07/19/2012 archive

“You People” Don’t Need to Know

Mitt Romney made his wealth an issue of the campaign when he touted his business acumen as head of Bain Capital where he made most of his fortune. Romney has already said that he will not release anymore returns than his 2010 tax return and an estimate for 2011. In a lame defense of this refusal, Romney has said that, “I pay all the taxes that are legally required, not a dollar more,” claiming that the problem is not him but the tax laws. But you know you have problems when you have neo-conservatives like Bill Kristol and George Will along with 18 other prominent Republicans, telling you to release the returns. Nope, Mitt is sticking with his story and sent the missus out to put her foot in her mouth down:

Mitt Romney’s wife is reinforcing her husband’s refusal to make public several years of tax returns, saying “we’ve given all you people need to know” about the family’s finances.

“You people”? A bit condescending there, Annie.

Mitt made this an issue as Eugene Robinson notes that it just makes it all that much more suspicious:

Mitt Romney has every right to cloak his personal and professional finances in secrecy-and voters have every right to assume he has something embarrassing to hide. If this seems unfair, Romney has only himself to blame. [..]

Romney has spent the better part of a decade running for president. Did it never occur to him that if he ever won the Republican nomination, surely there would come a time when he was under pressure to release multiple years’ worth of tax returns? Did he think everyone would forget that it was his own father, George Romney, who set the modern standard for financial disclosure? Did he not recall that when he was being considered for the vice presidential nod four years ago, he furnished tax returns spanning more than two decades to the John McCain campaign?

Clearly he knew the subject would come up. The only reasonable conclusion to draw is that Romney believes that while stonewalling on his taxes may cost him some support, releasing them would cost him more.

Jon Stewart added his analysis of “The Romney Returns”

Open Thread: 1960’s-1970’s Rock-n-Roll Music; The 5th Dimension:

Every so often, I think about and listen to my favorite oldies (1960’s-early/mid-1970’s) rock-n-roll music, which tends to promote a nostalgia for the days when things were crazy, yes, but not as crazy as they are now, and the music (as well as a lot of the movies) back then reflected a certain exuberance that existed in that particular era, which didn’t constantly borderline frenzy, or cross over into frenzy, at least not to the extent that it all too often does during the course of these days.  

Of course, however,  as some people will put it, the good old days weren’t always good.  Along with the good back in the 1960’s and early to mid 1970’s, a lot of bad happened as well, which, unfortunately, contributed a great deal to the United States’ slide to the extreme Right, something that had been waiting in the wings all along.    A strong streak of anti-intellectualism has always permeated the Unites States society and culture, from Day One,  and it has manifested itself in many bizarre or nasty ways, especially starting in the early to mid 1950’s, with the McCarthy Era.  

There are a number of people who claim, both rightly and wrongly, that the United States is sliding into somewhat of a police state, an authoritarian state,  or an outright Fascist state.  Sadly, if one really looks at the history of the United States, the trappings for such a state as what’s mentioned above, have been there since day one, from the old, old Salem Witchhunts to the McCarthy period, and even beyond that, where demonstrators, even peaceful ones (which most of them were), have all too often been roughed  up in the streets by the police, arrested, and even jailed for no good reasons.  It happened during the Civil Rights Movement, our Viet Nam War, the time of our 2nd Iraq war, and it’s happening even now, under this present Administration in Washington.  

Anyway, thought, back to the subject at hand:  I thought I’d write a little bit about a certain rock group that I liked a great deal…and still do;  The 5th Dimension.  I had the good fortune to see them several years ago, in concert, at the Charles River Esplanade here in Boston, as part of the now-defunct summer WODS (103.3 FM) radio (the oldies station), and they were quite good.  Unfortunately, for some strange reason, those concerts are not being done anymore, which is a shame, because they had some really great groups performing on the Esplanade for free, which attracted thousands of people.  I do  miss those days, but what can I do?  I have tons of CD’s of my favorite rock groups from those days, which I listen to a great deal.  I guess I’m somewhat old fashioned at heart, but that’s okay.  

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”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

Mark Bittman: The Endless Summer

Here’s what American exceptionalism means now: on a per-capita basis, we either lead or come close to leading the world in consumption of resources, production of pollutants and a profound unwillingness to do anything about it. We may look back upon this year as the one in which climate change began to wreak serious havoc, yet we hear almost no conversation about changing policy or behavior. President Obama has done nicely in raising fuel averages for automobiles, but he came into office promising much more, and Mitt Romney promises even less. (There was a time he supported cap and trade.) [..]

The climate has changed, and the only remaining questions may well be: a) how bad will things get, and b) how long will it be before we wake up to it. The only sane people who don’t see this as a problem are those whose profitability depends on the status quo, people of money and power like Romney (“we don’t know what’s causing climate change“), most of his party, and Rex Tillerson, the Exxon chairman, who called the effects of climate change “manageable.”

Robert Greenwald and John Amick: Military Industry Descends on Capitol Hill to Fight for Their Perceived Right to Profit

You know it’s a big moment for defenders of the United States’ bloated military budget when some of the all-time superstars of the Military-Industrial-Congressional Complex descend on Capitol Hill to fight for their perceived right to profit.

The U.S. House of Representatives is scheduled to address the 2013 Defense Appropriations bill beginning Wednesday, which will go a long way in framing the later debate on automatic cuts to defense set to happen on January 2, 2013. The “sequester” was set into law – via the Budget Control Act – last year in an effort to compel Congress to reach a deficit-reduction plan. The automatic cuts would take the Pentagon’s requested FY 2013 budget of $526 billion to $469 billion, reducing Department of Defense spending by around $1 trillion over the next decade. The Congressional Budget Office says that amount is “larger than it was in 2006 (in 2013 dollars) and larger than the average base budget during the 1980s.” If you recall, 2006 wasn’t such a bad year to be a defense contractor.

Paul Krugman: Mitt Romney: Not Exactly a Captain of Industry

It appears that the Obama campaign has decided to ignore the queasiness of Democrats who have Wall Street ties and go after Mitt Romney’s record at Bain Capital. And rightly so!

After all, what is Mr. Romney’s case – that is, why does he want us to think he should be president? It’s not about ideology: Mr. Romney offers nothing but warmed-over right-wing platitudes with an extra helping of fraudulent arithmetic and it’s fairly obvious that even he himself doesn’t believe anything he’s saying.

Instead, his thing is competence: Supposedly, his record as a successful businessman should tell us that he knows how to create jobs. And this in turn means that we have every right to ask exactly what kind of businessman he was.

Michelle Chen: Hating in Athens

Douglas Kesse, a Ghanaian asylum seeker who recently landed in Greece, was bewildered by how he was received in the cradle of Western Civilization. Reflecting on the epidemic of anti-immigrant attacks, he told human rights investigators, “As human beings, we shouldn’t be treated like this…. I am not an animal to be chased with sticks.”

When anti-immigrant violence flares up in our communities, it may seem irrational, crazy, sometimes outright barbaric. But there’s one universal rule that holds true around the world: xenophobic riots, purges, and state crackdowns throughout history have hewed to a chilling logic; people respond to real threats-primarily economic instability or social upheaval-by lashing out at make-believe threats-like the neighbor who came from Mexico to build your other neighbor’s house. This is hardly unique to the U.S.: the anti-immigrant hatred that has erupted across Europe is actually a chilling parallel to the bigotry exhibited toward immigrants in places like Arizona. And in a place like Greece, where economic crisis is tearing society apart, it’s open season for xenophobia.

Robert Naiman: It’s a Great Day to Act to Cut the Pentagon Budget

Until now, the GOP leadership position has been that cuts in military spending are off the table.

Until now, the Democratic leadership position has been more murky. The Democratic leadership – and the big Democratic constituency groups – have emphasized the need for revenue increases. But no one thinks the final deal is going to meet deficit reduction targets with revenue increases alone. That means that there are still going to be cuts, and those cuts are going to be cuts in military spending, or they are going to be cuts in domestic spending. Every dollar that isn’t cut from the military budget is going to be cut from the domestic budget.

So, you might think that Democratic leaders and the big Democratic constituency groups – who don’t want to cut the domestic budget – would be very vocal right now about the need to cut the military budget.

Eugene Robinson: Problem of His Own Making

Mitt Romney has every right to cloak his personal and professional finances in secrecy — and voters have every right to assume he has something embarrassing to hide. If this seems unfair, Romney has only himself to blame.

Through a series of miscalculations, Romney has managed to turn what should have been a minor hiccup into what may be a defining moment, and not in a good way. Attacks by President Obama’s campaign serve mainly to draw attention to the train wreck.

On the Sunday morning talk shows, even Republicans urged Romney to release more tax returns while wondering what secrets he’s trying to keep. And the campaign’s latest attempt to explain how and when Romney left Bain Capital — he’s supposed to have “retired retroactively” at some unspecified date — became an instant punch line.

If Romney really does have the power to bend time and space, he might want to retroactively clean up the mess he’s made.

LIBOR: There Will Be No Prosecutions

LIBOR If you think for that the Justice Department in this administration is going to prosecute or regulate any of the people who were involved in the LIBOR scandal, erase that thought. Regardless of any evidence the government may have now or in the future that would send the average trader to prison for life, the main goal for Attorney General Eric Holder is to protect the banksters from prosecution. There was no reason to give immunity

from prosecution of the Commodities Exchange Act. Since the government already had the e-mails, they had enough to issue subpoenas and arrest warrants. Instead, Holder’s office gave them immunity from prosecution:

A crucial element in any prosecution is criminal intent, and it’s plain from the Barclays e-mails that various participants knew that what they were doing was wrong. As one Barclays trader put it in e-mails to traders at other banks, “don’t talk about it too much,” “don’t make any noise about it please” and “this can backfire against us.”

Faced with what would seem to be an open-and-shut case, how did the Justice Department proceed? Barclays entered into a nonprosecution agreement in which the United States government agreed not to prosecute Barclays as long as it met its other obligations under the agreement, including continued cooperation in what the government said was an investigation still under way. Barclays also received a conditional grant of immunity from the antitrust division. [..]

The United States government “had the smoking guns,” Professor (John C.) Coffee said, and “it could have demanded its price from Barclays,” including a guilty plea to a crime. At the same time, the agreement “isn’t surprising,” he said. “The Department of Justice has done this in almost every major case since the collapse of Arthur Andersen.” (Andersen was the accounting firm indicted after the collapse of Enron.)

Glen Ford nails precisely why there will be no prosecutions, since the ultimate aim is “protecting the banks from the consequences of their crimes:”

“The reason Eric Holder is staging criminal investigations is because that’s the only way he can protect the bankers, through immunities and by gradually narrowing the scope of the case.”

The Obama Justice Department is in theater mode, again, pretending to threaten the bankster class with criminal penalties – prison time! – for their manipulation of the global economy’s benchmark interest rates. The Justice Department claims to be building criminal and civil cases in the LIBOR scandal, which in sheer scope is the biggest fraud by international capital in history. But that’s all a front, a farce. Barack Obama has spent his entire presidency protecting Wall Street, starting with his rescue of George Bush’s bank bailout bill after it’s initial defeat in Congress, in the last days of Obama’s candidacy. He packed his administration with banksters, passed his own bailout and, in collaboration with the Federal Reserve, channeled at least $16 trillion dollars into the accounts of U.S. and even European banks – by far the greatest transfer of capital in the history of the world. Obama has reminded the banksters that it was he who saved them from the “pitchforks” of an outraged public. He pushed through Congress so-called financial reform legislation that left derivatives – the deadly instruments of mass financial destruction that were at the heart of the meltdown – untouched. [..]

Now Obama and Holder are playing the same diversionary game, making tough noises about criminal investigations of the LIBOR conspirators. But the Justice Department has already given immunity to Barclay’s Bank, of Britain, and to the Swiss banking giant UBS. More immunities will follow. The reason Eric Holder is staging criminal investigations is because that’s the only way he can protect the bankers, through immunities and by gradually narrowing the scope of the case. In the end, there will be settlements all around, and the banksters will move on to even more fantastic heights of criminality – thanks to the loyal, protective hands of President Obama.

Prosecutions? Don’t hold you breath.

On This Day In History July 19

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.

July 19 is the 200th day of the year (201st in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 165 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1848, a two-day Women’s Rights Convention opens in Seneca Falls, New York. There the “Bloomers” are introduced.

The Seneca Falls Convention was an early and influential women’s rights convention held in Seneca Falls, New York, July 19-20, 1848. It was organized by local New York women upon the occasion of a visit by Boston-based Lucretia Mott, a Quaker famous for her speaking ability, a skill rarely cultivated by American women at the time. The local women, primarily members of a radical Quaker group, organized the meeting along with Elizabeth Cady Stanton, a skeptical non-Quaker who followed logic more than religion.

The meeting spanned two days and six sessions, and included a lecture on law, a humorous presentation, and multiple discussions about the role of women in society. Stanton and the Quaker women presented two prepared documents, the Declaration of Sentiments and an accompanying list of resolutions, to be debated and modified before being put forward for signatures. A heated debate sprang up regarding women’s right to vote, with many including Mott urging the removal of this concept, but Frederick Douglass argued eloquently for its inclusion, and the suffrage resolution was retained. Exactly 100 of approximately 300 attendees signed the document, mostly women.

The convention was seen by some of its contemporaries, including featured speaker Mott, as but a single step in the continuing effort by women to gain for themselves a greater proportion of social, civil and moral rights, but it was viewed by others as a revolutionary beginning to the struggle by women for complete equality with men. Afterward, Stanton presented the resulting Declaration of Sentiments as a foundational document in the American woman’s suffrage movement, and she promoted the event as the first time that women and men gathered together to demand the right for women to vote. Stanton’s authoring of the History of Woman Suffrage helped to establish the Seneca Falls Convention as the moment when the push for women’s suffrage first gained national prominence. By 1851, at the second National Women’s Rights Convention in Worcester, Massachusetts, the issue of women’s right to vote had become a central tenet of the women’s rights movement.

2012 Le Tour – Stage 17

Bagnères-de-Luchon / Peyragudes (89 miles)

Le.  Tour.  De.  France.

Here’s an article alleging that one goal this year was to use the course setup to encourage competition.

Unprecedented climbs, with record-setting steep slopes, and sprint stages that ended in surprising uphill drags, were among the novelties planners threw into the mix with the hope of boosting the suspense factor in the 99th Tour de France.

Yellow jersey holder Bradley Wiggins and his Team Sky have so dominated the Tour that the race’s top 10 has been all but set for the last six stages.

Now if you ask me we spent entirely too much time Sprinting the first week and the Mountain stages, while having severe climbs, were too short with not enough climbs and not enough days doing them.  Individual Time Trials are a pox!  I admit that all this dominance seems quite nice when your side is on top, but having Red Bull win every week is not good for business.

Today are the last hills with an uncategorized climb, two category 1s, a category 2, and a category 3.  The Award point is after the initial 1, 2, 3 climbs.  Tomorrow is Plains, Saturday the Time Trial, and Sunday the Champs.  Formula One at Hockenheim Saturday and Sunday.  Olympics Wednesday.

Yesterday’s winner was Thomas Voeckler (five or six stage wins for France) followed by Chris Anker Sorensen, and Gorka Izaguirre Insausti.  Evans is now in 7th, over 8 minutes back.

General Classification

Place Rider Team Time/Delta
2 FROOME Christopher SKY PROCYCLING +02:05

Coverage is customarily on Vs. (NBC Sports) starting at 7:30 am with repeats at noon, 2:30 pm, 8 pm, and midnight.  There will be some streaming evidently, but not all of it is free.

Sites of Interest-

The Stars Hollow Gazette Tags-

Rip Hunter

Gonzo journalism. If anyone personified it it was Hunter Thompson, he liked guns, rock and roll, drugs and honesty. Heh. 75 laying in the grave and laughing his ass off at all of us above the dirt.

You want to understand Gonzo go here and find something to post. I actually am impressed by that because any mention of the man is locked down at least it is from my computer.


Buy the ticket, take the ride.

I feel the same way about disco as I do about herpes.

In a closed society where everybody’s guilty, the only crime is getting caught. In a world of thieves, the only final sin is stupidity.

The Edge… there is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over.

When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.

You better take care of me Lord, if you don’t you’re gonna have me on your hands.


Rip Hunter Rip

My Little Town 20120718: Mathematics Made Hard and Easy

Those of you that read this regular series know that I am from Hackett, Arkansas, just a mile or so from the Oklahoma border, and just about 10 miles south of the Arkansas River.  It was a rural sort of place that did not particularly appreciate education, and just zoom onto my previous posts to understand a bit about it.

When I was in school I had the good fortune to have a great many excellent teachers.  I even keep up with some of my high school teachers, and I was graduated in 1973.  Sr. Cabrini correspond on Facebook, and Sr. Pierre calls me from time to time.  They were both excellent and I glad to call them my friends.

On the other hand, I have had some really horrible ones.  One who has to be near the top of the list was Bill Holder, a mathematics teacher that I had at Westark Community College in Fort Smith.  That is now part of the University of Arkansas system, The University of Arkansas at Fort Smith.