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.
Katrina vanden Heuvel: Real Political Courage
In August of 1964, President Johnson went to Congress to ask for sweeping authority to conduct military action in Vietnam. The “Gulf of Tonkin Resolution,” as this authority was called, would give the president broad power to engage in a war of any size, for any length of time, without the need for a formal declaration of war from Congress. It was popular within Congress and throughout the country, and Johnson rightly expected it to pass without much opposition.
Out of that uncritical unity, Sen. Wayne Morse (D-Ore.) and Ernest Gruening (D-Alaska) rose to give a scathing and extraordinarily prescient critique of the resolution, and of our involvement in Vietnam. “Mr. President,” said Morse, on the Senate floor, “criticism has not prevented, and will not prevent, me from saying that, in my judgment, we cannot justify the shedding of American blood in that kind of war in southeast Asia. I do not believe that any number of American conventional forces in South Vietnam…can win a war, if the test of winning a war is establishing peace.” He called the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution “an undated declaration of war” and urged his colleagues to join him in opposing it.
Rania Khalek: For Sale: The Desperate States of America
While we have been frantically playing defense against relentless assaults on multiple fronts, from anti-union legislation to draconian anti-choice laws to the attempted privatization of Medicare, the selling off of public assets to the private sector has received little attention.
As states face a budget shortfall of $125 billion dollars for fiscal year 2012, leaders are searching for creative ways to fill budget gaps, while refusing to consider the one legitimate solution: forcing tax-dodging corporations and the rich to pay their fair share in taxes. Rather than upset the moneyed interests who bought their seats in office, politicians of all stripes prefer to cut pensions, close schools, slash child nutrition programs, and most importantly privatize, privatize, privatize!
Ten years ago, Congress adopted the No Child Left Behind legislation, mandating that all students must be proficient in reading or mathematics by 2014 or their school would be punished.
Teachers and principals have been fired and schools that were once fixtures in their community have been closed and replaced. In time, many of the new schools will close, too, unless they avoid enrolling low-performing students, like those who don’t read English or are homeless or have profound disabilities.
Educators know that 100 percent proficiency is impossible, given the enormous variation among students and the impact of family income on academic performance. Nevertheless, some politicians believe that the right combination of incentives and punishments will produce dramatic improvement. Anyone who objects to this utopian mandate, they maintain, is just making an excuse for low expectations and bad teachers.
Amy Goodman: Hope and Resistance in Honduras
While most in the United States were recognizing Memorial Day with a three-day weekend, the people of Honduras were engaged in a historic event: the return of President Manuel Zelaya, 23 months after being forced into exile at gunpoint in the first coup in Central America in a quarter-century. While he is no longer president, his peaceful return marks a resounding success for the opponents of the coup. Despite this, the post-coup government in Honduras, under President Porfirio “Pepe” Lobo, is becoming increasingly repressive, and is the subject this week of a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, signed by 87 members of the U.S. Congress, calling for suspension of aid to the Honduran military and police.
As the only U.S. journalist on Zelaya’s flight home, I asked him how he felt about his imminent return. “Full of hope and optimism,” he said. “Political action is possible instead of armaments. No to violence. No to military coups. Coups never more.”
Ruth Marcus: ‘Paul’ and ‘Barack’ talk Medicare
When it comes to Medicare, the one thing everyone agrees on is that it’s time for an “adult conversation.” So let’s listen in on two imaginary participants – “Paul” and “Barack.”
Disclaimer: This conversation is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to actual political figures is, unfortunately, purely coincidental.
Paul: Okay, you guys won the first round. Congratulations on that New York House seat. But “Medicare as we know it” can’t continue. Seniors now have little incentive to control costs, and providers, paid by the procedure, have every reason to ramp them up. Medicare costs were 8.5 percent of the federal budget in 1990 – they’ll be 17.4 percent by 2020.
Barack: The current system can’t go on. I wouldn’t say this publicly, but my party’s wrong to pretend it can. Still, your approach goes way too far. Seniors would get help to buy private insurance but would pay a lot more than they do now.
Maureen Dowd: Non Means Non
In Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris,” an American writer clambers into a yellow vintage Peugeot every night and is transported back to hobnob with Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Picasso, Dali, Toulouse-Lautrec and Gertrude Stein in the shimmering movable feast. The star-struck aspiring novelist from Pasadena, played by Owen Wilson, gets to escape his tiresome fiancée and instead talk war and sex with Papa Hemingway, who barks “Have you ever shot a charging lion?” “Who wants to fight?” and “You box?”
Many Frenchmen – not to mention foundering neighbor, the crepuscular Casanova Silvio Berlusconi – may be longing to see that Peugeot time machine come around a cobblestone corner.
Some may yearn to return to a time when manly aggression was celebrated rather than suspected, especially after waking up Tuesday to see the remarkable front page of Libération – photos of six prominent French women in politics with the headline “Marre des machos,” or “Sick of machos.”