“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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Katrina vanden Heuvel: Mitch McConnell’s moneyocracy
For a man who has spent his entire career preaching the gospel of lower taxes, it’s astounding how much Mitch McConnell wants your money.
Sen. McConnell’s zeal is impressive, but not surprising. He’s about to enter the most difficult election of his career – and he’s going to need every last penny. [..]
Today, the Supreme Court hears McCutcheon v. FEC, in which Shaun McCutcheon, a GOP activist and businessman from Alabama, is seeking to overturn the Federal Election Commission’s limit on biennial campaign contributions to federal candidates. But even that’s not good enough for McConnell – he wants the court to throw out campaign contribution limits entirely, and his lawyers have been given time during oral arguments to present this view.
Rebecca Solnit: The Age of Inhuman Scale: On the ‘Bigness’ of Climate Change
Late last week, in the lobby of a particularly unglamorous downtown San Francisco building, a group of passionate but polite activists met with a bureaucrat who stepped forward to hear what they had to say about the fate of the Earth. The activists wanted to save the world. The particular part of it that might be under their control involved getting the San Francisco Retirement board to divest its half a billion dollars in fossil fuel holdings, one piece of the international divestment movement that arose a year ago.
Sometimes the fate of the Earth boils down to getting one person with modest powers to budge.
The bureaucrat had a hundred reasons why changing course was, well, too much of a change. This public official wanted to operate under ordinary-times rules and the idea that climate change has thrust us into extraordinary times (and that divesting didn’t necessarily entail financial loss or even financial risk) was apparently too much to accept.
The recent deaths off the coast of Lampedusa are a gruesome consequence of EU border and immigration control policies that follow the logic of security and restrictionism over human rights and international maritime law
October 3rd, 2013 will go down as one of the deadliest days at the European external borders in decades. 363 people are now thought to have died in one single, tragic incident early that Thursday morning. And while the continuous, everyday deaths of migrants and refugees in the Mediterranean are met by silence, the magnitude of this ‘blood bath’ spurred the Italian and international media to report on it widely. [..]
Last week’s catastrophe is the latest in a series of incidents that have left 19,142 people dead over the last 24 years, 13 of whom died only three days earlier close to a Sicilian beach. 19,142 lives are lost – and that includes only reported and documented deaths. Many others, having died and disappeared at sea, will never be part of these statistics. Giusi Nicolini, mayor of Lampedusa, made it explicit: we are witnessing war-like levels of death at Europe’s frontiers. In Pope Francis’ words, ‘this is a disgrace’. It is a disgrace for a political union that proclaims itself as a defender of human rights in the world. And that, at the same time, invests millions of Euros in restrictionist policies and practices that leave migrants and refugees little choice other than relying on smuggling networks, undertaking life-threatening journeys, and entering the European Union ‘illegally’.
Michele Chen: When Federal Contracts Turn Into Corporate Welfare
Where does the corporate bottom line end and the public interest begin? Through the voodoo economics of federal contracting, Washington’s “partnerships” with private corporations have drained the public trust straight into the pockets of top corporate executives. [..]
Federal contractors are currently subject to a very loose limit on the amount of an executive’s salary that can come directly from federal subsidies: about $763,000. Extrapolating from survey data on the top contractor executive salaries fromthe Government Accountability Office, Demos estimates the aggregate share of public money that is ultimately funneled into executive pay at $23.9 billion.
Rose Ann DeMoro: Heroic Fight by Sutter Nurses Shows That Workers Can Fight and Win
In a political and economic climate so heavily influenced by Wall Street, corporate CEOs, and extremists like those who shut down the government in an effort to block even the modest reforms of the Affordable Care Act, it’s sometimes hard to remember that it is still possible for nurses and working people to fight and win.
Well, thank goodness for the 3,000 RNs, and a few hundred techs, who work at Sutter hospitals and facilities in Northern California. They have just delivered an emphatic message to nurses and other workers everywhere. Stand up for yourselves, stand up for the public interest and the public will be with you and you can prevail.
Zoë Carpenter: Domestic Violence Shelters Struggle to Stay Open During Shutdown
Consider the government shutdown an extension of the GOP’s efforts to cut essential services to American women and their families. Now in its eighth day, the government shutdown has already kicked 7,000 children out of Head Start, and endangered 9 million women and children on WIC, including 2,000 newborns in Arkansas that may not receive nutritional formula if the shutdown persists.
Add women fleeing domestic violence and sexual assault to the list of vulnerable populations that the shutdown puts at greater risk. On Friday, a domestic violence program in DC called Survivors and Advocates For Empowerment with an intake center just blocks from the Capitol announced that it needed to raise $19,000 in a week in order to provide shelter, emergency lock changes at victims’ homes, staff for the hotline and court advocates during the shutdown.