“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.
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New York Times Editorial: A Bipartisan Warning on Surveillance
Lawmakers have given the Obama administration a bipartisan warning: patience is growing thin with its expansive and unwarranted surveillance of Americans.
In one of the most unusual votes in years, the House on Wednesday barely defeated an amendment to curtail the National Security Agency’s collection of every phone record, limiting it to records of people targeted in investigations. The vote was 205 to 217, and what was particularly remarkable was that 94 Republicans supported the limits, along with 111 Democrats who stood up to intense lobbying by the White House and its spy agencies. [..]
A 51 percent majority in the House with strongly bipartisan opposition is hardly a vote of confidence in a program as intrusive as universal phone-record collection. More and more lawmakers and voters are starting to pay attention to the arguments of longtime intelligence critics like Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, who said on Tuesday that the opportunity had finally arrived to stop an omnipresent surveillance state that once seemed irreversible.
Norman Solomon: Obama’s Willing Executioners of the Fourth Amendment
It’s now painfully clear that the president has put out a contract on the Fourth Amendment. And at the Capitol, the hierarchies of both parties are stuffing it into the trunks of their limousines, so each provision can be neatly fitted with cement shoes and delivered to the bottom of the Potomac.
Some other Americans are on a rescue mission. One of them, Congressman Justin Amash, began a debate on the House floor Wednesday with a vow to “defend the Fourth Amendment.” That’s really what his amendment — requiring that surveillance be warranted — was all about.
No argument for the Amash amendment was more trenchant than the one offered by South Carolina Republican Jeff Duncan, who simply read the Fourth Amendment aloud.
The realm of the Federal Reserve is arcane to most people, but suffice it to say that it is in something like a control tower overseeing a busy major airport: It is supposed to recognize dangers early enough to do something about them. The Fed tightens the flow of money when investment bubbles begin to emerge. It eases the credit taps when the economy is slowing. It is the ultimate overseer of the financial system, the institution that is supposed to be looking out for signs of dangerous speculation and inadequate transparency. [..]
Summers is temperamentally ill-suited for this all-important job. His life can be summed up in a simple equation: Brilliance plus arrogance yields perilous foolishness. His absolute faith in the soundness of his views coupled with his demonstrable tendency to disdain people who disagree have put him on the wrong side of history. We can do far better than hand him the keys to the Fed.
Paul Krugman: Republican Health Care Panic
Leading Republicans appear to be nerving themselves up for another round of attempted fiscal blackmail. With the end of the fiscal year looming, they aren’t offering the kinds of compromises that might produce a deal and avoid a government shutdown; instead, they’re drafting extremist legislation – bills that would, for example, cut clean-water grants by 83 percent – that has no chance of becoming law. Furthermore, they’re threatening, once again, to block any rise in the debt ceiling, a move that would damage the U.S. economy and possibly provoke a world financial crisis.
Yet even as Republican politicians seem ready to go on the offensive, there’s a palpable sense of anxiety, even despair, among conservative pundits and analysts. Better-informed people on the right seem, finally, to be facing up to a horrible truth: Health care reform, President Obama’s signature policy achievement, is probably going to work.
Chase Madar: The Sky Darkens for American Journalism
The future of the American media is being decided in a military court
Bradley Manning released hundreds of thousands of government documents and files to Wikileaks, most famous among them the unclassified video Wikileaks dubbed, “Collateral Murder”, a harrowing gun-sight view of an Apache helicopter slaughtering a couple of armed men and a much larger group of civilians on a Baghdad street in July, 2007.
The court-martial of Pfc. Manning, finally underway over three years after his arrest, is likely to cause a great deal of collateral destruction in its own right. In this case the victim will be American journalism.
John Nichols: Potemkin Checks & Balances: Boehner Blocks Real Action to Limit Syria Entanglement
President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner are agreed on one thing: they both want to get the United States more actively engaged in the fighting in Syria.
Obama announced last month that he hopes to ship arms to the Syrian opposition forces that are fighting to oust President Bashar al-Assad. Boehner said this week that the president’s Syrian gambit “is in our nation’s best interest.” [..]
But, make no mistake, an “in our nation’s best interest” quote from Boehner and an Intelligence Committee “consensus” ought not be read as congressional approval for a project that threatens to involve the United States in another war in another Middle Eastern country.