July 28, 2012 archive

On This Day In History July 28

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

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 28 is the 209th day of the year (210th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 156 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1868, following its ratification by the necessary three-quarters of U.S. states, the 14th Amendment, guaranteeing to African Americans citizenship and all its privileges, is officially adopted into the U.S. Constitution.


In the decades after its adoption, the equal protection clause was cited by a number of African American activists who argued that racial segregation denied them the equal protection of law. However, in 1896, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Plessy v. Ferguson that states could constitutionally provide segregated facilities for African Americans, so long as they were equal to those afforded white persons. The Plessy v. Ferguson decision, which announced federal toleration of the so-called “separate but equal” doctrine, was eventually used to justify segregating all public facilities, including railroad cars, restaurants, hospitals, and schools. However, “colored” facilities were never equal to their white counterparts, and African Americans suffered through decades of debilitating discrimination in the South and elsewhere. In 1954, Plessy v. Ferguson was finally struck down by the Supreme Court in its ruling in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka.

The Fourteenth Amendment (Amendment XIV) to the United States Constitution was adopted on July 29, 1868 as one of the Reconstruction Amendments.

Its Citizenship Clause provides a broad definition of citizenship that overruled the decision in Dred Scott v. Sandford (1857), which held that blacks could not be citizens of the United States.

Its Due Process Clause prohibits state and local governments from depriving people (individual and corporate) of life, liberty, or property without certain steps being taken. This clause has been used to make most of the Bill of Rights applicable to the states, as well as to recognize substantive rights and procedural rights.

Its Equal Protection Clause requires each state to provide equal protection under the law to all people within its jurisdiction. This clause later became the basis for Brown v. Board of Education (1954), the Supreme Court decision which precipitated the dismantling of racial segregation in the United States.

The there is that pertinent and pesky Article 4:

Section 4. The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any State shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.

Validity of public debt

Section 4 confirmed the legitimacy of all United States public debt appropriated by the Congress. It also confirmed that neither the United States nor any state would pay for the loss of slaves or debts that had been incurred by the Confederacy. For example, several English and French banks had lent money to the South during the war. In Perry v. United States (1935), the Supreme Court ruled that under Section 4 voiding a United States government bond “went beyond the congressional power.” Section 4 has been cited (during the debate in July of 2011 over whether to raise the U.S. debt ceiling) by some legal experts and Democratic members in the U.S. House Democratic caucus, as giving current President Barack Obama the authority to unilaterally raise the debt ceiling if the Congress does not appear to be able to pass an agreement by Tuesday, August 2, 2011. The White House Press Office and President Obama have said that it will not be resorted to, though Democratic members of the House that support the move are formally petitioning him to do so “for the sake of the country’s fiscal stability.” A final resolution to the crisis has not yet been decided upon.

Life after Jamie Dimon

Crossposted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Could this be accountability?

Management shuffle at JPMorgan


Published Friday, Jul. 27 2012, 12:37 PM EDT

JPMorgan Chase & Co. chief executive Jamie Dimon reshuffled managers just below him, signalling that the biggest U.S. bank is preparing for life after its famed boss.

The management moves will mean a number of senior positions are jointly held by two executives. Analysts said the shared responsibility is a response to the trading losses that came from the bank’s chief investment office.

This is at least the third management shakeup in three years for the bank, which has long faced questions about who would lead it after Mr. Dimon, 56, steps down. In a June 2011 shakeup, reporting lines were streamlined.

Maybe not so much.

Mr. Dimon has said he likes to move promising executives around to give them experience in different parts of the bank, a management philosophy popularized by General Electric Co. The moves were being lined up earlier this year, but were delayed when multibillion-dollar losses surfaced in a portfolio of credit derivatives, bank spokesman Joseph Evangelisti said.

Opening Ceremonies

Adapted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Of course every Olympics begin with the Opening Ceremonies in which the host nation showcases its culture, its history, and terrifying lockstep unity.

Our good buddy Mitt didn’t strap Rafalca to the roof of his Bain Capital Gulfstream to drop him off, he’s not even going to visit; but he did use his Salt Lake City cred to win the hearts and minds of his United Kingdom hosts.

David Cameron hits back at Mitt Romney over London 2012 doubts

Owen Gibson, Olympics editor, The Guardian

Thursday 26 July 2012

Romney said the fallout from the G4S security fiasco and a threatened strike by immigration officials were “disconcerting” and questioned whether British people would get behind the Games.

“Do they come together and celebrate the Olympic moment? And that’s something which we only find out once the Games actually begin. It is hard to know just how well it will turn out,” said Romney.

But Cameron, who was due to meet Romney later on Thursday, said: “In terms of people coming together, the torch relay demonstrated that this is not a London Games, this is not an England Games but this is a United Kingdom Games. We’ll show the world we’ve not only come together as a United Kingdom but are extremely good at welcoming people from across the world.”

Asked whether the Games and Danny Boyle’s opening ceremony, which will be watched by a predicted 1 billion people, offered an opportunity rebrand the country, Cameron said: “We don’t need to rebrand Britain. Britain has a great brand. I hope people will see all the things they like about Britain’s past, our history, our contributions to world development. But I also hope they will see a very open country and one that has an enormous amount to offer for the future.”

Olympic Games already have their share of controversies

By Shashank Bengali, McClatchy Newspapers

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Some 36,000 troops, police and hired contractors will stand guard at Olympic venues and on the streets of London and other cities. After the private security firm G4S acknowledged last week that it wouldn’t be able to furnish all of the 10,000 contractors it had agreed to, British officials called up additional service members to fill the gap.

The foul-up compounded what for many Londoners is beginning to seem like a long, costly summer, which began with a lavish diamond jubilee for Queen Elizabeth II and has coincided with ever bleaker economic news: The Office for National Statistics reported Wednesday that the economy had shrunk by 0.7 percent from April to June, a far worse contraction than had been forecast, deepening a double-dip recession that’s the severest in decades.

Meanwhile, the cost of staging the games has risen to several times the initial projection, exceeding even the infamous budget-busting standards of the 1996 Atlanta games. London’s now are expected to end up as the most expensive ever, at a cost of more than $14 billion.

Competition got under way Wednesday, but a women’s soccer match that involved Colombia and North Korea was delayed by an hour after North Korean players were introduced on a video with their faces next to the South Korean flag.

The BBC reported that the rather dramatic mix-up – the neighboring countries are still technically at war, having never signed a treaty after a cease-fire took effect in the 1950s Korean conflict – occurred at the studio that produced the pregame video. The Christian Science Monitor pronounced it perhaps the worst blunder by a host nation in the Olympics’ 116-year modern history.

No, that would be Cameron’s austerity policies.  Watch what happens when the Olympic stimulus is cut off.

The Myth of the American Dream

Crossposted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

(Joseph Stiglitz w/ Jon Stewart 7/25/12)

The Price of Inequality

Joseph E. Stiglitz, Project Syndicate

Jun. 5, 2012

America likes to think of itself as a land of opportunity, and others view it in much the same light. But, while we can all think of examples of Americans who rose to the top on their own, what really matters are the statistics: to what extent do an individual’s life chances depend on the income and education of his or her parents?

Nowadays, these numbers show that the American dream is a myth. There is less equality of opportunity in the United States today than there is in Europe – or, indeed, in any advanced industrial country for which there are data.

Part 1

A closer look at those at the top reveals a disproportionate role for rent-seeking: some have obtained their wealth by exercising monopoly power; others are CEOs who have taken advantage of deficiencies in corporate governance to extract for themselves an excessive share of corporate earnings; and still others have used political connections to benefit from government munificence – either excessively high prices for what the government buys (drugs), or excessively low prices for what the government sells (mineral rights).

Likewise, part of the wealth of those in finance comes from exploiting the poor, through predatory lending and abusive credit-card practices. Those at the top, in such cases, are enriched at the direct expense of those at the bottom.

It might not be so bad if there were even a grain of truth to trickle-down economics – the quaint notion that everyone benefits from enriching those at the top. But most Americans today are worse off – with lower real (inflation-adjusted) incomes – than they were in 1997, a decade and a half ago. All of the benefits of growth have gone to the top.

Defenders of America’s inequality argue that the poor and those in the middle shouldn’t complain. While they may be getting a smaller share of the pie than they did in the past, the pie is growing so much, thanks to the contributions of the rich and superrich, that the size of their slice is actually larger. The evidence, again, flatly contradicts this. Indeed, America grew far faster in the decades after World War II, when it was growing together, than it has since 1980, when it began growing apart.

Part 2

America is paying a high price for continuing in the opposite direction. Inequality leads to lower growth and less efficiency. Lack of opportunity means that its most valuable asset – its people – is not being fully used. Many at the bottom, or even in the middle, are not living up to their potential, because the rich, needing few public services and worried that a strong government might redistribute income, use their political influence to cut taxes and curtail government spending. This leads to underinvestment in infrastructure, education, and technology, impeding the engines of growth.

Part 3

America’s inequality is undermining its values and identity. With inequality reaching such extremes, it is not surprising that its effects are manifest in every public decision, from the conduct of monetary policy to budgetary allocations. America has become a country not “with justice for all,” but rather with favoritism for the rich and justice for those who can afford it – so evident in the foreclosure crisis, in which the big banks believed that they were too big not only to fail, but also to be held accountable.


Sports Chumpions

Popular Culture 20120727: John Alec Entwistle

I apologize for being absent last week.  I had a nasty cold and started on this very piece but just did not have the energy to finish it.

I am still doing background on the series about Jethro Tull, but and not ready to start writing the piece yet.  They were much more complicated insofar as the band lineup goes than most of the bands about which I have written, so it is taking some time.

Tonight we are going to look at who I consider to be the greatest rock and roll bass player who ever drew breath, Thunderfingers, aka The Ox.  But he was much more than a great bass player.  He was outstanding on brass instruments, and much of the early work by The Who has a lot of French horn in it.

He was also an accomplished songwriter and singer, and many of his songs were performed by The Who.  Songwriting is much more lucrative than merely performing, so he was always to get more of his songs on records.

Transgender in the Military

George Brown is a psychologist who served 12 years in the US Air Force and worked for 13 years in the Department of Veterans Affairs.  Back in 1988 he wrote a paper entitled Transsexuals in the Military: Flight into Hypermasculinity (pdf).  A copy of that paper was present in Bradley Manning’s housing unit, according to testimony at his Article 32 hearing.

To be a boy is to be macho, to have weapons, to be a fighter, and to  kill, at first in play, then maybe later in a war.  

–John Money,  1980

In that paper Brown speculated that male-to-female transgender enlist in the services as a way of “purging their feminine self”.

Current military policies, in association with the proposed hypermasculine phase of transsexual development, may actually result in a higher prevalence of transsexualism in the military than in the civilian population.

–Brown, 1988

Brown claims to have new research data to support that thesis.