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Dec 11 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: Gunmakers’ War Profiteering on the Home Front

As each new mass shooting leaves dead and wounded Americans strewn like casualties on a battlefield — a butcher’s toll that has now intersected with the international terrorist threat — the gun industry’s culpability amounts to war profiteering through the reckless sale of military weapons tailored for the civilian homefront. [..]

Across recent decades, gun manufacturers, facing a decline in general gun ownership as demographics shifted and sports hunting faded, have cynically created a domestic market for barely altered rifles and pistols developed for the military. These are weapons designed for the rapid spray-shooting of multiple enemy soldiers in wartime, not homeland civilians living in peace.

Yet the latest casualty count of 14 killed and 21 wounded last week in the gun carnage at San Bernardino, Calif., is another horrendous confirmation of how these easily available weapons — marketed as macho tools for a kind of paramilitary self-defense — are being used again and again for rapid-fire attacks on innocent people. The fact that the California killers were self-proclaimed Islamic warriors makes the ease with which their arsenal was assembled all the more outrageous.

Paul Krugman: Empowering the Ugliness

We live in an era of political news that is, all too often, shocking but not surprising. The rise of Donald Trump definitely falls into that category. And so does the electoral earthquake that struck France in Sunday’s regional elections, with the right-wing National Front winning more votes than either of the major mainstream parties.

What do these events have in common? Both involved political figures tapping into the resentments of a bloc of xenophobic and/or racist voters who have been there all along. The good news is that such voters are a minority; the bad news is that it’s a pretty big minority, on both sides of the Atlantic. If you are wondering where the support for Mr. Trump or Marine Le Pen, the head of the National Front, is coming from, you just haven’t been paying attention. [..]

Let me start with what is happening in Europe, both because it’s probably less familiar to American readers and because it is, in a way, a simpler story than what is happening here.

Steven W. Thrasher: Conservatives should blame capitalism for the ‘war on Christmas’

The “war on Christmas” has become an annual yuletide fiction as reliable as tales of the Grinch, the nutcracker or even of Santa Claus himself. Fox News and its ilk complain about this alleged attack on Christianity each year. Make no mistake, though. There definitely is a war on Christmas, but it is not homosexual leftists like myself who are waging it: it is capitalism.

As my brother James and I often discuss every holiday season, Christians stole an ancient winter pagan holiday and rebranded it as Jesus’s birthday. Similarly, hyper-consumerist, labor-destroying, income-inequality-creating and ecologically destructive capitalism has now stolen Christmas from the church.

It is the rightwing which has cast baby Jesus from American Christmas, like a would-be Syrian refugee orphan. Jesus ain’t the reason for the season because of liberals as such, but because of market forces in late-stage capitalism, which are gleefully celebrated by Republicans, no matter how alienating to souls.

Eugene Robinson: Donald Trump ushers in a new era of pitchfork populism

Donald Trump became the driving force in U.S. politics by giving voice to anger, fear and resentment that were already there, just below the surface, waiting for their moment and messenger.

At present, Trump’s target is any believer in Islam who seeks to enter the United States. Back in June, he launched his campaign with invective toward any Latino immigrant living in this country without documents. He attacks President Obama less for his policies than for his identity — not for what the president does but for who he is. Trump has made himself the champion of a fading, embattled “us” in a life-or-death struggle against a swarming, threatening “them.”

The blustery billionaire’s “us” is nowhere near a majority of the U.S. electorate, but it might be enough to win him the Republican nomination for president. And even if he falls short, the forces he has loosed will not easily be tamped down.

Robert Creamer: Warning: CEO Class’ Next Big Attack on the Incomes of Ordinary Americans

If you’re like most ordinary Americans, you’re not thrilled that ever since George W. Bush came into office 15 years ago your income has flat lined.

It probably doesn’t make much sense to you that CEO pay and Wall Street bonuses have exploded while most Americans can’t keep up with the rising cost of living.

Bush came into office with a mandate from the CEO class to change the rules of the economic game, and ever since ordinary people have paid the price while Wall Street banks, big corporations, CEOs and billionaires have wallowed in their increasing wealth.

Well if you didn’t like the way the CEO class used their huge political donations and fleet of lobbyists to manipulate the economic rules last time, wait until you see what they’ve cooked up now.

An outfit called the “Center for Individual Rights” — which is a front group for the notorious Koch Brothers financial network and other mega-wealthy right wing CEOs — has filed a lawsuit asking the U.S. Supreme Court to substantially weaken the ability of working people to negotiate together for better wages and working conditions.

Amy B. Dean: Can anti-testing bloc swing the 2016 election?

Public school teachers and other opponents of high-stakes testing won a significant, if partial, victory when Congress agreed to revise the No Child Left Behind act on Wednesday. The new law greatly reduces federal penalties on schools that don’t raise standardized test scores quickly enough, even though it leaves many of those tests in place. Most important for teachers, it stops their evaluations from being tied to student test scores. The test-and-punish regime that disappoints and discourages many teachers could soon be a thing of the past. [..]

The new law, while a welcome change, has not ended the fight against overtesting; it has merely moved the contest back to the states, which will now determine their own policies around testing. As the campaign season continues apace, there is reason for candidates to use their bully pulpits to ride the surge of local discontent over the state of public education in their communities. But it remains to be seen which of the 2016 presidential contenders will decide to champion the effort and tap its momentum.