“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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Trevor Timm: Congress must not abdicate its duty to authorize or declare war
Congress has all but given up on voting to legally authorize the war against Isis, despite the fact that US-led military strikes against the group have been going on for nine months already and span multiple countries. By doing so, our representatives are saying to the next president, whether he or she is a Republican or Democrat: feel free go to war wherever you want, against whomever you want. We have no power to stop you.
Despite the fact that the US plans on conducting airstrikes on Isis in Iraq and Syria for years, the Chicago Tribune reported on Monday that key members in the House and Senate have resigned themselves to the fact that there’s virtually no chance of Congress agreeing on any sort of bill to constrain or legalize the Obama administration’s bombing campaign in the Middle East.
Out of cowardness or worry they might actually have to make a consequential decision, Congress has abdicated their responsibility under Article II, Section 8 of the Constitution – not to mention the War Powers Act – to authorize or declare war. So when President Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio decides to unilaterally bomb Iran in 2017, remember this moment, when members of Congress willingly gave up one of the most important responsibilities they have because they were too terrified to take a stand one way or another.
Richard (RJ) Eskow: The Left Matters – Now, More Than Ever
Some leading Democrats seem to have a love-hate relationship with the left. Sure, progressives seem to have more influence than ever in the party this year, at least rhetorically. But it doesn’t look like the friction will be going away any time soon.
President Obama has been escalating his war of words with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and her allies, reigniting a burning resentment he last let slip in 2010. Hillary Clinton has adopted more progressive rhetoric, but her unwillingness to fight for specific policies has left activists frustrated.
Clearly, the left matters. Why, then, is it so difficult for progressives to get a seat at the table? [..]
The activist left isn’t important because of its numbers. It’s important because its members are the canaries in the coalmine for an unresponsive political process. A Democratic Party that patronizes them will also fail to reach the disaffected majority.
The left shares something else with that majority: it’s heard a lot of empty promises. Many (though not all) progressives will vote for the Democrats once again in 2016, even if they’re dissatisfied. But it will take more than rhetoric to win millions of other alienated voters. It will take commitment – and action.
Want to know how to do that? Once again, the left can point the way.
To get good public policy, ask the right questions
Our federal government says that it’s safe to build a giant high-pressure natural gas pipeline 105 feet from the Indian Point nuclear power plant complex along the Hudson River near New York City. But its reasons for making that judgment are secret.
How this decision was reached illustrates a basic public policy problem vexing our nation: We often ask the wrong questions. How we frame public policy questions often shapes the answers. And if we get the answers wrong because we didn’t ask the right questions in the first place, death and disease, needless accidents and a less prosperous future will result.
In the case of a pipeline 42 inches in diameter moving natural gas under more than 800 pounds of pressure per square inch, the wrong question is ‘What are the odds that the pipeline will explode right where it passes a nuclear power plant?’
The right question asks whether the pipeline could be laid on an alternate route so that in the extremely unlikely event that it did explode it would pose no danger of a nuclear plant meltdown that would turn metropolitan New York City into a deadly radioactive zone.
Sen. Barbara Boxer: The Middle Class Needs Help — Not a Fast Track to Trade Deals
They say timing is everything in life. Well, if that’s true, the timing of this legislation to approve fast-track trade authority could not be worse for middle-class families.
The middle class is having a terribly hard time — perhaps the worst time in modern history. In California, a new study just found that our state’s lowest paid workers have seen their real wages decline 12 percent since 1979.
Our middle class needs help — not a fast track to trade deals that could threaten their jobs, their wages, their health and the environment.
The last time Congress debated such sweeping trade legislation was nearly 25 years ago when we took up the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA. Now, as the Congress considers Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) legislation and the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), I am hearing the same arguments all over again.
Back then, supporters of NAFTA promised it would create jobs, raise wages and help our entire economy. Well, we know from history how NAFTA turned out. In fact, we’re still living with the consequences.
Dave Johnson: Let the Public Read the Completed Parts of the Trans-Pacific Partnership
Basic facts about the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) are under public dispute. Fast track must not be approved until this is cleared up. We the People deserve to know what is being voted on with fast track. [..]
One of “our nation’s values” is supposed to be that We the People are part of the process. Congress is currently in the voting process for fast track. But the public has no idea what is in the TPP, and little idea that this huge trade agreement, “rewriting the rules of doing business in the 21st century” is even being finalized!
Let us – We, the People – see the agreement before Congress decides whether to essentially preapprove it by voting on fast track. At least let us see the parts that are completed, and give us good reasons why we can’t see the rest.
Jed Lund: Is there anyone who won’t run for the Republican nomination in 2016?
If you are over 35 and a Republican, you are allowed one (1) free presidential campaign announcement. It’s like the coupon for a free waxpaper cup of Pepsi at a church picnic: you just get one for showing up. These are the rules, which is why, in the next few weeks, everyone else in the Republican Party will launch their campaign to not become president of the United States, because it is their right.
But after all the legitimate major contenders for the nomination (if not the presidency), we’re now left with the unappealing oddments, the candidate-shaped things that make you go, “What the fuck is that?” This section of the Republican presidential candidacy spread is like the items at the salad bar that you’ll never put on your plate, but there they are, at the end, between the baskets of Saltines and the plastic jugs of ranch, Thousand Island and whatever – turned – into – bleu – cheese dressing.
Who or what the hell are these people? And why?