PND Commentary

I’m really not sure they like us

January 21, 2015
posted by

Jon Carroll San Francisco Chronicle
by Jon Carroll  

"The Fox News channel continues to thrive, but it’s not really selling news; it’s selling attitude. Real news (the kind you get on, say, Al Jazeera) seems not to interest people very much. Yes, you can get an outrage of the day trending on Twitter, but the outrage is usually without context, and it usually dissipates before the problem can be solved. Lynch them all and now, here’s an epic snowboard fail. The question in newsrooms has always been: How do we package the news in the new environment? How can we make our stories and our skills accessible in the digital age?" (01/21/15)

http://tinyurl.com/n9dma3m  

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The unbearable bridge

January 21, 2015
posted by

Unqualified Offerings
by Thoreau  

"The more grumpy I become, the more disenchanted I become with progressive reform schemes and warm-and-fuzzy types and lefty bullshit in the academy, the more I hate Ronald Reagan. Yes, you heard me right, Ronald Reagan. Ronald Reagan told people that the government can spend more money, taken in less money, and still balance its budget. He made ludicrous delusion and magical fixes mainstream. We’re supposed to believe that everything is wonderful and everything will be great and each and every kid is above average and earned that little league trophy for showing up some of the time and if you just follow best practices then students will learn more in less time with less effort and it will all be great. Screw that guy." (01/21/15)

http://highclearing.com/index.php/archives/2015/01/21/18374  

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How to sell off a city

January 21, 2015
posted by

In These Times In These Times
by Rick Perlstein  

"In June of 2013, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel made a new appointment to the city’s seven-member school board. ... Deborah H. Quazzo is a founder of an investment firm called GSV Advisors, a business whose goal is ... drumming up venture capital for 'an education revolution in which public schools outsource to private vendors such critical tasks as teaching math, educating disabled students, even writing report cards.' GSV Advisors has a sister firm, GSV Capital, that holds ownership stakes in education technology companies like 'Knewton,' which sells software that replaces the functions of flesh-and-blood teachers. ... In other words, a key decision-maker for Chicago’s public schools makes money when school boards decide to sell off the functions of public schools." [editor's note: This would seem to qualify as "crony corporatism" not just "privatization" - SAT] (01/21/15)

http://inthesetimes.com/article/17533/how_to_sell_off_a_city  

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Obama’s cyber proposals sound good, but erode information security

January 21, 2015
posted by

Dan Froomkin The Intercept
by Dan Froomkin  

"The State of the Union address President Obama delivers tonight will include a slate of cyber proposals crafted to sound like timely government protections in an era beset by villainous hackers. They would in theory help the government and private sector share hack data more effectively; increase penalties for the most troubling forms of hacking; and require better notification of people when their personal data has been stolen. But if you cut through the spin, it turns out that the steps Obama is proposing would likely erode, rather than strengthen, information security for citizens and computer experts trying to protect them." (01/20/15)

http://tinyurl.com/ptf9eax  

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Who will own the Internet of Things? (Hint: Not the users)

January 21, 2015
posted by

Electronic Frontier Foundation Electronic Frontier Foundation    

"From phones to cars to refrigerators to farm equipment, software is helping our stuff work better and smarter. But those features come at a high hidden cost: the rapid erosion of ownership. Why does that matter? Because when it comes to digital products, owners have rights. Renters on the other hand, have only permission. The source of the problem is simple: copyright." (01/20/15)

http://tinyurl.com/ondfvws  

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American Sniper, and the Murderers Hall of Infamy

January 21, 2015
posted by

The Power of Narrative
by Arthur Silber  

"Just ten days ago, our wondrously life-affirming Western, and especially American, culture offered the spectacle of talk radio hosts giggling as they tried to determine the best way to celebrate the murders of those accused of the Charlie Hebdo killings. But our glorious culture is capable of achievements greater by far than a few hosts laughing about the deaths of less than a handful of people. When it comes to nauseating spectacles that celebrate violence and bloody death, we are always outdoing ourselves. Perhaps 'celebrate' isn't quite the right word in this context. 'Consecrate' captures the dynamic more accurately; truly, violence. especially gratuitous violence, and bloody death, the bloodier the better, constitute our civic religion these days. So this week began with the inspiring news that huge audiences flocked to see the new film, American Sniper." (01/20/15)

http://tinyurl.com/lxkqj2e  

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American Sniper

January 21, 2015
posted by

Bumper Hornberger Future of Freedom Foundation
by Jacob G Hornberger  

"U.S. soldiers were sent into a war in which they were the aggressors and the Iraqi forces and Iraqi people were operating in defense. It's clear from the movie that Kyle never gets that point. Any Iraqi trying to kill an American soldier, thus, was automatically considered a bad guy -- a terrorist. U.S. soldiers were automatically considered to be the good guys notwithstanding the fact that they were clearly violating the principles against wars of aggression set forth at Nuremberg." (01/20/15)

http://fff.org/2015/01/20/american-sniper/  

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Don’t run, Mitt

January 21, 2015
posted by

Debra J. Saunders San Francisco Chronicle
by Debra J. Saunders  

"Mitt Romney is thinking of running for president in 2016. According to the New York Times, that’s what Romney told a group of big donors last week. Earlier, the former Massachusetts governor was thinking of running because the only other hefty Republican who could spare the party from a nutty primary (former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush) was too coy about his 2016 intentions. Now that Bush seems ready to brave the ring, however, Romney still feels a need to do the deed. Again." (01/15/15)

http://tinyurl.com/mc3vtw5  

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Mike Huckabee, your candidate of cultural resentment

January 21, 2015
posted by

Paul Waldman The American Prospect
by Paul Waldman  

"As much as I enjoy The Daily Show, Jon Stewart is usually not that good an interviewer when it comes to political figures. He's about two-thirds of a good interviewer: there are always some good questions, but he usually misses opportunities to ask critical follow-ups, and when his interviewee is struggling, he'll often jump in with a joke. Which is his job, of course (it's a comedy show, and he's a comedian), but it also has the effect of letting his subject off the hook. Last night though, Stewart did an extremely revealing interview with Mike Huckabee, one that cast into sharp relief what Huckabee's 2016 presidential campaign is going to be about." (01/20/15)

http://tinyurl.com/npku74p  

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Straight talk on veterans and suicide

January 21, 2015
posted by

Come Home America Come Home America
by Joey King  

"I have been researching the issue of veteran suicide for about 6 years. ... 18 veterans a day commit suicide. ... These [are] the military’s own numbers, not the propaganda of some peace organization. Veterans are the largest, identifiable sub-group of suicides in the U.S. ... Sadly, the number soon jumped from 18 to 22 veterans per day who kill themselves. It has been stuck there ever since. Far more military personnel loose their lives by their own hands than by the hands of the enemy and it has been that way for years." (01/20/15)

http://tinyurl.com/kmnfeog  

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“Terror” as victim rhetoric

January 21, 2015
posted by

C4SS Center for a Stateless Society
by Ryan Calhoun  

"The entire purpose of the language of terrorism is to cloak the sentiments of war in a victim rhetoric. You see, France isn't 'at war,' they're merely responding to 'terror' attacks. Those wretched, vile gunmen are not warriors or soldiers, they're madmen, lone wolf terrorists. The attack on Charlie Hebdo's office on January 7 might otherwise be considered an invasion, an attack from outside forces France has declared war on. But war is far too brutish for the 21st century, where of course violence is on an inevitable downturn and world peace is just around the corner if not for a few meddling terror cells." (01/19/15)

http://c4ss.org/content/35159  

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SOTU Address: A progressive field guide

January 21, 2015
posted by

Our Future
by Robert Borosage  

"The annual State of the Union address that President Obama will deliver tonight before the Republican-controlled Congress serves many functions. It provides the president with a chance to boast upon progress made, and to highlight next steps. It frames, particularly with this obstructionist Congress, upcoming battles. And with the presidential election of 2016 already begun, it gives the president a chance to define themes and contrasts that the emerging challengers must respond to." (01/20/15)

http://tinyurl.com/phewnz5  

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Can Wall Street take down Big Pharma?

January 20, 2015
posted by

William Greider The Nation Blog
by William Greider  

"Here is a man-bites-dog story that might give comfort to those many Americans being gouged by the drug industry’s larcenous prices. A Dallas hedge-fund operator named Kyle Bass who made a fortune attacking over-priced stocks now says he is going to attack Big Pharma for over-pricing drugs. Bass’s announcement set financial industry bloggers aflutter because hedge funds are not usually known for public spirited motives. Citizen Bass is in it for the money of course. But he intends to do well himself by doing good for the rest of us." (01/20/15)

http://tinyurl.com/o8llp6t  

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Reducing inequality: Where to start?

January 20, 2015
posted by

Reuters Reuters
by Edward Hadas  

"All people are equal in dignity but all societies are unequal in the distribution of education, consumption goods, economic opportunities and social influence. Until about 1800, few moralists thought the equality postulated in principle was violated by the inequality found in reality. Today almost everyone accepts that economic inequality can be, and often is, excessive. Why then does progress in alleviating unequal outcomes seem so slow? National debates about inequality may be serious and well meaning. But they cannot escape a sort of moral parochialism. If all people are truly equal, then it is wrong to worry primarily about equality within a small subset of humanity, for example the 4.5 percent of the world who are counted as American." (01/19/15)

http://tinyurl.com/k29nmdd  

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Groundhog Day C

January 20, 2015
posted by

The Cagle Post
by Bill Schorr  

Cartoon. (01/19/15)

http://www.cagle.com/2015/01/groundhog-day-c/  

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Republicans change rules; Democrats change stripes

January 20, 2015
posted by

CounterPunch CounterPunch
by Jack Rasmus  

"This week President Obama will make another 'State of the Union' (SOTU) annual address to Congress. In his SOTU addresses in recent years his comments were typically cautious, careful not to convey or promise too much in terms of new initiatives that would benefit those left behind in the so-called US economic recovery. Proposals for programs to help raise wages for American workers, help immigrants become citizens, save homeowners from foreclosures, ensure affordable education for students, shore up the USA's collapsing pension system, and so on were considered too controversial. As noted repeatedly by his White House spokespersons, anything more than minimalist proposals would only give an excuse for Republicans and conservatives in the US Congress to intensify their opposition; or would put Democrat Party members of Congress coming up for elections in conservative districts in a difficult position." (01/20/15)

http://tinyurl.com/mfz3zvr  

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No halo for Holder on forfeiture reform

January 20, 2015
posted by

James Bovard JimBovard.com
by James Bovard  

"Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. announced on Friday that the Justice Department would cease sharing confiscated private property with state and local police agencies under its Equitable Sharing program. Asset forfeiture has recently been widely denounced by both liberals and conservatives as an civil liberties atrocity that has victimized innocent Americans across the nation. A Washington Post report suggested that the policy change was part of Mr. Holder’s efforts 'to burnish his place in history.' Mr. Holder's decision is justly being applauded across the political spectrum. Before placing a halo over the attorney general's head, though, it should be remembered that it was Mr. Holder, pulling strings on Capitol Hill 15 years ago, who did more than anyone else to perpetuate the abuses he curtailed on Friday." (01/20/15)

http://tinyurl.com/lr4q7zv  

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A guide to MLK’s 21st Century insights

January 20, 2015
posted by

Richard Eskow Our Future
by Richard Eskow  

"(Previously published, with some revisions) Here it comes again. This holiday weekend we’ll see a lot of media coverage of Martin Luther King, Jr. But we’ll hear very little about who he really was: a brave and visionary leader whose vision is as relevant today as ever. Dr. King’s life and legacy stand as a challenge to an entrenched society of privilege and injustice. Here are nine quotes that reflect that legacy." (01/19/15)

http://tinyurl.com/nfzjgdu  

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Citizens United gives freedom of speech back to the people

January 20, 2015
posted by

Reuters Reuters
by Bradley A. Smith  

"Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (2010) is one of the most misunderstood U.S. Supreme Court decisions of modern times. A routine, sensible ruling, Citizens United somehow became a lightning rod for demagogues, would-be censors and partisan hacks across the political spectrum. So how has it worked? We’ve now had three election cycles under Citizens United, and none of the doomsday predictions have come true." [editor's note: I posted this in part just to piss off my "progressive" friends with the title, but it turns out to be a fairly well-reasoned analysis - SAT] (01/16/15)

http://tinyurl.com/le6ozro  

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When an apology just doesn’t cut it

January 20, 2015
posted by

Jon Carroll San Francisco Chronicle
by Jon Carroll  

"I am a big fan of the website SorryWatch. It analyzes public apologies (there are so many of them) and describes precisely where they fall short, if they do. Candidly, most of them do: The tendency of corporations to leave apologies to their public relations departments may have something to do with it. It’s really tacky to promote the brand while apologizing for its shortcomings. An apology is supposed to express regret for what went wrong, specifically, and detail what measures are being taken to ensure that it doesn’t happen again. Self-praise masquerading as contrition just doesn’t cut it, and yet it’s very common." (01/19/15)

http://tinyurl.com/l6czhvt  

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The difference of individualist feminism

January 20, 2015
posted by

Wendy Mcelroy WendyMcElroy.com
by Wendy McElroy  

"The dominant voice of feminism today is what has been called 'gender feminism' -- a controversial term. This is the sort of feminism espoused by NOW, the National Organization for Women. And one of the myths that NOW-style feminists have been able to successfully sell is that anyone who disagrees with their approach on almost any issue, from sexual harassment to child custody, from affirmative action to domestic violence to abortion ... anyone who disagrees is anti-feminist and, perhaps, even anti-woman. That accusation is absolutely false. The truth is that there are and there always have been many schools of thought within the feminist tradition: from socialist to individualist, liberal to radical, Christian to atheist, prolife to prochoice." (01/19/15)

http://www.wendymcelroy.com/news.php?extend.6294  

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The queering of America

January 20, 2015
posted by

C4SS Center for a Stateless Society
by Joel Schlosberg  

"The US Supreme Court's announcement on January 16 that it will decide the constitutionality of state-level bans on same-sex marriage has elicited the predictable whining about judicial activism. The Family Research Council's Tony Perkins pleads 'there is nothing in the Constitution that empowers the courts to silence the people and impose a nationwide redefinition of marriage,' neglecting to specify where in the Constitution the government is granted the power to get involved in defining marriage to begin with." (01/18/15)

http://c4ss.org/content/35132  

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Can Moral Mondays produce victorious Tuesdays?

January 20, 2015
posted by

The American Prospect The American Prospect
by Barry Yeoman  

"Derick Smith arrived at the kickoff site for North Carolina’s 2014 Moral March on a raw February morning. He zipped his brown thermal hoodie up to the neck and soaked in the view from Raleigh’s Shaw University. It was a human kaleidoscope: Shriners in fezzes; physicians in white smocks; fast-food workers carrying signs saying, 'America can’t survive on $7.25.' Lesbians and gay men with rainbow flags stood alongside alumnae sorority sisters. Scanning the crowd, Smith saw a checkerboard of black, white, and brown faces. They extended, it seemed, to the horizon." (01/19/15)

http://tinyurl.com/n5ow9er  

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National Day of Service no honor to MLK

January 19, 2015
posted by

The Nation The Nation
by Mychal Denzel Smith  

"The fact that the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday is a National Day of Service bothers me. It bothers me perhaps even more than when I realized that, as a child growing up in Virginia, we didn’t have a King holiday. We celebrated 'Lee-Jackson-King Day' -- that is, Generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson of the Confederate States of America, alongside Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. of the civil-rights movement of the 1950s and '60s. But at least Virginia wasn’t pretending to care about King’s legacy." (01/18/15)

http://tinyurl.com/kjaa326  

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Phillip Agnew, Dream Defender

January 19, 2015
posted by

Michelle Chen In These Times
by Michelle Chen  

"Phillip Agnew isn’t trying to make history; he’s just heeding its call. As the head of the Florida-based Dream Defenders, Agnew is one of many young civil rights leaders drawing from the rich legacy of black freedom struggles while moving into the 21st century with a deft use of social media and sometimes-scathing irony. (His group’s latest campaign produced a faux-advertisement for kid-sized bulletproof vests.) Dream Defenders was formed to combat racial violence after Trayvon Martin was gunned down in a Florida suburb in 2012." (01/19/15)

http://tinyurl.com/kdody2t  

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