06/04/2014 archive

Clarke: War Crimes Then And Now

Richard Clarke served as the nation’s top counterterrorism official under presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush before resigning in 2003 in protest of the Iraq War. A year before the Sept. 11 attacks, Clarke pushed for the Air Force to begin arming drones as part of the U.S. effort to hunt down Osama bin Laden. According to Clarke, the CIA and the Pentagon initially opposed the mission. Then Sept. 11 happened. Two months later, on November 12, 2001, Mohammed Atef, the head of al-Qaeda’s military forces, became the first person killed by a Predator drone. According to the Bureau for Investigative Journalism, U.S. drones have since killed at least 2,600 people in Yemen, Somalia, Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan.



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.

Wednesday is Ladies’ Day.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

Katrina vanden Heuvel: Turn the NRA’s Weapon Against It

In 1934, the National Rifle Association’s lobbyist testified in front of the House Ways and Means Committee about President Franklin Roosevelt’s National Firearms Act. “I have never believed in the general practice of carrying weapons,” the lobbyist said. “I think it should be sharply restricted and only under licenses.”

The NRA testified, under oath, in favor of the nation’s first federal gun control bill.

Eighty years later, the organization believes not only in “the general practice of carrying weapons” but also, as Ronald Reagan once wrote, that the Second Amendment “appears to leave little if any leeway for the gun control advocate.”

The NRA’s dramatic turnabout, and its decades-long campaign to change American hearts, minds and gun laws, is the subject of Michael Waldman’s compelling new book, The Second Amendment: A Biography. Waldman, the president of the Brennan Center for Law and Justice at the New York University School of Law, explains that the authors of the Second Amendment never intended to create an “unregulated individual right to a gun” and explores why, today, we think they did. Published three days before the rampage in Isla Vista, California, that killed six and wounded thirteen, the book shows how we got to this moment of routine gun violence-and offers a way out

Jessica Valenti: The end of hisses, whistles and stares: we need to walk the streets without fear

Two-thirds of women have been sexually harassed just for being in public. But the conversation has exploded, and now something needs to be done

When I think about the first time I saw a penis, it’s like something out of a nightmare, or a really terrible Law & Order SVU episode. Blech.

Too private a moment to share? I agree. But unfortunately the moment itself wasn’t private – thanks to a grown man who exposed himself to me on a Queens subway platform when I was just 12 years old [..]

It would hardly be the first time I was flashed on a New York City subway – over the years, like a lot of young women, I endured ass-grabs, disgusting come-ons and a range of hisses, whistles and stares. For a long time, I thought there was something about me that invited the unwanted attention: it took until adulthood to realize that it was the common cost of being female in public spaces.

Now a new report on street harassment supports what I got an inkling of that day on the subway: sexual public harassment and violence toward women is a widespread, national problem.

Ana Marie Cox: Ted Cruz’s Tea Party allegiance only makes the case for Rand Paul stronger

There are two Republicans who can take down Hillary Clinton, and Rand Paul isn’t much of a Republican. If the GOP wants to survive, it might be to time to ride the libertarian wave

Ted Cruz is riding high right now. Over the weekend, he gave a rousing anti-establishment speech at the activist-oriented Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans, and won the event’s straw poll. He also appeared on ABC’s This Week to give a cathartic Hillary Clinton smack-down: “The sad thing with Secretary Clinton, is it seems to be all politics, all the time.” Most significantly, the Texas GOP primaries gave the Tea Party and Cruz an important series of victories at a time when the insurgent movement’s electoral future seems otherwise uncertain – even and especially in this week’s Super Tuesday primaries in Mississippi and elsewhere.

The person who should be the happiest about Ted Cruz’s visibility and apparent success? Rand Paul.

The more Cruz links himself to the Tea Party and basks in national attention, the more reasonable and mature Paul looks – and the less he has to tone down his own extreme positions. Cruz and Paul are the only two possible 2016 candidates with the infrastructure and fundraising abilities that could plausibly challenge what used to be Chris Christie’s advantage, which is looking weaker by the day.

Cori Crider: Forget the ‘Taliban Five’ – Obama’s real chance is to free Gitmo’s Cleared 78

The Bowe Bergdahl-Taliban swap row obscures a new political reality: there are diplomatic solutions for prisoners who have been cleared – and maybe even for closing Guantánamo Bay

So President Obama, like many presidents before him and no doubt many to follow, has employed a routine end-of-hostilities POW swap. For five Guantánamo prisoners, he has managed to bring Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl home. Bravo. But while Republicans do their level best to Benghazi-fy this rather uncontroversial news, the real story on Gitmo is elsewhere.

Lost in the kerfuffle over the Bergdahl-Taliban swap is one simple and very positive development: we now know that, when push comes to shove, the Defense Department and the White House can work together to close Guantánamo Bay. No, shutting down the prison isn’t a matter of flipping a switch. But break the matter down into individual cases and achievable diplomatic solutions tend to present themselves.

Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett: Underestimate a lady hurricane at your peril

Scientists have revealed that female-named hurricanes are deadlier than male ones. Show some respect, weather watchers

In shocking news that should vindicate men’s rights activists everywhere but surprise no one who has ever angered my mother in a supermarket, it has today emerged that female hurricanes are deadlier than their male equivalents. The study has resulted in the researchers at the University of Illinois fielding calls from journalists enquiring as to whether the whole thing is a joke – presumably it is the inherent and measurable power of a storm that causes deaths, and not its perceived gender? Au contraire, sexism spotters: they found that, over and above the qualities of the storm itself, a severe hurricane with a girly name will kill more people than a storm with a masculine one. This is because, according to the Washington Post’s rather sweet phrasing, “people don’t respect them”. Sister friends, I know the feeling.

Yes, in what could be described as the Guardian reaching “peak feminism”, I am writing about the sexism that is meted out to weather events. But according to behavioural scientist Sharon Shavitt – a pleasing sitcom cockney name if ever I heard one – it appears that “gender biases apply not only to people, but also to things”. People underestimate female hurricanes because they reckon that they are not all that dangerous, perhaps assuming that the worst they can do is be really nice to your face and then embark on a chardonnay-fuelled bullet-pointed character assassination behind your back from the loos in Wetherspoons, the final coup de grace being that they thought you looked fat in your wedding dress.

Zoë Carpenter: The GOP Is Freaking Out Over the EPA’s Carbon Rules. Why Aren’t Power Companies?

Cue the howls of outrage. On Monday the Environmental Protection Agency issued a draft rule to cut carbon emissions from existing power plants by 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030, a move likely to be the Obama administration’s most significant in the fight against climate change. Immediately, Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell called the proposal “a dagger in the heart of the American middle class, and to representative Democracy itself.” Not to be outdone, the Heartland Institute warned that “by the time EPA is finished, millions of Americans will be freezing in the dark.” [..]

If the power plant rules were indeed likely to leave the nation in the dark, one might expect the companies that supply the country’s power to be similarly alarmed. In fact, the apocalyptic rhetoric in Washington doesn’t reflect the way the rules have been received by stakeholders outside the Beltway. It’s not surprising that renewable energy and natural gas companies welcomed them. But even some of the utility companies that operate the country’s dirtiest power plants responded with what looks more like a collective shrug than mass panic. Many companies are pleased with the flexibility in the proposal, and the fact that it sets 2005 as the baseline year from which reductions will be measured. That year was the high point for US emissions, so reductions from that baseline will achieve less than if the reduction were based on current levels.

The Breakfast Club: 6-4-2014

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. Everyone’s welcome here, no special handshake required. Just check your meta at the door.

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.

breakfast beers photo breakfastbeers.jpg

This Day in History

John Oliver Urges Rescue of Net Neutrality Crashes FCC Web Site

This government should be afraid of internet trolls. Very afraid.

On his June 1 Sunday night show “Last Week Tonight,” John Oliver made an impassioned plea to angry internet users to “focus your indiscriminate rage in a useful direction” and “prevent cable company fu*kery.”

Well we did and on Monday June 2 an army of Jon’s internet “trolls” crashed the Federal Communication Commission’s web site with e-mails demanding they protect net neutrality.

This is John’s call to action: Stop Calling It Net Neutrality; It’s ‘Preventing Cable Company F**kery’

And I can’t believe I’m going to do this. i would like to address the internet commenters out there directly. Good evening monsters, this may be the moment you spent your whole lives training for. You’ve been out there ferociously commenting on dance videos of adorable three-years-olds, saying things like: “every child could dance like this little loser after 1 week of practice.” Or you’d be polluting “Frozen’s ” Let It Go with comments like, “ice castle would giver her hypothermia and she dead in an hour.” Or, and I know you’ve done this one commenting on this show: “f*ck this asshole anchor…go suck ur president’s dick…ur just friends with terrorists xD.”

This is the moment you were made for, commenters. Like Ralph Macchio, you’ve been honing your skills waxing cars and painting fences, well guess what? Now it’s time to do some f*king karate.

For once in your life we need you to channel that anger. That badly spelled bile that you normally reserve.

H/T John Amato @ Crooks and Liars for the partial transcript

The FCC started taking public comments, nearly 50,000 have been posted in the last 30 days. Undoubtedly, those number will rise after John’s brilliant rant.

You still comment to the FCC at their site, here or use the easier EFF interface at DearFCC.org.

Time to hit those keyboards, commandos, and “prevent cable company fu*kery.”

On This Day In History June 4

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.

Click on image to enlarge

June 4 is the 155th day of the year (156th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 210 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1919, the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, guaranteeing women the right to vote, is passed by Congress and sent to the states for ratification.

The Nineteenth Amendment‘s text was drafted by Susan B. Anthony with the assistance of Elizabeth Cady Stanton. The proposed amendment was first introduced in the U.S. Senate colloquially as the “Anthony Amendment”, by Senator Aaron A. Sargent of California. Sargent, who had met and befriended Anthony on a train ride in 1872, was a dedicated women’s suffrage advocate. He had frequently attempted to insert women’s suffrage provisions into unrelated bills, but did not formally introduce a constitutional amendment until January 1878. Stanton and other women testified before the Senate in support of the amendment. The proposal sat in a committee until it was considered by the full Senate and rejected in a 16 to 34 vote in 1887.

A three-decade period known as “the doldrums” followed, during which the amendment was not considered by Congress and the women’s suffrage movement achieved few victories. During this period, the suffragists pressed for the right to vote in the laws of individual states and territories while retaining the goal of federal recognition. A flurry of activity began in 1910 and 1911 with surprise successes in Washington and California. Over the next few years, most western states passed legislation or voter referenda enacting full or partial suffrage for women. These successes were linked to the 1912 election, which saw the rise of the Progressive and Socialist parties, as well as the election of Democratic President Woodrow Wilson. Not until 1914 was the constitutional amendment again considered by the Senate, where it was again rejected.

On January 12, 1915, a proposal to amend the Constitution to provide for women’s suffrage was brought before the House of Representatives, but was defeated by a vote of 204 to 174. Another proposal was brought before the House on January 10, 1918. During the previous evening, President Wilson made a strong and widely published appeal to the House to pass the amendment. It was passed by the required two-thirds of the House, with only one vote to spare. The vote was then carried into the Senate. Wilson again made an appeal, but on September 30, 1918, the proposal fell two votes short of passage. On February 10, 1919, it was again voted upon and failed by only one vote.

There was considerable desire among politicians of both parties to have the proposal made part of the Constitution before the 1920 general elections, so the President called a special session of the Congress so the proposal would be brought before the House again. On May 21, 1919, it passed the House, 42 votes more than necessary being obtained. On June 4, 1919, it was brought before the Senate and, after a long discussion, it was passed with 56 ayes and 25 nays. Within a few days, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Michigan ratified the amendment, their legislatures being in session. Other states followed suit at a regular pace, until the amendment had been ratified by 35 of the necessary 36 state legislatures. On August 18, 1920, Tennessee narrowly approved the Nineteenth Amendment, with 50 of 99 members of the Tennessee House of Representatives voting yes. This provided the final ratification necessary to enact the amendment.

TDS/TCR (Blinded)


Yup.  “Progressives.”

Economics?  Not a Science.

For a discussion of Stephen’s new facial hair you can join me below the fold.