PND Commentary

Slouching toward Washington

May 18, 2016
posted by

CounterPunch CounterPunch
by James McEnteer  

"The corrupt, interminable 2016 presidential primary process has revealed terrible flaws in United States democracy. The biggest takeaway is that our two-party monopoly system is outmoded and inadequate to represent our diverse U.S. population. We need a fresh start, with more, and more open, parties, more closely resembling other western democracies. Too many Americans are now excluded for various reasons, with no say in their own governance." (05/18/16)

http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/05/18/slouching-toward-washington/  

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Police and prison guard groups fight marijuana legalization in California

May 18, 2016
posted by

Lee Fang The Intercept
by Lee Fang  

"Roughly half of the money raised to oppose a ballot measure to legalize recreational marijuana in California is coming from police and prison guard groups, terrified that they might lose the revenue streams to which they have become so deeply addicted. Drug war money has become a notable source of funding for law enforcement interests. Huge government grants and asset-seizure windfalls benefit police departments, while the constant supply of prisoners keeps the prison business booming." (05/18/16)

https://theintercept.com/2016/05/18/ca-marijuana-measure/  

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Indicting Hillary

May 18, 2016
posted by

OpEdNews
by William Boardman  

"It's not yet clear whether Hillary Clinton will be indicted. It's not even clear in the broader sense whether Hillary Clinton should be indicted. But it's crystal clear that, even on the limited amount of credible evidence now available, Hillary Clinton could be indicted. She could be indicted for what might be characterized as privatizing her government office. That, in effect, is what the Secretary of State did when she moved pretty much all her public government communication to a private email server at her home in Chappaqua, New York. That deployment of a private server for a government official is, as far as we know, unprecedented. The public business of the Secretary of State does not belong in anyone's private domain. It's a gross violation of sane and honest public policy. And it's also illegal." (05/18/16)

http://www.opednews.com/articles/Indicting-Hillary-by-William-Boardman-Communications_Communications_Evidence_Government-160517-223.html  

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The problem doesn’t stop with Amtrak

May 18, 2016
posted by

Roderick T. Long Center for a Stateless Society
by Roderick Long  

"This phenomenon of regulatory capture is by no means anomalous, nor is it something that can be fixed by a few simple reforms. On the contrary, it's the virtually inevitable result of the state's power to regulate. The interests that benefit from regulatory favoritism tend to be concentrated; the interests that are harmed by it tend to be dispersed. Hence the proponents of regulatory favoritism have more incentive, and opportunity, to lobby for it than its opponents have to lobby against it. So long as the state retains its regulatory powers, then, the weight of economic incentives will continue to push toward policies of cronyism. Indeed, the root of the problem lies within the institution of the state itself." (05/18/16)

https://c4ss.org/content/45002  

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The GOP metamorphosis

May 18, 2016
posted by

The American Prospect The American Prospect
by Arthur Goldhammer  

"The observer of today’s political world feels rather like the reader of Franz Kafka's Metamorphosis. Grotesque things are happening everywhere, yet consciousness seems incapable of registering the magnitude of the change. The disparity between the appalling metamorphosis of our political condition and the petty conventionality of the response is apt to provoke terror and laughter in equal and disconcerting measure. In the United States, the Republican Party has succumbed to a brazen putsch. A confabulating narcissist who impersonated his own publicist in order to feed the tabloids with the myth of his sexual allure and then made a campaign issue of his genital endowment has taken over the party of Lincoln." (05/17/16)

http://prospect.org/article/metamorphosis  

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Hunting the Hunt Commission

May 18, 2016
posted by

In These Times In These Times
by staff  

"Despite holding a nationwide series of presidential primaries and caucuses in which millions of voters participate, the Democratic Party still maintains a system of 712 party insiders who often have the final say on who the nominee is. Why did the party choose to institute such a system? To answer that, you need to go back to the Hunt Commission, which in 1982 invented the 'superdelegate.' The proceedings of the Hunt Commission have never been published. In These Times gained access to documents housed in the National Archives, excerpts of which are reproduced below. The pages here represent only a sample of the total material looked at by In These Times, which itself makes up a small percentage of the total proceedings of the Commission." (05/17/16)

http://inthesetimes.com/article/19132/hunting-the-hunt-commission  

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Confronting the parasite economy

May 18, 2016
posted by

The American Prospect The American Prospect
by Nick Hanauer  

"There are two types of businesses in America today: those that pay their workers a living wage (the real economy) and those that don’t (the parasite [sic] economy). And all of us who live and work in the real economy should be royally pissed at the way the parasite economy is sucking us dry. Here in the real economy, we solve the problems, build the things, and pay the wages that make America great. When politicians of both parties promise to attract 'good jobs' to their districts or states, they’re talking about the kind of real-economy jobs that pay a decent middle-class wage -- jobs that provide the income, benefits, and security necessary to participate robustly in the economy as a consumer and taxpayer. It is the real economy that drives both production and demand, and that fills our tax coffers with the money needed to educate our children, maintain our infrastructure, invest in research and development, fund our social safety net, and provide for the national defense." [editor's note: One more defense of the old factory-worker model of gainful endeavor, ignoring how it continues to shore up the empire - SAT] (05/16/16)

http://prospect.org/article/confronting-parasite-economy  

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Loretta Sanchez doesn’t back down

May 18, 2016
posted by

Debra J. Saunders Town Hall
by Debra J. Saunders  

"Running to replace Barbara Boxer in the U.S. Senate, Rep. Loretta Sanchez [D-CA] is not backing down from comments she made in December about the percentage of Muslims in the world who support a holy war. After the San Bernardino terrorist attack, Sanchez appeared on 'Politicking with Larry King.' King asked her about President Barack Obama's reluctance to use the term 'radical Islamic terrorism.' ... 'A small group' of 'anywhere between 5 and 20 percent' of Muslims, Sanchez said, supports a caliphate and is 'willing to go to extremes' to secure one. Because Donald Trump recently had proposed a ban on Muslims entering the United States, critics went after Sanchez for saying something that arguably could support his proposal. She made clear Monday when she spoke with the San Francisco Chronicle's editorial board that she does not support it. Sanchez has been a vocal supporter for Syrian refugees. Still, the quote has haunted her." (05/17/16)

http://townhall.com/columnists/debrajsaunders/2016/05/17/loretta-sanchez-doesnt-back-down-n2164113  

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How Donald Trump plans to crash through the media’s gatekeepers

May 18, 2016
posted by

The New Republic The New Republic
by Jeet Heer  

"Among his other achievements, Donald Trump is the most politically successful conspiracy theorist in American history. In a classic essay, the historian Richard Hofstadter argued that the “paranoid style” is woven through the fabric of American history, running from the anti-Mason and anti-Catholic crusades of the nineteenth century to the McCarthy Era’s hyper-vigilance about communism after World War II. Yet as pervasive as conspiracy theories often were, according to Hofstadter, they flourished on the fringes of American society rather than emanating from the centers of power. One might argue that Hofstadter was overly sanguine about the American elite, but in broad terms his argument makes sense. After all, Millard Fillmore only shifted to the nativist Know-Nothing Party after he left the presidency. And while Richard Nixon was an ally of Joseph McCarthy at the beginning of his career, and in private was given to all sorts of dark mutterings about plots against him by hidden enemies, he was much more restrained in his public persona as vice-president and president." (05/17/16)

https://newrepublic.com/article/133527/donald-trump-plans-crash-medias-gatekeepers  

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Failure to invest in infrastructure literally making us sick

May 18, 2016
posted by

Our Future Blog
by Lindsay Koshgarian  

"My water’s clean, but I’m feeling sick anyway. The residents of Flint have gone without clean water for 748 days, and counting. That’s more than two years: long enough for toddlers to become preschoolers, for infants to graduate from lead-tainted formula to lead-tainted Kool-Aid. When you think of school kids subjected to lead poisoning for years in the supposedly greatest country on earth, it’s hard not to feel sick. It’s not my kid. But it could be. It’s one thing for congressional leaders to carry on with their budget antics year in and year out, skirting disaster, even with all that’s at stake. But the lack of response to the emergency in Flint takes it to a whole new level. Putting the federal government to shame, a group of foundations led by the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation this week pledged $125 million to help Flint. Call it a belated Mother’s Day gift." (05/16/16)

https://ourfuture.org/20160516/our-failure-to-invest-in-infrastructure-is-literally-making-us-sick  

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Pfizer death-row move serves investors, too

May 18, 2016
posted by

Reuters Reuters
by Rob Cox  

"Is Corporate America converting to Catholicism? Pfizer recently restricted the use of its drugs in executions. And Alphabet, one of the most valuable companies on earth, banished payday lenders from the temple of search. In reality, it’s not a Damascene shift so much as a series of easy moral stances that have the added benefit of reducing risk for shareholders. Pfizer’s image as a contributor to the public good needed some spit and polish. The last big splash the group led by Ian Read made was a brazen attempt to shift its domicile to a lower-tax country by merging with Ireland’s Allergan. That so-called inversion, which would have robbed some $1.7 billion from Peter (U.S. tax authorities) to pay Paul (shareholders) was crucified on the altar of Secretary of the Treasury Jack Lew." [editor's note: The very idea that taking back tax confiscations is seen as "robbery" shows how little this pundit knows - SAT] (05/17/16)

http://blogs.reuters.com/breakingviews/2016/05/16/cox-pfizer-death-row-move-serves-investors-too/  

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Don’t be a sucker for socialism

May 17, 2016
posted by

USA Today USA Today
by Glenn Harlan Reynolds  

"It is a common misconception that socialism is about helping poor people. Actually, what socialism does is create poor people, and keep them poor. And that’s not by accident. Under capitalism, rich people become powerful. But under socialism, powerful people become rich. So when you look at a socialist country like Venezuela, you find that the rulers are fabulously wealthy even as the ordinary citizenry deals with empty supermarket shelves and electricity rationing. The daughter of Venezuela’s socialist ruler, Hugo Chavez, is the richest individual in Venezuela, worth billions and billions of dollars. In Cuba, Fidel Castro reportedly has lived — pretty much literally -- like a king, even as his subjects dwelt in poverty. In the old Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, as Hedrick Smith reported in his The Russians, the Communist Party bigshots had lavish country houses and apartments in town stocked with hand-polished fresh fruit, even as the common people stood in line for hours at state-run stores in the hopes of getting staples." (05/16/16)

http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2016/05/16/socialism-venezuela-ussr-cuba-sanders-clinton-elections-2016-column/32613393  

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The secret history of superdelegates

May 17, 2016
posted by

In These Times In These Times
by Branko Marcetic  

"Since its launch, a specter has haunted Bernie Sanders’ run for the Democratic nomination. It’s not his age, though at 74 he would be the oldest president in American history. And it’s not that he’s an avowed socialist, the label that a mere eight years ago was used to smear Barack Obama as a sinister, alien threat to the American way of life. Rather, it has been the so-called superdelegates: the 712 Democratic Party insiders who are free to vote at the nominating convention for the candidate of their choosing. The corporate media’s early inclusion of the superdelegates in the delegate count created the impression of an inevitable Clinton nomination. Seventy-three percent of superdelegates (520 of the 712) have pledged their support to the former secretary of state, but superdelegates are free to change their minds any time before the Democratic National Convention in July." (05/16/16)

http://inthesetimes.com/features/superdelegates_bernie_sanders_hillary_clinton.html  

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The great foreclosure fraud

May 17, 2016
posted by

The American Prospect The American Prospect
by David Dayen  

"There is a rot at the heart of our democracy, rooted in a nagging mystery that has yet to be unraveled. It gnaws at people, occupies their thoughts, leaves them searching for answers in the chill of the night. Americans want to know why no high-ranking Wall Street executive has gone to jail for the conduct that precipitated the financial crisis. The oddest thing about the predominance of the question is that everyone already assumes they know the answer. They believe that too many politicians, regulators, and law enforcement officials, bought off with campaign contributions or the promise of a future job, simply allowed banker miscreants to annihilate the law in pursuit of profit. But they must not like the explanation very much, because they keep asking why, as if they want to be proven wrong, to be given a different story." [editor's note: From the gitgo, this should have been treated as a fraud case, with the investors (and politicians) who brought it about slapped in irons - SAT] (05/16/16)

http://prospect.org/article/great-foreclosure-fraud  

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The wackiest Donald Trump conspiracy theory yet

May 17, 2016
posted by

The New Republic The New Republic
by Brian Beutler  

"The Republican primary campaign revealed (or rather reestablished) that Donald Trump is a bigot and a sexist and a creep. In fairness, this was not entirely a testament to fearless journalism; Trump happily exhibited all of these behaviors in front of live television cameras week after week. But reporters and campaigns did bring incidents of bigotry, sexism, and creepiness from his past to light, which helped feed the public’s exceedingly negative impression of the GOP’s new standard-bearer. Despite months of digging, though, they may have only scratched the surface of Trump’s public and private sordidness. Now that he’s effectively secured the Republican Party nomination, we can expect the full details to pour out in the weeks and months ahead. Before he dropped out of the race, Ted Cruz predicted this would happen." [editor's note: Given how the "media" handled all of this, this conspiracy theory is as good as any - SAT] (05/16/16)

https://newrepublic.com/article/133507/wackiest-donald-trump-conspiracy-theory-yet  

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Money trail shows China sticking to bad habits

May 17, 2016
posted by

Reuters Reuters
by Rahul Jacob  

"When it comes to reducing its dependence on debt, China’s actions matter more than its words. Last week the state-owned People’s Daily newspaper quoted an unnamed 'authoritative figure' saying that the country’s high leverage was the 'original sin.' Yet official data released over the weekend confirm debt is still rising while infrastructure and property investment are increasing at a rapid pace. Until the numbers show otherwise, it’s safe to assume Beijing is still focused on growth. On the surface, recent credit data suggests that China’s economy has entered debt rehab. New total social financing (TSF), a widely used barometer of investment, was 751 billion yuan ($115 billion) in April, down sharply from 2.3 trillion yuan in March. New loans fell to 564 billion yuan from 1.3 trillion yuan in the previous month. This appeared to confirm speculation that the interview, published in People’s Daily on May 9, had signaled a high-level shift in policy.Yet a closer look at the numbers shows the story remains much as before." (05/16/16)

http://blogs.reuters.com/breakingviews/2016/05/16/money-trail-shows-china-sticking-to-bad-habits  

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War on drugs requires new tactics

May 17, 2016
posted by

USA Today USA Today
by staff  

"With an average 78 Americans dying each day from overdoses of prescription opioid painkillers and heroin, it’s clear that the U.S. is losing the war on drugs. The epidemic has spread to suburbia and rural areas. The death toll from heroin has more than tripled since 2010. And the nation is desperate for answers. Congress is working on bipartisan measures that would give states, localities and non-profit groups money to finance an array of education, treatment and law enforcement programs. Final passage can't come a moment too soon. But it's all rather standard fare." [editor's note: So their solution to Prohibition II's failure is to let the states control it; even though the "therapeutic model" is better than the punitive one, it's still statist - SAT] (05/16/16)

http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2016/05/16/heroin-safe-injections-vancouver-opioids-overdose-editorials-debates/84421772  

3 Comments »

What’s killing the American middle class?

May 17, 2016
posted by

Richard Eskow Our Future Blog
by Richard Eskow  

"A new study by the Pew Research Center spurred a rash of headlines last week about 'the dying middle class.' But the word 'dying' might be more appropriate if we were watching the regrettable but inevitable effects of natural forces at work. We’re not. We’re seeing the fruits of deliberate action (and sometimes of deliberate inaction) at the highest levels of power. The great American middle was never large enough, even at its height. It always excluded too many people -- sometimes, shamefully, merely for their skin color. And now, instead of growing and becoming more inclusive, it’s fading away instead. It’s true that the middle class is dying, but not from natural causes. It’s being killed. What (and, for that matter, who) is responsible for its slow death?" (05/16/16)

https://ourfuture.org/20160516/whats-killing-the-american-middle-class  

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Clinton’s crimes and Comey’s choice

May 17, 2016
posted by

Town Hall
by Kurt Schlichter  

"FBI Director James Comey knew he had to make a decision that would change his life, and maybe the history of his country, as he surveyed the piles of papers spread out in his office. The Deputy Director in charge of the investigation of Hillary Clinton (a criminal investigation, not some benign 'security review' as the Clintonistas had tried to spin it) sat quietly, letting his boss think. The evidence was overwhelming. Hillary Clinton was clearly guilty of multiple felonies, and the Obama Department of Justice was not going to prosecute her. Now, it fell to Director Comey to decide what he would do about it." (05/16/16)

http://townhall.com/columnists/kurtschlichter/2016/05/16/clintons-crimes-and-comeys-choice-n2163202  

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Needed: More Snowdens

May 16, 2016
posted by

USA Today USA Today
by Dan R Sendik  

"I was an active duty United States Marine working in Signals Intelligence in 2013 when Edward Snowden exposed the mass surveillance programs of the National Security Agency. Snowden’s alleged espionage had a lasting effect both on my work and on my attitude toward it. As a cryptologic linguist and intelligence analyst, my day-to-day activities were directly compromised when I was suddenly unable to use certain methods and tools due to the leak. Not only that, Snowden’s action created a moral dilemma for me as a member of the intelligence community. I began questioning the morality of my work. If the public was outraged by what Snowden leaked, would they be outraged by how the United States is fighting terrorism?" (05/13/16)

http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2016/05/12/edward-snowden-was-right-ex-military-intelligence-analyst-column/84295452  

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America’s other epidemic: Chronic untreated pain

May 16, 2016
posted by

Debra J. Saunders Town Hall
by Debra J Saunders  

"The death of Prince, who apparently had a Percocet problem, and a 2016 presidential primary peppered with New England town halls that delved into increased heroin overdoses and prescription drug abuse have converged to create what CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta calls 'a public health epidemic.' Drug addiction is 2016's big nonpolitical story. CNN aired a special, 'Prescription Addiction: Dead in the USA.' The Senate passed the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act to provide grants for treatment and improved monitoring. The House also is working on legislation, with funding expected later in the year." (05/15/16)

http://townhall.com/columnists/debrajsaunders/2016/05/15/americas-other-epidemic-chronic-untreated-pain-n2162807  

1 Comment »

Is there hope for the Chicago Police Department?

May 16, 2016
posted by

The Nation The Nation    

"For a long time, Chicago officials have been writing checks, big checks, to families of people victimized by city cops. According to the nonpartisan, nonprofit Better Government Association, the City of Chicago shelled out over half a billion dollars between 2004 and 2014 for acts of police misconduct: false arrests, perjury, wrongful convictions, racial bigotry and discrimination, reckless vehicle pursuits, excessive force, torture, and unjustified killings. That figure does not reflect a staggering 500 additional claims in the pipeline." (05/15/16)

http://www.thenation.com/article/is-there-hope-for-the-chicago-police-department  

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Spanking children: Worse behavior, health problems, antisocial behavior

May 16, 2016
posted by

Raw Story Raw Story
by Elizabeth Gershoff & Andrew Grogan-Kaylor  

"Spanking remains a common parenting practice in the U.S. A nationally representative, long-term study of children beginning in kindergarten found that 80 percent of children had been spanked by the time they reached third grade. While we all may have our opinions about whether spanking 'works' as a method of disciplining children, what does science tell us? And what are the average outcomes for children who are spanked? Recently, we conducted a 'meta-analysis' (a review of existing research on spanking) to answer these questions. We found that spanking significantly increases the risk of detrimental outcomes for children. While this finding does not mean that every child will experience problems as a result of spanking, it does mean that a large body of research has shown it significantly increases the risks for problems." (05/14/16)

http://www.rawstory.com/2016/05/study-spanking-children-leads-to-worse-behavior-health-problems-antisocial-behavior  

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Is this why US “gunboat diplomacy” is serving corporations?

May 15, 2016
posted by

Dave Johnson Our Future
by Dave Johnson  

"Colombia is allowing local production of a generic form of a cancer drug that is ultraexpensive because of a government-granted monopoly handed to a giant, multinational pharmaceutical corporation. The U.S. government is stepping in on the corporation’s side with a modern form of 'gunboat diplomacy' -- even though the giant corporation isn’t even 'American.' In November 2014, a group of public health advocacy organizations called on the Colombian government to declare that the public interest warrants that the country can produce a generic version of the ultraexpensive cancer drug Gleevec, produced by the 'Swiss' giant Novartis. According to a March, 2015 report in Intellectual Property Watch, 'Colombia Asked To Declare Excessive Price For Cancer Drug Contrary To Public Interest, Grounds For Compulsory License.'" (05/13/16)

https://ourfuture.org/20160513/is-this-the-return-of-us-gunboat-diplomacy-serving-corporations  

1 Comment »

Eurovision 2016

May 15, 2016
posted by

The Cagle Post
by Michael Kountouris  

Cartoon. (05/15/16)

http://www.cagle.com/2016/05/eurovision-2016/  

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