PND Commentary

Capital punishment: Can we cut it out already?

December 22, 2016
posted by

Thomas L Knapp -- photo by Avens O'Brien William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism
by Thomas L Knapp  

"I'm not saying that there aren't crimes worthy of death. In fact, I heartily support the killing of violent criminals in defense of self or others at the scene of the crime. But once a criminal has been apprehended, disarmed and caged, killing him or her isn't self-defense any more. Execution is just the gratuitous, vengeful taking of a human life for public show. And no matter how much lipstick the practice's supporters put on the pig to try and turn it into something else, that's all it will ever be. Capital punishment is also completely incompatible with the notions of 'limited government' that most libertarians and some conservatives claim to support, not to mention the basic civil liberties that both libertarians and liberals publicly sustain." (12/21/16)

http://thegarrisoncenter.org/archives/8824  

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Hollywood does Orwell

December 22, 2016
posted by

Debra J. Saunders Town Hall
by Debra J Saunders  

"When you see videos of Hollywood celebrities -- like the latest with Martin Sheen, Debra Messing and Bob Odenkirk -- earnestly telling Americans how to live up to their brand of liberal politics by rejecting the GOP, the first question you have to ask yourself is: Why? I still ask myself that after watching the latest pitch under the Orwellian hashtags #UniteForAmerica (the ad hoc group's disingenuous name) and #SupportTheElectors. A montage of stars sotto voce urges 'Republican members of the Electoral College' to vote their conscience -- that is, against their own fellow citizens' considered election choice." (12/18/16)

http://townhall.com/columnists/debrajsaunders/2016/12/18/hollywood-does-orwell-n2261066  

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Religious liberty under fire in Culpepper

December 22, 2016
posted by

A. Barton Hinkle Reason
by A Barton Hinkle  

"Spend any time surfing conservative websites and you cannot help being impressed by the degree to which they seem to care about religious liberty. One day they are defending nuns from birth control mandates; another, they are sticking up for businesses that don't want to endorse gay pride or gay marriage. So you would think they would be outraged that Culpeper, Va., has denied a permit that would let a small group of the faithful build a house of worship. On that score, unfortunately, you would be wrong. Conservative organs such as National Review, The Daily Caller and The Daily Signal have published scads of commentaries about Hobby Lobby, the Little Sisters of the Poor, wedding-cake makers and so on. But they have not said word one about the Islamic Center of Culpeper (ICC)." (12/21/16)

http://reason.com/archives/2016/12/21/religious-liberty-under-fire-in-culpeppe  

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Public infrastructure as stealth privatization

December 22, 2016
posted by

The American Prospect The American Prospect
by Donald Cohen  

"Donald Trump hasn’t released an infrastructure plan but has given a good sense of the direction his administration will take. His proposal will likely use giant tax breaks to spur a massive increase in private control of public infrastructure in what David Dayen called a 'privatization fire sale.' Trump will be able to say the plan will both mean no new taxes and guaranteed profits for investors for decades. It’s too good to be true. There’s no doubt America needs a massive infrastructure upgrade. The American Society of Civil Engineers estimates nearly $4 trillion in needs including decades of deferred maintenance of our drinking and waste water systems, our roads and bridges and more, as well as new infrastructure such as light rail and broadband communications needed respond to 21st century challenges and opportunities." [editor's note: Were it actual privatization and not crony-corp cartelism, this would not be a bad thing - SAT] (12/21/16)

http://prospect.org/article/public-infrastructure-stealth-privatization  

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Will Guantanamo Bay’s prison ever close?

December 22, 2016
posted by

The Atlantic The Atlantic
by Priscilla Alvarez  

"In his final State of the Union address this year, President Obama repeated his call to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. 'I will keep working to shut down the prison at Guantanamo. It is expensive, it is unnecessary, and it only serves as a recruitment brochure for our enemies,' he said. But as Obama's presidency comes to its end, he has fallen short of that goal. ... Obama has repeatedly pushed plans to close the prison, without much success. This year, he sent a plan to Congress outlining where the remaining detainees could be transferred. He argued that keeping the prison in operation 'is contrary to our values.' Congressional Republicans quickly denounced the effort." (12/21/16)

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/12/obama-guantanamo-bay/511349/  

1 Comment »

The growing movement for marijuana amnesty

December 22, 2016
posted by

The New Republic The New Republic
by Megan Carpentier  

"With an estimated $7 billion in sales in 2016 and potentially exponential growth due to recent ballot initiatives on recreational use, the legal marijuana industry has a lot of businesses seeing green. But as is so often the case in this country, there’s a darker side to this story and it splinters on the lines of race. For decades, the war on drugs has disproportionately targeted black and brown users for arrest and incarceration, and legalization efforts have until recently not addressed what happens to people who have been put in prison for possessing a substance that voters have since opted to make legal. The American Civil Liberties Union found in a 2013 report that, between 2001 and 2010, 88 percent of marijuana arrests were for possession, as opposed to intent to distribute. These arrests accounted for 46 percent of all drug arrests in the United States at that time. And though studies suggest that African-Americans and whites use marijuana at similar rates, African-Americans were nearly four times more likely to be arrested for a marijuana crime." (12/21/16)

https://newrepublic.com/article/139443/growing-movement-marijuana-amnesty  

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Yes, 2016 was bad, but next year could be worse

December 21, 2016
posted by

Reuters
by Peter Apps  

"The killing of Russia’s ambassador to Turkey on Monday evening might have prompted knee-jerk comparisons to the 1914 assassination of Archduke Francis Ferdinand, but it almost certainly won’t spark a World War One-type conflict. The lethal truck attack that killed 12 in Berlin a few hours later, however, could ratchet up the prospect of yet another political shock in Europe. 2016 looks set to keep throwing out unexpected, often brutal surprises right to its end. If 1989 (the year the Berlin wall fell) was the point at which globalization, liberal democracy and the Western view of modernity was seen to triumph, the year now concluding might yet be seen as when the wheels came off. That may be a dramatic overstatement. However, the electoral surprises of the Brexit vote and the election of Donald Trump (as well as dozens of other examples across the globe) are stark reminders of just how much consensus has unraveled. The next year could see a step back towards moderation. But it could equally see things spiral further out of control." (12/21/16)

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-apps-2016-commentary-idUSKBN14A1K0  

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Don’t make Facebook the Ministry of Truth

December 21, 2016
posted by

spiked spiked
by Naomi Firsht  

"The assumption underpinning the fake-news panic is that ordinary people are too stupid to work out what is real and what is not. The suggestion that the millions of Americans who voted for Trump did so as a result of being duped by fake-news stories is ridiculous and insulting. Moreover, the idea that Facebook, inventor of the cyber poke, will now be the gatekeeper of all that is true, guiding their poor, low-information users through the internet's maze of lies, is risible. The internet has created a free flow of information that allows ordinary people to access, quickly and easily, multiple news sources. Imposing limits to this freedom would be a step backwards. Zuckerberg should have stuck to his guns the first time round. We do not need a ministry of truth." (12/21/16)

http://www.spiked-online.com/newsite/article/dont-make-facebook-the-ministry-of-truth-fake-news/  

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Title IX: “Bureaucratic sex creep” gone wild

December 21, 2016
posted by

USA Today USA Today
by Glenn Harlan Reynolds  

"If you want to see how the federal bureaucracy can mess things up, and create huge new areas of overburdening regulation, just look at what it has done with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. Title IX simply reads: 'No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.' That’s all. But from this small, simple statement (there shall be no discrimination on the basis of sex) has been created a regulatory Tower of Babel governing sports teams, student discipline and even, and most dubiously, sexual consent." (12/20/16)

http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2016/12/19/title-ix-federal-bureacracy-campuses-glenn-reynolds-column/95585446  

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Waging class war in comfort

December 21, 2016
posted by

Sam Pizzigati Our Future
by Sam Pizzigati  

"In a typical corporate board of directors meeting, what do CEOs see when they look out across their richly lacquered boardroom tables? They see . . . lots of other CEOs. That’s no accident. CEOs today purposely pack their corporate boards with their pals, who often turn out to be current or former chiefs at other corporations. Everybody who’s anybody just feels more comfortable that way. The most powerful corporate executive in 1950s America, GM's Charlie Wilson, served as defense secretary and paid three-quarters of his income in taxes. The most powerful corporate executive in 1950s America, GM’s Charlie Wilson, served as U.S. secretary of defense -- and paid three-quarters of his income in taxes. President-elect Donald Trump, a big-time business chief himself, certainly seems to want to feel comfortable, too. No other President-elect has ever packed his cabinet with more business bigwigs." [editor's note: Although there are also a lot of Congressthugs in that list, at least some of the corporati chosen might be seen as tough overseers of their departments, who know how to make things run effectively, cut costs ... Just sayin' - SAT] (12/19/16)

https://ourfuture.org/20161219/waging-class-war-in-comfort  

1 Comment »

Progressives: Stop blaming the Russians

December 21, 2016
posted by

CounterPunch CounterPunch
by Norman Solomon  

"Zeal to blame Russia for a bad election outcome has spread like contagion among countless self-described progressives, understandably appalled by the imminent Trump presidency. But those who think they're riding a helpful tiger could find themselves devoured later on. If civil liberties instead of repression and diplomacy instead of war are progressive values, then all too many progressives -- eager to tar Trump as a Kremlin product -- have been undermining those values. Already, from witch-hunt legislation in Congress to pernicious media blacklisting, the anti-Russia hysteria -- being fueled by the high octane election-intervention storyline -- has gained enormous momentum." (12/21/16)

http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/12/21/progressives-stop-blaming-the-russians/  

1 Comment »

A public service

December 21, 2016
posted by

Creators Syndicate
by Dr. Thomas Sowell  

"Sometimes someone inadvertently performs a public service by bringing an unbelievably stupid and dangerous idea to the surface, where it can be exposed for what it is. The New York Times can be credited -- if that is the word -- with performing this public service in a recent editorial against proposals to allow law-abiding citizens to carry concealed guns. They refer to what they call the National Rifle Association's 'fantasy that citizens can stand up to gunmen by shooting it out.' Nobody has suggested any such thing. Data collected over many years -- but almost never seeing the light of day in the New York Times or the rest of the mainstream media -- show many thousands of examples of people defending themselves with a gun each year, without having to pull the trigger." (12/20/16)

https://www.creators.com/read/thomas-sowell/12/16/a-public-service  

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Trump’s cabinet is a coup waiting to happen

December 21, 2016
posted by

The Nation The Nation
by William J Astore  

"A republic -- or should I say, former republic? -- founded on civilian control of the military needs true civilians as a counterweight to militarism as well as military adventurism. Recently retired generals are anything but that; they're not even speed bumps on the road to the next set of misbegotten military 'adventures.' They are likely to be only one thing: enablers of and accelerants to military action. Their presence in the highest civilian positions represents nothing short of a de facto military coup in Washington, a coup that required no violence since the president-elect simply anointed and exalted them as America's security saviors. But here's a question for you: If these men and their three- and four-star colleagues couldn't win decisive military victories while in uniform, what makes Trump and the Washington establishment think they’ll do any better while wearing mufti?" (12/20/16)

https://www.thenation.com/article/trumps-cabinet-is-a-coup-waiting-to-happen/  

1 Comment »

Eyes wide shut: Flying blind in an age of atrocity

December 21, 2016
posted by

Empire Burlesque
by Chris Floyd  

"The end result of every Islamist terrorist attack is: 1. Heightened authoritarian powers for governments. 2. Demonization of law-abiding Muslims. 3. More money for war-profiteers, since more war is always the ultimate response. None of these outcomes advance the attackers' cause in any way save one: more repression, demonization and war can lead to more 'radicalisation' of the people being repressed, demonized and bombed. Thus the responses, which are always the same, always reward the perpetrators of these atrocities by giving them the only thing they can get from the attacks: recruitment tools." (12/20/16)

http://www.chris-floyd.com/home/articles/eyes-wide-shut-flying-blind-in-an-age-of-atrocity-20122016.html  

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How to talk to your family about the police state this Christmas

December 20, 2016
posted by

Cop Block Cop Block
by Joshua Scott Hotchkin  

"Christmas is a time for families, feasts, gifts and drawn out arguments about politics and religion with people who you love. If it has come up often in the news the past year, it will probably come up at family Christmas get-togethers, for better or worse. And so this year it is entirely likely that the subject of policing in America will be one of those topics. Try to remain calm, listen attentively and then respond with irrefutable arguments. Below are some things your family are likely to say and believe about police, followed by facts and ideas to inform your responses to them." (12/20/16)

http://www.copblock.org/169361/how-talk-family-about-police-christmas/  

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The wrong kind of bet with the wrong kind of money

December 20, 2016
posted by

Show-Me Institute Show-Me Institute
by Graham Renz  

"A group of local businesspeople (SC STL) is trying to lure a Major League Soccer (MLS) team to the Gateway City. The only catch is that SC STL is asking Saint Louis taxpayers to cough up an extra $80 million in new taxes to support the venture. In addition, as the Business Journal reports, SC STL is also asking for $40 million from the state of Missouri. Altogether, SC STL hopes taxpayers will pick up $129 million of their projected $405 million in costs. ... The state just cut $50 million (including $40 million from Medicaid) from its budget due to shortfalls. So how can it afford to chip in $40 million for a sports stadium? And what could justify placing a new burden on taxpayers for a project that Governor-elect Eric Greitens recently described as 'nothing more than welfare for billionaires?'" (12/20/16)

http://showmeinstitute.org/blog/subsidies/wrong-kind-bet-wrong-kind-money  

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At Angola prison, getting sick can be a death sentence

December 20, 2016
posted by

In These Times In These Times
by Katie Rose Quandt and James Ridgeway  

"A 6-month investigation into Louisiana's Angola prison, the largest maximum-security state prison in the country, reveals substandard and inhumane healthcare -- leading to extremely high death rates for prisoners. Does this amount to unconstitutional 'cruel and unusual punishment?'" (12/20/16)

http://inthesetimes.com/features/angola-prison-healthcare-abuse-investigation.html  

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Amnesia at the UN: The massacres Samantha Power conveniently forgot to mention

December 20, 2016
posted by

CounterPunch CounterPunch
by Robert Fisk  

"So there was Samantha Power doing her 'shame' bit in the UN. 'Is there no act of barbarism against civilians, no execution of a child that gets under your skin, that just creeps you out a little bit?' America's ambassador to the UN asked the Russians and Syrians and Iranians. She spoke of Halabja, Rwanda, Srebrenica 'and, now, Aleppo.' Odd, that. For when Samantha talked about 'barbarism against civilians' in Aleppo, I remembered climbing over the dead Palestinian civilians massacred at the Sabra and Chatila refugee camps in Beirut in 1982, slaughtered by Israel's Lebanese militia friends while the Israeli army -- Washington’s most powerful ally in the Middle East -- watched. ... And then I recalled the monstrous American invasion of Iraq. Perhaps half a million dead." (12/20/16)

http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/12/20/amnesia-at-the-un-the-massacres-samantha-power-conveniently-forgot-to-mention/  

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How Trump used the incredible power of rejection to win the White House

December 20, 2016
posted by

Fox News Forum
by Jia Jiang  

"In the weeks since Donald Trump stunned the world and won the 2016 presidential election, many people have weighed in with analysis and offered their explanation of the Trump miracle from political, economic and business angles. However, there was one aspect that led to Trump's victory that almost no one has talked about -- his mastery of rejection. I am not a Trump supporter, to say the least. And I don't agree with most of his policies and rhetoric. That being said, as an entrepreneur and researcher on the subject of fear and rejection, I see all people through the lens of their relationship with rejection. As a result, I found Trump's candidacy fascinating." (12/19/16)

http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2016/12/19/how-trump-used-incredible-power-rejection-to-win-white-house.html  

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Interregnum

December 20, 2016
posted by

The American Prospect The American Prospect
by Arthur Goldhammer  

"American interregnums are often peculiar times, but none has ever been more peculiar than this one. As autumn subsides into winter, much of the country lies in the grip of a paralyzing chill. Democracy is under threat as never before. Each day brings a fresh report of a high-level nomination by the president-elect, and each new nomination strengthens the impression that Mr. Trump is determined to create a kakistocracy, a government of the worst." (12/19/16)

http://prospect.org/article/interregnum  

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Declassified: The military’s border-busting operations in Africa

December 19, 2016
posted by

The Nation The Nation
by Nick Turse  

"How US military engagement will proceed under the Trump administration remains to be seen. The president-elect has said or tweeted little about Africa in recent years (aside from long trading in baseless claims that the current president was born there). Given his choice for national security adviser, Michael Flynn -- a former director of intelligence for Joint Special Operations Command who believes that the United States is in a 'world war' with Islamic militants -- there is good reason to believe that Special Operations Command Africa will continue its border-busting missions across that continent. That, in turn, means that Africa is likely to remain crucial to America’s nameless global war on terror." (12/19/16)

https://www.thenation.com/article/declassified-the-militarys-border-busting-operations-in-africa/  

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The Android Manifesto: Finding Marx in Westworld

December 19, 2016
posted by

In These Times In These Times
by Eileen Jones  

"In the wake of Donald Trump's election, the disturbing power of HBO's Westworld makes more sense. There's uncanny force in all those shots of androids waking up again and again, not knowing they're still in a kind of dream. Those false awakenings that disguise persistent states of unconsciousness resonate uncomfortably with our own condition prior to November 8. Blindsided by Trump's victory, it's hard not to shudder when, in the first season finale, one android warns another who's convinced she's finally fully conscious of the horrors of her reality: 'You've 'woken up' many times before.' We're sure our eyes are open now, but how many of us on the Left thought we were already conscious of America's violent rage and political apathy? How many of us believed we were actively sounding the alarm, only to realize how inconsequential our efforts had been?" (12/19/16)

http://inthesetimes.com/article/19728/karl-marx-in-westworld-android-manifesto-trump-false-consciousness/  

1 Comment »

Clinton’s defeat and the fake news conspiracy

December 19, 2016
posted by

CounterPunch CounterPunch
by Jonathan Cook  

"There is an astounding double standard being applied to the US presidential election result. A few weeks ago the corporate media were appalled that Donald Trump demurred on whether he would accept the vote if it went against him. It was proof of his anti-democratic, authoritarian instincts. But now he has won, the same media outlets are cheerleading the establishment's full-frontal assault on the legitimacy of a Trump presidency. That campaign is being headed by the failed candidate, Hillary Clinton, after a lengthy softening-up operation by US intelligence agencies, led by the CIA." (12/19/16)

http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/12/19/clintons-defeat-and-the-fake-news-conspiracy/  

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The dangers of liberal campus echo chambers

December 19, 2016
posted by

Seattle Times
by Nicholas Kristof  

"After Donald Trump's election, some universities echoed with primal howls. Faculty members canceled classes for weeping, terrified students who asked: How could this possibly be happening? I share apprehensions about President-elect Trump, but I also fear the reaction was evidence of how insular universities have become. When students inhabit liberal bubbles, they're not learning much about their own country. To be fully educated, students should encounter not only Plato, but also Republicans." [hat tip -- Scott Semans] (12/16/16)

http://www.seattletimes.com/opinion/the-dangers-of-liberal-campus-echo-chambers/  

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Compulsory education fosters climate ripe for sexual abuse

December 19, 2016
posted by

C4SS Center for a Stateless Society
by Vishal Wilde  

"Reports of sexual abuse of youth footballers by their adult coaches continues to rock Britain, especially since the list of incidences and clubs involved continues to grow. It is crucial that instances of paedophilia be brought to the forefront, and the enabling role played by compulsory education examined. Children are the most oppressed peoples in society and they continue, most often, to lack a meaningful voice, and are routinely and unjustly ignored. When we consider what makes paedophilia possible, it is not just to do with the physically weaker nature of most younger children compared to grown adults, but it is also to do with the way children have been mentally and socially conditioned." (12/18/16)

https://c4ss.org/content/47285  

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