“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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New York Times Editorial: The Violent Legacy of Chicago’s Police
Rahm Emanuel inherited a Police Department with a history of serious misconduct when he became mayor of Chicago four years ago. Mr. Emanuel tried to break with the past on Wednesday when he co-sponsored a proposal in City Council that would provide reparations to scores of people who were systematically tortured by the police during the 1970s and ’80s under the infamous police commander Jon Burge.
On the same day, in a separate case that is still fresh in the public’s mind, the Council awarded $5 million to the family of Laquan McDonald, a black teenager who was shot 16 times by a police officer in October. The shooting spawned a federal investigation, rattled public trust and raised troubling accusations of a police cover-up. The Council’s decision to pay was made before a lawsuit was filed, but this cannot be the end of the case. The city needs to release a police dash-cam video of the shooting that it has withheld on grounds that releasing it might interfere with the federal investigation. [..]
The city has declined to release the police video because of the continuing investigation. But that’s a flimsy excuse. The public deserves to see this evidence, and the longer the delay the greater the suspicion against a department that has a history of violating the public’s trust.
Dean Baker: The Simple Progressive Economic Agenda for Hillary Clinton (or Anyone Else)
While many policies will be needed to improve the situation of the poor and middle class, there are three simple ones that could make a big difference: a more competitive dollar, a Federal Reserve Board committed to full employment and a financial transactions tax to rein in Wall Street. If Clinton or any other presidential candidate wants to level the playing field, these policies would be a great place to start.
The competitive dollar is an issue that is actually quite simple, but obscured by bad reporting in the media. The value of the dollar relative to other currencies is by far the main determinant of the country’s deficit. We currently have a trade deficit of more than $500 billion a year (at three percent of GDP).
This trade deficit is money that is creating demand elsewhere rather than in the United States. This $500 billion trade deficit has the same impact on the economy as if households or businesses took $500 billion from their income each year and stuffed it under their mattress rather than spend it. This is a main reason that the economy remains well below full employment seven years after the collapse of the housing bubble.
Last week the House Republicans took an amazing vote. They literally voted to take food from the mouths of hungry children in order to give a huge tax break to children who were born with a silver spoon in theirs — the sons and daughters of multi-millionaires.
I am not exaggerating. The GOP voted to eliminate the estate tax. But the estate tax only applies to estates larger than $5.4 million for an individual and $10.9 million for couples. Eliminating the estate tax would benefit only 5,500 families in America (.02 percent of the population). And 75 percent of the benefits would flow to children who inherit estates of $20 million or more.
And some of those are huge fortunes. Eight Americans earned $10 billion in income in 2013 alone. That’s enough income to pay 200,000 average American workers.
Jeff Biggers: There would be more regulation of coal mining if it didn’t just affect ‘hillbillies’
For many in central Appalachia, the fight against reckless strip mining operations recalls a popular t-shirt in West Virginia: “Save the Endangered Hillbilly.” It’s not really a joke; decades of contempt and disregard for rural mountaineers underscore an existence no less threatened than local wildlife.
Appalachia has become a code word for our nation’s sacrifice zones. “Coal mining has been destroying human and wildlife communities in Appalachia for more than 100 years”, according to Tierra Curry, a southeastern Kentucky native and a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity. The Center’s lawsuit against the US Fish and Wildlife Service in 2012 resulted in a recent proposal to list two species of fish impacted by mining under the Endangered Species Act. [..]
This disregard for the inhabitants of the region is a big reason why – despite a mounting health and humanitarian crisis – there has still not been federal intervention to put an end to the public health disaster wreaked by mountaintop removal mining.
GAry Younge: The Cornel West-Michael Eric Dyson feud is petty. Black people are dying in the streets
Shortly before the last presidential election, Columbia political science professor, Fred Harris, bemoaned in an essay: “Were Harold Cruse, the author of the unsparing 1967 book The Crisis of the Negro Intellectual, still alive, he would despair at the state of black intellectual life.” [..]
As if on cue, Michael Eric Dyson, of Georgetown University, published a searing take-down of Cornel West, formerly of Harvard and Princeton and now at New York’s Union Theological Seminary, in The New Republic on Sunday bemoaning West’s “dramatic plummet from his perch as a world-class intellectual”. [..]
At the best of times this would be an internal dispute between two well-paid tenured professors that barely resonated beyond the academe and made precious little impact within it. But these are not the best of times. Black people are being shot dead in the street almost daily by trigger-happy cops and two ostensibly smart men, who have both produced excellent work and who pride themselves on being engaged academics responsive to the needs of the black community, are firing broadsides at each other.