08/02/2012 archive


When Gridlock Works: Cybersecurity Bill Stuffed, For Now

By: David Dayen, Firedog Lake

Thursday August 2, 2012 11:06 am

The Senate, unable to come up with a schedule for amendments, blocked the cybersecurity bill today in an outcome that, despite being a result of Republican obstruction, satisfied Internet activists who had been urging a no vote.

He (Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid) decried the fact that meetings continued on amendments without a deal, and that the Chamber of Commerce, which opposes the legislation because they feel it still puts too many demands on business groups to maintain standards for resisting cyber attacks on public infrastructure, was driving the process. Lawmakers took out the mandatory standard prescriptions on businesses, but the Chamber of Commerce still finds the bill too stringent. “Republicans are running like scared cats” on the legislation, Reid said. “The Chamber of Commerce has now become the protector of our nation’s security.”

But if the Chamber is forcing Republicans to “run scared,” privacy groups and experts are running from the bill as well. Though they did get improvements from the truly awful CISPA bill that passed the House, most activist groups on the left paying attention to the bill still oppose it. The activist group Demand Progress generated 500,000 contacts to Congress opposing the bill, and the coalition Fight for the Future has been rallying against the bill as well.

The best hope for stopping these breaches of privacy for coming into being is to kill a cybersecurity bill that many experts have doubted is necessary, especially without the mandatory standards. Sometimes gridlock is a friend.

As with Keystone XL, Social Security, and Medicare/aid this is likely a temporary victory.  Versailles is convinced the proles have too much and want to take it away.  The solution is to fire them.


Remember in November.

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

Gail Collins: For God, Texas and Golf

Texas Republicans have just nominated a Senate candidate who is promising to protect America’s golf courses from the United Nations.

This is not actually the most important point about Ted Cruz, the Tea Party favorite who scored a dramatic upset victory over the state’s lieutenant governor on Tuesday. But we don’t really need to go over his basic agenda because you can pretty much guess it. (Hint: cutspendingshrinkgovernmentrepealObamacare.) Also, he memorized the Constitution in high school. And he wants to abolish the Internal Revenue Service.

But about golf: In a blog posting early this year, Cruz vowed that as senator he would fight against “a dangerous United Nations plan” on environmental sustainability that he said was aimed at abolishing “golf courses, grazing pastures and paved roads.” He blamed all this on the Democratic financier-philanthropist George Soros.

Gore Vidal: We Are the Patriots

The following essay appeared in the June 2, 2003 edition of The Nation magazine, and we reprint it today following news that Gore Vidal died yesterday at the age of 86.

I belong to a minority that is now one of the smallest in the country and, with every day, grows smaller. I am a veteran of World War II. And I can recall thinking, when I got out of the Army in 1946, Well, that’s that. We won. And those who come after us will never need do this again. Then came the two mad wars of imperial vanity–Korea and Vietnam. They were bitter for us, not to mention for the so-called enemy. Next we were enrolled in a perpetual war against what seemed to be the enemy-of-the-month club. This war kept major revenues going to military procurement and secret police, while withholding money from us, the taxpayers, with our petty concerns for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

But no matter how corrupt our system became over the last century–and I lived through three-quarters of it–we still held on to the Constitution and, above all, to the Bill of Rights. No matter how bad things got, I never once believed that I would see a great part of the nation–of we the people, unconsulted and unrepresented in a matter of war and peace–demonstrating in such numbers against an arbitrary and secret government, preparing and conducting wars for us, or at least for an army recruited from the unemployed to fight in. Sensibly, they now leave much of the fighting to the uneducated, to the excluded.

Matt Stoller: Obama’s Second Term Agenda: Cutting Social Security, Medicare, and/or Medicaid

This is probably the least important Presidential election since the 1950s. As an experienced political hand told me, the two candidates are speaking not to the voters, but to the big money. They hold the same views, pursue the same policies, and are backed by similar interests. Mitt Romney implemented Obamacare in Massachusetts, or Obama implemented Romneycare nationally. Both are pro-choice or anti-choice as political needs change, both tend to be hawkish on foreign policy, both favor tax cuts for businesses, and both believe deeply in a corrupt technocratic establishment.

So while the election lumbers on like the death rattles of the wounded animal known American democracy, no one on either side is asking what the plan is for the next term. For Obama, his team is going into rooms of donors and shouting “Supreme Court”, while mumbling something about bipartisanship and $4 trillion, or Simpson-Bowles. What this means is that term two of the Obama White House will be organized around cutting entitlements.

Glen Ford: Romney and the “Culture” of White Supremacy

“For the Mormon American multimillionaire, human destiny and divine will are revealed in macroeconomic data.” But Mitt Romney’s assertion that Palestinian underdevelopment is proof of Israeli cultural superiority is no more racist than the usual celebrations of western wealth, power and so-called “civilization.” In the U.S., most whites view economic disparities between races “as more a natural phenomenon than evidence of cumulative injustice.”

White supremacy is Mitt Romney’s religion, although I’d be willing to bet he has not uttered the epithet “nigger” since reaching adulthood. For Romney and his ilk, it is axiomatic that God’s blessings are manifest in the world through the distribution of wealth. Had God not favored Europeans, He would never have allowed them to expropriate the vast bulk of the Earth’s bounty. They have prospered because their ways are righteous – or, in more modern, secular terms, they possess a superior “culture.”

Jim Hightower: A Wall Street Devil Gets Religion … and an Apt Epitaph

Hallelujah and Holy Smokes! Wall Street has had a “come to Jesus” moment – the biggest sinner on the Street has repented!

He is Sandy Weill, the once-lionized dealmaker who turned our banks into financial “supermarkets” that tie us everyday depositors and Main Street borrowers to the profiteering schemes of unbridled Wall Street traders and the whims of global speculators. Thanks, Sandy – for nothing.

Beginning in the late 1980s, Weill went on a decade-long merger binge, taking over Travelers Insurance, Smith Barney, Aetna, Solomon Brothers and other powerhouses of high finance, culminating in 1998 with his grabbing of Citibank. The whole empire was named Citigroup, Weill was paid a king’s ransom, and his conglomerated entity was widely hailed as a work of genius. Only one problem: It was illegal.

George Zornick: It’s Time for Obama to Fire DeMarco-Will He?

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac won’t reduce the principal of underwater homeowners-FHFA head Edward DeMarco made that official yesterday. Despite the fact that FHFA analysts concluded this week that forgiving certain mortgage debts could save public money, DeMarco said yesterday he would not allow it because of the “costs and risks”-he is particularly concerned that people might strategically default to qualify for help. [..]

Progressives have been pushing hard on the White House to replace DeMarco-and now that DeMarco has dug himself in, why not do that, especially now that he has gone through the motions of considering and then denying write-downs.

Many progressive critics of the administration correctly note that for years, the administration opposed principal reduction too, and has only recently come around to it. So was that a true policy evolution, or political theatre in an election year? Forcing in an FHFA chief who will do principal reduction-or failing to install that person-would go a long way to answering that question.

A 2012 Victory Won’t Bring Back the Economy: Only a Private Debt Jubilee

Cross posted in Orange and at Voices on the Square

Yes, this is true. It’s not a popular saying, but I’m not here to make everyone feel good for 2012 electioneering while people are suffering to feel a sense of belonging among the Washington elite prognosticating over poll numbers instead of real issues. As we have this debate over 4 percentage points in the tax code, the overall omission of most Americans suffering from the fallout of the housing bubble is insulting.

That’s right. This debate ignores the big elephant in the room; the millions of people underwater defrauded into mortgage debt and other private debt chaining them to their deflating assets with no sufficient income prospects added up and compounded in a usurious fashion sucking demand out of the economy. For those that do not “got theirs jack” and can’t afford cable news to cheer along with this partisan war syndrome dynamic, this actually matters.

It matters because as I have chronicled here, here, here, and here, the Foreclosure Fraud Settlement was an insult to the millions injured from the fallout of this bubble once NY AG was bought off to prop it up with stilts. Banks were given credit for the HAMP mods in addition to being propped up by the other failed HARP program. Basically those that defended that settlement or any of these programs anymore have to admit now they knew nothing.

For want or need of a nice election tune, many are tuning in to this election while too many are tuning out these debilitating economic problems because the absolute failure to deal with them at all. I partially understand, it is daunting and demoralizing, but whether one wants to tune in to these problems or not, the song remains the same.

It’s the song of the decade and it goes well beyond this election.  

On This Day In History August 2

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.

Click on images to enlarge

August 2 is the 214th day of the year (215th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 151 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1776, members of Congress affix their signatures to an enlarged copy of the Declaration of Independence.

Fifty-six congressional delegates in total signed the document, including some who were not present at the vote approving the declaration. The delegates signed by state from North to South, beginning with Josiah Bartlett of New Hampshire and ending with George Walton of Georgia. John Dickinson of Pennsylvania and James Duane, Robert Livingston and John Jay of New York refused to sign. Carter Braxton of Virginia; Robert Morris of Pennsylvania; George Reed of Delaware; and Edward Rutledge of South Carolina opposed the document but signed in order to give the impression of a unanimous Congress. Five delegates were absent: Generals George Washington, John Sullivan, James Clinton and Christopher Gadsden and Virginia Governor Patrick Henry.

The United States Declaration of Independence is a statement adopted by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776, which announced that the thirteen American colonies then at war with Great Britain were now independent states, and thus no longer a part of the British Empire. Written primarily by Thomas Jefferson, the Declaration is a formal explanation of why Congress had voted on July 2 to declare independence from Great Britain, more than a year after the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War. The birthday of the United States of America-Independence Day-is celebrated on July 4, the day the wording of the Declaration was approved by Congress.

The Declaration justified the independence of the United States by listing colonial grievances against King George III, and by asserting certain natural rights, including a right of revolution. Having served its original purpose in announcing independence, the text of the Declaration was initially ignored after the American Revolution. Its stature grew over the years, particularly the second sentence, a sweeping statement of individual human rights:

   We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

This sentence has been called “one of the best-known sentences in the English language” and “the most potent and consequential words in American history”.

After finalizing the text on July 4, Congress issued the Declaration of Independence in several forms. It was initially published as a printed broadside that was widely distributed and read to the public. The most famous version of the Declaration, a signed copy that is usually regarded as the Declaration of Independence, is on display at the National Archives in Washington, D.C. Although the wording of the Declaration was approved on July 4, the date of its signing has been disputed. Most historians have concluded that it was signed nearly a month after its adoption, on August 2, 1776, and not on July 4 as is commonly believed. The sources and interpretation of the Declaration have been the subject of much scholarly inquiry.

The famous wording of the Declaration has often been invoked to protect the rights of individuals and marginalized groups, and has come to represent for many people a moral standard for which the United States should strive. This view was greatly influenced by Abraham Lincoln, who considered the Declaration to be the foundation of his political philosophy, and who promoted the idea that the Declaration is a statement of principles through which the United States Constitution should be interpreted.

XXX Olympiad- Day 9

Broadcast Schedule

Time Network Sport Competitors
7 am Bravo Tennis (Singles and Mixed Doubles Quarterfinals, Singles Semifinals) all
7 am Vs. Men’s Volleyball SRB v GER
8:30 am MS Men’s Beach Volleyball BRZ v ITA
9 am MS Men’s Water Polo MNE v SRB
9:30 am Vs. Women’s Field Hockey CHN v NED
10 am NBC Swimming (Men’s 100m Fly, 50m Free, Women’s 200m Back, 800m Free) all
10 am NBC Canoe/Kayak (Men’s Whitewater C-2) (Medal) all
10 am MS Men’s Water Polo ROU v HUN
10:30 am Vs. Women’s Beach Volleyball GBR v RUS
10:30 am NBC Swimming (4 events) all
11:30 am NBC Women’s Beach Volleyball USA v ESP
11:30 am Vs. Men’s Basketball BRA v RUS
11:30 am MS Men’s Volleyball POL v ARG
12:30 pm NBC Swimming (4 events) all
12:30 pm NBC Cycling (Medal) all
1 pm NBC Men’s Water Polo USA v GBR
1:30 pm Vs. Table Tennis (Men’s Semifinals)
1:30 pm MS Equestrian (Team Dressage! (day 1 of 2)) all
2 pm NBC Rowing (Women’s 8, Men’s Light 4 (Medal), Women’s Single and Light Double Sculls, Men’s 4 and Light 4 Semifinals) all
2 pm Vs. Archery (Women’s) all
2:30 pm MS Men’s Handball SRB v DEN
3 pm NBC Men’s Volleyball USA v BRA
3 pm Vs. Boxing (Round of 16 Light, Middleweight) all
4 pm MS Badminton (Semifinals) all
4:30 pm MS Judo (Medal) all
4:30 pm MS Shooting (Medal) all
5 pm MS Men’s Handball SWE v ISL
5 pm CNBC Boxing (Round of 16 Light, Middleweight) all
5 pm Vs. Men’s Basketball USA v NGR
7 pm Vs. Olympics TBA
8 pm NBC Prime Time (Women’s Gymnastics All-Around, Swimming Men’s 200m IM (Medals), Men’s Beach Volleyball) USA
12:30 am NBC Late Night (Women’s Whitewater K-1, Table Tennis Men’s Singles (Medals)) all
1:30 am NBC Prime Time repeat
3 am CNBC Boxing repeat
4 am Vs. Beach Volleyball elimination
5 am Vs. Women’s Volleyball BRA v CHN

All this is sourced through the NBC Olympics broadcast schedule.  Competition starts again at 6 am tomorrow.  

Competitions designated by (Medal) will award winners that day.  ‘all’ means not specified.  Sometimes NBC especially does mashups and doesn’t include event or competitor information.  Elimination means no round robin, one and done.

These schedules are a place for you to make sure you don’t miss a sport you like and share your observations.  Have fun today!

The joys of obscure Olympic sports

By Mike Downey, Special to CNN

updated 11:47 AM EDT, Wed August 1, 2012

“Wait a minute. Didn’t you GO to Olympic women’s judo once?” Yes, indeed I did. Barcelona, 1992.

I saw a point go on the scoreboard under the word “koka.” It was my first time seeing an ippon go up on a koka. I was enjoying my first judo. I wasn’t yet ready for the National Judo League to put Monday Night Judo on TV, but I was having a good time.

I got a kick out of watching them fight. I looked up that day’s judo results later on a computer and found the following: 19 ippons, 13 waza-aris, 22 yukos, 35 kokas, 13 shidos, three chuis, two keikokus and no hansoku-makes.

Don’t you hate it when you watch judo all day without seeing a single hansoku-make?

My Little Town 20120801: The Gang

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.

My maternal grandmum married John Mackey, a really nice man who had been a doughboy during World War I.  She had been widowed for many years (my grandfather died years before I was born) and John had been married briefly decades before, so he was essentially a bachelor.

John had a little candy store on Main Street in Hackett where he sold candy, cold soft drinks, flashlight batteries, and sundries.  He never made any money with the store because he gave so much stuff away to kids (like me).  He lived in the back of the store until he married my grandmum.  He had a little pension for serving in World War I and also a black lung pension for being a coal miner for years.

The store was the gathering place for the old men in town.  He had an awning over the storefront and several benches and chairs under it.  He also had chairs and tables inside for winter and he had a pot bellied coal stove in the store.  At the time coal was readily available for the consumer market in Hackett.

Full Moon, Blue Moon, Lughnasadh

August is here and tonight we a graced with the first of two full moons and the first harvest festival of the Wiccan year, Lughnasadh.

August 31 will be the last Blue Moon, the second full moon in a single month, until July 2015. A “blue moon’ occurs approximately every 2.7 years. On rare occasions, as in 1999, it happens twice. Joe Rao at Space.com explains the term “blue moon” its origins and some interesting astronomical lunar trivia:

Blue Moon The phrase “once in a blue moon” was first noted in 1824 and refers to occurrences that are uncommon, though not truly rare. Yet, to have two full moons in the same month is not as uncommon as one might think. In fact, it occurs, on average, about every 2.66 years. And in the year 1999, it occurred twice in a span of just three months.

For the longest time no one seemed to have a clue as to where the “blue moon rule” originated.

It was not until that “double blue moon year” of 1999 that the origin of the calendrical term “blue moon” was at long last discovered. It was during the time frame from 1932 through 1957 that the Maine Farmers’ Almanac suggested that if one of the four seasons (winter, spring, summer or fall) contained four full moons instead of the usual three, that the third full moon should be called a blue moon.

But thanks to a couple of misinterpretations of this cryptic definition, first by a writer in a 1946 issue of Sky & Telescope magazine, and much later, in 1980 in a syndicated radio program, it now appears that the second full moon in a month is the one that’s now popularly accepted as the definition of a blue moon.

Blue Moon/New Moon

While we’ve assigned the name blue moon to the second full moon of the month, it seems that we have no such name for the second new moon of the month. Nonetheless, these opposing phases seem to be connected with each other. For if two new moons occur within a specific month, then in most cases, four years later, two full moons will also occur in that very same month.

Tonight the moon becomes full at 11:27 PM EDT and st 9:58 AM on August 31. The moons also have names that originated from our Native American brothers and sisters:

Aug. 1, Full Sturgeon Moon, when this large fish of the Great Lakes and other major bodies of water, such as Lake Champlain, is most readily caught. A few tribes knew this moon as the Full Red Moon because when the moon rises, it appears reddish through sultry haze (in 2012, The Old Farmer’s Almanac gives this moniker to the full moon of Aug. 31). Other variations include the Green Corn Moon or Grain Moon.

Aug. 31, Full Corn Moon.  Sometimes also called the Fruit Moon; such monikers were used for a full moon that occurs during the first week of September, so as to keep the Harvest Moon from coming too early in the calendar.

LughnasadhThe first two days of August are also the Wiccan holiday of Lughnasadh,or Lammas, the first of three harvest festivals celebrating the bounties of Mother Earth. The name is derived from the Irish god, Lugh, who dedicated the festival to his foster mother who died clearing a forest for planting. It marks the beginning of the harvest when apples are ripe, wheat and corn are ready to harvest. Herbs and flowers are ready to be picked and dried and fruit are prepared for preserving, seeds are gathered for Spring planting. To celebrate, a fire is lit and the table is spread with the bounties of the harvest and decorated with seasonal flowers. The first wines and beers are placed in pitchers and dinner is grilled meat and vegetables from the garden seasoned with fresh herbs.

It’s raining here tonight, so our celebration will be postponed until tomorrow night. We are hoping for a glimpse of the moon as the storms move out of the area tonight.