Jan 23 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”.

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Katrina vanden Heuvel: Cuomo’s Clean Elections Choice

One of the last results from Election Day 2012 is also one of the sweetest. Running in a district gerrymandered by Republicans, grassroots candidate Cecilia Tkaczyk scored a stunning upset over millionaire Assemblyman George Amedore in a New York State Senate race. Even better, Tkaczyk-and the grassroots army that powered her to victory-did it by making campaign finance reform the signature issue in the race. Tkaczyk’s victory, achieved by a nineteen-vote margin following a recount that ended Friday, is a shot in the arm for progressives. It’s also a test for New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who’s counting on progressive votes in 2016. [..]

Over the past few months, Andrew Cuomo had the opportunity to help secure Democratic control of the state senate. But he passed, neither endorsing Democrats against Tea Partying opponents, nor lifting a finger when senators who were elected as Democrats moved to erect an alternative majority coalition with the Republicans (a result that’s neither Democratic nor small-“d” democratic).

Kara Dansky: Obama Must Tackle Criminal Justice Reform in His Second Term

President Obama is the first sitting president in recent history to speak out against criminal justice policies that hurt inner city and rural communities. This is a big deal.

With state budgets and vulnerable communities crippled by misguided criminal justice policies, the president is certainly right that the time for reform has come.

The myriad ways in which our criminal justice system is unwieldy, expensive, and damaging to vulnerable populations can be traced to one glaring issue: the U.S. has the world’s highest incarceration rate. With many of these people serving time for low-level, non-violent offenses, there is simply no justification for keeping such a large segment of our population behind bars. And of course most people affected by this national embarrassment are poor people and people of color.

Sarah van Gelder: Obama Inaugurates Renewed Energy on Climate Change

That the president put climate change so high on his second-term agenda surprised many. But action must follow words

President Barack Obama included a call to action on climate change in his inaugural speech on 21 January, surprising those who believed gun violence and immigration reform would take top billing. It’s not the first time he’s talked about the issue, by any means, but few thought he would return to it with such emphasis now.

During his 2008 campaign, he spoke of working for the moment when the rise of the oceans would begin to slow and our planet would begin to heal. During the 2012 election campaign, he was mocked for that statement.

But no one was laughing this fall when waves swept over lower Manhattan and towns up and down the eastern seaboard; nor this summer when much of the US midwest suffered from drought and brave firefighters battled unprecedented fires across the west. Obama spoke in Monday’s inaugural address of our responsibility to “preserve our planet”, recognizing that “the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations”.

Vandana Shiva: Our Violent Economy is Hurting Women

There is a connection between the growth of unjust economic policies and the intensification of crimes against women.

Violence against women is as old as patriarchy.

Traditional patriarchy has structured our worldviews and mindsets, our social and cultural worlds, on the basis of domination over women and the denial of their full humanity and right to equality. But it has intensified and become more pervasive in the recent past. It has taken on more brutal forms, like the murder of the Delhi gang rape victim and the recent suicide of a 17-year-old rape victim in Chandigarh.

In India, rape cases and cases of violence against women have increased over the years. The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) reported 10,068 rape cases in 1990, which increased to 16496 in 2000. With 24,206 cases in 2011, rape cases jumped to incredible increase of 873 percent from 1971 when NCRB started to record cases of rape. And Delhi has emerged as the rape capital  of India, accounting for 25 percent of cases.

Kaitlin Sopoci-Belknap : Move to Amend: Citizens United is Just the Tip of the Iceberg

It’s been three years since the Supreme Court issued its outrageous decision in Citizens United vs. FEC, overturning the flimsy campaign finance protections afforded under McCain-Feingold law. The case opened the floodgates to billions of dollars perverting our elections, much of it completely unreported, and some amount even coming from foreign corporations and governments. The Court literally legalized bribery, and wealthy individuals and special interests took full advantage of it.

As shameful as that decision is, we must confront the sobering reality that it is only the tip of the iceberg. A small ruling elite (often succinctly described as the 1%) have stolen control of the country, and they are ruling over us. They use the façade of elections to legitimize the theft. And even when decent legislation is enacted, they use the Courts to overturn those laws. Citizens United vs. FEC is merely a deepening of the crisis of corporate rule.

Betsy Reed: What Obama’s Inaugural Address Got Wrong About Poverty

Liberals seeking affirmation for their faith in President Obama believed they found it in his second Inaugural Address, with his passionate invocation of Stonewall and Seneca Falls, his soaring rhetoric about government “of, by and for the people” and an American creed forged “through blood drawn by lash, and blood drawn by sword.”]

But amidst the warm words for equality and collective action, one sentence stood out:

“We are true to our creed when a little girl born into the bleakest poverty knows that she has the same chance to succeed as anybody else because she is an American, she is free, and she is equal not just in the eyes of God but also in our own.”

However much we might like to imagine otherwise, a little girl born into the bleakest poverty will never have “the same chance to succeed as anybody else.” If you take a step back, could anything be more obvious? And yet this notion is so thoroughly woven into the “American creed” that we barely notice how misleading it is.