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Dec 03 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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New York Times Editorial Board: The G.O.P.’s Worst Budget Riders

The short-term spending bill that is financing federal government operations will expire on Dec. 11, and unless Congress and President Obama agree on another extension or a final bill, there will be a shutdown.

In September, far-right Republicans in the Freedom Caucus were willing to shut down the government rather than allow federal spending on Planned Parenthood. That was averted only when the House speaker, John Boehner, announced he would resign, thus escaping pressure from that caucus. His successor, Paul Ryan, will now have to decide whether he wants to avoid a year-end shutdown fight or give in to right-wing demands.

Meanwhile, hundreds of potential “riders” are on the table. These are provisions that could be attached to a final bill that would do great harm to important policies and have nothing to do with spending. Many, like the attempt to defund Planned Parenthood, are ideologically driven. Many serve narrow interests (usually those of specific campaign donors). The House Agriculture Committee, for example, supports a rider that would exempt existing electronic cigarettes, including those with flavored liquid nicotine, from regulation by the Food and Drug Administration. It also wants to prevent the F.D.A. from improving generic-drug safety labeling.

Trevor Timm: More troops in Iraq will sow the exact same chaos as America’s Libya folly

It’s the ultimate rule in US national politics: there shall be no legitimate questioning of starting yet another war, even if all of the recent ones are the exact reason we are in our current situation with Isis. All signs increasingly point to the fact that the US is will be dragged into another ground war in the Middle East despite the administration’s insistence that it does not want to get caught up in one.

The Pentagon announced Tuesday a new “expeditionary force” (a propaganda term to avoid saying “ground troops”) that will apparently operate apart from any Iraqi or Syrian rebel allied fighters and be able to conduct cross-border raids in either country.

It’s worth harkening back to the last military intervention – one that has now completely backfired – to question if more US soldiers on the ground in multiple countries will only exacerbate the problem, rather than be part of the solution. No, not the Iraq invasion, even though that it obviously caused destruction on a massive scale and precipitated the rise of Isis. I’m talking about Libya in 2011.

Nicholas Kristof: On Guns, We’re Not Even Trying

So far this year, the United States has averaged more than one mass shooting a day, according to the ShootingTracker website, counting cases of four or more people shot. And now we have the attack on Wednesday in San Bernardino, Calif., that killed at least 14 people.

It’s too soon to know exactly what happened in San Bernardino, but just in the last four years, more people have died in the United States from guns (including suicides and accidents) than Americans have died in the wars in Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq combined. When one person dies in America every 16 minutes from a gun, we urgently need to talk about remedies.

Democrats, including President Obama, emphasize the need to address America’s problems with guns. Republicans talk about the need to address mental health. Both are right.

Jeb Lund: We should not rationalize the tragedy of San Bernardino but we will. Again

There is a certain pattern to mass shootings in the United States at this point, and Wednesday’s shooting in San Bernardino is the 355th of 2015. That pattern starts with death, and continues through another round of rationalizations – he was mentally ill, he had a grudge, it had to do with anything but the ease of access to death’s easy instruments – that will render the tragedy less than notable within minutes for some people, for a political party within hours, and for most of the rest of us as soon as we are forced to contend with the next one.

We could explain why such violent acts don’t affect our individual actions or our national policy by using math or social sciences – or even Douglas Adams’s theory of Somebody Else’s Problem from Life, the Universe and Everything – but it might be more honest to chalk it up to the particular narcissism by which we define who is or can be a victim.

Mariame kaba: The Chicago police chief might be gone – but the fight against brutality continues

There was dancing in front of Chicago police headquarters at 35th street and Michigan Avenue on Tuesday evening.

People were celebrating, in part, because Chicago police superintendent Garry McCarthy was fired earlier that day. Mayor Rahm Emanuel – who had spent days expressing confidence in his police chief – stood in a hot briefing room in front of the press corps and announced that McCarthy had become “a distraction”. Emanuel looked like a man undergoing a root canal without anesthesia.

After days of mass protests – including a shutdown of Michigan Avenue on Black Friday that cost retailers up to 50% of their sales – the mayor had apparently decided to cut his losses and throw McCarthy overboard to save himself. [..]

There was dancing in front of 35th and Michigan on Tuesday evening. But by Wednesday morning, everyone was back to organizing against police violence in Chicago, because it was never directed by one man alone, and cannot be eliminated by whatever man replaces him.