Aug 14 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: A populist insurgency in New York City

For the most part, Americans outside of New York have heard only one story about New York City’s mayoral race – the bizarre public self- immolation of former representative Anthony Weiner. But obscured beneath the flood lights of the Weiner farce is a populist insurgency that exemplifies the coming struggle to define the Democratic Party in the wake of President Obama. [..]

In the post-collapse, post-Occupy, post-Obama world, Democrats are headed into a fierce battle over the direction of the party. Obama forged his new majority largely on anti-war, socially liberal causes – aided by Republican reaction in contrast. But the Democratic Party’s consensus around social issues and diversity has masked a growing divide on economic issues between the Wall Street wing of the party and a populist wing that is beginning to stir. The mayor’s race in New York City is an early entry in this debate about the future of the party and the country. May it not be obscured by Weiner’s spectacular flameout.

Lindsey Bever: James Risen’s risk of prison means journalism is being criminalised

That a New York Times national security reporter may be jailed for refusing to name a source is a total affront to press freedom

Committing an act of journalism could soon become an imprisonable offence.

New York Times reporter James Risen has been ordered to testify in the criminal trial of former Central Intelligence Agency official Jeffrey Sterling, who has been indicted under the Espionage Act of 1917 – for leaking classified information to Risen for publication in his book, State of War. Last month, the US court of appeals for the fourth circuit in Richmond, Virginia, ruled that Risen could not claim a reporter’s privilege under the first amendment to win exemption from being compelled to testify. [..]

We take too much in our democracy for granted – for journalists cannot successfully hold government accountable in a society that does not recognise a reporter’s right to exercise discretion with his sources and the information they provide. This administration has an atrocious record for prosecuting whistleblowers. Can it really get away with jailing the reporters who talk to them, too?

Jennifer Hoelzer: If Obama wanted an ‘open debate’ on NSA spying, why thwart one for so long?

The president asks us to trust him on government surveillance, yet his administration constantly denigrates critics as unpatriotic

Tim Cushing made one of my favorite points of (last) week in his Tuesday post “Former NSA boss calls Snowden’s supporters internet shut-ins; equates transparency activists with al-Qaida“, when he explained that “some of the most ardent defenders of our nation’s surveillance programs” – much like proponents of overreaching cyber-legislation, like Sopa – have a habit of “belittling” their opponents as a loose confederation of basement-dwelling loners. I think it’s worth pointing out that General Hayden’s actual rhetoric is even more inflammatory than Cushing’s. Not only did the former NSA director call us “nihilists, anarchists, activists, Lulzsec, Anonymous, twentysomethings who haven’t talked to the opposite sex in five or six years”, he equates transparency groups like the ACLU with al-Qaida.

I appreciated this post for two reasons. [..]

But my main reason for singling out Tim’s post this week is that Hayden’s remark goes to the heart of what I continue to find most offensive about the administration’s handling of the NSA surveillance programs, which is their repeated insinuation that anyone who raises concerns about national security programs doesn’t care about national security.

Moira Herbst: Larry Summers’ record should rule him out of the Fed chairmanship

Why would we want a key advocate of the banking deregulation that brought us the great recession to head the Federal Reserve?

As a general rule in life – and certainly, in applying for a job – your record counts. If you’ve had a history of alienating people, being consistently wrong on the biggest issues in your field and screwing up – say, by helping set the stage (pdf) for the worst recession since the Great Depression – it’s time to look for a new career.

But that’s not, apparently, how life works out for Larry Summers, the fervent champion of deregulation and paid Wall Street consultant confirmed in last week’s presidential press conference to be a leading contender as Obama’s pick for the next chairman of the Federal Reserve.

Rebecca Hellmich: Who Dies in Yemen Drone Strikes?

A headline is sometimes worth a thousand words, and this was definitely the case after a deadly drone strike occurred in Yemen last week.

“Drone Strike Kills Six Suspected Militants in Yemen,” a Reuters headline (8/7/13) declared.  “More Suspected Al-Qaeda Militants Killed as Drone Strikes Intensify in Yemen,” a CNN.com headline  (8/8/13) offered. Whatever the language, one message was clear: “Suspected terrorists” or “militants” had been killed.

But with several drone strikes over the past week in Yemen, how can anyone actually know who is being killed?

The deceptive way the Obama administration defines “militants” has already been well – established – as the New York Times (5/29/12) put it, the White House policy “in effect counts all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants.”

Deborah Burger: Let’s Talk about a Real Healthcare System (And, No, I Don’t Mean “Obamacare”)

Let’s talk about healthcare. I don’t mean debating the Affordable Care Act. I mean healthcare, as in: If everyone needs healthcare, guarantee that everybody gets it.

I know, when it comes to healthcare, it’s easy to get into a debate for or against Obamacare. But we nurses see the world through a different lens: our patients.

Good healthcare is a fundamental resource that keeps America’s big engine running. Every day, as we do our best to care for our patients, nurses see people with chronic disease like asthma or diabetes who can’t afford insurance costs or medication. Maybe they’re absent from work, tired, and distracted from trying to manage their health on a shoestring. They run the risk of hospitalization. They struggle for a distant unreachable shore hoping something will help. They can’t get ahead because their health keeps dragging them down.