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Jun 19 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”.

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New York Times Editorial: Egypt’s Democracy Interrupted

he once-promising democratic transition in Egypt is in peril after a power grab by the generals and the courts – holdovers from Hosni Mubarak’s repressive regime. This is not what Egyptians rallied and died for in Tahrir Square. It guarantees more turmoil. Given Egypt’s importance in the Arab world, it sets a terrible example for other societies trying to get beyond autocratic rule. [..]

American officials were right to warn the generals on Monday that they risk losing billions of dollars if they don’t swiftly transfer power to the president, ensure elections for a new Parliament and begin writing a new constitution with help from a broad range of Egyptians. The United States needs to work with Egypt to maintain the peace treaty and a stable border with Israel. But an undemocratic Egypt in perpetual turmoil is no help to its own people or Israel or the rest of the region.

Ari Melber: Do Liberals Support Obama’s Kill List?

President Obama is wielding several security powers that have been historically controversial among Democrats, from indefinitely detaining Guantánamo prisoners to shutting down torture lawsuits as “state secrets” that cannot be addressed in court. There has not been a major Democratic backlash, but all the recent attention on Obama’s “kill list”-a set of targets that has included American citizens as young as 16 years old-seemed like an opening for a new chapter in challenging the administration’s security policies.

For starters, the kill list is just different. Many divisive security measures linked to the Bush administration have been inherently convoluted-Obama’s team had to clean up a mess while developing new policies on the fly. For example, take the Bush-era detainees. Some are difficult to convict in civilian courts because the evidence against them was gathered through torture. Obama supporters understand that the administration’s options are more limited on this score, a predicament Daniel Klaidman stresses in his new chronicle of Obama’s terror policies, Kill or Capture.

The drone program, however, goes far beyond what Bush ever did. It was not required by the past. And it sets a stunning precedent for the future.

Dean Baker: Republicans Love Big Government (So Long as It Serves Big Business)

Last week Washington Post blogger Greg Sargent picked up on a blogpost from Democracy editor Michael Tomasky about how liberals should be touting the merits of “government.” That is a great idea, if the point is to advance the conservatives’ agenda.

It is astounding how happy liberals are to work for the right by implying that conservatives somehow just want to leave markets to themselves whereas the liberals want to bring in the pointy-headed bureaucrats to tell people what they should do. This view is, of course, nonsense. Pick an issue, any issue, and you will almost invariably find the right actively pushing for a big role for government.

However, for conservatives the goal is not ensuring a decent standard of living for the bulk of the population. Rather the goal is ensuring that money is redistributed upward. And, of course, the conservatives are smart enough not to own up to their use of the government. [..]

It is totally understandable that the right would try to conceal the massive extent to which it relies on government to redistribute income upward. It is very hard to figure out why the country’s leading progressive thinkers want to help them.

Simon Johnson: The risk Jamie Dimon poses to the Federal Reserve System’s legitimacy

If Tim Geithner says it’s a problem that the CEO of America’s biggest bank chairs the New York Fed board, be assured it is

The Federal Reserve System was created in 1913, a late arrival to the world of central banks. The American public and banking community had long distrusted the notion that there should be one authority in charge of managing the financial system. At least since the presidency of Andrew Jackson in the 1830s, there had been aversion to giving too much power to one bank. Much of this suspicion of can be traced back to Thomas Jefferson and his belief that that a “financial aristocracy” could take over the newly independent United States. [..]The Federal Reserve System was created in 1913, a late arrival to the world of central banks. The American public and banking community had long distrusted the notion that there should be one authority in charge of managing the financial system. At least since the presidency of Andrew Jackson in the 1830s, there had been aversion to giving too much power to one bank. Much of this suspicion of can be traced back to Thomas Jefferson and his belief that that a “financial aristocracy” could take over the newly independent United States. [..]

Arguably, this system has always been tilted towards over-representing bankers, particularly those based on Wall Street. This issue has become particularly sensitive of late because Jamie Dimon – CEO of JP Morgan Chase, now the largest bank in the country – is a class A director of the New York Fed.

Chris Hedges: Occupy Will Be Back

In every conflict, insurgency, uprising and revolution I have covered as a foreign correspondent, the power elite used periods of dormancy, lulls and setbacks to write off the opposition. This is why obituaries for the Occupy movement are in vogue. And this is why the next groundswell of popular protest-and there will be one-will be labeled as “unexpected,” a “shock” and a “surprise.” The television pundits and talking heads, the columnists and academics who declare the movement dead are as out of touch with reality now as they were on Sept. 17 when New York City’s Zuccotti Park was occupied. Nothing this movement does will ever be seen by them as a success. Nothing it does will ever be good enough. Nothing, short of its dissolution and the funneling of its energy back into the political system, will be considered beneficial.

Those who have the largest megaphones in our corporate state serve the very systems of power we are seeking to topple. They encourage us, whether on Fox or MSNBC, to debate inanities, trivia, gossip or the personal narratives of candidates. They seek to channel legitimate outrage and direct it into the black hole of corporate politics. They spin these silly, useless stories from the “left” or the “right” while ignoring the egregious assault by corporate power on the citizenry, an assault enabled by the Democrats and the Republicans. Don’t waste time watching or listening. They exist to confuse and demoralize you.

Joe Nocera: When ALEC Takes Over Your Town

The Rhode Island State Legislature finally adjourned its 2012 session around 3:30 a.m. on Wednesday morning. It had been a brutal last few days.

In May, the State Senate had approved a supplemental property tax increase of 13.8 percent, to be imposed on the residents of Woonsocket, a struggling city with a $10 million deficit. But when the bill moved to the House of Representatives, two conservative Woonsocket representatives refused to go along, and no amount of late-night negotiating could change their minds. Everyone finally gave up and went home.

The state has named a budget commission to grapple with Woonsocket’s money woes. Ultimately, though, a receiver may have to be appointed – which is to say, a person not beholden to the voters, who would nonetheless have the power to abrogate union contracts and do whatever else he or she deems necessary to erase the deficit. Incredibly, the two Woonsocket legislators have pushed for a receiver, despite the pain that it would likely bring their city.