The Editorial Board of The New York Times states in Defense and the Sequester:
After 9/11, the Pentagon was handed a virtual blank check and its base budget soared from $397 billion in 2001 to $557 billion in 2013. Spending is expected to decline in real terms this year, but after that it will rise slightly, even if the sequester takes effect, experts say. By some calculations, President Obama will still spend more on defense than most postwar presidents. The Pentagon needs to focus on shaping the force for new threats. Now that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are ending, it also needs to make reforms and rein in spending.Doyle McManus at the Los Angeles Times concludes in D.C. doubles down on the sequester that neither side wants it but each thinks it can benefit from it:
In the end, there will be some kind of compromise, probably around March 27, when Congress has to pass a law to keep the government operating for the rest of the year. It will probably include spending cuts that approach what the sequester demands, but with more flexibility—and, if Democrats have their way, a longer delay before the cuts kick in.Joshua Holland at Alternet writes 4 Bogus Right-Wing Theories About Poverty, and the Real Reason Americans Can’t Make Ends Meet:
Nearly four years after economists tell us the “recovery” began, almost half of all American households lack enough savings to stay above the poverty line for three months or more if they should find themselves out of work. Another third are living paycheck to paycheck, teetering on the brink with no savings at all.More pundits can be found below the fold.
It would require a lengthy sociological treatise to fully explain why this isn't considered a huge national crisis. But one part of the equation is the existence of a long-standing and ideologically informed project by the right to portray the burden of living in or near poverty as a liberal delusion.
Leonard Pitts Jr. at the Miami Herald writes in A baby, the N word and a slap for Jonah Bennett:
We are rightfully outraged that someone would call a baby by a racial slur and then strike him.Joel Bleifuss at In These Times writes in Before we can save the honeybees, we need to resuscitate the EPA that neonicotinoid pesticides—or “neonics”—are poisoning bees. One of the two most-sold of these pesticides is clothianidin:
But it is a matter of statistical fact that [the baby, Jonah Bennett], from the moment he was born, stood an excellent chance of being struck in other ways. Of being failed by his school. Of being steered into the criminal injustice system as if prison was his natural habitat. Of being denied housing. Of being denied healthcare. Of being denied loans. Of being denied work. Of being denied his very individuality. There is also an excellent chance — indeed, a virtual certainty — most of us will respond to this with a collective shrug, assuming we see it at all; such things tend to become socio-cultural wallpaper when they are not happening to you.
It’s easier to get worked up about violence that is visceral and immediate, particularly when it is directed against a child. We will be a better country, though, when we are willing to expend some of that outrage upon the violence we commit against African-American children every day, systemic blows which are at once more subtle, more pervasive and more damaging.
In 2003, Bayer asked EPA officials to allow clothianidin on the market—before tests on the pesticide’s environmental impact had been completed. The EPA agreed. And thus began another chapter in the EPA’s sad history of protecting not the environment, but corporate interests.Jane Mayer at The New Yorker asks Is Senator Ted Cruz Our New McCarthy?
E.J. Dionne at the Washington Post writes The miracle on guns:
A not-so-small miracle is unfolding before our eyes. After nearly two decades in which established opinion insisted that it would never again be possible to pass sensible regulations of firearms, the unthinkable is on the verge of happening.James Ridgeway and Jean Casella at Mother Jones write at Big Labor's Lock 'Em Up Mentality—How otherwise progressive unions stand in the way of a more humane correctional system:
[W]hether prisons are public or private, preserving jobs generally means locking away as many people as possible for as long as possible—contrary to the goal of reducing mass incarceration. California's prison guards union, for example, was one of the primary sponsors of the proposition that brought about Three Strikes in the 1990s. In the aughts, the union opposed parole reform and vigorously campaigned to defeat politicians it regarded as soft on crime. It has also supported the death penalty, despite the staggering cost to state taxpayers.Dave Zirin, at The Progressive notes in Florida Atlantic's Folly: Why GEO Group Should Not Have Naming Rights that Florida Atlantic University had sold the naming rights to its football field GEO Group Stadium:
Governments across the world, from South Africa to the United Kingdom to Australia, pay the GEO Group to take over their jails and run them as privatized, for-profit enterprises.Peggy Noonan, by relentlessly hammering the same point, is just like Paul Krugman—except that she is a dunce, as she proves once again at The Wall Street Journal (free link) in Government by Freakout:
In the United States, where the prison population has more than doubled since 1992 and is now the highest in the world, this is known as a growth industry. In many communities, where people of color are victimized by callously punitive laws (promoted by the lobbying arms of for-profit prisons), it’s known as the New Jim Crow. The GEO group is the second largest for-profit prison company in the United States, behind only the Correctional Corporation of America.
Mr. Obama thrives in chaos. He flourishes in unsettled circumstances and grooves on his own calm. He spins an air of calamity, points fingers and garners support. His only opponent is a hapless, hydra-headed House.Jill Filipovic at The Guardian writes :
It's hardly breaking news that junk food is bad for us. But just how bad – and just how much food companies know about the addictive components of certain foods, and just how much they deliberately target the most vulnerable consumers knowing they are doing damage – is still being discovered. [...]S.E. Cupp at the New York Daily News says in that she got blasted by the "dittoheads" for criticizing Rush Limbaugh as being harmful to the Republican Party:
Nearly everything written about food in the mainstream media relies on the same narrative: Obesity is bad. That kind of reporting is part of what's keeping us sick.
Some demanded I apologize. Others implied I just committed career suicide. Others still politely suggested I commit actual suicide.