09/16/2015 archive

Not Expecting Anything From Tonight’s GOP Debate

Tonight, starting at 6 PM EDT on CNN and round two at 8 PM EDT on the same cable channel, the GOP will present its second debate from the Ronald Reagan Library in Simi Valley, California. As before, the first debate will lead off with the lower ranking candidates in the polls. This time there are only four that didn’t make the cut for the main event, while eleven will now occupy the main stage. Former Hewlett Packard CEO, Carly Fiorina will join the boys club for this round.

This will mostly be an event to try to counter the bombastic rhetoric of the front runner, real estate mogul and performance artist Donald Trump. Mr. trumps unscripted screed has dominated the regular and cable news station, so much so that some high profile figures are calling them out on it. HBO’s “Real Time” host Bill Maher lambasted MSNBC’s  Chris Matthews on Matthews’ own show, “Hardball” for what Maher called non-stop coverage of Trump’s “rambling brainfarts”

When Matthews asked for his thoughts about how Trump could be pulling in the crowds and the poll numbers that he does, Maher’s said the reason was that when it comes to how much live coverage the media gives the plutocrat, MSNBC needs only to look in a mirror.

“Why cover it, like he’s Churchill giving an important speech? Have you listened to these speeches?” Maher asked. “Trump is always saying other countries are laughing at us. This is why they’re laughing at us, because of what he says and how we are taking it seriously.”

Maher also brought up Trump’s attacks on his rivals for using teleprompters, saying that though people have been responding to his speeches, Maher described them as “brain fart, stream of conscious ramblings.”

Matthews responded that network news keeps Trump on in order to see how long he’ll last, to which, Maher supposed Trump could go on repeating the same points forever.

“He’s already repeating his material. He says this stuff in every speech,” Maher said. He finished the conversation by acknowledging also how, whether Trump is giving speeches or taking questions, he either disregards evidence contrary to his views, or promises “something terrific.”

So what happened last night? Yes, they did it again when during Chris Hayes’ show, they cut to complete coverage of Trump’s alleged foreign policy speech, which was mercifully shorter than usual and had nothing to do with foreign policy. CNN’s Anderson Cooper, apparently fed up with Trump’s babbling, cut away:

Trump was speaking in broad terms about doing good things for the military and veterans. Now, normally whenever Trump’s speaking on TV, cable news can’t resist it. But it appears this speech may have been a final straw of sorts, as Cooper just cut into the speech and very blatantly said they were told there will be specifics.

He informed viewers if Trump started giving specifics, they would cut back to his remarks. They did not.

And it didn’t even end there. At various different points throughout the evening, Cooper made a point of highlighting how Trump gave no specifics, which apparently people were led to believe would be in this particular speech.

What is even more pathetic is former Politico writer Maggie Halberman, now writing with a New York Times by-line, trying to convince her readers that Trump has become a more “disciplined” candidate. Really??? My guess would be that Ms. Halberman hasn’t seen or heard Trump’s last two speeches.

I really hate dwelling on The Donald but he is a useful tool in the sense that he is showing the GOP for what it truly is: a racist, egocentric, party of old white men who care only about catering to the 1% who support them. No offense to Dr. Ben Carson, who is a very close second in the polls. While he maybe an excellent neurosurgeon and a innovator in his field of medicine, he is out of touch with the realities of the vast majority of black Americans. It sad that instead of being remembered for his greatness in the OR, he’ll be remembered for his clueless presidential run.

We will be live blogging this event. I will be removing all sharp and hard objects from the room lest I be tempted to throw one at my TV. I will also have a pitcher of very dry martinis and, just for The Donald, a large bowl of home made salsa and tortilla chips.

Dispatches From Hellpeckersville- At Loose Ends

I honestly don’t know what to do with myself. It’s bad enough that I’ve never had any driving ambition to actually be or accomplish anything “big.” Now that I have time on my hands I find myself both overwhelmed by some of the responsibilities I have, and at a loss for how to best use the time I’ve recently regained. I really should be cleaning and clearing out the house, and that’s happening in fits and starts, but did I mention overwhelming? Oh, on many levels.

I’m trying to take a step back, assess what’s important to me, what matters. Especially what I do online. Does it matter? I want to believe that it does. I want to think that the time I put into certain things counts for something. The  Snowden supporters facebook group I took on tests that belief more often than I would like. I think it’s important, I don’t want to walk away, but it is disheartening as hell to see the fan boy posts outnumber the privacy activist posts–to see the number of “likes” pile up on the 25th repost of the Snowden statue vs any given post on domestic spying or trying to restore our forth amendment rights. Or how many people join simply due to their rabid hate of government or Obama, misunderstanding core issues, what has been done, and what needs to be done. It’s frustrating as all hell, Edger threatened to walk away more than once, but now that he’s gone–well, I don’t think I can.

I’m trying to spend more time on art. I’ve done a few pieces I’m happy with. My well has run dry for the moment, so I am working with various media to color in other people’s work. I think it’s good. I’m learning new techniques, how to blend alcohol markers, how to use several different mediums on one piece, stuff like that. Until it fires up a spark of inspiration the color itself makes me happy, and it’s something I can do with a clipboard propped her in front of me while that group keeps me tethered to this computer. Although, I have to admit that I’ve been (and this may be somewhat irrational) spending every spare dollar I get trying to amass some quality supplies for that time down the road when there will be no spare dollars.

I’ve been cajoling the kids to spend time with me. Just get their butts off their computers and do something, anything else. Come color with me, I’ll let you use the good stuff. Let’s play a game, I have some good ones…but they don’t suffer this same yearning for time and meaning as I do. They have other interests now, the allure of that is too strong to set aside for one of mom’s whims. Time feels short for me, it stretches out endlessly before them, and may the Deity grant that be so. I will not browbeat them, but I will continue to invite.

This is about as close as I get to an existential crisis–which for me has always just boiled down to anything that makes one seek meaning or purpose. I don’t find my life completely bereft of either of those two things, I just feel like it’s inventory time. That’s a healthy thing, I think.

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.

Wednesday is Ladies’ Day.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

Katrina vanden Heuvel: Hawks Aren’t Giving the Iran Deal a Chance

Bellicose posturing too often ends up isolating the United States-and undermining our security.

The Iran nuclear agreement-characterized by The Washington Post‘s editorial board as the “most consequential US diplomatic agreement in decades”-will go forward, as all but four Senate Democrats rallied to fend off Republican efforts to torpedo it. The difficult and concrete achievement of diplomatic compromise has overcome the vacuous fantasies of military bluster. The question now is: What comes next?

Led by the early support of presidential candidates Hillary Clinton, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Martin O’Malley and pressured by grass-roots activists, Democrats in the House and Senate lined up to defend the agreement (with a notable exception of Senator Charles Schumer of New York, who aspires to lead the very caucus he abandoned).

But now, opponents and supporters threaten to hamstring it at birth. Instead of building on the agreement to explore new areas of cooperation, the administration and its critics are pivoting quickly to threatening Iran in anticipation of it cheating on the agreement. While the agreement calls for lifting multilateral sanctions focused on foreign companies, most US sanctions against Iran will remain in place. The administration and senators of both parties are now proposing new sanctions and military maneuvers to ratchet up the pressure on Iran. Not surprisingly, that has precipitated a harsh reaction from Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. This could quickly snatch defeat from the hands of victory, foreclosing any broader transformation of US-Iranian relations and locking the United States into a continuation of its failed Middle East strategy.

Bianca Jagger: President Obama’s Mortal Sin

President Obama’s approval of Shell’s Arctic oil drilling has tarnished his environmental legacy.

President Obama is the first incumbent US President to cross the Arctic Circle. The purpose of his expedition was to “witness first-hand the impact of climate change on the region” and to announce new measures to address it. Speaking at the Glacier climate summit in Anchorage Obama recognised the role of the US “in creating this problem.” He also stated “we embrace our responsibility to help solve it” because failure to do so will “condemn our children to a planet beyond their capacity to repair.” Yet less than one month ago his administration gave the green light to Shell to drill for oil in the Arctic.

President Obama must know that it is impossible to protect the Arctic while allowing Shell to drill for oil 70 miles off the coast of Alaska. He cannot have it both ways. His policies and proclamations are irreconcilable.

Phyllis Bennis: What America Owes the Refugees Pouring Into Europe

Here’s how the U.S. can leverage its wealth, safety, and diplomacy to serve the refugees it helped to create.

The vision of hundreds of thousands of desperate human beings fleeing airstrikes, terror, and violence from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and beyond has brought the stark human cost of today’s “anti-terror” wars to the front pages. The heart-breaking photo of one small boy, still clad in a “red shirt, blue jeans, and little sneakers,” as a now-viral poem goes, washed up on the Turkish shore, has brought the horror of that stark reality into our hearts.

Indeed, the refugee crisis growing out of the multi-faceted Syrian war and others is now a full-blown global emergency. It’s not only an emergency because it’s now reaching Europe. It’s an emergency several years in the making as conditions have deteriorated throughout the Middle East and North Africa. In addition to Syria, refugees are also pouring into Europe – or dying as they try – from Libya, Afghanistan, Eritrea, Bangladesh, and beyond.

But it’s the war in Syria – now involving a host of regional, sectarian, and global actors all fighting their own wars to the last Syrian – that lies at the bloody center of the current crisis. And here the United States bears no small responsibility.

Jessica Valenti: Many shootings are not called by their proper name: domestic violence

A shooting this week in Mississippi – where a teacher at Delta State University allegedly shot and killed his live-in partner and another professor – has been called a shooting spree and a “love triangle”. What we haven’t really heard it called, however, is perhaps the most important descriptor: domestic violence.

Shannon Lamb, the alleged killer, is believed to have killed Amy Prentiss, the woman he lived with, and a colleague, professor Ethan Schmidt. Lamb was later found dead, apparently from a self-inflicted gun wound.

No matter what police eventually determine that the motive was, this is domestic violence. And until we start talking seriously about the intersection of gun violence and intimate partner violence, we will continue to watch as murders – many of them preventable – are perpetrated again and again.

Jess Zimmerman: What if the mega-rich just want rocket ships to escape the Earth they destroy?

The early capitalists once had to breathe the air that they polluted in pursuit of their wealth. Now, perhaps, they can escape it by leaving the planet

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is the latest tech billionaire to invest his money in spaceships: on Tuesday, he debuted his space travel company Blue Origin’s newest rocket. Now, those who want to cruise the galaxy can choose between the sleek new rocket and the stubbier model Bezos announced in April – or they can opt to ride with Tesla founder Elon Musk on a SpaceX ship, or hop on Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic.

At this rate, would-be space travelers will be able to choose their favorite tech company, find its richest guy and buy a ticket on his craft of choice. Why does everyone who achieves economic dominance over the planet immediately turn around and try to get off it?

Katie Halper: Are Colbert’s New Politics Softer, or Just More Subtle?

A political comedian reviews the first of the new Late Show.

It was a no-brainer that Stephen Colbert as The Late Show host would be less politically edgy or hard hitting than he was on The Colbert Report. After all, The Colbert Report was arguably the most relentlessly, fiercely political, and, dare I say, partisan (in a good way) television show ever. Because Colbert never broke character, nearly every sentence he uttered was a political statement in which he simultaneously mocked right-wing values, or lack thereof, and implicitly advanced his own humanism and progressive political orientation. As Colbert explained in his Late Show debut, “I used to play a narcissistic conservative pundit-now I’m just a narcissist.”

But it’s not just that he’s taken off the character mask. Colbert has gone from cable to a major network. Cable is always less restricting than network television, but on top of that, Comedy Central, a channel dedicated exclusively to, well, comedy, is especially irreverent. Strong political opinions aren’t as tolerated on network television, which is why NBC (the network) has MSNBC (the cable channel) and Fox (the network) has Fox News (the cable channel). (I’m in no way equating MSNBC and Fox News, by the way-Fox News is a lot further from the center and from the facts than its so-called liberal counterpart.)

So, given these limitations, how did Stephen Colbert as political critic fare this past week? As expected, the first week of the show revealed a more politically restrained Colbert, and even some clichéd bipartisan statements and gestures. But given the new context, he managed to keep the show’s politics fairly pointed. And maybe, just maybe, his more bipartisan tone will prove to be a strategic way for him to deliver his more politically daring messages. A girl can dream.

The Breakfast Club (Rock Me Baby)

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

Vietnam War deserters and draft evaders receive conditional amnesty; Palestinian refugees massacred in Lebanon; Mexico pushes for independence; Opera star Maria Callas dies; Blues great B.B. King born.

Breakfast Tunes

Something to Think about over Coffee Prozac

You have to learn the rules of the game. And then you have to play better than anyone else.

Albert Einstein

On This Day In History September 16

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.

September 16 is the 259th day of the year (260th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 106 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1932, in his cell at Yerovda Jail near Bombay, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi begins a hunger strike in protest of the British government’s decision to separate India’s electoral system by caste.A leader in the Indian campaign for home rule, Gandhi worked all his life to spread his own brand of passive resistance across India and the world. By 1920, his concept of Satyagraha (or “insistence upon truth”) had made Gandhi an enormously influential figure for millions of followers. Jailed by the British government from 1922-24, he withdrew from political action for a time during the 1920s but in 1930 returned with a new civil disobedience campaign. This landed Gandhi in prison again, but only briefly, as the British made concessions to his demands and invited him to represent the Indian National Congress Party at a round-table conference in London.

In 1932, through the campaigning of the Dalit leader B. R. Ambedkar, the government granted untouchables separate electorates under the new constitution. In protest, Gandhi embarked on a six-day fast in September 1932. The resulting public outcry successfully forced the government to adopt a more equitable arrangement via negotiations mediated by the Dalit cricketer turned political leader Palwankar Baloo. This was the start of a new campaign by Gandhi to improve the lives of the untouchables, whom he named Harijans, the children of God.

The Daily Late Nightly Show (iGarbage)

Hmm.  I didn’t really expect CBS to be as forthcoming as Comedy Central and they’re not.

Or perhaps I just don’t understand the new system well enough, do you really want to see Justice Breyer again?  I thought not.  Tonight’s guests are Jake Gyllenhaal, Tim Cook, Run The Jewels, and TV On The Radio (direct fron CBS, I don’t believe it either).

Let me explain my relationship with Apple.  I was an early adopter back in the days when the archtecture was open, the firmware code with BIOS entry points free and documented, and Romar ][s roamed the earth with a massively fast 1.5Mhz 6502 with 48K and could be coupled with an impressive 2Mhz Z80 for your CP/M satisfaction (not at the same time of course, are you crazy?  Good enough that you don’t have to buy a separate keyboard and monitor).  I still have a licensed Applesoft Basic Compiler and an Apple 2c lightly used in box.

Who would have thought the big blue giant of corporate proprietary computing would manage to do something good for a change and provide us with the open cheap systems we need instead of the over priced chic crap that didn’t really start in a garage in Los Altos anyway.

Yes, I’m sorry Steve Jobs is dead despite the fact he was a thoroughgoing asshole of middling intellect.  I have no sympathy at all for his company which is a collection of fashion obsessed Wall St. ripoff artists who haven’t had a genuinely new idea since they looked at an S-100 Bus and said “why do we need all those wires?”

I mean c’mon.  You can do everything you need in 64K can’t you?  Lunar Lander is an exact model of the code we actually used to put a guy on the Moon and that runs in a 1K calculator.  The problem is that we’re too geeky to be cool.

We need to fix that.

So now you can have a Dick Tracy watch with a Hermes price tag.  I hope you think your life is improving, there are children in Africa who don’t have basic cable, ice cubes, and microwaves you lucky dogs.

The New Continutity

Keeping it Oathy

Tonightly the topic is ‘The War On Cops’.  Our panel is Salman Rushdie, Chloe Hilliard, and Jordan Carlos.