“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: Hillary Clinton likely ‘mishandled’ secrets because too much is classified
The minute that private email server Hillary Clinton used for work emails as Secretary of State became a controversy, it was clear that evidence would surface showing that classified information passed through that address – despite her repeated denials.
Of course there was “secret” information in her emails – but not because she had attempted to cover up smoking gun Benghazi emails like conspiracy-addled Republicans hoped. It’s because the US classification system is so insanely bloated and out of control that virtually everything related to foreign policy and national security is, in some way or another, classified. [..]
The late Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart wrote in the famous Pentagon Papers case in 1971:
For when everything is classified, then nothing is classified, and the system becomes one to be disregarded by the cynical or the careless, and to be manipulated by those intent on self-protection or self-promotion.
Almost 44 years later, it’s clear Potter’s statement has never been more true – as Clinton is now finding out.
Jeb Lund: Another mass shooting, and yet again we’re told: don’t politicize, pray
Following Thursday night’s shooting in a Lafayette, Louisiana, movie theater, Governor Bobby Jindal told people: “What we can do now is pray.” He told them today that we can pray. He will tell them tomorrow that they can pray. And then next time this happens, he will tell them again. The repetition is inevitable because this is what happens when the first response and the only response is the last resort.
Jindal spoke last night of the desperation we feel “when there’s no real good reason why this evil should intrude on the lives of families just out for a night of entertainment.” He is a master of gallows humor. Because between the idea and reality, the motion and act, falls the shadow of systemic inaction. As if these killers acted without tools, and as if people like Bobby Jindal do not labor to make those tools both widely available and unaccountable, ghosts within the system just as instantaneously as their victims become. Bobby Jindal has already decided that nothing else can be done – indeed, that God himself divinely ordained an inerrant amended parchment to forbid anything else to be done. So what we can do now is pray.
: Happy Birthday Medicare
Medicare turns fifty next week. It was signed into law July 30, 1965 — the crowning achievement of Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society. It’s more popular than ever.
Yet Medicare continues to be blamed for America’s present and future budget problems.
A few days ago Jeb Bush even suggested phasing it out. Seniors already receiving benefits should continue to receive them, he said, but “we need to figure out a way to phase out this program for others and move to a new system that allows them to have something, because they’re not going to have anything.”
Bush praised Rep. Paul Ryan’s plan to give seniors vouchers instead. What Bush didn’t say was that Ryan’s vouchers wouldn’t keep up with increases in medical costs — leaving seniors with less coverage.
Medicare isn’t the problem. In fact, it’s the solution.
Dave Johnson: Oak Flat: The Latest Land Grab From Native Americans
A “sneak law” attachment to a “must-pass” bill gives sacred Native American land to a foreign mining company. How did this happen?
Do you remember that “Citibank budget,” where a budget bill to avert an imminent government shutdown suddenly had in it a Citibank-written provision deregulating certain risky financial trades? If Congress voted against the budget, the government would shut down, so Citibank got its way? This is how “sneak laws” get through. Usually We the People don’t get a chance to learn about them in time to do something about it, and this was one example.
Another example of this happened in last year’s National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015. On page 1,103 of the 1,648-page bill is a provision giving more than 2400 acres of land in Arizona’s Tonto National Forest to Resolution Copper, which is part of London-based Rio Tinto and Melbourn-based BHP Billiton, giant mining companies. This was done by Arizona Republican Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake and Arizona Republican Rep. Paul Gosar.
The area is known as Oak Flat and is land that is sacred to the San Carlos Apache Tribe and Yavapai-Apache Nation. They compare it to the sacredness of Mt. Sinai in other religions. In 1886, the federal government removed the tribes and expropriated the land.
David Sirota: More 2016 Candidates Embrace the Donald Trump Zeitgeist … Including Hillary Clinton
Since announcing his 2016 White House bid, Donald Trump has been the central focus of the campaign-by one estimate, he has garnered almost 40 percent of all election coverage on the network newscasts. Clearly, The Donald’s attempt to turn 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. into Trump White House has attracted so much attention because the candidate is seen as a Bulworthesque carnival barker who will say anything, no matter how hypocritical, factually unsubstantiated or absurd.
Yet for all the hype he’s generated, Trump is not the only presidential hopeful willing to make utterly mind-boggling statements.
Take Hillary Clinton. Earlier this month, she said, “there can be no justification or tolerance for this kind of criminal behavior” that has been seen on Wall Street. She added that “while institutions have paid large fines and in some cases admitted guilt, too often it has seemed that the human beings responsible get off with limited consequences or none at all, even when they have already pocketed the gains.” Her campaign echoed the message with an email to supporters lauding Clinton for saying that “when Wall Street executives commit criminal wrongdoing, they deserve to face criminal prosecution.”
Clinton’s outrage sounds convincing at first-but then, audacity-wise, it starts to seem positively Trump-like when cross-referenced with campaign finance reports, foundation donations and speaking fees.
Joe Conason: Donald Trump’s Slur Stokes Phony Republican Fury
As soon as Donald Trump brayed that John McCain is “not a war hero” and went on to mock his suffering in North Vietnamese captivity, the righteous reaction of Republicans was entirely predictable. Nearly every would-be presidential candidate in the GOP immediately sought to wrap the loud-mouthed celebrity’s gaffe around his neck.
The incident presented an irresistible opportunity for Trump’s rivals to stoke public indignation against a merciless, infuriating, suddenly formidable opponent. No doubt some of them, like McCain’s close friend Senator Lindsey Graham, were truly incensed by Trump’s slur. Yet much of the outrage on the right seems insincere.
In denigrating a widely admired Vietnam veteran to advance himself, the casino mogul did nothing more or less than what other “conservatives” have long done for political expediency. Nobody should be shocked to hear a Republican chicken-hawk disparaging a heroic vet; such conduct is standard operating procedure.