08/04/2015 archive

The State of The District of Columbia

The topic of statehood for the District of Columbia became the hot topic of discussion on Monday after John Oliver, host of HBO’s “Last Week Tonight,” brought attention to disenfranchisement of more than 600,000 voters who live in the District.

“They pay federal taxes, and fight in wars,” Oliver said, “and yet have no member of Congress who’s able to vote on their behalf, even though their population is larger than Vermont and Wyoming, and their gross domestic product is higher than that of 16 states.” [..]

“Isn’t this just how countries treat their capital cities? It actually isn’t,” he said. “We’re the only democracy in the world that does this.” [..]

“It seems that Congress just forces riders on DC whenever they disapprove of how they’re spending their own money,” Oliver said. “They are treating more than 600,000 people right now like children.”

German Lopez at “Vox” has an excellent primer the problem of D.C. statehood with answers to 6 questions you were too disenfranchised to ask

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

David Cay Johntson: Flat wages show the US doesn’t have a labor market

Government action is required to correct imbalance in employer power

Another warning sign of our fragile economy popped up Friday in the latest quarterly employment-cost-index report, which measures the total cost of labor to employers. The index rose by one-fifth of 1 percent – the smallest increase since the data series was launched in 1982.

Without real growth in wages the economy cannot grow because the capacity of people to buy goods and services – what economists call aggregate demand – will remain flat.

This is a problem that we can fix, and there are three obvious ways to address it. But it requires the involvement of government, which makes the rules governing the market. If there is one thing that centuries of experience have taught, it is this: Whatever the rules, businesses adapt.

Dean Baker: Bernie Sanders, Open Borders and a Serious Route to Global Equality

Some progressives expressed dismay last week to discover that Bernie Sanders, the Vermont Senator and candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, doesn’t favor a policy of open immigration. While such a policy would undoubtedly allow billions of people in the developing world to improve their lives, there are not many people in the United States who relish the idea of the country’s population tripling or quadrupling over the next three or four decades.

It is hard to justify people in the United States living so much better and longer lives than people in places like Bangladesh or Burundi, just like it’s hard to justify the children of the rich and privileged in the United States living so much better and longer lives than their poorer counterparts, but there is not a plausible story where this inequality will be addressed by mass immigration. There are however more serious ways to think about addressing global inequality.

David Dayen: Don’t look now, but the TPP just hit a major snag

What once looked like a foregone conclusion now appears stalled by major policy disagreements. What’s next?

Since the passage of fast-track authority, the biggest obstacle to more corporate-written international trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) has not been unions or environmentalists or public health advocates. It’s been the calendar. And jostling by TPP member countries over domestic priorities may have just created such a calendar problem that we will not see a deal completed by the end of the Obama presidency.

Ministerial meetings in Maui last week were supposed to end in an agreement between the 12 nations negotiating TPP. But those talks broke up on Friday without a breakthrough. Officials played down the differences, claiming that anywhere from 90 to 98 percent of the details have been finalized. But the outstanding issues involve the basic building blocks of a trade agreement – specifically, what industries get tariff elimination and unfettered market access, and which remain protected. [..]

This is what happens when world leaders try to make deals they know their populations will detest. Apparently the last threads of democracy remaining are strong enough that, sooner or later, these same leaders must stand before their people and defend gutting regulations, selling out their sovereignty and benefiting multinational corporations instead of the public. It’s apparently hard to find a good time to do that.

Jeb Lund: The secret to gaffe-free Republican debates: limit their speaking time

How often in politics do your problems get to seem like virtues? After months of hang-wringing over whether the crowded Republican field would lead to debates as messy and unintelligible as a bachelor party at a chain restaurant, the party’s first crack at it turned out to be surprisingly polished. And while the New Hampshire “Voters First” forum’s structure was not identical to a debate, it showed that limited time and tight structure can, barring a Trump-sized implosion mid-stage, give every candidate a chance to look good. [..]

The rewards to this kind of structure are obvious: even if it’s hard to elaborate on your thoughts, it’s almost harder to make a fool of yourself. Candidates only need to memorize the maybe 20 paragraphs of policy planks they have on maybe 20 major issues (and they should have done that by now, just by virtue of repeating their stump speeches, which are often repurposed versions of their book chapters), then pivot back to them after any question touches on one of those topics.

Adam Lee: There’s a silver lining in the religious right’s onslaught of discrimination

The American religious right is more determined than ever to discriminate – and that may be a good thing. It means that the privileged can no longer overlook the impact of prejudice. They no longer have the luxury of overlooking it or dismissing it as something that’s none of their concern. [..]

It’s human nature to not care about injustices that don’t directly affect you. When it’s only same-sex couples, for example, who face rejection at the county clerk’s office, it’s easy for straight people to ignore their plight. When it’s only women who are denied access to standard and necessary reproductive healthcare, it’s easy for men to dismiss it as not their problem. But when members of the majority feel the sting of unfair deprivation for themselves, they’ll gain a more intimate perspective on how prejudice hurts – and, we can hope, they’ll be more willing to support democratic means to abolish it and to create a fairer society for everyone. Ideally, of course, people would be willing to do the right thing just from hearing about the mistreatment of others, even without experiencing it personally, but this comes in a close second.

Too often, religion is thought of as a purely benevolent and positive force, despite the role it has played in justifying harmful prejudice and the ongoing denial of equal rights. But these hardball massive-resistance tactics, this stubborn desire to enforce their will despite the collateral costs, brings people face to face with the anti-human side of religious morality in a way that’s a lot harder to overlook. Atheists have long made this criticism, but ironically, it’s the religious conservatives themselves who are lending it greater weight and force.

The Breakfast Club (Dream a Little Dream)

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

Nazi police arrest Anne Frank and family; Britain declares war on Germany in World War I; Three civil rights workers found slain in Mississippi; The Bordens axed to death; Jazz great Louis Armstrong born.

Breakfast Tunes

Something to Think about over Coffee Prozac

How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.

Anne Frank

On This Day In History August 4

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

August 4 is the 216th day of the year (217th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 149 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1964, the remains of three civil rights workers whose disappearance on June 21 garnered national attention are found buried in an earthen dam near Philadelphia, Mississippi. Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman, both white New Yorkers, had traveled to heavily segregated Mississippi in 1964 to help organize civil rights efforts on behalf of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE). The third man, James Chaney, was a local African American man who had joined CORE in 1963. The disappearance of the three young men led to a massive FBI investigation that was code-named MIBURN, for “Mississippi Burning.”

On Junr 20, Schwerner returned from a civil rights training session in Ohio with 21-year-old James Chaney and 20-year-old Andrew Goodman, a new recruit to CORE. The next day–June 21–the three went to investigate the burning of the church in Neshoba. While attempting to drive back to Meridian, they were stopped by Neshoba County Deputy Sheriff Cecil Price just inside the city limits of Philadelphia, the county seat. Price, a member of the KKK who had been looking out for Schwerner or other civil rights workers, threw them in the Neshoba County jail, allegedly under suspicion for church arson.

After seven hours in jail, during which the men were not allowed to make a phone call, Price released them on bail. After escorting them out of town, the deputy returned to Philadelphia to drop off an accompanying Philadelphia police officer. As soon as he was alone, he raced down the highway in pursuit of the three civil rights workers. He caught the men just inside county limits and loaded them into his car. Two other cars pulled up filled with Klansmen who had been alerted by Price of the capture of the CORE workers, and the three cars drove down an unmarked dirt road called Rock Cut Road. Schwerner, Goodman, and Chaney were shot to death and their bodies buried in an earthen dam a few miles from the Mt. Zion Methodist Church.

The Daily/Nightly Show (Yes Sensei!)


We will play in Spades

This week’s guests-

Thursday is of course Jon Stewart’s last episode as host.

I like Amy Schumer.

Yes Sensei!

Oh yeah, therapy and Oprah.  Well, I’m in therapy with a wonderful person who has made me much more positive and less confrontational unlike other bloggers I could name (Armando).

Actually I kind of like him but really, whining about hide rates?  Show a little dignity dude.  I am permanently and definitively banned, not by some auto hide rate system but by the personal action of Meteor Blades who had to break all the rules (rules?  Hah!) to do it.

Denise, you’re still a rapist apologist and Blade- you’re a disappointing sellout, a whore to corporatists and Plutocrats.

Yes, I feel MUCH better now.

Amy is in fact the cousin of Chuck who is probably as embarrassed as can be about the fact she’s perceived as the bluest female comic performing today.  Among the things she will be talking about is tighter gun control in the wake of the tragic shootings at her new film Trainwreck.

Oh, it’s not her best work.  In the end the damsel gets saved by a guy, rent Frozen instead.

Man Bites Dog

You stop being racist and I’ll stop talking about it.

Oh, and Dirk Benedict is a neighbor and he likes to be remembered for his role as ‘Face’.

Our panelists tonightly will be Julie Klausner, Rory Albanese, and Deon Cole.

The real news below.