“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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Congressional Republicans are again playing brinkmanship with the budget – some are even threatening to shut down the government – in order to score ideological and political points. On Tuesday, the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, introduced a bill to keep the government running for a few months past the end of this fiscal year on Sept. 30 – as long as Democrats agree to cut off money for Planned Parenthood. [..]
Abortions are a small part of Planned Parenthood’s services and tissue donation a very small part. No federal money is spent on abortions at Planned Parenthood; most of its services are for contraception, health screenings, pregnancy tests and prenatal care for low-income women.
The Republican obsession with the group seems to come to this: denying women, especially poor women, the health care they need; pandering for primary votes among Tea Party regulars; and obstructing the budget process and the smooth functioning of government. Quite a record.
As the refugee crisis across Europe continues and Syrian civil war drags on, it seems the only “solution” western politicians can muster for the conflict is to send more weapons for various fighters, drop more bombs from the sky and argue for a more entrenched war – actions that will all but guarantee to further descend the region into chaos. [..]
Sadly, the calls for a US military escalation will only get louder, as various Republican war mongers hog the stage during the high-profile Republican campaign. And the leading candidate for the Democratic nomination, Hillary Clinton, is as hawkish, or more so, than Republicans. Gen. John Allen, the man in charge of the still-undeclared Isis war, supposedly someone who would “push back” against the more uber-militaristic elements in the Obama administration is stepping aside. Who his replacement will be is not known, but you can guess the drumbeat for someone who is even more “aggressive” will get louder by the day.
What is happening in Syria is an absolute tragedy, and one can only hope that the western powers will welcome refugees with open arms, and that a potential negotiated settlement is still somehow possible to at least stop the carnage on one side of the war. But while there are proposals everywhere for more war, no one has explained how adding more military destruction to the equation would actually help.
The Obama administration prosecutes fraud by peanut CEO, but not by car or finance executives
Barely a week after the Justice Department announced it would pursue individual wrongdoers in corporate crimes, a policy mocked as just reheated cabbage in the headline of my last column, Justice served up some reheated cabbage.
Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates declared that the policy was real reform: “We mean it when we say, ‘You have got to cough up the individuals.’ ”
The next week Justice settled with General Motors over faulty ignition switches that killed more than 120 people who lost control of their vehicles, the airbags failing to deploy. GM will pay $900 million, recall 2.6 million cars and offer some money to survivors and families of the dead, most of which were unable to collect damages because of GM’s 2009 bankruptcy.
Before the first car with a faulty ignition switch was sold more than decade ago, GM knew that the ignition switches were prone to fail, court papers show.
Yet despite knowing there would be deadly consequences, GM neither changed the design nor warned motorists, a callous disregard for the lives not just of customers but also of everyone else on the road.
Were there individuals named in the GM settlement with Justice? No. Were criminal charges filed for this deadly and long-running conspiracy? No.
Steven W. Thrasher: Disaster capitalism is a permanent state of life for too many Americans
In the United States, disaster has become our most common mode of life. Proof that our daily existence was something other than a simmering, smoldering disaster has been historically held somewhat at bay by the myth that hard work equals some kind of subsistence living. For the more deluded amongst us, this ‘American dream’ even got us to believe we could be something called ‘middle class’. We were deceived.
For those not yet woke, I don’t see how y’all can stay asleep when story after story proves how screwed we are.
The New York Post, no bastion of bleeding heart liberalism, reported on Monday that “Hundreds of full-time city workers are homeless”. These are people who clean our trash and make our city, the heart of American capitalism, safe and livable, including for those who plunder the globe from Wall Street. These are men and women, living in shelters and out of their cars, who have government jobs – the kind of workers conservatives love to paint as greedy, gluttonous pigs.
Sen Bernie Sanders: We Must End For-Profit Prisons
The United States is experiencing a major human tragedy. We have more people in jail than any other country on earth, including Communist China, an authoritarian country four times our size. The U.S. has less than five percent of the world’s population, yet we incarcerate about a quarter of its prisoners — some 2.2 million people.
There are many ways that we must go forward to address this tragedy. One of them is to end the existence of the private for-profit prison industry which now makes millions from the incarceration of Americans. These private prisons interfere with the administration of justice. And they’re driving inmate populations skyward by corrupting the political process.
No one, in my view, should be allowed to profit from putting more people behind bars — whether they’re inmates in jail or immigrants held in detention centers. In fact, I believe that private prisons shouldn’t be allowed to exist at all, which is why I’ve introduced legislation to eliminate them.
Jeffrey Sachs: Rational Drug Pricing
Drug pricing has taken center stage in U.S. politics, and it’s high time that it should. The soaring prices for drugs like Sovaldi ($1,000 a pill) and the recent hike of Deraprim from $13.50 to $750 a pill after the supplier was bought by a shady hedge-fund manager, have caused white-hot fury in the public. Corporate lobbyists and their friends in the media spout free-market platitudes about why the sky-high prices are necessary to promote innovation. It’s time for a serious understanding of the policy issues.
Drug pricing is not like the pricing of apples and oranges, clothing, or furniture that well and good should be left to the marketplace. There are two major reasons. First, the main cost of drug production is not the cost of manufacturing the tablet but the cost of producing the knowledge embedded in the tablet. Second, there is often a life-and-death stake in access to the drug, so society should take steps to ensure that the drug is affordable and accessible. [..]
Second, the government grants patent rights for drug discovery. A patent gives a 20-year exclusive right to make, use, or sell an invention, effectively a 20-year monopoly. This allows companies to boost their prices, earn monopoly profits, and thereby recoup the costs of the R&D that went into the drug discovery.