Daily Archive: 08/08/2014

Aug 08 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: Inequality Is a Drag

For more than three decades, almost everyone who matters in American politics has agreed that higher taxes on the rich and increased aid to the poor have hurt economic growth.

Liberals have generally viewed this as a trade-off worth making, arguing that it’s worth accepting some price in the form of lower G.D.P. to help fellow citizens in need. Conservatives, on the other hand, have advocated trickle-down economics, insisting that the best policy is to cut taxes on the rich, slash aid to the poor and count on a rising tide to raise all boats.

But there’s now growing evidence for a new view – namely, that the whole premise of this debate is wrong, that there isn’t actually any trade-off between equity and inefficiency. Why? It’s true that market economies need a certain amount of inequality to function. But American inequality has become so extreme that it’s inflicting a lot of economic damage. And this, in turn, implies that redistribution – that is, taxing the rich and helping the poor – may well raise, not lower, the economy’s growth rate.

Zoë Carpenter: Senators to Obama: Stop Censoring the Torture Report

The release of a long-delayed investigation into the Central Intelligence Agency’s post-9/11 interrogation methods was held up yet again on Tuesday after the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee objected to the amount of information that had been censored by the Obama administration.

“I have concluded that the redactions eliminate or obscure key facts that support the report’s findings and conclusions,” Dianne Feinstein said Tuesday in a statement announcing her decision to delay publication of portions of the report, which was assembled by her committee. Feinstein said she had written a letter to the White House detailing which redactions she felt were heavy handed. [..]

“We tortured some folks,” Obama acknowledged on Friday. “And we have to, as a country, take responsibility for that so that, hopefully, we don’t do it again in the future.” The CIA’s conduct in response to the Senate report is a crystal clear indicator that hoping for the agency to do the right thing is not simply naïve but flagrantly irresponsible. If the president is content to grant the CIA immunity for its current flouting of the law and the separation of powers, as well as for the torture it meted out in the recent past, there’s nothing to keep an executive with fewer scruples from reopening a chapter that the public hasn’t even been allowed to read.

Katrina vanden Heuvel: One Person, One Vote: This Is a Reform Whose Time Has Come

The Electoral College rules that govern our presidential elections are the political equivalent of education’s standardized test. Just as high school classes devolve into test preparation, not learning, presidential elections descend into swing-state appeal, not national leadership. Campaigns don’t lift a finger in some thirty or forty states locked up for one party. As the 2016 campaign comes into focus, it’s a welcome reminder that it may well be the last one in which every vote in every state is not equally important.

In April, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed legislation that brings New York into the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact. Under the National Popular Vote plan, states work together to guarantee election of the candidate who wins the most popular votes in all fifty states and the District of Columbia. Once enough states that represent a majority of electoral votes (270 out of 538) have entered the compact, a participating state will award all its electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote rather than to the winner of its statewide popular vote.

Margaret Kimberley: Climate Change – Point of No Return

Time’s up, or so planet earth seems to be telling humanity. Extreme weather conditions around the globe, including rising temperatures, droughts, crop failures, melting sea ice, rising sea levels, disappearing glaciers and the loss of plant and animal species all point in only one direction. The tipping point towards the sixth great extinction is taking place right now.

It is clear that these problems are all human made. Rising carbon dioxide levels caused by fossil fuel emissions are creating a series of catastrophes in ecosystems around the world. The processes are clear to anyone who pays attention. [..]

The People’s Climate March scheduled to take place on September 21 in New York cannot be just a feel good precursor to the United Nations meeting. It must have as part of its agenda a critique of the world financial system. The criminals who must be exposed aren’t just in New York and London either. India and China poison the air and their citizens in a mad dash to catch up with the other industrial polluters of the world.

There are many villains in this story but there is only one important point. Maintaining the status quo means the end of life on the planet. The 1% will limit their exposure for a time but eventually the end will come for them too.

E. J. Dionne, Jr.: Plain Vanilla Bipartisanship

When does Congress become so embarrassed by its laughably low approval ratings that its leaders decide to pass laws to make our country a modestly better place? Is there a plain vanilla agenda that might pass muster across party lines?

If you thought attitudes about Congress couldn’t get any worse, consider the Washington Post/ABC News poll’s finding this week that 51 percent of Americans disapproved of their own House member. This was the first time in the 25 years the poll has been asking the question that a majority disapproved of their representative. Usually, people hate the body as a whole but like their own guy or woman.

Congress in the abstract does fare much worse. The Real Clear Politics average puts approval of the institution at 12.6 percent. And Republicans are especially unpopular: the Post/ABC poll found that while 49 percent of Americans held a favorable view of the Democratic Party, only 35 percent had a favorable view of the GOP.

Robert Reich: The Ivy Leagues are a ludicrous waste of resources

Graduates of Ivy League universities are more likely to enter finance and consulting than any other career.

For example, in 2010 (the most recent date for which we have data) close to 36 percent of Princeton graduates went into finance (down from the pre-financial crisis high of 46 percent in 2006). Add in management consulting, and it was close to 60 percent.

The hefty endowments of such elite institutions are swollen with tax-subsidized donations from wealthy alumni, many of whom are seeking to guarantee their own kids’ admissions so they too can become enormously rich financiers and management consultants.

But I can think of a better way for taxpayers to subsidize occupations with more social merit: Forgive the student debts of graduates who choose social work, child care, elder care, nursing, and teaching.

Aug 08 2014

The Breakfast Club 8-8-2014

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 08 2014

Let’s do the Time Warp again.

It was summer and an air conditioned theater and my girl friend (I had those you know) and I sat in the back row so we weren’t pelted by toast and rice.

I’m lucky, you’re lucky, we’re all lucky!

What is it he did again?  Oh, that’s right.  Use the national security apparatus of the United States government to spy on his political opponents, journalists, and people excercising their First Amendment rights.

Nothing at all like today when we just spy on everybody and lie about it under oath to Congress.

No siree, we’re not talking about a blowjob here.

It’s astounding.

Time is fleeting.

Madness takes it’s toll…

But listen closely…

Not for very much longer…

I’ve got to… keep control.

I remember doing the Time Warp.

Drinking those moments when

The blackness would hit me.

And the void would be calling.

Let’s do the Time Warp again.

Let’s do the Time Warp again.

Aug 08 2014

On This Day In History August 8

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 8 is the 220th day of the year (221st in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 145 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1974, Richard M. Nixon becomes the first President to resign.

In an evening televised address, President Richard M. Nixon announces his intention to become the first president in American history to resign. With impeachment proceedings underway against him for his involvement in the Watergate affair, Nixon was finally bowing to pressure from the public and Congress to leave the White House. “By taking this action,” he said in a solemn address from the Oval Office, “I hope that I will have hastened the start of the process of healing which is so desperately needed in America.”

Just before noon the next day, Nixon officially ended his term as the 37th president of the United States. Before departing with his family in a helicopter from the White House lawn, he smiled farewell and enigmatically raised his arms in a victory or peace salute. The helicopter door was then closed, and the Nixon family began their journey home to San Clemente, California. Minutes later, Vice President Gerald R. Ford was sworn in as the 38th president of the United States in the East Room of the White House. After taking the oath of office, President Ford spoke to the nation in a television address, declaring, “My fellow Americans, our long national nightmare is over.” He later pardoned Nixon for any crimes he may have committed while in office, explaining that he wanted to end the national divisions created by the Watergate scandal.

Aug 08 2014

Peace and the Antiwar Movement

Peace on Earth.  How many times has that been said.  We want peace on earth. Ya, most people do.  More than most, probably a “vast” majority. But make no mistake, there are plenty of humans who don’t want peace for various reasons, or believe that peace is unattainable, that it’s just the way it is.  So you know, it’s not unanimous.  

Many on the left and right/libertarians have complained over the last decade about the lack of an antiwar movement. The last significant protest movement against war was in 2002/2003 with the Iraq war.  Many organizations and groups were created during the Bush wars but then came Obama.  His rhetoric and promises (lies) and the fact that he was black and a democrat seemingly pacified an already weakening antiwar movement.

In my opinion we need one now in a big way, and quick.  

Take a look at the last 12 years with the wars, regime changes, new laws, acts, and organizations created to “keep us safe”, the pivot to Asia and now the confrontation with Russia. As many are saying over the internet, this appears to be the most dangerous time for the planet since the Cuban missle crisis. With the threat of a first strike nuclear war, that’s about as dangerous as it gets.  

Even ignoring that threat, the advent of another full blown Cold War between Russia/China and the U.S. is the last thing we serfs need now.  Here we are watching the ruling class light their cigars with trillion dollar bills while we fight each other over food stamps and minimum wage jobs.  The last thing we need is more war and more militarism.  As they say in the hood, ‘homey don’t need that bro.’

In other words, they need to be fucking stopped NOW, i.e, before it’s the proverbial too late. They aren’t going to stop their games, their quest for world domination.  They aren’t going to suddenly come to their senses and reach sensible diplomatic agreements to end imperialism and war and militarism.  That is simply not going to happen unless somehow we the people can make them.  

There was a major effort after WWI to abolish war for good.  It ended in the Kellogg-Briand Pact of 1928, an international agreement where countries “promised” not to use war to resolve their disputes.  Obviously that didn’t work and the key thing to remember here is it happened AFTER WWI.  AFTER 16 million people died because of sociopathic and psychopathic government rulers and their backers.  That’s why the world wanted war banned back then, that’s why they at least created that Pact.  People were horrified at what had happened during WWI.  Little did they (some, not all) know that the promises were just lies.

We know.

Then came the Geneva Conventions after WWII and the United Nation Charter, both outlining the parameters for war and imperialism.  Obvioiusly this hasn’t stopped them either.

One thing I’ve concluded is we are going to need a massive number of people behind whatever we do to stop war and militarism, i.e. to achieve Peace on Earth. With how ingrained militarism is in our societies and how infected the planet is with weapons, it’s going to take a global effort that ends in not just a Pact or more laws but a paradigm shift in how societies on the planet operate, are governed, and how they interact.

I went searching for people and organizations that want Peace also.  I started with lists of all the antiwar, peace, anti-nuke, anti-imperialism, etc., organizations, actions and activities to find out who’s doing what, where and how. What I found was interesting.  I’ve known about some of these organizations and people but hadn’t delved very deeply into who they are and what they do.

I found an international list on Wikipedia and another good list, overlapping with the Wikipedia list, on WorldBeyondWar, a fairly new and ambitious organization with an international mission.   There are certainly hundreds of such organizations, blogs, etc., worldwide and perhaps thousands more with affiliated missions such as climate change that could be part of a global effort.

Some of the antiwar and peace organizations I reviewed were long time organizations going back to the 1950’s, with roots in anti nuclear weapon activism.  Many organizations have Boards of Directors and paid staffs with some overlapping each other with the same Board members.  There seems to be a sort of Peace “establishment” of sorts, including celebrities from the internet media such as Amy Goodman, Noam Chomsky, Jeremy Scahill, Juan Cole, etc. who attend the same conferences and other events, some annually.   Most of the conferences, activities and events end up taking place on the East Coast because alot of these people and organzations are tied into the pulse of the D.C. political establishment and it accoutrements.

Why is it that the more antiwar/peace organizations we have, the more war and less peace we have?  

Here’s what I’d ask some of them, particularly the ones with Boards of Directors and paid staff, and the ones that go from one conference to another, raising money along the way to support their activities.  Are you really interested in Peace?  Or are you more interested in continuing what you’re doing?  Hey, I’m just asking.

What happened to the antiwar movement?  It’s been splintered by the internet and capitalism.

This is the same old thing, going round and round, mostly preaching to the choir without the real outreach that’s needed, giving more people a voice.  That should be the goal.  The people want peace, that’s a given.  They’re out there.  The goal should be to give them a voice and present that voice along with all our other voices as one.  It can be their names and phone numbers, or maybe the location of their tent or cave, but they need to be counted. The mission should be to work together to make that happen.  

Aug 08 2014

TDS/TCR (Another Vacation!?)

Had I known I might have devoted more time to my pieces.

On the other hand they could have picked better guests.

I suppose it’s just as well.  Next week I’ll be mobile too and instead of blowing off my hosts politely excusing myself so I can spend some quality time with you, dear readers, I’ll be stuck dealing with them able to pay attention to every.  last.  excruciating.  detail.  of Uncle Phil’s hip replacement (while wittly pointing out I don’t understand why he needed it replaced since he’s just so with it and having him shake his cane at me and declaiming- “And that’s the problem with you kids today!”  C’mon Phil, I’m 120+ years old!).

These are the times you savor as you’re hooked up to your respirator gasping for your last breath because they remind you living is highly over rated.

Go into the light!  Actually it won’t be nearly that bad.  I’ll be travelling north where the only problem is that the bridge is still there when I have to leave.  Nope, it’s sheer inertia that makes me hate change as much as I do, even the good kind.

How will you fare?  I suspect without me, though I’m not vanishing to another dimension and I’m fairly well set to continue my usual obnoxiousness on the road. You know where I can be found.

I’ll be all around in the dark – I’ll be everywhere. Wherever you can look – wherever there’s a fight, so hungry people can eat, I’ll be there. Wherever there’s a cop beatin’ up a guy, I’ll be there. I’ll be in the way guys yell when they’re mad. I’ll be in the way kids laugh when they’re hungry and they know supper’s ready, and when the people are eatin’ the stuff they raise and livin’ in the houses they build – I’ll be there, too.

I don’t understand it, Tom.

Me, neither, Ma, but – just somethin’ I been thinkin’ about.

Oh, you’d rather be listening to Wu-Tang Clan.  Me too.

The Next Sean Hannity

The Next Reagan Democrat

Tracy Droz Tragos and Brian Chesky below.