“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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Advocates for even more war in the Middle East apparently have a new strategy for defeating Isis: allow the US military to kill more civilians. If you think I’m exaggerating, just read their deranged and pathological arguments for yourself.
It began in late May when the New York Times reported that both Iraqi and American officials started complaining the US was too worried about killing civilians, suggesting that the Obama administration shouldn’t be worried that indiscriminately killing innocent people might turn the Iraqi population even more against the US than it already is. (Nevermind that it could be considered a war crime.) As the Times’s Eric Schmitt wrote: “many Iraqi commanders and some American officers say that exercising such prudence with airstrikes is a major reason the Islamic State, also known as Isis or Daesh, has been able to seize vast territory in recent months in Iraq and Syria.” [..]
If the US is being a little more careful about civilian deaths on its third go-around in Iraq – and that’s a giant “if” – we should all be commending that. Perhaps they’ve learned that if our second invasion of Iraq didn’t lead to the deaths of 100,000 Iraqi civilians, we wouldn’t be in this Isis mess in the first place. A call for a return to anything short of only killing enemy soldiers should be called what it is: sociopathic.
Robert Reich: Overtime: Finally, A Break for the Middle Class
The U.S. Department of Labor just proposed raising the overtime threshold — what you can be paid and still qualify to be paid “time-and-a-half” beyond 40 hours per week — from $23,600 a year to $50,400.
This is a big deal. Some 5 million workers will get a raise. (See accompanying video, which we made last month.)
Business lobbies are already hollering this will kill jobs. That’s what they always predict – whether it’s raising the minimum wage, Obamacare, family and medical leave, or better worker safety. Yet their predictions never turn out to be true.
In fact, the new rule is likely to increase the number of jobs. That’s because employers who don’t want to pay overtime have an obvious option: They can hire more workers and employ each of them for no more than 40 hours a week.
When, five years ago, Greece’s crisis began, Europe extended a helping hand. But it was far different from the kind of help that one would have wanted, far different from what one might have expected if there was even a bit of humanity, of European solidarity.
The initial proposals had Germany and other “rescuers” actually making a profit out of Greece’s distress, charging a far, far higher interest rate than their cost of capital. Worse, they imposed conditions on Greece — changes in its macro- and micro-policies — that would have to be made in return for the money. [..]
The situation has some important similarities with Argentina’s 2001 default — and some differences as well. In both countries, recessions turned into depressions as a consequence of austerity policies — making the debt even more unsustainable. In both cases, the policies were demanded as a condition for assistance. Both countries had rigid currency arrangements that gave them no possibility for running expansionary monetary policies during the recession. In both countries, the IMF got it wrong, providing alarmingly flawed forecasts of the consequences of the imposed policies. Unemployment and poverty soared, and GDP plummeted. Indeed, there is even a striking similarity in the magnitude of the fall in GDP and the increase in the unemployment rate.
As the 2016 campaign season gets underway, working families across the country will be very interested in where presidential candidates stand on raising the minimum wage. [..]
Democratic primary candidates Martin O’Malley and Bernie Sanders have come out in favor of raising the minimum wage to $15.00 over the next several years, a living wage that would lift tens of millions of individuals out of poverty. Others have remained mum on the subject, including former Virginia Senator Jim Webb and former Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chaffee.
Perhaps most glaringly silent is the front-runner, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. She has spoken many times about making sure that individuals will make enough money to survive, including most recently at the Fight for $15 conference in June where she said, “It is wrong that so many people stand against you thinking that they can steal your wages with no consequences. That even stacks the deck higher for those at the top.” However, Clinton has declined to comment on whether or not she would support a $15 an hour minimum wage, or when she would like to see a wage hike implemented. In 2007, as a Senator, she supported raising the minimum wage to $7.25 an hour and in May, 2014 she finally came out in favor of raising it to $10.10 an hour.
It’s ironic but not surprising that the European Central Bank decided Sunday to limit its credit to Greece by enough to force the Greek banking system to close.
This has pushed Greece closer to a more serious financial crisis than the country has had in the past five years of austerity-induced depression. Why did the ECB decide to take this harsh, unnecessary and dangerous measure now?
It seems clear that the move is in response to the Greek government’s decision to hold a referendum on whether to accept the last offer from the European authorities outlining conditions for continuing official lending to Greece. The financial problems and inconveniences of this week, caused by the bank holiday, are the European authorities’ way of saying, “Vote as we’ll tell you to, or we can make your lives even more miserable than we have been making them.”