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Apr 24 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: Austerity doctrine is exposed as flimflam

The austerity claque got it wrong. And the harsh bill is being paid by millions of Americans and millions more in Europe in jobs lost, homes foreclosed, families split apart, hopes crushed.

They can’t repay the costs of their folly. We don’t really need an apology. But could they at least get out of the way so we could get on with the jobs programs that we should have undertaken years ago?

Austerity has been tried and found wanting in practice. Instead of expansion and growth, Europe has been driven back into recession. With Britain’s credit rating downgraded, its economy contracting, its unemployment rolls soaring, its debts rising, three years of rosy forecasts shredded, Tory Chancellor George Osborne’s tears at the lavish funeral for Margaret Thatcher may well have been for the burial of his own reputation. Britain is “playing with fire,” warned the International Monetary Fund’s chief economist, Olivier Blanchard, who told Sky News, “The danger of having no growth, or very little growth, for a long time, is very high. You get a number of vicious circles that come into play.”

Kathrine Stewart: The Rightwing Donors Who Fuel America’s Culture Wars

In general, US public opinion is trending liberal. Not that you’d know it from state legislatures bought by conservatives dollars

The laws and bills emerging from many of America’s statehouses are farther to the right than they’ve ever been. But the population overall continues to trend moderately leftward. How to explain this growing divergence between the government and the people?

Mostly, it’s about the money. [..]

In recent years, the relative impact of money on our political system has gone up. Part of this is due to the US supreme court: by identifying money with speech, it has endowed rich people and corporations to speak loudly in the public sphere. Another part is due to the privatization of the lawmaking process. Groups like Alec, SPN, and Americans United for Life now serve as de facto lawmakers in many state governments. Such organizations bring together in secret meetings big donors with the politicians who need their campaign contributions, and then provide the legislation, word for word, that will make the money move from one pocket to the other.

Leslie Savan: The Media and the ‘Dark-Skinned’ Men from Chechnya

Jake Tapper had been up all night covering the manhunt in Boston for CNN, so maybe that explains why he seemed to rush to judgment when he said of the bombing suspects: “It certainly seems these two are Islamic terrorists.”

“Yes, but those are two separate words,” Juliette Kayyem, a CNN contributor and former homeland security official, reminded Tapper. Technically, literally, he’s not inaccurate: The two brothers, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, who died in a shootout with police last night, and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, who is apparently cornered by police as I post this, are Muslim and allegedly are terrorists. But all morning long, Kayyem had been cautioning viewers and fellow journalists not to jump to conclusions (as CNN’s John King so infamously did two days ago when he wrongly reported that a “dark-skinned male” had been arrested in connection with the bombing.) “The fact that they’re from Chechnya,” Kayyem said, “is not a motivation.”

Renee Parsons: Boston Manhunt Challenges Constitutional Principles

It was with great relief when the manhunt and apprehension for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev brought one chapter of the Boston Marathon bombing to a conclusion – even as that manhunt raised important legal, constitutional questions.   Friday was obviously a terrifying experience for the citizens of Boston and especially Watertown –  it was a surreal and disturbing event even for a distant viewer glued to the television as I was that day.

Almost immediately, the overwhelming presence of heavily attired swat teams with assault weapons, armored tanks with machine guns, Blackhawk helicopters circling, and empty neighborhood streets created a frightening futuristic vision of a police state with civilians locked inside.  Not to minimize the injuries and trauma inflicted by the dastardly deed, the simultaneous explosion of a fertilizer plant in Texas killed and injured more people and did considerably more damage but what was happening on the streets of Boston, the cradle of the American Revolution, was the equivalent of martial law with precedent-setting warrantless house to house searches by heavily armed civil law enforcement tactical teams that had morphed into a military presence.

Melissa Gira Grant: Ending Prostitution ‘Central’ to Ending AIDS, US Tells Supreme Court

On the steps of the Supreme Court yesterday morning, shortly before arguments began on the constitutionality of compelling aid recipients to oppose prostitution, a dozen or so students in marigold hooded sweatshirts won the color-coordinated insignia game. Outside a photo op or two, the small group of activists with red umbrellas-which signal support for sex workers’ rights-left them folded at their feet. Sex workers, it appeared, would be as nearly invisible outside the Court as they would be in the arguments made within.

As expected, Deputy Solicitor General Sri Srinivasan, attorney for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), who appealed the pledge case to the Supreme Court, was stuck defending an argument for which there’s no evidence other than the persistence of its supporters in claiming it to be true. That is, to oppose prostitution, Srinivasan argued, is central to the “reliable and effective” function of the United States’ fight against HIV.

Chloe Angyal: The ‘Thinspiration’ Behind an Impossible Ideal of Beauty

Ever heard of thinspiration? Google it-actually, on second thought, don’t, unless you want to fall down a rabbit hole into the deeply disturbing world of explicitly pro-anorexia, pro-bulimia blogs and websites.

The pro-ana and pro-mia communities are, well, exactly what they sound like. They promote weight loss and maintenance though anorexic and bulimic behaviors, holding up self-starvation and purging as ways to become and stay beautiful, and to prove one’s self-discipline. In other words, they frame disordered behaviors as a lifestyle, and not as the symptoms of mental illness. The purpose of thinspiration communities is to support those who are suffering from eating disorders not in seeking help, but in being “better” anorexics and bulimics. In fact, they discourage seeking help, insisting that starving oneself or purging after eating is a healthy, admirable way to live.

Like I said, you probably don’t want to Google it.