Dec 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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Bill Moyers: The Great American Class War

I met Supreme Court Justice William Brennan in 1987 when I was creating a series for public television called In Search of the Constitution, celebrating the bicentennial of our founding document.  By then, he had served on the court longer than any of his colleagues and had written close to 500 majority opinions, many of them addressing fundamental questions of equality, voting rights, school segregation, and — in New York Times v. Sullivan in particular — the defense of a free press. [..]

Although a liberal, he worried about the looming size of government. When he mentioned that modern science might be creating “a Frankenstein,” I asked, “How so?”  He looked around his chambers and replied, “The very conversation we’re now having can be overheard. Science has done things that, as I understand it, makes it possible through these drapes and those windows to get something in here that takes down what we’re talking about.”

That was long before the era of cyberspace and the maximum surveillance state that grows topsy-turvy with every administration.  How I wish he were here now — and still on the Court!

Richard Reeves: The Drone Next Door

The news of the day Friday included a dispatch from Saudi Arabia reporting that 11 people were killed by drone-fired missiles in a remote corner of Yemen. The story added that five days before, three men were killed in a drone attack in another part of the country.

The official story is that all the victims of the Friday strike were associated in one way or another to al-Qaida. That’s probably true, but The New York Times story was headlined: “Drone Strike in Yemen Hits Wedding Convoy, Killing 11.” [..]

The whole idea, of course, is terrifying: Air Force pilots on the ground in big leather chairs in New Mexico or outside Syracuse pushing buttons and killing people thousands of miles away, then going home for dinner. But then, so was the idea of dropping atomic bombs on Japanese cities more than 60 years ago. But the bombs undoubtedly saved the lives of hundreds of thousands of young Americans training to invade Japan.

Richard (RJ) Eskow: We Have Met the Enemy and She Is Old

When you are old and grey and full of sleep,” the William Butler Yeats poem begins, “And nodding by the fire …

Our culture has always been emotional — sentimental, even — about old age. So when did older people become The Enemy? Last week a judge ruled that Detroit could move forward with its plan to cut pensions for retired city workers. This week Washington is celebrating a budget deal which harms older people economically in several ways.

And a society which grows teary-eyed with each new viewing of On Golden Pond seems okay with that.

In a December 5 opinion, a U.S. bankruptcy judge ruled that Detroit could go forward with its plans to cut city workers’ pensions. He did so despite a state law making such cuts illegal, and despite his observation that Kevyn Orr, Detroit’s unelected city manager, “did mislead the public about the status of pensions in bankruptcy.”

In the kind of Bizarro-world inversions common to today’s corporate-funded politics, Orr and the Republican governor who appointed him argued against the conservative principle of states’ rights in order to move forward with their plan. When principles conflict with profits, apparently profits win every time.

Eugene Robinson: The Republican Mainstream Strikes Back

The unusual display of reasonable behavior by House Republicans this week should be seen as a retreat-a change in tactics-but not a surrender. Democrats had better note the distinction.

Sooner or later, it had to dawn on the GOP that repeatedly re-enacting Pickett’s Charge was not advancing the party’s agenda or enhancing its electoral prospects. In martial terms, President Obama and the Democrats held the high ground; they were the ones visibly making an effort to govern, while Republicans did nothing but throw themselves into battles they were sure to lose.

The “fiscal cliff” showdown last December established the template: House Republicans made absolute and unrealistic demands, Obama said no, Democrats maintained their unity-and Republicans eventually caved amid bitter recriminations. This pattern held all year, through the debt-ceiling fight and the government shutdown. In each instance, I believe, Republicans could have won more concessions if they had chosen to negotiate rather than throw a tantrum.

Joe Conason: Mandela’s Crucial Lesson for America — And The Republicans Who Never Learn

Beyond the eulogies bestowed this week on the late and truly great Nelson Mandela, a visionary, revolutionary, and peacemaker, there is much for Americans to learn from the story of his vexed relationship with our country. We will forget the mistakes perpetrated in dealing with him at our own peril.

To put it simply, the same Washington figures who so wrongly coddled Pretoria’s apartheid regime three decades ago — people like Dick Cheney and the neoconservatives — now tell us, wrongly again, that the United States should abandon negotiations with Iran and continue the embargo of Cuba. (And of course these are the same experts, politicians, and pundits who promoted war against Iraq, while assuring us that the invasion would be a cheap cakewalk.)

Tony Hewman: Stop Sending Undercover Cops Into Our Schools to Entrap Our Kids on Drug Charges

Here we go again. Undercover cops pose as students, make friends, build trust, and then arrest teenagers for selling mostly small amounts of marijuana. Yesterday nearly two dozen students were busted at two southern California high-schools, according to Riverside County Sheriff officials.

Two undercover cops, a woman and a man, had been posing as students since the beginning of the year. The majority of the drug buys were small amounts of marijuana, but there were some other drugs seized including cocaine and prescription pills.

The campus was shaken yesterday, according to a story in the Press Enterprise.Students were shocked to see their friends arrested in class and left wondering who they can and cannot trust in their peer groups.

I’m disgusted by the trend of undercover cops infiltrating schools and targeting our kids. Last December, “Operation Glass House” made national news. Police officers, posed as ordinary students, were stationed in three California high schools. It led to the arrest of 22 children, the majority of whom were special needs students, including the autistic son of Doug and Catherine Snodgrass.


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  1. MO Blue

    It snowed here last night. Sitting here in my warm house trying to decide if I should shovel the driveway or convince myself that “God put it there – he will take it away.”  

    Letting God do it will be much, much easier on my already crabby back but would require me to patiently wait until it is warm enough to melt the snow. It is now slightly above freezing and the front porch has melted so I might wait a couple of more hours and see if the need for a decision goes aways (IOW melts).

    Not an earth shaking decision or a real problem – just a little inconvenience when your body would prefer you not do certain things.

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