“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”.
Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt
New York Times Editorial: Climate Disruptions, Close to Home
Apart from the disinformation sowed by politicians content with the status quo, the main reason neither Congress nor much of the American public cares about global warming is that, as problems go, it seems remote. Anyone who reads the latest National Climate Assessment, released on Tuesday, cannot possibly think that way any longer. The report is exhaustive and totally alarming.
The study, produced by scientists from academia, government and the private sector, is the definitive statement of the present and future effects of climate change on the United States. Crippling droughts will become more frequent in drier regions; torrential rains and storm surges will increase in wet regions; sea levels will rise and coral reefs in Hawaii and Florida will die. [..]
The climate-change deniers in Congress and industry allies like Senator Mitch McConnell, who hails from a coal-producing state, will be ferocious, employing the usual disruptive legislative and legal stratagems. The surest antidotes are continued presidential resolve, backed by voters sensitized to climate warming’s dangers. The new report should help on both fronts.
Richard (RJ) Eskow: Who’s Fighting for Public Workers?
Public-sector employment grew by more than 1 million jobs under five of the last six presidents. Who was the exception? If you guessed conservative icon Ronald Reagan, guess again: During Reagan’s two terms 1,414,000 public-sector jobs were added. If you guessed Bush the Elder or Bush the Younger, that’s two more strikes. And if you guessed Bill Clinton, who liked to rail against “bureaucrats” and talk about “leaner” government, you were way off. Nearly 2,000,000 jobs were added during Clinton’s presidency.
The outlier is Barack Obama. 710,000 public-sector jobs – that’s nearly three-quarters of a million – have been lost since Obama took office.
President Obama is not the architect of these losses. Most of them have taken place at the state and local level, although federal jobs are now gaining a larger share of the losses. At every level, job loss has been fueled by Republican-backed cuts and stymied by conservative hostility toward government jobs.
That hostility succeeds by ensuring that the public never stops to think about who those government employees really are. It only takes a moment’s reflection to realize that they’re the teachers who educate our children, the police and firefighters who keep us safe, the sanitation workers who keep our streets clean, the Social Security employees who make sure the elderly and disabled receive their benefits, and dozens of other productive members of our communities.
In the happy public myth, the United States fights every war to defend freedom. But the Spanish-American War, the Vietnam War, and the Iraq War (among others) deviate from this storyline. These wars were given public support and political cover by being cast as struggles of light against darkness, as struggles to preserve freedom and liberty. In each case, the wars involved massive and premeditated deception of the public and of information presented to it. Toppling leaders or waging wars for more selfishly oriented national reasons, the good will of the American people has been consumed like termites can consume a mansion. We are currently living in an era where there has been a campaign to whitewash the practice of torture by the United States against its enemies (both citizens and non-citizens). We have a lengthy history of assassinating foreign leaders both actively and by indirectly providing cover for action against them by others. We practice rendition and build secret prisons abroad and argue about whether or not we can suspend the Geneva Conventions or kill American citizens without judicial oversight. The American people are occasionally fed up by the nonsense, by the waste of billions upon billions of dollars, and by the loss of standing internationally. But they can’t pay attention for too long, for they are teetering on the edge of their own economic insecurity. So the wars and travesties continue.
The history of the travesties of American warfare and unseemly meddling not merely in the affairs of other nations but of actively subverting international norms and principles and/or of actively deceiving the public both inside and outside of the nation? That’s decently documented in many cases of the past. We gather together and shake our heads knowingly and mention the list: Watergate, Iran-Contra, the coups Iran in 1953 and Chile in 1973, the secret wars and bombing campaigns in Cambodia and Laos, and many more examples come to mind. In each case, we look at each other and reassure ourselves and each other that we wouldn’t do THAT again. And yet, here we are. Do you see anyone on trial for torture, for rendition, for egregious abuses of all this nation should stand for?
Dave Johnson: Shouldn’t Giant Corporations Pay Taxes They Owe?
A huge, huge giveaway of tax money to giant corporations is rolling down the tracks at us. If it happens, this tax giveaway would be second only to the bank bailouts on the list of schemes to give money to private corporations. (Except, with the bailouts we got some of that money back.)
Giant, multinational companies owe us up to $700 billion in taxes they have been avoiding paying. Now they say they’ll let us have some of the tax money they owe us if we let them off from paying it all. For some reason, just telling them to pay their taxes is off the table. [..]
I’d like to propose a simple and fair solution to this deferral problem. Congress should impose a 5-percent-per-year fee on deferred income. Let them keep the money out if they say they need to, and let them defer paying their taxes. But just have them pay a modest 5 percent fee to do it. If a company has a good reason for keeping profits out of the country, a 5 percent fee won’t be a problem.
Jill Lawrence: : Why won’t Obama protect gay workers?
President Barack Obama is following through on his promise to make 2014 a “year of action” even if he has to bypass Congress and do it all by himself. But there’s a glaring gap so far in his unilateral efforts: job protection for gay people, who can still be fired at will in 29 states.
With the military setting an example and same-sex marriage winning acceptance at a rapid pace, it’s amazing that being straight can still be a prerequisite for employment. But the firing last month of a lesbian police chief by a homophobic mayor is a stark reminder that prejudice remains a fact of life.
“I can’t believe that we still have no equal rights,” former Latta, South Carolina, Police Chief Crystal Moore said after Mayor Earl Bullard fired her on April 15. Moore, who was investigating one of Bullard’s hires, had never received a reprimand in her 20-plus years on the force, until Bullard gave her seven in one day. When she asked to talk to her lawyer, he fired her. The town is now set to vote on June 24 on whether to weaken his authority and give the City Council more, including the power to reinstate Moore.