“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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Katrina vanden Heuvel : US Condemnation of Press Restrictions Abroad Is Starting to Look Hypocritical
This is a terrible time for journalists.
Just last week, the world watched in horror as James Foley, a freelance photojournalist for GlobalPost and Agence France-Presse, was beheaded by a jihadist from the Islamic State . The disturbing video suggests that the perpetrators intend to target more journalists if their demands are not met.
There is something particularly chilling about murdering those seeking only to inform, about reporters around the world having to fear for their lives. But right here at home, we’re seeing a less lethal, yet still deeply troubling threat to journalism.
In recent days, all eyes have been on Ferguson, Missouri, where the shooting of unarmed black teenager Michael Brownral-services-in-st-louis/?hpid=z1 on August 9 touched off citywide protests and a national debate over racism, equal justice and police brutality. But if local Ferguson police had their way, there would be little or no coverage at all.
William Pfaff Neo-Liberal Austerity Keeps Europe Down
Shades of France’s notorious Third Republic! The latest French government has been summarily dismissed after only six painful months. It was certainly time for a change. President François Hollande’s poll ratings have plumbed new depths at 17 percent, while Prime Minister Manuel Valls had lost 9 percentage points in one month, down to 36 percent. With his usual indecision, the President has instructed Mr. Valls to go back and form a new government to carry on the same policies-the third in the space of one year-but excluding the trouble-makers who provoked this crisis.
The principal culprit is ex-Econom Minister Arnaud Montebourg, who during the weekend proclaimed irresolvable differences with the president’s economic policies and explicitly blamed Germany for France’s “descent into hell.”
Mr. Montebourg wants changes that seem gathering support in many places, including even Washington and the American university (thanks to the Nobel Prize economists Joseph Stiglitz and the indefatigable Paul Krugman). The appeal is powerful to the beleaguered countries of southern Europe, and recently at the IMF in Washington, and even from European Central Bank chairman, Mario Draghi last weekend at Jackson Hole. The message is: Stop the austerity in Europe, or at least apply some flexibility, before it is too late.
It was not even a year ago when we were bombarded with messaging that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is a Supreme Evil and Grave Threat, and that military action against his regime was both a moral and strategic imperative. The standard cast of “liberal interventionists” – Tony Blair, Anne-Marie Slaughter, Nicholas Kristof and Samantha Power – issued stirring sermons on the duties of war against Assad. Secretary of State John Kerry actually compared Assad to (guess who?) Hitler, instructing the nation that “this is our Munich moment.” Striking Assad, he argued, “is a matter of national security. It’s a matter of the credibility of the United States of America. It’s a matter of upholding the interests of our allies and friends in the region.”
U.S. military action against the Assad regime was thwarted only by overwhelming American public opinion which opposed it and by a resounding rejection by the UK Parliament of Prime Minister David Cameron’s desire to assume the usual subservient British role in support of American wars.
Laura Flanders: Surplus Military in a Deficit Society
U.S. President Barack Obama has ordered a review of the distribution of military hardware to state and local police. Great. Now can we have a review of the distribution of military influence throughout US society?
What we’ve learned so far is that under a federal program, more than $5 billion worth of military equipment has gone to more than 8,000 city and state agencies since 1997. I found out this weekend that one small town not far from me received six military HumVees for a police department where just 25 officers work.
Mine-resistant trucks aren’t the only war tools showing up in US suburbs. Take those gunshot wounds. Michael Brown, the unarmed teen shot by a police in Ferguson August 9, was shot six times, twice in the head. Ever wonder why so many gun shot victims show up with multiple bullets in their flesh? It’s certainly the cop, it’s also the gun.
There is legislation before Congress to do something about corporations renouncing their US “citizenship.” The odds are that Republicans will block it – and not just because they have obstructed everything else.
There is a wave of news about corporations using a technicality called an “inversion” to renounce their US “citizenship.” An inversion is when a US company buys or merges with a non-US company, and then pretends it is no longer a US company. Today it’s Burger King. Not long ago it was Walgreens.
There is legislation to fix this problem. In particular, the Stop Corporate Inversions Act of 2014 has been introduced in both the House and the Senate.
Will Republicans block this legislation? Aside from the fact that Republicans have obstructed nearly all legislation of substance for years, there is precedent for Republicans blocking bills to end corporate tax loopholes.
Ray NcGovern: Cheney’s Legacy: Honesty Still in Short Supply
As the world marks the centennial of World War I, the guns of August are again being oiled by comfortable politicians and the fawning corporate media, both bereft of any sense of history. And that includes much more recent history, namely the deceitful campaign that ended up bringing destruction to Iraq and widened conflict throughout the Middle East. That campaign went into high gear 12 years ago today.
On August 26, 2002, Vice President Dick Cheney – who remains something of a folk hero on Fox News – formally launched the lies leading to the U.S.-UK attack on Iraq seven months later. And on August 30, 2013, Syria was 20 hours away from a similar fate after Secretary of State John Kerry claimed falsely – no fewer than 35 times – to “know” that the government of Syria was responsible for using sarin nerve gas in an attack outside Damascus on August 21, 2013. [..]
As if to mark Cheney’s day of deceit a dozen Augusts ago, this morning’s Washington Post editorializes: “Stepping back into the fray: Stopping the Islamic State will require ‘boots on the ground.'” As is its custom, the Post offers no enlightenment on what motivates jihadists to do unspeakably evil things – in other words, “why they hate us” – or why Gulf allies of the U.S. fund them with such largesse.