Daily Archive: 01/22/2013

Jan 22 2013

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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Today is the 40th anniversary of Roe v Wade.

Kate Manning: Leeches, Lye and Spanish Fly

Women’s historical willingness to endure horrible dangers, to submit to extreme and prolonged pain, to risk grave injury and death rather than remain pregnant, tells us something important about female desperation and determination, and the price women were – and still are – willing to pay to control their own bodies. What it tells us is that women will always find ways to end an unwanted pregnancy, no matter what the law says, no matter the risks to themselves.

If the Supreme Court were ever to overturn Roe v. Wade, or if anti-abortion forces continue to successfully chisel away at a woman’s access to safe abortion, many women will still choose abortion – by their own hands. Leeches, lye and Spanish fly are still among the many tools available to the self-abortionist. So are knitting needles, with predictable, disastrous consequences. There is no law that will end the practice of abortion, only laws that can protect a woman’s right to choose it, or not, and to keep it the safe and private procedure still available to us in 2013, 40 years after the Supreme Court made it legal.

New York Times Editorial: A Chance to Fix the Senate

For six years, Democrats in the Senate have chafed at an unprecedented abuse of the filibuster by Republicans, who have used the practice to hold up nominees high and low and require a supermajority for virtually every bill. But now that they finally have an opportunity to end much of this delay and abuse, Democrats are instead considering only a few half-measures. [..]

With the support of 51 senators, the rules could be changed to require a “talking filibuster,” forcing those objecting to a bill to stand and explain their reasons, at length. The current practice of routinely requiring a 60-vote majority for a bill through a silent objection would end, breaking the logjam that has made the chamber a well of inefficiency and frustration.

Robert Kuttner: The State of Obama

President Obama has heartened progressives with many actions since his re-election. He seems to grasp that he has a lot more power to move public opinion than he used in his first term. He also understands that most of the Republican positions on the issues are unpopular with broad public, divisive within the Republican Party, and just plain bad policy.

So will he maximize his advantage? Or will the State of the Union be the occasion for more olive branches, more searching for common ground that doesn’t really exist.

American history shows that a leader does better being “president of all the people” by isolating a destructive opposition rather than splitting the difference with it. In his second inaugural, Lincoln famously and magnanimously declared, “With malice toward none and charity for all, let us bind up the nation’s wounds.” But first it was necessarily to defeat the South on the battlefield. The film, Lincoln, accurately underscored the reality that no compromise with the Confederacy was possible.

Paul Buchheit: The Extremist Cult of Capitalism

A ‘cult,’ according to Merriam-Webster, can be defined as “Great devotion to a person, idea, object, movement, or work..(and)..a usually small group of people characterized by such devotion.”

Capitalism has been defined by adherents and detractors: Milton Friedman said, “The problem of social organization is how to set up an arrangement under which greed will do the least harm, capitalism is that kind of a system.” John Maynard Keynes said, “Capitalism is the astounding belief that the most wickedest of men will do the most wickedest of things for the greatest good of everyone.” [..]

Capitalism is a cult. It is devoted to the ideals of privatization over the common good, profit over social needs, and control by a small group of people who defy the public’s will. The tenets of the cult lead to extremes rather than to compromise. Examples are not hard to find.

Glenn Greenwald: MLK’s Vehement Condemnations of US Militarism are More Relevant Than Ever

His vital April 4, 1967 speech is a direct repudiation of the sophistry now used to defend US violence and aggression

The civil right achievements of Martin Luther King are quite justly the focus of the annual birthday commemoration of his legacy. But it is remarkable, as I’ve noted before on this holiday, how completely his vehement anti-war advocacy is ignored when commemorating his life (just as his economic views are). By King’s own description, his work against US violence and militarism, not only in Vietnam but generally, was central – indispensable – to his worldview and activism, yet it has been almost completely erased from how he is remembered.

King argued for the centrality of his anti-militarism advocacy most eloquently on April 4, 1967, at Riverside Church in New York City – exactly one year before the day he was murdered. That extraordinary speech was devoted to answering his critics who had been complaining that his anti-war activism was distracting from his civil rights work (“Peace and civil rights don’t mix, they say. Aren’t you hurting the cause of your people, they ask?”). King, citing seven independent reasons, was adamant that ending US militarism and imperialism was not merely a moral imperative in its own right, but a prerequisite to achieving any meaningful reforms in American domestic life.

Rick Perlstein : Our Obama Bargain (Part 2 of 3)

Happy Re-inauguration Day. In a post last week, I wrote of the strangeness of our Obama, in his passion for bargaining with people who despise him, and his passion for envisioning deals that, even if struck, deliver nothing particularly good either in policy or political terms. The “bargain” becomes the end in itself, the holy grail. It certainly doesn’t establish trust with his bargaining partners. For instance, his unilateral pay freeze for federal workers announced after the 2010 “Tea Party” elections. That, of course, was meant to build his bona fides among Republicans as a fiscal conservative. How did that work out for you, BHO? [..]

Why is Barack Obama like this? Where does this anything-but-reality-based faith that lions can lay down with lambs come from? The curious thing is that you might have expected experiences of his formative years to have taught him the opposite lesson.

Robert Dreyfus: Obama’s Inaugural: A New Foreign Policy?

Let’s allow ourselves to hope, or imagine, for a moment that Barack Obama’s second inaugural address opens the door to a new American foreign policy.

Certainly, his speech was not a foreign policy address, skimming lightly over the top of where he intends to lead the country. But in two crucial paragraphs, there was no saber rattling, and his praises of our troops and their courage, and of America’s battle against “fascism and communism,” seemed, to me at least, perfunctory. Instead, he spoke of peace, and he stressed that “enduring security and lasting peace do not require perpetual war.” That, at the very least, is a slap in the face to George W. Bush and the neoconservatives, whose “Global War on Terror” was precisely “perpetual.”

And in a line that could be read as a signal to current adversaries, including Iran, Obama suggested that in the past, former enemies became “the surest of friends.”

Jan 22 2013

On This Day In History January 22

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.

January 22 is the 22nd day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. There are 343 days remaining until the end of the year (344 in leap years).

On this day in 1968, the NBC-TV show, “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In”, debuted “from beautiful downtown Burbank” on this night. The weekly show, produced by George Schlatter and Ed Friendly, then Paul Keyes, used 260 pages of jokes in each hour-long episode. The first 14 shows earned “Laugh-In” (as it was commonly called) 4 Emmys. And “you bet your bippy”, Nielsen rated it #1 for two seasons. Thanks to an ever-changing cast of regulars including the likes of Dan Rowan, Dick Martin, Arte Johnson, Goldie Hawn, Ruth Buzzi, JoAnne Worley, Gary Owens, Alan Sues, Henry Gibson, Lily Tomlin, Richard Dawson, Judy Carne, President Richard Nixon (“Go ahead, sock it to me!”), the show became the highest-rated comedy series in TV history.

Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In ran for 140 episodes from January 22, 1968, to May 14, 1973. It was hosted by comedians Dan Rowan and Dick Martin and was broadcast over NBC. It originally aired as a one-time special on September 9, 1967 and was such a success that it was brought back as a series, replacing The Man from U.N.C.L.E. on Mondays at 8 pm (EST).

The title, Laugh-In, came out of events of the 1960s hippie culture, such as “love-ins” or “be-ins.” These were terms that were, in turn, derived from “sit-ins”, common in protests associated with civil rights and anti-war demonstrations of the time.

The show was characterized by a rapid-fire series of gags and sketches, many of which conveyed sexual innuendo or were politically charged. The co-hosts continued the exasperated straight man (Rowan) and “dumb” guy (Martin) act which they had established as nightclub comics. This was a continuation of the “dumb Dora” acts of vaudeville, best popularized by Burns and Allen. Rowan and Martin had a similar tag line, “Say goodnight, Dick”.

Laugh-In had its roots in the humor of vaudeville and burlesque, but its most direct influences were from the comedy of Olsen and Johnson (specifically, their free-form Broadway revue Hellzapoppin’), the innovative television works of Ernie Kovacs, and the topical satire of That Was The Week That Was.

Jan 22 2013

In Memoriam: David W. Smith, Translator, 1957 – 2013

It is with the heaviest of hearts that I bring this sad news, Translator, aka Dr. David W. Smith died this past Sunday, January 20.

Dr. David W. Smith, 55, of Richmond, KY, passed away Sunday, January 20, 2013.

Dr. Smith was born in Fort Smith Arkansas on March 2, 1957, to Roy W. and Geraldine Sandlin Smith. He was a self employed Scientific Consultant.

Survivors include his three sons: Geoff, Justin and Jon Smith; his former wife: Teena Smith; one brother: Richard Smith; as well as a host of other family and friends.

Private services will be conducted at a later date.

The Combs, Parsons & Collins Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.

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David was our friend and fellow traveler through the universe who shared with us his passion for science, music and cooking. We extend our deepest condolences to his family and friends. We grieve with you.

Though we share this humble path, alone

How fragile is the heart

Oh give these clay feet wings to fly

To touch the face of the stars

Breathe life into this feeble heart

Lift this mortal veil of fear

Take these crumbled hopes, etched with tears

We’ll rise above these earthly cares

Cast your eyes on the ocean

Cast your soul to the sea

When the dark night seems endless

Please remember me…

May we all find Peace. Blessed Be.

Jan 22 2013

Congressional Game of Chicken: Fixing Filibuster Don’t Stop Now, Part VII

Don’t Stop Now! Call Reid’s office at 202-224-3542, and tell him to include the talking filibuster and/or flipping the burden of the filibuster.

Reform the Filbuster

Sign the Petition

Filibuster

TheMomCat

Will Harry Reid kill real filibuster reform? Vote is tomorrow, January 22.

1/21/2013 10:00am by Gaius Publius

(W)e should be calling Harry Reid’s office today and tomorrow (early morning EST):

    Harry Reid:

    (202) 224-3542

Reid also has four Nevada offices, all with phones. If you call:

  1. Tell him (politely) to act like a Democrat instead of a Beltway insider & Mitch McConnell’s virtual golfing buddy.
  2. Tell him to support the Merkley-Udall proposal and nothing less.
  3. Say if he doesn’t get real filibuster reform passed in the Senate, he owns the silent filibuster for the next two years. Every Republican obstruction will be his obstruction as well.

Let’s give him naming rights if he fails us like he did two years ago. The Senator Harry Reid Silent Filibuster™, brought to you by Senator Harry Reid, the Republicans’ new best friend in the Senate.

Other Dem senators who may be wavering:

Baucus Max MT D (202) 224-2651
Boxer Barbara CA D (202) 224-3553
Feinstein Dianne CA D (202) 224-3841
Heitkamp Heidi ND D (202) 224-2043
Hirono Mazie HI D (202) 224-6361
Leahy Patrick VT D (202) 224-4242
Reed Jack RI D (202) 224-4642

Make the call, please. Today… early (EST). Make several. I’d be shocked if the folks in the $800 suits hit the chambers anytime before 10 or 11am – gotta have time for those lobbyist breakfasts and all.

Harry Reid seeks middle path on filibuster

By MANU RAJU, Politico

1/17/13 6:41 PM EST

The contents of a filibuster reform package are not yet finalized, sources say, and Reid is still trying to cut a bipartisan deal with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to avert a partisan showdown on the floor next week. But Reid seems to have discarded one of the more far-reaching proposals sought by liberals – forcing senators to actually carry out a filibuster – because of fears that the plan would effectively kill the potent delaying tactic used frequently by the minority party.



Reid’s most pressing demand is to eliminate filibusters used to prevent debate on legislation from starting. He also wants to end filibusters used to prevent the Senate from convening conference committees with the House. And he’s eager to pare back the use of filibusters on certain presidential nominations.

Senators could still filibuster in any number of situations under this approach. But Reid is weighing whether to shift the burden of the filibuster from those who are seeking to defeat it onto those who are threatening to wage one. Rather than requiring 60 votes to break a filibuster, Reid is considering requiring at least 41 senators to sustain a filibuster. That would amount to a subtle shift to force opponents to ensure every senator is present in order to mount a filibuster.



Still, what Reid is considering would fall short of a plan pushed by Sens. Merkley, Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), who want to require anyone who is threatening to filibuster to actually carry one out on the floor – much like in the infamous movie classic, “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.”

Under their plan, if a filibuster is not defeated – but at least 51 senators want to overcome the delay tactic – senators who are obstructing would go to the floor and carry out the talk-a-thon. But once the senators stop talking, the Senate could overcome the filibuster with just 51 votes, rather than the 60 that is currently required.

Republicans and a handful of Democrats oppose this approach because they fear that it would effectively usurp the power of an individual senator to filibuster and effectively lower the threshold to overcome a filibuster from 60 votes to 51.

To repeat-

(W)e should be calling Harry Reid’s office today and tomorrow (early morning EST):

    Harry Reid:

    (202) 224-3542

Reid also has four Nevada offices, all with phones. If you call:

  1. Tell him (politely) to act like a Democrat instead of a Beltway insider & Mitch McConnell’s virtual golfing buddy.
  2. Tell him to support the Merkley-Udall proposal and nothing less.
  3. Say if he doesn’t get real filibuster reform passed in the Senate, he owns the silent filibuster for the next two years. Every Republican obstruction will be his obstruction as well.

Let’s give him naming rights if he fails us like he did two years ago. The Senator Harry Reid Silent Filibuster™, brought to you by Senator Harry Reid, the Republicans’ new best friend in the Senate.

Other Dem senators who may be wavering:

Baucus Max MT D (202) 224-2651
Boxer Barbara CA D (202) 224-3553
Feinstein Dianne CA D (202) 224-3841
Heitkamp Heidi ND D (202) 224-2043
Hirono Mazie HI D (202) 224-6361
Leahy Patrick VT D (202) 224-4242
Reed Jack RI D (202) 224-4642

Make the call, please. Today… early (EST). Make several. I’d be shocked if the folks in the $800 suits hit the chambers anytime before 10 or 11am – gotta have time for those lobbyist breakfasts and all.