Mar 19 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.

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

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Trevor Timm: Obama wants us to believe he’s been transparent. But don’t look behind the curtain

The Obama administration publicly patted itself on the back this week for their supposed unmatched commitment to openness and accountability. But if you want to understand the White House’s actual commitment to transparency, don’t listen to their speeches or press releases – look at what they were doing quietly, off stage.

On the very same day as the administration was hailing its non-existent transparency achievements during an event for Sunshine Week, it was also permanently shielding a key White House office from the Freedom of Information Act (Foia). The White House Office of Administration, which is in charge of archiving White House emails, had accepted Foia requests for 30 years, until the Bush administration convinced a court they didn’t have to in 2007. Open government groups are up in arms that the Obama White House is making Bush’s secrecy policy permanent and declaring the entire office off-limits to the public. (This week, in another event that also shows their true colors, the administration threatened to prosecute any members of Congress who reveal details of a controversial trade deal draft that many public interest groups want to be made public.) [..]

More and more people want information on what their government is doing on their behalf. Ignoring those requests won’t make them go away. Nor will the government’s self-congratulation on “transparency” fool anyone. So why not do something actually meaningful and pass Foia reform.

New York Times Editorial Board: The House Budget Disaster

If the budget resolution released on Tuesday by House Republicans is a road map to a “Stronger America,” as its title proclaims, it’s hard to imagine what the path to a diminished America would look like.

The plan’s deep cuts land squarely on the people who most need help: the poor and the working class. The plan also would turn Medicare into a system of unspecified subsidies to buy private insurance by the time Americans who are now 56 years old become eligible. And it would strip 16.4 million people of health insurance by repealing the Affordable Care Act (the umpteenth attempt by Republicans to do so since the law was enacted in 2010). [..]

House Republicans are sticking to their tired themes of spending cuts, no matter the need or consequences, and tax cuts above all. Senate Republicans, whose budget resolution is scheduled to be unveiled Wednesday, are not expected to challenge the House approach in any major way.

Dean Baker: Scott Walker Ends Freedom of Contract in Wisconsin

You probably missed this one, after all most news coverage told people that Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker signed a “right to work” bill. According to the accounts, this bill means that workers will no longer be forced to pay a fee to the union that represents them. This was presented as a victory for workers’ rights over the power of unions. In fact, it was about denying the people of Wisconsin the freedom of contract.

This is not just a question of the best slogan for a marketing campaign; it’s a question of how we think about workers’ rights. Walker and his supporters want people to believe that a basic right of workers is being denied if they are forced to pay a union representation fee. This is nonsense if we think about the issue in its full context.

The problem is supposed to be that some workers dislike unions in general, or the union at a specific workplace, and don’t think they should have to pay a representation fee to the union to hold a job. But there are often many things about a job that workers don’t like.

Dave Johnson: Why Is SEC Refusing To Follow The Law And Issue CEO Pay-Ratio Rules?

One part of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform law requires the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to set up rules requiring companies to disclose the median annual total compensation of all employees, the total annual compensation of the chief executive officer, and the ratio of the median employee pay to the CEO’s pay. It’s 2015 and the agency still has not done so.

In December, 16 Senators sent a letter to SEC Chair Mary Jo White asking for the SEC to vote on the final pay-ratio rule before the end of the first quarter of 2015. [..]

The end of the first quarter is two weeks away. There’s still no CEO Pay-Ratio rule.

Alexa Van Brunt: Adult interrogation tactics in schools turns principals into police officers

Adult interrogation methods do not belong in the classroom, so why are school administrators throughout the United States being trained to use them on their students in order to extract confessions? [..]

Subjecting children to coercive interrogations by school officials serves no other purpose than to escalate the flow of our nation’s youth into the school-to-prison pipeline, a phenomenon by which violations of school rules become criminalized and children – particularly poor, LGBTQ, black and hispanic children – are funneled out of schools and into jails and prisons. Not only does the pipeline lead to higher rates of incarceration but it also results in economic insecurity.

Rather than training principals to interrogate, schools should focus on non-punitive approaches like in-school behavior modification, mentorship, and diversion tactics. That is the more ethical and community-centered approach.

Melissa Jacobs: Ashley Judd isn’t alone: most women who talk about sport on Twitter face abuse

I write professionally about American football, and I tweet a lot on a variety of football-related topics. So I get that many male National Football League fans who don’t know that I’ve been covering the league for almost a decade might assume that I have no clue what a Cover 3 defensive scheme is. I don’t get being told “my face looks like a football” after tweeting a joke about the Jacksonville Jaguars possibly moving to London, getting called a “cunt” in response to football analysis or receiving the most untempting sexual invitations imaginable. [..]

When it comes to women writing about sports, the harassment is not only there, it comes with a special brand of archaic machismo and frequent and disgusting trolling. While sexism gotten much better for us within the industry, women in sports often still need a very thick skin when it comes to interacting with the public.