Daily Archive: 10/23/2012

Oct 23 2012

Stock Market Tumbles on Bad News

U.S. Stocks Fall Sharply

by Nathaniel Popper, New York Times

The Dow Jones industrial average finished the day down 1.8 percent, or 243.36 points, to end at 13,102.53, its worst performance since June. The losses added to the big declines on Friday, and dropped leading indexes to their lowest levels since early September, before the Federal Reserve announced its latest monetary stimulus program.

Since the Standard & Poor’s 500 index hit this year’s high of 1,465.77 on Sept. 14, the benchmark index has fallen 3.6 percent. It finished Tuesday down 1.4 percent, or 20.71 points, to 1,413.11.

Share futures were falling even before the opening bell because of disappointing financial results from American companies. The chemical maker DuPont said Tuesday morning that its revenue was down 9 percent in the third quarter from a year ago, and that it would eliminate 1,500 jobs. The company’s stock ended down 9.1 percent.

Thomson Reuters said Tuesday that 63 percent of the companies that have reported earnings so far have given revenue figures for the third quarter that were lower than what analysts expected.

Stock Market Suffers Worst Day In Months On Bernanke Separation Anxiety

by Mark Gongloff, Huffington Post

The stock market is freaking out like Bill Paxton’s panicky marine in “Aliens,” yelling “Game over, man! Game over!” All because it’s afraid of losing Ben Bernanke.

Late in the trading day on Tuesday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down more than 200 points, on track for its worst one-day loss since June. What had it in such a tizzy? There were lots of good reasons — third-quarter corporate earnings have been kind of awful, and Europe’s endless debt crisis continues.

But the main catalyst, according to Wall Street‘s best and brightest, are a couple of New York Times stories today, one by the well-sourced Andrew Ross Sorkin, suggesting that Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke probably won’t sign up for another term when his second term as Fed Chairman ends in January 2014. Binyamin Appelbaum runs through a handful of the possible replacements in a Mitt Romney administration, and at least one of them — Stanford’s John Taylor — is known to be opposed to Bernanke’s easy-money policies.

Of course the idea that Bernanke might be leaving should shock nobody, really. After eight years of riding herd on the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, all the while being accused of treason and threatened with old-fashioned Texas lynchings, did anybody really expect that Ben would want another four years of this?

Apparently so. The market indeed seems shocked and horrified by the idea that it will no longer be able to depend on what’s come to be known as the “Bernanke Put” — the implied promise that Bernanke won’t let the stock market fall too far before riding to the rescue with another helicopter-load of money.

Sounds like a combination of the continued recession at the bottom of the economic stratus is trickling up to the top, at last, and the poor dears on Wall St. are concerned that they’re losing their “sugar daddy”. Tell me again why they hate Obama?

Oct 23 2012

The 3rd Obama – Romney Debate: Foreign Policy

The third and final debate between President Barack Obama and his challenger, Governor Mitt Romney took place in Boca Raton, FL at Lynn University moderated by Bob Schieffer, host of CBS’s “Face the Nation.” The focus was on foreign policy with most of the questions centering on the unrest in the Middle East, the conflict in Afghanistan, the military and the war on terror. Many of the pundits and snap polls gave the “win” to Pres. Obama, who let loose with a few well placed “zingers” in response to Gov. Romney’s criticism of his foreign policy. The “horses and bayonets” quip countering Gov Romney’s criticism of the US Navy’s fleet strength. Here is some the more balanced analysis from the left who had as much to say about the Obama administration’s bungled foreign policy, as they did about the dubious future policies of a President Romney.

From David Dayen, FDL News Desk, article, We Don’t Have an American Foreign Policy Debate

While Mitt Romney hid behind Barack Obama and displayed about as much independent thought as a college student who didn’t cram enough the night before the test and spent the whole time looking at his neighbor’s paper, his neighbor Barack Obama reflected so strongly the smoldering wreck that is this nation’s foreign policy consensus.

It’s amazing that the Republican Party, once associated almost totally with a “strong national defense,” would give up so completely on foreign policy, to the extent that they have no identity whatsoever on the issue. Romney agreed with every Obama position but said the nation needed a “comprehensive strategy” to deal with the world, the equivalent of Gerald Ford’s “Whip Inflation Now” buttons, a signifier without anything behind it.

But it’s also amazing to me that anyone would call the Republican candidate Peacenik Mitt, since on the one area by which we wage war in the 21st-century world, Mitt agreed “completely” on the use of drones. That’s increasingly the only way America and the west fights wars these days. So agreement on drones means agreement on the war strategy for the world powers over the next several decades. [..]

When war policy gets reduced to “send flying robots overhead to strike,” eliciting no sacrifice on the part of the general population, it becomes much easier to make these calls, to sign off on interventions in Libya or Somalia or Yemen or Mali or wherever else. [..]

From Glenn Greenwald‘s comments during the live blog of the debate at The Guardian:

9.34pm: Both candidates are eager to ignore the topic of this debate – foreign policy – in order to talk about the economy because they perceive, accurately, that this is what most voters care about, and because they don’t really have much to disagree in the foreign policy area. And so they are now dispensing with any pretense and regurgitating their economics debate.

But US foreign policy actually does have a significant relationship to the economy- namely, the massive military, the constant aggression, war and occupation, the hundreds of military bases around the world all drain resources away from far more constructive purposes – but neither of these two candidates will dare to question any of those imperial premises, so they can’t actually address the prime economic impact of US foreign policy. [..]

10.22pm: A primary reason this debate is so awful is because DC media people like Bob Scheiffer have zero interest in challenging any policy that is embraced by both parties, and since most foreign policies are embraced by both parties, he has no interest in challenging most of the issues that are relevant: drones, sanctions, Israel, etc.

10.34pm: That was just a wretched debate, with almost no redeeming qualities. It was substance-free, boring, and suffuse with empty platitudes. Bob Scheiffer’s questions were even more vapid and predictably shallow than they normally are, and one often forgot that he was even there (which was the most pleasant part of the debate.)

The vast majority of the most consequential foreign policy matters (along with the world’s nations) were completely ignored in lieu of their same repetitive slogans on the economy. When they did get near foreign policy, it was to embrace the fundamentals of each other’s positions and, at most, bicker on the margin over campaign rhetoric.

Numerous foreign policy analysts, commentators and journalists published lists of foreign policy questions they wanted to hear asked and answered at this debate. Almost none was raised. In sum, it was a perfect microcosm of America’s political culture.

10.56pm: Echoing a common refrain of progressives, Andrew Sullivan after the debate says that Obama has “restored America’s moral standing in the world”. I suppose one can say that if one excludes the entire Muslim world from “the world”, as many do, because in that rather large and important part of the world, there has been no restoration of any kind. Quite the opposite. See, just as a beginning, here, here, here, and here.

From lambert‘s Mission elapsed time: T + 45 and counting* at Corrente:

Obama vs. Romney Round III. Recently, I’ve started taking the bus into town, so I can caffeinate myself and work on my laptop in a milieu that could make me feel like I lived in a city again, if I were able to suspend disbelief, which I can’t.

Point being that I take the last bus home, and the last bus here, like last buses everywhere, is filled with characters. A selection of characters I’m highly confident is drawn from populations that are under this or that form of supervison. Most exhibit detailed knowledge of pharmaceuticals, especially barbiturates. Their language is technical and official. They are expert in brands, dosages, arrests, trials, hearings, sentences, and treatment regimens. They trade tips. Most present well; they speak fluently and often, especially of compliance, recovery, and the disasters of others.

And heaven knows what they do when they get home.

So, tonight, listening to our affectless, sweating, droning candidates speak so fluently and present so well, I couldn’t but be reminded of junkies on the last bus. Because it really is about the next fix with these guys, isn’t it? It always is, with junk. Oil, money, power: Junk. Right in the imperial vein.

From Gary Younge‘s comment at The Guardian:

Obama fires and Romney falters but third debate fails to find a flourish

The president did better than an unconvincing Romney – but it’s difficult to imagine this debate changed minds or won hearts

If the world could vote on 6 November, Barack Obama would win by a landslide. A global poll for the BBC World Service revealed that 20 out of 21 countries preferred the president to his challenger. But when you watched the presidential debate on foreign policy on Monday night you had to wonder why. Not because Mitt Romney was better, but because on matters of policy, Obama was almost as bad. It takes a friend to reveal the harsh truth to the global community, so here it is: “Obama’s just not that into you.”

No one could love Israel more, care less about the Palestinians, put more pressure on Iran or be a greater fan of drone attacks or invading Libya. Both candidates agreed that America’s task was to spread freedom around the world: nobody mentioned Guantánamo Bay, Abu Ghraib or rendition. “Governor, you’re saying the same things as us, but you’d say them louder,” said Obama. It was a good line. The trouble was it condemned them both.

Charles Pierce, in his analysis at Esquire noted some significant glaring ommissions:

A discussion of foreign policy that did not mention climate change. (Four debates and nary a mention. Somebody else is going to have to tell the polar bears.) A discussion of foreign policy that mentioned teacher’s unions exactly as many times – once – as it mentioned the Palestinians, and I am not making that statistic up. A discussion of foreign policy that did not mention hunger, or thirst, or epidemic disease, but spent better than ten minutes on The Fking Deficit. (Here Romney cited in defense of his position that noted political economist, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.) A discussion of foreign policy that was all about threats, real and imagined, and wars, real or speculative, and weapons, and how many of them we should build in order to feel safe in this dangerous world.

There is no light between them.

Oct 23 2012

Expanded Debate with the Other Presidential Candidates: Third Debate

Exclusive: As Obama and Romney Agree on Afghan War, Israel and Syria, Third Parties Give Alternative

In the last of our exclusive “Expanding the Debate” series, we bring you highlights of our coverage of last night’s final presidential debate between President Obama and Mitt Romney, with the added voices of third-party candidates. As Obama and Romney faced off for the last time before the general election, we once again broke the sound barrier by inserting Jill Stein of the Green Party and Rocky Anderson of the Justice Party into the discussion. In an evening focused on foreign policy, both Obama and Romney shared wide agreement on issues including support for the Israeli government, the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan, and opposition to U.S. military involvement in Syria. But they clashed over a few key points, including military spending, negotiating with Iran, and responding to the Libyan embassy attack. Before a live audience in San Rafael, California, we aired the Obama-Romney debate and paused the tape to give Stein and Anderson a chance to respond in real time to the same questions put to the major-party candidates.

Transcript here.

There is a Third Party debate scheduled for tonight at 9 PM EDT, October 23, in Chicago hosted by Larry King. None of the major networks or cable news sites are carrying the debate. C-Span had not yet decided of they would air the debate with four third-party candidates, Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson, Green Party nominee Jill Stein, Constitution Party nominee Virgil Goode, and Justice Party nominee Rocky Anderson, which is being hosted by the nonpartisan Free and Equal Elections Foundation. It will be carried live by Al Jazeera:

Link TV will also carry Al Jazeera English’s broadcast in areas where the network still isn’t available on the cable dial. In addition, Russia Today announced plans Friday to air the debate on the RT America television network and on RT.com. The debate will also be streamed by Ora TV, home to Larry King’s online talk show, and on Free and Equal’s site.

We will have the debate Live stream at both The Stars Hollow Gazette and Docudharma.

Oct 23 2012

In Memoriam: Russell Means 1939 – 2012

Native American activist, Russell Means, 72, died early yesterday of advanced esophageal cancer at his ranch in Porcupine, S.D., on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Mr. Means, an Oglala Sioux, was born in Pine Ridge and raised in the San Francisco bay area where his family relocated to escape the poverty of the reservation when he was three. He was a troubled youth, graduating high school but never finishing college. After his father’s death, he returned to living on reservations and found his niche in the American Indian Movement (AIM) in Minneapolis. In his 1995 autobiography, Where White Men Fear to Tread, Mr. Means recounts his journey from rage to healing.

He had become active for Native American rights in California where in 1964 he participated, along with his father, in the occupation of Alcatraz, reclaiming the abandoned island for the Sioux nation. He rose to national attention in 1970 with the occupation of the Mayflower II replica in Boston Harbor and a year later, he was one of the leaders of the take over of Mount Rushmore.

But it was in 1973, along with Dennis Banks and Charles Camp, that Mr. Means got the most national attention when he became the spokesman for the occupation of Wounded Knee S.D., site of the 1890 massacre of some 350 Lakota men, women and children in the last major conflict of the American Indian wars. The armed occupation by Native Americans and white sympathizers, lasted 71 days with thousands of shots fired, two deaths and a federal agent left paralyzed.

Mr. Means and his fellow protest leader Dennis Banks were charged with assault, larceny and conspiracy. But after a long federal trial in Minnesota in 1974, with the defense raising current and historic Indian grievances, the case was dismissed by a judge for prosecutorial misconduct.

Mr. Means was also an active politician, running for nomination of President of the United States under the Libertarian Party in 1987, losing to Ron Paul, whom he endorsed this year for president. He became involved in the international movement to protect the rights of indigenous people, working  with the United Nations to establish the offices of the International Indian Treaty Council in 1977. In 1985 and 1986, he went to Nicaragua to support indigenous Miskito Indians whose autonomy was threatened by the leftist Sandinista government. He reported Sandinista atrocities against the Indians and urged the Reagan administration to aid the victims. Millions in aid went to some anti-Sandinista groups, but a leader of the Miskito Indian rebels, Brooklyn Rivera, said his followers had not received any of that aid.

Starting in 1992, Mr. Means, a ruggedly handsome man with a scarred face, dark eyes and raven braids that fell ti his waist, turned to acting. In his most famous roles, he played chief “Chingachgook” in The Last of the Mohicans, and in Natural Born Killers, among others for television and videos.

A few months before receiving his cancer diagnosis, in a gesture of what he called mourning for the Lakota nation, Mr. Means cut off his braids explaining “the hair holds memories, and mourners often cut it to release those memories, and the people in them, to the spirit world.”

Russell Means on Reservation Life and Dying Languages from WildHeart Vision on Vimeo.

Mr. Means was married five times; the first four marriages ended in divorce. He was married to his fifth wife, Pearl Means until his death. He had a total of ten children and adopted many others in the Lakota tradition.

In their statement announcing Mr. Means’ passage to the spirit world his family extended an invitation to honor his life:

October 22, 2012…Porcupine, SD USA

Honoring the Life of Russell Means

The family of Russell Means invites you to join us in “Honoring the Life of Russell Means”.  The honoring will highlight his life, leadership and the eternal fire that he re-ignited throughout Indian Country.

October 24, 2012, begins at 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. MST, at Little Wound High School Gymnasium in Kyle, South Dakota USA, on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

Russell Means, a self-described “Oglala Freedom Fighter”, began his journey to the spirit world at 4:44 am, with the Morning Star, at his home and ranch in Porcupine.

This Honoring will be the first of four opportunities for the people to honor his life.  The next three Honorings are tentatively scheduled as follows:  2nd Honoring at Wounded Knee ’73 Occupation Memorial (Feb 2013); 3rd Honoring at Wind Cave State Park, SD (June 2013); 4th Honoring on Russell’s birthday (Nov 10, 2013) at location to be determined. [..]

Contributions of star quilts, blankets and food to feed the people will be appreciated, and may be brought on Wednesday, October 22, directly to Little Wound High School, Kyle, South Dakota.

Financial contributions to advance the visionary work of Russell Means can be sent to:

TREATY Total Immersion Educational Endowment Fund

Administrative Office

P.O. Box 110

San José, NM 87565

Paypal contributions can be made at: www.treatyschool.org

 

Oct 23 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

Robert Dreyfuss: The Iran Talks Bombshell

Don’t take too seriously the furious denials coming from Washington and Tehran about this weekend’s bombshell New York Times story reporting that the United States and Iran have agreed “in principle” to have direct, one-on-one talks after the election.

Both countries’ leaderships, sadly, have reasons to deny any such agreement, in public.

But the report ought to be filed under good news, since presumably the whole point of President Obama’s tough talk on Iran, keeping the military option “on the table,” imposing harsh economic sanctions, and meanwhile seeking talks was designed for precisely this result: that Iran’s ruling ayatollahs sit down with US diplomats. (Until now, all negotiations have been conducted under the auspices of the clumsy P5+1 world powers and Iran, but everyone knows that the real dispute was between Washington and Tehran. The Times reports that the agreement they report followed “intense, secret exchanges between American and Iranian officials” over a prolonged period.)

In the real world, however, Obama won’t trumpet the notion that talks might take place, for exactly the reason that they’re reportedly scheduled to be held after the election: because the assemblage of hawks, neoconservatives, erstwhile Romney ‘advisers,” and the Romney campaign itself-including the bumbling, often confused candidate-would use the idea of talks as a weapon to mobilize ignorant American voters against the president.

Dean Baker: Clinton Criticizes Voters for Not Appreciating the Great Economy He’s Given Them

Bill Clinton is undoubtedly the greatest politician of his generation. He is also a thoroughly reprehensible character.

Last week he had the gall to complain to people in Wisconsin about “impatient voters.” According to a news account, at an Obama rally in Green Bay he said:

   “This shouldn’t be a race … The only reason it is, is because Americans are impatient on things not made before yesterday and they don’t understand why the economy is not totally hunky-dory again.”

This is infuriating for two reasons. First, Clinton uses the term “impatient” like he is describing people waiting for their dinner to be served at restaurant. That’s not the story of the current economy. The story of the economy is people who do not have jobs or do not have jobs that give them enough hours or a high enough wage to allow them to pay their bills each month.

This is an economy where people are losing their homes and being evicted from their apartments. It is one where people can’t afford medical care or decent food and clothes for their kids. That is not story of impatience; it’s a story of real suffering.

Haroon Siddiqui: American Bombing of Iraq Left Legacy of Deformed Babies

Remember Falluja? That city in central Iraq was the scene of two furious attacks in 2004 by American Marines. That spring, they went on a bombing, shooting rampage to avenge the murder and mutilation of four American mercenaries. Instead of targeting the estimated 2,000 insurgents, the Marines almost leveled the city of 300,000, without conquering it. Seven months later, they attacked again with artillery and bombs in what was described as the bloodiest urban warfare involving Americans since the Vietnam War.

Remember Basra? That southern Iraqi city has been suffering since the first Gulf War, in 1991. Radioactive residue from the 800 tons of bombs and 1 million rounds of ammunition used was soon showing up in babies born with huge heads, abnormally large eyes, stunted arms, bloated stomachs and defective hearts. Later in the 1990s, Basra was hit as part of maintaining the American no fly zone on Saddam Hussein. It was attacked yet again in the 2003 American-British invasion and subsequent occupation.

Now we see that the children of Falluja and Basra are suffering a staggering rise in birth defects, primarily from the metals released by bombs, bullets and shells – the dust that gets into food, water, air, soil and crops.

Kristin Moe; Alberta Tar Sands Illegal Under Treaty 8, First Nations Charge

In 1899, First Nations in northern Alberta signed a treaty with Queen Victoria that enshrined their right to practice traditional lifeways. Today, it’s the basis for a legal challenge to Shell Oil’s mining of tar sands.

Fort Chipewyan is a small indigenous community on the edge of vast Lake Athabasca in Alberta’s remote north, accessible only by plane in summer and by snow road in winter. The town is directly downstream from the Alberta tar sands-Canada’s wildly lucrative, hotly debated, and environmentally catastrophic energy project.

Residents say that tar sands mining is not only dangerous but illegal because it violates the rights laid out in Treaty 8, an agreement signed in 1899 by Queen Victoria and various First Nations. Their legal challenge to the tar sands project could have a powerful impact on the legal role of treaties with First Nations people.

Karen Greenberg: Will the Apocalypse Arrive Online?

How Fear of Cyber Attack Could Take Down Your Liberties and the Constitution

First the financial system collapses and it’s impossible to access one’s money. Then the power and water systems stop functioning.  Within days, society has begun to break down.  In the cities, mothers and fathers roam the streets, foraging for food. The country finds itself fractured and fragmented — hardly recognizable.It may sound like a scene from a zombie apocalypse movie or the first episode of NBC’s popular new show “Revolution,” but it could be your life — a nationwide cyber-version of Ground Zero.

Think of it as 9/11/2015.  It’s Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta’s vision of the future — and if he’s right (or maybe even if he isn’t), you better wonder what the future holds for erstwhile American civil liberties, privacy, and constitutional protections.

Tom Junod; The Lethal Debate: Questions About Killing

The question that should be asked in tonight’s foreign-policy debate won’t be. The question that should be asked would have to do with the killing of American citizens in the name of foreign policy, and would go something like this: “President Obama, just over a year ago an American drone killed a 16-year-old American citizen named Abdulrahman al-Awlaki. Despite your personal involvement in America’s targeted killing programs, you have never acknowledged nor addressed the circumstances of his death. How do you justify such secrecy under the United States Constitution and do you, Governor Romney, also believe that such secrecy is justified?”

The question won’t be asked because the administration has done its utmost to convince the American public that it can’t be asked – to convince the American people that all information regarding the fate of an American-born teenager should remain classified, and that they are threatened not by the bulwark of official silence but rather by its breach. The question won’t be asked because the administration has managed the trick of taking credit for targeted killings in Yemen, Pakistan, Somalia, and elsewhere without revealing its hand in them, and because debates, after all, are not press conferences or instruments of investigation. We should not expect the Lethal President to reveal aspects of the Lethal Presidency while engaged in a spitting contest with a Republican challenger who has given every indication that his would not just be a Lethal Presidency but also a torturing one.

Sasha Lyutce: Turning “Big Ag” into “Better Ag”

As the stereotype goes, Americans like things BIG. Big cars. Big houses. And big mounds of produce to pick through at the supermarket. But when it comes to where that produce comes from, many American shoppers don’t like the idea of their fruits and vegetables coming from big farms. Indeed much of today’s movement around reforming our food system is focused on smaller, more local farming.

Now there’s absolutely nothing wrong with small and local farms. In fact, we probably need more small and medium-sized farms in every region of the country growing a greater diversity of crops-and there is actually some great news on this front. According to the Census of Agriculture, after declining for some time, the number of farms in the U.S. is actually on the upswing.

But our focus on size alone all too often misses the larger challenge (or opportunity, depending on your point of view). Rather than pitting big agriculture against small agriculture, we need to improve farming practices on all the acres where agriculture is taking place. And this means paying more attention to the vast majority of acres being farmed “conventionally” today, even if they ultimately fall short of a pastoral ideal. Ignoring conventional agriculture-the dominant means by which we produce food in this country-means missing a critical opportunity to improve environmental outcomes for our health, our soils, air, and water, and to drive broader reforms in our food system.

Oct 23 2012

On This Day In History October 23

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.

October 23 is the 296th day of the year (297th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 69 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1921, in the French town of Chalons-sur-Marne, an American officer selects the body of the first “Unknown Soldier” to be honored among the approximately 77,000 United States servicemen killed on the Western Front during World War I.

According to the official records of the Army Graves Registration Service deposited in the U.S. National Archives in Washington, four bodies were transported to Chalons from the cemeteries of Aisne-Marne, Somme, Meuse-Argonne and Saint-Mihiel. All were great battlegrounds, and the latter two regions were the sites of two offensive operations in which American troops took a leading role in the decisive summer and fall of 1918. As the service records stated, the identity of the bodies was completely unknown: “The original records showing the internment of these bodies were searched and the four bodies selected represented the remains of soldiers of which there was absolutely no indication as to name, rank, organization or date of death.”

The four bodies arrived at the Hotel de Ville in Chalons-sur-Marne on October 23, 1921. At 10 o’clock the next morning, French and American officials entered a hall where the four caskets were displayed, each draped with an American flag. Sergeant Edward Younger, the man given the task of making the selection, carried a spray of white roses with which to mark the chosen casket. According to the official account, Younger “entered the chamber in which the bodies of the four Unknown Soldiers lay, circled the caskets three times, then silently placed the flowers on the third casket from the left. He faced the body, stood at attention and saluted.”

Bearing the inscription “An Unknown American who gave his life in the World War,” the chosen casket traveled to Paris and then to Le Havre, France, where it would board the cruiser Olympia for the voyage across the Atlantic. Once back in the United States, the Unknown Soldier was buried in Arlington National Cemetery, near Washington, D.C.

The World War I Unknown lay in state in the Capitol Rotunda from his arrival in the United States until Armistice Day, 1921. On November 11, 1921, President Warren G. Harding officiated at the interment ceremonies at the Memorial Amphitheater at Arlington National Cemetery. During the ceremony, the World War I Unknown was awarded the Victoria Cross by Admiral of the Fleet Lord Beatty, on behalf of King George V of the United Kingdom. (The Victoria Cross being the highest award for valour issued in the UK, on par with the Medal of Honor. Earlier, on March 4, 1921, the British Unknown Warrior was conferred the U.S. Medal of Honor by General of the Armies John Pershing.) In 1928, the Unknown Soldier was presented the Silver Buffalo Award for distinguished service to America’s youth by the Boy Scouts of America.

Oct 23 2012

Your Brain After the Debates

Oct 23 2012

Plutocracy: “The Remains of the Old USA”

Plutocrats Want to Own Your Vote

by Bill Moyers and Michael Winsap

The new Gilded Age is roaring down on us — an un-caged tiger on a rampage. Walk out to the street in front of our office here in Manhattan, look to the right and you can see the symbol of it: a fancy new skyscraper going up two blocks away. When finished, this high rise among high rises will tower a thousand feet, the tallest residential building in the city.

The New York Times has dubbed it “the global billionaires’ club” — and for good reason. At least of two of the apartments are under contract for more than $90 million each. Others, more modest, range in price from $45 million to more than $50 million. The mega-rich have been buying these places “looking for a place to stash their cash,” a realtor from Sotheby’s explained to the Times. “A lot of what is happening,” she said, “… is about wealth preservation.”

Simultaneously, the powers-that-be have just awarded Donald Trump the right to run a golf course in the Bronx, which taxpayers are spending at least $97 million to build — what “amounts to a public subsidy,” says the indignant city comptroller, “for a luxury golf course.” Good grief — a handout to the plutocrat’s plutocrat.

This, in a city where economic inequality rivals that of a third-world country. Of America’s 25 largest cities, New York is now the most unequal. The median income for the bottom 20 percent last year was less than $9,000, while the top one percent of New Yorkers has an average annual income of $2.2 million. [..]

It’s snowballing. Timeshare king David Siegel of Westgate Resorts reportedly has threatened to fire employees if Barack Obama is re-elected and Arthur Allen, who runs ASG Software Solutions, emailed his employees, “If we fail as a nation to make the right choice on November 6th, and we lose our independence as a company, I don’t want to hear any complaints regarding the fallout that will most likely come.”

Back in the first the Gilded Age, in the 19th century, bosses in company towns lined up their workers and marched them to vote as a bloc. Now, the Gilded Age is back , with a vengeance. Welcome to the plutocracy — the remains of the ol’ USA.

Oct 23 2012

Bill Moyers: Power & Privileges of the One Percent

Matt Taibbi, contributing editor of Rolling Stone, and journalist Chrystia Freeland, author of the new book Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else, joined Bill Moyers for a discussion on how the super wealthy use their increasing wealth to fund political candidates who will serve their interests.

Example: Goldman Sachs, which gave more money than any other major American corporation to Barack Obama in 2008, is switching alliances this year; their employees have given $900,000 both to Mitt Romney’s campaign and to the pro-Romney super PAC Restore Our Future. Why? Because, says the Wall Street Journal, the Goldman Sachs gang felt betrayed by President Obama’s modest attempts at financial reform. [..]

“We have this community of rich people who genuinely believe that they are the wealth creators and they should get every advantage and break,” Taibbi tells Bill. “Whereas everybody else is a parasite and they’re living off of them”

Freeland adds, “You know, 2008 is not so long ago, and already, the anti-regulation chorus is so strong. How dare they have the gall to actually argue that too much regulation of American financial services is what is killing the economy?”

Ms. Freeland also penned an interesting article at Huffington Post on the problems of plutocrats in the late nineteenth century and how it compares with today’s plutocracy problem:

Henry George is the most famous American popular economist you’ve never heard of, a 19th century cross between Michael Lewis, Howard Dean and Ron Paul. Progress and Poverty, George’s most important book, sold three million copies and was translated into German, French, Dutch, Swedish, Danish, Spanish, Russian, Hungarian, Hebrew and Mandarin. During his lifetime, George was probably the third best-known American, eclipsed only by Thomas Edison and Mark Twain. He was admired by the foreign luminaries of the age, too — Leo Tolstoy, Sun-Yat Sen and Albert Einstein, who wrote that “men like Henry George are unfortunately rare. One cannot image a more beautiful combination of intellectual keenness, artistic form and fervent love of justice.” George Bernard Shaw described his own thinking about the political economy as a continuation of the ideas of George, whom he had once heard deliver a speech. [..]

What George found most mysterious about the economic consequences of the industrial revolution was that its failure to deliver economic prosperity was not uniform — instead it had created a winner-take-all society: “Some get an infinitely better and easier living, but others find it hard to get a living at all. The ‘tramp’ comes with the locomotives, and almshouses and prisons are as surely the marks of ‘material progress’ as are costly dwellings, rich warehouses and magnificent churches. Upon streets lighted with gas and patrolled by uniformed policeman, beggars wait for the passer-by, and in the shadow of college, and library, and museum, are gathering the more hideous Huns and fiercer Vandals of whom Macaulay prophesied.”

George’s diagnosis was beguilingly simple — the fruits of innovation weren’t widely shared because they were going to the landlords. This was a very American indictment of industrial capitalism: at a time when Marx was responding to Europe’s version of progress and poverty with a wholesale denunciation of private property, George was an enthusiastic supporter of industry, free trade and a limited role for government. His culprits were the rentier rich, the landowners who profited hugely from industrialization and urbanization, but did not contribute to it. [..]

America today urgently needs a 21st century Henry George — a thinker who embraces the wealth-creating power of capitalism, but squarely faces the inequity of its current manifestation. That kind of thinking is missing on the right, which is still relying on Reagan-era trickle-down economics and hopes complaints about income inequality can be silenced with accusations of class war. But the left isn’t doing much better either, preferring nostalgia for the high-wage, medium-skill manufacturing jobs of the post-war era and China-bashing to a serious and original effort to figure out how to make 21st century capitalism work for the middle class. [..]

We are living in an era of comparably tumultuous economic change. The great challenge of our time is to devise the new social and political institutions we need to make the new economy work for everyone. So far, that is a historic task neither party is taking on with enough energy, honesty or originality.

Oct 23 2012

2012 Presidential Debate 3

Thank goodness for Baseball.

Because they tape early Jon (D.L. Hughley) and Stephen (Donald Sadoway) will be mercifully free from actual debate coverage.  If even that is a mite too much there is always…

The Hypnotoad

"Television is a vast wasteland"
hypnotoad

Or you can watch a different kind of professional wrestling where the results are fixed.

This debate is back to the 10 minute segment, 2 for each candidate, 6 minutes of freestyle all the Very Serious Progressives agreed that Jim Lehrer did a bad job at because Obama lost.  My attitude is that if principles and fairness don’t matter more that personality worship and the jingoistic triumph of the tribe you can hardly claim to be very ‘progressive’ at all, let alone serious.

Most likely it will be a contest to see who can pander the most to Benjamin Netanyahu who is not to be confused with the State of Israel or the Jewish people.  Part of that is practicing anti-Muslim bigotry which is why Muslims like us so much.

Well, that and the fact that we keep stealing from them and killing their families and friends which are always sympathetic qualities calculated to influence hearts and minds.

As I said in Kill List it’s not really a question about them.  Just as with W you may be excused for not understanding initially who you were voting for and what their policies actually are.

After 4 years you have no excuse.

The question you have to answer for yourself is this one-

What will it take?  How many innocents will have to die before you can no longer ignore the corpses?

Are you a ‘Good German’ or not?

There are vast differences, vast I tell you!  At least the trains run on time!

Do they?

The group that consistently cares more about the deficit are, simply put, rich people. They don’t want their hard-earned massive tax cuts to get clawed back because the deficit gets so high that they can no longer use the “job creator” charade to shield themselves. So they obsess about the deficit, as a means to cut anything but their tax cuts. That’s the game. And the rich spend tens of millions to make that a reality, shaping opinions in Washington. The Democrats have sought to become the party of austerity in many ways to curry favor to a political class that demands so-called “fiscal responsibility.” But in reality, without our large deficit, we would not even have the recovery we have, a recovery that has outpaced the rest of the world, particularly in Europe, where they are mired in far more damaging austerity.

I confess that I find myself far more interested and invested in Sports Futures than I am in anything that’s likely to be said or done in Florida tonight.

This is an Open Thread.

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