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Mar 13 2012

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”.

Chris Hedges: Supreme Court Likely to Endorse Obama’s War on Whistle-Blowers

Totalitarian systems disempower an unsuspecting population by gradually making legal what was once illegal. They incrementally corrupt and distort law to exclusively serve the goals of the inner sanctums of power and strip protection from the citizen. Law soon becomes the primary tool to advance the crimes of the elite and punish those who tell the truth. The state saturates the airwaves with official propaganda to replace news. Fear, and finally terror, creates an intellectual and moral void.

We have very little space left to maneuver. The iron doors of the corporate state are slamming shut. And a conviction of Bradley Manning, or any of the five others charged by the Obama administration under the Espionage Act of 1917 with passing on government secrets to the press, would effectively terminate public knowledge of the internal workings of the corporate state. What we live under cannot be called democracy. What we will live under if the Supreme Court upholds the use of the Espionage Act to punish those who expose war crimes and state lies will be a species of corporate fascism. And this closed society is, perhaps, only a few weeks or months away.

Eugene Robinson: End the Afghan mission now

It was clear before Sunday’s horrific massacre of civilians that it’s past time for the U.S. mission in Afghanistan to end. Now the only question should be how quickly we can get our troops onto transport planes to fly them home.

What are we accomplishing, aside from enraging the Afghan population we’re allegedly trying to protect? How are we supposed to convince them that a civilian massacre carried out by a U.S. soldier is somehow preferable to a civilian massacre carried out by the Taliban? How does it make any of us safer to have the United States military known for burning Korans and killing innocent Muslim children in their beds? [..]

This is supposed to be a period of transition from U.S. occupation to Afghan government control. But what do we expect to accomplish between now and 2014, when our troops are supposed to come home? We can be confident that the Afghan government will still be feckless and corrupt. We can anticipate that the Afghan military will still lack personnel, equipment and training. We can be absolutely certain that the Taliban insurgents will still constitute a threat, because – and this is what gung-ho advocates of the war fail to grasp – they live there. To them, Afghanistan is not a battlefield but a home.

It’s their country, not ours. In increasingly clear language, Afghans are telling us to leave. We should listen and oblige.

George Zornick: Progressives Mount Major Campaign to Intimidate Corporate Election Donors

Short of an outright ban of corporate money from elections, disclosure is perhaps the best antidote to the political influence of big business. Notably, since Super PACs disclose donor information, only one-half of one percent of all contributions to the most active Super PACs this campaign season came from publicly traded corporations, which are naturally sensitive to coming under attack for political activities.

Business interests instead prefer the type of electioneering practiced by nonprofits like the US Chamber of Commerce, which is planning a $50 million campaign to influence House and Senate races coast to coast this fall-and they won’t have to disclose where a single dollar came from.

With that in mind, a coalition of public interest, labor and progressive groups announced today a major, fifty-state campaign to force disclosure by any means possible. It’s called “Our Democracy is Not For Sale.”

Ben Adler: Will the Courts Protect Voting Rights?

Last week brought two rare pieces of good news for voting rights advocates. In Wisconsin, Dane County Circuit Judge David Flanagan granted a temporary injunction, requested by the NAACP’s Milwaukee branch and immigration rights group Voces de la Frontera, preventing implementation of the state’s photo identification requirement for voting. Meanwhile, the Third Circuit of the US Court of Appeals reaffirmed a 1982 consent decree preventing the Republican National Committee from intimidating minority voters.

Unfortunately, voter intimidation and disenfranchisement will still occur, in Wisconsin and throughout the country.

The Wisconsin law, passed last spring, is facing four suits. The first, which is before Judge Flanagan with a trial set to start April 16, argues that a photo identification requirement violates the right of every citizen to vote guaranteed by the Wisconsin state constitution. The League of Women Voters has filed a similar suit, and argued their case last week in front of Dane County Circuit Judge Richard Niess.

John Kinsman: “Free Trade” is Not Free – Why We All Need to Oppose the TPP

There are always winners and losers in free trade. The winners are the 1% – the wealthy at the top. The losers are the 99% – that means the rest of us.

The latest free trade deal which is now being rushed by President Obama through Congress is known as the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). Thirty years ago, the first free trade deals were enacted under the auspices of the World Trade Organization (WTO), including the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), the Australia/US Free Trade Agreement (AUSFTA), and many more. During this time, the global economic crisis accelerated at an alarming rate with only the 1% reaping the profits. This ongoing crisis will not end until these destructive free trade agreements are repealed and fair trade becomes the norm.

Mark Ames: Slovakia Defies the Kochs and Cato

On Saturday, the tiny EU nation Slovakia held parliamentary elections, and the results surprised the “experts”: The center-left party Smer, derisively described as “populist” in the American media, won in a record landslide, the first time a single party will control the majority in parliament in Slovakia’s post-Communist history.

The “populist” Smer won on an unexpectedly large turnout of 60 percent the socalled experts had been assuring readers there’d be a low turnout of 40 percent.

The high turnout reflects real suffering for the people of Slovakia that goes well beyond mere cynicism – they’re suffering from real, mass impoverishment, brought on by a decade of brutal free-market reforms, which hit the privatized pensions especially hard. That’s where we Americans come in, specifically the Cato Institute – but I’ll get to that in a moment.