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Jul 04 2015

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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Robert Koehler: The Torture of Absolute Power

“The existence of the approximately 14,000 photographs will probably cause yet another delay in the military commissions at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, as attorneys for the defendants demand that all the images be turned over and the government wades through the material to decide what it thinks is relevant to the proceedings.”

This was the Washington Post a few days ago, informing us wearily that the torture thing isn’t dead yet. The bureaucracy convulses, the wheels of justice grind. So much moral relativism to evaluate.

“They did what they were asked to do in the service of our nation,” CIA director John Brennan said at a news conference in December, defending CIA interrogators after a portion of the 6,700-page Senate Intelligence Committee report was made public.

Serving the nation means no more than doing what you’re told.

God bless America. Flags wave, fireworks burst on the horizon. Aren’t we terrific? But this idea we celebrate – this nation, this principled union of humanity – is just a military bureaucracy, full of dark secrets. The darkest, most highly classified secret of all is that we’re always at war and we always will be. And war is an end in itself. It has no purpose beyond its own perpetuation.

This is the context of torture.

Heather Digby Parton: GOP austerity is a disaster of Greek proportions: Sam Brownback, Bobby Jindal & the economic scam of the century

The nation of Greece may be the cradle of democracy but these days it’s getting a harsh lesson in its limitations. Right now, streets are filled with protesters but there are no lines at ATMs because the banks are all closed. Everyone is waiting to see what’s going to happen when the people vote this week-end on a referendum that will decide, essentially, if the country is going to remain in the Euro and accept the ongoing edicts of “the troika” or if it’s going to “Grexit. [..]

All the GOP presidential candidates are running on some version of the austerity platform even as they promise tax cuts for rich and a growing economy that will result in everyone who votes Republican becoming millionaires. They will expect sacrifice, of course. That goes without saying. We have all these “strategic deficits” that will have to be taken care of first. But just as soon as we cut all that fat everything’s going to be just great.

We’ll find out this week-end if the Greek people will decide to absorb more pain in the hopes that the troika will finally be appeased or if they are finally done being Europe’s chosen sin-eaters.  Unfortunately, no matter what happens Greece is unlikely to be the last victim of austerity. Stay tuned for the next major debt crisis unfolding much closer to home: [Puerto Rico All the GOP presidential candidates are running on some version of the austerity platform even as they promise tax cuts for rich and a growing economy that will result in everyone who votes Republican becoming millionaires. They will expect sacrifice, of course. That goes without saying. We have all these “strategic deficits” that will have to be taken care of first. But just as soon as we cut all that fat everything’s going to be just great.

We’ll find out this week-end if the Greek people will decide to absorb more pain in the hopes that the troika will finally be appeased or if they are finally done being Europe’s chosen sin-eaters.  Unfortunately, no matter what happens Greece is unlikely to be the last victim of austerity. Stay tuned for the next major debt crisis unfolding much closer to home: Puerto Rico, where the people in the crosshairs are our fellow American citizens.], where the people in the crosshairs are our fellow American citizens.

Harvey Kaye: Social Democracy Is 100% American

Appearing late last week on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri insisted that Democratic presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont “is too liberal to gather enough votes in this country to become president.” Indeed, responding to the fact that candidate Sanders is not only drawing big, enthusiastic crowds to campaign events in Iowa and New Hampshire, but also pulling within 10 points of frontrunner and party favorite Hillary Clinton in certain state polls, McCaskill said: “It’s not unusual for someone who has an extreme message to have a following.” [..]

Clearly, McCaskill’s attack – which, to me, smacked of red baiting – was intended as a dismissal of Bernie Sanders’s candidacy based on the fact that Sanders, who has repeatedly won elections in Vermont as an independent and then caucused with the Senate Democrats, is a self-described “democratic socialist” or “social democrat.” And of course, we all know that social democracy is not just unpopular in the United States, it is un-American.

Well, think again. Social democracy is 100 percent American. We may be latecomers to recognizing a universal right to health care (indeed, we are not quite there yet). But we were first in creating a universal right to public education, in endowing ourselves with ownership of national parks, and, for that matter, in conferring voting rights on males without property and abolishing religious tests for holding national office.

David Dayen: The end of Europe as we know it: Why Greece is poised to change everything this weekend

Greece will cast its most important vote in a generation on Sunday: Euro or Drachma. In or out.

Every campaign season, self-interested politicians tell Americans that we face “the most important election of our lifetimes.” Only rarely is that literally true, but Sunday’s snap referendum in Greece certainly qualifies. The question before voters, whether to accept a deal that creditors have already taken off the table, is less about text than subtext: This is a vote on the future of the European monetary union, and whether elites will be allowed to continue their reign of bullying and immiseration. In this sense, the Greek people are taking a proxy vote for the rest of the continent. [..]

A No vote, therefore, reveals to European citizens an escape hatch, a way out of a terribly misbegotten currency union. The euro would no longer be irreversible. Maybe elites will try to make the aftermath so painful for Greece that nobody else would follow their path. But they seemingly don’t want to risk the possibility. When one Eurozone member, no matter how small, ends the stranglehold the institutional leadership has in setting their absurdly misguided policies, it sends a beacon to the rest of the continent, indeed the rest of the world, that a consensus which doesn’t work for ordinary people can be abandoned.

Best of all, the people can strike this blow with their ballots. The days of technocrats inserting their judgment for diverse groups of citizens can end. But only if Greece, standing in for their global compatriots, chooses hope over fear.

Eugene Robinson: Trump: A Farce to Be Reckoned With

Anxiety-ridden GOP masterminds will eventually find a way to solve the Trump Problem. Until they do, however, the Republican Party threatens to become as much of a laughingstock as what David Letterman used to call “that thing on Donald Trump’s head.”

Suddenly, according to recent polls, the iconically coiffed mogul has to be taken … how, exactly? Obviously it’s not possible to take Trump seriously, since there’s nothing remotely serious about him or his “campaign,” which is nothing more than a reality-show version of an actual campaign. But if his poll numbers are going to place him in the top tier of Republican candidates, he can’t be ignored.

Let’s call him a farce to be reckoned with.