Feb 20 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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Katrina vanden Heuvel: A Mitch that needs scratching

One of the most powerful men in Washington, it turns out, is also the most unpopular senator in the nation.

This is probably not a coincidence.

Facing reelection in 2014, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) finds himself in a tougher battle than many anticipated. According to a recent poll, just 17 percent of Kentucky voters are committed to voting for him. Given how out of touch he is with their needs, it’s no wonder. [..]

McConnell’s seat was once occupied by Henry Clay, who was dubbed “The Great Pacificator.” Admired by Abraham Lincoln, he is widely considered one of the greatest senators in American history. Clay once said, “Government is a trust, and the officers of the government are trustees; and both the trust and the trustees are created for the benefit of the people.”

Kentucky voters deserve a senator who understands the wisdom of those words.

Kaitlin Sopoci-Belknap: Congress Responds to Move to Amend Grassroots Organizing with “We the People” Amendment

The growing grassroots democracy movement took another huge step forward this week when Congressional Representatives Rick Nolan (DFL-Minnesota) and Mark Pocan (D-Wisconsin) joined Move To Amend coalition organizers Ben Manski and George “Leesa” Friday at the National Press Club to announce that the “We the People Amendment” was being introduced in Congress (H.J.Res. 29).

This amendment clearly and unequivocally states that:

Section 1. Only People Have Constitutional Rights [..]

Section 2. Money is Not Free Speech [..]

The Move to Amend Coalition was formed in preparation for the Supreme Court’s Citizens United v FEC ruling in 2010. Today, the coalition boasts over 260,000 supporters, thousands of endorsing organizations, and has organized over 150 local affiliate across the country. These are groups who have formed in their local communities to educate, agitate and organize in direct support of the Move To Amend position that only people have constitutional rights and that money is not free speech.

Jill Richardson: Another Side of the Immigration Debate: Harvesting NAFTA’s Crops

We reap the benefits of cheap farm and meatpacking labor in the form of low-priced food, thanks to the contributions of millions of undocumented workers.

Until a few years ago, Rosa Acosta had never even seen a flush toilet. She raised her 12 children in a tiny adobe home in rural Jalisco, Mexico. Several of her kids left it to work in the United States. One son, who left at age 12 to earn money as a farmworker in California, returned home to Rosa and his siblings after only a year. Another, her oldest, still works in California’s fields. Neither crossed the border legally. [..]

The Acosta family is one of millions whose fate hangs in the balance as President Barack Obama tries to convince Congress that it’s time to overhaul our immigration laws.

Saskis Sassen: Drones Over There, Total Surveillance Over Here

The massive surveillance system built up over the last 10 years is the domestic companion of overseas drone killings.

The big story buried in all the commentary about the US government’s drone policy is that the old algorithm of the liberal state no longer works. Focusing on drones is almost a distraction, if it weren’t for the number of men, women and children they have killed in only a few years. What we should focus on is the deeper condition that enables the drone policy, and so much more, and that is the sharp increase in unaccountable executive power, no matter what party is in power. [..]

What we are facing is a profound degradation of the liberal state. Drone killings and unlawful imprisonment are at one end of that spectrum of degradation, and the rise of the power, economic destructions and unaccountability of the financial sector are at the other end.

Jaon Walsh: Targeted killings: OK if Obama does it?

Salon exclusive: Study finds “liberals” more likely to favor targeted killings once they know it’s Obama’s policy

Civil libertarians have worried that some of President Obama’s comparatively hawkish national security policies are silencing “liberal” Democrats who would have opposed such measures under President Bush or another Republican. Now there’s new evidence that Obama’s support for such policies isn’t just silencing them – it’s winning them over.

Charlotte Silver: Arrested for Your Politics in America? It’s Already Happening

The nebulous but potent charge of terrorism has been used to systematically curtail justice.

In the US, due process – one of the defining features of a democratic judicial process – continues to be badly bludgeoned: Obama  fights tooth and nail to push through NDAA, which would allow indefinite detention of US citizens, and the definition of terrorism has expanded its unwieldy scope, casting a widening net that ensures more and more people are captured in its snare.

The US has pursued “domestic terrorism” by practicing pre-emptive prosecution, that is, going after individuals who have committed no crime but are alleged to possess an ideology that might dispose them to commit acts of “terrorism”. Maintaining that it can – and should – be in the business of divining intent, the government decimates crucial elements of the US justice system.

Thus, in cases where terrorism is charged, prosecutors need not prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Rather, only the defendant’s potential for committing a crime need be established in order to convict.