Daily Archive: 11/11/2014

Nov 11 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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Tim Hsia and Anna Ivey: Fix the New G.I. Bill

This Veterans Day there will be over a million students on college campuses in the United States who are using their G.I. Bill benefits. The Department of Veterans Affairs forecasts that the number of student veterans will increase by 20 percent in the next few years.

These student veterans are unlike the vast majority of their student counterparts, as more than 60 percent are first-generation students and almost half have children of their own. Much more needs to be done to ensure that they are getting the education they need to succeed in the modern economy. [..]

Perhaps the most troubling phenomenon returning veterans face right now is this: predatory for-profit schools that exploit their G.I. Bill funding and offer them – and taxpayers – very little in return. The schools in question are eager to access our veterans’ grants and loans, but they employ deceptive recruiting practices and achieve low graduation rates.

Dean Baker: Election Results Indicate Huge Mandate for New Trade Pacts

Apparently that is how the DC-insider crowd saw the elections last week. The elite media were filled with news and opinion pieces on how the election opened the door for the approval of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Pact (TTIP). According to the purveyors of elite opinion, this is one of the key areas on which the Republicans in Congress and President Obama can agree.

That assessment is striking since few, if any, of the winning candidates in last week’s election made a point of running on their support of these agreements. Nor did President Obama highlight his work on these pacts in his re-election campaign. In fact, the last thing most voters probably remember President Obama saying about trade was his pledge to renegotiate NAFTA when he was running for president the first time, back in 2008.

The turn of the leadership of both parties and the centers of elite opinion to these trade deals shows the incredible contempt they have for the general public and the political process. We just completed lengthy and expensive campaigns where they had ample opportunity to push the case for these deals. Instead we got panicky commercials highlighting everything from the Ebola threat to ISIS beheadings.

But in the view of our political leaders that stuff was just for the kids. Now that we have the election out of the way, the adults are prepared to return to real business.

Lee Fang: Obama Can Reform Dark Money With a Stroke of a Pen

There’s a powerful solution for disclosing the secret-money sloshing around in our political system. It does not require an act of Congress or action from any of the effectively toothless campaign-finance watchdogs, like the Federal Election Commission. In fact, this solution could be passed in an instant, and the only requirement for action is political will.

President Barack Obama can issue an executive order today that requires government contractors to disclose their dark-money campaign contributions.

Why doesn’t he? And why don’t campaign-finance-reform organizations push for such a fix?

Paul Buccheit: The Billion Dollar a Month Club: A Runaway Transfer of Wealth to the Super-Rich

Our national wealth has grown by an astonishing $30 trillion since the recession, but most of it has gone to people who were already wealthy.

We are living through a massive redistribution of America’s net worth to the beneficiaries of a financial industry that has used cunning and money and power to impose their version of economic “freedom” while deregulating any policies that might have stopped the incessant transfer of wealth.

It’s getting worse, by the year and by the month. President Obama’s claim that “We’ve recovered faster and come farther than almost any other advanced country on Earth” applies largely to the people whose wealth accumulation has dramatically pulled up the averages. The evidence is staring us in the face, but the super-rich are only watching their portfolios.

William Hartung: The Escalation of the War in Iraq Is Grounded in Fantasy

Of the many fallacies underlying the current U.S. military intervention in Iraq, the greatest may be the idea that the United States has a reliable partner in the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi. In his Face the Nation interview, President Obama tied the latest escalation of the war to his trust in the new Iraqi government: “Phase one was getting an Iraqi government that was inclusive and credible — and we now have done that.”

The idea that the Abadi government is inclusive will come as news to people in Iraq. In one of his most consequential decisions since taking office, Abadi appointed Mohammed Salem al-Ghabban, a member of the Badr Organization, as interior minister. The Badr organization is run by Hadi al-Amiri. According to a U.S. embassy cable released by Wikileaks, Amiri ordered the torture and killing of over 2,000 Sunnis between 2004 and 2006 during a campaign of ethnic cleansing in Baghdad. One of the torture methods involved using a power drill to pierce the skull of the victims. [..]

Government-sanctioned violence against Sunnis is not a thing of the past. In the aftermath of a series of successful counter-attacks against Islamic State (also known as ISIS) in Diyala province — attacks in which Amiri was given control of all Iraqi forces — Sunnis in the area suffered torture, executions, and the burning of entire villages at the hands of Shiite militias that had fought alongside Iraqi security forces.

Les Leopold: As Bad As You Think It Is, It’s Worse: Wage Theft Comes to America

In Denmark fast food workers make $20 an hour plus benefits, and the corporations who employ them are still profitable. Why there and not here?

The answer is simple and painful — wage theft. In America corporations are systematically stealing our wages. Virtually everyone in the bottom 95 percent of the income distribution now suffers from wage theft… perhaps, including you!

It starts at the bottom of the income ladder. Many undocumented immigrant day labors survive by standing on street corners and selling their labor to drive-by construction and landscaping contractors. Unfortunately, far too many contractors refuse to pay after the work is done, something experienced by nearly every day-laborer.

Nov 11 2014

The Breakfast Club (Restless Dreams)

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

An armistice ends the fighting in World War I; Pilgrims sign Mayflower Compact; Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat dies; Author Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. and actor Leonardo DiCaprio born.

Breakfast Tunes

Nov 11 2014

On This Day In History November 11

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 11 is the 315th day of the year (316th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 50 days remaining until the end of the year.

World War I is commemorated on this day, commonly known as Remembrance Day. The ceasefire went into effect at 11:00am CET in 1918, the date of which (and sometimes the commemoration of) is known as Armistice Day. Veterans Day is an annual United States holiday honoring military veterans.

On this day in 1918, the armistice between the Allies and Germany was signed in a railway carriage in Compiegne Forest.

Clairière de l’Armistice

In November 1918 the Engineer in charge of the North Region Railways: Arthur-Pierre Toubeau, was instructed to find a suitably discreet place which would accommodate two trains. By coincidence on the outskirts of Compiègne in the forest of Rethondes lay an artillery railway emplacement. Set deep within the wood and out of the view of the masses the location was ideal.

Early in the morning of the 8th November a train carrying Maréchal Ferdinand Foch, his staff and British officers arrived on the siding to the right, nearest the museum. The train formed a mobile headquarters for Foch, complete with a restaurant car and office.

At 0700 hours another train arrived on the left hand track. One of the carriages had been built for Napoleon III and still bore his coat of arms. Inside was a delegation from the German government seeking an armistice.

There were only a hundred metres between the two trains and the entire area was policed by gendarmes placed every 20 metres.

For three days the two parties discussed the terms of an armistice until at 0530 hours on the 11th November 1918, Matthias Erzberger the leader of the German delegation signed the Armistice document.

Within 6 hours the war would be over.

Initially the carriage (Wagon Lits Company car No. 2419D) used by Maréchal Foch was returned to its former duty as a restaurant car but was eventually placed in the courtyard of the Invalides in Paris.

An American: Arthur Fleming paid for its restoration, and the wagon was brought back to Rethondes on 8th April 1927 and placed in a purpose built shelter (Since destroyed).

Numerous artifacts were obtained from those who had been involved in 1918 and the car was refurbished to its condition at the time of the Armistice.

At the entrance to the avenue leading down to the memorial site is a monument raised by a public subscription organised by the newspaper Le Matin.

The monument is dedicated to Alsace Lorraine and consists of a bronze sculpture of a sword striking down the Imperial Eagle of Germany it is framed by sandstone from Alsace.

The Clairière was inaugurated on 11th November 1922 by President Millerand.

Nov 11 2014

TDS/TCR (The Ghost of Tom Joad)

TDS TCR

What happened to Josie?

Spring Break

The real news, the 2 part James Risen web exclusive extended interview, and this week’s guests below.