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Aug 06 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”.

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Peter Van Buren: Welcome to Post-Constitution America

What If Your Country Begins to Change and No One Notices?

On July 30, 1778, the Continental Congress created the first whistleblower protection law, stating “that it is the duty of all persons in the service of the United States to give the earliest information to Congress or other proper authority of any misconduct, frauds, or misdemeanors committed by any officers or persons in the service of these states.”

Two hundred thirty-five years later, on July 30, 2013, Bradley Manning was found guilty on 20 of the 22 charges for which he was prosecuted, specifically for “espionage” and for videos of war atrocities he released, but not for “aiding the enemy.”

Days after the verdict, with sentencing hearings in which Manning could receive 136 years of prison time ongoing, the pundits have had their say. The problem is that they missed the most chilling aspect of the Manning case: the way it ushered us, almost unnoticed, into post-Constitutional America.

Lance deHaven-Smith: As an American, I question the US travel alerts and embassy closures

We’ve seen this before where US presidents cite terrorism concerns in an effort to win back public opinion

It is unfortunate, but true that Americans cannot trust the statements of their leaders about threats to national security. Ironically, this is especially so when questions are being raised about the competence of the government or the legitimacy of its policies. The United States government has a long history of deflecting criticism by crying wolf, especially the terrorism kind of wolf. [..]

There are several reasons to wonder if this threat is being concocted – or at least exaggerated – for political purposes. One reason, of course, is the timing of the alert. Allegedly based on electronic eavesdropping, the alert comes in the midst of a national and international political firestorm over the continuing revelations of Edward Snowden about the electronic surveillance programs of the National Security Agency. Opposition to the NSA dragnet that is sweeping up data on millions of Americans’ emails, phone calls, and internet activities is snowballing in US public opinion and in Congress. The NSA programs have also become a major issue in the domestic politics of America’s allies.

Michael Boyle: President Obama’s disastrous counterterrorism legacy

A president who came into office pledging to take the ‘war on terror’ out of the shadows plunged it deeper into those shadows

When future historians look back on the presidency of Barack Obama, they will conclude that counterterrorism was the policy area with the biggest gap between the hopes of his supporters and reality of his actions in office. [..]

While Obama has had some important accomplishments, he has failed to deliver on a comprehensive counterterrorism policy that does not undermine American ideals. Although he ended the use of torture by US personnel, his administration has refused to seek accountability for those in the Bush administration that instituted this practice. Rendition of terrorist suspects to foreign countries has continued, with the US now only receiving unverifiable “assurances” that torture will not be used. Guantánamo Bay will remain a national disgrace for the foreseeable future. In the last few months, the US has even resorted to the grotesque spectacle of force-feeding its detainees to keep them alive during Ramadan.

John Nichols: Big Media Story Isn’t Bezos and the Post, It’s the RNC Threatening CNN, NBCn

So if the sale of the Post is not as dramatic a development as might initially seem to be the case, what is?

The big deal in media this week has to do with the relationship of broadcast and cable news networks to the two major political parties. And it matters-more-because it gets to question that is at the heart of all of our discussions about the future of print, broadcast and digital media: Will we have a sufficient journalism, and a sufficiently independent journalism, to sustain democracy?

Ever since the Democratic and Republican parties took over the nation’s presidential debates in 1987, with the creation of a corporate-funded “Commission on Presidential Debates” run by the former chairs of the Democratic National Committee and the Republican National Committee, the dialogue in presidential election years has been the ultimate insiders’ game.

Dean Baker: The Economy Is Awful and Larry Summers Should Not Be Fed Chair

In his recent defense of Larry Summers, President Obama appeared to be badly confused about the state of the economy. This apparently leads him to believe that the country should be grateful to Larry Summers for his successes, as opposed to furious at him for his failures.

Obama’s story is that the economy was in a free fall when he took office and the program that was in large part designed by Summers helped turn it around. While it is true that the economy was in free fall, there was no reason to expect that to continue regardless of what policies were pursued. Note that in every single wealthy country the sharp drop in output at the end of 2008 and the beginning of 2009 was stopped and reversed by the end of the year. Other countries were not able to rely on the genius of Larry Summers in setting their policies.

Robert Reich: The Three Biggest Lies About Why Corporate Taxes Should Be Lowered

nstead of spending August on the beach, corporate lobbyists are readying arguments for when Congress returns in September about why corporate taxes should be lowered.

But they’re lies. You need to know why so you can spread the truth. [..]

Corporations want corporate tax reduction to be the centerpiece of “tax reform” come the fall. The president has already signaled a willingness to sign on in return for more infrastructure investment. But the arguments for corporate tax reduction are specious.