07/02/2015 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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Trevor Timm: Killing civilians to vanquish Isis will only make besieged people hate us

Advocates for even more war in the Middle East apparently have a new strategy for defeating Isis: allow the US military to kill more civilians. If you think I’m exaggerating, just read their deranged and pathological arguments for yourself.

It began in late May when the New York Times reported that both Iraqi and American officials started complaining the US was too worried about killing civilians, suggesting that the Obama administration shouldn’t be worried that indiscriminately killing innocent people might turn the Iraqi population even more against the US than it already is. (Nevermind that it could be considered a war crime.) As the Times’s Eric Schmitt wrote: “many Iraqi commanders and some American officers say that exercising such prudence with airstrikes is a major reason the Islamic State, also known as Isis or Daesh, has been able to seize vast territory in recent months in Iraq and Syria.” [..]

If the US is being a little more careful about civilian deaths on its third go-around in Iraq – and that’s a giant “if” – we should all be commending that. Perhaps they’ve learned that if our second invasion of Iraq didn’t lead to the deaths of 100,000 Iraqi civilians, we wouldn’t be in this Isis mess in the first place. A call for a return to anything short of only killing enemy soldiers should be called what it is: sociopathic.

Robert Reich: Overtime: Finally, A Break for the Middle Class

The U.S. Department of Labor just proposed raising the overtime threshold — what you can be paid and still qualify to be paid “time-and-a-half” beyond 40 hours per week — from $23,600 a year to $50,400.

This is a big deal. Some 5 million workers will get a raise. (See accompanying video, which we made last month.)

Business lobbies are already hollering this will kill jobs. That’s what they always predict – whether it’s raising the minimum wage, Obamacare, family and medical leave, or better worker safety. Yet their predictions never turn out to be true.

In fact, the new rule is likely to increase the number of jobs. That’s because employers who don’t want to pay overtime have an obvious option: They can hire more workers and employ each of them for no more than 40 hours a week.

Joseph E. Stiglitz and Martin Guzman: Argentina Shows Greece There May Be Life After Default

When, five years ago, Greece’s crisis began, Europe extended a helping hand. But it was far different from the kind of help that one would have wanted, far different from what one might have expected if there was even a bit of humanity, of European solidarity.

The initial proposals had Germany and other “rescuers” actually making a profit out of Greece’s distress, charging a far, far higher interest rate than their cost of capital. Worse, they imposed conditions on Greece — changes in its macro- and micro-policies — that would have to be made in return for the money. [..]

The situation has some important similarities with Argentina’s 2001 default — and some differences as well. In both countries, recessions turned into depressions as a consequence of austerity policies — making the debt even more unsustainable. In both cases, the policies were demanded as a condition for assistance. Both countries had rigid currency arrangements that gave them no possibility for running expansionary monetary policies during the recession. In both countries, the IMF got it wrong, providing alarmingly flawed forecasts of the consequences of the imposed policies. Unemployment and poverty soared, and GDP plummeted. Indeed, there is even a striking similarity in the magnitude of the fall in GDP and the increase in the unemployment rate.

Ralph Nader: Where Are the Presidential Candidates on the Minimum Wage?

As the 2016 campaign season gets underway, working families across the country will be very interested in where presidential candidates stand on raising the minimum wage. [..]

Democratic primary candidates Martin O’Malley and Bernie Sanders have come out in favor of raising the minimum wage to $15.00 over the next several years, a living wage that would lift tens of millions of individuals out of poverty. Others have remained mum on the subject, including former Virginia Senator Jim Webb and former Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chaffee.

Perhaps most glaringly silent is the front-runner, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. She has spoken many times about making sure that individuals will make enough money to survive, including most recently at the Fight for $15 conference in June where she said, “It is wrong that so many people stand against you thinking that they can steal your wages with no consequences. That even stacks the deck higher for those at the top.” However, Clinton has declined to comment on whether or not she would support a $15 an hour minimum wage, or when she would like to see a wage hike implemented. In 2007, as a Senator, she supported raising the minimum wage to $7.25 an hour and in May, 2014 she finally came out in favor of raising it to $10.10 an hour.

Mark Weisbrot: Are European Authorities Trying to Force Regime Change in Greece?

It’s ironic but not surprising that the European Central Bank decided Sunday to limit its credit to Greece by enough to force the Greek banking system to close.

This has pushed Greece closer to a more serious financial crisis than the country has had in the past five years of austerity-induced depression. Why did the ECB decide to take this harsh, unnecessary and dangerous measure now?

It seems clear that the move is in response to the Greek government’s decision to hold a referendum on whether to accept the last offer from the European authorities outlining conditions for continuing official lending to Greece. The financial problems and inconveniences of this week, caused by the bank holiday, are the European authorities’ way of saying, “Vote as we’ll tell you to, or we can make your lives even more miserable than we have been making them.”

On This Day In History July 2

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.

July 2 is the 183rd day of the year (184th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 182 days remaining until the end of the year.

It is the midpoint of a common year. This is because there are 182 days before and 182 days after (median of the year) in common years, and 183 before and 182 after in leap years. The exact time in the middle of the year is at noon, or 12:00. In the UK and other countries that use “Summer Time” the actual exact time of the mid point in a common year is at (1.00 pm) 13:00 this is when 182 days and 12 hours have elapsed and there are 182 days and 12 hours remaining. This is due to Summer Time having advanced the time by one hour. It falls on the same day of the week as New Year’s Day in common years.

On this day in 1964, U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson signs into law the historic Civil Rights Act in a nationally televised ceremony at the White House.

In the landmark 1954 case Brown v. Board of Education, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that racial segregation in schools was unconstitutional. The 10 years that followed saw great strides for the African-American civil rights movement, as non-violent demonstrations won thousands of supporters to the cause. Memorable landmarks in the struggle included the Montgomery bus boycott in 1955–sparked by the refusal of Alabama resident Rosa Parks to give up her seat on a city bus to a white woman–and Martin Luther King, Jr.’s famous “I have a dream” speech at a rally of hundreds of thousands in Washington, D.C., in 1963.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Pub.L. 88-352, 78 Stat. 241, enacted July 2, 1964) was a landmark piece of legislation in the United States that outlawed major forms of discrimination against blacks and women, including racial segregation. It ended unequal application of voter registration requirements and racial segregation in schools, at the workplace and by facilities that served the general public (“public accommodations”). Powers given to enforce the act were initially weak, but were supplemented during later years. Congress asserted its authority to legislate under several different parts of the United States Constitution, principally its power to regulate interstate commerce under Article One (section 8), its duty to guarantee all citizens equal protection of the laws under the Fourteenth Amendment and its duty to protect voting rights under the Fifteenth Amendment.

Sucky Blogging Breakfast Club!

I’m telling you, I’m busy.

Today TMC and I are busy together.

The Hermione Sails Into New York Harbor, Cannons Blazing


JULY 1, 2015

The last time a boat sailed into New York Harbor bearing the Marquis de Lafayette, the arrival touched off a frenzy that would put Beatlemania to shame.

The year was 1824, and some 50,000 people – roughly a third of New York’s population – lined the streets for a glimpse of Lafayette, the “French founding father,” who was visiting the United States as part of a 13-month triumphal tour of the nation he had helped liberate nearly a half-century earlier.

Marie-Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier de Lafayette, a staggeringly wealthy provincial aristocrat who had married into one of France’s grandest families, was only 19 when he first landed in America, in 1777, having sailed across the ocean on his own dime to support the Revolution, in defiance of Louis XVI. He became a major general and something of an adopted son to Washington. After fighting at the Battles of Brandywine (where he was wounded) and Rhode Island, he returned to France, where he successfully persuaded the king to lend troops to the American cause.

While passed over as commander in favor of Rochambeau, Lafayette was sent ahead on the Hermione in May 1780 to personally inform Washington that a half-dozen ships and some 5,000 French troops were on their way. That support helped turn the tide of the Revolution.

“If America forgets its independence was due to French military assistance, that would be a sad thing,” Miles Young, the New York-based worldwide chairman and chief executive of Ogilvy & Mather and the president of the Friends of Hermione-Lafayette in America, said last week.

The drawings for the original ship had been lost, so shipbuilders in Rochefort, on the west coast of France, worked from those of a sister ship held in British Admiralty archives.

The hull and masts were constructed from 2,000 French oaks. Each stitch in the 19 linen sails was sewn by a single sailmaker, and rigged by a team from Sweden. In all, the project involved about 400,000 wood and traditionally forged metal parts.

“It’s completely mad to build an 18th-century frigate with this kind of almost religious authenticity,” Mr. Young said.

I would like to say more about the Marquis de Lafayette and probably will at some point, but I just got back this evening from another meeting of the Gilmores that was, umm…, not to be missed and there are several more this summer.

Likewise TMC will be visiting with her family over the 4th and today is the only time we can do this.  Besides, she tells me that the 4th in the City is a cruel joke on anyone who wants to get anywhere at all.

So no news except the personal kind.  Saturday the 4th we will be celebrating the 5th anniversary of The Stars Hollow Gazette, the start of Le Tour, and the 2015 Women’s World Cup Consolation Match.  Sunday will be Silverstone, Day 2 of Le Tour, and the 2015 Women’s World Cup Final.

Plus the normal non-sense.  I’m busy!

Lafayette Video

This Day in History

A Long Way to Go for Transgender Rights and Respect

Last week’s victory for the LGBT community was historic but the transgender community still faces staggering challenges. John Oliver, host of HBO’s “Last Week Tonight,” tackles the “T” in LGBT.

The Daily/Nightly Show (Eh? I’m a little deaf in my Right ear)

Handsome Ape Update

If there is Facebook in the afterlife, you are in hell.

Tonightly we will be talking about Church burnings.  Remember, because this is a war against the Christian faith in general, the fact that the congregations of these Churches is overwhelmingly African American has no relevance whatsoever.


The panel is Jim Gaffigan, Cenk Uygur, and Kerry Coddett.


Mad as a Hatter

This week’s guests-

You have every reason to mistrust Kirsten Gillibrand.  Her donations from pro-TPP groups was second only to – wait for it – Mitch McConnell.  He got $8.2 million, she got $6.2 million.

Despite that she voted against TPA, so… points for her I guess.

She’ll be on to promote her new ghostwritten by her writer and Hillary Clinton’s writer book- Off the Sidelines: Speak Up, Be Fearless, and Change Your World

The real news below.