Daily Archive: 06/16/2014

Jun 16 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”.

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Dean Baker: Charities that make the rich richer

Either end obscene pay at charitable organizations or revoke their tax-exempt status

We usually think of charities as institutions that direct money down from those on top to those who are most in need. But in our vibrant 21st century economy, charities often funnel money in the opposite direction, with the rest of us subsidizing the incomes of the very rich. That is the implication of several recent news stories. [..]

A study by the Institute for Policy Studies found that student debt and low-paid faculty increased more rapidly at the universities with the 25 highest-paid presidents than the national average. At the very least, this suggests high presidential pay is not associated with scoring well in terms of relieving the burdens of those most in need in higher education – student debtors and adjuncts.

There is undoubtedly much more that could be said about high-paid university administrators or heads of other nonprofits, who don’t seem to be earning their keep. But this is not just a story of university boards possibly using bad judgment in designing compensation packages for top management. The pay for these millionaires comes directly out of the pockets of the rest of us in the same way as the food stamps or disability payments that get conservatives so excited.

Robert Reich: The Three Biggest Right-Wing Lies About Poverty

Rather than confront poverty by extending jobless benefits to the long-term unemployed, endorsing a higher minimum wage, or supporting jobs programs, conservative Republicans are taking a different tack.

They’re peddling three big lies about poverty.  [..]

What they really lack is opportunity. It begins with lousy schools.

America is one of only three advanced countries that spends less on the education of poorer children than richer ones, according to a study by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Among the 34 O.E.C.D. nations, only in the United States, Israel and Turkey do schools serving poor neighborhoods have fewer teachers and crowd students into larger classrooms than do schools serving more privileged students. In most countries, it’s just the reverse: Poor neighborhoods get more teachers per student.

And unlike most OECD countries, America doesn’t put better teachers in poorly performing schools,

Tom Hayden: Behind the Madness in Iraq

The U.S. had no business invading Iraq. We toppled a dictatorship on a false 9/11 rationale, which plunged Iraq into a sectarian civil war inside a war with the United States. We left behind a vengeance-driven Shiite regime aligned with Iran. Now the sectarian war in Syria is enlarging into a regional one. The primary blame for this disaster is on the Bush administration, but also on all those who succumbed to a Superpower Syndrome, which said we could redesign the Middle East. There is no reason whatsoever to justify further loss of American lives or tax dollars on a conflict that we do not understand and that started before the United States was born.

John Nichols: Bernie Sanders Is Beating the Austerity Hawks

Bernie Sanders does not believe that government always gets things right.

But the independent senator from Vermont does believe that where government has the capacity to act on behalf of those in need, it should do so.

In a capital where an awful lot of folks still buy into Ronald Reagan’s “government is the problem” calculus, Sanders knows that government can be the solution. Indeed, he recognizes that for those most neglected by an economy that almost always takes care of CEOs and celebrities but often fails clerks and construction workers, government is able to provide answers that the private sector cannot or will not produce. [..]

Sanders cannot always get the Senate to consider the alternative. But as the chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, he has the authority and the bully pulpit to focus the nation’s attention not just on the neglect of military veterans-an issue that has long been his focus-but on the solutions government can provide for them.

Paul Honkenos: The West doesn’t need nuclear for energy independence

The future for Europe and the US lies in renewables

Some of the most confounding problems of our day – global warming and the West’s energy dependence on Russia and the Middle East – appear to President Barack Obama and some of Europe’s leaders to have an obvious answer: more nuclear power. A May 2014 EU Commission study on Europe’s energy security after the Ukraine crisis insists it’s going to be a big part of the solution. Nuclear is also a central component of Obama’s “all of the above” energy strategy. After all, nuclear power plants are supposedly inexpensive to run, emit no CO2 and could lessen dependence on oil and gas imports from volatile regions of the world. A no-brainer, right?

Not by a long shot. Nuclear power is a nasty red herring that advocates will pay for dearly, should it figure into their response to the current challenges on the table.

In the past, critics of nuclear power went to great lengths to point out nuclear energy’s inherent danger. Consider the meltdowns at Three Mile Island in 1979, Chernobyl in 1986 and Fukushima in 2011, they said, on top of the untold number of smaller mishaps that never make the headlines. And then there’s the unsolvable dilemma of radioactive nuclear waste, which nobody wants anywhere near their backyards.

Jun 16 2014

The Breakfast Club: 6-16-2014

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

Jun 16 2014

On This Day In History June 16

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.

June 16 is the 167th day of the year (168th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 198 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1933, The National Industrial Recovery Act is passed.

The National Industrial Recovery Act (NIRA), officially known as the Act of June 16, 1933 (Ch. 90, 48 Stat. 195, formerly codified at 15 U.S.C. sec. 703), was an American statute which authorized the President of the United States to regulate industry and permit cartels and monopolies in an attempt to stimulate economic recovery, and established a national public works program. The legislation was enacted in June 1933 during the Great Depression as part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal legislative program. Section 7(a) of the bill, which protected collective bargaining rights for unions, proved contentious (especially in the Senate), but both chambers eventually passed the legislation and President Roosevelt signed the bill into law on June 16, 1933. The Act had two main sections (or “titles”). Title I was devoted to industrial recovery, and authorized the promulgation of industrial codes of fair competition, guaranteed trade union rights, permitted the regulation of working standards, and regulated the price of certain refined petroleum products and their transportation. Title II established the Public Works Administration, outlined the projects and funding opportunities it could engage in, and funded the Act.

The Act was implemented by the National Recovery Administration (NRA) and the Public Works Administration (PWA). Very large numbers of regulations were generated under the authority granted to the NRA by the Act, which led to a significant loss of political support for Roosevelt and the New Deal. The NIRA was set to expire in June 1935, but in a major constitutional ruling the U.S. Supreme Court held Title I of the Act unconstitutional on May 27, 1935, in Schechter Poultry Corp. v. United States, 295 U.S. 495 (1935). The National Industrial Recovery Act is widely considered a policy failure, both in the 1930s and by historians today. Disputes over the reasons for this failure continue, however. Among the suggested causes are that the Act promoted economically harmful monopolies, that the Act lacked critical support from the business community, and that the Act was poorly administered. The Act encouraged union organizing, which led to significant labor unrest. The Act had no mechanisms for handling these problems, which led Congress to pass the National Labor Relations Act in 1935.

Jun 16 2014

The End of Evolution, or What a Holy Shit Moment Looks Like

Big trouble in the Antarctic has been brewing for a long time

by David Spratt, June 15, 2014

“A game changer” is how climate scientist Dr Malte Meinshausen describes newly published research that West Antarctic glaciers have passed a tipping point much earlier than expected and their disintegration is now “unstoppable” at just the current level of global warming. The research findings have shocked the scientific community. “This Is What a Holy Shit Moment for Global Warming Looks Like,” ran a headline in Mother Jones magazine.

(cont’d below the fold)

Jun 16 2014

Sunday Movie Showcase

Jun 16 2014

Sunday Train: California HSR Receives Cap & Trade Funding in Budget Deal

Sunday Train has covered the California HSR project on a number of occasions in the past. However, there was no special attention given to what was widely covered at the time as the “end of California HSR”, when a judge ruled that the proposed Business Plan did not meet the terms of the Prop1A(2008) which governed the sale of much of the $9m in state bond authority which had passed in 2008. The Sacramento Bee covered the issue at the time, including the appeal of the ruling to the Supreme Court.

And the reason the Sunday Train did not cover that court judgement is IANDL (I Aint No Dang Lawyer), so I was waiting to see what actually happened with respect to funding for the project. And now it appears to me that funding for the original segment from north of Fresno to the outskirts of Bakersfield has been secured, with the news that part of the Budget deal has secured Cap and Trade funding for the HSR project.

More on what this means, below the fold.

Jun 16 2014

Maureen Dowd — Silly Asshole or Serious Pundit?

Is it me, or is Maureen Dowd the most insipid, inconsequential columnist (hack) at The New York Times?  Sure, it’s a matter of taste, and with columnists like Tom Friedman, Ross Douthat, Nicholas Kristoff-Farrow, and David Brooks, the competition is pretty steep.  

I long for the days when Frank Rich had an entire page to himself.  When Anna Quindlen cut to the quick during the Clarence Thomas Confirmation Hearings without ever referencing a single Walt Disney cartoon character.  Call me sentimental, but is it asking too much of the Paper of Record to have at least ONE of its Sunday op ed columnists deliver a thoughtful, well-written, relevant column?