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Jul 30 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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New York Times Editorial Board: An Escalating Fight Over Military Justice

Despite powerful evidence that the military’s approach to sexual l assault needs an overhaul, the resistance to change among military brass and their enablers on Capitol Hill remains fierce.

In June, Senator Carl Levin, the Michigan Democrat who is chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, won committee approval for a 2014 defense authorization bill that includes a few helpful reforms but omits the boldest fix offered so far: a bipartisan measure offered by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a New York Democrat, that would give independent military prosecutors, rather than commanders, the power to decide which sexual assault crimes to try. This would correct a major flaw in the military justice system that deters victims from reporting attacks and results in an abysmally low prosecution rate.

Eugene Robinson: We Should Thank Edward Snowden

Edward Snowden’s renegade decision to reveal the jaw-dropping scope of the National Security Agency’s electronic surveillance is being vindicated-even as Snowden himself is being vilified.

Intelligence officials in the Obama administration and their allies on Capitol Hill paint the fugitive analyst as nothing but a traitor who wants to harm the United States. Many of those same officials grudgingly acknowledge, however, that public debate about the NSA’s domestic snooping is now unavoidable.

Dean Baker: Cruel Arithmetic and President Obama’s Big Speech

Last week President Obama gave a speech at Knox College in Illinois in which he announced plans to return his focus to the economy. The agenda he outlined centered on policies to rebuild the middle class leading to growth from the middle out as he put it.

The basic idea sounds good. There are few who would take issue with the focus of his policies: improving the nation’s infrastructure, better school-to-work transitions, high quality pre-school for everyone. These ideas all score very high in opinion polls and focus groups, although there might be serious differences on what they mean concretely.

But even if we can agree on the best way to rebuild our infrastructure, better our schools, and guarantee high quality pre-school education, we will still face serious economic problems well into the future for the simple reason that the economy lacks demand. Generating demand has to be issue one, two, and three on the economic agenda right now, and unfortunately President Obama’s speech came up seriously short on it.

Congressmen Adam Schiff and Todd Rokita: Republicans and Democrats agree: Fisa oversight of NSA spying doesn’t work

‘Secret law’ is anathema to our democratic traditions and the rule of law. We have introduced legislation to change this

The recent leaks of NSA programs to the Guardian and Washington Post have awakened a strong desire among many Americans to know more about how the intelligence community conducts its business.

Americans expect their government to do the utmost to protect our country, but that cannot mean trading our Fourth Amendment right to privacy for the promise of security. Most Americans understand the need to “connect the dots” to avoid another 9/11, as long as the intelligence community has a legitimate need for the information it seeks and is no more intrusive than absolutely necessary.

Oversight is essential, and to the maximum degree possible, so is transparency.

Joe Conason: Measuring GOP Extremism: What Carville and Greenberg’s Latest Polling Reveals

It is becoming increasingly plain that the most formidable obstacle to national progress and global security is the Republican Party — and specifically the extremist factions that currently dominate the GOP.

Now Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg and political strategist James Carville have announced what they plan to do about that pressing problem: namely, “The Republican Party Project,” which will provide extensive survey research devoted to “exposing, monitoring, and confronting” the Republicans while helping Democrats and progressives to regain the political offensive.

To begin advancing these ambitious goals, Carville and Greenberg released the first in a series of polls on Wednesday that showcased several of their target’s most divisive and dysfunctional features —  and revealed some surprising weaknesses that could eventually prove disabling if not fatal.

David Zirin: On Vultures and Red Wings: Billionaire Gets New Sports Arena in Bankrupt Detroit

The headline juxtaposition boggles the mind. You have, on one day, “Detroit Files Largest Municipal Bankruptcy in History.” Then on the next, you have “Detroit Plans to Pay For New Red Wings Hockey Arena Despite Bankruptcy.”

Yes, the very week Michigan Governor Rick Snyder granted a state-appointed emergency manager’s request to declare the Motor City bankrupt, the Tea Party governor gave a big thumbs-up to a plan for a new $650 million Detroit Red Wings hockey arena. Almost half of that $650 million will be paid with public funds.

This is actually happening. City services are being cut to the bone. Fighting fires, emergency medical care and trash collection are now precarious operations. Retired municipal workers will have their $19,000 in annual pensions dramatically slashed. Even the artwork in the city art museum will be sold off piece by piece. This will include a mural by the great radical artist Diego Rivera that’s a celebration of what the auto industry would look like in a socialist future. As Stephen Colbert said, the leading bidder will be “the museum of irony.”