May 04 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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Bruce Ackerman and Eugene R. Fidell; Send Judges to Guantánamo, Then Shut It

PRESIDENT OBAMA has once again pledged to close the Guantánamo Bay prison. But can he back up his brave words with decisive action?

The answer is yes, if he chooses to.

At present, legislation bars him from sending the Guantánamo detainees to the mainland United States to receive justice from the federal courts, leaving them to be tried by slow-moving military commissions that deny them many of the guarantees of civilian legal procedure. Nevertheless, the president has a way forward. He can, on his own authority, send federal judges to Guantánamo, where they could resolve the remaining cases in trials everyone can respect.

Previous presidents have established federal civilian courts on territory under American military control without going through Congress. The clearest precedent was set in postwar Germany.

The Nation Editors: Obama: Walk Your Talk on Guantánamo

It’s true that lawmakers on both sides have fought hard to make transfers impossible. But Obama’s words ignored how his own policies set the stage for the crisis. “He has said the right thing before,” Guantánamo lawyer Pardiss Kebriaei of the Center for Constitutional Rights told The Nation. “It’s time now for action.” The CCR is calling on Obama to end his “self-imposed moratorium” on releasing Yemenis and resume prisoner transfers. It has also called for Obama to appoint a senior official to “shepherd the process of closure.”

As the hunger strike approaches its hundredth day on May 17, more than 100 of Guantánamo’s 166 prisoners are refusing food. The president must start living up to his rhetoric about closing the prison, the CCR warns, or “the men who are on hunger strike will die, and he will be ultimately responsible for their deaths.”

Richard (RJ) Eskow: Mushroom Clouds Over Texas, 500 Deaths in Bangladesh — That’s Why We Need Unions

News reports tell us that more than 500 people have now died and more than 2,500 were injured in Savar, Bangladesh, while the toll in West, Texas stands at 15 dead and over 200 injured. Behind these two disasters is a common thread of greed — and a common need for unionized resistance. [..]

What’s needed is a recognition that every life is worth fighting for, in every field and factory on the planet.  It’s fought with the understanding that better-paid workers buy more goods and raise the global standard of living, no matter where they live.

The stories from Texas and Bangladesh shouldn’t just horrify us. They should galvanize us into action.  They aren’t complete until we choose to live them ourselves. As Mother Jones said, “Mourn the dead, but fight like hell for the living.”

Doug Bandow: Syria: The Only Red Line Should be to Stay Out

The Syrian civil war lurches on, adding new casualties every day. The campaign to push the U.S. into the Syrian civil war also marches on, threatening to add American casualties to the human toll. Possible use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government is another reason to stay out, not to get in.

Washington’s foreign policy should be one of peace. There are tragic times when war becomes necessary, but thankfully not often. Especially for America, which enjoys a privileged international position.

Today the U.S. is without peer. Terrorism is the most serious security threat facing the country, but it is only exacerbated by promiscuous intervention in conflicts not America’s own. Bombing, invading, and occupying other nations creates enemies who want to hurt Americans.

Robert Reich: The Flaccid Jobs Report

We remain in the gravitational pull of the Great Recession. The Labor Department reports that 165,000 new jobs were created in April — below the average gains of 183,000 in the previous three months.

We can’t achieve escape velocity. Since mid-2010, the three-month rolling average of job gains hasn’t dipped below 100,000 but has exceeded 250,000 jobs just twice.

This isn’t enough to ease the backlog of at least 3 million (estimates range up to 8 million) job losses since 2007, just before the Great Recession began. (And as I’ll point out in a moment, 2007 wasn’t exactly jobs nirvana.)

Moreover, most of the new jobs now being created pay less than the ones that were lost.

What’s wrong?

Charles M. Blow: Dear College Graduates…

I’m scheduled to deliver the commencement address Friday at my alma mater, Grambling State University in Louisiana, so I’ve been giving quite a bit of thought to the America into which these students are graduating.

I must admit that finding hopeful, encouraging things to say has been exceedingly difficult, in part because the landscape at the moment – particularly for young adults – is so bleak.

Here are some of the facts that I’m up against rhetorically and that these students will be up against more literally.