Daily Archive: 10/07/2014

Oct 07 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: The Good News and Bad News About 5.9 Percent Unemployment

The jobs report on Friday showed the economy created 248,000 jobs in September and the unemployment rate fell below 6.0 percent for the first time since the early days of the recession. This is good news for workers. While we are still far from anything resembling full employment, it is getting easier for people to find jobs. [..]

Immediately after the jobs report was released, James Bullard, the president of the St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank, was on television insisting that the Fed had to start raising interest rates. Bullard complained that the Fed was behind schedule and needed to slow the economy to prevent inflation. [..]

Bullard wants to see the economy slow because he doesn’t want to see more workers get jobs. This is because when more workers get jobs, it will increase their bargaining power and they will be in a position to demand higher wages. This is exactly the inflation that worries Bullard. If workers are getting higher wages then we will see more inflation than in a situation where wages are stagnant. Bullard wants the Fed to slow the economy so that wages remain stagnant.

New York Times Editorial Board: One Step Closer to Marriage Equality

On Monday morning, the first day of the Supreme Court’s new term, the most exhilarating news came not from anything the justices did, but from one thing they didn’t do. Without explanation and against expectations, the court declined to hear any of the seven petitions asking them to reject a constitutional right to same-sex marriage. By choosing not to review those cases, the justices made it possible for same-sex couples in a majority of states to marry. {..]

Every day that the justices do not declare a constitutional right to same-sex marriage, a child in San Antonio feels confusion and shame that her fathers cannot get married; a woman in Atlanta is prohibited from making emergency medical decisions for her life partner; a man in Biloxi, Miss., is denied veteran’s survivor benefits after his husband dies. The consequences of being treated as inferior under the law are real, immediate and devastating.

Same-sex marriage is among the most important civil-rights issues of our time, and the country is ready to resolve it once and for all. The justices have all the information they need to rule that there is a constitutional right to same-sex marriage. What are they waiting for?

Richard (RJ) Eskow: Mr. President, Here Are Two Outstanding Choices for Attorney General

The kindest word one can apply to Attorney General Eric Holder’s record is “undistinguished.” Now that his time in office is drawing to a close, it’s clear that his failure to pursue criminal bankers will always overshadow his other accomplishments in public memory. But President Obama’s tenure is not yet over, and his next pick for attorney general could help reshape both the nation and his own legacy.

Two candidates could be truly transformative as the next Attorney General: Former regulator William K. Black and Labor Secretary Tom Perez.

Holder’s refusal to pursue criminal action against his former Wall Street clients was matched only by his contemptuous dismissal of the criticism engendered by his inaction. He attempted to disguise this inaction with false claims which earned widespread rebukes. He ran out the clock on a number of criminal prosecutions. He oversaw the indictments of twice as many government leakers than in all previous administrations put together, insisting that they required “very aggressive action.” He didn’t feel the same way about the bank fraud which decimated millions of lives and nearly destroyed the economy.

As economist Dean Baker reminded us after his departure, the problem isn’t that Eric Holder never put Robert Rubin, Lloyd Blankfein, or other chiefs of lawbreaking banks behind bars. The problem is that he never even tried.

Cenk Uygur: What Has Obama Done for You Lately?

an anyone tell me what President Obama’s second-term goals are? What has he accomplished? What would he like to accomplish?

A little bit of immigration reform? Wow! What else? Still waiting.

I’ve never seen a guy want to coast this much as president. Even Bush who couldn’t wait to get out of office and be an ex-president was at least still trying really bad ideas to the end. What in the world is President Obama’s agenda?! [..]

The base has been eviscerated. There is no vision. The approval ratings have been battered. And President Obama hasn’t really done anything colossally wrong yet. That’s why you have Fox News invent nonsense non-scandals like the IRS because they don’t have anything real on him. His biggest real problem has been that he has continued George Bush’s foreign and economic policies. Of course, the right-wing doesn’t want to criticize him for that. But what if he does at some point make a real mistake? The roof is going to cave in.

We have a do-nothing president to match our do-nothing Congress. Gee, I wonder why nothing gets done in Washington? Imagine a progressive president fighting to fix the insane economic inequality in the country or to end the senseless drug war or best of all battling to get money out of politics. Wouldn’t that be wonderful? Well, that’s not the president we have. We have one who is coasting. But God knows what he’s coasting toward.

David Dayen: Secrets of the bailout, exposed: Why you should be watching the AIG trial

To this day, information on the banks’ heist and how it went down is pathetically scant. That’s about to change now

The AIG bailout trial began in Washington last week. This is a case where one ruthless, reckless corporate CEO, AIG’s former chieftain Hank Greenberg, argues that his company wasn’t treated as well during the bailout as those of other ruthless, reckless corporate CEOs. So there’s no real rooting interest for anyone with at least one foot planted in reality.

But as I wrote recently, regardless of the outcome, this trial should matter to every American. In fact, just in its first week, we’ve learned a lot of new information about how the bailout architects- then-Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, ex-Federal Reserve chair Ben Bernanke, and former president of the New York Fed Timothy Geithner – conducted themselves amid the chaos of the financial crisis. And it doesn’t reflect well on any of them, with concealed information, bait-and-switches, and favorites played among financial institutions. As these three prepare to take the stand this week in the case, we should be pleased to finally have this debate about the bailout in public.

Oct 07 2014

Democracy Now on Syria featuring Jeremy Scahill

What gets me is for all the rah, rah jingoistic media cheerleading how unclear our goals are.  Are we tring to stop the Islamic State (which poses no threat to us) because their form of capital punishment is beheading just like our good friends the Saudis?  Any form of capital punishment is pretty much the same thing- drugs or bullets, bombs or beheadings.  Perhaps it’s to destroy the Khorasan Group which is planning strikes in the U.S. “imminently” in the sense of sometime between now and the heat death of the universe, but which now seem to be the “Wolf Unit”, a sniper training school used by all the anti-Asaad factions including the ones we claim are still “moderate”.  And speaking of Asaad, wasn’t he our new next Hitler?

All this spinning makes me dizzy.

After U.S. Sanctions & Wars Tore Iraq Apart, Can American-Led Strikes Be Expected to Save It?

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Islamic State militants have reportedly made advances in both Iraq and Syria despite an escalating U.S.-led bombing. In Iraq, militants are said to have seized control of the town of Heet in Anbar province. In Syria, militants have advanced on Kurdish towns near the Turkish border, forcing tens of thousands of Syrian Kurds to flee in recent days. The United Nations says more than 1,100 Iraqis were killed in violence last month. The actual toll is far higher because it does not include deaths in areas controlled by the Islamic State. The United Nations says the Islamic State has carried out mass executions, abducted women and girls as sex slaves, and used children as fighters. The United Nations also says airstrikes by the Iraqi government have caused “significant civilian deaths and injuries.” This comes as the White House has confirmed it has relaxed standards aimed at preventing civilian deaths for the U.S. airstrikes in Iraq and Syria.

Transcript

“War Has Failed Miserably”: Could U.S. Strikes Unite Extremists at Odds in Syria?

Monday, September 29, 2014

In an interview with CBS’s 60 Minutes on Sunday, President Obama acknowledged the United States has underestimated the rise of the Islamic State. With the U.S. military operation in Iraq and Syria now expanding, we are joined by Raed Jarrar, Iraqi-American blogger, political analyst, and policy impacts coordinator at the American Friends Service Committee. “The U.S. military force to deal with extremist groups has been tried before, and it has failed miserably,” Jarrar says. “The U.S. military intervention is delaying and making a political solution harder.”

Transcript

Jeremy Scahill on Obama’s Orwellian War in Iraq: We Created the Very Threat We Claim to be Fighting

As Vice President Joe Biden warns it will take a “hell of a long fight” for the United States to stop militants from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, we speak to Jeremy Scahill, author of the book, “Dirty Wars: The World is a Battlefield.” We talk about how the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 that helped create the threat now posed by the Islamic State. We also discuss the role of Baathist forces in ISIS, Obama’s targeting of journalists, and the trial of four former Blackwater operatives involved in the 2007 massacre at Baghdad’s Nisoor Square.

Transcript

Who is Gen. Michael Nagata, the Man Tapped by Obama to Train the Syrian Rebels?

Transcript

While stationed in Pakistan, Nagata wrote a classified briefing attacking the reporting of Scahill and Seymour Hersh after they published separate articles exposing secret U.S. military operations inside Pakistan. Documents later leaked by Chelsea Manning backed up the findings in Scahill and Hersh’s reports. Nagata’s report was never publicly released, but Scahill says he learned about it from a member of Congress.

Oct 07 2014

The Breakfast Club (I Drove All Night)

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. 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.

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This Day in History

U.S. and Britain strike Afghanistan; Achille Lauro hijacked; Supreme Court pick Clarence Thomas faces damaging claims; Matthew Shepard beaten to death; Singer John Mellencamp born; ‘Cats’ hits Broadway.

Breakfast Tunes

Oct 07 2014

On This Day In History October 7

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.

October 7 is the 280th day of the year (281st in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 85 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1955, Beat poet, Allen Ginsberg reads his poem “Howl” at a poetry reading at Six Gallery in San Francisco.

Irwin Allen Ginsberg (June 3, 1926 – April 5, 1997) was an American poet who vigorously opposed militarism, materialism and sexual repression. In the 1950s, Ginsberg was a leading figure of the Beat Generation, an anarchic group of young men and women who joined poetry, song, sex, wine and illicit drugs with passionate political ideas that championed personal freedoms. Ginsberg’s epic poem Howl, in which he celebrates his fellow “angel-headed hipsters” and excoriates what he saw as the destructive forces of capitalism and conformity in the United States, is one of the classic poems of the Beat Generation  The poem, dedicated to writer Carl Solomon, has a memorable opening:

I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by

madness, starving hysterical naked,

dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn

looking for an angry fix…

In October 1955, Ginsberg and five other unknown poets gave a free reading at an experimental art gallery in San Francisco. Ginsberg’s Howl electrified the audience. According to fellow poet Michael McClure, it was clear “that a barrier had been broken, that a human voice and body had been hurled against the harsh wall of America and its supporting armies and navies and academies and institutions and ownership systems and power support bases.” In 1957, Howl attracted widespread publicity when it became the subject of an obscenity trial in which a San Francisco prosecutor argued it contained “filthy, vulgar, obscene, and disgusting language.” The poem seemed especially outrageous in 1950s America because it depicted both heterosexual and homosexual sex at a time when sodomy laws made homosexual acts a crime in every U.S. state. Howl reflected Ginsberg’s own bisexuality and his homosexual relationships with a number of men, including Peter Orlovsky, his lifelong partner. Judge Clayton W. Horn ruled that Howl was not obscene, adding, “Would there be any freedom of press or speech if one must reduce his vocabulary to vapid innocuous euphemisms?”

In Howl and in his other poetry, Ginsberg drew inspiration from the epic, free verse style of the 19th century American poet Walt Whitman. Both wrote passionately about the promise (and betrayal) of American democracy; the central importance of erotic experience; and the spiritual quest for the truth of everyday existence. J. D. McClatchy, editor of the Yale Review called Ginsberg “the best-known American poet of his generation, as much a social force as a literary phenomenon.” McClatchy added that Ginsberg, like Whitman, “was a bard in the old manner – outsized, darkly prophetic, part exuberance, part prayer, part rant. His work is finally a history of our era’s psyche, with all its contradictory urges.”

Ginsberg was a practicing Buddhist who studied Eastern religious disciplines extensively. One of his most influential teachers was the Tibetan Buddhist, the Venerable Chögyam Trungpa, founder of the Naropa Institute, now Naropa University at Boulder, Colorado. At Trungpa’s urging, Ginsberg and poet Anne Waldman started a poetry school there in 1974 which they called the “Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics”. In spite of his attraction to Eastern religions, the journalist Jane Kramer argues that Ginsberg, like Whitman, adhered to an “American brand of mysticism” that was, in her words, “rooted in humanism and in a romantic and visionary ideal of harmony among men.” Ginsberg’s political activism was consistent with his religious beliefs. He took part in decades of non-violent political protest against everything from the Vietnam War to the War on Drugs. The literary critic, Helen Vendler, described Ginsberg as “tirelessly persistent in protesting censorship, imperial politics, and persecution of the powerless.” His achievements as a writer as well as his notoriety as an activist gained him honors from established institutions. Ginsberg’s book of poems, The Fall of America, won the National Book Award for poetry in 1974. Other honors included the National Arts Club gold medal and his induction into the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, both in 1979. In 1995, Ginsberg won a Pulitzer Prize for his book, Cosmopolitan Greetings: Poems 1986-1992.

Oct 07 2014

TDS/TCR (Medical Center)

TDS TCR

Also, that’s redundant.

Zombie Apocalypse

The real news and this week’s guests below.