04/21/2015 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: The Violent Legacy of Chicago’s Police

Rahm Emanuel inherited a Police Department with a history of serious misconduct when he became mayor of Chicago four years ago. Mr. Emanuel tried to break with the past on Wednesday when he co-sponsored a proposal in City Council that would provide reparations to scores of people who were systematically tortured by the police during the 1970s and ’80s under the infamous police commander Jon Burge.

On the same day, in a separate case that is still fresh in the public’s mind, the Council awarded $5 million to the family of Laquan McDonald, a black teenager who was shot 16 times by a police officer in October. The shooting spawned a federal investigation, rattled public trust and raised troubling accusations of a police cover-up. The Council’s decision to pay was made before a lawsuit was filed, but this cannot be the end of the case. The city needs to release a police dash-cam video of the shooting that it has withheld on grounds that releasing it might interfere with the federal investigation. [..]

The city has declined to release the police video because of the continuing investigation. But that’s a flimsy excuse. The public deserves to see this evidence, and the longer the delay the greater the suspicion against a department that has a history of violating the public’s trust.

Dean Baker: The Simple Progressive Economic Agenda for Hillary Clinton (or Anyone Else)

While many policies will be needed to improve the situation of the poor and middle class, there are three simple ones that could make a big difference: a more competitive dollar, a Federal Reserve Board committed to full employment and a financial transactions tax to rein in Wall Street. If Clinton or any other presidential candidate wants to level the playing field, these policies would be a great place to start.

The competitive dollar is an issue that is actually quite simple, but obscured by bad reporting in the media. The value of the dollar relative to other currencies is by far the main determinant of the country’s deficit. We currently have a trade deficit of more than $500 billion a year (at three percent of GDP).

This trade deficit is money that is creating demand elsewhere rather than in the United States. This $500 billion trade deficit has the same impact on the economy as if households or businesses took $500 billion from their income each year and stuffed it under their mattress rather than spend it. This is a main reason that the economy remains well below full employment seven years after the collapse of the housing bubble.

Robert Creamer: House GOP Votes to Take Food From the Mouths of Hungry Children to Give Huge Tax Break to Children of Multi-Millionaires — Really?

Last week the House Republicans took an amazing vote. They literally voted to take food from the mouths of hungry children in order to give a huge tax break to children who were born with a silver spoon in theirs — the sons and daughters of multi-millionaires.

I am not exaggerating. The GOP voted to eliminate the estate tax. But the estate tax only applies to estates larger than $5.4 million for an individual and $10.9 million for couples. Eliminating the estate tax would benefit only 5,500 families in America (.02 percent of the population). And 75 percent of the benefits would flow to children who inherit estates of $20 million or more.

And some of those are huge fortunes. Eight Americans earned $10 billion in income in 2013 alone. That’s enough income to pay 200,000 average American workers.


Jeff Biggers: There would be more regulation of coal mining if it didn’t just affect ‘hillbillies’

For many in central Appalachia, the fight against reckless strip mining operations recalls a popular t-shirt in West Virginia: “Save the Endangered Hillbilly.” It’s not really a joke; decades of contempt and disregard for rural mountaineers underscore an existence no less threatened than local wildlife.

Appalachia has become a code word for our nation’s sacrifice zones. “Coal mining has been destroying human and wildlife communities in Appalachia for more than 100 years”, according to Tierra Curry, a southeastern Kentucky native and a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity. The Center’s lawsuit against the US Fish and Wildlife Service in 2012 resulted in a recent proposal to list two species of fish impacted by mining under the Endangered Species Act. [..]

This disregard for the inhabitants of the region is a big reason why – despite a mounting health and humanitarian crisis – there has still not been federal intervention to put an end to the public health disaster wreaked by mountaintop removal mining.

GAry Younge: The Cornel West-Michael Eric Dyson feud is petty. Black people are dying in the streets

Shortly before the last presidential election, Columbia political science professor, Fred Harris, bemoaned in an essay: “Were Harold Cruse, the author of the unsparing 1967 book The Crisis of the Negro Intellectual, still alive, he would despair at the state of black intellectual life.” [..]

As if on cue, Michael Eric Dyson, of Georgetown University, published a searing take-down of Cornel West, formerly of Harvard and Princeton and now at New York’s Union Theological Seminary, in The New Republic on Sunday bemoaning West’s “dramatic plummet from his perch as a world-class intellectual”. [..]

At the best of times this would be an internal dispute between two well-paid tenured professors that barely resonated beyond the academe and made precious little impact within it. But these are not the best of times. Black people are being shot dead in the street almost daily by trigger-happy cops and two ostensibly smart men, who have both produced excellent work and who pride themselves on being engaged academics responsive to the needs of the black community, are firing broadsides at each other.

TBC: Morning Musing 4.21.15

Howdy! I have 3 articles for your perusal this morning!

First up, some stark news:

Corporations now spend more lobbying Congress than taxpayers spend funding Congress

Corporations now spend about $2.6 billion a year on reported lobbying expenditures – more than the $2 billion we spend to fund the House ($1.16 billion) and Senate ($820 million).


On This Day In History April 21

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. (Click on image to enlarge.)

April 21 is the 111th day of the year (112th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 254 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1777, British troops under the command of General William Tryon attack the town of Danbury, Connecticut, and begin destroying everything in sight. Facing little, if any, opposition from Patriot forces, the British went on a rampage, setting fire to homes, farmhouse, storehouses and more than 1,500 tents.

The British destruction continued for nearly a week before word of it reached Continental Army leaders, including General Benedict Arnold, who was stationed in nearby New Haven. Along with General David Wooster and General Gold Silliman, Arnold led a contingent of more than 500 American troops in a surprise attack on the British forces as they began withdrawing from Danbury.

Sybil Ludington (April 16, 1761- February 26, 1839), daughter of Col. Henry Ludington, was a heroine of the American Revolutionary War who became famous for her night ride on April 26, 1777 to alert American colonial forces to the approach of enemy troops.

The Ride

Ludington’s ride started at 9:00 P.M. and ended around dawn. She rode 40 miles, more than twice the distance of Paul Revere, into the damp hours of darkness. This is especially remarkable because modern day endurance horse riders using lightweight saddles can barely ride such distances in daylight over well marked courses (see endurance riding). She rode through Carmel on to Mahopac, thence to Kent Cliffs, from there to Farmers Mills and back home. She used a stick to prod her horse and knock on doors. She managed to defend herself against a highwayman with her father’s musket. When, soaked from the rain and exhausted, she returned home, most of the 400 soldiers were ready to march.

The memoir for Colonel Henry Ludington states,

Sybil, who, a few days before, had passed her sixteenth birthday, and bade her to take a horse, ride for the men, and tell them to be at his house by daybreak. One who even now rides from Carmel to Cold Spring will find rugged and dangerous roads, with lonely stretches. Imagination only can picture what it was a century and a quarter ago, on a dark night, with reckless bands of “Cowboys” and “Skinners” abroad in the land. But the child performed her task, clinging to a man’s saddle, and guiding her steed with only a hempen halter, as she rode through the night, bearing the news of the sack of Danbury. There is no extravagance in comparing her ride with that of Paul Revere and its midnight message. Nor was her errand less efficient than his. By daybreak, thanks to her daring, nearly the whole regiment was mustered before her father’s house at Fredericksburgh, and an hour or two later was on the march for vengeance on the raiders.

The men arrived too late to save Danbury, Connecticut. At the start of the Battle of Ridgefield, however, they were able to drive General William Tryon, then governor of the colony of New York, and his men to Long Island Sound.

Gilmore for President 2016

Jim Gilmore is running for President. Maybe

If you’re thinking of the father in the TV series “The Gilmore Girls,” you’re way off, that was “Richard Gilmore” played so well by the late Edward Herman.

 photo 220px-Jim_Gilmore_by_Gage_Skidmore_.jpg
This Gilmore is James Stuart “Jim” Gilmore III, the  governor of Virginia from  January 17, 1998 to January 12, 2002. Gov. Gilmore is a Republican and threw his hat onto the GOP clown car back in 2006 for the 2008 GOP presidential nomination for president. That didn’t work out so well, mostly because of name recognition and funding, so he withdrew his name and shortly after announced he would run for the Senate.

The seat was, and still is held, by Sen. Mark Warner (D), who was up  for re-election and had initially decided not to seek reelection, then changes his mind. Sen. Warner, a right leaning Democrat, roundly defeated Gov. Gilmore by a wide margin. The governor only garnered 34% of the vote and even lost in normally strong Republican districts. But then, it was the presidential election that brought Barack Husein Obama to the White House.  

He sat out the 2012 fray but has decided that he’s the guy with the experience to be the president in 2017.  Thus he has become one of the nineteen Republicans vying to face off with who ever the Democrats nominate (like we all don’t know who that very well maybe).

Welcome to the circus, Jim

The Daily/Nightly Show (Each Other’s Laundry)


It stands for Black Nerd.  It’s Larry’s first web exclusive clip.

Tonight’s panel is Mike Yard, Philip Galanes, and Christine Tiegen.  I have no idea what they are going to be talking about.


Everyone Loves Awards

I am thinking now about dispensing my own awards- The Hornbecks.

Next week’s guests-

Gayle Tzemach Lemmon is a Clintonite Neolib who shills feminism through entrepreneurship.  Yup, no matter how poor and destitute you and your family are, you can always grub a few extra scraps by doing the housekeeping or laundry or cooking or dressmaking of your betters.

You know what I hate?  When a particularly obsequious asshole like Eric Greitens gets a 2 part web exclusive extended video that I feel compelled to publish as part of the record.

That and the real news below.