Oct 10 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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Gail Collins: House Speaker Chaos Crisis Inferno

The Republican majority in the House of Representatives can’t pick a new speaker. It’s hell! Double-disaster! If things don’t get resolved the whole party could fragment, possibly creating an opportunity for the long-awaited resurrection of the Whigs. [..]

Personally, I hope that if we have to have a new leader from the Freedom Caucus, it’s Representative Raúl Labrador of Idaho. Just because … Speaker Labrador.

But there are other options – like Newt Gingrich! It turns out you don’t have to actually be in Congress to be elected speaker of the House. And Newt said in a radio interview that if the Republicans came and begged for his leadership, it would be like “when George Washington came out of retirement, because there are moments you can’t avoid.”

Coming soon: Gingrich Crossing the Delaware.

The speaker of the House can be anybody. The Republicans could just pick a popular celebrity. Think how much more pleasant it would be hearing that the government had just shut down if Tom Hanks was the one breaking the news.

Ari Berman:  Jeb Bush Is Completely Wrong About the Voting Rights Act

At an event in Iowa today, Jeb Bush was asked whether he believed the Voting Rights Act (VRA) should be reauthorized by the Congress following the gutting of one of its most important provisions by the Supreme Court in 2013.

Bush responded: “If it’s to reauthorize it to continue to provide regulations on top of states as though we’re living in 1960, because those were basically when many of those rules were put in place, I don’t believe we should do that. There’s been dramatic improvement in access to voting, exponentially better improvement, and I don’t think there’s a role for the federal government to play in most places.”

Bush is wrong on multiple counts. [..]

 In 2006, Jeb’s brother, George W. Bush, signed the 2006 reauthorization of the VRA, which passed the Congress by a vote of 390-33 in the House and 98-0 in the Senate. President Bush recently traveled to Selma with President Obama to observe the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday in Selma. It’s a shame Jeb didn’t make the trip-he might have learned something.

It’s sad, but not surprising, that the same guy who said African-Americans just wanted “free stuff” from the government is now claiming that the VRA, the country’s most important civil-rights law, is no longer necessary.

Robert Reich: Hillary, Bernie and the Banks

Giant Wall Street banks continue to threaten the wellbeing of millions of Americans, but what to do?

Bernie Sanders says break them up and resurrect the Glass-Steagall Act that once separated investment from commercial banking.

Hillary Clinton says charge them a bit more and oversee them more carefully.

Most Republicans say don’t worry.

Clearly, there’s reason to worry. Back in 2000, before they almost ruined the economy and had to be bailed out, the five biggest banks on Wall Street held 25 percent of the nation’s banking assets. Now they hold more than 45 percent.

Their huge size fuels further growth because they’ll be bailed out if they get into trouble again.

This hidden federal guarantee against failure is estimated be worth over $80 billion a year to the big banks. In effect, it’s a subsidy from the rest of us to the bankers.

And they’ll almost certainly get into trouble again if nothing dramatic is done to stop them. Consider their behavior since they were bailed out.

Eugene Robinson: Chaos Is the GOP’s New Normal

At this point, I worry we’re going to start finding members of the Republican establishment curled up in their beds, eyes clenched shut and ears covered with trembling hands, moaning “make it stop, make it stop, make it stop.”

Pity their suffering, but remember that they brought it on themselves.

The insurrection that propelled billionaire Donald Trump into the lead for the GOP nomination and ultimately made House Speaker John Boehner surrender his gavel in frustration rages on unabated. This was no mere summer skirmish. If anything, the rebellion is gaining strength. [..]

n the Democratic Party, the conflict is ideological-left vs. center-left. In the GOP, the struggle looks existential.

Put another way, it’s not hard to imagine a party in which there’s room for both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, and you can easily imagine one supporting the other as standard-bearer. But a tent that can hold, say, both Trump’s view on undocumented immigrants-hunt them down and kick them out-and Bush’s support for compassionate reform? That’s not a political party, it’s a food fight.

The Republican establishment may ultimately find some way to drag one of its presidential candidates through the primaries. But chaos, Trump has shown, is the GOP’s new normal.

Joan Walsh: Boehner and McCarthy Reap What They Sowed

The chaotic House GOP leadership battle-if it can be called a battle, when virtually no one wants to be leader-is normally blamed on fractious right-wing extremists in the so-called “Freedom Caucus.” But when House Speaker John Boehner and his would-have-been successor Kevin McCarthy wonder who’s to blame for their troubles, they should start by looking in the mirror.

Since Boehner came to power in 2011, his leadership team has encouraged the far right in its crusade against government, governing, and compromise. They’ve fostered the extremists’ delusions that they can do things they simply can’t, with a Democrat in the White House-repeal Obamacare, defund Planned Parenthood, hold the debt ceiling hostage to force huge budget cuts.

Boehner and McCarthy (and before him Eric Cantor, who was defeated by a far-right primary challenger last year) can do the math: time and again they turned to Democrats to pass measures to keep the government open and avoid disaster, but only after they tried and failed to mollify the far right. This only encouraged the “Freedom Caucus” members in their delusions of power-and enraged them that they were being kept from wielding it.

Michelle Chen: Is DC About to Pass the Best Sick Leave in the Country?

For most Americans, a sick day is a workday. If you want to get paid, you don’t stay home. Not even when you or your child are ill, not even if you just gave birth.

Most private sector workers in the US have no paid medical leave benefits; just 12 percent have employer-sponsored paid family leave. Most low-wage workers risk income or losing their job if they take a single sick day. But in the nation’s capital, workers might soon be able to take four months for medical care. A new proposal in the DC city council would offer 16 weeks of paid medical leave-the strongest such policy in the country, according to Council Members David Grosso and Elissa Silverman, who introduced the bill this week.