“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”.
Wednesday is Ladies’ Day
Since this is Women’s History Month, it is important that we highlight their voices here at Stars Hollow. You will find as you scroll down today even more of those voices. We are women, hear us roar
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Maureen Down: The Spies Who Didn’t Love Her
The C.I.A. hacks into computers that Senate intelligence committee staffers are using in the basement of a C.I.A. facility because the spy agency thinks its Congressional overseers have hacked into the C.I.A. network to purloin hidden documents on torture. It puts a whole new tech twist on the question from Juvenal’s “Satires:” Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? Who will guard the guards themselves?
The Obama administration was caught off guard by Vladimir Putin’s power grab in Ukraine. Was the C.I.A. was too busy spying on the Senate to spy on Russia?
In his mad odyssey through the dark side – waterboarding, secret rendition, indefinite detention, unnecessary war and manipulation of C.I.A. analysis – Dick Cheney did his best to vitiate our system of checks and balances. His nefarious work is still warping our intelligence system more than a decade later.
Barack Obama, the former Constitutional law teacher who became president vowing to clean up the excesses and Constitutional corrosion of W. and Cheney, will now have to clean up the excesses and Constitutional corrosion in his own administration. And he’d better get out from between two ferns and get in between the warring Congressional Democrats and administration officials – all opening criminal investigations of each other – because it looks as if the C.I.A. is continuing to run amok to cover up what happened in the years W. and Vice encouraged it to run amok.
Langley needs a come-to-Jesus moment – pronto.
New Yrok Times Editorial Board: The C.I.A. Torture Cover-Up
It was outrageous enough when two successive presidents papered over the Central Intelligence Agency’s history of illegal detention, rendition, torture and fruitless harsh interrogation of terrorism suspects. Now, the leader of the Senate intelligence committee, Dianne Feinstein, has provided stark and convincing evidence that the C.I.A. may have committed crimes to prevent the exposure of interrogations that she said were “far different and far more harsh” than anything the agency had described to Congress.
Ms. Feinstein delivered an extraordinary speech on the Senate floor on Tuesday in which she said the C.I.A. improperly searched the computers used by committee staff members who were investigating the interrogation program as recently as January.
Beyond the power of her office and long experience, Ms. Feinstein’s accusations carry an additional weight and credibility because she has been a reliable supporter of the intelligence agencies and their expanded powers since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 (sometimes too reliable). [..]
The lingering fog about the C.I.A. detentions is a result of Mr. Obama’s decision when he took office to conduct no investigation of them. We can only hope he knows that when he has lost Dianne Feinstein, he has no choice but to act in favor of disclosure and accountability.
Pity poor Shaun McCutcheon.
McCutcheon is the Alabama businessman suing the Federal Election Commission for abridging his First Amendment right to free speech
– that is, if we define free speech as McCutcheon’s right to donate upward of $123,200 in a single election cycle. He claims eliminating federal limits on an individual’s aggregate campaign contributions is “about practicing democracy and being free.” To underscore his love of freedom, McCutcheon wrote checks to 15 Republican candidates in the symbolic sum of $1,776.
The Supreme Court is expected to hand down its decision in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission any day now. Given the Roberts court’s track record, the biggest campaign-finance decision since Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission is likely to blow another gigantic hole in the fabric of our democracy.
A few years ago, when I was blogging at Education Week with Deborah Meier, a reader introduced the term FUD. I had never heard of it. It is a marketing technique used in business and politics to harm your competition. The term and its history can be found on Wikipedia. FUD stands for Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt. The reader said that those who were trying to create a market-based system to replace public education were using FUD to undermine public confidence in public education. They were selling the false narrative that our public schools are obsolete and failing. [..]
Why the FUD campaign against one of our nation’s most treasured democratic institutions? It helps the competition. It makes people so desperate that they will seek out unproven alternatives. It makes the public gullible when they hear phony claims about miracle schools, where everyone graduates and everyone gets high test scores, and everyone goes to a four-year college. No such school exists. The “miracle school” usually has a high suspension rate, a high expulsion rate, a high attrition rate, and such schools usually do not replace the kids they somehow got rid of. Some “miracle schools” have never graduated anyone because they have only elementary schools, but that doesn’t stop the claims and boasting.
Martha Rosenberg: “Ask Your Doc” Ads Reach New Inanity with Radiation Ads
Direct to Consumer Drug Advertising Works So Well, They are Now Selling Radiation Treatment Directly to Consumers
Seventeen years after direct-to-consumer (DTC) drug advertising was instituted in the US, 70 percent of adults and 25 percent of children are on at least one prescription drug. Topping the adult pill category for central nervous system drugs is–surprise!–antidepressants which are used by an astounding one in four women between 50 and 64. Topping the pill category for children 12 to 17 is–another surprise!–ADHD meds, though kids increasingly take blood pressure, diabetes and insomnia meds too. (Babies are actually given GERD medicine for spitting up.) Twenty percent of the population is now on five or more prescription medications. Ka-ching.
DTC advertising has done two pernicious things. It has created a nation of hypochondriacs with depression, bipolar disorder, GERD, Restless Legs, insomnia, seasonal allergies and assorted pain, mood and “risk” conditions and it has reduced doctors to order takers and gate keepers. Thanks to TV drug ads, patients tell doctors what is wrong with them and what pill they need, coupon in hand. Drug company-funded web sites even give patients talking points to use when they see the doctor, lest they don’t ring up a sale.
Rebecca Solnit: By the Way, Your Home Is on Fire
The Climate of Change and the Dangers of Stasis
As the San Francisco bureaucrats on the dais murmured about why they weren’t getting anywhere near what we in the audience passionately hoped for, asked for, and worked for, my mind began to wander. I began to think of another sunny day on the other side of the country 13 years earlier, when nothing happened the way anyone expected. I had met a survivor of that day who told me his story.
A high-powered financial executive, he had just arrived on the 66th floor of his office building and entered his office carrying his coffee, when he saw what looked like confetti falling everywhere — not a typical 66th floor spectacle. Moments later, one of his friends ran out of a meeting room shouting, “They’re back.”
Laura Reyes: Paul Ryan and the Politics That Turn Stomachs
It’s hard to imagine conservative political ideology becoming so twisted that one of its standard bearers would step up to a podium and assert poor children are better off going hungry.
Yet when pPaul Ryan addressed the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) last week http://www.thenation.com/blog/… he did just that, bashing progressives for supporting federally funded school lunch programs. He accused those of us uncomfortable with children going hungry of offering them “a full belly and an empty soul.”
In service of this deeply troubling belief, he told a story about a boy getting a federally funded school lunch who asked for it in a brown paper bag like his classmates, because that — according to Ryan — meant they had parents who cared about them.
Paul Ryan’s politics dictate that it’s better for a child to go hungry than get help. Paul Ryan’s politics dictate that parents who rely on public assistance don’t care about their children. Paul Ryan’s politics dictate that those who are down on their luck — even children — are soulless, not the Wall Street bankers who crashed our nation’s economy and continue to crush the American middle class, necessitating such assistance in the first place.
Bryce Covert: Why Americans Should Take August Off
By now you have definitely seen it: the Cadillac ad for its first hybrid car that has a hard on for America’s work ethic. “Other countries,” actor Neal McDonough says while strutting through his perfectly landscaped yard alongside his in-ground pool, “they work, they stroll home, they stop by the café, they take August off. Off.” Quelle horreur! And he explains that Americans, from Bill Gates to Ali, aren’t like that. “We’re crazy, driven, hard-working believers,” he says. And he implies we do it for the glory, but also for the stuff, like a luxury car: the latter is “the upside of only taking two weeks off in August.”
But McDonough, or this hyper-capitalist alter ego, is dead wrong. Americans should absolutely take August off. It will, in fact, lead to more stuff-among other things.