12/05/2013 archive

In Memoriam: Nelson Mandela 1918 – 2013

South African leader and icon, Nelson Mandela died today at his home in Johannesburg surrounded by his family and friends.

Mandela 1918 - 2013 photo nelsonmandela_zps5917367e.jpg

Madiba is gone from this earth but not from the hearts of the world.

Blessed Be. The Wheel Turns

Is Ted Rall a racist, or is the ship of Kos no longer seaworthy?

In response to another in a series of user posts complaining about the work of a wide variety of political cartoonists hosted on Dailykos.com, Ted Rall was branded a racist by an unknown editor of DailyKos.com and told that his cartoons would not be welcome unless he was willing to depict President Obama in a far more attractive manner.  

Much of the DailyKos.com audience despises any cartoonist who isn’t a Yellow Dog Democrat. To explain quickly, a posting can get positive or negative votes. Enough negative votes will effectively delete comments, but positive votes can counter negative.  

Here we go into the madness Matt Borrs seems to have inspired in some.

September surprise

49 positive, 58 negative. This isn’t a poll. A negative vote at this site means you think the content is so hateful it should be hidden from the public.  Only long time heavy site users are even given the authority to cast these negative votes. They are the core of the subscription buying user base.  

Cartoonist Matt Wuerker was called a racist by several users.  Now, they certainly didn’t gather much steam, but some of them were quite confident that this cartoon was racist.  

It Gets Madder

Users asserted that this cartoon was “straight out of a minstrel show”   Here’s the jumping off point for those attacks.  

Straight out of a Minstrel Show

Eventually, Tom Tomorrow stepped in to defend him and quashed most of the personal attacks being launched at Mr. Wuerker.  This brought the issue to a rapid close.  

Some of you would prefer propaganda to satire, but that is not the job of political cartoonists

This is a Tom the Dancing Bug strip. They voted 49 to 68 to try to hide it from the public. They also claimed it was racist, both because The President was drawn as a child among other children, and because he was drawn with an adorable button nose.  

Li’l Barack has a playdate

Brian McFadden of The Big Fat Whale also got his turn to be branded an enemy.  They actually gave him so many negative ratings that the automatic ban feature, meant to deal with the worst trolls and spammers, kicked in.  He was banned from the site and Mr. Moulitsas had to restore his posting privileges.  This was a paid cartoonist Mr. Moulitsas did not want banned!  

D.N.C. swag bag

Mr.Moulitsas in this instance actually wrote a front page post desperately trying to explain to his users what political cartoons are.  

On cartoons

Some understood, some didn’t.  No editor sent nasty messages to any of these other cartoonists. They’re all still paid to post there. Their work wasn’t censored.   We can assume they didn’t want to raise the kind of stink Rall has raised.  

Mr. Moulitsas wasn’t on Thanksgiving break when these other incidents happened. He didn’t allow these cartoonists to be disciplined.  To his credit, when he was first challenged by users about Rall’s drawing style he told people to move on and ignore cartoons they don’t care for in much the same way he stood up for all of the above artists.  

This holiday weekend he left someone else to mind the store for four days and returned to a fait accompli. He had to decide whether to cut off an employee at the knees for a bad call try to get some mileage out of disparaging a man who rubs many the wrong way.  Many of these users still harbor grudges resulting from several years of feeling that their complaints concerning staff cartoonists have been ignored.

He wasn’t making the decision.  He was enjoying a long weekend. That’s why it took him four days to respond to press enquiries.

One of Mr. Moulitsas’ editors is now gleefully posting about how much this kerfuffle is driving up traffic and bringing out lurkers. Knowing that Mr. Moulitsas is desperately pumping out emails begging users for five dollar “donations”,  it seems reasonable to wonder what role a desire to please potential donors might have played in his decision process.  

Any journalist covering this story should not only ask “Is Mr. Moulitsas right to call Ted Rall a nasty racist bigot and bizarrely claim Rall doesn’t draw anyone else the way he draws Obama?”  

They should also ask if the Dailykos.com user base is adult enough to understand what political cartooning is.  They should question what lengths Mr. Moulitsas will go to in order to float his foundering ship.  One can only hope that getting his own hand back on the tiller will be his first priority.

Is Ted Rall a racist, or is the ship of Kos no longer seaworthy?

In response to another in a series of user posts complaining about the work of a wide variety of political cartoonists hosted on Dailykos.com, Ted Rall was branded a racist by an unknown editor of DailyKos.com and told that his cartoons would not be welcome unless he was willing to depict President Obama in a far more attractive manner.  Much of the DailyKos.com audience despises any cartoonist who isn’t a Yellow Dog Democrat. To explain quickly, a posting can get positive or negative votes. Enough negative votes will effectively delete comments, but positive votes can counter negative.   Here we go into the madness Matt Borrs seems to have inspired in some.

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”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

Robert Reich: The True Price of Great Holiday Deals

The most important website last weekend and in weeks to come — on which the hopes and fears of countless Americans are focused (and the president’s poll-ratings depend) — is not HealthCare.gov. It’s Amazon.com. [..]

Online retailing is the future. Amazon is the main online shopping portal this holiday season but traditional retailers are moving online as fast as they can. Online sales are already up 20 percent over last year, and the pace will only accelerate.Target and many other bricks-and-mortar outlets plan to spend more on technology next year than on building and upgrading new stores.

Americans are getting great deals online, and they like the convenience. But there’s a hidden price. With the growth of online retailing, fewer Americans will have jobs in bricks-and-mortar retail stores.

Dean Baker: Everyday Low Wages at Walmart: Brought to You by Government Policy

There is a large and growing movement to pressure Walmart to raise its workers’ wages. This has taken the form of direct action by workers, efforts to pass higher minimum wage or living wage laws, and implicit threats of consumer boycotts if Walmart does not raise wages and benefits.

This drive is encouraging, and often inspiring, as many workers have bravely risked their jobs and their livelihoods to try to get a better deal for themselves and their co-workers. But an important part of the story is missing in the way it usually gets presented.

The standard story is that Walmart workers, left to the mercy of the market, are unable to earn a high enough wage to support themselves and their families. There have been numerous accounts of Walmart workers being forced to turn to food stamps and other forms of government support to make ends meet. It is extremely difficult for a single person to survive on a Walmart wage. There is no way that a typical Walmart worker could support one or two children without help from the government.

Jeffry Sachs: World to Poor: Drop Dead

The spin-masters are already at work putting all of the sugar coating on it, but the reality is shocking and revealing. The world as a whole didn’t come up with a measly $5 billion a year for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria. $5 billion was a bare minimum needed to maintain momentum in the fight against these diseases. Yet the U.S., Canada, UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Norway, Sweden, Japan, Denmark, Belgium, Austria, Switzerland, China, Singapore, Korea, Saudi Arabia, Jamie Dimon, Lloyd Blankfein, John Paulson, Barack Obama, Stephen Harper, 1,600 billionaires (with combined net worth of at least $5.5 trillion), and the rest of humanity couldn’t find the money. They came up with $4 billion instead, $1 billion short.

The world has told the poor and dying to drop dead.

Dave Johnson: Want to Cut Food Stamp Spending? Raise the Minimum Wage

Wednesday President Obama will give a speech on his plan to grow the economy and the middle class. Thursday fast-food workers will strike in 100 cities and stage protests in 100 others to demand $15 an hour and the right to form a union without interference from employers. Here’s something to consider: raising the minimum wage cuts government spending on food stamps and other programs. [..]

If minimum wage workers receives a raise, and that increase ripples up through the ever-growing low-wage end of our economy, the need for government assistance will decrease and therefore so will the spending on the programs. The right way to cut spending on assistance for Americans is to decrease the need for that assistance, not decrease assistance for those in need.

Don’t cut programs for the people who need them, cut those people’s need for the programs. It’s the right thing to do and it also makes money sense.

Chris Arnade: Looking for fraud? Don’t look at food stamp recipients, look at Wall Street

Food stamps keep 47 million people from going hungry, so cuts hurt. Congress should focus on where the real abuse happens

Hunger will drive kids to do crazy things. Like stay at school.

A few weeks ago South Bronx public schools had a half-day, with dismissal at noon. Yet almost all the kids stayed an extra hour, waiting in the cafeteria to eat the schools’ free lunch.

Teachers even got calls from parents of children who hadn’t stayed, asking them why they let their children leave without a meal. The teachers explained that this had never been an issue before. Kids had always left when they could. The parents responded, “That was before the cut in food stamps. We get $45 less a month now”.

The cuts to food stamps had come two weeks earlier, on the first of November, a result of Congress failing to renew the increase to the program in the 2009 stimulus package. That increase was included as a small attempt to blunt the pain of a recession that was disproportionally affecting the poor.

Christopher M. Barnes: Should We Blame the Engineer for Falling Asleep at the Train Controls?

Preliminary indications are that the Metro-North train derailment was caused by the train operator falling asleep at the controls, and waking up too late to stop the speeding train from derailing. This is similar to other events in the transportation industry, including air traffic controllers sleeping on the job, truck drivers and boat captains falling asleep at the wheel, and pilots sleeping while at the stick.

Our first inclination is often to blame the transportation employees for falling asleep while they were supposed to be conducting important tasks. We express outrage at their indolence, question their professionalism, and consider them to be weak for not toughing it out through their drowsiness. After all, many of us have experienced sleepiness, and we didn’t fall asleep on the job, right? How dare these transportation employees do so!

On This Day In History December 5

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.

December 5 is the 339th day of the year (340th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 26 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1933, The 21st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is ratified, repealing the 18th Amendment and bringing an end to the era of national prohibition of alcohol in America. At 5:32 p.m. EST, Utah became the 36th state to ratify the amendment, achieving the requisite three-fourths majority of states’ approval. Pennsylvania and Ohio had ratified it earlier in the day.

The movement for the prohibition of alcohol began in the early 19th century, when Americans concerned about the adverse effects of drinking began forming temperance societies. By the late 19th century, these groups had become a powerful political force, campaigning on the state level and calling for national liquor abstinence. Several states outlawed the manufacture or sale of alcohol within their own borders. In December 1917, the 18th Amendment, prohibiting the “manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors for beverage purposes,” was passed by Congress and sent to the states for ratification. On January 29, 1919, the 18th Amendment achieved the necessary three-fourths majority of state ratification. Prohibition essentially began in June of that year, but the amendment did not officially take effect until January 29, 1920.

The proponents of Prohibition had believed that banning alcoholic beverages would reduce or even eliminate many social problems, particularly drunkenness, crime, mental illness, and poverty, and would eventually lead to reductions in taxes. However, during Prohibition, people continued to produce and drink alcohol, and bootlegging helped foster a massive industry completely under the control of organized crime. Prohibitionists argued that Prohibition would be more effective if enforcement were increased. However, increased efforts to enforce Prohibition simply resulted in the government spending more money, rather than less. Journalist H.L. Mencken asserted in 1925 that respect for law diminished rather than increased during Prohibition, and drunkenness, crime, insanity, and resentment towards the federal government had all increased.

During this period, support for Prohibition diminished among voters and politicians. John D. Rockefeller Jr., a lifelong nondrinker who had contributed much money to the Prohibitionist Anti-Saloon League, eventually announced his support for repeal because of the widespread problems he believed Prohibition had caused. Influential leaders, such as the du Pont brothers, led the Association Against the Prohibition Amendment, whose name clearly asserted its intentions.

Women as a bloc of voters and activists became pivotal in the effort to repeal, as many concluded that the effects of Prohibition were morally corrupting families, women, and children. (By then, women had become even more politically powerful due to ratification of the Constitutional amendment for women’s suffrage.) Activist Pauline Sabin argued that repeal would protect families from the corruption, violent crime, and underground drinking that resulted from Prohibition. In 1929 Sabin founded the Women’s Organization for National Prohibition Reform (WONPR), which came to be partly composed of and supported by former Prohibitionists; its membership was estimated at 1.5 million by 1931.

The number of repeal organizations and demand for repeal both increased. In 1932, the Democratic Party’s platform included a plank for the repeal of Prohibition, and Democrat Franklin Roosevelt ran for President of the United States promising repeal of federal laws of Prohibition.

New! Improved!

Democrat-Friendly! New and Improved Caricature of Barack Obama

“Never pick a fight with people who buy ink by the barrel.” – Mark Twain

Ruben Bolling

I believe that any site or publication has the right to refuse to publish any cartoonist or writer that they don’t want in thier pages.  And Daily Kos is a great site that has done a world of good not only in American politics, but also for my small world of alternative cartooning, and for me.  But to refuse publication specifically on these unwarranted grounds at the very least requires my vocal objection.  I’m standing up to say that I believe that Ted’s depiction of Barack Obama is no way racist.

Competitive Advantage


NSA Surveillance Fallout Costs IT Industry Billions

Mathew J. Schwartz, InformationWeek

11/27/2013 01:10 PM

Analysts predict US tech companies may lose $180 billion by 2016 due to international concerns about intelligence agencies’ spying.

For US technology firms that sell hardware, software, and services, that would be a collective loss of $22 billion to $35 billion through 2016 due to foreign businesses and governments worrying if the National Security Agency (NSA) can spy on those products or services. That figure comes via the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation (ITIF), a Washington-based policy research group backed by many leading technology firms, including Cisco, Google, IBM, and Intel.

“The potential fallout is pretty huge given how much our economy depends on the information economy for its growth,” Rebecca MacKinnon, a senior fellow at Washington-based policy group New America Foundation, told Bloomberg. “It’s increasingly where the U.S. advantage lies.”

“If a foreign enemy was doing this much damage to the economy, people would be in the streets with pitchforks,” Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) said last month at a Cato Institute conference, The Washington Times reported. Likewise, Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), who authored the Patriot Act, which the White House said authorizes the NSA’s digital dragnet, has accused the intelligence agency of overreaching. Some critics, however, have asked why Congressional oversight mechanisms failed to rein in the NSA’s surveillance programs.

Richard Salgado, Google’s director of law enforcement and information security, warned the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology, and the Law that the NSA’s spying activities had caused governments in some countries — including Brazil and Norway — to rethink how they’ll procure cloud services or work with US firms. Brazil, for example, has introduced a bill that would require service providers such as Google to store all Brazilian data in the country or risk massive fines.

Salgado, in his testimony, said those types of efforts could undermine today’s Internet. “If data localization and other efforts are successful, then what we will face is the effective Balkanization of the Internet and the creation of a ‘splinternet’ broken up into smaller national and regional pieces with barriers around each of the splintered Internets to replace the global Internet we know today,” he said.

NSA: We Steal Industry Secrets, But Not for Competitive Advantage

by emptywheel

Posted on December 2, 2013

The NSA has uttered various versions of this claim since the Snowden leaks started. But I find this formulation particularly telling. NSA is not denying they steal industry secrets (nor could they, since we know they’ve stolen data from corporations like Petrobras and have stolen secrets from a range of hacking targets).

They’re just denying they steal secrets in order to give US companies a competitive advantage.

Of course, they’re not calculating the advantage that having the world’s most voracious COMINT spy might have for owners of IP. They’re not talking about how intelligence on opposition to US products (like GMO or untested chemicals) translates into industrial advantage. They’re not talking about how spying influences the work of Defense Contractors (who do, of course, also sell on the international market). They’re not talking about how larger financial spying ultimately gives American companies an advantage.

But so long as NSA’s workers can tell their mother-in-law they’re not facilitating US cheating (which they are), it’s all good, I guess.

The MMT Coloring Book

(h/t Stephanie Kelton @ New Economic Perspectives)