“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.
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Mike Scotti: The V.A.’s Shameful Betrayal
THE Department of Veterans Affairs, already under enormous strain from the aging of the Vietnam generation, the end of the Iraq war and the continuing return of combat troops from Afghanistan, announced in April that it would increase its mental health staff by about 10 percent. But too many veterans waging a lonely and emotional struggle to resume a normal life continue to find the agency a source of disappointment rather than healing. [..]
What this generation of veterans needs from the V.A. is a recognition that when the color of life has faded to gray, you need to talk to someone about it today, not weeks or months from now. We need America to acknowledge what war does to the young men and women who fight it and to share the message that dragged me out of the darkness: It’s O.K. if you’re not O.K.
Robert Reich: Memorial Day Thoughts on National Defense Spending
We can best honor those who have given their lives for this nation in combat by making sure our military might is proportional to what America needs. [..]
At a time when Medicare, Medicaid, and non-defense discretionary spending (including most programs for the poor, as well as infrastructure and basic R&D) are in serious jeopardy, Obama and the Democrats should be calling for even more defense cuts.
A reasonable and rational defense budget would be a fitting memorial to those who have given their lives so we may remain free.
Quick quiz: What’s a good five-letter description of Chris Christie, the Republican governor of New Jersey, that ends in “y”?
The obvious choice is, of course, “bully.” But as a recent debate over the state’s budget reveals, “phony” is an equally valid answer. And as Mr. Christie goes, so goes his party.
Until now the attack of the fiscal phonies has been mainly a national rather than a state issue, with Paul Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget Committee, as the prime example. As regular readers of this column know, Mr. Ryan has somehow acquired a reputation as a stern fiscal hawk despite offering budget proposals that, far from being focused on deficit reduction, are mainly about cutting taxes for the rich while slashing aid to the poor and unlucky. In fact, once you strip out Mr. Ryan’s “magic asterisks” – claims that he will somehow increase revenues and cut spending in ways that he refuses to specify – what you’re left with are plans that would increase, not reduce, federal debt.
In almost every report on the social movement now sweeping Quebec, including my own, words like conflict, crisis and stand-off figure prominently. Anger is omnipresent. The anger of protesters, the anger of government, the anger of those supposedly inconvenienced. Pundits scream about mob rule, anarchy in the streets and the dissolution of society as we know it.
Don’t get me wrong, there is anger present of course. But that is not what you see if you take to the streets, or watch on CUTV’s live stream. Pundits can’t stop bemoaning the inconvenience to “ordinary” Montrealers posed by these protests. But I wonder, are there any “ordinary” Montrealers left to inconvenience?
Glen Ford: Obama’s War: Criminalize the Left
Like no other president in modern times, Barack Obama is determined to criminalize the Left opposition through relentless reshaping of Constitutional notions of law. Whistleblowers are domestic public enemy number one. “Having knowledge of government wrongdoing is criminal, in the eyes of this administration.”
The Obama administration is methodically erecting the legal structures of a police state. The president late last year smoothed the way for bipartisan passage through Congress of a preventive detention bill that is so vaguely worded, a federal judge in New York last week ruled that it is likely to be successfully challenged on Constitutional grounds. And in Richmond, Virginia, a three-judge appeals court heard Justice Department lawyers argue that reporters can be compelled to reveal the identities of whistleblowers in so-called national security cases.
A new black political class has arisen, one with only nominal connections to black voters or communities Their careers and orientation are corporate through and through. Some prominent black Democrats have actually been operatives of the hard right for decades, like Newark’s Corey Booker.
On the first weekend in May, Newark mayor Corey Booker appeared alongside Fox News host Juan Williams and ultra-conservative Republican governors Chris Christie of New Jersey and Bobby Jindal of Louisiana to sing the praises of charters and school privatization, and the evils of organized teacher and parent power at the annual conference of the Alliance for School Choice.. It’s not a big step for Corey Booker, it’s the place he’s been all along, since his first late 1990s gig as a founding board member of the Bradley Foundation’s Black Alliance for Educational Options. What’s new is that in 2012 black Democrats with national profiles like Booker can appear in public spouting pro-corporate right wing dogma alongside such creatures, and hardly anyone notices. What has happened to Democratic party politics, to black politics?