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Feb 19 2014

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.

Wednesday is Ladies’ Day.

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: Comcast-Time Warner Doesn’t Pass the Smell Test

One thing is certain about Comcast’s proposed $45 billion merger with Time Warner Cable: It doesn’t pass the smell test. Comcast claims that the combination of the number one and number two cable companies will somehow enhance rather than diminish competition and lead to greater consumer satisfaction. Don’t worry, Godzilla will play nice on the playground. [..]

Comcast is just digesting its previous mega-merger, the takeover of NBC Universal that should have been blocked by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). That leaves Comcast controlling an empire that includes NBC, CNBC, MSNBC, USA Network, Telemundo and other networks.

Here the merger doesn’t just impact the marketplace of cable; it threatens the marketplace of ideas. The protection of free speech under our Constitution depends on citizens having access to many ideas, many sources, many ways of getting ideas and information. Letting mega-corporations consolidate control of key parts of the media infrastructure is a direct threat to that access.

Ana Marie Cox: If the 1% wants class warfare, maybe it’s time to start fighting back

What Tom Perkins and Co don’t know can only make the rest of us stronger

The White House administration official who proposed taking on “income inequality” as the dominant theme of Obama’s second term must have thought the move was at least halfway clever: I mean, try as the Right may to argue against the administration’s preferred mechanisms to undo income inequality, honestly, what kind of jerk would straight-up defend it?

Well, it turns out there are two kinds. Call them the emotional alarmist and the pseudo-scientific apologist. Both variations were on display in the past week, in the form of zillionaire Tom Perkins and economist-to-the-zillionaires, former Romney adviser Greg Mankiw. Both Perkins and Mankiw are correct to be worried about how the widening income gap might inspire more class consciousness. They’re just wrong about which side is the underdog.

Jill Filpovic: Kansas’ anti-gay bill: another attempt to force warped Christianity on others

Conservatives keep trying to use America’s religious freedom as a way to limit everyone else’s rights

Last week, the Kansas House of Representatives passed a bill (pdf) that would have broadly legalized discrimination against gays and lesbians. Luckily, after national outrage, the bill was halted. But the fight isn’t over: the bill’s reliance on religious freedom to justify discrimination is a sign of right-wing efforts to come. [..]

The many of us who abhor blatant, legal discrimination are rightly incensed about even the fact that this law was ever put on the table. But we should also see it for what it is: just one piece of a much larger puzzle. The really crucial part – the legal backing for laws like this one – will be decided by the US supreme court very soon. If the court allows for as expansive interpretations of religious freedom as the anti-ACA plaintiffs have argued, expect to see more of these laws proposed and passed in the states. And then, segregating Friends of Dorothy won’t just be in Kansas anymore.

Dinah PoKempner: Privacy in the Age of Surveillance

A strong global right to electronic privacy demands recognition, in U.S. law and internationally.

President Obama had a signature opportunity in his January speech to limit the damage Edward Snowden’s revelations about National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance had done to U.S. foreign relations. But global response has been rather cool.

Obama called for increased transparency and an institutional advocate for civil liberties before the secret court that oversees the NSA. He recognized that foreigners have an interest in the privacy of their communications. And he announced future restrictions on the use of acquired data as well as his hope to move data storage out of the NSA’s hands. Yet he made clear he did not intend to end bulk collection of data or give foreigners legal rights to defend their privacy against unwarranted U.S. spying. [..]

The administration can do so by immediately ending its indiscriminate, bulk interception programs, giving foreigners the same protections as citizens against unjustified invasion of privacy, ending efforts to weaken privacy protections in both the technical and legal domain, and proposing laws to help these changes survive into the next administration.

And it might help if Obama found a way to enable the man who started the debate – Edward Snowden – to come home without fearing a lifetime in prison. After all, one day they may both be Nobel laureates.

Susan Casey-Lefkowitz: Secretary Kerry Is Right. Climate Change Needs to Be Tackled Like a “Weapon of Mass Destruction”

Secretary Kerry got it right when he identified climate change as one of the most urgent issues facing the world in a February 16 speech in Jakarta. Kerry got it right on the science, the urgency, and the opportunity to be found in clean energy solutions. He ranked climate change right up there with “terrorism, epidemics, poverty, and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.” He also got it right that we have the clean energy ability to tackle climate change and that American leadership and action is critical as part of the global solution. The US government is moving ahead to reduce carbon pollution at its source from our cars, trucks and power plants. We also need to reject major new infrastructure projects for dirty fuels starting with denial of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline permit. The US can do this without Congressional action, but strong public support is still critical in standing up to the fossil fuel industry and climate deniers. History will remember our actions – and our inactions. It is actions such as these at home that send the strongest message to the world that the US is serious about climate change.