Daily Archive: 04/24/2013

Apr 24 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”.

Wednesday is Ladies’ Day

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Katrina vanden Heuvel: Austerity doctrine is exposed as flimflam

The austerity claque got it wrong. And the harsh bill is being paid by millions of Americans and millions more in Europe in jobs lost, homes foreclosed, families split apart, hopes crushed.

They can’t repay the costs of their folly. We don’t really need an apology. But could they at least get out of the way so we could get on with the jobs programs that we should have undertaken years ago?

Austerity has been tried and found wanting in practice. Instead of expansion and growth, Europe has been driven back into recession. With Britain’s credit rating downgraded, its economy contracting, its unemployment rolls soaring, its debts rising, three years of rosy forecasts shredded, Tory Chancellor George Osborne’s tears at the lavish funeral for Margaret Thatcher may well have been for the burial of his own reputation. Britain is “playing with fire,” warned the International Monetary Fund’s chief economist, Olivier Blanchard, who told Sky News, “The danger of having no growth, or very little growth, for a long time, is very high. You get a number of vicious circles that come into play.”

Kathrine Stewart: The Rightwing Donors Who Fuel America’s Culture Wars

In general, US public opinion is trending liberal. Not that you’d know it from state legislatures bought by conservatives dollars

The laws and bills emerging from many of America’s statehouses are farther to the right than they’ve ever been. But the population overall continues to trend moderately leftward. How to explain this growing divergence between the government and the people?

Mostly, it’s about the money. [..]

In recent years, the relative impact of money on our political system has gone up. Part of this is due to the US supreme court: by identifying money with speech, it has endowed rich people and corporations to speak loudly in the public sphere. Another part is due to the privatization of the lawmaking process. Groups like Alec, SPN, and Americans United for Life now serve as de facto lawmakers in many state governments. Such organizations bring together in secret meetings big donors with the politicians who need their campaign contributions, and then provide the legislation, word for word, that will make the money move from one pocket to the other.

Leslie Savan: The Media and the ‘Dark-Skinned’ Men from Chechnya

Jake Tapper had been up all night covering the manhunt in Boston for CNN, so maybe that explains why he seemed to rush to judgment when he said of the bombing suspects: “It certainly seems these two are Islamic terrorists.”

“Yes, but those are two separate words,” Juliette Kayyem, a CNN contributor and former homeland security official, reminded Tapper. Technically, literally, he’s not inaccurate: The two brothers, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, who died in a shootout with police last night, and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, who is apparently cornered by police as I post this, are Muslim and allegedly are terrorists. But all morning long, Kayyem had been cautioning viewers and fellow journalists not to jump to conclusions (as CNN’s John King so infamously did two days ago when he wrongly reported that a “dark-skinned male” had been arrested in connection with the bombing.) “The fact that they’re from Chechnya,” Kayyem said, “is not a motivation.”

Renee Parsons: Boston Manhunt Challenges Constitutional Principles

It was with great relief when the manhunt and apprehension for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev brought one chapter of the Boston Marathon bombing to a conclusion – even as that manhunt raised important legal, constitutional questions.   Friday was obviously a terrifying experience for the citizens of Boston and especially Watertown –  it was a surreal and disturbing event even for a distant viewer glued to the television as I was that day.

Almost immediately, the overwhelming presence of heavily attired swat teams with assault weapons, armored tanks with machine guns, Blackhawk helicopters circling, and empty neighborhood streets created a frightening futuristic vision of a police state with civilians locked inside.  Not to minimize the injuries and trauma inflicted by the dastardly deed, the simultaneous explosion of a fertilizer plant in Texas killed and injured more people and did considerably more damage but what was happening on the streets of Boston, the cradle of the American Revolution, was the equivalent of martial law with precedent-setting warrantless house to house searches by heavily armed civil law enforcement tactical teams that had morphed into a military presence.

Melissa Gira Grant: Ending Prostitution ‘Central’ to Ending AIDS, US Tells Supreme Court

On the steps of the Supreme Court yesterday morning, shortly before arguments began on the constitutionality of compelling aid recipients to oppose prostitution, a dozen or so students in marigold hooded sweatshirts won the color-coordinated insignia game. Outside a photo op or two, the small group of activists with red umbrellas-which signal support for sex workers’ rights-left them folded at their feet. Sex workers, it appeared, would be as nearly invisible outside the Court as they would be in the arguments made within.

As expected, Deputy Solicitor General Sri Srinivasan, attorney for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), who appealed the pledge case to the Supreme Court, was stuck defending an argument for which there’s no evidence other than the persistence of its supporters in claiming it to be true. That is, to oppose prostitution, Srinivasan argued, is central to the “reliable and effective” function of the United States’ fight against HIV.

Chloe Angyal: The ‘Thinspiration’ Behind an Impossible Ideal of Beauty

Ever heard of thinspiration? Google it-actually, on second thought, don’t, unless you want to fall down a rabbit hole into the deeply disturbing world of explicitly pro-anorexia, pro-bulimia blogs and websites.

The pro-ana and pro-mia communities are, well, exactly what they sound like. They promote weight loss and maintenance though anorexic and bulimic behaviors, holding up self-starvation and purging as ways to become and stay beautiful, and to prove one’s self-discipline. In other words, they frame disordered behaviors as a lifestyle, and not as the symptoms of mental illness. The purpose of thinspiration communities is to support those who are suffering from eating disorders not in seeking help, but in being “better” anorexics and bulimics. In fact, they discourage seeking help, insisting that starving oneself or purging after eating is a healthy, admirable way to live.

Like I said, you probably don’t want to Google it.

Apr 24 2013

The Reinhart and Rogoff Errors Discredit the Obama Administration and Austerity

Yes they do. I have heard a statement that bugs me a lot lately and that statement is that this was the go to analysis for the Republicans as if Democrats have never referred to it in any way. I’m here to say that is complete BS and we know this now. The Sequester created by the WH and passed in a bipartisan way, was based on Reinhart and Rogoff’s BS analysis about scary scary long term debt to GDP ratios like their offer to cut Social Security.

So let’s stop pretending this is only coming from Republicans, especially with the Obama administration using deficit lies and errors to come after Social Security. Reinhart and Rogoff’s complete methodology was BS and neither of them understand the nuanced difference between countries with a sovereign currency; fixed exchange rates and floating exchange rates; gold standard countries and those with a fiat currency and how that relates to reserve banking at the Fed and our private current account and trade balance within. So therefore it skews the mean and amounts to garbage methodology even if done correctly.

I love How Mike Norman puts it. It kind of reminds me of how I would say it; those of you that are familiar with my work.

There’s a solid account tying the Obama administration directly to the work of Reinhart and Rogoff. You will learn more about this below the fold.

Apr 24 2013

On This Day In History April 24

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.

(Click on images to enlarge)

April 24 is the 114th day of the year (115th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 251 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1916, Easter Rebellion begins.

On Easter Monday in Dublin, the Irish Republican Brotherhood, a secret organization of Irish nationalists led by Patrick Pearse, launches the so-called Easter Rebellion, an armed uprising against British rule. Assisted by militant Irish socialists under James Connolly, Pearse and his fellow Republicans rioted and attacked British provincial government headquarters across Dublin and seized the Irish capital’s General Post Office. Following these successes, they proclaimed the independence of Ireland, which had been under the repressive thumb of the United Kingdom for centuries, and by the next morning were in control of much of the city. Later that day, however, British authorities launched a counteroffensive, and by April 29 the uprising had been crushed. Nevertheless, the Easter Rebellion is considered a significant marker on the road to establishing an independent Irish republic.

Following the uprising, Pearse and 14 other nationalist leaders were executed for their participation and held up as martyrs by many in Ireland. There was little love lost among most Irish people for the British, who had enacted a series of harsh anti-Catholic restrictions, the Penal Laws, in the 18th century, and then let 1.5 million Irish starve during the Potato Famine of 1845-1848. Armed protest continued after the Easter Rebellion and in 1921, 26 of Ireland’s 32 counties won independence with the declaration of the Irish Free State. The Free State became an independent republic in 1949. However, six northeastern counties of the Emerald Isle remained part of the United Kingdom, prompting some nationalists to reorganize themselves into the Irish Republican Army (IRA) to continue their struggle for full Irish independence.

Background

The Act of Union 1801 united the Kingdom of Great Britain and the Kingdom of Ireland, abolishing the Irish Parliament and giving Ireland representation at Westminster. From early on, many Irish nationalists opposed the union and what was seen as the exploitation of the country.

Opposition took various forms: constitutional (the Repeal Association; the Home Rule League), social (disestablishment of the Church of Ireland; the Land League) and revolutionary (Rebellion of 1848; Fenian Rising). Constitutional nationalism enjoyed its greatest success in the 1880s and 1890s when the Irish Parliamentary Party under Charles Stewart Parnell succeeded in having two Home Rule bills introduced by the Liberal government of William Ewart Gladstone, though both failed. The First Home Rule Bill of 1886 was defeated in the House of Commons, while the Second Home Rule Bill of 1893 was passed by the Commons but rejected by the House of Lords. After the fall of Parnell, younger and more radical nationalists became disillusioned with parliamentary politics and turned towards more extreme forms of separatism. The Gaelic Athletic Association, the Gaelic League and the cultural revival under W. B. Yeats and Lady Augusta Gregory, together with the new political thinking of Arthur Griffith expressed in his newspaper Sinn Féin and the organisations the National Council and the Sinn Féin League led to the identification of Irish people with the concept of a Gaelic nation and culture, completely independent of Britain. This was sometimes referred to by the generic term Sinn Féin.

The Third Home Rule Bill was introduced by British Prime Minister H. H. Asquith in 1912. The Irish Unionists, led by Sir Edward Carson, opposed home rule in the light of what they saw as an impending Roman Catholic-dominated Dublin government. They formed the Ulster Volunteer Force on 13 January 1913.

The Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB) saw an opportunity to create an armed organisation to advance its own ends, and on 25 November 1913 the Irish Volunteers, whose stated object was “to secure and to maintain the rights and liberties common to all the people of Ireland”, was formed. Its leader was Eoin MacNeill, who was not an IRB member. A Provisional Committee was formed that included people with a wide range of political views, and the Volunteers’ ranks were open to “all able-bodied Irishmen without distinction of creed, politics or social group.” Another militant group, the Irish Citizen Army, was formed by trade unionists as a result of the Dublin Lockout of that year. However, the increasing militarisation of Irish politics was overshadowed soon after by the outbreak of a larger conflict-the First World War  and Ireland’s involvement in the conflict.

Apr 24 2013

The World Is a Battlefield

Since after 9/11, the United States has been engaged in a global war on terror (GWOT). Even as the illegal was in Iraq has allegedly ended and the one in Afghanistan finally begins to wind down almost 2 years after Osama bin Laden’s assassination, the US has widened its war in East Asia to the Arabian Peninsula and Africa sending in military on the ground as “advidsors” and unmanned armed drones to carry out “targeted strikes.” The world is now the battlefield for the US military and its contractors who are bleeding the American tax payer under the guise os keeping us safe. But are they keeping us safe? The reality is starting to surface. According to news sources the alleged Boston Marathon bombing suspect told investigators that the attack was spurred by their anger at America’s continued wars and its assault in Islam.

Yemeni journalist Farea Al-Muslimi testified before the Senate Judiciary’s subcommittee on the Constitution, civil rights and human rights. He told the committee what American’s need to hear:

“Just six days ago, my village was struck by a drone, in an attack that terrified thousands of simple, poor farmers.

“The drone strike and its impact tore my heart, much as the tragic bombings in Boston last week tore your hearts and also mine.

“What radicals had previously failed to achieve in my village, one drone strike accomplished in an instant: there is now an intense anger and growing hatred of America.”

We needed to hear this a very long time ago, long before 9/11.

Jeremy Scahill, author and National Security Correspondent for The Nation magazine, joined Amy Goodman in an interview on Democracy Now to discuss the his project Dirty Wars which has produced a documentary and soon to be released book,“Dirty Wars: The World Is a Battlefield.”

The book is based on years of reporting on U.S. secret operations in Yemen, Somalia and Afghanistan. While the Obama administration has defended the killing of Anwar, it has never publicly explained why Abdulrahman was targeted in a separate drone strike two weeks later. Scahill reveals CIA Director John Brennan, Obama’s former senior adviser on counterterrorism and homeland security, suspected that the teenager had been killed “intentionally.” “The idea that you can simply have one branch of government unilaterally and in secret declare that an American citizen should be executed or assassinated without having to present any evidence whatsoever, to me, is a – we should view that with great sobriety about the implications for our country,” says Scahill, national security correspondent for The Nation magazine. Today the U.S. Senate is preparing to hold its first-ever hearing on the Obama administration’s drone and targeted killing program. However, the Obama administration is refusing to send a witness to answer questions about the program’s legality.

The Secret Story Behind Obama’s Assassination of Two Americans in Yemen