«

»

Jan 19 2013

Punting the Pundits

“Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

Robert Sheer: Another Word for Propaganda

Why aren’t film director Kathryn Bigelow’s claimed government sources, including employees of the CIA, in jail like Pfc. Bradley Manning? Or, at the very least, being investigated for their role in one of the most damaging leaks of national security information in U.S. history?

How did the Japanese-owned Sony Corporation that released Bigelow’s “Zero Dark Thirty” gain access to information on the 10-year hunt for Osama bin Laden, so highly classified that it was denied to the official 9/11 Commission that investigated the terrorist attacks? The opening frame of the movie states the crime, clearly claiming that “Zero” is “based on firsthand accounts of actual events.” [..]

The few brave whistle-blowers in our government who have attempted to warn us of this dangerous course, like Manning, who is accused of exposing the killing of innocent Iraqi civilians, have endured harsh punishment and been threatened with even greater penalties. Not so the eyewitnesses on whom Bigelow relied for her film’s knee-jerk acceptance of a U.S. torture policy.

Robert Pollin: A Modest Proposal for Jacob Lew: Acknowledge Three Simple Facts about U.S. Fiscal Reality

In a reasonable world, in which we recognized the culpability of big-time D.C. politicians and bureaucrats who allowed Wall Street hyper-speculation to run wild and eventually cause the 2008-09 crash and Great Recession, Jacob Lew would be understood as a terrible choice as President Obama’s second-term Treasury Secretary, replacing Timothy Geithner. [..]

It is clear that debate over the fiscal deficit and austerity will dominate Lew’s confirmation hearings and at least his initial period in office, if he ends up getting confirmed. But without pursuing any deep explorations about who should be taxed more or less, or whether 47 percent of U.S. citizens are indeed freeloaders, I would just propose that Lew be willing to recognize three sets of very simple, irrefutable facts about the current U.S. fiscal condition. [..]

Robert Jensen: Torture Is Trivial

Compared to its other crimes, that is

The great American torture debate has been rekindled by the nationwide release of “Zero Dark Thirty,” the hot new movie about the CIA’s hunt for Osama bin Laden.

But all the fussing over whether or not the movie condones, glorifies, and/or misrepresents torture is trivial, because the United States’ use of torture after 9/11 is trivial in the context of larger U.S. crimes.

Let me be clear: I don’t support torture. I think torture is immoral. I think government officials who ordered or condoned torture should be held accountable. Torture crosses a line that should not be crossed.

But when I look at the decade since 9/11, torture is hardly the greatest crime of the U.S. war machine. Since 9/11, the United States has helped destroy two countries with, at best, sketchy moral and legal justification. The invasion of Afghanistan was connected to the crimes of 9/11, at least at first, but quickly devolved into a nonsensical occupation. The invasion of Iraq, which was clearly illegal, was a scandal of unprecedented scale, even by the standards of past U.S. invasions and covert operations.

Terry O’Neill: 40 Years After Roe v. Wade, We Still Fall Short of Reproductive Justice

Access to abortion care is a necessary part of reproductive healthcare, but not the totality of it

Forty years ago this month, the Supreme Court affirmed a woman’s right to terminate an unwanted pregnancy. The landmark Roe v. Wade decision legalized abortion in the United States, forever changing and literally saving the lives of countless women. The impact of Roe has been both inspiring and frustratingly insufficient. [..]

Conservatives have already signaled that they’ll try to distract voters from issues like abortion and birth control. Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell waited until the Friday between Christmas and New Year’s to sign a law imposing impossible and unnecessary regulations on abortion clinics, thus forcing their closure. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal told the Republican Governors Association that conservatives shouldn’t change their hardline agenda, just the way they talk about it. The last thing they want in 2014 is for voters to become knowledgeable about their social agenda and energized to defeat them.

David Sirota: Gun control doesn’t violate the Second Amendment!

How can we address gun violence when the mere discussion of legislation is met with threats of armed revolt?

How is a U.S. Constitution enshrining a baseline right to bear arms for a “well regulated militia” now seen by many as mandating that firearms be sold in completely unregulated fashion to any lunatic looking to stockpile a military-grade arsenal of assault weapons?

If, as gun proponents typically assert, the Second Amendment is absolute and we therefore cannot regulate, say, assault rifles, does the government have the right to regulate any other weapons? Should, for instance, citizens be able to own automatic machine guns? What about hand-held rocket launchers – is Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia right to suggest that they might be constitutionally protected? What about an individual right to own an armed flying drone?

Alternately, if we agree that some lines can be drawn, then doesn’t today’s gun control conversation represent a simple disagreement over where exactly to place those lines rather than a Stalinist assault on the basic right to own a gun?

Michael Winsip: Corporate Party Favors at the Inaugural Shindig

Four years ago, the committee for President Obama’s first swearing-in proudly announced that no corporate cash would be accepted for the festivities, presenting the decision as “a commitment to change business as usual in Washington.” Nor was money taken from registered lobbyists and foreign agents, non-U.S. citizens or political action committees. What’s more, individual contributions were capped at $50,000.

This year, there’s a new attitude and a new push for dollars — the goal is set at $50 million. The rules against lobbyists, PACs and non-citizens are still in effect, but now, contributions of as much as a million are being solicited from individuals as well as businesses (although you’re banned from giving if you received taxpayer bailout money from the Troubled Asset Relief Program — TARP — and haven’t paid it back!).