Daily Archive: 04/28/2014

Apr 28 2014

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

The New York Times Editorial Board: Smartphones and the 4th Amendment

More than 90 percent of American adults own a mobile phone, and more than half of the devices are smartphones. But “smartphone” is a misnomer. They are personal computers that happen to include a phone function, and like any computer they can store or wirelessly retrieve enormous amounts of personal information: emails, photos and videos; document files; financial and medical records; and virtually everywhere a person has been.

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court will consider whether law enforcement officers during an arrest may search the contents of a person’s mobile phone without a warrant. The court should recognize that new technologies do not alter basic Fourth Amendment principles, and should require a judicial warrant in such circumstances. [..]

The Supreme Court has recognized the need to adapt to new technologies, as when it ruled that the government attaching a GPS tracking device to a private car was a Fourth Amendment search. For better or worse, mobile phones have become repositories of our daily lives, and will become only more powerful over time. As a rule, the police should have to get a warrant to search them.

Paul Krugman: High Plains Moochers

It is, in a way, too bad that Cliven Bundy – the rancher who became a right-wing hero after refusing to pay fees for grazing his animals on federal land, and bringing in armed men to support his defiance – has turned out to be a crude racist. Why? Because his ranting has given conservatives an easy out, a way to dissociate themselves from his actions without facing up to the terrible wrong turn their movement has taken.

For at the heart of the standoff was a perversion of the concept of freedom, which for too much of the right has come to mean the freedom of the wealthy to do whatever they want, without regard to the consequences for others. [..]

It’s true that some of the people profiting from implicit taxpayer subsidies manage, all the same, to convince themselves and others that they are rugged individualists. But they’re actually welfare queens of the purple sage.

Robert Kuttner: Share Economy or Bare Economy?

The digital economy has given us new ways to be both part time entrepreneurs and consumers, in what enthusiasts call the Share Economy. Have a spare room? You can rent it out to strangers via Airbnb.com — or use Airbnb to find cheap lodging. You’ll meet fascinating new friends, and most likely nothing bad will happen.

Do you need a taxi? Use Uber or Lyft to hail a passing driver and catch a ride for less than the cost of a cab. Or supplement your income by becoming that driver.

Want your car to bring in some income while it sits idle in your driveway? Rent it out via RelayRide.com.

Have some spare time to run errands? You can sign up to be as TaskRabbit, maybe for what works out to less than minimum wage. Or you can hire a TaskRabbit to clean your garage.

As they say over at CNN, is all of this a good thing or a bad thing? Well, it’s both.

Dave Johnson: Democrats Who Move Right Lose Elections — There Is No “Center”

Mainstream Democratic campaign consultants and pollsters typically tell candidates they should “move to the right” and campaign to the “center” with positions that are “between” the “left” and the “right.” This is the way, they say, to “attract swing voters” who would be “scared off” by a candidate who takes populist positions that favor the interests of the 99 percent over the interests of the 1 percent.

Polling and experience show that exactly the opposite might be true. [..]

Here is what is very important to understand about the “swing” vote: Few voters “switch.” That is the wrong lesson. There are not voters who “swing,” there are left voters and right voters who either show up and vote or do not show up and vote.

The lesson to learn: You have to deliver for and campaign to YOUR “base” voters or they don’t show up and vote for you. If Democrats don’t give regular, working people — the Democratic base — a reason to vote, then many of them won’t.

Malcolm Harris: The real reason Michael Bloomberg cares about guns

During Michael Bloomberg’s three terms as mayor of New York, he loved nothing more than to lord over the nation’s largest city. Now he’s just a normal civilian multibillionaire, sitting right below the prime minister of India on the Forbes list of the world’s most powerful people – a lowly position that is no doubt a source of immense personal disappointment. Short of patrolling New York’s parks in a spandex bodysuit to inflict vigilante justice on cigarette smokers and super-sized Slurpee drinkers, what’s a rich ex-mayor to do?

Luckily for Bloomberg, in American politics, controlling sublime amounts of capital is its own qualification, and lavishing it on pet issues counts as philanthropy. And this time, without an elected office to use for a pulpit, he’s going to need that money: After attacking tobacco and soda, Bloomberg is coming for guns. [..]

There’s no doubt America needs to curb gun use and possession. The question is, whose guns? There are 34,500 members of the NYPD, and in 2012 they fatally shot 16 people (pdf). That gives Bloomberg’s army a rate of over 46 shooting deaths per 100,000, killing people at a clip that dwarfs any civilian level in the country. To put it in perspective, Chicago – an American city known for gun violence – hit its peak murder rate of 34 per 100,000 in 1992. American law enforcement is increasingly militarized – as Radley Balko reports in his book “Rise of the Warrior Cop”: “Driven by martial rhetoric and the availability of military-style equipment – from bayonets and M-16 rifles to armored personnel carriers – American police forces have often adopted a mind-set previously reserved for the battlefield.” And this army takes a lot of prisoners: While gun violence has markedly declined following heightened crime in the ’90s, incarceration rates haven’t returned to earth, nearly quintupling since the early ’70s, making Americans the most imprisoned people in the world.

While Bloomberg is squaring up to spread fears about armed Mormon cattle ranchers gone wild, we should be more worried about guns in the hands of the police. To further his agenda, Bloomberg is counting on the public’s unwillingness to look beyond the flashiest proximate cause of surprise violence, as well as liberal stereotypes about rural Americans who own guns. But the biggest, most violently irresponsible gun owner in the country isn’t some left-wing caricature redneck or a deranged teen plotting a massacre from his basement. It’s the state.

Norman Solomon: Jerry Brown’s service to the gilded state

Forty months after returning to the governor’s office that he left in 1983, Jerry Brown is a media favorite and a hero to much of the California establishment. The present-day governor wins accolades as a highly skilled politician who has put the Golden State’s fiscal house in order while reviving its can-do spirit.

Brown deserves the gratitude of powerful economic elites. But for others, especially the powerless and vulnerable, it’s a very different story.

The governor insists on frugality in spending for social programs, while many millions of Californians continue to live in economic distress worsened by cutbacks in social services. Now instead of boosting aid, Brown wants to sock money away. Years of rising tax revenues have turned the state’s huge budget deficit into a surplus, and this week the legislature is in special session to answer Brown’s call for expansion of the state’s rainy-day fund. [..]

Now, from his lofty perch as governor of the nation’s most populous state, Brown is launching a re-election campaign that seems almost certain to succeed. He continues to operate with a high-octane blend of pragmatism and cynicism. The gist is a bottom-line assumption that principles should be malleable – and power from the grass roots must defer to power imposed from the top.

Brown is California’s leading prodigal son. He has returned to power redeemed by his worth to corporate forces dominating the state. The less fortunate will have to endure the grim consequences.

Apr 28 2014

The Breakfast Club: 4-28-2014

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

Apr 28 2014

On This Day In History April 28

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 28 is the 118th day of the year (119th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 247 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day, two events occurred involving the South Pacific. Separated by 158 years, one was a mutiny, the other a grand adventure.

Apr 28, 1789: Mutiny on the HMS Bounty Mutiny on the Bounty: The mutiny  was led by Fletcher Christian against the commanding officer, William Bligh. The sailors were attracted to the idyllic life on the Pacific island, and repelled by the alleged cruelty of their captain. Captain Bligh and 18 sailors were set a drift in the South Pacific, near the island of Tonga. Christian along with some of the mutineers and native Tahitians eventually settled on Pitcairn Island an uninhabited volcanic island about 1000 miles south of Tahiti. The mutineers who remained behind on Tahiti were eventually arrested and returned to England where three were hanged. The British never found Christian and the others. Captain Bligh and the 18 others eventually arrived in Timor.

Years later on 1808. am American whaling vessel discovered the colony of women and children led by the sole surviving mutineer, John Adams. The Bounty had been stripped and burned. Christian and the other 8 mutineers were dead. Adams was eventually granted amnesty and remained the patriarch of Pitcairn Island until his death in 1829.

1947 Thor Heyerdahl and five crew mates set out from Peru on the Kon-Tiki to prove that Peruvian natives could have settled Polynesia. His crew of six fellow Norwegians set sail from Peru on a raft constructed from balsa logs and other materials that were indigenous to the region at the time of the Spanish Conquistadors. After 101 days crossing over 400 miles they crashed into a reef at Raroia  in the Tuamotu Islands on August 7, 1947. Heyerdahl’s book, “The Kon-Tiki Expedition: By Raft Across the South Seas”, became a best seller, the documentary won an Academy Award in 1951. The original raft is on display in the Kon-Tiki Museum in Oslo. Heyerdahl died April 18, 2002 in Italy.

Apr 28 2014

You Are Being Tracked and Monitored

Tune out, turn off, drop in.

I cut off my cable service about two years ago, and I don’t have access to non-pay broadcast television.  At first, I had a little anxiety about disconnecting myself from the hive, but in all honesty, other than having to wait a day to stream the latest episode of “The Walking Dead,” it hasn’t made that much of a difference in my life.  

One thing I did notice, was how much more peaceful video content became without exposure to advertisements.   One thing about streaming TV shows, you realize how much shorter they are than when peppered with ads.  Many hour-long TV shows are 1/3 advertisements.  I still catch a few ads here and there on HULU and at the free streaming site, Crackle, though it’s usually the same few ads over and over and they are fewer and farther between and of much shorter duration.  But what cutting back my exposure to broadcast advertising has done is made me even more acutely aware of all the other myriad sources of advertising to which my family and I are being exposed.

It’s been years since I’ve listened to the radio.  I never could stand all the advertisements mixed with music so I use a web service (Spotify) to stream whatever I want without ads.  

But turning off the TV and radio have not, unfortunately, made me immune to the bombardment of advertising and propaganda.

Since I’m one of those freaks of society who never learned how to drive, I take a bus, which are often covered with ads on the outside, and strips of ads over the windows on the inside.  There are advertisements at the bus stations and transit centers and on the backseats of cabs, these days, the ads in cabs are broadcast on little screens.  There are advertisements plastered in toilet stalls in bars and restaurants, and video screens in elevators with advertisements.  As you travel along the roadways you cannot avoid the ads on billboards and the sides of buildings.  

The print media, too, lately seems like almost nothing but advertisements.  Have you picked up a fashion magazine lately?  It’s hard to tell where the ads leave off and the content begin.  Newspapers, news magazines, National Geographic, Popular Science, Harper’s, The New Yorker – all crammed full of ads to varying degree.  

But probably the worst and most insidious advertising is on the internet.  Because of the technology of cookies, browsing history, and other “smart” programs that track what sites you visit, what products you look at, what you “like” and even what you post in your Facebook status updates, are all used to expose users to ads targeted expressly to them.  Even on dailykos.com, the advertisement at the top of the page is something I’ve looked at on, for example, Overstock.com.  

When I log on to Facebook, there are ads related to things about which I’ve posted.  Because of my status updates and profile, not to mention the cookies, Facebook knows I live in Seattle, that I’m a mom, that I’m a renter, that I think I’m overweight, and that I smoke.  Since I looked at Rent.com recently, I see advertisements about apartments or for real estate seminars being held in Seattle.  Because I’ve written about quitting smoking my page shows ads about teeth whitening products.  And since I write about getting old and chubby, I see ads that will help melt belly fat.  I belong to one or two groups devoted to Flamenco, so I see ads for the latest Gipsy Kings record, and dance performances coming up in Seattle.  One time my status update contained “goat cheese” and I kid you not, soon after an ad for goat cheese and other gourmet products shows up in my stream.  The ads used to only appear off to the side of one’s feed, but now they are also interspersed throughout users’ feeds as though they were friends’ posts.  

Just like VNRs (video news releases, broadcast segments paid for by corporations or government to look like news segments during a news hour, these advertisements are designed to look like your friends’ posts so that you’ll pay attention rather than scroll past them.  

The internet has overtaken the TV as the number one delivery method of advertising and propaganda and offers a much more fertile ground for ways to intimately track and specifically target certain users.

This bit has been posted to The Stars Hollow Gazette,, Voices on the Square, Docudharma and Daily Kos.

Apr 28 2014

You Are Being Tracked and Monitored

Tune out, turn off, drop in.

I cut off my cable service about two years ago, and I don’t have access to non-pay broadcast television.  At first, I had a little anxiety about disconnecting myself from the hive, but in all honesty, other than having to wait a day to stream the latest episode of “The Walking Dead,” it hasn’t made that much of a difference in my life.  

One thing I did notice, was how much more peaceful video content became without exposure to advertisements.   One thing about streaming TV shows, you realize how much shorter they are than when peppered with ads.  Many hour-long TV shows are 1/3 advertisements.  I still catch a few ads here and there on HULU and at the free streaming site, Crackle, though it’s usually the same few ads over and over and they are fewer and farther between and of much shorter duration.  But what cutting back my exposure to broadcast advertising has done is made me even more acutely aware of all the other myriad sources of advertising to which my family and I are being exposed.

It’s been years since I’ve listened to the radio.  I never could stand all the advertisements mixed with music so I use a web service (Spotify) to stream whatever I want without ads.  

But turning off the TV and radio have not, unfortunately, made me immune to the bombardment of advertising and propaganda.

Since I’m one of those freaks of society who never learned how to drive, I take a bus, which are often covered with ads on the outside, and strips of ads over the windows on the inside.  There are advertisements at the bus stations and transit centers and on the backseats of cabs, these days, the ads in cabs are broadcast on little screens.  There are advertisements plastered in toilet stalls in bars and restaurants, and video screens in elevators with advertisements.  As you travel along the roadways you cannot avoid the ads on billboards and the sides of buildings.  

The print media, too, lately seems like almost nothing but advertisements.  Have you picked up a fashion magazine lately?  It’s hard to tell where the ads leave off and the content begin.  Newspapers, news magazines, National Geographic, Popular Science, Harper’s, The New Yorker – all crammed full of ads to varying degree.  

But probably the worst and most insidious advertising is on the internet.  Because of the technology of cookies, browsing history, and other “smart” programs that track what sites you visit, what products you look at, what you “like” and even what you post in your Facebook status updates, are all used to expose users to ads targeted expressly to them.  Even on dailykos.com, the advertisement at the top of the page is something I’ve looked at on, for example, Overstock.com.  

When I log on to Facebook, there are ads related to things about which I’ve posted.  Because of my status updates and profile, not to mention the cookies, Facebook knows I live in Seattle, that I’m a mom, that I’m a renter, that I think I’m overweight, and that I smoke.  Since I looked at Rent.com recently, I see advertisements about apartments or for real estate seminars being held in Seattle.  Because I’ve written about quitting smoking my page shows ads about teeth whitening products.  And since I write about getting old and chubby, I see ads that will help melt belly fat.  I belong to one or two groups devoted to Flamenco, so I see ads for the latest Gipsy Kings record, and dance performances coming up in Seattle.  One time my status update contained “goat cheese” and I kid you not, soon after an ad for goat cheese and other gourmet products shows up in my stream.  The ads used to only appear off to the side of one’s feed, but now they are also interspersed throughout users’ feeds as though they were friends’ posts.  

Just like VNRs (video news releases, broadcast segments paid for by corporations or government to look like news segments during a news hour, these advertisements are designed to look like your friends’ posts so that you’ll pay attention rather than scroll past them.  

The internet has overtaken the TV as the number one delivery method of advertising and propaganda and offers a much more fertile ground for ways to intimately track and specifically target certain users.

This bit has been posted to The Stars Hollow Gazette,, Voices on the Square, Docudharma and Daily Kos.