Daily Archive: 08/01/2014

Aug 01 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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Paul Krugman: Knowledge Isn’t Power

One of the best insults I’ve ever read came from Ezra Klein, who now is editor in chief of Vox.com.  In 2007, he described Dick Armey, the former House majority leader, as “a stupid person’s idea of what a thoughtful person sounds like.”

It’s a funny line, which applies to quite a few public figures. Representative Paul Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget Committee, is a prime current example. But maybe the joke’s on us. After all, such people often dominate policy discourse. And what policy makers don’t know, or worse, what they think they know that isn’t so, can definitely hurt you.

What inspired these gloomy thoughts? Well, I’ve been looking at surveys from the Initiative on Global Markets, based at the University of Chicago. For two years, the initiative has been regularly polling a panel of leading economists, representing a wide spectrum of schools and political leanings, on questions that range from the economics of college athletes to the effectiveness of trade sanctions. It usually turns out that there is much less professional controversy about an issue than the cacophony in the news media might have led you to expect.

Trevor Timm: CIA director John Brennan lied to you and to the Senate. Fire him

Private apologies are not enough for a defender of torture, the architect of America’s drone program and the most talented liar in Washington. The nation’s top spy needs to go

As reports emerged Thursday that an internal investigation by the Central Intelligence Agency’s inspector general found that the CIA “improperly” spied on US Senate staffers when researching the CIA’s dark history of torture, it was hard to conclude anything but the obvious: John Brennan blatantly lied to the American public. Again.

“The facts will come out,” Brennan told NBC News in March after Senator Dianne Feinstein issued a blistering condemnation of the CIA on the Senate floor, accusing his agency of hacking into the computers used by her intelligence committee’s staffers. “Let me assure you the CIA was in no way spying on [the committee] or the Senate,” he said.

After the CIA inspector general’s report completely contradicted Brennan’s statements, it now appears Brennan was forced to privately apologize to intelligence committee chairs in a “tense” meeting earlier this week. Other Senators on Thursday pushed for Brennan to publicly apologize and called for an independent investigation. [..]

But the director of the CIA – and the architect of America’s drone program, who will be all but defending torture for the next several weeks – should do more than that. Apologies aren’t enough: John Brennan should resign.

David Cay Johnston: Truths and myths about the rise of part-time jobs

Aggregate demand is the problem, not ‘Obamacare’

When the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced that 288,000 jobs had been added in June, critics cried foul. They said the news was misleading: The details showed a deteriorating job market, which many critics blamed on the Affordable Care Act requirement that employers provide workers with health insurance or risk prosecution or penalties.

But an examination of the data tells an entirely different story about what has hobbled the recovery from the Great Recession, which started in December 2007 and ended in the summer of 2009.

June marked 52 consecutive months of job growth. However, the number of full-time jobs actually fell in June by more than 530,000 compared with May. Total jobs increased only because part-time jobs grew by about 800,000.

At first blush these numbers are alarming. But the details reveal a more nuanced, and in some ways more disturbing, picture. [..]

Most troubling of all, the number of people who want to work full-time but can find only part-time work shot up from 4.6 million in 2007 to 7.5 million last month. This involuntary part-time employment explains, statistically, the entire increase in part-time jobs in the last six-plus years.

Had we maintained the 2007 ratio of full-time to part-time jobs today, we would have 2.5 million more full-time jobs and 2.5 million fewer part-time jobs, according to my calculations from the official data. We would still need another roughly 7 million jobs to fulfill all the demand people have for work.

The shift to part-time work took place before Obama’s policies had any effect and well before Congress passed the Affordable Care Act in March 2010.

Amanda Marcotte: Why they really hate Neil deGrasse Tyson: Inside the right’s anti-intellectual paranoia

A new National Review cover story demonstrates the seething resentment that fuels much of modern conservative anger

If there’s one belief that binds the disparate factions of the American right together, it’s the belief in American exceptionalism, both for the nation and for individuals. The mythology that conservatism is about promoting excellence and encouraging strivers is found throughout conservative media and literature, from the story of John Galt in Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged to Reagan’s description of America as a “shining city on a hill.” While it often manifests as contempt for the poor and the vulnerable, in the abstract this conservative enthusiasm for doing better could, in theory, be channeled productively toward actually pushing people to achieve.

So why are so many conservatives abandoning this enthusiasm for the exceptional in favor of what can only be described as jealous sniping aimed at people who are actually trying to expand the world creatively and scientifically? There’s a lot of highfalutin talk on the right about supporting the strivers, but in practice, the conservative response to someone who tries to stick his head above the crowd is to beat it down with a hammer. Conservatives may think of themselves as lovers of excellence, but in reality, “Who do you think you are?” is swiftly becoming an unofficial right-wing motto.

It’s easy to see why, despite their supposed enthusiasm for excellence, conservative pundits would offer up liberal scientists, journalists, and artists as hate objects for their base. This is a time of economic instability and ordinary people are seeing their fortunes declining. It’s easy to turn that anxiety into rage at people conservative audiences think have easy, charmed lives as coastal elites.

Heather Digby Parton: The GOP’s “war for women” strategy is desperate and clueless and wrong

Republicans have finally realized that (gasp!) women actually vote. But efforts to court them are dead on arrival

In an exciting new development for American politics, the Republican Party ran some spreadsheets and crunched some numbers and – lo and behold – have discovered that women vote. However belated this revelation might be, the GOP is running at this knowledge with everything they have.

Yesterday, high-ranking Republican woman Cathy McMorris Rogers unveiled a bold new campaign to reach out to the half of the population the GOP has been trying to keep broke, barefoot and pregnant. And to prove that they are the party of business and branding, Republicans even came up with a scorching new slogan that’s destined to set the meme-world on fire:

“The War for Women.”

That’s right, they’ve cleverly declared that they are not, as is widely assumed, waging a war on the fairer sex – it’s actually all for them. So now the GOP is fighting against those who are saying it’s a war on women. No wait. It’s a war among women, against the people who say they are fighting for them …?

Well, you get the picture. There’s a war. They’re fighting it. And it has something to do with women.

Joan Walsh: The not-so-secret GOP strategy for everything: Do nothing, and blame Obama

Wrong-way Bill Kristol tells the House GOP to vote against its own leadership just to stick it to the president

You almost have to feel sorry for House Speaker John Boehner. He’s taken on the task of crafting a punitive, stingy, self-contradictory GOP version of a bill to deal with the border crisis that most of his party wants to blame solely on President Obama. There’s no reward for that.

His apparent leadership rival, Sen. Ted Cruz, has been whipping Boehner’s members to oppose Boehner’s bill. As part of an attempted compromise, the speaker is going to let his members vote to end the president’s deferred action on deportations, even though they have no power to do that. But he wants to keep that issue separate from the border-crisis bill, and Cruz, the shadow speaker, is telling members to say no.

In the Weekly Standard, Bill Kristol sides with Speaker Cruz. Passing Boehner’s bill, he says, will interfere with the GOP’s top priority – running up big election wins in November. The only reasonable GOP response to the border crisis is to do nothing – and blame Obama.

Aug 01 2014

Perhaps you think you’re being treated unfairly?

Darth Vader has better approval rating than 2016 US presidential candidates

Ben Beaumont-Thomas, The Guardian

Thursday 24 July 2014 03.43 EDT

He may have overseen the destruction of the peaceful planet of Alderaan, but Darth Vader is still more popular than Hillary Clinton – and indeed all of the prospective candidates for the 2016 American presidential election.

FiveThirtyEight, the site run by esteemed statistician Nate Silver, polled nearly 1200 people as to the favourability of various Star Wars characters. The likes of Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia triggered popularity that politicians can only dream of, with up to 93% of respondents approving of them, but Darth Vader managed an impressive 58% approval rating – thus proving that with enough statesmanlike authority and public-speaking skills, anyone can sway an electorate.

The Washington Post’s Wonkblog then crunched the numbers against the approval ratings of upcoming presidential candidates and other politicians, and it’s not particularly flattering reading. Barack Obama can take heart from the fact that at least he’s not as unpopular as Jar Jar Binks, but is outdone by Emperor Palpatine, a man determined to let the forces of evil govern entire galaxies. Hillary Clinton will be similarly disappointed to learn than her 19% approval rating puts her on a par with amoral bounty hunter Boba Fett – but then again she doesn’t have a cool jetpack.

Darth Vader is polling higher than all potential 2016 presidential candidates

By Christopher Ingraham, The Washington Post

July 23, 2014

On the other hand, with a net favorability of -8, Jar Jar is considerably more popular than the U.S. Congress, which currently enjoys a net favorability rating of -65. In fact, the last time congressional net favorability was above that was February 2005. Incidentally this was just before the release date of “Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith,” which marked Jar Jar’s last appearance on the big screen.



None of the 2016 hopefuls is polling higher than Darth Vader. You’ll recall that Vader chopped off his son’s arm and blew up an entire planet, but evidently in the eyes of the American public these are minor sins compared to Benghazi, Bridgegate and Gov. Rick Perry’s hipster glasses. These numbers suggest that if “Star Wars” were real and Darth Vader decided to enter the 2016 presidential race, he’d be the immediate front-runner.

Meanwhile President Obama is polling just two favorability points below Emperor Palpatine, Lord of the Sith. Make of that what you will.

Remember, Emperor Palpatine is “the actual personification of evil in the galaxy.”

As for comparing the results of two polls about different subjects?  Social researchers do it all the time.  You need to have large enough samples and the sample universes must be comparable, but other than that statisticly relevant observations can be drawn to a reasonable degree of certitude.  Just be careful that you don’t mistake correlation for causation.  The reason Ice Cream consumption and Shark attacks are related is that they both increase in the Summer.

Aug 01 2014

The Breakfast Club: 8-1-2014

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

Aug 01 2014

On This Day In History August 1

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 images to enlarge

August 1 is the 213th day of the year (214th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 152 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1981, MTV, Music Television, goes on the air for the first time ever, with the words (spoken by one of MTV’s creators, John Lack): “Ladies and gentlemen, rock and roll.” The Buggles’ “Video Killed the Radio Star” was the first music video to air on the new cable television channel, which initially was available only to households in parts of New Jersey. MTV went on to revolutionize the music industry and become an influential source of pop culture and entertainment in the United States and other parts of the world, including Europe, Asia and Latin America, which all have MTV-branded channels.

In MTV’s early days, its programming consisted of basic music videos that were introduced by VJs (video jockeys) and provided for free by record companies. As the record industry recognized MTV’s value as a promotional vehicle, money was invested in making creative, cutting-edge videos. Some directors, including Spike Jonze (Being John Malkovich, Three Kings) and Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind), worked on music videos before segueing into feature films. In the 1980s, MTV was instrumental in promoting the careers of performers such as Madonna, Michael Jackson, Prince and Duran Duran, whose videos played in heavy rotation.

Aug 01 2014

Duck and Cover: Nuclear Grade Bull S&!T

Now here is something that should make the hair on the back of you neck stand up.

John Oliver: US uses ‘weapons-grade bullsh*t’ to rationalize massive nuclear arsenal

By Tom Boggioni, Raw Story

[..]Last Week Tonight on HBO, host John Oliver took up the very important, but much ignored, topic of America’s aging nuclear arsenal. Oliver noted  our weapons facilities are plagued by crumbling infrastructure, suspect military oversight, politicians refusing to cut-off funding, and computers so old they run on floppy disks.

Pointing out that, despite cut backs in our nuclear arsenal, America still maintains 4,804 nuclear warheads, Oliver notes that is enough to “not only destroy Earth, but provide 4th of July fireworks for Martians.”

With nuclear ICBMs located in silos in Wyoming, Montana, and North Carolina, Oliver shared a wealth of clips describing poor maintenance and computers designed to launch the missiles using ancient software still contained on 5.25-inch floppy disks.

“Holy shit!,” Oliver exclaimed. “Those things barely look powerful enough to run Oregon Trail, much less earth-ending weaponry.”

Aug 01 2014

TDS/TCR (Thieves, Liars, and Cheaters)

TDS TCR

This… is news

This… is more news

For next week’s guests and the real news join me below.

Aug 01 2014

Another intro…Remember Who We Are

if you will…

If you are of an age perhaps this too will help reconnect. Regardless,  (whippersnappers) there was a time when many believed we could do better and music helped us understand what we were doing and why we were doing it.  Perhaps this sentiment from a time before time can connect again now.  It’s not so much about them as it about us.

Anyway, Nash and Crosby, the BBC 1970 ~ 1971.