“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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New York Times Editorial: The Minimum Wage: Getting to $15
The debate over the federal minimum wage in the nascent presidential campaign is really two debates: one among Democrats and one among Republicans.
Democrats are divided on how much to raise the minimum, currently $7.25 an hour. Hillary Rodham Clinton has spoken favorably of a Democratic bill for a raise to $12 by 2020. Senator Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley, the former governor of Maryland, as well as several congressional Democrats, support $15 an hour by 2020. Is $12 adequate to ensure a minimally decent living? Would $15 be economically feasible? [..]
But keeping worker pay low to discourage capital investment is a recipe for a faltering economy and ignores history, in which new technology has both replaced and created jobs.
The job of economic leaders is to help ensure not only rising profits but also rising wages at all pay levels. The Democratic candidates get that a robust minimum wage is vital to that challenge. The Republicans do not.
Thor Benson: Court Ruling Builds a Barrier Against Challenges to NSA Spying on Americans
Back in December of 2013, critics of massive government surveillance appeared to have won a victory in challenging the system in a case called Klayman v. Obama. U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon of the District of Columbia stated that the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of metadata from telephones, a clandestine program exposed by Edward Snowden, was probably a violation of the Fourth Amendment. The case was brought forward by Larry Klayman, founder of the political advocacy group Freedom Watch, and Charles and Mary Strange, the parents of a Navy SEAL and NSA cryptologist who died in Afghanistan.
However, at the end of August, an appeals court in the D.C. Circuit decided that the plaintiffs did not have adequate evidence that their data had been collected and never should have been allowed to pursue the case. Essentially, that court didn’t state that the NSA program was legal, but it suggested this case shouldn’t challenge the program’s legality. [..]
The case now goes back to the district court from the appeals court, and it’s unlikely it will be resolved before the USA Freedom Act takes effect, according to experts contacted by Truthdig. So what do these developments mean for the surveillance state in which we live?
: As Iran Deal Approaches Approval, What Comes Next Remains Vital
To protect the Iran deal from being undermined by the US Congress, getting to 34 supporters in the Senate was crucial. Once that was achieved (and indeed surpassed – now at 37) this past week, the goal shifted to reaching 41. With that number, a filibuster would prevent the “disapprove the deal” resolution from passing, there would be no need for an Obama veto, no need for a Senate vote to uphold the veto, and Congress would be unable to stop the trajectory of diplomacy instead of war.
In the next two weeks, we must focus first on continuing the powerful mobilizations that insured the initial victory over AIPAC, war manufacturers, neo-conservatives and those who led the US to war in Iraq and now want to repeat their crimes in Iran – with the goal of reaching 41 Senators supporting the deal. Once that has been achieved, we then must turn to insuring real implementation of U.S. obligations in the deal, including lifting sanctions, and crucially, looking ahead to what this nuclear deal may make possible in the future: remaking diplomatic relations across the region, new negotiations to end the wars in Syria and Iraq, moving from non- proliferation to real nuclear disarmament by creating a Middle East Nuclear Weapons-Free Zone, and more.
David Zirin: Why, at Least Today, We Should Cheer Tom Brady
Even if the New England Patriots and Tom Brady turn your stomach, anyone who believes in the labor movement should applaud the team’s victory over Roger Goodell.
I am genetically unable to feel anything but antipathy for all Boston-related sports teams. Growing up in New York, the Celtics broke my heart every season with their Larry Bird-era greatness, and the sad-sack Red Sox were like that relative who overstays their welcome, sits on your couch, loses the remote, and never shuts the hell up. The New England Patriots were a merciful afterthought. Not only did they spend the 1980s and early 1990s ranging from middling to awful-save one Super Bowl appearance when they were blown out by the Bears-but they were easily the fourth-most-popular team in their own town (Maybe even fifth, after Harvard crew). That is why the ascension of the dynastic Belichick-Brady Patriots over the last-Jesus-13 years and counting has been like a spreading rash. Boston sports fans have discovered football, and now they have something else to yip about other than Sox spring training or that magical night they played darts with Matt Damon (half of Boston seems to have played darts with Matt Damon). [..]
This preamble is all to say that, as someone who cosigns every criticism of Brady, his team, and the sports fandom in the region they call home, I think today we should all rejoice. Judge Richard Berman’s decision spanked not only Roger Goodell but the very idea that being a boss somehow exempts you from the established norms of industrial-labor law. In the words of The Washington Post‘s Sally Jenkins, Judge Berman “turned Roger Goodell’s desk over and spilled its embarrassingly sparse contents onto the floor. Goodell’s imperious conduct, faulty reasoning and vanity-driven clutching at authority in the Tom Brady case were all exposed in a 40-page decision of measured legal language. Lesson to first-year law students: Collective bargaining agreements don’t give an NFL commissioner the right to act like a petty prince.”
Sonali KolhatkarSonali Kolhatkar; Yes, People Hate Cops-but Aren’t Stooping to Their Level
A manhunt is underway for suspects in the shooting death of a police officer in Chicago. Lt. Charles Joseph Gliniewicz was found shot after chasing three suspects: two white men and one black man.
The news comes just days after a Houston officer named Darren Goforth was killed, apparently in an execution-style shooting. A black man named Shannon Miles has been arrested and charged with capital murder.
Referring to Goforth’s death, Harris County Sheriff Ron Hickman wildly speculated that the officer had been killed because of his uniform and blamed the Black Lives Matter movement for his death, saying, “We’ve heard black lives matter; all lives matter. Well, cops’ lives matter too. At any point where the rhetoric ramps up to the point where calculated, cold-blooded assassination of police officers happen(s), this rhetoric has gotten out of control.” [..]
But actions speak louder than words, and police have made clear just how fast they can turn any encounter into a deadly one, whether it is shooting an unarmed man in the back while he is trying to run away, as in the case of Walter Scott in South Carolina, or the gunning down of a 12-year-old child named Tamir Rice in Cleveland, who was shot “within two seconds of the police arriving.”