Daily Archive: 08/26/2014

Aug 26 2014

Just Visiting

I’m not much of a road warrior and those familiar with my habits and the writings of Rex Stout are likely to identify me with a certain sedentary detective whom is no more likely to skip a meal than he is to miss an appointment with orchids.  He would say that if an eccentricity is easily foregone simply out of convenience it becomes mere petulance.

It’s hard for me to say which is less desirable, to be visited and suffer the preparations necessary to ensure the happiness of the guest, or to visit and subject to the whims and vagaries of one’s host.

In any event while some may call it flexibility and adaptation in tones of admiration, I’ve never been attracted to novelty for it’s own sake.  Having determined the best course, why would one pursue any other?

Yet there are obligations to friends and family whom seem anxious for the amusement I provide and having delayed and temporized as long as decently possible I find myself removed from my customary haunts and activities.

In short, on vacation.

Now for me, it’s not so bad.  I see interesting things, I have entertaining conversations, I eat differently and well in new and exciting places.  Still my routine is under suspension and my work desultory at best and non-existent at irregular and unpredictable intervals.

I delude myself that among my dozens of readers there are a few who have been puzzled by this phenomena and that is your explanation.

Aug 26 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

David Cay Johnston: Amid job stagnation, a prosperous class grows

A small group of very well-paid workers is earning a third of the nation’s wages. Why?

From 2000 to 2012, American workers as a whole had a tough time, as population grew much faster than new jobs and many people gave up looking for work. There was one major exception: jobs paying $100,000 to $400,000 (in 2012 dollars).

This is what I call America’s new prosperous class. Many of these workers have an advanced degree. They no longer struggle, but they continue to work because their wealth is far from adequate to support their lifestyles. [..]

Most astonishing is how much of the overall increase in wages earned by the 153.6 million people with a job in 2012 went to this narrow band of very well paid workers: Just 7 percent of all jobs pay in this range, but those workers collected 76.9 percent of the total real wage increase.

This rise of the prosperous class illustrates a fundamental shift in the economy – as wrenching and potentially enriching as the country’s 19th century transition from an agricultural nation into an industrial one. The change this time is to a knowledge economy in which big bang after big, big bang in science rapidly expands our expertise and mastery of our world, both physical and conceptual, and with it our wealth.

Dave Zirin: On the Little League World Series, Jackie Robinson West and Michael Brown

To paraphrase bell hooks, the events of this summer show with bracing clarity that there are huge swaths of this country that love black culture and hate black people. It is difficult to not see this reality in the events of the last week: events that counterpose something as American as apple pie, the Little League World Series, and something else that is frankly also as American as apple pie: the killing of unarmed black men and women by police. [..]

If only the real Jackie Robinson were alive today, he would undoubtedly say that there is nothing post-racial about a world where two black people are killed on average by police every week. He would say, as he said in the 1960s, “All these guys who were saying that we’ve got it made through athletics, it’s just not so. You as an individual can make it, but I think we’ve got to concern ourselves with the masses of the people-not by what happens as an individual.”

If only the largely white Little League crowds cheering this electric team from Chicago could know as stone-cold fact that if Jackie Robinson were alive, there is no question he would be brimming with pride during the day at the play of the team that bears his name, but at night he’d be in Ferguson committed to the struggle for civil rights. He would also be challenging his white fans to care: to not isolate themselves from what Ferguson has exposed but to help confront it. He would repeat the same words he uttered fifty years ago: “There’s not an American in this country free until every one of us is free.”

Eugene Robinson: When Mistakes Become Deadly

To be young, male and black in America means not being allowed to make mistakes. Forgetting this, as we’ve seen so many times, can be fatal.

The case of Michael Brown, who was laid to rest Monday, is anomalous only in that it is so extreme: an unarmed black teenager riddled with bullets by a white police officer in a community plagued by racial tension.

African-Americans make up 67 percent of the population of Ferguson, Mo., but there are just four black officers on the 53-member police force-which responded to peaceful demonstrations by rolling out military-surplus armored vehicles and firing tear gas. It is easy to understand how Brown and his peers might see the police not as public servants but as troops in an army of occupation.

And yes, Brown made mistakes. He was walking in the middle of the street rather than on the sidewalk, according to witnesses, and he was carrying a box of cigars that he apparently took from a convenience store. Neither is a capital offense.

Marwan Bishara: Obama’s miscalculation

And the greater lesson from the Middle East.

President Barack Obama, who by any measure is a smart and shrewd politician, must be feeling rather foolish nowadays. Not only have his predictions proved wrong about Iraq and al-Qaeda, but, under his watch, America is also being drawn back into the Iraq quagmire three years after it withdrew.

The president was all optimistic when he secured US withdrawal from Iraq in 2011. But his claim of “extraordinary achievement”, of leaving behind a “sovereign, stable and self-reliant Iraq”, was soon shown to be, at best, wishful thinking – indeed a grave error.  

Despite retaining eyes and ears on the Iraqi ground, the advance of the Islamic State group, over the last few months has clearly taken Washington by surprise. It’s yet another terrible failure of US intelligence services.

How much of this can be said to be Obama’s fault? Of course, he cannot be blamed for the follies of his predecessor, nor is he responsible for half a century of foreign policy that compromised America’s values in favour of its short-term interests.

Still, the president does share major responsibility for the present failures after serving five years in office.

Obama might be careful, calculating and nuanced, but his foreign policy has produced one blowback after another from Libya to Afghanistan through Iraq and Syria.

John Nichols: Secret $700,000 Donation Has Scott Walker Scrambling to Address ‘Appearance of Corruption’

When Gogebic Taconite LLC began moving in November 2010-the same month Scott Walker was elected governor of Wisconsin-to develop an open-pit iron mine in one of the most environmentally sensitive regions of northern Wisconsin, the Florida-based mining firm got a lot of pushback. Residents of the region objected, along with Native American tribes. So, too, did citizens from across Wisconsin, a state that has long treasured the wild beauty of the Penokee Range. Environmental and conservation groups voiced their concerns, as did local and state officials from across the political spectrum.

The outcry heightened as Gogebic Taconite and its allies promoted a radical rewrite of existing mining regulations in order to promote a project that could grow to be four miles long, more than a mile wide and 1,000 feet deep. Democratic and Republican legislators began to ask tough questions. Yet Governor Scott Walker remained “eager to advance a mining bill,” according to Wisconsin media that reported extensively on the governor’s determination to overrule objections to the grand schemes of an out-of-state corporation that newly released documents show secretly steered $700,000 to “independent” efforts to provide political cover for the embattled governor.

Wendall Potter: [ Docs, Drug Companies, Insurers Drive Up Medicare Costs

Obamacare forced cuts at hospitals, but not for other segments of industry http://www.publicintegrity.org…

As one of an estimated 78 million baby boomers in this country, I was delighted to hear that Medicare’s Hospital Trust Fund won’t run out of money until 2030 – 13 years later than projected in 2009, the year before Congress passed the Affordable Care Act. [..]

But the Hospital Trust Fund accounts for only about half of total Medicare spending. Most of the rest goes to cover physician fees, prescription drugs and to provide incentives for health insurance companies to participate in the Medicare Advantage program and administer the Medicare drug program.

The Affordable Care Act could have done much more than it does to curb spending in those areas. Because it doesn’t is a testament to the power and influence of the lobbyists who represent doctors, pharmaceutical companies and health insurers.

Aug 26 2014

TBC: Morning Musing 8.26.14

I was thinking about The Breakfast Club this past weekend, mulling over the format (for the editions I author), mulling over how interesting it may or may not be to readers and had some interesting ideas. Let’s face it, we all get our news 20 ways til Sunday from a million different places, and by the time you read TBC, you’ve probably heard most of it anyway. So it really is kind of just another news feed in a world of 24 hour news feeds.

So I was thinking, instead of doing just a bunch of short news stories and blog clips for The Breakfast Club, I would do something shorter and more narrow, whatever it was that intrigued me, moved me, surprised me, made me laugh, or pissed me off that day. So from now on on the days that I author, I’m going to do something different.

Without further adieu, here is poli’s Morning Musing…

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

That there are Climate Change deniers drives me absolutely batty. I’m the kid who loved weather. The first book I ever bought was on storms when I was all of 7 years old. I grew up in SoCal, where there really was no weather other than endless sunshine, so I remember most of the very rare storms that we experienced. I would make my friends sit by the window if we were out somewhere, just so I could see. To this day, if there’s an awesome storm, I, and if I’m with family, then either my ma or my sister cuz they’re both kind of weather freaks too, will get a good vantage point just to watch. Hell – one of the draws of the south for me was storms.

(Go ahead! Jump!)

Aug 26 2014

On This Day In History August 26

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.

August 26 is the 238th day of the year (239th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 127 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1920, The 19th Amendment, guaranteeing women the right to vote, is formally adopted into the U.S. Constitution by proclamation of Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby. The amendment was the culmination of more than 70 years of struggle by woman suffragists. Its two sections read simply:

“The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex” and “Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.”

America’s woman suffrage movement was founded in the mid 19th century by women who had become politically active through their work in the abolitionist and temperance movements. In July 1848, 200 woman suffragists, organized by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott, met in Seneca Falls, New York, to discuss women’s rights. After approving measures asserting the right of women to educational and employment opportunities, they passed a resolution that declared “it is the duty of the women of this country to secure to themselves their sacred right to the elective franchise.” For proclaiming a women’s right to vote, the Seneca Falls Convention was subjected to public ridicule, and some backers of women’s rights withdrew their support. However, the resolution marked the beginning of the woman suffrage movement in America.

n January 1918, the woman suffrage amendment passed the House of Representatives with the necessary two-thirds majority vote. In June 1919, it was approved by the Senate and sent to the states for ratification. Campaigns were waged by suffragists around the country to secure ratification, and on August 18, 1920, Tennessee became the 36th state to ratify the amendment, giving it the two-thirds majority of state ratification necessary to make it the law of the land.

The package containing the certified record of the action of the Tennessee legislature was sent by train to the nation’s capital, arriving in the early hours of August 26. At 8 a.m. that morning, Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby signed it without ceremony at his residence in Washington. None of the leaders of the woman suffrage movement were present when the proclamation was signed, and no photographers or film cameras recorded the event. That afternoon, Carrie Chapman Catt, head of the National American Suffrage Association, was received at the White House by President Woodrow Wilson and Edith Wilson, the first lady.

The 26th of August was proclaimed “Women’s Equality Day” in 1971 when a joint resolution, that was introduced by Rep. Bella Abzug, was passed. Each year the President issues a proclamation recognizing women’s equality.

WHEREAS, the women of the United States have been treated as second-class citizens and have not been entitled the full rights and privileges, public or private, legal or institutional, which are available to male citizens of the United States; and

WHEREAS, the women of the United States have united to assure that these rights and privileges are available to all citizens equally regardless of sex;

WHEREAS, the women of the United States have designated August 26th, the anniversary date of the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment, as symbol of the continued fight for equal rights: and

WHEREAS, the women of United States are to be commended and supported in their organizations and activities,

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, that August 26th of each year is designated as “Women’s Equality Day,” and the President is authorized and requested to issue a proclamation annually in commemoration of that day in 1920, on which the women of America were first given the right to vote, and that day in 1970, on which a nationwide demonstration for women’s rights took place.