«

»

Jul 23 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”.

Wednesday is Ladies’ Day.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

Ana Marie Cox: The GOP’s real shame on the border: ignoring an industry that makes billions off immigrants to give to politicians

Private prisons have taken up immigration as a profit center, based on assembly-line ‘justice’ of the Bush era – and kept alive by Republican presidential contenders who look the other way

High-profile Republicans, from Governors Rick Perry and Rick Scott to even Chris Christie, have gone hoarse these past few weeks in denouncing the overflow of migrant detention centers at the US-Central American border as “the federal government’s failure.” All of them have ignored – or blissfully forgotten – that privatization, not government overreach, lies at the heart of America’s suppurating arrest and deportation policy.

Despite growing evidence that the private prison industry is neither humane nor cost-effective (pdf), for-profit incarceration has increased dramatically in the past 10 years, and nowhere has the boom been more obvious – and had more devastating impact – than along the United States’ border.

The tragedy of prison privatization is well-documented. For-profit institutions allows states to pass on overcrowding problems rather than solve them. There is lax attention to government regulations. This is a system designed for the benefit of its owners, not in the best interests of the state – or the prisoners themselves.

Amanda Marcotte: Americans Are Leaving Religion Behind and It Scares the Hell Out of the Christian Right

Conservatives are getting more frantic and repressive by the minute, in response to America’s growing secularism.

There’s been a lot of ink spilled about the increasing political polarization in America, which is at historically high levels. There are a lot of reasons for it, including changing demographics, women’s growing empowerment, the internet, the economy and cable news. But religion and religious belief plays an important role as well. There’s no way around it: America is quickly becoming two nations, one ruled over by fundamentalist Christians and their supporters and one that is becoming all the more secular over time, looking more and more like western Europe in its relative indifference to religion. And caught in between are a group of liberal Christians that are culturally aligned with secularists and are increasingly and dismayingly seeing the concept of “faith” aligned with a narrow and conservative political worldview.

That this polarization is happening is hard to deny, even if it’s harder to measure that political polarization. The number of Americans who cite “none” when asked about a religious identity is rising rapidly, up to nearly 20% from 15% in 2007, with a third of people under 30 identifying with no religious faith. Two-thirds of the “nones” say they believe in God, suggesting that this is more of a cultural drift towards secularism than some kind of crisis of faith across the country.

Kathy Kelly: Harassing the Drones

On July 10, 2014, in New York State, Judge David Gideon sentenced Mary Anne Grady Flores to a year in prison and fined her $1,000 for photographing a peaceful demonstration at the U.S. Air National Guard’s 174th Attack Wing at Hancock Field  (near Syracuse) where weaponized Reaper drones are remotely piloted in lethal flights over Afghanistan.  Dozens have been sentenced, previously, for peaceful protest there. But uniquely, the court convicted her under laws meant to punish stalkers, deciding that by taking pictures outside the heavily guarded base she violated a previous order of protection not to stalk or harass the commanding officer.

Mary Anne is a 58 year-old grandmother of three, from Ithaca, New York, where she is part of the Upstate Drone Action. [..]

The problem is not that Mary Anne lacks appreciation for the law of the land. She’s exercising her First Amendment right to assemble peaceably for redress of grievance. The problem is that Judge Gideon refuses to challenge military elites, some of whom never, ever want people of compassion and conscience to interfere with their use of threat, force, and even assassination to control people in other lands.

Mary Anne has appealed her case, and a NY judge has released her from prison until the appeal is resolved.  Another activist, Jack Gilroy, awaits sentencing, and in coming days and weeks, more activists will be tried on similar charges in the De Witt Town court. Judge Gideon and his fellow DeWitt Court Judge Robert Jokl have many more opportunities to think about these critical issues.  I hope they’ll be influenced by having encountered some of the finest people in the world as they hear the cases of peace activists in upstate New York.

Donna Smith: With New Obamacare Rulings, One Thing Is Certain: We Need Medicare for All for Life

It makes me crazy to see the latest news about a Federal Court striking down the tax credits (subsidies) offered on the Federal Affordable Care Act health exchanges because I know the media commentators will go crazy analyzing the politics of it all. The Republicans are celebrating; the Democrats are scrambling. And the people who hate the ACA/Obamacare as well as those who are pushing to achieve a longer term solution through single-payer reform will claim victory. The camp that will once again be completely ignored in this whirl of political analyzing will be the patients and the caregivers whose lives and security are threatened once again.

We won’t hear the patient and caregiver stories unless and until some of the politicians decide it would benefit them to prop us up in front of a camera in support of their particular position on health reform. While there are some very limited efforts going on to record stories, it has been since before the ACA/Obamacare was passed since anyone really cared to hear what happens to average people about their struggles with the profit-driven, dysfunctional US health system. No, Michael Moore will not be making another updated version of SiCKO and gathering stories for it as some have suggested to me — the original version still holds up well, sadly. [..]

What I really first thought when I saw the latest hit to people who need and want those tax credits/subsidies was too colorful to write here, but it wasn’t because I would lose anything as a result. I was so angry that more months and years of political manipulation would damage so many people when the solution that could heal us is so readily available and has been for almost half a century now. Medicare turns 49 on July 30th. We would do well to celebrate the program’s successes, acknowledge improvements we need to make, and share with our neighbors and friends how badly this nation needs to extend Medicare to all for life.

Laila Atawa: Muslims aren’t shocked to discover we are watched. But we won’t be scared

Can revelations about ‘sting’ operations move the government beyond 9/11-era discrimination? Because you can’t stop terrorism by alienating a generation of people

We know that we’re often discriminated against by our government and our fellow Americans, but studies still show that Muslim Americans feel more loyalty to the US than ever. Every year, more and more individuals from my faith commit themselves to civic engagement, seeking to educate themselves and their neighbors, and better the country in which they live – often because of the conviction that nobody else should have to face what they went through growing up after 9/11.

Though many Muslims Americans like me kept quiet in the years after 9/11 for fear of arousing illegitimate government suspicion, we’ve since learned that it is not silence that will keep the government from overstepping its bounds. We need to be visible, to be active, and to speak up when the government uses our religion as the basis for persecution. Revelations like even those in this latest, extensive report won’t scare us any more – they’ll only serve to push more Muslim Americans into public service.

Katrina vanden Huevel: The Downing of Flight 17 Should Trigger Talks, Not More Violence

The violence in eastern Ukraine has now claimed more innocent victims, with 298 dead in the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17. Children, scientists headed to an AIDS conference, families on vacation-their deaths add to the hundreds of civilian casualties and tens of thousands of refugees victimized by the spreading conflict, which the Kiev government is now escalating.

The shooting of a civilian airliner is clearly a tragic mistake that no one wants to own, but that comes all too often in war zones. Currently, the Dutch government – 193 of its citizens perished in the crash – said it “would hold off assigning blame as it pursues its top priorities of recovering the victims’ bodies and conducting an independent investigation of the crash site in eastern Ukraine.”

However, in the United States, the tragedy has triggered a ferocious chorus of media and political condemnation of Russia’s President Vladimir Putin. Putin is called the “puppet master” or worse, with commentators asserting that he can end the war at will. The separatist militias in the east are scorned as Moscow’s pawns. The Kiev government’s bombing of its own cities and people is treated as a necessary response to Russian provocation.

All this ignores the context of this crisis and worse seems designed to fan the flames of the conflict. Already the United States has pimposed new sanctions http://www.cnn.com/2014/07/16/… on Russia and is pushing its reluctant European allies to join. The Russians have responded with sanctions of their own. The Ukrainian government’s attacks in the eastern regions continue, with US aid and involvement certain to increase.