06/27/2015 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”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

New York Times Editorial: A Profound Ruling Delivers Justice on Gay Marriage

To the list of landmark Supreme Court decisions reaffirming the power and the scope of the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection under the law – from Brown v. Board of Education to Loving v. Virginia to United States v. Windsor – we can now add Obergefell v. Hodges.

In a profound and inspiring opinion expanding human rights across America, and bridging the nation’s past to its present, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote: “The right to marry is a fundamental right inherent in the liberty of the person, and under the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment couples of the same sex may not be deprived of that right and that liberty.”

As news of the ruling came out on Friday morning, opponents of same-sex marriage struggled to fathom how the country they thought they understood could so rapidly pass them by. But, in fact, the court’s decision fits comfortably within the arc of American legal history.

Trevor Timm: [Think it’s cool Facebook can auto-tag you in pics? So does the government Think it’s cool Facebook can auto-tag you in pics? So does the government]

State-of-the-art facial recognition technology, which had been the stuff of hypothetical privacy nightmares for years, is becoming a startling reality. It is increasingly being deployed all around the United States by giant tech companies, shady advertisers and the FBI – with few if any rules to stop it.

In recent weeks, both Facebook and Google launched facial recognition to mine the photos on your phone, with both impressive and disturbing results. Facebook’s Moments app can recognize you even if you cover your face. Google Photos can identify grown adults from decades-old childhood pictures.

Some people might find it neat when it’s only restricted to photos on their phone. But advertisers, security companies and just plain creepy authority figures have also set up their own systems at music festivals, sporting events and even some churches to monitor attendees, which is bound to disturb even those who don’t give a second thought to issues like the NSA’s mass surveillance programs.

Chelsea E. Manning: Same-sex marriage isn’t equality for all LGBT people. Our movement can’t end

It wasn’t that long ago – 4 November 2008 – that the US had an election that galvanized a generation of activists to change policies in this country that would have enshrined into law the continued marginalization of a large group of people. I’m not talking about who was elected president, or which political party took the most seats in Congress: rather, a ballot initiative in the state of California, called Proposition 8, passed by a four-point margin that night and successfully amended the state’s constitution by adding language that defined marriage as being between “one man and one woman”. [..]

But I worry that, with full marriage equality, much of the queer community will be left wondering how else to engage with a society that still wants to define who we are – and who in our community will be left to push for full equality for all transgender and queer people, now that this one fight has been won. I fear that our precious movements for social justice and all the remarkable advancements we have made are now vulnerable to being taken over by monied people and institutions, and that those of us for whom same-sex marriage rights brings no equality will be slowly erased from our movement and our history.

Joe Conason: The Real Meaning of the Confederate Flag

In the intensifying debate over the Confederate flag, important clues about the true meaning of this seditious symbol are staring us in the face. Dozens of those clues were posted by an angry, glaring Dylann Storm Roof on the “Last Rhodesian” website, where the confessed Charleston killer pays homage to certain flags-notably those of apartheid-era South Africa and Rhodesia, as well as the old Confederacy-while he enthusiastically desecrates another.

Pictures of Roof burning, stomping and spitting on the Stars and Stripes are interspersed among the photos of him grasping and waving the Confederate battle flag, sometimes while holding a gun. “I hate the sight of the American flag,” he raged in a long screed on the site. “Modern American patriotism is an absolute joke.”

What this racial terrorist meant to express, in crude prose and pictures, is a lesson that the diehard defenders of the Confederate flag should no longer ignore: To uphold the banner of secession is to reject patriotism-and has never meant anything else.

Bill Boyarsky: Obamacare: Not Perfect, But ‘Here to Stay’

Republicans have been cornered by a president they had vowed to drive from office. Obamacare, an imperfect but badly needed revolution in health care, is, as President Barack Obama said, “here to stay.” Tens of millions of Americans will keep health insurance long denied them, and millions more will obtain such policies in the future.

Republicans sound angry and confused as they try to convince these many millions that they got a bad deal. It reminds me of earlier GOP generations warning Americans that Social Security and Medicare would land us all in the poor house. No doubt their latest effort will backfire, too.

On This Day In History June 27

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.

June 27 is the 178th day of the year (179th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 187 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1950, Truman orders U.S. forces to Korea.

On June 27, 1950, President Harry S. Truman announces that he is ordering U.S. air and naval forces to South Korea to aid the democratic nation in repulsing an invasion by communist North Korea. The United States was undertaking the major military operation, he explained, to enforce a United Nations resolution calling for an end to hostilities, and to stem the spread of communism in Asia. In addition to ordering U.S. forces to Korea, Truman also deployed the U.S. 7th Fleet to Formosa (Taiwan) to guard against invasion by communist China and ordered an acceleration of military aid to French forces fighting communist guerrillas in Vietnam.

Factors in US intervention

The Truman Administration was caught at a crossroads. Before the invasion, Korea was not included in the strategic Asian Defense Perimeter outlined by Secretary of State Acheson. Military strategists were more concerned with the security of Europe against the Soviet Union than East Asia. At the same time, the Administration was worried that a war in Korea could quickly widen into another world war should the Chinese or Soviets decide to get involved as well.

One facet of the changing attitude toward Korea and whether to get involved was Japan. Especially after the fall of China to the Communists, “…Japan itself increasingly appeared as the major East Asian prize to be protected”. US East Asian experts saw Japan as the critical counterweight to the Soviet Union and China in the region. While there was no United States policy that dealt with South Korea directly as a national interest, its proximity to Japan pushed South Korea to the fore. “The recognition that the security of Japan required a non-hostile Korea led directly to President Truman’s decision to intervene… The essential point… is that the American response to the North Korean attack stemmed from considerations of US policy toward Japan.” The United States wanted to shore up Japan to make it a viable counterweight against the Soviet Union and China, and Korea was seen as integral to that end.

The other important part of committing to intervention lay in speculation about Soviet action in the event that the United States intervene. The Truman administration was fretful that a war in Korea was a diversionary assault that would escalate to a general war in Europe once the US committed in Korea. At the same time, “[t]here was no suggestion from anyone that the United Nations or the United States could back away from (the conflict)”. In Truman’s mind, this aggression, if left unchecked, would start a chain reaction that would destroy the United Nations and give the go ahead to further Communist aggression elsewhere. Korea was where a stand had to be made, the difficult part was how. The UN Security council approved the use of force to help the South Koreans and the US immediately began using air and naval forces in the area to that end. The Administration still refrained from committing on the ground because some advisors believed the North Koreans could be stopped by air and naval power alone. Also, it was still uncertain if this was a clever ploy by the Soviet Union to catch the US unawares or just a test of US resolve. The decision to commit ground troops and to intervene eventually became viable when a communiqué was received on June 27 from the Soviet Union that alluded it would not move against US forces in Korea. “This opened the way for the sending of American ground forces, for it now seemed less likely that a general war-with Korea as a preliminary diversion-was imminent”. With the Soviet Union’s tacit agreement that this would not cause an escalation, the United States now could intervene with confidence that other commitments would not be jeopardized.

The Breakfast Club (The Return of Sucky Blogging)

breakfast beers photo breakfastbeers.jpgIt’s another of those busy summer weeks where I am away and my writing and reading time (which is just as, if not more, important) is dependent on spotty WiFi and finding a hidden corner away from the Gilmore clan.

I’m also missing my customary naps which leaves me irritable, ennervated, and unfocused.

And so sucky blogging returns.  Truthfully I haven’t been able to find much of interest during my cursory scans and what I have I don’t have time to give the treatment it deserves.  Still, the purpose of these pieces (outside their entertainment value of which I’m sure you’re getting enough at my expense) is to alert you to stories and sources to which you might otherwise not be exposed.

Therefore it is more important than ever that you click the links.  I will not be able to summarize, merely to sum up-

Buttercup is marry Humperdinck in little less than half an hour. So all we have to do is get in, break up the wedding, steal the princess, make our escape… after I kill Count Rugen.


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.

I would never make fun of LaEscapee or blame PhilJD.  And I am highly organized.

The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings.

Julius Caesar (I, ii, 140-141)

This Day in History

News and Blogs

June 26, 2015 Postscript: I Love Rainbows

I don’t think I can actually describe the emotions I’ve felt today; they’ve run the entire gamut. I’m not LGBT, so technically, this ruling legally doesn’t affect me directly, but I have really felt strongly today. Strongly proud. Strongly jubilant. Strongly angry at a select few.

The decision came down around 9am Central, just as I got to work. My phone, with its many news notifications, went absolutely nuts. I did my first work stuff, then got online and it was so early it wasn’t even in my regular newsfeeds. But I got to Facebook. That graphic of the guy with the rainbow coming out from his computer – that was it – that captured the moment perfectly.

I was very emotional. This surprised me. I don’t even think I can adequately convey it in words. I got really choked up. I’m still really choked up, but this morning was just something else.

Health and Fitness News

Welcome to the Stars Hollow Gazette‘s Health and Fitness News weekly diary. It will publish on Saturday afternoon and be open for discussion about health related issues including diet, exercise, health and health care issues, as well as, tips on what you can do when there is a medical emergency. Also an opportunity to share and exchange your favorite healthy recipes.

Questions are encouraged and I will answer to the best of my ability. If I can’t, I will try to steer you in the right direction. Naturally, I cannot give individual medical advice for personal health issues. I can give you information about medical conditions and the current treatments available.

You can now find past Health and Fitness News diaries here and on the right hand side of the Front Page.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

Grilled Chicken Breast in Three Simple Steps

Countless words are devoted every year to finessing the usual centerpieces of your summer barbecues: how to grill up the perfect burgers, juiciest steaks, flakiest fish, most tender pork butt.

But what about the humble boneless, skinless chicken breast? The staple of dinner tables all over this country most of the year, it doesn’t get much attention when grilling season arrives. [..]

The upshot is that grilling juicy, well-cooked chicken breasts involves three basic steps: pounding the breasts to even out the thickness, marinating them aggressively with salt and aromatics, then grilling them hot and fast.

Melissa Clark, The New York Times

Sweet and Spicy Grilled Chicken Breasts

Brown sugar gives these grilled chicken breasts a glistening glaze and caramel-like sweetness, while mustard powder and cayenne add an earthy kick.

Grilled Sesame Lime Chicken Breasts

Brining chicken breasts in a soy sauce and fish sauce marinade flecked with lime adds flavor and helps retain moisture while they are on the grill.

Lemon and Thyme Grilled Chicken Breasts

These classic herb and lemon-seasoned chicken breasts will win over fans, especially when cooked over charcoal to give them the deepest, smokiest taste.

Women’s World Cup 2015: Quarterfinals

Of the 8 teams left the U.S. Women’s Team is ranked only 4th.  It’s easy to see why this is.  Without the unexpected (but clear) Red Card foul by Colombia keeper Catalina Perez in the 47th minute the outcome of their first knockout match was in serious doubt as Colombia seemingly had them baffled with their ball control offense.

It was doubly significant because the ejection of Perez meant they had to use their last available substitute goalie who was under penalty but eligible.  This however caused a one player forfeit (the substitute was under penalty) and Colombia had to play all but 2 minutes of the second half 10 v. 11.

Also Abby Wambach proved ineffective on penalty kicks and they lost the services of Megan Rapinoe and Lauren Holiday to Yellow Cards.

Fortunately they’ll be facing China, the lowest ranked team remaining.  They play a tight defense but the U.S. does too (top rated defense of all the teams left in the tournament).  What Team USA has that China lacks is a wide variety of offensive options, though you wouldn’t know it from the Colombia game which seemed at times to be loft it to Wambach and hope for the best.  Also China is considered the slowest team still playing and their offense has shown no sparkle.

In short it should be winnable in which case the U.S. will advance to face either Germany (defending champions and, based on their dominant tournament play, the top ranked team in the world at the moment) or France (brilliant at times but inconsistent, currently ranked 5th) in the Semifinals on June 30th.

Win or lose in the Semis you would get to see the ladies play again either in the consolation game or the Championship.

Results of the Round of 16

China 1 Cameroon 0
Germany 4 Sweden 1
France 3 South Korea 0
Australia 1 Brazil 0
Canada 1 Switzerland 0
USA 2 Colombia 0
Japan 2 Netherlands 1
England 2 Norway 1

The best print coverage is from The Guardian (of course).  Today’s matches will be on Fox, Germany v. France at 4 pm ET and USA v. China at 7:30 pm ET.  Tomorrow’s matches will be on Fox Sports One, Japan v. Austalia at 4 pm ET and England v. Canada at 7:30 pm ET.

I may or may not be available for liveblogging.