“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.
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Paul Krugman: Europe’s Impossible Dream
There’s a bit of a lull in the news from Europe, but the underlying situation is as terrible as ever. Greece is experiencing a slump worse than the Great Depression, and nothing happening now offers hope of recovery. Spain has been hailed as a success story, because its economy is finally growing – but it still has 22 percent unemployment. And there is an arc of stagnation across the continent’s top: Finland is experiencing a depression comparable to that in southern Europe, and Denmark and the Netherlands are also doing very badly.
How did things go so wrong? The answer is that this is what happens when self-indulgent politicians ignore arithmetic and the lessons of history. And no, I’m not talking about leftists in Greece or elsewhere; I’m talking about ultra-respectable men in Berlin, Paris, and Brussels, who have spent a quarter-century trying to run Europe on the basis of fantasy economics.
Robert Parry: Seeking War to the End of the World
If the neoconservatives have their way again, U.S. ground troops will reoccupy Iraq, the U.S. military will take out Syria’s secular government (likely helping Al Qaeda and the Islamic State take over), and the U.S. Congress will not only kill the Iran nuclear deal but follow that with a massive increase in military spending.
Like spraying lighter fluid on a roaring barbecue, the neocons also want a military escalation in Ukraine to burn the ethnic Russians out of the east and the neocons dream of spreading the blaze to Moscow with the goal of forcing Russian President Vladimir Putin from the Kremlin. In other words, more and more fires of Imperial “regime change” abroad even as the last embers of the American Republic die at home.
Much of this “strategy” is personified by a single Washington power couple: arch-neocon Robert Kagan, a co-founder of the Project for the New American Century and an early advocate of the Iraq War, and his wife, Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland, who engineered last year’s coup in Ukraine that started a nasty civil war and created a confrontation between nuclear-armed United States and Russia.
: Fannie and Freddie are Back, Bigger and Badder Than Ever
AFTER the financial crisis of 2008, there was one thing that almost everyone agreed on. The government-sponsored mortgage giants, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, had to go. While shareholders and executives reaped the profits from Fannie and Freddie in good times, taxpayers were stuck with the bill in a crisis. President Obama described their dysfunctional business model as “Heads we win, tails you lose.” But here we are, seven years after the crisis, and nothing has changed.
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were meant to make it easier for Americans to buy their own homes. By buying up mortgages issued by other lenders, they enabled the lenders to make more loans. Fannie and Freddie could then package the payments that Americans made on their home mortgages into securities to sell to investors, from big bond funds to foreign central banks. In this way, a saver in China financed the purchase of a home in Kansas.
Charles M. Blow: Sandra and Kindra: Suicides or Something Sinister?
Although the mantra “Black Lives Matter” was developed by black women, I often worry that in the collective consciousness it carries with it an implicit masculine association, one that renders subordinate or even invisible the very real and concurrent subjugation and suffering of black women, one that assigns to these women a role of supporter and soother and without enough space or liberty to express and advocate for their own.
Last week, the prism shifted a bit, as America and the social justice movement focused on the mysterious cases of two black women who died in police custody. [..]
The deaths seem odd: young women killing themselves after only being jailed only a few days or a less than a couple hours, before a trial or conviction, for relatively minor crimes.
And the official explanations that they were suicides run counter to prevailing patterns of behavior as documented by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, which has found that, on the whole, men are more likely to commit suicide in local jails than women, young people are less likely to do so than older people, and black people are the least likely to do so than any other racial or ethnic group.
That doesn’t mean that these women didn’t commit suicide, but it does help to explain why their coinciding deaths might be hard for people to accept.
Indeed, because state violence echoes through the African-American experience in this country, it is even understandable if black people might occasionally experience a sort of Phantom Lynching Syndrome, having grown so accustomed to the reality of a history of ritualized barbarism that they would sense its presence even in its absence.
Eric T. Schneiderman: Ending the Crisis of Confidence in Our Criminal Justice System
When President Obama visited a federal prison in Oklahoma last week, he highlighted one of our nation’s most urgent moral issues — the inequitable and ineffective state of our criminal justice system.
In a system that disproportionately harms poor people and people of color, too many Americans have lost faith in the essential American principle of equal justice under law.
Last December, when I called for my office to be appointed as temporary special prosecutor in cases where unarmed civilians die during encounters with police in New York State, I did so in large part to help restore confidence in our justice system.
On July 8, Gov. Andrew Cuomo granted my office that power, an important step towards a renewed public confidence.
However, the crisis of confidence is rooted in far more than those rare, tragic cases in which a civilian dies during an encounter with the police.
Mark Klein: The dismantling of higher education
While researching a recent column for Al Jazeera America on the “killing of tenure” and what it means for the future of higher education, it became clear that the attempts by conservatives to dismantle the institution of tenure, highlighted by the Wisconsin legislature’s removal of previously statutory tenure protections, are only one component of a much wider array of threats to the profession of teaching and research.
For academics lucky enough to have tenure at an “R-1 research university” – one with “extensive” doctoral level graduate programs and support for faculty research as well as teaching – the erosion of traditional tenure protections is damaging because it threatens not only academic freedom but research and teaching that contribute hundreds of billions of dollars to U.S. GDP. The continued downtrend in funding for university research has paralleled and is tied to the erosion of tenure, academic freedom and shared governance more broadly. All these trends are tied to the corporatization of the university; that is, the increasingly privatized model of higher education which does away with shared governance and tenure in favor of centralized administration and contingent labor, puts profits and the bottom line ahead of the public good, and efficiency and “customer service” ahead of a well-rounded education that encourages critical inquiry and independent thought.