03/04/2015 archive

Dispatches From Hellpeckersville – I Made The Shoes

The first job I ever had was at a shoe factory. The first spring that I was able to drive, my uncle–the daytime foreman on the cutting side of the factory–told me to get a few of my friends to get our working papers and come on up to the factory for part-time jobs. That way, we would beat out the college kids coming home for spring break for the summer full-time positions. As I now had a car I wanted to put gas in and insurance to pay, this sounded good to me, so off to the shoe factory I went. That job ruined me.

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.

Wednesday is Ladies’ Day.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

Phyllis Bennis: Netanyahu Threatens War In Speech to Congress

This was a speech threatening war.

Realizing he has insufficient clout to stop the negotiations, Netanyahu demanded a back-up position: If not “no” deal, then we can have a better deal.

His vision of a “better” deal, however, is grounded in Iranian surrender. And since that is not going to happen, demanding it means abandoning diplomacy in favor of-yes, war.

Netanyahu threatened just such a war against Iran, in his statement “even if Israel stands alone, the Jewish people will not remain passive.”

The threat to nuclear non-proliferation in the Middle East was issued long ago-not by Iran, but by Israel’s own internationally known but carefully denied nuclear arsenal. It is Israel, not Iran, whose hundreds of nuclear weapons threaten a potential nuclear arms race in the region, threaten its neighbors, and threaten the world.

Zephyr Teachout: The Path to Freedom From Corruption Goes Through My State – And Your State

Our current problem isn’t bribery of voters, but legal bribery of candidates.

The system is rigged and broken. A small number of people have far too much political power in America. There is a clear way out, and it starts in the states.

In the past, quick anti-corruption reform has started in the states. Until the late 19th century, ballots were mostly public, leading to systematic bribery of voters. Secret ballots were the result of state-by-state reform movements in the 1880s and 1890s.

Our current problem isn’t bribery of voters, but legal bribery of candidates. Power flows from elections, and right now most elections rely exclusively on private funding by some of the wealthiest people in world history. That means most candidates – and therefore, leaders – have no choice but to become sycophants to their interests. The corruption in our elections corrupts all of our politics.

Katrina vanden Heuvel: The Koch Cash Behind the Latest Attack on Obamacare

The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in King v. Burwell this Wednesday, and once again the fate of the Affordable Care Act will be in the nine justices’ hands. Unlike National Federation of Independent Businesses v. Sebelius, the 2012 case that affirmed the ACA’s individual mandate but gutted its expansion of Medicaid, King turns not on the act’s constitutionality but rather on an statutory issue variously described as “bordering on frivolous,” “nested in a fictional history of Congressional intent,” and “fluff.” But like the prior case, whose result effectively denied health insurance to half of the 17 million intended to have been covered by the ACA’s expansion of Medicaid, King, if decided against the government, could leave another 8.2 million uninsured and, effectively, send the ACA into its oft-cited “death spiral.” Naturally, the Kochs are pulling more than their fair share of strings.

The Kochs and their affiliated groups spent vast sums to try to stop the Affordable Care Act from passing in the first place; to unseat those that backed the law over the course of several election cycles; and more recently, to stymie the law’s implementation (e.g., killing Medicaid expansion in Tennessee last month). And the influence of the Koch network pervades nearly every part of the challengers’ case in King v. Burwell.

Jessica Valenti: College is too late to start teaching students about sexual assault

There are some essential life skills that high schools know they have to teach students. That’s why most offer classes like woodshop, home economics and drivers education. So I have to ask: Given that we’re keen to teach teenagers the basics they need to function in society, why do we still have no mandated education around rape?

Expecting high schoolers to fully grasp what sexual assault is without comprehensive education is ridiculous. Politicians still routinely demonstrate their ignorance around rape, the FBI only changed its outdated definition of sexual assault in 2011, and even the courts regularly muck up rape cases.

And while it’s wonderful that more and more universities are creating sexual assault orientations and mandating courses on consent, by the time young people reach college (assuming they go at all) it’s often too late. Nearly half of American teenagers are sexually active by the time they’re 17 years old and 44% of sexual assault victims are under 18 years old.

Keziyah Lewis: The people who could’ve prevented Tamir Rice’s death are the Cleveland police

Only in the flawed, racist, American justice system, could a black 12-year-old boy with a toy gun be blamed for his failure to prevent his own death.

But there wasn’t anything that Tamir Rice could have done to eliminate the possibility that he would die at the hands of a cop: there is a limit to how careful you can be when you live in a society designed to criminalize you. Rice’s identity as a young black male made him a potential police target from the day he was born. In the eyes of the justice system, which arrests, incarcerates, and executes black men and women at disproportionate rates compared to other races, he was always guilty of being a boy with dark skin. His punishment was just yet to be determined. [..]

If anyone could have exercised “due care to avoid injury” on that day, it was definitely not Tamir Rice. He had no control over the events that day because he had no control over his position in society as a young black male. The City of Cleveland defends officer Loehmann’s actions by claiming that, had Tamir and his family made different choices, the shooting could have been avoided. The truth is that Tamir was never given a chance – not by the Cleveland police on that cold November day, and certainly not by the society he lived in.

Rena Steinzor: Bad Feds, Deadly Meds

FDA must be equipped to regulate compounding pharmacies.

In December, the Department of Justice indicted 14 people who worked at the New England Compounding Center. The company manufactured drugs in insanitary conditions that produced a fungal meningitis outbreak that killed 64 people and made 751 gravely ill in 2012. One of the owners and a senior pharmacist face charges of racketeering and second-degree murder.

This small compounding company mixed (pdf) steroid injections in a so-called clean room where the air conditioning was shut down at night, technicians wore gloves with holes (pdf) in them and the ventilation system absorbed fragments from a recycling operation located nearby and owned by the same individuals. When employees complained about unsanitary conditions, managers said, “This line is worth more than all your lives combined, so don’t stop it.” Countless vials of the contaminated steroid drugs were shipped out to hospitals and other treatment centers in 20 states.

The indictments are good news. If convictions are obtained, they will serve as some deterrent to further misconduct within an industry that continues to be virtually unregulated.


Chicago’s black voters key as Garcia battles to defeat Emanuel in mayoral race

By Mary Wisniewski and Tracy Rucinski, Reuters

Mon Mar 2, 2015 7:08am EST

(I)n 2011 majority African-American wards gave overwhelming backing to Emanuel, who was previously President Barack Obama’s chief of staff, some disillusionment has set in since. A persistently high crime rate, the decision to close 50 schools in mostly poor areas, and a sense that Emanuel is out of touch with the community and its problems has hurt him among black voters, some political activists say.

After spending more than $7 million on television ads alone, Emanuel won 45.5 percent of the vote in the first round last Tuesday – the largest tally of the five contenders but short of the 50 percent plus one vote needed to avoid an April 7 run-off.

Emanuel’s backing in predominantly black wards slipped to just 42 percent, from about 59 percent in 2011, according to the Illinois Election Data web site, while Garcia had 26 percent of the votes. The other 32 percent in those wards went to the three other candidates – two blacks and one white – who have now been eliminated from the race, leaving those votes up for grabs.

“Dead even”: New polls show Rahm Emanuel in danger of losing Chicago runoff

by Luke Brinker, Salon

Monday, Mar 2, 2015 12:50 PM EST

One week after Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel failed to clear the 50 percent threshold required to avoid an April runoff, new polls find a deadlocked race between Emanuel and progressive challenger Jesus “Chuy” Garcia.

Capitalizing on progressive discontent with the mayor’s school closures, privatization schemes, and hostile relationship with organized labor, Garcia has campaigned in the mold of such progressive populists as Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. He captured 34 percent of the vote last week. Emanuel won just 45 percent, despite a massive campaign war chest and the support of much of the political establishment.

While 55 percent of voters supported candidates other than the first-term incumbent, some analysts have speculated that many cast votes against Emanuel to simply to register a first-round protest. Presented with a choice between Emanuel and Garcia – and after another month of being deluged with Emanuel’s campaign ads – many of those voters will come home for the mayor, the thinking goes. But the latest numbers underscore that an Emanuel victory is far from assured.

The People of Chicago Stun Obama’s Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Now It’s Round 2

by Bruce A. Dixon, Black Agenda Report

Wed, 02/25/2015

“Turnout was near an all time low, but it didn’t matter,” one campaign associate told Black Agenda Report. “The voters who did come out were really motivated,.they know Rahm is an absolute pig.”

“There were also two advisory referenda our forces helped place on the ballot, which brought out the anti-Rahm vote. The first was a citywide vote on taking the big money out of elections, which carried 80%. The second referendum was for Chicago getting an elected school board instead of the mayoral dictatorship the President, privatizers and corporations love so much, that we’ve had since the Daley era. The mayor’s people would not allow a school board vote on the ballot citywide, so the Chicago Teachers Union and their allies in the communities across the city hit the streets and did a ward by ward petition drive, which got it on the ballot in 37 of the city’s 50 wards. This measure got 270,000 to 34,000, almost 9 to 1.”

Rahm Emanuel, called by some “Mayor One Percent” had every conceivable advantage. President Obama cut multiple campaign commercials for him, and made well publicized visits to his campaign offices. Besides millions in cash to spend, he had most of the city’s black and Latino political leaders, including congressmen Bobby Rush and Luis Gutierrez in his kennel. His Hollywood pals did an 8 part CNN mini-series for him by the same folks who did the “Brick City” series to boost the political fortunes of Newark’s Corey Booker. The CNN series broadcast fake stats about Rahm and his top cop bringing down the city’s murder rate, debunked almost immediately by news reports while the series was still being broadcast. And under Rahm and the Daleys, Chicago has expelled roughly as many poor and black residents in the last 20 years as New Orleans after Katrina. The city that elected Harold Washington in 1983 was over 40% black. Today’s Chicago is about 27% African American.

The established neoliberal candidate playbook on winning big city elections is to discourage poorer and left leaning voters from coming out, while spending heavily on media. Thanks to the long term mobilization of the teachers union and many forces across the city, it didn’t work this time.

Rahm Emanuel is also vulnerable for the many, many privatizations, sweetheart deals, and grand thefts he’s helped perpetrate while on the fifth floor. He pretended to “reform” the Daley era deal which gave all the city’s parking spaces to a consortium that appears to include J.P. Morgan, Morgan Stanley and the sovereign wealth fund of Abu Dhabi for the next 75 years. If a parking meter breaks or the city decides there’s no need for meters on a particular street, the contract obligates Chicago taxpayers to pay the sovereign wealth fund of Abu Dhabi and the other shadowy investors what those meters would have produced for the remainder of the 75year contract. Rahm secretly had the yellow light interval shortened a couple tenths of a second to produce more revenue for the city and the contractors who manage its red light cameras.

The Breakfast Club (Strutting Her Stuff)

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

Franklin D. Roosevelt sworn in as president, Ronald Reagan takes responsibility for the Iran-Contra affair, the AAA is born in 1904.

Breakfast Tunes

Something to Think about over Coffee Prozac

We’ve collectively decided that putting kids in 3000 pounds of metal traveling at 65 MPH is safe, while letting them walk unsupervised can potentially get them taken away from you and placed in a foster situation. Also known to be safe.



On This Day In History March 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.

March 4 is the 63rd day of the year (64th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 302 days remaining until the end of the year.

In this day in 1933, at the height of the Great Depression, Franklin Delano Roosevelt is inaugurated as the 32nd president of the United States. In his famous inaugural address, delivered outside the east wing of the U.S. Capitol, Roosevelt outlined his “New Deal”–an expansion of the federal government as an instrument of employment opportunity and welfare–and told Americans that “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Although it was a rainy day in Washington, and gusts of rain blew over Roosevelt as he spoke, he delivered a speech that radiated optimism and competence, and a broad majority of Americans united behind their new president and his radical economic proposals to lead the nation out of the Great Depression.

The only American president elected to more than two terms, he forged a durable coalition that realigned American politics for decades. FDR defeated incumbent Republican Herbert Hoover in November 1932, at the depths of the Great Depression. FDR’s combination of optimism and activism contributed to reviving the national spirit. Working closely with Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin in leading the Allies against Germany and Japan in World War II, he died just as victory was in sight.

Starting in his “first hundred days” in office, which began March 4, 1933, Roosevelt launched major legislation and a profusion of executive orders that gave form to the New Deal, a complex, interlocking set of programs designed to produce relief (especially government jobs for the unemployed), recovery (of the economy), and reform (through regulation of Wall Street, banks and transportation). The economy improved rapidly from 1933 to 1937, but then went into a deep recession. The bipartisan Conservative Coalition that formed in 1937 prevented his packing the Supreme Court or passing much new legislation; it abolished many of the relief programs when unemployment practically ended during World War II. Most of the regulations on business were ended about 1975-85, except for the regulation of Wall Street by the Securities and Exchange Commission, which still exists. Along with several smaller programs, major surviving programs include the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, which was created in 1933, and Social Security, which Congress passed in 1935.

As World War II loomed after 1938, with the Japanese invasion of China and the aggressions of Nazi Germany, FDR gave strong diplomatic and financial support to China and Britain, while remaining officially neutral. His goal was to make America the “Arsenal of Democracy” which would supply munitions to the Allies. In March 1941, Roosevelt, with Congressional approval, provided Lend-Lease aid to the countries fighting against Nazi Germany with Great Britain. He secured a near-unanimous declaration of war against Japan after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, calling it a “date which will live in infamy“. He supervised the mobilization of the US economy to support the Allied war effort. Unemployment dropped to 2%, relief programs largely ended, and the industrial economy grew rapidly to new heights as millions of people moved to new jobs in war centers, and 16 million men (and 300,000 women) were drafted or volunteered for military service.

Roosevelt dominated the American political scene, not only during the twelve years of his presidency, but for decades afterward. He orchestrated the realignment of voters that created the Fifth Party System. FDR’s New Deal Coalition united labor unions, big city machines, white ethnics, African Americans and rural white Southerners. Roosevelt’s diplomatic impact also resonated on the world stage long after his death, with the United Nations and Bretton Woods as examples of his administration’s wide-ranging impact. Roosevelt is consistently rated by scholars as one of the greatest U.S. Presidents.

The Daily/Nightly Show (Jon’s New Gig)

Yes, yes that was a boot to the ‘nads.  Now if only his interviews were more like that.

I didn’t mention it last night, but as it develops Jason Jones, the longest serving correspondent at the moment, will also be leaving The Daily Show (Sam Bee, his wife, will be staying with the program).  Jessica Williams has announced she is not a host candidate at this time though I understand Brian Williams is shopping his resume.

I don’t expect he’ll get it, the show would lose credibility.

Over on The Nightly Show side I felt the interveiw with DiBlasio went well enough but it wasn’t particularly funny, about the level you’d get from David Letterman.  The monologue went pretty well-

Tonight we’ll have Joy Reid, Bonnie McFarlane, Megan Powers, and Emma Ianinni talking about sexual assault on college campuses.

If you happen to be assaulted on campus Atrios gives us a warning not to use School Counciling or Medical Services as the records are not protected from the school should you decide to sue them or they you.


The Turtle and The Carrot

This Week’s Guests-

I don’t know what Sigourney Weaver will be on to talk about, but I do know what I want to hear about and that’s her new Aliens project which ditches the last two movies (which were horrible because Ripley dies) and all the vs. Predator crap as non-canon.

Robert Smigel’s web exclusive extended interview and the real news below.