Charles M. Blow at The New York Times writes The Fight Over ‘Impeachment Lite’:
But this [suing of President Obama] isn’t about the public’s priorities, not even close. This is about base-voter activation; this is about midterm turnout. The president’s most ardent opposition wants more punishing actions taken. There is an insatiable vengeance-lust for the haughty president who refuses to bend under pressure or fold under duress.E.J. Dionne Jr. at The Washington Post sees one good thing in Paul Ryan’s stale ideas on poverty—which is that it would be only an experiment in a few states:
He must be brought to heel. He must be chastened. He must be broken. So, House Republicans are throwing the red meat into the cage.
Ryan gave a well-crafted address at the American Enterprise Institute in which the centerpiece sounded brand spanking new: the “Opportunity Grant.” The problem is that this “pilot program” amounts to little more than the stale conservative idea of wrapping federal programs into a block grant and shipping them off to the states. The good news is that Ryan only proposes “experiments” involving “a select number of states,” so he would not begin eliminating programs wholesale. Thank God for small favors.Below the fold are more pundit excerpts.
The Editorial Board of The New York Times makes the case to Repeal Prohibition, Again, that is, to repeal the ban on marijuana. Admirable if a few decades late, but the board's views have yet to trickle down to the employment policymakers at the Times, who will continue to drug-test prospective hires, including tests for marijuana, which a spokeswoman says matches current law and would say no more:
It took 13 years for the United States to come to its senses and end Prohibition, 13 years in which people kept drinking, otherwise law-abiding citizens became criminals and crime syndicates arose and flourished. It has been more than 40 years since Congress passed the current ban on marijuana, inflicting great harm on society just to prohibit a substance far less dangerous than alcohol.David Sirota at In These Times writes Retirees Get Cross-Checked by Stadium Subsidies:
The federal government should repeal the ban on marijuana.
There are no perfect answers to people’s legitimate concerns about marijuana use. But neither are there such answers about tobacco or alcohol, and we believe that on every level — health effects, the impact on society and law-and-order issues — the balance falls squarely on the side of national legalization. That will put decisions on whether to allow recreational or medicinal production and use where it belongs — at the state level.
As states and cities grapple with budget shortfalls, many are betting big on an unproven formula: Slash public employee pension benefits and public services while diverting the savings into lucrative subsidies for professional sports teams.Alex Holt at The Nation writes No, Millennials Are Not All Libertarians:
Detroit this week became the most prominent example of this trend. Officials in the financially devastated city announced that their plan to slash public workers' pension benefits will move forward. On the same day, the billionaire owners of the Detroit Red Wings, the Ilitch family, unveiled details of an already approved taxpayer-financed stadium for the professional hockey team. [...]
The budget maneuvers in Michigan are part of a larger trend across the country. As Pacific Standard reports, “Over the past 20 years, 101 new sports facilities have opened in the United States—a 90 percent replacement rate—and almost all of them have received direct public funding.” Now, many of those subsidies are being effectively financed by the savings accrued from pension benefit reductions and cuts to public services.
As Washington falls deeper into a pit of corruption, Silicon Valley presents itself as a meritocratic utopia. A recent Deloitte survey puts this issue in stark relief: in many areas of public life, such as education and healthcare, millennials believe that businesses have a more positive impact than the government.Diana Wagman at The Los Angeles Times writes A mother's Southern discomfort:
Although I can understand why millennials are so drawn to Silicon Valley, watching my generation absorb the high-tech mindset is deeply troubling. Behind the happy talk of empowerment through connectivity lies a more sinister reality. The techno-libertarianism that pervades the Bay Area may be driving innovation in certain areas and enabling the acquisition of private wealth, but it comes at a high cost to the public, transferring power away from government and toward these new companies and the individuals who run them. Pushing back against this corrosive ideology, and redirecting young Americans’ entrepreneurial drive to help reform our broken political institutions, will be one of our generation’s defining struggles.
My daughter, Thea, a cellist, is spending the summer in Montgomery, Ala. She was thrilled to land a job there playing in the orchestra at Montgomery's Shakespeare Festival.Jonathan Freedland at The Guardian writes Israel’s fears are real, but this Gaza war is utterly self-defeating:
But the whole idea of it made me nervous. I couldn't stop thinking about how, 53 years ago, my older brother David left our mother's house in Maryland to spend part of his summer in Montgomery challenging Jim Crow.
The first bus of Freedom Riders to make the journey that summer had been set on fire, and when the riders could finally escape, sheriffs and the Ku Klux Klan were waiting for them with baseball bats, iron pipes and bicycle chains. The second bus had been brutally attacked as well, and the white riders were beaten with particular ferocity and then turned away from the local hospitals. My brother was scheduled to go in the next wave.
The day before his trip, David arrived home from college with the two black friends who were going with him. Our next-door neighbors stood in their driveway and stared as the young black men in sport jackets and ties entered our house. My frequent playmate Wayne turned to his mother and said, "Mama, they're colored!" Wayne wasn't allowed to play with me after that, and his parents quit speaking to my mother. [...]
In her Los Angeles public school, my daughter learned a lot about the missions and about the ancient Greeks, but not much about the segregated South. When President Obama was running the first time, I tried to talk to her about how far the country had come. I wanted her to understand how incredible it was that we would be helping to elect the nation's first non-white president. But she — and her Latino boyfriend — only shrugged.
I am glad race seems unimportant to her and her friends, but I worry that they don't fully understand.
An old foreign correspondent friend of mine, once based in Jerusalem, has turned to blogging. As the story he used to cover flared up once more, he wrote: “This conflict is the political equivalent of LSD – distorting the senses of all those who come into contact with it, and sending them crazy.” He was speaking chiefly of those who debate the issue from afar: the passions that are stirred, the bitterness and loathing that spew forth, especially online, of a kind rarely glimpsed when faraway wars are discussed. While an acid trip usually comes in lurid colours, here it induces a tendency to monochrome: one side is pure good, the other pure evil – with not a shade of grey in sight.Rami G. Khouri at The Daily Star of Lebanon writes Go to the roots when addressing Gaza:
But the LSD effect also seems to afflict the participants in the conflict. They too can act crazy, taking steps that harm not only their enemy but themselves. Again and again, their actions are self-defeating.
Start with Israel – and not with the politicians and generals, but ordinary Israelis. Right now they are filled with the burning sense that the world does not understand them, and even hates them.
The Palestinian-Israeli conflict has experienced recurring and increasingly vicious bouts of violence because the rights and interests of the Palestinians have consistently been neglected in favor of the rights of Israelis to their own secure state. This lopsided situation that favors Zionist over Palestinian Arab interests has been consistently supported by the major Western powers, reflected this week in the American cease-fire proposal that satisfied Israeli aims much more than Palestinian demands.Henry Giroux at Truthout writes Killing Machines and the Madness of Militarism: From Gaza to Afghanistan:
As long as this situation persists, it will be impossible to secure a credible short-term cease-fire or to start addressing the deeper underlying issues that define the century-old conflict between Zionism and Arabism.
The apostles of militarism offer jobs to the public that engage in the production of organized violence; they preach war as a cleansing solution, while they sanitize language of any meaning, erasing the suffering, misery, and horror inflicted by their drone missiles, jets, Apache helicopters, and bombs. All that has to be invoked are the words "collateral damage" or "military necessity" and the death-laden actions produced by the new militarists disappear into the dark vocabulary of authoritarian doublespeak. War is no longer a source of alarm, but pride, and it has become an organizing principle of many societies. Informed by a kind of primitive tribalism, militarism enshrines a deadly type of masculinity that mythologizes violence and mimics the very terrorism it claims to be fighting. Militarism and war have not only changed the nature of the political order but the nature and character of American life.John Judis at The New Republic writes Who Bears More Responsibility for the War in Gaza?
When children are killed by Israeli missiles while playing on a beach in Gaza, the horror and sheer brutality of the murderous act is wiped away by the crude argument that such needless slaughter is a military necessity. There is no defense for killing children, regardless of whether it is done by the Israeli state, the United States, Hamas, or anyone else.
ike almost all conflicts that have occurred in Israel, this latest war in Gaza has provoked a furious debate. Was Israel’s ground and air assault on the Gaza Strip justified by Hamas’s rocket attacks? Or were Hamas’s rocket attacks a justifiable response to Israel’s arrest of hundreds of Hamas supporters and officials? I am not going to defend Hamas’s charter, which describes Israel and the occupied territories as an “Islamic Waqf,” nor its strategy of hurling rockets at Israel, but I am also not going to defend Israel’s response. What matters to me, and what is often ignored, is the overall moral and political context in which this and past conflicts have occurred.
Israel is one of the world’s last colonial powers, and the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza are its unruly subjects. Like many past anti-colonial movements, Hamas and Fatah are deeply flawed and have sometimes poorly represented their peoples, and sometimes unnecessarily provoked the Israelis and used tactics that violate the rules of war. But the Israeli government has continued to expand settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem and to rule harshly over its subjects, while maintaining a ruinous blockade on Gaza. That’s the historical backdrop to the events now taking place.