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Paul Krugman at The New York Times explains that Republican leaders are Friends of Fraud:

So the consumer protection bureau serves a vital function. But as I said, Senate Republicans are trying to kill it. [...]

What Republicans are demanding, basically, is that the protection bureau lose its independence. They want its actions subjected to a veto by other, bank-centered financial regulators, ensuring that consumers will once again be neglected, and they also want to take away its guaranteed funding, opening it to interest-group pressure. These changes would make the agency more or less worthless — but that, of course, is the point.

(Eleven more opinions from pundits and editorial boards can be found below the fold...)

Eugene Robinson at the Washington Post is optimistic that Immigration reform is a solvable problem:

Obama could have taken a different tack. He could have written detailed proposed legislation rather than lay out broad principles, and in that bill he could have specified a short, direct path to full citizenship for the undocumented — something Republicans could not conceivably accept.

This would have further damaged the GOP, since Democrats would be able to tell Latino voters, “See? Once again the Republicans killed immigration reform. We’re the ones who are on your side. Stick with us.”

Instead, Obama and a group of influential senators of both parties will try to work together to bring 11 million people out of the shadows.

Ed Morales at The Progressive writes "Obama’s Immigration Speech Strong at Heart":
Why is it easier to ask the undocumented to submit to background checks than someone who wants to buy an assault rifle at a gun show?

What are the implications of an intensified militarization of the border, with the possibility of unmanned drones that have been used in Afghanistan?

Whether the average undocumented immigrant will gain significant advantage in a relatively short amount of time remains to be seen.

Shanta Driver at In These Times writes in "Immigration Reform: The Movement Can Win So Much More":
In 2006, the movement for immigrant rights handed President Bush his first major political defeat, and forever changed the landscape of American politics. Born out of high school walkouts and massive demonstrations that shut down Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, Phoenix and other large and small cities, the movement’s goal was to defeat a draconian piece of federal legislation aimed at criminalizing millions of undocumented immigrants.

The framework for immigration reform unveiled this week by a bi-partisan group of eight lawmakers, and lauded by President Obama, is a clear concession to the power of this movement. But we shouldn't be satisified with rhetoric about secure borders and vague promises of relief for some. When your enemies retreat and offer an olive branch, it's a sign that you can win much, much more. The immigrant rights movement today has a new opportunity to rise up and demand that the new immigration law gives us the equality and full citizenship we deserve.

Kathleen Parker at the Washington Post dares to argue in "Combat women and Congress’s wimps" that Americans' 2-to-1 support for allowing women to serve in combat isn't a good thing but has occurred because indoctrination and media fantasy:
Arguments favoring women in direct combat are perhaps well-intentioned, focusing on fairness, opportunity and pride in certain women’s abilities. Unfortunately, most people who make those arguments are operating on false assumptions. And, shall we say, mis-truths.

It’s not their fault. For the past several decades, the media and popular culture have relentlessly advanced the fantasy narrative of women as groin-kicking, martial-arts divas of doom.

Doyle McManus at the Los Angeles Times writes in "What's the Afghanistan mission?"
Most of the debate in Washington has been about how quickly U.S. troops should leave Afghanistan, and how many should remain after 2014.

But those are the wrong questions. What we should be asking is what kind of outcomes the United States can realistically seek and what are the best ways to get there. Then we can discuss how many troops each of the options would require.

The Editorial Board of the Los Angeles Times concludes in "Grandstanding on gun control" that California "stands to benefit more from enforcing its strict gun laws than from passing new ones that would not address loopholes":
Don't get us wrong, there are some worthwhile bills floating around in Sacramento. But most of the bills either introduced or under proposal seem primarily designed to seize headlines on behalf of individual lawmakers in the aftermath of the Newtown, Conn., school massacre. As much as we support stricter gun-control laws, we don't want just any old bill to pass; we want laws that will help solve demonstrable problems. California already ranks No. 1 in the nation when it comes to strict gun laws, according to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. If the rest of the nation took actions as strong as the Golden State already has, interstate gun trafficking would be far more difficult and the entire country would be immeasurably safer.

So does California need to do even more? To some degree, yes. There are still loopholes that allow felons and the mentally ill to acquire guns, and where possible, these should be closed. But most of the bills that are currently being considered wouldn't address them, and in many ways the state would be better off enforcing the laws already on the books than imposing new ones.

The Editorial Board of the (Raleigh-Durham) News & Observer takes on "A foolish gun bill":
No, apparently they are not kidding. Several Republican legislators in the North Carolina General Assembly are sponsoring a measure to allow concealed handguns in restaurants and in bars that serve enough food to be considered primarily eating establishments. What can we say? [...]

And then there’s another legislative proposal to allow local school boards to appoint school marshals who would complete a training course and then carry guns on campuses.

What can we say?

Just this: No and no.

Heidi Moore at The Guardian says in "The unemployment crisis that lies behind the US monthly jobs report" that the while the situation continues to improve, the fact that millions are still out of work is likely to be treated not as a crisis but as an inconvenience. although she underestimates the negative impacts, she does point out that many getting jobs aren't getting "good, well-paying ones":
Bloomberg economist Joseph Brusuelas pointed out that the lowest-paid jobs are going the fastest: "the composition of jobs continues to reflect the low-wage bias in hiring that is one of the primary characteristics of the current business cycle," he wrote. Additionally, at least 8 million people are working part-time because they can't get full-time work.

For young people, the picture is even worse, as nonprofit organization Generation Opportunity pointed out in their latest Millennial Jobs report. They estimate that the youth unemployment rate, the rate for 18-29 year-olds, last month was 13%; an additional 1.7 million young adults don't even count as part of the labor force, they point out, because they've given up looking for work.

Sarah Jane Geller at High Country News says in "Who is writing New Mexico's water regulations":
New Mexico environmental regulators under Republican governor Susana Martinez are overseeing attempts to roll back a suite of groundwater regulations. While the administration’s argument for loosening rules on dairies, mines and oil and gas marches to the drumbeat of jobs, jobs, jobs, all they have to do is look in their own backyards to see the cost and grief water polluters run amuck eventually inflict on communities, and taxpayers.
Rick Perlstein at The Nation writes on "Survivalism":
There’s nothing new under the wingnut sun—only that, these days, you’re more likely to find ideas that once upon a time might have got you laughed off as a kook aired out in front of respectable congressional committees.
Richard Florida at the New York Daily News urges Obama, build a lasting urban legacy:
The President needs to make cities a centerpiece of his remaining time in office. And what better way to do that than to establish a new cabinet-level Department of Cities?

It is seldom acknowledged by our political culture, which routinely and reflexively sees small-town America as the “real America,” but the well-being of the United States is increasingly determined by the well-being of its cities. [...]

If the President takes the lead, the products of those urban laboratories can be harnessed, their progress accelerated.

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