Daily Archive: 05/01/2015

May 01 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”.

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David Cay Johnson: Baltimore riots speak the language of the dispossessed

Upheaval will end when political classes listen to more than just the rich

Monday’s riots in Baltimore offered a powerful warning about what lies ahead for America if its epidemic of inequality continues. But will we understand the message in the chaos?

“A riot is the language of the unheard,” the Rev. Martin Luther King said. What gets lost in translation is the logic that motivates rioters, whose inability to articulate their frustration finds expression in rocks thrown at police, looting neighborhood stores and setting fires. To outside observers, these actions appear irrational and self-defeating.

But their rhetoric is as old as civilization. Riots are a way for the oppressed to make their frustration known in the vain hope that those in power will respond with better policies.

Alex S. Vitale: Don’t count on Loretta Lynch to tame the police

New attorney general and the Justice Department she inherits have poor track records on law enforcement reform

More than five months after her nomination, Loretta Lynch has finally been confirmed as attorney general of the United States. No sooner did she assume office than Baltimore exploded into a level of civil unrest not seen there since 1968. Charm City is the latest symptom of a profound crisis of law enforcement that began with the killings of Eric Garner and Michael Brown last summer and continues as high profile police killings of unarmed black men occur almost every week. This crisis is one of the biggest issues facing Lynch, but unfortunately the record of the Department of Justice (DOJ) on police reform is discouraging. [..]

Unfortunately, nothing in Lynch’s past suggests that she will undertake structural reform. As U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, she was involved in only one case of police misconduct, the brutal 1997 beating and sexual assault of Abner Louima. While her team won a conviction, Louima’s lawyer accused her of failing to bring charges in other clear cases of abuse. Others charged her with ignoring broader patterns of misconduct that might have implicated the NYPD’s street crimes unit – the plainclothes anti-crime unit involved in the 1999 killing of Amadou Diallo – and then-Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.

Lynch has continually stressed that minority communities need to place more trust in police. According to her aides, she sees improving police morale as one of her top priorities. Unlike Holder, she has been a forceful participant in the war on drugs and opposes exploring changes in federal marijuana law. The Justice Department has never been an ideal institution for taming the police, but under Lynch the fight for reform may become even more difficult.

Joshua Kopstein: Feds are using fear, not facts, in anti-encryption crusade

Federal agencies say encryption will doom us, but they’re already using spy tools that circumvent it

For months, the FBI, the National Security Agency and an alphabet soup of other spooky agencies have been lashing out at tech companies that have responded to former NSA contractor Edward Snowden’s surveillance revelations by starting to protect customers with stronger encryption. But it’s increasingly obvious that the government’s crypto panic is powered by fear, not facts. [..]

The reason the FBI, Homeland Security and other agencies want us to imagine these frightening scenarios is that their encryption problem is just that: imaginary. It’s built on the false premise that making encryption more accessible will allow criminals to shield themselves from the law. The only solution, the government says, is for companies to put backdoors into their devices and apps, which by definition means installing defects that make our data more vulnerable to criminals and spies.

One need look only at what law enforcement agencies are doing in secret to see that these predictions of digital anarchy are pure fantasy.

Michele Goodwin: Watch Out, Joe Camel Is Back: Big Tobacco and the TPP

The Obama administration is poised to finalize the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement. If Congress passes the current trade promotion authority bill, the TPP will become subject to a simple up or down vote, without possibility for any amendment. The Obama administration refuses to tell the public what’s in the agreement and Congress seems pressed to accept provisions that many Americans might deplore. This is a problem. Consider the TPP’s secretive advocacy for big tobacco.

The U.S. government is supporting big tobacco companies by negotiating dozens of international trade and investment agreements, but largely without the public’s knowledge. Historically, the U.S. has supported big tobacco to expand their profitability abroad, despite known health risks. For example, dating back to the 1990s the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported that US tobacco trade surpluses doubled after “the U.S. government provided assistance in removing [trade] barriers.” The GAO report also notes how the prevalence of smoking in “Taiwan and South Korea had increased since the removal of U.S. cigarette export barriers,” which resulted in “the opening of Asian cigarette markets, [and increased] cigarette advertising…”

Robert L. Borosage: Hillary: Time to Step Up on the Trade Deal

It’s time for Hillary Clinton to take a position on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement and the fast track authority designed to ramrod it through the Congress. Hillary has been non-committal to date, with many assuming she will eventually support the president whom she served as Secretary of State.

But now the pressure to take a stand is growing. President Obama decided to call out his opponents, turning the escalating battle over fast track and TPP into an intra-party back-alley knife fight. AFLCIO President Rich Trumka, head of the 11 million member labor federation, delivered a speech making it clear that labor consider the vote on fast track and TPP fundamental. A leader of the opposition in the Congress, populist stalwart Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont just announced he would challenge Hillary for the nomination. Fast track has already passed the Senate Finance Committee. The debate on the floor will begin in May. It is time for Hillary to choose.

Most people assume, of course, that Hillary will support the treaty rather than break with the president whom she served. But, if she adheres to the standards that she put forth for the agreement, she might well surprise observers by joining the opposition.

Katha Pollitt: Charlie Hebdo’ Deserves Its Award for Courage in Free Expression. Here’s Why.

When PEN decided to award the first PEN/Toni and James C. Goodale Freedom of Expression Courage Award to the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, they surely thought they were honoring bravery in defense of free speech. This was a magazine that kept publishing after its offices were firebombed by Islamists in 2011, and kept publishing after nine staffers were horribly murdered by Islamists in January. Compare that to, say, Yale University Press, which dropped the illustrations for Jytte Clausen’s book about the Danish Mohammed cartoons after the book’s first printing, or Random House, which canceled publication of Sherry Jones’s The Jewel of Medina, a historical novel about Mohammed’s wife Aisha. Both publishing houses cited fears of violence by Muslim extremists. Those fears were not irrational. The head of the British publishing house that picked up Jones’s novel had his house firebombed-and the book was dropped. Violence works. [..]

The six writers are circulating a letter to PEN members, which many great and famous writers are signing: Joyce Carol Oates, Junot Diaz, Lorrie Moore. It seems to me these writers must be awfully sure that they will never fall afoul of either fanaticism or well-meaning liberalism. “There is a critical difference between staunchly supporting expression that violates the acceptable,” it argues, “and enthusiastically rewarding such expression.” Well, sure, but excuse me: violates the acceptable? The acceptable what? And don’t we need writing and artwork that pushes the boundary of what the acceptable is? “The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom,” as Blake put it.

Norman Mailer, former president of PEN, had all sorts of reprehensible, ignorant and pigheaded views. When it came to politics, he was like a drunken uncle banging the table at Thanksgiving. But he pushed the boundaries back for every writer. And much as I dislike the vast bulk of his writing and his repulsive ideas about women-talk about punching down-if PEN gave him an award, I would just live with it.

May 01 2015

On This Day In History May 1

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 images to enlarge

May 1 is the 121st day of the year (122nd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 244 days remaining until the end of the year.


On this day in 1786, Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro premieres in Vienna

By 1786, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was probably the most experienced and accomplished 30-year-old musician the world has ever seen, with dozens of now-canonical symphonies, concertos, sonatas, chamber works and masses already behind him. He also had 18 operas to his name, but none of those that would become his most famous. Over the final five years of his life (he died in 1791), Mozart would compose four operas that are among the most important and popular in the standard repertoire. This remarkably productive period of creative, critical and popular success for Mozart began with Le nozze di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro), which received its world premiere in Vienna, Austria, on May 1, 1786.


May 01 2015

The Breakfast Club (Walking in the Dark)

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

The Beatles release their ‘Sgt. Pepper’ album; Actress Marilyn Monroe born; CNN hits the airwaves; Mormon leader Brigham Young born; Blind and deaf author and activist Helen Keller dies.

Breakfast Tunes

Something to Think about over Coffee Prozac

Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light.

Helen Keller

May 01 2015

Allez le Barricades!

The Internationale

Arise ye workers from your slumbers

Arise ye prisoners of want

For reason in revolt now thunders

And at last ends the age of cant.

Away with all your superstitions

Servile masses arise, arise

We’ll change henceforth the old tradition

And spurn the dust to win the prize.

So comrades, come rally

And the last fight let us face

The Internationale unites the human race.

No more deluded by reaction

On tyrants only we’ll make war

The soldiers too will take strike action

They’ll break ranks and fight no more

And if those cannibals keep trying

To sacrifice us to their pride

They soon shall hear the bullets flying

We’ll shoot the generals on our own side.

So comrades, come rally

And the last fight let us face

The Internationale unites the human race.

No saviour from on high delivers

No faith have we in prince or peer

Our own right hand the chains must shiver

Chains of hatred, greed and fear

E’er the thieves will out with their booty

And give to all a happier lot.

Each at the forge must do their duty

And we’ll strike while the iron is hot.

So comrades, come rally

And the last fight let us face

The Internationale unites the human race.

The Internationale is a famous socialist, communist, social-democratic and anarchist anthem.  It is sung traditionally with the hand raised in a clenched fist salute.

Never mistake who I am and what I am all about.

May 01 2015

The Daily/Nightly Show (ersatz)

A cheap imitation of inferior quality.  That’s the gang for me.

The T-Word

Felonious Munk is a new regular.

Larry is on location in Baltimore with the Bloods and Crips.


Next week’s guests-

Jon wasted all his time on 2 part web exclusive extended with Judith Miller last night which you will find below so no video.

Kristen Wiig will probably be talking about The Diary of a Teenage Girl.

The real news below.