03/20/2014 archive

March Madness 2014: Men’s Round of 64 Day 1 Evening

Network Time Seed School Record Seed School Record Region
TBS 6:55 7 Connecticut (26 – 8) 10 Saint Joe’s (24 – 9) East
CBS 7:10 2 Michigan (25 – 8) 15 Wofford (20 – 12) MidWest
TNT 7:20 5 Saint Louis (26 – 6) 12 N.C. State (22 – 13) MidWest
truTV 7:27 5 Oklahoma (23 – 9) 12 N. Dakota State (25 – 6) West
TBS 9:25 2 Villanova (28 – 4) 15 Milwaukee (21 – 13) East
CBS 9:40 7 Texas (23 – 10) 10 Arizona State (21 – 11) MidWest
TNT 9:50 4 Louisville (29 – 5) 13 Manhattan (25 – 7) MidWest
truTV 9:57 4 San Diego St. (29 – 4) 13 New Mexico St. (25 – 9) West

March Madness 2014: Men’s Round of 64 Day 1 Afternoon

Last night’s results- Cal Poly (14 – 19) over Texas Southern (19 – 15) (81 – 69) and Tennessee (22 – 12) over Iowa (20 – 13) (78 – 65) in OT.

Network Time Seed School Record Seed School Record Region
CBS 12:15 6 Ohio State (25 – 9) 11 Dayton (23 – 10) South
truTV 12:40 2 Wisconsin (26 – 7) 15 American (20 – 12) West
TBS 1:40 8 Colorado (16 – 16) 9 Pittsburgh (25 – 9) South
TNT 2:10 5 Cincinnati (27 – 6) 12 Harvard (26 – 4) East
CBS 2:45 3 Syracuse (27 – 5) 14 W. Michigan (23 – 9) South
truTV 3:10 7 Oregon (23 – 9) 10 BYU (23 – 11) West
TBS 4:10 1 Florida (32 – 2) 16 Albany (19 – 14) South
TNT 4:40 4 Michigan State (26 – 8) 13 Delaware (25 – 9) East

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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Heidi Mooore: Janet Yellen is the Wolf of Main Street

At her press conference, the Fed chair declared a view of the economy with a human face – a view that Wall Street hates

Wall Street is finally being forced to think for itself.

Today marked the first press conference for Janet Yellen, the first female chairman of the Federal Reserve. The Fed holds these press conferences regularly to let the public know how the nation’s central bank is delivering on its two major tasks: lowering the unemployment rate so that nearly all Americans have jobs; and controlling inflation, to make sure you’re not paying too much at the supermarket.

It was historic enough to see a woman deliver the official diagnosis on the US economy: the economy is growing, but slowly. Unemployment is still too high. Millennials are living at home.

Yet Yellen’s first policy statement was historic for another major reason: she showed she is running a very different kind of Federal Reserve than the one Ben Bernanke ran. Unlike Bernanke, who often catered to Wall Street’s fears, this new Federal Reserve appears reluctant to play the usual reindeer games.

The Fed is stepping away from its reputation as a bunch of economics nerds eager to please the cool frat boys on the trading floors.

Dean Baker: Money in Hyping the Generational War Story

At the same time that we are seeing growing support for proposals to increase Social Security benefits it appears that we are witnessing another set of calls for generational warfare. The argument of the generational warriors is that the Social Security and Medicare benefits received by our parents and grandparents pose a threat to the living standards of our children and grandchildren.

The generational warfare argument may not make much sense, but many people with money stand behind it. Therefore we are likely to hear it frequently in the months ahead.

The basic facts are simple. The country will see an increase in the ratio of retirees to workers over the next two decades, but it is not qualitatively different than the increase in the ratio that we have been seeing for many decades.

Robert Crawford: Democracy vs. the CIA

The acrimony that erupted last week between Dianne Feinstein, chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee (SSCI) and CIA Director John Brennan has been called a “constitutional crisis” over the oversight responsibilities of Congress versus the prerogatives of the executive branch. Commentators suggest it is a struggle over “checks and balances” and “separation of powers.” But there is much more at stake. [..]

The life-blood of democracy is limited government, rule of law, and transparency. If lawless government security agencies cannot be held accountable, democracy rots from the inside. The same can be said about presidents who use the CIA–or the NSA– for unlawful purposes. “When the president does it, that means that it is not illegal,” Nixon notoriously proclaimed. If presidential “findings” (authorizations) for vast secret programs of questionable legality continue to be kept secret, accountability becomes a fiction.

Let’s not neglect what this conflict is about: torture. A government that tortures and then gets away with it is exercising power beyond all moral and legal constraint. Torture is a system crime, condemned by all civilized governments including our own. Torture is Exhibit A in the perverse logic of “by any means necessary,” a repudiation of law as such.

Richard (RJ) Eskow: Free Higher Education Is a Human Right

Social progress is never a straightforward, linear process. Sometimes society struggles to recognize moral questions that in retrospect should have seemed obvious. Then, in a historical moment, something crystallizes. Slavery, civil rights, women’s rights, marriage equality: each of these moral challenges arose in the national conscience before becoming the subject of a fight for justice (some of which have yet to be won).

I believe the moment will come, perhaps very soon, when we as a society will ask ourselves: How can we deny a higher education to any young person in this country just because she or he can’t afford it?

The numbers show that barriers to higher education are an economic burden for both students and society. They also show that the solution — free higher education for all those who would benefit from it — is a practical goal.

But, in the end, the fundamental argument isn’t economic. It’s moral.

David Cole: The CIA’s Poisonous Tree

The old Washington adage that the cover-up is worse than the crime may not apply when it comes to the revelations this week that the Central Intelligence Agency interfered with a Senate torture investigation. It’s not that the cover-up isn’t serious. It is extremely serious-as Senator Dianne Feinstein said, the CIA may have violated the separation of powers, the Fourth Amendment, and a prohibition on spying inside the United States. It’s just that in this case, the underlying crimes are still worse: the dispute arises because the Senate Intelligence Committee, which Feinstein chairs, has written an as-yet-secret 6,300 page report on the CIA’s use of torture and disappearance-among [..]

But the crime that we must never lose sight of is the conduct that led to the investigation in the first place. To recall: in 2002, shortly after the 9/11 attacks, the Bush administration authorized the CIA to establish a series of secret prisons, or “black sites,” into which it disappeared “high-value” al-Qaeda suspects, often for years at a time, without any public acknowledgment, without charges, and cut off from any access to the outside world. The CIA was further authorized to use a range of coercive tactics-borrowed from those used by the Chinese to torture American soldiers during the Korean War-to try to break the suspects’ will. These included depriving suspects of sleep for up to ten days, slamming them against walls, forcing them into painful stress positions, and waterboarding them.

Eugene Robinson: A Midterm Imperative

Here is what Democrats should learn from their party’s loss in a special House election in Florida last week: Wishy-washy won’t work.

Republicans are obviously going to make opposition to the Affordable Care Act the main theme of their campaigns this fall. Democrats will be better off if they push back hard-really hard-rather than seek some nonexistent middle ground.

The contest between Democrat Alex Sink and Republican David Jolly in Florida’s 13th Congressional District was almost like a laboratory experiment. The House seat was held for decades by the late C.W. “Bill” Young, a Republican, but voters are evenly balanced between the two parties. Sink was better known, having narrowly lost a race for governor in 2010; Jolly had deeper roots in the community. Neither displayed an overabundance of charisma.

Jolly’s narrow victory-he won by about 3,500 votes out of about 184,000 cast-is not a death knell for the Democratic Party’s prospects come autumn. But it does suggest how Democrats should not run in close races. Jolly has to run again in November, and if Sink gets another shot at him, I’d suggest she do things a bit differently.

On This Day In History March 20

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.

March 20 is the 79th day of the year (80th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 286 days remaining until the end of the year.

March 20th is also the usual date of the vernal equinox in the Northern Hemisphere, and the autumnal equinox in the Southern Hemisphere when both day and night are of equal length, therefore it is frequently the date of traditional Iranian holiday Norouz in many countries.

On this day in 1854, Republican Party is founded in Ripon Wisconsin.

The Republican Party emerged in 1854, growing out of a coalition of former Whigs and Free Soil Democrats who mobilized in opposition to the possibility of slavery extending into the new western territories. The new party put forward a vision of modernizing the United States-emphasizing free homesteads to farmers (“free soil”), banking, railroads, and industry. They vigorously argued that free-market labor was superior to slavery and the very foundation of civic virtue and true republicanism, this is the “Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Men” ideology. The Republicans absorbed the previous traditions of its members, most of whom had been Whigs; others had been Democrats or members of third parties (especially the Free Soil Party and the American Party or Know Nothings). Many Democrats who joined up were rewarded with governorships. or seats in the U.S. Senate or House of Representatives. Since its inception, its chief opposition has been the Democratic Party, but the amount of flow back and forth of prominent politicians between the two parties was quite high from 1854 to 1896.

Two small cities of the Yankee diaspora, Ripon, Wisconsin and Jackson, Michigan, claim to be the birthplace of the Republican Party (in other words, meetings held there were some of the first 1854 anti-Nebraska assemblies to call themselves by the name “Republican”). Ripon held the first county convention on March 20, 1854. Jackson held the first statewide convention on July 6, 1854; it declared their new party opposed to the expansion of slavery into new territories and selected a state-wide slate of candidates. The Midwest took the lead in forming state party tickets, while the eastern states lagged a year or so. There were no efforts to organize the party in the South, apart from a few areas adjacent to free states. The party initially had its base in the Northeast and Midwest. The party launched its first national convention in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in February 1856, with its first national nominating convention held in the summer in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

John C. Fremont ran as the first Republican nominee for President in 1856, using the political slogan: “Free soil, free labor, free speech, free men, Fremont.” Although Fremont’s bid was unsuccessful, the party showed a strong base. It dominated in New England, New York and the northern Midwest, and had a strong presence in the rest of the North. It had almost no support in the South, where it was roundly denounced in 1856-60 as a divisive force that threatened civil war.

Historians have explored the ethnocultural foundations of the party, along the line that ethnic and religious groups set the moral standards for their members, who then carried those standards into politics. The churches also provided social networks that politicians used to sign up voters. The pietistic churches emphasized the duty of the Christian to purge sin from society. Sin took many forms-alcoholism, polygamy and slavery became special targets for the Republicans. The Yankees, who dominated New England, much of upstate New York, and much of the upper Midwest were the strongest supporters of the new party. This was especially true for the pietistic Congregationalists and Presbyterians among them and (during the war), the Methodists, along with Scandinavian Lutherans. The Quakers were a small tight-knit group that was heavily Republican. The liturgical churches (Roman Catholic, Episcopal, German Lutheran), by contrast, largely rejected the moralism of the Republican Party; most of their adherents voted Democratic.

It’s Spring

Die Winter, Die photo SbrPSgdhy_zps8ec885b5.jpg By now just about everyone is done with this Winter which began with a late Autumn snow storm in early December and quickly evolved in Arctic cold with multiple snow and ice storms. It still feels like the winter that just will not die in most of the country. Take heart, my Winter weary friends, Spring begins on March 20 at 12:27 PM EDT as the sun scoots across the equator heading north. Most of us won’t notice it much but starting on Friday there is now more daylight than darkness and the warmer sun, despite the still cool temperatures, will bring early spring flowers, buds in the trees and help melt the still lingering mountains of dingy snow in parking lots.

Spring comes with lots of traditions, cultural, religious and mythical. The egg, a symbol of fertility is the subject of one of the biggest myths. The balancing of an uncooked egg derives from the notion that due to the sun’s equidistant position between the poles of the earth at the time of the equinox, special gravitational forces apply. Actually, it can be done anytime of the year on a flat, level surface, a steady hand and no vibrations. It’s the same with that broom balancing, that works best with a new broom that has uniform, even bristles.

There are lots celebrations in many countries and cultures including the internet. Google celebrated with one of its popular animated “doodles.”

In Iran, ancient new year’s festival of Nowruz is celebrated:

According to the ancient Persian mythology Jamshid, the mythological king of Persia, ascended to the throne on this day and each year this is commemorated with festivities for two weeks. These festivities recall the story of creation and the ancient cosmology of Iranian and Persian people.

In many Arab countries, Mother’s Day is celebrated on the Spring equinox and the Jewish celebration of Passover starts on the first full moon after the Northern Hemisphere vernal equinox.

Most Christian churches calculate Easter as the first Sunday after the first full moon on or after the March equinox but the Eastern Orthodox Churches use the older Julian calendar so the actual date of Easter differs.

In Japan the Spring Equinox became an official holiday in 1948, Shunbun no hi.

We Pagans celebrate Ostara, one of the Eight Sabats of the Wheel, as a season of rebirth. The name is derived from Eostre, the Anglo-Saxon goddess of spring and fertility, and many symbols are associated with Ostara, including colored eggs and, what else? Rabbits:

In medieval societies in Europe, the March hare was viewed as a major fertility symbol — this is a species of rabbit that is nocturnal most of the year, but in March when mating season begins, there are bunnies everywhere all day long. The female of the species is superfecund and can conceive a second litter while still pregnant with a first. As if that wasn’t enough, the males tend to get frustrated when rebuffed by their mates, and bounce around erratically when discouraged.

Colored eggs are one of the symbols of fertility with an interesting, and this unconfirmed scary, history from Witches’ Voice :

As for the Easter egg hunt, a fun game for kids, I have heard at least one pagan teacher say that there is a rather scary history to this. As with many elements of our “ancient history, ” there is little or no factual documentation to back this up. But the story goes like this: Eggs were decorated and offered as gifts and to bring blessings of prosperity and abundance in the coming year; this was common in Old Europe. As Christianity rose and the ways of the “Old Religion” were shunned, people took to hiding the eggs and having children make a game out of finding them. This would take place with all the children of the village looking at the same time in everyone’s gardens and beneath fences and other spots.

It is said, however, that those people who sought to seek out heathens and heretics would bribe children with coins or threats, and once those children uncovered eggs on someone’s property, that person was then accused of practicing the old ways. I have never read any historical account of this, so I cannot offer a source for this story (though I assume the person who first told me found it somewhere); when I find one, I will let you know!

I once stood an egg on the dining room table and left it there. One of my cats, Mom Cat, sat staring at it for quite some time. After several minutes, she very gently reached out with one paw and tapped it. It rolled off the table and smashed on the floor before I could reach it. As I cleaned up the mess, Mom Cat sat on the edge of the table watching, as if to say, “yes, gravity still works.”

The waning Moon is still bright in the night sky having reached fullness on March 16. Called the Worm Moon by Native Americans because as the ground begins to soften, worms begin moving through the it. A sure sign is the return of the Robin. It’s also called the Sap Moon signaling the start of sap flowing in the trees and the start of the annual tapping of maple trees.

If it ever gets warm enough to open the windows, you can smell the warm earth. If only winter would end like this:

So break out the new brooms, rakes, shovels; check out the local garden center for bedding plants and start unearthing last years Spring and Summer clothes; it’s Spring.