Aug 16 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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David A. Stockman: Paul Ryan’s Fairy-Tale Budget Plan

Mr. Stockman was  the director of the Office of Management and Budget from 1981 to 1985 under Pres. Reagan.

Paul D. Ryan is the most articulate and intellectually imposing Republican of the moment, but that doesn’t alter the fact that this earnest congressman from Wisconsin is preaching the same empty conservative sermon.

Thirty years of Republican apostasy – a once grand party’s embrace of the welfare state, the warfare state and the Wall Street-coddling bailout state – have crippled the engines of capitalism and buried us in debt. Mr. Ryan’s sonorous campaign rhetoric about shrinking Big Government and giving tax cuts to “job creators” (read: the top 2 percent) will do nothing to reverse the nation’s economic decline and arrest its fiscal collapse. [..]

In short, Mr. Ryan’s plan is devoid of credible math or hard policy choices. And it couldn’t pass even if Republicans were to take the presidency and both houses of Congress. Mr. Romney and Mr. Ryan have no plan to take on Wall Street, the Fed, the military-industrial complex, social insurance or the nation’s fiscal calamity and no plan to revive capitalist prosperity – just empty sermons.

New York Times Editorial: Missed Chance to Reject Voting Barriers

Judge Robert Simpson of the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania seems to assume that legislators have a high-minded public purpose for the laws they pass. That’s why, on Wednesday morning, he refused to grant an injunction to halt a Republican-backed voter ID law that could disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of poor and minority state residents in November. [..]

The requirement will have a disparate impact on minorities, who tend to lack government IDs at a higher rate than the general population and tend to vote Democratic. Judge Simpson acknowledged he was aware of the remark by Michael Turzai, the Pennsylvania House Republican leader, that the voter ID requirement would win the state for Mitt Romney in November. But there was no proof, he said, that other lawmakers shared that view, and, even if partisan interests were part of the motivation for the law, they are not enough to invalidate it.

Bruce A. Dixon: Tired Old So-Called Leftists Give Same Old Excuses For Supporting Obama in 2012

Abject and unwavering support of President Barack Obama on the part of blacks and what used to be called “the left” has made them pretty much irrelevant since Obama emerged as a viable presidential candidate back in mid-2007. After five years of the Age of Obama, four of them as president, one would imagine there are lots of new reasons to endorse him. But even his abject supporters can’t find any.

For more than four years now, we at Black Agenda Report have chronicled the self-silencing and growing irrelevance of black America and what calls itself “the left” in the age of Obama. Black America has arrayed itself as a veritable wall around the First Black President. But it’s not a wall that protects him from racists or Wall Street predators or Pentagon warmongers. The truth has always been that when we stifle our own tongues and circle the wagons trying to silence critics of the White House we only protect the president and his party from accountability to their supposed base: us.

Charlotte Silver: A revolution against ‘the culture of leaks’?

The US government has been intolerant of whistle blowers under the Obama administration.

California Senator Dianne Feinstein is not happy about the leaks. “The torrent of leaks,” as she calls them, inked onto the pages of the New York Times and the Baltimore Sun; leaks of information that once exposed to the light of day can’t be swept back into hiding. Feinstein, as chairman of the US Senate Intelligence Committee, is set to lead the revolution against what she calls “the culture of leaks” sustained by a security-threatening status quo that’s all too tolerant of whistleblowers and whiners.  

Her solution lies in a measure amended to the Intelligence Authorisation Act for the fiscal year 2013.

The proposal, which has been confirmed as “casting a distinct chill over press coverage of national security issues” by New York Times reporter, Scott Shane, cites the proliferation of leaks as evidence that intelligence agencies must institute an “insider threat programme” that will route out potential leakers.

Furthermore, the proposed bill would threaten harsh punishments to all employees of government intelligence agencies, including being stripped of security clearance and loss of pension if found to have “wrongfully” disclosed information. Finally, the provision would place a gag order on former government officials from publically discussing matters for up to one year after leaving the government employment.

Nick Turse: Washington puts its money on proxy war

The US has been training, advising and conducting joint exercises all over the world with “proxy war on its mind”.

In the 1980s, the US government began funnelling aid to Mujahideen rebels in Afghanistan as part of an American proxy war against the Soviet Union. It was, in the minds of America’s Cold War leaders, a rare chance to bloody the Soviets, to give them a taste of the sort of defeat the Vietnamese, with Soviet help, had inflicted on Washington the decade before. In 1989, after years of bloody combat, the Red Army did indeed limp out of Afghanistan in defeat. Since late 2001, the United States has been fighting its former Afghan proxies and their progeny. Now, after years of bloody combat, it’s the US that’s looking to withdraw the bulk of its forces and once again employ proxies to secure its interests there.

From Asia and Africa to the Middle East and the Americas, the Obama administration is increasingly embracing a multi-faceted, light-footprint brand of warfare. Gone, for the moment at least, are the days of full-scale invasions of the Eurasian mainland. Instead, Washington is now planning to rely ever more heavily on drones and special operations forces to fight scattered global enemies on the cheap. A centerpiece of this new American way of war is the outsourcing of fighting duties to local proxies around the world.

Alfred W. McCoy: Impunity at Home, Rendition Abroad

After a decade of fiery public debate and bare-knuckle partisan brawling, the United States has stumbled toward an ad hoc bipartisan compromise over the issue of torture that rests on two unsustainable policies: impunity at home and rendition abroad.

President Obama has closed the CIA’s “black sites,” its secret prisons where American agents once dirtied their hands with waterboarding and wall slamming. But via rendition-the sending of terrorist suspects to the prisons of countries that torture-and related policies, his administration has outsourced human rights abuse to Afghanistan, Somalia, and elsewhere.  In this way, he has avoided the political stigma of torture, while tacitly tolerating such abuses and harvesting whatever intelligence can be gained from them.

This “resolution” of the torture issue may meet the needs of this country’s deeply divided politics. It cannot, however, long satisfy an international community determined to prosecute human rights abuses through universal jurisdiction. It also runs the long-term risk of another sordid torture scandal that will further damage U.S. standing with allies worldwide.