Apr 18 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.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

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New York Times Editorial Board: Sandy Recovery Still Lagging

The hardest test of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s vision and competence might end up being something quite different from expanding prekindergarten or affordable housing. It might just be his ability to restore normality to the lives of tens of thousands of New Yorkers in the Hurricane Sandy zone, from the Rockaways to Staten Island, whose homes and businesses were washed away or ruined a year and a half ago. And, once that job is done, preparing the city to weather the inevitable and potentially disastrous storms to come.

Mold and dry rot wait for no one. Houses don’t rebuild themselves. While Mr. de Blasio has been adjusting to City Hall, fighting big battles and winning a few, nearly 20,000 people in the city’s sluggish and mismanaged Sandy recovery program, inaptly called “Build It Back,” have been waiting for the building to start.

Mr. de Blasio gave a welcome, if overdue, update on the state of the program on Thursday, promising to attack the neglected crisis with greater speed, closer attention and more money.

Paul Krugman: Salvation Gets Cheap

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which pools the efforts of scientists around the globe, has begun releasing draft chapters from its latest assessment, and, for the most part, the reading is as grim as you might expect. We are still on the road to catastrophe without major policy changes.

But there is one piece of the assessment that is surprisingly, if conditionally, upbeat: Its take on the economics of mitigation. Even as the report calls for drastic action to limit emissions of greenhouse gases, it asserts that the economic impact of such drastic action would be surprisingly small. In fact, even under the most ambitious goals the assessment considers, the estimated reduction in economic growth would basically amount to a rounding error, around 0.06 percent per year.

What’s behind this economic optimism? To a large extent, it reflects a technological revolution many people don’t know about, the incredible recent decline in the cost of renewable energy, solar power in particular.

John Atcheson: Hillary Clinton and the Future Failure of Progressive Hope and Change

Why a run by the undeclared frontrunner demands upending the corporate wing of the Democratic Party

Recently, Hillary Clinton allowed as how she’s been “thinking” about running for President in 2016.

“Thinking” about it?  Even a six year old didn’t buy that.

When a politician says she (or he) is thinking about running, for an office, it’s like an addict saying they are “thinking,” about taking their next fix.  They want it with a lust that is all-consuming. [..]

So before we proceed with her coronation, maybe it’s time to think back to the 2004 campaign, and the early days of Barack Obama’s candidacy and Presidency.

Remember “hope and change?”  At the time, few thought to ask what exactly we were hoping for and what exactly we were changing to.

And of course, what we got was a great slogan, better speeches, very little change and even less hope.

Timothy Egan: Deadbeat on the Range

Imagine a vendor on the National Mall, selling burgers and dogs, who hasn’t paid his rent in 20 years. He refuses to recognize his landlord, the National Park Service, as a legitimate authority. Every court has ruled against him, and fines have piled up. What’s more, the effluents from his food cart are having a detrimental effect on the spring grass in the capital.

Would an armed posse come to his defense, aiming their guns at the park police? Would the lawbreaker get prime airtime on Fox News, breathless updates in the Drudge Report, a sympathetic ear from Tea Party Republicans? No, of course not.

So what’s the difference between the fictional loser and Cliven Bundy, the rancher in Nevada who owes the government about $1 million and has been grazing his cattle on public land for more than 20 years? Near as I can tell, one wears a cowboy hat. Easterners, especially clueless ones in politics and the press, have always had a soft spot for a defiant white dude in a Stetson.

Amy Goodman: The Grand American Tradition of Violent White Supremacy

Another U.S. shooting spree has left bullet-riddled bodies in its wake, and refocused attention on violent, right-wing extremists. Frazier Glenn Miller, a former leader of a wing of the Ku Klux Klan, is accused of killing three people outside two Jewish community centers outside Kansas City, Kan. As he was hauled away in a police car, he shouted “Heil Hitler!” Unlike Islamic groups that U.S. agencies spend tens of billions of dollars targeting, domestic white supremacist groups enjoy relative freedom to spew their hatred and promote racist ideology. Too often, their murderous rampages are viewed as acts of deranged “lone wolf” attackers. These seemingly fringe groups are actually well-organized, interconnected and are enjoying renewed popularity. [..]

Mark Potok is a senior fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center, which has been tracking right-wing hate groups and Frazier Glenn Miller for years. Potok said, about that report, “a real problem with the Department of Homeland Security … ever since a particular report on the right wing was leaked to the press in April of 2009, DHS has sort of cowered. They essentially gutted their non-Islamic domestic terrorism unit.” [..]

While law-abiding Muslims are forced to hide in their homes, and animal-rights activists are labeled as terrorists for undercover filming of abusive treatment at factory farms, right-wing hate groups are free to organize, parade, arm themselves to the hilt and murder with chilling regularity. It’s time for our society to confront this very real threat.

Robert Barkley: The Hollow Center of Common Core

The hullabaloo over the Common Core State Standards might lead you to think that poor standards have been the central problem in education. Consider the possibility that those peddling that idea don’t have a clue.  And consider the possibility that, sadly, many educators have bought what the peddlers are selling.

I say such is the case.  In education, the single most important issue has long been and remains unaddressed: The lack of an agreed-upon overarching aim. If the institution doesn’t know where it’s going or what it’s trying to do, whatever standards are adopted will be indefensible and largely inconsequential. Putting in place a clear aim is the education establishment’s first order of business.