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Mar 14 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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Floyd Abrams and Yochai Benkler: Death to Whistle-Blowers?

LAST month Pfc. Bradley Manning pleaded guilty to several offenses related to leaking hundreds of thousands of documents to WikiLeaks in 2010, a plea that could land him in jail for 20 years. But Private Manning still faces trial on the most serious charges, including the potential capital offense of “aiding the enemy” – though the prosecution is not seeking the death penalty in this case, “only” a life sentence.

If successful, the prosecution will establish a chilling precedent: national security leaks may subject the leakers to a capital prosecution or at least life imprisonment. Anyone who holds freedom of the press dear should shudder at the threat that the prosecution’s theory presents to journalists, their sources and the public that relies on them.

Dean Baker: Does Paul Ryan Want to Change the Relationship Between Americans and Their Government or Give Money to Rich People?

Ezra Klein looked at Paul Ryan’s latest budget and told readers:

“Ryan’s budget is intended to do nothing less than fundamentally transform the relationship between Americans and their government. That, and not deficit reduction, is its real point, as it has been Ryan’s real point throughout his career.”

Well, that is one possibility. There is another option: Paul Ryan wants to makes rich people richer. I think the evidence supports the latter view. [..]

Arguably the evidence supports the latter view. Needless to say, even if Ryan’s mission was to redistribute income upward, he would not present his case this way since there are not enough rich people to win elections. A politician seeking to get support for policies that redistribute income upward will get much farther claiming to support a free market and getting government out of the way. If Ryan’s agenda is in fact redistributing income upward the media do him a great favor when they describe it instead as a commitment to free market principles.  

Paul Krugman: Euro Zone’s Bad Fortunes Tied to Failed Predictions

Joe Weisenthal is wrong. The reporter at Business Insider recently wrote that everyone predicted the unfolding economic disaster in Europe. Not so. It’s what he predicted, it’s what I predicted, but it’s not at all what many people were predicting.

And the people who got it completely wrong happen to be the people still running European economic policy.

As the economist Jonathan Portes pointed out in his blog, it is now more than two years since Olli Rehn, the European commissioner for economic and monetary affairs, declared that “Europe’s recovery in the real economy has taken hold and is becoming self-sustaining.”

Mr. Rehn is still in place at the European Commission, and he’s still telling us that austerity will work any day now. And he’s not alone. The economics team at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development that told us in May 2010 not just that Europe needed fiscal austerity, but that the Federal Reserve needed to raise rates by the end of the year to head off inflation, is still issuing reports. And then there’s Britain’s David Cameron and George Osborne.

Richard Reeve: Get the Hell Out of Afghanistan

If you Google “Afghanistan,” you get your choice of occupiers. There’s “Occupation of Afghanistan by British,” “Occupation of Afghanistan by Russians” and “Occupation of Afghanistan by United States.”

The British occupation began in arrogance in 1878 and ended in 1880 in massacre. The occupation by the Soviet Union ended in defeat and humiliation. The American occupation, officially an operation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, goes on and on toward another bad ending.

You’d think we would have Googled the place before we invaded after the destruction of the World Trade Center in New York on Sept. 11, 2001. We did not use the word “invasion” then, of course. We said it was a “mission” to find and punish al-Qaida and its leader, Osama bin Laden, and the brutal Taliban, which had given him refuge in the hard mountain territory of western Afghanistan.

Robert Reich: Ryan the Redistributionist

“Who is going to end up making all the money in the end if Obamacare continues to be in place?” Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus growled Monday on Sean Hannity’s Fox News show. “It’s going to be the big corporations, right? And who gets screwed? The middle class.”

The Republican Party makeover is breathtaking. Now, suddenly, instead of accusing Democrats of being “redistributionists,” the GOP is posing as defender of the middle class against corporate America-and it’s doing so by proposing to do away with the most progressive piece of legislation in well over a decade.

Paul Ryan’s new budget purportedly gets about 40 percent of its $4.6 trillion in spending cuts over ten years by repealing Obamacare, but Ryan’s budget document doesn’t mention that such a repeal would also lower taxes on corporations and the wealthy that foot Obamacare’s bill.

Joe Conason: Ryan’s Blurred Vision: What the ‘New’ Republican Budget Reveals (and Conceals)

Someone needs to tell Paul Ryan that his party-and the economic platform of austerity and plutocracy he crafted for it-lost a national election last year. Someone also needs to tell the Wisconsin Republican that he still chairs the House Budget Committee mainly thanks to gerrymandered redistricting.

Someone clearly needs to remind him of those realities because the “vision document” he proposed on Tuesday as the Republican federal budget is only a still more extreme version of the same notions (and the same evasions) that he and Mitt Romney tried to sell without success last fall.