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Jul 10 2013

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”.

Wednesday is Ladies’ Day.

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Katrina vanden Heuvel: Do We Have the Will to Fight for the Jobless?

Turmoil in Egypt. Edward Snowden’s travel plans. Immigration reform’s fortunes. Obamacare’s troubles. The Weiner-Spitzer return to politics. There’s no shortage of items absorbing political energy and media bandwidth. But simmering below all of this is a crisis that goes without the immediate attention it demands. Last Friday morning, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported yet another month of lackluster jobs numbers. While Washington has long since lost any sense of urgency regarding the jobs crisis, this is an issue that continues to poll at the top of Americans’ concerns.

Our economy is stuck at just over 2 percent growth, and the rate of productivity is worse than anemic. We have hit a point where an unemployment rate of 7.6 percent inspires cheers of “it could’ve been worse!” The result is a painful “new normal” for too many of our fellow Americans.

Few commentators even mention that most of the 195,000 jobs added last month, as well as the ones added in the last few years, are low-paying, temporary, part time and usually without benefits. Much of the job growth we have seen is in restaurant, retail and temporary work-the sort of jobs that rarely offer basic security, let alone a foothold for people to climb into the middle class.

Salamishah Tillet: Women at Point Zero in Tahrir Square

Last Wednesday, the world watched an increasingly familiar scene: Egyptian crowds gathering in Tahrir Square to demand social change. Once the army announced it had ousted President Mohamed Morsi, these same streets became host to victory celebrations for some, and violent conflict for others. For over ninety-one women who were sexually assaulted that night, Tahrir Square became what Egyptian women’s rights activist. Soraya Bahgat described as “a circle of hell.” [..]

But this recent wave of rape is part of another frightening reality: women’s bodies are also casualties of “freedom.”

Laura Murphy: Comey Hardly a Poster-Child for Civil Liberty

Comey is lionised in DC for one challenge over liberties. Yet he backed waterboarding, wire-tapping and indefinite detention

It had the air of Hollywood. On the night of 10 March 2004, James Comey, the nominee to lead the FBI for the next ten years, rushed to the hospital bedside of his terribly ill boss, Attorney General John Ashcroft. [..]

There’s one very big problem with describing Comey as some sort of civil libertarian: some facts suggest otherwise. While Comey deserves credit for stopping an illegal spying program in dramatic fashion, he also approved or defended some of the worst abuses of the Bush administration during his time as deputy attorney general. Those included torture, warrantless wiretapping, and indefinite detention.

Zoë Carpenter : Disaster in Quebec Reveals Regulatory Lapse

A debate about the relative merits of transporting crude oil by pipeline or by rail reignited over the weekend, after a runaway freight train carrying seventy-two cars of oil exploded and leveled Lac-Mégantic, Quebec.

The disaster exposed a significant lack of regulation governing the shipment of crude oil via rail, and raised questions about the continued use of old tanker cars known to be unsafe.

The volume of crude carried via trains has grown exponentially in recent years, as the amount of oil flowing from the Bakken formation in North Dakota and the oil sands in western Canada outstripped existing pipeline capacity. With new pipelines like Keystone XL caught up in the permitting process, freight rail infrastructure expanded to accommodate the glut of new oil with little oversight.

Bryce Covert: Men Want Work-Family Balance, and Policy Should Help Them Achieve It

Women don’t all yearn for the boardroom; some are instead focused on the rec room, Catherine Rampell reported in a front-page and much-discussed New York Times article yesterday. She paints a picture of harried women dying to get a little extra time away from the office to spend with their kids, focusing mostly on the story of Sara Uttech, a working mother in Fall River, Wisconsin. In Rampell’s piece, Uttech’s husband, and all husbands, appear just off frame. As Mary Elizabeth Williams wrote, “They are but a parenthetical, maybe an em dash.” Quite literally-men are mentioned as an aside, background noise in their children’s lives. When Uttech’s husband’s caregiving duties are mentioned, it is to say that the working mother “gets a lot of help: from her husband, Michael,” among other family members who pitch in. Fathers might as well be hired hands.

Rampell is not alone in assuming that mothers parent and dads baby-sit. The Census Bureau has made the same assumptions, calling mothers “designated parents” and counting the time fathers care for their kids as merely stepping in for said designated parent.

Auro Bogado: The Less-Than-Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill

Senator Chuck Schumer’s gamble that his fellow lawmakers would pass an immigration bill out of their chamber by the Fourth of July proved fruitful. The bill is now headed to the House-although it might not be, because that chamber isn’t entirely sure it even wants to debate it. But in the frenzy surrounding what’s been called a historic move, a lot has been lost around what the bill has actually become, and why so few voices on the left have accepted the bargain.

Just a few days before the bill’s passage, a coalition of immigrants rights and environmental advocacy groups made a big announcement in Tucson, Arizona, in opposition. Their reasons? The so-called comprehensive immigration bill is less comprehensive than it is punitive-doubling border agents to nearly 40,000, while adding more than 300 extra miles of fencing on the southern border, all in addition to billions of dollars for drones.