Paul Krugman at The New York Times generously calls Republicans "mean-spirited class warriors" in his column Free to Be Hungry:
[I]s SNAP in general a good idea? Or is it, as Paul Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget Committee, puts it, an example of turning the safety net into “a hammock that lulls able-bodied people to lives of dependency and complacency.”Eugene Robinson at the Washington Post writes Obama must not yield on Obamacare, debt ceiling or shutdown:
One answer is, some hammock: last year, average food stamp benefits were $4.45 a day. Also, about those “able-bodied people”: almost two-thirds of SNAP beneficiaries are children, the elderly or the disabled, and most of the rest are adults with children.
Beyond that, however, you might think that ensuring adequate nutrition for children, which is a large part of what SNAP does, actually makes it less, not more likely that those children will be poor and need public assistance when they grow up. And that’s what the evidence shows.
I happen to believe that Obamacare is a great accomplishment, providing access to medical insurance to millions of Americans who lack it and bringing the nation much closer to universal health care. It’s an imperfect law, to be sure, but it could be made much better with the kind of constructive tinkering that responsible leaders performed on Social Security and Medicare.David Dayen at The New Republic laments over The Big Budget Battle the GOP Has Already Won:
Even if Obamacare were tremendously flawed, however, it would be wrong to let a bunch of extremist ideologues hold the country hostage in this manner. If Republicans want to repeal the reforms, they should win the Senate and the presidency. If not, they’re welcome to pout and sulk all they want — but not to use extortion to get their way.
Nobody expected sequestration to trigger this year, until it did at the end of February. With those negotiation rooms silent and no movement on a budget deal, the big, dumb, arbitrary cuts to discretionary programs appear locked in place for the duration of President Obama’s term, and probably beyond. And that’s terrible news for the economy.More pundits can be found below the fold.
Laura Secor at The New Yorker discusses Why President Obama should meet Iran's president:
The Obama Administration has an opportunity, next week, to strengthen Rouhani’s hand by demonstrating that it takes his diplomatic appeal seriously. The symbolism of a cordial encounter at the United Nations—or, better, a Presidential meeting—could signal that Washington recognizes the sea change in Tehran. Already, the exchange of letters between the two Presidents has raised hopes for direct communication at the highest levels. If, on the other hand, American officials communicate skepticism in their public statements, if they suggest that Rouhani is insincere or not empowered to follow through, or if they continue to emphasize the threat of force, they risk making his diplomatic initiative look foolish and thus strengthening the hand of his most radical adversaries.The Editorial Board of Haaretz concludes that the legally mandated demolition of the village and prevention of humanitarian aid from reaching the villagers are inhumane acts:
Early last week, Civil Administration forces destroyed another village in the Jordan Valley, Khirbet Makhoul. Arriving at the site shortly after the demolition, Haaretz reporters witnessed the approximately 100 shocked villagers, flocks without their pens or water, and dozens of ruined buildings.David Moberg at In These Times says in A New Direction For the Fed? that Janet Yellen will be a tepid reformer:
Since that time, the army has forcibly prevented the proffering of any humanitarian aid to the now-shelterless villagers and their flocks. The army immediately demolished two huts built by volunteers and prohibited the unloading of tents trucked to the site by the International Red Cross and the aid group ACTED. [...]
This law is the law of the occupation, and the demolition of the village and prevention of humanitarian aid from reaching the villagers are inhuman acts.
Progressives want a Fed that focuses on the Main Street economy and rigorously regulates the predators of Wall Street, not one that bails big banks out when they fail and defraud. Its critics, led in the Senate by Bernard Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren, want the Fed above all to aid in job creation. They ask: Why can’t the Fed loan directly at the low rates they offer the banks for infrastructure improvements or other public, job-creating purposes, rather than give the money to banks that are likely either to charge extortionate rates or speculate? (The Fed could, of course, but that would upset bankers and conservatives.) Progressives also want tougher regulation—including a return to the separation of investment and commercial banking enacted during the New Deal, and in most cases, a breakup of the biggest banks.Doyle MacManus at the Los Angeles Times writes that visiting the House of Representatives these days is like hanging out in an alternate universe as the countdown to a shutdown ticks away:
There is, however, an alternative to breakups: The largest banks could be subject to increasingly strict controls or, if they fail or pose a systemic risk, they could be effectively nationalized.
This may sound like just another round of Washington's recurring impasse, but this time the prospects for a quick solution look worse. The Republicans have chosen to demand the one concession Obama is least likely to make: the crippling of Obamacare. And the GOP's chief deal maker, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), is battling a primary challenge on his right, which means he's not eager to play the role of middleman this year.Yasmin Alibhai Brown at The Independent writes that Liberal defenders of the veil have lost their way:
Round two of the veil debate. I would prefer not to get into the ring again but must, not because I’m a stubborn mule, but because so much is at stake. Sorry to those Muslim friends and foes who think we should not talk about the veil, that it distracts from “real issues”, is an excuse to attack Muslims, an encouragement to racists, an infringement of personal freedom, whipping up hysteria over “just clothes, only worn by a minority”, something which is not the business of non-Muslims and part of a sinister secularist manifesto and so on.Gary Younge at The Nation writes in George Zimmerman’s Way Is the American Way that instead of focusing on the psychology of Trayvon Martin’s killer, we should be examining the meaning of his actions:
They are either frighteningly complacent or in denial, so too are white, black and brown liberals on the left. Were their own daughters to take up the niqab, would they cheerfully accept the decision? Like hell they would.
The Zimmerman verdict came down the opening weekend of Fruitvale Station, a film about Oscar Grant’s shooting at the hands of Oakland police. Six weeks earlier, Darius Simmons, 13, was shot dead in front of his mother by a 75-year-old neighbor who accused him of burgling his home. Two months after Zimmerman’s verdict, Jonathan Ferrell was shot dead by police after seeking help following a car crash. When he knocked on a stranger’s door asking for help, the homeowner didn’t call the ambulance, but hit the panic button.You can almost hear the sighs of resignation James Warren's piece at the New York Daily News, Pushing the Gitmo boulder:
There are only so many isolated incidents you can talk about before you have to start talking about a trend. We don’t need to pontificate about what kind of person Zimmerman is because we know what kind of country America is. Racial profiling—and its lethal consequences—may or may not be “his way” but it’s the American way.
You remember Guantanamo, don’t you? If not, it may explain why Durbin, long the only senator to back Obama’s 2008 presidential run, is throwing pebbles into the Potomac.
The matter is out of sight, out of mind. It involves people we don’t know, from countries we can’t find on a map, linked to a religion that makes some of us nervous. [...]
It reminds me of an occasional Obama refrain: “This is not who we are.” Right now, Guantanamo is.