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Nov 15 2010

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”.

C├ęsar Chelala Human Rights Groups United in Demand for Bush’s Prosecution

Several human rights groups are united in their demand that former president George W. Bush face prosecution following his open admission that he authorized the use of waterboarding, one of the cruelest forms of torture. Former president Bush made his admission during interviews publicizing his book, Decision Points. Bush’s admission of having authorized torture, however serious the claim is, is just one of the reasons the former president could be prosecuted.

During an interview with NBC News Bush said, “Three people were waterboarded and I believe that decision saved lives.” And he added, “My job was to protect America. And I did.” This is not the opinion of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Amnesty International (AI) and Human Rights Watch, three of the most prestigious human rights organizations.

“The Department of Justice has made clear that waterboarding is torture and, as such, a crime under the federal anti-torture statute.18 U.S.C. 2340 (c). The United States has historically prosecuted waterboarding as a crime. In light of the admission by the former President, and the legally correct determination by the Department of Justice that waterboarding is a crime, you should ensure that Mr. Durham’s current investigation into detainee interrogations encompasses the conduct and decisions of former President Bush,” says the ACLU in a letter addressed to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.

New York Times Editorial: Try Something Hard: Governing

Many Americans who voted this fall expressed a deep mistrust of government. House Republicans’ triumphalist vows to tie up the Obama administration with nonstop investigations and obstructionist budget crimping are not going to allay those voters’ concerns – or solve any of the country’s problems. . . .

This combativeness from the new House majority is an early symptom of its preference for politicking over the tougher job of governing in hard times. Its plans already feature the low cunning of snipping budget lines so the Internal Revenue Service cannot enforce key provisions of the health care reform law. (Why not defund Postal Service document deliverers while they’re at it?) . . .

In principle, Congress’s oversight of the executive branch can be a vital necessity. Politically, however, both parties push its limits from time to time. Now is no time for myriad searches for sensational distractions when the nation’s voters cry out for solid progress.

Annie Gell: Haiti’s Unnatural Disasters

International aid, trade, debt and governance policies over many decades made Haiti dependent on imported food and materials and crippled the domestic economy. These policies forced Haitian farmers off their land and into the low-lying cities and encouraged the deforestation of Haiti’s hillsides. The policies also severely curtailed the Haitian government’s ability to provide basic public services to its citizens, including healthcare, housing and sanitation services. The result is a country and a population that are acutely vulnerable to environmental stresses like earthquakes, diseases and storms. . . . .

Despite the generous pledges of billions of dollars in assistance by individuals and countries across the world, only a small percentage of promised funds has reached organizations in Haiti, and only a miniscule fraction of the money delivered has reached the Haitian people themselves. Many Haitians are living just as they were immediately after the earthquake with utterly inadequate access to sanitation, shelter, food and clean water.

William Greider: Obama Without Tears

Given the election results, the question Barack Obama has to decide for himself is whether he really wants to be president in the fullest sense. Not a moderator for earnest policy discussions. Not the national cheerleader for hope. Not the worthy visionary describing a distant future. Those qualities are elements in any successful presidency, and Obama applies them with admirable skill and seriousness.What’s missing with this president is power-a strong grasp of the powers he possesses and the willingness to govern the country with them. During the past two years, this missing quality has been consistently obvious in his rhetoric and substantive policy positions. There is a cloying Boy Scout quality in his style of leadership-the troop leader urging boys to work together on their merit badges-and none of the pigheaded stubbornness of his “I am the decider” predecessor, nor the hard steel of Lyndon Johnson or the guile of Richard Nixon.

Esther J. Cepeda: The Missing Immigration Debate

Chicago – If I were a member of the third largest minority group in the United States, I’d be really frustrated that the immigration issue continues to be discussed almost exclusively with Latin Americans in mind.

As immigrants’ rights advocacy groups across the country wonder whether there’s even a slim chance Congress will take up debate about comprehensive reform anytime soon, recent national conversations have been set exclusively in the context of the Latino vote and Republican Hispanics.

Robert Freeman It’s Official: Rich Declare War on the Middle Class

For the past thirty years the rich have been waging war on the middle class.  It’s been astonishingly effective, partly because it has been undeclared.  But even that pretense is now being abandoned.  The President’s National Deficit Commission has effectively declared that the rich will now go after what is left of working and middle class wealth and will take whatever steps are necessary to seize it.  If allowed to succeed, their plan will reduce Americans to a state of serfdom.

Ronald Reagan began the war on the middle class with his “supply-side” economics.  Its very purpose, according to David Stockman, Reagan’s Budget Director, was to transfer wealth and income upwards.  It cut the marginal tax rate on the highest income earners from 75% to 35% while dramatically expanding spending for war.  The results were two-fold:  massive federal debt and an astonishing rise in the share of income and wealth going to those who were already the wealthiest people in the world.

The national debt quadrupled between 1980 and 1992.  George W. Bush would repeat Reagan’s policies and double it again between 2000 and 2008.  Meanwhile, the share of national income going to the top 1% more than doubled, from 9% to 24%.  The share going to the top one-tenth of 1% of income earners more than tripled.  We now have the most unequal distribution of income in the developing world and the inequality is growing rapidly.

1 comment

  1. TMC

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