Last night, The Nation Institute hosted a debate between former congressman Brian Baird and Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) and moderated by The New York Times’s Roger Cohen about the UN-commissioned Goldstone Report, which documented alleged war crimes committed by both the Israeli military and Hamas forces during the 22-day long “Operation Cast Lead” conflict in Gaza in 2008.
At one point during the debate, Weiner began to say that the West Bank was more relatively prosperous than Gaza in part because there is no Israeli occupation there (although there is an enormous blockade). Cohen pointedly asked Weiner if he was really serious in claiming that Israel is not currently occupying the West Bank, which is the position of the international community and the United States. Weiner repeatedly insisted that there was no occupation there, even going as far as telling Cohen he agreed that there was “no IDF [Israeli Defense Forces] presence there”:
WEINER: You can see a difference in the development in the West Bank with 11 percent year over year growth, with no Israeli occupation there either, with increasing access to checkpoints —
COHEN: What about area C, D,
WEINER: Hold on, maybe this would be helpful
COHEN: No occupation in the West Bank, did I hear you right?
COHEN: Have you been to the West Bank lately?
COHEN: You didn’t see the IDF there?
WEINER: In Ramallah? No. In Nablus? No. Now can I tell ya there might be some people in this room who think Jerusalem is occupied.
COHEN: Well hold on a second there, let’s stick to the West Bank. You’re saying there is no IDF presence there?
It is simply false to say that the West Bank is not occupied and that there is no Israeli troop presence in the area. Both Nablus and Ramallah are the frequent subjects of Israeli military raids, and access to and from the cities is subject to Israeli control. Americans for Peace Now (APN) is a leading Middle East NGO that advocates for a peaceful two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. On its website, it has an interactive map of the Palestinian territories. The map lays out the presence of thousands of Israeli settlers in the West Bank, each of which is connected to eachother by Israeli-only roads guarded by numerous Israeli military battalions and many more checkpoints. In the following map, each blue house represents an Israeli settlement:
It would be surprising to the Palestinian population in the West Bank, which has been under a state of occupation for 44 years, to hear that it lives free of Israeli military presence. This certainly is what the people who live in the territory want. Recent polling has found that 74 percent of the Palestinian population endorses a two-state solution where both the Israelis and Palestinians can live free in two independent states safe from occupation and terrorism. Yet such a solution will never happen as long as American politicians like Weiner advocate for a foreign policy that endorses every move Israel takes and fails to condemn its abuses against the Palestinian population. (HT: Mondoweiss)
In a Wall Street Journal column today, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) rails against “massive salaries” the executives at NPR and PBS are “raking” in, and how cutting their subsidies would save taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars:
While executives at the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) and National Public Radio (NPR) are raking in massive salaries, the organizations are participating in an aggressive lobbying effort to prevent Congress from saving hundreds of millions of dollars each year by cutting their subsidies.
The salaries he finds so egregious? PBS President Paula Kerger earned $632,233, NPR former President Kevin Klose $1.2 million, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting CEO Patricia de Stacy Harrison earned $298,884, plus $70,630 in additional compensation. While those numbers are not exactly chump change, it’s pennies compared to the salaries of another industry the U.S. taxpayers subsidize at much higher cost — Big Oil.
While DeMint takes aim at the $451 million budget proposal for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Big Oil continues to rake in billions of dollars in taxpayer-funded subsidies — $4 billion of which his fellow Republicans voted to maintain a few days ago — while its CEOs report multi-million dollar pay packages. In 2009 alone, the CEOs of the big five oil companies made a combined $67.3 million dollars:
Unrest in the Middle East has driven oil prices to their highest level since 2008. While Americans are paying at the pump, Republicans continue to protect not millions but billions of dollars in subsidies to oil companies, even in the face of nearly trillion dollar profits. Additionally, when gas prices increase, so do Big Oil’s bottom line.
An NBC/WSJ poll on Wednesday found that 74 percent of voters support cutting subsidies to big oil, so to quote Jim DeMint’s attack on Public Broadcasting, “There’s no reason taxpayers need to subsidize them anymore.” I couldn’t agree more.
What about this chart says to you “Eurozone demand is too high, I need to tighten policy”?
Maybe you can see something in this chart to indicate that inflation is out of control in the Eurozone?
On some level, I think Europe is paying the price for France’s desire to have a Frenchman run the ECB. He’s acting like a cartoon version of a German inflation hawk. I can imagine an alternate universe in which a German runs the bank and finds himself bending over backwards to dispel suspicion that the Euro contraption is being run for the benefit of German bondholders and totally ignoring the welfare of the majority of Europe’s citizens.
I’m eagerly awaiting “guess I was wrong” posts from all the conservatives who wrote over the years that the university’s insistence that student programming conforming to its non-discrimination policy was just a rationalization.
Yesterday, before the House passed a measure to repeal the 1099 reporting requirement provision from the Affordable Care Act, Republicans took umbrage at the suggestion that they had mischaractarized the law as a “government takeover” of health care and forced Democrats to strike the accusation from the record. The tussle began after Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), incorrectly accused Rep. Dan Lungren (R-CA) of using the “takeover” rhetoric and therefore propagating what PolitiFact characterized as “the lie of 2010.”
Lungren however, didn’t use the phrase in the address that proceeded Blumenauer’s accusation and demanded that it be stricken from the record. It was and Blumenauer apologized, conceding that he likely misattributed the remark. Indeed, the phrase was used by Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) an hour earlier. Watch a compilation:
Despite Lungren’s outrage and Blumenauer’s mistake, Republicans routinely rely on the poll-tested phrase. But according to PolitiFact, “government takeover” conjures a European approach — “where the government owns the hospitals and the doctors are public employees — that does not reflect the reality of health reform. From the group:
- Employers will continue to provide health insurance to the majority of Americans through private insurance companies.
- Contrary to the claim, more people will get private health coverage. The law sets up “exchanges” where private insurers will compete to provide coverage to people who don’t have it.
- The government will not seize control of hospitals or nationalize doctors.
- The law does not include the public option, a government-run insurance plan that would have competed with private insurers.
- The law gives tax credits to people who have difficulty affording insurance, so they can buy their coverage from private providers on the exchange. But here too, the approach relies on a free market with regulations, not socialized medicine.
As for Lungren, a quick search of his website reveals that he uses the phrase repeatedly. In this press release from May 25, 2010, Lungren says, “Democrats in charge of Congress have pursued a partisan agenda, rather than addressing the concerns of the American people. Whether forcing a government takeover of health care, passing a National Energy Tax, stacking up record deficits, or ignoring our nation’s jobs crisis, the actions of this Congress have been against the will of the American people.”
Many of America’s most profitable companies, including GE, CitiGroup, and ExxonMobil, have successfully found ways to pay nothing in corporate income taxes. Last Saturday, ThinkProgress asked former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) if Bank of America, which paid nothing in corporate taxes in 2009, was paying its fair share. Pawlenty, who has called for drastic cuts in programs for the most vulnerable in society, repeatedly responded that corporate taxes are actually too high.
On Wednesday, ThinkProgress interviewed Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), co-chair of the House Progressive Caucus. Asked about Pawlenty’s comments on taxes, Ellison said, “in other words, he’s saying, we need to pay them, because that’s the only way we can do better for them, right?” He went on to critique Pawlenty’s stump speech, which now consists of a story about growing up in a working class family. In a scathing attack on Pawlenty’s phony populism, Ellison explained that with Pawlenty’s pro-corporate policies, he has “no connection” to the blue collar community his family grew up in. Pawlenty “doesn’t want to pay them right, he doesn’t want them to have drink clean water,” and he doesn’t really care if they can afford college, Ellison said:
FANG: I actually asked Zaid’s question. I asked, “Bank of America paid nothing in corporate income taxes in 2009. Is that fair? Are they paying their fair share?” And he told me that corporate income taxes are too high. And I repeated, they paid nothing, is that too high? And he said, they are too high.
ELLISON: In other words, he’s saying, we need to pay them because that’s the only way we can do better for them, right? Tim Pawlenty is one of these right-wing ideologues who has a vision of America that is completely inconsistent with the interests of the middle class. He is out there to make sure that the David Kochs of the world, you know, have it their way, right. And their vision has nothing to do with if you get a Pell grant, and their vision has nothing to do with, you know, they can get water purifiers at their private estates. They don’t need the EPA. [...]
ELLISON: He is operating on their behalf and he has drank the kool aid. And he’s going to get up there on the course of this presidential campaign and tell you all about how his father was a truck driver in south St. Paul. Well you know what, that was a long time ago. And he has no connection to that any more. And I would only imagine what he would do to the truck drivers of south St. Paul today. He doesn’t want to pay them right, he doesn’t want them to have drink clean water, he doesn’t want their kids going to college — they can go but he doesn’t want to pay for it — he doesn’t really care if they go or not. And so, this is the kind of world that Tim Pawlenty would create.
I think there’s no question that the most fruitful explorations of the superhero genre on-screen in recent years have come when movies explore what it would actually be like to live in a society with superheroes in it, from the regulatory regime of The Incredibles:
To the marketer-meets-superman schtick of Hancock:
To the history-altering impact of the Watchmen to the world-building and self-organization that’s happening in the Marvel Universe through the storyline kicked off by Iron Man:
So I think FX’s new show, Powers, is extremely promising. Rather than focusing on people with superpowers, the show will focus on the homicide detectives who deal with crimes inflected by the involvement of people with superpowers. It’s a smart, logical choice that builds out the worlds in which superheroes operate. We’ve always gotten sneak peeks of these people, whether they’re clothing superheroes like Edna Mole, or relocating them, like the Parrs’ handler in The Incredibles. I wasn’t surprised to hear that Joss Whedon was adding S.H.I.E.L.D.’s Maria Hill to The Avengers, not just because she’s a great, tough female character, but because she fills in the apparatus that would make it possible for superheroes to do their thing.
And the superhero bureaucracy is a great way to build a bridge between the audience and the heroes themselves. Most of us have acknowledged that we’re never going to get transformed by a spider bite or a sudden revelation of divine ancestry. But we can imagine what we might do if we met someone who was, or loved them, or worked with them. How cool would it be to do our jobs in a world where something extraordinary could happen? It’s a step closer to wish fulfillment.
At a pea-sized Lower East Side bistro known for its fries, the admonition is spelled out on a chalkboard: no ketchup. At a popular gastropub in the West Village, customers cannot have the burger with any cheese other than Roquefort. And at Murray’s Bagels in Greenwich Village and Chelsea, the morning crowd can order its bagels topped any number of ways but never — ever! — toasted.
What I don’t understand is why she sees this as some kind of ethical stance, a form of Puritanism. It just seems like specialization. In any line of business you face a tension between the fact that it’s more efficient to specialize but you have more customers if you customize.
David Chang explains it perfectly:
“People just assume that every restaurant should be for everyone — I could understand that if we were in a town with, like, 20 restaurants,” said David Chang, whose mini-empire of Momofuku restaurants is well known for refusing to make substitutions or provide vegetarian options. “Instead of trying to make a menu that’s for everyone, let’s make a menu that works best for what we want to do.”
Adam Smith observed a few hundred years ago that the division of labor is limited by the extent of the market. If we had cheap teleporters, the extent of the market would be vast and everything would be hyper-specialized. We don’t have teleporters, but Manhattan’s ultra-density is the next best thing so it’s no surprise there’s an unusually high level of specialization. I think that this, more than Ed Glaeser’s semi-mysterian account, is why denser metropolitan areas are more productive.
Having decided to detain Bradley Manning without trial in conditions likely to drive a man insane, it seems that at some point the US military had him stripped and left naked in his cell for seven hours on Wednesday. The good news is that his captors have a strong sense of Manning’s privacy rights:
“It would be inappropriate for me to explain it,” Lieutenant Villiard said. “I can confirm that it did happen, but I can’t explain it to you without violating the detainee’s privacy.”