab Spring, European Summer, American Autumn, and now the challenge of winter. Here in Kabul, Afghanistan, the travelers of our small Voices for Creative Nonviolence delegation share an apartment with several of the creative and determined “Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers” who’ve risked so much for peace here and befriended us so warmly over the past two years.

Our apartment doesn’t have indoor heating or hot tap water. We bundle up, overnight, in blankets, quilts and sleeping bags, and the Westerners, unaccustomed to the indoor cold, wear at least five layers of clothing during the daytime. Tap water is contaminated, electricity shortages are frequent, and internet access is spotty, but compared to those who live in Kabul’s refugee camps, we’re ensconced in plenty of creature comforts.

What’s more, we are warmed by a sense of shared purpose, our spirits high, building and exploring relationships which are a model and a hope to us, in these dark warlike times, of peaceful futures. Parts of each day are dedicated to informal language exchanges, studying Pashto, Dari, and English. I know it’s a temporary experience, for me, but I feel intensely grateful for the chance to be part of this all-too unusual community. We make our own hope. It’s a cold world but the work to bring each other through it, itself is warming.

Hadley Freeman: My top 2012 prediction: the Republicans try to ban sex for women

In 2011 America’s right wing, and especially the Christian right wing, at last let slip what their problem is with contraception and abortion: it’s not squeamishness, morality or a fondness for hanging outside Planned Parenthood clinics toting misspelt placards – they just don’t like women having sex. At all. As Amanda Marcotte wrote this week, in 2011 the anti-choice movement “stopped trying so hard to manage mainstream perceptions of themselves as somehow just great lovers of fetal life, and are coming out with their anti-sex agenda”. This was borne out in their frankly unhinged attacks on Planned Parenthood, the HPV vaccine, insurance coverage of contraception and, as I discussed last week, the puritanical mood they created that encouraged President Obama to restrict access to Plan B, or the morning-after pill, none of which have much to do with abortion and everything to do with women’s temerity to have sex.

Thus, in 2012 the Republicans propose the female anti-sex bill, in which women are expressly forbidden from having sex with anyone other than the occasional lecherous politician who happens to hurl himself, bodily, sweatily, in her lucky, lucky path.

Dec 28 2011

Killing SOPA & PIPA

This is one of the few times that you will hear me advocate for the death penalty but we need to kill SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (Protect Intellectual Property Act). Our friend Gaius Publius at AMERICAblog has a list of companies, organization and wayward Democrats who have supported these Internet killing bills. There is still time for us to get the message to them that we are not pleased and what happened to Go-Daddy can happen to them.

I have already communicated to Sen Gillibrand that so long as she supports either bill, she would not be getting any contributions from me or my family members.

Here is GP’s list of companies:

   Estée Lauder Companies: (212) 572-4200

   Fraternal Order of Police (FOP)

   Go Daddy: (480) 505-8800

   International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW): (202) 833-7000

   International Brotherhood of Teamsters

   International Union of Police Associations

   L’Oreal: (212) 818-1500

   Major League Baseball

   Marvel Entertainment: (212) 576-4000

   MasterCard Worldwide: (800) 622-7747

   Minor League Baseball (MiLB)

   National Center for Victims of Crime

   National Crime Justice Association

   National District Attorneys Association: (703) 549-9222

   National Domestic Preparedness Coalition

   National Football League

   National Governors Association, Economic Development and Commerce Committee

   National League of Cities

   National Narcotics Offers’ Associations’ Coalition

   National Sheriffs’ Association (NSA)


   The United States Conference of Mayors: info@usmayors.org

   Tiffany & Co.

   A lot of these folks have IP “content” – the NFL, for example – but also fan vulnerability.

   And what about the unions (IBEW, Fraternal Order of Police)? Also, why do organizations like the Sheriff’s Association care about IP law? A little something extra in the retirement-fund Christmas basket? Or maybe groups like these just haven’t heard from the rest of us.

   Given who’s on this list, I’m kind of waiting for the Catholic Bishops to weigh in.

Also these are the so called “progressive” Democratic Senators who have a foolishly co-sponsored the bills:

   Sherrod Brown [OH] – (202) 224-2315

   Al Franken [D-MN] – (202) 224-5641

   Kirsten Gillibrand [D-NY] – (202) 224-4451

   Amy Klobuchar [D-MN] – (202) 224-3244

   Sheldon Whitehouse [D-RI] – (202) 224-2921

Pick a few of your favorites and send them a message. Be polite. 😉

Dec 28 2011

Kicking the Debt Ceiling Into 2013

While he is on vacation in Hawaii, President Barack Obama will ask Congress to raise the debt ceiling for the third and last time under the agreement that was negotiated last August. The increase, which is expected to be made by December 30, can only be stopped by passage of a “resolution of disapproval” which the President can veto. That isn’t likely since the last resolution was blocked by the Democrats in the Senate and since Congress in recess until the end of January, well past the 15 days Congress has to vote in the resolution of disapproval.

Pres. Obama is expected to ask for authority to increase the borrowing limit by $1.2 trillion which is within $100 billion of the current cap of $15.194 trillion. The motivation to request this raise now is mostly political and tied to the election next November, as noted by David Dayen at FDL:

In numbers that came out earlier this month, the deficit under current law for Fiscal Year 2012, ending September 30, is set to be right around $1 trillion. That doesn’t leave a lot of wiggle room for the White House to get to the next election without having to deal with the debt limit again, especially if new measures like the payroll tax go unfunded. [..]

That seems to be the motivating factor here. The White House simply does not want to go through another bruising debt limit fight again before the election. That places a limit on borrowing in the next fiscal year. It explains why the “fight” over the American Jobs Act wasn’t that major a fight, because passing all of the measures without paying for them immediately would require raising the debt limit again. And paying for them immediately would make the stimulative effect irrelevant. A couple of the measures, like the payroll tax and unemployment benefits, could conceivably pass while allowing the Treasury to squeeze past the elections under the debt limit. But the numbers are pretty close.

David Weigel at Slate points out, with some amusement, another reason to make the request now:

Both parties like to vote against debt limit hikes, when they can — makes for good TV ads. The problem this time is that they may never get a chance. The Washington Post‘s sharp congressional reporter Felicia Sonmez points out that Congress is actually out of town until January 17. [..]

Congress is still playing the unconstitutional game of pro forma sessions to prevent the president form making recess appointments. Technically, the resolution could be passed but it would have to be by unanimous consent and that is just not going to happen. So as Weigel notes unless some renegade congress critter demands a vote, even Congress keep from getting near the “burning wreckage” of this fight.

Dec 28 2011

On this Day In History December 28

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.

December 28 is the 362nd day of the year (363rd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are three days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1895, the first commercial movie is screened in Paris.

On this day in 1895, the world’s first commercial movie screening takes place at the Grand Cafe in Paris. The film was made by Louis and Auguste Lumiere, two French brothers who developed a camera-projector called the Cinematographe. The Lumiere brothers unveiled their invention to the public in March 1895 with a brief film showing workers leaving the Lumiere factory. On December 28, the entrepreneurial siblings screened a series of short scenes from everyday French life and charged admission for the first time.

Movie technology has its roots in the early 1830s, when Joseph Plateau of Belgium and Simon Stampfer of Austria simultaneously developed a device called the phenakistoscope, which incorporated a spinning disc with slots through which a series of drawings could be viewed, creating the effect of a single moving image. The phenakistoscope, considered the precursor of modern motion pictures, was followed by decades of advances and in 1890, Thomas Edison and his assistant William Dickson developed the first motion-picture camera, called the Kinetograph. The next year, 1891, Edison invented the Kinetoscope, a machine with a peephole viewer that allowed one person to watch a strip of film as it moved past a light.

In 1894, Antoine Lumiere, the father of Auguste (1862-1954) and Louis (1864-1948), saw a demonstration of Edison’s Kinetoscope. The elder Lumiere was impressed, but reportedly told his sons, who ran a successful photographic plate factory in Lyon, France, that they could come up with something better. Louis Lumiere’s Cinematographe, which was patented in 1895, was a combination movie camera and projector that could display moving images on a screen for an audience. The Cinematographe was also smaller, lighter and used less film than Edison’s technology

The Lumière brothers, Auguste Marie Louis Nicolas (19 October 1862, Besancon, France – 10 April 1954, Lyon) and Louis Jean (5 October 1864, Besancon, France – 6 June 1948, Bandol), were among the earliest filmmakers in history. (Appropriately, “lumière” translates as “light” in English.)

(In) 1862 and 1864, and moved to Lyon in 1870, where both attended La Martiniere, the largest technical school in Lyon. Their father, Claude-Antoine Lumière (1840-1911), ran a photographic firm and both brothers worked for him: Louis as a physicist and Auguste as a manager. Louis had made some improvements to the still-photograph process, the most notable being the dry-plate process, which was a major step towards moving images.

It was not until their father retired in 1892 that the brothers began to create moving pictures. They patented a number of significant processes leading up to their film camera Рmost notably film perforations (originally implemented by Emile Reynaud) as a means of advancing the film through the camera and projector. The cin̬matographe itself was patented on 13 February 1895 and the first footage ever to be recorded using it was recorded on March 19, 1895.

Their first public screening of films at which admission was charged was held on December 28, 1895, at Salon Indien du Grand Cafè in Paris. This history-making presentation featured ten short films, including their first film, Sortie des Usines Lumière a Lyon (Workers Leaving the Lumière Factory). Each film is 17 meters long, which, when hand cranked through a projector, runs approximately 50 seconds.

Dec 28 2011

David Brooks Speaks The Truth!

This goes beyond stopped clock into “Man Bites Dog” territory.

Midlife Crisis Economics

By DAVID BROOKS, The New York Times

Published: December 26, 2011

The United States spends far more on education than any other nation, with paltry results. It spends far more on health care, again, with paltry results. It spends so much on poverty programs that if we just took that money and handed poor people checks, we would virtually eliminate poverty overnight.

So, uhh…, why don’t we do that?