Nov 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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Dan Gillmor: Thanks to WikiLeaks, we see just how bad TPP trade deal is for regular people

The more you know about the odious Trans-Pacific Partnership, the less you’ll like it. It’s made for corporate intellectual property and profits

Among the many betrayals of the Obama administration is its overall treatment of what many people refer to as “intellectual property” – the idea that ideas themselves and digital goods and services are exactly like physical property, and that therefore the law should treat them the same way. This corporatist stance defies both reality and the American Constitution, which expressly called for creators to have rights for limited periods, the goal of which was to promote inventive progress and the arts. [..]

I’m talking about the appalling Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, a partial draft of which WikiLeaks has just released. This treaty has been negotiated in secret meetings dominated by governments and corporations. You and I have been systematically excluded, and once you learn what they’re doing, you can see why.

The outsiders who understand TPP best aren’t surprised. That is, the draft “confirms fears that the negotiating parties are prepared to expand the reach of intellectual property rights, and shrink consumer rights and safeguards,” writes James Love a longtime watcher of this process.

Robert Sheer: The True Patriots in Congress Trying to End NSA Tyranny

Good old George can stop spinning in his grave. Yes, that George, our most heroic general and inspiring president, who warned us in his farewell address “to guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism. …” It’s an alert that’s been ignored in the nation’s hysterical reaction to the attacks of 9/11 that culminated in the NSA’s assault on our Constitution’s guarantee of “the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures. …”

That right was reaffirmed boldly and righteously Monday, for the entire world to hear, by F. James Sensenbrenner, the Republican chair of the House Judiciary Committee, which unanimously had produced the USA Patriot Act. Speaking on Monday at the Civil Liberties Committee of the European Parliament, Sensenbrenner blasted the misuse of the Patriot Act by the NSA and other government agencies entrusted with ensuring the nation’s safety.


Bruce A. Dixon: Progressive Sheepdogs, Democrat Sheep: Broken Promises & the Minimum Wage

If President Obama and his party didn’t even try to deliver on their 2008 campaign promise of a minimum wage hike when they had the White House and both houses of Congress on lockdown in 2010 and 2011, what does their sudden rediscovery of the minimum wage mean now, when they know they can move nothing through Congress?  Are they and their sheepdogs, the so-called “progressive Democrats” just yanking our chain again?

As a presidential candidate back in 2007 and 2008, Barack Obama promised to ram a hike in the minimum wage through Congress by 2011. Like the president’s promises to renegotiate NAFTA and enact labor law reforms to make union organizing possible again, it wasn’t one of those high profile pledges he repeated at every opportunity in front of every audience. He didn’t have to, that’s not the way it works.

If you’re a right-leaning Democrat nowadays, here’s how it works: you make those kinds of promises before small audiences of labor and poor folks. From that point, it’s the job of your sheepdogs, the Democrat “progressives” campaigning for you to keep the herd of your base voters in line by putting those words in your mouth a lot more often, and with a lot more emphasis than you actually place upon them. Promises are promises, after all, and promises made by the wealthy and powerful to the poor and powerless are worth exactly nothing.

Sadhbh Walshe: Lowering the minimum wage? What a terrible idea

Tony Abbott’s top business adviser wants a lower minimum wage in Australia. Well, let me fill you in on how the low-as-you-can-go wage model is working out for Americans

As someone who lives in America, every time I come in contact with Australia I get the feeling that we live in an upside down world. Your night time is our morning, our summer is your winter and while we’re firmly stuck in today, you’re already doing tomorrow (or is it the other way around)? Anyway, you get the drift, Australia is the Ginger Rogers to America’s Fred Astaire. I suppose it’s fitting then with the countries’ penchant for doing things in reverse, that just as America finds itself in the throes of a quasi-revolution to raise the minimum wage, some Australians are mounting a push to lower theirs. [..]

Before this movement takes flight, however, let me fill you in on how the low-as-you-can-go wage model is working out for Americans.

William Pfaff: NSA Megalomania Accomplishes Little Beyond Alienating Allies

It is the nature of bureaucracies to expand and accumulate prerogatives. The National Security Agency, a dusty post-Second World War institution of routine habits and outdated technology, focused on the remnants of the Soviet Union and its East European satellites, did not waste an opportunity when the 9/11 attacks occurred in New York and Washington. [..]

But the question to be asked of any bureaucracy is what it actually does. We know now that the NSA purloins (presumably electronically, but who knows?) other people’s mail. It undoubtedly, with its billions, can employ some second-story men, as well as those who service its giant antennae-or read your e-mails or copy out your Facebook page. But why do they bother? That is the fascinating question.

Teresa Wiltz: Renisha McBride: another racially charged shooting, same sad response

Renisha McBride’s death is still under investigation in Michigan, but we’re already seeing the mistrust with the case

it’s early still.

It’s been little more than a week, and the police are still investigating. So right now, it’s still too early to really know why – or how – Renisha McBride ended up dead on a porch in the middle of the night in Dearborn Park, Michigan. Reports differ: she was shot in the back of her head. No, she was shot in the face. Her body was dumped somewhere. No, she was found right there, right where she was shot. The gun went off accidentally. No, it was a “justified shooting” – the homeowner feared for his life. [..]

But it’s not too early for the country to react on cue, following the same sad script. On the one side, you have protesters bearing signs that read, “We Demand Justice: Renisha McBride”. On the other hand, on the internet, commenters quote Detroit crime statistics, creating an equation where Detroit equals black and scary, and one young woman’s life doesn’t count for much.