Daily Archive: 07/10/2015

Jul 10 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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Paul Krugman: Greece’s Economy Is a Lesson for Republicans in the U.S.

Greece is a faraway country with an economy roughly the size of greater Miami, so America has very little direct stake in its ongoing disaster. To the extent that Greece matters to us, it’s mainly about geopolitics: By poisoning relations among Europe’s democracies, the Greek crisis risks depriving the United States of crucial allies.

But Greece has nonetheless played an outsized role in U.S. political debate, as a symbol of the terrible things that will supposedly happen – any day now – unless we stop helping the less fortunate and printing money to fight unemployment. And Greece does indeed offer important lessons to the rest of us. But they’re not the lessons you think, and the people most likely to deliver a Greek-style economic disaster here in America are the very people who love to use Greece as a boogeyman. {..]

The point is that if you really worry that the U.S. might turn into Greece, you should focus your concern on America’s right. Because if the right gets its way on economic policy – slashing spending while blocking any offsetting monetary easing – it will, in effect, bring the policies behind the Greek disaster to America.

Dean Baker: Jeb Bush wants us to work more for the collective good. Who’s the socialist now?

Former governor Jeb Bush’s announcement this week that he thinks people should work more hours puts him in direct opposition to the two leading contenders on the Democratic side – both of whom are pushing proposals that will allow people to work less. This could mean that 2016 will be an election in which work hours play a central role.

Bush’s comment came during a speech in which he listed the things that Americans need to do to reach his target of 4.0% annual GDP growth “as far as the eye can see”: increase labor force participation, work longer hours, and increase productivity. (It was not the first time that Bush said that he thought people should work more – he previously argued for raising the normal retirement age for Social Security.)

The sight of someone who was raised in privilege and relied on family connections to make his careers in business and politics telling the rest of the American public that they have to work more will make good fodder for Bush’s political opponents. But this position is actually held by many people in policy circles in both political parties.

Rep. Alan Grayson: Why Don’t Democrats Vote? I’ll Tell You Why.

As you may have heard, Democratic turnout dropped off a cliff again last year, just like it did in 2010. I was wondering why, so I asked. I polled Florida non-voters. I found that the main reason why they didn’t vote last year was simple: They couldn’t see any difference between the candidates. When there is no difference between the candidates, Democrats don’t vote, and Democrats lose.  [..]

As Gov. Howard Dean has said, if you offer people a choice between a real Republican and a fake Republican, they will choose the real Republican every time. And they did. Getting back to our poll, we focused on people who actually could have voted, not permanent residents, convicted felons whose rights had not been restored or children. We offered the non-voters 12 different reasons to explain why they hadn’t voted. Reason #1, the most “popular,” was that “people did not like either choice for Governor.” Forty-one percent of the Democratic non-voters said that this was the main reason why people didn’t vote. [..]

The voters deserve a choice. In fact, they insist on it. Or they simply won’t vote.

Dave Johnson: Enormous, Humongous May Trade Deficit Slows Economy

The U.S. Census Bureau reported Tuesday that the May goods and services trade deficit was an enormous, humongous $40.9 billion, up a bit from an enormous, humongous $40.7 billion in April.

Our enormous, humongous trade deficit is a measure of how many jobs, factories, companies and industries we are losing to our pro-Wall Street trade policies. A trade deficit drains our economy of wealth, jobs and future economic opportunity. [..]

When you close a factory in the U.S., move the jobs and production to a low-wage, low-democracy country, and bring the same goods back to the U.S. to sell in the same stores this “increases cross-border trade.” But since this trade is going in one direction, it also increases our trade deficit, which hurts our economy. Moving the jobs to places where the workers are exploited means that a few investors and executives can pocket the difference in what is paid in wages and environmental protection costs, while impoverishing the workers and communities on all sides of the trade borders.

And to top it off, the U.S. doesn’t even make these companies pay their taxes, so we literally get nothing back for the lost jobs and wages.

Isaiah J. Polle: Schumer Takes the Low Road to Fund a Transportation Bill

Key Democrats in the Senate on Thursday worked to ratchet up the pressure on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, calling for him in a letter to move forward with a long-term transportation bill before federal authorization for the program expires at the end of the month.

But one of the signatories to the letter to McConnell, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), has poisoned the effort by adding to the debate a corporate tax giveaway plan that would leave behind crumbs for these desperately needed transportation investments. He is winning the applause of conservatives like Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), who is chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee and is looking to move a sweeping plan to slash corporate taxes through Congress. From the progressive movement, it should be receiving loud expressions of scorn and an uprising to block it. [..]

The problem is that, as the Schumer-Portman framework makes explicit, that tax would be “a one-time transition toll charge at a rate significantly lower than the statutory corporate rate” of 35 percent. It is, in effect, a reward to multinational corporations for using schemes to shunt the profits from U.S. sales through overseas subsidiaries that are often little more than a post-office box in a low-tax country. Plus, the “transition toll” is a transition to a more permanent lowering of corporate tax rates – at a time when the federal taxes corporations pay as a share of the national economy is already at a historic low.

Musa al-Gharbi: America’s biggest terror threat is from the far right

The US should use its monitoring tools on extremists of all stripes

According to a New America Foundation report, right-wing extremists have killed nearly twice as many Americans through domestic terrorism as “jihadists” have since 9/11. However, the same database shows that Muslims constitute a much higher percentage of those indicted on terrorism charges or killed when confronted by authorities. Despite being responsible for only 35 percent of the terrorism casualties, they account for 60 percent of terrorism indictments. The reason for the discrepancy is that right-wing extremists tend not to be monitored or investigated as heavily.

Shortly after President Barack Obama’s election – particularly after a groundbreaking 2009 Department of Homeland Security report on the threat of right-wing extremism – Republican lawmakers, along with conservative media and lobbying groups, argued that the White House was politicizing the term “extremism” in order to deploy law enforcement against otherwise lawful dissidents, such as those affiliated with the tea party. [..]

There was no discussion of the threat posed by these ideologues at the recent White House Summit on Countering Violent Extremism. In fact, law enforcement and national security agencies are generally hesitant to refer to acts committed by right-wing ideologues as terrorism.

Jul 10 2015

The Breakfast Club (A Song About Alice)

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

Start of World War II’s Battle of Britain; Telstar satellite launched; Millard Fillmore becomes President; Chechen warlord Shamil Basayev killed; Singer Arlo Guthrie born; Cartoon voice Mel Blanc dies.

Breakfast Tunes

Something to Think about over Coffee Prozac

Everyone has a responsibility to not only tolerate another person’s point of view, but also to accept it eagerly as a challenge to your own understanding. And express those challenges in terms of serving other people.

Arlo Guthrie

Jul 10 2015

On This Day In History July 10

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.

July 10 is the 191st day of the year (192nd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 174 days remaining until the end of the year.

1925, Scopes Monkey Trial begins,

In Dayton, Tennessee, the so-called “Monkey Trial” begins with John Thomas Scopes, a young high school science teacher, accused of teaching evolution in violation of a Tennessee state law.

The law, which had been passed in March, made it a misdemeanor punishable by fine to “teach any theory that denies the story of the Divine Creation of man as taught in the Bible, and to teach instead that man has descended from a lower order of animals.” With local businessman George Rappalyea, Scopes had conspired to get charged with this violation, and after his arrest the pair enlisted the aid of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to organize a defense. Hearing of this coordinated attack on Christian fundamentalism, William Jennings Bryan, the three-time Democratic presidential candidate and a fundamentalist hero, volunteered to assist the prosecution. Soon after, the great attorney Clarence Darrow agreed to join the ACLU in the defense, and the stage was set for one of the most famous trials in U.S. history.

On July 10, the Monkey Trial got underway, and within a few days hordes of spectators and reporters had descended on Dayton as preachers set up revival tents along the city’s main street to keep the faithful stirred up. Inside the Rhea County Courthouse, the defense suffered early setbacks when Judge John Raulston ruled against their attempt to prove the law unconstitutional and then refused to end his practice of opening each day’s proceeding with prayer.

Trial

The ACLU had originally intended to oppose the Butler Act on the grounds that it violated the teacher’s individual rights and academic freedom, and was therefore unconstitutional. Mainly because of Clarence Darrow, this strategy changed as the trial progressed, and the earliest argument proposed by the defense once the trial had begun was that there was actually no conflict between evolution and the creation account in the Bible (a viewpoint later called theistic evolution). In support of this claim, they brought in eight experts on evolution. Other than Dr. Maynard Metcalf, a zoologist from Johns Hopkins University, the judge would not allow these experts to testify in person. Instead, they were allowed to submit written statements so that their evidence could be used at the appeal. In response to this decision, Darrow made a sarcastic comment to Judge Raulston (as he often did throughout the trial) on how he had been agreeable only on the prosecution’s suggestions, for which he apologized the next day, keeping himself from being found in contempt of court.

The presiding judge John T. Raulston was accused of being biased towards the prosecution and frequently clashed with Darrow. At the outset of the trial Raulston quoted Genesis and the Butler Act. He also warned the jury not to judge the merit of the law (which would become the focus of the trial) but on the violation of the act, which he called a ‘high misdemeanor’. The jury foreman himself wasn’t convinced of the merit of the Act but acted, as did most of the jury, on the instructions of the judge.

By the later stages of the trial, Clarence Darrow had largely abandoned the ACLU’s original strategy and attacked the literal interpretation of the Bible as well as Bryan’s limited knowledge of other religions and science.

Only when the case went to appeal did the defense return to the original claim that the prosecution was invalid because the law was essentially designed to benefit a particular religious group, which would be unconstitutional.