Daily Archive: 11/14/2014

Nov 14 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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New York Times Editorial Board: Race, Politics and Drawing Maps

The Supreme Court Hears an Alabama Case on the Voting Rights Act

As long as politicians are entrusted with drawing legislative maps, they will use their pen to gain partisan advantage. Courts generally do not interfere with that process, but there are limits to this where race is involved. The problem is figuring out which motive – race or partisanship – underlies the redistricting. On Wednesday, the Supreme Court considered this issue in a thorny case that could have significant implications for the future of the Voting Rights Act.

The main legal question before the justices was whether Alabama lawmakers had paid too much attention to race when they redrew the state’s district lines.

The 1965 voting law requires states to create districts where minorities can elect candidates of their choice, specifically in places where whites and blacks tend to pick different candidates. That’s clearly the case in Alabama, where, in 2008, Barack Obama received 98 percent of the black vote and 10 percent of the white vote.

Paul Krugman: China, Coal, Climate

It’s easy to be cynical about summit meetings. Often they’re just photo ops, and the photos from the latest Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting, which had world leaders looking remarkably like the cast of “Star Trek,” were especially cringe-worthy. At best – almost always – they’re just occasions to formally announce agreements already worked out by lower-level officials.

Once in a while, however, something really important emerges. And this is one of those times: The agreement between China and the United States on carbon emissions is, in fact, a big deal.

To understand why, you first have to understand the defense in depth that fossil-fuel interests and their loyal servants – nowadays including the entire Republican Party – have erected against any action to save the planet.

Glenn Greenwald: Cynics, Step Aside: There is Genuine Excitement Over a Hillary Clinton Candidacy

It’s easy to strike a pose of cynicism when contemplating Hillary Clinton’s inevitable (and terribly imminent) presidential campaign. As a drearily soulless, principle-free, power-hungry veteran of DC’s game of thrones, she’s about as banal of an American politician as it gets. One of the few unique aspects to her, perhaps the only one, is how the genuinely inspiring gender milestone of her election will (following the Obama model) be exploited to obscure her primary role as guardian of the status quo.

That she’s the beneficiary of dynastic succession – who may very well be pitted against the next heir in line from the regal Bush dynasty (this one, not yet this one) – makes it all the more tempting to regard #HillaryTime with an evenly distributed mix of boredom and contempt. The tens of millions of dollars the Clintons have jointly “earned” off their political celebrity – much of it speaking to the very globalists, industry groups, hedge funds, and other Wall Street appendages who would have among the largest stake in her presidency – make the spectacle that much more depressing (the likely candidate is pictured above with Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein at an event in September).

But one shouldn’t be so jaded. There is genuine and intense excitement over the prospect of (another) Clinton presidency. Many significant American factions regard her elevation to the Oval Office as an opportunity for rejuvenation, as a stirring symbol of hope and change, as the vehicle for vital policy advances…

David Sirota: Wall Street Takes Over More Statehouses

No runoff will be needed to declare one unambiguous winner in this month’s gubernatorial elections: the financial services industry. From Illinois to Massachusetts, voters effectively placed more than $100 billion worth of public pension investments under the control of executives-turned-politicians whose firms profit by managing state pension money.

The elections played out as states and cities across the country debate the merits of shifting public pension money-the retirement savings for police, firefighters, teachers and other public employees-from plain vanilla investments such as index funds into higher-risk alternatives like hedge funds and private equity funds.

Critics argue that this course has often failed to boost returns enough to compensate for taxpayer-financed fees paid to the financial services companies that manage the money. Wall Street firms and executives have poured campaign contributions into states that have embraced the strategy, eager for expanded opportunities. The election results affirmed that this money was well spent: More public pension money will now likely be entrusted to the financial services industry.

Robert L. Borosage: More Than the Minimum: Obama’s Next Executive Action

With a stroke of the pen, the president can have a dramatic effect on the lives of Lewis and millions of workers, leveraging not only the $1 trillion in spending on federal contracts, but setting an example that will accelerate similar action at the state and local level.

The choice here is a simple one. President Obama has held up Costco as an example of a good jobs employer that is remarkably successful. It pays its workers a decent wage with good benefits, doesn’t reward its CEO obscene bonuses, and respects workers’ rights. In stark contrast, Walmart pays its workers so little that taxpayers end up paying billions to subsidize their low wages and lousy benefits. Clearly, the federal government should be standing on the side of good employers rather than rewarding exploitative ones that layoff part of their costs on taxpayers.

Last week’s election showed that Americans are unhappy with a recovery that does not include them. A Hart poll for the AFLCIO showed that more than four out of five voters (87 percent) reported that they were sinking or treading water in this economy.

Democrats paid the price for that discontent. The big winners, even in red states like Arkansas and Nebraska, were initiatives to raise the minimum wage and guarantee sick leave.

Richard (RJ) Eskow : Bill Clinton’s Out of Touch Economically — and That’s a Big Deal

He’s eloquent, he’s popular … and he’s out of touch with the daily lives of most Americans. Bill Clinton’s economic worldview spells trouble, both for a party that’s still reeling from defeat and for a nation where millions of people struggle just to make ends meet.

Hillary Clinton, the heavily-favored contender for the Democratic nomination, has made Bill’s presidency and her role in it an essential part of her resume. But “Clintonism,” the Wall Street-friendly economic ideology of a bygone era, has passed its sell-by date. The former president’s latest remarks confirm that.

The 1990s are over. This is a different country now, both economically and politically. But the presumptive nominee’s partner and most important colleague still holds views which are sharply at odds with both economic reality and the nation’s mood. That’s a big deal. His opinions could have a profound impact on our political and economic future.

If Hillary Clinton disagrees with the former president’s views, she hasn’t said so.

Nov 14 2014

The Breakfast Club (Don Quixote)

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

Nazi Germany bombs English town of Coventry during World War II; ‘Moby-Dick’ published; Nellie Bly begins globe-trotting trek; Leonard Bernstein makes conducting debut; Composer Aaron Copland born.

Breakfast Tunes

The late Leonard Bernstein made his conducting debut at Carnegie Hall on November 14, 1943 when the scheduled conductor fell ill. Oddly, the day was also composer Aaron Copeland’s birthday whom Bernstein had met at Copeland’s birthday party in 1938 while Bernstein was a student at Harvard.

Nov 14 2014

On This Day In History November 14

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 14 is the 318th day of the year (319th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 47 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1851, the novel Moby Dick is published. Moby Dick, a novel by Herman Melville about the voyage of the whaling ship Pequod, is published by Harper & Brothers in New York. Moby Dick is now considered a great classic of American literature and contains one of the most famous opening lines in fiction: “Call me Ishmael.” Initially, though, the book about Captain Ahab and his quest for a giant white whale was a flop.

Moby-Dick is widely considered to be a Great American Novel and a treasure of world literature. The story tells the adventures of the wandering sailor Ishmael, and his voyage on the whaleship Pequod, commanded by Captain Ahab. Ishmael soon learns that Ahab seeks one specific whale, Moby Dick, a ferocious, enigmatic white sperm whale. In a previous encounter, the whale destroyed Ahab’s boat and bit off his leg. Ahab intends to take revenge.

In Moby-Dick, Melville employs stylized language, symbolism, and metaphor to explore numerous complex themes. Through the main character’s journey, the concepts of class and social status, good and evil, and the existence of gods are all examined as Ishmael speculates upon his personal beliefs and his place in the universe. The narrator’s reflections, along with his descriptions of a sailor’s life aboard a whaling ship, are woven into the narrative along with Shakespearean literary devices such as stage directions, extended soliloquies and asides. The book portrays insecurity that is still seen today when it comes to non-human beings along with the belief that these beings understand and act like humans. The story is based on the actual events around the whaleship Essex, which was attacked by a sperm whale while at sea and sank.

Moby Dick has been classified as American Romanticism. It was first published by Richard Bentley in London on October 18, 1851, in an expurgated three-volume edition titled The Whale, and weeks later as a single volume, by New York City publisher Harper and Brothers as Moby Dick; or, The Whale on November 14, 1851. Although the book initially received mixed reviews, Moby Dick is now considered part of the Western canon.

Nov 14 2014

The Occupy Model

Hong Kong’s umbrella protests are here to stay

Ian Rowen, The Guardian

Wednesday 12 November 2014 04.03 EST

As world leaders meet in Beijing for the Apec forum, Hong Kong’s pro-democracy umbrella movement continues. Even if the tens of thousands of protesters who poured on to the streets after the police launched 87 rounds of teargas at students on 28 September have shrunk in number, the occupations have endured far longer than anyone expected.

Although the protest’s goals may not be met before the next major election, in 2017, it has already succeeded beyond the wildest dreams of its originators. None of them expected the occupation to get this big or last this long.

More cosmopolitan, inclusive, and networked than previous social movements in the region, the umbrella revolution is arguably “the first ever genuine movement for freedom on Chinese soil,” as a visitor from Beijing put it to me last week. We were speaking next to my tent, in the Admiralty occupation, where I have been camping in order to conduct research on mainland Chinese people’s engagement with political protests and to examine what that entails for the future of the region.



On 5 November, a contingent of Cantonese speakers wearing red-tinted Guy Fawkes masks paraded through the streets. The next day, a group of yellow umbrella-bearing secondary students, organised informally via WhatsApp instant messenger, formed the shape of the Chinese character for “umbrella” and sang odes of freedom to media crews.

As rain fell on Friday night, middle-class families distributed ginseng tea to occupiers huddled in makeshift but well-stocked supply stations.

History was made the next day, when Hong Kong’s annual gay pride parade culminated in Tamar park, adjacent to the Admiralty occupation. Entering a sea of rainbow umbrellas, leaders from the Hong Kong Federation of Students (HKFS), the most prominent of the pro-democracy activists, joined the event, linking their call for genuine universal suffrage to wider concerns for social justice.

Sunday ended with a march to the China Liaison Office, responsible for coordinating the policies of the Beijing leadership with the Hong Kong administration, where an estimated 1,000 protesters placed yellow ribbons around the railings.



Beijing’s aspersions about sinister western forces aside, no one group is directing this occupation. Although HKFS was recently found to be the territory’s most popular political group in a Hong Kong University poll, receiving more public support than any pro-Beijing or pan-democrat party, they are not in charge. Even if they or Scholarism – another prominent student group, led by the 18-year-old Joshua Wong – issued calls to retreat, it is far from certain that all demonstrators would heed them.

The government also has its hands tied. Given the high degree of international media attention Hong Kong received after earlier police actions, an immediate, Tiananmen-style crackdown is unlikely. Teargas and pepper spray might just send more people back into the streets.

While the Leung administration may be preparing to clear the occupation with force, it could just as well be betting that it will win a war of attrition. But subtropical Hong Kong is not New York, where Occupy Wall Street faltered when it faced a cold winter and a lack of clear demands.

Although the numbers of people protesting in Hong Kong may fluctuate or dwindle, the occupation is still unlikely to be cleared without force or a significant concession from the government.

Nov 14 2014

TDS/TCR (Rosewater)

TDS TCR

I once shot an Elephant in my pajamas.  How he got into my pajamas I’ll never know.

Demonization

The real news and next week’s guests below.

Nov 14 2014

America’s War on the Homeless

There appears to be a war on the homeless and needy in certain states and not just the red ones:

To Clear Waikiki For Tourists, Hawaii Gives 120 Homeless People A One-Way Ticket Out Of State

by Bryce Covert, November 10, 2014

Hawaii’s Institute for Human Services (IHS) is beginning a $1.3 million campaign to clear the homeless out of Waikiki, a big spot for tourists, after businesses have complained that the homeless are hurting tourism.

The majority of the money will be used for intensive outreach services to connect the homeless with shelter, employment, and medical services. IHS’s goal is to move 140 people into shelters or housing in the first year.

But it also plans to fly back to the mainland United States another 120 people, who will be identified through a vetting process it says is aimed at making sure they have a plan in place when they get there. “We found out that many [Waikiki homeless] are transient who made a choice to become homeless, as well as people who became homeless shortly after arriving in Hawaii,” said Kimo Carvalho, development and community relations manager for IHS.

Last year, state lawmakers $100,000 in funding to give Hawaii’s homeless population one-way flights out of the state back to the mainland. But Gov. Neil Abercrombie (D) refused to release the funding amid concerns that people would fly to the state and expect a free ticket home.

Fort Lauderdale Votes To Make It Harder To Feed The Homeless, Joining Two Dozen Other Cities

by Alan Pyke, October 22, 2014

A few hours before dawn on Wednesday morning, city counselors in Fort Lauderdale, FL passed a bill to make it harder to feed the homeless. Amid raucous protests from activists, the council voted 4-1 in favor of a long-pending slate of new regulations on where and how groups can provide food to homeless people.

The vote makes the south Florida city the 13th in the country to pass restrictions on where people can feed the homeless in the past two years, and the 22nd town to make it harder to feed homeless people through either legislation or community pressure since the beginning of 2013, according to a report released Monday by the National Coalition for the Homeless (NCH).

Counting towns that are still in the process of advancing some sort of crackdown, NCH says, 31 American cities “have attempted to pass new laws that restrict organizations and individuals from sharing food with people experiencing homelessness” in 2013 and 2014.

Florida City Will Throw Homeless People In Jail For Asking For Money

by Scott Keyes, November 10, 2014

Lake Worth, FL, a city of approximately 35,000 people just south of West Palm Beach, voted last week to impose a crackdown on homeless people who ask passersby for spare change.

Ordinance No. 2014-34 was approved by a unanimous vote on November 4th. The new law bans panhandling on city-owned property, such as near bus stops, ATMs, and other downtown areas, as well as on private property without express permission. According to the Palm Beach Post, “That covers most of downtown,” effectively banning all panhandling in the area where homeless people would be able to raise the most money.

The measure also bans “aggressive panhandling,” a nebulous term that theoretically prohibits panhandling in a threatening manner, though in reality is so subjective it gives authorities free rein to crack down on any homeless person asking for money.

If a homeless person is convicted under the new law, he or she could face as much as 60 days in jail or a $500 fine.

California City Bans Homeless From Sleeping Outside: If They Leave, ‘Then That’s Their Choice’

by Bryce Covert, November 10, 2014

Last week, the city council of Manteca, CA unanimously passed two ordinances aimed at clearing out the homeless population.

One will ban people from sleeping or setting up encampments on any public or private property as of December 4, although the homeless won’t be jailed or fined. It will, however, allow the police to tear down any homeless sleeping areas as soon as they appear without having to be invited by the property owner, as was the case previously.

Explaining why the ordinance is necessary, Police Chief Nick Obligacion said, “The goal is actually to correct the wrong. So, if the correction is them leaving Manteca, then that’s their choice.” He also opposes any sort of shelter for the homeless.

The other ordinance bans public urination and defecation, but also comes after the city temporarily closed public restrooms in a park, a location often used by the homeless to relieve themselves in private.

90-Year-Old Man Arrested In Florida For Feeding The Homeless

by Scott Keyes, November 6, 2014

There are a lot of strange local ordinances in this country. But perhaps none are stranger than the one that resulted in the arrest of a nonagenarian for giving food to hungry people.

Last month, Ft. Lauderdale city officials passed a new measure to crack down on people feeding the homeless. On Sunday, two days after the new law went into effect, Arnold Abbott, 90, a longtime advocate for the homeless and regular volunteer at a local soup kitchen, was arrested for the crime of giving food to the needy. He now faces up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine. Two local pastors were also arrested and face the same potential sentences.