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Sep 12 2014

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: Legal Authority for Fighting ISIS

As the Pentagon gears up to expand its fight against ISIS, a fundamentalist Sunni militant group that controls large areas of Iraq and Syria, Congress appears perfectly willing to abdicate one of its most consequential powers: the authority to declare war.

The cowardice in Congress, never to be underestimated, is outrageous. Some lawmakers have made it known that they would rather not face a war authorization vote shortly before midterm elections, saying they’d rather sit on the fence for a while to see whether an expanded military campaign starts looking like a success story or a debacle. By avoiding responsibility, they allow President Obama free rein to set a dangerous precedent that will last well past this particular military campaign.

Paul Krugman: The Inflation Cult

Wish I’d said that! Earlier this week, Jesse Eisinger of ProPublica, writing on The Times’s DealBook blog, compared people who keep predicting runaway inflation to “true believers whose faith in a predicted apocalypse persists even after it fails to materialize.” Indeed.

Economic forecasters are often wrong. Me, too! If an economist never makes an incorrect prediction, he or she isn’t taking enough risks. But it’s less common for supposed experts to keep making the same wrong prediction year after year, never admitting or trying to explain their past errors. And the remarkable thing is that these always-wrong, never-in-doubt pundits continue to have large public and political influence.

There’s something happening here. What it is ain’t exactly clear. But as regular readers know, I’ve been trying to figure it out, because I think it’s important to understand the persistence and power of the inflation cult.

Richard (RJ) Eskow: 5 Reasons the SEC’s Executive-Pay Rules Matter — And 5 Ways to Use Them

Two little-known rules on corporate reporting of executive pay are currently being reviewed by the Securities and Exchange Commission. While they have received almost no press coverage, these rules could have far-reaching consequences for our nation’s economy and the future of the middle class.

The Dodd Frank law requires corporations to disclose the difference between the pay received by their CEO and the median income of all other employees, and the SEC is currently finalizing the regulations, which will determine how this reporting is to be done. It has also announced that it will release rules by the end of the year requiring corporations to report on the relationship between senior executive compensation and corporate performance.

While these rules may sound obscure and largely symbolic, here are five reasons they should be receiving wider attention — followed by five ways this kind of information can be used to improve economic policy:

John Nichols: The Senate Tried to Overturn ‘Citizens United’ Today. Guess What Stopped Them?

A majority of the United States Senate has voted to advance a constitutional amendment to restore the ability of Congress and the states to establish campaign fundraising and spending rules with an eye toward preventing billionaires and corporations from buying elections.

“Today was a historic day for campaign finance reform, with more than half of the Senate voting on a constitutional amendment to make it clear that the American people have the right to regulate campaign finance,” declared Senator Tom Udall, the New Mexico Democrat who in June proposed his amendment to address some of the worst results of the Supreme Court’s interventions in with the recent Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (pdf) and McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission decisions, as well as the 1976 decision in Buckley v. Valeo.

That’s the good news.

The bad news is that [it’s going to take more than a majority http://www.archives.gov/federa… to renew democracy.

Mychal Denzel Smith: What More Will It Take to Arrest Darren Wilson?

“Hands up, don’t shoot!” has been the cry of the thousands who took to the streets seeking justice for Michael Brown, the unarmed 18-year-old who was shot and killed in Ferguson, Missouri, by Officer Darren Wilson on August 9. According to multiple witnesses, Brown had his hands in the air-a gesture generally understood to signal surrender-when Wilson shot him to death. The police have a different story: they say Brown was the aggressor, having reached for Wilson’s gun while the officer was still in his vehicle, and later charging toward Wilson. This version of the story, frankly, sounds ridiculous. And now there’s more reason that ever to doubt the police’s explanation. CNN has reported on two witnesses that had not previously given statements to journalists: [..]

At this point, I need someone to answer this question for me like I’m stupid: What else is needed to arrest Darren Wilson? I’m not asking what a prosecutor would need to for a murder conviction, or even what a grand jury would need to bring formal charges. What else is needed for police to say, “Darren Wilson, you shot and killed someone, you are under arrest”? What more?

Steven W. Thrasher: America is a democracy. So why do we make it hard for certain people to vote?

Voter ID. Re-registration requirements. Demanding a fixed address. Exercising your franchise shouldn’t be so tough

Since I first registered to vote on my 18th birthday, I haven’t missed voting in a single election that I can remember. My feat has been nothing short of a pain in the ass, given that I have moved 14 times in the 19 years since.

This week, I almost failed to vote for the first time: I had moved – again – in the gap between the board of elections deadline to change my address and the New York state primary election. I did try to update my voter registration online, but didn’t receive a confirmation. I was confused if I was eligible to vote where I now live, or at the last address where I had been registered.  [..]

Most people like me don’t have hours to spend voting by provisional ballot, as I did on Tuesday. And by “people like me”, I mean those of us who are somewhat fringe and move often. According to Demos, “Almost 36.5 million US residents moved between 2011 and 2012,” and “low-income individuals were twice as likely to move as those above the poverty line.”

Voter transience has a huge demographic effect on the electorate.