Dec 24 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”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

New York Times Editorial Board: The Republican Fear of Facts on Guns

The three rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination showed enough sense of responsibility in their debate on Saturday to freely discuss the nation’s epidemic of gun violence. Unfortunately, this was only half the debate voters deserve. The Republican candidates are callously ducking the issue. Among the recent casualties of such silence was a bill in Congress that would have lifted a ban on basic federal research into gun violence and its toll on public health.

For nearly two decades, Congress has banned needed research on gun violence by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Last week, Congress, doing the bidding of the gun industry, quietly killed a provision in the omnibus spending bill that would have reversed that ban.

In so doing, it left intact an anti-science smoke screen that has helped the industry and its lobbyists deny and dispute the facts of the gun violence that takes more than 30,000 lives a year.

E. J. Dionne, Jr.: If you preach religious peace and tolerance, then practice them

The narrative of Jesus’ birth in Luke’s Gospel has retained its power beyond the realm of believers because it renders one of the most peaceful moments in all of scripture: a gathering of angels and shepherds celebrating the “good news” and “great joy” of the birth of a baby “wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.”

Although my favorite Christmas song will always be “Go Tell It on the Mountain,” it is “Silent Night” that may be truest to the spirit of Luke’s account. There are no rumors of war, no clashing armies, only a bright and blessed calm.

This will not be the first or the last Christmas when the world mocks the day’s promise and when religion finds itself a source of violence, hatred and, among many not inclined toward either, a dangerous mutual incomprehension.

Bill Moyers: The Plutocrats Are Winning. Don’t Let Them!

In the fall of 2001, in the aftermath of 9/11, as families grieved and the nation mourned, Washington swarmed with locusts of the human kind: wartime opportunists, lobbyists, lawyers, ex-members of Congress, bagmen for big donors: all of them determined to grab what they could for their corporate clients and rich donors while no one was looking.

Across the land, the faces of Americans of every stripe were stained with tears. Here in New York, we still were attending memorial services for our firemen and police. But in the nation’s capital, within sight of a smoldering Pentagon that had been struck by one of the hijacked planes, the predator class was hard at work pursuing private plunder at public expense, gold-diggers in the ashes of tragedy exploiting our fear, sorrow, and loss.

Chelsea Manning: In prison, the holiday season is grim – but I won’t lose hope

Having a birthday around the holidays was never easy and, with every successive year, it felt more and more as if celebrating my birthday got thrown into the December holiday mix as an afterthought.

But now, Decembers are becoming the hardest month of the year to endure. [..]

I sometimes feel less than empty; I feel non-existent.

Still, I endure. I refuse to give up. I open the mail I receive – which spikes in December, as people send me birthday and then Christmas cards, but I get letters and well-wishing cards all year – and am happily reminded that I am real and that I do exist for people outside this prison.

And I celebrate, too, this time of year, in my own little way: I make phone calls to family, I write letters, I treat myself with the processed foods and desserts I all but gave up during my gender transition.

Lynn Stuart Parrymore: Is shrinking the middle class a good thing?

A recent report from Pew Research, “The American Middle Class Is Losing Ground,” isn’t exactly conducive to holiday cheer for most of us. Middle-income households, defined as those earning $42,000 to $126,000 a year, are capturing a smaller share of the American pie; the middle class, after enjoying a great run as the country’s majority economic group for four decades, appears to have sputtered. In terms of income share, this group is now matched in size by the economic tiers above and below it.

But to many laissez-faire conservatives, this news is far from gloomy. Writer-provocateur and Adam Smith Institute fellow Tim Worstall, writing at Forbes, complains (after warning that people often read statistics to justify their political biases) that the report will send folks “bleating away about the death of the American middle class” and collapsing into “shrieks of egalitarian horror” when we should be cheering. He argues that the “bleaters” have got it wrong. The real story is not that the middle class is shrinking but that the upper middle class is expanding and, most important, the ranks of the poor are decreasing.

In Worstall’s mind, the poor appear to be “movin’ on up,” just like George Jefferson of sitcom fame, catapulting into higher echelons to join the rich. Hooray for unbridled capitalism! How could everyone have gotten the story wrong?

Ali Garib:: The British Muslim family’s refused entry reveals America’s hypocrisy

The Mahmood family’s ordeal at Gatwick airport in London, where the Disneyland-bound group of 11 UK citizens was pulled out of the boarding line by American officials and had their tickets cancelled, speaks to more than just the apparent institutional prejudices of the American government’s security measures.

Also laid bare are the paradoxes of the fight over Islamophobia here at home. How can we ask Muslim communities the world over – including in the US – to forcefully reject the extremists among them and, more onerously, reveal themselves as the peace-loving people they are when at the same time we fail to treat them this way at our borders?