Daily Archive: 08/30/2012

Aug 30 2012

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

New York Times Editorial: The Vacuum Behind the Slogans

The party that claims to have all the answers on Medicare seemed to have no interest in sharing them with the American people at its convention on Wednesday. The session, devoted to the theme of “We Can Change It,” never went any deeper than that slogan or a few others: Reform Medicare. Strengthen Medicare. Protect Medicare.

All without the slightest hint of how that supposed reform or strengthening would take place, regarding that program and many others. “We will not duck the tough issues; we will lead,” said Representative Paul Ryan, in his speech accepting the vice-presidential nomination. “We will not spend four years blaming others; we will take responsibility.”

Sounds great, except that the speech ducked the tough issues and blamed others for the problems.

Mo Rocca: ‘The Right to Vote’

Pop quiz. Which of the following countries does not guarantee its citizens the right to vote? Is it:

(A) Iran

(B) Libya

(C) The United States

(D) All of the above.

If you guessed “all of the above,” you’re right. Yes, the United States is one of only a handful of nations whose constitution does not explicitly provide the right to vote. (Singapore is another, but it doesn’t even allow you to chew gum on the street.)

I imagine you’re surprised. I know I was. Think of all that hard work our founding fathers put in – the revolutionizing, the three-fifths compromising, having to write the entire Constitution with a quill – and yet they neglected to include the right to vote. (I know, it was a long, hot summer. Hard to stay focused.) It got me thinking: What else don’t I know about voting in our country? How does voting really work – or sometimes not work – in America?

Bernie Sanders: Deficit Hawk Hypocrites

Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan and the Republican Party are now mounting a massive attack against Social Security and other programs. Using “deficit reduction” as their rationale, they are attempting to dismantle every major piece of legislation passed since the 1930s that provides support and security to working families.

They are being aided by at least 23 billionaire families, led by the Koch brothers and Sheldon Adelson, who are spending hundreds of millions of dollars in this campaign as a result of the disastrous Citizens United Supreme Court decision. Despite paying the lowest effective tax rate in decades, the billionaires want more tax breaks for the very rich. Despite the fact that the elimination of strong regulations caused the Wall Street meltdown and a terrible recession, the billionaires want more deregulation. Despite outsourcing of millions of good-paying American jobs to China and other low-wage countries, the billionaires want more unfettered free trade.

At this pivotal moment in American history, it’s important to note how we got into this deficit crisis, who was responsible and what is the fairest way to address it.

Robert Reich; How Romney Keeps Lying Through His Big White Teeth

“We’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers,” says Neil Newhouse, a Romney pollster.

A half dozen fact-checking organizations and websites have refuted Romney’s claims that Obama removed the work requirement from the welfare law and will cut Medicare benefits by $216 billion.  

Last Sunday’s New York Times even reported on its front page that Romney has been “falsely charging” President Obama with removing the work requirement. Those are strong words from the venerable Times. Yet Romney is still making the false charge. Ads containing it continue to be aired.

Presumably the Romney campaign continues its false claims because they’re effective. But this raises a more basic question: How can they remain effective when they’ve been so overwhelmingly discredited by the media?

Mark Morford: How to Spot Completely Miserable GOP Women

You can see it in the eyes. Vacant, sort of glassy, dark and distant as if staring into a cave full of nails from a thousand miles – and a million joyful lifetimes – away.

It moves on to the skin, pale and ill-fitting like a mannequin in a human costume, like it’s not the slightest bit comfortable in there, closing around a sallow tightness of the mouth and lips, maybe a severity of haircut, the sweater buttoned a bit too tight and the collar cutting circulation to the vital organs, but most especially and obviously, to the heart.

Do you see it? Do you see it, most frequently and with a tragic sigh, in the women of the GOP, from the senseless female candidates themselves (Hi, Ms. Bachmann!) to the sallow wives and disoriented daughters of the ultraconservative males who fear and detest everything real women represent?

You know the look. You’ve seen it a million times, this “Oh my God how did I get here,” this “How can this really be my life,” this look of deep and long-muted pain and/or dull resignation (Hi, Mrs. Vitter!), the long rusted-over knowledge that choices have been made and there was no other way, even though there was, even though there still is.

Gail Collins: Renovating Mitt Romney

So, about Mitt Romney.

The Republicans have been holding a convention to nominate him for president! I am telling you this on the off chance that you haven’t been paying attention. Perhaps you feel as if you’ve already met Mitt Romney and don’t require another introduction. Perhaps you feel as if you’ve met him a lot. But this is entirely different because the party’s mission this week is to construct an entirely new, improved, warmer, more lovable version.

They built this Romney!

“We built it” is one of the themes here, at the government-underwritten convention in a government-subsidized convention center in a city that rose on the sturdy foundation of government-subsidized flood insurance. But no taxpayer dollars were expended in the attempt to put together a New Mitt.

None. Really, it was just private corporations and rich people.

Aug 30 2012

Conservative Humor

C’mon, Victoria Jackson, Dennis Miller…

The Real Romney

By DAVID BROOKS, The New York Times

Published: August 27, 2012

The Romneys had a special family tradition. The most cherished member got to spend road trips on the roof of the car. Mitt spent many happy hours up there, applying face lotion to combat windburn.

The teenage years were more turbulent. He was sent to a private school, where he was saddened to find there are people in America who summer where they winter. He developed a lifelong concern for the second homeless, and organized bake sales with proceeds going to the moderately rich.



Some have said that Romney’s lifestyle is overly privileged, pointing to the fact that he has an elevator for his cars in the garage of his San Diego home. This is not entirely fair. Romney owns many homes without garage elevators and the cars have to take the stairs.

Dear Paul

Why I’m breaking up with Paul Ryan.

By William Saletan, Slate

Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2012, at 8:56 AM ET

My friends said I was crazy. They said you weren’t who I thought you were. Paul Krugman said you were a fake fiscal conservative. Scott Lemieux called you a standard-issue right-winger. Jim Surowiecki compared you to Barry Goldwater. I didn’t believe the naysayers. Sometimes they said you were too extreme. Sometimes they said you were a squishy hypocrite for supporting TARP and the auto bailout. It seemed like they just wanted to make you look bad one way or the other. I thought they were just playing politics.

I knew you weren’t perfect. I didn’t like your vote against the Simpson-Bowles debt reduction plan. I worried that your weakness for tax cuts would squander the savings from your budget cuts. But I should have studied your record more carefully. I didn’t understand how pivotal you were in sinking the budget deal between President Obama and Speaker Boehner. I paid too much attention to what you said about cutting the defense budget and not enough attention to what you did. You accused the military of requesting too little money-a concern that makes no sense to anyone familiar with the acquisitive habits of government agencies. You also objected to setting financial savings targets and forcing the Pentagon to meet them, even though that’s how you proposed to control domestic spending.



I hate to admit it, but Krugman nailed me on this one. I was looking for Mr. Right-a fact-based, sensible fiscal conservative-and I tried to shoehorn you into that role.

That’s where you let me down, Paul. Since Mitt Romney tapped you as his running mate, you haven’t stood for fiscal restraint. You’ve attacked it. You warned voters in North Carolina and Virginia that cuts in the defense budget would take away their tax-supported jobs. And I cringe when I recall what I said about you and Medicare. “Ryan destroys Romney’s ability to continue making the dishonest, anti-conservative argument that Obamacare is evil because it cuts Medicare,” I wrote. “Now Romney will have to defend the honest conservative argument, which is that Medicare spending should be controlled.”

I couldn’t have been more wrong. Four days after Romney put you on the ticket, you began parroting his Medicare shtick. You protested that Obama’s $700 billion savings in the future growth of Medicare payments to providers-a spending reduction that any sensible conservative president would have sought, and that you had previously included in your budget plan-would “lead to fewer services for seniors.” You depicted a horror scenario: “a $3,600 cut in benefits for current seniors. Nearly one out of six hospitals and nursing homes are going to go out of business.” You assured seniors that the Romney-Ryan agenda for Medicare “does not affect your benefits.” And you promised future retirees “guaranteed affordability” of health care.

In short, you adopted every tactic in the liberal playbook. You framed a reduced rate of growth as a draconian cut. You inflated the likely impact of the reduction. You denounced any loss of services as unacceptable. You promised not to touch seniors’ benefits. And you reaffirmed a fiscally unsustainable guarantee. By my count, you’ve now done this in at least six speeches and rallies. Every day, you’re reinforcing the culture of entitlement and making it harder to rein in retirement programs.

Oh, Paul. And I thought you were so rugged.

Ok, you’re right.  There is no such thing as conservative humor.  The funny (in the sense of disconcerting or odd) part is that there is already a “Mr. Right-a fact-based, sensible fiscal conservative” who supports all that gutting of our social insurance contract.

He calls himself a "Democrat" and his name is Barack Obama.

Aug 30 2012

On This Day In History August 30

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour a cup of your favorite morning beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

August 30 is the 242nd day of the year (243rd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 123 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1967, Thurgood Marshall becomes the first African American to be confirmed as a Supreme Court justice. He would remain on the Supreme Court for 24 years before retiring for health reasons, leaving a legacy of upholding the rights of the individual as guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.

Thurgood Marshall (July 2, 1908 – January 24, 1993) was an American jurist and the first African American to serve on the Supreme Court of the United States. Before becoming a judge, he was a lawyer who was best remembered for his high success rate in arguing before the Supreme Court and for the victory in Brown v. Board of Education. He was nominated to the court by President Lyndon Johnson in 1967.

Marshall was born in Baltimore, Maryland on July 2, 1908, the great-grandson of a slave who was born in modern-day Democratic Republic of the Congo.His original name was Thoroughgood, but he shortened it to Thurgood  in second grade because he disliked spelling it. His father, William Marshall, who was a railroad porter, instilled in him an appreciation for the Constitution of the United States and the rule of law.

Marshall graduated from Frederick Douglass High School in Baltimore in 1925 and from Lincoln University in Pennsylvania in 1930. Afterward, Marshall wanted to apply to his hometown law school, the University of Maryland School of Law, but the dean told him that he would not be accepted because of the school’s segregation policy. Later, as a civil rights litigator, he successfully sued the school for this policy in the case of Murray v. Pearson. As he could not attend the University of Maryland, Marshall sought admission and was accepted at Howard University School of Law.

Marshall received his law degree from the Howard University School of Law in 1933 where he graduated first in his class.

Marshall won his very first U.S. Supreme Court case, Chambers v. Florida, 309 U.S. 227 (1940), at the age of 32. That same year, he was appointed Chief Counsel for the NAACP. He argued many other cases before the Supreme Court, most of them successfully, including Smith v. Allwright, 321 U.S. 649 (1944); Shelley v. Kraemer, 334 U.S. 1 (1948); Sweatt v. Painter, 339 U.S. 629 (1950); and McLaurin v. Oklahoma State Regents, 339 U.S. 637 (1950). His most famous case as a lawyer was Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, 347 U.S. 483 (1954), the case in which the Supreme Court ruled that “separate but equal” public education, as established by Plessy v. Ferguson, was not applicable to public education because it could never be truly equal. In total, Marshall won 29 out of the 32 cases he argued before the Supreme Court.

Marshall served on the Court for the next twenty-four years, compiling a liberal record that included strong support for Constitutional protection of individual rights, especially the rights of criminal suspects against the government. His most frequent ally on the Court (indeed, the pair rarely voted at odds) was Justice William Brennan, who consistently joined him in supporting abortion rights and opposing the death penalty. Brennan and Marshall concluded in Furman v. Georgia that the death penalty was, in all circumstances, unconstitutional, and never accepted the legitimacy of Gregg v. Georgia, which ruled four years later that the death penalty was constitutional in some circumstances. Thereafter, Brennan or Marshall dissented from every denial of certiorari in a capital case and from every decision upholding a sentence of death.[citation needed] In 1987, Marshall gave a controversial speech on the occasion of the bicentennial celebrations of the Constitution of the United States. Marshall stated,

   

“the government they devised was defective from the start, requiring several amendments, a civil war, and major social transformations to attain the system of constitutional government and its respect for the freedoms and individual rights, we hold as fundamental today.”

In conclusion Marshall stated

   

“Some may more quietly commemorate the suffering, struggle, and sacrifice that has triumphed over much of what was wrong with the original document, and observe the anniversary with hopes not realized and promises not fulfilled. I plan to celebrate the bicentennial of the Constitution as a living document, including the Bill of Rights and the other amendments protecting individual freedoms and human rights.”

He retired from the Supreme Court in 1991, and was reportedly unhappy that it would fall to President George H. W. Bush to name his replacement. Bush nominated Clarence Thomas to replace Marshall.

Marshall died of heart failure at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, at 2:58 p.m. on January 24, 1993 at the age of 84. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery. His second wife and their two sons survived him

On November 30, 1993, Justice Marshall was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Bill Clinton.

Aug 30 2012

People That Excuse Wasting the Crisis in 2008 Don’t Get to Lecture Anyone

Cross posted at out new beta site Voices on the Square and in Orange

In lieu of meaningless political convention coverage, my title is absolutely still true. Decades and decades of history refutes any excuses about the so called political expediency of wasting any crisis economic or otherwise. That is one of the only things I agree with Rahm Emanuel on when he said it at the beginning of this administration. Sadly, the White House only listened to his hippy punching BS. The prospect that this economic disaster wouldn’t go to waste or enrich bankers was where the hope used to reside when there was any at all to confide in as far as any real economic recovery is concerned.

But when we mention these real world problems still abound from these failures we hear the same old tired excuses trotted out to excuse this administration from loyal partisans who are proud of what they never learn. This involves excusing the the bailout, housing, and foreclosure crisis. Ironically, this is why there is any chance at all for insane Republicans to make hay in this election at all so it might be smart to pay attention to it at some point even if the media won’t cover it. The bottom line is that coddling too big to fail banks with trillions in bailouts and more bailout guarantees on top of that (29 trillion globally when counted all up) to make Capital whole at the expense of laborers didn’t help and many of us knew it wouldn’t from the get go.

During an election it is treated like a crime to say so. You know, other countries have actually learned this lesson as we have forgotten from the past. Alas Iceland handled their crisis well, like Sweden, and like we did during the S&L crisis but not in 2008 where our fate is now a lost decade or two. With too many loyal “Democrats” looking the other way, this administration and their point man in the Treasury let Wall St have the most say even though public anger at Wall St was and is still at an all time high. This explains why the public was against the bailout, and how it failed in the House at first.

Aug 30 2012

Hurricane Isaac

Over the last two days slow moving Hurricane Isaac has pounded the Gulf Coast states with high winds, torrential rain and coastal storm surge at high tides. Seven years after the disaster of Katrina Gulf Coast residents were more wary and many headed away from the coast to higher ground and shelters. Now downgraded to a tropical storm, New Orleans’ new levees, built with federal funding, have held, but to the west of the city, in Plaquemines Parish, there has been serious flooding and emergency evacuation and rescues are underway. There are plans to open a hole in the levee there to relieve the pressure behind the wall that if breached would cause even more damage.

On Wednesday, President Obama declared major disaster areas in Mississippi and Louisiana and has ordered the release of federal aid to supplement state and local recovery.

One friend of Stars Hollow who lives in the direct line of the storm managed to send a message before they lost power, that this was the slowest storm that she had ever experienced. It’s just not moving:

The worst-hit part of the coast was Plaquemines Parish, La., the finger of land that follows the Mississippi River from Orleans Parish out into the Gulf of Mexico, and the place where both Isaac and Katrina first made landfall.

Fears that a locally built gulf-side levee would be overtopped by Isaac’s massive surge were well founded. Many of those on Plaquemines Parish’s east bank who ignored Monday’s order to leave were forced into their attics when the gulf poured in, filling up the bowl between the levees with up to 14 feet of water.

Dozens of people had to be pulled to safety by rescue workers and neighbors. As of Wednesday evening, water was beginning to creep up the west bank of the parish as well, prompting officials to go door to door to evacuate what is effectively the bottom two-thirds of the parish.

“We’ve never seen anything like this, not even Katrina,” said a visibly rattled Billy Nungesser, the parish president, in a briefing to reporters. [..]

And still Isaac trudged on, drenching the towns of the north bank of Lake Pontchartrain on Wednesday night and heading at an agonizing 6 miles per hour in the direction of Baton Rouge. Officials warned that the risks were far from over, as flooding was a threat not only along the coast but in mid-Louisiana, upstate Mississippi and the drought-starved regions north. On Wednesday afternoon, Isaac was flooding towns farther inland with its unceasing rain, and was far from finished with southern Louisiana and the Gulf Coast.

“There is another half of the storm to go for most people who have already begun to experience it,” W. Craig Fugate, the administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said on a conference call with reporters. “For some folks in the path, the event and the weather haven’t even begun. We are still way early before this is all over.”

While nowhere near the intensity and strength of Katrina, because Isaac is only moving at 10 miles an hour, the damages could match those of 2008’s Gustav, a Cat 2 storm, that topped $2 billion in insurance claims:

While comparatively modest as hurricanes go, Hurricane Isaac is already wreaking havoc. More than 644,000 were without power in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Arkansas, power companies told CNN. And some 100 residents had been or were in the process of being rescued from flooded homes and rooftops in coastal Plaquemines Parish, according to CNN affiliate WWL.

Eqecat, a catastrophe modeling firm, suggested onshore insured damage — which includes residential property, commercial property, energy production and the interruption of business but excludes most flooding damage — would run between $500 million and $1.5 billion. The firm excludes flooding because the federal government insures against flood damage for most properties.

The storm could also cause more than $500 million in damages to off-shore energy production.

The up side is that so far there has been only one death related to the storm, a young man fell 18 feet from a tree attempting to help his friends move a car. Another person has been reported missing after going jet skiing. A curfew has been declared in New Orleans and surrounding parishes to prevent looting areas without power and make it easier for utility crews to restore electricity.

Donations for victims of Isaac can be made to:

Salvation Army

Call 800-725-2769 (Sal-Army), text RED CROSS to 80888 for a $10 donation or visit www.salvationarmyusa.org.

Red Cross

Call 800-733-2767 (Red-Cross), text REDCROSS to 90999 for a $10 donation or visit www.redcross.org.

Stay safe, poligirl and LaEscapee

Aug 30 2012

My Little Town 20120828: Dad’s Garden

Sorry to post late, but I got an emergency call from next door because The Little Girl had lost her bottle and The Girl was trying to get her to the bed so that she (The Girl) and I could visit.  I hope that everyone understands that important personal interactions are more important than blogging.  The Girl found her bottle, in an area that I suggested.  She and I make a good team.

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.

I have written about Dad gardening before, so I hope that these are new stories.  I think that at least most of them will be.  Dad did not garden as long as my grandmum did, but when she got too feeble to garden effectively Dad, who was retired by then, took over the chore.

Dad did not do things an a small way.  He just about tripled the area that Ma gardened and moved the garden from the north side of the driveway to the south because there was more room.  He bought a rear tine tiller from the former Mrs. Translator’s father and broke the entire space with it.

Aug 30 2012

2012 Republican National Convention: Day 3

Madam Zelda!  Madam Zelda!

I don’t think anybody could have predicted that these people…would try to use an airplane as a missile, a hijacked airplane as a missile.

Debt of Honor (1994)

Ah, Condi the Pianist, how predictable.  And by ‘predictable’, I mean completely… um… dictable, I guess.  The point being that I hope all of you are finding this as excruciatingly boring fun and exciting as I am.

Call me when they say something factual.  It will be man bites dog.

Yesterday’s highlights in my estimation were of course the Ron Paul floor fight and Roll Call snub.  I also liked the ‘Parade of White Guys’ from the Afternoon session.  Of the evening program about all I have to say is that Janine Turner as a blonde looks like Julia Duffy and Neil Boyd in that hat looks like Sam Kineson.  Santorum was just creepy with the hands and family values thing and got chosen to deliver the big welfare work waiver lie.  Kelly Ayotte is in fact a poor public speaker and did need a crutch.  Kasich, McDonnell, and Walker are surprisingly bad for supposed heavyweights and established the “Me, me, me” meme (oh, and that Mitt guy too) that Christie epitomized.

I’m told by those who’ve seen more of him that this is the nice Chris.

I don’t have anything bad to say about Ann Romney at all except that her Nancified look was a little obvious.  If any of the men around her were half as good they’d be the nominee and Mitt would be strapped to the outside of his Gulfstream like Rafalca headed for a fun time playing Hot Wheels in his garage.  As it is he’ll have to wait until November.

Tonight’s highlights look to be Ron Paul hour at 7 (at least instructive).  I doubt McSame can come up with anything David Gregory hasn’t already slobbered over.  Jindal will be asking the evil Zionist Occupation Government for more money than he deserves and justifiably absent.  If Mike Huckabee is smart he’ll just play the banjo, but nobody has ever accused him of that.  When he does open his mouth he’ll show you why he’s now a pro instead of a politician, because he’s wacko insane but also that good.  Maybe he’ll jam with Condoleezza who should be hiding underneath her piano.

And then the big show, Ryan himself.

Conservative Humor.

7:00 p.m.

  • Convention convenes
  • Call to order
  • Introduction of Colors by Amputee Veterans of America Support Team (AVAST)
  • Pledge of Allegiance by Brigadier General Patrick E. Rea, US Army (Ret.)
  • National Anthem sung by Ayla Brown
  • Invocation by Ishwar Singh
  • Ron Paul Video
  • Remarks by Senate Republican Leader and Convention Temporary Chairman Mitch McConnell (KY)
  • Remarks by Senator Rand Paul (KY)
  • Remarks by Christopher Devlin-Young and Jeanine McDonnell

8:00 p.m.

  • Remarks by Senator John McCain (AZ)
  • Remarks by Attorney General Pam Bondi (FL) and Attorney General Sam Olens (GA)
  • Remarks by Governor Bobby Jindal (LA) (Jindal will not be attending- ek)
  • Remarks by Senator John Thune (SD)
  • Remarks by Senator Rob Portman (OH)

9:00 p.m.

  • Remarks by Governor Luis Fortuño (PR)
  • Remarks by Governor Tim Pawlenty (MN)
  • Bush 41, 43 Film
  • Remarks by Mike Huckabee

10:00 p.m.

  • Remarks by Condoleezza Rice
  • Remarks by Governor Susana Martinez (NM)
  • Remarks by vice presidential nominee Rep. Paul Ryan
  • Benediction by Archbishop Demetrios
  • Adjournment