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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Trevor Timm: CIA’s torture experts now use their skills in secret drones program

The controversy over the CIA’s secret drone program has gone from bad to worse this week. We now know that many of those running it are the same people who headed the CIA’s torture program, the spy agency can bomb people unilaterally without the president’s explicit approval and that the government is keeping the entire program classified explicitly to prevent a federal court from ruling it illegal. And worst of all, Congress is perfectly fine with it.

The New York Times reported on Sunday that many of those in charge of the CIA’s torture program – the same people whose names were explicitly redacted from the Senate’s torture report in order to avert accountability – “have ascended to the agency’s powerful senior ranks” and now run the CIA drone program under the agency’s Counterterrorism Center. Rather than being fired and prosecuted, they have been rewarded with promotions.

Lonnae O’Neal
: Bothered by riots? Where’ve you been – for decades?

Question: Who thinks looting is bad?

Raise your hand if you know what happened to the Wall Street types who broke into the American economy, exploited every financial loophole, melted down mortgages, made off with people’s retirement funds, leaving taxpayers to bail them out in 2008.

Question: Do those billions constitute opportunistic looting?

Follow-up question: Do you think people in the inner city don’t notice what some of those folks ran out of the store with?

Raise your hand if you think the people streaming through the streets of Baltimore are thugs.

If so, question, and this is just an aside, then what word will some pundits use for Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman when he gets to bragging?

Raise your hand if you remember the 2011 uprisings in Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Syria, Bahrain and Yemen to protest corrupt leaders, poverty, lack of jobs and systems that brutalize citizens, leaving them feeling unheard.

Nod if you understand that while we convene grand juries, open federal investigations and debate police rights and wrongs, sometimes the human condition spills beyond that debate.

And if you understand, deeply, that at some point, every pressurized system demands a release. Ferguson, New York, Cleveland, South Carolina, Sanford and Baltimore. Keep nodding.

Raise your hand if you think some might just call this the Urban Spring.

Matter of fact, holler if you hear me.

Bernie Sanders: So-called ‘free trade’ policies hurt US workers every time we pass them

Albert Einstein said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. As the middle class continues to decline and the gap between the very rich and everyone else grows wider, we should keep that in mind as Congress debates the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the largest trade agreement in American history.

Trade deals like the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta), the Central American Free Trade Agreement (Cafta) and the granting of Permanent Normal Trade Relations to China have been abysmal failures: they allowed corporations to shut down operations in the US and move work to low-wage countries where people are forced to work for pennies an hour; and they are one of the reasons that we have lost almost 60,000 factories in our country and millions of good-paying jobs since 2001.

The TPP is simply the continuation of a failed approach to trade – an approach which benefits large multinational corporations and Wall Street, but which is a disaster for working families. The TPP must be defeated, but our overall trade policy must also change for corporations to start investing in America and creating jobs here again, and not just in China and other low wage countries.

Dean Baker: The stock market isn’t in another bubble – yet

The stock market has recovered sharply from its lows during the 2008 financial crisis. All the major indices are at or near record highs. This has led many analysts to worry about a new bubble in the stock market. These concerns are misplaced.

Before going through the data, I should point out that I am not afraid to warn of bubbles. In the late 1990s, I clearly and repeatedly warned of a stock bubble. I argued that its collapse would likely lead to a recession, end the Bill Clinton-era budget surpluses and pose serious problems for pensions. In the last decade I sounded the dangers of the housing bubble as early as 2002. I recognize the dangers of bubbles and have been at the forefront of those calling attention to them. However, it is necessary to view the picture with clear eyes and not sound the alarm at every hint of froth. [..]

It is hard to make the case that current market valuations are driving the economy. Consumption is somewhat high relative to disposable income but not hugely out of line with past levels. And there is no investment boom in aggregate, even if some social media spending might be misguided.

This means that if the market were suddenly to plunge by 20 to 30 percent, we will see some unhappy shareholders, but it is unlikely to sink the economy. In short, this is not Round 3 of the bubble economy.

Jessica Valenti: College rapists should not be able to transfer schools to skip consequences

A bit of good news for college rapists: if you’ve been accused of sexual assault and don’t feel like sticking around to deal with the consequences on campus, you can simply transfer schools and no one will be the wiser. Thanks to a privacy law for students, young men accused of rape don’t even have to disclose the complaint to their new school.

Since we know that college rapists commit an average of six rapes during their time at school, these colleges – and this policy – are making it easier for sexual offenders to move on without consequence. And onto new victims. [..]

And while transfer applications also frequently ask students to reveal if they’ve been convicted of a crime, suspended or expelled, the fact that so few college rapists are punished beyond writing a research paper or letter of apology means it’s unlikely a rape accusation would ever be revealed.

Despite the threat of letting rapists simply college-hop to avoid detection and punishment, educational and even anti-rape activists are nervous about the idea of mandating disclosure of disciplinary infractions.