Daily Archive: 01/09/2015

Jan 09 2015

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

Paul Krugman: Voodoo Time Machine

Many of us in the econ biz were wondering how the new leaders of Congress would respond to the sharp increase in American economic growth that, we now know, began last spring. After years of insisting that President Obama is responsible for a weak economy, they couldn’t say the truth – that short-run economic performance has very little to do with who holds the White House. So what would they say?

Well, I didn’t see that one coming: They’re claiming credit. Never mind the fact that all of the good data refer to a period before the midterm elections. Mitch McConnell, the new Senate majority leader, says that he did it, that growth reflected “the expectation of a new Republican Congress.”

The response of the Democratic National Committee – “Hahahahahahaha” – seems appropriate. I mean, talk about voodoo economics: Mr. McConnell is claiming not just that he can create prosperity without, you know, actually passing any legislation, but that he can reach back in time and create prosperity before even taking power. But while Mr. McConnell’s self-aggrandizement is funny, it’s also scary, because it’s a symptom of his party’s epistemic closure. Republicans know many things that aren’t so, and no amount of contrary evidence will get them to change their minds.

At least Mr. McConnell didn’t do what many of his colleagues have done when faced with inconvenient facts: resort to conspiracy theories.

Richard (RJ) Eskow: The GOP’s Social Security Assault Has a Human Cost

It is striking that on their first day — their very first day! — congressional Republicans moved against Social Security’s disability insurance fund, before some of them had even found the restrooms or put out their family photos.

As Jerry Seinfeld might ask, “Who does that?”

Although the move was somewhat secretive, a number of very smart people caught it and brought it to the public’s attention. “The New Republican Attack on Social Security Starts Now!” Nancy Altman and Eric Kingson wrote in The Huffington Post. “House Rule Could Hurt Vulnerable Disability Beneficiaries,” explained Kathy Ruffing at the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities. “Republican Congress Launches With Back-Door Attack On Social Security Benefits,” wrote Alan Pyke of Think Progress.

“Well,” said Michael Hiltzik of the Los Angeles Times, “that didn’t take long.”

No, indeed. And it’s worth remembering that this GOP move doesn’t just hurt an abstract entity called “Social Security.” It hurts people — living, breathing human beings.

This particular move targeted the disabled. Here’s how: The overall Social Security fund is well-funded for the next two decades or so (and easily remedied beyond that point), but the disability insurance trust fund needs a short-term cash infusion from the larger retirement account.

Mark Rufallo: President Obama Needs to Follow the Empire State’s Leadership on Banning Fracking

On December 17, a courageous act by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to ban fracking in the state sent shockwaves around the world. Governor Cuomo followed acting State Health Commissioner Dr. Zucker’s recommendation based on a significant and growing body of scientific studies showing that drilling and fracking put people’s health and the environment at risk.

The impacts include health problems, water contamination, dangerous air pollution, threats to agriculture and soil quality, radioactive releases, earthquakes, and more. [..]

Despite the fact that New York’s decision is based on the best science, President Obama’s administration had the audacity to denounce the decision. Last week Obama’s Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said fracking bans make it “very difficult for the industry to figure out” rules in different areas, and stem from what she sees as bad science and misinformation. That simply doesn’t hold up to the hundreds of peer-reviewed studies from leading scientific researchers and institutions demonstrating problems and harms. And frankly, we would like to see our public officials putting public health before concerns about the oil and gas industry’s confusion.

You may ask why President Obama had Interior Secretary Jewell be the one to publicly push back on New York’s fracking ban. The answer is likely simple. She is currently polishing up regulations to frack our national forests and federal lands, expected soon. This has to stop.

Amy Goodman: lose Guantanamo-Then Give It Back to Cuba

This week marks the 13th anniversary of the arrival of the first post-9/11 prisoners to Guantanamo Bay, the most notorious prison on the planet. This grim anniversary, and the beginning of normalization of diplomatic relations between the U.S and Cuba, serves as a reminder that we need to permanently close the prison and return the land to its rightful owners, the Cuban people. It is time to put an end to this dark chapter of United States history. [..]

The United States took Guantanamo Bay by force in 1898, during the Spanish-American War, and extracted an indefinite lease on the property from Cuba in 1903. Returning Guantanamo Bay to Cuba will begin to right more than a century of wrongs that the U.S. government has perpetrated there. Most importantly, the return of the Guantanamo Bay prison and naval base will make it harder for any future war criminals, whether in the White House, the Pentagon or the CIA and their enthusiastic cheerleaders in Congress, to use Guantanamo as their distant dungeon, to inflict torture and terror on prisoners, many of them innocent, far from the eyes of the people of the United States, and far from the reach of criminal courts.

Jessica Bulman-Pozen and David Pozen: The NYPD found a more destructive way of protesting than shutting down traffic

Civil disobedience is a familiar protest tactic. From Mahatma Gandhi to Martin Luther King Jr, some of our most iconic reformers have engaged in nonviolent, unlawful social action.

But it isn’t always necessary to disobey the law to defy a legal regime. Critics can also press their point by adhering to directives in ways that are consistent with their literal language but inconsistent with common practice or common sense – a tactic we call “uncivil obedience”.

In the ongoing struggle over police reform, civil disobedience is now being met with uncivil obedience. After protesters outraged by the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner shut down streets, bridges and shopping malls, the head of New York City’s largest police union urged officers to pay close attention to the regulations that guide officers’ conduct. Simply by sticking to the “stupid rules”, Patrick Lynch suggested, cops could fight back against their “enemies”.

Jan 09 2015

James Risen Still Protecting Press Freedom

Freedom of the Press and Speech have come under attack lately from the and, strangely, from the so-called left. The vicious attack on the office of “Charlie Hebdo” was especially vicious but there are more subtle attacks on our rights from the US Department of Justice. Even though Attorney General Eric Holder has said that he would force New York Times reporter James Risen to reveal the sources for his book “State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration,” Holder approved the issue of a limited subpoena requiring Risen to testify at the trial of former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling who is being charged as a whistleblower under the 1917 Espionage Act. On January 5th in an unusual pre-trial hearing, Risen finally testified, for the first time under oath, in a Virginia federal courtroom

The terse, and at times combative, testimony prompted a lawyer for Sterling to question whether prosecutors could even proceed with their case.

There are many unequivocal statements the government cannot prove without Risen, said Edward MacMahon, a lawyer for Sterling. Sterling was indicted on unauthorized disclosure of national defense information and other charges in 2010. [..]

On Monday, Risen said he did not want to provide any information to the government that it might be able to use as a “building block” to prove or disprove a “mosaic” it was trying to make. He made the comments just days before Sterling is scheduled to begin trial on Jan. 12.

New York Times reporter Mark Appuzo spoke with Democracy Now!‘s Amy Goodman and  Juan González about the possibility of Risen being held in contempt and going to jail

It remains to be seen if Risen will testify at all. If he does and stick to his guns, will Holder stick to his statement that no journalist would go to jail on his watch for doing his or her job?

Jan 09 2015

The Breakfast Club (Nous Sommes Charlie)

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.

 photo 807561379_e6771a7c8e_zps7668d00e.jpg

This Day in History

Former U.S. President Richard Nixon is born, Howard Hughes identifies fake biography, Unmanned probe lands on moon, the Phantom of the Opera becomes the longest running Broadway show.

Breakfast Tunes

Something to Think about over Coffee Prozac

“I’d rather die on my feet than live on my knees”

Emiliano Zapata

 photo imagesqtbnANd9GcSiJuqvc13W9fTcp5knF_zpsb983c581.jpg

#JeSuisCharlie

 photo 018180852_30300_zps265297f5.jpg

Jan 09 2015

On This Day In History January 9

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.

January 9 is the ninth day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. There are 356 days remaining until the end of the year (357 in leap years).

On this day in 1493, Italian explorer Christopher Columbus, sailing near the Dominican Republic, sees three “mermaids”–in reality manatees–and describes them as “not half as beautiful as they are painted.” Six months earlier, Columbus (1451-1506) set off from Spain across the Atlantic Ocean with the Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria, hoping to find a western trade route to Asia. Instead, his voyage, the first of four he would make, led him to the Americas, or “New World.”

Mermaids, mythical half-female, half-fish creatures, have existed in seafaring cultures at least since the time of the ancient Greeks. Typically depicted as having a woman’s head and torso, a fishtail instead of legs and holding a mirror and comb, mermaids live in the ocean and, according to some legends, can take on a human shape and marry mortal men. Mermaids are closely linked to sirens, another folkloric figure, part-woman, part-bird, who live on islands and sing seductive songs to lure sailors to their deaths.

West Indian manatees are large, gray aquatic mammals with bodies that taper to a flat, paddle-shaped tail. They have two forelimbs, called flippers, with three to four nails on each flipper. Their head and face are wrinkled with whiskers on the snout.

Manatees can be found in shallow, slow-moving rivers, estuaries, saltwater bays, canals, and coastal areas – particularly where seagrass beds or freshwater vegetation flourish. Manatees are a migratory species. Within the United States, they are concentrated in Florida in the winter. In summer months, they can be found as far west as Texas and as far north as Massachusetts, but summer sightings in Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina are more common. West Indian manatees can also be found in the coastal and inland waterways of Central America and along the northern coast of South America, although distribution in these areas may be discontinuous.

Manatees are gentle and slow-moving animals. Most of their time is spent eating, resting, and traveling. Manatees are completely herbivorous.

West Indian manatees have no natural enemies, and it is believed they can live 60 years or more. As with all wild animal populations, a certain percentage of manatee mortality is attributed to natural causes of death such as cold stress, gastrointestinal disease, pneumonia, and other diseases. A high number of additional fatalities are from human-related causes. Most human-related manatee fatalities occur from collisions with watercraft.

Jan 09 2015

The Daily Show (When I Went Home)

Heck Cattle

Homeless in Salt Lake City

The real news and next week’s guests below.