“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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Sen. Rand Paul: Show Us the Drone Memos
I BELIEVE that killing an American citizen without a trial is an extraordinary concept and deserves serious debate. I can’t imagine appointing someone to the federal bench, one level below the Supreme Court, without fully understanding that person’s views concerning the extrajudicial killing of American citizens. [..]
I believe that all senators should have access to all of these opinions. Furthermore, the American people deserve to see redacted versions of these memos so that they can understand the Obama administration’s legal justification for this extraordinary exercise of executive power. The White House may invoke national security against disclosure, but legal arguments that affect the rights of every American should not have the privilege of secrecy.
I agree with the A.C.L.U. that “no senator can meaningfully carry out his or her constitutional obligation to provide ‘advice and consent’ on this nomination to a lifetime position as a federal appellate judge without being able to read Mr. Barron’s most important and consequential legal writing.” The A.C.L.U. cites the fact that in modern history, a presidential order to kill an American citizen away from a battlefield is unprecedented.
Paul Krugman: Crazy Climate Economics
Everywhere you look these days, you see Marxism on the rise. Well, O.K., maybe you don’t – but conservatives do. If you so much as mention income inequality, you’ll be denounced as the second coming of Joseph Stalin; Rick Santorum has declared that any use of the word “class” is “Marxism talk.” In the right’s eyes, sinister motives lurk everywhere – for example, George Will says the only reason progressives favor trains is their goal of “diminishing Americans’ individualism in order to make them more amenable to collectivism.”
So it goes without saying that Obamacare, based on ideas originally developed at the Heritage Foundation, is a Marxist scheme – why, requiring that people purchase insurance is practically the same as sending them to gulags.
And just wait until the Environmental Protection Agency announces rules intended to slow the pace of climate change.
A close look at the new NSA reform bill – and court cases that may be just as important – reveals that, one year after Snowden’s breakthrough, we’re finally getting somewhere
After months of inaction – and worries that real change at the National Security Agency was indefinitely stalled – there was a flurry of action in Congress this week on the most promising NSA reform bill, as the USA Freedom Act unanimously passed out of the House Judiciary Committee and then, surprisingly, out of the Intelligence Committee, too. Only its movement came at a price: the bill is now much weaker than it was before.
What would the legislation actually do? Well, for one, it would take the giant phone records database out of the NSA’s hands and put it into those of the telecom companies, and force judicial review. Importantly, it doesn’t categorically make anything worse – like the House Intel bill pushed by Rep Mike Rogers would have – and it would at least end the phone records program as it exists today, while making things a little bit better for transparency.
Simon Jenkins: Ukraine should be left to forge its own course
A key principle of liberal politics is self-determination. Step forward the people of Ukraine – not Washington or London
Last night’s Ukraine referendum yields not one crisis but two. The first is separatist pressure of the sort that has long plagued the politics of Europe. A poorly drawn border, an ethnic or linguistic minority, an inept central government – all lead to revolt. Resolution lies either in devolution and confederation or in partition and independence. Witness Ireland, Kosovo, Slovakia and Macedonia, and perhaps the Basques, the Catalans and the Scots.
The second crisis is more dangerous. It is when such local conflicts acquire outside sponsors; when they translate into the big power politics. They become test-your-weight machines for heads of state. Intervention is what “real men” do; something “must be done”. That is now happening in Ukraine.
Chase Madar: This American life (without parole)
There’s a whiff of clemency in the springtime air: New federal commutation guidelines announced two weeks ago may provide an exit for hundreds, maybe thousands of federal prisoners in for nonviolent “low level” offenses if they’ve already served 10 years with “good conduct.” If you’re wondering who these rules will affect, and why they’re so necessary, consider these three Americans currently set to rot away in prison for nonviolent crimes committed years ago. [..]
We’re likely to see some pushback against even the mild step of mercy commutations. After all, “the law is the law,” as we freedom-loving Americans somehow love to sternly say. But the funny thing is, the law is not the law, at least much of the time. The law sure wasn’t the law for Goldman Sachs or any of the other financiers who tanked our economy, and not for CIA torturers either. The law is the law, but only for some. [..]
But if you’re a poor nonviolent offender without connections, like Euka Wadlington or Larry Duke or Alice Marie Johnson, the law is the law for as long as you draw breath.
If Eric Holder came up with a legal rationale for pardoning Marc Rich, he can certainly see the logic in delivering clemency to Euka, Larry, Alice Marie and the thousands of others like them. The question is whether Holder and the president have the will and the spine.