09/13/2012 archive

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”.

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New York Times Editorial: Murder in Benghazi

Libya and its pro-democracy revolution had no better friend than J. Christopher Stevens, the United States ambassador who was killed along with three other Americans in Tuesday’s attack on the consulate in Benghazi. It was an outrageous act that deserved the strongest condemnation.

President Obama’s statement of outrage and his vow to bring the killers to justice received bipartisan support, including from politicians otherwise committed to partisan warfare, like the House speaker, John Boehner, and the Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell, who rarely misses a chance to attack Mr. Obama.

But not from Mitt Romney, who wants Americans to believe he can be president but showed an extraordinary lack of presidential character by using the murders of the Americans in Libya as an excuse not just to attack Mr. Obama, but to do so in a way that suggested either a dangerous ignorance of the facts or an equally dangerous willingness to twist them to his narrow partisan aims.

Amy Goodman: Mayor Rahm-Ney’s Attack on the Chicago Teachers Union

Unions are under attack in the United States-not only from people like Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, but now, with the teachers strike in Chicago, from the very core of President Barack Obama’s inner circle, his former chief of staff and current mayor of that city, Rahm Emanuel. Twenty-five thousand teachers and support staff are on strike there, shutting down the public school system in the nation’s third-largest school district. [..]

This struggle reflects the essence of Occupy Wall Street-community members across class, race and other traditional divides uniting in disciplined opposition to corporate power. Author and journalist Chris Hedges, who has observed the Occupy movement closely, put the strike into context:

“The teachers’ strike in Chicago is arguably one of the most important labor actions in probably decades. If it does not prevail, you can be certain that the template for the attack on the union will be carried out across the country against other teachers unions and against the last redoubt of union activity, which is in the public sector, of course-firemen and police.”

For people who are wondering where Occupy is today, just look at the streets of Chicago.

Richard (RJ) Eskow: When It Comes to the DoJ and Wall Street, Don’t Call It “Justice”

If a recent report is true the Justice Department will need a new name — and some of us will have to step up and admit we were wrong.

It was clear that the foreclosure fraud settlement which the Administration and most states reached with major US banks was a great deal for the big banks — and a lousy deal for the public. But some of us found reason to hope against hope that the settlement would be accompanied by real investigation of crooked bankers, after years of flim-flammery and disgraceful inaction by the Justice Department.

Not that we were entirely naïve. The Administration’s track record was poor. and even had a slight resonance of bad faith. when it came to prosecuting Wall Street criminality. So, speaking only for myself, that cautious support came with renewed pressure on the Administration to back its words with action.

Some of us knew that, pace Pete Townshend, we very well might get fooled again.

Margaret Kimberly: Freedom Rider: Black America Stands Down for the Obamas

The Democrats definitely won the propaganda war between the two conventions but that doesn’t mean that black people won anything.” How could they, since African Americans have asked for nothing but that a Black family get to live in the White House? “For the first time in their history, black Americans have consciously and directly advocated being ignored.”

The recent Democratic National Convention was a demonstration of marketing at its worst, that is to say, at its greatest level of effectiveness. It was also an awful celebration of white washed history, dubious assertions and Orwellian levels of propaganda.

The best example of foolishness masquerading as substance was the overwrought reaction to first lady Michelle Obama’s speech. She gave what has become a traditional address asking voters to support the candidate because his wife tells funny stories about him which will make voters determined to vote for the good husband/dad/one time poor student who loves his country. The only difference between Michelle Obama and Ann Romney’s speeches was in the quality of delivery and fashion sense. Apparently there is still nothing like a beautiful woman in the right dress to make otherwise intelligent people lose their common sense.

Robert Reich: Moody’s in a Mood

The rating agencies are at it again. Moody’s Investors Services says it’s likely to downgrade U.S. government bonds if Congress and the White House don’t reach a budget deal before we go over the so-called “fiscal cliff” on January 2, when $1.2 trillion in spending cuts and tax increases automatically go into effect.

Apparently the credit rating agencies can’t decide which is more dangerous to the U.S. economy — cutting the U.S. budget deficit too quickly, or not having a plan to cut it at all. [..]

The fiscal cliff is a real worry. And it’s a worry precisely because the budget deficit isn’t — at least not now. When unemployment is high and growth is anemic, we need as much fiscal stimulus as we can manage.

As long as the rest of the world is willing to lend us their savings so cheaply, we’d be wise to use it to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure and our schools and parks — and thereby put more Americans back to work — rather try to cut the deficit too much and too soon.

John Nichols: Priebus Posturing: RNC Chair Crosses the Last Line of Political Propriety

Mitt Romney’s response to the attacks on US diplomatic sites in Egypt and Libya-which left a US ambassador and other diplomats dead-was one of the more ignorant and irresponsible statements ever issued by a major party presidential nominee in such a circumstance. Early Wednesday, the Romney camp released a statement that read: “It’s disgraceful that the Obama Administration’s first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks.” [..]

Yet, even after the administration response in general and Obama’s own response had been made clear to all, Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus continued to feature a Tweet on his official Twitter account that read: “Obama sympathizes with attackers in Egypt. Sad and pathetic.”

Priebus made no effort to apologize, no effort to clarify, no show of even the most minimal sense of duty or responsibility. Political campaigns frequently go to extremes. People say and do things that are inappropriate. But what Priebus has done crosses whatever line of political propriety still exists. He is intentionally creating a false impression with regard to the response of the president of the United States to a violent international incident that could have long-term repercussions.

Criminal Dissent: Update

The “Good Guys” won one.

Back in January of this year Chris Hedges, Pulitzer Prize-winning war correspondent Chris Hedges, became the lead complainant in a law suit against the Obama administration after President Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act on December 21, 2011:

Hedges asserted that section 1021 (pdf) of the bill, which authorized indefinite military detention for “a person who was a part of or substantially supported al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners, including any person who has committed a belligerent act or has directly supported such hostilities in aid of such enemy forces,” left him, as a working journalist, vulnerable to indefinite detention because neither Congress nor the president defined the terms “substantial support,” “associated forces” or “directly supported.” [Emphasis added.]

After several hearings on the whether or not the plaintiffs had standing,on May 16, US District Court Judge for the Southern District of New York Katherine B. Forrest issued a preliminary injunction enjoining the enforcement of 1021. On September 12, Judge Forrest made that injunction permanent

Wednesday’s 112-page opinion turns the temporary injunction of May into a permanent injunction. The United States appealed on August 6.

The permanent injunction prevents the U.S. government from enforcing a portion of Section 1021 of the National Defense Authorization Act’s “Homeland Battlefield” provisions. [..]

“This court does not disagree with the principle that the president has primacy in foreign affairs,” the judge said, but that she was not convinced by government arguments.

“The government has not stated that such conduct – which, by analogy, covers any writing, journalistic and associational activities that involve al Qaeda, the Taliban or whomever is deemed “associated forces” – does not fall within § 1021(b)(2).”

This ruling of course will be appealed. In the meantime, journalists, reporters, humanitarian aid workers are still protected by the Constitution. We owe a hearty “thank you” to Judge Forrest for not abdicating her judicial responsibilities. But most of all the Chris Hedges and the other six members of the “Freedom 7“: Pentagon Papers journalist Daniel Ellsberg; author Noam Chomsky; Icelandic parliamentarian Birgitta Jonsdottir; Occupy London activist Kai Wargalla; activist Alexa O’Brien, who believes she lost her day job because of McCarthyite suggestions her work with Occupy Wall Street/Day of Rage was somehow connected to Islamic radicals; and Jennifer “Tangerine” Bolen is the founder and Executive Director of RevolutionTruth.

On This Day In History September 13

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.

September 13 is the 256th day of the year (257th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 109 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1814, Francis Scot Key pens Star-Spangled Banner

The Star-Spangled Banner is the national anthem of the United States of America. The lyrics come from “Defence of Fort McHenry”, a poem written in 1814 by the 35-year-old lawyer and amateur poet, Francis Scott Key, after witnessing the bombardment of Fort McHenry by the British Royal Navy ships in Chesapeake Bay during the Battle of Fort McHenry in the War of 1812.

The poem was set to the tune of a popular British drinking song, written by John Stafford Smith for the Anacreontic Society, a men’s social club in London. “The Anacreontic Song” (or “To Anacreon in Heaven”), with various lyrics, was already popular in the United States. Set to Key’s poem and renamed “The Star-Spangled Banner“, it would soon become a well-known American patriotic song. With a range of one and a half octaves, it is known for being difficult to sing. Although the song has four stanzas, only the first is commonly sung today, with the fourth (“O thus be it ever when free men shall stand…”) added on more formal occasions. In the fourth stanza, Key urged the adoption of “In God is our Trust” as the national motto (“And this be our motto: In God is our Trust”). The United States adopted the motto “In God We Trust” by law in 1956.

The Star-Spangled Banner” was recognized for official use by the Navy in 1889 and the President in 1916, and was made the national anthem by a congressional resolution on March 3, 1931 (46 Stat. 1508, codified at 36 U.S.C. § 301), which was signed by President Herbert Hoover.

Before 1931, other songs served as the hymns of American officialdom. “Hail, Columbia” served this purpose at official functions for most of the 19th century. “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee“, whose melody was derived from the British national anthem, also served as a de facto anthem before the adoption of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Following the War of 1812 and subsequent American wars, other songs would emerge to compete for popularity at public events, among them “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

Can You Accept Simpson Bowles-Sh!t and Still Call Yourself a Democrat?

No, unless you somehow think RW DLC and third way Democrats forever have the right to dictate their failed policies and complicity in the Great Divergence. No. Real Democrats, if any exist anymore, don’t believe in austerity or the coming GRAND SELLOUT in Congress after the President likely wins reelection. We warned it was coming as soon as the Bush Tax Cut Sellout was passed by Democrats. It was easy to see, but none are as blind as those that refused to see. You know who you are.

It would be different of course if partisans didn’t let Democrats enable Republican lies and ignorance about deficits and national accounting, but they do as Bill Clinton did in his speech at the DNC sticking the part about Simpson Bowles at the end. Deficits are only dangerous political tools as long as Democratic voters are complicit in accepting the whole stupid debate about who rung up the debt. He was probably hoping you wouldn’t pay attention to that part, but maybe not. After all, he once told us how he really felt.

Former President Bill Clinton has quite the skewed view on interest rates (Interest rates went up as he was balancing the budget, not down) regarding deficits and his disastrous surpluses he brags about. As the great Stephanie Kelton, Associate Professor of Economics at the University of Missouri-Kansas City took note of, even mainstream “progressive” journalists are now admitting reality so why must we indulge these deficit fantasies or sit through another convention full of them?

We’re Not Broke and the Clinton Surpluses Destroyed the US Economy

Two of our nation’s most influential progressive journalists – Slate’s Matt Yglesias and Business Insider’s Joe Weisenthal –  just took on two powerful economic myths.

1. The Myth that The US Government is Out of Money

2. The Myth that A Government Surplus is  a Sign of Fiscal Responsibility

It’s hard to imagine a more empowering message.  As word spreads, elected officials in both parties will lose their primary excuse for inaction on on a whole range of neglected and underfunded programs.  “I’d love to help, but I’m all tapped out,” simply won’t sell.

My Little Town 20120912: Forgotten Recipes

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.

In these days of prepared just about everything, for many people what I like to call “old timey” cooking is just a distant memory, and for many others not even that.  Tuesday night I got the idea to write this because I plan, when The Little Girl goes to sleep, to show The Woman how to make chocolate syrup at home for a fraction of the cost of even the store brands.

It is easy, and the recipe can be increased to make as much as you want.  After thinking about that, I sort of randomly selected a few other things that used to be made from scratch that rarely are any more, or that simple are no longer eaten much.

I think that this will be sort of fun, and I suspect that many of you reading will have some recipes in your memories’ horde to share.  Let us start with chocolate syrup.