Daily Archive: 12/12/2014

Dec 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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Isaiah J. Poole: The Ominous ‘Cromnibus,’ A Budget Bill That Should Have Died

With all of the justifiable anger directed at what’s in the 2015 spending bill – the omnibus continuing resolution or “cromnibus” – that the House struggled to pass late Thursday, there is also a major story to be told about what’s not in the bill. It’s a story of missed opportunities that is as significant as the Wall Street giveaways, the kowtowing to fossil fuel interests and gratuitous swipes at conservative boogeymen that were written into this monstrosity.

Most conspicuous is the absence of any real effort to address the plight of millions of people who remain untouched by the so-called economic “recovery” of the past few years. They are represented by the 51 percent of respondents in a New York Times poll this week who rated the condition of the national economy as either “fairly bad” or “very bad.” In that same poll, only 30 percent saw the economy as getting better. [..]

In an ideal world, this budget would be voted down so that Congress could go back to the drawing board and get its priorities straight. It goes without saying we’re not in that world, and in fact we’ll be a bit further from it when Republicans take control of the Senate in January. What we can do in the meantime is call this budget what it is – a document that shirks the basics of making the economy work for working people while paying fealty to Wall Street and right-wing fetishes – and use it as a rallying cry for the progressive populist takeover of Congress that we must start working toward today.

New York Times Editorial Board: Dark Again After Report on C.I.A. Torture

We have not always agreed with Senator Dianne Feinstein on national security issues like wiretapping, but the California Democrat who heads the Senate Intelligence Committee has displayed commitment and courage in the investigation of the illegal detention, abuse and torture of prisoners by the Central Intelligence Agency.

Realizing she had one last chance to get this report to the public before Republicans take over the Senate, Ms. Feinstein released a summary of the findings despite heavy pressure from Republicans and the White House to withhold it. She and her aides deserve enormous credit for their five-and-a-half-year struggle.

Sadly, that is pretty much it on the disclosure front. In post-9/11 America, when it comes to momentous matters of national security, democratic tradition and the rule of law, there is precious little disclosure and no justice and accountability. It’s a bipartisan affliction.

Daphne Eviatar: US Needs to Explain Decision Not to Prosecute Torturers

The Senate torture report released on Tuesday has led to the inevitable calls for prosecution of the government officials who may have committed crimes. Although the Justice Department this week reaffirmed its earlier position that it would not be prosecuting anyone, that leaves a burning question open: why not? [..]

Former Bush administration officials, such as John Rizzo, Dick Cheney and John Yoo, continue to argue either that the acts weren’t torture, or that they didn’t know they were, or that even if they were, they were necessary to prevent another attack.

The Senate report released this week provides a powerful, detailed response citing the CIA’s own documents that should put those arguments to rest. Still, if US officials tortured people, and we know torture is, was and always has been illegal, why isn’t the government prosecuting them?

Maybe there’s some complicated legal reason that isn’t obvious to most of us why the evidence wouldn’t hold up in court. If so, it’s in the government’s interest to explain what that is.

Joe Firestsone: The Lawless Society

The release of the Senate’s torture report reminds us of the central fact of American society, today. Any semblance of equal justice under the law is now gone from what our leaders claim is the world’s leading democracy.

Instead, of a constitutional democracy living under the law. We have a gangster government that fails to enforce the law, but instead prosecutes whistle blowers who make public, violations of it. Here is an off the top of the head list of our continuing and systematic failures to create justice. [..]

This is a crime wave composed of wholesale obstruction of justice. If we can’t end it, then democracy will be gone for good. And, if we take too long to end it, then “the beatings will continue” with much suffering among the vast majority of people.

On the other hand, ending the crime wave won’t be easy, because as we see from my list it results as much from political decisions not to enforce the law, as it does from the violations of law themselves. But this brings us to the political system and its present state of dynamics, which only very rarely results in outcomes that represent the public interest. One of our major parties seems completely consumed by the need to serve financial, defense industry, civil suppression and war making, energy, health industry, and other elites, While the other seems to be a bit less consumed by the need, but also very afraid of acting in ways that are hostile to what they want.

David Cay Johnston: America should be more like Disneyland

The country needs Walt Disney’s optimism and investment in infrastructure and human happiness

America in the 1950s was a land of boundless expectations about the future. We built the interstate highway system, created NASA and invested in middle-class prosperity. It was not the nation of today, in which the commonwealth crumbles around us, while powerlessness and hopelessness define millions of people’s lives.

To get some perspective on what was, what is and what could be, I flew west to spend a day at the original Disneyland in Anaheim, California, for the first time in 25 years.

Were Disneyland a person, it would be eligible next month to take funds out of a retirement account, yet after almost six decades, in which more than 600 million visitors walked down Main Street and over the moat to Sleeping Beauty’s Castle, it still looks brand new. Indeed, it looks better than that hot Monday, July 18, 1955, when my Norwegian grandmother and I were among the first paying visitors. [..]

We pay a huge price for our lack of investment and faith in the future of America. We pay for all the inefficiency of our decrepit infrastructure. We pay with minds that will never be fully developed and with scientific breakthroughs that will enrich other countries. And we pay with lives of daily grind and unpleasantness without hope of respite.

Would that as a people we thought like Walt Disney so we could make America into a happy place.

John Feffer: America Held Hostage

The United States recently conducted a raid in Yemen to free an American hostage. The raid failed. The Navy Seals killed 11 people, including a 10-year-old boy. The kidnappers executed the hostage, journalist Luke Somers. They also killed South African teacher Pierre Korkie. The South African was on the verge of being released as part of a hostage negotiation that the U.S. government didn’t know about.

Somers, meanwhile, was not the subject of any negotiations. The United States has a longstanding policy not to pay ransoms and not to negotiate with terrorists.

Except that sometimes the United States does pay ransom. And sometimes it does negotiate with terrorists. Consistency is the hobgoblin of little countries: Superpowers can do whatever they wish. But the United States enjoys only the illusion of free rein. In fact, America is held hostage by the very way it conducts its foreign policy.

And it’s been that way since the dawn of America’s engagement with the world.

Dec 12 2014

The Breakfast Club (Face Unfraid the Plans That We Made)

Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we’re not too hungover  we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:30am (ET) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.

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This Day in History

A divided U.S. Supreme Court halts the presidential recount in Florida, effectively making Republican George W. Bush the winner.

Breakfast Tunes

Dec 12 2014

On This Day In History December 12

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

December 12 is the 346th day of the year (347th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 19 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1787, Pennsylvania becomes the second state to ratify the Constitution, by a vote of 46 to 23. Pennsylvania was the first large state to ratify, as well as the first state to endure a serious Anti-Federalist challenge to ratification.

Pennsylvania drafted the most radical of the state constitutions during the War for Independence. By excluding Quakers and all other pacifists unwilling to take oaths of allegiance to the Revolutionary cause, a fervently anti-British and anti-Indian Scots-Irish faction had seized power for the first time in the remarkably diverse state. Only when pacifists were again able to exercise the franchise in peacetime was it conceivable that the more conservative U.S. Constitution might pass in Pennsylvania. Large states had the most to lose by joining a strengthened union. James Wilson’s genius in describing the nature of layered sovereignty in a federal republic, using the solar system as an analogy, was invaluable in convincing Pennsylvanians to ratify. Anti-Federalists found themselves in the hypocritical position of criticizing the federal Constitution for failing to codify the freedom of religious practice they had actively denied their fellow citizens during the War for Independence.

Dec 12 2014

TDS/TCR (The Battle of Erebor)

TDS TCR

Five Jellybeans

Hasan Minhaj

Awesome (not)

Tom Blanton

The real news, Suki Kim’s web exclusive extended interview, and next week’s guests below.