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Sep 24 2011

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”.

Katrina vanden Heuvel and Robert Borosage: Can a Movement Save the American Dream?

On October 3 activists from across the country will gather in Washington at the Take Back the American Dream conference, in the belief that only a citizens movement can save an American dream that grows ever more distant. In the face of a failed economy and a corrupted politics, the only hope for renewal is that citizens lead and politicians follow.

The modern American dream was inspired by a growing middle class that was the triumph of democracy after World War II. Its promise was and is opportunity: that hard work can earn a good life-a good job with decent pay and security, a home in a safe neighborhood, affordable healthcare, a secure retirement, a good education for the kids. The promise always exceeded the performance-especially with regard to racial and ethnic minorities, immigrants and women-and America never did as well as Europe in lifting the poor from misery. But a broad middle class and a broadly shared prosperity at least provided the possibility of a way up.

George Monbiot: A Billionaires’ Coup in the US

The debt deal will hurt the poorest Americans, convinced by Fox and the Tea Party to act against their own welfare

There are two ways of cutting a deficit: raising taxes or reducing spending. Raising taxes means taking money from the rich. Cutting spending means taking money from the poor. Not in all cases of course: some taxation is regressive; some state spending takes money from ordinary citizens and gives it to banks, arms companies, oil barons and farmers. But in most cases the state transfers wealth from rich to poor, while tax cuts shift it from poor to rich.

So the rich, in a nominal democracy, have a struggle on their hands. Somehow they must persuade the other 99% to vote against their own interests: to shrink the state, supporting spending cuts rather than tax rises. In the US they appear to be succeeding.

Matthew Rothschild: Citizens Rise Up Against “Citizens United”

I was speaking in Milwaukee the other night to a great group of peace activists, and in the question and answer period, we started talking about what could be done to change our foreign policy and bring about peace and social justice.

One thing I said we needed to do was to amend the Constitution to overturn the horrible Citizens United decision of 2010 that said corporations are persons, and corporations can spend unlimited funds to influence the outcome of an election.

I said we have no chance of having democracy in America so long as that decision stands, so I urged people to pass a resolution in their city or county to do just that, kind of like what we did during the Nuclear Freeze movement.

Little did I know that there were people in the audience who were already on the job. They’re trying to pass just such an initiative in West Allis, Wisconsin.

George Zornick: The Funding Standoff and the GOP’s Refusal to Learn From Hurricane Katrina

Sometime next week, the Federal Emergency Management Agency will officially run out of money if Congress doesn’t act. Unprecedented demands and gamesmanship by Republicans in the House of Representatives are threatening a funding bill for the agency, along with disaster relief for Americans affected by the recent hurricanes. Watching the spectacle unfold, it’s impossible not to marvel at short Republican memories-it wasn’t that long ago that playing politics with FEMA proved disastrous for the GOP.

By many accounts, the federal government’s failure to respond to Hurricane Katrina’s devastation of New Orleans was a turning point in George W. Bush’s presidency. His administration was shown to be incapable of even basic functions of government-helping desperate citizens in desperate need following a natural disaster. After they left the White House, several Bush aides acknowledged that this was the moment that the Bush presidency was irredeemably lost

Danah Boyd and Alice Marwick: Bullying as True Drama

THE suicide of Jamey Rodemeyer, the 14-year-old boy from western New York who killed himself last Sunday after being tormented by his classmates for being gay, is appalling. His story is a classic case of bullying: he was aggressively and repeatedly victimized. Horrific episodes like this have sparked conversations about cyberbullying and created immense pressure on regulators and educators to do something, anything, to make it stop. Yet in the rush to find a solution, adults are failing to recognize how their conversations about bullying are often misaligned with youth narratives. Adults need to start paying attention to the language of youth if they want antibullying interventions to succeed.

Jamey recognized that he was being bullied and asked explicitly for help, but this is not always the case. Many teenagers who are bullied can’t emotionally afford to identify as victims, and young people who bully others rarely see themselves as perpetrators. For a teenager to recognize herself or himself in the adult language of bullying carries social and psychological costs. It requires acknowledging oneself as either powerless or abusive.

Dana Goldstein: The Future of No Child Left Behind

This morning President Obama will announce that due to the intransigence of Congress, the administration is moving forward unilaterally to reform No Child Left Behind. In what is being referred to as the “waiver process,” the Department of Education will offer states the opportunity to ignore some of the law’s most absurd dictates-for example, that every single student be “proficient” in math and reading by 2014, regardless of whether a child is disabled or fluent in English-in exchange for embracing a narrower reform agenda.

The administration’s preferred reform strategies are no surprise, since they were also part of the earlier Race to the Top and School Improvement Grant programs. They include asking states to embrace the new Common Core curriculum standards in high school math and English; using student performance data-often standardized test scores-to evaluate teachers and principals; and overhauling underperforming schools by replacing the principal or significant portions of the teaching force. States will also have the option of closing schools down entirely and “restarting” them under different management, sometimes a charter school operator.