Daily Archive: 11/04/2014

Nov 04 2014

Election Day is Here: Vote Your Fear

Finally, after today no more robo calls and no more political adds, at least for awhile. Voter turn out is expected to be low, as typical in mid-terms and as was seen in 2006, the party that is not in the White House is expected to take over the leadership of the Senate and further secure its majority in the House. Why voters will put the party that destroyed the US economy and got us into two unpaid for wars is pretty obvious, Americans are afraid and the Democratic party doesn’t exactly exude the confidence that they can lead. The GOP hung their hats on fear and won.

The Phantasmagoric World of Washington

By Tom Engelhardt, Huffington Post

Sometimes it seemed that only two issues mattered in the midterm election campaigns just ended.  No, I’m not talking about Obamacare, or the inequality gap, or the country’s sagging infrastructure, or education, or energy policy.  I mean two issues that truly threaten the well-being of citizens from Kansas, Colorado, and Iowa to New Hampshire and North Carolina.  In those states and others, both were debated heatedly by candidates for the Senate and House, sometimes almost to the exclusion of anything else.

You know what I’m talking about — two issues on the lips of politicians nationwide, at the top of the news 24/7, and constantly trending on social media: ISIS and Ebola.  Think of them as the two horsemen of the present American apocalypse.

And think of this otherwise drab midterm campaign as the escalation election.  Republican candidates will arrive in Washington having beaten the war and disease drums particularly energetically, and they’re not likely to stop. [..]

Keep this in mind as well: We’re talking about a country that has lived in a phantasmagoric landscape of danger for years now.  It has built the most extensive system of national security and global surveillance ever created to protect Americans from a single danger — terrorism — that, despite 9/11, is near the bottom of the list of actual dangers in American life.  As a country, we are now so invested in terrorism protection that every little blip on the terror screen causes further panic (and so sends yet more money into the coffers of the national security state and the military-industrial-homeland-security-intelligence complex).

Now, a terror disease has been added into the mix, one that — like a number of terror organizations in the Greater Middle East and Africa — is a grave danger in its “homeland,” just not in ours.

Nov 04 2014

Midthusiasm and the Blame Obama Crowd

So I’ve been nagging my 22 year old niece to vote for the past week, making sure that she knew her polling place, the hours for voting, and about the local ballot initiatives, and the impact they might have.

Do I think she’s going to vote? Hell no.

She practically runs away every time I bring the subject up. She’s told me how she feels.

What difference does it make? My vote didn’t change anything last time. Every time I work extra hours, most of it disappears in taxes. Things just get worse and worse. Nobody cares. Nothing ever changes.

So I try to explain to her that she doesn’t make enough money to pay income tax. What she thinks is income tax, is social insurance programs with benefits that are guaranteed for as long as she lives. Anything over withheld she’ll get back like a bonus when she files her 1040 ez.

I explain how much her vote matters and how if the wrong people get elected, her grandmother’s teacher pension will likely get cut. And that may mean the roof over her head doesn’t get fixed or worse.

La La La I’m not listening. You’re making me depressed. You’re just a rabid political junkie. Worse than a Red Sox fan.

Here’s the thing though. I don’t have a team. And she’s right. To a large extent- Nothing ever changes.

Nov 04 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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Zephyr Teachout: What ever happened to ‘of the people, by the people, for the people’? A manifesto

The super-rich have just bought another election. They own American democracy. Here’s how to take the power back

ne early morning in Brooklyn a few months ago, when I was still running for governor of New York, I encountered a man talking to himself, agitated and loud. As I passed him on the sidewalk, he turned to me and started muttering, a blend of insults and epigrams. And then, just as I was about to vanish down the stairs into the subway, he yelled with a full throat:

   I am the captain of my ship. I am the master of my soul.

I was shaken, and not a little moved. This man is all of us, protesting that we still have control over ourselves despite the obvious evidence otherwise.

Because I was on the way to a political event, I felt it more broadly. We – America – we are that man, yelling about our own self-government, broadcasting these elections, trying in bluster to defy this simple, terrifying truth: we are not governed by ourselves. We have given up control of the ship. [..]

So we need to hold on to whatever remaining levers of power we have left. We need a populist movement made of candidates and protests and clear demands, with two key prongs: [..]

Joe Nocera: Guns and Public Health

Mike Weisser is my favorite gun dealer. The longtime proprietor of the Ware Gun Shop in Ware, Mass., Weisser, 70, estimates he has sold more than 40,000 guns in his career as a wholesaler and retailer. He also has a nice little business teaching a gun-safety course that Massachusetts requires of all new gun owners.

“I love guns,” he told me unabashedly when we spoke the other day. With a chuckle, he added, “I just bought one yesterday.” [..]

But he has also been relentless in taking on the N.R.A. He does not believe that the Second Amendment means that people ought to be able to take a gun anywhere they want. He includes in his emails a quote from the novelist Walter Mosley: “If you carry a gun, it’s bound to go off sooner or later.” A website called AmmoLand has described him as “basically a double agent agent [sic] working to undermine our Second [Amendment] rights with his articles.”

Of all the things Weisser advocates, the issue he is most passionate about is the need for doctors to become part of the debate over gun safety. More than that, he believes that doctors need to be talking about guns in terms of their effect on public health, both to their own patients and to the public at large. In his view, “doctors allowed themselves to get pushed out of the gun debate” during the time of the assault-weapons ban and other gun restrictions that were passed during Bill Clinton’s presidency. “When the debate was about smoking, it was always a health issue, and doctors played a central role,” he says. “But the debate over guns became about their social utility rather than the public health aspects. And that is exactly how the N.R.A. wants the issue framed.”

John Nichols: Why Tonight Is Not Just About Senate Control

If Republicans make significant gains in Senate races Tuesday, then politics will be following pattern. Presidents who are elected by big margins initially and then re-elected comfortably tend to have a lousy time of it in their sixth years. [..]

If Republicans pick up the six seats they need to secure clear control of the Senate tonight-or after runoff elections in Louisiana and Georgia-that will be big news. But the real question is what happens with the governorships.

In a wave election, the party that wins big in congressional races also wins big in the states. That’s what happened in 2010, when Republicans took the US House, shifted plenty of Senate seats and made big gains in statehouses. That’s also what happened in a number of historic wave elections.

But will it happen tonight?

Jason Weeden and Robert Kurzban: Elections 2014: Your Very Predictable Vote

As America completes another costly, polarized and exhausting election cycle, it’s commonplace to characterize our society as being divided into warring tribes of liberals and conservatives. But this view oversimplifies the causes of our political differences.

Most people aren’t ideologically pure, and most don’t derive their opinions from abstract ideologies and principles. People are more strongly influenced by the effects of policies on themselves, their families and their wider social networks. Their views, in short, are often based on self-interest. [..]

If the United States set policy simply by polling its residents, it would look quite different. There would be greater spending on the poor, health care, Social Security and education. Immigration would be reduced. School prayer would be allowed. Anti-American speech by Muslims would be restricted. Abortion would be legal in cases of rape and fetal deformity, but illegal if the abortion was motivated by not wanting more children, by being poor, or by being single.

Why doesn’t America look like this? Negotiations at the federal level result in more conservative economic policies, and more liberal social policies. That’s because they involve one set of highly educated, wealthy representatives negotiating with another, and the policies that result reflect their own core interests.

Leslie Savan: Why the Media Are Ignoring the Dangerous Ideas of Joni Ernst and Other Extremists Now on the Cusp of Power

Joni Ernst, who may become Iowa’s next senator, denies climate change, supports a personhood amendment and says she’d use her “beautiful little Smith & Wesson” to defend herself “from the government, should they decide that my rights are no longer important.” She’s also seriously flirted with a John Birch Society-backed conspiracy theory about an evil plot called Agenda 21.

But all you’d know from the corporate media is that Ernst made a really catchy ad about castrating pigs and that she is supposedly (but not really) the victim of a sexist remark made by outgoing Democratic senator Tom Harkin.

Norman Ornstein, the pundit who was once quoted all over until he dared to say that Republicans are the real obstructionists, explains such grand omissions brilliantly:

The most common press narrative for elections this year is to contrast them with the 2010 and 2012 campaigns. Back then, the GOP “establishment” lost control of its nominating process, ended up with a group of extreme Senate candidates who said wacky things-Todd Akin, Richard Mourdock, Sharron Angle-and snatched defeat from the jaws of victory in races that should have been slam dunks. Now the opposite has happened: The establishment has fought back and won, vanquishing the Tea Party and picking top-flight candidates who are disciplined and mainstream, dramatically unlike Akin and Angle.

It is a great narrative, a wonderful organizing theme. But any evidence that contradicts or clouds the narrative devalues it, which is perhaps why evidence to the contrary tends to be downplayed or ignored. Meantime, stories that show personal gaffes or bonehead moves by the opponents of these new, attractive mainstream candidates, fit that narrative and are highlighted.

Zaid Jilani: The looming disappointment of Michelle Nunn

A more populist campaign could have re-energized Georgia’s politics and saved the Senate for the Democrats

The nation’s political eyes have been on Georgia for the past several months, which, according to polls, has teetered on the edge of slipping into the blue column for the first time in 12 years. The races for governor and the U.S. Senate have been competitive (though Republicans have a clear edge going into Election Day), not to mention a host of down-ticket elections, for the first time since 2002. The state’s changing racial demographics and aggressive registration of minority voters is generally credited with this trend.

For much of the country, the Senate race in particular is crucial because it may decide who controls Congress’ upper chamber come January. But for Georgians, living in a state plagued by all sorts of bread-and-butter issues – high unemployment, massive numbers of people without health care and very high rates of child poverty – the campaign offered little substance and lots of slogans. This is perhaps why the race as well as control of the Senate is slipping out of the Democrats’ grasp.

Nov 04 2014

The Breakfast Club (Calm Before the Storm)

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

Militants storm the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and seize its occupants; Israel’s Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin is assassinated; Soviet troops move in to crush the Hungarian Revolution; Baseball hall-of-famer Cy Young dies; Sean “Diddy” Combs is born.

Breakfast Tunes

Nov 04 2014

On This Day In History November 4

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.

November 4 is the 308th day of the year (309th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 57 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1922, British archaeologist Howard Carter and his workmen discover a step leading to the tomb of King Tutankhamen in the Valley of the Kings in Egypt.

The British Egyptologist Howard Carter (employed by Lord Carnarvon) discovered Tutankhamun’s tomb (since designated KV62) in the Valley of the Kings on November 4, 1922, near the entrance to the tomb of Ramesses VI, thereby setting off a renewed interest in all things Egyptian in the modern world. Carter contacted his patron, and on November 26 that year, both men became the first people to enter Tutankhamun’s tomb in over 3000 years. After many weeks of careful excavation, on February 16, 1923, Carter opened the inner chamber and first saw the sarcophagus of Tutankhamun. All of this was conveyed to the public by H. V. Morton, the only journalist allowed on the scene.

The first step to the stairs was found on November 4, 1922. The following day saw the exposure of a complete staircase. The end of November saw access to the Antechamber and the discovery of the Annex, and then the Burial Chamber and Treasury.

On November 29, the tomb was officially opened, and the first announcement and press conference followed the next day. The first item was removed from the tomb on December 27.

February 16, 1923 saw the official opening of the Burial Chamber, and April 5 saw the death of Lord Carnarvon.

On February 12, 1924, the granite lid of the sarcophagus was raised In April, Carter argued with the Antiquities Service, and left the excavation for the United States.

In January 1925, Carter resumed activities in the tomb, and on October 13, he removed the cover of the first sarcophagus; on October 23, he removed the cover of the second sarcophagus; on October 28, the team removed the cover of the final sarcophagus and exposed the mummy; and on November 11, the examination of the remains of Tutankhamun started.

Work started in the Treasury on October 24, 1926, and between October 30 and December 15, 1927, the Annex was emptied and examined.

On November 10, 1930, eight years after the discovery, the last objects were finally removed from the tomb of the long lost Pharaoh.

Nov 04 2014

TDS/TCR (This is Bat Country!)


Truly Bizzare

Eminiar VII

The real news, 3 (count ’em) 3 web exclusive Spoon performances and this week’s guests below.

Nov 04 2014

Don’t Vote

Seriously. Don’t do it unless you really want to.

It is not your duty. You are not obligated to vote because THE TROOPS!!!

Every year or two, the political parties play a Game of Thrones. They choose the candidates and the voters and then spend millions of dollars convincing us that the world will come to fucking end if the other team wins. If they can’t inspire you to vote because their candidates are promising, they will scare the crap out of you by pointing out the other guy is the next Hitler. For those who stopped being afraid of the team, they have another argument: It’s your duty.

That’s right. If you don’t show up and pull the lever for the lesser of the two evils, many of whom were coronated or bought their party’s nomination and may have even chosen their own voters. Yes, I know that the other guys also gerrymander legislative districts, but that doesn’t make it any more undemocratic.

Anyway, if you don’t show up and vote for a candidate you don’t like, who has no interest in following through on his/her promises, who only climbed to the top via a corrupt and undemocratic process, it is YOU, not the assholes who created this shit show, who is unpatriotic and ignoring your “civic duty”?