04/14/2015 archive

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: Women Still Earn a Lot Less Than Men

Tuesday is Equal Pay Day, the day selected each year by the National Committee on Pay Equity, a coalition of women’s, civil rights and labor groups, to draw attention to how much longer women must work to earn what men earned in the previous year. In 1963, when President John F. Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act, a woman working full time year-round typically made 59 cents for every dollar paid to her male counterpart. By 2013, the latest year of available census data, it was 78 cents on the dollar. Another measure of the wage gap, computed by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, shows that, in 2014, the ratio of female-to-male weekly earnings was 82.5 percent.

While that seems like steady if painfully slow progress, closer inspection shows that progress in closing the gender pay gap has basically stalled over the past decade. The longer the gap persists, the less it can be explained away by factors other than discrimination. [..]

In 2010, 2012 and 2014, congressional Republicans blocked consideration of the Paycheck Fairness Act, a bill supported by President Obama that would have extended pay-equity rules that apply to federal contractors to the entire American work force, in addition to making needed updates to the Equal Pay Act. Obstructionism has only made the problem worse, and an even more pressing one for the presidential candidates to address.

Dean Baker: Under Obama trade deal, disputes settled outside US judicial system

Trans-Pacific Partnership would create mechanisms for trade disputes beyond US law and democratic control

One of the most important Supreme Court cases this year is King v. Burwell. The suit questions the legality of the subsidies to low- and middle-income families in the health-insurance exchanges run by the federal government. If the Court rules for the plaintiff, millions of people in the 36 states that did not set up exchanges could lose their subsidies. With insurance now unaffordable for much of the population in these states, their exchanges will no longer be operational, leading to the collapse of the Affordable Care Act in much of the country. [..]

In short, King v. Burwell should be a joke case. But in a context where at least four members of the Supreme Court are prepared to rule in whatever way they feel advances the interests of the Republican Party, it is very possible that it will be the basis for undermining a law that provides health insurance to millions of people and access to insurance to tens of millions more.

This predicament should be a warning to members of Congress as they debate the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), and more immediately, the fast-track authority that will facilitate its passage. (A bill to establish such authority will reportedly be introduced in the Senate this week.) Under fast track, President Barack Obama would be able to get TPP an up-or-down vote in Congress without the possibility of amendments or filibuster.

TPP, as well as its sister agreement the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Pact, would establish an investor-state dispute settlement mechanism, which will operate outside the U.S. judicial system. This system will consist of a panel of three judges, who will each be appointed to hear a single case. They are not bound by the laws of the United States, nor are their decisions subject to appeal within the U.S. judicial process. They are to determine solely whether a law or action in question violates the rules of the TPP. Furthermore, the reasoning behind their rulings will be kept secret for several years after the ruling.

Elton John and Michael Stipe: The silence on abuse of transgender inmates in US prisons is deafening

Ashley Diamond, a transgender inmate who was denied medically necessary hormones by the Georgia correctional system, was raped seven times, called a “he-she thing”, and thrown into solitary confinement for “pretending” to be a woman.

Last week, the United States Justice Department weighed in on her lawsuit and found that Georgia’s “freeze-frame” policy – which denied trans inmates the chance to begin or expand hormone treatment in prison – constituted “cruel and unusual punishment” and violated the United States Constitution.

This horrific treatment illustrates the broader policy changes we desperately need to ensure that no one in a correction setting – or any setting, for that matter – is denied their human or civil rights because of their gender identity or sexual orientation.

Today, transgender women in male prisons are 13 times more likely than the general prison population to be sexually assaulted while incarcerated. Nearly two-thirds of trans inmates report sexual assault. And more often than not, assaults go unreported in part because the perpetrators are prison guards, wardens and staff.

This is a disgrace.

Steven W. Thrasher: The inhumanity of ‘Fuck your breath’ should stop all of us cold

It’s hard for black Americans to catch our breath these days: from Michael Brown to Eric Garner to John Crawford to Tamir Rice to Walter Scott and now Eric Harris, we just keep getting the wind knocked out of us as we bear witness to death after unnecessary death of black men at the hands of the police.

Those who police us, however, can breathe quite easily. [..]

This weekend, Black Lives Matter activist Cherrell Brown asked audience members of a conference on policing that I attended to close our eyes and imagine a place where we felt safe. No one imagined a place with cops, cameras, guns, or attack dogs. And yet, as Brown noted, we’re asked to believe that, to feel safe, we need more cops in New York City, more racially diverse cops, more cops wearing cameras – more law enforcement, not more safety.

More cops, more guns and more cameras might make many white people feel more safe, but just the thought makes it hard for black people to breathe, because we know that they’ll all be trained on us. Fuck your false sense of security; I just want to be able to catch my breath.

Robert Reich: Will Hillary Rodham Clinton Deliver on Her Promise to Be a ‘Champion’ for ‘Everyday Americans’?

It’s a paradox.

Almost all the economic gains are still going to the top, leaving America’s vast middle class with stagnant wages and little or no job security. Two-thirds of Americans are working paycheck to paycheck.

Meanwhile, big money is taking over our democracy.

If there were ever a time for a bold Democratic voice on behalf of hardworking Americans, it is now.

Yet I don’t recall a time when the Democratic Party’s most prominent office holders sounded as meek. With the exception of Elizabeth Warren, they’re pussycats. If Paul Wellstone, Teddy Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, or Ann Richards were still with us, they’d be hollering.

The fire now is on the right, stoked by the Koch brothers, Rupert Murdoch, and a pocketful of hedge-fund billionaires.

Today’s Republican firebrands, beginning with Ted Cruz, blame the poor, blacks, Latinos, and immigrants for what’s been happening. They avoid any mention of wealth and power.

Which brings me to Hillary Rodham Clinton.

TBC: Morning Musing 4.14.15

I have 3 articles for you this morning!

First, I can’t believe I don’t remember hearing about this:

The ExxonMobil Explosion That Nobody Is Talking About

TORRANCE, CALIFORNIA – Just before 9 a.m. on February 18, the ExxonMobil refinery in Torrance, California exploded, shaking the surrounding community with the force of a 1.7 magnitude earthquake, and sending a quarter ton of sulfur oxide gas into the atmosphere. With the capacity to refine more than 150,000 barrels of gasoline a day, the facility supplies nearly 10 percent of the state’s gasoline supply, and its reduced capacity increased the cost of filling up a tank of gas in California by 6 to 10 cents per gallon.

Workers inside the refinery likened the incident to a “loud sonic boom,” and soon roughly 50 firefighters were battling a three-alarm fire. First responders initially feared the possibility of radioactive materials at the scene, though that concern was ruled out some three hours after the initial explosion.


On This Day In History April 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.

April 14 is the 104th day of the year (105th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 261 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1865, President Abraham Lincoln is shot in the head at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C. The assassin, actor John Wilkes Booth, shouted, “Sic semper tyrannis! (Ever thus to tyrants!) The South is avenged,” as he jumped onto the stage and fled on horseback. Lincoln died the next morning.

The assassination of President of the United States Abraham Lincoln took place as the American Civil War was drawing to a close, just five days after the surrender of the commanding general of the Army of Northern Virginia, Robert E. Lee, and his battered [Army of Northern Virginia to General Ulysses S. Grant. Lincoln was the first American president to be assassinated, though an unsuccessful attempt had been made on Andrew Jackson in 1835.

The assassination was planned and carried out by well-known actor John Wilkes Booth as part of a larger conspiracy intended to rally the remaining Confederate troops to continue fighting. Booth plotted with Lewis Powell and George Atzerodt to kill Secretary of State William H. Seward and Vice President Andrew Johnson as well.

Lincoln was shot while watching the play Our American Cousin at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C. with his wife, Mary Todd Lincoln . He died the next morning. The rest of the plot failed. Powell only managed to wound Seward, while Atzerodt, Johnson’s would-be assassin, lost his nerve and fled.

Death of President Lincoln

Dr. Charles Leale, a young Army surgeon on liberty for the night and attending the play, made his way through the crowd to the door at the rear of the Presidential box. It would not open. Finally Rathbone saw a notch carved in the door and a wooden brace jammed there to hold the door shut. Booth had carved the notch there earlier in the day and noiselessly put the brace up against the door after entering the box. Rathbone shouted to Leale, who stepped back from the door, allowing Rathbone to remove the brace and open the door.

Leale entered the box to find Rathbone bleeding profusely from a deep gash that ran the length of his upper left arm. Nonetheless, he passed Rathbone by and stepped forward to find Lincoln slumped forward in his chair, held up by Mary, who was sobbing. Lincoln had no pulse and Leale believed him to be dead. Leale lowered the President to the floor. A second doctor in the audience, Dr. Charles Sabin Taft, was lifted bodily from the stage over the railing and into the box. Taft and Leale cut away Lincoln’s blood-stained collar and opened his shirt, and Leale, feeling around by hand, discovered the bullet hole in the back of the head by the left ear. Leale removed a clot of blood in the wound and Lincoln’s breathing improved. Still, Leale knew it made no difference: “His wound is mortal. It is impossible for him to recover”.

Leale, Taft, and another doctor from the audience, Dr. Albert King, quickly consulted and decided that while the President must be moved, a bumpy carriage ride across town to the White House was out of the question. After briefly considering Peter Taltavull‘s Star Saloon next door, they chose to carry Lincoln across the street and find a house. The three doctors and some soldiers who had been in the audience carried the President out the front entrance of Ford’s. Across the street, a man was holding a lantern and calling “Bring him in here! Bring him in here!” The man was Henry Safford, a boarder at William Petersen’s boarding house opposite Ford’s. The men carried Lincoln into the boarding house and into the first-floor bedroom, where they laid him diagonally on the bed because he was too tall to lie straight.

A vigil began at the Petersen House. The three physicians were joined by Surgeon General of the United States Army Dr. Joseph K. Barnes, Dr. Charles Henry Crane, Dr. Anderson Ruffin Abbott, and Dr. Robert K. Stone. Crane was a major and Barnes’ assistant. Stone was Lincoln’s personal physician. Robert Lincoln, home at the White House that evening, arrived at the Petersen House after being told of the shooting at about midnight. Tad Lincoln, who had attended Grover’s Theater to see Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp, was not allowed to go to the Peterson House.

Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles and United States Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton came and took charge of the scene. Mary Lincoln was so unhinged by the experience of the assassination that Stanton ordered her out of the room by shouting, “Take that woman out of here and do not let her in here again!” While Mary Lincoln sobbed in the front parlor, Stanton set up shop in the rear parlor, effectively running the United States government for several hours, sending and receiving telegrams, taking reports from witnesses, and issuing orders for the pursuit of Booth.

Nothing more could be done for President Lincoln. At 7:22 a.m. on April 15, 1865, he died. He was 56 years old. Mary Lincoln was not present at the time of his death. The crowd around the bed knelt for a prayer, and when they were finished, Stanton said, “Now he belongs to the ages”. There is some disagreement among historians as to Stanton’s words after Lincoln died. All agree that he began “Now he belongs to the…” with some stating he said “ages” while others believe he said “angels”

The Daily/Nightly Show (Your Right to Party)

Bernie Sanders Announcement!

Tonight we will be be discussing a far less exciting announcement, that of Hillary Clinton.  The panel will be Debi Mazar, Nia-Malika Henderson, and Ricky Velez.


Asaad Minaj (with a cameo by Sam Bee)

This week’s guests-

Adam Horovitz, better known as Ad-Rock, is one of the original Beastie Boys and unless we’re going to discuss his recent feud with Vin Diesel over whether Diesel was ever a dancer for the Beastie Boys.

Elizabeth Warren’s 2 part web exclusive extended video and the real news below.

Hillary Is Running

Former senator, 2008 Democratic candidate for presidential nominations and  former Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton has announced she is again seeking the office of President of the United States.

Not everyone is jumping on board, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio told “Meet the Press” that he is holding back his endorsement until Mrs. Clinton clarified her economic platform. Too friendly with Wall St isn’t her only problem. She has been silent about the m P5+1 negotiations with Iran over it’s nuclear program. She has supported arming the so-called “moderate rebels” in Syria uprising. Where does she stand on drone attacks, targeted assassinations and overall use of military force, the out of control surveillance community?

Right now, like the song goes, “Still I wish there was somethin’ you would do or say, to try and make me change my mind and stay.”

Unlike the song. I am still listening.