“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.
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Paul Krugman: Fight the Future
Last week the International Monetary Fund, whose normal role is that of stern disciplinarian to spendthrift governments, gave the United States some unusual advice. “Lighten up,” urged the fund. “Enjoy life! Seize the day!”
O.K., fund officials didn’t use quite those words, but they came close, with an article in IMF Survey magazine titled “Ease Off Spending Cuts to Boost U.S. Recovery.” In its more formal statement, the fund argued that the sequester and other forms of fiscal contraction will cut this year’s U.S. growth rate by almost half, undermining what might otherwise have been a fairly vigorous recovery. And these spending cuts are both unwise and unnecessary.
Dana Milbank: The left turns compliant on violating civil liberties
President Obama, who as a Democratic senator accused the Bush administration of violating civil liberties in the name of security, now vigorously defends his own administration’s collection of Americans’ phone records and Internet activities.
Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid said he thinks Congress has done sufficient intelligence oversight. His evidence? Opinion polls. [..]
There are a few Democrats who have upheld the party’s tradition of championing civil liberties – such as John Conyers (Mich.), who is introducing a bill with conservative Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) to curtail the program, and Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), who with Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) introduced legislation backed by eight senators requiring more disclosure of secret court rulings.
But the Conyers bill is likely to go nowhere in the House, and Reid was cool to the Merkley proposal, saying only that “I’ll be happy to take a look.”
If he does look, he’ll find that they’re doing what progressives should do: Protecting the people from a too-secretive government.
Just because the authorities have taken private data from Facebook doesn’t make it right.
The federal government is not a grocery store or a social networking site. The government has a special relationship with its citizenry. The terms of that relationship in the US are spelled out in the Constitution of the United States of America. The right to be “secure in our persons, homes, and papers” has a long history of protection in the United States. In response to the tyranny of British rule, this country was founded on principles that embody freedom from government intrusion in our lives.
Unless and until the government – in the form of police, federal agents, or a prosecuting attorney – can show that there is probable cause to believe that a person is engaged in criminal activity, we have rights against the government (what legal scholars call “negative rights”). This can be thought of as the list of things that the government may not do to you or take from you without proving to a judge that they may take it from you. And you are entitled to a fair determination on that question – this is your “due process” right.
What can’t the government take from you without due process? Your property, your life, and yes, your privacy. I have argued above that our clicking behaviour is valuable, so you might think of your internet footprint as your property.
Robert Kuttner: Thinking About the Government
I remember a time when liberals were the people who used government as a democratic counterweight to the abuses of capitalism, and conservatives were those close to big business who wanted to limit government. Liberals also recognized, with the Framers of the Constitution, that government had to be strong enough to protect the rights of the weak. Conservatives didn’t like the power of the state, but were fine with concentrated private power.[..]
But, lately the lines have blurred. The old, stylized picture of what liberals and conservatives want of government doesn’t mean much, especially to younger Americans, because they have seldom experienced it.
Richard (RJ) Eskow: 9 Ways the Right’s Cradle to Grave “Randian State” Is An Assault on Millennials
Conservatives keep claiming liberals want a “cradle to grave nanny state.” That rhetoric has distracted us from the real social re-engineering taking place all around us. The right, along with its “centrist” collaborators, is transforming our nation into a bloodless and soulless Randian State.
Their decades-long assault on our core social values is on the verge of consuming its first complete generation of Americans. Born at the dawn of the Reagan era, Millennials were the first to be fully subjected to this all-out attack on the idea that we take care of each other in this country, and they’ll pay for it from the cradle to the grave.
Some of us are the parents of Millennials. On this Father’s Day it’s hard not to wonder: Who’ll fight with them, and for them?
Congressman James Clyburn is supposed to represent the interests of more than half a million South Carolinians, the majority of them Black. One might expect a Black congressman to have more than a passing interest in the Bill of Rights and protection of civil liberties. The revelation that Uncle Sam is building up a dossier on everyone with a telephone and a computer connection should be at least mildly upsetting to anyone that calls himself a Black leader. But Congressman Clyburn has but one priority: to protect the image and legacy of Barack Obama.
Rather than thank whistleblower Edward Snowden for revealing the massive scope of government spying under Obama, Congressman Clyburn sees a conspiracy against the president. Otherwise, how could a 30-year-old white boy who dropped out of high school get in a position to blow the whistle on the Obama administration. “I haven’t gotten to where I am in politics without relying on my gut,” said Clyburn. “And my gut tells me this is an effort to embarrass the president.”