04/18/2014 archive


As we all know Stephen Colbert is headed to CBS to take over from David Letterman.  That leaves the  11:30 pm spot behind Jon Stewart (also from his production company) open.  In these web exclusive videos we see the auditions of the current The Daily Show correspondents for this coveted position.

Admiral Zhao

Jessica Williams

Sam Bee

Jason Jones

I don’t know about you, but I think Jason Jones and Sam Bee are leaving to form a “Happy” News Team.

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

New York Times Editorial Board: Sandy Recovery Still Lagging

The hardest test of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s vision and competence might end up being something quite different from expanding prekindergarten or affordable housing. It might just be his ability to restore normality to the lives of tens of thousands of New Yorkers in the Hurricane Sandy zone, from the Rockaways to Staten Island, whose homes and businesses were washed away or ruined a year and a half ago. And, once that job is done, preparing the city to weather the inevitable and potentially disastrous storms to come.

Mold and dry rot wait for no one. Houses don’t rebuild themselves. While Mr. de Blasio has been adjusting to City Hall, fighting big battles and winning a few, nearly 20,000 people in the city’s sluggish and mismanaged Sandy recovery program, inaptly called “Build It Back,” have been waiting for the building to start.

Mr. de Blasio gave a welcome, if overdue, update on the state of the program on Thursday, promising to attack the neglected crisis with greater speed, closer attention and more money.

Paul Krugman: Salvation Gets Cheap

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which pools the efforts of scientists around the globe, has begun releasing draft chapters from its latest assessment, and, for the most part, the reading is as grim as you might expect. We are still on the road to catastrophe without major policy changes.

But there is one piece of the assessment that is surprisingly, if conditionally, upbeat: Its take on the economics of mitigation. Even as the report calls for drastic action to limit emissions of greenhouse gases, it asserts that the economic impact of such drastic action would be surprisingly small. In fact, even under the most ambitious goals the assessment considers, the estimated reduction in economic growth would basically amount to a rounding error, around 0.06 percent per year.

What’s behind this economic optimism? To a large extent, it reflects a technological revolution many people don’t know about, the incredible recent decline in the cost of renewable energy, solar power in particular.

John Atcheson: Hillary Clinton and the Future Failure of Progressive Hope and Change

Why a run by the undeclared frontrunner demands upending the corporate wing of the Democratic Party

Recently, Hillary Clinton allowed as how she’s been “thinking” about running for President in 2016.

“Thinking” about it?  Even a six year old didn’t buy that.

When a politician says she (or he) is thinking about running, for an office, it’s like an addict saying they are “thinking,” about taking their next fix.  They want it with a lust that is all-consuming. [..]

So before we proceed with her coronation, maybe it’s time to think back to the 2004 campaign, and the early days of Barack Obama’s candidacy and Presidency.

Remember “hope and change?”  At the time, few thought to ask what exactly we were hoping for and what exactly we were changing to.

And of course, what we got was a great slogan, better speeches, very little change and even less hope.

Timothy Egan: Deadbeat on the Range

Imagine a vendor on the National Mall, selling burgers and dogs, who hasn’t paid his rent in 20 years. He refuses to recognize his landlord, the National Park Service, as a legitimate authority. Every court has ruled against him, and fines have piled up. What’s more, the effluents from his food cart are having a detrimental effect on the spring grass in the capital.

Would an armed posse come to his defense, aiming their guns at the park police? Would the lawbreaker get prime airtime on Fox News, breathless updates in the Drudge Report, a sympathetic ear from Tea Party Republicans? No, of course not.

So what’s the difference between the fictional loser and Cliven Bundy, the rancher in Nevada who owes the government about $1 million and has been grazing his cattle on public land for more than 20 years? Near as I can tell, one wears a cowboy hat. Easterners, especially clueless ones in politics and the press, have always had a soft spot for a defiant white dude in a Stetson.

Amy Goodman: The Grand American Tradition of Violent White Supremacy

Another U.S. shooting spree has left bullet-riddled bodies in its wake, and refocused attention on violent, right-wing extremists. Frazier Glenn Miller, a former leader of a wing of the Ku Klux Klan, is accused of killing three people outside two Jewish community centers outside Kansas City, Kan. As he was hauled away in a police car, he shouted “Heil Hitler!” Unlike Islamic groups that U.S. agencies spend tens of billions of dollars targeting, domestic white supremacist groups enjoy relative freedom to spew their hatred and promote racist ideology. Too often, their murderous rampages are viewed as acts of deranged “lone wolf” attackers. These seemingly fringe groups are actually well-organized, interconnected and are enjoying renewed popularity. [..]

Mark Potok is a senior fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center, which has been tracking right-wing hate groups and Frazier Glenn Miller for years. Potok said, about that report, “a real problem with the Department of Homeland Security … ever since a particular report on the right wing was leaked to the press in April of 2009, DHS has sort of cowered. They essentially gutted their non-Islamic domestic terrorism unit.” [..]

While law-abiding Muslims are forced to hide in their homes, and animal-rights activists are labeled as terrorists for undercover filming of abusive treatment at factory farms, right-wing hate groups are free to organize, parade, arm themselves to the hilt and murder with chilling regularity. It’s time for our society to confront this very real threat.

Robert Barkley: The Hollow Center of Common Core

The hullabaloo over the Common Core State Standards might lead you to think that poor standards have been the central problem in education. Consider the possibility that those peddling that idea don’t have a clue.  And consider the possibility that, sadly, many educators have bought what the peddlers are selling.

I say such is the case.  In education, the single most important issue has long been and remains unaddressed: The lack of an agreed-upon overarching aim. If the institution doesn’t know where it’s going or what it’s trying to do, whatever standards are adopted will be indefensible and largely inconsequential. Putting in place a clear aim is the education establishment’s first order of business.

The Wealthy “Grievance Industry”

Lately we’ve been hearing a lot of complaining from people who have the least about which to complain, the wealthy. From wealthy Nevada cattleman Cliven Bundy who thinks he should be let his cattle graze for free on public land while he pockets the proceeds to poor put upon Koch bothers who pen whining op-eds bemoaning the unfairness of their critics.

MSNBC’s Chris Hayes, host of “All In,” discusses these wealthy welfare cowboys with former Clinton labor secretary Robert Reich and venture capitalist Nick Hanauer

The 1% as victims? That’s rich!

By Eugene Robinson

An ugly outbreak of whiny victimhood is ravaging some of America’s most exclusive Zip codes. It’s as if some 1 percenters suddenly fear that old warning: “When the people shall have nothing more to eat, they will eat the rich.” [..]

Tax cuts and deregulation have dominated federal policy since the 1980s; during this time, inequality has spiraled out of control. If conservatives have nothing better to sell than more tax cuts and more deregulation, it’s no wonder that people are tuning in to what the other side has to say.

Income tax rates for the highest earners remain quite low, in historical terms, while earnings on capital gains – including some “gains” that look a lot like regular income – have been taxed at a measly 15 or 20 percent. Advocating that taxes be raised for the wealthy is not a personal attack on anyone; that includes you, Mr. Perkins, and Ms. Steel as well. It is a policy proposal. No, it wouldn’t solve all the government’s fiscal problems. But yes, it would provide significant revenue while making our tax scheme more progressive and, in the eyes of most people, more fair. And yes, fairness counts.

The fabulously wealthy need love, too. But they’ll get more of it if they stop congratulating themselves for all their hard work and realize that poor people work hard, too, sometimes at two or three jobs, and struggle to put food on the table.

The Breakfast Club: 4-18-2014

Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we’re not too hungover  we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:30am (ET) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.

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This Day in History

On This Day In History April 18

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.

April 18 is the 108th day of the year (109th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 257 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1775, British troops march out of Boston on a mission to confiscate the American arsenal at Concord and to capture Patriot leaders Samuel Adams and John Hancock, known to be hiding at Lexington. As the British departed, Boston Patriots Paul Revere and William Dawes set out on horseback from the city to warn Adams and Hancock and rouse the Minutemen.

By 1775, tensions between the American colonies and the British government had approached the breaking point, especially in Massachusetts, where Patriot leaders formed a shadow revolutionary government and trained militias to prepare for armed conflict with the British troops occupying Boston. In the spring of 1775, General Thomas Gage, the British governor of Massachusetts, received instructions from Great Britain to seize all stores of weapons and gunpowder accessible to the American insurgents. On April 18, he ordered British troops to march against Concord and Lexington.

The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere

On the night of April 18-19, 1775, just hours before the battles of Lexington and Concord, Revere performed his “Midnight Ride”. He and William Dawes were instructed by Dr. Joseph Warren to ride from Boston to Lexington to warn John Hancock and Samuel Adams of the movements of the British Army, which was beginning a march from Boston to Lexington, ostensibly to arrest Hancock and Adams and seize the weapons stores in Concord.

The British army (the King’s “regulars”) had been stationed in Boston since the ports were closed in the wake of the Boston Tea Party, and was under constant surveillance by Revere and other patriots as word began to spread that they were planning a move. On the night of April 18, 1775, the army began its move across the Charles River toward Lexington, and the Sons of Liberty immediately went into action. At about 11 pm, Revere was sent by Dr. Warren across the Charles River to Charlestown, on the opposite shore, where he could begin a ride to Lexington, while Dawes was sent the long way around, via the Boston Neck and the land route to Lexington.

In the days before April 18, Revere had instructed Robert Newman, the sexton of the Old North Church, to send a signal by lantern to alert colonists in Charlestown as to the movements of the troops when the information became known. In what is well known today by the phrase “one if by land, two if by sea”, one lantern in the steeple would signal the army’s choice of the land route, while two lanterns would signal the route “by water” across the Charles River. This was done to get the message through to Charlestown in the event that both Revere and Dawes were captured. Newman and Captain John Pulling momentarily held two lanterns in the Old North Church as Revere himself set out on his ride, to indicate that the British soldiers were in fact crossing the Charles River that night. Revere rode a horse lent to him by John Larkin, Deacon of the Old North Church.

There were other riders that night besides Dawes, including a woman, Sybil Ludington. The other men were Israel Bissel and  Samuel Prescott. a doctor who happened to be in Lexington “returning from a lady friend’s house at the awkward hour of 1 a.m.”