Daily Archive: 08/31/2012

Aug 31 2012

Ayn Rand

In 10 pretty painless minutes.

Aug 31 2012

Blue Moon Lights Tonight’s Sky

Tonight’s Blue Moon is special since there will not be another until 2015.

Blue MoonThe moon will wax to its full phase at 9:58 a.m. EDT (1358 GMT) today, bringing August’s full moon count to two (the first one occurred Aug. 1). Two full moons won’t rise in a single month again until July 2015. [..]

Tonight’s blue moon also happens to fall on the day of late astronaut Neil Armstrong’s memorial service. Armstrong, who on July 20, 1969 became the first person to set foot on the moon, died Aug. 25 following complications from heart surgery.

So stargazers may want to keep Armstrong’s “one small step” in mind as they gaze up tonight.

“For those who may ask what they can do to honor Neil, we have a simple request,” Armstrong’s family wrote in a statement shortly after his death. “Honor his example of service, accomplishment and modesty, and the next time you walk outside on a clear night and see the moon smiling down at you, think of Neil Armstrong and give him a wink.”

So if your sky’s are clear tonight, even if they’re not, go outside, reach up with your arms towards the moon and breath.

Aug 31 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

The New York Times Editorial: Mr. Romney Reinvents History

Mitt Romney wrapped the most important speech of his life, for Thursday night’s session of his convention, around an extraordinary reinvention of history – that his party rallied behind President Obama when he won in 2008, hoping that he would succeed. “That president was not the choice of our party,” he said. “We are a good and generous people who are united by so much more than divides us.”

The truth, rarely heard this week in Tampa, Fla., is that the Republicans charted a course of denial and obstruction from the day Mr. Obama was inaugurated, determined to deny him a second term by denying him any achievement, no matter the cost to the economy or American security – even if it meant holding the nation’s credit rating hostage to a narrow partisan agenda.

Cenk Uygur: The Real Convention Is at Cracker Bay

One of the reasons this Republican convention has been so deathly dull is that the real action isn’t at the convention. It’s at Cracker Bay. That’s the name of the yacht where the Romney team just hosted 50 partiers, including some of his top donors. This was one of about a dozen events outside of the convention where they had private meetings with donors giving more than $1 million dollars to his campaign. Over $1 million a piece. Now, where do you think the real policy gets made?

You think Mitt Romney gives a damn what a delegate thinks? The only delegates that matter were on that yacht. They call this group the “Victory Council.” This is made of people who are literally millionaires and billionaires and who dictate what Mitt Romney’s positions will be. He’s a legendary flip-flopper, but if you want to know what he really thinks you had to be on that boat.

Roger Cohen: Made in the U.S.A.

I built this column.

I built it all by myself in this second American century.

I built it after seeing banners at the Republican National Convention saying, “Build, Baby, Build!” So I decided to drill down and see what I could find.

I found I needed a laptop that somebody else had built, somewhere outside the United States, somewhere like China, where there’s a lot of building going on. Naturally enough I discarded the computer in horror because I believe in building things myself from the ground up, just like my role-model Mom told me. She, by the way, was from Sicily and came via Wales to the United States, where she built a small business.

Now, that’s the last time I’m going to mention foreign countries in this self-built column. Real Americans know the rest of the world does not exist. The rest of the world is just a bad fantasy the other party has.

John Nichols: Mitt Romney: His Party Is the Problem

Who knew that Mitt Romney was such a fan of Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign?

“How many days have you woken up feeling that something really special was happening in America?” Romney told thousands of Republican delegates, alternates and hangers-on Thursday night. “Many of you felt that way on Election Day four years ago. Hope and Change had a powerful appeal.”

Speaking of the “fresh excitement about the possibilities of a new president” Americans felt upon Obama’s election, the man who will now seek to prevent the Democratic president’s reelection told the 40th Republican National Convention about how much he had hoped Obama would succeed “because I wanted America to succeed.”

But it wasn’t just that citizens wanted America to succeed. As Romney noted: “Every family in America wanted this to be a time when they could get ahead a little more, put aside a little more for college, do more for their elderly mom who’s living alone now or give a little more to their church or charity… This was the hope and change America voted for.”

In this, Romney was right.

Laura Flanders; The Bushwomen. They’re Back.

There she is, just the woman I was thinking of, on the op-ed page of the New York Times. Except she isn’t apologizing for her role unleashing the GOP’s “war on women.” She is writing about terrorism and the Clean Air Act. What I’d wanted someone to ask Christine Todd Whitman about was the day at the 1996 RNC, when she helped coronate today’s extremist GOP.

Former New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman is usually described in the money media with the words “moderate” and “pro-choice” glued firmly to her name. Republican in a pro-choice state, she’s on the record saying that abortion is “a personal decision between a woman and her doctor,” and the government has no business telling a woman what to do. (That used to be the conservative position.) She’s held up by pro-choicers as a tragicomic victim,  abandoned by her party, but the fact is, Whitman’s done more to help the vicious wing of the GOP than she ever did to stop the backlash.

Richard Dreyfuss: US Sells Three-Fourths of Worldwide Arms

Here’s the opening phrase of a scare story in the Washington Post from this weekend:

   China’s arms exports have surged over the past decade… [..]

China doesn’t even show up as a blip on the screen. The Post buries in the piece that China is “the sixth-largest arms exporter in the world.”

So dominant is the United States in worldwide arms trafficking that-get this!-US arms sales to a single country, Saudi Arabia, totaled $33.4 billion last year. That amount surpassed the entire total of US arms sales to all countries in the world in 2009, $31 billion. A commentary by a Wall Street analysis site notes happily: “The news confirms how critical defense, airplane, and agricultural exports are to the overall American trade balance.”

Aug 31 2012

On This Day In History August 31

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 31 is the 243rd day of the year (244th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 122 days remaining until the end of the year.

I am very hesitant to make the death of Princess Diana the prominent story of the day but her death was a tragedy on so many levels that it is not surprising that the world nearly stood still for 6 days until her funeral. There are many things that we remember exactly where we were and what we were doing when they happened, like 9/11 and, for those of us old enough, JFK’s assassination.

I was living in Paris then not far from the site of the accident. I had been out to dinner that evening with my then ex-husband, Dr. TMC, when we heard the crash, it was that loud, and shortly after the sirens of emergency vehicles. Not unusual in Paris, so, we continued on to our destinations. It wasn’t until very early that I heard that the Princess had died and where. Paris was stunned. The site became a instant memorial.

We all sat glued to the TV for days waiting for the Queen to say something. The Queen badly underestimated the admiration that was held her former daughter-in-law.  The day of her funeral Paris froze, the only time I have ever seen the city this quiet was on 9/11.

After being criticized for failing to satisfactorily match the grief of the British people, the royal family arranged for a state funeral to be held for Diana at Westminster Abbey on September 6. Diana’s coffin was taken from Kensington Palace to the Abbey on a horse-drawn gun carriage, and an estimated one million mourners lined the route. Diana’s sons, William, 15, and Harry, 12, joined their father, Prince Charles; grandfather Prince Philip; and uncle Charles, the Earl of Spencer, to walk the final stretch of the procession with the casket. The only sound was the clatter of the horses’ hooves and the peal of a church bell.

The service, watched by an estimated two billion people worldwide, sacrificed royal pomp for a more human touch. Workers associated with Diana’s various charities represented 500 of the 2,000 people invited to attend the funeral. Elton John, a friend of Diana, lent a popular touch to the ceremony when he sang “Candle in the Wind,” accompanying himself on piano. After the service, Diana’s body was taken by hearse to her family’s ancestral estate near Althorp, north of London. In a private ceremony, she was laid to rest on a tree-shaded island in a small lake, securely beyond the reach of the camera lens.

Since the death of Princess Diana, Althorp, which has been in the Spencer family for over 500 years, is now a popular tourist attraction that offers tours to the general public.

I still light a candle in her memory on this day.

Blessed Be.

Aug 31 2012

“I Talk to the Trees”

Now I talk to the chairs. In a bizarre, unscripted rambling monolog Clint Eastwood spoke to an empty chair representing President Barack Obama.  That was not his best performance.

Mitt Romney probably hoped that surprise guest Clint Eastwood would make his day at the convention — instead, the 82-year-old gave a rambling speech that was as disastrous as the botched bank robbery that he stopped in “Dirty Harry” while playing a jaded San Francisco cop. [..]

Eastwood, who praised Romney as a “stellar businessman,” later said that he thought it was never a good idea for attorneys to be president, despite the fact that Romney has a J.D. from Harvard Law School. [..]

The otherwise prolific actor and director clearly appeared to be showing his age in what was meant to be a big coup for Republicans as their “mystery speaker.” [..]

The Romney campaign seemed to grasp how Eastwood’s bizarre, rambling, unscripted speech fell flat. “Judging an American icon like Clint Eastwood through a typical political lens doesn’t work,” was the campaign’s response. Aides winced backstage, according to the Associated Press.

Eastwood’s attacks on Obama didn’t faze the campaign. “Referring all questions on this to Salvador Dali,” Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt said in an email to The Huffington Post.

It’s a bit hard to figure what the RNC organizers were thinking when they invited Clint to play such a prominent roll. After all he isn’t exactly a family values kind of guy or, for that matter, much of a 2012 Republican. This is what he said during an interview with GQ about his film J. Edgar that starred Leonardo DiCaprio:

GQ: Yeah, but maybe between the movies you have some political feelings. [to Eastwood] You’ve described yourself as a social libertarian. What does that mean to you?

Clint Eastwood: I was an Eisenhower Republican when I started out at 21, because he promised to get us out of the Korean War. And over the years, I realized there was a Republican philosophy that I liked. And then they lost it. And libertarians had more of it. Because what I really believe is, Let’s spend a little more time leaving everybody alone. These people who are making a big deal out of gay marriage? I don’t give a fuck about who wants to get married to anybody else! Why not?! We’re making a big deal out of things we shouldn’t be making a deal out of.

Leonardo Dicaprio: That’s the most infuriating thing-watching people focus on these things. Meanwhile, there’s the onset of global warming and-

Clint Eastwood: Exactly!

Leonardo Dicaprio: -and these incredibly scary and menacing things with the future of our economy. Our relationship to the rest of the world. And here we are focusing on this?

Clint Eastwood: They go on and on with all this bullshit about “sanctity”-don’t give me that sanctity crap! Just give everybody the chance to have the life they want.

Stick to singing, Clint

Aug 31 2012

The Flim-Flam Man Paul Ryan

It’s Flim-Flam

The economist has been a vocal critic of Ryan’s budget. On Wednesday, he appeared on Current TV to analyze the plan with Al Gore – who is hosting the network’s coverage of the conventions – and hosts Eliot Spitzer and Jennifer Granholm.

Krugman said that Ryan’s plan would leave “tens of millions” of people without health insurance. Gore said that his understanding is that it would take money from the poor and give it to the rich while increasing the budget deficit.

Krugman said that was indeed the case. “How can [Ryan] get away with this?” he asked incredulously. “World’s greatest nation falls for this flimflam?”

Paul Krugman: The Medicare Killers

Paul Ryan’s speech Wednesday night may have accomplished one good thing: It finally may have dispelled the myth that he is a Serious, Honest Conservative. Indeed, Mr. Ryan’s brazen dishonesty left even his critics breathless. [..]

But Mr. Ryan’s big lie – and, yes, it deserves that designation – was his claim that “a Romney-Ryan administration will protect and strengthen Medicare.” Actually, it would kill the program. [..]

The Republican Party is now firmly committed to replacing Medicare with what we might call Vouchercare. The government would no longer pay your major medical bills; instead, it would give you a voucher that could be applied to the purchase of private insurance. And, if the voucher proved insufficient to buy decent coverage, hey, that would be your problem.

Moreover, the vouchers almost certainly would be inadequate; their value would be set by a formula taking no account of likely increases in health care costs. [..]

The question now is whether voters will understand what’s really going on (which depends to a large extent on whether the news media do their jobs). Mr. Ryan and his party are betting that they can bluster their way through this, pretending that they are the real defenders of Medicare even as they work to kill it. Will they get away with it?

You should realize you’ve screwed up when your own paid shills call out your lies:

According to Fox News columnist Sally Kohn, vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan’s speech at the Republican National Convention on Wednesday “was an apparent attempt to set the world record for the greatest number of blatant lies and misrepresentations slipped into a single political speech.”

“On this measure, while it was Romney who ran the Olympics, Ryan earned the gold,” Kohn wrote. [..]

In her column, Kohn called out four lies in Ryan’s speech. She critcized Ryan for blaming President Obama for the shutdown of a General Motors plant in Janesville, Wis., that actually was closed during the Bush administration. She also knocked Ryan for pinning the blame for S&P’s downgrade of U.S. debt on Obama, when Republicans in Congress helped precipitate the downgrade by threatening to refuse to raise the debt ceiling.

“The good news is that the Romney-Ryan campaign has likely created dozens of new jobs among the legions of additional fact checkers that media outlets are rushing to hire to sift through the mountain of cow dung that flowed from Ryan’s mouth,” Kohn wrote.

But they will continue to repeat this litany of lies and the people will believe. Hallelujah! Amen!

Message to Romney and Obama: Keep Your Hands Off Medicare

Aug 31 2012

2012 Republican National Convention: Day 4

Well Ann Romney is still the best speaker overall with Huckabee clearly second and Rice and Ryan about tied.  Christie slides to 5th just ahead of Pawlenty.  Everyone else is reality show bad or worse.

Remember my points are given on presentation not substance so the fact that Ryan’s speech was such a comprehensive compendium of lies that even inoffensive little words like ‘a’, ‘and’, and ‘the’ were overwhelmed by the onslaught is immaterial to the score.

Of course tonight we have our special super secret guest speaker which rumors say will be Clint Eastwood.  I must say if true I consider this a mistake from 2 standpoints.  Firstly I’m not sure ‘Dirty Harry’ Callahan is sufficiently ardent for the Party at this particular stage and secondly he’ll make Romney look bad.  He’s already going to have competition enough from Jeb Bush who wouldn’t even be on the stage except for his institutional strength.

I think actually that will be the speech to watch tonight.  Jon is not kidding when he calls this a rehearsal for ’16 because no one with any brains (and I had to set the bar that low to include the Villager Idiots) thinks there is a path to electoral victory for Mitt.  What we have seen so far is the chaotic evil of the id raging anti-fairies (Fairly Odd Parents, I stand by my metaphor), Jeb is the face of the soul sucking pixies and they own this town.

There are reports that ratings are tanking and the enthusiasm among the delegates distinctly down.  Other factors are contributing (Isaac) and will no doubt be blamed by those looking for excuses, but what I’m feeling is a huge emotional black hole at the center of all of this and his name is Barack Obama.

Reagan was sunshiny optimism and hope on a hill.  He had goals, evil goals but still goals.  These guys have nothing but hate, resentment, and fear.  They won’t talk about their program for America because people justifiably don’t like it.  Huge majorities, even in their own party.

However Democrats are just as bad.  One of the reasons Paul Ryan is an evil hypocritical liar is that he voted against the Bowles/Simpson report.  We should be thanking him instead.

The politicians are afraid of democracy.  Since 2006 every election has been a “change” election and attrition has replaced many of the less firmly entrenched.  There is no reason not to expect this trend to continue until conditions improve.

I’ve been watching the action on CSPAN and I highly recommend it as complete and mercifully pundit free.

7:00 p.m.

  • Convention convenes
  • Call to order
  • Introduction of Colors US Central Command Joint Forces Color Guard Team
  • Pledge of Allegiance by Dylan Nonaka
  • National Anthem sung by SEVEN
  • Invocation by Ken and Priscilla Hutchins
  • Remarks by U.S. Rep. Connie Mack (FL)
  • Reagan Legacy Video
  • Remarks by Newt and Callista Gingrich
  • Remarks by Craig Romney

8:00 p.m.

  • Remarks by Governor former Jeb Bush (FL)
  • Remarks by Bob White, chairman of Romney for President campaign
  • Remarks by Grant Bennett
  • Remarks by Tom Stemberg

9:00 p.m.

  • Remarks by former Massachusetts Lt. Governor Kerry Healey
  • Remarks by Jane Edmonds, former Massachusetts Secretary of Workforce
  • Remarks by Olympians Michael Eruzione, Derek Parra and Kim Rhode

10:00 p.m.

  • Remarks by U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (FL)
  • Remarks by presidential nominee Mitt Romney
  • Benediction by Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan
  • Adjournment