09/22/2015 archive

Hillary Announces Opposition to Keystone XL Pipelime

Last week Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton put the White House on notice that she could not wait much longer to take a stand about building the Keystone XL pipeline. The wait is over. At an Iowa event Secretary Clinton let her view be known.

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Her fellow candidate, Sen. Bernie Sanders, who has opposed the pipeline since its inception, was “glad that Secretary Clinton finally has made a decision,” and welcomed “her opposition to the pipeline.”

While it’s disappointing she didn’t do this while she was Secretary of State, she did explain her reasons for opposing it now

“I was in a unique position as secretary of state at the start of this process, and not wanting to interfere with ongoing decision making that the President and Secretary (of State John) Kerry have to do in order to make whatever final decisions they need,” Clinton said. “So I thought this would be decided by now, and therefore I could tell you whether I agree or disagree, but it hasn’t been decided, and I feel now I’ve got a responsibility to you and voters who ask me about this.”

Considering the non-stop media coverage of Pope Francis’ arrival in Washington, DC, this will most likely be pretty much ignored by the news media.  

Dead Pigs and Prime Ministers

Skull and Bones.

David Cameron, a pig’s head and a secret society at Oxford University – explained

by Nadia Khomami, The Guardian

Monday 21 September 2015 09.29 EDT

What have we learned about David Cameron today?

An unofficial biography of David Cameron written by the Conservative donor Lord Ashcroft contains a series of allegations. They include that the prime minister spent time in a drug-taking environment at university, that he took part in a bizarre dinner club initiation ritual, and another claim about Cameron’s knowledge of the peer’s offshore tax status.

One specific allegation is that, in the words of the Daily Mail, Cameron took part in an initiation ceremony in which he “put a private part of his anatomy” into a dead pig’s mouth. It cites a source – a current MP – who claims to have seen photographic evidence. It allegedly took place at a notorious Oxford University drinking club, the Piers Gaveston Society.

What is the Piers Gaveston Society?

“Piers Gav” is highly exclusive, made up of a self-selecting group of 12 undergraduates. The men-only club, named after the alleged male lover of Edward II, king of England from 1307 to 1327, was founded in 1977 and carries the motto: “Fane non memini ne audisse unum alterum ita dilixisse.” It translates to:

Truly, none remember hearing of a man enjoying another so much.

What do people say about it?

Valentine Guinness, one of the founders of the society, once told the journalist Toby Young that the appearance of Piers Gav and other similar societies in the 70s “was a conscious effort to say, look, you know, the country may be in a mess but we’re still going to have a good time”.

And so they do. For its summer ball, members each invite 20 guests – preferably more women than men, who were last year given 72 hours’ notice, when they were told to turn up for a hired coach that would drive them to an undisclosed destination in the countryside. “Cross-dressing is as likely to feature as speed-laced jelly,” says the Telegraph of these parties. “The rules are simple – there are none.”

What’s the difference between Piers Gaveston and the Bullingdon Club?

The Bullingdon Club is the other drinking society Cameron was known to be a member of. Most of the sonorous members of the Bullingdon are old Etonians. The prime minister was one such member, as were the London mayor, Boris Johnson and the chancellor, George Osborne.

They wore a bespoke uniform of tailcoats, waistcoats and bow ties, which could cost thousands of pounds, making membership difficult for ordinary students. One MP who was once asked to join the club said he walked out of a gathering in disgust. “What it basically involved was getting drunk and standing on restaurant tables, shouting about ‘f***ing plebs’. It was all about despising poor people,” he told the Daily Mail of the scene reminiscent of film The Riot Club, based on Laura Wade’s play Posh.

So, there are a couple of reasons why otherwise sensible and well raised people do these kind of embarrassing and horrific things.

The first is that they’re so drunk, stoned, or both that it seems like a good idea at the time.

A more powerful reason is that hazing rituals are frequently used to promote what we called in my club “Bonding Experiences.”

“Hah.  Remember when we wacked Bruno and it was raining and Fat Tony slipped and fell in the grave so Vito thought it would be funny to shovel some dirt on him?  Ah, good times.”

In truth shared events increase unit cohesiveness, either in enforcing a sense of superiority and dominance or in leveling class differences between leaders and the led.

Here’s a true story.  I was visiting a local as capo di tutti and they had just succeeded in a task for which the promised reward was they could pick someone to kiss a pig.  A live one that they had somehow smuggled into the ballroom of the hotel they met at.  I was of course a “lucky” nominee and, because I understood my responsibilities as a motivator, I was fully prepared, if not very comfortable with the concept, to kiss that pig.  In this instance the local capo was the target and he very gracefully acknowledged the accomplishment of his team.

But as I said, this type of group reinforcement can easily lead to feelings of entitlement and exclusivity.  That’s why the more drastic and formalized versions practiced by many upper classes, including our own, have a tendency to get more severe as those who have had to suffer humiliation to gain admittance consider it their privilege to not only continue, but increase it.

The Greatest Threat to World Peace: The USA

Noam Chomsky: The United States, Not Iran, Poses Greatest Threat to World Peace

In a speech Saturday at The New School in New York, Noam Chomsky explained why he believes the U.S. poses the greatest threat to world peace. “[The United States] is a rogue state, indifferent to international law and conventions, entitled to resort to violence at will. … Take, for example, the Clinton doctrine-namely, the United States is free to resort to unilateral use of military power, even for such purposes as to ensure uninhibited access to key markets, energy supplies and strategic resources-let alone security or alleged humanitarian concerns. And adherence to this doctrine is very well confirmed and practiced, as need hardly be discussed among people willing to look at the facts of current history.” Chomsky also explained why he believes the U.S. and its closest allies, namely Saudi Arabia and Israel, are undermining prospects for peace in the Middle East. “When we say the international community opposes Iran’s policies or the international community does some other thing, that means the United States and anybody else who happens to be going along with it.”

Transcript can be read here

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

Dean Baker: Will President Obama Stand up to the Drug Thugs?

It takes a lot of courage to defy the folks who make tens of billions a year selling drugs. We will find out soon whether President Obama has the backbone to stand up to Merck, Pfizer, and the other major drug companies in order to protect the health and lives of hundreds of millions of people living in the world’s poorest countries.

The immediate issue is an extension of the period until the poorest countries must adopt U.S.-type patent protections for drugs under the World Trade Organizations (WTO) rules. In 1994, the Clinton administration inserted the trade-related trade aspects of intellectual property rights, or TRIPS, provisions into the agreement that established the WTO. The TRIPS provisions effectively required all WTO members to adopt U.S.-type patent and copyright laws. [..]

The reality is that patent monopolies are a relic of the feudal guild system. They are poorly suited as a mechanism to finance research in a 21st-century economy. If it were not for the enormous political power of the drug industry we would be looking at developing modern alternatives.

It may be too much to expect President Obama to actually talk about reforming our mechanisms for subsidizing research, but it shouldn’t be too much to ask him to join the EU in supporting the indefinite extension for developing countries. It may not be as much fun as flying around the world with billionaires for charity, but it will do much more to help poor people.

Richard Eskow: “Sowers of Change”: The Pope Arrives At a Critical Moment

Pope Francis’ first visit to the United States begins with his arrival in Washington D.C. on Tuesday afternoon. From the nation’s capital he goes to its economic capital, New York City, before concluding his trip with a visit to the nation’s birthplace in Philadelphia.

That itinerary seems to suit the Pope’s message: that political institutions must respond to the needs of the people, that the economy is a tool for human betterment rather than an end in itself, and that it is just as possible to remake society today as it was when this country was founded.

You don’t have to agree with all of the Catholic Church’s doctrines to recognize that the Pope’s message has a timeliness and urgency. New data underscores his call to reduce economic inequality. The ongoing deaths of African Americans in police confrontations highlight his message of social justice. And the planet itself is in peril.

Mark Weibrot: Election offers no solution to Greece’s economic problems

European authorities have chosen to prolong Greek depression

What are we to make of Syriza’s victory in the Greek elections on Sunday? As in January, Syriza’s Alexis Tsipras will be able to form a parliamentary majority in coalition with the right-wing populist Independent Greeks party. On the other hand, they are now committed to implementing a harsh, deeply unpopular austerity program that even its advocates among the European authorities acknowledge will keep the Greek economy in depression through the end of this year and next.

Does this mean that the battle for Greece’s future is over, and that those who claimed that there was no alternative to prolonged depression, mass unemployment and a more unequal and frankly, uglier society have won?

There is no question that the European authorities – the European Central Bank, the European Commission and eurogroup of finance ministers (led by Germany) – and the International Monetary Fund have for now succeeded in imposing their will on Greece. On July 5, the vast majority of Greeks voted to reject their economic plan, including further austerity. But the ECB did something that perhaps no central bank had ever done: It forced a shutdown of the Greek banking system. This caused economic havoc that pushed the economy back into recession, and threated to prolong and deepen the depression that Greeks had already suffered for six years. This act of financial terrorism worked: Syriza made a U-turn following the referendum, accepting the European officials’ plan, and told the Greek people that there was no choice.

Eugene Robinson: Trump, Carson, Rand Paul and Other GOP Candidates Defy the Constitution with Anti-Muslim Bigotry

The founders of this nation recognized Islam as one of the world’s great faiths. Incredibly and disgracefully, much of today’s Republican Party disagrees.

Thomas Jefferson, whose well-worn copy of the Quran is in the Library of Congress, fought to ensure that the American concept of religious freedom encompassed Islam. John Adams wrote that Muhammad was a “sober inquirer after truth.” Benjamin Franklin asserted that even a Muslim missionary sent by “the Mufti of Constantinople” would find there was “a pulpit at his service” in this country.

Indeed, the Constitution states that “no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.” Some of the GOP candidates for president, however, simply do not care. [..]

On the campaign trail, GOP candidates are touting their own Christian faith in what can only be described as a literal attempt to be holier than thou. They should reread the Constitution, which says “no religious test”-not “only the religious test that I can pass.”

Jeb Lund: The Trump juggernaut took out Scott Walker. But he may live to run again

The experiment in seeing if Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker could be elected president, which began with energetic music and a decorated hall packed with supporters waving signs is over after only about 70 days. Walker held its eulogy in the sort of dismal hotel meeting room you see at conventions for dental certification in a new kind of gum gauze. [..]

But that final moment, in which he could have said anything he wanted, was as bereft of ideas as the campaign necessitating it. Walker began by citing Ronald Reagan’s optimism, ignoring that Reagan campaigned on optimism after the deserved negativity of the nation after Nixon’s resignation and the Church Committee. (Ignore, too, that Reagan campaigned on a rejection of Jimmy Carter’s call for the embrace of the values of work, anti-materialism and sacrifice, offering Americans instead a buy-now/pay-never consumptive celebration that a generation of Boomers embraced the moment they had to pay the bills for a safety net their parents built and for which everyone else has been paying for 35 years and counting. That’s Scott Walker’s lodestar.)

The Breakfast Club (Summer’s End)

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

Nathan Hale hanged in the American Revolution; Iraq invades Iran; President Gerald Ford faces a second assassination attempt in weeks; ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ hits Broadway; Songwriter Irving Berlin dies.

Breakfast Tunes

Something to Think about over Coffee Prozac

Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.

Dr. Seuss

The Breakfast Club (The Last Day of Summer)

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.

 photo 807561379_e6771a7c8e_zps7668d00e.jpg

This Day in History

Nathan Hale hanged in the American Revolution; Iraq invades Iran; President Gerald Ford faces a second assassination attempt in weeks; ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ hits Broadway; Songwriter Irving Berlin dies.

Breakfast Tunes

Something to Think about over Coffee Prozac

Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.

Dr. Seuss

On This Day In History September 22

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 22 is the 265th day of the year (266th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 100 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1862, President Abraham Lincoln issues a preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, which sets a date for the freedom of more than 3 million black slaves in the United States and recasts the Civil War as a fight against slavery.

When the Civil War broke out in 1861, shortly after Lincoln’s inauguration as America’s 16th president, he maintained that the war was about restoring the Union and not about slavery. He avoided issuing an anti-slavery proclamation immediately, despite the urgings of abolitionists and radical Republicans, as well as his personal belief that slavery was morally repugnant. Instead, Lincoln chose to move cautiously until he could gain wide support from the public for such a measure.

In July 1862, Lincoln informed his cabinet that he would issue an emancipation proclamation but that it would exempt the so-called border states, which had slaveholders but remained loyal to the Union. His cabinet persuaded him not to make the announcement until after a Union victory. Lincoln’s opportunity came following the Union win at the Battle of Antietam in September 1862. On September 22, the president announced that slaves in areas still in rebellion within 100 days would be free.

The Emancipation Proclamation consists of two executive orders issued by United States President Abraham Lincoln during the American Civil War. The first one, issued September 22, 1862, declared the freedom of all slaves in any state of the Confederate States of America  that did not return to Union control by January 1, 1863. The second order, issued January 1, 1863, named ten specific states where it would apply. Lincoln issued the Executive Order by his authority as “Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy” under Article II, section 2 of the United States Constitution.

The proclamation did not name the slave-holding border states of Kentucky, Missouri, Maryland, or Delaware, which had never declared a secession, and so it did not free any slaves there. The state of Tennessee had already mostly returned to Union control, so it also was not named and was exempted. Virginia was named, but exemptions were specified for the 48 counties that were in the process of forming West Virginia, as well as seven other named counties and two cities. Also specifically exempted were New Orleans and thirteen named parishes of Louisiana, all of which were also already mostly under Federal control at the time of the Proclamation.

The Emancipation Proclamation was criticized at the time for freeing only the slaves over which the Union had no power. Although most slaves were not freed immediately, the Proclamation did free thousands of slaves the day it went into effect in parts of nine of the ten states to which it applied (Texas being the exception). In every Confederate state (except Tennessee and Texas), the Proclamation went into immediate effect in Union-occupied areas and at least 20,000 slaves[2][3] were freed at once on January 1, 1863.

Additionally, the Proclamation provided the legal framework for the emancipation of nearly all four million slaves as the Union armies advanced, and committed the Union to ending slavery, which was a controversial decision even in the North. Hearing of the Proclamation, more slaves quickly escaped to Union lines as the Army units moved South. As the Union armies advanced through the Confederacy, thousands of slaves were freed each day until nearly all (approximately 4 million, according to the 1860 census) were freed by July 1865.

Near the end of the war, abolitionists were concerned that while the Proclamation had freed most slaves as a war measure, it had not made slavery illegal. Several former slave states had already passed legislation prohibiting slavery; however, in a few states, slavery continued to be legal, and to exist, until December 18, 1865, when the Thirteenth Amendment was enacted.

The Daily Late Nightly Show (More Bern!)

C’mon.  Feel the Bern.

I kind of agree with the person (can’t find the link now) who finds late night candidate interviews generally appalling but admitted that Sanders did the best that could be expected.  He got on, made his points, answered a few questions, smiled, shook hands, and left.

The guests tonight are Stephen Curry and Ted Cruz with musical guest Don Henley.

The New Continuity


Tonightly Larry’s guest is…

Wait for it…

Bernie Sanders!

The rest of it hardly matters, but the panelists are Robin Thede, Cipha Sounds, and The Game.

First of all- Bernie!, Bernie!, Bernie!  I’m sorely tempted to bag Stephen even though the first 30 minutes will probably be the only ones worth watching (I mean Ted “I’m much less entertaining than The Donald” Cruz?) but I’m going to follow my usual practice and cover Stephen which is only once and defer Larry who will repeat.