Mar 04 2015

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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Phyllis Bennis: Netanyahu Threatens War In Speech to Congress

This was a speech threatening war.

Realizing he has insufficient clout to stop the negotiations, Netanyahu demanded a back-up position: If not “no” deal, then we can have a better deal.

His vision of a “better” deal, however, is grounded in Iranian surrender. And since that is not going to happen, demanding it means abandoning diplomacy in favor of-yes, war.

Netanyahu threatened just such a war against Iran, in his statement “even if Israel stands alone, the Jewish people will not remain passive.”

The threat to nuclear non-proliferation in the Middle East was issued long ago-not by Iran, but by Israel’s own internationally known but carefully denied nuclear arsenal. It is Israel, not Iran, whose hundreds of nuclear weapons threaten a potential nuclear arms race in the region, threaten its neighbors, and threaten the world.

Zephyr Teachout: The Path to Freedom From Corruption Goes Through My State – And Your State

Our current problem isn’t bribery of voters, but legal bribery of candidates.

The system is rigged and broken. A small number of people have far too much political power in America. There is a clear way out, and it starts in the states.

In the past, quick anti-corruption reform has started in the states. Until the late 19th century, ballots were mostly public, leading to systematic bribery of voters. Secret ballots were the result of state-by-state reform movements in the 1880s and 1890s.

Our current problem isn’t bribery of voters, but legal bribery of candidates. Power flows from elections, and right now most elections rely exclusively on private funding by some of the wealthiest people in world history. That means most candidates – and therefore, leaders – have no choice but to become sycophants to their interests. The corruption in our elections corrupts all of our politics.

Katrina vanden Heuvel: The Koch Cash Behind the Latest Attack on Obamacare

The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in King v. Burwell this Wednesday, and once again the fate of the Affordable Care Act will be in the nine justices’ hands. Unlike National Federation of Independent Businesses v. Sebelius, the 2012 case that affirmed the ACA’s individual mandate but gutted its expansion of Medicaid, King turns not on the act’s constitutionality but rather on an statutory issue variously described as “bordering on frivolous,” “nested in a fictional history of Congressional intent,” and “fluff.” But like the prior case, whose result effectively denied health insurance to half of the 17 million intended to have been covered by the ACA’s expansion of Medicaid, King, if decided against the government, could leave another 8.2 million uninsured and, effectively, send the ACA into its oft-cited “death spiral.” Naturally, the Kochs are pulling more than their fair share of strings.

The Kochs and their affiliated groups spent vast sums to try to stop the Affordable Care Act from passing in the first place; to unseat those that backed the law over the course of several election cycles; and more recently, to stymie the law’s implementation (e.g., killing Medicaid expansion in Tennessee last month). And the influence of the Koch network pervades nearly every part of the challengers’ case in King v. Burwell.

Jessica Valenti: College is too late to start teaching students about sexual assault

There are some essential life skills that high schools know they have to teach students. That’s why most offer classes like woodshop, home economics and drivers education. So I have to ask: Given that we’re keen to teach teenagers the basics they need to function in society, why do we still have no mandated education around rape?

Expecting high schoolers to fully grasp what sexual assault is without comprehensive education is ridiculous. Politicians still routinely demonstrate their ignorance around rape, the FBI only changed its outdated definition of sexual assault in 2011, and even the courts regularly muck up rape cases.

And while it’s wonderful that more and more universities are creating sexual assault orientations and mandating courses on consent, by the time young people reach college (assuming they go at all) it’s often too late. Nearly half of American teenagers are sexually active by the time they’re 17 years old and 44% of sexual assault victims are under 18 years old.

Keziyah Lewis: The people who could’ve prevented Tamir Rice’s death are the Cleveland police

Only in the flawed, racist, American justice system, could a black 12-year-old boy with a toy gun be blamed for his failure to prevent his own death.

But there wasn’t anything that Tamir Rice could have done to eliminate the possibility that he would die at the hands of a cop: there is a limit to how careful you can be when you live in a society designed to criminalize you. Rice’s identity as a young black male made him a potential police target from the day he was born. In the eyes of the justice system, which arrests, incarcerates, and executes black men and women at disproportionate rates compared to other races, he was always guilty of being a boy with dark skin. His punishment was just yet to be determined. [..]

If anyone could have exercised “due care to avoid injury” on that day, it was definitely not Tamir Rice. He had no control over the events that day because he had no control over his position in society as a young black male. The City of Cleveland defends officer Loehmann’s actions by claiming that, had Tamir and his family made different choices, the shooting could have been avoided. The truth is that Tamir was never given a chance – not by the Cleveland police on that cold November day, and certainly not by the society he lived in.

Rena Steinzor: Bad Feds, Deadly Meds

FDA must be equipped to regulate compounding pharmacies.

In December, the Department of Justice indicted 14 people who worked at the New England Compounding Center. The company manufactured drugs in insanitary conditions that produced a fungal meningitis outbreak that killed 64 people and made 751 gravely ill in 2012. One of the owners and a senior pharmacist face charges of racketeering and second-degree murder.

This small compounding company mixed (pdf) steroid injections in a so-called clean room where the air conditioning was shut down at night, technicians wore gloves with holes (pdf) in them and the ventilation system absorbed fragments from a recycling operation located nearby and owned by the same individuals. When employees complained about unsanitary conditions, managers said, “This line is worth more than all your lives combined, so don’t stop it.” Countless vials of the contaminated steroid drugs were shipped out to hospitals and other treatment centers in 20 states.

The indictments are good news. If convictions are obtained, they will serve as some deterrent to further misconduct within an industry that continues to be virtually unregulated.