10/25/2012 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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Dean Baker: Why Even President Obama Won’t Champion Social Security

Although millions of middle-class Americans strongly support social security, big bucks campaign donors hate it. That’s why

It is remarkable that social security hasn’t been a more prominent issue in the presidential race. After all, Governor Romney has proposed a plan that would imply cuts of more than 40% for middle-class workers just entering the labor force. Since social security is hugely popular across the political spectrum, it would seem that President Obama could gain an enormous advantage by clearly proclaiming his support for the program.

But President Obama has consistently refused to rise to the defense of social security. In fact, in the first debate, he explicitly took the issue off the table, telling the American people that there is not much difference between his position on social security and Romney’s.

Charles M. Blow: Paul Ryan’s Poverty Play

Paul Ryan gave a speech on poverty and economic mobility.

No, that’s not the beginning of one of those a-man-walks-into-a-bar jokes. It actually happened.

Ryan delivered the speech Wednesday in Cleveland. “In this war on poverty,” he said, “poverty is winning.” What he didn’t say is that he and his budget have taken sides in that war – and not on the side of the poor.

This is just the latest of Mitt Romney’s home-stretch attempts to kick up the dust of confusion, soften harsh rhetoric and policies, and slip into the White House.

But there’s a problem: Ryan’s budget was actually printed – on paper, at that. It was passed by the House in March. It can be examined and evaluated.

Margaret Kimberly: Freedom Rider: Not Voting for Obama

The top Democrat and Republican have clashed face-to-face three times – and emerged far more alike than different. “Given this degree of collusion, why would it be so terrible if Obama lost?” The presidential electoral exercise looks more like an exorcism in which both parties are the Devil.

Two weeks before Election Day, most polling indicates that Barack Obama has sufficient support to win an electoral college victory. If the past four years are any indication, that victory will do little to help the millions of people who put Obama in office. His claims of success are either dubious or obviously harmful for people in this country and around the world. [..]

On November 6th it is perfectly acceptable, morally right, and politically principled to boycott the election or to vote for a party other than the Democrats. Hand wringing about a Romney victory is mostly phony, and geared to keep progressives silent in the face of each new assault. Obama may win after all, but it shouldn’t be because people who claim to be on the left are complicit and a party to his wrongdoing.

Elaine Goldsmith: Is the Clock Turning Back for Women’s Rights?

Whether I like it or not, I am an old lady now. I won’t tell you how old — but trust me. As I watch the election, I find myself worrying about my granddaughters and great-granddaughters. Are we at risk of turning back the clock on women’s rights?

When I was young, my girlfriends and I all worked to make our lives count. We wanted our bodies to be ours — just as men’s are theirs. No one can tell a man what he can or can’t legally do to his body, nor should anyone tell a woman, either. We spoke out, organized, got our parents involved, and encouraged them to get their friends involved.

When Griswold v. Connecticut was decided in 1965, protecting the right to birth control, we knew change was possible. When Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973, giving women the right to choose, we knew change had arrived. Nobody is pro-abortion — but anyone who saw the world of back-alley abortions and botched procedures, as I did, would ever want to go back to those days.

Gail Collins: Connecticut Smack-Down

“I got into the race after looking at the faces of my six little grandchildren,” said Linda McMahon.

She is the Republican candidate for the United States Senate in Connecticut, and, over the last three years, she has spent more than $77 million attempting to get elected. When the little grandchildren are grown into the heirs to the McMahon family fortune, do you think they’ll regard that as a good choice?

Linda McMahon is famous for two things: spending piles and piles of money on Senate campaigns, and being a mogul in the world of professional wrestling. She and her husband, Vince, built the empire of sleeper holds and body slams that is known as World Wrestling Entertainment.

Robert Reich: Mitt Romney’s Question-Mark Economy

As we close in on Election Day, the questions about what Mitt Romney would do if elected grow even larger. Rarely before in American history has a candidate for president campaigned on such a blank slate.

Yet, paradoxically, not a day goes by that we don’t hear Romney, or some other exponent of the GOP, claim that businesses aren’t creating more jobs because they’re uncertain about the future. And the source of that uncertainty, they say, is President Obama — especially his Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and the Dodd-Frank Act, and uncertainties surrounding Obama’s plan to raise taxes on the wealthy.

In fact, Romney has created far more uncertainty. He offers a virtual question mark of an economy.

The Captains of Catfood and their Phoney Baloney Debt Crisis

The Captains of Catfood are getting ready for another big push to steal your Social Security.  Simpson and Bowles are getting into high gear again:

Fifty-eight million Americans saw President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney tangle over former Sen. Alan Simpson (R-Wyo.) and former White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles’s deficit reduction plan. “Simpson-Bowles” was the most popular Google search during the 90-minute debate.

But behind the scenes, the two deficit hawks are enjoying more than just a search engine moment. The pair is heading to Virginia’s Mount Vernon next week to meet with the new bipartisan Senate “Gang of Eight” in an effort to hash out a major deficit and tax package. …

Inside the Capitol, there’s an increasing recognition that any major deficit deal will at least need the imprimatur of Simpson and Bowles in order to win over votes from both sides of the aisle.

Along with former Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.), they’ve met with Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), upwards of half the Senate, major columnists and business leaders seeking support for a massive deficit compromise inspired by the original Simpson-Bowles framework.

Not content to merely lobby the heck out of congressmen, Pete Peterson’s favorite guys, Simpson and Bowles have raised $25 million to fund a “Campaign to Fix the Debt” and they’d like you to help the billionaires by volunteering to bird dog your congressmen.  Simpson and Bowles’ Wall Street Austerians Amen Corner has been abuzz with activity, too.  They’ve just issued marching orders to their government lackeys demanding that the president and congress fix the deficit problem.

Still seeking to push through his neoliberal austerity plan, President Obama says that he is eager to rekindle the negotiations to create a 4 trillion dollar grand bargain based upon Bowles and Simpson’s plan:

President Barack Obama laid out an astoundingly ambitious second-term agenda in an interview published Wednesday, vowing to forge a “grand bargain” with Republicans to reduce the national debt and achieve comprehensive immigration reform-all in 2013. …

“I am absolutely confident that we can get what is the equivalent of the grand bargain that essentially I’ve been offering to the Republicans for a very long time, which is $2.50 worth of cuts for every dollar in spending, and work to reduce the costs of our health care programs,” Obama said. (The White House quickly clarified that he meant $2.50 of spending cuts for every dollar in new tax revenue).

We can easily meet-‘easily’ is the wrong word-we can credibly meet the target that the Bowles-Simpson Commission established of $4 trillion in deficit reduction, and even more in the out-years, and we can stabilize our deficit-to-GDP ratio in a way that is really going to be a good foundation for long-term growth,” Obama said. “Now, once we get that done, that takes a huge piece of business off the table.”

The Election is Essentially Over and Spoiler Alert: Wall Street Won

I know it. You know it, so who are we kidding? I suppose anything can happen, but essentially the election is over and our President will very likely win the electoral college and the Democrats will keep the Senate and maybe pick up some new seats in the House. So I’m here to find meaning within it all, because I have not been able to grasp how shutting up during election season, but then speaking up after the election will make us “move froward.” Especially when the President and the filibuster-loving-set-to-do-nothing Congress do not have to care what we think at all afterwards.

They may get together for their grand bargain since many so called Democrats and Republicans are deficit terrorists and will work to tear down our social safety net in a bipartisan way for the mythical bond vigilantes and confidence fairies they believe in because Peter Peterson told them some scary bedtime stories in the chambers of Congress. This will all be hashed out in unrepresentative undemocratic gangs of 6 or 8 or 12 without our input. So what are we supposed to do when that happens and we are cut out? Make believe they still love us?

Or perhaps some think pointing this out is me being seduced by cynicism. Though I respect some who are arguing this now as opposed to the past, I have to vehemently disagree and I think I have a good case to make to counter that narrative.

On This Day In History October 25

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 25 is the 298th day of the year (299th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 67 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1774, the First Continental Congress sends a respectful petition to King George III to inform his majesty that if it had not been for the acts of oppression forced upon the colonies by the British Parliament, the American people would be standing behind British rule.

Despite the anger that the American public felt towards the United Kingdom after the British Parliament established the Coercive Acts, called the Intolerable Acts by the colonists, Congress was still willing to assert its loyalty to the king. In return for this loyalty, Congress asked the king to address and resolve the specific grievances of the colonies. The petition, written by Continental Congressman John Dickinson, laid out what Congress felt was undo oppression of the colonies by the British Parliament. Their grievances mainly had to do with the Coercive Acts, a series of four acts that were established to punish colonists and to restore order in Massachusetts following the Boston Tea Party..

Passage of the Acts

In Boston, Massachusetts, the Sons of Liberty protested against Parliament’s passage of the Tea Act in 1773 by throwing tons of taxed tea into Boston Harbor, an act that came to be known as the Boston Tea Party. News of the event reached England in January 1774. Parliament responded with a series of acts that were intended to punish Boston for this illegal destruction of private property, restore British authority in Massachusetts, and otherwise reform colonial government in America.

On April 22, 1774, Prime Minister Lord North defended the program in the House of Commons, saying:

The Americans have tarred and feathered your subjects, plundered your merchants, burnt your ships, denied all obedience to your laws and authority; yet so clement and so long forbearing has our conduct been that it is incumbent on us now to take a different course. Whatever may be the consequences, we must risk something; if we do not, all is over.

The Boston Port Act, the first of the acts passed in response to the Boston Tea Party, closed the port of Boston until the East India Company had been repaid for the destroyed tea and until the king was satisfied that order had been restored. Colonists objected that the Port Act punished all of Boston rather than just the individuals who had destroyed the tea, and that they were being punished without having been given an opportunity to testify in their own defense.

The Massachusetts Government Act provoked even more outrage than the Port Act because it unilaterally altered the government of Massachusetts to bring it under control of the British government. Under the terms of the Government Act, almost all positions in the colonial government were to be appointed by the governor or the king. The act also severely limited the activities of town meetings in Massachusetts. Colonists outside Massachusetts feared that their governments could now also be changed by the legislative fiat of Parliament.

The Administration of Justice Act allowed the governor to move trials of accused royal officials to another colony or even to Great Britain if he believed the official could not get a fair trial in Massachusetts. Although the act stipulated that witnesses would be paid for their travel expenses, in practice few colonists could afford to leave their work and cross the ocean to testify in a trial. George Washington called this the “Murder Act” because he believed that it allowed British officials to harass Americans and then escape justice. Some colonists believed the act was unnecessary because British soldiers had been given a fair trial following the Boston Massacre in 1770, with future Founding Father John Adams representing the Defense.

The Quartering Act applied to all of the colonies, and sought to create a more effective method of housing British troops in America. In a previous act, the colonies had been required to provide housing for soldiers, but colonial legislatures had been uncooperative in doing so. The new Quartering Act allowed a governor to house soldiers in other buildings if suitable quarters were not provided. While many sources claim that the Quartering Act allowed troops to be billeted in occupied private homes, historian David Ammerman’s 1974 study claimed that this is a myth, and that the act only permitted troops to be quartered in unoccupied buildings. Although many colonists found the Quartering Act objectionable, it generated the least protest of the Coercive Acts.

The Quebec Act was a piece of legislation unrelated to the events in Boston, but the timing of its passage led colonists to believe that it was part of the program to punish them. The act enlarged the boundaries of what was then the colony of “Canada” (roughly consisting of today’s Canadian provinces of Quebec and Ontario as well as the Great Lakes’ American watershed), removed references to the Protestant faith in the oath of allegiance, and guaranteed free practice of the Roman Catholic faith. The Quebec Act offended a variety of interest groups in the British colonies. Land speculators and settlers objected to the transfer of western lands previously claimed by the colonies to a non-representative government. Many feared the establishment of Catholicism in Quebec, and that the French Canadians were being courted to help oppress British Americans.

My Little Town 20121024: The Day I Met Allen Ginsberg

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.

This recollection is from a bit later in life rather than in childhood.  I was in graduate school at The University of Arkansas in Fayetteville and I am guessing that this happened around 1983, give or take a year of so.  The former Mrs. Translator had not yet had our first child, so the time sounds about right.

At the time The University of Arkansas was pretty much a run of the mill public university with a couple of notable exceptions:  the Chemistry Department and the English Department.  Those were recognized at outstanding at a national level and I am honored to have been part of the Chemistry Department.  Both of these departments were part of the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences.

2012 World Series- Tigers at Giants, Game 1

Bottom Line First

Much as I hate to admit it, I think the Tigers will beat the Giants despite-

The Inherent Senior League Advantage

With all the great players playing ball right now, how well do you think you would do against today’s pitchers?

Well, I figure against today’s pitchers I’d only probably hit about .290.

.290? Well that’s amazing, because you batted over .400 a… a whole bunch of times. Now tell us all, we’d all like to know, why do you think you’d only hit .290?

Well, I’m 72 fucking years old you ignorant son of a bitch.

Now I’m over 120 years old (mid 30s in 1923, do the math) so I got to see Ty Cobb play and “sadistic, slashing, swashbuckling despot who waged war in the guise of sport” is the way he described himself (I also agree with Al Stump about the less redeeming aspects of his character, revisionists are simply using contrarian posing and novelty to peddle their publications when they are not being willfully disingenuous to advance an agenda).

Back in the day (before 1973 so not all that long ago) there was no such thing as a ‘Designated Hitter’.  Strategically the very best things that can be said about it are that it eats up a roster position better used for a younger and more talented player to extend the career of a popular has been, and that it ‘saves’ your highly paid prima donna pitchers from the indignity of batting practice and injury.

Tactically it means that in any game you play in a Senior League Stadium you-

a) Have to bat a Pitcher for a likely out due to sheer lack of practice if nothing else (and still expose him to injury).

b) Have to field a player who, if he was any good at all any more, would still have a real job instead of riding the bench because he’s too hopelessly unco-ordinated and clumsy even for right field.

So you’re effectively ruining 2 positions out of the 9 in your line up, a 22% waste.

Does this ever work to your advantage?  No.  A Senior League Manager can point at any random player on his bench and reasonably expect him to be a better batter than his Pitcher (though not always, Babe Ruth could hit too).  Problem solved!

“ek,” you say, “why then are you picking the Junior League to win?”

Rotation, rotation, rotation

Are you getting dizzy yet?

Not that these couldn’t change mind you, but this is the way the match ups are setting up

Tigers Giants
Wednesday Verlander (17 – 8, 2.64 ERA) Zito (15 – 8, 4.15 ERA)
Thursday Fister (10 – 10, 3.45 ERA) Bumgarner (16 – 11, 3.37 ERA)
Saturday Sanchez (4 – 6, 3.74 ERA) Vogelsong (14 – 9, 3.37 ERA)
Sunday Scherzer (6 – 7, 3.74 ERA) Cain (16 – 5, 2.79 ERA)
*Monday Verlander (17 – 8, 2.64 ERA) Zito (15 – 8, 4.15 ERA)
*Wednesday Fister (10 – 10, 3.45 ERA) Bumgarner (16 – 11, 3.37 ERA)
*Thursday Verlander? (17 – 8, 2.64 ERA) Vogelsong (14 – 9, 3.37 ERA)

* == if needed.

I would pitch Verlander on 4 days rest, theoretically he could go 3 for a critical game.  He’s been throwing 130 pitch 8 inning outings in the post season and the man is an unstoppable winning machine.  The Giants have no one that even compares (spare me the whining about Cain, he’s looked good the last 2 games but was distinctly ordinary before that).

Bumgarner has been hopeless and there is no reason to expect a change.  Vogelson is probably a Giants victory.  Scherzer beats Cain twice on Sundays.

My natural sympathies are with the Seniors.  There is nothing unworthy about the Giants, you can find reasons they should win, but on paper the Tigers are superior and superior enough that they should be able to overcome their disadvantages.  Cabrera could start hitting like a Triple Crown winner for example.

So now I’m committed on paper.  Enjoy the World Series.

All games played on Faux.