Category Archives: PND Opinion

What we don't talk about when we talk about rural poverty

Source: In These Times
by Lauren Gurley

"In 2001, Michael Muhammad, a 45-year-old baker from Detroit, moved 1,000 miles south to rural Fayette, Miss. Muhammad saw opportunity in the town’s cheap land, low property taxes and small but tight-knit African-American Muslim community. He and several other followers of the New Nation of Islam pooled their resources for what would be the town’s only bakery — and in 2004, Fayette Bakery and Coffee Shop opened for business. But business was slow, and Muhammad soon began picking up night shifts at a motel in a neighboring county. To increase sales, his employees took turns driving a food truck from Jackson to Baton Rouge, selling fritters, donuts and bean pies." [editor's note: Rural poverty is not confined to "black folks"; spend time in any rural area, North or South, regardless of its "racial demographic" – SAT] (03/27/17)

California bill to ban "fake news" would be disastrous for political speech

Source: Electronic Frontier Foundation
by Dave Maass

"Memo to California Assemblymember Ed Chau: you can't fight fake news with a bad law. On Tuesday, the California Assembly's Committee on Privacy and Consumer Affairs, which Chau chairs, will consider A.B. 1104 — a censorship bill so obviously unconstitutional, we had to double check that it was real. It's real. The proposed law reads: '18320.5. It is unlawful for a person to knowingly and willingly make, publish or circulate on an Internet Web site, or cause to be made, published, or circulated in any writing posted on an Internet Web site, a false or deceptive statement designed to influence the vote on either of the following: (a) Any issue submitted to voters at an election. (b) Any candidate for election to public office.' In other words, it would be illegal to be wrong on the internet if it could impact an election." (03/27/17)

Disappeared on the border: "Chase and scatter" — to death

Source: CounterPunch
by John Heid

"The term 'disappeared' has generally been associated with people kidnapped by authoritarian regimes and killed without explanation. The United Nations' definition of 'enforced disappearance' now includes state policies which result in persons being disappeared. People don't just vanish into thin air in the Sonoran Desert. A sophisticated technological network which includes surveillance towers, drones, ground sensors, and cameras work together with an ever-increasing number of Border Patrol agents to create a vast zone of enforcement which pushes people further into formidable, lethal terrain. In effect, the desert becomes a weapon. People do not just disappear. They are disappeared. Their numbers are unknowable, uncountable, and reprehensible — at least in the view of civil society. Even one lost is one too many, let alone thousands. The 1999 'Prevention through Deterrence' enforcement directive which fueled this catastrophe is not only fatally flawed, it is criminal." (03/27/17)

Is the Russia investigation turning the left into conspiracy theorists?

Source: The New Republic
by Jeet Heer

"Last week, after Wednesday’s deadly rampage near Parliament in London, British conservative journalist Louise Mensch tweeted that the terrorist attack has 'got everything to do with Russia.' She doubled down Friday on HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher, propounding the theory, without factual evidence, that allies of the Russian state were stirring up anti-immigrant sentiment in the wake of the attack. 'Partisans of Russia were out in the streets saying it was an illegal immigrant who did it, trying to turn the London people against our Muslim friends and neighbor,' Mensch said. One of her fellow guests, MSNBC host Chris Hayes, looked startled by the claim, as well he might since it made little sense." [editor's note: I wish some of my "progressive" friends would read this one – SAT] (03/27/17)

How right-wing media saved ObamaCare

Source: The Atlantic
by Conor Friedersdorf

[T]the GOP didn't honestly acknowledge the hard tradeoffs inherent in health-care policy before making the case for a market-driven system. Republicans tried to hide the fact of tradeoffs …. And it helps explain how Republicans could win a presidential election and lots of congressional elections on the promise of repealing and replacing Obamacare, only to produce bill so wildly unappealing to voters. Once Republicans commenced governing, the tradeoffs couldn't be elided any longer. Still, even the insight that Republicans spent years willfully obscuring the tradeoffs involved in health-care policy doesn't fully explain the last week. Focusing on GOP officials leaves out yet another important actor in this debacle: the right-wing media." (03/27/17)

Trump finds freedom lacks loyalty

Source: Town Hall
by Debra J Saunders

"President Donald Trump failed to persuade enough House Republicans to vote for his American Health Care Act, leading to its withdrawal from the House floor on Friday. How did the effort to pass a replacement for Obamacare go wrong? Let me count the ways. One. The GOP House has too many members who are like Trump was 2016, when he acted as a Caucus of One. He bucked the GOP establishment and assured the party base that the path to victory was to shout over any and all voices of moderation. When critics said Trump was crossing the line, he rarely retreated. The House GOP Freedom Caucus (a right-of-right rump with close to 30 members) followed the same playbook. On the health care bill, members acted like 30 Trumps, pitted against one Trump." (03/26/17)

Ten lessons from the Republican healthcare debacle

Source: The American Prospect
by Paul Waldman

"At the end of last week, the legislative Hindenburg that was the Republican plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act met its end in a blazing inferno of failure and recrimination. This was the most momentous occurrence of the early period of the Donald Trump presidency, and it's full of lessons that will be good to keep in mind in the coming days. Here are ten of the most important ones: 1.) Don't hire a businessman to do a politician's job. … 2.) Donald Trump is not a very good negotiator. … 3.) Paul Ryan is not very good at being speaker of the House." [editor's note: It gets better, or worse, depending on your own focus – SAT] (03/26/17)

Give Americans straight talk on Syria

Source: USA Today
by Noah C Rothman

"'Vietnam Syndrome' haunted the United States for over a decade after the fall of Saigon. Yet American military missions did not end amid this period of national insecurity and introspection; they were simply not subject to much public debate. Americans did not want to know. A similar malady seems to have accompanied America’s withdrawal from Iraq. U.S. military deployments around the world haven’t abated. If anything, they are intensifying. In Syria, in particular, the slow draw-up of regular American forces has been the focus of far less scrutiny than that mission deserves. But America’s political leaders are not leveling with the public, and the public doesn’t seem to care." (03/27/17)

Trump promised bigly infrastructure, but his budget cuts it

Source: Our Future
by Dave Johnson

"As a presidential candidate, Donald Trump promised to spend $1 trillion to modernize America’s infrastructure. There were no specifics. As economist Brad DeLong put it, Trump only offered 'plans to have plans.' Now Trump has released a budget outline, and the plans to have plans turned out to be a plan to have no plan at all. Trump’s 'America First' budget delivers the opposite of his campaign promises, and it should come as no surprise that when it comes to infrastructure, the rubber doesn’t meet the road." (03/27/17)

I know paid protesters are real (because I'm one of them)

Source: Cracked
by JF Sargent

"'Paid protesters' are all over the news recently, from Donald Trump's accusation that all the people attending anti-Trump rallies are secretly funded by his enemies, to the evidence that Trump himself hired actors to pretend to be his supporters. Or maybe you've heard Elon Musk accuse a disgruntled employee of being a paid union shill? So, what? Is this merely an attempt to discredit the other party, or is it a real job? We talked to 'Matt' about all of it (he started as an unpaid protester, graduated to 'Paid Protester' at the 2011 Take Back the Capitol event, and worked as an organizer for the Service Employees International Union), and he explained how a career in activism really works." (03/27/17)