Daily Archive: 05/19/2013

May 19 2013

Anti-Capitalist Meetup: Money and Magic Beans by Northsylvania

“Once upon a time there was a poor mother who lived alone with her son, Jack. All they had in the world was an old cow to give them milk. One day the cow stopped giving milk so the woman had to sell her. She told Jack to take the cow to market and to get as much money as he could for her.

On his way to market Jack met a man who wanted to buy the cow. He offered Jack five beans for the cow. Jack knew that his mother would be very angry if he sold the cow for beans. “They are very special beans” said the man. “They are MAGIC ! – they will bring you good luck!” Jack thought that he and his mother needed some good luck, so he gave the cow to the man in return for the magic beans.”

    Jack’s tale begins with some economic truths: trade is grounded in the perceived fair value of an exchange of goods and services and, in times of hardship, people will accept forms of trade that they might not consider otherwise. Fortunately, the old man did not take advantage of Jack’s naive ideas of fair value, as the beans were indeed magic. (Why the man was willing to trade them for a spent cow remains open to question.)

    Most of us make less fanciful decisions, and consider carefully whether an item we are purchasing is a good value, but until recently, most of us have not questioned the inherent worth of cash in pocket, the piece of plastic that represents funds in our account, the place where this money is kept, or the balance between trust and government regulation that keeps the entire system running. Since the financial crash things have begun to change. Kos diarists have examined the role the banks play on a personal level: skimming a little off every transaction, and assessing excessive fees. Others, particularly bobswern and gjohnsit, have assessed the banks’ culpability in crippling the system itself.

This trend has accelerated to the point that trust in banks is becoming increasingly difficult. Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi has shown the breadth and depth of manipulations meant to keep tight control of money in a few centers. He also shows exactly how national governments, their courts and regulatory authorities, have become helpless or even complicit in this process.

It’s now evident that there is a ubiquitous culture among the banks to collude and cheat their customers as many times as they can in as many forms as they can conceive,” he said. “And that’s not just surmising. This is just based upon what they’ve been caught at.

The foundation of the Capitalist system itself has been called into question, at least in its present incarnation. If governments can’t regulate their own money supply for the benefit of the majority of their own citizens, and banks abuse their position shamelessly on account of that, people will eventually turn elsewhere. I believe that the rise of virtual currencies, such as the Bitcoin, and alternative trading schemes, such as local scrip and barter exchanges, are symptoms of an economic system that is bent to the breaking point.  

May 19 2013

Rant of the Week: Stephen Colbert, Asparagusgate

Asparagusgate

The House Judiciary Committee grills Attorney General Eric Holder, and Louie Gohmert accuses Holder of casting aspersions on his asparagus.

“How dare you cast aspersion on that man’s asparagus! What is next, sir? Libeling his lettuce? Questioning his quinoa? Arguing with his arugula? Repudiating his rutabaga?! Vilifying his vinaigrette before drizzling it on his scandal salad?”

May 19 2013

On This Day In History May 19

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.

May 19 is the 139th day of the year (140th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 226 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1935, T.E. Lawrence, better known as Lawrence of Arabia, dies from injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident near his home in Dorset, England.

Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Edward Lawrence, CB, DSO (16 August 1888 – 19 May 1935) was a British Army officer renowned especially for his liaison role during the Arab Revolt against Ottoman Turkish rule of 1916-18. The extraordinary breadth and variety of his activities and associations, and his ability to describe them vividly in writing, earned him international fame as Lawrence of Arabia, a title popularised by the 1962 film based on his First World War activities.

Lawrence was born illegitimately in Tremadog, Wales in August 1888 to Sir Thomas Chapman and Sarah Junner, a governess, who was herself illegitimate. Chapman left his wife to live with Sarah Junner, and they called themselves Mr and Mrs Lawrence. In the summer of 1896 the Lawrences moved to Oxford, where from 1907 to 1910 young Lawrence studied history at Jesus College, graduating with First Class Honours. He became a practising archaeologist in the Middle East, working with David George Hogarth and Leonard Woolley on various excavations. In January 1914, following the outbreak of the First World War, Lawrence was co-opted by the British military to undertake a military survey of the Negev Desert while doing archaeological research.

Lawrence’s public image was due in part to American journalist Lowell Thomas‘ sensationalised reportage of the revolt as well as to Lawrence’s autobiographical account Seven Pillars of Wisdom (1922).

Arab revolt

At the outbreak of the First World War Lawrence was a university post-graduate researcher who had for years travelled extensively within the Ottoman Empire provinces of the Levant (Transjordan  and Palestine) and Mesopotamia (Syria and Iraq) under his own name. As such he became known to the Turkish Interior Ministry authorities and their German technical advisors. Lawrence came into contact with the Ottoman-German technical advisers, travelling over the German-designed, built, and financed railways during the course of his researches.

Even if Lawrence had not volunteered, the British would probably have recruited him for his first-hand knowledge of Syria, the Levant, and Mesopotamia. He was eventually posted to Cairo on the Intelligence Staff of the GOC Middle East.

Contrary to later myth, it was neither Lawrence nor the Army that conceived a campaign of internal insurgency against the Ottoman Empire in the Middle East, but rather the Arab Bureau of Britain’s Foreign Office. The Arab Bureau had long felt it likely that a campaign instigated and financed by outside powers, supporting the breakaway-minded tribes and regional challengers to the Turkish government’s centralised rule of their empire, would pay great dividends in the diversion of effort that would be needed to meet such a challenge. The Arab Bureau had recognised the strategic value of what is today called the “asymmetry” of such conflict. The Ottoman authorities would have to devote from a hundred to a thousand times the resources to contain the threat of such an internal rebellion compared to the Allies’ cost of sponsoring it.

At that point in the Foreign Office’s thinking they were not considering the region as candidate territories for incorporation in the British Empire, but only as an extension of the range of British Imperial influence, and the weakening and destruction of a German ally, the Ottoman Empire.

During the war, Lawrence fought with Arab irregular troops under the command of Emir Faisal, a son of Sherif Hussein of Mecca, in extended guerrilla operations against the armed forces of the Ottoman Empire. He persuaded the Arabs not to make a frontal assault on the Ottoman stronghold in Medina but allowed the Turkish army to tie up troops in the city garrison. The Arabs were then free to direct most of their attention to the Turks’ weak point, the Hejaz railway that supplied the garrison. This vastly expanded the battlefield and tied up even more Ottoman troops, who were then forced to protect the railway and repair the constant damage.

The capture of Aqaba

In 1917, Lawrence arranged a joint action with the Arab irregulars and forces under Auda Abu Tayi (until then in the employ of the Ottomans) against the strategically located but lightly defended town of Aqaba. On 6 July, after a surprise overland attack, Aqaba fell to Lawrence and the Arab forces. After Aqaba, Lawrence was promoted to major. Fortunately for Lawrence, the new commander-in-chief of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force, General Sir Edmund Allenby, agreed to his strategy for the revolt, stating after the war:

   “I gave him a free hand. His cooperation was marked by the utmost loyalty, and I never had anything but praise for his work, which, indeed, was invaluable throughout the campaign.”

Lawrence now held a powerful position, as an adviser to Faisal and a person who had Allenby’s confidence.

The Fall of Damascus

The following year, Lawrence was involved in the capture of Damascus in the final weeks of the war and was promoted to lieutenant-colonel in 1918. In newly liberated Damascus-which he had envisioned as the capital of an Arab state-Lawrence was instrumental in establishing a provisional Arab government under Faisal. Faisal’s rule as king, however, came to an abrupt end in 1920, after the battle of Maysaloun, when the French Forces of General Gouraud under the command of General Mariano Goybet http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M… entered Damascus, breaking Lawrence’s dream of an independent Arabia.

As was his habit when traveling before the war, Lawrence adopted many local customs and traditions (many photographs show him in the desert wearing white Arab dishdasha and riding camels).

During the closing years of the war he sought, with mixed success, to convince his superiors in the British government that Arab independence was in their interests. The secret Sykes-Picot Agreement between France and Britain contradicted the promises of independence he had made to the Arabs and frustrated his work.

In 1918 he co-operated with war correspondent Lowell Thomas for a short period. During this time Thomas and his cameraman Harry Chase shot a great deal of film and many photographs, which Thomas used in a highly lucrative film that toured the world after the war.

Seven Pillars of Wisdom

Lawrence’s major work is Seven Pillars of Wisdom, an account of his war experiences. In 1919 he had been elected to a seven-year research fellowship at All Souls College, Oxford, providing him with support while he worked on the book. In addition to being a memoir of his experiences during the war, certain parts also serve as essays on military strategy, Arabian culture and geography, and other topics. Lawrence re-wrote Seven Pillars of Wisdom three times; once “blind” after he lost the manuscript while changing trains at Reading railway station.

The list of his alleged “embellishments” in Seven Pillars is long, though many such allegations have been disproved with time, most definitively in Jeremy Wilson‘s authorised biography. However Lawrence’s own notebooks refute his claim to have crossed the Sinai Peninsula from Aqaba to the Suez Canal in just 49 hours without any sleep. In reality this famous camel ride lasted for more than 70 hours and was interrupted by two long breaks for sleeping which Lawrence omitted when he wrote his book.

Lawrence acknowledged having been helped in the editing of the book by George Bernard Shaw. In the preface to Seven Pillars, Lawrence offered his “thanks to Mr. and Mrs. Bernard Shaw for countless suggestions of great value and diversity: and for all the present semicolons.”

The first public edition was published in 1926 as a high-priced private subscription edition, printed in London by Roy Manning Pike and Herbert John Hodgson, with illustrations by Eric Kennington, Augustus John, Paul Nash, Blair Hughes-Stanton and his wife Gertrude Hermes. Lawrence was afraid that the public would think that he would make a substantial income from the book, and he stated that it was written as a result of his war service. He vowed not to take any money from it, and indeed he did not, as the sale price was one third of the production costs. This left Lawrence in substantial debt.

Death

At the age of 46, two months after leaving the service, Lawrence was fatally injured in an accident on his Brough Superior SS100 motorcycle in Dorset, close to his cottage, Clouds Hill, near Wareham. A dip in the road obstructed his view of two boys on their bicycles; he swerved to avoid them, lost control and was thrown over the handlebars. He died six days later on 19 May 1935. The spot is marked by a small memorial at the side of the road.

The circumstances of Lawrence’s death had far-reaching consequences. One of the doctors attending him was the neurosurgeon Hugh Cairns. He was profoundly affected by the incident, and consequently began a long study of what he saw as the unnecessary loss of life by motorcycle dispatch riders through head injuries. His research led to the use of crash helmets by both military and civilian motorcyclists.

Moreton Estate, which borders Bovington Camp, was owned by family cousins, the Frampton family. Lawrence had rented and later bought Clouds Hill from the Framptons. He had been a frequent visitor to their home, Okers Wood House, and had for years corresponded with Louisa Frampton. On Lawrence’s death, his mother arranged with the Framptons for him to be buried in their family plot at Moreton Church. His coffin was transported on the Frampton estate’s bier. Mourners included Winston and Clementine Churchill and Lawrence’s youngest brother, Arnold.

A bust of Lawrence was placed in the crypt at St Paul’s Cathedral and a stone effigy by Eric Kennington remains in the Anglo-Saxon church of St Martin, Wareham

May 19 2013

Punting the Pundits: Sunday Preview Edition

Punting the Punditsis 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

The Sunday Talking Heads:

Up with Steve Kornacki: Joining Steve are: Margie Omero, democratic pollster, managing director, Purple Strategies; Alan Abramowitz, political science professor, Emory University; Rick Hertzberg, writer, The New Yorker; Liz Kennedy, counsel, Demos; Mark Elias, attorney, Perkins Coie, chairman of the firm’s political law practice; Kim Barker, reporter, ProPublica; and Chaumtoli Huq, professor, New York Law School, with expertise in labor, employment and human rights,

This Week with George Stephanopolis: The guests this Sunday are: White House Senior Adviser Dan Pfeiffer; Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH); Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ); Rep. Tom Price (R-GA); and Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY).

On the roundtable are guests: George Will, Washington Post; Ron Fournier, National Journal; April Ryan, American Urban Radio Networks; Katrina vanden Heuvel, The Nation; and Jeff Zeleny, ABC News.

Face the Nation with Bob Schieffer: Mr. Schieffer’s guests are White House Senior Adviser Dan Pfeiffer; Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX); Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT); and President/CEO of the Associated Press Gary Pruitt.

His roundtable guests are: David Sanger, New York Times; Lois Romano, Politico; Dan Balz, Washington Post; and John Dickerson, CBS News.

The Chris Matthews Show: This week’s guests are Kasie Hunt, NBC News; David Ignatius, Washington Post; Gloria Borger, CNN; and Howard Finman, Huffington Post.

Meet the Press with David Gregory: THis Sunday on MTP the guests are White House Senior Adviser Dan Pfeiffer; Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY); Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld; Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI).

At the roundtable: Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-CA); Peggy Noonan, Wall Street Journal; and Bob Woodward, Washington Post.

State of the Union with Candy Crowley:Ms. Crowley’s guests are White House Senior Adviser Dan Pfeiffer; Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY); Susan Page, USA Today; Democratic Strategist Donna Brazile; GOP Strategist Ana Navarro; and Jessica Yellin, CNN.

Dan Pfieffer is a busy man. He is also a guest on Faux Noise.

May 19 2013

Six In The Morning

On Sunday

Will China mediate the Israeli-Palestinian peace process?

By Ed Flanagan, Producer, NBC News

BEIJING – An official visit to Beijing by Israeli and Palestinian leaders last week has prompted speculation that China may finally be ready to claim its place as a world power by trying to negotiate an end to one of world’s most caustic conflicts.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas met with Chinese President Xi Jinping within days of each other in Beijing – the two Middle Eastern leaders having arrived in the country within hours of each other.

“China’s hosting of the two emphasized its active involvement in Mideast affairs and highlighted its role as a responsible power,” declared an editorial by China’s state news agency, Xinhua.




Sunday’s Headlines:

Paul Kagame: I asked America to kill Congo rebel leader with drone

Ah, Mr Fogle, we’ve been expecting you: The case of the hapless wig-wearing American diplomat expelled from Moscow is not as simple as it first seemed

Robert Fisk: ‘Syrian war could go on for two, three years’

What does genocide conviction of RĂ­os Montt mean to Guatemalans abroad?

In South Korea, high-profile defector is accused of spying for the North – by his sister

May 19 2013

What We Now Know

We learn in this week segment of Up‘s “What We Know Now” with host Steve Kornacki that Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton signed marriage equality passed by the Demcratic held state legislature. Also, Jason Richwine resigned from the Heritage Foundation after revelations about his doctoral dissertation. In the aftermath, Pablo Pantoja, the director of the RNC Florida Hispanic Outreach, resigned and became a Democrat.

Democratic nominee for the vacant Senate seat in Massachusetts, Ed Markey dis-invited  former Georgia Democratic congressman Ben Jones from a fundraising event over Jones’ support of the displaying the Confederate flag public events.

According to Public Policy Polling, hipsters are no longer “in.”

Telling us what they have learned this week are Steve’s guests: Patricia Ireland, former President of the National Organization for Women; Anu Bhagwati, executive director and co-founder, Service Women’s Action Network; Goldie Taylor, MSNBC contributor, managing editor, The Goldie Taylor Project; and Jessica Hinves, former U.S. Air Force member, board member of Protect Our Defenders (a group that works to being attention to military sexual assault).

Minnesota Legalizes Gay Marriage: Gov. Mark Dayton Signs Bill Into Law

from Huffington Post

Minnesota officially became the 12th U.S. state to approve same-sex marriage May 14 when Gov. Mark Dayton appeared before a jubilant crowd to sign a marriage equality bill into law.  [..]

Dayton’s signature came just a day after the state Senate approved it with a 37-30 vote, the Associated Press reported.

“Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness should certainly include the right to marry the person you love,” he noted.

Echoing those sentiments was State Rep. Karen Clark and Sen. Scott Dibble, who are both openly gay.

Jason Richwine Resigns From Heritage Foundation After Dissertation Controversy

by Luke Johnson, Huffington Post

Jason Richwine, the co-author of a Heritage Foundation report on immigration who came under fire this week for arguing in his Harvard dissertation that Hispanic immigrants to the U.S. have substantially lower IQs than whites, resigned Friday. [..]

The report put the cost of immigration reform at a whopping $6.3 trillion. Though Heritage’s 2007 report was one of the reasons an earlier immigration bill failed, the 2013 report was widely mocked, even by Republicans the foundation hoped would support it.

Harvard accepted Richwine’s 2009 dissertation for a doctorate in public policy. In it, he spoke of the “growing Hispanic underclass.”[

Pablo Pantoja Turns Democrat: RNC Florida Hispanic Director Cites GOP ‘Intolerance’ In Making Party Switch

by Chris Gentilviso, Huffington Post

Less than two months after the Republican National Committee announced a multi-million dollar campaign to improve minority outreach, one of its state Hispanic directors is leaving the Republican Party altogether.

In a letter released by The Florida Nation on Monday, RNC State Director Of Florida Outreach Pablo Pantoja announced that he is changing his political affiliation to the Democratic Party.

“It doesn’t take much to see the culture of intolerance surrounding the Republican Party today,” he wrote. “I have wondered before about the seemingly harsh undertones about immigrants and others. Look no further; a well-known organization recently confirms the intolerance of that which seems different or strange to them.”

Ed Markey Disinvites Ben Jones From Campaign Appearance Over Confederate Flag Beliefs

by Pam Lavender, Huffington Post

Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) disinvited former Georgia Democratic congressman Ben Jones from a fundraising event after learning of Jones’ support for the Confederate flag. [..]

Jones defended the Confederate flag as a symbol of Southern culture in 2012 when NASCAR canceled plans to have professional golfer Bubba Watson drive the General Lee — the car from “The Dukes of Hazzard” which features a Confederate flag on its roof — at Phoenix International Raceway. Jones called the cancellation of the event “an extraordinary insult to rural Southerners.”

Hipsters trail in the polls but survey’s worth called into question

by Adam Gabbatt, The Guardian

Public Policy Polling claimed 42% of Americans viewed hipsters unfavourably but methodology and purpose of poll questioned

A US polling company claimed on Monday that a shocking 42% of Americans have an unfavourable opinion about hipsters – in a telephone poll conducted among people who only have landlines.

Public Policy Polling was widely mocked for its survey, both for the frivolity of the poll, and for using a methodology that seemed guaranteed to produce the result that emerged.