10/01/2013 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 thea Pundits”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

Dean Baker: Thank the GOP for the shutdown and holding the economy hostage

Cutbacks in government spending directly reduce employment and curtail growth. Unfortunately, Republicans don’t get that

Here we go again: the GOP is ready to stall the US economy and shut down the government in a crusade to cut government spending. Proponents of austerity both in the United States and Europe are eager to claim success for their policies. In spite of economies that look awful by normal standards, austerity advocates are able to claim victory for their policies by creating a new meaning for the word.

In Europe, we have the bizarre story of both George Osborne, the UK’s chancellor of the exchequer, and Olli Rehn, the European Union’s commissioner for economic and monetary affairs, claiming success for their austerity policies based on one quarter of growth. Apparently, they are arguing that because their policies did not lead to a never-ending recession, they are a success. Remarkably, they seem very proud of this fact.

In the United States, we were treated to the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) boasting of the success of the 2011 debt ceiling agreement on the eve of another standoff on the budget and the debt ceiling. The measure of success in this case appears to be that the sequester budget cuts put in place by the agreement are still in place and that the economy has not collapsed as a result. By this standard the WSJ has a case, but as with the austerity crew in Europe, this is a rather pathetic bar.

New York Times Editorial Board: Containing the Conventional Arms Trade

Efforts to control the $70 billion a year global market in conventional weapons got a big boost when the United States signed the United Nations arms trade treaty, joining more than 100 other countries in affirming the need to keep these weapons out of the hands of unscrupulous regimes, militants and criminals.

But the work is far from done. At least 50 member countries, including the United States, must still carry out the next step and ratify the treaty for it to take effect; only six have done so. Proponents fear final ratification could take years, and it would be a travesty if it does.

Bernie Sanders: A Single-Payer System, Like Medicare, is the Cure for America’s Ailing Healthcare

I start my approach to healthcare from two very basic premises. First, healthcare must be recognized as a right, not a privilege. Every man, woman and child in our country should be able to access the healthcare they need regardless of their income. Second, we must create a national healthcare system that provides quality healthcare for all in the most cost-effective way possible.

Tragically, the United States is failing in both areas.

It is unconscionable that in one of the most advanced nations in the world, there are nearly 50 million people who lack health insurance and millions more who have burdensome co-payments and deductibles. In fact, some 45,000 Americans die each year because they do not get to a doctor when they should. In terms of life expectancy, infant mortality and other health outcomes, the United States lags behind almost every other advanced country.

Robert Kuttner: Beyond the Shutdown

We already know the next two acts of this drama. The Senate will refuse to accept the latest disingenuous House offer of allowing temporary government funding in exchange for a one-year delay in implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Barring a miracle, the government will then be forced to cease all non-emergency operations as of midnight tonight.

We also know that at some point, the government will have to re-open, and that Republicans will have to relent on their fantasy of destroying Obamacare. The Republicans picked the president’s signature achievement, the one issue on which he can’t be rolled. But what will be their price for allowing the government to function?

Norman Solomon: The NSA Deserves a Permanent Shutdown

To the people in control of the executive branch, violating our civil liberties is an essential government service. So — to ensure total fulfillment of Big Brother’s vast responsibilities — the National Security Agency is insulated from any fiscal disruption.

The NSA’s surveillance programs are exempt from a government shutdown. With typical understatement, an unnamed official told The Hill that “a shutdown would be unlikely to affect core NSA operations.”

At the top of the federal government, even a brief shutdown of “core NSA operations” is unthinkable. But at the grassroots, a permanent shutdown of the NSA should be more than thinkable; we should strive to make it achievable.

NSA documents, revealed by intrepid whistleblower Edward Snowden, make clear what’s at stake. In a word: democracy.

Dilip Hiro: [A World in Which No One Is Listening to the Planet’s Sole Superpower ]

The Greater Middle East’s Greatest Rebuff to Uncle Sam

What if the sole superpower on the planet makes its will known — repeatedly — and finds that no one is listening?  Barely a decade ago, that would have seemed like a conundrum from some fantasy Earth in an alternate dimension.  Now, it is increasingly a plain description of political life on our globe, especially in the Greater Middle East.

In the future, the indecent haste with which Barack Obama sought cover under the umbrella unfurled by his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, in the Syrian chemical weapons crisis will be viewed as a watershed moment when it comes to America’s waning power in that region.  In the aptly named “arc of instability,” the lands from the Chinese border to northern Africa that President George W. Bush and his neocon acolytes dreamed of thoroughly pacifying, turmoil is on the rise. Ever fewer countries, allies, or enemies, are paying attention, much less kowtowing, to the once-formidable power of the world’s last superpower.  The list of defiant figures — from Egyptian generals to Saudi princes, Iraqi Shiite leaders to Israeli politicians — is lengthening.

On This Day In History October 1

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 1 is the 274th day of the year(275th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 91 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1946, 12 high-ranking Nazis are sentenced to death by the International War Crimes Tribunal in Nuremberg. Among those condemned to death by hanging were Joachim von Ribbentrop, Nazi minister of foreign affairs; Hermann Goering, founder of the Gestapo and chief of the German air force; and Wilhelm Frick, minister of the interior. Seven others, including Rudolf Hess, Adolf Hitler’s former deputy, were given prison sentences ranging from 10 years to life. Three others were acquitted.

The Nuremberg Trials were a series of military, held by the main victorious Allied forces of World War II, most notable for the prosecution of prominent members of the political, military, and economic leadership of the defeated Nazi Germany. The trials were held in the city of Nuremberg, Bavaria, Germany, in 1945-46, at the Palace of Justice. The first and best known of these trials was the Trial of the Major War Criminals before the International Military Tribunal (IMT), which tried 22 of the most important captured leaders of Nazi Germany. It was held from November 20, 1945 to October 1, 1946. The second set of trials of lesser war criminals was conducted under Control Council Law No. 10 at the US Nuremberg Military Tribunals (NMT); among them included the Doctors’ Trial and the Judges’ Trial.

The Main Trial

The International Military Tribunal was opened on October 18, 1945, in the Palace of Justice in Nuremberg. The first session was presided over by the Soviet judge, Nikitchenko. The prosecution entered indictments against 24 major war criminals and six criminal organizations – the leadership of the Nazi party, the Schutzstaffel (SS) and Sicherheitsdienst (SD), the Gestapo, the Sturmabteilung (SA) and the “General Staff and High Command,” comprising several categories of senior military officers.

The indictments were for:

  1. Participation in a common plan or conspiracy for the accomplishment of a crime against peace

  2. Planning, initiating and waging wars of aggression and other crimes against peace

  3. War crimes

  4. Crimes against humanity

Shutdown 2013

The Office of Management and Budget has released a memo telling agencies to “now execute plans for an orderly shutdown due to the absence of appropriations”

   This memorandum follows the September 17, 2013, Memorandum M-13-22, and provides an update on the potential lapse of appropriations.

   Appropriations provided under the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2013 (P.L. 113-6) expire at 11:59 pm tonight. Unfortunately, we do not have a clear indication that Congress will act in time for the President to sign a Continuing Resolution before the end of the day tomorrow, October 1, 2013. Therefore, agencies should now execute plans for an orderly shutdown due to the absence of appropriations. We urge Congress to act quickly to pass a Continuing Resolution to provide a short-term bridge that ensures sufficient time to pass a budget for the remainder of the fiscal year, and to restore the operation of critical public services and programs that will be impacted by a lapse in appropriations.

   Agencies should continue to closely monitor developments, and OMB will provide further guidance as appropriate. We greatly appreciate your cooperation and the work you and your agencies do on behalf of the American people.

The Panda Cam is off:

2013 Junior League Play-In Game: Rays @ Rangers

The year is spinning out of control.  It’s not even the end of September yet and we have playoff Baseball.

Or play-in, but who’s counting?

Tonight’s matchup is the Tampa Bay Rays at the Texas Rangers who finished with identical 91 – 71 records.  The Rays closed the season with 7 wins including 7 – 6 over the Jays Sunday.  They’ll be starting David Price (9 – 8, 3.39 ERA L) who is 1 – 2 with a 10.26 ERA at Arlington.

Team W (for steroids) will start rookie Martin Perez (10 – 5, 3.55 ERA L) who has been doing better than average down the stretch.  The question for them is whether their big bat, Nelson Cruz who is finishing up a 50 game steroid suspension.  He hasn’t played since August 4th at which time he had 27 HR and 76 RBI.  Cruz is .429 v. Price, 9 for 12 with 3 HR.

As I’ve said many times, unless you’re extremely lucky, playoff Baseball is not about who you like.  No, it’s about who you hate and in most cases who you hate less.  Perhaps it will help you decide if I tell you the inoffensive Rays are an expansion team from 1999 and have hardly had any time to develop serious rivalries.  They have 3 post season appearances, losing twice to Team W (for steroids).

Team W (for steroids) on the other hand, in addition to rampant drug abuse (Clemens, Pettite), have the misfortune of scorching your eyes with picures of W himself throwing out ceremonial first pitches and him and killer Laura sitting in the stands.

Not that magical thinking works, but I think you know what to do now.

The winner advances to face the hapless Cleveland Indians at Jacobs Field in your “normal” one game Sudden Death Wild Card on Wednestday.  Game time is 8:05 pm ET.